global warming

Independent journalists denied access to Copenhagen climate talks

COPENHAGEN -- Climate change has become the story of the decade and probably the century. So it’s no surprise that the global climate negotiations beginning here today are making the headlines of nearly every major news organization in the world. With thousands of journalists in attendance, the conference seemed at low risk of going underreported. Or so I imagined.

[caption id="attachment_6760" align="alignright" width="98" caption="Alexander Kelly"]Alexander Kelly[/caption]

Late last night, I stood in line to receive my press pass to cover the negotiations. I was glad to have access to the front lines of the climate debate and the resources to report it. Imagine, then, the surprise I felt upon arriving at the press desk only to learn that my accreditation had been rescinded. The reason given: the UN had accredited too many journalists.

Incredulous, I showed the UN official, a man in his mid-20s, a copy of the email I received from the UN press office just a few weeks earlier. It contained three simple words: “Received and approved,” followed by directions for collecting my press pass. The man behind the counter glanced at the paper and told me he would be back in a few moments. He returned with a simple message: We are very sorry, but our records show that you have been denied, and we cannot provide you accreditation at this time.

Excuse me? Really? I flew almost 5,000 miles from the Pacific Northwest to Copenhagen to be denied access to an event I have spent half a year preparing for? Standing next to me was our video journalist, Blair Kelly, who took the email from his hands and told him to get his supervisor.

[caption id="attachment_6758" align="alignleft" width="226" caption="On the outside looking in.

Copenhagen climate talks start with protests against rich nations' pollution of atmosphere

We're starting to receive images from the beginning of the United Nations conference on climate change in Copenhagen, which kicked off today. For more on the conference see introductory posts by Alexander Kelly and Robert McClure:

[caption id="attachment_6726" align="aligncenter" width="226" caption="Protesters from ActionAid demand that rich industrialized countries pay reparations to poor countries bearing the brunt of climate change. InvestigateWest photo by Mark Malijan"]Protesters from ActionAid demand that rich industrialized countries pay reparations to poor countries bearing the brunt of climate change. InvestigateWest photo by Mark Malijan[/caption]

cop 12-7 action aid protesters 

[caption id="attachment_6718" align="aligncenter" width="226" caption="Reporter with Taiwan-based CTi News covers the ActionAid protest. InvestigateWest photo by Mark Malijan."]Reporter with Taiwan-based CTi News covers the ActionAid protest.</p />
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Obama's people make the case that fighting climate change = jobs

Our good friends at grist.org commissioned this story today. Hope you like it:

By Robert McClure

SEATTLE—You could tell by the way Obama administration officials pep-talked a roomful of clean-energy businesspeople today that the White House realizes it hasn’t convinced Americans that “tackling climate change = ending the recession.”

rm iwest mugAgain and again EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Energy Undersecretary Kristina Johnson pounded on the jobs issue at a pre-Copenhagen climate talks event designed to showcase how energy efficiency, the smart grid and renewable energy can boost employment rates.

“We’re hearing a whole host of reasons today to support American clean energy. There are national security reasons. There are environmental reasons, and there are public-health reasons,” Jackson said. “But perhaps the most compelling reason at this moment and in this place is the economy.”

The very setting of the clean energy forum fairly screamed “JOBS!” It was a nearly-finished “innovation center” that is leasing space for startups, built by McKinstry Co. beside the firm’s south Seattle offices. McKinstry is all about energy efficiency in buildings (which is where something like a third to two-fifths of our energy use occurs, depending on how you’re counting).

And, get this: Even as the recession roared ahead into high gear earlier this year, McKinstry announced plans to hire 500 people.

That can happen more, Jackson said.

Scientist whose e-mails were stolen in 'climategate' calls for new view of science, public

rm iwest mugA leading climate scientist whose pirated e-mails were bared for world scrutiny in the so-called "climategate" incident is making some points about the climate-change debate, and scientists' relationship with the public, that have needed saying for some time.

Hat tip to Matt Preusch of The Oregonian for spotting one piece in The Wall Street Journal by Mike Hulme of the University of East Anglia in England. Hulme also held forth in a longer and more involved column, written in conjunction with science critic-questioner Jerome Ravetz, for the BBC. (It's also worth noting that Hulme is the author of a book I intend to find, Why We Disagree About Climate Change.)

Now, I have to say that I was taken aback by the way scientists involved in the email exchanges seem to have been trying to squelch the dissemination of data, and even schemed to block publication of science they found ... sorry, can't help myself... inconvenient.

The e-mail exchanges between prominent American and British climate researchers revealed some disturbing points about how some of the scientists involved in this field have conducted themselves.

But as I read Hulme's piece, it came to me that he is on point about this: We are all arguing about the science of climate change, when what we ought to be arguing about is our value systems and our political inclinations.

Hulme's WSJ article, which is fairly short, is worth a read.

David Suzuki: Space aliens would think humans insane for imperiling life-support systems

  
 

[caption id="attachment_6631" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="Alexander Kelly and David Suzuki/Photo by Paul Israel"]Alexander Kelly and David Suzuki/Photo by Paul Israel[/caption]

 By Alexander Kelly 

Editor’s note: InvestigateWest correspondent Alexander Kelly will be covering the upcoming international climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark. This is an edited transcript of an interview he conducted earlier this year with Canadian environmental leader and scientist David Suzuki. More information on Suzuki is available at the website of his Vancouver-based David Suzuki Foundation. 

InvestigateWest: You are a scientist serving the public interest by stepping outside of academia in order to address the public directly. There are those who are losing hope in the face of findings from such scientists as James Lovelock, James Hansen and yourself. What is it that you really want the public to do?

David Suzuki: In Canada, we’re still left with an administration that is very much in the Bush mode. They are trying to suppress information from the scientific community, manipulate the scientific knowledge, have opposed any admission that climate change is real and we have to act on it, and I think for Canadians, it’s been very frustrating, because for the last two years, climate change has been at the top of the agenda for Canadian concern, and yet politicians aren’t doing anything. So what I say is that people have to inform themselves, and they have to begin to demand change on a large scale. That’s a big thing to ask, but I’ve seen it in the past. I’ve seen it in the civil rights movement.

10 years after WTO, InvestigateWest to tell a story of “Seattle grown up” – in Copenhagen

As the orderly column of peaceful protest marchers rounded a corner in downtown Seattle, the scene changed suddenly. And dramatically. People were running every which way. Smoke billowed from dumpsters set afire. A young man ran past me clutching the silver “N” he had just snatched from above the entrance to the Niketown store. A voice behind me boomed into a megaphone: 

Everybody go down this alley – we think we’ve found a back way into the hotel!

I turned around to see that the guy with the megaphone was Michael Moore – the filmmaker, not the guy by the same name in charge of the World Trade Organization. It was the WTO’s presence in Seattle that sparked this scene 10 years ago today, as 40,000 or more protesters descended on the city.

robert Iwest mugI’m not big on anniversary journalism, but that protest known as N30  remains the largest anti-globalization protest in North American history. And, 10 years on, this week marks the start of what will no doubt be another series of globally significant protests.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators are expected a week from today in Copenhagen, where negotiators from around the globe are traveling to supposedly try to reach a global accord limiting green-house gas emissions. Will the negotiators succeed?

InvestigateWest will be covering climate talks in Copenhagen; WTO-style street protests expected

 By Alexander Kelly

Ten years after Seattle witnessed the largest anti-corporate globalization action the United States has seen, protesters will take to the streets of Copenhagen in a week to oppose the global capitalization of the struggle against climate change.

The delegates attending the upcoming high-stakes negotiations are expected to entertain mostly market-based solutions to climate change, which critics say improperly treat carbon as a commodity to be traded among the world’s largest polluters.

Plenty of activists aren’t buying it, and like their predecessors at the WTO rallies in ‘99, they’re ready to let world leaders know.

Nor are they buying the rhetoric spouted at Singapore’s recent international economic summit, where the official goal of the Copenhagen meetings was reduced from the development of a “legally binding treaty” to a “political” one. The announcement has activist groups like Bill McKibben’s 350.org and members of the Climate Justice Action network in an uproar, with street-side frustrations on the rise as the will to tackle climate change seemingly takes a political nosedive.

As tens of thousands of protesters from the world over converge on December’s climate talks, so will InvestigateWest.

On the eve of Seattle's WTO 10th anniversary, rioting breaks out at WTO in Geneva

Just days before the 10th anniversary of N30, the biggest day of rioting at the 1999 World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Seattle, protesters went on a rampage overnight in Geneva at the latest WTO meeting.

Cars were set on fire and police said perhaps 200 of the 3,000 protesters were intent on violence. Authorities responded with water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets.

Watch this space next week, as InvestigateWest will have an exciting and related announcement.

 -- Robert McClure