Taking Action on Climate Change

first_imgAlex is founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. and executive editor of Environmental Building News. In 2012 he founded the Resilient Design Institute. To keep up with Alex’s latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feed. Peak oil?I used to hope that the costs of extracting dwindling reserves of oil, gas, and coal would increase to the point that dramatic reductions in consumption would result. I read the articles about “peak oil” (the idea that once the peak in world oil production was reached there would be inexorable declines in production, accompanied by large increases in cost) and hoped that this could be the driver of significant reductions in fossil fuel use. RELATED ARTICLES Earth Day 2014 and Climate ChangeHalf of All Americans Worry About Climate ChangeGood News Bad News With Climate ChangeSeeking Common Ground on Climate Change PolicyScience, Climate Change, and Policy The Science of Global Warming Is Older Than Quantum MechanicsThe Connection Between Obesity and Climate Change Alas, even as production of conventional oil probably did peak a few years ago, advances in extraction of unconventional oil through hydraulic fracturing (fracking), deep-seabed drilling, and other technologies compensated for the reductions in easy-to-access oil, and cost increases were largely kept in check.Commodity pricing is tightly tied to supply and demand, though, and it’s still possible that we will see large increases in price drive conservation. But it’s also possible that costs will actually drop, making it very hard to turn our collective backs on the highly concentrated, carbon-rich fuels. Suddenly waking up to the reality of climate change?I have also long held out hope that science would be able to convince the public and policymakers that our current trajectory is leading us to catastrophe. The following metaphor helps explain where we are.Imagine that your doctor tells you that you have cancer. Not satisfied with that single opinion, you visit 100 doctors for their prognoses, and 98 of them tell you that even though your symptoms may not be that obvious, you have cancer and need to take immediate action to cure it. The other two doctors tell you that the little bump is nothing and you shouldn’t worry about it. Most of us would take action based on advice the 98 doctors and not the two with contradictory advice.That’s where we are with climate change science today. Ninety-eight percent of climate scientists are telling us that our emissions of greenhouse gases are leading us inexorably to a hotter climate, melting glaciers, sea level rise, more intense storms, and a host of other effects. But a lot of us — and especially our policy makers in Washington — are listening to that 2% of climate scientists who say “don’t worry about it; go on with business as usual.”Much of the blame for the societal doubt about climate change has to do with journalists — my own profession. In a presentation in Putney, Vermont, last week, outdoor writer Tom Clynes, who wrote a fascinating article on climate change deniers for Popular Science magazine two years ago, explained that journalists are trained to present good information on the topic at hand, but then find an opposing points of view to present a “balanced perspective.”Journalists do this in reporting on climate change, going back to the same climate-change deniers, such as the Heartland Institute, where well-funded “experts” offer the opposing view that climate change is a farce. This perpetuates the misimpression by the public that there still is a lot of doubt about the science of climate change.So, while I will continue trying to convince the public and policy makers that climate change is real and we need to do something about it, I am increasingly doubtful that we will take significant action as long as the effects are mostly future predictions and not in our faces.center_img A focus on resilienceI wish that we as a society were more willing to base decisions on science, and I hope that if it takes more compelling evidence to convince policy makers to finally take real action on climate change that those wake-up calls won’t be too tragic in their outcomes.As we wait to find out, I’m going to continue to focus on resilience as a driver of action. Next week I’ll remind readers that argument. Seeing and feeling climate changeThis brings me to the scenario that I think will most likely — finally — result in real action: a series of events that even the most skeptical climate-change denier cannot ignore. In the cancer analogy above, this would be the point at which the cancer metastasizes and multiple tumors appear on multiple organs in such a visible way that even those last two doctors who told you not to worry will now tell you that action is needed — though they might well say that it’s too late (sorry about that).So, what would those climate-change events look like? How obvious would they have to be to finally convince the naysayers and create public demand for real action?Will it be the next Hurricane Sandy, which this time hits New York and Boston with full Category-4 or Category-5 force and a commensurate storm surge? Will it be a drought in the West so severe that power plants have to shut down for lack of cooling water and the flow of food from California stops? Will it be three feet of sea level rise and an abandonment of Miami and New Orleans? In my previous blog I described the international effort to understand climate change. The United Nations’ IPCC is leading the charge, and efforts like the Kyoto Treaty have grown out of that background work. But are we getting closer to solving the problem?The vast majority of climate scientists are telling us that we’re careening headlong into the unknown world of a rapidly warming climate, and they offer policy recommendations for addressing that. Except for a few progressive countries that have taken to heart the need to slow carbon emissions — countries like Denmark, the United Kingdom, and Sweden — there is little sign that the rest of the world is even paying attention, let alone embarking on a path that will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.What will it take for the rest of the world to get on board?last_img read more

