Arquivo mensal: novembro 2011


Volume 12 Number 522 – Monday, 21 November 2011

The 34th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was held from 18-19 November 2011 in Kampala, Uganda. The session was attended by more than two hundred participants, including representatives from governments, the United Nations, and intergovernmental and observer organizations. Participants focused primarily on the workstreams resulting from the consideration of the InterAcademy Council (IAC) Review of the IPCC processes and procedures, namely those on: procedures, conflict of interest policy, and communications strategy.

The Panel adopted the revised Procedures for the Preparation, Review, Acceptance, Adoption, Approval and Publication of IPCC Reports, as well as the Implementation Procedures and Disclosure Form for the Conflict of Interest Policy. The Panel also formally accepted the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) of the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX), approved by WGs I and II at their joint meeting from 14-17 November 2011. Delegates also addressed issues such as the programme and budget, matters related to other international bodies, and progress reports.


The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Its purpose is to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the risks associated with human-induced climate change, its potential impacts, and options for adaptation and mitigation. The IPCC does not undertake new research, nor does it monitor climate-related data, but it conducts assessments on the basis of published and peer-reviewed scientific and technical literature.

The IPCC has three Working Groups (WGs): WGI addresses the scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change; WGII addresses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, impacts of climate change and adaptation options; and WGIII addresses options for limiting greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change. Each WG has two Co-Chairs and six Vice-Chairs, except WGIII, which for the Fifth Assessment cycle has three Co-Chairs. The Co-Chairs guide the WGs in fulfilling the mandates given to them by the Panel and are assisted in this task by Technical Support Units (TSUs).

The IPCC also has a Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFI). TFI oversees the IPCC National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme, which aims to develop and refine an internationally agreed methodology and software for the calculation and reporting of national greenhouse gas emissions and removals, and to encourage the use of this methodology by parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA) is an entity set up to address WG needs for data, especially WGII and WGIII. The TGICA facilitates distribution and application of climate change related data and scenarios, and oversees a Data Distribution Centre, which provides data sets, scenarios of climate change and other environmental and socio-economic conditions, and other materials.

The IPCC Bureau is elected by the Panel for the duration of the preparation of an IPCC assessment report (approximately six years). Its role is to assist the IPCC Chair in planning, coordinating and monitoring the work of the IPCC. The Bureau is composed of climate change experts representing all regions. Currently, the Bureau comprises 31 members: the Chair of the IPCC, the Co-Chairs of the three WGs and the Bureau of the TFI (TFB), the IPCC Vice-Chairs, and the Vice-Chairs of the three WGs. The IPCC Secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland, and is hosted by the WMO.

IPCC PRODUCTS: Since its inception, the IPCC has prepared a series of comprehensive assessments, special reports and technical papers that provide scientific information on climate change to the international community and are subject to extensive review by experts and governments.

The IPCC has so far undertaken four comprehensive assessments of climate change, each credited with playing a key role in advancing negotiations under the UNFCCC: the First Assessment Report was completed in 1990; the Second Assessment Report in 1995; the Third Assessment Report in 2001; and the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) in 2007. At its 28th session in 2008, the IPCC decided to undertake a Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) to be completed in 2014.

The latest Assessment Reports are structured into three volumes, one for each WG. Each volume is comprised of a SPM, a Technical Summary and an underlying assessment report. All assessment sections of the reports undergo a thorough review process, which takes place in three stages: a first review by experts; a second review by experts and governments; and a third review by governments. Each SPM is approved line-by-line by each respective WG. The Assessment Report also includes a Synthesis Report (SYR), highlighting the most relevant aspects of the three WG reports, and a SPM of the SYR, which is approved line-by-line by the Panel. More than 450 lead authors, 800 contributing authors, 2500 expert reviewers and 130 governments participated in the elaboration of the AR4.

In addition to the comprehensive assessments, the IPCC produces special reports, methodology reports and technical papers, focusing on specific issues related to climate change. Special reports prepared by the IPCC include: Aviation and the Global Atmosphere (1999); Land Use, Land-use Change and Forestry (2000); Methodological and Technical Issues in Technology Transfer (2000); Safeguarding the Ozone Layer and the Global Climate System (2005); Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage (2005); Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) (2011); and, most recently, the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) (2011). Technical papers have been prepared on Climate Change and Biodiversity (2002) and on Climate Change and Water (2008), among others.

The IPCC also produces methodology reports or guidelines to assist countries in reporting on greenhouse gases. The IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories were first released in 1994 and a revised set was completed in 1996. Additional Good Practice Guidance reports were approved by the Panel in 2000 and 2003. The latest version, the IPCC Guidelines on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, was approved by the Panel in 2006.

For all this work and its efforts to “build up and disseminate greater knowledge about manmade climate change, and to lay the foundations that are needed to counteract such change,” the IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with former US Vice President Al Gore, in December 2007.

IPCC-28: This session was held from 9-10 April 2008, in Budapest, Hungary, with discussions centering on the future of the IPCC, including key aspects of its work programme such as WG structure, main type and timing of future reports, and the future structure of the IPCC Bureau and the TFB. At this session, the IPCC agreed to prepare the AR5 and to retain the current structure of its WGs. In order to enable significant use of new scenarios in the AR5, the Panel requested the Bureau to ensure delivery of the WGI report by early 2013 and completion of the other WG reports and the SYR at the earliest feasible date in 2014. The Panel also agreed to prepare the SRREN Report, to be completed by 2010. Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of IPCC 28 can be found at:

IPCC-29: This session, which commemorated the IPCC’s 20th anniversary, was held from 31 August to 4 September 2008, in Geneva, Switzerland. At this time, the Panel elected the new IPCC Bureau and the TFB, and re-elected Rajendra Pachauri (India) as IPCC Chair. The Panel also continued its discussions on the future of the IPCC and agreed to create a scholarship fund for young climate change scientists from developing countries with the funds from the Nobel Peace Prize. It also asked the Bureau to consider a scoping meeting on the SREX, which took place from 23-26 March 2009 in Oslo, Norway. Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of IPCC-29 can be found at:

IPCC-30: This session was held from 21-23 April 2009 in Antalya, Turkey. At the meeting, the Panel focused mainly on the near-term future of the IPCC and provided guidance for an AR5 scoping meeting, which was held in Venice, Italy, from 13-17 July 2009. The Panel also gathered climate change experts to propose the chapter outlines of WG contributions to the AR5. Earth Negotiations Bulletincoverage of IPCC 30 can be found at:

IPCC-31: This session was held from 26-29 October 2009 in Bali, Indonesia. Discussions focused on approval of the proposed AR5 chapter outlines developed by participants at the Venice scoping meeting. The Panel also considered progress on the implementation of decisions taken at IPCC 30 regarding the involvement of scientists from developing countries and countries with economies in transition, use of electronic technologies, and the longer-term future of the IPCC. Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of IPCC 31 can be found at:

INTERACADEMY COUNCIL REVIEW: In response to public criticism of the IPCC related to inaccuracies in the AR4 and the Panel’s response, as well as questions about the integrity of some of its members, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri requested the IAC to conduct an independent review of the IPCC processes and procedures and to present recommendations to strengthen the IPCC and ensure the on-going quality of its reports. The IAC presented its results in a report in August 2010. The IAC Review makes recommendations regarding: management structure; a communications strategy, including a plan to respond to crises; transparency, including criteria for selecting participants and the type of scientific and technical information to be assessed; and consistency in how the WGs characterize uncertainty.

IPCC-32: This session, held from 11-14 October 2010 in Busan, Republic of Korea, addressed the recommendations of the IAC Review. The Panel adopted a number of decisions in response to the IAC Review, including on the treatment of grey literature and uncertainty, and on a process to address errors in previous reports. To address recommendations that required further examination, the Panel established task groups on processes and procedures, communications, conflict of interest policy, and management and governance. The Panel also accepted a revised outline for the AR5 SYR. Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of IPCC 32 can be found at:

SRREN: The eleventh session of WGIII met from 5-8 May 2011 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and approved the Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) and its SPM. Discussions focused, among others, on chapters addressing sustainable development, biomass and policy. Key findings of the SRREN include that the technical potential for renewable energies is substantially higher than projected future energy demand, and that renewable energies play a crucial role in all mitigation scenarios.

IPCC-33: The session, held from 10-13 May 2011 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, focused primarily on follow-up actions to the IAC Review of the IPCC processes and procedures. The Panel decided to establish an Executive Committee, adopted a Conflict of Interest Policy, and introduced several changes to the rules of procedure. The Panel also endorsed the actions of WGIII in relation to SRREN and its SPM and considered progress on the preparation of the AR5. Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage of IPCC 33 can be found at:

SREX: The First joint session of IPCC WGs I and II, which took place on 14-17 November in Kampala, Uganda, accepted the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) and approved its SPM. The SREX addressed the interaction of climatic, environmental and human factors leading to adverse impacts of climate extremes and disasters, options for managing the risks posed by impacts and disasters, and the important role that non-climatic factors play in determining impacts.


IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri opened the 34th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Friday, 18 November 2011, highlighting ongoing work related to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) and progress in the implementation of the InterAcademy Council (IAC) recommendations. He also referred to the communications strategy and the need to ensure policy relevance and reach out to policymakers. Pachauri said it was critically important that the results of the Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation (SRREN) and the Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) be presented to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) in Durban, South Africa. He emphasized the significance of the meeting being held in Africa, given the findings related to climate change impacts and development challenges in the region, and thanked Uganda for hosting the meeting and Norway for its support.

Norwegian Ambassador Thorbjørn Gaustadsæther highlighted that the SREX is an important tool for understanding, taking actions, and making decisions on managing the risks of extreme events and disasters. He noted that extreme weather events and their negative impacts are apparent everywhere, including in Uganda, for fishermen on the Lake Victoria who experience reduced catch, as well as in his native Norway, which experiences dramatic flooding, shrinking Arctic ice and other events. He said the SREX would be presented to governments at the Durban UNFCCC meeting and would provide a good basis for them to take action. He thanked the Ugandan government for its hospitality and said Norway was pleased to have contributed to the organization of the meeting.

Peter Gilruth, on behalf of UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, stressed the potential of the SREX, including as a foundation on which the disaster risk reduction and the climate change communities can build stronger bridges, and as a basis for environment and development work. He noted various UNEP initiatives and assessment reports, including the Programme of Research on Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts and Adaptation, the fifth Global Environmental Outlook and the Emissions Gap Assessment, and invited delegates to participate in the “Eye on Earth” summit in December to build partnerships on knowledge sharing.

Florin Vladu, on behalf of Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, updated the plenary on developments in the negotiating process, highlighting the achievements of the Cancun Agreements in establishing an institutional infrastructure, but noting a failure to address the future of the Kyoto Protocol and a mitigation framework. Vladu said that in Durban countries face a challenge to find a viable way forward, but expressed hope that the conference will help build confidence in post-2012 climate finance through clarity on long-term finance and making the Green Climate Fund operational. Vladu highlighted that the UNFCCC process has benefited from an active research dialogue with the IPCC, most recently in the form of a presentation on the SRREN at the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) session in June 2011. He also noted the special role of the IPCC in the UNFCCC review of the adequacy of the goal of limiting average global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and the overall progress towards achieving this goal, which is scheduled to commence in 2013. On SREX, he said the report would contribute both to the work of SBSTA, and Adaptation Framework, and work programme on loss and damage, once those become operational.

Noting that this has been a transformative year for the IPCC, Jeremiah Lengoasa, on behalf of World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Michel Jarraud, reaffirmed support for the work of the Panel and emphasized the importance of the IPCC’s work and procedures remaining relevant and timely. He welcomed the AR5 preparations moving ahead as scheduled and stressed that the AR5 will provide a strong basis for decision-making, including in relation to water resources, agriculture and food security. He also highlighted the role of the WMO Global Framework for Climate Services, to be launched in the near future, to further assist in decision-making.

Maria Mutagamba, Minister for Water and Environment, Uganda, expressed warm greetings from the people of Uganda and welcomed delegates to the country traditionally known as the Pearl of Africa. She said that it is with great pride that Uganda continues to participate actively in the work of the IPCC and hosts this meeting, and thanked Norway, which co-funded the session. She said that Uganda has already started experiencing extreme weather events attributed to climate change such as severe droughts, floods and increased frequency of landslides. Highlighting the inevitability of climate change, she noted that her country has adaptation policies in place. On mitigation, she underlined Uganda’s early efforts under the Clean Development Mechanism. She further noted the need to strengthen national meteorological and hydrological services in developing countries and thus expressed support for the WMO Global Framework for Climate Services. She also suggested the IPCC continue to consider the role of indigenous knowledge in areas where peer-reviewed literature is unavailable or insufficient as well as issues of technology transfer to developing countries and dissemination of information.

The Panel then observed a minute of silence for the untimely and sad passing away of Mama Konate, UNFCCC SBSTA Chair and IPCC colleague.


The draft report of IPCC-33 (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 2, Rev.1) was adopted on Friday morning with a minor editorial amendment. Belgium noted the lack of reference in the meeting minutes to the Expert Meeting on Geoengineering and the participation of media representatives in at that meeting.


This issue (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 21) was taken up by the plenary on Friday morning. The IPCC plenary formally accepted the actions taken at the Joint Session of Working Groups I and II on the SREX, including approving its Summary for Policy Makers (SPM). Underscoring the importance and usefulness of the SREX, Austria said that, among others, this landmark report introduces terminology to be understood both by the risk management and the climate change community, identifies a range of practices and options to reduce risk, and provides clarity on what the most vulnerable sectors, groups and areas are, making it of tremendous use for taking appropriate actions.


The item (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 5) was presented to the plenary on Friday afternoon. Chair Pachauri recalled that the Panel had issued a clear mandate to start very early with the AR5 Synthesis Report (SYR), and Leo Meyer, Head of the SYR Technical Support Unit (TSU), reported on process and management issues related to the SYR (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 5). Meyer noted, inter alia: the inclusion of the IPCC Vice-Chairs on the SYR writing team since they have responsibilities related to cross-cutting issues; the possibility of a workshop on UNFCCC Article 2, which could feed into the UNFCCC review of the adequacy of the Convention’s ultimate goal; and the suggestion to reduce the time of eight weeks allowed for government comments on the final draft of the SPM to six weeks given the compressed timeline of the SYR.

On the time frame, the US suggested, and the Panel agreed, to seven weeks instead of the six weeks proposed for government comments.

With regard to a possible workshop on UNFCCC Article 2, Chair Pachauri suggested inviting general comments by governments. Emphasizing the importance of the IPCC retaining distance from the policy process, the US, supported by New Zealand, Canada, Saudi Arabia and others, opposed the suggestion. Saudi Arabia underscored that the issue of Article 2 is very sensitive. The Panel agreed to have the Bureau consider the matter at its next meeting.


CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY: This issue (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 8, Rev. 1) was first addressed in the plenary on Friday and then in several meetings of a contact group co-chaired by Andrej Kranjc (Slovenia) and Jongikhaya Witi (South Africa), with Samuel Duffett (UK) as Rapporteur. The workstream on the Conflict of Interest (COI) Policy arose in response to the recommendations made in the IAC Review to develop and adopt a rigorous COI Policy. At IPCC-33 delegates adopted a COI Policy and extended the mandate of the Task Group on COI in order to develop proposals for annexes to the COI Policy covering Implementation Procedures and the Disclosure Form.

Contact group discussions focused on the draft Implementation Procedures prepared by the Task Group. During the group’s first meeting, Co-Chair Kranjc noted that the Task Group held four teleconferences in between sessions and that the WGs already have experience applying the COI Policy on an interim basis. Rapporteur Duffett then explained the proposed decision-making process on COI, noting there would be different procedures for Bureaux members and non-Bureaux members.

The discussions centered on several issues, including: which body determines whether an individual has a COI; the role of the COI Expert Advisory Group; which body is responsible for the final decision in cases of COI; cases of tolerance of COI for non-Bureaux members; and principles for considering COI issues.

On a body to determine whether an individual has a COI, the proposal of the Task Group was to form a special committee comprised of representatives from each of the six WMO regional groups. Some participants noted that implementation of COI policies is a relatively simple and technical procedure and in most cases there is no COI, so it would be an additional burden to establish a new committee and conduct elections for its members. In this regard, they suggested making use of existing bodies and assigning this function to the Executive Committee. They also suggested that the Executive Committee members would be the ones most interested in maintaining the integrity of the IPCC. Others expressed concern about Bureaux members who are part of the Executive Committee making decisions on their own COI. A compromise was reached on establishing a COI Committee composed of voting members of the Executive Committee and representatives of WMO and UNEP, with a recusal clause.

Delegates also developed principles for considering COI issues, introducing those in relation to exploring options for resolution of COI and an appeals procedure. The group added a provision requiring members of bodies involved in considering COI issues to recuse themselves from a discussion on their own COI.

The Task Group proposed that the Expert Advisory Group, which would be comprised of three representatives from WMO and UNEP, review COI forms of Bureaux nominees. However, some expressed a concern about this approach and a change was introduced that the COI Committee consults the Expert Advisory Group when it deems necessary.

Further discussion took place on which body would be responsible for a final decision on COI. An opinion was expressed that all final decisions should be made in plenary; however, others raised concerns about maintaining the confidentiality of personal information in that case. The contact group elaborated on an appeals procedure, assigning a function to the IPCC Bureau to review a COI determination on request by the individual in question.

On COI in relation to non-Bureaux members, several supported some flexibility in this regard as there are too few experts in some areas and those are often involved with industries or organizations. Delegates developed the relevant procedures on the tolerance of COI in such cases.

In the final plenary, the Panel adopted the Implementation Procedures and Disclosure Form for the COI Policy with minor editorial corrections. Chair Pachauri said COI was clearly one of the trickiest and most complex issues to address in relation to the IAC Review.

The US expressed its satisfaction with an “excellent” outcome on COI, in particular regarding the creation of a body that will implement the COI Policy effectively and very soon, composed of those with a strong interest in ensuring the integrity of its outcomes.

Canada noted that the contact group discussions were exceedingly positive and that the Implementation Procedures for the COI Policy will provide an effective process to promote transparency. The Netherlands underlined the enormous importance of the documents on COI for the transparency and integrity of the Panel, and its acceptance by the outside world. Thanking all members of the Task Group, Australia congratulated the plenary on a “groundbreaking” COI mechanism for many international organizations, both in substance and in the procedure of how it was developed.

Secretary Christ asked the plenary how the set of documents on COI should be integrated into IPCC regulations and suggested a paragraph be added that states these documents constitute an appendix to the Principles Governing the IPCC Work. To this, the US replied that more consideration is needed before the documents are elevated to the level of principles and suggested leaving them as standalone documents. The Panel agreed to the suggestion.

