World Bank: What Climate Change Means for Africa, Asia and the Coastal Poor

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A new climate report looks at likely impacts of present day, 2°C, and 4°C warming across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and South East Asia.
  • It describes the risks to agriculture and livelihood security in Sub-Saharan Africa; the rise in sea-level, loss of coral reefs and devastation to coastal areas likely in South East Asia; and the fluctuating water resources in South Asia.
  • Turn Down the Heat warns that poor communities will be the most vulnerable to climate change.

As the coastal cities of Africa and Asia expand, many of their poorest residents are being pushed to the edges of livable land and into the most dangerous zones for climate change. Their informal settlements cling to riverbanks and cluster in low-lying areas with poor drainage, few public services, and no protection from storm surges, sea-level rise, and flooding.

These communities – the poor in coastal cities and on low-lying islands – are among the world’s most vulnerable to climate change and the least able to marshal the resources to adapt, a new report finds. They face a world where climate change will increasingly threaten the food supplies of Sub-Saharan Africa and the farm fields and water resources of South Asia and South East Asia within the next three decades, while extreme weather puts their homes and lives at risk.

A new scientific report commissioned by the World Bank and released on June 19 explores the risks to lives and livelihoods in these three highly vulnerable regions. Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience (Read it in IssuuScribdOpen Knowledge Repository) takes the climate discussion to the next level, building on a 2012 World Bank report that concluded from a global perspective that without a clear mitigation strategy and effort, the world is headed for average temperatures 4 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times by the end of this century.

Small number, big problem

Communities around the world are already feeling the impacts of climate change today, with the planet only 0.8 ºC warmer than in pre-industrial times. Many of us could experience the harsher impacts of a 2ºC warmer world within our lifetimes – 20 to 30 years from now – and  4ºC is likely by the end of the century without global action.

The report lays out what these temperature increases will look like, degree-by-degree, in each targeted region and the damage anticipated for agricultural production, coastal cities, and water resources.

“The scientists tell us that if the world warms by 2°C – warming which may be reached in 20 to 30 years – that will cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat-waves, and more intense cyclones,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “In the near-term, climate change, which is already unfolding, could batter the slums even more and greatly harm the lives and the hopes of individuals and families who have had little hand in raising the Earth’s temperature.”

The report, based on scientific analysis by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, uses advanced computer simulations to paint the clearest picture of each region’s vulnerabilities. It describes the risks to agriculture and livelihood security in Sub-Saharan Africa; the rise in sea-level, loss of coral reefs and devastation to coastal areas likely in South East Asia; and the fluctuating water resources in South Asia that can lead to flooding in some areas and water scarcity in others, as well as affecting power supply.

“The second phase of this report truly reiterates our need to bring global attention to the tasks necessary to hold warming to 2ºC,” said Rachel Kyte, the Bank’s vice president for sustainable development. “Our ideas at the World Bank have already been put into practice as we move forward to assist those whose lives are particularly affected by extreme weather events.”

Open Quotes

The scientists tell us that if the world warms by 2°C – warming which may be reached in 20 to 30 years – that will cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat-waves, and more intense cyclones. Close Quotes

Jim Yong Kim
President, World Bank Group
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Biologist Sandra Steingraber, Others Get 15 Days in Jail for Civil Disobedience Against Gas Co.

Published on Thursday, April 18, 2013 by Common Dreams

Sandra Steingraber, Others Get 15 Days in Jail for Civil Disobedience Against Gas Co.

‘My Small, Non-Violent Act vs. Larger, More Violent, Toxic Trespass’ of Inergy Corporation

– Jon Queally, staff writer
Seneca Lake, Geneva, N.Y.

Seneca Lake, Geneva, N.Y. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Inergy’s gas storage and transportation project in the Town of Reading,

right on Seneca Lake, threatens the water supply for 100,000 people.

The gas compression site they were blockading,

owned by Missouri-based Inergy corporation,

is part of an underground ‘gas storage operation’ near the region’s Seneca Lake, 

which provides drinking water for more than 100,000 area residents.

Opponents of the project, including those sentenced, say the project is a danger

to families, farms and the health of the local ecosystem.

