Articles, papers, comments, opinions and new ideas worth sharing

Authors of research papers and articles on global issues for this month

Ugo Bardi, Medea Benjamin, Peter Goodchild, A. Grinstede, Dennis Kucinich, S. Jevrejevaa, Tara Lohan, Manuel Salvador Leyva Martinez, Kirsty Galloway McLean, Charles Mercieca, J.C. Mooreb, Andrew Myers, Robert Naiman, Devon G. Pena, Igor Volsky

Ugo Bardi, Degrowth And Peak Oil Degrowth And Peak Oil
Medea Benjamin and Robert Naiman, CODEPINK in Pakistan! CODEPINK in Pakistan!
Peter Goodchild, Natural Resources: Heading To The Bottom Natural Resources: Heading To The Bottom
S. Jevrejevaa, J.C. Mooreb, and A. Grinstede, Sea level projections to AD2500 with a new generation of climate change scenarios Sea level projections to AD2500 with a new generation of climate change scenarios
Dennis Kucinich, Weapons of Mass Distraction Weapons of Mass Distraction
Tara Lohan, Only a Revolution in Our Thinking Can Save Us From a Water Crisis Only a Revolution in Our Thinking Can Save Us From a Water Crisis
Kirsty Galloway McLean, Land Use, Climate Change Adaptation And Indigenous Peoples Land Use, Climate Change Adaptation And Indigenous Peoples
Charles Mercieca, Abuse of Power: Criminal Assault on Humanity Abuse of Power: Criminal Assault on Humanity
Andrew Myers Wind could meet many times world's total power demand by 2030 Wind could meet many times world's total power demand by 2030
Devon G. Pena Why Capitalism, Not Population Is Our Greatest Environmental Threat Why Capitalism, Not Population Is Our Greatest Environmental Threat
Igor Volsky, 100 Million Could Die As a Result of Climate Change by 2030 100 Million Could Die As a Result of Climate Change by 2030

Articles and papers from authors

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 October 11, 2012  
Natural Resources: Heading To The Bottom
by Peter Goodchild ,
In terms of actual practice, the world will never experience severe depletion of most metals. The reason is that we will face a serious and permanent loss of oil and other fossil fuels before we have much chance to finish exploiting those other resources. With insufficient fuels in the next few decades, the mines will have to close, and they will stay closed forever. Global production of steel, for example, requires 420 million tonnes of coke (from coal) annually, as well as other fossil fuels adding up to an equivalent of another 100 million tonnes (Smil, 2009, September 17).

A good deal of debate has gone on about "peak oil," the date at which the world's annual oil production will reach (or did reach) its maximum and will begin (or did begin) to decline. One reasonable description of past and future global oil production is Campbell and Laherrère's 1998 Scientific American article, "The End of Cheap Oil," which serves as a sort of locus classicus. Their main chart seems to indicate an annual rate of increase of about 4 percent from the year 1930 to 2000, and an annual rate of post-peak decline of slightly over 3 percent, which would mean that around 2030 oil production will be down to about half of the peak amount (Campbell & Laherrère, 1998, March). Most other major studies place the date of "peak oil" somewhere between 2001 and 2020, and within that period a middle date seems most likely. "Peak oil" may also be indicated by the fact that the price of oil tripled from 2002 to 2012.

After the "peak" itself, the next question is that of the annual rate of decline. Like that of Campbell and Laherrère, other estimates tend to hover around 3 or 4 percent, which means production will fall to half of peak production by about 2030, although there are reasons to suspect the decline will be much faster, particularly if Saudi reserves are seriously overstated, as Matt Simmons (2006) has suggested.

The future of coal will somewhat resemble that of oil. The energy content of US coal has been going down since at least 1950, because the hard coal (anthracite and bituminous coal) is becoming depleted and must be replaced by sub-bituminous coal and lignite. Anthracite production in the US has been in decline since 1990. For those reasons, the actual energy output of all US coal has been flat since that same date. New technologies and mining methods cannot compete against the problems of lower-quality ore and more-difficult seams.

Actual production in the US might reach a plateau of 1400 Mt annually and stay there for the rest of the century. That will happen, however, only if there is massive development of the reserves in Montana, and if serious problems of transportation and the environment can be dealt with. Otherwise, US production will peak around 2030 (Höök & Aleklett, 2009, May 1).

The US has almost 30 percent of the world's coal reserves, while China has only the third-largest reserves, totaling 14 percent, but China accounts for 43 percent of the world's production (Höök, Zittel, Schindler, & Aleklett, 2010, June 8). With its enormous growth in consumption, however, it is unlikely that China's coal supply will last until 2030 (Heinberg, 2009; 2010, May).

Worldwide, coal production is estimated to peak around 2020, to judge from historical production and proved reserves. Estimations based on a logistic (Hubbert) curve give almost the same result. Even if we assume, with great optimism, that ultimate reserves will be double the present proved reserves, such amounts would only delay the peak by a few years; even then, if extraction rates increase accordingly, the duration of the reserves will remain about the same (Höök, Zittel, Schindler, & Aleklett, 2010, June 8).

Other types of fossil fuels hardly deserve mentioning. The alleged abundance of natural gas, for example, including that derived from shale, is a myth perpetuated by an industry determined to gull investors (Orlov, 2012, May 8).

The future of metals will be somewhat better than that of fossil fuels. Global depletion of metals is somewhat difficult to determine, partly because recycling complicates the issues, partly because trade goes on in all directions, and partly because one material can sometimes be replaced by another. Nevertheless, the Earth probably does not have enough exploitable copper, zinc, and platinum, for example, even with improved recycling and better technology, for the world's "developing countries" to use as much per capita as the US (Gordon, Bertram, & Graedel, 2006, January 31).

Within the US, however, most types of metals are actually past their peak dates of production. These include bauxite (peaking in 1943), copper (1998), iron ore (1951), magnesium (1966), rare earth metals (1984), tin (1945), titanium (1964), and zinc (1969) (USGS, 2005). The depletion of all metals in the US continues in spite of recycling. Without the fossil fuels to import metals from other countries, US industry would have slowed down long ago, not that it is much to speak of nowadays.

The world's iron ore may seem infinitely abundant, but it is not. In the past it was ores such as natural hematite (Fe2O3) that were being mined. For thousands of years, also, tools were produced by smelting bog iron, mainly goethite, FeO(OH), in clay cylinders only a meter or so in height. Modern mining must rely more heavily on taconite, a flint-like ore containing less than 30 percent magnetite and hematite (Gever et al, 1991). Iron ore of the sort that can be processed with primitive equipment is becoming scarce, in other words, and only the less-tractable forms such as taconite will be available when the oil-powered machinery has disappeared. With the types of iron ore used in the past, it would have been possible to reproduce at least the medieval level of blacksmithing in future ages, but with taconite it will not.

The problem of the loss of these resources will, of course, be received in the same manner as most other large-scale disasters: widespread denial, followed by a rather catatonic apathy. The centuries will pass, and a day will come when, like the early Anglo-Saxons, people will look around at the scattered stones and regard them as "the work of giants."


Campbell, C. J. & Laherrère, J. H. (1998, March). The end of cheap oil. Scientific American.

Gever, J., Kaufmann, R., & Skole, D. (1991). Beyond oil: The threat to food and fuel in the coming decades. 3rd ed. Ed. C. Vorosmarty. Boulder, Colorado: University Press of Colorado.

Gordon, R. B., Bertram, M., & Graedel, T. E. (2006, January 31). Metal stocks and sustainability. Retrieved from

Heinberg, R. (2009). Blackout. Gabriola Island, British Columbia: New Society.

------. (2010, May). China's coal bubble . . . and how it will deflate U.S. efforts to develop ?clean coal.? MuseLetter #216. Retrieved from

Höök, M., & Aleklett, K. (2009, May 1). Historical trends in American coal production and a possible future outlook. International Journal of Coal Geology. Retrieved from

Orlov. D. (2012, May 8 ). Shale gas: the view from Russia. Club Orlov.. Retrieved from:

Simmons, M. R. (2006). Twilight in the desert: The coming Saudi oil shock and the world economy. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Smil, V. (2009, September 17). The iron age & coal-based coke: A neglected case of fossil-fuel dependence. Master Resource. Retrieved from

------, Zittel, W., Schindler, J., & Aleklett, K. (2010, June 8). Global coal production outlooks based on a logistic model. Retrieved from: /Publications/Coal_Fuel.pdf

USGS. (2005). Historical statistics for mineral and material commodities in the United States. Data Series 140. Retrieved from

Peter Goodchild is the author of Survival Skills of the North American Indians, published by Chicago Review Press. His email address is prjgoodchild[at]
  Read Natural Resources: Heading To The Bottom
 October 10, 2012  
Land Use, Climate Change Adaptation And Indigenous Peoples
by Kirsty Galloway McLean , Our World 2.0,


For indigenous peoples, resilience is rooted in traditional knowledge, as their capacity to adapt to environmental change is based first and foremost on in-depth understanding of the land. As climate change increasingly impacts indigenous landscapes, communities are responding and adapting in unique ways.

