Emerging Environmental Security Issues


- Monthly Reports -

items identified between January 2006 and December 2008


The purpose of this study is to assess worldwide environmental-related issues in order to identify and analyze events that might trigger future international environmental treaties, conventions, or protocols and/or modifications to the existing ones.

For an organization of the items in cathegories, please see:
- ES-scanning-10.pdf for items identified between August 2002 and June 2010, or
- ES-2006-08.pdf (includes potential military implications) for items identified between July 2006-June 2008
- ES-2008-09.pdf (includes potential military implications) for items identified between July 2008-June 2009
- ES-2009-10.pdf (includes potential military implications) for items identified between July 2009-June 2010 .

For a complete version of the monthly reports with Military Implications, see the Army Environmental Policy Institute web page http://www.aepi.army.mil/reports/

This webpage lists the items identified between January 2006 and December 2008. For the items identified in the period 2002-2005, please see the links below or the webpage: es-scann-2005.html. For items identified since January 2009, please see env-scanning.html.

2008
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
July-August 2008

June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008

2007
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007

June 2007
May 2007

April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007

2006
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006

Items identifed over 2002-2005:

2005
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005

August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005

April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005

2004
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004

2003
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
August-September 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003

2002
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002


December 2008

New International Renewable Energy Agency Opens in January
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will be established January 26th in Bonn, Germany, as an intergovernmental organization to promote renewable energy worldwide. It will assist member countries in matters of technology transfer, assessment and dissemination of information on new technologies and best practices, and will help support projects related to renewable energy and tackling global warming. All interested UN member states are invited to become members of IRENA at the Founding Conference in January. The Japanese government declined to join, stating that the agency’s functions overlap those of the International Energy Agency. The organization was initially promoted by Denmark, Germany, and Spain, with strong support from other countries.
Sources:
IRENA website: www.irena.org
Promoting IRENA for a Stable Climate. Joint Press Release Germany-Denmark-Spain http://www.irena.org/downloads/Press/PM_SideEvent_IRENA_081211_EN.pdf
Japan won’t join intl eco-agency http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20081231TDY02306.htm

France Supports Brazil’s Permanent UN Security Council Seat to Promote Environmental Issues
Increasing Brazil’s role in international affairs, including a permanent seat on the UN Security Council to provide leadership on environment-related issues, was strongly supported at the second Brazil-EU summit, held in December 2008, by Nicolas Sarkozy, French President and holder of the EU rotating presidency. During the visit, the French and Brazilian leaders also addressed, inter alia, security and military affairs. Meantime, Brazil announced that its new strategic defense plan increases the focus on environmental protection and energy security.
Sources:
Sarkozy supports Brazil’s bid for security council http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/12/22/news/LT-Brazil-France.php
UPDATE 1-Brazil, EU to prepare joint crisis position for G20 http://www.reuters.com/article/vcCandidateFeed2/idUSN2251166120081222

Conference on Future of the Dutch Military Includes Environmental Security as an Emerging Military Role
The Netherlands Ministry of Defence and the Netherlands Institute of International Relations (Clingendael) held a conference December 15–17, 2008 in The Hague on future roles for the Dutch armed forces. The conference was part of the Future Policy Survey, a comprehensive interdepartmental look at future developments and scenarios to the year 2030 to update the Netherland’s defense policies and roles with NATO and the EU. There was some discussion of re-nationalization of defense policy due to ineffectiveness of the EU and NATO. Among the presentations was an overview of future environmental security roles for the military and why these roles will be increasing.
Source:
Conference “Challenging uncertainties: the future of the Netherlands’ armed forces” http://www.clingendael.nl/cscp/events/20081216/

Likelihood of Climate Lawsuits Increasing
Advances in environmental science and computer modeling are improving estimates of human-influenced climate change and its influence on extreme weather events. Some experts suggest that the likelihood of related litigation might increase, as sectors and companies that are considered serious contributors to climate change or promoters of public misinformation could be held liable for climate-change effects. Beyond Adaptation, a paper by WWF UK, notes that a new UN framework to compensate victims of climate change in developing countries is needed and suggests an international compensation fund to be set up by some future UN treaty.
Sources:
Science paves way for climate lawsuits http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/dec/09/oil-business-climate-change-flooding
Beyond Adaptation http://www.wwf.org.uk/research_centre/index.cfm?uNewsID=2505
New U.N. pact may be needed for climate victims: WWF http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L3148346.htm

Water and Environmental Research Center to Be Established in UAE
The UAE University in Abu Dhabi has been funded to create a Water Environment Centre of Excellence. The research generated will be published, contributing to solving water- and environment-related problems in the UAE as well as in neighboring countries. Mohsin Al Sharif, head of the new center, said that one of the objectives is also to review UAE water-related policies.
Sources:
3 UAEU Centers of Excellence win NRF funding http://www.uaeu.ac.ae/news/20081110_nrf_3_uaeu_centers.shtml
Universities to gain four new centres for academic research http://gulfnews.com/nation/Education/10267860.html

Japan Sets up e-Waste Collection Locations to Recycle Rare Metals
Odate city in northern Akita Prefecture, Japan has set up collection boxes for people to get rid of old cell phones, hair driers, and other electronic devices to recover rare metals. The demand for rare metals is increasing with the growth of high tech products. Hence, availability and future cost of indispensable rare metals is of increasing concern. This collection of e-waste and recycling is spreading throughout Japan with the help of subsidies from the Environment Ministry.
Source:
City takes lead in recycling rare metals http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200812200045.html

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications
New Protection for Plastic Electronics
Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have developed a new form of self-healing for the metal oxide thin film layers that protect the plastic covering for a wide variety of electronic devices, e.g., displays, low-cost solar cells, and chemical- and pressure-sensitive sensors. These layers are subject to damage from moisture and flexing. The technique uses a nanocomposite material that combines a water-degradable polymer and a titanium tetrachloride healing agent, which act together to seal minute defects in the protective layer.
Source:
Self-healing protection for plastic electronics http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=8555.php

Reusable Hydrogels Detect and Remove Heavy Metals from Contaminated Water
Scientists at the Department of Chemistry, University of California at Berkeley developed a group of low cost protein-cross-linked hydrogels, incorporating pea metallothioneins, for the detection and sequestration of heavy metal ions, such as cadmium, in contaminated water. The compounds shrink upon absorbing metals, providing a detection capability, and can be reused after the bound metal ions are removed by chelation. The researchers are also working on applying the same technique to other types of pollutants.
Source:
Berkeley chemists pioneer low-cost water testing devices http://www.physorg.com/news149261463.html

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
Nanoparticles Increase Solar Cell Light-gathering Efficiency by 30%
Work led by Kylie Catchpole, now at the Australian National University, has resulted in the discovery that a thin film of metallic nanoparticles applied to the surface of a solar cell can increase light capture for long-wavelength light by a factor of more than ten, and improve overall cell light-gathering efficiency by 30%.
Source:
Enhancing solar cells with nanoparticles http://www.physorg.com/news149266955.html

Light Emitting Diodes Offer Big Environmental Advantages
A recent paper in the special energy issue of Optics Express summarizes the tremendous environmental advantages LEDs offer over other lighting means, and predicts “a revolution in energy-efficient, environmentally-sound, and powerfully-flexible lighting”. They are 5 to 20 times as energy-efficient as other light sources, and their manufacture does not use toxic materials such as mercury. They also offer controllable color and polarization. Researchers in materials science and engineering at the University of Florida produced organic LEDs in various colors that achieve efficiencies of 50 lumens/watt (with hopes for 100 lumens/w or higher, eventually).
Sources:
Transcending the replacement paradigm of solid-state lighting: http://www.opticsinfobase.org/oe/issue.cfm?volume=16&issue=26
The Green (and blue, red, and white) lights of the future http://www.physorg.com/news148708739.html
Efficient organic LEDs a step toward better lights http://www.physorg.com/news149258474.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues
Dangers Increase from “Amateur” Genetic Engineering; the Biological Weapons Convention to be Updated
Scientists from the Vanderbilt Medical Center and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have used genetic engineering techniques to produce a new SARS-like virus affecting bats and transmittable to mice, in order to study such transferences. Some scientists believe these kinds of experiments might trigger new biosecurity problems. “Garage” bioengineering development (“synthetic biology”) could be done by amateur scientists. The required knowledge is now widely available and affordable equipment is easy to obtain. So far no instances of terrorists exploiting this field have been reported. Another possibility is the accidental release of harmful new organisms into the environment by well-intentioned amateur experimenters.
In the meantime, the annual session of States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention reiterated the need to improve biosafety and biosecurity, increase awareness, and develop codes of conduct for preventing the misuse of bioscience and biotechnology research. The Convention may be updated at the next review conference to be held in 2011 to cover potential new threats. After the meeting, Russia announced that it backs a legally binding mechanism for enforcing the Biological Weapons Convention. [See also ETC Report Warns of the Threat of Synthetic Biology and Calls for Global Regulations in January 2007 and other items in previous environmental security reports on this theme.]
Sources:
Amateurs are trying genetic engineering at home http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081225/ap_on_sc/do_it_yourself_dna
Man-made SARS virus spreads fear http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/manmade-sars-virus-spreads-fear/1394539.aspx?storypage=1
Analysts Debate Bioterror Risks http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20081211_8851.php
Informal Advance Report of the Meeting of States Parties http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B8954/%28httpAssets%29/C70514F42F7BF072C1257516005B1E7A/$file/BWC+MSP+2008+Advance+Report.pdf
The 2008 Meeting of States Parties (BioWeapons Prevention Project daily reports) http://www.cbw-events.org.uk/MSP08-combined.pdf
Russia Backs Legally Binding Oversight System for Biological Weapons Convention http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20081209_7554.php

Progress in the Elimination of Chemical Weapons Stockpiles
Participants to the 13th session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction held at The Hague, December 2-5, 2008, noted progress as nearly half of the stockpiles of chemical warfare materials declared by possessor States have been verifiably destroyed, it and reiterated the call that the actions be completed by the required April 29, 2012 deadline. Two countries have finished the operations, work continues in India, Russia and U.S., and Japan has begun the cleanup of chemical weapons abandoned in China during World War II, while Libya has yet to begin the process. The U.S. has already acknowledged that it can’t meet the deadline and there are also considerable doubts about Russia and Japan meeting it. One of the main issues considered at the meeting was the 2009 budget for the convention’s verification and monitoring body, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. [See also Problems with Destruction of Chemical Weapons and Potential Proliferation in October 2007, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Thirteenth Session of the Conference of the States Parties http://www.opcw.org/documents-reports/conference-of-the-states-parties/thirteenth-session/
Ban calls for continued efforts to eliminate scourge of chemical weapons http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29166&Cr=disarmament&Cr1=chemical+weapon
U.N. Chief Promotes Chemical Disarmament http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20081203_7682.php

New Nuclear Disarmament Initiatives
Global Zero, a New Initiative for Promoting Global Nuclear Disarmament
Global Zero is a new effort launched by international leaders––including former heads of state and top diplomatic and defense officials––to eliminate all nuclear weapons worldwide within 25 years. It wants to encourage the international community to establish safeguards and audits for disarmament, using dialogs and strategies different from past approaches. The group plans to organize a global meeting in January 2010, prior to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Conference to be held in May 2010. Meantime, the EU also aims to be a leader in nuclear disarmament, suggesting new measures, including a worldwide prohibition on nuclear tests. [See also Nuclear Safety in September 2007 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Global Zero http://www.globalzero.org
A world without nuclear weapons http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/08/nuclear-nuclearpower
World leaders try to ban nuclear weapons http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/12/06/america/NA-US-Eliminating-Nuclear-Weapons.php
EU pushes for cuts in global nuclear arsenal http://euobserver.com/9/27260/?rk=1

Central Asia Becomes Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone
With the Kazakh Senate approving the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone treaty, and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev expected to ratify it shortly, Central Asia–– including Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — becomes a nuclear weapons-free zone, with the parties banning the possession as well as stationing of other nations’ nuclear weapons on their territories. [See also Nuclear-Free Zones Continue to Grow in October 2002 environmental security report.]
Source:
Central Asian Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Clears Final Hurdle http://gsn.nti.org/gsn/nw_20081211_1387.php

The Cluster Munitions Treaty Signed by 94 Nations
94 nations signed the new international treaty banning cluster munitions at a special conference in Oslo December 3–4, 2008. The agreement will become binding international law six months after 30 signatories have ratified it. Four countries have already ratified it: the Holy See; Ireland; Norway, and Sierra Leone. The treaty forbids states parties to produce, trade, and use cluster munitions, as well as requiring them to discourage other nations from using cluster munitions in joint military operations. Dozens of countries that signed are stockpilers, former producers, and users of the weapon, including 18 of 26 NATO nations, such as the UK, France, and Germany. The number of signatories is expected to increase rapidly. [See also The Convention on Cluster Munitions Opens for Signature on December 2nd and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
94 Nations Sign Global Ban on Cluster Munitions http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/12/04/94-nations-sign-global-ban-cluster-munitions
Dozens of nations sign up to UN-backed treaty banning use of cluster bombs http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29180&Cr=disarmament&Cr1
Six EU states fail to sign cluster bomb ban http://euobserver.com/9/27231/?rk=1
Collateral damage. America won’t sign a treaty banning cluster bombs. But can it use them now? http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12780720

EU Updates the REACH System, and WEEE and RoHS Directives
The EU Member States agreed to align EU legislation on classification, labeling and packaging of substances and mixtures to the UN Globally Harmonized System, as part of a global effort to protect humans and the environment from hazardous effects of chemicals. The new regulation will complement the EU REACH system, which is already in force.
The European Commission proposed a revision of the Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directives and restrictions on: the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS) for greater coherence with other EU regulations (such as the labeling system, the waste framework, and REACH), easier implementation and enforcement, and higher but more flexible targets. Concerning the WEEE directive, the current collection target of 4 kg per person per year would be replaced by a mandatory collection target equal to 65% of the average weight of electrical and electronic equipment placed on the market over the two previous years in each Member State. [See also EC Enforces Compliance of National Legislation with EU Environmental Regulations in October 2007 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
EU Member States approve world-wide rules for labelling of chemicals http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1844&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Environment: Commission proposes revised laws on recycling and use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1878&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

EU Renewable Energy Policy becomes Legally Binding
The targets set by the EU 20/20/20 energy policy become legally binding for all member States by 2020. They are to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, establish a 20% share for renewable energy, and improve energy efficiency by 20%. EU member states have to present their national action plans by June 2010, and report on progress every two years. [See also EU Leaders Support the 20/20/20 Energy Plan in March 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Climate change: Commission welcomes final adoption of Europe's climate and energy package http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1998&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Greens hail EU deal on renewable energy http://euobserver.com/9/27269/?rk=1

Somali Piracy is also an Eco-terrorism Threat
The rise of piracy in Somalia’s waters raised serious environmental and potential eco-terrorism concerns after the hijacking on November 15, 2008 of the large Saudi oil tanker, Sirius Star, reported to contain 2 million barrels of crude oil. While piracy may not present a direct threat to countries’ national security, its consequences could have widespread effects. Nevertheless, the integrity of the international efforts to tackle piracy in the region (the UN Security Council resolution, the EU one-year “Atalanta” anti-piracy mission, and international coalition forces patrolling the region) is seriously undermined by allegations that the EU and Asian countries are unwilling or unable to stop companies that have been dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast for many years. The UN special envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, has in the past few months repeatedly warned about illegal fishing and toxic dumping by European firms off Somalia’s coast. [See also Toxic Waste Disposal of Global Growing Concern in September 2006 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
EU firms should stop toxic dumping off Somalia http://euobserver.com/9/27244/?rk=1
Somalia's piracy problem is everyone's problem http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/1208/p09s01-coop.html

Measures Needed to Quiet Underwater Noise
The UNEP Convention on Migratory Species conference held in Rome noted that human activities are making the marine environment noisier, as well as more acidic. The report Ocean Noise: Turn it Down by the International Fund for Animal Welfare states that low frequency underwater noise has doubled every 10 years over the past 50 years, and the number of ships has tripled and is expected to double again by 2025. An alliance of wildlife groups warned that this is disturbing marine mammals that use sound to communicate and navigate and called upon governments to adopt regulations that impose quieter off-shore equipment and ship engines and less intrusive sonar technologies by navies. The EU submitted a draft resolution suggesting a wide range of measures, including noise protection areas, better monitoring of noise levels, databases with noise origins, and a set of guidelines for better managing noise sources.
In the meantime, a three-year lawsuit against the U.S. Navy by environmental groups concerning the Navy’s use of sonar in oceans has been settled in a California court, requiring more extended research on the effects of sonar on whales and other marine mammals. (Note: this is a separate case from the November 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that lifts restrictions on the Navy’s use of sonar off the coast of California.) [See also U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Navy in Sonar Case in November 2008 and other previous environmental security reports on this issue.]
Sources:
Noisy, Acid Oceans Increasingly Harmful to Whales http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2008/2008-12-03-03.asp
Man-made noise in world's seas threatens wildlife http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE4B26P920081203
Settlement Reached Between Navy And Environmental Groups Over Sonar Use http://www.allheadlinenews.com/articles/7013545335

Climate Change
Scientific Evidences and Natural Disasters
The UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee and the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction noted that the number of disasters doubled over the past 20 years, reaching more than 400 annually and it is expected that the intensity, frequency, duration, and extent of weather-related hazards will rise over the next 20 years around the world. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted that in the period 1988-2007, over 75% of disasters were climate-related, and accounted for 45% of deaths and 80% of the economic losses caused by natural hazards.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, in 2008 the average temperature on Earth was 0.31°C higher than the 1961–1990 levels, with serious changes in climate patterns, such as the warmest winter in more than 100 years in Scandinavia, the longest hot summer on record in parts of Australia, and unusual cold for a large part of Eurasia. Some parts of the U.S., India, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Bangladesh were the nations worst hit by the devastating effects of flooding and cyclones as a result of climate change, with tens of thousands of people losing their homes and more than 10 million displaced. The re-insurance company Munich Re said that 2008 was one of the most devastating years in terms of natural disasters, in both human and economic terms.
The British Met Office warns that the average global temperature for 2009 is expected to be more than 0.4°C above the long-term average, despite the La Niña phenomenon. NASA estimates that a 1°C increase in ocean surface temperatures could trigger a 45% increase in thunderhead formation, potentially increasing the frequency of severe tropical storms and their devastating impacts on developing countries by 6% in the next decade.
Other studies warn about climate change in different parts of the world: Latin America and the Caribbean might experience more destructive hurricanes and melting glaciers; New Zealand is threatened by drought, while the Arctic might have reached the point of irreversible climate change with temperatures rising much faster than anywhere else in the world.

Food and Water Security
FAO’s Crop Prospects and Food Situation report warns that some 33 countries around the world are in need of external food assistance as a result of crop failures, conflict or other forms of food insecurity and high domestic food prices. Although cereal harvests in 2008 reached record highs, with wheat and rice production at over 2 billion tons––more than a 5% rise over 2007, most increases were achieved in richer nations.
Martin Parry, former co-chair of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group and lead author of its 2007 report, calculated that the more the year of greenhouse gas emissions reduction is delayed, the higher will be the negative impact on food and water supply, health, coastal areas, and other ecosystems. His study reveals that even in the best-case scenario, 1.7 billion people will face water shortage due to climate change already taking place. This could potentially reach 3.2 billion, if action is delayed. Similarly, crop productivity will be affected through more frequent and more severe droughts, floods, and storms.
In Africa, as 21 countries are affected by food crises, governments should double the percentage of national budgets allocated to increase farm output, improve water sharing, and adopt policies to adapt to climate change, agreed ministers attending a water conference in Libya. Africa’s population of 967 million, of whom 53% are under the age of 20, is forecast to reach 2 billion in 2050. The UNDP Poverty and Environment Initiative implemented in Malawi and other 10 African countries aims to address food security by including environmental objectives such as combating soil erosion, deforestation, and water pollution in development programs.
Low Carbon, High Growth: Latin American Responses to Climate Change estimates that without adequate actions, climate change might reduce farm revenues by 12%–50% by 2100. Climate Change and Food Security in Pacific Island Countries, a report by FAO, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, and the University of the South Pacific, notes that the region’s food security is seriously affected by natural disasters. Therefore, says Alexander Müller, FAO Assistant Director-General, Natural Resources Management and Environment Department, “integrating climate change adaptation into national policies, strategies, programmes and budgets related to agriculture, forestry and fisheries should become a major priority.” In the Solomon Islands, food security and livelihood of villagers of Luaniua and Pelau, are already affected by continuous tidal surge onto the land, reports the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Disaster Management Office.
The UK set up the Council of Food Policy Advisers in order to address the growing concern of food security and find strategies to feed the world’s growing population. Professor Lang, member of the newly formed Council, lists “new fundamentals” that will shape future food production, including: oil and energy price volatility; water scarcity, through auditing foods’ water requirements; biodiversity replacement and enhancement by changing practices of land use and food growing; urbanization; and complete use of produce independently of appearance.
Global warming and melting of Tibetan glaciers might produce 15 million “environmental refugees” in South Asia and conflicts within Punjab and Sindh, warns Simi Kamal, member of the Stockholm-based Global Water Partnership Technical Committee, adding that water distribution is political in nature and needs to be resolved in order to avoid conflict.

Migration
An estimated 6 million people a year could be displaced by climate change effects, meaning that by 2050, the numbers might be between 200 million and 250 million, putting heavy pressure on aid agencies to meet basic needs, said L. Craig Johnstone, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees. At the Poznan climate change conference, discussions concerning environmentally induced migration focused on helping countries to address the problem within their borders by implementing climate change adaptation measures, rather than considering international aspects. Nevertheless, the European Parliament declaration adopted in June 2008 calling for a legal framework for the protection of the victims of climate events and other similar efforts of the global community increase the likelihood of addressing the international dimension of environmentally induced migration.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Researchers say that the amount of ice flowing out of Greenland this summer is nearly three times more than that lost last year.

Rising Sea Levels
A compilation by a team of researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder shows that when factoring in thermal expansion due to warming waters, total sea level rise could reach about 1–2 meters by 2100. They considered glaciological assumptions for sea rise expected from Greenland, Antarctica and the world’s smaller glaciers and ice caps. Along the same lines, the Abrupt Climate Change report by the US Geological Survey found that sea level rise could exceed forecasts, possibly reaching 150 cm by the end of the century, an estimate which itself might “likely need to be revised upwards” because it doesn’t fully count the ice flow processes. Jim Hansen, of NASA, also says that most estimates of sea level rise are too conservative, since climate system feedback could quickly accelerate ice melt, leading to a runaway collapse.
At the Poznan climate conference, a group of 43 small island states, saying that rising seas could wipe them off the map, called for tougher goals for emissions reductions and limiting global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C (2.7° Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, which is far lower than the EU suggested 2°C . “We are not prepared to sign a suicide agreement that causes small island states to disappear,” said Selwin Hart of Barbados, a coordinator of the alliance of small island states, referring to a too weak climate change agreement.
A sudden sea swell hit Papua New Guinea in December, affecting some 32,000 peoples and their livelihood. A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team went to the area to assess first aid needs.

Computer Modeling
Four models by the Met Office Hadley Centre on climate projections show the possible range of temperature rise by 2100 as a function of actions in greenhouse gas emissions. While all models show that some global warming by the end of the century is inevitable because of the CO2 already in the atmosphere, they outline the direct dependency of temperatures rise on actions to cut emissions. The most optimistic scenario shows global temperature rise of 2–2.8°C with the condition that actions start in 2010 and emissions decrease 47% by 2050 at a sustained rate of 3% per year. In the worst-case (no action) scenario, temperatures could rise by 5.5–7.1°C, with significant and irreversible impacts. The two middle-case scenarios, based on slow emissions reductions, show possible temperature rises of 2.9–3.8ºC in the case of actions starting in 2010, and 4–5.2ºC if action is delayed until 2030.

Adaptation
The Least Developed Countries Fund, established under the UNFCCC and managed by the Global Environment Facility to help the poorest countries implement urgent projects to adapt to climate change, might need $1 billion, said Boni Biagini, who runs the fund. So far, only $172 million was pledged to the fund. Nevertheless, the Central Emergency Response Fund, set up in 2006 to help in case of natural and man-made disasters, has surpassed its annual target, reaching $452.5 million, with some of the 101 contributing nations significantly increasing their donations for 2009, announced the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Meanwhile, at the Poznan climate change conference, it was agreed that the board of the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund would have the legal capacity to grant developing countries direct access to about $60 million to help them cope with the effects of global warming. However, the suggestion by some delegates to increase from 2% to 3% the share of proceeds from the Clean Development Mechanism that finances the Adaptation Fund was rejected. The UN estimates that $86 billion per year might be needed by 2015 for poor countries to adapt to global warming, while some aid groups are calling for at least $50 billion.
At the Third Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, government officials from more than 40 Asian countries discussed partnerships and regional cooperation for disaster preparedness and early warning systems. The Asia-Pacific region is the most populous and also most affected by disasters in terms of human and economic impacts, according to the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. Greater investment in disaster risk reduction is crucial for the region’s development and to reduce relief costs, since studies show that $1 invested in disaster preparedness saves between $4 and $7 in humanitarian relief and reconstruction costs after a disaster happens.
The UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) organized disaster-awareness training programs in Russia for members of the Commonwealth of Independent States and in the Middle East. In 2009 it will do so in the West African region. All countries, which join the system, must receive the training. Since its inception in 1993, UNDAC has deployed 183 missions to assist countries affected by disasters.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
Over 11,000 participants from 190 nations attended the conference held in Poznan, Poland, December 1-12, 2008 to advance negotiations for a post-2012 climate change regime.. Despite little progress on filling in the gap between rich countries’ rhetoric and real commitments for addressing climate change (partly due to the global financial conditions), procedural decisions were made and there were commitments from governments for negotiating an effective new UN climate treaty and response to climate change to be agreed at the Copenhagen meeting in December 2009. A first draft of the text would be presented at a UNFCCC conference to be held in June 2009, in Bonn. Also, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that he is considering convening a summit focused on climate change at the time of the General Assembly in September 2009. While a few industrialized countries openly undermined progress, most developing countries came with clear and constructive proposals. Progress was made in the area of technology transfer with the endorsement of the Poznan Strategic Programme on Technology Transfer that aims to increase investments for mitigation and adaptation technologies in developing countries and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute for Research on Global Warming Effects and adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel on climate-change issues, says that in order to avoid a disastrous climate change, global CO2 emissions would need to be reduced 50% by 2050, meaning an 80%–90% decrease for industrial countries.

Sources: (a selection of sources)
UN, aid partners issue call for global efforts to slash climate-induced disaster risks http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29175&Cr=disaster&Cr1=climate
2009 To Be One Of Warmest Years On Record: Researchers http://planetark.org/wen/51066
Warming fuels rise in tropical storms http://www.canberratimes.com.au/news/local/news/general/warming-fuels-rise-in-tropical-storms/1395641.aspx
The accidental environmentalists http://www.economist.com/world/americas/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12775599
Crop Prospects and Food Situation, December 2008 http://www.fao.org/docrep/011/ai476e/ai476e00.htm
Water To Combat Hunger http://planetark.org/wen/50955
Food needs 'fundamental rethink' http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7795652.stm
‘Nearly 15 million environmental refugees likely’ http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=154569
Climate change refugees seek a new international deal http://www.climatechangecorp.com/content.asp?contentid=5871
Greenland's Glaciers Losing Ice Faster This Year Than Last Year http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Greenland_Glaciers_Losing_Ice_Faster_This_Year_Than_Last_Year_999.html
Ice sheet at risk http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/dec/09/poznan-ice-sheet-sea-level-greenland-arctic
UN disaster team arrives in flood-stricken Papua New Guinea http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29394&Cr=papua&Cr1=ocha
Sea level could rise by 150cm, US scientists warn http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/dec/16/climatechange-scienceofclimatechange
Abrupt Climate Change. Final Report, Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.4 http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap3-4/final-report/default.htm
Climate change models. Likely effects of four emission reduction models http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/research/hadleycentre/news/emissions_270908.pdf
Asian nations focus on disaster risk reduction as UN-backed meeting opens in Malaysia http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29149&Cr=Natural+disaster&Cr1=
Slow Progress in Poznan While Climate Threats Mount http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2008/2008-12-13-01.asp
Time to prepare for disasters caused by climate change is now, says UN http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29154&Cr=Disaster&Cr1=Climate

Nanotechnology Safety Issues

New Nanotube-based Design Yields More Sensitive Pathogen Detector
Hiroshi Matsui, professor of bionanotechnology at Hunter College in New York, and collaborators from the Nanobiosensors and Molecular Nanobiophysics Group at the Research Center on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Spain, developed a new design for lab-on-a-chip pathogen (e.g., bacteria and viruses) detection devices, using an AC-driven peptide nanotube capacitance probe to increase sensitivity of the element. It appears that the design can be scaled up to provide multiple-threat detection in a single device, although there are challenging problems with registration of a number of electrodes.
Source:
Peptide nanotubes for highly sensitive pathogen sensors chips http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=8464.php

National Research Council Calls for Better Nanotech Risk Assessment
The National Research Council issued a new report, Review of Federal Strategy for Nanotechnology-Related Environmental, Health, and Safety Research, that, “finds serious weaknesses in the government's plan for research on the potential health and environmental risks posed by nanomaterials”, and emphasizes that, “An effective national plan for identifying and managing potential risks is essential to the successful development and public acceptance of nanotechnology-enabled products”.
Sources:
Federal Research Plan Inadequate to Shed Light on Health and Environmental Risks Posed by Nanomaterials (News release) http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=12559
Review of Federal Strategy for Nanotechnology-Related Environmental, Health, and Safety Research report http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12559

UN Report Assesses Nanotech and Climate Change
The Institute of Advanced Studies of the United Nations University issued a new report, Innovation in Responding to Climate Change: Nanotechnology, Ocean Energy and Forestry, that, “offers three innovative solutions in responding to climate change, namely nanotechnology, ocean energy and forestry”, critically assesses, “the opportunities and challenges that each type of innovation presents”, and, “addresses the question why these innovations––despite their large potential to reduce emissions, ocean energy alone could cover the world’s electricity needs–– have not yet reached the stage of mass commercialization.”
Sources:
Innovation in Responding to Climate Change: Nanotechnology, Ocean Energy and Forestry http://www.ias.unu.edu/sub_page.aspx?catID=8&ddlID=738

Tunisian Nanotech Association Formed
The creation of the Tunisian Association of Nanotechnology has been announced. The Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development noted, "...the seminal importance of the use of nanotechnologies on the prevention of pollution, water desalination, and the environment", and cautioned that the use of nanotechnology should go, "hand in hand with risk assessment measures to ensure a sound use of these new technologies." According to allAfrica.com, he also announced that the Tunis Environmental Centre of Environmental Technologies (CITET) would open its laboratories to members of the association
Sources:
Meridian Nanotechnology and Development News, Headlines for: 12/19/2008
Tunisia: Environmental Use of Nanotechnologies Highlighted in Tunis Seminar http://allafrica.com/stories/200812180921.html

EU to Fund Nanoparticle Environmental Risk Study
The EU is launching a new project, ENNSATOX, led by Dr Andrew Nelson, a chemist at the University of Leeds, to investigate the environmental impact of nanoparticles found in everyday products, such as suntan cream, including the relationship between the physical structure of nanoparticles and their toxicity. The project has been awarded €3 million, and will involve scientists from five countries.
This new project is especially significant since research has not yet settled the question of whether metallic compound nanoparticles in preparations, like sunscreens, applied to the skin constitute a health risk. According to a published report, an inquiry by the New South Wales Parliament in Australia has, “concluded that nano versions of existing chemicals should be assessed as new chemicals and recommended that ‘ingredient labelling requirements for sunscreens and cosmetics include the identification of nano-scale materials’ ". The same report states, “The [Therapeutic Goods Administration] estimates about 70 per cent of sunscreens with titanium dioxide and 30 per cent with zinc oxide have these materials in a nanoparticle form.” The ENNSATOX project will pay particular attention to this family of compounds.
Sources:
ENNSATOX: http://insciences.org/article.php?article_id=770
Sunscreen danger: Holidaying feds leave bathers waiting for suspect sunscreen list http://www.theage.com.au/national/holidaying-feds-leave-bathers-waiting-for-suspect-sunscreen-list-20081227-75x6.html?page=-1

European Nanotech Safety Proceedings Published
The proceedings of the European Commission Dialogue Workshop on Nanotechnology: Safety for Success, held in Brussels in October, have been published online, covering a number of topics in nanotech regulation and risk assessment.
Sources:
2nd Annual Nanotechnology Safety for Success Dialogue Workshop, 2-3 October 2008 http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/ev_20081002_en.htm
Nano. Safety for Success Dialogue report http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/documents/ev_20081002_rep_en.pdf

EuroNanoForum 2009 To Be Held in Prague, June 2-5, 2009
The fourth international nanotechnology conference, EuroNanoForum 2009, an official event of the EU, will be held in Prague, June 2-5, 2009, with the topic “Nanotechnology for a Sustainable Economy”. Among the individual sessions will be “Environmental applications and implications of nanotechnology” and “Nanotechnology: education, standardization and social perception of benefits and risks”.
Source:
EuroNanoForum 2009 http://www.euronanoforum2009.eu/

Back to Top


November 2008

New UN-linked Body Proposed to Protect Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
As the IPCC helped to put global climate change on the world agenda, a new organization is proposed to do the same for biodiversity and ecosystem services. Building on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the Consultative Process Towards an International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity, the proposed Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) would bring together the policymaking and scientific communities from the biodiversity and ecosystem areas to provide timely information to support decision making. The framework for the new UN-linked body was discussed at an ad hoc intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meeting held November 10-12, 2008 in Putrajaya, Malaysia, attended by over 175 participants from nearly 100 countries and more than 20 organizations. The meeting’s results will be presented at the 25th session of the UNEP Governing Council.
Sources:
Ad hoc Intergovernmental and Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services http://ipbes.net/en/index.aspx
Summary of the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental and Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services http://www.iisd.ca/ymb/ipbes/html/ymbvol158num1e.html
How Best to Put 'Nature-Based Assets' at the Top of the International Political Agenda Focus of Malaysia Meeting http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=550&ArticleID=5972&l=en

International Conference on Military’s Role in Climate Change
The Importance of Military Organizations in Protecting the Climate 2008 conference, attended by over 100 military and environmental experts from 25 countries, plus the EU and UNEP, discussed the security implications of climate change and the role of the military community in addressing it. There was consensus that climate change is a conflict multiplier with global security implications such as: “creating new geopolitical areas of concern; inhibiting the ability to project power; jeopardizing coalition partnerships; increasing operations other than war; overloading UN peacekeeping deployments; and requiring urgent actions by military and civilian leaders and the public” [1]. Therefore military organizations should increase their role in protecting the climate by showing leadership in increasing energy efficiency through procurement and operations, R&D centers of excellence, and transfer of knowledge. Several best practices were discussed and a project was proposed for a global public-private partnership to cooperate in efforts to collect and destroy ozone-depleting substances. Some “visionary military climate strategies” included “self-sustaining energy at the battlefront; a Carbon Non-Proliferation Treaty; and cooperation on Arctic passage & resources” [2]. The conference, which is the fifth in a series that began in 1991, was held in Paris, November 3-5, co-hosted by the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development and collaborators.
Sources:
The Importance of Military Organizations in Protecting the Climate: 2008 http://www.igsd.org//conferences/Paris2008.php
[1, 2] Conference Conclusions and Opportunities for Co-operation. Stephen O. Andersen, EPA Climate Liaison to the US Department of Defense http://www.igsd.org//conferences/Paris2008/3%20Andersen%20conclusions.pdf
Key role for military in climate change, US experts say http://www.euractiv.com/en/climate-change/key-role-military-climate-change-us-experts/article-177141

Arab Mediterranean Governments’ Environmental Security Cooperation
The conference Environmental Security in the Arab and Mediterranean sphere: Role of the Civil Society was organized by the Association of the Mediterranean Network for Sustained Development (ARREMED) and the Arab Environment and Development Network (RAED), in Tunis. Attended by high-ranking diplomats and environment and security experts, the conference discussed cooperation and common policies for addressing environmental and human security in the Arab Mediterranean spheres. “Governments should unify policies on environmental security and strengthen partnership in matter of scientific research between Arab countries and prepare a survey of possible risks to evaluate their impact and their cost,” stipulates the conference declaration. Highlighted was that tackling environmental issues is imperative mainly in conflict-threatened regions. Along the same lines, the Arab Environment: Future Challenges report launched at the annual conference of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development held in Manama, Bahrain, recommends urgent action in four major areas: fresh water scarcity, desertification, air quality, and marine pollution, all of which will likely worsen due to climate change.
Sources:
Environmental experts advocate common Arab-Mediterranean vision http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2008/11/11/feature-01
Arab, Mediterranean governments urged to boost cooperation in environmental security http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2008-11/10/content_7188556.htm
Regional conference on environmental security opens http://www.tap.info.tn/en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=23393&Itemid=255
Arab Environment: Future Challenges http://www.afedonline.org/afedreport/
State of the Arab environment 2008: 'A lot has been achieved, but much more is still needed' http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=97278

An International Energy and Environmental Security Foresight Network
The Energy and Environmental Security Ecosystem (EESE) is a project initiated by the U.S. Energy Department’s intelligence and counterintelligence unit, for compiling and sharing intelligence and improving understanding of possible security implications of energy and environmental security issues. It will involve a coalition of countries and will consist of a members-only website for selected government, industry and expert representatives, and eventual face-to-face meetings. “The character of the energy and environmental security challenge requires a radically different, more globally systemic process,” says a report by Natural Resources Canada, mentioning the EESE project. Countries involved or interested include Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.S. Others may join later. The project is to be launched in the first half of 2009.
Source:
Canada may join U.S.-led energy, environment security project http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5idqDzQ-rStLqmwfoW2VXiMY7E7UQ
Global Intelligence; Developing a Globally Networked Intelligence Capacity (power point presentation) http://www.dniopensource.org/Conference/files/Carol%20Dumaine%20FINAL%2009-12-08.ppt
Support Grows for Integrating Environment, Energy, Economy, Security in U.S. Government http://newsecuritybeat.blogspot.com/2008/11/support-grows-for-integrating.html

Vietnam Cracking Down on Environmental Violators
Over the past several months, Vietnamese authorities have taken strong measures against some environmental polluters, and the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment has ordered the government to get tough on polluters, levied heavy fines on one factory, and threatened criminal prosecutions. The country is having a hard time, however, in balancing the need for cleaning up its environment with the necessity of attracting and keeping industrial development.
Source:
Vietnam Cracks Down on Polluters http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1851331,00.html

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications
Autonomous Robots May Need Environmental Concerns
Current work on intelligent battlefield robots by Ronald C. Arkin at Georgia Tech is focused on building into their programming regard for such elements as rules of engagement and the Geneva Convention.
Source:
A Soldier, Taking Orders From Its Ethical Judgment Center http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/25/science/25robots.html?_r=1

New Technique May Solve Wind Farm Interference with Radars
Cambridge Consultants Ltd. of Cambridge UK and Boston MA is working on the development of a holographic-infill radar, which aims to solve the problem of wind turbine interference with air traffic radars. The system works by covering the area of the turbines with a short-range radar “patch” with a different characteristic. A test has shown that the method provides a Doppler effect for a target moving on the ground different from one produced by a turbine, a distinction, which it is believed would enable a full-scale system to detect an aircraft intrusion into a wind farm interference area. Flying tests are planned.
Source:
Cambridge Consultants Ltd. http://www.cambridgeconsultants.com/news_pr202.html
Is it plane? How to make radar work in wind farms http://www.economist.com/science/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12551574

New Detection and Cleanup Techniques
Variable Heating Provides New Flexibility for Gas Sensors
Researchers Barani Raman and associates at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new “sensitive detector technology capable of distinguishing hundreds of different chemical compounds with a pattern-recognition module that mimics the way animals recognize odors”, according to a NIST announcement. The current unit comprises eight types of sensors in the form of oxide films deposited on the surfaces of 16 microheaters that allow the sensors to be heated to 350 temperature points between 150°C and 500°C, and “relies on changes in electrical conductance in the sensing film to detect the presence of adsorbed gases. Temperature changes may be used to create response ‘fingerprints’ for different gases.” The new technology is better than previous devices at recognizing previously un-sensed compounds and at dealing with sensor wear over time.
Source:
Sniffing Out a Better Chemical Sensor http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/tb2008_1028.htm#nose

New Material Stores Methane in Dry Form
An inexpensive dry material that will absorb large quantities of methane is being developed by Prof. Andy Cooper, Director of the Centre for Materials Discovery at the University of Liverpool’s Department of Chemistry. The technique is to form methane hydrate by mixing water droplets with a special form of silica that stops them from coalescing, forming a ‘dry water’ powder that absorbs large quantities of methane rapidly at around 0° C.
Source:
Chemists at the University of Liverpool have developed a way of converting methane gas into a powder form in order to make it more transportable. http://www.physorg.com/news146398407.html

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
Compressed Air Car May Offer Environmental Advantages
Zero Pollution Motors of New Paltz, NY is developing a compressed air vehicle planned for US production in 2010. The car may be viewed as an analogue of an electric car, with the battery replaced by a tank filled with air previously compressed by any electric energy source. The air runs a 2-, 4- or 6-cylinder engine, replacing the pressure otherwise generated by the explosion of fossil fuel vapors in the cylinders.
Source:
Pure Driving: The Revolutionary Compressed Air Vehicle http://zeropollutionmotors.us

Proposed Uniform Device-Charging Scheme Could Yield Environmental Benefits
Green Plug of San Ramon California seeks adoption of its environment-friendly charging technology for battery-operated devices. The technique depends on a “smart” universal plug-in-the-wall charger that communicates with a proprietary chip in the attached user device to determine what voltage level to provide to it for recharging. Adoption of this hardware (which would use a single connector configuration) would allow a single multiple-outlet charger to service all portable devices at a given location. In addition to eliminating the proliferation of discarded obsolete chargers into electronic waste dumps, the technology, unlike conventional transformer-type chargers, also uses almost zero power when not actually supplying current.
Sources:
Pulling the Plug on Phantom Power http://www.greenercomputing.com/podcast/2008/11/21/pull-plug-phantom-power
Green Plug: http://www.greenplug.us/index.php

Environmentally Polluting Ash Turned into Concrete-like Structural Material
Prof. Mulalo Doyoyo of Georgia Tech’s School of Civil and Environmental Engineering has developed a new structural material, Cenocell, that is produced by treating with organic chemicals fly ash and bottom ash left over from coal burning systems. It offers high strength and light weight, uses no cement, and could replace concrete, wood and other materials in many applications.
Source:
Strong, lightweight green material could replace concrete, but contains no cement http://www.physorg.com/news146851488.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues
UN Secretary General Reiterates the Link between Environment and Security
On the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, celebrated on November 6, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon renewed the call for “protecting the environment as a pillar of our work for peace.” Reiterating that “The environment and natural resources are crucial in consolidating peace within and between war-torn societies,” he gave the example of the transboundary cooperation in the Great Lakes Region of Africa to manage their shared natural resources, and underlined that lasting peace in war-torn regions like Darfur and Afghanistan is not possible without restoration of the ecosystem to support livelihoods. He noted that although “The natural environment enjoys protection under Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions… this protection is often violated during war and armed conflict.” [See also UN Secretary-General on the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict in October 2007 environmental security reports]
Sources:
A Day to Prevent Exploitation of the Environment in War http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/nov2008/2008-11-06-02.asp
Action on Nature Part of United Nations Approach to Peace, Says Secretary-General, In Message for World Day to Prevent Exploitation of Environment during Conflict http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/sgsm11900.doc.htm
Global pact on explosive remnants of war vital tool to end scourge – Ban http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=28869&Cr=weapon&Cr1=treaty

Forums Discuss Water-Related Security Issues
The conference Water for Peace – Peace for Water: Lessons from the Past and Current Challenges, jointly organized by the UNESCO International Hydrological Programme (IHP), the Chirac Foundation, and the French Agency for Development, addressed two issues: transboundary water and cooperation, and access to water in fragile states. The outcomes [to be available soon] will be considered in the Political Process of the Fifth World Water Forum, to be held in Istanbul, March 15-22, 2009.
The International Conference on Water Resources and Arid Environment and the First Arab Water Forum took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 16-19, 2008 and addressed challenges related to water resources in the area and strategies to address them, including new technologies and Arab water policies for development and water crisis management. In his opening address, Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz warned of possible terrorism targeting water resources and called for a water summit similar to the world economic summits. [See also Unless Water Management Improves, Conflicts over Water Are Inevitable in August 2006 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Water for Peace and Peace for Water Conference http://www.fondationchirac.eu/en/water-for-peace-and-peace-for-water-november-13/
The 3rd International Conference on Water Resources and Arid Environments (2008) And The 1st Arab Water Forum http://www.psipw.org/article_208.html
International Conference on Water Resources and Arid Environment Opened http://www.mofa.gov.sa/Detail.asp?InNewsItemID=86326

The Convention on Cluster Munitions Opens for Signature on December 2nd
The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) will be open for signing at a special conference in Oslo, December 2–4, 2008. The CCM prohibits the use, development, production, stockpiling, and transfer of cluster munitions. It was adopted at the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions in May 2008. [See also International Convention on Cluster Munitions Adopted by 111 Countries in May 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Military Implications:
[Same as previous on this issue] Although the U.S. does not support the Cluster Munitions Convention, it would be wise for the military to make plans for the elimination of cluster bombs, as international support for their prohibition continues to grow.
Source:
Banning Cluster Munitions – making it happen in Oslo http://www.osloccm.no/

EU Arctic Policy Guidelines
The recently published EU ‘Communication’ concerning the Arctic stipulates that the Arctic becomes a priority in the European Northern Dimension policy due to potential implications for European security and stability. It outlines the EU Arctic framework built around three main policy objectives: “1) Protecting and preserving the Arctic in unison with its population; 2) Promoting sustainable use of resources; and 3) Contributing to enhanced Arctic multilateral governance.” [See also European Parliament Adopted Resolution on Arctic Governance in October 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
The EU and the Arctic region http://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/arctic_overview_en.html
Commission green-lights industrialisation of Arctic http://euobserver.com/9/27152/?rk=1
Shippers, oil companies gauge benefits of less Arctic ice http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/603373.html

Outer space policy
Increasing Militarization of Space Might Require Outer Space Treaty Review
The European Space Agency Ministerial meeting in The Hague, Netherlands held November 25–26 adopted a new European space policy, which increases ESA’s role in addressing climate change and global security, setting new objectives and budgets for the agency. The programs include: Earth Observation activities (including the second segment of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security Space Component); the Meteosat 3rd generation and a novel Climate Change Initiative; continued improvement of the Galileo navigation satellite system; and start of a Space Situational Awareness programme to help protect European space systems against space debris and the influence of adverse space weather. [See also Increased Use of Space Technology for Monitoring Environmental Events in September 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
The Space, Security and the Economy report by Economists for Peace and Security warns that the present U.S. space dominance policy threatens an arms race in space with possible devastating consequences for the economy and the growing scientific and commercial uses of space. The report calls for greater transparency in military space spending, and detailed information about government and commercial space activities. Along the same lines, the report From Venus to Mars: the European Union’s steps towards the militarisation of space by the Netherlands-based think-tank Transnational Institute argues that European and international trends to increasingly use space for military rather than civilian objectives might trigger a new arms race; and, therefore, the UN Outer Space Treaty might need to be reconsidered and broadened.
Sources:
Ministerial Council 2008 http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Ministerial_Council/index.html
From Venus to Mars. The European Union’s steps towards the militarisation of space http://www.tni.org/detail_pub.phtml?&know_id=276&menu=11e
Space, Security and the Economy http://www.epsusa.org/publications/papers/spacesecurity.pdf

Experts Call For Global Network to Prevent Asteroid Disasters
The report Asteroid Threats: A Call for Global Response by the Association of Space Explorers presented for consideration by the UN calls for an international contingency plan to counter threats from Near Earth Objects (NEO), such as an asteroid impact on the Earth. It points out that although a possible collision is predictable up to 15 years in advance, developing the technology needed to divert an incoming asteroid may require international cooperation. The UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space will debate the report at its 2009 session to be held in June 2009.
Sources:
Asteroid Threats: A Call for Global Response http://www.space-explorers.org/ATACGR.pdf
Experts call for global network to prevent asteroid disasters http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Experts_call_for_global_network_to_prevent_asteroid_disasters_999.html

U.S. Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Navy in Sonar Case
On November 12th the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to lift restrictions on the Navy’s use of sonar off the coast of California, arguing that national security interests prevail over possible damages that such sonar might cause to whales and dolphins. [See also Sonar Restrictions Debate Continues in January 2008 and other previous environmental security reports on the same issue.]
Sources:
Navy Wins, Whales Lose U.S. Supreme Court Sonar Case http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/nov2008/2008-11-12-10.asp

Climate Change
Scientific Evidences and Natural Disasters
The World Meteorological Organization’s Global Atmosphere Watch reports that climate-warming greenhouse gases reached record levels in 2007. Using the NOAA annual greenhouse gas index, it found that the total warming effect of long-term greenhouse gases has increased by 1.06% compared to 2006 and by 24.2% since 1990. WMO’s Greenhouse Gas Bulletin reports that, compared to the previous year, CO2 rose 0.5%, methane 0.34%, and nitrous oxide 0.25%, while slight decreases were noted for chlorofluorocarbons (mainly due to the implementation of the Montreal Protocol).
The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season set a few records in U.S. and Cuban recorded history––as to number, force, frequency and length of storms, say meteorologists. Data on consequences are still being calculated.

Food and Water Security
About 960 million were malnourished and over 100 million people worldwide were driven into poverty this year due to the food and fuel crisis. The World Bank warns that the situation will continue to get worse as unemployment rates rise, commodity prices remain volatile, and governments face shortages in public money and outside financial assistance. The financial crisis is eclipsing and aggravating the food crisis. Production is threatened by: farmers’ increasingly difficult access to credit, high input costs, and a growing monopoly over seed and agrochemical sales.
“The impact of natural resource degradation is potentially even more devastating in financial terms than the current global meltdown,” said Christian Mersmann, Managing Director of the Global Mechanism of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, at the seventh session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention. Some 12 million hectares of land are lost yearly due to degradation and environmental causes. Desertification threatens regions that are already the most vulnerable: 65% of agricultural lands in Africa––where 60% of the population depends on agriculture, and nearly 70% of the Arab region.
Countries still strongly affected by food crises include Kenya (where officials have been accused of artificially creating a maize shortage), Zimbabwe (where the political impasse has only made the situation worse), Afghanistan (where attacks on food convoys amplify food insecurity), Swaziland (threatened by another year of drought), Haiti (where 26 children have died in just four weeks from malnutrition), Bangladesh (where broken dams have flooded 13 Khulna villages), North Korea (where there are signs of massive malnutrition despite efforts to hide the evidence), West Africa (where the UN is seeking US$361 million to solve the crisis), and the horn of Africa (with 12 million hungry in Ethiopia, 3 million in Somalia, 2 million in Kenya and Uganda, plus more in Eritrea and Djibouti).
In Latin America, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) projects that 10 to 15 million more people could slip below the poverty line in 2008 as a result of food price volatility.
Experts reiterated that half the world will face water shortages by 2080, with Asia being the most affected due to its large population, melting of Himalayan glaciers, and low-lying costal areas. Southeastern U.S. states are being advised to diversify their water supplies in expectation of a drier future climate. In Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin, irrigated agriculture could be halved by 2050; and in the Sahel region, an estimated 110 million people might be affected by Niger’s seasonal flooding decrease due to changes in rainfall patterns and human exploitation.

Migration
Because rising sea levels are expected to eventually submerge most if the Maldives’ 1,200 islands, President Mohamed Nasheed announced that the country will create a $1 billion fund from tourist revenues to explore the possibility of buying land to move its 400,000 population.
A year after cyclone Sidr hit in Bangladesh, 1 million people are still homeless. Additionally, some Bangladeshis have already begun relocating to higher lands. They argue that developed nations should be more open to accepting refugees.
Half of Nigeria’s 150 million people might face displacement, as it is threatened by three effects of climate change: desert expansion in the North, farmland erosion in the East, and flooding from the Atlantic Ocean in the South.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Advanced computer models using new surface temperatures data showed that changes in temperatures at the poles over the 20th century could occur only if greenhouse gas emissions and ozone depletion are factored in. This improved understanding of how the ice sheets will evolve over this century, explained the team of scientists led by East Anglia’s Nathan Gillet.
A report by the Dirección General de Aguas de Chile, the country’s official water authority, warned that the Echaurren glacier and other smaller glaciers near Santiago could disappear over the next half-century. The Echaurren glacier supplies 70% of Santiago’s water needs and is the main source for the Maipo River and its tributaries, the water sources for the region’s agriculture. Water scarcity might cause massive population displacement in central Chile.

Rising Sea Levels
Satellite observations reveal that since 1993 sea level has risen by 3.3 mm a year, almost double the rate of the previous 50 years. While for 1993-2003, about half of the sea level rise was due to the oceans expanding as they became warmer and the other half was due to shrinking land ice, since 2003, about 80% of the annual sea level rise can be attributed to land ice loss from glaciers, Greenland, and Antarctica.

Early Warning
Indonesia launched a sophisticated new tsunami warning system that runs a computer-simulated model and can predict waves’ arrival times and heights, enabling fast emergency measures. Although it will take some more years to cover all the coastal regions, the construction of the system is ahead of the 2010 completion target and was able to predict the tidal wave that struck the Sumatran coast in September.
An ‘adaptation scan’ developed by Tauw and BuildDesk of the Netherlands could help policymakers assess the effects of climate change in their respective areas. It operates using complex combinations of two databases––one with effects and the other with measures, and generates several direct and indirect possible consequences.

Adaptation
Preparations of coastal communities for addressing possible natural disasters are increasing across the globe. The UK has commissioned a study on towns vulnerable to flooding. California is starting a series of adaptation efforts including moving a highway farther inland and constructing flood-resistant buildings. An Alaska village is planning to move their entire community due to rising sea levels. The coasts of New Jersey and New York City have to prepare to be radically altered by 2100. The Netherlands is considering a proposal to build islands off the coast like barrier reefs to deal with rising waters. Australia and Indonesia are in talks to create a center to prepare the region to deal with natural disasters. The coasts of Bangladesh, and of Gujarat in India, are already changing and, as a result, some families are moving. The EU pledged to provide technical and financial assistance to Pacific nations affected by climate change.
The sixteenth Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum adopted a declaration to enhance cooperation for improving risk reduction, preparedness, and management to fight climate change, including building domestic disaster management capabilities.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
In the preamble to the Poznan meeting to be held December 1-12 as part of negotiations for a post-2012 treaty, the UN released an analysis of greenhouse gas emissions, showing that of 40 industrialized countries that have greenhouse gas reporting obligations under the Kyoto Protocol 16 are on target, and 20 countries––including Canada, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand and Spain--are lagging. However, it notes, “the biggest recent increase in emissions of industrialized countries has come from economies in transition, which have seen a rise of 7.4% in greenhouse gas emissions within the 2000 to 2006 time-frame.” The report did not include large emerging economies like those of India and China.
Australia said that it will advocate that rich developed countries––such as Singapore and South Korea––be also included in any binding targets.
The “Algiers Declaration” by Africa’s 53 countries calls for the development of a common vision and to act as a bloc in the negotiations for the new global warming treaty.

Sources: (some selected sources)
WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin 2007: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach New Highs http://www.wmo.int/pages/prog/arep/gaw/ghg/documents/GHG_833_en.pdf
Latin American ministers gather at UN to tackle social impact of financial, food crises http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=29087&Cr=Latin+America&Cr1=
UN gathering takes on causes and impact of land degradation http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=28810&Cr=Desertification&Cr1=
Environmental experts advocate common Arab-Mediterranean vision http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2008/11/11/feature-01
Experts: Half world faces water shortage by 2080 http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/11/18/asia/AS-Malaysia-Water-Shortage.php
O give me a home... http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displayStory.cfm?story_id=12601940&subjectID=348924&fsrc=nwl
The Dutch adaptation scan for local authorities http://www.cosis.net/abstracts/EMS2008/00647/EMS2008-A-00647.pdf
Indonesia launches tsunami warning system http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/nov/11/indonesia-tsunami-warning-system
Climate Change-Latin America: Frightening Numbers http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=44818
Press briefing on Key Greenhouse Gas Data and expected outcomes of Poznan: http://unfccc.int/press/items/2794.php

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
Biodegradation of Carbon Nanotubes Could Mitigate Potential Toxic Effects
Work done by Dr. Alexander Star, Dr. Valerian Kagan, and colleagues, at the Univ. of Pittsburgh, and reported in Nanowerk, has shown that carbon nanotubes, which can have negative biological effects, can be destroyed by natural biodegradation through enzymatic catalysis, using horseradish peroxidase and hydrogen peroxide over a period of several weeks. This technique is milder and more natural than the previous method, which involved a harsh solvent consisting of sulfuric acid and high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide.
Source:
Biodegradation of carbon nanotubes could mitigate potential toxic effects
http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=8093.php

Microplastics Recognized as Environmental Threat to Oceans
A note has been published on the results of a conference held last month to discuss the increasing threat to the maritime environment posed by plastic “microparticles” (< 5 mm). A report quoted a speakers as stating that, “as plastic items break down, any toxic additives they contain—including flame retardants, antimicrobials, and plasticizers—may be released into the ocean environment”, “plastics can act like sponges to collect hydrophobic persistent organic pollutants, such as PCBs”, and “microplastics can impact marine food chains”.
Source:
International scientists to discuss effects of 'microplastics' on marine environment http://www.tacoma.washington.edu/news/2008_0903.cfm
Why small plastic particles may pose a big problem in the oceans http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/sample.cgi/esthag/asap/html/es802970v.html

EU ObservatoryNANO Project in Expanded Operation
The EU FP7 “ObservatoryNANO” project (See this report, April 2008, Item 6.5.1) has expanded its operation. Its Web site, http://www.observatory-nano.eu - is now on-line, and contains (click on “Catalogue”),most of 56 recently written interim reports on scientific and technological developments in all sectors of nanotechnology, including energy, environment, and health.
Source:
EU ObservatoryNANO Project http://www.observatory-nano.eu

UK Report on Novel Materials in the Environment: The case of nanotechnology
The UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution issued this latest report, which “examines issues related to innovation in the materials sector and the challenges and benefits arising from the introduction of novel materials (specifically nanomaterials) … [and] makes recommendations on how to deal with ignorance and uncertainty in this area”. This document is accompanied by four supplemental reports and is partly based on input solicited from more than 100 organizations with relevant experience.
Source:
Novel Materials in the Environment: The case of nanotechnology http://www.rcep.org.uk/novelmaterials.htm

Latin American Personnel Offer Nanotech Cooperation Opportunity
A recent study among Latin American researchers temporarily working in European nanotechnology research organizations has indicated that they “want to cooperate with European colleagues in nanoresearch.” and “Access to high quality research infrastructure and equipment not available in their country is an important reason for cooperation.”
Source:
Interviews with visiting researchers in the NanoforumEULA project http://www.mesaplus.utwente.nl/nanoforumeula/interviews_visiting_researcher/

Reports and Information Suggested for Review
World Energy Outlook 2008
World Energy Outlook 2008 is the authoritative report on energy prospects. The WEO-2008 provides new energy projections to 2030 by regions and fuel types. It focuses on the two sectors that it considers the most pressing today: oil and gas production, including future global oil and gas supply and post-2012 climate scenarios, including possible outcomes of the international negotiations and carbon schemes and implications for global energy markets.
Source:
World Energy Outlook 2008 http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/

Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World
Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World by the US National Intelligence Council is an analysis of threats to security and potential geopolitical developments. It features four scenarios: “A World Without the West”; “October Surprises”; “BRICS’s Bust-up”; and “Politics is not Always Local.” It includes a chapter on “The Demographics of Discord” (chapter 2), as well as a section on “Water, Food, and Climate Change” (in chapter 4: “Scarcity in the Midst of Plenty?”)
Source:
Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World http://www.dni.gov/nic/NIC_2025_project.html

Back to top


October 2008

Global Investment Road Map for a Transition to a Greener Economy Launched by UNEP
The United Nations Environment Program launched a Green Economic Initiative to encourage an environmentally friendly economy. A comprehensive road map will be delivered to all governments within 18 to 24 months to help make the necessary transitions. Investments considered the most likely for economic returns and job creations are: clean energy and other clean technologies; sustainable agriculture; ecosystem infrastructure; cutting greenhouse gas emissions; and sustainable urban planning.
Sources:
"Global Green New Deal" - Environmentally-Focused Investment Historic Opportunity for 21st Century Prosperity and Job Generation http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=548&ArticleID=5957&l=en
Landmark New Report Says Emerging Green Economy Could Create Tens of Millions of New "Green Jobs" http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=545&ArticleID=5929&l=en

Draft Agreement for Management of International Aquifers
The draft Convention on Transboundary Aquifers aims to create a framework for proper management and exploitation of underground water resources, calling on States to cooperate on aquifers’ use and to prevent and control their pollution. Aquifers contain 100 times the volume of surface fresh water, but are largely not covered by international regulations despite their transboundary conditions, and their great environmental, social, economic and strategic importance. The new Convention would apply to 96% of the planet’s freshwater resources. It was prepared by the UN International Law Commission and experts from UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme, and submitted to the UN General Assembly on October 27, 2008. The same day, UNESCO published the first detailed map of 273 underground transboundary aquifers, including information about the water’s quality and rate of replenishment.
Sources:
UNESCO publishes first world map of underground transboundary aquifers http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=43767&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
Global groundwater maps http://www.whymap.org/cln_092/whymap/EN/Downloads/downloads__node__en.html?__nnn=true

UN Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage will Enter into Force in January 2009
The Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage will enter into force on January 2, 2009, three months after 20 States ratified it. “This represents an essential addition to UNESCO’s standard-setting apparatus” declared Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO. The Convention aims to curb the destruction of underwater cultural heritage and its Annex details the rules for activities directed at underwater sites.
Sources:
Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage will enter into force in January 2009 http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=43663&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001260/126065e.pdf

Progress on Defining Environmental Refugees
The International Conference on “Environment, Forced Migration and Social Vulnerability” held in Bonn, Germany, October 9-11, 2008, summarized the current state of research and debate on matters concerning environmental migration and moved forward on the issues of definition: what should be considered environmentally-induced migration; measurement procedures and drivers; and legal instruments to protect and assist different categories of environmental migrants. The Council of Europe’s Committee on Migration suggests that environmental migrants’ rights should be considered either in “a separate Convention or as parts of intergovernmental environmental treaties, or as both”, but disassociated from the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention. The conference considered three categories of migrants: environmentally motivated migrants, environmentally forced migrants, and environmental emergency migrants.
The conference also introduced the Climate Change, Environment and Migration Alliance, designed to assist policymakers with environment-related migration issues; and presented preliminary findings by the Environmental Change and Forced Migration Scenarios Project that analyzes migration due to environmental factors in 22 case studies in nine regions. The EFMSV conference was hosted by the United Nations University, was attended by about 600 experts from nearly 80 countries, and was the largest meeting ever held on the topic. The full outcomes of the conference were not yet available at the time of this writing. [See also New Strategies Needed to Deal with Global Displacement and Migration in October 2007 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Environmental Migrants: Conference Aims to Build Consensus on Their Definition, Support and Protection http://www.efmsv2008.org/file/Press+release+before+conference?menu=102
Preliminary Findings of EACH-FOR Project http://www.efmsv2008.org/file/Preliminary+Findings+October
Environment, Forced Migration and Social Vulnerability conference http://www.efmsv2008.org/?menu=41

Uganda to Create an Environmental Police Unit
The Uganda National Environment Management Authority announced that it will form a police unit to “address environmental crimes, investigations and prosecution.” The unit is expected to be operational in the next financial year. The Nature and Extent of Environmental Crime in Uganda report lists as leading environmental degradation causes: illegal waste disposal, pollution, and dumping and encroachment on protected areas. [See also East African Environmental Projects to Fight Crime in July-August 2008 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Environmental crime on the rise as Nema forms police unit http://www.monitor.co.ug/artman/publish/news/Environmental_crime_on_the_rise_as_Nema_forms_police_unit_73245.shtml

International Meetings Bring Environment and Security Closer Together
The Roundtable on Environment and Security, organized alongside the IUCN Congress, was attended by selected representatives from the security community and major environmental leaders who discussed present and future environmental security issues, explored possibilities for cooperation, examined common strategies, and agreed that the impacts of environmental issues on security are increasingly requiring more attention from governments. Physical conflict and military environmental issues were central to the discussions. The Institute for Environmental Security program “Climate Change and International Security” is organizing several meetings to foster environment-security dialogue and set the agenda for some global environmental agreement(s) to reduce the probability of climate change-related conflicts.
Participants in the IUCN World Conservation Congress pointed out that biodiversity losses are not only more serious than the current financial crises, but are also often irreparable. The IUCN Programme 2009–2012 creates a framework for addressing environmental crises from planning to implementing, monitoring, and evaluating conservation work. Issues that got special attention include: high seas, of which less than 1% are under any kind of protection, nearly all located close to shore; forests––summary of the outcomes of the Forests Dialogue’s Initiative on Forests and Climate Change and agreement on five guiding principles for climate change negotiators and tackling deforestation; the role of the environment in avoiding conflict and for post-conflict stability; and better integration of biodiversity concerns into policymaking in all sectors. The new Red List of Threatened Species, unveiled at the Congress, now covers nearly 45,000 species, specifying those that are particularly susceptible to climate change. Over 8,000 people working in conservation or related areas participated in the 10-day IUCN Congress held in Barcelona, Spain, October 5-15, 2008.
Sources:
Roundtable Workshop Environment and Security. Challenges for Change http://www.envirosecurity.org/challengesforchange/
Barcelona sets environment action agenda http://www.iucn.org/news_events/events/congress/index.cfm?uNewsID=1946
High seas gems in the spotlight http://www.iucn.org/news_events/events/congress/media/press_releases/index.cfm?uNewsID=1791
The Review of the 2008 Red List of Threatened Species http://www.iucn.org/about/work/programmes/species/red_list/review/index.cfm
The conservation Olympics. On being green when the world has the blues http://www.economist.com/daily/columns/greenview/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12405870
Living on the edge. More species of wildlife are under threat http://www.economist.com/daily/chartgallery/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12332704&fsrc=rss
Time to invest in nature's capital http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7664280.stm

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

New Substrate Preparations Make for Inexpensive “Labs on a Chip”
Professor George Whitesides and colleagues of the Dept. of Chemistry at Harvard University have developed an inexpensive way of turning a sheet of paper into a microfluidic “lab on a chip” medium for bioassays. The technique is based on soaking the sheet with a hardenable photoresist, covering it with a transparency containing a drawing of the desired pattern of channels, and exposing it to light, rendering it impenetrable except in those areas shielded by the drawing. An analogous scheme is used by Aaron Wheeler of the University of Toronto to inexpensively make copper molds for plastic microfluidic chips. In his method, a pattern is inked directly onto a sheet of copper before a chemical is used to etch away a thin layer from exposed areas, leaving behind the mold pattern for the network of channels.
Source:
Paper lab-on-a-chip makes disease tests affordable http://technology.newscientist.com/channel/tech/dn14790-paper-labonachip-makes-disease-tests-affordable.html
FLASH: A rapid method for prototyping paper-based microfluidic devices http://www.rsc.org/publishing/journals/LC/article.asp?doi=b811135a
Soft lithography: masters on demand http://www.rsc.org/publishing/journals/LC/article.asp?doi=b804050h

Miniature Radiation Sensors Could Implement Detection Network
Scientists at Purdue University are working on developing a miniaturized radiation detection device that is small enough to fit into a mobile phone. Their suggestion is that a population carrying such embedded devices, together with software and communications subsystems, could serve as a networked system for the detection of radiological hazards such as “dirty bombs”.
Sources:
My Blackberry As A Bomb Sniffer? (NEWSWEEK, Oct 6, 2008) http://www.newsweek.com/id/161056
Cell phone sensors detect radiation to thwart nuclear terrorism http://www.purdue.edu/UNS/x/2008a/080122FischbachNuclear.html

Ion Jelly Electrolyte Offers Environmental Advantages
A team of researchers led by Susana Barreiros at the New University of Lisbon, Portugal, has developed a conducting “ion jelly” for use as an electrolyte in batteries and fuel cells. The new technique is superior to previous methods of turning environmentally friendly ionic liquids into solids.
Source:
Ion jelly could satisfy appetite for greener batteries http://technology.newscientist.com/article/dn14975-ion-jelly-could-satisfy-appetite-for-greener-batteries.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues
Iraq Complains of After-conflict Environmental Hazards
“It will take centuries to restore the natural environment of Iraq” said Iraqi Environment Minister Nermeen Othman, referring to the environmental catastrophe caused by the conflict: unexploded bombs and 25 million land mines littering the land, hazardous waste and leaking poison of destroyed factories, chemical waste, rubble and trash, obliterated forests to remove the enemy’s hiding places, and chemical weapons and depleted uranium munitions that have created 105 contaminated areas. More than 60% of Iraq’s fresh water is polluted. Unless serious environmental remedial actions are performed, peace will be difficult even after the war ends. [See also Iraqi Chemical Attack Victims Seek Compensation from Supplying Companies in May 2006, CCW Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War Entered into Force in November 2006, and other previous environmental security reports on similar issues.]
Source:
Iraq scarred by war waste http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081024.wiraqenvir1024/BNStory/International/home

EU Legislation Banning Mercury Exports in Effect in 2011
Legislation banning all exports of mercury from the European Union takes effect in March 2011. The EU is the world’s biggest exporter, responsible for about 25% of the global mercury supply. The export ban is part of the EU’s strategy for reducing the global supply of mercury and thereby addressing mercury pollution globally. [See also Progress on Global Mercury Ban in February 2007 and other previous environmental security reports on this issue.]
Sources:
Environment: Commission welcomes adoption of legislation to ban EU mercury exports http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1399&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Nuclear Security
Advancements in Setting the Agenda for the 2010 NPT Review
The first meeting of the International Commission on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament was held in Sydney, October 20-21, 2008. As stated in the press conference, the Commission is at an “idea-formulating stage, … refining and defining the issues” and formulating the work plan. The framework of negotiations is based on the NPT three pillars: disarmament, non-proliferation, and peaceful use. The Commission was created to help set the agenda for the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference. [See also Australia to Propose Panel to Advance Work for the NPT Review in 2010 in June 2008 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
IAEA Director Warns on Continuous Nuclear Safety Issues
In his annual report to the UN General Assembly, International Atomic Energy Agency Chief Mohamed ElBaradei said that nearly 250 incidents involving theft or loss of nuclear or radioactive material were reported to the Agency during the year ending in June 2008, meaning that the threat of radioactive material use by terrorist or malicious forces remains high. Also troubling is that much of that material is not subsequently recovered, or sometimes material is found that was never reported missing. He reiterated the need for effective binding international agreements and global nuclear security standards, advanced and independent verification technology, and stronger legal authority and resources for the Agency. Since 1993 when IAEA data exchange began, 1,340 incidents were reported, including 18 with highly enriched uranium or plutonium. [See also IAEA Director’s Recommendations to Improve Nuclear Safety in September 2007 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Joint Press Conference between Mr Gareth Evans and Ms Yoriko Kawaguchi, Co-Chairs, International Commission for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament http://www.icnnd.org/media/joint_conf_211008.html
Statements of the Director General http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Statements/2008/ebsp2008n010.html
Rate of Nuclear Thefts ‘Disturbingly High,’ Monitoring Chief Says http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/28/world/28nuke.html?_r=1&ref=world_&oref=slogin
IAEA Updates Nuclear Trafficking Database; Few Trends Seen in Information on Illicit Incidents http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2008_9_29.html#802352F5

New Hazardous Substances to be Banned
New Compounds Considered under the Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions
Several more persistent organic pollutants may be banned or restricted under the Stockholm Convention. In addition to five substances already short-listed in 2007, the fourth meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee (COP-4) approved four chemicals to be listed under Annexes A, B, or C: commercial octabromodiphenyl ether (c-octaBDE), pentachlorobenzene (PeCB), and alpha- and beta-hexachlorocyclohexane (alphaHCH and betaHCH), and suggested further evaluation for endosulfan and hexabromocyclododecane (HBCD) to be listed under the Convention. [See also New Chemicals Proposed to be Added to Stockholm Convention on POPs in May 2005, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
The fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (PIC COP-4) agreed on the inclusion of tributyltin compounds in Annex III of the Rotterdam Convention but did not reach consensus on the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos and endosulfan to the trade “watch list”. Delegates also discussed implementation issues and cooperation among the Rotterdam, Basel and Stockholm Conventions. [See also UN E-Waste Forum and Basel Convention’s Conference of Parties in December 2006 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
New List of Hazardous Substances Spotlighted for International Action http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=548&ArticleID=5947&l=en
Summary of the Fourth Meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee of the Stockholm Convention (13-17 October 2008) http://www.iisd.ca/vol15/enb15161e.html
Three Chemicals Considered for Trade 'watch list' http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=548&ArticleID=5953&l=en
Rotterdam Convention COP4 Documents of the Conference of the Parties http://www.pic.int/home.php?type=b&id=138&sid=27&tid=41
Rotterdam PIC COP 4 Highlights (Tuesday, 28 October 2008) http://www.iisd.ca/vol15/enb15165e.html

Concerns Increasing for BPA Bans and Phthalates
Canada has announced it would ban the use of bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles, and the U.S. Safeway grocery chain will stop selling plastic baby bottles made with BPA. The U.S. National Toxicology Program and the FDA Science Board have recently indicated concern over the health safety of the chemical. Similarly, phthalates, used in a wide variety of products, are also beginning to be subjected to scrutiny for their effect on the genital development of male fetuses. [See also Questions on Bisphenol A Risk Raised Again in April 2008 environmental security report.]
Sources:
U.S. National Toxicology Program. Bisphenol A Evaluation http://cerhr.niehs.nih.gov/chemicals/bisphenol/bisphenol-eval.html
3rd Largest U.S. Supermarket Chain to Ban Baby Bottles with Bisphenol-A http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/bisphenol-a-47102204?src=rss
Plastics industry behind FDA research on bisphenol A, study finds http://www2.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=809282
Male, interrupted http://www.philly.com/inquirer/magazine/20081027_Male__interrupted.html

Tougher Global Limits Imposed on Air Pollution from Large Ships
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the IMO adopted regulations to reduce harmful air emissions from large ships. The revised MARPOL Annex VI Regulations for the Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships sets progressive reduction in emissions of sulphur oxide (SOx), nitrogen oxide (NOx), and particulate matter from ships. By 2020, ships will be required to use fuel with no more than 5,000 ppm sulfur, a 90% reduction from today’s global cap. The revised Annex VI, and the associated NOx Technical Code, will enter into force on July 1st, 2010, under the tacit acceptance amendment procedure. MARPOL Annex VI entered into force in May 2005 and has, so far, been ratified by 53 countries, representing 82 % of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant shipping fleet. [See also Concerns over Maritime Air Pollution Increase in February 2008 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Major progress on air pollution, ship recycling and ballast water management at IMO environment meeting http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1709&doc_id=10268
IMO environment meeting finalizes ships recycling convention for adoption in 2009 http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1709&doc_id=10263
IMO environment meeting adopts revised regulations on ship emissions http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1709&doc_id=10262
Tough Global Limits Imposed on Air Pollution from Large Ships http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2008/2008-10-13-01.asp

EU Batteries Directive Entered into Force
The EU Batteries Directive entered fully into force across the EU on September 26, 2008. It requires waste batteries to be properly collected and recycled by producers and users. [See also Waste Management Policies in June 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Source:
New EU legislation requiring collection and recycling of spent batteries applies from today http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1411&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

European Parliament Adopted Resolution on Arctic Governance
A resolution adopted by the European Parliament on October 9 regarding Arctic governance stipulates that the European Commission should get an ‘observer status’ on the Arctic Council to increase its proactive role in the region and should set up a “dedicated Arctic desk.” It also suggests that the EC open negotiations for an international treaty for the protection of the Arctic, which at the beginning should cover at least the unpopulated and unclaimed areas. Along with preservation, the commission should also consider a framework for possible exploitation of the Arctic’s potentials. The MEPs expressed concerns that the ongoing race for Arctic resources could lead to security threats for the EU. The EU is due to publish its own guidelines for work in the Arctic this November. [See also Arctic Needs New International Regulations in September 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
European Parliament resolution of 9 October 2008 on Arctic governance http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2008-0474+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN
Arctic governance: European Parliament deeply concerned about the effects of climate change http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/briefing_page/39049-282-10-41-20081008BRI39048-08-10-2008-2008/default_p001c014_en.htm
Consensus on Arctic initiatives http://arctic-council.org/article/2008/9/concensus_on_arctic_initiatives

Rights of Forest Peoples Need to Be Observed in Anti-deforestation Efforts
Research from the Rights and Resources Initiative, announced at the Rights, Forests and Climate Change conference in Oslo, has now shown that the financial costs of setting up legal rights for forest-dwelling peoples are around $3.35 per hectare compared with the estimated costs for elements of the UN-proposed Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program ($800 to $3500 per hectare each year for the next 22 years), but can make a large difference in the efforts aimed at reducing deforestation. Ignoring these rights can cause serious problems for the efforts, and full advantage should be taken of those peoples’ well-informed help in protecting what is, after all, their environment. The IUCN’s World Conservation Congress also endorsed the REDD “as long as it remains just and equitable.” [See also International Alliance of Forest Peoples in April 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Forest Peoples' Rights Key To Reducing Emissions From Deforestation http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081015110238.htm
Barcelona sets environment action agenda http://www.iucn.org/news_events/events/congress/index.cfm?uNewsID=1946

Coral Triangle May Get Regional Protection
The six Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and East Timor) that border the “Coral Triangle” have been discussing measures for additional safeguarding of that fragile region against pollution and other hazards. The US has pledged nearly $40 million to support these efforts. [See also Micronesian Nations Sign Coral Reef Protection Document in September 2007 environmental security report.]
Source:
Asia’s Coral Triangle could get protection http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27340356/

Climate Change
Scientific Evidences
Worldwatch Institute reports that 874 weather-related disasters were recorded in 2007, representing 91% of all natural disasters, the largest annual total since systematic recordkeeping began. These disasters caused $69 billion in recorded losses worldwide. The Institute says that there is a 66% likelihood that climate change will lead to more heat waves, heavier precipitation, broader droughts, and more-intense tropical cyclones—all of which could further increase the number of catastrophic weather events. Along the same lines, WWF’s report Climate change: faster, stronger, sooner warns that Europe will be confronted with more extreme weather conditions from severe cyclones to heat-waves, floods, and droughts.

Food and Water Security
The food crisis continues in many countries, particularly in North Korea, Somalia, and Zimbabwe, where the situations have been called humanitarian crises. Hunger in Latin America has risen from 45 million in 2006 to 51 million today. Chinese experts warn that the country’s food production might drop by 23% by 2050 due to climate change.
World Food Day focused increased attention on the seriousness of the situation, but much attention is diverted by the financial crisis. The credit crisis is aggravating the food crisis as countries like China institute new export taxes to keep their crops and fertilizers in the country, causing the costs of these goods to rise elsewhere. New trade agreements, like the Thailand and Iran barter of oil for rice, reveal new types of reaction to the fluctuating prices of commodities. Leaders worldwide are calling for action on the food crisis, such as the Asia-Europe Meeting recommending coordinated action between Europe and Asia. A new council was set up in Britain to look at food security.
Middle East water scarcity-related issues are aggravated as the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s largest freshwater lake, vanishes, threatening the livelihoods of local communities. About 50% of Israel’s drinking water comes from the lake, water is already rationed, and its agricultural use is increasingly reduced, jeopardizing food production.
In Bangladesh, drinking water becomes saline as rising sea levels force salt water further inland. In Zimbabwe, the conflict situation over water has started, as some communities’ local rivers are drying up.

Migration
The Australian government has agreed to accept climate change refugees like the ones from Tuvalu, as a last resort, and might create a new visa category to cover climate change refugees. Allegedly, the Tuvalu PM asked Australia to accept all 10,000 Tuvalians in a worst-case scenario. New Zealand now accepts 75 migrants a year. Expert groups indicate that mass evacuation might be necessary within decades. The situation extends to other low-lying nations such as Kiribati and the Maldives.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Autumn air temperatures in the Arctic reached a record high this year, 5 degree C (9 degree F) above normal, revealed Arctic Report Card 2008 by U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The main reason is major loss of sea ice, which allows more solar heating of the ocean, as the region is warming up more rapidly than the rest of the planet. The report also noted that the Arctic Ocean is getting warmer and less salty as sea ice melts; sea level rose nearly 0.1 inch per year, one of the main contributors being Greenland’s considerable surface ice melting. According to data from ESA’s Envisat satellite, the thickness of sea ice in large parts of the Arctic declined by as much as 19% last winter compared to the previous five winters. WWF’s report Climate change: faster, stronger, sooner shows that the Arctic Ocean is losing sea ice up to 30 years ahead of IPCC predictions and summer sea ice could completely disappear between 2013 and 2040.
Kolahoi glacier, the only year-round source of fresh water for the Kashmir valley, is melting at an alarming rate and might be all gone in 10 years. As water stress threatens the livelihoods of millions, the perspective of lasting peace in the region disputed by India and Pakistan is becoming even more difficult.

Rising Sea Levels
WWF’s report Climate change: faster, stronger, sooner estimates that sea levels’ rise by 2100 might reach more than double the IPCC’s maximum estimate of 0.59m. UN-Habitat’s State of the World’s Cities Report 2008/09: Harmonious Cities highlights the vulnerability of 10% of the world population that lives in low elevation coastal zones, mainly urban populations in deltas. Improving infrastructure is one of the essential first steps for reducing the impact of sea level rise on the population. UNDP predicts that there might be 30 million Bangladeshi refugees by 2050, due to sea level rise. Jakarta could be under water by 2025 due to groundwater mining and rising sea levels. Although Bangladesh’s landmass is increasing by 20 sq km annually as a result of deposits in the Bay of Bengal by big Himalayan rivers, they become inhabitable only after several years and the country’s existing landmass is being washed away faster than new land is being formed. Some islands, such as Kutubdia, are already becoming uninhabitable and the population has to relocate.
A new study by the University of New South Wales examining the effect of climate change on the Australian region from the Central Coast to Wollongong reveals that, by 2050, sea level rise is likely to be 40 centimeters, reaching 90 centimeters by 2100, threatening Sydney’s coastal habitats and infrastructure. It also notes that a 1 centimeter sea-level rise can cause up to 1 meter of erosion on low-lying beaches. The full study is expected to be released in January 2009.
Dubai, Kuwait, and the Nile Delta would be significantly affected by a 1-meter sea level rise, warns Raymond S. Bradley, director of the Climate System Research Centre, suggesting reinforcement measures mainly around Dubai’s coastline.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The WWF report Climate Change: faster, stronger, sooner calls on the EU to adopt an emission reduction target of at least 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 (compared to the present 20% target) in the EU territory, rather than by overseas offsetting. It also suggests stronger EU leadership at the international level for a post-2012 climate treaty and increased EU funding for developing countries to address climate change and adaptation.
Japan drafted a new post-Kyoto protocol to be submitted in December at the 14th Conference of the Parties to U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP14)
Sources:
Vital Signs Update: Weather-Related Disasters Dominate http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5452
Climate Change: faster, stronger, sooner http://assets.panda.org/downloads/wwf_science_paper_october_2008.pdf
Three billion Asians face food crisis threat http://www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/news/display/?id=4097
Thais to barter rice for oil with Iran http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c47190fe-a452-11dd-8104- (Free, limited subscription required.)
Financial Meltdown Worsens Food Crisis. As Global Prices Soar, More People Go Hungry http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/25/AR2008102502293.html (Free subscription available.)
First council since Second World War set up to look at food security http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/earth/2008/10/06/eafood106.xml
Sinking Tuvualu wants our help as ocean levels rise http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21598,24446057-948,00.html
Arctic Report Card 2008 http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/index.html
State of the World’s Cities Report 2008/09: Harmonious Cities http://www.unhabitat.org/content.asp?cid=5964&catid=7&typeid=46&subMenuId=0
The heat is on – climate change gathers pace faster than scientists expected http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/where_we_work/europe/news/index.cfm?uNewsID=148141

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
Russia Introduces Nanotechnology Certification System
Russia has launched NANOCERTIFICA, the Russian Federation’s first certification system for industrial nanotechnology production. According to Nanowerk News, the opening press conference addressed “development of testing and the methodological base of the certification system” and “the financing and qualification level of conformity evaluation centers and the possibility of using nanomaterials in medicine, cosmetology, ecology and water purification”.
Source:
Russia introduces NANOCERTIFICA, its own nanotechnology certification system http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=7893.php

New Batteries Raise Health/Safety Worries about Lithium Nanoparticles
A recent column by Philip Stiff, a member of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Wilson Center, raises questions about the “foreseen and unexplored environmental, health and safety risks associated with the manufacture, use, recycling, and disposal of nanoscale lithium-ion batteries”, emphasizing the lack of studies on the end-of-life processes for these units.
Source:
Lithium-ion Nanomaterial Batteries: Our new hope with a dose of caution http://www.nanotech-now.com/columns/?article=250

Environmental Effects from Nanomaterial Production May Outweigh Its Benefits
An item in physorg.com states that “Environmental gains derived from the use of nanomaterials may be offset in part by the process used to manufacture them, according to research published in a special issue of the Journal of Industrial Ecology.” A paper by Hatice Sengül and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago, asserts that “strict material purity requirements, lower tolerances for defects and lower yields of manufacturing processes may lead to greater environmental burdens than those associated with conventional manufacturing.” A team led by Vikas Khanna at Ohio State University “found, for example, that the lifecycle environmental impacts [of carbon nanofiber production] may be as much as 100 times greater per unit of weight than those of traditional materials, potentially offsetting some of the environmental benefits of small size of nanomaterials” like less waste and cleaner processes.
Source:
Nanomaterials May Have Large Environmental Footprint http://www.physorg.com/news143907040.html

Indian Conference on Nanotechnology and Regulatory Issues
An Indian National Conference on Nanotechnology and Regulatory Iss
ues is scheduled January 9-10, 2009 at the Centre for NanoScience and Nanotechnology, Saltlake City, Kolkata. The purpose of the conference is to bring together policymakers, nanoscientists, lawyers and academicians to debate and discuss a range of issues relating to nanotechnology regulation in India.
Source:
National Conference on Nanotechnology and Regulatory Issues http://www.scidev.net/en/announcements/national-conference-on-nanotechnology-and-regulato.html

Reports and Information Suggested for Review

Tools for Addressing Humanity’s Growing Ecological Footprint
Earth Overshoot Day this year was on September 23 and is moving forward each year, notes Global Footprint Network. In 2008, humanity used about 40% more than nature can regenerate resources and absorb waste. The Living Planet Report 2008, which documents the extent of human pressure on the planet, reveals that 75% of the human population lives in countries that are “ecological debtors,” demanding more biocapacity than they have within their borders. According to UN moderate projections, by the mid-2030s we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us. The Ecological Footprint Atlas 2008 offers country-by-country graphs, data tables, and sources, representing a valuable tool to help manage our ecological assets.
Conservation International is launching a new environmental protection resource, the Integrated Biodiversity Assessment Tool (http://biodiversityinfo.org/ibat/), which will provide a centralized source from which organizations can obtain comprehensive information on their possible ecological impacts.
Sources:
Global Footprint Network, World Footprint http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/index.php/GFN/page/world_footprint/
September 23 is Earth Overshoot Day http://www.footprintnetwork.org/gfn_sub.php?content=overshoot
The heat is on – climate change gathers pace faster than scientists expected http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/where_we_work/europe/news/index.cfm?uNewsID=148141
Where the wild things are http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displayStory.cfm?story_id=12332923&amp;subjectID=348924&amp;fsrc=nwl
Database: http://biodiversityinfo.org/ibat/

miniAtlas of Human Security
The miniAtlas of Human Security, produced by the Human Security Report Project at Simon Fraser University, Canada, is a comprehensive illustrated guide of global and regional trends in human insecurity––with details on: armed conflicts, genocides and other forms of deadly violence against civilians; fatalities from political violence; numbers of refugees and other displaced peoples; and respect for human rights.
Source:
miniAtlas of Human Security http://www.miniatlasofhumansecurity.info/en/

Proceedings of the Conference on Wearable Electronics
An insight into the current state of the field of wearable computing is available in the proceedings of the Fifth International Forum on Applied Wearable Computing, part of the ISWC 2008––12th IEEE International Symposium on Wearable Computing, held September 28–October 1, 2008 in Pittsburgh PA.
Sources:
International Symposium on Wearable Computing http://www.iswc.net/

Back to Top

September 2008

UN General Assembly Stressed Environment-related Issues
The issues most frequently mentioned by heads of state and governments at the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly were the global food crisis, impacts of climate change, widespread hunger and poverty, access to water, nuclear control and disarmament, human rights, and terrorism. Ukraine suggested the development of a World Environmental Constitution as a binding framework agreement, and the establishment of a UN entity with authority for ecological protection. Mexico proposed a UN-managed Green Fund to help poor nations cope with the effects of climate change. Small island developing nations that are under imminent threat due to rising sea levels appealed for measures to ensure their survival and the Pacific Islands Forum will resubmit a resolution asking the Security Council to investigate the peace and security implications of global warming, although Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Derek Sikua expressed fears that the magnitude of climate change has already outgrown the existing capacity of the UN system to respond.
Sources:
General Debate of the 63rd Session (23 September - 1 October 2008) http://www.un.org/ga/63/generaldebate/
Small Islands to World: S.O.S. http://www.avaaz.org/en/sos_small_islands/

UN and Governments of Latin America and the Caribbean Met to Improve Disaster Anticipation and Response System
The First Regional Meeting on Enhancing International Humanitarian Partnerships for Latin America and the Caribbean was held in Mexico City, September 10-11, hosted by the Government of Mexico in collaboration with the Government of Canada and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Participants explored how to improve disaster preparedness and response information and coordination systems among national and regional governments and relief organizations. As a first step, it is “essential to establish the basic compatibility of national response systems with the international system, tools and mechanisms,” said John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. The next regional meeting will be held in Brazil, in 2009.
Sources:
UN Aid Chief Urges More Coordinated Disaster Relief in Latin America, Caribbean http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=28031&Cr=Caribbean&Cr1=Hurricane
First Regional Meeting on Enhancing International Humanitarian Partnerships Concludes http://ochaonline.un.org/OchaLinkClick.aspx?link=ocha&docId=1094144
USSOUTHCOM http://www.southcom.mil/AppsSC/index.php

First EU-Central Asia Security Forum Included Environmental Security
The aim of the first EU-Central Asia Security Forum was to consolidate relations between the EU and the Central Asian governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as envisioned in the EU Strategy for Central Asia. This EU strategy focuses on terrorism, non-proliferation, human and drug trafficking, and energy and environmental security. The EU will help with financing and expertise for curbing illegal traffic of people, arms and drugs, while common energy security issues would be addressed by building infrastructure, including the Nabucco pipeline. The meeting was held in Paris, September 18, and attended by foreign ministers from the Central Asian countries and the EU member states and candidate countries, EU dignitaries, and experts from other organizations. Afghanistan observed. Participants agreed to have “regular exchanges” on these security risks.
Sources:
Paris Hosts First EU-Central Asia Security Forum http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,3652594,00.html
Human rights take back seat at EU-Central Asia talks http://euobserver.com/9/26778/?rk=1

Indonesian Navy to Tighten Security in Sea Border Areas
The Indonesian Navy announced that it will tighten security in its eastern and western sea border areas to support law enforcement efforts at sea for reducing illegal activities such as environmental pollution, smuggling, and even manipulation of shipping documents. Their law enforcement efforts will include prosecution and monitoring cases until sanctions are applied.
Sources:
Indonesian Navy To Tighten Security In Border Areas http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsgeneral.php?id=359652
CENTRIXS Online for CARAT and Naval Engagement Activity http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=39075
COMLOG WESTPAC http://www.clwp.navy.mil/

NASA-Like Agency to Achieve a 10-Year Environmental Goal Proposed
An international expert meeting on worst-case scenarios for global warming held at the Foundation for the Future near Seattle, Washington, proposed the creation of a NASA-like U.S. agency to achieve a 10-year environmental goal. A lobby, independent from the foundation, is being created, composed of environmental leaders, aerospace engineers, and business executives (working title is the American Climate Alliance) to get the US Congress to create the agency by 2010 that would reach the goal by 2020.
Source:
Meetings and email correspondence with Millennium Project Director, Jerome Glenn and Foundation for the Future Executive Director, Robert Citron.

Nationwide Health Information Network Could Help in Environmental Emergencies
According to information from Indiana University, “Investigators from the Regenstrief Institute [on the campus of Indiana University’s School of Medicine in Indianapolis] have led a demonstration of how health information exchange technologies developed and tested regionally can be used to securely share patient information across the nation during an emergency.” The demo was based on the HHS-supported trial implementation of a Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN).
Source:
A look to the future http://www.physorg.com/news141397611.html

Conference on Resilience Concepts for Large-Scale Disasters
Applications of chaos theory, self-organization, wisdom of the crowds, and other concepts of how to achieve unity of effort in conditions where there is no unity of command in humanitarian assistance and disaster management associated with large-scale social crisis and global change will be discussed at the U.S. Resilience Summit 2008 to be held at the Cosmos Club, 2121 Massachusetts Ave, N.W., Washington, D.C. October 23rd. The meeting is intended to lead to an international summit in 2009; however, some UN and other international participation is expected. According to Michael D. McDonald, President, Global Health Initiatives, Inc. and coordinator for the Resilience Summit, lessons will be drawn from disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, the Pakistani earthquake, the Indian Ocean Basin Tsunami, and Cyclone Nargis. Anticipating needs for emerging situations such as in the Philippines, North Korea, Darfur, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Northern Baja California, Nigeria, Mexico City, and US inner cities will also be explored.
Sources:
2008 U.S. Resilience Summit announcement
Meetings and correspondence with Michael.D.McDonald and Millennium Project Director, Jerome Glenn.

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications
New Detection and Cleanup Techniques
Fluorescent Sensor Bacteria Offer Fast Pollutant Detection
Jan Van der Meer, an environmental microbiologist at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, and his team have announced successful results in their testing of sensor bacteria that release an enzyme in response to a given chemical and that have been genetically engineered so that that release also produces a protein that fluoresces in a particular color. Trials were conducted by testing ocean water for pollution from a simulated oil spill. Results could be obtained in a matter of minutes, as compared to the weeks needed for conventional chemical analysis. The bacteria’s self-reproduction eases the task of supplying test material.
Source:
Detecting Pollution with Living Biosensors http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/21383/page1/

DNA Spotted Microarrays Provide Faster Pathogen Identification
Prof. Sanjeev Narayanan, of the Dept. of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State Univ., and his colleague, Greg Peterson, reported having developed a DNA spotted microarray that finds the specific genetic markers that distinguish one pathogen from another and also determine antibiotic resistance. The new technique permits searches for multiple diseases and antibiotic resistance in about a day, compared to the several days required by earlier methods. According to an announcement, “they can detect as many as 557 genes, making it possible for them to screen for 40 different species of bacteria, 1,200 serotypes of Salmonella, five common serotypes of E. coli, and resistance to the 45 most common antibiotics used to treat human and animal illnesses caused by these pathogens.”
Sources:
Rapid test for pathogens developed by K-State researchers http://www.physorg.com/news138592074.html%20KSU%20microarrays
Researchers Developing Diagnostic 'Lab On A Chip' http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070806160105.htm

New Bacterium Can Provide Arsenic Cleanup and Possibly Detection
Thomas Osborne and Joanne Santini from University College, London presented a paper at the Society for General Microbiology’s autumn meeting announcing the discovery, at Yellowknife NWT, Canada, of a bacterium which converts arsenic in water from arsenite to much more easily removable arsenate, even at very low temperatures. The researchers also hope that an enzyme enabling the development of an arsenic biosensor can be isolated from these new strains of bacteria. [See also Arsenic-polluted Water Decontamination Using Sulphate in November 2004 and Transgenic Plants to Decontaminate the Environment (removes arsenic from contaminated soil) in the October 2002 environmental security monthly reports.]
Sources:
Bacteria Found That Cleans Up Arsenic Contamination http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2008/2008-09-08-01.asp
Researchers find cold-loving, arsenic-eating bacteria in Yellowknife gold mine http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5hWVrCjSf09VceYbYMpwdLAetyBgg

New Treatment Improves Congo Red Decontamination
K.P. Gopinath of the Dept. of Chemical Engineering, A.C. College of Technology, Anna University, Chennai, India, and colleagues reportedly have developed an improved technique for the degradation of the toxic pollutant Congo Red. The method uses sonolysis as pretreatment followed by biological treatment with Bacillus sp. Sonolysis is the breaking of chemical bonds with sound.
Source:
Improved biodegradation of Congored by using Bacillus sp http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V24-4TCXGB9-2&_user=10&_coverDate=09%2F07%2F2008&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=7b8acf1bfa93ce92353434722cbd4609

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
Small Omnidirectional Wind Turbines Could Provide Remote Power
quietrevolution ltd. [sic] of London, England, has developed a wind turbine, which is silent, only 16’ tall and 9’ in diameter, and responds to wind from any direction. The manufacturer estimates its probable output on a typical site at 6000-10000 kWh per year, i.e., up to about 1 kW continuous equivalent. Further development is expected to greatly reduce its current cost of almost $45,000 plus installation.
Sources:
quietrevolution Company http://www.quietrevolution.co.uk
Tiny Turbines May Have a Bright Future http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,575877,00.html

New Materials Provide Improved Ultracapacitor Storage
Hao Zhang of the Research Institute of Chemical Defense in China is lead author of a paper in Nano Letters describing a new structure for ultracapacitor electrodes consisting of flower-shaped manganese oxide nanoparticles deposited on carbon nanotubes vertically grown on a tantalum-foil base. The authors report that the new arrangement delivers five times as much power as activated-carbon electrodes. Cost may be a problem with this technique. Also, Prof. Rod Ruoff of the University of Texas at Austin is working with graphene as an electrode material, and believes that it may double the storage capability of ultracapacitors. Jiyoung Oh and Mikhail “Mike” Kozlov at the Univ. of Texas at Dallas’ NanoTech Institute are conducting similar work using sheets of single-walled carbon nanotubes embedded with the polymer polypyrrole.
Sources:
Growth of Manganese Oxide Nanoflowers on Vertically-Aligned Carbon Nanotube Arrays for High-Rate Electrochemical Capacitive Energy Storage
http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/abstract.cgi/nalefd/2008/8/i09/abs/nl800925j.html
Breakthrough In Energy Storage: New Carbon Material Shows Promise Of Storing Large Quantities Of Renewable Electrical Energy http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080916143910.htm
Nanoflowers Improve Ultracapacitors. A novel design could boost energy storage http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/21375
Important Twist in Supercapacitor Research http://www.physorg.com/news141048611.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety becomes part of the International Conference on Chemicals Management
The Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety will be integrated into the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) as an advisory body providing an open, transparent and inclusive forum for addressing new and emerging issues related to sound chemicals management. The decision was taken at the sixth session of the IFCS, held in Dakar, Senegal, September 15-19, 2008. The Forum also considered nanotechnology issues, decided to include manufactured nanomaterials on its agenda, and discussed (without reaching consensus) international transport of lead and cadmium via trade. [See also Call for Global Ban on Lead-based Paints in October 2007, Call for Reinforcements to Chemical Safety in September 2006, and other related items in previous environmental security scanning reports.]
Sources:
Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety VI: Global Partnership in Chemical Safety Contributing to the 2020 Goal http://www.iisd.ca/chemical/ifcs6/
Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety––Forum VI http://www.who.int/ifcs/forums/six/en/index.html

UN to Demand Israel Pay Lebanon Compensations for War Damages
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will submit a motion to the Security Council requesting Israel to pay Lebanon nearly $1 billion for environmental damages caused during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. The amount is based on a World Bank damage assessment including, inter alia, the cost of UN clean-up of the oil spill after Israel bombed a large refinery, but not related environmental damages. [See also Report on Lebanon After-war Environmental Assessment in February 2007, Environmental Legacy of Hezbollah-Israeli War in January 2007, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Report: UN to demand Israel pay Lebanon $1 billion in reparations http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1018564.html
UN chief 'urges Israel to pay Lebanon $1 billion' http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=95797

Nuclear Security Addressable only Internationally
The head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Thomas D’Agostino, said that the international community should agree on a common set of security standards to prevent the spread of WMD and terrorists or rogue nations acquiring sensitive materials. “Let me be clear when I say I believe the United States has a special responsibility in advancing nonproliferation and global security. But we should not and cannot do it alone,” he said. One important player might be the World Institute for Nuclear Security. The Institute formally opened its doors on September 29, 2008 in Vienna, Austria.
Meantime, a new disarmament study, Abolishing Nuclear Weapons, by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, examines the steps needed for ‘getting to zero’ and criticizes leaders advocating nuclear disarmament while “none of these states has an employee, let alone an interagency group, tasked full-time with identifying what would be required to verifiably decommission all its nuclear weapons.” [See also Increased Efforts Needed to Counter the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction in July-August 2008, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
International Agreement Needed on Nuclear Security Standards, NNSA Chief Says http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2008/9/18/2DC031E3-0221-4F30-BFE0-14C4795EC6B1.html
Abolishing Nuclear Weapons http://www.iiss.org/publications/adelphi-papers/2008-adelphi-papers/abolishing-nuclear-weapons/
Study Demands Commitment to Nuclear Disarmament http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2008/9/18/E44A3825-D295-4E29-B20B-E25BFC484AB0.html
World Institute for Nuclear Security http://www.nti.org/b_aboutnti/b7_WINS.html

Systems for Reducing Emissions Expanding
New Zealand Adopts Carbon Trading Scheme in 2009
The New Zealand Parliament passed the Climate Change (Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference) Bill that will set up the country’s first emissions trading scheme to help meet the country’s obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. The carbon credits system begins in 2009 and is set by sectors. All industries in a sector will effectively set limits on the amount of emitted greenhouse gas, with those who surpass their ceilings having to buy credits from emitters that produced emissions below their ceiling. The phases of sector inclusion are: forestry from 2008; transport by 2009; stationary energy, such as coal-fired power stations by 2010; and agricultural waste by 2013. Australia’s carbon trading scheme is set to begin by 2010. [See also Post-Kyoto Negotiations section in the April 2008 environmental security report]
Sources:
Climate Change (Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference) Bill http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Legislation/Bills/c/0/4/00DBHOH_BILL8368_1-Climate-Change-Emissions-Trading-and-Renewable.htm
New Zealand Parliament Passes Carbon Trading Scheme http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/50193/story.htm

China Adopting Pollution Tax Systems
Reportedly China formed a team of experts from several government agencies to study whether to impose an environmental tax on polluters to encourage emissions cuts. Deputy Minister for Environmental Protection Pan Yue was quoted as saying that the team is also assessing issues of compensation for environmental damage and creation of a trading system for polluting gases. There are no details of the proposed tax or when it might be introduced. China already introduced taxes aimed at emission reductions: in 2007 it cut export tax rebates for energy-intensive products, and in September 2008 it raised consumption taxes on large passenger vehicles.
Source:
China Mulls Green Tax to Curb Pollution – Report http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/50226/story.htm

Aviation and Shipping should be Subject to Emissions Cuts
The EU is proposing to include the shipping industry in the Emission Trading Scheme from 2013. However, climate scientists argue that, given the rapid growth of emissions from international aviation and shipping, it is not enough that they are included in the carbon-trading scheme, but they should be subject to emissions cuts regulations. [See also Aviation to be included in the ETS from 2012 in July-August 2008, Shipping to Face New Regulations to Reduce Air Pollution in September 2007, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Meantime, local actions are increasing. In California, a “clean trucks” program put in place by local port authorities will begin operating 1 October, when all pre-1989 diesel rigs will be barred from entering the Los Angeles and Long Beach waterfront marine terminals. The restrictions will continue incrementally through 1 January 2012, when only trucks meeting federal 2007 emission standards will be allowed in.
Sources:
Aviation and shipping cannot trade away emissions, scientist warns http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/sep/24/carbonemissions.emissionstrading
EU Lawmaker Demands Shipping Included in CO2 Caps http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/50188/story.htm
EU Lawmaker Warns CO2 Caps in Danger, Eyes Shipping http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/50185/story.htm
Ports gear up for Clean Trucks Program http://www.dailybreeze.com/ci_10580651

Ozone Continues to Thin over Antarctica Casting Doubt on Success of the Montreal Protocol
The World Meteorological Organization estimates that the ozone hole over Antarctica this year is 8% larger than its peak in 2007 and it might take another 50 years to completely recover. Nevertheless, without the Montreal Protocol, the impact at the polar regions would have been more significant, shows the “world avoided” computer model, which considers only chlorine changes, all the other variables being constant. [See also Call for Expanding Montreal Protocol on Ozone-Depleting Substances in September 2007, and other similar items on this issue in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
The world we avoided http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080905/full/news.2008.1081.html
Ozone hole 8% larger this year, meteorologists say http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/nation/6004433.html
The ozone hole of 2008 is larger than in 2007 http://www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/press_releases/pr_829_en.html

Arctic Needs New International Regulations
Legal experts participating to the Polar Law Symposium hosted by the United Nations University and the University of Akureyri in northern Iceland, September 7-9, 2008, concluded that a new legal framework is needed for the fragile and changing polar regions. They put forward a set of recommendations to governments, international bodies and other interested parties (to be distributed within six weeks of the event). “Many experts believe this new rush to the polar regions is not manageable within existing international law,” said A.H. Zakri, Director of the UNU Yokohama-based Institute of Advanced Studies, while Tatiana Saksina of the WWF expressed that “there should be new rules, stricter rules. We are proposing a new convention for the protection of the Arctic Ocean.”
Meantime, Russian President Medvedev re-launched military patrols in the Arctic waters and called on the security agency to establish a formal border in the region since it had “strategic importance” for Russia, while Gazprom announced the creation of a subsidiary company for the Arctic reserves exploration.
The economic benefits of an ice-free Arctic are also pushing the EU’s polar strategy up on the policy agenda, while a US-Canada expedition will explore the Arctic region, collecting data for mapping the Arctic seafloor and studying the geology of the sub-seafloor to build the case for the two countries’ rights. [See also The Debate over Strategic Control of the Arctic is Heating Up in July-August 2008, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
International Symposium: Looking beyond the International Polar Year. Emerging and re-emerging issues in international law and policy in the Polar Regions http://www.ias.unu.edu/sub_page.aspx?catID=8&ddlID=620
Thaw Of Polar Regions May Need New UN Laws – Experts http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/50115/story.htm
President Medvedev threatens Russian Arctic annexation http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article4773567.ece
Russia to cement claim over resource-rich Arctic http://www.neurope.eu/articles/89848.php
Unexplored Arctic region to be mapped http://www.physorg.com/news139663090.html
Melting ice cap pushes Arctic up EU agenda http://euobserver.com/9/26723/?rk=1

Increased Use of Space Technology for Monitoring Environmental Events
Kopernikus is the new name of the European joint earth observation system GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security). In addition to monitoring environmental events, Kopernikus will enhance people’s safety by providing early warnings of natural disasters and a basis of enhanced modeling activities to help better understand the drivers of climate change. The EU 5th Space Council adopted a Resolution on the priorities of Galileo and Kopernikus programs, while the Space Council highlighted the need to improve the coordination between civil and defense programs, and noted the intention of ESA’s Director General to submit a proposal for a program on Space Situational Awareness to set the basis towards the development of a European capability for monitoring European space infrastructure and of space debris.
Chinese officials say they have launched their first two natural disaster and environment monitoring satellites.
A report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program concluded that the utilization of Earth science information to manage resources and protect public health should improve. [See also Space Technology for Improving Planetary Knowledge and Security in April 2006, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Kopernikus - Europe's eye in the sky http://www.norwaypost.no/cgi-bin/norwaypost/imaker?id=194211
Forum GMES 2008 http://www.forumgmes2008.eu
Ministers meet to take forward the European Space Policy http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMW506EJLF_index_0.html
China launches natural disaster monitoring satellites http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-09/06/content_9806611.htm
Report Explores Use Of Earth Data To Support National Priorities http://www.spacemart.com/reports/Report_Explores_Use_Of_Earth_Data_To_Support_National_Priorities_999.html

Climate Change
Scientific Evidence and Natural Disasters
The four tropical storms, Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike, destroyed all of Haiti’s harvest, killed at least 328 people, and left some 800,000 people––about 10% of the population—in need of emergency assistance. Cuba, struck by hurricanes Gustav and Ike also suffered what the government described as the worst damage in the island’s history. In India, the unusually strong monsoon caused enormous flooding, with an estimated 3 million people in need of assistance “such that only the Army can handle it,” said Parshuram Rai, director, Centre for Environment and Food Security (CEFS) in New Delhi.
Meantime, in the arid Somali Region of Ethiopia it has not rained for three years, and the Horn of Africa is facing a humanitarian crisis, with 17 million people, including 3 million children, in urgent need of food and other critical assistance.
Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, warned that the country should prepare a network of long-term coastal observation sites to improve large wave understanding and increase preparedness for more severe and frequent storms.

Food and Water Security
The World Bank warns that the global food crises will be long-term as climate change, energy, and water scarcity intensify. In Africa, 100 million people are at risk of moving back into poverty. The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) argues that the world is facing not so much a food crisis as a water crisis, which might intensify, as water is likely to get scarcer due to global warming and increased demand.

Migration
Worldwatch Institute estimates that roughly one in every 36 people worldwide is moving involuntarily and warns that, as the trend increases, the international community is facing special challenges. Climate change will increase the ranks of “environmental refugees,” especially of the 600 million people living in low-lying areas. A research team from the School of Oceanographic Studies at the Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India, estimate that out of the 4.1 million people living in the Sunderbans, the largest delta region in the world, 70,000 would become ‘environmental refugees,’ by 2020. The initial land given to relocated people was decreased and is causing discontent. The rate of sea level rise is currently approaching 3.14 mm per year near Sagar Island and this could increase to 3.5 mm in the next few years due to global warming.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
The Northwest Passage has been ice-free since early August for the second year in a row and it’s the first year that both the Northwest Passage over the top of North America and Russia's Northeast Passage are free of ice. Although the ice is the second lowest (after last year’s record), the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) says “some climate modelers expect to see nothing but open water within five years.” This is corroborated by Canadian scientists who report that Canada’s Arctic ice shelves are disappearing at an incredibly high rate. The greatest changes are occurring at the highest northern latitudes; this summer alone, five ice shelves along the northern Ellesmere Island had shrunk by 23%.
The report Global Glacier Changes: Facts and Figures by UNEP and the World Glacier Monitoring Service is a comprehensive analysis of the fluctuations of glaciers and ice caps worldwide and presents the overall trend of glaciers’ retreat. The report underlines that while excellent data exist for Europe and North America, monitoring should urgently improve for “some strategically important regions” as the Tropics, Central Asia and the Polar Regions, where data gaps undermine the ability to provide early warning and plan preparedness accordingly.
According to initial calculations, Greenland has lost 150 billion tons of ice a year in the last four years. The Danish–American project GNET is part of a scientific observation network for monitoring and providing estimates on Greenland’s ice cap melting rate.
A Spanish research study has revealed that Pyrenean glaciers might disappear by 2050. Glaciological calculations have shown that since 1990 rapid melting has caused total regression of the smallest glaciers and 50%-60% of the surface area of the largest glaciers.
Satellite images revealed that the Karakoram-Himalayan glaciers have been retreating at around 110 meters a year over the period 1978 to 2006 compared to the 30 to 34 meters previously reported. Among human activities that have caused the retreat are listed intense military activities at the Siachen Glacier region, along with dumping of chemical and human waste. The Karakoram-Himalayan glaciers are headwaters for Asia’s nine largest rivers, including the Indus, Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze and Yellow rivers.

Rising Sea Levels
A study commissioned by the Dutch government recommends that the Netherlands should spend “an extra 1 to 1.5 billion euros per year” to 2100 (representing about 0.3% of the national income) since “The security challenge is urgent: the climate is changing, the sea level rising and river flows increasing while a quarter of dikes and dams do not meet the current safety norms.” The report predicts a sea level rise of between 0.65 and 1.3 meters (2.15 and 4.3 feet) by 2100 and up to four meters by 2200.
A team of US scientists concluded that it is very unlikely that sea levels would rise by more than 2m (7ft) by 2100, even if one factored in faster melting and flow of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and glaciers. However, paleoclimatologists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, analyzing the prehistoric Laurentide ice sheet (today’s Greenland is an analog of those earlier climatic conditions) say that Greenland could melt faster than estimated based on contemporary trends, raising sea levels 1.3 meters by 2100.
The representatives of four Pacific island nations––Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Palau, and Micronesia––called on delegates at the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate to increase help and adaptation actions. Kiribati’s President Anote Tong noted that his country has only several decades before the country’s islands become uninhabitable. Tonga’s Prime Minister Feleti Vaka’uta Sevele underlined that “climate refugees from some of the Pacific Island Forum countries is no longer a prospect but a reality, with relocations of communities due to sea level rise already taking place.”
Cities along the West coast of Africa from Mauritania to Cameroon will be underwater as a result of rising sea levels by the end of the century, environmental experts say. A separate report from South Africa says Cape Town has a one in five chance of severe flooding within 25 years as a result of global warming.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The Climate Change Review by Professor Ross Garnaut, commissioned by Australia’s government, assesses what should be targets for cutting CO2 emissions by the greatest emitting countries to respond to climate change. The report recommends the following targets: for Australia 80% for 2050 with a 10% interim by 2020; same for Canada; for the U.S. 81%, for Japan 75%, and the EU 69%. If considering emissions per capita, China should cut only 4%. The Australian Federal Treasury will release its emissions trading scheme economic model in October, while emissions trading legislation is expected to be introduced by the end of the year.
Sources:
UN appeals for over $100 million to aid Haiti storm-stricken survivors http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=27996&Cr=Haiti&Cr1=Storm
Cuba suffered what the government described as the worst damage in the island’s history after being struck by hurricanes Gustav and Ike. http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12262213&amp;fsrc=nwl
Flooding in India: Why wasn't the government ready? http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0905/p04s01-wosc.html
Africa's "silent famine" deepens http://tvnz.co.nz/view/page/536641/2055472
Running dry. The Economist, Sep 18th 2008 http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displayStory.cfm?story_id=12260907&amp;subjectID=348924&amp;fsrc=nwl
Vital Signs Update: Environment a Growing Driver in Displacement of People http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5888?utm_campaign=vital_signs_online&utm_medium=email&utm_source=refugees&emc=el&m=146333&l=8&v=2cd1f28709
Global Glaciers Changes: facts and figures http://www.grid.unep.ch/glaciers/
War zone’s melting glacier a ‘colossal’ risk http://www.thenational.ae/article/20080921/FOREIGN/884783946/1103/ART
Dutch government warned against rising sea levels http://www.terradaily.com/2007/080903152846.60bx5glo.html
General Debate of the 63rd Session (23 September - 1 October 2008) http://www.un.org/ga/63/generaldebate/
WEST AFRICA: Coastline to be submerged by 2099 http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=79986
Garnaut Climate Change Review http://www.garnautreview.org.au/

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
Survey of Nanotube Toxicity to Immune Systems
A recent paper reviews some existing studies assessing carbon nanotubes’ toxicity to immune systems and provides the potential mechanistic explanation.

International Environmental Nanotechnology Conference 2008
The 2008 International Environmental Nanotechnology Conference: Applications and Implications will be held 7-9 October in Chicago IL. According to the announcement, “The conference will bring together researchers and practitioners from around the world to discuss the nanotechnology applications for remediation of environmental contaminants; the implications of releasing manufactured nanoparticles into the environment, and pollution control and nano-enabled sensing.”
Sources:
Exploring the Immunotoxicity of Carbon Nanotubes http://www.springerlink.com/content/g4u1716412126840/
International Environmental Nanotechnology Conference: Applications and Implications http://emsus.com/nanotechconf/index.htm

Reports and Information Suggested for Review
Environmental Considerations Should be Included in Planning Military Operations
“Green Warriors. Army Environmental Considerations for Contingency Operations from Planning Through Post-Conflict” by RAND Corporation Arroyo Center, is a comprehensive analysis of the environmental aspects in military operations. It shows that considering environmental factors in military actions gives strategic advantages in combat and post-conflict operations, increasing the overall missions’ success. Environmental conditions impact troops’ health, safety and security and affect diplomatic relations and local populations’ and neighboring countries’ confidence in the operation. However, the study finds that the Army doesn’t have a comprehensive approach to environmental considerations at any phase, or in contracting. The recommendations are: “1. Improve the policy and guidance for environmental considerations in contingency operations. 2. Encourage an environmental ethic throughout the Army that extends to contingency operations. 3. Better incorporate environmental considerations into planning. 4. Improve pre-deployment and field environmental training. 5. Invest more in environmental resources and good environmental practices for field operations. 6. Use a ‘sustainability’ model for contingency operations.” Although specifically analyzing the Army, the results apply to any actors involved in contingency operations.
Green Warriors. Army Environmental Considerations for Contingency Operations from Planning Through Post-Conflict http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG632/
Downloadable PDF: http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND_MG632.pdf

International Nuclear Safety Regime Review
“A Guide to Global Nuclear Governance: Safety, Security and Nonproliferation” is a review of international agreements and bodies addressing nuclear safety and security issues around the world. The report was prepared by the Canadian Centre for International Governance Innovation and is intended to be followed next year by a report of recommendations to improve international monitoring of nuclear material and combat proliferation.
Sources:
CIGI Publishes First-Of-Its-Kind Nuclear Guide http://pr-usa.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=130760&Itemid=30
A Guide to Global Nuclear Governance: Safety, Security and Nonproliferation http://www.igloo.org/cigi/download-nocache/Publications/research/nucleare/test/testa/global_nuc

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July-August 2008

A New Step Toward Preventing Water Wars
Falling water tables around the world increase the likelihood that abuse of international groundwater aquifers will cause conflicts. The International Law Commission adopted draft articles for the first international framework convention on transboundary groundwater aquifers. The articles cover issues related to utilization of transboundary aquifers; activities that have or are likely to have an impact on aquifers; and measures for the protection, preservation, and management of transboundary aquifers. The draft articles create a framework and set of principles for further negotiations to eventually create a binding convention. The articles are compatible with but independent from the UN Convention on the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (UN Watercourses Convention), and hence, not dependent upon its ratification. The UN Watercourses Convention was adopted in 1997 (with only China, Turkey, and Burundi voting against) and has 16 of the 35 required ratifications to go into force. At the 2008 World Water Week held in Stockholm, the WWF called upon states to support the Convention’s entry into force as a way to prevent future possible conflicts due to competition over water resources.
Sources:
International Law Commission Adopts Draft Articles of a Transboundary Aquifers Convention http://www.asil.org/insights/2008/08/insights080827.html
International Law Commission sixtieth session; summary of the session http://untreaty.un.org/ilc/sessions/60/60sess.htm#summary
World needs global water agreement now http://www.panda.org/news_facts/newsroom/press_releases/index.cfm?uNewsID=143643
2008 World Water Week Press releases http://www.worldwaterweek.org/press/index.asp
WWF in 'water wars' warning http://www.inthenews.co.uk/news/wwf-in-water-wars-warning-$1236964.htm

East African Environmental Projects to Fight Crime and Link Journalists
The Environmental Crime Project launched jointly by the Institute for Security Studies and Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization has the mandate to develop mechanisms to improve environmental law enforcement and policy making in the East African region. The project will operate in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Seychelles, Ethiopia and Sudan, increasing protection against all forms of environmental crimes.
The new Network of Climate Journalists in the Greater Horn of Africa (NECJOGHA, www.necjogha.org) represents an interactive resource for environment-related information and communication in the region. The network is the result of collaboration among many international and national environment organizations, universities, and climate centers.
Sources:
Stakeholders Meeting and Launch of ISS-EAPCCO Environmental Crime Project http://www.issafrica.org/index.php?link_id=6299&link_type=12&tmpl_id=3
Launch of the Environmental Crime Project in Eastern Africa http://www.necjogha.org/node/86
NECJOGHA http://www.necjogha.org

Environmental Security Issues Discussed at the G8 in Japan
Environmental security issues such as climate change, food crises, energy security and disaster reduction were the focus of the 34th G8 Summit held in Toyako, Hokkaido, July 7–9, 2008. Although the Summit ended without an agreement on firm targets for reducing greenhouse gases, the final declaration stipulates a goal of at least 50% by 2050, with mid-term goals to be adopted by individual countries. This does not meet the suggestion made by the G5 countries (Mexico, Brazil, China, India and South Africa), which also attended the Summit, that developed countries’ greenhouse gas reduction targets should be more than 80% by 2050 with an interim target of a 25-40% reduction by 2020. G8 leaders also agreed to implementing ambitious economy-wide mid-term GHG emission reduction goals, using sectoral approaches for achieving national emission objectives, conducting an energy forum to focus on efficiency and new technologies to be held in 2009 in Japan, and establishing the Climate Investment Funds to be administered by the World Bank to support the efforts of developing countries.
Sources:
G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit http://www.g8summit.go.jp/eng/
G8 statement on climate change and environment http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jul/08/climatechange.carbonemissions/print

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

Nanotech Advances for Safer Environment
Single-walled Carbon Nanotubes Give Support to Antimicrobial Enzyme
A team of researchers from the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University produced antimicrobial coatings that have the potential to prevent diseases from spreading on contaminated surfaces. They mixed a lysozome solution with physically strengthening single-walled carbon nanotubes, and used layer-by-layer deposition to produce an inherently antimicrobial surface.
Sources:
Strong Antimicrobial Coatings: Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes Armored with Biopolymers http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/sample.cgi/nalefd/asap/html/nl080522t.html
Super strong antimicrobial coatings for medicine, defense http://www.physorg.com/news134652009.html
Engineering team recognized for breakthrough antimicrobial research http://www.eng.auburn.edu/admin/marketing/newsroom/2008/june/antimicrobial.html

Nanotube-based Coating Repels Water to Achieve Self-cleaning Surface
A research team led by Ayyappanpillai Ajayaghosh at the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology in Trivandrum, India, developed a coating that produces surfaces so hydrophobic that a 2° slope causes water droplets to run off them, taking dust and other contaminants with them. The treatment is a dispersion of carbon nanotubes that coated with para-ethylene vinylene, a highly hydrophobic molecule.
Source:
Carbon Nanotubes with Nanoscopic Paraffin Coating Form Self-Cleaning Surfaces http://www.azonano.com/news.asp?newsID=6912

New Detection and Cleanup Techniques
Chemical Probe Offers Fast Detection of Ricin
A team of the Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California at San Diego developed a fast-acting (30 minute) test for the presence of ricin-caused cell damage, based on inserting into RNA a synthetic nucleoside that glows under UV, when it is damaged by ricin. Previous tests, which detect the ricin protein itself, require 48 hours. The researchers anticipate that the technique can be implemented in a chip for use in the field.
Source:
Ricin’s Deadly Action Revealed by Glowing Probes http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/newsrel/general/08-08RicinGlowingProbe.asp

Single-electron Transistors (SETs) and NEMS Make for New High-performance Sensor
A team at the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, England, part of the EU FP-7 NEMSIC project, is developing an extremely small, high-performance, low-power sensor in silicon which will have applications in biosensing and environmental monitoring. The device co-integrates single-electron transistors (SETs) and nano-electro-mechanical systems (NEMS) on a common silicon technology platform to produce the smallest sensor offered so far.
Source:
World's Smallest, High-Performance and Low-Power Sensor in Silicon http://www.azonano.com/news.asp?newsID=6740

New Studies of Bacterial Oil Degradation in Contaminated Soil
Two papers in the recent issue of the African Journal of Biotechnology report on studies, one in Nigeria and one in Kwazulu-Natal, of bacterial degradation of oil in contaminated soil. The latter research found five indigenous bacteria that degraded diesel by more than 85% within two weeks.
Sources:
Degradation of diesel oil in a polluted soil using Bacillus subtilis http://www.academicjournals.org/AJB/PDF/pdf2008/17Jun/Nwaogu%20et%20al.pdf
Isolation and characterization of diesel oil degrading indigenous microorganisms in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa http://www.academicjournals.org/AJB/PDF/pdf2008/17Jun/Singh%20and%20Lin.pdf

Improved Technique for Removing Heavy Metals from Water
Scientists of the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences of the State Key Laboratory of Environmental Chemistry and Ecotoxicology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, developed an improved technique for removing heavy metals from water. Fe3O4 magnetic nanoparticles coated with humic acid are added to the water; they adsorb heavy metals, and are then removed with magnets. Their innovation is the use of the humic acid coating to prevent the particles from aggregating or oxidizing, while the acid itself combines with heavy metal ions.
Source:
Applying nanotechnology to water treatment http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=6810.php

Increasing Energy Efficiency
New Catalysts Improve Hydrogen Generation Processes for Energy Storage
Prof. Daniel Nocera of MIT announced development of a new electrolyzing technique that provides an efficient way to use electricity, as generated by solar panels or a wind farm, to split water into hydrogen and oxygen for storage and later use in a fuel cell. The technique is based on a novel cobalt/phosphate catalyst that allows the process to be carried out in an inexpensive non-specialized environment.
Similarly, scientists of Monash Univ. “have developed an efficient water oxidation catalyst, based on a manganese cubane cluster, which combines features of photosynthetic enzymes with the light harvesting power of dye-sensitized solar cells … [and, paired] with a proton reducing catalytic cathode, … have produced a photoelectrochemical cell that produces pure H2 and O2 from water and sunlight.”
Finally, Prof. Umit Ozkan, of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at Ohio State University, designed an inexpensive cerium-based catalyst that produces hydrogen from ethanol or other biofuels. This would allow conversion from liquid fuel to hydrogen to be done at the final fueling point.
Sources:
'Major discovery' from MIT primed to unleash solar revolution http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/oxygen-0731.html
Scientists learn from nature to split water http://www.physorg.com/news138179858.html
Solar water splitting for renewable hydrogen production http://www.sync.monash.edu.au/absorption.html
A better way to make hydrogen from biofuels http://www.physorg.com/news138450335.html

Integrated Monitoring/Control System Aids Buildings’ Environmental Performance
Agilewaves Inc. of Menlo Park, CA combined its Resource Monitor with a Crestron control system to produce a smart building system through which energy consumption can now be automatically tracked and controlled in real time. The Resource Monitor collects data from sensors placed in key areas, providing real-time information on resource consumption that can be broken down to specific floors, rooms, and appliances. It then alerts the Control System to act and keep energy consumption within limits by adjusting a thermostat, lights, water or blinds, for example.
Source:
Agilewaves Marries Monitoring and Control in New Smart System http://www.greenerbuildings.com/news/2008/07/28/agilewaves-marries-monitoring-and-control-new-smart-system

New Materials Provide Hope for Improved Ultra-capacitor
EEStor, of Cedar Park TX, claims that its electrical energy storage unit will have more than three times the energy density of the top lithium-ion batteries today. The unit is based on a ceramic material consisting of a barium titanate powder coated with aluminum oxide and a type of glass material. Some experts have expressed doubts about the material’s ability to withstand the high voltage gradients necessary to achieve the stated capacities, but others are more supportive.
Source:
Better Batteries Charge Up http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/21171

New Scheme for Wireless Sensor Networks Improves Many Metrics
Los Alamos National Laboratory computer scientist Sami Ayyorgun developed a new communications scheme for wireless sensor networks that improves a number of network performance measures, e.g., connectivity, energy, delay, throughput, system longevity, coverage, and security. The technique depends on each node’s using a dynamically variable transmitting power, chosen according to an algorithm described in the paper.
Sources:
Towards a Self-organizing Stochastic-Communications Paradigm for Wireless Ad-hoc Networks; Los Alamos National Laboratory, USA
Networks of the Future: Extending Our Senses into the Physical World http://www.lanl.gov/news/index.php/fuseaction/home.story/story_id/14183

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Biological Weapons Convention Meeting
The Meeting of Experts from States parties to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) held in Geneva, August 18–22, 2008, is part of a four-year program to improve effectiveness of the Convention. The focus of the meeting was increasing biosafety and biosecurity at international, regional, and national levels. The proposals included: improving awareness and education of scientists and policymakers; adopting and/or developing codes of conduct (especially for scientists who deal with biological materials); establishing international standards and external certification and audit mechanisms; increasing regional and international cooperation to improve biosafety and biosecurity methods; and organizing workshops for officials and scientists. [See also Progress for Enforcing Biological Weapons Convention in December 2007 and Sixth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention in December 2006 and other related environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Biological Weapons Convention Experts to Meet In Geneva from 18 To 22 August http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpNewsByYear_en)/623C880718912F67C12574A50040EA3F?OpenDocument
The Inter Review Conference Meetings. 2008 Meeting of Experts: 18-22 August 2008 http://www.opbw.org/new_process/mx2008/mx2008.htm
UN hosts summit on dangers of biological weapons http://www.mg.co.za/article/2008-08-18-un-hosts-summit-on-dangers-of-biological-weapons

Increased Efforts Needed to Counter the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction
The second report of the U.N. Security Council 1540 Committee concluded that although nations have made progress since the first report of the committee in April 2006, further measures are needed to completely carry out their obligations under the resolution intended to counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Information on all 192 U.N. nations was collected, out of which 155 provided reports on their 1540 implementation activities. The committee’s recommendations include enhancing its own efforts, as well as improving collaboration with global and regional intergovernmental organizations to assist nations with the implementation process.
“It’s Asia that has the most potent latent capabilities to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons,” said Paul Dibb, professor at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defense Studies Center, at an Asian Pacific security forum. He also noted that groups such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum have failed to establish effective nonproliferation arrangements, while Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s suggestion for an Asia Pacific Community to deal with security challenges in the region enjoys little enthusiasm. The mission of the new U.N. Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific, opened in Katmandu, Nepal, is to counter possible nuclear smuggling by terrorist and criminal groups in the region.
Meanwhile, the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, initially supporting the program to secure and destroy WMD materials in Russia and Ukraine, agreed to expand their efforts to other countries (not yet specified). [See also New Concerns Rising over Chemical Weapons in April 2007 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Progress Has Been Made, but More Needs To Be Done To Implement Resolution 1540 in Full, United Nations Security Council 1540 Committee Concludes http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/sc9425.doc.htm
Asian neighbours 'could go nuclear' http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,24213168-5007133,00.html
G-8 Global Partnership: Adapting to New Realities http://www.partnershipforglobalsecurity.org/documents/Press_Release_G8GP_Final.pdf
U.N. non-proliferation center in Nepal http://www.metimes.com/Security/2008/08/18/un_non-proliferation_center_in_nepal/2741/

Support for Total Ban on Nuclear Weapons Increases
Marking the 40th anniversary of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, on July 1, 2008, members of the European Parliament launched a Parliamentary declaration in support of the Nuclear Weapons Convention and a move towards total elimination of nuclear arsenals. Meantime, Australia established the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, the Seven Nation Initiative for nuclear disarmament got revived, and both U.S. presidential candidates supported the vision of a nuclear weapons-free world. [See also Australia to Propose Panel to Advance Work for the NPT Review in 2010 in June 2008, Non-Proliferation Treaty Deadlock Continues in May 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Members of the European Parliament launch support for a total ban on nuclear weapons: Marking the 40th anniversary of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty http://www.gsinstitute.org/pnnd/archives/07_01_08_PR_EP.html
International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament http://www.pm.gov.au/media/Release/2008/media_release_0352.cfm

Aviation to be included in the ETS from 2012
The European Parliament adopted legislation to include aviation in the EU Emissions Trading System starting January 1, 2012. The regulation applies to all flights starting and/or landing in Europe (including intercontinental flights) by EU and non-EU airlines. Exceptions apply to: flights for humanitarian purposes under a UN mandate; emergency flights; police, customs and military flights; research flights; and small airline companies producing low emissions. [See also Provisional Agreement for Including Aviation in the Emission Trading Scheme from 2012 in June 2008 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Aviation to be included in the European Trading System from 2012 as MEPs adopt legislation http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/064-33577-189-07-28-911-20080707IPR33572-07-07-2008-2008-false/default_en.htm
Aviation industry attacks EU emissions plan that effects airlines worldwide http://euobserver.com/9/26511

The Debate over Strategic Control of the Arctic is Heating Up
This year, for the first time in known human history, both the Northwest and Northeast Passages are free of ice, opening the opportunity for the Arctic shortcut shipping route. Scientists estimate that by the summer of 2030, the Arctic might be completely ice-free for a few weeks. This increases concerns over security, environment, and resource-race issues, but, most of all, over the strategic control of the Arctic. While the multilateral negotiations are stalled, the Nordic countries continue to build their cases for territorial and security claims.
Canada is expanding by half a million square kilometers its Arctic Ocean territory––doubling the 100 nautical miles of the coastline that it presently regulates––and will make it mandatory for all ships entering its polar waters to report their presence. By the current regulations, registration with national authorities of ships in the Arctic is voluntary. “Canada takes responsibility for environmental protection and enforcement in our Arctic waters,” said Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The claim includes the Northwest Passage, which no other country recognizes as a Canadian waterway. At a geology conference in Norway, Canada detailed its territorial claims to the Lomonosov Ridge, arguing that the ridge is part of the North American continent, not part of Siberia, as Russia has asserted. Canada’s argument is supported by the Danish government, which also hopes to expand its part of the energy-rich ridge. Meantime, Greenland, encouraged by possible increased revenues from resource exploitations, hopes to become financially independent and therefore aspire to its own sovereignty.
Meantime, a U.S. Coast Guard-led expedition was sent out on a mapping mission to determine the extent of the continental shelf north of Alaska and map the ocean floor. The data gathered could be used for oil and natural gas exploration. Margaret Hays, the director of the oceanic affairs office at the U.S. State Department, said the Alaskan continental shelf may lie up to 600 nautical miles from the coastline, far beyond the 200-mile economic exploitation zone. The UN deadline for territorial claims is 2013.
Meantime, China sent its third expedition to the North Pole, saying its purposes are purely scientific, for studying climate change in the area and possible implications for China, rather than exploration of natural resources.
In view of the Arctic debate, Durham University’s International Boundaries Research Unit has prepared a map and explanatory notes showing the region’s current state of affairs and key disputed territories. The map should help politicians and policy makers to understand areas of maritime jurisdiction as they engage in and try to settle sea territorial disputes.
As the ice recedes, new rules are needed to prevent “a rush to exploit all the available resources of the Arctic - another Klondike - and avoiding the destabilizing effects of massive infrastructure developments,” said Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the European Environment Agency.
Sources:
Northeast and Northwest Passages Both Free of Ice http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,574815,00.html
PM pledges wider Arctic patrols http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20080828.ARCTIC28//TPStory/Environment
more than 200 cruise ships circled Greenland in 2007, up from 27 in 2004 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/17/world/europe/17arctic.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
Rush to Arctic as warming opens oil deposits http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/08/12/MN5R1290QE.DTL&hw=Coile&sn=001&sc=1000
Russia’s Arctic ambitions challenged http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9d1a80e0-6c7d-11dd-96dc-0000779fd18c.html?nclick_check=1
A Push to Increase Icebreakers in the Arctic http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/17/world/europe/17arctic.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
Russia leads scramble for Arctic http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/2570295/Russia-leads-scramble-for-Arctic.html
U.S. ship heads for Arctic to define territory http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN1138192220080811?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&rpc=22&sp=true
US mission to Arctic will lay claim to gas reserves http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/2549271/US-mission-to-Arctic-will-lay-claim-to-gas-reserves.html
The Race To Own The Top Of The World http://www.arcticoag.com/documents/press.html
Ice Free http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/magazine/27wwln-phenom-t.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
Chief scientist: China's North Pole trip focuses only on climate studies http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90781/90879/6449077.html
New map aims to help battle for Arctic territories http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSL562407320080806?sp=true
Maritime jurisdiction and boundaries in the Arctic region (map) http://www.dur.ac.uk/ibru/resources/arctic/

Climate Change
Scientific Evidences
The “Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate” report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research warns that extreme weather events such as the drought that hit this year in Atlanta, the heat-wave in New York, and the flooding of Des Moines are likely to increase in frequency across North America as the planet warms.
At the opening of the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, attended by more than 2,500 scientists and government officials, NOAA revealed that nearly half of U.S. coral reef ecosystems are considered to be in “poor” or “fair” condition.
A “Position Analysis: CO2 Emissions And Climate Change: Ocean Impacts And Adaptation Issues” by the Australian Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre suggest that oceanic acidification rose to the point that it should be considered in security strategies and longer-term national risk assessments. The analysis states that CO2 in the atmosphere is at its highest level in 650,000 (possibly 23 million) years, and half has been dissolved in the oceans, increasing their acidity. Ocean acidification affects coral structures, marine life, and fisheries, potentially threatening the food security of millions in the Asia-Pacific, and presenting strategic and humanitarian challenges. As environmental threats for Pacific Island communities increase, so mount demands on Australia to assist countries facing environmental disasters.

Food and Water Security
The food crisis continues to deteriorate. Malnutrition in India will get worse as the country may lose up to 17% of its farming income due to climate change. India and Cambodia are promoting the use of rat meat to offset the food crisis. Bangladesh might lose some 30% of its food production by 2050. The island of Mindanao in the Philippines may experience a food crisis as internal conflict forces displacement of many. Tropical storms in Haiti such as Fay worsen the food crisis, triggering new protests. UN agencies say that 50% of Somalia will be totally dependent on food aid and emergency assistance over the next year. UNICEF says that food shortage might affect up to 70% of rural population in the south, with one in six children suffering from acute malnutrition. South Africa might have its maize crop reduced by 20% within 15 to 20 years as drought worsens in the west, while the east is increasingly afflicted by severe storms.
Three successive years of drought in the West Bank and restraint on movement brought some 50,000 Bedouins and herders to the brink of emergency, says the International Committee of the Red Cross, which helps them face an acute water shortage. This is aggravating Palestinian frustrations over the control of water resources in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. In Afghanistan, though, the food crises might help the government and international community efforts in encouraging the replacement of poppy crops with food crops, tackling both the drug trade and the food crisis.
Meantime, UNCTAD notes that while the world tends to address the urgent humanitarian aspects of global food crisis, attention should be focused on the structure of trade and development policy that underlies the crisis. Similarly, some analysis papers state that the world is producing enough to feed its population, but one of the major problems behind the food crisis is that as much as half of all food grown is lost or wasted (which means also wasted water). A policy brief, “Saving Water: From Field to Fork – Curbing Losses and Wastage in the Food Chain” produced by FAO, the International Water Management Institute, and the Stockholm International Water Institute, calls on all actors in society to reduce food waste by half, by 2025.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Experts at the World Water Week conference held in Stockholm warned of the rapid glacial melting and dramatic changes in rainfall in the world’s mountainous regions. Himalayan glaciers are retreating the most rapidly, said Mats Eriksson, of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. Stretching across China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Myanmar, Bhutan and Afghanistan, the Himalayas range constitutes a major source of water for some of the most populous parts of the planet.
Arctic Ocean sea ice might set another record low this summer, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center, and to ESA’s Envisat satellite observations. The direct route through the Northwest Passage became almost free of ice, while the Amundsen Northwest Passage has been passable since July.

Rising Sea Levels
Sea levels could rise four meters, making some Pacific islands uninhabitable within the next decade, warns Australian expert Will Steffen, head of the climate change unit at the Australian National University and science adviser to the federal Government. Tuvalu might be underwater by 2050. He says that polar ice sheets melting have been underestimated.
West Africa’s 4,000-kilometre (2500-mile) coastline––from Senegal to Cameroon–– might be dramatically changed by the end of the century due to rising sea levels of up to 2 cm (0.8 inches) per year that will damage fragile coastline strips, especially in low-lying and densely populated deltas. Among the cities worst hit would be the Gambian capital Banjul and Nigeria’s economic capital, Lagos, home to 15 million people.
Off the southern coast of Ghana, the ocean is rising steadily, forcing residents to move every few years. However, soon, some villages will have no place left to run, as the available properties are too expensive.
In Britain about 70 landmarks sites around the coastline are threatened by rising seas and coastal erosion, according to the National Trust.

Migration
Bangladesh is considered among the countries most vulnerable to rising sea levels as a one-meter rise in sea levels could wipe out 20% of its landmass, creating 30 million environmental refugees by 2050. However, based on 32 years of satellite images, scientists from the Dhaka-based Center for Environment and Geographic Information Services, say that Bangladesh’s landmass has actually increased by 20 square kilometers (8 square miles) annually due to sediment carried down by the big Himalayan rivers––the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. Nevertheless, the highly populated coastal area remains vulnerable to climate change effects such as shorter but more severe monsoons, more violent tropical storms, longer periods of drought, and increased salinization, all impacting people’s livelihoods.

Climate Modeling
The Center for a New American Security gathered some 40 climate scientists and experts in security, environmental policy, and business from Asia, Europe and the U.S. for a “war game” involving global warming. Four teams, representing China, Europe, India, and the U.S, had to negotiate the best deal for their team, in the case of a scenario set in 2015. The climate simulation up to 2100, based on the worst-case scenario proposed by the IPCC, was provided by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. The three-day exercise confirmed the difficulties of such negotiations and might have pinpointed some specific aspects that should be considered in real situations.
The new NCAR Front Range Flash Flood Prediction System being tested by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder CO provides advance notice of potentially deadly flash floods. According to the announcement, the system integrates real-time weather information with datasets about hydrology and terrain. These datasets incorporate information about land surface conditions, such as terrain slope, soil composition and surface vegetation. They also include information on stream flow and channel conditions. The goal of the system is to furnish a 30-minute or longer warning of a flood.
New computer modeling shows that changes of the Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation (ATHC) due to melting glaciers and sea ice could influence the sea surface temperature changes in the Gulf of Guinea, thus possibly causing African Monsoon failures, resulting in up to 60% rainfall reduction and intensifying drought. The effect is estimated to be felt in less than a decade, with more drastic consequences predicted for the 25-35 years after the onset of increased freshwater additions to the ocean resulting in a rapidly weakened ATHC. The authors suggest monitoring the ATHC’s changes and effects on the climate in the tropical Atlantic.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The third UN climate talks for a post-2012 treaty took place August 21-27 in Accra, Ghana, attended by about 1,600 delegates from some 160 nations. Progress was made on focus-issues such as strategies for slowing deforestation in developing nations, and considering a sectoral approach for greenhouse gas reduction targets. Rich countries insisted on a differentiation of approach and obligations of developing nations to greenhouse gas emissions based on their economic strength, pointing out that some developing nations such as Singapore, Argentina and some OPEC states have grown richer than some developed nations which have to comply with greenhouse gas emissions cut obligations. Rapidly industrializing countries have refused to accept the overall reduction targets that would be imposed on the rich nations, but progress was made in developing nations accepting targets for specific, highly polluting industries such as cement, steel, and aluminum. The conclusions will be compiled for further discussion at COP 14 in December 2008, in Poznan, Poland.
Some nations outside the Kyoto framework want to set binding targets for emissions and act as a bridge between the developing and developed nations. For example, South Korea wants to announce in 2009 its 2020 greenhouse gases targets.
Japan announced plans to reduce total carbon emissions by up to 80% by 2050. In order to engage consumers in the “CO2 reduction revolution,” carbon footprint labels will be put on most products’ packaging.
Sources:
Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap3-3/final-report/default.htm
No credit as oceans turn sour http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23970127-11949,00.html
UN agencies warns of worsening food crisis in Somalia http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-08/23/content_9648262.htm
West Bank: ICRC helps Bedouins facing acute water shortage http://www.icrc.org/web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/israel-palestine-news-100708
Pakistan food crisis unlikely to improve soon: WB meeting http://www.thenews.com.pk/print1.asp?id=131610
Are we ready to deal with world food crisis? http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2008/8/31640.html
UNCTAD says proper economic policies to solve global food crisis http://ippmedia.com/ipp/guardian/2008/08/23/121112.html
Saving Water: From Field to Fork – Curbing Losses and Wastage in the Food Chain http://www.siwi.org/documents/Resources/Policy_Briefs/PB_From_Filed_to_Fork_2008.pdf
Warming threatens crucial Himalayan water resources, forum told http://www.france24.com/en/20080821-warming-threatens-crucial-himalayan-water-resources-forum-told
Climate Change in Action in Greenland http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1829365,00.html
Arctic ice on the verge of another all-time low http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMCKX0SAKF_planet_0.html
Australian expert says sea levels to rise four metres http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/news/stories/200808/s2340492.htm?tab=latest
West Africa's coastline redrawn by climate change: experts http://www.terradaily.com/2007/080822173138.4whaxtau.html
The threat of environmental refugees http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2008/08/24/news0708.htm
Scientists Test System to Forecast Flash Floods along Colorado's Front Range http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=111932&org=NSF&from=news
Climate war games. Role-play negotiations test the outcomes of global warming http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080805/full/454673a.html (by subscription only)
Melting polar ice-caps could bring more droughts to Africa http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/118na1.pdf
Accra Climate Change Talks, 21-27 August 2008, Accra, Ghana http://www.iisd.ca/climate/ccwg2/
Japan to launch carbon footprint labelling scheme http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/aug/20/carbonfootprints.carbonemissions

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
Nanoparticle Warnings at Euroscience Open Forum
Two speakers at the Euroscience Open Forum in Barcelona discussed the need for more research on the environmental risks posed by nanoparticles. Hermann Stamm, head of nanotechnology and molecular imaging at the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection in the European Commission's Joint Research Council brought up concerns about a connection between nanoparticles from exhaust engines and air pollution, and lung cancers and heart disease. Ken Donaldson, of Queens' Medical Research Institute, Scotland, reported on his work on the asbestos-like properties of nanotubes.
Source:
Nanotech risk concerns 'must be addressed' http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/37738

New Study on the Carcinogenicity of Nanoparticles and Other Dusts
According to Nanowerk.com, the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has released a study whose aims were to analyze differences between the carcinogenicity of granular dusts in the rat lung after intratracheal instillation, to find out the optimal dose metric for their carcinogenic potency, and to interpret their potential relevance for human health. Four of the 16 dusts tested could be classified as nanoparticles. The conclusion was that, overall, the state of knowledge meets the EU criteria for a classification of most of the particles into category 2 of carcinogenic substances.
Source:
Research on the carcinogenicity of nanoparticles and other dusts http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=6393.php

Diesel Exhausts Emit Nanoparticles Affecting Lung Function
According to a news release, Prof. Angela Violi, of the Univ. of Michigan College of Engineering, is presenting a simulation paper to the American Chemical Society that predicts that nanoparticles from diesel engine exhausts “can get trapped in the lungs and inhibit the function of a fluid [a surfactant] that facilitates breathing”. Also the EPA has awarded a grant to a team of researchers led by Prof. Robert Yokel, of the College of Pharmacy at the Univ. of Kentucky, to define the basic properties of nanoparticles of cerium oxide, a diesel fuel additive used in Europe. According to an announcement, the research will define the basic properties of the particles and examine how they are absorbed by the body.
Sources:
Unregulated nanoparticles from diesel engines inhibit lungs http://www.physorg.com/news138462352.html
UK wins $2 million EPA grant http://www.kentucky.com/211/story/496040.html

New Study Shows Nanoparticles In Sewage Could Escape Into Bodies Of Water
Researchers at ETH Zurich, the University of Applied Sciences Wädenswil, and BMG Engineering AG, led by Prof. Wendelin Stark, have shown that a portion of nanoparticles of cerium dioxide in industrial sewage, previously thought to be removed by biological purification or trapped in sewage sludge, can remain in the effluent and can leave the sewage works practically unchanged. According to the news story, what happens to the particles after a sewage plant has scarcely been researched up to now.
Source:
Nanoparticles In Sewage Could Escape Into Bodies Of Water http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080724221823.htm

European Nanotechnology Conference in Switzerland in September
NanoEurope, a European exhibition for the transfer of nanotechnology knowledge, will be held in St.Gallen, Switzerland 16-17 September 2008. According to the announcement, it “will present successful commercial nanotechnology applications and introduce new scientific knowledge that can be commercialized”, and will also feature a business exposition.
Source:
Meeting Place for Innovations http://www.nanoeurope.com/wEnglisch/messen/nanoeurope/01_besucher/home/home.php

Note: the following Websites provide continual updates on possible environmental and health implications of the nanotech:
http://epa.gov/oppt/nano/
http://www.nanotechproject.org/inventories
http://www.nanobusiness.org/index.php


Reports and Other Sources Suggested for Review

Climate Change Impacts Assessment on U.S. National Security
Assessment of Select Climate Change Impacts on U.S. National Security by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) of Columbia University is a paper in reaction to the National Security Implications of Global Climate Change Through 2030 produced by the National Intelligence Council [see the respective item in the June 2008 environmental security report.] This extremely well-documented and illustrated paper identifies the countries at high potential security risk by examining and quantifying the security implications in three specific domains: global sea level rise, temperature change, and water scarcity. The aggregate vulnerability index takes into account a nation’s respective climate change aspect and adaptability capacity. As to sea level rise, the most vulnerable are highly populated, low-elevation coastal zones in China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, and Egypt. The countries identified as presenting high instability risk due to temperature change are South Africa, Nepal, Morocco, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Paraguay, Yemen, Sudan and Côte d’Ivoire, while water scarcity might possibly increase instability in Mozambique, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Iraq, Guatemala, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Somalia, China, Syria and Algeria. The paper makes some recommendations on strategies and policies that might help overcome and mitigate eventual threats.
Military Implications:
The Assessment of Select Climate Change Impacts on U.S. National Security is an excellent resource for those involved in early warning of environmentally related conflicts.
Sources:
Assessment of Select Climate Change Impacts on U.S. National Security. Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) Columbia University, July 1, 2008 http://www.ciesin.columbia.edu/documents/Climate_Security_CIESIN_July_2008_v1_0.ed.pdf
Insecure environment http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/editorials/story.html?id=8959925b-ba08-4ee2-972e-93b5ddd4a789

Environmental Refugees Cyberseminar
A cyberseminar on “Environmentally Induced Population Displacements” conducted August 18-29, 2008 by the Population-Environment Research Network in collaboration with the Environmental Change and Security Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (http://www.populationenvironmentresearch.org/seminars.jsp) revealed the difficulty of defining environmental refugees. However, there were suggestions that the ongoing academic debate should be associated with more practical applications due to the urgency of the situation.
Source:
Environmentally Induced Population Displacements cyberseminar http://www.populationenvironmentresearch.org/seminars.jsp

Updated Studies on Potential Health Implications of Depleted Uranium
Two recent studies by the Institute of Medicine address the possibility of assessing the potential heath implications of exposure to depleted uranium: Gulf War and Health: Updated Literature Review of Depleted Uranium, and Epidemiologic Studies of Veterans Exposed to Depleted Uranium: Feasibility and Design Issues. Both studies conclude that health impacts of depleted uranium exposure in military and veteran populations are difficult to determine with the available data and procedures and an assessment plan would not be easy to design. However, the study on feasibility and design issues makes some recommendations for improving assessment of depleted uranium-related health outcomes, including “a prospective cohort study if future military operations involve exposure to depleted uranium” and better integration and linkages of DOD databases for identifying health issues of current active-duty military personnel and veterans with potential DU exposure. Both studies are pre-publications by the National Academies Press.
Sources:
Gulf War and Health:Updated Literature Review of Depleted Uranium http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12183
Epidemiologic Studies of Veterans Exposed to Depleted Uranium: Feasibility and Design Issues http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12200

Global Climate Risk Index 2008
Global Climate Risk Index 2008 Weather-Related Loss Events and Their Impacts on Countries In 2006 And In A Longterm Comparison by Sven Harmeling analyzes to what extent countries and country groups have been affected by the impacts of weather-related loss events (storms, floods, heat waves etc.) whereby losses are quantified using four indicators: 1) total number of deaths; 2) deaths per 100,000 inhabitants; 3) absolute losses in million US$ PPP (purchasing power parity; and 4) losses per unit GDP. These analyses are based on assessments of the Munich Re database NatCatSERVICE®. The Global Climate Risk Index 2008 was published by Germanwatch, an independent NGO, with financial support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
Source:
Global Climate Risk Index 2008 http://www.germanwatch.org/klima/cri2008.pdf

Social Networking Could Provide Tool for Military Environmental Activities
Recent issues of USSTRATCOM’s knowledge management publication The Collaborator have discussed the usefulness of social networking as an aid in many areas of military activity. Social networks allow personnel distributed worldwide to informally exchange ideas and experiences in solving all kinds of problems.
Sources:
NASA Team Collaboration (Current issue) http://wiki.nasa.gov/cm/wiki/?id=3492
NASA Team Collaboration Newsletter archive http://wiki.nasa.gov/cm/newui/wiki/forumlisting.jsp?projectname=Federal%20Knowledge%20Management%20Working%20Group%20(KMWG)

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June 2008

World Food Crisis

Food Security Summit Usefulness Debatable
About 5,100 people from 181 countries, including 43 heads of state or government and 100 ministers, participated in the June3-5 FAO conference on World Food Security. The governments adopted the “Comprehensive Framework for Action” and pledged $13 billion during the conference. FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf estimates that $30 billion a year will be needed to re-launch agriculture and avert future threats of conflicts over food, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reiterated that food production should increase by 50% by 2030 to overcome the long-range food crisis. The next forums to address the food crises are the G8 summit in Japan in July, the UN/FAO Food Security Committee meeting in October, and the FAO Conference in November. [See also Continually Rising Food Prices Threaten Long-Term Global Stability in March 2008.]
Sources: (additional sources in the Appendix)
FAO June Food Summit http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/focus/2008/1000829/index.html
"Failure as Usual" Food Summit http://www.etcgroup.org/en/materials/publications.html?pub_id=698

Food Security Observatory Proposed for Sahel-Saharan Region
Food security was the main theme of the 10th Summit of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD). The Tunisian delegation has submitted a proposal to set up a food security observatory for the Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) region, to prevent and/or deal with food crises. The role of the observatory would be to monitor agricultural products’ availability and prices, and investments in agricultural growth, as well as natural resources such as water and soil, and formulate strategies and policies based on food availability and needs. The project should be funded by member states and partners, and the stakeholders should be member states and executive organs of the African Union and sub-regional organizations.
Sources:
Tunisia pleads for creation of CEN-SAD food security observatory http://www.apanews.net/apa.php?page=show_article_eng&id_article=66771
Nobel luareate [sic] urges AU summit to prioritize the environment http://www.apanews.net/apa.php?page=show_article_eng&id_article=67897

North American Environmental Security Action Plan
The 15th Regular Session of the Council of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) was held June 25-26, in Ottawa, Canada. Key issues discussed included, inter alia: raising and harmonizing environmental standards across North America and effective enforcement of environmental law; reducing the risks of toxic substances to human health and the environment by improving chemicals management––implementation of SMOC (Sound Management of Chemicals) Program and of the North American Regional Action Plans, and improving border security by increasing the Parties’ cooperation on intelligence sharing and operational support to combat the importation, use, and production of such products (the list of hazardous chemicals is being revised); energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (by encouraging green technologies in building and motor vehicles industries and the establishment of Green Suppliers Partnerships); continuing cooperation for marine and biodiversity protection; and climate change expected impacts for North America and mitigation and adaptation challenges.
As a preamble to the meeting, the CEC prepared North America 2030: An Environmental Outlook, a succinct overview of the region’s environmental stress factors and their trends. It includes a subchapter on environmental security, focusing mainly on the Northwest Passage, and food and energy security. A more detailed report on factors likely to impact North America’s environment to 2030 is expected to be published later in 2008. These papers are intended to assist the CEC in developing its 2010–2015 Strategic Plan.
Sources:
Fifteenth Regular Session of the CEC Council http://www.cec.org/calendar/details/index.cfm?varlan=english&ID=2097
North America 2030: An Environmental Outlook http://www.cec.org/outlook/
Sound Management of Chemicals http://www.cec.org/programs_projects/pollutants_health/project/index.cfm?projectID=25&varlan=english
Input from Millennium Project staff attending the meetings (online)

Asian Environmental Security Policies
Increased Role of the Military in Environment-related Crises
Senior security policy-makers from 27 countries attended this year’s Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore May 30–June 1, 2008 to improve military anticipation and response to natural disasters such as those of last year in Bangladesh and this year in Myanmar. Ministers from ASEAN recognized that diverging views on military involvement should be addressed. A French politician suggested that a system of sanctions should be established to “stop this scandal of having hundreds of thousands of people dying with help waiting outside and having a lecture about non-interference in domestic affairs,” and that he will advise the French government to propose that Myanmar government be held liable before the International Criminal Court. Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made a few recommendations for addressing climate change, including establishing a ‘technology transfer board’ for helping the LDCs, and an International Food Fund to address food security. “Between countries, competition for food supplies and displacement of people across borders could deepen tensions, and provoke conflict and wars” he said.
Sources:
The IISS Shangri-La Dialogue http://www.iiss.org/conferences/the-shangri-la-dialogue/
Channel News Asia - Ministers say military a crucial element that can help in humanitarian crises http://www.iiss.org/whats-new/iiss-in-the-press/june-2008/ministers-say-military-a-crucial-element-that-can-help-in-humanitarian-crises/
Environmental approach to security http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2008/06/02/news0257.htm
Singapore: Food Prices 'May Cause Wars' http://foodsecurity.developmentgateway.org/News.10971+M524b934499e.0.html

Singapore’s New Institute of Water Policy
Singapore established an Institute of Water Policy with a US$5.5 million 5-year budget to research Asia’s water problems, address water security, and consult to governments and international organizations.
Source:
Singapore's PM says water security may spark conflicts http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSSIN27852320080624

Russian Focus on Environmental Security
Russia’s new President Dmitry Medvedev said: “Our country is in a threatened state. If we don't deal with this [environmental matters], then in 10, 20, 30 years we could be in a situation where part of the country’s territory is unfit for habitation… Ecology is a question of national security.”
Sources:
Russian leader says environment problems a security threat http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gRd76iVIzDU1XjWGgoUw0ShP-xhw

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

New Detection and Cleanup Techniques
Nanowire “Paper” Selectively Absorbs Oils in Water
Prof. Francesco Stellacci, of MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and colleagues have developed a paper-like membrane comprising a mat of potassium manganese oxide nanowires. The new (and inexpensive) material is completely impervious to water but can absorb up to 20 times its weight in oil or other hydrophobic substances, and can be recycled indefinitely often by heating it to evaporate the oil.
Source:
Researchers develop nanowire 'paper towel' for oil spills http://www.physorg.com/news131372301.html

Carbon-gold Nanoparticle Sacs Trap Oil Droplets
Rice University’s Pulickel Ajayan, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, and his research team have developed carbon-gold segmented nanowires that assemble to form BB-sized sacs around droplets of oil in water.
Source:
Elongated Nanoparticles Called Nanobatons Self Assemble Around Oil Droplets for Cleaning Oils Spills and Polluted Water http://www.azonano.com/news.asp?NewsID=6521

More New Improvements in Nanotube-based Environmental Sensors
In a paper published in the online edition of Angewandte Chemie, Michael Strano, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT, and his team describe a new highly sensitive technology for detecting gases in the environment. The system consists of carbon nanotubes, whose conductivity selectively changes when a gas binds to them, coupled with a miniature gas-chromatography column etched onto a silicon chip. The column separates the different gases in the environment before they reach the nanotubes, to achieve a sensitivity of 25 parts/trillion. A further improvement adds a coating to the tubes which causes the gas molecule to detach a few milliseconds after attaching, allowing the movement of the triggering component to be tracked as it moves.
Source:
Using carbon nanotubes, MIT chemical engineers have built the most sensitive electronic detector yet for sensing deadly gases such as the nerve agent sarin http://www.physorg.com/news131977245.html

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
New Low Power Chip Suitable for Tiny Environmental Sensors
The new Phoenix Processor, developed by Scott Hanson and Mingoo Seok at the Univ. of Michigan’s Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, uses just 30 picowatts in sleep mode and only 90 nanowatts in active mode. The chip measures 1 mm2, the same as its battery, which can be so small because of the low power requirement. The small size means that the sensors using the chip could be scattered around in an environment-sensing network. The chip contains a built-in low power timer that causes it to run on a 0.1 sec/10 min awake cycle, suitable for sensing applications.
Source:
Microchip sets low-power record with extreme sleep mode http://www.physorg.com/news132583292.html


Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Australia to Propose Panel to Advance Work for the NPT Review in 2010
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced plans to create an International Commission on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament to make constructive recommendation for the 2010 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference. The commission would follow on the work of Australian-led 1996 Canberra Commission and Japan’s Tokyo Forum. The first report of the panel is supposed to be presented at a major international conference of experts in Australia late 2009. [See also Non-Proliferation Treaty Deadlock Continues in May 2008 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.] Meantime, the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force warns that the international community is failing to efficiently control financial transactions that help fund illegal production, technology transfer, and trade of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Free-trade zones and transshipment hubs in the Netherlands, Singapore and the UAE are specifically vulnerable sites.
Sources:
Rudd takes up fight against nukes http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,23836647-5005961,00.html
Financial Action Task Force, plenary meeting, London, June 18-20, 2008. Chairman’s Summary http://www.fatf-gafi.org/dataoecd/50/1/40879782.pdf
Funding Channels Aid Proliferation, Task Force Says http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2008_6_24.html#47DF9DAF

EU to Add Carbon and Graphite to REACH Program
Carbon and graphite were deleted from the list of exemptions (Annex IV) of the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restrictions of Chemicals (REACH) regulation, due to possible health hazards when they are used in nano-sized form (as in carbon nanotubes). Therefore, companies producing, using, or trading with carbon and graphite now on have to comply with the REACH requirements. REACH entered into force on June 1, 2007 and its administrative office, the European Chemicals Agency, was inaugurated in Helsinki on June 3, 2008. [See also New Study Raises Asbestos-type Health Worries for Nanotubes in May 2008, and REACH Entered into Force on June 1, 2007 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
"European Chemicals Agency: Turning REACH into Reality” Inauguration of the European Chemical Agency, Helsinki, 3 June 2008 http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/08/298&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Nanotech Worries Push EU To Seek Full Safety Data For Carbon http://www.nasdaq.com/aspxcontent/NewsStory.aspx?cpath=20080609%5CACQDJON200806090702DOWJONESDJONLINE000171.htm&&mypage=newsheadlines&title=Nanotech%20Worries%20Push%20EU%20To%20Seek%20Full%20Safety%20Data%20For%20Carbon

EC Enforces Compliance with EU Environmental Regulations
Nine EU Member States are being referred to the European Court of Justice for failing to transpose into national law the European Environmental Liability Directive by the April 30, 2007 deadline. On June 1, 2007, the Commission sent a first written warning to 23 Member States; 14 have complied and the nine who did not are: Austria, Belgium (concerning the Brussels region only), Greece, Finland, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovenia and the United Kingdom. [See also European Environmental Liability Directive Came Into Force in April 2007 and EC Enforces Compliance of National Legislation with EU Environmental Regulations in October 2007 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Commission takes nine member states to Court over environmental liability http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/1025&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Provisional Agreement for Including Aviation in the Emission Trading Scheme from 2012
The EU lawmakers reached agreement with Member States to include aviation in the greenhouse gas emissions trading scheme from 2012. The airlines will have to cut emissions by 3% in the first year, and by 5% from 2013 onwards, paying for 15% of their permits to pollute. Presently, aviation generates an estimated 3% of EU CO2 emissions, but air traffic is expected to double by 2020. [See also EU Airline Carbon Trading to Start in 2011––a Year Earlier than Planned in May 2008 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Source:
EU Lawmakers Confirm Deal on Airline CO2 Emissions http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/49072/story.htm

European Parliament Approves New Water Quality Standards Directive
The European Parliament approved the new directive on water environmental quality standards to harmonize quality standards across the EU and thereby better protect surface waters (rivers, lakes and coastal waters) against pollution from a range of 33 priority chemicals. . The new directive is the final major piece of legislation in the Water Framework Directive and replaces five existing directives, simplifying water-related reporting within the newly created Water Information System for Europe. Member States have until December 2009 to comply. [See also EU to Introduce New Regulations to Combat Surface Waters Pollution in July 2006 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Environment: Commission welcomes EP vote on water quality standards http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/958&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Waste Management Policies
Basel Convention Needs Revision and Update
The 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (COP9) on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal took place June 23-27, in Bali, Indonesia. The focus was a stronger regulation on the export of hazardous waste, mainly electronics which litter poor nations. Despite support from the African delegates and the EU, the representatives from 170 countries to the conference decided against banning toxic waste exports, rather encouraging voluntary actions at national level using some new guidelines to create their own recycling laws. [See also Half of Transported European Hazardous Waste Could Be Illegal––How Much More Elsewhere? in April 2008, UN E-Waste Forum and Basel Convention’s Conference of Parties in December 2006, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (COP9) http://cop9.basel.int/
Delegates fail to agree on banning toxic waste exports at UN conference http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/06/27/asia/AS-GEN-Indonesia-Toxic-Trade.php
UN conference in Bali tackles toxic-waste management http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/06/26/toxic.html

EU Vote on Revision of Waste Directive
The European Parliament approved the revision of the waste framework directive, which is the basis of the EU waste management policy. The new directive will replace three others––Waste Framework Directive, the Hazardous Waste Directive and the Waste Oils Directive, setting clear definitions and waste management principles and creating a sound, harmonized legal framework for waste treatment. [See also EU New Strategy on Waste Recycling in December 2005 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Commission welcomes EP vote on revision of waste directive http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/950&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
DG ENV waste policy homepage: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/index.htm

Marine Protection to Increase
The International Whaling Commission 2008 Scientific Committee report reveals alarming results that the number of ocean dead zones has grown to 400, from only 44 areas reported in 1995 (see map in the Appendix). UNEP says that man-made activities such as use of fertilizers, and sewage and other pollutants, combined with the impact of climate change, have led to the doubling of the number of oxygen-deficient dead zones every decade since the 1960s. Meantime, New Zealand put forward a new Exclusive Economic Zone Environmental Effects Bill, expected to be introduced by late August, which will apply to environmental effects of currently unregulated activities in the EEZ. [See also International Conference and Assessments Find Rising Ocean Pollution in October 2006 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
2008 Scientific Committee report http://www.iwcoffice.org/sci_com/screport.htm
Oxygen-starved oceans rapidly dying http://canberra.yourguide.com.au/news/local/news/general/oxygenstarved-oceans-rapidly-dying/796215.aspx
Ministry of the Environment, New Zealand’s ocean: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/issues/oceans/
Legislation to safeguard ocean ecosystems http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0806/S00460.htm

Arctic Debate Update
Less than one month after the five Arctic countries agreed at the summit to follow the Law of the Sea in resolving the Arctic disputes, Russian Lt. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov, head of the Defense Ministry’s combat training directorate said that Russia started the revision of their military training program to be prepared for fast deployment in “the Arctic in case of a potential conflict.” He invoked the “reaction of a certain number of heads of state to Russia’s territorial claims to the continental plateau of the Arctic” and the large-scale U.S. Northern Edge 2008 military exercise conducted in Alaska in late May.
Sources:
Russia prepares for future combat in the Arctic http://en.rian.ru/russia/20080624/111915879.html
Russian general fires Arctic warning http://www.canada.com/topics/news/story.html?id=ac0d24df-dc10-43da-89f3-b3c3c0928ae7&k=51152
Northern Edge 2008 (NE08) Exercise Underway http://www.elmendorf.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123098685&page=2

Climate Change

Scientific Evidences
The Northern hemisphere spring of 2008 was the seventh warmest on record, nearly one degree warmer than the 20th century average, according to the National Climatic Data Center. It was also marked by weather extremes around the world: Cyclone Nargis which devastated Myanmar (Burma); record low spring snow in Europe and Asia; severe drought in China; North America devastated by strong storms, flooding, tornadoes (reported number for half-year exceeding 10-year annual average) and drought (in the West); and the first two big tropical storms hitting Central America. Meantime, Australia’s fall is unusually dry, aggravating the drought in many parts of the country.

Food and Water Security
Experts (including Nicholas Stern) attending the Goldman Sachs ‘Top Five Risks’ conference, reiterated the warning that the possible future water shortage would be a bigger threat to mankind this century than the food crises and exhaustion of energy reserves. The Himalayas for instance are the source for all the major rivers of Asia and for almost half the world's population.
In Africa, to shrinkage of mountain glaciers from Mount Kilimanjaro to Uganda’s Rwenzori mountains––which decreased by 50% between 1987 and 2003, drying lakes such as Lake Chad, and falling water levels in Lake Victoria, the atlas adds new cases of disappearing water bodies like Lake Faguibine, as well as the many examples of desertification, unsustainable large-scale irrigation and degraded coastal areas that are further increasing the threat to already scarce water reserves.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Out of 14 research teams studying global warming impacts in the Arctic, 11 estimate retreat at least as extraordinary as in 2007, while the other 3 groups estimate ice extent heading back toward, but not equaling, the average minimum for summers since 1979, when satellite-based Arctic sea ice monitoring began. Five other groups chose not to issue a numerical estimate. The ongoing Study of Environmental Arctic Change, SEARCH, continuously presents updated information on ice assessments and explanations.
Meantime, some polar scientists believe that there is a 50% chance of a totally ice-free North Pole this summer.

Rising Sea Levels
A new study by Australian and US researchers shows that ocean waters are heating up 50% faster at the surface then previous estimates (including those in the IPCC report). This explains the more rapid than estimated sea level rise. They also underline that sea ice melting is not of great concern to sea level rise; nevertheless, land ice melting is: if it all melted, sea levels would rise 70m (however, fortunately, they say, 57m of those are locked up in Eastern Antarctica, which seems to be stable for 20 million years and is not affected much by global warming).
Rising sea levels and coastal erosion will render small Pacific islands uninhabitable by the end of the century. Anote Tong, president of the Republic of Kiribati, has appealed to the international community to take responsibility for relocating the country’s 97,000 citizens.
Bangladesh, the world’s most densely-populated nation, is at risk of disappearing under the water by the end of this century as result of ‘saline inundation’ in the inland region, and coastal erosion and flooding at the coastal area. India has already begun to take security measures against the expected mass migration.
Cities along Australia’s northern and western coastline became vulnerable to ‘the Venice effect’ with increased frequency of flooding during seasonal high tides, revealed scenarios outlined in more than 40 submissions to a federal inquiry on the environmental impacts of climate change on coastal communities. Climate models suggest that mean sea-level rises on the east coast of Australia could exceed global averages, said the Bureau of Meteorology.
A report by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment urges the government to consider the effects of global warming––mainly rising seas and stronger storms––in long-term strategies, such as urban planning. It also suggests that residents in vulnerable areas should be relocated to safer places.

Migration
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees stated that the number of people of concern rose for the past two years. One of the factors cited was climate change making resources scarcer. UNHCR’s 2007 Global Trends reports that the number of international refugees rose from 9.9 million to 11.4 million by the end of 2007, while the number of internally displaced people increased from 24.4 million to 26 million. As conflict and environmental degradation exacerbate each other, unless adequately addressing the situation in its whole complexity, forced displacement will continue to rise. The most at risk are the already vulnerable areas of Africa and the Indian sub-continent.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The theme for World Environment Day 2008 was “Kick the Habit: Towards a Low Carbon Economy”, recognizing the need for a strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel.
The group of 16 nations accounting for about 80% of the world’s CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions––G8 plus Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Korea and South Africa––attending the Major Economies Meeting held in Seoul, failed to agree on clear targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The draft agreement mentions rather generic “deep cuts” based on the “ambitious” scenario outlined by the IPCC (although its target of 50% reduction by 2050 is not mentioned in the draft statement.) The statement is expected to be adopted at the July G8 summit to be held in Japan. Nevertheless, Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change expressed hope and the urgency that the Japan G8 summit set clear emission targets for a post-2012 treaty.
The EIA International Energy Outlook 2008 looks at energy trends up to the year 2030, estimating global energy consumption will grow by 50% with 85% of that in non-OECD states. CO2 emissions will likely increase by 51% (1.7% annually), with non-OECD states expected to exceed OECD members’ emissions by 72% in 2030.
Meantime, James Hansen of NASA warned again that the world has passed the “dangerous level” for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and should cut to 1988 levels. He said “This is the last chance,” to avoid “changes such as mass extinction, ecosystem collapse and dramatic sea level rises.”
The German government approved a climate package––focusing mainly on the transport and construction sectors––designed to help reach by 2020 the target of reducing CO2 emissions by 49% compared to 1990 levels.
Sources:
Weather Extremes Mark Spring 2008 http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/weather-extremes-47061601
Suffer the Environment at Your Cost! http://www.kanglaonline.com/index.php?template=kshow&kid=1223
Water crisis to be biggest world risk http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2008/06/05/ccwater105.xml
Most Experts Foresee a Repeat, at Least, of 2007 Arctic Ice Loss
SEARCH http://www.arcus.org/search/index.php
Exclusive: No ice at the North Pole http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/exclusive-no-ice-at-the-north-pole-855406.html
Rising sea levels threaten cities http://canberra.yourguide.com.au/news/local/news/general/rising-sea-levels-threaten-cities/785840.aspx
Top of sea warming 50% faster than thought http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/06/18/scisea118.xml
"Too late" to save Pacific island nation from submersion http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080606/full/news.2008.880.html
2007 Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum-seekers, Returnees, Internally Displaced and Stateless Persons. UNHCR, June 2008 http://www.unhcr.org/statistics/STATISTICS/4852366f2.pdf
Big emitters agree on 'deep cuts,' not targets http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200806250059.html
International Energy Outlook 2008 http://eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/
NASA warming scientist: 'This is the last chance' http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1501ap_sci_warming_scientist.html

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
European Commission Launches Nanotech Consultation
The European Commission is planning to launch a large-scale public consultation for raising awareness about nanotechnologies’ potentials and at the same time for addressing citizens’ concerns about nanotech’s possible health and environmental impacts.
Sources:
Commission launches public dialogue on nanotechnologies http://cordis.europa.eu/fetch?CALLER=EN_NEWS&ACTION=D&SESSION=&RCN=29561
Commission starts public dialogue on nanotechnologies – tapping economic and environmental potential through safe products http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/947&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Nanotechnology Homepage of the European Commission http://cordis.europa.eu/nanotechnology/

High Throughput Multi-dimensional Analysis of Nanomaterials Gives New Insights
Stanley Shaw, a chemical biologist at Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Systems Biology, and his colleagues at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT have designed a high-throughput screening method for assessing the biological effects of nanomaterials. The technique uses robotic equipment to place individual nanoparticle types and cell types in various combinations into hundreds of tiny wells in a plate, where an automatic screening system determines the resulting biological effects. Software then analyzes the data, seeking relationships among the different combinations.
Sources:
Perturbational profiling of nanomaterial biologic activity (abstract; full text by subscription only) http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/105/21/7387
Testing the Toxicity of Nanomaterials. A fast screening method could help separate the good from the bad http://www.technologyreview.com/Nanotech/20861/

New Report on Assuring the Safety of Nanomaterials in Food Packaging
The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies of the Woodrow Wilson Center, in cooperation with the Grocery Manufacturers Association, has issued a report that examines the path of several hypothetical applications of nanotechnology-enabled food packaging through the current regulations and examines potential future challenges related to this issue.
Sources:
Assuring the Safety of Nanomaterials in Food Packaging. The Regulatory Process and Key Issues
http://www.nanotechproject.org/publications/archive/nano_food_packaging/
Use of nanomaterials in food packaging poses regulatory challenges http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/37487/print

Reports and Sources Suggested for Review
National Security Implications of Global Climate Change Through 2030
National Security Implications of Global Climate Change Through 2030 by the National Intelligence Council, is an assessment of climate change security implication for the US in the next 20 years. It is a comprehensive assessment of the impact of climate change in different parts of the world and the possible political instabilities, mass movements of refugees, terrorism, or conflicts over water and other resources in specific countries. The next effort is a scenario exercise and the third effort will be to explore the geopolitics of climate change and how that may shift the relationships between major powers. NIC’s Global Trends out to 2025 is expected to be published in December 2008.
Sources:
National Intelligence Assessment on the National Security Implications of Global Climate Change to 2030 http://www.dni.gov/testimonies/20080625_testimony.pdf
Climate change may challenge national security, classified report warns http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-06/teia-ccm062408.php

A Community Guide to Environmental Health Available for Liaison Activities
The Hesperian Foundation is making available A Community Guide to Environmental Health, a tool kit for communities working on environmental problems. According to the announcement, the new work “is a collection of best practices from communities worldwide that address both the immediate symptoms of environmental threats as well as the root causes of environmental problems” and “contains numerous easy to follow actions and educational activities, ranging from the simple to the more complex based on a community’s needs and resources.”
Source:
"A Community Guide to Environmental Health," an Essential Tool Kit for Global Communities Tackling Environmental Problems To Be Released by Hesperian June 18, 2008
http://www.enn.com/press_releases/2529

New Content Analysis Technique Helps Smooth Environmental Discussions
Researchers at the Universities of Sheffield and York have developed a new tool for improving the conduct of discussions over environmental issues between contending parties. Their work showed that the two sides in a particular example were using markedly different vocabularies in formulating positions and arguments, and that these differences impeded progress toward a settlement.
Source:
It's The Way You Say it: How Using The Right Words Can Cut Environmental Conflicts http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/press/pressitem.asp?ref=1785
Conversations in conservation: revealing and dealing with language differences in environmental conflicts http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2008.01495.x

Back to top


May 2008

Environmental Damage to Be Criminalized in the EU
The Permanent Representatives Committee approved the proposal on the protection of the environment through criminal law. EU national governments will have to apply criminal sanctions to those causing “deliberate or negligent damage to the environment.” The list of punishable crimes will include: unlawful discharge of pollutants which could cause “death or serious injury to any person” or “substantial damage” to the environment; illegal waste shipment; killing or possession of protected fauna or flora; significant deterioration of habitats within protected sites; and any action related to ozone-depleting substances. The penalties are left to the discretion of member states as long as they are “effective, proportionate and dissuasive.” The Directive is pending final approval by the Parliament and the EU Council, and is expected to enter into force in 2010. [See also Environmental Crime Could Become a Felony in the EU in February 2007 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Protection of the environment through criminal law http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/misc/100525.pdf
EU criminal law to protect the environment http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/064-29450-140-05-21-911-20080520IPR29449-19-05-2008-2008-false/default_en.htm
EU agrees to outlaw 'green' crimes http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=MzAxNTU

New International Financial Alliance to Support Biodiversity
Representatives of 191 Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and over 100 ministers met in Bonn to improve the set of rules that help protect biodiversity. Plant and animal species are being lost at a rate between 100 and 1000 times the natural extinction rates. One of the results of the meeting was the establishment of Life Web as a financing mechanism for protected areas. So far, more than 60 Parties have made financial pledges. For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged 500 million Euros for forest protection up to 2012 and 500 million Euros a year after that.
Sources:
A new universal global alliance for biodiversity protection established in Bonn http://www.cbd.int/doc/press/2008/pr-2008-05-30-cop9-en.pdf

Uruguay Treaty on S&T Cooperation
On April 29th the US and Uruguay signed a treaty to increase government, academic, business, and NGO scientific cooperation between the two countries. The agreement gives special attention to the study of biodiversity to improve agriculture, medicine, and understanding of the impact of climate change on the environment.
Source:
The United States and Uruguay Sign a Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2008/apr/104151.htm

International Convention on Cluster Munitions Adopted by 111 Countries
The Convention on Cluster Munitions was formally adopted by 111 countries in Dublin, Ireland, on May 30, 2008. The Convention is a legally binding instrument that outlaws the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions, and commits countries to clear areas contaminated by cluster munitions and assist victims and affected communities. The President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger, urged all countries to adhere to the Convention and noted “these weapons are not only morally unacceptable but also now illegal under international humanitarian law.” The Cluster Munitions Convention will be opened for signature in Oslo, December 2-3, 2008, and will enter into force after 30 ratifications. The U.S., China, and Russia did not participate in the meeting. [See also Negotiations Continue for an International Instrument to Ban Cluster Munitions in November 2007 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Dublin Diplomatic Conference, May 19-30, 2008 http://www.clustermunitionsdublin.ie/
Cluster Munitions: Convention a major step forward for the protection of civilians http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/cluster-munitions-news-290508
Cluster Bomb Treaty Breaks New Ground http://hrw.org/english/docs/2008/05/30/18976.htm
Cluster bomb ban treaty approved http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7423714.stm
Convention banning cluster bombs adopted http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/theworld/2008/May/theworld_May1353.xml&section=theworld
Norway: British support crucial to cluster bomb treaty http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/05/30/europe/EU-GEN-Norway-Britain-Cluster-Bombs.php
Ban 'delighted' at adoption of new cluster bomb convention http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=26859&Cr=cluster&Cr1=
UN refugee agency welcomes adoption of pact to ban cluster bombs http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=26868&Cr=Cluster&Cr1=bomb

Indigenous Peoples Demand More Involvement in Environmental Policies
Climate change was the special focus of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, held in New York, April 21-May 2, 2008. The approximately 3,300 delegates representing the 370 million indigenous people from around the world stressed that indigenous peoples should be included in the international debate on climate change. The Forum suggested that a working group on local adaptation measures and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples be established, since they can provide important insights for designing and implementing sustainable mitigation and adaptation strategies.
Sources:
Seventh Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/en/session_seventh.html
Climate Change: Indians Speak Out Against Carbon Markets http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=42259
Climate change plea from tribe of herders who face extinction http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-plea-from-tribe-of-herders-who-face-extinction-825424.html
World's Native Peoples Take on Climate Change http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.htm?programID=08-P13-00019&segmentID=4
Indigenous peoples have crucial role in climate change debate – UN forum http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=26565&Cr=indigenous&Cr1=
Indigenous peoples most affected by climate change, Assembly President says http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=26531&Cr=indigenous&Cr1=

First Species declared Endangered Due to Global Warming
Polar bears were declared a “threatened” species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, becoming the first species officially designated in danger of extinction because of global warming. Environmental groups are not pleased with the new regulation, since important greenhouse gas emission-related activities, such as offshore oil and gas exploitation, are exempted from compliance with the law. [See also Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice in August 2007 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Polar bear is listed as threatened species http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-me-polar15-2008may15,0,3225200.story?page=2
Polar Bear Added to List of Threatened Species in U.S. http://www.voanews.com/english/Science/2008-05-16-voa27.cfm
U.S. lists polar bears as threatened species http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/05/14/polar-bear.html

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

New Detection and Cleanup Techniques
Nanotube-based Biosensor Sensitive to Trace Amounts
Early Warning Inc. of Troy NY has licensed from NASA’s Moffett Field Ames Research Center technology for a nanotube-based biosensor sensitive to trace amounts of specific bacteria, viruses and parasites. According to a company release, “The biosensor works when a single strand of nucleic acid comes into contact with a matching strand of nucleic acid attached to the end of an ultra-conductive nanotube. The matching strands form a double helix that generates an electrical signal, which is used to determine the presence of specific microorganisms in the sample. Because of their tiny size, millions of nanotubes can fit on a single biosensor chip allowing identification of very low levels.”
Sources:
NASA Nanotechnology-Based Biosensor Helps Detect Biohazards http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/news/releases/2008/08_45AR.html
Early Warning (the company) http://www.earlywarninginc.com/early-warning-profile.php

Emerging Contaminants: Most Effective Treatment Strategies
Endocrine disruptor chemicals (EDCs) and pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) have been discussed as emerging issues for water supply and wildlife protection for more than a decade. The American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) May 2008 Opflow carries an article describing three processes for treating these substances in public water supplies. Additionally, AWWA has added a special session to its June 8-12, 2008 annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Taken together, these indicate that public and water industry interest in remedial action has run ahead of legislation and regulation – leaping over at least one of the common four steps through which an issue progresses in evolving from a scientific discovery to become a societal action item. The three processes discussed in the article are: additional processing of wastewater effluents, reverse osmosis treatment of potable water, and combined ultraviolet/reverse osmosis treatment of potable water.
Sources:
Oppenheimer, J., R. Stephenson, and J. Decarolis, Emerging contaminants:Insights to the most effective EDC and PPCP treatment strategies, AWWA Opflow, May 2008, pp. 12-16.
Conference session added to address microconstituents http://www.awwa.org/publications/MainStreamArticle.cfm?itemnumber=35946

Technologies for Increasing Energy Efficiency
New Lithium-ion Battery Offers Multiple Advantages
A123 Systems of Watertown MA developed a new lithium-ion battery design with significant advantages for demanding mobile applications, such as electric vehicles and portable electronic devices. The new units feature greatly increased safety (not bursting and igniting, when overheated or damaged), longer life, and greater energy capacity, stemming from an innovative electrode material that contains nanoparticles of lithium iron phosphate modified with trace metals.
Sources:
An Electrifying Startup. A new lithium-ion battery from A123 Systems could help electric cars and hybrids come to dominate the roads (note: requires free registration to access article)
http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?ch=specialsections&sc=batteries&id=20570&a=

Improved Solar Cell Promised in a Year
SUNRGI Company announced the development of a solar cell technology which they say will deliver power at 7¢/kWh, around the price of coal-fired energy. Their panels use lenses to concentrate sunlight, and a proprietary cooling system to prevent consequent cell damage from heating. Start of production is scheduled for mid-2009. IBM has also released details on a similar technique.
Sources:
Start-up: Affordable solar power possible in a year http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/energy/environment/2008-04-28-solar-power-sunrgi_N.htm
SUNRGI Company: http://www.sunrgi.com
IBM today announced a research breakthrough in photovoltaics technology that could significantly reduce the cost of harnessing the Sun's power for electricity http://physorg.com/news130086323.html

New Inter-electrode Material Yields 50% Fuel Cell Power Increase
MIT Professor Paula T. Hammond and her team produced a new thin film material for the membrane separating the electrodes in direct methanol fuel cells. The current material is not impervious to methanol leakage across the boundary. Applying the new film produced a 50% gain in power output from the cell. Drexel University chemical engineering professor Yossef Elabd had earlier investigated the leakage mechanism in the present membranes, and produced several other alternatives.
Sources:
More-Powerful Fuel Cells http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/20813/page1/
MIT Creates New Material For Fuel Cells, Increases Power Output By 50 Percent http://www.physorg.com/news130078922.html
Chemical Engineer Discovers Way of Increasing Battery Life with Environmentally Friendly Fuel Cells http://www.physorg.com/news126194529.html

Formic Acid Provides New Fuel Cell Medium
Matthias Beller and colleagues at the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis, in Rostock, Germany have developed a technique to convert formic acid into hydrogen at low temperatures (26°C to 40°C). The new process is suitable for low-power fuel cell applications, like mobile electronic devices, rather than for vehicle usage. It does not require a high-temperature steam reforming unit, as methanol does (instead, it is converted to hydrogen by a ruthenium-based catalyst) and its power/weight ratio is only one-third that of methanol.
Source:
Hydrogen Fuel from Formic Acid http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/20778/?a=f

New Insight into Methane-converting Catalyst
New work reported by the International Consortium for Clean Energy, a collaboration among DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, and China's Institute of Coal Chemistry, sheds light on the optimum structure for a catalytic material, molybdenum oxide on a zeolite substrate, which can turn methane into benzene.
Source:
Halting methane squanderlust http://www.physorg.com/news130592381.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Non-Proliferation Treaty Deadlock Continues
The second of three sessions of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was held from April 28 to May 9 at the UN Office at Geneva, Switzerland. Participation included delegates of 106 States parties, representatives of specialized international organizations, and of 64 NGOs. The main issues discussed included: nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and international security; nuclear-weapon-free zones; nuclear safeguards; the peaceful use of nuclear energy; and the Middle East situation. No special agreements were reached. The third session will be held May 4 15, 2009, and the Review Conference will be April 26–May 21, 2010, both in New York. [See also Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Stalemate Continues in May 2007, Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in May 2005, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
PREPCOM 2008, 2010 NPT Review http://www.un.org/NPT2010/SecondSession
Nuclear States Joint Statement http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/legal/npt/prepcom08/statements/May09Statement%20by%20P5.pdf
Geneva Talks Pave Way to 2010 NPT Review http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/News/2008/genevatalks.html
NPT Meeting Wraps Up in Geneva http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2008_5_9.html#8360B7DE

European Parliament Passed Resolution Calling for Global Ban of DU Weapons
The European Parliament agreed, with 491 out of 521 votes, to accept a resolution calling on the EU to lead negotiations “through the UN or through a 'coalition of the willing'” for a global treaty to ban depleted uranium weapons. The resolution “Strongly reiterates its call on all Member States and NATO countries to impose a moratorium on the use of depleted uranium weapons and to redouble efforts towards a global ban, as well as systematically to halt production and procurement of this type of weaponry.” It also recommends inclusion of this wording in the European Security Strategy, “the need to give serious thought to the future utility of unguided munitions, as well as cluster bombs, mines and other weapons of indiscriminate effect, such as depleted uranium weapons;” and “not to deploy military and civilian personnel in regions where no guarantee can be given to the effect that depleted uranium has not been, or will not be, used.” [See also Depleted Uranium Environmental Concerns Resurfacing in November 2007 and other items on this issue in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
European Parliament passes far reaching DU resolution in landslide vote http://www.bandepleteduranium.org/en/a/181.html
Protection of the environment through criminal law http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/misc/100525.pdf

New Mechanisms for Enforcing Biosafety and Biological Diversity Treaties
The focus of the fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP/MOP 4), held from 12-16 May 2008 in Bonn, Germany, was on enforcement measures. It adopted 18 decisions on issues related to: the Biosafety Clearing-House; identification and handling of living modified organisms; notification requirements; risk assessment and risk management; and monitoring and reporting. The timetable and framework were set for a liability and redress regime concerning potential damage caused by the movements of genetically modified organisms, which will be further discussed at the next meeting of the parties to take place in October 2010, in Nagoya, Japan. An ad hoc technical expert group was mandated to consider risk assessment and risk management issues. The Rules, Procedures and Mechanisms Applicable to Processes under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was also published at this meeting.
The Ninth Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity followed, May 19-30, 2008, also in Bonn, Germany, assessing mechanisms to reduce loss of biodiversity. The CBD COP 9 adopted the “Bonn roadmap” that addresses issues concerning an international regime on access and benefit-sharing; a mechanism for assessing marine areas in need of protection; a resolution on biodiversity and climate change, including language cautioning against ocean fertilization; and an agreement on biofuels. [See also International Biodiversity Meetings Make Decisions and Tougher Systems to Control GMO Suggested in March 2006 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Fourth meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (COP-MOP 4) http://www.cbd.int/mop4/
Agreement Reached to Work towards a Legally Binding Instrument on Liability and Redress with Regard to GMOs http://www.cbd.int/doc/press/2008/pr-2008-05-16-mop4-en.pdf
Rules, Procedures and Mechanisms Applicable to Processes under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety http://www.cbd.int/doc/publications/bs-rules-en.pdf
Loss of Animal Species and Crops Is ‘Devastating’ ­ Secretary-General Ban http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=26756&Cr=biodiversity&Cr1=
Ninth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity http://www.iisd.ca/biodiv/cop9

IMO Sets New Limits on Ship Fuel Pollution
The International Maritime Organization has agreed on severe new limits on ship fuel pollutants, especially sulphur (sulfur). The restrictions are to be implemented by 2015, and will impose a change in sulphur limits in special Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECA) to 0.1% from the current 1.5%. The set of SECAs, now including only Baltic and North Sea areas, is likely to be expanded to other coastal regions in the world.
Source:
Short sea shipping at risk from IMO sulphur laws http://lloydslist.com/ll/news/short-sea-shipping-at-risk-from-imo-sulphur-laws/20017521753.htm
IMO environment meeting to consider revised regulations on ship emissions http://www.imo.org/
U.N. body to slash ship fuel pollution by 2015 http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSL0487267520080404

EU Airline Carbon Trading to Start in 2011––a Year Earlier than Planned
The European Parliament's Environment Committee voted to include aviation in Europe's emissions trading scheme from 2011––a year earlier than planned. Airlines should bid for at least 25% of pollution permits. Members of the European Parliament want to set CO2 emissions cap at 90% of the levels between 2004 and 2006 rather than 100%, with the cap lowered in subsequent years from 2013. [See also New European Environmental Regulations in December 2007 and Europe to Propose Emissions Targets for All Flights to/from or within Europe in November 2006 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
EU backs early start for airline carbon trading http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/may/28/travelandtransport.greenpolitics

Arctic Issues Still at the Debate Stage
Officials from the Arctic coastal countries Canada, U.S., Russia, Denmark, and Norway met in Ilulissat, Greenland, May 27-29, 2008, to address issues related to the Arctic territory. The meeting concluded with The Ilulissat Declaration, by which the five nations reaffirm their commitment for applying the UN Law of the Sea “to the orderly settlement of any possible overlapping claims,” stipulating that there is “no need to develop a new comprehensive international legal regime to govern the Arctic Ocean.” Critics say that this opens the possibility for a polar “carve up” by the five countries. Other Arctic Council group nations (Sweden, Iceland and Finland) as well as the indigenous communities––who are the majority of the population within the Arctic Circle––were not invited to the meeting. Environmentalists and the indigenous groups call for an international treaty similar to the one for Antarctica, which bans all military activity and mineral exploitation. A UN panel is supposed to rule on Arctic control by 2020. By the Ilulissat Declaration, the Arctic coastal nations also agree to cooperate on scientific research, improving navigation safety, and development of environmental monitoring and disaster response systems. [See also Arctic Disputes Continue in March 2008 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
However, there is speculation that Russia has the strongest position for increasing its influence in the region and support for its expansion claims. It has infrastructure along the North Sea Route (including ports), has for a long time performed extensive research and possesses essential knowledge about the region. Most of all, Russia has the most powerful fleet and military potential permanently deployed in the Arctic. Russia is also working on gathering more evidence to support its claim for territorial expansion under the Law of the Sea.
Sources:
The Ilulissat Declaration. Arctic Ocean Conference Ilulissat, Greenland, 27 – 29 May 2008 http://www.um.dk/NR/rdonlyres/BE00B850-D278-4489-A6BE-6AE230415546/0/ArcticOceanConference.pdf
Arctic declaration denounced as territorial 'carve up' http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/may/29/fossilfuels.poles
Reaching out in the Arctic http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20080514/107378393.html

Canada Prepares to Ban More Chemicals
The government of Canada announced that it is preparing to issue a ban on a number of chemicals in common use in various applications, because of possible harm to human health or the environment. The 11 chemicals include vinyl acetate, ethylene oxide, thiourea, isoprene, and cyclohexasiloxanes. Industry has 60 days to offer countervailing evidence. [See also Questions on Bisphenol A Risk Raised Again in April 2008 environmental security report.]
Source:
Ottawa prepared to slap toxic label on widely used chemicals http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=b0eeb176-6b3d-4a3e-bb18-29033eb044cc

Reactive Nitrogen Beginning To Be Recognized As Environmental Hazard
Two papers in the May 16 issue of Science discuss the problem of excessive reactive nitrogen in the environment. According to Univ. of Virginia environmental sciences professor James Galloway, “We are accumulating reactive nitrogen in the environment at alarming rates, and this may prove to be as serious as putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.” Atmospheric nitrogen can appear as nitric acid in water and vegetation or can contribute to the greenhouse effect. The International Nitrogen Initiative ((www.initrogen.org) has been established to serve as a center for efforts to cope with this problem. [See also New Predictions for the Atmosphere by 2030 in October 2006 environmental security report.]
Source:
Addressing the 'nitrogen cascade' http://www.physorg.com/news130081079.html

Climate Change

Scientific Evidence
A comprehensive study conducted by an international research team from 10 institutions around the world, led by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, found conclusive evidence of the link between human-caused climate change and the trends of change of Earth’s natural systems. The research analyzed a database of more than 29,000 data series of physical and biological systems, and natural phenomena, on land and in water, with at least 20 years of records between 1970 and 2004. In about 90% of the cases from North America, Europe, and Asia, a link could be established between warming and changes of the systems’ patterns or behavior. The results for Africa, South America, and Australia are not conclusive, due to lack of enough historical scientific data.
Scientists from Switzerland, France and Germany, working on the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica, found that “today's concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane are 28% and 124% higher respectively than at any time during the last 800,000 years," increasing the likelihood that human activity is a cause of climate change.
Chinese and Australian scientists are examining possibilities for deeper drilling in parts of Antarctica to find atmospheric records dating back 1.5 million years.
The Living Planet Index reveals dramatic biodiversity reduction since 1970: land species have declined by 25%, marine life by 28%, and freshwater species by 29%. Scientists estimate the current extinction rate being 10,000 times faster than the historical rate. The main causes of species decline are consequences of human behavior: climate change, pollution, destruction of animals’ natural habitat, spread of invasive species, and overexploitation of species.
The Arctic is warming at about twice the global average and the changes of climate and moisture highly impact the region’s vegetation, with possible negative consequences that will further influence global climate. The tundra is shrinking due to the expansion to the north of the boreal forests, which creates large dark surfaces that will absorb––instead of reflecting–– solar heat. Reduced moisture increases wild fire potential in the tundra (in 2007, about 250,000 acres of Alaskan tundra burned), further improving the conditions for forest expansion. However, due to likely future drought in the region, the death of trees will be releasing carbon into the atmosphere instead of absorbing it, thus increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Natural Disasters
Tens of thousands of people died and hundreds of thousands lost everything in Myanmar as tropical cyclone Nargis hit the Southeast Asian country, also known as Burma. The tragedy was increased by the lack of preparedness and response capability of the country and the ban on intervention by foreign aid agencies.
Although there is no consensus on linking storms’ number and strength to climate change, some experts say that there is evidence of a probable trend that storms are becoming more powerful as global warming heats up the oceans. Professor Kerry Emanuel, an MIT meteorologist says that the power of tropical cyclones has roughly doubled since the 1950s, with the most increase occurring over the last three decades, consistent with man-made global warming.
Considering the rate so far, 2008 might be the year with the most tornadoes in the U.S. since 1950––when modern recordkeeping began––and the deadliest in a decade, reports The Weather Channel. In some states, the number to date of such storms already exceeds the yearly average: Mississippi had 49 tornadoes compared to an annual average of 39 twisters average; Alabama 45 versus 42, and Arkansas 49, compared to 48.

Food and Water Security
As the food crisis intensifies around the world over the past few months, an additional 100 million people began suffering from hunger and there were food riots in some 30 countries, including recently conflict-torn countries such as Haiti, Côte d'Ivoire, Senegal, and Somalia. Some argue that the Security Council should consider the issue in order to stop escalation into larger global security crises. "The Security Council would be remiss in carrying out its responsibility for maintaining peace and security if it fails to take the much needed preemptory steps to stop further deterioration of the security dimensions of the global food crisis," says Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, a former Bangladeshi ambassador and UN High Representative for Least Developed Countries (LDC). He compared the food crises to others––such as HIV/AIDS––that were discussed at the Security Council level and recalls that the bodies dealing with the food situation (ECOSOC and FAO) do not have security-related mandates.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced a new international UN Task Force on the Global Food Crisis, composed of the heads of key UN agencies and institutions, to prepare a comprehensive plan of action to tackle the global rise in food prices. The elements of the task force’s plan will be presented at the UN and FAO High-Level Conference on World Food Security, Climate Change and Bioenergy to be held in Rome, June 3-5, 2008.
The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty suggests the creation of a UN Commission on Food Production, Consumption and Trade, as a more inclusive mechanism to replace the UN Task Force. It also advocates that the food emergency situation should override previous trade and international agreements and a new trade dialogue should begin under the auspices of the UN.
At this time, when food security threatens stability around the world, a few agricultural biotechnology companies are trying to concentrate corporate power, gain a monopoly over a large part of global food, undermine small farming and farmers rights, and most likely drive up costs. “Globally, the top 10 seed corporations already control 57% of commercial seed sales. This is a bid to capture as much of the rest of the market as possible,” explains Hope Shand, Research Director of ETC Group. According to ETC Group's report, Patenting "Climate Genes"...And Capturing the Climate Agenda, Monsanto, BASF, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer and Dow––along with some biotech partners––have filed 532 patent documents on genes related to environmental stress tolerance at patent offices around the world. In the meantime, poor countries complain that unfair policies are threatening their local seeds, undermining agricultural productivity and jeopardizing national food security. Some Indian farmers are giving up planting rice, because it is not cost-effective anymore, due to the high prices of fertilizer, seeds and pesticides.
Global warming is most probably the cause of changing rainfall patterns in Australia, concluded scientists gathered to discuss recent findings by the South-Eastern Australia Climate Initiative (SEACI). Assessing specifically the decline of rainfall and inflows into the Murray-Darling river systems over the past decade, SEACI, a three-year project that began in 2006, reveals that the Southeast Australian water system will most likely be increasingly stressed in the future as rainfall is expected to be significantly reduced, concomitantly with suspected warmer temperatures. Dr Wendy Craik, chief executive of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, notes that in some parts of the basin the drought is more severe than the worst climate change predictions for 2055. Since future prospects are not encouraging, drought-adaptation strategies should be considered.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Arctic sea ice has declined by about 10% in the past decade, note scientists from the University of Colorado’s Center for Astrodynamics Research. They estimate that there is a 59% chance that this year in September the ice cover will reach a new record low, as currently the ice is thinner and younger than at any time since observations have been recorded. In September 2007, the extent of Arctic sea ice was the smallest on record.
Scientists are increasingly confident that human activity is the cause of the new weather patterns seen at both poles. Their findings are based on computer models that analyzed natural and human-caused variables, and were compared with the observed real conditions. The models revealed an ice-free Arctic by 2030––about two decades ahead of the predictions in the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports.

Rising Sea Levels
Six of the 18 inhabited low-lying Australian Torres islands have little or no elevation and are in danger of being swallowed by the sea. The islanders are already suffering because of abnormally high tides, land erosion, shifting seasons, and increasingly scarce marine life that traditionally constitutes their food source. Aborigines and Torres Strait islanders regained ownership of their traditional lands in 1992. Already socially and economically marginalized, the roughly 7,000 people are unhappy with the lack of attention and care on the part of the Australian government.
The Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason 2 mission to be launched in June will provide data for better understanding ocean currents and the rises in sea levels. Current marine measurements show that sea levels have risen on average by 0.3 centimeters since 1993, twice that, in the whole 20th century. The Jason 2 mission is a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the French National Center of Space Studies (CNES), and the European satellite agency EUMETSAT.

Computer Modeling
Climate scientists and modelers warn that climate change forecasting abilities are still relatively weak and that some of those considered in policymaking––such as the IPCC assessments––are highly debatable, being too conservative and not taking into account the latest research.
Climate modelers from around the world met at the World Modelling Summit for Climate Prediction, held in Reading (UK), May 6-9, 2008, to try to improve forecasting abilities, including measures that will allow a better understanding of how the climate will be affected locally as well as globally. At the end of the four-day summit, scientists made the case for a climate-prediction project on the scale of the Human Genome Project. A key component of this scheme would be a world climate research facility with computer power far beyond that currently used in the field.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
Scientists at the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii found that the levels of CO2 are at least 34% higher than pre-Industrial Revolution levels and near the suspected climate-tipping point of 400 ppm. They note that the rise was 2.14 ppm in 2007, while from 1970 to 2000 the concentration rose by an average of about 1.5 ppm each year.
“Present global mean CO2, 385 ppm, is already in the dangerous zone” and “prompt policy changes” are needed, suggests the Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim? paper by a group of scientists led by Jim Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Based on an analysis of paleoclimate data and ongoing climate change, the authors argue that CO2 should be reduced to a maximum of 350 ppm in order to avoid reaching irreversible tipping points and maintain the Earth conditions supporting life as we know it. The main policy suggestions include increasing efforts to find energy sources beyond fossil fuels, and ending fossil fuel exploitation and use without adequate CO2 capture and sequestration. The ultimate task is phaseout over the next 20-25 years of coal plants that are not equipped with carbon sequestration technology. The paper admits that establishing a clear time frame of climate change is difficult, since the models are still deficient. Nevertheless, it underlines the urgency of the situation and concludes that although the task of curbing man-made CO2 emission is difficult, it is “feasible when compared with the efforts that went into World War II.”
The meeting of the environment ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized nations held in Kobe, Japan, concluded with an agreement on the long-term goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050, but without any specific emissions reduction targets for 2020.
The State and Trends of the Carbon Market 2008 report of the World Bank shows that the global carbon market grew to $64 billion in 2007, more than double the 2006 level. The European Union Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS) also saw a doubling of both value and number of allowances transacted.
The report From Bali to Poznan: New Issues, New Challenges summarizes the discussions and outcomes of the conference with the same name held at the European Parliament in Brussels, December 18, 2007, convened by the Institute for Environmental Security in cooperation with other interested organizations. It assesses the impact of climate change on international security and sustainable development, a switch to solar energy as an alternative to fossil fuels, implications of illegal trade in natural resources, and the ways climate change influences European foreign policy. The report can be seen as background policy information for the next UNCCC to be held in Poznan in December 1-12, 2008.
Sources:
Earth Impacts Linked to Human-Caused Climate Change http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20080514/
Warming world altering thousands of natural systems http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080514/full/news.2008.823.html
Greenhouse gases highest for 800,000 years http://in.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idINL1440399320080514
Response to cyclone in Myanmar ‘unacceptably slow’ – Ban Ki-moon http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=26634&Cr=myanmar&Cr1=
Tornado season deadliest in a decade http://www.usatoday.com/weather/storms/tornadoes/2008-05-12-tornado_N.htm?csp=DailyBriefing
Food Crisis Escapes Security Council Scrutiny http://www.asiantribune.com/?q=node/10984
Secretary-General convenes inaugural meeting of food crisis task force http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=26632&Cr=food&Cr1=crisis
Gene Giants Grab "Climate Genes" http://www.etcgroup.org/en/materials/publications.html?pub_id=688
Global Warming Linked to Rainfall Decline in South-East Australia http://www.mdbc.gov.au/subs/seaci/SEACImedia-release-May08.pdf
CU-Boulder Researchers Predict 59 Percent Chance Of Record Low Arctic Sea Ice In 2008 http://www.colorado.edu/news/r/1fb96a0f5e60677e20ddafee67219e8d.html
French-US satellite set for June launch to track sea levels http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gv2lwkG8qxbEaQ-wL1FaeDj0RIxA
They say they want a revolution http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080514/full/453268a.html
Greenhouse gas hits record level http://www.metro.co.uk/news/climatewatch/article.html?in_article_id=147343&in_page_id=59
Clock Running Out on Irreversible Climate Change – Part I http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=10657
From Bali to Poznan: New Issues, New Challenges http://www.envirosecurity.org/activities/diplomacy/gfsp/climate

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
New Study Raises Asbestos-type Health Worries for Nanotubes
According to a story in PhysOrg.com, “A major study … in Nature Nanotechnology suggests some forms of carbon nanotubes … could be as harmful as asbestos if inhaled in sufficient quantities.” Reporting experiments carried out on mouse tissue, one of the researchers, Prof. Kenneth Donaldson of the University of Edinburgh, stated, “Long, thin carbon nanotubes showed the same effects as long, thin asbestos fibers”, causing pathological responses known to be precursors of mesothelioma. The scientists noted that it is still unknown if the tubes can be inhaled and reach sensitive portions of the lungs.
Petition to Stop Nano-silver-containing Products
A petition filed by a citizens’ coalition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is demanding the agency exercise its pesticides’ regulating authority and stop the sale of about 260 products containing nano-silver, due to the compound’s possible risks to human health and the environment. The coalition of consumers, health, and environmental groups is led by the nanotech watchdog International Center for Technology Assessment.
Sources:
Carbon nanotubes that look like asbestos, behave like asbestos News story: http://www.physorg.com/news130510729.html
EPA Petitioned to Stop Sale of 260 Products Containing Nano-Silver http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/may2008/2008-05-02-093.asp

Reports and Sources Suggested for Review

Twenty Years of Environmental Security
An Uncommon Peace: Environment, Development, and the Global Security Agenda by Geoffrey D. Dabelko, ECSP Director, published on the 20th anniversary of Our Common Future (commonly known as the Brundtland report) is an assessment of the evolution of our understanding of environmental concerns with implications for national and international security. It addresses changes in the traditional state-centered approach to new security threats such as: the possible environmental consequences of nuclear war replaced by the increased threat of dirty bombs; new threats such as genetic mutations; and health and poverty. Dabelko notes that these new realities outline the pathway to “one facet of our common future: environmental peacemaking.”
Source:
An Uncommon Peace: Environment, Development, and the Global Security Agenda, by Geoffrey D. Dabelko http://www.heldref.org/env-dabelko.php

Tools for Improving Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
A Review of Decision-Making Support Tools in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sector, a study directed by Peter H. Gleick at the Pacific Institute and by Geoffrey D. Dabelko at the Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program, evaluates 120 existing resources in the sector, analyses the world’s situation on access to water and sanitation, and assesses existing technologies and methodologies. The report recommends development of a set of tools to help decision-makers with infrastructure development, available technologies, and possible approaches. The tools would also outline specific needs of geographic locations, evaluate community particularities, and use case studies to demonstrate available technologies.
Source:
A Review of Decision-Making Support Tools in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sector http://www.pacinst.org/reports/WASH_tool/index.htm

Improved Database for Stormwater Best Management Practices
Improvements in the International Stormwater BMP Database (www.bmpdatabase.org) were recently announced. They will ease BMP searches, data collection and uploading, and access to BMP performance analyses. The changes include more data, new data analysis results, easier Web site navigation, and simplified data entry.
Sources:
Bigger and Better Stormwater BMP Database http://www.enn.com/press_releases/2480
WERF website http://www.werf.org//AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home

Back to Top


April 2008

Briefings on Environmental Security at NATO Conference
Prior to the NATO Summit in April, the NATO Security Science Forum on Environmental Security held in Brussels on March 12th addressed security implications of environmental issues such as climate change, water, energy security, and natural catastrophes. It also looked at environmental security forecasting and cooperation with other international organizations to increase environmental security. Webcasts of the presentations are available on the first website listed below. After the NATO Summit in April in Romania, Russian President Vladimir Putin and NATO leaders agreed to cooperate in several areas, including environmental security.
Sources:
NATO Security Science Forum on Environmental Security http://www.nato.int/docu/comm/2008/0803-science/0803-science.htm
NATO-Russia Council Concludes 2008 Bucharest Summit http://www.america.gov/st/peacesec-english/2008/April/20080404162813idybeekcm0.9275629.html

Half of Transported European Hazardous Waste Could Be Illegal––How Much More Elsewhere?
Hazardous substances such as ozone-depleting substances and toxic chemicals are increasingly profitable, difficult to tackle, and involve international organized crime. Estimates from the early 2000s suggest that 10-20% of the ozone-depleting substance trade was illegal (a value of $25-60 million). The Basel Convention estimates international hazardous waste movement to be at least 8.5 million tonnes per year. Although it is difficult to estimate the illegal portion of this, a project undertaken in 13 European countries found that over 50% of the waste shipments examined were illegal. One could imagine higher percentages in countries with fewer inspection capabilities and in failed states. E-waste (electronic waste, some of which is hazardous) is growing worldwide. About 70% of it is dumped in developing countries in Asia and Africa. At a recent high-level meeting on enforcement issues held by the World Customs Organization, representatives of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), customs administrations, and other interested organizations agreed on an Action Plan to improve enforcement and tackle increasing environment crime. The Plan calls for increased detection efficiency by customs offices, creation of environmental crime units, and international co-operation and information exchange.
Sources:
UNEP correspondence with Millennium Project staff
Environment crime now high on the world agenda http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=530&ArticleID=5764&l=en
The Growth and Control of International Environmental Crime––Background papers http://www.illegal-logging.info/uploads/Intenvcrime2007backgroundpapers.pdf

Climate Change and Access to Water Addressed as Human Rights
The seventh regular session of the Human Rights Council adopted 36 resolutions on a wide range of issues, including two major reports to be delivered in three years to the tenth session of the Council: one on water as a human right, and another on the relationship between climate change and human rights. In the meantime, 2008 is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will also increase reflections on these two topics.
Sources:
U.N. human rights body turns to climate change http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSL2778449820080328?feedType=RSS&feedName=environmentNews&sp=true
Human Rights Council Adopts 36 Resolutions and Extends Mandates of 13 Special Procedures at Seventh Regular Session http://www.unhchr.ch/huricane/huricane.nsf/view01/AADEFF2389520CC0C125741A0071BB93?opendocument

International Alliance of Forest Peoples
The International Alliance of Forest Peoples was established by the participants in the Peoples of the Forest and Climate Change workshop held in Manaus, Brazil. The scope of the Alliance is to improve international collaboration to guarantee the respect of forest people’s rights to land and natural resources and to their traditional livelihoods, facilitate their adaptation to climate change, and improve their participation in the mechanisms for the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. The Declaration was signed by 11 countries: Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guyana, French Guyana, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Suriname, and Panama. Delegations from Africa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Asia (Indonesia) and observers from the UN and NGOs from Brazil, England and the U.S. also attended the meeting.
Source:
International Alliance will unite the forest peoples of the world http://forestnewswire.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=122:international-alliance-will-unite-the-forest-peoples-of-the-world&catid=1:latest

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

Chemical Agent Cleanser Developed in Canada
A new non-toxic method for rapidly and safely destroying toxic agents, such as chemical weapons and pesticides, has been developed by researchers from Queen’s University, Canada. The alcohol-based system is non-corrosive, acts within minutes, and proved to be more than 99% effective in eliminating organophosphorus agents, such as Tabun, Soman and VX. It might represent a safe and environmentally friendly option for destroying stockpiles of chemical weapons, environmental spill cleanup, and rapid response to possible terrorist attacks using chemical weapons agents. It is safe in most conditions and has no special storage requirements.
Sources:
“Green” method decontaminates deadly nerve agents http://qnc.queensu.ca/story_loader.php?id=47fb870ea02f1
New nerve agent cleansing method created http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Science/2008/04/15/new_nerve_agent_cleansing_method_created/8254/

Animal-Robot Team Effective for UXO Clearance
Animal-robot teams can be a safe and efficient alternative for post-conflict area scanning and clean-up. A remotely controlled robot leading a dwarf mongoose (Helogale parvula) trained to sniff out explosives is an approach demonstrated by Thrishantha Nanayakkara and colleagues at the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka. The group APOPO in Tanzania has been training Gambian giant pouched rats for similar manually-led operations, but the robot guidance eliminates the human risk factor. The two animals mentioned are more easily trained and perform better than dogs.
Sources:
Mongoose-robot duo sniff out landmines on the cheap http://technology.newscientist.com/channel/tech/mg19826535.900?DCMP=NLC-nletter&nsref=mg19826535.900
Video of the mongoose and robot pair sniffing our landmines http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=fSQpzh02JaA
Giant Hero Rats Being Trained to Sniff Out Land Mines http://www.buzzle.com/articles/giant-hero-rats-being-trained-to-sniff-out-land-mines.html
Trained Rats Sniff out TB, Land Mines in Tanzania http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/AFRICAEXT/TANZANIAEXTN/0,,contentMDK:21462478~menuPK:287357~pagePK:141137~piPK:141127~theSitePK:258799,00.html

All-Electric cars coming from Norway and China with More than Hundred Mile Ranges
An all-electric car is expected to be available for purchase next year (2009) in the U.S.; it is called “Think City” from Think North America, a Norwegian-California joint venture startup. The car runs on sodium or lithium batteries and can travel up to 110 miles on one charge. In 3-5 years BYD Auto Co. of Shenzhen, China, plans to market its all-electric car in the U.S. with a 185-mile range on a single full charge.
Sources:
BYD Company www.byd.com
China's BYD Auto Co. to Unveil All-Electric Car http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120849294773525787.html
Kleiner Perkins Venture to Sell Electric Car in US http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/48084/story.htm

New Solar Cell Design Raises Efficiency
Prof. Ely Sachs and colleagues at MIT have developed a solar cell design that offers a 27% increase in efficiency over existing devices. They predict that the cells’ present cost of $1.85/watt can be reduced to about $1.35/watt. The new multi-crystalline silicon cells embody several improvements, which increase the amount of light reaching the active elements in the cells. Commercialization of the development is being done by 1366 Technologies. [See also New Project for Nanowire Solar Cells in January 2008, Reducing Military Footprint with Solar Energy at 30 Cents per Watt in November 2007, and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
MIT spinoff shoots for solar power at $1 per watt http://www.news.com/8301-11128_3-9903728-54.html
MIT spin-off plans to manufacture cheap, efficient solar cells http://www.physorg.com/news125842769.html

New Material for Storing Hydrogen
Physicists Adam Phillips and Bellave Shivaram of the University of Virginia have found a new class of materials, transition metal-ethylene complexes, which may offer a much more efficient way of storing hydrogen for fuel cell applications than previous substances. An example uses titanium with an ethylene nanostructure, which their measurements indicate will hold 12% by weight of hydrogen, more than twice the target of 5.4% set by DOE to support the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Source:
Physicists find new material for storing hydrogen http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/33614 (Registration required)

NanoRadio Offers Low Impact Environmental Monitoring and Communications
Prof. Alex Zettl of the Univ. of California’s Berkeley Nanosciences & Nanoengineering Institute and his group have developed a nanoscale radio, in which the key circuit consists of a single carbon nanotube. This work derived from an effort to create inexpensive wireless environmental sensors.
Source:
TR10: NanoRadio http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?ch=specialsections&sc=emerging08&id=20244

Antigenic Maps Help Trace Development of Diseases
Derek Smith, professor of infectious disease informatics at Cambridge University’s Department of Zoology, and colleagues at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, have developed software that, according to a Scientific American article, “create[s] an antigenic [stimulates the production of antibodies] map that documents 13,000 human flu strains isolated over the past five years When these results are plotted on a digital antigenic map, researchers can see in fine detail how the body’s immune system responds to different mutations of the virus.”
Source:
Maps Point the Way to Fighting the Flu Virus http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=antigenic-cartography-maps

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Chemical Weapons Convention Gets New Boost
The Second Review Conference for the Chemical Weapons Convention was held in The Hague, April 7-18, 2008, attended by delegates from 114 of the 183 treaty states. The main issues brought up by participants were: threats posed by the use of chemical weapons by nonstate actors; deadlines for chemical weapons destruction (specifically named were Russia and the U.S., which have to destroy their chemical warfare agents by April 29, 2012, and Japan for destruction of its chemical weapons stockpiles in China); and universal adherence to the treaty. Delegates produced a report that reviews the treaty procedures and implementation issues, and urges the 12 countries that are not yet Party (Angola, the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Myanmar, North Korea, Somalia and Syria) to join the international disarmament and nonproliferation treaty “as a matter of urgency and without preconditions.” The report does not address the convention’s relation to some new science and technology developments that could produce new threats––such as development of new incapacitating agents, advances in biology and nanotechnology, and industry verification mechanisms. It was proposed that, from now on, the Scientific Advisory Board of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons meet twice a year, not just once as it has previously. [See also New Concerns Rising over Chemical Weapons in April 2007 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
In the meantime, Pacific Consultants International warns that Japan is not on schedule for meeting its obligations towards China in the recovery and destruction of hundreds of thousands of chemical weapons abandoned at the end of World War II and will most probably not meet the April 2012 deadline, due to management problems. [See also Japanese Chemical Weapons Cleaning in China Yet to be Completed in June 2007, and other previous environmental security reports on this issue.]
Sources:
Second Review Conference http://www.opcw.org/rc2/index.html
Nations Demand Adherence to CW Disposal Deadlines http://204.71.60.36/d%5Fnewswire/issues/2008/4/8/9cb5bc8a%2D5136%2D4594%2Da750%2Dc5108a7b58ec.html
Chemical arms disposal pricey / China project hit for opaque management, exorbitant costs http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20080424TDY02307.htm
Japan’s efforts toward early destruction of ACW in China http://www.opcw.org/docs/csp/rc2/en/rc2nat20(e).pdf

African Countries Call for International Ban on Cluster Bombs
The first meeting of African countries on cluster bombs adopted the “Livingstone Declaration,” endorsed by 38 out of 39 countries (South Africa, one of the continent’s two producer states was the exception.) The strong political declaration is formally committing the African countries to the negotiations for a global cluster munitions ban treaty to be held in Dublin, Ireland, May 19-30, 2008. There was widespread support for a broad definition of cluster munitions to avoid exceptions based on so-called ‘technical fixes,’ and on the need for comprehensive liability provisions for the affected communities. The Dublin meeting should conclude the Oslo process and agree on the final terms and language of a cluster bombs ban treaty, which would then be opened for signature before the end of 2008. [See also Negotiations Continue for an International Instrument to Ban Cluster Munitions in November 2007 and other items on this issue in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Strong Landmark African Declaration to Ban Cluster Bombs - Only South Africa Calls for Exceptions to the Ban http://www.icbl.org/news/zambia_pr
The Cluster Munitions Process http://www.clusterprocess.org

Questions on Bisphenol A Risk Raised Again
The Canadian health ministry is said to be ready to declare BPA a dangerous substance, and the US National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, has expressed concern over its effects on the very young. [See also Possible Risk with Bisphenol A Receiving Increased Attention in December 2007 environmental security report]
Sources:
Canada Could Ban Baby Bottles Containing Bisphenol A http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2008/2008-04-22-05.asp
Plastic bottle chemical may be harmful: agency http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSN1513929320080415?sp=true

Climate Change

Scientific Evidences
Scientists have detected dilution in salinity of the sea around Antarctica and warn that this could have significant effects on the world's climate and ocean currents. The so-called Antarctic bottom water of this region controls the system of ocean currents spanning the Southern, Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans that shift heat around the globe. The phenomenon might be due to global warming, and jn its turn will influence climate change.
For the past 20 years, no significant correlation can be established between climate change and the Sun’s activity, found UK Lancaster University scientists, using three different research methods. The findings support the assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that man-made greenhouse gas emissions outweigh solar activity variations as a cause of global warming.
Climate change-induced effects might prove costly for the US. Although there is no consensus on the link between global warming and the number of hurricanes, scientists agree that climate change could increase storms’ damaging forces. The National Hurricane Center estimates that the US might be hit by a hurricane that could cause more than $100 billion in damage. Highly populated coastal areas are at highest risk. A category 5 hurricane could produce at least $140 billion in damage to South Florida.

Food and Water Security
Continuous escalation of food prices worldwide increases distress in poor regions, raising the danger of social and political unrest. Demonstrations and/or riots due to unaffordable basic needs have already erupted in Egypt, Cameroon, Haiti, Burkina Faso, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mozambique and Senegal. FAO says that six countries have an “exceptional shortfall” of food supplies: Lesotho, Somalia, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Iraq, and Moldova, while another six suffer of “widespread lack of access” to food: Eritrea, Liberia, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and North Korea. Out of the estimated ~40 countries at “food crisis” risk, some 20 are or were recently affected by internal conflicts, and 21 have suffered from floods, droughts, and other weather disasters.
The International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development Synthesis Report presents statistical analyses of basic food prices, an assessment of the state of world agricultural regions and threats to production; suggests several strategies and methods to increase agricultural efficiency, such as how to produce food that is less dependent on fossil fuels and favors natural fertilizers and traditional seeds; and offers suggestions for rational use and preservation of soil and water supply.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched a new five-year food security strategy in Africa focussing on long-term investments to improve food security programmes in 15 African countries. The new plan will include new technologies, seed banks and soil nutrient management, and the establishment of community-based food security monitoring systems.
The Twenty-Fifth Special Meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) on the Environment held in Greater Georgetown, Guyana, April 17-18, 2008 focused on critical environmental issues that affect the lives of people of Small Island Developing and Low-Lying Coastal States. It was agreed that the Caribbean Community Environmental and Natural Resource Framework should address adaptation to climate change effects and food security and freshwater resources.
In Australia, a six-year-long drought reduced Australia’s rice crop by 98% affecting local population, prices, and importing countries’ food source.
A conference hosted by the European Water Forum in the European Parliament on 16 April increased the warnings of growing water scarcity concerns, calling for speedy solutions to combat water shortages, which might include higher water prices to deter overuse.
In order to assist countries to adopt a new strategy for addressing food and water security by engaging international action to combat desertification, land degradation and drought, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification Secretariat is convening a high-level policy dialogue to be held in Bonn, Germany on May 27.
Water security will also be affected by earlier melting of glaciers and mountain snow, leaving millions of people in need during the summer when rainfall is lower, warn scientists. The earth's sub-tropic zones, home to 70% of the world's population, are the most vulnerable. The areas most at risk include parts of the Middle East, southern Africa, the United States, South America and the Mediterranean.
The fast melting high altitude glaciers in Andean mountains alter eco-systems, affecting the livelihood of people of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. The IPCC estimated that rising temperatures could melt most of Latin America’s glaciers by 2022. In some regions, demand for water might exceed supply as soon as 2009.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Melting ice caps because of global warming may trigger more volcanic eruptions, scientists estimate. Thinning ice and thus reduced weight on the earth’s crust changes the geological stresses inside the crust in general, and also intensifies the rate of magma melting, increasing the possibility of eruptions, explain scientists Carolina Pagli of the University of Leeds, UK, Freysteinn Sigmundsson of the University of Iceland, and Bill McGuire of University College London in the UK.
Arctic permanent ice shelves are breaking off or cracking at a higher rate than feared, noted polar ice researchers who accompanied Canadian Rangers on a patrol around Ellesmere Island. They estimate that the High Arctic ice shelves could all be fragmented in a matter of years. Another study, by scientists of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Colorado State University (CSU), reveals that new Arctic sea ice is on average so extremely thin, that it melts under the sunshine of clear summer skies it once could survive. U.S. submarines’ readings reveal a 40% reduction in sea ice thickness since 1960.
The Arctic Climate Impact Science – An Update Since the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report, produced for the World Wildlife Fund, presented to the Arctic Council, says that there could be factors contributing to climate change that were not even considered, since the real changes are happening much faster than predicted by computer models and scientists. The report estimates that the summer ice pack could be gone in 5 to 32 years.
Release of long-stored methane gas from the thawing of the Arctic is one of the phenomena that could have catastrophic warming effects. At the annual conference of the European Geosciences Union held in Vienna, Russian polar scientists presented evidence that the first stages of melting have already begun off the coast of Siberia, as well as on land in northern Siberia.
There is research underway for the use of this methane as fuel. The state-owned Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation announced that it wants to extract some 7 trillion tonnes of methane estimated to exist in Japanese coastal waters. However, there are fears that this might release huge volumes of gas with possible disastrous environmental consequences.

Computer Modeling
The results of a new study by MIT researchers reinforce the connection between climate change and the intensity of storms. The new findings, based on pure theoretical computer simulation analysis using the Global Circulation Models, are consistent with the results of an earlier study, based on historical data, which showed a near doubling in the intensity of Atlantic storms over the last 30 years. Both studies confirm an increase in the intensity and duration of tropical cyclones, but, as for the future, many clarifications are still needed to determine the effects of global warming and CO2 on storms’ number and intensity.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The first session of the working groups for negotiating a post-Kyoto treaty to address greenhouse gas emissions reductions took place from March 31 to April 4, 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand. Delegates from 163 countries participated. The main outcome is a work plan to advance the Bali roadmap. Many delegates proposed workshops on issues they wanted to be addressed by the new treaty. Generally, the discussions went well, the main disagreement area being the Japanese proposal on a “sectoral approach” for greenhouse gas emissions targets based on energy-efficiency standards by industry, and the concept of “measuring, reporting and verifying.” Seven more sessions will be held––three this year and four in 2009.
The next meeting will be held in June, in Bonn, addressing developing countries’ adaptation strategies and clean technology transfer. In-depth discussions of the Japanese proposal on greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency targets were postponed to the August meeting to be held in Ghana. China, India, and other developing countries strongly oppose the Japanese plan that would require developing countries to stabilize greenhouse gases over the next 10–15 years and cut them in half by 2050. Significant disagreements remain over demands from the U.S. and Japan for developing countries to accept binding targets as part of a pact to stabilize greenhouse gases in the next 10–15 years and cut them in half by 2050.
Aviation and shipping industries account for some 5%-8% of greenhouse gas emissions and are sectors not covered by the Kyoto Protocol, due to the difficulty in classifying them under individual nations. However, the European community estimates that emissions might grow by 32% from shipping and 90% from aviation. Therefore, Europe is advocating clear and meaningful greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for the two sectors.
The newly elected Australian government sponsored a 2020 summit during April 2008. One thousand selected invitees spent two days considering ten themes, including Australia’s long-term role in the region. A detailed response to the summit is expected from the Government by the end of 2008. The new Australian government has taken a more aggressive approach to CO2 emissions reduction and the 2020 summit held in April 2008 encouraged the government to further take a regional lead in this area. The government has committed Australia to a carbon-trading scheme by 2010.
Governors of 20 U.S. states signed the Governors’ Declaration on Climate Change at the 2008 Conference on Climate Change held at Yale University. The Declaration is establishing a partnership between the states and the federal government to increase efforts to control and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the same meeting, Premier Jean Charest of Quebec, Canada, announced that Quebec is joining the Western Climate Initiative, which calls for a 15% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2020.
While negotiations for a post-2012 treaty continue, questions are growing about better enforcement mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol to compel governments to respect their commitments. Change of government shouldn’t allow policy changes relative to a country’s international commitments and ratified regulations. Canada, Japan and some southern European countries are all well behind their targets. “The biggest concern comes from countries like Canada that have openly begun voicing doubts about whether they will comply or even care about complying,” said Antonio Hill, from Oxfam.
Sources:
Freshening of deep Antarctic waters worries experts http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/34921
'No Sun link' to climate change http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7327393.stm
Scientists downplay global warming’s effect on hurricanes http://www.sott.net/articles/show/153074-Scientists-downplay-global-warming-s-effect-on-hurricanes
Global Hot Spots of Hunger Set to Explode http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=41976
International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development http://www.agassessment.org/index.cfm?Page=IAASTD%20Reports&ItemID=2713
International Federation launches new five-year food security strategy in Africa focussing on long-term investments http://www.ifrc.org/Docs/News/pr08/1508.asp
Region urged to make the environment a priority http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/news-7280--39-39--.html
A Drought in Australia, a Global Shortage of Rice http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/17/business/worldbusiness/17warm.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
Melting mountains a "time bomb" for water shortages http://africa.reuters.com/wire/news/usnL14573335.html
Town in the Andes faces crisis as glaciers melt http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/04/23/MNSDVIN7E.DTL
Melting ice caps may trigger more volcanic eruptions http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn13583-melting-ice-caps-may-trigger-more-volcanic-eruptions.html (by subscription)
Arctic ice melting fast in summer sun http://www.thestar.com/sciencetech/article/416901
A Storehouse of Greenhouse Gases Is Opening in Siberia http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,547976,00.html
'Flammable ice' could be mined for fuel http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/energy-fuels/mg19826523.400-methane-could-be-mined-from-beneath-permafrost.html
New MIT study validates hurricane prediction http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/emanuel-paper-0417.html
Bangkok Climate Change Talks - 31 March to 4 April 2008 http://unfccc.int/meetings/intersessional/awg-lca_1_and_awg-kp_5/items/4288.php
Australia 2020 http://www.australia2020.gov.au/
Governors Call for Federal-State Climate Change Partnership http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2008/2008-04-18-01.asp
Do global warming pledges matter? http://www.terradaily.com/2007/080403023938.mw16xxva.html

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
Some noteworthy nanotechnology safety activities from this month are:
• EU Establishes Nanotech Advisory Research Project. The EU FP7 (EU’s Seventh Research Framework Programme) project “ObservatoryNANO” has begun operation. According to nanoforum.org, it is funded for four years and “will collate and analyze data regarding scientific and technological (ST) trends and economic realities and expectations. The ST and economic analysis will be further supported by assessment of ethical and societal issues, impacts on health, environment and safety, as well as regulation, standardization, and legislative issues.”
New Analysis of Nanotech Risk Assessment Funding by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, analyzing nanotech spending for fiscal year 2006, found that only $13 million––representing less than 1% percent of the $1.4 billion U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative budget––was spent on federal research projects highly relevant to addressing possible environment, health and safety risks related to nanotechnology. The same year, European countries invested nearly double––$24 million ––on similar nanotech risk-assessment projects. Draft legislation proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives Science Committee would require that in the future, a minimum 10% of the NNI budget be devoted to risk assessment research.
• The NSTI Nanotech 2008 Conference is scheduled to be held in Boston 1-5 June. Two sessions on “Environmental [sic], Health and Toxicology”, including a paper on “Legislative, Regulartory [sic] and Risk Management for Nanotech EHS”, are on the program for 5 June.
Sources:
Observatory-NANO project http://www.observatory-nano.eu
ObservatoryNANO project kicks off in London http://nanoforum.org/nf06~modul~showmore~folder~99999~scc~news~scid~3573~.html?action=longview& (free membership required)
ObservatoryNANO: responsible nanotechnology for socio-economic benefit http://www.safenano.org/SingleNews.aspx?NewsID=382
Project on Emerging Nanotechnolgies [sic] – Risk Research Inventory Update Analysis http://www.nanotechproject.org/process/assets/files/6691/ehs_risk_research_inventory_080416_final.pdf
Europe Spends Nearly Twice as Much as U.S. on Nanotech Risk Research http://www.nanotechproject.org/news/archive/ehs-update/
NSTI Nanotech 2008 http://nsti.org/Nanotech2008/

Reports Suggested for Review

Addressing Security Aspects of Climate Change
Delivering Climate Security: International Security Responses to a Climate Changed World, by Nick Mabey, published by Britain’s Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, outlines a framework for climate security analysis and some of its implications for security policy, practice and institutional change. Noting that international response to climate security threats has been ‘slow and inadequate’, it recommends that nations integrate climate change into their security policy to prepare for worst-case scenarios. Otherwise, says the author, climate change might have security implications of “similar magnitude to the World Wars, but which will last for centuries.”
Sources:
Delivering Climate Security: International Security Responses to a Climate Changed World http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=g792406239~db=mass
Climate change 'may put world at war' http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/04/23/eaclimate123.xml

Terrorists Could Tap Pharmaceutical Toxins
Old Plagues, New Threats by the Cooperative Nonproliferation Program at the Stimson Center is a comprehensive analysis of the state of monitoring and regulation of emerging products and technologies. It uses the pharmaceutical industry as a case study and outlines the threats—from research and distribution to injection into patients of products derived from select agents. The growing interest in dangerous pathogens and toxins increases the potential of their use in biological weapons by nefarious actors. Lack of adequate regulations increases the possibility of such scenarios. [See also Accelerating Synthetic Biology Applications Need Better Monitoring and Regulation in July 2007 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Source:
Pharmaceutical Terrorism—The Bane of Biotech http://www.stimson.org/pub.cfm?ID=596

Back to top


March 2008

Continually Rising Food Prices Threaten Long-Term Global Stability
According to UN data, global food prices rose 35% this year and have already risen 65% since 2002. Biofuels competition for land and water, climate change, oil prices, and increasing population and incomes all contribute to the long-term increases in food prices. The Food and Agriculture Organization found that dairy prices rose nearly 80% and grain 42% in 2007. With nearly 3 billion people making $2 or less per day, long-term global social conflict seems inevitable without more serious food policies, scientific breakthroughs, and dietary changes.
Source:
Tensions Rise As World Faces Short Rations http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/47716/story.htm

EU, Latin American and Caribbean Countries Environment Cooperation
The first meeting of the EU, Latin American, and Caribbean countries’ environment ministers took place in Brussels, March 4, 2008, in a pre-meeting to the high level summit to be held in Lima, in May. More than two dozen environment ministers attended the meeting aiming to identify common priorities in order to increase environmental efforts and better integrate them in the EU–LAC countries’ areas of cooperation. The focus was on collaboration strategies between the two regions for addressing climate change, renewable energy, biodiversity loss, and deforestation. The EU has already pledged considerable funds to help the region in domains such as natural resource management, renewable energy and energy efficiency, forest management, climate change mitigation, greenhouse gas reduction, carbon sequestration, and governance.
Source:
First ever meeting of environment ministers from EU and Latin America and Caribbean countries held in Brussels http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/381&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

United Arab Emirates Establish Nuclear Agency
The United Arab Emirates’ governing Cabinet approved the establishment of the new Nuclear Energy Authority, with “the mandate to evaluate and develop a peaceful nuclear energy program in line with the recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency” as part of its civilian nuclear power program.
Source:
UAE to set up nuclear agency http://www.gulfnews.com/nation/Government/10199893.html

Shipwrecks Removal Treaty Received First Signature
The Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks adopted in May 2007 provides an international legal framework to deal with shipwrecks presenting possible safety and/or environmental hazards. According to the International Maritime Organization, the number of abandoned shipwrecks worldwide is estimated to be 1,300, and the threat they represent has been increasing. The convention provides the legal basis for States to remove the wrecks, or have them removed, and have the registered owner liable for costs incurred. The Convention is open for signature until November 18, 2008, thereafter being open for ratification, accession or acceptance; it will enter into force 12 months after the date it receives ten ratifications (or accessions or acceptances).
Sources:
Estonia the first to sign UN-backed sea wreck treaty http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=26130&Cr=maritime&Cr1=
New international treaty on wreck removal adopted in Nairobi http://www.imo.org/About/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1472&doc_id=8070

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

Ionic Liquids Provide Safe Alternative to Mercury
Robin Rogers of Queen's University, Belfast, UK, and his colleagues have discovered that ionic liquids (IL)––salts in liquid form––are an environmentally safe substitute for mercury in thermometers. Gary Baker, of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the U.S., also points out that ILs are potentially green replacements for conventional solvents in other applications.
Source:
New ionic liquid in thermometers beats mercury on range, performance and safety http://www.rsc.org/AboutUs/News/PressReleases/2008/ILThermometers.asp

New Rapid Portable Chemical Sensor
Guardion-7, a 28-pound, briefcase-sized unit is a portable chemical sensor that can identify nerve agents, explosives and other substances within five minutes, with high accuracy, even in extreme climates, apparently without false-positive readings found in current sensors. It was developed by Brigham Young University scientist Milton Lee and has been successfully tested at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency certified its accuracy in February. Research continues to make the device even smaller and lighter.
Source:
BYU scientist creates chemical detector http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695263396,00.html

Reusable Carbon Aerogel Adsorbs Organic Solvent Pollutants
A monolithic carbon aerogel that will adsorb organic solvent pollutants such as benzene, toluene and xylene, and that can be easily regenerated and used repeatedly has been produced by David Fairén Jiménez and other researchers at the Univ. of Granada in Spain.
Source:
Creation of a new material capable of eliminating pollutants by the hydrocarbon industry http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-02/udg-coa022608.php

New Material Strips out Radioactive Debris
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University developed a layered sulfide compound, which very efficiently strips out radioactive strontium-90 from nuclear waste. They are now experimenting with the compound’s ability to isolate such other common radioactive elements as cesium and uranium.
Source:
Compound removes radioactive material from power plant waste http://www.anl.gov/Media_Center/News/2008/news080313a.html

New Type Nanoscale Transistor Would Aid DNA Detectors
A mathematical simulation developed by Samuel Afuwape of National University, in San Diego, helps to design a new type of nanoscale transistor for a portable DNA detector for testing contaminated sites. The new nanoscale ion-selective field-effect transistor (ISFET) could be integrated into a biosensor containing thousands of DNA sequences that would bind with DNA sequences in a sample, producing changes in conductivity detectable by the ISFET. The miniature DNA detector would have broad application, including bioweapons detection.
Source:
A handheld DNA detector may soon be a reality http://www.topnews.in/health/handheld-dna-detector-may-soon-be-reality-21411

New “Green IT” Software under Development
A group at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute started development of “software that is free and easy to download, which will make networked computers more energy-efficient and reduce carbon emissions by saving on electricity needs.” The software will eventually be available from the project website: http://projects.oucs.ox.ac.uk/lowcarbonict.
Sources:
Oxford University launches research project for low carbon computing http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/news/press-releases/080317low-itc.pdf
Oxford University to Develop Free Green Computing Software http://www.greenercomputing.com/news_third.cfm?NewsID=55791

Energy/Performance Benchmark for Workstations under Development
A new, environmentally-oriented project of the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) Graphics and Workstation Performance Group is “working on the benchmark for performance in relation to power consumption, incorporating current benchmarks for 3D graphics as well as looking at workloads for rendering, financial modeling, video encoding and other processes” announced a Greener Computing news story. SPEC will be submitting the benchmark to EPA for use in its Energy Star rating system.
Source:
SPEC Developing Benchmark for Workstation Power Use, Performance http://www.greenercomputing.com/news_third.cfm?NewsID=55773

Chemical Emission Certification Extended to Electronic Devices
GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI), the country’s largest certifier of chemical emissions from building products and furnishings, is expanding its certification efforts to include computers and other electronic devices. According to an Institute announcement, “The GREENGUARD program measures chemical ‘outgassing’ of the product during normal use and operation. Measured emissions are then compared to an extensive list of publicly available short term and long term health risk exposure levels available from the US Environmental Protection Agency, Occupational Safety Health Administration, the state of California, and CDC’s Registry of Toxic Substances.”
Source:
GREENGUARD Expands into Certifying Computers & Electronics http://www.greenguard.org/Default.aspx?tabid=43&ItemId=451

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Biological Weapons Convention Lacks Enforcement Mechanism, Warns Russian General
Col. Gen. Vladimir Filippov, commander of Russia’s WMD protection force, warned that the Biological Weapons Convention lacks enforcement mechanisms that would help prevent nations and terrorists from producing biological warfare agents. The issue was also previously raised by the Nonaligned Nations Movement at the 2007 meeting of states parties. The next Meeting of States Parties is scheduled for December 2008 and the review conference of the BWC is planned for 2011. [See also Progress for Enforcing Biological Weapons Convention in December 2007 and Sixth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention in December 2006 and other related environmental security reports.]
Source:
Enforcement Needed for BWC, Russian General Says http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2008_3_12.html#9729B07E

Arctic Disputes Continue
An authoritative report, Climate Change and International Security, to the European Council, among other recommendations for addressing security issues in the new context of climate change, recommends “Develop an EU Arctic policy based on the evolving geo-strategy of the Arctic region, taking into account i.a. [inter alia] access to resources and the opening of new trade routes.” It notes, “The increased accessibility of the enormous hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic region is changing the geo-strategic dynamics of the region.” A recent U.S. survey revealed that the Alaska continental shelf might extend more than 100 nautical miles farther from the U.S. coast than previously assumed, therefore eventually giving the U.S. the right to claim access to extra seabed resources if it were party to the Law of the Sea treaty. In the meantime, the US-based Arctic Oil & Gas Company has filed a claim with the UN to act as the sole “development agent” in the Arctic region, with exclusive rights to extract oil and gas from the central Arctic Ocean currently beyond the territorial control of the polar nations. [See also Disputes over Polar Regions Expands in October 2007, Arctic Debate Intensifies in August 2007, and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Climate Change and International Security. Paper from the High Representative and the European Commission to the European Council http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/reports/99387.pdf
U.S. firm lays claim to 'potentially vast' Arctic oil resources http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=2699b272-8fed-4da6-8c2a-d54390f7d54b
Arctic Melt Yields Hints of Bigger U.S. Seabed Claim http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/12/arctic-melt-yields-hints-of-bigger-us-seabed-claim/
Continental Slope Off Alaska 100 Nautical Miles Further Off Coast Than Assumed http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080211134449.htm

China’s New Ministry of Environmental Protection
China announced the creation of five new “super ministries”: Ministry of Industry and Information, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, Ministry of Environmental Protection, Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Construction, and Ministry of Transport, and a ministerial-level national energy body to oversee energy policy across all ministries. Establishing the new environment ministry is intended to help tackle China’s growing pollution problems. Environmental monitoring and law enforcement will be high priorities, said future minister of environmental protection, Zhou Shengxian, at the 2008 National Environmental Law Enforcement Conference. [See also China May Restructure Environmental Effort in October 2007, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Source:
China's parliament adopts government reshuffle plan http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2008npc/2008-03/15/content_6538946.htm
China announces 'super-ministries', including one for environment http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5giPUHFKPnbJWleDQdRstP-tEg-0w
Environment chief vows to add muscle http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/bizchina/2008-03/25/content_6563818.htm

EU Leaders Support the 20/20/20 Energy Plan
At the recent EU summit (March 13-14), member states’ leaders indicated support for the EU’s 20/20/20 energy plan. The package should receive full political backing by all governments by the end of 2008 in order to be discussed at the EU Parliament in the first week of 2009. In spite of the tight deadline, EU officials are confident that the plan will pass in time to give the EU a better negotiating position at the December 2009 UN climate change summit. At the same time, despite some countries’ disagreements and complaints, the European Commission reaffirmed that it is not willing to change the timetables and national targets. However: 1) some concessions were agreed for energy intensive industries such as steel and cement factories, which could get free pollution permits––instead of having to buy them by auction, and 2) foreign companies might also be made to take part in the emissions trading system (ETS). [See also European Commission’s New Low-carbon 20/20/20 by 2020 Energy Plan in January 2008 environmental security report.]
EU to commit to tight legislative deadline for green goals http://euobserver.com/9/25832/?rk=1
Brussels defends EU burden-sharing on climate change http://euobserver.com/9/25829/?rk=1
Brussels to grant some concessions to industry in environment proposals http://euobserver.com/9/25839/?rk=1

7.5 Waste Disposal a Matter of Discord or Cooperation between Palestine and Israel
Waste disposal might additionally fuel the increasingly tense relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as waste is transferred from Israel to areas of the West Bank. The main problem is that large quantities of building waste are deposited in pirate sites near Palestinian villages. Some contain toxic substances polluting the environment, leaking into the water system, and endangering the public health of both Palestinian and Israeli people. Scientists and environmentalists call on the two parties to leave aside diplomatic disagreements and develop collaborative relations on environmental issues generally and on solving the waste problem specifically. [See also Water Scarcity in March 2007, and Iran and Iraq Sign Environment Protection Agreement in January 2008 environmental security reports.]
Source:
Apart from the security problems http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/960889.html

Plastic Threats to the Marine Environment
Researchers are increasingly warning of the long-term threat from plastic waste to the marine environment as studies confirm the risks from hidden contamination. While most attention is focused on dangers that visible items of plastic waste pose to wildlife, new researches investigate the impact of underwater microscopic plastic fragments on tiny marine organisms. Researchers note that all continents experience plastic contamination and plastic particles could represent as much as one-quarter of the total weight of sandy material samples gathered on shorelines at the high tide mark. [See also The Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter Enters into Force in March 2006 and other previous environmental security reports on similar issues.]
Source:
Warning on plastic's toxic threat http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7316441.stm

Water Footprint Measuring System
On the occasion of World Water Day, reminding of possible conflicts over water, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the international community to create strategies for using water more efficiently and sharing it more fairly. Similarly, researchers suggest that it is timely to use a system to measure water footprint similar to that used for carbon footprint. A symposium held by the UNESCO-IHE (Institute for Water Education) discussed the “virtual water” issue specifically related to the world energy markets. It was pointed out that present practices are not sustainable and therefore it is necessary to introduce a system to measure water footprint in order to help better understand water issues, identify areas with highest impact, and develop adequate policies. Calculating a water footprint might increase awareness and influence practices, similar to the impact that carbon footprint has. [See also World Leaders Discuss Environmental Security Policies at Davos in January 2007, Water Scarcity in March 2007, World Water Forum in March 2006, and other previous environmental security reports on the water issue.]
Sources:
World's Water Needs Grow More Urgent http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2008/2008-03-17-01.asp
Experts Seek Answers on Water Footprint http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/27/AR2008032702567.html
Waterfootprint http://www.waterfootprint.org
Water Trade–A Virtual Reality? UNESCO-IHE symposium http://legacy.citg.tudelft.nl/wmg/dispuut/symposium/index.html

Kyrgyzstan’s Deforestation Threatens Central Asia’s Security
The Kyrgyz government’s Agency for Environmental Protection and Forestry and environmentalists have issued warnings about the country’s rate of deforestation and its consequences. It is estimated that over the past 50 years, half of the forest cover was lost, and illegal logging continues at a rate about at par with the legal one, maintained by corruption and the population’s low living standard. Kyrgyzstan forests are crucial for the whole Central Asian ecosystem, their disappearance causing water scarcity, health problems, and more frequent natural disasters such as floods, landslides and droughts. Experts demand better enforcement of international environmental regulations to which the country is party. [See also UN General Assembly Adopts Global Forest Agreement in December 2007 and Environment and Security Program in the East-Caspian Region in September 2007, Network of Environment Centres in Central Asia in February 2004, and Prospective International Agreements for Mountain Regions in October 2002 environmental security reports.]
Source:
Kyrgyz Greens Warn of Deforestation Risks http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2008/2008-03-11-02.asp

Climate Change
Food and Water Security
An EU report, Climate Change and International Security, warns that water scarcity and food insecurity caused by rising prices and diminishing harvests, particularly in the Middle East, are likely to cause “serious security risks” for Europe and internationally.
African Environment Day, organized by the African Union (AU) Commission to raise awareness of the impact land degradation and desertification have on Africa’s development, was observed under the theme “Adapting to Climate Change for Livelihood Security in Africa.”
Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
At the southwestern edge of the Wilkins Ice Shelf of western Antarctica, a chunk of ice with an area of about 400 sq km broke up into icebergs. This might trigger the disintegration of a larger part of the Wilkins Ice Shelf, which totals about 14,500 sq km, and is now connected by only a 6 km strip of ice.
According to data of UNEP’s World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), the average rate at which the world’s glaciers are melting and thinning has more than doubled between the years 2004-2005 and 2005-2006. Analyzing data from around 100 glaciers, with continual annual data series for 30 reference glaciers since 1980, WGMS found that average ‘water equivalent’ loss has risen from 0.3 meter per year between 1980 and 1999, to about 0.5 meter per year after the year 2000, and estimates of 1.4 meters in 2006. Out of the 30 reference glaciers only one (Echaurren Norte in Chile) thickened in 2006 compared to 2005, while all the others shrank, with European glaciers being among the most affected. Glaciers represent the only fresh water source for millions of people around the globe.
Rising Sea Levels
Bangladesh, chair of the Least Developed Countries, insists that developed countries increase LDC’s access to investment, resources and technologies needed to adapt to climate change effects. Of more than $1 billion pledged at the 2002 Johannesburg Earth summit for improving preparedness of vulnerable countries, less than $180 million have been delivered, and no contributions were yet made to the investment fund set at Bali. Being the most at risk, LDCs demand to take an active part in the global climate talks. At Bangladesh’s request, Britain offered financial support for LDCs participation in negotiations and will host a conference in May addressing Bangladesh’s vulnerability. A one-meter sea level rise would flood about one-third of Bangladesh, affecting about 25–30 million people.
Recent data from the U.S. Geological Survey warns of the danger that rising sea levels over the next 50 years represent to the U.S. coastal population. Among the most threatened are the islands of California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin delta, the islands in Chesapeake Bay, parts of the Louisiana coast, and the New York subway system. However, the 5,000 residents of the California’s delta islands are likely to become the first environmental refugees in the United States. The threat is the result of the interplay of two factors both effects of climate change: rising sea levels, and increased rainfalls over snow in the Sierra Mountains as a result of warming temperatures, thus raising the risk of floods.
Adaptation
“The UN estimates that all but one of its emergency appeals for humanitarian aid in 2007 were climate related,” notes the Climate Change and International Security report.
The Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund Board held its inaugural meeting in Bonn, Germany, on March 28, 2008. The Fund will finance concrete adaptation projects and programs in developing countries. The fund now estimated at about $58.4 million is expected to increase to $80-300 million over 2008-2012. The finance source is a 2% levy of the Clean Development Mechanism, so it is “not reliant on donor funding or overseas development assistance. This is the climate regime beginning to become self-financing,” noted Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The Caribbean states agreed to set up a joint tsunami early warning center by 2010. The center will relay information from national geological institutes across the region. Barbados, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela were named as possible hosts of the center, which would have a $250,000 annual budget funded by national governments, France, the U.S., and UNESCO.
Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The first meeting since the December Bali conference for negotiating a post-Kyoto climate change treaty is being held in Bangkok, March 31-April 4. It aims to move forward the Bali Roadmap. Key issues on the agenda include limiting greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation, mitigation, deployment of climate-friendly technologies, and financing. [Note: the meeting was ongoing at the time of this writing and the outcomes will be included in next month’s report.] It is hoped that negotiations will be concluded next year at a major Copenhagen summit.
China’s CO2 emissions grew much more than previous estimates, revealed a new analysis by economists at the University of California. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated annual CO2 increase in the region that includes China at 2.5%–5% for 2004–2010, while the new University of California analysis estimates a growth rate of at least 11% for the same time period. This finding reinforces beliefs that any climate change treaty should include mandatory emission targets for big emitter developing countries.
Humanity lost an important decade of actions to curb global warming, because of protracted negotiations, noted Robert Watson, now chief scientific adviser at the U.K. environment ministry, and former chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He emphasized the swift need for a new treaty that would set more ambitious long-term goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit temperature rise to 2oC by the end of the century. Mr. Watson considers that the targets for developed countries should be 80% rather than the projected 60%, while for developing countries the allowed rise should be 60% rather than a projected 140%. He underlined that such goals imply the implementation of a mixture of technologies and increased technology transfer.
Sources:
EU warns of climate change threat http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7287168.stm
Africa: AU Marks Environment Day http://allafrica.com/stories/200803041273.html
Earth from Space: Further break-up of Antarctic ice shelf http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMMX4R03EF_index_0.html
Meltdown in the Mountains. http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=530&ArticleID=5760&l=en
Remote control http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/mar/26/bangladesh
Rising sea levels could swallow California's delta islands http://www.helenair.com/articles/2007/06/04/montana/000arise.txt
Latest round of UN climate talks to start next week http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=26140&Cr=climate&Cr1=
Caribbean plans tsunami warning system by 2010 http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N13326240.htm
Bangkok Climate Change Talks - 31 March to 4 April 2008 http://unfccc.int/meetings/intersessional/awg-lca_1_and_awg-kp_5/items/4288.php
Growth in China's CO2 Emissions Double Previous Estimates http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2008/2008-03-11-01.asp
Climate change action delayed by decade's debate http://business.smh.com.au/climate-change-action-delayed-by-decades-debate/20080312-1yux.html

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
Some noteworthy nanotechnology safety activities from this month are:
• EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) could be applied to the production and commercialization of nanotechnology, providing there are some specific amendments to take care of the special aspects of nanotechnology risk assessment, according to a legal analysis by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) of the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Pew Charitable Trusts.
• Nanotechnologies at the OECD prepared by OECD for Forum VI of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety (IFCS) describes the two activities of OECD related to nanotechnologies: 1) the activities of the Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials (WPMN); and 2) the Working Party on Nanotechnology (WPN).
• The Explosivity And Flammability of Nanopowders report by the European Nanosafe2 project, analyzes nanopowders behavior as to their explosivity and flammability. It concludes that behavior depends on the materials and surfaces to which nanopowders are applied; and hence, “Specific prevention and protection measures should then be taken.”
• A new report from Friends of the Earth calls for action to “stop the sale of all nano food, packaging, and agricultural chemicals” until adequate scientific regulations and labeling are enacted.
Federal Toxics Disclosure Law Could Help Inform Public Of Nanotechnology Risks http://www.nanotechproject.org/news/archive/toxics_law
Forum VI Sixth Session of The Intergovernmental Forum On Chemical Safety http://www.who.int/ifcs/documents/standingcommittee/nano_oecd.doc
What about explosivity and flammability of nanopowders? http://www.nanosafe.org/node/910
Nanotech Exposed in Grocery Store Aisles http://action.foe.org/pressRelease.jsp?press_release_KEY=343

Reports Suggested for Review

Security Implication of Climate Change to the EU
Climate Change and International Security. Paper from the High Representative and the European Commission to the European Council analyses the security implications of climate change in general and with specific implications to the EU, and makes some recommendations for EU policies. It reviews the main categories of threats posed by climate change to security (Conflict over resources; Economic damage and risk to coastal cities and critical infrastructure; Loss of territory and border disputes; Environmentally-induced migration; Situations of fragility and radicalization; Tension over energy supply; and Pressure on international governance) and then addresses vulnerabilities by specific regions (Africa; Middle East; South Asia; Central Asia; Latin America and the Caribbean; and The Arctic). The report concludes that “The impact of climate change on international security is not a problem of the future but already of today and one which will stay with us” and underlines that the European Security Strategy and related proposals “should take account of the security dimension of climate change.” Some specific recommendations include “Focus attention on the security risks related to climate change in the multilateral arena; in particular within the UN Security Council, the G8 as well as the UN specialised bodies (among others by addressing a possible need to strengthen certain rules of international law, including the Law of the Sea),” capacity building from detection to adaptation, addressing migration issues, and adapting cooperation with other countries to the new realities induced by climate change.
Sources:
Climate Change and International Security. Paper from the High Representative and the European Commission to the European Council http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/reports/99387.pdf
EU must boost military capabilities in face of climate change http://euobserver.com/9/25811/?rk=1

Recommendations for Addressing U.S. Environmental Security
Insecure About Climate Change is an essay summarizing a recent special report for the Council on Foreign Relations, Climate Change and National Security: An Agenda for Action. It makes some specific recommendations to “strengthen national security by reducing U.S. vulnerabilities to climate change at home and abroad,” such as: establishing a new “deputy undersecretary of defense position for environmental security [emphasis added]… to redress the insufficient institutionalization of climate and environmental concerns in the Department of Defense; … several senior positions in the National Security Council dedicated to environmental security” and eventually a “special advisor to the president on climate change with some budgetary authority.” The author also makes some financial suggestions to help developing countries prepare for climate change, “including $100 million (over several years) for military-to-military environmental security workshops; …another $100 million per year to support an African Risk Reduction Pool” as “part of a broader international risk reduction effort that… should be on par with the president’s five-year, $15 billion emergency plan for AIDS relief.” The author of the essay and report, Joshua Busby, is assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and fellow with the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law.
Sources:
Insecure About Climate Change http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/21/AR2008032102631.html?hpid=opinionsbox1
Climate Change and National Security. An Agenda for Action http://www.cfr.org/publication/14862

Environment and Human Health Integration
Integrating Environment and Human Health, and Climate, Poverty and Health: Time for Preventive Medicine published by the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) address the interconnection between human health and environmental components. The recommendations include: interdisciplinary approaches for better integration of environmental and health perspectives; improved communication between environmental and health communities, and between scientists and decision makers and the public; and improving priority setting in science. The NCSE activities in this area are continuing.
Sources:
Integrating Environment and Human Health http://www.ncseonline.org/2007conference/NCSE%2007%20Conf%20Report%20FINAL.pdf
Climate, Poverty and Health: Time for Preventive Medicine http://www.ncseonline.org/2007conference/07ChafeeReportFINAL.pdf
Environment and Health conference website http://www.ncseonline.org/2007conference

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February 2008

Environmental Ministers Advance Global Consensus at UNEP Forum
More than 100 environment ministers met in Monaco for the 10th Special Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on February 20-22. The UNEP Medium-term Strategy 2010-2013 was adopted, which upgrades UNEP’s ability to be more effective in addressing climate change, disasters and conflicts, ecosystem management, environmental governance, harmful substances and hazardous waste, and resource efficiency – sustainable consumption and production. The theme of the Special Session was “Globalization and the Environment––Mobilizing Finance for the Climate Challenge”. Issues discussed included long-term predictable carbon prices, building public-private partnerships, regionally balanced distribution of funds, UNEP management to implement the Bali Strategic Plan, and better implementation of multi-lateral environmental agreements (see the Appendix for more information). [The ad hoc joint working group on the Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions will hold its third meeting next month.]
Sources:
New and Forward Looking Strategy for UNEP Authorized http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=528&ArticleID=5752&l=en
10th Special Session of the Governing Council /Global Ministerial Environment Forum http://www.unep.org/gc/gcss-x/
Final Report: Mid-Term Strategy for the Period 2010-2013 http://www.emwis.net/thematicdirs/news/PDF/MTS_Final_Draft


Branson calls for War Room on Climate Change at the United Nations
During the special UN General Assembly session “Addressing Climate Change: The United Nations and the World at Work,” Sir Richard Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group, offered a $25 million prize for technology to clean CO2 from the atmosphere and challenged the world to help him create a war room to manage the attack on climate change. Although it would be independent of the UN, it would include the participation of the UN, corporations, governments, NGOs, and universities in its design, information systems, and management. Key themes of the General Assembly speeches were: 1) partnerships among UN, government, business, NGOs, and universities; 2) global alliances for action; 3) better UN coordination to address Climate Change; 4) rich nations pay for poorer nations’ adaptations to meet climate change challenges (since the poorer countries contribute the least to greenhouse gases, but will suffer the most from global warming; hence, the richer nations should pay for the poorer nations adaptation measures); 5) need for a global long-term strategy; 6) shared but differential responsibilities among nations to address climate change; 7) technology transfer and issues of intellectual property rights; 8) early warning systems for adaptation; and 9) “it is too late to say later.”
Sources:
Press Conference on General Assembly Climate Change Thematic Debate http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2008/080211_Climate_Change.doc.htm
‘War room’ to Battle Warming Proposed http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23129533
Email traffic between Virgin Unite’s CEO and J. Glenn (Millennium Project) who was a special guest of the President of the UN General Assembly during the Climate Change session.

New Standards for Handling Robotic Environmental Equipment
ASTM International has released a new standard, ASTM E2592-07 - “Standard Practice for Evaluating Cache Packaged Weight and Volume of Robots for Urban Search and Rescue”, that lays out specific ways to describe requirements for the storage, shipping and deployment of urban search and rescue robots. These recommendations apply equally well to the handling of robotic devices for environmental assessment and cleanup.
Sources:
'Nitty-Gritty' but Vital Data Helps Field Rescue Robots http://www.physorg.com/news121529153.html
Department of Homeland Security Urban Search and Rescue Robot Performance Standards http://www.isd.mel.nist.gov/US&R_Robot_Standards

Nigerian Government Resolves to Push Effective Environmental Enforcement
On the occasion of a visit from a UK Environment Agency team, the director-general of the Nigerian National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) stated the government’s increased commitment to ensure a cleaner and healthier environment for Nigerians through effective enforcement of environmental laws.
Source:
‘FG to ensure healthy environment’
http://www.thetidenews.com/article.aspx?qrDate=02/13/2008&qrTitle=%E2%80%98FG%20to%20ensure%20healthy%20environment%E2%80%99&qrColumn=ENVIRONMENT

New Environmentally Friendly City in UAE Offers Cooperation Opportunity
A new mini-municipality, Masdar City, being built adjacent to Abu Dhabi, is intended as a hub for academic and corporate research on nonpolluting energy technologies, according to an article in the International Herald Tribune. The walled city of 2.3 square miles will be car-free and produce all its own energy from sunlight.
Source:
Car-free, solar city in Gulf could set a new standard for green design http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/02/05/healthscience/05city.php

Technological Advances with Environmental Security Implications

Future Proliferation of Autonomous Ground and Air Robot Weapons
Although today's robotic weapon systems include humans in decisionmaking, future autonomous systems may be developed by major military powers to act without human intervention. This technology could be relatively easy to build and at relatively low costs, making proliferation possible. One robotics expert has called on national governments and the international community to assess these risks and seek controls before they become more commonly available.
Sources:
Killer Military Robots Pose Latest Threat To Humanity, Robotics Expert Warns http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080226213451.htm
Robot wars 'will be a reality within 10 years' http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/02/27/scirobots127.xml

Water Purification Techniques
Researchers at the University of Nottingham have developed a technique that uses bacteria to consume contaminants that build up on the membranes used in some water purification systems. This allows the filters to be cleaned within the closed system, without removing the membranes. In another advance, researchers at the University of South Australia have developed a low cost, efficient technique for removing organic material from water. It involves the use of silica particles coated with a nanometer-thin layer of active material based on a hydrocarbon with a silicon-containing anchor. The coated particles are stirred in the contaminated water for up to an hour and the powder is then filtered out.
Sources:
Bacteria and nanofilters — the future of clean water technology http://research.nottingham.ac.uk/NewsReviews/newsDisplay.aspx?id=444
Cleaner water through nanotechnology http://www.physorg.com/news122733688.html

Chemical Tests on Cells Rather than Animals
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the NIH Chemical Genomics Center, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have announced collaboration to change how chemicals are tested for risks they pose to humans. The agencies will research and implement a new approach that will move away from traditional animal testing and toward tests that use cells. The approach is explained in the National Research Council’s 2007 report Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy.
Sources:
Agencies to Change How Chemicals are Tested for Safety http://nationalacademies.org/headlines/20080219.html
NIH Collaborates with EPA to Improve the Safety Testing of Chemicals http://www.nih.gov/news/health/feb2008/nhgri-14.htm
Toxicity Testing in the 21st Century: A Vision and a Strategy http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11970

New Technique Might Power Nano-based Environmental Devices
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a microfibre–nanowire hybrid structure for energy scavenging. According to the abstract, “Solar, thermal and mechanical (wind, friction, body movement) energies are common and may be scavenged from the environment”, and the Editor’s Summary describes their work as “a system that converts low-frequency vibration/friction energy into electricity using piezoelectric zinc oxide nanowires grown radially around textile fibres. By entangling two fibres and brushing their associated nanowires together, mechanical energy is converted into electricity via a coupled piezoelectric-semiconductor process. This work shows a potential method for creating fabrics which scavenge energy from light winds and body movement.”
Source:
Microfibre–nanowire hybrid structure for energy scavenging http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v451/n7180/abs/nature06601.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Methyl Bromide a Continuing International Concern
The Green Party in New Zealand is calling for an immediate halt to methyl bromide fumigation at Wellington's port, after it was learned that the ozone-destroying chemical, regulated under the Montreal Protocol, was being used in the heart of the city. This action, together with the coming into force in January of Indonesia’s ban on its import, is likely to increase international attention to the hazards it presents and support for adherence to the Protocol. [See also Call for Expanding Montreal Protocol on Ozone-Depleting Substances in September 2007, and other similar items on this issue in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Hazardous fumigation must be halted – Greens http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0802/S00065.htm
Montreal Protocol: http://www.unido.org/doc/50444

Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants Is Succeeding in Europe
A recent study has evaluated the effectiveness of the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP) in the UN Economic Commission for Europe countries, excluding Canada and the US. The research revealed that many persistent organic pollutants (POPs) decreased considerably and will continue to decrease as the LRTAP POP protocol is becoming fully implemented by all countries. These results are significant for the global Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and for developing a global monitoring plan for POPs. The study also included preliminary assessments for eight “candidate” POPs (Hexachlorobutadiene (HBU); Pentabromodiphenyl ether (PBDE); Pentachlorobenzene (PCBe); Polychlorinated naftalenes (PCN); Pentachlorophenol (PCP); Endosulfan, Dicofol; and short chain chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs)) which could be added to the POP list in the future. [See also Stockholm Convention on POPs Adopts Evaluation but not Non-compliance Mechanisms in May 2007, New Chemicals Proposed to be Added to Stockholm Convention on POPs in May 2005, and other related items in previous environmental security scanning reports.]
Source:
Evaluating emission protocols for persistent organic pollutants http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/95na6.pdf

France Bans 30 Pesticide Components
As of February 2008, France banned the sale of 1,500 pesticides containing any of 30 chemicals deemed hazardous, planning to gradually phase out a total of 53 phytosanitary substances.
Sources:
France scraps licenses for 1,500 pesticides http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/30282
French Pesticide Ban Hits Major Listed Firms http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/46752/story.htm

Concerns over Maritime Air Pollution Increase
A new report by the International Maritime Organization reveals that emissions from shipping are rising rapidly; annual CO2 emission from the world shipping industry reached 1.12 billion tonnes in 2007, representing about 4.5% of global CO2 emission––three times higher than previously thought––and by 2020 is expected to rise by 30%, making shipping responsible for nearly 6% of global emissions. Sulphur dioxide emissions from ships now stand at 16.2m tonnes a year and are expected to increase by 40%, to 22.7m tonnes by 2020. Nevertheless, emissions from shipping are difficult to regulate by international treaties, due to the complexity of attributing them to individual states. The International Maritime Organization is now assessing regulation proposals and the Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases submitted draft amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI and amendments to the Emission of Nitrogen Oxides from Marine Diesel Engines Technical Code. If approved by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (which meets at the end of March) the amendments could enter into force in March 2010 (or on a date to be decided.) The EPA put forward to the IMO a proposal that vessels be required to switch to cleaner fuel or use clean-up technology to reduce toxic grit from emissions when they are closer to shore, and it hopes that it would be adopted as an international regulation by 2011. EPA also plans to issue its own rules in 2009. Designing more efficient ships, reducing speed, and using higher quality fuel might be some of the easiest and fastest measures for reducing emissions.
Sources:
BLG Sub-Committee agrees technical proposals for reduction of air pollution from ships http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1709&doc_id=9015
Ship CO2 emissions at 3.5 pct of global total: IMO http://www.planet2025news.net/ntext.rxml?id=6196&photo=
Pollution from ships big worry http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/feb/23/pollution_from_ships_big_worry31612/
True scale of C02emissions from shipping revealed http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/feb/13/climatechange.pollution
Shipping boom fuels rising tide of global CO2 emissions http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/feb/13/climatechange.pollution1?gusrc=rss&feed=uknews
Emissions concerns rise over ships’ fuel http://www.gloucestertimes.com/punews/local_story_031233139.html?keyword=topstory

Global Map of Human Impacts to Marine Ecosystems
The first-ever comprehensive atlas showing the impact of human activities on the planet’s marine environment is now available online. The international team of scientists combined the impact data of 17 different activities––ranging from fishing and commercial shipping to pollution and climate change––for 20 different marine ecosystems. The database could be used to monitor further future modifications in the global marine environment. The map reveals that while no ecosystem is completely unaffected, human activities had high impact on over 40% of the world’s ocean-covered area. The biggest human impact seems to be in the North Sea, the South and East China Seas, the Caribbean, and North America’s East Coast. Although the Arctic and the Antarctic areas are the least affected today, scientists are concerned that increased melting of the ice sheets will increase human activities into these areas.
A Global Map of Human Impact on Marine Ecosystems, Science, 15 February 2008 http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/319/5865/948 (abstract)
A Global Map of Human Impacts to Marine Ecosystems http://www.nceas.ucsb.edu/GlobalMarine

New Pacific Marine Protected Area Is World’s Largest
Kiribati has established the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, covering 410,500 square kilometers in the central Pacific. A representative of the New England Aquarium, which is advising the Kiribati government, stated, “The new boundary includes extensive seamount and deep-sea habitat, tuna spawning grounds and as yet un-surveyed submerged reef systems.”
Source:
Kiribati creates world's largest marine reserve http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKSP23110320080214?pageNumber=3&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true

Deforestation Not Yet Adequately Addressed by International Regulations
The UN Convention on Biological Diversity held a five-day meeting in Rome, Italy, to discuss how agricultural and forest biodiversity are affected by climate change. A focus was on mangrove: according to scientists, 20% of mangrove forests have been lost, and economic and environmental damages should be addressed. Mangroves’ destruction could cause biodiversity loss in tropical areas, increase CO2 emissions, and destroy people’s livelihoods. There are no strategies yet to deal with the situation, although scientists warn that if not addressed now, in the next ten years the crisis could get out of control. Along the same lines, African forestry protection organizations and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) held a meeting on specific climate change issues, discussing strategies to find the best compromise between humans’ interests, food crops, deforestation, and wildlife. Environmental degradation and loss of livelihood due to deforestation are underlying and/or multiplier causes of conflict, mainly in already fragile states or conflict-torn regions.
Sources:
Forests play key role against climate change, UN tells African-Near East meeting http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25665&Cr=climate&Cr1
UN: Mangrove Forests Vanishing at an "Alarming" Rate http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/feb2008/2008-02-03-01.asp
With Africa leading, UN says world fells trees at 'alarming' rate http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5gggsgsXc-FLgGsLpo3A2ZwqOAdvw

Climate Change
Food Shortages and Increasing Prices could lead to social instability
The number of riots is likely to rise around the world as the number of people at risk of malnutrition grows due to commodity prices’ increase, warn UN officials. The WFP, which feeds 73 million people in 78 countries (representing less than 10% of world’s total undernourished) noted that it will face serious difficulties this year in helping to mitigate malnutrition. Food prices rise rapidly, driven mainly by decrease of supply as harvests are reduced by climate change effects (drought, floods, and extreme weather conditions); increasing food demand from countries such as China and India; increasing demand by the biofuel industry; and soaring oil prices. Additionally, the governments of some important food-exporting countries tend to put restrictions on exports, in order to assure their own food security.
Using computer models, analysts assessed how the 12 most food-vulnerable areas are likely to be affected by climate change in the next 20 years. This included the regions where most of world’s malnourished people live: much of Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Caribbean and Central and South America. The findings reveal that South Asia and southern Africa are the areas where climate change could cause severe crop losses, unless intense adaptation strategies are undertaken. The study also identified the likely effects by crop, therefore providing governments and aid agencies important information for building a comprehensive adaptation approach.
Food’s Failed Estates = Paris’s Hot Cuisine; Food Sovereignty – à la Cartel? by ETC Group analyzes food security prospects and policy failures and needs. It looks at all aspects that might drive food out of the reach of the marginalized, and warns that, without adequate action, the number of hungry people could increase by 50% by 2025.
The west of North America is seriously threatened by possible future lack of access to fresh water, as snowpack across the mountain ranges is shrinking, according to a computer analysis published in the journal Science. Using a complex system of factors’ interplay, the results show that up to 60% of the climate change trends in the area are human-induced.
The World Wide Fund for Nature - South Africa (WWF-SA) is warning the country’s government about a “looming water crisis for South Africa in the same way that it was warned a decade ago about the present energy crisis.” The country already uses 98% of available water resources and it could run out of water by 2025.
Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology revealed that permafrost in Siberia is thawing at an alarming pace. In some areas the depth of the melted permafrost doubled compared to 2000. Thus the lakes and marshes expand, in some areas being about 3.5 times larger in 2007 than in 2000, consequently accelerating the melting process even more. The research also shows that the annual average ground temperatures at the depth of 1.2 meters from the surface rose gradually from minus 2.4oC in the period from 1998–2004 to minus 0.4oC in 2006. An additional negative result of permafrost melting is the release of high quantities of methane, further promoting global warming.
New research by climatologists from Bern University on ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica shows that Earth warmed faster in the 20th century than at any other time in the past 22 millennia, and concentrations of greenhouse gases are increasing at a faster rate.
UK scientists have found instability trends in the ice of part of West Antarctica, which could lead to a significant rise in global sea level. They warn that if the discharge of glacier ice into the sea continues, the Pine Island Glacier alone could raise global sea level by 25 cm and accelerate neighboring glaciers’ discharge, which could raise the sea by 1.5m.
Climate Modeling
At a meeting held in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) urged scientists to improve climate predictions that would help adaptation to climate change. The session focused on improving the science of seasonal climate prediction to help save human lives. The three-day convention was a preamble for the World Climate Conference focusing on climate prediction and its impact for decision-making, scheduled to be held next year.
A study by some of the most respected climate policy researchers revealed that there is no time to postpone cutting CO2 emissions. By quantifying the impact of every year of delay, they found that the more reduction action is delayed, the more difficult mitigation becomes, and at some point, it becomes too late and no mitigation action could help. The maxim limit delay is much closer then expected––a maximum of 10–20 years.
Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The two-day GLOBE forum (Global Legislators Organization for a Balanced Environment) was organized as a preamble to the G8 summit to be held in July. It was attended by about 100 lawmakers from the Group of Eight industrial countries (Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Canada and Japan) and fast-developing nations (China, Brazil, India, South Africa and Mexico). The main subjects were: discussing a draft post-Kyoto Protocol treaty, the need for G8 countries to intensify efforts to meet the Kyoto targets, and strategies to help developing nations improve practices for reducing emissions.
Japan is considering strengthening national regulations (such as introducing compulsory caps on greenhouse gas emissions and a domestic emissions trading scheme for the companies that resist reducing emissions). It is also expected to make tougher commitments in the post-Kyoto Protocol phase.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the UNEP Global Ministerial Environment Forum called for a “decisive and deep regime for emissions reductions after 2012” and for the development of “financial incentives and mechanisms so markets can respond to the opportunities of a rising carbon price” under the guidance of the Bali road map.
Sources:
The World's Growing Food-Price Crisis http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1717572,00.html
Climate 'could devastate crops' http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7220807.stm
Food’s Failed Estates = Paris’s Hot Cuisine; Food Sovereignty – à la Cartel? http://www.etcgroup.org/en/materials/publications.html?pub_id=673
Human-Induced Changes in the Hydrology of the Western United States. Science, Jan 31, 2008 http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1152538
'SA's water could run out by 2025' http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=14&art_id=vn20080214113314841C685433
Asia: Global warming thaws permafrost in Siberia http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200802140059.html
Ice cores show faster global warming http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Science/2008/02/01/ice_cores_show_faster_global_warming/7287/
UN-backed meeting urges governments, scientists to bolster climate predictions http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25528&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
No time to lose in cutting CO2 emissions. New Scientist, 27 February 2008
http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/mg19726454.500-no-time-to-lose-in-cutting-cosub2sub-emissions.html (by subscription only)
Brazil calls on G8 to meet Kyoto Protocol goals http://www.terradaily.com/2007/080221223113.rumu8gc4.html
Japan Considers Emissions Cap And Trade System http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/47080/story.htm
Secretary-General says environment ministers can offer ‘new generation of solutions’ in message to Monte Carlo global forum http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2008/sgsm11434.doc.htm

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
Some recent noteworthy nanotechnology safety activities are:
The European Commission has adopted a Code of Conduct for Responsible Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies Research, and is recommending to the Member States the adoption of the Code to govern research in this field. The Code is based on seven principles such as sustainability (non-threatening to the present or future environment) and accountability, and provides guidelines for their implementation.
European Commission grants $587,000 to London School of Economics researchers to conduct an international research project on regulating nanotechnologies in the European Union and the United States.
Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems by Foresight Nanotech Institute and Battelle, according to the announcement, “… is a first attempt to map out the R&D pathways across multiple disciplines to achieve atomically precise manufacturing.” It provides a detailed technical background for consideration of the environmental problems that might arise during these processes.
Strategy for Nanotechnology-Related Environmental, Health, and Safety Research published February 2008 by the National Science and Technology Council describes the National Nanotechnology Initiative’s (NNI) strategy for addressing priority research on the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) aspects of nanomaterials. The report assigns priorities to research and information needs that were identified in the NSET Subcommittee document Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Needs for Engineered Nanoscale Materials, published on September 21, 2006.
Risks of nanotechnology remain uncertain published in the American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science & Technology Online is a comprehensive overview of the current state of nanotechnology risk assessment, emphasizing the paucity of solid scientific results in that important field and giving useful examples and references.
Sources:
European Commission adopts Code of Conduct for Responsible Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies Research http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/08/193&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
European Commission gives grant to investigate transatlantic oversight of nanotechnology http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=4410.php
Regulating Nanotechnologies in the EU and US. Towards Effectiveness and Convergence http://www.lse.ac.uk/nanoregulation
EU nanotechnology R&D in the field of health and environmental impact of nanoparticles provides summary information on each of 106 projects, 14 of them from the EU’s Framework Programme and the other 92 from the EU Member States, together representing a total of some €79 million in grants.
EU nanotechnology R&D in the field of health and environmental impact of nanoparticles ftp://ftp.cordis.europa.eu/pub/nanotechnology/docs/final-version.pdf
Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems http://foresight.org/roadmaps/
From Here to There: Nanotechnology Roadmap http://www.foresight.org/cms/press_center/282
Strategy for Nanotechnology-Related Environmental, Health, and Safety Research http://www.nano.gov/NNI_EHS_Research_Strategy.pdf
Strategy for nanotechnology-related environmental, health and safety research http://www.physorg.com/news122212014.html
Risks of nanotechnology remain uncertain http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/esthag-w/2008/feb/science/nl_nanorisks.html

Reports Suggested for Review

UNEP’s Year Book 2008
UNEP’s Year Book 2008 highlights the impacts of global warming (from the melting of permafrost and glaciers to extreme weather events), also showing the changes in policies and actions of leaders of governments, companies, and the UN itself in addressing issues related to climate change. It shows that business begins to see climate change as an opportunity rather than a burden, as a growing numbers of companies embrace environmental policies and investments in clean technology and renewable energies are increasing.
Sources:
UNEP Year Book 2008 http://www.unep.org/geo/yearbook/yb2008/
Climate Change Resulting in Shift to ‘Green’ Economies, Says UN Agency http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25681&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
Breaking Down the Barriers to a Green Economy http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=528&ArticleID=5748&l=en

North American Environmental Atlas Online
The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) launched the online North American Environmental Atlas, http://www.cec.org/naatlas, which allows visualizing significant North American environmental issues at a continental scale. It features the terrestrial ecological regions of North America and interactive thematic maps such as priority conservation areas, renewable energy capacity, and population, as well as links to data and related sources. The Atlas is in continuous development with new features and information to be added in the coming months, and suggestions for making the Atlas the most useful possible are welcome.
Source:
Mapping North American Environmental Issues http://www.cec.org/naatlas/

New Report on Dangers of Radiation Sources
According to announcements, the US National Research Council has released a report, Radiation Source Use And Replacement, that “examines the use of high-risk radioactive materials [e.g. cesium chloride] found in medical and research equipment that could be accidentally dispersed or utilized to make a dirty bomb in a terrorist attack.” It also “identifies lower-risk alternatives that would not change the performance of the devices, and recommends options to remove and replace the high-risk sources.” The National Research Council recommends that U.S. research and medical facilities reduce their use of devices containing cesium chloride and urged U.S. officials to “stop licensing the cesium chlorine irradiators, halt their import and export and promote decommissioning of existing machines.” [See also Millennium Project’s January 2003 report on this issue: Commercial radioactive components recognized as “dirty bomb” hazard.]
Sources:
Radiation Source Use and Replacement. National research Council (Prepublication copy) http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11976&page=R1
Radioactive Cesium Chloride Should Be Replaced in Medical Equipment http://nationalacademies.org/morenews/20080220a.html
U.S. urged to curb use of "dirty bomb" ingredient http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSN2036258220080220
Government Should Spur Replacement Of Radioactive Cesium Chloride In Medical And Research Equipment; Alternatives Could Lower Potential For Theft And Misuse
http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=11976

State of Green Business 2008
The State of Green Business report provides an example of a set of evaluations of environmental accomplishments. It takes stock of green business activities in the United States, and features the debut of the GreenBiz Index, a set of 20 indicators of green business progress that measures how efficiently companies are using resources, reducing toxics, purchasing green fleet vehicles and renewable power, and reporting social and environmental performance. It also features ten key green business trends of 2007 as well as lists of books, websites, reports, business initiatives, and other resources of the past year.
Source:
Just published — State of Green Business 2008 http://stateofgreenbusiness.com

Back to top


January 2008

World Leaders Discuss Environmental Security Policies at Davos
Business and political leaders exchanged ideas for addressing climate change, water shortages, conflict, terrorism, UN Millennium Development Goals, globalization, and new technologies at the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, January 23-27, 2008. Japan’s Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda advocated new climate-change initiatives, including national CO2 reductions for major emitters, increasing global energy efficiency 30% by 2020, and a new multilateral fund to mitigate climate change and to support developing countries to cope with global warming. He also announced that Japan––holding this year’s G8 presidency––will place climate change at top of the July G8 summit agenda. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon asked business and political leaders to make water issues and scarce supplies top priorities, citing environmental factors increasing and/or maintaining conflicts. Business leaders pledged millions of dollars for helping development and agriculture in poor countries by also improving the environment and water use and access. It was suggested that a certain amount of clean water for drinking should be seen as a human right, but water used for economic reasons should be priced to assure its efficient use.
Sources:
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2008 http://www.weforum.org/en/events/annualmeeting2008/index.htm
Ban warns business on looming water crisis http://www.ft.com/cms/s/8ca7e9c6-cadb-11dc-a960-000077b07658.html
Time is Running Out for Water (video) http://gaia.world-television.com/wef/worldeconomicforum_annualmeeting2008/default.aspx?sn=22493&lang=en
Fukuda unveils new climate strategy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080127a1.html
Fukuda faces post-Kyoto balancing act http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080128a4.html

Iran and Iraq Sign Environment Protection Agreement
Iranian and Iraqi chief environment officials signed an agreement for increasing the two countries’ cooperation in areas related to the environment. The eight-article document covers issues of natural resources, industrial and oil-exploitation pollution control, wildlife protection, and promoting ecotourism, as well as addressing environmental damage caused by wars.
Source:
Iran, Iraq ink agreement on environment protection http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-01/27/content_7506876.htm

Israel to Participate in UNEP and UN HABITAT
The Western European and Others Group regional bloc within the UN elected Israel to represent the regional group in consultations with the UN Environmental Programme and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN–HABITAT). This could create unique opportunities to address environmental security issues in the Palestinian territories, which are among the most severe in the world.
Source:
Israel gets seats on United Nations agency panels http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1198517288600&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

Environmental-Security-Related Internet Resources
WHO Launched Website on Environmental Health in Emergencies
The ‘Environmental health in emergencies’ website launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) provides information and resources for health management related to environmental disasters and emergency situations. Topics include: natural events, technological incidents, complex emergencies, prevention, preparedness and detection, and response and recovery. The subordinate web pages have links to websites and sources specific for different domains. WHO estimates that, in some countries, more than one third of the disease burden could be prevented through environmental improvements. [See also World Health Organization: Stress Environmental Impact on Human Health in June 2007 environmental security report.]
Source:
Environmental health in emergencies http://www.who.int/environmental_health_emergencies/en/

Google to Support Development of Early Warning System in Vulnerable Regions
Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google Inc., unveiling its charity plan over the next five to ten years, announced $25 million in grants aimed at addressing global challenges. One of the five core initiatives, ‘Predict and Prevent’ aims to empower communities to predict and prevent ecological, health or social crises before they become local, regional, or global crises, by identifying ‘hot spots’ and enabling rapid response. InSTEDD (Innovative Support to Emergencies, Diseases and Disasters) is allocated $5 million to improve early detection, preparedness, and response capabilities for global health threats and humanitarian crises. Other recipients in this category include the Global Health and Security Initiative (GHSI) and Clark University.
Sources:
Google.org Announces Core Initiatives to Combat Climate Change, Poverty and Emerging Threats http://www.google.com/intl/en/press/pressrel/20080117_googleorg.html
Google.org expands funding to attack world crises http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSN17226771
$25 Million Begins Google's Charity http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/17/AR2008011703049.html

New Construction on Mediterranean Coastlines to be Banned
The recent meeting of the Barcelona Convention [for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean] added a new protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management to strengthen regional co-operation for harmonious and sustainable use of the Mediterranean coastal zone, including banning any construction within 100 meters (about 328 feet) to the water all along the Mediterranean shore. The participants also issued the Almería Declaration that requires all member states to catalog threatened marine species by 2011 and establish a network of protected coastal areas by 2012. To ensure that the convention’s provisions are enforced, the first compliance system was established, and the parties agreed to create an enforcement committee. [See also OSCE-NATO Workshop on Environmental Security in the Mediterranean and European Parliament Passed the Marine Strategy Directive in December 2007 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Barcelona Convention and Mediterranean Action Plan: First-ever Legally-binding International Instrument on Coastal Zone Management Adopted http://www.unepmap.org/index.php?module=news&action=detail&id=30
Barcelona Convention: Compliance System Established to Support Legal Framework and Actions http://www.unepmap.org/index.php?module=news&action=detail&id=28
Mediterranean nations pledge restraints on coastal development http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0122/p04s02-woeu.html

Environmental Courts Established in the Philippines
The Philippine Supreme Court has designated 117 trial courts as ‘environmental courts’ to hear cases involving violations of laws protecting the country’s natural resources and to speed up their resolution.
Source:
SC designates 117 environment courts http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20080114-112156/SC_designates_117_environment_courts

Technological Breakthroughs with Environmental Security Implications

New Detection and Cleanup Technologies
New Approach May Ease Uranium Decontamination
A new technique may lead to methods for removing dissolved uranium (e.g., from depleted uranium munitions) from liquids, such as groundwater. The method uses large organic molecules called macrocycles that essentially envelop a uranyl ion ((UO2)2+), leaving one of its oxygen atoms exposed, showing that the normally strong bond between the uranium and oxygen has been weakened. The scientists, Polly Arnold and Jason Love of the University of Edinburgh, believe “that the uranyl ion's bonds can be loosened is a first step towards finding substances that can transform dissolved uranyl into an insoluble compound.” The macrocycle is destroyed by water, so further work will be necessary to produce a practical decontamination technique.
Miniature Chemical Agent Sensor
Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry devices for detection of various dangerous gases are being further reduced in size, while their sensitivity and rapidity of reaction is increasing. The prototype of a new tiny device produced results in about four seconds from minimal gas amounts and operates on limited amounts of power. The sensor, developed by researchers from MIT, Cambridge University, University of Texas at Dallas, Clean Earth Technology and Raytheon, is expected to be completed in the next two years.
Model Helps Evaluate Performance of Biosensors
A new modeling technique allows the study of miniature biosensors used to identify pathogens, DNA or other substances. The technique, developed by scientists of the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University, comprises a new conceptual framework and corresponding computational model to relate the shape of a sensor to its performance and explain why certain designs perform better than others.
Sources:
‘Pac-Man’ molecule chews up uranium contamination http://environment.newscientist.com/article/mg19726396.200?DCMP=NLC-nletterbanner&nsref=mg19726396.200
MIT gas sensor is tiny, quick. Energy-efficient device could quickly detect hazardous chemicals http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2008/micro-analyzer-0110.html
Model Is First to Compare Performance of 'Biosensors' http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080102134121.htm

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
New Capacitor Promises 10× Improvement over Batteries in Charge/Weight Ratio
Lockheed Martin has signed an agreement with EEStor of Cedar Park, Texas for the military applications of a new type of ultracapacitor based on barium titanate that Lockheed Martin believes will be able to hold 10 times the energy in 1/10th the weight of typical batteries.
Bacteria-Generated Electricity from Waste to Power Fuel Cell
Microbial fuel cell technology, being developed by scientists from Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute, is based on the use of bacteria to convert a variety of liquid organic waste (such as sewage or pig manure) into electricity.
New Sunshine Distribution System Provides Energy-free Lighting
The Solatube system collects sunlight from a rooftop unit and distributes it to interior spaces through specially designed optical tubes, eliminating the need for external power for illumination when daylight is sufficient.
Converting CO2 into Fuels using Sunshine
The Sunlight to Petrol (S2P) project developed by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico is using sunlight to convert CO2 into fuels like methanol or gasoline. Although the innovation seems to be working, large-scale implementation could take 15-20 years to reach industrial scale.
New Project for Nanowire Solar Cells
The Department of Engineering Physics at McMaster University in Hamilton ON, Cleanfield Energy, and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) have formed a partnership for a three-year project to pursue the commercialization of nanowire technology in the production of more affordable solar cells.
Sources:
Lockheed Martin Signs Agreement with EEStor http://www.gm-volt.com/2008/01/10/lockheed-martin-signs-agreement-with-eestor
Bacteria used to power fuel cell http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Science/2008/01/04/bacteria_used_to_power_fuel_cell/8011/
New insights into fuel cell that uses bacteria to generate electricity from waste http://www.biodesign.asu.edu/news/new-insights-into-fuel-cell-that-uses-bacteria-to-generate-electricity-from-waste
Solatube International, Inc.: http://www.solatube.com/commercial/faqs.php
Solatubes: Power-free lighting solution http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/28447
Sandia’s Sunshine to Petrol project seeks fuel from thin air http://www.sandia.gov/news/resources/releases/2007/sunshine.html
Nanowires hold promise for more affordable solar cells http://www.physorg.com/news120474984.html

Vanishing Supply of World's Helium Calls for Conservation
The world's largest reserve of helium may be depleted in as short a time as eight years, experts say; they also point out that the gas is non-renewable and irreplaceable. It has a number of applications in science and technology, and in industry, e.g., nuclear magnetic resonance, mass spectroscopy, welding, fiber optics and computer microchip production. Helium is found in some natural gas reservoirs, and Russia may be a future supplier. Its separation from the atmosphere is prohibitively expensive.
Source:
Helium Supplies Endangered, Threatening Science and Technology http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/28495

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

European Commission’s New Low-carbon 20/20/20 by 2020 Energy Plan
The European Commission has proposed a package of measures to reach its “20/20/20 by 2020” targets — produce 20% of its energy from renewable sources and increase energy efficiency by 20%, cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% of 1990 levels (or 30% in case of a global accord), and considerably reduce reliance on energy imports. The detailed roadmap includes specific renewable energy and CO2 emission targets for each EU member state; new rules for carbon sequestration; and an updated Emissions Trading System for fair greenhouse gas emissions cuts for different emitters, with the aim of gradually including all industries in the emissions auction scheme. The Commission's proposals have to be endorsed by the European Council and Parliament, with the final package expected to come into force by the end of 2009. The European Commission hopes that the plan will trigger strong momentum towards a global agreement. Meantime, the European Commission is also considering introducing a climate tax on imports from states failing to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, and toughening EU's emission trading system. [See also EU Energy and Climate Change Policy in March 2007 environmental security report.]
Sources:
José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission 20 20 by 2020: Europe's Climate Change Opportunity Speech to the European Parliament, Brussels, 23 January 2008 http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/08/34&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en (Free registration required.)
Stavros DIMAS, Member of the European Commission, responsible for environment Climate action, Energy for a changing world, Press conference, Wednesday, 23 January 2008 http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/08/37&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en (Free registration required.)
EU unveils comprehensive climate and energy package http://euobserver.com/9/25513/?rk=1
Brussels considering climate tax on imports http://euobserver.com/9/25400/?rk=1

Waste Export Regulations Revised and Tightened
The ‘Green’ list of the Waste Shipment Regulation, which controls the movement of non-hazardous recyclable waste within, into, or out of the EU, has been updated to better protect the non-OECD countries against receiving from wealthier nations materials they do not want or cannot process in an environmentally sound way. The Revised Green List Regulation 1418/2007 came into effect on 18 December 2007 with a transition period of 60 days for certain wastes and countries. The complementary changes to the UK Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations will come into effect on 5 February. [See also EU Waste Shipment Legislation Came into Force in July 2007 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Trade and environment. Shipment of non-hazardous waste to certain non-OECD countries: Green list waste http://ec.europa.eu/trade/issues/global/environment/waste.htm
Regulation (EC) No 1418/2007 http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/html/136966.htm
Waste exports: better protection for developing countries http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2008/080111a.htm
Improved protection on waste exports for developing countries http://www.morethanwaste.com/Site/Default.aspx/7B662DEFBE639810F0F4

Restrictions on Plastic Bags Expanding
More than 40 jurisdictions around the world have imposed or are considering restrictions or taxes on plastic bags. China is outlawing plastic bags from all public transportation, prohibits their free distribution at shopping points, bans the production and use of ultra-thin (less than 0.025 mm) non-biodegradable plastic bags, and will establish new criteria for the production of plastic bags. Firms not complying will face penalties. The new regulation will come into effect on June 1, 2008. Similar regulations were introduced in Bangladesh, Uganda, and South Africa. The Australian Federal Environment Minister announced intentions to phase out plastic bags by the end of the year and, according to UNEP, the problem is also on the agenda of almost every African country. [See also Plastic Bags Taxed and/or Banned in October 2005 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Plastic bag ban http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2008-01/10/content_6383869.htm
China boosts global war against menace of the plastic bag http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jan/12/plasticbags.recycling
China bans plastic shopping bags http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2008/01/08/china-bags.html
Retailers oppose bag ban http://www.stuff.co.nz/4354751a13.html
China bans free plastic bags http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/01/09/china.plastic.bags/index.html

Sonar Restrictions Debate Continues
Earlier in January, a U.S. District Court judge in Los Angeles ordered clear rules for the U.S. Navy's training with mid-frequency sonar off the coast of Southern California. The restrictions include: a minimum 12-nautical-mile no-sonar zone along the California coastline; shutdown of sonar when marine mammals are spotted within 2,200 yards; mandatory monitoring for marine mammals one hour prior to sonar exercises; and aerial surveillance prior to and during the exercise. However, later in the month, President Bush overruled the Court’s decision and signed an exemption for the Navy to use sonar in its training, then a federal judge temporarily lifted certain measures, and the Navy has resumed sonar training off the coast of Southern California. [See also U.S. to Study Sonar Impact on Marine Mammals in May 2007, and other previous environmental security reports on the same issue.]
Sources:
Ruling curbs Navy sonar off Calif. Coast http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Top_News/2008/01/04/ruling_curbs_navy_sonar_off_calif_coast/3754/
Judge orders Navy to stay 12 miles off coast when using sonar http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20080103-1643-bn03sonar.html
Bush exempts Navy from no-sonar rule http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2008-01-16-navysonar_N.htm?csp=34
State files another challenge to Navy's sonar training off coast http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/military/20080122-2122-bn22sonar.html
Navy resumes sonar training off SD coast as legal battle goes on http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/01/27/state/n162935S45.DTL

Whale Conservation Protected Efforts Increasing
The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service has released its recovery plan for Puget Sound's endangered killer whales. The plan covers about 2500 square miles, including the waters around the San Juan Islands, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and all of Puget Sound. One of its aspects includes assessing and improving vessel traffic guidelines in and around protected areas.
Japan continues its whaling in waters off a section of Antarctica that Australia declared a whale sanctuary and over which it claims sovereignty. In January, an Australian Federal Court declared that whaling in the sanctuary was illegal and should stop. Australia’s new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, also calls for an end to whaling and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark warned that photos of the Japanese whaling fleet revealing their location would be published if they entered New Zealand’s Antarctic waters.
A Pew Whale Symposium, entitled “A change in climate for whales,” was held at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, January 30-31, 2008, as a prelude to an intersessional meeting on strengthening the International Whaling Commission, to be held March 6-8, 2008, in London. [See also Shipping Regulations for Protecting Whales in September 2007, New Marine Protected Areas Proposed in March 2007, Commercial Whaling Ban Strengthened by International Whaling Commission (IWC) in June 2007, and other items on similar issues in previous monthly reports.]
Sources:
Puget Sound Orca Recovery Plan Released http://www.physorg.com/news120453628.html
Salty shepherds. The Economist, Jan 24th 2008 http://www.economist.com/world/asia/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10566770
New Zealand PM Warns Off Japanese Whalers http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/46633/story.htm
A Change in Climate for Whales. Second Pew-Sponsored Whale Symposium http://www.pewwhales.org/tokyosymposium/
Intersessional Meeting on the future of the IWC, London, 2008 http://www.iwcoffice.org/meetings/intersession.htm

Intensified Disasters
The number of people affected by natural disasters in 2007 reached 200 million, considerably higher than the135 million in 2006, according to the annual study by the Belgian research center Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) of the Catholic University of Louvain. Except for the August earthquake in Peru, the ten deadliest disasters were all climatic, with flooding affecting the most people and being the deadliest. Asia was the region most touched by climatic disasters, but overall, the U.S. experienced the highest number of natural disasters (22), ahead of China (20) and India (18).
Heavy rains for several weeks caused heavy flooding in Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, displacing thousands of villagers and devastating the largely agriculture-based economies of the region. The UN noted that the Mozambique floods could be the worst in memory.
Australian meteorologists suggest that the country’s weather patterns are changing and that stronger storms, droughts, and higher temperatures might become the norm. Statistics show that 2007 was the warmest year on record for New South Wales and the Murray-Darling Basin, and the 11th year in a row experiencing above normal temperatures and the 7th with below-average rain, with the southeast of Australia facing the worst drought in living memory.
Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Modifications of atmospheric energy transport, heat moving toward the North Pole, and changes in the vertical temperature structure might represent the accelerating factor of the Arctic warming, reveals the article Vertical structure of recent Arctic warming by a group of scientists from the Department of Meteorology, Stockholm University, Sweden, published in Nature. In recent decades, the near-surface Arctic temperature rise was almost double the global average, and the study found that during the summer, the Arctic upper atmosphere was warming up twice faster each decade, thus accelerating thawing of sea ice and snow. Increasing GHG emissions seems to be an influencing factor of the atmospheric heat transport.
Antarctica is losing almost as much ice as Greenland, according to data gathered by an international satellite network measuring the thickness of the glaciers. Analyzing 10 years data (1996-2006), the international team led by Eric Rignot of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA, found that ice loss in Antarctica increased by 75% in the last 10 years. Mapping patterns of ice loss on a glacier-by-glacier basis, they remark that West Antarctica lost about 49 billion metric tons more ice in 2006 than the approximately 83 billion metric tons in 1996, and that total loss of ice from Antarctica in 2006 was enough to raise global sea level by 0.5 mm.
In September 2007 the Arctic ice cap had shrunk to 4.13 million square kilometers (1.6 million square miles), down from 5.3 million square kilometers in 2005, a loss about twice the size of France, notes Jean-Claude Gascard, coordinator of the European scientific mission Damocles, which is monitoring the effects of climate change across the Arctic. 2008 might be a critical year and could result in the loss of another million square kilometers, he added.
The IPCC is inviting scientists to submit material on both Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, given the huge effect their potential simultaneous melting might have on sea level raise. The aim is to gather information and evidence on the impact of global warming at the poles, and to assess potential consequences to be addressed in an eventual IPCC fifth report.
Rising Sea Levels
A forecast model shows that coastal erosion might increase 2-5 times over the next 50 years due to rising sea levels and more powerful storms. One of the most affected areas seems to be Russia’s East Arctic coast, which might lose 5 to 15 meters per year in 2040-2045. Russia is already recording high retreat along its 50,000-km northern coastline because of permafrost melt and Arctic Ocean rising levels, waves and tides and subsequent thermal abrasion. About 33% of Russia's eastern Arctic coast also suffers from thermal abrasion. In some places, the coast’s annual retreat reaches 15 meters.
Along China’s 18,000-km (11,185 miles) coastline, sea levels have risen by an average of 9 centimeters (3.54 inches) over the past 30 years, and coastal waters are getting slightly warmer, reports the country’s State Oceanic Administration. The most affected is the northern part, where, over the same period, sea level rise reached 19.6 centimeters (7.72 inches) at Tianjin port city, and 11.5 centimeters (4.53 inches) at Shanghai, causing increasingly huge problems in highly populated areas. Meanwhile, the China 2007 Sea Environmental Quality Report reveals increased pollution of coastal waters as a result of human activity.
The situation of the small islands of Tuvalu becomes increasingly critical. While the highest point of the islands is barely over 4 meters, a typical high tide reaches about 2 1/2 meters and a King Tide can be over 3 meters high; the forecast is that they will get higher due to global warming. The seawater is also surging up through the coral that forms the islands, salinizing the soil and groundwater.
The level of the Mediterranean is rising rapidly and could produce “catastrophic consequences”, warns the study Climate Change in the Spanish Mediterranean by the Spanish Oceanographic Institute. Since 1990, the study estimates that the Mediterranean has risen between 2.5 and 10 millimeters (0.1 and 0.4 inches) per year, meaning that if present trends continue, the water levels will rise between 12.5 centimeters (5 inches) and 0.5 meter (20 inches) in around 50 years. Mediterranean water temperatures also rose by 0.12 to 0.50 degrees Celsius since the 1970s.
Adaptation
Scientists are increasing efforts to assess the ‘hot spots’ that will be most affected by climate change in order to orient policy making and businesses to help those areas to adapt and cope with new challenges. Investors are already funding projects ranging from new agriculture practices and flood defense systems to renewable energy sources. In Australia, where drought might become the rule and fresh water is already scarce, nearly every major coastal city has a desalination plant, with some, like Perth, with almost all fresh water coming from the ocean, and Melbourne and Sydney soon to desalinate 20%. The energy required by desalination will be mostly green.
Over half of the Republic of Maldives' 200 inhabited islands are eroding at an alarming rate, in some cases forcing relocation of entire island communities. Adaptation actions began already, by raising a massive seawall made of concrete tetrapods that surrounds the entire capital of Malé, and even constructing new artificial, taller islands, such as Hulhumalé.
Sources:
Natural disasters taking greater global toll, UN report http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080118/sc_afp/worlddisastersenvironment
Zambia Declares Flood Disaster, Rains Lash Region http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/46537/story.htm
Mozambique Floods Could be Worst in Memory – UN http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/46470/story.htm
Zimbabwe's Heavy Rains a Disaster for Farming http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2008/2008-01-20-03.asp
This drought may never break http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/this-drought-may-never-break/2008/01/03/1198949986473.html
Australian climate changing, experts say http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Australian_climate_changing_experts_say_999.html
Australia floods strand thousands http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7174377.stm
Vertical structure of recent Arctic warming. Nature 451, 53-56 (3 January 2008) http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v451/n7174/full/nature06502.html (abstract)
Arctic Warming Faster Above Ground Level, Study Finds http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/01/080102-arctic-warming.html
West Antarctica Ice Decreases http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/86/i03/8603notw1.html
Antarctic glaciers melting more quickly http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/01/26/MN50UM20C.DTL
Antarctic Ice Loss Speeds Up, Nearly Matches Greenland Loss http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Antarctic_Ice_Loss_Speeds_Up_Nearly_Matches_Greenland_Loss_999.html
Arctic ice-cap loss twice the size of France: research http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Arctic_ice-cap_loss_twice_the_size_of_France_research_999.html
UN Climate Chief to Visit Antarctica http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iQmBUlYskvnKT0CLHBucXxY5_wKAD8U1UQ200
Global warming continues to erode Arctic coast. RIA Novosti, January 25, 2008 http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20080125/97753436.html
Rising Seas Threaten China's Sinking Coastal Cities http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/01/080117-AP-china-risin.html
Tuvalu struggles to hold back tide http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7203313.stm
Spanish study warns of rising Mediterranean sea levels http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Spanish_study_warns_of_rising_Mediterranean_sea_levels_999.html
Warning on rising Med Sea levels http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7197379.stm
Under dry sky, Aussies turn to the sea http://marketplace.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/01/27/planb_mmr1_desalination
Maldives Builds Barriers to Global Warming http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=18425626
Nanotechnology Safety Issues
Conference on Nanotechnology Law, Regulation and Policy
The First Annual Conference on Nanotechnology Law, Regulation and Policy will be held February 28-29 in Washington, DC. The conference will include discussions of whether the FDA will implement its Nanotechnology Task Force Report, how OSHA will address nanotechnology-related issues in the workplace, and how the European and Asian approaches to nanotechnology regulation differ from that of the U.S. The conference is co-sponsored by the Food and Drug Law Institute, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, in partnership with Arizona State University and the Burdock Group.
UK Launches New Nanotechnology Environmental Service
The UK Institute of Occupational Medicine’s SAFENANO Information Service and Community Portal has set up SAFENANO Scientific Services to provide multidisciplinary risk management solutions to companies operating in the nanotechnology industry. The services, planned to assist with safety issues ranging from employees’ working conditions to end products, include training, laboratory tasks, and toxicology information update.
Sources:
1st Annual Conference on Nanotechnology Law, Regulation and Policy http://www.fdli.org/conf/431/
SAFENANO - The UK's premier site for information on Nanotechnology health and safety http://www.safenano.org
SAFENANO officially launches SAFENANO Scientific Services http://www.safenano.org/SingleNews.aspx?NewsID=297


Reports Suggested for Review
An Uncertain Future: Law Enforcement, National Security and Climate Change
An Uncertain Future: Law Enforcement, National Security and Climate Change is a comprehensive analysis of the security implications of climate change, including some recommendations. It warns that “traditional attempts to maintain the status quo and control insecurity” is doomed to failure and calls for increased research to identify areas of highest vulnerability and instability, consider climate change in foreign aid programs, and change strategies from reactive to proactive in order to prevent and manage security issues triggered by climate change. Unrest could affect developing as well as developed countries, ranging from protests against polluting companies and government inaction to new forms of ecoterrorism (although the author considers the term misleading). Recommendations include changes in “Policing new legislation” and “important operational and strategic concerns that military planners will need to consider over the coming decades”.
Sources:
An Uncertain Future: Law Enforcement, National Security and Climate Change http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/briefing_papers/uncertainfuture.php
http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/publications/briefing_papers/pdf/uncertainfuture.pdf (report)
New security threats caused by climate change http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2008/01/23/eaclimate123.xml
Armed Forces Face Strain of Climate Change – Report http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/46590/story.htm

IAEA Nuclear Terror Prevention Guide
The International Atomic Energy Agency published a new manual, Combating Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material, to help harmonize the activities of the organizations involved in the process of detecting and/or responding to nuclear terror-related incidents. The 156-page manual is a cooperative effort of Interpol and the World Customs Organization.
Source:
IAEA Publishes Advisory Guide to Address Nuclear Terror Threat
http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/News/2008/guideterrorthreat.html

Back to Top


December 2007

Bali Roadmap Sets Framework for Post-Kyoto Negotiations
About 10,800 participants, including high-level delegations from 187 countries, attended the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, December 3-15, 2007. The most significant result was the "Bali Action Plan", also called the Bali roadmap. It outlines a two-year agenda of negotiations for a post-2012 global climate regime to enter into force by 2013, but does not include emissions reduction targets, despite strong support by the EU and other countries. The roadmap calls for agreements by the end of 2009 at a major summit in Copenhagen. The agreement is to include both national and international mitigation and adaptation actions to address the effects of climate change, including methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, development and transfer of climate-friendly technologies, and financing and investment measures. Four major UNFCCC meetings to implement the Bali roadmap are planned for 2008.
Other results of the Bali Convention included the launch of the Kyoto Protocol’s Adaptation Fund to finance projects in developing countries; a Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, an addition of deforestation to a post-2012 treaty agenda; and other capacity-building, financial, administrative, and methodological issues. A consortium of mayors and local governments launched the World Mayors and Local Governments Climate Protection Agreement, with six commitments addressing climate change, including the reduction of carbon emissions by 60% to 80% worldwide by mid-century (cities account for 80% of humanity’s production of greenhouse gases).
Sources:
United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_13/items/4049.php
Bali Action Plan http://unfccc.int/files/meetings/cop_13/application/pdf/cp_bali_action.pdf
Summary of The Thirteenth Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Third Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol
http://www.iisd.ca/vol12/enb12354e.html#REDUCING%20EMISSIONS%20FROM%20DEFORESTATION%20IN%20DEVELOPING%20COUNTRIES
Secretary-General Ban welcomes climate change breakthrough in Bali http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25081&Cr=Climate&Cr1=
Countries Agree to Write New Climate Action Pact http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2007/2007-12-15-01.asp
World Mayors and Local Governments Climate Protection Agreement http://www.iclei.org/index.php?id=7337
US Prevails on Climate Draft, Ban Says http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-sci-bali13dec13,1,3565669.story?coll=la-news-a_section&ctrack=1&cset=true
Gore Exhorts UN Climate Conference to Act Now http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2007/2007-12-13-01.asp
World Bank Will Pay to Leave Forests Standing http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2007/2007-12-11-01.asp
So hard to see the wood for the trees http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10329203
UN Climate Change Conference represents crossroads, Secretary-General says http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25018&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
EU and US at Loggerheads over Climate Change http://euobserver.com/9/25338/?rk=1
Nobel laureates propose global CO2 tax http://euobserver.com/9/25312/?rk=1
Some like it cool. The Economist, Dec 19th 2007 http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10335267

UN General Assembly Adopts Global Forest Agreement
The “Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests” adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 17, 2007 sets the political framework and standards for sustainable forest management and monitoring to stabilize climate change and protect biodiversity and ecosystems. The agreement suggests mechanisms for systematic monitoring and reporting at the national level, as well as means for international collaboration, ranging from funding developing countries for reducing deforestation, to technology transfer and capacity building for forest management. Although not binding, the forests agreement is an important political instrument to improve nations’ forest management. [See also United Nations Agreement to Protect the World’s Forests Adopted in May 2007 environmental security report]
Sources:
Non-legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests http://www.un.org/esa/forests/pdf/session_documents/unff7/UNFF7_NLBI_draft.pdf
General Assembly adopts new agreement to protect world’s forests http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25099&Cr=forest&Cr1=
Intersessional Activities, Ad-Hoc Expert Groups. To Consider the Content of the Non-legally Binding Instrument http://www.un.org/esa/forests/adhoc-nlbi.html
New Global Forest Agreement Depends on Local Support http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2007/2007-12-27-01.asp

New European Environmental Regulations
European Commission Proposed Binding Legislation for Vehicle Emissions Cuts
The European Commission proposed binding legislation to cap CO2 emissions from some new passenger cars to 120g/km by 2012. In this way, European carmakers will have to reduce the fleet average CO2 emissions of new vehicles to 130g/km by 2012 through cleaner engines, while the remaining 10g/km would be reduced by improved fuel-efficiency, increased biofuels use, and better traffic management (presently cars count for 12% of the EU’s total CO2 emissions at an average of around 160g/km). The regulation will be enforced by penalties starting in 2012 at €20 per extra gram of CO2, increasing gradually to €95 in 2015. The legislation has to be approved by member states. [See also EU Commission to Propose Binding Cuts on Car Emissions in February 2007 and New European Energy Policy Developments in March 2006 environmental security reports.]
Similarly, the Euro VI proposal for heavy motor vehicles establishes a reduction of 80% in nitrogen oxides and 66% in particulate matter emissions compared to the current Euro V limits. After approval by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, the new regulation is expected to enter into force in 2013.
Sources:
Commission proposal to limit the CO2 emissions from cars to help fight climate change, reduce fuel costs and increase European competitiveness http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1965&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
EU unveils controversial plans to make cars greener http://euobserver.com/9/25367/?rk=1
The European car industry. Collision course http://www.economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10329196
Brussels spars with Berlin over car emissions http://euobserver.com/9/25381/?rk=1
Cleaner Trucks and Buses to Roll across Europe http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/dec2007/2007-12-27-02.asp

European Parliament Passed the Fine Particles Air Quality Directive
The European Parliament approved the text of a new directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe. The new legislation replaces and updates five existing laws and for the first time sets binding standards and target dates for fine particles PM2.5 (particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometers or smaller in size). EU States will have to reduce exposure levels in their urban areas to PM2.5 by an average of 20% by 2020 compared to 2010 levels, and bring them below 20 micrograms/m3 by 2015, while keeping the 25 micrograms/m3 levels throughout their countries. Member States will have two years to adopt the necessary national laws after the directive’s entry into force. [See also EU New Directive on Air Pollution in October 2006 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Environment: Commission welcomes EP vote on the air quality directive http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1895&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
EU Air Quality Directive: MEPs set maximum concentration of microparticles http://www.env-health.org/a/2762
Progress on the legislative file of the directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe http://ec.europa.eu/prelex/detail_dossier_real.cfm?CL=en&DosId=193497

European Parliament Passed the Marine Strategy Directive
The European Parliament approved the text of the Marine Strategy Directive that calls for the establishment of marine regions and sub-regions to be managed by Member States on a coherent and coordinated ecosystem-based approach and for ensuring that the marine strategies affecting the regions are coherent and coordinated. Member States are to assess the status of their region’s marine environment, set objectives, and establish targets and programs by 2015 to attain good environmental status by 2020 and establishment of marine protected areas. [See also Political Agreement Reached on the European Marine Strategy Directive in December 2006 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
A Marine Strategy to save Europe's seas and oceans http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/marine/index_en.htm
Environment: Commission welcomes EP vote on the Marine Strategy Directive http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1894&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Technological Breakthroughs with Environmental Security Implications
New Detection and Cleanup Technologies
New Technique Promises Ultra-sensitive Biosensors
Scientists at MIT, led by Ned Thomas and Patrick Doyle, have developed a technique for producing millions of bar-coded 3D latticework microparticles in which DNA or other biotags can be attached. According to an announcement, “With conventional solid microarrays and particles, biotags only adorn the probe's surface. In contrast, biotags can attach inside the latticework particles, increasing the number of target molecules that bind to a particle, and therefore producing a more intense fluorescent signal”. The developers believe this technique may increase the biosensing device’s sensitivity by a factor of 10,000. Commercialization of this diagnostic tool is expected within two years.
Source:
Mass-Producing 3-D Particles http://www.technologyreview.com/Nanotech/19786/page1/

EU Launches Mobile Carbon Tracking
The mobGAS program is a personal mobile phone application that enables users to learn the amount of greenhouse gases produced by their daily activities. The software is available in 21 languages and is free to download to a mobile phone. Users can input daily activities and calculate the daily, weekly, and yearly emissions via a secure website. The system compares the user’s emissions with national and world averages. The system was developed by the Joint Research Center of the European Commission to help raise public awareness and motivation to reduce GHG emissions.
Source:
European Commission scientists launch first mobile application that uses your mobile phone to track your carbon footprint
http://www.europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1822&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
Energy-free Glow Material
MPK Co. of Clayton, WI has developed a tritium-based material, “Litrosphere”, which produces a low-level glow for more than 12 years without energy input. Trace tritium beta decay in phosphor microsperes provides the energy source. Safety is claimed. It can cover a standard sheet of paper for about 35 cents, comes in a variety of colors, and can take the form of either paint or injection-molded plastic. Its luminous output cannot compete with conventional lighting sources, but it is highly suitable for marking objects that need to be spotted in the dark, saving energy and lowering maintenance requirements.
Source:
A company called MPK is designing a light source that will glow continuously for more than 12 years without any additional energy http://www.physorg.com/news116776284.html

Dye-sensitized Solar Cells Offer Shorter Energy Payback Time
It is estimated that conventional photovoltaic solar cells must be in service for around three years before they have produced as much energy as that required to manufacture them. However, the “Gräetzel” or “dye-sensitized” solar cell has now gone into large-scale production. This type of device uses a combination of titanium dioxide and an organic dye molecule, often containing ruthenium, which are immersed together in a liquid electrolyte. A Netherlands independent photovoltaic-research firm has estimated that such dye-sensitized cells installed in southern Europe would have as short an energy payback time as six months. G24 Innovations, in Cardiff, Wales, has announced that it expects to be able to make enough dye-sensitized photovoltaic cells each year to provide 30 megawatts of peak generation capacity. Other companies are also pursuing this development.
Source:
Solar Energy's Red Queen http://www.americanscientist.org/template/AssetDetail/assetid/56471

Nanotech Lithium-Ion Battery Material Promises 10× Capacity Increase
Stanford University Assistant Professor Yi Cui has developed an electrode material for lithium-ion batteries (used in laptops, iPods, video cameras, and cell phones) that increases their energy storage capacity ten times above current batteries. This could help make future electric cars more attractive. The material uses silicon nanowires to hold the charge-bearing lithium ions. Silicon structures can hold more lithium than the conventional carbon, but tend to disintegrate because of size changes during recharge cycles; the nanowires do not exhibit this characteristic.
Source:
Stanford's nanowire battery holds 10 times the charge of existing ones http://news-service.stanford.edu/news/2008/january9/nanowire-010908.html

New “Nanohybrid” Plastic Is Stronger and More Biodegradable
A new biodegradable ‘nanohybrid’ plastic that can be engineered to decompose much faster than existing plastics was developed by researchers of Cornell University. The plastic is a modified form of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB), a promising biodegradable plastic produced from bacteria. The use of PHB has been limited because of its brittleness and unpredictable biodegradation rates. The new material, which is also stronger than the original, contains nanoparticles of clay; its biodegradation rate depends on the amount of clay added. In one case it had almost completely decomposed after seven weeks, while the unmodified version was barely affected. However, bioplastics definition and recycling procedures are yet to be agreed upon and the need for international standards and regulations is increasing as the research and applications expand.
Source:
'Nanohybrid' Plastic May Expand Use Of Biodegradable Plastic http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071203120115.htm
'Bioplastic' may become third option to paper or plastic http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1219/p15s01-sten.html

Possible Risk with Bisphenol A Receiving Increased Attention
Opinions continue to be divided on the environmental danger posed by bisphenol A, a chemical widely used to harden plastics. The NIH National Toxicology Program issued a controversial preliminary report citing minimal risk to adults, but another panel, led by Prof. Fred vom Saal of the Univ. of Missouri, expressed “a very high level of concern”, according to one of its members. An EPA spokeswoman has conceded that its 14-year-old safe level for the chemical is out of date, and says the agency is now studying it. Various studies around the world have not yet produced a clear indictment of the compound as a serious environmental hazard.
Source:
Peril in plastic? http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/ideas/bal-id.bpa23dec23,0,894641.story


Bottled Water Becomes Target of Environmentalists
Organizations around the world are becoming active in opposing the now rapidly increasing use of bottled water, and regulations and restrictions are beginning to be applied to its distribution. Shipping bottled water across the Atlantic and Pacific by oil-propelled ships does seem odd. One estimate puts the annual fossil fuel footprint of bottled water consumption in the United States at over 50 million barrels of oil equivalent––enough to run 3 million cars for one year. Beginning January 1, 2008 the city government of San Francisco has banned its departments and agencies from purchasing bottled water, and St. Louis is considering the same ban for its city employees in early 2008. With increased discourse around bottled water, it is likely that some international directives will be adopted to regulate its trade and distribution.
Sources:
Bottled Water Boycotts. Earth Policy Institute. Plan B Update, December 7, 2007 http://www.earthpolicy.org/Updates/2007/Update68.htm
Chicago plans bottled water tax http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071228/NEWS07/712280392/1009


Updates on Previously Identified Issues

OSCE-NATO Workshop on Environmental Security in the Mediterranean
The "Water Scarcity, Land Degradation and Desertification in the Mediterranean region–– Environment and Security Aspects" workshop held in Valencia, December 10-11, was organized jointly by the NATO Public Diplomacy Division and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office of the Coordinator for Economic and Environmental Activities. Policymakers, scientists and experts assessed implications that water scarcity, land degradation, and desertification might have on population movements and security in the Mediterranean region. Since water management also offers opportunities for cooperation and conflict prevention, specific roles for the OSCE, NATO and other organizations were explored with OSCE Mediterranean Partners for Co-operation and the NATO Mediterranean Dialogue, which include Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. [See also OSCE Adopts Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Security in November 2007 and other previous environmental security reports on similar issues.]
Sources:
Mediterranean countries discuss environmental security at OSCE, NATO workshop http://www.osce.org/item/28784.html
"Water Scarcity, Land Degradation and Desertification in the Mediterranean region - Environment and Security Aspects," Background Paper http://www.csic.es/documentos/actividades/cide111207.pdf

Progress for Enforcing Biological Weapons Convention
This year’s meeting of states parties to the Biological Weapons Convention focused on strengthening the treaty’s implementation at the national level and advancing regional cooperation. The Implementation Support Unit established last year presented its report on helping member states implement the convention. Also discussed were efforts to increase the pact’s membership beyond the present 159 nations. The Nonaligned Nations Movement presented several recommendations to strengthen the BWC, such as a verification regime to ensure compliance, and seven issues to be considered at BWC meetings through 2010, including stricter export and import controls mechanisms, and monitoring of viruses that could be spread intentionally or accidentally. The next Meeting of States Parties is scheduled for December 1-2008 to consider measures to improve biosafety and biosecurity, scientific codes of conduct, and approaches for increasing awareness. The next review conference of the BWC is scheduled for 2011. [See also Sixth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention in December 2006 and other related environmental security reports.]
Sources:
From Adjacency To Synergy: Meeting of States Parties to Biological Weapons Convention Concludes http://www.unog.ch/80256EDD006B9C2E/(httpNewsByYear_en)/5275A9CC8C5EE6A7C12573B1005C0D28?OpenDocument
2007 Meeting of States Parties: 10-14 December 2007 http://www.opbw.org/new_process/msp2007/msp2007.htm
NAM Concerned At Biological Weapons Convention http://www.namnewsnetwork.org/read.php?id=35499

Climate Change
Intensified Disasters
Summarizing the notable climate events of 2007, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) remarks on devastating floods; drought and falling freshwater reserves; intense storms in various places around the world; and record-low Arctic sea ice extent that opened the Canadian Northwest Passage for the first time. It reports that the decade of 1998-2007 is the warmest on record, with the global mean surface temperature for 2007 estimated at 0.41°C (0.74°F) above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14°C (57.20°F). Extreme temperatures included unusually cold winters in South America, heat waves affecting Europe, and making 2007 probably the hottest year on record in the Northern Hemisphere. Some scientists believe that weird weather patterns might become the norm and that the world is more than 50% likely to experience serious climate change as it is unlikely to keep greenhouse gases levels low enough to avoid the critical 2oC (3.6ºF) temperature rise.
Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Scientists attending the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco revealed that ice sheets melt faster then expected. The Arctic ice is shrinking and thinning at a much faster pace then expected and latest modeling studies indicate that the northern polar waters could be ice-free in summers within just 5-6 years. Similarly, the Greenland ice sheet melted at a record rate this year, the largest ever since satellite measurements began in 1979.
Scientists observed that over the past few years the speed at which some of Greenland’s glaciers flow towards the sea has doubled. They think that one factor might be the holes created in the ice due to warming, through which the water of melting surface ice is penetrating below the ice and thus speeding the flow of ice toward the open ocean. While Greenland's melt water presently increases global sea level by about a quarter of an inch per decade, an accelerated melt would seriously endanger world’s shorelines.
Rising Sea Levels
WMO reports that global averaged sea-level in 2007 is estimated about 20 cm higher than the 1870 estimate. Satellite measurements show that, since 1993, global averaged sea-level has been rising at about 3 mm per year, considerably more than the 20th century average of about 1.7 mm per year.
At the Bali Climate Change Conference, small island states reiterated the catastrophic impacts that global warming and rising sea levels could have for their nations and called for swift action to reduce man-made causes and increase adaptation measures.
According to U.S. government reports, more than 180 Alaskan villages are in danger because of shoreline erosion and permafrost melting due to global warming. Some are in immediate need of moving, although there are no clear relocation plans, nor adequate funding.
The Climate Change: A New Threat to Middle East Security report by Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) highlights that consequences of climate change––mainly rising sea levels and freshwater shortage could exacerbate security risks in the Middle East. Unless adequate adaptation actions, the large-scale consequences include threat to “national, regional, and global security” warns Nader Khatib, Palestinian Director of FoEME.
Food Security
UN Food and Agriculture Organization warns that world food supply is diminishing rapidly and food prices reached historic highs, increasing the “very serious risk that fewer people will be able to get food,” particularly in the developing world. FAO records show that world grain stock–– corresponding to the world’s total consumption––declined to 12 weeks for wheat and only 8 weeks for corn . Population growth, the effects of global warming and increase of biofuels industry are among the main factors. Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program expressed concerns that we are “facing the perfect storm for the world’s hungry.”
New computer projections also warn of possible future crop production reduction due to climate change. NOAA models show the effects that climate changes could have on the tropical belt and the possible consequences to ecosystems and human settlements. New projections by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology indicate that unless there are serious emission cuts, ozone pollution might increase 50% by 2100, which could result in a decrease of global economic value of crop production by 10% to 12%. Nevertheless, the present situation shows that changes are happening faster then computer-based climate simulations have forecast.
Three studies coauthored by researchers from prestigious organizations in North America, Europe and Australia, published by the National Academy of Sciences, warn that the future food situation might be worse then presently estimated, since many parameters that would influence crops were not efficiently factored in. “Many people assume that we will never have a problem with food production on a global scale. But there is a strong potential for negative surprises,” said Francesco Tubiello, a physicist and agricultural expert at NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies, who coauthored all three studies.
Adaptation
“It is now recognized that mitigation alone is unlikely to fully address, in a reasonable time, the challenges that human-induced climate change is likely to bring and that, therefore, much greater attention needs to be given to adaptation to climate change,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud, addressing the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia.
Small island states called for help with adaptation programs. Grenada mentioned that the two devastating hurricanes over the last seven years caused damage that amounted to 200% of the country’s GDP. Maldives is spending considerable sums on adaptation efforts, which include building 14 ‘safe islands.’
The Bali roadmap includes, as key issues for the upcoming negotiations, taking action to adapt to the negative consequences of climate change––such as droughts and floods; developing ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; finding ways to deploy climate-friendly technology; and financing adaptation and mitigation measures.
At the "Emergency Preparedness and Response Workshop" organized by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Johannesburg, eight South African and Indian Ocean nations––the Comoros, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa––decided to enhance regional cooperation for emergency response in case of natural disasters. The draft Declaration of Intent stipulates cooperation for improved information sharing, establishing regional rapid response teams, and developing measures for free movement of emergency personnel and relief materials in the region.
The first international symposium on public weather services, organized by the WMO has brought together about 120 experts to prepare a road map for improving communities’ protection from natural disasters and adaptation to climate change. The discussions covered issues from weather information gathering and dissemination by national meteorological and hydrological services, to use of weather forecasts and reaction in case of emergencies. The symposium was held in Geneva, 3- 5 December 2007.
The UN International Telecommunications Union three-day global forum on "Effective Use of Telecommunications/ICT for Disaster Management: Saving Lives" held in Geneva, launched the ITU Framework for Cooperation in Emergencies (IFCE), which outlines actions helping government and relief agencies to improve disaster preparedness, early warning, and response by using telecommunications resources.
The Convention on Biological Diversity, launched a new adaptation website http://adaptation.cbd.int to help governments and agencies to include biodiversity considerations in their adaptation planning.
Sources:
United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_13/items/4049.php
UN climate change conference in Bali (Telegraph Earth) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml;jsessionid=1XADKK0EA00LDQFIQMGCFFWAVCBQUIV0?xml=/earth/exclusions/bali/nosplit/bali-climate-change-conference.xml
The global climate in 2007 http://www.wmo.ch/pages/publications/meteoworld/_en/climate.html
1998-2007 Is Warmest Decade on Record http://www.wmo.ch/pages/mediacentre/press_releases/pr_805_en.html
Year weather records fell http://www.thestar.com/sciencetech/Environment/article/288763
Climate change goal ‘unreachable’ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7135836.stm
Another Warm Year As Bali Conference Ends http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Another_Warm_Year_As_Bali_Conference_Ends_999.html
Greenland ice sheet melting at record rate http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSN1017865420071210
New evidence that the ice in Arctic is melting faster than ever was presented at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting in San Francisco http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/12/13/MNC9TT0TQ.DTL&type=science
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7139797.stm
Greenland's Mysterious Holes Speed Ice Flow to Sea http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17463283&ps=bb1
The global climate in 2007 http://www.wmo.ch/pages/publications/meteoworld/_en/climate.html
Tiny Newtok, Alaska, against the tide http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-na-newtok27dec27,1,4983375.story?ctrack=1&cset=true
Climate Change: A New Threat to Middle East Security http://newsecuritybeat.blogspot.com/2007/12/climate-change-threatens-middle-east.html
Middle East: Rising Sea Levels Could Lead To Political Tensions – Report http://yubanet.com/artman/publish/article_73048.shtml
A worrisome forecast for the world’s crops http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1213/p17s01-sten.html
World food stocks dwindling rapidly, UN warns http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/12/17/europe/food.php?page=1
Toll of Climate Change on World Food Supply Could Be Worse Than Thought http://www.earth.columbia.edu/articles/view/2001
Southern African nations band together to scale up disaster preparedness – UN http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=25110&Cr=disaster&Cr1=
African nations to coordinate fight against natural disasters: UN http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071218/wl_africa_afp/africasadcdisasterun
WMO Hosts First International Symposium on Public Weather Services http://www.wmo.ch/pages/mediacentre/Info%20notes/info_40_en.html
International Symposium on PWS: A Key to Service Delivery (Geneva, 3- 5 December 2007) http://www.wmo.ch/pages/prog/amp/pwsp/PWS_Symposium_en.htm
ITU Global Forum adopts actions to strengthen response in emergencies http://www.itu.int/newsroom/press_releases/2007/38.html
Integrating Biodiversity into Climate Change Adaptation Planning http://adaptation.cbd.int

New ISO Standard on Sustainable Building
ISO 21930:2007––Sustainability in Building Construction -- Environmental Declaration of Building Products complements ISO 14025 for the environmental product declarations (EPD) of building products, containing specifications, principles, and requirements, to encourage sustainable building. It sets the framework for environmental declarations of building products and takes into consideration the entire life cycle of a building.
Sources:
ISO Creates Standard for Sustainable Building http://www.greenerbuildings.com/news_detail.cfm?NewsID=36364
ISO 21930:2007––Sustainability in building construction -- Environmental declaration of building products http://www.iso.org/iso/catalogue_detail?csnumber=40435

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
The first nanotechnology genotoxicity (toxicity at the molecular level) tests found that carbon nanotubes could damage DNA. Researchers at the University of Dayton have assessed the DNA damage response to multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) in mouse embryonic stem cells. The methodology used is highly versatile for testing genotoxicity and hence can be expanded for genotoxicity tests of other nanomaterials.
The “Nanotechnology & the Media: The Inside Story” meeting held at the Woodrow Wilson Center discussed the results of a study analyzing media coverage of nanotechnology risks in the U.S. and UK. The study reveals a large increase in the number of articles, with the focus being mainly on health, environmental and security aspects. Coverage is higher for regulatory and reports related issues than for scientific matters. Concerns about nanotech risk are increasing at non-profits and governments, and governments are responding most strongly to risk concerns. In general, there was a strong feeling that there is not enough media coverage on the nanotech risk issues.
Sources:
First nanotechnology genotoxicity tests find that carbon nanotubes could damage DNA http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=3632.php
DNA Damage Induced by Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes in Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/abstract.cgi/nalefd/2007/7/i12/abs/nl071303v.html
Nanotechnology & the Media: The Inside Story. Tuesday December 18, 2007 http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=events.event&event_id=343009#

Reports Suggested for Review

Security Risk due to Climate Change
World in Transition –Climate Change as a Security Risk, a report by the German Advisory Council on Global Change based on the work of international experts and organizations including the UN Environmental Program (UNEP), assesses the possible security implications of climate change and warns that inaction might lead to destabilization and raise the threats to international security to a new level. It suggests four 'climate-induced conflict constellations': 1) freshwater scarcity, 2) decline in food production, 3) increased natural disasters, and 4) environmentally-induced migration. The geographic areas at greater risk include: northern and southern Africa and the Sahel zone; central Asia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, China; Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico (especially Central America); and Andean and Amazonian regions of Latin America. The report makes extensive recommendations, including: shaping global political change, reforming the UN, developing pro-active climate protection and adaptation policies, and “financing international conflict prevention.” It also underlines the need to develop strategies for avoiding destabilization and conflict in the event that climate protection fails.
A Christian Science Monitor article, Six places in the world where climate change could cause political turmoil gives another view of areas vulnerable to consequences of global warming: 1) Nepal (lack of freshwater due to melting glaciers causes migration and increased power of Maoists); 2) Indonesia (deforestation); 3) Lagos, Nigeria (sea-level rise in an overpopulated and unstable region); 4) U.S. (overstretched America's armed forces due to disaster relief and war-fighting); 5) Arctic (race for natural resources and navigation change sovereignty questions as Arctic ice melts); 6) East Africa (desertification and decreased food production induced migration).
The Climate Change: A New Threat to Middle East Security report by the Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME) highlights that consequences of climate change––mainly rising sea levels and freshwater shortage — could exacerbate security risks in the Middle East.
Sources:
World in Transition –Climate Change as a Security Risk (Report PDF) http://www.wbgu.de/wbgu_jg2007_engl.html
Climate Change and Conflict - New Report Weighs the Risks and Pin Points Likely Hotspots http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=523&ArticleID=5720&l=en
Six places in the world where climate change could cause political turmoil http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/1206/p14s01-sten.html
Climate Change: A New Threat to Middle East Security http://newsecuritybeat.blogspot.com/2007/12/climate-change-threatens-middle-east.html
Egypt, Jordan and Palestine threatened by global warming http://www.albawaba.com/en/countries/Palestine/220130
Climate Change Threatens Middle East, Warns Report http://newsecuritybeat.blogspot.com/2007/12/climate-change-threatens-middle-east.html
Middle East: Rising Sea Levels Could Lead To Political Tensions – Report http://yubanet.com/artman/publish/article_73048.shtml

Modern Warfare Increasingly Harmful to the Environment
War and the environment, an article published by Worldwatch Institute, shows that modern warfare tactics have an increasingly devastating impact on the ecosystems. By thoroughly analyzing the ecological effect of the American war in Vietnam, the Rwandan and Congolese civil wars, and the current war in Iraq, the article illustrates the long-term damage caused by modern “ecocide.” [See also Addressing Post-Conflict Environmental Security Issues in August 2006, and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
War and the environment; by Sarah DeWeerdt, World Watch, Vol.21, no.1, Jan/Feb 2008, Worldwatch Institute (by subscription only)
Modern Warfare Causes Unprecedented Environmental Damage http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5544

China's Energy Conditions and Policies––White Paper
China’s Information Office of the State Council issued the country’s first-ever, white paper on its energy conditions and policies. The paper indicates a shift towards a more environment-centered energy policy, prioritizing sustainable development based on S&T, and strengthened international cooperation in the field of energy. It emphasizes, “China did not, does not and will not pose any threat to the world’s energy security.” [See also China May Restructure Environmental Effort in October 2007, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
China report says coal to remain top energy source http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jRdR9Nd-GnyWN1FainAfHONr-imA
China's Energy Conditions and Policies http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2007-12/26/content_6349803.htm
China’s energy policy puts more emphasis on environment http://www.cctv.com/program/bizchina/20071227/102997.shtml
China's energy policy puts more emphasis on environment (video) http://www.cctv.com/video/bizchina/2007/12/bizchina_300_20071227_8.shtml

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November 2007

UN Establishes the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management
The International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management (IPSRM) is a new international think tank established by UNEP to provide expert global assessments on the use, security, and environmental impact of global resources. Just as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) founded in 1988 has evolved with the participation of 2,500 scientists from 60 countries to produce the state of knowledge of global climate change, so too could IPSRM do one day for the global knowledge of resource management. It will begin by providing a systemic and holistic framework for understanding resources from all phases of the resources’ life cycles to help identify interlinkages, gaps, and opportunities for policy makers to take action. The Panel is supported by a Secretariat, hosted by the Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch of UNEP's Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, based in Paris. National participation in the panel has been expressed so far from Canada, China, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, South Africa, and Tanzania. NGOs such as the World Business Council on Sustainable Development and the International Council for Science (ICSU) have also asked to participate.
Sources:
New Panel must boost resource-efficient growth and innovation, UN Environment Programme says http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=521&ArticleID=5700&l=en
International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management (Resource Panel) http://www.unep.fr/pc/sustain/initiatives/resourcepanel/

International Norms Led by IAEA Are Needed to Stop Smuggling of Nuclear Materials and Nuclear Proliferation
During a Security for a New Century briefing at the U.S. Capitol, November 27, 2007, David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and International Security said that A.Q. Khan’s nuclear smuggling network may be just the tip of an iceberg, and national systems of enforcement are dangerously inadequate. He recommended that the International Atomic Energy Agency lead the creation of new international norms for everything from export controls for nuclear-related materials to a determination of what is classified information about nuclear energy. He also said that corporations should not do business with any trading company unless they can show that the end user could not contribute to nuclear proliferation. Financial loss due to discovery that their materials ended up in illegal nuclear programs will be higher than the financial loss from not selling the products.
In a related development, Edit Herczog, Member of the European Parliament, declared at NATO’s November 23, 2007 Advanced Research Workshop held in Budapest on “Energy and Environmental Challenges to Security” that the EURATOM treaty may need a new focus on such security issues as non-proliferation and radiation protection. The EURATOM treaty has never been amended since its establishment 50 years ago. [See also Nuclear Safety in September 2007, Increasing Nuclear Safety and Security in March 2006 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
A.Q. Khan’s Nuclear Wal-Mart: Out of Business or Under New Management? http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/110/36424.pdf
Highlights of the ISIS Web Site http://www.isis-online.org/#highlights
Roadmap to Responsible Export Controls: Learning from the Past http://www.exportcontrols.org
NATO Advanced Research Workshop ‘Energy and Environmental Challenges to Security’ http://www.rec.org/natoworkshop/index.html
The Union’s Energy Policy: A European security challenge. Edit Herczog, member of the European Parliament http://www.rec.org/natoworkshop/downloads/session3/herzcog.ppt (power point presentation)

UNEP and South Korea to Help North Korea’s Environmental Management
UNEP and the Republic of Korea agreed to set up a Trust Fund for projects addressing key environmental issues in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This first collaboration of the two countries on environmental matters aims to address urgent problems in the DPRK related to forest, water quality, air pollution, land degradation and biodiversity, as well as support eco-housing initiatives, conservation management, environmental education, clean development mechanisms and renewable energy technology, and environmental monitoring.
Source:
South Korea contributes more than US$4 million to First Environmental Project between Two Koreas http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=521&ArticleID=5710&l=en

Climate Change Issues May Have Determined Australian Election
Environmental policy seems to have been one of the determining factors in Australia’s election and the success of the Labor Party, which has environmental issues such as climate change and signing the Kyoto Protocol as top priorities. It is therefore expected that Australia will adopt more environmentally protective policies. Given its status as a major regional power, Australia’s attitude could affect international and regional environmental deliberations.
Sources:
His own boss. Economist.com, Nov 26th 2007 http://www.economist.com/daily/news/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10200246&fsrc=nwl
Australia ousts Bush ally, elects Labor Party http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-11-24-australia_N.htm

UK to Establish an Independent Climate Committee
The parliament of the UK plans to establish an independent climate committee that would report to the parliament on an annual basis, said MP Elliot Morley, member of the UK Parliament and the Government’s Special Representative on the Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainability, addressing NATO’s Advanced research Workshop on “Energy and Environmental Challenges to Security.”
During his first speech as the UK’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown stressed the importance of addressing climate change in a global framework and said, “As we move to a post 2012 global climate change agreement, we need a strengthened UN role for environmental protection.”
Scientists and policymakers attending the UK Environment Agency annual conference called for increased efforts to address climate change effects. The Agency’s chief executive, Lady Young, said that climate change needs to be addressed like “World War Three”, noting that current adaptation measures are “too little, too slowly.” UK Environment Secretary Hilary Benn warned that climate change “is not just an environmental challenge. It’s also a security challenge, a migration challenge, a political challenge and an economic challenge as well.”
Sources:
Climate change is like 'World War Three' http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2007/11/05/eaclimate105.xml
NATO Advanced Research Workshop ‘Energy and Environmental Challenges to Security’ http://www.rec.org/natoworkshop/index.html
Gordon Brown, Lord Mayor's Banquet Speech, 12 November 2007 http://www.number-10.gov.uk/output/Page13736.asp

Reducing Military Footprint with Solar Energy at 30 Cents per Watt
Current solar photovoltaic technology costs about $3.00 per watt. Nanosolar Inc. has announced that it will lower costs to $0.30 per watt, commercially available next month. The new production process makes the solar cell sheets 100 times thinner and 100 times faster with solar-absorbing nano-ink that can transfer sunlight into electrical power. [See also Nano-based Solar Cell Material Offers Inexpensive Alternative in July 2007 and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Nanosolar: Power to the people http://www.enn.com/energy/article/24430
Nanosolar Inc. http://www.nanosolar.com/
Nanosolar’s Breakthrough - Solar Now Cheaper than Coal http://www.celsias.com/2007/11/23/nanosolars-breakthrough-technology-solar-now-cheaper-than-coal

Updates on Previously Identified Issues
OSCE Adopts Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Security
On November 30, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) agreed on a Ministerial Declaration on Environment and Security. However, the OSCE failed to reach consensus on a detailed environmental security strategy. Nevertheless, Ambassador Bernard Snoy, Coordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, is confident that the level of OSCE’s commitment in the field of environmental security will increase, especially since countries east of Vienna stress their specific needs regarding these issues. [See also OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Agrees to Advance Work on Environmental Security Strategy in July 2007 and OSCE to Develop an Environmental Security Strategy in May 2007 environmental security reports.]
Source:
15th OSCE Ministerial Council, Madrid, 29 and 30 November 2007 http://www.osce.org/conferences/mc_2007.html
Madrid Declaration on Environment and Security http://www.osce.org/documents/mcs/2007/11/28632_en.pdf

Negotiations Continue for an International Instrument to Ban Cluster Munitions
Cluster munitions were the focus of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) meeting held in Geneva this month that resulted in a weak mandate with no legally binding document or language referring to cluster bomb prohibition or timeline. The EU’s proposal to negotiate a treaty in 2008 banning cluster munitions was rejected. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underlined in his message to the delegates the necessity of a legally binding international instrument that would prohibit the use, development, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions; while promoting the destruction of current stockpiles, battlefield clearance and risk mitigation activities. This is consistent with the aim of the Oslo Process to negotiate a ban on cluster munitions. On November 5, the Global Day of Action to Ban Cluster Bombs, public actions took place in 40 countries, calling on governments to take actions for banning cluster munitions. Supporters hope that momentum was created to advance the negotiations next month, when more than 100 countries will gather in Vienna to discuss a draft treaty. [See also Progress Made on Banning Cluster Bombs in March 2007 and other items on this theme in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Press Release: No hope for cluster bomb ban in Geneva but momentum grows for Vienna treaty talks http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/news.asp?id=102
Ban cluster bombs: Red Cross, Mines Action Canada http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2007/11/05/cluster-bombs.html
Secretary-General calls for treaty banning cluster munitions http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=24581&Cr=cluster&Cr1=munitions
CMC media advisory: Vienna Conference http://www.stopclustermunitions.org/news.asp?id=103

Middle East Biosecurity Assessed
Experts from more than 30 countries from the Middle East, Europe, and Asia addressed biosecurity-related issues in the Middle East and produced an initial assessment of the region’s biological defense capabilities. The three-day ‘Seminar for the Life Sciences and Policy Communities in the Gulf and Middle East and North Africa (MENA),’ held November 12-14 in Abu Dhabi, was organized by the International Council for the Life Sciences in collaboration with the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi. It examined biological risks and threats in the conditions of the region’s growing biotechnology capabilities and its special security vulnerability. The issue was addressed in its whole complexity from possible causes, to necessary security measures, as well as preparedness in case of natural outbreak, accidental release of laboratory pathogens, or bioterrorism. Participants agreed that international collaboration and developing global standards and codes of conduct are essential in order to address biological risks and threats. An experts’ panel will continue working on Middle East biosecurity issues, and eventually a regional training center for specialists will be created. [See also ETC Report Warns of the Threat of Synthetic Biology and Calls for Global Regulations in January 2007 and other items in previous environmental security reports on this theme.]
Sources:
Biosafety and Biosecurity International 2007 http://www.biosafetyandbiosecurity-2007.org/
Biosafety and Biosecurity International Conference 2007 to be held in Abu Dhabi http://www.genengnews.com/news/bnitem.aspx?name=22646162&taxid=47
Analysis: Biothreats in the Middle East http://www.metimes.com/Security/2007/11/12/analysis_biothreats_in_the_middle_east/e4da/

Air Travel in the EU to Join the Carbon Emissions Trading System by 2011
The European Parliament voted to have EU internal and intercontinental flights join the bloc’s carbon emissions trading system by 2011 and that the pollution cap be set at 90% of average emissions from the period 2004-2006. The bill will now be debated by member states. [See also EU Advances the Inclusion of Airlines into the Emissions Trading System to 2010 in October 2007 and other items on the same issue in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
MEPs back cuts in air travel CO2 emissions http://euobserver.com/9/25134/?rk=1
EU body adopts strict rules for airline emissions http://www.reuters.com/article/governmentFilingsNews/idUSL1365000020071113

Depleted Uranium Environmental Concerns Resurfacing
Concerns over the environmental and health effects of the use of depleted uranium munitions are resurfacing and increasing worldwide. The debate ranges from extensive articles in the news to testimonials by scientists and health tests of military veterans and active duty personnel who may have been exposed to depleted uranium. A British study by the University of Leicester––using MC-ICP mass spectrometry for detecting an individual’s exposure to depleted uranium––reveals that, depending on the rate of exposure, depleted uranium can be traced in urine 20 years after inhalation, even when the concentration was at the low end of the normal range. [See also Conclusions on Health and Environmental Impact of 1990-1991 Gulf War in July 2005 and other previous items on this theme, as well as Sensitive Uranium Detector Using DNA in February 2007 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
"We Are Living Through Another Hiroshima," Iraq Doctor Says http://www.opednews.com/articles/genera_sherwood_071121__22we_are_living_throu.htm
Attack on Iran would result in India feeling nuked: Moret http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1080179
Officials to test military for depleted uranium levels http://www.qcsunonline.com/news/uranium_5331___article.html/department_test.html
Depleted uranium can be detected in urine http://www.upi.com/NewsTrack/Health/2007/10/26/depleted_uranium_can_be_detected_in_urine_/4838/

China’s Emergency Response Law to Punish Falsifying Environmental Information
The Emergency Response Law, which came into effect in China on November 1st, has the objective of improving public security and reducing the environmental and health effects of natural disasters and industrial accidents. It requires government to provide accurate and timely information on public emergencies, and false reporting is banned and punishable. The law also says that in extremely serious emergency situations, which “severely threaten life and property, state security, public security, environmental security or public order (which are not specifically covered by the provisions in the law), the NPC Standing Committee or the State Council can declare a ‘state of emergency’ in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws.” [See also China May Restructure Environmental Effort in October 2007 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Source:
New law to ban falsifying information on accidents, disasters http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90776/6294422.html

London Convention Might be Expanded to Include Ocean-based Geoengineering
Parties to the London Convention on dumping of wastes at sea unanimously decided that a more cautious approach is needed concerning ocean-based geoengineering, which is scientifically unjustified and should be internationally regulated. A coalition of civil society groups suggested that an international process should begin, “to put all geoengineering technologies under intergovernmental oversight.” Thus, other international regulations––such as the UN Convention on Biological Diversity—might also be expanded. The Jeddah Declaration adopted on November 1st by the ninth global meeting of the Regional Seas Conventions and Action Plans also highlights the importance of a healthy marine environment to human security. [See also Tougher Law of the Sea Regulations Suggested for Marine Genetic Resources in July 2007, The Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter Enters Into Force in March 2006, Accelerating Synthetic Biology Applications Need Better Monitoring and Regulation in July 2007 and other previous environmental security reports on similar issues.]
Sources:
London Convention Puts Brakes on Ocean Geoengineering http://www.etcgroup.org/en/materials/publications.html?pub_id=661
Civil Society groups call on London Convention to halt marine dumping geoengineering experiments http://www.etcgroup.org/en/materials/publications.html?pub_id=660
Urea 'climate solution' may backfire http://abc.net.au/science/news/stories/2007/2085584.htm?tech (article stored for a limited time on the website)
Global Forum Sets Out Program to Save Marine Environment http://www.arabnews.com/?page=1&section=0&article=103055&d=1&m=11&y=2007&pix=kingdom.jpg&category=Kingdom

Global Health Security Initiative Upgrades Its Strategic Policy Process
The eighth ministerial meeting of the Global Health Security Initiative reviewed the risks and threats of highest priority to global health security, such as chemical, biological, and radio-nuclear terrorism, and pandemic influenza and agreed on a strategy for addressing them. In that view, the group decided “to strengthen its role as a policy forum by identifying emerging issues and coordinating policy development processes to address chemical, biological and radio-nuclear threats” and to strengthen its network and communication capacities. The Global Health Security Initiative is an informal effort involving top health officials from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, UK, U.S., and the E.U. [See also Asian New Strategy to Improve Health and Environment in August 2007, Proposed Global Early Warning System for Monitoring Pandemics in May 2007, and other related environmental security reports.]
Source:
International Health Ministers Plan for Global Preparedness http://usinfo.state.gov/xarchives/display.html?p=washfile-english&y=2007&m=November&x=20071107122140lcnirellep3.269595e-02

Climate Change
Number and Intensity of Natural Disasters is Rapidly Increasing
The number of weather-related disasters worldwide now averages 400–500 a year, compared to 125 in the early 1980s, and the world should increase mitigation and preparedness efforts, notes Oxfam report Climate Alarm Disasters increase as climate change bites. Geological disasters––such as earthquakes, are about the same, indicating that global warming is to blame, remarks the report. Factoring in population growth, the number of people affected also rises considerably. As of August 2007, some 248 million people were affected by flooding in 11 Asian countries alone. The November cyclone Sidr claimed another estimated 10,000 human lives and left about 3 million homeless in Bangladesh.
Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Rapid melting of Andes glaciers indicates that they might disappear by mid-century, threatening agriculture, drinking water sources, and hydroelectric plants. The livelihood of more than 11 million people living in growing cities of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Colombia is jeopardized. As some of the poorest countries of Latin America, they do not have the funds necessary for preparedness and for developing adequate infrastructure to cope with water scarcity and other related challenges.
Rising Sea Levels Impacts in the UK and Alaska
Rising sea levels, increasingly destructive and more frequent storms, erosion, and floods will cause some areas of Britain to sink into the sea over the next 30 years, warn some experts. It seems that some parts of the Norfolk and Suffolk coastline could not be saved, according to leaked findings of a study conducted by the UK Environment Agency and to be published in June 2008. A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said, “Spending on flood and coastal erosion risk management has nearly doubled in cash terms, from £307 million in 1996-97 to an estimated £600 million in 2007-08. The Government will further increase spending to £800 million in 2010-11.”
Erosion, flooding and permafrost thawing are also menacing some Alaskan areas and peoples' livelihood. On the island of Kivalina, uncertainty and frustration raise tension among the 400 residents whose relocation is yet to be decided.
Adaptation
The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) Summary for Policymakers calls for swift action. This synthesis report is the final and most powerful of the series, dedicated to supporting policy negotiations and action. It states with “very high confidence” that post-industrial human activities have warming effects, and with “high confidence” that the impact of global warming may be “abrupt and irreversible”, but adequate adaptation and mitigation policies “can significantly reduce the risks of climate change.” It projects that in 2090-2099 relative to 1980-1999, temperature could rise between 0.3°C and 6.4°C, and sea level rise up to 0.59m––not including important factors such as changes in ice flow. The regions most affected by climate change are the Arctic, Africa, the small islands, and the highly populated Asian and African megadeltas. The key findings will be discussed at the December UN Climate Change Conference in Bali. The previous three IPCC reports released this year are: The Physical Science Basis; Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability; and Mitigation of Climate Change.
Potential Food Crises Threatening Global Security––Change in cultivation patterns due to climate change, population growth, increasing oil prices, expansion of biofuels, instability of financial markets, and other economic factors dramatically affect agricultural commodity prices. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Outlook report, prices are rising considerably for nearly all major food and feed commodities. Another FAO report, The State of Food and Agriculture 2007, presents a comprehensive assessment of the world’s food situation, including projections up to 2050. Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) Summary for Policymakers [see item above] is a fundamental document for policymakers in preparation for the UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Bali, Indonesia, 3 -14 December 2007.
The "Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment" adopted at the East Asia Summit attended by leaders of 16 Asian nations, including China and India, pledges action on climate change and declares support of the UN plan as the “core mechanism” for tackling global warming, and commits to support efforts to negotiate an effective post-2012 international arrangement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process. The same position emerged from the Asia Southeast Asian Nations – European Union (ASEAN-EU) United Summit, where delegates acknowledged that “developing countries should also play their part [in GHG emissions reduction], supported by developed countries through positive incentives, including through a strengthened global carbon market.”
Government representatives attending the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) discussed collaboration on coping with the devastating effects that climate change has on their nations, and on advancing the international negotiations for a comprehensive post-Kyoto Treaty during ‘The Human Dimension of Global Climate Change’ conference with the theme ‘Recognizing environmental security as a fundamental human right’. The Maldives President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, reiterated the importance of recognizing “environmental protection as a fundamental human right” and announced that the Maldives will initiate a debate on the issue with the Human Rights Council.
Sources:
Climate Alarm Disasters increase as climate change bites http://www.oxfam.org/en/files/bp108_climate_change_alarm_0711.pdf/download
Yet another calamity. Economist.com, Nov 19th 2007, DELHI http://www.economist.com/daily/news/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10163828&top_story=1
Andes water supply in peril, scientists say http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/world/bal-te.andeswater25nov25,0,4424633,full.story
Coast villages to be sacrificed to the sea http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/11/11/nflood111.xml
An Alaskan island is losing ground http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-sci-kivalina25nov25,0,4146460,full.story
IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) Summary for Policymakers http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm.pdf
Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment http://www.aseansec.org/21116.htm
Joint Declaration of the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit, Singapore, 22 November 2007 http://www.aseansec.org/21120.htm
The President grants an interview to BBC Radio’s World Today programme, on the human dimension of global climate change http://www.presidencymaldives.gov.mv/pages/eng_news.php?news:4419:1
Radio Interview with Maldives President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom: http://www.presidencymaldives.gov.mv/videos/20071114-01-128kbps.wma (Windows Media Player)
Climate change conference opens in Maldives http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-11/14/content_7068743.htm

New UN Office Using Space Technology to Assist Mitigation of Disasters
A new UN Outer Space Affairs office (UNOOSA) has opened in Bonn, Germany, as part of a future network dedicated to carrying out the UN Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER). Providing universal access to space-based information to all countries and relevant organizations, UN-SPIDER covers all stages of disaster, including risk reduction. The program will improve disaster management and help developing countries strengthen their institutional capacities. UN-SPIDER offices are also scheduled to open in Beijing and Geneva. [See also Space Technology for Improving Planetary Knowledge and Security in April 2006, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Source:
UN Office Uses Space Info To Mitigate Disasters http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0711/S00016.htm
New UN office utilizing space information to mitigate disasters opens in Bonn http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=24485&Cr=outer&Cr1=space

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
Some noteworthy nanotechnology safety activities from November 2007 are:

Sources:
First Direct Images of Carbon Nanotubes Entering Cells http://www.physorg.com/news114348754.html
Nanotechnology large risks with tiny particles http://www.kemi.se/upload/Trycksaker/Pdf/Rapporter/Rapport6_07_Nanoteknik.pdf (Swedish, but with English Summary)
Proposed Substances To Be Evaluated for Set 22 Toxicological Profiles. Federal Register / Vol. 72, No. 206 / Thursday, October 25, 2007 / Notices http://nanotech.lawbc.com/00021802.PDF
Scientists worry about some risks more than the public http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nnano.2007.392.html
EuroNanOSH Conference http://www.ttl.fi/Internet/English/Information/International+meetings+and+symposia/EuroNanOsh
Nanotechnology for Security and Crime Prevention III conference http://www.nano.org.uk/events/ionevents.htm#security


Reports Suggested for Review
The Link between Climate Change and Conflict
Several reports published this month highlight the impact climate change could have on security:
Human Development Report 2007-08. Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world. The 2007-08 edition of UNDP’s Human Development Report focuses on the threat of climate change. Climate change, according to the report, is the ‘defining human development challenge of the 21st Century’ and the world must take actions today to avoid catastrophic consequences. For example, by 2080 an additional 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa could suffer from malnutrition due to climate change, and a 3–4°C increase in global temperature could result in 330 million people being permanently or temporarily displaced through flooding. Pointing to the fact that the poorest are most vulnerable and suffer the earliest and most damaging setbacks, the report warns that actions taken—or not taken—in the years ahead will have a profound bearing on the future course of human development.
A Climate of Conflict by the London-based International Alert conflict resolution group analyzes the possible link between climate change and conflict. The report warns that unless adequate and timely adaptation policies are implemented, more than half of the world's nations are at risk. It identifies 46 countries––home to 2.7 billion people––at high risk of armed conflict, while another 56 states ––with a total population of 1.2 billion–– are at risk of political instability. [See map in the Appendix] Fragile states have particular vulnerability; therefore, reconstruction policies should include environmental and climate change adaptability strategies, underlines Dan Smith, Secretary General of International Alert.
The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change, by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security presents the possible security implications of climate change through three plausible scenarios: two scenarios to 2040, and one to 2100. The report includes a Summary of key environmental and national security implications of the three scenarios, which “makes clear, climate change has the potential to be one of the greatest national security challenges that this or any other generation of policymakers is likely to confront.”
Sources:
UNDP Human Development Report 2007/8 http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2007-8/
A Climate of Conflict http://www.international-alert.org/climate_change.php
The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global Climate Change http://www.csis.org/component/option,com_csis_pubs/task,view/id,4154/type,1/

The Environmental Dimension of Asian Security
The Environmental Dimension of Asian Security. Conflict and Cooperation over Energy, Resources, and Pollution “analyzes the nexus between environmental and natural resources (ENR) problems and security in Northeast Asia” says a book review. The book argues that in the region “there is very little regional cooperation, despite the need to manage disputes over energy, natural resources, and pervasive pollution.”
Source:
The Environmental Dimension of Asian Security. Conflict and Cooperation over Energy, Resources, and Pollution. By In-Taek Hyun and Miranda Schreurs. USIP Press Books http://bookstore.usip.org/books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=134288

Back to Top

October 2007

Environmental Security Focus of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007

The Nobel Committee said it wanted to bring into sharper focus the “increased danger of violent conflicts and wars, within and between states”, posed by climate change. As a result, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2007 “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.” Awarding this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for climate change work and the 2004 Prize to Wangari Maathai “for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace” compellingly acknowledges the importance of the environmental issue to international security.
Sources:
The Nobel Peace Prize 2007 http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2007/
Gore shares Nobel Peace Prize with U.N. panel http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/europe/10/12/nobel.gore/
Ban Ki-moon hails Nobel laureates Al Gore, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=24275&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
Global warming recast as security issue
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3027a992-78f2-11dc-aaf2-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1 (free registration required)


Space-based Solar Power Has Significant Environmental Security Potential

A US National Security Space Office (NSSO) report, Space-Based Solar Power: As an Opportunity for Strategic Security, states that Space Based Solar Power (SBSP) can reduce half a trillion dollars a year in military costs by stopping energy-related wars before they start, and that SBSP can be tested in orbit within five years. SBSP has the potential to provide base load electricity on a global basis without producing greenhouse gases or nuclear waste. Geostationary satellites could convert solar energy into electromagnetic beams that are transmitted to receivers around the world that feed local electric grids. The report argues that military leadership in development and demonstration is probably necessary to speed civilian commercialization, as was the case with the Internet. One hundred and seventy academic, scientific, technical, legal, and business experts around the world participated in the study. The Executive Summary of the NSSO report states that, “…perhaps the greatest military benefit of SBSP is to lessen the chances of conflict due to energy scarcity by providing access to a strategically secure energy supply.”
Sources:
NSSO Report: Space-Based Solar Power: As an Opportunity for Strategic Security http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/library/final-sbsp-interim-assessment-release-01.pdf
Power from space? Pentagon likes the idea http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21253268
Orbiting solar panels' day may be near http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-sci-spacesolar11oct11,1,336119.story?coll=la-news-a_section&ctrack=1&cset=true


France Could Add Teeth to the Kyoto Protocol

France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy is proposing a tax revision that would favor environmentally friendly practices and lower labor taxes, while increasing taxes on highly polluting vehicles and imports from countries that do not respect the Kyoto Protocol. Sarkozy's proposals are expected to be passed by parliament early next year. France also intends to expand its strategy to the EU, urging Brussels to consider EU tariffs for imports from non-Kyoto protocol countries.
Sources:
Sarkozy Promises Green Revolution for France http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2847015,00.html
Paris suggests EU tax on imports from non-Kyoto states http://euobserver.com/9/25047/?rk=1


President Putin Cites Environmental Security as Key Criterion for Caspian Energy Projects

During the summit of five Caspian nations in Iran, Russian President Vladimir Putin said “Environmental security must become a yardstick for measuring the safety of all projects”, and “projects that may inflict serious environmental damage to the region cannot be implemented without prior discussion by all five Caspian nations,” suggesting that each country should have a virtual veto on energy projects in the region. Note: in September 2006, Russia threatened to revoke environmental authorization for the Sakhalin II project. However, in April 2007, when Gazprom (state owned company) gained 50%+1 share in the Sakhalin Energy Investment Company, the President announced that the alleged environmental problems were adequately addressed.
Sources:
No Deal at Caspian Summit on Sharing Sea http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5ihjRIJLEWgmjJgq1JUFXfoSFGX6wD8SAHU9G0
A summit of postponed problems http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20071017/84254518.html
Caspian Sea leaders sign declaration http://www.tehrantimes.com/index_View.asp?code=155078
Sakhalin issues 'settled' - as Russia takes 50% stake http://business.guardian.co.uk/story/0,,1977430,00.html


To Join the EU, Balkan Countries Should Increase Environmental Efforts

Balkan countries wanting to join the EU––Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania––must pay as much attention to environmental protection as they do to economic development if they want to join the bloc, says the UNDP report Balkan Vital Graphics: environment without borders. Spending on environmental protection should increase from the present share of less then 0.1% to 0.7% of the GDP, to at least 1.5-2%. The six Balkan countries are working on a joint environmental strategy, but an agreement is yet to be reached.
Sources:
Environment Protection Key to Balkan EU Path – UNDP http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/44784/story.htm
Balkan Vital Graphics: environment without borders http://www.grida.no/Newsroom.aspx?m=54&pressReleaseItemID=1082


UN Secretary-General on the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict

In advance of the November 6th International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged all nations to renew their commitments preventing environmental exploitation in war and armed conflict. “Taking ecological considerations into account is crucial if we are to avoid longer-term environmental problems that can undermine security and development, and lead to further cycles of conflict and displacement,” he said in a message and added that massive migrations caused by conflicts also severely damage the environment. UNEP found that more than 2 million displaced people since 2003 had caused severe deforestation, land degradation, and overexploitation of groundwater resources around the larger camps for displaced persons.
Sources:
Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/environment_war
Massive displacement disrupts economic activities: Ban http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/World/Massive_displacement_disrupts_economic_activities_Ban/articleshow/2501999.cms
UN Resolution 56/4 http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N01/475/24/IMG/N0147524.pdf?OpenElement (alternate link: http://www.un-documents.net/a56r4.htm)


Call for Global Ban on Lead-based Paints

Scientists are calling for international regulations to ensure that paints have lower than critical lead levels, with the ultimate goal of eliminating all lead from paint. The call comes as a result of a study on consumer paint lead levels in Africa, conducted by a multinational team of environmental and occupational health researchers. Note: The Budapest Statement on Mercury, Lead and Cadmium adopted at the fifth session of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety held in September 2006 invites the UNEP GC “to give high priority to considering […] measures, as appropriate, on lead and cadmium, by assessing the need for further action and considering a range of options, including the possibility of establishing a legally binding instrument.”
Sources:
Scientists Call For Global Ban on Lead-Based Paints http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2007/2007-09-27-03.asp
Consumers: Chinese toys containing lead from Fisher Price recalled in Europe
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1217&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
US recalls more Chinese-made toys; lead paint mars bobble heads
http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/071025/usa/us_china_company_consumer_toys_recall_mattel_1
China governance system faulted in U.S. toy debate http://www.reuters.com/article/domesticNews/idUSN1221109720070912
Agenda item 8: Heavy Metals: need for further global action? The Budapest Statement on Mercury, Lead and Cadmium http://www.chem.unep.ch/mercury/GC24/HeavyMetalsBudapestStatement290906_revised_3.pdf


Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Problems with Destruction of Chemical Weapons and Potential Proliferation
Only 30% of known chemical weapons stocks have been destroyed over the past ten years. The remaining 70% are supposed to be totally destroyed by 2012 to meet the Chemical Weapons Convention. Also during the UN First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) session, it was reported that while reliable safeguards structures have been established in many countries, moving chemical and biological production to Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, where industrial regulations are inadequate, creates new verification challenges. The first Industry and Protection Forum to promote the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and to discuss practical implementation issues will be held at the World Forum Convention Center in The Hague, November 1-2. [See also New Concerns Rising over Chemical Weapons in April 2007 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Concerning nuclear disarmament, Mexico’s representative introduced a draft resolution on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden): “Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world, accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitment.”
Sources:
Chemical Weapons’ Convention Deadline of 2012 for Destruction of Remaining Chemical Weapons Stockpiles ‘Enormous Challenge’, First Committee Told http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/gadis3348.doc.htm
1-2 November: A global convention to ban chemical weapons http://www.cefic.be/Templates/shwNewsFull.asp?HID=1&NSID=662&P=1&NID=1
EU Presidency Statement - United Nations 1st Committee: Other Weapons of Mass Destruction http://www.europa-eu-un.org/articles/en/article_7424_en.htm

EU Advances the Inclusion of Airlines into the Emissions Trading System to 2010
The EU criticized the recent 36th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization for failing to adopt a framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation. In turn, EU lawmakers proposed to move ahead––to 2010––the inclusion of all airlines flying to, from, and within the EU into the Emission Trading Scheme. The original proposal suggested 2011 for the inter-EU flights and 2012 for international flights landing in or departing from the 27 EU countries. The European Parliament is expected to vote on the bill in November. [See also Europe to Propose Emissions Targets for All Flights to/from or within Europe in November 2006, and EC Proposed Strategy to Curb Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Air Travel in September 2005 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Europe stands firm on ambitious action to cut Aviation Emissions http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1420&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Written statement of reservation on behalf of the member states of the European Community (EC) and the other states members of the European Civil Aviation (ECAC) [made at the 36th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal, 18-28 September 2007]
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/07/391&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=fr
Lawmakers say airline emissions have to be cut http://www.neurope.eu/articles/78405.php
MEPs vote to tighten emission limits on aircraft http://www.euractiv.com/en/transport/meps-vote-tighten-emission-limits-aircraft/article-167332

EC Enforces Compliance of National Legislation with EU Environmental Regulations
The European Commission opened several infringement procedures against Member States for not complying with EU environmental legislation. Some of the EC legal actions include: referring Ireland to the European Court of Justice over inadequacy of its national legislation for the implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive; legal action against the UK for not fully complying with ECJ judgments in two separate cases; Luxembourg and Belgium for non-compliance with the EU Directive on urban waste water treatment; final written warning to 12 EU Member States for failing to adopt emergency plans for chemical plants; action against several EU countries for exceeding EU limits on ambient concentrations of SO2; “Letter of Formal Notice” to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for not correctly transposing certain provisions of the WEEE Directive into national legislation, and to Belgium, Denmark, Lithuania, Malta, Finland, and Sweden for inadequate implementation of the RoHS Directive into national law. [See also E-waste Management Directive Came into Effect on August 13, 2005 in August 2005, and RoHS Closer to Deadline in May 2006 environmental security reports.]
Sources: [each source below refers to another case]
Ireland: Commission to bring environmental impact assessment case to the European Court of Justice
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1524&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
United Kingdom: Commission takes legal action for non-compliance with Court decisions
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1531&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Waste water treatment: Commission gives Luxembourg final warning, seeks clarifications from Belgium
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1533&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Major industrial accidents: Commission continues infringement proceedings against 12 Member States over failure to adopt emergency plans for chemical plants
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1534&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Air pollution: Commission takes action over levels of sulphur dioxide and PM10 in member states
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1537&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Waste: Commission starts legal action against eight Member States over electronic waste and hazardous substances
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1513&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

EU Integrated Maritime Policy
The European Commission has adopted an Integrated Maritime Policy for the EU. The new policy will build on Europe’s strengths in marine research, technology, and innovation, as well as space technology, for ensuring maximum environmental sustainability. [See also Political Agreement Reached on the European Marine Strategy Directive in December 2006, Europe to Harmonize Marine Pollution Legislation in July 2005, and International Maritime Organization wants global rather than many different local or regional rules of January 2003 environmental security reports.]
Source:
EC unveils new EU maritime policy http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEM6DE2PL7F_environment_0.html

China May Restructure Environmental Effort
Chinese President Hu Jintao, opening the ruling Communist Party’s five-yearly Congress, called the environment key to “the survival and development of the Chinese nation” and said that China should improve its economic/environment balance. There are speculations that China’s State Environmental Protection Administration may be given more status and power as early as next year. “It is still under discussion how the new organization should be,” said Xia Guang, director of the Policy Research Center for Environment and Economy, a think tank within SEPA, during a recent talk at Brown University. [See also China’s Climate Change and S&T Action Plan in June 2007, China’s President Hu Ordered Environmental Regulations for Military Activities in April 2006, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Source:
China vows to rebalance economy, nurse environment http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/PEK288516.htm
China May Expand Environmental Watchdog Early '08 http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/44818/story.htm

Disputes over Polar Regions Expands
The race for claiming polar territories expends from the Arctic to Antarctica. The Antarctic should be protected by the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and related agreements that protect the continent against activities relating to mineral resources except scientific ones. Nonetheless, Britain’s Foreign Office plans to claim 1million sq km (386,000 sq miles) of seabed off the coast of the British Antarctic Territory. Greenpeace and WWF warned that Britain’s possible oil, gas, and mineral exploration in the region would represent an environmental disaster for the fragile ecosystem. Similar claims for seabed areas might also be submitted by Chile and Argentina, which might overlap some of the British territorial claims.
Meantime, the Arctic disputes continue. Encouraged by the prospect of increased oil and minerals access due to global warming, Greenland is contemplating eventual independence from Denmark. Warning that climate change is becoming a threat to worldwide peace and security, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier noted with concern that the rival territorial claims in the Arctic could turn into a Cold War. “Policies to fight climate change can, and will, become an important part of peace policies,” he added. Note: On August 21st this year, for the first time on record, the Northwest Passage was opened to ships not accompanied by or armored as icebreakers. [See also Arctic Debate Intensifies in August 2007, Arctic Access, Territorial Claims, Energy Resources and Environmental Management in July 2007, and other similar items in previous environmental security reports]
Sources:
Britain Joins Race to Grab Seabeds http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21351573/
Britain to claim more than 1m sq km of Antarctica http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2007/oct/17/antarctica.sciencenews
Green groups condemn UK's claim in Antarctica http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/oct/18/climatechange.fossilfuels
Steinmeier: Climate Change Growing Threat to Peace http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/44972/story.htm
Record 22C temperatures in Arctic heatwave http://environment.independent.co.uk/climate_change/article3021309.ece
Melting ice cap brings diamond hunters and hopes of independence to Greenland http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/oct/04/1
Warming Revives Flora and Fauna in Greenland http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/28/world/europe/28greenland.html
Arctic Report Card 2007 http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/about.html
Arctic Moving Toward Tipping Point http://www.thedailygreen.com/2007/10/17/arctic-moving-toward-tipping-point/7874/
Security in 21st Century Arctic - Claudia McMurray. Remarks at the International Conference, Tromso, Norway. Press Release: US State Department, Friday, 5 October 2007, 7:27 am http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO0710/S00150.htm

New Strategies Needed to Deal with Global Displacement and Migration
The annual meeting of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) governing Executive Committee concluded that new strategies are needed to deal with increasing global displacement and migration, as well as approaches to tackle their causes, scale, and complexity. In addition to conflict and persecution, environmental degradation, and frequency and magnitude of natural disasters, are among the main causes of increased numbers of refugees. After several years of decline, in 2006 the number of refugees began rising again and continues to mount, remarks UNHCR. The difference between categories of migrants is increasingly blurry. “War is many times driven by scarcity of resources; scarcity of resources can be driven by climate change,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres. Note: A study by Rafael Reuveny from Indiana University, Climate Change-induced Migration and Violent Conflict, reveals that of 38 cases of migration directly attributable to climate change during the 20th century, half led to conflicts, some of which were violent. [See also Climate Change Refugees in May 2007, UNU Calls for International Framework for Environmental Refugees in October 2005, and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
UNHCR Executive Committee concludes annual meeting http://www.unhcr.org/news/NEWS/470651c94.html
UN refugee chief calls for new strategies to tackle global displacement http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=24093&Cr=refugees&Cr1=
People on the Move. Woodrow Wilson Center, October 10 2007 (live webcast) http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=1413&fuseaction=topics.event_summary&event_id=274776
Is this what the world's coming to? http://www.nature.com/climate/2007/0710/full/climate.2007.56.html

Climate Change
Intensified Disasters
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have stated that more than 250 million people a year are now affected by so-called natural catastrophes, a third more than ten years ago. The federation has already responded to more than 100 floods in 2007; in 2006, the humanitarian groups responded to 482 disasters, up from 278 in 2004.
Climate change is cited as one of the causes that led to 60% of Georgian farmers losing all of their crops. Australia’s first bush fires also triggered fears over the intensifying effects of climate change. By 2030, the already dry continent might get warmer by about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, and drier due to estimated 3% annual rainfall reduction, forecasts the Climate Change in Australia report produced by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the Bureau of Meteorology. Note: a survey of 1,213 people conducted in July showed that 40% of Australians consider global warming a greater threat to security than Islamic fundamentalism; only 20% deemed it less. In Southern Africa, environmental degradation and global warming change rainfall patterns, decreasing in some regions––thus causing drought, and increasing in others, which might produce floods, warned scientists attending the Southern Africa Development Community meeting at mid-September. They also discussed adaptation strategies.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
Many studies are showing greater warming in the Artic than in the rest of the world and that the reduction in the sea ice extent has been much faster than global climate models predict. Douglas Bancroft, Director of the Canadian Ice Service, notes that the “overall extent was similar to what some of the models envisioned but decades in advance of when they expected that would occur. In fact, the summer of 2007 looked very similar to some climate model forecasts for 2030 to 2050.” One research station in the Canadian High Arctic recorded temperatures as high as 22oC on Melville Island, where the long-term average is 5oC. According to Walt Meir of the US National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado, the wider polar region may have experienced its hottest summer on record.
ESA’s Earth Explorer ice mission, CryoSat-2, to be launched in 2009, will be specifically designated for polar region research, with observations over three-years, providing conclusive data on the rates at which ice cover is diminishing. To complement submarine and satellite measurements and determine with highest accuracy how rapidly Arctic ice is thinning, next year three British polar explorers will chart sea ice melt to better estimate when Arctic summer sea ice will vanish due to global warming.

Rising Sea Levels
Bangkok, Thailand's sprawling capital of more than 10 million people might be submerged within the next 15 to 20 years, due to sinking ground and the seawater rising, warn experts. Bangkok is one of 13 of the world’s 20 largest cities at risk of being swamped as sea levels rise in coming decades, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Adaptation
Asia, being one of the continents most affected by climate change, is increasing its efforts for adaptation and disaster management. The UN University launched a 14-week pilot program to help Asian countries in flood risk assessment and planning for and managing floods. A Japanese initiative using satellite data to provide disaster information in Asia could extend its coverage to other developing countries. The Sentinel Asia project, a Japanese initiative using satellite data to provide disaster information in Asia will be expanded to cover more end users in Asia and could be extended to other developing countries in Africa and Latin America. China also offers its expertise and technology for disaster forecasting and management to other developing countries.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
As a prelude to the December Bali summit, environment ministers from about 40 nations held an informal meeting in Indonesia, agreeing that the world must finalize a climate change treaty by 2009, to leave enough time for countries to ratify it before the Kyoto Treaty expires in 2012. Countries key for the negotiations were represented in the meeting––low-lying countries such as the Maldives, OPEC such as Saudi Arabia, the U.S., Australia, China, and India. Also in preparation for the Bali Summit, in November the Government of Maldives will be hosting an international conference, “The Human Dimension of Global Climate Change,” with the theme “Recognizing environmental security as a fundamental human right,” said Maldives President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Contributions to accelerating atmospheric CO2 growth from economic activity, carbon intensity, and efficiency of natural sinks, a study conducted by the Global Carbon Project in cooperation with other research institutions, reports that increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to faster economic growth coupled with slowing improvements in carbon intensity, and decreasing efficiency of natural sinks in removing emissions from human activities. The paper says that 2006 CO2 releases were 35% above the 1990 level. “The longer we delay reducing emissions, the more restorative capacity will be lost,” added CSIRO scientist Dr Mike Raupach, co-chair of the Global Carbon Project.
Sources:
UN Urges Preparedness for More Frequent Disasters http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/44773/story.htm
Many states seen facing water shortages http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/nation/5249847.html
Too late to avoid warming: report http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/too-late-to-avoid-warming-report/2007/10/02/1191091074799.html
The Big Dry. Prolonged drought threatens Australia's people, wildlife, and economy
http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20071027/bob9.asp
Forecasts predict 'rainfall divide' in Southern Africa http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3920&language=1
Arctic Moving Toward Tipping Point http://www.thedailygreen.com/2007/10/17/arctic-moving-toward-tipping-point/7874/
Rising seas inch toward Thailand's capital http://www.sptimes.com/2007/10/21/Worldandnation/Rising_seas_inch_towa.shtml
Asian countries learn flood defence http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3979&language=1
Environment ministers target 2009 climate treaty http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/JAK103022.htm
A clog in the world's carbon dioxide 'sinks' http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071023.wclimate23/BNStory/Science/home

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
Some noteworthy nanotechnology safety-related activities in October 2007 include:
UK Government Nanotechnology Policy Workshop for Industry held on October 19, 2007, organized by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the European Nanotechnology Trade Alliance (ENTA) to provide updates from the UK government regarding: research progress from the nanotechnology research coordination group; Defra’s voluntary reporting scheme; Council for Science and Technology report on government progress against nanotechnology commitments; overview of the international efforts; and industry perspectives.
BSI British Standards is publishing nine documents addressing nanotechnology health and safety issues for UK industry; seven deal with terminology––from fabrication to labeling–– and two provide guidance for safe handling and disposal of free engineered nanoparticles, and for specifying nanomaterials.
Indian scientists warn that India faces serious nanotech environmental health and safety issues due to absence of guidelines on nanoparticle toxicity and biosafety regulations in India and worldwide. Scientists from the Energy Resources Institute in Delhi launched a study this year to investigate the opportunities and risks associated with the technology.
Sources:
UK Government Nanotechnology Policy Workshop for Industry http://www.euronanotrade.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=631&Itemid=30
BSI New Publications. Nine documents for nanotechnology terminology and guidance for UK industry are due to be published by BSI British Standards. http://www.bsi-global.com/upload/Standards%20&%20Publications/Nanotechnologies/Nanotechnology%20flyer.pdf
India 'must regulate nanotechnology' urgently http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3967&language=1


Reports Suggested for Review
Bioviolence; Preventing Biological Terror and Crime
Bioviolence: Preventing Biological Terror and Crime, by Barry Kellman is a very well written and documented analysis of the increasing threat of bioterrorism. He argues that the international community is not prepared to counter these dangers, and makes many recommendations that are carefully explained, including strengthening international law.
Sources:
Bioviolence: Preventing Biological Terror and Crime. Excerpt from the book http://assets.cambridge.org/97805218/83252/excerpt/9780521883252_excerpt.pdf
Book launch at the Wilson Center http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=events.event&event_id=276519
BIOVIOLENCE; Preventing Biological Terror and Crime. Barry Kellman, Depaul University
http://www.cambridge.org/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521709699
International Weapons Control Center (IWCC) http://www.law.depaul.edu/centers%5Finstitutes/iwcc/

GEO-4
UNEP’s fourth Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4) warns once more that changing temperatures, rapid rates of species’ extinction, and unsustainable depletion of the world’s scarce resources are the most important threats to human survival. The report reiterates that in order to avoid catastrophe, a new proactive policy approach is needed, since environmental problems worsen faster then response policies are presently adopted. An analysis by region shows that in Africa, the biggest problem is caused by land degradation due to unsustainable use and climate change; in Asia and Pacific, despite improvements in many domains, the environment is further threatened by increasing consumption and associated waste––including hazardous waste; Europe, although a leader in environmental policy, has to make greater efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and change its unsustainable patterns of production and consumption; the Latin America and Caribbean environment is threatened by lack of land-use planning––including urbanization and deforestation, and high income inequality; in North America, high energy consumption and low efficiency, low fuel economy standards, and urban sprawl are the main environmental problems.
Sources:
Global Environment Outlook: environment for development (GEO-4) http://www.unep.org/geo/geo4/media/index.asp
Planet's Tougher Problems Persist, UN Report Warns http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=519&ArticleID=5688&l=en
UN Planetary Report Paints Bleak Regional Picture http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/45012/story.htm
Humanity's survival at stake: UN http://www.thestar.com/sciencetech/Environment/article/270709

Human Ecological Footprint Increasing Each Year
The 2007 ‘Ecological Debt Day’ was on October 6, three days earlier than in 2006, noted the New Economics Foundation. ‘Ecological Debt Day’ marks the day of the year when human consumption begins surpassing the Earth's ability to sustain it. The point has been reached earlier every year since the 1980s, when the world began to live beyond its means. The results of a study using the ecological footprint index also revealed that the world is developing very unsustainably. The study is looking at how the lifestyles and ecological footprints of 93 nations have changed in the last 30 years. It is the first study of this kind and was conducted by an international team of the Global Footprint Network.
Sources:
October 6 is Ecological Debt Day http://www.footprintnetwork.org/gfn_sub.php?content=overshoot
World moves into the ecological red http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/23676
World failing on sustainable development http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/mg19626243.100;jsessionid=HCBMNDHLHPFG (abstract; full article by subscription only)

Demographics and Destiny: Trends We Need to Understand in the 21st Century
Demographics and Destiny: Trends We Need to Understand in the 21st Century by Endy Zemenides, argues that demographics is one of the important factors framing the 21st century security agenda, and points out 10 key demographic trends: 1) aging of the developed world; 2) youth bulges in the Islamic world; 3) long term population decline in Russia; 4) rise of urbanization/megacities in the developing world; 5) negative birth rates in Europe; 6) developed world’s reliance on immigration; 7) Islamization of Europe; 8) steep increase in the number of Chinese and Russians with lung cancer, heart disease and other pollution-related health problems; 9) population growth around limited renewable resources; and 10) high fertility rates in the developing world. Demographics, the article argues, can change the way we fight war and add reasons for fighting wars. The author concludes that the U.S. must recognize the looming demographic issue and develop a comprehensive demographic strategic plan.
Source:
Demographics and Destiny: Trends We Need to Understand in the 21st Century. National Strategy Forum Volume 16, Issue 4 (Fall 2007)
http://www.nationalstrategy.com/Programs/NationalStrategyForumReview/CurrentNSFRIssueFall2007V16Issue4/Fall2007NSFRDemographicsandDestiny/tabid/104/Default.aspx

Asia’s Progress Jeopardized by Environmental Degradation
The Millennium Development Goals: Progress in Asia and the Pacific 2007 report by the Asian Development Bank and UNDP hails progress in Asia, showing that the continent might reach the UN Millennium Development Goals for poverty, gender parity, and primary education coverage before the 2015 plan. However, the report warns that this might be jeopardized by environmental degradation (including deforestation and land degradation), poor water management (including flooding), rising pollution in urban areas, and CO2 emission contributing to climate change.
Sources:
“The Millennium Development Goals: Progress in Asia and the Pacific 2007” http://www.adb.org/Documents/Reports/MDG-Update-2007/MDG-Update-2007.pdf
Asia's Growth can Provide Economic, Social Benefits to All - Joint MDG Report http://www.adb.org/Media/Articles/2007/12186-growing-asia-economies/default.asp


Green Initiatives
"Green Un-building" Becomes Major Environmental Goal
The practice of "green un-building" – environmentally friendly demolition – is becoming a major goal of environmental groups worldwide. Reuse or recycling of materials from destroyed structures can save enormous amounts of scarce resources.
Source:
The House That Love Un-Built. Green un-building catching on in the U.S. http://www.grist.org/news/2007/10/18/recycHouse/

"Green Information Technology" Is Forecast as 2008 Top IT Strategy
Gartner, Inc., a leading news source in information technology (IT), is predicting that concern for environmental issues will have a most significant impact on IT planning and operations over the next three years. The major factors involved here are energy conservation and efficiency, material conservation and recycling, and “green building” of data processing installations. UN-GAID will co-sponsor a conference and exhibit, The Positive Impact of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) on the Environment and Climate Change, on 27-28 November 2007, at the United Nations. Tutorials will focus on the role of information and communication technologies in assuring environmental sustainability. They will address the broader issue of information and communication technologies’ impact on the environment and climate change.
Sources:
Conference site: http://www.aitglobal.com/
Green IT Will Be 2008's Top Strategic Technology: Gartner http://www.greenercomputing.com/news_third.cfm?NewsID=36071

New Biological Discovery Should Bring More Efficient Water Treatment
Scientists at the Environmental Biotechnology Cooperative Research Centre (EBCRC), Eveleigh NSW, Australia, have discovered a cell signaling pathways that can control bacterial slime on membranes, which will lead to more efficient desalination and water recycling plants. According to the project leader, “Membrane fouling is one of the greatest contributors to increased energy usage and cost in the desalination and water recycling processes. Reducing fouling will significantly decrease operating costs through reduced energy consumption, a reduction in chemical usage and an overall reduction in a plant’s environmental footprint”. This signaling system initiates dispersal in established fouling biofilms and prevents the formation of new biofilms. EBCRC is developing a range of biofilm control formulations that will stimulate natural bacterial dispersal events.
Source:
Natural slime control aids desalination http://www.sciencealert.com.au/news/20072410-16490-2.html

Back to Top


September 2007

UN General Assembly Focuses Government Leaders on Climate Change

The theme of the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly was “Responding to Climate Change.” Speeches by heads of state and governments talked about climate change, rising sea levels, droughts and floods––as issues in themselves, but also as related to poverty and social problems, and ultimately to global security. There was again mention of strengthening the UNEP by transforming it into a UN Environmental Organization. This annual General Assembly was preceded by a high-level meeting convened by the UN Secretary General focusing specifically on climate change and actions to address it. Prior to this meeting was the annual UN-NGO conference that also focused on climate change. These meetings demonstrated a near consensus that urgent action is necessary, and that the UN Framework for Climate Change is the appropriate forum for discussions. The President of the UN General Assembly is preparing to create a Global Compact on Climate Change tentatively planned for release in early 2008 from which many agreements could flow. All of this focuses on the next high-level meeting on climate change to be held in December, in Bali, Indonesia.
Sources:
UN General Assembly––General Debate (25 September - 3 October 2007); Statements and Webcast http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/62/
Ban Ki-Moon Convenes Largest-Ever Meeting Of Global Leaders On Climate Change http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23926&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
As the waters rise http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9867337
President of the UN General Assembly’s comments during private briefing by the director of the Millennium Project (Glenn jglenn@igc.org)

Maritime Regulations to be Expanded

Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships Convention to Enter into Force in September 2008
The International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships (AFS Convention) will enter into force on September 17, 2008 (12 months after fulfilling the criteria for entry-into-force.) The AFS Convention bans the use of organotin compounds on ships’ hulls or external surfaces, requires the application of an isolating coating for ships already carrying such compounds, and establishes a mechanism to assess other anti-fouling systems to prevent the use of potentially harmful substances in these systems. The Convention will apply to all ships and floating units operating under the flag of a Party to the Convention and/or entering the port, shipyard, or offshore terminal of a Party.
Sources:
Harmful ships' paint systems to be outlawed as international convention meets entry-into-force criteria http://www.imo.org/Newsroom/mainframe.asp?topic_id=1472&doc_id=8473
International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships http://www.imo.org/Conventions/mainframe.asp?topic_id=529

Shipping to Face New Regulations to Reduce Air Pollution
Concerns over air pollution by marine navigation are rising and, similarly to the aviation industry, it is likely that the shipping industry will one day be held responsible and asked to act on its GHG emissions. Given the industry’s global extent, global regulations are needed and expected. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) launched in July a comprehensive study to assess the shipping industry’s contribution to CO2, sulfur dioxide, toxic nitrous oxide, and particulate emissions, and the impacts on air quality. Results are expected by the end of this year. Along the same lines, the theme of World Maritime Day 2007 was “IMO’s response to current environmental challenges” in order to enhance awareness of the industry’s environmental impact, and trigger compelling action.
Note: This month, Friends of the Earth sued the U.S. EPA in federal district court for failing to meet the April 2007 deadline to regulate air pollution from large ships. Meanwhile, the Marine Vessel Emissions Act of 2007––that would require cleaner fuels and engines in all ocean-going vessels calling at U.S. ports––was introduced in the Senate (SB 1499) and the House of Representatives (HR 2548).
Sources:
Shipping must act on air emissions http://www.reuters.com/article/tnBasicIndustries-SP/idUSL1286905420070913
Curbing ship emissions seen needing global rules http://uk.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUKL0754092020070907
World Maritime Day 2007. IMO’s response to current environmental challenges. A message from the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, Mr. Efthimios E. Mitropoulos http://www.imo.org/includes/blastDataOnly.asp/data_id%3D19507/9535.pdf
World Maritime Day http://www.imo.org/home.asp?topic_id=320
EPA Hauled into Court over Ship Smokestack Pollution http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/sep2007/2007-09-07-091.asp

Micronesian Nations Sign Coral Reef Protection Document
The presidents of Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands became the first heads of state to sign the International Declaration of Reef Rights, created by the Reef Check Foundation to raise awareness about the value of coral reefs and how to protect them. 2008 is the International Year of the Reef.
Sources:
Three Presidents of Micronesian Nations Sign Reef Check 'International Declaration of Reef Rights' - Pledge to Protect Coral Reefs http://www.enn.com/press_releases/2153
Reef Check’s International Declaration of Reef Rights Receives Presidential Attention http://www.reefcheck.org/news/news_detail.php?id=252

Shipping Regulations for Protecting Whales
Transport Canada, Environment Canada, and a group of marine mammal researchers submitted a proposal to the IMO calling for diversion of large vessels in the Roseway Basin (southwest of Nova Scotia) to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale. Several right whales are killed annually by collisions with large ships. The ban would prohibit shipping traffic in a 1,780 square kilometer area around Roseway Basin. Also to protect the North Atlantic right whale, the U.S. Fisheries Service proposed speed limits on the east coast. Similarly, a petition by the U.S. Center for Biological Diversity calls upon the National Marine Fisheries Service to protect endangered blue whales by setting a speed limit of 10 knots in the Santa Barbara Channel (California) for vessels 65 feet or larger while whales are in the area.
Sources:
Cdn proposal would divert ships from right whale conservation area http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2007/09/02/4465625-cp.html
Shipping Lanes Into Boston Moved To Protect Whales http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/6841
Petition Seeks Ship Speed Limits in Santa Barbara Channel to Stop Blue Whale Killing http://www.enn.com/press_releases/2167

Baltic Ministers Recommend Additions to Baltic Sea Action Plan
The meeting of the environment ministers of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden), held in Finland at the end of August, focused on the condition of the Baltic, the Nordic countries’ actions on climate change, and the future of international environment management (including the Nordic initiative to strengthen UNEP.) The ministers called for tangible measures to protect the Baltic Sea (e.g., a ceiling on emissions of nutrients) and their inclusion in the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) due to be approved by the Baltic nations environment ministers at the meeting of the Helsinki Commission for the Protection of the Baltic Sea Environment (HELCOM) to be held on November15, in Krakow, Poland.
Sources:
Baltic ministers call for ambitious Baltic plan http://www.planet2025news.net/ntext.rxml?id=4909&photo=
Baltic Sea Acton Plan http://www.helcom.fi/press_office/news_helcom/en_GB/HODS17Outcome1/

Environment and Security Program in the East-Caspian Region

The regional meeting of the Environment and Security (ENSVEC) Program in the East-Caspian region was held in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, and was attended by leading specialists from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, Italy, Iran, and Afghanistan, as well as representatives of OSCE, NATO, UNEP and UNDP. In the framework of implementation of the ENSVEC program for environmental protection and cooperation in the region, the focus was on the East-Caspian Sea’s coastal area development, pollution reduction, and ecological preservation and restoration. The start of the ENSVEC program in the Atyrau and Mangistau oblasts of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan was also announced. The Central Asia ENSVEC program priority regions include: the Fergana Valley, the Caspian Sea's Eastern Coast, the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Ground, the Amu-Darya river basin, and the Aral Sea.
Sources:
Environment and Security program meeting held Ashgabat http://www.turkmenistan.ru/?page_id=3&lang_id=en&elem_id=11050&type=event&sort=date_desc
Environment and Security; Transforming risks into cooperation http://www.envsec.org/centasia/index.php

Technological Breakthroughs with Environmental Security Implications

Millimeter-wave Spectroscopy Provides Environmental Sensing
Scientists from the Argonne National Laboratory developed a new technology, passive millimeter-wave spectroscopy (PmmWS), which can detect specific molecules in concentrations as low as 100-1000 ppm at ranges of up to a few kilometers. The new system improves on earlier ones by being less susceptible to interference from clouds and other atmospheric phenomena, having a much longer range, and being less expensive.
Source:
New instrument covertly detects signals from illicit chemicals http://www.physorg.com/news108047021.html

New Chemical Helps Protect Burned-over Soil from Erosion
ENCAP of Green Bay WI, a lawn care small business, introduced a new product, PAM-12, that claimed to be more effective and less costly in treating flame- and smoke-damaged soil than previous approaches so that it becomes more absorbent and less susceptible to erosion. It does this by causing the soil to form into tiny clumps around which water will flow instead of running off, aiding in the process of restoring the natural environment for vegetation re-growth.
Sources:
PAM-12 Erosion Granules http://www.encap.net/ProductGuide/PAM12ErosionGranules/tabid/79/Default.aspx
Product Could Heal Soil After Fires http://www.physorg.com/news107534416.html

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Nuclear Safety

IAEA to Upgrade International Nuclear Event Scale
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will upgrade the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) system to enhance international safety by promptly informing the public on the scale of a nuclear or radiological incident. The improvements will make the system more versatile and informative, the terminology will be standardized, and issues related to sources and transportation of radioactive material will be better addressed. The INES was originally developed in the 1990s by the UN IAEA and the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD to consistently communicate the severity of reported nuclear and radiological events, with a scale ranging from 1 (anomaly) to 7 (major accident). The updated scale is expected to be issued at the end of 2008, after being reviewed by INES members.

Progress on the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
The 5th Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty applauded progress made by the Treaty’s Preparatory Commission in preparing to establish the future CTBT Organization and the Treaty’s verification regime. It also called on the ten states of Annex 2 whose ratification is essential for the treaty’s entry into force to do so. These countries are China, U.S., Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, Indonesia, Iran and Colombia. [See also Call for Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Entry into Force in September 2004 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]

Nuclear Disarmament
‘The Challenge of Abolishing Nuclear Weapons’ conference discussed a variety of measures to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons. Emphasis was on a Nuclear Weapons Convention, a draft of which (created by civil society organizations) was already submitted to the UN by Costa Rica. Along the same lines, nuclear experts attending the Pugwash 50th Anniversary workshop ‘Revitalizing Nuclear Disarmament’ discussed actions that both nuclear and non-nuclear states should take in order to further the goal of declaring nuclear weapons illegal and eliminating them entirely.

IAEA Director’s Recommendations to Improve Nuclear Safety
At the IAEA’s 51st annual General Conference held in Vienna, Director General Mohamed ElBaradei called on all countries to ratify the Amendment on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material of the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, to strengthen the protection of nuclear materials and increase nuclear security. In the meantime, experts attending the scientific forum convened by the IAEA’s ‘Global Challenges and the Development of Atomic Energy: The Next 25 Years’ noted that in view of the world’s energy needs' likely to increase by 50% over the next 25 years, nuclear technology is expected to expand, increasing the risks associated with the spread of sensitive nuclear know-how, including enrichment and reprocessing technologies. [See also Increasing Nuclear Safety and Security in March 2006 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]

Recent Reports Addressing Nuclear Safety
Nuclear Security Report 2007; Measures to Protect Against Nuclear Terrorism outlines concerns and strategies to consider in order to improve international nuclear security, mainly based on international collaboration. Securing the Bomb 2007, commissioned by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, provides a comprehensive assessment of vulnerable nuclear stockpiles around the world and makes recommendations for reducing the nuclear terrorism threat, including establishing a database with unclassified information on actual nuclear incidents. IAEA Illicit Trafficking Database reveals that in the period 1993–2006, the agency confirmed 275 cases of illicit possession and connected activities involving nuclear materials and radioactive sources.
Sources:
Improving the INES Scale http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/News/2007/ines.html
International Experts Explore Challenge of Abolishing Nuclear Weapons http://www.wagingpeace.org/menu/programs/public-events/other/conf_challenge_2007_09_08.htm
Statement to the Fifty-First Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference 2007 by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Statements/2007/ebsp2007n014.html
Secretary-General, in message, calls for rededication to ‘noble work’ of bringing Nuclear-test-ban into force http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/sgsm11157.doc.htm
Scientific Forum. Global Challenges and the Development of Atomic Energy: The Next 25 Years http://www.iaea.org/About/Policy/GC/GC51/ScientificForum
Securing the Bomb 2007 http://www.nti.org/e_research/securingthebomb07.pdf
IAEA Illicit Trafficking Database Releases Latest Aggregate Statistics http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/News/2007/itdb.html

Call for Expanding Montreal Protocol on Ozone-Depleting Substances
On the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol to curb the release of harmful substances into the atmosphere, 191 signatories of the Protocol gathered in Montreal to celebrate this highly successful international treaty and to discuss its expansion. Delegates agreed to accelerate the freeze and phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)–– chemical compounds used in refrigeration systems and air conditioners, and which accelerate both ozone layer damage and climate change. They agreed to halt the production of HCFCs in 2013 and pull forward their elimination by ten years from the previous scheduled phase-out of 2030 for developed countries, and 2040 for developing ones. The United Nations meteorological agency revealed that greenhouse gases could aggravate ozone loss and slow recovery. The theme of this year’s Ozone Day (September 16) was "Celebrating 20 years of progress in 2007". [See also 2007––The International Year of the Ozone Layer in January 2007, Ozone Hole Worst Ever Recorded (under Climate Change item) in October 2006, and other similar items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Secretary-General lauds push to hasten phase-out of ozone-depleting compounds http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23939&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
Ozone Treaty's Role in Combating Climate Change Tops Environment Ministers Meeting in Canada http://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&xml=AB3B558A-48EF-4E3B-83FA-BDAA2B7D76AF
Greenhouse gases could aggravate ozone loss and slow recovery, UN agency says http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23827&Cr=ozone&Cr1=
UN-backed conference ends with push to protect ozone, combat climate change http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23918&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
Ozone Day- 16 September http://ozone.unep.org/Events/ozone_day_2007/index.shtml

Canada to Begin Monitoring Traffic in Northwest Passage by mid-2008
In view of increasing disputes over the Northwest Passage, Canada announced that it will begin monitoring the area’s sea traffic by underwater listening devices. Beginning in mid-2008, Canada's military will monitor ships and submarines using detection technology installed at Gascoyne Inlet on Devon Island, near one of the main arteries of the passage. Canada is at odds with Russia, Denmark, Norway and the United States over the Northwest Passage. [See also Arctic Debate Intensifies in August 2007, Arctic Access, Territorial Claims, Energy Resources and Environmental Management in July 2007, and other items on the same issue in previous environmental security reports]
Sources:
Canada to monitor water traffic in Northwest Passage http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2007/09/24/technology-passage.html
The True North ... strong, but whose? http://www.hfxnews.ca/index.cfm?sid=65248&sc=93
Canada to be forced to boost Arctic security, expert says http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/story.html?id=66c15321-ea0c-4e04-a686-b9ae5f644394&k=64697
Fight for the Top of the World http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1663445,00.html
Satellites witness lowest Arctic ice coverage in history http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMYTC13J6F_planet_0.html

Climate Change

Intensified Disasters
In Africa, the worst rains in 30 years caused flooding affecting an estimated 1.5 million people in 22 countries, including Ethiopia, Niger and Sudan, increasing the humanitarian crisis, reports the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and the risks of epidemics are rising. In other parts of the world, strong hurricanes also produced serious damages during September.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
This year, the area covered by sea ice in the Arctic shrank to its lowest level since satellite measurements began nearly 30 years ago. The U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center noted that on Sept. 16, 2007, the Arctic sea ice reached a record low 4.13 million square kilometers (1.59 million square miles), 22% less then the previous record. Himalayan glaciers are melting fast in Indian Kashmir as a result of global warming, noted a report by ActionAid, On the Brink? Himalayan glaciers are the main source for Asia’s nine largest rivers; water levels of regional streams and rivers already dropped by two-thirds. Rajendra K. Pachauri, the Chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warned that some one billion people could be threatened by water shortage in South Asia, China and Africa as result of melting glaciers.

Rising Sea Levels
At recent UN meetings, low-lying states reiterated their call for increased action against global warming. The small island-state of Tuvalu could disappear in 30 to 50 years. Increased salinity and flooding could displace millions in Bangladesh.

Adaptation
The 2007 droughts in parts of southern Africa reduced maize production by about 40% to 60%. A workshop of over 140 experts on Adaptation Planning and Strategies organized by the UNFCCC and FAO in Rome underlined the long-term implications of abnormal changes in air temperature and rainfall and the increasing frequency and intensity of drought and floods, mainly on the developing nations. Due to the melting of Himalayan glaciers, the Pakistani government established a high-level committee and a study center to study adaptation strategies, including developing efficient water management systems, raising mass awareness campaigns, and changing cropping patterns.

Migration
Increasing desertification of West Africa is forcing people to relocate, causing more conflict among communities. The executive director of UNEP warned that Africa's next major war might be over water, giving Burkina Faso as an example. The Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP8) noted that desertification affects more than 250 million people, and 1 billion more are at risk, and asked for increased and swift action. The Global Humanitarian Forum, to be launched on October 17, 2007, is being set up by former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, to address in a preventive and proactive way global refugee movements and humanitarian crises triggered mainly by climate change. Climate change is, “perhaps the single most important humanitarian challenge of years to come,” says Kofi Annan. The forum will act as a catalyst among the different interest groups involved in international disaster relief and prevention: governments, aid agencies, the military, the business world and academics.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The UN's "The Future in our Hands: Addressing the Leadership Challenge of Climate Change", the largest-ever meeting of world leaders on climate change, was held on 24 September at the UN headquarters in New York, as a preamble to the UN high-level General Assembly, to set the stage for the December Bali negotiations on a post-Kyoto treaty to address climate change and GHG emissions. It addressed aspects related to adaptation, mitigation, technology, and financing. Participants agreed that a new treaty to address climate change was needed, and that the UNFCCC is the most appropriate forum to conduct the negotiations.
Meanwhile, the number of lawsuits dealing with global warming is increasing around the world. Environmentalists are hoping to increase pressure on policymakers and companies to change to more environment-friendly and low-GHG emission policies. Initiatives such as the Carbon Disclosure Project (which sent letters to 2,400 large firms around the world) are demanding that corporations be more transparent and accountable in disclosing their GHG emissions and their activities’ impact on climate change.
Sources:
Africa flooding spreads, 22 countries hit: UN http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Africa_flooding_spreads_22_countries_hit_UN_999.html
Satellites witness lowest Arctic ice coverage in history http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMYTC13J6F_planet_0.html
Climate change melting Kashmir glaciers: report http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Climate_change_melting_Kashmir_glaciers_report_999.html
UN climate change expert stresses dangers of inaction http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23936&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
Rising sea levels would submerge third of Bangladesh http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Rising_sea_levels_would_submerge_third_of_Bangladesh_999.html
Tuvalu about to disappear into the ocean http://www.enn.com/ecosystems/article/23020
UN General Assembly––General Debate (25 September - 3 October 2007); Statements and Webcast http://www.un.org/webcast/ga/62/
Living with climate change. Adaptation strategies needed to build resilience http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2007/1000654/index.html
BURKINA FASO: Innovation and education needed to head off water war http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=74308
Annan's humanitarian forum to start work in October http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/09/17/europe/EU-GEN-Switzerland-Annans-Forum.php
Ban Ki-Moon Convenes Largest-Ever Meeting Of Global Leaders On Climate Change
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23926&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
Climate change battle fought in courts http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20070026821
As the waters rise http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9867337
Bush Prepares for 'Greenwashing' Climate Summit http://www.alternet.org/environment/63769/

UNESCO Added 23 New Reserve Sites in 18 Countries
UNESCO added 23 new sites in 18 countries to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves that are managed on sustainable development principles to reduce biodiversity loss. Three countries join the global network––El Salvador, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. The new additions include 2 sites in each: Argentina, Canada, China, El Salvador, and Portugal, and 1 site in each: Australia, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Lebanon, Mexico, Federated States of Micronesia, Mongolia, Qatar, South Africa, Spain, United Arab Emirates, and Viet Nam. UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) network now comprises 529 sites in 105 countries. [See also New Sites Added to World’s Protected Biosphere Reserves in October 2006 and others on the same issue in previous environmental security reports.]
Source:
Twenty-three new biosphere reserves join UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) network
http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=39480%26URL_DO=DO_TOPIC%26URL_SECTION=201.html

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
REFNANO: Reference materials for engineered nanoparticle toxicology and metrology addresses the potential role of reference materials in toxicology and metrology created by a team of UK scientists, commissioned by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It provides a prioritized list of reference materials relevant to nanotechnology, focusing on materials produced and used in the UK.
The Director of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies has indicated disappointment with a recent report, Prioritization of Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Needs for Engineered Nanoscale Materials, prepared by a working group of the Nanoscale Science, Engineering, and Technology Subcommittee (NSET), part of the federal government’s National Science and Technology Council. The Director states, "Notably absent are important details like budget allocations, implementation time frames, and assigned responsibilities."
Sources:
REFNANO: The UK-led initiative on Reference Materials for Nanotechnology http://www.safenano.org/REFNANOSHFeature.aspx
REFNANO: Reference materials for engineered nanoparticle toxicology and metrology http://www.safenano.org/Uploads/REFNANOReport.pdf
Prioritization of Environmental, Health, And Safety Research Needs For Engineered Nanoscale Materials; an Interim Document for Public Comment
http://www.nano.gov/Prioritization_EHS_Research_Needs_Engineered_Nanoscale_Materials.pdf
Lack of Government Risk Research Strategy Jeopardizes Success of Technology http://www.nanotechproject.org/136

Reports Suggested for Review

IISS’s Strategic Survey 2007 Warns of Global Security Implications of Climate Change
Strategic Survey 2007 by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) is a comprehensive analysis of the world security situation in general and by region. The “Strategy Policy Issues” chapter includes ‘Climate Change: Security Implications and Regional Impacts’ and ‘The Military Use of Space’. The report lists the effects of climate change and nuclear proliferation as being on a par with growing Islamist extremism as the biggest security threats. It warns that “Even if effective measures are adopted, there will still be unavoidable impacts on the environment, economies and human security”; and, unless the right preparedness actions are taken, global security consequences of climate change could be equal in disruption to those of nuclear war.
Sources:
Strategic Survey 2007 http://www.iiss.org/publications/strategic-survey-2007
Global warming impact like "nuclear war" – report http://africa.reuters.com/top/news/usnBAN251297.html

Trends of Energy Use in IEA Countries
The International Energy Agency’s Energy Use in the New Millennium: Trends in IEA Countries is an analysis of trends in energy use and efficiency, as well as CO2 emissions in IEA countries. It concludes that the rate of energy efficiency improvement is too slow compared to increasing energy demands and it should at least double for a sustainable energy future and reduced impact on climate change. Rich in indicators on current energy use and CO2 emission patterns, the report is a good tool for policymakers for setting priorities for future actions.
Source:
Energy Use in the New Millennium -- Trends in IEA Countries http://www.iea.org/w/bookshop/add.aspx?id=312

U.S. Climate Change Science Program Progress Assessment
Evaluating Progress of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program: Methods and Preliminary Results by the National Research Council acknowledges advancements made by the CCSP in documenting and understanding global changes, but finds that more work is needed concerning regional impacts, human vulnerabilities, and mitigation and adaptation options, as well as improving communication with stakeholders and decision makers at all levels. Lack of adequate high-quality data from satellites––crucial to the advancement of climate change science––is identified as the single greatest threat to the future success of CCSP.
Source:
Progress of U.S. Climate Change Science Program Evaluated http://www.nationalacademies.org/morenews/20070913.html

Calendar with Environmental Deadlines Compliance
The 2008 Compliance Calendar by the Environmental Resource Center is an excellent tool summarizing the most important deadlines for compliance with U.S. environmental regulations and reporting. In addition to highlighting the deadlines, it also contains a summary of the most important environmental regulations and responsible organizations.
Sources:
New Calendar Ends Hunt for Environmental Deadlines http://www.emediawire.com/releases/2007/9/emw553751.htm
Compliance Calendar 2008 http://www.ercweb.com/docs/compliance_calendar.pdf

Other Environment-related Developments

US EPA recommendations for "Green Infrastructure"
US EPA has a website for "green infrastructure," with information about improving relationships between the built and natural environments.
Source:
Green infrastructure http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=298

NATO funds Environmental Security for Transition Countries’ Universities
To improve university capacities to address environmental security problems in the transition countries, NATO is funding Susan Allen-Gil of Ithaca College to convene an advanced research workshop with colleagues in Canada, Israel, and the Ukraine, to be held in Kharkiv, Ukraine in May 2008. Leading thinkers and practitioners in higher education and environmental security will be asked to “identify the best academic approaches for training university students in transition countries to address issues of environmental security from an interdisciplinary framework.”
Source:
Susan Allen-Gil Receives NATO Grant To Perform International Environmental Security Research http://www.ithaca.edu/intercom/article.php/20070831145907677

Environmental security among top three priorities in Australia-China talks
Among other things, China and Australia agreed during private talks during the September APEC meeting to cooperate on clean coal and nuclear energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They plan to continue annual strategic security meetings including environmental security matters.
Source:
Canberra, Beijing to hold annual security talks http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22365307-21703,00.html

Back to top


August 2007

UN to Shift Attention from Reaction to Prevention of Conflicts

The UN Security Council agreed that the UN should improve its capacity to prevent conflicts rather than just react after the conflicts have occurred. To move from a culture of ‘reaction’ to one of effective ‘prevention,’ more UN resources should be focused to identify possible causes of conflict and set up potential conflict detection systems, to promote preventive action in response to threats to international peace and security. Thus, efforts should increase to address the root causes of conflicts, develop early warning systems, mediate disputes, and coordinate efforts of UN bodies, regional organizations and others trying to prevent wars. Along the same lines, in fragile post-conflict countries, peacebuilding should be focused on issues that are potential causes for relapsing into conflict. Over the past five years, the UN has spent $18 billion on peacekeeping operations but has not devoted similar resources to conflict prevention. [See also UN Conflict Prevention Strategy Includes Environmental Dimension in August 2006 and UN Security Council Adds Natural Resources Management and Environmental Issues to Future Peacekeeping Missions in June 2007 environmental security reports]
Meantime, the International Policing Advisory Council (IPAC), which held a 2-day meeting in Canberra, Australia, highlighted the unprecedented global demand for UN peacekeepers and police officers, and stressed the importance of better cooperation with the UN to prevent and face conflict-related challenges.
Sources:
Security Council Reiterates Commitment to Conflict Prevention in Africa; Presidential Statement Follows Day-Long Debate http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2007/sc9105.doc.htm
U.N. spent $18 billion on peacekeeping in past five years, but not enough on conflict prevention http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/08/29/news/UN-GEN-UN-Conflict-Prevention.php
New York, 28 August 2007 - Secretary-General's remarks to the Security Council at open debate on conflict prevention and resolution, particularly in Africa
http://www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp?nid=2712
UN highlights growing role of international policing as global meeting opens in Australia http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23643&Cr=police&Cr1=


International Conferences Put Climate Change among Top Security Issues

Experts and politicians participating at a seminar on climate change held in Ny Alesund, Norway, called climate change the biggest security challenge since the Cold War. British climate change ambassador John Ashton said global warming should be considered a security issue on a par with terrorism, in order to increase global action to cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.
“Already seven times more livelihoods are devastated by natural disasters than by war worldwide, at the moment, and this is going to be much worse, the way the climate is developing,” noted Jan Egeland, special adviser on conflict prevention to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and former head of UN humanitarian affairs. He underlined again that “those most affected by climate change are the poorest since droughts and flooding will be getting worse.” The Vienna climate change talks organized by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change this month and attended by about 1,000 politicians, experts, activists, and representatives from the media from over 150 countries give equal importance to adaptation and mitigation. [See also UN General Assembly 61st Session Pinpoints Global Warming as a Central Issue for Security in September 2006 and UK Initiates UN Security Council Debate on Climate Change and Security in April 2007 environmental security reports]
Sources:
Climate change called security issue like Cold War http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/22093
Natural disasters more destructive than wars: Egeland http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070828/sc_afp/environmentclimate
Vienna UN conference shows consensus on key building blocks for effective international response to climate change
http://unfccc.int/files/press/news_room/press_releases_and_advisories/application/pdf/20070831_vienna_closing_press_release.pdf


Environmental Aspects of the Darfur Conflict

ICC Urged to Consider Environmental Crimes in Darfur Cases
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has begun the prosecution process related to the Darfur conflict, but so far there is no mention of environmental crime, although environmental degradation is recognized as one of the underlying causes of the region’s devastating war. Refugees, human rights groups and legal experts have urged the ICC to consider man-made environmental crimes along with terror and mass killings in the prosecution of Sudanese officials and Arab Janjaweed. They argue that the ecological crisis––recognized as partly caused by climate change––was aggravated by the destruction of vegetation, land, and food and water sources that was ordered by government officials to force people to move.
Sources:
Court Urged to Consider Environmental Crimes http://www.iwpr.net/?p=acr&s=f&o=338199&apc_state=henh
Environmental Crimes in Military Actions and the International Criminal Court (ICC)––UN Perspectives http://www.millennium-project.org/millennium/es-icc.html

Water Shortage for 2.2 Million in Refugee Camps Could Increase Darfur Conflict
Water shortage might impede the peace process in Darfur. The number of refugees in camps reached 2.2 million in July 2007 and the risk of unrest is increasing as the water wells are running dry. As stipulated by the UN Security Council’s resolution adopted in July, a joint UN-African Union force of 26,000 multinational peacekeepers should be deployed in the area. However, their deployment and work are jeopardized by lack of resources, mainly water.
Sources:
Darfur refugees strain tight water supplies http://www.mcclatchydc.com/226/story/19262.html
New York, 28 August 2007 - Secretary-General's press conference http://www.un.org/apps/sg/offthecuff.asp?nid=1060

Disputes over Oil Might Reignite Congo-Uganda Conflict
Since the discovery of oil at Lake Albert in the border region of Uganda and Congo, tension between the two counties has escalated. Uganda responded to a series of violent incidents with several casualties by increasing troops along the border, and the media were talking of a “possible invasion of Congo”. “This is about oil. The stakes are enormous,” says Congo's petroleum minister, Lambert Mende. Both Uganda––a poor country, and Congo––seeking to rebuild after a ruinous war, have high hopes in a better, oil-fueled, future. Negotiations on the future joint management of reserves began, although the reserves are not yet assessed.
Source:
Do you want to share or to fight?
http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displayStory.cfm?story_id=9687573&subjectID=381586&fsrc=nwl&emailauth=%2527%252D5%2527%253EP%255CGJ%2523%2520%2520D%250A


Asian New Strategy to Improve Health and Environment

At the First Ministerial Regional Forum on Environment and Health, held in Bangkok, August 8-9, 2007, top environmental and health officials from Southeast and East Asian countries adopted the Bangkok Declaration on Environment and Health. The Declaration aims to set up strategies to reduce the estimated 6.6 million annual deaths––representing approximately 25% of all deaths in the region in a year––attributable to various environmental health risks such as air pollution, solid and hazardous wastes, and numerous man-made disasters. The Declaration provides a mechanism for improving collaboration in policy and regulatory frameworks at the national and regional level, and promotes the implementation of integrated environmental health strategies and regulations. It covers areas from air and water quality, to hazardous substances and climate change––including contingency planning, preparedness and response to environmental health emergencies. A second Ministerial Regional Forum is planned for 2010.
Sources:
Bangkok Declaration calls for coordinated action on environment and health
http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=516&ArticleID=5652&l=en
Asian States adopt UN-backed plan to cut millions of deaths due to man-made disasters
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23474&Cr=pollution&Cr1=


Transport Canada Proposes New Vessel Operation Regulations

The Canadian Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities is proposing Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations as part of the Canada Shipping Act 2001 (CSA 2001), which came into effect on July 1, 2007. The new regulation will replace the existing Boating Restriction Regulations and includes restrictions on boating activities and navigation in Canadian waters as to type or speed of vessels, mode of propulsion and engine power, and access by vessels to specific areas. A 60-day comments period began on August 18, 2007, after the publication of the proposed regulations in the Canada Gazette. After consideration of all comments received, Transport Canada will finalize the regulations and publish them in the Canada Gazette, Part II, at which time they will come into effect.
Source:
Transport Canada Proposes Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations http://www.tc.gc.ca/mediaroom/releases/nat/2007/07-h156e.htm


Technological Breakthroughs with Environmental Security Implications

New Detection and Cleanup Technologies

Portable Sensor to Detect Exposure to Chemical or Nerve Agents
The U.S. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is developing a portable sensor able to identify exposure to chemical or nerve agents by testing blood or saliva samples. The device will be based on higher sensitivity test strips. Its development is funded by the National Institutes of Health and the project is estimated to take five years.
Source:
Truly sick or simply scared? http://www.pnl.gov/topstory.asp?id=265

Antibody-bearing Gel Can Disinfect Biologically Contaminated Areas
The Ectoplasm Project is developing an environmental cleanup material consisting of a polymer solution that contains antibodies to a biological agent, like anthrax. It is being developed by Anadis, of Melbourne, Australia, with funding from the Research Support for Counter Terrorism (RSCT) Programme. The antibody–based gel will allow decontamination teams to spray a possibly contaminated area with the substance, for biohazard detection, containment, and decontamination. The gel layer can be stripped off surfaces without damaging them, and discarded using safety precautions. The substance is expected to be ready for use in field operations worldwide within two years.
Sources:
Anadis receives $480k Government grant for biohazard“Ectoplasm” project
http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:VUs7GqNm4JQJ:www.anadis.com.au/admin/managedFiles/4/Government%2520grant%2520for%2520biohazard%2520Ectoplasm%2520project.pdf+anadis+ectoplasm&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us
Antibody-laden gel can clean up after anthrax attacks
http://www.newscientist.com/channel/health/mg19526156.500?DCMP=NLC-nletter&nsref=mg19526156.500

Advance in Assessing Metabolites of Diesel Exhaust component 1-nitropyrene in Humans
Researchers at Kanazawa University and the University of Washington reported developing a method for measuring metabolites of 1-nitropyrene (1-NT) in human urine. 1-NT is abundant in diesel exhaust particulates and a significant mutagenic agent. This appears to be a breakthrough in the quest for ways to evaluate human health effects of diesel engine emission inhalation.
Sources:
Identification and Quantification of 1-Nitropyrene Metabolites in Human Urine as a Proposed Biomarker for Exposure to Diesel Exhaust
http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/abstract.cgi/crtoec/2007/20/i07/abs/tx700015q.html (abstract only; payment or paid membership required for full article)
Measurement of 1-Nitropyrene Metabolites in Human Urine: A Potential Marker for Exposure to Diesel Exhaust

Landmine Detection by Using Ground-penetrating Radar Technique
A wide-band earth-penetrating radar offering promise of improved capability for landmine detection was developed by A. G. Yarovoy, P. van Genderen, and colleagues at the International Research Centre for Telecommunications-transmission and Radar of the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands.
Source:
Ground-breaking antilandmine radar http://www.physorg.com/printnews.php?newsid=107092841

Porous Semiconducting Aerogels Purify Water and Hydrogen
Scientists of the Argonne National Laboratory, together with colleagues at Northwestern and Michigan State Universities, have developed chalcogenide-based porous semiconducting aerogels which efficiently (99.99%) remove contaminants like heavy metals from water and also filter out catalyst-poisoning impurities from hydrogen intended for use in fuel cells.
Source:
New aerogels could clean contaminated water, purify hydrogen for fuel cells
http://www.anl.gov/Media_Center/News/2007/news070727.html

Increasing Energy Efficiency Technologies
Silicon Nanocrystals Promise More Efficient Solar Cells
Scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in Golden CO, have shown that silicon nanocrystals can increase the efficiency of conventional solar cells from its present 20% to 40%, at much lower cost than other approaches to high efficiency cells. [See also Nano-based Solar Cell Material Offers Inexpensive Alternative in July 2007 and other previous environmental security reports.]
Synthetic Biology to Produce Hydrocarbon-based Fuels
LS9, a synthetic biology company based in San Carlos, CA, has genetically engineered various bacteria, including E. coli, to custom-produce hydrocarbons that could be processed into fuel. A pilot plant is planned for 2008, and sales of synthetic biocrudes to refineries for further processing are expected within three to five years. Another company, Amyris Biotechnologies, of Emeryville, CA, is using plant and animal genes to make microbes produce renewable hydrocarbon-based fuels.
Nanotechnology Produces Battery/Capacitor in a Sheet of Paper
Scientists from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a device that resembles a sheet of paper in all respects, but that can serve as a battery or capacitor. The material is formed from cellulose and carbon nanotubes, and can be soaked with any of a variety of fluids (including sweat or blood) to serve as an electrolyte. It can operate at temperatures between -100 and +300 degrees Fahrenheit and can be printed like paper.
Sources:
Silicon Nanocrystals for Superefficient Solar Cells http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/19256
Making Gasoline from Bacteria http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=19128
Beyond Batteries: Storing Power in a Sheet of Paper http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2280&setappvar=page(1)

Anti-microbial Protective Coating
BioQuest Technologies, Inc. of Jupiter FL has produced an anti-microbial surface protectant, Bioshield®75, which greatly reduces the possibility of bacteria, mold, and mildew damage to surfaces subsequently exposed to such environmental occurrences as hurricanes. The material differs from other anti-microbial protective materials in being non-toxic; its efficacy results from the action of "sharp-pointed" molecules that puncture the cell walls of microbes. The puncturing atomic chains are too small to damage the cells of larger organisms.
MCH Nano Solutions, of Toronto ON, has introduced a protective product, Gens Nano, having the same objective. Their compound works through the photocatalytic action of nanoparticles of titanium dioxide that decompose the adhesive organic material holding pollutants onto a surface.
Sources:
How Bioshield®75 Works http://www.bioquestech.com/bioshield75how.shtml
Antimicrobial Nanotech Product Set To Protect Homes In Hurricane Areas http://www.azonano.com/news.asp?newsID=4714
Self-Cleaning Buildings Thanks to Nanotechnology and Green Chemistry http://www.pr.com/press-release/46970


Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Arctic Debate Intensifies
Debate over the Arctic ownership is intensifying, as Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the U.S. are all building their political and legal cases to claim jurisdiction over different (sometimes overlapping) areas. Russia declared that the first results show that the Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of Siberia, thus backing the country's bid to take control of the region. Denmark sent scientists on a month-long expedition seeking evidence that the Lomonosov Ridge is a geological extension of Greenland. Canada is determined to defend its sovereignty over the region's Northwest Passage and some Arctic territory; “We either use it or lose it. And make no mistake, this government intends to use it,” said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Canada is establishing an army training center at Resolute Bay (about 370 miles south of the North Pole) and a deepwater port on the north end of Baffin Island. “The Russians, Canadians and Danes all have overlapping claims in the polar region. It is unclear how this can be resolved,” said Øystein Jensen, a maritime law expert with Oslo's Fridtjof Nansen Institute.
Sources:
Canada and Denmark join rush to claim Arctic
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=XBKYMMSKBIQC3QFIQMFSFFWAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/news/2007/08/11/warctic111.xml
Canada Announces Arctic Base, Port http://www.newsvine.com/_news/2007/08/10/890132-canada-announces-arctic-base-port
Drawing lines in melting ice http://economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9660012+
Preliminary results of Russian Arctic expedition released
http://english.pravda.ru/russia/economics/28-08-2007/96385-arctic_expedition-0
Nations scramble for oil in Arctic
http://www.newscientist.com/channel/opinion/mg19526172.700-nations-scramble-for-oil-in-arctic.html (by subscription only)
Climate change may open a new route between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans
http://clipsyndicate.com/publish/video/381242?wpid=47 (video clip)
Denmark Maps Arctic Ridge in Claim Race
http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6840878,00.html
Denmark joins race to claim North Pole
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/08/12/wpole112.xml
Who resolves Arctic oil disputes?
http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0820/p01s02-woeu.html
Tougher rules urged to protect Arctic
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4b6e821e-4e74-11dc-85e7-0000779fd2ac.html
German Foreign Minister Warns Against Exploiting Arctic
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2756813,00.html

Biotechnology Risk in Africa
Advancing developments in biosciences in Africa raise the risks of their potential misuse, thus increasing the need to develop adequate mechanisms for preventing the development and spread of biological weapons. For raising awareness on biosecurity issues and discussing the development of strategies that would encourage biotechnology research without jeopardizing security, a series of workshops were held––notably in Kenya and Uganda, two emerging biotech nations that are not yet properly engaged in international biosecurity policy deliberations. It was emphasized that Africa has to develop its own strategy, adapted to its own specific needs and conditions to reduce the risk of misuse, as well as to mitigate the damage to African scientific development in case of the use of biotechnology for harmful purposes. Africa should also develop a stronger position on regulatory issues and get more engaged in international negotiations related to biosecurity. [See also ETC Report Warns of the Threat of Synthetic Biology and Calls for Global Regulations in January 2007 and other environmental security reports on the same issue.]
Source:
Africa must commit to biosecurity measures
http://www.scidev.net/Opinions/index.cfm?fuseaction=readOpinions&itemid=654&language=1

Climate Change

Intensified Disasters
Between 2004 and 2006, the number of emergencies due to natural disasters doubled, from 200 to 400, reports the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR). This year’s monsoon affected an estimated 30 million in South Asia. Millions of Africans were also affected by flooding throughout the continent, hundreds of thousands being forced from their homes, and many more deprived of food and other supplies. Noting that over the next 20 years more serious weather-related events are expected, UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Margareta Wahlström called for swift preparedness strategies and early warning systems.
Researchers warn that risks of flooding might be higher than expected, if factoring in the “stomata effect”––reduced ability of plants to suck water out of the ground due to higher CO2 levels. The regional impact of this phenomenon will differ, but in Asia, Europe, and North America, it could mean worse flooding.

Melting Glaciers and Sea Ice
At the beginning of August, the Arctic sea ice shrank to the lowest extent ever recorded by satellite, and it might be close to reaching a “critical threshold”––which could mean that the region might be ice-free in summer in the next 10 to 20 years, notes the US National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. Scientists and politicians from 13 countries attending a seminar at Ny Alesund, Norway (the world's most northern permanent settlement, and a base for Arctic research), also said that the Arctic might be ice-free in summer by the middle of the century, much earlier then estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).. They also noted the appearance of previously unknown islands in the region as glaciers recede, as well as the implications for the wildlife–– mainly polar bears and seals.
Meanwhile, the Tibet Meteorological Bureau reported that the average annual temperatures in Tibet are rising at a rate of 0.3o Celsius (0.54° Fahrenheit) every 10 years, due to global warming, thus accelerating the melting of the region’s glaciers.

Rising Sea Levels
A report by Guangdong weather authorities estimates that 1,153 square kilometers of coastline along the Pearl River Delta would be flooded by the rising sea-levels by 2050 due to global warming. Major cities such as Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Foshan in the most economically dynamic region of China are expected to be the worst hit. Egypt is facing similar worries, as rising waters of the Nile Delta might force millions of people to move The population of the already densely populated Delta––about 4,000 people per square mile––is expected to double by the middle of the century. Since nearly half of Egypt's crops, including wheat, bananas and rice, are grown in the Delta, the flooding would also gravely damage Egypt's food supply.

Adaptation
Tackling climate change in the next quarter-century will require major changes to patterns of investment and financial flows, according to the report Investment and financial flows relevant to the development of effective and appropriate international response to Climate Change by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The report found that an annual $67 billion in 2030 “may represent the lower bound of the amount actually required” to help people in developing countries cope with climate change effects, and the additional amount of investment and financial flows might reach 1.1–1.7% of global investment. The report calls for changes in patterns of investment and policy in order to adapt to climate change, as well as to reduce emissions in the next 25 years to 2004 levels.

Climate Modeling
The newly established Centre for Climate Change Adaptation in Australia has developed a model to study coastal vulnerability to climate change––the effects of storms, floods and tsunamis on Australia's coastal infrastructure, communities and ecosystems, providing decision-makers the information and tools for better strategies and policies to address climate change impacts.
Climate modelers from the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in Exeter, UK, have developed a new methodology that predicts more accurately climate changes a decade ahead. The model shows that by 2015 the average global temperature will be 0.5 °C above the average value for the last 30 years, and that between 2009 and 2015, half of the years will be warmer than the current warmest year on record.
The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies has developed the first climate model that can estimate the effect of atmospheric warming on the strength of storms. Considering a hypothetical warming of 5° Fahrenheit over today’s temperature, it reveals that violent storms and tornadoes may become more common with warming.

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The climate change talks organized by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Vienna, Austria, August 27-31, 2007, represented the fourth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG 4) and the fourth workshop under the dialogue on long-term cooperative action to address climate change by enhancing implementation of the Convention. Over 1,000 delegates from 158 countries agreed that a global approach is crucial in tackling climate change and its effects, and prepared the way for further negotiations for a post-Kyoto treaty to be discussed at the December summit in Bali.
Climate change and post-Kyoto strategies are also expected to top the agenda of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to be held on September 8. The 21 APEC countries account for 60% of global energy demand, and their needs are expected to double by 2030.
Meanwhile, the secretariat of the UNFCCC released first results indicating that countries will meet criteria to begin trading in Kyoto emission allowances for 2008, the first year of the Treaty’s first commitment period.
Sources:
The ISDR urges every country to implement the Hyogo Framework for action to reduce climate-related risks Disaster risk reduction is not an option; it is an urgent priority
http://www.unisdr.org/eng/media-room/press-release/2007/pr-2007-10-hfa.pdf
In face of devastating Asian floods disaster risk reduction is urgent priority – UN
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23472&Cr=flood&Cr1=
Tougher rules urged to protect Arctic
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4b6e821e-4e74-11dc-85e7-0000779fd2ac.html
Climate flooding risk 'misjudged'
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6969122.stm
Long-Term Efforts Needed for South Asian Flood Recovery, Says UN Agency
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23463&Cr=flood&Cr1=
Press Conference by UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator on Recent Floods in South Asia
http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs//2007/070809_Wahlstrom.doc.htm
Ice cap meltdown to cause 22ft floods
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2007/08/16/eaice116.xml
Flooding Affecting Millions
http://allafrica.com/stories/printable/200708220836.html
19 million are made homeless after monsoon deluges India
http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1212122007
Leaf 'sweat glands' to worsen future flooding
http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn12559-leaf-sweat-glands-to-worsen-future-flooding.html
Islands emerge as Arctic ice shrinks to record low
http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSL2069726720070821?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&pageNumber=2
Rising sea threatens China's south: report
http://www.terradaily.com/2007/070830061011.swmxva5e.html
Global warming threatens Egypt's Nile Delta
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-08-23-egypt-nile-threat_N.htm
UN Seeks Measures to Combat Climate Change Crises (Update1) http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601086&sid=a8EAvfD5BgIA&refer=latin_america
Investment and financial flows relevant to the development of effective and appropriate international response to Climate Chang http://unfccc.int/cooperation_and_support/financial_mechanism/items/4053.php
Australia First to Model Continental Shoreline Climate Impacts http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/aug2007/2007-08-23-01.asp
Prepare for another ten scorching years http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn12453-prepare-for-another-ten-scorching-years.html
Global warming will bring stronger storms and tornadoes http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Global_warming_will_bring_stronger_storms_tornadoes_study_999.html
NASA Study Predicts More Severe Storms With Global Warming http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2007/moist_convection.html
Vienna Climate Change Talks 2007 http://unfccc.int/meetings/intersessional/awg_4_and_dialogue_4/items/3999.php
UN-backed global climate change meeting kicks off http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23602&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
Australian PM Says APEC to Tackle Energy Savings http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/43975/story.htm
Background paper on Analysis of existing and planned investment and financial flows relevant to the development of effective and appropriate international response to climate change http://unfccc.int/files/cooperation_and_support/financial_mechanism/application/pdf/background_paper.pdf
Vienna Climate Change Talks 2007. AWG4 and the Dialogue 4 http://www.iisd.ca/climate/awg4/
Kyoto Protocol Parties move closer to trading emission allowances http://unfccc.int/files/press/news_room/press_releases_and_advisories/application/pdf/070830_press_rel_itl.pdf
Countries agree on need of global response at UN climate change conference http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23671&Cr=climate&Cr1=


Nanotechnology Safety Issues

Current Developments/Activities on the Safety of Manufactured Nanomaterials/Nanotechnologies report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) summarizes the 2nd Meeting of the Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials held in Berlin, Germany, April 25-27 2007. It catalogs the initiatives in industrialized countries to address the health and environmental safety implications of manufactured nanomaterials organized by progress since the first meeting and work underway or planned in the country or organization. The recommended headings were:
1. Any national regulatory developments on human health and environmental safety including recommendations or discussions related to adapting existing regulatory systems or the drafting of laws/ regulations/ guidance materials;
2. Developments related to voluntary or stewardship schemes;
3. Information on any risk assessment decisions;
4. Information on any developments related to good practice documents;
5. Research programmes or strategies designed to address human health and/ or environmental safety aspects of nanomaterials;
6. Information on any public/ stakeholder consultation.
Source:
Environment Directorate. Joint meeting of the chemicals committee and the working party on chemicals, pesticides and biotechnology current developments/ activities on the safety of manufactured nanomaterials/ nanotechnologies http://appli1.oecd.org/olis/2007doc.nsf/linkto/env-jm-mono(2007)16

EPA Conference on Nanoscale Materials
On 13 August EPA announced that it will be holding a Peer Consultation on Materials Characterization of Nanoscale Materials: September 6-7, 2007, in Rosslyn VA. The meeting's goal is to help develop EPA's Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program (NMSP) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). EPA is requesting comment on characteristics currently used or potentially available to characterize nanoscale materials, rationale for the use of these characteristics, and issues to consider regarding use of these characteristics in the NMSP.
Sources:
Meeting website: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/nano/mc-mtginfo.htm
Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program http://www.epa.gov/oppt/nano/index.htm#stewardship

Study Shows Nanotube Manufacture May Pollute Environment
A study by Desirée L. Plata and colleagues at MIT, reported at the 234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, has shown that chemical vapor deposition, one of the main methods for making carbon nanotubes, can release into the environment various toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and other hydrocarbons that are harmful to the atmosphere and human health.
Source:
Helping the carbon nanotube industry avoid mega-mistakes of the past http://www.physorg.com/news106894749.html

Canada published a new Substances Program Advisory Note 2007-06, Requirements for nanomaterials under the New Substances Notification Regulations (Chemicals and Polymers)
Source:
New Substances Program Advisory Note 2007-06. Requirements for nanomaterials under the New Substances Notification Regulations (Chemicals and Polymers)
http://www.ec.gc.ca/substances/nsb/eng/a200706_e.shtml

The Nanotechnology Engagement Group published its final report, Democratic technologies? addressing public involvement, dialogues, and ethical aspects of nanotechnology.
Source:
Democratic technologies? The final report of the Nanotechnology Engagement Group (NEG)
http://83.223.102.125/involvenew/mt/archives/blog_37/Democratic%20Technologies.pdf

Back to top


July 2007

Tougher Law of the Sea Regulations Suggested for Marine Genetic Resources

The UN Open-ended Informal Consultation Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea produced some recommendations for improving the management and protection of marine genetic resources, including designing enforceable regulations along with liabilities and responsibilities related to marine genetic resources; increasing protection of the marine environment from the effects of man-made factors; and encouraging collaborative research, access and use of marine resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Although the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is recognized as the legal framework for all activities in the oceans and seas, there is disagreement on how the Convention applies to marine genetic resources in areas outside national jurisdictions. The G-77 group of developing countries and China consider marine genetic resources “common heritage of mankind”; while Japan, the U.S. and some other developed countries argue that they fall under the provisions relating to the high seas. The debate will continue in 2008 at the UN Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group on issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction.
Sources:
United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea http://www.un.org/Depts/los/consultative_process/consultative_process.htm
States Reach Partial Agreement on Marine Genetic Resources at UN Talks
http://www.newsletterarchive.org/2007/06/30/180929-STATES+REACH+PARTIAL+AGREEMENT+ON+MARINE+GENETIC+RESOURCES+AT+UN+TALKS
Countries Address Marine Genetic Resources at UN Talks http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23037&Cr=Law&Cr1=Sea
Uncertainty Hindering Management of Marine Genetic Resources, UN Meeting Told http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23072&Cr=law&Cr1=sea


New Policies for Addressing Climate Change

Corporate CEOs Pledge Actions on Climate Change at UN Global Compact Summit
More than 150 CEOs signed the “Caring for Climate” platform at the UN Global Compact Summit held in Geneva July 5-7, including 30 from the Fortune Global 500. The pledge called for companies to reduce their carbon emissions and meet energy-efficiency targets, and called on governments to establish post-Kyoto market mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Sources:
Companies pledge at U.N. to cut carbon burdens http://www.reuters.com/article/ousiv/idUSL0654572920070706
Participants Pledge to Pursue More Sustainable, Inclusive Economy http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/eco119.doc.htm
Caring For Climate: The Business Leadership Platform (text of the statement)
http://www.unglobalcompact.com/docs/issues_doc/Environment/CaringforClimate_27June.pdf
Companies Commit to Reducing Climate Risks http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5194

Regional Initiatives for Climate Change

EU Climate Change Policy
The European Commission launched a six-month public debate on approaches for adapting to climate change. Citizens, Parliaments, Member States and international partners will contribute views along the lines set by the Green Paper “Adapting to Climate Change in Europe - Options for EU Action” launched in June 2007 [see last month’s report item on Climate Change]. The results, available at the beginning of 2008, will be considered in policymaking and setting priorities for developing a EU adaptation strategy by the end of 2008.
Meantime, UK Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, listed climate change among the UK Foreign Office’s ten ‘strategic priorities’, on a par with consequences of extremism, radicalization, and conflict. He noted that climate change might become the “new raison d’être” for the EU, as “one of the greatest threats to our future prosperity and security… Creating an Environmental Union is as big a challenge in the 21st century as peace in Europe was in the 1950s” he said.

Asia-Pacific to Increase Responses to Climate Change
Anticipating that Asia and the Pacific could be one of the regions most severely affected by climate change, a two-day meeting organized by the UN and other international agencies focused on identifying strategies, business models, and financial frameworks to reduce the impact of climate changes and promote clean energy while pursuing economic growth. Recommendations were made by government policymakers, business leaders, academics, and representatives of NGOs from across the region. Meanwhile, Australia’s opposition Labor Party announced that it would give its poorer neighbors $US132 million to address impacts of climate change.
Sources:
Adaptation to climate change: it may be a matter of survival! Stavros Dimas, Member of the European Commission, responsible for environment
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/07/457&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Climate change: Europe must take adaptation measures to lessen impacts of current and future warming
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/979&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Adapting to Climate Change –Launching a public debate on options for EU Action http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/pdf/eccp/adapting.pdf
New Diplomacy: Challenges for Foreign Policy (Rt Hon David Miliband MP, Foreign Secretary)
http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029391647&a=KArticle&aid=1184751108322
Asian-Pacific countries discuss responses to climate change at UN-backed meeting http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=23270&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
Asia-Pacific Examines Ways to Scale Up Responses to Climate Change http://www.unescap.org/unis/press/2007/jul/g29.asp
Australia's opposition ties Pacific climate to security http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/news/stories/s1987423.htm


EC Proposal for Water Pricing

The European Commission released a green paper proposing a water framework directive to deal with possible future water scarcity and assure sustainable water use in Europe. Feedback on specific proposals for pricing water on the “user pays” principle is expected from both the European Council and the Parliament. The EC warns that water shortage and drought might become the norm in Europe by 2070.
Source:
Commission opens debate on EU water scarcity http://www.theparliament.com/EN/News/200707/58fe829f-2224-462f-a5bc-81eadd80e13e.htm
Water scarcity and droughts in Europe: Commission addresses key challenge http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1121&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Water policy in the European Union http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/quantity/scarcity_en.htm


EU Preparing New Directives on Waste Management and Water Quality

The EU Environment Council reached political agreement on revising the EU's waste legislation––combining three existing laws: the Waste Framework Directive, the Hazardous Waste Directive, and the Waste Oils Directive into a more clear but comprehensive new Directive––and on managing water quality by improving standards and control systems and limiting pollution from hazardous substances.
Source:
Environment: Commission welcomes Council agreements
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/970&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en


Technological Breakthroughs with Environmental Security Implications

Polymer Dielectric Promises Higher Energy Storage
North Carolina State Univ. physicist Vivek Ranjan and colleagues have discovered that combining the polymer polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) with chlorotrifluoroethylene (CTFE)–– another polymer— produces a dielectric material that may allow capacitors to store up to seven times more energy than those currently in use.
Source:
Unique Material May Allow Capacitors to Store More Energy http://news.ncsu.edu/releases/2007/July/123.html

Synthetic Biology to Combat Harmful 'Biofilms'
A team of researchers from MIT and Boston University has genetically engineered an E. coli bacteriophage to produce an enzyme that degrades the biofilm that the bacterium often produces and which interferes with the action of the phage. The researchers applied this technique to E. coli biofilms, (producing a hundred-fold phage performance improvement) but they believe that their approach can be used with many other bacteria. For example, it might be possible for a modified anthrax bacteriophage to be sprayed on an area affected by anthrax, and then wiped off.
Sources:
Team builds viruses to combat harmful 'biofilms' http://www.physorg.com/news102951008.html

Nano-based Solar Cell Material Offers Inexpensive Alternative
Scientists at New Jersey Institute of Technology's Department of Chemistry and Environmental Sciences have developed an inexpensive polymer solar cell material that can be painted or printed on flexible plastic sheets. The material uses a carbon nanotube complex combined with buckyball fullerenes, and offers a cost advantage over purified silicon. [See also Biologically Based Dyes Dramatically Lower Solar Cell Costs in April 2007 and Photonic Crystal Provides 50% Cost Reduction in March 2007 environmental security reports.]
Source:
NJIT Researchers Develop Inexpensive, Easy Process To Produce Solar Panels http://www.njit.edu/publicinfo/press_releases/release_1040.php

Tiny Cantilevers Detect Contaminants
Prof. Anja Boisen and colleagues at the Department of Micro- and Nanotechnology, Technical University of Denmark, have created a detection device for contaminants, based on the change in resistance of a cantilever, 40×200 microns in size, when a contaminant molecule or bacterium binds to its antibody-coated surface and bends it. A variation works by using a similar element as the lid of a pigment-containing box, so when the strip bends, it releases a detectable color.
Source:
Using Nanotechnology to Detect Contaminants in Food and Water http://www.azonano.com/news.asp?newsID=4535
Rapid molecular detection of food- and water-borne diseases http://www.sgm.ac.uk/pubs/micro_today/pdf/080703.pdf

Magnetic Resonance Provides Short-range Power Source
Marin Soljacic of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a technique for transmitting electric power at usable efficiency over distances of a few meters, using tailored oscillating electric and magnetic fields. Dr. Zhong Lin Wang and colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology have succeeded in using nanotechnology to produce an electric generator that can be embedded in the human body and may have the potential, when fully developed, of producing usable amounts of power from such mechanical sources as the pulsation of the arterial system. The combination offers locally produced, locally consumed, and environmentally friendly electricity.
Source:
Cutting the last cord could resonate with our increasingly gadget-dependent lives http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20070721/bob8.asp
Nanogenerator Could Draw Energy from Human Blood http://news.softpedia.com/news/Nanogenerator-Could-Draw-Energy-from-Human-Blood-60580.shtml


New Software with Environmental Security Implications

NASA-Developed Model to Help Reduce Famine
Researchers from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center have developed a computer model to anticipate food shortages brought on by drought, combining data from satellite remote sensing of crop growth, and food prices.
Source:
NASA Researchers Find Satellite Data Can Warn of Famine http://www.nasa.gov/lb/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2007/famine_data.html

Software Package Monitors Buildings' Power
The Sun Flow Monitor System software package marketed by Live Data Systems, Inc., Branchburg NJ, monitors a building’s power sources, conventional or alternative, and its building management systems. This new software produces reports, which can aid in minimizing the structure’s environmental demand.
Source:
New Software Helps Gauge Buildings' Energy Use, Emissions http://www.greenbiz.com/news/news_third.cfm?NewsID=35457
Company site: http://s205030653.onlinehome.us/


Updates on Previously Identified Issues

OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Agrees to Advance Work on Environmental Security Strategy
Further to last month’s item on the OSCE Environmental Security Strategy: the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly passed the resolution to support efforts of OSCE’s 56 participating States and 11 Partners “to tackle environmental security threats and thus to promote stability;” to continue work, “to develop an Environmental Security Strategy for the Organization to be debated at the OSCE Ministerial Council in November in Madrid;” to recommend that “the OSCE works closely together with OSCE participating states as well as national and other international organizations experienced in the field of environmental security; and “Calls upon OSCE participating countries to develop their own environmental security strategies.”
Source:
Kyiv Declaration of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and Resolutions Adopted at the Sixteenth Annual Session; Kyiv, 5 to 9 July 2007 http://www.oscepa.dk/admin/getbinary.asp?FileID=1733
Resolution on Environmental Security Strategy http://www.oscepa.dk/admin/getbinary.asp?FileID=1733
Annual Sessions & Declarations http://www.oscepa.dk/index.aspx?articleid=+376+376

EC's WEEE Directive Goes into Effect in UK in July 2007
The European Commission's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive entered into effect in the United Kingdom on July 1, 2007, after having been effective in the rest of Europe since August 2005. The WEEE Directive is a framework concerning electrical and electronic appliances disposal in order to minimize impacts of this kind of waste on the environment. Among other stipulations, the directive requires that all such devices manufactured in the EU bear a label requiring mandatory recycling. [See also E-waste Management Directive Came into Effect on August 13, 2005 in August 2005 environmental security report]
Sources:
New obligations for end-of-life IT equipment http://www.business4brunch.com/content/view/207/25/
The IT Chief's Guide to WEEE http://greenercomputing.com/reviews_third.cfm?NewsID=35442

EU Waste Shipment Legislation Came into Force in July 2007
The EU legislation on transboundary shipments of waste adopted in 2006 came into effect July 12, 2007. The regulation establishes a legal framework to ensure that waste is properly handled from the time it is shipped to the time it is disposed of or recovered at destination, and bans the export and/or disposal of hazardous waste to certain countries. The new law replaces the 1993 waste shipment regulation, stipulating a more clear and simplified framework, as well as more severe enforcement measures. [See also EU to Increase Environmental Regulations Enforcement in October 2006, Toxic Waste Disposal of Global Growing Concern in September 2006, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Environment: new EU waste shipment legislation comes into force today http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/1078&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/oj/2006/l_190/l_19020060712en00010098.pdf
Waste shipments http://ec.europa.eu/environment/waste/shipments/legis.htm

Arctic Access, Territorial Claims, Energy Resources and Environmental Management
Global warming is expected to increase access to the Northwest Passage and other Arctic areas. Canada announced the construction of up to eight Polar Class 5 Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships and the establishment of a deep-water port in the far North. A Canadian opposition party and some Canadian analysts say Canada should do much more to assure its sovereignty over the area. The status of some Canadian Arctic waters is not clear among the relevant neighboring counties with varying territorial claims in the Arctic. Russia planted its flag on the seabed 4.2 km below the North Pole to strengthen its claims over a large Arctic area. [See also The Disputes over the Northern Territories Set to Continue in June 2007, New Canadian Strategies for Monitoring the Northwest Passage in August 2006, and Arctic Northern Passage Opens New International Issues of Regulation in February 2006 environmental security reports.]
Source:
Ottawa buying up to 8 Arctic patrol ships http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2007/07/09/arctic-cda.html
Arctic patrol ship purchase met with skepticism http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2007/07/10/north-shipreax.html
The Coming Conflict in the Arctic. Russia and the United States to Square off over Arctic Energy Reserves http://www.russiaprofile.org/page.php?pageid=International&articleid=a1184076124
Russia plants flag under N Pole http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6927395.stm

Accelerating Synthetic Biology Applications Need Better Monitoring and Regulation
Recently, there were some significant synthetic biology advances, such as the Genome transplant by the J. Craig Venter Institute (transforming one type of bacterium into another by transplanting of donor chromosome into the host), and MIT and Boston University built viruses to combat harmful 'biofilms' (see item 5.2 above). These developments increased the discourse around security issues related to synthetic biology, thus intensifying the regulations debate. International treaties such as the Convention on Biological Diversity might need to be revised in view of the new synthetic biology field. Along the same line, the International Consortium for Polynucleotide Synthesis appeals for improved regulation and surveillance of DNA synthesis products. They propose an oversight framework to improve biosecurity in the gene-synthesis sector, to prevent ill-intentioned individuals from accessing and using such materials. [See also Futuristic Nanotech and Synthetic Bioweapons Regulation in November 2006 and ETC Report Warns of the Threat of Synthetic Biology and Calls for Global Regulations in January 2007 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Synthetic Biology 3.0 http://www.innovationwatch.com/choiceisyours/choiceisyours-2007-07-15.htm
First Bacterial Genome Transplantation Changes One Species To Another http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070628232413.htm
Genome Transplantation in Bacteria: Changing One Species to Another http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1144622
Scientists Build Bacteria-Killing Organisms From Scratch http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/07/designer-virus-.html
NBICS and the Convention on Biological diversity (CBD) http://politicsofhealth.org/wol/2007-06-30.htm
Government Oversight Sought for Gene Synthesis http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2007_7_23.html#6805AC84
DNA synthesis and biological security http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v25/n6/abs/nbt0607-627.html;jsessionid=A7690C7549ADA0D4A2EC6D17EA7BCE2D

IAEA to Improve Nuclear Security in 35 Countries
The EU contributed €7 million to IAEA’s Nuclear Security Fund to improve nuclear security in 35 countries, including 27 in Africa. The focus will be to secure radioactive materials and sites at risk of sabotage and improve capabilities to detect and respond to illicit trafficking in some African countries, including Ghana, South Africa, Morocco, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The program will also work to strengthen national legislation and regulatory infrastructures related to nuclear and radioactive material in––among other countries ––Azerbaijan, Cape Verde, Comoros, Croatia, Swaziland, and the Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia. Despite the latest contribution, “IAEA’s nuclear security programme remained 90 per cent funded through unpredictable and heavily conditioned voluntary contributions,” notes IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.
Source:
Nuclear Security in Africa Gets €7 Million Boost http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/News/2007/nuclsecafrica.html

Climate Change Research
Melting Glaciers
Ice caps and glaciers contribute 60% of the ice melting that is one cause of increasing sea levels. According to scientists from the University of Colorado-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, INSTAAR, and the Russian Academy of Sciences, the rate has been accelerating over the past decade and 28% of this comes from Greenland, and 12% from Antarctica.
In the Andes, many of the lower glaciers might be gone over the next decade or so, raising concerns over water and power supplies, and thus affecting economic development and the fight against poverty in the region––mainly in Peru.
Scientists observing the modifications in Greenland are also warning of fast paced melting and increasing temperatures in the region. Arctic climatologist Konrad Steffen who spent the past 18 springs on the Greenland ice cap, noted that over the last decade, the average winter temperature rose by 7ºF, and cracks and ice quakes are more frequent, as if Greenland is “coming apart.” The Greenland Climate Network established by Steffen serves climate scientists worldwide and is one of the main instruments used by scientists from 60 nations participating in interdisciplinary research focusing on the Polar Regions, during the International Polar Year.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences reports that the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau is warming at 0.7ºF a decade, and that the 18,000 square mile area covered by glaciers has shrunk by 30% over the past decades, threatening to dry up the Yellow River and thus causing more droughts, sandstorms and desertification. The Chinese government already had to relocate some of the local population.
Rising Sea Level
During the recent meeting at the UN Open-ended Informal Consultation Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea, Indonesia said it has lost 26 islands to climate change.
A team of scientists from the University of Colorado-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, INSTAAR, and the Russian Academy of Sciences estimates that by 2100 accelerating melt of glaciers and ice caps could cause 0.1–0.25m (4–9.5 inches) additional sea level rise. This rise might be doubled if the expansion of ocean water warming is factored in.
Sources:
Glaciers Dominate Eustatic Sea-Level Rise in the 21st Century
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1143906 (abstract; full text by subscription only)
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/1143906/DC1 (supporting online material)
Glaciers and Ice Caps Quickly Melting Into the Seas http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jul2007/2007-07-20-03.asp
Glacial melting poses potentially costly problems for Peru and Bolivia http://www.economist.com/world/la/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9481517
Konrad Steffen: The Global Warming Prophet http://www.popsci.com/popsci/environment/6661e3568cc83110vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html
Warming of glaciers threatens millions in China http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/08/01/MN2VRAKIH2.DTL
United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea http://www.un.org/Depts/los/consultative_process/consultative_process.htm
States Reach Partial Agreement on Marine Genetic Resources at UN Talks
http://www.newsletterarchive.org/2007/06/30/180929-STATES+REACH+PARTIAL+AGREEMENT+ON+MARINE+GENETIC+RESOURCES+AT+UN+TALKS
Asia-Pacific Examines Ways to Scale Up Responses to Climate Change http://www.unescap.org/unis/press/2007/jul/g29.asp

North American Trilateral Agreement for Energy Security and the Environment
Energy ministers for Canada, Mexico and the U.S. endorsed the first trilateral agreement on energy science and technology––a framework designed to enhance North American energy security and environmental protection. It focuses on cooperation in energy science and technology to increase energy efficiency and advance clean energy technologies across North America and the world. Energy security will also be high on the agenda of the North American Leaders’ Summit to be held August 20-21 in Montebello, Quebec.
Source:
North American Energy Ministers Take Further Action on Energy Security and the Environment http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/media/newsreleases/2007/200766_e.htm

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
Some noteworthy nanotech-related events include:
The European Commission (EC) invites comments on the proposed Recommendation on a Code of Conduct for Responsible Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies Research. The Commission intends to collect views on the safe development of NST from a broad audience, ranging from research, industry, civil society, policy and media, and the general public.
The UK’s Royal Society and a group of other organizations have begun an initiative to develop a "Responsible NanoCode" for businesses working with nanotechnologies. According to Nanowerk, "The aim of the Code will be to establish a set of internationally relevant principles which outline good practice for businesses involved in all aspects of these emerging technologies and their applications including research, development, manufacturing, distribution and retailing." The code will be developed by a working group of representatives from a variety of stakeholders.
A U.S. Congressional bill ‘To ensure the development and responsible stewardship of nanotechnology’ was referred on July 31, 2007 to the Committee on Science and Technology, and in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Homeland Security.
A "Pollution Prevention through Nanotechnology" conference will be held September 25-26, 2007, in Arlington, VA. The forum is organized by EPA to improve understanding of nanotechnology and to “encourage responsible development of nanotechnology that prevents pollution.”
Source:
Entry point to the survey (managed via Sinapse(r) communication system)
http://ec.europa.eu/sinapse/sinapse/index.cfm?fuseaction=login.guestform&redirect=cmtypubdischome.home&CMTY_ID=4E10DF9B-C446-4B22-214E55DE322F72D9&cmty_disc_id=9C2891B3-D043-41F9-2DD3F3E6174CBA7A&request=1
Responsible nanotechnology code for business to be developed http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=2252.php
H.R.3235. Title: To ensure the development and responsible stewardship of nanotechnology http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:HR03235:@@@T
Pollution Prevention through Nanotechnology Conference: September 25-26, 2007 http://www.epa.gov/oppt/nano/nano-confinfo.htm


Reports Suggested for Review

Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2007
Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2007–– Analysis of Trends and Issues in the Financing of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in OECD and Developing Countries is a report by UNEP Sustainable Energy Finance Initiative and New Energy Finance organization. It is an overview of the financial aspect of the current status of sustainable energy development, with regional and sectoral trends. The analysis is intended for stakeholders and policy makers with involvement in sustainable energy.
Source:
Global Trends in Sustainable Energy Investment 2007–– Analysis of Trends and Issues in the Financing of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in OECD and Developing Countries http://www.unep.org/pdf/SEFI_report-GlobalTrendsInSustainableEnergyInverstment07.pdf

Renewable Energy Projects May Face New Scrutiny
According to a paper published in Inderscience's International Journal of Nuclear Governance, Economy and Ecology, some renewable energy sources might not be so green and might even be damaging to the environment. The paper’s author, Jesse Ausubel, Director of the Rockefeller University's Program for the Human Environment in New York, focuses primarily on land use efficiency of the various alternatives (e.g. wind, biomass, hydro), and points to nuclear as the best choice from the standpoint of minimizing environmental footprint.
Source:
Renewable energy wrecks environment, scientist claims http://www.world-science.net/othernews/070724_renewable.htm

Back to Top


June 2007

UN Nuclear Terrorism Convention Enters into Force on July 7, 2007

The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism enters into force on July 7, 2007; about two years after Member States adopted it, in April 2005. It is one of the measures to reduce risks posed by nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, and is the 13th international instrument on terrorism. The Nuclear Terrorism Convention creates an international legal framework that will help countries enhance their nuclear security and collaborate to prevent terrorist groups from gaining access to nuclear material. It should also add strength to the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. As of the end of June, the Convention has 115 signatories and 23 Parties.
Sources:
International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism http://untreaty.un.org/ENGLISH/bible/englishinternetbible/partI/chapterXVIII/treaty19.asp
Ban Ki-moon welcomes new agreement to defeat nuclear terrorism http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=22892&Cr=nuclear&Cr1=

UN Security Council Adds Natural Resources Management and Environmental Issues to Future Peacekeeping Missions

A Security Council session dedicated to assessing the link between natural resources and conflict concluded that efforts should increase to improve natural resources management––mainly in failed or vulnerable states––so that their use contributes to post-conflict recovery, rather than fueling conflict. Monitoring and certification systems similar to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme––concerning “conflict diamonds”––should be developed or emulated to stop illegal exploitation of resources, which triggers, exacerbates, or maintains conflict. The Council report added: In the case of peacekeeping and peacebuilding, the Council should ensure that the root causes of conflicts and the role of resources as a contributing factor were addressed in peace agreements as a way of ensuring that countries did not relapse into the vicious cycle of conflict. Therefore, in order to be more successful, peacekeeping operations should include an environmental and natural resources management dimension.
Source:
Security Council Underscores Need for Peacekeeping Mandates to Consider Helping States Prevent Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources from Fuelling Conflict
http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2007/sc9060.doc.htm


UNEP Warns No Peace in Sudan without Environmental Management Plan

The UNEP report Sudan Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment underscores that the conflict-torn region is unlikely to achieve a lasting peace unless it switches to sound natural resources management. Desertification and deforestation, spread of deserts southwards, increased pressure by unsustainable agriculture, and environmental degradation exacerbated by oil exploitation all contribute to increasing scarcity of resources, the main cause of the Sudan conflict. The report emphasizes that if these problems are not quickly and appropriately addressed the conflict might spread.
Sources:
Darfur conflict heralds era of wars triggered by climate change, UN report warns http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,,2109490,00.html
Environmental Degradation Triggering Tensions and Conflict in Sudan http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=512&ArticleID=5621&l=en


International Crisis Group to Debate Considering Climate Change Variable in Conflicts

The International Crisis Group, which tries to prevent conflicts by monitoring vulnerable regions based on indicators such as political instability, began in June to debate whether to include climate change as a new variable in its analysis.
Source:
Rainfall records could warn of war http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/mg19426064.500?DCMP=NLC-nletter&nsref=mg19426064.500 (by subscription)

World Health Organization: Stress Environmental Impact on Human Health

The World Health Organization published a report showing correlation between disease and environmental factors for the first time at country levels. The analysis reveals that reducing environmental risks including pollution, unsafe water, ultraviolet radiation, and climate change could save 13 million lives per year. WHO estimates that in some countries, more than one third of the disease burden could be prevented through environmental improvements. Each country profile provide an overview of the health risks caused by the specific environmental situation of the country, thus helping policy making in setting priorities for disease prevention.
Sources:
New country-by-country data show in detail the impact of environmental factors on health http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2007/pr30/en/index.html

China’s Climate Change and S&T Action Plan

China launched its first national climate change program in June 2007. Although it does not include mandatory caps on emissions, it shows a strong commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The program highlights some major targets and actions to achieve them by 2010: reducing energy consumption by about 20% per GDP unit; increasing the share of renewable energy to 10% of the primary energy supply; keeping emissions of nitrous oxide from industrial processes at 2005 levels; increasing reforestation by 20%, and increasing international cooperation. The program notes that “China’s energy efficiency is about 10% lower than that of the developed countries, and its per unit energy consumption of energy-intensive products is about 40% higher than the advanced international level. Science and technology are the ultimate resort for humankind to tackle climate change.” In view of this, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology has released an action plan for the science and technology (S&T) aspects of China's new climate change initiative.
Note: The Chinese State Environmental Protection Administration report released in June reveals a continuous deterioration of air and water quality in Chinese cities despite national efforts to reduce pollution levels. Concomitantly, preliminary estimates by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency reveal that in 2006 China surpassed the U.S., becoming the world’s largest CO2 emitter.
Sources:
China’s National Climate Change Programme http://en.ndrc.gov.cn/newsrelease/P020070604561191006823.pdf
S&T to underpin China's climate activities http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3687&language=1
China Struggling to Control Urban Pollution http://english.sepa.gov.cn/zwxx/hjyw/200706/t20070612_105064.htm
China now no. 1 in CO2 emissions; USA in second position http://www.mnp.nl/en/dossiers/Climatechange/moreinfo/Chinanowno1inCO2emissionsUSAinsecondposition.html


Technological Breakthroughs with Environmental Security Implications

Nanofibrils Film Improves Explosives Sensing Performance
A team of scientists from the University of Illinois and the Chinese Academy of Sciences developed a new fluorescent film, made from nanofibrils, which offers greatly improved performance in the detection of such explosive vapors as TNT. These sensors indicate the presence of explosives by losing their glow. They can be recycled repeatedly and also resist deterioration from exposure to sunlight.
Source:
U.S. and Chinese scientists have created a type of fluorescent sensing material that could lead to rapid detection of explosives in security screening http://www.physorg.com/news99672192.html

Bacterial Proteins Help Nanoparticle Cleanup
A new discovery indicated that bacteria could excrete proteins causing metal nanoparticles to aggregate, making them easier to remove from the environment. Apparently the bacteria produce the proteins to protect themselves from potentially toxic nanoparticles. The team of researchers from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, UC Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found the bacteria at the abandoned Piquette Mine, in southwestern Wisconsin. Peter Weber from the LLNL notes that the discovery indicates that cysteine or cysteine-rich polypeptides or proteins could potentially be used for nanoparticle clean up. “With the boom in nanoscience, people are naturally asking questions about the potential environmental impacts. Here, we see that naturally produced nanoparticles can be naturally controlled,” he commented.
Source:
Microbes at work cleaning up the environment http://www.llnl.gov/pao/news/news_releases/2007/NR-07-06-07.html

New Material Has High Absorbency for Organic Solvents
Researchers at Kyushu University in Fukuoka have developed a new material, which can absorb large amounts of organic solvents such as chloroform. The material can absorb 300-480 times its weight of various agents.
Source:
Kyushu University developed new material, which can absorb large amount of organic solvent such as chloroform. Japan Chemical Information of May/2007

Updates on Previously Identified Issues

REACH Entered into Force on June 1, 2007
The EU chemicals law, Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restrictions of Chemicals (REACH) entered into force on June 1. The law’s managerial body, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki, officially began its operations. REACH is regulating the manufacturing, marketing, import, and use of all chemicals in the EU through a single system. The chemicals have to be registered over the next 11 years with the ECHA. REACH will significantly improve protection of human health and the environment while encouraging innovation and keeping the EU's chemical industry competitive. "[REACH] is the most progressive chemicals legislation in the world," said EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. [See also International Controversies over REACH in June 2006, Integration of Chemical Regulations (REACH) Approved by European Council in December 2005, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
New European Chemicals Agency starts operations as REACH enters into force http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/745&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Moving Closer to Adopting an Environmental Security Strategy
Further to last month’s OSCE to Develop an Environmental Security Strategy, the Millennium Project learned that the Spanish OSCE chairmanship is working towards an environmental security strategy and is circulating a draft to be discussed and agreed upon by the ministers of the OSCE participating states at the Ministerial Meeting taking place in Madrid at the end of November 2007. [See also OSCE to Develop an Environmental Security Strategy in May 2007 environmental security report.]
Source:
Millennium Project staff discussions with OSCE officials

Japanese Chemical Weapons Cleaning in China Yet to be Completed
June 2007 was the deadline agreed to by Chinese and Japanese authorities for cleaning up the Japanese chemical weapons littering China since the Japanese war against China. Yet, this month, a number of Chinese construction workers suffered health problems after being exposed to a ruptured mustard agent bomb believed to have been dropped by a Japanese warplane many years ago. The unexploded bomb was hit by the construction team while excavating for a residential building in Bayannaoer City in Inner Mongolia. The Japanese government is expected to receive a request to destroy the weapon, sources said. In May 2007, Japan’s Supreme Court ruled that Chinese victims of Japanese biological warfare and other atrocities that occurred before and during World War II are not eligible for compensation. [See also Discussions over World War II Japanese Warfare Program in China not Settled Yet in July 2005, China: Japan to Pay $2.7 Million for War Gas Leak in October 2003 and Effects of Poison Gas Used in WWII by Japan in May 2003 environmental scanning reports.]
Sources:
Japanese chemical bomb unearthed in north China http://english.people.com.cn/200706/15/eng20070615_384705.html (article available for a limited time)
Japan rules against war claims http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,,-6622616,00.html (article available for a limited time on the website).

Commercial Whaling Ban Strengthened by International Whaling Commission (IWC)
Delegates to the IWC meeting adopted a resolution to keep the moratorium banning commercial whaling in effect, despite Japan’s lobbying for its suspension. Conservation organizations and anti-whaling countries argue that Japan’s lethal “scientific research on whales,” violates international regulations for whales’ protection. Japan threatens to leave the IWC and form another organization to deal with regulations on whale-related issues. [See also Marine Biodiversity Protection Regulations Need Improvement in January 2006 and Website for Marine Protected Areas and Cetaceans’ Sanctuaries in March 2007 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Commercial whaling ban strengthened at Anchorage whaling meeting http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/commercial-whaling-ban-strengt
Draft Resolution CITES, IWC/59/19 Agenda Item 14.3 http://www.iwcoffice.org/_documents/commission/IWC59docs/59-19.pdf

Climate Change––Research Aspects
New Scientific Evidences
The American National Academy of Sciences found that CO2 emissions grew faster then forecasted by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Between 2000 and 2004, worldwide CO2 emissions increased at 3.1% per year, three times the 1.1 % per year during the 1990s. The growth was predominantly driven by developing and least-developed economies, which accounted for 73% of global emissions growth in 2004.
NASA satellite observations revealed Greenland snow is melting faster then expected. In 2006, in some monitored areas there were 10 days more of melting snow than the average over the past 18 years. This is consistent with the pattern observed since 1988. "We need to do more. The situation is very dramatic," remarked European Commission President, José Manuel Barroso after visiting Greenland to personally observe the effects of global warming. The hunting and fishing season has shortened to four to five months compared to eight months a few years ago. The UN choice to celebrate World Environment Day 2007 in Tromsø, the Nordic Norway city, was to stress the global environmental impact of melting ice and snow and the role of satellite technology in identifying and analyzing long-term climatic trends and changes in polar regions.
A group of climate scientists from NASA and Columbia University Earth Institute found that climate change is “close to critical tipping points, with potentially dangerous consequences for the planet.” In a related interview, Dr. James Hansen of NASA said that the point of no return might be reached as soon as in 10 years, if world governments fail to curb GHG emissions. He also noted that the IPCC report underestimated sea level rise, which, he warns, might reach 1-2 meters by the end of the century, if West Antarctic and Greenland melting are factored in. The Dangerous human-made interference with climate: a GISS modelE Study outlines two scenarios: ‘business-as-usual’, which shows disastrous consequences, and an ‘alternative scenario’ assuming controlled GHG emissions generating more moderate effects.

Mitigation of Climate Change
"The world has moved from a global threat once called the Cold War, to what now should be considered the Warming War," Afelee Pita, Tuvalu Ambassador to the UN, told the Security Council in warning of the threat of rising sea levels to small island nations such as his country. The first session of the multi-stakeholder Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction was held in Geneva, June 5-7, 2007. Focusing on systematic implementation strategies of the "Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters,", the session highlighted the need for raising awareness and stimulating action at government and grassroots levels for improving disaster reduction preparedness in areas increasingly vulnerable to risk. The meeting’s outcomes will be presented at the 62nd UN General Assembly. The next meeting of the Global Platform is planned for 2009.
Prior to the G8 Summit, representatives of 20 leading financial service companies––members of the UNEP Finance Initiative––called on G8 leaders to adopt deep emission reduction targets no later than 2009. They highlighted that in addition to climate-related disaster consequences for human security, inaction could lead to annual economic losses of as much as $1 trillion by 2040. However, the economic aspect is just a small part of the post-disaster suffering, highlights the Worldwatch Institute report, Beyond Disasters: Creating Opportunities for Peace. The report notes that over the past decade, there were an average of 348 disasters per year—nearly one per day––with 1 billion people affected by floods alone. In 2006, human deaths from natural disasters were up 24% and 87 countries were affected by floods, which were responsible for most weather-related disasters. Sophisticated Japanese and Taiwan computer models show that tropical storms––typhoons––in the highly populated areas of the northwest Pacific will be getting worse for the next 100 years.
The UN University report Re-thinking Policies to Cope with Desertification warns that desertification reached global environmental crisis proportions and is representing “imminent threats to international stability." Unless appropriate mitigation strategies are implemented, about 2 billion people might be affected by desertification effects; and, over the next decade, 50 million might be displaced.
Accelerating temperature rise over the past 10 years increased the drought in Australia––worse in the most populated areas––so that the situation got to national crisis proportions. Although equipped with the highest water storage capacity per capita in the world, in the major cities supply might fall 40% short of demand by 2025 due to growing population and possibly more severe drought. In China, because of drought, more than 8 million people are short of water, and many livestock perish. In Sichuan province, armed police deliver water to the nearly 4 million people affected by severe drought.
The European Commission Green Paper ‘Adapting to Climate Change in Europe - Options for EU Action’ warns that unless advanced planning occurs, European countries will suffer “increasingly frequent crises and disasters” that will “threaten Europe’s social and economic systems and its security.”

Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The most important developments on post-Kyoto negotiations include:
- Leaders attending the recent Heiligendamm (Germany) G8 summit agreed to seek “substantial” cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and to launch negotiations at the December 2007 UN Summit for eventually reaching agreement on a new––more inclusive––UN-led treaty by 2009. EU, Canada, and Japan supported a target of a cut to 50% of the 1990 emissions level by 2050.
- Denmark began preparing for the 2009 UN climate summit that it will host. However, it admits that reaching a political agreement on a new global climate treaty to replace the current Kyoto Protocol will not be easy.
- Ahead of the September Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Australia's Prime Minister John Howard is seeking to launch negotiations for an Asia-Pacific new climate agreement and to use the summit for including emerging high emitters as China and India in a post-Kyoto accord.
- Norway plans to become the world’s first “carbon neutral” country, by reducing its emissions to zero by 2050, or paying for equivalent reductions elsewhere.
- The UN Secretary General will hold a special high-level meeting on climate change prior to the September Heads of State and Government summit. He called climate change the “defining issue of our era.”
Sources:
Research Finds That Earth's Climate is Approaching 'Dangerous' Point http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/danger_point.html
Dangerous human-made interference with climate: a GISS modelE Study http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2007/2007_Hansen_etal_1.pdf
Rising sea level forecasts understated, say scientists http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/06/20/1957115.htm
Global and regional drivers of accelerating CO2 emissions http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0700609104v1
Alarming acceleration in CO2 emissions worldwide http://www.carnegieinstitution.org/news_releases/news_2007_0521a.html
Value of satellites highlighted at World Environment Day http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMBUUEVL2F_planet_0.html
NASA Researcher Finds Days of Snow Melting on the Rise in Greenland http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/NasaNews/2007/2007052925071.html
Barroso sees 'dramatic' climate change in Greenland http://euobserver.com/9/24356/?rk=1
Tuvalu Envoy Takes Up Global Warming Fight http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=10950375
Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction http://www.preventionweb.net/globalplatform/
UN agencies, partners call on wealthy nations to adopt emission targets
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=22801&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
One man's battle to hunt down typhoons http://news.independent.co.uk/sci_tech/article2652805.ece
Beyond Disasters: Creating Opportunities for Peace http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=events.event&event_id=244464# (video)
Beyond Disasters: Creating Opportunities for Peace http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5111
Re-thinking Policies to Cope with Desertification http://www.inweh.unu.edu/inweh/drylands/IYDD_Policy_Brief.pdf
Desertification: Experts Prescribe Global Policy Overhaul to Avoid Looming Mass Migrations http://www.unu.edu/media/archives/2007/files/mre29-A-07.pdf
Australia - the continent that ran dry http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/mg19426085.300;jsessionid=CFNDNHPPHLOB (by subscription only)
Armed police deliver water to drought-hit Sichuan http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/PEK157663.htm
China Drought Causes Water Shortages for Millions http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/42773/story.htm
Mudslides, floods kill nearly 130 in Bangladesh http://uk.reuters.com/article/homepageCrisis/idUKSP1987._CH_.242020070612
Adapting to Climate Change –Launching a public debate on options for EU Action http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/pdf/eccp/adapting.pdf

Secretary-General Welcomes G-8 Agreement on ‘Strong and Early Action’ To Combat Climate Change http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2007/sgsm11029.doc.htm
Australia's Howard Plans Asia-Pacific Kyoto Successor http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/42494/story.htm
Denmark seeks global climate deal in 2009 http://euobserver.com/877/24147/?rk=1
Climate Change ‘Defining Issue of Our Era,’ Says Ban Ki-Moon, Hailing G8 Action http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=22836&Cr=&Cr1=
Struggling to save the planet. The Economist, May 31st 2007 http://www.economist.com/world/international/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9261663
Call For “Disaster Diplomacy” as Millions Are Affected http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5127

The Disputes over the Northern Territories Set to Continue
As the North is warming up, opening access to its rich resources, the territorial claims over the Arctic region are set to increase. Reportedly, Russia is prepared to challenge the international community and claim sovereignty over large parts of the Arctic region that is now under the International Seabed Authority, on grounds of the region’s geological continuity and similarity with continental Russia. [See also New Canadian Strategies for Monitoring the Northwest Passage in August 2006, and Arctic Northern Passage Opens New International Issues of Regulation in February 2006 environmental security reports.]
Source:
Putin's Arctic invasion: Russia lays claim to the North Pole - and all its gas, oil, and diamonds
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=464921&in_page_id=1811

Idle Nighttime Computers Cited as Energy Wasters
A new report released by the energy management firm 1E and the Alliance to Save Energy points out the large amount of energy now being wasted by idle computers left running at night. The study calculated that 14.4 million tons of CO2 could be eliminated annually from atmospheric pollution in the U.S. if all of these machines were turned off when not being used for extended periods.
Sources:
Energy Awareness Campaign http://www.1e.com/energycampaign/index.aspx
PC Energy Report Released Today Shows That Shutting Down Your PC at the End of the Work Day Will Have a Major Impact on Business Savings and Reducing CO2
http://www.csrwire.com/News/8951.html

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
French Group to Study Nanotech Environmental Health and Safety
The Observatory for Micro and NanoTechnologies (Minatec, France), a part of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), has launched a working group to study the possible effects of nanoparticles and nanomaterials on the environment and human health. The aim is to enable non-specialists to keep up-to-date with the rapid evolution of the field of nanotoxicology. The group will consist of 14 experts meeting three times a year.
New Nano Risk Framework
DuPont and Environmental Defense have released the Nano Risk Framework, jointly developed guidelines for evaluating the safety and environmental risks of nanotechnology products. The 87-page report, almost two years in the making, includes three examples of how DuPont applied the framework.
Sources:
Establishing a working group on the effects of nanoparticles and nanomaterials on the human health and the environment
http://www2.cnrs.fr/presse/communique/1104.htm (French website)
Nano Risk Framework: http://www.nanoriskframework.com/page.cfm?tagID=1095


Reports Suggested for Review

Worldwatch Institute: Assessing the Relation between Disasters and Conflict
Beyond Disasters: Creating Opportunities for Peace, a report by Worldwatch Institute: analyses the nature and effect of disasters over the past 20 years and the impacts of human activities on the climate; highlights the factors of vulnerability; and makes a few recommendations to reduce the social consequences of disasters and to eventually use post-disaster reconstruction as an opportunity for building lasting peace. The report considers three case studies: Aceh, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami––that became a catalyst for peace; Sri Lanka––despite the ceasefire, the conflict continued mainly because of an inadequate post-disaster reconstruction strategy; and Kashmir––the earthquake didn’t influence the stalled reconciliation process.
Source:
Beyond Disasters: Creating Opportunities for Peace http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5126
Beyond Disasters: Creating Opportunities for Peace http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=events.event_summary&event_id=244464 (video)

SIPRI Year Book 2007 Points out Environmental, Nuclear, and Energy Threats
The 2007 edition of the authoritative Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook, along with statistics on conflict and weapons expenditure, highlights the main categories of threats to peace that the world faces. Among the main threats, it lists: energy, which “could become a weapon”; and the environment, highlighting that “Using the world’s resources to address hunger, environmental factors and poverty is likely both to improve human survival and to strengthen international security.” Concerning nuclear, chemical and biological threats, the report warns on high uncertainties of the stockpiles and research around the world and calls for increased transparency and better policies for risk assessments and risk-remediation strategies.
Sources:
SIPRI Yearbook 2007 http://yearbook2007.sipri.org/
SIPRI Warns of Growing Nuclear Risks http://www.nti.org/d_newswire/issues/2007_6_12.html#7DADDB8B

Cleantech Report™ by Lux Research
Cleantech Report™ by Lux Research is a comprehensive analysis of emerging energy and environmental technologies with information ranging from statistics to funding and policies on cleantech. It notes that cleantechs are rapidly expanding; 1,500 cleantech start-ups operate worldwide, there were 29,874 cleantech-related scientific journal articles published in 2006, and 4,093 patents issued in the U.S. alone.
Source:
The Cleantech Report™ http://www.luxresearchinc.com/cleantech.php

Environmental Change and Security Annual Report
The 12th annual report of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Environmental Change and Security Program explores the link between environment, conflict, and cooperation in Africa, focusing on fragile states. It calls attention to other smaller––local––conflicts triggered by increasingly shrinking resources due to population growth, climate change, and accelerated environmental degradation. It warns that unless timely measures are taken, those small conflicts might escalate into wars and humanitarian disasters, such as in Sudan's Darfur region. However, "efforts to promote sustainability—and use natural resources as peacebuilding tools—could help turn deadly environments into safe, sustainable neighborhoods". say the authors. The report includes the contributions of eight African leaders and scholars.
Source:
ECSP Report 12 http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=1413&fuseaction=topics.publications&group_id=240703

Back to Top


May 2007

OSCE to Develop an Environmental Security Strategy
The Economic and Environmental Forum of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), held in May 2007 in Prague focused on constructive actions that would help its 56 participating States and 11 Partners tackle environmental security threats and promote stability. OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said: “Environmental co-operation can be an effective catalyst for reducing tensions, broadening co-operation and promotion of peace.” There was consensus that environmental security should top the Organization’s agenda and the parties agreed to study the implications of climate change on security, the role of environmental sustainability, and how OSCE's actions could complement other organizations’ efforts. An Environmental Security Strategy for the Organization will be developed over the coming year and debated at the OSCE Ministerial Council to be held in November in Madrid. Several follow-up events to the environmental forum are planned. A resolution may be introduced in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to further support this governmental initiative to help insure its implementation under the next Chairman-in-Chief of the OSCE.
Sources:
OSCE meeting transforms concern about environment security into action
http://www.osce.org/eea/item_1_24652.html
OSCE meeting fosters co-operation to reduce environmental threats, says Chairman
http://www.osce.org/eea/item_1_24589.html


Pan-African Parliament Upgrades Environmental Policy
Environmental issues were given increased emphasis during the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Seventh Ordinary Session held in May 2007. Deputies and experts discussed the liability of Western countries relating to the continent’s environmental degradation, and called for financial compensation and technological assistance to correct the situation. The recommendations of the committee on the environment included: request the PAP strengthen legislation for protection of the environment and fighting against pollution; establish synergy among African scientific research institutions related to protecting the environment; create a network of environmental centers; create an African Environment Protection Observatory (AEPO); support regional initiatives; improve global cooperation and implementation of the Convention on Desertification; and strengthen international cooperation in scientific research and technology transfer. There were important debates about an African integration––a United States of Africa model––and the final document recommends that the African Union further consider such a union’s feasibility. It also recommends giving PAP, which started in 2004, the powers of a legislative organ.
Sources:
PAP Concludes Seventh Ordinary Session http://www.pan-africanparliament.org/DocumentsResources_DisplayDocument.aspx?Type=Docs&ID=285
PAP Considers Committee Reports http://www.pan-africanparliament.org/News.aspx?ID=229 (link works randomly)
‘United States of Africa’ in doubt http://www.sundaytimes.co.za/News/Article.aspx?id=463554
South Africa: AU Chair Attends Pan African Parliament http://allafrica.com/stories/200705070262.html
African Parliament blames west for environmental mess http://www.mg.co.za/articlepage.aspx?area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__africa/&articleid=308357


Global Division of Financial Responsibility for Global Warming Impacts
Oxfam has called for a system to allocate costs of global warming damage per country based on its percentage of greenhouse contribution. Poorer countries are not included. They list the US with 44%, Japan with 13%, Germany 7%, and so forth. With China’s increasing role, the percentages would be continually adjusted. China will release its first national plan to address climate change just prior to the G8 Meeting, which it will attend in Germany.
Source:
Rich must pay bulk of climate change bill: Oxfam http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSL2835543520070529


United Nations Agreement to Protect the World’s Forests Adopted
Although not a legally binding document, the agreement on international forest policy and cooperation is an important instrument for sustainable forest management. By setting international standards for forest management, the agreement is expected to advance international cooperation on forest conservation, improve forest products trade, and develop national policies that would reduce deforestation, prevent forest degradation, and improve the living standard of all forest-dependent peoples. The agreement was adopted at the United Nations Forum on Forests, following 15 years of negotiations and debates on whether a treaty or an agreement is needed for improving the world’s forests management. A voluntary global financing mechanism for forest management is supposed to be adopted by 2009.
Sources:
UN adopts new International Agreement to protect world’s forests http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=22389&Cr=forests&Cr1=
New Agreement on Sustainable Management of World’s Forests Focus, As United Nations Forum Opens Two-Week Session http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/envdev919.doc.htm
UNFF7 Documents http://www.un.org/esa/forests/session-documents.html


Technological Breakthroughs with Environmental Security Implications

Biosensors Sniff out TNT and Possibly Other Dangers
Temple University School of Medicine Fels Institute researcher Prof. Danny Dhanasekaran and colleagues have developed a new biosensor that uses a yeast strain genetically engineered with mammalian (rat) olfactory signaling machinery, linked to the expression of green fluorescent protein, to detect a chemical signature of TNT. The technique should be extendable to spot other chemical agents, such as sarin.
Biosensor 2200R, developed by Mine Safety Appliances Inc. of Pittsburgh, is a new biosensor able to determine the presence of a suspicious biological agent such as anthrax or ricin. The response time is less than 5 minutes (compared to about 45 minutes for the devices presently in use) and the unit has a very high accuracy, with only a one in a million chance of producing a false reading.
Source:
Biosensor Sniffs Out Explosives http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070508185845.htm
Device makes quick work of suspected toxins http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/business/s_507097.html

Advanced Membrane Technology for Water Treatment to Counter Water Scarcity
The Advanced Membrane Technology for Water Treatment project conducted under the auspices of the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) seeks to develop advanced membrane technology for efficient, low energy processes to produce clean water from industrial and/or salt water resources, thus reducing the financial and environmental costs of addressing water scarcity problems. The research area consists of the following projects: low energy desalination membranes; membrane technology for industrial water reuse; and carbon nanotube (CNT) membranes.
Source:
Advanced membrane technology for water treatment research http://www.csiro.au/science/ps32l.html

New Generator Produces Hydrogen from Aluminum and Water
Prof. Jerry Woodall of Purdue University and associates have developed a new technique that uses aluminum-gallium alloy pellets to generate hydrogen from water, providing a novel source for the new "green fuel". Aluminum reacts with the oxygen in water, releasing hydrogen and transforming into aluminum oxide (alumina). The key to the new process is the use of gallium, which prevents the formation of a skin over the aluminum that would stop the process––with the gallium, all the aluminum in a container can contribute to the reaction. The researchers envision that the alumina could be recycled back into aluminum by electricity derived from nuclear plants. The advantage of this indirect hydrogen fuel process is that aluminum is much more easily stored and transported than hydrogen, so there are potential gains in producing the hydrogen at the point of use in an “aluminum-fueled” engine. However, serious questions come to mind about the environmental effects and the overall cost and energy efficiency of producing and recycling the aluminum, and transporting it and the alumina, and about driving range with a feasible load of metal. This complex “non-rechargeable battery” will require much careful end-to-end analysis in order to gain acceptance, but it is an interesting approach.
Source:
New process generates hydrogen from aluminum alloy to run engines, fuel cells http://www.physorg.com/news98556080.html


Updates on Previously Identified Issues

UN Appoints Special Envoys for Climate Change
As part of his commitment to enhance the UN's action in addressing climate change, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed three Special Envoys, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, the President of the 56th Session of the UN General Assembly Han Seung-soo, and former President of Chile Ricardo Lagos. The Special Envoys will work with the Secretary-General, government leaders, and key stakeholders from around the world to advance negotiations and develop mitigation strategies to address climate change and its impacts. [See also UK Initiates UN Security Council Debate on Climate Change and Security in April, and New Energy and Climate Change Policies in March 2007 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Ban Ki-moon names 3 prominent Special Envoys on Climate Change
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=22410&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
Secretary-General Appoints Three New Special Envoys on Climate Change
http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2007/sga1061.doc.htm
U.N. appoints three envoys on climate change
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/environment/2007-05-01-un-climate_N.htm
Climate change must be tackled at the international political level, say UN envoys
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=22483&Cr=climate&Cr1=change

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Stalemate Continues
No progress was achieved by the two-week annual session for preparing the 2010 NPT Review Conference. After having its work delayed for six days due to Iran’s disagreement with the agenda, the conference ended with disputes over the session’s final statement. Iran and other Nonaligned Movement nations criticized the statement as being too focused on compliance and not enough on the need for nuclear-weapon states to move toward disarmament. [See also Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in May 2005, and Increasing Calls for Improved Management of Nuclear Materials and Nonproliferation in January 2005 environmental security reports.]
Meanwhile, eight more nations joined the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Led by Russia and the U.S., this global effort was initiated in 2006, to improve security over nuclear materials and to deter nuclear smuggling. The group now includes 31 nations. The next meeting is scheduled to be held in June, in Kazakhstan.
Sources:
Preparatory Committee for the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference
http://www.un.org/NPT2010/index.html
Ban Ki-moon urges NPT review meeting to address crisis on nuclear arms front
http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=22392&Cr=nuclear&Cr1=
Iran, NAM countries downgrade atom treaty text
http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSL1125982220070511
Israel, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka Join Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism
http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2007/may/84852.htm
Cape Verde, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Georgia, Montenegro, Netherlands and Spain Countries Join U.S.-Russia-led Global Initiative To Combat Nuclear Terrorism http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2007/may/84503.htm
Armenia, Cambodia, Macedonia and Romania Join U.S.-Russia-led Global Initiative To Combat Nuclear Terrorism http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2007/may/84246.htm
Global Initiative To Combat Nuclear Terrorism--Japan Hosts Counterterrorism Seminar http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2007/may/84247.htm
The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism http://www.state.gov/t/isn/c18406.htm
Current Partner Nations to the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism http://www.state.gov/t/isn/82787.htm

Stockholm Convention on POPs Adopts Evaluation but not Non-compliance Mechanisms
The third meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-3) to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) occurred April 30-May 4, 2007, in Dakar, Senegal, with over 450 participants representing more than 180 governments and international and non-governmental organizations. Twenty-two decisions were adopted, including: measures to reduce or eliminate releases from wastes (integration with the Basel Convention for developing a framework for environmentally sound waste disposal); guidelines on best available techniques and draft guidance on best environmental practices; improving the reporting system; evaluation of implementation effectiveness through the Global Monitoring Programme (establishing a coordination group formed of three representatives from each of the five UN regions); technical assistance; and non-compliance (negotiations to continue and mechanisms to be considered for COP-4). COP-4 will be held May 4-8, 2009, in Geneva, Switzerland. [See also Call for Reinforcements to Chemical Safety in September 2006, Stockholm Convention Updates in November 2005, and other related items in previous environmental security scanning reports.]
Sources:
Stockholm Convention COP-3 http://www.pops.int/documents/meetings/cop_3/meetingdocs/default.htm
Summary of the Third Meeting of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants
http://www.iisd.ca/vol15/enb15154e.html
Stockholm Convention http://www.pops.int

Climate Change
Mitigating Climate Change Effects
Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, third report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), calls for quick action to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the worst climate change impacts. It states that greenhouse gas emissions must start declining by 2015 if the increase in global average temperature is to be capped at 2–2.4 degrees Celsius. The report points out that the more time passes, the costlier it will be. It estimates that stabilizing emission levels at 445–535 parts per million (ppm) would cost between 0.2% and 3% of world GDP by 2030 (about 0.12% per year); while after 2050, stabilizing emissions between 445–710 ppm would require a reduction of 5.5% in the world's GDP. This is consistent with the Stern report and other estimates. The report highlights that multiple strategies are already available for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, such as utilizing cost-effective policies and current and emerging technologies.
Just before the IPCC report was released, the World Wildlife Fund issued its own report, Stop Climate Change: It Is Possible, which presented 15 actions to reduce CO2 emissions. The World Resources Institute analyzed the impact of climate change on the ecosystem and its services for humans and suggested actions for ecosystem restoration in its report Restoring Nature's Capital: An Action Agenda to Sustain Ecosystem Services. WRI president Jonathan Lash said we should “urgently expand the climate debate beyond reducing greenhouse gases to focus on how climate change is altering ecosystem services.”
Delegates at the latest OECD Council at Ministerial Level held in Paris, May 15-16, 2007 explored policy options to reduce human and economic costs of severe climate change and will work with the International Energy Agency to that end.
New Climate Change Forecasts Show Conditions Worse than Forecasted
New research and models by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center found that the Arctic could be seasonally free of sea ice by 2020, 30 years sooner than predicted by the IPCC report. In addition to all the consequences for the ecosystem and the Nordic inhabitants, this might accelerate even more global warming, as reflection of the sun’s heat and light will be strongly diminished.
An international team of researchers has found that the Southern Ocean’s capacity to absorb man-made carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is weakening, stating that this is the first time they have “convincing evidence that a change in the uptake of CO2 by the oceans is linked to climate change.” They didn’t expect that to happen until much later in the 21st century.
Japan's Meteorological Agency announced that the ocean around Japan has warmed up by 0.7 to 1.6 degrees Celsius over the last century, far higher than the world average of 0.5 degree Celsius.
Climate Change Refugees
Janos Bogardi, director of the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security, called for the UN to create a legal framework to address future environmental refugees, while taking into account fears that by including environmental migrants in the international legislation protecting refugees, “we are weakening one of the strongest tools for protecting refugees.” Hence, the UN “should find other means of helping environmental migrants.” He also emphasized that environmental factors often lie at the root of more obvious causes of migration.
Christian Aid estimates that a billion people might be forced to migrate over the next 50 years, mostly as a consequence of environmental conditions. The vast majority will be from the world’s poorest countries, the Sahara belt, south Asia, and the Middle East. Their report estimates that in 2007 there are 25 million displaced by conflict and human rights abuses, 25 million by natural disasters, such as earthquakes, and 105 million by large development projects, with 8.5 million now officially recognized as refugees. By 2050, it says, 250 million could be permanently displaced by climate change-related phenomena.
Bangladesh, with its 140 million people, is one of the most vulnerable places to climate change. It is likely to face increasingly violent storms, saltwater getting further into the country's rivers, erosion in the coastal areas, severe droughts in the north, and possibly a fifth of the country vanishing under water, if sea level rises by 3 feet by the end of the century. “One island here has more people than all of the small island states put together,” said Atiq Rahman, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies.
Negotiations for a Post-Kyoto Strategy to Continue to be Difficult
No results were produced by the two-week meeting of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Bonn, Germany, to negotiate a post-Kyoto treaty and next steps to tackle climate change. This was supposed to be a preparatory session for the world environment ministers’ conference to be held in December in Bali, Indonesia, when it is hoped that formal negotiations on a post-Kyoto treaty will be launched. Although the 1,800 delegates agreed on the urgency of the situation and the need for adopting long-term, legally binding emission reduction targets, no agreement was reached on new commitments or strategies.
The 15th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development’s negotiations were hindered by the confrontation between the developed and developing world, and by the U.S., which opposed any targets and timetables for greenhouse gas reduction. The EU rejected a draft final document on the grounds that it was too weak and failed to adequately address the issues of energy efficiency, climate, air pollution, and industrial development.
The prospects are not very optimistic either for next month’s G8 summit negotiations, since the U.S. and Canada seem to continue opposing the German draft statement and position.
Australia's government is developing a carbon emissions reduction plan that would recommend a trading scheme built on the six-nation Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (which includes Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and the U.S.) The proposal is planned to be put forward at the 2007 Summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation to be held in Sydney, in September.
The UNFCCC Secretariat Director considers the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) successful so far, with some 645 CDM projects being registered in 44 countries, covering a wide range of sectors. At the same time, he cautioned that serious negotiations on a post-2012 regime would only be launched at the Bali conference, and not concluded there, given experience with the Kyoto Protocol, which took two years to negotiate and another two to ratify and bring into force.
Sources:
Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM6avr07.pdf
Stopping climate change is possible http://www.panda.org/news_facts/newsroom/index.cfm?uNewsID=100480
Secretary-General Welcomes Report on Mitigation of Climate Change, Says Package on Way Forward Must Be Launched At Bali Conference
http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/sgsm10976.doc.htm
9th Session of IPCC Working Group III and 26th Session of IPCC: 30 April - 4 May 2007 http://www.iisd.ca/climate/ipwg3
Experts Meet on UN Report but Time Running Out http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41638/story.htm
UN Climate Talks Down to Wire, EU and China Spar http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41708/story.htm
Tackling climate change. A bargain. Economist.com, May 4th 2007 http://www.economist.com/daily/news/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9135283&fsrc=nwl
China seen as a roadblock to U.N. climate report. Beijing wants the U.S. and Europe to bear most of the blame and costs for controlling global warming.
By Alan Zarembo, Times Staff Writer, May 3, 2007
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/asection/la-sci-warming3may03,1,3027774,full.story?ctrack=2&cset=true
US Rejects 'High Cost' Global Warming Scenarios http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41726/story.htm
Restoring Nature's Capital: An Action Agenda to Sustain Ecosystem Services http://www.wri.org/biodiv/pubs_description.cfm?pid=4309
Restoring Nature’s Capital: An Action Agenda to Sustain Ecosystem Services––WWICS session http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=events.event&event_id=235464 (video)
Chair's summary of the OECD Council at Ministerial Level, Paris, 15-16 May 2007 - Innovation: Advancing the OECD Agenda for Growth and Equity
http://www.oecd.org/document/22/0,2340,en_2649_201185_38604566_1_1_1_1,00.html
UN Experts Near Deal on Climate After Disputes http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41284/story.htm
Global Warming to Devastate Indian Coast – Expert http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41512/story.htm
China Says Global Warming Threatens Development http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41506/story.htm
Symposium: Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change. Thursday and Friday, 12-13 April 2007
Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/news/events/070412conference.php
Arctic Ice Retreating 30 Years Ahead of Projections http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2007/2007-04-30-04.asp
Arctic sea ice decline: Faster than forecast (abstract) http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2007.../2007GL029703.shtml
Arctic melt worse than predictions http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/05/02/arctic.ice/index.html
Rapid rise in global warming is forecast http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article1805870.ece
Ocean Around Japan Warming Up Fast – Report http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41923/story.htm
U.N. Professor Says Climate Change Is Creating New Refugees Who Deserve U.N. Protection http://www.enn.com/today.html?id=12788
Human tide: the real migration crisis http://www.christian-aid.org.uk/indepth/705caweekreport/index.htm
Climate change to force mass migration http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,2078839,00.html
The first refugees of global warming. Bangladesh watches in horror as much of the nation gives way to sea
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0705010817may02,1,7033000.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true (free registration required)
Sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies, 7-18 May 2007, Bonn, Germany http://unfccc.int/meetings/sb26/items/3919.php
UN meeting in Bonn moves world closer to action on climate change http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=22595&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
Deadlock at climate talks mars Kyoto hopes http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L1840731.htm
Climate change official sees new willingness from developing countries to talk
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/05/18/europe/EU-GEN-Germany-Climate-Conference.php
UN Urges Climate Action; Nations Split on Tactics http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41763/story.htm
Diplomats Begin Work on Climate Accord http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/07/AR2007050700963.html
Suspicions Among Nations Hold Back Climate Pacts http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41843/story.htm
UN Climate Chief Says Time Short to Find 2012 Pact http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41841/story.htm
EU rejects 'weak' UN paper on climate change http://euobserver.com/9/24053/?rk=1 (by subscription only)
Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) 115th session http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/policy.htm
U.S. Rejects G-8 Climate Proposal
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/25/AR2007052501952.html
Climate change conflict http://www.thestar.com/News/article/217831 (article available online for a limited time)
Regional carbon trade plan http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21757380-30417,00.html (article available for a limited time)
Australia demands "New Kyoto" in place of "Old" http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/SYD71858.htm
Confusion threatens to limit potential of key Kyoto Protocol mechanism – UNFCCC Executive Secretary
http://unfccc.int/files/press/news_room/press_releases_and_advisories/application/pdf/070502_pressrel_carbon_expo.pdf (alternative: UN official warns of confusion over key Kyoto Protocol mechanism http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=22425&Cr=climate&Cr1=change)

Proposed Global Early Warning System for Monitoring Pandemics
Scientists propose a global early warning system to monitor possible pandemic outbreaks. A recent study led by Nathan Wolfe, professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, revealed that the “emergence of the major diseases of humanity is not a random process.” Understanding the patterns between origins of major infectious diseases in temperate and tropical countries and individuals exposed to wild or domestic animals might help prevent eventual migration to humans, as well as forecast and avoid eventual pandemics. Delegates to the 59th World Health Assembly also stressed the importance of rapid, worldwide sharing of knowledge on diseases, since “in a globalized world, health issues have an impact on the collective security of people around the world.” [See also Global Pandemic Containment Efforts in October 2006, Bird Flu Spreads Increasing Threats of a Human Pandemic in February 2006 and other related environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Origins of major human infectious diseases. Nature 447, 279-283 (17 May 2007)
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v447/n7142/full/nature05775.html#abs (by subscription only)
Scientists: Early warning system for disease needed http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3623&language=1
Fifty-ninth World Health Assembly http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/2006/wha59/en/index.html

Japanese Supreme Court Denies Chinese Wartime Claims
Japan’s Supreme Court ruled that Chinese victims of Japanese biological warfare and other atrocities occurred before and during World War II are not eligible for compensation. Two cases involving about 200 Chinese required compensation and Japanese government apologies for biological weapons experiments, the firebombing of a Chinese city and other atrocities happened in the 1930s and 1940s. The majority of the plaintiffs were relatives of the victims. “These are unjust rulings that ignore the human rights and personal suffering of the defendants. […] The Supreme Court has completely neglected its responsibility to uphold justice.” Historians estimate that up to 250,000 people might have died in Japan’s Unit 731 experiments that involved germ testing and vivisection. No unit personnel ever faced prosecution and Japan argues that the cases brought up happened before Japan’s ratification of relevant treaties. [See also Discussions over World War II Japanese Warfare Program in China not Settled Yet in July 2005, China: Japan to Pay $2.7 Million for War Gas Leak in October 2003 and Effects of Poison Gas Used in WWII by Japan in May 2003 environmental scanning reports.]
Sources:
Japan rules against war claims
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070510/ap_on_re_as/japan_china_germ_warfare_2 (article available for a limited time on the website).

U.S. to Study Sonar Impact on Marine Mammals
The U.S. government approved a budget to research the effects of military sonar systems on whales and dolphins. Several scientists and environmental groups claim that underwater sonar to detect submarines interferes with the ecolocation system of whales and dolphins, sometimes causing mass strandings. The research will be conducted din Hawaii and will include studying the effects of military sonar systems on marine mammal hearing, as well as the development of electronic systems to detect the presence of marine mammals in naval training areas. The Hawaii research will provide an independent scientific view and reliable data on the effects of sonars on marine mammals and hopefully will elucidate the concerns. [See also UK Defence Ministry Highlights the Link between Environment and Security in September 2006, The Debate over Use of Sonar by the Navy Continues; Legal Settlement Approved in July 2006, Underwater Sounds from Human Sources Endangering Marine Life in November 2005, and other previous environmental security reports on the same issue.]
Sources:
Military R&D worth $72M http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070526/NEWS08/705260353/1018/NEWS
Navy Disappointed with Sonar Lawsuit http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,136479,00.html
Navy sued over sonar testing off Hawaii http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18721001/

Space-Based Services for Improving Emergency Response
The Health Early Warning System will improve warning and emergency response in case of natural disasters and pandemics by using satellite communication. HEWS consists of a communication network via satellite to survey and monitor risk indicators. It is connecting end-user relieve agencies with command centers, provides wide, real-time perspective of the events and knowledge related to the threat, and helps with logistical support, thus improving the emergency effort efficiency. HEWS is an open platform, widely implementable. Another European initiative, Eurisy programme dedicated to Local and Regional Authorities, aims to help end-user communities understand how space technology-based tools can help them in some complex activities such as monitoring environment matters, handling natural disaster, and e-Government. The Conference “Future Challenges for Local and Regional Authorities: How can Space Technology help?” held May 29-30 in Barcelona, is the first event of Eurisy’s 3-year programme. The China National Space Administration joined on May 24, 2007, the International Charter “Space and Major Disasters,” an international network of international, private and government space agencies that aims to provide satellite data free of charge in emergency situations to those affected by disasters anywhere in the world. At the Pan African Parliament’s (PAP) Seventh Ordinary Session held in May 2007, delegates recommended increased international cooperation in scientific and technological research, including the use of space tools to help decisionmaking related to fight against desertification and climate change.
Source:
Faster and better emergency response through satellite telecoms http://www.esa.int/esaTE/SEMZ00V681F_index_0.html
Bridging the Gap between Space and Local and Regional Users http://www.eurisy.org/
A Giant Leap For Space Activities In Europe http://www.spacemart.com/reports/A_Giant_Leap_For_Space_Activities_In_Europe_999.html
Chinese space agency joins the International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’ http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMCG59RR1F_environment_0.html
PAP Considers Committee Reports http://www.pan-africanparliament.org/News.aspx?ID=229
Europe’s Space Policy becomes a reality today http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEM4UU8RR1F_Benefits_0.html

Nanotechnology Safety Issues

- European Guide to Green Masters Programs Launched. The Institute of Nanotechnology has announced the official launch of the European Nanotechnology Masters Recognition Scheme, for 10:30 a.m., 20 June 2007, at the Congress Center, Düsseldorf, as part of EuroNanoforum 2007, The Scheme site, which can be visited at http://www.nano.org.uk/nanomasters/, offers online access to descriptions of nanotechnology-related master's degree programs throughout Europe.
Source: Institute of Nanotechnology Nano Masters Course Directory http://www.nano.org.uk/nanomasters/

Toxic Metals Carried into Cells by Nanoparticles. Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing have discovered that metal oxide nanoparticles had up to 8 times the toxicity of the same metals in salt forms when brought into contact with lung epithelial cells. The explanation by one researcher is that "cell membranes provide a selective barrier against ions, preventing the dissolved metal salts from entering. Once a metal-containing nanoparticle has penetrated a cell, however, metal ions can leach from the particle and generate ROS [reactive oxygen species] in the cell interior". The degree of the toxicity is related to the specific metal being introduced.
Sources:
Exposure of Engineered Nanoparticles to Human Lung Epithelial Cells: Influence of Chemical Composition and Catalytic Activity on Oxidative Stress
http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/abstract.cgi/esthag/asap/abs/es062629t.html
A nano Trojan horse http://pubs.acs.org/subscribe/journals/esthag-w/2007/apr/science/lt_nano.html

New Report Links Nanotechnology and Green Engineering. A new report, Green Nanotechnology: It's Easier Than You Think, from the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies of the Woodrow Wilson International Center, discusses links between nanotechnology and environmentally friendly development and production. It also presents recommendations for proactive federal policy measures to encourage such applications of nanotech.
Sources: Index to the report: http://www.nanotechproject.org/archive
Green Nanotechnology: It's Easier Than You Think http://www.nanotechproject.org/116/4262007-green-nanotechnology-its-easier-than-you-think
Nanotechnology Provides Green Path To Environmentally Sustainable Economy http://www.spacemart.com/reports/Nanotechnology_Provides_Green_Path_To_Environmentally_Sustainable_Economy_999.html

Reports Suggested for Review

U.S. Regulations Related to Climate Change
Global Climate Change and U.S. Law, published by the American Bar Association, is a comprehensive overview of U.S. law as it relates to global climate change. The book presents a scientific factual background on climate change; outlines the international and national legal framework related to climate change; presents emerging regional, state, and local actions, and a 50-state survey; issues of concern to corporations (including disclosure, fiduciary duties, insurance, and subsidies); and examines reduction programs such as voluntary efforts, emissions trading, and carbon sequestration. The book will be continuously updated on the American Bar Association's website (an update is already posted about the Massachusetts vs. EPA case.)
Sources:
Global Climate Change and U.S. Law http://www.abanet.org/abastore/index.cfm?section=main&fm=Product.AddToCart&pid=5350156
Climate Change Having Major Effect on U.S. Law, ABA Book Finds http://www.arnoldporter.com/news_news.cfm?publication_id=1511

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April 2007

UK Initiates UN Security Council Debate on Climate Change and Security

Britain’s foreign secretary argued that future climate change might cause wars: “An unstable climate will exacerbate some of the core drivers of conflict, such as migratory pressures and competition for resources,” and hence it is a matter for the UN Security Council to address. About 50 nations urged the UK to take the issue to the Council. During the debate on April 17, 2007, China argued against this position along with Russia, Qatar, Indonesia, and South Africa, saying that the Security Council is the wrong forum to discuss this and act on climate change-related issues. On behalf of 130 developing nations, Pakistan argued that the issue should be a matter for the UN General Assembly since it was a more democratic institution than the Council. [Yet it is the Council not the Assembly that can authorize peacekeeping forces.] Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, acknowledging, “issues of energy and climate change can have implications for peace and security,” called for a “long-term global response” and noted, “this Council has a role to play in working with other competent intergovernmental bodies to address the possible root causes of conflict discussed.” The US supported the development of alternative fuels, energy efficiency, and other voluntary approaches that did not affect economic growth. The EU, Peru, Panama, and Papua New Guinea (head of the Pacific small island states), were among the supporters of the initiative. “The dangers that the small island states and their populations face are no less serious than those nations threatened by guns and bombs,” stated Ambassador Robert Guba Aisi of Papua New Guinea.
Sources:
Security Council Holds First-Ever Debate on Impact of Climate Change on Peace, Security, Hearing Over 50 Speakers http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/sc9000.doc.htm
Secretary-General Ban's Statement in Security Council Debate on Climate Change http://www.reformtheun.org/index.php?module=uploads&func=download&fileId=2262
U.N. Security Council holds climate debate http://edition.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/04/17/climate.un.britain.ap/
U.N. Council Hits Impasse Over Debate on Warming. The NY Times http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/18/world/18nations.html?ex=1334548800&en=599119af2640e7b1&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
Global warming an issue for UN Security Council http://environment.newscientist.com/article/dn11619-global-warming-an-issue-for-un-security-council.html
'Environmental security' essential http://www.guardian.co.uk/uklatest/story/0,,-6568208,00.html (article available for a limited time)
U.S. Rejects Call for Tougher U.N. Environment Role http://www.enn.com/today.html?id=12588
UN Security Council to Debate Climate Change http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41268/story.htm

European Environmental Liability Directive Came Into Force

The Environmental Liability Directive establishes a comprehensive framework on liability for damage to the environment, based on the “polluter pays” principle. It aims to ensure that the financial liability for environmental damage prevention or remediation falls on the polluters who caused it, rather than on the taxpayers. Operators are financially responsible for ensuring that they have preventive or remedial measures. When the environmental situation involves more than one member state, then they must cooperate on the necessary preventive or remedial actions. The Directive was adopted in April 2004 and member states were supposed to bring into force the appropriate laws and regulations by April 30, 2007. [See also European Union Polluter Pays Law in April 2004, and Environmental Crime Could Become a Felony in the EU in February 2007 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Environment: Liability Directive ensures polluters pay http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/581&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Environmental liability – Directive http://europa.eu/scadplus/leg/en/lvb/l28120.htm
Directive 2004/35/CE of the European Parliament and of the Council http://eur-lex.europa.eu/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexplus!prod!DocNumber&lg=en&type_doc=Directive&an_doc=2004&nu_doc=35

Russia’s Floating Nuclear Plants Pose International Security Risk

Russia has started building the world’s first floating nuclear power plant. A ship with two 35-megawatt reactors is expected to be operational in three years and supply electricity in remote areas in Russia as well as potential foreign markets. Despite warnings from environmentalists, Russia plans to build seven of these nuclear ships. [See also Increasing Nuclear Safety and Security in March 2006 environmental security report]
Source:
Floating nuclear power stations raise spectre of Chernobyl at sea http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article1662889.ece

Growing Health Concerns over Electromagnetic Fields Might Trigger New Regulations

Warnings on Possible Wi-Fi Dangers
The expansion of wireless connections and use increases experts’ concerns and warnings on possible health effects of electronic smog. Recent research suggesting that use of mobile phones might increase brain tumor occurrence worsens concerns about the possible impact of the spreading Wi-Fi networks that expose people to electronic waves involuntarily. The spread of wireless connections might be dangerous mostly to the health of children and to the additional ~3% of population that the World Health Organization estimates are “electrosensitive.” Sir William Stewart––chairman of the UK Health Protection Agency and former chief scientific adviser to the UK Government––along with some European governments, school boards and parents, scientists, and doctors are calling for an official investigation of the risks that electronic waves might pose to human health and the environment. [See also Conviction in Transborder Electromagnetic Pollution Case in May 2005, Study Says Mobile Phones Raise Tumor Risk in April 2006, and Cell Phones Damage Rat Brains in February 2004 environmental security reports.]

Potential Magnetic Fields Regulations in Japan
The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans to introduce regulations concerning magnetic fields around power-transmission cables and other electric facilities. Although the country has regulations on electric fields, per se, magnetic fields are not subject to any standards. A working group will be created in June under the Subcommittee on Electric Power Safety to conduct investigations on the link between electromagnetic fields and human health problems, and to advise the ministry. The initiative seems to be partly triggered by a study to be released soon by the World Health Organization on environmental health standards regarding electromagnetic fields. Along the same lines, the UK is finalizing a report that assumes a link between power lines and cancer, and that therefore recommends regulations for building around high-voltage power cables because of possible health risks.
Sources:
Hi-tech horrors http://comment.independent.co.uk/leading_articles/article2472074.ece
Danger on the airwaves: Is the Wi-Fi revolution a health time bomb? http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/health_medical/article2472140.ece
Apiculture world abuzz over theory that cellphone radiation may be killing bees
http://www.canada.com/topics/technology/news/gizmos/story.html?id=4734ad59-f543-4ac5-ae34-d33431e59be2&k=74835
Industry ministry to regulate magnetic fields http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200704260232.html (article available for limited time on the website)
Power lines in new link to childhood leukaemia http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/21/nleuk21.xml

Technological Breakthroughs with Environmental Security Implications

Biologically Based Dyes Dramatically Lower Solar Cell Costs
Massey University's Nanomaterials Research Centre in Wellington, New Zealand, has developed a range of colored dyes for use in dye-sensitized solar cells that promises to lower costs by 90% compared to silicon-based photo-electric solar cells. The dyes are related to such organic molecules as chlorophyll and hemoglobin. The cells have the added advantage of working well in low-light environments. [See also Photonic Crystal Provides 50% Cost Reduction in March 2007 environmental security report.]
Source:
Taking nature’s cue for cheaper solar power http://masseynews.massey.ac.nz/2007/Press_Releases/04-04-07.html

New Solar Cell/Battery Combination Saves Size and Weight
A new family of batteries incorporating solar cells for self-charging is being developed by an international partnership of Konarka Technologies of Lowell MA, a maker of thin-film "plastic" solar cells, and the German company VARTA-Microbattery, which layered Konarka's technology onto a lithium-polymer battery. Not only are the new devices small and light, they also operate even at lower levels of illumination.
Source:
Gadget recharges itself -- shocking! http://www.thestar.com/sciencetech/article/203401

New Device to Suck CO2 from the Air
Towers with materials that absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) directly from the air and then release it as a pure stream of carbon dioxide for sequestration have been developed by scientists from Columbia University and Global Research Technologies, LLC. It is estimated that if these devices had openings 10 meters by 10 meters they could each extract about 1,000 tons each year; hence, one million of these units could remove 1 billion tons of CO2 from the air per year. These could be placed at the best locations for carbon sequestration, regardless of carbon source.
Sources:
First Successful Demonstration of Carbon Dioxide Air Capture Technology Achieved by Columbia University Scientist and Private Company http://www.earthinstitute.columbia.edu/news/2007/story04-24-07.php
Giant carbon vacuums could cool Earth http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0419/p13s01-sten.html


Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Controversy over a United Nations Environmental Organization Continues
Last February France along with 46 other countries proposed the establishment of a UN Environmental Organization to encourage and coordinate research and government actions to address climate change. During the Security Council’s debate over security implications of climate change, Italy’s deputy foreign minister, Vittorio Craxi, renewed support for creating a UN environmental organization. The U.S. affirmed support for strengthening the United Nations Environment Programme, but saw no need to create a new UN agency, arguing that the existing UNEP is sufficient for helping countries honor environmental treaty obligations. [See also French President Jacques Chirac issues Paris Call for Action for Global Ecological Governance in February 2007, and New International Strategy for Chemicals Management and 9th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council in February 2006 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
U.S. Rejects Call for Tougher U.N. Environment Role http://www.enn.com/today.html?id=12588
Security Council Holds First-Ever Debate on Impact of Climate Change on Peace, Security, Hearing Over 50 Speakers http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/sc9000.doc.htm

European Directive on Ship-Source Pollution Became Effective on April 1, 2007
Directive 2005/35 on ship-source pollution and the introduction of penalties for infringements became effective April 1, 2007 across all 27 EU member states. The Directive introduces application of criminal penalties for gross negligence or illegal discharges of polluting substances at sea. It came into force in October 1, 2005 with implementation on March 1, 2007, and the EU member states were obligated to incorporate it into their national laws by March 31, 2007. Note: by 2011, the International Maritime Organization will require all ships to be equipped with a voyage data recorder, similar to the black box on an aircraft. This will greatly help the new directive’s enforcement. [See also Political Agreement Reached on the European Marine Strategy Directive in December 2006, Europe to Harmonize Marine Pollution Legislation in July 2005, and International Maritime Organization (IMO) wants global rather than many different local or regional rules in January 2003 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
New EU rules to crack down on sea pollution come into effect http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/442
Europe Tightens the Screws on Vessels Polluting Ocean Waters http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2007/2007-03-29-05.asp
Maritime safety, prevention of pollution caused by ships: penalties for infringements http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/file.jsp?id=230932

Roadmap for Establishing the Global System of Marine Protected Areas
Establishing a Marine Protected Areas network by the year 2012 was proposed at the First International Marine Protected Areas Congress held in October 2005. Establishing Networks of Marine Protected Areas – Making It Happen is a roadmap for helping to meet that goal. Launched at the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Marine Protected Area Summit in Washington, DC, April 11, 2007, it was published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in collaboration with the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the World Wildlife Fund–Australia, and The Nature Conservancy. [See also Network of Marine Protection Areas to be Adopted by 2012 in October 2005, Marine Environment Needs More Protection in March 2007, Stronger Regulations to Protect Ocean Marine Environments in March 2006 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
New road map for establishing marine protected area networks http://www.iucn.org/en/news/archive/2007/04/11_marine_protected_areas.htm
Establishing Networks of Marine Protected Areas – Making It Happen http://www.iucn.org/themes/wcpa/biome/marine/mpanetworks/networks.html

New Concerns Rising over Chemical Weapons
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Chemical Weapons Convention’s (CWC) secretariat, focuses on issues related to existing weapons, but specialists argue that new, modern chemicals and production plants could represent even higher risk. Jonathan Tucker of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin remarks that a “new generation of small, flexible batch-processing chemical plants that can quickly be switched to producing any number of chemicals are not being inspected at all… and there are five times as many of them as there are declared dual-use plants.” New molecules, such as the "novichok" nerve agents, or "incapacitants" such as fentanyl are overlooked, undermining the "international norm" and confidence in the CWC. [See also Eleventh Chemical Weapons Convention in December 2006, Five Countries Organize CWC National Authorities in May 2006, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Chemical weapons still causing concern http://www.newscientisttech.com/channel/tech/mg19426014.700?DCMP=NLC-nletter&nsref=mg19426014.700
Chlorine bombs pose new terror risk http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-04-23-chlorine-truck-bomb_N.htm
New chemical rules spark controversy http://www.sanluisobispo.com/353/story/23958.html

Climate Change––Research Aspects
Adaptation and Vulnerability Report by the IPCC
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability reinforced the scale of the implications of climate change and focused the international community on the emergency of acting on mitigation and adaptation strategies. The report shows that the most severe impacts of climate change will be experienced by people in the poorest regions who have emitted the least amount of greenhouse gases. Billions of people would face water scarcity and hundreds of millions, hunger. Vulnerability to climate change could be exacerbated by other stresses––such as poverty, unequal access to resources, and conflict. Africa will be mostly affected by water and food shortage; low-lying areas worldwide are threatened by floods, erosion, and rising sea levels; changes in precipitation patterns and the disappearance of glaciers from Asia to Latin America will affect water availability for human consumption, agriculture and energy generation; heat waves, forest fires, and extreme weather conditions will increase mainly in North America and Europe. “These projected impacts tell us that we urgently need to launch an agreement on future international action to combat climate change, as well as look for effective ways to generate the funds needed for adaptation,” says Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The “Summary for Policymakers” suggests that a portfolio of adaptation and mitigation measures is needed to diminish the risks associated with climate change. The Summary, approved by government officials, will most probably guide future strategies such as a post-Kyoto policy, and establishing global mitigation and adaptation frameworks. The third report, Mitigation of Climate Change is scheduled for release in May, and the final Synthesis Report for November 2007.

Indian and Chinese Assessments of Climate Change Consequences
Indian and Chinese authorities have increased warnings on the consequences of global warming on the coastal areas. In India, the National Coastal Zone Management Authority notes that millions of people living along India's 3,700 km (2,300 mile) eastern coast are vulnerable to storms, flooding and tsunamis; sea levels in some parts of the Bay of Bengal were rising at a rate of 3.14 mm annually, while off the coast of Khulna in Bangladesh the rate is 10 mm every year, and rising sea levels are eroding 1 meter (3.2 feet) of land every year along the coast of West Bengal state. India plans to conduct a study next year on how to mitigate the vulnerability to climate change of its 7,500 km (4,660 mile) coastal area. The first Chinese official National Climate Change Assessment also warns on devastating consequences of climate change on the Chinese economy (mainly agriculture) and increasing vulnerability of its coastal areas. Nevertheless, economic development remains the country's primary task, neglecting radical measures to address greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, states a report.

Indigenous Peoples Highly Vulnerable to Climate Change
An international symposium at Oxford University focused on the threat of climate change to the world’s indigenous peoples. They have already begun feeling the consequences of climate change and in some cases their whole way of life has to change radically, as they depend directly on natural resources threatened by global warming. It was agreed that indigenous communities have to work together with scientists and decision makers for designing and implementing adaptation measures for preventing possible catastrophic consequences of global warming on their people.
Sources:
Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM6avr07.pdf
UN Climate Change Impact Report: Poor Will Suffer Most http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2007/2007-04-06-01.asp
Deep Pockets Needed for Climate Change Adaptation http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2007/2007-04-09-01.asp
UN Experts Near Deal on Climate After Disputes http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41284/story.htm
Wars of the world: how global warming puts 60 nations at risk http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/climate_change/article2411376.ece
Briny future for vulnerable Malta http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6525069.stm
Bangladesh: A nation in fear of drowning http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/climate_change/article2458848.ece
Global Warming to Devastate Indian Coast – Expert http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41512/story.htm
China Says Global Warming Threatens Development http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/41506/story.htm
Symposium: Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change. Thursday and Friday, 12-13 April 2007
Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/news/events/070412conference.php
Indigenous Peoples: the forgotten ‘polar bears’? http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/po/news/2006-07/apr/17.shtml
Indigenous Peoples on Climate Change Front Lines http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/apr2007/2007-04-19-03.asp

Space Technology for Environmental Security
The 2007 ESA Envisat Symposium discussed how ESA (European Space Agency) satellites could improve understanding of the carbon cycle and thus advance climate change forecasting, improve decisionmaking, and also improve monitoring of international treaties aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, such as the Kyoto Protocol. Special sessions were dedicated to the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) program, and use of Earth observation satellites in support of international environmental conventions. Prior to the Symposium a high-level conference was held: “The Way to the European Earth Observation System GMES––Munich Roadmap” regarding the first GEMES services, the Commission’s proposal for GEMES long-term sustainability, and the proposal for adoption by the Council and implementation of the first generation of GMES-dedicated satellites. GMES is also a key part of the new European Space Policy adopted by the European Commission, to be presented for discussion and endorsement to the Space Council on 22 May 2007. [See also Space Technology for Improving Planetary Knowledge and Security in April 2006, Space Technology to Help Enforce Environmental Regulations in November and Climate Change--Improved Satellite Climate Change Monitoring in June 2005 and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Satellites play vital role in understanding the carbon cycle http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMLEHMJC0F_planet_0.html
2007 ESA ENVISAT Symposium http://www.envisat07.org/
Envisat Symposium 2007 kicks off in Switzerland http://www.esa.int/esaEO/SEMNU9MJC0F_index_0.html
Satellites vital for environmental agreement http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/ESApod/SEMQ8DMJC0F_0.html
A high-level conference on Global Monitoring for Environment and Security http://www.gmes.info/newsdetail+M5a32281b86a.0.html
EC has adopted the European Space Policy http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/space/index_en.html

European Temporary Committee on Climate Change to Begin Operations in May
The European Parliament approved the establishment of a new temporary committee on climate change. The 60-member committee will start work on May 10, 2007. It will design and suggest strategies and policy options for the 27 EU states to address energy and climate change issues. It is also expected that the committee will strengthen EU’s international role in intensifying action to tackle climate change, pushing it to the top of the international agenda and furthering post-Kyoto Protocol's negotiations. [See also EU Energy and Climate Change Policy in March 2007 environmental security report.]
Sources:
Commissioner Dimas welcomes European Parliament decision to set up temporary committee on climate change
http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/568&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Stavros Dimas. Member of European Commission, responsible for environment Climate change and sustainable use of energy ASEM Environment Minister's meeting Copenhague, 25 April 2007 http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/07/250&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

Ban on Incandescent Light Bulbs Expands
As part of the plan to cut down on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, the phase-out of incandescent bulbs expands. Canada is expected to introduce new regulations by the end of this year, requesting the phase-out of inefficient incandescent lighting in common uses be completed by 2012. Canada is the second country to introduce such a nationwide regulation, after Australia, where the ban is scheduled for 2009–10. [See also Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) May Surge to Fore in February and European Lamp Companies Push Compact Fluorescents, as Does the EU in March 2007 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Lighting the Way to a Greener Future: Canada's New Government to Ban Inefficient Light Bulbs http://news.gc.ca/cfmx/view/en/index.jsp?articleid=295459&
Ontario turns out the lights on inefficient bulbs http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2007/04/18/ontario-lightbulb-ban.html
Australia says lights out to incandescent bulbs http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2007/02/20/tech-bulb.html

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
UK Review Faults Governments' Nanotech Risk Assessment Plans
The UK's Council for Science and Technology (CST) has released a review of the government's response to the recommendations on nanotech risk studies made in the Royal Society's 2004 report. The review states that the government's efforts to provide support for such research are progressing too slowly. It equally criticizes the US and other countries for similar failures.
Sources:
Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies: A Review of Government’s Progress on its Policy Commitments http://www.cst.gov.uk/cst/news/Files/nano_review.pdf
Calls for More Resaerch (sic) into Potential Risks of Nanotechnology http://www.azonano.com/news.asp?newsID=3912

Nanomaterials' Biological Risks a Complex Problem
Two research projects at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, led by Asst. Prof. of Biomedical Engineering Deanna M. Thompson and Asst. Prof. of Earth and Environmental Sciences Anurag Sharma, have shown that the size, type, and dispersion of nanomaterials all may affect the materials' biological effects. Prof. Thompson's work dealt with the effect of nanotubes' degree of dispersion on their impact on cell growth, while Prof. Anurag's study was on long-duration effects on bacteria of nanotubes as compared with activated carbon or C60 fullerenes.
Sources:
When It Comes to Risk, Not All Nanomaterials Are Created Equal http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2038&setappvar=page(1)
When It Comes To Risk, Not All Nanomaterials Are Created Equal http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070326095826.htm

Online Consultation on Nanomaterials Specification in EU Technical Guidance for Chemicals
According to an announcement from the EU, "The [European] Commission has … launched a public consultation of the preliminary opinion of the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) on the appropriateness of the EU Technical Guidance Documents for chemicals in regard to nanomaterials. The online consultation, which will run until 23 May 2007, aims to gather feedback on proposed modifications to the Technical Guidance Documents and on needs for further research and development." The report notes that "… special characteristics of nanomaterials - potentially differing considerably from the conventional chemicals - have to be appropriately characterised. Furthermore, their toxicological behaviour and effects on health and the environment need to be assessed properly." Further, "The SCENIHR identifies issues requiring improvements in the technical guidance and methodologies, and proposes a staged strategy for the risk assessment of nanomaterials."
Source:
Public consultation on SCENIHR Opinion on The appropriateness of the risk assessment methodology in accordance with the Technical Guidance Documents for new and existing substances for assessing the risks of nanomaterials http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_scenihr/scenihr_cons_04_en.htm

New Nanotoxicology Journal Features Article on Airborne Nanomaterials
Informa Healthcare has started publication of a new quarterly journal, Nanotoxicology, in both online and print versions. Information about it can be found at http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t716100760
The inaugural issue features a 16-page article, Assessing Exposure to Airborne Nanomaterials: Current Abilities and Future Requirements," written by Andrew Maynard, chief science advisor at the Wilson Center's Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, and Robert Aitken, director of strategic consulting at the Institute of Occupational Medicine (Edinburgh, UK),
Sources:
Nanotoxicology http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t716100760
New methods and tools needed to measure exposure to airborne nanomaterials http://www.physorg.com/news96032587.html

Nanotech Standards Workshop Report Released
The Institute for Food and Agricultural Standards (IFAS) at Michigan State University has released a 32-page report, An Issues Landscape for Nanotechnology Standards: Report of a Workshop. According to the announcement, "The report discusses critical issues surrounding five standards themes affecting …nanotechnologies … (1) timing and standards-setting, (2) product vs. process standards, (3) international harmonization, (4) integration of operational standards, and (5) participation and transparency."
Sources:
An Issues Landscape For Nanotechnology Standards: Report of a Workshop http://ifas.msu.edu/NSWorkshopReport.pdf
Assessing exposure to airborne nanomaterials: Current abilities and future requirements
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a776419006~db=all~order=page (abstract)

Nanotech Products Meeting to Be Held in London
Nanotech Products Meeting to Be Held in London, 16-17 May––updated information is now available at http://www.nano.org.uk/events/ionevents.htm The meeting, Nanotechnology – Products for Environmental Benefit, will be held in London, 16-17 May 2007, by The Royal Society, Carlton House Terrace. The meeting will examine nanotechnologies that are described as “offering real environmental benefit, and will also review the findings of the recently published STOA report on the Role of Nanotechnology in Chemical Substitution.”

Reports Suggested for Review

Climate Change a Serious Threat to Security, Conclude Eminent Military Officers
National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, a report by the CNA Corporation, presents the conclusions of an eminent Military Advisory Board (consisting of retired senior military officers and national security experts) on the security implications of climate change. The report looks at the geo-strategic implications of climate change in general and its effects on international security. It explores specific regional security challenges in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas; discusses the direct impact of some climate change aspects on military systems and operations; and presents a set of findings and recommendations related to mitigation, adaptation, and preparation, as well as policies in response to climate change. It warns that climate change could seriously exacerbate already marginal living standards… causing widespread political instability and the likelihood of failed states.... The chaos that results can be an incubator of civil strife, genocide, and the growth of terrorism… The U.S. may be drawn more frequently into these situations, either alone or with allies, to help provide stability before conditions worsen and are exploited by extremists. The U.S. may also be called upon to undertake stability and reconstruction efforts once a conflict has begun, to avert further disaster and reconstitute a stable environment.” Therefore, “The consequences of climate change can affect the organization, training, equipping, and planning of the military services.”
Sources:
National Security and the Threat of Climate Change http://securityandclimate.cna.org/report/National%20Security%20and%20the%20Threat%20of%20Climate%20Change.pdf
Climate Change Poses Serious Threat to U.S. National Security http://securityandclimate.cna.org/news/
Could global warming cause war? http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0419/p02s01-usgn.html

Environment and Security Initiative Progress Report 2006
The Environment and Security Initiative––An international partnership for managing conflict and risk, progress report 2006, highlights advancement of ENVSEC sub-regional projects’ implementation in the Southern Caucasus, Central Asia and South Eastern and Eastern Europe, as well as the initiation of an environment and security risk assessment in the Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine sub-region. The issues identified for urgent attention by ENVSEC include: wastes, stocks of rocket fuel and obsolete pesticides from Soviet times, shared waters, and the continuing environmental consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. “Activities conducted under the ENVSEC Initiative show that environment can act as a bridge for crossboundary cooperation” says the report. The 2007–2009 work program includes over 70 projects based on region-specific priorities “related to need of further assessments, policy development, institution and capacity building as well as technical cooperation.”
Source:
The Environment and Security Initiative––An international partnership for managing conflict and risk http://www.envsec.org/docs/ENVSEC%20Progress%20Report%202006.pdf

Earth Portal Is a New Online Resource for Environmental Information
The National Council for Science and the Environment, the secretariat for the Environmental Information Coalition, has announced that the Coalition is launching a new online environmental information resource, the Earth Portal www.earthportal.org. The site features an Encyclopedia of Earth (2,300 articles to start with), Earth News, Earth Forum, and a weekly Environment in Focus special article. It is a free, peer reviewed, comprehensive source for “timely, objective, science-based information… built by a global community of environmental experts”.
Sources:
NCSE Strategic Overview http://www.ncseonline.org/05earthportal/cms.cfm?id=1250
Earth Portal http://www.earthportal.org

Proceedings of the Workshop Risk, Uncertainty and Decision Analysis for Environmental Security and Non-chemical Stressors
The workshop “Risk, Uncertainty and Decision Analysis for Environmental Security and Non-chemical Stressors” was held April 26-29, 2007 in Lisbon, Portugal. The objective of the workshop was to explore how to improve risk assessment and modeling for non-chemical environmental stressors by adapting chemical risk assessment approaches and tools. The outcomes of the workshops were not available at the time of this writing.
Source:
Risk, Uncertainty and Decision Analysis for Environmental Security and Non-chemical Stressors http://www.risk-trace.com/portugal/index.php

Back to Top


March 2007

China to Pass U.S. in CO2 Emissions this Year Making U.S. and China Target for Changing Climate Change Policies

A strategic focus on just the U.S. and China is the most efficient use of environmental lobbying power, said Dr. Jessica Matthews, President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, at a recent session at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Environment and Security Program. The magnitude of changes necessary to affect the growth of greenhouse gas emissions will require the leadership of the top two emitters. Without them, she argued, the changes in other countries are of insufficient significance. China may pass the U.S. in annual CO2 emissions before the end of 2007.
Sources:
Looking Forward: Sustaining the Earth and Humanity—Implications for the New UN Secretary-General http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=1411&fuseaction=topics.event_summary&event_id=218883
China seen topping U.S. carbon emissions in 2007 http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L22726612.htm


International Polar Year 2007-2008

The International Polar Year, the largest polar research program for 50 years, officially started on 1 March 2007 and will involve thousands of scientists, from more than 60 countries, working on 220 projects focused on the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Its purpose is to enhance the understanding of physical, biological and social processes of those regions, and Earth's climate and ecosystems. The outcomes are expected to improve assessments and forecasts, and eventually generate recommendations for further research and policies. In 2009, after the IPY ends, ESA will launch the Cryosat 2 spacecraft to continue monitoring the Polar Regions mainly for changes in the thickness of the polar ice sheets and floating sea ice.
Sources:
ESA contribution to International Polar Year 2007-2008 http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMG1DN0LYE_Protecting_0.html
U.S. Launches International Polar Year on Feb. 26 http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=108408
Huge polar study ready to begin http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6389857.stm


New Research Finds Human Energy Usage is a Long-Term Heating Problem Independent of Greenhouse Gases and Solar Radiation

In addition to greenhouse gases and rises in solar radiation, the planet could continue to be warmed by the increasing number of people who are using ever larger amounts of energy that add heat from their use (combustion engines, nuclear reactors, etc.). In a briefing by Professor Eric Chaisson of Tufts University to the Foundation for the Future this month [March 2007], he demonstrated that human energy use will continue to warm the planet: 1) If global non-renewable energy use continues increasing at its current rate of ~2% annually and nothing else changes, then a 3 degree Celsius rise will occur in ~8 doubling times, or ~280 years (or ~350 years for a 10 degree Celsius rise); and 2) More realistically, if world population plateaus at 10 billion inhabitants by 2100, developed (OECD) countries increase non-renewable energy use at 1% annually, and developing (non-OECD) countries do so at ~5% annually until east-west energy equity is achieved in mid-22nd century after which they too continue generating more energy at 1% annually, then a 3 degree Celsius rise will occur in ~300 years, or 10 degrees Celsius in ~450 years. Hence, it is necessary to find energy sources, such as geothermal, tidal, wind, and photovoltaics that, unlike fossil or nuclear sources, do not add heat as they convert energy for human usage.
Source:
Energy, Ethics, and the Far Future DRAFT #2 by Eric J. Chaisson

Marine Environment Needs More Protection
New Marine Protected Areas Proposed
New proposals aim to protect critical marine ecosystems and whale and dolphin habitats in several Mediterranean Sea areas and the Black Sea from excessive fishing, intense shipping traffic, and maritime pollution. The proposed areas include (see map in the Appendix): the entire Alborán Sea and Straits of Gibraltar; the Strait of Sicily; the Amvrakikos Gulf (NW Greece); two Black Sea areas; and seven other Mediterranean areas––5 in Greece, 2 in Italy. The proposals will be put forward to the 20-country parties Agreement on the Conservation of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area (ACCOBAMS) by its Scientific Committee at the Meeting of the Parties to be held in Croatia, in October. Meanwhile, the Spanish Navy has asked ships to slow to 15 knots and sail "in a maximum state of vigilance" to avoid colliding with whales in the Strait of Gibraltar. [Note: The state of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2006 report released this month by FAO warns that several species of fish in high seas outside of national jurisdictions are in danger.]
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) launched a campaign for creating a network of conservation areas in the Southern Ocean by 2012, to protect it against unsustainable fishing, marine pollution, and effects of climate change. WWF will put forward the Southern Ocean protection proposal at the next Antarctic Treaty Consultative meeting, to be held from 30 April to 11 May 2007 in New Delhi, India. [Note: see item Website for Marine Protected Areas and Cetaceans’ Sanctuaries further in this report]
Sources:
Whale Protections Proposed for Strait of Gibraltar http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2007/2007-03-05-02.asp
Urgent protection proposed for whale and dolphin habitats in the Mediterranean and Black Seas http://www.cetaceanhabitat.org/view_all_news.php#
The state of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2006 http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/A0699e/A0699e00.htm
Slow Down and Watch Out for Whales, Spain Tells Ships in Strait of Gibraltar http://www.enn.com/today.html?id=12286
WWF launches marine protection campaign in the Southern Ocean http://www.panda.org/news_facts/newsroom/index.cfm?uNewsID=95080

Malacca Straits Need Increased Protection from Various Security Threats
The Malacca Strait, one of the most important shipping lanes in the world, faces many challenges, including piracy, terrorists’ attacks and environmental degradation. If terrorists were to sink a ship at the shallowest part of the strait, no ship could pass through, and all traffic would be blocked. At the same time, increased traffic volumes add pressures to the ecosystem of the straits. In an address jointly hosted by the embassy of Malaysia and the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, the Hon Dato' Sri Najib Tun Abdul Razak, Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, urged the need for united efforts by all users of the straits to address these challenges.
Source:
Malacca, Asia's Most Important Sea Lane http://theseoultimes.com/ST/?url=/ST/db/read.php?idx=4957


Argentina Redeploys Military to Defend Water and Oil

The Argentine government is changing its military strategy based on the forecast that conflicts over water and oil are the most likely long-term national security threats. The most vulnerable area is the Guarani aquifer that neighbors Uruguay, Brazil, and Paraguay. The Army "Plan 2025" was launched last year and includes parceling the country into regions based on their resource potential––mainly oil and fresh water. "Each division will be based in the geographical areas where the natural resources that we hypothetically must defend are located," Argentine Army Commander-in-Chief Roberto Bendini said in revealing the plan.
Sources:
Argentina’s New War Doctrine for Resources
http://visionesalternativas.com/article.asp?ID=%7bA7C2A077-ED2E-4B52-B75B-AEAE8AA0713F%7d%29&language=EN (by subscription only)
The Ugly American Environmentalist http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1595221,00.html
Eco-millionaire's land grab prompts fury http://www.guardian.co.uk/argentina/story/0,,2005494,00.html


Technological Breakthroughs with Environmental Security Implications

Portable Mass Spectrometer and Gas Chromatograph
Researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah have developed a portable mass spectrometer and gas chromatograph for detecting biological and chemical agents. This easy to use and portable instrument can analyze a sample and––based on an internal library of known chemicals and biological agents––identify the material and the level of danger. The researchers intend to create a palm-sized version of the device.
Source:
BYU Scientists Create Portable Spectrometer http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/63705

FAO/IAEA Meeting Discusses Portable Disease Detection Devices
A five-day meeting in Verona, Italy discussed new mobile rapid disease detection technology that experts say could revolutionize the fight against bird flu and many other livestock disorders. One of the topics at the conference, sponsored by the Joint FAO/IAEA Programme, a Vienna-based partnership between FAO and the International Atomic Energy Agency, was a $1,000 mobile test system and reader the size of a small portable television. Further work is in progress to reduce it to what researchers call a "laboratory in a pen".
Source:
Portable lab could revolutionize bird flu detection http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2007/1000517/index.html

Photonic Crystal Provides 50% Cost Reduction
StarSolar, in Cambridge MA, has developed a technology which allows a solar cell to produce the same amount of electricity with much less silicon, thereby cutting the cost of the energy by up to half, according to the developing organization, a licensee of MIT. The technique uses a so-called photonic crystal to reflect the incident light in such a way that more of it reaches the silicon layer, which can therefore be thinner.
Source:
Cheaper, More Efficient Solar Cells http://www.technologyreview.com/Energy/18415/

Refrigerator Temperature Sensor Mod Saves Energy
The UK firm eCube Distribution Ltd., of Ilford, Essex, is marketing a device that modifies the operation of a refrigerator's temperature sensor in a way that may significantly reduce the unit's energy consumption. It consists of a wax sleeve that fits around the sensor and which has the thermal characteristics of a solid like food. An unmodified refrigerator senses the temperature of the air in the unit, rather than that of the contained food. When the door is opened, the temperature of the air rises rapidly, often triggering the cooling element to start, even though that of the food remains unchanged. The modified sensor causes cooling to be activated only when the temperature of the actual contents exceeds the preset limit. In a test in a hotel, where the doors are frequently opened and closed, the device reduced energy consumption by 30%.
Source:
£25 fridge gadget that could slash greenhouse emissions http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,,2036183,00.html


Updates on Previously Identified Issues

UN StEP Initiative for Reducing E-Waste
Solving the E-waste Problem (StEP) is a global public-private initiative coordinated by the United Nations University with the overall aim of improving e-waste management by creating global standards for e-scrap and recycling. The partnership includes various UN organizations, major high-tech manufacturers, and governmental, NGO and academic institutions, along with recycling/refurbishing companies. Five task forces will help shape new e-waste standards: Policy & legislation (assessment of current e-waste policies and recommendations for future strategies); ReDesign (improve electronics design for better reuse, repair, refurbishment and recycling); ReUse (development of a global reuse system to minimize environmental impacts) ReCycle (develop sustainable e-waste recycling systems); and Capacity building (globally accessible documentation on e-waste). The initiative was officially launched on March 7. [See also UN E-Waste Forum and Basel Convention’s Conference of Parties in December 2006, Toxic Waste Disposal of Global Growing Concern in September 2006, WEEE Comes into Effect in August 2005, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
In the spotlight: the global e-waste problem http://www.step-initiative.org/index.php
Formal Launch of StEP 2007-03-06 http://www.step-initiative.org/news.php?id=63

Progress Made on Banning Cluster Bombs
At the Conference on Cluster Munitions held last month [February 2007] in Oslo, 46 states and several international organizations decided to develop, by 2008, a legally binding international instrument to ban the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions, as well as to create a framework for dealing with the consequence of cluster munitions’ use in the affected areas. Environmental damage and civil casualties are the highest concern for banning cluster bombs. Next meetings are planned for May/June in Lima, November/December in Vienna and early 2008 in Dublin. Last year Belgium has become the first country to ban cluster bombs, and this month [March 2007] the Belgian Senate passed legislation that criminalizes investment in companies that make cluster munitions. The Belgian Parliament plans to publish a list of companies that manufacture such munitions. Austria announced a moratorium on the use, production, or trade of cluster munitions. Canada promised to destroy its stockpile of cluster munitions. The U.S. Democrats recently introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate proposing to “restrict federal funds for the use, sale or transfer of cluster bombs.” Presently there are 34 countries producing cluster munitions and about 75 countries that stockpile them. [See also related item CCW Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War Entered into Force in November 2006, NGOs Launch Campaign to Ban Cluster Bombs in November 2003, and Draft Protocol on Cluster Bombs Cleanup Liability in June 2003 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions, 22-23 February 2007
http://www.regjeringen.no/en/ministries/ud/Selected-topics/Humanitarian-efforts/The-Norwegian-Governments-initiative-for/conference.html?id=449312&epslanguage=EN-GB
Declaration - Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions, 22 - 23 February 2007 http://www.norway.org.et/policy/cluster/Declaration+on+Cluster+Munitions.htm
Cluster Munitions: Statement to the Canadian Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (by Steve Goose co-chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition) http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/03/01/canada15442.htm
Belgium criminalizes investment in cluster bomb manufacturers http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2007/03/belgium-criminalizes-investment-in.php
Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2007 (Introduced in Senate) S 594 IS http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:S.594:

New Energy and Climate Change Policies
Britain to Push on Adding Climate Change to Security Council Agenda
Britain intends to put climate change on the UN Security Council agenda in April––when it assumes the presidency. The intention is to stress that climate change is a matter of international security––from disputes over diminishing natural resources to mass migrations that could exacerbate conflicts. AIDS was similarly put on the Security Council agenda in 2001 and had positive results. Britain began lobbying the other 14 Security Council member states but seems to meet resistance from countries such as the U.S., China, and South Africa.
EU Energy and Climate Change Policy
The European Council adopted its new Energy Policy to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% of 1990 levels by 2020–– a target that could rise to 30% if the U.S., China, and other economic powers agreed to comparable reductions; and by 2020 to have 20% if its energy from renewable sources and 10% of its transport fuel be biofuels. The EU Conference of Presidents decided on March 15 to set up a temporary committee on climate change to provide clear information and suggest strategies to address the issue.
On March 28, the Commission unveiled its “green taxes” strategy that suggests splitting the EU-wide minimum excise duties into an energy tax and an environmental tax to reflect products’ impact on the environment and encourage environmentally friendly goods. [See also EU Plans Tougher CO2 Emissions Cuts in February 2007, and New European Energy Policy Developments in March 2006 environmental security reports.]
Britain’s draft Climate Change Bill is pushing for a drastic emissions’ reduction policy and could make the country the first to limit greenhouse gases by law. The proposal—to become law next year if it passes public and parliamentary consultation––stipulates that an independent panel should set a "carbon budget" every five years, with the goal to cut CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050, from 1990 levels, and between 26% and 32% by 2020. Governments that miss the set target could be held liable.
U.S. Created Committee to Address Climate Change and Energy Security Issues
The U.S. Congress created a 15-member Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming to provide information and advice on the best policies to address America’s energy security and climate-change issues. "Energy independence and climate change are issues of national security and national urgency," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announcing the creation of the committee. [Note: A nationwide poll conducted for the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy revealed that 63% of Americans agree that the U.S. "is in as much danger from environmental hazards, such as air pollution and global warming, as it is from terrorists" and 81% of Americans are ready to take action personally in response to climate change.]
Post-Kyoto Negotiations
EU environment minister Stavros Dimas wants to increase European efforts to help advancing international post-Kyoto negotiations for limiting the world's greenhouse gas emissions. The most important next steps are the June G8 meeting in Germany and the December conference in Bali, Indonesia, where world environment ministers should agree on a mandate to start negotiations for a post-Kyoto Protocol. Denmark offered to hold a UN climate summit in December 2009, when––it hopes––a new global climate deal will be launched.
Sustainable Development Strategies
The Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting for the 15th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-15) took place February 26-March 2, 2007 and discussed policy options and possible actions related to four thematic areas: energy, industrial development, air pollution/atmosphere, and climate change in the context of sustainable development, as well as the situation of small island developing states (SIDS), and inter-linkages and cross-cutting issues in the framework of the thematic areas. The draft Chair’s “negotiating document” that will be transmitted directly to CSD-15 has six sections, covering the four thematic areas, inter-linkages and crosscutting issues, and review and follow up. The 15th session of the CSD will be held April 30–May 11, 2007, in New York. Climate change also topped the agenda of the G-8 meeting held in Potsdam, Germany, March 16-17. The meeting, attended by environmental ministers of the G-8 countries plus China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, aimed to prepare for the G8 summit to be held in June, in Heiligendamm and the discussions for the December Climate Change Conference. Although consensus was reached on the need to protect the world's environment, consensus was not yet achieved on either post-Kyoto strategies nor on a global carbon emissions trading scheme like the one used in the EU.
Sources:
British push on CO2 at Security Council http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,,2028872,00.html
Britain puts climate change on UN agenda http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article1485323.ece
European Council conclusions http://www.consilium.europa.eu/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/ec/93135.pdf
Hope for major headway on climate protection http://www.eu2007.de/en/News/Press_Releases/March/0309BKER.html
Business: 'Climate action useless without global support' http://www.euractiv.com/en/climate-change/business-climate-action-useless-global-support/article-162543
Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on climate change http://www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp?nid=2474
Parliament sets up Climate Change Committee http://www.euractiv.com/en/climate-change/parliament-sets-climate-change-committee/article-162509
EU to use green tax in fight against climate change http://euobserver.com/9/23802/?rk=1
'Binding' carbon targets proposed http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/6444145.stm
EU's 2020 energy goals to cost over €1 trillion http://euobserver.com/9/23800
Pelosi Announces Members of Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming http://speaker.gov/newsroom/pressreleases?id=0091
Pelosi on House Vote to Create Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming http://speaker.gov/newsroom/pressreleases?id=0090
Environmental Poll: March 2007 http://www.yale.edu/envirocenter/environmentalpoll.htm
Polling the People (interview with Dan Esty) http://www.loe.org/shows/shows.htm?programID=07-P13-00011#feature6
Global talks on new climate deal must start now, commissioner says http://euobserver.com/9/23797/?rk=1
Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (26 Feb - 2 Mar 2007) http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd15/csd15_ipm.htm
Summary of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting for the Fifteenth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development http://www.iisd.ca/vol05/enb05243e.html
Climate change conference of key nations achieves ‘important progress’ – UN official http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=21929&Cr=&Cr1=
G8 climate consensus emerging, U.S. odd man out
http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/3/18/worldupdates/2007-03-17T215237Z_01_NOOTR_RTRJONC_0_-291368-2&sec=Worldupdates

International Early Warning Programme to Begin Operations
The First Advisory Group Meeting of the International Early Warning Programme (IEWP) was held March 26-27, at the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany. Relevant representatives from 20 specialized UN agencies attended the meeting to set a framework for the program’s operations, discussing the best strategies to help mitigate the impact of natural disasters––from earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes to floods and wildfires––and to decide how the early warning system could be implemented worldwide. The outcomes of the meeting were not yet available at the time of this writing. [See also Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System in the Indian Ocean in December 2005, and other related items in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. Platform for the Promotion of Early Warning http://www.unisdr.org/ppew/
The International Early Warning Programme (IEWP) Strategic Plan http://www.unisdr.org/ppew/iewp/pdf/IEWP(I)-7.pdf
Pushing ahead with global disaster early-warning system, UN convenes experts meeting http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=22010&Cr=disaster&Cr1=
First Advisory Group Meeting, 26-27 March 2007, Bonn, Germany http://www.unisdr.org/ppew/iewp/meetings.htm

China Calls for Enhanced Cooperation on Environmental Protection in Northeast Asia
At the Opening of the 12th Senior Officials Meeting of the North-East Asia Sub-regional Program for Environmental Cooperation, Cui Tiankai, Assistant Foreign Minister of China, said environmental protection is an integral part of international and regional cooperation as nations face a number of traditional and non-traditional security threats. He urged six member countries (China, Japan, North Korea, Mongolia, Russia and South Korea) to enhance cooperation on environment and sustainable development. [See also Asia-Pacific Should Intensify Green Growth Efforts in December 2006, New Environmental Think Tank for Asia in August 2006, and Meeting of Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate in January 2006 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
North-East Asia Sub-regional Program for Environmental Cooperation http://www.neaspec.org/index.asp
Address by Mr. Cui Tiankai http://www.fmprc.gov.cn/eng/zxxx/t305589.htm

Climate Change––Research Developments
The UN report Confronting Climate Change: Avoiding the Unmanageable and Managing the Unavoidable, by the Scientific Expert Group on Climate Change and Sustainable Development, outlines strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change. It calls for international policies that would limit global temperature increases to 2-2.5°C above the 1750 pre-industrial level, which would require reducing greenhouse gas emissions, mainly CO2, which shouldn’t rise above current levels by 2020 and decline to a third of this level by 2100. The measures include implementing energy-efficient technologies and standards, designing adaptation and preparedness strategies including coping with climate refugees, and accelerating negotiations for an international framework for addressing climate change and its consequences. The report is the result of the two-year work of a team of 18 distinguished scientists from 11 countries and was prepared for the 15th session of the CSD.
Projected distributions of novel and disappearing climates by 2100 AD is an analysis of ecological consequences of climate change by the end of the century, in two case scenarios outlined by the Inter governmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) 4th Assessment report [see last month’s item 9.3.1 IPCC Assessment Report Intensifies the Debate on Global Warming], business-as-usual, and reduced-emissions scenarios. The findings include radical transformation of some existent climate regions (mainly in tropical mountain areas, Amazon and Indonesian rainforests, and towards the poles) and the prospects of appearance of completely, yet unknown, new climate conditions (primarily in the tropics and subtropics), with the associated respective implications for the ecosystem, including emergence of new species and the extinction of those that can’t adapt or migrate. The analysis was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 10.1073/pnas.0606292104.
Other reliable climate studies speak about new findings on effects of global warming and pollution on the polar environments and their implications. It is estimated that Greenland and Antarctica are each losing mass overall, and their combined imbalance is about 125 gigatons per year of ice, determining a rise in sea level by 0.35 millimeters per year. A review of the latest data reveals that melting ice from Antarctica and Greenland is responsible for just 12% of the current rate of global sea level rise, the remaining 88% being due to the expansion of warming waters, and melting of glaciers and ice caps outside Greenland and Antarctica. Although it is difficult to predict Greenland and Antarctica melting behavior, the researchers note that they hold enough water to make sea levels rise by 70 meters.
Sources:
Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting (26 Feb–2 Mar 2007) http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd15/csd15_ipm.htm
Confronting Climate Change: Avoiding the Unmanageable and Managing the Unavoidable (UN report) http://www.unfoundation.org/SEG/
Summary of the Intergovernmental Preparatory Meeting for the Fifteenth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development http://www.iisd.ca/vol05/enb05243e.html
Projected distributions of novel and disappearing climates by 2100 AD http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0606292104v1 (abstract)
100-Year Forecast: New Climate Zones Humans Have Never Seen http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleid=90A5DC7C-E7F2-99DF-320EEF89EB22219C&chanId=sa022
Climate studies show polar warming trend http://www.usatoday.com/weather/climate/2007-03-16-polar-studies_n.htm
Recent Sea-Level Contributions of the Antarctic and Greenland Ice Sheets http://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/geography/ShepherdEtAl.pdf
Perspectives on the Arctic's shrinking sea-ice cover http://www.citeulike.org/article/1178289 (abstract)
Antarctic melting may be speeding up http://ca.today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=2007-03-23T103106Z_01_SYD275118_RTRIDST_0_NEWS-OCEANS-COL.XML
INTERVIEW - Scientist Says Sea Level Rise Could Accelerate http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/40821/story.htm
Ice sheet complexity leaves sea level rise uncertain http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11396-ice-sheet-complexity-leaves-sea-level-rise-uncertain.html
European Marine Species Displaced by Warming Climate http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2007/2007-03-05-01.asp

Water Scarcity
This year’s World Water Day theme was ‘Coping with Water Scarcity’ to highlight limited water resources and the imbalances between availability and demand. If today water scarcity affects 700 million people around the world, by 2025, this could rise to more than 3 billion. Since many of the world's rivers and aquifers are shared among countries, conflicts are likely to be exacerbated, unless integrated cross-border water management systems are implemented. Several reports released on the occasion of World Water Day reveal today’s realities, suggesting policies and future possible developments. The WWF report, World's Top Rivers at Risk, warns that global warming and man-made causes destroy some of the world's largest rivers, threatening ecosystem and people’s livelihood. The report assesses pollution, development, and water management of ten of the world's most important rivers: the Nile, the Danube, the Rio Grande, La Plata, Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Ganges, Indus, and Murray-Darling. It is calling on policymakers to take notice of the emergency nature of the situation and to set up strategies to reverse damage to freshwater sources. “Conservation of rivers and wetlands must be seen as part and parcel of national security, health and economic success,” stressed Jamie Pittock, WWF Global Freshwater Programme Director. The IPCC report Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, forecasts that “hundreds of millions of Africans and tens of millions of Latin Americans who now have water will be short of it in less than 20 years. By 2050, more than 1 billion people in Asia could face water shortages. By 2080, water shortages could threaten 1.1 billion to 3.2 billion people, depending on the level of greenhouse gases that cars and industry spew into the air.” The report will be released at the beginning of April. As Peru’s glaciers are melting, the country might run out of water. In China, air pollution is causing reduced rainfall, increasing drought in northern China. [See also World Water Forum in March 2006, Unless Water Management Improves, Conflicts over Water Are Inevitable in August 2006, and other previous environmental security reports on the water issue.]
Sources:
World Water Day 2007 http://www.unwater.org/wwd07/flashindex.html
Water for Life Decade http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/
Going nowhere fast: Top rivers face mounting threats http://www.panda.org/news_facts/newsroom/index.cfm?uNewsID=96520
Climate Report Warns of Drought, Disease http://www.physorg.com/news92763803.html
World Bank urges action to manage water scarcity in Middle East and north Africa http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/03/11/africa/ME-GEN-Water-Scarcity.php
Peru's alarming water truth http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/6412351.stm
Polluted air 'triggering drought' in northern China http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3469&language=1
EU targets water as foreign policy tool http://euobserver.com/875/23634/?rk=1
Pollution decreases rainfall http://www.planet2025news.net/ntext.rxml?id=4231&photo=
Asian air pollution is changing the global climate http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3461&language=1

European Lamp Companies Push Compact Fluorescents, as Does the EU
The European Lamp Companies Federation, whose members include the world's three largest light bulb manufacturers, has said they will push European consumers to switch to energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). According to an AP dispatch, "The European Union is already encouraging its 27 member governments to promote the use of efficient lights on streets and in offices. The ELC Federation statement said its members 'urge the European Commission to adopt a similarly proactive approach to domestic lighting'." [See also Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) May Surge to Fore in February 2007 environmental security report.]
Source:
European Lighting Industry Agrees to Push Energy-Saving Bulbs http://www.enn.com/today.html?id=12318

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
NIOSH Releases Nanotechnology Research Progress Report
CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has announced the release of a new progress report, Progress Toward Safe Nanotechnology in the Workplace, which, according to the release, details the advancements made by NIOSH in advancing scientific knowledge in understanding the occupational safety and health implications of engineered nanoparticles, and also suggests potential areas where future research could further expand this knowledge.
NIOSH Update: NIOSH Releases Nanotechnology Research Progress Report http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/updates/upd-02-27-07.html
Progress Toward Safe Nanotechnology in the Workplace (NIOSH Publication No. 2007-123) http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2007-123

National Nanotech Initiative Issues Risk Assessment Report
The US National Nanotechnology Initiative has issued a report, Understanding Risk Assessment of Nanotechnology, which manages in eight pages to offer a comprehensive, technically oriented introduction to nanotech risk assessment. The document contains 44 endnotes, listing hundreds of Web sites and paper citations.
Understanding Risk Assessment of Nanotechnology http://nano.gov/pdf/Understanding_Risk_Assessment.pdf

EPA Publishes White Paper on Nanotechnology
The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued a Nanotechnology White Paper. The 132-page document describes nanotech and its benefits and risks, and discusses risks assessment issues and research needs and priorities. An appendix contains a description of EPA's framework for nanotechnology research.
Industry should become familiar with EPA white paper on nanotechnology http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=1512.php
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Nanotechnology White Paper (EPA 100/B-07/001) http://www.epa.gov/osa/pdfs/nanotech/epa-nanotechnology-white-paper-final-february-2007.pdf

Swiss Firm Offers Nanotech Risk Assessment Data and Safety Certification
According to an article from www.in-pharmatechnologist.com, the Swiss firm The Innovation Society "has developed the Cenarios system (Certifiable Nanospecific Risk management and Monitoring System) … to collate risk related information from scientific, regulatory, technological and market sources and to generate a database of material to be applied to specific products and processes using nanotechnology." The system includes capabilities for managing risk assessment, and a continually updated database of current scientific and technical results.
World's first nanospecific safety label http://www.in-pharmatechnologist.com/news/ng.asp?n=74792-the-innovation-society-cenarios-nanotechnology-safety-drug-delivery
CENARIOS® - Managing Nano Risks http://www.innovationsgesellschaft.ch/images/publikationen/Factsheet_CENARIOS_english_arial2.pdf

New Monthly Online Review Journal of Nanotech EHS Work
The International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON) and Rice University's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) have been maintaining an online database of references to current work in nanotech environmental health and safety issues. They have now announced the launch of a new monthly online review journal, The Virtual Journal of Nanotechnology Environment, Health & Safety (VJ-Nano EHS). The new publication will contain primarily items added to the database during the current month, so that users can easily keep up with progress in the field. The site will also provide a series of occasional papers, access to the whole database, and a capability for search by a number of different aspects of the work reported, such as risk exposure group, particle type, and exposure pathway. The journal may be accessed at http://icon.rice.edu/virtualjournal.cfm.
Nano coalition launches virtual journal on risk research http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-03/ru-ncl032207.php

Nanotoxicology Conferences to Be Held in Venice in April
The 2nd Nanotoxicology Conference will be held 19-21 April 2007, on the island of San Servolo, Venice, Italy in conjunction with the Informa Healthcare Journal, Nanotoxicology, Coverage will include the latest ideas and results in nanomaterial pharmacokinetics, (eco)-toxicity, exposure assessment, and risk assessment.
Nanotoxicology 2007 http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/nanotoxconference

Nanotech Products Meeting in London in May
A meeting, Nanotechnology – Products for Environmental Benefit, will be held in London, 16-17 May 2007, by The Royal Society, Carlton House Terrace. The meeting will examine nanotechnologies that are described as offering real environmental benefit, and will also review the findings of the recently published STOA report on the Role of Nanotechnology in Chemical Substitution. ’
‘Nanotechnology – Products for Environmental Benefit’ (16-17 May 2007, London) http://www.nano.org.uk/newsletter/environment/index.htm

Reports Suggested for Review
Netherlands Environmental Institute Publishes Report on Environment, Security, and Sustainable Development
The Inventory of Environment and Security Policies and Practices report by the Institute for Environmental Security (IES) in the Netherlands "provides an easy to use comparative overview of existing governmental and inter-governmental positions and actions dealing with the relationship between environment, security and sustainable development." The report describes the environmental security activities of 13 (largely OECD) countries and 7 international NGOs. It also furnishes background information on IES's program, Greening European Security, which focuses on mainstreaming environmental and sustainable development factors into European foreign and security policy.
Source:
Inventory of Environment and Security Policies and Practices (IESPP) http://www.envirosecurity.org/ges/inventory/
Inventory of Environment and Security Policies and Practices http://www.envirosecurity.org/ges/inventory/IESPP_Full_Report.pdf

Population and Resources Affecting the Risk of Conflict
The UN Population Prospects, the 2006 Revision report reveals that most of the countries that top the birthrate list are those already affected by the world’s worst wars. Growing pressure of people on land and resources is likely to exacerbate conflict in those areas. At a Woodrow Wilson Center event, ‘Demography and Conflict: How Population Pressure and Youth Bulges Affect the Risk of Civil War’, Henrik Urdal, Researcher at the Centre for the Study of Civil War, International Peace Research Institute, Oslo (PRIO), discussed the results of an empirical research on the links among global demographics and the potentials for civil unrest. Concluding that certain forms of population pressure––particularly youth bulges––increase the risk for conflict, he makes several recommendations for attempting to minimize conflict, including: measures to enhance local resource management capacity; programs aimed at curbing population pressure, and more research focusing on youth bulges and political stability and conflict prevention.
Another Woodrow Wilson Center event, ‘Climate-Security Connections: An Empirical Approach to Risk Assessment,’ analyzed the potential relationship between environment and conflict by integrating environment data with conflict data and using the results to improve conflict risk assessments. The outcomes show that although environmental scarcity doesn’t necessarily represent a cause of conflict, it might become an important reason in poor and war-torn societies or with other inter-group (horizontal) inequalities. Hence, it is important for preventing and mitigating escalating conflicts to map and watch different environmental anomalies that might lead to food and/or water scarcity and vice-versa and to identify conflict-prone zones that might be exposed to destabilizing environmental factors. Such a world map of areas worth watching for possible crises situations that might lead to conflict was presented.
Sources:
New Population Projections Underline Urgency of Family Planning Needs in Developing Nations http://www.unfpa.org/news/news.cfm?ID=943
World population may reach 9.2 billion by 2050 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17605186/
Demography and Conflict: How Population Pressure and Youth Bulges Affect the Risk of Civil War http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=events.event&event_id=219250
Climate-Security Connections: An Empirical Approach to Risk Assessment http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=events.event&event_id=219458#

Website for Marine Protected Areas and Cetaceans’ Sanctuaries
A new website, cetaceanhabitat.org, sponsored by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, provides comprehensive information on the nearly 600 proposed and existing marine protected areas and sanctuaries for cetaceans. It has summaries and links to international treaties on MPAs; definitions of key MPA terms; updated news on proposals for new MPAs, and other related resources.
Sources:
Whale Protections Proposed for Strait of Gibraltar http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2007/2007-03-05-02.asp
Urgent protection proposed for whale and dolphin habitats in the Mediterranean and Black Seas http://www.cetaceanhabitat.org

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February 2007

Environmental Crime Could Become a Felony in the EU
The EU Commission has proposed that environmental crimes such as pollution with hazardous substances, illegal dumping of waste, or performing environmentally "dangerous activity" be treated as criminal offenses with minimum levels of punishment that could reach prison sentences or fines for serious cases. By applying the “polluter pays” principle, European courts could also put offenders out of business or order them to clean up the environment. If the proposal is approved by the European Parliament and member governments, it will become law for all 27 member nations. This would be the first criminal law drafted by the Commission after a 2005 EU Court of Justice ruling that that the Commission has the power to draft criminal laws and decide what constitutes a crime, notably in the area of the environment. Environmental groups welcomed the plan but said the list of punishable crimes should be expanded.
Sources:
Brussels seeks powers to put polluters in jail http://euobserver.com/9/23436/?rk=1
EU may make harming environment a crime http://www.montereyherald.com/mld/montereyherald/news/breaking_news/16665802.htm
Brussels in push for ‘green crime’ laws http://www.ft.com/cms/s/a5f881c0-b622-11db-9eea-0000779e2340,dwp_uuid=70662e7c-3027-11da-ba9f-00000e2511c8.html


UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Forum Makes Progress on Global Environmental Governance
The 24th session of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC-24/GMEF) took place 5-9 February 2007, in Nairobi, Kenya. Delegates from 141 countries discussed issues related to globalization and environment (including developing a range of clear and specific policy options for improving environmental governance at national, regional, and global levels), the state of the world environment, and cooperation at different international levels. The GC/GMEF adopted 15 decisions, including issues related to waste management (adequacy of the Basel Convention and eventual further developments), strengthening international environmental governance (including the draft Environment Watch Strategy Vision 2020, and coordination and synergies among multilateral environmental agreements), chemicals management (heavy metals and hazardous chemicals), the world environmental situation (improved assessment and mitigation actions), water policy and strategy, recommending that the UN General Assembly declare the decade 2010-2020 as the UN Decade for Deserts and the Fight Against Desertification, and Africa’s environmental management and protection. Egypt offered to host an international center to build judicial capacity in environmental law. The next GC/GMEF will be held in February 2009.
Sources:
GC-24/GMEF website GC-24/GMEF website
Environment Ministers Rise to the Challenge of Globalization and UN Reform http://www.unep.org/Documents.Multilingual/Default.asp?DocumentID=499&ArticleID=5526&l=en
Summary Of the 24th Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum: 5-9 February 2007 http://www.iisd.ca/vol16/enb1660e.html


China’s ASAT Test Created Serious Long-Range Low-Earth Orbital Pollution
The January 11, 2007 Chinese anti-satellite (ASAT) test created tens of thousands of new pieces of space debris in low-earth orbit (LEO) with size greater than 1 cm—large enough to cause significant damage to a satellite they might hit. So far about 900 pieces greater than 5-10 cm have been cataloged as being created by the Chinese test. Even without the Chinese test, a NASA model shows that some heavily used parts of LEO already have such a high density of debris that collisions of objects at these altitudes will increase the number of debris fragments by 200% in two hundred years. The January additions make this situation worse, and multiple future tests or uses of such ASATs—especially against much larger satellites—could greatly increase the threat to satellites, the Space Station, space shuttles and other space craft as they travel through this polluted space. At high altitudes, where the atmosphere is very thin, this debris can stay in orbit for centuries, and so far there is no effective way to remove it. This is likely to steadily increase space insurance costs and without major changes could eventually seriously limit access to space. This shows that one actor can affect future access to space for all. Currently 41 nations own satellites. Since there is no mechanism to address this pollution event, some kind of anti-ASAT debris creating treaty seems inevitable, possibly drafted by the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee in Vienna.
Sources:
Debris from China's Kinetic Energy ASAT Test http://www.ucsusa.org/global_security/space_weapons/debris-from-chinas-asat-test.html
China's Anti-Satellite Test: Worrisome Debris Cloud Circles Earth http://www.space.com/news/070202_china_spacedebris.html
NASA Orbital Debris Program Office http://orbitaldebris.jsc.nasa.gov
Space debris spotlight http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMHDJXJD1E_FeatureWeek_0.html
United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) http://www.unoosa.org
Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee http://www.iadc-online.org

EU and US to Cooperate on Environmental Research
The US Environmental Protection Agency and the EU Commission's Directorate of Research have signed an agreement, Implementing Arrangement on Environmental Research and Ecoinformatics, setting up a bilateral research framework to more strategically address common environmental challenges. Among the collaborative research topics are: uses and impacts of nanotechnology; environmental information systems; development of environmental and sustainability indicators; environmental modeling; decision support tools; environment and health; sustainable chemistry and materials; environmental technologies; and air quality management.
Sources:
EU and US agree to cooperate on environmental research and ecoinformatics http://www.ec.europa.eu/research/press/2007/pr0902-2en.cfm
EU and US agree to cooperate on environmental research of nanotechnology impacts http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=1427.php


The Institute for Environmental Security in The Hague to Hold Annual Peace and Sustainability Sessions
The Institute for Environmental Security will convene annual Peace and Sustainability sessions to address the challenges related to conflict prevention and post-conflict issues. The first session, entitled Forces for Sustainability, will be held on 14-15 March 2007 at the Peace Palace in The Hague. It intends to promote cooperation between different actors (such as the security and development sectors) involved in conflict prevention and/or transition to sustainable development in post-conflict situations. “Challenges to be addressed include––how to: formulate scenarios for change towards transparent governance structures; give priority to supervision of the phasing out of illegal economic activities; retrain and employ militias in professions for the restoration and management of ecosystems and natural resources; create new models of empowerment for local communities” says the announcement.
Source:
Forces for Sustainability Launch of the Peace and Sustainability Sessions http://www.envirosecurity.org/sustainability/

French President Jacques Chirac issues Paris Call for Action for Global Ecological Governance
An international conference on global ecological governance, “Citizens of the Earth,” was held in Paris at the instigation of President Jacques Chirac, who issued the Paris Call for Action for Global Ecological Governance and invited all nations to come to Paris to make progress on the call to action. The resulting conference, held in February, addressed new approaches to climate change, biodiversity, pollution, environmental health, water, environmental governance, and changing patterns of production and consumption. Within the nine points of the Paris Call for Action that inspired the meeting was the proposal for a Universal Declaration of Environmental Rights and Duties (the right to a sound environment) and the transformation of UNEP into a WHO-like organization to be called the United Nations Environment Organization. Green Cross International renewed its call for the adoption of an international legal instrument that would assure the right to water. Environmental degradation “could even come to jeopardize international peace and security” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message to the conference, and the UN General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, addressing the Conference, called for “clear objectives and strong ecological governance at the global level, a concept that continues to elude us.”
Sources:
“Citizens of the Earth” Conference http://www.citoyensdelaterre.fr/conference/?-English-
“Citizens of the Earth” Conference for Global Ecological Governance http://www.citoyensdelaterre.fr/conference/?PARIS-CALL-FOR-ACTION
Green Cross International defends the right to water at the Paris Conference for Global Ecological Governance http://www.greencrossinternational.net/en/comm/news/2007/5.html
UN officials urge global push to reverse environmental damage http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=21440&Cr=climate&Cr1=change


Technological Breakthroughs with Environmental Security Implications

Sensitive Uranium Detector Using DNA
Researchers at the University of Illinois and elsewhere, led by chemistry Professor Yi Lu, have developed a uranium sensor which they say "combines the high metal ion selectivity of catalytic DNA with the high sensitivity of fluorescence detection [and] provides a fast, on-site test for assessing uranium contamination in the environment and the effectiveness of remediation strategies". The sensor has a sensitivity of 11 parts per trillion.
Sources:
Disposable uranium ion detector developed http://www.physorg.com/news90609076.html
A catalytic beacon sensor for uranium with parts-per-trillion sensitivity and millionfold selectivity
http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/104/7/2056?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=uranium+DNA&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&resourcetype=HWCIT

Enzyme-based Biofuel Cells Using Nanotechnology
A team of Japanese scientists from Kyoto University in Japan has engineered carbon electrodes with carbon nanoparticles to develop a simple biofuel cell based on direct electron transfer-type bioelectrocatalysis. The cell uses enzymes to catalyze oxidation of D-fructose and reduction of dioxygen to generate electricity, without needing a mediator molecule. This might represent a significant development for simplifying the construction of biofuel cells.
Source:
Simple biofuel cells with nanotechnology http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=1446.php
Fructose/dioxygen biofuel cell based on direct electron transfer-type bioelectrocatalysis http://www.rsc.org/publishing/journals/CP/article.asp?doi=b617650j


Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) May Surge to Fore
A bill to be introduced in the California legislature to ban the use of incandescent light bulbs by 2012, in favor of compact fluorescents, may presage a worldwide tendency in this direction. With global warming concerns burgeoning and CFLs using 75% less energy, this action by California (if it becomes law) could trigger similar measures around the world over the next few years.
Source:
California may Ban Conventional Lightbulbs by 2012 http://www.planet2025news.net/ntext.rxml?id=4032&photo=


Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Progress on Global Mercury Ban
The negotiations for a global ban of mercury progressed at the GC-24/GMEF [see item UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Forum Makes Progress on Global Environmental Governance above]. Although a legally binding treaty imposing clear targets on cutting mercury use worldwide was not adopted, it was agreed that over the next two years an ad hoc open-ended working group will study the options for enhanced voluntary measures and international legal instruments to phase out mercury use. The group will provide a progress report to GCSS-10/GMEF, and a final report to GC-25/GMEF, which will make a decision on the matter. [See also EU Seeking Global Mercury Ban in January 2007, Europe Proposes Ban on Mercury Exports in November 2006, and other previous environmental security reports on the mercury issue.]
Sources:
Summary of the 24th Session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum http://www.iisd.ca/vol16/enb1660e.html
World leaders agree to phase out mercury http://www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=14&click_id=143&art_id=qw1171231741879B251
Ottawa's refusal to join protocol cutting mercury draws critics' fire http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070210.MERCURY10/TPStory/National (by subscription only)

European Parliament Proposes Tougher Waste Management Strategy
The European Parliament has voted for a tougher waste management strategy, which stipulates that EU production of waste should be stabilized at 2008 levels by 2012, and scaled back by 2020, requiring that 50% of municipal waste and 70% of industrial waste be recycled by 2020. Although the new directive would not impose firm obligations on member states it would establish a "general rule or guiding principle" influencing future waste management practices. EU member states have different waste management strategies and efficiency and are expected to fight the Parliament's proposal. [See also EU New Strategy on Waste Recycling in December 2005, New EU Environmental Strategies in September 2005, and Recycling Regulations in the EU in August 2005 environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Major recycling operation for Europe's waste policy
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/expert/infopress_page/064-3005-043-02-07-911-20070208IPR02886-12-02-2007-2007-false/default_en.htm
MEPs vote to cut waste mountain http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6355845.stm

Climate Change

IPCC Assessment Report Intensifies the Debate on Global Warming
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 4th Assessment Report, Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, intensified the debate and worries about global warming and is likely to increase response efforts. The report assesses the global situation as a whole (changes in the Earth's climate including atmospheric composition, global average temperatures, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, ocean conditions, and other climate changes) and presents global and regional future climate projections. It states with “very high confidence” that global warming is being caused by human activity and that “carbon dioxide emissions will continue to contribute to warming and sea level rise for more than a millennium, due to the timescales required for removal of this gas from the atmosphere.” It presents a grim picture of the future — rising sea levels, more intense storms, extensive drought, and spread of some diseases. “We must, without further ado, agree on the definition of an institutional framework that will enable us to take more effective and efficient collective action,” said UN General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa. “Momentum for action is building; this new report should spur policymakers to get off the fence and put strong and effective policies in place to tackle greenhouse gas emissions,” said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

Climate Refugees
In addition to melting glaciers, global warming is causing the volume of seawater to expand, rising the sea level. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projects that sea levels would rise by 18 to 59 centimeters (7 to 23 inches) by the end of this century. A new World Bank working paper, The impact of sea level rise on developing countries: a comparative analysis, estimates that sea levels could rise 1-3m by the end of the century, but even 5m could be possible in the event of an unexpectedly rapid breakup of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets. In a comprehensive assessment of the consequences of sea level rise for 84 developing countries, the paper estimates that a one meter rise by the end of the century would displace hundreds of millions of people in the developing world, generating at least 60 million environmental refugees. The impacts are potentially catastrophic for some countries such as Vietnam, Egypt, and the Bahamas, while for larger ones such as China the absolute magnitudes are huge. The most affected regions will be East Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa. The paper warns that the severity of the situation is increased by inadequate attention from the international community in addressing the implications and planning for adaptation. Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom warned that at only 1.5m above sea level, the Maldives are at risk of disappearing from increasing sea levels due to global warming, forcing over 300,000 refugees to migrate. An internal report of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, External Trends Influencing Policing in B.C., notes that implications of climate change could pose serious challenges for the police in British Columbia from local disorder during natural disasters increasingly affecting coastal areas, to climate refugees fleeing flooded countries. The report notes that “mass movements of that kind” might require increasing military and policing actions. Meanwhile, critical water scarcity could impact between 1.1 and 3.2 billion people by 2100, notes an IPCC report to be published in April. Melting glaciers are endangering future water supplies to farming areas around the world, from the Andes to the Himalayas and Kilimanjaro.

China to Launch Climate Adaptation Program
China is preparing to launch its first four-year comprehensive national program to address the effects of climate change on China. The program, to be launched in two months, will outline goals for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and developing green technologies, and mitigation measures to address the implications of global warming on China's food production and on coastal cities. A comprehensive report, produced by six Chinese academic and government organizations, warns that because of continuous temperature rise, China’s grain production might be reduced by up to 37% in the second half of this century, and water scarcity increase considerably due to rapidly melting glaciers.

Changes in Disease Patterns across the Globe
Scientists increasingly note the emergence of fatal diseases in places where they were never seen or expected before, heightening concerns that climate change favors the spread of viruses, bacteria, insects, and plants to cold areas where local organisms do not have immunity to fight them. A fungus normally found in tropical or subtropical regions, Cryptococcus gattii, has suddenly become endemic on Vancouver Island, on the Pacific coast of Canada, sickening humans and animals. Oysters in Alaska are being infected by the bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus specific to warmer waters, like the Gulf of Mexico. In Africa, mosquitoes are causing malaria in high villages at Mt. Kenya that had never been exposed to it before. IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report, Climate Change 2007, warns that global warming might trigger unprecedented health risks such as the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and encephalitis; increased respiratory illnesses due to pollen and mold spores; and health problems induced by increased flooding and drought.
Sources:
Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis (Summary for Policymakers) http://www.ipcc.ch/pub/SYR-text.pdf
UN officials urge global push to reverse environmental damage http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=21440&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
Evidence is now ‘unequivocal’ that humans are causing global warming – UN report http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=21429&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
Global Warming Poses Health Threats http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/02/AR2007020201198.html (free registration required)
Climate changes and impact on coastal countries. Risk of sea-level rise: High stakes for developing countries
http://econ.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTDEC/EXTRESEARCH/0,,contentMDK:21215328~pagePK:64165401~piPK:64165026~theSitePK:469382,00.html
World Bank study: rising sea levels could displace millions of world's poor http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/02/13/america/NA-GEN-World-Bank-Global-Warming.php
Leader of imperiled Maldives issues stark warning on sea level rise http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/02/04/news/maldives.php
Future flood of 'climate refugees' ahead? http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=d6573622-192c-4378-9659-f6cad6f98ede&k=34215
Tankers may ship water to parched cities of future http://sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa003&articleID=291925DDBC6E2D194D0C22D268E0F865
Tomgram: McKibben, The Real News about Global Warming http://tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=167460
Global Warming Threatens Double-Trouble for Peru: Shrinking Glaciers and a Water Shortage http://www.enn.com/today.html?id=12201
China prepares to launch climate adaptation plans http://www.wbcsd.org/plugins/DocSearch/details.asp?type=DocDet&ObjectId=MjI4MTM
An island of natural airborne killers http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070209.wfungalfears0210/BNStory/Front
Dangerous fungus thrives on West Coast http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20070209.wfungus0210/BNStory/ClimateChange/home
Global warming: enough to make you sick
http://www.latimes.com/news/science/environment/la-sci-disease25feb25,1,7922126.story?page=1&ctrack=1&cset=true&coll=la-news-environment (free subscription required)

EU Plans Tougher CO2 Emissions Cuts

EU Commission to Propose Binding Cuts on Car Emissions
The European Commission has proposed a new strategy for reducing cars CO2 emissions to 120g/km by 2012. The strategy would basically consist of binding legislation requiring European carmakers to reduce the average CO2 emissions of new vehicles to 130g/km by 2012 complemented by improved fuel-efficiency, increased biofuels use, and better traffic management to produce the further 10g/km reduction. The strategy also proposes increased investment in research for reducing CO2 emissions to an average of 95g/km by 2020; persuade member states to promote policies for fuel-efficient vehicles; and get car manufacturers to promote more sustainable consumption patterns. The draft legislation is expected to be prepared by the end of 2007 or beginning of 2008. [See also New European Energy Policy Developments in March 2006 environmental security report.]

UK Likely to Go beyond EU Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Targets
Further to the new Energy Policy for Europe proposed last month by the European Commission, in a recent speech, UK environment minister Ian Pearson said that "If you have a 20% target across Europe, the UK's target is likely to be nearer to 30%." [See also UK Standard for Carbon Offsetting and Advancing Post-Kyoto Negotiations in January 2007 and other related issues in previous environmental security reports.]
Sources:
Commission wants binding cuts on car emissions http://www.euractiv.com/en//commission-wants-binding-cuts-car-emissions/article-161531
UK likely to go beyond EU carbon target – minister http://www.environmental-finance.com/onlinews/0208ukl.htm

Network of Marine Educators Formed to Protect Pacific
According to Environmental News Network, the International Pacific Marine Educators Conference (IPMEC), held 15-18 January 2007, in Honolulu, "has resulted in the establishment of a Pacific network of marine educators designed to ensure the health of the Pacific and the communities that depend upon it. The network aims to facilitate real action in marine education and highlight the need for ocean stewardship across the Pacific." [See also International Conferences and Assessments Find Rising Ocean Pollution in October 2006 environmental security report.]
Sources:
International Pacific Marine Educators Conference Establishes Network to Protect the Ocean, Presentations Available Online (Press release)
http://www.ipmec.info/pr.htm
International Pacific Marine Educators Conference Establishes Network to Protect the Ocean http://www.enn.com/net.html?id=1816

Nanotechnology Safety Issues
UN Environment Programme Calls for Nanotech Safeguards
UNEP’s annual report on the global environment, GEO 2007, dedicates a whole chapter, Emerging Challenges – New Findings, to nanotechnology implications for the environment, looking at ‘The environmental benefits of nanotechnology’, ‘The environmental risks of nanotechnology’, and future developments. The report notes that ''swift action'' is needed to adjust the legislative processes to properly address the challenges presented by nanotechnology, with priority given to assessing the potential risks of nanomaterials already being mass-produced, and calls for global test protocols and greater cooperation between private- and public-sector industries and between the developing and industrialized worlds.
Survey Gives Insight into Effective Nanotech Education Methods
A new survey report from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) Interdisciplinary Education Group suggests improved ways of educating audiences on the nature of nanotech, and its problems and possibilities.
New Report on Nanotechnology Applications in Water Treatment
Nanotechnology-based techniques are highly successful in removing both organic and inorganic contaminants from water. The consulting firm of Frost & Sullivan has issued a new report, Impact of Nanotechnology in Water and Wastewater Treatment, which outlines key nanotech water treatment applications and analyzes market and industry factors. It also provides a directory of contact information.
French Research Council to Study Nanotube Toxicity
The French National Research Council (CNRS) is beginning a three-year project to study the "eco-toxicity" of carbon nanotubes, as part of a National Research Agency project. The project will investigate three main aspects: the polluting effects of nanotubes in the environment; toxicity in humans; and how to produce nanotubes using cleaner methods.
Sources:
Tighter controls needed for nanotechnology, says UN report http://www.technologyreview.com/read_article.aspx?id=18144&ch=nanotech
GEO Year Book 2007 http://www.unep.org/geo/yearbook/yb2007/
Nanotechnology and the public: Effectively communicating nanoscale science and engineering concepts
http://springerlink.metapress.com/content/u276420455825217/?p=04e798d9a2d44481907da0176313de28&pi=0 (Short description; full article requires subscription or purchase)
Study points way to communicating nanotech http://www.news.wisc.edu/13391.html
Multiple Benefits of Nanotechnology Encourages Widespread Uptake in Water and Wastewater Treatment
http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/google/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20070201005476&newsLang=en
Impact of Nanotechnology in Water and Wastewater Treatment (order form) http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c49641
Carbon nanotubes: what toxicity for the environment and health? (original in French: Nanotubes de carbone : quelle toxicité pour l'environnement et la santé ?)
http://www2.cnrs.fr/presse/communique/999.htm (in French)
New study to assess toxicity of carbon nanotubes http://nanotechweb.org/articles/news/6/1/9/1

Reports Suggested for Review

GEO Year Book 2007
UNEP fourth annual report, GEO Year Book 2007, was released at the opening of the Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Nairobi [see item UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Forum Makes Progress on Global Environmental Governance above]. The report offers a comprehensive overview of global and regional developments over the past year; focuses on implications of globalization on the environment (linkages among ecosystem health, human well-being, and economic development and assesses how policy decisions respond to global change); analyses the environmental implications of nanotechnology; and features several key indicators related to the environment.
Source:
GEO Year Book 2007 http://www.unep.org/geo/yearbook/yb2007/

Report on Lebanon After-war Environmental Assessment
Lebanon Rapid Environmental Assessment for Greening Recovery, Reconstruction & Reform–2006 report is a comprehensive review of the major environmental impacts caused by the July-August 2006 war, proposes some action plans to mitigate them, and explores opportunities for green reconstruction and recovery. It also looks at such environment-related legal aspects as improving national legislation and the options available to the Government of Lebanon to seek compensation for environmental damage.
Sources:
Lebanon Rapid Environmental Assessment for Greening Recovery, Reconstruction & Reform–2006
- announcement: http://www.un.org.lb/UN/details.asp?id=167
- the report: http://www.undp.org.lb/events/DraftReport.pdf

New Environmental Security Blog
The Environmental Change and Security Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has launched a blog on new security threats. The blog provides frequent updates and commentary on the latest news stories and reports pertaining to environmental security, such as global water scarcity, climate change and terrorism.
Sources:
The New Security Beat: http://newsecuritybeat.blogspot.com/
ECSP Launches Blog on New Security Threats
New Security Beat Provides Latest on Population, Environment, Security in the News
http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm/topics/index.cfm?topic_id=1413&fuseaction=topics.item&news_id=224705

Back to Top


January 2007

New UN Secretary-General Announced Climate Change a Top Priority

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon took office on January 1, 2007 and listed addressing global climate change as a top priority during all of his major meetings, including his first press conference at the UN, his meeting with President George Bush, and public talks in Washington and with the EU leaders in Brussels. Climate change also topped the agenda of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting at Davos, where Tony Blair said that addressing climate change was the “supreme expression of interdependence.” President Bush for the first time included the issue in his State of the Union address, the new Democratic leadership in the US Congress has it among its top priorities, and corporations are forming relationships with environmental groups. Hence, it is clear that the international politics of climate change could have dramatic changes over the next several years.
Sources:
UN official proposes global summit on climate change to plan next steps http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=21244&Cr=climate&Cr1=change
UN's Ban Urged to Lead Global Climate Change Plans http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/39865/story.htm
New U.N. chief on first overseas tour http://www.upi.com/InternationalIntelligence/view.php?StoryID=20070124-040725-7303r
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2007. The Shifting Power Equation http://www.weforum.org/en/events/AnnualMeeting2007/index.htm
Could Corporate America take the lead in Climate Change? http://www.euractiv.com/en/energy/corporate-america-take-lead-climate-change/article-161093
Army Strategy for the Environment http://www.aepi.army.mil/pubs-strategic.html


OSCE Environmental Security Conference Focuses on Land and Water

On January 22-23, 2007 the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) held a conference with the theme: “Key challenges to ensure environmental security and sustainable development in the OSCE area: Land degradation, soil contamination and water management.” The speakers were a diverse mix of mostly European political, governmental, environmental, and security experts, who further developed OSCE’s role in environmental security for the region. Germany offered to take the leadership in environmental cleaning up of closed military facilities in the region. OSCE is composed of 56 countries. "The most significant issue presented was the critical rate of loss of arable lands in the arid regions of Eastern Europe. Experts from these countries requested urgent assistance from the OSCE to stem this impending crisis," said Dr. King of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, who led the first panel.
Source:
OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum. Part 1 / Vienna, 22 - 23 January 2007. “Key challenges to ensure environmental security and sustainable development” http://194.8.63.155/documents/eea/2007/01/22718_en.pdf


Asian Consortium on Non-traditional Security Issues

The Consortium of Non-traditional Security Studies in Asia (NTS-Asia) is made up of 14 research institutes and think tanks from Asia that will study issues including efforts to tackle pandemics, environmental degradation, and cooperation during disasters resulting from climate changes. Climate change, the avian flu, and other “invisible, diverse, and unpredictable” threats are becoming a top security concern in many Asian countries. The consortium will be hosted by Singapore and plans to hold annual conferences on non-traditional security issues with peer institutes from the U.S. and Europe.
Sources:
Singapore to host consortium studying non-traditional security issues http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/251242/1/.html
Bird flu, climate change among Asia's threats http://www.todayonline.com/articles/164675.asp


Environment a Key Element in the First European 18-month Work Program

For the first time, the European Council adopted an 18-month work program for the following three European Presidencies to be held from January 2007 to June 2008 by Germany, Portugal, and Slovenia. Along with economic and security matters, it covers environment and sustainable development issues, a reassurance that the EU Strategy for Sustainable Development remains in the focus of policymaking. The Environment chapter includes climate change, biodiversity, environmental technologies, and international environmental governance. The 18-month Programme confirms the EU's strong commitment to environmental matters.
Source:
EU 18-months Work Programme http://www.eu2007.de/en/The_Council_Presidency/Priorities_Programmes/index.html


2007––The International Year of the Ozone Layer

The year 2007 is designated The International Year of the Ozone Layer, marking the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Montreal Protocol. Since its entry into force, January 1, 1989, the Montreal Protocol has undergone five revisions, the last one in 1999. “Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date” (as noted by Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General), the treaty is widely adopted and implemented. Nevertheless, due to the accumulative effect, the ozone hole was the largest recorded last September. The next meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer will be hosted by Canada in Montreal, September 17-21, 2007.
Sources:
Gallon Newsletter (by e-mail)
Montreal Protocol http://hq.unep.org/ozone/Montreal-Protocol/Montreal-Protocol2000.shtml
UNEP Ozone Theme http://unep.org/themes/ozone/
The Ozone Hole http://www.theozonehole.com/montreal.htm
NASA and NOAA Announce Ozone Hole is a Double Record Breaker http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/environment/ozone_resource_page.html


Technological Breakthroughs with Environmental Security Implications

New Surface Decontamination Method
Bradley D. Veatch of Westminster, CO and associates have filed a patent application for a novel means of removing contamination, including radioactive material, from surfaces. An abrasive foam pad soaked in a mix of latex gel and conductive iodine solution is rubbed over the contaminated area, loosening any surface material and applying a layer of latex, while a high current is passed through it. An electrolytic reaction transfers the contaminant from the surface into the latex gel, and also polymerizes the gel, producing a strong rubbery skin, which can be peeled off and safely discarded.
Sources:
Electro-Decontamination Of Contaminated Surfaces (WO/2007/001263) http://www.wipo.int/pctdb/en/ia.jsp?IA=US2005/021455&LANGUAGE=EN
Wrap radiation in rubber http://www.newscientisttech.com/article/dn10874?DCMP=NLC-nletter&nsref=dn10874 (see 3-rd article)

Virus Detection Technique––Fast, Convenient, and Sensitive
Aurel Ymeti and associated researchers at the Univ. of Twente, Enschede, the Netherlands, and elsewhere, have developed an improved new technique for virus detection and identification. As is the case with a number of other methods, it depends on the adhesion of the virus to an antibody-coated surface, but here the adhesion is detected optically, greatly improving the device's characteristics. A monochromatic laser beam is sent down a path which branches into two parallel channels and then rejoins. One of the channels is coated with the antibody; the beam in that channel undergoes a phase shift if the sample has attached to the antibody. When the beams from the channels are recombined, the phase shift produces a pattern of interference fringes if the virus was present. This detector is able to detect the herpes virus at just 850 particles per milliliter under physiological conditions (e.g. in human serum).
Source:
Virus detection encounters some useful interference http://www.nature.com/materials/nanozone/news/070111/portal/m070111-3.html (free registration required)

DNA Isolation––New Technique
TNO, in Delft, Netherlands, has developed a new tool, SamPrep, for the rapid automatic pre-treatment of biological material to separate out pure DNA for further analysis. The new automated system can produce results from a sample in 20 minutes instead of the hours required for manual manipulation.
Source:
Step forward in micro/nanotechnology http://www.tno.nl/tno/actueel/tno_persberichten/2007/tno_ontwikkelt_generieke_/index.xml

World Record solar cell efficiency achieved
Spectrolab, a subsidiary of Boeing, announced the development of a new solar cell that can convert 40.7% of the sunlight into electricity. The conversion efficiency of today's conventional solar cells is between 12% and 18%. The Department of Energy claims that ‘this breakthrough may lead to systems with an installation cost of only $3 per watt, producing electricity at a cost of 8-10 cents per kilowatt/hour, making solar electricity a more cost-competitive and integral part of our nation’s energy mix.’
Sources:
New World Record Achieved in Solar Cell Technology http://www.energy.gov/news/4503.htm
Solar cell breakthrough claimed http://www.planet2025news.net/ntext.rxml?id=3895&photo=
Solar America Initiative website: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/solar_america/


Updates on Previously Identified Issues

Proposal for Recognizing Water as a Basic Human Right
The declaration of the first Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol on Water and Health to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes includes a paragraph on water as a basic human right. The meeting adopted several decisions, mostly related to the implementation and compliance procedures of the Protocol, transparency, and involvement of local authorities into the Protocol's implementation at early stage. The European ECO-Forum proposed the development of guidelines for governments (national and local authorities) to help in the implementation of the Protocol and urged that they be adopted at the Second Meeting of Parties that would be hosted by Romania in 2010. The first meeting was held January 17-19, 2007 at the Palais des Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland. The Protocol entered into force on August 4, 2005 and as of January 2007, has been ratified by 21 countries. [See also World Water Forum in March 2006, Unless Water Management Improves, Conflicts over Water Are Inevitable in August 2006, Water Disinfection Conference to be Held in February 2007 in May 2006, and other previous environmental security reports on the water issue.]
Sources:
First meeting of the Parties (Geneva, 17-19 January 2007) http://www.unece.org/env/water/meetings/documents_MoPPWH.htm
Protocol on Water and Health http://www.unece.org/env/water/text/text_protocol.htm
European ECO-Forum Newsletter No. 16, January 2007

Stronger Policies needed Worldwide for Curbing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
UK Standard for Carbon Offsetting
The UK became the first government in the world to introduce a standard for carbon offsetting in the private sector. This voluntary code, expected to be in place by fall 2007, will provide businesses, and people wanting to be “carbon neutral” with information on the efficiency of the offsetting schemes they intend to use. The British standard will work in the private sector (organizations and individuals) in the same way that the UN carbon credits scheme works for countries that try to meet emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol (paying others for acts that help neutralize one's emissions.) Note: the UK is the only EU country that has fulfilled the European Commission pollution-allowances criteria for cutting greenhouse gasses. While most other countries’ schemes are considered weak, Belgium and the Netherlands were asked to toughen their national pollution-allowances scheme (mainly for heavy industry), and Denmark and Hungary are facing legal action for having missed the June 30 deadline for submitting their national allocation plans.
Advancing Post-Kyoto Negotiations
The European Commission proposed a new Energy Policy for Europe, an integrated energy and climate change package to cut emissions and combat climate change while boosting the EU’s energy security and competitiveness. The package of proposals commits to cut EU greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020, mainly through energy measures. The EC also reinforces its commitment of leadership for negotiating an international agreement for a post-2012 framework that could lead to an average cut in emissions from developed countries of 30% below 1990 levels by 2020. [See also New EU Environmental Policies; European Action Plan on Energy Efficiency in October 2006, and New European Energy Policy Developments in March 2006 environmental security reports.]
At an “informal” two-day conference in Tokyo, senior officials from 20 countries (including the U.S., China and India) accounting for about 70% of total global greenhouse gas emissions, started work on a post-Kyoto agreement.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in her keynote address, called on all countries to join a post-Kyoto binding accord and take responsibility for cutting greenhouse gases.
East Asian Energy Security Agreement
The Cebu, Philippines Declaration on East Asian Energy Security, signed by leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the leaders of Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, commits the signatory countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and their dependence on fossil fuels by promoting cleaner energy technologies. However, the Declaration does not set any timeframe or specific targets.
U.S. Climate Action Partnership
Ten major U.S. businesses and four national environmental organizations formed the United States Climate Action Partnership (US-CAP) alliance, calling on the federal government to pass strong national legislation to cut pollution responsible for global warming. The organizations involved are Environmental Defense, the World Resources Institute, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Fortune 500 corporations: Alcoa, BP America, Caterpillar, Duke Energy, DuPont, Florida Power and Light, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, Pacific Gas & Electric, and PNM Resources. In the 2007 State of the Union address, President Bush called for a dramatic 20% reduction in the U.S.’s gasoline consumption within 10 years.
Sources:
Britain Ties Carbon Offsetting to UN Standard http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/39904/story.htm
UK to tackle bogus carbon schemes http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/low/business/6273061.stm
UK wants stiff carbon offset standards http://www.carbonpositive.net/viewarticle.aspx?articleID=539
Emissions trading: Commission decides on second set of national allocation plans for the 2008-2012 trading period http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/51&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Commission puts CO2 squeeze on Belgium and Netherlands http://www.insnet.org/ins_headlines.rxml?id=3946&photo=
Commission proposes an integrated energy and climate change package to cut emissions for the 21st Century http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/07/29&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
EU defends leadership in 'world war' on climate change http://www.euractiv.com/en/sustainability/eu-defends-leadership-world-war-climate-change/article-160848
Climate Change: Why a Global Response needs European Leadership. Stavros Dimas SPEECH/07/8 http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/07/8&format=PDF&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en
Tokyo Climate Change Meeting Eyes Post-Kyoto Rules http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/40011/story.htm
UN urges developing countries on climate change http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?xfile=data/theworld/2007/January/theworld_January729.xml&section=theworld&col=
Climate change cannot be tackled by G8 members alone, says Merkel http://business.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,19149-2564392,00.html
Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security. Cebu, Philippines, 15 January 2007 http://www.aseansec.org/19319.htm
East Asia summit signs energy security accord http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/01/15/business/asean.php
Ten Major Companies Call for Climate Action http://www.environmentaldefense.org/article.cfm?ContentID=5828
A Call to Action report http://www.environmentaldefense.org/documents/5829_USCAPreport.pdf
US-CAP coalition site http://www.us-cap.org
President Delivers "State of the Union" http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/01/20030128-19.html

EU Seeking Global Mercury Ban
Health and environmental NGOs launched on January 10, 2007, the campaign “Stay Healthy, Stop Mercury” calling on the EU to promote global control on mercury pollution. The EU is expected to raise the global mercury ban issue at next month’s UN Global Ministerial Environment Forum to be held in Nairobi, Kenya, February 5-9. [See also Europe Proposes Ban on Mercury Exports in November 2006, Mercury Instruments May Be Banned in EU in February 2006, and other previous environmental security reports on the mercury issue.]
Sources:
EU seeks global mercury ban http://www.euractiv.com/en/environment/eu-seeks-global-mercury-ban/article-160845
Halting the Child Brain Drain. Why we need to tackle global mercury contamination
http://www.env-health.org/IMG/pdf/mercury_full_report.pdf
Health experts call on EU to impose total ban on use of mercury http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/01/10/europe/EU-GEN-EU-Mercury.php

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