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**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-02 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Mr. Obama's Urgent Arctic Message      By THE EDITORIAL BOARD            A presidential trip has enormous power to focus attention on a place and an issue, and President Obama's trip to Alaska has been minutely choreographed with visits to glaciers, threatened Inuit villages and the like to provide a stunning and alarming context to his message on the urgent need to address  climate  change.    Four times in a 24-minute speech in Anchorage he declared that "we're not acting fast enough," a message especially true in the countdown to December's United Nations  climate  conference in Paris. This will be the most ambitious effort by the world's nations to produce an equitable deal on reducing greenhouse gases, and the United States, as the world's second-largest emitter of carbon gases (after China), must be at the forefront of the effort.    Alaska is the president's last stop on a late-summer  climate  change tour designed to enhance his record on the issue as well as America's leadership position and its leverage at the Paris talks. At a conference in Las Vegas, he threw his weight behind the solar energy industry and unveiled initiatives aimed at increasing energy efficiency. In New Orleans, on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, he spoke of the need to make coastal cities more resilient as they face the rising seas and stronger storms that a warming planet is likely to bring.    Mr. Obama's theatrical visit to Arctic Alaska, the first by a sitting American president, reinforced these themes. In no state are the effects of  climate  change more visible. Yet the trip also had the effect of highlighting other forces that to one degree or another complicate the environmental agenda he would like to be his central focus.    One is the fundamental conflict between the need to reduce greenhouse gases and the imperatives of economic development. If Alaska is unusually vulnerable to  climate  change -- the Arctic is warming faster than any other part of the globe -- it is also among the most economically dependent on natural resources, notably oil. The precipitous drop in oil prices has severely affected Alaskans, many of whom are opposed to any cutback in drilling.    This conflict has been thrust to the forefront of Mr. Obama's visit by the administration's approval last month of Shell Oil's plans to explore for oil in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast. Shell's permit to drill could not be easily denied, given that the company acquired the lease for more than $2 billion in 2008. The administration has also imposed extensive safeguards against oil spills. But the decision was roundly criticized by environmental groups and could not help but cast a shadow on Mr. Obama's message.    Then there are the major economic and security issues raised by the retreat of Arctic sea ice and the opportunities this has created for mineral exploration, shipping and fishing. Russia, which controls by far the longest stretch of Arctic coast, has actively expanded its military presence in the far north, while American forces in Alaska have been drawn down. On this trip, Mr. Obama is calling for more icebreakers for Arctic service to add to the two the Coast Guard now has. Russia already has about 40 icebreakers, with 11 more in the works.    Mr. Obama is right to focus his powerful presidential spotlight on  climate  change, an enormous threat to the planet and one requiring an urgent and ambitious response. Given the foolish skepticism about  climate  change among many leading politicians and parts of the American public, and the resistance among Republicans to Mr. Obama's bold efforts to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, it is important for the president to drive home the reality of what is happening to our planet. But it is also good that this voyage is drawing attention to the other challenges of the thawing Arctic, including the fact that the same greenhouse gases that are raising temperatures are also opening access to vast deposits of fossil fuels.    These issues cannot be compartmentalized. Combating carbon emissions is the priority, but it is also imperative that the United States and other Arctic nations reach negotiated agreements on how to handle the challenge of the melting ice before it turns into a new Cold War.    Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-20 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Where She Came From      By PENELOPE LIVELY            COMMON PEOPLE    In Pursuit of My Ancestors    By Alison Light    Illustrated. 322 pp. The University of Chicago Press. $27.50.    This is a richly peopled book. Alison Light prefaces it with nine family trees, and these include some 200 names -- the host of Georges and Arthurs and Walters and Alberts, as well as the Mary Anns and the Sarahs and the Elizas that we shall find traced and placed, saved from anonymity, identified, set in the context of their times.    For "Common People" is a great deal more than a family history. Light is a literary historian, and her talent here has been to use her skills not just to pursue individuals through the thickets of record offices and county archives (and today, of course, the Internet) but to set them within their historical era. Why was Maria Hill in Cheltenham in the 1830s, doing what she did? There is a sense in which this is also an economic history of England, from the 18th century to the early 20th.    The term "common" has a certain ambivalence, and Light seeks almost to exploit this, explaining how she wanted to rescue her working-class ancestors from sheer oblivion. She didn't want, as she puts it, to "heroize the working people I wrote about," nor did she want to ignore the derogatory implications of the word "common" as she used to hear it in her youth: "It's common to eat in the street"; "Pierced ears are common." "The common people" suggests the populace, hoi polloi. This complexity in the use of a word says much about the ingrained English class system, about English attitudes toward class.    But the achievement of "Common People" is its triumphant demonstration of the interplay between individual lives and the somber backcloth of economic circumstance. People and what they do -- what they have had to do -- illuminate the gray narrative of history. Light's ancestors have been "farmworkers and lace-makers, carters and caulkers; .â  _.â  _. saddlers and stay-makers; .â  _.â  _. bricklayers and builders; .â  _.â  _. shopkeepers and milk boys; paraffin sellers, barmaids, watermen, lifters and loaders and porters, and people who made everything from shirts to churches, and the roads they walked away on."    Within this litany lies the substance of a book that is not just about people -- those 200 people of the family trees -- but that delves into their circumstances, in all their rich variety. Read "Common People" and you will emerge knowing something about needle-making in the 19th century, about bricklaying, about the history and significance of the Baptist movement, about the cod fishing industry, the Victorian workhouse, Portsmouth's naval dockyards, the press gangs, cholera. .â  _.â  _. You will discover something of the variety and intricacy of laboring life in the past, of the laws of supply and demand that determined how people had to live and work.    I used to think that British people in the past were pretty rooted, that they stayed put for generations. Light overturns this belief ("What I found was movement") as she demonstrates how so many of her forebears flitted from one place to another around southern England, following work opportunities more often than not. That said, a large tranche of her family did settle for several generations in Portsmouth, the south coast naval base and dockyard, dependent on work as dockers and seamen, and generally servicing the navy and its attendant industries. Here the economic  climate  was determined by political factors. War was always good news for Portsmouth, and after the Napoleonic wars ended, employment and prosperity slumped. The city's slums became sites of extreme poverty, vividly described here, along with the grueling circumstances of the workhouse.    Light follows, in particular, the life of her great-grandmother Sarah Hill, who was born and spent the early years of her childhood in the workhouse; she died in an asylum, supported, in a sense, by the state, but within a system of minimal care or concern. It is at points of intimate contact like this that a life and a fate leap from the page, demonstrating the opposing forces of choice and contingency. Occasionally people could choose a direction; more often, the stern directives of the economic  climate  chose for them.    When I first visited the United States, I remember being impressed by how many of my American friends knew who their forebears were, sometimes back through several generations. I did not -- grandparents, yes, but that was about as far as I got. The difference, of course, was that theirs was a land of immigration; if you are American, you want to know if your forebears came from Greece or Lithuania or Russia or Germany or wherever. If you know all too well that your roots are dug deep into the more static past of the British Isles, then you may be less curious. Though, as Light points out, genealogy is now something of a craze in Britain, partly because of the resources available on the Internet and partly on account of the BBC TV program "Who Do You Think You Are?," in which prominent people are confronted with an ancestry that may include a disconcerting slave owner or a convict.    Family history can be dry, not much more than a shower of names that mean a lot to the author and not much to anyone else. There's an undeniable blizzard of names in this book, too many to keep tabs on -- but that doesn't matter. The effect of "Common People" is to make you aware of the hidden network of anyone's ancestry. In illuminating her own, Light serves up the most powerful family history I have ever read.              Figure(s) :      PHOTO: Alison Light's grandmother Evelyn. (PHOTOGRAPH FROM "COMMON PEOPLE")          Note(s) :  Penelope Lively's latest book is a memoir, "Dancing Fish and Ammonites."           

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-20 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
When in Rome      By RACHEL DONADIO            In the two short years since his election, Pope Francis has managed an unusual feat: He has become as beloved by the international news media and the secular intelligentsia as by his own flock of 1.2 billion. I got a taste of what has been called "the Francis effect" when, on a sweltering July day, I watched dozens of mayors from around the world gather at the Vatican for a two-day conference on  climate  change.    Just weeks before, Francis' encyclical on the environment, "Laudato Si," had landed with an impact rarely seen from a 40,000-­word papal document. The New York Times and other news outlets covered the encyclical as a developing story, posting continual updates online as reactions poured in from environmentalists, from industrialists and from the faithful around the world. The conference had been hastily organized by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences and Jeffrey Sachs, the prominent economist and director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. Such a collaboration would have been rare in the past but represents the kind of bridge Francis is building between the church and the wider world.    The conference was being held in a small amphitheater upstairs from the 1970s-era Paul VI audience hall, just to the left of St. Peter's Basilica. There was more security than usual -- two sets of metal detectors -- most likely because of the visiting politicians. (The Vatican tries not to put barriers between the faithful and the pope.) Inside the auditorium, a few dozen journalists had gathered: veteran reporters and photographers for wire services, some of whom had spent decades covering the Vatican. I chatted with an Argentine journalist for a Latin American news wire. His star had risen with the new Argentine pope, who has drawn many new arrivals from Latin America into the Vatican press corps. This influx has made getting a coveted seat on the papal plane even more difficult. Competition was especially fierce for the pope's imminent trip to Cuba and the United States, not least because of his role in facilitating a private meeting at the Vatican last year between American and Cuban officials, which helped finalize the detente between the two countries. For the first time, some regular Italian outlets didn't get spots. Francis would not be addressing the press that day -- popes never give news conferences and don't take questions in public; the only time they speak directly to the press corps is on the papal plane. Reporters were there mainly to document the politicians eager to be in his orbit.    Francis finally appeared at the end of the day, with little fanfare and without an entourage. As people applauded and began filming him with their phones, the pope took his seat. He wore a simple cross over his white robe. He seemed a bit fatigued -- temperatures were nearly 100 degrees -- but he spoke off the cuff in Spanish for a long while. He warned of "the idolatry of technocracy," which he said leads to unemployment. He spoke of the exploitation of children, of migration and the risks of deforestation, especially in the Amazon, which he called one of the "great lungs" of the world. He told the mayors he was very glad they had traveled to the Vatican to discuss environmental issues, because change has to start from the grass roots. "The most serious and profound work," he concluded, "starts at the peripheries and moves toward the center."    I hadn't been back to the Vatican in two years, and it was immediately clear how much had changed. When I covered the Vatican as the Rome bureau chief for The New York Times, from 2008 to 2013, conferences and encyclicals were generally not seen as developing stories. My tenure began three years into the troubled papacy of Benedict XVI, a conservative German theologian ill at ease with his public persona, whose most transformative act may have been his surprise resignation. He spoke often about "logos," which can mean "reason," and how to reconcile it with faith, and he seemed most preoccupied by encroaching secularism, not pressing global issues like  climate  change. Benedict, with his careful shuffle of a walk, his tremulous voice, his insistence on intellectual rigor in Catholic practice, seemed to suggest that the church might just have lost the culture wars. Francis, whose folksy joviality deflects attention from his sharp political instincts, presents the church as fully engaged in a battle that there may still be a chance of winning -- for souls, yes, but also for the planet.    In 2008, on my way to the Vatican press office for my first meeting, I stopped in St. Peter's Square. Part of the square is an ellipse designed by Bernini, the master of the Italian Baroque. From most points, the colonnade's four rows of thick columns are visible, but at a precise spot on either side, they align and fuse into one. In the years to come, I would think often of that spot as key to so much about the Vatican, this ancient institution built of solid stone and optical illusion, where perspective is all. You cannot understand the Vatican without understanding the Baroque -- a movement that relied not only on complexity for complexity's sake but also on trompe l'oeil and perspectival techniques to represent multiple angles of vision simultaneously. And you cannot understand, or govern, Italy without understanding the Vatican, whose most abiding lesson is: Time is power.    How else to make sense of the endless and elaborate delays, the delicate art of manipulating the interlocking gears of the machine, the tug of war between Rome and the local dioceses -- all of which produces a perpetual displacement of responsibility that often erodes the line between willful obfuscation and benign incompetence. What providence wills, only bureaucracy can achieve. He who slows down time preserves power. I once asked Giulio Andreotti, the seven-­time Christian Democratic prime minister of Italy, the enigmatic force at the center of so many webs who never so much as flinched during the years of trials for associating with the Mafia -- in which he was, naturally, acquitted -- why Italy was so bureaucratic. "It's a certain guarantee," Andreotti answered, sitting in his Senate office and speaking in his clipped monotone, his shoulders slightly hunched. "Yes, it's a weight, maybe something flat and opaque, but it's also a guarantee to go one step at a time, not to take big curves. If you take big curves fast, that can be very risky."    At the Vatican, the Apostolic Palace is the seat of power. Francis keeps his office here, but he has chosen not to live in the papal apartment. Instead, he sleeps in a more humble residence inside the Vatican, the Casa Santa Marta, where he takes his meals in a communal cafeteria. (This, conspiratorial Italians will tell you, is out of fear of being poisoned by his enemies inside the Vatican.) He insists on riding in a Ford Focus, not the usual Mercedes, much to the dismay of some Vatican officials who have grown accustomed to luxury. He disarms Vatican officials by phoning them directly. Time is power, but unpredictability is power, too.    Francis may rewrite the role of pope, may even change the world, but he may not be able to change the Vatican, where for centuries the Roman curia, career Vatican bureaucrats, have bedeviled efforts at reform. To reach the Apostolic Palace, which dates from the 16th century, you enter through St. Anne's Gate. Past the Vatican bank and beyond a fleet of Vatican City State fire trucks, a Swiss Guard points you to a wood-­paneled elevator. The brass plate marking the floors reads "I Loggia," "II Loggia," "III Loggia." The Secretariat of State, the Holy See's foreign ministry and Home Office, occupies the third loggia. Here, a seemingly endless hallway with a wall of windows and soaring, coffered ceilings begins with a wall-size map of the globe. It is one of a series of frescoes depicting maps of the known world, painted between 1560 and 1585. There are Greece and Turkey. The Holy Land and Italy are rendered in gold. It was from here, the center of the center, that the Catholic Church brought the periphery under its sway. I have been in this hallway only once -- the only time an official ever invited me inside -- and it is one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen.    At the Vatican, the aesthetics are generally more rewarding than the access. At best, you might succeed in talking to someone who can tell you he has seen the shadows on the cave wall. In Italy, Vatican coverage relies on the phrase "si dice che," "it is said that," or "voci di corridoio," "rumors in the hallways," as if news were not so much reported as mysteriously revealed. You have many meetings in anterooms. An usher -- the job is a sinecure often passed from father to son -- shows you the way. You wait. Sometimes there is a copy of the Jesuit magazine Civiltà Cattolica on the table. Your interlocutor arrives. He -- and it is always a he -- is cordial. He speaks full and often eloquent sentences in response to your questions but rarely answers them.    At least since the invention of the stained-­glass window, the Vatican has embraced new technologies to help the pope communicate with the faithful. In 1931, Pope Pius XI was the first pope to make a radio broadcast. In 1954, Pope Pius XII was the first to appear on television. In 2012, under Benedict, the Vatican opened the first papal Twitter feeds, which have grown to more than 23 million followers in nine languages under Francis and are managed by the Secretariat of State. But the Vatican press office is designed mainly to get the pope's words out, not to let the press in. The press office holds frequent news conferences with Vatican officials -- never the pope -- and issues nearly daily bulletins announcing the pope's meetings with church and secular officials and nominations or retirements of church officials around the world. Few institutions yield so many stories that can be reported without leaving your desk. The trick is understanding the stakes. A news bulletin arrives via email. Is it a tiny blip or something of vast importance? Benedict announces that he will make it easier for disaffected Anglicans to find a home in the Catholic Church. Is this a small thing or the largest setback in Catholic-­Anglican relations since the Protestant Reformation? The Vatican insists on one interpretation. The Anglicans on another. It is always a question of perspective.    The Vatican may be hierarchical, but it is also decentralized. If you wish to speak to a particular official, you bypass the press office and contact him directly. It helps if someone can vouch for you. A Catholic journalist from a small outlet in a Vatican official's home country will almost certainly encounter more open doors than a reporter from an international news operation. Being part of the fold is seen as an asset, not a conflict of interest. That is why the best-­sourced Vatican reporters are all practicing Catholics -- and mostly men -- and why, with a few notable exceptions, all are Italian. That is also why these best-­sourced Italian reporters did not predict that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires would be chosen as pope. It was outside their field of vision. It was outside almost everyone's field of vision. The expectation was that a Jesuit who must promise not to seek higher office in the church would not prevail. But once the voting began, "it was said that" the Latin American cardinals rallied around Francis. We may never know for sure. All takes place behind closed doors, when the cardinals are locked -- "con clave," "with a key" -- inside the Sistine Chapel. During the conclave, the Vatican press office tried to make the process less opaque. It showed a video of a ghostly hand opening and closing the lids of the urns in which the cardinals place their secret ballots.    Of all aspects of Vatican coverage, the papal trips were my favorite. The Vatican organizes them down to the minute. The atmosphere is somewhere between a presidential campaign and a medieval pilgrimage. There are Masses and pageants; meetings with heads of state; visits to Marian shrines like the one in Fátima, Portugal, where I once saw tiny old women throwing wax models of ailing body parts into special ovens, offering prayers for healing. About 75 journalists -- representing print, radio and television -- travel on the papal plane. The dress code is suits and ties for men, even in tropical heat, and applies especially to photographers, who get closest to the pope. (Women often get away with a more casual look.) A security detail travels with Francis, but in audiences in St. Peter's Square he likes to forgo the popemobile, with its bulletproof glass, and wander without warning into the crowd.    John Paul II walked the aisle of the papal plane and chatted with reporters. Francis does that, too, taking questions. On the way back from Brazil, his first foreign trip as pope, Francis was asked about rumors of a "gay lobby" at the Vatican. He said he wasn't aware of such a lobby and then added, speaking of gays, "Who am I to judge?" Those five words shook the Catholic world. Benedict, by contrast, after a blowup over his remarks that condoms could worsen the AIDS epidemic in Africa, would respond to questions only if they were submitted in advance, and then he read scripted answers.    The lingua franca on the papal plane is always Italian, although sometimes a pope will answer a question in a language spoken in a destination country. There is no simultaneous translation. Under Francis, the press office tries to issue translated transcripts quickly, but it is always one step behind the news cycle. Handouts with the pope's greetings to the leaders of every country whose airspace the papal plane has traversed are distributed to the press. The pope flies first class; the journalists sit in economy. Until a few years ago, papal trips were run by a Belgian with a fierce temper who would shout at journalists to form a single-­file line, as if we were unruly schoolchildren. The day's embargoed speeches were distributed as early as 4:45 a.m., with Mass at 5 o'clock for those who wished to attend.    Reporters tend to flock together by language -- chiefly Italian, Spanish, English and French. No one ever has the same idea of what the story is. On a papal trip to Britain, centered on the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, the 19th-­century Anglican convert, I was trying to write an article explaining how Newman's intellectualism resonated with Benedict. Nearby, a colleague from a British tabloid was hashing out his story. "What would you say was in that omelet that we ate on the plane?" he asked me. "Herbs?" En route to France with Benedict in 2008, the journalists for Catholic news outlets were intrigued that his first speeches seemed to support a return to the traditional Tridentine rite that had been pushed aside with the Second Vatican Council. Those of us from secular news organizations were framing the story around the pope's inveighing, once again, against a world without spiritual values. And then there was the reporter for a German tabloid, peering out the window onto the tarmac, where Carla Bruni was greeting Benedict with Nicolas Sarkozy, then the president of France. He shouted into the phone to his editors: "She's wearing flats!"    Over the years, I met often with the Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, a Jesuit priest who runs the press office and Vatican Radio. He seemed to dislike spinning, a quality that endeared him to me. When delivering bad news, he coughed nervously. He wouldn't always answer a yes-­or-­no question -- he preferred the formulation that something was "a cammino," "a path," and I often wondered where, precisely, we might be on the journey and what we might see at the end of it. In 2010, in the middle of the clergy sexual-­abuse crisis, I sent Lombardi a question about how the Vatican had handled the case of an abusive priest in Chile. Lombardi responded that appropriate measures had been taken at the appropriate time. I sent a follow-­up question, the gist of which was "Who knew what when?" His answer came back: "Respondit eis Pilatus: 'Quod scripsi, scripsi.' " "Pilate said to him: 'What I have written, I have written.' " (The Gospel of John: 19:22.)    In July, I stopped by to see Lombardi for the first time in a few years. He greeted me warmly with the informal "tu," while I, as was our habit, used the formal "Lei." I sat on a worn leather sofa and he on a swivel chair. He was in good spirits. Francis' trip to Latin America in June had gone very well. The encyclical on the environment, he said, had already become a best seller in some countries. Excitement was building for the pope's trip to the United States and Cuba. I asked him if it was challenging to keep up with Francis, who improvises constantly. He rolled his eyes. "Don't even tell me about it," he said. There was no nervous cough.    Under Benedict, Lombardi was forever trying to prevent the fallout from a crisis. Under Francis, his repeated message seems to be that the pope, in spite of his focus on those on the margins of society, is not, in fact, a Marxist. He mentioned the pope's speech in Bolivia, in which Francis spoke of the periphery as a catalyst of creativity and moral engagement. The speech "could be read as leftist revolutionary, because it largely makes an appeal to the poor," Lombardi said. "But there was not a single word about class warfare. There's not a single word about violence. It's all about common good and love and responsibility."    It falls on Lombardi to make clear that both popes speak for the same church. And it falls on the press to describe what we see. Four rows of columns or one? As always, it's a question of perspective.    Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of The New York Times Magazine delivered to your inbox every week.              Figure(s) :      DRAWINGS (DRAWINGS BY PETER OUMANSKI) (MM60-MM61; MM62; MM63)          Note(s) :  Rachel Donadio is the European culture correspondent for The New York Times and is based in Paris. She was The Times's Rome bureau chief from 2008 to 2013.           

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-20 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Why the Oxford Companion to Wine is so ‘awesomesauce’              The annual publication of the  Oxford English Dictionary  never fails to remind me of my weakening grip on the zeitgeist. The more the years go by, the lower the proportion of new words I’ve heard of, let alone used. In this year’s just-published edition, cakeage (the fee you pay for bringing a cake to a restaurant), fur baby (for a furry pet) and awesomesauce (just really great) had hitherto escaped me. Clearly I need to get out (or online) more.    It may follow a more sedate publishing rhythm, but another of Oxford’s weighty, definitive tomes,  The Oxford Companion to Wine  , offers wine lovers a similar opportunity to see how well they’re keeping pace with the times. First published back in 1991, editor Jancis Robinson’s masterpiece of vinous scholarship has just reached its fourth edition, almost a decade since the third edition appeared in 2006.    Robinson and her co-editor, fellow Master of Wine Julia Harding, assembled a team of more than 187 academics and specialist wine writers to put together the 4,000 entries, which are arranged A to Z over 850-plus tightly packed pages.    Inevitably, it’s the 300 new entries to which the eye is first drawn. Many of these are obscure even for someone like me. I drew a blank on longyan (a red Chinese grape) and tsimlyansky cherny (which apparently makes “tannic, characterful reds” in Rostov, Russia) and was only dimly aware that wine was produced in Nova Scotia, Norway and Tahiti.    For the most part, however, they offer a snapshot of the more significant changes in wine in the past nine years – the regions that have developed sufficiently to deserve separate entries, the production techniques that have gone from fad to mainstream, the notable personalities that have earned a place in the canon.    China, now the fifth largest wine producer in the world, has an expanded section of its own as well as separate new entries on the longyan and cabernet gernischt grape varieties and its oldest and largest wine producer, Changyu. And the fashion for regionality (defined, in the Companion, as “a New World term for the concept … that the location of a vineyard plays an important part in shaping the character of a wine”) is fully represented. Elim, Franschoek and Swartland (South Africa), and Bío-Bío, Elqui and San Antonio (Chile) were barely known a decade ago. Now each of them is producing distinctive, world-class wines.    In its scholarly, studiedly impartial, occasionally sardonic way, the  Companion  also has much to say about the most pressing ideological divide in the wine world, the battle between the technological producers operating on a vast global scale, and the organic, biodynamic and natural refusenik small producers. Both are represented: the latter in brilliantly succinct summations of natural wine (a term only its infancy in 2006) and orange wine (ditto; according to the Companion it was coined by wine merchant David Harvey in 2004), the former in entries for big brand behemoths Accolade Wines and Casella Family Wines.    But it is perhaps in the sheer abundance and global spread of information that the  Companion  comes closest to reflecting the vinous planet of 2015. From the rise of international collectors and counterfeiting rackets to the use of concrete eggs for fermentation; from the suddenly ubiquitous tasting term minerality to the current state of play in the cellars of Zimbabwe, “the wine world”, as Robinson rightly says, “has never been more extensive, nor as fast changing”. That Robinson and her team have been able to impose some sort of order on this fermenting flux is, to borrow from the  OED  , some sort of awesomesauce.    The Oxford Companion to Wine (OUP, £40). Click here to buy a copy from Guardian Bookshop for £32.  New entries: six OCW wines    Trizanne Signature Sauvignon Blanc  Elim, South Africa 2014 (£9.99, Waitrose )    At the very tip of the Cape, Elim is one of South Africa’s emerging new regions, with the  climate  and soils suited to vivid aromatic whites and lighter reds. Trizanne shows off the capabilities to exhilarating effect with this verdant and racy sauvignon, a happy medium between Loire restraint and Kiwi pungency.    Star buy: Viñedos Lo Abarca Riesling  San Antonio Valley, Chile 2013 (£10, Marks  &  Spencer)    One of a number of Chile’s increasingly well-defined wine regions to get an entry in the Companion, San Antonio, aka Leyda, on the Pacific coast, now produces some of the country’s most impressive cool-  climate  wines, such as this expressive, laser-guided, lime and peach-scented riesling.    Château Hansen Cabernet Gernischt  Inner Mongolia, China 2012 (£10.95, vintageroots.co.uk )    Chinese wine’s rapid emergence is one of the biggest stories in wine in the past decade. We still don’t get to see much of it in the UK, but this rare exception, made from cabernet gernischt (aka carménère) has a leafy, curranty charm that makes it more than a mere curiosity.    Grace Winery Koshu Kayagatake  Yamanashi, Japan 2013 (from £16.56, strictlywine.co.uk ; corkingwines.co.uk )    While China is still finding its stylistic feet, the much smaller Japanese industry already has a quite developed aesthetic based on its indigenous koshu variety, included in the Companion for the first time. It makes for subtle, delicate whites such as this, with its gentle pulse of citrus, white flowers and minerals.    McHenry Hohnen 3 Amigos Grenache Shiraz Mourvèdre  Margaret River, Western Australia 2010 (£19.95, bbr.com )    The Rhône-inspired red blend of grenache, shiraz and mourvèdre has become so popular in Australia and elsewhere that the initials GSM now get their own entry in the Companion. McHenry Hohnen’s take is a gutsy but silky and expressive mix of red berry and spice.    Laithwaites Theale Vineyard Chardonnay  England 2010 (£24.99, Laithwaites )    The internet has revolutionised wine sales, but the pioneer of distance-selling, Laithwaites, remains the UK’s biggest wine business. It has also had a hand in shaping another important trend, English sparkling wine, with the latest vintage from its own vineyard a graceful, biscuity treat.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-11 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Tories reject Navitus Bay offshore windfarm              The government has turned down an application to build a £3.5bn windfarm off the south coast of England in another major blow to the green energy industry under the Conservatives.    The decision on the Navitus Bay project off Dorset was unveiled by Lord Bourne, the energy minister, even as 13 leading financial investors urged the chancellor to adopt a more positive stance on renewables.    Bourne ruled against the 121 turbines, each 200 metres high, being erected, arguing they would undermine the local tourism industry, which benefits from the nearby Jurassic Coast, a Unesco world heritage site.    Related: The nine green policies killed off by the Tory government    “Careful consideration has been given to the application, and the planning and energy issues involved,” said a Department of Energy and  Climate  Change (Decc) spokesperson.    Bournemouth tourism management board (BTMB) said it was delighted with the decision. “We warmly welcome the government’s decision to reject Navitus Bay, which would have damaged one of the UK’s most environmentally sensitive landscapes and hit local tourism business hard,” said Des Simmons, the BTMB chairman.    But Maria McCaffery, chief executive of the wind industry lobby RenewableUK described it as a missed opportunity. She said: “It’s deeply disappointing that Navitus Bay has been refused consent. This is a missed opportunity as it means we’re failing to capitalise on the UK’s superb offshore wind resource and the economic benefits it brings.”    Doug Parr the chief scientist at Greenpeace said the decision made no sense given the government’s attempts to push through shale gas fracking in other environmentally sensitive areas.    “While David Cameron talks about his big plans to combat  climate  change in the run up to the  climate  negotiations in Paris, there is a complete vacuum of any real action or plan. In fact, this decision and the decisions to cut solar and onshore wind subsidies run in completely the wrong direction.”    The red light was not unexpected and comes after furious lobbying against Navitus by Tory MPs in Dorset, local authorities and the National Trust. It will further alarm renewable energy industrialists and campaigners, given a recent government halt to subsidies for any more onshore windfarms, plus some aid to solar power and energy efficiency schemes.    It is a significant setback for the windfarm developer, EDF, which is separately struggling to tie up a final agreement with Chinese backers that would enable it to proceed with the building of the £24.5bn Hinkley Point C nuclear plant.    Meanwhile, investors including Legal  &  General, the Trillion Fund and the Church Commissioners have sent a letter to George Osborne, urging him to keep up the pace of decarbonising the economy.    It is not the first time that plans for an offshore windfarm have been declined but it is very rare.    The only other example was when the then energy secretary Ed Davey shut the door on the Docking Shoal scheme off Norfolk. That decision was blamed on the number of Sandwich tern seabirds that could have been caught in the spinning blades and killed.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-04 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
George Osborne accused of 'disastrous' assault on green agenda              Ed Davey, the former energy and  climate  change secretary, has accused George Osborne of putting tens of billions of pounds’ worth of private sector investment at risk with an assault on the green agenda he pioneered.    The Liberal Democrat said the chancellor was pursuing “bonkers economics” and an ill-advised and ideologically driven campaign against renewable energy that risked leaving the UK hopelessly dependent in the longer term on fossil fuels such as gas.    Phasing out aid for zero-carbon homes, onshore windfarms and solar arrays are among a raft of measures introduced by the Tories which represented “disastrous” economics, said Davey in his first interview since losing his seat in parliament.    Canals and railways would not have been built if people had taken this kind of unimaginative, inward approach    Ed Davey    “What is frightening is that, despite all that success in low-carbon energy infrastructure, [Osborne] is prepared to send those disastrous signals. It was bad enough in the coalition when they were sending mixed signals but now there is no mixed about it.    “It is ‘we don’t want it’ and [renewable energy investors] will go elsewhere and we will lose out on tens of billions of pounds of private sector investment.    “Canals and railways would not have been built if people had taken this kind of short-term, unimaginative, inward approach. [Osborne] is the opposite of an entrepreneur when it comes to green energy.”    Davey, who lost his parliamentary seat at the last election, revealed that he had been engaged in an almost permanent struggle against leading Tories when he was energy secretary.    “We battled every day. There were some Conservatives who were supportive like Greg Barker and Charles Hendry but they were a minority and the push was against the green agenda.    “Onshore wind was the one everyone knew about where we were having daily battles sometimes with Eric Pickles and the Treasury, but it was not just onshore wind – it was everything.    “I had to fight like a tiger to stop him [Osborne] slashing the budget on fuel poverty and on renewable energy. We succeeded although he still took a chunk out of the ECO [Energy Company Obligation] energy efficiency programme. It was much less than he originally wanted and that fight went on for two months. It was huge.”    Davey, who was tipped as a potential future Lib Dem leader until his election defeat in May, said the Treasury was endlessly trying to underplay the major advances achieved in the energy field because the department was being run by a Lib Dem who was convinced that energy security and  climate  change were vital issues.    “It’s frustrating because we [the UK] were doing so well and also alarming for the economy. It was an inconvenient truth for George Osborne that the green economy was doing extraordinarily well and the investment in energy infrastructure – primarily low-carbon energy infrastructure – that happened under the coalition government and is in the pipeline to continue was the infrastructure success story of the government.    “Not transport that he used to go on about, not telecoms, not water – it was energy.”    A Treasury spokesman said: “The government is committed to cutting carbon emissions while also controlling energy bills and saving consumers money. That’s why we’ve taken urgent action on spending to protect households and businesses from higher than expected costs.    “Government support has already driven down the cost of renewable energy significantly, but it is important that this support is affordable and offers good value for money.”    Amber Rudd, Davey’s successor as energy and  climate  change secretary, has previously insisted that the government takes global warming seriously and subsidies have only been cut where they are not needed any more.    Davey said he had to battle with some of the top bosses from the big six energy suppliers. A couple of them were happy to lobby the Conservatives against him, he said.    He denied, as the Labour party charged, that he was soft on the big six and said the proposals by Labour leadership contender, Jeremy Corbyn, for nationalising energy companies had no merit.    “Regulate yes, oblige and pressurise yes, but do we really believe that nationalising the whole industry would be the answer. Does anyone think the Central Electricity Generating Board was efficient?”    Canals and railways would not have been built if people had taken this kind of unimaginative, inward approach    Ed Davey    Davey is now in talks with various private sector and other employers about potential work and admits it was a major, and relatively unexpected, blow to lose his Kingston and Surbiton seat to the Conservatives. He said he had not lost his enthusiasm for politics and did not rule out standing for parliament again.    Davey said he missed “the privilege” of being able to exercise power as a minister but claims to be uninterested in any trappings of high office and was proud of his ministerial legacy.    He said his only regrets were that he carried on a “woefully inadequate” green deal energy efficiency programme that he received from his predecessors.    Davey said he had major fears about Osborne becoming prime minister. “I am not convinced he is a  climate  change sceptic but he is driven by [short-term] economics and I think if he became leader of the Conservative party he would want to scrap the  Climate  Change Act. Someone ought to ask him that question.”    Davey said the investment already agreed would take renewable energy on the right course until the end of the decade, but the picture would change after that.    With a new dependency on gas, and power prices likely to be low, the former energy secretary said the Conservatives could end up having to subside gas-fired power stations to keep them working.    But Davey’s main complaint is that the government is happy to build roads or rail with taxpayer money – but will attack subsidies for renewables.    “This is another thing I don’t get about Osborne’s economics. They are really bonkers. The vast majority of this investment is private sector. Compare that with roads or railways or flood defences where it’s always the taxpayer.    “Forget  climate  change, this is disastrous economics. This is not statesmanship. This is not a good chancellor; this is an ideological, ill-advised chancellor.”                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-11 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
UK backing bid by fossil fuel firms to kill new EU fracking controls, letters reveal              The UK government has added its weight to a behind-the-scenes lobbying drive by oil and gas firms including BP, Chevron, Shell and ExxonMobil to persuade EU leaders to scrap a series of environmental safety measures for fracking, according to leaked letters seen by the Guardian.    The deregulatory push against safety measures, which could include the monitoring of on-site methane leaks and capture of gases and volatile compounds that might otherwise be vented, appears to go against assurances from David Cameron that fracking would only be safe “if properly regulated”.    In a comment piece in 2013 the prime minister wrote: “We must make the case that fracking is safe... the regulatory system in this country is one of the most stringent in the world.”    But UK government sources say that new controls on the industry could constitute “an unnecessary restriction on the UK oil and gas industry” and they wanted to avoid “unnecessary red tape”.    An intense backroom battle is now brewing over the measure, which would mandate the use of best available technologies and risk management procedures (or ‘Brefs’) when fracking for shale gas, or other hydrocarbons.    In their letter to the commission’s second most powerful official, vice-president Frans Timmermans, the oil and gas moguls say that the proposal would be cumbersome, time-consuming and “of such little perceived value [that it] is very hard to justify, especially at a time of intense focus on safety, cost and efficiency of day-to-day operations.”    “We urge you to intervene and... withdraw this proposal which, if it were to go ahead, would seriously exacerbate an already ailing investment  climate  for producing oil and gas within Europe,” says the letter, which is dated 17 July, and signed by nine company presidents, directors and board members.    The industry chiefs from firms which also include ConocoPhillips, Statoil, Petrobas, Total, and HSE, promised to elaborate on their concerns in a private meeting with Timmermans.    “While the fracking industry and UK government reassure the public of their commitment to safety standards, behind the scenes they’re fighting tooth and nail to avoid any kind of oversight,” said Antoine Simon, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth Europe.    “Such a cavalier approach is shocking given this dirty industry’s destructive impacts on people and the planet. We need an outright fracking ban.”    EU officials contacted by the Guardian said that the EU would press ahead with the proposal regardless. A first meeting of national experts is planned on 13October, ahead of a final proposal in May 2018.    But any new proposal will now be closely monitored by Timmermans, who has been the driving force behind the Juncker commission’s ‘better regulation’ agenda for minimising environmental, health and social legislation. This was devised with one eye on placatingeurosceptic setiment in the UK.    A spokesperson for the Department of Energy and  Climate  Change said: “We support the Better Regulation agenda, but would work with the European commission to avoid any unnecessary red tape that could come in from further regulations. The regulatory regime for oil and gas in the UK is recognised as one of the best in the world.”    Technically, the new measure does not constitute a ‘regulation’. A bid to introduce legally-binding EU-wide restraints on shale gas production was defeated last year, after intense lobbying by David Cameron.    But in a separate lobby missive in April, the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers [IOGP], whose members produce over half of the EU’s oil and gas, argued that the Bref would be a backdoor statute, in all but name.    “IOGP is growing increasingly concerned at the apparent proliferation of Bref initiatives as an alternative way of regulating industry,” the group’s director, Roland Festor wrote in a letter to EU diplomats, obtained by the Guardian.    Other Brefs covering issues such as air pollution limits for power plants have been staunchly resisted by the UK and major power utilities, because of the potential court actions and fines that could be brought under the EU’s industrial emissions directive.    The proposed fracking Bref lacks the legal basis of a directive but “it could nevertheless be binding because of the references to ‘best practices’ that can be found in operating licenses in [EU] member states,” Fester said.    “The hydrocarbons Bref would represent unnecessary over-regulation, would lead to significant regulatory uncertainty over a sustained period and would lead to a new and prescriptive way of regulating the European oil and gas industry,” he added. “We are therefore calling for the hydrocarbon Bref to be stopped.”    Environmentalists though claimed the letter as evidence of hypocrisy, as the industry group’s public statements had previously lauded the role that “good industry practices” and “proven and reliable technologies” could play in minimising environmental risks.    • This article was changed on 11th September to clarify the UK Department of Energy and  Climate  Change’s position. It is working with the European Commission to avoid “unnecessary red tape” but it would not necessarily oppose all new controls on fracking.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-03 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
George Osborne accused of 'disastrous' assault on green agenda              Ed Davey, the former energy and  climate  change secretary, has accused George Osborne of putting tens of billions of pounds’ worth of private sector investment at risk with an assault on the green agenda he pioneered.    The Liberal Democrat said the chancellor was pursuing “bonkers economics” and an ill-advised and ideologically driven campaign against renewable energy that risked leaving the UK hopelessly dependent in the longer term on fossil fuels such as gas.    Phasing out aid for zero-carbon homes, onshore windfarms and solar arrays are among a raft of measures introduced by the Tories which represented “disastrous” economics, said Davey in his first interview since losing his seat in parliament.    Canals and railways would not have been built if people had taken this kind of unimaginative, inward approach    Ed Davey    “What is frightening is that, despite all that success in low-carbon energy infrastructure, [Osborne] is prepared to send those disastrous signals. It was bad enough in the coalition when they were sending mixed signals but now there is no mixed about it.    “It is ‘we don’t want it’ and [renewable energy investors] will go elsewhere and we will lose out on tens of billions of pounds of private sector investment.    “Canals and railways would not have been built if people had taken this kind of short-term, unimaginative, inward approach. [Osborne] is the opposite of an entrepreneur when it comes to green energy.”    Davey, who lost his parliamentary seat at the last election, revealed that he had been engaged in an almost permanent struggle against leading Tories when he was energy secretary.    “We battled every day. There were some Conservatives who were supportive like Greg Barker and Charles Hendry but they were a minority and the push was against the green agenda.    “Onshore wind was the one everyone knew about where we were having daily battles sometimes with Eric Pickles and the Treasury, but it was not just onshore wind – it was everything.    “I had to fight like a tiger to stop him [Osborne] slashing the budget on fuel poverty and on renewable energy. We succeeded although he still took a chunk out of the ECO [Energy Company Obligation] energy efficiency programme. It was much less than he originally wanted and that fight went on for two months. It was huge.”    Davey, who was tipped as a potential future Lib Dem leader until his election defeat in May, said the Treasury was endlessly trying to underplay the major advances achieved in the energy field because the department was being run by a Lib Dem who was convinced that energy security and  climate  change were vital issues.    “It’s frustrating because we [the UK] were doing so well and also alarming for the economy. It was an inconvenient truth for George Osborne that the green economy was doing extraordinarily well and the investment in energy infrastructure – primarily low-carbon energy infrastructure – that happened under the coalition government and is in the pipeline to continue was the infrastructure success story of the government.    “Not transport that he used to go on about, not telecoms, not water – it was energy.”    A Treasury spokesman said: “The government is committed to cutting carbon emissions while also controlling energy bills and saving consumers money. That’s why we’ve taken urgent action on spending to protect households and businesses from higher than expected costs.    “Government support has already driven down the cost of renewable energy significantly, but it is important that this support is affordable and offers good value for money.”    Amber Rudd, Davey’s successor as energy and  climate  change secretary, has previously insisted that the government takes global warming seriously and subsidies have only been cut where they are not needed any more.    Davey said he had to battle with some of the top bosses from the big six energy suppliers. A couple of them were happy to lobby the Conservatives against him, he said.    He denied, as the Labour party charged, that he was soft on the big six and said the proposals by Labour leadership contender, Jeremy Corbyn, for nationalising energy companies had no merit.    “Regulate yes, oblige and pressurise yes, but do we really believe that nationalising the whole industry would be the answer. Does anyone think the Central Electricity Generating Board was efficient?”    Canals and railways would not have been built if people had taken this kind of unimaginative, inward approach    Ed Davey    Davey is now in talks with various private sector and other employers about potential work and admits it was a major, and relatively unexpected, blow to lose his Kingston and Surbiton seat to the Conservatives. He said he had not lost his enthusiasm for politics and did not rule out standing for parliament again.    Davey said he missed “the privilege” of being able to exercise power as a minister but claims to be uninterested in any trappings of high office and was proud of his ministerial legacy.    He said his only regrets were that he carried on a “woefully inadequate” green deal energy efficiency programme that he received from his predecessors.    Davey said he had major fears about Osborne becoming prime minister. “I am not convinced he is a  climate  change sceptic but he is driven by [short-term] economics and I think if he became leader of the Conservative party he would want to scrap the  Climate  Change Act. Someone ought to ask him that question.”    Davey said the investment already agreed would take renewable energy on the right course until the end of the decade, but the picture would change after that.    With a new dependency on gas, and power prices likely to be low, the former energy secretary said the Conservatives could end up having to subside gas-fired power stations to keep them working.    But Davey’s main complaint is that the government is happy to build roads or rail with taxpayer money – but will attack subsidies for renewables.    “This is another thing I don’t get about Osborne’s economics. They are really bonkers. The vast majority of this investment is private sector. Compare that with roads or railways or flood defences where it’s always the taxpayer.    “Forget  climate  change, this is disastrous economics. This is not statesmanship. This is not a good chancellor; this is an ideological, ill-advised chancellor.”                 

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-09-17 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Attenborough behind 10-year drive to develop clean energy              Sir David Attenborough is backing a 10-year project to develop clean-energy technology.    The naturalist signed a joint letter urging countries to adopt the Global Apollo Programme before the UN  Climate  Change Conference in December.    The programme is designed to make renewable energy cheaper than fossil fuels through public investment in research and development to the tune of £9.7 billion a year.    Sir David said making clean energy cheaper than coal, gas or oil would "halt  climate  change".    Prof Brian Cox, the science broadcaster, Ed Davey, the former energy secretary, and Lord Turner, the former FSA chairman, are also among the signatories.    Sir David said: "All the electricity we now require is available from limitless sources like wind and solar. The sun delivers 5,000 times more energy to the earth's surface than humanity needs."                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-10 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Shell leaves  climate  project it helped set up amid Arctic drilling row              Shell has been forced to leave a Prince of Wales  climate  change project which it helped found after a row over the oil company’s controversial drilling programme in the Arctic.    The departure from the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leader Group is another embarrassing setback for the oil and gas company, which has been battling to preserve its reputation in the face of a vociferous and growing campaign against its operations in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska.    Greenpeace said the Anglo-Dutch group was rapidly becoming a pariah in the business world.    The exit was announced in a short note on theclimate change programme’s website, based at Cambridge University, which said: “As of September 2015 longstanding member Royal Dutch Shell is no longer a member.”    Sources said there had been a falling out with other companies unhappy about Shell exploring for more fossil fuels in the Arctic.    Many experts believe that some existing oil and gas reserves cannot be burned if CO 2levels are not to rise to dangerous levels. They feel further drilling is not needed, especially in such high cost areas.    A Shell spokesman declined to comment on why the company had left the group which includes Unilever, Tesco and others, saying it was a matter for the other members to explain. He said: “We can confirm that we are no longer a member of the Corporate Leaders’ Group, of which we were a founder member in 2005. Over that period, both Shell and the CLG have worked to support the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), which we believe should be the main driver of change in the EU energy system.”    The spokesman defended the company’s stance on Alaskan drilling which was recently given the go-ahead by Barack Obama but which has been opposed by Democratic leadership hopeful, Hillary Clinton, and many others.    “We believe we can play an important role in developing the world’s energy resources, including those in the Arctic,” he said. “We choose to explore there because we have the expertise and experience to operate responsibly and be profitable at the same time.”    But environmental group Greenpeace said Shell was gradually being shunned by others in the business world. “This is just the latest in a long line of partners that have walked away from Shell because of its hypocritical stance on  climate  and Arctic oil drilling,” said Charlie Kronick, Arctic campaigner at Greenpeace.    “While Shell likes to pretend it’s a  climate  leader, in reality it is a  climate  pariah … It’s no surprise that Shell’s friends and allies are dropping like flies.”                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-15 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Study Finds Snowpack in California's Sierra Nevada to Be Lowest in 500 Years      By NICHOLAS ST. FLEUR            The snow that blanketed the Sierra Nevada in California last winter, and that was supposed to serve as an essential source of fresh water for the drought-stricken state, was at its lowest levels in the last 500 years, according to a new study.    The paper, published on Monday in the journal Nature  Climate  Change, used tree-ring data from centuries-old blue oaks to provide historical context for the mountain range's diminished snowfall. As of April 1, the snowpack levels were just 5 percent of their 50-year historical average.    The paper is the first to create a model that describes temperature and precipitation levels on the Sierra Nevada that extend centuries before researchers started measuring snow levels each year.    "The 2015 snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is unprecedented," said Valerie Trouet, one of the authors of the study and a paleoclimatologist at the University of Arizona. "We expected it to be bad, but we certainly didn't expect it to be the worst in the past 500 years."    Snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada fills reservoirs that provide a third of all of the drinking water for the state of California, as well as water to fight wildfires and to generate electricity.    "The scope of this is profound," said Thomas Painter, a snow hydrologist with NASA's Airborne Snow Observatory, adding that models like the one developed in the study suggested a dry future for California in years beyond the current drought. "This has been a very bad drought, and being able to understand the context of it is extraordinarily important."    To determine snowpack levels from 500 years ago, the research team combined two data sets of blue oak tree rings. The first set provided historical precipitation levels from more than 1,500 blue oaks from 33 sites in California's Central Valley. The team compared part of that data from the years 1930 to 1980 with actual snowpack measurements and found that both findings matched.    Using this correlation, the team combined the precipitation data with a second data set of tree rings that looked at winter temperatures from 1500 to 1980.    After analyzing the data, the team determined with its model that snowpack levels as low as this year's were a once-in-1,000-years event. But because of rising temperatures caused by human activities, the researchers said they thought that snow droughts would become much more frequent.    California has a Mediterraneanlike  climate  , which means that it receives most of its precipitation in the winter and is dry during the summer. The blue oaks that encircle the Central Valley and cover the rolling foothills of the Sierra Nevada serve as a good indicator of snowfall on the mountains because they are very sensitive to winter precipitation, according to David W. Stahle, a geoscientist from the University of Arkansas and an author of the paper.    Many of the winter storms that pile snow on the Sierra Nevada also fall as rain on the blue oaks. The trees use the moisture stored in the soil to grow during the spring and summer, and the width of their tree rings reflects the amount of precipitation from the preceding winter. Wide rings indicate wet winters, while narrow rings denote dry ones.    "Having an ultrasensitive record of wet-season precipitation in ancient blue oak trees is a gift of nature to the modern water-dependent world," Dr. Stahle said in an email.    Some researchers said the results were valuable to understanding the current drought. Others found the results to be less surprising.    "I don't think anything they say is alarmingly shocking," said David Rizzardo, the chief snow surveyor at the California Department of Water Resources. "From a department perspective, you can go back 500 years or 10,000 years, it doesn't really change the context of the here and now. We're stuck in this situation."    Noah Diffenbaugh, a  climate  scientist at Stanford, said the study provided valuable information about the historical context of the drought, which would help in understanding its causes. He said that, when combined with previous studies, the new findings helped "provide strong evidence that global warming has substantially increased the probability of getting these extremely low snow conditions."    A. Park Williams, a bioclimatologist at Columbia University, said the study added to evidence that rising temperatures had exacerbated the lack of snow in California.    "We are now migrating into this new world where temperatures are higher," Dr. Williams said. "So even though the chances of an event like this were extremely unlikely in the past, in the future it will be more likely to occur."                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-19 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Pope Francis is a shrewd reformer – and this US visit could define his papacy              The one thing you could depend on when Pope John Paul II made one of his high-profile overseas trips was that he would hammer home in the most uncompromising terms Catholicism’s opposition to abortion. For the Polish pontiff, who died in 2005 and has now been declared a saint, abortion was murder, a stance which he presented as the keystone of all orthodoxy for Catholics.    This week his successor but one, the Argentinian Pope Francis, will be following in John Paul’s footsteps with his own first visit to the United States after spending the weekend in Cuba. Together, the two legs of the trip promise to be among the defining moments of what has already been an extraordinary two-and-a-half-year papacy.    Like John Paul, Francis will be addressing the United Nations and visiting the White House, but those Americans, Catholic or not, hoping that he too will be speaking out unambiguously on the pro-life/pro-choice stand-off that has so dominated church-state relations in the US for a generation are likely to be disappointed.    The world has responded to the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires with enthusiasm on account of his warmth, humility, spontaneity and habit of going off-script as far as the doctrines of his church are concerned. But Francis is also, in his own words, “a little  furbo  ” – ie, shrewd, clever, an operator. This less remarked-on side has been seen in the way he is systematically reforming the corrupt, bloated Vatican curia (civil service) and straightening out its dodgy bank.    It was there, too, in his instructions on the issue of abortion two weeks before setting off for Cuba and the States. Priests, he ordered, were to show mercy and compassion to women who came to them to confess having had an abortion. No longer were they to refuse absolution (forgiveness of sins) or have their case referred to the local bishop. Instead, Francis said, his priests were to emphasise to the women concerned that, however “profoundly unjust” their choice was, God still loved them and understood there were reasons why they had made such an “agonising and painful” decision. He added that the automatic excommunication decreed by canon law for abortion no longer applied.    It was nothing short of reshaping the Catholic moral landscape, and must have come as a profound shock to many US bishops. They have traditionally taken a “culture warrior” approach to abortion, damning anyone who suggested there might be room for compromise. So when John Kerry, a practising Catholic, ran for the presidency in 2004, Cardinal Raymond Burke, then archbishop of St Louis, later the most senior judge in the Vatican’s highest court, ordered that the Democratic candidate be denied holy communion because of his pro-choice stance.    You can’t but admire both Francis’s human empathy and his tactical nous. His instruction was, above all, a perfectly timed pre-emptive strike, allowing him to say all he intends to about abortion before he even set foot in the US, leaving him free once there to talk about the subjects that he wants to define Catholicism in today’s world.    “We cannot insist only on issues relating to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” he remarked in a September 2013 interview with the church magazine,  Civiltà Cattolica  . So when he addresses a joint session of Congress on Thursday, “Papa Francisco” can tackle what have become the hallmark themes of his leadership: eradication of poverty; the plight of refugees and immigrants against the backdrop of what he has labelled the “globalisation of indifference”; and  climate  change.    Given this agenda, the papal trip could not have come at a more crucial moment. There is a presidential race under way, with  climate  change among the disputed electoral territory. One of the leading Republican candidates, Jeb Bush, a 1995 convert to Catholicism, has publicly dismissed Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si (“Praise be to you”), which sets out in stark terms human responsibility for  climate  change, with the remark: “I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.”    On poverty, when he stands up before the UN general assembly on Friday, the pope will be speaking to global leaders as they gather to agree international development goals for the next 15 years. It has been Francis’s constant demand as pope that Catholicism must be, first and foremost, “a poor church, for the poor”.    If anyone doubts that commitment, much of the rest of his time in the US will be given to meeting those at the margins – at a soup kitchen for the homeless in Washington, a school for recent immigrants in East Harlem, and, next Sunday, on the final day of his trip, inside Curran-Fromhold correctional facility in Philadelphia. Some may regard such occasions as just photo-opportunities, but that is to underestimate the commitment of a man who spent much time when cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires travelling anonymously on public transport to shanty towns on the outskirts of the city to minister to their inhabitants. This is where, he says repeatedly, the Catholic church must be – not waiting in ornate churches for the faithful to fill the pews, but going out in solidarity to where real life is a daily struggle.    It is a belief that permeates everything Francis has done as pope, right down to his efforts, during the Cuba leg of his journey, to extend the historic renewal of diplomatic ties between Havana and Washington that he brokered into a wider lifting of the US trade embargo (“el bloqueo”) which blights the economic prospects of so many Cubans.    It is an approach that has not always endeared Francis to some cardinals, priests and laity who hanker after the old certainties of the era of John Paul II and its footnote in the reign of Benedict XVI. It is said in church circles that the conservatives are doing their damnedest to delay every reform in the hope that Francis’s legacy will then be easier to reverse once he is gone.    But whatever chill he may feel in the reception he is given by the ecclesiastical bigwigs, many Catholics in the pews will be drawing strength for the breath of fresh air that he represents. Here, after all, is a leader who it has been reported wanted to enter their country not via a red carpet on an airport runway, but by walking across the Mexican border as a show of solidarity with the economic migrants Donald Trump wants to shut out with a wall.    Why this visit to Cuba and America matters so much is that it comes at a time when Francis is beginning to move beyond altering the style, tone and organisation of the Catholic church, to get on with reforming its rulebook. Hence his instruction on abortion, and his directives, which were announced at the same time, simplifying the church’s archaic and costly annulment process. Francis’s new system will make it quicker, cheaper and less about blame, thereby reversing the current exodus of divorced and remarried Catholics from the sacraments.    I should enter a note of caution, lest we all get too carried away with Francis-mania. The 78-year-old pope is many attractive things, but he is not a liberal reformer set to bring Catholicism into line with the modern world. On a recent trip to Argentina, his old friends and colleagues repeatedly told me that, at heart, he is conservative. What that means in practice can be seen in the forthcoming “Year of Mercy” that Francis has announced throughout the Catholic church. While showing mercy towards women who have had abortions, divorced couples or gay Catholics is a huge improvement on condemning them as sinners, it still implies that they have been or are doing something wrong.    For all his charm, integrity and “furbizia”, this is not a Catholic leader who is about to blur the fundamental boundaries between his church and secular values.    Peter Stanford is a former editor of the Catholic Herald and author of Judas: The Troubling History of the Renegade Apostle (Hodder)  PAPAL DIARY    Tuesday  Arrives in Washington from Cuba.    Wednesday  Meets President Obama at the White House, followed by papal parade along the Ellipse and the National Mall and prayer with US bishops.    Thursday  Addresses joint meeting of Congress.    Friday  Addresses UN general assembly followed by multi-religious service at 9/11 memorial.    Saturday  Flies to Philadelphia for mass at cathedral basilica of Peter and Paul, followed by visit to Independence Mall.    Sunday  Meets bishops at St. Martin’s Chapel, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and visits the World Meeting of Families. Departs for Rome.                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-19 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
The California Wildfires: The Death Toll Rises      By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA            The death toll from the devastating fires that have scorched large stretches of California rose to five on Thursday, as officials investigated whether one of the fatal blazes was started by a power line's making contact with a tree.    Two bodies were found Thursday in the smoking ruins left behind by the Valley Fire, northwest of Sacramento, raising the number of confirmed dead in that fire to three, the Lake County Sheriff's Office reported. A day earlier, the Calaveras County coroner confirmed two dead in the Butte Fire, in the Sierra Nevada foothills southeast of Sacramento.    The Valley Fire and the Butte Fire have charred more than 144,000 acres. The Butte Fire was 49 percent contained, and the Valley Fire 35 percent. The largest wildfire in the state, the Rough Fire, in a sparsely populated area of the rugged southern Sierra Nevada was 141,000 acres and 67 percent contained.    Those blazes rank among the most destructive in the state's history, and they are expected to keep burning for days or weeks. Here are answers to some questions about the developments.    Q. How much damage has there been from these fires?    A. In the past few days, more than 1,000 buildings were destroyed, officials estimate, though the real number will not be known for a while and will almost certainly be higher. Fire officials have confirmed at least 585 homes and hundreds of other structures have been destroyed by the Valley Fire, and there are areas they have not yet been able to survey. The Butte Fire has destroyed at least 252 homes and 188 other structures. About 13,000 people were evacuated; most of them stayed with friends and family, but about 2,700 went to evacuation centers. For areas that were not burned but were threatened, some evacuation orders were lifted on Tuesday and Wednesday, allowing thousands of people to return home.    Q. So just how bad are the fires?    A. Around 700,000 acres have burned this year in California, compared with about 500,000 in a typical year, and the fire season, which in recent years has run well into October, is nowhere near over. Right now, 15,000 people are deployed to fight wildfires across the state. But what has officials on edge is less the total acreage than how readily new fires start, and how quickly -- and unpredictably -- they grow. "We've had fires in California since the beginning of time," said Mark Ghilarducci, the director of the governor's Office of Emergency Services, "but what we're seeing now that's different is the extreme rapid spread of the fires, and the extreme volatility."    Q. Why is it this bad?    A. Two reasons: drought and heat. Vegetation in California, from the mesquite scrub in the desert to the tall pines in the Sierra Nevada, is as dry as kindling after a four-year drought, the worst in the state's recorded history. So fire catches more easily, spreads faster and carries farther on the wind.    The state's major reservoirs hold less than half the water they typically contain at this time of year, many wells have run dry, and underground aquifers are so depleted that in some places, the ground has been sinking as much as two inches a month.    Q. Do firefighters have enough water to do their work?    A. Yes, but some creativity is required. Ordinarily, pumper trucks and helicopters with water buckets can tap into the streams, lakes and reservoirs closest to the flames. But in many places, those sources are now too low to rely on. Firefighters are making more use of tanker trucks and big, portable plastic water basins to do what is known as "water shuttling" -- moving water close to the fires. And helicopter pilots are often having to travel farther to find places to dip their oversize buckets.    Q. How bad have the drought and heat been?    A. Last year was the hottest on record in California, and this has been a hot summer. But even the hottest weather would not have created this extreme fire danger if there had been enough rainfall, instead of a drought. One indicator of its severity came this spring, when state scientists measured the Sierra snowpack at 5 percent of normal -- not an error -- the lowest ever recorded. A study published this week, based on the analysis of tree rings, said the snowpack was at its lowest point in 500 years.    Q. But haven't people been conserving a lot of water?    A. Yes, and that offers something of a reprieve for the people and farms that use water, but it does not water all those millions of acres of wild land. Only nature does that.    Q. Is this about  climate  change?    A. The governor says it is.  Climate  scientists say the clearest link is that a warmer  climate  causes more evaporation, so that even when rain and snow do fall, less stays on -- and in -- the ground and the plants. California has had extreme swings between dry years and wetter ones in the past, but the increasing heat of recent years is something new.    Q. The areas burning are mostly rural, with ranches, farms and riding stables. So what has become of all that livestock, not to mention household pets?    A. When people were forced to flee with little warning, especially from the Valley Fire, many animals were left behind, and no one knows the toll yet. For those who were able to get their animals out, "we actually have a very elaborate, well-coordinated system of volunteers and organizations that take in farm animals and domestic pets," Mr. Ghilarducci said, though he added that most people took their pets with them. "Special shelters are set up, and there's a whole veterinary team that goes in to support that."                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
For freedom of speech, these are troubling times              In our troubled and insecure environment, Britain has accumulated laws which curtail freedom of expression – in the name of national security and territorial integrity; and to prevent public disorder and combat crime. Laws which also compromise freedom of expression to restrict what we now call “hate speech”.    Take the Public Order Act, which makes it a criminal offence to use threatening or abusive language with the intention of causing “alarm or distress” to an individual  or  anybody else who hears it. It is a criminal offence to use language, or publish written material, intended to incite “racial hatred”. It is a criminal offence to incite “religious hatred” or “hatred” against individuals on the grounds of sexual orientation.    But what is it to cause “alarm and distress”? What expression of “hatred” should merit criminal sanction?    There is a growing number of people who believe you should be able to say what you like, so long as they agree with you    There is a critically important distinction – that the law seeks to protect – between causing “distress”, which may be a crime, and causing “offence”, which may not. The distinction is not easy for the layman to define, and the two are only too easy to elide. And this happens too often, not because of the laws against hate speech themselves, but because of the prevailing  climate  in which the law now operates. There is a growing number of people who believe that you should be able to say what you like, but only so long as they agree with you. This attitude is having a huge impact: on university campuses and in town halls, on radio and television, in theatres and art galleries.    Last autumn Brett Bailey, a white South African artist, created a tableau with living black actors chained and in cages to mimic the way in which 19th century Europeans were entertained by so-called “freak shows”. His work, which he billed as “anti-racist and anti-colonialist”, received critical acclaim. Others took the opposite view. A journalist called for it to be banned on the grounds of “complicit racism”. Protesters gathered outside the Barbican Centre in London on its opening night. The show was cancelled.This year, a play commissioned by the National Youth Theatre was withdrawn days before it was due to open. The work was inspired by the case of three teenage girls who left their school in London apparently to become jihadi brides in Syria. When it was cancelled, the director and writer complained: “Voices have been silenced here.”    Related: The arts, the law and freedom of speech    This febrile atmosphere is explained in large measure by the growing threat posed by “extremists”. Those terrorists who perpetrated the Charlie Hebdo murders brought this into the most dastardly focus. For me, some reactions to that atrocity were a disturbing illustration of a growing intolerance of offensive expression.    Some went berserk on Twitter and elsewhere to condemn the slogan “Je suis Charlie Hebdo” because, they claimed, the magazine was Islamophobic, racist and therefore not worthy of defending on grounds of free expression. A cavalcade of righteous authors, led by Michael Ondaatje and Peter Carey, wrote an open letter attacking the American branch of PEN for awarding Charlie Hebdo the Freedom of Expression Courage award.    Salman Rushdie was appalled and driven to say that, instead of supporting him over The Satanic Verses, such writers “would have accused me of insulting an ethnic and cultural minority”. He added: “We are living in the darkest time I have ever known.”    In institutions across the western world, the “hecklers’’’ veto is growing in frequency and volume. This was applied successfully to, among others, the former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, and the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, who were driven to withdraw from speaking engagements on US university campuses.    On some campuses there are calls for “trigger warnings” to be inserted in books like The Great Gatsby (because it is misogynistic), Huckleberry Finn (racist), and the Merchant of Venice (antisemitic). How long before such books are removed from the shelves altogether to protect the vulnerable from being offended?    In Britain it is no better. When Israel’s deputy ambassador was invited to Essex University to give a talk, he was heckled so violently that the event had to be abandoned. There is something peculiarly ugly about young minds so closed to alternative views that they block their ears and intimidate others into silence. Too often university authorities are supine in the face of student intimidation.    Related: Why free speech is integral to the intellectual life of our universities | Catherine Bennett    And it is intimidation. The scientist Tim Hunt was silenced by his university, University College London, after he joked somewhat feebly that girls shouldn’t work with men in the laboratory because they fall in love and cry when criticised. Despite an apology, he was pressurised to resign his honorary fellowship. Like a good number of the university’s alumni I was appalled, and took the painful step of disowning my own honorary fellowship.    In the name of national security, the government is soon to launch a counter-extremism strategy – extremism being defined as “ the vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of the law, individual liberty and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs …” The prime minister has declared that “our strongest weapon [is] our own liberal values”.    There are to be “new narrowly targeted powers” in the counter-extremism bill designed to prevent what the prime minister describes as “cult leaders” from peddling their hatred in public places. If he means that such “hate” preachers should not be treated as latter-day messiahs, I am with him. If, however, he wants to stop them being cross-examined, contradicted or ridiculed, then I think he is wrong.    Preachers spouting hateful nonsense, as opposed to advocating hateful action, should be subjected to merciless scrutiny. So it is dismaying to read that the home secretary has been considering a “pre-transmission regulatory regime” – muzzling radio and television in the hope of stamping out extremism.    Too often university authorities are supine in the face student intimidation    Nothing could be better calculated to incubate the virus of extremism. It would be driven even further underground, and find a ready host in those who feel lost, alienated and resentful.    The revolution in global communications offers freedoms unimaginable until very recently. Online, you can discover and learn, entertain and inspire. It is in almost every way a liberation for all of us.    Almost. You can also babble with impunity. Under the cloak of anonymity, you can express the ugliest of sentiments; you can join a witch-hunt to destroy a reputation or to assassinate a character. We are thus liberated and simultaneously imprisoned by social media. In this  climate  , public service broadcasting is arguably more important than ever but, ironically, under greater threat than ever.    The BBC has become the most influential public service broadcaster in the world. It sets a benchmark for all broadcasters – public and commercial. That is why you should be very worried about what is happening to it.    Today its enemies are more powerful than ever. Some are ideological, some are commercial. The former are to be found at their most ferocious on the backbenches of the House of Commons. Then there are the enemies in the media, who are not so much driven by ideology as profit. Principal among these is News UK, owned by News Corp, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch.    News Corp and its ilk have a vested financial interest in reducing the BBC’s scope and influence    News Corp’s papers in Britain assiduously canvass the views of those MPs who are most likely to put the BBC in the dock for failure to live up to the Murdoch empire’s well-attested standards of integrity and probity. I could give you scores of examples. But one will do. A few weeks ago the Songs of Praise editor elected to film the programme at the migrant camp in Calais. Under the headline “Hymnigrants – BBC BLASTED”, the Sun reported: “BBC chiefs spark outrage”. Its only source for the alleged “outrage”: a Conservative backbencher. Never mind that the archbishop of Canterbury welcomed the fact that Songs of Praise was to celebrate the “love of Christ” in a makeshift Ethiopian church, the Sun’s message was clear: the BBC is run by a bunch of lefties who are soft on immigration.    News Corp and its ilk have a vested financial interest in reducing the BBC’s scope and influence in the hope that the edifice will tumble, leaving a gaping hole in the market for them to fill. They and their cronies in Westminster care not a jot for balance or fairness, but are doing their best to shape the outcome of the negotiations over the renewal of the BBC’s charter – effectively its licence to broadcast.    The culture secretary, John Whittingdale, produced a green paper (open to public comment) that made his agenda pretty clear. It asserted that today, “the BBC is just one voice among many” before going on to ask if the corporation has “become too big, and if so, should it be more focused?” This is what a lawyer might describe as a leading, and a loaded, question.    Whittingdale has appointed eight people to advise him on the renewal of the charter – all of whom have vested interests, or roles in the media or private sector. Which takes me back to the rule of law and to freedom and democracy. And to the world in which we now live, and in which those essential qualities of western civilisation are once again imperilled. In this dysfunctional world, the BBC, like other public service broadcasters across Europe, has a vital role. It is a unique forum. It would be a tragedy if any government, wittingly or unwittingly, were so to tamper with the BBC as to turn it into merely “one voice among many”.    • This is an edited extract from the 2015 Prix Italia lecture to be delivered in Turin tomorrow                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
C. K. Williams, Poet Who Grappled With War and Moral Issues, Dies at 78      By WILLIAM GRIMES; Marlise Simons and Daniel E. Slotnik contributed reporting.            C. K. Williams, whose morally impassioned poems addressing war, poverty and  climate  change, as well as the imponderable mysteries of the psyche, won him a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, died on Sunday at his home in Hopewell. N.J. He was 78.    The cause was multiple myeloma, his wife, Catherine Mauger Williams, said.    Mr. Williams first made his mark in the late 1960s with short poems that addressed, in quick, jolting lines, the torments of love and politics. His verse could be, by turns, intensely personal, or public-spirited, taking on the Vietnam War and a long list of social injustices, expressed in hot language. "This is fresh meat right mr nixon?" begins one of his best-known poems, "In the Heart of the Beast," a response to the fatal shootings of student demonstrators at Kent State University in 1970.    In the mid-1970s he began experimenting with long, unraveled lines that spilled over the boundary of a standard page, allowing for a storytelling style that could be disarmingly casual and colloquial.    "A few nights ago I was half-watching the news on television and half-reading to my daughter," begins "The Last Deaths," in his 1977 collection "With Ignorance." And again, from the poem "Near the Haunted Castle": "You don't have to think about it, it's make-believe./It's like a lie, maybe not quite a lie but I don't want you to worry about it."    The long line could be dense and impacted, like a sentence out of Henry James, or loose, capacious and Whitmanesque. Either way, it freed him.    "For a long time I had been writing poetry that leaves everything out," he told The New York Times in 2000. "It's like a code. You say very little and send it out to people who know how to decode it. But I then realized that by writing longer lines and longer poems I could actually write the way I thought and the way I felt. I wanted to enter areas given over to prose writers, I wanted to talk about things the way a journalist can talk about things, but in poetry, not prose."    Mr. Williams, in this new phase, tackled themes of social injustice, the complexities of lust and love, and the intricate workings of the mind as it perceives and processes -- "how we take the world to us, and make it more, more than we are, more even than itself," as he put it in "The World."    In "Flesh and Blood," published in 1987, he adapted his loose line to a series of poems, each a single observed moment, confined to eight lines and printed two to a page. The collection won the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 2000, "Repair" won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and was a finalist for the National Book Award, which he won in 2003 for "The Singing."    Throughout, the sense of moral urgency remained, but without the declamatory tone.    "Williams's scorching honesty has always been his calling card," William Deresiewicz wrote of "The Singing" in The New York Times Book Review. "His poetry proceeds not from a verbal impulse, not from a lyrical impulse, not even from a prophetic or visionary impulse, but from a moral impulse. Everything, in his work, is held up to the most exacting ethical scrutiny, beginning with the poet himself."    Charles Kenneth Williams was born on Nov. 4, 1936, in Newark. His father, Paul, sold office machines, and, as he prospered, moved with his wife, the former Dossie Kasdin, and his two sons to suburban South Orange. Mr. Williams's conflicted relationship with his parents takes up much of his 2000 memoir, "Misgivings: My Mother, My Father, Myself."    After graduating from high school in Maplewood, Mr. Williams enrolled in Bucknell College to play basketball but transferred after a year to the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in philosophy, then English, and earned a bachelor's degree in 1959.    While he was in school, a girlfriend asked him to write a poem. He obliged. The seed sprouted.    "Somehow right away, after that first poem, although I knew I wasn't trained for it, I had no real background for it, I knew that that was what I was going to do," he told the PBS show "NewsHour" in 2000.    Through a friend, he began spending time with the architect Louis Kahn, who, by example, showed him the meaning of the artistic vocation and all that it entails. He enrolled in the university's graduate writing program -- briefly. "Maurice Johnson, the 18th-century scholar, all but chased me out," he told Penn Current, a campus publication, in 2010. "That's when I sat down and started to write full-time."    Gropingly, he felt his way, vaguely dissatisfied with much of the poetry around him, and searching for the kind of subject worthy of poetic treatment. "I began to feel that a great deal of human interaction, a large portion of real moral sensibility and concern, had somehow been usurped from the poets by the novel and drama," he wrote in "Beginnings," a 2001 essay for the website Poets.org.    Poetry had become small. "It felt to me as though anything that was on a large emotional scale, anything truly passionate, absorbing, or crucial, had been forsaken by poetry," he said. "What the poets of our time seemed to be left with were subtleties, hair-splittings, minute recordings of a delicate atmosphere."    He worked in Philadelphia editing papers for a psychoanalyst, who hired him to work part time as a group therapist for adolescents, and taught at a local Hebrew Association before stumbling on a subject -- the Holocaust -- that engaged his moral sense as a Jew and spurred him to write "A Day for Anne Frank," published in 1968.    Anne Sexton, whom he met at a poetry reading at Temple University, recommended him to her publisher, Houghton Mifflin, which brought out "Lies" in 1969, a collection that immediately stamped him as a poet to watch.    Critics occasionally faulted Mr. Williams for overusing his trademark long line, or wandering too far in the direction of prose, but most found his voice mesmerizing, his poetic tales spellbinding. "His way of speaking -- hovering, tender, overbearing -- sounds like nothing else in American poetry today," the poet J. D. McClatchy wrote in Poetry magazine in 1989.    In his later work, Mr. Williams became less documentary, although he continued to engage with social issues, especially the threat posed by  climate  change. In 2006, Farrar Straus Giroux published "Collected Poems." A sampling of his most recent work, "Selected Later Poems," was scheduled be published this month.    In addition to writing poetry, Mr. Williams translated plays by Sophocles and poems by Adam Zagajewski and Francis Ponge. His critical essays were collected in "Poetry and Consciousness" (1998) and "In Time: Poets, Poems, and the Rest" (2012). In "On Whitman" (2010), part of Princeton University Press's "Writers on Writers" series, he paid homage to the poet who influenced him most deeply.    Mr. Williams taught in Princeton's creative writing program from 1996 until shortly before his death, dividing his time between homes in Hopewell and Paris. His first marriage ended in divorce. Besides his wife, survivors include a son, Jed; a daughter, Jessica Burns; a sister, Lynn Williams; a brother, Richard; and three grandchildren.    At the time of his death, he had completed "Falling Ill," a collection of poems about death and dying.    "What I think poets tell themselves, either aloud or unconsciously, is that poetry is part of the moral resonance of the world," he told "NewsHour" in 2003. "Poetry adds to that, that sense that human beings have that we have some moral meaning that is part of the basis of our identity, no matter what our acts are."              Figure(s) :      PHOTO: C. K. Williams in Princeton, N.J., in 2005. He won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. (PHOTOGRAPH BY LAURA PEDRICK FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)             

