Authors of research papers and articles on global issues for this month
Patriarche Athenagoras, John Scales Avery, William Boardman, Rand Clifford (2), Countercurrents.org (2),
Tara DePorte, Margaret Flowers, Sarah van Gelder, Suzanne Goldenberg,
Chris Hedges, Tatomir Ion-Marius, Franklin Lamb, Tara Lohan, Charles Mercieca,
George Monbiot, Laray Polk, Glenn Scherer, Bruce Stutz, Think Progress,
Colin Todhunter, Asad Wahab, Kevin Zeese, Carl Zimmer
Patriarche Athenagoras, La guerre la plus dure c'est la guerre contre soi- meme.
John Scales Avery, Economic Predictions For 2013
William Boardman, Keystone Pipeline Rolls Over Opponents, But Resistance Grows
Rand Clifford, The Wicked Brew That Would Be Transported in the Keystone XL Pipeline
Rand Clifford, Keystone XL: DilBit Through The Heartland
Countercurrents.org, 2012: 9th Warmest Year Since 1880, Find NASA Scientists
Countercurrents.org, Global Warming Is Changing American Way Of Life
Tara DePorte, How a Country With One of the World's Largest Economies Is Ditching Fossil Fuels
Margaret Flowers & Kevin Zeese, People Must Lead the Way To Save The Planet
Sarah van Gelder, Obama Inaugurates Renewed Energy On Climate Change
Suzanne Goldenberg, What Happens When Fracking Hits the Suburbs
Chris Hedges, The Myth of Human Progress
Tatomir Ion-Marius, Puisse la Paix régner dans le Monde
Franklin Lamb, US-Led Sanctions Contribute To The Destruction Of Syria’s Millenary History
Tara Lohan, 5 Reasons Natural Gas Won’t Be an Environmental and Economic Savior
Charles Mercieca, Role of Religion in the World Community
George Monbiot, 2012: The Year We Did Our Best to Abandon the Natural World
Laray Polk, Why Scientists Are in Alarm Mode Over the Keystone XL Pipeline
Glenn Scherer, Climate Risks Have Been Underestimated for the Last 20 Years
Bruce Stutz, Too Big To Flood? Megacities Face Future of Major Storm Risk
Think Progress, Activists Gather in DC: 5 Reasons Why Obama Should Reject The Keystone XL Pipeline
Colin Todhunter, Blowing In The Wind: The Global Control Of Food, Countries And Populations
Asad Wahab, Want Peace? Talk To Your Enemy!
Kevin Zeese & Margaret Flowers, People Must Lead the Way To Save The Planet
Carl Zimmer, Black Carbon And Warming: It’s Worse Than We Thought
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|January 26, 2013||
US-Led Sanctions Contribute To The Destruction Of Syria’s Millenary History by Franklin Lamb, Countercurrents.org
What a difference a week can make. The heaviest snow in Syria in a quarter-century, some claimed, last week’s storm closed for a time even the main highway from Damascus to Beirut.
But that was then and now its spring in Damascus, or so it feels to those of us used to New England Januarys. It’s nearly downright balmy here. Spring flowers are bursting out all over and the city parks are crowded with mothers pushing baby carriages, kids playing and young lovers cooing softly on the park benches. Park workers are raking the dead leaves and others trimming the palm trees and piling the branches neatly on flatbed trucks.
What “civil war”? What “crisis”? One is tempted to ask himself even though there continues to be intermittent “thuds” and a jet streaking overhead now and then en route apparently to one of the suburbs where clashes erupt intermittently.
It’s been a rough winter and perhaps we are just experiencing here a false spring. Yet one senses a palpable sigh of relief and even some optimism while talking to citizens, NGO staffers and some officials. It could be partly the wonderful weather but perhaps also a realization that a corner may have been turned, peace and security will be restored and the killing ended. Some refugees are to be seen returning to Damascus. Syrians and Palestinians from Lebanon — yet there are still traffic backups with cars piled high with personal belongings crossing over to Lebanon at the Masnaa border checkpoint. Meanwhile the Ministry of Interior in Damascus has pledged various forms of help to those who heed the governments call to “come back home to your people.”
Energized by the exhilarating park ambiance this observer decided to walk to UNESCO headquarters for an appointment. Plus it can be kind of tough at times to find a taxi these days.
Perhaps I should have remained in the park. Lord knows that this observer has experienced his share of irate women shouting at him over the years. Being raised by three older sisters and a no-nonsense German/Italian mother- all of them unmercifully wanting to correct my behavior was a mere harbinger of things to come. But, even with this “training”, I was ill prepared for what the lady at the UNESCO office here in central Damascus unleashed on me.
And I had not done the lady wrong.
Except, perhaps, that I happen to be an American and there is plenty of anger here among the Syrian public, the NGO’s, and increasingly the international legal community among others — not toward the American people but toward the US government — over the effects of its sanctions which are severely and illegally targeting the civilian population. At the same time they are directly contributing to prospects of irreparably damaging many of this millenary country’s historic sites.
According to archeological experts here, Syria, with its six UNESCO world heritage sites testifying to its deserved reputation as being one of the most archeologically well-preserved cradles of civilization, may soon to be the most wantonly destroyed in modern times (Iraq being the other). This frequently-predicted catastrophe is a result, not only of war in the usual sense, but war in its more subtle form of US-led sanctions aimed at political regime change.
Of particular concern to UNESCO, whose UN mandate includes registering and protecting World historical sites, is the preservation of the Ancient Cities of Damascus, Bosra, Palmyra, Aleppo, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’ at Salah El-Din, as well as the ancient villages of Northern Syria.
This week, the Syrian Directorate of Antiquities and Museums has released its detailed report of acts of vandalism and illegal excavations by armed groups and foreign thieves across Syria. The Directorate has documented violations against archeological sites and Syrian museums, as well the emerging phenomenon of artifact forgery. In Aleppo, the Antiquities division reported that al-Diriya caves in Samaan Mountain suffered from acts of sabotage, adding that “terrorists have looted the equipment of excavations, wooden columns and timbers.”
Also, this week, Human Rights Watch issued a report that Saudi-Qatar-US backed militants destroyed religious locations following a four-day investigation in the provinces of Latakia and Idlib. According to HRW, a Husseiniyah (a congregation hall for Shia commemoration ceremonies) was destroyed by the militants in Idlib, while two Christian churches were looted in Latakia. The Middle East director at the Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson claimed that Syria “will lose its rich cultural and religious diversity if armed groups do not respect places of worship.”
Against this backdrop, it is not totally surprising that my UNESCO hostess, less than half a minute after I entered her office, literally threw at me a statement in French from Director Irina Bokova of the UNESCO HQ in Paris. It read:
“I am deeply distressed by the daily news about the escalation of damage to cultural heritage throughout Syria. We saw damage to the Citadel in July and the souks ten days ago, and the Umayyad Mosque, heart of the religious life of the city, one of the most beautiful mosques in the Muslim world, is being severely endangered. In Northern Syria, the region of the Ancient Villages inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2011 is heavily struck and it seems that the invaluable Saint-Simeon Byzantine complex might have been torched.”
Before I could finish reading, the lady exclaimed: “These testimonials from the past!…” raising her voice and glaring at me while pointing to the posters of Syrian historical sites on her wall, “the destruction of this heritage for which your sanctions are partly responsible. Your government is responsible today and will be tomorrow, for the whole of humanity.” When I was eventually able to get a word in sideways, I explained that I had come to her office precisely because I have been studying the immoral, illegal and “un-American” sanctions and that I was spending my time in Syria learning first-hand about the sanctions’ utter disregard for the humanitarian concerns of the Syrian people — in contravention to what one hears repeatedly from US officials.
When I added, I don’t know any Americans who would condone what the Congress and our government have been doing, if they knew the facts on the ground, she did calm down a bit and said she understood what I was saying and more or less agreed. She then mentioned a national poll conducted on 13 January by the Better World Campaign, an organization that works to support U.S.-U.N. relations, that showed that 83 percent of US citizens believe it is important that their country provide funding to UNESCO and want the US to lift its sanctioning of UNESCO and pay its withheld budget contribution, which accounts for 22% of the UN specialized agency’s budget.
“Let me tell you something!” she exclaimed and launched into describing the dire effects of the current US-led sanctions on UNESCO’s work in preserving and protecting historical sites. In her view, the American assault on UNESCO and its work began when UNESCO committed a sin in March of 2011 by admitting Palestine as a full member.
She explained: “For months our offices had been warned by Israeli officials and then Americans, that there would be a big price-tag were we to admit Palestine.” And there was. In October 2011, the U.S. cut off funding to UNESCO as payback for admitting Palestine as a member and in November 2012, the United States was one of nine member states out of 193 in the General Assembly who, on behalf of the Zionist occupiers of Palestine, tried to unsuccessfully bar Palestine from gaining non-member observer state status at the UN.
UNESCO and some other NGO staff here claim that much of the damage here could have been prevented if there was a lifting of the US 2011 cut-off of UNESCO’s budget. As a direct result, UNESCO cannot even replace more than 400 staffers who left from normal attrition or even hire “neighborhood watch,” local volunteer personnel, to coordinate the guarding by of many archeological sites around Syria.
Regarding the other layers of US-led sanctions targeting the civilian population here, a survey by NGO’s on the impact of the fake “medicine and foods” exemptions will soon be released. Its indictment of the US-led sanctions is severe. Contrary to Washington and NATO mythology, the “medicine and foods” exemptions do not exist in reality because suppliers of both fear being accused of violating the great number of sanction details. Washington and Brussels are acutely aware of this fact.
Among the data that will be presented in the soon-to-be released analysis, are cases of cancer patients who need weekly medicines but are now only able to receive them twice a month, with the expected dire consequences. The same obtains for many other long term care patients who need specific medicines, even as generic as penicillin, which are no longer available as they were before the US-led sanctions.
Just as I was preparing to leave her office, she softened a bit and asked this observer. “See here, I generally like Americans who we come in contact with here but how can you explain these sanctions — or those in Iraq or Afghanistan that have killed so many?”
I tried to explain that we have a culture clash in America that means that many Americans overwhelmingly support UNESCO and the work of all sixteen of the UN Specialized Agencies but we also have politicians like Arizona Senator John McCain and South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham who never saw a war they did not like. The former just returned from another visit to the region and apparently learned nothing except that he still wants a military solution.
The latter, who is known for his jokes on Capitol Hill that as a “true southerner” he never got over the American Civil War or what it did to American society, has repeatedly expressed his view of US “economic” sanctions by declaring recently, “Sanctions are good but they need to be tougher! Cut the bastards off at the knees.”
Senator Graham also noted his agreement with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who made the repulsive statement that the deaths of 500,000 children in Iraq from a US “economic sanctions” regime that “exempted foods and medicine” but in reality was a starvation program “was worth the price.”
Ironically, it was the arch-nemesis of the Confederacy, Yankee General William Tecumseh Sherman, who might agree with Graham regarding sanctions against a civilian population. What has bothered Senator Graham since he first studied the Civil War in school, according to one Congressional source, is that the Yankee February 17, 1865 captured Graham’s state capital of Columbia, South Carolina. It was not pretty and most of the central city was destroyed. But the Yankee and the Confederate might just agree on targeting civilian populations with economic sanctions. Wrote Sherman, shortly before his March to the Sea which fatally cut the south in two:
“We are not fighting against enemy armies, but against an enemy people, young and old, rich and poor, and they must feel the iron hand of war in the same way as organized armies.”
I left the UNESCO office sort of crestfallen. Not because of the lady’s roughness with me, but rather because of the realization, yet once again, that our species quite simply does not learn much from history and apparently will repeat it until the end of times. May God protect the people, everywhere, from the politicians.
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and can be reached c/o email@example.com
|January 22, 2013||
Obama Inaugurates Renewed Energy On Climate Change by Sarah van Gelder , The Guardian, Countercurrents.org
That the president put climate change so high on his second-term agenda surprised many. But action must follow words
During his 2008 campaign, he spoke of working for the moment when the rise of the oceans would begin to slow and our planet would begin to heal. During the 2012 election campaign, he was mocked for that statement.
But no one was laughing this fall when waves swept over lower Manhattan and towns up and down the eastern seaboard; nor this summer when much of the US midwest suffered from drought and brave firefighters battled unprecedented fires across the west. Obama spoke in Monday's inaugural address of our responsibility to "preserve our planet", recognizing that "the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations".
So can we expect the president to take the sort of leadership on the climate that many have hoped for since his 2008 campaign? In particular, will he stand up to the pressure of the fossil fuel lobby?
Here are the top things he can do to turn those intentions into the actions that would be up to the scale of the problem. Many of them can happen without the consent of congressional Republicans.
First, President Obama proposed a national conversation on climate during his first post-2012 election press conference. He should launch that conversation with clear statements about the urgency of the climate science, an explanation of what is at stake, and a call to all Americans to be part of the change.
It's important that he not dumb this down. We need to know what it means to have experienced record-breaking temperatures, floods, droughts, wild fires, melting ice caps, and extreme storms. When given a full account of a threat, the American people have risen to big challenges in the past. We did it during the second world war when millions enlisted in the military, grew "victory gardens", recycled, and went to work in factories to aid the war effort. He should call on us to be the next "greatest generation."
Second, he should drop the "all of the above" approach to energy development. As Bill McKibben of 350.org shows, 80 percent of the fossil fuel now in the ground must stay there if we are to stabilize an increasingly chaotic climate. That means instead of giving subsidies, tax breaks, and a regulatory pass to fossil fuel companies, these advantages should instead be given to businesses developing renewables and energy efficiency.
Third, he should propose a straightforward tax on carbon. This approach actually has the support of such Republicans as George Shultz, as well as former top aides to Mitt Romney and John McCain. Even ExxonMobile says it could support such a tax. A carbon tax would send the right market signal, nudging our economy toward one that is safe for the planet. The billions of dollars raised by such a tax could help pay down the deficit, pay for investments in the clean energy economy, or be rebated directly to every American.
Finally, Obama should use the regulatory authority he already has. He should put a permanent stop to the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport some of the most carbon-intensive, polluting oil on the planet across the American heartland. He should instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to move ahead aggressively with regulation of existing power plants, which account for 40 percent of the country's greenhouse gas emissions.
Stepping up to the climate challenge need not compete with the other goals he outlined in his inauguration speech. Building a clean energy economy will produce good jobs that lift more people into the middle class and build a sustainable and widely shared prosperity. Reducing fossil fuel pollutants will improve our health and reduce healthcare costs.
Less reliance on fossil fuels will bolster our security. And we could avoid spending untold sums cleaning up after massive storms and adapting to droughts and rising sea levels.
Obama's speech shows he has the potential to be not just an historic president but a transformational one. Hopes have been raised and dashed before, though. If there was ever a moment for Barack Obama to take a stand and establish a legacy, this is it.
Eighty percent of Americans agree that inaction on climate change would have serious consequences. The fact that he need not run for re-election frees him from the need to placate the oil and coal lobby. And scientists agree we have only a few years to change directions if we are to avert a climate catastrophe that would dash the hopes of generations to come.
This project is far too big for any one person, even the president of the United States. Our best hope is an inside-outside strategy – one in which the Obama administration reaches out to those who are already on the front lines battling the climate crisis, as well as those who are just now coming to recognize the threat we face. And those on the outside must reciprocate.
Obama says we can lead the way together. People across the country and the globe have been doing so. Now is the time for the president to join them and take the bold actions that will serve generations to come.
Sarah van Gelder is co-founder and executive editor of YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. She is also editor of the new book: "This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement."
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited
|January 20, 2013||
Black Carbon And Warming: It’s Worse Than We Thought by Carl Zimmer, Yale Environment 360, Countercurrents.org
A new study indicates soot, known as black carbon, plays a far greater role in global warming than previously believed and is second only to CO2 in the amount of heat it traps in the atmosphere. Reducing some forms of soot emissions — such as from diesel fuel and coal burning — could prove effective in slowing down the planet’s warming
It rises from the chimneys of mansions and from simple hut stoves. It rises from forest fires and the tail pipes of diesel-fueled trucks rolling down the highway, and from brick kilns and ocean liners and gas flares. Every day, from every occupied continent, a curtain of soot rises into the sky.
What soot does once it reaches the atmosphere has long been a hard question to answer. It’s not that scientists don’t know anything about the physics and chemistry of atmospheric soot. Just the opposite: it does so many things that it’s hard to know what they add up to.
To get a clear sense of soot — which is known to scientists as black carbon — an international team of 31 atmospheric scientists has worked for the past four years to analyze all the data they could. This week, they published a 232-page report in the Journal of Geophysical Research. “It’s an important assessment of where we stand now,” says Veerabhadran Ramanathan of the Scripps Institution for Oceanography, an expert on atmospheric chemistry who was not involved in the study.
The big result that jumps off the page is that black carbon plays a much bigger role in global warming than many scientists previously thought. According to the new analysis, it is second only to carbon dioxide in the amount of heat it traps in the atmosphere. The new estimate of black carbon’s heat-trapping power is about twice that made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007.
This result suggests that cutting black carbon emissions could go a long way to slowing climate change. But the authors of the new study warn that we’ll need to be careful about the sort of black carbon we choose to cut. “There’s a significant potential, but you have to be very targeted,” said co-author Sarah Doherty of the University of Washington.
Soot is made up of tiny dark particles. When it rises from fires, it mixes with dust, sulphates, and other material rising from the ground. As it ascends through the atmosphere, it can drift into clouds, mixing with the water droplets. Rain and snow then wash out the black carbon particles and bring them back to Earth.
