Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Isao Frank Jr. -- New MIC Coordinator


Melting landfast ice, accelerated erosion: Alaskan villages endangered

Are you on the Frontlines of Climate Change?A Forum for Indigenous Peoples, Small Islands and Vulnerable Communities
¿Está en primera línea frente al cambio climático?Un Foro para los pueblos indígenas, pequeñas islas y comunidades vulnerables[texto español abajo]
Êtes-vous en première ligne face au changement climatique ?Un forum pour les peuples autochtones, les petites îles et les communautés vulnérables[texte français ci-dessous]

Melting landfast ice, accelerated erosion: Alaskan villages endangered. [Posting 16]Discussion highlights for the topic: Early ImpactsCan't see this article correctly? Go to: http://www.climatefrontlines.org/en-GB/node/520
Coastal villages in Alaska (USA) are reeling from the erosion caused by unprecedented warming trends due to climate change, explains Sharon McClintock. One of the most impacted areas is Shishmaref, a traditional Inupiat village in the Bering Straits with a population of just over 600 people. The village is located on Sarichef Island, a barrier island in the Chukchi Sea. In the past, sea ice would form in the fall, creating a blockade of ice along the shore which acted as a protective barrier against sea storms. This protective sea ice, which used to be in place by October or November, no longer forms solidly. Its absence allows powerful waves to undercut the banks that are already weakened by an increased melting of permafrost. The later freezing of the sea ice is an indication of warmer temperatures in the ocean. Local people say that the Chukchi Sea “doesn't freeze right or fast anymor! e... We go out a couple of miles, and you have this creamy and dark-looking ice, which is very thin and unstable.
During a massive storm in 1973, nine metres of land was lost. In 1974, the village experienced a storm of major proportions and high water partially flooded the airport, prompting declaration of a national disaster. In 1997, a severe storm eroded some 45 metres of the north shore, forcing the relocation of fourteen homes. Five additional homes were relocated in 2002. The teacher housing is in a precarious location near the bluff. The fear that the next storm will leave them homeless convinced long time and well-liked teachers to leave Shishmaref. This has been a huge loss to the community. The sewage lagoon, roads, water supply, laundromat, community store, and fuel tanks are at risk of damage or loss. The main road to the airport and landfill has been eroded in several places and the road is now dangerously close to the sea. Yearly storms continue to erode the shoreline at an average rate of ! retreat of 1 to 1.5 metres per year. Almost $23 million has been spent to construct seawalls that will provide only temporary protection to what is left of Shishmaref.
In July 2002, residents voted to relocate the community. However, numerous problems have slowed this process, including reluctance of the state and federal governments to give monetary support for vital infrastructure or to take the lead in the relocation project. In 2008, the community learned that the site chosen for relocation was not suitable due to permafrost issues. So efforts had to begin anew. The place they now think would be the most suitable is near Ear Mountain close to the village of Wales. It is possible that a sustainable community can be created there utilizing geothermal potential and wind power for energy. However, some people say they will never leave Sarichef Island. But how will they fare, as no services will be available once everyone relocates?
Please keep sending in your observations and experiences of the impacts of climate change on your lands, resources or livelihoods.
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El derretimiento del banco de hielo y la erosión ponen en peligro a las comunidades de Alaska [Mensaje 16]Artículo de referencia relativo al tema: Primeros impactos¿No ve el texto correctamente? Vaya a: http://www.climatefrontlines.org/es/node/521
Las comunidades costeras de Alaska (USA) están tambaleando debido a la erosión causada por los niveles de temperatura sin precedentes producto del Cambio Climático, explica Sharon McClintock. Una de las áreas más afectadas es Shismaref, una aldea tradicional Inupiat en el Estrecho de Bering cuya población asciende a tan sólo 600 personas. La aldea se encuentra en la Isla Sarichef, isla barrera en el Mar de Chukchi. En el pasado, el hielo marino se congelaba durante el otoño formando un bloque a lo largo de toda la costa, el cual servía como barrera de protección contra las tormentas marítimas. Este hielo marino de protección, que solía formarse entre octubre y noviembre, ya no se erige de manera sólida. Su ausencia permite que poderosas olas disminuyan aún más las orillas ya reducida! s por el derretimiento del permahielo. El tardío congelamiento del hielo marino es un indicativo del aumento de la temperatura del océano. Las comunidades locales señalan que el Mar de Chukchi "ya no se congela ni bien ni rápido… Recorremos hasta dos millas mar adentro y lo que vemos es ese hielo de apariencia cremosa y oscura, que es muy delgado e inestable".
