Drought Everywhere

The world is blankly looking up the sky for rains. Non stoppable heat waves had laughing fast run on the planet. Even some of the coolest places faced the heat of the summer this year.With no signs of rain in the coming days the world is heading towards a severe drought situation. Without blaming others, the Government should step forward to sought out the pending problems. Otherwise it will lead anti-social events that may the toll of the government.

Paul Krugman writes in The New York Times on 25 July 2012

A couple of weeks ago northeastern United States was gripped by a severe heat wave. As I write this, however, it’s a fairly cool day in New Jersey, considering that it’s late July. Weather is like that; it fluctuates. And this banal observation may be what dooms us to climate catastrophe, in two ways. On one side, the variability of temperatures from day to day and year to year makes it easy to miss, ignore or obscure the longer-term upward trend. On the other, even a fairly modest rise in average temperatures translates into a much higher frequency of extreme events — like the devastating drought now gripping America’s heartland — that do vast damage.

On the first point: Even with the best will in the world, it would be hard for most people to stay focused on the big picture in the face of short-run fluctuations. When the mercury is high and the crops are withering, everyone talks about it, and some make the connection to global warming. But let the days grow a bit cooler and the rains fall, and inevitably people’s attention turns to other matters.

Making things much worse, of course, is the role of players who don’t have the best will in the world. Climate change denial is a major industry, lavishly financed by Exxon, the Koch brothers and others with a financial stake in the continued burning of fossil fuels. And exploiting variability is one of the key tricks of that industry’s trade. Applications range from the Fox News perennial — “It’s cold outside! Al Gore was wrong!” — to the constant claims that we’re experiencing global cooling, not warming, because it’s not as hot right now as it was a few years back.

How should we think about the relationship between climate change and day-to-day experience? Almost a quarter of a century ago James Hansen, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist who did more than anyone to put climate change on the agenda, suggested the analogy of loaded dice. Imagine, he and his associates suggested, representing the probabilities of a hot, average or cold summer by historical standards as a dice with two faces painted red, two white and two blue. By the early 21st century, they predicted, it would be as if four of the faces were red, one white and one blue. Hot summers would become much more frequent, but there would still be cold summers now and then.

And so it has proved. As documented in a new paper by Dr Hansen and others, cold summers by historical standards still happen, but rarely, while hot summers have in fact become roughly twice as prevalent. And nine of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000.

But that’s not all: really extreme high temperatures, the kind of thing that used to happen very rarely in the past, have now become fairly common. Think of it as rolling two sixes, which happens less than three per cent of the time with fair dice, but more often when the dice are loaded. And this rising incidence of extreme events, reflecting the same variability of weather that can obscure the reality of climate change, means that the costs of climate change aren’t a distant prospect, decades in the future. On the contrary, they’re already here, even though so far global temperatures are only about one degree Fahrenheit above their historical norms, a small fraction of their eventual rise if we don’t act.

The great Midwestern drought is a case in point. This drought has already sent corn prices to their highest level ever. If it continues, it could cause a global food crisis, because the US heartland is still the world’s breadbasket. And yes, the drought is linked to climate change: such events have happened before, but they’re much more likely now than they used to be.

Now, may be this drought will break in time to avoid the worst. But there will be more events like this. Joseph Romm, the influential climate blogger, has coined the term “Dust-Bowlification” for the prospect of extended periods of extreme drought in formerly productive agricultural areas. He has been arguing for some time that this phenomenon, with its disastrous effects on food security, is likely to be the leading edge of damage from climate change, taking place over the next few decades; the drowning of Florida by rising sea levels and all that will come later. And here it comes.

Will the current drought finally lead to serious climate action? History isn’t encouraging. The deniers will surely keep on denying, especially because conceding at this point that the science they’ve trashed was right all along would be to admit their own culpability for the looming disaster. And the public is all too likely to lose interest again the next time the dice comes up white or blue.