In addition,

they contend, Inergy has continually undermined safety regulations

and blocked calls attempts to compell disclosure of vital

information about the nature of the project.

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“My small, non-violent act of trespass,” said Steingraber to the crowd,

“is set against a larger, more violent one:

the trespass of hazardous chemicals into water and air

and thereby into our bodies. This is a form of toxic trespass.”

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Opponents of the project, including those sentenced, say the project is a danger to families, farms and the health of the local ecosystem. In addition, they contend, Inergy has continually undermined safety regulations and blocked calls attempts to compell disclosure of vital information about the nature of the project.

English: Vineyards in the Seneca Lake AVA, vie...

English: Vineyards in the Seneca Lake AVA, viewed from the back porch of Wagner Vineyards (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three upstate New York community members-cum-activists, charged with criminal trespass for blockading a gas company installation last month, were sentenced to 15 days in jail on Wednesday by a local judge in an upstate courthouse.

Among those sentenced was university biology professor and author Sandra Steingraber, who delivered an impassioned statement ahead of the sentencing explaining why she was compelled to civil disobedience and why she would refuse to pay the fine levied by the judge.

***

“My small, non-violent act of trespass,” said Steingraber to the crowd, “is set against a larger, more violent one: the trespass of hazardous chemicals into water and air and thereby into our bodies. This is a form of toxic trespass.”

***

Speaking with journalist Bill Moyers just one day prior to the sentencing, Steingraber explained why she and other community members felt in necessary to protest “plans to store millions of barrels of highly-pressurized liquid propane and butane — gases produced in the controversial process of fracking — in [local] salt caverns.”

Map of the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

Also sentenced on Wednesday were massage therapist Melissa Chapman and local farm owner Michael Dineen.

The courtroom at sentencing, according to reports, was brimming over with more than 150 supporters and onlookers.

The gas compression site they were blockading, owned by Missouri-based Inergy corporation, is part of an underground ‘gas storage operation’ near the region’s Seneca Lake, which provides drinking water for more than 100,000 area residents.

Opponents of the project, including those sentenced, say the project is a danger to families, farms and the health of the local ecosystem. In addition, they contend, Inergy has continually undermined safety regulations and blocked calls attempts to compell disclosure of vital information about the nature of the project.

“I do not take this step lightly,” said Michael Dineen, reflecting on his own actions. “My wife and I have a small farm in Seneca County. We grow organic grains and maintain a large garden we use to feed our and our daughter’s families. Our garden is irrigated with lake water. I believe the Inergy gas storage complex will, at best, damage the community, and has the potential to do catastrophic damage. Important information has been kept from the public with the DEC’s cooperation. I do this to attempt to protect the community when all other means have failed. I blocked the entrance to the Inergy gas storage facility because I believe that the institutions who, by law and purpose, are required to protect the people and the environment from harm can no longer be relied on to do so.”

Local Channel 34 News explained the case’s background:

On March 18, Steingraber and 10 fellow residents of the Seneca Lake region, in a peaceful act of civil disobedience, blockaded a gas compressor station site run by Missouri-based Inergy, LLP, on Seneca Lake. They did so to demonstrate their opposition to Inergy’s planned heavy industrialization of the Finger Lakes region, renowned for its natural beauty, vineyards, and tourism- and agriculture-based economy.

Inergy’s gas storage and transportation project in the Town of Reading, right on Seneca Lake, threatens the water supply for 100,000 people.

All 11 protesters, along with a legal liaison, were arrested and charged with trespassing.

On April 17, Judge Raymond Berry of the Town of Reading imposed a fine of $375 for trespassing for Chipman, Dineen, and Steingraber, the three people appearing that evening. All three refused to pay (their statements are attached), and the judge ordered that each spend 15 days in jail.

Steingraber’s full sentencing statement follows:

“Good afternoon.  My name is Sandra Steingraber. I’m a biologist and a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College.  I’m 53 years old and the mother of an 11-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter.  I’m married to an art teacher, and we all live in the village of Trumansburg, which is about 15 miles to the northeast, as the crow flies.

On March 18, 2013, together with 11 other local residents, I stood in the driveway of this site, which is owned by the Kansas City-based energy company called Inergy and located on the west bank of Seneca Lake. In so doing, I broke the law and am charged with trespassing. Before my arrest, I and the others with whom I linked arms, temporarily blocked a truck carrying a drill head from going where it wanted to go.  This is my first experience with civil disobedience. Here is an explanation of my actions.

First, and most importantly, this act of civil disobedience is a last resort for me.  Prior to this, I and other community members have taken every legal avenue to raise the serious health, economic, and environmental concerns associated with the Inergy plant.  However, time and again, we’ve been deterred from participating in the decision-making process. For example, Inergy has declared the geological history of the salt caverns to be proprietary business information, so that much of the basic science on the structural integrity of the salt caverns is hidden from view. How can we offer informed public comments and raise scientific objection when we are denied this fundamental information?

Inergy has asked for fast-track FERC approval and that we fear that authorities are poised to rubber stamp these applications before the public has had a chance to review all the relevant information and the full impacts of these combined projects have been considered.

This act of civil disobedience was also undertaken to bring attention to the fact that this company has been out of compliance with the Clean Water Act every quarter for the last 12 quarters—which is as far back as the data go–exceeding its effluent discharge limit.  For this behavior, the company has been fined, not once, but twice, to the tune of over $30,000.

Effluent discharge means that the company dumps chemicals directly into Seneca Lake, which is a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.

It is my belief that paying trivial fines does not excuse the crime of salting the lake.  And it’s because I have such a high respect for the rule of law that I will be choosing not to pay a fine for my act of trespassing and will instead will show responsibility by accepting a jail sentence.

Second, I seek by my actions to shine a spotlight on the dangerous practice of converting abandoned salt caverns into storage containers for highly pressurized hydrocarbon gases, namely propane and butane. Legal or not, this practice is tantamount to burying giant cigarette lighters in the earth.

This form of liquefied petroleum gas storage has a troubled safety record.  Leaks, explosions, and collapses have occurred in at least ten other places.  Additionally, the fleets of diesel trucks and the planned 60 ft. high flare stack—even absent calamitous accidents—will add hazardous air pollutants to our communities. Thus, my small, non-violent act of trespass is set against a larger, more violent one: the trespass of hazardous chemicals into water and air and thereby into our bodies.  This is a form of toxic trespass.

Lastly, I desire to bring attention to the rapid build-out of fracking infrastructure in New York.  Even as we are engaged in a statewide conversation about whether our governor should maintain or lift the current moratorium on shale gas extraction via horizontal fracking in New York, technology that further entrenches our dependency on shale gas—pipelines, storage, compressor stations, processing plants—is being rapidly deployed.  These infrastructure investments make fracking in New York State more likely and aid and abet fracking in other states, where it is associated with sickness and misery among people causes devastation to land, water, and air quality.

In a time of climate emergency, the transformation of the Finger Lakes into a massive transportation and storage hub for climate-destroying fossil fuel gases that have been fracked out shale in other states is the absolute wrong form of development.

I am a biologist, not a lawyer.  But when I looked up my crime on Wikipedia, here is what it said:

Trespass to land involves the wrongful interference with one’s possessory rights in [real] property. William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of Englandarticulated the common law principle… translating from Latin as “for whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to Heaven and down to Hell.” In modern times, courts have limited the right of absolute dominion over the subsurface. For instance, drilling a directional well that bottoms out beneath another’s property to access oil and gas reserves is trespass, but a subsurface invasion byhydraulic fracturing is not [emphasis added].

In other words, trespassing laws are unjust. They make a criminals of people who stand on a lakeshore purchased by an out-of-state fossil fuel company only interested in the hollowed out salt chambers that lie 1500 feet beneath the surface, while, at the same time, allowing drilling and fracking operations to tunnel freely under homes, farms, and aquifers, shatter our bedrock, and pump the shards full of toxic chemicals.

I broke the law by standing in a privately owned driveway.  Fossil fuel companies are not breaking the law by trespassing into the atmosphere with heat-trapping gases and so creating planetary crisis.  There are the disparities that I seek to communicate with my actions and, out of respect for the fidelity of law, with my willingness to accept a jail sentence rather than pay a fine.

As a working mother of two school-aged children, this is a decision I have reached after much discernment.”