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Conservation will be key in the takeover of National Geographic              The Foxification of National Geographic startled a few lemurs in the American media jungle last week. A new joint venture, built on an axis which takes the globally known magazine and its televisual and digital assets from the not-for-profit sector and puts them under the control of the Murdoch family’s 21st Century Fox, caused initial shock and dismay. While outside the US National Geographic might be best known to consumers as the source of monkey pictures in dentists’ waiting rooms, it is a significant investor in science and research; and while the Murdoch millions boosting the endowment are welcome, the shadow of a different editorial line is not. But maybe for once those fears are misplaced.    The surprise $725m purchase by Fox of a majority stake in the media assets of the National Geographic Society is the first major deal for James Murdoch since he became chief executive of the company in June this year, and an interesting statement of intent, perhaps, in terms of what he intends to bring to the division. The immediate and mainly negative reaction to the news from scientists and writers in the US drew attention to Rupert Murdoch’s tweeted  climate  scepticism, and Fox News’ editorial line, which has in general been hostile to data and argument indicating that  climate  change is real and caused by human activity.    While James Murdoch is as hard-edged a capitalist as you will find in any midtown Manhattan executive suite, he is a very different proposition to his father, and this might be good news for those fearful for National Geographic’s independence and commitment to scientific exploration and communication. As chief executive of Sky in the UK, Murdoch junior made the company carbon-neutral as early as 2006. Its headquarters are still identifiable by their wind turbine. In endless interviews about the greening of Sky, James Murdoch always made the point that the choice to make environmental responsibility part of the company brand was a “business decision”, but the policies were real and implemented.    When running BSkyB, James Murdoch became, at a young age, arguably the most successful media executive in Europe. He increased profitability and investment in original programming, brought internet service provision to the company and was genuinely outsmarting competitors on issues of digital distribution. Unfortunately his success in one part of the company led to disaster in another. His relocation (by his father) in 2007 to oversee all of News Corp’s UK businesses, including its newspapers, put him squarely in charge during the phone-hacking crisis. His mishandling of the affair saw him resign his executive chairman post in 2012 and relocate to the US where he has been extremely low-profile until the Fox announcement this summer. The lack of engagement (and judgment) James Murdoch showed in the hacking scandal is characteristic of how little he is drawn to editorial process or indeed journalists.    National Geographic has been one of the more notable and high-profile successes at digital experimentation. Now when detained by the dentist you can scroll through its enormously popular Instagram feed of monkey pictures, or read features on the social web, where it was a significant lead partner in the Facebook “Instant Articles” experiments. An early user of new sensor technologies and drones to aid reporting, and a successful innovator in video techniques, Nat Geo becomes arguably News Corp’s most innovating digital publishing asset.    When his father bought the Wall Street Journal for $5bn in 2007, it was amid howls of protest that the august news institution would be editorially ruined. Assurances were given and editorial boards were constructed to ensure “independence of editorial”; but Rupert Murdoch has never bought a newspaper in order to leave it alone, and immediately went about reconstructing a brand with imported editors and new initiatives.    James Murdoch has said simply of National Geographic that there will be minimal change, and the investment in the brand is to maintain its editorial approach and voice rather than to change it. The expectation, however, that the TV, magazine and digital income will be enough to cross-subsidise the National Geographic Society, which funds education and research, is an inversion of the existing wisdom. The media market, generally speaking, thinks charitable cross-subsidy needs to go into journalism rather than flow away from it. National Geographic is the second piece of non-profit media to disappear into a commercial company in as many months. In August, Sesame Workshop, the production company that makes Sesame Street, was bought by HBO. Here the reasons were starkly financial. With an $11m loss last year the production unit needed to find a buyer or cease production.    National Geographic’s financial situation is very different, but the instinct that scale is needed in digital publishing is the same everywhere. If James Murdoch is seeking to teach the market that he gets digital, is journalistically responsible, and can be trusted to be ethical with precious assets that even America’s unsentimental media hold dear, then he has picked the right deal.    • This article was amended on 21 September 2015. An earlier version said Rupert Murdoch bought the Wall Street Journal for $5bn in 1997. This has been corrected to say in 2007.                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-06 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Shifting the Tax Burden to Cut Carbon      By N. GREGORY MANKIW            This summer, a friend sent me a remarkable headline from The Seattle Times: " 'Green' Alliance Opposes Petition to Tax Carbon."    My initial thought was that this doesn't make sense. It is like reading "Democrats Rally to Cut the Minimum Wage" or "Republicans Unite to Hike Income Taxes."    But the political debate in Washington State is a case study about why smart environmental policy is so hard to enact.    First, some background.    Scientists have been telling us for years that the earth is warming and that one of the culprits is human emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Some believe that global warming has contributed to the current severe drought in California.    Sure, there are skeptics about the  climate  science behind these claims. But science is always a matter of probabilities, not certainties. Even a reasonable skeptic should be willing to embrace modest steps to curb carbon emissions.    Policy wonks like me have long argued that the best way to curb carbon emissions is to put a price on carbon. The cap-and-trade system President Obama advocates is one way to do that. A more direct and less bureaucratic way is to tax carbon. When polled, economists overwhelmingly support the idea.    One reason is that putting a price on carbon alters incentives in many ways. It encourages utilities to switch to cleaner forms of generating electricity, like wind and solar instead of coal. It encourages people to buy more fuel-efficient cars, form car pools with their neighbors, use more public transportation, live closer to work and turn down their thermostats. A regulatory system that tried to achieve all this would be heavy-handed and less effective.    Motivated by this thinking, Washington Carbon, an advocacy group in the state, is now trying to put a carbon tax on the 2016 ballot. Initiative Measure 732 would institute a tax on fossil fuels of $25 a metric ton of carbon dioxide (which translates to about 25 cents a gallon of gasoline).    Most of the revenue from the measure would be used to reduce the state sales tax by one percentage point. A smaller amount would be used to reduce taxes on manufacturing companies and to fund a tax rebate of up to $1,500 for low-income working families. The overall plan is progressive and revenue-neutral. If passed, the initiative would yield a tax shift, not a tax increase.    That is why some environmentalists are opposed. Rather than rebating the money the carbon tax would raise, they want to spend it on environmental and other government programs.    To be sure, a person can favor both a more environmentally friendly tax policy and greater government spending. But there is no good reason to marry these policies. If the goal is to build a political consensus to tackle  climate  change, there is good reason not to.    The size of government is an issue that divides the political right and the political left, and it will most likely always do so. The same need not be true of  climate  change.    Bob Inglis, the former Republican congressman from South Carolina, heads the Energy and Enterprise Initiative at George Mason University A recent winner of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, which is given to public officials, he has been pushing for  climate  change solutions that are consistent with free enterprise and limited government.    Environmentalists in the United States would do well to look north at the successes achieved in a Canadian province. In 2008, British Columbia introduced a revenue-neutral carbon tax similar to that being proposed for Washington.    The results of the policy have been what advocates promised. The use of fossil fuels in British Columbia has fallen compared with the rest of Canada. But economic growth has not suffered.    What is most noteworthy, however, is that the policy was championed by a right-of-center government that did not previously have close ties to the environmental movement.    It was a Nixon-goes-to-China moment: Gordon Campbell, British Columbia's premier, had more credibility by acting against type. Because of the government's conservative credentials and its commitment to make the policy revenue-neutral, it brought along the crucial support of the business community.    Could such a situation happen in the United States? Right now, it is hard to imagine, as many of the Republicans vying for the presidential nomination pander to the deniers of  climate  change. But the experience of British Columbia suggests that this attitude could change.    This brings me back to my friend, Yoram Bauman, who sent me that headline. He is an environmental economist and stand-up comedian (yes, an unusual combo). He is also one of the leaders of the effort in Washington State to pass a carbon tax. He has been working tirelessly to build support.    Based on his experiences, he has a message for environmental activists: "I am increasingly convinced that the path to  climate  action is through the Republican Party. Yes, there are challenges on the right -- skepticism about  climate  science and about tax reform -- but those are surmountable with time and effort. The same cannot be said of the challenges on the left: an unyielding desire to tie everything to bigger government, and a willingness to use race and class as political weapons in order to pursue that desire."    Yoram Bauman is a funny guy, but this time he is not joking.              Figure(s) :      DRAWING (DRAWING BY JULIA YELLOW)          Note(s) :  N. Gregory Mankiw is the Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard University.           

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-14 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Why is a Paris suburb scrapping an urban farm to build a car park?              With less than three months to go before the UN  climate  change conference in Paris, a project at the forefront of urban sustainability in the city’s north-western suburb of Colombes faces impending closure – in favour of a car park.    Initiated in 2008 by Constantin Petcou and Doina Petrescu from Atelier d’Architecture Autogéreé (AAA), the award-winningR-Urban scheme is composed of a co-working and making space, the Recyclab, plus (just down the road) an urban agriculture facility, Agrocité, which is made up of allotments, a micro-farm whose produce is sold locally and a school providing professional training in compost-making. There is also a community space and cafe where the food grown on-site is processed and sold at affordable prices.    Petcou points out that the UN’s intergovernmental panel on  climate  change (IPCC) acknowledges the role of individuals and local governments in tackling  climate  change, and that R-Urban “is doing just that”.    “The scheme is all about local practices,” Petrescu adds, “but it’s also about scaling up through regional networks, and changing the way citizens in Colombes and elsewhere think about urban resilience.”    The project in Colombes is just gaining momentum. Shutting it down now would not make any sense    Constantin Petcou    With the  climate  conference putting Paris in the global spotlight from 30 November, the decision by the City of Colombes to abandon one of Europe’s most ambitious urban sustainability schemes seems almost comical in its timing.    The city council argues that the replacement car park is essential to serve the regeneration of the area – but Benoît, a long-term resident of Colombes who joined R-Urban in the project’s early days, points at all the spaces around the Agrocité that sit idle, ready to host the car park.    Claire, a retired nurse who lives nearby, adds that “most of the people around here do not have the money to pay for a parking spot anyway; the ones beneath the residential blocks are half-empty.” The mayor of Colombes did not respond to a request for comments.    While AAA could potentially rehouse the project and develop new schemes in other cities, “we don’t want to let the people of Colombes down,” Petcou says. “It’s great that other cities want to develop similar schemes, but the project in Colombes is just gaining momentum. Shutting it down now would not make any sense.” Yet the clock is ticking, with the project’s official funding coming to an end on 30 September.    Spending a rainy afternoon at the Agrocité, I am surprised to see so many people turning up despite the weather, checking on their allotments and spending some time chatting in the community cafe. The mix of people, from different origins and social backgrounds, exchanging gardening tips is unexpected.    The R-Urban project has provided life-changing opportunity for Benoît, who made the big step to leave his job in the print industry to lead initiatives around compost and recycling. Inspired by his collection of beer labels – 700,000 and counting – he is now working with micro-breweries in Paris to recycle their waste, and is co-leading the School of Compost part of the Agrocité.    Benoît is among the R-Urban residents who have launched a petition to save the project. Others, such as Claire, seem more fatalistic. She tells me she grew up on a farm in Lebanon, and was keen to take part in R-Urban as soon as it took off. “You see, here my daughter and I can grow our own vegetables, and we don’t use any pesticides. Organic fruits and vegetables are really expensive, so getting an allotment here has been nice.”    “We learn from each other,” says Catherine, a long-term Colombes resident and former home carer, who had to stop working for health reasons. “I did not know anything about farming or gardening – but, for instance, there are lots of people here from the West Indies who have patches of land back home where they cultivate vegetables. Then the Portuguese know how to grow cabbage, and so on.”    The mix of people, from different origins and social backgrounds, exchanging gardening tips is unexpected    Catherine is busy baking cakes for the café. “It fills my free time, and you meet a lot of people. If the project moves away from here, I probably couldn’t get involved that much, as I have difficulty walking.”    Related: Urban commons have radical potential – it's not just about community gardens    The dispute over the R-Urban project also reveals the difficulties lying ahead for the soon-to-be-created Metropolis of Greater Paris. On the 1 January 2016, its official birth date, more than 120 municipalities and their individual mayors will attempt to start building a coherent metropolitan identity, addressing issues such as strategic planning,  climate  change and sustainable development.    The 400-or-so Colombes residents involved in the R-urban project would surely have some useful experiences to share with these mayors and town councillors about how to co-create a functional urban organisation. Showing me the luxuriant oasis of greenery that Agrocité has become over the years, Claire observes: “It’d be such a shame to destroy all this, just for a boring car park.”    Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter and Facebook and join the discussion                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-03 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Underwater sculptures emerge from Thames in  climate  change protest              At high tide, you might barely know they’re there. But as the water level of the Thames comes and goes twice a day with the tide, the four ghostly heads – and the horses they sit atop – slowly emerge fully into view.    The sculpture, entitled The Rising Tide, has been installed near the bankside of Vauxhall bridge and is the work of Jason deCaires Taylor, 41, a British artist best known for creating the world’s first underwater museum in Cancun, then again in the Bahamas.    For the past decade, Taylor’s work has been motivated by conservation and redressing  climate  change, with his underwater museums solely designed to draw divers away from the most fragile and delicate parts of coral reefs. His newest work in the Thames, he says, is no different in its political purpose.    “Working in conservation, I am very concerned with all the associated effects of  climate  change and the state of peril our seas are in at the moment,” said Taylor. “So here I wanted a piece that was going to be revealed with the tide and worked with the natural environment of the Thames, but also alluded to the industrial nature of the city and it’s obsessive and damaging focus just on work and construction.”    The installation, which sits less than a mile from the Houses of Parliament, comprises four life-size shire horses, standing as a symbol of the origins of industrialisation but also as a warning for the bleak future it is creating for the world by their representation of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.    While the bodies of the figures and horses are moulded from real life, each of the horses’ heads has been replaced by the “horse head” of an oilwell pump – a political comment on the impact of fossil fuels on our planet.    For Taylor, the position of the sculpture is particularly opportune. “I quite like the idea that the piece sits in the eye line of the place where many politicians and so many people who are involved in  climate  change all work and make these damaging deals and policies, yet who are in this state of mad denial,” he said.    The middle-aged suited figures that sit on top of two of the horses, looking defiantly into the distance, are also a direct reference to the politicians and businessman who Taylor believes are allowing  climate  change to continue under their watch.    Taylor added: “The suited figures are ambivalent to their situation – I wanted to create this striking image of a politician in front of the Houses of Parliament, ignoring the world as the water rises around him. And they are sitting on horses that are grazing, taking as much as they can from the ground.”    The work, which was commissioned as part of the Totally Thames festival, is the first of its kind to be installed in the river and Taylor admitted it had been a challenge to ensure the works could withstand the water and tidal changes. The horses, which were carried down the Thames in a large barge, were moulded from reinforced marine cement and have several tons of steel in their legs to keep them upright. The sculptures will be in place for at least a month.    According to Taylor, art had a vital part to play in the discussion around issues such as  climate  change, and was key in getting people to emotively engage with it beyond just facts and statistics. Having been a sculptor all his life, this was a central motivator in his decision 10 years ago to fuse his artistic practice with his  climate  change activism.    “I felt disillusioned that my works were just about creating art – I wanted to do something that maybe went beyond that and was actively beneficial,” said Taylor. “I started small, working a lot with artificial reefs, and found out about how a lot of conservation was about controlling people’s movements.    “It made me think about how art could divert people away from fragile areas, so the first underwater museum in Cancun was all about taking some of the 750,000 annual visitors away from these natural reefs and fragile environments and bringing them to an area where they minimise their impact.”    Taylor has spent the past year and a half building his next underwater museum in Lanzarote, which will take shape as a vast underwater botanical garden with about 300 sculptures. Once that is complete, he has an underwater project in Bali in the works, and has no plans to return his sculpture to dry land.    “It is this concealed world,” said Taylor. “If we walked past a forest that was disintegrating every day and with animals dead by the side of the road, we would be much more aware of our actions. But underwater, it is out of site and is a problem so easily ignored. So, a big part of my work is to bring people’s focus and their awareness to this destruction of our seas and of the natural world.”    This article was amended on 3 September 2015. An earlier version said each of the horses’ heads had been replaced by a petrol pump.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-02 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Underwater sculptures emerge from Thames in  climate  change protest              At high tide, you might barely know they’re there. But as the water level of the Thames comes and goes twice a day with the tide, the four ghostly heads – and the horses they sit atop – slowly emerge fully into view.    The sculpture, entitled The Rising Tide, has been installed near the bankside of Vauxhall bridge and is the work of Jason deCaires Taylor, 41, a British artist best known for creating the world’s first underwater museum in Cancun, then again in the Bahamas.    For the past decade, Taylor’s work has been motivated by conservation and redressing  climate  change, with his underwater museums solely designed to draw divers away from the most fragile and delicate parts of coral reefs. His newest work in the Thames, he says, is no different in its political purpose.    “Working in conservation, I am very concerned with all the associated effects of  climate  change and the state of peril our seas are in at the moment,” said Taylor. “So here I wanted a piece that was going to be revealed with the tide and worked with the natural environment of the Thames, but also alluded to the industrial nature of the city and it’s obsessive and damaging focus just on work and construction.”    The installation, which sits less than a mile from the Houses of Parliament, comprises four life-size shire horses, standing as a symbol of the origins of industrialisation but also as a warning for the bleak future it is creating for the world by their representation of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.    While the bodies of the figures and horses are moulded from real life, each of the horses’ heads horses has been replaced by a petrol pump – a political comment on the impact of fossil fuels on our planet.    For Taylor, the position of the sculpture is particularly opportune. “I quite like the idea that the piece sits in the eye line of the place where many politicians and so many people who are involved in  climate  change all work and make these damaging deals and policies, yet who are in this state of mad denial,” he said.    The middle-aged suited figures that sit on top of two of the horses, looking defiantly into the distance, are also a direct reference to the politicians and businessman who Taylor believes are allowing  climate  change to continue under their watch.    Taylor added: “The suited figures are ambivalent to their situation – I wanted to create this striking image of a politician in front of the Houses of Parliament, ignoring the world as the water rises around him. And they are sitting on horses that are grazing, taking as much as they can from the ground.”    The work, which was commissioned as part of the Totally Thames festival, is the first of its kind to be installed in the river and Taylor admitted it had been a challenge to ensure the works could withstand the water and tidal changes. The horses, which were carried down the Thames in a large barge, were moulded from reinforced marine cement and have several tons of steel in their legs to keep them upright. The sculptures will be in place for at least a month.    According to Taylor, art had a vital part to play in the discussion around issues such as  climate  change, and was key in getting people to emotively engage with it beyond just facts and statistics. Having been a sculptor all his life, this was a central motivator in his decision 10 years ago to fuse his artistic practice with his  climate  change activism.    “I felt disillusioned that my works were just about creating art – I wanted to do something that maybe went beyond that and was actively beneficial,” said Taylor. “I started small, working a lot with artificial reefs, and found out about how a lot of conservation was about controlling people’s movements.    “It made me think about how art could divert people away from fragile areas, so the first underwater museum in Cancun was all about taking some of the 750,000 annual visitors away from these natural reefs and fragile environments and bringing them to an area where they minimise their impact.”    Taylor has spent the past year and a half building his next underwater museum in Lanzarote, which will take shape as a vast underwater botanical garden with about 300 sculptures. Once that is complete, he has an underwater project in Bali in the works, and has no plans to return his sculpture to dry land.    “It is this concealed world,” said Taylor. “If we walked past a forest that was disintegrating every day and with animals dead by the side of the road, we would be much more aware of our actions. But underwater, it is out of site and is a problem so easily ignored. So, a big part of my work is to bring people’s focus and their awareness to this destruction of our seas and of the natural world.”                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-17 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Australia's New Prime Minister, the Fourth in Two Years, Takes the Helm      By MICHELLE INNIS            SYDNEY, Australia -- When Malcolm Turnbull was sworn in on Tuesday, he did not only become Australia's 29th prime minister -- he also became its fourth in just over two years. His three immediate predecessors were ousted by their own parties, including Tony Abbott, who was forced out Monday in a leadership challenge led by Mr. Turnbull.    Now that Mr. Turnbull, a wealthy lawyer and former investment banker, has the country's top job, his main challenge is clear, said Hugh White, an intelligence analyst who from 1985 to 1991 advised Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Defense Minister Kim Beazley.    "The key question is whether he can run an effective government," Mr. White said. "That hasn't happened since 2007."    With Australia's next election less than a year away, the governing Liberal Party -- which, despite its name, is conservative -- rejected the deeply unpopular Mr. Abbott in favor of Mr. Turnbull, a comparatively centrist figure whose views on  climate  change and other issues are more in line with Australian public opinion.    But Mr. Turnbull will have to lead not only the lawmakers in his own party -- 44 of whom did not vote for him on Monday night, against 54 who did -- but also a country where policy in recent years often seems to have been made on the run, and often in response to flagging opinion polls.    Australia's current political turmoil dates from the Labor Party government of Kevin Rudd, who became prime minister in 2007.    Mr. Rudd was ousted in an internal party coup in 2010 and replaced by Julia Gillard, Australia's first female prime minister. As Ms. Gillard's poll numbers fell, the party reinstalled Mr. Rudd months before the election of 2013, which Mr. Abbott's conservative coalition won.    Already a polarizing figure when he took office, Mr. Abbott saw his popularity decline amid a slowing economy as he made a series of political missteps and alienated many voters with his strongly conservative stances and often abrasive style.    His combative manner contributed to his government's inability to get major budget measures through the lower and upper houses of Parliament.    Proposed university overhauls, widely disliked by voters, stalled in Parliament, and a paid parental leave plan and a co-payment for visits to the doctor covered by Australia's Medicare system were either amended or dropped by the government, which could not negotiate the passage of the legislation.    Bob Gregory, a professor of economics at Australian National University, said Mr. Turnbull's task would be largely one of communication. "What Mr. Turnbull has to do is straightforward," Mr. Gregory said. "He's got to explain things. You've no idea how powerful that is."    In his pitch for the job, Mr. Turnbull promised to consult with colleagues and the public more often, saying Australians need advocacy from their leader, and not slogans.    That will include managing the Liberals' governing coalition with the smaller, more conservative National Party, which is unlikely to embrace attempts by Mr. Turnbull to move to the center.    Mr. Gregory said he expected few policy changes from Mr. Turnbull in the short term. Indeed, in his first session of Parliament as prime minister on Tuesday, Mr. Turnbull made it clear that on at least two issues over which he has criticized Mr. Abbott in the past --  climate  change and same-sex marriage -- his predecessor's policies would continue.    Mr. Turnbull, who once used an expletive to describe Mr. Abbott's  climate  -change policies, said that carbon emissions reduction targets Mr. Abbott recently proposed, which have been criticized as inadequate by scientists and environmentalists, were "very substantial."    And he reiterated that the question of legalizing same-sex marriage would be put to a public vote after the next election, a proposal of Mr. Abbott's that his critics had called an attempt to dodge that issue by taking it out of Parliament. Mr. Turnbull -- who, like most Australians but unlike Mr. Abbott, supports same-sex marriage -- said last month that he would have voted to legalize it had Liberal Party members been allowed to stray from the party line on the issue.    John Hewson, a former Liberal Party leader, said  climate  change was the party's biggest moral, social, political and economic challenge. He said that Mr. Turnbull would have to persuade more conservative members of his coalition to move further with him on dealing with the issue, toward which the Abbott government showed its firm attitude this summer by moving to halt government investment in wind farms and domestic-scale solar projects.    "There are not too many growth sectors in the economy," Mr. Hewson said. "I never understood why they moved to close down renewables. Basically, what Mr. Abbott did resulted in a fall in investment in that sector of 80 to 90 percent and a loss of 15,000 jobs. Why would you do that when you're looking for growth sectors to replace mining?"    Mr. Hewson said he hoped Mr. Turnbull would reverse the government's lack of support for renewable energy projects, even if it could not change emissions targets before an international conference on  climate  change in Paris later this year.    "He has got great rhetoric," Mr. Gregory said of Mr. Turnbull. "He won't pull out a magical new agenda that isn't there. But he will be able to fix things with a few words. He will make things happen."    Mr. Turnbull became a nationally known lawyer during the 1980s, when he fought the British government's attempt to stop the publication in Australia of a memoir by a former British intelligence agent. During the 1990s, he was a venture capitalist and head of the Goldman Sachs investment bank in Australia. In 1994, he bought a stake in the Internet service provider Ozemail, which he later sold for millions of dollars. First elected to Parliament in 2004, he is believed to be one of Australia's richest lawmakers ever.    Still, he has often been dismissed as a "silvertail," as Australians call an extremely rich person. He lives in a harborside mansion in the suburban Sydney district of Wentworth, one of Australia's wealthiest. He attended an elite private school in Sydney, though he was a scholarship student and has said that his father struggled with his school fees.    Mr. White described Mr. Turnbull as a "terrifically passionate person" with a strong drive and a formidable intellect, especially where policy is concerned. "He came to politics late, and he is not an ideological warrior," Mr. White said, characterizing the new prime minister as a foreign policy buff and deeply engaged on the question of China's changing role in the region and its relationship with the United States.    "Mr. Turnbull has a strong record for making stuff happen," Mr. White said. "There is hope that he will be better placed than his predecessors at running a good government."    This is a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-08-29 *am_2015-08 *annee_2015 
In Trip to Alaska, Obama Will Be in Middle of Battle Over Oil and  Climate  Change      By KIRK JOHNSON            ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Gov. Bill Walker ticks down the things he wants President Obama to see in visiting this vast northern state starting on Monday, and glorious glacial vistas are not at the top of the list.    He would like Mr. Obama to see the people lining up for services at state agencies that have been crippled by billions of dollars in state budget cuts as oil revenues have collapsed. Mr. Walker points out that law enforcement, education and transportation -- all crucial in a state with roadless areas larger than Texas -- were all severely hit as a fifth of the state budget got redlined out earlier this year, and billions more in cuts loom for next year.    "I'd show him the number of employees we've laid off, the troopers we've laid off, the trooper stations we've closed, the brand-new helicopters that we're putting into storage -- taking the blades off because we can't afford to operate them on search and rescue," said Mr. Walker, a former lawyer and businessman who was elected last year as a political independent. "It's real, and it's not a slight adjustment."    As Mr. Obama comes north for what the White House has described as an examination of the effects of  climate  change, Alaska is battling over oil -- its chief source of revenue -- and the thorny implications of drilling. Oil prices have fallen to multiyear lows, and production has declined from aging oil fields -- with consequences rippling through a state that pays for just about everything with taxes from oil.    Mr. Walker, in an interview in his Anchorage office, said he planned to press Mr. Obama to loosen restrictions on exploration and to pledge support for a natural gas pipeline. More broadly, Mr. Walker said, he hoped to help the president understand Alaska's dependence, because of  climate  and geography, on what can be extracted from the land or sea.    "From oil and gas development to fish caught in the ocean, we literally live off the resources," Mr. Walker said.    But fossil fuels are also blamed for human-caused  climate  change, and that reality has set up a competing claim for the president's attention. More drilling for energy,  climate  advocates say, is not the answer for Alaska or the planet. With a three-day trip for Mr. Obama planned out by the White House -- including the first visit by a sitting president to some of Alaska's most remote Arctic communities -- the uncertainties and stakes are high, people on all sides of the energy fight say.    "It's a battle for humanity," said Ryan Joe, 26, an Alaska Native college student who was helping plan an anti-Arctic-drilling rally for Monday in downtown Anchorage, led by Greenpeace and other groups. "How is drilling somewhere going to make it better for the world?" Mr. Joe said.    Recent tumult in global stock and energy markets has added further urgency, as doubts about economic growth in China and around the world have clouded Alaska's future. The credit rating agency Standard  &  Poor's earlier this month downgraded Alaska's outlook to negative from stable, citing the structural deficit in the state budget.    An Alaska Native tribal group with investments in Arctic leases also began a statewide television advertising campaign this week to coincide with the president's visit. The tribe asserts that, contrary to the idea that drilling threatens native life, energy development is crucial to paying for the services that tribes depend on in remote places.    The Arctic "is not a pristine snow globe that deserves to be tucked away and preserved," said Tara Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, based in Barrow, in a telephone interview. "Our people have lived here for thousands of years," she added, "and have found the balance between responsible development and environmental stewardship."    Mr. Obama himself is seen as conflicted by many Alaskans, most of whom did not vote for him in either of his presidential races.    His administration's approval earlier this month of Shell Oil's plan to explore for oil in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast gave hope to those who want him to encourage or least allow more drilling. But that he is coming here specifically to look at  climate  change implications also suggests to many people an agenda that does not necessarily include Alaska's economic interests. The White House has signaled that Mr. Obama might not want to talk about oil and drilling at all while he is here.    "To say I'm skeptical of the president's intentions is an understatement," wrote Representative Don Young, Republican of Alaska, in an editorial this week in the Alaska Dispatch News.    Alaska has had an uneven economic ride with Mr. Obama even beyond oil. In per capita federal spending, for things like land management and other programs, it was one of the most federally dependent states in 2013, according to a study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, beaten only by the geographic triumvirate around the capital -- Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. From 2008 to 2013, the study said, Alaska was in 49th place for growth of per capita federal spending.    Military bases are yet another crucial part of the Alaska economy, and the number of military personnel based in the state is also set to shrink, with a decrease of 2,675 troops recently announced by the Defense Department.    Mr. Walker said he would like the president to stand somewhere in far western Alaska, where Russia's coast can be seen across the Bering Sea, and understand that  climate  change is also bringing geopolitical change. Alaska, he said, just as it was in the Cold War, is at the front lines as Russian rebuilds its Arctic military presence.    Some Alaskans are hoping Mr. Obama sees a middle way.    The president of the State Senate, Kevin Meyer, a Republican, said a tour of the Cook Inlet south of Anchorage, where oil-drilling platforms and rich fishing grounds are flourishing, would show that the issues are not all black and white.    "Resource development, fishing and the environment can all coexist," Mr. Meyer said, "and I think Alaska is a good example of that, if that's what he wants to see."    But even if the focus remains fixed on  climate  , Mr. Walker said that the visit could still be valuable and important to Alaska because the economic and social costs of  climate  change are also clearly mounting.    At least one remote coastal village, with more probably set to follow, may have to be moved, he said, as sea levels rise.    "Relocating a village is pretty spendy," Mr. Walker said.    But there is also anxiety here about whether images of a changing  climate  -- captured by the cameras and attention that will follow Mr. Obama -- could be perceived by some people as Alaska's fault, as an energy dependent state.    As Chris Tuck, the minority leader in the State House of Representatives and a Democrat, put it: "I'm just hoping we don't get blamed for the fact that the glaciers are melting."              Figure(s) :      PHOTOS: Gov. Bill Walker, left, said he wanted to help the president understand Alaska's dependence on natural resources on his trip to the state. Ryan Joe, below left, is helping plan an anti-Arctic-drilling rally in downtown Anchorage, seen above across Cook Inlet, which includes drilling platforms and fishing grounds. (PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOSHUA CORBETT FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)             

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-09-22 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Benefits of Chinese investment are not just economic      VINCENT DE RIVAZ IN THE CITY            China's participation in the UK's new nuclear programme was strongly endorsed by the Chancellor and the Energy Secretary yesterday during their visit to Beijing. They showed their strong commitment to Hinkley Point C and provided a powerful answer to those who doubt that the UK can get its act together on infrastructure.    Although they were clear that Chinese investment in nuclear is good for Britain, I accept that not everyone is persuaded that this is a good thing. So let me explain why EDF's 30-year experience in China has convinced me that this co-operation is an industrial opportunity with benefits reaching far beyond a single nuclear power station in Somerset.    In 1986, as a junior executive, I made my first visit to China as part of the EDF team which launched a partnership with Chinese companies to build that country's first nuclear power plants. Since then, the Chinese industry has developed to the point that China is planning to build almost one new nuclear power station a month as part of its effort to combat  climate  change.    The economic benefits of China's investment in our new nuclear plans will be shared amongst businesses and workers across the country. Hinkley Point C will mark the biggest inward investment in British history and create up to 25,000 jobs during construction. Some of these jobs will be in Somerset but many more will be created across the rest of the country, with British companies on target to win contracts worth more than 60pc of the value of Hinkley Point C's construction.    But new nuclear projects will not just boost British industry and skills here; they will also help the UK and France compete and win in a global nuclear market. British businesses such as Rolls-Royce and AMEC Foster Wheeler and their French counterparts are already doing business with the Chinese nuclear industry. Others are joining and forging new alliances. The supply chain conferences we have held in Beijing and Shanghai have accelerated the process.    The benefits of Chinese investment are not just economic. Britain will also profit from Chinese experience, earned through developing similar projects in China. At Taishan, a few hours west of Hong Kong, CGN, the Chinese nuclear company, and EDF are building two EPRs [European pressurised reactors] close in design to those planned for Hinkley Point and Sizewell. Chinese expertise is being gained by building and operating new nuclear power stations on a larger scale than anywhere else in the world.    We recognise the unique responsibilities of a nuclear operator and our approach is underpinned by our commitment to three core values: compliance with nuclear safety regulations, openness and transparency, and our contribution to society through job creation and skills development. We will not compromise on these values, and China's success here depends on the same principles.    The partnership with EDF will allow the Chinese companies progressively to gain this experience themselves and to embrace the same commitments, first by participating in Hinkley Point then at Sizewell in Suffolk, and finally at Bradwell in Essex. EDF will lead the first two projects and will be partners in the Chinese-led third. That is a win-win situation for the UK, China and France.    At the same time, safety is of the utmost importance to both EDF and our Chinese partners. Britain's Office for Nuclear Regulation is one of the most robust independent nuclear regulators in the world. No one can operate in the UK without its approval. All nuclear activities are tested and monitored to meet stringent safety and quality requirements. This extends from design and construction to operation. We know first-hand the rigour with which the regulator scrutinises reactor designs because we spent four years taking our EPR design through the Generic Design Assessment. Chinese companies will only be allowed to proceed with their technology if it passes the same scrutiny.    The future partnership is a real joining of forces - British, French and Chinese. Building Hinkley Point C will show the real and lasting benefits from such a partnership: low-carbon energy, at an affordable price, which makes a significant contribution to our economy. EDF and its Chinese partners will shoulder all the construction risks. Consumers will not pay a penny until the plant generates electricity.    That electricity will be vital for the UK's future prosperity. More than 35pc of our remaining generation capacity will close down by the end of 2030. The majority of the replacement generation capacity needs to be lowcarbon and it needs to be reliable. Without new nuclear power, we would be left trying to fill the gap with intermittent wind or solar generation. Even if it were possible to manage, it would cost consumers at least 10pc more. If we choose gas instead, we face uncertain commodity prices, we increase our reliance on imported fuel and we would pump millions more tonnes of carbon into the air.    The upside for consumers, companies and communities of close collaboration between international partners is clear. Coming a few months before the COP 21  climate  change conference in Paris, it would be good news for the planet too.    Vincent de Rivaz CBE is the chief executive of EDF Energy    'This is a win-winwin situation for the UK, China and France'                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-12 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Using Up Earth's Fossil Fuels Would Destroy All Ice, Research Says      By JUSTIN GILLIS            Burning all the world's deposits of coal, oil and natural gas would raise the temperature enough to melt the entire ice sheet covering Antarctica, driving the level of the sea up by more than 160 feet, scientists reported Friday.    In a major surprise to the scientists, they found that half the melting could occur in as little as a thousand years, causing the ocean to rise by something on the order of a foot per decade, roughly 10 times the rate at which it is rising now. Such a pace would almost certainly throw human society into chaos, forcing a rapid retreat from the world's coastal cities.    The rest of the earth's land ice would melt along with Antarctica, and warming ocean waters would expand, so that the total rise of the sea would likely exceed 200 feet, the scientists said.    "To be blunt: If we burn it all, we melt it all," said Ricarda Winkelmann, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for  Climate  Impact Research in Germany and the lead author of a paper published Friday in the journal Science Advances.    A sea level rise of 200 feet would put almost all of Florida, much of Louisiana and Texas, the entire East Coast of the United States, large parts of Britain, much of the European Plain, and huge parts of coastal Asia under water. The cities lost would include Miami, New Orleans, Houston, Washington, New York, Amsterdam, Stockholm, London, Paris, Berlin, Venice, Buenos Aires, Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney, Rome and Tokyo.    Nobody alive today, nor even their grandchildren, would live to see such a calamity unfold, given the time the melting would take. Yet the new study gives a sense of the risks that future generations face if emissions of greenhouse gases are not brought under control.    "This is humanity as a geologic force," said Ken Caldeira, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif., and another author of the paper. "We're not a subtle influence on the  climate  system -- we are really hitting it with a hammer."    Climate  scientists have long assumed that countries would recognize the dangers of continuing to dig up and burn the world's fossil fuels. Yet they have been saying that for 30 years, and political efforts in that time to limit the burning have been ineffectual.    With a major push from President Obama, the nations of the world will convene in Paris in December in another attempt to reach an ambitious deal for reducing emissions. Yet Mr. Obama faces fierce opposition from the Republican Party in putting limits into effect in the United States, which uses more fossil fuels per person than any other large country.    The long-running political gridlock has prompted scientists to start thinking about worst-case scenarios. And recently, major advances have been made in the computerized analysis of the huge ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland.    The researchers involved in Friday's paper decided to use one of these ice-sheet models to attempt the most detailed analysis yet of the potential consequences of burning all fossil fuels. As the first of its kind, the paper is likely to undergo intense scientific scrutiny.    In certain ways, the findings are reassuring. They offer no reason, for instance, to revise the sea-level forecast for the coming century.    A United Nations panel has said that the rise of the sea would not likely exceed three feet in that period, and would probably be less. While some island nations may be wiped out by a rise of that magnitude, experts believe most major cities could be protected from it, though at a likely cost in the trillions of dollars.    The ice sheets respond slowly enough to changes in the  climate  that it simply takes longer than a century for large-scale melting to begin. But from that point, the paper found, about half the Antarctic ice sheet would melt or fall into the sea in the first thousand years.    "I didn't expect it would go so fast," Dr. Caldeira said. "To melt all of Antarctica, I thought it would take something like 10,000 years."    The more basic finding that the whole ice sheet could eventually melt is less surprising, at least to scientists who specialize in studying the history of the earth. "As a paleoclimate person, I don't feel like this is necessarily a shock to me," said Robert E. Kopp, a professor of earth system history at Rutgers University, who studies sea level but was not involved in the new research.    Paleoclimatologists have established that Antarctica was once a lush, green continent, icing over only in the past 35 million years, amid a general cooling of the world's  climate  . Moreover, rates of sea level rise like those outlined in the paper have occurred in the past.    Human civilization is built on the premise that the level of the sea is stable, as indeed it has been for several thousand years. But the deeper history of the earth reveals enormous shifts, on the order of a hundred feet or more within a few thousand years.    Sea levels far higher than those of today have been documented at more than a thousand sites around the world. Along the East Coast, seashells from just 3 million years ago can be dug up by the shovel-full a hundred miles inland from the current shore.    Studying this evidence, scientists concluded long ago that the great ice sheets are sensitive to small changes in the earth's average temperature, caused by wobbles in its orbit around the sun. They believe that human emissions are about to produce a large change.    Though the  climate  is still in the earliest stages of this shift, the ice sheets in both Greenland and the low-lying, western part of Antarctica are already showing serious signs of instability.    The higher, colder ice sheet in eastern Antarctica, by far the largest chunk of land ice on the planet, had long been assumed to be more stable. But for several years, evidence has been accumulating that at least large parts of that ice sheet are vulnerable, too.    The new study confirms previous findings that how much of the world's ice will melt is closely linked to how much total fossil fuel humans burn. These studies suggest that a rapid shift away from those fuels over coming decades would preserve much of the ice, or at least slow the melting drastically.    On the other hand, if the use of fossil fuels were to continue rising at the same rate it rose over the past century, the estimated deposits would be burned by about the middle of the 22nd century, Dr. Caldeira said, and complete destruction of the world's land ice would be well underway.    The exact timing is open to question, he said, but "the idea that most of it would melt, I believe, is a robust result."    Scientists focus on melting ice in part because the consequences are relatively easy to visualize. But if anything like the scenario in the paper were to play out in the real world, the problems would go far beyond a rise of the sea and a retreat from the coasts.    In a rough calculation, the scientists found that burning all fossil fuels might raise the average temperature of the planet by something like 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Past research suggests that an increase that enormous would likely render vast stretches of the earth too hot and humid for human habitation, cause food production to collapse, and drive much of the plant and animal life of the planet to extinction.    In interviews, scientists said that such long-term risks raise profound moral questions for people of today.    "What right do we have to do things that, even if they don't affect us, are going to be someone else's problem a thousand years from now?" asked Ian Joughin, an ice sheet expert at the University of Washington who was not involved in the new research. "Is it fair to do that so we can go on burning fuel as fast as we can?"              Figure(s) :      PHOTO: Ice sheets are sensitive to changes in the earth's average temperature. Above, a chunk of ice splits from a glacier in Antarctica. (PHOTOGRAPH BY RALPH LEE HOPKINS/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CREATIVE)             

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-09-14 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Get ready for cooler summers ... thanks to global warming      By Emily Gosden            FOR those hoping global warming might at least mean an improvement in the British summer, meteorologists have spotted clouds on the horizon.    The "pause" in global warming may indeed be about to end, a Met Office study suggests, but changes in the Atlantic Ocean mean that Britain might actually experience cooler summers.    Global average surface temperatures rose rapidly in the last decades of the 20th century but have been relatively flat since 1998, prompting claims from  climate  sceptics that global warming is no longer happening.    The Met Office report finds that recent patterns in the  climate  are "consistent with a resumption of warming". Last year has been rated the warmest on record and so far in 2015 temperatures have also been "at or near record levels". This is forecast to continue into 2016, which will also be "very warm".    "The world is warming again," said Prof Adam Scaife, head of monthly to decadal forecasting at the Met Office. "We can't be sure this is the end of the slowdown, but decadal warming rates are likely to reach late-20th century levels within two years."    Despite that prediction, likely changes to the  climate  in the North Atlantic Ocean could lead to cooler summers in the UK. Prof Rowan Sutton, of the University of Reading, who peer-reviewed the Met Office's paper, said it was "quite likely" that sea surface temperatures would actually decrease in absolute terms in the region. Prof Sutton said that "would favour cooler and possibly drier summers in northern Europe".    He said he thought it was "likely" that "we would see an absolute cooling - actually summers getting cooler than they have been recently" but insisted this was not a "forecast" because other factors - such as rising global surface temperatures - could change that.    A cooler North Atlantic could result in some "recovery" in sea ice in the Labrador and possibly Nordic seas, he added. "This does not mean we are headed for the next ice age," he said. "We are talking about a modest cooling but it is potentially enough to affect weather patterns."    Scientists have attributed the recent slowdown in warming to heat being absorbed in the oceans, and to a series of small volcanic eruptions. Prof Scaife said: "The global temperature has risen over the recent period, just not as fast. What we are seeing is a resumption in the rate of increase of that warming."    Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and  Climate  Change, said: "  Climate  change is one of the most serious threats facing our world and that's why the UK will be pushing for a strong global deal in Paris later this year."                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-08-25 *am_2015-08 *annee_2015 
Friends of the Earth CEO Craig Bennett: 'Now is the time to listen to ordinary people again'              For someone who spent the night celebrating a Welsh community’s rejection of a giant opencast coal mine, Craig Bennett seems pretty clear-headed.    The new head of Friends of the Earth (FoE) may not have known the words of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the Welsh national anthem, but he sang them along with ex-miners in the Blast Furnace Inn pub in Pontlottyn, he says, and the experience of working with them and others to reject the Nant Llesg mine rammed home the point that environmental groups must become relevant again to all kinds of people.    Related: Welsh council rejects plans for new opencast coal mine    “We were one gang together in the Blast Furnace,” he says. “The point is, the Nant Llesg mine was going to extract 6m tonnes of coal, and it’s obviously a massive  climate  change issue. But for local people it’s much more than that. It’s an air pollution and a health issue because of the dust it would cause; it’s an economic issue because of the jobs needed; it’s a social justice issue because all this Welsh community had been offered was more dirty jobs by a bully-boy company. It’s completely artificial to think that it’s only a  climate  issue.”    Bennett doesn’t really look like your archetypal environmental campaigner. The 43-year-old is that new mix of suited radical and optimistic New Establishment man. His parents were grammar school-educated, out of London’s East End and southern Essex. He talks quickly and directly, like a campaigner rather than an administrator, as if there’s no time to spend yakking in roundtable groups, drinking warm white wine with policy wonks or schmoozing civil servants. He has a few stock phrases – such as “we have history on our side” – but he seems not to have learned the lines of the civil servant or the thrusting politician.    But that raises difficult questions about how best to make an impact. And this week a larger concern reared its head, one that will test his and his organisation’s strategy to its limits. For if resisting coal mining gets Bennett singing in Welsh, large-scale fracking in Britain could have him Mongolian throat chanting, so passionately does he oppose it on so many grounds.    This week the government announced plans to open a further 1,000sq miles of rural Britain to drilling and to limit opposition to a few weeks. Aside from thinking it a travesty of democracy, he can see re-runs of the 1990s road protests, and the unlikeliest people manning the barricades.    “I would expect massive protests. Government will need thousands of wells to be drilled if they are to meet their promises of lower energy bills, but huge opposition has built up just over the industry’s first few attempts. Multiply those protests by thousands.”    “I am particularly concerned about  climate  change, but local people are right to be worried about everything else. If someone wanted to frack my street, my immediate concern would be noise and air pollution and the threat to water. I totally understand these are the primary concerns of local people. But what we have found in communities threatened by fracking in Lancashire is that they all get the  climate  change issue, too.”    The days when environmentalists cosied up to Whitehall and political parties are over, he says. “In the 1970 and 80s, groups like Friends of the Earth connected to people’s lives. In the 2000s we were successful with policies and we were listened to in government. Now is the time to listen to ordinary people again,” he says.    “I think we all got too much into a bubble, spent too much time with policy wonks and forgot about people. We were campaigning [on  climate  ] about parts per million and percentage-point reductions. But I wish 10 years ago we had spent more time pushing community energy. There’s a way of talking about  climate  change and we got out of touch – we didn’t connect with people’s lives. We [sometimes] look at things from an organisational point of view rather than what they mean to most people. We must not lose our connection with the mass of people.”    Related: The nine green policies killed off by the Tory government    No chance of getting too close to government now, he says. “George Osborne is unleashing an ideological war on all things green. He is dismantling policies that have taken a generation to put together. Cameron is playing to the ideology of the swivel-eyed loons in the Conservative party, throwing bones to its backbenchers. Amber Rudd [energy and  climate  change secretary] is an ideological hypocrite of the first order. It’s obscene to think that they will get away with what they are doing.    “I don’t hold out too much hope with this government, although we should not forget that Conservative governments in the past have introduced landmark policies.”    It’s open war now with Cameron and co, he says, and he wants to lead the attack from the front. “They started it. We have to go back to the trenches, use the older tactics. It’s back to the future. This government is completely out of touch. Politicians talking to politicians do not understand what is going on. They have declared war on renewables [such as wind and solar power] but everyone supports them. They have backed fracking but no one wants it. We have people on our side everywhere.    “I see politicians here just cutting and pasting old ideology from the US. They say fracking will work here because it did there. This is old thinking, they are stuck on repeat. Let’s move on.”    A true child of the modern movement, and almost the same age as Friends of the Earth itself, Bennett joined the group at 14, the day after hearing its then director Jonathon Porritt on Question Time (“How sad is that?” he asks), and thinking he was the only person on the panel making sense.    Knowing he only ever wanted to stop the war on nature, he started at the Environmental Investigation Agency after a masters at UCL, then went to work for FoE in his 20s. His first job was to protect his own patch, Rainham Marshes. In those days even his family thought it a dump. But last month he went back and saw a completely different landscape. “If we can turn places like Rainham Marshes from being seen as a dump into somewhere where there are water voles, and which tens of thousands of people visit every year, we can do anything.”    Chuck in three years’ lecturing on environment and corporate responsibility at Oxford, Cambridge, and other universities and business schools, and Bennett is the very model of a modern eco-general.    But Friends of the Earth is unlike most green organisations: it is not given to charismatic leaders or smooth talking. Rooted in its many local groups, which range from small clubs for retired radicals to passionate new critics of the status quo, they identify 300,000 supporters who all want change, but mostly think for themselves. These groups, says Bennett, will be on the frontline of the coming protests at Tory policies, and out of them will emerge the grassroots leaders who will bring lasting change.    Related: Anti-fracking protests in Lancashire – in pictures    “How will change come in the next 20 years when there’s such a great distrust of politicians, even despair at them,” he asks. He answers himself. “Leadership will come from communities, not from politicians. Change will come from smaller, upstart businesses and groups.”    But it means the group must shed its white, middle-class roots and harness emerging communities to drive change. That might mean getting football supporters to monitor the emissions of clubs, city professionals to push for an increase in renewable energy investments, or inner-city communities to monitor air pollution, he says.    “We have missed the health trick,” he says. “We have strong health and environment sectors, but there’s not much collaboration between them. It’s a scandal that we have 30-50,000 people dying prematurely from air pollution. That is the equivalent of an Airbus crashing every week. If that happened there would be immediate change.”    “I want to see Bangladeshi, business, cycling, even baking [groups in] Friends of the Earth. Why not? There are lots of people into baking who also care about the environment. They could come together for a few days of the year. It’s not for us to say, ‘This is our definition of community.’    “But it means a change of approach and tactics. We should get back to social enterprise. Our local groups led the way in the 1970s and 80s to make recycling possible. We want to make things happen. We have to change the pace and raise the temperature.    “Back in the 70s and 80s, we had to make a big noise, to shout at tables with a megaphone. Now the vast majority of people are with us. We are on the side of history now. Any big social change in history is never smooth. The slave owners used similar language as the  climate  deniers do today – saying they had to keep it going or the industry would collapse.”    He has been approached by two political parties, but has little faith in them, and no inclination to join. “I have spent a lifetime waiting for a green JFK to come along. He won’t. I have given up waiting for political leadership. I have given up thinking that big organisations might move to a low-carbon economy. It doesn’t fit the business model,” he says.    Nor do big solutions fit the future, he says. “What I have learned is that there’s no solution to  climate  change that can be done  to  people. Fracking, nuclear and coal will not endure because they do not have communities with them.”    Back in the the Blast Furnace pub, he committed the group to working with local communities who oppose coal and fracking companies. It could mean giving them legal help, or even crowdfunding to help them raise money.    “We can bring our professional expertise to work in partnership with them. We can’t walk away from them. We fully expect the bully boys to come back to and appeal against the council decision to reject the mine, but we told the community we would be with them every step of the way.    “My generation has to have a vision of restoration, of turning the whole direction of travel”, he says. “We don’t want to just slow the decline. We want a positive future. We mustn’t listen to the naysayers.”                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-16 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Malcolm Turnbull Takes Helm as Australian Prime Minister      By MICHELLE INNIS            SYDNEY, Australia -- When Malcolm Turnbull was sworn in on Tuesday, he did not only become Australia's 29th prime minister -- he also became its fourth in just over two years. His three immediate predecessors were ousted by their own parties, including Tony Abbott, who was forced out Monday in a leadership challenge led by Mr. Turnbull.    Now that Mr. Turnbull, a wealthy lawyer and former investment banker, has the country's top job, his main challenge is clear, said Hugh White, an intelligence analyst who from 1985 to 1991 advised Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Defense Minister Kim Beazley.    "The key question is whether he can run an effective government," Mr. White said. "That hasn't happened since 2007."    With Australia's next election less than a year away, the governing Liberal Party -- which, despite its name, is conservative -- rejected the deeply unpopular Mr. Abbott in favor of Mr. Turnbull, a comparatively centrist figure whose views on  climate  change and other issues are more in line with Australian public opinion.    But Mr. Turnbull will have to lead not only the lawmakers in his own party -- 44 of whom did not vote for him on Monday night, against 54 who did -- but also a country where policy in recent years often seems to have been made on the run, and often in response to flagging opinion polls.    Australia's current political turmoil dates from the Labor Party government of Kevin Rudd, who became prime minister in 2007.    Mr. Rudd was ousted in an internal party coup in 2010 and replaced by Julia Gillard, Australia's first female prime minister. As Ms. Gillard's poll numbers fell, the party reinstalled Mr. Rudd months before the election of 2013, which Mr. Abbott's conservative coalition won.    Already a polarizing figure when he took office, Mr. Abbott saw his popularity decline amid a slowing economy as he made a series of political missteps and alienated many voters with his strongly conservative stances and often abrasive style.    His combative manner contributed to his government's inability to get major budget measures through the lower and upper houses of Parliament.    Proposed university overhauls, widely disliked by voters, stalled in Parliament, and a paid parental leave plan and a co-payment for visits to the doctor covered by Australia's Medicare system were either amended or dropped by the government, which could not negotiate the passage of the legislation.    Bob Gregory, a professor of economics at Australian National University, said Mr. Turnbull's task would be largely one of communication. "What Mr. Turnbull has to do is straightforward," Mr. Gregory said. "He's got to explain things. You've no idea how powerful that is."    In his pitch for the job, Mr. Turnbull promised to consult with colleagues and the public more often, saying Australians need advocacy from their leader, and not slogans.    That will include managing the Liberals' governing coalition with the smaller, more conservative National Party, which is unlikely to embrace attempts by Mr. Turnbull to move to the center.    Mr. Gregory said he expected few policy changes from Mr. Turnbull in the short term. Indeed, in his first session of Parliament as prime minister on Tuesday, Mr. Turnbull made it clear that on at least two issues over which he has criticized Mr. Abbott in the past --  climate  change and same-sex marriage -- his predecessor's policies would continue.    Mr. Turnbull, who once used an expletive to describe Mr. Abbott's  climate  -change policies, said that carbon emissions reduction targets Mr. Abbott recently proposed, which have been criticized as inadequate by scientists and environmentalists, were "very substantial."    And he reiterated that the question of legalizing same-sex marriage would be put to a public vote after the next election, a proposal of Mr. Abbott's that his critics had called an attempt to dodge that issue by taking it out of Parliament. Mr. Turnbull -- who, like most Australians but unlike Mr. Abbott, supports same-sex marriage -- said last month that he would have voted to legalize it had Liberal Party members been allowed to stray from the party line on the issue.    John Hewson, a former Liberal Party leader, said  climate  change was the party's biggest moral, social, political and economic challenge. He said that Mr. Turnbull would have to persuade more conservative members of his coalition to move further with him on dealing with the issue, toward which the Abbott government showed its firm attitude this summer by moving to halt government investment in wind farms and domestic-scale solar projects.    "There are not too many growth sectors in the economy," Mr. Hewson said. "I never understood why they moved to close down renewables. Basically, what Mr. Abbott did resulted in a fall in investment in that sector of 80 to 90 percent and a loss of 15,000 jobs. Why would you do that when you're looking for growth sectors to replace mining?"    Mr. Hewson said he hoped Mr. Turnbull would reverse the government's lack of support for renewable energy projects, even if it could not change emissions targets before an international conference on  climate  change in Paris later this year.    "He has got great rhetoric," Mr. Gregory said of Mr. Turnbull. "He won't pull out a magical new agenda that isn't there. But he will be able to fix things with a few words. He will make things happen."    Mr. Turnbull became a nationally known lawyer during the 1980s, when he fought the British government's attempt to stop the publication in Australia of a memoir by a former British intelligence agent. During the 1990s, he was a venture capitalist and head of the Goldman Sachs investment bank in Australia. In 1994, he bought a stake in the Internet service provider Ozemail, which he later sold for millions of dollars. First elected to Parliament in 2004, he is believed to be one of Australia's richest lawmakers ever.    Still, he has often been dismissed as a "silvertail," as Australians call an extremely rich person. He lives in a harborside mansion in the suburban Sydney district of Wentworth, one of Australia's wealthiest. He attended an elite private school in Sydney, though he was a scholarship student and has said that his father struggled with his school fees.    Mr. White described Mr. Turnbull as a "terrifically passionate person" with a strong drive and a formidable intellect, especially where policy is concerned. "He came to politics late, and he is not an ideological warrior," Mr. White said, characterizing the new prime minister as a foreign policy buff and deeply engaged on the question of China's changing role in the region and its relationship with the United States.    "Mr. Turnbull has a strong record for making stuff happen," Mr. White said. "There is hope that he will be better placed than his predecessors at running a good government."                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-13 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
The Next Genocide      By TIMOTHY SNYDER            New Haven -- BEFORE he fired the shot, the Einsatzgruppe commander lifted the Jewish child in the air and said, "You must die so that we can live." As the killing proceeded, other Germans rationalized the murder of Jewish children in the same way: them or us.    Today we think of the Nazi Final Solution as some dark apex of high technology. It was in fact the killing of human beings at close range during a war for resources. The war that brought Jews under German control was fought because Hitler believed that Germany needed more land and food to survive and maintain its standard of living -- and that Jews, and their ideas, posed a threat to his violent expansionist program.    The Holocaust may seem a distant horror whose lessons have already been learned. But sadly, the anxieties of our own era could once again give rise to scapegoats and imagined enemies, while contemporary environmental stresses could encourage new variations on Hitler's ideas, especially in countries anxious about feeding their growing populations or maintaining a rising standard of living.    The quest for German domination was premised on the denial of science. Hitler's alternative to science was the idea of Lebensraum. Germany needed an Eastern European empire because only conquest, and not agricultural technology, offered the hope of feeding the German people. In Hitler's "Second Book," which was composed in 1928 and not published until after his death, he insisted that hunger would outstrip crop improvements and that all "the scientific methods of land management" had already failed. No conceivable improvement would allow Germans to be fed "from their own land and territory," he claimed. Hitler specifically -- and wrongly -- denied that irrigation, hybrids and fertilizers could change the relationship between people and land.    The pursuit of peace and plenty through science, he claimed in "Mein Kampf," was a Jewish plot to distract Germans from the necessity of war. "It is always the Jew," argued Hitler, "who seeks and succeeds in implanting such lethal ways of thinking."    As exotic as it sounds, the concept of Lebensraum is less distant from our own ways of thinking than we believe. Germany was blockaded during World War I, dependent on imports of agricultural commodities and faced real uncertainties about its food supply. Hitler transformed these fears into a vision of absolute conquest for total security. Lebensraum linked a war of extermination to the improvement of lifestyle. The chief Nazi propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, could therefore define the purpose of a war of extermination as "a big breakfast, a big lunch and a big dinner." He conflated lifestyle with life.    To expand Germany's Lebensraum, Hitler aimed to seize Ukraine from the Soviet Union, starve 30 million Eastern Europeans and transfer the food to Germany. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the campaign had two major aims: the control of fertile Ukrainian soil and the destruction of Jews living there. It was this invasion that placed defenseless Jewish children at the mercy of the murderous Einsatzgruppen.    Climate  change threatens to provoke a new ecological panic. So far, poor people in Africa and the Middle East have borne the brunt of the suffering.    The mass murder of at least 500,000 Rwandans in 1994 followed a decline in agricultural production for several years before. Hutus killed Tutsis not only out of ethnic hatred, but to take their land, as many genocidaires later admitted.    In Sudan, drought drove Arabs into the lands of African pastoralists in 2003. The Sudanese government sided with the Arabs and pursued a policy of eliminating the Zaghawa, Masalit and Fur peoples in Darfur and surrounding regions.    Climate  change has also brought uncertainties about food supply back to the center of great power politics. China today, like Germany before the war, is an industrial power incapable of feeding its population from its own territory, and is thus dependent on unpredictable international markets.    This could make China's population susceptible to a revival of ideas like Lebensraum. The Chinese government must balance a not-so-distant history of starving its own population with today's promise of ever-increasing prosperity -- all while confronting increasingly unfavorable environmental conditions. The danger is not that the Chinese might actually starve to death in the near future, any more than Germans would have during the 1930s. The risk is that a developed country able to project military power could, like Hitler's Germany, fall into ecological panic, and take drastic steps to protect its existing standard of living.    How might such a scenario unfold? China is already leasing a tenth of Ukraine's arable soil, and buying up food whenever global supplies tighten. During the drought of 2010, Chinese panic buying helped bring bread riots and revolution to the Middle East. The Chinese leadership already regards Africa as a long-term source of food. Although many Africans themselves still go hungry, their continent holds about half of the world's untilled arable land. Like China, the United Arab Emirates and South Korea are interested in Sudan's fertile regions -- and they have been joined by Japan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in efforts to buy or lease land throughout Africa.    Nations in need of land would likely begin with tactfully negotiated leases or purchases; but under conditions of stress or acute need, such agrarian export zones could become fortified colonies, requiring or attracting violence.    Hitler spread ecological panic by claiming that only land would bring Germany security and by denying the science that promised alternatives to war. By polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, the United States has done more than any other nation to bring about the next ecological panic, yet it is the only country where  climate  science is still resisted by certain political and business elites. These deniers tend to present the empirical findings of scientists as a conspiracy and question the validity of science -- an intellectual stance that is uncomfortably close to Hitler's.    The full consequences of  climate  change may reach America only decades after warming wreaks havoc in other regions. And by then it will be too late for  climate  science and energy technology to make any difference. Indeed, by the time the door is open to the demagogy of ecological panic in the United States, Americans will have spent years spreading  climate  disaster around the world.              Figure(s) :      PHOTOS: In Bangladesh, millions of people have been displaced by floods and the rising sea level. (PHOTOGRAPH BY KADIR VAN LOHUIZEN/NOOR, FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES); In Sudan, drought led to conflict and the displacement of many civilians. (PHOTOGRAPH BY LYNSEY ADDARIO FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES)          Note(s) :  A professor of history at Yale University and the author of "Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning."           