Final Decision: In its decision, the Panel, inter alia:

adopts the COI Implementation Procedures and decides that the Procedures will apply to individuals who are subject to the COI Policy;
decides to establish a COI Committee comprising all elected members of the Executive Committee and two additional members with appropriate legal expertise from UNEP and WMO, appointed by those organizations;
decides to establish an Expert Advisory Group on COI and invites the Secretary-General of WMO and the Executive Director of UNEP to select members of the COI Expert Advisory Group and to facilitate the establishment of the COI committee as soon as possible;
notes that the WG and Task Force Bureaux have adopted interim arrangements for dealing with COI issues and that those arrangements are broadly consistent with the COI Policy;
decides that, to ensure a smooth transition, the existing interim arrangements will continue to operate, with respect to individuals who are not Bureau members until the Executive Committee decides that the implementation procedures apply to those individuals;
requests IPCC and TFI Bureaux members to submit a COI Form to the Secretariat within three months;
decides to receive a report on the operation of the COI Expert Advisory Group and the COI Committee within twelve months of their establishment and to review their operations, as appropriate, within twelve months after the next Bureaux election(s); and
notes that the COI Committee will develop its own methods of working and will apply those on an interim basis pending approval by the Panel, and decides that the COI Committee should submit its methods of working to the Panel within twelve months of its establishment.
Implementation Procedures: The Procedures address the following:

The overall purpose of the Implementation Procedures is to ensure that COIs are identified, communicated to the relevant parties and manage to avoid any adverse impact of IPCC balance, products and processes, and also to protect the individual, the IPCC and the public interest.
In their scope, the Implementation Procedures apply to all COIs and all individuals defined in the COI Policy, and compliance with the COI Policy and the Procedures is mandatory.
The Implementation Procedures further set out the review process on COI for IPCC and Task Force Bureaux members prior to and after their appointment. According to this process, the COI Disclosure Forms for all nominees should be submitted to the Secretariat to be reviewed by a COI Committee. The COI Committee may request advice from the Expert Advisory Group on COI. If the COI Committee determines that a nominee has a COI that cannot be resolved, the individual will not be eligible for election to the Bureau.
The Implementation Procedures also outline the review process for Coordinating Lead Authors, Lead Authors, Review Editors and TSUs prior to and after their appointment. In this case, Disclosure Forms are submitted to relevant TSUs and reviewed by WG or Task Force Bureaux. The document defines exceptional circumstances in which a COI in relation to non-Bureaux members may be tolerated, that is when an individual can provide a unique contribution and when a COI can be managed. Such cases should be disclosed. The document also outlines the process to deal with a COI after the appointment of non-Bureaux members, including updating information, review and an appeal procedure.
The Implementation Procedures set out principles for considering COI issues that are applied to all bodies involved in advising on and deciding COI issues. In this regard, they require those bodies to consult the relevant individual regarding potential COIs and explore the resolution options as well as provide for an appeal procedure. The document also requires members of the bodies involved in consideration of COI issues to recuse themselves when being a subject of consideration.
The Implementation Procedures further contain provisions on processing and storage of information to ensure confidentiality of submitted information.
The document further sets out the composition and functions of the COI Committee and Expert Advisory Group on COI.
Annex B to the Implementation Procedures also contains a COI Disclosure Form.
PROCEDURES: This issue (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 9, Add. 1) was first introduced in the plenary on Friday and then taken up by a contact group co-chaired by Eduardo Calvo (Peru) and Øyvind Christophersen (Norway), with Arthur Petersen (Netherlands) as Rapporteur. Work centered on the finalization of revisions to the Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work: Procedures for the Preparation, Review, Acceptance, Adoption, Approval and Publication of IPCC Reports, which started at IPCC-32. The Panel adopted the revised Procedures Appendix in plenary on Saturday, completing the work of the Task Group on Procedures.

Discussions in the contact group centered on the production and treatment of guidance material, the selection of participants to IPCC workshops and expert meetings, matters related to the transparency, quality and efficiency of the review process, anonymous expert review, and SPM approval sessions.

On guidance material, Belgium and others called for stating that guidance material needs to be taken into account in the preparation of the reports in addition to stating what guidance material is, while others cautioned against excessively normative language. The group agreed leave the text as is.

On the selection of participants to IPCC workshops and expert meetings, the group addressed text related to the distinction between these two types of meetings.

On matters related to the transparency, quality and efficiency of the review process, the group considered the Revised Guidance Note on the Role of Review Editors (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 9, Add.1) prepared by the WG and TFI Bureaux. The group also addressed the current practice of expanding the number of Review Editors per chapter. After some discussion, the group agreed that there was a need to limit the number of Review Editors to four per chapter.

On text related to open invitations for expert reviewers, recommendations were made to circulate second in addition to First Order Draft Reports by WG/TFB Co-Chairs for review. In relation to inviting as wide a group of experts as possible, Review Editors were added to a list of potentially nominated experts. Text was also added on notifying Government Focal Points when this process starts.

On anonymous expert review, the group discussed the need to ensure the appropriate flexibility and agreed to add text that clarifies that the procedures do not prescribe WGs and the TFI to use either anonymous or named expert reviews. In order to document past experience with anonymous expert reviews by WGIII and the TFI during the AR4, the group agreed to include the Note by the Task Group on Procedures on IPCC Anonymous Expert Review: Past experiences and arguments in favor or against (Appendix 3 of IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 9) in an annex to the Report of IPCC-34.

On the process for the SPM approval, the group addressed text on the process for sending government comments to the Second Order Draft prior to the plenary approval session of the SPM, bringing the procedures in line with current practice.

During the final plenary, Austria noted that, although important progress was made, there is a need to further strengthen the Procedures, in particular related to the calibrated uncertainty language of assessments, to increase transparency and traceability of the decisions of authors so these can be understood in the future. He also proposed further addressing the management and working rules for the writing teams so they are the same across WGs. With regard to calibrated language, New Zealand drew attention to the existing Guidance Paper on Uncertainties and cautioned against having the Panel decide on this, stressing that this should be the province of the WGs.

The European Union (EU) asked for clarification on whether participating organizations are also considered in the round of comments by governments for SPM approval. Co-Chair Christophersen responded that this was not brought up or considered by the group. The EU noted that it would be useful to introduce this in the future given the EU’s particular character. Australia proposed, and the Panel agreed, to record the EU’s concern in the minutes of the meeting along with Austria’s suggestion.

Final Decision: The decision on Procedures addresses the following:

On the IPCC guidance material, the Panel decides that guidance material is a category of IPCC supporting material aimed to guide and assist in the preparation of IPCC reports and Technical Papers. The Panel also clarifies who is responsible and who may commission guidance material.
On selection of participants to IPCC Workshops and Expert Meetings, the Panel elaborates on the distinction between these two types of meetings, including their composition, and establishes that the WG/TFI Bureaux or the IPCC Chair will report to the IPCC Bureau and Panel on the process of selection of participants, including a description of how the selection criteria have been applied.
On matters related to transparency, quality and efficiency of the review process, the IPCC welcomes the revised Guidance Note on Review Editors and finds that the recommendations of the IAC on the Review Editors have been taken adequately into account. The Panel also encourages the implementation of this revised Guidance Note in the AR5 and invites the WG Co-Chairs to monitor progress in their WG progress reports. In addition, the Panel decides that to provide a balanced and complete assessment of current information, each WG/TFI Bureau should normally select two to four Review Editors per chapter and per technical summary of each Report. Furthermore, it decides that the WG/TFI Bureaux shall seek the participation of reviewers encompassing the range of scientific, technical and socio-economic views, expertise, and geographical representation, and shall actively undertake to promote and invite as wide a range of experts as possible.
On anonymous expert review, the Panel decides: not to amend the IPCC Procedures; not to preclude a different approach in the future; and to include the Note by the Task Group on Procedures on IPCC Anonymous Expert Review: Past experiences and arguments in favor or against (Appendix 3 of IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 9) in an annex to the Report of IPCC-34.
On the process for the SPM approval, the Panel specifies the process for governments submitting written comments prior to the plenary approval session.
GOVERNANCE AND MANAGEMENT: This item (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 19) was taken up in the opening plenary on Friday. IPCC Chair Pachauri explained that both Co-Chairs of the Task Group on Governance and Management, David Warrilow (UK) and Taha Zatari (Saudi Arabia) were unable to come to Kampala, and that Task Group Co-Chair Warrilow suggested postponing the consideration of the matter until IPCC-35 and proposed holding IPCC-35 in the middle of 2012 rather than in the second half of the year. The UK explained that this will provide for a prompt response to the IAC recommendations and will allow moving forward with the AR5. The UK also proposed that if holding an earlier session is not possible, two sessions could be held next year instead of one. Several countries highlighted that an earlier meeting should not coincide with preparatory meetings for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and the Conference itself.

Delegates agreed to postpone the consideration of the item until IPCC-35.

COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY: This item (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 20) was addressed in plenary on Friday. Secretary Christ recalled that IPCC-33 agreed on guidance on a communications strategy and requested the Secretariat to elaborate on the strategy according to that guidance. She noted delays with hiring a senior communications specialist who will not be on board for several months and in this context explained that the Secretariat asked its long-term consultant, Charlie Methven, to help prepare the draft communications strategy in order to respond to the plenary’s request.

Methven then elaborated on the main points of the proposed strategy. Highlighting the unique challenges the IPCC faces, he underlined that the future communications system should be a resource rather than a typical corporate structure. At the same time, he said, it should provide a central communication function and a stronger link between various elements of the IPCC, including the WGs and their TSUs. Noting the already existing ad hoc support on communications across WGs, Methven said these practices should be incorporated to make for a more accountable and coherent structure. He also mentioned that the proposed strategy is achievable within the current level of funding.

Chair Pachauri then requested guidance from the plenary on major pillars of the draft strategy.

Many, including New Zealand, US, Austria and Japan, expressed a deep concern about the delay with hiring a senior communications specialist who should be involved in the development of the strategy. Chair Pachauri explained that the hiring process is conducted according to WMO procedures but an individual had been selected and the discussion is now on a compensation package. He noted that this person cannot start immediately after accepting the offer, and that the selected candidate is not aware of the IPCC process sufficiently to actively contribute to its communications strategy.

Referring to the unique nature of the IPCC, the US highlighted the important role of WG Co-Chairs in communication of relevant products and that the proposed communications structure should not be independent from the WGs. He highlighted in this regard that a senior communication specialist should be facilitative in nature and expressed concern that the Executive Committee had no interaction with candidates for this role. Pachauri explained it was difficult to engage all members of the Executive Committee and that some of them were involved in developing the draft communications strategy.

Austria suggested preparing a Panel’s letter to WMO highlighting the urgency of hiring a communications person for the IPCC. He also suggested there should be a role for governments in the communications strategy, especially when it comes to regional matters. Switzerland underlined the importance of scientific integrity in the communication of the IPCC’s work, which often means “sticking literally to what has been said.” Australia proposed that a strategy should be forward-looking and contain a clear set of communications objectives: what to communicate, to whom and how. Several delegates suggested the document be forwarded to the full Executive Committee and Bureau for discussion.

Pachauri concluded that the draft communications strategy would now be discussed by a small group comprising representatives of the WGs, TFI, Secretariat and consultant Methven before being forwarded to the Executive Committee, Bureau and eventually the plenary.

In the final plenary on Saturday, Belgium recalled its proposal to re-establish a Task Force on Outreach and Communications Strategy, noting that such a Task Force had existed but disappeared when Pachauri became Chair, and to collect written comments by governments to advance the issue. Chair Pachauri supported the proposal and suggested Belgium submit it in written form. On a request for clarification by IPCC Vice-Chair Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Chair Pachauri confirmed agreement at the Executive Committee meeting to have one of the IPCC Vice-Chairs involved in the group in charge of formulating the communications strategy.

The UK proposed, and the Panel agreed, to circulate the new draft communications strategy for comments and revision before the next session. Chair Pachauri said the Executive Committee will come up with a timetable to do so.


During the opening plenary session, Chair Pachauri informed the Panel that, in contrast to all previous occasions when the IPCC had addressed the UNFCCC COP in plenary, he had now been asked to only present at SBSTA in Durban. He emphasized that this was an issue of institutions, not of personalities. Many countries expressed their disappointment and underscored the importance of conveying the IPCC’s findings to the COP directly, possibly also at the high-level segment. South Africa noted the concerns expressed on the participation of the IPCC at Durban and assured that the matter would receive proper attention by the upcoming COP Presidency.

A drafting group prepared a letter to the UNFCCC, which was distributed to the Panel for approval. The letter, addressed to the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, expressed the Panel’s disappointment and noted the inappropriateness of the decision, underscoring the strategic importance of having the IPCC address the UNFCCC at the COP level as has been the case since the first COP. The letter called for conveying the message to the current and upcoming COP Presidencies. The US, Saudi Arabia and New Zealand called for reflecting on the wisdom of this mode of communication and proposed Chair Pachauri speak again informally to the UNFCCC Executive Secretary on this matter.

On Saturday morning, Chair Pachauri informed the Panel that, after further communication, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary had written to say that she had consulted with the South African delegation and that, although the opening session of UNFCCC COP 17 will be more of a ceremonial nature, the IPCC would be invited to address the COP on Wednesday, 30 November, when it takes up substantive matters.


In plenary on Saturday, Secretary Christ invited the Panel to provide guidance on how provisions arising from the review of IPCC processes and procedures at IPCC-33 and 34 are to be reflected in the revision to Appendix C to the Principles Governing IPCC Work: Rules of Procedure for the Election of the IPCC Bureau and Any Task Force Bureau (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 7). New Zealand, with Malaysia and Australia, noted that there was no representative from Region V (South-West Pacific) on the WGIII Bureau, and that the revised text leaves open the possibility that someone from Region V is not on the WGIII Bureau. Australia also highlighted that Region V does not have representation on the Executive Committee and said that these issues should be a high priority for IPCC-36. Secretary Christ said that the Secretariat would distribute a text to governments taking into consideration suggestions from IPCC-33 and 34, and would make this a high priority agenda item for IPCC-36.


During Friday’s opening plenary session, Secretary Christ gave an overview of issues related to the IPCC Trust Fund Programme and Budget (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 3, Rev.1) and the adoption of the revised “Appendix B to the Principles Governing IPCC Work: Financial procedures for the IPCC” (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 4, Corr. 1). She noted the need to address the greater cost of the publication and translation of the SRREN and an additional expert meeting on wetlands by TGICA, and urged resolution on the revised Appendix B in order to allow auditing of IPCC accounts.

The Financial Task Team, co-chaired by IPCC Vice-Chair Ismail A.R. El Gizouli (Sudan) and Nicolas Beriot (France), met to address these issues, convening twice on Friday. On Saturday morning, Co-Chair Beriot presented the deliberations of the Task Team to plenary, noting that the meetings had been well attended. He highlighted changes made to Appendix B, including the addition of a paragraph on the Financial Task Team and the revision of a paragraph that grants authority to the Secretariat to adjust allocations in the event that the IPCC Trust Fund is less than the approved budget. On Appendix B, the WMO and EU queried the implication of the IPCC Trust Fund being administered under International Public Sector Accounting Standards. Secretary Christ clarified that the text was drafted with the WMO legal consul, and expressed hope that in negotiating future agreements with the EU the various financial requirements will be reconciled.

Co-Chair Beriot highlighted two other Financial Task Team recommendations to the Panel in relation to simplifying language on procedural matters in the revised Appendix B no later than IPCC-37 and greater flexibility in financing travel arrangements for experts or members of the Bureau from developing countries. The UK and Austria recommended adding a second plenary session next year in order to have enough time to respond to the IAC Review; however, after further discussion, the Panel agreed that a four-day plenary session would be preferable to two two-day plenary sessions because of both time and resource constraints. New Zealand also suggested that teleconferences can be used for preparation meetings prior the next IPCC session.

Final Decision: In its decision, the Panel, inter alia:

approves the modified 2011 budget with respect to cost-related increases in the translation and publication of the SRREN;
approves the modified 2012 budget, which includes cost-related increases in the preparation of the 2013 IPCC Guidelines on Wetlands;
approves the revised “Appendix B to the Principles Governing IPCC Work: Financial Procedures for the IPCC” (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 4, Corr.1) with modifications, which include adding the Financial Task Team and granting authority to the Secretariat to make adjustments to allocations if there is a budget shortfall;
requests the Secretariat simplify language in the revised Appendix B document to improve clarity and readability no later than IPCC-37;
notes the forecast budget for 2013 and the indicative budgets for 2014 and 2015;
urges governments from developed countries to continue providing financial support for travel of experts to IPCC meetings;
requests that countries maintain their contributions in 2011 and 2012 and invites governments, which may be able to do so, to increase their level of contributions to the IPCC Trust Fund or to contribute in case they have not done so; and
endorses the expression of concern regarding the imposition of travel plans and arrangements on some experts or members of the Bureau from developing countries, with little concern to the particular traveler constraints and commitments, and that this be relate to the WMO Secretary-General.

AR5, PROGRESS REPORTS OF WGs I, II AND III: The WG Co-Chairs presented on progress since IPCC-33. WGII Co-Chair Vicente Barros (Argentina) highlighted a range of on-going expert, regional expert and lead author meetings, and Head of WGII TSU Kristie Ebi discussed the draft chapter writing schedule (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 10).

Head of WGIII TSU Jan Minx highlighted a range of expert and lead author meetings, and noted changes to the WGIII AR5 schedule and the writing process, which include a review of cross-chapter consistency and a policy to remove inactive authors (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 18, Rev.1).

WGI Co-Chair Thomas Stocker discussed a variety of expert meetings, including a Joint Expert Meeting in Lima, Peru, on Geoengineering in June 2011; a second WGI Lead Author meeting held in Brest, France in July 2011, which engaged primarily with cross-chapter issues; and a third Lead Author WGI meeting to be held in Marrakech, Morocco in April 2012. Stocker noted that on 16 December 2011 the First Order Draft of the WGI contribution to the AR5 will become available for an eight-week expert review (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 14).

TASK GROUP ON DATA AND SCENARIO SUPPORT FOR IMPACT AND CLIMATE ANALYSIS (TGICA): Due to the absence of TGICA representatives at the meeting, Chair Pachauri referred the plenary to the report of the Task Group (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 13).

TASK FORCE ON NATIONAL GREENHOUSE GAS INVENTORIES: TFB Co-Chair Thelma Krug (Brazil) reviewed progress on the 2013 Supplement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Wetlands (2013 Wetlands Supplement) work programme (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 12), and noted that a recent Lead Author meeting in Japan identified the scope and coverage of each chapter and addressed several cross-cutting and interacting issues. A Zero Order Draft is expected to be ready for the first science meeting next year. Co-Chair Krug also highlighted ongoing expert meetings and the success of an open symposium hosted in Japan on 22 August 2011, which aimed to explain the purpose and achievement of the TFI to the public.

SRREN: Head of WGIII TSU Jan Minx introduced this issue (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 17), noting the outreach activities and publication process timeline.

CROSS-CUTTING THEMES: IPCC Vice-Chair Hoesung Lee (Republic of Korea) discussed the coordination of cross-cutting themes for the AR5 SYR, highlighting that a questionnaire has been prepared and will be sent to the WGs to gain input into how the IPCC Vice-Chairs should best facilitate this process.

IPCC SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAMME: Secretary Christ updated the plenary on progress with the IPCC Scholarship Programme (IPCC-XXXIV/Doc. 16), noting that a total of nine students and researchers from developing countries had been awarded scholarships for the period 2011-2012. She said these included a postgraduate student from Uganda, Jamiat Nanteza, who would be working on climate-related disaster management issues. Secretary Christ stressed that the Secretariat does not have sufficient capacity to continue fundraising activities as there are no specific funds allocated for that work. She said they have been in contact with the UN Foundation that can conduct fundraising in the US but there would be charges involved.

Chair Pachauri underlined that the Programme had been launched with great success, highlighting many applications from the least developed countries, and said guidance is needed from the plenary on how to keep the Programme going. He said given the number of applications, it would be desirable to award at least 40 to 50 scholarships. The US expressed caution regarding this suggestion as it might require a big commitment from the IPCC leadership and Secretariat. He noted that this might also influence how the IPCC is perceived as an assessment body and recalled that when the Programme was launched there was no expectation this would become a major workstream. Belgium expressed interest in the opinion of the Board of Trustees to the Programme.

Chair Pachauri suggested this matter would be discussed at the Bureau meeting, which would provide a paper with a set of options on further direction for the Programme and ways to reduce the workload burden on the Secretariat, to be presented at the next IPCC session.


Croatia presented its offer to host the next session in Dubrovnik or elsewhere on the Adriatic Coast at a time to be determined.

