The Bangkok meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) ended this week, with no progress among countries to commit to increasing the level of emission reductions for this decade. Why are the climate talks stalemated and what should be done to break the deadlock?
Would that the Chinese rich were addicted to designer drugs instead of ivory.
This past month was the hottest July in the United States ever recorded. In India, the monsoon rains are long delayed, resulting in the country’s second drought in four years. Triple-digit temperatures in New Delhi and other cities have already provoked the worst power outages in the country’s history and the expected bad harvest is likely to slice at least 5 percent from GDP growth.
Down the road only a few generations, the millennium of Magna Carta, one of the great events in the establishment of civil and human rights, will arrive. Whether it will be celebrated, mourned, or ignored is not at all clear.
On July 5, South Korea’s Supreme Court overturned lower court rulings against the Ministry of National Defense for proceeding with construction of a naval base on Jeju Island without an environmental impact assessment (EIA). It also ruled that the governor of Jeju had the authority to change the designation of absolute preservation areas. This ruling wasn’t just a major blow to residents of Gangjeong village where the navy base is being built but also to the many voiceless marine organisms. As you read this, massive caissons the size of four-story buildings are about to drop on soft coral reefs, forever destroying local marine ecosystems home to several endangered species.
The mood inside the Windsor Barra hotel seemed more buoyant than in many of the over 3,000 other side-meetings taking place parallel to the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD). Here, at a suburb far from the favelas shadowing Copacabana or Ipanema, CEOs and other top officials from some of the world’s largest corporations patted each other’s back and exhorted each other to be even more ambitious. Speaker after speaker spoke of how indispensable business is to building the ‘green economy’ – the new economic model that UN officials and developed-country governments were aggressively promoting in this conference.
Will the Black Sea flooding be President Putin’s Katrina?
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s first woman president, has been praised internationally for her efforts to address war crimes from the country’s civil war and for negotiating significant debt relief, even winning the Noble Peace Prize as a result. However, a briefing held last Thursday by IPS’ Foreign Policy in Focus coinciding with Sirleaf’s recent visit to the United States drew attention to areas that Sirleaf has failed to adequately address. The event was well attended, with more people than could fit into our conference room.
In 2000, I traveled to India, invited to speak at the organizing meeting of the Indian Coalition for Nuclear and Disarmament and Peace. About 600 organizations, including some 80 from Pakistan gathered in New Delhi to strategize for nuclear disarmament. India had quietly acquired the bomb and performed one nuclear test at Pokhran in 1974 but it was in 1998 that all hell broke out, with India exploding five underground tests, swiftly followed by six in Pakistan.
Conservative activist Andrew Breitbart, who died earlier this year, created an empire of websites that attack big, fat liberal targets. There’s Big Government, Big Hollywood, and Big Journalism. In 2010, he intervened into foreign policy with his final effort, Big Peace. Not surprisingly, he never got around to launching websites that attacked Big Money or Big Military. Nor did Big Mouth ever appear, for that would have been a wholly uncharacteristic foray into self-criticism.