Tag Archives: continent

The Antarctic Ice Sheet Is the Smallest It’s Ever Been – Futurism

Posted: February 17, 2017 at 12:40 am

Melting Fast

The Antarctic ice sheet goes through a cycle of expansion and contraction every year. Ultimately, the ice that exists around the continent melts during the southern hemispheres summer, which occurs towards the end of February, and expands again when autumn sets in.

However, that melting is increasing dramatically.

This week, the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)announcedthat the sea ice contracted to just 883,015 sq. miles (2.28m sq. km). The announcement came on February 13, and these numbers mean that the ice is now at the smallest extent on record, reaching just a little smaller than the previous low of 884,173 sq. miles, which was recorded February 27, 1997.

NSIDC director Mark Serreze asserts that we will need to wait for measurements in the coming days before officially confirming this new all-time low; however, he is not optimistic. Unless something funny happens, were looking at a record minimum in Antarctica,Serreze told Reuters.

Climate change skeptics have often pointed to the tendency of the Antarctic ice sheet to expand as evidence against global warming. But with world average temperatures hitting an all time high in 2016, the impact of climate change on planet Earth is getting more pronounced and harder to deny. Weve always thought of the Antarctic as the sleeping elephant starting to stir, Serreze stated;Well, maybe its starting to stir now.

That said, all is not lost. Despite the hesitancy of some world governments when it comes to taking action against fossil fuels and climate change, efforts to reverse the effects of global warming are in no short supply.

The historic Paris Climate Agreement is one such step, with nations beefing up their efforts in transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energylike solar, wind, and even nuclearpower.Moreover,a number of private effortsby companies like Microsoft, who plans to run on 50% renewables, and Tesla, who is pushing for electric cars andsolar powered roofs, provide hope for the future and make the case for renewable energy sources.

If we truly invest in theseefforts, future generations may never have to witness the Antarctic ice sheets receding to such low levels.

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The Antarctic Ice Sheet Is the Smallest It’s Ever Been – Futurism

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Why the liberal world order is worth saving – Irish Times

Posted: February 10, 2017 at 3:45 am

about 20 hours ago Updated: about 19 hours ago

Berlin 1989: It was no accident that, once the Berlin Wall had come down, the freedoms available in the west of the continent were grabbed with both hands by the formerly communist nations in the east. Photograph: Lionel Cironneau/AP.

Sometimes a landscapes contours dissolve into the detail. This is happening now amid the fracturing of the wests liberal order. Brexit, Donald Trump, angry nationalism and populist politics – all are closely reported and rudely debated. Lost to the cacophony is clear sight of just how much is at stake.

For all its blemishes, the post-1945 settlement ushered in a remarkable period of relative peace and prosperity. We can all list the mistakes – whether hubris in Washington, corrupt politicians in Europe or greedy bankers everywhere. But for the most part, the story has been one of rising living standards and a spreading politics of generosity.

Freedom has advanced in step with the absence of war between the great powers. We too easily forget that there is nothing inevitable about peace or the march of democracy.

We might have noticed also the synergy between a rules-based world order and flourishing open societies. What unites peace abroad with democracy at home is the rule of law. Substitute arbitrary power and states fall to war and societies slide towards authoritarianism. That is why we should shiver when Mr Trump, the president of the worlds most powerful democracy, casually challenges the right of US judges to uphold basic freedoms and disdains international co-operation in favour of America-first nationalism.

The system established after 1945 was built on US power. But it endured and, after the end of the cold war, expanded because US leadership was embedded in multilateral rules and institutions. Everyone had a stake. Washington sometimes over-reached – in Vietnam or with the invasion of Iraq. By historys standards, however, the Pax Americana was essentially benign, resting as much on the force of example as military might.

In Europe, a legacy of war between states was replaced by a system that recognised their interdependence. There are lots of things wrong with the EU, but nothing at all when set against what came before. Compare the peace and prosperity of the second half of the 20th century with the barbarism of the first. It was no accident that, once the Berlin Wall had come down, the freedoms available in the west of the continent were grabbed with both hands by the formerly communist nations in the east.

This order, of course, was the creation of the west. The redistribution of power within the global system was always going to impose stresses. Nations such as China have been among the biggest beneficiaries of the US-led open trading system. But Beijing was never going to sign up to liberal democracy or forever abide by rules and institutions of exclusively western design. The challenge was whether the system could be revised to accommodate the aspirations of rising states and contain the resentments of a declining Russia.