Recalling the untimely death of SBSTA Chair Mama Konate, IPCC Vice-Chair van Ypersele called for always scheduling a break between any WG or approval session and a plenary session scheduled back-to-back in a way that, insofar as possible, respects participants’ health and wellbeing.


Secretary Christ presented on the outcome of the 16th WMO Congress related to the IPCC. She also noted that WMO had not yet decided on the request by IPCC-32 to WMO to not convert their in-cash contribution into in-kind contribution.

Also, Secretary Christ drew attention to a notification from UN Headquarters that the Republic of South Sudan was admitted as a new Member State by the UN General Assembly on 14 July 2011, and that the official name of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had been changed to Libya (IPCC-XXXIV/INF.2). The Panel agreed to reflect these changes in the necessary amendments. South Sudan has therefore become a new member of the IPCC, bringing the total of its members to 195 countries.

In his final remarks, Chair Pachauri thanked the government and people of Uganda for their hospitality and excellent organization of the meeting. The session closed at 4:45 pm with a dance performance celebrating Africa by Francis Hayes, conference officer, and local organizers.



It was just a little over a year ago, in October 2010 in Busan, Republic of Korea, when Sir Peter Williams, Vice-President of The Royal Society, UK, presented the major findings and recommendations of the InterAcademy Council (IAC) review of the IPCC processes and procedures. The review was called for by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri to address major criticisms of the IPCC’s work as a result of the discovery of a small number of serious factual errors in the Fourth Assessment Report, allegations of conflicts of interest among those involved in the assessment, and failure to respond adequately to these charges. The IAC report contained recommendations on reforming IPCC’s management and governance, communications strategy, and processes and procedures.

Since then, the IPCC has been busy addressing these recommendations, enacting changes that it hopes will make it more solid and able to weather the intense public scrutiny and attacks by climate change skeptics. At the same time, the IPCC has had to focus on its work on the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), the cornerstone of its activities. With the IPCC midway through the AR5 cycle, these changes stand to have an impact on the AR5. It is a useful moment in time to begin to assess how much the decisions taken so far have led to substantive changes in the IPCC. This brief analysis will address these questions.


IPCC-34 came at a time when the most difficult decisions in response to the IAC review have already been taken or are well advanced. A variety of organizational, procedural, governance and policy changes were made prior to the Kampala meeting. These include the establishment of an Executive Committee to provide management oversight and address emerging issues on behalf of the Panel between sessions; limiting the terms of office for key Bureau positions; the development of a conflict of interest policy; and increasing transparency in its procedures, including clarifying the selection of participants at expert meetings, authors and others. Other critical issues that have been tackled include a clear policy for correcting errors, strengthening of the review process, and improved guidance for authors, including on evaluation of evidence and consistent treatment of uncertainty.

This session in Kampala concentrated on completing revisions to the Procedures for the IPCC reports. As a result, the Panel finalized its work on the production and treatment of guidance material, the selection of participants to IPCC workshops and expert meetings, matters related to the transparency, quality and efficiency of the review process, anonymous expert review, and approval sessions for Summaries for Policy Makers.

Perhaps most notably, at this session the IPCC agreed on the Implementation Procedures for the Conflict of Interest Policy, which had been developed at IPCC-33. The agreement represented a source of much satisfaction among participants, who feel that the decision taken here allows for prompt implementation and adequate oversight by those who are most interested in maintaining the integrity of the IPCC—that is, the Panel’s Executive Committee. Importantly, implementation of the new comprehensive Conflict of Interest Policy will contribute to increased transparency of the IPCC process—just what the Panel needs to ensure the credibility of its findings.

To the dismay of many, however, the development and implementation of a comprehensive communications strategy is still incomplete. The IPCC has long acknowledged that its outreach and communication is critically deficient and attempts had been initiated to address it in the past, such as the first IPCC communications strategy in 2005-2006, which included the recruitment of a communications officer. The IAC review reinforced this criticism, finding that communication was a major weakness, and recommended the development of a communications strategy, including guidelines on who should speak on behalf of the IPCC. More than a year later, however, the IPCC still has no strategy in place and has not appointed a senior communications officer. In Kampala, the draft communications strategy was met with wide discontent. Many felt a senior communications professional should have been involved in the preparation of the strategy. In addition, others were concerned that the draft strategy had not been discussed by the Executive Committee prior to its presentation before the IPCC. With both the strategy and the appointment delayed, lack of progress on communications elicited much frustration among participants in Kampala and many others in the climate change community alike, and remains a critical gap in the response of the IPCC to the IAC review.


Although it is too early to judge the transformational extent of the changes introduced in the IPCC as a result of the IAC review, it is useful to note some signs of the effects of these changes.

The most evident and welcome changes relate to increased transparency in the IPCC processes and procedures. There is more transparency and consistency over different stages of the assessment process, including the preparation, review, and endorsement of IPCC reports. There is a policy in place to address real or potential conflict of interest among all participants. There is even a better understanding of how the Panel is run, including its management structure, and roles and responsibilities. All these are critically important.

Changes affecting the quality of management and governance are, however, more difficult to see and assess. Having good rules is the start, but adherence and practice is what makes a difference. The fact that the Executive Committee was not consulted or involved in the recruitment of the senior communications professional came as a surprise to many.

One question was how the changes resulting from the IAC review would affect progress on the AR5. In many ways, the IAC review came at a convenient time for the IPCC—having just completed the Fourth Assessment Report and with the bulk of work concentrated on the Working Groups (WGs) as they initiated the AR5. In fact, many of the changes implemented had already been initiated by the WGs, including on a conflict of interest policy, guidance on the treatment of uncertainties and other guidance on procedures. Even the Executive Committee is a formalization of the previous Executive Team. As to the deliverables, the approval in the space of six months of two timely Special Reports –on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation and on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Adaptation (SREX) —comes as evidence that the IAC review has not distracted the IPCC from its core business.

As one participant noted, the IAC review was not meant to illicit a revolution but an evolution. The significance of the IPCC reforms will only become apparent as new challenges arise. Assessing the quality of change, that is whether the reforms that the IPCC has already undertaken will actually lead to making the Panel stronger in front of the increased public scrutiny, remains to be seen.

Unfortunately, the lack of a comprehensive communications strategy stands in the way of making the Panel’s reforms and its work evident to the outside world. Communicating the complex science of climate extremes and impacts as presented in the SREX could have already benefited from it. That is why most participants see rapid progress on a communications strategy as vital to ensure success in the implementation of the IPCC changes. While progress on the AR5 is going well, the impact of the IPCC’s findings, and consequently its relevance, will be significantly influenced by how it is communication to the outside world.


Joint 9th Meeting of the Vienna Convention COP and 23rd Montreal Protocol MOP: The 23rd session of the Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (MOP 23) and ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (COP 9) are taking place in Bali. dates: 21-25 November 2011 location:Bali, Indonesia contact: Ozone Secretariat phone: +254-20-762-3851 fax: +254-20-762-4691 email: www:

UNFCCC COP 17 and COP/MOP 7: The 17th session of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP 17) and the 7th session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP 7) to the Kyoto Protocol will take place in Durban, South Africa. The 35th session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), the 35th session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP), and the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) will also meet. dates: 28 November – 9 December 2011 location: Durban, South Africa contact: UNFCCC Secretariat phone: +49-228-815-1000 fax: +49-228-815-1999 email: www: and

Eye on Earth Summit: The Eye on Earth Summit: Pursuing a Vision is being organized under the theme “Dynamic system to keep the world environmental situation under review.” This event will launch the global environmental information network (EIN) strengthening initiative and address major policy and technical issues. dates: 12-15 December 2011 location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates contact: Marije Heurter, Eye on Earth Event Coordinator phone: +971-2-693-4516 email: www:

Fifth World Future Energy Summit: The fifth World Future Energy Summit will take place from 16-19 January 2012, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Summit will concentrate on energy innovation in policy implementation, technology development, finance and investment approaches, and existing and upcoming projects. The Summit will seek to set the scene for future energy discussions in 2012 with leading international speakers from government, industry, academia and finance, to share insights, expertise and cutting edge advances in technology. dates: 16-19 January 2012 location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates contact: Naji El Haddad phone: +971-2-409-0499 www:

IPCC WGIII AR5 Second Expert meeting on Scenarios: Scenarios have a key role in the WGIII contribution to the AR5 as an integrative element. Authors from all relevant chapters will meet to coordinate and integrate the scenario activities across chapters.dates: 17-18 March 2012 location: Wellington, New Zealand contact: IPCC Secretariat phone: +41-22-730-8208 fax: +41-22-730-8025 www:

UN Conference on Sustainable Development: The UNCSD (or Rio+20) will mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Conference on Environment and Development, which convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil dates: 20-22 June 2012 location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil contact: UNCSD Secretariat www:

IPCC WGIII AR5 Expert Meeting for Businesses and NGOs: Based on the good experiences made during the SRREN, WGIII will organize and execute an Expert Meeting for Businesses and NGOs. The meeting aims to gather structured input for consideration by the AR5 authors from these communities. The meeting will take place during the Expert Review Period (22 June – 20 August 2012). date: to be determined location: to be determined contact: IPCC Secretariat phone: +41-22-730-8208 fax: +41-22-730-8025 www:

IPCC 35th Session: The 35th session of the IPCC will consider pending issues arising from the consideration of the IAC Review of the IPCC processes and procedures, namely those on: governance and management, and communications strategy. dates: to be determined location: Croatia contact: IPCC Secretariat phone: +41-22-730-8208 fax: +41-22-730-8025 email:IPCC-Sec@wmo.intwww:

Medical Marijuana Laws Reduce Traffic Deaths, Preliminary Research Suggests (Science Daily)

ScienceDaily (Nov. 29, 2011) — A groundbreaking new study shows that laws legalizing medical marijuana have resulted in a nearly nine percent drop in traffic deaths and a five percent reduction in beer sales.

“Our research suggests that the legalization of medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities through reducing alcohol consumption by young adults,” said Daniel Rees, professor of economics at the University of Colorado Denver who co-authored the study with D. Mark Anderson, assistant professor of economics at Montana State University.

The researchers collected data from a variety of sources including the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

The study is the first to examine the relationship between the legalization of medical marijuana and traffic deaths.

“We were astounded by how little is known about the effects of legalizing medical marijuana,” Rees said. “We looked into traffic fatalities because there is good data, and the data allow us to test whether alcohol was a factor.”

Anderson noted that traffic deaths are significant from a policy standpoint.

“Traffic fatalities are an important outcome from a policy perspective because they represent the leading cause of death among Americans ages five to 34,” he said.

The economists analyzed traffic fatalities nationwide, including the 13 states that legalized medical marijuana between 1990 and 2009. In those states, they found evidence that alcohol consumption by 20- through 29-year-olds went down, resulting in fewer deaths on the road.

The economists noted that simulator studies conducted by previous researchers suggest that drivers under the influence of alcohol tend to underestimate how badly their skills are impaired.They drive faster and take more risks.In contrast, these studies show that drivers under the influence of marijuana tend to avoid risks.

However, Rees and Anderson cautioned that legalization of medical marijuana may result in fewer traffic deaths because it’s typically used in private, while alcohol is often consumed at bars and restaurants.

“I think this is a very timely study given all the medical marijuana laws being passed or under consideration,” Anderson said. “These policies have not been research-based thus far and our research shows some of the social effects of these laws. Our results suggest a direct link between marijuana and alcohol consumption.”

The study also examined marijuana use in three states that legalized medical marijuana in the mid-2000s, Montana, Rhode Island, and Vermont.Marijuana use by adults increased after legalization in Montana and Rhode Island, but not in Vermont.There was no evidence that marijuana use by minors increased.

Opponents of medical marijuana believe that legalization leads to increased use of marijuana by minors.

According to Rees and Anderson, the majority of registered medical marijuana patients in Arizona and Colorado are male.In Arizona, 75 percent of registered patients are male; in Colorado, 68 percent are male.Many are under the age of 40.For instance, 48 percent of registered patients in Montana are under 40.

“Although we make no policy recommendations, it certainly appears as though medical marijuana laws are making our highways safer,” Rees said.

Abstinence-Only Education Does Not Lead to Abstinent Behavior, Researchers Find (Science Daily)

ScienceDaily (Nov. 29, 2011) — States that prescribe abstinence-only sex education programs in public schools have significantly higher teenage pregnancy and birth rates than states with more comprehensive sex education programs, researchers from the University of Georgia have determined.

The researchers looked at teen pregnancy and birth data from 48 U.S. states to evaluate the effectiveness of those states’ approaches to sex education, as prescribed by local laws and policies.
“Our analysis adds to the overwhelming evidence indicating that abstinence-only education does not reduce teen pregnancy rates,” said Kathrin Stanger-Hall, assistant professor of plant biology and biological sciences in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

Hall is first author on the resulting paper, which has been published online in the journal PLoS ONE.

The study is the first large-scale evidence that the type of sex education provided in public schools has a significant effect on teen pregnancy rates, Hall said.

“This clearly shows that prescribed abstinence-only education in public schools does not lead to abstinent behavior,” said David Hall, second author and assistant professor of genetics in the Franklin College. “It may even contribute to the high teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. compared to other industrialized countries.”

Along with teen pregnancy rates and sex education methods, Hall and Stanger-Hall looked at the influence of socioeconomic status, education level, access to Medicaid waivers and ethnicity of each state’s teen population.

Even when accounting for these factors, which could potentially impact teen pregnancy rates, the significant relationship between sex education methods and teen pregnancy remained: the more strongly abstinence education is emphasized in state laws and policies, the higher the average teenage pregnancy and birth rates.

“Because correlation does not imply causation, our analysis cannot demonstrate that emphasizing abstinence causes increased teen pregnancy. However, if abstinence education reduced teen pregnancy as proponents claim, the correlation would be in the opposite direction,” said Stanger-Hall.

The paper indicates that states with the lowest teen pregnancy rates were those that prescribed comprehensive sex and/or HIV education, covering abstinence alongside proper contraception and condom use. States whose laws stressed the teaching of abstinence until marriage were significantly less successful in preventing teen pregnancies.

These results come at an important time for legislators. A new evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative was signed into federal law in December 2009 and awarded $114 million for implementation. However, federal abstinence-only funding was renewed for 2010 and beyond by including $250 million of mandatory abstinence-only funding as part of an amendment to the Senate Finance Committee’s health-reform legislation.

With two types of federal funding programs available, legislators of individual states now have the opportunity to decide which type of sex education — and which funding option — to choose for their state and possibly reconsider their state’s sex education policies for public schools, while pursuing the ultimate goal of reducing teen pregnancy rates.

Stanger-Hall and Hall conducted this large-scale analysis to provide scientific evidence to inform this decision.

“Advocates for continued abstinence-only education need to ask themselves: If teens don’t learn about human reproduction, including safe sexual health practices to prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as how to plan their reproductive adult life in school, then when should they learn it and from whom?” said Stanger-Hall.

Tratamento à base de tortura (Correio Braziliense)

JC e-mail 4394, de 29 de Novembro de 2011.

Durante vistorias em 68 comunidades terapêuticas espalhadas pelo país, psicólogos encontraram pacientes que são surrados com pedaço de madeira e vítimas de cárcere privado.

Cavar uma cova da dimensão do próprio corpo, escrever reiteradamente o Salmo 119 da Bíblia ou ser surrado com um pedaço de madeira em que está escrita a palavra gratidão são algumas das terapias oferecidas a usuários de drogas em tratamento no país. As violações estão documentadas no relatório da 4ª Inspeção Nacional de Direitos Humanos, uma pesquisa realizada periodicamente pelos conselhos regionais de psicologia sob a coordenação da entidade federal da categoria e com o apoio de parceiros, como o Ministério Público e a Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil. Em todos os 68 locais de internação para tratamento de dependentes químicos visitados, especialmente clínicas e comunidades terapêuticas, houve flagrantes de desrespeito. Entre os problemas mais frequentes estão isolamento, proibição de falar ao telefone com parentes, trabalho não remunerado e punições físicas e psicológicas para atos de desobediência.

As denúncias, que serão levadas à ministra dos Direitos Humanos, Maria do Rosário, surgem a uma semana do lançamento oficial de um plano de combate às drogas, quando a presidente Dilma Rousseff anunciará a inclusão das comunidades terapêuticas na rede de tratamento, com financiamento do Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS). “Não nos deram a oportunidade de participar do debate sobre esse plano, ao contrário de outros segmentos da sociedade. A simples possibilidade de financiar tais instituições já representa um retrocesso em tudo o que a reforma antimanicomial conquistou”, disse Clara Goldmann, vice-presidente do Conselho Federal de Psicologia. Ao destacar que encaminhará o documento à ministra, o ouvidor Nacional dos Direitos Humanos, Domingos Sávio Dresch da Silveira, destacou as medidas cabíveis. “Vou conhecer o relatório e, havendo indícios de violações, caberá um procedimento coletivo de apuração”, disse.

Casos de locais já investigados pelo Ministério Público, como a Casa de Recuperação Valentes de Gideão, em Simões Filhos, na Bahia, apresentaram problemas graves, como espaços inadequados e até exorcismo para tratar crises de abstinência. “É assustador que o clamor por tratamento silencie até mesmo a voz de autoridades que já foram notificadas, quatro anos atrás, sobre o tratamento desumano. Não estou dizendo que todas as comunidades terapêutica têm esse padrão, mas assusta ver a Valentes de Gideão aberta”, destaca Marcus Vinícius de Oliveira, integrante da Rede Nacional Internúcleos da Luta Antimanicomial.

Para o diretor da Federação Brasileira de Comunidades Terapêuticas (Febract), Maurício Landre, a amostra considerada pelo relatório é tendenciosa e não representa o universo das instituições. Ele também questiona a competência dos conselhos regionais de psicologia para fazerem inspeções. “É lamentável que uma classe tão conceituada, com profissionais que realizam trabalhos extraordinários dentro de comunidades terapêuticas, faça denúncias tão irresponsáveis”, afirma. “Existe comunidade terapêutica, clínica e até hospital que deve ser fechado? Existe. Mas não se trata de todos. Vamos ajudar na capacitação, vamos trabalhar em vez de ficar reclamando”, afirma. Segundo o dirigente, a real intenção com os ataques é financeira. “Tem a ideologia e também o capitalismo. Tratar em comunidade é mais barato do que ficar fazendo redução de dano, que eles defendem.”

Ligações monitoradas – O tema escolhido para a inspeção deste ano foi álcool e drogas. Só não foram feitas visitas em Amapá e Tocantins. No DF, a única instituição que participou foi a Fazendo do Senhor Jesus, em Brazlândia. O monitoramento de ligações dos familiares, bem como de visitas, é um ponto criticado no relatório. A violação das correspondências trocadas pelos pacientes também foi destacada no documento. Além disso, há relato de um homicídio e de uma denúncia por cárcere privado.

Senado deve voltar a debater acordo ortográfico (Agência Senado)

JC e-mail 4394, de 29 de Novembro de 2011.

Novo uso do hífen, resistência de alguns países e dificuldades dos professores em compreender e repassar as novas regras são alguns dos argumentos.

A senadora Ana Amélia (PP-RS) solicitará que a Comissão de Educação do Senado (CE) promova no início do ano que vem uma audiência pública sobre o novo acordo ortográfico. Enquanto o Brasil deve concluir a implementação do acordo em 2013, outros países de língua portuguesa enfrentam resistências – inclusive Portugal. Uma das providências que podem ser estudadas pelo Senado é a criação de um grupo de trabalho sobre o assunto.

Ana Amélia anunciou a audiência logo após se reunir, nesta segunda-feira (28), com o professor Ernani Pimentel. Autor de diversas críticas ao novo acordo ortográfico, o professor criou o Movimento Acordar Melhor para divulgar suas ideias.

