Energy and Global Warming News for August 28: Climate change causing severe food shortages in Nepal

Millions in Nepal Facing Hunger as Climate Changes

Millions of people in Nepal face severe food shortages because global climate change has disrupted weather patterns and slashed crop yields in the Himalayan nation, an international aid agency warned Friday.

Changing weather patterns have dramatically affected crop production in Nepal, leaving farmers unable to properly feed themselves and pushing them into debt, Oxfam International said in a report released in Katmandu.

The British aid agency described the situation as ”deeply worrying.”

”Communities told us crop production is roughly half that of previous years … Last year many could only grow enough (food) for one month’s consumption,” said Oxfam’s Wayne Gum, adding that less precipitation has been forecast this winter, which will make the situation worse.

More extreme temperatures, drier winters and delays in summer monsoons have all compounded the situation, the report said.

More than 3.4 million people in Nepal are estimated to require food assistance, and food stocks in farming communities will last only a few months, it warned.

Oxfam said Nepal will likely suffer more frequent droughts because of climate change. River levels will decline due to the reduced rainfall and glacial retreat, making it harder to irrigate crops and provide water for livestock.

Here is the report, Even the Himalayas Have Stopped Smiling:  Climate Change, Poverty and Adaptation in Nepal.

NAM Targeting Senators on Cap-and-Trade With Multimillion Dollar Ad Buy

The National Association of Manufacturers has begun targeting Senators in seven states on cap-and-trade legislation that awaits the Senate when it returns in less than two weeks.

The trade group on Thursday announced a multimillion dollar television, radio and Internet advertising buy in Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio and Virginia. Each of those states is represented by one, or in some cases two, Senators who are viewed as swing votes on the climate change bill.

One of the likely targets, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), has acknowledged she has some reservations about the legislation.

Specter targeted by energy group on cap-and-trade legislation

The American Energy Alliance has been in Pennsylvania, targeting consumers about cap-and-trade legislation it says will cost Pennsylvania families $125 a month.

The ads target Sen. Arlen Specter, the new Democrat.

At a town hall meeting on Aug. 11, Specter did not say he opposes cap-and-trade legislation, but told an audience that the House version of the bill has problems and that in the Senate, there will be attention paid to legislation that effectively ships jobs overseas as a result of tighter regulations on emissions and energy.

Clean Energy Patents Hit Record High in the US

According to intellectual property law firm Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti P.C., who publishes the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index (CEPGI) every quarter, 274 clean energy patents were granted last quarter. This is 31 more than the previous quarter and 57 more than in the same quarter last year.

This is a good sign that clean technology will continue to provide the US with a greater and greater share of its energy. Additionally, clean technology in the transportation sector is advancing at great speed and with momentum and maybe we will find our way out of gas and oil related crises soon. Fuel cell* technology is leading the way. Victor Cardona, co-chair of the firm’s Cleantech Group, states: “Fuel cells continued to dominate the other technologies while wind and solar patents continued an upswing. Honda earned more patents than the other patentees to again claim the Clean Energy Patent Crown.”

UN chief urges world to ‘seize day’ on climate

The U.N. chief is urging the world to “seize the day” on climate change ahead of a major conference on global warming set for December in Copenhagen.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the threat posed by greenhouse gas emissions underscores how the world’s nations must all take action. Ban says the outcome of the Copenhagen conference “will impact the planet for generations to come.”

Ban says he also plans to visit the North Pole soon – and he hopes that will send an important message to the international community about the need to tighten pollution controls.

He says “the future of humanity and planet Earth are at stake.”

Air pollution lawsuit: Federal and state lawyers sue Midwest Generation over Illinois power plant emissions

From the outside, the power plant that towers above Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood looks like a sooty relic from the early part of the last century. The Fisk plant has been burning coal to generate electricity on the Near West Side since 1903.

The Fisk plant has been burning coal to generate electricity on the Near West Side since 1903. But federal and state lawyers alleged Thursday that its internal parts — the massive boiler, steam chest and turbine — have been repeatedly upgraded without the modern pollution controls required under the Clean Air Act.

By steadily replacing worn out equipment, a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court alleges, owner Midwest Generation kept Fisk and five other power plants operating well past the time when they otherwise would have been closed. The noxious smoke churning out of the plants makes them some of the biggest contributors to dirty air in the Chicago area, according to federal records.

The 75-page lawsuit marks a renewed effort by the Obama administration to crack down on emissions from coal-fired power plants, an undertaking that languished under former President George W. Bush. Coal plants are major sources of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, toxic mercury and other pollutants that create lung-damaging soot and smog.

Salazar: Let’s take renewable energy lead

The United States can fall behind the rest of the world in addressing renewable energy and climate change, or it can take the lead, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told a large group of students and area residents at Fossil Ridge High School on Thursday.

At the two-hour regional forum on President Barack Obama’s “Clean Energy Economy” agenda, Salazar, Gov. Bill Ritter, Democratic Rep. Betsy Markey and representatives of the White House and the states of Washington and California stumped for future congressional climate legislation focusing on renewable energy and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.Ritter said his vision for such a clean energy economy in Colorado means creating an “ecosystem” in Colorado supporting research and development of renewable energy technology, something that is already quite robust here.

Is China Ready to Play Ball on Global Warming?

China is finally tackling climate change head on. Sort of.

The Chinese parliament passed a resolution today calling for the country to “control” greenhouse-gas emissions and promote energy efficiency, lower energy consumption, and more renewable energy, Reuters reports. That’s the culmination of a spate of Chinese reports from government and academia warning about the environmental impacts of the country’s current growth path.