Durante una enorme tormenta en 1973, se perdieron 9 metros de tierra. En 1974, la aldea experimentó una tormenta de mayores proporciones que ocasionó la inundación parcial del aeropuerto debido al alto nivel del agua, incitando la declaración del estado de emergencia nacional. En 1997, otra severa tormenta erosionó unos 45 metros de la costa norte, forzando el traslado de 14 hogares. Otras 5 familias fueron reubicadas en el 2002. El centro educativo del pueblo se encuentra en un emplazamiento precario cerca del acantilado. El miedo a que la próxima tormenta los despoje de sus hogares ha terminado por convencer de irse del pueblo a profesores muy respetados, que han trabajado en Shishmaref desde hace muchos años. Esto ha sido una gran pérdida para la comunidad. Por otra parte, la estación depuradora de aguas residuales, las carreter! as, el suministro de agua, la lavandería y los tanques de suministro de combustible corren peligro de daño o desaparición. La carretera principal que conduce al aeropuerto así como el vertedero han sido erosionados en diferentes lugares, de manera que ahora la carretera se encuentra en un emplazamiento peligroso, cerca del mar. Año tras año, las tormentas continúan degradando la costa, la cual presenta un retiro anual promedio de 1 a 1.5 metros. Cerca de 23 millones de dólares han sido invertidos en la construcción de un rompeolas que sólo provee protección temporal a lo que queda de Shishmaref.
En julio del 2002, los residentes votaron en favor del traslado total de la comunidad. Sin embargo, numerosos problemas han retrasado el proceso, tales como, la renuencia del estado y de los gobiernos federales por brindar el apoyo financiero para la construcción de infraestructura de vital importancia, o asumir el liderzazo de tal proyecto de reubicación. En el 2008, la comunidad se dio cuenta que el lugar elegido para la reubicación no era apropiado debido a diversos problemas relacionados con el permahielo y los esfuerzos tuvieron que reiniciarse. Un nuevo emplazamiento que los lugareños contemplan como nueva opción, se encuentra cerca de Ear Mountain, próximo a la comunidad de Wales. Se cree que allí sería posible establecer una comunidad de manera sostenible, utilizando el potencial geotérmico y la energía eólica! . Sin embargo, algunos afirman que nunca dejarán la Isla Sarichef. Pero ¿cómo sobrevivirán si no habrán servicios disponibles, una vez que los pobladores hayan sido trasladados?
Por favor sigan enviando sus observaciones y experiencias sobre los impactos del cambio climático en sus tierras, recursos naturales o modos de vida.
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Fonte de la banquise, érosion accélérée : les villages d'Alaska en danger [Message 16]Article de référence relatif au thème : Premiers impactsSi le texte ne s’affiche pas correctement, allez à : http://www.climatefrontlines.org/fr/node/522
Les villages côtiers d'Alaska connaissent un bouleversement considérable sous l'effet de l'érosion causée par un réchauffement sans précédent, lié au changement climatique, explique Sharon McClintock. Une des zones les plus touchées est Shishmaref, un village traditionnel inupiat dans le Détroit de Béring dont la population dépasse à peine 600 habitants. Le village est situé sur l'Ile de Sarichef, une île barrière de la mer des Tchouktches. Autrefois, la mer gelait durant l'automne et formait un blocus de glace le long du rivage, offrant une barrière protectrice contre les tempêtes maritimes. Cette banquise, qui auparavant se formait courant octobre ou novembre, n'est désormais plus aussi solide. Or sans elle, de puissantes vagues peuvent s'abattre sur les berges déjà affaiblies pa! r la fonte du permafrost. La formation tardive de la glace de mer est révélatrice de la hausse des températures de l'océan. La population locale dit de la mer des Tchouktches qu'elle "ne gèle plus comme il faut ou plus assez vite... Si on s'éloigne d'à peine deux miles, on trouve une glace qui ressemble à de la crème avec un aspect foncé et qui s'avère très fine et instable."
En 1973, au cours d'une très forte tempête, neuf mètres de terre disparurent. En 1974, le village connut une tempête majeure au cours de laquelle l'aéroport fut partiellement inondé, ce qui aboutit à la déclaration d'un désastre national. En 1997, une terrible tempête provoqua l'érosion de la rive nord sur une distance de 45 mètres, entraînant le déplacement de 14 foyers. En 2002, cinq foyers supplémentaires furent déplacés. En outre, le logement des enseignants se situe dans une zone précaire près de l'escarpement. Craignant qu'une nouvelle tempête ne les démunisse, des enseignants à la fois expérimentés et très appréciés ont décidé de quitter Shishmaref. Ce fut un pr&eac! ute;judice considérable pour la communauté. De la même manière, les lagunes des eaux usées, les routes, l'approvisionnement en eau, les laveries automatiques, l'épicerie locale et les réservoirs de fuel sont menacés de dégradation voire de disparition. La route principale qui mène à l'aéroport et à la décharge a été érodée en divers endroits et la route est désormais dangereusement proche de la mer.
Les tempêtes annuelles continuent d'entraîner l'érosion du littoral et dégradent en moyenne un mètre à un mètre cinquante de terre par an. Près de 23 millions de dollars ont été dépensés pour construire des digues qui n'offriront qu'une protection temporaire de ce qui reste de Shishmaref.
En juillet 2002, les résidents ont voté la délocalisation de la communauté. Cependant, de nombreux problèmes ont ralenti ce processus, notamment la réticence des gouvernements étatiques et du gouvernement fédéral à soutenir financièrement l'élaboration d'infrastructures vitales ou bien à mener le projet de délocalisation. En 2008, la communauté apprenait que le site retenu pour la délocalisation n'était pas favorable à cause de problèmes relatifs au permafrost. Ainsi il fallut entièrement repenser le projet. L'endroit qui semble désormais le plus approprié se trouve près de Ear Mountain, non loin du village de Wales. Il est possible d'y fonder une communauté durable en ayant recours au potentiel géothermique et à l! a puissance éolienne pour l'énergie. Pourtant certains déclarent qu'ils ne quitteront jamais l'Ile de Sarichef. Mais comment pourront-ils subsister une fois que tout le monde aura quitté l'île et qu'aucun service n'y sera plus disponible.
Continuez de partager vos observations sur le changement climatique et ses conséquences sur vos terres, vos ressources et vos modes de subsistance.
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MIC Has A New Home & A New Coordinator