Simplificação – Pimentel defende a simplificação das regras, porque, segundo ele, o novo acordo contém “incoerências, incongruências e muitas exceções”. Um dos vários exemplos que citou foi a dificuldade para se compreender quando se deve usar ou não usar o hífen.

– Por que ‘mandachuva’ se escreve sem hífen e ‘guarda-chuva’ se escreve com hífen? É ilógico. E há muitos outros exemplos – afirmou ele.

De acordo com Pimentel, “nenhum professor de português de nenhum país signatário é capaz de escrever totalmente de acordo com as novas regras e, como os professores não têm condições de compreender, os países não terão condições de implantá-las”.

Pimentel apoia a criação de um grupo de trabalho, no âmbito da Comissão de Educação do Senado (CE), para discutir o acordo. Ele também sugeriu que os países signatários criem uma espécie de órgão similar à Real Academia Espanhola, que seria responsável pela uniformização da ortografia nos países de língua portuguesa.

Mercado e soberania – Ao comentar as resistências externas ao acordo, ele lembrou que alguns países alegam – “com razão”, observou – que as novas regras foram pensadas somente a partir de Brasil e Portugal, ignorando especificidades culturais de outras nações de língua portuguesa. Ele também disse que há uma divisão em Portugal, entre os que defendem o acordo e os que preferem adiá-lo devido aos interesses do mercado editorial português (que, dessa forma, não enfrenta a concorrência de livros brasileiros em seu próprio país e também nos países africanos de língua portuguesa).

Sobre a atuação do Ministério das Relações Exteriores, Pimentel declarou que “o Itamaraty está correto ao querer a unificação, mas está errado ao permitir que o interesse político desconsidere as questões educacionais, pedagógicas e culturais”.

– Ao forçar o acordo, o Brasil está sendo visto como impositor. É importante que haja discussão entre os países – avaliou ele.

Ações judiciais – Segundo Pimentel, o acordo ortográfico que vem sendo implantado no Brasil contém alterações feitas posteriormente – e sem a aprovação do Congresso Nacional – pela Academia Brasileira de Letras. Ele afirma que isso é ilegal e, por isso, entrou com uma ação judicial para exigir que o Congresso ratifique (ou não) tais mudanças. Além disso, o professor solicitou na Justiça que o Brasil tenha mais tempo para discutir e implementar o acordo ortográfico.

Saber dos xamãs jaguares do Yuruparí é nomeado patrimônio imaterial (Folha de S.Paulo)

27/11/2011 – 06h19


O saber tradicional dos xamãs jaguares do Yuruparí, na Amazônia colombiana, entrou neste domingo para a Lista Representativa do Patrimônio Cultural Imaterial da Humanidade da Unesco.

O comitê de analistas da Unesco aprovou sua inclusão durante reunião em Bali, na Indonésia, ao considerar que este modo de vida, herança milenar dos ancestrais, é um sistema integral de conhecimento com características físicas e espirituais.

“Esta notícia é um enorme esperança para a comunidade que tem plena certeza de que esta decisão é um instrumento de salvaguarda desta sabedoria”, disse o diretor de Patrimônio da Colômbia, Juan Luis Isaza, em seu discurso de agradecimento.

Os xamãs do Yuruparí transmitem “uma cosmovisão associada a um território sagrado para eles, um conhecimento graças ao qual acham que o mundo pode estar em equilíbrio”, explicou Isaza.

Os jaguares de Yuruparí, que habitam nas cercanias do rio Pirá Paraná, transmitem por via masculina e desde o nascimento o Hee Yaia Keti Oka, uma sabedoria que foi entregue a eles desde suas origens pelos Ayowa (criadores) para cuidar do território e da vida.

O diretor de Patrimônio da Colômbia detalhou que esta cultura está ameaçada pela perda de interesse dos mais jovens e a interação com a “arrasadora cultura ocidental”.

A designação também ajudará, segundo Isaza, a combater os perigos que espreitam este povo que viveu sempre isolado do “contato com colonos, madeireiros, mineiros e políticos que, segundo os xamãs, vulneram o território e o equilíbrio”.

“O reconhecimento da Unesco serve para proteger e resgatar não só seu pensamento, também seu território, porque estão profundamente relacionados”, assegurou Isaza.

Durban climate change conference: ‘Sideline the UN’ says leading academic (The Ecologist)

Matilda Lee

7th November, 2011

Ahead of the latest UN climate conference, leading academic Anthony Giddens explains why it’s time to switch to smaller agreements between major world powers

Lord Anthony Giddens

Lord Anthony Giddens, a Labour peer and former director of the London School of Economics

Ecologist: In your book the Politics of Climate Change, you give credit to the green movement for challenging orthodox politics on climate change, yet you say that it’s flawed at source. Why?

Anthony Giddens: I call myself a non-green green because I support a lot of the objectives of some elements of the green movement – globally and locally – but I am not ideologically opposed to nuclear power like many greens, although I am reserved about it. I believe in the primacy of science in trying to resolve these issues, especially around climate change. Although I am interested in protecting the forests in terms of CO2 and so forth, I think what we are trying to save is really a decent future civilisation for us. There are aspects of the development of the green movement that I am not very comfortable with, including not all conservation measures, because while some are worthwhile, sometimes you have got to take risks in the interests of controlling greater risks. Climate change, to me, being one of the primary risks we face in this century.

As far as this country is concerned, I was pleased that the coalition sustained most of the framework that Labour had put into place and I think that is important because as you know, in the US the complete polarisation of climate change issues is really unfortunate for not just the US, but the rest of the world. Here, at the moment, we don’t have that. Of course you can carp about what the government is doing now, whether it’s going back on some of its initial presumptions, and to some degree this is true. Nevertheless, there is a pretty large cross-party consensus. Ideally, I’d like every country to have that. Climate change is not a left-right issue, it concerns everybody. You’ll need all sorts of coalitions to support climate change progressive policies. But there is this tendency to polarise around left or right, especially in the US.

You need long-term policies, you don’t want parties coming in that reverse the positions of the parties before them. My feeling about the UK is that we’ve got a reasonable framework but we don’t have results from that framework. The UK is still way down the league in terms of proportion of energy taken from renewables, if you exclude nuclear. It’s more the framework than a set of substantive achievements. You have to be a bit reserved about British position or other positions where it’s all ends and objectives rather than the substantive achievements, which are in short supply across the world.

Ecologist: You mention renewable energy. Do you think the government has shot itself in the foot with backtracking on the feed-in tariff?

AG: Yes, I do. Unfortunately this has happened in other countries too. Some of the most impressive achievements in introducing renewables happened in Portugal and Spain. They introduced feed-in tariffs and one or two other subsidies and they achieved results which no one could quite believe because they introduced a high proportion of renewables within five or six-year period. We used to think, like in the case of Denmark or Sweden, it took about 25 years to do this. Now with new technology, and if you organise things right, you can do it quickly. I read an account saying that there was one day last year when Portugal met 100 per cent of its energy needs from renewables.

Even though I’m worried about the experiments in Germany, I think it was also quite interesting, the commitment to phase out nuclear power and see if you could achieve 20 per cent of renewables by 2020. I think that could be a very useful experiment for the rest of the world because Germany does have a lot of technological know-how.

Ecologist: How much value do you put on reaching an international post-Kyoto agreement?

AG: I think the UN is an indispensable organisation in global terms, but I think we need to judge in terms of substance and achievement. So far, it’s been pretty limited. I don’t think one could say in spite of 20 years next June since Rio and 17-18 years since climate change negotiations started that those negotiations have had much impact really, in terms of reducing carbon emissions, which is the only feasible measure. I think we have to keep them going, but I think we have to recognise that you’ll need more substantial agreements alongside them that would be bilateral or regional.

I think we are already seeing a change in the pattern of leadership globally, in respect of climate change issues, as a result of what happened in Copenhagen and in Cancun in which some of the large developing countries assumed much more of a leadership position, even as compared to the industrial countries. I think Brazil, under Lula has made important developments. It’s a country which has very unusually energy patterns, since about 80 per cent of its energy comes from non-fossil fuel sources. Latin America is a region that could have a leadership position, hopefully China will. I think the Chinese over the last 6-7 years have really woken up to the dangers of the glaciers melting, the threat of climate change which to me is so real and frightening in its outer edges in terms of risks.

The main joker in terms of international arena is the United States. I was hoping that there’d be important bilateral agreements between China and the US, which would lead to substantial programmes of energy transformation. So far they’ve had talks but these haven’t led to much. Lack of American leadership I find deeply disappointing. When I wrote the first edition of the book, I had high hopes that President Obama would be an inspirational leader for climate change policy. Partly because I think they put the Health Care bill ahead of everything else, it served to polarise the country and now federal leadership is more or less stymied in the US.

Ecologist: Should policy makers be focusing more on adaptation?

AG: We have to focus on adaptation anyway, because it’s close to certain as one could be that fairly high levels of climate change is embedded in the system. I think a lot of lay people hearing that world temperatures increased by 1.4 degrees think that doesn’t sound like very much. But when you think that in the Arctic it has increased several degrees and the main consequence will be extreme weather of all kinds – a combination of droughts and flooding – then you see the thin envelope that we live within, certainly in the poorer countries, we should be spending a lot on what I call “pre-emptive adaption”. But we are not. All the promises of billions flowing from the developed to developing countries – where’s the money? It would surprise me a lot if it was forthcoming in Durban given the economic situation in Europe, which is supposedly one of the main sources of this money. Again you have this distance between ambition and reality.

Ecologist: To what extent do you think developed countries can dictate the terms of development to less industrialised countries?

AG: I don’t think they can dictate terms at all. Whether we like it or not we are in a more multi-polar international environment. Many people wanted that but it is proving to be very difficult to exert systematic governance when you’ve got a more multipolar system. No one is going to be able to tell China or India or Brazil what to do. We hope they will emerge as more important leaders than in the industrial countries, but industrial countries must reform because they’ve created most of the greenhouse gases historically anyway.

I think the main thing is to focus on substance everywhere. It seems to me very important that we concentrate attention on areas where you can really make substantial progress and don’t just talk in terms of endless frameworks and negotiation.

Ecologist: Which areas are you referring to?

AG: I don’t think we are anywhere near resolving the issues without a fairly heavy dose of innovation. Both globally and nationally we should be spending to try and produce such innovation and even though you can’t predict the future, you can certainly see some areas where it would be very valuable. For example, if we could find some way of storing electricity on the large scale, it would be very valuable in terms of promoting the spread of renewable energy. I think we have to start spending now on geo-engineering. At the moment we are just miles away from being able to control carbon emissions. The most effective form of geo-engineering, if someone could make a breakthrough would be finding some way of taking greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere on a large scale. We don’t know whether it will ever be possible to do that but I think we have to invest and investigate to try and find some projects that wouldn’t be counter-productive. As you know, they could be very dangerous as people may interpret this to mean we don’t need to do anything because they’ll be some fix at the end, which is in no sense guaranteed.

I think we need to support hundreds of bottom-up innovations that are going on around the world – whether they are social, political or economic. My view is that we’ve also got to have what I call “utopian realism”. We are living through the end of industrial civilisation as it existed for the past 150 years driven by fossil fuels. This will involve changes in the way people live, which could in principle be very profound over a 20 or 30-year period. I think we’ve got to experiment on how we produce these changes and make them converge with desirable critical outcomes.

One concrete place I try to think about is transportation, which is still driven 95 per cent by oil. Look what the car has done to city centres. I’m sure we could construct more creative cities, more creative transport systems. I quote the MIT study on the future of automobiles – where they envisage a “mobility internet” and big differences from how we organise transport now – bringing down private and public distinctions, organising Smart Cars to enter in transit in different parts of transport systems. Having a fair proportion of driver-less cars on the roads, trying to reintegrate that with designing more effective communities within cities. All of us have got to explore different development models. If we have, after the recession, several years of 1 per cent growth, surely in the West there is a new invitation to discuss the nature of growth and its relationship to prosperity and wider political goals like Tim Jackson suggests in his book Prosperity without Growth.

Ecologist: Why do you suggest we need to do away with the term ‘sustainable development’?

AG: It became a popular term ever since the Bruntland report. Now there are similar terms like “green growth” and the “green economy”. To me, if you examine them they fall apart a bit. Let’s get something more substantial, something that’s not just an empty phrase. Let’s work out what it actually means on the ground and how you might achieve that. If you take the green economy, I’m in favour of it, I might prefer low-carbon economy but the point is we don’t know what a green economy is like. We haven’t done enough intellectual or practical work on it. It’s not going to be an economy where you simply have a few more renewables in it and everyone lives the same way.

Let’s say Denmark has successfully reduced its emissions to zero. It’s going to change lots of things all across the economy: job creation, job structures, transportation systems, lots of things about how people live. We need to work on this some more, and not just make empty claims. The same thing goes about green growth. We know you can create jobs through renewable technologies in some contexts, but they’ve got to be net new jobs and we’ve got to look at what happens when people lose their jobs in sectors that become less prominent.

I think we will get most growth through lifestyle change rather than the introduction of renewable technologies. When people invented the idea of the coffee shop 15 years ago, no one really thought we wanted better coffee because we lived, in the US and UK with bad coffee for hundreds of years. What people who set these things up did was to anticipate emerging trends – it wasn’t just having a dozen new kinds of coffee it was that it intersected with the information technology revolution, with people having more flexibility with where they work and therefore using computers in new places. If you generalise that, there will be many changes produced by a movement towards a more sustainable society.

The Politics of Climate Change, second edition by Anthony Giddens (Polity Press, Sept 2011, £14.24)

[Original article here]

Roteiro para acordo global sobre o clima (Correio Braziliense)

JC e-mail 4393, de 28 de Novembro de 2011.

Por Connie Hedegaard

Quando ministros e negociadores de todo o mundo se reunirem, a partir de hoje, em Durban (África do Sul) para a Conferência da ONU sobre o Clima, será um momento decisivo para avançarmos no combate internacional contra as alterações climáticas.

Alguns perguntarão: não poderíamos aguardar um pouco e tratar do problema do clima depois de termos resolvido a crise da dívida na Europa, quando houver uma nova retomada do crescimento? A resposta é não. As inundações na Tailândia e as secas no Texas e no Chifre da África são apenas alguns dos mais recentes alertas de que o problema do clima não perdeu o caráter de urgência, porque as alterações climáticas estão se agravando. O recente relatório World Energy Outlook, da Agência Internacional da Energia (AIE), foi mais um sinal de alarme: o tempo está se esgotando e a fatura vai multiplicar-se assustadoramente se não agirmos já.

Portanto, o que podemos conseguir em Durban? Os comentários da comunicação social nos deixam a impressão de que só há uma forma de aferir o êxito: levar os países desenvolvidos a subscreverem um segundo período de compromisso do Protocolo de Kyoto, após o termo do primeiro, em 2012.

Sejamos claros: a UE apoia o Protocolo de Kyoto. Baseamos a nossa legislação nos seus princípios; somos a região do mundo com o objetivo mais ambicioso no âmbito de Kyoto – e estamos a cumpri-lo. Na verdade, estamos a caminho de ultrapassar o nosso objetivo.

Mas o Protocolo de Kyoto baseia-se numa distinção nítida entre países desenvolvidos e países em desenvolvimento e exige medidas apenas aos primeiros. Não lhes parece que a evolução da economia mundial ao longo das últimas duas décadas tem atenuado cada vez mais essa distinção?

Consideremos Cingapura e Coreia do Sul. São fortes economias de exportação, com indústrias competitivas e classificações impressionantes no Índice de Desenvolvimento Humano publicado pelo Programa das Nações Unidas para o Desenvolvimento. Contudo, no Protocolo de Quioto, figuram como países em desenvolvimento. Ou consideremos uma economia emergente dinâmica como o Brasil. Tem indústrias florescentes, recursos naturais imensos e um rendimento per capita visivelmente superior aos da Bulgária ou da Romênia, por exemplo.

Os padrões de poluição estão igualmente colocando em causa a distinção entre países desenvolvidos e países em desenvolvimento. Segundo a AIE, o atual aumento da poluição pelo CO2 é causado principalmente por economias emergentes dependentes do carvão. E essa tendência só irá acentuar-se. Até 2035, 90% do aumento da procura de energia caberão a países não pertencentes à OCDE. No caso da China, por exemplo, as suas emissões relacionadas com a energia triplicaram desde 1990, o que a torna o maior emissor mundial. Em média, um cidadão chinês emite hoje mais do que, por exemplo, um português, um sueco ou um húngaro. Por conseguinte, o mundo simplesmente não pode combater com eficácia as alterações climáticas sem o envolvimento da China e de outras economias emergentes.

Outro problema é que os Estados Unidos não subscreveram Kyoto – nem jamais subscreverão -, além de que o Japão, a Rússia e o Canadá disseram claramente que não tencionam aderir a um segundo período de compromisso. Significa isso, em suma, que, se a União Europeia subscrevesse um segundo período relativo a Kyoto, juntamente com algumas outras economias desenvolvidas, poderia cobrir, no máximo, 16% das emissões mundiais, quando o primeiro período de Kyoto cobria cerca de um terço. Como se pode chamar a isso uma vitória para o clima? Por outras palavras, esse critério não tem hipótese de manter o aumento da temperatura abaixo de 2°C (3,6°F), que a comunidade internacional reconheceu dever ser o nosso objetivo comum.

Para termos hipótese de alcançar aquele objetivo, o que realmente necessitamos é de um quadro de ação mundial por parte de todas as grandes economias, tanto no mundo desenvolvido quanto no mundo em desenvolvimento. Um quadro de ação que verdadeiramente reflita o mundo do século 21, no qual todos os compromissos tenham o mesmo peso jurídico. A União Europeia está aberta a um segundo período de Kyoto, sob condição de que a integridade ambiental de Kyoto seja melhorada e Durban aprove um roteiro e um calendário claros para a conclusão desse quadro nos anos mais próximos e a sua aplicação, ao mais tardar, em 2020.

É minha esperança que todos os países demonstrem a vontade e a liderança política necessárias para se iniciar um tal processo em Durban. Em Copenhague, os dirigentes juraram manter-se abaixo dos 2°C. Soou a hora de provarem que não falavam em vão.

Connie Hedegaard é comissária europeia responsável pela Ação Climática.

Conferência sobre aquecimento começa sem clima na África do Sul (Folha de São Paulo)

C e-mail 4393, de 28 de Novembro de 2011.

COP-17, que reúne 190 países até o dia 10, não tem o objetivo de conseguir um novo acordo.

Já virou clichê dizer que as conferências do clima nunca alcançam o objetivo desejado. A COP-17 (17ª Conferência das Partes da Convenção do Clima das Nações Unidas), que começa hoje sob o signo da crise econômica, deve romper esse padrão: nela, o próprio objetivo foi diluído. Os diplomatas de 190 países que se reúnem de hoje ao próximo dia 10 em Durban, na África do Sul, não perseguem mais um acordo global contra emissões de gases-estufa. O que está em jogo é a continuidade ou não do acordo que existe hoje, o pífio Protocolo de Kyoto.

Para a diplomacia brasileira, a reunião terá sido um sucesso se as nações desenvolvidas concordarem em prolongar a vida do protocolo até 2020. E um fracasso em Durban traria um ônus extra para o Brasil, que sediará a próxima conferência ambiental da ONU, a Rio +20.

Kyoto, assinado em 1997, previa que os países industrializados cortassem suas emissões em 5,2% em relação a 1990 até 2012. Como se sabe, os EUA ficaram de fora, e o acordo teve impacto virtualmente nulo sobre a concentração global de gases-estufa na atmosfera, que cresceu 7% de 1997 a 2011.

