John Scales Avery, Dr. Elias Akleh, Carolyn Baker, Subhankar Banerjee, George Black, Damian Carrington, Countercurrents.org (8), Guy Crequie (3), Marielle Dufour, Food Sovereignty Prize Committee, Timothy V. Gatto, James Hansen, Thom Hartmann (2), Fiona Harvey, Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, Nicola Jones, Caitlin Kawaguchi, Kieran Kelly, Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja, Michael T. Klare, Ryan Koronowski, Stephen Leahy, Tara Lohan (2), Charles Mercieca (2), George Monbiot, Fabiola Ortiz, Dr Gideon Polya (3), Jon Queally, Stefan Rahmstorf (2), Colin Todhunter, Jose Luis Vivero Pol,Hartmut Zückert
John Scales Avery, Racism, Colonialism And Exceptionalism
Dr. Elias Akleh, Israeli Perpetual Terrorism
Carolyn Baker, What Collapse Feels Like, Part 4 of 5: Despair: Every Hour Offers A Choice
Subhankar Banerjee, Destabilization Of Arctic Sea Ice Would Be Game Over For Climate
George Black, Defeating Dirty Energy: 5 Inspiring Examples of David Beating Goliath
Damian Carrington, The Divestment Campaign Against Fossil Fuels Could Cause Significant Damage to Coal, Oil and Gas Companies
Countercurrents.org, China's Future GHG Giants
Countercurrents.org, Shifting Wind And Rain, Drier Middle East And Wetter Monsoon Asia
Countercurrents.org, More Than 500 Million People Might Face Increasing Water Scarcity
Countercurrents.org, World Bank Boosts Coal In Indonesia
Countercurrents.org, Warming Threatens Global Food And Water Security
Countercurrents.org, Apocalypse Imminent: Climate Crisis Will Turn To Reality By The End Of The Decade
Countercurrents.org, Future Global Reforestation? Unlikely
Countercurrents.org, Climate Crisis Threatens The Bay Of Bengal
Guy Crequie, Réflexions philosophiques contemporaines basées sur la nécessité du respect de la dignité de la vie !
Guy Crequie, ASSEZ DE LARMES ET DE SANG EN SYRIE !
Guy Crequie, A propos du 5e rapport du GIEC sur le changement climatique !
Marielle Dufour, Doit-on signer la pétition pour une ambassade des Élohim ?
Food Sovereignty Prize Committee, Meet the Opposite of Monsanto -- These Are the Folks That Really Feed the World
Timothy V. Gatto, The Fix Is In, The Revolution Is Coming
James Hansen, James Hansen: How We Can Stop Big Oil in its Tracks and Keep Dirty Energy in the Ground
Thom Hartmann, Almost Too Horrible to Contemplate: Global Warming Could Destroy the Lives of 750 Million People in the Short Future
Thom Hartmann, Last Hours of Humanity: We Appear to Be Warming the World into Its 6th Major Extinction Event
Fiona Harvey, Major New Climate Report from the IPCC Reveals Human Impact Is 'Unequivocal' -- Global Response Needed
Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, Human Influence On Climate Clear, IPCC Report Says
Nicola Jones, Rising Waters: How Fast And How Far Will Sea Levels Rise?
Caitlin Kawaguchi, One Man's Clever Idea to Fight Frackers and Save His Organic Farm
Kieran Kelly, The United States Of Genocide
Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja, America In Search Of Navigational Change
Michael T. Klare, Is The Fossil Fuel Euphoria Realistic?
Ryan Koronowski, 15 Things You Should Know About the Major New Report on Climate Science
Stephen Leahy, No Safe Havens In Increasingly Acid Oceans
Tara Lohan, Keystone XL Fails the Climate Test -- See the Proof for Yourself
Tara Lohan, Extreme Energy Extraction Roadtrip — The Scary Ways We're Ruining the Country to Get Fossil Fuels
Charles Mercieca, World Peace in Operation On a Permanent Basis
Charles Mercieca, American Government in Perspective: Theory versus Practice
George Monbiot, Forget Climate Change, We Must Prepare for a Catastrophic Climate Breakdown
Fabiola Ortiz, Climate Change Report “Gives No Reason For Optimism”
Dr Gideon Polya, Global Climate Injustice: Massive European Carbon Debt Versus South Asian Carbon Credit
Dr Gideon Polya, Canada AndUS Default On Carbon Debt
Dr Gideon Polya, Why We Must Divest From Fossil Fuel Corporations To Help Save The Biosphere And Humanity
Jon Queally, Human Assault Pushes Ocean To Limit Unseen In 300 Million Years
Stefan Rahmstorf, IPCC Report Gives No Reason For Complacency
Stefan Rahmstorf, Sea Level Rise In The 5th IPCC Report
Colin Todhunter, Free Trade Agreements: The Bypassing Of Democracy To Institute Plunder
Jose Luis Vivero Pol, Why Food Should Be A Commons Not A Commodity
Hartmut Zückert, The Commons: A Historical Concept Of Property Rights
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|September 26, 2013||
China's Future GHG Giants
Coal-powered synthetic natural gas plants being planned in China would produce seven times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional natural gas plants, and use up to 100 times the water as shale gas production, finds a study by Duke University researchers*.
The new study report has been published Thursday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
As part of the largest investment in coal-fueled synthetic natural gas plants in history, the Chinese government recently has approved construction of nine large plants capable of producing more than 37 billion cubic meters of synthetic natural gas annually. Private companies are planning to build more than 30 other plants, capable of producing 200 million cubic meters of natural gas annually -- far exceeding China's current natural gas demand.
The scientists said:
These environmental costs have been largely neglected in the drive to meet China's growing energy needs, and might lock China on an irreversible and unsustainable path for decades to come.
"Using coal to make natural gas may be good for China's energy security, but it's an environmental disaster in the making," said Robert B. Jackson, Nicholas Professor of Environmental Sciences and director of the Duke Center on Global Change.
"At a minimum, Chinese policymakers should delay implementing their synthetic natural gas plan to avoid a potentially costly and environmentally damaging outcome," said Chi-Jen Yang, a research scientist at Duke's Center on Global Change and lead author of the study report. "An even better decision would be to cancel the program entirely."
"These plants are coming online at a rapid pace. If all nine plants planned by the Chinese government were built, they would emit 21 billion tons of carbon dioxide over a typical 40-year lifetime, seven times the greenhouse gas that would be emitted by traditional natural gas plants," Jackson said.
"If all 40 of the facilities are built, their carbon dioxide emissions would be an astonishing 110 billion tons," Jackson said.
The analysis by Yang and Jackson finds that if the gas produced by the new plants is used to generate electricity, the total lifecycle GHG emissions would be 36 percent to 82 percent higher than pulverized coal-fired power.
"The increased carbon dioxide emissions from the nine government-approved plants alone will more than cancel out all of the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from China's recent investments in wind and solar electricity," Yang said. "While we applaud China's rapid development in clean energy, we must be cautious about this simultaneous high-carbon leapfrogging."
The study notes that the plants would also emit hydrogen sulfide and mercury, which, if not properly scrubbed and treated, are potentially harmful to human health.
Excessive water consumption by the plants is also a concern.
"Producing synthetic natural gas requires 50 to 100 times the amount of water you need to produce shale gas," Yang said. "The nine plants approved by the government -- most of which are located in desert or semi-desert regions in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia -- will consume more than 200 million tons of water annually and could worsen water shortages in areas that already are under significant water stress."
The overall environmental impacts will be severe, Jackson said. "It will lock in high greenhouse gas emissions, water use and mercury pollution for decades. Perhaps there's still time to stop it."
The story is based on materials provided by Duke University.
|September 27, 2013||
The United States Of Genocide
by Kieran Kelly , Countercurrents.org
The United States of America was built on a foundation of genocide against the indigenous peoples of North America. In fact, all successful settler colonial societies are founded in genocide. The process is one of dispossession ? the erasure of one group identity and the imposition of another on the people and/or on the land. But genocide is not merely the foundation of the US nation state, it is also the foundation of the US empire. The US habit of genocide has not died, but has transformed. The US has become a serial perpetrator of genocide with the blood of many millions of innocents spilled in pursuit of imperial hegemony.
There is a fight going on for the very meaning of the term ?genocide?. Western powers assert their right to accuse enemies of committing genocide using the broadest possible definitions whilst also touting a twisted undefined sense of ?genocide? which can never, ever be applied to their own actions. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, apparently taking his cue from the US, is currently pushing for reform of the UN Security Council such that the veto power would be unavailable. The UNSC is a political body and ?genocide? will simply become a political term cited by powerful states to rationalise aggression against the weak. Key notoriously said that his country was ?missing in action? because it did not invade Iraq in 2003, reminding Kiwis that ?blood is thicker than water?. If his desired reforms existed now, the US would probably have a UN Security Council resolution authorising the use of force against Syria on the grounds of ?genocide?.
All of those who oppose Western aggression justified as humanitarian intervention under the ?responsibility to protect? must stop burying their heads in the sand over this matter. This is a very real fight for the future of humanity. We can either learn and propagate the understanding that US imperial interventions are, by nature, genocidal. Or we can just pretend the word has no meaning; indulge our childish moral impulses and the lazy fatuousness of our scholars and pundits; and let Western mass-murderers use this Orwellian buzzword (for that is what ?genocide? currently is) to commit heinous acts of horrific violence which ensure the continued domination of the world's masses by a tiny imperial elite.
(An aside: apparently people like a pragmatic focus to accompany a call to action. So, am I making the most obvious appeal ? that US officials be tried for committing genocide? No I am not. They can be tried for war crimes if people really think that ?holding people accountable? is more important than preventing suffering and protecting the vulnerable. But it has been a terrible mistake to construct genocide as being an aggravated crime against humanity, as if it were simply a vicious felony writ large. This has played completely into the hands of those propagandists for whom every new enemy of the West is the new Hitler. The means by which genocides are perpetrated are the crimes of individuals ? war crimes, for example ? but genocide itself is the crime of a state or para-state regime. That is the proper target of inquisition and censure. Though the attempt was tragically abortive, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal recently began hearing charges of genocide against Israel. We need this sort of process to hear charges of genocide against the US. I fully support such efforts, but my real call to action is a call for thought, for clarity and for self-discipline. People are drawn to using woolly thinking over genocide, wishing to use it as the ultimate condemnation of mass violence without reference to any actual meaning of the term. We must not tolerate it in ourselves or others. We are a hair's breadth away from the point where ?genocide prevention? will be used by major Western powers to justify genocidal mass violence).
US ?Wars? are Actually Genocides
Every major military action by the US since World War II has first and foremost been an act of genocide. I do not state this as a moral condemnation. If I were seeking to condemn I would try to convey the enormous scale of suffering, death, loss and misery caused by US mass violence. My purpose instead is to correct a terrible misconception of US actions ? their nature, their meaning and their strategic utility. This understanding which I am trying to convey is a very dangerous notion with an inescapable moral dimension because the US has always maintained that the suffering, death and destruction it causes are incidental to military purposes ? they are instances of ?collateral damage?. But, with all due respect to the fact that US personnel may face real dangers, these are not real wars. These are genocides and it is the military aspect that is incidental. In fact, it is straining credulity to continue believing in a string of military defeats being sustained by the most powerful military in the history of the world at the hands of impoverished 3 rd World combatants. The US hasn't really been defeated in any real sense. They committed genocide in Indochina, increasing the level of killing as much as possible right through to the clearly foreseen inevitable conclusion which was a cessation of direct mass violence, not a defeat. The US signed a peace agreement which they completely ignored. The Vietnamese did not occupy US territory and force the US to disarm and pay crippling reparations.
There is no question that the US has committed actions which fit the description of genocide. Genocide does not mean the successful extermination of a defined group (there is no such thing as ?attempted genocide?). It was never conceived that way, but rather as any systematic attack on ?a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.? Those who deny US genocides usually only deny that there is any intent to commit genocide. The UN definition of genocide (recognised by 142 states) is:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.?
The US has committed these acts many times over and in many different countries. Some people object that this is some watered down version of genocide that risks diluting the significance of this ?ultimate crime?. However, bear in mind that the victims of US armed violence are not usually combatants and even if they are they are not engaged in some sort of contested combat that gives them some ability to defend themselves or to kill or be killed. They are helpless as they die of incineration, asphyxiation, dismemberment, cancer, starvation, disease. People of all ages die in terror unable to protect themselves from the machinery of death. Make no mistake, that is what it is: a large complex co-ordinated machinery of mass killing. There is nothing watered down about the horrors of the genocides committed by the US, and their victims number many millions. The violence is mostly impersonal, implacable, arbitrary and industrial.
There are at least three specific times at which US mass violence has taken lives in the millions through direct killing: the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the wars and sanctions against Iraq in combination with the occupation of Iraq. I refer to them as the Korea Genocide (which was against both South and North Koreans), the Indochina Genocide (against Laotians, Cambodians, and Vietnamese), and the Iraq Genocide (which took place over at least a 20 year period).
There are many ways to show that the US committed genocides in these cases. On one level the case is straightforward. For example, if the US commits acts of ?strategic bombing? which systematically kill civilians by the hundreds of thousands, and it turns out that not only is there no rational proportionate military reason, but that US military and intelligence analysis is clear that these are in fact militarily counter-productive acts of gratuitous mass-murder, then by any reasonable definition these must be acts of genocide. The logic is simple and inescapable. I have written lengthy pieces showing in detail that these were large scale systematic and intentional genocides which you can read here , and here , and here , and here , and here , and here , and here .
For a long time I have tried to think of ways in which I condense this in a readable form. The problem in many respects lies with the necessity of overcoming misapprehensions. Genocide is an emotive topic, whilst people are very reluctant to read that those who rule in their name (with whom they sometimes actively identify) are in the moral vicinity of the Nazi leaders of Germany. Permeating every level of the discourse is the constant position (whether as the unspoken assumption or as the active assertion) that the US has never acted with genocidal intent. Intentionality is a topic in its own right, but to be brief I will point out that intent does not require that ?genocide? be its own motive. If I kill someone because I want their watch, I can't turn around and say it isn't murder because I didn't intend to kill them because I was really just intending to take their watch. It may seem a ridiculous example, but the discourse of genocide is so twisted that it is the norm even amongst genocide scholars. We keep looking for the people, the bloodthirsty psychopathic monsters, who kill people just for the fun of it and grab their watch afterwards as an afterthought. Unsurprisingly, we find those people among the leaders of those countries who oppose Western political power. Now that includes Syria's Bashar al-Assad.
The best way of demonstrating US intentionality is to demonstrate the consistency of their approach in different times and places. However, this is a necessarily exhaustive approach, so I have decided to take a different tack here. I wish to sketch a fragment of autobiography here ? an outline of the process by which I came to my current understanding of the topic. I want readers to understand that I didn't seek these conclusions out. I have had it made clear to me, by rather comfortably embedded scholars, that they think that I am being provocative out of ambition. It is a testament to the self-satisfaction of such people that they somehow think that being provocative is some advantage. Academia thrives on the journal-filling peer-reviewed ?controversies? of rival schools and scholars, but they aren't really keen on anything that might actually be of any interest to anyone else. The fact is that I didn't seek this out and it certainly has not endeared me to anyone that I can think of. On the other hand I have had people act as if I had smeared my own faeces all over myself for using the g-word with respect to Iraq, and I have had metaphorical doors slammed in my face. As I hope the following will indicate, at least partially, I cannot but characterise US genocides as such and I cannot but view the subject of absolute urgent fundamental importance.
Coming to Understand
The Vietnam War loomed large in my childhood. I was five when it ended. I watched the critical documentary series Vietnam: The 10,000 Day War when I was ten or eleven years old. During the 1980s Vietnam War movie craze I was sucked into that powerful quagmire of pathos and adrenaline ? not to mention the evocative music. But even then, as a teen, I could not abide the apologism and the way in which American lives and American suffering were privileged. The US personnel were portrayed as the victims, even in films which showed US atrocities. I knew far too much about things such as the nature of the atrocities carried out by the Contras to find that sort of propaganda palatable. For one thing, I had read William Blum's The CIA: A Forgotten History . This book (now titled Killing Hope and still available ) doesn't leave the reader much room for illusions about the US role in international politics. Perhaps if I had been a little older I might have been ?educated? enough to be blind to the obvious, but I wasn't. While most people managed to avoid facing the facts, I knew from this book and others like it that although the atrocities of the Soviet Bloc were substantial, they were dwarfed by those of the US and its closest clients. If Cuba, for example, has been repressive, then what words remain to describe the US installed regimes in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, El Salvador, or Chile?
How could one characterise a state that backed and created death squad regimes that massacred entire villages, that tortured children to death in front of parents? How does one describe a militarised country whose meticulously planned and executed bombing raids systematically visited untold death and suffering on innocents as an intended purpose. Any informed person who had an objective proportionate viewpoint could only conclude, as Martin Luther King Jr. had already concluded , that the US government and the wider US corporate state were ?the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.? Fred Branfman, who saw the results of US bombing first-hand in Laos, has more recently concluded that the executive branch of the US government is ?the world's most evil and lawless institution?.
So that is where I was coming from. On moral terms I could not have been more condemnatory of the US government. I considered the US government and military-corporate-intelligence complex to be the worst thing in the world since the demise of the Third Reich. I believed this on the basis that they had demonstrably brought about more suffering, death and destruction than anyone else. If someone had tried to claim that it was for ?freedom? I would have laughed bitterly, thinking of the brutally crushed democracies and popular movements that were victims of the US. But if someone had said to me that the US had committed genocide in Korea and Indochina I would have most likely dismissed the claim as emotive overstatement. I didn't actually know what the word genocide meant precisely, but I would still have seen its use as being a form of exaggeration. Implicitly that means that I took the word ?genocide? to be a form of subjective moral condemnation as if it were an inchoate scream rather than a word that might have a consistent meaning. (You can't exaggerate by calling something ?arson?, for example. It is either a lie or it is the truth. Genocide is the same). However, ?genocide?, as a word, has been subjected to the ideological processes (described so well by Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four ) which destroy the meaning of words. Here is how I put it in an academic piece :
What brought me around to using the term genocide was realising that there was no other word to describe what the US did in South Viet Nam. I had been aware that the vast majority of victims of the US military were civilians. It was commonplace to say that 90% of casualties were civilian. (Tellingly Western commentators, including those in the peace movement, would vouch that the figure of 90% civilian casualties was proof of how cruel and deadly ?modern war? had become ? as if US practices were some sort of universal standard and as if the fact that other belligerents did not produce such high rates of civilian death was not of any interest whatsoever.)
So, US violence mostly caused civilian deaths and the vast majority of those civilians were, in fact, subjects of the US installed puppet [sic] regime in Saigon. They were killing their own supposed allies. I have read all of the rationalisations for why the US thought it was a good idea to kill the civilians of their own client state, and they are all completely insane. I don't even believe that killing the civilian populations of enemy countries is militarily effective and in that belief I am supported by the strategic analyses of the US itself going back to 1944. Killing the civilian population of an allied state makes no military sense whatsoever . Often killing civilians was rationalised in terms of counterinsurgency (usually crudely reversing Maoist doctrine about the relationship between the guerrilla and the rural population) despite the fact that it was recognised from very early on that the civilian deaths were recruiting and strengthening the enemy.
That was the other striking thing about US activities in Indochina ? they were systematically killing civilians without apparent purpose, but they were also undermining their own political and military efforts. This happened at all levels. As I was reading and coming to grips with this aspect of history, it seemed that exactly the same thing was playing out in Iraq. In 2003, as invasion loomed, I had initially expected that the US would conduct a fast vicious campaign particularly aimed at inflicting maximum damage to economic infrastructure. They would then leave, crowing about their surgical use of force and minuscule US fatalities. The US would continue to enhance the perceived legitimacy of its acts of aggression and would be able to use economic blackmail to exert neocolonial control. However, I was woefully naïve for believing that. In contrast, Paul Wolfowitz was absolutely clear on this point ? you cannot use normal neocolonial power on Iraq: ?...[W] e just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil. ? Instead, the US invaded, occupied and then acted repeatedly and systematically in ways which would very predictably cause armed resistance, just as they had in Indochina. But without that resistance they could not have justified a major military presence and the proconsular rule of the occupation imposed on Iraq.
In 2006 I was able to devote quite a lot of time to the subject of genocide in Indochina as it was the topic of my Honours research paper . My initial understanding of genocide was pretty thin and one-dimensional, but it was sound in the given context. The most important aspect for me was that genocide matched means with ends. War is always a matter of uncertain outcome. To wage war is to wager (the words are cognates). Indeed that is why we use such terms as ?wage? and ?adventure? for military action. If memory serves, Carl von Clausewitz himself even wrote that a belligerent will never be able to attain their intended war aims because the war they pursue will itself change matters and impose its own realities. In that sense war is a gamble which will always be lost. Genocide is not a gamble.
I saw genocide as being an attack on the peoples of Indochina which avoided the uncertainties of waging military war. The maximal aim of the genocide was the eventual neocolonial domination of Indochina. It worked. In Viet Nam the war and subsequent US economic sanctions were devastating. By 1990 the per capita GDP was only $114. iv Under doi moi liberalisation, Viet Nam has achieved much greater formal economic activity (GDP), but only by submitting to the ?Washington Consensus?, which means no price supports for staples such as rice, which in turn means that the real income of the poorest urban dwellers has dropped v Westmoreland characterised doi moi as proof of US victory. vi The point is, though, that genocide doesn't need an end goal such as such as submitting to neoliberal WTO regulations and IMF conditions. Chomsky called Vietnamese poverty ?a vivid refutation of the claim that the US lost,? vii Similar stories could be related with regard to Laos and Cambodia. Whether these nation states are considered enemies or vanquished vassals or friends is of no relevance, the weakness of their populations is a gain in relative power for the US empire, and empires intrinsically function on relative gains.
This is what I wrote in 2006:
As I would later discover, when he first coined the word ?genocide?, Raph ä el Lemkin wrote that ? genocide is a new technique of occupation aimed at winning the peace even though the war itself is lost.? He also wrote: ?Genocide is the antithesis of the ... doctrine [which] holds that war is directed against sovereigns and armies, not against subjects and civilians. In its modern application in civilized society, the doctrine means that war is conducted against states and armed forces and not against populations. ... [T]he Germans prepared, waged, and continued a war not merely against states and their armies but against peoples. For the German occupying authorities war thus appears to offer the most appropriate occasion for carrying out their policy of genocide.?
(At this point I would like to urge people to read what Lemkin actually wrote when trying to describe genocide. It is not a time consuming task. You can find the chapter here .)
What I had found was that the US was maintaining the ?war?. It helped to recruit its enemies, to arm them, finance them, and to supply them. Just as I was researching this, a book by David Keen was published about the ?War on Terror? which claimed that it was a self-perpetuating endless ?war system?. It focussed on clearly ?counterproductive? actions undertaken by the US, belying its stated aims:
Keen never mentioned Indochina. The precedents he cited of were civil wars in Africa. However it was as if the idea of a war system was, in a sense, on the tip of people's tongues towards the end of the US involevment in Indochina, as if they knew deep-down that the US was not trying to win the war. It seems almost the implicit subtext of Magnum photographer Philip Jones Griffiths' book Vietnam Inc. which by its title alone suggests an enterprise quite differently conceived than war . Even the orthodox political discourse (with talk of quagmires and a ?stab in the back? story of brave soldiers hamstrung by politicians) hints at a war system. What the US did in Indochina was an absolute textbook example of what Keen was describing.
As I found this way of understanding the past, I was also viewing events in Iraq with the same apprehension. What was occurring on a daily basis was very clearly indicating a parallel process. Captured weapons were dumped unsecured in the countryside. Efforts to secure borders (to at least impede the flow of weapons, resistance fighters and money) were systematically undermined. Just as in Viet Nam, diverted cash sloshed through networks of corruption and was available to resistance groups. People were driven into the arms of the resistance by the random brutality of US personnel, the murderous use of indiscriminate ordnance, and the systematic degradation of the civilian economic sphere. On top of this, the US fomented a civil war.
It is a pity that Keen did not know of the Indochina precedent, because what we know of it goes much deeper and reaches much higher than the what we know of the ?War on Terror? (which Keen takes to include Iraq and Afghanistan interventions). Keen discusses various tactics and policies which are counterproductive. But it is not just the counterproductive things which sustain US enemies, it is the ways in which US leaders ensure that they cannot ever achieve a victory. This is what I wrote:
You can read all about that stuff in detail if you want, otherwise you'll just have to take my word for it. The US systematically ensured that it could never achieve ?victory? in Indochina. Perhaps the most blatant example was the brutal genocide unleashed on Cambodia from 1970 until 1975. Not the ?genocide? or ?autogenocide? of the Khmer Rouge, but the genocide before that, without which there would never have been a Khmer Rouge takeover. Here's a long excerpt from my Honours piece:
It was pretty clear that the US was maintaining the situation of armed conflict in order to commit genocide. This was a comprehensive act of genocide which did not merely involve the systematic killing of the target populations, it also involved every other ?technique of genocide? described by Lemkin. There was systematic economic, social, cultural, political, and religious destruction. There was the systematic and deliberate ecocidal poisoning of the land and people with defoliants. There was very raw brutality. People were slaughtered by bombs, but there was also murder, rape and torture on a scale beyond imagining. In one book co-written by Nick Turse he finds that when he sets out to find the site of a massacre in Vietnam it becomes like trying to find a needle in a haystack of massacre sites. xxii In his next book Kill Anything that Moves Turse tries to show that haystack for what it is. The results would be hard to believe if they were not so well documented. I cannot reduce its contents here, I can only recommend that people acquire and read the book. It is a litany of slaughter that seems almost endless and through it all the command structure and the political structure provide the framework for the personnel to commit atrocities.
This is not just about the choice of tactics ? it is also about ?grand tactics?, strategy, doctrine, and indoctrination. Psychiatrist and author Robert Jay Lifton famously discussed ?atrocity producing situations? as a driving factor behind US war crimes, and I believe we can now conclude these situations were deliberately created, not just because we have other evidence that atrocities were tacitly encouraged, but because the US went to great lengths to replicate these these ?atrocity producing situations? in Iraq.
Why Genocide and Not War?
By the end of my honours thesis I was convinced that both the 2 nd Indochina War and the ?Iraq War? were ?genocidal war systems?. Since then I have learnt a great deal more, and my thinking has developed a great deal more. I won't bore you with the detail, but I came to realise the the ?war system? appellation was largely redundant. Genocides are ?war systems? by nature. Almost every perpetrator of genocide explains their violence as fighting war.
Genocide was a key means by which the US secured global hegemony in the post-WWII era. I learnt that Korea was also a case of US genocide. US actions there were as shocking, as deadly and as militarily nonsensical as they were in Indochina. Hundreds of thousands were massacred and hundreds of thousands incinerated. 25% of the entire population of North Korea was killed and we should not forget that many hundreds of thousands of the ostensibly allied South Koreans died at US hands or those of US commanded troops. The whole war became widely recognised as a pointless killing machine (described as ?the meatgrinder?) while the US needlessly sabotaged and prolonged armistice negotiations.
I can't explain in this space why Korea, Vietnam and Iraq posed such great threats to US imperial hegemony, but they did and the US successfully dealt with those dangers by committing genocide. These are successful uses of genocide to establish, deepen and maintain imperial hegemony, but we have wilfully blinded ourselves to their nature. Critics of US interventions have evidently been scared to entertain the notion that there was some successfully applied rationale to US behaviour. They have joined with the lovers of war, the nationalists, the racists and the fanatics in declaring over and over and over again the wrong-headedness and failures of US military endeavours. The victims of US genocide quite understandably prefer to see themselves as the plucky Davids that beat the Pentagon Goliath. These are all lies.
US forces storm into one house after another, claiming to be trying to kill flies with sledgehammers. Given that they have entirely demolished several houses and severely damaged many others; and given that they have been caught red-handed releasing flies into targeted houses; and given that they forcibly try to make people buy very expensive fly ?insurance?; maybe it is time we consider that neither they, nor their sledgehammers, are concerned in any way with flies (except as a pretext).
Where people might once have been terrified that to suggest any cogent purpose to US actions for fear of giving credit to warmongers, we need not be so worried now. It is very clear that the US does not exert imperial hegemony for the sake of peace and stability, or even for the sake of the enrichment of the US and its people. They never protected us from the nefarious threat of communism and they don't protect us from the nefarious threat of Islam. A very narrow group of imperialists who share a cohesive long-term hegemonic programme have successfully concentrated power and wealth levels of disparity akin to those in slavery-based economies. They have also created a neofeudal framework of privatised regnal rights. No doubt many of these people have noble intentions, believing that only by such ruthless action can they exert enough control to save humanity from its self-destructive impulses. Many elitists will openly express such opinions and we can certainly understand having concern over the future of the planet. But such people are, in fact, completely insane and they should be taken out of circulation and treated exactly like any other dangerous megalomaniac who believes that they are the new Napoleon. It is not the masses that are threatening the planet. It is not the masses who bring about wars. And though communal violence seems almost the epitome of the mob in action, I know of no genocide that did not result from the actions of a narrow elite.
The reason that we must view US genocides as being genocides and not wars is that we cannot ever understand the logic of their actions in any other way. People shy away from the term genocide and people react violently to what they perceive as its misuse. That indicates just how important it is. I mentioned Nick Turse's Kill Anything that Moves which is an entire book devoted primarily to the systematic killing of non-combatants. He never uses the term ?genocide?. In a work based on veteran testimony, Chris Hedges and Laila al-Arian explain that the very nature of the Iraq occupation is that of an atrocity producing situation and that US personnel have gone ? from killing ? the shooting of someone who [can] harm you ? to murder. The war in Iraq is primarily about murder. There is very little killing. ? xxiii They are talking about the systematic murder of civilians in small increments multiplied many times over, but they never use the term ?genocide?. This despite the fact that US actions in Indochina have widely been adjudged genocidal and despite the fact that it was very strongly argued that the US and UK controlled sanctions against Iraq were genocidal. Ask yourself this: if someone was documenting the same thing being perpetrated by Sudan, or by Zimbabwe do you think the word ?genocide? would be left out of such works?