After 9 years with the Nature Conservancy the Micronesians in Island Conservation (MIC) Network, has found a new home. On July 1st, 2009, MIC transitioned to the care of the Micronesia Conservation Trust (MCT). MCT is a regional organization which was set up to support biodiversity conservation and related sustainable development for the people of Micronesia. MCT is the only Micronesia-based organization set up to provide long-term, sustained funding to community-based organizations and other non-governmental organizations through a grants program. With MIC’s assistance, MCT will also be able to provide capacity building and organizational effectiveness support and training.

MIC will undergo a slight change while it is with MCT -- the coordination of MIC will also include the coordination of the Pacific Islands Managed Protected Areas Community (PIMPAC) which is co-coordinated by a representative of NOAA and MCT.

Also on August 24th, 2009, Isao Fran, Jr. became the new MIC Coordinator. Isao, was born on the island of Pingelap a small outer island of Pohnpei, but spent much of his youth and adult life on Pohnpei Proper. Isao attended Xavier High School, in Sapuk Chuuk and later continued his studies at Seattle Central Community College and Washington State University, where he majored in Political Science.

In 1993 Isao worked as a paralegal in a Private Law Office for about a year. In 1994 Isao joined the Peace Corps team and has spent the last fifteen years working for Peace Corps Micronesia as the Coordinator/In-Country Resource Manger, then as the Training Director and most recently as the Language and Cross Culture Coordinator.

Model Energy Homes in Palau

PALAU – A local program is encouraging investment in energy efficient homes to help green Palau and save people money at the same time.

Palau, like many small developing islands in the Pacific, is focused on moving in the direction of a more sustainable energy path and reducing its dependency on fossil fuel.