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-15 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Too early to say if fracking is good for the UK, says taskforce              It is too soon to say whether shale gas fracking would be a “good thing” for the UK, the chief of the taskforce on shale gas has said. Lord Smith of Finsbury, better known as former Labour MP Chris Smith, said the industry had not been transparent enough and that it would take time to reassure the public about the technology.    But Smith said that fracking would be acceptable if certain conditions were met, including a tightening of regulations and monitoring set out in a report from the taskforce on Wednesday. The report found that fracking was safe, for human health and the environment, but only if properly regulated.    Smith maintained that big hurdles still remained before he could give fracking a clean bill of health, chief among these the question of its effect on  climate  change. “We have not yet concluded that fracking is a good idea for the UK. We still have to look at  climate  change, and the economics. It would be premature to make conclusions yet on whether it is a good or bad thing. If someone demonstrated that developing this industry in the UK would mean a substantial raising of greenhouse gas emissions, that would be a showstopper.”    Smith added that public opinion was still divided on the issue, in part because of a lack of transparency and public engagement from fracking companies until recently. “In the early days, mistakes were made, especially in transparency. That has coloured what has happened since, and people’s views. It will take time for people to be reassured.”    Fracking is the practice of blasting dense shale rock with a mixture of sand, water and chemicals, opening up tiny fissures in the rock to release the microscopic bubbles of methane gas trapped within, which can then be gathered at the surface. It is controversial because some fracking operations in the US have been associated with pollution, and in the UK it has caused minor earth tremors, but proponents argue that it will create a new indigenous gas source for the UK.    The report from the taskforce, a body that is independent but funded by the industry, set out several measures necessary to ensure fracking would not cause pollution, or other adverse environmental impacts, and protect public health. These included mandatory “green completion” on fracking wells, which means collecting more than 90% of the methane that can leak from wells. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with an effect on the  climate  many times more than that of carbon dioxide.    Related: Q  : shale gas and fracking    The regulator, which the report advocates should be a unified body rather than the fragmented system at present, should also ensure that “the very highest standards” are adhered to in the construction of wells. The only well yet to have been fracked in the UK, in Lancaster by Cuadrilla, was later found to have a slightly deformed casing, perhaps as a result of the small earthquake it caused.    All the chemicals used by any fracking company must also be disclosed to the public, not just to the Environment Agency as happens at present, according to the report. The injection underground of flowback water should not be used, as this has caused small earthquakes in the US.    A national committee should also be set up, independent from the regulator, to monitor data from shale gas fracking operations and assess any public health impacts. The taskforce also recommended making it easier to carry out monitoring of fracking activities from the very first stages, after a potential site is identified, in part by loosening planning regulations so that the drilling of monitoring wells would not need specific planning permission, as it does at present.    Lord Smith, former chairman of the Environment Agency, said the object of the report, the second of four parts, was to clarify some of the main issues around fracking so that members of the public could make up their own minds. “Some people are very clearly against, and some people are very clearly for, but most of the public are probably feeling they don’t have sufficient information to make a reasoned judgement.”    Related: Fracking subsidies would be better spent elsewhere | Letters    Ken Cronin, chief executive of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, which represents the industry, said: “The report highlighted a number of areas we have already considered and taken action on. I was particularly pleased to note the taskforce is satisfied that the risk levels associated with public health hazards are acceptable provided the well is properly drilled, protected, monitored and regulated.”    Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth said: “Tougher rules can only make fracking safer, not safe. This dangerous technology will always carry risks for the local environment and people’s health, as well as adding to  climate  change – so no amount of regulation or industry-funded taskforces will make people embrace fracking.”    The next section of the taskforce’s study, which will deal with the effects on  climate  change, is to be published in September.                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-03 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Obama Takes  Climate  Message Where Change Is Rapid      By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS            KOTZEBUE, Alaska -- In this native village situated on a gravel spit above the Arctic Circle, life is changing more quickly than the Alaskans who have lived off the land and water here for thousands of years can keep pace with.    "The ice is the biggest thing," said Dominic Ivanoff, 28, a leader of Kotzebue's tribal council. He used to need two foot-long auger extensions to cut holes through the thick ice when he went fishing in April. Now, he said, the ice is thin enough that he needs none.    The situation is even more severe in smaller villages surrounding this remote slice of northwest Alaska, where  climate  change is not a political talking point or a theoretical scientific phenomenon but a punishing everyday reality. Some communities are sinking into the water, as erosion and melting permafrost wash away their foundations.    It was here that President Obama arrived on Wednesday to deliver his alarm-sounding message about the warming of the planet -- a phenomenon occurring twice as quickly in Alaska as in the rest of the United States -- bringing with him promises of new aid for Arctic communities whose shorelines and infrastructure are crumbling because of rising temperatures.    In a history-making stop -- the first presidential visit to Arctic Alaska -- Mr. Obama delivered a speech laying out new federal efforts to help these communities cope with coastal erosion and high energy costs and, in some extreme cases, relocate altogether.    Coming at the end of a trip he used to call attention to the challenge of  climate  change and to rally support in the United States and globally to address it, the announcement of the new efforts was a bid to draw attention to places that are feeling the effects most acutely.    "If your people are in a dire situation, if you allow whole communities to no longer exist, that reflects you as a leader," said Diane Ramoth of Sewalik, an inland village of 900 people that has been trying for 10 years to relocate to higher ground but has struggled to find the money to do it. "Our village is going to be under water."    On the mostly gravel and dirt streets of this town surrounded by water, where caribou and moose antlers adorn wooden houses on pilings and where pickup trucks and all-terrain vehicles are the mode of transportation of choice, residents said they were grateful for the focus Mr. Obama was putting on their difficulties, and for the new promises of federal support.    Townspeople flocked under a gray sky to a gymnasium here to see Mr. Obama, many of them wearing brightly colored traditional Inuit parkas known as atigluks.    "If there becomes, as a result of all of this, a focal point where communities that are really facing the brunt of this  climate  change crisis can go to get their issues addressed or get answers or make their case, that would be the best that could come of this," said Reggie Joule, the mayor of the Northwest Arctic Borough. "It means that America has chosen to engage in a way that can help our people, and we have a president at the helm saying that these are important issues."    But there is also a hefty dose of skepticism from a native population that has often felt ignored, marginalized and victimized by the federal and state governments, and a sense that Mr. Obama's efforts do not come close to meeting their urgent needs.    The president announced that the Denali Commission, the federal agency that coordinates government assistance to communities in Alaska, would oversee short- and long-term programs to safeguard and repair the coastal villages, and was committing $2 million to such initiatives, including "voluntary relocation efforts, where appropriate."    "What is $2 million going to give us?" Ms. Ramoth said with a rueful smile. "A dream?"    At the borough hall on Third Avenue, not far from the sea wall built three years ago to cope with storm surges made worse by a rising sea, tribal leaders said  climate  change was affecting every aspect of their lives, fulfilling age-old prophecies of the transformations that would follow the arrival of white people in Alaska.    "That Maniilaq prophecy said things would change, and now we're seeing the change to  climate  ," said Merle Custer of Shungnak, referring to an Inupiat healer and prophet who is said to have predicted in the 19th century, before Europeans arrived in Arctic Alaska, that white people would come and transform the world, bringing boats that were powered by fire or flew in the air. "It's changing fast."    Earlier, in Dillingham, where Mr. Obama visited with fishermen and clapped along and joined in as schoolchildren dressed in native attire performed Yup'ik dances, he spoke of the importance of preserving ancient traditions and livelihoods.    "It represents not just a critical way of life that has to be preserved, but it also represents one of the most important natural resources that the United States has," Mr. Obama said of subsistence salmon fishing in Bristol Bay. "This is one of the reasons why we have shut off oil and gas exploration in this region. It is too fragile, and it is too important."    But in Kotzebue, where bearded seals bobbed their heads above the water and dived for fish in the bay, the issue of energy exploration is less clear cut. Oil and gas drilling is an important economic driver. Royal Dutch Shell has parked equipment nearby and situated some staff members in the village, and Mr. Obama's recent decision to allow drilling a few hundred miles north in the Chukchi Sea is popular.    "It's a double-edged sword for us, because we know that the industry does help to create  climate  change, but we understand that it's going to do that anyway, and if it has to happen, we want our people to benefit from that development," said Maija Lukin, the mayor of Kotzebue.    Mr. Obama briefly diverted Air Force One on its way to Kotzebue to fly over the isolated barrier island of Kivalina, which is increasingly at risk of being wiped out by erosion and storm surges.    "If another country threatened to wipe out an American town, we'd do everything in our power to protect it," Mr. Obama told a crowd in Kotzebue that greeted him with seal barks, a traditional native Alaskan cheer. "Well,  climate  change poses the same threat right now."    He was introduced by Millie Hawley, a tribal leader from Kivalina, who put the matter in stark terms, saying the eight-mile island she calls home may soon be underwater.    "My current home may not exist 10 years from now," she said.              Figure(s) :      PHOTO: President Obama with commercial fishermen, holding a silver salmon, on a beach in Dillingham, Alaska, on Wednesday. (PHOTOGRAPH BY DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES)             

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-08-30 *am_2015-08 *annee_2015 
Obama defends Arctic drilling decision on eve of Alaska  climate  change trip              Barack Obama has been forced to defend his decision to allow the hunt for oil in the last great wilderness of the Arctic, on the eve of an historic visit to Alaska intended to spur the fight against  climate  change.    Related: Extreme Arctic sea ice melt forces thousands of walruses ashore in Alaska    The three-day tour – which will include a hike across a shrinking glacier and visits to coastal communities buffeted by sea-level rise and erosion – was intended to showcase the real-time effects of  climate  change.    But a defensive White House was forced to push back against campaigners who accuse Obama of undermining his environmental agenda by giving the go-ahead to Shell to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea, only weeks after rolling out his signature  climate  change plan.    Obama, in his weekly address on Saturday, insisted there was no clash between his  climate  change agenda and Arctic drilling.    America was beginning to get off fossil fuels, he said. But Obama went on: “Our economy still has to rely on oil and gas. As long as that’s the case, I believe we should rely more on domestic production than on foreign imports.”    The challenges of protecting the Arctic from  climate  change as well as the risks of offshore drilling were both on full display on the eve of Obama’s visit.    Disappearing sea ice cover forced an estimated 6,000 walruses, mainly females and their young, to come to shore on a remote barrier island off the Chukchi Sea, US government officials said on Friday.    Meanwhile, Shell was forced to pause its drilling in the Chukchi and evacuate workers “because of extreme weather conditions”, a company spokesman said in an email.    Obama defended the drilling operation, saying: “We don’t rubber-stamp permits.”    The president had hoped to use his visit to showcase the changes unfolding in the Arctic, which is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, the White House said.    “This is an issue that is very here and now,” Brian Deese, a senior White House advisor told a conference call with reporters on Friday. “Near and above the Arctic circle the impacts of  climate  change are particular pronounced and Americans are living with those impacts in real time.”    He said Obama would use the visit to draw public attention to those consequences: the retreat of sea ice, land loss due to melting permafrost and coastal erosion, increasingly severe storms and growing risk of wildfires.    The president will also highlight the risks to Alaska’s tiny coastal communities, some of which could be forced to relocate because of  climate  change. A number have already chosen to move but have no funds to do so.    But campaign groups said Obama was sabotaging his own mission by giving the go-ahead to Shell to hunt for oil.    “There is a very obvious contradiction between meaningful action to address  climate  change and continued exploration for remote and difficult hydrocarbon resources,” said Michael LeVine, Arctic campaigner for Oceana.    “Moving forward with exploiting Arctic oil and gas is inconsistent with the Administration’s stated goal and meaningful action on  climate  change.”    Credo, another campaign group, accused Obama of “ self-defeating hypocrisy ”.    Obama’s first stop on Monday will be a foreign ministers’ conference in Anchorage. The US will take over leadership of the eight-nation Arctic Council later this year.    After a visit to melting glaciers in the Kenai Fjords National park, Obama will visit the rural community of Dillingham, close to Bristol Bay, site of the world’s biggest natural salmon run. The president will also visit the town of Kotzebue, which is increasingly battered by Arctic storms because of coastal erosion and the retreat of sea ice cover.    The White House hoped the visit would help spur a global deal to fight  climate  change at an international conference in Paris at the end of the year. Negotiators will meet in Bonn next week to try to advance negotiations.    The president is also expected to promote his plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants by 32% below 2005 levels, and his expansion of protections to Alaska wilderness areas.    Drawing attention to the changes in the polar regions could help Obama win over public support, said Marilyn Heiman, director of the US Arctic program for Pew Charitable trusts.    “He is shining a light on the Arctic and the impacts of  climate  change on the Arctic and the impact a warming Arctic has on the rest of planet,” she said. “There is no better way for the world or United States to hear about that then have the president visit.”    But campaigners criticised Obama for opening up the Arctic to oil companies.    The Arctic Circle is the last great untapped reserve of oil and gas – containing up to 30% of the world’s undiscovered gas and 13% of oil, according to the US Geological Survey. It is also a home for indigenous people and endangered wildlife who have co-existed for thousands of years.    Giving the go-ahead to Shell to drill two exploratory wells in the harsh and unforgiving conditions puts the Arctic at risk of a spill, campaign groups argue.    And tapping into that waiting bonanza of oil and gas would also trigger catastrophic  climate  change.    Rick Steiner, a marine biologist who was involved in the Exxon Valdez clean-up in the 1980s, said: “On  climate  change Obama has been good but not good enough.”                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-15 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Help the Global Apollo Programme make clean energy cheaper than coal              We, the undersigned, believe that global warming can be addressed without adding significant economic costs or burdening taxpayers with more debt. A sensible approach to tackling  climate  change will not only pay for itself but provide economic benefits to the nations of the world.    The aspiration of the Global Apollo Programme is to make renewable energy cheaper than coal within 10 years. We urge the leading nations of the world to commit to this positive, practical initiative by the Paris  climate  conference in December.    The plan requires leading governments to invest a total of $15bn a year in research, development and demonstration of clean energy. That compares to the $100bn currently invested in defence research and development globally each year.    Public investment now will save governments huge sums in the future. What is more, a coordinated R  plan can help bring energy bills down for billions of consumers. Renewable energy gets less than 2% of publicly funded R  The private sector spends relatively small sums on clean energy research and development.    Just as with the Apollo space missions of the 1960s, great scientific minds must now be assembled to find a solution to one of the biggest challenges we face.    Please support the Global Apollo Programme – the world’s 10-year plan for cheaper, cleaner energy.    David Attenborough  Professor Brian Cox  Paul Polman  CEO, Unilever  Arunabha Ghosh  CEO, Council on Energy Environment and Water  Ed Davey  Former UK energy secretary  Nicholas Stern  IG Patel professor of economics and government, LSE  Bill Hare  Founder and CEO,  Climate  Analytics  Nilesh Y Jadhav  Programme director, Energy Research Institute @NTU, Singapore  Niall Dunne  Chief sustainability officer, BT  Carlo Carraro  Director, International Centre for  Climate  Governance  Professor Brian Hoskins  Chair, Grantham Institute  Mark Kenber  CEO, The  Climate  Group  Ben Goldsmith  Founder, Menhaden Capital  Sabina Ratti  Executive director, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM)  John Browne  Chairman, L1 Energy  Zac Goldsmith MP  Professor Martin Siegert  Co-director, Grantham Institute  Professor Joanna Haigh  Co-director, Grantham Institute, and vice-president of Royal Meteorological Society  Peter Bakker  President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development  Dr Fatima Denton  African  Climate  Policy Centre  Denys Shortt  CEO, DCS Group  Adair Turner  Former chairman, Financial Services Authority  Gus O’Donnell  Former cabinet secretary  Richard Layard  London School of Economics  Professor John Shepherd  Martin Rees  Astronomer royal                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-20 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
85% of British power can be via renewables by 2030, says Greenpeace              Britain can produce 85% of its power via renewable energy by 2030 provided it undergoes significant changes in energy production and use, according to a new study by Greenpeace.    The study attempts to counter the argument that only fossil fuels and nuclear power can keep the lights on for the next few decades. It foresees wind leaping from today’s level of 13 gigawatts (GW) of wind farms in operation – enough to power around 10 million homes – to a level of 77GW in 2030, with solar rising from just more than 5GW to 28GW.    However, the renewables drive would need to be accompanied by a 60% reduction in demand for domestic heating through a home insulation programme and other initiatives, according to the report by energy system analysts, Demand Energy Equality.    “For a long time the government and the fossil fuel industry have peddled the argument that renewables can’t keep the lights on if the wind’s not blowing. This hasn’t been based on evidence, but out of date instincts seemingly from staring out the window to see how windy it is,” said Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace  .  “For the first time, we have the evidence showing it is possible to keep the power system working and decarbonise the electricity system. We need to go for renewable energy with the help of new smart technology and reducing demand for power too.    “It is hugely ambitious but definitely doable, and it will take the same kind of enthusiasm and financial support from government, normally the sole preserve of the nuclear and fossil fuel industries.”    The plan, which would require a major change in government policies, envisages fossil fuels playing a role via combined gas-fired heat and power projects. Many homes and buildings would also need to move away from gas-fired boilers to their own ground source heat pumps or an electricity source.    The report is published in the run up to the UN-sponsored  climate  change talks in Paris and at a time when the Conservative government has axed a series of green subsidy schemes to wind and solar on the grounds of cost.    The feasability of decarbonising the UK’s power generation system, which was dependent for a long time on carbon-heavy coal, has long been argued over. Few believe that carbon dioxide can be eliminated entirely from energy production, or at least in the short term.    In 2014, around 30% of UK electricity was generated by coal-fired power plants, 30% by gas, 19% by nuclear and around the same amount by renewables, according to the Department of Energy and  Climate  Change.    The new analysis shows a low-carbon energy sector is possible but only if our relationship with energy changes at the national, household and personal level.    There would have to be a huge increase in building efficiency and in the use of smart meters, so that demand could be dialled down when needed.    The cost of the transformation programme is not spelled out, but the Greenpeace report notes that a similar study done in 2011 by Poyry consultants for the parliamentary  climate  change committee produced a price tag of between £126bn and £227bn to achieve 65% renewable penetration by 2030.    Wind would play the greatest role in energy production in the new low carbon world envisaged by Greenpeace. The 55GW of offshore wind and 22GW of onshore wind would require a significant increase in investment.    The wind lobby group RenewableUK said there was no reason why more wind farms should not be built. “There is no technical or logistical barrier to the UK installing up to 55GW by 2030, but it needs political will – a supportive policy framework from government, especially sufficient financial support allocated in the offshore wind pot,” said a spokesman.    David Infield, a professor of electrical engineering at University of Strathclyde, who had read the Greenpeace report, said it was a serious document that deserved attention.    “This is a useful report dealing with the complex issue of absorbing high penetrations of renewable power generation in line with achieving challenging reductions in carbon emissions,” he said.    The big difference is that the energy department’s forecasts are based on what it believes is feasible under certain circumstances by 2050, rather than the 2030 time period used by Greenpeace. This makes a huge difference in mobilising capital and undertaking the work necessary.    The Greenpeace study has ruled out nuclear because of the financial and environmental cost of building new plants, such as Hinkley Point C, and dealing with the legacy of their waste. Equally, carbon capture technology – where carbon dioxide is stored underground as soon as it is emitted – has been excluded as it is deemed an unproven method.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-20 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Asthma could be worsened by energy-efficient homes, warns study              The number of Britons with asthma could almost double by 2050 because the air inside homes is becoming more polluted as they become more energy-efficient, a new report warns.    The trend towards airtight houses could also worsen allergies as well as breathing problems, and even exacerbate lung cancer and heart problems, according to a leading expert in indoor air quality.    Airborne pollutants created by cooking, cleaning and using aerosols such as hairsprays will increasingly stay indoors and affect people’s health as homes are made ever more leak-proof to help meet carbon reduction targets, a report by Professor Hazim Awbi claims. Small amounts of chemicals found in detergents can stay on the fibres of washed clothes, be emitted into the air and combine with particulate matter from logs burned in a real fire, for example.    “Poor indoor air quality is connected with a range of undesirable health effects, such as allergic and asthma symptoms, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, airborne respiratory infections and cardiovascular disease,” says the report written by Awbi, who is professor of the built environment at Reading University’s school of construction management and engineering. “With the expected increase in airtightness for UK dwellings, it is anticipated that indoor air quality will generally become poorer, resulting in an increase in the number of cases of health symptoms related to poorer indoor environment quality.”    People with long-term health conditions and three groups who spend a lot of time indoors – young mothers, children and older people – will be particularly at risk, the report says.    It predicts that by 2050 – the date by which Britain is supposed to have achieved an 80% cut in carbon emissions – declining indoor air quality could have led to:    ¦ An 80% rise in the 5.4 million people already suffering from asthma.    ¦ Concentrations of volatile organic compounds – chemicals linked to the use of aerosols – being 60% above World Health Organisation 24-hour limits.    ¦ Nitrogen dioxide levels rising to 30% above the WHO’s limits.    The report’s findings reflect growing concern that indoor pollutants, not just fumes and other chemicals in the outdoor environment, can damage health. The WHO has already identified indoor air quality as a health hazard. And Public Health England, an agency funded by the Department of Health, is finalising a report on “  climate  change and the domestic indoor environment”, which it will publish before Christmas.    Lack of proper ventilation in both newly built homes and those that have been refurbished to reduce their consumption of gas or electricity is storing up future health problems, Awbi said.    “Many people spend 70-80% of their time at home, or even as much as 90% indoors if you include workplaces. Given that the average person takes in 500 litres of air an hour, if the air you are breathing in is polluted, you can imagine how much of this pollution is going to be absorbed,” he added.    He fears that increasingly airtight houses in which too little fresh air gets in are causing indoor air quality to deteriorate and preventing pollutants from being dispersed quickly. Humidity caused by poor ventilation also helps the proliferation of mould and house dust mites, which can cause asthma and other allergic conditions, according to Professor Peter Howarth, a professor of allergy and respiratory diseases at Southampton University.    Formaldehyde, a toxic gas emitted by wooden furniture, can also be problematic, added Howarth, who said he believed Awbi’s estimates were a realistic assessment of the harm to human health if building regulations are not overhauled to improve ventilation and ensure “air exchange”.    Simply opening windows to let in fresh air is not enough, and some form of mechanical ventilation is needed, according to Awbi.    “Poor indoor air quality can have a negative effect on people’s health, including aggravating asthma,” said Dr Sotiris Vardoulakis, Public Health England’s’s head of environmental change. “While energy-efficient houses will help address  climate  change, it is important to ensure that adequate ventilation levels are maintained and indoor air pollution sources minimised to protect public health.”    Related: How do I know if I really have asthma?    Awbi’s report was funded by Beama, a body which represents the UK’s electro-technical industry, which includes firms that install ventilation systems.    Andrew Proctor, director of advice and support at Asthma UK, said: “We know that indoor exposure to allergens can be a real problem for some people with asthma, but it is difficult to avoid them.” The one in 11 Britons with asthma should always seek help promptly when they have symptoms suggesting an attack, he said.    The Department for Energy and  Climate  Change said simply that government was committed to ensuring energy efficiency improvements in homes met the highest standards of installation.                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Political Split Awaits a Pope Who Is Difficult to Pigeonhole      By PETER BAKER            WASHINGTON -- Pope Francis will arrive at a military base outside the capital on Tuesday afternoon to open his first visit to the United States, and President Obama will be there to welcome him. It is a gesture the president has extended to virtually no other foreign visitor.    And little wonder. For Mr. Obama, there may be no more potent ally in the world in his quest to bend the arc of history, to use a favorite phrase, than a pope who helped him restore diplomatic relations with Cuba and who has spoken out on issues like economic inequality, immigration,  climate  change and criminal justice reform.    Yet if the pope's visit seems likely to bolster Mr. Obama on some of his top priorities, it also comes at a moment of sharp focus on moral questions where the two differ. For conservatives assailing the jailing of a clerk who refused to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples and for abortion foes now mounting a bid to cut off federal money for Planned Parenthood, Francis and the teachings of the church offer a timely boost.    The conflicting interpretations underscore the hazards of trying to pigeonhole any pope into the binary left-right spectrum of American politics. At the White House and on Capitol Hill, leaders say Francis cannot be viewed in strictly political terms. But in Washington, where everything is political -- including religion -- both sides in the perpetual American argument hope to make the most of the pope's three-day visit to the seat of power.    That will probably be easier for Mr. Obama and the Democrats. Just as Pope John Paul II was seen as more aligned with the anti-Communist mission of President Ronald Reagan, Francis is seen as sympathetic to Mr. Obama's priorities. Some conservative Catholics refer to Francis derisively as "Obama's pope," while some Catholic Republican presidential candidates have expressed polite disagreement with the leader of their church.    "We are fully expecting that there will be some messages with which we may respectfully disagree or have differences, but that on many of the big-ticket items" the pope's "essential messages will resonate very much with the president's agenda," said Charles Kupchan, an adviser to Mr. Obama. "And in that respect, we are hoping that his moral authority helps us advance many of the items that we take to be very high on our policy agenda."    The pope arrives after stopping in Cuba, highlighting the diplomatic opening he in part made possible. After the pageantry of a welcoming ceremony hosted by Mr. Obama on the White House South Lawn on Wednesday, Francis will address a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday -- a first for a pope -- at the invitation of Speaker John A. Boehner, a Catholic Republican from Ohio.    All over Washington, fliers are urging people to "rally with Pope Francis in the call to moral action for  climate  justice," a topic he will address at the United Nations after leaving Washington. During a stop in Philadelphia, Francis is expected to talk about criminal justice in a way that tracks Mr. Obama's call to stop imprisoning nonviolent offenders for so long.    His choice of issues could bolster Mr. Obama, said Peter Wehner, a conservative Catholic scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a White House official under President George W. Bush. "It probably favors Democrats more than Republicans," said Mr. Wehner, who expresses admiration for Francis. "Let's put it this way: I think Democrats are probably looking forward to his visit more than Republicans."    Leslie Tentler, a longtime professor at Catholic University, said the pope's recent encyclical on  climate  change indicated that it would be a central message during his visit. "Obviously he wants to influence opinion in the United States because we're so large and important and we still pollute so much," she said.    But Francis, who first met Mr. Obama at the Vatican last year, goes beyond the president in denouncing the sins of globalization and capitalism and has criticized American policy in Syria. He may weigh in on the fight over abortion, given his condemnation of what he calls the throwaway culture.    "I'm sure the pope will make everyone very uncomfortable," said Representative Joseph Crowley, a Catholic Democrat from New York. "There will be some things that Democrats may not like to hear, and there will certainly be some things, I think, the Republicans will not like to hear."    Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic minority leader from Nevada, even accused Senator Mitch McConnell, his Republican counterpart from Kentucky, of advancing a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy with Francis in mind. "He's doing it because the pope's coming here," Mr. Reid said last week.    If Francis arrives at a fraught moment in American politics, it is also a time when Catholics play an outsize role at the highest levels of government. Six of the nine Supreme Court justices are Catholic, as are 31 percent of the members of Congress, compared with 22 percent of the overall adult population. Joseph R. Biden Jr. is the nation's first Catholic vice president; if he were to run and win next year, he would be the second Catholic president after John F. Kennedy.    Six Catholic Republicans are already running for president, more than ever before: Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, George E. Pataki, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum. A seventh, John R. Kasich, was a Catholic altar boy who was nicknamed Pope because he aspired to the Vatican before migrating in adulthood to a Protestant church. Martin O'Malley, a Democratic candidate, is also Catholic.    Just as important, Catholics have become a decisive swing vote in presidential elections. Since 1972, when news media exit polls were first inaugurated, no presidential candidate has won the popular vote for president without the Catholic vote.    But breaking down that vote involves significant foreshadowing. While the overall Catholic vote has swung between parties, white Catholics are strongly Republican and Hispanic Catholics are strongly Democratic. Given demographic trends, that points to growing support for Democrats in years to come, a worrisome sign for Republicans.    Even the pope is not immune to America's divisions. While he has not changed fundamental Catholic doctrines, Francis has stressed the parts focusing on serving the poor and de-emphasized those reproaching abortion and homosexuality -- what his biographer John L. Allen calls "his insistence on the primacy of compassion over judgment."    The pope's approach has divided Americans along ideological lines. While Francis enjoys support across the spectrum, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll, self-described liberals express 53 percent approval and 4 percent disapproval, compared with 29 percent approval and 15 percent disapproval among conservatives.    Those disparate perceptions play out on the campaign trail as well. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the populist seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, has repeatedly aligned himself with Francis on economic justice. Last week at Liberty University, the evangelical Christian school in Lynchburg, Va., Mr. Sanders quoted the pope saying "Money has to serve, not to rule," and added, "I agree with him."    Republican candidates, by contrast, were left to explain disagreements with Francis. Asked at a town-hall meeting in New Hampshire last week whether he would see the pope, Donald J. Trump, the Republican front-runner, answered dismissively, "Well, the pope believes in global warming," he said before adding: "I like the pope, a lot of personality. Good man."    On television on Sunday, Mr. Rubio, a senator from Florida, distinguished between his reverence for the pope on spiritual issues and his divergence on other matters. "I follow him 100 percent on those issues; otherwise, I wouldn't be a Roman Catholic," he said of theology on "This Week" on ABC. "The pope as an individual, an important figure in the world, also has political opinions. And those, of course, we are free to disagree with."    Similarly, Mr. Christie, the governor of New Jersey, faulted Francis for encouraging Mr. Obama's diplomatic rapprochement with Cuba, noting that Havana harbored fugitives, including the killer of a New Jersey police officer. "I just think the pope was wrong," Mr. Christie said on "State of the Union" on CNN. "The fact is that his infallibility is on religious matters, not on political ones."    At the same time, Mr. Obama must also proceed carefully. Already, some reports have accused him of trying to politicize the visit by inviting critics of the church to the White House arrival ceremony. The White House responded by noting that it expected 15,000 people, including those with a diversity of views.    "The pope has to assume that he's going in and people are going to use him," Mr. Wehner said. "I think President Obama will try it. It's up to the pope not to let that happen."    Follow the New York Times's politics and Washington coverage on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the First Draft politics newsletter.              Figure(s) :      PHOTO: President Obama greeting Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2014. The two leaders will meet again this week at the White House. (PHOTOGRAPH BY DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES)             

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
The turmoil of today's world: leading writers respond to the refugee crisis              Pankaj Mishra    “History,” Emil Cioran once wrote, “is irony on the move.” It speeded up dramatically last week as Germany emerged as the moral conscience of Europe 70 years after the defeat of nazism. Its vanquishers then have now been reduced to describing the victims of war and persecution as a “swarm”, and vowing, in a worn imperial reflex, to bring “peace and stability” to the Middle East through more violence. Meanwhile, Hungary, which in 1989 precipitated the fall of communism and now hosts a major fascist and antisemitic movement, proclaimed its desire to keep Europe Christian.    What an extraordinary reversal of reputations and historical verdicts this is. But then it is hard to measure history’s velocity, direction and tone if it is treated as no more than a stimulus to nationalist onanism. Take for instance, the solemn headlines last week (“Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since 1945”), which betrayed an acute amnesia about events both after and before 1945. For the refugee, far from being a faceless habitué of the Levant, is the central figure of modern European history, both defining and exposing the limits of national sovereignty.    Nationalism, or what Rabindranath Tagore called “organised selfishness”, unleashed the world’s first mass phenomenon of refugees in the early 20th century. The collapse of the Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires rendered millions of people stateless: White Russians; Armenians; Bulgarians; Greeks; Germans; Hungarians and Romanians. In 1938, nearly half a million republicans fled the Spanish civil war to France, which was then expelling hundreds of thousands of Algerians and Poles. Systemic antisemitism had degraded Jews to second-class citizenship well before the rise of nazism, notably in Hungary, Europe’s doughty defender today against Muslim hordes. Hitler’s ascent forced hundreds of thousands of Jews to flee Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.    Many then found their escape routes blocked by west European and American antisemitism. “What is it,” a despairing Joseph Roth wrote in  The Wandering Jews  , “that allows European states to go spreading civilisation and ethics in foreign parts but not at home?” This penniless refugee died in 1939, mercifully before his warning was vindicated: that “centuries of civilisation are no guarantee that a European people, by some ghastly curse of fate, will not revert to barbarism”.    Even the revelation in 1945 of monstrous crimes against Jews did not relieve the ordeal of their survivors. Battered by antisemitism (Poland hosted a pogrom as late as 1946), Jewish refugees multiplied until their traditional tormentors decided to make Palestinian Arabs pay the price for European brutality and callousness. But the large majority of post-1945 refugees were German, up to 14 million, forcibly transferred by the war’s victors from eastern Europe to Germany. An estimated 2 million died en route in the largest such population movement in European history. It is no exaggeration to say that this unpunished, indeed barely recorded, crime of the 20th century motivates German munificence to Syrian refugees today just as much as it made Germany the largest recipient of refugees from the Balkan wars in the 1990s.    The big-hearted response of the British public to the Syrian refugee crisis shows just how far the UK’s political class and media lag behind history’s ironic moves. In the mainstream Anglo-American version, modern history has appeared as essentially a conflict between virtuous liberal democracy and the evil “isms” of nazism and communism. Much of the complex story of western Europe and the US, including their complicity with such brutish “isms” as imperialism and racism, had to be suppressed in order to make this cold-war fiction seem persuasive. Thus, while Germany reckoned soberly with its grotesque fantasies of world domination, the British establishment remained vulnerable to bogus myths of a benevolent empire.    These were exposed cruelly last week as the zealous Anglo-American exponents of “humanitarian intervention” through bombs equivocated about sheltering refugees and a nation still subject to crude Nazi jokes assumed, by default, the west’s moral leadership. Perhaps, in this extermination of delusions about a past of blood and tears lies some hope for a world that, torn apart by organised selfishness, is in desperate need of compassion and empathy. “Lest we forget,” as Roth wrote at a bleak time for refugees in Europe, “that nothing in this world endures, not even a home; and that our life is short, shorter even than the life of the elephant, the crocodile and the crow.”    Pankaj Mishra’s books include From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia Caroline Moorehead    Ten years ago, I wrote a book about refugees,  Human Cargo  , based around the stories of a group of boys and young men who had fled to Egypt to escape Liberia’s unending civil wars. Most had been orphaned. I decided to trace the refugee journey, backwards to the places from which most were coming, and forwards through their journeys to their reception in the west. I wrote about camps in Guinea, detention in Australia, settlement in Lapland. There were then an estimated 17 million refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people, and relatively few ever reached the shores of Europe. When I went to Lampedusa in 2005 to talk to the islanders about the arrival of their first boats, I found curiosity and astonishment.    While the causes of displacement have not changed – conflict, persecution, racism, poverty, natural disasters – the rise in numbers has been dramatic. The number of people living exiled from their homes has more than doubled in the last decade to more than 59 million, 8 million more than last year. The world’s state of chronic insecurity is driving some 42,500 people to leave their homes every day in search of safety. Fighting in Syria and Iraq and the rise of Islamic State has already seen 15 million people driven to seek safety abroad. If they were a nation, the population of displaced and dispossessed people would be the 24th largest country in the world. It would be a young nation as more than half of all refugees today are under the age of 18. It’s not just scale of this crisis that’s the problem, but the speed at which it is growing.    Related: Five history lessons in how to deal with a refugee crisis    In the refugee world the vocabulary is all about growth: more child refugees, more asylum applications, more criminal networks of smugglers, more migrants in detention, more refugees in more long-term camps – more than 4 million of them today. What do not grow, of course, are the funds. In 2005, the UN high commissioner for refugees was just about able to keep pace with its commitments. In 2015 it is £2bn short of what it needs to keep camps functioning in Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey.    Rather than face up to the growing crisis, the west has slept the decade away. Even now, there is more interest in erecting walls, fences and barriers than in addressing what Angela Merkel has called the defining issue of our times, more lastingly important than the ailing Greek economy or the ongoing financial fluctuations. But desperate people cannot wait for summits and treaties.    During the last 10 years, refugees and asylum seekers have been demonised as scroungers, malingerers, the people stealing our jobs. Their cause has not been helped by the way in which they are greeted, as they arrive in boats, by officials in full quarantine protective clothing: it’s as if refugees were contaminated aliens who have come to spread disease.    Whether the outpouring of generosity that has spread since the body of a small boy was washed up on a Turkish beach will last remains to be seen. But it can never be a substitute for something long desperately needed – a humane, fair, coherent migration policy, without which the EU will never reclaim its borders, combat smuggling and give refugees a voice, so that they become once again people, and not helpless victims.    Caroline Moorehead’s latest book is Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France Elif Shafak    In one of his essays the German Jewish philosopher and literary critic Walter Benjamin writes compellingly about a Paul Klee painting known as  Angelus Novus  . The eponymous angel stares out from the canvas in something akin to shock; unable to move, his eyes widened, his mouth open, refusing to believe what he sees. He has just been stopped, against his will, by a force stronger than him. His expression is one of immense disappointment and disbelief. All alone and defenceless, he watches an impending storm that will only bring chaos, confusion and cruelty.    In video footage from Hungary, I saw the same expression on the face of a refugee. The man can be seen running while clutching a little child and carrying the bags that have become his sole possession in life. Suddenly, a camerawoman who is filming the incident stretches her leg forward and deliberately trips him up. Both the man and the child fall to the ground. The woman keeps filming. The man lifts his head and looks with incredulous eyes at this stranger he has never seen before. On his face there is disbelief, just like the angel in the painting. He is trying to understand why a fellow human being would do this to another human being. How to explain such an unfounded, almost spontaneous display of violence?    The camerawoman worked for N1TV, a company known for its close ties with the ultranationalist Jobbik party. Even though the company subsequently announced that she had been fired, the incident requires further attention. In this “small” act of cruelty lies one of deepest and darkest dilemmas of humanity in the 21st century.    Racism, ultranationalism and xenophobia all have the same detrimental effect on the human soul: they make us indifferent to the pain of other people. But apathy is not a passive feeling. It requires constant endeavour. It is an active force that must be nourished with hatred, prejudice and stereotypes. An old rhetoric we know too well is haunting Europe once again – especially but not solely in Hungary, Austria and Sweden. Meanwhile, the Middle East is filled with religious fundamentalism, fanaticism, sexism and xenophobia. In Turkey, mobs are setting Kurdish buildings on fire, Kurdish terrorists are killing Turkish soldiers, and ultranationalism, the incurable malady of the 19th century, is once again, on the rise. The Hungarian camerawoman is not alone. There are thousands like her.    If apathy is an active force, we must turn empathy into an active force as well. Wisdom, understanding, compassion, humanism, and yes, dare I say, the influence of women, must be brought into our global political and cultural discourse as agents of change. Let us not forget that globalisation is not only about the rise of information technology and circulation of capital, it also means that our stories, and therefore our destinies, are interconnected.    Ali Smith    The xenophobic rhetoric from members of our government and some of our media – even from the man who is the UK’s premier “statesman”, the prime minister – has been shaming in the extreme. It is only one indicator of the ways in which we are being encouraged, as individuals and as a country, via this government’s moral immaturity, to respond inhumanely to the emergency. We have to stop the rhetorical suggestion that what’s happening isn’t happening to all of us, is happening elsewhere and is a matter of numbers, not people, as if being a refugee is a state different from or somehow less than human. Now is the time to respond to this full-scale, critical and terrible situation. Nobody leaves home without having to. Each person is an individual needing help and safe haven from war, threat of genocide, tyranny, poverty, exploitation, being homeless.    In the UK we should be helping people right now. For the longer term this emergency has highlighted the fact that governments all over the world surely have to start thinking more fluidly, openly, inclusively and inventively when it comes to the drawing of frontiers – because water cannon / armed-police, four-metre-high electric fences and concrete-slab walls are only the start of more divisions, worse fragmentation and more and worse humanitarian crisis, inequality and wreckage. We need to stop thinking exclusively. We need to start thinking on an international level and addressing injustices on such a level. But as fast as we can, we have to help the people crossing the world, and we have to take seriously and to heart the ancient responsibilities of hospitality and sanctuary. They’ve always been the real weights and measures of human worth.    Ali Smith’s novel How to Be Both won the Costa novel award and the Baileys Women’s prize for fiction Mary Beard    It is always dangerous to draw direct lessons for us from ancient history – but it can at least offer a different perspective on issues of borders, migration and citizenship.    The Roman empire, from Scotland to the Sahara, operated with no internal boundaries and with very hazy external ones, too. Romans would have been amazed at our own eagerness to police arbitrary lines on maps and contingent notions of nationality. What is more, in contrast to classical Athens (whose restrictive policies on citizenship would have looked at home in a Ukip manifesto ), Rome systematically extended full Roman citizenship to those who lived in its conquered territories – until the process was complete in 212CE when the emperor Caracalla granted it to every single free inhabitant of the empire, almost 60 million of them. This wasn’t entirely uncontested, and Romans were as capable of bigoted xenophobia as anyone. When the emperor Claudius proposed in 48CE that men from Gaul should be allowed not just to be citizens but also to be members of the senate, he was heckled. But he got his way all the same, and the direction of travel was never in doubt.    It wasn’t simply a question of practical politics. The myths that the Romans invented about their own origins made exactly that point. One story was that the Roman race had been founded by Aeneas, who was a homeless refugee from the great war between Greeks and Trojans. Another was that the city itself had been founded by Romulus, who, after he had murdered his twin brother Remus in a mythical moment of fratricide, faced a terrible shortage of manpower for his new Rome. So he designated the place an “asylum” and welcomed all comers, from runaways to criminals and escaped slaves. These were the first citizens of Rome.    Some Romans, as well as some enemies of Rome, mocked this. What kind of behaviour could you expect from a people with this background, they asked. It was no wonder that the Romans were such thugs; it was in their genes. But most Roman patriots were proud to think of themselves as a nation of asylum seekers. It’s a pride that it might do us no harm to recapture.    Mary Beard’s history of ancient Rome, SPQR, is due this autumn Kate Clanchy    When we see those images of children sleeping on beaches, or marching down motorways, we fantasise ways of rescuing them. Finland’s prime minister, Juha Sipilä, proffers his country home ; Bob Geldof has offered to put up four refugee families at his homes in Kent and London.    I want to take them into our local school. I imagine the mid-term admissions form coming round to all staff, comfortingly routine, another child smiling warily for the camera above a carefully calibrated statement about his level of English. His original language will be included, too, but not his migrant status. Instead, it states his interests, something personal, something from before the war: “Mohammed likes Maths. He is looking forward to joining in at basketball.” We will add new Syrian/English dictionaries to the Dari, Kiswahili, Polish and Lithuanian ones at the back of each classroom, and, in a just few weeks, Mohammed, in his new, stiff school jumper, will delve deeply into them, trying to find the right word for “latitude”, or “path”, or how to spell “through”.    Mostly, the other kids will help him: they are used to this. Certainly, he will not be given an anglicised or degrading nickname, because there is no English majority to perform the task. Everyone is a minority, here, and, taking their cue from the teachers, everyone calls everyone by their whole name. When Mohammed starts playing basketball, in the open hoops by the gym, he will shout names from Nepal and Hungary and Brazil. Soon, the clotted consonants will shuck their strangeness and he will have friends.    Very soon, too, he will start to do well in lessons. His motivation, after all, is extraordinarily high: this is an English education, the thing his family nearly died for. Most of our A-star pupils are recent migrants: Mohammed can join them. He can come to my writing group and start recording his story; he can sit beside my son in geography and tell him about the Middle East; he can learn public speaking and make the vote of thanks speech as one African boy did last year. With hand on heart, he said, “I am thankful to this school and this country”.    If Mohammed were angry, or difficult, or traumatised into silence, the school would still care for him because he is entitled and the school is obliged: it is a public institution, with strength and stability beyond any charity. Britain has hundreds of schools like mine: well-established, highly effective, genuinely multicultural institutions that belong to the state. If it decided to do so, the state could be expanded to take in thousands of the children of the road. It wouldn’t take a celebrity rock concert to do this, or a new charity, just political will and serious amounts of government money. It’s not a fantasy to think that David Cameron could do that: it’s part of his job.    Kate Clanchy’s most recent book is The Not-Dead and The Saved and Other Stories Mohsin Hamid    For me, as a British and hence European citizen, and also as a human being, the most important question raised by the present crisis is not whether the people of the countries of Europe wish to accept more refugees. Rather, the most important question is whether the people of Europe wish their countries to become the sorts of societies that are capable of taking the steps that will be required to stop the flow of migration.    Simply hardening borders and watching refugees drown offshore or bleed to death on razor wire will not be enough. Europe will have to drastically reduce its attractiveness to refugees. Those who look like refugees will need to be terrorised. They will need to be systematically beaten, rounded up, expelled. Some will need to be killed. The avenues of advancement of those who are not native-born will need to be curtailed by law and by custom – a system of apartheid will need to be instituted. To be of apparent migrant origin in a European country will need to become a fate worse than living in a town or village overrun by bloodthirsty fanatics, by rapacious warlords and thugs.    In such a Europe, the essence of Hitler’s thousand-year Reich will not have been defeated; it will merely have suffered an interruption that lasted a few decades. Many people in Germany, perhaps, recognise this. It could explain the marked difference in the tenor and substance of their country’s response to refugees. They know where fortress Europe will and must lead, what a final solution to the issue of migrant arrivals would entail.    All Europeans, including the people of Britain, must ask themselves if they wish to live in such societies. They need to dispense with the delusion that theirs can remain pleasant countries and unattractive countries at the same time. If they decide that no, in the end they do not have it in them to do what would need to be done, to become the kinds of people who would repel migrants – horrify migrants, terrify migrants – then they will need to plan for a future of large-scale migration. And it seems to me that the first step needs to be to articulate a vision of an optimistic future as a migrant-friendly society.    Britain would not be Britain without centuries of migration. Neither would Italy, France, Ireland, America, Canada, Australia. Migration need not lead to dystopia. Migration can – and very often has – led to renewal, to fertility, to uplift and openness and vigour.    Indeed it must. We must find a way to ensure that it does. The tragedy of Europe, the tragedy of Britain, at this present moment is at heart an inability to articulate a desirable future. We are mired in illusory nostalgia. In such an environment, migrants add to the problem. To my mind, the time has come to reverse our perspective, to recognise that visions of a desirable future have been eluding us because we have failed to consider that migrants are not a nightmare. They are – we are, every one of us whose ancestors have left the precise spot where our species first evolved – a great and powerful hope.    Mohsin Hamid’s novels include The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia Ahdaf Soueif    I never looked properly at little Aylan Kurdi ’s photograph. I averted my eyes every time it came at me on Twitter. The image I did look at was of the Syrian family being arrested in Hungary: 28 August, just before Germany decided to open its doors to the refugees. Against a backdrop of tall trees a young man is being pushed down to the ground by a big man in uniform. Next to him are his wife and child. The little girl’s purple baseball cap has fallen off her head and is hanging by its strap onto the red ribbon tying up her pony-tail.    And stretching behind this family, if you look, you can see images of all the moments that have led them here: the meeting, the marriage, the jobs, the baby – and then the danger, coming closer, and closer, until they found themselves having to plan to leave. They made the decision, raised the money, planned and organised and set out. They took massive risks, pushed on through the exhaustion, the fear … and now they’ve arrived in Europe and he is on his knees, the veins of his neck bursting with his shouted protest while a burly officer of the state secures his wrists behind his back. The young woman, his wife, leans in towards him. She holds their daughter with one hand and touches him with the other. Her mouth is open and she’s staring down at what’s being done to him behind his back.    And if you widen the frame of this photo you’ll see the other families; the many, many other people, stretching as far as the eye can see. The refugee story encompasses all the issues that inform our world today: the geopolitics, the history, the trade in violence and instruments of violence, the petty interests, the treachery. But also the great pushback by ordinary people; today it’s Germans, Austrians, Icelanders, stepping forward to offer help and sustenance.    For years now there’s been an exasperation and anger on behalf of justice and humanity that impels people into initiatives: to help transport refugees across borders, to take strangers into their homes, to man flotillas heading to Gaza. These are the citizens who look beyond the headlines, who make up their own minds about events. But for the majority, government and the traditional media bear a huge responsibility for their attitudes.    In Germany, when arsonists burned down would-be–refugee-shelters, the state – as though to counter in equal weight – decided to open its doors to the refugees. A great march towards Germany has begun. The refugees – those who survive - are mostly young and driven. They’re skilled and many of them are highly educated. So Germany – whether acting out of humanity or far-sighted self-interest - will be the biggest beneficiary of this latest transfusion of young blood from the south into ageing Europe. Too late for Aylan and many others, but perhaps still good for that little girl in the baseball cap and her parents.    Ahdaf Soueif’s books include Cairo: My City, Our Revolution Arundhati Roy    As we watch refugees crowd into camps and pour over the borders, we know that we are not watching a temporary crisis    Arundhati Roy    At the end of the second world war Britain redrew the map of what is superciliously called the Middle East. When the British empire waned, the US took over its imperial mandate. Its constant political meddling – toppling democracies, installing tyrants, tiring of them and installing others, its invasion of Iraq in 2003, its covert military and financial support to vicious sectarian militias in various countries ( General Petraeus, former director of the CIA, recently proposed using al-Qaida fighters against Isis in Syria) has unleashed ancient antagonisms, recent hostilities and mayhem.    As we watch refugees crowd into camps and pour over the borders, we know that we are not watching a temporary crisis. It’s heartwarming to see that the unspeakable cynicism of governments and petroleum companies is put to shame by the grace and generosity shown by thousands of ordinary Europeans who have welcomed the refugees with warmth and food and shelter. Perhaps there’s hope for our species yet.    Arundhati Roy’s novels include The God of Small Things Orhan Pamuk    I am happy that Germany intends to take 800,000 refugees from Syria, North Africa and elsewhere, and that the rest of Europe is also now responding to the grave situation. It really is a dramatic moment in the history of Europe. Until just days ago, Turkey had taken in 2 million immigrants and was attempting to do its duty to humanity and to these people, while it appeared that other countries, even those who were taking just 2,000 or 3,000 immigrants, were complaining. The change of heart has been remarkable and, of course, I am pleased to see this display of humanity and hope we continue to take responsibility for these people.    Despite this sense of hope, we must not forget why these people have lost their countries. It is because President Bush wanted a war in the Middle East to raise his profile and to get votes. And we must not underestimate the task ahead. In particular I hope that Germany does not treat these people as they treated the Turkish people 30 or 40 years ago: as guest workers with only temporary status. It is encouraging that all the signs so far point to Germany offering refugees citizenship and giving them the responsibility of being Germans in the future. This is important to the development of the idea of Europe. Learning to live together with peoples whose culture, religion, history and personal traumatic stories are different from our own educates us. It makes us different people. It teaches us to be liberal in a deeper way than we could possibly learn from a book. The essential idea of Europe is based not only on  égalité  and  liberté  , but also on  fraternité  .    Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel prize for literature in 2006 Samar Yazbek    We are witnessing the largest wave of migration since world war two, of which the Syrians make up the overwhelming majority. But that’s not the whole story. The real problem is that this exodus will continue without end while there is no glimmer of a resolution.    The image of the Syrian boy Aylan and the story of his death have become a global symbol of this gargantuan tragedy. There has been a dramatic change in public opinion, but it is clear that we now need to face up to the question of why the Syrian cause has been transformed from one of citizens marching the streets to demand their civil rights and dignity into one of desperate fugitives. We can no longer ignore the root cause that has led to the displacement of millions of Syrians fleeing death and the war that has raged for over four years. What of the images of humanitarian crises that have not seen the light of day, which have not gone viral and which have not stirred public outrage? As dreadful as the plight of the refugees is, Europe and indeed the whole world will share the impact of this mass migration. Meanwhile, it is those who remain inside Syria whose fate is overlooked: the millions internally displaced, those who are living under constant bombardment by Bashar al-Assad’s forces, and those under siege by Isis.    Related: Can women make the world more peaceful?    There are now two photographs that represent the moral dilemma we face: the world famous image of Aylan drowned at sea and the forgotten image of the child victims of a chemical weapons attack. In one, a child lies dead on the beach; in the other, dozens of children lie choked to death by chemical bombs dropped on eastern Ghouta in August 2013.    The picture of Aylan has become a rallying cry, while that of the children suffocated by poison gas was suppressed, pushed from the public eye and erased from our memory. But these two images belong together, and the solution to the tragedy behind each of them lies in the other. The Syrian people have been reduced to fodder for a war stoked by the self-interest of international and regional players, while the country is shredded into zones under the control of either religious militias or regime forces. What responsibility lies with western governments for the fact that refugees, both poor and middle-class, are choosing death by drowning over remaining in the firing line of this war? And why did the international community sit on their hands four years ago when Bashar al-Assad’s regime began slaughtering his own people and turning his entire country into a mass grave, in response to the peaceful protests of 2011? Why has Assad’s regime been left to commit their daily massacre of the Syrian people?    I cannot think of the tragic horror that has resulted from this global failure of conscience, without going back to the root causes of this tragedy: the ghastly beast that is Isis is nothing but the consequence of the rich countries’ policies towards the poor ones. Yes, we need to find a solution to the refugee crisis, but let’s start by talking transparently and impartially about the underlying causes of this catastrophe that sees no end.    This piece was translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp. Samar Yazbek’s The Crossing – My Journey into the Shattered Heart of Syria is published by Rider Books Jan-Werner Mueller    This week, European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker lamented that the EU urgently needed both more Europe and more Union. This sounds like desperate pleading from the head of an institution that has been systematically weakened in recent years, with member state governments – above all, Germany – in the driver’s seat of the EU. But Juncker happens to be right. Both the euro-crisis and the “refugee crisis” have demonstrated that an EU in which nation-states constantly break rules and haggle about who bears the costs of failed policies is bound to lose legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens. The consequences for ordinary people are all too visible: from the suicides of austerity’s victims in Athens to the desperation of asylum seekers in Budapest.    Neither the euro nor the EU’s leading role in ensuring the dignity of refugees were pre-programmed into the project of European integration. Former EU commissioner Mario Monti once exclaimed that if one compared Europe to a cathedral, then the euro would be its most perfect spire. But the edifice – which is to say: a common market and a common legal order – would also stand without it. Less obviously, the EU took on the role of defending human rights only very recently. In the 1950s and for decades after, the division of labour had been clear-cut: the European Community was to promote peace and prosperity; the Council of Europe with its convention and court of human rights was to safeguard democracy and dignity. Today, the latter institutions are underfunded, unable to ensure the implementation of their decisions, and constantly under attack from national politicians, not least British Tories. By contrast, the EU looks like an organisation whose rules still enjoy respect.    Except when they don’t. It has become all too clear that the rules of the Eurozone are unenforceable, and that member states will have to keep striking ad-hoc deals – as has happened again this summer – to keep the currency union intact. Less obviously, the EU’s reputation as a defender of “fundamental European values” has suffered because member states – not so much Brussels – have condoned the egregious violation of such values by the Hungarian government under Viktor Orbán. Orbán has for years been busy dismantling his country’s democracy and stoking hatred of the EU; the fact that he now has overseen the mistreatment of refugees both to score political points domestically and to provoke the EU should surprise no one.    The German government, living up to national stereotype, has been most vocal in calling for consistent “rule-following”. It is often overlooked, though, that Germany has also been breaking agreements when convenient (including budget deficits) and tried to shape the rules to its own advantage. “Mama Merkel” was evidently happy with the lack of European solidarity, as long as refugees never left Lampedusa. This autumn, Germany can present itself as what a Green politician this week called “  Weltmeister  in the willingness to help” – but the government now also wants the pan-European solidarity it so clearly rejected in the Greek crisis, in the form of a redistribution of refugees across the union. Yet the EU cannot function if it is run according to the shifting moods of the German electorate (and subject to constant bickering among member states, some of which, like Hungary, seem willing to play with people’s lives to get its way). Trite as the call for “more Europe” in response to every challenge might sound, Juncker’s desperate call needs to be taken seriously.    Jan-Werner Mueller’s books include Memory and Power in Post-War Europe: Studies in the Presence of the Past Rana Dasgupta    Between the Napoleonic wars and the second world war, 70 million Europeans fled their homes looking for a new life in the “New World”.    This flight of the continent’s most discontented (and obstinately ambitious) peoples – along with the death of 130 million of their compatriots in the two world wars – acted as an essential safety valve to the social and political boiler of industrialising Europe. Without it, the comparative tranquillity of the post-1945 European order – that same tranquillity that, apparently, is now threatened by new waves of migration – would have looked very different.    The reason that such enormous numbers of the European proletariat were able to leave their countries and settle on the other side of the world was that, compared with our own era, that previous phase of globalisation placed fewer controls on movement. The mobility of capital was mirrored by the mobility of human beings, and this allowed great numbers of the human population to mitigate the turbulence of capitalist processes by simply leaving regions of devastation for better prospects of peace and economic advancement.    Since the 1960s, and with greater intensity after the 90s, the promise of mobility has been withdrawn from the majority of the world’s population. The fantasy of late-20th-century globalisation as a time of unfettered movement is convincing only in the enclaves of the world’s elites. For most people, borders are closed, and free international movement is the stuff of grandparents’ fond recollection.    Despite this, the world is now in a state where, for countless millions of people, leaving home is the only option, just as it was for so many desperate Europeans who went to the New World. Of course, today’s ravaged peoples require far more courage if they are to attempt such journeys, because the likelihood of success is much lower. They too read the newspapers in which the number of dead piling up at border crossings receives coverage. But for many in Sudan or Syria or Afghanistan the decision to leave remains rational, even when the risk of failure and even death is taken into account. Staying home is still worse.    How did their situation get so bad? Who bears responsibility? There is no simple answer, of course. But what is quite obvious is that the fatal state of much of the Middle East and Africa was not just generated internally. For reasons of cold war calculation or post-imperial prestige, the US, USSR, UK and France, among others, propped up authoritarian kleptocrats such as Saddam Hussein and Mobutu Sese Seko for decades, thus ensuring the destruction of vast swathes of the world’s social and human capital, and preparing the hopeless situation we see today.    The battle to remove that generation of strongmen – by Arab spring rebels, and by western military intervention – has torn up most of what remains, turning clan against clan in struggles that are all the more violent because there is no future imagination of the liberal nation-state, and those who do not win - and therefore rule – will die. Not only this, but the eagerness of western armies to drop bombs on non-western civilians has demonstrated to everyone that the full legal status of the human being does not apply to everyone. Laying waste to Iraq in order to remove Saddam Hussein was rather like bombing a house in order to solve a case of domestic violence: it had not even a veneer of legitimate legal process, victims were dispensed with in far greater numbers than perpetrators, and the consequences were worse than the original problem. The events of the last 15 years have not only filled such places with terror, they have also advertised to all the world’s people that the only way to enjoy the legal protections supposedly accruing to all human beings – even and especially in the eyes of the militarised west – is to lay one’s hands on a western passport.    So how can Europe possibly complain that so many people are turning up on its doorstep? How can Britain pretend to be surprised that its own wars have actually turned out to be real, and here are the victims to prove it? Which white-skinned god pronounced that Europe should remain blissfully, and uniquely, unaffected by the immense turmoil of the contemporary world?    Rana Dasgupta’s Capital: The Eruption of Delhi is out in paperback Ian Kershaw    Few can have been left untouched by the plight of the refugees fleeing at terrible risk and amid extraordinary hardship from the horrors of war-torn Syria. We have a moral duty to help as much as we can do, especially as we have contributed to causing the problem. The British government’s belated readiness to take in 20,000 migrants over five years is a mean response. But there is an uneasy balance between moral duty and political responsibility. It would be irresponsible to operate anything like an open-door policy when the total numbers involved are unknown (and might rise hugely were Damascus and Baghdad to fall to Isis).    Germany’s generosity stands in sharp contrast to Britain’s fortress mentality, though the early warm welcome for the refugees might quickly fade if the problems of resettlement are not rapidly solved and the numbers continue to grow at existing rates. The crisis is being tackled there through fairly rational distribution of refugees throughout the country, backed by significant economic support. That offers a model of what should happen here. A more generous, while still responsible, refugee policy could bring benefits for Britain in terms of international standing as well as possible economic advantages from the employment of skilled asylum seekers. Longer term, of course, a political solution in the Middle East has to be found. Drones and military hardware will not do the job. Looking to cooperate, rather than continue the standoff, with Russia and Iran would be a necessary start.    Ian Kershaw’s To Hell and Back: Europe, 1914-1949 is out this autumn Colm Tóibín    Near where I live in the centre of Dublin is a large building where asylum seekers are held. Many of them have been in Ireland for more than five years. They are not allowed to work. Ireland and Lithuania are the only two countries in the EU to impose this blanket ban on asylum seekers working. Until recently, the children of Irish asylum-seekers could go to school, but not to university; now only those in the system for more than five years can go to university. Asylum-seekers in Ireland are held in a sort of limbo; the adults are paid €19 a week. In their accommodation, there are many petty rules and regulations, and hardly any personal autonomy – 80% of the single adults held in this system have to share a room.    In the Republic of Ireland there are nearly 4,500 such people; 20% of them have been in this situation for more than seven years. There are children growing up in Ireland now who have known no other life than this, and have no reason to expect any immediate change.    It seemed a bit rich therefore last weekend, as public opinion shifted, for Ireland to move from agreeing to take 600 new refugees to agreeing to take 1,800 to suggesting 5,000. As each member of government was interviewed, the numbers went up as though they were playing a game of poker.    In the context of refugees and asylum seekers, Dublin has been a very frightening word not only for those held in the city (and throughout Ireland) under the system outlined above, but for asylum seekers and refugees in Europe generally. The Dublin regulation is a set of agreements between states within the EU. These regulations insist that refugees and asylum seekers can only have their cases heard in the country where they first applied for asylum. No other country can deal with their case. Ostensibly, the Dublin regulation was a way to stop asylum-seeking shopping for the softest country or the most affluent. But, in fact, it was a way for many countries to wash their hands of this refugee problem, or attempt to do so.    I use the past tense about the Dublin regulation, because last weekend the German government effectively tore it up without consulting anyone. I welcome the warmth with which the refugees were received in Germany. Since its government, however, has been active in preaching to the rest of us in the EU about rules, and skilled at using regulations as a way of wielding power within the union, it might be worth pointing out to Germany that it should have called for an emergency conference of European leaders before it acted, and that it should have asked the European commission to lead the way rather than behaving unilaterally.    I also welcome the German decision to accept hundreds of thousands of refugees. I wish Ireland would follow Germany’s example by dealing humanely, or less shamefully, with the 4,500 asylum seekers under our direct control. The question, however, is what will the status of these New Europeans be within Germany itself, and also, what will their status be should they wish to leave Germany and settle or move elsewhere within the Schengen area which comprises most of the EU with the exception of Ireland and the United Kingdom?    Colm Tóibín’s most recent novel is Nora Webster Gary Younge    A three-year-old’s body was what it took to make it clear that it was human beings we were talking about and not, as Katie Hopkins had described them, “ cockroaches ”. Like Kafka’s  Metamorphosis  in reverse, the “insect” became a person. And only then could the mob be momentarily marginalised and the polity embarrassed into reckoning with its moral and legal obligations.    The presence of this mob was not news. Fascism has returned as a mainstream ideology in Europe – its rhetoric infects the political culture like arsenic in the water supply.    When challenged on their refusal to acknowledge their responsibilities and admit refugees, leaders would point to the pressure from the far right. We have seen how mendacity, fear and bigotry could be galvanised to dictate an agenda based on misinformation and prejudice. Brits and Spaniards believe they have twice as many immigrants in their country as there actually are; in Hungary it’s eight times.    What was news were the huge numbers coming forward to offer shelter and sustenance. The people in Hungary who gave the refugees water and toys as they undertook their long march; the people in Germany who lined the streets to welcome them; the thousands of Icelanders who opened up their homes to refugees after the state offered to house just 50; the Brits who collected clothes and supplies and headed for the south coast.    These were the people I was never sure existed. People who were prepared to actively welcome refugees with a popular, spontaneous expression of humanity and generosity that, we had been told, had been sucked dry. People who were absent from every political calculation thus far. The political limits to this are obvious. A refugee crisis on this scale cannot be solved by individual acts of charity. Governments cannot be relieved of their international obligations.    But the potential of it should not be understated. If they can lend political form to their personal endeavours they, too, if mobilised, can set an agenda. Only then can they turn back the tide before another child like Aylan washes ashore.    Gary Younge writes for the Guardian Jeanette Winterson    Unlike President Putin I am not a supporter of “Basher” Assad, one of the many men in power today who would rather murder the world than change. I look at the US revving up around Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. I look at François Hollande, who has curiously little to say about France and its past with Syria – including bombing the place in 1946 when Syria wanted speedier independence from the French mandate.    The UK cannot act unilaterally in this crisis. We need to be part of Europe here, but Europe needs to be part of the world. By which I mean the refugee crisis is a global crisis. Just as the economic crisis was and is a global crisis. Just as  climate  change is affecting the whole world. We are one world, no matter how much razor wire there is, no matter what faith, what passport, what currency.    In any case, the map of the world has been made and remade by empires and wars, protectorates and mandates, coups, and covert de-stabilisation so many times – Syria being part of that tragedy, just as Palestine is part of that tragedy. We don’t need to do hand-wringing history. Endless apologies count for nothing. We do though need some knowledge of history – in part to counter the bewilderment of how the fuck did we get to this – as though a crisis, economic or refugee, or  climate  , is like some Old Testament plague.    Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek former finance minster, has argued that the economic crisis was inevitable, given the fact that late capitalism (he calls it bankruptocracy) works in the way that it does – rewarding not hard work or stable investment, but financialisation. Private equity asset-stripping is one example. Collateralised debt securites, another.    Climate  change is also inevitable – and it has nothing to do with this lit’le ole planet doing one of its periodic shifts – it has to do with the necrotic idiocy of human greed.    The refugee crisis is a global crisis. Just as the economic crisis is a global crisis. We are one world    Jeanette Winterson    I have been reading this week about how Sarah Palin would like to be energy secretary in a Trump government, so that she can take charge of the “gas, oil and minerals that God has dumped on this part of the Earth”, thoughtfully to avoid US dependence on other nations. Will she allow, say Africa, to hang on to all its God-dumped resources then? Maybe she doesn’t know that the US has run a trade deficit and a budget deficit since the 1970s.    Why are we even distinguishing between economic migrants and refugees when everyone on this planet has the same basic right to a basic life – food, shelter, safety, work, education, a peaceful future?    Our global crises are inevitable and they are warnings of seismic magnitude. The way we live is unsustainable at every level. Yes, the Arab nations, as well as Europe, need to pay for this disaster affecting millions of the world’s Muslims. The Saudis, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, UAE, will have to put aside their fears of demographic change and political instability, as we all will – because this crisis of migration isn’t going to go away. Yes, offer homes and open doors around the world – that’s the acute crisis that needs a response right now. But the chronic crisis is far scarier.    An old Jewish friend of mine says we carry two bags for our problems – one bag is time and money, the other is the life-and-death struggle. That’s where the world is now.    Jeanette Winterson’s books include her memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal ?                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-02 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
The battle to protect Alaska’s great wildlife sanctuary              At midnight on 29 June, the sun was directly north and well above the hills. It had not gone down since I arrived in the Arctic, three days earlier, and would not set for weeks. It rolled around the sky like a marble in a bowl, sometimes behind clouds or mountains or the smoke of the three or four hundred wildfires somewhere south of us, but never below the horizon. The midnight sun made the green hilltops glow gold, and lit our walk through the wildflowers and the clouds of mosquitoes to the mountaintop.    Down below, I could see our tents, our camp kitchen, tiny from the heights, and our two rafts, all along the sandy beach and flowery grass bench alongside the shallow Kongakut River. A few days earlier, a couple of bush planes had dropped off our group of nine for a week’s journey 65 miles down the river that threads its way from the Brooks Range of mountains to the northern coast of Alaska.    Ours was not one of the great ascents of history, but my companions and I were exhilarated by the beauty of the place and by the unusual feeling of hiking at midnight. We climbed high enough to be able to see over the rough treeless ranges to the Arctic Ocean and the coastal plain where we were headed. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is a remote fastness, separated from the rest of Alaska by the Brooks mountains across its southern perimeter, and numerous rivers winding down through the foothills and across the northern coastal plain to the Arctic Sea. It is a huge place where caribou, musk ox, wolves, bears and other wild creatures live pretty much as they always have.    As we travelled slowly north at the speed of the Kongakut River’s currents and our own paddling, Shell was sending a drilling rig to the Arctic Ocean. On 16 June, the company’s massive rig, the Polar Pioneer, had broken through a blockade of valiant activists in kayaks outside Seattle – the kayaktivists – and was being towed up the coast. It was expected to begin drilling by 24 July.    We were guests of the Sierra Club, the world’s oldest environmental group, whose experts had brought us at this critical juncture to experience this remote, fragile, pristine place during the new round of conflict over its fate. On 3 April, the Obama administration had announced a plan to recommend wilderness status for the most embattled parts of the ANWR, a move that would forever ban oil extraction from that land. However, on 17 August, with winter fast approaching, the administration gave Shell a permit for exploratory drilling just off the north coast of Alaska. This first drilling site was hundreds of miles to the west of the refuge, but oil spills travel. It was an ominous step for the future of the American Arctic. Next week, president Obama will visit Alaska, where he will address Arctic leaders on  climate  change. Somehow he will have to justify the administration’s decision to let Shell start drilling.    Drilling for oil in the Chukchi Sea poses layers of threat. The industrialisation of a wild place – noise, bustle, roads, industrial equipment on a grand scale, toxic chemicals – would cause a level of damage that scientists and environmentalists consider unacceptable. Chances of an oil spill from any wells dug beneath these seas are high, and cleanup is a reassuring misnomer rather than a practical reality in these cold, rough waters. Oil-spill cleanups are considered successful if they remove a modest percentage of the oil. Twenty-six years after the wreck of the oil tanker the Exxon Valdez in southern Alaska’s Prince William Sound, the wildlife and the fishing community there have not recovered from being drenched in dirty crude oil. A quarter of a million birds died in that disaster.    The refuge is as real as the wildflowers at our feet. But it also stands for the idea that some places can remain wild    We know that a viable future for the biosphere depends on leaving most of the known reserves of fossil fuel in the ground, so finding treacherous new locations from which to extract what activists call extreme oil, does not just tempt fate – it punches fate in the face. There is an ugly irony about extracting oil from one of the places already threatened by the effects of burning fossil fuel – where the summer ice is much reduced and temperatures are shooting up: you make the place complicit in its own destruction.    The refuge is as real as the bright wildflowers at our feet that glorious night and the clouds of mosquitoes buzzing around our heads, as tangible as the caribou that migrate through it annually to give birth on the coastal plain before they return to their winter homelands in Canada. But it is also a symbol. It stands for the idea that we do not need to devour everything, that some places can remain free and wild, that they do not need to be dominated by human beings or ravaged by our ravenous hunger for fossil fuel.    * * *    In 1960, just as Alaska was attaining statehood,  President Dwight D Eisenhower signed an order to set aside one wild corner of the region in perpetuity, excluding it from certain kinds of private development and exploitation. The nearly 9m acres became part of the vast lands that the US Fish and Wildlife Service manages; protection of wildlife was a principal goal, although the land was not given nearly the kind of protection that national parks get. In 1980, the protected area was doubled and given the name “refuge”. The Republican party and the petroleum companies for which it stands have long been demanding drilling on that coastal plain – the great expanse of tundra we were approaching on our journey, the plain that shone pinkish gold when we saw it from afar.    The coastal plain is also known as the 1002 area (a reference to section 1002 of the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act). The 1002 zone, comprising 1.5m of the arctic refuge’s 19m acres, does not have the protected status of the surrounding area and is vulnerable to exploitation if environmentalists lose the battle to protect it. The 1980 act laid the ground for the battles that have raged since. Although advocates for drilling in the refuge have claimed that the oil industry would bring economic benefits to the region, Republican figures about how much oil and how many jobs would be created are wildly exaggerated.    A bill to protect the coastal plain has been introduced in every session of Congress since 1986. Legislation to open the place to drilling was moving through Congress in 1989 when the Exxon Valdez oil spill stalled it. Bills to drill were introduced and blocked in 1991 and 1995. Exploiting the area was a key goal of the George W Bush administration, and huge battles over it were fought in the House and Senate during the Bush years. There were filibusters, dramatic speeches, shouting matches, monumental sulking by the Alaska delegation, and even the controversial moving of an exhibition of ANWR photographs by Subhankar Banerjee at the nearby Smithsonian to a less prestigious location after Senator Barbara Boxer held up the images to show the place’s beauty and vibrant wildlife. One critic noted that Banerjee’s lush colour photographs undermined then-secretary of the interior Gale Norton’s assertion that this place is “a flat white nothingness”.    The refuge is the great sacrificial beast at the altar of the cult of petroleum. As the former house majority leader Tom DeLay put it in 2001, once this great symbol is gone, “We feel very, very confident we will be able to crack the backs of radical environmentalists.” Drilling in the refuge would suggest that the fossil fuel corporations have won, and that nothing is too good, too pristine, too ecologically valuable to set aside from that pursuit. The state of Alaska has made its own stabs at opening up the ANWR to industrial development; a lawsuit brought in district court by the state to do so was fought by a dozen environmental groups and rejected by the judge on 21 July of this year.    Climate  change is already disordering this place in countless ways: thawing permafrost and vanishing sea ice are radically changing the very surface of land and sea, while the wildfires that break out in Alaska’s rapidly warming weather are increasing. Almost 400 fires scorched Alaska in June of this year, the worst month on record for fire in the state, with 1.6m acres burnt. Some of the fires burned the forest floor itself – a deep accumulation of moss, twigs, needles, and other fuel – down to the permafrost, making that permafrost more vulnerable to melting or melting it directly.    We will leave the Age of Petroleum behind. Whether we do so willingly and in time to limit the devastation of  climate  change, or only after all the carbon in the depths of the earth has been extracted, burned, and returned to the upper atmosphere, is what the fight is about.    * * *    The southern border of the refuge  curls around Arctic Village, where we stopped to refuel. Its scatter of brightly coloured little houses, a community centre, general store, and lots of free-roaming dogs constitutes the political and cultural centre of the US Gwich’in tribe. A larger population of Gwich’in people lives on the Canadian side of the border, and the Gwich’in ancestral lands are roughly similar to the range of the huge Porcupine caribou herd (named after the Porcupine River). These hunter-gatherers have historically derived a great deal of their food and some of their clothing from these tough, magnificent animals. They, in turn, survived winters by pawing beneath the snow for fodder – until  climate  change began to bring freak thaws that melt the snow and then freeze it into thick, impenetrable ice.    Most Gwich’in are ardently opposed to drilling in the ANWR and the Arctic Ocean, and this has set them in opposition to the majority of Alaskans, including other indigenous groups. Alaska is an economy based on mining and drilling, one where petroleum companies wield more political influence than any other group, and where residents receive annual cheques from the oil royalties – $1,884 last year. Some members of the coastal Inupiat community, the Gwich’in’s neighbours to the north, have supported drilling – or at least some Inupiat members of the isolated island town of Kaktovik off the coast of the refuge have.    As Dan Ritzman, leader of our expedition and the Sierra Club ’s Arctic expert, told me afterwards, “The 250-person community of Kaktovik is in the uncomfortable position of being physically located in a place that matters nationally. This place is, for them, simply their backyard, and it is at times confusing and even insulting that people across the Lower 48 and beyond would care, and take action to decide how that land is managed. Some people in the community think drilling should occur in the refuge; and others think it should not be drilled. At the heart of the issue for this Inupiat community is the ability to participate in deciding what does or does not happen on this land. That part of the community is finding its voice more and more.”    The Gwich’in have been articulate about their opposition to drilling ever since it was first proposed in the 1980s. As Gwich’in leader Sarah James said many years ago, “The coastal plain itself is a birthing place for so many creatures that we call it ‘Where Life Begins’. Fish come here from the Arctic Ocean to spawn. Polar bears make their dens along the coast. Wolves and grizzlies and wolverines have their young here. And many kinds of birds from different parts of the world come here to nest.” Female polar bears give birth in their winter dens on the plain, and the Porcupine caribou herd comes here, to this place relatively safe from predators and insects, to give birth every summer.    In the city of Fairbanks, Alaska, the night before we flew to the Arctic, two Gwich’in leaders, Princess Daazhraii Johnson, and her brother, former tribal chair and current university vice-chancellor Evon Peter, joined us for dinner. They talked about their struggle to protect this place and what it means to pit yourself against most of the politicians and industrial powers in the state. As Princess Johnson put it recently: “A birthing ground is no place for a battlefield. Each summer up to 40,000 calves from the Porcupine caribou herd are born and nurse on the coastal plain of the refuge. Protecting the coastal plain of the refuge is about upholding our rights to continue our Native ways of life as our communities depend upon the Porcupine caribou herd to survive.”    * * *    In many ways, the animals are still in charge  in the ANWR, or at least – in many of the encounters with the 250 or so species of bird and mammal in residence there – humans are not. White gulls dive-bombed us on the trip, seemingly indignant to see humans at all. A moose could trample or gore you – and Alaska’s irascible moose are the largest of their kind, standing upward of seven feet at the shoulder, the males sporting broad paddle-like antlers that spread several feet. In a willow grove near the Kongakut River, on our first day’s hike, we found a waterlogged antler that a moose had shed: it was staggeringly heavy and looked as though it might make a nice cradle for a baby. The strength of the neck that could carry the weight of two of these was impressive to contemplate.    And then there are bears, grizzly bears,  Ursus arctos horribilis  . The males weigh up to three quarters of a ton and, standing on their hind legs, tower high above a human. Their fangs are thick ivory daggers; their claws, curved black stilettos. Ritzman told us about a pilot who recently had to shoot a bear at the very site where we were camping – the bear charged at him and he fired warning shots with his.44. That sometimes works but in this case it did not do much, so he shot the bear at close range. The huge slug did not kill it, but it did amble off after being hit. Ritzman mentioned that you do not want to shoot a full-grown grizzly in the head; bullets can ricochet off their skulls, which are up to two inches thick. His advice to us took the form of bear etiquette: if you are intruding on the bear, apologise and back away – but never turn your back. If the bear is intruding on you, look big, give a show of strength, let it know you are not an easy meal. We walked around that week cognisant that we were potential meals, easy or not. We were careful about going off alone and gave warnings – claps or shouts – when we went into the willow brush or anywhere else we might surprise a bear.    We saw a grizzly the first evening we spent on the shores of the Kongakut. Some of the members of our expedition were already in their tents when Ritzman and guide Peter Elstner saw a bear lumbering along the steep mountainside less than a mile from us. Through a spotting scope it was easy to watch the light brown creature meander in and out of willow clumps, sniffing for food, not in a hurry. As it turned this way and that, I was reminded that though the front end of a bear is formidable, the rear end, tail tucked into its hindquarters, is abject, almost apologetic-looking. The guides speculated on whether they would have to keep watch all night with Peter’s 12-gauge shotgun to scare them off. But when the bear began clambering down the slope toward the flat river expanse we were camped on, it paused, perhaps sniffed the air and us, then turned tail and loped off. I took that for, perhaps, youthful exuberance, but Peter thought it was a clear sign it had had a bad experience with humans and did not want another one. The guides were going to be able to sleep after all.    Related: The new cold war: drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic    Though the wildlife of the place is rich, and though we saw dall sheep on a steep, stony slope, a tiny white Arctic fox at the end of the journey, bald eagles, hawks, common merganser ducks, eider ducks, arctic terns and various kinds of gulls, we did not see the caribou we had hoped for. This time of year, they are here in the refuge in huge numbers – the Porcupine caribou herd, now numbering about 169,000, migrates from Canada’s Yukon/Northwest Territories every spring to calve on the north slope, then returns with the calves to its winter grazing lands. We saw traces everywhere: antlers, other bones, hoof prints, dung, and once a great hank of soft, woolly underhair, part of the winter coat that a musk ox had shed. But the animals had gone before us, perhaps pushed onward by the warmer-than-usual weather.    Birds from all 50 states and every continent but Australia come to the refuge in summer; it is a major nesting site for migratory birds. This place is already changing as the  climate  does: new species are advancing north, ones adapted to earlier conditions are now in decline. Red foxes are spreading north, invading the territory and preying on the cubs of the smaller arctic fox. The old model of protecting the earth meant putting barriers around the most beautiful and the most ecologically significant places, making parks and preserves and refuges. By the early 1960s, the idea that anything could ever be kept separate enough to protect it had to be retired.    The effects of  climate  change in Alaska demonstrate that we must think systemically, that everything is connected    The effects of  climate  change in Alaska demonstrate that we must think systemically, that everything is connected. The Arctic is hard hit by changes caused elsewhere: Alaska is a capital of  climate  -change deniers but it is also a place that is burning, melting, and metamorphosing at terrifying speed. And when  climate  change unfolds in the Arctic, the feedback loops make it all worse. As white sea ice, which reflects sunlight and heat back to the heavens, loses area in the Arctic seas, the dark water beneath it absorbs sunshine and accelerates the heating of our oceans. As new heat records are set in Alaska, the permafrost melts. There are local impacts from melting tundra – buildings and infrastructure tip and tilt when once-solid foundations turn to mush, and the methane beneath the permafrost begins to emerge, preventing ice from forming on lakes. The emergence of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from the thawing north also has global significance.  Climate  change feeds  climate  change, and the far north disintegrates.    There was one species of wildlife we saw far more than we wanted to and that, until the cold end of our journey, we were almost never without, no matter the wind, the rain, or the smoke. Alaska’s most ubiquitous and least-loved wild animal is a droning grey insect hungry for blood. Humans have some options to avoid them – mosquito nets, protective clothing, repellent sprays – caribou have nothing but immersion in water and migration into the stronger winds and lower temperatures of the Arctic coast. The stings can drive them mad, and they lose a lot of blood to the insects. Mosquitoes are, on the other hand, a key food for a lot of birds. The warm weather and swarms of insects may have driven the caribou on before us. After we left the refuge, we met a woman who lived alone at a refuelling station who had, the day before, from a small plane, seen a herd she estimated at three miles wide and 20 miles long.    To the west of the ANWR is the massive infrastructure of the Prudhoe Bay oil-extracting region now run by BP. I saw it from the air; it looked like a behemoth of a factory that had been disassembled across a vast plain: pipes, roads, structures, vehicles. Prudhoe’s oil fields began producing in 1977, peaked about a decade later, and have declined in productivity to about 300,000 barrels a day. More than 1,000 square miles have been industrialised to produce the crude that is sent 800 miles along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline to Valdez on the south coast. About 450 oil and toxic chemical spills occur annually.    Millions of gallons of industrial chemical and toxic byproducts stored on site mean that the place will never be pristine, even when the last barrel of crude has travelled down the pipeline. Prudhoe Bay’s industrialised landscape, with its factory-like structures, its hundreds of miles of pipelines, its 1,114 oil wells, its roads, and its residues, is a reminder of what petroleum extraction on land really means.    * * *    Alaska is remote and lightly populated;  the ANWR even more so. No human beings live permanently in the refuge, and only 300 permits a year are granted for visitors, most of whom come for only a brief stay during the summer months. The state of Alaska itself is estimated to have more caribou than people. Its land mass is a little larger than France, but while that country has 68 million people, Alaska’s population is only about 736,000.    There is something magical about being in the refuge. Imagine that you are hundreds of miles from the nearest building, the nearest road, that you are in a realm of no advertisements, no marketing, no commerce, no electronic communications, few machines but the tiny bush planes that drop off and pick up explorers, that all that bustle and distraction and racket and almost all the earth’s human population is to the south of you. You are entirely immersed in the luminous midsummer light that never stops.    We woke up the last morning before we reached the sea in a flowering meadow spreading west from the riverbank. Vivid blue-violet lupins, magenta fireweed, fragrant dark pink sweet peas and pale Indian paintbrush bloomed on the green ground. It looked like grasslands, unless you got down on your knees and saw how little grass was visible among the low plants, mosses and lichens – the food the caribou depend on. This Arctic prairie stretched on, low and level, far further than the eye could see. It seemed as though you could walk forever on it, or at least for days, until you came to the next river.    The evening we made camp there, some of the people who went out for a long stroll came back exalted, saying that it seemed like heaven, as though your deceased grandmother, your long-dead dog, your childhood friends might come up and greet you in that unearthly light, that endless openness. The flowery plain was scattered with caribou antlers: the delicate backswept branching antlers of female caribou, the sturdier antlers of male caribou, sometimes with mosses growing on the older ones. Near our tents, patches of the prairie had been peeled up by bears, but we did not see large animals there, just their traces. And then we got into our rafts and the morning of flowers turned into the afternoon of ice.    First there was a shelf of ice –  aufeis  , as Germans named it, or ice on top – that in the coldest places spreads out when a river flows and freezes. This process repeats over and over, the ice damming the water behind it so that more and more of it spreads further and further, creating a plateau of ice far beyond the riverbanks. We floated on our small rafts by a single shelf of it – startling to see in what looked like a summer landscape – and then were surrounded by high walls of white and pale blue ice on either side of the shallow river. A mile or two into this new realm, Ritzman and Elstner pulled the rafts onto gravel bars and we got out in our high rubber boots to explore, sloshing through the clear, chilly water.    In some places, ledges of ice had been undercut by the flowing water and they sometimes fell off, crashing like thunder. In others, surface melt carved meandering streams that flowed in curving little beds, darker against the white ice, then formed waterfalls as they fed the river. Sometimes the ice cracked, and some of the cracks were blue within. That blue! It is a cold, pale, otherworldly colour, an ethereal turquoise, as cold as cold blue can be. We were now in the deep Arctic, the blue, grey and white world, the unearthly earth, the place so northern that this world of winter ice had survived into midsummer. Everyone was exhilarated to have arrived.    Some of us stayed up most of the night to see what the sun would do. It looked as though it was going to set, because it was a fiery red. A long streak reflected across the still water, though it remained well above the horizon. A small white Arctic fox fled away from us toward the eastern end of the sandbar. The thunder of  aufeis  breaking came from south of us. There were no seashells on this shore, but huge grey tree trunks that must have washed up the Mackenzie River and out to sea lay on the gravel sand, here where the only trees for many miles were low willows. I kept finding heart-shaped rocks at my feet.    It felt utterly peaceful if not entirely safe – it was too stark for that. Somewhere far south of us the Polar Pioneer was being towed toward the Arctic Ocean. A few days later, Shell’s icebreaker the Fennica was found to have a huge gash in its hull, caused by an underwater rock, and sent back to Portland, Oregon, for repairs, where it too was blockaded, this time by climbers who suspended themselves on ropes across the channel, then by kayakers, and finally by a few passionate swimmers who threw themselves in on the spur of the moment. The Fennica is supposed to be critical to addressing an oil spill, except that it had already proven itself frighteningly vulnerable in the rough waters it was supposed to traverse. All that frenzied activity seemed far away as we walked along that beach at the end of the world.    This was not a comfortable or easy place, but it was a serene and exhilarating one. Even for those who will never visit these remote shores, the idea of them, the images of them, the knowledge of them, brings an expansiveness to the heart and mind that is tantamount to hope and faith. The value of places that let us dream big and coexist with the other species who share this earth cannot be measured.    • Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, or sign up to the long read weekly email here.                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-01 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
In Alaska, Obama Makes Pointed Appeal for Global  Climate  Change Action      By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS and STEVEN LEE MYERS            ANCHORAGE -- President Obama on Monday issued a global call for urgent action to address  climate  change, declaring that the United States was partly to blame for what he called the defining challenge of the century and would rally the world to counter it.    "  Climate  change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here, it is happening now," Mr. Obama said here at an international conference on the Arctic. "We're not acting fast enough. I have come here today, as the leader of the world's largest economy and its second-largest emitter, to say that the United States recognizes our role in creating the problem, and we embrace our responsibility to help solve it."    In remarks that bordered on the apocalyptic, Mr. Obama warned that the effects of global warming that have hit the Arctic the hardest would soon engulf the world -- submerging entire countries, annihilating cities and leaving fields barren -- unless more was done to reduce emissions. Four times in a 24-minute speech, he repeated his assertion that "we're not acting fast enough."    The president spoke at the beginning of a three-day Alaska trip choreographed to lend vivid visual justification -- in the form of receding glaciers, eroded shorelines and rising seas -- to his drive for an international accord to reduce heat-trapping emissions leading up to a United Nations summit meeting in Paris in December.    Mr. Obama has pledged that the United States will cut emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025. After winning a similar pledge last year from China, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the president hopes to reach what Secretary of State John Kerry, the host of the conference, called "a truly ambitious and truly global  climate  agreement."    "This year, in Paris," the president said, "has to be the year that the world finally reaches an agreement to protect the one planet that we've got while we still can."    Mr. Obama wants his fight against  climate  change to be a central piece of his legacy, and he planned this week's journey with history in mind.    He will hike Exit Glacier in the Kenai Mountains of southern Alaska on Tuesday and tour it by boat, meeting up along the way with Bear Grylls, the wilderness survivalist, to tape a segment for his NBC program, "Running Wild With Bear Grylls." On Wednesday, the president will meet with fishermen in Dillingham, known as the salmon capital of the world, and travel to Kotzebue, above the Arctic Circle, in a region where  climate  change has contributed to coastal erosion that is causing villages to crumble.    On Monday, Mr. Obama offered no new proposals in his speech to foreign ministers at a convention center in downtown Anchorage, nor did he address the contradictions in choosing Arctic Alaska, where he has just approved offshore oil drilling by Royal Dutch Shell, for his call to action on the  climate  .    Protesters lined the streets outside the conference center on Monday, holding a yellow flag with Shell's logo that said "Hell, no!" along with a giant banner that said "Save the Arctic." In a state that is heavily dependent on oil revenue, the issue is divisive, with environmental activists opposing Arctic drilling but many residents and officials saying it is a matter of survival.    In his speech, Mr. Obama defended his record on  climate  change and laid out his case for the stringent carbon emissions rules he announced in August.    "We are working hard to do our part to meet this challenge, and in doing so, we're proving that there doesn't have to be a conflict between a sound environment and strong economic growth," Mr. Obama said, taking on an argument often cited by industry leaders and opponents of pollution limits.    And he offered scathing criticism of those who question the need for such measures or deny the science behind them, making an implicit dig at Republican presidential candidates. "Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone," Mr. Obama said. "They're on their own shrinking island."    He also challenged what he suggested was complacency by ordinary citizens who fear they could be deprived of creature comforts. "Let's be honest; there's always been an argument against taking action," Mr. Obama said. "We don't want our lifestyles disrupted. The irony, of course, is that few things will disrupt our lives as profoundly as  climate  change."    In a particularly striking warning, Mr. Kerry said in a speech earlier on Monday that  climate  change -- reflected by what he called "seismic changes" in temperatures and sea levels -- could soon create waves of new refugees forced to abandon traditional homes or to fight for food and water.    "You think migration is a challenge to Europe today because of extremism, wait until you see what happens when there's an absence of water, an absence of food or one tribe fighting against another for mere survival," Mr. Kerry said.    He compared the scale of the challenge to World War II, when "all of Europe was overrun by evil and civilization itself seemed to be in peril," and said world leaders needed to rise to the occasion to address it.    The conference -- and Mr. Obama's visit -- reflect a growing focus on the Arctic as the changing  climate  creates economic opportunities but also intensifies threats to the environment, to infrastructure and to old ways of life for the four million people who live above the Arctic Circle.    The United States and many of the nations represented issued a joint statement on Monday afternoon reiterating promises to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, including methane, and of the soot, or black carbon, from industry, automobiles and open fires. China and India did not sign the statement.    Mr. Kerry was accompanied by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and the White House's director of science and technology, John P. Holdren. Dr. Holdren presented a bleak, dispassionate report on diminished glaciers, melting permafrost, rising sea levels and the spread of wildfires that, he said, had already burned 31 million acres this year in Alaska, Canada and Russia.    "Fires are now occurring in the tundra, which didn't used to happen," he said.    If emissions are not reduced, Dr. Holdren said, temperatures could rise seven degrees, far above the threshold at which scientists predict drastic and potentially deadly consequences.              Figure(s) :      PHOTO: President Obama spoke to foreign ministers at a conference in Anchorage at the beginning of his three-day trip through Alaska. (PHOTOGRAPH BY DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES)             