What was not predicted was that the rich democracies would turn against their own creation, and the question would become whether they could manage the insurrections within. The textbooks tell us that at moments of global transition established powers such as the US defend the status quo, while rising states such as China seek to upend it.

History has been turned on its head. With Mr Trump, the US has joined the ranks of revisionist powers, threatening to surrender US global leadership in the cause of economic nationalism. Britain has done something similar by repudiating the EU. Germany and Japan are almost alone in seeking to hold on to the old multilateral order.

The charge sheet against western elites is by now familiar enough. Globalisation was rigged in favour of the one per cent. Politicians, mesmerised by markets, conspired in the theft. The incomes of the majority stagnated even as they carried the burden of post-crash austerity. Bankers who should be in jail are still pocketing bonuses. Unchecked migration has heaped cultural dislocation on to the economic insecurities wrought by technological change.

These grievances cannot be brushed aside. Mr Trumps xenophobia, the vote for Brexit in the UK and rising populism across Europe have been fed by the complacency of a political establishment in thrall to unfettered capitalism. Winning back public confidence requires mainstream politicians to deploy the tools of government – taxation, education and welfare policies, and yes, redistribution – to balance the excesses of globalisation.

No one should pretend, though, that the populists have the answer. Protectionism impoverishes everyone. Demonising Muslims will not make anyone safer. Locking out Mexicans or, for that matter, Polish plumbers, will not raise the living standards of workers in the US or Britain. Closed societies are meaner, poorer and more repressive. Rising nationalism most typically provides a backdrop to wars.

Memories are short. In Britain, the Brexit vote has stirred a fashion for rose-tinted spectacles. The 1950s were tough, the story goes, but communities stuck together. There were jobs and opportunities for the white working classes.

Breadline wages and slum housing, hotel signs declaring no dogs, no blacks, no Irish and cabinet ministers who denounced homosexuality as a contagious perversion as dangerous as heroin addiction go unmentioned. Opportunity? University was for a privileged five per cent.

The danger with nostalgia is that it can blind you to progress.

Financial Times Service

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Why the liberal world order is worth saving – Irish Times

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Naomi Campbell and Franca Sozzani Discuss Vogue Africa

Posted: April 7, 2014 at 9:45 pm

In the international family of Vogue magazines, Vogue Italia has often seemed like the politically incorrect uncle who makes a racist joke at your wedding reception. As recently as the March issue this year, the magazine featured a white model in blackface, posing alongside taxidermied safari animals. Then there was the infamous “Haute Mess” editorial of March 2012, which seemed, to many, to be poking fun at the culture of African American women and the incident in 2011, when an online gallery of hoop jewelry was titled “Slave Earrings.”

For all of these reasons, you may not associate editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani with the empowerment of Africa but that is what shes been working toward since June 2012, when she became the global goodwill ambassador for Fashion 4 Development. The campaign is a United Nations initiative that aims to help build the fashion economy in the developing countries of Africa, and has matched up talented fashion workers with scholarships to develop their skills. At the Vogue Festival in London last week, Sozzani sat alongside Naomi Campbell and British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, and spoke about her experiences of the continent.

In slightly broken English, she explained why shed created the May 2012 “Rebranding Africa” issue of LUomo Vogue. For me, LUomo Vogue is not a fashion magazine I mean, it is, of course, but its more how to use fashion as a media to awareness for something else. So when we did [the] African issue, for example, I stayed two weeks in Africa, I interviewed the president of Nigeria, and we put, on the cover, Ban Ki-moon [secretary general of the United Nations]. The goal of the issue, she said, was to show some of the many positive things happening within the continent because if we go home and say Africa is poor, Africa is civil wars, Africa is AIDS, Africa is malaria how can people go there?

Her work for Fashion 4 Development seems to have had two main tactics: nurturing African talent and encouraging the development of a fashion economy; and drawing international attention to the best creative work. She spoke about the talented designers and beautiful fabrics shes seen in Nigeria and Ghana, but lamented that many fabrics sold as “African” are currently manufactured in Holland. More manufacturing needs to happen on African soil to build a sustainable industry, she suggested.