Não há acordo sobre o tipo de regime que possa ampliar o combate às emissões de carbono depois que ele expirar. “Se deixarmos morrer Kyoto, o consenso é que não se vai mais conseguir um acordo desse tipo”, disse o embaixador André Corrêa do Lago, negociador-chefe do Brasil na área de clima.

Ainda mais inútil – O problema é que também há consenso de que um eventual segundo período de compromisso de Kyoto será ainda mais inútil do que o primeiro para o objetivo-mor da convenção: evitar que o planeta aqueça mais de 2°C. Os EUA, principal emissor histórico, não ratificarão Kyoto nunca. Os países emergentes, hoje os maiores emissores do planeta, não têm metas obrigatórias pelo acordo.

E outros países industrializados com obrigações no acordo, como Japão e Rússia, já anunciaram que não participarão de um segundo período: apenas dizem que vão implementar as metas voluntárias de corte de emissões com que se comprometeram na conferência de Copenhague, em 2009.

Corrêa do Lago admite que esse cenário deixa dentro de Kyoto apenas a União Europeia e outros países menores, que somam somente 15% das emissões mundiais. Sem Kyoto, porém, os países em desenvolvimento temem que se perca a diferenciação que obriga os países ricos (que poluíram mais no passado) a fazer mais.

Os países desenvolvidos, por sua vez, apelam para um acordo único. Na semana passada, o ministro do Ambiente britânico, Chris Huhne, defendeu que um tratado legalmente vinculante que envolvesse também os emergentes fosse fechado em 2015. O Brasil – que se obrigou, por lei, a cortar emissões até 2020 – não fecha a porta a um acordo desses. Mas antes os ricos terão de entregar Kyoto.

Outro impasse deve girar em torno do dinheiro que os países ricos prometeram desembolsar para o combate à mudança climática nos pobres: US$ 30 bilhões entre 2010 e 2012 e um Fundo Verde de US$ 100 bilhões por ano a partir de 2020. Com a crise da dívida dos EUA e o colapso financeiro da Europa, os principais doadores, falar em dinheiro para o clima é a proverbial corda em casa de enforcado.

A crise tem feito os países ricos levantarem dúvidas sobre que tipo de verba constitui o Fundo Verde. O discurso dos ricos agora, dizem diplomatas brasileiros, é que o dinheiro do fundo verde deve ser sobretudo privado. “Não foram setores privados que se comprometeram com o dinheiro, portanto eles não poderão ser cobrados”, afirmou o diplomata brasileiro André Odembreit.

É tarde para conter aquecimento, diz análise – Enquanto os diplomatas tentam tirar as negociações internacionais sobre o clima da irrelevância, cientistas alertam que é provavelmente tarde demais para evitar a mudança climática perigosa.

Um relatório divulgado na semana passada pelo Pnuma (Programa das Nações Unidas para o Meio Ambiente) sugere que o planeta terá em 2020, na melhor das hipóteses, 6 bilhões de toneladas de CO₂ “sobrando” no ar em relação ao que precisaria para cumprir a meta de evitar um aquecimento global maior do que 2°C neste século. Para ter mais de 66% de chance de cumprir a meta, seria preciso limitar as emissões de gases-estufa a 44 bilhões de toneladas de CO₂ em 2020.

Hoje elas são de 50 bilhões de toneladas, e permanecerão nessa faixa somente se todos os países cumprirem estritamente as metas mais ambiciosas com as quais disseram que poderiam se comprometer no Acordo de Copenhague, em 2009 -a UE, por exemplo, disse que cortaria 30% de suas emissões em vez dos 20% que prometeu, mas só se outros países aumentassem sua ambição.

Caso pouco seja feito – o que parece o cenário mais provável considerando o contexto político atual -, as emissões atingirão 55 bilhões de toneladas, e o “buraco” para cumprir a meta será de 9 bilhões em vez de 6 bilhões de toneladas de CO2 em 2020. Mesmo a trajetória mais benigna de emissões põe o planeta no rumo de esquentar de 2,5°C a 5°C até 2100.

O relatório do Pnuma, intitulado “Bridging the Gap” (algo como “Tapando o Buraco”), tenta passar uma mensagem positiva: ele afirma que é “tecnicamente possível e economicamente viável” fechar o buraco de 6 bilhões de toneladas até 2020 cortando emissões em vários setores.

A probabilidade de que isso aconteça, porém, é tão pequena que nem os cientistas que elaboraram o documento acreditam nela. “Até a véspera da divulgação do estudo, nós ainda estávamos divididos sobre se deveríamos passar uma mensagem esperançosa ou pessimista”, disse à Folha Suzana Kahn Ribeiro, professora da Coppe-UFRJ e uma das coordenadoras do trabalho.

Na divulgação, porém, prevaleceu a necessidade política do Pnuma de adotar a estratégia da esperança, para estimular os negociadores em Durban a tentar um resultado mais ambicioso.

Exterminate a species or two, save the planet (RT)

Published: 26 January, 2011, 14:43

Edited: 15 April, 2011, 05:18

 Biologists have suggested a mathematical model, which will hopefully predict which species need to be eliminated from an unstable ecosystem, and in which order, to help it recover.

The counterintuitive idea to kill living things for the sake of biodiversity conservation comes from the complex connections presented in ecosystems. Eliminate a predator, and its prey thrives and shrinks the amount of whatever it has for its own food. Such “cascading” impacts along the “food webs” can be unpredictable and sometimes catastrophic.

Sagar Sahasrabudhe and Adilson Motter of Northwestern University in the US have shown that in some food web models, the timely removal or suppression of one or several species can do quite the opposite and mitigate the damage caused by local extinction. The paper is described in Nature magazine.

The trick is not an easy one, since the timing of removal is just as important as the targeted species. A live example Sahasrabudhe and Motter use is that of island foxes on the Channel Islands off the coast of California. When feral pigs were introduced in the ecosystem, they attracted golden eagles, which preyed on foxes as well. Simply reversing the situation by removing the pigs would make the birds switch solely to foxes, which would eventually make them extinct. Instead, conservation activists captured and relocated the eagles before eradicating the pigs, saving the fox population.

Of course conservation scientists are not going to start taking decisions based on the models straight away. Real ecosystems are not limited to predator and prey relationships, and things like parasitism, pollination and nutrient dynamics have to be taken into account as well. On the other hand, ecosystems were thought to be too complex to be modeled at all some eight years ago, Martinez says. Their work gives more confidence that it will have practical uses in nearest future.

Lo que dicen las fotos de Lula con cáncer (BBC Mundo)

Gerardo Lissardy

BBC Mundo, Rio de Janeiro
Viernes, 25 de noviembre de 2011

Lula siendo afeitado por su esposa Leticia

Para ningún político debe ser fácil mostrar públicamente una lucha personal contra el cáncer, pero el modo en que lo ha hecho el ex presidente brasileño Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva tiene significados concretos, según sus allegados y expertos.

La noticia del cáncer de laringe que afecta a Lula fue conocida por los brasileños el 29 de octubre, apenas unas horas después que el propio ex presidente fuera diagnosticado con la enfermedad.

Desde entonces, el equipo de comunicación del instituto que encabeza Lula ha enviado regularmente a la prensa mensajes con información del tratamiento de quimioterapia que recibe y hasta de momentos íntimos que vive.

Por ejemplo, hubo fotos de Lula con médicos cuando inició el tratamiento en un hospital de Sao Paulo, fotos en una cama del nosocomio tomado de la mano de su sucesora, la presidenta Dilma Rousseff, y hasta fotos de su esposa Marisa Letícia cortándole a cero su cabello y su barba.

Todas estas imágenes han sido ofrecidas a los medios, libres de reproducción, por el Instituto Lula.

Algunas, en especial las del momento en que perdía su distintiva barba, recorrieron el mundo y se publicaron en las portadas de varios diarios locales y latinoamericanos.

Hay expertos que creen que todo esto responde a una estrategia definida, con valoraciones políticas.

José Chrispiniano, asesor de prensa del Instituto Lula, acepta que el modo de comunicar sobre la enfermedad del ex presidente tiene ciertos objetivos, pero descarta que se trate de vender algo en particular.

“No es de ninguna forma marketing”, dijo en diálogo con BBC Mundo.

“Cuestión muy simbólica”

Lula sin barbaLa oficina del expresidente ha presentado decenas de fotos que documentan la enfermedad de Lula.

Chrispiniano explicó que fue el propio Lula quien tomó la decisión de informar abiertamente sobre su cáncer y tratamiento, desde el momento en que conoció el diagnóstico.

“Aunque no tenga ningún cargo público ahora, es una persona de interés público, entonces el objetivo es divulgar claramente: es una enfermedad tratable y un tratamiento con perspectivas bastante positivas de cura”, señaló.

Además, dijo, se ha buscado evitar una dramatización de la enfermedad (de hecho, en muchas de las fotos divulgadas Lula aparece sonriente) o evitar que parezca “que se están escondiendo cosas”.

La difusión de las fotos de Lula siendo afeitado y mostrando su nuevo aspecto con bigote también fue iniciativa del ex presidente, relató Chrispiniano.

“Era una cuestión muy simbólica de su imagen y quisimos mostrar que pasó ese momento tranquilo, porque (para) muchas personas que tienen esta enfermedad es un momento de mucho estigma”, dijo.

Dos días después del corte de pelo de Lula, su instituto divulgó el viernes 18 fotos del ex presidente recibiendo la visita del director técnico de la selección brasileña de fútbol, Mano Menezes.

“Fuerza, eterno ‘presidente Lula’. Contamos contigo para 2014”, escribió Menezes en la casaca número 10 del combinado nacional que le obsequió a Lula, y que también aparecía en las fotos.

Se trataba de una referencia al Mundial de fútbol que Brasil va a organizar ese año, precisó el comunicado.

“Una estrategia”

Lula con el equipo del hospital de Sao Paolo que lo atiendePara muchos el padecimiento de Lula con el cáncer podría aumentar su ya alta popularidad.

Rousiley Maia, una investigadora de la Universidad Federal de Minas Gerais experta en comunicación y política, cree que la decisión de informar de esta forma sobre el cáncer de Lula “fue deliberadamente una estrategia”.

“En vez de poner sombras (o) tratar con medias palabras (la enfermedad), la estrategia es apelar por el lado humano, ordinario y mortal de la figura”, dijo Maia a BBC Mundo.

Sin embargo, sostuvo que esa decisión es coherente con la “construcción de imagen pública de Lula por varios años”, de un hombre de pueblo que se convirtió en un líder nacional reconocido mundialmente.

“Más allá de la empatía, es una forma de sustentar el carisma y respeto que construyó durante estos años”, opinó. “Este momento de enfermedad personal es una forma de volver a la escena pública de forma central”.

Renzo Taddei, un antropólogo profesor de comunicación, ciudadanía y política en la Universidad Federal de Río de Janeiro (UFRJ), dijo que el manejo público del cáncer de Lula muestra probables aspiraciones políticas a futuro.

“El cáncer es un tema ya clásico de superación y heroísmo en Brasil”, indicó a BBC Mundo.

“Era todo lo que faltaba a Lula: vencer el cáncer. Si lo hace, ya no hay nada más que no pueda hacer (aunque no haya hecho la reforma agraria que Brasil aguarda hace tanto ni las reformas fiscales y políticas)”, agregó.

Cáncer y elecciones

Presidenta Rousseff vista a Lula tras su operaciónLa presidenta Dilma Rousseff también es sobreviviente de un cáncer

Hasta que le fue diagnosticado el cáncer, muchos brasileños se preguntaban si Lula buscaría regresar a la presidencia en las elecciones de 2014, pero él decía que corresponde a Rousseff buscar la reelección.

Cuando Rousseff fue tratada con éxito de un cáncer linfático en 2009, algunos miembros del gobierno de Lula llegaron a especular con que podía salir fortalecida para buscar la presidencia al año siguiente.

Sin embargo, Lula descartó públicamente que ambas cosas pudieran vincularse.

“No puedo imaginar cómo es que alguien sale fortalecido porque tuvo un cáncer”, declaró entonces. “Sólo deseo la recuperación de Dilma”.

Rousseff se recuperó y fue electa presidenta al año siguiente, con el respaldo de Lula.



What untranslatable words reveal about the Brazilian culture, from Brazilian author Roberto Taddei.

Illustration by Andrew Holder.

Illustration by Andrew Holder.I. ONE LANGUAGE, MAS QUE NADA

You might not know it, but Portuguese is part of your daily spoken English. Many words made it into English by way of Asia and Africa—places where the Portuguese landed during the Age of Discoveries (also known as the Age of Exploration 15th-17th centuries). Albino, for instance, and Dodo from doido (crazy). Sometimes the English word retains it’s original meaning buried within, like “fetish,” which comes from feitiço (charm and sorcery).

Other words, like those for native-grown food from Brazil, came from Brazilian indigenous languages, like cayenne and cashew. Then there are culture-specific words that migrated into English as the phenomenon became popularized: samba,bossa novacaipirinha, Ipanema (originally meaning fish-less river),“Mas que Nada,” and so on. But although these words come to represent Brazil abroad the country is much more than a bracing drink or a sexy girl.

The spirit of Brazil can be found in it’s language, but like the country, the language is remarkably diverse. As with American English, the Brazilian version of Portuguese is a mixture of languages. The Roman language brought by the Europeans in 1500 suffered a long process of accommodation along the centuries. It first encountered the Tupi language, then used all over the Brazilian coast. Later it mixed with two major African languages: Bantu and Yoruba. Two hundred years later, the entire country was speaking a new language, Nhengatu

Nhengatu is a combination of the nearly 200 native idioms of Brazil, remnants of Roman Portuguese, Bantu and Yoruba. This hybrid language was widely used, reaching nearly across the entire country. When Robinson Crusoe lived in Bahia before his shipwreck he would have spoken Nhengatu, not Portuguese.

By the end of the 18th century, Portugal decided to bring the country back to speaking Portuguese by force. But despite their efforts Brazilian Portuguese retained ethnic and cultural echoes of the country itself. One example is the use of the null subject in Brazilian Portuguese, which is very distinct from Portugal. In several cases, some particularities of Brazilian Portuguese were initially seen by Portugal as grammatical errors, such as the usage of distinct pronouns and verbal agreements. But throughout the years, these “errors” came to be reinforced by Brazilian poets and speakers as a sign of post-colonial national identity. As the modernist Brazilian writer Oswald de Andrade once noted: “Tupy or not Tupy, that’s the question.”


Despite a influx of Brazilian Portuguese words into English, one word in particular has resisted eager translators—be they Nobel laureates, poets, scholars or songwriters. The word is saudade. Maybe you’ve heard of it, since saudade is used in English without translation. Considered one of the top ten untranslatable words in the world, saudade is particularly difficult because it combines several emotions at once: fierceness, longing, yearning, pining, missing, homesickness, or all or none of the above. It is so complex that when I tried to explain it to a friend once she cut me short: “I’m sure I’ve never felt saudade.”

For this reason, of the most celebrated songs in Brazilian culture, “Chega de Saudades,” has never been translated into English. But the song lyrics, roughly translated, help explain saudade in part. The lyrics were written by Brazilian poetVinicius de Moraes. They describe feeling saudades as being deprived of peace and beauty, full of sadness and a melancholy that never goes away because the poet’s muse has abandon him.

Vinicius frequently collaborated with the songwriter and maestro Tom Jobim. Tom had a country house a couple of hills away from Elizabeth Bishop and almost two decades after she wrote her “Song for the Rainy Season” he also composed a song to the Brazilian rain. “Waters of March” was created both in Portuguese and in English and yet the versions are not identical. The Brazilian version sings about the end of the summer in Rio. The English version is about the beginning of Spring in the North. Since the beginning of Spring in America (around March, the rainy season) is also the end of the hot weather in Brazil (also March, when the rains come) the translation evokes the same season of mists.

Tom and Vinicius’ collaboration resulted in many hit songs that have since become Brazilian standards. Many of their songs have bilingual versions, which helped them become popular internationally. Except of course for the elusive “Chega de Saudades,” whose message remains locked in the meaning of one untranslatable word.

In 1968, Clarice Lispector (a Ukranian-born Brazilian author also translated by Elizabeth Bishop) tried her own definition of saudade: it “is a bit like hunger. Only disappears when one eats the presence. But sometimes the longing is so deep that the presence is not enough: one wants to absorb the whole other person. This will of one being the other in a complete unification is one of the most urgent feeling that we have in life.”

As poetic as this sounds, her definition raises another translation problem. The very notion of “presence” in Brazil is also untranslatable. Like all Roman languages, Portuguese has two verbs for the English “to be”. There is a distinction between being in a physical place and being as an emotional or ontological state.

It’s not only grammar, “being” itself is also seen differently in Brazilian culture. If the Portuguese carried to the New World the cartesian definition of presence, “I think, therefore I am,” once they got to Brazil they encountered cultures who thought about “being” very differently. Anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro made a lifetime study of amerindian perspectivism and discovered that some Brazilian native groups would have laughed at the idea of “I think, therefore I am,” suggesting as it does that the condition of thought predates existence. To them, the saying would likely go “the other exists, therefore she thinks.” This doesn’t mean that they were necessarily more generous than the Portuguese. It seems like a simple construction until you compare it with “I think, therefore I am” and see that to the Portuguese existence could be proven in a vacuum, while for native Brazilians existence depended on the existence of others. In this community-based definition of existence the other would be more important than the self since it is only through the other that I can recognize myself.

That’s why we so often use the word saudade in Lispector’s way, as an urge to “eat the other,” because the closer we get to understanding ourselves the closer we get to the other, and perhaps it is only by fully incorporating the other that we can escape the existential question of whether or not we actually exist. Comparing Elizabeth Bishop and Tom Jobim’s verses to the Brazilian rain you notice that the former is fundamentally about the poet, the latter sings about the outer world.

In an informal talk with Clarice Lispector in the 70s’, Tom Jobim explained that Brazil “is a country with an extremely free soul.” This freedom encourages creative expression, but, he says, Brazil is not “a country for amadores.” The Portuguese “amadores” means both amateurs and lovers, a linguistic challenge that could get in the way of aspiring lovers themselves.

Ultimately, necessity and usage determines which words are absorbed into the culture; which we translate or use as-is (like caipirinha) and which words remain culturally specific. In Brazil there are no translations for several English terms—like commodity, online, drag queen, shopping center—which seem to be more “authentic” in their original English format since what they refer to has an American or British origin. Brazilians seem to have never needed words like serendipity or patronize, just as English speakers perhaps never needed cafuné (caressing someone’s head with one’s fingers), or safadeza (a mixture of shamelessness, naughtiness, debauchery and mischief), both used on a daily basis below the Equator.

The more we know a language and its speakers, them more we understand their national culture. As Salman Rushdie writes in his novel Shame: “to unlock a society, look at its untranslatable words.”

– ROBERTO TADDEI is a writer and journalist who studied creative writing at Columbia. He lives in São Paulo and is adapting his first novel from English into Portuguese

Ritual de tribo brasileira é indicado a patrimônio da Unesco (BBC)

Atualizado em  22 de novembro, 2011 – 12:39 (Brasília) 14:39 GMT

Ritual Yaokwa. Foto: acervo IphanLista de indicados inclui cerimônia do povo enawenê-nawê (Foto: acervo Iphan)

Um ritual de um povo indígena brasileiro, voltado para “manter a ordem social e cósmica”, foi indicado para integrar uma lista de patrimônios culturais imateriais “em necessidade urgente de proteção” elaborada pela Unesco, a agência da ONU para a educação e a cultura.

O yaokwa é a principal cerimônia do calendário ritual dos enawenê-nawê, povo indígena cujo território tradicional fica no noroeste do Mato Grosso.

O Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (Iphan) registrou o ritual Yaokwa como bem cultural em 2010. Segundo dados da Fundação Nacional de Saúde (Funasa), o povo enawenê-nawê – que fala a língua aruak – é formado por cerca de 560 integrantes.O ritual, que marca o início do calendário enawenê, dura sete meses e é realizado com a saída dos homens para realizar uma pesca coletiva com o uso de uma barragem e de armadilhas construídas com cascas de árvore e cipós.

A partir desta quarta-feira, a comissão intergovernamental da Unesco pela salvaguarda do patrimônio cultural imaterial se reúne em Bali, na Indonésia, para avaliar os rituais e tradições indicados para ser protegidos. A reunião se encerra no próximo dia 29.

O Brasil país conta com 18 bens inscritos na lista do Patrimônio Mundial da Unesco.

Entre o patrimônio imaterial, dedicado a tradições orais, cultura e a arte populares, línguas indígenas e manifestações tradicionais, estão as Expressões Orais e Gráficas dos Wajãpis do Amapá e o Samba de Roda do Recôncavo Baiano.

Se entrar na lista, o ritual dos enawenê-nawê passará a contar com apoio da entidade na sua preservação.

Muitas atividades da Unesco estão prejudicadas desde que os Estados Unidos retiraram o seu financiamento da agência, depois que ela aceitou a Palestina como Estado-membro pleno.

Seres subterrâneos

Com o ritual Yaokwa, os enawenê-nawê acreditam entrar em contato com seres temidos que vivem no subterrâneo, os yakairiti, cuja fome deve ser saciada com sal vegetal, peixes e outros alimentos derivados do milho e da mandioca, a fim de manter a ordem social e cósmica.

Para a realização do ritual, os indígenas se dividem em dois grupos: um que fica na aldeia junto às mulheres, preparando o sal vegetal, acendendo o fogo e oferecendo alimentos, e outro que sai para a pesca, com o objetivo de retornar para a aldeia com grandes quantidades de peixe defumado, que é oferecido aos yakairiti.

Construção de barragem. Foto: acervo IphanIndígenas constroem barragem para pesca; alimentos servem de oferenda (Foto: acervo Iphan)

Os indígenas realizam a pesca em rios de médio porte da região. Com os peixes e os demais alimentos, os enawenê-nawê realizam banquetes festivos ao longo de meses, acompanhados de cantos com flautas e danças.

Encantamento de camelos

Além do yaokwa, outro ritual indicado para proteção urgente na América do Sul é o eshuva, composto pelas orações cantadas do povo huachipaire, do Peru.

A lista de proteção urgente também inclui como indicados a dança saman, da província indonésia de Aceh, as tradições de relatos de histórias no nordeste da China e o “encantamento de camelos” da Mongólia, no qual as pessoas cantam para as fêmeas, a fim de persuadi-las a aceitar os filhotes de camelo órfãos.

Já para a lista representativa de patrimônio cultural imaterial da humanidade (sem indicativo de necessidade urgente de proteção), são indicados, pela América do Sul, o conhecimento tradicional dos xamãs jaguares de Yurupari (Colômbia) e a peregrinação ao santuário do senhor de Qoyllurit’i (Peru).

Outras tradições indicadas pela Unesco são as marionetes de sombras chinesas, o kung-fu dos monges Shaolin (China), a porcelana de Limoges (França), a música dos mariachis mexicanos e o fado (música tradicional portuguesa).

Can Climate Science Predict Extreme Weather? (Scientific American)

This year’s rash of severe weather is changing climate science. As policymakers call for better information, scientists are scrambling to understand the link between increasing emissions and natural disaster

By Joshua Zaffos and The Daily Climate  | November 2, 2011

Halloween Weekend Snow Paints a Ghostly Picture in the U.S. NortheastImage: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

DENVER, Colo. – 2011 may well be remembered as the year of extremeweather in the United States, with drought in Texas, floods along the Mississippi River, a freak October snowstorm on the East Coast. Tornadoes alone would make the year memorable, with some 1,270 twisters causing 544 deaths and $25 billion in damages.

The outbreak is reshaping climate science, as researchers hone their abilities to predict severe weather and link the record-shattering destruction to humanity’s increasing emissions.

The goal: To provide better information to policymakers and local officials who must plan for and adapt to changes. “It’s a rapidly developing field,” said Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring and attribution at the Met Office, Britain’s national weather service.

Stott led one of the first studies attributing a single extreme weather event to climate change: The 2003 European heat wave, which killed 40,000 and was the hottest summer on record since 1540.  The study concluded that human influence more than doubled the event’s likelihood.

Last week, a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concluded there was an 80 percent chance that the killer Russian heat wave of 2010 would not have happened without the added push of global warming.

Now, Stott and other researchers are melding weather forecasting skills with pioneering computer models to attribute – or link – individual weather events to climate change. Understanding how climate change influences the weather is increasingly seen as key to predicting natural disasters, Stott said, and the new studies should help policymakers anticipate the conditions and trends associated with weather extremes. “There’s this very strong connection between attribution and prediction,” noted Stott, who spoke on these issues before colleagues last week at the World Climate Research Programme conference here in Denver.

The efforts are steering the next steps of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international body of scientists that reviews and assesses the vast pool of climate research for policymakers worldwide. The next IPCC assessment is due in 2013 – the fifth from the panel since 1990. For the first time it will include “predictions” – near-term and long-term climate forecasts based on actual conditions – instead of “projections” that simulate hypothetical scenarios and carbon emission rates.

The distinction is an advance for climate science and the IPCC, said Kevin Trenberth, who runs the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

Previous IPCC assessments have cited projections that are not grounded in current or historical conditions. Instead, policymakers are given “what-if” scenarios, such as how the future climate might react to different greenhouse-gas emissions over the coming decades. The results show changes between two assumed moments in time, Trenberth said, but they lack a starting point tied to observed data and, ultimately, are informed guesses of future carbon dioxide levels and their consequences.

Climate model predictions, on the other hand, are like weather forecasts. They start from a current or historical moment to analyze climate changes. By grabbing more measurements and using new techniques, advanced climate models reveal more clearly how the atmosphere responds to increased water moisture, warmer sea temperatures and melting sea ice, all impacts of increased carbon. Compared to projections, predictions allow scientists to offer near-term climate forecasts, which should help policymakers prepare for potential adaptations in the next few decades.

The change from projections to predictions is made possible in part by a new generation of more powerful computer models. The last IPCC assessment report, published in 2007, made minor mention of feedbacks – environmental processes and interactions that can intensify extreme climate events, said Sonia Seneviratne, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, who specializes on the topic. New data have since opened up scientists’ understanding of their importance.

Seneviratne is the lead author of an IPCC special report to be released later this month that focuses on climate change and extreme events. Research in this area has been “substantial and justifies a separate assessment,” she said, adding that it’s particularly a topic of interest for officials concerned with disaster preparedness and risk reduction.

The special report concludes that scientists are “virtually certain” the world will see more extremes in heat and that some places in the world will become “increasingly marginal as places to live,” according to the Associated Press, which obtained a draft. The draft also concludes there is at least a two-in-three chance that man-made global warming has already worsened weather extremes, according to the AP. The document is subject to change and needs approval from diplomats meeting in Uganda mid-month.

There are some caveats to these new climate predictions, however.

Writing in a scientific journal last year, Trenberth warned colleagues that the promise of more accurate representations of climate change will introduce new scientific uncertainties inherent to modeling more complex and realistic situations. Just as weather forecasting evokes its share of skepticism and doubt, climate predictions will likely represent a new communications challenge – and fodder for controversy and criticism – for climate scientists, said Trenberth.

“It’s about communication,” agreed Stott, who is the lead author of the 2013 IPCC report’s section on attribution and detection of climate change. “An understanding of where extreme weather fits into the longer-term picture of a changing climate helps people put this into context, and [whether] this is something that is going to become more common in the future and therefore we need to give more attention and be more prepared for these things.”

Stott and other scientists at a handful of modeling centers worldwide are focusing on the relation between climate change and extreme weather through a new initiative, Attribution of Climate-related Events. Stott says the project will move scientists further along toward forecasting extreme events and mapping the interactions with climate change.

“The goal is to be able to develop the tools and the skills, so we know when we can be confident and provide trustworthy assessments, and to do this in a timely fashion – in the immediate aftermath of a particular situation,” Stott said. “At the moment, we’re not really geared up for that. It’s very much research mode.> We’ve hardly scratched the surface.”

This article originally appeared at The Daily Climate, the climate change news source published by Environmental Health Sciences, a nonprofit media company.

Joshua Zaffos is an independent journalist based in Fort Collins, Colo., His work has also appeared in High Country, Miller-McCune, and Wired. is a foundation-funded news service that covers climate change.

The human cause of climate change: Where does the burden of proof lie? (Wiley)

Dr. Kevin Trenberth advocates reversing the ‘null hypothesis’

Public release date: 3-Nov-2011
Contact: Ben Norman

The debate may largely be drawn along political lines, but the human role in climate change remains one of the most controversial questions in 21st century science. Writing in WIREs Climate Change Dr Kevin Trenberth, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, argues that the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is now so clear that the burden of proof should lie with research which seeks to disprove the human role.

In response to Trenberth’s argument a second review, by Dr Judith Curry, focuses on the concept of a ‘null hypothesis’ the default position which is taken when research is carried out. Currently the null hypothesis for climate change attribution research is that humans have no influence.

“Humans are changing our climate. There is no doubt whatsoever,” said Trenberth. “Questions remain as to the extent of our collective contribution, but it is clear that the effects are not small and have emerged from the noise of natural variability. So why does the science community continue to do attribution studies and assume that humans have no influence as a null hypothesis?”

To show precedent for his position Trenberth cites the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which states that global warming is “unequivocal”, and is “very likely” due to human activities.

Trenberth also focused on climate attribution studies which claim the lack of a human component, and suggested that the assumptions distort results in the direction of finding no human influence, resulting in misleading statements about the causes of climate change that can serve to grossly underestimate the role of humans in climate events.

“Scientists must challenge misconceptions in the difference between weather and climate while attribution studies must include a human component,” concluded Trenberth. “The question should no longer be is there a human component, but what is it?”

In a second paper Dr Judith Curry, from the Georgia Institute of Technology, questions this position, but argues that the discussion on the null hypothesis serves to highlight fuzziness surrounding the many hypotheses related to dangerous climate change.

“Regarding attribution studies, rather than trying to reject either hypothesis regardless of which is the null, there should be a debate over the significance of anthropogenic warming relative to forced and unforced natural climate variability,” said Curry.

Curry also suggested that the desire to reverse the null hypothesis may have the goal of seeking to marginalise the climate sceptic movement, a vocal group who have challenged the scientific orthodoxy on climate change.

“The proponents of reversing the null hypothesis should be careful of what they wish for,” concluded Curry. “One consequence may be that the scientific focus, and therefore funding, would also reverse to attempting to disprove dangerous anthropogenic climate change, which has been a position of many sceptics.”

“I doubt Trenberth’s suggestion will find much support in the scientific community,” said Professor Myles Allen from Oxford University, “but Curry’s counter proposal to abandon hypothesis tests is worse. We still have plenty of interesting hypotheses to test: did human influence on climate increase the risk of this event at all? Did it increase it by more than a factor of two?”


All three papers are free online:

Trenberth. K, “Attribution of climate variations and trends to human influences and natural variability”:

Curry. J, “Nullifying the climate null hypothesis”:

Allen. M, “In defense of the traditional null hypothesis: remarks on the Trenberth and Curry opinion articles”:

Mixed messages on climate ‘vulnerability’ (BBC)

13 November 2011 Last updated at 14:45 GMT

Cyclist in floodThere are concerns that climate change may exacerbate flooding in cities such as Bangkok

One of the most striking new voices on climate change that’s emerged since the UN summit in Copenhagen two years ago is the Climate Vulnerable Forum.

The grouping includes small island states vulnerable to extreme weather events and sea level rise, those with immense spans of low-lying coastline such as Vietnam and Bangladesh, and dry nations of East Africa.

It’s currently holding a meeting in Bangladesh, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the keynote speaker.

These countries feel vulnerable as a result of several types of projected climate impact.

In increasing order of suddenness, there are what you might call “steady-state” impacts such as rising sea levels; increased separation of weather into more concentrated wet periods and dry periods; and a greater occurrence of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, heatwaves and droughts.

But what can science really tell us about these extremes?

While the vulnerable meet in Dhaka, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be sitting down in Kampala to answer the question.

For almost a week, government delegates will pore over the summary of the IPCC’s latest report on extreme weather, with the lead scientific authors there as well. They’re scheduled to emerge on Friday with an agreed document.

The draft, which has found its way into my possession, contains a lot more unknowns than knowns.

On the one hand, it says it is “very likely” that the incidence of cold days and nights has gone down and the incidence of warm days and nights has risen globally.

And the human and financial toll of extreme weather events has risen.

Human hand fingered?

But when you get down to specifics, the academic consensus is far less certain.

Glacier, AlaskaEnhanced glacier melt could speed up sea level rise in the coming decades

There is “low confidence” that tropical cyclones have become more frequent, “limited-to-medium evidence available” to assess whether climatic factors have changed the frequency of floods, and “low confidence” on a global scale even on whether the frequency has risen or fallen.

In terms of attribution of trends to rising greenhouse gas concentrations, the uncertainties continue.

While it is “likely” that anthropogenic influences are behind the changes in cold days and warm days, there is only “medium confidence” that they are behind changes in extreme rainfall events, and “low confidence” in attributing any changes in tropical cyclone activity to greenhouse gas emissions or anything else humanity has done.

(These terms have specific meanings in IPCC-speak, with “very likely” meaning 90-100% and “likely” 66-100%, for example.)

And for the future, the draft gives even less succour to those seeking here a new mandate for urgent action on greenhouse gas emissions, declaring: “Uncertainty in the sign of projected changes in climate extremes over the coming two to three decades is relatively large because climate change signals are expected to be relatively small compared to natural climate variability”.

It’s also explicit in laying out that the rise in impacts we’ve seen from extreme weather events cannot be laid at the door of greenhouse gas emissions: “Increasing exposure of people and economic assets is the major cause of the long-term changes in economic disaster losses (high confidence).

“Long-term trends in normalized economic disaster losses cannot be reliably attributed to natural or anthropogenic climate change.”

The succour only lasts for so long, however.

If the century progresses without restraints on greenhouse gas emissions, their impacts will come to dominate, it forecasts:

  • “It is very likely that the length, frequency and/or intensity of warm spells, including heat waves, will continue to increase over most land areas…
  • “It is likely that the frequency of heavy precipitation or the proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls will increase in the 21st Century over many areas of the globe…
  • “Mean tropical cyclone maximum wind speed is likely to increase…
  • “There is medium confidence that droughts will intensify in the 21st Century in some seasons and areas…
  • “Low-probability high-impact changes associated with the crossing of poorly understood thresholds cannot be excluded, given the transient and complex nature of the climate system.”

The draft report makes clear that lack of evidence or lack of confidence on a particular impact doesn’t mean it won’t occur; just that it’s hard to tell.

Climate a distraction?

It’s impossible to read the draft without coming away with the impression that with or without anthropogenic climate change, extreme weather impacts are going to be felt more and more, simply because there are more and more people on planet Earth – particularly in the swelling “megacities” of the developing world that overwhelmingly lie on the coast or on big rivers close to the coast.

President NasheedPresident Nasheed of the Maldives has warned that climate change may mean the end of his nation

The current Bangkok floods are a case in point.

As UK academic Mike Hulme and others have argued, such events will occur whether exacerbated by climate change or not; and vulnerable societies need protection irrespective of climate change.

He’s argued for a divorce, therefore, between the issues of adaptation, which he says could usefully be added into the overall process of overseas development assistance, and mitigation of emissions.

It’s not proved to be a popular notion with developing world governments, which remain determined to tie the two together in the UN climate process.

Governments of vulnerable countries argue that as developed nations caused the climate change problem, they must compensate those that suffer its impacts with money above and beyond aid.

Developing countries like the fact that under the UN climate process, the rich are committed to funding adaptation for the poor.

Yet as the brief prepared for the Dhaka meeting by the humanitarian charity Dara shows, it isn’t happening anywhere near as fast as it ought to be.

Only 8% of the “fast-start finance” pledged in Copenhagen, it says, has actually found its way to recipients.

It’s possible – no, it’s “very likely” – that the IPCC draft will be amended as the week progresses, and presumably the governments represented at the Climate Vulnerable Forum will be asking their delegates to inject a greater sense of urgency.

Although there are sobering messages, they’re not for everyone.

The warning that “some local areas will become increasingly marginal as places to live or in which to maintain livelihoods” under increased climate impacts, and that “for locations such as atolls, in some cases it is possible that many residents will have to relocate” are, in their understated way, quite chilling.

But very few of the world’s seven billion live on atolls; so will this be enough to provide a wake-up call to other countries?

It’s also possible to argue that extreme weather isn’t really the issue for the small island developing states, or for those with long flat coastlines.

The big issue (which the IPCC is much more confident about) is sea level rise – slow, progressive, predictable; capable of being dealt with in some cases (think the Netherlands) provided the will and money are there.

But capable of wiping a country off the map if those two factors are absent.

This is one of the reasons why the Climate Vulnerable Forum established itself.

They felt that although both developed and developing nations understood vulnerability in theory, they didn’t get the message viscerally.

Whether they will by the end of the week when the IPCC releases the final version, I’m not so sure.

Anthropologists Consider a New Code of Ethics (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

November 20, 2011

By Dan Berrett

Today’s anthropologists are apt to work far away from the unspoiled villages that brought fame to the discipline’s early practitioners.

Instead, they might be in a hospital room observing patients, at a construction site gauging its archaeological significance, or in a corporate office examining organizational behavior, among other scenarios.

Those diverse contexts may explain why it has proved to be no easy job for anthropologists to create a new set of ethical guidelines. After three years spent seeking opinion and working on new guidelines, the American Anthropological Association is moving toward changes that some in the discipline fear will water down anthropologists’ obligations to the people they study.

“Dealing with ethics codes is complicated,” said David H. Price, a member of the committee charged with revising the guidelines. The word was echoed last week by fellow committee members at a panel on ethics at the association’s annual meeting here. Basic ethical principles might seem clear at the outset, but then point to different courses of action depending on the context, said Mr. Price, a professor at Saint Martin’s University, in Washington. “You can start with something simple, like ‘Do no harm,'” he said, and then find yourself hamstrung if those guidelines are written too specifically ­— or lost at sea if they are too vague.

One of the most notable changes in the proposed new code was to remove what many anthropologists call the “prime directive.”

The previous code, which dates to 1998 (though incremental changes have been made since then), told anthropologists that they “have primary ethical obligations to the people, species, and materials they study and to the people with whom they work.”

By many accounts, that directive has meant that an anthropologist’s obligation to his or her research subject can eclipse the goal of acquiring new knowledge. In other words, if research goes against the interests of subjects, then that research ought to be stopped.

The newer version, which the association’s executive board accepted for review at this year’s meeting but did not formally adopt, is more nuanced. It explains that the primary ethical obligation is “to avoid doing harm to the lives, communities, or environments” that anthropologists study.

The shift struck some as important. At other sessions during the annual meeting, several speakers and audience members said they held themselves to a different standard. It was not enough to keep from hurting their subjects. They should advocate for them.

The new code may do little to change that sense of obligation. It persists, in part, because of the assumption that an anthropologist is still that lone researcher closely observing a vulnerable tribe in a remote area, some on the committee said.

“That pure anthropology maybe never existed,” said Dena K. Plemmons, chair of the committee and a research ethicist at the University of California at San Diego. “Our subjects are tremendously diverse and we have diverse responsibilities.”

For example, Simon J. Craddock Lee, an assistant professor of medical anthropology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, said his subjects are “well-paid cancer surgeons who give care to disenfranchised people.”