But let’s hope that this time is different. For large scale damage from climate change is no longer a disaster waiting to happen. It’s happening now.

Advertisements

Kick Out the Tax Evaders and Save the World

Tax evaders are the worst criminals in the world. But they are given royal treatment by the state and society. Countless cash boxes possessed by the tax evaders make them darling of governments. That’s why the tax evaders escape all the legal mechanisms and roam around the world luxuriously. The shocking fact is that the nations which talk high about good governance like Switzerland, United States of America and the likes shelter the tax criminals. Even if there is an occasional hue and cry about the tax evaders there will a monthlong eye wash programmes to project the concerned nations as clean and moral.
It is high time that the world leaders resolve to throw out tax evaders irrespective of their national and class status. This is the only solution to the uplifting poor people from the abject poverty webbed around them.

Ken Silverstein writes in The New York Times,

On June 11, the US government filed a complaint documenting a record of corruption as outlandish as anything seen since Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos plundered the Philippines in the 1980s. The complaint detailed allegations of massive bribery and money-laundering practiced by the son and heir apparent of Equatorial Guinea’s dictator, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. As his nation’s minister of forestry, the younger Obiang, known as Teodorin, accumulated a fortune by forcing foreign timber companies to pay him lavish bribes, often in cash-filled suitcases.
While Washington has gotten better at shutting down terrorist financing and starving regimes like Sudan and Iran of investment, it has done little to stop sitting dictators and their families from using America to stash their assets. Until now, Washington has sent a message to friendly dictators that you can steal and terrorise your people as much as you like as long as you hold power. We’ll only seize your assets if you’re overthrown.
Going after Obiang is especially courageous because Equatorial Guinea, sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest oil producer, is an important energy ally. American oil companies have billions invested there, pump virtually all of its oil and ship a good part of it to the US. Washington generally avoids the potential foreign policy fallout that comes from pressuring friendly states to clean up their acts on human rights and corruption. Yet now, a top justice department official has declared, “the United States will not be a hiding place for the ill-gotten riches of the world’s corrupt leaders.”
The US justice department’s complaint is also a crucial test, because if the United States government can’t win a case involving the Obiangs, it might as well stop trying to hold corrupt dictators accountable. The message to tyrants and oligarchs will be, “Come here and spend without fear that we’ll confiscate any of your ill-gotten gains.” Obiang’s father seized power in 1979 and is currently Africa’s longest-ruling leader. Since then, he has managed to accumulate a fortune of at least $600 million. (Meanwhile, one in three of his impoverished subjects dies before the age of 40.)
His son is infinitely greedier. In 1993, President Obiang awarded Teodorin — then 24 years old — logging concessions on nearly 90,000 acres of rainforest. The following year, he was named minister of forestry. Despite a salary of under $7,000 per month, Teodorin “spent more than $300 million”, according to the justice department, “acquiring assets and property on four continents between 2000 and 2011.”
In America, his main purchases were a $30 million Malibu estate and a $38 million private jet — not to mention more than $1 million worth of Michael Jackson memorabilia, including a white crystal-covered glove. He also bought an $80 million home in Paris, a $15 million property in Sao Paulo, nearly $6 million worth of wine, and paintings by Degas, Renoir and Gauguin.
Companies that paid him off could cut down trees wherever they liked. Companies that refused to pay bribes got kicked out of the country and had their property and equipment stolen. Despite this sordid record, legal loopholes and accommodating American attorneys and accountants have allowed Obiang to launder huge sums into the United States.
The primary legal shortcoming is that many jurisdictions — from the Cayman Islands to certain American states — don’t require companies to disclose their true beneficial owners (as opposed to their registered owners, who serve as fronts). Dictators and despots can therefore easily hide their assets: instead of buying property in their names, they instead will buy a mansion owned, for example, by a Panamanian trust controlled by a Bahamian corporation that’s run by a company registered in Lichtenstein.