Re: Inter. Relations/Politics

Is there an environmental answer?

May 2, 2007
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The difficulty with solving an environmental issue is when you try to solve one segment it may hurt another.  For example, ethanol could provide cheaper, more friendly fuel, but also increase the price of beef as less acreage is used to grow cornfeed for cattle and so on.  Now it seems that turning to biofuels could damage tropical rain forests according to the European Union.  So pick your poison.  Is it worth depleting rain forests?  The EU has cHowever, EU leaders last month “made a firm commitment that biofuels should account for 20 percent of vehicle fuels by 2020.”  Another major is question to ask is how much energy goes into biofuel production?  Some sourcesof biofuel use more energy production than others.  Some so much that there would be zero benefit. A major source of today’s enviromental problems is that demand and food and energy continues to increase.  When it comes to to choosing an environmental strategy  you  need to find the solution with the greatest benefit and lowest oppurtunity cost.   There is no single earth saving, global warming solving solution.  New technologies will be developed to continue to open doors.

Some resource needs to be discovered that is naturally renewable at a pace that can keep up with the demand for consumption. Oil is ver slow, there is just a great quanitity of it.  But the natural process to create it is too slow to replenish when it’s used up.  Same for the rain forests, full of biodiversity, an important value.

More links on the subject of the environment


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Bush like Lyndon Johnson?

April 24, 2007
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George Bush can be compared Lyndon Johnson and the way he handled the Vietnam War.  According to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid D-Nev Johnson ordered troop escalation in order to save his political legacy only tosee casualties continue to rise in a losing battle.

Is that what is going on today?  What does it mean to Bush and his name in the history books if this conflict ends the way Vietnam did?  Reid also called the war “lost” and mentioned it’s not the time for patience.  He’s right and Iagree with his comparisons.  I eventually see it ending the same way and people looking back at the number lost and saying why?  Does the administration care?  I am very curious about the actions Bush takes in his last few months of office.  I have a feeling he won’t hold anything back.  The polls never mattered to him anyway.  He continues to threaten to veto any bill that comes his way calling for a timeline of a pullout.

In the media, we don’t here what the troops in the actual field say, who are serving second tours of duty in Baghdad.  What are their honest feelings about this war….?

info taken from:

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Iraq = Al Queda

April 10, 2007
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I’m stepping outside my topic bopundaries a bit, but this article was interesting to me.  I’d always beed confused on the correlation between terrorism and the war with Iraq, and I still am! But at least now I know what communication went on between the top government officials.

It started because Rumsfeld was allowed leeway to assign work and direct orders

“In excerpts released in February, Thomas F. Gimble, the acting inspector general of the Pentagon, criticized the effort as an alternative intelligence-assessment operation and denounced it as improper. However, Gimble said, the intelligence operation was not illegal or unauthorized because Pentagon directives allowed Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz to assign the work.”

It appears much of the intelligence gathering was done outside the CIA. Much of this stuff is being declassified and the full report by the inspector general mentions, “how a group of Pentagon officials and on-loan intelligence analysts were able to shunt aside contradictory reports and persuade top administration officials that they had powerful evidence of connections between Saddam’s regime and al-Qaida.”

Those eho played a part in this mess refute any wrongdoing by saying the CIA should be protected from criticism.  (Imagine if that was true for the executive branch or any gov. department.)

There is still so many holes to fill here but thankfully documents are starting to be unearthed.

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Goin Green in BC

March 20, 2007
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British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell hasproposed to create a Pacific Coast bloc of states to become more environmentally friendly.  This is wise because waiting on the federal government will take too long for large scale action.  Other tasks include decreasing reliance on coal and moving toward wind power, leasing hybrid cars to the government, and decreasing the influence of the oil and gas industry among others.  Cambell wants to make B.C the “Continents greenest spot.”  He is currently meeting with Gov. Shwarzenneger in Santa Barbara.  With these advances BC is leading North America.

A Seattle based company has created software that shuts off and starts computers onits own.  The point is to cxonserve energy… how many computers do you think this school leaves on at night?  Or a company with 100’s of cubicles areound the country?  Every major institution should get into this.  Take a look:

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Brits look to spur global action

March 19, 2007
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Tony Blair and the UK are hoping that tough sanctions on CO2 emissions will pave the way for China and the US to do the same. Included in the bill is an emissions cap and the creation of seperate governing body that will reset the cap and police it every 5 years.  This is most likely a strategic move by Blair in preparing for the upcoming election, to gain favor in domestic matters while foreign policy has been unpopular.

Also, last week the EU Union as a whole agreed to produce 20% of its energy through renewable resources, decreasing emissions and have less environmental impact.

The EU uses am emissions trading system that assigns quotas outlining the maximum emissions alloted and can buy and sell the allowances.  The US on the other hand does not use the trading system but puts a cap on emissions.

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A change in the weather

March 2, 2007
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A few years back I took a second fishing trip to Sitka, Alaska.  The town is  located in a bay along the southern strip of coast.  This was late summer and the salmon usually make there way into the bay toward the streams but they were staying out at sea waiting for the bay water cool.  The outside temp was 70 degrees F and the water in the bay was 60 F.  It was strange…abnormal

Now microbes are making there way into Alaskan waters.  This is species invasion and causing problems for oysters…What’s gonna stop it?  This is a direct result of global warming.