Along the way, black carbon exerts all sorts of influences, some of which help warm the atmosphere and some of which cool it. When sunlight strikes black carbon, its dark hue causes it to heat up, something like the way a black tar roof gets hot on a sunny day. When black carbon falls on ice and snow, it smudges their bright white reflective surfaces. As a result, less sunlight bounces back out to space, leading to more warming.
In clouds, black carbon has a dazzling number of effects. “The more we study it, the more mechanisms people find,” says Doherty.
If black carbon heats up the layer of the atmosphere where clouds are forming, for example, they will evaporate. They can no longer reflect sunlight back into space, and so the soot-laced clouds end up warming the atmosphere. But black carbon that hangs above low-lying stratocumulus clouds has a different effect. It stabilizes the layer of air on top of the clouds, promoting their growth. It just so happens that thick stratocumulus clouds are like shields, blocking incoming sunlight. As a result, black carbon also ends up cooling the planet.
All these effects depend, ultimately, on how much soot is in the air, which, in turn, depends on the many different kinds of sources of soot all over the world. Estimating that flux is a major challenge, and so it’s not too surprising that different teams of scientists have ended up with markedly different estimates for the net effect of soot on the climate.
In 2009, Doherty and her colleagues set out to make careful estimates of all sources of black carbon, using data from monitoring stations around the world. They then ran computer models of the atmosphere to measure the effects of the black carbon, based on what scientists have learned about chemical reactions in clouds from experiments and observations. Along with the effect that soot had on clouds, the scientists also estimated the total amount of warming that occurred as the soot directly absorbed sunlight, and as it darkened snow and ice.
After the scientists had taken into account all of these effects, they tallied them up to calculate how much extra energy was being stored in the atmosphere thanks to black carbon. Climate scientists typically express that energy as watts per square meter of the Earth’s surface. The number they got — 1.1 watts — was enormous. Carbon dioxide, the biggest heat-trapper in the atmosphere, is responsible for an estimated 1.56 watts per square meter. Black carbon takes second place. “It took a while to convince ourselves it was correct,” says Doherty.
If black carbon is responsible for trapping so much heat, then reducing soot may be an effective way to slow down the planet’s warming. It’s even more attractive because black carbon washes quickly out of the atmosphere, and so reducing soot emissions would lead to a fast fall in the concentration of black carbon in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, by contrast, lingers for centuries in the atmosphere.
James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies has been arguing for such a strategy for over a decade. But the new study reveals a paradox in reducing soot to fight global warming. If tomorrow we could shut down every brick kiln, every burning farm field, and every other source of soot, we would, on balance, have no effect on global warming whatsoever.
How can this be? Because when things burn, black carbon is not the only thing they produce. A forest fire produces black carbon as well as organic carbon molecules. The forest fire black carbon helps to warm the planet, but the organic carbon creates a haze that blocks sunlight, cooling the atmosphere. The two emissions cancel each other out. “In the real world you can’t just get rid of black carbon emissions,” says Doherty. “You get rid of other things as well.”
But Doherty and her colleagues found that some sources of soot — including coal and diesel fuel — produce a lot of warming with very little compensating cooling. They suggest that these sources should be the top priority for efforts to fight global warming.
Diesel fuel looks to be an especially ripe target. “That message is loud and clear,” says Ramanathan. Making diesel an even more attractive candidate for attack is the fact that reducing much of its black carbon emissions might simply be a matter of upgrading old, soot-spewing engines with newer technology. Developing countries, in particular, could put in place regulations about burning diesel to upgrade their rapidly growing auto fleets.
Coal is another potent source of warming from soot, the scientists found, whether burned industrially or at home. So are the small stoves that billions of people use to cook. Fueled by wood or coal, they spew billows of sooty smoke. Engineers in recent years have designed efficient, cheap stoves that release much less black carbon. Getting those stoves into people’s homes would take a lot of warming soot out of the atmosphere.
Doherty does not see her new study as the end of the story. While she and her colleagues conclude that soot most likely produces 1.1 watts per square meter, they still put a margin of error on their results. They calculate that there’s a 90 percent chance the actual figure falls between .17 and 2.1 watts. To tighten that range, they still need to better understand the many ways that soot alters clouds, and also get a better fix on the amount of soot each source produces. “We need to dig deeper on that,” she says.
Nevertheless, Doherty and her colleagues see many good reasons not to wait for a more precise understanding of soot before taking steps to reduce it. Along with its effect on the global climate, a number of studies also indicate it has powerful influences on some regions of the planet. A lot of soot falls onto the glaciers of Himalayas, for example, speeding up their melting. Millions of people depend on that ice for their water supply. Soot also has a particularly large effect on the circulation of the atmosphere around India, which ultimately reduces the amount of rainfall produced by monsoons.
Even before soot gets far into the air, it has a particularly harmful effect: it makes people sick. In recent days, news reports from China have provided startling images of Beijing swaddled in a blanket of sooty smog. That air pollution, from cars and coal-fired plants, takes a terrible toll on the country’s health. Far from the world’s urban centers, poor people suffer from air pollution in their own homes when they cook with smoky stoves and breathe in black carbon and other pollutants.
These benefits of cutting black carbon were already apparent before Doherty and her colleagues published their new study; now it’s clear that cutting soot could help not just personal health, but planetary health as well.
Carl Zimmer writes about science for The New York Times and a number of magazines. A 2007 winner of the National Academies of Science Communication Award, he is the author of six books, including Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life. In previous articles for Yale Environment 360, he has written about how ecologists are using network theory and explored how the world’s bacteria will influence — and be influenced by — a warming climate.
|January 17, 2013||
2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, said NASA scientists. They apprehend on the current course of GHG increases each successive decade to be warmer than the previous decade.
The scientists said: 2012 was continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the nine warmest years in the 132-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record.
The NASA news  said:
NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated analysis January 15, 2013 that compares temperatures around the globe in 2012 to the average global temperature from the mid-20th century. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience warmer temperatures than several decades ago.
The average temperature in 2012 was about 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit (14.6 Celsius), which is 1.0 F (0.6 C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline. The average global temperature has risen about 1.4 degrees F (0.8 C) since 1880, according to the new analysis.
Scientists emphasize that weather patterns always will cause fluctuations in average temperature from year to year, but the continued increase in greenhouse gas levels in Earth's atmosphere assures a long-term rise in global temperatures. Each successive year will not necessarily be warmer than the year before, but on the current course of greenhouse gas increases, scientists expect each successive decade to be warmer than the previous decade.
"One more year of numbers isn't in itself significant," GISS climatologist Gavin Schmidt said. "What matters is this decade is warmer than the last decade, and that decade was warmer than the decade before. The planet is warming. The reason it's warming is because we are pumping increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."
Driven by increasing man-made emissions, the level of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere has been rising consistently for decades.
The carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere was about 285 parts per million in 1880, the first year in the GISS temperature record. By 1960, the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, measured at NOAA's Mauna Loa Observatory, was about 315 parts per million. Today, that measurement exceeds 390 parts per million.
The temperature analysis produced at GISS is compiled from weather data from more than 1,000 meteorological stations around the world, satellite observations of sea-surface temperature, and Antarctic research station measurements. A publicly available computer program is used to calculate the difference between surface temperature in a given month and the average temperature for the same place during 1951 to 1980. This three-decade period functions as a baseline for the analysis. The last year that experienced cooler temperatures than the 1951 to 1980 average was 1976.
The GISS temperature record is one of several global temperature analyses, along with those produced by the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. These three primary records use slightly different methods, but overall, their trends show close agreement.
In another news report , Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, guardian.co.uk said:
NOAA scientists say 2012 global temperature records further consolidate a pattern of global warming.
Temperature records compiled separately by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found global surface temperatures rose 1.03F above the long-term average last year, but did not match America's record-breaking heat.
By NASA's records, that makes 2012 the ninth hottest year on record globally. NOAA's data set put it at the 10th hottest year. The agencies use different methods to analyze data.
In both cases, scientists said the 2012 global temperature records further consolidate a pattern of global warming. Each year of the 21st century has ranked among the 14 hottest since record keeping began in 1880.
With 36 years of above-average temperatures, nobody born since 1976 has lived through a colder than average year.
Tom Karl, director of NOAA's national climatic data centre, told a reporters' conference call the US temperatures were "remarkable".
According to an ongoing temperature analysis conducted by scientists at NASA, the average global temperature on Earth has increased by about 0.8C (1.4F) since 1880, (left 1880-1889) compared to today (right 2000-2009). Photograph: GISS/NASA
"The planet is out of balance and therefore we can predict with confidence that the next decade is going to be warmer," James Hansen said.
Aside from the US, and South America, most of Europe, Africa, western, southern, and far north-eastern Asia experienced above-average temperatures.
Britain also experienced slightly below average temperatures, at 0.2F below the 1981-2010 average, which was attributed to the cool summer and autumn. Britain also experienced its second wettest year since records began in 2010.
 NASA Global Climate Change news, Jan 15, 2013, “NASA Finds 2012 Sustained Long-Term Climate Warming Trend”,
 Jan 16, 2013“2012 among the 10 warmest years on record, figures show”,
|January 14, 2013||
Global warming is changing America from sea to rising sea and is affecting Americans’ way of life. Scientists issue fresh warning about climate crisis.
An AP report  by Seth Borenstein said:
A special panel of 240 scientists convened by the US government issued on Jan 11, 2013 a 1,146-page draft report detailing ways climate change is disrupting the health, homes and other facets of daily American life.
"Climate change and its impacts threaten the well-being of urban residents in all 13 regions of the U.S.," the report said. "Essential local and regional infrastructure systems such as water, energy supply, and transportation will increasingly be compromised by interrelated climate change impacts."
"Several populations - including children, the elderly, the sick, the poor, tribes and other indigenous people - are especially vulnerable to one or more aspects of climate change," the report said.
The report cited 13 airports runways could be inundated by rising sea level. It mentioned that thawing Alaskan ground means 50 percent less time to drill for oil. Up to $6.1 billion in repairs need to be made to Alaskan roads, pipelines, sewer systems, buildings and airports to keep up with global warming.
Sewer systems across America may overflow more, causing damages and fouling lakes and waterways because of climate change, the report said. The sewer overflows into Lake Michigan alone will more than double by the year 2100, the report said.
The scientists warned that these disruptions will increase in the future. The report uses the word "threat" or variations of it 198 times and versions of the word "disrupt" another 120 times.
"Climate change affects everything that you do," said report co-author Susan Cutter, director of the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of South Carolina. "It affects where you live, where you work and where you play and the infrastructure that you need to do all these things. It's more than just the polar bears."
White House science adviser John Holdren writes that the report will help leaders, regulators, city planners and even farmers figure out what to do to cope with coming changes.
And climate change is more than hotter temperatures, the report said.
"Human-induced climate change means much more than just hotter weather," the report said, listing rising-seas, downpours, melting glaciers and permafrost, and worsening storms. "These changes and other climatic changes have affected and will continue to affect human health, water supply, agriculture, transportation, energy, and many other aspects of society."
If someone were to list every aspect of life changed or likely to be altered from global warming, it would easily be more than 100, said two of the report's authors.
The report is required every four years by law. The first report was written in 2000. No report was issued while George W. Bush was president. The next one came out in 2009. This report, paid for by the federal government, is still a draft and not officially a government report yet. Officials are seeking public comments for the next three months.
"There is so much that is already happening today," said study co-author Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. "This is no longer a future issue. It's an issue that is staring us in the face today"
This version of the report is far more blunt and confident in its assessments than previous ones. Hayhoe said: "The bluntness reflects the increasing confidence we have" in the science and day-to-day realities of climate change.
The report emphasized that man-made global warming is doing more than just altering the environment we live in, it's a threat to our bodies, homes, offices, roads, airports, power plants, water systems and farms.
"Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including impacts from increased extreme weather events, wildfire, decreased air quality, diseases transmitted by insects, food and water, and threats to mental health," the report said.
While warmer weather may help some crops, others will be hurt because of "weeds, diseases, insect pests and other climate change-induced stresses," the report said. It said weeds like kudzu do better with warmer weather and are far more likely to spread north.
Citing the report Robin McKie, science editor, guardian.co.uk,  on January 12, 2013 said:
Health services, water supplies, farming and transport are already being strained, the assessment adds.
The report in uncompromising language concluded that severe weather disruption is going to be commonplace in coming years. Nor do the authors flinch from naming the culprit.
If the world's greatest economy is already feeling the strain of global warming, and is fearful of its future impact, then other nations face a very worrying future as temperatures continue to rise as more and more greenhouse gases are pumped into the atmosphere.
"The report makes for sobering reading," said Professor Chris Rapley, of University College London. "Most people in the UK and US accept human-induced climate change is happening but respond by focusing attention elsewhere. We dismiss the effects of climate change as 'not here', 'not now', 'not me' and 'not clear'.
Bob Ward, of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, at the London School of Economics, said: "For those outside the US, this report carries a brutal message because it shows that even the world's leading economy cannot simply adapt to the impacts of climate change. The problem clearly needs concerted international action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to avoid the worst potential consequences."
Observers have noted that the 2013 version is far more uncompromising in its language.
Environmental groups are now hoping that the report will revitalize the debate over climate change in the US and stimulate the administration of Barack Obama into taking action over an issue that has been put on the backburner.
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, guardian.co.uk, reported :
Future generations of Americans can expect to spend 25 days a year sweltering in temperatures above 100F (38C), with climate change on course to turn the country into a hotter, drier, and more disaster-prone place.
The National Climate Assessment, provided the fullest picture to date of the real-time effects of climate change on US life, and the most likely consequences for the future.
The report, which is not due for adoption until 2014, was produced to guide federal, state and city governments in America in making long-term plans.
By the end of the 21st century, climate change is expected to result in increased risk of asthma and other public health emergencies, widespread power blackouts, and mass transit shutdowns, and possibly shortages of food.
"Proactively preparing for climate change can reduce impacts, while also facilitating a more rapid and efficient response to changes as they happen," said Katharine Jacobs, the director of the National Climate Assessment.
The report states clearly that the steps taken by Obama so far to reduce emissions are "not close to sufficient" to prevent the most severe consequences of climate change.
"As climate change and its impacts are becoming more prevalent, Americans face choices," the report said. "Beyond the next few decades, the amount of climate change will still largely be determined by the choices society makes about emissions. Lower emissions mean less future warming and less severe impacts. Higher emissions would mean more warming and more severe impacts."
The report made clear: no place in America had gone untouched by climate change.
Some of those changes are already evident: 2012 was by far the hottest year on record, fully a degree hotter than the last such record – an off-the-charts rate of increase.
Those high temperatures were on course to continue for the rest of the century, the draft report said. It noted that average US temperatures had increased by about 1.5F since 1895, with more than 80% of this increase since 1980.
The rise will be even steeper in future, with the next few decades projected for temperatures 2 to 4 degrees warmer in most areas. By 2100, if climate change continues on its present course, the country can expect to see 25 days a year with temperatures above 100F.
Night-time temperatures will also stay high, providing little respite from the heat.
Certain regions are projected to heat up even sooner. West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware can expect a doubling of days hotter than 95 degrees by the 2050s. In Texas and Oklahoma, the draft report doubled the probability of extreme heat events.
Those extreme temperatures would also exact a toll on public health, with worsening air pollution, and on infrastructure increasing the load for ageing power plants.
But nowhere will see changes as extreme as Alaska, the report said.
"The most dramatic evidence is in Alaska, where average temperatures have increased more than twice as fast as the rest of the country," the draft report said. "Of all the climate-related changes in the US, the rapid decline of Arctic sea ice cover in the last decade may be the most striking of all."
Other regions will face different extreme weather scenarios. The north-east, in particular, is at risk of coastal flooding because of sea-level rise and storm surges, as well as river flooding, because of an increase in heavy downpours.
The midwest was projected to enjoy a longer growing season – but also an increased risk of extreme events like last year's drought. By mid-century, the combination of temperature increases and heavy rainfall or drought were expected to pull down yields of major US food crops, the report warned, threatening both American and global food security.
The report is the most ambitious scientific exercise ever undertaken to catalogue the real-time effects of climate change, and predict possible outcomes in the future.
There were still unknowns though, the report conceded, especially about how the loss of sea ice in Greenland and Antarctica will affect future sea-level rise.
"The draft assessment offers a perfect opportunity for President Obama at the outset of his second term," said Lou Leonard, director of the climate change program for the World Wildlife Fund. "When a similar report was released in 2009, the Administration largely swept it under the rug. This time, the President should use it to kick-start a national conversation on climate change. "
However, the White House was exceedingly cautious on the draft release, noting in a blogpost: "The draft NCA is a scientific document—not a policy document—and does not make recommendations regarding actions that might be taken in response to climate change."
 “Report says warming is changing US daily life”, Jan 11, 2013, http://news.yahoo.com/report-says-warming-changing-us-daily-life-232742530.html
 “US scientists in fresh alert over effects of global warming”, http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/12/us-scientists-effects-global-warming
 “Climate change set to make America hotter, drier and more disaster-prone”, Jan 11, 2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/11/climate-change-america-hotter-drier-disaster
|January 9, 2013||
I came across two pieces of news lately, first was on 7 th January where it said Indian Army Crossed LOC and attacked a Pakistani Check post and killed one soldier and in retaliatory fire they left a gun and a dagger and went back. And a day after that, there was a news that Pakistan Army crossed LOC and attacked Indian patrolling party, and killed two soldiers. It in turns enraged the common citizens and whose anger can be vividly seen on social media from both sides of the border.
What happen today is that govt. officials sit together, have tea, enjoy tours, get TA/DA funds and then go back to their respective offices after giving same old statements. The head of the governments hardly have any stakes involved in our respective countries. Manmohan Singh doesn't give a damn, he could go to any country of his choice and enjoy the rest of his life leaving India in same mess, same is the case with President Zardari here. The bitter tuth is that, it's me and you, our brothers and sisters that would die in these attacks and skirmishes.