He has obligations to both groups, he said. “If my subjects are doctors, how do I balance my obligations to the people who are truly vulnerable?”

One audience member suggested that his chief loyalty should be to the person or group who is most at risk of harm among those being studied.

While that might seem straightforward, Mr. Lee replied, everyone—including the poor and vulnerable—has an agenda.

“We can’t assume there’s a David-and-Goliath relationship,” he said. “It’s not clean enough to say you can sort the good sheep from the goats.”

Ethics, or Politics?

The question of clandestine research offered another case in which a seemingly simple principle can become complicated when applied to field work. To some, discouraging clandestine research meant that an anthropologist should never deceive subjects and should always share his or her work publicly.

But Laura A. McNamara, an anthropologist who works for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories, disagreed, saying that some anthropologists study classified information; they cannot make their findings public.

Even deceit can have its place, she added. Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a professor of medical anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, for example, did research that exposed the organ-trafficking trade. Her work never would have been made public if she had believed that her primary obligation was to her subjects, who were, after all, organ traffickers.

The real problem, Ms. McNamara and her fellow committee members agreed, is not when research is clandestine, but when it is “compartmentalized,” which means a researcher may not know who is using or financing the research, or what the implications will be.

“There is no way you can communicate an informed perspective,” she said.

How anthropologists wield ethical guidelines also came up for scrutiny. Anthropologists push most fervently to revise their ethics when they disagree with the politics underlying controversial research, several speakers noted.

“We go to high Sturm und Drang” about ethics, Ms. McNamara said, when political objections arise about who is doing anthropological research for whom—especially when it’s for the government, corporations, or the rich and powerful. “Ethics becomes conflated with politics in ways that I find profoundly distressing,” she said.

Some anthropologists pushed to revise the ethics code in 2007, said Ms. Plemmons, when acontroversy erupted over the Human Terrain System, a program that embedded anthropologists with United States military units. The association’s executive board disapproved of anthropologists’ involvement in the act of making war, calling it “an unacceptable application of anthropological expertise” which should, instead, serve “the humane causes of global peace and social justice.”

Education and Punishment

Committee members said they also heard from anthropologists who wanted an ethics code that could be enforced. That way, anthropologists who act badly could be punished or cast out of the discipline.

The association once held the power to adjudicate claims of ethical breaches, Mr. Price said. But when he reviewed records of the association’s work from that period, he saw that most claims involved what he called “sleaziness,” or cases in which professors harassed students or took credit for their research. While unethical, those breaches were not specific to anthropology and needed no separate code beyond those that already exist, he said.

Assuming responsibility for adjudicating ethical disputes presented another set of problems, said several speakers. It would mean a new mission and structure for the association, which would have to hire investigators to police wrongdoing and claim the power to credential who gets to call him- or herself an anthropologist. Many times, such complaints can be handled through an institutional review board or a university.

The association has seen first-hand how difficult such investigations can be. In 2001 and 2002, it probed claims of wrongdoing and ethical malpractice against anthropologists and geneticists in the Amazon in the 1960s. The association later published a report finding fault with some of the scholars’ conduct in what became known as the Darkness in El Dorado controversy (after a journalist’s account by that name), only to rescind its own report in 2005.

Besides, the ethics committee surveyed members and learned that most anthropologists are not all that interested in using ethical guidelines as a means to punish each other. What most anthropologists wanted, they said, was some form of general guidance, an educational tool to train future anthropologists.

Are We Getting Nicer? (N.Y. Times)

Published: November 23, 2011

It’s pretty easy to conclude that the world is spinning down the toilet.

So let me be contrary and offer a reason to be grateful this Thanksgiving. Despite the gloomy mood, the historical backdrop is stunning progress in human decency over recent centuries.

War is declining, and humanity is becoming less violent, less racist and less sexist — and this moral progress has accelerated in recent decades. To put it bluntly, we humans seem to be getting nicer.

That’s the central theme of an astonishingly good book just published by Steven Pinker, a psychology professor at Harvard. It’s called “The Better Angels of Our Nature,” and it’s my bet to win the next Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction.

“Today we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’ existence,” Pinker writes, and he describes this decline in violence as possibly “the most important thing that has ever happened in human history.”

He acknowledges: “In a century that began with 9/11, Iraq, and Darfur, the claim that we are living in an unusually peaceful time may strike you as somewhere between hallucinatory and obscene.”

Still, even in a 20th century notorious for world war and genocide, only around 3 percent of humans died from such man-made catastrophes. In contrast, a study of Native-American skeletons from hunter-gather societies found that some 13 percent had died of trauma. And in the 17th century, the Thirty Years’ War reduced Germany’s population by as much as one-third.

Wars make headlines, but there are fewer conflicts today, and they typically don’t kill as many people. Many scholars have made that point, most notably Joshua S. Goldstein in his recent book “Winning the War on War: The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide.” Goldstein also argues that it’s a myth that civilians are more likely to die in modern wars.

Look also at homicide rates, which are now far lower than in previous centuries. The murder rate in Britain seems to have fallen by more than 90 percent since the 14th century.

Then there are the myriad forms of violence that were once the banal backdrop of daily life. One game in feudal Europe involved men competing to head-butt to death a cat that had been nailed alive to a post. One reason this was considered so entertaining: the possibility that it would claw out a competitor’s eye.

Think of fairy tales and nursery rhymes. One academic study found that modern children’s television programs have 4.8 violent scenes per hour, compared with nursery rhymes with 52.2.

The decline in brutality is true of other cultures as well. When I learned Chinese, I was startled to encounter ideographs like the one of a knife next to a nose: pronounced “yi,” it means “cutting off a nose as punishment.” That’s one Chinese character that students no longer study.

Pinker’s book rang true to me partly because I often report on genocide and human rights abuses. I was aghast that Darfur didn’t prompt more of an international response from Western governments, but I was awed by the way American university students protested on behalf of a people who lived half a world away.

That reflects a larger truth: There is global consensus today that slaughtering civilians is an outrage. Governments may still engage in mass atrocities, but now they hire lobbyists and public relations firms to sanitize the mess.

In contrast, until modern times, genocide was simply a way of waging war. The Bible repeatedly describes God as masterminding genocide (“thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth” — Deuteronomy 20:16), and European-Americans saw nothing offensive about exterminating Native Americans. One of my heroes, Theodore Roosevelt, later a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, was unapologetic: “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely in the case of the tenth.”

The pace of moral progress has accelerated in the last few decades. Pinker notes that on issues such as civil rights, the role of women, equality for gays, beating of children and treatment of animals, “the attitudes of conservatives have followed the trajectory of liberals, with the result that today’s conservatives are more liberal than yesterday’s liberals.”

The reasons for these advances are complex but may have to do with the rise of education, the decline of chauvinism and a growing willingness to put ourselves in the shoes (increasingly, even hooves) of others.

Granted, the world still faces brutality and cruelty. That’s what I write about the rest of the year! But let’s pause for a moment to acknowledge remarkable progress and give thanks for the human capacity for compassion and moral growth.

Drillers using counterinsurgency experts (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Marcellus industry taking a page from the military to deal with media, resident opposition
Sunday, November 13, 2011
By Don Hopey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Marcellus Shale gas drilling spokesmen at an industry conference in Houston said their companies are employing former military counterinsurgency officers and recommended using military-style psychological operations strategies, or psyops, to deal with media inquiries and citizen opposition to drilling in Pennsylvania communities.

Matt Pitzarella, a Range Resources spokesman speaking to other oil and gas industry spokespeople at the conference last week, said the company hires former military psyops specialists who use those skills in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Pitzarella’s statements and related comments made by a spokesman for Anadarko Petroleum were recorded by a member of an environmental group who provided them to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“We have several former psyops folks that work for us at Range because they’re very comfortable in dealing with localized issues and local governments,” Mr. Pitzarella said during the last half of a 23-minute presentation in a conference session. The session was titled “Designing a Media Relations Strategy to Overcome Concerns Surrounding Hydraulic Fracturing.”

“Really all they do is spend most of their time helping folks develop local ordinances and things like that,” he continued. “But very much having that understanding of psyops in the Army and the Middle East has applied very helpfully here for us in Pennsylvania.”

Matt Carmichael, manager of external affairs for Anadarko Petroleum, which has nearly 300,000 acres of Marcellus Shale gas holdings under lease in Central Pennsylvania, gave a speech urging industry media spokesmen to read a military counterinsurgency manual for tips in dealing with opponents to shale gas development.

“Download the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, because we are dealing with an insurgency,” Mr. Carmichael said in a session titled “Understanding How Unconventional Oil & Gas Operators are Developing a Comprehensive Media Relations Strategy to Engage Stakeholders and Educate the Public.”

“There’s a lot of good lessons in there,” he said, “and coming from a military background, I found the insight extremely remarkable.”

The remarks of both Mr. Pitzarella and Mr. Carmichael were recorded at the conference by Sharon Wilson, an activist and member of the Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project, a national environmental nonprofit focused on the impacts of mineral and energy development.

She said the term “insurgent” shows what the industry thinks about the communities where it is drilling.

“What’s clear to me is that they are having to use some very extreme measures in our neighborhoods. And it seems like they view it as an occupation,” Ms. Wilson said.

Psychological operations is a term used in the military and intelligence agencies and involves use of selective communications and sometimes misinformation and deception to manipulate public perception. According to a U.S. Army careers website, psyops specialists “assess the information needs of a target population and develop and deliver the right message at the right time and place to create the intended result.”

Environmental groups and residents of communities where Marcellus drilling has been controversial and sometimes contentious were quick to seize on the comments. They said they reflected the industry’s battlefield mentality and disinformation strategy when dealing with communities and individuals.

“This is the level of disdain, deception and belligerence that we are dealing with,” said Arthur Clark, an Oil & Gas Committee co-chair and member of the executive committee of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Sierra Club.

“On tape and in print, for once, an industry literally at war with local residents, even labeling them ‘insurgents.’ I don’t recall seeing anyone toting an AK-47 at any of the public meetings or rallies regarding frack gas development.”

“It sounds like the gas companies are utilizing military ‘psyops’ in gas patch communities,” said Bill Walker, a spokesman for Earthworks.

Mr. Carmichael did not return calls requesting comment, but John Christiansen, director of external communications for Anadarko, issued a statement, addressing Mr. Carmichael’s use of the term insurgency.

“The reference was not reflective of our core values. Our community efforts are based upon open communication, active engagement and transparency, which are all essential in building fact-based knowledge and earning public trust.”

Mr. Pitzarella explained his remarks by saying the industry employs large numbers of veterans, including an attorney with a psyops background who “spent time in the Middle East,” with temperaments “well suited” to handling the sometimes “emotional situations” at community meetings the company holds to explain its well drilling and fracking operations.

“To suggest that the two comments made at unrelated [conference sessions] are a strategy is dishonest,” Mr. Pitzarella said. “[Range has] been transparent and accountable, and that’s not something we would do if we were trying to mislead people.”

But despite repeated questions, Mr. Pitzarella would not name the Range attorney with a psyops background. The company does employ James Cannon, whose LinkIn page lists him as a “public affairs specialist” for Range and a member of the U.S. Army’s “303 Psyop Co.,” a reserve unit in Pittsburgh.

Mr. Cannon could not be reached for comment.

Dencil Backus of Mount Pleasant, a California University of Pennsylvania communications professor who teaches public relations, once had Mr. Pitzarella in his class. Mr. Backus said it’s “obvious we have all been targeted” with a communications strategy that employs misinformation and intimidation, and includes homespun radio and television ads touting “My drilling company? Range Resources”; community “informational” meetings that emphasize the positive and ignore potential problems caused by drilling and fracking; and recent lawsuits, threats of lawsuits and commercial boycotts.

“There’s just been a number of ways in which they’ve sought to intimidate us,” said Mr. Backus, who has been a coordinator of a citizens committee that advised Mount Pleasant on a proposed Marcellus ordinance. “It’s one of the most unethical things I have ever seen.”

Don Hopey: or 412-263-1983

The filmmaker: A push to broaden the reach of ‘ski porn’ (The Daily Climate)


Nov. 7, 2011

David Mossop and Sherpas Cinemas are transforming ski flicks, turning the usual plot-less, context-less jumble of skiing images into a message about environmental destruction, mass consumption and climate change.

Interview conducted and condensed by Rae Tyson

The Daily Climate

A critically acclaimed film combining action, free-style skiing and a climate impact message debuted this fall. Representing the leading edge of a new wave of ski films, All.I.Can juxtaposes “ski-porn” – plot-less montages of expert skiers flying down and off impossibly steep mountainsides – against images of environmental destruction and mass consumption. Reviewers say the movie, available on DVD and to be released on iTunes on Nov. 14, could change the genre permanently.

With enough creativity, ski films have the capacity to address almost any topic. – David Mossop

British Columbia cinematographers Eric Crossland and Dave Mossop filmed the movie in Chile, Canada, Morocco, Greenland and Alaska. ESPN’s Jamey Voss calls it “the best movie in skiing.” Dave Mossop has been doing ski films and photography for years. This is his first attempt at a film with a strong social message.

Your film company, Sherpas Cinema, has said “the time has come for a ski film that stands for something.” Explain the inspiration for All.I.Can.

The classic ski-porn formula works brilliantly and will always have its place. But skiing is about so much more than just porn. The mountains bring us every emotion in the book. With enough creativity, ski films have the capacity to address almost any topic.

All.I.Can. Official Teaser from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.

Has this film altered your view about your ability to affect change? 

This project has really opened my eyes to what is possible, and now it almost feels like our duty to see how far that envelope can be pushed.

What convinced you to focus on climate change?

The root of All.I.Can is the relationship between mountain people and nature. Skiers are more reliant on weather and climate than almost any other subculture. A well-crafted film has the potential to act as a trigger: If mountain culture doesn’t stand up, who will?

You traveled around the world to shoot this film. Did you see evidence of the impact of climate change in any of the locations you visited?

A big part of the climate problem is that it is too slow for us humans to perceive. But, at almost every location we went, we would hear stories from the elders indicating a warming trend.

Such as?

The Inuit of Greenland talked about the more challenging hunting conditions due to ice breakup. Bud Stoll and Mary Woodward, two of the older skiers in our film, reminisced about the deep winters the Kootenays when they were youngsters. The Chilean gauchos and Moroccan porters recalled stories of colder snowier winters.

Unchecked, do you believe that climate change might impact skiing – and other winter sports?

I know as little about climate change as everyone else. But it isn’t hard to sense that the human race is running an unsustainable program.

The reviews so far have been impressive. ESPN, for example, called All.I.Can “a wake-up call in many ways.”

We are totally overwhelmed by the response. The world was ready for this kind of cinematic discussion and the idea is striking a chord with skiers and non-skiers alike.

Mossop-volcanoSome question the carbon neutrality of this project. You flew all over the globe and used fuel-guzzling helicopters. How would you respond to that?

We feel that the extra resources used in the film production are far overshadowed by the potential energy of All.I.Can. A truly beautiful film can inspire the whole world and influence countless human decisions in the future.

How did you offset the impact?

We worked with Native Energy to offset the project using carbon credits. They use the money to either counter our carbon emissions directly or invest in future innovations that build toward a sustainable future.

Any plans for future projects with an environmental theme?

I expect an environmental theme will become an undertone in all our future projects, but currently we have no locked plans.

Photos courtesy Sherpas Cinema.

Rae Tyson pioneered the environmental beat at USA Today in the 1980s and today restores and races vintage motorcycles in central Pennsylvania. Climate Query is a semi-weekly feature offered by, a nonprofit news service that covers climate change.

World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, IEA warns (The Guardian)

If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will ‘lose for ever’ the chance to avoid dangerous climate change

Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent, Wednesday 9 November 2011 10.01 GMT
Pollution due to carbon emissions due to rise says IEA : Coal burning power plant, Kentucky, USA

Any fossil fuel infrastructure built in the next five years will cause irreversible climate change, according to the IEA. Photograph: Rex Features

The world is likely to build so many fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change will be “lost for ever”, according to the most thorough analysis yet of world energy infrastructure.

Anything built from now on that produces carbon will do so for decades, and this “lock-in” effect will be the single factor most likely to produce irreversible climate change, the world’s foremost authority on energy economics has found. If this is not rapidly changed within the next five years, the results are likely to be disastrous.

“The door is closing,” Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, said. “I am very worried – if we don’t change direction now on how we use energy, we will end up beyond what scientists tell us is the minimum [for safety]. The door will be closed forever.”

If the world is to stay below 2C of warming, which scientists regard as the limit of safety, then emissions must be held to no more than 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; the level is currently around 390ppm. But the world’s existing infrastructure is already producing 80% of that “carbon budget”, according to the IEA’s analysis, published on Wednesday. This gives an ever-narrowing gap in which to reform the global economy on to a low-carbon footing.

If current trends continue, and we go on building high-carbon energy generation, then by 2015 at least 90% of the available “carbon budget” will be swallowed up by our energy and industrial infrastructure. By 2017, there will be no room for manoeuvre at all – the whole of the carbon budget will be spoken for, according to the IEA’s calculations.

Birol’s warning comes at a crucial moment in international negotiations on climate change, as governments gear up for the next fortnight of talks in Durban, South Africa, from late November. “If we do not have an international agreement, whose effect is put in place by 2017, then the door to [holding temperatures to 2C of warming] will be closed forever,” said Birol.

But world governments are preparing to postpone a speedy conclusion to the negotiations again. Originally, the aim was to agree a successor to the 1997 Kyoto protocol, the only binding international agreement on emissions, after its current provisions expire in 2012. But after years of setbacks, an increasing number of countries – including the UK, Japan and Russia – now favour postponing the talks for several years.

Both Russia and Japan have spoken in recent weeks of aiming for an agreement in 2018 or 2020, and the UK has supported this move. Greg Barker, the UK’s climate change minister, told a meeting: “We need China, the US especially, the rest of the Basic countries [Brazil, South Africa, India and China] to agree. If we can get this by 2015 we could have an agreement ready to click in by 2020.” Birol said this would clearly be too late. “I think it’s very important to have a sense of urgency – our analysis shows [what happens] if you do not change investment patterns, which can only happen as a result of an international agreement.”

Nor is this a problem of the developing world, as some commentators have sought to frame it. In the UK, Europe and the US, there are multiple plans for new fossil-fuelled power stations that would contribute significantly to global emissions over the coming decades.

The Guardian revealed in May an IEA analysis that found emissions had risen by a record amount in 2010, despite the worst recession for 80 years. Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, a rise of 1.6Gt on the previous year. At the time, Birol told the Guardian that constraining global warming to moderate levels would be “only a nice utopia” unless drastic action was taken.

The new research adds to that finding, by showing in detail how current choices on building new energy and industrial infrastructure are likely to commit the world to much higher emissions for the next few decades, blowing apart hopes of containing the problem to manageable levels. The IEA’s data is regarded as the gold standard in emissions and energy, and is widely regarded as one of the most conservative in outlook – making the warning all the more stark. The central problem is that most industrial infrastructure currently in existence – the fossil-fuelled power stations, the emissions-spewing factories, the inefficient transport and buildings – is already contributing to the high level of emissions, and will do so for decades. Carbon dioxide, once released,stays in the atmosphere and continues to have a warming effect for about a century, and industrial infrastructure is built to have a useful life of several decades.

Yet, despite intensifying warnings from scientists over the past two decades, the new infrastructure even now being built is constructed along the same lines as the old, which means that there is a “lock-in” effect – high-carbon infrastructure built today or in the next five years will contribute as much to the stock of emissions in the atmosphere as previous generations.

The “lock-in” effect is the single most important factor increasing the danger of runaway climate change, according to the IEA in its annual World Energy Outlook, published on Wednesday.