Alaskan seafood under the weather

By Jia-Rui Chong
Los Angeles Times

CORDOVA, Alaska — Oysterman Jim Aguiar had never had to deal with the bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus in his 25 years working the frigid waters of Prince William Sound.

The dangerous microbe infected seafood in warmer waters, like the Gulf of Mexico. Alaska was way too cold.

But the sound was gradually warming. By summer 2004, the temperature had risen just enough to poke above the crucial 59-degree mark. Cruise-ship passengers who had eaten local oysters were soon coming down with diarrhea, cramping and vomiting — the first cases of Vibrio food poisoning in Alaska that anyone could remember.

As scientists later determined, the culprit was not just the bacterium but the warming that allowed it to proliferate.

“This was probably the best example to date of how global-climate change is changing the importation of infectious diseases,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, acting chief of epidemiology at the Alaska Division of Public Health, who published a study on the outbreak.

The spread of human disease has become one of the most worrisome subplots in the story of global warming.

Incremental temperature changes have begun to redraw the distribution of bacteria, insects and plants, exposing new populations to diseases that they have never seen before.

A report from the World Health Organization estimated that in 2000 about 154,000 deaths around the world could be attributed to disease outbreaks and other conditions sparked by climate change.

The temperature change has been small, about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 150 years, but it has been enough to alter disease patterns across the globe:

• In Sweden, fewer winter days below 10 degrees and more summer days above 50 degrees have encouraged the northward movement of ticks, which has coincided with an increase in cases of tick-borne encephalitis since the 1980s.

• Researchers have found that poison ivy has grown more potent and lush because of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

• In Africa, mosquitoes have been slowly inching up the slopes around Mount Kenya, bringing malaria to high villages that had never been exposed before.

“It’s going to get very warm,” said Andrew Githeko, a vector biologist who heads the Climate and Human Health Research Unit at the Kenya Medical Research Institute in Kisumu. “That’s going to mean a huge difference to malaria.”

Githeko, 49, grew up in the damp, chilly central highlands in a tiny village near the town of Karatina, about 5,700 feet above sea level. On clear days, he could see the glaciers on Mount Kenya, the second-highest peak in Africa at 17,058 feet.

When he was a child, lowland diseases such as malaria were unknown in Karatina. But perhaps 10 years ago, a smattering of cases began to appear.

He had long ago left his home to study the great plagues of Africa — Rift Valley fever, malaria, cholera and others. After the appearance of malaria in the highlands, Githeko dispatched a colleague to collect mosquito larvae in puddles and streams around Mount Kenya, some as high as 6,300 feet. Tests later identified some of the mosquitoes as Anopheles arabiensis, one of the species that carry malaria.

Githeko’s findings, published in 2006, marked the highest A. arabiensis breeding site ever recorded in Kenya and was the first published report of malaria infections in the central highlands, he said.

He knew by watching Mount Kenya’s gradually disappearing glaciers that his world was warming and that lowland diseases would eventually work their way higher. “But we did not expect this to happen so soon,” he said.

Githeko’s work has been echoed in a small number of studies around the world.

In 1996, health authorities reported a human case of tick-borne encephalitis in the Czech village of Borova Lada, elevation 3,000 feet. Until then, the Ixodes rinicus tick, which carries the disease, had never been seen above 2,600 feet.

Milan Daniel, a parasitologist at the Institute for Postgraduate Medical Education in Prague who has been studying the movement of ticks in the Czech Republic for half a century, scoured the Sumava and Krkonose mountains and found the ticks had migrated as high as 4,100 feet.

From 1961 to 2005, the mean temperature in the Krkonose Mountains had increased about 2 1/2 degrees.

“This shift of the ticks,” Daniel said, “is clearly connected with climate changes.”

According to a landmark U.N. report released in February, global warming has reached a point where even if greenhouse-gas emissions could be held stable, the trend would continue for centuries.

The report painted a grim picture of the future — rising sea levels, more intense storms, widespread drought.

Predicting the future of disease, however, has proved difficult because of myriad factors — many of which have little to do with global warming. Diseases move with people, they follow trade routes, they thrive in places with poor sanitation, they develop resistance to medicines, they can blossom during war or economic breakdowns.

“No one’s saying global warming is the whole picture here,” said Dr. Paul Epstein, associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard University. “But it is playing a role. As climate changes, it’s projected to play an even greater role.”

The impact of global warming has not been all bad. Researchers recently found that rising temperatures have helped reduce some diseases related to cold weather. One British study found that the number of children infected with a coldlike virus known as respiratory syncytial virus has been declining with warming temperatures.

Combining meteorological data and emergency-room admission rates from 1981 to 2004, physiologist Gavin Donaldson at University College London found each increase of 1.8 degrees clipped three weeks off the end of the virus’ winter season.

“A small amount of warming can go a long way, as far as changing disease-transmission dynamics,” said Dr. Jonathan Patz, director of Global Environmental Health at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

Given the gradual pace of warming, there are also some chances to adapt.