Today as the young generation, we can't even pressurize the governments properly, they have an easy excuse that they tried their best but ? koi solution nai nikla ? (Couldn't find a solution). So may be, if someone can come up with solutions of the issues and tell the government's k ? yeh lo possible solutions ?(take these possible solutions), and choose whichever you want but end this xyz (water, sir creek, mutual information sharing, media blame game etc) issue at least. And once we are able to do it publically, then would come the test of the honesty of governments on both sides, then only we would be able to know how sincere they actually are, to implement certain solution. We can further categorically discuss how to reach a solution within us, but before that at least we should know if there is anyone interested among common people to reach a solution?( Not to be mixed with joining some peace and harmony building group!, it literally means a solution finding group working like a think tank )
And with all that, since India and Pakistan both have nurtured two very big armies, and they always need a reason for their existence, so it's in their mutual benefit that they keep fighting, so that there may be an excuse for their existence. Otherwise, it would be lame to feed the two giants with so much of budgets while poor's have no clothes to wear and no food to eat and no shelter to live under!
It's a bitter situation, but someone will have to work and think, and use their minds to find solutions. Without solutions we won't be able to move, not even an inch! And solutions can be found, only when two groups(who cares about their people and has stakes involved in respective country) can sit together on one table with preset parameters and strictly one agenda of ?figuring out all possible solutions to any given issue?. It would take a lot of time to come up with some solutions, but believe me it would be worth every moment spent on.
Unfortunately no one from both sides has considered promoting a pure cause of "FINDING SOLUTIONS"! It does not need any money to invest in; all it needs is time and intention to do so. Someone will have to stand up and tell the governments and military-industrial complex to stop betting on human lives, for it's us who suffers. We need to do it for the sake of ourselves and the generations to come. It's a now or never, we must keep in mind that despite all peace efforts, one single bullet from either sides can triggers the very same hatred from both sides and end up in another ugly war. And we need to give them ?Solutions? to snatch their ?Reason? for firing that one bullet.Asad Wahab, is an occasional writer,an engineer by education, an art lover by passion, a thinker by aptitude and a Pakistani by nationality. He has an interest in Global Conflict Studies and International Politics.
|January 6, 2013||
Massive exploitation of Alberta Tar Sands (MEATS)...is it the biggest environmental crime in history? A new benchmark for sacrifice of public health to corporate profit?
MEATS is so much more than converting an area of boreal forest the size of England into a cankerous and lifeless open sore bleeding tar. More than decimating some of the world's last wild forests?home to 35% of Canada's wetlands. More than attacking Earth's biosphere with a carbon weapon of mass destruction....
How far has corporate depravity driven corporate disregard for life on Earth? MEATS goes the distance with the Keystone XL pipeline .
December 11, 2012...an L.A. Times article by Molly Hennessy-Fiske revealed that Jack Sinz, Texas County Court at Law Judge, lifted his restraining order that delayed a portion of TransCanada's Keystone XL running through eastern Texas. The restraining order resulted from landowner Michael Bishop filing suit to halt pipeline construction on his property because TransCanada fraudulently promised that Keystone XL would transport ?crude oil?.
TransCanada lawyers convinced Judge Sinz that Michael Bishop ?...understood what he was doing when he signed off on an easement agreement with the company three weeks ago.?
TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard stated: ?TransCanada has been open and transparent with Mr. Bishop at all times.? Then Mr. Howard further illuminates the howler of TransCanada being open and transparent: ?Since Mr. Bishop signed his agreement with TransCanada, nothing about the pipeline or the product it will carry has changed. While professional activists and others have made the same claims Mr. Bishop did today, oil is oil.?
Problem is, oil is exactly what Keystone pipeline does not pipe.
Raw bitumen diluted with up to 50% natural gas liquids (condensates) at 1,440 pounds per square inch (psi) pressure, and temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit?that's what Keystone XL pipes, a wicked brew called, ?DilBit?.
What in Hell is DilBit?
Consider TransCanada's spokesman, Shawn Howard, and his, ?...oil is oil?. MEATS and Keystone XL advocates cultivate public misconception of DilBit being ?crude oil?. A dangerous ruse spanning pipeline safety regulations to pipeline technology and leak detection...back to public awareness. Pawning off DilBit as crude oil is TransCanada's public-relations Job Number One?except when it comes to the IRS....
The oil industry pays an eight-cents-per-barrel tax on crude oil produced in or imported to the U.S., proceeds earmarked for the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund that covers cleanup costs for oil spills. Funny thing...in 2011, at the request of a company whose identity is kept secret, an exemption was made that frees DilBit from this tax because, as the secret company made clear: ?oil? from Canada's tar sands is so different (chemistry, behavior, how it's produced) that it should not be considered crude oil.
Texas, and federal statutory codes define crude oil as "liquid hydrocarbons extracted from the earth at atmospheric temperatures?. Simple enough, DilBit is not crude oil.
Alberta bitumen is strip-mined and steam-melted from sands and silts; it takes two tons of earth, three barrels of water, and lots of natural gas to extract one barrel of raw bitumen , which is almost a solid.
MEATS currently consumes, per day, enough natural gas to heat 3 million Canadian homes, and fouls 400 million gallons of water. Wastewater is pumped into immense tailing ponds rich in arsenic, cyanide, ammonia, cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, zinc...not to mention the biocidal gumbo of hydrocarbons?sixty-five square miles of tailing ponds, so far.
Downstream from tailing ponds, as in Fort Chipewyan ...spikes of lupus, renal failure, hyperthyroidism...and 100 of the town's largely indigenous population of 1,200 have died of cancer. Many rare cancers.
DilBit's character really shines its deepest darkest black when spilled into the environment.
Actually, a cup of coffee might spill, a glass of milk; eruption is a better term for a DilBit pipeline or pump station, ?event?.
Keystone was predicted to spill no more than once every seven years....
After being in operation less than one year, Keystone tallied its eleventh spill ?at a pump station, which TransCanada insists ?don't count?.
It was in Ludden, North Dakota, May 7, 2011. A 3/4-inch pipe fitting failed under the pressure, erupting DilBit sixty feet high?21,000 gallons in minutes.
July 26, 2010 had already shown us what a DilBit pipeline at 1440 psi and 160 degrees F. can do. Line 6B of the Enbridge Energy Partners Lakehead system ruptured, erupting a million gallons of DilBit into Michigan's Kalamazoo River; the ?Marshall spill? .
Since pipeline operators are not required to say what they are piping, emergency responders didn't discover until ten days later that what turned the Kalamazoo River black was DilBit. Original expectations were that cleanup would take a few months. But after two years the job was not over...apparently never will be. The EPA has declared thirty miles of the Kalamazoo River ?... essentially permanently polluted ?.
Typically, 90% of crude oil spilled into water can be captured with booms and skimmers.
DilBit is from 50% to 70% bitumen, diluted with natural gas condensates collectively called diluents (exact composition of diluents is a ?trade secret?). DilBit in the Kalamazoo River was 70% bitumen. After diluents separated out, bitumen sank and coated the riverbed.
Coincidentally, nine days before DilBit tarred the Kalamazoo River, the EPA warned that the ?proprietary nature? of DilBit diluents could complicate cleanup.
Over the last ten years, average cleanup cost of spilled crude oil has been about $2,000 per barrel; DilBit in the Kalamazoo has cost $29,000 per barrel, making it by far the most expensive spill in U.S. history?over $800 million so far. Much of the bitumen cannot be cleaned up without destroying the riverbed.
DilBit pipelines operate at elevated temperature and high pressure to reduce viscosity and increase piping efficiency?increasing the risk of corrosion for a product that, compared to crude oil, contains huge amounts of abrasive quartz particles. DilBit's extreme acidity and sulfur content also weaken steel.
Between 2002 and 2010, the Alberta hazardous-liquid pipeline system had twenty-five-times as many leaks and ruptures per mile than the U. S. system, mostly from internal corrosion.
TransCanada responded to the corrosion problem by seeking a safety waiver to use thinner-than-normal steel for Keystone XL.
What little research done regarding DilBit has been conducted by industry, so it's proprietary. That's right, the old ?trade secrets? suppression of information helping to keep government regulating DilBit as crude oil.
Pipeline construction saw a major boom from 2007 to 2009. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) inspection of seven pipelines built during the boom revealed that five showed expansion anomalies indicating significant amounts of defective steel. Several mills had provided defective steel, but 88% of the pipe with expansion anomalies was traced to a manufacturer based in India: Welspun Power and Steel.
Welspun provided 47% of the steel for Keystone 1.
TransCanada confirmed on February 2, 2012, that they will not be using any steel from India to build Keystone XL.
An email to Energy and Commerce Committee staff from TransCanada's government relations staff said: ?We have not sourced any steel from India.? But days later (February 17, 2012), TransCanada confirmed in a press release that 10% of the steel in Keystone XL will come from Welspun, India.
Other examples of TransCanada's openness and transparency include....
December 31, 2009: TransCanada confesses that Keystone XL would cause an increase in gas prices.
June, 2010: TransCanada cites a recent study that claims Keystone XL would reduce gas prices. From the TransCanada website: ?...supplies from reliable sources leads to lower costs, thereby putting downward pressure on prices.?
September 26, 2011: Alex Pourbaix, TransCanada's President of Energy and Oil Pipelines declares that the route for Keystone XL has been exhaustively analyzed, and it would be next to impossible to change it now.
October 11, 2011: In a meeting with Nebraska State Senators, Alex Pourbaix insists that moving the route for Keystone XL would jeopardize the project.
October 18, 2011: ?...it is possible for us to move the route to avoid the Sandhills.? (Alex Pourbaix)
November 14, 2011: TransCanada announces they will change the route of Keystone XL.
November 29, 2011: Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanada, declares that re-routing the pipeline would be easy.
December 2, 2011: Alex Pourbaix cannot promise that Keystone XL's ?crude oil? will not be for foreign export....
That's a very important point. Keystone XL will supply the global market?a pipeline through , not to , the U.S.
Massive corporate attacks on the environment are often heralded by wildly-inflated promises of jobs, a standard brilliantly reflected by Keystone XL.
TransCanada purports that Keystone XL construction will create 20,000 American jobs.
Numbers from independent analysis seem more realistic, freer of agenda, averaging out to: 50 permanent jobs and 2,500 temporary jobs?but wait a minute. Considering jobs in emergency-response, cleanup, and environmental rehabilitation (where possible) created by DilBit erupting from Keystone XL...20,000 jobs might seem like an underestimation?
Could tar mop-up be a new major growth industry, brought to us by a neighbor we thought was friendly?
Perhaps TransCanada was simply not open and transparent regarding the kind of jobs Keystone XL will create. After all, TransCanada was open and transparent on September17, 2009, when they described Keystone XL as ?...a boon for corporate profits, but a burden to American consumers.?
Tar With Attitude
Corrosion is a huge menace to DilBit pipelines, but corrosion takes time. An immediate and permanent hazard is called, ?column separation?.
The ?column? is a mass of DilBit up to thirty miles long being squeezed along like toothpaste. Variations in pipeline pressure cause diluents to change from liquid to gas, creating a bubble , or column separation within the pipeline. Collapse of bubbles can result in pressure spikes capable of deforming or even rupturing pipeline.
Column separation can also make it very difficult to detect leaks. A bubble can impede the flow of DilBit to and from nearby pump stations, giving pipeline operators signs similar to a leak. If the impeded flow is interpreted as a column separation, more DilBit is forced through the pipeline?which can be horrific if there is a leak.
Keystone uses leak-detection technology developed for crude oil pipelines. 294,000 gallons of loss per day is needed to activate automatic safety responses. In the Marshal spill, the Enbridge pipeline erupted Dilbit into the Kalamazoo River for over twelve hours before pipeline shutdown.
If a leak is detected and safety valves block the flow of DilBit, a potentially devastating phenomenon called a ?fluid hammer? can elevate pressures far above the pipeline's operating pressure. A column of DilBit at high pressure is like a freight train 30-miles long?impossible to stop quickly. Tons of inertia feed a train wreck inside the pipeline...a fluid hammer.
Yet another unique DilBit hazard: in a pipeline rupture, diluents can explode?natural gas condensates so flammable they can even set raw bitumen on fire. Burning raw bitumen boils up toxic clouds containing a gas lethal in minute concentrations: hydrogen sulfide.
Emergency personnel responding to a DilBit pipeline eruption must be fully trained and equipped to deal with hydrogen sulfide drifting toward populated areas. The gas is heavier than air, creating severe exposure potential because it hugs the ground, pooling in hollows, canyons, valleys...populated areas, generally.
U.S. Best Interests
TransCanada so rarely tells the truth, when it happens it's an event ?especially when something as profound as Keystone XL being ?...a boon for corporate profits, but a burden for American consumers ? is spilled.
Keystone XL...a pipeline for the blackest goo that ever shined doom in all colors.
$5.2 billion and counting spent to extend fossil-fuel dependence. $5.2 billion that could have funded energies that offer a future.
Jobs...reliable source...energy independence....
The whole job-creation scenario wilts in light of the new-energy jobs taken away by pursuing bitumen as an energy source.
How could a product destined for the global market be spoken of in terms of U.S. energy security? Besides, even at maximum exploitation, Dilbit could supply only about 2% of U.S. energy consumption.
Keystone XL's threat to vital U.S. resources peaks out by crossing nineteen miles of the Ogallala aquifer with zero special precautions....
Latest polls show battle lines being drawn between disinformation, and awareness. Disinformation has healthy financial backing. Awareness faces austerity, if not poverty.
A flash of light: the L.A. Times' recent online poll has 25% of respondents saying yes to construction of Keystone XL, while 75% say no.
Barack Obama is in the sticky situation of trying to sell a pipeline squeezing DilBit through the U.S. heartland, to feed the international market, as somehow in the nation's best interests. Extreme public risk for nothing but corporate profits. Or, as TransCanada put it ?...a boon for corporate profits, but a burden for American consumers.?
Keystone XL is a tar baby if ever there was one.
Does the President have the cojones to, at least for the sake of public health, stand up and say no to Big Tar?
Rand Clifford lives in Spokane, Washington. His novels, CASTLING , TIMING , and Priest Lake Cathedral , are published by StarChief Press .
|January 5, 2013||
New year speeches, such as the ones made by the Danish Prime Minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt or Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, acknowledged that the world is experiencing an economic crisis. According to these speeches and others made by politicians as the old year turned to a new one, 2012 was a year of crisis, but hopefully 2013 will be better. Hopefully economic growth will return in 2013.
What was lacking in the new year speeches, and also lacking in the entire spectrum of the mass media, is a truthful analysis of what has caused the economic crisis and how to deal with it. Politicians, economists and the media say “hopefully growth will return in 2013”. No one dares to say that the world is nearing the time when economic growth will have to end, because limitless growth on a finite planet is a logical impossibility, and because the limitless growth of population and industry is destroying the planet.
Why is economic growth so sacred that it is forever exalted, in defiance of logic? Perhaps the answer can be found in the world's banking system, which is built on the practice of fractional reserve lending. When you or I deposit money in a bank, the bank keeps only a fraction of this deposit. The rest is lent out. By this practice, the banks are coining their own money.
Apart from the fact that the right to coin money ought to be reserved to governments so that benefits from expansion of the money supply can be used for social services, the practice of fractional reserve banking is dangerous because it only works in a growing economy. If an economy contracts, and depositors ask for their money, banks collapse because they do not have it. They have lent it out. This is the situation that we are facing today.
What happens when the world reaches the limit, beyond which economic growth is no longer possible? (Perhaps we have already reached this limit.) Can we devise a system that works, even without economic growth? This the challenge and opportunity that faces us today. We need an entirely new economic system.
Whether we call it Equilibrium Economics, Ecological Economics or Steady-State Economics, the new system will represent a complete break with the past, and it will require a new system of values. It will need both a social conscience and an ecological conscience.
Instead of being driven entirely by the profit motive, the new economic system will aim for full employment for everyone who wants a job. This employment must be in activities that will not harm the global environment. The shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy represents one such employment opportunity. Others can be found in reforestation, soil conservation, agricultural research, recycling of resources, increasing energy efficiency, and in creative artistic and scientific work. Strong governmental involvement in these activities will be needed.
Since the time of Adam Smith, self-interest has been the mainspring of human economic activity. What is required today is a change of values, so that instead of being motivated by selfishness, people throughout the world will work for the common good.
John Avery received a B.Sc. in theoretical physics from MIT and an M.Sc. from the University of Chicago. He later studied theoretical chemistry at the University of London, and was awarded a Ph.D. there in 1965. He is now Lektor Emeritus, Associate Professor, at the Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen. Fellowships, memberships in societies: Since 1990 he has been the Contact Person in Denmark for Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. In 1995, this group received the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. He was the Member of the Danish Peace Commission of 1998. Technical Advisor, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Europe (1988- 1997). Chairman of the Danish Peace Academy, April 2004. http://www.fredsakademiet.dk/ordbog/aord/a220.htm
|January 5, 2013||
Blowing In The Wind: The Global Control Of Food, Countries And Populations by Colin Todhunter , Countercurrents.org
?I recognized my two selves: a crusading idealist and a cold, granitic believer in the law of the jungle? ? Edgar Monsanto Queeny, Monsanto chairman, 1943-63, ?The Spirit of Enterprise? , 1934.
When rich companies with politically-connected lobbyists and seats on government-appointed bodies bend policies for their own ends, we are in serious trouble. It is then that our democratic institutions become hijacked and our choices, freedoms and rights are destroyed. Corporate interests have too often used their dubious ?science', lobbyists, political connections and presence within the heart of governments, in conjunction with their public relations machines, to subvert democratic machinery for their own benefit. Once their power has been established, anyone who questions them or who stands in their way can expect a very bumpy ride.