In the midst of this discussion, Naomi Campbell turned to the front row and directed a public request toward Jonathan Newhouse, chairman of Cond Nast International. Im hoping, Jonathan, that we can have African Vogue, she said, laughing in the deadly serious way that only she can. I would be the editor, said Sozzani, and Campbell replied, Ill be an assistant. (Now theres a reality show wed like to see.)

But when pressed by Shulman, Sozzani said she thought the possibility of a Vogue Africa was still very far off. We really have to work much more, and to have more people believe in [Africa]. There is not confidence in these countries [from the international fashion industry] because theyve seen too many things, and of course in the newspapers they only put [negative] things. The good side is huge So now, everybodys talking about Africa, and probably something will happen. I hope so.

Though some parts of the discussion seemed to sweep the continent of Africa into one homogenous whole, it left little doubt that Sozzani is enthusiastically engaged with African fashion and culture. Its just a shame that the biggest magazine she oversees, Vogue Italia, still has a long way to catch up.

Naomi Campbell and Franca Sozzani Discuss Vogue Africa

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For Africa Media Leaders, Press Freedom Isn't Top Concern

Posted: November 9, 2013 at 6:42 am

African media leaders concluded a three-day conference in Ethiopia Friday, where press freedom was not on top of the conference agenda, even though many journalists on the continent face restrictions and repression.

Conference organizers said their core focus was on business development, technology innovation, and leadership and ethics. They believe discussions on the business side of media will automatically result in debates on press freedom.

Alison Bethel of the International Press Institute findsit worrisome that the African Media Leaders Forum did not prioritize the issue of press freedom.

There needs to be more time dedicated to the issue,” she said, “because besides from business models and licensing and other things that are crucial to the media here, press freedom also is a very, very important part of doing business.

There was a one-hour side event organized on the practices and challenges of press freedom in Africa. Journalists from different countries shared their experiences of being harassed, detained and threatened for trying to do their job.

The Committee to Protect Journalists urged the media leaders to address repression in Ethiopia, where the conference is being held. Last week, two Ethiopian journalists were detained for about six days without charges after reporting on local corruption.

More than 75 media publications have been closed in Ethiopia in the past 20 years and seven journalists are currently imprisoned on charges of terrorism.

Amare Aregwi, managing editor of Ethiopias largest English newspaper, The Reporter, says his media colleagues on the continent can also play a role in improving press freedom in Ethiopia:

They can advise you, share their experiences and train you in such things,” Aregwi said. “Sometimes, you dont find people or the government being ready to listen. On the other side also, some of the international media enjoy criticizing and ridiculing rather than helping.

Twenty-eight journalists died on the African continent in 2012, with Somalia being the deadliest country. Twelve African countries have passed freedom of information bills, but they include countries such as Ethiopia and Uganda, which are regularly accused of cracking down on media practitioners.

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For Africa Media Leaders, Press Freedom Isn't Top Concern

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Give nation civics lesson for birthday Third of native-born citizens fail naturalization test

Posted: July 4, 2012 at 12:15 pm

By the time John Adams became president, Americans already had taken to noisy celebrations of Independence Day, of which he heartily approved.

“It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other,” he wrote to his beloved Abigail.

That tradition continues, of course, to the point that not only Independence Day, but its underlying ideals and the sacrifices that made it possible, might be taken for granted.

Immigrants learn civics

The Center for the American Dream at Xavier University recently conducted a survey, asking native-born Americans any 10 of a group of 99 questions on the civics portion of the naturalization test taken by immigrants.

Whereas 97.5 percent of immigrants achieved a passing grade of 60 percent, only 65 percent of citizens born here passed. If the passing grade had been 70, the Xavier researchers reported, only 50 percent of the natives would have passed.

The natives tended to do well on questions related to geography, national symbols and holidays, but poorly regarding principles and ideas.

About 96 percent knew that the Statue of Liberty is in New York Harbor, for example, and 100 percent knew that each star on the U.S. flag represents a state. About 99 percent knew that Barack Obama is president, but only 71 percent correctly identified Joe Biden as vice president; 38 percent could name the governor of their state or the speaker of the U.S. House, and only 37 percent could name one of their state’s two U.S. senators.

Only 7 percent knew that the Constitution has 27 amendments; 8 percent could name any of the authors of the Federalist Papers: John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison.

The right not to know

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Give nation civics lesson for birthday Third of native-born citizens fail naturalization test

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