_____________________

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
***

English: Seneca Lake at Seneca State Forest.

BILL MOYERS and Company present…

Full Show: The Toxic Assault on Our Children

Friend Nature: This video is a MUST WATCH, Sandra Steingraber very eloquently describes how chemicals have invaded the human body, to alter our genetic makeup, and change our bodies.

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Message from 350.org. Make your voice heard. Give the State Department and President Obama your opinion on the Keystone XL pipeline.

10 DAYS!

That’s how long we have to flood the State Department

with comments opposing Keystone XL.

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arkansas-oil-spill

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To hit a million comments, it will take a lot of us pitching in in different ways.

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At 350, we won’t email you every day for 10 days (more likely 4 or 5),

but we will use social media and other tools at our disposal

 to promote the push every day between now and the 22nd. 

In particular, we will be relying on our Social Media Team

to share crucial info about each day’s issue —

if you’d like to join the Team and help super-charge key content

over the next ten days, click here: act.350.org/signup/social/

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Keystone XL is a climate disaster, and an economic loser.

If built, it would carry 800,000 barrels a day of tar sands to export for the next 50 years,

leaving a toxic legacy for communities along the route,

and a massive carbon footprint on the atmosphere.

And we’re going to do whatever we can to stop it.

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Thanks for all you’ve done, and all you will do to stop the pipeline.

Duncan

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Can you submit a comment to the President and State Department
explaining the energy security case for stopping the pipeline?
Click here to submit your comment: act.350.org/letter/kxl-sprint-day-1/
***

I oppose Keystone XL because it is simply not in our national interest.

TransCanada has already arranged to export the oil shipped through this pipeline,

allowing them to pad their bottom line and pump more money into tar sands development.

We don’t need their oil and we certainly don’t need their toxic mess.

The only reason to build this pipeline

is to expand TransCanada’s profits and further expand tar sands

***

Can you submit a comment to the President and State Department

explaining the energy security case for stopping the pipeline?

***

 Click here to submit your comment: act.350.org/letter/kxl-sprint-day-1/

***

Trans Canada Keystone Oil Pipeline

Trans Canada Keystone Oil Pipeline (Photo credit: shannonpatrick17)

For the next ten days our friends across the movement are coordinating a ‘Comment Sprint’ to submit hundreds of thousands of comments against the pipeline — hopefully hitting 1 million in total.

If you’ve already submitted a comment, keep reading: you’re able to submit more than one, and in fact, you should. We want to show that people are opposed to the pipeline for many reasons, all of them grounded in hard facts, so every day for ten days, we’ll focus on a new reason to oppose the pipeline and submit new comments.

The State Department’s review has been heavy on politics and light on science, so the more we focus on the facts, the stronger our case to the President and the public will be to stop the pipeline.

The first day of the comment sprint is today. The first issue we’re focusing on is how the pipeline undermines energy security. We need to clear about one thing: TransCanada wants this pipeline so they can get tar sands oil to export.

President Obama’s job is to decide whether the pipeline is in the US national interest. TransCanada has shown that it’s not. In filings to the State Department and contracts with refiners, they’ve spelled out their plans to pad their profits by exporting it to the international market where it will fetch a higher price — putting more money in the pockets of big oil and accelerating tar sands development in Canada.

Truck hauling 36-Inch Pipe to build Keystone-C...

Keystone XL demonstration, White House,8-23-20...

Keystone XL demonstration, White House,8-23-2011 Photo Credit: Josh Lopez (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Native Hawaiians standing up against use of land for GMO experiments

monsanto2

Native Hawaiians standing up against use of land for GMO experiments

By Imani Altemus-Williams / Waging Nonviolence
At 9 am on an overcast morning in paradise, hundreds of protesters gathered in traditional Hawaiian chant and prayer. Upon hearing the sound of the conch shell, known here as Pū, the protesters followed a group of women towards Monsanto’s grounds.

“A’ole GMO,” cried the mothers as they marched alongside Monsanto’s cornfields, located only feet from their homes on Molokai, one of the smallest of Hawaii’s main islands. In a tiny, tropical corner of the Pacific that has warded off tourism and development, Monsanto’s fields are one of only a few corporate entities that separates the bare terrain of the mountains and oceans.