Polar bear's long swim illustrates ice melt
Interview with the Green Party of Ontario Canada
Our impact on the planet is serious. Fortunately, humans are pushing solutions, some that actually work. We trim, blend, and append three 2011 articles from: (1) Los Angeles Times, Jan 29, on bears by Kim Murphy; (2) Alertnet, Jan 24, on carbon markets by Thin Lei Win; and (3) a Huffington Post blog, Jan 5, an interview of Green Party of Ontario Canada leaders John Fisher and Erich Jacoby Hawkins (member at Transition Barrie) by Scott Baker.
by Kim Murphy, by Thin Lei Win, and by Scott Baker
Polar bear swims 426 miles across Arctic seas
In one of the most dramatic signs ever documented of how shrinking Arctic sea ice impacts polar bears, researchers at the US Geological Survey in Alaska have tracked a female bear that swam nine days across the deep, frigid Beaufort Sea before reaching an ice floe 426 miles offshore.
The marathon swim came at a cost: With little food likely available once she arrived, the bear lost 22% of her body weight and her year-old female cub, who set off on the journey but did not survive.
What a scientist called the "ordeal" of Bear 20741 was documented in the journal Polar Biology, and while it may not have been unprecedented -- shrinking Arctic ice has led to frequent reports not only of long-distance swims, but even cannibalism -- the study provided some of the best documentation to date of the real-world conditions of a polar bear on a warming planet.
Researchers outfitted the bear with a GPS-equipped collar, and also a temperature sensor planted deep under her skin to track how her body adapted to swimming constantly in the frigid waters.
The bear lost more than 100 pounds during the swim, which began east of Barrow, Alaska and ended, after ranging more than 400 miles offshore, back at the Beaufort coast near the Canadian border.
To see the article, click here
JJS: To the extent humans are reducing the habitat of other species, are humans doing enough about it?
World ponders alternatives to troubled carbon market
Oxford professor and former World Bank economist Paul Collier, in his latest book, The Plundered Planet, says governments should levy carbon and offset it by reducing taxation on another economic activity.
With taxation are licenses. "Cap and trade" is a system requiring polluters to obtain an ever-decreasing number of permits for every ton of carbon dioxide they release into the atmosphere, which are then traded on a regulated market.
Collier calculates the potential value of carbon-trading permits as $720 billion per year, based on a ton of carbon at $40 and the global ceiling on emissions at 18 billion tons per year.
Proponents argue carbon markets channel funds to low-carbon development projects in poorer nations which can issue tradable offsets, while allowing polluters to meet their targets for curbing emissions without the cost of complying with domestic regulation.
Critics say carbon offset schemes have helped finance large dams that were already under construction rather than new initiatives that would not have existed without the system. Further, it rewards nations and firms that are historically most responsible for the rising greenhouse gas levels.
Charles Sampford, director of the Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law at Australia's Griffith University, says, "The merchant bankers and traders make money out of volatility, whereas the people who make investments in factories and industries, the volatility is extremely damaging."
Sampford warns that carbon trading creates temptation for graft. The latest in a string of scandals including the re-sale of used offsets, VAT fraud, and hacking, emissions permits were recently stolen from accounts in the Czech Republic and Austria.
The European Union imposed a weeklong freeze in spot trading on its 72 billion euro carbon market this month. EU officials have promised to improve security and re-open the system as each national registry proves it can resist further attacks.
Carbon taxes and carbon trading can be used side by side. Sweden and Denmark levy taxes on carbon emissions from fuel, light industry, and agriculture while participating in the European trading scheme. The cap and trade approach is useful for controlling industrial emissions, as companies and installations can be easily quantified. But for the residential, commercial and transport sectors, which involve larger numbers of people and entities, a carbon tax may be more efficient.
Other alternatives include a global feed-in tariff, proposed by the United Nations, under which regional or national electricity utilities would be obligated to buy renewable power from eligible producers. This would require an investment of roughly $100 billion per year for 10 years to make renewable energy accessible and affordable for the entire world.
To see the article, click here .
JJS: While polluters should pay for using Earth as a dumpsite, so should any human pay for using Earth in any fashion, as some greens suggest.
Interview of the Green Party of Ontario
John Fisher: How much would a car cost if all security, space, health, environmental costs were included? This is the thrust of Green thinking!
Erich Jacoby Hawkins: Raising the royalty (fee) on resources and pollution while lowering the taxes (to zero) on labor and value-added would mean an increase in jobs and real (take-home) wages alongside a decrease in resource consumption and pollution.
EJH: Resource fees could be set through a cap/trade process, which sets the total amount that can be extracted, letting the market then set the price, or could be pegged directly to the unimproved value of the raw resource.
JF: Alberta's Heritage Fund and Alaska's Social Dividend, although based on oil, could be funded by expanding the revenue base to all of nature's free gifts!
After 'resource fees/economic rent' is captured by the community the former speculative income from owning land would be significantly reduced.
EJH: We believe that employers and employees should share in the benefits of productivity gains with shorter workweeks, which would also reduce unemployment by spreading work among more workers.
To see the entire interview, click here .
JJS: Not only should we pay for using Earth, we should also pay the right ones -- not lone owners but all of us. Getting a share of that immense flow of wealth, of all the money we all spend for the sites, resources, EM spectrum, and ecosystem that we all use is what will make our lives -- and our getting a living -- fundamentally better. Itís geonomics and it works.
Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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