The Geminids Are Coming
By Dell Hill — Uncoverage.net Resident Star Gazer
December 12, 2010
The Geminids Are Coming
By Dell Hill — Uncoverage.net Resident Star Gazer
December 12, 2010
UK Daily Mail
By Sara Nelson
Petrol forecourts were today running dry and food stores were struggling to replenish their shelves as icy conditions halted deliveries.
‘Critical’ shortages of petrol have been reported by the RMI Petrol Retailers Association, with remote areas being particularly badly affected.
Some fuel stations have also been accused of ‘cashing in’ on the crisis by increasing their prices – with one garage in Surrey putting up the cost of diesel per litre from £1.24 to £1.28 within the past four days.
CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — A U.N. conference on Saturday adopted a modest climate deal creating a fund to help the developing world go green, though it deferred for another year the tough work of carving out deeper reductions in carbon emissions causing Earth to steadily warm.
Though the accords were limited, it was the first time in three years the 193-nation conference adopted any climate action, restoring faith in the unwieldy U.N. process after the letdown a year ago at a much-anticipated summit in Copenhagen.
The Cancun Agreements created institutions for delivering technology and funding to poorer countries, though they did not say where the funding would come from.
In urging industrial countries to move faster on emissions cuts, it noted that scientists recommended reducing greenhouse gas emissions from industrial countries by 25 to 40 per cent from 1990 levels within the next 10 years. Current pledges amount to about 16 percent.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon, in a 4 a.m. speech, declared the conference "a thoroughgoing success," after two separate agreements were passed. The agreements shattered "the inertia of mistrust" that had settled over the frustrated efforts for a broad climate treaty, he said.
One of the agreements renewed a framework for cutting greenhouse gas emissions but set no new targets for industrial countries. The second created a financial and technical support system for developing countries facing grave threats from global warming.
Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa, the conference president, gaveled the deal through early Saturday over the objections of Bolivia's delegate, who said it was so weak it would endanger the planet.
Decisions at the U.N. climate talks are typically made by consensus, but Espinosa said consensus doesn't "mean that one country has the right to veto" decisions supported by everyone else.
The accord establishes a multibillion dollar annual Green Climate Fund to help developing countries cope with climate change, though it doesn't say how the fund's money is to be raised. Last year in Copenhagen governments agreed to mobilize $100 billion a year for developing countries, starting in 2020, much of which will be handled by the fund.
The agreements also set rules for internationally funded forest conservation, and provides for climate-friendly technology to expanding economies.
Espinosa won repeated standing ovations from a packed conference hall for her deft handling of bickering countries and for drafting an acceptable deal, though it fully satisfied no one.
"It's been a challenging, tiring and intensive week" said U.S. special climate envoy Todd Stern, clearly content with the results.
The European Union's top climate official, Connie Hedegaard, said Saturday's decisions would help keep international climate talks on track.
"But the two weeks in Cancun have shown once again how slow and difficult the process is," Hedegaard said. "Everyone needs to be aware that we still have a long and challenging journey ahead of us to reach the goal of a legally binding global climate framework."
Christiana Figueres, the U.N.'s senior climate official, said the agreements would put all governments on cleaner trajectory. "Cancun has done its job," she said.
Environmentalists cautiously welcomed the deal.
It "wasn't enough to save the climate," said Alden Meyer of the Washington-based Union of Concerned Scientists. "But it did restore the credibility of the United Nations as a forum where progress can be made."
The Cancun deal finessed disputes between industrial and developing countries on future emissions cuts and incorporates voluntary reduction pledges attached to the Copenhagen Accord that emerged from last year's climate summit in the Danish capital.
It struck a skillful compromise between the U.S. and China, which had been at loggerheads throughout the two week conclave on methods for monitoring and verifying actions to curtail greenhouse gases.
"What we have now is a text that, while not perfect, is certainly a good basis for moving forward," Stern said during the decisive conference meeting. His Chinese counterpart, Xie Zhenhua, sounded a similar note and added, "The negotiations in the future will continue to be difficult."
The accord "goes beyond what we expected when we came here," said Wendel Trio of the Greenpeace environmental group.
Underscoring what's at stake in the long-running climate talks, NASA reported that the January-November 2010 global temperatures were the warmest in the 131-year record. Its data indicated the year would likely end as the warmest on record, or tied with 2005 as the warmest.
The U.N.'s top climate science body has said swift and deep reductions are required to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.8 F) above preindustrial levels, which could trigger catastrophic climate impacts.