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-19 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
The Observer view on the threat posed by antibiotic-resistant infections              The discovery of penicillin almost 90 years ago remains one of the most significant ever medical advances. A world without working antibiotics is a terrifying prospect: a minor cut might be life-threatening; transformative elective surgery such as hip replacements would become a thing of the past; and treatments that rely on suppressing immune systems, such as cancer treatment and organ transplants, would be rendered virtually impossible. It’s an apocalyptic scenario, and one that scientists are warning could be more imminent than we might be tempted to think.    This week, Public Health England reported an outbreak of a highly resistant strain of gonorrhoea – a sexually transmitted disease that experts think could become untreatable by existing antibiotics in as little as a decade. Microbial resistance currently accounts for almost 50,000 deaths a year in the UK and Europe but by 2050 it is predicted it could cause 10 million avoidable deaths a year, 90% in Africa and Asia. And new research, published last Thursday, has mapped patterns of antibiotic use and microbial resistance across the world for the first time. It reveals microbial resistance is growing worldwide, and is now becoming an increasing problem in middle-income countries, where healthcare regulation has not kept pace with the ability of a new global middle class to pay for drugs.    Two significant issues underpin the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant infection. First, a new class of antibiotics has not been brought to market for almost 30 years. Global pharmaceutical companies simply haven’t invested in the development of new antibiotics: drugs used to treat cancer and manage long-term conditions are far more lucrative. Bacterial evolution is therefore outpacing antibiotic discovery. Second, bacterial evolution is itself being accelerated by human behaviours, through the global overuse of antibiotics in healthcare and the agricultural industry.    The good news is that scientists think this apocalypse is eminently avoidable with enough energy and investment. There have been promising developments, such as the discovery of teixobactin, a potentially new class of antibiotic that works against some types of drug-resistant bacteria. Reducing the inappropriate use of antibiotics in healthcare and agriculture is difficult, but not impossible. But there are big questions whether this issue is being accorded sufficiently high priority by national governments and international institutions.    This is a war that needs fighting on both fronts. First, governments need to work more closely with the pharmaceutical industry to pave the way for more investment. The antimicrobial review committee, chaired by economist Jim O’Neill, produced initial recommendations earlier this year. They included the creation of a global antibiotics fund to invest in early stage research, and paying significant rewards to companies successfully developing antibiotics to be sold on a not-for-profit basis.    But it must be set up in the right way: too often, pharmaceutical lobbying has meant government cash ends up subsidising investment it would have made anyway, like the UK government’s ill-conceived Patent Box. O’Neill argues the pharma industry must be encouraged to make a fair contribution, drawing parallels with the failure of the banking industry to prevent the global financial crash.    Tackling the overuse of antibiotics is just as critical, but this has received even less international attention than the development of new antibiotics. There needs to be international agreement on how antibiotics are prescribed in healthcare. This has long been an issue in the wealthy west, where doctors have been too quick to prescribe precious broad-spectrum antibiotics as an alternative to diagnosis and more targeted use of more specific types of antibiotic. But it is a growing problem in mid-income, high-growth countries. In some of these, antibiotics are available over the counter without prescription. Like international  climate  change agreements, agreement on antibiotic use will need to be sensitive to gaping disparities in regional income, differential access to healthcare and the fact that rich countries remain the highest per-capita users of antibiotics.    The medical profession also needs to step up and take this issue more seriously, given the number of instances where antibiotics are prescribed where they shouldn’t be – for example, to address common cold viruses. But there also needs to be more investment into developing the rapid diagnostic tools that will allow doctors to test for infection then and there, making a more informed decision about whether a particular course of antibiotics is appropriate.    International agreements should also cover the use of antibiotics in the meat industry, a bigger global consumer of antibiotics than healthcare. Shockingly, antibiotics are often being used simply to fatten livestock rather than for any disease prevention measures.    All this is achievable, but it will require significant and coordinated international action on a similar scale to that needed to address  climate  change. Yet while microbial resistance arguably poses no lesser threat, it does not even feature in the UN’s sustainable development goals, intended to shape the global sustainable development agenda over the next 15 years.    The stakes are incredibly high. But at every level there’s a classic collective action dilemma: whether it’s national governments waiting to see who will provide leadership first; big pharma companies for whom there is little short-term incentive to invest but whose most profitable drugs might eventually be rendered useless by a lack of functioning antibiotics; or parents who want antibiotics prescribed for their child’s cold just in case they have an effect. There is even less evidence of international appetite to address this than there is in  climate  change.    In the 21st century, much of human progress is being propelled forwards by the exponential rate of technological advancement. But this helps neither with microbial resistance nor with  climate  change – two of the biggest global challenges of our time.    If we leave it much longer to act, bacterial evolution will simply outpace medicine’s ability to kill dangerous infections, with cataclysmic consequences. If we allow microbial resistance to continue to develop unfettered, it could be the biggest step back for human progress since the early middle ages.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-19 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Energy-efficient homes could worsen asthma, warns study              The number of Britons with asthma could almost double by 2050 because the air inside homes is becoming more polluted as they become more energy-efficient, a new report warns.    The trend towards airtight houses could also worsen allergies as well as breathing problems, and even exacerbate lung cancer and heart problems, according to a leading expert in indoor air quality.    Airborne pollutants created by cooking, cleaning and using aerosols such as hairsprays will increasingly stay indoors and affect people’s health as homes are made ever more leak-proof to help meet carbon reduction targets, a report by Professor Hazim Awbi claims. Small amounts of chemicals found in detergents can stay on the fibres of washed clothes, be emitted into the air and combine with particulate matter from logs burned in a real fire, for example.    “Poor indoor air quality is connected with a range of undesirable health effects, such as allergic and asthma symptoms, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, airborne respiratory infections and cardiovascular disease,” says the report written by Awbi, who is professor of the built environment at Reading University’s school of construction management and engineering. “With the expected increase in airtightness for UK dwellings, it is anticipated that indoor air quality will generally become poorer, resulting in an increase in the number of cases of health symptoms related to poorer indoor environment quality.”    People with long-term health conditions and three groups who spend a lot of time indoors – young mothers, children and older people – will be particularly at risk, the report says.    It predicts that by 2050 – the date by which Britain is supposed to have achieved an 80% cut in carbon emissions – declining indoor air quality could have led to:    ¦ An 80% rise in the 5.4 million people already suffering from asthma.    ¦ Concentrations of volatile organic compounds – chemicals linked to the use of aerosols – being 60% above World Health Organisation 24-hour limits.    ¦ Nitrogen dioxide levels rising to 30% above the WHO’s limits.    The report’s findings reflect growing concern that indoor pollutants, not just fumes and other chemicals in the outdoor environment, can damage health. The WHO has already identified indoor air quality as a health hazard. And Public Health England, an agency funded by the Department of Health, is finalising a report on “  climate  change and the domestic indoor environment”, which it will publish before Christmas.    Lack of proper ventilation in both newly built homes and those that have been refurbished to reduce their consumption of gas or electricity is storing up future health problems, Awbi said.    “Many people spend 70-80% of their time at home, or even as much as 90% indoors if you include workplaces. Given that the average person takes in 500 litres of air an hour, if the air you are breathing in is polluted, you can imagine how much of this pollution is going to be absorbed,” he added.    He fears that increasingly airtight houses in which too little fresh air gets in are causing indoor air quality to deteriorate and preventing pollutants from being dispersed quickly. Humidity caused by poor ventilation also helps the proliferation of mould and house dust mites, which can cause asthma and other allergic conditions, according to Professor Peter Howarth, a professor of allergy and respiratory diseases at Southampton University.    Formaldehyde, a toxic gas emitted by wooden furniture, can also be problematic, added Howarth, who said he believed Awbi’s estimates were a realistic assessment of the harm to human health if building regulations are not overhauled to improve ventilation and ensure “air exchange”.    Simply opening windows to let in fresh air is not enough, and some form of mechanical ventilation is needed, according to Awbi.    “Poor indoor air quality can have a negative effect on people’s health, including aggravating asthma,” said Dr Sotiris Vardoulakis, Public Health England’s’s head of environmental change. “While energy-efficient houses will help address  climate  change, it is important to ensure that adequate ventilation levels are maintained and indoor air pollution sources minimised to protect public health.”    Related: How do I know if I really have asthma?    Awbi’s report was funded by Beama, a body which represents the UK’s electro-technical industry, which includes firms that install ventilation systems.    Andrew Proctor, director of advice and support at Asthma UK, said: “We know that indoor exposure to allergens can be a real problem for some people with asthma, but it is difficult to avoid them.” The one in 11 Britons with asthma should always seek help promptly when they have symptoms suggesting an attack, he said.    The Department for Energy and  Climate  Change said simply that government was committed to ensuring energy efficiency improvements in homes met the highest standards of installation.                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-19 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
A Wet Winter Won't Save California      By NOAH S. DIFFENBAUGH and CHRISTOPHER B. FIELD            STANFORD, Calif. -- As wildfires rage, crops are abandoned, wells run dry and cities work to meet mandatory water cuts, drought-weary Californians are counting on a savior in the tropical ocean: El Niño.    This warming of the tropical Pacific occurs about every five years, affecting  climate  around the globe and bringing heavy winter precipitation to parts of California. The state experienced two of its wettest years during two of the strongest El Niños, in 1982-83 and 1997-98.    Now climatologists have confirmed that a powerful El Niño is building, and forecasts suggest a high likelihood that El Niño conditions will persist through the next several months. So we in California expect a rainy winter.    But before everyone gets too excited, it is important to understand this: Two physical realities virtually ensure that Californians will still face drought, regardless of how this El Niño unfolds.    The first is that California has missed at least a year's worth of precipitation, meaning that it would take an extraordinarily wet rainy season to single-handedly break the drought. Even if that happened, we would most likely suffer from too much water too fast, as occurred in the early 1980s and late 1990s, when El Niño delivered more rainfall than aquifers could absorb and reservoirs could store.    The second is that California is facing a new  climate  reality, in which extreme drought is more likely. The state's water rights, infrastructure and management were designed for an old  climate  , one that no longer exists.    Our research has shown that global warming has doubled the odds of the warm, dry conditions that are intensifying and prolonging this drought, which now holds records not only for lowest precipitation and highest temperature, but also for the lowest spring snowpack in the Sierra Nevada in at least 500 years. These changing odds make it much more likely that similar conditions will occur again, exacerbating other stresses on agriculture, ecosystems and people.    At the same time, extreme wet periods may also increase because a warming atmosphere can carry a larger load of water vapor. In a possible preview, persistent El Niño conditions this year could force Californians to face both flooding and drought simultaneously. The more rainfall there is, the more water will be lost as runoff or river flow, increasing the risk of flooding and landslides. Add in the fact that the drought and wildfires have hardened the ground, and a paradox arises wherein the closer El Niño comes to delivering enough precipitation to break the drought this year, the greater the potential for those hazards.    In the United States, we experienced more than 80 "billion-dollar"  climate  and weather disasters in the last decade, and several have cost much more. The regularity of these episodes and the resulting damage shows that we are not prepared for the current  climate  , let alone a changing one that portends more weather extremes.    From these disasters, we can take away two lessons: Increasing resilience now can build protection for the future, and stressed systems are more prone to disasters.    For instance, the risk from a period of extremely low water supply in California is far greater when high temperatures, like those we've seen here over the last two years, prolong drought. There are also risks when the combined demands of households, manufacturing, farming and ecosystems tax water supplies even in good years, or when forest management practices create conditions that fuel fires. Californians will benefit by reducing these interacting stresses.    We are not arguing that the drought has been caused by  climate  change alone, or that all weather disasters have a link to  climate  change. However, the evidence is clear that many areas of the globe are experiencing increasing risks from weather and  climate  hazards. As with the California drought,  climate  change is an important thumb on the scale, increasing the odds of particular extremes in specific places.    In California, we can expect warmer winters and hotter summers, drier dry years and wetter wet years, and less water storage from snowpack in the mountains, which also controls flooding. This means more years with extreme fire danger, critically overdrawn groundwater, legal water rights that exceed the amount of water available and challenges to balancing trade-offs among water storage, flood control and environmental protection.    We have opportunities to rethink the fundamental structure of water rights and markets, re-engineer water storage to compensate for decreasing snowpack, update regulations and infrastructure to embrace water reuse and recycling, and regulate end-user pricing to encourage conservation. In short, we benefit from incorporating  climate  -related risks in planning for California's future.    Fortunately, California has many assets, including historical experience, robust institutions, sophisticated science and engineering expertise and financial flexibility. Capitalizing on these assets can reduce risks today and set a path for a vibrant future. Doing so will begin by acknowledging that we are already living in a rapidly changing  climate  .    Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.              Figure(s) :      DRAWING (DRAWING BY ANGIE WANG)          Note(s) :  Noah S. Diffenbaugh is an associate professor of earth system science at Stanford. Christopher B. Field is director of the department of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science.           

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-18 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Hitler’s world may not be so far away              It was 20 years after I chose to become a historian  that I first saw a photograph of the woman who made my career possible. In the small photograph that my doctoral supervisor, her son, showed me in his Warsaw apartment, Wanda J radiates self-possession, a quality that stood her in good stead during the Nazi occupation. She was a Jewish mother who protected herself and her two sons from the German campaign of mass murder that killed almost all of her fellow Warsaw Jews. When her family was summoned to the ghetto, she refused to go. She moved her children from place to place, relying upon the help of friends, acquaintances and strangers. When first the ghetto and then the rest of the city of Warsaw were burned to the ground, what counted, she thought, was the “faultless moral instinct” of the people who chose to help Jews.    Most of us would like to think that we possess a “moral instinct”. Perhaps we imagine that we would be rescuers in some future catastrophe. Yet if states were destroyed, local institutions corrupted and economic incentives directed towards murder, few of us would behave well. There is little reason to think that we are ethically superior to the Europeans of the 1930s and 1940s, or for that matter less vulnerable to the kind of ideas that Hitler so successfully promulgated and realised. A historian must be grateful to Wanda J for her courage and for the trace of herself that she left behind. But a historian must also consider why rescuers were so few. It is all too easy to fantasise that we, too, would have aided Wanda J. Separated from National Socialism by time and luck, we can dismiss Nazi ideas without contemplating how they functioned. It is our very forgetfulness of the circumstances of the Holocaust that convinces us that we are different from Nazis and shrouds the ways that we are the same. We share Hitler’s planet and some of his preoccupations; we have perhaps changed less than we think.    The Holocaust began with the idea that no human instinct was moral. Hitler described humans as members of races doomed to eternal and bloody struggle among themselves for finite resources. Hitler denied that any idea, be it religious, philosophical or political, justified seeing the other (or loving the other) as oneself. He claimed that conventional forms of ethics were Jewish inventions, and that conventional states would collapse during the racial struggle. Hitler specifically, and quite wrongly, denied that agricultural technology could alter the relationship between people and nourishment.    Hitler’s alternative to science and politics was known as Lebensraum, which meant “habitat” or “ecological niche”. Races needed ever more  Lebensraum  , “room to live”, in order to feed themselves and propagate their kind. Nature demanded that the higher races overmaster and starve the lower. Since the innate desire of each race was to reproduce and conquer, the struggle was indefinite and eternal. At the same time,  Lebensraum  also meant “living room”, with the connotations of comfort and plenty in family life. The desire for pleasure and security could never be satisfied, thought Hitler, since Germans “take the circumstances of the American life as the benchmark”. Because standards of living were always subjective and relative, the demand for pleasure was insatiable.  Lebensraum  thus brought together two claims: that human beings were mindless animals who always needed more, and jealous tribes who always wanted more. It confused lifestyle with life itself, generating survivalist emotions in the name of personal comfort.    Related: Sign up to the long read email    Hitler was not simply a nationalist or an authoritarian. For him, German politics were only a means to an end of restoring the state of nature. “One must not be diverted from the borders of Eternal Right,” as Hitler put it, “by the existence of political borders.” Likewise, to characterise Hitler as an antisemite or an anti-Slavic racist underestimates the potential of Nazi ideas. His ideas about Jews and Slavs were not prejudices that happened to be extreme, but rather emanations of a coherent worldview that contained the potential to change the world. By presenting Jews as an ecological flaw responsible for the disharmony of the planet, Hitler channelled and personalised the inevitable tensions of globalisation. The only sound ecology was to eliminate a political enemy; the only sound politics was to purify the earth; the means to these ends would be the destruction of states.    * * *    The state stood at the middle  of the story of those who wished to kill Jews, and of those who wished to save them. Its mutation within Germany after Hitler’s rise to power, and then its destruction in Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1938 and 1939, transformed Jews from citizens into objects of exploitation. The Final Solution as mass murder began in a zone of double state destruction. Hitler finally got the European war that he wanted by treating his ultimate enemy as his temporary friend. In September 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east just after Germany attacked from the west. The German-Soviet Treaty of Borders and Friendship arranged a final division of Poland and endorsed the Soviet occupation and destruction of the three Baltic states. The USSR then proceeded very quickly to deport or murder the social and political elites in its new western territories. When Hitler betrayed Stalin and Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, German soldiers and then special SS-led task forces known as Einsatzgruppen first encountered populations that had been subject to the Soviet version of state destruction.    It was this double assault upon state institutions in the Baltic states and eastern Poland, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany, that created the special field of experimentation where ideas of a Final Solution became the practice of mass murder. The Germans found political allies among antisemites and people who wished to restore statehood or undo the humiliation of national defeat. They found pragmatic allies, and these were likely more numerous, among people who wished to shift the burden of their own prior collaboration with the Soviets upon the Jewish minority. The Germans also found that they themselves, far more than their leaders expected, were capable of shooting Jews in cold blood. Not only the  Einsatzgruppen  but German police and soldiers killed Jews in huge mass shootings over pits.    In the encounter of German with Soviet power, the Nazi idea that Jews were responsible for all evil took on powerful resonance: for local Slavs and Balts seeking revenge for the loss of statehood or an alibi for their own Soviet collaboration or an excuse for stealing from Jews, for Germans themselves who associated Jews with all real or imagined resistance, and then for Hitler after the tide of war turned against him. In December 1941, when the Red Army counterattacked at Moscow and the United States joined the war, Hitler blamed the global alliance on global Jewry and called for their total eradication. By this time, the Holocaust as mass shooting had extended through Soviet Belarus, Soviet Ukraine, and into Soviet Russia. In 1942 the German policy of total killing then spread back west into territories that the Germans controlled before 1941: the subject nations of western Europe, the allies of central and southern Europe and indeed to Germany itself. German Jews were not murdered inside prewar Germany, but deported instead to zones of statelessness in the east, where they could be killed.    The Holocaust spread insofar as states were weakened, but no further. Where political structures held, they provided support and means to people who wished to help Jews. Throughout Europe, but to different degrees in different places, German occupation destroyed the institutions that made ideas of reciprocity seem plausible. Where Germans obliterated conventional states, or annihilated Soviet institutions that had just destroyed conventional states, they created the abyss where racism and politics pulled together towards nothingness. In this black hole, Jews were murdered. When Jews were saved, it was often thanks to people who could act on behalf of a state or by institutions that could function like a state. When none of the moral illumination of institutions was present, kindness was all that remained, and the pale light of the individual rescuers shone.    * * *    As Hitler himself knew,  there was a political alternative to ecological panic and state destruction: the pursuit of agricultural technology at home rather than  Lebensraum  abroad. The scientific approach to dwindling resources, which Hitler insisted was a Jewish lie, in fact held much more promise for Germans (and for everyone else) than an endless race war. Scientists, many of them Germans, were already preparing the way for the improvements in agriculture known as the “green revolution”. Had Hitler not begun a world war that led to his suicide, he would have lived to see the day when Europe’s problem was not food shortage but surpluses. Science provided food so quickly and bountifully that Hitlerian ideas of struggle lost a good deal of their resonance – which has helped us to forget what the second world war was actually about. In 1989, 100 years after Hitler’s birth, world food prices were about half of what they had been in 1939 – despite a huge increase in world population and thus demand.    The compression of politics and science into  Lebensraum  empowered a Führer to define the good of the race, mutate German institutions and oversee the destruction of neighbouring states. His worldview also compressed time. There was no history for Hitler: only a timeless pattern of Jewish deception and the useful models of British and American imperialism. There was also no future as such: just the unending prospect of the double insatiability of need and want. By combining what seemed like the pattern of the past (racial empire) with what seemed like an urgent summons from the future (ecological panic), Nazi thinking closed the safety valves of contemplation and foresight. If past and future contained nothing but struggle and scarcity, all attention fell upon the present. A psychic resolve for relief from a sense of crisis overwhelmed the practical resolve to think about the future. Rather than seeing the ecosystem as open to research and rescue, Hitler imagined that a supernatural factor – the Jews – had perverted it. Once defined as an eternal and immutable threat to the human species and the whole natural order, Jews could be targeted for urgent and extraordinary measures.    If we think that we are victims of some planetary conspiracy, we edge towards Hitler    The test that was supposed to confirm Hitler’s idea of nature, the campaign that was to rescue Germans from the intolerably claustrophobic present, was the colonial war against the Soviet Union. The 1941 invasion of the USSR threw millions of Germans into a war of extermination on lands inhabited by millions of Jews. This was the war that Hitler wanted; the actions of 1938, 1939 and 1940 were preparation and improvisation, generating experience in the destruction of states. The course of the war on the eastern front created two fundamental political opportunities. At first, the zoological portrayal of Slavs justified the elimination of their polities, creating the zones where the Holocaust could become possible. Then, with time, Germany’s uncertain fortune revealed the deep political logic of Hitler’s thinking – the practical relationship between  Lebensraum  and planetary antisemitism. It was when these two ideas could be brought together – territorially, politically, and conceptually – that a Holocaust could proceed.    In the Nazi mind, war was both colonial (to seize territory from the Slavs) and decolonial (to weaken the global domination of Jews). As the colonial war for  Lebensraum  faltered, Nazis emphasised instead the struggle to save the planet from Jewish domination. Since Jews were held responsible for the ideas that had supposedly suppressed the stronger races, only their extermination could ensure victory. The SS men who had begun as state destroyers, murdering members of groups thought to be the bastions of enemy polities, became the mass murderers of Jews. Wherever German power undid Soviet power, significant numbers of local people joined in the killing. In occupied Poland in 1942, most Jews were deported from their ghettos and murdered by gassing, as at Treblinka. Yet even at this extreme the colonial, material element never entirely vanished. In Warsaw, hungry Jews were drawn to the deportation point by promises of bread and marmalade. Himmler issued the order to kill them at the moment he decided that the labour they provided was less valuable than the calories they consumed.    Ecological panic and state destruction might seem exotic. Most people in Europe and North America live in functional states, taking for granted the sovereignty that preserved the lives of Jews and others during the war. After two generations, the green revolution has removed the fear of hunger from the emotions of electorates and the vocabulary of politicians. The open expression of antisemitic ideas is a taboo in much of the west, if perhaps a receding one.    Yet we like our living space, we fantasise about destroying governments, we denigrate science, we dream of catastrophe. If we think that we are victims of some planetary conspiracy, we edge towards Hitler. If we believe that the Holocaust was a result of the inherent characteristics of Jews, Germans, Poles, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, or anyone else, then we are moving in Hitler’s world.    * * *    Hitler’s programme confused biology  with desire.  Lebensraum  unified need with want, murder with convenience. It implied a plan to restore the planet by mass murder and a promise of a better life for German families. Since 1945, one of the two senses of  Lebensraum  has spread across most of the world: a living room, the dream of household comfort. The other sense of  Lebensraum  is habitat, the realm that must be controlled for survival, inhabited perhaps temporarily by people characterised as not quite fully human. Once standard of living is confused with living, a rich society can make war upon those who are poorer in the name of survival. Tens of millions of people died in Hitler’s war not so that Germans could live, but so that Germans could pursue the American dream.    Hitler was right to believe that, in an age of global communication, notions of prosperity had become relative and fluid. After his pursuit of  Lebensraum  failed with the final German defeat in 1945, the green revolution satisfied demand in Europe and much of the world, providing not just the food needed for bare physical survival, but a sense of security and an anticipation of plenitude. Yet no scientific solution is eternal; the political choice to support science buys time, but does not guarantee that future choices will be good ones. Another moment of choice, a bit like the one Germans faced in the 1930s, could be on the way.    The green revolution, perhaps the one development that most distinguishes our world from Hitler’s, might be reaching its limits. This is not so much because there are too many people on earth, but because more of the people on earth demand ever larger and more secure supplies of food. World grain production per capita peaked in the 1980s. In 2003, China, the world’s most populous country, became a net importer of grain. In the 21st century, world grain stocks have never exceeded more than a few months’ supply. During the hot summer of 2008, fires in fields led major food suppliers to cease exports altogether, and food riots broke out in Bolivia, Cameroon, Egypt, Haiti, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen. During the drought of 2010, the prices of agricultural commodities spiked again, leading to protests, revolution, ethnic cleansing and revolution in the Middle East. The civil war in Syria began after four consecutive years of drought drove farmers to overcrowded cities.    Though the world is not likely to run out of food as such, richer societies may again become concerned about future supplies. Their elites could find themselves once again facing choices about how to define the relationship between politics and science. As Hitler demonstrated, merging the two opens the way to ideology that can seem to both explain and resolve the sense of panic. In a scenario of mass killing that resembled the Holocaust, leaders of a developed country might follow or induce panic about future shortages and act preemptively, specifying a human group as the source of an ecological problem, destroying other states by design or by accident. There need not be any compelling reason for concern about life and death, as the Nazi example shows, only a momentary conviction that dramatic action is needed to preserve a way of life.    It seems reasonable to worry that the second sense of the term  Lebensraum  , seeing other people’s land as habitat, is latent. In much of the world, the dominant sense of time is coming to resemble, in some respects, the catastrophism of Hitler’s era. During the second half of the 20th century, the future appeared as a gift that was on the way. The duelling ideologies of capitalism and communism accepted the future as their realm of competition and promised a coming bounty. In the plans of government agencies, the plotlines of novels, and the drawings of children, the future was resplendent in anticipation. This sensibility seems to have disappeared. In high culture the future now clings to us, heavy with complications and crises, dense with dilemmas and disappointments. In vernacular media – films, video games and graphic novels – the future is presented as post-catastrophic. Nature has taken some revenge that makes conventional politics seem irrelevant, reducing society to struggle and rescue. The earth’s surface grows wild, humans go feral and anything is possible.    Hitler the politician was right that a rapturous sense of catastrophic time creates the potential for radical action    Hitler the politician was right that a rapturous sense of catastrophic time creates the potential for radical action. When an apocalypse is on the horizon, waiting for scientific solutions seems senseless, struggle seems natural and demagogues of blood and soil come to the fore.    * * *    The planet is changing in ways  that might make Hitlerian descriptions of life, space and time more plausible. The expected increase of average global temperatures by 4C this century would transform human life on much of the globe.  Climate  change is unpredictable, which exacerbates the problem. Present trends mislead, since feedback effects await. If ice sheets collapse, heat from the sun will be absorbed by seawater rather than reflected back into space. If the Siberian tundra melts, methane will rise from the earth, trapping heat in the atmosphere. If the Amazon basin is stripped of jungle, it will release a massive pulse of carbon dioxide. Global processes are always experienced locally, and local factors can either restrain or amplify them.    Perhaps the experience of unprecedented storms, relentless droughts and the associated wars and south-to-north migrations will jar expectations about the security of resources and make Hitlerian politics more resonant. As Hitler demonstrated, humans are able to portray a looming crisis in such a way as to justify drastic measures in the present. Under enough stress, or with enough skill, politicians can effect the conflations Hitler pioneered: between nature and politics, between ecosystem and household, between need and desire. A global problem that seems otherwise insoluble can be blamed upon a specific group of human beings.    Hitler was a child of the first globalisation, which arose under imperial auspices at the end of the 19th century. We are the children of the second, that of the late 20th century. Globalisation is neither a problem nor a solution; it is a condition with a history. It brings a specific intellectual danger. Since the world is more complex than a country or a city, the temptation is to seek some master key to understanding everything. When a global order collapses, as was the experience of many Europeans in the second, third and fourth decades of the 20th century, a simplistic diagnosis such as Hitler’s can seem to clarify the global by referring to the ecological, the supernatural or the conspiratorial. When the normal rules seem to have been broken and expectations have been shattered, a suspicion can be burnished that someone (the Jews, for example) has somehow diverted nature from its proper course. A problem that is truly planetary in scale, such as  climate  change, obviously demands global solutions – and one apparent solution is to define a global enemy.    * * *    Americans, when they think about  the Holocaust at all, take for granted that they could never commit such a crime. The US army, after all, was on the right side of the second world war. The reality is somewhat more complicated. Franklin D Roosevelt sent racially segregated armed forces to liberate Europe. Antisemitism was prominent in the US at the time. The Holocaust was largely over by the time American soldiers landed in Normandy. Although they liberated some concentration camps, American troops reached none of the major killing sites of the Holocaust and saw none of the hundreds of death pits of the east. The American trial of guards at the Mauthausen concentration camp, like the British trial at Bergen-Belsen, reattributed prewar citizenship to the Jewish victims. This helped later generations to overlook the basic fact that denial of citizenship, usually by the destruction of states, permitted the mass murder of Jews.    A misunderstanding about the relationship between state authority and mass killing underlay an American myth of the Holocaust that prevailed in the early 21st century: that the US was a country that intentionally rescued people from the genocides caused by overweening states. Following this reasoning, the destruction of a state could be associated with rescue rather than risk. One of the errors of the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the belief that regime change must be creative. The theory was that the destruction of a state and its ruling elite would bring freedom and justice. In fact, the succession of events precipitated by the illegal invasion of a sovereign state confirmed one of the unlearned lessons of the history of the second world war.    Mass killings generally take place during civil wars or regime changes. It was the deliberate policy of Nazi Germany to artificially create conditions of state destruction and then steer the consequences towards Jews. Destroying states without such malign intentions produces more conventional disasters.    The invasion of Iraq killed at least as many people as did the prior Iraqi regime. It exposed the members of the Iraqi ruling party to religious cleansing and prepared the way for chaos throughout the country. The American invaders eventually sided with the political clan they had initially defeated, so desperate were they to restore order. This permitted a troop withdrawal, which was then followed by Islamist uprisings. The destruction of the Iraqi state in 2003 and the political disturbances brought by the hot summer of 2010 created the space for the terrorists of Islamic State in 2014. A common American error is to believe that freedom is the absence of state authority.    The dominant stereotype of Nazi Germany is of an all-powerful state that catalogued, repressed and then exterminated an entire class of its own citizens. This was not how the Nazis achieved the Holocaust, nor how they even thought about it. The enormous majority of the victims of the Holocaust were not German citizens; Jews who were German citizens were in fact far more likely to survive than Jews who were citizens of states that the Germans destroyed. The Nazis knew that they had to go abroad and lay waste to neighbouring societies before they could hope to bring their revolution to their own. Not only the Holocaust, but all major German crimes took place in areas where state institutions had been destroyed, dismantled or seriously compromised. The German murder of five and a half million Jews, more than three million Soviet prisoners of war, and about a million civilians in so-called anti-partisan operations all took place in stateless zones.    Since the Holocaust is an axial event of modern history, its misunderstanding turns our minds in the wrong direction. When the Holocaust is blamed on the modern state, the weakening of state authority appears salutary. On the political right, the erosion of state power by international capitalism seems natural; on the political left, rudderless revolutions portray themselves as virtuous. In the 21st century, anarchical protest movements join in a friendly tussle with global oligarchy, in which neither side can be hurt since both see the real enemy as the state. Both the left and the right tend to fear order rather than its destruction or absence.    In an era of  climate  change, the rightwing version of anarchy, economic libertarianism, may pose the more pertinent danger. As all economists know, markets do not function perfectly at either the macro or the micro level. At the macro level, unregulated capitalism is subject to the extremes of the business cycle. In theory, markets always recover from depression; in practice, the human suffering induced by economic collapse can have profound political consequences, including the end of capitalism itself, before any recovery takes place. At the micro level, firms in theory provide goods that are desired and affordable. In practice, companies seeking profits can generate external costs that they do not themselves remediate. The classical example of such an externality is pollution, which costs its producers nothing but harms other people.    A government can assign a cost to pollution, which internalises the externality and thus reduces the undesired consequence. It would be simple to internalise the costs of the carbon pollution that causes  climate  change. It requires a dogma to oppose such an operation – which depends upon markets and in the long run will preserve them – as anticapitalist. Supporters of the unrestrained free market have found that dogma: the claim that science is nothing more than politics. Since the science of  climate  change is clear, some Americans deny the validity of science itself by presenting its findings as a cover for conniving politicians.    In the case of  climate  change, the denial of science legitimates military action rather than investment in technology    Though no American would deny that tanks work in the desert, some Americans do deny that deserts are growing larger. Though no American would deny ballistics, some Americans do deny  climate  science. Hitler denied that science could solve the basic problem of nutrition, but assumed that technology could win territory. It seemed to follow that waiting for research was pointless and that immediate military action was necessary. In the case of  climate  change, the denial of science likewise legitimates military action rather than investment in technology. If people do not take responsibility for the  climate  themselves, they will shift responsibility for the associated calamities to other people. Insofar as  climate  denial hinders technical progress, it might hasten real disasters, which in their turn can make catastrophic thinking still more credible. A vicious circle can begin in which politics collapses into ecological panic. The direct consequences of  climate  change will reach America long after Africa, the Near East and China have been transformed. By then, it will be too late to act.    The market is not nature; it depends upon nature. The  climate  is not a commodity that can be traded but rather a precondition to economic activity as such. The claim of a right to destroy the world in the name of profits for a few people reveals an important conceptual problem. Rights mean restraint. Each person is an end in himself or herself; the significance of a person is not exhausted by what someone else wants from him or her. Individuals have the right not to be defined as parts of a planetary conspiracy or a doomed race. They have the right not to have their homelands defined as habitat. They have the right not to have their polities destroyed.    * * *    The state is for the recognition,  endorsement and protection of rights, which means creating the conditions under which rights can be recognised, endorsed, and protected. When states are absent, rights – by any definition – are impossible to sustain. States are not structures to be taken for granted, exploited or discarded, but are fruits of long and quiet effort. It is tempting but dangerous to gleefully fragment the state from the right or knowingly gaze at the shards from the left. Political thought is neither destruction nor critique, but rather the historically informed imagination of plural structures – a labour of the present that can preserve life and decency in the future.    One plurality is between politics and science. A recognition of their distinct purposes makes possible thinking about rights and states; their conflation is a step toward a total ideology such as National Socialism. Another plurality is between order and freedom: each depends upon the other, although each is different from the other. The claim that order is freedom or that freedom is order ends in tyranny. The claim that freedom is the lack of order must end in anarchy – which is nothing more than tyranny of a special kind.    Related: Black Earth by Timothy Snyder review – a new lesson to be learned from the Holocaust    A final plurality has to do with time. The state endures to create a sense of durability. When we lack a sense of past and future, the present feels like a shaky platform, an uncertain basis for action. The defence of states and rights is impossible to undertake if no one learns from the past or believes in the future. Awareness of history permits recognition of ideological traps and generates scepticism about demands for immediate action because everything has suddenly changed. Confidence in the future can make the world seem like something more than, in Hitler’s words, “the surface area of a precisely measured space”. Time, the fourth dimension, can make the three dimensions of space seem less claustrophobic. Confidence in duration is the antidote to panic and the tonic of demagogy. A sense of the future has to be created in the present from what we know of the past, the fourth dimension built out from the three of daily life.    In the case of  climate  change, we know what the state can do to tame panic. We know that it is easier and less costly to draw nourishment from plants than animals. We know that improvements in agricultural productivity continue and that the desalination of seawater is possible. We know that efficiency of energy use is the simplest way to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. We know that governments can assign prices to carbon pollution and can pledge reductions of future emissions to one another and review one another’s pledges. We also know that governments can stimulate the development of appropriate energy technologies. Solar and wind energy are ever cheaper. Fusion, advanced fission, tidal stream power and non-crop-based biofuels offer real hope for a new energy economy. In the long run, we will need techniques to capture and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. All of this is not only thinkable but attainable.    States should invest in science so that the future can be calmly contemplated. The study of the past suggests why this would be a wise course. Time supports thought, thought supports time; structure supports plurality, and plurality, structure. This line of reasoning is less glamorous than waiting for general disaster and dreaming of personal redemption. Effective prevention of mass killings is incremental and its heroes are invisible. No conception of a durable state can compete with visions of totality. No green politics will ever be as exciting as red blood on black earth.    But opposing evil requires inspiration by what is sound rather than by what is resonant. The pluralities of nature and politics, order and freedom, past and future, are not as intoxicating as the totalitarian utopias of the last century. Every unity is beautiful as image but circular as logic and tyrannical as politics. The answer to those who seek totality is not anarchy, which is not totality’s enemy but its handmaiden. The answer is thoughtful, plural institutions: an unending labour of differentiated creation. This is a matter of imagination, maturity and survival.    •  Timothy Snyder is the Housum professor of history at Yale University and the author of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, published this week by Bodley Head, from which this essay is adapted. To order a copy for £20, go to  bookshop.theguardian.com  or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p  over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p  of £1.99  • Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, or sign up to the long read weekly email here                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-17 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Hitler’s world may not be so far away              It was 20 years after I chose to become a historian  that I first saw a photograph of the woman who made my career possible. In the small photograph that my doctoral supervisor, her son, showed me in his Warsaw apartment, Wanda J radiates self-possession, a quality that stood her in good stead during the Nazi occupation. She was a Jewish mother who protected herself and her two sons from the German campaign of mass murder that killed almost all of her fellow Warsaw Jews. When her family was summoned to the ghetto, she refused to go. She moved her children from place to place, relying upon the help of friends, acquaintances and strangers. When first the ghetto and then the rest of the city of Warsaw were burned to the ground, what counted, she thought, was the “faultless moral instinct” of the people who chose to help Jews.    Most of us would like to think that we possess a “moral instinct”. Perhaps we imagine that we would be rescuers in some future catastrophe. Yet if states were destroyed, local institutions corrupted and economic incentives directed towards murder, few of us would behave well. There is little reason to think that we are ethically superior to the Europeans of the 1930s and 1940s, or for that matter less vulnerable to the kind of ideas that Hitler so successfully promulgated and realised. A historian must be grateful to Wanda J for her courage and for the trace of herself that she left behind. But a historian must also consider why rescuers were so few. It is all too easy to fantasise that we, too, would have aided Wanda J. Separated from National Socialism by time and luck, we can dismiss Nazi ideas without contemplating how they functioned. It is our very forgetfulness of the circumstances of the Holocaust that convinces us that we are different from Nazis and shrouds the ways that we are the same. We share Hitler’s planet and some of his preoccupations; we have perhaps changed less than we think.    The Holocaust began with the idea that no human instinct was moral. Hitler described humans as members of races doomed to eternal and bloody struggle among themselves for finite resources. Hitler denied that any idea, be it religious, philosophical or political, justified seeing the other (or loving the other) as oneself. He claimed that conventional forms of ethics were Jewish inventions, and that conventional states would collapse during the racial struggle. Hitler specifically, and quite wrongly, denied that agricultural technology could alter the relationship between people and nourishment.    Hitler’s alternative to science and politics was known as Lebensraum, which meant “habitat” or “ecological niche”. Races needed ever more  Lebensraum  , “room to live”, in order to feed themselves and propagate their kind. Nature demanded that the higher races overmaster and starve the lower. Since the innate desire of each race was to reproduce and conquer, the struggle was indefinite and eternal. At the same time,  Lebensraum  also meant “living room”, with the connotations of comfort and plenty in family life. The desire for pleasure and security could never be satisfied, thought Hitler, since Germans “take the circumstances of the American life as the benchmark”. Because standards of living were always subjective and relative, the demand for pleasure was insatiable.  Lebensraum  thus brought together two claims: that human beings were mindless animals who always needed more, and jealous tribes who always wanted more. It confused lifestyle with life itself, generating survivalist emotions in the name of personal comfort.    Related: Sign up to the long read email    Hitler was not simply a nationalist or an authoritarian. For him, German politics were only a means to an end of restoring the state of nature. “One must not be diverted from the borders of Eternal Right,” as Hitler put it, “by the existence of political borders.” Likewise, to characterise Hitler as an antisemite or an anti-Slavic racist underestimates the potential of Nazi ideas. His ideas about Jews and Slavs were not prejudices that happened to be extreme, but rather emanations of a coherent worldview that contained the potential to change the world. By presenting Jews as an ecological flaw responsible for the disharmony of the planet, Hitler channelled and personalised the inevitable tensions of globalisation. The only sound ecology was to eliminate a political enemy; the only sound politics was to purify the earth; the means to these ends would be the destruction of states.    * * *    The state stood at the middle  of the story of those who wished to kill Jews, and of those who wished to save them. Its mutation within Germany after Hitler’s rise to power, and then its destruction in Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1938 and 1939, transformed Jews from citizens into objects of exploitation. The Final Solution as mass murder began in a zone of double state destruction. Hitler finally got the European war that he wanted by treating his ultimate enemy as his temporary friend. In September 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east just after Germany attacked from the west. The German-Soviet Treaty of Borders and Friendship arranged a final division of Poland and endorsed the Soviet occupation and destruction of the three Baltic states. The USSR then proceeded very quickly to deport or murder the social and political elites in its new western territories. When Hitler betrayed Stalin and Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, German soldiers and then special SS-led task forces known as Einsatzgruppen first encountered populations that had been subject to the Soviet version of state destruction.    It was this double assault upon state institutions in the Baltic states and eastern Poland, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany, that created the special field of experimentation where ideas of a Final Solution became the practice of mass murder. The Germans found political allies among antisemites and people who wished to restore statehood or undo the humiliation of national defeat. They found pragmatic allies, and these were likely more numerous, among people who wished to shift the burden of their own prior collaboration with the Soviets upon the Jewish minority. The Germans also found that they themselves, far more than their leaders expected, were capable of shooting Jews in cold blood. Not only the  Einsatzgruppen  but German police and soldiers killed Jews in huge mass shootings over pits.    In the encounter of German with Soviet power, the Nazi idea that Jews were responsible for all evil took on powerful resonance: for local Slavs and Balts seeking revenge for the loss of statehood or an alibi for their own Soviet collaboration or an excuse for stealing from Jews, for Germans themselves who associated Jews with all real or imagined resistance, and then for Hitler after the tide of war turned against him. In December 1941, when the Red Army counterattacked at Moscow and the United States joined the war, Hitler blamed the global alliance on global Jewry and called for their total eradication. By this time, the Holocaust as mass shooting had extended through Soviet Belarus, Soviet Ukraine, and into Soviet Russia. In 1942 the German policy of total killing then spread back west into territories that the Germans controlled before 1941: the subject nations of western Europe, the allies of central and southern Europe and indeed to Germany itself. German Jews were not murdered inside prewar Germany, but deported instead to zones of statelessness in the east, where they could be killed.    The Holocaust spread insofar as states were weakened, but no further. Where political structures held, they provided support and means to people who wished to help Jews. Throughout Europe, but to different degrees in different places, German occupation destroyed the institutions that made ideas of reciprocity seem plausible. Where Germans obliterated conventional states, or annihilated Soviet institutions that had just destroyed conventional states, they created the abyss where racism and politics pulled together towards nothingness. In this black hole, Jews were murdered. When Jews were saved, it was often thanks to people who could act on behalf of a state or by institutions that could function like a state. When none of the moral illumination of institutions was present, kindness was all that remained, and the pale light of the individual rescuers shone.    * * *    As Hitler himself knew,  there was a political alternative to ecological panic and state destruction: the pursuit of agricultural technology at home rather than  Lebensraum  abroad. The scientific approach to dwindling resources, which Hitler insisted was a Jewish lie, in fact held much more promise for Germans (and for everyone else) than an endless race war. Scientists, many of them Germans, were already preparing the way for the improvements in agriculture known as the “green revolution”. Had Hitler not begun a world war that led to his suicide, he would have lived to see the day when Europe’s problem was not food shortage but surpluses. Science provided food so quickly and bountifully that Hitlerian ideas of struggle lost a good deal of their resonance – which has helped us to forget what the second world war was actually about. In 1989, 100 years after Hitler’s birth, world food prices were about half of what they had been in 1939 – despite a huge increase in world population and thus demand.    The compression of politics and science into  Lebensraum  empowered a Führer to define the good of the race, mutate German institutions and oversee the destruction of neighbouring states. His worldview also compressed time. There was no history for Hitler: only a timeless pattern of Jewish deception and the useful models of British and American imperialism. There was also no future as such: just the unending prospect of the double insatiability of need and want. By combining what seemed like the pattern of the past (racial empire) with what seemed like an urgent summons from the future (ecological panic), Nazi thinking closed the safety valves of contemplation and foresight. If past and future contained nothing but struggle and scarcity, all attention fell upon the present. A psychic resolve for relief from a sense of crisis overwhelmed the practical resolve to think about the future. Rather than seeing the ecosystem as open to research and rescue, Hitler imagined that a supernatural factor – the Jews – had perverted it. Once defined as an eternal and immutable threat to the human species and the whole natural order, Jews could be targeted for urgent and extraordinary measures.    If we think that we are victims of some planetary conspiracy, we edge towards Hitler    The test that was supposed to confirm Hitler’s idea of nature, the campaign that was to rescue Germans from the intolerably claustrophobic present, was the colonial war against the Soviet Union. The 1941 invasion of the USSR threw millions of Germans into a war of extermination on lands inhabited by millions of Jews. This was the war that Hitler wanted; the actions of 1938, 1939 and 1940 were preparation and improvisation, generating experience in the destruction of states. The course of the war on the eastern front created two fundamental political opportunities. At first, the zoological portrayal of Slavs justified the elimination of their polities, creating the zones where the Holocaust could become possible. Then, with time, Germany’s uncertain fortune revealed the deep political logic of Hitler’s thinking – the practical relationship between  Lebensraum  and planetary antisemitism. It was when these two ideas could be brought together – territorially, politically, and conceptually – that a Holocaust could proceed.    In the Nazi mind, war was both colonial (to seize territory from the Slavs) and decolonial (to weaken the global domination of Jews). As the colonial war for  Lebensraum  faltered, Nazis emphasised instead the struggle to save the planet from Jewish domination. Since Jews were held responsible for the ideas that had supposedly suppressed the stronger races, only their extermination could ensure victory. The SS men who had begun as state destroyers, murdering members of groups thought to be the bastions of enemy polities, became the mass murderers of Jews. Wherever German power undid Soviet power, significant numbers of local people joined in the killing. In occupied Poland in 1942, most Jews were deported from their ghettos and murdered by gassing, as at Treblinka. Yet even at this extreme the colonial, material element never entirely vanished. In Warsaw, hungry Jews were drawn to the deportation point by promises of bread and marmalade. Himmler issued the order to kill them at the moment he decided that the labour they provided was less valuable than the calories they consumed.    Ecological panic and state destruction might seem exotic. Most people in Europe and North America live in functional states, taking for granted the sovereignty that preserved the lives of Jews and others during the war. After two generations, the green revolution has removed the fear of hunger from the emotions of electorates and the vocabulary of politicians. The open expression of antisemitic ideas is a taboo in much of the west, if perhaps a receding one.    Yet we like our living space, we fantasise about destroying governments, we denigrate science, we dream of catastrophe. If we think that we are victims of some planetary conspiracy, we edge towards Hitler. If we believe that the Holocaust was a result of the inherent characteristics of Jews, Germans, Poles, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, or anyone else, then we are moving in Hitler’s world.    * * *    Hitler’s programme confused biology  with desire.  Lebensraum  unified need with want, murder with convenience. It implied a plan to restore the planet by mass murder and a promise of a better life for German families. Since 1945, one of the two senses of  Lebensraum  has spread across most of the world: a living room, the dream of household comfort. The other sense of  Lebensraum  is habitat, the realm that must be controlled for survival, inhabited perhaps temporarily by people characterised as not quite fully human. Once standard of living is confused with living, a rich society can make war upon those who are poorer in the name of survival. Tens of millions of people died in Hitler’s war not so that Germans could live, but so that Germans could pursue the American dream.    Hitler was right to believe that, in an age of global communication, notions of prosperity had become relative and fluid. After his pursuit of  Lebensraum  failed with the final German defeat in 1945, the green revolution satisfied demand in Europe and much of the world, providing not just the food needed for bare physical survival, but a sense of security and an anticipation of plenitude. Yet no scientific solution is eternal; the political choice to support science buys time, but does not guarantee that future choices will be good ones. Another moment of choice, a bit like the one Germans faced in the 1930s, could be on the way.    The green revolution, perhaps the one development that most distinguishes our world from Hitler’s, might be reaching its limits. This is not so much because there are too many people on earth, but because more of the people on earth demand ever larger and more secure supplies of food. World grain production per capita peaked in the 1980s. In 2003, China, the world’s most populous country, became a net importer of grain. In the 21st century, world grain stocks have never exceeded more than a few months’ supply. During the hot summer of 2008, fires in fields led major food suppliers to cease exports altogether, and food riots broke out in Bolivia, Cameroon, Egypt, Haiti, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen. During the drought of 2010, the prices of agricultural commodities spiked again, leading to protests, revolution, ethnic cleansing and revolution in the Middle East. The civil war in Syria began after four consecutive years of drought drove farmers to overcrowded cities.    Though the world is not likely to run out of food as such, richer societies may again become concerned about future supplies. Their elites could find themselves once again facing choices about how to define the relationship between politics and science. As Hitler demonstrated, merging the two opens the way to ideology that can seem to both explain and resolve the sense of panic. In a scenario of mass killing that resembled the Holocaust, leaders of a developed country might follow or induce panic about future shortages and act preemptively, specifying a human group as the source of an ecological problem, destroying other states by design or by accident. There need not be any compelling reason for concern about life and death, as the Nazi example shows, only a momentary conviction that dramatic action is needed to preserve a way of life.    It seems reasonable to worry that the second sense of the term  Lebensraum  , seeing other people’s land as habitat, is latent. In much of the world, the dominant sense of time is coming to resemble, in some respects, the catastrophism of Hitler’s era. During the second half of the 20th century, the future appeared as a gift that was on the way. The duelling ideologies of capitalism and communism accepted the future as their realm of competition and promised a coming bounty. In the plans of government agencies, the plotlines of novels, and the drawings of children, the future was resplendent in anticipation. This sensibility seems to have disappeared. In high culture the future now clings to us, heavy with complications and crises, dense with dilemmas and disappointments. In vernacular media – films, video games and graphic novels – the future is presented as post-catastrophic. Nature has taken some revenge that makes conventional politics seem irrelevant, reducing society to struggle and rescue. The earth’s surface grows wild, humans go feral and anything is possible.    Hitler the politician was right that a rapturous sense of catastrophic time creates the potential for radical action    Hitler the politician was right that a rapturous sense of catastrophic time creates the potential for radical action. When an apocalypse is on the horizon, waiting for scientific solutions seems senseless, struggle seems natural and demagogues of blood and soil come to the fore.    * * *    The planet is changing in ways  that might make Hitlerian descriptions of life, space and time more plausible. The expected increase of average global temperatures by 4C this century would transform human life on much of the globe.  Climate  change is unpredictable, which exacerbates the problem. Present trends mislead, since feedback effects await. If ice sheets collapse, heat from the sun will be absorbed by seawater rather than reflected back into space. If the Siberian tundra melts, methane will rise from the earth, trapping heat in the atmosphere. If the Amazon basin is stripped of jungle, it will release a massive pulse of carbon dioxide. Global processes are always experienced locally, and local factors can either restrain or amplify them.    Perhaps the experience of unprecedented storms, relentless droughts and the associated wars and south-to-north migrations will jar expectations about the security of resources and make Hitlerian politics more resonant. As Hitler demonstrated, humans are able to portray a looming crisis in such a way as to justify drastic measures in the present. Under enough stress, or with enough skill, politicians can effect the conflations Hitler pioneered: between nature and politics, between ecosystem and household, between need and desire. A global problem that seems otherwise insoluble can be blamed upon a specific group of human beings.    Hitler was a child of the first globalisation, which arose under imperial auspices at the end of the 19th century. We are the children of the second, that of the late 20th century. Globalisation is neither a problem nor a solution; it is a condition with a history. It brings a specific intellectual danger. Since the world is more complex than a country or a city, the temptation is to seek some master key to understanding everything. When a global order collapses, as was the experience of many Europeans in the second, third and fourth decades of the 20th century, a simplistic diagnosis such as Hitler’s can seem to clarify the global by referring to the ecological, the supernatural or the conspiratorial. When the normal rules seem to have been broken and expectations have been shattered, a suspicion can be burnished that someone (the Jews, for example) has somehow diverted nature from its proper course. A problem that is truly planetary in scale, such as  climate  change, obviously demands global solutions – and one apparent solution is to define a global enemy.    * * *    Americans, when they think about  the Holocaust at all, take for granted that they could never commit such a crime. The US army, after all, was on the right side of the second world war. The reality is somewhat more complicated. Franklin D Roosevelt sent racially segregated armed forces to liberate Europe. Antisemitism was prominent in the US at the time. The Holocaust was largely over by the time American soldiers landed in Normandy. Although they liberated some concentration camps, American troops reached none of the major killing sites of the Holocaust and saw none of the hundreds of death pits of the east. The American trial of guards at the Mauthausen concentration camp, like the British trial at Bergen-Belsen, reattributed prewar citizenship to the Jewish victims. This helped later generations to overlook the basic fact that denial of citizenship, usually by the destruction of states, permitted the mass murder of Jews.    A misunderstanding about the relationship between state authority and mass killing underlay an American myth of the Holocaust that prevailed in the early 21st century: that the US was a country that intentionally rescued people from the genocides caused by overweening states. Following this reasoning, the destruction of a state could be associated with rescue rather than risk. One of the errors of the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the belief that regime change must be creative. The theory was that the destruction of a state and its ruling elite would bring freedom and justice. In fact, the succession of events precipitated by the illegal invasion of a sovereign state confirmed one of the unlearned lessons of the history of the second world war.    Mass killings generally take place during civil wars or regime changes. It was the deliberate policy of Nazi Germany to artificially create conditions of state destruction and then steer the consequences towards Jews. Destroying states without such malign intentions produces more conventional disasters.    The invasion of Iraq killed at least as many people as did the prior Iraqi regime. It exposed the members of the Iraqi ruling party to religious cleansing and prepared the way for chaos throughout the country. The American invaders eventually sided with the political clan they had initially defeated, so desperate were they to restore order. This permitted a troop withdrawal, which was then followed by Islamist uprisings. The destruction of the Iraqi state in 2003 and the political disturbances brought by the hot summer of 2010 created the space for the terrorists of Islamic State in 2014. A common American error is to believe that freedom is the absence of state authority.    The dominant stereotype of Nazi Germany is of an all-powerful state that catalogued, repressed and then exterminated an entire class of its own citizens. This was not how the Nazis achieved the Holocaust, nor how they even thought about it. The enormous majority of the victims of the Holocaust were not German citizens; Jews who were German citizens were in fact far more likely to survive than Jews who were citizens of states that the Germans destroyed. The Nazis knew that they had to go abroad and lay waste to neighbouring societies before they could hope to bring their revolution to their own. Not only the Holocaust, but all major German crimes took place in areas where state institutions had been destroyed, dismantled or seriously compromised. The German murder of five and a half million Jews, more than three million Soviet prisoners of war, and about a million civilians in so-called anti-partisan operations all took place in stateless zones.    Since the Holocaust is an axial event of modern history, its misunderstanding turns our minds in the wrong direction. When the Holocaust is blamed on the modern state, the weakening of state authority appears salutary. On the political right, the erosion of state power by international capitalism seems natural; on the political left, rudderless revolutions portray themselves as virtuous. In the 21st century, anarchical protest movements join in a friendly tussle with global oligarchy, in which neither side can be hurt since both see the real enemy as the state. Both the left and the right tend to fear order rather than its destruction or absence.    In an era of  climate  change, the rightwing version of anarchy, economic libertarianism, may pose the more pertinent danger. As all economists know, markets do not function perfectly at either the macro or the micro level. At the macro level, unregulated capitalism is subject to the extremes of the business cycle. In theory, markets always recover from depression; in practice, the human suffering induced by economic collapse can have profound political consequences, including the end of capitalism itself, before any recovery takes place. At the micro level, firms in theory provide goods that are desired and affordable. In practice, companies seeking profits can generate external costs that they do not themselves remediate. The classical example of such an externality is pollution, which costs its producers nothing but harms other people.    A government can assign a cost to pollution, which internalises the externality and thus reduces the undesired consequence. It would be simple to internalise the costs of the carbon pollution that causes  climate  change. It requires a dogma to oppose such an operation – which depends upon markets and in the long run will preserve them – as anticapitalist. Supporters of the unrestrained free market have found that dogma: the claim that science is nothing more than politics. Since the science of  climate  change is clear, some Americans deny the validity of science itself by presenting its findings as a cover for conniving politicians.    In the case of  climate  change, the denial of science legitimates military action rather than investment in technology    Though no American would deny that tanks work in the desert, some Americans do deny that deserts are growing larger. Though no American would deny ballistics, some Americans do deny  climate  science. Hitler denied that science could solve the basic problem of nutrition, but assumed that technology could win territory. It seemed to follow that waiting for research was pointless and that immediate military action was necessary. In the case of  climate  change, the denial of science likewise legitimates military action rather than investment in technology. If people do not take responsibility for the  climate  themselves, they will shift responsibility for the associated calamities to other people. Insofar as  climate  denial hinders technical progress, it might hasten real disasters, which in their turn can make catastrophic thinking still more credible. A vicious circle can begin in which politics collapses into ecological panic. The direct consequences of  climate  change will reach America long after Africa, the Near East and China have been transformed. By then, it will be too late to act.    The market is not nature; it depends upon nature. The  climate  is not a commodity that can be traded but rather a precondition to economic activity as such. The claim of a right to destroy the world in the name of profits for a few people reveals an important conceptual problem. Rights mean restraint. Each person is an end in himself or herself; the significance of a person is not exhausted by what someone else wants from him or her. Individuals have the right not to be defined as parts of a planetary conspiracy or a doomed race. They have the right not to have their homelands defined as habitat. They have the right not to have their polities destroyed.    * * *    The state is for the recognition,  endorsement and protection of rights, which means creating the conditions under which rights can be recognised, endorsed, and protected. When states are absent, rights – by any definition – are impossible to sustain. States are not structures to be taken for granted, exploited or discarded, but are fruits of long and quiet effort. It is tempting but dangerous to gleefully fragment the state from the right or knowingly gaze at the shards from the left. Political thought is neither destruction nor critique, but rather the historically informed imagination of plural structures – a labour of the present that can preserve life and decency in the future.    One plurality is between politics and science. A recognition of their distinct purposes makes possible thinking about rights and states; their conflation is a step toward a total ideology such as National Socialism. Another plurality is between order and freedom: each depends upon the other, although each is different from the other. The claim that order is freedom or that freedom is order ends in tyranny. The claim that freedom is the lack of order must end in anarchy – which is nothing more than tyranny of a special kind.    Related: Black Earth by Timothy Snyder review – a new lesson to be learned from the Holocaust    A final plurality has to do with time. The state endures to create a sense of durability. When we lack a sense of past and future, the present feels like a shaky platform, an uncertain basis for action. The defence of states and rights is impossible to undertake if no one learns from the past or believes in the future. Awareness of history permits recognition of ideological traps and generates scepticism about demands for immediate action because everything has suddenly changed. Confidence in the future can make the world seem like something more than, in Hitler’s words, “the surface area of a precisely measured space”. Time, the fourth dimension, can make the three dimensions of space seem less claustrophobic. Confidence in duration is the antidote to panic and the tonic of demagogy. A sense of the future has to be created in the present from what we know of the past, the fourth dimension built out from the three of daily life.    In the case of  climate  change, we know what the state can do to tame panic. We know that it is easier and less costly to draw nourishment from plants than animals. We know that improvements in agricultural productivity continue and that the desalination of seawater is possible. We know that efficiency of energy use is the simplest way to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. We know that governments can assign prices to carbon pollution and can pledge reductions of future emissions to one another and review one another’s pledges. We also know that governments can stimulate the development of appropriate energy technologies. Solar and wind energy are ever cheaper. Fusion, advanced fission, tidal stream power and non-crop-based biofuels offer real hope for a new energy economy. In the long run, we will need techniques to capture and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. All of this is not only thinkable but attainable.    States should invest in science so that the future can be calmly contemplated. The study of the past suggests why this would be a wise course. Time supports thought, thought supports time; structure supports plurality, and plurality, structure. This line of reasoning is less glamorous than waiting for general disaster and dreaming of personal redemption. Effective prevention of mass killings is incremental and its heroes are invisible. No conception of a durable state can compete with visions of totality. No green politics will ever be as exciting as red blood on black earth.    But opposing evil requires inspiration by what is sound rather than by what is resonant. The pluralities of nature and politics, order and freedom, past and future, are not as intoxicating as the totalitarian utopias of the last century. Every unity is beautiful as image but circular as logic and tyrannical as politics. The answer to those who seek totality is not anarchy, which is not totality’s enemy but its handmaiden. The answer is thoughtful, plural institutions: an unending labour of differentiated creation. This is a matter of imagination, maturity and survival.    •  Timothy Snyder is the Housum professor of history at Yale University and the author of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, published this week by Bodley Head, from which this essay is adapted. To order a copy for £20, go to  bookshop.theguardian.com  or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p  over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p  of £1.99  • Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, or sign up to the long read weekly email here                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-16 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Hitler’s world may not be so far away              It was 20 years after I chose to become a historian  that I first saw a photograph of the woman who made my career possible. In the small photograph that my doctoral supervisor, her son, showed me in his Warsaw apartment, Wanda J radiates self-possession, a quality that stood her in good stead during the Nazi occupation. She was a Jewish mother who protected herself and her two sons from the German campaign of mass murder that killed almost all of her fellow Warsaw Jews. When her family was summoned to the ghetto, she refused to go. She moved her children from place to place, relying upon the help of friends, acquaintances and strangers. When first the ghetto and then the rest of the city of Warsaw were burned to the ground, what counted, she thought, was the “faultless moral instinct” of the people who chose to help Jews.    Most of us would like to think that we possess a “moral instinct”. Perhaps we imagine that we would be rescuers in some future catastrophe. Yet if states were destroyed, local institutions corrupted and economic incentives directed towards murder, few of us would behave well. There is little reason to think that we are ethically superior to the Europeans of the 1930s and 1940s, or for that matter less vulnerable to the kind of ideas that Hitler so successfully promulgated and realised. A historian must be grateful to Wanda J for her courage and for the trace of herself that she left behind. But a historian must also consider why rescuers were so few. It is all too easy to fantasise that we, too, would have aided Wanda J. Separated from National Socialism by time and luck, we can dismiss Nazi ideas without contemplating how they functioned. It is our very forgetfulness of the circumstances of the Holocaust that convinces us that we are different from Nazis and shrouds the ways that we are the same. We share Hitler’s planet and some of his preoccupations; we have perhaps changed less than we think.    The Holocaust began with the idea that no human instinct was moral. Hitler described humans as members of races doomed to eternal and bloody struggle among themselves for finite resources. Hitler denied that any idea, be it religious, philosophical or political, justified seeing the other (or loving the other) as oneself. He claimed that conventional forms of ethics were Jewish inventions, and that conventional states would collapse during the racial struggle. Hitler specifically, and quite wrongly, denied that agricultural technology could alter the relationship between people and nourishment.    Hitler’s alternative to science and politics was known as Lebensraum, which meant “habitat” or “ecological niche”. Races needed ever more  Lebensraum  , “room to live”, in order to feed themselves and propagate their kind. Nature demanded that the higher races overmaster and starve the lower. Since the innate desire of each race was to reproduce and conquer, the struggle was indefinite and eternal. At the same time,  Lebensraum  also meant “living room”, with the connotations of comfort and plenty in family life. The desire for pleasure and security could never be satisfied, thought Hitler, since Germans “take the circumstances of the American life as the benchmark”. Because standards of living were always subjective and relative, the demand for pleasure was insatiable.  Lebensraum  thus brought together two claims: that human beings were mindless animals who always needed more, and jealous tribes who always wanted more. It confused lifestyle with life itself, generating survivalist emotions in the name of personal comfort.    Hitler was not simply a nationalist or an authoritarian. For him, German politics were only a means to an end of restoring the state of nature. “One must not be diverted from the borders of Eternal Right,” as Hitler put it, “by the existence of political borders.” Likewise, to characterise Hitler as an antisemite or an anti-Slavic racist underestimates the potential of Nazi ideas. His ideas about Jews and Slavs were not prejudices that happened to be extreme, but rather emanations of a coherent worldview that contained the potential to change the world. By presenting Jews as an ecological flaw responsible for the disharmony of the planet, Hitler channelled and personalised the inevitable tensions of globalisation. The only sound ecology was to eliminate a political enemy; the only sound politics was to purify the earth; the means to these ends would be the destruction of states.    * * *    The state stood at the middle  of the story of those who wished to kill Jews, and of those who wished to save them. Its mutation within Germany after Hitler’s rise to power, and then its destruction in Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1938 and 1939, transformed Jews from citizens into objects of exploitation. The Final Solution as mass murder began in a zone of double state destruction. Hitler finally got the European war that he wanted by treating his ultimate enemy as his temporary friend. In September 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east just after Germany attacked from the west. The German-Soviet Treaty of Borders and Friendship arranged a final division of Poland and endorsed the Soviet occupation and destruction of the three Baltic states. The USSR then proceeded very quickly to deport or murder the social and political elites in its new western territories. When Hitler betrayed Stalin and Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, German soldiers and then special SS-led task forces known as Einsatzgruppen first encountered populations that had been subject to the Soviet version of state destruction.    It was this double assault upon state institutions in the Baltic states and eastern Poland, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany, that created the special field of experimentation where ideas of a Final Solution became the practice of mass murder. The Germans found political allies among antisemites and people who wished to restore statehood or undo the humiliation of national defeat. They found pragmatic allies, and these were likely more numerous, among people who wished to shift the burden of their own prior collaboration with the Soviets upon the Jewish minority. The Germans also found that they themselves, far more than their leaders expected, were capable of shooting Jews in cold blood. Not only the  Einsatzgruppen  but German police and soldiers killed Jews in huge mass shootings over pits.    In the encounter of German with Soviet power, the Nazi idea that Jews were responsible for all evil took on powerful resonance: for local Slavs and Balts seeking revenge for the loss of statehood or an alibi for their own Soviet collaboration or an excuse for stealing from Jews, for Germans themselves who associated Jews with all real or imagined resistance, and then for Hitler after the tide of war turned against him. In December 1941, when the Red Army counterattacked at Moscow and the United States joined the war, Hitler blamed the global alliance on global Jewry and called for their total eradication. By this time, the Holocaust as mass shooting had extended through Soviet Belarus, Soviet Ukraine, and into Soviet Russia. In 1942 the German policy of total killing then spread back west into territories that the Germans controlled before 1941: the subject nations of western Europe, the allies of central and southern Europe and indeed to Germany itself. German Jews were not murdered inside prewar Germany, but deported instead to zones of statelessness in the east, where they could be killed.    The Holocaust spread insofar as states were weakened, but no further. Where political structures held, they provided support and means to people who wished to help Jews. Throughout Europe, but to different degrees in different places, German occupation destroyed the institutions that made ideas of reciprocity seem plausible. Where Germans obliterated conventional states, or annihilated Soviet institutions that had just destroyed conventional states, they created the abyss where racism and politics pulled together towards nothingness. In this black hole, Jews were murdered. When Jews were saved, it was often thanks to people who could act on behalf of a state or by institutions that could function like a state. When none of the moral illumination of institutions was present, kindness was all that remained, and the pale light of the individual rescuers shone.    * * *    As Hitler himself knew,  there was a political alternative to ecological panic and state destruction: the pursuit of agricultural technology at home rather than  Lebensraum  abroad. The scientific approach to dwindling resources, which Hitler insisted was a Jewish lie, in fact held much more promise for Germans (and for everyone else) than an endless race war. Scientists, many of them Germans, were already preparing the way for the improvements in agriculture known as the “green revolution”. Had Hitler not begun a world war that led to his suicide, he would have lived to see the day when Europe’s problem was not food shortage but surpluses. Science provided food so quickly and bountifully that Hitlerian ideas of struggle lost a good deal of their resonance – which has helped us to forget what the second world war was actually about. In 1989, 100 years after Hitler’s birth, world food prices were about half of what they had been in 1939 – despite a huge increase in world population and thus demand.    The compression of politics and science into  Lebensraum  empowered a Führer to define the good of the race, mutate German institutions and oversee the destruction of neighbouring states. His worldview also compressed time. There was no history for Hitler: only a timeless pattern of Jewish deception and the useful models of British and American imperialism. There was also no future as such: just the unending prospect of the double insatiability of need and want. By combining what seemed like the pattern of the past (racial empire) with what seemed like an urgent summons from the future (ecological panic), Nazi thinking closed the safety valves of contemplation and foresight. If past and future contained nothing but struggle and scarcity, all attention fell upon the present. A psychic resolve for relief from a sense of crisis overwhelmed the practical resolve to think about the future. Rather than seeing the ecosystem as open to research and rescue, Hitler imagined that a supernatural factor – the Jews – had perverted it. Once defined as an eternal and immutable threat to the human species and the whole natural order, Jews could be targeted for urgent and extraordinary measures.    If we think that we are victims of some planetary conspiracy, we edge towards Hitler    The test that was supposed to confirm Hitler’s idea of nature, the campaign that was to rescue Germans from the intolerably claustrophobic present, was the colonial war against the Soviet Union. The 1941 invasion of the USSR threw millions of Germans into a war of extermination on lands inhabited by millions of Jews. This was the war that Hitler wanted; the actions of 1938, 1939 and 1940 were preparation and improvisation, generating experience in the destruction of states. The course of the war on the eastern front created two fundamental political opportunities. At first, the zoological portrayal of Slavs justified the elimination of their polities, creating the zones where the Holocaust could become possible. Then, with time, Germany’s uncertain fortune revealed the deep political logic of Hitler’s thinking – the practical relationship between  Lebensraum  and planetary antisemitism. It was when these two ideas could be brought together – territorially, politically, and conceptually – that a Holocaust could proceed.    In the Nazi mind, war was both colonial (to seize territory from the Slavs) and decolonial (to weaken the global domination of Jews). As the colonial war for  Lebensraum  faltered, Nazis emphasised instead the struggle to save the planet from Jewish domination. Since Jews were held responsible for the ideas that had supposedly suppressed the stronger races, only their extermination could ensure victory. The SS men who had begun as state destroyers, murdering members of groups thought to be the bastions of enemy polities, became the mass murderers of Jews. Wherever German power undid Soviet power, significant numbers of local people joined in the killing. In occupied Poland in 1942, most Jews were deported from their ghettos and murdered by gassing, as at Treblinka. Yet even at this extreme the colonial, material element never entirely vanished. In Warsaw, hungry Jews were drawn to the deportation point by promises of bread and marmalade. Himmler issued the order to kill them at the moment he decided that the labour they provided was less valuable than the calories they consumed.    Ecological panic and state destruction might seem exotic. Most people in Europe and North America live in functional states, taking for granted the sovereignty that preserved the lives of Jews and others during the war. After two generations, the green revolution has removed the fear of hunger from the emotions of electorates and the vocabulary of politicians. The open expression of antisemitic ideas is a taboo in much of the west, if perhaps a receding one.    Yet we like our living space, we fantasise about destroying governments, we denigrate science, we dream of catastrophe. If we think that we are victims of some planetary conspiracy, we edge towards Hitler. If we believe that the Holocaust was a result of the inherent characteristics of Jews, Germans, Poles, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, or anyone else, then we are moving in Hitler’s world.    * * *    Hitler’s programme confused biology  with desire.  Lebensraum  unified need with want, murder with convenience. It implied a plan to restore the planet by mass murder and a promise of a better life for German families. Since 1945, one of the two senses of  Lebensraum  has spread across most of the world: a living room, the dream of household comfort. The other sense of  Lebensraum  is habitat, the realm that must be controlled for survival, inhabited perhaps temporarily by people characterised as not quite fully human. Once standard of living is confused with living, a rich society can make war upon those who are poorer in the name of survival. Tens of millions of people died in Hitler’s war not so that Germans could live, but so that Germans could pursue the American dream.    Hitler was right to believe that, in an age of global communication, notions of prosperity had become relative and fluid. After his pursuit of  Lebensraum  failed with the final German defeat in 1945, the green revolution satisfied demand in Europe and much of the world, providing not just the food needed for bare physical survival, but a sense of security and an anticipation of plenitude. Yet no scientific solution is eternal; the political choice to support science buys time, but does not guarantee that future choices will be good ones. Another moment of choice, a bit like the one Germans faced in the 1930s, could be on the way.    The green revolution, perhaps the one development that most distinguishes our world from Hitler’s, might be reaching its limits. This is not so much because there are too many people on earth, but because more of the people on earth demand ever larger and more secure supplies of food. World grain production per capita peaked in the 1980s. In 2003, China, the world’s most populous country, became a net importer of grain. In the 21st century, world grain stocks have never exceeded more than a few months’ supply. During the hot summer of 2008, fires in fields led major food suppliers to cease exports altogether, and food riots broke out in Bolivia, Cameroon, Egypt, Haiti, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal, Uzbekistan and Yemen. During the drought of 2010, the prices of agricultural commodities spiked again, leading to protests, revolution, ethnic cleansing and revolution in the Middle East. The civil war in Syria began after four consecutive years of drought drove farmers to overcrowded cities.    Though the world is not likely to run out of food as such, richer societies may again become concerned about future supplies. Their elites could find themselves once again facing choices about how to define the relationship between politics and science. As Hitler demonstrated, merging the two opens the way to ideology that can seem to both explain and resolve the sense of panic. In a scenario of mass killing that resembled the Holocaust, leaders of a developed country might follow or induce panic about future shortages and act preemptively, specifying a human group as the source of an ecological problem, destroying other states by design or by accident. There need not be any compelling reason for concern about life and death, as the Nazi example shows, only a momentary conviction that dramatic action is needed to preserve a way of life.    It seems reasonable to worry that the second sense of the term  Lebensraum  , seeing other people’s land as habitat, is latent. In much of the world, the dominant sense of time is coming to resemble, in some respects, the catastrophism of Hitler’s era. During the second half of the 20th century, the future appeared as a gift that was on the way. The duelling ideologies of capitalism and communism accepted the future as their realm of competition and promised a coming bounty. In the plans of government agencies, the plotlines of novels, and the drawings of children, the future was resplendent in anticipation. This sensibility seems to have disappeared. In high culture the future now clings to us, heavy with complications and crises, dense with dilemmas and disappointments. In vernacular media – films, video games and graphic novels – the future is presented as post-catastrophic. Nature has taken some revenge that makes conventional politics seem irrelevant, reducing society to struggle and rescue. The earth’s surface grows wild, humans go feral and anything is possible.    Hitler the politician was right that a rapturous sense of catastrophic time creates the potential for radical action    Hitler the politician was right that a rapturous sense of catastrophic time creates the potential for radical action. When an apocalypse is on the horizon, waiting for scientific solutions seems senseless, struggle seems natural and demagogues of blood and soil come to the fore.    * * *    The planet is changing in ways  that might make Hitlerian descriptions of life, space and time more plausible. The expected increase of average global temperatures by 4C this century would transform human life on much of the globe.  Climate  change is unpredictable, which exacerbates the problem. Present trends mislead, since feedback effects await. If ice sheets collapse, heat from the sun will be absorbed by seawater rather than reflected back into space. If the Siberian tundra melts, methane will rise from the earth, trapping heat in the atmosphere. If the Amazon basin is stripped of jungle, it will release a massive pulse of carbon dioxide. Global processes are always experienced locally, and local factors can either restrain or amplify them.    Perhaps the experience of unprecedented storms, relentless droughts and the associated wars and south-to-north migrations will jar expectations about the security of resources and make Hitlerian politics more resonant. As Hitler demonstrated, humans are able to portray a looming crisis in such a way as to justify drastic measures in the present. Under enough stress, or with enough skill, politicians can effect the conflations Hitler pioneered: between nature and politics, between ecosystem and household, between need and desire. A global problem that seems otherwise insoluble can be blamed upon a specific group of human beings.    Hitler was a child of the first globalisation, which arose under imperial auspices at the end of the 19th century. We are the children of the second, that of the late 20th century. Globalisation is neither a problem nor a solution; it is a condition with a history. It brings a specific intellectual danger. Since the world is more complex than a country or a city, the temptation is to seek some master key to understanding everything. When a global order collapses, as was the experience of many Europeans in the second, third and fourth decades of the 20th century, a simplistic diagnosis such as Hitler’s can seem to clarify the global by referring to the ecological, the supernatural or the conspiratorial. When the normal rules seem to have been broken and expectations have been shattered, a suspicion can be burnished that someone (the Jews, for example) has somehow diverted nature from its proper course. A problem that is truly planetary in scale, such as  climate  change, obviously demands global solutions – and one apparent solution is to define a global enemy.    * * *    Americans, when they think about  the Holocaust at all, take for granted that they could never commit such a crime. The US army, after all, was on the right side of the second world war. The reality is somewhat more complicated. Franklin D Roosevelt sent racially segregated armed forces to liberate Europe. Antisemitism was prominent in the US at the time. The Holocaust was largely over by the time American soldiers landed in Normandy. Although they liberated some concentration camps, American troops reached none of the major killing sites of the Holocaust and saw none of the hundreds of death pits of the east. The American trial of guards at the Mauthausen concentration camp, like the British trial at Bergen-Belsen, reattributed prewar citizenship to the Jewish victims. This helped later generations to overlook the basic fact that denial of citizenship, usually by the destruction of states, permitted the mass murder of Jews.    A misunderstanding about the relationship between state authority and mass killing underlay an American myth of the Holocaust that prevailed in the early 21st century: that the US was a country that intentionally rescued people from the genocides caused by overweening states. Following this reasoning, the destruction of a state could be associated with rescue rather than risk. One of the errors of the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the belief that regime change must be creative. The theory was that the destruction of a state and its ruling elite would bring freedom and justice. In fact, the succession of events precipitated by the illegal invasion of a sovereign state confirmed one of the unlearned lessons of the history of the second world war.    Mass killings generally take place during civil wars or regime changes. It was the deliberate policy of Nazi Germany to artificially create conditions of state destruction and then steer the consequences towards Jews. Destroying states without such malign intentions produces more conventional disasters.    The invasion of Iraq killed at least as many people as did the prior Iraqi regime. It exposed the members of the Iraqi ruling party to religious cleansing and prepared the way for chaos throughout the country. The American invaders eventually sided with the political clan they had initially defeated, so desperate were they to restore order. This permitted a troop withdrawal, which was then followed by Islamist uprisings. The destruction of the Iraqi state in 2003 and the political disturbances brought by the hot summer of 2010 created the space for the terrorists of Islamic State in 2014. A common American error is to believe that freedom is the absence of state authority.    The dominant stereotype of Nazi Germany is of an all-powerful state that catalogued, repressed and then exterminated an entire class of its own citizens. This was not how the Nazis achieved the Holocaust, nor how they even thought about it. The enormous majority of the victims of the Holocaust were not German citizens; Jews who were German citizens were in fact far more likely to survive than Jews who were citizens of states that the Germans destroyed. The Nazis knew that they had to go abroad and lay waste to neighbouring societies before they could hope to bring their revolution to their own. Not only the Holocaust, but all major German crimes took place in areas where state institutions had been destroyed, dismantled or seriously compromised. The German murder of five and a half million Jews, more than three million Soviet prisoners of war, and about a million civilians in so-called anti-partisan operations all took place in stateless zones.    Since the Holocaust is an axial event of modern history, its misunderstanding turns our minds in the wrong direction. When the Holocaust is blamed on the modern state, the weakening of state authority appears salutary. On the political right, the erosion of state power by international capitalism seems natural; on the political left, rudderless revolutions portray themselves as virtuous. In the 21st century, anarchical protest movements join in a friendly tussle with global oligarchy, in which neither side can be hurt since both see the real enemy as the state. Both the left and the right tend to fear order rather than its destruction or absence.    In an era of  climate  change, the rightwing version of anarchy, economic libertarianism, may pose the more pertinent danger. As all economists know, markets do not function perfectly at either the macro or the micro level. At the macro level, unregulated capitalism is subject to the extremes of the business cycle. In theory, markets always recover from depression; in practice, the human suffering induced by economic collapse can have profound political consequences, including the end of capitalism itself, before any recovery takes place. At the micro level, firms in theory provide goods that are desired and affordable. In practice, companies seeking profits can generate external costs that they do not themselves remediate. The classical example of such an externality is pollution, which costs its producers nothing but harms other people.    A government can assign a cost to pollution, which internalises the externality and thus reduces the undesired consequence. It would be simple to internalise the costs of the carbon pollution that causes  climate  change. It requires a dogma to oppose such an operation – which depends upon markets and in the long run will preserve them – as anticapitalist. Supporters of the unrestrained free market have found that dogma: the claim that science is nothing more than politics. Since the science of  climate  change is clear, some Americans deny the validity of science itself by presenting its findings as a cover for conniving politicians.    In the case of  climate  change, the denial of science legitimates military action rather than investment in technology    Though no American would deny that tanks work in the desert, some Americans do deny that deserts are growing larger. Though no American would deny ballistics, some Americans do deny  climate  science. Hitler denied that science could solve the basic problem of nutrition, but assumed that technology could win territory. It seemed to follow that waiting for research was pointless and that immediate military action was necessary. In the case of  climate  change, the denial of science likewise legitimates military action rather than investment in technology. If people do not take responsibility for the  climate  themselves, they will shift responsibility for the associated calamities to other people. Insofar as  climate  denial hinders technical progress, it might hasten real disasters, which in their turn can make catastrophic thinking still more credible. A vicious circle can begin in which politics collapses into ecological panic. The direct consequences of  climate  change will reach America long after Africa, the Near East and China have been transformed. By then, it will be too late to act.    The market is not nature; it depends upon nature. The  climate  is not a commodity that can be traded but rather a precondition to economic activity as such. The claim of a right to destroy the world in the name of profits for a few people reveals an important conceptual problem. Rights mean restraint. Each person is an end in himself or herself; the significance of a person is not exhausted by what someone else wants from him or her. Individuals have the right not to be defined as parts of a planetary conspiracy or a doomed race. They have the right not to have their homelands defined as habitat. They have the right not to have their polities destroyed.    * * *    The state is for the recognition,  endorsement and protection of rights, which means creating the conditions under which rights can be recognised, endorsed, and protected. When states are absent, rights – by any definition – are impossible to sustain. States are not structures to be taken for granted, exploited or discarded, but are fruits of long and quiet effort. It is tempting but dangerous to gleefully fragment the state from the right or knowingly gaze at the shards from the left. Political thought is neither destruction nor critique, but rather the historically informed imagination of plural structures – a labour of the present that can preserve life and decency in the future.    One plurality is between politics and science. A recognition of their distinct purposes makes possible thinking about rights and states; their conflation is a step toward a total ideology such as National Socialism. Another plurality is between order and freedom: each depends upon the other, although each is different from the other. The claim that order is freedom or that freedom is order ends in tyranny. The claim that freedom is the lack of order must end in anarchy – which is nothing more than tyranny of a special kind.    Related: Black Earth by Timothy Snyder review – a new lesson to be learned from the Holocaust    A final plurality has to do with time. The state endures to create a sense of durability. When we lack a sense of past and future, the present feels like a shaky platform, an uncertain basis for action. The defence of states and rights is impossible to undertake if no one learns from the past or believes in the future. Awareness of history permits recognition of ideological traps and generates scepticism about demands for immediate action because everything has suddenly changed. Confidence in the future can make the world seem like something more than, in Hitler’s words, “the surface area of a precisely measured space”. Time, the fourth dimension, can make the three dimensions of space seem less claustrophobic. Confidence in duration is the antidote to panic and the tonic of demagogy. A sense of the future has to be created in the present from what we know of the past, the fourth dimension built out from the three of daily life.    In the case of  climate  change, we know what the state can do to tame panic. We know that it is easier and less costly to draw nourishment from plants than animals. We know that improvements in agricultural productivity continue and that the desalination of seawater is possible. We know that efficiency of energy use is the simplest way to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. We know that governments can assign prices to carbon pollution and can pledge reductions of future emissions to one another and review one another’s pledges. We also know that governments can stimulate the development of appropriate energy technologies. Solar and wind energy are ever cheaper. Fusion, advanced fission, tidal stream power and non-crop-based biofuels offer real hope for a new energy economy. In the long run, we will need techniques to capture and store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. All of this is not only thinkable but attainable.    States should invest in science so that the future can be calmly contemplated. The study of the past suggests why this would be a wise course. Time supports thought, thought supports time; structure supports plurality, and plurality, structure. This line of reasoning is less glamorous than waiting for general disaster and dreaming of personal redemption. Effective prevention of mass killings is incremental and its heroes are invisible. No conception of a durable state can compete with visions of totality. No green politics will ever be as exciting as red blood on black earth.    But opposing evil requires inspiration by what is sound rather than by what is resonant. The pluralities of nature and politics, order and freedom, past and future, are not as intoxicating as the totalitarian utopias of the last century. Every unity is beautiful as image but circular as logic and tyrannical as politics. The answer to those who seek totality is not anarchy, which is not totality’s enemy but its handmaiden. The answer is thoughtful, plural institutions: an unending labour of differentiated creation. This is a matter of imagination, maturity and survival.    •  Timothy Snyder is the Housum professor of history at Yale University and the author of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, published this week by Bodley Head, from which this essay is adapted. To order a copy for £20, go to  bookshop.theguardian.com  or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p  over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min. p  of £1.99  • Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, or sign up to the long read weekly email here                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
OECD: leading countries spend $200bn a year subsidising fossil fuels              Rich western countries and the world’s leading developing nations are spending up to $200bn (£130bn) a year subsidising fossil fuels, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.    The Paris-based thinktank said its 34 members plus six of the biggest emerging economies – China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa – were spending money supporting the consumption and production of coal, oil and gas that should be used to tackle  climate  change.    “The time is ripe for countries to demonstrate they are serious about combating  climate  change, and reforming harmful fossil fuel support is a good place to start,” said the OECD secretary general, Angel Gurría.    He added that governments were spending almost twice as much money subsidising fossil fuels as was needed to meet the  climate  -finance objectives set by the international community at  climate  change summits, which have set a target of mobilising $100bn a year by 2020.    “We must change the course,” said Gurría as he announced the launch of an inventory of almost 800 measures that support the extraction, refining or combustion of fossil fuels. “This new OECD inventory offers a roadmap to turn around harmful policies that are a relic of the past, when pollution was still seen as a tolerable side effect of economic growth.”    Although the OECD inventory indicated that fossil fuel subsidies were on a downward trend since peaking in 2011-12, the thinktank said they remained high, underlining the need for reform. The collapse in oil prices over the past year, which has reduced energy bills for business and boosted disposable incomes for consumers, presented a “unique opportunity” for cash-squeezed governments to phase out support.    The OECD said the decline in subsidies was more marked among its wealthier members than among the six developing countries it also studied. The thinktank added, however, that a similar trend could be detected in emerging nations, largely owing to India’s decision to reform subsidies that encouraged consumption of diesel.    A sizeable chunk of the decline among OECD countries resulted from the elimination of subsidies for petrol and diesel in Mexico.    Climate  change campaigners have said that up to 80% of known stocks of fossil fuels need to be kept in the ground to prevent global temperature rising by more than 2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels.    The OECD said despite an increased focus on  climate  change, many governments were still using an array of support measures dating back more than 15 years that were increasing the supply and use of fossil fuels.    It noted that about two-thirds of the measures identified in the OECD inventory were introduced before 2000, “in a very different economic and environmental context”. Governments should rethink the relevance and effectiveness of policies that used taxpayers’ money to sustain the dependence on fossil fuels.    “By distorting costs and prices, fossil-fuel subsidies create inefficiencies in the way we generate and use energy,” Gurría said. “They are also costly for governments, crowding out scarce fiscal resources that could be put to better use, such as strategic investments in the education, skills and physical infrastructure that people most value in the 21st century.    “But most importantly, fossil-fuel subsidies undermine efforts to make our economies less carbon-intensive while exacerbating the damage to human health caused by air pollution.”                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-16 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Chinese and U.S.  Climate  Change Negotiators Meet      By CORAL DAVENPORT            WASHINGTON -- President Obama's top  climate  change negotiator met with his Chinese counterpart in Los Angeles on Tuesday to announce joint actions by cities, states and provinces in both countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.    The summit meeting followed a historic accord reached in Beijing in November by Mr. Obama and President Xi Jinping, who pledged to enact policies to cut emissions significantly. Mr. Obama said the United States would reduce planet-warming carbon emissions up to 28 percent by 2025, while Mr. Xi vowed that China would halt its emissions growth by 2030.    That announcement by the world's two biggest greenhouse gas polluters was seen as a breakthrough after decades of deadlock on efforts to forge an effective global accord on  climate  change. Now Mr. Obama and Mr. Xi are pushing for completion of such a deal, signed by every nation on earth, at a United Nations summit meeting in Paris this fall.    White House officials said Tuesday's meeting was intended to demonstrate that both countries were moving forward to meet the terms of their agreement. Last month, Mr. Obama unveiled a sweeping regulation aimed at forcing heavily polluting power plants to cut emissions, and the United States and China have submitted details of their national plans to the United Nations.    Brian Deese, Mr. Obama's senior adviser on  climate  change, said the additional actions from cities, states and provinces could add momentum to those efforts. The administration also hopes that the announcements will quiet critics who say any  climate  deal will hamstring the United States and cede an economic advantage to China.    "Last year was about the U.S. and China making those commitments," Mr. Deese said. "This year, having made those commitments, needs to be a year of implementation, as our two countries demonstrate commitment to implement those goals with concrete steps."    The choice of Los Angeles for the meeting was no coincidence. California has by far the most aggressive state-level  climate  change policy in the country. The state, which has an economy larger than that of all but a handful of countries, has put in place a "cap and trade" system, in which an overall limit is imposed on greenhouse gas pollution, and companies buy and sell permits to pollute.    Other states, including nine in the Northeast, also have cap-and-trade programs, but Republicans and some Democrats in Congress have successfully pushed against a national system. In its submission to the United Nations, the Chinese government noted that it was considering a national cap-and-trade system, and seven Chinese provinces have pilot programs.    On Tuesday, the two nations announced an arrangement between government entities in China and California to begin working toward devising cap-and-trade programs in China. Several American  climate  policy experts have said they envision a future in which California's cap-and-trade market could be linked with China's regional cap-and-trade markets.    In addition, the leaders of 11 Chinese cities, including Beijing, announced plans to reach their emissions peak earlier than the national target of 2030. Combined, those cities have the same annual level of emissions as Brazil or Japan, according to White House officials. Ten cities from China will team with 10 from California in a separate initiative that aims to reduce air pollution and attract clean-technology industries.    The meeting was attended by Todd Stern, the United States' senior  climate  change negotiator, and Xie Zhenhua, China's special representative for  climate  change affairs, as well as American mayors and governors, Chinese mayors and other municipal leaders, and Chinese  climate  change officials.    While the United States, China and more than 40 other countries have submitted their plans to cut carbon pollution ahead of the Paris meeting, other major polluters, including India and Brazil, have yet to do so. United Nations officials have said that for the Paris deal to work, the plans must be submitted by October.    In Washington, Republican leaders are working to block the deal. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has begun reaching out to other countries to tell them that he is doing all he can to halt Mr. Obama's  climate  change regulations, and thus prevent the United States from meeting its United Nations obligation.    Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma and the chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, is also working to block the deal, saying the United States would be forced to cut its emissions while China's pollution would continue unabated. Asked this summer about the Chinese government's efforts to enact a national cap-and-trade program, including the pilot programs already in place, Mr. Inhofe replied, "They're lying."              Figure(s) :      PHOTO: Todd Stern, the United States' top  climate  change negotiator, patting the arm of his counterpart from China, Xie Zhenhua, at a meeting in Paris last week. The two met again on Tuesday. (PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTOPHE ENA/ASSOCIATED PRESS)             

