Sunday, February 25, 2007

79th Annual Academy Awards (Gone Green)

In the eloquent words of Academy Award winner, Melissa Etheridge - "......Caring about our earth is not political. It is not about being Republican or Democrat. It is not red or blue. It is green and we should all care". Very apropos and very true! The Biggest Show of the Year - The Academy Awards - has officially gone green.

Reproduced below is part two of the article written by Kevin Eddy (assistant Editor of the Chartered Secretary ICSA magazine January 2007-- Apocalypse now-ish (Part Two)

Taking Action

That outcome is not inevitable, however; disaster can be averted. The Stern Review predicts that the cost of taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will be far lower than the cost of dealing with its effects but only if action is taken now.

Stern estimates that greenhouse gas concentrations can be stablilised between 500 and 550 ppm by 2050 at a cost of one percent (1%) of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This cost could even be reduced further if there are major gains in efficiency or if the strong co-benefits such as reduced air pollution are measured. However, Stern emphasises that the measures must be taken in the next 10 to 20 years to achieve that result. Delay in taking action will result in accepting more climate change and higher mitigation costs and would put achieving even the risky stabilisation target of 550 ppm beyond reach.

In order to reach the stabilisation figure, global emissions would need to peak in the next 10 to 20 years, then reduce by between 1 and 3 percent per year, ultimately falling to about three quarters of current emissions. However, cuts in emission levels will need to be made in the context of a world economy projected to be 3 or 4 times larger than today's. So the actual figure per unit of GDP would need to be just 25 percent of current levels by 2050. We will need to emit only a quarter of what we currently do. The review identifies three key policies essential to achieving this target: carbon pricing, investment in low-carbon, high-efficiency technology; and the removal of barriers to behavioural change.

Carbon Pricing

Carbon pricing of some form is an 'essential foundation' for climate change policy. Putting an appropriate price on carbon - explicitly through tax or trading or implicitly through regulation means that people are faced with the full social cost of their actions. This will lead individuals and businesses to switch away from high-carbon goods and services and to invest in low-carbon alternatives.

While the Stern Review suggests that the particular balance of tax, trading and regulation will depend on individual national circumstances, it recommends that a common global carbon price would be advantageous. It adds that trading schemes such as the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) are an especially effective way to equalise carbon prices and cut emissions.

The idea of an international price for carbon has met with support from at least one quarter - the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). CBI's director general, Richard Lambert, spoke at that organisation's Conference in November 2006: "We would rather see a price for carbon set through an international trading system than a finance minister try to prescribe the price."


Investment in the full spectrum of technology policy is equally essential in achieving the deep cuts in emissions which are needed - from research and develpment to demonstration and early-stage deployment. Stern argues that, while the private sector plays the major role in this process and that carbon pricing will already provide an incentive to look for low-carbon alternatives, governments will also need to collaborate closer with industry to stimulate development further. This, the report suggests, should be done by doubling, worldwide, public spending on research and development and increasing incentives to promote innovation - which currently stands at $34 billion worldwide - by between two to five times.

Removal of Barriers

The final essential aspect is the removal of barriers to behavioural change. Even where measures to reduce emissions are cost effective, factors such as a lack of reliable information, transaction cost and organisational inertia may act to prevent action. Regulatory measures can play a powerful role in providing clarity and certainty as well as sharing best practices. Most crucial, though, is the need to foster a shared understanding of the nature of climate change and its consequences. Stern argues that governments need to catalyse action by creating public and international debate backed up with evidence. A programme of education aimed at school children will be crucial to sustaining future policy in the long term.

It's those long term effects that the above measures are intended to address. Their effects may not be felt for decades hence, so interim adaptation policies will also need to be put in place to deal with the impact of climate change in the intervening years. While some adaptation will take place autonomously due to markets reacting to the effects of climate change, Stern recommends that governments should put in place policies to assist adaptation in the medium term. These could include: providing better regional climate predictions; introducing infrastructure and building planning standards which take account of likely effects; the protection of coastlines and other natural resources; increased preparation for emergencies; and, the provision of a financial safety net for the pooerest in our society.

The final (part three) of the Stern Report on the Economics of Climate Change will be aired here next week. Have a splendiferous week and congratulations to all the 79th Academy Award winners. Y'all rock!!!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I'm For and Against Nothing

