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Blade Runner y el motor de explosión

Vi Blade Runner de Ridley Scott nada más estrenarse porque consideraba a Scott un genio del cine (había visto Los duelistas, pero no Alien) y desde ese momento convertí esa película en un argumento constante en mis clases de Filosofía porque no la tomé como una cinta de ciencia ficción sino como una reflexión bastante honda sobre lo que consideramos como humano. Luego leí la novela de Philip K. Dick ¿Sueñan los androides con ovejas eléctricas?, en la que se basaba la cinta, pero la fuerza de las imágenes de Ridley Scott, y la música casi hipnótica de Vangelis, siempre se ha sobrepuesto, en mi caso, al recuerdo lector.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tomates en un invernadero AppHarvest en Morehead, Kentucky. Luke Sharrett para The New York Times

Todo parece indicar que este será un mal año para la agricultura: en el oeste de Estados Unidos hay sequías nunca antes vistas; los agricultores del Valle Central de California están dejando grandes extensiones de tierra fértil sin cultivar. Una ola de frío en enero en Florida devastó los cultivos de tomate y dejó los cultivos vulnerables a las enfermedades. Dos meses después, una helada inusualmente fuerte en las Carolinas dejó a algunos agricultores con muy pocas fresas y arándanos.

Sin embargo, ni la sequía ni las heladas preocupan a los productores de tomates, fresas y otros cultivos que crecen en este momento en enormes invernaderos, algunos de los cuales se extienden a lo largo de 70 hectáreas, en Norteamérica y Europa.…  Seguir leyendo »

The weather station on Bishop Rock on Mount Everest. Tenzing Gyalzen Sherpa/National Geographic

A new landmark greeted mountaineers nearing the summit of Mount Everest this spring: a seven-foot-tall mast of scientific instruments bolted into the coarse shale of an outcropping known as Bishop Rock. It’s only about 130 vertical feet from the 29,032-foot summit, where one can look down the opposite side of the mountain, into China, and see another weather station about an equal distance from the top.

These installations are the highest outposts of two networks of automatic weather stations that stretch up Everest’s two popular routes. This being Everest, where controversy is no stranger, it wasn’t long before a quibble arose over bragging rights.…  Seguir leyendo »

The climate crisis is not a concern only of the rich. Water had to be brought by train to India's state of Rajasthan during May’s global heating-induced heatwave. Photograph: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images

“What do you mean, ‘why am I working in this heat?’ If I don’t work, we will die of hunger”.

That was how Shiv Kumar Mandal, a Delhi rickshaw driver, explained why he continued to transport passengers during a prolonged and horrific temperature spike that experts attribute to global heating.

Mandal, one presumes, does not consider planetary warming a topic relevant only to the rich.

Yet, in the wake of the Australian federal election, we’re hearing versions of that claim again and again and again.

Think of how Liberal Senator Hollie Hughes – one of the Coalition’s senior spokespeople on climate, no less – recently dubbed warming “almost like a luxury issue”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ya estamos viendo los efectos del cambio climático

Hace unos días, The New York Times publicó un reportaje sobre la desecación del Great Salt Lake o Gran Lago Salado, una historia que me avergüenza admitir que había pasado por alto. No estamos hablando de un acontecimiento hipotético en un futuro lejano: el lago ya ha perdido dos tercios de su superficie y los desastres ecológicos —la salinidad aumenta hasta el punto de que la vida silvestre muere; las ocasionales tormentas de tierra venenosa que recorren un área metropolitana de 2,5 millones de personas— parecen inminentes.

Como nota al margen, me sorprendió un poco que el artículo no mencionara los obvios paralelismos con el mar de Aral, un enorme lago que la Unión Soviética consiguió convertir en un desierto tóxico.…  Seguir leyendo »

El tren bala japonés emitía un ruido ensordecedor cada vez que salía de un túnel. Un ruido que podía escucharse a 400 metros de distancia y que traía de cabeza a los vecinos que vivían cerca de las vías. Por suerte para ellos, uno de los ingenieros de la compañía ferroviaria japonesa, Eiji Nakatsu, era un ávido pajarero. En una de sus salidas al campo, se fijó en un martín pescador, esa vistosa ave azul eléctrico que custodia nuestros ríos. Es conocida su habilidad para zambullirse y pescar, un proceso en el que llega a alcanzar velocidades de 40 kilómetros hora, midiendo apenas un palmo.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Devegecidi Dam in Diyarbakir, Turkey is in danger of drought due to climate change. Photo: Bestami Bodruk/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

In October 2021, the Turkish government announced a U-turn in its climate policy. Having joined the Paris Agreement last year, after years of tactical delay, the government announced a series of climate policies, from an unexpected 2053 carbon neutrality target, alongside a national Green Development Initiative, to the development of a National Green Finance Strategy by the end of 2023.

