Archive for the ‘ climate change ’ Category

Caring for Pakistan’s Children

By Allison Zelkowitz for The Express Tribune

Every day we must each decide who to help, and who to ignore: the woman on the sidewalk begging for change, a neighbour carrying grocery bags up the apartment stairs, a colleague staying late in the office trying to finish a project. Sometimes we offer money, support, or time, and sometimes we walk by. Sometimes caring seems too hard.

These days, it seems that caring for Pakistan’s children is too hard. Millions of children are homeless, hungry, and sick in lower Sindh, which was devastated by flooding over a month ago. But Pakistan is not on the world’s good side at the moment — Osama Bin Laden was discovered here. Media reports on suicide attacks and terrorist networks abound. Relations between the US and Pakistan have soured. With so much negative news, it’s hard to feel good about helping Pakistan. Our hearts go out to the downtrodden and helpless, not those who are tinged with violence and controversy.

But Pakistan’s children don’t know this. They don’t know that if they had been born in a different country, they might not be going to bed hungry. They don’t know that if they spoke Japanese or Creole, rather than Sindhi, they might be sleeping in a waterproof tent, rather than under a plastic sack strung between trees. And they don’t know that, if they had survived last year’s floods, rather than this year’s – they might have clean water to drink.

More than two weeks ago, the United Nations launched a $357 million appeal to provide life-saving relief to over 5.4 million people affected by the floods, including 2 million children. Last year, when a $460 million appeal was issued to help victims of the 2010 floods, 64 per cent of this amount was committed by international donors in 18 days. This year, only 14 per cent has been pledged so far.

For aid workers like myself, the ‘humanitarian imperative’ guides our work — this principle avows that it is the duty of the international community to provide humanitarian assistance wherever needed. Our job is to save lives and reduce suffering when disaster strikes. We are trying to do this in flood-ravaged lower Sindh. Both the government and the humanitarian community in Pakistan have provided food, water, shelter, and medical care to hundreds of thousands of people. Save the Children — the organisation I work for — has reached over 240,000 people in less than four weeks. Yet there are still hundreds of communities who have received no support, and aid agencies will run out of funding soon. What, then, for Pakistan’s children?
In some areas of lower Sindh, it will take months for the flood waters to recede. While they wait, those with livestock will sell off their goats and cattle one by one, for ten to 20 per cent of their value, so they can feed their families. The less fortunate families, those without such assets, will take loans from wealthy landlords, and fall further into debt. Their children will eat once a day, and often only flatbread. They will suffer from skin diseases and diarrhoea, and some will contract malaria. As children become more malnourished, their immune systems will weaken. Soon many will die.

With so much need in the world, we often become deaf to cries for help. But national governments and international donor agencies are not deaf — they read the reports, they know the numbers. And 5.4 million people is no small number — it is more than the populations of Norway, Ireland, and New Zealand. Yet unlike these countries, the 5.4 million people in Pakistan affected by the floods do not have savings accounts or insurance. Right now, most have only make-shift shelters, a few clay pots, and some dirty blankets, and with that they are trying to get by.
Pakistan will likely remain at the forefront of global controversy for some time to come. But its children should not have to pay the price for this. The children in lower Sindh are not militants or politicians. They are like your children — hopeful, genuine, and kind — and they deserve to survive as all children do.

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John Lennon- Imagine

India and Pakistan Officials Discuss Bilateral Water Treaty

As reported by Daily India

India and Pakistan officials attended a high-level meeting of the Indus Water Treaty Commission in Jammu to discuss a proposal by India to erect a dam on the river Indus.

A three-member delegation from Pakistan led by Sheraj Jameel, Commissioner, Indus Water Treaty, visited the Nikki Tawi area to examine the site and the design of the proposed artificial lake. The lake is being constructed at a cost of rupees 1.1 billion.

“We are here to inspect the project. We will see whether it is within the limitation of the treaty or not and after the visit we will talk to our counterpart,” said Jameel.
The Indian counterpart S.Ranganathan, Commissioner, Indus Water Treaty, said that the lake project is still in conception.