The power and influence of the GMO sector
The revolving door between the private sector and government bodies has been well established. Over the past few years in Britain, the media has occasionally shed light on the cosy and highly questionable links between the armaments industry and top people in the Ministry of Defence. In the US, many senior figures from the Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) industry, especially Monsanto, have moved with ease to take up positions with the Food and Drug Administration. Writer and researcher William F Engdahl writes about a similar influence in Europe, noting the links between the GMO sector within the European Food Safety Authority. He states that over half of the scientists involved in the GMO panel which positively reviewed the Monsanto's study for GMO maize in 2009, leading to its EU-wide authorisation, had links with the biotech industry.
?Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job? ? Phil Angell, Monsanto's director of corporate communications. ?Playing God in the Garden? New York Times Magazine,October 25, 1998.
When corporate interests are able to gain access to such positions of power, little wonder they have some heavy-duty tools at their disposal to (attempt to) fend off criticism by all means necessary.
Take the GMO sector, for instance. A well-worn tactic, certainly not exclusive to that sector, has been to slur and attack figures that have challenged the ?science' and claims of the industry. With threats of lawsuits and UK government pressure, some years ago top research scientist Dr Arpad Pusztai was effectively silenced over his research concerning the dangers of GM food. A campaign was set in motion to destroy his reputation. Similarly, a WikiLeaks cable highlighted how GMOs were being forced into European nations by the US ambassador to France who plotted with other US officials to create a ?retaliatory target list' of anyone who tried to regulate GMOs. Now that clearly indicates the power of the industry!
Champions of the poor: GM frontier technology
What the GMO sector fails to grasp is that the onus is on it to prove that its products are safe. And it has patently failed to do this. No independent testing was done before Bush senior allowed GMOs onto the US market. The onus should not be on others to prove it is safe (or unsafe) after it is on the market.
Now that scientists such as Professor Seralini at the University of Caen in France are in a sense playing catch-up by testing previously independently untested GMOs, he is accused of ?lies? and ?deceit.? In fact, a prominent figure in the GMO sector recently told me that ?You people (the ?anti-GM brigade') have no shame. You are all disgusting enemies of the poor farmers around the world by trying to block a safe product of a frontier technology??
Little mention there of the tens of thousands of poor farmers who took their own lives in the Indian cotton belt because they became indebted due to this ?frontier technology? not delivering the results that the GMO industry has said it would. If there is a ?disgusting enemy', surely it is the profiteering corporate-controlled terminator seed technology of the GMO industry that has resulted in mass suicides and the destruction of traditional farmer-controlled agricultural practices developed over thousands of years.
But this is symptomatic of the industry: it says a product is safe, therefore it is. We are expected to take its claims at face value, not least because the industry has gained an air of pseudo respectability: the US FDA sanctions such products. I use the word ?pseudo' because, as already noted, the revolving door between top figures at Monsanto and positions at the FDA makes it difficult to see where the line between the two is actually drawn. People are rightly suspicious of the links between the FDA and GMO industry in the US and the links between it and the regulatory body within the EU.
The impact of the corporate hijacking of food and agriculture
The corporations currently forwarding their GM agenda represent the so-called ?Green Revolution's? second coming. Agriculture has changed more over the last two generations than it did in the previous 12,000 years. Environmentalist Vandana Shiva notes that, after 1945, chemical manufacturers who had been involved in the weapons industry turned their attention to applying their chemical know-how to farming. As a result ?dwarf seeds' were purposively created to specifically respond to their chemicals. Over the coming years, agriculture became transformed into a chemical-dependent industry that has destroyed biodiversity. What we are left with is crop monocultures, which according to Shiva reflects a monoculture of thinking. In effect, modern agriculture is part of the paradigm of control based on mass standardization and a dependency on corporate products: corporate monoculture.
The implications have been vast. Chemical-industrial agriculture has proved extremely lucrative for the oil and chemicals industry and has served to maintain and promote Western hegemony, not least via ?structural adjustment' and the consequent uprooting of traditional farming practices in favour of single-crop export-oriented policies, dam building to cater for what became a highly water intensive industry, loans and indebtedness, etc.
Apart from tying poorer countries into an unequal system of global trade and reinforcing global inequalities, the corporate hijacking of food and agriculture has had many other implications, not least where health is concerned.
Dr Meryl Hammond, founder of the Campaign for Alternatives to Pesticides, told a Canadian parliament committee in 2009 that a raft of studies published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals point to strong associations between chemical pesticides and a vast range of serious life-threatening health consequences. Shiv Chopra, a top food advisor to the Canadian government, has documented how all kinds of food products that were known to be dangerous were passed by the regulatory authority and put on the market there due to the power of the food industry.
Severe anemia, permanent brain damage, Alzheimer's, dementia, neurological disorders, reproductive problems, diminished intelligence, impaired immune system, behavioural disorders, cancers, hyperactivity and learning disability are just some of the diseases linked to our food.
Of course, just like cigarettes and the tobacco industry before, trying to ?prove' the glaringly obvious link will take decades as deceit is passed off as ?science' or becomes institutionalized due to the hijacking of government bodies by the corporations involved in food production.
In ?GMOs Ticking Time Bomb', Rima E Laibow, Medical Director of Natural Solutions Foundation, argues that every single independent study conducted on the impact of GMOs shows they damage organs and cause infertility, immune system failure, holes in the GI tract and multiple system failure when eaten. She argues that they cause a variety of changes, some of which we can't even guess at as new proteins are coded due to altered DNA ? some which we've never seen before. Laiblow concludes we are playing with genetic fire. Yet, they are on the commercial market in the US and elsewhere.
We are standing in the way of progress!
Science has become a political football. Anyone who questions the safety of GMOs is ?clueless? and indulges in ?scare mongering? and ?falsehoods.? In fact, the same prominent GMO sector figure referred to earlier says about such people that all they know ?is to stop progress.? Furthermore, he stated that ?scientific jokers? like Professor Seralini would not be allowed to set foot in the ?real world of science? in North America and that they have a ?hey day? in countries like India because of ?ignoramuses.?
But can we expect much better from an industry that has a record of smearing and attempting to ruin people who criticise it? Are those of us who question the political links of the GMO industry and the nature of its products ready to take lessons on ethics and high-minded notions of ?human progress' from anyone involved with it?
This is an industry that has contaminated crops and bullied farmers with lawsuits in North America, an industry whose companies have been charged with and most often found guilty of contaminating the environment and seriously damaging health with PCBs and dioxins, an industry complicit in concealing the deadly impact of GM corn on animals, an industry where bribery seems to be second nature (eg Monsanto in Indonesia), an industry associated with human rights violations in Brazil and an industry that will not label its foods in the US.
As Vandana Shiva has noted, the 2005 US-India nuclear deal (allowing India to develop its nuclear sector despite it not being a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and pushed through with a cash for votes tactic in the Indian parliament!) was linked to the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, which was aimed at widening access to India's agricultural and retail sectors. This initiative was drawn up with the full and direct participation of representatives from various companies, including Monsanto, Cargill and Walmart.
When the most powerful country comes knocking at your door seeking to gain access to your market, there's good chance that once its corporate-tipped jackboot is in, you won't be able to get it out. In India, the pressure is building to release GM food onto the market.
So far, Bt cotton has been the only GM crop allowed in India , but the GM sector is ?lobbying' to bring in other GM crops, including rice, tomato and wheat. It is interesting to note that the Supreme Court has not banned open field trials of genetically modified food crops. Contamination of traditional crops by GM crops thus remains a serious issue.
Open field planting is but one way of achieving what Westfall states. T he European Commission has already suspected GMO contamination in exported basmati rice from India .
As powerful agribusiness concerns seek to ?consolidate the entire food chain,? it is patently clear that it's not just the health of the nation (any nation) that is at stake, but global control of food, countries and populations too.Colin Todhunter Originally from the northwest of England, Colin Todhunter has spent many years in India. He has written extensively for the Deccan Herald (the Bangalore-based broadsheet), New Indian Express and Morning Star (Britain). His articles have also appeared in various other newspapers, journals and books. His East by Northwest website is at: http://colintodhunter.blogspot.com
|January 5, 2013||
Too Big To Flood? Megacities Face Future of Major Storm Risk by Bruce Stutz, Yale Environment 360, Countercurrents.org
As economic activity and populations continue to expand in coastal urban areas, particularly in Asia, hundreds of trillions of dollars of infrastructure, industrial and office buildings, and homes are increasingly at risk from intensifying storms and rising sea level
By the middle of the century, the scores of billions it cost to compensate the greater New York City area for being unprepared for superstorm Sandy may seem like a bargain. Without major adaptation measures to increase the level of storm protection beyond a 1-in-100-year event, the value of the city’s buildings, transportation, and utilities utility infrastructures currently at risk from storm surges and flooding — an estimated $320 billion — will be worth $2 trillion by 2070, according to continuing studies by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
By then, the OECD says, the metropolitan area will rank behind only Miami and Guangzhou, China, at the head of a list of the world’s megacities with the most flood-vulnerable assets. In all these cities, sea level rise will meet a tide of urbanization in the coming decades and set the scene for storms with ever-more catastrophic consequences.
Some of those cities with the most at-risk assets now — Tokyo, New Orleans, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Nagoya — will, over the next 50 years, be surpassed by Calcutta, Shanghai, Mumbai, Tianjin, Bangkok, Ningbo, and Ho Chi Minh City, booming Asian coastal metropolitan areas where trillions of dollars in economic assets will be vulnerable. So will many millions of these cities’ residents, most of them poor and living in low-lying areas.
Just as banks grew “too big to fail,” over the next half-century these coastal megacities may grow “too big to flood.” But flood they will unless they dramatically revise their growth strategies and undertake major infrastructure projects designed to protect them from the dual threat of rising sea levels and intensifying storms, experts say.
Based on the conservative assumption that sea levels will rise by only 18 inches by 2070, the OECD finds that total assets vulnerable to flooding and storm surges of just 10 of these cities could account for some 9 percent of the world’s GDP. But many climate scientists and coastal experts note that sea level rise forecasts by groups such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change did not factor in the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. When they are taken into account, these experts say that global sea levels could well rise 3 to 6 feet this century, leaving scores of cities and massive amounts of economic infrastructure dangerously exposed.
“Even assuming that protection levels will be high in the future,” the study states, “the large exposure in terms of population and assets is likely to translate into regular city-scale disasters at a global scale.”
Guangzhou, for instance, now with at-risk assets of only $84 billion will, by 2070, have more than $3 trillion worth of exposure, only slightly less than that of an increasingly at-risk Miami, the study predicts. As these cities’ rapidly growing economies attract more migrants, many people will be forced to settle in surrounding low-lying lands at or even below sea level. Over the next 60 years, the flood-vulnerable population of Calcutta will grow from 1.9 to 14 million, of Guangzhou from 2.7 to 10.3 million, according to the OECD. Ho Chi Minh City’s storm-vulnerable population is projected to grow from 1.9 to 9.2 million, Miami’s from 2 to 4.8 million, and New York/Newark’s from 1.5 to 2.9 million.
Robert Nicholls, the coastal expert who was lead author of the 2007 OECD report and a recent update, says that while he was impressed with New York’s ability to recover from the recent superstorm, he believes the city still faces the same question as these other coastal megacities: With sea level steadily rising, how much longer can they leave their growing populations and increasingly valuable infrastructures with so little protection. He points out that New York City, protected to only a 1-in-100-year flood event, has a larger GDP than London, Shanghai, or Amsterdam, all of which are protected to a greater than 1-in-1,000 year flood. Flood gates and levees protect Shanghai, while a storm surge barrier in the Thames protects London. Huge tidal barriers are designed to protect Amsterdam and Rotterdam from 1-in-10,000-year floods.
Many of the fastest-growing coastal cities have little or no protection. And in many of these cities higher sea levels will be exacerbated by sinking coastlines — a geological process accelerated by pumping of groundwater from coastal aquifers.
“If you’re going to live in these places you’re going to spend significant resources protecting your people and your assets,” says Nicholls, co-leader of the Cities and Coasts Research Program at the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. “How long can you depend upon having the capacity to bounce back?”
Going beyond Nicholls’s projections, a 2011 report by the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency focused on the growing Asian coastal megacities and found that by mid-century, sea level rise, subsidence, and increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events will pose “enormous adaptation challenges” to these already flood-prone cities.
A case in point: Ho Chi Minh City, a city of 8 million that now accounts for 23 percent of Vietnam’s GDP, will continue to attract industry and migrants. By 2050 its population could reach 20 million. As the city grows, its surrounding agricultural and forest land will decline, while its industrial zones expand. At the same time “warmer temperatures in the South China Sea are expected to increase the frequency of tropical storms and typhoons,” which will bring heavy rains and high storm surges, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.
By 2050, Ho Chi Minh City will see floods “increase in both depth and duration,” the ADB report stated, with 67 percent of the city’s industrial areas underwater during these extreme events, as well as much of the city’s transportation network. A flood that would today affect some 26 percent of the city’s population will, by 2050, affect 62 percent, the ADB report said.
“The landscape of vulnerability has changed spectacularly,” Vinod Thomas, director general of independent evaluation at the Asian Development Bank, said in an interview. In the last 30 years, he said, the number of major floods in the region has nearly quadrupled. Over this time, the ADB says, the Asia-Pacific region generated almost about 25 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, but also accounted for 38 percent of global economic losses due to natural disasters. Most of the large cities in the world classified as having extreme risks of climate vulnerability are in Asia, and by midcentury the region will face annual disaster losses in excess of $19 billion, the ADB says.
“The population exposure in urban centers will be breathtaking,” says Thomas.
Last year’s severe monsoon flooding in Bangkok was a stark demonstration of the economic assets that are increasingly at risk across the globe, and especially in Asia. In recent years, major industrial complexes have sprung up around Bangkok, producing everything from automobile parts to electronics; Thailand, for example, produces roughly a quarter of the world’s computer hard drives. Those industrial parks stand on what used to be rice paddies and wetlands, where floods, while they may have ruined a season’s crop, also fertilized the land.
Last year’s flooding, the heaviest in 50 years, put many of those industrial parks underwater, as fearful city Bangkok officials redirected floodwaters through canals around the capital and inundated populations and industrial zones surrounding the city. Chemicals, oil, and waste polluted the land and water. The flood, which cost the city some $4.65 billion and Thailand $45 billion, disrupted the global computer and automotive industries, especially the Japanese car sector, which had moved some of its operations to Japan following the Tohoku earthquake. Toyota, for instance, was forced to cancel overtime at its Japanese plants. The floods affected factories in Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Experts say the global ripples of the Thailand destruction are a sign of things to come if cities and nations do not begin planning for sea level rise and more powerful storm surges.
For example, in Manila, where 2009 floodwaters from tropical storm Ketsana rose up to 21 feet and inundated more than 80 percent of the city, the seasonal precipitation may increase as much as 4 percent by 2050. The result in economic terms? In Manila, the ADB report says, “the additional costs of sea level rise from a 1-in-30-year flood would be approximately... 6 percent of GDP” the ADB report says.
This, says Thomas, is the “great revelation” of worsening natural disasters: In these growing megacities, “storms are no longer an interruption to business as usual that you get over and move on from, but are a systemic risk to economic development.”
That these cities are becoming an increasingly important part of Asia’s and the world’s economies will only compound the effects of major floods. “What would happen if you had three Bangkoks in the same year?” Thomas asks. “How would it affect the supply chain, and how would it be dealt with?”
Flooded roads and infrastructure such as ports and airports, says Thomas, will have greater impacts as the economic links among these coastal cities become more complex. Thomas says a major paradox of this century is that we are concentrating more of the world’s wealth and population in vulnerable coastal areas, just as sea level rise and more powerful storms put them at greater risk.
Thomas points out that Asian Development Bank investments of some $10 billion over the last 15 years have produced important early storm warning systems in Bangladesh and extensive flood control projects in Pakistan and Indonesia that have saved thousands of lives. At the same time, the ADB recommends that Asian cities emphasize ecosystem solutions, such as preserving urban wetlands and mangroves.
Thomas hopes that as a result of its recent studies of sea level risks, the Asian Development Bank will invest more in structural and environmental mitigation so that Asia’s future storm response and rehabilitation costs will decline. ADB estimates, for instance, that $1 billion in proposed adaptation measures for Bangkok, including improving waterways and pumping capacity, could reduce the extent of flooded areas by some 50 percent.
“The UN’s International Strategy for Disaster Reduction estimates every dollar spent for disaster prevention saves $4 in recovery costs,” says Thomas, noting that Japan now spends roughly 5 percent of its annual budget on disaster and risk management.
The OECD projects that some $35 trillion of the world’s assets will be at stake in these coastal cities by 2070, and the ADB warns that natural disasters that can derail economic growth and development are “becoming increasingly endemic.” And yet, says Nicholls, he’s found “a surprising resistance to looking at what can be done,” even among those most familiar with the problems.
“Society reacts to events,” he says. “Studies don’t trigger action. Floods trigger action.”
Bruce Stutz writes on science, nature, and the environment. A former editor-in-chief of Natural History, he is a contributing editor to OnEarth. He has written for the New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post, Discover and Audubon. He is the author of Natural Lives, Modern Times and Chasing Spring, An American Journey Through a Changing Season.
|December 23, 2013||
The People Must Lead the Way To Save The Planet by Kevin Zeese & Margaret Flowers, Countercurrents.org
?The American way of life is not up for negotiation. Period.? President George Bush , 1992, first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro
With the re-election of President Barack Obama in the midst of Hurricane Sandy, some hoped that there would finally be a change in the U.S. posture on climate change. However, at the recent climate talks in Doha, Qatar when a reporter told Todd Stern, Obama's Special Envoy for Climate Change , that ?people expect to see either a major change in tone or substance from the U.S. this week,? Stern dashed all hopes, saying ?Well, I?look, I don't know if I would?if I would?would think about this in terms of a different tone here.?
