The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is in the process of finalizing the different sections of its massive every-seven-years report. The first portion of the 5th Assessment has already been released, and the next is scheduled for release in March. Copies of the draft of that section, about the impact of climate change on human society, have recently been leaked.

While the draft is not finalized yet and may undergo revision, it offers dire warnings about the interactions between a warming world, other natural systems on which humans depend, and human social interactions.

The latest leaked draft predicts that as global warming changes the climate, resulting in both more rain in some areas and more drought in others, extreme weather events and sea level rise, human societies will be increasing affected. This will lead in a variety of ways to increasing stresses on people, agriculture, water systems, the world's refugee crisis, and human habitation near oceans, among other impacts.

The report predicts that as a result our future looks likely to be one with growing poverty, growing water and food stresses, flooding and the spread of desertification, ocean acidity and overfishing destroying many fisheries, spread of diseases, as well as extinction of many species of animal and plants that can't adapt quickly enough to changes in their habitat.

Climate change is not just about the weather getting hotter. It is about the linked natural and human systems we all depend on. As severe drought causes crop failure in important agricultural areas, food prices increase. In an effort to increase the stressed food supply, some farmers draw down the water table for irrigation, mining water from underground aquifers that is not being replenished. As flooding impacts agricultural production in other areas simultaneously, prices rise even further. Over the past decade there have been several spikes in world food prices, leading to food riots. This was one factor in the Arab Spring revolts.

This illustrates the interconnections affected by climate change. Climate change is not the sole or main cause of the problems the world faces, not by itself, not yet. But it makes virtually all other problems worse. A United Nations study of Darfur cited the effects of climate change on water and agriculture and land as one of a number of interlinked factors driving the conflict. Human access to protein is challenged by these physical changes to the climate and our agricultural practices.

Meanwhile, even companies that occasionally admit that climate change is a problem (even as they fund climate change deniers) try to limit the impact on their particular company and business. For example, in Chevron's "7 Principles for Addressing Climate Change," they appeal to our sense of fairness: "Broad and equitable treatment of all sectors of the economy is necessary to ensure no sector or company is disproportionately burdened." At the same time, the industry is planning to take advantage of the melting of Arctic ice by drilling in the Artic Sea, in one of the areas most inhospitable for safe oil exploration.

Fossil fuel companies are feeling pressure from the growing climate change divestment movement. While it will not likely cut into their massive profits soon, it places these companies on the defensive. Business professionals are beginning to build a case for divestment on purely financial terms. Cities and states around the world are attempting to grapple, sometimes in conflict with central governments, with necessary adaptations to climate change, including through divestment Issues related to climate change and fossil fuel use are beginning to affect local elections.

Other environmental battles continue to play an increasing role in the public dialogue. Effort to build unity between environmental struggles and the labor movement and other progressive movements are growing.

As news reports continue over the next months until the complete final IPCC 5th Assessment is released, the scientific arguments for more climate change activism are reinforced. The history of the coming decades will be one of massive environmental struggles, alongside the struggles of other progressive movements to save humanity from exploitation and oppression.

The science is not divorced from these movements - it adds depth and detail to the reasons why humanity needs to fight to take more serious action to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, and fight to demand that corporations pay the costs of their pollution. As prominent Indian activist Dr. Vandana Shiva says, "It is not an investment if it is destroying the planet."

This article was first published in People's World by Marc Brodine.
Photo credit: IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation (cc).
One might see it as a good development that the federally-owned Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is planning to shut down eight coal-burning generating stations across Alabama and Kentucky. While, indeed, this will be a blow to the profiteering coal industry (reducing coal production by 3,300 megawatts in those states), it could be little more than a false triumph in terms of health and the environment. That's because the TVA is planning on replacing those stations with nuclear plants and natural gas facilities.

The Obama administration has cracked down on carbon and mercury output, particularly when it is triggered by coal-fired power plants. And TVA board members were obligated to respond by phasing out some of these coal facilities, though not without Republican opposition. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., met with the president of the TVA in an attempt to stop the coal plant shutdowns, albeit unsuccessfully.

Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, praised the shutdowns, remarking, "This is a great move for public health, clean air and water, and our climate. It will also help protect families across the southeast from rising energy bills as the cost of coal-generated electricity continues to increase. I grew up in the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee and went to college at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, so I know firsthand how much that region has struggled with coal pollution. Residents, businesses, and industries have spoken loud and clear: they want the TVA to provide affordable, reliable, and clean power."

Unfortunately, the TVA seems to have no plans for implementing renewable energy, and that is why many environmentalists' reactions to the victory have now soured. According to TVA spokesman Duncan Mansfield, coal usage is "dropping fast as a drilling boom in the U.S. pushes down the price of natural gas, the fuel that competes with coal for power generation."

He failed to mention the destructive practices associated with natural gas facilities, particularly fracking and chemical dumping. Currently, TVA executives are looking to build a new 800-megawatt natural-gas-fired plant in either Alabama or Kentucky.
But perhaps just as disconcerting to activists is the fact that the TVA is now constructing a new nuclear power plant in Oak Ridge, Tenn., after having signed a contract with the Babcock & Wilcox Company. That company owned the reactor that was destroyed by a nuclear meltdown in the infamous Three Mile Island disaster. The new plant is only the first step in the TVA's campaign to step up its atomic output, in addition to natural gas.

Hitt, from the Sierra Club, stressed the importance of replacing these dangerous, unreliable fossil and nuclear fuels with cleaner, safer energy. "TVA's next steps are critical," she said. "The utility must consider the workers and communities and make sure their livelihoods are protected. But we urge the TVA to focus on replacing these retiring coal plants with clean and affordable energy technologies that will help create jobs and affordable electricity for decades to come. Wind and solar power are cleaner and cheaper than fossil fuels like natural gas, and there are dozens of examples of for-profit and public power utilities that are making huge investments in clean energy.

"We urge the TVA not to choose to rely on natural gas. It's time to leapfrog over dirty fossil fuels that will continue to exacerbate environmental and public health issues. This is the TVA's choice. They can get their fiscal house in order by developing and deploying groundbreaking energy efficiency programs that deliver real results, and by seizing this moment and leading on clean energy."

This article was first published in People's World by Blake Deppe.

Photo credit: Paul Joyce (cc)
The plan was announced Nov. 25 by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Parks Commissioner Veronica White, Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty, and Director of Long-Term Planning and Stability Sergej Mahnovski. "Soon Fresh Kills will be the site of the largest solar power installation ever developed within the five boroughs," Bloomberg said. "Thanks to the agreement today, we will increase the amount of solar energy produced in New York City by 50 percent, and it is only fitting that Fresh Kills, once a daily dumping ground, will become a showcase for urban renewal and sustainability."

"Daily dumping ground" would be putting it lightly. For 55 years, the Fresh Kills Landfill, which was so enormous it could actually be seen from space, received thousands of tons of New York's garbage, as described in a 2001 report in the Staten Island Advance. In the late 1940s, some New Yorkers formed the Staten Island Anti-Garbage Organization and led protests against the landfill, but to no avail. And the advocacy group Staten Island Citizens for Clean Air (SICCA), which formed in the 1980s, tried and failed to reduce the amount of trash being accumulated there.

Barbara Warren, secretary of SICCA, told the Advance, "To be honest, in the beginning people didn't know how bad it was. But everyone complained about Fresh Kills. It was a nuisance. And it had no permits, and was in complete violation of every environmental law. We didn't even know that until we went to state agencies and filed a Freedom of Information Act request and got all the data."

Decades later, it seems the city is finally taking measures to improve health and make a push for renewable energy. It's worth noting that the states of New York and New Jersey share a reputation for having high pollution and numerous toxic waste sites. New York has 86 areas declared Superfund sites by the EPA, to boot, while the ironically-named Garden State has 113 - the most of any state in the country.

To many, this could also be an indication that New York City, which saw its infrastructure take a heavy beating after Hurricane Sandy, is finally learning its lesson and upgrading to clean energy. If this new facility is a sign of more solar implementation to come, New York would be following in the footsteps of New Jersey, which last year was ranked as number one in the U.S. in solar energy.

In New Jersey, 800 landfills and 10,000 abandoned industrial areas are currently being converted into massive solar farms, after the approval of a $446 million solar energy proposal by Jersey's Board of Public Utilities. Power company PSE&G is currently building solar farms in Kearny, Edison, Hamilton, Linden, and Hackensack. Meanwhile, the town of Garfield has opened a new Weatherization and Green Technology Training Center and entered into a 15-year contract with solar company Amberjack Energy to work toward making the town completely reliant on solar energy.