“In our opinion it does not violate the treaty. When we will get the information from the project authorities, we will analyse it and if it doesn’t violate the provisions, then we will give the go ahead for the project” said Ranganathan.

The team of delegates would be in the region for three days to examine all the records and plans vis-à-vis water distribution for the lake project.

The World Bank had brokered the Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan and was signed by the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the then Pakistan President Mohammad Ayub Khan in Karachi in 1960 giving powers to the latter for monitoring the usage of three rivers-Indus, Jehlum and Chenab from Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan.

America and India: The Almost-Special Relationship

By Jim Yardley for The New York Times

At a panel discussion last week on relations between India and the United States, Strobe Talbott, the former American diplomat, told an audience of Indian business leaders that he had learned a valuable lesson about India: Do not hyphenate it. As in Indo-Pak. (Or, in a close cousin of a hyphen, as in Chindia.) The audience smiled at his epiphany: India matters because it is India.

In a nutshell, President Obama is trying to deliver the same message during his three-day visit to India, the first stop on a broader Asian tour. Both countries are eager to build on their improved ties and set up a unique, special relationship, given that together they represent the world’s richest and largest democracies. Faced with a rising authoritarian China, and an economically wounded Europe, a weakened United States is casting about for global partners. India would seem a nice fit.

“This is the time to be ambitious about this relationship,” said Shivshankar Menon, India’s national security adviser, speaking on the panel with Mr. Talbott.

And yet eliminating the hyphen is not easy, especially given India’s fraught relations with its neighbors in what is perhaps the most politically complicated region on earth, one in which American lives and treasure are at stake in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And India’s evolving relationship with another neighbor, China, is also a prime concern for America. Indeed, the decision to focus Mr. Obama’s India trip on India was itself not easily achieved; some senior administration officials lobbied the president to put pressure on Indian leaders for a conciliatory gesture toward Pakistan, in hope that such a carrot might entice the Pakistanis to do more to help America against the Taliban.

These sorts of political equations have long tangled the U.S.-India relationship: The Americans, at different times, have pushed the Indians to cut a deal with Pakistan over the disputed region of Kashmir, but the Indians have bristled at any interference. The Indians still want the Americans to sponsor India for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. Not such an easy thing, the Americans reply, since America alone can’t do this and it creates issues between America and China. It has sometimes seemed like a relationship built around one country asking the other to do something it considers against its self-interest.

Moreover, the economic relationship between the two countries often has been a source of friction. High unemployment in America has renewed complaints that outsourcing to India hurts American workers. Indians complain that American protectionism is hurting Indian companies and that American export restrictions on technologies that can have both military and civil uses are outdated and unnecessary in a relationship between putative allies.

Mr. Obama’s trip is an attempt to reboot or refocus the relationship away from these disputes and de-emphasize the tangible goodies (for example, contracts) that politicians call “deliverables.” Instead, the two sides are discussing how they can partner on education, clean energy, agriculture, technological development and military cooperation. The thematic emphasis of the visit is on shared democratic values — a pointed dig at China — and what the two countries say are shared opportunities. American officials say that an expected $4 billion deal for India to buy military transport aircraft — yes, a goodie — will provide thousands of American jobs. Indian officials emphasize that trade between the two countries is basically balanced — unlike with China — and that the anger over outsourcing is misplaced, especially since some Indian companies are investing and creating jobs in the United States.

Some Indian commentators have groused that all the diplospeak about shared opportunities obscures the fact that the trip lacks a “big idea” to excite or elevate the relationship, even as big, unavoidable problems are seemingly being avoided. In 2000, former President Bill Clinton spent five days in India on a door-opening visit that was credited with righting what had been a stalled relationship. Then former President George W. Bush made the most dramatic gesture by pushing through an agreement to cooperate on civilian nuclear projects; the move effectively legitimized India as a nuclear power and lifted a 30-year moratorium on nuclear trade with India even though India had not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. By comparison, Mr. Obama seems not to be offering much.

“The jury is out,” said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express, speaking of how India’s political establishment views Mr. Obama.

