Archive | July, 2011

Extreme Weather: The New Normal

Climate experts link current droughts, heat waves, and extreme weather events to climate change.

The heat is on. Flood victims make their way along a major road in the Punjab region of Pakistan, August 27, 2010. (Paula Bronstein/Getty)

Climate experts warn that setting weather records, be they for high or low temperatures, or record amounts of rain or snow as well as record drought, will likely be the new normal.

According to a UN report released July 5, humanity is close to breaching the sustainability of Earth, and needs a technological revolution greater and faster than the industrial revolution in order to avoid “a major planetary catastrophe”.

The report said that major investments need to be made in developing, and scaling up, clean energy technologies, sustainable farming and forestry techniques, the climate-proofing of infrastructure, and technologies aimed at waste reduction, in order to shift civilization away from dependence on oil.

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The Scourge of ‘Peak Oil’

When demand for oil consistently surpasses supply, experts warn that our lives will look “very differently”.

'We're going to see major changes in industrial civilisation...anything with a parking lot is going to be in trouble.' (EPA)

Energy derived from oil reaches, quite literally, every aspect of our lives.

From the clothes we wear, to the food we eat, to how we move ourselves around, without oil, our lives would look very differently.

Yet oil is a finite resource. While there is no argument that it won’t last forever, there is debate about how much oil is left and how long it might last.

Tom Whipple, an energy scholar, was a CIA analyst for 30 years – and believes we are likely at, or very near, a point in history when the maximum production capacity for oil is reached, a phenomenon often referred to as “peak oil”.

“Peak oil is the time when the world’s production reaches the highest point, then starts back down again,” Whipple told Al Jazeera. “Oil is a finite resource, and [it] someday will go down, and that is what the peak oil discussion is all about.”

There are signs that peak oil may have already arrived.

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Murdoch’s Ambitions in the Middle East

With his media empire under fire in the west, NewsCorp chief eyes the Middle East market.

Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp scandal is sending shock waves across the UK, as protesters reject the mogul's denial of responsibility for criminal behaviour within his empire (GALLO/GETTY)

Embroiled in a scandal that has global implications, Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is under fire due to the ongoing fallout resulting from the News of the World scandal.

But while News Corp remains under heavy scrutiny in the UK, US, and the rest of the West, the launch of Abu Dhabi-based Arabic language news channel Sky News Arabia is still on track.

For someone interested in assisting in starting a television network with a planned initial reach of 50 million viewers across the Middle East, Murdoch has an interesting perspective on regional issues that affect the would-be consumers of the new Arabic channel.

“My own perspective is simple”, Murdoch told the Anti-Defamation League on December 13, 2010. “We live in a world where there is an ongoing war against the Jews.”

Murdoch emphasised “the importance of good relations between Israel and the United States”, stating: “Some believe that if America wants to gain credibility in the Muslim world and advance the cause of peace, Washington needs to put some distance between itself and Israel. My view is the opposite.”

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Israel Expands Its Borders Into Europe

Recent clampdowns on Palestinian solidarity activists underscore Israel’s ability to outsource its security operations.

French police at Charles de Gaulle airport, where several airlines stopped dozens of Palestinian solidarity activists heading for a 'fly-in' protest in Israel from boarding planes in Paris (REUTERS)

On July 11, Israel announced it was not interested in having the United Nations become involved as a mediator in its maritime border issues with Lebanon.

But when it comes to recruiting other countries to assist in the enforcement of its naval blockade of Gaza, or having international airlines deny entry to passengers destined to the occupied territories from flying, Israel is keen to have other countries help.

In 2010, Israel faced the worst kind of media exposure when its military raided the Mavi Marmara, shooting dead nine activists and wounding 40 others, evoking global condemnation and a beginning a tectonic shift in its relations with Turkey.

Rather than risking direct confrontation with activists taking part the recent Freedom Flotilla II, or the ”Flytilla” of activists who attempted to fly into Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, Israel instead chose another strategy that has proven quite effective.

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