In a recent statement to the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) stated:

“…[W]e reiterate the need for recognition of our traditional knowledge, which we have sustainably used and practiced for generations; and the need to integrate such knowledge in global, national and sub-national efforts. This knowledge is our vital contribution to climate change adaptation and mitigation.”

Local resilience depends on local knowledge

The connection to their land is an important source of resilience for indigenous communities, but this resilience depends on an ability to nurture and manage this relationship. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Executive Director of Tebtebba (Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education), points out that indigenous knowledge is “…locally fine-tuned, which is essential for climate change adaptation and long-term community resilience”.

Speaking at a recent conference in Mexico, her colleague Willy Alangui presented their joint paper outlining the results of three case studies on traditional forest management, as practised by the indigenous peoples of Loita Maasai (Kenya), Miskitu (Nicaragua) and Dayak Jalai (Indonesia). For the indigenous peoples in each of these case study areas, the forest is not only a source of sustenance and livelihoods, but also the very basis of their identities, cultures, knowledge systems and social organizations.

These community-based forest management strategies involve setting aside conservation areas, woodcutting and watershed management zones, which have an important role to play in reversing the process of deforestation, thereby sequestering carbon and promoting rural development.

The multiple land-use systems that underpin these forest management strategies are both a livelihood scheme and a source of resilience.

The Miskito of Nicaragua maintain three land-use types: cultivated fields, pastures and forest areas; in Indonesian Borneo, a typical Dayak Jalai village territory creates a shifting mosaic land-use pattern including patches of natural forest, managed forests, rotating swidden/fallow, and permanent fields.

The multiple land-use systems that underpin these forest management strategies are both a livelihood scheme and a source of resilience. But a common problem in each of these communities is a lack of political control over their land and forests. For the Loita Maasai, forest resources are held in trust by the Marok County Council on behalf of the Kenyan government. For the Miskitu, access to and use and control of natural resources are impacted by government norms and regulations and external settlers are causing deforestation. The Dayak Jalai are faced with government-promoted expansion of palm plantations and the continued operations of mining companies.

“Undermining local control over these land resources increases the vulnerability of these communities,” say Tauli-Corpuz and Alangui. “Security of land tenure and the resulting ability to access, manage and extract natural resources is a pre-condition for maintaining the resilience of local communities.”


Nyngatom agro-pastoralists: Fragile livelihoods under threat

Sabine Troeger heads the Climate Change Partnership Program at the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network. Her experience with the Nyngatom, a small agro-pastoral group in south-west Ethiopia, suggests that their livelihood systems — although previously well adapted to their fragile environment — are suffering from a potentially fatal interplay between various adverse forces including climate change, which is challenging their entire social system.

Troeger notes that the “finely-honed symbiotic relationship between local ecology, domesticated livestock and the Nyangatom people” has been disrupted. The Nyangatom report that their livelihoods are highly impacted by climate change and changing environmental patterns, namely failing belg rains (Ethiopia’s short and moderate rains from February to May) and increasing temperatures. People perceive this change as irreversible, naming such environmental indicators as disappearing plants and animals, and discuss having to modify their seasonal calendar.

The social capital necessary for community resilience (captured in rules and regulations, ‘ceremonies’ of sharing and reciprocal support) is threatened as elements of social cohesion and identity fade away.

Examples of this degradation include formerly cattle-rich pastoralists becoming poor, women becoming more dependent on their husbands, leather skirts — attributes of clan affiliation and family status — being replaced by cotton, and seasonal ceremonies falling out of sync as a result of changes in the timing of natural indicators.

In adapting to the changes that face them, “…the Nyangatom will not be what they were before,” says Troeger. “They will have to accept the challenge of societal transformation…”

This, she explains, will require new institutional settings and the accordant shifts in societal hierarchies and power.

“Rangeland management as well as schooling of the children will make the pastoralists sedentary… Is there any hope for adaptation and a way forward towards enhanced livelihood security?” Troeger asks. Only through a reshaping of society and the adoption of a still-to-be-defined institutional framework, she concludes.

‘People of the Whales’: A story of hope in the face of loss

Chie Sakakibara is a cultural geographer at the University of Oklahoma (Native American Studies Program). Her current research looks at how vulnerable populations confront the environmental uncertainty of global warming through cultural practices. Her work focuses on traditional relationships with the bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) in the Alaskan Arctic, particularly among the indigenous Iñupiaq people who call themselves the ‘People of the Whales’.

The Arctic is experiencing some of the Earth’s most rapid and severe climate change, threatening ties between the Iñupiat and the bowhead on many levels. Temperatures are increasing at a rate twice the global average; Arctic sea ice cover at the end of the melt season has hit record lows, and this downward trend is accelerating. Increased variability in snow and ice conditions is having a profound effect on the distribution and migration patterns of many animals including the bowhead whale.

...contemporary storytelling among the Iñupiat both reveals and helps them cope with an unpredictable future and serves as a way to maintain a connection to a disappearing land.
— Chie Sakakibara

Sakakibara talks about how deep the impact of climate change is on Iñupiat society. The difficulties range from lowered whale populations and the consequent increasing reliance on technology, to the need to travel further to maintain a connection to the whales. They also include the loss of Qalgi, sacred ceremonial places that spiritually and physically connect the people to the sea.

However, she also notes the resilience of indigenous peoples to adapt to their changing homeland.

“During my fieldwork, I realized that contemporary storytelling among the Iñupiat both reveals and helps them cope with an unpredictable future and serves as a way to maintain a connection to a disappearing land,” says Sakakibara. “In order to survive, the Iñupiat have newly endowed their culture with the power to sustain their bond with the whales. This is a story of hope.”


Reindeer herder ‘indigenuity’

On the other side of the Arctic, reindeer herding — a millennia-old tradition of more than 20 different indigenous peoples across the circumpolar North — is also being challenged by climate change. Changing weather and shorter winters are altering reindeer and caribou migration and feeding patterns, while shrubs are moving northward into the barren tundra areas, making access to food a challenge for the animals.

Petr Kaurgin, a Chukchi reindeer herder from the remote Turvaurgin nomadic tribal community in north-eastern Siberia who works with the Snowchange Cooperative, speaks of the impacts of climate change on his community.

“River ice is breaking up earlier and the birds are flying up north about one and half weeks earlier. Earlier, we used to migrate and reach the coast by mid-July. Now, we are missing the coast by 150km,” says Kaurgin.

Some communities are working to address the changing climate by combining their indigenous knowledge with other information sources to try and predict weather events in order to direct their herds to alternate pastures — for example, by collaborating with NASA and using satellite research systems to complement their own observations.

Mikhail Pogodaev, Chair of the Association of World Reindeer Herders, and Nancy Maynard, senior research scientist from NASA, have called this combination of indigenous knowledge and ingenuity, ‘indigenuity’, and notes that the success of such collaborations relies on co-producing knowledge, equal partnerships and including indigenous peoples in the process from the beginning.


Traditional fire management creates opportunities

In the top northeastern tip of Australia, the Western Arnhem Land Fire Abatement (WALFA) Project uses the traditional fire management practices of the aboriginal traditional land owners in conjunction with modern scientific knowledge to reduce the extent and severity of wildfires in fire-prone tropical savannah. This achieves substantial reduction in annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through increasing strategic early dry season fire management, which decreases destructive late dry season wildfires that produce more potent GHGs such as methane and nitrous oxide.

Other benefits realised by these skilled indigenous fire managers working on the project include protecting culture and biodiversity ‘on country’ (on their tribal land), and bringing in social and economic benefits to their communities.

Jeremy Russell-Smith, a consultant ecologist to Bushfires NT and the North Australian Indigenous Land & Sea Management Alliance, is one of the project’s leaders. He also emphasizes that the success of the project has resulted from the full engagement and collaboration of all partners.

“If you look at the Western Arnhem Land project, you’d have to say it has been successful in so many ways… Largely because right from the outset it had the full authority of the cultural governance sort of arrangement,” he says. “The senior traditional owners were very supportive of the need to get together and develop a program that would be inclusive and representative of their cultural needs, but knowing that it had to become sustainable in the longer term.”


Local experiences spark new ideas

Across the Pacific Ocean is a research team led by Dr. Bibiana Bilbao of the University Simón Bolivar in Venezuela, which has been investigating the traditional uses of fire by the Pemón people within Canaima National Park, a savannah-forest mosaic landscape.