Above all we must end the continuing fatuous nonsense spouted by security geeks (including high ranking military and civilian personnel) who seem to believe every exaggerated claim about threats from the Cubans, the Iranians, the Soviets, Al Qaeda in the Falklands (AQIF) or whomever. The morons with their clichés about ?fighting the last war? will never ever tire of telling us how the US just doesn't know how to do counterinsurgency. Really? The question must be, then how did they manage to remain so bad at counterinsurgency when they have spent more person hours on counterinsurgency and counter-guerilla warfare that all other states throughout the entirety of humanity added together? (I could list a few examples here starting with the Indian Wars, mentioning 200 years of interventions in the Western hemisphere, Cuba, Philippines, Pacific War, Korea and Indochina. Then there is also the institutional knowledge built and disseminated by ?security co-operation?. Moreover, the US is trains many of the rest of the world's military leaders to conduct counterinsurgency at Fort Benning .)
The point is that you can't understand what the US does through the lens of war. It is very satisfying, no doubt, for young liberal reporters to outsmart generals (who clearly have no idea how to fight wars because they are just stupid Republicans), but it is seriously delusional. There is an instant exculpation given when these genocides are misrepresented as wars. It is very, very important for perpetrators of aggression or genocide (or both) to conceal their intentionality. The UK government and Tony Blair, in particular, showed far more concern with convincing people that they themselves believed in their fictitious casus belli, than with convincing people that Iraq really did have pose a threat. All of the British media seemed to echo the mantra that you might not agree with Blair but, ?no one can doubt his sincerity?. So for moral reasons, in order to end the impunity of the worlds worst war criminals, as well as for intellectual reasons we must grasp the nettle and begin using the term genocide.
There are many problematic areas in the subject of genocide. Sometimes it is hard to tell when war ends and genocide begins. It can be hard to tell where state repression becomes persecution and when persecution becomes genocide. Were not the Nuremburg Laws an epitome of what we now call apartheid? Is apartheid a form of slow genocide? Is there structural genocide? Should something only be called genocide if there are mass fatalities?
These are all important considerations and questions, but none of them are relevant here. The genocides I have referenced are absolute textbook cases of genocide. It is impossible to create a coherent and rational definition of the term ?genocide? which does not include these genocides.
These genocides were more demonstrably genocidal in nature than the Armenian Holocaust. We should always remember that for the Turkish government, and for most Turks, there was no such thing as a genocide of Armenians. In their own eyes they were fighting a war against Armenian insurgents. Sound familiar?
i In Orwell's allegory the 'Party' represented the 'educated' sector of society - people such as the central character Winston Smith, who worked as a journalist.
ii George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four . London: Penguin, 1983.
iii Jeremy Scahill, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army , London: Serpent's Tail, 2007, p 350.
iv Hy V. Luong, 'Postwar Vietnamese Society: An Overview of Transformational Dynamic' in Hy V. Luong (ed.), Postwar Vietnam: Dynamics of a Transforming Society . Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003, pp 12, 14.
v Nicholas Minot; Francesco Goletti, ' Export Liberalization and Household Welfare: The Case of Rice in Vietnam' in American Journal of Agricultural Economics , Vol. 80, No. 4. (Nov., 1998) , p 743. Minot and Goletti actually (to their own evident surprise) projected a slight overall drop in poverty, but they do so on the basis of changes in real income which do not take into account that rural persons are better able to acquire food without income expenditure. They also slightly underestimate the level of urbanisation - they use the 1990 figure of 20 per cent, when by the time of their writing the figure was over 23 per cent (Michael DiGregorio, A. Terry Rambo, Masayuki Yanagisawa, 'Clean, Green, and Beautiful: Environment and Development under the Renovation Economy' in Hy V. Luong (ed.), Postwar Vietnam: Dynamics of a Transforming Society . Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003, p 189.) and do not account for future urbanisation. Michel Chossudovsky suggests that the Vietnamese did, in the actual event, become considerably poorer (Michel Chossudovsky, The Globalisation of Poverty and the New World Order . Shanty Bay, Ontario: Global Outlook, 2003, p 168).
vi Marc Jason Gilbert, ?Introduction?, in Marc Jason Gilbert (ed), Why the North Won the Vietnam War. New York: Palgrave, 2002, p 26.
vii Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War, and US Political Culture . Boston: South End Press, 1993, p 30.
viii David Keen, Endless War? Hidden functions of the 'War on Terror' . London, Ann Arbor: Pluto Press, 2006, p 51.
ix Record, ?How America's Military Performance...?, in Gilbert (ed.), Why the North Won the Vietnam War , p 117.
x Harry G. Summers Jr., On Strategy: A critical analysis of the Vietnam War. New York: Presidio Press, 1995 (1982), p 103.
xi William Shawcross, Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia . London: Fontana, 1980 (1979 ) , p 220.
xii Ibid, pp 317-9.
xiii Ibid, p 149.
xiv Sorpong Peou, In tervention & Change in Cambodia: Towards Democracy? Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2000 , p 127.
xv Shawcross, Sideshow , p 163.
xvi Ben Kiernan, The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge . New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1996 , p 24.
xvii Ibid, p 19.
xviii Shawcross, Sideshow , p 186.
xix Ibid, pp 254-5.
xx Ibid, p 169.
xxi Nigel Cawthorne, Vietnam: A War Lost and Won . London: Arcturus Publishing, 2003 , p 213; Westmoreland, 'A Look Back'.
xxii Deborah Nelson, The War Behind Me: Vietnam Veterans Confront the Truth about U.S. War Crimes , New York: Basic Books, 2008, p 127.
xxiii Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian, Collateral Damage: America's War against Iraqi Civilians, New York: Nation Books, 2008, p xiii.
|September 27, 2013||
Shifting Wind And Rain, Drier Middle East And Wetter Monsoon Asia
As humans continue to heat the planet, a northward shift of Earth's wind and rain belts could make a broad swath of regions drier, including the Middle East, American West and Amazonia while making Monsoon Asia and equatorial Africa wetter, says a new study.
The study findings have been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study authors base their prediction on the warming that brought Earth out of the last ice age, some 15,000 years ago.
As the North Atlantic Ocean began to churn more vigorously, it melted Arctic sea ice, setting up a temperature contrast with the southern hemisphere where sea ice was expanding around Antarctica .
The temperature gradient between the poles appears to have pushed the tropical rain belt and mid-latitude jet stream north, redistributing water in two bands around the planet.
Today, with Arctic sea ice again in retreat, and the northern hemisphere heating up faster than the south, history could repeat itself.
"If the kinds of changes we saw during the deglaciation were to occur today that would have a very big impact," said the study's lead author, Wallace Broecker, a climate scientist at Columbia University 's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Marshaling climate data collected from around the world, from tree-rings, polar ice cores, cave formations, and lake and ocean sediments, Broecker and study coauthor, Aaron Putnam, a climate scientist at Lamont-Doherty, hypothesize that the wind and rain belts shifted north from about 14,600 years ago to 12,700 years ago as the northern hemisphere was heating up.
At the southern edge of the tropical rain belt, the great ancient Lake Tauca in the Bolivian Andes nearly dried up at this time while rivers in eastern Brazil slowed to a trickle and rain-fed stalagmites in the same region stopped growing. In the middle latitudes, the northward advance of the jet stream may have caused Lake Lisan , a precursor to the Dead Sea in Jordan 's Rift Valley, to shrink, along with several prehistoric lakes in the western US, including Lake Bonneville in present day Utah .
Meanwhile, a northward shift of the tropical rains recharged the rivers that drain Venezuela 's Cariaco Basin and East Africa's Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika . Stalagmites in China 's Hulu Cave grew bigger. Evidence for a stronger Asian monsoon during this time also shows up in the Greenland ice cores.
The process worked in reverse from about 1300 to 1850, the study authors hypothesize, as northern Europe transitioned from the relatively warm medieval era to a colder period known as the Little Ice Age. Ocean circulation slowed, and sea ice in the North Atlantic Ocean expanded, the climate record shows.
At the same time, rainfall declined in Monsoon Asia, leading to a series of droughts that have been linked to the decline of Cambodia 's ancient Khmer civilization, China 's Ming dynasty and the collapse of kingdoms in present day Vietnam , Myanmar and Thailand .
In the southern hemisphere, the reconstruction of glacier extents in New Zealand's Southern Alps suggests that the mid-latitudes may have been colder during medieval times, supporting the idea of a temperature contrast between the hemispheres that altered rain and wind patterns.
A similar migration of Earth's wind and rain belts happens each year. During boreal summer, the tropical rain belt and mid-latitude jet stream migrate north as the northern hemisphere heats up disproportionately to the south, with more continents to absorb the sun's energy. As the northern hemisphere cools off in winter, the winds and rains revert south.
Sometimes the winds and rains have rearranged themselves for longer periods of time. In the 1970s and 1980s, a southward shift of the tropical rain belt, attributed to air pollution cooling the northern hemisphere, is thought to have brought devastating drought to Africa's Sahel region.
The tropical rain belt has since reverted back, and may be moving north, the study authors say, as suggested by a number of recent droughts, including in Syria , northern China , western U.S. , and northeastern Brazil .
Consistent with the study, at least one climate model shows the tropical rain belt moving north as carbon dioxide levels climb and temperatures warm.
"It's really important to look at the paleo record," said Dargan Frierson, an atmospheric scientist at University of Washington whose modeling work supports the authors' hypothesis.
"Those changes were huge, just like we're expecting with global warming."
The study authors acknowledge that their hypothesis has some holes. In the past, changes in sea ice cover drove the temperature gradient between the two hemispheres while today rapidly rising industrial carbon emissions are responsible. So far, there is also no clear evidence that ocean circulation is increasing in the North Atlantic or that the monsoon rains over Asia are strengthening (though there is speculation that sulfate aerosols produced by burning fossil fuels may be masking this effect).
As air pollution in the northern hemisphere declines, temperatures may warm, creating the kind of temperature contrast that could move the winds and rains north again, said Jeff Severinghaus, a climate scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography who was not involved in the study.
"Sulfate aerosols will probably get cleaned up in the next few decades because of their effects on acid rain and health," he said. "So Broecker and Putnam are probably on solid ground in predicting that northern warming will eventually greatly exceed southern warming."
* Story Source:
The story is based on materials provided by The Earth Institute at Columbia University .
The Earth Institute at Columbia University (2013, September 23). Wind and rain belts to shift north as planet warms: Redistribution of rainfall could make Middle East, Western US and Amazonia drier. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 27, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2013/09/130923155540.htm
|September 27, 2013||
Destabilization Of Arctic Sea Ice Would Be Game Over For Climate
by Subhankar Banerjee , Climatestorytellers.org, Countercurrents.org
The Arctic sea ice is the most famous visual indicator of climate change. This year the climate deniers took the lead to explain what’s going on with the Arctic sea ice. “And now it’s global COOLING! Record return of Arctic ice cap as it grows by 60% in a year,” by David Rose in the Mail on Sunday, and “Global warming? No, actually we’re cooling, claim scientists” by Hayley Dixon in The Telegraph—both published on September 8—led the parade. Quoting all these irresponsible disinformation, on September 10, Greg Gutfeld of Fox News put an end to global warming with these words: “Global warming? Yes, it’s finally dead.”
Soon I’ll get to the science of Arctic sea ice. But first a few words about “climate zombies.”
Last year I participated as a panelist in The Anthropocene: Planet Earth in the Age of Humans symposium at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. I was on the panel “Energizing the Anthropocene: Science for Smart Decisions” with eminent climate scientist Dr. Richard Alley. Richard first gave a long view of global warming, and then provided a road map of how with a $1 trillion investment, the US can move away from fossil fuels entirely. He is a great communicator of climate science, especially when it comes to debunking the deniers’ bogus claims. I’ll pull some quotes from a talk he gave earlier this year in June at an American Geophysical Union–Chapman conference “Communicating Climate Science: A Historic Look to the Future” at the Snow Mountain Ranch in Granby, Colorado. His remarkable solo act is a journey through his own life and explains in less than three minutes—how climate zombies can survive on this earth, and keep reappearing.
Richard Alley (June 2013): This particular climate zombie is back in force again. While warming continued, the “global warming stopped” had a new birth of noise.
Then he shows a map of global temperature data from 1957 to now, from the Goddard Institute of Space Studies.
RA: Is it getting warmer? Yes. If you take a long enough interval, it’s up.
He then explains how the climate zombies can keep saying—global warming stopped, it’s cooling.
RA: I was born in 1957. There is the data from 1957 up to a little later. The regression line through the data, and you can see I was born—at the start of a cooling trend.
RA: I married my dear wife Cindy in 1980. We got married—at the start of a cooling trend.
RA: We moved to Penn State in 1988—at the start of a cooling trend.
RA: We came here to show our daughters the mountains here [in Colorado] in 1997—at the start of a cooling trend.
RA: They named a glacier after me in 2002—at the start of a short but steep cooling trend.
RA: Our daughter became a Penn Stater in 2005—at the start of a cooling trend.
RA: So my whole life…[big laugh]
When you look at the map you see that the temperature steadily went up from 1957 till now, but had many local minima that Richard Alley refers to as “start of a cooling trend.” He then gives an astute career advice to aspiring climate zombies.
RA: If there is a year of rapid warming, shut up! And then you can go right back to claiming global warming stopped, until the next rapid warming, then shut up, then go right back to claiming global warming stopped…ad infinitum!
This time the Arctic sea ice reporting by the climate zombies was quickly debunked: “No, the World Isn’t Cooling” by Phil Plait on Slate, “No, Arctic Sea Ice Has not Recovered, Scientists Say” by Andrew Freedman on Climate Central, “With Climate Journalism Like This, Who Needs Fiction?” by Tom Yulsman on Discover Magazine—are just a few examples.
“[Arctic sea ice extent] certainly is continuing the long–term decline,” Julienne Stroeve, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder was quoted in a Guardian article. “We are looking at long–term changes and there are going to be bumps and wiggles along the long–term declining trend, but all the climate models are showing that we are eventually going to lose all of that summer sea ice.”
According to the NSIDC the 1979 to 2000 average of the minimum Arctic sea ice extent was 2.59 million square miles, 2007 (1.61), 2008 (1.77), 2009 (1.98), 2010 (1.79), 2011 (1.67), 2012 (1.32), 2013 (1.97). You can see that in two successive years, 2008 and 2009 the number went up a bit from 2007, but then three years in a row, starting in 2010 it went down reaching the lowest ever recorded in 2012, and now it’s back up a bit but still 24% less than the 1979–2000 average. This is what Julienne Stroeve refers to as “bumps and wiggles along the long–term declining trend.” But the most worrisome part of Stroeve’s statement is that “we are eventually going to lose all of that summer sea ice.” When that happens, life on earth will be in very serious trouble. So we need to understand all aspects of the significance of the Arctic sea ice and why we shouldn’t contribute further to its disintegration.
The enormous white surface of the Arctic sea ice reflects back solar radiation. But when the sea ice is replaced by dark water it does the reverse, absorbs solar radiation, which in turn contributes to the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet (which would raise the sea level), thawing of permafrost on tundra (which would release methane trapped in soil), and destabilization of the subsea permafrost (which would release methane trapped in methane hydrates or clathrates). Methane as a greenhouse gas is 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20–year period. A complete loss of summer sea ice could potentially release huge amount of Arctic methane that might lead to a catastrophic climate change event, even possibly akin to the end–Permian extinction 252 million years ago that wiped out more than 90% of life on earth.
So our goal should be—to not add salt to the injury.
Dr. James Hansen has repeatedly warned that if Canada’s tar sands were fully exploited it would be “game over” for the climate. A complete destabilization of the Arctic sea ice would also be—game over for the climate.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s National Strategy for the Arctic Region that was released in May is a disaster in the making. The document states: “The region holds sizable proved and potential oil and natural gas resources that will likely continue to provide valuable supplies to meet U.S. energy needs.” It’s referring to the oil and gas that sits underneath the Arctic seabed in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas of Alaska. In 2012, the Obama administration ignored science and all concerns of the indigenous Iñupiat communities, and gave Shell the approval to begin exploratory drilling (only top–hole drilling and not to penetrate the oil bearing zones) in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. In February, Shell announced that after both its rigs, Noble Discoverer and Kulluk, suffered heavy damage last year and were cited for EPA violations, it would not drill in Alaska’s Arctic waters in 2013. Shell’s Arctic drilling operation is in limbo right now. “Six months after federal officials chastised Shell Oil for its faulty offshore drilling operations in the Arctic, the company has yet to explain what safeguards it has put in place or when it plans to resume exploring for oil in the vulnerable region,” the Los Angeles Times reported on September 25. Shell has not yet applied to drill in Alaska’s Arctic seas in 2014.
This is a good time to reflect on drilling in the Arctic Ocean as it relates to sea ice. Drilling in Arctic seas will result in gas flaring, which emits black carbon that absorbs solar radiation and will speed up melting of the Arctic sea ice. We need to connect a few dots about gas flaring.
Professor Rob Nixon wrote in Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor: “Children, moreover, who had no access to electricity to read or learn by also had no experience of night, as they lived 24/7 beneath the blazing false sun of interminable flares, as if in some seasonless equatorial rendition of an Arctic summer. In the mid–90s, when flaring [from Shell and Chevron pipes] from Nigeria’s oil fields was pumping 12 million tons of methane and 35 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, it was argued by some that this was the single greatest contributor worldwide to climate change.”
Iñupiaq cultural activist Rosemary Ahtuangaruak wrote in her testimony in Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point (that I edited) that in her community, Nuiqsut in Arctic Alaska, between 1986 and 1997 there was “a 600 percent increase in respiratory patients in a village of 400 people.” As a community health aide, she was able to analyze the cause: “What was contributing to this increase in respiratory illnesses? The most overwhelming issue was that oil development around Nuiqsut had increased, and had gotten closer. The worst nights on call were nights when many natural gas flares occurred. Those flares release particles that traveled to us. Increased concentrations of particulate matter from flares occur during inversions, a bowl–like trap, with cold air trapped by warm air.”
And skies are now ablaze over the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota. Citing a report published by Ceres, Lauren McCauley wrote on Common Dreams in July: “Bright torches of natural gas are to become an ever–more common sight along the horizon of North Dakota as the environmentally devastating practice of flaring, or burning off natural gas as a byproduct of oil production, continues to skyrocket.”
Moreover, the Ceres report states, “a variety of other hazardous pollutants are generated by the process, including black carbon, another potent driver of climate change with adverse health effects.” The report also explains why the natural gas is flared off: “At current market rates, oil is approximately 30 times more valuable than natural gas. As a result, producers have chosen to flare much of the gas they produce, rather than invest in the infrastructure necessary to collect, process and market it.”
With all that, you can see, when Shell finally resumes drilling operation in the Arctic Ocean (let’s make sure that never happens), there will be flaring, lot of flaring. If it doesn’t make sense to invest “in the infrastructure necessary to collect, process and market” the natural gas in the benign environment of the Bakken oil fields, it will never make sense to invest in such infrastructure in the harsh environment in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. Shell will get their oil and flare off the gas—and contribute to rapid disintegration of the Arctic sea ice—perhaps taking us toward the end–Permian extinction, a bit sooner than we have to.
In a piece about the recent floods in Colorado I pointed out that not only do we need to connect dots across geographies, as I’ve done here with gas flaring, but we also need to carefully look at—repeated assaults—in a particular geography. As I wrote, in the last decade and a half Colorado (and its neighbor New Mexico) has gone through three major assaults—massive tree deaths, massive wildfires, and now massive floods—each in turn has been called “the worst natural disaster” the region has seen. Each in turn has also made the next one worse—millions of dead trees made the wildfires worse, and we are now learning that the wildfires are making the floods worse. The human and nonhuman communities in the Arctic are suffering from repeated assaults—climate change and pollution—perhaps more than on any other region on earth. To understand this we need to take a long view of what sociologist Ramachandra Guha had called “struggles against environmental degradation” and “struggles for environmental renewal.”
As I was writing this piece, news arrived—drones are now flying above the Chukchi Sea in Arctic Alaska. In a future piece I’ll write about the militarization of the Arctic.
Thursday morning I received an email from the Alaska Wilderness League: “So far, 500,000 of you have signed a petition asking President Obama to keep Big Oil from drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Today, 15 (costumed) polar bears and volunteers will deliver your 500,000 comments directly to the White House.” Many more people—from all across the political spectrum need to join this fight. The disintegration of the Arctic will lead to a devastated earth.
Subhankar Banerjee is a photographer, writer, and activist. His most recent book Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point will be published in paperback on October 8 (Seven Stories Press). He was recently Director’s Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, Distinguished Visiting Professor at Fordham University in New York, received Distinguished Alumnus Award from the New Mexico State University, and Cultural Freedom Award from Lannan Foundation.
Copyright 2013 Subhankar Banerjee
|September 27, 2013||
Human Influence On Climate Clear, IPCC Report Says
by Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, Ipcc.ch, Countercurrents.org
STOCKHOLM, 27 September - Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident in most regions of the globe, a new assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes.
It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. The evidence for this has grown, thanks to more and better observations, an improved understanding of the climate system response and improved climate models.
Warming in the climate system is unequivocal and since 1950 many changes have been observed throughout the climate system that are unprecedented over decades to millennia. Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850, reports the Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Working Group I assessment report, Climate Change 2013: the Physical Science Basis, approved on Friday by member governments of the IPCC in Stockholm, Sweden.
“Observations of changes in the climate system are based on multiple lines of independent evidence. Our assessment of the science finds that the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased,” said Qin Dahe, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I. Thomas Stocker, the other Co-Chair of Working Group I said: "Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions." “Global surface temperature change for the end of the 21st century is projected to be likely to exceed 1.5°C relative to 1850 to 1900 in all but the lowest scenario considered, and likely to exceed 2°C for the two high scenarios,” said Co-Chair Thomas Stocker. “Heat waves are very likely to occur more frequently and last longer. As the Earth warms, we expect to see currently wet regions receiving more rainfall, and dry regions receiving less, although there will be exceptions,” he added. Projections of climate change are based on a new set of four scenarios of future greenhouse gas concentrations and aerosols, spanning a wide range of possible futures. The Working Group I report assessed global and regional-scale climate change for the early, mid-, and later 21st century. “As the ocean warms, and glaciers and ice sheets reduce, global mean sea level will continue to rise, but at a faster rate than we have experienced over the past 40 years,” said Co-Chair Qin Dahe. The report finds with high confidence that ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010.
Co-Chair Thomas Stocker concluded: “As a result of our past, present and expected future emissions of CO2, we are committed to climate change, and effects will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 stop.”
Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC, said: “This Working Group I Summary for Policymakers provides important insights into the scientific basis of climate change. It provides a firm foundation for considerations of the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems and ways to meet the challenge of climate change.” These are among the aspects assessed in the contributions of Working Group II and Working Group III to be released in March and April 2014. The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report cycle concludes with the publication of its Synthesis Report in October 2014. “I would like to thank the Co-Chairs of Working Group I and the hundreds of scientists and experts who served as authors and review editors for producing a comprehensive and scientifically robust summary. I also express my thanks to the more than one thousand expert reviewers worldwide for contributing their expertise in preparation of this assessment,” said IPCC Chair Pachauri.
See separate Fact Sheet of Headline Statements from the WGI AR5 Summary for Policymakers, available at http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/uploads/WGIAR5-SPM_Approved27Sep2013.pdf
Working Group I is co-chaired by Qin Dahe of the China Meteorological Administration, Beijing, China, and Thomas Stocker of the University of Bern, Switzerland. The Technical Support Unit of Working Group I is hosted by the University of Bern and funded by the Government of Switzerland. At the 28th Session of the IPCC held in April 2008, the members of the IPCC decided to prepare a Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). A Scoping Meeting was convened in July 2009 to develop the scope and outline of the AR5. The resulting outlines for the three Working Group contributions to the AR5 were approved at the 31st Session of the IPCC in October 2009.
The Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC WGI AR5 was approved at the Twelfth Session of IPCC Working Group I meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, 23 to 26 September 2013 and was released on 27 September.
The Final Draft of the Working Group I report (version distributed to governments on 7 June 2013), including the Technical Summary, 14 chapters and an Atlas of Global and Regional Climate Projections, will be released online in unedited form on Monday 30 September. Following copyediting, layout, final checks for errors, and adjustments for changes in the Summary for Policymakers, the full report of Working Group I will be published online in January 2014 and in book form by Cambridge University Press a few months later.
The Working Group I assessment comprises some 2,500 pages of text and draws on millions of observations and over 2 million gigabytes of numerical data from climate model simulations. Over 9,200 scientific publications are cited, more than three quarters of which have been published since the last IPCC assessment in 2007.
In this IPCC assessment report, specific terms are used to indicate the assessed likelihood of an outcome or a result. For those terms used above: virtually certain means 99–100% probability, extremely likely: 95–100%, very likely: 90–100%, likely: 66–100%. For more information see the
IPCC uncertainty guidance note: https://www.ipcc-wg1.unibe.ch/guidancepaper/ar5_uncertaintyguidance-note.pdf
For more information, contact:
|September 29, 2013||
Global Climate Injustice: Massive European Carbon Debt Versus South Asian Carbon Credit
by Dr Gideon Polya , Countercurrents.org
Neoliberals dishonestly claim trickle down benefits for the masses from maximizing freedom for the smart and advantaged to exploit natural resources. The neoliberals ignore the worsening problem of Carbon Debt due to pollution of the world's one common atmosphere with CO2 that can now be estimated at a value of $127 trillion or roughly 2 years of global GDP. Massive European Climate Debt contrasts with the huge Carbon Credit of the major South Asian countries.
Top climate scientists and biologists say that a safe and sustainable existence for all peoples and all species on our warming-threatened Planet requires a relatively rapid reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration to about 300 parts per million (300 ppm) from the current level of about 400 ppm CO2. 300 ppm CO2 had not been exceeded for about 1 million years until after the onset of the Industrial Revolution and what is now called the Anthropocene Era in view of the massive concomitant mass extinction of species, the species extinction rate now being 100-1,000 times above normal [1, 2].
Repayment of this enormous Carbon Debt requires a rapid switch to the best non-carbon and renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tide and hydro options that are currently roughly the same market price as coal burning-based power) and to energy efficiency, public transport, needs-based production, re-afforestation and return of carbon as biochar to soils and oxygen-free underground storage coupled with correspondingly rapid cessation of fossil fuel burning, deforestation, methanogenic livestock production and population growth. However simple removal of CO2 from the atmosphere to circa 300 ppm CO2 is insufficient because a huge amount of CO2 has ended up in the oceans.
Thus Long Cao and Ken Caldeira ( Stanford University ) (2010): ?Carbon capture from ambient air has been proposed as a mitigation strategy to counteract anthropogenic climate change. We use an Earth system model to investigate the response of the coupled climate?carbon system to an instantaneous removal of all anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere. In our extreme and idealized simulations, anthropogenic CO2 emissions are halted and all anthropogenic CO2 is removed from the atmosphere at year 2050 under the IPCC A2 CO2 emission scenario when the model-simulated atmospheric CO2 reaches 511 ppm and surface temperature reaches 1.8 ?C above the pre-industrial level. In our simulations a one-time removal of all anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere reduces surface air temperature by 0.8 ?C within a few years, but 1 ?C surface warming above pre-industrial levels lasts for several centuries. In other words, a one-time removal of 100% excess CO2 from the atmosphere offsets less than 50% of the warming experienced at the time of removal. To maintain atmospheric CO2 and temperature at low levels, not only does anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere need to be removed, but anthropogenic CO2 stored in the ocean and land needs to be removed as well when it outgasses to the atmosphere. In our simulation to maintain atmospheric CO2 concentrations at pre-industrial levels for centuries, an additional amount of CO2 equal to the original CO2 captured would need to be removed over the subsequent 80 years? .
Various methods have been proposed for removing atmospheric CO2 from past or continuing pollution including (with critiques in parenthesis):
(a) Carbon Capture and Storage or Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) underground of CO2 from power stations ( widely touted but not presently commercially feasible );
(b) similar storage of power station-derived CO2 in the deep ocean (similarly costly in relation to compression and also contraindicated by associated ocean acidification deadly to calcifying photosynthetic and animal organisms with calcium carbonate-based exteriors e.g. coccolithophore algae, corals, foraminifera, echinoderms, crustaceans and molluscs);
(c) use to generate biomass through photosynthesis in associated algal ponds (huge expense and incomplete CO2 removal );
(d) fertilization of oceans to promote photosynthetic fixation of CO2 into biomass (huge cost and massive global ecosystem disruption with unknown consequences);
(e) biological removal of CO2 as cellulose in tree trunks and as carbon compounds in the soil (clearly a major part of the solution but there are limits to re-afforestation and soil carbon storage; there is presently about 700 Gt C in biomass (mostly wood) and 1,600 Gt C in soil as humus; SE Australian Eucalyptus regnans forests are the best forest carbon sinks in the world);
(f) relatively cheap CO2 sequestration as bicarbonate in oceans through Accelerated Weathering of Limestone (AWL) by scrubbing power plant emissions in sea water plus limestone ( CaCO 3 ) (compression costs would make more general application to removing CO2 from the atmosphere even more expensive ? however in the context of a presently existing and unfortunately entrenched and dominant carbon economy this mechanism is important ); and
(g) biochar (carbon, charcoal) production and storage through anaerobic pyrolysis at 400-700C of waste biomass cellulosic materials - the annual biochar production using existing agricultural and forestry waste would be similar to the amount of carbon pollution produced annually by industry.
The latter 2 mechanisms are amplified below.
(1) Accelerated Weathering of Limestone (AWL).
The waste gas from burning coal or gas is passed through a sea water-limestone ( CaCO 3 ) scrubber with the following reaction: CO 2 (gas) + CaCO 3 (solid) + H 2 O <-> Ca 2+ (aqueous) + 2 HCO 3- (aqueous) . The scrubbing solution is then piped to the sea. Carbon in the oceans as bicarbonate is 10 times that in all recoverable fossil fuel reserves and about 60 times that in the CO2 in the atmosphere. The carbon in carbonate minerals is about 4,000 times greater than the carbon in oil and coal fossil fuel reserves and the AWL process would in part reverse the deleterious acidification the oceans due to the massive CO2 pollution of the atmosphere [5, 6].