Bolivian delegate Pablo Solon protested that the weak pledges of the Copenhagen Accord condemned the Earth to temperature increases of up to 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 F), saying that is tantamount to "ecocide" that could cost millions of lives.
He also complained that the text was being railroaded over his protests in violation of the U.N.'s consensus rules.
In the 1992 U.N. climate treaty, the world's nations promised to do their best to rein in carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases emitted by industry, transportation and agriculture. In the two decades since, the annual conferences' only big advance came in 1997 in Kyoto, Japan, when parties agreed on modest mandatory reductions by richer nations.
But the U.S., alone in the industrial world, rejected the Kyoto Protocol, complaining it would hurt its economy and that such emerging economies as China and India should have taken on emissions obligations.
Since then China has replaced the U.S. as the world's biggest emitter, but it has resisted calls that it assume legally binding commitments — not to lower its emissions, but to restrain their growth.
Here at Cancun such issues came to a head, as Japan and Russia fought pressure to acknowledge in a final decision that they will commit to a second period of emissions reductions under Kyoto, whose current targets expire in 2012.
The Japanese complained that with the rise of China, India, Brazil and others, the 37 Kyoto industrial nations now account for only 27 percent of global greenhouse emissions. They want a new, legally binding pact obligating the U.S., China and other major emitters.
MINNEAPOLIS – A storm that spanned parts of eight states continued to dump heavy snow in the upper Midwest on Sunday, collapsing the Metrodome in Minneapolis and forcing numerous road closures.
The storm was moving eastward a day after it dumped 20 inches of snow in some places. A Sunday NFL football game between the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings had already been pushed to Monday because the Giants couldn't get to Minneapolis to play when the inflatable Metrodome collapsed Sunday. It's uncertain when that game will now be played.
A blizzard warning was in effect Sunday for Chicago and much of northern Illinois, all of Iowa, large sections of southern Minnesota and Wisconsin, and smaller areas in North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri and Michigan, according to the National Weather Service. Most of the rest of the region was under a winter storm warning or a hard freeze watch.
Wisconsin authorities issued a statewide no-travel advisory Saturday, citing blizzard and winter storm warnings in nearly every county.
The weather was an unexpected burden for one Minnesota man who had pledged to camp out on the roof of a coffee shop to help his daughter's school raise money.
Hospital executive Robert Stevens donned four layers of long underwear, heavy boots and a down coat before embarking on his quest Friday night. He vowed not to come down until he had raised $100,000, but after reaching the halfway mark Saturday morning, he said he hoped the rest of the money would come fast. He didn't look forward to spending another night out in the blizzard.
"I think I've crossed the line into insanity," he said.
Stevens slept inside a tent surrounded by hay bales, swaddled in a double-insulated sleeping bag as he listened to the winds whip off Lake Minnetonka a block away.
There was a bustling lunch crowd Saturday in the Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis. Collette Dennis, a baker there, was back inside after she and co-workers spent 20 futile minutes trying to free her parked car from a snowdrift. Dennis still hoped to figure out a way to get home to the suburb of Roseville, about 12 miles away — but she also was prepared to stay put.
The cafe had no cots, Dennis said, "but we have multiple bags of flour I could sleep on. And I guess at least I won't go hungry."
The sinking temperatures were considered even more treacherous than the snow in some places. North Dakota experienced wind chills of 20 degrees below zero Saturday, and the arctic air was expected to drop temperatures below zero by Sunday night throughout the Dakotas and in parts of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Eastern Minnesota's Oakdale area got 20 inches of snow Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. The storm was moving eastward, where it dumped about a foot of snow in Chippewa County in northwestern Wisconsin and was expected to drop 20 to 24 inches by Sunday morning in the Eau Claire area.
Lisa McGrath was shoveling her front walk in southeast Minneapolis, but knew she'd likely have to do it again in a few hours.
"It's good exercise — the only exercise I'm going to get today," McGrath said as she hoisted the shovel.
The State Patrol said there were 76 crashes reported statewide, but none with fatalities or serious injuries, and 319 reports of vehicles sliding off roads.
"The areas that were hardest hit are virtually impassable," said Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske. "So we don't expect those numbers to go up a whole lot."
The weather also postponed to Monday an NFL football game that had been set for Sunday between the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings. The Giants were stuck Saturday night in Kansas City, Mo., after their flight was diverted there with the Twin Cities airport closed because of the snowstorm.
Related AP News
Associated Press writers Dirk Lammers in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Jeff Baenen in Plymouth, Minn., contributed to this report.