13 August 2019   Leave a comment

The Paris Agreements on climate change were a set of policies designed to keep the increase of global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius. That increase was determined to be critical to efforts to prevent catastrophic changes which would be either difficult or impossible to accommodate. The Washington Post, however, has published an article that indicates that many places in the US have already passed temperature increases equal to or higher than 2 degrees C.:

“NOAA data shows that in every Northeast state except Pennsylvania, the temperatures of the winter months of December through February have risen by 2 degrees Celsius since 1895-1896. And U.S. Geological Survey data shows that ice breaks up in New England lakes nine to 16 days earlier than in the 19th century.

“This doesn’t mean the states can’t have extreme winters anymore. Polar vortex events, in which frigid Arctic air descends into the heart of the country, can still bring biting cold. But the overall trend remains the same and is set to continue. One recent study found that by the time the entire globe crosses 2 degrees Celsius, the Northeast can expect to have risen by about 3 degrees Celsius, with winter temperatures higher still.”

There are several other areas of the US that have passed the 2 degree increase, and all areas of the US except for the deep South have experienced higher average temperatures. Globally, last July was the warmest month ever recorded.

The situation in Hong Kong continues to deteriorate as protesters and riot police have violent exchanges. For the second day in a row, flights in and out of the airport have been cancelled. The Guardian describes the change in tone:

“The messages from Beijing to protesters in Hong Kong are increasingly ominous. First there was propaganda footage of Chinese soldiers garrisoned in Hong Kong drilling for intense urban fighting that looked more like a civil war than search and rescue or crowd control.

“Now footage has emerged of armoured paramilitary vehicles massing across the border. Two months into demonstrations sparked by a controversial extradition law, official rhetoric from Beijing has escalated too. Authorities recently denounced protests as “terrorist acts”, promised an “iron fist” response and, perhaps most alarmingly, described the movement as a ‘colour revolution’.

China considered the pro-democracy protests which swept across the former Soviet Union during the early years of this century, most prominently Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution, to be existential threats to be tackled at almost any cost. Putting the same label on protesters implies Beijing will stop at little to crush the movement.”

US President Trump tweeted some rather extraordinary information today: “Our Intelligence has informed us that the Chinese Government is moving troops to the Border with Hong Kong. Everyone should be calm and safe!” It is highly unusual for a power to relate classified intelligence about the internal problems of another power (just imagine what a tit-for-tat exchange of intelligence suggesting vulnerability would look like). But Mr. Trump did not support the protesters, although a number of US politicians, both Republican and Democratic, voiced support for the protesters.

The protesters have also amplified their demands. Kevin Drum outlines their objectives in Mother Jones:

” The movement now has five key demands for Hong Kong’s government:

  • to withdraw the extradition bill
  • to officially retract descriptions of the protests as a “riot”
  • to drop charges against protesters
  • to launch an investigation into police force during the protests
  • “universal suffrage,” which would allow Hong Kong voters to directly pick their leaders rather than the current process that includes Beijing’s involvement.

The US should be strongly supportive of these demands. There is no question that China will regard US expressions of support as meddling in their internal affairs. So be it.

Posted August 13, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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