Dr G.H. Rau ( Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz, and Carbon Management Program, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory ) (2011): ? A lab-scale seawater/mineral carbonate gas scrubber was found to remove up to 97% of CO 2 in a simulated flue gas stream at ambient temperature and pressure, with a large fraction of this carbon ultimately converted to dissolved calcium bicarbonate. After full equilibration with air, up to 85% of the captured carbon was retained in solution, that is, it did not degas or precipitate. Thus, above-ground CO 2 hydration and mineral carbonate scrubbing may provide a relatively simple point-source CO 2 capture and storage scheme at coastal locations. Such low-tech CO 2 mitigation could be especially relevant for retrofitting to existing power plants and for deployment in the developing world, the primary source of future CO 2 emissions. Addition of the resulting alkaline solution to the ocean may benefit marine ecosystems that are currently threatened by acidification, while also allowing the utilization of the vast potential of the sea to safely sequester anthropogenic carbon. This approach in essence hastens Nature's own very effective but slow CO 2 mitigation process; carbonate mineral weathering is a major consumer of excess atmospheric CO 2 and ocean acidity on geologic times scales ? .
For minimum cost, this method would require ready access to limestone ( CaCO 3 ) and the sea and application to the waste gas from fossil fuel combustion in power stations, noting that ideally the world will shift to 100% renewable energy as soon as possible [8-10]. Estimated costs depending closeness to sea water and limestone range up to $40 per tonne CO2 sequestered as ocean bicarbonate  . However this route, while a potentially valuable mechanism for CO2 reduction in the context of an existing mainly carbon burning -based economy, would be much more expensive due to compression costs if applied to atmospheric CO2 in general.
Biochar is a major element of required actions to draw down atmospheric CO2 concentration to a safe and sustainable level of about 300 ppm, as perceived by top US climate scientist Professor James Hansen and his colleagues: ?Carbon sequestration in soil also has significant potential. Biochar, produced in pyrolysis of residues from crops, forestry, and animal wastes, can be used to restore soil fertility while storing carbon from centuries to millennia . Biochar helps soil retain nutrients and fertilizers, reducing emissions of GHGs such as N 2 O. Replacing slash-and-burn agriculture with slash-and-char and use of agricultural and forestry wastes for biochar production could provide a CO 2 drawdown of ~8 ppm in half a century.? .
Atmospheric CO2 can be reduced from the current 400 ppm CO2 back to a safe and sustainable 300 ppm CO2 by fixing CO2 as cellulose via solar-energy-driven photosynthesis (nCO 2 + nH 2 O -> (CH 2 O) n + O 2 ) with subsequent anaerobic pyrolysis of cellulosic material (e.g. waste wood and straw) to yield carbon (C, charcoal) ((CH 2 O) n -> nC + n H 2 O).which can then be added to soil or buried in holes in the ground (e.g. in used coal mines). Thus p224, Progress in Thermochemical Biomass Conversion, volume 1, IAE Bioenergy, ed. A. V. Bridgewater (Blackwell Science) informs us that we could obtain 1.7 Gt C/yr (straw from agriculture) + 4.2 Gt C/yr (total grass upgrowth from grasslands upgrowth) + 6 Gt C/yr (possible sustainable wood harvest) = 11.9 Gt C/yr [13, 14]. From this one can see why biochar expert Professor Johannes Lehmann of Cornell University is correct in calculating that it is realistically possible to fix 9.5 billion tonnes of carbon per year using biochar, noting that global annual production of carbon from fossil fuels is about 9 billlion tonnes [15-17].
(3) Carbon Debt and biochar.
There is about 700-750 Gt C in the atmosphere (mostly as 750 x 3.7 = 2775 Gt CO 2 ; half due to historical fossil fuel combustion); 700 Gt C in biomass (mostly wood); 1,600 Gt C in soil; 36,000 Gt C in ocean as bicarbonate ion (HCO 3 - ); and no net CO 2 from vulcanism and weathering (time scale < 100,000 years) [18, 19]. A biochar-based return to the pre-Industrial Revolution atmospheric level of 280 ppm CO2 would mean removing about half the atmospheric CO2 i.e. 2,775 Gt CO2/2 = 1,388 Gt CO2 ( = 1,388 / 3.7 = 375 Gt C ) as biochar at a maximum rate of about 12 Gt C per year i.e. taking about 30 years.
The cost of conversion of cellulosic waste to biochar in the US mid-West is about $49-$74 per tonne CO2 as compared to $210-$303 per tonne CO2 in the UK . Removing 1,388 Gt CO2 as biochar at a cost of about $100 per tonne CO2 = $138, 800 billion = $139 trillion or about 2 years of global GDP. The annual Carbon Debt of various key countries in terms of the cost of removal of CO2 as biochar is set out below.
(A). The GDP of some key countries in descending order of GDP (IMF data) was $71.7 trillion (the World), $16.6 trillion (EU), $15.7 trillion (US), $8.23 trillion (China), $6.00 trillion (Japan), $3.40 trillion (Germany), $2.61 trillion (France), $2.44 trillion (UK), $2.40 trillion (Brazil), $2.02 trillion (Russia) $2.01 trillion (Italy), $1.82 trillion (India), $1.82 trillion (Canada), $1.54 trillion (Australia), $0.88 trillion (Indonesia), $0.38 trillion (South Africa), $0.27 trillion (Nigeria), $0.23 trillion (Pakistan), and $0.15 trillion (Bangladesh) .
(B), The populations of these key countries in millions (circa 2013) are 7,113.7 (the World), 739.2 (EU), 316.7 (US), 1,360.1 (China), 127.3 (Japan), 80.5 (Germany), 65.7 (France), 63.7 (UK), 201.0 (Brazil), 143.5 (Russia), 59.7 (Italy), 1,234.4 (India), 35.2 (Canada), 23.2 (Australia), 237.6 (Indonesia), 53.0 (South Africa), 173.6 (Nigeria), 184.3 (Pakistan), and 152.5 (Bangladesh) .
The annual global GHG pollution has been revised by World Bank experts up from 41.8 Gt CO2-e to 63.8 Gt CO2-e., this revision taking into account a Global Warming Potential of 72 for methane on a 20 year timeframe (while actually 105 on this time frame taking aerosol effects into account as compared to 21 on a 100 year time frame) and reconsideration of livestock impacts including livestock-related land use . For consistency of data, we will take the lower figure in (C) below.
(C). The annual GHG pollution for various countries in billion tonnes (Gt) CO2-e (2005; land use included) are: 41.80 (the World), 5.33 (EU), 6.93 (US), 7.23 (China), 1.39 (Japan), 1.01 (Germany), 0.58 (France), 0.68 (UK), 2.85 (Brazil), 2.01 (Russia), 0.58 (Italy), 1.88 (India), 0.81 (Canada), 0.57 (Australia), 2.04 (Indonesia), 0.43 (South Africa), 0.45 (Nigeria), 0.24 (Pakistan), 0.14 (Bangladesh) .
(D). The annual per capita GHG pollution of these countries using the above data is accordingly roughly (in units of tonnes CO2-e per person per year) 5.9 (the World), 7.2 (EU), 21.9 (US), 5.3 (China), 10.9 (Japan), 12.5 (Germany), 8.8 (France), 10.7 (UK), 14.2 (Brazil), 14.0 (Russia), 9.7 (Italy), 1.5 (India), 23.0 (Canada), 24.6 (Australia), 8.6 (Indonesia), 8.1 (South Africa), 2.6 (Nigeria), 1.3 (Pakistan), and 0.9 (Bangladesh).
Assuming a cost of about $100 per tonne CO2 converted to biochar, one can accordingly calculate the annual Carbon Debt being run up by our set of key countries.
(E). The annual Carbon Debt on the basis of biochar-based CO2 sequestration at $100 per tonne CO2 is $4,180 billion (the World), $533 billion (EU), $693 billion (US), $723 billion (China), $139 billion (Japan), $101 billion (Germany), $58 billion (France), $68 billion (UK), $285 billion (Brazil), $201 billion (Russia), $58 billion (Italy), $188 billion (India), $81 billion (Canada), $57 billion (Australia), $204 billion (Indonesia), $43 billion (South Africa), $45 billion (Nigeria), $24 billion (Pakistan), and $14 billion (Bangladesh).
(F) The annual Carbon Debt as a percentage of country or region GDP is accordingly 5.8% (the World), 3.2% (EU), 4.4% (US), 8.8% (China), 2.3% (Japan), 3.0% (Germany), 2.2% billion (France), 2.8% (UK), 11.9% (Brazil), 10.0% (Russia), 2.9% (Italy), 10.3% (India), 4.5% (Canada), 3.7% (Australia), 23.2% (Indonesia), 11.3% (South Africa), 16.7% (Nigeria), 10.4% (Pakistan), and 9.3% (Bangladesh).
(G). The per capita annual Carbon Debt on the basis of biochar-based CO2 sequestration is $588 (the World), $721 (EU), $2,188 (US), $532 (China), $1,092 (Japan), $1,255 (Germany), $883 (France), $1,068 (UK), $1,418 (Brazil), $1,401 (Russia), $972 (Italy), $152 (India), $2,301 (Canada), $2,457 (Australia), $859 (Indonesia), $811 (South Africa), $259 (Nigeria), $130 (Pakistan), and $92 (Bangladesh).
The historical Carbon Debt for all countries in the world can also be roughly determined. Thus in a 2008 letter to Australian PM Kevin Rudd, NASA's Dr James Hansen provided data on country and region percentage responsibility for 346 Gt C (1,270 Gt CO2) fossil fuel-derived CO2 pollution between 1751 and 2006 :
(H), The historical Carbon Debt for key countries (1750-2006) has been expressed in US dollars at $100 per tonne CO2 sequestered as biochar: $127.000 trillion (the World), $40.480 trillion (EU), $36.377 trillion (US), $10.845 trillion (China), $5.156 trillion (Japan), $8.731 trillion (Germany); $3.369 trillion (France), $7.938 trillion (UK), $1.041 trillion (Brazil), $9.788 trillion (Russia), $3.196 trillion (Italy), $3.307 trillion (India), $2.052 trillion (Canada), $2.052 trillion (Australia), $1.241 trillion (Indonesia), $0.272 trillion (South Africa), $0.896 trillion (Nigeria), $0.943 trillion (Pakistan), and $0.813 trillion (Bangladesh) .
(I) Per capita historical Carbon Debt for our key countries is as follows: $17,853 (the World), $54,762 (EU), $114,863 (US), $7,974 (China), $40,503 (Japan), $108,460 (Germany); $51,279 (France), $124,615 (UK), $5,179 (Brazil), $68,209 (Russia), $53,534 (Italy), $2,679 (India), $58,295 (Canada), $88,448 (Australia), $5,223 (Indonesia), $5,132 (South Africa), $5,161 (Nigeria), $5,116 (Pakistan), and $5,331 (Bangladesh).
However if one assumes that a return to 300 ppm is unattainable (I certainly do not) then one should consider the estimate of the WBGU (that advises the German Government on climate change) that for a 75% chance of avoiding a 2C temperature rise the world can emit no more than 600 Gt CO2 between 2010 and zero emissions in 2050. Each country would thus have a notional ?share? of this terminal GHG pollution ?budget? and from current pollution data one can calculate on a per capita basis the remaining Carbon Credit expressed in terms of biochar-based cost of CO2 removal. This has been done by multiplying estimates of ?years left? at current rates by the permitted average of about 2.1 tonnes CO2 per person per year [26, 27].
(J). Per capita Carbon Credit expressed in US dollars at $100 per tonne CO2 sequesterable as biochar: $7,800 (the World), $949 (EU), $21 (US), $3,268 (China), $780 (Japan), $611 (Germany), $1,118 (France), $759 (UK), $548 (Brazil), $485 (Russia), $1,102 (Italy), $7,823 (India), $0.0 (Canada), minus $127 (Australia), $380 (Indonesia), $843 (South Africa), $3,964 (Nigeria), $5,967 (Pakistan), and $16,257 (Bangladesh). Note that Australia and Canada have already used up their ?fair shares? and are now stealing the entitlement of all other countries.
(K). Per capita Net Carbon Debt = per capita Carbon Debt (I) minus per capita Carbon Credit ((J): $10,058 (the World), $53,813 (EU), $114,842 (US), $4,706 (China), $39,723 (Japan), $107,849 (Germany), $50,161 (France), $123,856 (UK), $4,631 (Brazil), $67,724 (Russia), $55,522 (Italy), minus $5,144 (India), $58,295 (Canada), $88,575 (Australia), $4,843 (Indonesia), $4,289 (South Africa), $1,192 (Nigeria), minus $851 (Pakistan), and minus $10,926 (Bangladesh). Note that India , Pakistan and Bangladesh have negative Carbon Debt i.e. they have positive Carbon Credits.
(L). Total Carbon Debt in trillions of dollars can be calculated from the data in (K) by simply multiplying by the country or region population i.e. multiplying (B) by (K): $71.550 trillion (the World), $39.768 trillion (EU), $36.370 trillion (US), $6.401 trillion (China), $5.057 trillion (Japan), $9.167 trillion (Germany), $3.296 trillion (France), $7.890 trillion (UK), $0.973 trillion (Brazil), $9.718 trillion (Russia), $3.315 trillion (Italy), minus $6.350 trillion (India), $2,052 trillion (Canada), $2.055 trillion (Australia), $1,151 trillion (Indonesia), $0.227 trillion (South Africa), $0.207 trillion (Nigeria), minus $0.157 trillion (Pakistan), and minus $1.666 trillion (Bangladesh). Note that India , Pakistan and Bangladesh have negative Carbon Debts i.e. they have positive Carbon Credits.
If this analysis has not been presented above for your country, you can readily do it using the steps outlined above. Is your country a Carbon Debtor (like the US , Canada and Australia ) or a Carbon Creditor (like India , Pakistan and Bangladesh )?
Assessment of the biochar-based cost of returning the atmospheric CO2 concentration from the current dangerous 400 ppm CO2 to a safe and sustainable 300 ppm CO2 reveals a staggering world Historical Carbon debt of $127 trillion, about twice the annual GDP of the whole World, with the major contributors being the EU (31.9%), the US (28.6%), China (8.5%) and Russia (7.7%).
In terms of biochar-based per capita Historical Carbon Debt, the worst polluters have been the US, the EU countries, Russia, Japan, Canada and Australia. Yet these are also the worst countries in terms of current annual per capita greenhouse gas pollution ? thus the world average is 5.9 tonnes CO2-e per person per year but the US, the EU countries, Russia, Japan, Canada, Australia, Indonesia, and South Africa are well above this, China is slightly below the average, and India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Bangladesh fall well below the average.
The countries of the world fall into 2 categories ? the Carbon Debtors (notably the US , Canada and Australia ) and the Carbon Creditors (notably India , Pakistan and Bangladesh ). The European countries in general and Japan have left an appalling Carbon Debt for future generations in their own countries and around the world. This represents an appalling example of intergenerational inequity and intergenerational injustice.
Since we have a global capitalist economy based on the bottom line that debts must be repaid, people in the Developing World and China should insist that the Carbon Debt is paid in full by those responsible for it. Those climate criminal leaders and countries unwilling (a) to end their disproportionately high greenhouse gas pollution or (b) to pay their huge Carbon Debt should face exposure, Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), Green Tariffs, sporting bans, litigation before the International Court of Justice and arraignment before the International Criminal Court. The climate criminals must be held accountable by young people in particular and by future generations. The world economy can no longer be based on theft and mendacity.
. Phillip Levin, Donald Levin, ?The real biodiversity crisis?, American Scientist, January-February 2002: http://www.americanscientist.org/issues/pub/the-real-biodiversity-crisis .
. ?300.org ? return atmosphere CO2 to 300 ppm?, 300.org: http://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/300-org---return-atmosphere-co2-to-300-ppm .
. Long Cao and Ken Caldeira, ?Atmospheric carbon dioxide removal: long-term consequences and commitment?, Environmental Research Letters, 5(2) (2010): http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/5/2/024011 .
. ?Carbon capture and storage?, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_capture_and_storage .
. Ken Caldeira and Greg H. Rau, ?Accelerating carbonate dissolution to sequester carbon dioxide in the ocean: geochemical implications?, Geophysical Research Letters, 27 (2), 225-226 (2000): http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/1999GL002364/abstract .
. Greg H. Rau, Ken Caldeira, Kevin G. Knauss, Bill Downs and Hamid Sarv, ?Enhanced carbonate dissolution as a means of capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide?, First National Conference on Carbon Sequestration, Washington DC, May 14-17, 2000: http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/proceedings/01/carbon_seq/p24.pdf .
. G.H. Rau, ?CO2 mitigation via capture and chemical conversion in seawater?, Environ Sci Technol 45:1088?1092, 2011: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es102671x .
. IPCC, ?Summary for policymakers?, 2013: http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/uploads/WGIAR5-SPM_Approved27Sep2013.pdf .
. ?100% renewable energy by 2020?: https://sites.google.com/site/100renewableenergyby2020/ .
. ?Cut carbon emissions 80% by 2020?: https://sites.google.com/site/cutcarbonemissions80by2020/ .
. Kevin Bullis, ?Capturing and storing carbon dioxide in one simple step?, MIT Technology Review, 20 September 2013: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/519406/capturing-and-storing-carbon-dioxide-in-one-simple-step/ .
. James Hansen et al, (2007), ?Target atmospheric CO 2 : where should humanity aim??, Open Atmos. Sci. J. (2008), vol. 2, pp. 217-231 : http://arxiv.org/abs/0804.1126 and http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/2008/TargetCO2_20080407.pdf .
. Progress in Thermochemical Biomass Conversion, volume 1, IAE Bioenergy, ed. A. V. Bridgewater (Blackwell Science): http://books.google.com.au/books?id=rdqGX0LEg7sC&pg=PA224&lpg=PA224&dq=Gt++
. Gideon Polya, ? Forest biomass-derived Biochar can profitably reduce global warming and bushfire risk?, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group: https://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/forest-biomass-derived-biochar-can-profitably-reduce-global-warming-and-bushfire-risk .
. Alok Jha, ??Biochar' goes industrial with giant microwaves to lock carbon in charcoal?, Guardian (13 March 2009): http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/13/charcoal-carbon .
. Johannes Lehmann, Biochar for mitigating climate change: carbon sequestration in the black?: http://www.geooekologie.de/download_forum/forum_2007_2_spfo072b.pdf .
. "James Lovelock on Biochar: let the Earth remove CO2 for us", UK Guardian, 24 March 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/mar/24/biochar-earth-c02 .
. ?2011 Climate change course?: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/2011-climate-change-course .
. The present Carbon Cycle?, Green World Trust: http://www.greenworldtrust.org.uk/Science/Images/CO2/CO2cycle.jpg .
. Simon Shackley, Jim Hammond, John Gaunt and Rodrigo Ibarrollo, ?The feasibility and costs of biochar deployment in the UK ?, Carbon Management, 2(3), 335-356 (2011): http://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/homes/sshackle/CostsBiochar.pdf .
. ?List of countries by GDP (nominal)?, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nominal%29 .
. ?List of countries by population?, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population .
. Robert Goodland and Jeff Anfang. ?Livestock and climate change. What if the key actors in climate change are ? cows, pigs and chickens??, World Watch, November/December 2009: http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf .
 ?List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions?, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_greenhouse_gas_emissions .
 ?Letter to PM Kevin Rudd by Dr James Hansen?, 2008: http://www.aussmc.org.au/documents/Hansen2008LetterToKevinRudd_000.pdf ).
. ?Carbon Debt, Carbon Credit?: https://sites.google.com/site/carbondebtcarboncredit/home .
. Gideon Polya, ?Shocking analysis by country of years left to zero emissions?, Greenblog, 1 August 2011: http://www.green-blog.org/2011/08/01/shocking-analysis-by-country-of-years-left-to-zero-emissions/ .
Dr Gideon Polya has been teaching science students at a major Australian university for 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has published ?Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950? (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions ?Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality? in ?Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics? (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm ) and ?Ongoing Palestinian Genocide? in ?The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book ?Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History? (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the ?forgotten? World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/social-economic-history/listen-the-bengal-famine ). When words fail one can say it in pictures - for images of Gideon Polya's huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/ .
|September 29, 2013||
Climate Change Report “Gives No Reason For Optimism”
by Fabiola Ortiz , Countercurrents.org, Inter Press
RIO DE JANEIRO - Amidst rumours that global warming has slowed over the past 15 years, the new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that each of the last three decades has been warmer than any preceding decade since 1850.
The warming of the climate is “unequivocal,” says the IPCC. “The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.”
The full in-depth report will be published Monday Sept. 30, as the first of the four volumes of the AR5.
“Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. In the Northern Hemisphere, 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1,400 years,” the new summary says.
“The globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data, as calculated by a linear trend, show a warming of 0.85°C over the period 1880–2012”, it adds.
With respect to the supposed “pause” in the rise in temperatures, the IPCC says: “the rate of warming over the past 15 years (1998–2012; 0.05°C per decade), which begins with a strong El Niño [a cyclical climate phenomenon that affects weather patterns around the world], is smaller than the rate calculated since 1951 (1951–2012; 0.12°C) per decade.”
But, it argues, “Due to natural variability, trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends.”
And it sums up: “It is virtually certain that globally the troposphere has warmed since the mid-20th century.”
Nobre told IPS that “the report observes what is changing, in greater detail, and reduces uncertainties by means of updated scientific knowledge.”
It also confirms that climate change is principally due to human activity, added Nobre, secretary for R&D policy in Brazil’s Ministry of Science and Technology.
Humanity must decide to cut way down on the use of fossil fuels – which emit greenhouse gases that heat up the atmosphere – and turn to renewable energy sources instead, he said.
That is technically possible, he added, stressing that what is needed is for countries to make “a conscious choice.”
“That transition has a cost, but the cost has steadily gone down from what was projected 15 years ago. The problem is not the technology; it is a political decision,” Nobre said.
Carlos Rittl, head of the climate change and energy programme of WWF-Brazil, said “although global warming has experienced an apparent stabilisation with regard to the mean temperature, the warmest years on record occurred in the last decade. That does not leave us in a comfortable situation.”
The IPCC report, which assesses the latest published and peer-reviewed studies on climate change and compiles a comprehensive summary of the findings, was based on the work of 259 authors from 39 countries, and checked by 1,089 reviewers who made 54,677 comments and critiques.
Its release was preceded by a new wave of climate scepticism in the media and rumours about a slowdown in global warming.
The summary presented Friday says that based on different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios, by the end of the century global temperatures are projected to rise by at least 1.5ºC, relative to 1850-1900, in all but the lowest scenario considered
The highest IPCC scenario points to an average warming this century of 3.7ºC – which many experts say would be catastrophic.
After the last intergovernmental climate change conference, in Copenhagen in December 2009, when the countries failed to reach agreement on a new global climate accord, criticism of the IPCC grew, in particular due to the erroneous projection that the Himalayan glaciers could melt away by 2035.
“That information was used in an irresponsible fashion by those who try to deny global warming,” Rittl said.
Six years later, there is more and better scientific evidence to estimate, for example, how much the melting of ice will contribute to the rise in sea level.
By 2100, the sea level will rise between 24 cm and 63 cm, according to the most optimistic and pessimistic scenarios, respectively.
Rainfall “will increase in the wettest regions and will decline in those areas where rain is already scarce,” said Rittl, who has a doctorate in ecology.
In Brazil, the driest region is the arid Northeast, and the wettest areas are the south and southeast. Precipitation will increase between one and three percent in the south, depending on the speed of global warming, while drought patterns will become more severe in arid areas.
All of the trends confirmed by the report are “alarming,” Rittl said.
“Humans are responsible for these changes, which will make things worse, when there are already hundreds of millions of people in the world suffering from scarcity of water, food and the basic conditions needed for survival,” he said.
The first volume of AR5 comes out two months ahead of the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, to be held in Warsaw.
In the Nov. 11-22 climate change summit, countries will have to agree to make a global effort to guarantee the transition to a low-carbon economy, Nobre said. “This report is a reality shock,” he added.
In his view, Brazil is one of the “few good examples” because it managed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 38.4 percent between 2005 and 2010, due to the decline in deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
“Brazil adopted voluntary commitments, but there is no ambitious accord at a global level,” Nobre said.
“The longer the delay in taking concrete action, the more difficult and unlikely it will be to reach a sustainable trajectory of climate change adaptation,” he said.
Rittl said governments must see climate change as a national challenge to development, social inclusion and poverty reduction. “The risks and the opportunities must be addressed in a very responsible manner,” he said.
© 2013 IPS North America
|Septembet 29, 2013||
IPCC Report Gives No Reason For Complacency
by Stefan Rahmstorf , Countercurrents.org, Realclimate.org
The time has come: the new IPCC report is here! After several years of work by over 800 scientists from around the world, and after days of extensive discussion at the IPCC plenary meeting in Stockholm, the Summary for Policymakers was formally adopted at 5 o’clock this morning. Congratulations to all the colleagues who were there and worked night shifts. The full text of the report will be available online beginning of next week. Realclimate summarizes the key findings and shows the most interesting graphs.
It is now considered even more certain (> 95%) that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. Natural internal variability and natural external forcings (eg the sun) have contributed virtually nothing to the warming since 1950 – the share of these factors was narrowed down by IPCC to ± 0.1 degrees. The measured temperature evolution is shown in the following graph.
Figure 1 The measured global temperature curve from several data sets. Top: annual values. Bottom: averaged values over a decade.
Those who have these data before their eyes can recognise immediately how misguided the big media attention for the “wiggles” of the curves towards the end has been. Short-term variations like this have always existed, and they always will. These are mostly random, they are (at least so far) not predictable, and the IPCC has never claimed to be able to make predictions for short periods of 10-15 years, precisely because these are dominated by such natural variations.
The last 30 years were probably the warmest since at least 1,400 years. This is a result from improved proxy data. In the 3rd IPCC report this could only be said about the last thousand years, in the 4th about the last 1,300 years.
The future warming by 2100 – with comparable emission scenarios – is about the same as in the previous report. For the highest scenario, the best-estimate warming by 2100 is still 4 °C (see the following chart).
Figure 2 The future temperature development in the highest emissions scenario (red) and in a scenario with successful climate mitigation (blue) – the “4-degree world” and the “2-degree world.”
What is new is that IPCC has also studied climate mitigation scenarios. The blue RCP2.6 is such a scenario with strong emissions reduction. With this scenario global warming can be stopped below 2 ° C.
A large part of the warming will be irreversible: from the point where emissions have dropped to zero, global temperature will remain almost constant for centuries at the elevated level reached by that time. (This is why the climate problem in my opinion is a classic case for the precautionary principle.)
Sea levels are rising faster now than in the previous two millennia, and the rise will continue to accelerate – regardless of the emissions scenario, even with strong climate mitigation. (This is due to the inertia in the system.) The new IPCC scenarios to 2100 are shown the following graph.
Figure 3 Rise of the global sea level until the year 2100, depending on the emissions scenario.
This is perhaps the biggest change over the 4th IPCC report: a much more rapid sea-level rise is now projected (28-98 cm by 2100). This is more than 50% higher than the old projections (18-59 cm) when comparing the same emission scenarios and time periods.
With unabated emissions (and not only for the highest scenario), the IPCC estimates that by the year 2300 global sea levels will rise by 1-3 meters. [Correction: the document actually says: "1 m to more than 3 m"]
Already, there are likely more frequent storm surges as a result of sea level rise, and for the future this becomes very likely.
Land and sea ice
Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent.
The Greenland ice sheet is less stable than expected in the last report. In the Eemian (the last interglacial period 120,000 years ago, when the global temperature was higher by 1-2 °C) global sea level was 5-10 meters higher than today (in the 4th IPCC report this was thought to be just 4-6 meters). Due to better data very high confidence is assigned to this. Since a total loss of the Greenland ice sheet corresponds to a 7 meters rise in sea level, this may indicate ice loss from Antarctica in the Eemian.
In the new IPCC report the critical temperature limit at which a total loss of the Greenland ice sheet will occur is estimated as 1 to 4°C of warming above preindustrial temperature. In the previous report that was still 1.9 to 4.6 °C – and that was one of the reasons why international climate policy has agreed to limit global warming to below 2 degrees.
With unabated emissions (RCP8.5) the Arctic Ocean will likely become virtually ice-free in summer before the middle of the century (see figure). In the last report, this was not expected until near the end of the century.
Figure 4 The ice cover on the Arctic Ocean in the 2-degree world (left) and the 4-degree world (right).
The IPCC expects that dry areas become drier due to global warming, and moist areas even wetter. Extreme rainfall has likely already been increasing in North America and Europe (elsewhere the data are not so good). Future extreme precipitation events are very likely to become more intense and more frequent over most land areas of the humid tropics and mid-latitudes.
At high emissions (red scenario above), the IPCC expects a weakening of the Atlantic Ocean circulation (commonly known as the Gulf Stream system) by 12% to 54% by the end of the century.
Last but not least, our CO2 emissions not only cause climate change, but also an increase in the CO2 concentration in sea water, and the oceans acidify due to the carbonic acid that forms. This is shown by the measured data in the graph below.
Figure 5 Measured CO2 concentration and pH in seawater. Low pH means higher acidity.
The new IPCC report gives no reason for complacency – even if politically motivated “climate skeptics” have tried to give this impression ahead of its release with frantic PR activities. Many wrong things have been written which now collapse in the light of the actual report.
The opposite is true. Many developments are now considered to be more urgent than in the fourth IPCC report, released in 2007. That the IPCC often needs to correct itself “upward” is an illustration of the fact that it tends to produce very cautious and conservative statements, due to its consensus structure – the IPCC statements form a kind of lowest common denominator on which many researchers can agree. The New York Times has given some examples for the IPCC “bending over backward to be scientifically conservative”. Despite or perhaps even because of this conservatism, IPCC reports are extremely valuable – as long as one is aware of it.
