Archive | Climate Change

Climate change ‘number one issue’

Levies have been breached by severe flooding from intensified storms linked to climate change [Erika Blumenfeld/AJE]

El Salvador is “already” facing wild weather, the country’s environment minister tells Al Jazeera.

San Salvador – “We have a very clear position,” El Salvador’s Minister of Environment, Herman Chavez, told Al Jazeera at his office in San Salvador, the capital.

“The President of El Salvador, last year on July 20th, in an extraordinary meeting of presidents that was convened here in San Salvador, launched the intervention process. We put Climate Change as the number one issue for the region.”

The government of El Salvador’s position, which mirrors that of other Central American countries like Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras, is due to the fact that anthropogenic (human caused) climate change is impacting the planet more than ever, and scientists expect it to worsen.

In January, new figures provided by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that Earth’s global average surface temperature for 2010 tied 2005 for the hottest year on record. The two agencies’ figures also showed that 2010 was the wettest year ever recorded.

Read the rest of this article at Al-Jazeera English.

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Climate: Putting people over money

Facing climate change, a social movement in El Salvador fights mass flooding and the toxic burning of cane fields.

Burning sugar cane field in the Lower Lempa region of El Salvador for industrial-scale production [Photo: Erika Blumenfeld]

While debate about whether climate change is real or not continues in the US, the world’s leading producer of CO2 emissions per capita, those already living with the effects, like Jose Domingo Cruz in El Salvador, don’t have time to debate.

“Our storms are increasing in number and intensity,” Cruz, a member of his community Civil Protection Committee that responds to community needs during natural disasters, told Al Jazeera while standing on a levy that ruptured during Tropical Storm Agatha last year. “All of us attribute this to climate change.”

The levy, originally constructed in the aftermath of devastating floods caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1998, now has two huge ruptures in need of repair before the next hurricane season that begins in roughly six months.

A severe drought in 2008 and 2009, and Hurricane Stan in 2005, also took a severe toll on both land and lives in the area. Increasing sea levels will also heavily impact this part of El Salvador, which is largely populated by people who had to flee the US-backed war that raged in the country from 1979 to 1992.

A 2007 climate change study conducted by El Salvador’s National Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources focused on the Lower Lempa River and Bay of Jiquilisco areas of the central Pacific coast.

The study found that this area can expect more of what it is already experiencing: increasing minimum and maximum temperatures, a shift in observed seasons, more frequent observations of extremely wet and extremely dry years, and intensified extreme event activity, including tropical storms and hurricanes.

Against the backdrop of these dire predictions, the people are, however, forming a movement that is learning to protect and sustain itself in the increasingly chaotic world of global climate change and its severe ramifications on people, the environment, and local economies.

Read the rest of this article on Al-Jazeera English.

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Trucking Toward Climate Change

(Illustration: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t)

(Illustration: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t)

The tar sands mining project in Alberta, Canada, is possibly the largest industrial project in human history and critics claim it could also be the most destructive. The mining procedure for extracting oil from a region referred to as the “tar sands,” located north of Edmonton, releases at least three times the CO2 emissions as regular oil production procedures and will likely become North America’s single largest industrial contributor to climate change.

Most of the oil produced by the project will likely be consumed by the United States, a country that, along with Canada, is already heavily invested, on many levels, in the project.

The project is operated by Imperial Oil, whose parent company, ExxonMobil Canada, has a long-term production goal of more than 300,000 barrels of bitumen (extra heavy oil) per day. To do this, they will require new equipment to be shipped through the United States.

Trucks and trailers moving specialized, nontoxic mining equipment from where it is manufactured in Korea to the Kearl oil sands project, located in the Athabasca oil sands in northeastern Alberta, are slated to use highways in Idaho and Montana to transport the gear. This would happen after it has been shipped across the Pacific Ocean to Portland, Oregon, where it would then be barged up the Hood and Snake Rivers to Lewiston, Idaho, from which it would be hauled over land into Canada.

Pius Rolheiser, a spokesman for Imperial Oil, said this is the most cost-effective method of moving the equipment, much to the chagrin of many residents in these states.

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