This policy shift has been driven by a number of changes in Turkey’s economic and political landscape. Firstly, Ankara has attempted to position itself better in order to access growing climate finance flows, and a promise made by the World Bank, and a number of European development banks, to Turkey to provide climate finance if Turkey joins the Paris Agreement has been pivotal.…  Seguir leyendo »

Gasoline prices hover around $4 a gallon for the least expensive grade at several gas stations in Washington, D.C., on April 11. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

As motorists make plans for the summer driving season, U.S. gasoline prices are near record highs. Yet some relief may be in sight: Falling oil prices mean pump prices should dip below $4 per gallon in the coming weeks—though the looming risk of further disruptions to Russian oil supply means the relief risks proving short lived.

A key reason for the lower oil prices was the Biden administration’s recent announcement of the largest release of oil in U.S. history from the nation’s strategic stockpiles, followed by a smaller, but still sizable, release from European countries. In explaining this move, U.S. President Joe Biden acknowledged a difficult truth: More fossil fuels are required at this time to meet the world’s current energy needs.…  Seguir leyendo »

Senegalese President Macky Sall shakes hands with Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, at a conference in Diamniadio, Senegal, on Dec. 2, 2019. SEYLLOU/AFP via Getty Images

With more than 3 billion people still living on less than $5.50 a day, poverty reduction is central to human flourishing. It’s also key to preventing the worst effects of climate change—people are much less vulnerable to climate shocks if they aren’t poor.

That should be the main task of the two key multilateral institutions tasked with reducing poverty and promoting development: the World Bank, which provides loans and grants for development projects, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which helps poor countries overcome currency crises and keep their finances stable.

Now, however, both institutions are under pressure from their rich donor governments to sideline economic development and poverty reduction—and shift focus to reducing carbon emissions.…  Seguir leyendo »

We Are Wasting Time on These Climate Debates. The Next Steps are Clear.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, which was released last week and which we co-authored with many colleagues, offers hope for limiting global warming.

But there is no time to waste. And wasted time includes time spent debating issues that divert us from our most important priorities right now.

Unfortunately, debates about distant future decisions and future uncertainties are distracting advocates, policymakers, researchers and the public from their shared, near-term goals. At best, these disputes give observers — especially policymakers and their advisers, who are trying to make tough short-term decisions during a global energy security crisis — a misleading impression that experts disagree about effective steps to decarbonize energy systems.…  Seguir leyendo »

E-waste is increasingly being recycled in order to prevent ending up in landfill sites. Photo: Getty Images.

Last year was billed by some as a ‘super year’ for the environment, with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26) in November taking centre stage. But, with some of these multilateral processes spilling over into this year, the widely accepted need for a green recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, and growing commentary linking the invasion of Ukraine to broader energy security issues,  environmental action looks set to be equally prominent in 2022.

One international event that flew below the radar of many environmental summit watchers in 2021 was the 16th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held both online and in Katowice, Poland.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chalk drawings from a protest in Johannesburg, South Africa, on March 12, 2021, against a crude oil pipeline through Uganda and Tanzania. Kim Ludbrook/EPA, via Shutterstock

This week, the panel of climate experts convened by the United Nations delivered a clear message: To stand a chance of curbing dangerous climate change, we can’t afford to build more fossil fuel infrastructure. We must also rapidly phase out the fossil fuels we’re using.

In moments like this, the media rarely focuses on African countries like mine, Uganda. When it does, it covers the impacts — the devastation we are already experiencing and the catastrophes that loom. They are right to: Mozambique has been battered in recent years by cyclones intensified by climate change. Drought in Kenya linked to climate change has left millions hungry.…  Seguir leyendo »

El último informe del IPCC nos exhorta a pasar ya de las palabras a la acción

Esta semana se ha publicado la tercera parte del Sexto Informe de Evaluación del IPCC, que corresponde al Grupo de Trabajo III sobre mitigación. A partir de la evaluación de las bases físicas del cambio climático (Grupo de Trabajo I) y de su traducción a impactos físicos y a nuestra vulnerabilidad (Grupo de Trabajo II), estos expertos proponen las acciones más recomendables para reducir estos impactos.

Un informe de síntesis que llegará en septiembre unirá todos estos contenidos. Pero no hace falta esperar hasta entonces para saber lo que debemos hacer. Nos lo dice ya el documento que acaba de salir.…  Seguir leyendo »

The flooded bank of the Rhine river in Cologne, Germany in 2021. Photo: Ying Tang/NurPhoto/Getty Images.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published the third – and final – report in its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) triad on the state of climate change and the world’s response.

The first report, on climate science, was published in the run up to COP26 last year. The headline ‘Code Red for Humanity’ resonated across a world reeling from an unprecedented pandemic, wildfires and flooding across the affluent Global North.

