Environment

The Science News

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Climate change may act more suddenly than we have expected till now.

The genesis of two Category 5 hurricanes in a row (Katrina and Rita) over the Gulf of Mexico is an unprecedented and troubling occurrence. But for most tropical meteorologists the truly astonishing 'storm of the decade' took place in March 2004. Hurricane Catarina - so named because it made landfall in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina - was the first recorded South Atlantic hurricane in history.

New Orleans, Old Prejudices

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Mike Davis finds that every aspect of the response to Hurricane Katrina disaster was shaped by race and class.

The tempest which destroyed New Orleans was conjured out of tropical seas and an angry atmosphere 125 miles offshore of the Bahamas. Labelled initially as 'Tropical Depression 12' on 23 August, it quickly intensified into 'Tropical Storm Katrina'. Making landfall near Miami on 24 August, Katrina had grown into a small hurricane - 'Category 1' on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale. Crossing over Florida to the Gulf of Mexico where it wandered for four days, Katrina underwent a monstrous and largely unexpected transformation.

Ecology against Capitalism: Slum Ecology

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Urban poverty and climatic hazards are a deadly cocktail for millions, as Mike Davis explains.

A villa miseria outside Buenos Aires may have the world's worst fenshui: it is built 'over a former lake, a toxic dump, and a cemetery, and in a flood zone'. But then a hazardous, health-threatening location is the geographical definition of the typical squatters' settlement: whether it is a barrio perched precariously on stilts over the excrement-clogged Pasig River in Manila, or the bustee in Vijayawada where 'residents have door numbers written on pieces of furniture because the houses, along with the doors, [are] washed away by floods every year'.

Ecology against Capitalism: Put the Heat on Governments

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We can deal with the challenge of climate change, argues Jonathan Neale.

Scientists are now agreed that the atmosphere is getting hotter, and getting hotter more quickly. Global warming is caused by 'greenhouse gases'. Right now one gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), accounts for more than 80 percent of warming.

Ecology against Capitalism: Nuclear Reaction

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Mary Black and Andrew Stone attack New Labour's desire for a nuclear renaissance.

It was looking increasingly ominous. 'Government sources' were leaking that New Labour, having pursued a 'rule nothing out' policy on nuclear power for its first two terms, was intent on initiating a new reactor building programme immediately after the election. These rumours were strengthened when a confidential briefing note from Joan MacNaughton, the director general of energy policy at the Department of Trade and Industry, counselled urgent new nuclear build.

Environment: Trading in Destruction

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Andrew Stone speaks to acclaimed environmentalist and Guardian columnist George Monbiot about the threat posed by global warming.

There have been a number of reports in recent weeks on the effects of global warming, including the report from the international conference in Exeter on climate change. What do they add to our knowledge about the scale of the problem?

Well, they reinforce what we were already aware of - that there's an urgent existential problem, in other words, one that threatens the continued existence of human beings on the planet. They have provided some quite specific predictions of what might happen by particular dates, and what the scale of the crisis is that we need to avoid.

Environment: Trading in Destruction

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The solutions put forward at a recent conference on climate change in Exeter are inadequate, writes Ian Rappel. Our interview of the month is with environment activist George Monbiot.

Another month passes, and the issue of global warming hits the headlines once again. A series of dire predictions and scenarios poured forth from a conference on 'Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change' held at the Hedley Centre of the UK Meteorological (Met) Office in Exeter last month. This event brought together over 200 scientists from 30 countries, and was sponsored by the UK government's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), at the behest of Tony Blair himself.

Environment: Another Wasted Opportunity

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'The government must no longer allow delays in developing a long term radioactive waste management strategy to be used as a pretext for deferring decisions on the future of nuclear power...

'To do so would seriously narrow the range of options open to the government in meeting their longer term energy and environmental goals. The small uncertainties associated with radioactive waste disposal that still exist must be balanced against the spectre of global warming: the consequences of not doing enough to limit greenhouse gas emissions may be catastrophic.'

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