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-14 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
2015 and 2016 set to break global heat records, says Met Office              The world’s  climate  has reached a major turning point and is set to deliver record-breaking global temperatures in 2015 and 2016, according to a new report from the UK Met Office.    Natural  climate  cycles in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans are reversing and will amplify the strong manmade-driven global warming, the report concludes. This will change weather patterns around the world including more heatwaves, but it is possible that the UK will actually have cooler summers.    “We will look back on this period as an important turning point,” said Professor Adam Scaife, who led the Met Office analysis. “That is why we are emphasising it, because there are so many big changes happening at once. This year and next year are likely to be at, or near, record levels of warming.”    The record for the hottest year was broken in 2014, when heatwaves scorched China, Russia, Australia and parts of South America. But, despite rising greenhouse gas emissions continuing to trap more heat on Earth, the last decade has seen relatively slow warming of air temperatures, dubbed a “pause” in  climate  change by some.    In fact, global warming had not paused at all. Instead, natural  climate  cycles led to more of the trapped heat being stored in the oceans. Now, according to the Met Office report, all the signs are that the pause in rising air temperatures is over and the rate of global warming will accelerate fast in coming years.    The warning comes ahead of a crunch UN summit in Paris in November at which the world’s nations must hammer out a deal to halt  climate  change. Opponents of action to curb  climate  change have cited the pause as a reason to reject urgent cuts in carbon emissions.    Related: Extreme weather already on increase due to  climate  change, study finds    But Professor Rowan Sutton, at the University of Reading and who reviewed the Met Office report, said: “None of the debate around the pause has changed our long term understanding of greenhouse-gas-driven  climate  change. That is the most fundamental point for Paris. The fact that 2014, 2015 and 2016 look like being among the very warmest years on record is a further reminder about  climate  change.”    The report analyses the latest data on all the key factors that combine to determine the global  climate  . The warming caused by carbon emissions is the largest influence and continues to rise.    But the El Niño natural cycle of warming in the equatorial Pacific, that can be a significant peak in this cycle, is now underway. It is expected to be the strongest El Niño since 1998 and will push up global temperatures – it has already weakened the Indian monsoon and the Atlantic hurricane season. Another longer-term natural cycle in the Pacific (the Pacific Decadal Oscillation) also looks to be shifting into its warmer phase.    In contrast, there are now strong signs that a natural cycle in the North Atlantic is moving into a cooler period. This has less impact on global temperature than manmade  climate  change or Pacific ocean cycles but it influences conditions in the UK and Northern Europe.    “If the Atlantic cooling continues as we expect, that would favour cooler and on the whole, drier summers, but there are other factors that compete to affect our  climate  ,” said Sutton. Periods of cooler Atlantic waters in the past, such the 1980s, have also been associated with severe African droughts but more rain in the US.    Scaife said the weather experienced in specific places from year-to-year results from the combined effects of all the natural cycles and manmade global warming. “A lot of these cycles can occur without the influence of human beings, but they are now occurring on top of the influence of man’s activities,” he said. “So now, for example, when an El Niño comes and raises the global temperature, that is the icing on the cake, the extra bit that creates the record year.”    “Although these natural variations continue to be important, and will probably determine exactly which year breaks the record, you have to put them into context,” Scaife said. “In terms of global temperature, they are all smaller than the amount of warming we have already created.”                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-16 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
The Guardian view on the Paris summit: outlook fair, but storms still possible              The chances of a deal at the Paris  climate  change summit that starts on 30 November look better than anyone might have thought possible even a year ago. But if success seems more likely than failure, failure – as President François Hollande warned last week – is still possible. The negotiations on the text that have been going on in Bonn were supposed to be nearly complete, but progress has been slow and possibly insufficient. Only this morning the UN’s  climate  chief, Christiana Figueres, warned that the targets for carbon emission reduction that 62 nations which account for 70% of emissions have so far submitted for agreement in Paris are not good enough to keep global warming below 2C.    All the same, the mere fact of nationally rather than globally agreed targets marks an important innovation. In total, targets covering 85% of emissions are expected. That would be enough to prevent global warming reaching catastrophic levels. It is the start of a process, and that is one of the things that makes the framework for a deal very different from the failed attempts at Copenhagen six years ago. Then, the developed world was being asked to bear the costs both of moving to a low-carbon economy and of mitigating the impacts of  climate  change; the US still lacked a  climate  change policy; and the fastest-growing polluters, China and India, did not take part.    But the ragged nature of progress is writ large in the UK’s own uncertain steps towards a green economy. Under Lib Dem influence in the coalition years, a raft of measures, from subsidies for wind and solar energy to improvements in domestic insulation and a green investment bank, were pushed through, while the Lib Dem energy secretary, Ed Davey, played a big part in securing an EU  climate  deal at the end of last year. Since the election, nine different policies, from onshore wind subsidies to incentives for greener motoring, have been axed or weakened. Even the eye-catching pre-election promise for funding for Swansea’s power-generating tidal lagoon has yet to be realised. Defenders of these changes argue that this is a new and fast-changing environment and, because renewables have been more efficient than anyone anticipated, the subsidies have become victims of their own success. But in the latest quarterly rankings from Ernst  &  Young, published on Wednesday, the UK has fallen out of the international top 10 of countries for investment in renewables for the first time in more than a decade. According to an EY analyst, investors are scratching their heads about the government’s direction of travel. This cooling attitude to green investment may encourage resistance to carbon reduction in Poland, the last country in the EU to depend heavily on coal-fired energy. It was a reluctant signatory to the EU deal to cut emissions by 40% over 1990 levels, and the details have still to be finalised. It could still unravel.    Yet there are good reasons to be cheerful. The political support for a deal is broader and deeper than ever before. It embraces President Barack Obama, who has made action on  climate  change a legacy issue, and as importantly China’s President Xi Jinping. Aware that the cost of not getting an agreement by making its own contribution to carbon reduction would be greater than the cost of greening its economy, China is now fully engaged in the process. Angela Merkel, who was Germany’s environment minister when the first  climate  change conference was held in Berlin in 1995, has been playing a critical role in bilateral negotiations off stage. The two unknowns are Russia and India. They are both countries with huge fossil fuel reserves that have been slow to invest in carbon reduction, but hopes are high for India, whose prime minister, Narendra Modi, is keen to be seen as a moderniser and without China as an ally is surrounded by countries that all want action on global warming.    Next week, the UN general assembly gathers in New York. The pope will be there to deliver his message about the moral necessity of tackling  climate  change. There will be a dinner, and no doubt bilaterals to tackle outstanding problems. The sustainable development goals, which could be part of the underpinning of the Paris deal, are due to be considered. But the real crunch comes in October, when the IMF and the World Bank Group meet in Peru to assess progress towards the $100bn of  climate  aid. This is the money that will grease the wheels of the deal. It sounds like an unfathomably large amount. But compared with the cost of not reaching a deal, to rich and poor country alike, it is cheap at the price.                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-08-31 *am_2015-08 *annee_2015 
Obama Will Put Focus on  Climate  , Not Energy, During Trip to Alaska      By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS            WASHINGTON -- President Obama will travel to Alaska on Monday to call for urgent and aggressive action to tackle  climate  change, capitalizing on a poignant tableau of melting glaciers, crumbling permafrost and rising sea levels to illustrate the immediacy of an issue he hopes to make a central element of his legacy.    But during a three-day trip choreographed to lend spectacular visuals and real-world examples to Mr. Obama's message on global warming, he will pay little heed to the oil and gas drilling offshore that he allowed to go forward just this month, a move that activists say is an unsavory blot on an otherwise ambitious  climate  record.    While the Arctic is a fitting backdrop for the president's call to action, it is also a place where the conflicting threads of his environmental policy collide, and where the bracing public debate over how to address the warming of the planet is particularly animated.    "It's inconsistent on the one hand for President Obama to lead the world toward comprehensive action on  climate  change, while on the other allowing companies to pursue difficult, expensive oil in dangerous and remote places," said Michael LeVine, Pacific senior counsel for Oceana, an environmental group.    While Mr. Obama has taken unprecedented steps to reduce the nation's demand for the fossil fuels that cause  climate  change, enacting new rules that cut emissions while pressing for a major global accord, he has done far less to shift investment away from oil and gas development. That has boomed during his presidency, bringing economic benefits in the form of jobs and lower electricity prices.    The challenge is highlighted in Alaska, where many citizens are grappling with the devastating effects of  climate  change even as they depend on energy development for their livelihoods. In becoming the first sitting American president to visit Arctic Alaska, Mr. Obama is confronting those conflicting pressures.    In his weekly radio address on Saturday, the president acknowledged, as he had in the past, that although he was pushing to transition the nation "away from dirty energy sources that threaten our health and our environment," the economy was still reliant on oil and gas.    "As long as that's the case, I believe we should rely more on domestic production than on foreign imports, and we should demand the highest safety standards in the industry -- our own," Mr. Obama said. "I share people's concerns about offshore drilling. I remember the BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico all too well."    At issue this time is a long-delayed application by Royal Dutch Shell, to which the Obama administration gave final approval two weeks ago, to begin drilling for oil and gas in untouched waters of the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwest coast. The president does not plan to interact with Shell during his trip, White House officials said, but he will travel to the town of Kotzebue above the Arctic Circle, where the company has set up some of its equipment.    Kotzebue and many of its neighbors -- Inuit villages that are being overtaken by the sea because of soil erosion, brought on by melting permafrost and stronger storms that come with higher temperatures -- are potent real-time examples of what Mr. Obama has called a  climate  wake-up call.    At a State Department  climate  conference in Anchorage on Monday, Mr. Obama will call for sweeping collective action on  climate  change, pushing for commitments designed to propel a global accord in December at a United Nations summit meeting in Paris. Then he plans to hopscotch the state bearing witness to the effects of rising temperatures, hiking Exit Glacier in Seward on Tuesday and meeting Wednesday with salmon fishermen in Dillingham, on pristine Bristol Bay, before journeying to Kotzebue.    "This is an issue that is very here and now," said Brian Deese, Mr. Obama's senior adviser on  climate  policy. "The issue of  climate  change is not an issue of the future tense in Alaska. It is affecting people in their lives and livelihoods in real ways."    Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian and the author of "The Quiet World," which documents conservation efforts in Alaska, said Mr. Obama had spoken privately of how difficult it was to get the  climate  change story across to the news media, particularly given that Americans "don't want to feel that they're doing something wrong driving the S.U.V. to pick up their kids at school."    "Going up to glacier country is the most visceral way to do that, and it's really a culmination of President Obama going from being the  climate  change educator of America to trying to be seen now as a  climate  activist," Mr. Brinkley said.    Still, in traveling to the Arctic -- a region that has warmed twice as quickly as the rest of the world over the past six decades, with its northernmost reaches losing more than a football field a day of land because of coastal erosion and rising seas -- Mr. Obama will also be implicitly making the case against the drilling he has authorized.    "The glaring, inconvenient truth is that when you step onto ground zero and visit communities where they're falling into the sea because of rapidly melting ice, you are witnessing the dramatic impacts of continuing down this path of fossil fuel development," said Franz A. Matzner, director of the Beyond Oil Initiative at the Natural Resources Defense Council.    Environmental groups and progressive activists have been quick to point out the incongruity in Mr. Obama's Arctic trip. On Thursday, the social-change group Credo began a campaign attacking the president for what it called his "self-defeating hypocrisy" on the  climate  , calling for Americans to flood the White House with phone calls and petition signatures demanding an end to Arctic drilling.    Conservationists, native leaders and  climate  activists are holding a rally against Arctic drilling in Anchorage on Monday to coincide with Mr. Obama's arrival.    At the same time, some Alaskans are asking for just the opposite. Last week, the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation, which represents the business interests of the Arctic Slope Inupiat tribe, released a television advertisement calling on Mr. Obama to "stand with Alaskans and continue to support Arctic energy development."    The timing of the Shell decision was particularly awkward for the White House, coming so soon before Mr. Obama embarks on his Arctic sojourn. Advisers have argued that the president had no legal option but to process the permit based on leases sold to Shell for $2.1 billion by President George W. Bush's administration. More broadly, the administration argues that drilling off the Alaska coast is simply a matter of bowing to the reality that the country remains dependent on fossil fuels, and working to ensure that the work is done domestically and under stringent safety rules.    "We might wish for an instantaneous transformation that was drastically less reliant on oil and gas and coal, or at least that used technologies for oil and gas and coal that reduced greatly the emissions associated with that, but we don't live in a magical world," said John P. Holdren, senior adviser to Mr. Obama on science and technology. "If you're going to be using oil and gas, it's better to produce it here than somewhere else. We have by far the strongest environmental and safety oversight of any country."              Figure(s) :      PHOTO: Crew members on the Alex Haley, a Coast Guard ship, this month in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska, where Royal Dutch Shell has permits to drill. President Obama's trip to the state begins Monday. (PHOTOGRAPH BY RUTH FREMSON/THE NEW YORK TIMES)             

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-16 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Help the Global Apollo Programme make clean energy cheaper than coal              We, the undersigned, believe that global warming can be addressed without adding significant economic costs or burdening taxpayers with more debt. A sensible approach to tackling  climate  change will not only pay for itself but provide economic benefits to the nations of the world.    The aspiration of the Global Apollo Programme is to make renewable energy cheaper than coal within 10 years. We urge the leading nations of the world to commit to this positive, practical initiative by the Paris  climate  conference in December.    The plan requires leading governments to invest a total of $15bn a year in research, development and demonstration of clean energy. That compares to the $100bn currently invested in defence research and development globally each year.    Public investment now will save governments huge sums in the future. What is more, a coordinated R  plan can help bring energy bills down for billions of consumers. Renewable energy gets less than 2% of publicly funded R  The private sector spends relatively small sums on clean energy research and development.    Just as with the Apollo space missions of the 1960s, great scientific minds must now be assembled to find a solution to one of the biggest challenges we face.    Please support the Global Apollo Programme – the world’s 10-year plan for cheaper, cleaner energy.    David Attenborough  Professor Brian Cox  Paul Polman  CEO, Unilever  Arunabha Ghosh  CEO, Council on Energy Environment and Water  Ed Davey  Former UK energy secretary  Nicholas Stern  IG Patel professor of economics and government, LSE  Bill Hare  Founder and CEO,  Climate  Analytics  Nilesh Y Jadhav  Programme director, Energy Research Institute @NTU, Singapore  Niall Dunne  Chief sustainability officer, BT  Carlo Carraro  Director, International Centre for  Climate  Governance  Professor Brian Hoskins  Chair, Grantham Institute  Mark Kenber  CEO, The  Climate  Group  Ben Goldsmith  Founder, Menhaden Capital  Sabina Ratti  Executive director, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM)  John Browne  Chairman, L1 Energy  Zac Goldsmith MP  Professor Martin Siegert  Co-director, Grantham Institute  Professor Joanna Haigh  Co-director, Grantham Institute, and vice-president of Royal Meteorological Society  Peter Bakker  President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development  Dr Fatima Denton  African  Climate  Policy Centre  Denys Shortt  CEO, DCS Group  Adair Turner  Former chairman, Financial Services Authority  Gus O’Donnell  Former cabinet secretary  Richard Layard  London School of Economics  Professor John Shepherd  Martin Rees  Astronomer royal                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Sumatran rhinos likely to become extinct, warn environment experts              Earth’s last remaining Sumatran rhinos are edging perilously close to extinction, according to one of the world’s top conservation bodies.    There are fewer than 100 of the animals left in the rainforests of the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the Kalimantan province of Borneo. The last Sumatran rhino (  Dicerorhinus sumatrensis  ) in Malaysia was spotted two years ago in the Sabah region of Borneo but experts last month declared the species extinct in that country.    That has prompted the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to sound the alarm over the species’ fate, which it said is headed for extinction if urgent action is not taken.    “It takes the rhino down to a single country,” said Simon Stuart, chair of the IUCN’s species survival commission. “With the ongoing poaching crisis, escalating population decline and destruction of suitable habitat, extinction of the Sumatran rhino in the near future is becoming increasingly likely.”    The rhino is the smallest of the three Asian rhino species – there are also just 57 Javan rhinos (  Rhinoceros sondaicus  ) and more than 3,000 Indian rhinos (  Rhinoceros unicornis  ). The population of the Sumatran species is believed to have halved in the last decade.    The last official assessment in 2008 put their number at about 250 but Stuart said, with hindsight, the true number then had probably been about 200. Poachers kill the rhinos for their horn, which is even more valuable than that of African rhinos.    “For hundreds of years, we’ve been unable to stem the decline of this species. That’s due to poaching. It’s due to the fact they get to such a low density the animals don’t find each other and they don’t breed. It’s due to the fact that if the females don’t breed regularly, they develop these tumours in their reproductive tract that render them infertile,” he said.    A large number of females in the wild were likely infertile because they do not breed often enough, he said. The only Sumatran rhino in the western hemisphere, a male called Harapan, is due to be flown from Cincinnati Zoo in the US to a rhino sanctuary in Sumatra this autumn to help the species breed. There are only nine of the animals in captivity worldwide.    Stuart said a good plan had already been agreed on how to save the species but political commitment was now needed from Indonesia and international donors to fund it. The plan envisages a survey to identify all the remaining individuals, and then bringing them together to help them breed and protect them with military-like levels of security from poachers.    “It’s a fantastic animal. It’s the weirdest of all the rhinos. They meow like a cat,” Stuart said. “No one is going to get rich on Sumatran rhinos other than those illegally trading in the horn. There are frankly no economic benefits to saving it, it’s just a moral obligation.”                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Kevin Costner has found his middle-of-the-road niche – and it suits him              Kevin Costner deserves my sincerest congratulations: for over three decades now he has been boring me, irritating me and pissing me off. For the first 10 years of his career, I used to joke that his finest performance was as the corpse in Lawrence Kasdan’s odious boomer nostalgia-orgy The Big Chill. Then he won the best director Oscar for Dances With Wolves over Scorsese and Goodfellas and my enmity quadrupled, especially since those same acclaimed helming skills later gave us The Postman.    Related: Kevin Costner: Waterworld is 'beloved around the world'    But now, as he unleashes what by my count is his sixth identikit sports movie, Disney’s crowd-pleasing  McFarland, USA  , he seems like a part of the  climate  that you never really notice any more, something annoying that you long ago tuned out. Like Noah Cross’s “politicians, whores and ugly buildings” – and Costner has arguably been all three in his time – he finally seems almost respectable these days, having outlived his callow early reputation. He gets cast a lot these days for the supposed depth of his screen persona, which only means he’s been around for ever: he’s been Superman’s earthly dad in Man Of Steel, Chris Pine’s boss in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and he’s made his first venture into the post-Taken, geriatric-dad action genre in 3 Days To Kill.    In retrospect, many of his career choices led him here. He staked his claim to that most American and (in its popular format, such as it is these 30 years past) most moribund and backward-looking of genres, the western, to which he has returned often in the years since Kasdan’s Silverado in 1985, including as director-star in the rather good Open Range. I give him points for that commitment, even if he never quite rouses the spirit of Gary Cooper, another limited actor.    Then there are those sports movies, another fairly conservative genre that inflates the rules of any game into a worthy code to live by. It tells us that you can raise a boy up right (it’s almost always boys) with a baseball bat or a football helmet, some discipline, teamwork and that mysterious quality called sticktoitiveness. Although Costner is a Democrat (mostly), these are often mistakenly seen as middle-of-the-road, midwestern Republican values, and therein lies something of his appeal, and the reason why I never quite got Costner.    It’s because the baseball-western paradigm plays best in the middle America that people like me never encounter, among decent, square, small-C conservative people who think Tim Allen is funny – a huge, equally undemonstrative demographic, too often scorned. The problem is that Costner has always been angling to fill that Gary Cooper-shaped hole that for four decades now has been occupied by Harrison Ford. And Ford, I’ll wager, will be impossible to shift.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Hinkley Point fails on cost and reliability, but the show must go on              Infrastructure analysts know the phenomenon well. A project becomes so expensive and difficult during the planning stage that the sensible course would be to abandon it altogether. Yet the backers plough on regardless because they have invested so much time, money and energy. As financial assumptions are undermined, and delays occur, new reasons to proceed are invented. In this way, the project acquires a life of its own. Completion, at almost any cost, becomes the priority.    Related: Hinkley Point: Osborne seeks to ease doubts with £2bn guarantee    Hinkley Point C, the government’s hoped-for £24.5bn nuclear power station in Somerset, is a classic of this genre. Once upon a time, it was possible to believe that a new nuclear fleet in the UK could provide reliable, low-carbon energy at a reasonable price to consumers. Yet two of those goals – reliability and cheap generation – simply aren’t going to be delivered by Hinkley Point, and it’s about time the government admitted as much.    On the reliability front, Hinkley-style European pressurised reactors are struggling to open for business elsewhere on the continent. EDF’s plant in Finland is nine years late and the one in Flamanville in Normandy is four years behind schedule. “Our view is that EPR’s future is bleak: too big, too costly, and still unproven,” said HSBC’s analysts last month.    In terms of costs to consumers, the agreed price is horrendous. Hinkley’s output will be guaranteed at £92.50 per megawatt hour, rising with the rate of inflation every year for 35 years. That rate is more than twice the current wholesale price. Even onshore wind is cheaper; by 2023, Hinkley’s latest estimated opening date, offshore wind may be too.    Yet still the farce continues. In Monday’s episode, the chancellor, George Osborne, tried to do EDF’s job by encouraging wavering Chinese investors to commit their slug of the financing for Hinkley. He announced a £2bn loan guarantee (the first of a potential £16bn) and half-promised something far more interesting to his hosts – the chance to construct their own nuclear reactor, build to a different design, in Essex.    This is undignified stuff for a UK chancellor. If the Chinese don’t want to fund Hinkley despite all the subsidies and guarantees thrown at the project, too bad. The Treasury could fund the thing itself, if it really wanted to, without making semi-promises to Chinese nuclear constructors.    Osborne, instead of travelling to Beijing to plead for cash, would have done better to stay at home and order an independent review of Hinkley’s economics. He might find, as HSBC did, that there is “little logic for the UK government committing to the existing EPR model”.    Unfortunately, there is now little chance of that happening – Hinkley must proceed because the government has decided that a U-turn would be too embarrassing.    RSA jilted with no suitors    Stephen Hester and RSA refrained from calling Zurich Insurance a bunch of timewasters but it would have been a reasonable insult to throw. After two months of negotiations, and with an agreed price of 550p a share on the table, the Swiss retired meekly on Monda y, pleading the need to get their own house in order before attempting a £5.6bn takeover.    This is limp stuff from Zurich. Insurers exist to handle losses and cannot be surprised when a big claim arrives. In this case, the supposed deal-breaker was a $275m whack from the port of Tianjin explosion in China. In reality, if such a sum could undermine a run at RSA, the bid approach was probably wrong-headed in the first place. Martin Senn, Zurich boss, has some explaining to do to his shareholders.    As for Hester, he is now obliged to go back to plan A, which means completing the disposal programme (the operation in the Middle East is the last remaining big one) and cutting costs in the UK, Scandinavia and Canada. The strategy makes sense since RSA, in terms of efficiency and underwriting, is off the pace set by traditional rival Aviva. Yet, in the current low-interest rate  climate  , where investment income generates next to nothing, the prospect is one of hard graft.    Consolidation is still the likely long-term trend for this industry so, one of these years, RSA may reappear in the takeover window. But, for now, RSA shareholders are obliged to confront one uncomfortable lesson from this episode: despite all the chat about rival bidders when Zurich announced its approach in July, nobody turned up.    In the circumstances, you can understand why RSA’s share price settled almost 10% below the pre-approach level.    CMA delay    They are busy folk at the Competition and Markets Authority, where they are investigating the state of play in two big politically sensitive markets – banking and energy.    Related: Competition watchdog extends deadline for UK energy industry report    No surprise, then, that timetables are slipping. Provisional findings on retail and small-business banking are due next month, having originally been planned for this month. On energy, full findings have been pushed out to next June, instead of this Christmas.    A lot of people have a lot of opinions, it seems, and “the inquiry group also wants to ensure it has sufficient time to conclude the further evidence-gathering and analysis required for the final report”.    Fair enough – and it’s best to ensure the analyses and remedies are robust. But the CMA could do itself a favour by not wasting time on silly inquiries like the study of Poundland’s acquisition of 99p Stores. It took two attempts to arrive at the correct (and obvious) answer that competition would not be harmed.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-11 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Making the weather in English writing and art              On the last night of the 18th century, the heroine of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando leans out from her London window. In the cool, clear air she surveys the smooth domes and magnificent vistas of the city. All is “light, order, and serenity”. But then, as she watches, a rapid gloom starts to close in. Within moments, there comes a dramatic meteorological alteration. “A turbulent welter of cloud covered the city. All was darkness; all was doubt; all was confusion. The 18th century was over; the 19th century had begun.”    This is how time passes in Woolf’s historical pageant: the atmosphere of English life in different eras is established through changes in the air. It is a masterstroke of literalism. Life changes in accordance with the newly Victorian weather: skirts are worn to the ground and tablecloths follow suit; ivy grows in profusion; in the muffled gloom, evasions and concealments are bred almost as quickly as children.    It’s all a joke, of course, but the joke works closely with matters of fact. Immediately we think of wood-panelled rooms, yards of black taffeta, the rain as it comes down in the paintings of John Atkinson Grimshaw, the verdigris of long-weathered copper,the sheen of cobbles in gaslight. Why does the 19th century, seen through the telescope of time, look so very damp?    Parts of it were verifiably wet. Springs and autumns in the 1830s and 40s were characterised by high rainfall, as were the summers of the 1870s when crops rotted in the fields. There was also the man-made atmosphere to contend with: industrial smoke generated its own pervasive black clouds. But Victorian England also saw plenty of fine weather and some worrying periods of drought. Measurable quantities of rainfall and cloud-cover were not really, I think, Woolf’s point. Her method in  Orlando  had more to do with a sense that, as cultural preoccupations change, we find affinities with different conditions. Weathers gather associations and, in a constant exchange of subject and object, these associations shape our experience of weather.    Woolf’s sensitivity to cultural change over time came from astonishingly wide and empathetic reading. Five years ago, in an optimistic moment, I wondered if I could observe for myself some of the meteorological shifts she detected. I was not serious about this until I spent a summer reading Anglo-Saxon poetry and chronicles. The fascination with frost seemed to run so deep that even the language was frozen into its forms:  wintercearig  ,  winterbiter  ,  wintergeweorþe  . Where was the sun? I kept reading, waiting for the spring. It came in the lyric poems of the 13th century: “Lenten is come with love to toune”, they sang. The long hold of ice was over. “Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote”, begins the  Canterbury Tales  : April is where the medieval stories begin. I knew then that I must read on and on, through into the 15th century, and the 18th (watching to see whether the sky there was so very clear), and on through the gathering clouds towards Wyndham Lewis’s 1914 proposal of a new  climate  for modern life.    It amazed me to realise that there have been times when weather is all allegory, and others when the numbers on a rain gauge count for more than a pantheon of aerial gods; there have been times for meteoric marvels and times for gentle breeze. It’s hard to find a description of a rainy night in the early 1700s, but the Romantics will take a storm, or even just a shower, as fit subject for their most probing meditations.    The thermometer may be the same whoever reads it, but our experience of weather is more than statistical. It is made up of personal memories and moods. An evening sky is full of other evenings; a mist may be given its identity by a line from a song or a half-remembered film. The weather is made for us partly by writers and artists who have set down permanently their response to a fleeting effect. This is all interwoven with the practicalities of being hot or cold while the world around us is blotted out or lit up, a brass handle or a shopfront suddenly picked out by the sun. The subject I was chasing through libraries and over windy hills was not the weather itself, I realised, but the weather as it is daily recreated in the human imagination. I kept  Orlando  in mind: I wanted to experience that sense of time-travel, of changing stages, of England and English skies as if filmed with a time-lapse camera.    ***    English literature begins in the cold. In the writing of the eighth and ninth centuries, perceptions of winter are expressed with incomparable subtlety. The elegy now known as “The Wanderer” introduces the melancholy figure of an exile who finds himself completely alone in the world, adrift on a “rime-cold” sea and haunted by memories of the life he used to lead. He adopts the austere seascape as the external image of inward feelings which are chilling in themselves and on which he imposes a cool self-discipline. The Wanderer wakes from dreams of company to bleak wastes where seabirds spread their wings through hail and snow. It is a monochromatic vision, with the addition of “  fealwe  ” suggesting the dun yellow of churned water. It is dreadful, but the poet is mesmerised by this cold expanse. This is what he chooses to write about.    Other writers are more simply explicit about visual appreciation of cold. In the “Rune Poem” ice is defined by its jewel-like quality. Thinking of it, the poet makes his line glitter – “  glisnaþ glæshlutter gimmum gelicust  ”; icy ground gleams attractively in his mind as a frosted floor which is “  fæger ansyne  ”, fair to see.    English summers could be as warm then as now, but Anglo-Saxon writing does not deal in warm Junes or bright Septembers. Perhaps they did not need to be discussed. In winter, the time of stories, easy warmth was an unreal memory. The opposite of cold is usually not summer balminess, but the communal indoor fire. When the sun is mentioned at all, it is known as the “candle of the sky”, a curious image in that it depletes the sun, likening it to melting tallow and vulnerable flame. The impulse of this culture is to favour the controlled, man-made and essentially social space of the hall. Exiles dream not of airy fields but of a dense, smoky interior, where wooden benches are worn smooth and gold catches the light.    Related: Drip, drip, drip, by day and night    From the sixth century onwards it was common to hear of holy men who put themselves purposely in the hands of nature at its coldest. When Bede wrote the life of Cuthbert, he paused over an arresting image that clearly meant much to him: the saint’s habit was to pray all night in the sea, up to his arms and neck in water. This was a self-inflicted penance of cold, at the limits of bodily endurance. A fellow monk, wondering where Cuthbert went at night, followed him to the shore. He watched at dawn, Bede tells us, as Cuthbert came out of the water and prayed on the sand, where otters gathered to warm his feet with their breath. We can almost see, in the grey light of a morning on the wide Northumbrian beach, the wet, gleaming fur of the otters, and their breath condensing as it rises.    ***    The Christian story proposes changeable weather as one of the penalties inflicted on humanity for its sins. In Eden there was moisture to nurture abundant plants, and such warmth that Adam and Eve needed no extra layers. If there was weather at all, it was steadily benign. The trouble began either immediately after the Fall or with the Flood. John Milton in  Paradise Lost  described the dire “alterations in the heavens and elements” set in train by God as soon as the apple was eaten. Winds were summoned to do battle in the air. Angels tipped the Earth on its axis, subjecting it to the variability of seasons. Man would now have to cope with the unpredictability of a lopsided globe. The twinned genesis of weather and time is remembered in the French phrase  les temps  and Italian  tempo  . Having lost eternal stability, we must live in passing airs and hours.    At the end of Paradise Lost, Adam and Eve walk tremblingly into a punishing weather-world. The cherubim who gather to escort them are conjured in an evaporating simile that offers a last glimpse of Eden, though one already changed. The angels come towards the outcasts    Gliding meteorous, as evening mist    Risen from a river o’er the marish glides,    And gathers ground fast at the labourer’s heel    Homeward returning.    In this image, which eludes like mist all attempts to catch it, luminescent angels are brought into association with a murky night drawing in over the marshes. “Homeward returning”, writes Milton pointedly, though Adam and Eve now have no home to which they can return as mists gather at their heels.    The dank marsh-world they enter will be the fenny breeding ground of English literature. Grendel, the monster of  Beowulf  , will come stalking down through the mist, apprehended more (and more frighteningly) as a meteorological disturbance than as corporeal flesh and blood. Dickens will turn the “marish” into the shadowy Kent wastes of  Great Expectations  , which will in turn become the “marsh country” of Graham Swift’s  Waterland  . Clinging and closing over the earth, the mist will foster sorrows and secrets. But it will have a thousand other moods. In the morning sunlight it will come to be an image of hope in an expansive world.    ***    Weather has not always been described in vaporously atmospheric terms. For centuries much less attention was paid to rising mists and roving breezes than to discrete “meteors”. The Elizabethan taste in weather was for heraldic suns and tempests that might be rendered in the woodcuts of an emblem book. The air was an arena for the staging of extraordinary events. On the evidence of much Renaissance art and writing one would think that this was a time of incessant storms, comets, frosts and lightning strikes, broken only by the arrival each year of a prodigiously lovely spring.    There were dull days in the 16th century. It drizzled as much then as it does today. Yet there is little of this ongoing ordinariness in the weather as it is personified in the masques of Ben Jonson, the frost fairs of Thomas Dekker, the winter nights of Thomas Sackville, the explosive meteorological metaphors that burst out into Marlowe’s theatre.    Meteors (meaning any atmospheric phenomena) were the runic alphabet of God. They must be decoded, one by one, and acted on. Year after year through the 17th century, popular broadsides and pamphlets reported “prodigious” events in the sky and called on the nation to repent. Fireballs, brimstones, aerial castles: all seemed to be appearing with such frequency as to suggest the coming of the end. Some believed that the air was writhing with devils. Robert Burton in the 1620s thought that “aerial spirits” could “tear oaks, fire steeples, houses, strike men and beasts, make it rain stones, as in Livy’s time, wool, frogs etc., counterfeit armies in the air, strange noises, swords”.    Modern astronomers can now confirm that there were unusual numbers of comets around. Historical climatologists tell us that the long-term climatic changes of the little ice age were exacerbated by the frequency of El Niño episodes (20 of them between 1618 and 1669), which brought summer wind and rain to England. On top of this came a decline in sunspot activity. No wonder, then, that weather events are fearful things in the writing of the era. The facts of the weather are clearly important, but the facts can be perceived in different ways, and sensibility matters a great deal here. This was a culture which had been intent on ideas of decay well before the decline in solar energy, and a culture which staged fiery spectacles in theatres and in books even when there was not much to be seen in the sky. It was partly because observers were constantly looking for them that freakish meteors were witnessed in overwhelming numbers.    What did people see in the morning when they opened their shutters on a grey Tuesday in the mid-1600s? It seems impossible to know. Modern diarists will often record the weather as a matter of course and as the background to their day. Writers of journals and letters in Stuart England said very little about it. When the weather in the 1660s determined his movements, Samuel Pepys would make a note of it, as on Boxing Day 1661: “It was most foule weather […] and so we went into an alehouse.” He might talk to his wife in bed on long rainy mornings, or doze off on the grass in the sun.    This weeke was wonderfull dull and malincholly weather. The sun shone not    Celia Fiennes, hardy traveller that she was, described all her lengthy side-saddle tours of England in the 1680s and 90s with barely a reference to the weather, though she must have been blown about on hilltops day after day. All she saw fit to mention was that Derbyshire was windy, and that after a fierce hailstorm in Cornwall her “dust coate” dried off quickly. This was characteristic of her time. The weather’s absence can be as intriguing as its later omnipresence.    It is rare to feel the movement of air in 17th-century writing, though when we do it is with distinctive clarity. The Essex clergyman Ralph Josselin commented regularly on the weather in the weekly (sometimes daily) diary entries he made for nearly 40 years. In late April 1647, he prayed for a let-up in the rain: “The weather was very wett, the season very sad and had continued so very long, I earnestly entreated God for faire weather” – and when fair weather arrived a few days later, he registered his sense of divine goodness. When he wrote about clement days, he was making himself stop and give thanks for them. He was an unusually close watcher of ordinary conditions: “This weeke was wonderfull dull and malincholly weather,” he wrote on Tuesday 31 December 1654, while struggling with a cold and hoping it would not go to his chest. “The sun shone not, but on Monday morning, the 30 a litle glimmering one glance or two.”    ***    For centuries we have been asking ourselves whether “malincholly” weather really has the power to make us melancholy – and whether we should try to make ourselves immune. Samuel Johnson in the 1750s was stern about those who let the state of the atmosphere govern their tempers. “Our dispositions too frequently change with the colour of the sky,” he wrote, and he condemned it: “Surely nothing is more reproachful to a being endowed with reason, than to resign its powers to the influence of the air, and live in dependence on the weather and the wind.” Johnson set out a manifesto for imperturbable consistency: “Every man, though he may not aspire to Stoicism, might at least struggle against the tyranny of the  climate  , and refuse to enslave his virtue or his reason to the most variable of all variations, the changes of the weather.”    There could be no more paradigmatic statement of the ideals associated with the Age of Reason. Johnson asserted the power of intellect and self-will over mind and body. His promotion of stability over change showed why the weather was never going to be an easy subject in the middle of the 18th century. In a culture which took its bearings from the stable symmetries of classical architecture and from the balanced weights of the poetic couplet, fogs and storms were troublesome. Johnson demanded that the thinking man make himself independent of such uncontrollable forces.    This façade of reason, however, was erected on land hard won from emotion. Johnson kept mentioning the weather. In private he noted that the period between Easter and Whitsuntide was “propitious to study” and set himself daunting tasks for this time of year. He tried to train himself to like “invigorating” winter, but he struggled in the cold. Recording his every word, James Boswell noticed that “the effects of weather upon him were very visible”. But why should he be ashamed? Boswell himself was sure that the “influences of the air” were irresistible to people of fine sensibilities.    Near the end of his life, Johnson found that he was ready to relent. He had tired of the struggle and he made an admission: “I am now reduced to think, and am at last content to talk, of the weather,” he wrote at the age of 74. “Pride must have a fall.” That was in August 1784. He was ceding way to the next generation, whose veneration of the weather would be its badge of honour, as Johnson’s resistance was his.    ***    Johnson needed to banish the weather in order to get his work done; JMW Turner could not begin his work without it. Weather was his subject, his studio and (when rain mixed with his paints) his medium too. Envious of its mobile energy, he made the sky his tutor and tried to compete with it. His watercolour on paper must take on the iridescence of mist. Or his oils must become the dark materials of the storm.    In November 1810, Turner was working on the terrace at Farnley Hall, in Yorkshire, looking out across Wharfedale towards the slope of Otley Chevin. “Come here!” he shouted suddenly to his friend Walter Fawkes’s son (who would remember this moment all his life). A great disturbance was approaching. “Look at this thunder-storm! Isn’t it grand? Isn’t it wonderful? Isn’t it sublime?” Quickly he sketched the shape of the oncoming clouds and showed the drawing to the boy beside him: “In two years’ time you will see this again, and call it Hannibal crossing the Alps.” He was true to his word: his Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps, painted on a canvas nearly eight feet wide, was exhibited in 1812.    In that storm gathering over Yorkshire, Turner had seen a whole history of power: the history of struggles between man and man, the giant struggle of all men combined against the elements, and the exhilarating imaginative force that the weather can stir in those who watch it. The upward arc of the storm-sturge is a shout of triumph and a leap of the heart.    After the storm, there were quiet consolations. Turner kept seeing, all around him, Milton’s Eden, that country of “mists and exhalations”, where, if you watch for long enough, greyness will be lit up with gold. In the dim chill of a rural wayside he watched the slow relief of dawn. His  Frosty Morning  caught the crackling stillness of a winter sunrise, when the barren landscape softens moment by moment in the tawny glow.    Yet in Turner there is always a tacit knowledge of nature’s capacity for elemental violence. Stout castles on the Tweed are to him no more solid than mirages in the distance. The stately homes of his patrons may have the finest classical proportions, but they cannot hold back the flood. Among the most disturbing of his paintings is not a tempest or an avalanche but an interior. The picture now known as  Interior of a Great House  (c 1830) shows white light surging into an elegant drawing room like an invading force. Mites of dust are caught in its beams. This light has brought with it a whirlwind that lifts the fabric and knocks a footstool on its side. Squinting into the bright shafts and the dim corners we begin to make out a scene of wreckage. Turner does not paint “an interior”, but the ruin of everything for which interiors stand.    ***    But what is an interior after all? Part of the story of our changing relationship with weather is written into the varying forms of shelter we have built. In Anglo-Saxon, a window had been an “  eagduru  ” – an “eye-door” for looking through. The Norse word “  vindauga  ”, or “wind-eye”, became the more common name, signifying what came in rather than the seeing-out. Windows let in the wind. Medieval houses often faced inwards to a courtyard, closing in on themselves, their walls as thick as possible to withstand the cold and, in violent times, the armies; their windows were chinks in the armour, only grudgingly permitted.    The great “prodigy houses” of the 1580s were among the first buildings to embody in glass and stone a new relationship between humans and weather. They turned everything outwards, wearing their lights like diamonds, confronting the visitor not with strong defences but with equally formidable displays of confidence. At Hardwick Hall (“more glass than wall”), a great chamber with floor-to-ceiling glass along one side was a kind of conservatory. By day the whole character of the room was conditioned by the quality of light, the furnishings made pale and uniform in blanket cloud, or sharpened and coloured in sun. From the outside, the walls seemed to be made partly of the sky itself. Grey, blue, shifting clouds – it all passed across the countenance of Hardwick.    Our modern glassy office-blocks are descendants of those Tudor halls of mirrors, though large windows now come with automatic blinds and intelligent heat-responsive tinting: architecture’s sunglasses. Twentieth-century interiors often aimed for transparency while being completely independent of the elements outside. They were hermetic capsules of man-made weather. Since Le Corbuiser announced in 1929 that ideally we should breathe “pure air at a constant temperature”, proposing that the homes of the future would be exactly 18C, air-conditioning has regulated the temperature of our lives. But there are signs now of a large-scale return to the air. Draughts are the new sophistication. Windows may be for the wind again, and not only for the eye.    Skyscrapers at their translucent best can become part of the atmosphere, reflecting the clouds around them and disguising their own solidity. Reflection is their apology for bulk. The Shard is a sky-mirror stretching up almost 800ft, its glinting walls constructed from “extra white” low iron glass to share the colours of the air. This self-effacement is combined with the gesture of unroofed ambition by which the building claims the endlessness of the sky itself.    Such manoeuvres towards airy vastness come naturally to a culture which conducts its most ordinary business via aerial signals. The virtual world of information technology adopts the weather’s terms. Weightless, intangible, and all around us, information forms an additional atmosphere. Our words and music, and our credit-card transactions, are held in a figurative cloud which is cumulus-like in its vast capacity, building and building as the particles of our data coalesce. Storage used to be heavy: there were boxes and filing cabinets. Now our stored information is ethereal. It is at once everywhere and nowhere, though we imagine that it is up in the sky, because that is where our gods have traditionally belonged.    ***    We have arrived, in the 21st century, at a critical juncture in the story of weather. Unless decisive action is taken very soon, the next generation will see the last of the weather we know. We will have written our own ending to the history of life in a temperate  climate  which has endured for about 11 millennia. In the years to come, our experience will be determined by memory and association, by the things we have read and looked at, by the places we have been to or imagined. We will draw on the great storehouse we each carry in mind.    “Hast thou seen the treasures of the hail?” asked God of Job. “Treasures” here means “treasuries”, places where snow is stored up for future use. The words contain a note of threat: these treasure-stores are armouries, stockpiled with ammunition. At the same time they are luminous, conjuring for a moment what we cannot see: the door of a cupboard swung open to reveal a great gleaming wealth of hail. The weather in that storehouse is beyond the knowledge of Job, who is all of us. But it seems to me that the “treasures of the hail” are also those that have been made by human beings through many centuries. These are forms of man-made weather we need not regret. The treasuries are piled high with songs, poetry and paintings, diary entries, the names we have found for the hail, the mist and the wind.    Feste stands alone on stage at the end of  Twelfth Night  and sings a song about life in the weather and the weathering of life: “When that I was and a little tiny boy, / With hey, ho, the wind and the rain, / A foolish thing was but a toy, / For the rain it raineth every day.”    It is sometimes called a “lecher’s progress” because of the bawdy lyrics (thieves, beds and drunkards) that appear among the refrains. It can be sung as a bit of drunken jesting, but more often it is sung in a way which mixes joking with melancholy, because it is both comic and tragic to accept this vision of life. Shakespeare’s feeling for the song is suggested by the context in which it is reprised: Lear’s Fool remembers it in the middle of the storm, as the gale blows and Lear’s wits “begin to turn”. At a point of desperation, when everyone and the sky seem to have gone mad, the Fool remains sanely aware that the wind and the rain have been going on since the world began, and his song quietly proposes that human lives are all versions of the same humdrum effort to make one’s way through the weather. And so it goes on: “He that has and a little tiny wit / With hey, ho, the wind and the rain, / Must make content with his fortunes fit, / For the rain it raineth every day.”    Alexandra Harris’s Weatherland: Writers and Artists Under English Skies is published by Thames  &  Hudson on 14 September.                 