Being one of the highest per-capita energy users in the Pacific Island Countries with a population of 20, 000 people, Palau is taking firm steps to lower their energy consumption and promote energy efficiency and conservation through their Energy Efficiency Subsidy Program (EESP).

The EESP is a voluntary program aimed at providing home loans that specifically targets the inclusion of energy efficiency measures in new homes to lower household electricity consumption. It is estimated that through this program, electricity usage in new homes will drop by 15%. This new innovative program by the National Development Bank of Palau (NDBP) promises to lift the standard of living in Palau while embracing environmentally sound practices.

Since its inception in October 2008, the program has received a total of thirty two applications with two energy model homes completed in Koror State and construction already commencing for another two: one in Airai State and another in Koror state. In addition six energy efficient standard homes are under construction with twenty-two more applications being processed.

How it works:

Through this Energy Efficiency home loan program, the NDBP helps moderate income families build new homes, with choices of energy saving features suitable for the Palau environment. The bank provides subsidies to the borrower ranging from a minimum of $3,000 to $10, 000 (US Dollars), depending on the type and number of features selected by the new home owner.
It’s more than just using energy saver lights and using energy star appliances. Home owners will have a range of energy saving options to choose from including: tinted or high performance glass, solar water heaters, hot water piping insulation, exterior window shading or awnings and more.

Invest more to save more!

The concept of energy efficiency is usually associated with higher costs. In terms of initial costs the energy-efficient house could cost 2% to 10% more than a house without energy efficient features. However, you’ll pay less in electricity bills each month, usually more than enough to offset any increase in your mortgage payments.

Awareness has been a major tool for the program and the team at NDBP has been working tirelessly to promote this concept which is new to many Palauns.

“We have placed a lot of effort in our awareness campaigns and have been working with our Energy Office, local partners, other leading agencies and the communities to help people understand energy efficiency and the Energy Efficiency home loan program,” says Clarinda Ziegler, the Project Manager for the EESP. The program had also launched an intensive village outreach program earlier in April of this year reaching out to 16 states in the country.

“The concept and the meaning of energy efficiency is becoming a familiar lingo within the communities and the people and we are very pleased with the responses from the communities”

The Energy Efficiency Subsidy Program is supported by the Governments of Italy and Austria through the technical and managerial expertise of The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

“Palau’s Energy Efficiency home loan program is one of its first to be implemented in the Oceania region and offers valuable lessons for all,” says Anare Matakiviti, IUCN’s Energy Programme Coordinator.


For more information or to set up interviews, please contact:

Energy Coordinator, IUCN OfficeTel: (679) 3310 084, Mobile: (679) 9232115, email: anare.matakiviti@iucn.org; Web: http://www.iucn.org/oceania


About IUCN

IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges by supporting scientific research; managing field projects all over the world; and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN, international conventions and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice.

The world's oldest and largest global environmental network, IUCN is a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists and experts in some 160 countries. IUCN's work is supported by over 1,000 professional staff in 60 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. IUCN's headquarters are located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland.

http://www.iucn.org/

1.5 to Stay Alive

AOSIS LEADERS DECLARE ‘ISLAND SURVIVAL’
THE BENCHMARK FOR A NEW CLIMATE DEAL

Island states demand a global warming limit of ‘1.5°C to stay alive’

For immediate release

21 September 2009, New York – Leaders of the world’s island states have demanded that the new post-2012 international climate agreement guarantee their countries’ livelihood and survival by ensuring that global warming be kept well below 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C).

In a Declaration adopted today in New York at the ‘Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Summit on Climate Change’, leaders and ministers of the 42-member negotiating group expressed ‘grave concern that climate change poses the most serious threat to our survival and viability’, and disappointment at the current slow pace and lack of resolve in international climate talks.

AOSIS Leaders heard that current targets from industrialized countries add up to emissions cuts of only 11 to 18 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, which would put the world on a path to 3°C or more in temperature rise. Current targets are about one third of the 45% cuts by 2020 required to keep global warming and associated losses and damage – already estimated at $125 billion annually – under control.

Recent science indicates that 3°C of warming will result in substantial loss of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, resulting in one or even two metres of sea-level rise by the end of the century. The UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees has already warned that some particularly low-lying island states are ‘very likely to become entirely uninhabitable’.