The research team has found that the Pemón use fire to manage their environment in a diverse and complex way, including the use of fire for shifting agriculture, hunting in forested areas and the cooperative burning of savannahs to prevent biomass accumulation, and reduce the potential for large catastrophic wildfires. The team has identified the valuable lessons emerging from both the north Australian and southern African experiences to identify future pathways for Latin America.

“It’s impressive how the traditional mechanisms of fire management are identical between Australian aborigines and the Amerindios even though we are so far apart and in two different continents,” says Bilbao.


In light of the large contribution that savannah-burning makes to global emissions (approximately 60% of all carbon emissions from global biomass burning), and the potential for other countries and communities to benefit from the successes of projects like WALFA, the UNU’s Traditional Knowledge Initiative is currently working to bring together a number of parties across the globe to develop carbon offset programmes that will assist them to mitigate climate change and transition to low-carbon growth pathways. Interested parties may contact the TKI directly for further information.

The way forward

As these stories and the accompanying videos illustrate, for indigenous communities around the world, dealing with impacts from climate change is not a prospect for future deliberation. Already, seasonal rains arrive late or fail completely, leading mobile pastoralists to sedentary lives; sea ice platforms break up earlier each year and sacred sites are lost; and familiar homelands and natural phenomena are disrupted. Traditional knowledge and livelihoods must adapt to these changes.

But as they have always done, indigenous and local communities make careful observations about their lands, exchange information and experiences, and plan for the future. New ideas spring up, based on centuries-old knowledge, and partnerships between indigenous peoples and scientists are producing new knowledge to address the challenges of climate change.

In the face of increasing climate instability, recognition of indigenous rights and respectful two-way collaboration is the path forward to build better early warning systems and support local efforts towards building resilience.

Please join in and share your thoughts in the comments area.

Discussion questions

• What have been your experiences with local communities adapting to climate change?

• Do you know any examples of respectful two-way collaboration between indigenous communities and scientific research teams?

♦ ♦

Further reading

Weathering Uncertainty: Traditional Knowledge for Climate Change Assessment and Adaptation (2012)

Indigenous Peoples, Marginalized Populations and Climate Change: Vulnerability, Adaptation and Traditional Knowledge (2011)

Climate Change Mitigation with Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples: Practices, Lessons Learned and Prospects (2012)

Kirsty Galloway McLean, an Australian national, is currently working for UNU-IAS on the Traditional Knowledge Initiative, heading research on traditional knowledge and climate change, overseeing various communications activities (including as lead editor of the TK Bulletin). Contact Kirsty Galloway McLean at G_mcLean[at]

  Read Land Use, Climate Change Adaptation And Indigenous Peoples
 October 3, 2012  
Sea level projections to AD2500 with a new generation of climate change scenarios
by S. Jevrejevaa,J.C. Mooreb, A. Grinstede, Global and Planetary Change
Sea level rise over the coming centuries is perhaps the most damaging side of rising temperature (Anthoff et al., 2009). The economic costs and social consequences of coastal flooding and forced migration will probably be one of the dominant impacts of global warming (Sugiyama et al., 2008). To date, however, few studies (Nicholls et al., 2008; Anthoff et al., 2009) on infrastructure and socio-economic planning include provision for multi-century and multi-metre rises in mean sea level. Here we use a physically plausible sea level model constrained by observations, and forced with four new Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) radiative forcing scenarios (Moss et al., 2010) to project median sea level rises of 0.57 for the lowest forcing and 1.10 m for the highest forcing by 2100 which rise to 1.84 and 5.49 m respectively by 2500. Sea level will continue to rise for several centuries even after stabilisation of radiative forcing with most of the rise after 2100 due to the long response time of sea level. The rate of sea level rise would be positive for centuries, requiring 200�400 years to drop to the 1.8 mm/yr 20th century average, except for the RCP3PD which would rely on geoengineering.
  Read  Sea level projections to AD2500 with a new generation of climate change scenarios
 October 2, 2012  
Wind could meet many times world's total power demand by 2030
by Andrew Myers , Wind Daily
In 2030, if all energy is converted to clean energy, humans will consume about eleven-and-a-half terawatts of power every year, all sources combined. If there is to be a clean-energy economy based on renewable energy, wind power will no doubt have to help meet much of that demand.

In a new study, researchers at Stanford University's School of Engineering and the University of Delaware developed the most sophisticated weather model available to show that not only is there plenty of wind over land and near to shore to provide half the world's power, but there is enough to exceed total demand by several times if need be, even after accounting for reductions in wind speed caused by turbines.

The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford and Cristina Archer, an associate professor of geography and physical ocean science and engineering at the University of Delaware.

High resolution models
In their study, Jacobson and Archer adapted the three-dimensional, atmosphere-ocean-land computer model known as GATOR-GCMOM to calculate the theoretical maximum wind power potential on the planet taking into account wind reduction by turbines. Their model assumed wind turbines could be installed anywhere and everywhere, without regard to societal, environmental, climatic, or economic considerations.

The new paper contradicts two earlier studies that said wind potential falls far short of the aggressive goal because each turbine steals too much wind energy from other turbines, and that turbines introduce harmful climate consequences that would negate some of the positive aspects of renewable wind energy.

The new model provides a more sophisticated look than previously possible by separating winds in the atmosphere into hypothetical boxes stacked atop and beside one another. Each box has its own wind speed and weather. In their model, Jacobson and Archer exposed individual turbines to winds from several boxes at once, a degree of resolution earlier global models did not match.

"Modeling the climate consequences of wind turbines is complex science," said Jacobson. "This software allows that level of detail for the first time."

With a single model, the researchers were able to calculate the exposure of each wind turbine in the model to winds that vary in space and time. Additionally, the model extracts the correct amount of energy from the wind that gets claimed by the turbines, reducing the wind speed accordingly while conserving energy. It then calculates the effect of these wind speed changes on global temperatures, moisture, clouds and climate.

Potential aplenty
Among the most promising things the researchers learned is that there is a lot of potential in the wind - hundreds of terawatts. At some point, however, the return on building new turbines plateaus, reaching a level in which no additional energy can be extracted even with the installation of more turbines.

"Each turbine reduces the amount of energy available for others," Archer said. The reduction, however, becomes significant only when large numbers of turbines are installed, many more than would ever be needed.

"And that's the point that was very important for us to find," Archer said.

The researchers have dubbed this point the saturation wind power potential. The saturation potential, they say, is more than 250 terawatts if we could place an army of 100-meter-tall wind turbines across the entire land and water of planet Earth. Alternatively, if we place them only on land (minus Antarctica) and along the coastal ocean there is still some 80 terawatts available - about seven times the total power demand of all civilization. Hypothetical turbines operating in the jet streams six miles up in the atmosphere could extract as much as an additional 380 terawatts.

"We're not saying, 'Put turbines everywhere,' but we have shown that there is no fundamental barrier to obtaining half or even several times the world's all-purpose power from wind by 2030. The potential is there, if we can build enough turbines," said Jacobson.

How many?
Knowing that the potential exists, the researchers turned their attention to how many turbines would be needed to meet half the world's power demand - about 5.75 terawatts - in a 2030 clean-energy economy. To get there, they explored various scenarios of what they call the fixed wind power potential - the maximum power that can be extracted using a specific number of wind turbines.

Archer and Jacobson showed that four million, five-megawatt turbines operating at a height of 100 meters could supply as much 7.5 terawatts of power - well more than half the world's all-purpose power demand - without significant negative affect on the climate.

"We have a long way to go. Today, we have installed a little over one percent of the wind power needed," said Jacobson.

In terms of surface area, Jacobson and Archer would site half the four million turbines over water. The remaining two million would require a little more than one-half of one percent of the Earth's land surface - about half the area of the State of Alaska. However, virtually none of this area would be used solely for wind, but could serve dual purposes as open space, farmland, ranchland, or wildlife preserve.

Rather than put all the turbines in a single location, Archer and Jacobson say it is best and most efficient to spread out wind farms in high-wind sites across the globe - the Gobi Desert, the American plains and the Sahara for example.

"The careful siting of wind farms will minimize costs and the overall impacts of a global wind infrastructure on the environment," said Jacobson. "But, as these results suggest, the saturation of wind power availability will not limit a clean-energy economy."

Andrew Myers is associate director of communications for the Stanford University School of Engineering.

  Read  Wind could meet many times world's total power demand by 2030
 September 24, 2012  
Degrowth And Peak Oil
by Ugo Bardi, Cassandra's Legacy,

This is a condensed version of the talk that I gave at the 3rd international conference on degrowth, in Venice, on Sep 21 2012

Hello, everybody; I think you came to listen to me today because you want to know something about the situation with crude oil, that is of "peak oil". So, what I can tell you is that the peak has arrived and we are now in the post peak world. It is an event that is taking place slowly, over several years, but I think we can say with reasonable certainty that the petroleum production peak was in 2008.