For New York, the Fresh Kills development is seen as a major victory. Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters, said, "Not long ago, few could have imagined that Fresh Kills would be transformed into a clean energy facility. This is one of the most exciting clean energy projects in development in the entire city, and it will serve as a powerful symbol of the environmental renaissance now under way on Staten Island."

"Developing solar energy here shows that large-scale renewable energy projects are possible in New York City, but this is only a first step," said deputy mayor for operations Cas Holloway. "If we are serious about meeting New York City's tremendous energy needs from renewable resources, we need the state and federal governments to work with us to make solar and other renewable energies easier to develop, install, and access on the energy grid."

This article was first published in People's World by Blake Deppe.
Just weeks after being elected as Australia’s new Prime Minister, Tony Abbott has started his war against science and climate. Abbott, who have said that climate change "is absolute crap", has already dismantled the country’s climate commission and is now set to repeal the carbon tax that was introduced in 2011 by the former left-leaning government.

The first victim of Abbott’s anti-science and anti-climate campaign was the country’s Climate Commission. The commission was established in 2011 with the goal to independently inform and communicate the dangers of climate change to the Australian public. The most recent report from the commission, titled The Critical Decade, warned that the world needs to essentially “decarbonise in the next 30 to 35 years” in order to avoid serious consequences from global. This means, as the report noted, that Australia would have to keep most of its fossil fuels in the ground.

Abbott and his new conservative government estimates that the closure of the Climate Commission will save taxpayers $1.6 million a year, reduce bureaucracy. The government has also promised that the Department of Environment will instead continue with informing the public about climate change. But considering that Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter, it’s not that hard to figure out the real reason to why Abbott wanted to shut down the independent commission.

Christine Milne, opposition leader for the Greens in Australia, has said the decision shows Abbott’s "contempt for climate science and for the health and wellbeing of future generations."

"Shooting the messenger does not alter the fact that Australia has to do a lot better than 5% in order to contribute fairly to the global challenge of constraining global warming to two degrees," Milne said to the Guardian. "Prime Minister Abbott has distinguished himself as one of the only leaders of a western democracy to deny the severity of global warming and to actively undermine infrastructure which is bringing down emissions."

But the Climate Commission is not the only target for Abbott. Other bodies that are in the risk of being stripped of its funding are the Climate Change Authority, which provides independent advice on emissions reduction targets, and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a renewable loan institute.

It’s now painfully clear that, despite promises of the contrary, Abbott has no intentions of doing anything meaningful against the climate crisis. Mark Dreyfus, former parliamentary secretary for climate change and energy efficiency in Australia, writes on the Guardian that: “Abbott now seems determined to ensure that good policies implemented over the past six years by Labor are torn down as fast as possible, regardless of their economic merit, regardless of the negative impact this might have on the jobs and businesses that have been created…”

Just a couple of days ago, Abbott did what he promised in his election campaign: he introduced a repeal bill to the Australian parliament that will scrap the country’s controversial carbon tax.

"This is our bill to reduce your bills, to reduce the bills of the people of Australia," Abbott proclaimed. But critics say that Abbott is doing just the opposite. Adam Bandt, from the Greens in Australia, writes that "there’s nothing new about conservatives slowing down the pace of reform, offering paternal protection and preserving the status quo." But "global warming is already damaging the health and the way of life of ordinary Australians and unless we act those threats will become catastrophic. [...] If our prime minister truly wants to protect the Australian people, he must help fend off dangerous global warming, the country’s biggest ever threat."

Abbott has campaigned with the promise of getting Australia back on track. But in reality he is moving Australia backwards.

Photo credit: DonkeyHotey (cc).
Green Blog has been around for years. In fact, we’ve been red and green since early 2007. That’s nearly seven years now. For me, it feels like 2007 was just the other day. Time really does go by fast when you’re having fun. But, if you’re been with us since the launch back in 2007, you know the road has been bumpy – to say the least.

