Archive for the 'Asia' Category

No More Fukushimas

The situation at the damaged nuclear reactors in Fukushima is dire. Two days ago, three workers were exposed to water containing radioactive materials 10,000 times the normal level in the basement of Reactor No. 3.  This reactor is especially dangerous because it contains MOX fuel, a mixture of uranium and plutonium.  And, things got worse yesterday.  The Japanese authorities have now said that the reactor vessel in unit 3 may have breached, which means that much greater amounts of radiation from the MOX fuel could be released.

Here in the United States, the nuclear industry’s lobbyists and propagandists work to downplay concerns.  “Earthquakes of that magnitude would never happen here.”  “We’ll do a thorough safety review.” “Nuclear power needs to be part of our energy future.”  And so on. What they aren’t saying is that that massive public subsidies to bring this old reactors online would go 7-10 times further if spent on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Nuclear energy development is one of the biggest blockages to and energy revolution that can slow climate change. 

The federal government has failed for years to provide appropriate oversight of nuclear reactors, but fortunately, two states are leading the fight to shut down their dangerous old nuclear reactors.  In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been a longtime critic of Indian Point, and has called for a safety review of the reactors.  In Vermont, where the state legislature voted overwhelmingly last year to close Vermont Yankee as scheduled in 2012, over 600 people gathered outside the reactor on Sunday to show solidarity with the people of Japan and call for the plant to be shut down.

This Monday, March 28, people across the country will be showing their support for the people of Japan and calling for a world free of nuclear disasters.  Please sign up to host or join a vigil near you, and let’s fight for an energy future with no more Fukushimas.  To find a Stand with Japan vigil near you, go to:

Powder River Basin: The New Energy Frontier?

This morning, Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar announced plans to open up 7,400 acres of federal land in Wyoming’s coal-rich Powder River Basin for lease to coal mining companies, including Peabody Coal and Arch Coal. This first round of leases are among over a dozen tracts to be auctioned over the next three years. This announcement stands in stark contrast to the kind of “new energy frontier” that Salazar described in his speech to the thousands of youth attending Power Shift 2009, the youth climate conference that welcomed in a new presidential administration. I was one of the youth in that crowd, filled with idealism and excitement for what seemed to be the dawning of a new clean energy future. Two years later, this speech not only feels like a dream, but a ruse.This decision is disguised as an effort to promote job growth and American energy security, but in reality is a result of the concerted efforts of the world’s largest coal companies seeking to expand their profits by shipping U.S coal overseas for Asian consumption. 

Powder River Basin: "the expanding frontier of western coal production has already begun"

The expanding frontier of western coal production has already begun; currently, 70-80 trains leave the Powder River Basin daily, shipping out the equivalent of 40% of total annual U.S coal consumption. According to Salazar, “Coal is a critical component of America’s comprehensive energy portfolio as well as Wyoming’s economy.”But in reality, the coal industry currently accounts for less than 3% of total Wyoming workforce and hundreds of thousands of tons of this coal is exported annually to countries like China, South Korea, India, and Japan. Counter-intuitive to all the energy security rhetoric, US coal exports have seen a massive jump over the past six years, growing nearly 71% between 2004 and 2010. 

Not only is this enterprise encroaching upon Wyoming communities; in Washington, several energy companies are pursuing permits to build coal ports, to transport this coal overseas. Two proposed coal port sites in particular are undergoing controversial permitting processes.

Millennium Bulk Terminals, a joint venture between Arch Coal and Ambre Energy, is currently pursuing a coal port site in Longview, Washington. Millennium recently announced it would withdraw its current permit and reapply after being caught reporting an expected 5 million tons of coal exports annually, 15 times less than internally discussed amount of 80 million tons. While this site would likely be a major provider for China’s coal imports, estimates show it would provide fewer than 70 jobs to the community. Continue reading ‘Powder River Basin: The New Energy Frontier?’

Disasters and Resilience: Clean Energy Can Save Us

NASA – ISS over Hurricane Andrew

Kaifukuryoku (回 復力), is the Japanese word for resilience. For many in Japan, resilience has become a a way of life, a goal that has driven one of the most advanced efforts at planning for disasters in the world.

The word tsunami is also Japanese, originating in their long familiarity of living on the knife edge of disaster, wedged between volcanoes, fault-lines, typhoons, and the vastness of the Pacific ocean.

Yet, the three disasters Japan is grappling with today are showing the limits of resilience and industrial societies.

Buildings in Japan are subject to incredible standards for flexibility and strength, to survive the earthquakes that threaten cities. Mt. Fuji has incredible lava channels and barriers built to protect Tokyo from an eruption. Volcano, typhoon, and earthquake monitoring systems are linked to alarms that can be activated to warn citizens to seek shelter and/or higher ground.

These all saved lives.

Yet, now as Japan should be mobilizing all its resources to feed, house, and evacuate citizens who have been impacted by this terrible disaster, it is mobilizing to prevent a third and possibly worst disaster, a nuclear catastrophe.

Continue reading ‘Disasters and Resilience: Clean Energy Can Save Us’

Qatar 2022 – A Carbon Neutral World Cup?

At approximately 10:45 AM EST Thursday, FIFA (Soccer’s international governing body) announced Qatar as the host of the 2022 World Cup. The announcement, which shocked people around the world, came minutes after Russia was announced as the World Cup 2018 host.

The announcement has not been without controversy. From questions about strong cultural differences and laws to the heat and overcrowding. Not to mention size issues – Qatar is a small nation of only 1.6 million people. Richard Spencer of The Times (UK) wrote about the cultural controversy surround Qatar, “I wonder if today’s decision might have come at just the wrong time.”