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-09-16 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
EDF boss defends Hinkley 'strike price'      By Emily Gosden            CURRENT low electricity prices are irrelevant when judging whether the proposed Hinkley Point nuclear power plant is a good deal, EDF has claimed.    Vincent de Rivaz, EDF Energy chief executive, yesterday defended the controversial £24.5bn project, insisting it is "affordable and fair"- despite mounting calls for it to be abandoned. Ministers have promised the French energy giant it will be paid £92.50 for every megawatt-hour of electricity the proposed Somerset power station will generate for 35 years.    Critics argue the price, which is more than double the current wholesale price of power, represents poor value for money for consumers.    Mr de Rivaz said: "Some critics have compared the strike price to the current electricity price. The price today is not a relevant comparison to the electricity Hinkley Point will produce in decades to come. Today's market price depends on fossil fuels and ageing plants. Our project will ensure we don't need to continue to depend on them in the future."    EDF Energy said the Department of Energy and  Climate  Change's central projections suggested that a new gas-fired power station coming online in 2024 would have an equivalent cost of £94 per megawatt-hour (MWh) unit of electricity, comparable with Hinkley.    Mr de Rivaz also argued that the market price of power today was "similar to where it was two years ago when the price for Hinkley point C was agreed and welcomed".                 

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-09-16 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Yet another Met Office 'warmer, drier summer' left us shivering in the rain              Yet again, the Met Office told us this year that we could expect a summer "warmer and drier than average". Yet again, the rain poured down, culminating in those August bank holiday downpours, while our summer ranked as only the 178th warmest since records began in 1659.    Almost every year since 2007 it has been the same story. The Met Office predicts a summer "warmer and drier than average", as in its famous "barbecue summer" of 2009, only for the heavens to open while we shiver for weeks on end.    And the reason is always the same. The  climate  changeobsessed "experts" at the Met Office, led by its chief scientist, Dame Julia Slingo, whom we pay nearly £250,000 a year, have programmed their £33 million "super-computer" to share their belief that the world is in the grip of runaway global warming.    This was why, on July 1, the Met Office gleefully trumpeted that it had been the "hottest July day ever", simply because one solitary temperature gauge next to a runway at Heathrow got momentarily caught in a blast of hot air from a passing airliner.    Dame Julia's response to the fact that once again her computer got it wrong was to claim that we must buy the Met Office an even more "super" computer, for a mere £97 million.    Way back in 2011, I wrote that the Met Office had graduated from being "a national joke" to becoming "a national disaster".    This was not least because the same computer model used by the Met Office for its wonderfully accurate seasonal forecasts also ranks high among those relied on by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on  Climate  Change to tell us what the world's weather is going to be in 100 years.    The fact that our gullible politicians believe it certainly makes it no joke.    Christopher Booker              Figure(s) :      Warm? Dry? British holidaymakers found this summer's weather to be very different from the Met Office predictions             

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-09-16 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Heat is on for a grape to beat  climate  change      By Henry Samuel in Paris            THE hunt in France for a  climate  change-resistant grape is gaining pace as wine growers struggle to cope with hot summers and unstable conditions.    This summer, France has seen its third-warmest July since 1900, with less than half the normal amount of rain. It has echoes of 2003, when grapes in some areas melted on the vines.    The heat can reduce diseases such as mildew, but it leads to more sugar in the grapes and a higher alcohol concentration. In Beaujolais, scientists this year set aside plots to cultivate experimental varieties. Experts are seeking large grapes with thick skin and loose bunches that allow for air-drying.    Further south in Bordeaux, researchers will this autumn be fermenting tiny batches of wine from 52 grape varieties that were planted in 2009.    Herve Quenol, of France's National Centre for Scientific Research, said: "The concern is knowing if we will be able to make wine with the same characteristics."                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-16 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
The California Wildfires: An Escalating Crisis      By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA            Large wildfires have raged in Northern California since Friday, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and killing at least one person, state officials said. Here are answers to some questions about the developments:    Q. So just how bad are the fires?    A. Around 700,000 acres have burned this year in California, compared with about 500,000 in a typical year, and the fire season is nowhere near over. Right now, 15,000 people are deployed fighting wildfires across the state. But what has officials on edge is less about the total acreage than about how readily new fires start, and how quickly -- and unpredictably -- they grow. "We've had fires in California since the beginning of time," said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the governor's Office of Emergency Services, "but what we're seeing now that's different is the extreme rapid spread of the fires, and the extreme volatility."    Q. Why is it this bad?    A. Two words: Drought and heat. Vegetation in California, from the mesquite scrub in the desert to the tall pines in the Sierra Nevada, is as dry as kindling after a yearslong drought, the worst in the state's recorded history. So fire catches more easily, spreads faster, and carries farther on the wind.    The state's major reservoirs hold less than half as much water as they typically would at this time of year, many wells have run dry, and underground aquifers are so depleted that in some places, the ground has been sinking as much as two inches per month.    Q. With such a severe drought, do firefighters have enough water to do their work?    A. Yes, but it requires some creativity. Ordinarily, pumper trucks and helicopters with water buckets can tap into the streams, lakes and reservoirs closest to the flames. But in many places, those sources are now too low to rely on. Firefighters are making more use of tanker trucks and big, portable plastic water basins to do what is known as "water shuttling" -- moving water close to the fires. And helicopter pilots are often having to travel farther to find places to dip their buckets.    Q. What about the human toll?    A. In the past few days, one person died and four firefighters suffered second-degree burns. Up to 1,000 buildings were destroyed, officials estimate, though the real number will not be known for a while. About 13,000 people were evacuated; most of them stayed with friends and family, but 2,700 went to evacuation centers.    Q. How bad have the drought and heat been?    A. Last year was the hottest on record in California, and this has been a hot summer. But even the hottest weather would not have created the extreme fire danger the state is seeing, if there had been enough rainfall. California is in the fourth year of a severe drought. One important indicator of just how severe it is came this spring, when state scientists measured the Sierra snowpack at 5 percent of normal -- that is not a misprint -- the lowest ever recorded.    Q. But haven't people been conserving a lot of water?    A. Yes, and that spells something of a reprieve for the people and farms that use water, but it doesn't water all those millions of acres of wild land. Only nature does that.    Q. Is this about global warming?    A. The governor says it is.  Climate  scientists say the clearest link is that a warmer  climate  causes more evaporation, so that even when rain and snow do fall, less stays on -- and in -- the ground and the plants. California has had extreme swings between dry years and wetter ones in the past, but the increasing heat of recent years is something new.    Q. The areas burning are mostly rural, with ranches, farms and riding stables. So what has become of all that livestock, not to mention household pets?    A. "We actually have a very elaborate, well-coordinated system of volunteers and organizations that take in farm animals and domestic pets," Mr. Ghilarducci said, though most people who flee take their pets with them. "Special shelters are set up, and there's a whole veterinary team that goes in to support that."                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-16 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Revealed: how Indigenous Australian storytelling accurately records sea level rises 7,000 years ago              Indigenous stories of dramatic sea level rises across Australia date back more than 7,000 years in a continuous oral tradition without parallel anywhere in the world, according to new research.    Related: Scientists predict huge sea level rise even if we limit  climate  change    Sunshine Coast University marine geographer Patrick Nunn and University of New England linguist Nicholas Reid believe that 21 Indigenous stories from across the continent faithfully record events between 18,000 and 7000 years ago, when the sea rose 120m.    Reid said a key feature of Indigenous storytelling culture – a distinctive “cross-generational cross-checking” process – might explain the remarkable consistency in accounts passed down by preliterate people which researchers previously believed could not persist for more than 800 years.    “The idea that 300 generations could faithfully tell a story that didn’t degenerate into Chinese whispers, that was passing on factual information that we know happened from independent chronology, that just seems too good to be true, right?” Reid told Guardian Australia.    “It’s an extraordinary thing. We don’t find this in other places around the world. The sea being 120 metres lower and then coming up over the continental shelf, that happened in Africa, America, Asia and everywhere else. But it’s only in Australia that we’re finding this large canon of stories that are all faithfully telling the same thing.”    Related: The written language is helping to preserve our oral culture | Souleymane Diamanka    Scholars of oral traditions have previously been sceptical of how accurately they reflect real events.    However, Nunn and Reid’s paper, “Aboriginal memories of inundation of the Australian coast dating from more than 7000 years ago”, published in Australian Geographer, argues the stories provide empirical corroboration of a postglacial sea level rise documented by marine geographers.    Some of the stories are straight factual accounts, such as those around Port Phillip Bay near Melbourne, which tell of the loss of kangaroo hunting grounds.    Others, especially older stories such as those from around Spencer Gulf in South Australia, are allegorical: an ancestral being angered by the misbehaviour of a clan punishes them by taking their country, gouging a groove with a magical kangaroo bone for the sea to swallow up the land.    “Our sense originally is that the sea level must have been creeping up very slowly and not been noticeable in an individual’s lifetime,” Reid said.    “But we’ve come to realise through conducting this research that Australia must in fact have been abuzz with news about this.    “There must have been constant inland movement, reestablishing relationships with country, negotiating with inland neighbours about encroaching onto their territory,” Reid said. “There would have been massive ramifications of this.”    The fortunes of those faced with the decision to retreat as camps, tracks and dreaming places were slowly swallowed up – especially on islands – were mixed.    Those on Rottnest and Kangaroo Islands cut and run up to 7000 years ago. Others, such as those at Flinders Island in Bass Strait, made the fateful decision to stay, and died out as the land grew arid and fresh water became scarce.    Reid said while it was impossible to prove that Indigenous oral traditions had continued unbroken over time, its contemporary features gave a clue as to why it may be the world’s most faithful and durable.    Related: We should not surrender to  climate  change | Dunya Maumoon    “Say I’m a man from central Australia, my father teaches me stories about my country,” Reid said.    “My sister’s children, my nephews and nieces, are explicitly tasked with the kin-based responsibility for ensuring I know those stories properly. They take those responsibilities seriously. At any given point in time my father is telling the stories to me and his grandkids are checking. Three generations are hearing the story at once … that’s a kind of scaffolding that can keep stories true.    “When you have three generations constantly in the know, and tasked with checking as a cultural responsibility, that creates the kind of mechanism that could explain why [Indigenous Australians] seem to have done something that hasn’t been achieved elsewhere in the world: telling stories for 10,000 years.”                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-16 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Two untamed wildfires displace 23,000 people in northern California              Related: By the numbers: a look at the California wildfires so far    Two explosive wildfires have displaced 23,000 people in northern California and threaten to wreak more devastation in rural communities, which have lost hundreds of homes.    The so-called Valley fire in Lake County raged untamed on Monday after incinerating 61,000 acres, or 95 square miles, in just two days.    Overcast weather grounded firefighting airplanes and helicopters, leaving ground crews to battle without air cover and prompting warnings of worse to come from a blaze that is just 5% contained.    “Firefighters from across California are aggressively fighting the Valley fire that has continued to spread in hot, windy conditions,” said the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).    “The fire continues to grow as firefighters work to construct fire lines, while protecting lives and property.”    The blaze has consumed 400 homes plus hundreds of other structures, and law enforcement is investigating a report of a civilian fatality, the agency said. Some 1,255 personnel were fighting the fire, it added.    Since erupting on Saturday the fire’s speed and ferocity has astonished experts, who said it moved faster than any other in California’s recent history. Sheriff Brian Martin called it the worst tragedy ever seen in Lake County, 20 miles north of Napa winelands.    People fled amid billowing smoke, smouldering telephone poles, downed power lines and fallen trees.    Mark Ghilarducci, director of Office of Emergency Services, told a news conference it drove about 13,000 from their homes over the weekend.    Another 10,000 people fled a second blaze, the so-called Butte fire about 200 miles away in the Sierra Nevada. Since flaring on 9 September it has scorched 71,000 acres and more than a hundred homes and buildings. It is 30% contained.    Four firefighters, members of a helicopter crew, were injured on Saturday amid wind gusts which reached 30mph, sending embers raining on homes. “This has been a tragic reminder to us of the dangers this drought is posing,” said Daniel Berlant, a Cal Fire spokesperson.    The injured firefighters were airlifted to a hospital burn unit and treated for second-degree burns. Berlant said their condition was stable.    The displaced have thronged evacuation centres. Those who spent Sunday night at the Napa County Fairgrounds awoke on Monday to a breakfast of eggs, bacon and doughnuts. They milled eating, walking their dogs and sifting through donations of food, clothing, shoes, diapers and dog food.    Nancy O’ Byrne was evacuated from her home in Middletown, which is reportedly half-destroyed, said her home was still standing. She said she felt “very, very, very lucky”.    Related: California drought: Sierra Nevada snowpack falls to 500-year low    Michael Alan Patrick had been at the fairgrounds since Saturday and lost everything in the blaze.    When the fire broke out, he had been sitting in a Middletown park with his friends and saw the flames coming. He said it was like looking through a tunnel.    Forecasters say Northern California weather conditions are changing as low pressure approaches the West Coast. That will mean cooling, increasing winds, higher humidity and showers, with more widespread rain Wednesday.    Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in affected areas to to free up resources.    A four-year drought has has created unprecedented tinderbox conditions. The practice of fighting fires, paradoxically, has exacerbated the risk by interrupting a natural cycle of burning which used to consume dry scrub and other fuel.    The historic nature of the drought was underlined in a study published in the journal Nature  Climate  Change on Monday which estimated that the Sierra Nevada snowpack is at its lowest level in more than 500 years.                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-08-24 *am_2015-08 *annee_2015 
Obama's Quiet Vacation Will Yield to a Noisy September      By GARDINER HARRIS            WASHINGTON -- Like April for accountants or December for flying reindeer, September in recent years has become an especially challenging month for presidents and congressional leaders.    But even by modern standards, President Obama faces a daunting list of tasks after returning to Washington on Sunday from a relatively quiet two-week vacation on Martha's Vineyard -- with legislative deadlines and visits from world leaders already penciled into his September schedule.    On the domestic front, Congress will have to pass funding legislation by the end of September to avoid shutting down the government for the second time in two years. With only 15 legislative days on the Senate calendar for the month, a brewing fight over whether to end federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and a raft of senators running for president, it could be difficult to pass even a short-term funding measure despite vows by senior Republican legislators that they will not support a shutdown.    And there are other pieces of must- and should-pass legislation, including extending authority for highway and infrastructure spending, reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank and dealing with various expiring tax provisions. Cybersecurity legislation and a movement to scale back tough federal criminal sentencing laws will also require time and attention.    "Republicans in Congress have their work cut out for them," said Jennifer Friedman, deputy White House press secretary.    Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said that work would be a lot easier if Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats were not so obstructionist.    "We have a lot to do, but we have plans to do it," Mr. Stewart said. "The president, on the other hand, will have a very difficult September because he's trying to do things despite bipartisan opposition against him, such as on the Iran deal."    Indeed, one of the most anticipated legislative battles of the year will be over whether Congress can override an expected presidential veto and reject the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the United States and five other countries.    The deadline for the first vote is Sept. 14, and if both the House and Senate reject the deal with anything close to veto-proof majorities, the Iran drama could consume much of September and even the first week of October.    While Mr. Obama has aggressively defended the Iran deal, and has gone on the offensive to woo lawmakers, he will face myriad distractions during the month.    He will have to put on a tuxedo and a wary smile for a rare state dinner and summit meeting with President Xi Jinping of China. Besides  climate  change, the two men are likely to discuss the alleged hacking of United States government personnel records by Chinese operatives, China's growing military assertiveness in the South China Sea, a worrisome increase in Chinese government repression, allegations that covert Chinese agents are harassing expatriates in the United States and renewed allegations of currency manipulation by China.    Pope Francis will arrive in Washington on Sept. 22 and visit the White House the next day, according to his schedule. The pope will deliver a speech before Congress on Sept. 24, and there is likely to be intense interest from the White House on how he chooses to address that body, which is filled with  climate  change skeptics.    Mr. Obama has made the battle against  climate  change a signature issue in his second term, one that he intends to highlight when he gives speeches in Las Vegas on Monday and in New Orleans on Thursday, and during a visit to Alaska in the first few days of September. The pope is likely to touch upon the moral dimension of  climate  change and economic inequality.    Given the agreement between Mr. Obama and the pope on such signature issues, the pope's visit with the president may pass uneventfully for the White House. Far more delicate decisions will be needed on how to handle the conclave of world leaders who are expected to arrive in New York at the end of September to attend the United Nations General Assembly.    Will Mr. Obama meet again with President Raúl Castro of Cuba after the opening of diplomatic relations between the two countries? Will he meet President Hassan Rouhani of Iran or President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, whose foreign minister said last week that Mr. Putin would "consider constructively" any request from Mr. Obama for a meeting? Presidential aides said those decisions had yet to be made.    Michael E. O'Hanlon, a foreign-policy analyst at the Brookings Institution, said that even without the budget and other issues in Congress, the visit by Mr. Xi, the Iran vote and the decisions and meetings surrounding the United Nations meeting made for a challenging month.    "The bottom line is that it will be a heck of a September, rivaled in recent years perhaps only by last September, when we had Ebola and ISIL's rise to contend with, along with the war in Ukraine and a few other matters," he said.    Then there are the political issues. The president has said he will provide a report on the Guantánamo Bay prison by September to Senator John McCain, Republican from Arizona who is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Presidential aides have said closing the prison remains a top priority for Mr. Obama, but he has faced resistance from Congress and even from some of his own appointees.    Also, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has said he will announce in September whether he will run for president, and on Sept. 16 the second Republican presidential primary debate will take place at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Then in October, there is likely to be a tough legislative fight over raising the debt ceiling, with potentially huge economic consequences if Congress fails to do so.    Mr. Obama played a lot of golf on Martha's Vineyard, and playing through these hazards on his schedule will also take considerable skill.                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-08-25 *am_2015-08 *annee_2015 
Obama Flies to the Nevada Desert to Promote Solar Energy      By GARDINER HARRIS            LAS VEGAS -- President Obama flew west into the blistering sun of this desert oasis on Monday not so much to issue a dour warning about the dangers of  climate  change -- moralizing does not become this freewheeling city -- but to speak with great hope about solar and other renewable forms of energy.    "We're here today because we believe that no challenge poses a greater threat to our future than  climate  change," Mr. Obama said. "But we're also here because we hold another belief, and that is, we are deeply optimistic about American ingenuity."    While promoting the benefits of all renewable energy, including wind power, the president focused largely on solar energy, part of an increasingly intense effort to counter global warming by instituting policies to reshape the nation's energy industry.    "I noticed you got a lot of sun around here," he said in the speech, and he noted that the "solar industry now employs twice as many Americans as mining coal."    The speech, at the National Clean Energy Summit, came as his administration announced a series of measures to encourage solar power construction, including making an additional $1 billion in loan guarantee authority available in a federal program for innovative versions of residential rooftop solar systems.    But none of the measures would have as great an impact on the solar industry as the Clean Power Plan, which requires states to cut carbon emissions by an average of 32 percent. That plan, announced this month, provides incentives for much of those reductions to come from renewable energy projects -- exactly what executives at the conference are looking to sell.    As part of his efforts on  climate  change, Mr. Obama will fly to New Orleans on Thursday to note the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and talk about how to protect cities against global warming's effects. Next week, he will become the first sitting president to visit the Arctic Circle in Alaska, and next month he will host Pope Francis at the White House to talk, in part, about the moral dimensions of the problem.    With the nation's electrical needs growing only modestly, executives in the renewable power industry are depending on electric utilities to retire their aging coal-fired power plants and replace them with renewable power sources. The administration's power plan is expected to accelerate that process.    Solar power, though, still provides less than 1 percent of the electricity generated in the United States. In 2014, renewable energy sources provided 13 percent of the nation's electricity -- about half of which came from hydroelectric dams, a third from wind and 3 percent from solar, according to federal data.    But the price of solar power dropped 78 percent from 2009 to 2014, while the price of wind power dropped 58 percent. Wind is now among the cheapest sources of power in the United States, with solar not far behind.    Mr. Obama said that Walmart, Google and Apple were among the largest purchasers of clean energy and installers of clean energy systems in the world. "For decades, we've been told that it doesn't make economic sense to switch to renewable energy," Mr. Obama said. "Today, that's no longer true."    Mr. Obama said that the nation's quick move toward renewable energy was creating "resistance from some fossil fuel interests." He mentioned Charles G. and David H. Koch of Koch Industries, among others, as people who like to promote free-market ideology, except when it comes to clean energy.    Representative Rob Bishop, Republican of Utah and the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement that Mr. Obama's energy policies would prop up noncompetitive sources of energy, raising utility prices for families and cutting economic growth.    In interviews, solar power executives emphasized that their industry -- once heavily dependent on government incentives, loans and rules -- would do fine without new government initiatives. The failure of Solyndra, a solar manufacturer that went bankrupt in 2011 despite getting a $536 million loan guarantee from the Energy Department as part of Mr. Obama's 2009 stimulus program, tainted the industry.    Still, solar power executives said the Clean Power Plan was a landmark. "To have the president of the United States acknowledging that solar can make a huge difference in  climate  change and the way the world gets energy ratifies what we're seeing," said Tom Werner, the chief executive of SunPower, a solar power utility provider based in San Jose, Calif.    Mr. Obama's new energy rules will be challenged in court by state attorneys general from across the country. But many states will adhere to the federal rules regardless of how the courts rule, analysts say. Janet McCabe, an assistant administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, said that in recent weeks she had spoken with officials from every state to explain the new rules. States that fail to develop their own plans will have one imposed on them.    "The states always prefer their own plans to federal plans imposed upon them," Ms. McCabe said, "and that's what they have turned their attention to."              Figure(s) :      PHOTO: President Obama on Monday before leaving to speak at a clean energy conference in Nevada. (PHOTOGRAPH BY ZACH GIBSON/THE NEW YORK TIMES)             

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Nuclear plant project a step closer as Osborne makes £2bn guarantee              George Osborne has underlined his determination to get the government’s nuclear energy programme moving by providing a £2bn government guarantee for the delayed Hinkley Point power plant project.    The initial backing from the government would pave the way for the construction of Britain’s first new nuclear power station for a generation, Osborne said, as he redoubled his arguments for nuclear in the face of opposition from environmental groups.    Osborne made the announcement during a five-day tour of China, where he and Amber Rudd, the secretary of state for energy and  climate  change, have been discussing Beijing’s proposed investment in the new Hinkley Point C site in Somerset.    “Nuclear power is cost competitive with other low-carbon technology and is a crucial part of our energy mix, along with new sources of power such as shale gas,” said Osborne.    “So I am delighted to announce this guarantee for Hinkley Point today and to be in China to discuss their investments in Britain’s nuclear industry.”    The Hinkley plans have been beset by problems and the plant’s developer, EDF, the French energy group, recently admitted it may be further delayed.    Amid concerns over when Chinese backers will commit investment to the plan, the project has come under intensifying criticism from the energy industry and the City. Analysts have questioned the economics of a project that, at £24.5bn, could cost as much as the combined bill for Crossrail, the London 2012 Olympics and the revamped Terminal 2 at Heathrow.    But there has been no sign of the government wavering in its commitment. EDF has already won a generous financial aid package from the government through its “contract for difference” mechanism but has yet to sign the definitive deal it needs with Beijing investors.    The Treasury said Osborne’s announcement of an initial government guarantee for the project would smooth the path to a final investment decision by EDF, supported by China General Nuclear corporation and China National Nuclear corporation.    A breakthrough is expected when the Chinese premier visits the UK next month, leaving EDF in a position to finally give the green light to the first nuclear plant to be built in the UK for 20 years.    The government hopes the construction and operation of Hinkley Point C will create thousands of jobs in Somerset and more widely in the nuclear industry across the UK, as well as boosting Britain’s energy security. The new plant is expected to produce enough energy to supply 7% of the country’s needs, powering around 6m homes, the Treasury said.    Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, said Osborne’s approval of an infrastructure guarantee was a “clear sign” of the government’s commitment to Hinkley Point C.    “It is further progress towards a final investment decision on a project which will provide reliable, affordable low-carbon electricity for decades,” he added.    Last week, three leading environmentalists who broke ranks to give their support to a new generation of nuclear plants joined together to urge the government to scrap plans for Hinkley Point C.    George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and Chris Goodall said the soaring cost of, and delays to, the Hinkley project left ministers with no option but to pour the estimated £24.5bn worth of investment into other low-carbon technologies.    Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist, Dr Doug Parr, said: “This announcement is a PR smokescreen to give the impression that this project is moving forward when it’s actually bogged down in a swamp of troubles. Hinkley hasn’t got funding or safety clearance, and everyone outside the nuclear industry and our blinkered government thinks it’s absurd, yet the Chancellor is ignoring them all to plough ahead with this overpriced, overrated, and overtime project.”                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Competition watchdog extends deadline for UK energy industry report              The Competition and Markets Authority has extended its investigation into the energy industry by six months, in the second delay to a CMA probe this month.    The regulator said it had moved the deadline from 25 December to 25 June next year because its inquiry team needs more time to wade through the responses. The CMA said the team, numbering up to 40 people, would aim to beat the new deadline by releasing its provisional proposals in January and publishing its final decision by the end of April.    Related: Watchdog's report on big six power companies flawed, say former regulators    The extension of the politically charged energy investigation follows the recent announcement of another delay to a CMA report. The watchdog backtracked on a pledge to unveil the provisional findings of its inquiry into the banking sector due this month, setting October as a new publication target.    Its caseload also includes an investigation into the private healthcare market and a review of BT’s acquisition of mobile phone operator EE. This is the first time the CMA has used the six month extension allowed for its investigations.    The regulator said in July that consumers paid about £1.2bn a year too much for domestic energy from the big six providers, including British Gas and SSE. The CMA said consumers spent too much because they did not shop around and that this was particularly true of vulnerable groups who could least afford it.    The large energy providers have always denied making excessive profits and are particularly opposed to the CMA’s suggestion that there should be a temporary price cap on bills. Indicating that consumers were not taking advantage of a new breed of lower-cost providers, the CMA said millions of householders could each save up to £160 a year by switching to a new energy supplier.    Industry sources say the CMA has been wavering on the proposed price control, which was also criticised by a group of former regulators, knowing a climbdown would be interpreted as caving in to the big six energy companies.    Extending its deadline, the CMA said it needed time to sift through the many responses it had received from energy providers, consumer groups and other interested parties. Its inquiry group then needed time to gather further evidence to come up with workable policy proposals, the regulator said.    Centrica argued in its submission that a temporary price cap would thwart the CMA’s aims because it would deter consumers from shopping around. The cap would end up becoming permanent and would stifle competition, Centrica said.    Roger Witcomb, chairman of the investigation, said: “As the most comprehensive investigation into the energy market since privatisation, this is a once in a generation opportunity to shape the future of this market for the better. It’s important that we get it right.    “This is a huge programme of work and we have concluded that we could not complete it by the original statutory deadline. We have therefore decided there are special reasons for extending the reference period which will allow us some extra time to finish the job.”    The CMA investigation was driven by the former coalition energy and  climate  change Secretary Ed Davey, amid pressure from the Labour party and the public. The Conservatives were thought to be less keen on state interventions in the market for gas and electricity.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
It’s odd that Jeremy Corbyn is considered non-conformist. He couldn’t be more British if he bled tea              Corbyn has survived his first week in opposition despite being attacked by the print media with such ferocity that I can only assume he’s been caught hacking a murdered girl’s phone. Oh, my mistake. He had his top button undone. Does he look scruffy, really? Corbyn looking like a hipster’s ghost may actually be preferable to Cameron looking like the demon that hell has appointed as its liaison officer with HSBC.    The abuse Corbyn received for not singing the national anthem says much more about his detractors than it does about him. It shows them as their 10-year-old public-school selves, where not singing the national anthem genuinely was the most shocking thing a boy could do. The Queen is the longest-serving monarch in our country’s history. Do you think she ever wants to hear that song again? My bet is she hates it so much that, as it’s being sung, she’s trying to block it out in her head by mentally singing IRA rebel songs.    Surely if the Battle of Britain was fought for anything, it was so that we wouldn’t be forced to sing songs about a German? As the Queen grows older, asking God to save her sounds increasingly desperate and macabre. Indeed, even “happy and glorious” sounds like a bit of a stretch for someone who hasn’t cracked a smile since Diana died. Now that she is 89, the song isn’t sung sarcastically exactly, but contains the same acknowledged irony as singing that Aston Villa FC are by far the greatest team the world has ever seen.    I’m sure a lot of people at that function would have rather not sung God Save the Queen, as a high proportion of them are satanists. Personally, I’d much rather see the Bare Necessities as our national anthem. It would be a churlish political leader who refused to sing that. The prime minister getting stuck on “Don’t pick the prickly pear by the paw”, and the leader of the opposition joining in to help him out – what a great country we would be then. Or maybe we should commission a new song that is just the word “sorry” in every language of the world.    It’s wonderful to see Corbyn calmly tripping everyone up. The rightwing press laughing at him for presenting the views of the public in parliament merely shows their true contempt for the opinions of their readers. Corbyn sits so still and quietly, while people in shiny suits scream at him, that you almost expect his next words to be: “And do you think you’re really angry at your father?” The sway of the press in this country is a bit like the nation being influenced by a cabal of powerful telepaths. Horned-up, racist telepaths. They are outraged that anyone seeking power would fail to conform, and the reaction to Corbyn failing to sing the anthem was like a collective shriek of: “Kneel before Zod!”    It’s odd to think that Jeremy Corbyn, of all people, is considered non-conformist. OK, his face looks like it was made in an occupational-therapy class, but he’s called Jeremy and dresses like a geography teacher – he couldn’t be more British if he bled tea. Corbyn believes in talking to military enemies. Considering the next war we wage is going to be against Mother Nature, we had probably better get used to compromise, as it’s notoriously tricky to bomb a tsunami.    The media have tried to portray Corbyn as boring, but surely a vote for him in a general election would be a vote for a bloody military coup. Hardly boring. Is it too much to ask that, amid all the hysteria, we have some analysis of what he’s actually doing? Presumably he is reading out the concerns of voters directly in PMQs to emphasise his mandate, and thus insulate himself from his most immediate threat, the parliamentary Labour party. In any case, we should probably stop portraying a career politician as some kind of ingenue unable to understand the procedures of a building he’s worked in for 32 years.    Labour MPs who sit on the benches behind Corbyn: it’s like they’re Arsenal fans who have bought scalped tickets and are sitting in the Millwall end. Of course, Corbyn does have a lot of support from MPs, it’s just that they’re all in the SNP.    I actually intend to get incredibly worked up about his not singing, as I need to distract myself from what’s really happening. Any time I see someone not singing the right song or wearing the right flower in their lapel, I will scream “Traitor!”, as otherwise I will be forced to dwell on the projections that mean our  climate  is warming rapidly. I will sing my national song as my habitat burns and whole species become extinct; I will sing it as gargantuan boiling waves flecked with rubble and major public buildings pursue me through the streets. I will sing it as I light a pyre of garbage to warn my fellow survivors that our enemies the Crabmen have begun their final sideways march out of the sea. I will sing my national song in a rich baritone in one of humankind’s final mountaintop redoubts. Even when there is none left to hear but the carrion birds that circle me daily, I will sing.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Worldpay and Hastings under fire over all-male boards              Two companies heading towards flotations in London worth billions of pounds face pressure over a lack of female representation on their boards following criticism from the peer behind a drive to improve the gender balance in boardrooms.    Lord Davies, who oversaw the coalition government’s initiative to increase the participation of women on boards, said investors should “take into account” the all-male boards of insurer Hastings and payment processing company Worldpay before deciding whether to back the floats.    Neither Hastings, which is preparing for a £1.5bn flotation, nor Worldpay, which could be valued at £3.5bn when it floats, have any female representation at the highest level. This is despite corporate governance guidelines suggesting they select directors from the widest possible pool of talent.    Davies described the situation as disappointing and said he was sure investors would take it into account when thinking of whether to invest or not.    The peer said he was surprised that shareholders in Hastings and Worldpay had not raised the women issue as one of major concern. Hastings is controlled by Goldman Sachs and the insurance entrepreneur Neil Utley and other founders, while private equity firms Bain Capital and Advent control Worldpay.    “It’s very disappointing in the current  climate  ,” said Davies. Women now hold 23.5% of directorships in the FTSE 100 stock market index, close to the Davies target of 25%. “We have made so much progress and have gone from a point where 21 FTSE 100 companies had no women on their board to none, showing that self-regulation can work,” he added.    Referring to the lack of a female presence on the Hastings and Worldpay boards, Katushka Giltsoff of the Miles Partnership, an executive search group, said: “When you see things like this it makes you put your hands up in the air and say how nothing has changed.”    She added: “There are plenty of women who could have stepped onto an insurance company’s board. There needs to be a dialogue going so that investment bankers challenge the status quo. “    Female boardroom representation in FTSE 100 companies may is increasing but it is far lower in companies that are joining the stock market. According to data collected by Financial News, only 11.5% of the directors of companies floated in London in 2013 were women. The figure nudged up, but only slightly, to 13.6% in 2014.    Gay Collins, a founder member of the steering committee the 30% Club, which aims to increase representation of women on UK boards to at least 30%, said: “You’d have thought that a flotation would be the perfect time to get the board structure fit for purpose for the future, but the reality is that it’s often done in a rush, without using headhunters and through contacts of the advisers or the company.”    Hastings’s chief executive Gary Hoffman, the former chief executive of Northern Rock, said he tried hard to have as diverse a board as possible. “We interviewed quite a few women, ones who were plc or industry ready, but the ones we wanted were either too busy or conflicted. We could easily have ticked all the boxes to avoid press and corporate governance criticism but we’re still interviewing and we might get somebody quite soon.”    Hoffman, who has worked for Barclays and Northern Rock, said he has always been a diversity champion, whether of gender or ethnicity.    He has pledged that within 12 months the company will be compliant with the corporate governance code, having a higher proportion of independent directors as well as at least one woman on board.    One advisor on the Hastings float, which is set to go ahead in the next few weeks, said he had raised the issue of female representation. “I knew this would be an issue,” he said.    The group points out that two female board members, Clare Ryder and Selina Sagayam, already sit on the company’s subsidiary board. Some well-known business-women, including Kathleen O’Donovan, a director of a number of companies, and Anne Godbehere, a director at Prudential, were sounded out for board positions with Hastings but turned them down.    Goldman sources said that the Wall Street bank’s private equity arm, which holds the Hastings investment, was committed to having women on the company’s board and that the process to do this had started.    Some say that the lack of priority given to boardroom gender diversity in companies heading for the stock market is letting down the considerable progress among companies that are already listed.    The expectation at Worldpay, which decided on Friday to press ahead with aflotation, is that it will hire further non-executive directors and will aim to add female representation to its board within weeks. “We’re in advanced discussions with a female candidate and hope to have her on board by the time the prospectus is filed,” one source said.    Giltsoff said that women still fared badly in UK boardrooms outside the FTSE 100.    “If you drop below the FTSE 100 a lot of companies are resistant to change and in some FTSE 250 companies there is blatant sexism.” She said the 30% club had struggled to get support from the chairs of a number of FTSE 250 companies.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
The Guardian view on Hinkley Point C: overcomplicated, overpriced and overdue              The case for decarbonising power supplies in order to limit  climate  change is now beyond challenge. The best way of doing it is as contentious as ever. Every option – carbon capture and storage to reduce coal-fired power stations’ emissions, expanding wind and solar power, developing other renewables such as tidal power, cutting consumption and bringing new nuclear capacity on stream – each has its own daunting problems, although some look a lot cheaper to fix than others. In China this morning the chancellor, in his role as prime-minister-in-waiting, dangled yet another carrot in front of nervous investors, promising a further £2bn of credit guarantees for investment in EDF’s new European pressurised reactor at Hinkley Point C in Somerset. Two-thirds of the estimated £24bn cost of building the power station is now covered by government guarantees, even though EDF has agreed a “strike” price – what it will be paid for its electricity – that will make it the most expensive in the world while earning the company, when fully on stream, an estimated annual profit of £5bn.    The need for a non-polluting, reliable source of energy has changed attitudes to nuclear power. It is now accepted, at least by some ex-critics, as the least bad option in a world where a fast-growing population and the multiplication of energy-hungry tech devices will hugely increase demand for the foreseeable future. That was why the last Labour government gave the go-ahead to third-generation nuclear power at Hinkley, and why neither the coalition nor this Conservative government imagine cancellation is an option. Yet it is looking more and more like a bum deal. Overpriced, overcomplicated and overdue, as the UK’s three most prominent green converts to nuclear energy, George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and Chris Goodall, argued last Friday when they wrote an open letter calling for the project to be abandoned and for nuclear generation to be concentrated on small modular reactors, cheaper, factory-made and – a bonus – highly suitable for export to developing countries.    Hinkley C is expensive because it is very big and very complex. For more than a decade, EDF, the state-owned French energy giant, has been building two similar reactors, one in France and one in Finland, both of which are running late and neither of which has generated so much as a watt of electricity. EDF won the Hinkley contract partly because of the Treasury obsession with not spending public money, but it is struggling to raise the private finance. That is one reason why George Osborne is buttering up the Chinese with potentially costly blandishments. For a while, there was resignation about the project’s cost. It was a price that had to be paid to keep the lights on and the tablets charging. But in the past few years, it has looked less and less like the next generation in clean energy and more and more like a rerun of the Sizewell B debacle, when the government of the day found itself locked into an outdated technology.    Meanwhile, renewables are rapidly proving more efficient than predicted – that’s the official explanation for withdrawing subsidies – and their costs are falling. They are still a long way from offering a real alternative to established nuclear power. But the danger is that the cost of making Hinkley C work will have a perverse effect, slowing the development of green alternatives. Germany has been here already. In 2011, Angela Merkel, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster reversed her planned extension of the life of nuclear capacity. Instead, it will be phased out entirely by 2022 (shortly before Hinkley C might finally come online). The move is not cheap, it has led to more reliance on coal, and individual renewable projects provoke strong local opposition. But it has also led to a doubling of energy efficiency. One windy day last July, 80% of Germany electricity came from renewables. As the ad says, Vorsprung durch Technik : forward through technology.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Zafar Ansari’s fate for England’s tour against Pakistan down to hand specialist              Zafar Ansari will have a further appointment with a hand specialist on Wednesday before a decision is made over his place in England’s touring party for next month’s Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.    The uncapped spin-bowling all-rounder sustained an open dislocation of his left thumb when playing for Surrey against Lancashire at Old Trafford last Tuesday and is still waiting to find out whether the injury needs an operation that would rule him out of the tour.    Even if surgery is not required, the rehabilitation time may yet force England into withdrawing the 23-year-old from their plans, with the squad due to fly to the UAE on 30 September before the first of two warm-up fixtures with Pakistan A in Sharjah five days later.    Related: England name Zafar Ansari in squad to play Pakistan – then injury strikes    The options for a replacement appear limited, with Lancashire’s Simon Kerrigan the only other English spinner to pass 40 championship wickets this season. The Surrey captain, Gareth Batty, has taken 38, including a hat-trick to confirm his side’s promotion from Division Two, although he turns 38 on the first day of the first Test in Abu Dhabi and has not played international cricket for six years.    Seven of England’s winter Test squad will prepare for the tour by playing for their counties in the final round of championship fixtures that begin on Tuesday, with the Test captain Alastair Cook in line to face Jimmy Anderson when Essex host Lancashire at Chelmsford.    Stuart Broad is in the Nottinghamshire squad who host relegation-threatened Hampshire at Trent Bridge, while Ian Bell will play for Warwickshire at Somerset. Jonny Bairstow, Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid all return for the champions, Yorkshire, against Sussex at Headingley.    There is no place for Eoin Morgan in the Middlesex squad who travel to play the already-relegated Worcestershire because of the concussion he sustained in England’s fifth one-day international against Australia on 13 September. While the left-hander is understood to be feeling better, he reported symptoms within a week of the fixture and was therefore made unavailable.    Despite not featuring in England’s Test plans, Morgan is likely to find himself the recipient of an England central contract, with the list of players to be offered deals for the 2015-16 period set to be signed off at Tuesday’s ECB board meeting.    Andrew Strauss, the director of England cricket, has stated his intention to raise the standing of international limited-overs cricket and while central contracts run along the lines of the Test squad, there is a strong case for Morgan, the one-day and Twenty20 captain, to be included.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Filthy air and foul weather              Too much pollution makes us cough and wheeze, but did you know that it can also change our weather? In July 2013 Beichuan County, a mountainous region in southwest China, was devastated by a catastrophic flood, with 94cm of rain falling in just two days. It was the worst flood the region has seen in over five decades. Nineteen people lost their lives and the city of Qushan was submerged under 7m of water.    A model of this extreme weather event shows that it was driven by excessive pollution in the neighbouring Sichuan basin. Running the model first with clean air and then with the choking Sichuan haze, scientists found that the heavy air pollution increased rainfall over the mountainous region by as much as 60% in July 2013.    Related: Pollutionwatch: The world's dirtiest cities    In this case the pollution was absorbing solar radiation and making the atmosphere above the Sichuan basin more stable, preventing moist air from falling as rain. “The pollution is redistributing the precipitation from large areas of the plains to a narrow area at the foothills, which results in the heavy flooding,” says Daniel Rosenfeld from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, whose findings were published in Geophysical Research Letters.    Meanwhile, another study in the same journal has shown that the swarm of 120 tornadoes that swept the southeastern US in April 2011, killing 313 people, was prompted by extensive biomass burning in central America, which changed cloud structure and increased the chances of tornado formation.    Pollution modified weather is becoming more common everywhere, but the trend could be quickly reversed if we cleaned up our skies.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-21 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
New homes for habitats – our new deal with the newts              With their jagged crests, male great crested newts can look like miniature dragons in breeding season – even though they are only 15cm long – and this rare amphibian is the stuff of monstrous legend in the building trade, a legally protected beast whose presence in any puddle of water halts all grand designs.    Many an urban myth has people dropping great crested newts on to wasteland to thwart construction projects. But the amphibian’s status as the nimby’s best friend may be coming to an end.    Natural England, the government’s conservation watchdog, is embarking on a great crested newt DNA survey in Woking and trialling a new approach to conserving them. Instead of automatically stopping all developments while individual newts are captured and relocated, the local council will use the survey information to protect key great crested newt populations and create better-placed newt habitats, which will compensate for less significant populations lost to development. If successful, the trial – welcomed by builders and cautiously supported by conservation groups – will be rolled out nationwide.    The badger cull has made me deeply suspicious of government “pilots” but I had a fascinating chat recently with the renowned naturalist Chris Baines, who wants developers and conservationists to work together more closely. This more pragmatic approach to conserving the great crested newt might help. If, for instance, great crested newts are no longer feared as an expensive obstacle to construction, developers might allow the creation of temporary nature reserves on “land banks” that are often left idle for years waiting for development opportunities. Wildlife is quickly adaptable and temporary nature reserves are a fine idea, as long as rare species are offered permanent protection too.    Football takes baby steps    At 10.30pm on Saturday, Norwich City captain Russell Martin received a call from his wife, Jasmine: she had gone into labour, a week early, for their third child. The footballer was in Liverpool, preparing for Norwich’s Premier League match the following day. So he climbed into his car and, with his club’s “player liaison” sharing the driving, returned to Norwich to be with Jasmine as she laboured through the night.    At 9.30am on Sunday, their son was born. At 10.30am, the sleep-bereft Martin jumped on a plane with Norwich majority shareholder Delia Smith, arriving back in Liverpool just in time for the match. And who should score Norwich’s equalising goal but Martin? He celebrated, of course, by cradling his arms in the style popularised by the Brazilian striker Bebeto in the 1994 World Cup.    In Bebeto’s day, footballers played on regardless. Now clubs help them attend births and, it appears, give them a choice about whether to play or not. (Martin’s manager said his appearance was up to him ; Martin spoke of the management “being keen” that he play.) The pressure on working mothers to “have it all” is increasingly felt by working fathers too. Still, we should celebrate the fact that many dads are much more involved in family life than a generation ago.    Zoo’s killer quandary    Any story of a wild animal in a zoo that kills someone is usually accompanied by another terse sentence: “The animal was put down.” But Hamilton zoo, in New Zealand, has announced that a male Sumatran tiger that killed Samantha Kudeweh, an experienced keeperinside its enclosure, will not be euthanised. It is not yet known what Kudeweh’s family thinks of this, but our tendency to prescribe capital punishment for animals acting according to their instincts while forced to live in a profoundly unnatural place is ethically troubling. Might Hamilton zoo’s approach be the start of a less vindictive response to such tragedies?                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-03 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Obama, Visiting Arctic, Will Pledge Aid to Alaskans Hit by  Climate  Change      By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS            ANCHORAGE -- President Obama on Wednesday will pledge to step up government aid for Arctic communities whose shorelines and infrastructure are crumbling as warming seas melt their foundations, intensifying his administration's effort to cope with the effects of  climate  change where they are being felt most acutely.    Venturing north of the Arctic Circle to Kotzebue, where he will become the first sitting president to visit Arctic Alaska, Mr. Obama will announce federal grant programs to help villages there cope with coastal erosion and high energy costs, and, in some extreme cases, relocate altogether, the White House said.    "In Arctic Alaska, villages are being damaged by powerful storm surges, which, once held at bay by sea ice, are battering the barrier islands where those villages sit," the White House said in a statement describing the programs. "Alaska Native traditions that have set the rhythm of life in Alaska for thousands of years are being upended by decreasing sea-ice cover and changing seasonal patterns."    The announcements came as Mr. Obama prepared to wrap up a three-day trip to Alaska aimed at raising public awareness about  climate  change by highlighting its effects in an area where they are manifested most quickly and profoundly. In a speech to an Arctic conference on Monday, the president called for urgent action to reverse the trend, repeatedly saying that the United States and other nations were not acting swiftly enough on a problem that is growing exponentially.    On Tuesday in Kenai Fjords National Park, Mr. Obama hiked to Exit Glacier -- which has receded more than a mile over the past 200 years, but has hastened considerably in recent decades -- to bear witness to the change. He called the receding glacier "a signpost" of the impact of the planet's warming, and he said he wanted his grandchildren to be able to see it one day.    But on Wednesday, he is set to travel to a place where the issue is an everyday crisis. Kotzebue built a sea wall in 2012 to deal with the storm surges brought on by the loss of sea ice, and it sits near other villages that have been damaged by soil erosion induced by the disappearance of permafrost, which can cause sinkholes and other damage. Some residents have proposed moving their entire communities inland.    Mr. Obama is scheduled to announce that the Denali Commission, the federal agency that coordinates government assistance to communities in Alaska, would oversee short- and long-term programs to safeguard and repair the coastal villages, including "voluntary relocation efforts, where appropriate."    The assistance package will include new grant programs from the Agriculture Department and the Environmental Protection Agency for water and waste projects in vulnerable Alaskan villages. In addition, the White House said, the Energy Department will announce initiatives to help remote Alaskan communities and native tribes develop clean-energy programs to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. The Denali Commission also plans to award $15.5 million in grants to upgrade power systems in rural parts of the state.    The administration also plans to release new data and mapping tools to track  climate  change and help communities prepare for it.    Follow The New York Times's politics and Washington coverage on Facebookand Twitter, and sign up for the First Draft politics newsletter.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-02 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Shell gets final clearance to begin drilling for oil in the Arctic              The Obama administration has granted final approval for Shell’s Arctic drilling programme, clearing the way for the company to restart its stuttering search for northern oil and drawing criticism from presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton.    Shell has been waiting since the beginning of August for the arrival of a key safety vessel, the Fennica, after it was damaged en route to the Chukchi sea. Arctic safety standards forbid drilling deep enough to hit oil without the Fennica, which carries a device designed to control a blowout.    The director of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Brian Salerno said the arrival of the safety vessel meant the company was now compliant with “the highest safety, environmental protection, and emergency response standards”.    A Shell spokeswoman said the company was pushing ahead with its delayed programme and the Polar Pioneer rig was making progress drilling into “hydrocarbon bearing zones” of the Arctic Ocean bedrock.    “We remain committed to operating in a safe, environmentally responsible manner and look forward to evaluating what could potentially become a national energy resource base,” she said.    Related: Ann Pickard: the little-known executive leading Shell's gamble on Arctic oil    Salerno said the BSEE would “continue to monitor their work around the clock to ensure the utmost safety and environmental stewardship”.    Shell’s Burger Prospect is 70 miles (112 km) off the Alaskan coast. Environmentalists and observers have raised concerns that if a large spill occurs in the fragile Arctic environment, little, if any oil will be recovered. Cold water does not support the micro-organisms that broke oil down after the massive BP Macondo spill in the warmer Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Should oil become trapped under the sea ice that covers the area for the majority of the year, experts believe the possibility it will be cleaned up is remote.    Pat Pourchot, who was the US Department of Interior’s special assistant for Alaska affairs until February this year, told the Guardian last week: “It’s really tough to talk about effective clean up. I don’t think anybody should have illusions. Clean up will be extremely modest.”    The frontrunner to succeed Barack Obama as leader of the Democrats, Hilary Clinton, broke with the president on Tuesday saying that Shell’s programme was too big a gamble.    “The Arctic is a unique treasure,” she tweeted in response to the BSEE approval. “Given what we know, it’s not worth the risk of drilling.”    The comment confirms the “doubts” Clinton expressed last month and raises the possibility that a Clinton White House would refuse permission for Shell to drill even if it confirms its suspicion that the US Arctic holds vast oil reserves.    Obama has placed action on  climate  change at the centre of his presidential legacy. Earlier this month he implemented sweeping laws to curb power plant emissions and last week announced a trip to the Alaskan Arctic to visit  climate  affected communities.    But Friends of the Earth  climate  campaigner Marissa Knodel said: “When president Obama visits the Arctic this month, he must face the communities he is sacrificing to Shell’s profits.”    Greenpeace USA executive director Annie Leonard said: “The president cannot have it both ways. Announcing a tour of Alaska to highlight  climate  change days before giving Shell the final approval to drill in the Arctic ocean is deeply hypocritical.”    Greenpeace have campaigned strongly for the Obama administration to refuse permission for Shell to explore for oil in the Arctic. In July, protesters from the organisation rappelled from a bridge in Portland and delayed the passage of the Fennica from the dry dock where it had been repaired.    The US Geological Society has estimated it may hold 13% of the world’s undiscovered reserves. Few companies have explored the area with any success and recent years have seen a number of large companies pull out of the region. Last week, former BP-chief John Browne said Shell’s Arctic programme was “risky”.    Shell has spent $7bn (£4.5bn) to date on its bid to prove these resources exist. The Anglo-Dutch giant has been in a rebuilding phase since its disastrous drilling season in 2012. A series of poor decisions and operational lapses ended with one of its rigs, the Kulluk, washed ashore on a remote Alaskan beach. The 2015 season is the first time Shell has returned to continue its exploration.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-03 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Activists plan oil protest at British Museum              Campaigners against oil firms sponsoring UK arts groups are to stage an all-day protest festival at the British Museum in what they claim will be their most ambitious intervention to date.    More than a dozen campaign groups are expected to converge on the museum on 13 September for “stunts, performances and creative interventions”.    Arts organisations have become used to protests over recent years but these normally arrive unannounced, without prior publicity. This time there is notice. Danny Chivers, from the group BP or not BP, part of the Art Not Oil coalition, said: “The idea is to reach out beyond the immediate coalition and get a lot of different groups on board. We are going to show the breadth of the opposition.”    The British Museum has been chosen as the venue as it was there, in December 2011, that directors of four of the biggest arts organisations – the British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate and Royal Opera House – held a press conference announcing a five-year sponsorship deal worth £10m. It was meant as a show of solidarity with BP and a stand against campaigners who argued that oil companies should be dropped as sponsors.    The sponsorship deal, hailed by BP as “one of the most significant long-term corporate investments in UK arts and culture,” is due to end in 2017, one reason for the ratcheting up of the campaign.    Chivers said: “Can you imagine? If the institutions did renew, they would be sponsored by fossil fuel companies into the 2020s when  climate  scientists are telling us that we need to be transitioning away from fossil fuels. The idea that they would still be having these kind of partnership deals in the 2020s is pretty extraordinary, especially when you see how little money BP gives.”    All four institutions vigorously defend the sponsorship and reject claims that the figures are small. Freedom of information requests last year showed that the Tate, between 1990-2006, received amounts from BP of between £150,000 and £330,000 – with an average of £224,000 a year.    This year Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, asked: “What would you want companies to do with their profits? Do you want them to spend them in a way that benefits the public or not?”    Sir Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate, said BP’s money represented about 20% of Tate Britain’s sponsorship income.    The Art Not Oil coalition includes groups such as BP Out of Opera, and Liberate Tate, which in June occupied Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall overnight, writing words of protest on the floor in charcoal. BP or not BP, a kind of rebel theatre group, have focused mainly on the British Museum, staging a number of protests , the most recent being a three-hour “performance occupation” at the museum’s Indigenous Australia exhibition in July.    The plan on the 13 September is to have a number of stunts and performances culminating in a flashmob performance at 3pm, for which they need participation by the public. One reason for going public early is to encourage more people to turn up and lend support.    Chivers said they did not expect any security issues. “It is space open to the public and yes, of course, we can be searched as we go in. But we are not going to bring anything to cause any harm or damage, we’re quite happy to be searched. We are people who are gallery goers and museum visitors, we care about arts and culture. We will be visitors, but visitors with something to say.”    He also said that galleries found it difficult to intervene in the protests because of the number of visitors agreeing with the demonstrations.    Chivers said  climate  action groups and faith groups were also expected to take part. Some of the other confirmed participants were Dharma Action Network for  Climate  Engagement, Platform, Divest London, Stop the Arms Fair, the London Quakers, and London Rising Tide.    In a statement the British Museum said income generated through corporate sponsorships was vital. “  ?  BP has, for many years, made a significant contribution to the arts and cultural life of this country including support for the Royal Opera House since 1988, the BP Portrait Award since 1990, Tate since 1990, the British Museum since 1996 and the Royal Shakespeare Company since 2012.    “?We are grateful to BP for their long-term commitment, sharing the vision that our artistic programmes should be made available to the widest possible audience. The British Museum respects the right to peaceful protest on site, providing there is no risk to visitors or the collection.”                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-02 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Eggborough power station to close              The Department of Energy and  Climate  Change (DECC) has insisted there is no danger of the country’s lights going out after the Czech owners of one of Britain’s biggest power stations announced its closure.    Officials tried to reassure businesses and the public after they learned they would lose the 2,000 megawatts from the Eggborough plant in North Yorkshire at a time when spare power capacity at peak times is set to reach zero.    Eggborough’s owners, Energetický a Prumyslový Holding (EPH), had previously said it would close in six months’ time. The company also said there would be 240 redundancies at the coal-burning facility, which provides 4% of the UK’s electricity, or enough power for two million homes.    “This is obviously disappointing news for everyone connected with Eggborough, but people can be assured that energy security will be unaffected,” a DECC spokesman said.    “The government takes security of supply very seriously and has worked with National Grid to put in place an effective plan which is flexible enough to adapt to individual plant closures,” he said.    EPH said it was forced to act because the 51-year-old plant would need £200m of additional funding to keep firing for another three years. It said its application for government subsidies to keep Eggborough open had been turned down.    Neil O’Hara, the plant’s chief executive, said he was saddened at the prospect of generation coming to an end.    “Eggborough Power could have a significant part to play in ensuring security of supply in the UK electricity market, particularly while there remains great uncertainty around new-build gas-fired generation.    “We intend to conduct a thorough consultation process with our employees and their representatives while we continue to consider all options available to us, including seeking to engage with government bodies.”    In a separate move, the Treasury is being forced to defend the way it closed off parts of the  climate  change levy (CCL) in court. It gave the energy companies affected only 24 days’ notice.    Drax, the owner of another large, partly coal-fired power station in North Yorkshire, and the renewable power firm Infinis are seeking a judicial review of the CCL decision unveiled in George Osborne’s July statement.    Drax is generating a growing amount of energy by burning biomass pellets and estimates that the loss of CCL revenue will cut its core earnings by £30m this year and £60 million 12 months later.    CCL is a tax on UK business energy use intended to reduce carbon emissions and promote energy from renewable sources. It was implemented in 2001 and is collected from businesses by energy suppliers through their bills.    Customers were able to claim an exemption from the CCL if they bought electricity from certain renewable energy sources.    Critics have accused the government of endangering the future of renewable power.                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-17 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
The California Wildfires: Trying to Take Control      By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA            Wildfires continued to simmer in bone-dry acres in Northern California on Wednesday, but firefighters said they were gaining control in some areas. The state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire, estimated Wednesday that the Valley Fire, which had torn through more than 67,000 acres in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties, was about 30 percent contained, with 585 homes destroyed.    Fernando Herrera, a Cal Fire spokesman, said it might be weeks before the Valley Fire was under control. The area is still not officially open for evacuees to return. "Some people sneak in; some stayed, and some know back ways in; you can't control that," Mr. Herrera told The Associated Press.    The agency reported that evacuation orders in Amador County from the Butte Fire had been lifted. Cal Fire said Wednesday that the Butte fire had burned almost 72,000 acres and was 40 percent contained; it reported that 233 residences had been destroyed.    In Fresno County, the authorities lifted evacuation orders for dozens of residents who were forced to flee the Lake Fire, which had charred 217 square miles; it was declared 40 percent contained Tuesday, officials said. The fire moved away from the Sierra Nevada's Giant Sequoia trees, some of which are 3,000 years old, The A.P. reported.    Officials were reporting one death and four injuries, all to firefighters. Here are answers to some questions about the developments:    Q. How much damage has there been so far from these fires?    A. In the past few days up to 1,000 buildings were destroyed, officials estimate, though the real number will not be known for a while. About 13,000 people were evacuated; most of them stayed with friends and family, but 2,700 went to evacuation centers. Some evacuees began to return home Tuesday.    Q. So just how bad are the fires?    A. Around 700,000 acres have burned this year in California, compared with about 500,000 in a typical year, and the fire season is nowhere near over. Right now, 15,000 people are deployed fighting wildfires across the state. But what has officials on edge is less the total acreage than how readily new fires start, and how quickly -- and unpredictably -- they grow. "We've had fires in California since the beginning of time," said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the governor's Office of Emergency Services, "but what we're seeing now that's different is the extreme rapid spread of the fires, and the extreme volatility."    Q. Why is it this bad?    A. Two words: Drought and heat. Vegetation in California, from the mesquite scrub in the desert to the tall pines in the Sierra Nevada, is as dry as kindling after a yearslong drought, the worst in the state's recorded history. So fire catches more easily, spreads faster, and carries farther on the wind.    The state's major reservoirs hold less than half as much water as they typically would at this time of year, many wells have run dry, and underground aquifers are so depleted that in some places, the ground has been sinking as much as two inches per month.    Q. With such a severe drought, do firefighters have enough water to do their work?    A. Yes, but it requires some creativity. Ordinarily, pumper trucks and helicopters with water buckets can tap into the streams, lakes and reservoirs closest to the flames. But in many places, those sources are now too low to rely on. Firefighters are making more use of tanker trucks and big, portable plastic water basins to do what is known as "water shuttling" -- moving water close to the fires. And helicopter pilots are often having to travel farther to find places to dip their buckets.    Q. How bad have the drought and heat been?    A. Last year was the hottest on record in California, and this has been a hot summer. But even the hottest weather would not have created the extreme fire danger the state is seeing if there had been enough rainfall. California is in the fourth year of a severe drought. One important indicator of just how severe it is came this spring, when state scientists measured the Sierra snowpack at 5 percent of normal -- that is not a misprint -- the lowest ever recorded.    Q. But haven't people been conserving a lot of water?    A. Yes, and that spells something of a reprieve for the people and farms that use water, but it doesn't water all those millions of acres of wild land. Only nature does that.    Q. Is this about global warming?    A. The governor says it is.  Climate  scientists say the clearest link is that a warmer  climate  causes more evaporation, so that even when rain and snow do fall, less stays on -- and in -- the ground and the plants. California has had extreme swings between dry years and wetter ones in the past, but the increasing heat of recent years is something new.    Q. The areas burning are mostly rural, with ranches, farms and riding stables. So what has become of all that livestock, not to mention household pets?    A. "We actually have a very elaborate, well-coordinated system of volunteers and organizations that take in farm animals and domestic pets," Mr. Ghilarducci said, though most people who flee take their pets with them. "Special shelters are set up, and there's a whole veterinary team that goes in to support that."                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-08-30 *am_2015-08 *annee_2015 
Slashing household solar subsides will kill off industry, government told              The government wants to slash by 87% subsidies for householders who install solar panels on their rooftops, in a move that renewable energy experts warn could kill off a promising industry.    The potential reductions in the level of feed-in tariff (FIT), contained in a long-awaited consultation document released by the Department of Energy  &    Climate  Change (Decc), and are far larger than expected.    The assault on solar power comes after ministerial decisions to remove financial aid from new onshore wind farms and slash home energy efficiency measures. There is even speculation that Decc could be wound up as a standalone department.    From 1 January, ministers are proposing reducing the feed-in tariff for smaller scale solar installations from 12.47p per kilowatt hour to 1.63p with large standalone units eligible for subsidies of 1.03p per kWh, compared with 4.28p today.    The government has blamed concerns that the £7.6bn budget for renewables will be drastically overspent, and argues that solar and onshore wind should be able to largely support themselves.    Related: The government’s efforts to kill off the solar industry and lead us to fracking hell | Letters    “We are taking urgent action to get a grip of this overspend and protect hardworking bill payers. Our support has driven down the cost of renewable energy significantly,” said a Decc spokeswoman. “As costs continue to fall and we move towards sustainable electricity investment, it becomes easier for parts of the renewables industry to survive without subsidies.”    But Decc documents include admissions that the proposed cuts in the solar tariff could lead to many fewer installations.    “There is a risk that these changes – combined with the separate consultation proposals to remove pre-accreditation – may result in significantly reduced rates of deployment,” it says in an impact assessment.    The Solar Trade Association reacted angrily to the move. “We regret that proposals to suddenly cut tariffs combined with the threat of closure of the scheme next January will spark a massive market rush,” said Mike Landy, its head of policy.    “This is the antithesis of a sensible policy for achieving better public value for money while safeguarding the British solar industry.”    Colin Calder, chief executive of a solar supply firm PassivSystems, put it more strongly, saying: “It is extremely disappointing to see the government once more targeting the rooftop solar PV [photovoltaics] market with tariff changes that are so extreme they will destroy an entire industry overnight, putting thousands of jobs and many businesses at risk.”    Juliet Davenport, chief executive of leading green power supplier Good Energy, hoped ministers would change their minds. “The feed-in tariff has transformed the way the UK generates its power over the last three years, with over 21% of the UK’s power coming from renewables in the early part of 2015, and over 700,000 homes generating their own power,” she said.    Environmental campaigners at Friends of the Earth said the move further undermined David Cameron’s credibility on tackling  climate  change in the runup to key talks in Paris later this year.    “These absurd solar cuts will send UK energy policy massively in the wrong direction and prevent almost a million homes, schools and hospitals from plugging in to clean, renewable energy,” said Alasdair Cameron at Friends of the Earth.    Samir Brikho, chief executive of engineering group Amec Foster Wheeler, warned that constant changes of policy were undermining confidence of the supply sector. “Uncertainty in the market is not helpful when you are trying to create a stable business,” he said.    But the government consultation, which is open to comments until 23 October, received support from the EEF manufacturers federation which has long expressed concern about high energy prices and the expense of aid going to renewable energy.    “With the costs of government energy policy surpassing previous projections and the … budget already looking like it’s been maxed out, government is right to be getting to grips with the issue,” said EEF’s Richard Warren.                 