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas of Grenada, the Caribbean island state which currently holds the AOSIS Chairmanship, called the current targets “unacceptable”, adding that no state or group of states has the right to condemn another to the tragedy of statelessness.

“Our people are already suffering devastating impacts and losses at the current 0.8 degrees Celsius (°C) of warming - coastal erosion, coral bleaching, salty drinking water, flooding, and more intense cyclones and hurricanes” said President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives. “Should we, leaders of the most vulnerable and exposed countries, be asking our people to sign onto significantly greater degrees of misery and livelihood insecurity, essentially becoming climate change guinea pigs? The limit must be 1.5°C to stay alive!”

Today’s ‘AOSIS Declaration on Climate Change’ calls on the international community to ensure that the Copenhagen climate agreement peak global emissions by 2015, with a subsequent fall to 85% below 1990 levels by 2050.

The AOSIS 1.5°C target and associated goal of stabilising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at 350 parts per million is supported by the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), a total of about 80 countries that represent more than 40% of the U.N. membership. The targets are below the 2°C and 450ppm promoted by many industrialised countries and some developing countries, which are based on now-outdated science. Recent economic studies show the tighter targets are feasible, requiring investments of less than 2% of GDP by 2100. Tighter targets would also send a positive carbon price signal to the markets to drive the development of clean energy technologies needed for the transition to low-carbon economies.

Speaking at a press conference following adoption of the Declaration, Prime Minister Marcus Stephens of Nauru took a swipe at recent suggestions that talks on a new post-2012 climate deal should be allowed to leak into next year. “Seventeen years after signing the Framework Convention on Climate Change, we are still waiting for emissions to peak. We cannot allow domestic politics and self-interest to delay what we already know to be essential. Further delayed action will escalate the cost of adaptation well beyond our economic capacity,” said Prime Minister Stephens.

AOSIS Leaders also stressed that the provision of finance for adaptation by small island states and other vulnerable countries ‘must be an urgent and immediate global priority’, and that the new global deal must include a comprehensive insurance facility to address the now-inevitable loss and damage to fall on vulnerable countries as a result of climate change. “Climate change is already delivering damage not of our making. Our countries need adaptation funding urgently – not in 2020, not in 2030, but now”, said President Nasheed.

“The Secretary-General’s Climate Change Summit tomorrow is a unique opportunity to up the tempo and head towards Copenhagen with a true sense of urgency and purpose,” said Prime Minister Thomas of Grenada. “World leaders must mandate their negotiators to deliver a deal in December, full of the ambition and scale of commitment necessary to address the challenge of our generation”.


Contact
Dr Albert Binger
Permanent Mission of Grenada to the United Nations
Phone: +1 212 599 0301 or +1 301 873 4522
Email: yengar@hotmail.com



Nanette Woonton
Associate Media and Publications Officer
The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme
T: DL (685) 66305 (685) 21929
F: (685) 20231 W: www.sprep.org
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Monday, September 21, 2009

Beautify CNMI announces slogan and bumper sticker contest

Beautify CNMI is looking for a new slogan following the successful “What we do on the land can affect our marine environment” campaign started in 2006.

In order to find a new slogan, Beautify CNMI is looking to the community for help.

Artists are being asked to come up with a slogan and to design a bumper sticker that goes along with their slogan. The winner will receive $150 cash and fifty of their winning bumper stickers to give out to friends and family.

The contest is open to all residents of all ages of the Commonwealth. Guidelines for the slogan contest are:

• must be original
• must be relevant to the actions and mission of Beautify CNMI.
• The bumper sticker can be square or horizontally rectangular.
• Artists and participants can submit more than one design and more than one artist can work together on a single submission.
• Designs may be by free-hand sketch, drawing or computer generated, but must be in electronic format to be considered.
• Entries must be submitted by noon on October 24, 2009 and must include the artist's full name, mailing address, telephone number and email address if available.

A brief statement explaining the design and slogan may accompany entries.

All entries will become the property of Beautify CNMI and can be used freely by Beautify CNMI and must be received on or before Thursday, October 24, 2009 at noon. Entries are to be submitted via email to angelovillagomez@gmail.com.

Beautify CNMI reserves the right to modify the winning logo at any time but when possible, Beautify CNMI will work with the original artists to make these changes.