But Ronen Sen, who recently retired from India’s diplomatic corps after serving as ambassador to the United States, says the focus on a “big idea” is misplaced. Given the litany of difficult problems between the two countries, Mr. Sen said, Mr. Obama’s approach was a reasonable way to build trust and broaden a bilateral relationship that, while greatly improved, had not yet fully matured.

“It has not yet reached a critical mass where it can be self sustaining,” Mr. Sen said.

Indeed, even the landmark civil nuclear deal remains a subject of dispute as the two sides still squabble over fine details of how American suppliers could begin doing business in the lucrative Indian market. The Americans say that rules recently approved by India are inconsistent with accepted global practice, which exempts foreign suppliers from liability in cases of accidents, leaving it solely with local operators. A senior American official said “intense discussions” were underway to find a solution. If one is found, Mr. Obama may get a nice “deliverable” — an open door through which American firms, as originally expected, can sell nuclear equipment to India and provide jobs at home.

There is less talk of the chances of solving bigger problems, like differences between America and India in global negotiations on global warming climate change and trade. And the uncertainty over the most problematic hyphens — Afghanistan and Pakistan — looms over the visit. Even as Mr. Obama seeks a way to stabilize Afghanistan and get out, Indian officials dread the day America leaves. They worry about what will be left behind, since India cannot leave the neighborhood.

“Quite obviously, we have strategic stakes there,” said Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal, director of the Center for Land Warfare Studies, a military research institute. “We do not wish to have a government in Afghanistan or a government in Kabul that is inimical to Indian interests.”

He added: “We see the United States as a stabilizing influence in Asia.”

And so a political courtship will continue, problems and all. Governmental ties already lag far behind the people-to-people relationships. America remains the premier destination for Indian students studying abroad, and Indian immigrants in America have achieved disproportionate success in business, medicine and many other fields. It is this backchannel closeness that serves as a cattle prod nudging the governments to become closer, too.

K. Subrahmanyam, a leading Indian defense analyst, believes that India and the United States represent the inevitable and necessary partnership of the 21st century because China’s rise represents a threat to a global order based on democratic principles. He said that demographic trends, too, should bind the two countries together.

“If America needs a partner, Europe is aging, Japan is aging and China is going to age,” he said. “The only two major nations in the world who will not be aging, at least for the next 30 years, are the United States and India.”

Clinton Invokes Climate Change Debate to Explain Pakistan Floods

As Reported by Fox News

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other officials are pointing to the devastating floods in Pakistan and other extreme weather events as signs that climate change is getting worse.

Clinton, in an interview with Pakistan’s Dawn TV, said “there is a linkage” between the recent spate of deadly natural disasters and climate change.

“You can’t point to any particular disaster and say, ‘it was caused by,’ but we are changing the climate of the world,” she said.

Clinton said that on top of the Pakistan floods, which have forced millions out of their homes, the forest fires in Russia stand as another example. She said there’s no “direct link” between the disasters in Pakistan and Russia but that “when you have the changes in climate that affect weather that we’re now seeing, I think the predictions of more natural disasters are unfortunately being played out.”

Climate change skeptics say the planet is going through natural phases — the kind it’s gone through for eons. Pakistan, in particular, is prone to flooding and is routinely drenched by the monsoon rains. Some officials have partially blamed deforestation and inferior levee systems for the historic flooding which has affected one-fifth of the country’s landmass and triggered nearly a half-billion dollars in international aid commitments.

Scientists who study climate change tend to offer more nuance in their explanations of the possible link to a rise in greenhouse gas emissions. They generally say that no one natural disaster can be chalked up to man-caused climate change, but that it can contribute to those disasters happening more frequently and more intensely.

Both the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change and the World Meteorological Organization reiterated that point in light of the Pakistan floods. WMO climate data chief Omar Baddour was quoted saying it’s “too early to point to a human fingerprint” behind the recent disasters but climate change may be “exacerbating the intensity” of them.

But some government officials have shown little equivocation in directly linking the Pakistan disaster with climate change.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, said Thursday that his country’s flooding “reconfirms our extreme vulnerability to the adverse impacts of climate change.”

The flooding and Russian forest fires, which were sparked following a severe drought, coincide with record heat elsewhere in addition to downpours and landslides in China.