Felt bad that I was misunderstood: Vidya on protests against Modi disguise

first_imgA day after some BJP workers protested against actress Vidya Balan’s attempt to promote her forthcoming release “Bobby Jasoos” in a get up resembling Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Vadodara, the National Award-winner said here Saturday it was “unfortunate” and “felt bad” that her intention had been “misunderstood”.Bobby Jasoos to hit theatres July 4.The actress, who dons as many as 12 disguises in the detective film, had tried to sport a look that resembled Modi while promoting the film in the leader’s former constituency Thursday. However, irate BJP supporters allegedly stalled her idea of visiting the tea stall from where Modi started his journey.”I am not even aware of this statement (that the BJP are allegedly unhappy)… I don’t want to politicise the issue at all. I was there to promote a film and I play a jasoos (detective) who dons different disguises,” she told reporters here.Vidya clarified that the disguise was meant to be a tribute to Modi.”I just felt that I wanted to pay a tribute to our Prime Minister because Baroda is his city and his is an inspirational story.”I felt bad that my intention was misunderstood… I did not want to hurt anyone’s sentiments which is why I decided not to go ahead with it but really the idea was only to pay a tribute or pay a salaam… Bobby ka salaam or something like that… I don’t know why I got misunderstood yesterday… it was unfortunate,” she said.The detective comedy revolves around a female character who is a private detective. While Vidya plays the female lead, Ali Fazal plays the male lead. The film is directed by Samar Shaikh and is co-produced by actress Dia Mirza and her beau Sahil Sangha.advertisementThe film will hit theatres July 4.last_img read more

FIFA World Cup 2014: Will the Real Messi Stand Up?

