What’s New January 2010

This page lists changes to this site for January 2010.

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December 7 – December 18, 2009, Copenhagen, Denmark was the venue for the 15th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as the 15th Conference of the Parties — or COP 15.

As with previous conferences, thousands of politicians (including head of states), diplomats, journalists, lobbyists and NGOs attended hoping the summit would finalize a post-Kyoto international agreement on climate change to take effect in 2013.

The build-up to the meeting was full of optimism and hope, as the US was, for the first time in a long time, going to be seen as a positive contributor, and their involvement is always recognized as key. There was also increasing focus on emerging economies such as China and India.

Instead of a positive outcome, most commentators saw it as a failure, though for different reasons.

This article provides a very brief summary of the outcome and related issues:

Towards the end of 2009 it was revealed published a document which purportedly described an Iranian plan to do experiments on what the newspaper described as a neutron initiator for an atomic weapon. However, it seems US intelligence sources find this Iran nuclear document to be a fabrication. Shortly before his term as head of the IAEA ended, Dr. Elbaradei reiterated that using the language of force on this issue has not been helpful and despite some serious failings recently failings by Iran not to disclose an enrichment facility by a certain time, to present the Iran threat as imminent is hype.

This update expands on the above as well as adds a few notes on the recent political violence that has erupted as Iran’s security forces have clamped down on protesters supporting moderate opposition parties.

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Once nations are industrialized, more equal societies almost always do better in terms of health, well-being and social cohesion. Large income inequalities within societies destroys the social fabric and quality of life for everyone.

That is what the Equality Trust in the UK have found after researching numerous aspects of inequality.

They looked at a wide range of health and social problems and found that,

  • Outcomes are substantially worse in more unequal societies
  • The problems tend to move together, implying that they share an underlying cause
  • Whether their findings are tested internationally among the rich countries, or among the 50 states of the USA, there is almost always the same tendency for outcomes to be much worse in more unequal societies.

For industrialized nations, it would seem that economic growth is therefore less important than equality when it comes to social cohesion and individual well-being.

This update includes a video describing this in further detail, as well as charts and graphs showing the relationship between various social factors and inequality.

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There has been 30 years of the UN women’s rights treaty, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Many indicators suggest that immense progress has been made, with the treaty even being described as one of the most successful human rights treaties ever. Nonetheless, numerous challenges remain around the world.

At the same time, it is increasingly accepted that women (especially in poorer countries) are going to be more vulnerable to climate change impacts. This can be for a number of reasons, including poverty, inequality and deprivation.

Fighting for women’s rights and gender equality is therefore seen as crucial from a number of perspectives.

This update includes a few notes on additional progress seen around the world due to the CEDAW treaty as well as information and a couple of videos on how climate change already impacts women in similar ways in places far apart as Bolivia and Vietnam.

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