Blogging Highlights: Melting Ice and Arctic Activism

This week, we would like to recommend a series of related debates on climate change, melting ice, opportunistic responses by oil companies, and Greenpeace activism.

New report by intergovernmental panel on climate change. The new IPCC report just came out providing further evidence for ongoing climate change, including more heat waves, droughts and floods, unless governments take action to drastically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Among other challenges, “drought is the number one threat we face from climate change because it affects the two things we need to live: food and water,” according to Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground (cited from interview in Democracy Now!). Several blogs and papers discuss the recent report, including The Conversation and Huffington Post. In the latter, Karl Ritter debates how the IPCC report struggles with the slow-down of temperature rises in recent years which might fuel skepticism about the reality of climate change. At the same time, experts agree on the significance of other effects, such as rising sea levels, arctic ice melt and experiences of extreme weather, as well as human causes for these changes, in particular CO2 emissions.

Oil businesses vs. Greenpeace fight for the arctic. While experts are still debating causes and dynamics of climate change, oil businesses are already trying to exploit its consequences, in particular the melting of arctic ice. A few days ago, Greenpeace activists were stopped by armed coastguards when trying to board a Russian oil platform, owned by Gazprom, to prevent it from drilling in the arctic Barents Sea. Blogs, such as Democracy Now!, are now debating the legitimacy of arresting thirty activists who face charges of attempted ‘piracy’ for trying to board the oil platform. The protests are part of a larger Greenpeace campaign aimed at protecting the Arctic from the oil industry whose drilling attempts may have unpredictable consequences for the polar and global ecosystem. Greenpeace is demanding the release of its Arctic Sunrise activists from custody.

Why carbon markets have failed, while climate change continues. The ongoing threats of climate change and the lack of coherent response from governments have also been subject of a series of OSC blog articles. David Levy discusses in his recent blog “Carbon Fiddles While the Planet Burns” why CO2 levels continue to rise and policymakers continue to fail to prevent further CO2 emissions. Elke Schuessler (Free University Berlin) further debates in her blog post “Moving Deckchairs around the Titanic? Further Insights on the World’s Failing Climate Regime” why “the Kyoto Protocol, the much quoted ‘only game in town’ in transnational climate policy, has failed to commit large industrialized countries and major carbon emitters such as the U.S. (in its first commitment period) and Canada (in its second) to binding targets for emissions reduction”. Comments welcome!

The issue of climate change seems pressing more than ever, and debates among academics and policy-makers can hardly keep up with the consequences of climate change we are facing today. We invite further comments and blog posts e.g. on policy and business responses – both exploitative (such as the oil business) and progressive (such as clean energy firms). It is crucial to push the debate forward to promote sustainable solutions for humanity and our planet.

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