first_imgAlexander Netherton: The writer is a freelance football journalist who has contributed for ESPN, Huffington Post and Bleacher Report, among othersLionel Messi is an enigma. Not because of what he says and does on the pitch, but because we don’t know what he says and does off it. England striker,Alexander Netherton: The writer is a freelance football journalist who has contributed for ESPN, Huffington Post and Bleacher Report, among othersLionel Messi is an enigma. Not because of what he says and does on the pitch, but because we don’t know what he says and does off it. England striker Wayne Rooney has given interviews describing the thought process of scoring a goal. Swedish powerhouse Zlatan Ibrahimovic tells us he is his own biggest fan. Portugal’s talisman Cristiano Ronaldo proves something similar. We are rarely in doubt over these players-they embrace the attention. The Argentine Messi plays as if he invented the game, with a talent that appears genetic, but he seems content to leave it at that: The best player since Diego Maradona.Maradona was Argentina’s last World Cup superstar, winning it in Mexico 1986. He is feted as a hero of the country, a product of its poorest communities. He is loved; Messi is not. Similar to Maradona in many ways-in his supernatural ability and balance-Messi is removed from Argentina, sentimentally and physically. If, however, he wins the World Cup this summer, that would surely change.Argentina themselves face a relatively simple start to the tournament, with a fortunate draw in their qualifying group. Pitted against Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nigeria in Group F, the squad has an abundance of attacking talent, with Sergio Aguero, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Angel di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain. However, it has a weak defence. Argentina can test the abilities of any of the defences at the World Cup, but Messi and his attacking teammates may not be able to do enough to prevent defeat. Sergio Romero, the goalkeeper, loaned to Monaco last season, rarely played for them, and defender Martin Demichelis is a figure of fun because of his propensity to look like a figure of fun. With the exception of Ezequiel Garay, the defence is lacking. They are still favourites to top their group, but it would be a surprise if their defence copes against the best sides.advertisementDespite this, after years of underperforming, and of a lack of talent in key positions, this might be the best chance of success that Argentina have had in some years-all of which puts immense pressure on Messi. Having moved to Barcelona aged 13-the club offered to pay for essential Human Growth Hormone treatment as he stopped growing as a child-Messi still has the accent of his hometown, Rosario. He retains an interest in Argentine cuisine, and has not culturally assimilated in Spain. He made his name in Spain, with La Liga and Champions League success, but is not thought of as Catalan or Spanish. Similarly, in Argentina, he is regarded as something of an ‘other’. Lionel MessiHis footballing identity is clear, and this may be why he stands apart from his national teammates. Schooled at La Masia, the famous training ground at Barcelona where players are indoctrinated with the side’s approach of short passes and technical excellence, he is entirely a Barcelona player. It was here that the man who oversaw Messi’s greatest period of success, Pep Guardiola, established himself as one of the most impressive modern coaches. When he took over the first team, he won both the Champions League and La Liga in his first season. Plenty more followed. His blueprint was to use a core of players schooled at La Masia who followed the idea of tiki taka-retaining the ball with relentless short passes, one of the most mentally exhausting approaches to use, and physically exhausting to face. They were Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Pedro Rodreguez and Sergio Busquets, besides Messi.All excellent players, but indisputably the greatest was Messi. He scored goals of all kinds, goals of rare beauty that, with his consistently excellent form, he made common. Spain took these Barca players and used their modus operandi of constant possession to win the World Cup and consecutive European Championships.Not Quite Argentine Enough?In Argentina it is different. Argentina play their own way: More direct and less sophisticated. It’s a style that other players might be more accustomed to, but Messi is less effective when he is not with those who play the game at its peak. At Barcelona, as he broke into the first team, he was brought under the wing of the Brazilian aesthetes who recognised just how special he was. At Argentina, there has been no concerted effort to bring him into the fold, nor is there any indication that he seems to want to be part of the family. There is really only one example of emotion for the national team, when he was sent off on his debut and burst into tears-but that could simply be personal disappointment rather than patriotism.advertisementMessi (left) takes a free kick for Barcelona against Atletico Madrid during their 2014 Champions League quarter-final first leg match at camp nouIt is also different because of the 365 goals he has scored for Barcelona, a majority of them having been imbued with a meaning, coming in seasons that ended in success. For Argentina, he has scored 37 in 83 games, but all of them are simply goals that didn’t win a trophy. Some might point out that he won the Olympics in 2008, but it is not seen with any affection by players or fans. Simply put, until he wins something for Argentina, he will not mean anything to Argentina. In his hometown even, there is little evidence they are proud to have produced him, perhaps because there is a feeling that with his experience at Barcelona, he is not really theirs anymore.Argentina treats other players with the reverence Messi is not afforded. The nation focuses on players who play a position that is a national tradition: The enganche or hook. Through this position, the enganche is the playmaker who starts the attacks, and if he performs as he should, appears languid, sophisticated and elegant. He will not need a burst of pace, and he will not score countless goals. The most recent players of this kind are Juan Roman Riquelme, who left Barcelona before Messi established himself and was a relative failure there, and Juan Sebastian Veron, who retired this season with Estudiantes, finally and for the second time, at the club where he had started his career.These two players were divisive figures in a way that Messi is not. Everybody knows that Messi is the best player Argentina has, and its best since Maradona. Yet, there is nobody to passionately take up the cause of Messi because there is nobody who could rationally take up the case against him. He has been consistently the best player in Europe in recent years, and therefore the best in the world. Riquelme and Veron, however, are anachronistic characters on the field. They played the game at a tempo slow enough to be outmoded, so there is a romance to using the position, even as the rest of the world tried to leave them behind, only to be brought to its knees by occasionally devastating passes and beauty. The fleeting nature of their genius is somehow more romantic than Messi’s ability to be brilliant in almost every match. They are inherently Argentine in the way they play, Messi is inherently Messi.Messi is the product of modern football teamed with a genius that allows him at once to define it and at the same time rise above it. He is a recipient of modern medical science. While his use of Human Growth Hormone is unusual, it is part of a newly technological treatment of injuries and development of fitness that has created superhuman footballers. Players now can feature in up to 70 games a season, at full throttle. They can recover from serious knee injuries in six months that as recently as the 1990s would have ended careers. They run at incredible speeds, staying upright while being buffeted by other players. Messi, famous for his balance and indeed a rare reticence to fall under such challenges, is the best example of this strength, except perhaps for his rival, Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo’s presence and brashness highlights what Messi is not. It is through the Portuguese player that we often try to understand Messi, noting the differences.advertisementOther ‘Best Players In The World’Ronaldo, the other Best Player In The World Today, is vain. He strips to the waist upon scoring a goal in the Champions League final to make sure the cameras get his best feature. There were endless rumours that he was desperate to overhaul Messi as the best. Ronaldo doesn’t want to be the best he can be, as much as he wants to be better than everyone else. Because of his own quiet approach in comparison, Messi often appeared humble and modest. Recent contract negotiations that made him the best paid player in the world, and also charges of tax evasion, hint that this could be merely a superficial assumption.Messi with Barcelona team mates Xavi (Centre) and Iniesta (left)Another player comparison also contrasts with Messi, and shows why he is not adored at home yet. His new Barcelona teammate, Neymar, is just 22, and has a close relationship with Brazil. He stayed in Brazil for his formative years, so the national hype started at a young age. Success in the domestic league drew interest from across the country on a weekly basis, and the lower quality of play in Brazil made Neymar’s talents look even better by contrast. Neymar’s embrace of a jaunty image of extravagant haircuts and commercial prominence raised his profile in Brazil unmatched by Messi’s in Argentina. Messi is not known for his nightlife, but Neymar is seen having fun. In some ways, Argentina can’t fall in love with Messi because he gives them nothing to fall in love with.After a disappointing season, the World Cup is Messi’s last chance before he gets back on the treadmill for Barcelona. This year, he scored 41 goals, his lowest haul since 2008-9. A World Cup would take away this pain, but it would mean more than that. A World Cup win would mean that he would have an identity in his home country. It would mean finally moving on from the period of Barcelona dominance defined by Guardiola, who left in 2012. It would possibly even remove any doubt in the discussion between who really is best, Ronaldo or Messi. But as to what it would actually mean to him, rather than to all of us who speculate, it’s almost impossible to say.The writer is a freelance football journalist who has contributed for ESPN, Huffington Post and Bleacher Report, among others. To read more, get your copy of India Today here.last_img read more