Beautify CNMI reserves the right to correct any information that appears in this contest in error and is not responsible for omissions.

For inquiries contact Angelo Villagomez at 670 285 6462

Friday, September 18, 2009

Big Food vs. Big Insurance, by Michael Pollan

To listen to President Obama's speech on Wednesday night, or to just about anyone else in the health care debate, you would think that the biggest problem with health care in America is the system itself - perverse incentives, inefficiencies, unnecessary tests and procedures, lack of competition, and greed.

No one disputes that the $2.3 trillion we devote to the health care industry is often spent unwisely, but the fact that the United States spends twice as much per person as most European countries on health care can be substantially explained, as a study released last month says, by our being fatter. Even the most efficient health care system that the administration could hope to devise would still confront a rising tide of chronic disease linked to diet.
That's why our success in bringing health care costs under control ultimately depends on whether Washington can summon the political will to take on and reform a second, even more powerful industry: the food industry.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three-quarters of health care spending now goes to treat "preventable chronic diseases." Not all of these diseases are linked to diet - there's smoking, for instance - but many, if not most, of them are.

We're spending $147 billion to treat obesity, $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions more to treat cardiovascular disease and the many types of cancer that have been linked to the so-called Western diet. One recent study estimated that 30 percent of the increase in health care spending over the past 20 years could be attributed to the soaring rate of obesity, a condition that now accounts for nearly a tenth of all spending on health care.

The American way of eating has become the elephant in the room in the debate over health care. The president has made a few notable allusions to it, and, by planting her vegetable garden on the South Lawn, Michelle Obama has tried to focus our attention on it. Just last month, Mr. Obama talked about putting a farmers' market in front of the White House, and building new distribution networks to connect local farmers to public schools so that student lunches might offer more fresh produce and fewer Tater Tots. He's even floated the idea of taxing soda.

But so far, food system reform has not figured in the national conversation about health care reform. And so the government is poised to go on encouraging America's fast-food diet with its farm policies even as it takes on added responsibilities for covering the medical costs of that diet. To put it more bluntly, the government is putting itself in the uncomfortable position of subsidizing both the costs of treating Type 2 diabetes and the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup.

Why the disconnect? Probably because reforming the food system is politically even more difficult than reforming the health care system. At least in the health care battle, the administration can count some powerful corporate interests on its side - like the large segment of the Fortune 500 that has concluded the current system is unsustainable.
That is hardly the case when it comes to challenging agribusiness. Cheap food is going to be popular as long as the social and environmental costs of that food are charged to the future. There's lots of money to be made selling fast food and then treating the diseases that fast food causes. One of the leading products of the American food industry has become patients for the American health care industry.

The market for prescription drugs and medical devices to manage Type 2 diabetes, which the Centers for Disease Control estimates will afflict one in three Americans born after 2000, is one of the brighter spots in the American economy. As things stand, the health care industry finds it more profitable to treat chronic diseases than to prevent them. There's more money in amputating the limbs of diabetics than in counseling them on diet and exercise.
As for the insurers, you would think preventing chronic diseases would be good business, but, at least under the current rules, it's much better business simply to keep patients at risk for chronic disease out of your pool of customers, whether through lifetime caps on coverage or rules against pre-existing conditions or by figuring out ways to toss patients overboard when they become ill.

But these rules may well be about to change - and, when it comes to reforming the American diet and food system, that step alone could be a game changer. Even under the weaker versions of health care reform now on offer, health insurers would be required to take everyone at the same rates, provide a standard level of coverage and keep people on their rolls regardless of their health. Terms like "pre-existing conditions" and "underwriting" would vanish from the health insurance rulebook - and, when they do, the relationship between the health insurance industry and the food industry will undergo a sea change.

The moment these new rules take effect, health insurance companies will promptly discover they have a powerful interest in reducing rates of obesity and chronic diseases linked to diet. A patient with Type 2 diabetes incurs additional health care costs of more than $6,600 a year; over a lifetime, that can come to more than $400,000. Insurers will quickly figure out that every case of Type 2 diabetes they can prevent adds $400,000 to their bottom line. Suddenly, every can of soda or Happy Meal or chicken nugget on a school lunch menu will look like a threat to future profits.