She reports that when Vice President Al Gore went to Kyoto, he forced other countries to include market approaches in the Kyoto Protocol. After undermining the final agreement, the U.S. refused to even sign it. In 2009 at the Copenhagen climate summit, after weeks of negotiations in which many countries collaborated on making progress toward an acceptable agreement, President Obama came in at the last minute with a document created by a handful of countries and insisted upon a ?my way or the highway' approach to the ? Copenhagen Accord .? The resulting weak agreement does not contain commitments to the emissions reductions needed to prevent temperatures from rising by less than 2°C.
For decades the U.S. has been the leader in producing more carbon emissions per capita than any other country. But it denies historical responsibility and refuses to provide assistance to poor countries struggling with the impact of climate change or take the necessary steps to protect the people and planet, instead it seeks to blame China, Petermann reports.
Petermann was not allowed to attend the meeting in Doha this year unless she agreed to sign a ?code of conduct? because she has engaged in unpermitted protests at the two climate meetings. She describes these meetings as ?corporate trade shows,? more about profiting from climate change than facing up to the issue. ?These conferences are not a place to accomplish real change. Corporations run the show as governments try to use capitalism to solve the problems capitalism caused.?
As the climate crisis worsens and governments, polluted by corporate interests, are incapable of responding adequately, repression against dissent by civil society has increased. Petermann describes the UN building massive fences around the climate conventions with aggressive security measures and restrictions on the media to prevent and discourage any form of protest. ?You can't even wear a t-shirt with an unapproved message.?
Petermann believes the solutions will not come from government first, but from people leading the way by acting independently of government. She reports that people all around the world are organizing in their communities to respond to the climate crisis. ?It begins with people holding meetings in their homes, educating their neighbors and then developing a plan to reduce carbon emissions and waste.? As with so many other issues, we see that people must both protest what they oppose and build new systems to replace the old ones.
At the top, the United States is failing to confront climate change at home. The presidential debates, sponsored by the corporate-funded debate commission, did not discuss this issue despite record high temperatures, widespread droughts, intense storms and 70% of Americans now saying they believe global warming is a reality .
But at the grassroots level, the situation is quite different. For example, people at the Tar Sands Blockade , who are trying to stop the Keystone XL pipeline from being built, report widespread support for their efforts. Supporters disapprove the use of eminent domain to seize the private property of Americans for a foreign corporation , TransCanada. They also recognize that the Keystone Pipeline does not enrich Texas and that the oil is not coming to the U.S. but is being shipped overseas to profit TransCanada. Many realize that the high risks of oil and the need to transition to a carbon-free nuclear-free energy economy .
Diane Wilson, who, along with Bob Lindsey, is in the 24th day of a hunger strike against Valero Oil and the Keystone XL Pipeline, emphasized that TransCanada is putting the fragile Gulf Coast at risk. She reports that one super-tanker spill would be worse than the BP oil leak.
Tom Weis , who traveled up and down the length of the proposed pipeline, and videotaped interviews with residents, shows that a wide range of Americans oppose the pipeline including ranchers, farmers, housewives and indigenous Americans. Weis points out that the Keystone XL:
? Risks destroying more jobs than it would create. ? Portends higher, not lower, gas prices for the Midwest and Rockies ? Functions as an export pipeline for Canada to sell its oil to foreign markets ? Threatens to further poison the air of people living near tar sands oil refineries ? Violates tribal sovereignty and tramples on private property rights of U.S. citizens ? Endangers the water supply such as the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, which provides water to more than 10 million Texans
The environmental risk is real. Chris Hedges reports that the proposed 1,700 mile pipeline:
In Canada, an area the size of New York State will be dug up to extract the Alberta Tar Sands. The resulting environmental damage has indigenous Canadians urging people to join them in stopping pipelines now.
The Tar Sands Blockade is the most important citizen's action in the country. If Americans join the blockade we can stop the construction of the Keystone XL. This will be a major victory for the environment and a victory of the people against trans-national corporate power. It will be a victory on which we can build a broad-based movement to challenge corporate power and put human needs and the health of the planet ahead of corporate profits.
The Tar Sands Blockade is escalating their efforts to stop the pipeline. They have announced a training camp and mass protest from January 3 to January 8th. We have decided to attend the camp and participate as we have been inspired by the courage of Tar Sands blockaders who have built tree houses, stood in front of tractors, chained themselves to pipeline equipment and barricaded themselves inside the pipeline to block construction. There is still time for you to sign up and participate in this historic resistance.
For more information, Clearing the FOG radio has covered this issue in two shows:
|January 20, 2013||
Clive Hamilton in his “Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change” describes a dark relief that comes from accepting that “catastrophic climate change is virtually certain.” This obliteration of “false hopes,” he says, requires an intellectual knowledge and an emotional knowledge. The first is attainable. The second, because it means that those we love, including our children, are almost certainly doomed to insecurity, misery and suffering within a few decades, if not a few years, is much harder to acquire. To emotionally accept impending disaster, to attain the gut-level understanding that the power elite will not respond rationally to the devastation of the ecosystem, is as difficult to accept as our own mortality. The most daunting existential struggle of our time is to ingest this awful truth—intellectually and emotionally—and continue to resist the forces that are destroying us.
The human species, led by white Europeans and Euro-Americans, has been on a 500-year-long planetwide rampage of conquering, plundering, looting, exploiting and polluting the Earth—as well as killing the indigenous communities that stood in the way. But the game is up. The technical and scientific forces that created a life of unparalleled luxury—as well as unrivaled military and economic power—for the industrial elites are the forces that now doom us. The mania for ceaseless economic expansion and exploitation has become a curse, a death sentence. But even as our economic and environmental systems unravel, after the hottest year in the contiguous 48 states since record keeping began 107 years ago, we lack the emotional and intellectual creativity to shut down the engine of global capitalism. We have bound ourselves to a doomsday machine that grinds forward, as the draft report of the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee illustrates.
Complex civilizations have a bad habit of destroying themselves. Anthropologists including Joseph Tainter in “The Collapse of Complex Societies,” Charles L. Redman in “Human Impact on Ancient Environments” and Ronald Wright in “A Short History of Progress” have laid out the familiar patterns that lead to systems breakdown. The difference this time is that when we go down the whole planet will go with us. There will, with this final collapse, be no new lands left to exploit, no new civilizations to conquer, no new peoples to subjugate. The long struggle between the human species and the Earth will conclude with the remnants of the human species learning a painful lesson about unrestrained greed and self-worship.
“There is a pattern in the past of civilization after civilization wearing out its welcome from nature, overexploiting its environment, overexpanding, overpopulating,” Wright said when I reached him by phone at his home in British Columbia, Canada. “They tend to collapse quite soon after they reach their period of greatest magnificence and prosperity. That pattern holds good for a lot of societies, among them the Romans, the ancient Maya and the Sumerians of what is now southern Iraq. There are many other examples, including smaller-scale societies such as Easter Island. The very things that cause societies to prosper in the short run, especially new ways to exploit the environment such as the invention of irrigation, lead to disaster in the long run because of unforeseen complications. This is what I called in ‘A Short History of Progress’ the ‘progress trap.’ We have set in motion an industrial machine of such complexity and such dependence on expansion that we do not know how to make do with less or move to a steady state in terms of our demands on nature. We have failed to control human numbers. They have tripled in my lifetime. And the problem is made much worse by the widening gap between rich and poor, the upward concentration of wealth, which ensures there can never be enough to go around. The number of people in dire poverty today—about 2 billion—is greater than the world’s entire population in the early 1900s. That’s not progress.”
“If we continue to refuse to deal with things in an orderly and rational way, we will head into some sort of major catastrophe, sooner or later,” he said. “If we are lucky it will be big enough to wake us up worldwide but not big enough to wipe us out. That is the best we can hope for. We must transcend our evolutionary history. We’re Ice Age hunters with a shave and a suit. We are not good long-term thinkers. We would much rather gorge ourselves on dead mammoths by driving a herd over a cliff than figure out how to conserve the herd so it can feed us and our children forever. That is the transition our civilization has to make. And we’re not doing that.”
Wright, who in his dystopian novel “A Scientific Romance” paints a picture of a future world devastated by human stupidity, cites “entrenched political and economic interests” and a failure of the human imagination as the two biggest impediments to radical change. And all of us who use fossil fuels, who sustain ourselves through the formal economy, he says, are at fault.
Modern capitalist societies, Wright argues in his book “What Is America?: A Short History of the New World Order,” derive from European invaders’ plundering of the indigenous cultures in the Americas from the 16th to the 19th centuries, coupled with the use of African slaves as a workforce to replace the natives. The numbers of those natives fell by more than 90 percent because of smallpox and other plagues they hadn’t had before. The Spaniards did not conquer any of the major societies until smallpox had crippled them; in fact the Aztecs beat them the first time around. If Europe had not been able to seize the gold of the Aztec and Inca civilizations, if it had not been able to occupy the land and adopt highly productive New World crops for use on European farms, the growth of industrial society in Europe would have been much slower. Karl Marx and Adam Smith both pointed to the influx of wealth from the Americas as having made possible the Industrial Revolution and the start of modern capitalism. It was the rape of the Americas, Wright points out, that triggered the orgy of European expansion. The Industrial Revolution also equipped the Europeans with technologically advanced weapons systems, making further subjugation, plundering and expansion possible.
“The experience of a relatively easy 500 years of expansion and colonization, the constant taking over of new lands, led to the modern capitalist myth that you can expand forever,” Wright said. “It is an absurd myth. We live on this planet. We can’t leave it and go somewhere else. We have to bring our economies and demands on nature within natural limits, but we have had a 500-year run where Europeans, Euro-Americans and other colonists have overrun the world and taken it over. This 500-year run made it not only seem easy but normal. We believe things will always get bigger and better. We have to understand that this long period of expansion and prosperity was an anomaly. It has rarely happened in history and will never happen again. We have to readjust our entire civilization to live in a finite world. But we are not doing it, because we are carrying far too much baggage, too many mythical versions of deliberately distorted history and a deeply ingrained feeling that what being modern is all about is having more. This is what anthropologists call an ideological pathology, a self-destructive belief that causes societies to crash and burn. These societies go on doing things that are really stupid because they can’t change their way of thinking. And that is where we are.”
And as the collapse becomes palpable, if human history is any guide, we like past societies in distress will retreat into what anthropologists call “crisis cults.” The powerlessness we will feel in the face of ecological and economic chaos will unleash further collective delusions, such as fundamentalist belief in a god or gods who will come back to earth and save us.
“Societies in collapse often fall prey to the belief that if certain rituals are performed all the bad stuff will go away,” Wright said. “There are many examples of that throughout history. In the past these crisis cults took hold among people who had been colonized, attacked and slaughtered by outsiders, who had lost control of their lives. They see in these rituals the ability to bring back the past world, which they look at as a kind of paradise. They seek to return to the way things were. Crisis cults spread rapidly among Native American societies in the 19th century, when the buffalo and the Indians were being slaughtered by repeating rifles and finally machine guns. People came to believe, as happened in the Ghost Dance, that if they did the right things the modern world that was intolerable—the barbed wire, the railways, the white man, the machine gun—would disappear.”
“We all have the same, basic psychological hard wiring,” Wright said. “It makes us quite bad at long-range planning and leads us to cling to irrational delusions when faced with a serious threat. Look at the extreme right’s belief that if government got out of the way, the lost paradise of the 1950s would return. Look at the way we are letting oil and gas exploration rip when we know that expanding the carbon economy is suicidal for our children and grandchildren. The results can already be felt. When it gets to the point where large parts of the Earth experience crop failure at the same time then we will have mass starvation and a breakdown in order. That is what lies ahead if we do not deal with climate change.”
“If we fail in this great experiment, this experiment of apes becoming intelligent enough to take charge of their own destiny, nature will shrug and say it was fun for a while to let the apes run the laboratory, but in the end it was a bad idea,” Wright said.
|January 10, 2013||
5 Reasons Natural Gas Won’t Be an Environmental and Economic Savior by Tara Lohan, Alternet
This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.
If you’re hoping the natural gas boom means we’ve solved our environmental and economic woes, you’re going to be disappointed. While natural gas produces less nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide when burned compared to coal or oil, the end product is only part of the story. The natural gas boom in recent years has been fueled by extreme extraction methods like fracking that are posing a new slurry of environmental problems before the gas even makes it to consumers.
If you look at the complete picture of how we extract natural gas today, you begin to realize pretty quickly that we aren’t going to be able to drill our way out of the climate crisis without creating an even bigger mess in the process. The list of impacts from fracking is huge, but here are five to kick off the conversation:
Natural gas may release less pollution when burned, but it still may be a significant contributor to global warming pollution after all because we must take into account what happens during extraction, too. “Scientists are once again reporting alarmingly high methane emissions from an oil and gas field, underscoring questions about the environmental benefits of the boom in natural-gas production that is transforming the US energy system,” writes Jeff Tollefson for Nature. He explains:
When it comes to climate change, leaking methane is a big deal. The EPA reports, “Pound for pound, the comparative impact of CH4 [methane] on climate change is over 20 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period.
2. Water Pollution
Methane released during fracking doesn’t just end up in the air, but also in the water. By now you’ve likely already seen the videos of people living near gas drilling operations who can light their water on fire as it comes out of the tap. (If you haven’t then it’s time to see “Gasland.”) In 2011 the United States Geological Survey released a report about water in Pavillion, Wyoming where residents complained about water quality after drilling. Here’s what they found:
Other studies have show the same, including one published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Abrahm Lustgarten writesfor ProPublica:
And that’s just the methane. Frack fluid that is injected into the wells contains a toxic soup of hundreds of chemicals, including carcinogens and volatile organic compounds like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Companies aren’t required to disclose what chemicals they’re using either — so it makes it difficult to test for leaks and spills, and for people to be treated for health problems that may arise from exposure.
Oh yeah, and fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act — thanks Dick Cheney!
3. Water Consumption
Fracking is water intensive. It can take anywhere from 2 million to 13 million gallons of water to frack a single well and more water is needed to drill the well. Additionally wells are often fracked multiple times, some times as many as 18 times. Where does all that water come from? The Pacific Institute reports:
Already states like Texas and Pennsylvania have run into conflicts with fracking due to water shortages. And things are likely to get worse, as the Pacific Institute states, “In many basins, the application of fracking is still in its infancy and continued development could dramatically increase future water requirements and further intensify conflicts with other uses.”
How does all the water water and chemicals get to drilling sites? Trucks, trucks and more trucks. In Pennsylvania it was estimated that drilling and fracking a single well can result in 1,000 truck trips. For residents in rural areas, this means a constant stream of trucks barreling along small roads, some unpaved. Residents have complained of pollution from idling diesel trucks, roads that aren’t big enough for the vehicles, dust pollution on unpaved roads, and excessive wear and tear on bridges and pavement. The results have been accidents galore and big bills for taxpayers.
Jim Efstathiou Jr. wrote for Business Week:
5. Economic Fallout
So much for the economic boom that fracking was suppose to create for small towns. The road repairs are just the start. In one of the most heavily drilled counties in the Marcellus Shale, a hospital CEO in Pennsylvania is now blaming the gas drilling industry for an operating loss. The AP reported:
Homeowners may also stand to lose. The Huffington Post reported, “Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. has become the first major insurance company to say it won't cover damage related to a gas drilling process that blasts chemical-laden water deep into the ground.” The company released a memo that said:
While the fracking industry promises to create jobs, those like Tish O’Dell, co-founder of the Cleveland-area group Mothers Against Drilling in Our Neighborhoods, wonder about what jobs will be lost from impacts to farming, tourism and dairies. She told Midwest Energy News, “If you were going to do a really serious study you would look at these things,” she said. “If water is contaminated and fish die, what are the fishermen going to do? If you have parks where people go for peace and quiet, what happens when you turn it into an industrial landscape? If you have an organic dairy and the soil is polluted, what does that mean? These are all valid questions.”
|January 1, 2013||
2012: The Year We Did Our Best to Abandon the Natural World by George Monbiot, The Guardian, Alternet
It was the year of living dangerously. In 2012 governments turned their backs on the living planet, demonstrating that no chronic problem, however grave, will take priority over an immediate concern, however trivial. I believe there has been no worse year for the natural world in the past half-century.
Three weeks before the minimum occurred, the melting of the Arctic's sea ice broke the previous record. Remnants of the global megafauna – such as rhinos and bluefin tuna – were shoved violently towards extinction. Novel tree diseases raged across continents. Bird and insect numbers continued to plummet, coral reefs retreated, marine life dwindled. And those charged with protecting us and the world in which we live pretended that none of it was happening.
Their indifference was distilled into a great collective shrug at the Earth Summit in June. The first summit, 20 years before, was supposed to have heralded a new age of environmental responsibility. During that time, thanks largely to the empowerment of corporations and the ultra-rich, the square root of nothing has been achieved. Far from mobilising to address this, in 2012 the leaders of some of the world's most powerful governments – the US, the UK, Germany and Russia – didn't even bother to turn up.
But they did send their representatives to sabotage it. The Obama administration even sought to reverse commitments made by George Bush Sr in 1992. The final declaration was a parody of inaction. While the 190 countries that signed it expressed "deep concern" about the world's escalating crises, they agreed no new targets, dates or commitments, with one exception. Sixteen times they committed themselves to "sustained growth", a term they used interchangeably with its polar opposite, "sustainability".
