Uncertain March Changes
In this month’s article there is a change in the air: politics are changing on either side of the North Atlantic and there are several disruptive weather events that could be argued to reflect the political changes in their nature: namely uncertain. There has been extreme flooding in Peru, a cyclone in Australia and the EU is celebrating 60 years but with the UK planning to leave the union. We live in “interesting times”. The uncertainty in politics and weather ultimately will affect people and how they live – the extreme weather could ultimately be more disruptive and lead to property damages in one form or another. There is a strong geographical component to both the weather impacts and the political ones. The political changes may be seen on a wider scale to the regions that they are occurring within.
Cyclone Debbie Hits Australia
Queensland, in North East Australia, has been hit by an extreme storm event on the 28 March 2017: Cyclone Debbie. Some areas had the equivalent of half a year’s worth of rain – 1,000mm (39 inches) in just 2 days. It has left 63,000 homes were without power. The cyclone, which was around 100km wide, moved in from the Pacific Ocean and caused much disruption with winds of up to 263kmh (163 mph). It has also likely damaged coral reefs which will take many years to recover and will remove a natural sea defence. The storm intensified to category 4 strength cyclone on landfall from a category 2 strength cyclone. As a result there was a storm surge along the coast. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology issued this press release about the storm as it was predicted to land.
American Climate Change Plans
Ironically whilst the extreme storm was disrupting Australia, in the USA the Government were busy issuing an Energy Independence Executive Order to repeal some Climate Change legislation and invest more in coal and fossil fuel projects including pipelines. The orders seem to be at odds with the science and the general trend towards clean, renewable energy supplies. Many states have strong plans to develop their own clean energy (e.g. New York and California) and highlight the fact that basic science is being fundamentally ignored. Carbon dioxide is mainly responsible for climate change and this fact is being disputed. 97% of climate scientists are convinced that, based upon empirical evidence, climate change is being caused by human activity and largely through carbon dioxide emissions.
Mr Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), from the previous administration, is being debated in the courts. This plan was designed to cut fossil fuels usage from energy production. The plan now is to go backwards to technologies that are old and not going to deliver any common good. The clean energy revolution is very effective at creating new jobs by the thousands and ones that will be sustained into the future.
Details of this proposed legislative changes are highlighted on the BBC web site.
In South America there have been some extreme flood events. In Chile, which had suffered from wild fires, there have been some extreme floods. There have also been some extreme floods in Peru. The River Piura, in the north of Peru, burst its banks causing extensive flooding. The flooding meant that more than 500 people had to be evacuated from rooftops in the town of Catacaos. Here the flood water levels rose to 1.80m (5ft 9in). The flooding was caused by very intense rainfall over a 15 hour period. These rains have been the heaviest in almost a decade. Overall in Peru, 10,000 people had been affected in the city of Piura and around 20,000 people in Catacaos. Peru has seen more extreme rainfall, landslides and associated flash floods in 2017. 90 people have been killed. Further information is on the BBC web site.
European Treaty of Rome 60 Years On
It is 60 years since the Treaty of Rome which led to the eventual formation of the European Union (EU). The European cooperation and economic bloc became ever bigger over the years since 1957 and has expanded eastwards, as well as to the north and south of Europe. Talks have considered the membership of Turkey too. Ironic for a country that is mainly outside of Europe.
The EU has strived to improve Europe on many levels over the years, but the future direction of European integration may now be questioned. There is a need to increase the economic prosperity of Europe and its citizens as well as ensuring internal and external security. Economic and social convergence and bringing wider European society closer together has been a goal. Has enlargement gone too far – has the EU been too successful or is it likely to continue with its goals and direction of travel. Further reading can be found on the EuObserver web site here and on this opinion of the 60 years of the EU and what the future may hold.
The UK Triggers Exit Process to Leave the EU
In the 60th year of the EU it now faces a challenge of a main member wishing to leave the union. Just as agreed (in March 2017) the UK Government has triggered the two-year exit procedure from the EU – based on Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. This follows from a referendum held in 2016 where marginally more that 50% of the population voted leave the EU. The process is likely to take 2 years to negotiate a deal. There is much uncertainty with this and what will happen over the period. The 27 EU states will have a summit on April 29 to draw up the EU negotiating guide lines. Further notes can be found on the article from EuObserver.