To prove what I am telling you I could show you data and graphs, but I think that the best way for you to realize that the peak is past us is to think about how much people are discussing about oil substitutes. You know, all those things that produce flammable liquids that we can use to fuel our cars: biofuels, tar sands, shale oil, you surely heard about all that. And you surely heard about the idea of a "new age of oil," that some say it is coming and that is supposed to be a good thing. But this "new age" is based on dirty resources which have been known for decades (at least) and I am sure you understand that they are expensive, if nothing else by looking at gas prices. Today, we are forced to use these resources exactly because we passed the production peak of conventional crude oil. In this way, we have been able to mask the peak, for the time being, avoiding an obvious decline of production of liquid fuels. In a sense, we acted as those people who try to mask their age by dying their hair. They may succeed in looking younger, but only for a while.

The problem, however, is not so much for how long we'll be able to keep the production of liquids stable; it is that the resources we are using for this purpose have a low energy yield and do tremendous damage to a lot of things. We are destroying enormous areas, poisoning the water aquifers, and forcing agriculture away from food production. More than that, we are increasing the amount of greenhouse gases generated for the same amount of energy produced. Emissions keep increasing and climate change accelerates, as you could see from what happened to the North Pole this year.

So, in a sense, peak oil has been a big disappointment. It was perhaps the first modern appearance of the concept of "degrowth", when it started being discussed some 10 years ago. We expected that the post peak age would have stimulated the development of clean resources and some of us (myself included) thought that it would have saved us from global warming, or at least greatly reduced its importance. But, that has not been the case, unfortunately.

Today, we are discussing another kind of degrowth, intended mostly as a personal choice and most of us seem to believe that it is a good thing. It is an attitude that looks similar to the one we had about peak oil 10 years ago. But is it possible that we are making the same mistake? That is, could we be too optimistic about what degrowth can bring to us?

Let me ask you a question: what problems exactly do you think that degrowth can solve? Maybe you think that degrowing you'll be happier and this may well be. But can degrowth solve the climate problem? Can it reduce pollution and the stress on the ecosystem? Surely, if everyone decided to reduce their consumption, the impact of human beings on the planet would be reduced. But if just some of us decide for degrowth, wouldn't the resources that we don't consume be consumed by someone else? Then, the human impact wouldn't change.

Besides, even if voluntary degrowth were to have a significant effect, would that be enough? Climate change could be irreversible by now, in the sense that we may have unleashed mechanisms that will cause the Earth to keep heating up independently of what we do. Reducing emission or even stopping burning fossil fuels altogether wouldn't stop warming. If this is the case, degrowth alone would not be a solution, just as peak oil wasn't one. Will we need geoengineering to save ourselves? Perhaps, but is geoengineering compatible with degrowth? If our economy shrinks a lot, where would we find the resources needed for geoengineering?

I am not asking you rhetorical questions: I don't know the answers myself. What I know is that we are facing incredibly complex problems. We don't know what kind of solutions might exist for global warming and for ecosystems collapse. We don't even if solutions exist at all. But I think we can say, at least, that it has been growth at all costs that has led us to the quandary in which we are now. Stopping growth surely can't harm us as much!

Ugo Bardi is a professor of Chemistry at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Firenze, Italy. He also has a more general interest in energy question and is the founder and president of ASPO Italia.

  Read  Degrowth And Peak Oil
 September 24, 2012  
Why Capitalism, Not Population Is Our Greatest Environmental Threat
by Devon G. Pe�a, AlterNet

I have long detested�the work of Paul and Anne Ehrlich. I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas in Austin when I was first introduced to the Ehrlichs� infamous book,� The Population Bomb , which was first published in 1968 and reprinted countless times before being �updated� and reissued in 2009 as� The Population Bomb Revisited . It always struck me that the topic became a mini-industry and the authors made a pretty profit from pandering to the crowd that invests so much in the sentiment: �Oh my! There are way too many little brown people on the planet. What are we to do?�

The� Bomb�was required reading in a demography and population class I took as a sophomore in 1974. There are passages in this book that made me cringe then and continue to remind me that much of what is written by the privileged Stanford scientists displays a complete lack of understanding of colonial history, capitalism, patriarchal domination, and the political ecology of environmental degradation. It seems to me that the Ehrlichs do not much like humanity, or at least not brown people. In one of the more oft-cited passages they display a discernible contempt for humanity that is probably derived from an inability to situate events in historical and political context and to respect or at least perceive cultural differences for what they are, i.e., examples of human variability to adaptation:

The streets seemed alive with people. People eating, people washing, people sleeping. People visiting, arguing, screaming. People thrusting their hands through the taxi window, begging. People defecating and urinating. People clinging to buses. People herding animals. People, people, people, people�As we moved slowly through the mob, the dust, noise, heat and cooking fires gave the scene a hellish aspect. Would we ever get to our hotel�? Since that night I have known the feel of overpopulation.

Excuse me? What else would people do if not eat, wash, sleep, visit, argue, and scream? I suspect they were also singing, dancing, praying, whistling, smiling, hugging and kissing, helping one other, and so on; but none of that makes it into this description of the hellish street scene in Delhi. This is what people do as they go about the business of living. It always struck me that the Ehrlichs must have come from or lived in a mostly white suburb devoid of street life. Turns out this was precisely the case. To such persons the rousing daily street life of India or Mexico might just seem more than a tat overpowering, crowded, and noisy. But that is a problem born of the authors��subjective biases rather than the result of the scientists� objective�insights.�Putting aside the inanity of this style of writing and obvious grammatical and rhetorical smugness, Erhlichs�� Population Bomb �was a total bomb. It may have sold enough copies to make the authors wealthy but from a strictly social scientific standpoint, the predictions they made were wildly off the mark. Hunger� has increased , and recent estimates we have reported on peg the number of hungry people on the planet at close to 1 billion. But this is not the result of the operation of some simple Malthusian equation in which population outpaces food production. Famines, where and when they have occurred, have basically been a result of the uses of food as political weaponry and the operation of wild speculation in the derivatives markets [e.g., see the blog entry of� October 7, 2011 ].�Despite the fact that we are producing more food than ever before, hunger and malnutrition are still growing. This is a function of a complicated set of forces that pivot around the persistence of structural violence. Hunger exists because colonialism and capitalism, including the long-heralded Green Revolution, undermined largely self-reliant and sustainable local food systems across the planet, replacing these with export-oriented cash and luxury crops destined for consumption by people in the late imperial centers of the so-called developed world.�The fact that we dedicate so much of our grain production to animal feed or biofuels is another factor that is contributing to a hungry planet. Cutting back on the consumption of grain-fed beef and pork would go a long way toward resolving the problem of hunger but nothing would work better than a return to indigenous agroecosystems and heritage cuisines.�� We need to eat simply so that others may simply eat.
Malthus, Again? �The�Global Population Speak Out �(GPSO) is a campaign led by scientists who hail principally from the U.S. and other Western nations who seek to place the population issue at the center of policy discussions related to the multiple threats to the Earth�s ecosystems and indeed the future survival of life on the planet.�
They are not entirely correct in pointing out that: �Media coverage of the problem is sorely lacking.� Coverage of global climate change, the ozone hole, massive extinctions and threats to biodiversity appear to be a major source of headlines in all media all the time. It has even reached an over-saturation point that turns many of our potential allies off, especially since the ecological doomsayers too often resort to unproven or even embarrassing hyperbolic claims that allow misinformed skeptics to continue challenging the basic scientific truths about climate change, biodiversity extinctions, and the collapse of more resilient human-ecological couplings.In 2008, I received an email from the GPSO inviting other �authoritative� scientific voices to join their call. This campaign is highly problematic and is basically a rehashing of the same arguments that the neo-Malthusians like the Ehrlichs have been making since the 1960s. First, a summary of key aspects of the GPSO campaign. The authors of the letter are correct to argue that our global ecological plight continues to worsen. The letter cites a recent World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Living Planet Report suggesting that in �a moderate business-as-usual scenario�exhaustion of ecological assets and large-scale ecosystem collapse become increasingly likely.���I especially take exception to the next part of their argument: �Particularly underreported is the fundamental link between the size and growth of the human population and environmental degradation. It is no comfort that the rate of global population growth has slowed in recent years...� The GPSO website and project emphasizes the idea that the greatest threat to our planet is overpopulation. I disagree and insist that the greatest threat to our planet is capitalism and more specifically the globalization of capitalism as the singular economic model embraced by all nations including India and China. Why am I reframing the threat as capitalism instead of overpopulation? I have many reasons but present five here to provoke further reflection and discussion.�(1) History of Overpopulation Discourse.�I wish to start with a brief history of the overpopulation discourse and present an interesting historical example to illustrate the problematic nature of the reductionist claims made by GPSO. The overpopulation thesis was really first put on the discursive map by Thomas Malthus, an English philosopher, mathematician, and heir of a prosperous family from Surrey. He published the first edition of �An Essay on the Principle of Population� in 1798.��What became the Malthusian thesis is simple if inelegant: While population growth expands geometrically, our food supply expands arithmetically. Thus, population growth overtakes the growth of our food supply resulting in mass famine and starvation. A corollary of his argument was that the growth of population was also the principal cause of poverty. Paul and Anne Ehrlich in� The Population Bomb �were proponents of this view.�The Ehrlichs� basic argument was that the principal cause of environmental degradation is overpopulation. It appears that this argument is still embraced by the majority of Western natural scientists as is evident not just from a review of the signature list endorsing the GPSO letter but from any review of the scientific literature on population and the environment. Indeed, at the University of Washington our own celebrated Program on the Environment (PoE) often includes syllabi and lectures that uncritically emphasize the orthodoxy of overpopulation as the key factor underlying ecological degradation and the crises of species extinctions and climate change.

The vital issue of consumption the Ehrlichs ignored in the 1968 book is indeed taken up in the GPSO letter, which acknowledges that consumption is also part of the problem. The inclusion of the issue of consumption may have largely been a result of decades of solid criticism by anthropologists and Marxist scholars studying consumption.��It is becoming clear that the �population� problem is largely a �consumption� problem.�One of the most significant events in this recasting was the realization in the early 1980s that the average American consumed as many natural resources as 1000 average inhabitants of India. It was also realized that the average American produced as much waste (including the all important carbon footprint) as 2500 Indians! Americans were consuming much more and they were also producing more waste. Of course, today the situation is a bit different with the growth of industrial capitalism in India and China and yet, even today, the ratios are still approximately 1:300 (US compared to India) and 1:500 compared to China.

(2) Learning from the Past: Lessons of Tenochtitlan.�I want to turn to history for another important nuance in the population versus consumption problematic. I have often lectured on the state of the environment in 1519-21 by comparing London, Madrid, and the Colhua Mexica (a.k.a. Aztec) twin-city capital of Tenochtitlan-Tlatelolco. What does this comparison reveal?���In 1519, London and Madrid (two of the largest population centers in Europe at the time), had a population of around 90,000 people. The populations there were just recovering from the effects of the �Black Plague.� The Mexica island twin-cities, and the surrounding landside settlements around Lakes Texcoco-Xochimilco-Chalco had over one million inhabitants.��The forests around London and Madrid had been cut clear in areas as far as 100 km from the city centers. The forests surrounding the Mexica capital were intact; indeed, they were protected areas because of their role as sources of the water supply for the island twin-cities.�London and Madrid had raw sewage spewing death and infection from freely flowing and untreated fecal material in the streets and alleyways. This was a persistent health hazard and would remain so for some time since sanitary systems would not be developed for another 150 years in the case of London and 200+ years in the case of Madrid. The Roman Empire innovations in public sanitation � which were largely borrowed from Arabic civilizations � had been sadly forgotten.
Second, capitalism undermines the autonomy and self-reliance of numerous communities and this often includes the imposition of a patriarchal divisions of labor in which men produce and women reproduce; the removal of women from the sphere of production meant in part that they were no longer able to effectively limit their fertility.�In contrast, the Mexica had the world�s most efficient and effective sewage recycling system comprised of public bathrooms and several thousand canoes that collected human waste and recycled it as a fertilizer for the famous floating gardens ( xinampas) of Lakes Chalco and Xochimilco. In this manner, water quality was protected and water-borne illnesses were rare.

In 1519, the average resident of London and Madrid lived to the ripe old age of about 34. The average Tenocha in the Mexica capital city lived to the age of 43. So, the Mexica were healthier compared to the Europeans as judged by longevity and morbidity. The average residents of London and Madrid had severely restricted diets comprised primarily of a few grains (rye, barley, and sometimes wheat). The average Tenocha consumed protein rich grains like Amaranth and also enjoyed the corn-bean-squash sacred trinity and access to fish, deer, other mammals, and numerous reptiles, insects, and wild edible and medicinal plants. Indeed, the Mexica ethnopharmacopia included more than 1000 medicinal plants at the time of the Spanish conquest.

While the Mexica urban area had 10 times the population of London and Madrid, the environment was intact, prospering under careful management, and the citizens were also healthier and leading longer lives. Biodiversity was intact in Mexica bioregion while it was devastated in the European capitals. This evidence suggests that there is no simple population = environmental degradation correlation.� It is not the number of people but what and how they are consuming and how they go about inhabiting a place that are more important.

(3) Capitalism and Environmental Change.�A third reason for finding the GPSO letter problematic is that it completely ignores capitalism as the source of environmental degradation. Several points need to be made here: First, capitalism requires an unlimited supply of �cheap� labor and this means that policies favoring high birth rates were (and still are) the norm wherever the capitalist system has taken root.��Third is the problem of the �second contradiction� of capitalism: To exist, capitalism cannot accept limits to growth; capital must constantly expand its production and hence consumption; it must break down barriers to expand markets and access to natural resources for raw materials and exploitable sources of labor. Since capitalism is inherently expansionist it eventually and inevitably must degrade the environment. This is the� second contradiction : Because of its expansionist quality, capitalism inevitably destroys the natural conditions of production (land, water, other resources, and labor).�

Now, most scientists and environmentalists have argued that this is the case with capitalism but also with all other forms of industrial economic organization including socialism and communism. The problem is not capitalism as such but industrialism (deep ecologists are principal proponents of this view). This is a flawed argument since industrialism predates capitalism and yet plenty of cases exist where industrial organization did not bankrupt or degrade nature on a massive scale.��Also, we are yet to see a country or society organize the economy on the basis of socialism or communism (understood essentially as the abolition of waged-labor, the reduction of labor time, and the free association of independent producers). The Soviet Union and China were not socialist and even less so communist.��The USSR was a state-capitalist formation as argued by Herbert Marcuse in the book,� Soviet Marxism , an ironic title since there was very little of Marx in the organization brought forth by the Bolsheviks. We should recall that Lenin not only destroyed the �factory soviets,� the workers� factory councils that were supposed to democratically manage the factories, he also adopted the American system of �scientific management� or Taylorism to catch up and surpass the U.S. and its economic might.�In the former USSR, workers were still treated as commodities; products were still commodities (and had prices); this was a centralized command and control form of industrial capitalism in contrast to the anarchy of the free market form of Western capitalism, although even in this second case, for e.g., during the Great Depression, the state had to take control and command the planning process to save capitalism from the capitalists!��Such a form of state capitalist intervention is happening again with the $700+ billion bailout of too big to fail banks and represents the �socialization� of the risks of private investment decisions. The U.S. is in this sense �socialist� whenever crisis requires it. None of this is communism and we have never seen a communist society take root yet.��(4) The Effects of Colonialism and Imperialism.�Another issue is that prior to the rise of industrial capitalism and in many places the domination and transformation that accompanied colonialism and imperialism, most so-called third-world countries had steady-state populations. In some places this was a consequence of the high rates of mortality that balanced high fertility rates.�However, a more profound, and much less recognized, reason for the low population growth rates was that women were able to use natural methods to control their own fertility rates. Throughout pre-colonial Africa, the Americas, and Asia, women used natural herbs to prevent pregnancy or to induce abortion. With conquest, colonialism, and the intrusion of capitalism, the traditional ethnogynecological knowledge was lost and in many places forbidden. Women healers and� parteras(midwifes) were burned at the stake as �witches� all over Europe and the Americas.�
The destruction and displacement of women from the central role they played in medical care was a fundamental aspect of the transition from steady-state populations to uncontrolled growth of populations in the West as well as in Africa, Asia, and across the Americas.Everyone should read one of the most significant books ever written about this issue: Sylvia Federici�s� Caliban and the Witch . With the persecution of the witches [sic] came compulsory Christianization and with this extreme pro-natalist ideologies and policies; by pro-natalist I mean pro-birth in the sense of ecclesiastical and state policies intended to keep as many women as possible pregnant to produce fodder for the armies of workers and soldiers needed to advance the cause of Western empires and �progress.��
(5) The Return of Political Ecology and the Carrying Capacity of the Planet.�The GPSO letter fails to address the concept of carrying capacity. What is the carrying capacity of the planet? Is it 6, 10, 15, 20 billion people, or what? The answer is complicated but to initiate a conversation on this important issue we must first recognize three qualities.�First, carrying capacity� is not static ; it can increase or decrease depending on many factors including the nature of our food systems and the ability for humans to engage in ecological restoration. Indeed, one reason that current population numbers� are�so destructive has to do with the capitalist nature of our agricultural systems. Industrial monocultures, especially when compared to traditional agroecosystems, are incredibly destructive of ecosystems and biodiversity. If we have enough food right now to feed the entire planet why is hunger so rampant? In the USA, we have at least 25-30 million people going hungry every day. The problem is not overpopulation but maldistribution of food and the use of food as a �political weapon.��Second, the carrying capacity is constrained and influenced by our carbon footprints; if we make a transition to renewable alternative energy systems, and we must in a post-Peak Oil world, this will allow us to increase the size of the human population while at the same time restoring natural ecosystems. and reducing our environmental space.�Third, carrying capacity is affected by diet; too many of us in the industrialized capitalist world eat way too much meat (beef, pork, chicken, fish, etc.). This reduces the carrying capacity of the planet, increases hunger since instead of eating grains we feed the grains to livestock while millions of human beings go hungry. We need to make a transition to a diet minimally reliant on meat consumption and entire free of meat produced in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) or �factory farms.� A transition to at least partial vegetarian/vegan diets would help to eliminate world hunger and increase the carrying capacity of the Earth. Yet, not all local cultures have to go vegetarian or vegan to be sustainable.