Climate scientists estimate that global warming of 2C above pre-industrial levels marks the limit of safety, beyond which climate change becomes catastrophic and irreversible. Though such estimates are necessarily imprecise, warming of as little as 1.5C could cause dangerous rises in sea levels and a higher risk of extreme weather – the limit of 2C is now inscribed in international accords, including the partial agreement signed at Copenhagen in 2009, by which the biggest developed and developing countries for the first time agreed to curb their greenhouse gas output.

Another factor likely to increase emissions is the decision by some governments to abandon nuclear energy, following the Fukushima disaster. “The shift away from nuclear worsens the situation,” said Birol. If countries turn away from nuclear energy, the result could be an increase in emissions equivalent to the current emissions of Germany and France combined. Much more investment in renewable energy will be required to make up the gap, but how that would come about is unclear at present.

Birol also warned that China – the world’s biggest emitter – would have to take on a much greater role in combating climate change. For years, Chinese officials have argued that the country’s emissions per capita were much lower than those of developed countries, it was not required to take such stringent action on emissions. But the IEA’s analysis found that within about four years, China’s per capita emissions were likely to exceed those of the EU.

In addition, by 2035 at the latest, China’s cumulative emissions since 1900 are likely to exceed those of the EU, which will further weaken Beijing’s argument that developed countries should take on more of the burden of emissions reduction as they carry more of the responsibility for past emissions.

In a recent interview with the Guardian recently, China’s top climate change official, Xie Zhenhua, called on developing countries to take a greater part in the talks, while insisting that developed countries must sign up to a continuation of the Kyoto protocol – something only the European Union is willing to do. His words were greeted cautiously by other participants in the talks.

Continuing its gloomy outlook, the IEA report said: “There are few signs that the urgently needed change in direction in global energy trends is under way. Although the recovery in the world economy since 2009 has been uneven, and future economic prospects remain uncertain, global primary energy demand rebounded by a remarkable 5% in 2010, pushing CO2 emissions to a new high. Subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption of fossil fuels jumped to over $400bn (£250.7bn).”

Meanwhile, an “unacceptably high” number of people – about 1.3bn – still lack access to electricity. If people are to be lifted out of poverty, this must be solved – but providing people with renewable forms of energy generation is still expensive.

Charlie Kronick of Greenpeace said: “The decisions being made by politicians today risk passing a monumental carbon debt to the next generation, one for which they will pay a very heavy price. What’s seriously lacking is a global plan and the political leverage to enact it. Governments have a chance to begin to turn this around when they meet in Durban later this month for the next round of global climate talks.”

One close observer of the climate talks said the $400bn subsidies devoted to fossil fuels, uncovered by the IEA, were “staggering”, and the way in which these subsidies distort the market presented a massive problem in encouraging the move to renewables. He added that Birol’s comments, though urgent and timely, were unlikely to galvanise China and the US – the world’s two biggest emittters – into action on the international stage.

“The US can’t move (owing to Republican opposition) and there’s no upside for China domestically in doing so. At least China is moving up the learning curve with its deployment of renewables, but it’s doing so in parallel to the hugely damaging coal-fired assets that it is unlikely to ever want (to turn off in order to) to meet climate targets in years to come.”

Energy demand

Energy demand Source: IEAChristiana Figueres, the UN climate chief, said the findings underlined the urgency of the climate problem, but stressed the progress made in recent years. “This is not the scenario we wanted,” she said. “But making an agreement is not easy. What we are looking at is not an international environment agreement — what we are looking at is nothing other than the biggest industrial and energy revolution that has ever been seen.”

Arjun Appadurai: A Nation of Business Junkies (Anthropology News)

Guest Columnist
Arjun Appadurai

By Anthropology News on November 3, 2011

I first came to this country in 1967. I have been either a crypto-anthropologist or professional anthropologist for most of that time. Still, because I came here with an interest in India and took the path of least resistance in choosing to maintain India as my principal ethnographic referent, I have always been reluctant to offer opinions about life in these United States. I have begun to do so recently, but mainly in occasional blogs, twitter posts and the like. Now seems to be a good time to ponder whether I have anything to offer to public debate about the media in this country. Since I have been teaching for a few years in a distinguished department of media studies, I feel emboldened to offer my thoughts in this new AN Forum.

My examination of changes in the media over the last few decades is not based on a scientific study. I read the New York Times every day, the Wall Street Journal occasionally, and I subscribe to The Atlantic, Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, the Economist, and a variety of academic journals in anthropology and area studies. I get a smattering of other useful media pieces from friends on Facebook and other social media sites. I also use the Internet to keep up with as much as I can from the press in and about India. At various times in the past, I have subscribed to The Nation, Money Magazine, Foreign Policy, the Times Literary supplement and a few other periodicals.

I have long been interested in how culture and economy interact. Today, I want to make an observation about the single biggest change I have seen over my four decades in the United States, which is a growing and now hegemonic domination of the news and of a great deal of opinion, both in print and on television, by business news. Business news was a specialized affair in the late 1960’s, confined to a few magazines such as Money and Fortune, and to newspapers and TV reporters (not channels). Now, it is hard to find anything but business as the topic of news in all media. Consider television: if you spend even three hours surfing between CNN and BBC on any given day ( surfing for news about Libya or about soccer, for example) you will find yourself regularly assaulted by business news, not just from London, New York and Washington, but from Singapore, Hong Kong, Mumbai and many other places. Look at the serious talk shows and chances are that you will find a talking CEO, describing what’s good about his company, what’s bad about the government and how to read his company’s stock prices. Channels like MSNBC are a form of endless, mind-numbing Jerry Lewis telethon about the economy, with more than a hint of the desperation of the Depression era movie “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?”, as they bid the viewer to make insane bets and to mourn the fallen heroes of failed companies and fired CEO’s.

Turn to the newspapers and things get worse. Any reader of the New York Times will find it hard to get away from the business machine. Start with the lead section, and stories about Obama’s economic plans, mad Republican proposals about taxes, the Euro-crisis and the latest bank scandal will assault you. Some relief is provided by more corporate news: the exit of Steve Jobs, the Op-Ed piece about the responsibilities of the super-rich by Warren Buffet, Donald Trump advertising his new line of housewares to go along with his ugly homes and buildings. Turn to the sports section: it is littered with talk of franchises, salaries, trades, owner antics, stadium projects and more. I need hardly say anything about the section on “Business” itself, which has now virtually become redundant. And if you are still thirsty for more business news, check out the “Home”, “Lifestyle” and Real Estate sections for news on houses you can’t afford and mortgage financing gimmicks you have never heard off. Some measure of relief is to be in the occasional “Science Times” and in the NYT Book Review, which do have some pieces which are not primarily about profit, corporate politics or the recession.

The New York Times is not to blame for this. They are the newspaper of “record’ and that means that they reflect broader trends and cannot be blamed for their compliance with bigger trends. Go through the magazines when you take a flight to Detroit or Mumbai and there is again a feast of news geared to the “business traveler”. This is when I catch up on how to negotiate the best deal, why this is the time to buy gold and what software and hardware to use when I make my next presentation to General Electric. These examples could be multiplied in any number of bookstores, newspaper kiosks, airport lounges, park benches and dentist’s offices.

What does all this reflect? Well, we were always told that the business of America is business. But now we are gradually moving into a society in which the business of American life is also business. Who are we now? We have become (in our fantasies) entrepreneurs, start-up heroes, small investors, consumers, home-owners, day-traders, and a gallery of supporting business types, and no longer fathers, mothers, friends or neighbors. Our very citizenship is now defined by business, whether we are winners or losers. Everyone is an expert on pensions, stocks, retirement packages, vacation deals, credit- card scams and more. Meanwhile, as Paul Krugman has argued in a brilliant recent speech to some of his fellow economists, this discipline, especially macro-economics, has lost all its capacities to analyze, define or repair the huge mess we are in.

The gradual transformation of the imagined reader or viewer into a business junkie is a relatively new disease of advanced capitalism in the United States. The avalanche of business knowledge and information dropping on the American middle-classes ought to have helped us predict – or avoid – the recent economic meltdown, based on crazy credit devices, vulgar scams and lousy regulation. Instead it has made us business junkies, ready to be led like sheep to our own slaughter by Wall Street, the big banks and corrupt politicians. The growing hegemony of business news and knowledge in the popular media over the last few decades has produced a collective silence of the lambs. It is time for a bleat or two.

Dr. Arjun Appadurai is a prominent contemporary social-cultural anthropologist, having formerly served as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at The New School in NYC. He has held various professorial chairs and visiting appointments at some of top institutions in the United States and Europe. In addition, he has served on several scholarly and advisory bodies in the United States, Latin America, Europe and India. Dr. Appadurai is a prolific writer having authored numerous books and scholarly articles. The nature and significance of his contributions throughout his academic career have earned him the reputation as a leading figure in his field. He is the author of The Future as a Cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition (Verso: forthcoming 2012).

Ken Routon is the contributing editor of Media Notes. He is a visiting professor of cultural anthropology at the University of New Orleans and the author of Hidden Powers of the State in the Cuban Imagination (University Press of Florida, 2010).

Where Did Global Warming Go? (N.Y. Times)

Published: October 15, 2011

Mark Pernice and Scott Altmann

IN 2008, both the Democratic and Republican candidates for president, Barack Obama and John McCain, warned about man-made global warming and supported legislation to curb emissions. After he was elected, President Obama promised “a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change,” and arrived cavalry-like at the 2009 United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen to broker a global pact.

But two years later, now that nearly every other nation accepts climate change as a pressing problem, America has turned agnostic on the issue.

In the crowded Republican presidential field, most seem to agree with Gov. Rick Perry of Texas that “the science is not settled” on man-made global warming, as he said in a debate last month. Alone among Republicans onstage that night, Jon M. Huntsman Jr. said that he trusted scientists’ view that the problem was real. At the moment, he has the backing of about 2 percent of likely Republican voters.

Though the evidence of climate change has, if anything, solidified, Mr. Obama now talks about “green jobs” mostly as a strategy for improving the economy, not the planet. He did not mention climate in his last State of the Union address. Meanwhile, the administration is fighting to exempt United States airlines from Europe’s new plan to charge them for CO2 emissions when they land on the continent. It also seems poised to approve a nearly 2,000-mile-long pipeline, from Canada down through the United States, that will carry a kind of oil. Extracting it will put relatively high levels of emissions into the atmosphere.

“In Washington, ‘climate change’ has become a lightning rod, it’s a four-letter word,” said Andrew J. Hoffman, director of the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute for Sustainable Development.

Across the nation, too, belief in man-made global warming, and passion about doing something to arrest climate change, is not what it was five years or so ago, when Al Gore’s movie had buzz and Elizabeth Kolbert’s book about climate change, “Field Notes From a Catastrophe,” was a best seller. The number of Americans who believe the earth is warming dropped to 59 percent last year from 79 percent in 2006, according to polling by the Pew Research Group. When the British polling firm Ipsos Mori asked Americans this past summer to list their three most pressing environmental worries, “global warming/climate change” garnered only 27 percent, behind even “overpopulation.”

This fading of global warming from the political agenda is a mostly American phenomenon. True, public enthusiasm for legislation to tackle climate change has flagged somewhat throughout the developed world since the recession of 2008. Nonetheless, in many other countries, legislation to control emissions has rolled out apace. Just last Wednesday, Australia’s House of Representatives passed a carbon tax, which is expected to easily clear the country’s Senate. Europe’s six-year-old carbon emissions trading system continues its yearly expansion. In 2010, India passed a carbon tax on coal. Even China’s newest five-year plan contains a limited pilot cap-and-trade system, under which polluters pay for excess pollution.

The United States is the “one significant outlier” on responding to climate change, according to a recent global research report produced by HSBC, the London-based bank. John Ashton, Britain’s special representative for climate change, said in an interview that “in the U.K., in Europe, in most places I travel to” — but not in the United States — “the starting point for conversation is that this is real, there are clear and present dangers, so let’s get a move on and respond.” After watching the Republican candidates express skepticism about global warming in early September, former President Bill Clinton put it more bluntly, “I mean, it makes us — we look like a joke, right?”

Americans — who produce twice the emissions per capita that Europeans do — are in many ways wired to be holdouts. We prefer bigger cars and bigger homes. We value personal freedom, are suspicious of scientists, and tend to distrust the kind of sweeping government intervention required to confront rising greenhouse gas emissions.

“Climate change presents numerous ideological challenges to our culture and our beliefs,” Professor Hoffman of the Erb Institute says. “People say, ‘Wait a second, this is really going to affect how we live!’ ”

There are, of course, other factors that hardened resistance: America’s powerful fossil-fuel industry, whose profits are bound to be affected by any greater control of carbon emissions; a cold American winter in 2010 that made global warming seem less imminent; and a deep recession that made taxes on energy harder to talk about, and job creation a more pressing issue than the environment — as can be seen in the debate over the pipeline from Canada.

But it is also true that Europe has endured a deep recession and has had mild winters. What’s more, some of the loudest climate deniers are English. Yet the European Union is largely on target to meet its goal of reducing emissions by at least 20 percent over 1990 levels by 2020.

Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s commissioner on climate action, told me recently: “Look, it was not a piece of cake here either.”

In fact, many countries in Europe have come to see combating climate change and the move to a “greener” economy as about “opportunities rather than costs,” Mr. Ashton said. In Britain, the low-carbon manufacturing sector has been one of the few to grow through the economic slump.

“One thing I’ve been pleasantly surprised about in the E.U. is that despite the economic and financial crisis, the momentum on climate change has more or less continued,” Mr. Ashton said.

And Conservatives, rather than posing an obstacle, are directing aggressive climate policies in much of the world. Before becoming the European Union’s commissioner for climate action, Ms. Hedegaard was a well-known Conservative politician in her native Denmark. In Britain, where a 2008 law required deep cuts in emissions, a coalition Conservative government is now championing a Green Deal.

In the United States, the right wing of the Republican Party has managed to turn skepticism about man-made global warming into a requirement for electability, forming an unlikely triad with antiabortion and gun-rights beliefs. In findings from a Pew poll this spring, 75 percent of staunch conservatives, 63 percent of libertarians and 55 percent of Main Street Republicans said there was no solid evidence of global warming.

“This has become a partisan political issue here in a way it has not elsewhere,” said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center. “We are seeing doubts in the U.S. largely because the issue has become a partisan one, with Democrats” — 75 percent of whom say they believe there is strong evidence of climate change — “seeing one thing and Republicans another.”

Europeans understand the challenges in the United States, though they sound increasingly impatient. “We are very much aware of the political situation in the United States and we don’t say ‘do this,’ when we know it can’t get through Congress,” said Ms. Hedegaard, when she was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly last month. But she added:

“O.K. if you can’t commit today, when can you? When are you willing to join in? Australia is making a cap-and-trade system. South Korea is introducing one. New Zealand and the E.U. have it already. So when is the time? That’s the question for the U.S.”

MEANWHILE, in the developing world, emerging economies like India and China are now pursuing aggressive climate policies. “Two years ago the assumption was that the developed world would have to lead, but now China, India and Brazil have jumped in with enthusiasm, and are moving ahead,” said Nick Robins of HSBC Global Research.

Buffeted by two years of treacherous weather that they are less able to handle than richer nations — from floods in India to water shortages in China — developing countries are feeling vulnerable. Scientists agree that extreme weather events will be more severe and frequent on a warming planet, and insurance companies have already documented an increase.

So perhaps it is no surprise that regard for climate change as “a very serious problem” has risen significantly in many developing nations over the past two years. A 2010 Pew survey showed that more than 70 percent of people in China, India and South Korea were willing to pay more for energy in order to address climate change. The number in the United States was 38 percent. China’s 12th five-year plan, for 2011-2015, directs intensive investment to low carbon industries. In contrast, in the United States, there is “no prospect of moving ahead” at a national legislative level, Mr. Robins said, although some state governments are addressing the issue.

In private, scientific advisers to Mr. Obama say he and his administration remain committed to confronting climate change and global warming. But Robert E. O’Connor, program director for decision, risk and management sciences at the National Science Foundation in Washington, said a bolder leader would emphasize real risks that, apparently, now feel distant to many Americans. “If it’s such an important issue, why isn’t he talking about it?”

Elisabeth Rosenthal is a reporter and blogger on environmental issues for The New York Times.

Why Culture Matters in the Climate Debate (The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media)

Keith Kloor, October 25, 2011

A new paper argues that climate educators and communicators are ignoring deeply held beliefs that influence climate skepticism.

It is the great riddle of the day in climate circles: Why is public concern about global warming so shallow, and why do widespread doubts about man-made climate change persist?

Everyone seems to have a pet theory. Al Gore blames the media and President Obama. Some green critics argue that Gore should look in the mirror. Let’s not ignore the recession, scholars remind us. Yes, but the lion’s share of blame must go to those “merchants of doubt”, particularly fossil fuel interests, and climate skeptics, plenty others assert. Err, actually, it’s our brain that’s the biggest problem, social scientists now say.


Another reason, similar to that last one, is that cultural and religious beliefs predispose many to dismiss evidence that humans can greatly influence the climate. In fact, geographer Simon Donner in a paper published this week in Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, argues:

“Successful climate change education and outreach programs should be designed to help overcome perceived conflict between climate science and long-held cultural beliefs, drawing upon lessons from communication and education of other potentially divisive subjects like evolution.”

Donner is not the first to try to bridge the gap between science and religion. E.O. Wilson gamely attempted to do so several years ago, with his book, The Creation. In a 2006 interview with NPR, Wilson acknowledged that, “the usual approach of secular science is to marginalize religion” in debates on environmental issues. After the book’s publication, this writer facilitated a lengthy dialogue between Wilson, ecologist Stuart Pimm and leading evangelical Richard Cizik, on areas where science and religion could find common ground. Expanding on that public dialogue has proven difficult. If anything, the polarized political landscape and the continuing climate wars have narrowed the space for science and religion to be reconciled.

Still, those who want to overcome obstacles to climate action should be mindful of culture’s importance, Donner stresses in his paper. He writes that “lingering public uncertainty about anthropogenic climate change may be rooted in an important but largely unrecognized conflict between climate science and some long held beliefs. In many cultures, the weather and climate have historically been viewed as too vast and too grand to be directly influenced by people.”

Donner writes that scholars studying public attitudes on climate change should factor in such cultural worldviews when accounting for climate skepticism. He surmises: “Underlying doubts that human activity can influence the climate may explain some of the malleability of public opinion about the scientific evidence for climate change.”

Donner suggests that climate educators and communicators learn from approaches that have worked in the evolution debate. He informs us:

“Pedagogical research on evolution finds that providing the audience with opportunities to evaluate how their culture or beliefs affect their willingness to accept scientific evidence is more effective than attempting to separate scientific views from religious or cultural views.”

Moreover, Donner argues that “reforming public communication” on climate change “will require humility on the part of scientists and educators.” He concludes:

“Climate scientists, for whom any inherent doubts about the possible extent of human influence on the climate were overcome by years of training in physics and chemistry of the climate system, need to accept that there are rational cultural, religious and historical reasons that the public may fail to believe that anthropogenic climate change is real, let alone that it warrants a policy response. It is unreasonable to expect a lay audience, not armed with the same analytical tools as scientists, to develop lasting acceptance during a one-hour public seminar of a scientific conclusion that runs counters to thousands of years of human belief. Without addressing the common long-standing belief that human activity cannot directly influence the climate, public acceptance of climate change and public engagement on climate solutions will not persist through the next cold winter or the next economic meltdown.”

The intersection where science and religion meet is all too often home to an ugly collision. Donner advises that such crack-ups can and should be avoided in the climate debate.

Can it be done?

Keith Kloor is a New York City-based freelance journalist who writes often about the environment and climate change. (E-mail: