The Maldives, a fledgling democracy at the vanguard of climate change


Grist

On Friday, Sept. 27, the low-lying island nation of the Maldives will be given the date of its extinction; notice of a death by drowning. It will come in the form of a prediction for future sea-level rise in a landmark report on global warming by the world’s climate scientists. On current trends, anything more than three generations will feel like a reprieve.

On the packed streets of Male’, the mini-Manhattan that serves as the Maldives’ island capital, there is a political clamor. But, perhaps surprisingly, the cause is not worry about the existential threat posed by the rising seas but over accusations of corruption and vote-buying in the presidential election.

Mohamed Nasheed, the nation’s first freely elected leader and darling of the west for his warnings about climate change, was expected to be restored to the presidency in this month’s elections. However, the vote that was supposed to restore Nasheed to the…

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Aussies open wallets to save climate advisers from new prime minister


Grist

Tony Abbott, Australia’s new climate-denying prime minister, is wasting no time in driving the country backwards on environmental policy — in a metaphorical diesel-chugging logging truck.

But his draconian climate policies don’t appear to be as popular with big business as he’d hoped, and a climate advisory body he tried to kill may come back even stronger, thanks to some of his more enlightened countrymen and women.

Within his first few weeks on the job, Abbott scrapped top-level ministerial jobs that separately oversaw science and climate change policy and dismantled a government climate change commission. He wants to remove some of the world’s tallest forests from the list of World Heritage areas, potentially opening up hundreds of thousands of pristine acres for mining and logging. And he has promised to eradicate the country’s carbon tax.

Amid this carnage, horrified Aussies have begun donating to fund the Climate Commission to…

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This massive porpoise slaughter is way worse than the ones you’ve heard about


Grist

Remember that documentary The Cove, about dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan? Well, get ready to be upset times seven:

[S]ome 500 miles to the north [of the cove at Taiji], in Iwate Prefecture, an annual slaughter of a beautiful species called Dall’s porpoise has been taking place in numbers that dwarf anything found at the cove.

Specifically, SEVEN TIMES as many porpoises were harpooned at Iwate in the 2009-2010 season — more than 9,000 — compared to the number of dolphins and whales killed in Taiji’s cove. (This season, Iwate hunters only killed 1,200 porpoises, because the 2011 tsunami damaged coastal cities and hunting boats. But the numbers are creeping back up.)

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A plague of hornets in China is killing people and eating bees


Grist

asian-giant-hornet-image

If you’ve always wanted to visit China, this … this might not be the best time. Thanks to climate change, massive numbers of Asian giant hornets (which are the size of your thumb) have been rolling through Shaanxi Province, eating honeybees, and stinging humans to death. And they could be coming to your area next.

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China still leads the world in emissions, with no end in sight


Grist

People write about China’s growth so much it’s daunting to wring out something new. But — wow — when you see it for the first time in a few years, it still delivers one hell of a punch.

I lived in China for a year before the Beijing’s 2008 Olympics (a kind of development event horizon in China’s history, towards which the whole country hurtled), and I’ve been back regularly enough to marvel at changes firsthand.

But I have never before been as dumbfounded as during a train ride this week from Beijing through a swathe of China’s northeast coal belt. My colleague Jaeah Lee and I were whisked away from the capital on rails that carry sleek new bullet trains (in just two years, China will have completed 11,200 miles of high-speed railway lines, leaving the U.S. limping). We zoom at 186 miles per hour through unabated upheaval.

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Captain Peter Willcox Is a Hero, Not a “Pirate”


Grist

Captain Peter Willcox At The Leninsky District Court Of Murmansk

Peter Willcox has seen nearly everything. In 1985, he was captain of the Rainbow Warrior when French agents bombed it, killing one of the crew. He and I witnessed first hand the impacts of the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster in the Gulf. But he’s never seen the inside of a Russian jail, until now. Captain Willcox is one of the 30 Greenpeace crew, activists and volunteers who has been held for over 100 hours by armed Russian security services after taking part in a safe, peaceful protest against Arctic oil drilling.

This incident is unfolding against the backdrop of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment, released today, which confirms at the highest levels the “unequivocal” role of human activity in climate change. The facts from the world’s leading climate scientists prove the actions of these international activists were justified.

Instead of taking action to curb this catastrophe…

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