Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

Still no friends of the earth

April 23, 2014

Another Earth Day, another year marked by climate disasters across the globe, another year without meaningful action on climate change, another year of the failed UN process on climate change droning on. No wonder Mother Nature is so angry.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.

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Asians can’t have it all

May 22, 2011

Asian environmentalism pioneer Chandran Nair says Western consumerism in the developing East will spark irreversible climate impacts. His new book Consumptionomics: Asia’s Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet warns Asians that they’ll have to settle for less. That’s a silver bullet into the heart of notion of global economic rebalancing, which says Asians need to consume more Western exports to ensure long term growth and stability.

My review of Consumptionomics applauds Nair for adding some welcome common sense to the climate change debate, savaging silly ideas on all sides. He derides the notion that markets can deal with environmental destruction largely caused by market failure. As the founder of corporate environmental consultant ERM, Nair is well placed to debunk this argument against government action to regulate resource exploitation.

Nair also gores a sacred cow of the environmental movement and the UN known as climate justice – developing countries must have the same right to pollute as the developed countries had. That’s sounds fair but it’s deadly for the planet, my Asia Times book review notes.

The solutions proposed in Consumptionomics may not live up to these standards, perhaps proving that no book can have it all, either. But Nair is a voice of reason in a discussion that lacks them.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

Climate change stops smoking – and vice versa?

December 20, 2010

The UN climate change talks in Cancun ended with little movement, and the prospects for future progress are dim. On the present course, preserving the planet as we know it for our children and grandchildren seems hopeless.

But the UN isn’t the only way to combat global warming. There’s a lot that campaigners against climate change can learn from the anti-tobacco movement. Over the past dozen years, attitudes toward smoking have changed dramatically across the world. I saw the most dramatic changes firsthand while working for Philip Morris in Asia, a region most believed would resist the anti-smoking trend that swept the US. However, Asia today has some of the world’s most stringent restrictions on tobacco sales and smoking.

To be more effective against global warming, environmentalists may need to spend less time hanging around UN bureaucrats and academics and more time with American lawyers. It’s a sacrifice, but Mother Earth is worth it.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

Tapping palm oil without tapping out rainforests

March 9, 2010

Traveling in Borneo for Lonely Planet, I’ve seen firsthand how palm oil plantations can distort and destroy rainforests. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Last month, palm oil producers and consumers, scientists, investors, environmental advocates, and development groups gathered for the International Conference on Oil Palm and Environment (ICOPE) to try to better meet the challenges facing the industry as demand for palm oil and palm oil development grow. As I wrote in Asia Times, what matters isn’t what people say at these conferences but what happens afterward. Last week produced a troubling sign: an agreement by top producers Indonesia and Malaysia to jointly defend palm oil’s record. Malaysia’s palm oil producers have long dismissed any criticism of their industry with the vehemence and veracity of the 20th century US tobacco industry.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

Nopenhagen saviors US, China deserve praise

January 7, 2010

In the fallout from last month’s failed climate change conference, the US and China emerged as villains. But the real blame for turning Copenhagen into Nopenhagen rests with the UN, small developing countries, and environmental groups. Those parties had little to contribute to the negotiations and were committed a flawed concept that, even it had been adopted, would not have effectively curbed emissions. The US and China, countries that really can make a difference in emissions, came up with a plan that can actually help save the planet, and they deserve to be praised for it.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

Put Mother Earth on Your Holiday Gift List

December 9, 2009

Apropos of the season and the Copenhagen climate change conference, think about Christmas trees. Not the usual evergreen for Yuletide (or whatever holidays you may or may not celebrate) but giving trees as presents. For example, Project Oikos sells trees and lets recipients do the planting in selected locations. There are other organizations that will make Mother Earth part of your holiday celebration, and there’s never been a better time to support them. You’ll be helping a friend in need.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

Muslims, Jews join hands

September 23, 2009

In this season of Muslims celebrating the end of Ramadan, Jews repenting at the start of their new year, and US President Barack Obama indicating he’ll bang heads to bring Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table, perhaps only an America abroad named Muhammad Cohen can put the whole picture in focus. My Rosh-Ramadan roadmap for peace column in The Guardian tries to pull the pieces together.

The Guardian, where I’ve been a contributor for just over a year, also ran my piece on the United Nation’s effort to combat global warming, Climate change’s cold reality, ahead of the UN climate summit.

Along with global economic recovery, Middle East peace and climate change give our world leaders a pretty full agenda for the UN General Assembly. Maybe this will be the year the UN and its members get something useful done. Well, this is the season for hopes and prayers…

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.

No Friends of the Earth

September 18, 2009

I’m a true believer in saving the planet, active since the first Earth Day nearly 40 years ago, and participating in a beach clean up on September 19 as part of Clean Up the World Day. But overall, I’m absolutely sick about how little has been achieved in all these decades. The surge of attention to climate change is the best hope in my lifetime for meaningful progress to save the planet. But the UN and its green group allies will fail to seize this opportunity unless they dramatically change their approach, and do it fast.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called a summit of world leaders for September 22 to energize stalled negotiations for a new global climate change treaty to be signed in Copenhagen in December. But the UN’s new treaty incorporates and deepens the flaws of its predecessor, the Kyoto Protocol. Kyoto placed restrictions on just 40 industrialized countries while letting the rest of world, including number one greenhouse gas emitter China, continue to spew at will. Those flaws led the US to shun Kyoto, leaving more than 70 percent global emission beyond the scope of Kyoto. Predictably, Kyoto has failed to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

For Kyoto’s successor, the stakes are even higher. Developing countries represent half of current emissions and up to three-fourths of projected emissions growth in the next decade, the crucial time to prevent a more than two degrees Celsius that scientists say would radically alter life as we know it. After Kyoto’s failure, you’d expect to lean on developing countries for cuts and reach out to the US, recognizing its potential to provide missing leadership and technological innovation. Instead, the UN embraced nearly 1,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), most of which demonize the US and champion “climate justice,” the right of developing countries to destroy as much of the environment as industrialized countries did. So Kyoto’s developing country exemption remains, along with a new demand that the US and its industrialized allies pay an estimated US$140 billion a year to developing countries; the UN and NGOs stand ready to serve as siphons – I mean vehicles – for that funding.

Little wonder industrialized nations haven’t warmed to the talks, even though the Obama administration wants to address climate change constructively. The UN and its NGO allies are letting their politics get in the way of finding solutions. For both, failure on this issue would extend a decades-long legacy of futility. Given their record of failure, most green groups should disband if they truly want to help Mother Earth.

Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, financial crisis, and cheap lingerie.


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