After dominating the 2007 Australian election, climate change seemed to fall off the latest election agenda. But the issue is still chugging along worldwide, with further news of the effects of climate change on world hunger and more discussion over what exactly governments will do to handle the growing problem.

Here’s a wrap of latest news and reading to check out on the climate change debate. Feel free to add any other interesting links or news you have in the comments section.

If you haven’t seen the fascinating SBS Insight special where the late Stephen Schneider, Professor of Environmental Biology and Global Change at Stanford University (he passed away in July), faces 52 climate sceptics in a debate and answers their questions, you can watch it online here. If you can’t watch it, it’s worth reading the transcript here.

Climate change continues to be a massive factor in world hunger, according to a new report by aid organisation Oxfam. The number of people suffering hunger worldwide has dropped 98 million to 925 million in the last year. Alarmingly, the drop is apparently “incidental”, thanks to two strong years of harvests. “A new global food crisis could explode at any time unless governments tackle the underlying causes of hunger, which include decades of under investment in agriculture, climate change, and unfair trade rules that make it difficult for families to earn a living through farming,” says Gawain Kripke from Oxfam America.

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A similar theme popped up over at Grist (who according to its website pop-ups ads is desperately seeking to raise $10,000 this week to keep funding its journalism), with a fascinating article by David Roberts discussing the “climate change causes wars” argument, comparing it to smoking:

In common vernacular, we say that smoking causes lung cancer. Scientifically speaking, we say people who smoke are statistically more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smokers, all else being equal.

It’s impossible to say that a given case of lung cancer was caused by smoking — each individual case is an interplay of genetics, circumstances, and behavior complex beyond our ken. This fact complicates our understanding of responsibility and liability, but it does nothing to diminish the danger of smoking…

…No matter how much sh*t starts going down as the atmosphere warms, there will never come a time when we can point at one episode and say, “Aha, now that was caused by climate change!” It’s just a category mistake to think that way, like blaming your tripping on global heavying. But just as with smoking, that does nothing to diminish the danger of climate change.

Over in the UK the parliamentary committee on climate change will report today on how the UK needs to address climate change, with effects of climate change already visible in the UK. Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman is calling the report a “wake-up call” for Britain, saying “There is no part of our society which is immune from the effects of climate change. Which means that every part of our society must think about its resilience”.

According to the report: “Ministers should look at measures such as bringing in mandatory water meters and changing building regulations to replace the use of purified tap water with “grey water” for flushing toilets and watering gardens to cope with a hotter, drier climate.”

There’s also news that as climate change continues on, Canada will become a “major world power”, since global warming may have many positives effects in the cold harsh climate of Canada. Should that be cause for concern or excitement?

Here in Australia we finally have a government, and Julia Gillard quickly replaced Penny Wong with Greg Combet for Climate Change minister. All eyes are now on government for climate change policy and to see how the carbon price policy will pan out. In Combet’s first press release as Climate Change and Energy Efficieny minister, he said:

My priorities in this new portfolio will be to continue the Government’s strong support for renewable energy, to promote greater energy efficiency in industry and households, and to work towards the introduction of a carbon price.

The Greens managed to get the weak Climate Change Assembly idea ditched in exchange for their support of Gillard. With the latest election being the strongest for the Greens yet, it seems that environmental issues will be put firmly back on the Australian government’s agenda.

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As a Crikey subscriber I always feel more informed and able to think more critically about issues and current affairs – even when they don’t always reflect my own political viewpoint or lived experience.


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