Stakes Are High As Climate Week NYC Kicks Off

With just 70 days left before December’s critical international climate talks in Copenhagen (COP15), the heat is on to bring the world to an agreement on a plan for emissions reductions, climate change adaptation, and technology sharing between the developed and developing worlds. Science has decided that it’s too late for mucking about with red tape, lackadaisical negotiations, or finger pointing. It’s time to get a little impatient with the negotiation process.

As Achim Steiner, head of the United Nations Environment Programme put it during this month’s World Climate Conference in Geneva:

“Climate change has imposed on the global economy and national governments and politicians a challenge that none of them had every imagined they would confront, which is to reinvent the way our economies will develop in the future, and doing that against an extremely narrow window of time, and against a world that has extremely diverse interests that have to be reconciled. So I want to defend the reality of the negotiation process while at the same time recognizing that the world has to be extremely impatient with the negotiation process. It has to over the next few weeks call for a deal in Copenhagen, not to allow the world to continue to be entrenched in a negotiation track that does not allow the objectives that the IPCC set to be addressed head on in Copenhagen.”

In just this spirit of pragmatic impatience, and in an effort to get the conversation moving before COP15 is upon them, more than 100 Heads of State will gather at the UN General Assembly tomorrow for a high level summit called by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. The summit falls on day three of Climate Week NYC. President Obama will attend – no small thing, considering how busy we all know the guy’s been lately – and renew his commitment to a green US economy and global climate agenda.

And the stakes are high. A news release out from the Copenhagen Climate Council today went so far as to suggest that failure to move toward an agreement at tomorrow’s summit could spell war – you heard it, war – within the decade.

“The UN meeting will be a critical turning point for the talks leading up to the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen later this year. Success in New York with major economies like the US, China, and India, demonstrating leadership and willingness to commit to emissions reductions would pave the way for an effective agreement in Copenhagen. Failure could be the prelude to climate wars in 10 years time,” warned Tim Flannery, Chair of the Copenhagen Climate Council. Flannery is in New York at the moment, and will participate in tomorrow’s summit.

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Keep reading Show less

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
Keep reading Show less

Here's how diverse the 116th Congress is set to become

The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.

(Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
  • In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
  • Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
Keep reading Show less