The climate meeting in Doha at the end of the year produced a similar combination of inanity and contradiction. Governments have now begun to concede, without evincing any great concern, that they will miss theirtarget of no more than 2C of global warming this century. Instead we're on track for between four and six degrees. To prevent climate breakdown, coal burning should be in steep decline. Far from it: theInternational Energy Agency reports that global use of the most carbon-dense fossil fuel is climbing by about 200m tonnes a year. This helps to explain why global emissions are rising so fast.
Our leaders now treat climate change as a guilty secret. Even after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and the record droughts and wildfires that savaged the US, the two main presidential contenders refused to mention the subject, except for one throwaway sentence each. Has an issue this big ever received as little attention in a presidential race?
The same failures surround the other forces of destruction. In 2012 European governments flunked their proposed reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, which is perfectly designed to maximise environmental damage. The farm subsidies it provides are conditional on farmers destroying the vegetation (which also means the other wildlife) on their land. We pay €55bn a year to trash the natural world.
This contributes to what I have come to see as a great global polishing: a rubbing away of ecosystems and natural structures by the intensification of farming, fishing, mining and other industries. Looking back on this year a few decades hence, this destruction will seem vastly more significant than any of the stories with which the media is obsessed. Like governments, media companies have abandoned the living world.
In the UK in 2012, the vandals were given the keys to the art gallery. Environmental policy is now in the hands of people – such as George Osborne, Owen Paterson, Richard Benyon and Eric Pickles – who have no more feeling for the natural world than the Puritans had for fine art. They are busy defacing the old masters and smashing the ancient sculptures.
They have lit a bonfire of environmental regulations, hobbled bodies such as Natural England and the Environment Agency and ensured that the countryside becomes even more of an exclusive playground for the ultra-rich, unhampered by effective restraints on the burning of grouse moors, the use of lead shot, the killing of birds of prey and the spraying of pesticides that are wiping out our bees and other invertebrates.
In the same spirit, the government has reduced the list of possible marine conservation zones from 127 to 31. Even these 31 will be protected in name only: the fishing industry will still be allowed to rampage through them. A fortnight ago, the UK lobbied successfully for quotas of several overexploited fish species to be raised, while pouring scorn on the scientific evidence that shows this is madness.
George Osborne has done the same thing to the UK's climate change policies. Though even the big power companies oppose him, he is seeking to scrap or delay our targets for cutting carbon emissions and to ensure that we remain hooked on natural gas as our primary source of power. The green investment bank which was supposed to have funded the transition to new technologies is the only state bank in Europe that is forbidden to borrow. It might as well not be there at all.
If there is hope, it lies with the people. Opinion polls show that voters do not support their governments' inaction. Even a majority of Conservatives believe that the UK should generate most of its electricity from renewables by 2030. In the US, 80% of people polled now say that climate change will be a serious problem for their country if nothing is done about it: a substantial rise since 2009. The problem is that most people are not prepared to act on these beliefs. Citizens, as well as governments and the media, have turned their faces away from humanity's greatest problem.
To avoid another terrible year like 2012, we must translate these passive concerns into a mass mobilisation. Groups such as 350.orgshow how it might be done. If this annus horribilis tells us anything, it is that action, in the absence of such mobilisation, is simply not going to happen. Governments care only as much as their citizens force them to care. Nothing changes unless we change.
• A fully referenced version of this article can be found at monbiot.com
|December 20, 2012||
Climate Risks Have Been Underestimated for the Last 20 Years by Glenn Scherer, Daily Climate, Alternet
Across two decades and thousands of pages of reports, the world's most authoritative voice on climate science has consistently understated the rate and intensity of climate change and the danger those impacts represent, say a growing number of studies on the topic.
As the latest round of United Nations climate talks in Doha wrap up this week, climate experts warn that the IPCC's failure to adequately project the threats that rising global carbon emissions represent has serious consequences: The IPCC’s overly conservative reading of the science, they say, means governments and the public could be blindsided by the rapid onset of the flooding, extreme storms, drought, and other impacts associated with catastrophic global warming.This conservative bias, say some scientists, could have significant political implications, as reports from the group – the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – influence policy and planning decisions worldwide, from national governments down to local town councils.
"We're underestimating the fact that climate change is rearing its head," said Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and a lead author of key sections of the 2001 and 2007 IPCC reports. "And we're underestimating the role of humans, and this means we're underestimating what it means for the future and what we should be planning for."Underplaying the intensity
A comparison of past IPCC predictions against 22 years of weather data and the latest climate science find that the IPCC has consistently underplayed the intensity of global warming in each of its four major reports released since 1990.
The drastic decline of summer Arctic sea ice is one recent example: In the 2007 report, the IPCC concluded the Arctic would not lose its summer ice before 2070 at the earliest. But the ice pack has shrunk far faster than any scenario scientists felt policymakers should consider; now researchers say the region could see ice-free summers within 20 years.
Sea-level rise is another. In its 2001 report, the IPCC predicted an annual sea-level rise of less than 2 millimeters per year. But from 1993 through 2006, the oceans actually rose 3.3 millimeters per year, more than 50 percent above that projection.
Some climate researchers also worry that recent institutional changes could accentuate the organization's conservative bias in the fifth IPCC assessment, to be released in parts starting in September 2013.
The tendency to underplay climate impacts needs to be recognized, conclude the authors of a recent paper exploring this bias. Failure to do so, they wrote in their study published last month in the journal Global Environmental Change, "could prevent the full recognition, articulation and acknowledgement of dramatic natural phenomena that may in fact be occurring."Conservative bias
Yet some events in nature are dramatic, conclude University of California, San Diego, history and science professor Naomi Oreskes and Princeton University geosciences professor Michael Oppenheimer, co-authors of the study looking at the IPCC's bias. "If the drama arises primarily from social, political or economic impacts," they wrote, "then it is crucial that the associated risk be understood fully, and not discounted.”The conservative bias stems from several sources, scientists say. Part can be attributed to science's aversion to drama and dramatic conclusions: So-called outlier events – results at far ends of the spectrum – are often pruned. Such controversial findings require years of painstaking, independent verification.
IPCC Vice-Chair Jean-Pascal van Ypersele countered that, "the mandate of IPCC is to assess where there is consensus, and to reflect the full diversity of views that are scientifically valid where there isn't." He conceded that by requiring teams of authors to agree upon a report's text, the IPCC process is inherently conservative. Getting the balance right, he said in an e-mail, is "not always easy."
Oreskes, Oppenheimer and their co-authors argue the conservative bias pervades all of climate science.
But the underestimation by the IPCC is particularly worrisome, scientists say, because the organization is charged specifically with advising policy makers on the most relevant, accurate climate science.Current science
Established in 1988 by the United Nations, the IPCC does no original climactic research. Its role is to review current science from around the world, then synthesize and summarize that data within comprehensive reports meant for policymakers.
Such assessments typically take five to seven years to complete in a slow, bureaucratic process: Thousands of scientists from around the globe, working as unpaid volunteers, first sift through the scientific literature, identifying trends and writing a draft report. That draft is reviewed and thoroughly revised by other scientists. Then a summary for policymakers, condensing the science even further, is written and subjected to a painstaking, line-by-line revision by representatives from more than 100 world governments – all of whom must approve the final summary document.
Yet since that 2007 assessment, numerous observations and studies have shown that the speed and ferocity of climate change are at the extreme edge or outpacing IPCC projections on many fronts, including carbon emissions, temperature rise, continental ice-sheet melt, Arctic sea ice decline, and sea level rise (see sidebar).IPCC's four assessments – massive, multi-tome volumes released in 1990, 1995, 2001 and 2007 – are considered the gold standard in climate science. The fourth report earned both intense criticism from climate skeptics and the honor of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, shared with former Vice President Al Gore.Pattern of under-projection
The pattern, said Oreskes in an interview, is under- rather than over-projection. "These data simply do not support the allegations by skeptics that scientists have been alarmists," she said.
One example: In November, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., took a closer look at the computer models underpinning most climate predictions and concluded future warming is likely to be on the high side of climate projections.
Another example: This summer, NASA climatologist James Hansen co-authored an analysis of recent extreme weather across the globe. Hansen's team arrived at a strikingly different conclusion from an IPCC special assessment on the topic released just months earlier.
The Hansen study, published in August in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that rapid climate change over the past 30 years has loaded the dice in favor of extreme weather. The chance of extreme summer heat is now 13 percent higher than in 1980, the report found. Record heat waves seen by Europe in 2003, Russia in 2010, and Texas in 2011 would not have happened without human-caused global warming, it concluded.
Hansen's conclusion contrasted sharply with the hedging in the IPCC special assessment on extreme weather, published in March, 2012: "Confidence in projecting changes in the direction and magnitude of climate extremes depends on many factors," the report's summary for policymakers began. "Even the sign of projected changes in some climate extremes over this time frame is uncertain."
IPCC scientist and Pennsylvania State University professor of meteorology Michael Mann, who was not involved in the March IPCC report, said the IPCC missed an opportunity to provide politicians with a clear picture of the extent of the climate crisis. "Many scientists felt that report erred by underplaying the degree of confidence in the linkage between climate change and certain types of severe weather, including heat wave severity, heavy precipitation and drought, and hurricane intensity,” he said.Communication burden
Not all blame IPCC for failing to produce sufficient alarm with policymakers, however.
Andrew Dessler, professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University, sees no need for the IPCC to do anything differently. "The burden of communication falls on policymakers, not scientists," he said. Scientists are responsible for providing the hard data. It is up to policymakers to lead, connect the dots, and explain to the public the necessity of responding to global warming.
But the consequences of a conservative bias by climate scientists can be significant, others like Oreskes note. A society blind to the full range of potential outcomes, particularly the most disruptive, can remain apathetic to the need for change, pushing hard decisions off into the future.
The melting Arctic ice pack may offer such an example.
Scientists suspect that a diminished Arctic ice pack has the power to shift weather patterns across the Northern Hemisphere. Less ice, the hypothesis goes, would weaken and shift the jet stream, causing it to block normal weather patterns and hold storms, dry spells and heat waves in place so that they pound a single location for days, weeks or months.
But with the ice supposed to stay intact until 2070 or later, this was largely a theoretical problem for the future.
No longer: Summer ice in the Arctic hit a new low in 2012, and now some scientists say there is likely a link between that meltdown and the record-breaking drought that caused an estimated $28 billion in damage across the United States, as well as the soggy summer that left Britain drenched.
Even Hurricane Sandy has a potential Arctic tie-in, with researchers suggesting that the anomalous strong high pressure weather system over Greenland, forcing Sandy ashore in October, was influenced by the ice cap's decline.
These events – and especially the rapidity with which they are occurring – were not foreseen by IPCC models.Dismissed as outliers
Likewise, weather forecasters not associated with the IPCC, using short-term models, almost uniformly failed to predict the drought that gripped most of the United States this summer. The reason? The few computer models that did forecast a major drought were dismissed as outliers, according to a report by Climate Central, a science research and communication organization.
"It's like going to a doctor," said Princeton's Oppenheimer. "When data is weak you ask your doctor for his or her best judgment.
"That is what IPCC is supposed to do."
IPCC's Fifth Assessment will be released in four parts from September 2013 through September 2014. Reforms within the organization have resulted in a more demanding consensus process – one that may produce even greater caution in its conclusions, say several former senior IPCC authors.
IPCC's internal rules and deadlines have also been tightened, preventing the inclusion of some of the most up-to-date studies, he added. "The next report shows every sign of being even more conservative than the previous ones," said Trenberth. Instead of 10 lead authors per chapter, 14 or 15 scientists will have a say, making consensus-building harder.
"That builds in more conservatism, caveats, and wiggle room," Trenberth said.Input from contrarians
Penn State's Mann also feels that IPCC higher-ups, fearful of being attacked by climate skeptics, have "bent over backwards" to allow greater input from contrarians. "There's no problem in soliciting wide views that fairly represent … a peer group community," he said. "My worry is that they are stacking the deck, giving greater weight to contrarian views than is warranted by peer-reviewed literature."
There are indeed more authors for next year’s assessment – 831 as compared to about 500 for the 2007 report, said IPCC’s van Ypersele, “But there are many more chapters as well, because the scope of the fifth assessment is larger.” The resulting document, he said, will be “based on real science and not ideology.”
"Overall, the IPCC reports represent the best source of quality information on climate change," van Ypersele said.'Nature of research'
Underestimates will continue to characterize climate projections, cautioned Richard Somerville, IPCC scientist and Professor Emeritus and Research Professor at Scripps Institution, "But that's the nature of research," as it constantly discovers new possibilities.
Looking back at the 1950s when scientists first identified the climate problem, Somerville notes that the tone at the time "was not catastrophic at all, but rather curious to see how the climate system would react to a big spike in carbon dioxide emissions." Only over time did the full realization dawn on the scientific community that many of the consequences of climate change could be very serious and even catastrophic.
And that is what hasn't gotten across to the public, Somerville warned: a sense of urgency that, to most scientists, is now very clear.
"This is an urgency that has nothing to do with politics or ideology," said Somerville. "This urgency is dictated by the biogeochemistry and physics of the climate system. We have a very short time to de-carbonize the world economy and find substitutes for fossil fuels."
|December 19, 2012||
How a Country With One of the World's Largest Economies Is Ditching Fossil Fuels by Tara DePorte, Alternet
This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.
In the shadows of what was for many another disappointing international climate negotiation at COP 18 in Doha, the German energy transformation or “Energiewende” has all the signs of a modern miracle: A complete shift of the world’s fourth largest economy to 80% renewable energy and complete buy-in from all political parties—from the most conservative to most liberal. So, where is the sustainability energy Kool-Aid and how can we get some for the U.S. Congress?
The Perfect Energy Plan?
No matter who one seems to talk to in Germany, whether it’s the conservative member of parliament or the kid of the street, they all seem to agree on one thing: climate change needs to be addressed and they’re going to do it. Conflict arises, however, when asked HOW to do this and the Energiewende plan of Germany is touted as an inspirational and socially-responsible movement by one of the worlds’ leading economies, while others see it as a plan doomed to failure. According to a 2012 Economist critical analysis of the plan, “To many the Energiewende is a lunatic gamble with the country’s manufacturing prowess. But if it pays off Germany will have created yet another world-beating industry, say the gamblers.”
So, what is this transition plan and is it an energy and climate innovator or, as skeptics claim, a plan made to fail? The targets are impressive. The Energiewende includes phasing out all nuclear power by 2022 and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80% from 1990 levels and shifting the nation’s energy sources to 80% renewables by 2050. Additionally, the Renewable Energy Act gives priority to renewable energy in the energy grid before dirty forms of energy, securing a place for renewables in the energy marketplace. The plan also includes major expansions of the energy grid, consumer-based incentives, market-based emissions reductions and, all in all, reads as a gigantic climate and renewable energy high five.
In stark contrast, the world is watching closely as the U.S. undergoes a climate-unfortunate “re-industrialization”. Our own domestic energy transformation includes the “shale gas miracle”—or curse—of untapped natural shale gas reserves and the increased call for hydraulic fracking—a method of natural gas extraction that has lead to dramatic health and environmental concerns by many communities and a burgeoning anti-fracking movement. Many speak of the “shale gas miracle” as the key to U.S. energy independence. The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts a 44% increase in U.S. natural gas production from 2011 to 2040. Additionally, according to a November, 2012, L.A. Timesarticle, “The U.S. will become the world’s top producer of oil by 2020, a net exporter of oil around 2030 and nearly self-sufficient in energy by 2035, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency.” The popular rhetoric of U.S. energy independence seems to be the only climate or energy discussion to have successfully infiltrated U.S. media and crossed party lines—with “energy security” as a close runner-up. However, as we learned as teenagers, all this “independence” comes with a price (think: global climate change) and increased responsibility (is it time to become a global climate player?). Germany, on the other hand, has historically been an energy dependent nation (currently importing 70% of its energy) with longtime dependency of natural gas from Russia and coal and oil imports from a diversity of countries. As the U.S. leads the way in per capita greenhouse gas emissions, our “energy independence” being centered on an INCREASE in fossil fuel extraction is problematic. No matter how you look at it, Germany is phasing out fossil fuels and the U.S. is phasing up fossil fuels.
Buying Public Buy-In
Another component of the Energiewende is an incentive-based system that’s referred to as a “feed-in tariff”. Germans who install renewable energy systems (envision solar panels on your house) can sell surplus power back into the power grid at a rate guaranteed for 20 years. The feed-in tariff rate has dropped significantly over the past few years as more and more individuals, small businesses, and pop-up entrepreneurs take advantage of the financial incentives, costing the German government increasing sums. According to a 2012 Economist article, “The number of ‘energy co-operatives’ has risen six fold since 2007, to 586 last year. Solar parks have migrated from farms and family houses to apartment blocks. ‘Roof exchanges’ match owners with investors.”
This tariff both engages the German public in the great “transition”, while creating a more decentralized system of energy production and increasing the independence of Germany on foreign energy sources. Importantly, Germans are making this transition through clean, renewable energy, as opposed to the U.S. energy independence scheme currently centered around dirty fossil fuels.
In the U.S., we have incentivized small-scale renewables and energy efficiency with federal tax credits for energy efficiency since 2006, which include tax credits for up to 30% of the cost of renewable energy and other energy efficiency measures for individuals. What we’ve seen in the U.S. over the past 12 years is less of an emphasis on climate or energy regulation at the federal level, with concerned states and municipalities picking up the slack. According to the Data of State Incentives for Renewable and Efficiency (DSIRE), there are only a small handful of federal rules, regulations, or policies for renewable energy in the U.S., compared to over 380 of them at the state and local level. So, what’s preventing our national government from joining the renewable revolution?