I have other objections to the GPSO letter, which clearly fails to pass the test of historical accuracy or demonstrate the courage it takes to critically examine the capitalist nature of the environmental crisis. Capitalism is the invisible elephant inside the conservation biology and sustainable development living room. It is, in other words, the unacknowledged gorilla; the source of destruction that remains unmentionable. The invisible hand is only invisible because we refuse to acknowledge its ugliness, brutality, irrationality, and the insatiable appetites it unleashes and thrives on. In this regard, I recommend that readers and followers become familiar with the� Blue River Earth Ethic , a more radical declaration issued by a coalition of scientists, artists, and activists that integrates discussion and proposes solutions based on recognition of the problem of capitalism.�When scientists are ready to stop acting and being dumb in the sphere of political economy, then I will sign the GPSO letter. When they show some intelligence and courage regarding critical social theory; when they acknowledge that the system that feeds them with multi-billions in research grants in the making of an ultimately anti-democratic �market-steered� military-scientific-industrial iron triangle; when they acknowledge the role of greed, hyper-individualism, militarism, imperialism, racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, nationalism, ageism, and all the forms of division that capital exploits to keep us all under control and that are the extended tentacles and prostheses of capitalism, then I will sign the letter.��
I remain steadfast in my insistence that scientists should show a bit more of the same curiosity they demonstrate in the natural sciences when it comes to more critically examining and studying the economic systems that underlie the �business-as-usual� they complain about as the source of our ecological, cultural, and social devastation. For now, I remain steady in accusing them all of being naively ideological when it comes to (mis)understanding the global capitalist system that is commodifying all of life and destroying our lovely little blue planet in the process.�I urge my readers and followers to write the GPSO and help awaken well-meaning scientists from a self-deluding harmful slumber. Now is a good time � given the current crisis of capitalism � to shake them up and get them to understand that the principal problem is not population as such but the effects of capitalism on consumption and population dynamics.� Environmental justice and the population debate �For environmental justice (EJ) activists the population debate comes down to a matter of women�s empowerment and self-determination. Both ecofeminist and EJ scholars and activists long have argued that the issue of population growth is actually about reproductive rights and wrongs. Women can and do control their own reproductive life cycle when they have the power and means to do so. The keys are equitable access to education, health care, and the means of production including farmland, seed, and water. Those countries that provide women meaningful access to education and health care have lowered their birth rates while simultaneously ameliorating the poverty of deprivation.�EJ analysis of population dynamics goes further than issues posed by the struggle for reproductive justice and autonomy. If we focus again on the problem of consumptive violence we can understand that indigenous populations, including displaced peoples of the Mesoamerican Diaspora, have a lot to teach the �developed� world about sustainability and resilience. Native people consume less compared to the average hyper-individualistic, freedom of choice-driven, American [sic] glutton.�
Yet, the racist right-wingers, many of them affiliated with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), have duped a good number of well-intentioned environmentalists into believing that a �wetback invasion� is overpopulating our country. EJ activists note than immigrants actually provide a sound model for an alternative lifestyle that reduces consumption while increasing the ethic of self-reliance and promoting opportunities for people to develop a stronger and more resilient sense of community � all factors that appear to improve the health of the planet and the population.This is also true of undocumented and legal immigrants: Studies show that despite being cash poor, immigrants are healthier than many U.S.-born citizens. The so-called �Latino health paradox� is largely a result of three factors: Immigrants eat better (they avoid fast foods); are more physically active (they are not couch potatoes); and rely on social networks and cooperation to create a healthier sense of belonging and community (they enjoy the benefits of sociability and conviviality).�The EJ movement has thus aligned itself with the reproductive justice movement. Together these represent a powerful force seeking to address population growth dynamics by rejecting the coercive numerical control policies of the top-down managerial advocates and embracing a more profoundly grounded bottom-up process moving us toward the qualitative transformation of the conditions under which women and communities control their own biological and social reproduction.��

  Read Why Capitalism, Not Population Is Our Greatest Environmental Threat
 September 26, 2012  
Only a Revolution in Our Thinking Can Save Us From a Water Crisis
by Tara Lohan, AlterNet

This article was produced in partnership with

We like to flush our toilets. A lot. Our flush figure for the U.S. is at 5.7 billion gallons a day in our homes alone. It's one of the great examples of American excess -- people across the world don't have enough clean drinking water, and yet we're happy to send it down the drain.

Of course, the last laugh may be on us. As we head into the fall nearly half of U.S. states are experiencing extreme or exceptional drought . Lack of rainfall is the easy culprit, but the truth is we don't manage our water resources well enough to deal with times of shortage. Just ask Atlanta, which went nearly bone-dry in 2007 or Las Vegas, which is working on an engineering a pricy $15 billion water pipeline to supplement its dwindling stocks. We can't blame it all on our flushing frenzy though; power plants and agriculture suck up the vast majority of our water. Not to mention the fact that industry often gets a free pass to pollute, our city managers fail to account for water when green-lighting new development, and we turn the other way when asked to consider the impacts of climate change.

"America needs nothing less than a revolution in how we use water," writes water journalist and author Cynthia Barnett in her book Blue Revolution: Unmaking America's Water Crisis (Beacon Press). The book, which was just released in paperback, calls for not just a green movement but a blue one, in order to recognize the critical importance of water in our lives and how threatened freshwater reserves have become -- whether in our lakes, rivers, aquifers or reservoirs. Barnett takes a critical eye to the U.S. in how we use water, but also takes readers on a worldwide journey so we can learn from countries like the Netherlands, Singapore and Australia.

While highlighting the crises we face, the ultimate goal of the book is transformation. The "revolution in how we use water" is no understatement, but it can be accomplished. Barnett gives concrete examples to help get us there, but the change we need is massive and it begins, she says, with the need for an American water ethic, reminiscent of Aldo Leopold's famous land ethic.

In a conversation with AlterNet, Barnett explained how we can achieve a national water ethic, why it's so critical that we change our actions and our views, and what tough work we need to begin doing now.

Tara Lohan : Blue Revolution opens in Sacramento, which you describe as a green city missing the blue. What do you mean by that, in the context of both California and the nation as a whole?

Cynthia Barnett: I began reporting on Blue Revolution in the context of the green craze. As Congress and the president�s office crafted the stimulus bill in early 2009 with an eye toward sustainability, it was incredible that water wasn�t a bigger part of the conversation. Using water is one of the most energy-intensive things we do as a society � pumping water up from our aquifers, piping it around our cities, heating it, treating it. So one of the best ways to use less energy is to use less water. Ultimately, less than 1% of the stimulus went to water and wastewater. But the real shame was that almost all of that money went to old-style infrastructure rather than efficiency projects that would help us live differently with water, which is what is desperately needed.

  Read  Only a Revolution in Our Thinking Can Save Us From a Water Crisis
 September 26, 2012  
100 Million Could Die As a Result of Climate Change by 2030
by Igor Volsky, Think Progress, AlterNet

100 million people �could die as a result of climate change by 2030,� a new report from DARA, a nonprofit institute based in Spain, concludes. Climate change already contributes to �400,000 deaths on average each year,� mainly due to �hunger and communicable diseases that affect above all children in developing countries,� while �an estimated 4.5 million deaths each year [are] linked to air pollution, hazardous occupations and cancer.�

These numbers will increase substantially by the end of the next decade, with �developing countries and above all the world�s poorest groups� seeing the greatest impacts. As the graphic below demonstrates, the low-emission country group �experiences approximately 40 percent of all its economic losses, and over 80 percent of all climate change-related mortality�:

Climate-fueled extreme weather is already taking an economic toll on the United States. 220 people have died so far this year from weather-related events, and the expected cost ranges� upward of $55 billion .