Continue reading ‘Qatar 2022 – A Carbon Neutral World Cup?’

UN Agrees Moratorium on Geoengineering Experiments!

Moratorium in Nagoya!
Nagoya, Japan: News Release | 29 October 2010 |

Geoengineering Moratorium at UN Ministerial in Japan

Risky Climate Techno-fixes Blocked

NAGOYA, Japan – In a landmark consensus decision, the 193-member UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will close its tenth biennial meeting with a de facto moratorium on geoengineering projects and experiments.   “Any private or public experimentation or adventurism intended to manipulate the planetary thermostat will be in violation of this carefully crafted UN consensus,” stated Silvia Ribeiro, Latin American Director of ETC Group.

The agreement, reached during the ministerial portion of the two-week meeting which included 110 environment ministers, asks governments to ensure  that no geoengineering activities take place until risks to the environmental and biodiversity and associated social, cultural and economic impacts risks have been appropriately considered as well as the socio-economic impacts. The CBD secretariat was also instructed to report back on various geoengineering proposals and potential intergovernmental regulatory measures. Continue reading ‘UN Agrees Moratorium on Geoengineering Experiments!’

The Dalai Lama on Global Warming

I was in the same room as his Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama for approximately 1.5 hours this afternoon. He made a visit to Toronto, Canada to address a crowd of over 30,000 in what could be summarized as a lesson of kindness.

What emerged from his mouth, however, reached issues including global warming and climate change. He affirmed his thoughts that humans make contributions to global warming, and dug a little deeper than most have:

These tragedies are not natural disasters, they are human disasters. They are man-made tragedies,” he said when explaining the impacts of climate change. “It is our own carelessness,” he concluded.

His observation of progress of the United Nations climate talks was clear: “The United Nations is [telling us that] national interest is of greater importance than the global interest,” as he described the inability to come to a global consensus in Copenhagen. “This is too narrow-minded. We must broaden our perspective.

His Holiness wove these concepts mindfully with discussing the utmost strength and importance of truth, openness, sincerity and honesty – all which he defines as necessities of building resolution. Simultaneously, he discussed the basis of working for the good of humanity, with the recognition that we all crave resolution and dislike conflict.

“Destruction of your neighbour is destruction of yourself.  Don’t remain at a distance [from each other]. Meet. Listen. Develop a spirit of dialogue. Create a sense of caring for the wellbeing of others.”

May the United Nations, countries, and individuals alike heed the Dalai Lama’s advice, because, as he says, the solutions “will not fall from the sky. It [will come] from our own action.”

The Great Power Race

Cross-posted from

Below is a special movement update we’re really excited about! It’s from three of our young allies in China, India, and the United States– about the launch of a new campaign called “The Great Power Race.” We’ve been pumped for this project for a while now, and as oil continues to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, we feel the timing couldn’t be more important for a new race to clean energy…
Dear Friends,

We are young people from 3 of the largest countries on the planet — China, India, and the United States — announcing the launch of the Great Power Race.
The Great Power Race is a clean energy competition between students in China, India, and the United States. The aim is to kick-start hundreds of new climate solutions projects on campuses and in communities in all three countries and to demonstrate to governments and businesses our generation’s leadership in transforming our world towards a green economy.

The Great Power Race begins now. This spring, we’re seeing which country can sign up the most campus teams to take part:

Students, visit the website to register a team on your campus today:

Japan Sets Climate Precedent for G8

Japan Foreign Affairs Press Secretary, Kazuo Kodama tonight re-affirmed Japan’s concerns around climate change. “As we all know, the global community must address the issue of rising sea levels and rising temperatures. In order to address [climate change] there seems to be a consensus today …that we have to transform our society from carbon intensive one to a low carbon society.”

Continue reading ‘Japan Sets Climate Precedent for G8′

Changing Tides – A Photo Essay on Bangladesh


©Stuart Matthews

Guest post and photography essay from photographer Stuart Matthews

In November, 2009, I visited Bangladesh to document the impact of global warming on the country and its’ people. I focused on how NGO’s such as Oxfam Great Britain are collaborating with the communities to develop initiatives like the ‘Cash for Work’ program. This provides an income to the individual workers who participate in developing the climate defenses around their community.

Bangladesh has an extremely vulnerable landscape with 80% of its land made up of low-lying deltaic plains with an altitude of only 10 meters above sea level or less. This land is subject to frequent flooding during the Monsoon season, with large quantities of water flowing down the Jamuna and Padma rivers, causing catastrophic erosion along the banks of a fragile, predominantly silt, landscape.

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Continue reading ‘Changing Tides – A Photo Essay on Bangladesh’

Are the Himalayan Glaciers melting? Why not see for yourself?

These mountains in the depths of district of Chamba in the state of Himachal Pradesh (India) used to have a lot more snow.

In recent times I’ve been reading a lot about climate change not being real. First the climate gate scandal followed by the many articles attacking the IPCC for incorrectly publishing information on the glaciers melting in the Himalayas by 2035. Climate scientists, economics, politicians and business persons are being interviewed left, right and centre.

The question on the lips of the public is – what is the truth? The truth is such an interesting thing – where more often than not, it is a human tendency for a person to believe what they want to hear.

I pose a question to all people who are jumping on the bandwagon of denying the Himalayan glacier melt due to an error made by the IPCC, and denying the existence of climate change. How many of you have been to the Himalayas? How many of you have spoken to the citizens in the mountains of India and Nepal who have spent their whole lives there?

Very few of you – if any. Continue reading ‘Are the Himalayan Glaciers melting? Why not see for yourself?’