In Germany, no one is arguing one thing: energy prices are going to go up, before they go down. In the U.S., where “tax” is a four-letter word and prices at the gas pump influence elections, rising energy bills are a politician’s nightmare. In Germany, however, it is expected that Chancellor Angela Merkel, who spearheaded the dramatic pace of the Energiewende, is projected to easily win re-election. Why then, despite the grumbling of many from the consumer and business side on price escalations, are Germans taking the renewable energy lead?
Part of the story has to do with German history and the domestic relationship with energy. For many in Berlin, the radioactive fallout of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in what is now the Ukraine, still stings. Many remember it as a time where German children weren’t allowed to play in the streets for fear of contamination and water supplies were suspect by a majority in the region. The 2011 Fukishima nuclear disaster of Japan was a sudden tipping point for Chancellor Merkel and many Germans. Although Germany was already planning a national energy overhaul, the rapidity of the national nuclear phase-out was drastically increased following Fukishima. The images and tremendous impacts of this disaster nailed the lid on the coffin of German nuclear power.
Often slated for its “clean” energy in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear is hotly contested throughout the world due to the danger of necessary radioactive material and the lack of safe disposal methods for toxic waste. However, some questions also arise with the sudden phase-out of nuclear energy in Germany, including: What will Germany do with the waste from its current nuclear facilities? Can Germany really claim nuclear safety on a domestic level when its neighbor, France, is dependent on over 75% of its domestic energy by nuclear power? And what about the increased domestic emissions from new coal power plants being built to counter the energy production lost by the phase-out of nuclear?
If one is to believe the market-based rhetoric on climate change and international development, then climate change presents an opportunity for new and innovative business models for nations that are fossil fuel dependent. Faced with a rapidly changing climate, the German approach has been to get in early, and stay in it for the long haul. Diametrically opposed to the long-term German approach, the U.S. is the global “risk taker”, where community-based thinking and long-term planning necessary to address climate change are nearly foreign concepts.
In terms of international cooperation, Germany has experience in collaborative sandbox play. The formation of the E.U. has forced member states to work together and confront some of Europe’s long-standing domestic patterns. The strategic patience learned from negotiating economics, environment and countless complex issues amongst 27 different governments (E.U.) has matured European countries beyond the American collaborative experience. As the global teenage superpower, the U.S. is a country that still works as a political island—where cooperation is far from synonymous with compromise. From the German political perspective, the U.S. is “missing opportunities” in regards to international climate negotiations.
When it comes to their renewable revolution, Germany is convinced that being the renewable “technological front runner” is an advantage as it’s rapidly growing market. When looking to German business, climate change and increases in energy efficiency and emissions standards in the U.S. and E.U. are shifting how they do business. Auto manufacturers, such as BMW, are now looking for suppliers domestically and abroad who can guarantee green energy for their new fleets of electric vehicles and they need to produce electric and hybrid fleets to comply with new U.S. fuel efficiency standards. For many of these companies, it’s not the “environment” or “good will” or even the market that’s driving them to green: it’s policy. According to a November 2012 commentary of the Energiewende by the Center for Eastern Studies, “The energy transformation in Germany is not perceived as an element of protection of the natural environment but primarily as part of the state’s economic and social policy.” So, is this a next step in bringing environment into the heart of social and economic systems or tossing them out of the running? And how does this discourse potentially impact the larger climate discourse?
Public Perception: It’s Not “If,” It’s How
As U.S. media outlets continue to ignore the clear, international climate science consensus and debate the existence of manmade climate change, the German media—and public—is on the road to energy independence AND cutting their climate impacts drastically. Even when talking with a former parliament member of one of Germany’s more conservative parties, he simultaneously touted the need for expansion of the fossil fuel industry, while saying, “of course climate change is real and we need to take action”. To many U.S. conservatives, climate change has somehow become a part of the “liberal agenda” of big government, tree hugging and a communist plot to destroy the nation’s economy. Regardless of party lines, there’s an obvious breach of communication between climate scientists, policy makers, the media, and the American public.
The success of the Energiewende would prove, globally, that addressing climate change builds your economy, not breaks it. Additionally, the trends in energy consumption per capita in Germany shows that less can indeed be more. As the German GDP rises, energy consumption is actually dropping per capita. According to the Post Carbon Institute, “Between 1980 and 2005, energy use was close to flat, while GDP rose by an average of 1.7% per year.” This means that Germans are becoming more energy efficient, and less energy intensive, as they earn more money. One key goal of the Energiewende is to show the world that jobs, growth, and sustainability are not exclusive. All eyes are on Germany and it is up to them to demonstrate that their energy transition is going to support their economy, not ruin it, through a rapid transformation to renewables.
On the other side of the ocean, as was reported in a 2012 Guardian article, the world continues to be amazed by the climate misinformation campaigns and partisan reporting on climate and energy in the United States. However, according to a 2012 report from the Yale Project on Climate Communication on U.S. perception of energy and climate policy, “A large majority of Americans (77%) say global warming should be a priority for the president and Congress,” and, “Nearly all Americans (92%) say the president and the Congress should make developing sources of clean energy a priority.” So, perhaps Americans are waking up to the inconvenient truths of climate change when faced with increased droughts, wildfires, and strengthened storms, or are they?
Regardless of international public perception, the U.S. is not without “climate wins” and international NGOs, academic bodies, and government agencies consistently refer to learning from regional, state, and citywide case studies. Many of the more progressive climate states include California with their recently-launched cap-and-trade system, and the first U.S. based cap-and-trade system, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) , which brings together nine Northeast states to reduce CO2 emissions from the energy sector by 10% by 2018.
Another sign of potential consumer-level buy-in to climate action is that both Germany and the U.S. are seeing the phenomenon of “social cocooning” grow, resulting in a rapidly expanding movement of people reverting to self-sufficiency and personal sustainability. The result? More urban gardens, the local food movement, small-scale energy production and increases in human-powered mobility, which some attribute to social awareness of climate change and others to economic troubles on both sides of the Atlantic. A not-so-climate-positive shared phenomenon is what’s referred to as “NIMBY” or Not In My Back Yard, where even those who support renewable energy or shifting economies towards sustainability don’t necessarily want to feel or see that shift in their daily lives. For example, you might love wind energy, but not really want one on the horizon while you’re on a beach vacation with the family.
No Country Is an Energy Island…
As far as climate change is concerned, no country is an island. We’re all in this together. So, what does it mean that a country like Germany is slashing emissions, pushing for binding emissions targets internationally, and leading the renewable revolution? Some would argue that they are setting a great example, but unless the other large global economies (and polluters) follow suit, their positive climate impact will be negligible. Whether we like it or not, energy is the backbone of our global economies, and currently that energy is based on fossil fuels.
The international impacts of the Energiewende might hit home for the American public sooner than we think. Currently, the E.U. and U.S. are reinvigorating talks on developing a Transatlantic Free Trade Area, to increase economic ties between the two regions. As was reported in a 2012 Washington Post article, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “We are discussing possible negotiations with the European Union for a comprehensive agreement that would increase trade and spur growth on both sides of the Atlantic.” Included in her speech were direct calls for an end to certain standards in the E.U., including agricultural rules, that she referred to as “long-standing barriers to trade and market access”. Putting this into layman terms: the E.U. has stricter labeling and environmental rules for consumer products and bans genetically modified foods. So, will the E.U. succumb to U.S. demands and lower their standards to increase inter-continental trade? Will these demands creep into energy policy and cater to the lowest common climate denominator—the U.S.? Or will the opposite come true: Germany and the E.U. will counter that if the U.S. wants to open economic ties, then we have to start coming together on the ethical ones, whether it’s energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions, or having honest labels on our goods?
In a world powered by dirty energy, what will it take to make a global shift to renewables? Looking at the “bigger picture” of climate change and energy links, many see Germany’s country-by-country approach as a small, perhaps insignificant piece, in the global climate puzzle. This concern echoes the critiques by many of Germany’s neighbors—if just one country transforms their climate impacts, does it really matter? And the answer: Germany can’t do it without buy-in from other countries in the E.U. and, perhaps, even us in the United States. And they just might have the long-term planning, innovation, and determination to make it work.
|January 2, 2013||
The corner of Goldenrod and Western streets, with its grid of modest homes, could be almost any suburb that went up in a hurry – except of course for the giant screeching oil rig tearing up the earth and making the pavement shudder underfoot.
Fracking, the technology that opened up America's vast deposits of unconventional oil and gas, has moved beyond remote locations and landed at the front door, with oil operations now planned or under way in suburbs, mid-sized towns and large metropolitan areas.
Some cities have moved to limit fracking or ban it outright – even in the heart of oil and gas country. Tulsa, Oklahoma, which once billed itself as the oil capital of the world, banned fracking inside city limits. The authorities in Dallas last week blocked what would have been the first natural gas well in town. The town of Longmont, just outside Denver, meanwhile, is fighting off attempts by industry groups to overturn a fracking ban.
But Gardendale, a suburb of 1,500 people near the hub of the west Texas oil industry, exists in a legal and political environment in which there are seemingly few restrictions on fracking, even inside city limits. For residents here, fracking is part of daily life.
"You can hear it, you can smell it, and you are always breathing it. It's just like being behind a car exhaust," said Debbie Leverett, during a tour of the area last October organised by the Society of Environmental Journalists. "All of your senses change."
Over the last few years oil companies have drilled 51 wells in Gardendale, an area that covers about 11 square miles – and that's just the start.
Berry Petroleum, the main oil developer, plans to drill as many as 300 wells in Gardendale. "Berry's current plan is to drill approximately 140 wells on 40-acre spacing in and around the Gardendale area," Jeff Coyle, a company spokesman, wrote in an email. "Additionally, we are preparing to conduct a pilot study on 20-acre spacing and, if those test results are encouraging and economic conditions warrant, we may drill up to 160 additional wells."
Some of those wells will be drilled within 150ft of residents' front doors – far closer than in other towns in Texas.
In the nearby city of Midland, the oil industry hub and childhood home of George W Bush, the city council capped the number of wells inside city limits at 30. The town requires oil companies to stay 500ft away from buildings and homes. In some circumstances oil companies may be required to landscape around a well.
"People are still not really happy when an oil well turns up in the backyard," said Wes Perry, Midland's mayor and an oil man himself. But he added: "We are an oil town. We can't be hypocrites."
However, Gardendale lacks the legal authority to keep fracking at a distance. The suburb, just outside Midland and Odessa, is unincorporated, so it does not have the legal authority to impose zoning restrictions. Residents voted down an attempt to incorporate last year, fearing it would lead to higher taxes.
Berry argues the close proximity serves to encourage industry and residents to co-exist. "What we have here is a situation where we have to find the best way to work together, where mineral rights owners and surface rights owners can co-exist," Coyle said.
But co-existence does not work for Shane Leverett, Debbie's husband. Leverett has worked in the oil industry, but he said the drilling plan for Gardendale was excessive. "This is a fantastic opportunity for oil and gas development, but it is coming at the expense of all of us," he said.
|January 8, 2013||
Keystone Pipeline Rolls Over Opponents, But Resistance Grows by William Boardman, Alternet
This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.
Construction of the southern leg of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline continues to march through East Texas toward the sea with the implacability of Sherman’s army in 1864, although with somewhat less scorched earth and fewer casualties in its wake during the past several months.
So far, the Canadian pipeline corporation has faced and overcome opposition all along the way – from protestors, blockaders, and court challenges – and as of January 4, TransCanada reported that the 485 mile construction project was roughly a third complete and pretty much on schedule for completion before the end of 2013.
Despite setbacks as recently as January 3 , when a police-supervised cherry picker collected a tree-sitter from the pipeline right-of-way, the Tar Sands Blockade and other opposition groups kept their actions going with a non-violence training camp over the weekend.
This led to the Tar Sands Blockade's largest demonstration so far, on January 7, when about 100 protestors occupied the lobby in the TransCanada office building. After about an hour, police cleared the building almost peacefully, with little more than some pushing and shoving. There were few arrests. Most of the evicted demonstrators gathered in a greenspace across the street, where they performed street theatre featuring a "pipeline dragon," as some 40 police looked on, some on horseback quietly drinking their Starbucks.
A potentially much more important struggle goes on mostly out of sight in Washington, DC, where the Secretary of State is officially responsible for accurately assessing the environmental impact of the whole Keystone XL, all 1,100-plus miles of it. This assessment was ordered almost a year ago, when President Obama resisted Congressional pressure, and denied the pipeline a permit to cross from Canada into the U.S. until the evaluation was done – making the final decision a clear indicator of the president’s seriousness about climate change.
Redford Speaks Politely to Power
This was the subtext of environmentalist and movie makes Robert Redford in a recent piece that doesn’t mention President Obama by name, but calls in quietly measured tones for his government to deny the pipeline a permit:
The Alberta tar sands in Canada, like tar sands everywhere, do not contain oil. The near-solid bitumen in tar sands can be turned into a high- sulfur content oil by treatment with toxic chemicals, heat, and pressure. The Keystone XL pipeline is designed to transport over 700,000 barrels of hot tar sands oil under pressure every day, from Canada across the heartland of the United States to Gulf Coast refineries, from whence it will mostly go to overseas markets, especially China.
In contrast to Redford’s polite demurrer, NASA scientist James Hansen has looked at the very same set of facts and concluded that Canadian tar sands “contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history” – and that exploitation of this “resource” would mean, effectively, “game over for the climate.”
Hansen was critical of President Obama for taking the attitude that the Canadians would exploit their tar sands no matter what the U.S. does. Redford suggests this may not be true, that:
|October 18, 2013||
Why Scientists Are in Alarm Mode Over the Keystone XL Pipeline by Laray Polk, Alternet
Why are scientists in alarm mode over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, a 1,700-mile long conduit that would transport a chemical-laden synthetic oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas? Scientists across specialized fields have joined forces to make public statements, penned a formal letter to President Obama, and have even committed acts of civil disobedience in front of the White House during the national Tar Sands Action.
What do they know that we don’t?
I sought out these questions, traveling to the furthest southern extent of Cape Cod to the township of Woods Hole; a place of world renown for its oceanic studies and a hub of scientific exploration since the late 1800s. I had come to meet with one of the signatories of the Obama letter, ecologist George M. Woodwell, at the Woods Hole Research Center.
While awaiting his arrival, I walked around the facility and its grounds. WHRC, also a campus, is ensconced in eight acres of oxygen-rich forest where burnt and downed tree trunks are left alone to decompose. The carpet of detritus underfoot was so dense and varied its components were indecipherable to the naked eye. The outdoor laboratory is a sliver of what they do on a global scale: WHRC is a preeminent collector of data on forests. They track and record the health of forests worldwide in tandem with cooperators in the Amazon, the Arctic, Africa, Russia, Alaska, Canada, New England, and the Mid-Atlantic.
Once the interview was underway, Woodwell, founder and director emeritus of WHRC, did not mince words about the Keystone XL project: “The tar sands is a complete scandal; it’s totally for profit—for Canadian profit, political profit, financial profit—and not for the public good because the oil poisons the world, and the methods of getting it poisons the world in more ways than anybody is admitting.”
Woodwell believes the role of government is to protect the public welfare, and that includes protection of the environment. For those who argue for less oversight, he presented an inventory of what a loosely regulated business world has produced in the past: slavery, the effluence of smelters that killed people and vegetation, silicosis in miners, and chemical and radiation poisoning of workers. For an example of a country in ecological collapse, he pointed to Haiti. “They don’t have a functioning environment, economy, or government. All must stand together. Take one away, or make one fail, and the others fail.”
He has been accused on more than one occasion of being political. Woodwell conducted the groundbreaking research on DDT that formed the basis for its eventual nationwide ban in 1972. He has a very short answer why such accusations exist: “Environmental science gets politicized because it has economic implications.”
Woodwell, who prefers the term “climate disruption” to climate change, is clear on what must be done to stabilize the already teetering-on-the-edge biosphere. The use of fossil fuels must be reduced and “we have to stop deforestation, all of it, all over the world because the carbon pool in the vegetation of the earth is connected to forests.”
The carbon storage capacity of forests is approximately three times as large as the pool of carbon in the atmosphere. If forests are changed, reduced, or eliminated, the pool, or captured carbon, goes into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2). According to Woodwell, the carbon release from deforestation accounts for “25 to 30 percent of the four to five billion tons of carbon accumulating a year in the atmosphere from the total of all human activities.”
|January 7, 2013||
The Wicked Brew That Would Be Transported in the Keystone XL Pipeline by Rand Clifford, Alternet
This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.
The massive exploitation of Alberta tar sands may be the biggest environmental crime in history and a new benchmark for sacrifice of public health to corporate profit.
It's so much more than converting an area of boreal forest the size of England into a cankerous and lifeless open sore bleeding tar. It's more than decimating some of the world’s last wild forests—home to 35% of Canada’s wetlands. And it's more than attacking Earth’s biosphere with a carbon weapon of mass destruction.
How far has corporate depravity driven corporate disregard for life on Earth? The exploitation of the Alberta tar sands goes the distance with the Keystone XL pipeline.
In December 11, 2012 an L.A. Times article by Molly Hennessy-Fiske revealed that Jack Sinz, Texas County Court at Law Judge, lifted his restraining order that delayed a portion of TransCanada’s Keystone XL running through eastern Texas. The restraining order resulted from landowner Michael Bishop filing suit to halt pipeline construction on his property because TransCanada fraudulently promised that Keystone XL would transport “crude oil”.
TransCanada lawyers convinced Judge Sinz that Michael Bishop “...understood what he was doing when he signed off on an easement agreement with the company three weeks ago.”
TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard stated: “TransCanada has been open and transparent with Mr. Bishop at all times.” Then Mr. Howard further illuminates the howler of TransCanada being open and transparent: “Since Mr. Bishop signed his agreement with TransCanada, nothing about the pipeline or the product it will carry has changed. While professional activists and others have made the same claims Mr. Bishop did today, oil is oil.”