After Prince William Sound’s Vibrio outbreak in 2004, the state required more oyster testing in some areas. In the past two years, there have been only four cases of Vibrio food poisoning.

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UN Climate Change Plan

February 28, 2007
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Sigma Xi, a scientific research society and The UN Foundation are calling for more efficient transportation, commercial, and residential sectors.  The technology already exists to accomplish this.  This action was initiated by recent published research saying that temeratures have increased 2.5 degrees Celcius since 1750.

The UN Foundation was created by Ted Turner who donated $1 Billion over 10 years for pressing world problems.

The Foundation is calling for immediate policy changes by individual counties.  This is a state level system of analysis.

This report defines the seriousness and urgency that must characterize global efforts to respond to the unfolding and far-reaching challenge of climate change,” said Timothy Wirth, president of the U.N. Foundation. “There is tremendous economic opportunity in doing so.”
The foundation was created in 1998 with entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner’s pledge of a $1 billion donation over 10 years to support U.N. causes. The organization builds and implements public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems and works to broaden support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach.

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London Venezuela Agreement

February 21, 2007
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London will aid Venezuela in environmental protection techniques while Venezuela sends oil to London at a 20% discount rate to be used in buses and trams.  Those in London benefitting from this deal are individuals with lower incomes.

The article reads:

The British capital will save about 16 million pounds out of the 100 million pounds that it spends annually to fuel its 8,000 buses.

In exchange, the Greater London Authority will dispatch to Venezuela experts in recycling, waste management, traffic planning and reducing carbon dioxide emissions blamed for global warming.

I don’t forsee any problems arising from this deal as both countries share their acheivements and advantages with each other. London will recieve more of an imminent result.  Critics believed that this was a ploy by President Chavez, who intoduced the deal in 05, as a way of  “bartering its main resource to one of the world’s richest cities.” It is beneficial, no doubt, for Chavez to have a largely populated city use his oil.  I am glad that he sees the environment as a worthy return for oil, which the world is so dependant on.

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EU Emission Reduction

February 20, 2007
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EU environment ministers try to agree 20 percent cut in CO2 by 2020
The Associated Press

The European Commission said reducing carbon dioxide by 20 percent below 1990 levels is just a starting point and it would be ready to go up to 30 percent if other regions join in.

The goal was needed to “focus minds that otherwise would not be quite so focused,” the diplomat said.

But the two former Soviet bloc countries have grown rapidly in the last decade and fear that the target means steeper cuts for them. They both generate electricity from their own coal and changing to other forms of power would mean heavy investment.

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An interesting essay

February 7, 2007

A Son Retunrs from War

Nov. 30, 2006
Ft. Wainwright, Alaska

I stood on a folding chair, holding a sign over my head, looking for Michael as 300 or so soldiers of the 1-17 INF, 172nd Stryker Brigade marched in a relatively rigid formation across the large hangar. Many of them couldn’t help but turn their heads to the crowd and look for their wives and children, parents, and friends. Then they stopped, turned and faced a commander who began reciting words that disappeared before registering any meaningful message. When he dismissed them, a different thunder and commotion ensued as long awaited reunions rushed to begin.

I got down off the chair and scanned the building, then turned to find Michael right next to me. A small band played music but for that one minute all the outer sounds seemed compressed into a different dimension. All I heard was the patting of our hands on each other’s shoulders as we shared a great big hug. Then, standing apart at arms distance, I looked into his eyes and saw a strong and healthy young man, a soldier smiling like a teenager who just graduated from high school.

Later in the evening we went out for dinner. The restaurant was nearly vacant. He ordered a Corona and grilled salmon. In the quiet fitting the cold and dark shade of an Alaskan winter night, our voices were low and the conversation wandered without purpose.

How do you talk to a soldier who’s been overseas in a war that you believe shouldn’t have happened and should have already closed the book of failure on itself? I listened to a few stories of firefights in the night and improvised explosive devices. He patiently listened to a few of mine.

“I can’t fathom what you’ve been through,” I began telling him as we got ready to leave. “But I believe that every soldier would prefer there were no wars to fight.”

“We all hate it,” Michael replied.

I was reminded of a quote by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of the allied forces in Europe during World War II. “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”

Michael isn’t a general and isn’t running for president. But his simply declared truth comes with experience that commands respect. I imagined him as a student in Eisenhower’s class, then in a class with our former president that our current one will never attain.

I’m thrilled that Michael is home. They all deserve to come home. His battles are over, but our pursuit for peace isn’t.

There is an interesting quote in here by President Dwight D. Eisenhower–>”I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.”

Yet so many times war and its threat is used as a tool of international relations.  I guess it fits with the realism ideology.  But Roosevelt had it right.  It’s the people in the offices who are developing foreign policy and it’s soldiers who seet the true effect.  Rooselvet was able to see the truth that many can’t see.  I admit I’m a liberalist, but that’s because I don’t see the point of war unless is for our imminant protection, and the term “imminent threat” can’t be falsely generated to persuade me.

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About author

University of the Pacific Undergrad: Soph. I'm majoring in environmental studies and will be focusing on Global Climate Change because that is my concern.