The site has undergone several large re-designs, usually one every year. And along the way Green Blog have switched focus – from being a green news aggregator, to a blog that mainly covered environmentally friendly webhosts, energy efficient server technologies and solutions to the Green Blog of today that covers a wide range of environmental topics. And now, Green Blog is about to switch focus again.

Today we unveil the new Green Blog website.

The new Green Blog has a large focus on you, our reader. Green Blog is no longer just a blog – it’s a community. You will, of course, still get the latest environment news on our frontpage from authors around the world. But now, on the new Green Blog you can also discuss topics that are important to you in our environment forums and create your very own green blog.

Registration is free and you can sign up in seconds with your Google, Twitter or Facebook account. If you register now, you will gain access to all of our features. Once registered and logged in, you will be able to create topics, post replies to existing threads, give reputation to your fellow members, get your own private messenger, post status updates, manage your profile and so much more.

To be honest, I can’t really understand why you are still browsing Green Blog as a regular guest reader…

All this might sounds breathtakingly amazing. But it was not an easy decision to make this move.

To be able to create the new Green Blog we had to move to a completely new publishing system. You can think of it in terms of moving to a new house, which is located in another country with a different language and culture.

We used the very popular blogging platform Wordpress to run the old Green Blog. There is a reason for why Wordpress is number one on the web – it’s a great blogging tool! Unfortunately it isn’t that great when you also want to run a community. And in recent months, as you might have noticed, we haven’t updated Green Blog with new articles. I’ll be honest. At times it has been very quiet here. In part that is due to real life getting in the way. But more, the lack of updates can be blamed on severe technical difficulties with Wordpress.

For the past months we have been unable to properly manage Green Blog. Every time we tried to publish a new article the website have crashed. It didn’t matter how long – or short – it was. Once we pressed on that publish button our server came crashing down. A lot of time have been spent on pinpointing the cause of this error. We have tried to completely overhaul our website in a fruitless attempt to reduce server load. We have switched to new webhosts, upgraded to faster and faster servers. All this made some progress – but far from enough. That is when we decided to move away from Wordpress and instead use the IPS Community Suite - the system which our new Green Blog runs on.

Those server errors we experienced on Wordpress made the decision even more pressing – and easer to make. The transition to our new Green Blog isn’t finished yet – a lot of work remains. For example, most of our links are now broken. And hundreds upon hundreds of our articles need to be properly updated to the new system.

But despite all this, I still think it was the right decision to make all these new and drastic changes to Green Blog. This new publishing system will allow us to take Green Blog to the next level, so to speak.

Change is good, but it can also be difficult. So please, have patience while we transition to this new system (you can ). And while you wait, why not sign up for a free Green Blog account!?
Emissions shrank rapidly during the recession, then bounced back slightly as the economy recovered. But shifting market conditions, pollution regulations, and changing behaviors are also behind the decline.

Oil is the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States. After a steep drop following the 1979 oil crisis, emissions from oil climbed steadily until 2005, when they peaked at 715 million tons of carbon. Since then, these emissions have fallen by 14 percent, or 101 million tons of carbon - the equivalent of taking 77 million cars off the road. (See data.)

Oil is mostly used for transportation, so vehicle fuel efficiency and the number of miles driven determine the amount of emissions. On both fronts things are improving. Average fuel efficiency, which had been deteriorating for years in the United States, started to increase in 2005 and keeps getting better. Americans are traveling farther on each gallon of gas than ever before.

Furthermore, people are driving less. For many years Americans as a group drove billions more miles each year than the previous one. But in 2007 this changed. Now more cars stay parked because more people live in urban areas, opt for public transit, work remotely, or retire and thus no longer commute to work.

Coal - the dirtiest fossil fuel - has dominated the U.S. power grid, but its grip has weakened in recent years. As the price of natural gas has fallen, utilities are dropping coal. They are also deciding to retire old, inefficient coal plants and invest elsewhere rather than pay for retrofits in order to meet increasingly stringent pollution regulations.

Strong grassroots work, too, is helping to close the curtain on coal even faster. The Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign, which coordinates efforts across the country to retire old plants and prevent new ones from being built, tallies 149 coal plants that plan to retire or switch fuels out of more than 500. As falling natural gas prices, pollution regulations, and shrinking electricity demand reduce coal use, U.S. carbon emissions from coal have fallen 20 percent from their peak in 2005.