Update & Correction (28 Sept): The upper value of the sea-level range is 98 cm, not 97 cm – I overlooked the fact that IPCC corrected this between the final draft and the approved version of the SPM.
Some media wrongly report a rise of “only” up to 82 cm by the year 2100. That is a misunderstanding: 82 cm is the average for the period 2081-2100, not the level reached in 2100. Both the curves up to 2100 and those 20-year averages are shown in Fig. 3 above. Note that the additional rise of up to 16 cm in the final decade illustrates the horrendous rates of rise we can get by the end of the century with unmitigated emissions.
It is also worth noting that the 98 cm is the upper value of a “likely” range (66% probability to be within that range). As IPCC also notes, we could end up “several tens of centimeters” higher if the marine-based parts of the Antarctic ice sheet become unstable. Leading ice experts, like Richard Alley and Rob De Conto, consider this a serious risk.
Stefan Rahmstorf is a physicist and oceanographer by training, Stefan Rahmstorf has moved from early work in general relativity theory to working on climate issues. He has done research at the New Zealand Oceanographic Institute, at the Institute of Marine Science in Kiel and since 1996 at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany (in Potsdam near Berlin). His work focuses on the role of ocean currents in climate change, past and present. In 1999 Rahmstorf was awarded the $ 1 million Centennial Fellowship Award of the US-based James S. McDonnell foundation. Since 2000 he teaches physics of the oceans as a professor at Potsdam University. Rahmstorf is a member of the Advisory Council on Global Change of the German government and of the Academia Europaea. He is a lead author of the paleoclimate chapter of the 4th assessment report of the IPCC. More information about his research and publication record can be found here. Here’s a portrait in Vanity Fair.
|October 1, 2013||
The Commons: A Historical Concept Of Property Rights
by Hartmut Zückert, Countercurrents.org, The Wealth of The Commons
The commons, an historical concept, has become an object of interest for the modern social sciences and the general public like few before it. It is well known that it became famous due to Garrett Hardin and his influential article, “The Tragedy of the Commons” (Hardin 1968). Hardin had extrapolated from the historical phenomenon of the commons to identify principles for managing parking lots, oceans, national parks, air and water.1 The question arises here whether this might be an ahistorical analogy that contributes little to clarifying the problem as it presents itself today.
The criticism of Hardin’s essay made it clear that the historical commons were by no means “open to all” and therefore subject to tragically unavoidable destruction. Instead, there was a clearly defined group of people with rights to the commons who agreed with one another on rules in order to avoid degrading the resource.2 Hardin used a less sharply defined concept than Gordon, who spoke of the oceans as a “common-property resource” (Gordon 1954). However, Gordon’s critics argued that it is wrong to speak of common property if nobody has claimed the resources accessible to all as property.
Elinor Ostrom dropped the category of property rights as a starting point for analysis and instead founded her studies on the term “common-pool resource,” a term used to describe oil or groundwater deposits. She also differentiated between open-access and limited-access natural resources. She agreed with Hardin that open-access resources belonging to no one are vulnerable (Ostrom 1990), but disagreed when it came to limited-access resources. Ostrom and others gave a number of examples of common usage, some of which had existed for centuries and had sustained the resources in question. And this is where the concept of property rights comes into play again.
Ostrom and Schlager differentiated between various bundles of property rights and their holders, namely 1) authorized users, whose rights are limited to access and withdrawal of resources; 2) claimants, who can also exclude others; 3) proprietors, who have additional management rights; and 4) owners, who also have the right of alienation, i.e. to sell the resource. The stronger the bundle of rights, the less danger to the existence of the common pool resources, they postulated (Schlager/Ostrom 1992).
The concept of property as a bundle of rights permits us to create a hierarchy of the rights of authorized users, claimants, proprietors and owners. We can derive a typology by means of a comparative analysis of cases of common property management around the world, or by looking at the historical commons, as to which forms of management and which constitutions relating to property rights enabled them to survive for centuries.
The commons in historical perspective: the story of enclosures
Before the Agrarian Revolution, which was linked to the Industrial Revolution, there were two different intensities of land use (the following is based on Zückert 2003): intensive cultivation of arable and meadow land (manuring, plowing, sowing, harrowing, harvesting, irrigation or drainage), which was therefore the peasants’ private property; and extensive cultivation of grazing land and woodlands where cattle was herded and wood harvested, and which for this reason remained common property: the commons (see figure). How much livestock an individual could have depended on the amount of hay available as winter fodder, that is, on the size of the meadows. From spring to fall, cattle were herded on the common pasture.
The Agrarian Revolution basically meant that people started to grow forage crops such as clover, turnips and potatoes, making it possible to feed cattle in the barn. Thus, rough pasture was no longer needed. The commons was either turned into fields or cultivated more intensively as pastureland. In other words: it was enclosed. The practice of having animals graze in the forest (wood pasture) was abandoned, and the forests were devoted to intensified timber production and privatized as well for this reason. The only uses to remain communal were those that were possible only on an extensive basis, such as Alpine meadows.
The agrarian innovations required capital investment: changes to crop rotation, seed for the feed crops, fences or hedges, barns and new equipment. For this reason, peasants, leaseholders and manorial lords with substantial holdings were at an advantage in the process of changing the mode of production and promoting it, while smallholders kept to traditional forms of farming. That was the basis of the conflicts around enclosures between manorial lords and leaseholders on the one side and smallholders on the other. Unable to compete, the latter lost out. Without keeping a few head of cattle on the commons, they could not survive, and once the commons was enclosed, they could no longer farm for themselves and thus had to work as laborers on the farms of those who had benefited from the enclosures. That was the true “tragedy of the commons.”
The basic distribution of property after the enclosures initially corresponded to the system of property rights that had prevailed before. In the feudal order, property was always shared property, that is, the nobility or the priory loaned the peasant his holding and the land that belonged to it; he had to perform labor services and pay rents in kind or money rents and was subject to the jurisdiction of the feudal lords. As the commons was part of the farmland, it, too, was under the control of the landlord, who was known in England as the “lord of the soil of the common.” The lord and the commoners alike herded cattle on the common pasture and harvested timber in the woods. In Europe, the degree to which this occurred depended on whether the feudal lords had agricultural businesses themselves or were sustained mostly by rents.
East of the Elbe River, the peasants had to perform labor services in the fields of the manor even until the 19th century and only had usage rights to the commons. In England and the Rhineland, on the other hand, the manors were leased, and this ensured that the leaseholders had a dominant position vis-à-vis the other commoners in using the commons. In England, the commercial demand for wool resulted in the lord’s flocks of sheep flooding the commons. In the Rhineland, the “Meistbeerbten”–the leaseholders–increasingly took on responsibility for managing the forest. In southwestern Germany and Switzerland, the manor fields were let out to the peasants, and the feudal lords limited themselves to the extensive branches of the economy, such as lumbering or grazing sheep, and competed with the peasants for the commons.
Accordingly, property rights developed in different ways. In southwestern Germany, the feudal property was forced back more and more, and around 1800 the peasants were de facto owners of their farms and the common pastures. They also enjoyed defined use rights to the forest, and often also to community woods. East of the Elbe, in contrast, the peasants only had weak property rights to their farms and usage rights to the commons.
With different property regimes, the consequences of the enclosures differed as well. In England, the lords and their leaseholders secured the lion’s share of the commons – a scandal criticized publicly as early as 1516 by Thomas More in the critique of society he placed before his “Utopia”: “sheep...devour men.” The nobility and abbots, he wrote, were “stop[ping] the course of agriculture, destroying houses and towns, reserving only the churches, and enclos[ing] grounds that they may lodge their sheep in them.” East of the Elbe, the situation was worse; the nobility was taking possession of the common land and granting the peasants only minimal “compensation.” The manors, which had grown large because of the appropriation of the commons, were run with semi-free laborers who obeyed the nobility’s lashes. The state acted as midwife of the new system of property rights by passing the parliamentary enclosures, i.e., enclosures enabled by laws of Parliament, in England (c. 1760-1820) or the Gemeinheitsteilungsordnungen in 1821 in Prussia. In southwestern Germany, in contrast, dividing up the commons after a long process resulted in a beneficial situation for the peasants and communities.
The commons in history: managed by the cooperative
In terms of property law, the commons were bound to ownership of fields; everyone who owned fields was permitted to herd their cattle on the commons. Arable farming was organized in cooperatives, and the village cooperative had the authority to manage the commons. An important rule concerned the date when the harvest was concluded; on that date, cattle were herded to the stubble, where they manured the soil. In other words, fields and meadows turned into commons after the grain and hay were harvested. Private property was in abeyance and treated as common property until spring returned.
All of a village’s cattle were herded on the pasture together, either by peasants taking turns or by a herdsman hired by the cooperative. It was his duty to ensure that the cattle did not go onto the fields. When the increasing number of cattle raised the risk of overgrazing the pasture, the cooperative issued an ordinance for the pasture in the form of a so-called Weistum, or bylaw. It limited the number of cattle (“stinting”), impounding them if necessary and levied fines and enforced their collection. There were similar arrangements for other rules and offenses. If too much wood was cut, allotments were set. Thus, cooperative institutions were required: firstly, an assembly of the cooperative that decided on the rules; secondly, a village mayor who implemented the bylaw of the commons; and thirdly, a village court that adjudicated disputes. In this way, dangers to the commons produced new competencies within the cooperative.
These capacities included oversight of the common land within the village itself, where communal institutions such as the herdsman’s house, the smithy, the bakehouse or the bath were situated. The community used wood from the common forest to build and heat such buildings. The community could also sell common land for common purposes. In other words, the cooperative formed communal institutions capable of holding rights and assets.
Cooperative means that the cooperative action of all enables the individual proprietor to conduct economic activity. This is the root of the cooperative motto, later mythologized as, “One for all, all for one!”
Only landowners had property rights to the commons. But besides the peasants, limited use rights were granted to artisans in the village, whose services the peasants depended on, as well as laborers who were employed by the peasants in peak periods, especially the harvest, and who otherwise earned their livelihoods by spinning and weaving. The cooperative permitted these non-peasants to herd one cow on the commons and to collect dead wood in the forest. These usage rights arose from the mutual dependency of villagers on one another. As the number of spinners and weavers in the villages increased during the early stage of industrialization, the numbers of their cattle increased to such an extent in some places that they overburdened the commons. This indeed brought about a crisis of the commons in these industrialized villages, as those who did not own fields were dependent on the marginal use of the commons, even though the commons were actually a complement to the cultivation of fields.
The stronger the peasants’ property rights to the fields, and therefore also to the commons, the stronger their self-government. At the village court, it was no longer the interests of the lord that were determinative, but those of the peasants’ cooperative. The reeve – an official elected by peasants to supervise the land for a lord – became an institution of the community; the manor court became the village court. People’s thinking developed accordingly, and cooperative principles were elevated to the norm. The size of the individual peasants’ holdings was irrelevant when the cooperative assembly took a vote. Instead, every peasant had a vote, following the principle of one man, one vote. And the individual’s pursuit of profit was always limited so that it would not impair the livelihoods of all; that was the purpose of limiting the number of cattle on the commons. “Common benefit” was the uppermost norm of this cooperatively organized society. And it was by no means limited to the local sphere. As this norm was widely recognized, it was also applied to societal issues in general, such as the demand that rulers use the state to promote the common benefit, and the church to preach these values (Blickle 1998).
Community life was lively and featured an annual procession around the boundaries of the village and the lands belonging to it, a communal drink after auditing the common box (the community funds). Folk customs were combined with the common pasture. To the peasants, the bell that the village bull wore around his neck on the pasture signaled, “the reeve is coming, the reeve is coming!” (The reeve kept the community’s breeding bull.) On New Year’s Day, the herdsmen blew their horns, went from door to door and sang their song, asking the peasants to give them something – such as their best-smoked sausages. The gifts were considered an expression of the peasants’ esteem for the community employees’ careful handling of their livestock (Zückert 2001).
The commons were part of an economic system that, given the developmental stage of the agricultural production methods, had no alternative but to be communal. Managing the commons was based on social and cultural interaction (which was all the more vibrant the more the cooperative managed this economic activity itself) and closely connected to the cooperative’s property rights to the common resources.
The historical concept of the commons covers a broad spectrum of communal property rights, from merely the right to use a resource owned by the feudal lords to self-management, the exclusion of third parties, and even the right to sell the resource. The historical understandings of the commons have the same scope as Ostrom’s studies of natural resources.
In contrast, the concept of the commons today often refers to open-access natural resources such as oceans, the atmosphere and space.3 Such aspirational uses of the term do not specify the actual governance regimes that can sustainably manage them, however.
Are the defining characteristics of the historical commons – or a comparable concept of common property – transferable to open-access commons or even to global resources? Ciriacy-Wantrup and Bishop were convinced that common-property institutions might be helpful in solving current-day problems of natural-resources policy and are doing so already. High-seas fisheries can serve as an example here. Limiting a fishing season to counter overfishing has a parallel in the grazing season on the commons; extending national fishing zones to 200 miles from the coast is analogous to the boundaries of a village’s grazing land and the determination of who had rights to graze livestock there. The establishment of national quotas and individual fishermen’s quotas resembles the practice of stinting on the commons. Similar institutions regulating use of the atmosphere, they believe, might emerge. Following those who consider the oceans to be the common heritage of all mankind, one could consider these resources to be a “giant commons managed as a trust by some international agency such as the United Nations.” (Ciriacy-Wantrup/Bishop 1975)
The historical concept of the commons is a concept of property rights. If we historicize the contemporary debate about the commons and bring the historical concept of the commons into play, we must take that into account. Yet we must consider whether the question of property rights is even the central issue if we seek to solve global problems, and if so, how common-property rights can be fleshed out today.4
Hartmut Zückert (Germany) is a historian with a doctorate degree and was a scientific assistant of the Max Planck working group Ostelbische Gutsherrschaft, 1995-1999, at the University of Potsdam. He is the author of Allemende und Allmendaufhebung (2003).
From The Wealth of the Commons: A World Beyond Market and State, edited by David Bollier and Silke Helfrich (Levellers Press, 2012), available in its entirety at http://www.wealthofthecommons.org , under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.
Blickle, Peter. 1998. From the Communal Reformation to the Revolution of the Common Man.City: Leiden.
Ciriacy-Wantrup, Siegfried V. and Richard C. Bishop. 1975. “‘Common Property’ as a Concept in Natural Resource Policy.” Natural Resources Journal. 15:713–727.
Gordon, H. Scott. 1954. “The Economic Theory of a Common-Property Resource – The Fishery.” Journal of Political Economy. 62:124-142.
Hardin, Garrett. 1968. “The Tragedy of the Commons.” Science. 162:1243-1248.
Lerch, Achim. 2009. “The Tragedy of the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’.” In Genes, Bytes and Emissions: To Whom Does the World Belong? http://www.boell.org/ /web/148-576.html
Ostrom, Elinor. 1990. Governing the Commons. The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action. Cambridge, England. Cambridge University Press.
Rösener, Werner. 1985. Bauern im Mittelalter. München.
Schlager, Edella and Elinor Ostrom. 1992. “Property-Rights Regimes and Natural Resources: A Conceptual Analysis.” Land Economics. 68:249-262.
Zückert, Hartmut. 2001. “Gemeindeleben in brandenburgischen Amtsdörfern des 17./18. Jahrhunderts.” In Zückert, H., Rudert, T., eds. Gemeindeleben. Dörfer und kleine Städte im östlichen Deutschland (16.-18. Jahrhundert). Köln. 141-179.
—————. 2003. Allmende und Allmendaufhebung. Vergleichende Studien zum Spätmittelalter bis zu den Agrarreformen des 18./19. Jahrhunderts. Stuttgart.
1. Peter Linebaugh’s essay traces the concrete background of Hardin’s historical reference.
2. An overview of the discussion is to be found in Lerch. 2009.
3. Editors’ note: What is more, in the modern debate on the commons, all objects and resources that are not produced by an individual or that are given to the general public are called common resources or commons, regardless whether they are natural or cultural resources or whether they require restrictions to access or not. Knowledge commons, for example, flourish best if open access to knowledge and information are guaranteed.
4. I am grateful to Julio Lambing for discussions and food for thought.
|September 3, 2013||
Human Assault Pushes Ocean To Limit Unseen In 300 Million Years
by Jon Queally , Countercurrents.org
The news, the evidence that supports it, and the warning that accompanies it could hardly be more dire.
The latest audit by an international team of marine scientists at the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) found that the world's oceans and marine life are facing an unprecedented threat by combination of industrial pollution, human-driven global warming and climate change, and continued and rampant overfishing.
According to the report, The State of the Ocean 2013: Perils, Prognoses and Proposals, the degradation of the ocean ecosystem means that its role as Earth’s ‘buffer’ is being seriously compromised. As a result, the authors of the report call for "urgent remedies" because the "rate, speed, and impacts of change in the global ocean are greater, faster, and more imminent than previously thought."
Driven by accumulations of carbon, the scientists found, the rate of acidification in the oceans is the highest its been in over 300 million years. Additionally, de-oxygenation--caused by both warming and industrial runoff--is stripping the ocean of its ability to support the plants and animals that live in it.
The combined stressors, according to the report, are "unprecedented in the Earth's known history. We are entering an unknown territory of marine ecosystem change, and exposing organisms to intolerable evolutionary pressure. The next mass extinction may have already begun."
Professor Alex Rogers of Somerville College, Oxford, and Scientific Director of IPSO said: “The health of the ocean is spiraling downwards far more rapidly than we had thought. We are seeing greater change, happening faster, and the effects are more imminent than previously anticipated. The situation should be of the gravest concern to everyone since everyone will be affected by changes in the ability of the ocean to support life on Earth.”
Among the report's comprehensive findings, the panel identified the following areas as of greatest cause for concern:
Regarding the urgency of the crisis, the marine scientists issued a strick warning to world governments, called on them to take immediate action, and offered the following steps they said "must" be taken:
In response to the IPSO study that arrived just one week after the IPCC report on climate change which also highlighted the threat of global warming to the oceans, Professor Dan Laffoley, of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, said: “What these latest reports make absolutely clear is that deferring action will increase costs in the future and lead to even greater, perhaps irreversible, losses. The UN climate report confirmed that the ocean is bearing the brunt of human-induced changes to our planet. These findings give us more cause for alarm – but also a roadmap for action. We must use it. “
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
|October 4, 2013||
Current Carbon Debt Or Carbon Credit For All Countries: Australia , Canada AndUS Default On Carbon Debt
by Dr Gideon Polya , Countercurrents.org
The US is on the brink of defaulting on government debt but unreported by Mainstream media is that the US is about to default on and massively expand its Carbon Debt. The world has a terminal greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution budget (global Carbon Credit) that must not be exceeded if we are to avoid a catastrophic 2C temperature rise. Unfortunately, the US, Australia and Canada have effectively used up their ?fair shares? of this budget, are now stealing the Carbon Credit of other countries and are threatening the world with climate catastrophe.
The worsening climate crisis means that the world has to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution and eventually reach zero emissions. Indeed top climate scientists and biologists are telling us that reaching zero emissions is not enough ? we then have to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration from the current 400 parts per million (ppm) to 350 ppm (according to 350.org: http://350.org/ ) and thence to 300 ppm (according to the latest science-informed 300.org: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/300-org---return-atmosphere-co2-to-300-ppm ). Because of extraordinary Mainstream media censorship in the Western Murdochracies, Lobbyocracies and Corporatocracies (see ?Mainstream Media Lying?: https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammedialying/ , ?Mainstream Media Censorship?: https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammediacensorship/ , Censorship by the BBC?: https://sites.google.com/site/censorshipbythebbc/ ) , very few Westerners appreciate to what extent their country has already exceeded its ?fair share? of permissible global GHG pollution before science-demanded zero emissions in 2050.
In 2009 the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) determined that for a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2 degree C temperature rise, the World must pollute less than 600 Gt CO2 (600 billion tonnes CO2) between 2010 and essentially zero emissions in 2050. Unfortunately, Australia (through disproportionately huge annual fossil fuel burning) and Belize (through disproportionately huge annual deforestation) have already used up their ?share? of this terminal greenhouse gas (GHG) budget relative to 2013, as have Qatar, Guyana, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Papua New Guinea, Brunei, Antigua and Bermuda, Zambia, Canada and Bahrain. Relative to 2013, the US has only 0.1 year to go before it defaults on this key obligation not to exceed its ?fair share? of the world's terminal GHG pollution budget i.e. it has effectively defaulted. The analysis below will tell you how many years your country has left before it exceeds its ?fair share? of atmospheric GHG pollution.
The 2009 Report of the German Advisory Council on Climate Change (WBGU, Wissenshaftlicher Beirat der Bundesregierung Globale Umweltveränderungen) was entitled ?Solving the climate dilemma: the budget approach? and crucially stated: ?The budget of CO2 emissions still available worldwide could be derived from the 2 degree C guard rail. By the middle of the 21st century a maximum of approximately 750 Gt CO2 (billion metric tons) may be released into the Earth's atmosphere if the guard rail is to be adhered to with a probability of 67%. If we raise the probability to 75%, the cumulative emissions within this period would even have to remain below 600 Gt CO2. In any case, only a small amount of CO2 may be emitted worldwide after 2050. Thus, the era of an economy driven by fossil fuels will definitely have to come to an end within the first half of this century? (see WBGU, ?Solving the climate dilemma: the budget approach?: : http://www.ecoequity.org/2009/10/solving-the-climate-dilemma-the-budget-approach/ ).
The consequences of this declaration of less than 600 Gt CO2 in emissions for a 75% chance of avoiding 2 degree C temperature rise are profound. Thus, would you board a plane if it had a 25% chance of crashing? Further, the average world population in the period 2010 and 2050 will be 8.321 billion (see UN Population Division, 2010 Revision). Accordingly the per capita share of this terminal CO2 pollution budget is less than 600 billion tonnes CO2/8.321 billion people = less than 72.1 tonnes CO2 per person.
Using data for the annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) (including land use change) for every country in the world in 2000 (see ?List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capita?, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_greenhouse_gas_emissions_per_capita ) one could determine how many years left at current rates of GHG pollution (in units of CO2-e or CO2-equivalent i.e. taking other GHGs into account) before a given country uses up its ?share? (the available data for Uruguay was the 2000 per capita data without the land use contribution included). Thus for Australia 72.1 tonnes CO2-e per person / 25.9 tonnes CO2- per person per year in 2000 = 2.8 years left relative to 2010 and based on the 2000 data, noting that this analysis does not take into account historical pollution of the atmosphere (see ?Years left to zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by country relative to 2010?: https://sites.google.com/site/carbondebtcarboncredit/years-left ).
However it is now 2013 and the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change has just released its 5th Assessment Report (see IPCC, ?Summary for policymakers?, 2013: http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/uploads/WGIAR5-SPM_Approved27Sep2013.pdf ). Accordingly it is timely to re-assess how many years left to zero emissions for all countries in the world relative to 2013. This is simply achieved by subtracting 3 years from the estimates relative to 2010.
(A). Years left for zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for all countries relative to the year 2013 were simply determined by subtracting THREE (3) years from the years left to zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to 2010 (see "Years left to zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relative to 2010": https://sites.google.com/site/carbondebtcarboncredit/years-left ).
Countries that have already exceed their ?fair share? or must cease GHG pollution within 2 years relative to 2013.
Belize (-2.2 years), Qatar (-1.7), Guyana (-1.6), Malaysia (-1.1), United Arab Emirates (-1.0), Kuwait (-0.6), Papua New Guinea (-0.5), Brunei (-0.2), Australia (-0.2; -1.9 if including its huge GHG Exports), Antigua & Barbuda (-0.2), Zambia (-0.1), Canada (0.0), Bahrain (0.0), United States (0.1), Trinidad & Tobago (0.3), Luxembourg (0.4), Panama (0.7), New Zealand (0.7), Estonia (1.0), Botswana (1.1), Ireland (1.3), Saudi Arabia (1.4), Venezuela (1.6), Indonesia (1.8), Equatorial Guinea (2.0), Belgium (2.0).
Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 2-7 years relative to 2013.
Turkmenistan (2.1 years ), Singapore (2.1), Czech Republic (2.2), Liberia (2.2), Netherlands (2.3), Russia (2.3), Nicaragua (2.4), Finland (2.5), Oman (2.6), Palau (2.6), Brazil (2.6), Denmark (2.8). Germany (2.9), Mongolia (3.1), Israel (3.1), Nauru (3.2), Norway (3.3), South Korea (3.5), Kazakhstan (3.6), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (3.6), Libya (3.7), Greece (3.7), Japan (3.7), Myanmar (3.7), Taiwan (3.8), Cyprus (4.0), Slovenia (4.1), Cambodia (4.1), Austria (4.2), Iceland (4.2), Peru (4.3), Paraguay (4.3), Ukraine (4.4), Poland (4.5), South Africa (4.6), Argentina (4.8), Slovakia (4.8), Spain (4.8), Italy (4.8), Central African Republic (5.0), France (5.3), Suriname (5.4), Belarus (5.4), Gabon (5.6), Ecuador (5.8), Bolivia (5.9), Uruguay (6.5), Cameroon (6.5), Iran (6.5), Côte d'Ivoire (6.6), Sweden (6.6), Seychelles (6.7), Guatemala (6.7), Bulgaria (6.7), Serbia & Montenegro (6.7), Hungary (6.7), Congo, Democratic Republic (formerly Zaire) (6.7), Uzbekistan (6.9), Portugal (7.0).
Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 7-18 years relative to 2013.
Switzerland (7.2 years), Azerbaijan (7.6), Angola (7.8), Bahamas (7.9), Benin (8.1), Zimbabwe (8.1), Laos (8.3), Mexico (8.3), Nepal (8.4), Colombia (8.4), Namibia (8.4), Chile (8.4), Malta (8.8), Congo, Republic (9.0), Madagascar (9.0), Croatia (9.2), Jamaica (9.2), Macedonia (9.4), Barbados (9.4), Latvia (9.6), Mauritania (9.9), Turkey (9.9), Romania (10.1), Lithuania (10.4), Costa Rica (10.4), Lebanon (10.6), North Korea (10.9), Thailand (11.1), Jordan (11.7), Honduras (12.3), Sudan (12.7), Bosnia & Herzegovina (13.0), Algeria (14.2), Iraq (14.2), Sierra Leone (14.2), Syria (15.0), China (15.5), Tunisia (16.5), Dominican Republic (17.6 years).
Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 18-27 years relative to 2013.
St Kitts & Nevis (18.8), Nigeria (18.8), Fiji (18.8), Guinea (19.5), Mauritius (19.5), Cuba (20.3), Togo (20.3), Vanuatu (21.0), Philippines (21.0), Malawi (21.0), Mali (21.9), Chad (21.9), Sri Lanka (22.8), Uganda (23.7), Dominica (23.7), St Lucia (23.7), Egypt (24.7), Niue (24.7), Ghana (24.7), Moldova (25.8), Grenada (25.8), El Salvador (27.0), Guinea-Bissau (27.0), Tanzania (27.0), Djibouti (27.0).
Countries that must cease GHG pollution within 28-48 years relative to 2013.
Pakistan (28.3 years), Samoa (26.3), Tonga (28.3), Morocco (29.8), Senegal (29.8), Albania (29.8), Georgia (29.8), Armenia (31.3), St Vincent & Grenadines (32.1), Kenya (33.1), Maldives (34.9), Kyrgyzstan (34.9), Burkina Faso (34.9), India (37.1), Cook Islands (37.1), Bhutan (39.4), Yemen (42.1), Tajikistan (42.1), Mozambique (42.1), Rwanda (42.1), Burundi (42.1), Lesotho (45.1), Swaziland (45.1).
Countries that must cease GHG pollution within about 48-120 years relative to 2013.
Eritrea (48.5), Haiti (48.5), Solomon Islands (62.5), Vietnam (62.5), Cape Verde (62.5), Niger (62.5), Ethiopia (62.5), São Tomé and Príncipe (69.1), Afghanistan (77.1), The Gambia (77.1), Bangladesh (77.1), Comoros (100.0), Kiribati (117.2).
(B). The permissible per capita GHG pollution left or ?per capita Carbon Credit? (aka ?per capita Climate Credit?) can be determined by multiplying ?years left to zero emissions relative to 2013? by the ?annual per capita GHG pollution in 2000 with land use included? (see (see ?List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capita?, Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_greenhouse_gas_emissions_per_capita ).
Countries with negative per capita Carbon Credit (i.e. Carbon Debt) or zero Carbon Credit relative to 2013 (tonnes CO2-e per person).
Belize (- 206.6 tonnes CO2-e per person ), Qatar (-93.0), Guyana (-84.0), Malaysia (-40.9), United Arab Emirates (-36.8), Kuwait (-18.2), Papua New Guinea (-14.6), Brunei (-5.2), Australia (-5.2; -49.2 if including its huge GHG Exports), Antigua & Barbuda (-5.1), Zambia (-2.5), Canada (0.0), Bahrain (0.0),
Countries with positive per capita Carbon Credit relative to 2013 (tonnes CO2-e per person).
United States (2.3 tonnes CO2-e per person), Trinidad & Tobago (6.6), Luxembourg (8.5), Panama (13.8), New Zealand (13.5), Estonia (18.2), Botswana (19.6), Ireland (21.8), Saudi Arabia (23.1), Venezuela (25.3), Indonesia (26.8), Equatorial Guinea (29.0), Belgium (28.6), Turkmenistan (29.8), Singapore (29.6), Czech Republic (30.6), Liberia (30.6), Netherlands (31.1), Russia (31.1), Nicaragua (32.2), Finland (32.8), Oman (33.5), Palau (33.3), Brazil (33.3), Denmark (35.0). Germany (35.7), Mongolia (36.6), Israel (36.6), Nauru (37.4), Norway (37.6), South Korea (38.9), Kazakhstan (39.6), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (39.6), Libya (40.0), Greece (40.0), Japan (39.6), Myanmar (39.6), Taiwan (40.3), Cyprus (41.2), Slovenia (41.8), Cambodia (41.8), Austria (42.0), Iceland (42.0), Peru (4.3), Paraguay (42.6), Ukraine (43.1), Poland (43.2), South Africa (43.7), Argentina (44.6), Slovakia (44.6), Spain (44.2), Italy (44.2), Central African Republic (45.0), France (46.1), Suriname (46.4), Belarus (46.4), Gabon (47.0), Ecuador (47.6), Bolivia (47.8), Uruguay (49.4), Cameroon (49.4), Iran (49.4), Côte d'Ivoire (49.5), Sweden (49.5), Seychelles (49.6), Guatemala (49.6), Bulgaria (49.6), Serbia & Montenegro (49.6), Hungary (49.6), Congo, Democratic Republic (formerly Zaire) (49.6), Uzbekistan (50.4), Portugal (50.4), Switzerland (51.1), Azerbaijan (51.7), Angola (52.3), Bahamas (52.1), Benin (52.7), Zimbabwe (52.7), Laos (53.1), Mexico (53.1), Nepal (52.9), Colombia (52.9), Namibia (52.9), Chile (52.9), Malta (53.7), Congo, Republic (54.0), Madagascar (54.0), Croatia (54.3), Jamaica (54.3), Macedonia (54.5), Barbados (54.5), Latvia (54.7), Mauritania (55.4), Turkey (55.4), Romania (55.6), Lithuania (56.2), Costa Rica (56.2), Lebanon (56.2), North Korea (56.7), Thailand (56.6), Jordan (57.3), Honduras (57.8), Sudan (58.4), Bosnia & Herzegovina (58.5), Algeria (59.6), Iraq (59.6), Sierra Leone (59.6), Syria (60.0), China (60.5), Tunisia (61.1), Dominican Republic (61.6), St Kitts & Nevis (62.0), Nigeria (62.0), Fiji (62.0), Guinea (62.4), Mauritius (62.4), Cuba (62.9), Togo (62.9), Vanuatu (63.0), Philippines (63.0), Malawi (60.9), Mali (63.5), Chad (63.5), Sri Lanka (63.8), Uganda (64.0), Dominica (64.0), St Lucia (64.0), Egypt (64.2), Niue (64.2), Ghana (64.2), Moldova (64.5), Grenada (64.5), El Salvador (64.8), Guinea-Bissau (64.0), Tanzania (64.8), Djibouti (64.8), Pakistan (65.1), Samoa (60.5), Tonga (65.1), Morocco (65.0), Senegal (65.6), Albania (65.6), Georgia (65.6), Armenia (65.7), St Vincent & Grenadines (64.2), Kenya (66.2), Maldives (66.3), Kyrgyzstan (66.3), Burkina Faso (66.3), India (66.8), Cook Islands (66.8), Bhutan (67.0), Yemen (67.4), Tajikistan (67.4), Mozambique (67.4), Rwanda (67.4), Burundi (67.4), Lesotho (67.7), Swaziland (67.7), Eritrea (67.9), Haiti (67.9), Solomon Islands (68.8), Vietnam (68.8), Cape Verde (68.8), Niger (68.8), Ethiopia (68.8), São Tomé and Príncipe (69.1), Afghanistan (69.4), The Gambia (69.4), Bangladesh (69.4), Comoros (70.0), Kiribati (70.3).
(C ). The per capita Carbon Debt or Carbon Credit in US dollars can be estimated for each country by multiplying the data in (B) by 100 because the cost of removing atmospheric CO2 by conversion into biochar or charcoal is about US$100 per tonne CO2 (see Simon Shackley, Jim Hammond, John Gaunt and Rodrigo Ibarrollo, ?The feasibility and costs of biochar deployment in the UK ?, Carbon Management, 2(3), 335-356 (2011): http://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/homes/sshackle/CostsBiochar.pdf ) and the minimum price on CO2-e for effective climate change action has been estimated at about US$100 per tonne CO2-equivalent (see Chris Hope, ?How high should climate change taxes be??, Working Paper Series, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, 9.2011: http://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/research/working_papers/2011/wp1109.pdf ), noting that this calculation ignores the huge historical l Carbon Debt that in the period 1751-2006 was 75% due to European countries (see ?Carbon debt, carbon credit?: https://sites.google.com/site/carbondebtcarboncredit/home ):
Countries with negative per capita Carbon Credit (i.e. Carbon Debt) or zero Carbon Credit relative to 2013 (US$ per person):
Belize (- $20,660), Qatar (-$9,300), Guyana (-$8,400), Malaysia (-$4,090), United Arab Emirates (-$3,680), Kuwait (-$1,820), Papua New Guinea (-$1,460), Brunei (-$520), Australia (-$520; -$4,920 if including its huge GHG Exports), Antigua & Barbuda (-$510), Zambia (-$250), Canada ($0.0), Bahrain $0.0).
Countries with positive remaining per capita Carbon Credit relative to 2013
(US$ per person). United States ($230), Trinidad & Tobago (660), Luxembourg (850), Panama (1380), New Zealand (1350), Estonia (1820), Botswana (1960), Ireland (2180), Saudi Arabia (2310), Venezuela (2530), Indonesia (2680), Equatorial Guinea (2900), Belgium (2860), Turkmenistan (2980), Singapore (2960), Czech Republic (3060), Liberia (3060), Netherlands (3110), Russia (3110), Nicaragua (3220), Finland (3280), Oman (3350), Palau (3330), Brazil (3330), Denmark (3500). Germany (3570), Mongolia (3660), Israel (3660), Nauru (3740), Norway (3760), South Korea (3890), Kazakhstan (3960), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (3960), Libya (4000), Greece (4000), Japan (3960), Myanmar (3960), Taiwan (4030), Cyprus (4120), Slovenia (4180), Cambodia (4180), Austria (4200), Iceland (4200), Peru (4300), Paraguay (4260), Ukraine (4310), Poland (4320), South Africa (4370), Argentina (4460), Slovakia (4460), Spain (4420), Italy (4420), Central African Republic (4500), France (4610), Suriname (4640), Belarus (4640), Gabon (4700), Ecuador (4760), Bolivia (4780), Uruguay (4940), Cameroon (4940), Iran (4940), Côte d'Ivoire (4950), Sweden (4950), Seychelles (4960), Guatemala (4960), Bulgaria (4960), Serbia & Montenegro (4960), Hungary (4960), Congo, Democratic Republic (formerly Zaire) (4960), Uzbekistan (5040), Portugal (5040), Switzerland (5110), Azerbaijan (5170), Angola (5230), Bahamas (5210), Benin (5270), Zimbabwe (5270), Laos (5310), Mexico (5310), Nepal (5290), Colombia (5290), Namibia (5290), Chile (5290), Malta (5370), Congo, Republic (5400), Madagascar (5400), Croatia (5430), Jamaica (5430), Macedonia (5450), Barbados (5450), Latvia (5470), Mauritania (5540), Turkey (5540), Romania (5560), Lithuania (5620), Costa Rica (5620), Lebanon (5620), North Korea (5670), Thailand (5660), Jordan (5730), Honduras (5780), Sudan (5840), Bosnia & Herzegovina (5850), Algeria (5960), Iraq (5960), Sierra Leone (5960), Syria (600), China (6050), Tunisia (6110), Dominican Republic (6160), St Kitts & Nevis (6200), Nigeria (6200), Fiji (6200), Guinea (6240), Mauritius (6240), Cuba (6290), Togo (6290), Vanuatu (6300), Philippines (6300), Malawi (6090), Mali (6350), Chad (6350), Sri Lanka (6380), Uganda (6400), Dominica (6400), St Lucia (6400), Egypt (6420), Niue (6420), Ghana (6420), Moldova (6450), Grenada (6450), El Salvador (6480), Guinea-Bissau (6400), Tanzania (6480), Djibouti (6480),Pakistan (6510), Samoa (6050), Tonga (6510), Morocco (6500), Senegal (6560), Albania (6560), Georgia (6560), Armenia (6570), St Vincent & Grenadines (6420), Kenya (6620), Maldives (6630), Kyrgyzstan (6630), Burkina Faso (6630), India (6680), Cook Islands (6680), Bhutan (6700), Yemen (6740), Tajikistan (6740), Mozambique (6740), Rwanda (6740), Burundi (6740), Lesotho (6770), Swaziland (6770), Eritrea (6790), Haiti (6790), Solomon Islands (6880), Vietnam (6880), Cape Verde (6880), Niger (6880), Ethiopia (6880), São Tomé and Príncipe (6910), Afghanistan (6940), The Gambia (6940), Bangladesh (6940), Comoros (7000), Kiribati (7030).
( D). The Carbon Debt or Carbon Credit in tonnes CO2-e or US$ for each country can be determined by multiplying the respective per capita parameters (B and C, respectively) by the population for each country (see ?List of countries by population?, Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population ). Thus, for example, the Carbon Debt is $6.5 billion ( Belize ), $17.3 billion ( Qatar ), $12.1 billion ( Australia ) and $0 for Canada and Bahrain . These countries have used up their ?fair share? of the world's terminal GHG pollution budget and are now stealing from the rest of the world. These calculations do not consider GHG pollution from fossil fuel exports but if one considers Australia's annual GHG exports implicit in coal, gas and iron exports of 1,130 million tonnes CO2-e in 2010 (see section G, ?2011 climate change course?: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/2011-climate-change-course ) and thence about 3 x 1,130 = 3,390 million tonnes in the last 3 years, then Australia's Carbon Debt is $339.0 billion plus $12.1 billion = $351.1 billion, a Carbon Debt that is increasing at over $100 billion every year. Similarly, Canada has used up its Carbon Credit and its huge Domestic GHG pollution alone from 2013 onwards (i.e. ignoring Exported GHG pollution from Alberta tar sands oil via the proposed Keystone XL pipeline or the adumbrated trans-Canada pipeline) will add to an ever-increasing Carbon Debt at the rate of US$85.4 billion per year. The Carbon Credit is a mere $72.9 billion for the US as compared to $8,247.4 billion for India , $1,200.5 billion for Pakistan , $1,058.5 billion for Bangladesh and $8,229.6 billion for China . However with only 0.1 years left relative to 2013 for US zero emissions, the US will default on Carbon Debt in a matter of weeks just as it is again on the brink of defaulting on US government debt in a few weeks' time. The US Domestic Carbon Debt is currently increasing at the rate of US$725.4 billion per year. These assessments of the Carbon Debt default and burgeoning Carbon Debt of Australia, Canada and the US are very conservative, ignore the recent re-assessment of global GHG pollution due to methanogenic livestock (see Robert Goodland and Jeff Anfang. ?Livestock and climate change. What if the key actors in climate change are ? cows, pigs and chickens??, World Watch, November/December 2009: http://www.worldwatch.org/files/pdf/Livestock%20and%20Climate%20Change.pdf ), and ignore the huge historical Carbon Debt built up by these countries through GHG pollution since 1750 (see Gideon Polya, ??Global Climate Injustice: Massive European Carbon Debt Versus South Asian Carbon Credit? , Countercurrents, 29 September 2013: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya290913.htm ). The world through the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the UN Security Council (UNSC) must demand urgent climate change action by major polluters such as the US, Australia and Canada in particular that are moving into huge Carbon Debt at the expense of Carbon Creditor countries that have not yet exceeded their ?fair share? of the world's terminal GHG pollution budget. Let us not forget that ?All men are created equal?. Forcible insistence by the US Alliance of its ?right? to exceed the safe limits and to disproportionately pollute the one common atmosphere of all countries amounts not just to climate change inaction but to intergenerational inequity, intergenerational injustice, climate racism, climate criminality, climate injustice and indeed climate terrorism against which the only sensible course is Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against climate criminal countries and corporations.
Dr Gideon Polya has been teaching science students at a major Australian university for 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has published ?Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950? (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions ?Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality? in ?Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics? (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm ) and ?Ongoing Palestinian Genocide? in ?The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book ?Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History? (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the ?forgotten? World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/social-economic-history/listen-the-bengal-famine ). When words fail one can say it in pictures - for images of Gideon Polya's huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/ .
|October 7, 2013||
America In Search Of Navigational Change
by Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja , Countercurrents.org
?The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service [forming the U.S. government] had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses. Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind?
America is fraught with favorite political perversion, shutdown of the government, torture and killings of the innocent across the globe, violence in streets and sharp indifference and betrayal to the interests of the people. Politicians always pretend to offer delusional explanation when facts of life warrant nothing but truth and responsible answers. American politicians appear despotic to look for escape from the challenges of the real politic. It is business as usual in American politics of the few. History reveals when people and nations obsessed with power transgress the limits of the Laws of God and go to far fetched lands to kill the innocents for fun and joy and destroy habitats, they do meet their own end in-waiting by the Nature of Things. America stands at that critical juncture in history. There are plenty of staunch daily Reminders to the thinking people as the Divine Books (The Torah, The Bible and The Qura'an) outline sequence of catastrophic developments now taking shape in America - floods of Biblical proportion have devastated the life and habitats of people; wild fires raging in nine or more states destroying all that was vital to life and natural environment; continuous unseasoned tornadoes, snowfalls, lightings and untold destructions of life by designs of human ignorance and greed - perpetuated violence making America's every day as a killing day for the innocent people. A 21 st century knowledge-based advanced society manned by politicians of small wisdom but big mouth using spy networks, fear, bogus wars on terrorism, drone warfare against innocent civilians in Pakistan, and violence against their own consciousness. They mark guns as killers. But Guns do not kill; ignorance, political insanity and mentally sick people kill other people. These are critical warnings to those capable of thinking for a navigational change. Most nations of the past claiming to be powerful were victims of their own cruel plans and were destroyed by natural causes. Politicians are just spectators, not moral and responsible beings to do practical things than argue political agendas of their own. For sure, beauty and beast cannot be combined in one character, wickedness and righteousness cannot be characteristics of one human role model, light and darkness float interchangeably and right and wrong cannot go together in one mind and human conscience. There is no political or a natural sense of equilibrium ? what America is or what it should be? As citizens in a highly globalize spectrum of sensitivities, we ponder upon how best to be normal under man-made abnormal events and developments affecting our lives daily and seen and unseen by the human mind and eyes. Undoubtedly, human beings are specie or perhaps an existing dot on the screen in a living Universe beyond our limited knowledge, imagination and understanding. In every age, people of knowledge and conscience try to co-exist with the Nature of Things. But America faces challenges of co-existing on many fronts, some are visible, others unknown to intelligent and sophisticated minds. In all ages of global affairs, there are challenges and opportunities for the mankind to deal with and to articulate a better future. Man (human being) is the only creation of God enriched with power of rational thinking and actions for all the other creations within the Universe. American history, perceptions and working policies are all overwhelmingly influenced and managed by the political minds, not necessarily connected to Hans Morganthaus's realism to futuristic politics (Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, 1978):
?Realism, believing as it does in the objectivity of the laws of politics?, points out Morganthau, the legendry theorists of the US political realism in the 20 th century that ?a theory of politics must be subjected to the dual test of reason and experience?..for realism, theory consists in ascertaining facts and giving them meaning through reason.?
At the threshold of the 21 st century, America appears to have lost the moral and intellectual capacity necessary to visualize the vision and phenomenon of Morganthau's realism in politics. The ruthlessness and lack of imagination of those politicians who are universally hated and feared have incapacitated the succeeding generations leading to obvious chaos, degeneration and political mismanagement. The current shutdown of the US Government is the net outcome of such a prevalent political behavior. The masses are fearful and feel a terrible sense of helplessness consequent to political triviality and viciousness of the few. There is nothing that people can do to change the imposed political insanity except having shouting matches in political hallways and secluded corridors of national mourners march on the political Hills. Politicians are not the people to produce tangible products and services to the challenging interests of the people but self-ordained and self-maintained houses of specific interests and of the Men of King- the ruling elite. The masses did witness a revulsion to the old oligarch thinking in shape of the Occupying and Protest movements across the US and worldwide, the 99% mankind actively challenging the illegitimate powerful governance of the 1% so called liberal democracy. It could reemerge soon if and when human conscience is reawakened by the broken promises of the few unknown minds. In his dialogue of the ?Six Principles of Realism?, Hans Morganthau notes that ?If we want to know the moral and political qualities of his (politician) actions, we must know them, not his motives.? But the contemporary politician are stage actors who pretend to be something, most often they themselves do not know what it is, for the good of the people. If they knew, asked the 87 % of American masses (according to the CNN perceptions after the 3 days of US Government shutdown) why the both houses of the Government can't agree to pass the budget and serve the interests of the people who have elected them. Immanuel Kant (?Perpetual Peace?, 1795), the German philosopher was proactive and intelligent to propose few centuries earlier that intellectuals must be seated in chosen assemblies and system of public governance to overt individualistic insanity against the people.
?Realism assumes that its key concept of interest defined as power is an objective category which is universally valid? states Morganthau that "identity of interests is the surest of bonds whether between states or individuals" The unity of bonds between the interest of people and politics is realism and this political indoctrination was incorporated by George Washington into the system of governance:
Abraham Lincoln echoed the same spirit of politics: ?I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.? Is the American dream of triumph and glory still in tact?
Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason , 1794) made it known that ?all national institutions of Churches appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and to monopolize power and profit. Now some will say are we to have no word of God, no revelation? I answer, yes, there is a word of God, there is a revelation, the word of God is in the creation we behold, and it is in this word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God, speaketh, universally to man.? -
Professor P.L. Thomas (?Obama's Failed Hope and Change: "Forget the Politicians. They are Irrelevant? Speak Out: 9/4/2013 ): puts the politicians in one nutshell: ?Forget the politicians. They are irrelevant. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice! You have owners! They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought, and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the state houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pockets and they own all the big media companies, so they control just about all of the news and information you get to hear?. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests.?
America claims to be a superpower in a global context, and the global mankind is keenly interested to know how American future will unfold in relations to peace-making and to end the confrontational ideology. If Immanuel Kant's ?Perpetual Peace? (1795) was taken seriously, today's America and Europe would have been at peace, not wars within themselves and with the global community. The crush for war is instinctively part of human ignorance and arrogance. Wars contradict the human Nature and the Nature of the living Universe. It is co-existence and peace that brings people and nations together and helps to flourish life and relationships befitting to the human Nature and the Nature of planet Earth and the larger living Universe. Mankind and civilizations grow out of peace not conflicts. None of these civilized values are part of the US official policy behavior for the present and future. If there were any global moral, spiritual and intellectual powerhouses, they should have taken initiatives to find peaceful ways and means to end the authoritarian hostilities and massacres of the innocent civilians. The history speaks loud and clear that few powerful rulers with individualistic absolutism and most often, mentally retarded persons have always driven the mankind to large scale slaughters, victimization, deprivation and long term scars of why and how it happened, it never goes away from the written pages of human history. America needs to rethink about its power in relation to the applied wisdom in global affairs. Both factors demonstrate terrible disequilibrium.
Throughout history, nations claiming to be most powerful were source of ambiguities and self-geared conflicts onward to self-destruction and America is no exception in this historical cycle. The so called wars on terrorism or global terrorism of wars have dismantled the American image of freedom and human dignity and capacity to cope with the future. Today, America is operating from a position of weakness, not strength. Its powerful individuality and obsessed absolute rulers show no sign of change and redirection in their evil mongering against the large segments of innocent humanity. Evil is deprivation of good. While goodness is precious value ingrained in the minds and hearts of the American people, but political leaders flourish in moral and intellectual decadence erecting conflicting time zones between the masses who aspire for change and the leaders imposing their egoistic agenda on the working of the governance. There are numerous political and psychological factors operating in the systematic politics that does not allow change and adaptability to the world of REASON and REALITY as envisaged by Thomas Paine, Jefferson, Morganthau and others - the forefathers of American Realism and responsible people-oriented governance. American politics is shrinking to become a place of self-interest, financial temptation and compulsion devoid of rational thinking and absolute truth. Is there a cure to political cruelty? The American masses are anxious to know: can America return to its originality of thinking values and people's interests-based system of political governance?
With 17 trillion dollars in budgetary deficit, approximately three millions Iraqi civilian killed by US led wars on terrorism in Iraq and almost one million civilians in Afghanistan and millions of wounded American and disabled veterans causality of the bogus wars against Islam and Muslims and surviving on mere food stamps; continued daily drone attacks on innocent Pakistani civilians, 18-25 war veterans daily committing suicides, insane politicians acting in egoistic behaviors, leaders without lead in the society and now the shutdown of the government point-out that more dreadful things are to come to America and it could soon be replaced by another morally and economically competent nation or group of small nations in global politics. Strangely enough in a knowledge-based age, American politicians are not mindful of this historical and unstoppable phenomenon of change. The living Universe and American politics appear to be set on a direct clash course. In situations of adversity and crises, competent leaders represent hope and optimism for navigational change, not egoistic political agenda, shutdown of the government and irrational behaviors to the interests of the people. Paul Craig Roberts (? the Next War on Washington 's Agenda . Paulcraigroberts.org 01/11/2012 ) offers a penetrating insight to the contemporary political tragedies facing the American people:
Was Alexander Pope (1688-1744), an English poet, more intelligent and proactive than the 21 st century American or European political leaders to think of the future of Man? In his remarkable literary contribution ?An Essay on Man?, Alexander Pope reminds all for all the time to come:
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
(Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Publishing Germany , May 2012).
|October 9, 2013||
More Than 500 Million People Might Face Increasing Water Scarcity
Scarcity and contamination of water is taking a toll on people, especially the poor around the world. The regions at risk under unabated global warming include the grasslands of Eastern India and the shrublands of the Tibetan Plateau.
Both freshwater availability for many millions of people and the stability of ecosystems such as the Siberian tundra or Indian grasslands are put at risk by climate change while contaminated water breeds low-weight babies, sometimes born prematurely. 
A number of studies have found:
Even if global warming is limited to two degrees above pre-industrial levels, 500 million people could be subject to increased water scarcity -- while this number would grow by a further 50 percent if GHG emissions are not cut soon. At five degrees global warming almost all ice-free land might be affected by ecosystem change.
"We managed to quantify a number of crucial impacts of climate change on the global land area," says Dieter Gerten, lead-author of one of the studies.
"The increase in water scarcity that we found will impact on the livelihoods of a huge number of people, with the global poor being the most vulnerable," says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, one of the co-authors and director of PIK. This might get buffered to some extent through adaptation measures such as expanding of irrigated cropland. However, such an expansion would further increase the pressure on Earth's ecosystems and water resources. "Now this is not a question of ducks and daisies, but of our unique natural heritage, the very basis of life. Therefore, greenhouse-gas emissions have to be reduced substantially, and soon."
Mean global warming of 2 degrees, the target set by the international community, is projected to expose an additional 8 percent of humankind to new or increased water scarcity. 3.5 degrees -- likely to occur if national emissions reductions remain at currently pledged levels -- would affect 11 percent of the world population. 5 degrees could rise this even further to 13 percent.
"If population growth continues, by the end of our century under a business-as-usual scenario these figures would equate to well over one billion lives touched," Gerten points out. "And this is on top of the more than one billion people already living in water-scarce regions today." Parts of Asia and North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Middle East are particularly vulnerable.
Greater changes ahead
For the green cover of our planet, even greater changes are in store.
"The area at risk of ecosystem transformation is expected to double between global warming of about 3 and 4 degrees," says Lila Warszawski, lead author of another study that systematically compared different impact models -- and the associated uncertainties -- in order to gain a fuller picture of the possible consequences of climate change for natural ecosystems. This is part of the international Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP).
A warming of 5 degrees, likely to happen in the next century if climate change goes on unabated, would put nearly all terrestrial natural ecosystems at risk of severe change. "So despite the uncertainties, the findings clearly demonstrate that there is a large difference in the risk of global ecosystem change under a scenario of no climate change mitigation compared to one of ambitious mitigation," says Sebastian Ostberg, lead author of the third study.
The regions at risk under unabated global warming include the grasslands of Eastern India, shrublands of the Tibetan Plateau, the forests of Northern Canada, the savannas of Ethiopia and Somalia, and the Amazonian rainforest. Many of these are regions of rich and unique biodiversity.
The combined changes to both water availability and ecosystems turn out to be nonlinear. "Our findings support the assertion that we are fundamentally destabilizing our natural systems -- we are leaving the world as we know it," says Wolfgang Lucht, one of the authors and co-chair of PIK's Research Domain of Earth System Analysis.
This is about the very basis of life
The studies use a novel methodological approach, introducing new measures of risk based on changes of vegetation structure and flows and stores of carbon and water. To this end, biosphere simulation models were used to compare hundreds of climate change scenarios and highlight which regions may first face critical impacts of climate change.
Pregnant women living in areas with contaminated drinking water may be more likely to have babies that are premature or with low birth weights (considered less than 5.5 pounds), finds a study based at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Featured in the Canadian Journal of Economics, the study finds the effects of contaminated water, which include numerous cognitive and developmental impairments, are particularly significant for babies born to less-educated mothers. These mothers also are less likely to uproot from areas with contaminated water, which, the researchers note, suggests a need for serious improvement in terms of communicating with people living in such environs.
"Fetuses are vulnerable to all types of pollution, including water contamination caused by chemicals and bacteria," said Janet Currie, the Henry Putnam Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and director of the Center for Health and Wellbeing. "This contamination can lead to a host of problems, including low-birth-weight babies who can have lifelong cognitive struggles. It's a particular problem for less-educated women who also presumably have less options in terms of housing."
"We found that infants exposed to contamination in utero tend to have mothers who are younger, less educated and less likely to be married than other mothers. They are also more likely to be African-American or Hispanic," Currie said. "The results also suggest that mothers who are less educated are less likely than other mothers to move in response to contamination, while older mothers are more likely to drink bottled water or move."
While past studies have focused on the effects of air pollution on infant health, Currie's is one of the first to evaluate the effects of water pollution on infants.
Together with researchers from Columbia University and the University of California, San Diego, Currie examined ten years of New Jersey birth records and data on drinking-water quality collected from 1997 to 2007.
Using data from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Currie and her team looked at violation records across 488 water districts in New Jersey and found that more than a quarter of districts had water contamination violations affecting more than 30,000 people. These violations included both chemical and bacterial contamination caused by such contaminants as dichloroethane -- a solvent often used for plastics or as degreasers -- as well as radon and coliform.
The researchers matched the birth records to the water systems that serve the infants' residences. Because weather can dictate the amount of water a person consumes, they also incorporated daily temperatures into their dataset.
Currie notes that when a water district is affected, the DEP is required to send a notice to all residences. However, for renters, there may be routing difficulties.
"If someone puts something in your mailbox, do you even see it? Does your landlord pick it up?" said Currie. "Notices are being sent that people don't receive. There's an undercurrent here that the way information is sent isn't adequate. We need to get this information to people directly."
Currie suggests that health-care workers include literature about water contamination risks and hazards in clinics and exam rooms to reach more pregnant women.
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|October 9, 2013||
Warming Threatens Global Food And Water Security
Over 80% of the world's ice-free land is at risk of profound ecosystem transformation by 2100 that could threaten food and water security  while the thawing of permafrost in Alaska damages roads, buildings, airport runways, and releases vast amounts of greenhouse gases .
"Essentially, we would be leaving the world as we know it," says Sebastian Ostberg of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany.
Ostberg and his colleagues studied the critical impacts of climate change on landscapes.
The study results have been published in Earth System Dynamics, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union (EGU).
The researchers state in the article that "nearly no area of the world is free" from the risk of climate change transforming landscapes substantially, unless mitigation limits warming to around 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
Ecosystem changes could include boreal forests being transformed into temperate savannas, trees growing in the freezing Arctic tundra or even a dieback of some of the world's rainforests. Such profound transformations of land ecosystems have the potential to affect food and water security, and hence impact human well-being just like sea level rise and direct damage from extreme weather events.
The study indicates that up to 86% of the remaining natural land ecosystems worldwide could be at risk of major change in a business-as-usual scenario . This assumes that the global mean temperature will be 4 to 5 degrees warmer at the end of this century than in pre-industrial times -- given many countries' reluctance to commit to binding emissions cuts, such warming is not out of the question by 2100.
"The research shows there is a large difference in the risk of major ecosystem change depending on whether humankind continues with business as usual or if we opt for effective climate change mitigation," Ostberg points out.
But even if the warming is limited to 2 degrees, some 20% of land ecosystems -- particularly those at high altitudes and high latitudes -- are at risk of moderate or major transformation, the team reveals.
The researchers studied over 150 climate scenarios, looking at ecosystem changes in nearly 20 different climate models for various degrees of global warming.
"Our study is the most comprehensive and internally consistent analysis of the risk of major ecosystem change from climate change at the global scale," says Wolfgang Lucht, also an author of the study and co-chair of the research domain Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Few previous studies have looked into the global impact of raising temperatures on ecosystems because of how complex and interlinked these systems are. "Comprehensive theories and computer models of such complex systems and their dynamics up to the global scale do not exist."
The team measured simultaneous changes in the biogeochemistry of terrestrial vegetation and the relative abundance of different vegetation species. "Any significant change in the underlying biogeochemistry presents an ecological adaptation challenge, fundamentally destabilizing our natural systems," explains Ostberg.
The researchers defined a parameter to measure how far apart a future ecosystem under climate change would be from the present state. The parameter encompasses changes in variables such as the vegetation structure (from trees to grass, for example), the carbon stored in the soils and vegetation, and freshwater availability.
He hopes the new results can help inform the ongoing negotiations on climate mitigation targets, "as well as planning adaptation to unavoidable change."
A North Pole, Alaska datelined report in USA Today describes problems the residents in the area are facing:
Up the road from Santa Claus Lane, past the candy cane-striped streetlamps, Cathy Richard's backyard has a problem that not even elves — or the big guy in red — could fix.
The wood deck moves up and down, like a slow-motion sleigh. "You leave for work and when you come home, it can be 7 inches higher," says Richard, 36, a married bookkeeper and mom of three children.
She knows the Grinch involved. Her home in this Fairbanks suburb, built in 2007, sits on land that thaws and refreezes so the concrete pillars holding up her deck have crumbled. The front walkway and garage floor are also cracking, and the lumpy lawn has fissures.
The report said:
Warmer temperatures are thawing the surface layer of land that covers most of Alaska and is known as permafrost (frozen below for at least two years in a row.) This thawing not only damages roads, buildings and airport runways, but also releases vast amounts of GHG that further warm the atmosphere — not just over Richard's house but worldwide.
The nation's last frontier is — in many ways — its ground zero for climate change. Alaska's temperatures are rising twice as fast as those in the lower 48, prompting more sea ice to disappear in summer. While this may eventually open the Northwest Passage to sought-after tourism, oil exploration and trade, it also spells trouble as wildfires increase, roads buckle and tribal villages sink into the sea.
The report added:
USA TODAY traveled to the Fairbanks area, where workers were busy insulating thaw-damaged roads this summer amid a record number of 80-degree (or hotter) days, as the eighth stop in a year-long series to explore how climate change is changing lives.
The pace of permafrost thawing is "accelerating," says Vladimir Romanovsky, who runs the University of Alaska's Permafrost Laboratory in Fairbanks. He expects widespread degradation will start in a decade or two. By mid-century, his models suggest, permafrost could thaw in at least a third of Alaska and by 2100, in two-thirds of the state.
"This rapid thawing is unprecedented" and is largely due to fossil-fuel emissions, says Kevin Schaefer of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo. He says it's already emitting its own heat-trapping carbon dioxide and methane, but the amount will skyrocket in the next 20 to 30 years. "Once the emissions start, they can't be turned off."
Telltale signs are common — from huge potholes in parking lots to collapsed hill slopes and leaning trees in what are called "drunken forests" in Denali National Park, home of the majestic Mount McKinley — North America's tallest peak.
"You can see and hear the ice melting," says Ted Schuur, a permafrost expert at the University of Florida who's doing field studies in central Alaska. He says permafrost contains soil and plant matter as well as chunks of ice as big as cars. When the ice melts, the ground sinks. He's seen it with his own cabin near Fairbanks, which was listing until he leveled one side with adjustable foundation piers.
The report cites Ruth Macchione, an 84-year-old grandmother in Fairbanks, who has also witnessed the damage.
Ruth and her late husband raised nine children in a home he built more than 50 years ago with logs that he sanded and polished. He lived there until his death in 1986 and she stayed until 2000, when she was forced to move to a small new house next door.
"Everything's tilted," she says, gazing at the old family home that is sinking into the ground. For years, she put furniture and other items on blocks to try to level them, but it got to the point where she could no longer open or close the doors.
"It's a shame," she says sadly of her partly submerged homestead. "It was well-built."
Permafrost thawing emits greenhouse gases
Permafrost has existed for eons. During the last Ice Age, it swept as far south as Missouri and Illinois. Today, most of it is located in Russia and Canada, but the United States accounts for 6% of the world's total — almost all of which exists in Alaska. It has a top "active" layer that thaws and refreezes each year and a deeper layer that remains frozen and stores organic carbon from decaying plants and animals — possibly twice as much carbon as in the atmosphere.
As air temperatures rise, the top layer thickens and more thawing occurs; its pace depends on local conditions. Some areas such as Fairbanks are particularly vulnerable, because the ground temperature now hovers near the thaw point so the permafrost is less stable and thaws less evenly.
The perils of permafrost have long been known. Back in the early 1970s, government scientists insisted that parts of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline be built above ground with refrigerated supports. The pipeline's oil is hot and, if buried underground in permafrost, could help thaw the top layer and cause potential spills.
Yet scientists have just begun in the past five to 10 years to figure out how much carbon is stored in the permafrost and what its accelerated thawing will mean for climate change — and vice versa.
"It's like burning fossil fuels," says Schaefer. He and other permafrost experts have varying estimates on how much carbon dioxide and methane will be released into the atmosphere from thawing. Yet they agree climate change is exacerbating the problem and creating a "feedback loop" or vicious circle in which thawing then exacerbates global warming.
"We're on the edge of a major transition point," Schuur says, pointing to a 2013 report he authored that found tundras worldwide may already be emitting more carbon than they absorb. He says global permafrost emissions will be significant — akin to those from current deforestation — but probably much less than those from power plants, cars and other burning of oil and gas.
These emissions weren't included in the global warming estimates developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and released in September as the first part of its Fifth Assessment Report. The report, which said with heightened certainty that humans are responsible for the planet's rising temperatures, serves as a basis for negotiating future climate treaties.
Many Alaskans are skeptical about the climate link. "Permafrost has been thawing since the last Ice Age," says Jeff Curley, an engineer for the Alaska Department of Transportation, saying its amount depends on naturally-occurring variability. He notes the state's temperatures have fluctuated every 30 or so years.
"When I'm in Alaska, I stop talking about climate change," Schuur says, adding the term has become politically charged. Still, he says Alaskans are deeply concerned about permafrost changes.
"In our region, roads affected by permafrost thawing are very common," Curley says. "There are places around Fairbanks where there's asphalt 10 feet thick, because they were filled in to keep leveling off the road on an annual basis."
Permafrost isn't Alaska's only climate problem. As its temperatures rise (up 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit year-round in the past 60 years and 6 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter), there's not enough rain to offset the higher amount of evaporation, so surface soils dry up — a drying amplified by thawing permafrost. The result? Increased risk of wildfires.
"All climate impacts are connected to each other," says Sarah Trainor, who directs the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy at the University of Alaska, noting the state has had more large wildfires in the past two decades than in the prior 40 years. Wildfires emit their own greenhouse gases that intensify global warming.
Declining sea ice creates another vicious circle. Most of the world's sea ice is in the Arctic, and since it reflects sunlight (seawater absorbs it), its loss will accelerate northern warming. And, in turn, higher temperature will melt more ice.
"We could be looking at summers with essentially no sea ice on the Arctic Ocean only a few decades from now," Mark Serreze, director of the University of Colorado-Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center, said in announcing its 2013 satellite measurements. Despite yearly ups and downs, he says the long-term trend is downward.
The loss of sea ice offers tantalizing trade opportunities, because it could make the Northwest Passage navigable more often in summer. This sea route across the Arctic Ocean hugs Alaska's coast and can now be crossed only about every seven summers. Sought by explorers for centuries as a short-cut between Europe and Asia, it could be about 50% fewer nautical miles than a trip via the Panama Canal.
Yet while the loss of sea ice could open coastal Alaska to more oil exploration, tourism and shipping, it's not likely to help native Alaskans, says Laurence Smith, a geography professor at the University of California-Los Angeles. He says melting ice may open up the sea but close off the land. Because much of Alaska is traversed in winter by ice — rather than paved — roads, he says its interior will become less accessible.
"We're more likely to see an abandonment of these northern landscapes," says Smith, author of The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization's Northern Future.
Schuur sees sea ice loss as a huge problem but worries more about permafrost, because the latter is not as well monitored. "It's a sleeping giant that affects us all."
1. Story Source:
The story is based on materials provided by European Geosciences Union (EGU).
European Geosciences Union (EGU) (2013, October 8). Terrestrial ecosystems at risk of major shifts as temperatures increase. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 9, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2013/10/131008091232.htm
2. USA Today, October 8, 2013, Wendy Koch, “Alaska sinks as climate change thaws permafrost”,
3. Even though 86% of land ecosystems are at risk if global temperature increases by 5 degrees Celsius by 2100, it is unlikely all these areas will be affected. This would mean that the worst case scenario from each climate model comes true.
|October 9, 2013||
The Fix Is In, The Revolution Is Coming
by Timothy V. Gatto , Countercurrents.org
The Republicans are against any government healthcare plan run by the government. They abhor Medicare, Social Security and anything else that places money in the hands of Americans. This is a fact, not conjecture. I can't understand why any person from the Middle Class or those on the poverty class would support these people. They work for the rich and they always have.
Let's look at the way they have governed. The one that really threw the Middle Class overboard was Ronald Reagan. He was probably the most detrimental President this nation has ever had. Every time I hear a democrat praise Ronald Reagan I get sick to my stomach. This is the guy that destroyed the Unions and gave us the "trickle-down" economic theory that so many pus-brained Republicans still believe in. Obama gives lip service to this dead Presidential creep.
No folks, the Republicans are not your friends. When George W. Bush was elected we got war for war's sake. This has been carried over by the Obama Administration. We got the FISA Laws, we got a powerful NSA to spy on everyone, everywhere, The Patriot Act, The John Warner Defense Bill that gives the President the right to use the National Guard as a police agency in violation of Posse Comitatus (a long standing part of the Constitution that says you can't use the military as a police force), and we got the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.
Now under Obama, we have the granddaddy of all unconstitutional laws, the National Defense Authorization Act that allows the President to declare that the U.S. is a "battlefield" on the "War on Terror" and that anyone (and I mean ANYONE) can be rounded up by the military and be held in "indefinite detention" until the "War on Terror" is over. He has appointed himself judge and executioner by allowing the military to kill anyone, including American citizens overseas if he deems it is in the "national interest", and he has done it.
After all of this, after all the executive orders that Bush and Obama have signed off on, after the revelations that Edward Snowden bravely disclosed at the risk of his life (not to mention PFC Manning), most stupid Americans still think that their government is "good". This is truly unbelievable. It's no big deal in America that one political party is out to destroy the Middle Class and sign all of our country's wealth over to the corporations and the Hedge fund managers that pay them, and the other political party that wants to be the global empire that forces American" Exceptionalism" down our throats while they also loot America's pocketbook for their military adventures, we are in a "lose-lose" situation.
The government could care less about the people they are supposed to represent. They have no fear of an uprising and in case one should occur, they have all their ducks in order. They play this game in Washington and mouth platitudes and talk about "the American people" like they really care. Obama will put Social security and Medicare and the Armed Forces retirement pensions up on the chopping block in a minute to save his crappy healthcare system that in itself is a giveaway to private insurers. Where are all the people that wanted a single-payer system? Those people have been completely ignored. we will always be ignored. the entire government from the top down is run by corporatists. Obama said it himself in his last press conference.
Anyone on Social Security or is retired from the military or has a pension from anywhere should be deathly afraid. The people that run this nation are out to get this money and they are trying to do it in Texas and California by "privatizing" State pension funds. Check it out on the web. There are many plans to take State run plans and turn them over to hedge fund managers by the corporate elite. These people are sacking the country of any wealth they can find and turning it over to their corporate friends that put them in office!
This is precisely why private wealth should not fund political campaigns. If there is anyone out there that believes for a moment that the thieves in Washington are looking out after the average American's interest, you are sadly mistaken. There are only a few in the Senate and the House that really care about any Americans. Rep. Alan Grayson and Sen. Bernie Sanders are the only ones that come to mind. The rest are corporate flunkies. (That includes the current progressive "heroine" Sen. Elizabeth Warren).
So how is this farce going to end? I can see it now. Obama will put ALL entitlements except Obamacare on the chopping block. The people in our government will ask all Americans to make a huge sacrifice in order to keep our nation afloat. The government will loot the Social Security trust fund to keep their military afloat and give us the finger. The really disgusting part about all of this is that the submissive American public will lie down and take it.
The really, really bad part of all of this, after a few years (or months) of living on a reduced income and reduced pensions and benefits, there will be an uprising that the government will not be able to control. People will finally revolt and after years of being lied to by the government and watching our military thrust it's might into numerous foreign nations, while living from hand to mouth while watching the upper 1% get wealthier. Their rage will be uncontrollable. There will be bloodshed on the streets as the military and the militarized police try to annihilate the civilian population of America. They will either kill us all or throw down their weapons and join the people. This is what the scenario will be.
Call me a doomsayer or call me a visionary, I don't care. I can see the writing on the wall as clear as day. I hear the things that these so-called "leaders" of America are saying and I know exactly how they are lying to the American people. This is an artificial crisis and the sad fact is that the Middle-Class and the poor of this nation are going to pay for it. They will destroy our entitlements and eliminate social programs in order to "pacify" a political party that is supported by fascists and the rich. They have an agenda and they will see it through.
Don't count on Obama to save anything except the ACA from the chopping block. He will explain how he "Had to do it" in order to get a deal from the Republican Party that doesn't even have a leg to stand on. The fix is in folks and it will be you and I that pay the heavy price, and it is you and I that will see the eventual bloodshed that will result.
Tim Gatto is former Chairman of the Liberal Party of America, Tim is a retired Army Sergeant. He currently lives in South Carolina. He is the author of "Complicity to Contempt" and "Kimchee Days" available at Oliver Arts and Open Press. Tim Gatto's new book "Contempt to Outrage" will be available soon from Oliver Arts and Open
|October 9, 2013||
Why We Must Divest From Fossil Fuel Corporations To Help Save The Biosphere And Humanity
by Dr Gideon Polya , Countercurrents.org
Divestment from fossil fuels is an important way individuals, religious organizations, social organizations in general (e.g. societies, unions) , institutions (e.g. universities), superannuation funds, pension funds, companies and indeed local, state and federal governments can take concrete action against man-made climate change that is threatening the Biosphere and Humanity. We are all morally obliged to divest from companies involved in fossil fuel exploitation and which are hell-bent on destroying the planet for short-term private profit.
The World is facing a climate emergency due to global warming from man-derived greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution. The atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration is now 400 parts per million (ppm) and increasing at 2.4 ppm per year. Until recently the atmospheric CO2 concentration was in the range of 180-300 ppm for the last 800,000 years, fluctuations in this range giving rise to successive glacial and inter-glacial periods that imposed selection pressures upon evolving humanity. The average surface temperature is now +0.8C above that in 1900 and this has already been associated with major climate, weather and biological disruptions. Indeed the species extinction rate is now 100-1,000 times greater than normal .
Collective, national responsibility for this already commenced Climate Genocide is in direct proportion to per capita national pollution of the atmosphere with greenhouse gases (GHGs). Indeed, fundamental to any international agreement on national rights to pollute our common atmosphere and oceans should be the belief that ?all men are created equal?. However reality is otherwise: ?annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution? in units of ?tonnes CO 2 -equivalent per person per year? (2005-2008 data) is 0.9 (Bangladesh), 0.9 (Pakistan), 2.2 (India), less than 3 (many African and Island countries), 3.2 (the Developing World), 5.5 (China), 6.7 (the World), 11 (Europe), 16 (the Developed World), 27 (the US) and 30 (Australia; or 74 if Australia's huge Exported CO 2 pollution is included) .
Basically we know what the problem is (man-made GHG pollution) and how to solve it. Fundamentally, as enunciated by 300.org, we need to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentration to about 300 ppm for a safe planet for all peoples and all species .
To achieve 300 ppm CO2 we must achieve the following :
1. Change of societal philosophy to one of scientific risk management and biological sustainability with complete cessation of species extinctions and zero tolerance for lying.
2. Urgent reduction of atmospheric CO 2 to a safe level of about 300 ppm as recommended by leading climate and biological scientists.
3. Rapid switch to the best non-carbon and renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tide and hydro options that are currently roughly the same market price as coal burning-based power) and to energy efficiency, public transport, needs-based production, re-afforestation and return of carbon as biochar to soils and underground storage coupled with correspondingly rapid cessation of fossil fuel burning, deforestation, methanogenic livestock production and population growth.
We understand the problem and have the technological solutions ? the impending catastrophe simply does not have to happen. Are we going to be able to overcome the current corporate lobbying-determined political stasis and act before it is too late for Humanity and the Biosphere? Is it too late to save the Biosphere? Are we all doomed?
Professor Jorgen Randers (professor at the Norwegian Business School BI and co-author of ?The Limits to Growth? in 1972, the Report to the Club of Rome, its two sequels and author of ? 2052 - A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years? ): ?I am a climate pessimist. I believe (regrettably) that humanity will not meet the climate challenge with sufficient strength to save our grandchildren from living in a climate-damaged world. Humanity (regrettably) will not make what sacrifice is necessary today in order to ensure a better life for our ancestors forty years hence. The reason is that we are narrowly focused on maximum well-being in the short term. This short-termism is reflected in the systems of governance that we have chosen to dominate our lives: Both democracy and capitalism place more emphasis on costs today that on benefits forty years in the future? In sum, I don't believe that the free market, regulation, political leadership, or public education will solve the climate problem in time. Capitalism is unable to handle this long term challenge, and democratic society is unwilling to modify the market. In my view, we need something stronger, something that can counter the root problem: Man's short-term nature. His tendency to disregard the long term consequences of current action. What can be done? Can democratic society be modified to solve the climate challenge? Eco-dictatorship may be to go too far. But something is needed to temper the short-termism of the nation state, probably something at the supranational level. For example a global central bank for climate gas emissions, introduced through democratic means ? like the normal central banks. This is easier said than done. But still necessary. Otherwise, I predict, it will be the Chinese who solve the global climate challenge - singlehandedly. Through a sequence of 5-year plans established with a clear long term vision, and executed without asking regular support from the Chinese. They are already well on the way, for the benefit of our grandchildren? [5, 6].
Many decent, informed, thoughtful individuals are realistically pessimistic about what can be done in a timely fashion to prevent climate disaster. Thus we try to live sustainably, grow vegetables, don't use air conditioners, install solar heating and solar PV on our roofs, patronize public transport and vote for pro-environment parties like the Greens and the Socialists . However the political stasis is daunting. Thus Australia, like Canada and the US, has already used up its ?fair share? of the world's terminal greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution budget of 600 Gt CO2 that must not be exceeded between 2010 and zero emissions in 2050 if we are to have a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2C temperature rise. However Australia , like Canada and the US , is committed to Business As Usual (BAU) and world?leading annual per capita GHG pollution [8, 9, 10].
Further, Australia , Canada and the US have become Murdochracies, Lobbyocracies and Corporatocracies in which Big Money trumps expert scientific opinion and effectively buys people, politicians, parties, policies, public perception of reality and political power. Thus in the recent Australian Federal elections the pro-peace, pro-science, pro-equity and pro-environment Greens gained about 9% of the vote while the pro-war, anti-science, anti-equity and anti-environment Labor and Coalition major parties gained about 33% and 45%, respectively, of the vote. Rhetoric aside, the Australian Liberal Party ? National Party Coalition Government and the Labor Opposition have the same climate change inaction policies of a derisory ?5% off 2000 GHG pollution by 2020? coupled with unlimited, huge coal, gas and iron ore exports that will see a climate criminal Australia exceed the whole world's terminal GHG pollution budget by a factor of three . Similarly, political rhetoric aside, Canada and the US are both also governed by effective climate change denialists regimes committed to effective climate change inaction policies.
The Carbon Tracker initiative is the first project of Investor Watch, a non-profit company established by its directors to align the capital markets with efforts to tackle climate change. According to Carbon Tracker: ? Between 60-80% of coal, oil and gas reserves of publicly listed companies are ?unburnable' if the world is to have a chance of not exceeding global warming of 2°C. The total coal, oil and gas reserves listed on the world's stock exchanges equals 762 GtCO 2 ? approximately a quarter of the world's total reserves [ 2,795 Gt CO2]. If you apply the same proportion to the global carbon budgets to have an 80% chance of limiting global warming to 2°C, their allocation of the carbon budget is between 125 GtCO 2 and 225 GtCO 2 , [16.4% - 29.5% of listed reserves] illustrating the scale of ?unburnable carbon'? .
Leading climate change economist Professor Lord Nicholas Stern: ? Smart investors can see that investing in companies that rely solely or heavily on constantly replenishing reserves of fossil fuels is becoming a very risky decision. The report raises serious questions as to the ability of the financial system to act on industry-wide long term risk, since currently the only measure of risk is performance against industry benchmarks.? .
Leading US environmentalist Bill McKibben has come to the same conclusion and has drawn the analogy between the divestment in fossil fuels with the divestment campaign against Apartheid in South Africa : ?Once, in recent corporate history, anger forced an industry to make basic changes. That was the campaign in the 1980s demanding divestment from companies doing business in South Africa . It rose first on college campuses and then spread to municipal and state governments; 155 campuses eventually divested, and by the end of the decade, more than 80 cities, 25 states and 19 counties had taken some form of binding economic action against companies connected to the apartheid regime. "The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century," as Archbishop Desmond Tutu put it, "but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure," especially from "the divestment movement of the 1980s" . One notes that while the anti-Apartheid divestment campaign was about getting one-man-one-vote and equal rights for all the citizens of just one country, South Africa, the fossil fuel divestment campaign is about saving the planet, saving the Biosphere, and saving all of Humanity.
The case for divestment in fossil fuels is compelling. While the direct effects of divestment by morally-sensible groups such as churches and universities may be limited, the indirect effects of stigmatisation will be vastly more substantial. Thus a key recent report from the University of Oxford : ?The outcome of the stigmatization process, which the fossil fuel divestment campaign has now triggered, poses the most far-reaching threat to fossil fuel companies and the vast energy value chain. Any direct impacts pale in comparison? [13, 14].
Something practical that disempowered climate change activists can do is to urge and apply a policy of divesting from fossil fuels. Inspired by the pro-Planet 350.org, Fossil Free campaigns for divesting in fossil fuel companies have been launched in the leading annual per capita GHG polluting countries the US , Canada and Australia . The website ?Divest from fossil fuels?  details the divestment successes so far, noting that the divestment campaign has attracted 41 institutions since 2010 . Below is a roll of honor of numerous organizations that have voted to divest from fossil fuel companies:
US church groups that have voted to divest from fossil fuels include First Parish in Cambridge Unitarian Universalist, Massachusetts ; Unitarian Universalist South Church , Portsmouth , New Hampshire ; First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, Utah; First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee; and more than 100 Evangelical Lutheran churches in Oregon .
US colleges that have voted to divest from fossil fuels include Green Mountain College, Poultney, Vermont; Sterling College, Craftsbury Common, Vermont; and College of the Atlantic, Bar Harbor, Maine.
US cities that have voted to divest from fossil fuels include Madison , Wisconsin , Bayfield , Wisconsin ; Ithaca , New York ; Boulder , Colorado ; State College , Pennsylvania ; Eugene , Oregon ; Richmond , California ; Berkeley , California ; San Francisco , California ; and Santa Monica , California .
New Zealand churches that have voted to divest from fossil fuels include the Anglican dioceses of Auckland , Waiapu, Wellington , Dunedin , and Waikato and Taranaki.
Australian churches that have voted to divest from fossil fuels include the Melbourne Unitarian Church and the NSW and ACT branches of the Uniting Church of Australia .
In Australia the Greens have argued that Australia 's Future Fund should divest from fossil fuels: ?Investing in coal, oil and gas companies is risky business. Either their vast carbon reserves are left responsibly in the ground or they are burned, fuelling catastrophic global warming. Our Future Fund, Australian investment fund for the future, should not be backing risky investment decisions with taxpayers' money? .
The world's terminal GHG pollution budget, that must not be exceeded if we are to have a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic 2C temperature rise, is 600 Gt CO2 . The fossil fuel industry intends to exploit its stock exchange-listed reserves of 762 GtCO 2 that is approximately a quarter of the world's total reserves of 2,795 Gt CO2 on combustion. However historical GHG pollution since the start of the Industrial Revolution has now brought us to the point at which an estimated 50 Gt of methane (CH4) is predicted to be released from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf in coming decades [17, 18], GHG pollution equivalent 5,250 Gt CO2-equivalent, 9 times greater than the world's terminal GHG pollution budget.. The Biosphere and thence Humanity are doomed unless this gigantic methane release can be prevented . Accordingly , we must urgently cease fossil fuel exploitation.
There are many things climate activists can do to help save the planet  but perhaps the most important at this time is to hold the greenhouse gas polluters accountable. Sensible, science-informed, humane people must apply and urge the policy of divestment from fossil fuel companies. In so doing they will not just be helping to save the planet and a decent future for our children and grandchildren, at a mundane level they will also be securing the value of their investment assets, their superannuation funds and their pension funds.
. Dr Gideon Polya ,?2011 Climate change course?: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/2011-climate-change-course .
. ?Climate Genocide?: https://sites.google.com/site/climategenocide/ .
. 300.org: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/ .
. ?Climate crisis facts and required actions?, Yarra Valley Climate Action Group: https://sites.google.com/site/yarravalleyclimateactiongroup/climate-crisis-facts-required-actions .
. Jorgen Randers, ?Systematic short-termism: Climate, capitalism and democracy?, Climate Code red, 2012: http://www.climatecodered.org/2012/11/systematic-short-termism-climate.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ClimateCodeRed+%28climate+code+red%29
. "Are we doomed??: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/are-we-doomed .
. Gideon Polya , ?Vote 1 Socialist or Green to save Humanity and Planet?, Countercurrents, 09 October, 2011: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya091011.htm .
. Gideon Polya, ? Australia 's Huge Coal, Gas & Iron Ore Exports Threaten Planet?, Countercurrents, 15 May 2012: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya150512.htm .
. Gideon Polya, ? Global Climate Injustice: Massive European Carbon Debt Versus South Asian Carbon Credit?, Countercurrents, 29 September, 2013: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya290913.htm .
. ?Carbon debt, carbon credit?: https://sites.google.com/site/carbondebtcarboncredit/ .
. The Carbon Tracker, ?Wasted capital, Unburnable carbon 2013: wasted capital and stranded assets?: http://www.carbontracker.org/wastedcapital .
. Bill McKibben, ?Global warming's terrifying new math?, Rolling Stone, 19 July 2012: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719 .
. Atif Ansar, Ben Caldecot and James Tilbury, ?? Stranded assets and the fossil fuel divestment campaign: what does divestment means for the valuation of fossil fuel assets??, Smith School for Enterprise rise and the Environment, University of Oxford , 81 pages, 2013: http://www.smithschool.ox.ac.uk/research/stranded-assets/SAP-divestment-report-final.pdf .
. Damien Carrington, ?Campaign against fossil fiuels growing, says study. Investors being persuaded to take their money out of fossil fuel sector, according to University of Oxford study?, Guardian, 8 )ct0ber 2013: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/oct/08/campaign-against-fossil-fuel-growing .
. ?Divest from fossil fuels? : https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/divest-from-fossil-fuels .
. The Greens, ?Future Fund out of coal?: http://greens.org.au/future-fund-out-coal .
. Gail Whiteman, Chris Hope and Peter Wadhams, ?Vast costs of Arctic change?, Nature, 499, 25 July 2013: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v499/n7459/pdf/499401a.pdf and http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v499/n7459/full/499401a.html .
. Scroll down to Wadhams in ?Are we doomed??: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/are-we-doomed .
. Gideon Polya, "100 ideas for climate change activists trying to save the Biosphere and Humanity", Countercurrents, 10 August 2013: http://www.countercurrents.org/polya100813.htm .
Dr Gideon Polya has been teaching science students at a major Australian university for 4 decades. He published some 130 works in a 5 decade scientific career, most recently a huge pharmacological reference text "Biochemical Targets of Plant Bioactive Compounds" (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, New York & London , 2003). He has published ?Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950? (G.M. Polya, Melbourne, 2007: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com/ ); see also his contributions ?Australian complicity in Iraq mass mortality? in ?Lies, Deep Fries & Statistics? (edited by Robyn Williams, ABC Books, Sydney, 2007: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/ockham/stories/s1445960.htm ) and ?Ongoing Palestinian Genocide? in ?The Plight of the Palestinians (edited by William Cook, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2010: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/4047-the-plight-of-the-palestinians.html ). He has published a revised and updated 2008 version of his 1998 book ?Jane Austen and the Black Hole of British History? (see: http://janeaustenand.blogspot.com/ ) as biofuel-, globalization- and climate-driven global food price increases threaten a greater famine catastrophe than the man-made famine in British-ruled India that killed 6-7 million Indians in the ?forgotten? World War 2 Bengal Famine (see recent BBC broadcast involving Dr Polya, Economics Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and others: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/social-economic-history/listen-the-bengal-famine ). When words fail one can say it in pictures - for images of Gideon Polya's huge paintings for the Planet, Peace, Mother and Child see: http://sites.google.com/site/artforpeaceplanetmotherchild/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/gideonpolya/ .
|October 10, 2013||
Racism, Colonialism And Exceptionalism
by John Scales Avery , Countercurrents.org
"What makes America different, what makes us exceptional, is that we are dedicated to act." (Barak Obama, speech, September, 2013)
It seems to be possible for nations, and the majority of their citizens, to commit the worst imaginable atrocities, including torture, murder and genocide, while feeling that what they are doing is both noble and good.. Some understanding of how this is possible can be gained by watching the 3-part BBC documentary, “The History of Racism”.
The series was broadcast by BBC Four in March 2007. and videos of the broadcasts are available on the Internet. Watching this eye-opening documentary can give us much insight into the link between racism and colonialism. We can also begin to see how both racism and colonialism are linked to US exceptionalism and neocolonialism.
Looking at the BBC documentary we can see how often in human history economic greed and colonial exploitation have been justified by racist theories. The documentary describes almost unbelievable cruelties committed against the peoples of the Americas and Africa by Europeans. For example, in the Congo, a vast region which which King Leopold II of Belgium claimed as his private property, the women of villages were held as hostages while the men were forced to gather rubber in the forests. Since neither the men nor the women could produce food under these circumstances, starvation was the result.
Leopold's private army of 90,000 men were issued ammunition, and to make sure that the used it in the proper way, the army was ordered to cut off the hands of their victims and send them back as proof that the bullets had not been wasted. Human hands became a kind of currency, and hands were cut off from men, women and children when rubber quotas were not fulfilled. Sometimes more than a thousand human hands were gathered in a single day. During the rule of Leopold, roughly 10,000,000 Congolese were killed, which was approximately half the population of the region.
According to the racist theories that supported these atrocities, it was the duty of philanthropic Europeans like Leopold to bring civilization and the Christian religion to Africa. Similar theories were used to justify the genocides committed by Europeans against the native inhabitants of the Americas. Racist theories were also used to justify enormous cruelties committed by the British colonial government in India. For example, during the great famine of 1876-1878, during which ten million people died, the Viceroy, Lord Lytton, oversaw the export to England of a record 6.4 million hundredweight of wheat.
Meanwhile, in Europe,almost everyone was proud of the role which they were playing in the world. All that they read in newspapers and in books or heard from the pulpits of their churches supported the idea that they were serving the non-Europeans by bringing them the benefits of civilization and Christianity. Kipling wrote: “Take up the White Man's burden, Send forth the best ye breed, Go bind your sons to exile, To serve your captives' need; To wait in heavy harness, On fluttered folk and wild, Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child.” On the whole, the mood of Europe during this orgy of external cruelty and exploitation, was self-congratulatory.