Igor Volsky is a Health Care Researcher/Blogger for and The Progress Report at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Igor is co-author of Howard Dean�s Prescription for Real Healthcare. Reform.
  Read  100 Million Could Die As a Result of Climate Change by 2030
 October 5, 2012  
Abuse of Power: Criminal Assault on Humanity
by Charles Mercieca

Download full WORD document by author Abuse of Power: Criminal Assault on Humanity
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
One of the worst crimes in human experience is termed to be abuse of power. Those in power of any kind have the opportunity to elevate those around them to a higher level of existence making their lives enjoyable and peaceful, or to sink them to a state of frustration, desolation and suffering. When power is used properly and conscientiously, there seems always to be God�s blessings pouring in to the full benefit of all involved and concerned. In other words, power can lead to a lot of good or to a tremendous amount of evil.

Nature of Abuse of Power

Many ascetical writers view abuse of power as a criminal assault on humanity, which is found in every realm of our communities. Its source could be generally traced to greed and selfishness, to jealousy and irresponsibility, or to indifference and apathy. Some of the best resources we have at our disposal to combat abuse of power may be enlisted as humility, kindness, understanding, patience, generosity, and dedication to the service of others. St. Augustine viewed love as the foundation for the solution of all problems we may encounter.

In quite a number of instances we may have hard times in trying to distinguish actions that stem from genuine love and concern from those that eventually stem from egoism and selfishness. This is truly so each time we may try to evaluate political actions of any kind. As we may all know, politicians may have hidden agendas, which compel them to say one thing and do another to the disappointment and frustration of all those involved and concerned.

If we were to comprehend the four hierarchical laws of which many outstanding theologians and philosophers spoke very clearly, then we may be in a position to make accurate judgments whenever needed, especially in the political arena. The four hierarchical laws may be enlisted as follows: divine, natural, ecclesiastical and civic.

The Divine Law represents the traditionally known Ten Commandments, which God gave to Moses. The Natural Law consists of the order of nature that is meant to keep the whole set-up of creation moving forward properly and constructively. The Ecclesiastical Law is meant to serve as a good means to guard and safeguard these two laws just mentioned in addition to providing good guidelines for all of us to lead always a good and constructive life.

Civic Law in Operation

The Civic Law consists of all laws enacted by human beings supposedly to safeguard and protect their individual and collective interests. While both the Divine Law and the Natural Law were provided by God Himself, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Ecclesiastical Law has been provided by spiritually oriented individuals or groups in the hope of keeping the world going properly in order in peace and harmony. Abuse of Power is likely to be traced to some enacted Civic Law of one kind or another.

In fact, if we were to analyze every abuse of power conceivable, we may easily trace it to Civic Laws enacted that show disrespect to either the Divine Law or the Natural Law. When we are faced with objective reality, as to whether we agree or disagree it is totally irrelevant. Let us illustrate this by few examples. In the Divine Law we find such commandments as: you should not kill, you should not say lies and you should not destroy the property of others. This means we are not free to get a gun and kill anyone.

Also, a civic authority, generally known as government, is morally prohibited to send a group of individuals into other countries to destroy the infrastructure of cities, in addition to human lives! Each time this is done we are witnessing abuse of power in operation, which becomes literally a criminal assault on humanity. Besides, in accordance with the Natural Law, all human beings have a sacrosanct right to survive, to be healthy and to be fully educated as to develop their talents to the maximum of their potential.

The provision of such vital elements constitutes a sacrosanct human right. Those in government that fail to provide their people with such important elements are violating their people�s sacrosanct human right. Again, this is another example of abuse of power, which may be viewed as a heinous crime. The fact that we find government officials that disagree with these statements, does not give them even the remote possibility that they may be right. It simply means they are either acting in supine ignorance, if they have good intentions or they are acting with vicious malice if they were to have ulterior motives.
  Read Abuse of Power: Criminal Assault on Humanity
  October 8, 2012

by Manuel Salvador Leyva Mart�nez, M�XIQUE, Cercle Univ. Ambassadeurs de la Paix
Hoy un r�o de dolor nubla mis ojos
como impotencia ruin que me condena,
rezo implorando a Dios, calme mi pena
al contemplar del mundo sus despojos.
Maldita realidad que riega enojos
son muy pocos los seres de alma buena,
s�lo una infancia triste es luz serena
en eterna prisi�n de infiernos rojos.
La cristiana hermandad s�lo es un mito
amarse unos a otros es delito
y el odio pulveriza a la raz�n.
Solamente el poema es la conciencia
que salva y ennoblece la existencia
porque es voz celestial del coraz�n.

- II -

Poeta, que tu voz samaritana
sea un preg�n de humanista pensamiento,
clarinada, plegaria, testamento
y el oriente de un di�fano ma�ana.
Que sea tu inspiraci�n el santo hosanna
en el azul mural del firmamento,
que viaje como un �ngel sobre el viento
y sea un canto con trinos de campana.
Que tu voz aniquile toda guerra
que haya uni�n fraternal sobre la tierra
y sea la sociedad, noble y capaz.
Esa es tu leal misi�n que sin tardanza
debe hacer realidad toda esperanza
como una bendici�n de Amor y Paz.

Aujourd'hui une rivi�re de douleur obscurci mes yeux
comme une vile impuissance qui me condamne,
Ma pri�re de deuil mendiant de Dieu, calme
d'envisager leur expulsions du monde

Dans la r�alit� qui irrigue la col�re
Il y a tr�s peu d' �tres de bonne �me,
seulement une enfance triste est sereine de lumi�re
dans une prison �ternelle de l'enfer.
La Fraternit� chr�tienne est seulement un mythe
l'autre l'amour est un crime
et la haine pulv�rise le motif
Le po�me est seulement la conscience
Ecrit et ennoblit l'existence
parce que c'est la voix c�leste du coeur


Po�te, que votre voix de bon samaritain
proclamation d'humaniste pense,
clart�, pri�re, Testament
� l'est d'un clair matin
Que votre source d'inspiration est l'hosanna des Saints
dans le mur bleu du ciel,
se d�place comme un ange sur le vent
est un chant avec des trilles de campagne.
Votre voix pour annihiler toute guerre
Il y a union fraternelle sur terre
et la soci�t�, noble et capable.
C'est votre mission loyale sans d�lai
qui doit r�aliser tout espoir
comme une b�n�diction, d'amour et de Paix.


Today a river of pain obscured my eyes
as a vile powerlessness that condemns me.
My prayer of mourning begging God, calm
to consider their expulsion of the world
In reality, which irrigates the anger
There are very few good soul beings,
only a sad childhood is serene light
in an eternal prison of hell.
The Christian fraternity is only a myth
the other love is a crime
and hatred pulverizes the ground
The poem is only consciousness
Written and ennobles the existence
because it is the heavenly voice of the heart


Poet, your voice of good Samaritan
Proclamation of humanist thought,
clarity, prayer, Testament
to the East of a bright morning
That your source of inspiration is the hosanna of Saints
in the blue wall of the sky,.
moves like an Angel on the wind
is a singing with trills of campaign.
Your voice to annihilate any war
There are fraternal union on Earth
and society, noble and capable.
It is your loyal mission without delay
who should carry out any hope


Hoje, um rio de dor obscurecida meus olhos
como uma vil impot�ncia que me condena.
Minha ora��o de luto, pedindo a Deus, calma
considerar a sua expuls�o do mundo
Na realidade, que irriga a raiva
Existem muito poucos seres de alma boa,
s� uma inf�ncia triste � luz Serena
em uma pris�o eterna do inferno.
A fraternidade crist� � apenas um mito
outro amor � um crime
e �dio picar no ch�o
O poema � apenas a consci�ncia
Escrito e enobrece a exist�ncia
porque � a voz celestial de cora��o


Poeta, a voz do bom samaritano
Proclama��o do pensamento humanista,
clareza, ora��o, Testamento
a leste de uma manh� brilhante
Que a sua fonte de inspira��o � a Hosana dos Santos
na parede azul do c�u.
move-se como um anjo no vento
� um canto com trinados da campanha.
Sua voz para aniquilar qualquer guerra
H� Uni�o fraterna na terra
e sociedade, nobre e capaz.
� a sua miss�o Fiel sem demora
quem deve efectuar qualquer esperan�a
como uma b�n��o, amor e paz.
 October 13, 2012  
Weapons of Mass Distraction

by Dennis Kucinich

Kucinich writes: "The Iraq War remains with us as long as the lies continue and those responsible avoid accountability. America needs a period of truth and reconciliation. How can we avoid future wars if we don't understand how consent was manufactured for a war against Iraq?"

13 October 12

The Iraq War remains with us as long as the lies continue and those responsible avoid accountability

Ten years ago, on October 10, 2002, the United States House of Representatives made one of the most calamitous mistakes of a generation. Congress, with willful blindness, voted to attack, invade and occupy a sovereign, oil-rich nation in the Middle East that did not attack us and did not pose a threat to the American people.