Meanwhile, natural gas consumption for electricity generation and heating has increased. Carbon dioxide emissions from burning natural gas hit an all-time high of 373 million tons of carbon in 2012, up 17 percent above 2006 levels. They are projected to remain at that level in 2013. Natural gas emits about half as much carbon dioxide per unit of energy as coal does. With domestic production on the rise, the share of carbon emissions from natural gas are likely to continue to increase.

But electricity does not have to come with a huge carbon hangover. Wind and solar power - carbon-free energy sources with no fuel costs - have been taking off. U.S. wind power capacity has more than tripled since 2007 and now produces enough energy to power over 15 million homes in the United States. Solar power capacity, starting from a smaller base, increased 14-fold in the same time period. Although wind and solar power currently account for only a small share of total energy production, their prices will continue to drop as deployment increases. In some areas wind is already cheaper than coal. This is just the beginning of reductions in carbon dioxide emissions as the explosive growth of wind and solar power cuts down the use of dirty fossil fuels.

The switch to renewables cannot come soon enough. Accumulating greenhouse gas emissions from the United States and other countries have led to a global temperature increase of 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.8 degrees Celsius) since the Industrial Revolution. Higher emissions will lead to higher temperatures that will bring more heat waves, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels. In 2009, President Obama set a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Putting a price on carbon would help accelerate the trends that are cutting the United States' carbon contribution and allow the country to exceed this goal.

By Emily E. Adams. For more information on the U.S. transition to wind power, see "Iowa and South Dakota Approach 25 Percent Electricity from Wind in 2012," by J. Matthew Roney.

Photo credit: freefotouk (cc).
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released its Fifth Assessment Report on the Physical Science Basis for Climate Change. It summarizes what scientists now know about the causes and extent of climate change.

It concludes that it is “extremely likely” that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century, and that the observed changes “ are unprecedented over decades to millennia.”

“Global surface temperature change for the end of the 21st century is projected to be likely to exceed 1.5°C relative to 1850 to 1900 in all but the lowest scenario considered, and likely to exceed 2°C for the two high scenarios,” said Co-Chair Thomas Stocker. “Heat waves are very likely to occur more frequently and last longer. As the Earth warms, we expect to see currently wet regions receiving more rainfall, and dry regions receiving less, although there will be exceptions.”

The report finds with high confidence that ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010.

Headline messages in the IPCC report:
Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.
Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years.
Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence). It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0-700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010, and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971.
Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence).
The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millennia (high confidence). Over the period 1901–2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.19 [0.17 to 0.21] m.
The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. CO2 concentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. The ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification.
Total radiative forcing is positive, and has led to an uptake of energy by the climate system. The largest contribution to total radiative forcing is caused by the increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 since 1750.
Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system.
Climate models have improved since the AR4. Models reproduce observed continental-scale surface temperature patterns and trends over many decades, including the more rapid warming since the mid-20th century and the cooling immediately following large volcanic eruptions (very high confidence).
Observational and model studies of temperature change, climate feedbacks and changes in the Earth’s energy budget together provide confidence in the magnitude of global warming in response to past and future forcing.
Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes. This evidence for human influence has grown since AR4. It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.
Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
Global surface temperature change for the end of the 21st century is likely to exceed 1.5°C relative to 1850 to 1900 for all RCP scenarios except RCP2.6. It is likely to exceed 2°C for RCP6.0 and RCP8.5, and more likely than not to exceed 2°C for RCP4.5. Warming will continue beyond 2100 under all RCP scenarios except RCP2.6. Warming will continue to exhibit interannual-to-decadal variability and will not be regionally uniform.
Changes in the global water cycle in response to the warming over the 21st century will not be uniform. The contrast in precipitation between wet and dry regions and between wet and dry seasons will increase, although there may be regional exceptions.
The global ocean will continue to warm during the 21st century. Heat will penetrate from the surface to the deep ocean and affect ocean circulation.
It is very likely that the Arctic sea ice cover will continue to shrink and thin and that Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover will decrease during the 21st century as global mean surface temperature rises. Global glacier volume will further decrease.
Global mean sea level will continue to rise during the 21st century. Under all RCP scenarios the rate of sea level rise will very likely exceed that observed during 1971–2010 due to increased ocean warming and increased loss of mass from glaciers and ice sheets.
Climate change will affect carbon cycle processes in a way that will exacerbate the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere (high confidence). Further uptake of carbon by the ocean will increase ocean acidification.
Cumulative emissions of CO2 largely determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond. Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped. This represents a substantial multi-century climate change commitment created by past, present and future emissions of CO2.

