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Here’s How Climate Change Led To An Unequal World

The "war on nature must end"

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A man stands in front of the ancient Colosseum blanketed by the snow in Rome, Feb. 26, 2018. VOA

BY AMIT KAPOOR

When a 16-year-old girl who has avowed air travel has to cross the Atlantic in a solar-powered race boat to speak at a conference on Climate Change while the Amazon rainforests are still burning in evidence to everything she has argued at the highest public forums, it is evident that the adults in the room are not doing enough. The “war on nature must end”, Greta Thunberg appealed as she reached the shores of America. But just over the last few years, Bolsonaro in Brazil has allowed deforestation to take place unchecked under his watch while the Trump administration has been handing out leases of public land and waters for oil and gas drilling that are estimated to produce more carbon emissions than the entire European Union does in a year.

In the face of the world’s biggest crisis, a few world leaders seem to be moving in the opposite direction in denial. The myopic economic interests of countries have clearly taken precedence over the global environmental concerns regarding climate change. Nevertheless, the impact of the climate crisis has not been more evident than today through the unpredictable weather conditions and changing trends in climate, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, as well as ocean acidification. Warming temperatures triggered by greenhouse gas emissions have increased the frequency and intensity of floods, droughts and storms across countries and regions. However, the consequent environmental degradation does not have a uniform impact on countries with varying levels of economic development.

Climate, Change, Fires
Macron said the fires were “two times the surface area of France” and were damaging the “most important lungs of the planet”. Pixabay

A recently published study by researchers from the Stanford University has found that between 1961 and 2010, the poor countries with lowest carbon emissions suffered bigger losses as compared to wealthy countries with highest emissions. The study emphasized that most poor countries of the world are poorer, and the rich countries are richer due to the impact of global warming. The ratio between incomes of the richest 10 per cent and the poorest 10 per cent of the global population has been estimated to be 25 per cent more than it would have been during that time period otherwise.

A similar impact has been observed within countries where people who are least responsible for the climate crisis are the most vulnerable to the risks associated with it. The local communities living in rural parts of developing countries (that are already at a disadvantage) are directly affected due to the consequent impact on agricultural production, water availability, industry and human health. As a result of rising inequality among and within countries, India’s GDP is estimated to be 31 per cent lower than it would have been without climate change. By contrast, the GDP of Canada and EU are 32 per cent and 9.5 per cent higher respectively.

These findings further the ongoing debate on the division of responsibility for causing climate change and its mitigation. Historically, developed countries have had a major contribution to the greenhouse gas emissions which makes it imperative for them to lead the fight against climate change and its adverse effects. The fact that their development which caused climate change muted the growth prospects of the next wave of developing countries puts additional onus on the developed economies to make efforts to address the crisis.

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Given that all countries continue with their efforts to promote an ecosystem of sustainable production and consumption, the developed countries should not only take responsibility for their own actions, but also compensate for their negative contribution of the past. In 2015, the Global Climate Fund was created with the objective to support the efforts of developing countries to tackle climate change through investments in the form of grants, loans, equity and guarantees. In addition to financial assistance, transfer of green and clean technologies to the low-income countries could further stimulate their transition to become green economies. Thus, a comprehensive action plan should be advanced to encourage adoption of sustainable alternatives by providing fiscal incentives, regulatory support for resource-incentive sectors and building of climate-resilient infrastructure in developing countries. Stringent laws regarding green subsidies and carbon taxes levied on traded goods and services could initiate the establishment of carbon-free markets. Green innovation through investment in research and technology could also play a key role to find global solutions to the global issue of climate change.

Therefore, global value chains based on cooperation and coordination have the capacity to enhance productivity through innovation-driven production processes. International forums and bilateral trade agreements should also focus on enabling the transfer of environmentally-sound technologies for renewable sources of energy, water conservation and waste management from developed to developing countries. Lastly, since leaders like Trump and Bolsonaro cannot be expected to alter their stance on climate change, currently it is only the people who need to do their part by changing dietary habits, for instance, until the developed world can lead by example. (IANS)

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Governments Around The World are Learning to Confuse Dissidents on Social Media

The researchers, who published their findings in a recent issue of Political Science Research and Methods, specifically examined social media from both the Venezuela regime and its opposition

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Social Media
The regime also seemed to develop a more sophisticated approach to using hashtags on Social Media. The regime used long hashtags, as opposed to the shorter hashtags that are more commonly used, to promote distraction among the protest groups. Pixabay

Governments the world over are learning new tactics to quash dissent on various Social Media platforms, responding with tweets designed to distract and confuse like longer hashtags, according to a team of political scientists.

In a study of Twitter interactions during Venezuela’s 2014 protests, in which citizens voiced opposition to government leaders and called for improvements to their standard of living, the tweets of the protesters focused mainly on the protest itself, while the tweets issued by the ruling regime covered more diverse topics.

This could mean that regimes are growing more savvy in their use of social media to help suppress mass movements.

“When we started doing this study there had been a lot of optimism about the capacity of social media to produce revolutions throughout the world, like Arab Spring and the Color Revolutions in Europe,” said Kevin Munger, assistant professor of political science and social data analytics, Penn State.

“But it seems like, in hindsight, this was the result of short-term disequilibrium between the capacity of the masses to use this technology and the limited capacity of these elites to use it.”

A lot of these elites may have not been keeping up with modern communication technology and got caught unawares.

So, for that short period of time, social media did produce better outcomes for revolutions and mass movements.

The researchers, who published their findings in a recent issue of Political Science Research and Methods, specifically examined social media from both the Venezuela regime and its opposition.

Social Media
Governments the world over are learning new tactics to quash dissent on various Social Media platforms, responding with tweets designed to distract and confuse like longer hashtags, according to a team of political scientists. Pixabay

Following the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in early 2013, Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s vice-president, won a special election.

After his election, mass protests erupted related to economic decline and increased crime.

In their analysis, the researchers noted that the regime abruptly shifted its Twitter strategy after protests swept across the country.

The topics of the regime’s tweets became even more diverse than usual — including such topics as a tree-planting event — and often did not address the protests at all.

As the protests continued, however, the researchers said that the opposition also became less focused, which the researchers suggest may have been a reaction to the regime’s social media strategy.

The way that attention works on social networks offers a glimpse into why the strategy to distract citizens might be effective, added Munger, who worked on the study while a doctoral student in politics at New York University.

Social Media
Regimes are growing more savvy in their use of Social Media to help suppress mass movements. Pixabay

“To have effective protests, you need to have a ton of people coordinated on a single message, so spreading other narratives disrupts that process of coordination,” said Munger.

“Being able to spread doubt is effective. You don’t have to get people to love your regime, you just need people to less convinced of the single narrative.”

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The regime also seemed to develop a more sophisticated approach to using hashtags. The regime used long hashtags, as opposed to the shorter hashtags that are more commonly used, to promote distraction among the protest groups. (IANS)