Friday, November 26, 2010

Big Meeting

Monday (29 November) is the start of the the global meeting on climate change at Cancun, Mexico. It is the follow-up to last year's meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark. It is probably the second biggest environmental event this year (after the convention on biological diversity meeting).

Of course, there were a lot of talk about it this last week. Some examples:

5 Gigatonnes - the gap between climate science and current climate cuts after Copenhagen?

Q&A: What Can Climate Negotiations Achieve in CancĂșn?

From Copenhagen to Cancun: Forests and REDD+

After the disaster last year, I have very little hope for anything meaningful from this meeting.

Update: By the way I am not the only one thinking this

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Coral Bleaching

This article is entitled Global Coral Bleaching Among the Worst Ever Seen"

Coral bleaching is when the coral loses its color. That color is due to algae which live on the coral. They provide energy to the coral through photosynthesis. They are said to be in symbiosis with the coral.

Coral bleaching is linked to global warming, specifically to ocean temperature. Increased ocean acidification due to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the oceans may also be contributing to the problem.

Perchlorate contamination

This article talks about a city whose water supply was contaminated with perchlorates. Perchlorate are often used in explosives and rockets as an oxidizer. In this case they came from a military facility.

I think I know what will happen next. The Marines will first say there is no danger. Then they will use the defense of "national security" to protect themselves. I wrote about the national security argument here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Convention on Biological Diversity meeting

Just concluded last week was the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP-10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). A conference of parties means a meeting of governments who have signed the document, a convention is another name for a treaty.

There was good news and bad news from the conference. The are two pieces of good news. First is that there has an agreement for developed countries to provide financing to allow developing countries to set aside land for protecting wildlife. Even though we have heard these promises of money before and not had them delivered.

The biggest piece of good news is the agreement on the Access and Benefit Sharing Protocol. This protocol concerns sharing genetic resources between companies and countries and communities where the resource comes from. For example, when a company uses a naturally occurring plant to make drugs. The agreement means that when this occurs a share of the profits will go the people protecting the natural resource.

The only real bad news is that they agreed to set aside 17% of land area and 10% of the ocean areas for protected lands. That is not much, the oceans already are at 10% and the land area is currently at 13%.

UN press release
BBC Report - also includes a good description of biodiversity
EcoWorldly article

Monday, October 25, 2010

First Post

This is a blog designed for the Science, Man, and His Environment course which I teach (along with seven others). I will cover about one story a week. I encourage our students to place their comments here.