Abhinav Bindra wins individual bronze, bids adieu to Asian Games

first_imgAbhinav BindraAbhinav Bindra on Tuesday bid adieu to Asian Games by clinching the individual bronze medal in men’s 10m air rifle event.Before winning the individual bronze, Bindra teamed up with Sanjeev Rajput and Ravi Kumar to finish third on the podium, helping India swell their medals tally to eight in the 17th edition of the mega-event.He finished third in 10m air rifle men’s finals behind China’s Haoran Yang and Yifei Cao to bag the bronze. Bindra aggregated 187.1 points while his Chinese opponents, 18-year-old Haoran won gold with 209.6 points and Yifei bagged silver with 208.9.Bindra had on Monday created a flutter by stating that Tuesday’s event would be his last in professional shooting.Bindra led the field till the first twelve shots before slipping to the fifth place and was saved from being ousted after a poor performance by Pourya Norouziyan of Iran and his scores of 10.5, 10.6 and 10.7.Earlier, the Beijing Olympic gold medallist fired India to the men’s team bronze in the 10m air rifle event while booking his berth in the eight-man finals with the fifth-best score in the qualifications.The Indian team that comprised of Bindra, Kumar and Rajput tallied 1863 to finish third behind gold medal winners – China 1886.4 and South Korea (silver) at 1867.6.Bindra tallied 625.4 points while Ravi Kumar contributed 618.9. Another veteran Rajput scored 618.7.Bindra was shooting brilliantly after a modest beginning but for his two poor shots of 9.1 on the 55th and 9.7 on the 60th, he could only finish 5th in the qualification as fourth-placed Korean Kim Sengdo fared only marginally better at 626.1.advertisementBindra’s sequences after each set of 10 shots were: 102.6, 105.3, 104.5, 104.1, 105.7 ? during which period he was looking at peak form but for the sudden misfiring on the 55th shot? and 103.2.This was the fifth medal fetched from the Ongnyeon range by the shooters in these Games, comprising one gold and four bronze, men’s pistol shooter Jitu Rai’s title win being the standout performance.The top three scores were notched up by Chinese shooters led by Cao Yifel (630.7), a new Games record.In the individual list, Ravi Kumar finished 20th and Rajput stood one rung below to be eliminated.Bindra, who was just outside the top eight after the first series, got into his groove later and after the fourth set of 10 shots, took a break to have a chat with rifle coach Stanislav Lapidus for a brief. He shot 10.9 on the 40th shot.He immediately came up with successive scores of 10.6, 10.7, 10.6 and 10.3 and was going great guns till a 9.1 spoilt his efforts.But he took a deep breath, got his thoughts together and shot 10.1 on the 56th before coming up with successive high scores of 10.9 and 10.8, which were followed by 10.5 and 9.7 on his last shot.last_img read more

Womens Volleyball Ohio State falls 30 to No 5 Minnesota

Ohio State’s women’s volleyball starting lineup stands together prior to the game against No. 5 Minnesota on Oct. 18. Credit: Rebecca Farage | Lantern ReporterThe Ohio State women’s volleyball team (11-9, 4-5 Big Ten) suffered a 3-0 loss to No. 5 Minnesota (18-2, 7-2 Big Ten) Wednesday night at St. John Arena.Although each team had nine blocks, 16 errors and 124 attacks, it was Minnesota who came out on top, buoyed by a .274 hitting percentage and 50 kills.“We’re not there.” head coach Geoff Carlston said. “I don’t like moral victories, but I thought we did a lot of good things tonight to build on.”Junior setter Taylor Hughes, who led her team with 24 assists, knew the Gophers would pose a strong threat especially because of Minnesota junior setter Samantha Seliger-Swenson, arguably the Big Ten’s top setter.“We were expecting a very fast offense by them … that’s kind of hard to keep up with,” Hughes said. “We put up a good fight.”The first set started off slow for the Buckeyes as the Gophers went on a 4-0 run to open the match. The Gophers built a 17-4 lead when Ohio State called a timeout. Soon thereafter the Buckeyes went on a 7-2 run, but Minnesota’s defense remained strong with four blocks and 17 digs, earning them the set, 25-15.Senior outside hitter Luisa Schirmer’s second kill tied the second set at 4-4, the first of eight ties as well as two lead changes. The Buckeyes were able to play a close set against the Gophers with 15 kills, three blocks, and 29 digs. Senior outside hitter Ashley Wenz contributed six kills on a .455 clip for the Buckeyes, but Minnesota’s freshman middle blocker Regan Pittman helped her team with five kills and a .625 hitting percentage, leading the Gophers to win the second set 25-20.Minnesota picked up the lead in the third set and maintained it as the Buckeyes closely trailed. Although the Buckeyes tried to catch up, the Gophers’ 20 kills and .405 hitting percentage won them the set 25-18.Carlston credited Minnesota and recognized the Gophers’ hard plays. Although he believes the Buckeyes played well, Carlston still sees room for improvement.“I think we really stressed them out defensively with mixing up our shots, that was important for us,” Carlston said. “But I think we need to play better defense.”Hughes agreed with Carlston that the Buckeyes need to focus more on their defensive strategy and remaining consistent.“A lot of games are won and lost in the serve-and-pass game and [Minnesota] served really aggressively,” Hughes said. “Upping our serve for Sunday can help us a lot. Getting most teams out of system will give us the upper hand.”Carlston thought his team came back well in the second and third sets, but in the end the Gophers had a fire that the Buckeyes were lacking.The Buckeyes will face Michigan for the second time this season at 1 p.m. on Sunday at St. John. read more