Russia's Federal Security Service has announced that they've seized the Arctic Sunrise and its crew following a protest against oil drilling in Arctic waters. The Greenpeace ship has now been towed to port in Murmansk where an investigation will be conducted. A Russian official have said that the Greenpeace activists, totaling 27 or 30 depending on source, could face piracy charges.

Greenpeace strongly rejects these allegations and describes them as a desperate attempt to justify the illegal boarding of their ship in international waters.

"The suggestion that Greenpeace engaged in piracy this week smacks of real desperation," said Greenpeace International's General Counsel Jasper Teulings. "The activists climbed Gazprom's Arctic oil platform for a completely safe and peaceful protest against dangerous drilling, carrying only banners and rope. Piracy laws do not apply to safe and peaceful protests."

"Over a day after our protest the Russian Coast guard boarded our ship outside of territorial waters, where there is right of free passage, with no legal justification whatsoever," Teulings added. "This looks like a retrospective attempt to create that justification and avoid embarrassment."

Greenpeace organized protests outside Russian embassies on 20 locations around the world today following the boarding. They have also called on people to contact Russian embassies and demand the immediate release of the ship and its crew. So far about 400 000 letters have been sent.

"We will contest these allegations strongly and we continue to demand the release of our activists and the ship," Teulings said.
The Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is in the process of finalizing its next report, due to be released in four volumes between Fall 2013 and Spring 2014. These reports, which have come out every seven years over the past several decades, represent the combined consensus views of thousands of climate scientists.

Draft copies of some of the reports are now being leaked. While the IPCC correctly responds to criticism of these as premature, since they are by no means finalized yet, there are some things we can already be certain of.

1. The certainty on the part of the vast majority of climate scientists that global warming is real and is at the very least primarily caused by human action has been growing with each new IPCC report. That trend will continue in the upcoming report. All the criteria for such certainty have long ago passed 90 percent, and just keep getting confirmed by new scientific study, by extreme weather events in the real world, by unprecedented droughts in many parts of the world, by the increasing acidity of the world's oceans, and much more.

2. Because the IPCC works on the basis of summarizing thousands of other scientific studies, it tends to be both wide-ranging in outlook and also somewhat conservative in its predictions. In each report, seven years apart, the "worst-case" predictions of the previous report have become the "most likely" predictions. This too will continue, as new studies confirm and deepen our collective knowledge about the world's climate system, how it works, how it is interconnected to all other natural systems (water, oceans, soil, plant life, etc.), and how changes in each of these systems affect all the others.

3. It appears that this latest report will include consideration for the first time of the impact on sea levels from the melting of ice in Greenland, predicting even higher sea level increases than in previous reports. However, it still will not include consideration of the impact on climate change of the melting of the permafrost across the top of the Northern Hemisphere. This is important because this melting releases massive amounts of previously frozen methane and carbon dioxide. This can exacerbate global warming caused by direct human interference in the climate, creating a feedback loop that will make greenhouse gas emissions much worse, and from a source that humans do not have any control over.

4. As each year passes, it becomes more difficult and more expensive to institute measures to reduce global warming. This creates a political paradox - the more we need such measures, the more proof there is of the reality of climate change, the more time passes, then the measures we need to take become more expensive and more massive, and the political will to do the right thing becomes more difficult. With each step toward certainty, the right-wing cries against reality become more shrill - another trend with no end in sight.

5. We can be certain that at least some of the press coverage of the final report will focus on anything that can be used to downplay the significance of the problem. This report will likely discuss the phenomenon that increases in average air temperatures have slowed over the past few years, and deniers will seize on this to undercut the need for change. But since all the world's natural systems are integrated at every level, average air temperatures, which are still increasing, are only one part of a very complex equation. If you take into account the rapidly increasing acidity of the ocean, which results from the ocean absorbing carbon dioxide, there has been no slowing of the impacts climate change is making on the real world. But some press coverage will focus on any piece which, taken out of context, can be used to make people feel that the situation is not as bad as it really is.

