To eat meat or not to eat meat: that is the question

foto asd

By Anna Sophia Doyle*

I was browsing through one of my favorite environmental news and commentary sites (favorite as it’s both intelligent but also hilarious when reporting on very serious issues such as climate, food, energy, etc.) and came across a great article on whether eating meat could be eco-friendly.

Having wrestled with the subject myself and in honor of it being Meatless Monday, I thought I’d share some if the article’s insights with the Development Roast readers as well as a few other thoughts and related links. Read the rest of this entry »

Earth Overshoot Day – August 13th, 2015: So what?

By Susana del Granado *

Let’s suppose a billionaire has given you 1 million US$ with the sole instruction that you live wisely from it. Thus, you decide to put all the money in the bank at the highest annual interest rate in the market (5%) and live only from the interest, which means you have 50,000 US$ a year or 137 US$ per day to spend. Read the rest of this entry »

Let’s not miss the Open Government train


Photo Credit: liberation (289/365) via photopin (license)

By: Fabián E. Soria* y Pablo A. Rivero*

Public administration is evolving towards Open Government, a new paradigm that makes use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) but also changes the processes and information management within the public sector in order to bring the government closer to the citizens and become more efficient.

There are two important factors in this topic: first, what does it exactly mean (and why is it important) to “open the data and processes in the public sector”. Second, who is this information for (i.e. who will make use of open data)?

Read the rest of this entry »

Oil exploitation in protected areas – a contradiction in terms?

LykkeAndersen2By: Lykke E. Andersen*

During this week’s Climate Change Conference in La Paz, several participants expressed concern about Bolivia’s plans for oil drilling in National Parks following the recent Supreme Decree 2366 of 20 May 2015, which explicitly permits oil drilling in some protected areas in Bolivia in the name of poverty reduction and integral development for the people living in these areas.

In the conference session on Climate Change and Ecosystems, the panelists were asked if it was not contradictory to allow oil exploitation in national parks, and if anybody knew of any examples anywhere in the World where it had been done successfully. One of the panelists, Stanley Arguedas, Co-President of the Commission on Environmental Management of the International Union of Nature Conservation (CGE-IUCN) from Costa Rica, admitted that he did not personally know of any successful examples, but that, in theory, oil exploitation could be done in protected areas without compromising the objectives of the national park.

This tiny theoretical opening, coming from a top conservationist, is what I would like to explore in this blog.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tropical glacier loss: Real and fake solutions

Lykke Andersen

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

Bernard Francou, a famous glaciologist from the IRD in France, today made a very interesting presentation in La Paz about the loss of tropical glaciers around the World. It was only one of many interesting presentations made at the Climate Change Conference that is taking place these days, but it was so interesting indeed, that it inspired me to write my second blog in one day.

Francou documented the decrease in tropical glacier mass starting roughly in 1976 for the glaciers in the Andes and the Rocky Mountains and about a decade later for most other tropical glaciers in the World. Although tropical glaciers contain only a tiny part of all the ice on the planet, their melting currently contributes to about 26% of global sea level rise.

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Making smarter climate change policies requires us to acknowledge the limits to our knowledge

LykkeAndersen2By: Lykke E. Andersen*

There is little doubt that human greenhouse gas emissions, mainly arising from the burning of fossil fuels and forests, are warming the planet. The physical properties of CO2 in the atmosphere imply that a doubling of CO2 concentrations from the current 400 parts per million (ppm) to 800 ppm would directly cause an increase in the average global temperature of about 1°C, and with that increase in temperatures we would also experience an increase in global precipitation. That much we know with a high degree of certainty.

Anything beyond that, however, is highly uncertain. While most climate models incorporate positive feedback effects that amplify the initial direct warming effect several times, historical data suggests that there are important negative feedbacks that help stabilize global temperatures. Most importantly, Earth’s temperature has oscillated within a relatively narrow band for hundreds of millions of years despite much higher and much lower CO2 concentrations in the past (see Figures 1 and 2). In addition, during the last couple of decades, global temperatures have not increased nearly as much as suggested by the models with strong positive feedbacks. Thus, we should have only low confidence in our knowledge about feedback effects and temperature increases beyond 1°C.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pope Francis’ encyclical: A landmark in environmental thinking

By Susana del Granado *

The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.”

Pope Francis, 2015

“I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” is one of the beginning lines of the Pope’s encyclical, released by the Vatican yesterday at noon. Traditionally the encyclical is a letter from the Pope to the Bishops about Catholicism, but it has evolved into an open letter to society discussing the Pope’s insights and concerns on a particular matter. Pope John XXII (1963) was the first, to my knowledge, to address society in general in his efforts to reform the Catholic Church.

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Can you envision a sustainable world? Do you dare to dream today?

By Susana del Granado *

“A vision comes not from the intellect or the mind but from the heart, from the soul”

Donella Meadows

Today, June 5th , we celebrate World Environment Day and, as a celebration, the United Nations Environmental Program has launched a campaign and a contest about “sharing your dream[1]” to move people to imagine a sustainable future and to trigger discussion on the objectives for sustainable development[2].

A vision is a desirable future and, by definition, it is a positive image of what you want to see in the future. Donella Meadows, an environmental scientist and leading author of “The Limits to Growth”, while presenting at an ecological economics conference, inspired and requested her audience to envision a sustainable future. To develop that vision, she asked them to get comfortable, to close their eyes, to take a deep breath, and to dream:[3] Read the rest of this entry »

Time travel and other environmentally friendly pleasures

Lykke Andersen

By: Lykke E. Andersen*

“That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest. ”

Henry David Thoreau

In honor of World Environment Day, I have compiled a list of delightful activities that bring great pleasure at little cost and with very little environmental impact. Consider doing more of the following: Read the rest of this entry »

Deforestation and reforestation in Bolivia: A thought experiment

LykkeAndersen2By: Lykke E. Andersen*

Within the Bolivian government, there are parts that encourage a massive expansion of the agricultural frontier, and other parts that work to control deforestation in order to reduce the local and global impacts of climate change. These are pretty much opposing policies, so consider the following hypothetical question: How large an area would we have to reforest in order to compensate the carbon emissions caused by the expansion of the agricultural frontier by 2.5 million hectares, if we wanted to reach carbon emission neutrality by 2030. Read the rest of this entry »

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