More on Climate Change


Venice Lagoon research indicates rapid climate change in coastal regions.

…sea surface temperature (SST) in coastal regions is rising as much as ten times faster than the global average of 0.13 degrees per decade.

Measurements taken in coastal areas near large cities indicate that these urban “heat islands” may be contributing to Sea Surface Temperature increases above the global average.

[In the UK] the air temperature in the capital and the SST of the Thames is always warmer than it is in the rest of the UK. Similarly, in South Korea, an area which has seen rapid industrial expansion, the SST is rising at a rate of 0.26 degrees per decade — significantly higher than the global average.

Coastal zones are almost a fifth of the world’s landmass, and home to 1.6 billion people.  Coastal population density is 3 times higher than the world average, and continually increasing.  Research indicates that this high level of human activity in the coastal zones heats the adjacent waters.

[and ] this contribution to global warming at the coastal zones is equal to, or greater than, other factors such as greenhouse gasses.

How will this impact coastal fisheries?  What coastal infrastructure is vulnerable due to the warming?  And, can or will we do anything about it?

Barren Wastelands No More

Arctic Resources, Exposed by Warming, Set Off Competition -

Arctic Resources, Exposed by Warming, Set Off Competition –

NUUK, Greenland — With Arctic ice melting at record pace, the world’s superpowers are increasingly jockeying for political influence and economic position in outposts like this one, previously regarded as barren wastelands.

The race is on to stake out territory and mineral rights in the Far North.  Now that more areas of Greenland are exposed, mining for rare earth minerals is possible during the summer.  China seems to be first in line with cash to invest in the operations.

While the United States, Russia and several nations of the European Union have Arctic territory, China has none, and as a result, has been deploying its wealth and diplomatic clout to secure toeholds in the region.

The route across the famed “Northwest Passage ” is a much shorter trip than even going through the Panama Canal, and China sent the first ship across this past summer.

There’s also a big pile of minerals in the Arctic, and the surrounding nations are staking claims.

Arctic Resources, Exposed by Warming, Set Off Competition -

The Arctic Council is in charge of the waters.  People from surrounding countries sit on the Council, but other nations want to take part.

This once-obscure body, previously focused on issues like monitoring Arctic animal populations, now has more substantive tasks, like defining future port fees and negotiating agreements on oil spill remediation. “We’ve changed from a forum to a decision-making body,” said Gustaf Lind, Arctic ambassador from Sweden and the council’s current chairman.

Territorial claims in the Arctic are governed by the UN Law of the Sea, which remains unratified by the United States.

The United States has been hampered in the current jockeying because the Senate has refused to ratify the Convention of the Law of the Sea, even though both the Bush and Obama administrations have strongly supported doing so. This means the United States has not been able to formally stake out its underwater boundaries. “We are being left behind,” Deputy Secretary Nides said.

With the possibility of ice-free summers coming sooner than later, the Arctic will be a busy place.  Will the US Senate ratify the Treaty?  Will China gain an advantage in the area?  How will the Arctic Council resolve issues surrounding development in the newly ice-free waters?  And can this area be developed without harming the fragile environment?

Middle East Politics, Explained

Chinese Brinkmanship – 边缘政策

Protesters chant slogans outside the Japanese Consulate General in Hong Kong yesterday as they hold up a picture of the Diaoyu Islands with words reading: “Diaoyu belongs to China” and a sign saying: “Evil spirits of mountains and rivers.”

China dispatches ships to Diaoyu — Shanghai Daily | 上海日报 — English Window to China New.

TWO China Marine Surveillance ships reached waters around the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea yesterday morning to assert the country’s sovereignty in a show of protest against Japan’s “purchase” of the largely barren outcroppings from so-called private Japanese owners.

The two countries are locked in a dispute over some islands, with the winner being able to claim the right to mine the rich gas fields around the islands.

In a statement read out on a state television news broadcast, the foreign affairs committee of China’s legislature said yesterday: “We strongly urge Japan to fully grasp the dangerousness of the present situation and step back from the edge of a precipice over the Diaoyu Islands issue.”

This is a serious game of chicken, with neither country willing to back down.  How will this issue be resolved?  How far will China and Japan push each other?  How will the US avoid getting sucked into this dangerous situation?

Why Map Projections Matter

Why map projections matter, from your friends at The West Wing.

Can China Be Reigned In?


In Beijing, HIllary Clinton to Discuss Island Disputes -

In Beijing, HIllary Clinton to Discuss Island Disputes

As tensions mount between China and its neighbors over islands in nearby strategic waterways, China has scored some subtle victories, making the United States and its friends increasingly uneasy about the potential for violent confrontations.

With competing claims to numerous islands, and major disputes with Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam, China has put itself in the international spotlight.  US Secretary of State Clinton is heading to China for talks about the maritime claims.

“We will need the nations of the region to work collaboratively together to resolve disputes — without coercion, without intimidating, without threats and, certainly, without the use of force,” Mrs. Clinton said …

Asian nations are vying for control of various island groups as they seek the natural resources in the seas around them.  Maritime control is governed by the UN Law of the Sea, which the US has so far refused to sign.

A senior State Department official who will be in Beijing with Mrs. Clinton said the main goal of the trip was to calm what has been an inflamed summer across the region. “It is absolutely essential that cooler heads prevail in every capital,” the official said.

We can only hope….


Our Demographic Future is Now

For Some Texas Schools, Demographic Future is Now — Public Education | The Texas Tribune.

In 2011, the state reached two landmarks. For the first time, Hispanics became the majority of public school students. And to cope with a historic budget deficit, the Legislature did not finance enrollment growth in the state’s schools — something that had not happened since the modernization of the state’s public school system in 1949.

Texas’ future depends on educating our citizens so they can move into jobs now held by about-to-retire baby boomers.  We aren’t doing it very well.

Thirty-eight percent of students who came from low-income households did well enough on their Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills or college entrance exams to qualify as “college ready.” Only 5 percent of those with limited English language skills did so.

How can Texas keep up with the modern world if we can’t educate our future?  Read the article to learn about how some districts are doing things differently.

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