Can we not see a parallel with the self-congratulatory mood of the American people and their allies, who export violence to the whole world, but who think of themselves as “exceptional”?
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. He can be reached at email@example.com
|October 10, 2013||
Apocalypse Imminent: Climate Crisis Will Turn To Reality By The End Of The Decade
The cities to be hit first, and the year it will begin, by irrevocable climate crisis if nothing is done to stabilize GHG emissions
Scientists from the University of Hawaii claim man-made global warming is now inevitable as the Earth is going to dangerously heat up over the next 50-years. Major cities including New York and London will fight to survive the rise in temperatures the likes of which humans have never experienced before. By 2043, 147 cities, more than half of those studied, will have shifted to a hotter temperature regime that is beyond historical records, says the study.
The researchers say the tropics will bear the brunt of the disastrous temperature increases of as much as seven-degrees-centigrade as the region will be the first to exceed the limits of historical extremes and experience an unabated heat wave that threatens biodiversity and heavily populated countries with the fewest resources to adapt. Millions of people will be displaced; millions of species will be threatened with extinction.
Frightening Projections: The unprecedented heat starts in 2020 with Manokwa , Indonesia , to be followed by Kingston , Jamaica . Within the next two decades, 59 cities will be living in what is essentially a new climate including Singapore , Havana , Kuala Lumpur and Mexico City .
Within 35 years, even the lowest monthly dips in temperatures will be hotter than we've experienced in the past 150 years, according to the new and massive analysis of all climate models.
Apocalyptic Future: By 2046, New York and Washington will get the coldest year and will be hotter than the hottest year in its past
Ecological and societal disruptions by modern climate change are critically determined by the time frame over which climates shift. Camilo Mora and colleagues in the College of Social Sciences ' Department of Geography at the University of Hawaii , Manoa have developed one such time frame.
The study "The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability," published in the October 10 issue of Nature provides an index of the year when the mean climate of any given location on Earth will shift continuously outside the most extreme records experienced in the past 150 years.
An abandoned Trafalgar Square in London
The new index shows a surprising result. Areas in the tropics are projected to experience unprecedented climates first -- within the next decade. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the index shows the average location on Earth will experience a radically different climate by 2047. Under an alternate scenario with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions stabilization, the global mean climate departure will be 2069.
Future Planet: These projections of global temperature change based on two different climate scenarios show the world from 1986-2005 and what could unfold at the end of this century with a rise in average temp from 32 to 39 degrees centigrade
"The results shocked us. Regardless of the scenario, changes will be coming soon," said lead author Camilo Mora. "Within my generation, whatever climate we were used to will be a thing of the past."
The scientists calculated the index for additional variables including evaporation, precipitation, and ocean surface temperature and pH. When looking at sea surface pH, the index indicates that we surpassed the limits of historical extremes in 2008. This is consistent with other recent studies, and is explained by the fact that ocean pH has a narrow range of historical variability and because the ocean has absorbed a considerable fraction of human-caused CO 2 emissions.
The study found that the overarching global effect of climate change on biodiversity will occur not only as a result of the largest absolute changes at the poles, but also, perhaps more urgently, from small but rapid changes in the tropics.
Tropical species are unaccustomed to climate variability and are therefore more vulnerable to relatively small changes. The tropics hold the world's greatest diversity of marine and terrestrial species and will experience unprecedented climates some 10 years earlier than anywhere else on Earth.
The study suggests that conservation planning could be undermined as protected areas will face unprecedented climates just as early and because most centers of high species diversity are located in developing countries
Rapid change will tamper with the functioning of Earth's biological systems, forcing species to either move in an attempt to track suitable climates, stay and try to adapt to the new climate, or go extinct.
"This work demonstrates that we are pushing the ecosystems of the world out of the environment in which they evolved into wholly new conditions that they may not be able to cope with. Extinctions are likely to result," said Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Global Ecology, and who was not involved in this study. "Some ecosystems may be able to adapt, but for others, such as coral reefs, complete loss of not only individual species but their entire integrity is likely."
These changes will affect our social systems as well. The impacts on the tropics have implications globally as they are home to most of the world's population, contribute significantly to total food supplies, and house much of the world's biodiversity.
In predominately developing countries, over one billion people under an optimistic scenario, and five billion under a business-as-usual-scenario, live in areas that will experience extreme climates before 2050.
This raises concerns for changes in the supply of food and water, human health, wider spread of infectious diseases, heat stress, conflicts, and challenges to economies.
"Our results suggest that countries first impacted by unprecedented climates are the ones with the least capacity to respond," said coauthor Ryan Longman, a graduate student at the University of Hawaii .
"Ironically, these are the countries that are least responsible for climate change in the first place."
"This paper is unusually important. It builds on earlier work but brings the biological and human consequences into sharper focus," said Jane Lubchenco, former Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and now of Oregon State University , who was not involved in this study. "It connects the dots between climate models and impacts to biodiversity in a stunningly fresh way, and it has sobering ramifications for species and people."
While the study describes global averages, the authors have visualized their data on an interactive map displaying when climate will exceed historical precedents for locations around the world.
"We hope that with this map people can see and understand the progression of climate change in time where they live, hopefully connecting people more closely to the issue and increasing awareness about the urgency to act," said coauthor Abby Frazier.
The index used the minimum and maximum temperatures from 1860-2005 to define the bounds of historical climate variability at any given location. The scientists then took projections for the next 100 years to identify the year in which the future temperature at any given location on Earth will shift completely outside the limits of historical precedents, defining that year as the year of climate departure.
The data came from 39 Earth System Models developed independently by 21 climate centers in 12 different countries. The models have been effective at reproducing current climate conditions and varied in their projected departure times by no more than five years.
The study suggests that any progress to slow ongoing climate change will require a larger commitment from developed countries to reduce emissions, but also more extensive funding of social and conservation programs in developing countries to minimize climate change impacts. The longer we wait, the more difficult remediation will be.
"Scientists have repeatedly warned about climate change and its likely effects on biodiversity and people," said Mora. "Our study shows that such changes are already upon us. These results should not be reason to give up. Rather, they should encourage us to reduce emissions and slow the rate of climate change. This can buy time for species, ecosystems, and ourselves to adapt to the coming changes."
Humanitarian crisis could unfold, as hundreds of millions of global warming refugees pour illegally across borders fleeing the consequences of the scorching temperature rises which might leave entire regions of the planet extinct of life.
And while the doomsday clock is ticking, with the first signs of change expected at the end of this decade, researchers of the study claim that it is too late to reverse and mankind needs to prepare for a world where the coldest years will be warmer than what we remember as the hottest.
The study predicts that even if we utilized all resources to stop and halt our current emissions, the changes are irrevocable and can only be postponed.
All things remaining the same, New York City will begin to experience dramatic, life altering temperatures by 2047, Los Angeles by 2048 and London by 2056.
However, if harmful greenhouse emissions are stabilized, New York would be able to stave off the inevitable changes until 2072 and London until 2088.
The first US cities to feel the changes would be Honolulu and Phoenix , followed by San Diego and Orlando , in 2046. Washington will get new climates around 2047, with Detroit , Houston , Chicago , Seattle , Austin and Dallas a bit later.
Mora calculated that the last of the 265 cities to move into their new climate will be Anchorage , Alaska ? in 2071. There's a five-year margin of error on the estimates.
The current projections predict that the epicenter of global warming will be at the tropics which will bear the brunt of the initial changes, with temperature rises beginning in or around Manokwari , Indonesia by 2020. Manokwari is directly on the Equator.
'We are used to the climate that we live in. With this climate change, what is going to happen is we're going to be moving outside this comfort zone,' said Mora.
'Countries first impacted by unprecedented climate change are the ones with the least economic capacity to respond. Ironically, these are the countries that are least responsible for climate change in the first place,' said Longman.
'By expanding our understanding of climate change, our paper reveals new consequences for biodiversity and highlights the urgency to take action now.'
The study shifts the way in which climate scientists have been examining the implications of GHG emissions.
While most have focused on the rapidly warming climate in the Arctic and the effects on wildlife such as polar bears and also sea levels, Mora's team are concerned with the effects on people - specifically the tropics - where the majority of the world's population lives and whose citizens have contributed the least to global warming.
It is in the already warm tropics that an increase of only a couple of degrees can alter the balance of life, crippling crops, spreading disease and leading to mass migration away to cooler climes.
The study says by the year 2047, every year that follows will probably be hotter than that record-setting scorcher.
Eventually, the coldest year in a particular city or region will be hotter than the hottest year in its past.
Mora, in a briefing with reporters on Tuesday, said if mankind continued to burn fossil fuels, the threshold for the planet as an average globally is 2047 - with temperatures rising by as much as seven degrees centigrade.
If GHG emissions are stabilized, this date is delayed only by 20 years, as an average.
But, those extra 20 years bought through emissions cuts could prove crucial for many species' survival, Mora said.
'Imagine you are on a highway, and you spot an obstacle in the road up ahead,' Mora said.
'Should you step on the gas, or hit the brake?'
'Hitting an obstacle at a slower speed will minimize the damage to the car and its occupants, in much the same way as hitting a climate threshold at a slower speed would reduce the ramifications for biological systems.
'The speed at which you face that obstacle is going to make a huge difference.'
Mora admits that his study is subject to geographic variables, saying that the changes he is predicting will not occur at the same time across the world.
Mora's research has led him to the conclusion that all the species in any of the regions affected by adverse temperature rises have three stark choices.
Either they move to a cooler climate, adapt to the warmer climate or become extinct.
However, this is where conflict could arise amongst nations as desperate and starving people try to migrate en-mass north or south to escape the arid land they have come to live in.
'We have these political boundaries that we cannot cross as easily. Like people in Mexico ? if the climate was to go crazy there, it is not like they can move to the United States ,' said Mora to NBC News.
The Mora team found that by one measurement ? ocean acidity ? Earth has already crossed the threshold into an entirely new regime. That happened in about 2008, with every year since then more acidic than the old record, according to study co-author Abby Frazier.
Of the species studied, coral reefs will be the first stuck in a new climate ? around 2030 ? and are most vulnerable to climate change, Mora said.
Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann said the research 'may actually be presenting an overly rosy scenario when it comes to how close we are to passing the threshold for dangerous climate impacts.'
'By some measures, we are already there,' he said.
* Story Source:
The story is based on materials provided by University of Hawaii at Manoa , via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
Journal Reference :
Camilo Mora, Abby G. Frazier, Ryan J. Longman, Rachel S. Dacks, Maya M. Walton, Eric J. Tong, Joseph J. Sanchez, Lauren R. Kaiser, Yuko O. Stender, James M. Anderson, Christine M. Ambrosino, Iria Fernandez-Silva, Louise M. Giuseffi, Thomas W. Giambelluca. The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability . Nature , 2013; 502 (7470): 183 DOI: 10.1038/nature12540
University of Hawaii at Manoa (2013, October 9). Urgent new time frame for climate change revealed by massive analysis. ScienceDaily . Retrieved October 10, 2013 , from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2013/10/131009133216.htm, and Mail Online, James Nye, October 10, 2013 , http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2451604/Apocalypse-Now-Unstoppable-man-climate-change-reality-end-decade-make-New-York-London-Paris-uninhabitable-45-years-says-new-study.html
|October 11, 2013||
World Bank Boosts Coal In Indonesia
The World Bank Group (WBG) is aiding an Indonesian coal-based power plant, one of the largest coal-fired power plants in southeast Asia, despite its propagated policy of discouraging coal.
According to a recently released report from the environmental group Oil Change International, the World Bank’s infrastructure program in Indonesia stipulates policies and government subsidies that promote the accelerated development of over 16 GW of coal power projects in the country ahead of developing feasible renewable alternatives.
The report “World Bank Accelerating Coal Development in Indonesia”  said:
The World Bank-created and financially backed Indonesia Infrastructure Guarantee Fund (IIGF) awarded its first government guarantee of US$33.9 million to the Central Java Power Project, a 2000 MW ultra-super critical coal plant. The Bank states that the guarantee is critical for obtaining long-term infrastructure finance. Moreover, the WBG served as the transaction advisor to this mega coal project, in which role the Bank arranged financing for the project, promoted the project to investors, and supported the project’s expansion.
Heike Mainhardt , senior subsidies analyst with Oil Change International, writes in The Price of Oil :
This huge coal project has incited strong local opposition including a lawsuit and multiple protests by thousands of local residents resulting in violent clashes with project security and the military. There is still time for the World Bank to do the right thing and halt this dirty coal project as well as further WBG support of coal development more generally.
In July, the World Bank Group (WBG) released its Energy Directions paper, in which the Bank pledged to limit coal lending to rare circumstances – only in countries with no feasible alternatives to coal. In order for this pledge to have any significance, the World Bank must immediately reverse its active support for massive coal developments in Indonesia.
Heike Mainhardt writes:
To avoid locking Indonesia into a future of dirty, climate-destroying coal and making a mockery of its Energy Directions’ pledge to limit coal financing, the World Bank must:
Kate Sheppard writes in Huffington Post :
The International Finance Corp., the private sector arm of the World Bank, is serving as the transaction adviser for the coal-fired power plant in Indonesia. As the transaction adviser, the IFC described its role as "helping ensure that the bidding was conducted according to international best practices and that the project met international environmental and social standards."
In addition, the World Bank in 2010 provided a $30 million loan to the Indonesia Infrastructure Guarantee Fund, created by the government of Indonesia to obtain financing for the power plant as well as railways to transport coal and transmission lines. The project is to be built and operated as a joint venture between Andaro Power of Indonesia and two Japanese companies.
"If they're going to take the energy directive seriously, they should tell Indonesian government that this fund shouldn't apply to coal projects," Heike Mainhardt told Huffington Post.
Josef Skoldeberg, an IFC spokesman, said the organization began involvement in the Indonesia project in 2008, and was not covered by the energy directive.
"The Energy Strategy Directions Paper is not a backward-looking document, but lays out direction for our future engagements in the sector," said Skoldeberg. He said the energy directive "applies to World Bank Group investments and advisory services in the energy sector, as well as privatization support that would enable investments."
There have been major protests against the plant in Indonesia. "Around 7,000 villagers who living around the proposed site of Central Java Coal Power Plant are strongly opposed to the huge coal power project," Arif Fiyanto of Greenpeace South Asia-Indonesia, told The Huffington Post via email. "The local community insists that the coal power plant will harm their livelihood, like what happened in other areas with coal power plants."
On US position, Kate Sheppard writes:
US president Barack Obama in June called for an end to U.S. funding for fossil fuel projects abroad unless the projects use technology to capture emissions. Since that announcement, the U.S. has declined to finance a coal plant in Vietnam through the Export-Import Bank. Oil Change International argues that the policy shift should also apply to projects like the one in Indonesia.
"As the World Bank’s largest shareholder, the United States has a particular say in the World Bank’s operations," Mainhardt said in a blog post accompanying the report. "The U.S. government needs to be clear that the President's pledge is comprehensive and covers all forms of coal financing, including policy loans and financial intermediaries."
 “World Bank Accelerating Coal Development in Indonesia”, Sept 25, 2013, http://priceofoil.org/2013/09/25/world-bank-accelerating-coal-development-indonesia/
 Posted: 09/25/2013, “World Bank Aids New Coal Project Abroad, Defying Policy, Environmental Group Says”, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/25/world-bank-coal_n_3986125.html?utm_hp_ref=climate-change
|October 14, 2013||
Israeli Perpetual Terrorism
by Dr. Elias Akleh , Countercurrents.org
The world's attention is focused on the Syrian war against terrorism, on the Egyptian demonstrations and conflict, on the Tunisian demonstrations and on the daily Iraqi terrorist car bombings. The Israeli terrorism against Palestinians on the other hand has been dropped off the radar. The Israelis are taking advantage of this to intensify their terrorism, persecution, ethnic cleansing, and large scale land theft of Palestinian land.
The Israeli occupying government had intensified its Palestinian land expropriation. The Israeli terrorist army would declare a coveted piece of land as a military area, they evict its inhabitants, surround it with barbed wires, raze the land uprooting all trees, make the land barren, and eventually allow extremist squatters to move in first with mobile homes and later start building their colonies.
The Israeli military has been concentrating on two major areas; the Naqab (Negev) area and the Jordan Valley. The Naqab is home for almost 40 thousand Palestinian refugees, who were evicted from their original Palestinian towns during the Nakbah of 1948. They moved to Naqab for temporary refuge until the war ends for the hope of returning to their towns later on. When the Israeli government prevented them from returning they had no choice but to build their own shanty towns; a total of 40 villages. These villages were not recognized by the Israeli civil authority and did not provide any services to them. The Palestinians had to build their own infrastructures; homes, streets, schools, electricity and water. The Israeli government has schemed what is known as ?Praver's Plan? or ?Prawer-Begin Plan? aiming to confiscate 850 dunums of land, demolish 40 Palestinian villages, and substitute their Palestinian inhabitants with newly Jewish immigrants especially from African countries such as Ethiopia. When the residents refused to evacuate the Israeli military bulldozers moved in and started demolishing the villages. The residents did not leave but rebuilt their homes again; the Israeli bulldozers came back and demolished the homes again and again. Some villages have been demolished many times. The village of al-Araqib had been demolished 54 times so far.
Many Bedouin tribes have been living in the Jordan Valley for hundreds of years. The valley is located in the occupied West Bank yet Israeli government considers it as vital for Israel as Tel Aviv and as Jerusalem. The Israeli terrorist forces are moving in that area lately and evicting all the Bedouin tribes in the region. The Jordan Valley; extending from the Tiberias Lake north to the Dead Sea south, has a large concentration of underground water resources and Israel wants to put its hands on the entire valley. The Bedouins have been warned to leave. The Israeli army had moved in and started demolishing their tents, their barracks, their stables, and scattering their sheep flocks. Palestinian Bedouin communities such as Kherbet Makhul had been demolished four times so far. The latest was perpetrated by Israeli army at 2 o'clock in the morning while Bedouins were asleep. In an attempt to force the Bedouins to evacuate the army and extremist Israeli settlers have poisoned water wells causing the deaths of many cattle. When some European diplomats, such as the French Marion Fesneau-Castaing, attempted the delivery of humanitarian aids; tents and food, to these Bedouins last Friday October 4th the Israeli terrorist army attacked her , dragged her out of her truck, threw her on the ground, and drove the truck away confiscating it.
The Israeli government has also intensified its policy of Palestinian home demolition. This policy is a part of the bigger plan of graduated Palestinian cleansing and eviction out of their home land. The terrorist Israeli practice of demolishing Palestinian homes, infrastructure and sources of livelihoods continues to devastate Palestinian families especially in East Jerusalem and Area C in the West Bank under direct control of Israel. This policy is going on while Israeli armed extremist squatters are allowed to illegally build their small colonies on top of confiscated Palestinian hills and enjoy the protection of the Israeli army. The Palestinians are not allowed to build new homes or even build any add-ons to their homes to accommodate their family expansion. The Israeli terrorist forces would exercise their early hour routine of driving their bulldozers into some Palestinian suburbs to demolish a Palestinian home that was built without a permit. The army breaks into the Palestinian home, give the Palestinian family ten minutes to evacuate and start demolishing the home. Palestinians are denied building permits. Many Palestinians are given the order to demolish their own homes otherwise the Israeli army would demolish it and the home owner will be charged exuberant fees. In contrast Israel continues its plans of illegal colonies (settlements) building. This Israeli systematic policy of Palestinian home demolishing and colony building on confiscated Palestinian land contravenes the 4 th Geneva Convention.
As part of the whole plan of graduated choking and strangling of Palestinian communities the Israeli government is intensifying its theft of Palestinian water sources, contaminating those they could not acquire with sewage waste water, and poisoning Palestinian water wells. While many Palestinian cities suffer routine interruption of water supplies the Israelis are enjoying themselves in swimming pools, fresh water supply, and wasteful daily showers. A study by the UN Human Rights Council reported that deep water drillings by the Israeli national water company Mekorot and the Israeli agri-industrial firm Mehadrin in the occupied Jordan Valley have caused the drying up of Palestinian wells and springs. Almost 80% of all drilled water from this area is consumed by Israeli illegal colonies in the West Bank. The Palestinians are not allowed to drill their own water wells. Israeli forces routinely destroy Palestinian pools for collecting rain water under the justification of construction without permit. Many other water wells and water springs have also been destroyed, poisoned and contaminated when Israeli colonies intentionally dump their sewage waste water into Palestinian cities and agricultural land. The aim is to devastate Palestinian agriculture and economy. The British Foreign office has published c onfidential documents confirming Israel's water theft policy recommended by David Ben-Gurion in 1941 when he wrote ? We have to remember that for the Jewish state's ability to survive it must have within its borders, the waters of the [rivers] Jordan and Litani.?
Israeli army has also intensified its arrests and kidnapping of Palestinians especially children under the accusation of stone throwing. Many Palestinian children students are routinely stopped on their way to school at Israeli military checkpoints, searched, humiliated, and at times arrested. Israeli forces conduct routine middle of the night raids against Palestinian homes, where they break into the homes, smash its furniture and contents, terrorize families, drag young boys from their beds, blind fold them, dump them on the floor of a military jeep, and drive them to a prison within Israel, where their parents are not allowed to see them. The children are harshly interrogated, threatened, tortured; some are raped and then imprisoned.
Palestinian schools and students have suffered in the recent weeks a remarkable escalation in attacks by Israeli soldiers and also by extremist settlers, according to reports by Tadamun Foundation for Human Rights . These attacks, including raiding the schools and destroying their contents, as well as detaining and assaulting students, have been on the increased especially by settlers, who stormed and attacked students like what had happened in Jalud School and Beit Dajan School in Nablus, and Khader School in Bethlehem. Such terrorist practices have been intensified to a point that led many British intellectuals to write a letter entitled ?Action for Palestine? published in the Guardian newspaper calling on the Israeli authorities to end Palestinian kid's abuse.
The terror of extremist colonizers/squatters (settlers) has been notably intensified. Following the open callings of virtually every Zionist Israeli leaders such as Ben Gurion, Jabotinsky, Rafael Eitan, Arial Sharon among many others, and the calling of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel for ethnic cleansing, massacres, and eviction of Palestinians from their home land through the use of assassinations, intimidations, land confiscation, and all types of terrorists acts , the new Zionist Israeli generations are being raised on such terrorist values since their kindergarten school education. The most violent are Yeshiva (religious schools) students. Colonizers/settlers are armed and trained on the use of weapons by the Israeli army. Their youth are encouraged to form gangs and to attack Palestinian towns and terrorize its inhabitants while under the protection of Israeli soldiers. According to the Israeli Ynet News the number of cases of violence by Jewish settlers against Palestinians is on the rise: Olive groves are being uprooted, property is being vandalized , and mosques and cemeteries are being desecrated . Numerous such acts are being perpetrated against an innocent, helpless public (this is the logic of the "price tag" policy) yet the state is barely investigating them and rarely brings the culprits to justice.
Religious Extremist young Israeli occupiers/settlers in the occupied West Bank routinely attack Palestinian farmers and destroy their crops. Thousands of olive trees, the main crop for Palestinians, have been uprooted, torched, damaged, sprayed with chemicals, or cultivated by Israeli colonizers. Such crimes against olive trees are expected to intensify with the beginning of the olive season this month. Israeli spraying planes dump chemicals on Palestinian crops just before beginning of season. Water wells are poisoned and farm cattle are shot randomly. Israeli colonies/settlements have become launching points for the many terrorist attacks against Palestinian communities.
Israeli gangs vandalize Palestinian schools, mosques, churches and cemeteries. They destroy school properties, holy books and praying carpets in mosques, vandalize churches and burn their properties. According to a report in the Times of Israel , Israeli gangs don't just attack Muslims and their mosques, they also had intensified their attacks on Christians especially in Jerusalem, where they spray anti-Christian graffiti on churches, vandalize Christian properties, and attack and spit at Christian priests and nuns in the streets of Jerusalem. All Palestinians; Christians as well as Moslems, are the target of such extremist Israeli young gangs. There has been significant increase of such attacks, which reached 589 attacks between January and August 2013 compared to 370 attacks during last year.
During the last few months Zionist Jewish religious extremist organizations have intensified their breaking into and desecration of the Al-Aqsa mosque, the second holiest place for Moslems, and attacked worshippers under the protection of fully armed Israeli soldiers. Encouraged by the lack of Arab and international criticism and by encouragements of some Israeli MPs the number of such attacks on the mosque is on the rise with increasing number of violators in every incident. These extremist religious organizations believe that while the Arabs are busy with their inner conflicts they can occupy Al-Aqsa mosque and limit the number of Moslem prayers the same way they had done in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron in the ultimate goal of destroy the mosque and the building of their alleged temple. This is a very dangerous move and will invite the wrath of the whole Islamic World not just the Arabs, and will lead to devastating wars.
Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer from a Palestinian descent, born in the town of Beit-Jala. His family was first evicted from Haifa after the “Nakba” of 1948 war during the first Zionist occupation of part of Palestine, then from Beitj-Jala after the “Nakseh” of 1967 war when Zionist Israeli military expansion occupied the rest of all Palestine. He is living now in exile in the US and publish articles on the web.
|October 14, 2013||
Future Global Reforestation? Unlikely
Feeding a growing global population while also slowing or reversing global deforestation may only be possible if agricultural yields rise and/or per capita food consumption declines over the next century, finds a historic global food consumption and land use trends.
Published on October 9, 2013, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE the study by Chris Pagnutti, Chris Bauch, and Madhur Anand from the University of Guelph underscores the long-term challenge of feeding everyone while still conserving natural habitat.
To predict future global forest trends, the scientists used several centuries of global land use data from the Food and Agriculture Organization and other sources. They incorporated this data into their mathematical model designed to capture how land use transitions, including deforestation and reforestation, are driven by three key factors: agricultural yield, per capita food consumption, and world population change over time.
Based on historic trends that show growing food consumption outpacing rising agricultural yields, global forest cover is predicted to decline about 10% further, stabilizing at roughly 22% forest cover over the next century. Unless new technological advances increase yields, or strategies to decrease food consumption are introduced, a switch to global reforestation remains unlikely. Under an alternative scenario where food production and consumption stabilize, reforestation could increase global forest cover to about 35% if it occurs within the next 70 years.
The researchers also found that short-term trends in reforestation, deforestation, and abandoned agricultural land may play a role in understanding long-term forest trends.
The results suggest that equal effort should be directed toward finding ways to boost agricultural yield, disseminate those technologies to developing countries, and decrease per capita consumption, thus reducing land use pressures.
Anand elaborates, "What is new here is the provision of a set of quantitative guidelines (the mathematical model outputs) that demonstrate exactly how much improvements to agricultural yield or decreases in consumption will affect forest cover dynamics in time. Not every outcome was predictable to us before we had this model, especially the case of the 'false forest transition'."
The story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science .
Journal Reference :
Pagnutti C, Bauch CT , Anand M., Outlook on a Worldwide Forest Transition . PLOS ONE , 2013; 8(10): e75890 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075890
Public Library of Science (2013, October 9). Historic trends predict future global reforestation unlikely. ScienceDaily . Retrieved October 14, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2013/10/131009100221.htm
|October 14, 2013||
Climate Crisis Threatens The Bay Of Bengal
Climate crisis is threatening the Bay of Bengal, whose “low-lying littoral — including coastal regions of eastern India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Sumatra — is home to over half a billion people”, writes Sunil S. Amrith in The New York Times*.
In an article in the opinion section of the leading US daily Sunil writes:
“NEARLY one in four people on earth live in the countries that border the Bay of Bengal. The region is strategically vital to Asia’s rising powers.”
In the article headlined “The Bay of Bengal, in Peril From Climate Change” Sunil refers to the more than half a billion people living in the Bay’s low-lying littoral and says: They “are now acutely vulnerable to rising sea levels. Storms are a constant threat.
He refers to the Phailin, the cyclone that swept in from the bay over the weekend to strike the coastal Indian state of Odisha, leading to the evacuation of some 800,000 people.
Sunil, a teacher of history at Birkbeck College writes:
“The bay was once a maritime highway between India and China, and then was shaped by monsoons and migration as European powers exploited the region for its coffee, tea and rubber. Today the bay is being reshaped again by the forces of population growth and climate change.”
Suggesting urgent, regional cooperation in view of the “[t]he scale and pace of these challenges Sunil, author of “Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants” writes:
“But first the countries that ring the bay must rise above their political fault lines and embrace the interconnectedness of their history.”
He mentions specific cases:
“The Bay of Bengal’s coasts are under assault in every dimension: by water conflicts in the Himalayas and by drilling for oil and gas in the deep sea. The bay is a sink of pollution borne by the great rivers that spill into it, including the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Salween. Dam construction in China and India threatens downstream communities in India, Bangladesh and mainland Southeast Asia. With sea level rising and deltaic lands subsiding, saltwater intrusion onto farmlands has accelerated, with serious consequences for food production.”
Going back to history Sunil adds:
“The bay’s turbulent climate has played an outsize role in the region’s history. Sailors crossed its waters from the earliest times; their trading routes linked India, China and Southeast Asia for centuries. The bay’s natural bounty attracted the European powers in the early modern era, making it an arena for imperial competition and economic vitality. But the monsoons and their rainfall have always been volatile: periodic droughts and dangerous storms have posed a recurrent threat and shaped the region.
“In the second half of the 19th century, land-hungry investors in an expanding British Empire created tighter connections across the bay. Migration reached huge proportions in the age of the steamship. More than 25 million people crossed the bay between the 1870s and the 1930s; most of them were young men from southern and eastern India destined for the tea estates of Sri Lanka, the rubber plantations of Malaysia and the docks and rice mills of Myanmar. Combined with the concurrent movement of Chinese to Southeast Asia, this was one of the world’s great migrations, though much of it was circular rather than permanent.