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-08-24 *am_2015-08 *annee_2015 
Energy department faces axe in latest cuts      By Steven Swinford            THE Department of Energy and  Climate  Change could be abolished under plans being considered by the Treasury and senior civil servants, a former minister has said.    Greg Barker, who until last year was the minister for  climate  change, said he was "sure" that plans to scrap the department were being considered as part of government plans to downsize Whitehall. Tory MPs have called for the department to be scrapped and its responsibilities moved to the Department for Environment and the Treasury.    The Government is preparing to make cuts of up to 40 per cent to unprotected departments.    Mr Barker told BBC Radio 4's The World at One: "These cuts have got to be made but getting rid of Decc would send a catastrophic signal. Abroad we are going to see the Paris  climate  conference this year. It would send totally the wrong message."                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-12 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
The turmoil of today's world: leading writers respond to the refugee crisis              Pankaj Mishra    “History,” Emil Cioran once wrote, “is irony on the move.” It speeded up dramatically last week as Germany emerged as the moral conscience of Europe 70 years after the defeat of nazism. Its vanquishers then have now been reduced to describing the victims of war and persecution as a “swarm”, and vowing, in a worn imperial reflex, to bring “peace and stability” to the Middle East through more violence. Meanwhile, Hungary, which in 1989 precipitated the fall of communism and now hosts a major fascist and antisemitic movement, proclaimed its desire to keep Europe Christian.    What an extraordinary reversal of reputations and historical verdicts this is. But then it is hard to measure history’s velocity, direction and tone if it is treated as no more than a stimulus to nationalist onanism. Take for instance, the solemn headlines last week (“Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since 1945”), which betrayed an acute amnesia about events both after and before 1945. For the refugee, far from being a faceless habitué of the Levant, is the central figure of modern European history, both defining and exposing the limits of national sovereignty.    Nationalism, or what Rabindranath Tagore called “organised selfishness”, unleashed the world’s first mass phenomenon of refugees in the early 20th century. The collapse of the Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires rendered millions of people stateless: White Russians; Armenians; Bulgarians; Greeks; Germans; Hungarians and Romanians. In 1938, nearly half a million republicans fled the Spanish civil war to France, which was then expelling hundreds of thousands of Algerians and Poles. Systemic antisemitism had degraded Jews to second-class citizenship well before the rise of nazism, notably in Hungary, Europe’s doughty defender today against Muslim hordes. Hitler’s ascent forced hundreds of thousands of Jews to flee Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.    Many then found their escape routes blocked by west European and American antisemitism. “What is it,” a despairing Joseph Roth wrote in  The Wandering Jews  , “that allows European states to go spreading civilisation and ethics in foreign parts but not at home?” This penniless refugee died in 1939, mercifully before his warning was vindicated: that “centuries of civilisation are no guarantee that a European people, by some ghastly curse of fate, will not revert to barbarism”.    Even the revelation in 1945 of monstrous crimes against Jews did not relieve the ordeal of their survivors. Battered by antisemitism (Poland hosted a pogrom as late as 1946), Jewish refugees multiplied until their traditional tormentors decided to make Palestinian Arabs pay the price for European brutality and callousness. But the large majority of post-1945 refugees were German, up to 14 million, forcibly transferred by the war’s victors from eastern Europe to Germany. An estimated 2 million died en route in the largest such population movement in European history. It is no exaggeration to say that this unpunished, indeed barely recorded, crime of the 20th century motivates German munificence to Syrian refugees today just as much as it made Germany the largest recipient of refugees from the Balkan wars in the 1990s.    The big-hearted response of the British public to the Syrian refugee crisis shows just how far the UK’s political class and media lag behind history’s ironic moves. In the mainstream Anglo-American version, modern history has appeared as essentially a conflict between virtuous liberal democracy and the evil “isms” of nazism and communism. Much of the complex story of western Europe and the US, including their complicity with such brutish “isms” as imperialism and racism, had to be suppressed in order to make this cold-war fiction seem persuasive. Thus, while Germany reckoned soberly with its grotesque fantasies of world domination, the British establishment remained vulnerable to bogus myths of a benevolent empire.    These were exposed cruelly last week as the zealous Anglo-American exponents of “humanitarian intervention” through bombs equivocated about sheltering refugees and a nation still subject to crude Nazi jokes assumed, by default, the west’s moral leadership. Perhaps, in this extermination of delusions about a past of blood and tears lies some hope for a world that, torn apart by organised selfishness, is in desperate need of compassion and empathy. “Lest we forget,” as Roth wrote at a bleak time for refugees in Europe, “that nothing in this world endures, not even a home; and that our life is short, shorter even than the life of the elephant, the crocodile and the crow.”    Pankaj Mishra’s books include From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia Caroline Moorehead    Ten years ago, I wrote a book about refugees,  Human Cargo  , based around the stories of a group of boys and young men who had fled to Egypt to escape Liberia’s unending civil wars. Most had been orphaned. I decided to trace the refugee journey, backwards to the places from which most were coming, and forwards through their journeys to their reception in the west. I wrote about camps in Guinea, detention in Australia, settlement in Lapland. There were then an estimated 17 million refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people, and relatively few ever reached the shores of Europe. When I went to Lampedusa in 2005 to talk to the islanders about the arrival of their first boats, I found curiosity and astonishment.    While the causes of displacement have not changed – conflict, persecution, racism, poverty, natural disasters – the rise in numbers has been dramatic. The number of people living exiled from their homes has more than doubled in the last decade to more than 59 million, 8 million more than last year. The world’s state of chronic insecurity is driving some 42,500 people to leave their homes every day in search of safety. Fighting in Syria and Iraq and the rise of Islamic State has already seen 15 million people driven to seek safety abroad. If they were a nation, the population of displaced and dispossessed people would be the 24th largest country in the world. It would be a young nation as more than half of all refugees today are under the age of 18. It’s not just scale of this crisis that’s the problem, but the speed at which it is growing.    Related: Five history lessons in how to deal with a refugee crisis    In the refugee world the vocabulary is all about growth: more child refugees, more asylum applications, more criminal networks of smugglers, more migrants in detention, more refugees in more long-term camps – more than 4 million of them today. What do not grow, of course, are the funds. In 2005, the UN high commissioner for refugees was just about able to keep pace with its commitments. In 2015 it is £2bn short of what it needs to keep camps functioning in Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey.    Rather than face up to the growing crisis, the west has slept the decade away. Even now, there is more interest in erecting walls, fences and barriers than in addressing what Angela Merkel has called the defining issue of our times, more lastingly important than the ailing Greek economy or the ongoing financial fluctuations. But desperate people cannot wait for summits and treaties.    During the last 10 years, refugees and asylum seekers have been demonised as scroungers, malingerers, the people stealing our jobs. Their cause has not been helped by the way in which they are greeted, as they arrive in boats, by officials in full quarantine protective clothing: it’s as if refugees were contaminated aliens who have come to spread disease.    Whether the outpouring of generosity that has spread since the body of a small boy was washed up on a Turkish beach will last remains to be seen. But it can never be a substitute for something long desperately needed – a humane, fair, coherent migration policy, without which the EU will never reclaim its borders, combat smuggling and give refugees a voice, so that they become once again people, and not helpless victims.    Caroline Moorehead’s latest book is Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France Elif Shafak    In one of his essays the German Jewish philosopher and literary critic Walter Benjamin writes compellingly about a Paul Klee painting known as  Angelus Novus  . The eponymous angel stares out from the canvas in something akin to shock; unable to move, his eyes widened, his mouth open, refusing to believe what he sees. He has just been stopped, against his will, by a force stronger than him. His expression is one of immense disappointment and disbelief. All alone and defenceless, he watches an impending storm that will only bring chaos, confusion and cruelty.    In video footage from Hungary, I saw the same expression on the face of a refugee. The man can be seen running while clutching a little child and carrying the bags that have become his sole possession in life. Suddenly, a camerawoman who is filming the incident stretches her leg forward and deliberately trips him up. Both the man and the child fall to the ground. The woman keeps filming. The man lifts his head and looks with incredulous eyes at this stranger he has never seen before. On his face there is disbelief, just like the angel in the painting. He is trying to understand why a fellow human being would do this to another human being. How to explain such an unfounded, almost spontaneous display of violence?    The camerawoman worked for N1TV, a company known for its close ties with the ultranationalist Jobbik party. Even though the company subsequently announced that she had been fired, the incident requires further attention. In this “small” act of cruelty lies one of deepest and darkest dilemmas of humanity in the 21st century.    Racism, ultranationalism and xenophobia all have the same detrimental effect on the human soul: they make us indifferent to the pain of other people. But apathy is not a passive feeling. It requires constant endeavour. It is an active force that must be nourished with hatred, prejudice and stereotypes. An old rhetoric we know too well is haunting Europe once again – especially but not solely in Hungary, Austria and Sweden. Meanwhile, the Middle East is filled with religious fundamentalism, fanaticism, sexism and xenophobia. In Turkey, mobs are setting Kurdish buildings on fire, Kurdish terrorists are killing Turkish soldiers, and ultranationalism, the incurable malady of the 19th century, is once again, on the rise. The Hungarian camerawoman is not alone. There are thousands like her.    If apathy is an active force, we must turn empathy into an active force as well. Wisdom, understanding, compassion, humanism, and yes, dare I say, the influence of women, must be brought into our global political and cultural discourse as agents of change. Let us not forget that globalisation is not only about the rise of information technology and circulation of capital, it also means that our stories, and therefore our destinies, are interconnected.    Ali Smith    The xenophobic rhetoric from members of our government and some of our media – even from the man who is the UK’s premier “statesman”, the prime minister – has been shaming in the extreme. It is only one indicator of the ways in which we are being encouraged, as individuals and as a country, via this government’s moral immaturity, to respond inhumanely to the emergency. We have to stop the rhetorical suggestion that what’s happening isn’t happening to all of us, is happening elsewhere and is a matter of numbers, not people, as if being a refugee is a state different from or somehow less than human. Now is the time to respond to this full-scale, critical and terrible situation. Nobody leaves home without having to. Each person is an individual needing help and safe haven from war, threat of genocide, tyranny, poverty, exploitation, being homeless.    In the UK we should be helping people right now. For the longer term this emergency has highlighted the fact that governments all over the world surely have to start thinking more fluidly, openly, inclusively and inventively when it comes to the drawing of frontiers – because water cannon / armed-police, four-metre-high electric fences and concrete-slab walls are only the start of more divisions, worse fragmentation and more and worse humanitarian crisis, inequality and wreckage. We need to stop thinking exclusively. We need to start thinking on an international level and addressing injustices on such a level. But as fast as we can, we have to help the people crossing the world, and we have to take seriously and to heart the ancient responsibilities of hospitality and sanctuary. They’ve always been the real weights and measures of human worth.    Ali Smith’s novel How to Be Both won the Costa novel award and the Baileys Women’s prize for fiction Mary Beard    It is always dangerous to draw direct lessons for us from ancient history – but it can at least offer a different perspective on issues of borders, migration and citizenship.    The Roman empire, from Scotland to the Sahara, operated with no internal boundaries and with very hazy external ones, too. Romans would have been amazed at our own eagerness to police arbitrary lines on maps and contingent notions of nationality. What is more, in contrast to classical Athens (whose restrictive policies on citizenship would have looked at home in a Ukip manifesto ), Rome systematically extended full Roman citizenship to those who lived in its conquered territories – until the process was complete in 212CE when the emperor Caracalla granted it to every single free inhabitant of the empire, almost 60 million of them. This wasn’t entirely uncontested, and Romans were as capable of bigoted xenophobia as anyone. When the emperor Claudius proposed in 48CE that men from Gaul should be allowed not just to be citizens but also to be members of the senate, he was heckled. But he got his way all the same, and the direction of travel was never in doubt.    It wasn’t simply a question of practical politics. The myths that the Romans invented about their own origins made exactly that point. One story was that the Roman race had been founded by Aeneas, who was a homeless refugee from the great war between Greeks and Trojans. Another was that the city itself had been founded by Romulus, who, after he had murdered his twin brother Remus in a mythical moment of fratricide, faced a terrible shortage of manpower for his new Rome. So he designated the place an “asylum” and welcomed all comers, from runaways to criminals and escaped slaves. These were the first citizens of Rome.    Some Romans, as well as some enemies of Rome, mocked this. What kind of behaviour could you expect from a people with this background, they asked. It was no wonder that the Romans were such thugs; it was in their genes. But most Roman patriots were proud to think of themselves as a nation of asylum seekers. It’s a pride that it might do us no harm to recapture.    Mary Beard’s history of ancient Rome, SPQR, is due this autumn Kate Clanchy    When we see those images of children sleeping on beaches, or marching down motorways, we fantasise ways of rescuing them. Finland’s prime minister, Juha Sipilä, proffers his country home ; Bob Geldof has offered to put up four refugee families at his homes in Kent and London.    I want to take them into our local school. I imagine the mid-term admissions form coming round to all staff, comfortingly routine, another child smiling warily for the camera above a carefully calibrated statement about his level of English. His original language will be included, too, but not his migrant status. Instead, it states his interests, something personal, something from before the war: “Mohammed likes Maths. He is looking forward to joining in at basketball.” We will add new Syrian/English dictionaries to the Dari, Kiswahili, Polish and Lithuanian ones at the back of each classroom, and, in a just few weeks, Mohammed, in his new, stiff school jumper, will delve deeply into them, trying to find the right word for “latitude”, or “path”, or how to spell “through”.    Mostly, the other kids will help him: they are used to this. Certainly, he will not be given an anglicised or degrading nickname, because there is no English majority to perform the task. Everyone is a minority, here, and, taking their cue from the teachers, everyone calls everyone by their whole name. When Mohammed starts playing basketball, in the open hoops by the gym, he will shout names from Nepal and Hungary and Brazil. Soon, the clotted consonants will shuck their strangeness and he will have friends.    Very soon, too, he will start to do well in lessons. His motivation, after all, is extraordinarily high: this is an English education, the thing his family nearly died for. Most of our A-star pupils are recent migrants: Mohammed can join them. He can come to my writing group and start recording his story; he can sit beside my son in geography and tell him about the Middle East; he can learn public speaking and make the vote of thanks speech as one African boy did last year. With hand on heart, he said, “I am thankful to this school and this country”.    If Mohammed were angry, or difficult, or traumatised into silence, the school would still care for him because he is entitled and the school is obliged: it is a public institution, with strength and stability beyond any charity. Britain has hundreds of schools like mine: well-established, highly effective, genuinely multicultural institutions that belong to the state. If it decided to do so, the state could be expanded to take in thousands of the children of the road. It wouldn’t take a celebrity rock concert to do this, or a new charity, just political will and serious amounts of government money. It’s not a fantasy to think that David Cameron could do that: it’s part of his job.    Kate Clanchy’s most recent book is The Not-Dead and The Saved and Other Stories Mohsin Hamid    For me, as a British and hence European citizen, and also as a human being, the most important question raised by the present crisis is not whether the people of the countries of Europe wish to accept more refugees. Rather, the most important question is whether the people of Europe wish their countries to become the sorts of societies that are capable of taking the steps that will be required to stop the flow of migration.    Simply hardening borders and watching refugees drown offshore or bleed to death on razor wire will not be enough. Europe will have to drastically reduce its attractiveness to refugees. Those who look like refugees will need to be terrorised. They will need to be systematically beaten, rounded up, expelled. Some will need to be killed. The avenues of advancement of those who are not native-born will need to be curtailed by law and by custom – a system of apartheid will need to be instituted. To be of apparent migrant origin in a European country will need to become a fate worse than living in a town or village overrun by bloodthirsty fanatics, by rapacious warlords and thugs.    In such a Europe, the essence of Hitler’s thousand-year Reich will not have been defeated; it will merely have suffered an interruption that lasted a few decades. Many people in Germany, perhaps, recognise this. It could explain the marked difference in the tenor and substance of their country’s response to refugees. They know where fortress Europe will and must lead, what a final solution to the issue of migrant arrivals would entail.    All Europeans, including the people of Britain, must ask themselves if they wish to live in such societies. They need to dispense with the delusion that theirs can remain pleasant countries and unattractive countries at the same time. If they decide that no, in the end they do not have it in them to do what would need to be done, to become the kinds of people who would repel migrants – horrify migrants, terrify migrants – then they will need to plan for a future of large-scale migration. And it seems to me that the first step needs to be to articulate a vision of an optimistic future as a migrant-friendly society.    Britain would not be Britain without centuries of migration. Neither would Italy, France, Ireland, America, Canada, Australia. Migration need not lead to dystopia. Migration can – and very often has – led to renewal, to fertility, to uplift and openness and vigour.    Indeed it must. We must find a way to ensure that it does. The tragedy of Europe, the tragedy of Britain, at this present moment is at heart an inability to articulate a desirable future. We are mired in illusory nostalgia. In such an environment, migrants add to the problem. To my mind, the time has come to reverse our perspective, to recognise that visions of a desirable future have been eluding us because we have failed to consider that migrants are not a nightmare. They are – we are, every one of us whose ancestors have left the precise spot where our species first evolved – a great and powerful hope.    Mohsin Hamid’s novels include The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia Ahdaf Soueif    I never looked properly at little Aylan Kurdi ’s photograph. I averted my eyes every time it came at me on Twitter. The image I did look at was of the Syrian family being arrested in Hungary: 28 August, just before Germany decided to open its doors to the refugees. Against a backdrop of tall trees a young man is being pushed down to the ground by a big man in uniform. Next to him are his wife and child. The little girl’s purple baseball cap has fallen off her head and is hanging by its strap onto the red ribbon tying up her pony-tail.    And stretching behind this family, if you look, you can see images of all the moments that have led them here: the meeting, the marriage, the jobs, the baby – and then the danger, coming closer, and closer, until they found themselves having to plan to leave. They made the decision, raised the money, planned and organised and set out. They took massive risks, pushed on through the exhaustion, the fear … and now they’ve arrived in Europe and he is on his knees, the veins of his neck bursting with his shouted protest while a burly officer of the state secures his wrists behind his back. The young woman, his wife, leans in towards him. She holds their daughter with one hand and touches him with the other. Her mouth is open and she’s staring down at what’s being done to him behind his back.    And if you widen the frame of this photo you’ll see the other families; the many, many other people, stretching as far as the eye can see. The refugee story encompasses all the issues that inform our world today: the geopolitics, the history, the trade in violence and instruments of violence, the petty interests, the treachery. But also the great pushback by ordinary people; today it’s Germans, Austrians, Icelanders, stepping forward to offer help and sustenance.    For years now there’s been an exasperation and anger on behalf of justice and humanity that impels people into initiatives: to help transport refugees across borders, to take strangers into their homes, to man flotillas heading to Gaza. These are the citizens who look beyond the headlines, who make up their own minds about events.    In Germany, when arsonists burned down would-be–refugee-shelters, the state – as though to counter in equal weight – decided to open its doors to the refugees. A great march towards Germany has begun. The refugees – those who survive - are mostly young and driven. They’re skilled and many of them are highly educated. So Germany – whether acting out of humanity or far-sighted self-interest - will be the biggest beneficiary of this latest transfusion of young blood from the south into ageing Europe. Too late for Aylan and many others, but perhaps still good for that little girl in the baseball cap and her parents.    Ahdaf Soueif’s books include Cairo: My City, Our Revolution Arundhati Roy    As we watch refugees crowd into camps and pour over the borders, we know that we are not watching a temporary crisis    Arundhati Roy    At the end of the second world war Britain redrew the map of what is superciliously called the Middle East. When the British empire waned, the US took over its imperial mandate. Its constant political meddling – toppling democracies, installing tyrants, tiring of them and installing others, its invasion of Iraq in 2003, its covert military and financial support to vicious sectarian militias in various countries ( General Petraeus, former director of the CIA, recently proposed using al-Qaida fighters against Isis in Syria) has unleashed ancient antagonisms, recent hostilities and mayhem.    As we watch refugees crowd into camps and pour over the borders, we know that we are not watching a temporary crisis. It’s heartwarming to see that the unspeakable cynicism of governments and petroleum companies is put to shame by the grace and generosity shown by thousands of ordinary Europeans who have welcomed the refugees with warmth and food and shelter. Perhaps there’s hope for our species yet.    Arundhati Roy’s novels include The God of Small Things Orhan Pamuk    I am happy that Germany intends to take 800,000 refugees from Syria, North Africa and elsewhere, and that the rest of Europe is also now responding to the grave situation. It really is a dramatic moment in the history of Europe. Until just days ago, Turkey had taken in 2 million immigrants and was attempting to do its duty to humanity and to these people, while it appeared that other countries, even those who were taking just 2,000 or 3,000 immigrants, were complaining. The change of heart has been remarkable and, of course, I am pleased to see this display of humanity and hope we continue to take responsibility for these people.    Despite this sense of hope, we must not forget why these people have lost their countries. It is because President Bush wanted a war in the Middle East to raise his profile and to get votes. And we must not underestimate the task ahead. In particular I hope that Germany does not treat these people as they treated the Turkish people 30 or 40 years ago: as guest workers with only temporary status. It is encouraging that all the signs so far point to Germany offering refugees citizenship and giving them the responsibility of being Germans in the future. This is important to the development of the idea of Europe. Learning to live together with peoples whose culture, religion, history and personal traumatic stories are different from our own educates us. It makes us different people. It teaches us to be liberal in a deeper way than we could possibly learn from a book. The essential idea of Europe is based not only on  égalité  and  liberté  , but also on  fraternité  .    Orhan Pamuk won the Nobel prize for literature in 2006 Samar Yazbek    We are witnessing the largest wave of migration since world war two, of which the Syrians make up the overwhelming majority. But that’s not the whole story. The real problem is that this exodus will continue without end while there is no glimmer of a resolution.    The image of the Syrian boy Aylan and the story of his death have become a global symbol of this gargantuan tragedy. There has been a dramatic change in public opinion, but it is clear that we now need to face up to the question of why the Syrian cause has been transformed from one of citizens marching the streets to demand their civil rights and dignity into one of desperate fugitives. We can no longer ignore the root cause that has led to the displacement of millions of Syrians fleeing death and the war that has raged for over four years. What of the images of humanitarian crises that have not seen the light of day, which have not gone viral and which have not stirred public outrage? As dreadful as the plight of the refugees is, Europe and indeed the whole world will share the impact of this mass migration. Meanwhile, it is those who remain inside Syria whose fate is overlooked: the millions internally displaced, those who are living under constant bombardment by Bashar al-Assad’s forces, and those under siege by Isis.    Related: Can women make the world more peaceful?    There are now two photographs that represent the moral dilemma we face: the world famous image of Aylan drowned at sea and the forgotten image of the child victims of a chemical weapons attack. In one, a child lies dead on the beach; in the other, dozens of children lie choked to death by chemical bombs dropped on eastern Ghouta in August 2013.    The picture of Aylan has become a rallying cry, while that of the children suffocated by poison gas was suppressed, pushed from the public eye and erased from our memory. But these two images belong together, and the solution to the tragedy behind each of them lies in the other. The Syrian people have been reduced to fodder for a war stoked by the self-interest of international and regional players, while the country is shredded into zones under the control of either religious militias or regime forces. What responsibility lies with western governments for the fact that refugees, both poor and middle-class, are choosing death by drowning over remaining in the firing line of this war? And why did the international community sit on their hands four years ago when Bashar al-Assad’s regime began slaughtering his own people and turning his entire country into a mass grave, in response to the peaceful protests of 2011? Why has Assad’s regime been left to commit their daily massacre of the Syrian people?    I cannot think of the tragic horror that has resulted from this global failure of conscience, without going back to the root causes of this tragedy: the ghastly beast that is Isis is nothing but the consequence of the rich countries’ policies towards the poor ones. Yes, we need to find a solution to the refugee crisis, but let’s start by talking transparently and impartially about the underlying causes of this catastrophe that sees no end.    This piece was translated by Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp. Samar Yazbek’s The Crossing – My Journey into the Shattered Heart of Syria is published by Rider Books Jan-Werner Mueller    This week, European commission president Jean-Claude Juncker lamented that the EU urgently needed both more Europe and more Union. This sounds like desperate pleading from the head of an institution that has been systematically weakened in recent years, with member state governments – above all, Germany – in the driver’s seat of the EU. But Juncker happens to be right. Both the euro-crisis and the “refugee crisis” have demonstrated that an EU in which nation-states constantly break rules and haggle about who bears the costs of failed policies is bound to lose legitimacy in the eyes of its citizens. The consequences for ordinary people are all too visible: from the suicides of austerity’s victims in Athens to the desperation of asylum seekers in Budapest.    Neither the euro nor the EU’s leading role in ensuring the dignity of refugees were pre-programmed into the project of European integration. Former EU commissioner Mario Monti once exclaimed that if one compared Europe to a cathedral, then the euro would be its most perfect spire. But the edifice – which is to say: a common market and a common legal order – would also stand without it. Less obviously, the EU took on the role of defending human rights only very recently. In the 1950s and for decades after, the division of labour had been clear-cut: the European Community was to promote peace and prosperity; the Council of Europe with its convention and court of human rights was to safeguard democracy and dignity. Today, the latter institutions are underfunded, unable to ensure the implementation of their decisions, and constantly under attack from national politicians, not least British Tories. By contrast, the EU looks like an organisation whose rules still enjoy respect.    Except when they don’t. It has become all too clear that the rules of the Eurozone are unenforceable, and that member states will have to keep striking ad-hoc deals – as has happened again this summer – to keep the currency union intact. Less obviously, the EU’s reputation as a defender of “fundamental European values” has suffered because member states – not so much Brussels – have condoned the egregious violation of such values by the Hungarian government under Viktor Orbán. Orbán has for years been busy dismantling his country’s democracy and stoking hatred of the EU; the fact that he now has overseen the mistreatment of refugees both to score political points domestically and to provoke the EU should surprise no one.    The German government, living up to national stereotype, has been most vocal in calling for consistent “rule-following”. It is often overlooked, though, that Germany has also been breaking agreements when convenient (including budget deficits) and tried to shape the rules to its own advantage. “Mama Merkel” was evidently happy with the lack of European solidarity, as long as refugees never left Lampedusa. This autumn, Germany can present itself as what a Green politician this week called “  Weltmeister  in the willingness to help” – but the government now also wants the pan-European solidarity it so clearly rejected in the Greek crisis, in the form of a redistribution of refugees across the union. Yet the EU cannot function if it is run according to the shifting moods of the German electorate (and subject to constant bickering among member states, some of which, like Hungary, seem willing to play with people’s lives to get its way). Trite as the call for “more Europe” in response to every challenge might sound, Juncker’s desperate call needs to be taken seriously.    Jan-Werner Mueller’s books include Memory and Power in Post-War Europe: Studies in the Presence of the Past Rana Dasgupta    Between the Napoleonic wars and the second world war, 70 million Europeans fled their homes looking for a new life in the “New World”.    This flight of the continent’s most discontented (and obstinately ambitious) peoples – along with the death of 130 million of their compatriots in the two world wars – acted as an essential safety valve to the social and political boiler of industrialising Europe. Without it, the comparative tranquillity of the post-1945 European order – that same tranquillity that, apparently, is now threatened by new waves of migration – would have looked very different.    The reason that such enormous numbers of the European proletariat were able to leave their countries and settle on the other side of the world was that, compared with our own era, that previous phase of globalisation placed fewer controls on movement. The mobility of capital was mirrored by the mobility of human beings, and this allowed great numbers of the human population to mitigate the turbulence of capitalist processes by simply leaving regions of devastation for better prospects of peace and economic advancement.    Since the 1960s, and with greater intensity after the 90s, the promise of mobility has been withdrawn from the majority of the world’s population. The fantasy of late-20th-century globalisation as a time of unfettered movement is convincing only in the enclaves of the world’s elites. For most people, borders are closed, and free international movement is the stuff of grandparents’ fond recollection.    Despite this, the world is now in a state where, for countless millions of people, leaving home is the only option, just as it was for so many desperate Europeans who went to the New World. Of course, today’s ravaged peoples require far more courage if they are to attempt such journeys, because the likelihood of success is much lower. They too read the newspapers in which the number of dead piling up at border crossings receives coverage. But for many in Sudan or Syria or Afghanistan the decision to leave remains rational, even when the risk of failure and even death is taken into account. Staying home is still worse.    How did their situation get so bad? Who bears responsibility? There is no simple answer, of course. But what is quite obvious is that the fatal state of much of the Middle East and Africa was not just generated internally. For reasons of cold war calculation or post-imperial prestige, the US, USSR, UK and France, among others, propped up authoritarian kleptocrats such as Saddam Hussein and Mobutu Sese Seko for decades, thus ensuring the destruction of vast swathes of the world’s social and human capital, and preparing the hopeless situation we see today.    The battle to remove that generation of strongmen – by Arab spring rebels, and by western military intervention – has torn up most of what remains, turning clan against clan in struggles that are all the more violent because there is no future imagination of the liberal nation-state, and those who do not win - and therefore rule – will die. Not only this, but the eagerness of western armies to drop bombs on non-western civilians has demonstrated to everyone that the full legal status of the human being does not apply to everyone. Laying waste to Iraq in order to remove Saddam Hussein was rather like bombing a house in order to solve a case of domestic violence: it had not even a veneer of legitimate legal process, victims were dispensed with in far greater numbers than perpetrators, and the consequences were worse than the original problem. The events of the last 15 years have not only filled such places with terror, they have also advertised to all the world’s people that the only way to enjoy the legal protections supposedly accruing to all human beings – even and especially in the eyes of the militarised west – is to lay one’s hands on a western passport.    So how can Europe possibly complain that so many people are turning up on its doorstep? How can Britain pretend to be surprised that its own wars have actually turned out to be real, and here are the victims to prove it? Which white-skinned god pronounced that Europe should remain blissfully, and uniquely, unaffected by the immense turmoil of the contemporary world?    Rana Dasgupta’s Capital: The Eruption of Delhi is out in paperback Ian Kershaw    Few can have been left untouched by the plight of the refugees fleeing at terrible risk and amid extraordinary hardship from the horrors of war-torn Syria. We have a moral duty to help as much as we can do, especially as we have contributed to causing the problem. The British government’s belated readiness to take in 20,000 migrants over five years is a mean response. But there is an uneasy balance between moral duty and political responsibility. It would be irresponsible to operate anything like an open-door policy when the total numbers involved are unknown (and might rise hugely were Damascus and Baghdad to fall to Isis).    Germany’s generosity stands in sharp contrast to Britain’s fortress mentality, though the early warm welcome for the refugees might quickly fade if the problems of resettlement are not rapidly solved and the numbers continue to grow at existing rates. The crisis is being tackled there through fairly rational distribution of refugees throughout the country, backed by significant economic support. That offers a model of what should happen here. A more generous, while still responsible, refugee policy could bring benefits for Britain in terms of international standing as well as possible economic advantages from the employment of skilled asylum seekers. Longer term, of course, a political solution in the Middle East has to be found. Drones and military hardware will not do the job. Looking to cooperate, rather than continue the standoff, with Russia and Iran would be a necessary start.    Ian Kershaw’s To Hell and Back: Europe, 1914-1949 is out this autumn Colm Tóibín    Near where I live in the centre of Dublin is a large building where asylum seekers are held. Many of them have been in Ireland for more than five years. They are not allowed to work. Ireland and Lithuania are the only two countries in the EU to impose this blanket ban on asylum seekers working. Until recently, the children of Irish asylum-seekers could go to school, but not to university; now only those in the system for more than five years can go to university. Asylum-seekers in Ireland are held in a sort of limbo; the adults are paid €19 a week. In their accommodation, there are many petty rules and regulations, and hardly any personal autonomy – 80% of the single adults held in this system have to share a room.    In the Republic of Ireland there are nearly 4,500 such people; 20% of them have been in this situation for more than seven years. There are children growing up in Ireland now who have known no other life than this, and have no reason to expect any immediate change.    It seemed a bit rich therefore last weekend, as public opinion shifted, for Ireland to move from agreeing to take 600 new refugees to agreeing to take 1,800 to suggesting 5,000. As each member of government was interviewed, the numbers went up as though they were playing a game of poker.    In the context of refugees and asylum seekers, Dublin has been a very frightening word not only for those held in the city (and throughout Ireland) under the system outlined above, but for asylum seekers and refugees in Europe generally. The Dublin regulation is a set of agreements between states within the EU. These regulations insist that refugees and asylum seekers can only have their cases heard in the country where they first applied for asylum. No other country can deal with their case. Ostensibly, the Dublin regulation was a way to stop asylum-seeking shopping for the softest country or the most affluent. But, in fact, it was a way for many countries to wash their hands of this refugee problem, or attempt to do so.    I use the past tense about the Dublin regulation, because last weekend the German government effectively tore it up without consulting anyone. I welcome the warmth with which the refugees were received in Germany. Since its government, however, has been active in preaching to the rest of us in the EU about rules, and skilled at using regulations as a way of wielding power within the union, it might be worth pointing out to Germany that it should have called for an emergency conference of European leaders before it acted, and that it should have asked the European commission to lead the way rather than behaving unilaterally.    I also welcome the German decision to accept hundreds of thousands of refugees. I wish Ireland would follow Germany’s example by dealing humanely, or less shamefully, with the 4,500 asylum seekers under our direct control. The question, however, is what will the status of these New Europeans be within Germany itself, and also, what will their status be should they wish to leave Germany and settle or move elsewhere within the Schengen area which comprises most of the EU with the exception of Ireland and the United Kingdom?    Colm Tóibín’s most recent novel is Nora Webster Gary Younge    A three-year-old’s body was what it took to make it clear that it was human beings we were talking about and not, as Katie Hopkins had described them, “ cockroaches ”. Like Kafka’s  Metamorphosis  in reverse, the “insect” became a person. And only then could the mob be momentarily marginalised and the polity embarrassed into reckoning with its moral and legal obligations.    The presence of this mob was not news. Fascism has returned as a mainstream ideology in Europe – its rhetoric infects the political culture like arsenic in the water supply.    When challenged on their refusal to acknowledge their responsibilities and admit refugees, leaders would point to the pressure from the far right. We have seen how mendacity, fear and bigotry could be galvanised to dictate an agenda based on misinformation and prejudice. Brits and Spaniards believe they have twice as many immigrants in their country as there actually are; in Hungary it’s eight times.    What was news were the huge numbers coming forward to offer shelter and sustenance. The people in Hungary who gave the refugees water and toys as they undertook their long march; the people in Germany who lined the streets to welcome them; the thousands of Icelanders who opened up their homes to refugees after the state offered to house just 50; the Brits who collected clothes and supplies and headed for the south coast.    These were the people I was never sure existed. People who were prepared to actively welcome refugees with a popular, spontaneous expression of humanity and generosity that, we had been told, had been sucked dry. People who were absent from every political calculation thus far. The political limits to this are obvious. A refugee crisis on this scale cannot be solved by individual acts of charity. Governments cannot be relieved of their international obligations.    But the potential of it should not be understated. If they can lend political form to their personal endeavours they, too, if mobilised, can set an agenda. Only then can they turn back the tide before another child like Aylan washes ashore.    Gary Younge writes for the Guardian Jeanette Winterson    Unlike President Putin I am not a supporter of “Basher” Assad, one of the many men in power today who would rather murder the world than change. I look at the US revving up around Donald Trump and Jeb Bush. I look at François Hollande, who has curiously little to say about France and its past with Syria – including bombing the place in 1946 when Syria wanted speedier independence from the French mandate.    The UK cannot act unilaterally in this crisis. We need to be part of Europe here, but Europe needs to be part of the world. By which I mean the refugee crisis is a global crisis. Just as the economic crisis was and is a global crisis. Just as  climate  change is affecting the whole world. We are one world, no matter how much razor wire there is, no matter what faith, what passport, what currency.    In any case, the map of the world has been made and remade by empires and wars, protectorates and mandates, coups, and covert de-stabilisation so many times – Syria being part of that tragedy, just as Palestine is part of that tragedy. We don’t need to do hand-wringing history. Endless apologies count for nothing. We do though need some knowledge of history – in part to counter the bewilderment of how the fuck did we get to this – as though a crisis, economic or refugee, or  climate  , is like some Old Testament plague.    Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek former finance minster, has argued that the economic crisis was inevitable, given the fact that late capitalism (he calls it bankruptocracy) works in the way that it does – rewarding not hard work or stable investment, but financialisation. Private equity asset-stripping is one example. Collateralised debt securites, another.    Climate  change is also inevitable – and it has nothing to do with this lit’le ole planet doing one of its periodic shifts – it has to do with the necrotic idiocy of human greed.    The refugee crisis is a global crisis. Just as the economic crisis is a global crisis. We are one world    Jeanette Winterson    I have been reading this week about how Sarah Palin would like to be energy secretary in a Trump government, so that she can take charge of the “gas, oil and minerals that God has dumped on this part of the Earth”, thoughtfully to avoid US dependence on other nations. Will she allow, say Africa, to hang on to all its God-dumped resources then? Maybe she doesn’t know that the US has run a trade deficit and a budget deficit since the 1970s.    Why are we even distinguishing between economic migrants and refugees when everyone on this planet has the same basic right to a basic life – food, shelter, safety, work, education, a peaceful future?    Our global crises are inevitable and they are warnings of seismic magnitude. The way we live is unsustainable at every level. Yes, the Arab nations, as well as Europe, need to pay for this disaster affecting millions of the world’s Muslims. The Saudis, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, UAE, will have to put aside their fears of demographic change and political instability, as we all will – because this crisis of migration isn’t going to go away. Yes, offer homes and open doors around the world – that’s the acute crisis that needs a response right now. But the chronic crisis is far scarier.    An old Jewish friend of mine says we carry two bags for our problems – one bag is time and money, the other is the life-and-death struggle. That’s where the world is now.    Jeanette Winterson’s books include her memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal ?                 

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-08-24 *am_2015-08 *annee_2015 
Energy department faces axe in latest cuts      By Steven Swinford            THE Department for Energy and  Climate  Change could be abolished under plans being considered by the Treasury and senior civil servants, a former minister has said.    Greg Barker, who until last year was the minister for  climate  change, said he was "sure" that plans to scrap the department were being considered as part of government plans to downsize Whitehall. Tory MPs have called for the department to be scrapped and its responsibilities moved to the Department for Environment and the Treasury.    The Government is preparing to make cuts of up to 40 per cent to unprotected departments.    Mr Barker told BBC Radio 4's The World at One: "These cuts have got to be made but getting rid of Decc would send a catastrophic signal. Abroad we are going to see the Paris  climate  conference this year. It would send totally the wrong message."                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-08-27 *am_2015-08 *annee_2015 
Slashing household solar subsides will kill off industry, government told              The government wants to slash by 87% subsidies for householders who install solar panels on their rooftops, in a move that renewable energy experts warn could kill off a promising industry.    The potential reductions in the level of feed-in tariff (FIT), contained in a long-awaited consultation document released by the Department of Energy  &    Climate  Change (Decc), and are far larger than expected.    The assault on solar power comes after ministerial decisions to remove financial aid from new onshore wind farms and slash home energy efficiency measures. There is even speculation that Decc could be wound up as a standalone department.    From 1 January, ministers are proposing reducing the feed-in tariff for smaller scale solar installations from 12.47p per kilowatt hour to 1.63p with large standalone units eligible for subsidies of 1.03p per kWh, compared with 4.28p today.    The government has blamed concerns that the £7.6bn budget for renewables will be drastically overspent, and argues that solar and onshore wind should be able to largely support themselves.    “We are taking urgent action to get a grip of this overspend and protect hardworking bill payers. Our support has driven down the cost of renewable energy significantly,” said a Decc spokeswoman. “As costs continue to fall and we move towards sustainable electricity investment, it becomes easier for parts of the renewables industry to survive without subsidies.”    But Decc documents include admissions that the proposed cuts in the solar tariff could lead to many fewer installations.    “There is a risk that these changes – combined with the separate consultation proposals to remove pre-accreditation – may result in significantly reduced rates of deployment,” it says in an impact assessment.    The Solar Trade Association reacted angrily to the move. “We regret that proposals to suddenly cut tariffs combined with the threat of closure of the scheme next January will spark a massive market rush,” said Mike Landy, its head of policy.    “This is the antithesis of a sensible policy for achieving better public value for money while safeguarding the British solar industry.”    Colin Calder, chief executive of a solar supply firm PassivSystems, put it more strongly, saying: “It is extremely disappointing to see the government once more targeting the rooftop solar PV [photovoltaics] market with tariff changes that are so extreme they will destroy an entire industry overnight, putting thousands of jobs and many businesses at risk.”    Juliet Davenport, chief executive of leading green power supplier Good Energy, hoped ministers would change their minds. “The feed-in tariff has transformed the way the UK generates its power over the last three years, with over 21% of the UK’s power coming from renewables in the early part of 2015, and over 700,000 homes generating their own power,” she said.    Environmental campaigners at Friends of the Earth said the move further undermined David Cameron’s credibility on tackling  climate  change in the runup to key talks in Paris later this year.    “These absurd solar cuts will send UK energy policy massively in the wrong direction and prevent almost a million homes, schools and hospitals from plugging in to clean, renewable energy,” said Alasdair Cameron at Friends of the Earth.    Samir Brikho, chief executive of engineering group Amec Foster Wheeler, warned that constant changes of policy were undermining confidence of the supply sector. “Uncertainty in the market is not helpful when you are trying to create a stable business,” he said.    But the government consultation, which is open to comments until 23 October, received support from the EEF manufacturers federation which has long expressed concern about high energy prices and the expense of aid going to renewable energy.    “With the costs of government energy policy surpassing previous projections and the … budget already looking like it’s been maxed out, government is right to be getting to grips with the issue,” said EEF’s Richard Warren.                 

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-09-22 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
White House guest list for Pope shocks the Vatican      By Nick Allen in Washington and Nick Squires in Havana            A ROW has erupted after the White House invited transgender rights activists and a gay former bishop to a welcoming ceremony for Pope Francis. Vatican officials were said to be offended by the guest list and opponents of Barack Obama accused the president of trying to use the papal visit to put pressure on the Pope over same-sex marriage and abortion.    Tomorrow the Pope will be greeted on the White House lawn by Mr Obama and thousands of guests including Mateo Williamson and Vivian Taylor, who are both transgender.    Bishop Gene Robinson, who was the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in the US, has also been invited. Also in the crowd will be Sister Simone Campbell, a nun who in 2010 wrote a letter to Congress backing Mr Obama's health reforms despite objections from Catholic groups that they could provide funding for abortion and contraception. The Vatican was not consulted over the guest list and a senior official voiced his concerns. There was particular concern that if the Pope were to be photographed with some of the guests it could be interpreted as him endorsing their positions.    Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, denied that was why certain guests had been invited. He added: "There will be 15,000 other people there too." Ben Rhodes, Mr Obama's communications adviser, said the Pope would "make his own determinations and I'm sure he'll speak his mind".    Mr Robinson, who was bishop of New Hampshire from 2003 to 2012, blamed "conservative reactionaries" in the papal circle for what he called the "kerfuffle" over the guest list. He said: "I find it really hard to believe that Pope Francis would be too concerned about one gay guy and a feisty nun in a crowd of thousands."    It was the latest controversy ahead of Pope Francis's six-day visit, his first to the US. Last week Paul Gosar, a Catholic Republican congressman, announced he was boycotting the visit amid reports that the Pope would devote much of a speech to  climate  change, rather than what Mr Gosar called "the sanctity of life and Christian persecution" in America.    Before his trip to the US, the Pope has spent four days in Cuba, where on Sunday he met Fidel Castro for half an hour. Yesterday the Pope prayed at Cuba's most revered Catholic shrine as he sought to revive faith on the Caribbean island after decades in which the Church was driven underground by the Communist regime.              Figure(s) :      The Pope meets Fidel Castro on Sunday             

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-09-22 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
The current refugee crisis is but a foretaste of further chaos to come    Letters to the Editor              SIR - The current refugee crisis was waiting to happen.    Fifteen years ago the United Nations General Assembly adopted a mediumterm plan for the protection and support of refugees for the period 2002 to 2005. It stated, among other things, the need for the "strengthening of local capacity to cope with refugee situations; improved emergency preparedness and response mechanisms, including preparedness measures at the country level." It is clear now that little has been done.    Warnings came from anthropologists engaged in rather lonely research into the socioeconomic and security implications of mass migration movements - in my case, independent research into forced migrations from low-level areas affected by rising sea levels.    We think we have a crisis now, but we haven't seen anything yet. Fairly soon we will be facing even greater problems as  climate  refugees put mounting pressure on already overstretched societies.    What we see happening is a wakeup call. The world ignores it at its peril. Tony Patey Northfleet, Kent    SIR - Nearly all the refugees so far have come to Europe by sea, either across the Mediterranean from Libya or across the short distance between Lesbos and Turkey. The sea is where the main tragedies have occurred: out of the 430,000 who have crossed so far, almost 3,000 have died.    Yet this is a pipeline, and like all pipelines it can be shut off.    Immigrants could be rescued from the disastrous flotillas they sail on and then assisted to settle temporarily in properly resourced refugee camps.    Holding out the promise of quotas, which only encourages desperate people to risk their lives, is not only short-sighted; it is cruel.    Richard Langridge Bradenham, Buckinghamshire SIR - Why should refugees not return to Syria when conditions are right? To suggest that it would take decades for the country to recover even if the war ended today is nonsense. Many countries were left in ruins following the Second World War, but with foreign aid and the efforts of their populations they recovered comparatively quickly.    While it is humane to give Syrians asylum in European countries, this should be granted as a temporary measure - especially to able-bodied young men - so that when their country becomes more stable they can return to lead the rebuilding effort.    Peter Walton Buckingham    SIR - In comparative terms the countries of the EU are immensely wealthy. Its governments could pour billions of pounds directly into relieving the suffering in the Middle East without supporting the current paternalistic assumption that the only place worth living is within the EU. Alan Thomas Ware, Hertfordshire                 

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-09-22 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Meet me and see how fun I am, Clinton urges voters      By Nick Allen            HILLARY CLINTON has begun an effort to convince voters that she is "fun" and a "real person".    The front-runner for the Democratic nomination for next year's presidential election has seen her popularity faltering in recent weeks.    One of the accusations levelled against Mrs Clinton by opponents has been that she does not seem "likeable" enough. Her campaign has set up a competition for supporters in which the winner will meet Mrs Clinton at the first televised Democratic debate in Nevada on Oct 13.    John Podesta, Mrs Clinton's campaign chairman, wrote an email to supporters urging them to enter.    He said: "She's a whole lot of fun. She can talk about anything and everything - from the Kardashians to wonky  climate  change policy. Meet her in person and see what I mean."    At the weekend, Mrs Clinton tried to convince television viewers that she was not detached. In her first appearance on a Sunday political show for four years, she was asked to use three words that describe "the real Hillary Clinton".    She said: "Just three? I can't possibly do that! I mean, look, I am a real person with all the pluses and minuses that go along with being that. And I've been in the public eye for so long that I think, you know, it's like the feature that you see in some magazines sometimes - real people actually go shopping."    In the latest poll, Mrs Clinton is backed by 42 per cent of those who will vote in the primary elections. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator, has the support of 24 per cent. Joe Biden, the vice-president, who is not confirmed in the race, has 22 per cent.                 

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-09-22 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
AN ENGLISH WOMAN ABROAD EMMA FREUD    As we get ready for Saturday's concert in Central Park, the mood in our house is a mixture of fear, panic and excitement              This week I'm going to attempt to lure you in with descriptions of unusual food items. And then hit you with some serious talk; be warned.    So how is this for today's teatime snack… on 7th Avenue, we found the legendary baker Dominique Ansell's Maple Apple Muffin, baked with a thin white layer of pig fat lain on top and then quickly roasted through, for cake with added pig fat. Yup - exactly as disgusting as it sounds, but a valiant attempt to defy the omnipresent "clean eating" movement. We had better luck with the scented Lavender Croissant, his Burrata ice cream made from a young Mozzarella cheese, and the smoky, moist, warm brownie that had been twice baked, the second time while wrapped in a sage leaf. Like eating a particularly delicious bonfire.    Much as I would love to believe we are living in New York for the puddings, we are actually here on a mission. This Friday, 40 blocks away at the United Nations HQ on 1st Avenue, 193 countries will commit themselves to the most ambitious plan ever mounted to end extreme poverty, fight inequality, and fix  climate  change.    It's been a decade in the devising, has involved thousands in the consulting process, and is now being announced to the world by the Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon (or as my smallest son calls him, the Graffiti Artist Banksy Moon). The mission is called the Global Goals - 17 plans of action to heal our planet. A blueprint for the future, and the best chance we all have to not be eating our own heads by 2030.    The potential gains are massive - education for all, affordable clean energy, gender equality, zero hunger and 13 other achievable targets - but the goals can only succeed if politicians across the world are held accountable to them. So Richard and I are part of the team helping to make them famous: aiming to get them on to every website, TV station, cinema, school, radio programme, newspaper, billboard, milk carton and mobile phone.    And on Saturday, my Richard and Coldplay's Chris Martin have helped produce a massive Global Citizen Concert in Central Park to announce the existence of the Goals - with 90 countries around the world broadcasting the coverage. They're getting a bit of help communicating this crucial moment from such legends as Beyoncé, Malala, Bill Gates, Bono, Usher, Freida Pinto, Salma Hayek, Kerry Washington, Stephen Colbert, Coldplay, Pearl Jam and, my favourite, Ed Sheeran - who I inappropriately love even more than my daughter does.    For the past week, no one in our house has slept for fear (Richard), panic (Badger is nervous we will forget to feed him that day) and excitement (me, see earlier reference to Ed Sheeran).    It's a very different type of event for us to be working on. I've spent 25 years at Comic Relief trying to encourage donations and fundraising activities from businesses, corporate teams, retailers and schools for Red Nose Day. I once even persuaded a heavily pregnant Claudia Winkleman to be sponsored for every hour she was in labour: her lengthy birth was awful for her, but amazingly good news for our total that year.    But fundraising is relentless and unsatisfying as there are always stones left unturned, opportunities missed and targets not met. So it's a rare pleasure to work on a campaign that will be using the budgets of international governments to achieve its aims. All it needs now is for the world to be aware that finally we have a plan.    So on Saturday, if you can catch a glimpse of the Global Goals concert on BBC, know there are two terrified Brits backstage, both terrified for different reasons… the deep one trying to save the planet, and the shallow one trying desperately to get into Ed Sheeran's dressing room.    Next week: I'll tell you whether I was successful. Unless I was extremely successful, in which case I will not mention it again.    @TheGlobalGoals    'Ed Sheeran, who I love even more than my daughter does, will be playing'              Figure(s) :      Ed Sheeran will play at the Global Goals concert             

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-09-22 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Lurid claims could have been highly damaging... if Cameron had lost    Analysis      By James Kirkup            THUS far, Call Me Dave, the unauthorised and distinctly unfriendly biography of David Cameron, has raised more questions than it answers. Did the Prime Minister ever take cocaine? Did he break a solemn promise to a former ally? Did he really do "that" with a pig? The answers are disputed, the truth at risk of being lost amid claim and counter-claim, innuendo and rebuttal. But one fact shines through the murk, clear and indisputable: Michael Ashcroft is a bad man to cross.    With a personal fortune in excess of £1 billion, there isn't much Lord Ashcroft cannot buy. He has all the trappings of huge wealth, a private jet and a pair of yachts. But some things are beyond even his extraordinary reach, such as real political power.    That has not stopped him pursuing a very expensive career in politics.    Starting in the late 1990s when the Conservatives were led by William Hague, he donated around £8 million to the party; Mr Hague gave him a peerage in 2000. He also studied the party's operations and its appeal to voters, identifying what he considered to be significant weaknesses.    His gloomy analysis of the Tory "brand" chimed with that of Mr Cameron, who won a surprise victory to become party leader in December 2005 after telling Conservatives they had to "change to win". To help bring about that change, he asked Lord Ashdown to become deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. In that role, he helped to drive Mr Cameron's "modernisation" of the Conservatives, an attempt to change the Tory image to appeal to voters who were younger, poorer and less white than its traditional backers.    Many of the early Tory modernisers remain part of Mr Cameron's closeknit inner circle, a group dominated by well-heeled Oxford graduates. Lord Ashcroft, an alumnus of the Mid Essex Technical College, was never fully embraced by the Cameron team.    None the less, Lord Ashcroft says he believed he had a clear "understanding" with Mr Cameron that if the Tory leader became PM, Lord Ashcroft would play a significant role in his government. In 2010, days after the formation of the Coalition government, Mr Cameron asked Lord Ashcroft to serve as a whip in the House of Lords, just about the most junior position in government.    Lord Ashcroft declined, insulted: "It would have been better had Cameron offered me nothing," he writes. Instead of withdrawing from politics, he became more active, using his wealth to make himself a highly influential observer of the political scene.    Lord Ashcroft has spent millions on an opinion polling operation that makes him one of the country's biggest pollsters. His firm's surveys, taken seriously at Westminster, over several years identified weakness in the Conservative Party's political appeal, especially among voters in marginal seats. Lord Ashcroft used that data to develop a critique of the Tories under Mr Cameron that strongly suggested that the party could not win this year's general election outright.    In that event, Mr Cameron would have come under great pressure to resign, going down in history as the Tory leader who twice failed to win a Commons majority. Despite admitting his "disappointments" over Mr Cameron's conduct, Lord Ashcroft insists that his motive for preparing his extensively and expensively researched biography was not to "settle scores" or do his subject harm.    Yet in the febrile  climate  that would have followed a second failure to secure a Commons majority, a biography full of eye-catching revelations about Mr Cameron might just have been the straw that broke his career's back.    But his surprise general election victory in May and the subsequent arrival of Jeremy Corbyn mean the Prime Minister is in a very different, and much more secure position. Lord Ashcroft may have money, but in politics, electoral success is the most valuable currency, and Mr Cameron could be forgiven for thinking he has enough political capital to shrug off even Lord Ashcroft's most lurid claims about his life.    The pig The most jaw-dropping of those claims dates to Mr Cameron's time at Oxford University in the mid-1980s. The book describes an "outrageous initiation ceremony" for the Piers Gaveston Society, an aristocratic dining club, during which Mr Cameron "inserted a private part of his anatomy" into the mouth of a dead pig. The claim was made by a "distinguished Oxford contemporary" and MP, who also claims that a photograph of this extraordinary event exists, held in very private hands. In response, friends of the Prime Minister note that he was not a member of the society, something confirmed by several Oxford contemporaries from the mid-1980s.    One of them is Toby Young, a Telegraph writer, who has investigated Mr Cameron's university antics and found no evidence of the pig incident. "I think it's a figment of someone's imagination," he says.    Yet the facts of the case may matter less than the debate over the book's claim. Lyndon Johnson, the brutal Texan who succeeded John F Kennedy as US president, is said to have ordered his staff to spread a clearly false rumour that a rival had sex with a pig, because "I want to make the son-of-abitch deny it" and thus bring public attention to the rumour.    There is no suggestion that Lord Ashcroft has done something similar in Mr Cameron's case. But the effect may be the same.    Drugs The book repeats long-standing accounts of Mr Cameron using cannabis, both while a pupil at Eton College and as an Oxford undergraduate. James Delingpole, an Oxford friend of Mr Cameron, describes regularly smoking the drug with him in Christ Church. "I smoked weed with Dave," he told Lord Ashcroft. Mr Cameron has already tacitly admitted smoking cannabis as part of a "normal university experience." But he has been more reticent in responding to equally persistent, and much more serious, rumours that he regularly used cocaine after he left university, while working as a researcher at Conservative Party HQ, and as a press officer at a television company.    Here, Lord Ashcroft's book offers no new evidence. Instead, the book quotes a member of Mr Cameron's "social circle" who describes cocaine being openly used at a dinner party in Mr Cameron's London home some time after his marriage in 1996. But the witness saw neither Mr Cameron nor his wife Samantha take the drug, meaning the account will cause the Prime Minister little concern. The book's description of how an unnamed "close relative" of Mr Cameron suffered a "crippling and lifethreatening drug addiction" may simply distress the Cameron family without any political consequence.    Sexual indiscretion has been the undoing of many politicians, but there appears to be little in Lord Ashcroft's findings to worry Mr Cameron here. The book recounts several youthful encounters with attractive women before Mr Cameron met his future wife. "I think he slept with all the good-looking girls from college," one Oxford contemporary recounts in the sort of testimonial that seems unlikely to worry Mr Cameron greatly.    Loss The biography describes the most painful and significant event in Mr Cameron's life, the life and death of his son, Ivan. Born severely disabled in 2002, Ivan Cameron died in 2009.    As well as describing the way the Camerons cared for their firstborn, the book considers the personal changes in Mr Cameron the boy brought about.    "Had it not been for Ivan, it is quite possible Cameron would never had risen to the top in politics. His life had simply been too straightforward, too charmed to enable him to connect to many voters," Lord Ashcroft suggests.    That notion is expressed more bluntly by a former Cameron aide quoted in the book: "My impression of Cameron before Ivan was that he was a snobby little snot."    Lies As well as suggesting that Mr Cameron broke his word about a senior government post, Lord Ashcroft's book casts doubt on Mr Cameron's honesty in his public status about the donor's tax status.    In March 2010, government papers published under the Freedom of Information Act forced Lord Ashcroft to confirm publicly that he had nondomicile status, his extensive business interests in Belize allowing him to qualify for rules that reduce UK tax liabilities. Months later he gave up non-dom status to comply with new rules on membership of the Lords. This year he resigned from the upper house.    Mr Cameron has suggested that he only learned that Lord Ashcroft was a non-dom in 2010. But in his book, Lord Ashcroft says he discussed his tax status with Mr Cameron in 2009, and that the two men talked about how they could "delay revealing my tax arrangements until after the election" due in May 2010.    'He has already admitted smoking cannabis but has been more reticent about persistent rumours he used cocaine'  'One fact shines through the claims, innuendo and rebuttal: Michael Ashcroft is a bad man to cross'              Figure(s) :    DAFYDD JONES    David Cameron with a companion, at the 1987 Pitt Club Ball in Oxford. The book by Lord Ashcroft, below, recounts several youthful encounters with attractive women before Mr Cameron met his future wife             

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-18 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
The California Wildfires: What's Making This Season So Wild?      By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA            The fires that have scorched large stretches of California continue to burn on Thursday, but with lower wind, cooler temperatures and even a little rain, they are no longer spreading fast, and they pose less of a threat than they did early in the week.    The Valley Fire northwest of Sacramento and the Butte Fire southeast of the city had charred more than 143,000 acres by Thursday morning, a fairly small increase from the day before. The Butte Fire was 49 percent contained, and the Valley Fire 35 percent.    The largest wildfire in the state, the Rough Fire, in a sparsely populated area of the rugged southern Sierra Nevada, was also growing only slowly, to 141,000 acres, and firefighters reported having it 67 percent contained, a big improvement from the day before.    It will be weeks, at least, before those fires are out, and for now, residents are not able to return to the most badly scorched areas. In addition, thousands of structures are still considered at risk, and a return of high winds could undo the progress firefighters have made.    For residents and firefighters, the shift in weather on Wednesday was a welcome reprieve, if a temporary one; hot, dry weather will return Friday. (The heavy rain in Los Angeles on Tuesday passed too far to the south to help with the blazes.)    Two people in Calaveras County were confirmed killed in the Butte Fire, and one in Lake County in the Valley Fire. Four firefighters suffered burns fighting the Valley Fire. Here are answers to some questions about the developments:    Q. How much damage has there been so far from these fires?    A. In the past few days, more than 1,000 buildings were destroyed, officials estimate, though the real number will not be known for a while and will almost certainly be higher. Fire officials have confirmed at least 585 homes and hundreds of other structures have been destroyed by the Valley Fire, and there are areas they have not yet been able to survey. The Butte Fire has destroyed at least 252 homes and 188 other structures. About 13,000 people were evacuated; most of them stayed with friends and family, but about 2,700 went to evacuation centers. For areas that were not burned but were threatened, some evacuation orders were lifted on Tuesday and Wednesday, allowing thousands of people to return home..    Q. So just how bad are the fires?    A. Around 700,000 acres have burned this year in California, compared with about 500,000 in a typical year, and the fire season is nowhere near over. Right now, 15,000 people are deployed to fight wildfires across the state. But what has officials on edge is less the total acreage than how readily new fires start, and how quickly -- and unpredictably -- they grow. "We've had fires in California since the beginning of time," said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the governor's Office of Emergency Services, "but what we're seeing now that's different is the extreme rapid spread of the fires, and the extreme volatility."    Q. Why is it this bad?    A. Two reasons: drought and heat. Vegetation in California, from the mesquite scrub in the desert to the tall pines in the Sierra Nevada, is as dry as kindling after a yearslong drought, the worst in the state's recorded history. So fire catches more easily, spreads faster and carries farther on the wind.    The state's major reservoirs hold less than half the water they typically contain at this time of year, many wells have run dry, and underground aquifers are so depleted that in some places, the ground has been sinking as much as two inches per month.    Q. With such a severe drought, do firefighters have enough water to do their work?    A. Yes, but some creativity is required. Ordinarily, pumper trucks and helicopters with water buckets can tap into the streams, lakes and reservoirs closest to the flames. But in many places, those sources are now too low to rely on. Firefighters are making more use of tanker trucks and big, portable plastic water basins to do what is known as "water shuttling" -- moving water close to the fires. And helicopter pilots are often having to travel farther to find places to dip their buckets.    Q. How bad have the drought and heat been?    A. Last year was the hottest on record in California, and this has been a hot summer. But even the hottest weather would not have created the extreme fire danger the state is seeing if there had been enough rainfall. California is in the fourth year of a severe drought. One important indicator of its severity came this spring, when state scientists measured the Sierra snowpack at 5 percent of normal -- no misprint -- the lowest ever recorded. A study published this week, based on the analysis of tree rings, said the snowpack was at its lowest point in 500 years.    Q. But haven't people been conserving a lot of water?    A. Yes, and that offers something of a reprieve for the people and farms that use water, but it does not water all those millions of acres of wild land. Only nature does that.    Q. Is this about global warming?    A. The governor says it is.  Climate  scientists say the clearest link is that a warmer  climate  causes more evaporation, so that even when rain and snow do fall, less stays on -- and in -- the ground and the plants. California has had extreme swings between dry years and wetter ones in the past, but the increasing heat of recent years is something new.    Q. The areas burning are mostly rural, with ranches, farms and riding stables. So what has become of all that livestock, not to mention household pets?    A. When people were forced to flee with little warning, especially from the Valley Fire, many animals were left behind, and no one knows the toll yet. For those who were able to get their animals out, "we actually have a very elaborate, well-coordinated system of volunteers and organizations that take in farm animals and domestic pets," Mr. Ghilarducci said, though he added that most people take their pets with them. "Special shelters are set up, and there's a whole veterinary team that goes in to support that."                 

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-09-18 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
A lenient history Complaints to the committee that fell on deaf ears              November 2013 Simon Hughes, the then deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, was found to have failed to register six donations to his local party from four companies, or to declare an interest, despite having links with the donors. But the committee concluded there had been "no attempt to conceal the donations" to his local party and said he had simply not been "as attentive as he should have been to the rules of the House". He was asked to apologise, given his seniority.    November 2013 Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP, right, was criticised for failing to register her fees for appearing on the reality television show I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! The money was paid to a company, of which she was a director. The committee concluded she should have declared the money but voiced "regret" that new rules which would have made this requirement "explicit" had not been in place.    November 2013 Tim Yeo, the former environment minister and chairman of the energy and  climate  change committee, was cleared of allegations, stemming from a Sunday Times investigation, that he offered to lobby ministers and "coach" a business associate who was to give evidence to MPs. Instead the committee turned its fire on the reporters, accusing them of quoting selectively and "making efforts to lead Mr Yeo into behaving indiscreetly".    April 2014 In December 2012 The Daily Telegraph disclosed that the then culture secretary Maria Miller had claimed more than £90,000 in expenses for a second home where her parents lived. Although the committee found that she had over-claimed mortgage expenses by £5,800, it did not uphold the key allegation - that she used public funds for her parents' benefit - because she was already caring for them. But she was forced to apologise for her "attitude" to the inquiry.    May 2014 Patrick Mercer, the Tory former shadow minister, was suspended from the Commons for six months after a cash-forquestions scandal exposed by a Daily Telegraph investigation. He tabled a series of questions on behalf of a fictitious group lobbying for Fiji to be readmitted to the Commonwealth after being paid £4,000 as part of a contract he believed would earn him £24,000 a year. The committee recommended he give the cash to charity but admitted "we have no powers in this matter".    Sept 2014 The committee recommended no further action again Peter Bone, the MP for Wellingborough and Rushden, Northants, for expenses claims he made while living temporarily in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, when he was first elected in 2005. Although it was against the rules at the time - as the house was neither in his constituency nor in Westminster - the committee decided he had been "new and inexperienced" and did not know this.    January 2015 Peter Lilley, the Tory MP, left, was accused of failing to declare his directorship of an oil firm during a debate on energy prices and  climate  change laws. He said the company only worked in central Asia and did not have interests in the UK and was not therefore directly relevant. The committee decided the rules had not been clear at the time and that it would "not be fair" to find him in breach.    March 2015 The committee examined a complaint that Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP, failed to register earnings from the serialisation of his book Smile for the Camera on time. It found that although the payments were registered late, this was "not uncommon" and that about one in seven payouts to MPs for outside work were registered late. It was noted in the register.                 