When health insurers can no longer evade much of the cost of treating the collateral damage of the American diet, the movement to reform the food system - everything from farm policy to food marketing and school lunches - will acquire a powerful and wealthy ally, something it hasn't really ever had before.

AGRIBUSINESS dominates the agriculture committees of Congress, and has swatted away most efforts at reform. But what happens when the health insurance industry realizes that our system of farm subsidies makes junk food cheap, and fresh produce dear, and thus contributes to obesity and Type 2 diabetes? It will promptly get involved in the fight over the farm bill - which is to say, the industry will begin buying seats on those agriculture committees and demanding that the next bill be written with the interests of the public health more firmly in mind.
In the same way much of the health insurance industry threw its weight behind the campaign against smoking, we can expect it to support, and perhaps even help pay for, public education efforts like New York City's bold new ad campaign against drinking soda. At the moment, a federal campaign to discourage the consumption of sweetened soft drinks is a political nonstarter, but few things could do more to slow the rise of Type 2 diabetes among adolescents than to reduce their soda consumption, which represents 15 percent of their caloric intake.
That's why it's easy to imagine the industry throwing its weight behind a soda tax. School lunch reform would become its cause, too, and in time the industry would come to see that the development of regional food systems, which make fresh produce more available and reduce dependence on heavily processed food from far away, could help prevent chronic disease and reduce their costs.

Recently a team of designers from M.I.T. and Columbia was asked by the foundation of the insurer UnitedHealthcare to develop an innovative systems approach to tackling childhood obesity in America. Their conclusion surprised the designers as much as their sponsor: they determined that promoting the concept of a "foodshed" - a diversified, regional food economy - could be the key to improving the American diet.

All of which suggests that passing a health care reform bill, no matter how ambitious, is only the first step in solving our health care crisis. To keep from bankrupting ourselves, we will then have to get to work on improving our health - which means going to work on the American way of eating.

But even if we get a health care bill that does little more than require insurers to cover everyone on the same basis, it could put us on that course.
For it will force the industry, and the government, to take a good hard look at the elephant in the room and galvanize a movement to slim it down.

© 2009 The New York Times
Michael Pollan is the author, most recently, of In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. His previous book, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006), was named one of the ten best books of 2006 by the New York Times and the Washington Post. He is also the author of The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World (2001); A Place of My Own (1997); and Second Nature (1991). A contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, Pollan is the recipient of numerous journalistic awards, including the James Beard Award for best magazine series in 2003 and the Reuters-I.U.C.N. 2000 Global Award for Environmental Journalism. Pollan served for many years as executive editor of Harper's Magazine and is now the Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at UC Berkeley.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Niue Develops Climate Change Policy Through PACC Support

While it is anticipated that most nations will ultimately suffer the adverse consequences from climate change, Niue remains one of the most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. As such, the island faces the most dire and immediate consequences.

Tropical cyclone Heta in 2004 caused major damage to infrastructure and agriculture estimated as NZ$37.7 million, which is close to three times the value of Niue’s GDP. To be able to address these growing concerns, Niue will need a guiding policy to provide a comprehensive framework to bring all stakeholders together to address climate change issues.

According to the Director of Environment Mr. Sauni Tongatule; “one of the major issues that Niue faces is lack of coordination to address the many facets of climate change and the climate change policy will provide that national framework”.

The policy deals with mitigation and adaptation.

“Even though Niue’s global Greenhouse Gas emission is very minimal, we would like to do our part in mitigating climate change.”

The climate change policy work in Niue was supported from technical assistance by the SPREP and SOPAC and funded by the GEF/UNDP funded Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change project (PACC) as part of its mainstreaming activity.

“The success of the climate change policy hinges on putting in place a workable institutional arrangement,” said Mr. Seve Paeniu, the Sustainable Development Adviser of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

The Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project (PACC) is being implemented in 13 Pacific Island countries. PACC funding will help start adaptation projects on the ground in three major climate change concerns; food security, water and coastal management.

For more details please contact the Project Manager of the Pacific Adaptation to Climate Change Project Mr. Taito Nakalevu E: taiton@sprep.org T: (685) 21929 F: (685) 20231 W: http://www.sprep.org/climate_change/PACC/index.asp



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