But, just a few months later, amid the first days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the second report on adaptation barely registered with the media despite being called ‘an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.’…  Seguir leyendo »

La de Rusia es una guerra de los combustibles fósiles

Por un lado, podría parecer indudable que la invasión de Rusia a Ucrania es una guerra posibilitada y exacerbada por el apetito insaciable del mundo por los combustibles fósiles. Es imposible que no sea así: Rusia es un petro-Estado —su economía e influencia global dependen en gran medida de sus vastas reservas de petróleo y gas natural— y Vladimir Putin es su petromonarca, uno más en una línea de personajes repugnantes con los que las democracias liberales siguen haciendo negocios porque tienen algo que les es indispensable.

La salida de este predicamento también parecería obvia y urgente. Acelerar nuestra transición a combustibles renovables baratos y abundantes nos permitiría resolver al mismo tiempo dos amenazas graves al planeta: la amenaza de los hidrocarburos, causantes del calentamiento climático y la contaminación del aire, y la de los dictadores que determinan su abastecimiento.…  Seguir leyendo »

Here an indigenous woman of the Kayapo tribe is seen in Piaracu village in Brazil where dozens have gathered to protest against national environmental policy which threatens to open the forest to mining. Photo: Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images.

COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland last year, saw a range of commitments on forests. In addition to agreeing to halt forest loss and land degradation, significant resources were pledged to facilitate a transition to sustainable production and land-use models, as well as to support Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLC). The challenge now is to translate these pledges into transformative action, however, this must not be at the expense of civic engagement. Forest and land economies need to be rebuilt around principles of equity, sustainability and regeneration.

Equity or speed?

One of the recurring critiques of international conferences, such as COP26, is that the agendas primarily reflect the concerns of the Global North.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man collecting water from a water storage at Haji Rashid village of Bala Murghab district in Badghis province, 15 October 2021. Photo by HOSHANG HASHIMI/AFP via Getty Images.

As the Taliban took Kabul last August and completed their spectacular return to power, international media attention drove a frenzy of global interest in Afghanistan. While Afghanistan is no longer headline news, the country is facing a perfect storm of worsening humanitarian, economic, health and governance crises. The United Nations projects that at least 24 million Afghans, more than half the population, will need humanitarian assistance in 2022. With almost 9 million people on the edge of starvation, Afghanistan is fast becoming the most food insecure country in the world.

Meanwhile, the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan is at an impasse with the international donor community.…  Seguir leyendo »

Employees at a factory in China adjust a batch of solar panels which will be exported to Sudan. Photo: Deng Heping/VCG/Getty Images.

The green energy transition, the process of shifting away from fossil fuels to renewable energy such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, hydrogen or biomass energy, is critical to limiting global warming to the 1.5°C target aspired to in the 2015 Paris Agreement. But, in 2021, a report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the world is currently on track to exceed this target in  just two decades.

Reaching net-zero will have positive impacts on the global economy and reverberate through human systems around the world. However, accelerating the transition to a carbon-neutral economy requires a collective effort in order to mitigate the risks to the health and wellbeing of current and future generations posed by climate change.…  Seguir leyendo »

In London, a girl fills out details into ration books prior to their distribution at the beginning of the Second World War on 12 October 1939. Photo: Gerry Cranham/Fox Photos/Getty Images.

Current global climate action is starkly insufficient. Across the world, government plans leave the planet way off course for limiting temperatures to 1.50C, with gaping chasms between what governments say they will do, the policies being made and the implementation of these policies.

The First and Second World Wars, the Great Depression, the AIDS epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic are all global crises which governments have responded to urgently with both public behavioural interventions and critical structural changes.

What then, can we learn from previous crises about what a truly urgent response to climate change should look like?

Engaging the public

Public information is often used in crisis situations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Empty chairs are left on stage as negotiations continue on the last day of COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland. Delegates from around the world attempt to agree on the final text of the COP26 agreement. Photo: Getty Images.

Following the emotion and exhaustion of COP26, momentum behind global climate action is gathering again. Speaking at Chatham House last month, COP26 President, Alok Sharma, gave a clear message: ‘Unless we honour the promises made, to turn the commitments in the Glasgow Climate Pact into action, they will wither on the vine.’

Sharma recently travelled to Egypt to meet with Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, who Egypt has chosen as its president designate for COP27, as well as to the UAE, host of COP28 in 2024. Meanwhile, US Climate Envoy, John Kerry, hosted a Major Economies Forum (MEF) on Energy and Climate last week, bringing together ministers from countries representing 80 per cent of GDP, population and greenhouse gas emissions in order to ‘foster closer collaboration between leaders’.…  Seguir leyendo »