6. Similarly, right-wing efforts to discredit climate change science, in addition to becoming increasingly shrill, also rely on overly simplified nonsense. Every year, when there is still a winter it will be used to claim that "global warming isn't real - we still have winter!" But this ignores how climate change works. It doesn't eliminate seasons, it makes the high temperatures greater. Just because we still have beaches in Florida doesn't mean that sea levels aren't increasing, and that increase will speed up over the coming decades. Right-wingers also focus on what is happening this year or next, to the exclusion of looking at the real long-term trends in the climate. This year may be about the same as last year in terms of the number and intensity of forest fires, for example, but the more than five decade long trend is for more forest fires burning at greater intensities. This winter may or may not be warmer than last year's, but the long-term trend is for Autumn to last longer and Spring to arrive earlier.

7. As many have pointed out, the right-wing attacks on climate science have little or nothing to do with the science itself; they are based on a rejection of what will be required to combat global warming. Government action on a large scale is required, as are restrictions on what businesses can do especially regarding greenhouse gas emissions. When right-wingers sneer at the science, they are really fearful of what will happen to their financial supporters in the fossil fuel industries.

We can predict, with 100 percent certainty, that the upcoming IPCC report will confirm that global climate change is real, it is getting worse, it is caused mostly or entirely by human activity, and that we need to act to combat it - to reduce emissions, to adapt to the coming crises a warming world will bring on top of the huge impacts we have already seen.

This article was first published in People's World by Marc Brodine.
It's been more than 48 hours since armed Russian security officers boarded the Arctic Sunrise and arrested around 30 Greenpeace activists following a protest against oil drilling in Arctic waters. Details are still sketchy but the Greenpeace ship is apparently now being towed by the Russian coastguard to the nearest harbor with the ship's crew being held onboard at gunpoint.

"They used violence against some of us, they were hitting people, kicking people down, pushing people," said Faiza Oulahsen in a phone call from the ship before communications were cut.

Russian officials have accused Greenpeace of "aggressive and provocative" behavior during the oil drilling protest earlier this week. Liliya Moroz, a representative of the Federal Security Service (FSB) in the Murmansk region, has said to local media that the activists could now face terrorism or piracy charges. If charged with terrorism the activists could face a minimum of 10 years in prison. Greenpeace have been unable to make contact with their activists onboard the Arctic Sunrise and they have not yet received no official confirmation from Russian security services.

"This is the clear detention of people against their will," said Vladimir Chuprov, head of the energy department at Greenpeace Russia. "Terrorism is a very serious crime."

FSB has said that they've been co-ordinating actions with the Russian foreign ministry and energy giant Gazprom "to protect the safety of the crew on the platform and defend the interests of the Russian Federation in the Arctic region."

But Greenpeace says these accusations are dishonest because the "unidentified object" was their safety pod, and it was brightly coloured and branded with the environmental organization's famous logo. Greenpeace have also said that the boarding was illegal because their ship was on international waters and outside the jurisdiction of Russian authorities.

Jasper Teulings, a Greenpeace lawyer told Reuters that "the only reason the ship can be boarded inside the EEZ, (exclusive economic zone) is when there is suspected breach of fisheries regulation or suspected substantial discharge in violation of environmental regulation. Neither is the case. Other grounds could be piracy or slavery, so it's clear that none of these apply."

Teulings also stressed that "the situation at the moment is actually unclear," and that we don't know yet whether the Greenpeace ship have been seized. "We would be surprised if it had been [seized], because that would have been illegal," Teulings said. "We do know that the ship is being held by the coastguard, and we are taking every step in our power at this moment, including international diplomacy, to ensure the swift release of the activists and we are in touch with their families."

Follow Green Blog

Subscribe to our RSS feed and stay updated with out latest posts and articles. You can also subscribe to our newsletter and get weekly updates. Follow us on Twitter, Google+ or Facebook.

About Green Blog

Green Blog has been online since 2007. We have green news from authors around the world, environment forums and member blogs.

We believe that human and civil rights, global peace, equality and democracy all plays central roles in safeguarding our environment and improving - in a sustainable and non-destructive way - the lives of all people on this fragile planet. Green Blog encourage people to take direct non-violent action against CO2 emitting sources and protest against the current climate change inaction.