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-09-09 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Extreme weather, yes. Extremely mild…    The Met Office is offering us the chance to name storms. But our  climate  is not as dramatic as we think      MICHAEL HANLON            Britain is braced for the onslaught of Light Afternoon Drizzle Brian, then the nightmare of Rather Blustery Morning Samantha. Stock up on nail guns and hardboard now. The assault from our malevolent skies never ceases.    It sounds like a Monty Python sketch, but it is real. The Met Office, and its Irish equivalent, Met Éireann, have "teamed up" in a new venture that invites the public to send in names for "extreme weather events" affecting the British Isles. This follows the practice of giving people's names to hurricanes and other mega-storms, which has been in use for decades.    It's a nice PR wheeze, perhaps, but it illustrates a salient point. No other country talks more about its weather - and no other country has such a misguided and factually incorrect impression of what its weather actually is.    Britain's  climate  is indeed truly spectacular - but not in the way most of us think. It is not quite unique: most of New Zealand, parts of South America and some of the western seaboard of the United States share our  climate  . And what makes us - and these places - stand out is the sheer mildness of our weather. We don't need names for '"extreme weather events", for the simple reason that we do not suffer extreme weather events.    No, really, we don't.    You thought it rained a lot in August? It was indeed damp, with seven or eight inches of rain falling in some places, making it the rainiest for 50 years. But spectacular? No.    Consider the inhabitants of the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion. They can tell us about "spectacular" rain. Over January 7 and 8 in 1966 nearly six feet of rain fell in a 24-hour period. If that happened here, we would talk of little else for, maybe, 200 years. That was a weather event that deserved a name (and, indeed, the storm responsible was called Denise).August's "washout", by contrast, did not.    We had a bit of snow a few winters back (Blizzard Quentin, perhaps?). It was the sort of snow that filled several pages of every newspaper, closed our biggest airports for a day or two and led to much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Why weren't we prepared? Why don't we have heated runways and proper snowploughs like the Canadians? Why do we grind to a halt?    The answer is simple. Such events are so vanishingly rare, and so (in the scheme of things) mild, that as a nation we would be clinically insane to invest hundreds of millions of pounds in equipment that would simply rust away in the intervals between when it was needed.    Many places in the Rockies and in central Japan see single snowfalls of several feet in one day (the record is 390 inches level snow depth in 24 hours, in Tamarack, California, in January 1911). This winter, nearly two level feet of snow (meaning drifts several yards deep) fell on Chicago in a single day. And on Boxing Day 2010 a similar amount fell on New York City, which is both next to a large, mild ocean and about as far south as Naples.    People in American cities quite often wake up in the dark - so much snow having fallen in the night that it covers their windows. That never happens here.    Windy? Well, in this category Britain perhaps edges into the meteorological premiership. The record wind speed in the UK was a gust of 177mph in Shetland in 1962. This was quite respectable in global terms, bettering many actual hurricanes. But even here the "storms", such as the ones that washed away Brunel's railway line at Dawlish in south Devon last year, are mild in global terms.    Churchill once remarked that Britain is one of the few places where one can do something pleasant out of doors every single day of the year. We think we suffer biblical rains, forgetting that London receives less precipitation than Paris, Rome and even Algiers. It is rarely too hot; even more rarely too cold. Our summers are warmer and drier than we think they are, our winters milder.    The reality is that nothing disconcerts a Briton more than the remark: "What lovely weather we are having!" What we actually do suffer from is weather-envy. Perhaps we should think of a name for that, rather than pondering the nomenclature of the next afternoon cloudburst.    COMMENT on Michael Hanlon's view at telegraph.co.uk/comment or FOLLOW him on Twitter @MikeHanlon 1964                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-18 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Chinese President's State Visit Has Weighty Agenda and Busy Schedule      By JANE PERLEZ and YUFAN HUANG            Xi Jinping, China's president and Communist Party chief, arrives in the United States next week for his first state visit. For China, a priority will be bolstering Mr. Xi's stature at home, and the events planned should play well on Chinese television. These include meetings in Seattle with American business executives, a 21-gun salute on the White House lawn and a state dinner, followed by Mr. Xi's first speech before the United Nations in New York.    Though common ground may be found on issues like  climate  change, Mr. Xi is expected to yield little on points of contention between the United States and China, including cyberespionage, island-building in disputed areas of the South China Sea, and tightened controls on foreign businesses and nongovernmental organizations operating in China. Here are the details:    The Itinerary    Sept. 22 Mr. Xi lands in Seattle, where he will be welcomed by a delegation that will include the former Washington governors Christine Gregoire and Gary Locke, who is also a former ambassador to China.    In the evening, Mr. Xi will deliver a major policy speech at a dinner for business leaders and other dignitaries, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, sponsored by the National Committee on United States-China Relations and the U.S.-China Business Council.    Sept. 23 Mr. Xi takes part in a round-table discussion with chief executives sponsored by Henry M. Paulson Jr., chairman of the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago and a former Treasury secretary. He will also visit Boeing's factory in Everett, Wash., its largest production site for commercial aircraft. China is a huge Boeing customer.    Mr. Xi will also tour Lincoln High School in Tacoma, which he visited in 1993, when he was an official in Fuzhou in Fujian Province.    [Video: Mr. Xi's connections to the U.S. go back three decades. Watch on YouTube.]    Mr. Xi will attend the U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum, hosted by Microsoft and the Internet Society of China, with Lu Wei, the Chinese official in charge of Internet policy, and guests who could include Robin Li of Baidu, Jack Ma of Alibaba and executives from Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM and Uber.    Sept. 24 Mr. Xi leaves for Washington, where he will have a working dinner at the White House with President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Susan E. Rice, the president's national security adviser.    Sept. 25 Mr. Xi will be greeted with a 21-gun salute at the White House and hold a joint news conference with Mr. Obama. Mr. Kerry and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will host a lunch for him at the State Department. This will be followed by a visit to Capitol Hill to meet with congressional leaders and in the evening a state dinner at the White House.    Sept. 26 Mr. Xi proceeds to New York for events at the United Nations headquarters.    Sept. 27 China and the United Nations are hosting the Global Leaders' Meeting on General Equality and Women's Empowerment: A Commitment to Action, 20 years after the Fourth World Conference on Women was held in Beijing in September 1995. Mr. Xi is scheduled to make opening remarks and to serve as chairman of the first session.    Sept. 28 Mr. Xi speaks at the United Nations' 70th anniversary session. This will be his first speech at the United Nations and will underline China's status as a charter member, a co-founder of the postwar international order and a permanent member of the Security Council.    Mr. Xi leaves the United States later in the day.    The Agenda    The United States sees these three issues as the most important:    Cybersecurity. The Obama administration says the combination of intellectual property theft and espionage by China has reached unprecedented proportions. The United States is contemplating sanctions against Chinese hackers, and to fend these off, a senior Chinese security official visited Washington recently for talks.    The South China Sea. The United States, worried about freedom of navigation in one of the busiest commercial waterways in the world, has told China to stop building artificial islands and to halt construction of military facilities on those islands. China considers itself to have sovereign rights over about 80 percent of the South China Sea. It is unlikely that the two sides will bridge their differences, but they may agree to try to manage them.    China's new national security law. The law, which China says is necessary to meet a range of emerging threats, including terrorism and online espionage, has raised fears that it will infringe on the ability of American businesses to operate in ways to which they are accustomed in a free-market economy, requiring, for example, that information systems be "secure and controllable." Also of concern is related legislation that would require nongovernmental organizations to find official sponsors in China.    China considers these the most pressing issues:    Developing a "great power relationship" with the United States. This goal was announced by Mr. Xi in 2012, when he was still vice president, and is an effort to be treated as an equal with the United States. Washington has resisted this, partly because it would call on the United States to respect what China says are its core interests in places like Tibet and the South China Sea.    Trade and investment in technology sectors by American companies. CCTV, China's state broadcaster, reported that Mr. Xi's visit would improve business ties between the two countries and narrow differences over protectionist policies and online security.    The South China Sea. China also places this high on its agenda but is expected to give little ground on its stand that it has "indisputable" sovereignty over large portions of the waterway.    Previous Encounters    This is not Mr. Xi's first visit to the United States, nor his first meeting with Mr. Obama. As Mr. Obama said in 2013, "President Xi is no stranger to the United States."    In 1985, Mr. Xi, then Communist Party chief of Zhengding County in Hebei Province, toured Iowa as part of an agricultural delegation under a sister state-province program.    In May 2006, as Communist Party secretary of Zhejiang Province, he led a delegation of provincial officials to New York, New Jersey and Washington to promote the province and encourage investment.    In February 2012, Mr. Xi, then China's vice president, visited Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden at the White House. He also stopped in Muscatine, Iowa, where he met with his host family from his 1985 trip, and California, where he took in a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game.    In June 2013, Mr. Xi met informally with Mr. Obama at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, in Rancho Mirage, Calif.    [Video: President Xi Jinping and President Obama held a news conference after their meeting in 2013. Watch on YouTube.]    In November 2014, Mr. Xi met with Mr. Obama during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Beijing and announced an ambitious joint plan to curb the carbon emissions that contribute to  climate  change.    Protocol and Security                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-18 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Cognac's journey from aristocratic tipple to hip-hop star              Before the war, the drink of the British upper classes was a brandy and soda. It was known by the Bright Young Things as a “B  ” The only person I knew who was partial to a “B  ” was my grandfather. It’s hard to imagine him as a BYT, though he did once win a Charleston competition. There’s an exchange between Bertie Wooster and his butler, Jeeves, concerning this most English of drinks in PG Wodehouse’s The Inimitable Jeeves:    “I say, Jeeves,” I said.    ‘Sir?’    ”Mix me a stiffish brandy and soda.”    “Yes, sir.”    “Stiffish, Jeeves. Not too much soda, but splash the brandy about a bit.”    “Very good, sir.”    Cognac would have been the brandy of choice. Its roots lie in the Dutch desire to make wine easier to transport by sea. The answer was distillation. Brandy from the vineyards around the town of Cognac was handy for shipping from Nantes or La Rochelle. Where the Dutch pioneered, the British followed. Thomas Hine was a 16-year-old lad from Devon who was sent to France in 1791 by his father to learn about the cognac business. Five years later he married a local girl, Elisabeth, daughter of a Cognac merchant. He developed links with Britain and proved such a good businessman that he took over his wife’s family’s firm, which changed its name to Thomas Hine  &  Co. The business, still in family hands, produces some remarkable brandies. The magic for me starts with the Rare VSOP which isn’t expensive, for cognac, at about £40 a bottle.    Crucial to this magic is the affinity between the distilled wine and nearby Limousin oak. The  climate  around Cognac, though warmer than Ireland and Scotland, has a similar dampness, allowing for a slow maturation, which leads to a finer spirit. British connoisseurs noted that when the brandy was shipped young in cask and then matured in the colder English  climate  , it was even better. You can still buy a category called “early-landed” – one of the few drinks nowadays still shipped in cask and bottled in England.    From the heyday of Wodehouse, the brandy habit has declined among the British, but it’s now massive among hip-hop types in the US. Courvoisier and Hennessy are the favoured brands. So successful has this unlikely collaboration been that Max Beaulieu, from cognac-expert.com, thinks there should be a statue of Busta Rhymes in Cognac. You should Google Beaulieu’s interview with the writer Nicholas Faith just to hear Faith reciting rap lyrics in his patrician English accent:    “Feel the rage as it stirs behind me, I don’t give a fuck as they don’t give a fuck about me. I keep drinking Hennessy, bustin’ at my enemies.”    That’s from Ja Rule’s So Much Pain.    It’s a long way from Wodehouse.    •  Henry Jeffreys’ first book, Empire of Booze, will be published by Unbound in 2016. @henrygjeffreys                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-07 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Sarah Palin makes pitch to lead – and 'get rid of' – a Trump energy department              Sarah Palin has made a pitch to be named energy secretary under a Donald Trump presidency, saying: “If I were head of that, I’d get rid of it.”    Related: Impact of  climate  change on the Arctic 'scary', says Obama's envoy    The former governor of Alaska and 2008 vice-presidential candidate gave a wide-ranging interview to CNN on Sunday. Now an influential voice in the rightwing media, she has been a vocal supporter of Trump, the billionaire business mogul who leads the 17-strong Republican field for the 2016 presidential nomination.    Asked if she would consider a cabinet position under Trump should he be elected to the White House, Palin said that as “energy is my baby”, she would. She added that her time at the Energy Department would be “a short-term job”.    She also rejected President Obama’s focus on the threat posed by  climate  change, particularly to her state, saying: “I’m not going to blame … changes in the weather on man’s footprint.”    Asked about her hopes for a job under Trump, Palin said: “I think a lot about the Department of Energy because energy is my baby.    “Oil, gas, minerals, those things God has dumped on this part of the earth for mankind’s use instead of us relying on unfriendly foreign nations for us to import their resources.    “I think a lot about the Department of Energy and if I were head of that I’d get rid of it. I’d let the states start having more control over the lands that are within their boundaries and the people that are affected by the developments within their states.    “If I were in charge of that it would be a short-term job, but it would be really great to have someone who knows energy and is pro-responsible development to be in charge.”    Speaking from Wasilla, Alaska, Palin criticised Obama’s visit to her state this week, in which he spoke at length about the threat posed to its inhabitants by  climate  change. She did not address criticism of Obama for treating  climate  change as a central issue of his presidency while allowing drilling for oil in the Arctic circle.    In one speech in Alaska, Obama said “any so-called leader who does not take this issue seriously, or treats it like a joke, is not fit to lead”.    Palin was asked if she took  climate  change seriously.    “I take changes in the weather, the cyclical changes that the globe has undergone since the beginning of time, I take it seriously,” she said. “But I’m not going to blame those changes in the weather on man’s footprint.    “Obama was up here looking at the glaciers, and pointing out a glacier that was receding. Well, there are other glaciers though that are growing up here. He didn’t highlight that.”    Palin added: “These blames on man’s activity, some of that I know is bogus.”    Related: Sarah Palin showers Donald Trump with adoration in 'interview of the year'    Palin said Obama’s visit to her state was “a tourism jaunt, really”, and criticised the president for his attitude to Russia and China, both of which have increased their military presence near Alaska.    “What if he’d carried a big stick instead of a selfie stick?” she said, referring to some of Obama’s activities during his visit.    Palin also rejected criticism of Trump regarding his answers to questions on middle-eastern policy on a conservative radio show this week, saying she didn’t think the public “gave a flying flip” if a presidential candidate could not tell the difference between Iran’s Quds force and the Kurds.    On immigration, Palin responded to a spat between Trump and Jeb Bush over the former Florida governor’s ability to speak Spanish by saying immigrants to the US should speak English first.    “When you’re here, let’s speak American,” she said.                 

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-09-16 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
EY: ministers' attacks on renewables 'lacking rationale'      By Emily Gosden            INVESTORS in nuclear power and shale gas could be deterred by the Government's recent attacks on renewable energy, which lack "any rationale or clear intent", consultancy EY has warned.    Britain has slipped out of EY's top 10 rankings of countries' attractiveness to investors in renewables for the first time, following a series of policy changes to reduce support to onshore wind and solar technologies. The UK is now rated 11th, down three places from the group's last quarterly report, and now lags behind Brazil, Chile and the Netherlands.    EY, formerly known as Ernst  &  Young, claimed the plethora of UK policy announcements in the last three months had not only seen its attractiveness to renewables "plummet" but could also have a knock-on effect on appetite to invest in other parts of the energy sector.    Ben Warren, energy corporate fi-nance leader at EY, said: "Investors are currently trying to make sense of what seems to be policy-making in a vacuum, lacking any rationale or clear intent. Worryingly, this trend of inconsistent policy tinkering could also sour investor confidence in other areas, such as new nuclear, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and shale gas, as well as offshore wind."    Since forming a majority Government - regaining control of the formerly Lib-Dem led Department of Energy and  Climate  Change- the Conservatives have announced subsidy cuts for onshore wind and small-scale solar farms as well as plans to cut subsidies for rooftop solar panels. The Chancellor also ended renewable technologies' exemption from the  Climate  Change Levy - a policy that amounted to another subsidy to green generators.    A DECC spokesman said: "The UK still remains an attractive location for investment in energy and we have continued to be the global leader in off-shore wind investment."              Figure(s) :    AFP/GETTY IMAGES    Onshore wind farms such as the Westmill Wind Farm, near Swindon (above) face cuts             

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-06 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Panasonic criticises 'damaging' cuts to solar panel subsidies              Panasonic, one of the world’s largest electronics companies, has urged the UK government to think again about its plans to cut subsidies for homeowners who install solar panels.    The Japanese company, which is a major supplier of solar panels in Britain, said it normally tried to avoid intervening in political decisions but could not stand by and watch the industry being attacked.    Amber Rudd, the energy and  climate  change secretary, said 10 days ago that she would consult on plans to reduce financial support for solar energy installations in a bid to ease the burden on bill payers.    Related: How will government subsidy cuts impact the UK's solar industry?    Daniel Roca, the UK country manager for the solar division of Panasonic, urged ministers to think again about their proposals, which involve some feed-in tariff subsidies (Fits) being cut by almost 90%.    “Let’s keep [the industry] alive, let’s help it further develop to become fully independent from state support, with energy storage and a closer involvement of utilities. But let’s not push the bird out of the nest before it can properly fly,” he said.    “We therefore urge the UK government to immediately open dialogue with the solar industry during this consultation period to evaluate and significantly reduce and balance these proposed cuts and the substantial damage they will inevitably and irreversibly cause.”    The strong words from Panasonic follow warnings of a wholesale collapse in the industry from the panel installer Solarcentury. The proposed changes to the Fits come shortly after the early phase out of the renewable obligation subsidy, a support mechanism for larger renewable electricity projects.    Related: How the solar panel subsidy cuts will affect you    Frans van den Heuvel, the chief executive of Solarcentury, said: “In little more than three months, the Conservative government has literally turned upside down the certainties which had characterised the UK renewables market and the cross-party consensus that underpinned it.    “If the consultation is enacted, we can expect to see a wholesale collapse in solar take-up by homeowners and businesses... So much for Amber Rudd’s promised ‘solar revolution’ and the former Conservative energy minister’s pledge to put ‘rocket boosters’ under the non-domestic roof sector.”    The solar trade bodies have also been up in arms about the changes, which come on top of plans to reduce or axe aid for onshore wind installations, energy efficiency schemes and a  climate  change levy to encourage renewables.    At the time the solar consultation on Fits was announced, the Department of Energy and  Climate  Change (DECC) defended it as necessary to avoid huge budget overruns. “We are taking urgent action to get a grip of this overspend and protect hardworking bill payers. Our support has driven down the cost of renewable energy significantly,” said a DECC spokeswoman.    “As costs continue to fall and we move towards sustainable electricity investment, it becomes easier for parts of the renewables industry to survive without subsidies.”                 

**** *source_the_new_york_times *date_2015-09-19 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
A Humble Pope, Challenging the World      By JIM YARDLEY; Gaia Pianigiani contributed reporting from Vatican City, and Jonathan Gilbert from Buenos Aires.            VATICAN CITY -- Days after the election of Pope Francis, word reached the Vatican press office that the new pontiff was unexpectedly celebrating morning Mass. Other popes had presided over morning services, too, but as the world (and the Vatican press office) would soon realize, Francis did things his own way.    This Mass was offered in the small chapel of the Vatican guesthouse where Francis had chosen to live -- not, as in years past, at the ornate Apostolic Palace. His audience was not the cardinals of the Roman Curia, but gardeners, janitors and Vatican office workers. And Francis was not merely presiding, as had Pope John Paul II. He was preaching, without notes, as if he were a simple parish priest.    If one with a big message.    "The church asks all of us to change certain things," Francis said during one of his morning homilies, as he invoked a Scripture reading from St. Paul. "She asks us to let go of decadent structures -- they are useless."    The symbolism of the morning services, which Francis now holds four times a week, is clear: a humbler papacy, where the pope is foremost a pastor to the flock, not a king. But a humbler papacy hardly means humbler papal ambitions. Francis is not just trying to change the Roman Catholic Church. He seems determined to change the world.    Popes are expected to challenge society. But Francis, 78, who lands in Cuba on Saturday and prepares to arrive in Washington on Tuesday for his first visit to the United States, has achieved a unique global stature in a short time.    His humble persona has made him immensely popular, a smiling figure plunging into crowds at St. Peter's Square. He speaks in deeply personal terms about people discarded by the global economy, whether refugees drowned at sea or women forced into prostitution. His blistering critiques of environmental destruction have seized the world's attention.    But he is also an inscrutable tactician whose push to change the church has stirred anxiety and hope -- and some skepticism. Many conservatives project their fears onto him. Many liberals assume he is a kindred spirit. Others argue that Francis is less concerned about left or right than he is about reversing the church's declining popularity in Latin America and beyond.    "Francis is a great showman," said Rubén Rufino Dri, a longtime critic of Francis and an emeritus professor of the sociology of religion at the University of Buenos Aires. He added, "His repositioning of the church is paternalistic. It is not a strategy for empowering its followers. This is by no means a revolution."    Francis has not fully revealed his hand. But already his spiritual mission to place the poor at the center of the church has enabled him to thrust it to the center of the global debate on issues such as  climate  change, migration and the post-2008 rethinking of capitalist economics.    To some degree, the question of how Francis will change the church -- and its role in society -- misses the point that much change has already occurred. Doctrine is the same, but Francis has changed its emphasis, projecting a merciful, welcoming tone in a church that had been shattered by clerical sexual abuse scandals and identified with theological rigidity. He has emphasized its historic connection to the destitute while sidelining culture war issues. In turn, his geopolitical influence, and that of the church, has risen.    "He does have a good deal of soft power, and it is not only among Catholics," said Joseph S. Nye Jr., a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School. "Many of the popes have certainly said the words about poverty. But what Francis has been able to do is put a focus on it that isn't blurred or distracted by other things."    His visit to the United States will pose a critical test. His papacy has firmly emphasized the "peripheries" -- both existentially and geographically -- as he has pointedly visited smaller countries like Albania, Sri Lanka, Bosnia, the Philippines, Ecuador and Bolivia. By heading to Washington from Cuba, Francis is repeating his point that the peripheries are connected to the centers of power -- and no country more represents elite economic and political power than the United States.    Through gestures and words, Francis has repeatedly challenged elites, inside the church and out. He has attacked an insular Catholic hierarchy for focusing too much on dogma and "spiritual worldliness," and too little on ordinary people. He has attacked prevailing global economic orthodoxy -- the belief that markets and the pursuit of wealth will lift all boats -- as a false ideology, inadequate for fully addressing the needs of the poor.    In the United States, Francis' biting critiques of the excesses of capitalism -- if ringing true to many people -- have caused discomfort even among some sympathizers and outright disdain from critics, who have called him a Marxist or a Communist. Those who have known Francis for years laugh at those labels, yet they agree that he can be elusive, having refused to be placed neatly inside an ideological box since his early days as a young Jesuit leader in Argentina.    "He delights in confounding categorizations," said Austen Ivereigh, author of the biography "The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope." "There is a sense in which the elites always want to own him, and he's always eluding them."    From the moment he stepped onto the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica and greeted the masses after his unexpected election in March 2013, Francis made history as the first Latin American pope. He even told a joke that night about how "his fellow cardinals" had gone to the "end of the world" to find a pope.    It was a lighthearted reminder of the great distance to his native Argentina from the Vatican. But what now seems clear is that Francis was not only telling a joke. The "end of the world" was a metaphor for the slums, and the worldview of the Latin American church that he was bringing to the Vatican.    So to better understand the pope of gardeners and janitors and the poor, it is best to start in Argentina, where the man who would become Francis was named Jorge Mario Bergoglio.    The Archbishop of the Slums    For many Argentines, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io) was a mystery. When he became archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, he converted the official residence into a hostel for priests and moved into the downtown diocesan office building. He took a small bedroom with a portable heater that he switched on when the building's heating system automatically shut down on weekends. He often cooked himself meals in a small kitchen.    He avoided the limelight, rarely speaking to the media, and spent little time in the affluent parts of the capital. His predecessor as archbishop had courted Argentina's political elites (which led to a later corruption scandal), but Archbishop Bergoglio erected a divide. His focus was Argentina's poor. He created a cadre of priests who worked and lived in the slums of Buenos Aires, and he made regular visits, leading religious processions or saying Mass. Before every Easter, he visited prison inmates or AIDS patients or the elderly.    "His papacy is a clear continuity, above all, in his focus on the poor," said Father Augusto Zampini Davies, who once worked in the Buenos Aires slum of Bajo Boulogne. "The church -- those that appointed him -- wanted a change. And they wanted a change from the periphery. But perhaps what some did not predict is that when somebody starts to see the world from the viewpoint of the poorest, he undergoes a profound transformation."    Francis' grandparents and his father were immigrants from the Piedmont region of Italy who left for opportunity in Argentina, and also to flee Mussolini's fascist regime. They were supposed to travel in October 1927 aboard The Principessa Mafalda, an Italian ocean liner, but fortuitously missed the departure: The ship sank. The family took another vessel and arrived in Buenos Aires, where other Italians and Europeans had immigrated. Less than a decade later, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born.    Jorge's grandmother Rosa was a dominant influence in his life, teaching him Piedmontese-inflected Italian and imbuing him with a love of literature. Among his favorite novels was Alessandro Manzoni's Italian classic "I Promessi Sposi," or "The Betrothed," which he has read at least three times. Mr. Ivereigh, the biographer, argues that Francis' vision of the church as a "field hospital" is influenced by the book's depiction of courageous wartime priests working in a field hospital outside Milan.    As a 16-year-old, Jorge was going to meet friends when he was overcome by an urge to detour into a local basilica in Buenos Aires. "I don't quite know what happened next," Cardinal Bergoglio said during a 2012 radio interview with a community station in a Buenos Aires slum. "I felt like someone grabbed me from inside and took me to the confessional."    The teenager stepped out of the confessional convinced that he would become a priest. And even though his family was deeply Catholic, his mother, Regina, opposed her oldest child entering the priesthood, relenting years later after his Jesuit ordination, when she knelt and asked for his blessing.    Among Catholics, Jesuits are famous as missionaries, intellectuals and educators -- and for often being stubbornly independent, skeptical and politically adept. They helped create modern Argentina but were temporarily dissolved in 1773 by Pope Clement XIV in a pivotal moment in Latin American history: Clement sided with European monarchs trying divvy up South America, while the Jesuits sided with the indigenous populations living in independent communities known as reductions.    For Francis, the transformative event of his early priesthood was the Second Vatican Council, the meetings from 1962 to 1965, which stirred sharp internal debates and ended with the church adopting a new openness. Mass could now be celebrated in native languages, not just Latin, and the church resolved to open unprecedented dialogue with members other faiths, including Jews.    But for many Catholics, the council proved deeply unsettling and politically divisive. By the 1970s, the Jesuits were divided, partly over different interpretations on how to achieve social justice, and the number of new priests dropped sharply. In Argentina, several Jesuits had embraced a Marxist-influenced strain of liberation theology, a Latin American movement calling for structural change to help the poor.    At only 36, Father Bergoglio was placed in charge of Argentina's Jesuits. He would later acknowledge his immaturity for such a position -- and his lack of preparation. But he won a loyal following and was praised for replenishing the numbers of new priests.    However, his hard-nosed style also brought him enemies. He would be dogged for decades by accusations that he failed to protect two priests who were kidnapped and tortured by the brutal military government ruling Argentina during the 1970s -- allegations that have been challenged by biographers and were later refuted by one of the two priests. Among some Jesuits, he was considered an archconservative.    It would not be the last time someone tried to put him into an ideological box.    'Dung of the Devil'    On a Tuesday morning this June, Pope Francis stood inside the chapel of the Santa Marta guesthouse and spoke about poverty and the Gospel. There was a four-month waiting list to attend one of his morning services. And Francis still reserves the service mostly for ordinary people, or missionaries, priests and nuns, but Vatican Radio is allowed to transmit excerpts from his message globally.    His message, not surprisingly, often comes back to poverty. Poverty, Francis noted on June 16, is "a word that always embarrasses." He said it was common to hear complaints that "this priest talks too much about poverty, this bishop speaks of poverty, this Christian, this nun talks about poverty," adding, "Aren't they a little Communist, right?"    Francis' first months as pope were a veritable love-fest: Here was the ordinary-guy pope, paying the bill at the hotel where he stayed before his unexpected election; keeping his plain black shoes instead of red papal slippers; eschewing the papal apartment for rooms in the Vatican guesthouse. He washed the feet of inmates, women and a Muslim. He kissed the head of a grossly disfigured man. He signaled a more welcoming public attitude toward homosexuals by saying, "Who am I to judge?"    Traditionalists grumbled, but Francis had managed, seemingly overnight, to rebrand the church, at least in style. But then the substance started coming, too. He released what amounted to his papal mission statement in November 2013, with the publication of "Evangelii Gaudium," a sweeping 224-page document that many Catholics received as an optimistic call for a tolerant, joyous Catholicism open to the world, and the world's poor. But many capitalists were jolted by Francis' blunt attack on the global economic system as "unjust at its root."    He expanded the theme last June in his landmark environmental encyclical, "Laudato Si'," in which he held rich countries most responsible for  climate  change and obligated them to help poor ones deal with the crisis. Then in a July visit to Bolivia, Francis compared the excesses of capitalism to the "dung of the devil" and apologized for the church's role in Spanish colonialism in Latin America, warning of the "new colonialism" of materialism, inequality and exploitation.    "Once capital becomes an idol and guides people's decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socioeconomic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home," one of Francis' speeches in Bolivia asserted.    To some conservatives in the United States, the Argentine pope seems to be making a frontal assault on the American way. Rush Limbaugh blasted him as a Marxist. Others labeled him a communist or socialist. Some affluent Catholic donors withdrew pledges or expressed discomfort.    "I hope I'm not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don't get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope," Jeb Bush, a Republican presidential candidate and a Catholic, said in response to the environmental encyclical.    The labels rang false to many who knew Francis in Argentina. In Buenos Aires, Francis sharply criticized Marxism, especially as some priests sought to intermingle the dialectics of violent class struggle with the social justice goals of Catholic teaching. Later, he sharply criticized the neo-liberal belief that market economics were a cure-all for the poor.    "He is very critical of ideology because ideologies come from intellectuals and politicians who want to manipulate the hearts of the people," said Guzmán Carriquiry Lecour, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and a longtime friend of the pope. "For him, ideologies hide and defame reality."    During the 1970s, Francis instead embraced an Argentine derivation of liberation theology, which was known as the theology of the people. It focused on native culture and Argentine traditions, an implicit rejection of the colonialist legacy. Faith derived from the poor, the theology argued, and the poor were central to Christianity. Unlike systems contrived by elites or intellectuals, the Gospel was for everyone.    "They didn't want to use liberal or Marxist lenses, so they looked for another type of theory to explain Latin American and Argentine society by looking to our history," said Father Juan Carlos Scannone, an Argentine Jesuit and prominent proponent of the theology. "I wouldn't say that Francis is a people's theologian, but he has certainly been strongly influenced by it."    Economic upheaval has convulsed Argentina for much of the past century. As a child, Francis grew up knowing that his grandparents and other relatives in Argentina had been deeply affected by the global ripples of the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression. During Francis' childhood in the 1940s, Argentina's Catholic Church was nationalistic and closely identified with the political movement known as Perónism, after Gen. Juan Domingo Perón.    Over decades, Perónism would mutate, blending populism, authoritarianism and nationalism, with Perón ultimately splitting from the Catholic Church. As a young priest during the military dictatorship in 1971, Francis ministered to the Iron Guard, a worker-based social justice group working for the return of Perón, who had been exiled to Spain.    Mr. Ivereigh, the biographer, argues that Francis eventually rejected political ideologies and focused on the pueblo fiel -- the faithful -- while becoming increasingly outspoken against politicians, whom he thought did too little for the poor. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis mobilized the church in response to Argentina's economic crisis of 2001-02, expanding the number of priests assigned to the slums, opening food kitchens and opening schools, clinics and drug rehab centers as state services receded.    He also castigated Argentina's political leaders during the traditional Te Deum service, often with the president in attendance. (The service coincides with Argentina's anniversary of the May Revolution, a precursor to national independence.)    His rebukes would infuriate different leaders, including former President Néstor Kirchner. His critics argued that he was interfering in secular affairs and playing his own political games.    "He takes risks," said Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a Jewish leader in Buenos Aires and a close friend to the pope. "He doesn't stay in a comfortable position."    Archbishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, an Argentine who has served in the Vatican for more than 40 years, said Francis is not condemning capitalism in total, but he is criticizing the indifference it fosters toward the poor.    "The pope, of course, doesn't have a solution -- the economic solution," said Monsignor Sánchez Sorondo, who is chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. "But the pope is like a light on the street to say: 'This is not the way. This way sacrifices many people and leaves many people excluded."'    He added, "The pope is concerned that the plutocracy is destroying democracy."    Ken Hackett, the United States ambassador to the Holy See, argues that Francis' economic views have been wrongly simplified and scoffs at the suggestion that the pope is a socialist as "a naïve characterization."    Mr. Hackett added: "I don't think he hates capitalism. I think he hates the excesses."    To a degree, Francis seems to be lashing out against the contemporary primacy of economics over faith. He believes the answers are found with the Gospel, not with Adam Smith or Karl Marx.    'Europe Was Over'    Inside the grandiose marble nave of St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican hierarchy seemed neatly aligned as Francis celebrated his first World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation on Sept. 1. Cardinals sat in the front rows, draped in red, followed by the bishops in purple. Priests and missionaries came next, and then pilgrims and tourists. In front of Bernini's iconic baldacchino altarpiece, a priest slowly swung a censer, sending puffs of incense into the air.    Francis sat on a white chair on a raised burgundy dais, while a Capuchin monk offered a homily on the environment. As tourists pointed cellphones at the altar, the ritual, grandeur and continuity of the service -- and the sheer weight of gold leaf and marble in the basilica -- seemed to make a mockery of Francis' goal to create "a poor church of the poor."    His fellow cardinals elected Francis partly because they wanted him to put the Vatican in order after the scandals and bureaucratic dysfunction that preceded the stunning resignation of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, in February 2013.    Since then, Francis has devolved some powers outside the Vatican to a de facto cabinet of nine cardinals from around the world, known as the C9. He has appointed the blunt-spoken Australian George Pell to lead a new economy secretariat charged with putting Vatican finances in order. He has created a new commission to address the clerical sexual abuse crisis. Another panel has helped formulate the recent reforms to Catholic rules on marriage annulments. And still another commission has been charged with modernizing and consolidating the Vatican's sprawling communications operations.    However, Francis' reforms are incomplete, and many advocates for sex-abuse victims say he has still failed to fully confront the crisis. But the change he speaks about most often is the one stirring the most resistance: reshaping the pastoral approach of the church and the application of church doctrine.    "The doctrine has to evolve over time, or it is not doctrine," said Father Humberto Miguel Yañez, a Jesuit moral theologian at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and a former Bergoglio protégé in Argentina. "The doctrine is the transmission of the Gospel. To transmit the Gospel, you have to get in touch with contemporary culture. Every era has its own problems. Things don't stay the same."    Internal church warfare hews to a language of its own, and many reformers hope that Francis' repeated emphasis of themes like "mercy" and "openness" signals that he is preparing to redirect Catholic teaching on gays, the divorced and remarried, unmarried couples and other divisive social issues.    No one doubts that an ideological struggle is underway over what constitutes "family," which is the subject of a major Vatican meeting, known as a synod, in October. An earlier meeting of cardinals grew contentious as factions argued sharply about how accommodating the church should be. Conservatives suspicious that the Argentine pope wants to water down doctrine are still pushing back. Last Tuesday, 11 cardinals published a book in the United States warning that the church should not dilute its rules prohibiting divorced and remarried Catholics from receiving communion.    This year, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, who is the Vatican's doctrinal enforcer as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told a French Catholic newspaper that his office would expand its writ "to provide theological structure" to the papacy because Francis was more a pastor than a theologian. Many interpreted his comments not only as patronizing, but also as an open attempt to rein in the Argentine pope.    Conservatives in the United States have been especially outspoken, led by Cardinal Raymond Burke of Wisconsin, who has been sidelined by Francis. Meanwhile, the German newspaper Die Zeit recently reported that some Vatican officials are circulating a seven-page dossier detailing frustration and anger over the reforms enacted this month by Francis to make the process of obtaining an annulment faster and simpler. The officials accuse the pope of diluting dogma and creating a "Catholic divorce."    Francis has always had enemies in Argentina and at the Vatican, including some who sought to discredit him during the 2005 conclave in which he finished second to Benedict in the selection of a new pope. But many analysts and Vatican officials say the current friction is also about institutional change -- and the deliberate ambiguity of a pope who has created new structures even as many of the old ones remain in place.    "Those who might have considered themselves insiders in the previous regime don't know how the new one is functioning," said one senior Vatican official who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly. "For the pope, it is a way of keeping his own autonomy. People just don't know where he's coming from, or who his closest advisers are."    After Benedict's resignation, many pundits predicted the election of a pope from Latin America, home to 40 percent of the world's Catholics. But doing so has meant more than checking a demographic box. Francis arrived bearing the worldview of a Latin American church that, over recent decades, had developed its own brand of Catholicism.    That vision was expressed most clearly in 2007, when Latin American bishops met at a Marian shrine in Aparecida, Brazil. There, they produced an agenda to evangelize in the streets; to prioritize migrants, the poor, the sick and those on society's margins; to embrace popular religion, or how ordinary people worship; and to promote environmental protection.    The chief editor of the document? Francis. He would take the "Aparecida Document" with him to Rome as a blueprint for his papacy.    "Europe was over," said Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family. "It had no more energy, not even to produce a pope. That is why the pope could only come from Latin America. Not from Africa, not from Asia -- they weren't ready yet."    The Mona Lisa    Francis is practicing his English. Friends, diplomats and others say he has written his address to Congress and is concentrating on the delivery. He speaks native Spanish, fluent Italian and is conversant in German and French, but friends say he is uncomfortable speaking English. Yet he does not want his pronunciation to interfere with his message, so he is practicing.    "He is aware of the importance of this trip," Monsignor Paglia said. "He is getting ready, with an extreme zeal."    The United States is preparing, too. Activist groups promoting different social causes have been going to Philadelphia in advance of Francis' appearance. Panels have been convened in Washington and elsewhere to plumb the Francis agenda, the Francis psyche, the "Francis Effect."    In Argentina, some people still struggle to recognize the joyous Francis at St. Peter's Square as the same seemingly dour man who once led the church in Buenos Aires. There, he kept a deliberately low profile and avoided the news media, other than a handful of trusted journalists. As a young Jesuit, Archbishop Bergoglio was known for his "pious long face," according to Mr. Ivereigh's biography. He was sometimes called "La Gioconda," after the Mona Lisa and her enigmatic smile.    "In some ways, such as his relationship with the media, or his smile, he has changed a bit," said Father Yañez, the moral theologian. "But I see the same person and the same coherence."    Francis has blamed himself for some past conflicts in Argentina, especially with his fellow Jesuits (with whom he has reconciled as pope). In a lengthy 2013 interview with Father Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit, Francis said his "authoritarian and quick manner of making decisions" as a young Jesuit led him to being wrongly labeled an ultraconservative. "I've never been a right-winger," he added, in the interview that was published in Jesuit magazines around the world.    But he is hardly a left-winger, either -- at least in the political context of the United States. Even as some of his social and economic views have inspired the American left, he strongly opposes abortion and believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.    "People project their aspirations onto him," the senior Vatican official said. "Some people might have hopes raised that are not going to be fully realized. For some people, there might be an expectation that there might be a lot of institutional change on things like gay marriage or ordination of women."    Francis does not seem to mind the contradictions, or even regard them as such. He has encouraged open discussion -- even criticism -- in advance of the synod in October. He seems determined to open up the church, yet he has not disclosed the exact path he wants the church to follow.    But everyone who knows him agrees that Francis, ultimately, will make a decision. Then the popular, enigmatic pope will show his hand.              Figure(s) :      PHOTOS: Pope Francis at the Vatican in February. Francis, 78, lands in Cuba on Saturday and in the United States on Tuesday. (PHOTOGRAPH BY OSSERVATORE ROMANO, VIA REUTERS) (A1); From left, an undated photo of a young Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was born in Buenos Aires in 1936 to immigrant parents from Italy; posing for a family portrait shortly after being ordained; and at the pulpit. Father Bergoglio was placed in charge of Argentina's Jesuits when he was only 36. (PHOTOGRAPHS BY JESUIT GENERAL CURIA, VIA GETTY IMAGES; GAMMA-RAPHO, VIA GETTY IMAGES); Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio on the subway in Buenos Aires in 2008. He often avoided the limelight. (PHOTOGRAPH BY PABLO LEGUIZAMON/ASSOCIATED PRESS); Left, Cardinal Bergoglio in 2008 in Buenos Aires. Center, his bedroom at Colegio Máximo de San José, where he studied to become a priest. Right, Pope Francis during a papal audience in St. Peter's Square 2013. (PHOTOGRAPHS BY ASSOCIATED PRESS; GRUPO44/LATINCONTENT, VIA GETTY IMAGES; REX FEATURES, VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS); Cardinal Bergoglio speaking at a drug rehabilitation center in Bajo Flores in Buenos Aires in 2011. (PHOTOGRAPH BY FERNANDO MASSOBRIO/ASSOCIATED PRESS) (A6); Francis riding in his popemobile in July in Paraguay. When he became pope, he arrived bearing the worldview of a Latin American church that had developed its own brand of Catholicism. (PHOTOGRAPH BY NATACHA PISARENKO/ASSOCIATED PRESS); Bishops at the beatification ceremony of Pope Paul VI in October 2014 at St. Peter's Square. (PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW MEDICHINI/ASSOCIATED PRESS) (A7)             

**** *source_the_daily_telegraph_london *date_2015-09-03 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Carbon capture jackpot that could get Britain making things again      AMBROSE EVANS-PRITCHARD VIEWPOINT            The energy sheikhs of the next generation will not be those who control vast reserves of oil, gas or coal. Sweeping  climate  rules are about to turn the calculus upside-down.    Greater riches will accrue to those best able to capture carbon as it is burned, and then transport it through a network of pipelines and store it cheaply a mile underground. As it happens, Britain is perfectly placed to win the jackpot of the 21st century.    China and the US - the CO2 giants - have already reached a far-reaching deal to curb greenhouse gases. China has pledged to cap total emissions by 2030. Mexico has gone further, and Gabon further yet. The North-South conflict that doomed the Copenhagen summit in 2009 has given way to a more subtle mosaic of interests.    There is a high likelihood the world will agree to legally-binding rules at the COP 21  climate  talks in Paris in December. As a matter of economics, it makes no difference whether or not you accept the hypothesis of manmade global warming. The political argument has been settled.    The compromise will fall far short of capping carbon emissions at 3,000 gigatonnes, the outer limit deemed necessary to stop temperatures rising by more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.    But it will probably usher in some sort of regime that puts a "non-trivial" price on burning carbon, the first of several escalating accords.    "I don't think people have fully realised that there is a finite budget, and when it's used up, that's it," said Professor Jon Gibbins from Edinburgh University.    A new report by Cititgroup states that an ambitious COP 21 implies that a third of global oil reserves, half the gas and 80pc of coal cannot be burned, unless carbon capture and storage (CCS) comes to the rescue. It will.    Carbon capture has long been dismissed as a pipe-dream. But the facts on the ground are rapidly pulling ahead of a stale narrative.    The Canadian utility SaskPower has retro-fitted a filtering system onto a 110 megawatt coal-fired plant at Boundary Dam, extracting 90pc of the CO2 at a tolerable cost.    "We didn't intend to build the first one in the world, but everybody else quit," said Mike Monea, the head of the project. "We have learned so much from the design flaws that we could cut 30pc off the cost of the next plant, but it is already as competitive as gas in Asia," he said. Visitors having been flocking to the plant, especially the Chinese, but also British officials.    The project elicits equal fury from  climate  sceptics and militant greens. They complain that it was heavily subsidised. But this tells us nothing about relative costs. Wind, solar and nuclear all receive subsidies.    Britain is poised to take the lead in Europe, approving two CCS projects later this year with a £1bn grant. One will be a retro-fit on a gas-fired plant at Peterhead in Scotland. The CO2 will be sent through the Golden Eye pipeline to storage sites below the North Sea. The other will be Drax's White Rose plant in Yorkshire, a purpose-built 448 megawatt "oxyfuel" plant for coal. With biomass, it promises negative carbon emissions. Bill Spence, the Shell executive leading the Peterhead project, said renewables have had a 20-year head-start over carbon capture but there will now be a "race down the cost-curve". The take-off point will be around 2030. "We think costs will be significantly less than offshore wind," he said.    If so, it is far from clear why the UK should commit to nuclear power stations beyond the two hideously expensive plants at Hinkley Point.    This breakthrough in CCS is a gift to Britain. The UK is alone among the big EU states - it has the pipelines and North Sea storage. The Europeans mostly refuse to store carbon on land, supposedly because leaks in low-lying areas could be (slightly) hazardous, and they lack the used wells that make the cheapest depositories.    Carbon capture is a double bonanza.    CO2 in the right place is itself valuable.    It can be injected into depleted fields to extract more oil and gas, a process known as enhanced oil recovery (EOR). "We could keep North Sea production going for another 100 years," said Prof Gibbins.    Once carbon prices reach a critical level - some say $50 a tonne - the UK should be able to generate power more cheaply than Europe for decades.    "Access to storage will be much more valuable than the fossil fuels themselves. Teesside could become Europe's leading hub of energyintensive industries," Prof Gibbins added.    The Teesside Collective is angling to do exactly that. The Tees Valley is home to 58pc of the Britain's chemical industry, and one of its largest clusters of steel. Five of the UK's top 25 CO2-emitting plants are packed there together. All can be fitted with CCS and linked to the storage network, gaining a competitive edge.    There is an elegant symmetry to this. Teesside was once at the heart of the industrial revolution, fed by coal from the Yorkshire mines, only to be written off in the 1980s. It now has every chance to lead a manufacturing renaissance, the answer to US shale.    Coal producers see carbon capture as their saviour. "It is essential. Coal has not been given the same policy treatment as renewables in Europe and America," said Ben Sporton, head of the World Coal Association. He said Britain was unique among the major countries in restoring parity through a "contract for difference".    Greens are in a quandary. Hostility to coal is so deeply lodged in their political DNA that it is hard to smile and embrace brown lignite as a potential friend. A report by Oxford University warned that continuing to burn coal with CCS would lead to the capture of 125 gigatons of CO2 by 2050, blocking up the disused wells that may one day be needed for emergency storage. Better to switch to renewables, and never burn the stuff.    Yet best can be enemy of the good.    The UN's  climate  panel warns that emissions cannot be checked without CCS on a huge scale. Greens may have to grit their teeth and settle for what is in their eyes a dirty compromise.    David Cameron saw the strategic prize of CCS long before most. Critics accuse him of frittering away money on Notting Hill obsessions with  climate  change. In reality, his canny carbon instincts may prove his richest legacy to the country.    One day, Britain may even balance its trade, and make things again.    'We could keep North Sea oil production going for another 100 years'              Figure(s) :    ALAMY STOCK PHOTO    The Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal-fired power station near Nottingham, Leics. Carbon capture technology could revolutionise the prospects of such facilities             

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-11 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Chris Packham: ‘It has a psychopathic element, taking pleasure from killing’              Related: Countryside Alliance urges BBC to sack Chris Packham in conservation row    Even though it started over a hen harrier – and there will be those of us, shamingly, who don’t know what one of those looks like – there was something quintessential about the row that broke out this week between Chris Packham, hero of Springwatch, and the Countryside Alliance, champions of blood sports. Packham wrote a column in the BBC’s Wildlife magazine in which he criticised wildlife charities for being too meek. Frankly, it could have been said by anybody, of whatever political stamp, about any charity; they’re all way too meek about everything. But he was making a specific point, which he elaborated to me, on his garden bench near Southampton, looking out on to a view so perfect that I had the sense of imminent disaster. “The way the wildlife NGOs evolved is that they were instigated by people who had split interests. They were interested in country pursuits – shooting, hunting, fishing, farming – and also natural history. And they were brilliant natural historians with a genuine desire to protect that legacy. We should no longer be sleeping with these people, but we should be in constructive dialogue with them. We need to move on.”    Or, if I can precis that: “Conservationists might sometimes – and ought to – disagree with people who go around killing things.” It’s just about as uncontroversial as an opinion gets (in my opinion). The Countryside Alliance responded that he should be fired by the BBC, on the basis that, said chief executive Tim Bonner: “This is the clearest possible abuse of the position the BBC has given Chris Packham, and as it is an ongoing behaviour, rather than an isolated incident, it is difficult to see how the situation can change.” This is textbook modern politics: person on the progressive side says a plausible, not particularly controversial thing; person of a more authoritarian bent responds hysterically, with  ad hominem  attack and wild exaggeration of the original position; anybody not intricately connected to the argument, or without the time and inclination to become so, just assumes both sides are mad and slopes off; the entire conversation has been debased, enough mud slung that nobody’s features are distinguishable.    Packham is not angry; he is very insistent on this point. He is very open in an endearing, nerdy way, and describes himself the way he describes badger poo or the mighty goshawk, with precision and care, as a kind of respectful observer. It’s just not in his nature: “If I’m angry personally, say with my stepdaughter, or my partner – there’s always friction in human relationships – I never speak about it. I wait until the anger has passed, and then I’ll speak about it.” And yet, you could forgive him for sounding a little bit … erm … frustrated. “What’s insidious and what’s contrived, and potentially dangerous, is the attempt to brand me as someone who’s spouting blatantly political propaganda, and someone who’s an animal rights extremist. When I’m accused of spreading propaganda on the BBC, that simply isn’t true, for two reasons. One, I wouldn’t compromise its values when I believe in them so strongly myself, and two, because I don’t need to use propaganda. I will use scientifically researched fact as the basis for proper argument. People who use propaganda are people who need to pervert the truth. I don’t need to. And they’ve called me this week an animal rights extremist, which is very clearly not true, either. These tags, if they can get them to stick …”    He tails off; everybody knows what happens if these tags stick to you. One minute you have a TV career, the next you can’t get arrested. He’s already had his wilderness years – between 1995, when The Really Wild Show ended, and 2009, when he was brought back to the BBC to present Springwatch. I don’t know if you’d call it “wilderness” exactly, but he spent long enough as an independent film-maker, only appearing intermittently himself, to have a sense of purpose unconnected to his public profile. It would be the most almighty triumph for the voices of unreason, were the BBC ever to succumb to the pressure of sacking a conservationist because a pressure group had made him sound like an 1980s renegade who breaks into mink farms and hates respectability.    In fact, there is little danger of that: the BBC has a body called Editorial Policy, which has agreed with Packham already what he can say without compromising its impartiality. While he will notify them if he’s doing a hen harrier campaign event – to draw attention to their illegal killing – it’s not as though he is constantly on eggshells. “There’s a constant dialogue between us, which means we’re sticking to the rules that we’ve evolved over time. As long as I don’t break them, I’ve no reason to suspect that I’ve done anything wrong. I’m embarrassed that they have to do work on my behalf to defend what I do. I feel guilty that they’re being forced to waste their time. But it isn’t a lot of time, because basically, as long as I behave myself, they can send out the same statement they sent out before, which is that I’m behaving myself.”    Related: Chris Packham slams 'shameful' silence of Britain's conservation charities    I wonder if he ever feels constrained by the BBC’s own interpretation of impartiality, which in my view is often not so much impartial as just making sure that, whenever anyone says anything sensible, there’s some idiot in the opposite corner to contradict them. I was thinking specifically of  climate  change, but there, Packham says, the policy has changed. “Once we were, whatever it is, 97.524% happy that we are responsible for exacerbating  climate  change, we no longer had to have a voice of opposition. It’s interesting, when you have a debate, how far to the wrong end do you get before you don’t have to listen?” But he is much more patient than me about the need for the sceptics in the first place. “Better over-cautious than not. I would rather sit and curse at someone who is very clearly wrong, and have the opportunity to do that, than feel that I was being blindfolded by some doctrine where there was no voice of opposition. I prefer the comfort of that.”    At this point in our conversation, Packham’s 12-year-old poodle leapt off the bench, banging his head on the way, objecting pointlessly to some sheep he’s lived next to every day of his life. There are horses at the back of Packham’s property and badgers, too, that he feeds every night. He showed me one of their poos, elegantly replacing the word “poo” with “stuff”, and said he could tell it came from a badger, not a dog, because of the rosehip in it. He once rigged up a night-time camera to watch fox cubs playing without disturbing them. Before he even went to university – he graduated in 1983 from Southampton, with a degree in zoology – he had been commissioned by the Natural Conservancy Council to conduct a study of badgers in the New Forest, and how they were affected by foxhunting. In a way, the caricature that would offend me, if I were him, is the one where he’s just a TV presenter, so by definition his views are quite shallow.    Plenty of people love animals, but you don’t meet very many who see them as equals, whose interest in mammals and their habits is so profound. And if you think that’s intense, you should get him on birds. “If you were to ask me on a superficial level, I prefer birds to mammals. I like feathers better than fur, I think eggs are neater than placental matter, I like things that fly rather than things that walk, and for me – this is a subjective thing – they’re a more beautiful organism. But what you get to the point of understanding is that no species exists in isolation, and the true beauty is the way that it interacts with all of the other species in its community.” He gestures to his ridiculously beautiful view, over a rectangle of carefully planted wild flowers, in muted mauves, to attract the bees. “The beauty of this is not those oak trees or the goshawk that’s probably in there hunting something at the moment, which is an extraordinary bird, and a powerful, gripping presence, a real enigma. It’s the relationship between the goshawk and the oak tree that is more beautiful. And that’s what switches you on to conservation, the fragility of this system. It’s not all about the rarity or abundance of these species, it’s about how the rarity is impacting on the community and its health.”    It is strange, once you upturn one rock in conservationism, to see how many fights there are in the landscape, new and old. A new one is the badger cull, incompetently executed on poor advice. I almost don’t want to bring it up, once I’ve heard his long history with the badger, but I do, and he describes the situation soberly. “There are economic reasons against it – it costs £7,000 to kill a badger. There are welfare reasons – we know that they suffer. But I stick to the fact that the scientific data we have [says] that culling is ineffective in dealing with bovine TB. I don’t need to stray from that. This is the wrong thing to do because the science says it’s the wrong thing to do. Whatever party is in government, that’s not going to affect the science.”    Related: The BBC should treasure Chris Packham, not sack him    Foxhunting, incredibly, has resurfaced as an issue, and here, Packham looks genuinely pained. “I don’t understand it, I suppose. That’s the bottom line. To me, it has to have a psychopathic element, if you’re taking pleasure from killing things, just for that pleasure. If you’re going to eat it, if you’re culling an animal that is otherwise damaging the environment because it’s too abundant, I have no problem with killing animals. But if you have no reason but pleasure, then that surely is psychopathic.” But he is adamant that the list of things he doesn’t object to is a lot longer than people give him credit for. He only minds some forms of shooting: driven grouse shooting; woodcocks, which are on a very fast decline; hen harriers, which are a protected species. He is an ally, not an enemy, of British farming. “I’ve always stood up for British farmers. They govern 86% of this land surface. I want to be working with the farming fraternity all of my life – to brand me as anti-farming is the most ludicrous thing.” Perhaps most surprising is his take on  climate  change.    “Of course, I fear the impacts of  climate  change, but I know that life and humans are hugely adaptable. It’s a process that we are forcing unnaturally, but the tenacity of life means we will adapt to it. Human population is more immediately dangerous, because that’s a question of resources running out. You can’t adapt to a lack of food, a lack of water. There’s nothing you can do to get round that.” In fact, he doesn’t go for big, named threats, doom-calling, dread-provoking, but two things trouble him: “The biggest handicap that conservation faces is that we humans still consider ourselves to be separate from the rest of life, and the rest of life is merely there to support us. It is infantile arrogance. How can anyone think we’re in some way abiotic? It’s nonsense. If I were to say, for instance, there was a parity of importance between myself and something living out in the woods, people wouldn’t understand that because we’re conditioned culturally and socially to think that we are the most important thing.” And on a personal note: “Look, on my watch, most of the habitats and species in the UK have gone through considerable decline. I’m embarrassed and I feel dejected and impotent on that account. I’ve failed to achieve what I wanted to do.” You can see the dejection momentarily on his lively, weirdly young-looking face (he’s 52, looks 39), but it passes. “So obviously I’m going to try harder while I still have the time.”                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-08-30 *am_2015-08 *annee_2015 
The government’s efforts to kill off the solar industry and lead us to fracking hell              On 29 June the Department of Energy and  Climate  Change told me, on behalf of Amber Rudd, that “as you may know the government’s position remains that we are committed to seeing solar PV, including wide-scale deployment across community homes and rooftops”. On 7 July 2015 I held a party at the Oxford Ecohouse, with its 1995 first solar roof in Britain, to celebrate one million solar homes built in Britain in 20 years. DECC is now proposing to cut the feed-in tariff rates for solar PV installations by as much as 87% ( Plans for 87% solar subsidy cut ‘could kill the industry’, 28 August). Big Energy and DECC have realised that if everyone generates their own electricity and heats their water with solar systems, there will be no markets for nuclear electricity and fracked gas. No wonder they are determined to kill off the solar industry. Solar power is citizen power, so – if you do not want a toxic nuclear future or degraded fracked landscapes and lives – keep building those solar roofs, because each single one is a footstep to a cleaner, safer, freer energy future.    Professor Sue Roaf  Edinburgh  • Hack away at subsidies for householders who install solar panels? Kill off a promising industry that could have delivered many much-needed and decent jobs – jobs that could even have helped us meet  climate  change targets? Remove support for budding small and medium-sized enterprises?    The choices made by this government point to their support for one thing: fracking. Fracking will not see our bills reduced. It will not deliver energy security, nor will it create a significant number of jobs. What it will do is accelerate  climate  change and pollute our environment even more. The choices made by this government do not benefit people, planet or place – just private capital.    Jean Lambert MEP  Green party, London                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-10 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
UK backing bid by fossil fuel firms to kill new EU fracking controls, letters reveal              The UK government has added its weight to a behind-the-scenes lobbying drive by oil and gas firms including BP, Chevron, Shell and ExxonMobil to persuade EU leaders to scrap a series of environmental safety measures for fracking, according to leaked letters seen by the Guardian.    The deregulatory push against safety measures, which could include the monitoring of on-site methane leaks and capture of gases and volatile compounds that might otherwise be vented, appears to go against assurances from David Cameron that fracking would only be safe “if properly regulated”.    In a comment piece in 2013 the prime minister wrote: “We must make the case that fracking is safe... the regulatory system in this country is one of the most stringent in the world.”    But UK government sources say that any new form of industry controls would be “an unnecessary restriction on the UK oil and gas industry”.    An intense backroom battle is now brewing over the measure, which would mandate the use of best available technologies and risk management procedures (or ‘Brefs’) when fracking for shale gas, or other hydrocarbons.    In their letter to the commission’s second most powerful official, vice-president Frans Timmermans, the oil and gas moguls say that the proposal would be cumbersome, time-consuming and “of such little perceived value [that it] is very hard to justify, especially at a time of intense focus on safety, cost and efficiency of day-to-day operations.”    “We urge you to intervene and... withdraw this proposal which, if it were to go ahead, would seriously exacerbate an already ailing investment  climate  for producing oil and gas within Europe,” says the letter, which is dated 17 July, and signed by nine company presidents, directors and board members.    The industry chiefs from firms which also include ConocoPhillips, Statoil, Petrobas, Total, and HSE, promised to elaborate on their concerns in a private meeting with Timmermans.    “While the fracking industry and UK government reassure the public of their commitment to safety standards, behind the scenes they’re fighting tooth and nail to avoid any kind of oversight,” said Antoine Simon, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth Europe.    “Such a cavalier approach is shocking given this dirty industry’s destructive impacts on people and the planet. We need an outright fracking ban.”    EU officials contacted by the Guardian said that the EU would press ahead with the proposal regardless. A first meeting of national experts is planned on 13October, ahead of a final proposal in May 2018.    But any new proposal will now be closely monitored by Timmermans, who has been the driving force behind the Juncker commission’s ‘better regulation’ agenda for minimising environmental, health and social legislation. This was devised with one eye on placatingeurosceptic setiment in the UK.    A spokesperson for the Department of Energy and  Climate  Change said: “We support the Better Regulation agenda, but would work with the European commission to avoid any unnecessary red tape that could come in from further regulations. The regulatory regime for oil and gas in the UK is recognised as one of the best in the world.”    Technically, the new measure does not constitute a ‘regulation’. A bid to introduce legally-binding EU-wide restraints on shale gas production was defeated last year, after intense lobbying by David Cameron.    But in a separate lobby missive in April, the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers [IOGP], whose members produce over half of the EU’s oil and gas, argued that the Bref would be a backdoor statute, in all but name.    “IOGP is growing increasingly concerned at the apparent proliferation of Bref initiatives as an alternative way of regulating industry,” the group’s director, Roland Festor wrote in a letter to EU diplomats, obtained by the Guardian.    Other Brefs covering issues such as air pollution limits for power plants have been staunchly resisted by the UK and major power utilities, because of the potential court actions and fines that could be brought under the EU’s industrial emissions directive.    The proposed fracking Bref lacks the legal basis of a directive but “it could nevertheless be binding because of the references to ‘best practices’ that can be found in operating licenses in [EU] member states,” Fester said.    “The hydrocarbons Bref would represent unnecessary over-regulation, would lead to significant regulatory uncertainty over a sustained period and would lead to a new and prescriptive way of regulating the European oil and gas industry,” he added. “We are therefore calling for the hydrocarbon Bref to be stopped.”    Environmentalists though claimed the letter as evidence of hypocrisy, as the industry group’s public statements had previously lauded the role that “good industry practices” and “proven and reliable technologies” could play in minimising environmental risks.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-10 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Edible water bottle to cause a splash at EU sustainability awards              An edible alternative to plastic water bottles made from seaweed has topped the UK round of an EU competition for new, more sustainable products.    The new spherical form of packaging, called Ooho and described by its makers as “water you can eat”, is biodegradeable, hygenic and costs 1p per unit to make. It is made chiefly from calcium chloride and a seaweed derivative called sodium alginate.    Ooho won the joint award with Alchemie Technologie, who have created a digital way of dispensing dye for the textile industry. Clothes are dyed selectively using a product similar to an industrial inkjet printer, replacing the full immersion process used currently, which consumes vast quantities of chemicals, water and heat.    Both companies take home €20,000 of investment from the competition run by  Climate  KIC, created by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the EU body tasked with galvanising the transformation to a sustainable economy. They will go on to compete against entrepreneurs from across Europe.    Related: Selfridges bans plastic water bottles in oceans conservation initiative    With global sales of packaged water hitting 223bn litres this year, Ian Ellerington, Director of Science and Innovation at the UK Department of Energy and  Climate  Change and one of the judges of the competition, told the Guardian:    “[Ooho] is a good replacement packaging that would be really widely applicable across lots of different products. The potential for packaging reduction is really high for one of the petroleum products used across the world.”    Ooho designer Pierre Paslier, described the product as like a “man-made fruit”, which uses a double membrane to contain water. To carry larger quantities of water, a number of the capsules can be packed into a larger and thicker skin: much like an orange.    He told the Guardian: “At the end of the day you don’t have to eat it. But the edible part shows how natural it is. People are really enthusiastic about the fact that you can create a material for packaging matter that is so harmless that you can eat it.”    He added: “So many things are wrong about plastic bottles: the time they take to decompose, the amount of energy that goes into making them and the fact we are using more and more.”    Investors are showing an increasing interest in clean technologies, with the global market soaring to £205bn ($310bn) in 2014, a 16% increase. In June, the world’s richest man and Microsoft founder Bill Gates pledged to invest $2bn in breakthrough renewable technologies.    Another finalist presented a cloud-based software system that enables the National Grid to pay people not to use energy at times of peak demand. It is designed to work with household water boilers, solar powered batteries, electric vehicles or the back-up power supplies used by many businesses for appliances from computers to traffic lights. They are using the technology to work with electric car company Tesla to help make their home power storage batteries more financially viable for consumers.    Graham Oakes CEO and founder of Upside Energy said the solution is “a win for just about everybody except the coal miners.”    The company believes the product will be on the market by 2017, with pilot schemes planned for next year. They are aiming to save 500MW of battery hours by 2025, equivalent to 1% of peak load in winter or creating a medium-sized power station.    Oakes says the system works automatically and will “help people to do the right thing without having to change their behaviour”.    Other finalists presented a water purifier that captures energy from solar panels, an index that allows investors to track their financial exposure to carbon and a process that uses bio tanks to create paper from waste straw instead of trees. Entries were showcased on Wednesday at the Science Museum in London.                 

**** *source_the_guardian_uk *date_2015-09-22 *am_2015-09 *annee_2015 
Jeremy Hunt’s hit squad is a danger to our national health              A mighty hospital is today felled with one blow. Addenbrooke’s, part of the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has been downed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), plunging from top ranking to inadequate. Today this world famous institution goes into special measures, taken over by an “improvement director”.    The chief executive and finance director jumped. Dr Keith McNeil, headhunted from Australia, was only chief executive from November 2012 – but that’s normal: 30 months is now average survival time. He joins a roll call of NHS heads sacked or fled, leaving 33 trusts with no chief executive.    Related: How the care crisis is making old age a nightmare | Polly Toynbee    Earlier this month, researching the crisis in the NHS and social care, I chose Addenbrooke’s because of its previous excellent CQC report. I found a hospital under severe pressure, overrun with emergency patients and admissions of over-80s up by 23%. At the morning bed state meeting, ward managers juggled available beds against the inflow of new cases. The trust had just declared a “significant critical internal incident” – jargon for no spare beds. All non-emergency admissions were cancelled, ambulances diverted elsewhere and the day surgery closed and converted into a ward. Only cancers, two liver transplants and A  emergencies were taken in. There was another “critical incident” on Friday. It keeps happening.    At the daily staffing meeting, nurses were shifted around to cover wards under most pressure. The shortage everywhere is grievous, after the government cut nurse training, while blocking visas to non-EU nurses. Trying to cope, Addenbrooke’s spends £1.2m a week above its income – with an expected overshoot of £50m this year. Forget preserving NHS funds, this trust has lost £40m from various sources. Soaring hospital debts are expected to reach £2bn this year. McNeil says what I hear from other chief executives: they are forced to choose between debt and risking quality, they choose debt every time.    But what made the CQC condemn Addenbrooke’s so brutally? For “inadequate” you would expect horror stories – deaths, injuries, infections and neglect. But there’s none of that. On the contrary, patients here have a better chance of first-class treatment and less risk than almost anywhere, whether suffering from a broken toe or needing a state-of-the-art complex procedure. The CQC report also gives an “outstanding” rating for caring: “Staff were hard-working, passionate and caring throughout the trust, prepared to go the extra mile for patients, but having to swim upstream against the pressures they faced.” And 90% would recommend the hospital to relatives, well above average.    Inspectors did find unacceptable waits in dermatology and ophthalmology outpatients, where some people had waited for two years. They found a build-up of anaesthetic gas in the birth unit, obliging staff to open the windows – but no horror tales of actual harm, no melanomas or glaucomas missed. The systems behind the scenes were “not robust”, managers not aware of some frontline issues, needing improvement in procedures and record-keeping.    These criticisms might mark them down, but it’s unclear what merits “inadequate”, “special measures” and defenestrating executives. The report says: “Inspectors found a significant shortage of staff in a number of areas, including critical care services.” But what can an “improvement director” do that the chief executive and finance director were not striving for already? Doctors have held meetings to call for McNeil’s reinstatement – but in Jeremy Hunt’s NHS culture of fear, many are afraid to give names.    Addenbrooke’s problems are national. Under Hunt’s torturing inspection regime, just look at the tally of 98 CQC inspections. Of acute trusts, they found just two outstanding and 16 good while the rest fail, with 68 “requires improvement” and 12 “inadequate”. Is the CQC on a mission to find most below average? What is the benchmark when so many fail?    The CQC is Hunt's provisional wing, sent out to knock down one NHS service after another    Inspections seem to happen in some stratosphere above the mundane reality of the most drastic funding crisis the NHS has ever known. David Cameron kept his promise to raise NHS funds – but only by a homeopathic 0.8% a year, despite a growing population, especially of the old. The UK spends less on the NHS than the EU average, with three times fewer beds per head of population than Germany.    Why send in a CQC hit squad to beat up NHS managers struggling against impossible odds? The CQC (costing £224m, half paid for by its victims) sent 60 inspectors for four days to Addenbrooke’s, after demanding mountains of documentation. It cost the trust more than £100,000 – but it probably didn’t spend enough, as some trusts, at great cost, call special consultants to rehearse a CQC presentation. How mad is that?    It all makes perfect political sense to Hunt, who poses as the patients’ champion, pitting himself against the NHS by “lifting the lid” on its failings, with a board in his office listing NHS “ never events ” or events that should never happen – but there’s nothing to praise brilliant events. The CQC is his provisional wing, sent out to knock down one NHS service after another, to distract from the worsening NHS finance and staffing crisis. The £8bn promised in the election is not provided until 2020, and is £22bn short of what NHS England says it needs. Pretending that £22bn will come from “savings” from the likes of Addenbrooke’s is not delusional, it’s just dishonest. The evangelicals of the CQC are useful to blame the NHS and its managers instead of the government.    McNeil is not creeping away shamefaced, not gagged, but standing and fighting back – as should more chief executives before their heads are knocked off too. He calls Addenbrooke’s quality of treatment “phenomenal”, the inspection/regulation regime “Kafkaesque” and the NHS wasteful of money on its purchaser-provider commissioning system. The cuts in council social care are now blocking 200 of his beds, he says, with people lacking care at home. The CQC, he says, “has lost all sense of proportion. We do half a million operations a year, with excellent outcomes. Of course we won’t get everything 100% right.” That’s common sense, but those are brave words in the current  climate  of bullying and shame in the NHS, fostered by Hunt and carried through by his CQC. No wonder there’s a shortage of people willing to take chief executive posts.                 

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