Problem is, oil is exactly what Keystone pipeline does not pipe.
Raw bitumen diluted with up to 50% natural gas liquids (condensates) at 1,440 pounds per square inch (psi) pressure, and temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit—that’s what Keystone XL pipes, a wicked brew called, “DilBit”.
TransCanada’s spokesman, Shawn Howard, said, “...oil is oil”. But that's hardly the case. The massive exploitation of Alberta tar sands (MEATS) and Keystone XL advocates cultivate public misconception of DilBit being “crude oil”. A dangerous ruse spanning pipeline safety regulations to pipeline technology and leak detection...back to public awareness. Pawning off DilBit as crude oil is TransCanada’s public-relations Job Number One—except when it comes to the IRS.
The oil industry pays an eight-cents-per-barrel tax on crude oil produced in or imported to the U.S., proceeds earmarked for the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund that covers cleanup costs for oil spills. But in 2011, at the request of a company whose identity is kept secret, an exemption was made that frees DilBit from this tax because, as the secret company made clear: “oil” from Canada’s tar sands is so different (chemistry, behavior, how it’s produced) that it should not be considered crude oil.
Texas, and federal statutory codes define crude oil as "liquid hydrocarbons extracted from the earth at atmospheric temperatures”. Simple enough, DilBit is not crude oil.
Alberta bitumen is strip-mined and steam-melted from sands and silts; it takes two tons of earth, three barrels of water, and lots of natural gas to extract one barrel of raw bitumen , which is almost a solid.
MEATS currently consumes, per day, enough natural gas to heat 3 million Canadian homes, and fouls 400 million gallons of water. Wastewater is pumped into immense tailing ponds rich in arsenic, cyanide, ammonia, cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, zinc -- not to mention the biocidal gumbo of hydrocarbons -- sixty-five square miles of tailing ponds, so far.
|November 18, 2012||
Activists Gather in DC: 5 Reasons Why Obama Should Reject The Keystone XL Pipeline by Think Progress, Alternet,
This Sunday, activists are organizing another round of protests at the White House to urge the President to kill the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. This marks the beginning of a new post-election campaign to pressure the Administration to abandon dirty fossil fuel projects. Below is a piece, written by three of the organizations leading the protests: Oil Change International, 350.org, and Bold Nebraska.
As the President kicks off his second term, there has been much chatter about town as to whether or not he will approve the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Mitt Romney made it clear that he would approve the pipeline on his first day in office—and even went so far as to say he would build it himself if he had too—while the President has emphasized the importance of climate change and renewable energy.
In an interview with AARP, the President noted that doubling fuel efficiency standards on carswould produce savings equivalent to what would be pumped through Keystone XL in 45 years. In his election night speech, he warned of the “ the destructive power of a warming planet.”
Keystone XL is a means for reckless expansion of the tar sands industry, which is game over for the climate. The voters who re-elected Barack Obama expect him to create a legacy of action to stop climate change. Rejecting KXL would be a perfect first step to creating that legacy.
Given that climate change—and our country’s climate legacy—are of utmost importance to the President, we’ve identified the top five [commonsense] reasons to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline:
|January 7, 2013,||
Role of Religion in the World Community
by Charles Mercieca
Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
International Association of Educators for World Peace
Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University
Hon President & Professor, SBS Swiss Business School, Zurich
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As the saying goes, there are two sides of a coin. On one hand, Religion could be viewed as a blessing and a source of inspiration. On the other hand, Religion could be seen as a source of trouble and confusion that may turn many into becoming prejudiced and skeptical. A careful analysis of this conclusion will enable us to see why Religion is viewed as having one side that is positive and constructive and another other side that is negative and destructive.
Positive and Constructive Aspects
Religion as judged from its ideals is positive and constructive. However, in a number of instances when judged from the way adherents behave religion may give the impression of being negative and destructive. Let us first explore the ideals of some of the major religions before we go to the negative behavior of some of the adherents. This may enable us to instill more respect and better understanding of the teachings and views of our respective major religions. It may eventually enable us to view religion as the best instrument of peace.
Judaism views the Old Testament as its source of inspiration and eventual behavior. It is commonly known as the Bible, which carries a variety of books among which the Pentateuch, which talks about the creation and experiences of the forefathers of the Jewish people. The Nevi'im covers the early and latter prophets. It covers the history of various wars along with the teachings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. The Ketuvim covers the psalms, the suffering of the book of Job, the experiences of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ruth and the Book of Daniel.
Christianity views the New Testament as its source of inspiration and eventual behavior. Hundreds of spiritually oriented individuals over the past 2,000 years provided a lot of literature, which elaborated on the inspirational teachings of Jesus Christ. One of such writers was St. Thomas Aquinas whose theological writings are second to none. Some of the leading figures that served as inspiration to millions may be enlisted at random as St. Francis of Assisi, St. Therese of Avila, St. Anthony of Padova, and St. Augustine.
Islam views the Koran as its source of inspiration and eventual behavior. It is viewed by some to be the Bible of Moslems. One good piece of literature is Hadith, which records the sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad. Several inspiring pieces of literature were from India and Persia that were translated into Arabic, which became a source of inspiration and spiritual upliftment. The Book of Misers is a collection of stories about the avaricious. The Orchard consists of stories illustrating the virtues of Muslims are supposed to possess.
Buddhism relies heavily on the teachings of Gautama Siddhartha, who is commonly known as Buddha. A popular writing is the Amithaba, which consists of the various concepts of God, non-violence, and religious tolerance. There is also the Buddhist Bible consisting of a collection of key Zen documents that enabled the spread of Buddhism in English speaking countries. Gospel of Buddha, which covers Buddha's work and life compiled from ancient records. These documents, in addition to others, are notably positive and constructive.
Hinduism tries to understand good human behavior from such literature that includes Ramayana, Mahabharata and Bhagavad-Gita. Ramayana praises the heroism and virtues of Aryan warrior-princes. Focus is made on speaking the truth and making sacrifices for the sake of virtue against the evils of greed, lust and deceit. Mahabharata attempts to be an encyclopedia of morality. One of its heroes is Krishna. Bhagavad-Gita is seen as Hinduism's most popular scriptures, which was followed closely by Mahatma Gandhi.
We got a view of the positive and constructive aspects of such religions. Since millions tend to abuse religion, we need to analyze well their behavior.
Judaism is a very good religion, which in olden times it was viewed as God's religion, the one He provided to the famous prophets Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Among other things, in Judaism we find the phrase "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." This means if you destroy the property of others, your property should be destroyed in return.
Judged from how Israel reacts to Palestinian protestors for the confiscation of their land, the Israelis opted for "one thousand eyes for one eye and one thousand teeth for one tooth." This generated hatred for the State of Israel.
Christianity is based on genuine love for one's neighbors. Jesus made it clear to his disciples saying: Do to others what you would like others to do to you. He also advocated the elimination of retaliation exhorting his followers to be good even to their enemies. The USA many Christian members in the US Congress view abortion as murder since life is viewed to start at conception.
Yet, these same US government officials continue to put billions of dollars on the manufacture and sales of weapons and the promotion of wars. And to turn an insult into injury, they referred to the brutal massacre of civilians in Iraq as collateral damage! This means for these American Christians life is sacred only from conception to birth. What happens after is not much of a big deal!
Islam is obviously a very good religion, as testified in its authoritative literature. Unfortunately, many of its followers go to extreme as to create a bad image on this holy religion unnecessarily. For example, the Koran speaks of the Jihad, which consists of the waging of a "holy war." Within the context, such a war is to be waged against our own vices, which should be replaced by virtues.
Muslims are expected to replace hatred with love, pride with humility, anger with tolerance, and so on. The tragedy with a handful of vocal Muslims lays in the fact they take pride in promoting a holy war against the other children of God, since God views all people as His own children. This kind of Jihad is best described as a cursed war that is meant to please Satan rather than God.
Buddhism has perhaps proven to be the most peaceful religion in our earthly community. Buddhists seem to have least attachment to the material things of this world. They tend to lead a very simple life and they never hesitate to help all people in need they come across. They do not seem to have members that go to extremes by way of habit, like we do find in the other religions.
In many circles, Buddhism has often been described as a very peaceful religion whose members are generally saturated in virtue. They tend to do good to those that may wish to harm them. Their chanting instills peace and serenity among those that happen to be present. One hardly ever finds the ambition among Buddhists governmental leaders to dominate others.
Hinduism may be viewed as the most peaceful next to Buddhism, even though we do find in history quite a few Hindus that waged wars. Even here, they tended to reveal much less aggressiveness than that revealed by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Their tendency to pray and meditate seems to have become their characteristic. They are mostly concerned with their individual happiness which they would yearn to share with others.
In conclusion, all major religions have plenty of good to offer. Our negative and destructive experience about religion always stems from the bad behavior of its adherents. Let us try to learn and fully benefit from each one of them without being influenced by the negative and destructive conduct of the followers of such valuable spiritual inheritance.
|January 13, 2013||
La guerre la plus dure c'est la guerre contre soi-même.
Il faut arriver à se désarmer.
J'ai mené cette guerre pendant des années, elle a été terrible. Mais je suis désarmé. Je n'ai plus peur de rien car l'amour chasse la peur.
Je suis désarmé de la volonté d'avoir raison, de me justifier en disqualifiant les autres, je ne suis plus sur mes gardes, jalousement crispé sur mes richesses.
J'accueille et je partage. Je ne tiens pas particulièrement à mes idées, à mes projets. Si l'on m'en présente de meilleurs, ou plutôt non, pas meilleurs, mais bons, j'accepte sans regret.
J'ai renoncé au comparatif. Ce qui est bon, vrai, réel, est toujours pour moi le meilleur.
C'est pourquoi je n'ai plus peur. Quand on n'a plus rien, on a plus peur. Si l'on désarme, si l'on se dépossède, si l'on s'ouvre au Dieu-Homme qui fait toutes choses nouvelles, alors Lui efface le mauvais passé et nous rend un temps neuf où tout est possible.
The war the harder it is the war itself - even.
The harder the war is the war against yourself.
Must be to disarm.
I conducted this war for years, it was terrible. But I am disarmed. I'm more afraid of nothing because love casts the fear.
I am disarmed will have reason to justify me by disqualifying the other, I am more on my guard jealously twitchy on my wealth.
I welcome and I share. I would not particularly like my ideas to my projects. If one is best, or rather not, not best, but good, I accept without regret.
I gave up on the comparison. That is good, true, real, remains for me the best.
This is why I no longer fear. When there is more nothing, we have more fear. If it disarms, if one is deprived, if you open the God-man who makes all things new, so clears it the bad past and makes us a nine time where everything is possible.
Incluso los más difícil de la guerra es la guerra misma.
Más difícil la guerra es la guerra contra sí mismo.
Llevé a cabo esta guerra durante años, fue terrible. Pero estoy desarmado. Tengo más miedo de nada porque amor proyecta el miedo.
Estoy desarmado tendrá razón para justificarme por descalificar a la otra, estoy más en mi Guardia celosamente nervioso en mi riqueza.
Aplaudo y comparto. ¿No quiero mis ideas mis proyectos. Si uno es mejor, o más bien no, no mejor, pero bueno, acepto sin pesar.
Abandoné en la comparación. Es bueno, verdadero, real, sigue siendo para mi el mejor.
Esto es por qué ya no temo. Cuando no hay más nada, tenemos más miedo. Si desarma, si uno es privado, si abres al hombre de Dios que hace todas las cosas nuevas, así que lo borra el mal pasado y nos hace un tiempo nueve donde todo es posible.
A guerra mais difícil é a guerra em si - mesmo.
O mais difícil da guerra é a guerra contra si mesmo.
Deve ser para desarmar.
Realizei esta guerra durante anos, foi horrível. Mas eu estou desarmado. Eu tenho mais medo de nada porque amor lança o medo.
Estou desarmado terá razão para justificar-me, desqualificando o outro, eu sou mais no meu guarda ciosamente twitchy na minha riqueza.
Congratulo-me e partilho. Não particularmente gostaria que minhas idéias para meus projetos. Se um é melhor, ou melhor, não, não é melhor, mas bom, aceito sem pesar.
Eu desisti na comparação. Isto é bom, verdadeiro, real, permanece para mim o melhor.
Eis porque eu já não temo. Quando não há mais nada, temos mais medo. Se ele desarma, se é privado, se você abrir o Deus-homem que faz todas as coisas novas, então ele limpa o passado ruim e faz-em um tempo de nove onde tudo é possível.
Ne vous contentez pas de rêver votre avenir, mais efforcez-vous de le construire dès maintenant sur des bases solides.
C’est maintenant qui compte.
L’avenir est un prolongement du présent, et le présent n’est rien d’autre qu’une conséquence, un résultat du passé.
Tout se tient : le passé, le présent, l’avenir ne sont pas séparés. L’avenir sera édifié sur les fondations que vous posez maintenant. Si ces fondations sont défectueuses, évidemment, inutile d’attendre un avenir exceptionnel ; mais si elles sont bonnes, inutile aussi de s’inquiéter.
Avec telles racines, vous aurez tel tronc, telles branches et tels fruits.
Le passé est passé, mais il a mis au monde le présent, et le présent, c’est les racines de l’avenir.
Donc, dès maintenant vous construisez votre avenir en cherchant à améliorer le présent.
You do not satisfy to dream your future, but endeavour to build it as of now on strong foundations. It is `now `which counts.
The future is a prolongation of the present, and the present is anything else only one consequence, a result of the past.
All is held: the past, the present, the future are not separate. The future will be built on the foundation swhich you pose now.
If these foundations are defective, obviously, useless to await an exceptional future; but if they are good, useless also to worry.
With such roots, you will have such trunk, such branches and such fruits.
The past passed, but it put at the world the present, and the present, they is the roots of the future.
Therefore, as of now you build your future while seeking to improve the présent.
No satisface de soñar su futuro, pero se esfuerza de construirlo desde ahora sobre bases sólidas. Es `ahora `que cuenta.
El futuro es una prolongación del presente, y el presente sólo es nada de otro una consecuencia, un resultado del pasado.
Todo se tiene: el pasado, el presente, el futuro no son separado. El futuro se construirá sobre las fundaciones que coloca ahora.
Si estas fundaciones son defectuosas, obviamente, inútiles esperar un futuro excepcional; pero si son buenas, inútil también preocuparse.
Con tales raíces, tendrá tal tronco, tales ramas y tales frutas.
El pasado pasó, pero puso del mundo el presente, y el presente, es las raíces del futuro.
Pues, desde ahora construye su futuro pretendiendo mejorar el présent.
Não satisfaz de sonhar o vosso futuro, mas esforçam-se construi-lo agora sobre bases sólidas. É `agora `que conta.
O futuro é um prolongamento do presente, e o presente é nada de outro apenas uma consequência, um resultado do passado.
Todo realiza-se: o passado, o presente, o futuro não é separado. O futuro será edificado sobre as fundações que põe agora.
Se estas fundações são defeituosos, evidentemente, inúteis esperar um futuro excepcional; mas se são boas, inútil também preocupar-se.
Com tais raizes, terá tal tronco, como ramos e tais frutos.
O passado passou, mas pôs ao mundo o presente, e o presente, é as raizes do futuro. Por conseguinte, agora constrói o vosso futuro procurando melhorar o présent.
|January 13, 2013||
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Une seule prière monte vers le ciel,
Une seule prière qui parle de tout,
De toutes les fleurs
Qui sont mortes dans les guerres,
De tous les enfants qui ont cessé de jouer,
Une seule prière flamboyante,
Née de l'inspiration envoyée par la Divinité,
Quand sera exprimée par chaque nation,
La Paix embrassera doucement les hommes,
En une harmonie universelle,
Et quand ces choses seront realité
Accompagnez-moi en disant de tout coeur:
PUISSE LA PAIX RÉGNER DANS LE MONDE
Et vous sentirez le bien, l'amour et le bonheur…
Pode a paz reinar no mundo
Uma única oração sobe para o céu,
Uma oração simples que fala de tudo,
De todas as flores
Que morreu nas guerras
De todas as crianças que pararam de jogar.
Uma única oração flamejante
Nascido da inspiração enviada pela divindade,
Quando será expressa por cada nação,
A humanidade inteira,
Paz suavemente abraça os homens,
Em uma harmonia universal.
E quando estas coisas se tornam realidade
Juntar-me em dizer sinceramente:
PODE A PAZ REINAR NO MUNDO
E você se sentir bem, amor e felicidade...
May peace reign in the world
A single prayer rises towards the sky,
A single prayer that speaks of everything,
Of all the flowers
Who died in the wars
Of all children who have stopped playing,.
A single flaming prayer
Born of inspiration sent by the deity,
When will be expressed by each nation,
The entire humanity,
Peace gently embraces men,
In a universal harmony.
And when these things become reality
Join me in saying wholeheartedly:
MAY PEACE REIGN IN THE WORLD
And you feel good, love and happiness...
Mayo reinado de paz en el mundo
Una simple oración se eleva hacia el cielo,
Una simple oración que habla de todo,
De todas las flores
Que murieron en las guerras
De todos los niños que han dejado de jugar.
Una simple oración llameante
Nació de inspiración enviado por la deidad,
Cuando se expresa por cada nación,
La humanidad entera,
Paz abraza suavemente los hombres,
En una armonía universal.
Y cuando estas cosas se hacen realidad
Únase a mí diciendo sinceramente:
MAYO REINADO LA PAZ EN EL MUNDO
Y te sientes bien, amor y felicidad...
Postal address: 186 Bowlsby Street, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada V9R 5K1
Copyright 2012: Â© Global Community, Global Parliament, Federation of Global Governments