The renewed concerns over climate change come after international talks on a new treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fell short at a summit last December in Copenhagen. Talks over climate change legislation have also stalled in the U.S. Congress.

BP Stands for Let’s Blame Palin for the Recklessness of “Drill Baby Drill!”

By Manzer Munir for Pakistanis for Peace

As the BP Oil Spill passes into its 61st day, I began to wonder what the BP in British Petroleum could also stand for. Here is a list of things that I and some friends have come up with that could be the abbreviation for BP.

BP= Bad Planning- The Bad Planning and lack of a coherent emergency response in the event of a rig collapse such as the one that caused the BP Oil Spill and has made a bad situation worse as the company, now still in charge 61 days after a disaster of their own causing, struggles to find a way to stop the leak.

BP= Barely Plugging- More than 6 weeks after the spill started, BP was able to attach a pipe to the well at the bottom of the ocean and is able to siphon 250,000 gallons a day (one tenth of what is estimated to be spilling into the Gulf each day). This clearly is not a solution as this is Barely Plugging the oil spill that continues to poison the ocean and all that live in and around it.

BP= Beach Pollution= See also Bathing Prohibited. The oil from the spill has caused Beach Pollution in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, and Florida. The loss of revenue by the towns and cities in these states that would normally welcome millions of tourists in the summer months is going to have a very damaging effect to many of these states already reeling from the worst recession since the Great Depression.

BP= Bankrupt Probably- Many experts are saying that BP will not be able to financially survive this disaster and most likely will go Bankrupt Probably. If that happens, will the American public foot the bill as we did for the Wall Street failure? One thing is for sure, the company is looking at a very bleak future both criminally and financially.

BP= Be Prepared- This disaster shows the lack of planning for events such as these and underscores the reason for oil companies as well as government agencies such as the Minerals Management Service to Be Prepared in the event of disasters such as this spill. A lack of an emergency plan both by BP and the government is also at fault for making this disaster as bad as it has been.

BP= Bad People- Are the executives at BP Bad People for being at the helm of a company that caused the greatest disaster in history and worse yet for calling the residents of the Gulf “Small People” and showing great indifference to the plight of the residents of the Gulf and to the American public?

BP= Barren Planet- The oil spill is causing irreparable damage to the environment and to the ecology of the ocean and its long term effects are unknown by scientists at this point. One thing is for sure, water is the source of all life on the planet and as we kill the ocean and all living creatures in it with this oil spill, we are guaranteeing ourselves future where life will be hard to sustain on a Barren Planet.

BP= Behemoth Plume- The oil spill has created a Behemoth Plume that is at least 15 miles wide and 3 miles long and growing. This plume is a dead zone with no oxygen and a place where no living creature can survive. As the oil continues to flow and goes unchecked the size of this plume grows and there are reports of second and third oil plumes now forming in the Gulf.

BP= Beyond Pathetic- 61 days and counting and the leak has not been stopped. This is beyond pathetic for BP, and the government’s oversight departments.

BP= Be Patient- How long can the people of the Gulf of Mexico as well as the American people wait for BP and the government to fix the spill and stop the oil leak, not to mention clean up the gulf? And is that even a possibility?

BP= Barely Progressing- 61 days into the oil spill and it seems we are Barely Progressing as oil continues to spill into the Gulf at alarming rates.

BP= Bad Publicity- No amount of new splashy television or print advertisements will replace the Bad Publicity that the company of BP has received. Rarely in the annals of corporate history has a company ever faced such a public relations nightmare as has BP and it will be interesting to see if it ever recovers from this or ends up going under, much like the rig.

BP= Big Problems- The BP Oil Spill is perhaps the biggest of the Big Problems facing the Obama administration and the American people. The economy can be eventually fixed, the housing prices will come back up, people will eventually get rehired, wars will eventually be won or lost and will come to an end, but an ecological and environmental disaster such as this spill we will never fully recover from as a planet.

BP= Birds Poisoned- Tens of thousands of Birds Poisoned as a result of the oil spill. Many birds and animals that are unique to the Gulf region are feared irreparably harmed due to the disaster.