My title above - " I'm For and Against Nothing"-a famous quote I heard somewhere, sort of describes what is not happening down here in the tropics. Instead, the air is rife with civil strife and we may soon be facing difficulties with our internet host server as the union workers at the telephone company have given their employers 21 days notice of strike action. What this means is that I may not be able to log on to blogger in a short while. I will miss communicating with you via this medium. So for now, I am taking the opportunity to reproduce below an article from the ICSA's Chartered Secretary magazine issue of January 2007 which is both startling, enlightening and applicable to all of us--
Apocalypse now-ish (Part One) written by Kevin Eddy (assistant Editor)
Imagine an earth much like our own, but different in fundamental ways. Across the planet, human settlements are battered by a combination of storms, droughts, soaring temperatures and flooding; long-distance travel becomes a risky (even luxury) business; famine is on the rise as crops increasingly fail; energy costs are so high, entire communities sustain themselves on only the most basic supplies of electricity; economies are nosediving as spiraling insurance costs and rising sea levels threaten major financial centres like London and New York; and once familiar species of animal and plant life go the way of the dodo. Just a little bit too sci-fi to be credible? Well, perhaps, but these are just some of the possible outcomes scientists are predicting we may see as a result of climate change.
For awhile, climate change was one of those issues which everyone knew about and most people had an opinion on, but which never seemed to catch the imagination of governments and regulators. Over the last 12 to 18 months, though, things have started to change. Weather patterns and increasing average temperatures have supported theories of global warming. Television pictures of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina have brought home once again the economic hardship caused by extreme weather; and, even the British newspaper The Sun has been running features on how to 'go green'. At the end of October 2006, the publication of a new report took the debate on climate change to a new level. The final report from the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is widely acknowledged as being the most comprehensive review ever carried out on the economics of climate change. The Review is the work of a team led by leading economist Sir Nicholas Stern on behalf of HM Treasury.
It delivers a damning indictment. Climate change is 'the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen'. If left unchecked, its effects could 'create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity later in this century and into the next, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and economic depression of the first half of the 20th century. And 'it will be difficult or impossible to reverse these changes'.
Terrifying - The 700-page report arrives at its conclusions via a frankly terrifying series of deductions. It estimates that, at present, the stock of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is around 430 parts per million (ppm), which compares with a level of 280 ppm before the industrial revolution. Even if the annual flow of emissions remain at today's level, the stock will increase to 550 ppm by 2050, which will almost certainly lead to an increase in global average temperatures of 2 degrees centigrade. This could result in lower crop yields, irreversible melting of ice sheets and concurrent increases in sea level; and, increasing incidences of extreme weather conditions such as storms, heat waves and flooding.
The damage from that cannot be underestimated. One study projects that even a small increase in hurricane intensity could lead to a doubling of damage costs in the US - a prediction already foreshadowed by the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Katrina in the Mississippi region last year. To repeat, that prediction assumes that emissions will stay at their current levels. Emissions, though, are not static. The rapid growth of emerging markets, along with increasing demand for energy and transport worldwide, means that levels are rising and the 550 ppm benchmark could be reached within 30 years. If that trend continues, greenhouse gas levels could treble by the end of the century - resulting in a 50% risk that global temperatures will rise by as much as five degrees centigrade.
The effects of a rise of that sort cannot be accurately predicted, but projections suggest that it would lead to abrupt, large-scale shifts in the climate system. The Gulf Stream would be disrupted and the West Antartic ice sheets would collapse. The result would be species extinction on a massive scale and sea level rises which would threaten major world cities including London, New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong. The change in global temperature would be equivalent to that between the last Ice Age and today. The Stern Review indicates that the total cost of the effects of climate changes over the next two centuries could be 5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, if direct impacts on the environment and human health, possible environmental feedback loops and weighting of the potential impact between developed and developing regions are taken into account, this figure rises to around 20% of GDP. In other words, if we continue down our current path, we are headed for ecological and economic disaster.
Next week, conditions permitting, I will be providing part two of the Stern Review. A must read as far as I'm concerned. The time is late and I will sign off for now. Take care y'all, stay positive and think of ways in which you can assist in making the environment more healthier in your community.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Love Is a Four Letter Word

Love is a Four Letter Word - the Hallmark original movie I watched at home this weekend. This movie is based on a chance meeting and a case of sparks flying between divorce lawyers Emily (actress Teri Polo) and Kenton (actor Robert Mailhouse) at a mutal friend's wedding. View Clip

The day after the wedding, the two attorneys lock horns in court in defense of their respective clients who are a 40-year long married couple. Despite the conflict of interest and/or in spite of themselves, their courtship heats up outside the courtroom and eventually almost lands them in hot water with their presiding judge and their clients. When love eventually conquers all for these two, it is a case of hope winning out over cynicism and experience. After all, they both make their living helping to end marriages. A recommended must-see for this valentine week for all you romantics out there :)

Belizegial's Health Tip -- How Much Calcium do we really need? Calcium should always be taken with Vitamin D because vitamin D is necessary for the body to absorb calcium. The recommended daily calcium intake is dependent on your age or life stage.

1 to 3 years - 500 mg/day
4 to 8 years - 800 mg/day
9 to 18 years - 1,300 mg/day
19 to 50 years - 1,000 mg/day
Older than 50 years - 1,200 mg/day

Pregnant or nursing women need the same as other women their age. Most people do not get enough calcium through diet alone. You need to eat three to four servings per day of foods high in calcium to get the recommended daily amount. For sure, I will start to follow a calcium regimen in 2007 as part of my overall health improvement plan. Hope the same goes for all of you. Take care and have a successful week ahead.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

February, the season for loving and giving

What better way to kick off February than with several blog fests?!

Five Minutes for Mom is hosting The Ultimate Blog Party!! This will be the place to be. Get your blog noticed, win prizes, hang out with your friends and meet some new ones. Everyone is invited, regardless of parental status, gender, religious affiliations, etc. This party is about having fun with friends and meeting new people. For more details, click on the link in my sidebar.

Jules at Everyday Mommy is sponsoring the Hidden Treasure Blog Awards. The purpose of these awards are to bring notice to some of those worthy bloggers that may not get the recognition they deserve. Here's a snippet from Jules' description: The idea is simple; to recognize blog authors of excellence, with deserving posts which may go unnoticed.

This is your chance to get those worthwhile mommy blogs out there, the proper recognition that they deserve. I can think of quite a few of them myself. The categories are: Children & Family, Faith, Marriage, Motherhood, Homemaking, Humor, Current Events and Life. No profanity, questionable or offensive material is permitted. Keep a list of the hidden treasures you find for submission. Nominations will open on February 1, 2007. Everyone may nominate a single post in each category. The three posts with the most nominations will advance to voting. So, if you find a great post feel free to pass the word. Nominations will close on February 7, 2007. You can read all the details by clicking on the link provided above. Hope that everyone has a great week ahead!