Now, that’s not quite the same as accepting a cap on greenhouse-gas emissions, as many Western countries (and especially, many Republican legislators) want as a condition for even more aggressive action from rich countries. It’s really a continuation of the two-pronged approach China’s been following for years: use energy more efficiently and ramp-up clean energy.

Still, Chinese observers at least figure the non-binding political statement will give China more leverage at the big climate summit in Copenhagen in December. And Chinese legislators hope the new statement will derail U.S. talk of slapping Chinese exports with “carbon tariffs.”

Indonesia agency seeks sweeping CO2 emissions cuts

An Indonesian environment agency has set out a roadmap for the government to adopt forestry, energy, transport, industrial and agriculture policies that would slash carbon emissions by the world’s No. 3 emitter.Indonesia’s government-backed National Climate Change Council, or NCCC, said significant cuts in emissions could be made through efforts to conserve forests and peatlands, among its top recommendations in a report published this week ahead of the key climate change talks in Copenhagen in December.

Study says shines light on sun spot-climate link

The sun is presently in a calm period after reaching a solar minimum at the end of last year, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the United States.

The next solar peak is expected in May 2013. (For more details, see:

“This paper represents a useful step forward in understanding how solar activity may lead to modest but detectable climatic effects,” said Brad Carter, senior lecturer in physics at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia.

“It is a good reminder that solar activity is not an explanation of global warming over recent decades.”

9 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for August 28: Climate change causing severe food shortages in Nepal

  1. Dave says:

    Hey Joe,

    I was reading an article from the AOL homepage today entitled “Suicidal Planet May Crash Into Its Star” and all I could think was what about the suicidal planet a lot closer to home. You know, the one commonly called Earth. Of course, maybe it wouldn’t be entirely appropriate to refer to the Earth as suicidal – but rather it’s allegedly intelligent inhabitants. Of course, since it’s us afflicting this on the earth, I suppose it would be a case of homicide and not suicide after all.


  2. Michael Y says:

    In todays NYTimes, there is an article on costs of adaptation:

    Incredibly, the reporter gets the thing ENTIRELY wrong, confusing the costs of reducing CO2 with adaptation costs if we don’t do so. Wow.

  3. paulm says:

    Lack of rain has Cayman parched

    By Alan Markoff,
    Thursday 27th August, 2009 Posted: 17:13 CIT (22:13 GMT)

    > Comment on this story

    Caribbean also has drought impact…

    Grand Cayman is experiencing the driest year in recorded history

    Grand Cayman is experiencing the driest year in recorded history, possibly because of the El Niño event in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

    John Tibbetts, chief meteorologist of the Cayman Islands National Weather Service, said that through 25 August, there had only been 7.67 inches of rain in 2009.

    “The 7.67 inches recorded so far for the year is the driest over that period on record,” Mr. Tibbetts said. “In fact, the second driest [year through August] on record was 1974 with 18.62 inches, which was more than twice as much rainfall as we have experienced this year.”

  4. David B. Benson says:

    Nepal is experiencing, unfortunately, monsoon failure. So is North India.

    Will these failures be more common from now on?

  5. From Peru says:

    Developing countries are suffering the worst impacts of climate change , this is a massive humanitarian emergency, and the last time we need are patent restrictions that will prevent those countries to develop clean tecnologies.

    It would be a great thing if some of the “carbon credits” were given to enterprises in exchange of exonerating developing countries from patent restrictions.

  6. From Peru says:

    JR: Do you know some Nepali politics?

    Specifically, the 10 year-long civil war(1996-2006) between the semi-feudal monarchy and the insurgents of the Communist Party of Nepal(Maoist) or more shortly, PCN(M)?

    That was a bloody war (as every civil war is) that killed tens of thousands of nepalis and finally lead to the downfall of the monarchy and the call for elections to a Constituent Assembly in 2007 that decided to abolish the monarchy and estalish a Federal Democratic Republic.

    The maoists won the elections (actually they won the relative majority of seats in the assembly, not the absolute one)and their leader known by his knickname Prachanda, became prime minister in late 2008.

    But story doesn’t ended there. The UN-promoted peace accords that ended the war in 2006 mandated that the maoist guerrilla will give up the arms, but in exchange they should be integrated in the National Army.

    The armed forces head (understandably) opposed that. Prachanda tried to pull him out of his office, but the President of the Republic restored him in office. The conflict between the two leaders lead Prachanda to quit the government.

    The president formed a new , more centre-like government with the other two major politiucal parties (the Nepali Congress Party and the moderate communists of PCN-UML), and Maoists passed to opposition and organized massive street protests against the new government.

    This year of natural disaters is the worst that can happen to a country devastated by war and still suffering intense political struggles.

    I hope that this disaster do not spark a new civil war.

    [JR: I did not know the politics, and greatly appreciate your posting this analysis.]

  7. Mike D says:

    Nice insight, Peru. Thanks and I too hope the situation in Nepal does not spiral down further.

  8. From Peru says:

    Thank you for the attention. It will be really tragic ,specially considering that the end of the civil war initiated a wave of profound change and reform in Nepal.

    The autocratic monarchy was abolished and a Federal Democratic Republic takes its place. The Maoists abandoned the armed struggle and decided to guide the reform process peacefully and democratically (they demanded the end of monarchy and Costituent Assembly elections in the first place, while the other political parties just wanted a costitutional monarchy).

    Now that the Maoists are in the opposition, I hope their leaders are smart enought to not resume the armed struggle. They have yet to demonstrate that can be a democratic force even in the political opposition.

    The people of Nepal have had more than enought of war and violence. If the ex-guerrilla leaders really want to change the country, they must understand that.

  9. green energy says:

    This is really disappointing that these much chaos are happening due to climate change.We must have to take remedy measures against these.