Sunday, May 20, 2007

On the Environmental Front.

The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reports this:

Based on preliminary data, globally averaged combined land and sea surface temperature was the warmest on record for January-April year-to-date period and third warmest for April.

Global land surface temperature was warmest on record in April. Temperatures were above average in Europe, Alaska, western U.S., eastern Brazil, northwestern Africa, and most of Asia. Cooler-than-average conditions occurred in the Middle East Region and the eastern half of the contiguous U.S.

Precipitation during April 2007 was above average in the Northeast region of the contiguous U.S. and most of South America. Drier than average conditions were observed in Japan, southeastern U.S., southeastern China and most of Europe.

Another piece of bad news is that the Southern Ocean around Antarctica is loaded with carbon dioxide, and it is worse than anticipated. (details here).

It would appear that the world is reaching a consensus. Well not, exactly everyone. There are still right-wing deniers, and of course, there is Exxon. (not so long ago they had a campaign claiming that CO2 was actually a good thing. It is all a question of perspective, I imagine.). They may have softened their public message, but it seems they continue to pump out lies.

The other problem is that the solution recommended by the Bush administration of using corn to produce ethanol (which would have the advantage of reducing both the U.S.'s dependency on foreign oil and the level of CO2 emission) may seem like a good idea but actually is not, neither from an economic nor from an environmental perspective.

That is not to say that there is no positive news coming from the U.S. and California is leading on environmental policy, more so than any other European country. In fact, this is another great example of the how quick generalization about America being the greatest 'evil' on the topic of the environment is idiotic. And this is just one example. Granted more needs to be done at the federal and even at the international level. But at least the most populous state in the US has some positive influence and it is governed by a Republican.

The new French cabinet under newly-elected president Sarkozy has a former prime minister, (Alain Juppe) named as number two in the government at the head of a newly-formed environment, sustainable development, energy and transport superministry. This nomination is giving weight to the question of the environment. We'll see what comes out of it, but we can be reasonably hopeful.


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