Trump threatens obliteration Iran calls White House mentally retarded

first_imgREUTERS/Carlos BarriaREUTERS/Carlos Barria U.S. President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to obliterate parts of Iran if it attacked “anything American,” in a new war of words with Iran which condemned the latest U.S. sanctions on Tehran and called White House actions “mentally retarded.”Trump on Monday signed an executive order imposing largely symbolic economic sanctions against Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other senior figures, with punitive measures against Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expected later this week.Iran shot down a U.S. drone last week and Trump said he had called off a retaliatory air strike with minutes to spare, saying too many people would have been killed. It would have been the first time the United States had bombed the Islamic Republic in four decades of mutual hostility.In rhetoric similar to the kind of harsh words he used to aim at North Korea, Trump tweeted: “Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force. In some areas, overwhelming will mean obliteration.”In a televised address on Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the new sanctions against Khamenei would have no practical impact because the top cleric had no assets abroad.Rouhani, a pragmatist who won two elections on promises to open Iran up to the world, said the White House’s actions were “mentally retarded” – an insult that other Iranian officials have used in the past about Trump, but a departure from Rouhani’s own comparatively measured tone over the years.“Tehran’s strategic patience does not mean we have fear,” said Rouhani, who with his cabinet runs Iran’s day-to-day affairs while Khamenei, in power since 1989, is the country’s ultimate authority.ESCALATING U.S. SANCTIONSThe United States has imposed crippling financial sanctions against Iran since last year when Trump withdrew from a 2015 deal between Tehran and world powers under which Iran curbed its nuclear programme.Tension has escalated sharply since last month when the Trump administration tightened its sanctions noose, ordering all countries to halt purchases of Iranian oil.That has effectively starved the Iranian economy of the main source of revenue Tehran uses to import food for its 81 million people, and left the pragmatic wing of Iran’s leadership, led by Rouhani, with no benefits to show for its nuclear agreement.Trump says the accord reached under his predecessor Barack Obama was a failure because its terms were not permanent and did not cover security issues beyond the nuclear programme, such as missiles and role in various Middle East conflicts.The downing of the U.S. drone – which Iran says was over its air space and the United States says was in international skies – followed weeks of rising tensions that had begun to take on a military dimension.Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton, visiting Israel, repeated earlier offers to hold talks, as long as Iran was willing to go beyond the terms of the 2015 deal.“The president has held the door open to real negotiations to completely and verifiably eliminate Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, its pursuit of ballistic missile delivery systems, its support for international terrorism and other malign behaviour worldwide,” Bolton said in Jerusalem. “All that Iran needs to do is to walk through that open door.”Iran says there is no point negotiating with Washington when it has abandoned a deal that was already reached.Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said imposing “useless sanctions” on Khamenei and Zarif would mark “the permanent closure of the path of diplomacy.”Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that the situation surrounding Iran was developing towards a dangerous scenario, the RIA news agency reported on Tuesday.The United States and some regional allies have blamed Iran for explosions that damaged tankers in the Gulf, which Tehran denies. Washington’s European allies have repeatedly warned both sides of the danger that a small mistake could lead to war.Tehran has given European signatories until July 8 to find a way to shield its economy from U.S. sanctions, or else it will enrich uranium to higher levels banned under the deal to help ensure no development of a nuclear weapon results.Acting U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper said he hoped to recruit support from NATO allies in Brussels this week for U.S. efforts to deter conflict with Iran and “open the door to diplomacy,” as he made his first trip as Pentagon chief.WhatsApp SharePrint <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more