The war in Iraq will ultimately cost the United States five trillion dollars. Four thousand, four hundred, eighty eight Americans were killed. Tens of thousands of Americans were injured. At least one million innocent Iraqis were killed. Iraq has become a home to Al Qaida which it certainly was not before our intervention. Resentment against the United States has made pursuing peace more difficult. And we still have thousands of armed contractors in Iraq - paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

Many are trying to rewrite the history of the Iraq war. The people who led us into a war based on lies want us to believe that the intelligence community was duped. They don't want us to ask questions, because they don't want to be held accountable. Those repeating the myth that America was duped are perpetuating one of the biggest lies in American history.

Iraq did not pose a threat to the United States. Iraq had no Weapons of Mass Destruction. Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. We were not duped. We were not fooled. It was obvious at the time. The evidence was in publicly available reports for anyone who cared to look. I personally distributed this memo to Members of Congress. In it I address the false justifications for war, point-by-point and establish the truth. I made the case in an hour-long presentation on the House floor. 133 Members of Congress were not duped; they voted against going to war with Iraq. The Bush Administration lied to the Congress and the American people to sell its war. The intelligence community wasn't duped, The American people were duped we are still paying the price.

Why did they lie? After ten years, we have never held anyone accountable for the lies. Perhaps it would be a useful to look at who benefited from the war. The Neoconservatives in the Bush Administration wanted to show the world American power by destroying an enemy. They thought that American power and American bombs could redraw the maps and ensure American hegemony and American access to cheap oil for a new century. Certainly the bombmakers and war profiteers have gained from a decade of war. The elite chattering class of State Department sponsored spokespersons from so-called "independent" think tanks have also benefitted. This professional chattering class receives funding and attention by hyping threats and war. Who else benefited from the war?

America needs a period of truth and reconciliation. How can we avoid future wars if we don't understand how consent was manufactured for a war against Iraq?

  Read  Weapons of Mass Distraction
 October 10, 2012  
CODEPINK in Pakistan!
by Medea Benjamin and Robert Naiman, CODEPINK
Dear Germain Dufour,

Read "US Delegation's Message of Peace Received Warmly in Pakistan"
By Medea Benjamin and Robert Naiman on Common Dreams

View amazing photos
by delegate Katie Falkenberg

Watch CNN Coverage of CODEPINK in Pakistan

Did you hear the news about our inspiring peace march this weekend to the tribal areas of Pakistan where no foreigners have been permitted to go in a decade? I still can't believe it, but... we did it!!!

As one Pakistani woman wrote to us, "Your coming to Pakistan has touched so many hearts that you cannot even imagine! You were able to do what hundreds of millions of dollars spent by USAID in TV ads to win hearts and minds in Pakistan has failed to achieve!" Read more about how warmly our delegation was received in an article written by Medea Benjamin and Robert Naiman here.

While we were pushing the issue of drones to the forefront in Pakistan, back home in San Francisco CODEPINK activist Kristin Hull delivered your Stop Drones Petition signatures to President Obama. Amazing!!

Our peace march made international headlines on CNN (see video here), the New York Times, the Washington Post, Al Jazeera, the BBC, and over 100 major news outlets.

While we were disappointed that the Pakistani government prevented us from entering deeper into South Waziristan as planned, we feel we've been successful in putting the issue of drone warfare in the international spotlight. ??

Yesterday we organized a public fast in Islamabad to atone for US killer drone strikes. We were devastated to hear news of the Taliban attack on 14-year-old Pakistani girl Malala Yousufzai who is an outspoken advocate for girls to attend school.

After our fast we collected funds to send to Malala's school and we are reaching out to global community to find medical help for her neurological needs. We condemn this violence and understand that American drone attacks increase extremism. We are praying for Malala's quick recovery and return to school.

The world is watching, and we're fired up and ready to keep campaigning to end drone attacks. Members of our delegation are eager to plan speaking engagements back in the US to share our experiences far and wide. Check out the delegate biographies and email Sam to set up an event with one of the delegates. It can be a talk at your local university, place of worship or simply a gathering in your home. We're anxious to share what we've learned and would love your help.

Peace and solidarity from Islamabad,

Alli McCracken
CODEPINK National Organizer

PS It was inspiring to see that while we were on the march, many of you around the country joined protests on the 11th anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion with �Stop Killer Drones� banners. We feel your solidarity here!

The US peace delegation photographed in Islamabad, Pakistan on October 4th, 2012. (Photo: Flickr /, Pakistan - Many Americans have an image of Pakistan and its people as "teeming with anti-Americanism." Americans see images on TV of angry Pakistani demonstrators burning American flags. Indeed, polls say three of four Pakistanis view the United States as an enemy.

But in the last week, we and thirty other Americans have been blessed with an experience few Americans have shared, seeing a more hopeful side of the relationship of the people of Pakistan to Americans. For the last week in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, and then in the nation’s tribal areas, our delegation that came to Pakistan to protest U.S. drones has been showered with tremendous hospitality, warmth and friendship.

The tribal area our peace delegation visited last weekend borders Waziristan, which since 2004 has been continuously hit with U.S. drone strikes. According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 2,500 and 3,200 people have been killed in these drone strikes. A recent report from Stanford and NYU law schools noted that only 2 percent of these deaths were "high-level" targets. The rest were civilians, including women and children, and low-level fighters.

Moreover, as the report highlighted, in addition to those who have been killed and injured, the entire population of Waziristan, especially children,have been terrorized by the drones that have been constantly circling overhead, 24 hours a day, because people don't know who is going to be targeted or when the drones might strike. “The drones have changed our way of life,” we were told by Karim Khan, a Waziri who lost his son and brother to a drone strike. “People are now afraid to attend community meetings, funerals or weddings; some are even afraid to send their children to school.”

Pakistanis we met in the tribal areas last weekend are largely people who haven’t seen Americans in 10 years, since the start of the "global war on terror." This is both because the Pakistan government doesn’t allow foreigners into the region and because of the fear Americans have of the "lawless" tribal areas. The State Department travel advisory says that due to security concerns, the U.S. government restricts travel by U.S. officials in the areas we visited this weekend.

This means that many young Pakistanis in the tribal areas have never seen an American in their lives. All they may know about America is that it is a country that conducts and promotes violence in the region, whether by drone strikes, the war across the border in Afghanistan, or a U.S.-promoted offensive by the Pakistani military that displaced more than a hundred thousand people in South Waziristan.

Our group was invited by political leader Imran Khan to join an anti-drones rally in Waziristan and the special government permission we received marked the first time that the Pakistani government has admitted foreigners into the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in nearly a decade. Despite rumors that our group would be targeted by anti-American militants, on the journey from Islamabad to Waziristan the delegation received overwhelming support from Pakistanis who held processions along the route. When we arrived in the town of Hatala to spend the night, we were swamped by hundreds of Pakistanis, particularly teenage boys, who rushed to look at this rare species and have their pictures taken with us.

The following day, the government, citing security concerns, closed the road that would have taken us to the planned rally site in Kotkai, a town in the heart of South Waziristan. So the American group held a rally with Imran Khan in the place where we had spent the night.

To the cheers of a teeming group of Pakistanis, we walked on stage holding anti-drone signs and pictures of children who have been killed in drone attacks, and delivered an apology for the death of innocent people. "We want you to know that these Americans you see here have been fighting for years against this drone policy, and will continue to do so until we put an end into to these barbaric attacks. We want to live in peace and harmony with our brothers and sisters in this region," we told the crowd.” Their response brought tears to our eyes. "You are welcome! We want peace!,” they chanted over and over, smiling, waving and cheering.

Our delegation’s call for peace, and the pictures of us with our anti-drone signs, have been carried on the Pakistani television and print media all week long. Millions of Pakistanis have seen us and heard our message. As one Pashtun man told us, putting his hand over his heart, “If you came here to win our hearts and minds, you have won mine.”

We aren't under any illusions that our single delegation will by itself abolish the drone strikes and transform the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan to one based on peaceful cooperation. But we are convinced that current U.S. policy towards Pakistan, with its emphasis on military might and marginalization of negotiations as a means of trying to address Pakistan's security problems, is dangerously misguided and counterproductive, feeding an endless cycle of violence. Americans and Pakistanis are being taught to fear and distrust each other, instead of being encouraged to seek political resolutions of conflicts. Such a short-sighted policy won't make Americans more safe. It's time to fundamentally re-think U.S. policy towards Pakistan, and an important step forward is for Americans to see Pakistanis in the tribal areas as fully human.

Medea Benjamin (, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control. Her previous books include Don’t Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart., and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide).

Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy. Naiman has worked as a policy analyst and researcher at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. He has masters degrees in economics and mathematics from the University of Illinois and has studied and worked in the Middle East. You can contact him here.

  Read CODEPINK in Pakistan!