BP= Black Plague- The oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico and continuing to do so each day means that this spill has become the Black Plague of death not just to the people and the animals of the area, but indeed quite possibly for marine life and perhaps eventually for the planet as no one knows the true effects of this unprecedented disaster on the ecology of the planet.

BP= Broken Pipeline- The Broken Pipeline at the bottom of the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico continues to spill as much as an estimated 1.5 million to 2.5 million gallons of oil a DAY into the ocean!

BP= Blood Pressure- Blood pressure was further raised for those living along the Gulf of Mexico as the administration imposed a ban on all new offshore oil drilling and exploration. This has caused many workers in the area who rely on this industry to feed their families, to be laid off by other oil companies as the government assesses the situation and the safety of offshore drilling.

BP= Boiling Point= The Americans affected by the oil spill that rely on the fishing, boating, and tourism in the area have long reached a Boling Point in their patience with BP and with the government’s response.

BP= Better Prosecute= Attorney General Eric Holder is assigned by President Obama to investigate the BP Oil Spill and into criminal charges against the company are now a certainty, especially given the deaths of 11 workers in the explosion that caused the Deepwater Horizon rig to collapse and start the spill on April 20.

BP= Black Pelicans= Pictures of Black Pelicans and other animals as environmentalists worry that number of dead and affected animals is in the tens of thousands. The animal and sea creatures of the Gulf region are expected to be devastated for many years to come.

BP= Billions Paid- This stands for the billions and billions of dollars already paid by BP and the untold billions that will be paid by them in the future and possibly all of us tax payers if the company goes under and becomes bankrupt

BP= Barack’s Problem- This disaster has become President Barack Obama’s Katrina. But at least with hurricane Katrina, the calamity passed within hours and the government started the clean up and rescue, whereas with the BP Oil Spill this is a disaster that keeps on spewing and keeps on polluting as today is the 61st day the spill has continued to flow. How he has handled himself at the onset of this disaster and its continuation could be the defining moment of his presidency as this is squarely Barack’s Problem, unlike the economy, Iraq, and Afghanistan, which all he inherited.

BP=Bankruptcy Protection- See also bankruptcy probably. The amount of damages and compensation that BP will have to pay out in claims and also in penalties could wipe out the company and it may have to seek Bankruptcy Protection.

BP= Brand Problems- See also Bad Publicity. The BP brand has been damaged forever and no amount of advertisements will change the public image and Brand Problems that the spill has created for BP.

BP= Bleeding Planet- The unchecked, endless, and prolonged seepage of the thick crude oil into the ocean is causing death to millions of wildlife and is making earth a Bleeding Planet which one wonders whether we can survive this catastrophe.

BP= Bathing Prohibited- See also Beach Polluted, hence bathing prohibited. And if no beach visitors, no revenue for many states like Florida from tourists and many other places in and around the Gulf of Mexico that depend on the billions of revenue dollars from the fishing and tourism.

BP= Blame Palin- Probably one of the most poignant points of this article and one ignored by major media publications is that there is a correlation to the BP Oil Spill and Palin’s “Drill Baby Drill” slogan during the presidential campaign. Her proposals of allowing the oil drilling everywhere during the 2008 campaign, including in some of America’s most pristine places such as Alaska, galvanized the oil industry and revved them up into a “Gold Rush” mentality where short cuts were taken and oversight lost by the government in a greedy push for more oil saw sloppiness and Bad Planning cause the worst environmentalist disaster in history.

BP= Bye Planet- If the oil spill continues to go on and spill up to 2.5 million gallons into the ocean each day, how long before it engulfs all our oceans and kills a large portion of plant and animal life on the planet? Would that mean the end of the world when that happens?

So in conclusion, BP stands for The Black Plague, because of the Bad Planning,  now let’s Blame Palin, for the Beach Pollution casued by Broken Pipes, with Billions Paid, now it’s Beyond Pathetic, as we’re Barely Progressing, while Black Pelicans, become Barack’s Problem, and the Behomoth Plumes, mean bye Bye Planet!

Climate Debate “Heats” Up In Copenhagen

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