“This surge in migration coincided with two of the worst cases in a millennium of the failure of monsoons to bring needed rains. Especially intensive episodes of the phenomenon known as El Niño — the periodic warming of surface waters in the equatorial Pacific — brought drought to large sections of Asia in the 1870s and again in the 1890s. In India, millions died in the famines that ensued. Thousands sought survival overseas; many more moved locally. The people became more interdependent.
“Only families with access to credit and wide enough social networks could take advantage of opportunities overseas. Colonial law distinguished between groups who could migrate and those who could not. For those who could not, the price of leaving was often the servitude of indentured labor across the bay. Poverty was as likely as sudden disaster to propel people’s journeys. Once patterns of migration were established, they outlasted particular climatic or economic conditions.”
Referring to economic and political development at global scale Sunil writes:
“The global economic depression of the 1930s, followed by the Second World War, stemmed migration and trade. After winning independence from colonial rule in the 1940s, Asia’s new states policed their contested borders and controlled migration. Like many leaders of his generation, India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, believed that modern science had ‘curbed to a large extent the tyranny and the vagaries of nature.’”
Then he brings the deteriorating reality:
“But the tyranny and the vagaries of nature were not so easily subdued, and they have taken a dangerous turn. Climate change inaugurates an unpredictable new phase in the life of the Bay of Bengal. Scientists predict a rise in the frequency and intensity of the bay’s notorious cyclones. Over the past decade, more than 18 million people have been affected directly by tropical cyclones in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand alone.”
Making an apparent comparison he writes:
“At the same time, socially if not politically, the bay today resembles the 1890s more than the 1950s. Intraregional migration has resumed. Coastal trade is booming. Old ports that had fallen into decline have seen a revival: Sittwe in Myanmar; Chittagong in Bangladesh; the coastal towns of Tamil Nadu, with long memories of commerce with Southeast Asia.
“The bay’s history shows that spiritual traditions, language and migrant routes are as likely to track the course of coastlines or rivers as they are to cling to national borders. Migration will continue to be a source of resilience in the region, offering a lifeline to groups that cannot rely on state protection. While much of the movement will be internal within countries, some people affected by rising waters will seek safety farther from home.
“In doing so, they provoke an anxiety about borders that is a legacy of the bay’s political history.”
The present reality is mentioned in the article:
“Where local people see a fluid frontier, state officials see firm lines on a map. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that since 2012, more than 13,000 people have tried to cross the Bay of Bengal in smugglers’ boats destined for Malaysia and Thailand. Hundreds have died in the attempts; those who survive the journey face a harsh reception. Most of the refugees are Rohingya from coastal Myanmar, escaping a toxic mix of communal violence, political disenfranchisement and environmental threats. They are the most recent in a long line of people who have risked their lives to cross the bay.”
In the conclusion, Sunil suggests:
“The Bay of Bengal urgently needs more effective cooperation for environmental protection — for instance, by regulating fishing, protecting mangrove forests and curbing persistent pollutants and carbon dioxide emissions. More coordinated and humane policies on migration must also be developed. Hope for a new regionalism lies in recognizing that the bay’s history, as much as its ecology, transcends national frontiers.”
* The New York Times, October 13, 2013, Sunil S. Amrith, “The Bay of Bengal, in Peril From Climate Change”, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/14/opinion/the-bay-of-bengal-in-peril-from-climate-change.html?_r=0 A version of this op-ed appears in print on October 14, 2013, on page A25 of the New York edition with the headline: The Bay of Bengal, in Peril From Climate Change.
|October 14, 2013||
Free Trade Agreements: The Bypassing Of Democracy To Institute Plunder
by Colin Todhunter , Countercurrents.org
The EU is currently negotiating a far-reaching free trade agreement with the US, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). There are plans to enshrine extra powers for corporations in the deal as a result of a strong and persistent campaign by industry lobby groups and unscrupulous law firms to allow powerful corporations to challenge regulations both at home and abroad if they affect profits. The watchdog organization Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) states that EU member states could find domestic laws to protect the public interest quite useless as they become challenged in secretive, offshore tribunals where national laws have no weight and politicians no powers to intervene.
It would enable US companies investing in Europe to bypass European courts and challenge EU governments at international tribunals whenever they find that laws in the area of public health, environmental or social protection interfere with their profits. EU companies investing abroad would have the same privilege in the US. This proposed agreement (and others like it around the world) is essentially a charter for the systematic destruction and dismantling of legislation that exists to protect the hard won rights of workers and ordinary people.
Across the world, big business has already used such investor-state dispute settlement provisions in trade and investment agreements to claim massive sums in compensation. It is often the case that the mere threat of a claim or its submission is enough for legislation to be shelved or diluted. In fact, tribunals, consisting of ad hoc three-member panels hired from a small club of private lawyers riddled with conflicts of interest, have granted billions of Euros to companies, courtesy of taxpayers.
With India and the EU, among others, also currently negotiating a free trade agreement, it all adds up to big companies trying to by-pass legislation that was implemented to safeguard the public’s rights. Kavaljit Singh of the Madhyam research institute in India argues that we could see the Indian government being sued by multinational companies for billions of dollars in private arbitration panels outside of Indian courts if national laws, policies, court decisions or other actions are perceived to interfere with their investments. It constitutes little more than an old-fashioned recipe for imperialist plunder by Western interests (1).
Singh’s concerns should be dismissed at our peril because CEO provides many examples of where and when the by-passing of national legislation has already happened. Through bilateral investment treaties, US tobacco giant Philip Morris is suing Uruguay and Australia over their anti-smoking laws. The company argues that warning labels on cigarette packs and plain packaging prevent it from effectively displaying its trademark, causing a substantial loss of market share.
When Argentina froze utility rates (energy, water, etc.) and devalued its currency in response to its 2001-2002 financial crisis, it was hit by over 40 lawsuits from companies like CMS Energy (US) and Suez and Vivendi (France). By the end of 2008, awards against the country had totalled US$1.15 billion.
On the basis of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the US, Canada and Mexico, US company Lone Pine Resources Inc. is demanding US$250 million in compensation from Canada. The ‘crime’: The Canadian province of Quebec had put a moratorium on ‘fracking’, addressing concerns about the environmental risks of this new technology to extract oil and gas from rocks.
At the end of 2012, Dutch insurer Achmea (formerly Eureko) was awarded €22 million in compensation from Slovakia. In 2006, the Slovak government had reversed the health privatisation policies of the previous administration and required health insurers to operate on a not-for-profit basis.
It is also interesting to note that Chevron initiated arbitration to avoid paying US$18 billion to clean up oil-drilling-related contamination in the Amazonian rainforest, as ordered by Ecuadorian courts. The case has been lambasted as egregious misuse of investment arbitration to evade justice.
EU and US companies have used these lawsuits to destroy any competition or threats to their profits by challenging green energy and medicine policies, anti-smoking legislation, bans on harmful chemicals, environmental restrictions on mining, health insurance policies, measures to improve the economic situation of minorities and many more.
Various corporate lobby heavyweights all advocate the inclusion of investor-state arbitration in the EU-US free trade agreement. This is also part of a hope that an EU-US deal would set a global ‘gold standard’, a model for investment protection for other agreements around the world.
If governments and parliaments fail to act to protect the public’s interests, powerful corporations will acquire carte blanche to rein in democracy and curb policies devised for the public good. Before long, countries across the globe could see the opening of the floodgates for GMOs and shale gas, the threatening of digital and labour rights and the empowering of corporations to legally challenge a wide range of necessary and decent regulations which they dislike and label as ‘barriers to trade’.
This represents a clear attack on national sovereignty and democracy and is a damning indictment of the cosy and often ‘revolving-door’ nature of relationships between corporate officials/lobbyists and bureaucrats/government officials. If successful, such free trade agreements would cement corporate ability to raid taxpayers’ coffers even further or to wholly dictate national policies and legislation.
Are we to see the concept of democracy being totally abandoned in favour of blatant corporate plunder under the guise of 'free trade' but which is anything but!?
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
Much of the material for this article was sourced from the website of Corporate Europe Observatory. The only way to roll back the power of corporations and their strategies outlined in the article is by being informed and actively resisting. Visit CEO at: http://corporateeurope.org/get-involved
|October 15, 2013||
Is The Fossil Fuel Euphoria Realistic?
by Michael T. Klare , Countercurrents.org, TomDispatch.com
For years, energy analysts had been anticipating an imminent decline in global oil supplies. Suddenly, they’re singing a new song: Fossil fuels growing scarce? Don’t even think about it! The news couldn’t be better: fossil fuels will become ever more abundant. And all that talk about climate change? Don’t worry about it, they chant. Go out and enjoy the benefits of cheap and plentiful energy forever.
This movement from gloom about our energy future to what can only be called fossil-fuel euphoria may prove to be the hallmark of our peculiar moment. In a speech this September, for instance, Barry Smitherman, chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission (that state’s energy regulatory agency), claimed that the Earth possesses a “relatively boundless supply” of oil and natural gas. Not only that -- and you can practically hear the chorus of cheering in Houston and other oil centers -- but many of the most exploitable new deposits are located in the U.S. and Canada. As a result -- add a roll of drums and a blaring of trumpets -- the expected boost in energy is predicted to provide the United States with a cornucopia of economic and political rewards, including industrial expansion at home and enhanced geopolitical clout abroad. The country, exulted Karen Moreau of the New York State Petroleum Council, another industry cheerleader, is now in a position “to become a global superpower on energy.”
There are good reasons to be deeply skeptical of such claims, but that hardly matters when they are gaining traction in Washington and on Wall Street. What we're seeing is a sea change in elite thinking on the future availability and attractiveness of fossil fuels. Senior government officials, including President Obama, have already become infected with this euphoria, as have top Wall Street investors -- which means it will have a powerful and longlasting, though largely pernicious, effect on the country’s energy policy, industrial development, and foreign relations.
The speed and magnitude of this shift in thinking has been little short of astonishing. Just a few years ago, we were girding for the imminent prospect of “peak oil,” the point at which daily worldwide output would reach its maximum and begin an irreversible decline. This, experts assumed, would result in a global energy crisis, sky-high oil prices, and severe disruptions to the world economy.
Today, peak oil seems a distant will-o’-the-wisp. Experts at the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) confidently project that global oil output will reach 115 million barrels per day by 2040 -- a stunning 34% increase above the current level of 86 million barrels. Natural gas production is expected to soar as well, leaping from 113 trillion cubic feet in 2010 to a projected 185 trillion in 2040.
These rosy assessments rest to a surprising extent on a single key assumption: that the United States, until recently a declining energy producer, will experience a sharp increase in output through the exploitation of shale oil and natural gas reserves through hydro-fracking and other technological innovations. “In a matter of a few years, the trends have reversed,” Moreau declared last February. “There is a new energy reality of vast domestic resources of oil and natural gas brought about by advancing technology... For the first time in generations, we are able to see that our energy supply is no longer limited, foreign, and finite; it is American and abundant.”
The boost in domestic oil and gas output, it is further claimed, will fuel an industrial renaissance in the United States -- with new plants and factories being built to take advantage of abundant local low-cost energy supplies. “The economic consequences of this supply-and-demand revolution are potentially extraordinary,” asserted Ed Morse, the head of global commodities research at Citigroup in New York. America’s gross domestic product, he claimed, will grow by 2% to 3% over the next seven years as a result of the energy revolution alone, adding as much as $624 billion to the national economy. Even greater gains can be made, Morse and others claim, if the U.S. becomes a significant exporter of fossil fuels, particularly in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Not only will these developments result in added jobs -- as many as three million, claims energy analyst Daniel Yergin -- but they will also enhance America’s economic status vis-à-vis its competitors. “U.S. natural gas is abundant and prices are low -- a third of their level in Europe and a quarter of that in Japan,” Yergin wrote recently. “This is boosting energy-intensive manufacturing in the U.S., much to the dismay of competitors in both Europe and Asia.”
This fossil fuel euphoria has even surfaced in statements by President Obama. For all his talk of climate change perils and the need to invest in renewables, he has also gloated over the jump in domestic energy production and promised to facilitate further increases. “Last year, American oil production reached its highest level since 2003,” he affirmed in March 2011. “And for the first time in more than a decade, oil we imported accounted for less than half of the liquid fuel we consumed. So that was a good trend. To keep reducing that reliance on imports, my administration is encouraging offshore oil exploration and production.”
Money Pouring into Fossil Fuels
This burst of euphoria about fossil fuels and America’s energy future is guaranteed to have a disastrous impact on the planet. In the long term, it will make Earth a hotter, far more extreme place to live by vastly increasing carbon emissions and diverting investment funds from renewables and green energy to new fossil fuel projects. For all the excitement these endeavors may be generating, it hardly takes a genius to see that they mean ever more carbon dioxide heading into the atmosphere and an ever less hospitable planet.
The preference for fossil fuel investments is easy to spot in the industry’s trade journals, as well as in recent statistical data and anecdotal reports of all sorts. According to the reliable International Energy Agency (IEA), private and public investment in fossil fuel projects over the next quarter century will outpace investment in renewable energy by a ratio of three to one. In other words, for every dollar spent on new wind farms, solar arrays, and tidal power research, three dollars will go into the development of new oil fields, shale gas operations, and coal mines.
From industry sources it’s clear that big-money investors are rushing to take advantage of the current boom in unconventional energy output in the U.S. -- the climate be damned. “The dollars needed [to develop such projects] have never been larger,” commented Maynard Holt, co-president of Houston-based investment bank Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Company. “But the money is truly out there. The global energy capital river is flowing our way.”
In the either/or equation that seems to be our energy future, the capital river is rushing into the exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels, while it’s slowing to a trickle in the world of the true unconventionals -- the energy sources that don’t add carbon to the atmosphere. This, indeed, was the conclusion reached by the IEA, which in 2012 warned that the seemingly inexorable growth in greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide is likely to eliminate all prospect of averting the worst effects of climate change.
The new energy euphoria is also fueling a growing sense that the American superpower, whose influence has recently seemed to be on the wane, may soon acquire fresh geopolitical clout through its mastery of the latest energy technologies. “America’s new energy posture allows us to engage from a position of greater strength,” crowed National Security Adviser Tom Donilon in an April address at Columbia University. Increased domestic energy output, he explained, will help reduce U.S. vulnerability to global supply disruptions and price hikes. “It also affords us a stronger hand in pursuing and implementing our international security goals.”
A new elite consensus is forming around the strategic advantages of expanded oil and gas production. In particular, this outlook holds that the U.S. is benefiting from substantially reduced oil imports from the Middle East by eliminating a dependency that has led to several disastrous interventions in that region and exposed the country to periodic disruptions in oil deliveries, starting with the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74. “The shift in oil sources means the global supply system will become more resilient, our energy supplies will become more secure, and the nation will have more flexibility in dealing with crises,” Yergin wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
This turnaround, he and other experts claim, is what allowed Washington to adopt a tougher stance with Tehran in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. With the U.S. less dependent on Middle Eastern oil, so goes the argument, American leaders need not fear Iranian threats to disrupt the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf to international markets. “The substantial increase in oil production in the United States,” Donilon declared in April, is what allowed Washington to impose tough sanctions on Iranian oil “while minimizing the burdens on the rest of the world.”
A stance of what could be called petro machismo is growing in Washington, underlying such initiatives as the president’s widely ballyhooed policy announcement of a “pivot” from the Middle East to Asia (still largely words backed by only the most modest of actions) and efforts to constrain Russia’s international influence.
Ever since Vladimir Putin assumed the presidency of that country, Moscow has sought to sway the behavior of its former Warsaw Pact allies and the former republics of the Soviet Union by exploiting its dominant energy role in the region. It offered cheap natural gas to governments willing to follow its policy dictates, while threatening to cut off supplies to those that weren’t. Now, some American strategists hope to reduce Russia’s clout by helping friendly nations like Poland and the Baltic states develop their own shale gas reserves and build LNG terminals. These would allow them to import gas from “friendly” states, including the U.S. (once its LNG export capacities are expanded). “If we can export some natural gas to Europe and to Japan and other Asian nations,” Karen Moreau suggested in February, “we strengthen our relationships and influence in those places -- and perhaps reduce the influence of other producers such as Russia.”
The crucial issue is this: if American elites continue to believe that increased oil and gas production will provide the U.S. with a strategic advantage, Washington will be tempted to exercise a “stronger hand” when pursuing its “international security goals.” The result will undoubtedly be heightened international friction and discord.
Is the Euphoria Justified?
There is no doubt that the present fossil fuel euphoria will lead in troubling directions, even if the rosy predictions of rising energy output are, in the long run, likely to prove both unreliable and unrealistic. The petro machismo types make several interconnected claims:
* The world’s fossil fuel reserves are vast, especially when “unconventional” sources of fuel -- Canadian tar sands, shale gas, and the like -- are included.
* The utilization of advanced technologies, especially fracking, will permit the effective exploitation of a significant share of these untapped reserves (assuming that governments don’t restrict fracking and other controversial drilling activities).
* Fossil fuels will continue to supply an enormous share of global energy requirements for the foreseeable future, even given rising world temperatures, growing public opposition, and other challenges.
Each of these assertions is packed with unacknowledged questions and improbabilities that are impossible to explore thoroughly in an article of this length. But here are some major areas of doubt.
To begin with, those virtually “boundless” untapped oil reserves have yet to be systematically explored, meaning that it’s impossible to know if they do, in fact, contain commercially significant reserves of oil and gas. To offer an apt example, the U.S. Geological Survey, in one of the most widely cited estimates of untapped energy reserves, has reported that approximately 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves and 30% percent of its natural gas lie above the Arctic Circle. But this assessment is based on geological analyses of rock samples, not exploratory drilling. Whether the area actually holds such large reserves will not be known until widespread drilling has occurred. So far, initial Arctic drilling operations, like those off Greenland, have generally proved disappointing.
Similarly, the Energy Information Administration has reported that China possesses vast shale formations that could harbor substantial reserves of oil and gas. According to a 2013 EIA survey, that country’s technically recoverable shale gas reserves are estimated at 1,275 trillion cubic feet, more than twice the figure for the United States. Once again, however, the real extent of those reserves won’t be known without extensive drilling, which is only in its beginning stages.
To say, then, that global reserves are “boundless” is to disguise all the hypotheticals lurking within that description. Reality may fall far short of industry claims.
The effectiveness of new technologies in exploiting such problematic reserves is also open to question. True, fracking and other unconventional technologies have already substantially increased the production of hard-to-exploit fuels, including tar sands, shale gas, and deep-sea reserves. Many experts predict that such gains are likely to be repeated in the future. The EIA, for example, suggests that U.S. output of shale oil via fracking will jump by 221% over the next 15 years, and natural gas by 164%. The big question, however, is whether these projected increases will actually come to fruition. While early gains are likely, the odds are that future growth will come at a far slower pace.
As a start, the most lucrative U.S. shale formations in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and Texas have already experienced substantial exploration and many of the most attractive drilling sites (or “plays”) are now fully developed. More fracking, no doubt, will release additional oil and gas, but the record shows that fossil-fuel output tends to decline once the earliest, most promising reservoirs are exploited. In fact, notes energy analyst Art Berman, “several of the more mature shale gas plays are either in decline or appear to be approaching peak production.”
Doubts are also multiplying over the potential for exploiting shale reserves in other parts of the world. Preliminary drilling suggests that many of the shale formations in Europe and China possess fewer hydrocarbons and will be harder to develop than those now being exploited in this country. In Poland, for example, efforts to extract domestic shale reserves have been stymied by disappointing drilling efforts and the subsequent departure of major foreign firms, including Exxon Mobil and Marathon Oil.
Finally, there is a crucial but difficult to assess factor in the future energy equation: the degree to which energy companies and energy states will run into resistance when exploiting ever more remote (and environmentally sensitive) resource zones. No one yet knows how much energy industry efforts may be constrained by the growing opposition of local residents, scientists, environmentalists, and others who worry about the environmental degradation caused by unconventional energy extraction and the climate consequences of rising fossil fuel combustion. Despite industry claims that fracking, tar sands production, and Arctic drilling can be performed without endangering local residents, harming the environment, or wrecking the planet, ever more people are coming to the opposite conclusion -- and beginning to take steps to protect their perceived interests.
In New York State, for example, a fervent anti-fracking oppositional movement has prevented government officials from allowing such activities to begin in the rich Marcellus shale formation, one of the largest in the world. Although Albany may, in time, allow limited fracking operations there, it is unlikely to permit large-scale drilling throughout the state. Similarly, an impressive opposition in British Columbia to the proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline, especially by the native peoples of the region, has put that project on indefinite hold. And growing popular opposition to fracking in Europe is making itself felt across the region. The European Parliament, for example, recently imposed tough environmental constraints on the practice.
As heat waves and extreme storm activity increase, so will concern over climate change and opposition to wholesale fossil fuel extraction. The IEA warned of this possibility in the 2012 edition of its World Energy Outlook. Shale gas and other unconventional forms of natural gas are predicted to provide nearly half the net gain in world gas output over the next 25 years, the report noted. “There are,” it added, “also concerns about the environmental impact of producing unconventional gas that, if not properly addressed, could halt the unconventional gas revolution in its tracks.”
Reaction to that IEA report last November was revealing. Its release prompted a mini-wave of ecstatic commentary in the American media about its prediction that, thanks to the explosion in unconventional energy output, this country would soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer. In fact, the fossil fuel craze can be said to have started with this claim. None of the hundreds of articles and editorials written on the subject, however, bothered to discuss the caveats the report offered or its warnings of planetary catastrophe.
As is so often the case with mass delusions, those caught up in fossil fuel mania have not bothered to think through the grim realities involved. While industry bigwigs may continue to remain on an energy high, the rest of us will not be so lucky. The accelerated production and combustion of fossil fuels can have only one outcome: a severely imperiled planet.
Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and conflict studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left (Picador). A documentary movie version of his book Blood and Oil is available from the Media Education Foundation.
Copyright 2013 Michael T. Klare
|October 15, 2013||
Sea Level Rise In The 5th IPCC Report
by Stefan Rahmstorf , Countercurrents.org, Realclimate.org
What is happening to sea levels? That was perhaps the most controversial issue in the 4th IPCC report of 2007. The new report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is out now, and here I will discuss what IPCC has to say about sea-level rise (as I did here after the 4th report).
Let us jump straight in with the following graph which nicely sums up the key findings about past and future sea-level rise: (1) global sea level is rising, (2) this rise has accelerated since pre-industrial times and (3) it will accelerate further in this century. The projections for the future are much higher and more credible than those in the 4th report but possibly still a bit conservative, as we will discuss in more detail below. For high emissions IPCC now predicts a global rise by 52-98 cm by the year 2100, which would threaten the survival of coastal cities and entire island nations. But even with aggressive emissions reductions, a rise by 28-61 cm is predicted. Even under this highly optimistic scenario we might see over half a meter of sea-level rise, with serious impacts on many coastal areas, including coastal erosion and a greatly increased risk of flooding.
Fig. 1. Past and future sea-level rise. For the past, proxy data are shown in light purple and tide gauge data in blue. For the future, the IPCC projections for very high emissions (red, RCP8.5 scenario) and very low emissions (blue, RCP2.6 scenario) are shown. Source: IPCC AR5 Fig. 13.27.
In addition to the global rise IPCC extensively discusses regional differences, as shown for one scenario below. For reasons of brevity I will not discuss these further in this post.
Fig. 2. Map of sea-level changes up to the period 2081-2100 for the RCP4.5 scenario (which one could call late mitigation, with emissions starting to fall globally after 2040 AD). Top panel shows the model mean with 50 cm global rise, the following panels show the low and high end of the uncertainty range for this scenario. Note that even under this moderate climate scenario, the northern US east coast is risking a rise close to a meter, drastically increasing the storm surge hazard to cities like New York. Source: IPCC AR5 Fig. 13.19.
I recommend to everyone with a deeper interest in sea level to read the sea level chapter of the new IPCC report (Chapter 13) – it is the result of a great effort by a group of leading experts and an excellent starting point to understanding the key issues involved. It will be a standard reference for years to come.
Past sea-level rise
Understanding of past sea-level changes has greatly improved since the 4th IPCC report. The IPCC writes:
Adding together the observed individual components of sea level rise (thermal expansion of the ocean water, loss of continental ice from ice sheets and mountain glaciers, terrestrial water storage) now is in reasonable agreement with the observed total sea-level rise.
Models are also now able to reproduce global sea-level rise from 1900 AD better than in the 4th report, but still with a tendency to underestimation. The following IPCC graph shows a comparison of observed sea level rise (coloured lines) to modelled rise (black).
Fig. 3. Modelled versus observed global sea-level rise. (a) Sea level relative to 1900 AD and (b) its rate of rise. Source: IPCC AR5 Fig. 13.7.
Taken at face value the models (solid black) still underestimate past rise. To get to the dashed black line, which shows only a small underestimation, several adjustments are needed.
(1) The mountain glacier model is driven by observed rather than modelled climate, so that two different climate histories go into producing the dashed black line: observed climate for glacier melt and modelled climate for ocean thermal expansion.
(2) A steady ongoing ice loss from ice sheets is added in – this has nothing to do with modern warming but is a slow response to earlier climate changes. It is a plausible but highly uncertain contribution – the IPCC calls the value chosen “illustrative” because the true contribution is not known.
(3) The model results are adjusted for having been spun up without volcanic forcing (hard to believe that this is still an issue – six years earlier we already supplied our model results spun up with volcanic forcing to the AR4). Again this is a plausible upward correction but of uncertain magnitude, since the climate response to volcanic eruptions is model-dependent.
The dotted black line after 1990 makes a further adjustment, namely adding in the observed ice sheet loss which as such is not predicted by models. The ice sheet response remains a not yet well-understood part of the sea-level problem, and the IPCC has only “medium confidence” in the current ice sheet models.
One statement that I do not find convincing is the IPCC’s claim that “it is likely that similarly high rates [as during the past two decades] occurred between 1920 and 1950.” I think this claim is not well supported by the evidence. In fact, a statement like “it is likely that recent high rates of SLR are unprecedented since instrumental measurements began” would be more justified.
The lower panel of Fig. 3 (which shows the rates of SLR) shows that based on the Church & White sea-level record, the modern rate measured by satellite altimeter is unprecedented – even the uncertainty ranges of the satellite data and those of the Church & White rate between 1920 and 1950 do not overlap. The modern rate is also unprecedented for the Ray and Douglas data although there is some overlap of the uncertainty ranges (if you consider both ranges). There is a third data set (not shown in the above graph) by Wenzel and Schröter (2010) for which this is also true. The only outlier set which shows high early rates of SLR is the Jevrejeva et al. (2008) data – and this uses a bizarre weighting scheme, as we have discussed here at Realclimate. For example, the Northern Hemisphere ocean is weighted more strongly than the Southern Hemisphere ocean, although the latter has a much greater surface area. With such a weighting movements of water within the ocean, which cannot change global-mean sea level, erroneously look like global sea level changes. As we have shown in Rahmstorf et al. (2012), much or most of the decadal variations in the rate of sea-level rise in tide gauge data are probably not real changes at all, but simply an artefact of inadequate spatial sampling of the tide gauges. (This sampling problem has now been overcome with the advent of satellite data from 1993 onwards.) But even if we had no good reason to distrust decadal variations in the Jevrejeva data and treated all data sets the same, three out of four global tide gauge compilations show recent rates of rise that are unprecedented – enough for a “likely” statement in IPCC terms.
Future sea-level rise
For an unmitigated future rise in emissions (RCP8.5), IPCC now expects between a half metre and a metre of sea-level rise by the end of this century. The best estimate here is 74 cm.
On the low end, the range for the RCP2.6 scenario is 28-61 cm rise by 2100, with a best estimate of 44 cm. Now that is very remarkable, given that this is a scenario with drastic emissions reductions starting in a few years from now, with the world reaching zero emissions by 2070 and after that succeeding in active carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere. Even so, the expected sea-level rise will be almost three times as large as that experienced over the 20th Century (17 cm). This reflects the large inertia in the sea-level response – it is very difficult to make sea-level rise slow down again once it has been initiated. This inertia is also the reason for the relatively small difference in sea-level rise by 2100 between the highest and lowest emissions scenario (the ranges even overlap) – the major difference will only be seen in the 22nd century.
There has been some confusion about those numbers: some media incorrectly reported a range of only 26-82 cm by 2100, instead of the correct 28-98 cm across all scenarios. I have to say that half of the blame here lies with the IPCC communication strategy. The SPM contains a table with those numbers – but they are not the rise up to 2100, but the rise up to the mean over 2081-2100, from a baseline of the mean over 1985-2005. It is self-evident that this is too clumsy to put in a newspaper or TV report so journalists will say “up to 2100”. So in my view, IPCC would have done better to present the numbers up to 2100 in the table (as we do below), so that after all its efforts to get the numbers right, 16 cm are not suddenly lost in the reporting.
Table 1: Global sea-level rise in cm by the year 2100 as projected by the IPCC AR5. The values are relative to the mean over 1986-2005, so subtract about a centimeter to get numbers relative to the year 2000.
And then of course there are folks like the professional climate change down-player Björn Lomborg, who in an international newspaper commentary wrote that IPCC gives “a total estimate of 40-62 cm by century’s end” – and also fails to mention that the lower part of this range requires the kind of strong emissions reductions that Lomborg is so viciously fighting.
The breakdown into individual components for an intermediate scenario of about half a meter of rise is shown in the following graph.
Fig. 4. Global sea-level projection of IPCC for the RCP6.0 scenario, for the total rise and the individual contributions.
Higher projections than in the past
To those who remember the much-discussed sea-level range of 18-59 cm from the 4th IPCC report, it is clear that the new numbers are far higher, both at the low and the high end. But how much higher they are is not straightforward to compare, given that IPCC now uses different time intervals and different emissions scenarios. But a direct comparison is made possible by table 13.6 of the report, which allows a comparison of old and new projections for the same emissions scenario (the moderate A1B scenario) over the time interval 1990-2100(*). Here the numbers:
AR4: 37 cm (this is the standard case that belongs to the 18-59 cm range).
We see that the new estimate is about 60% higher than the old standard estimate, and also a lot higher than the AR4 attempt at including rapid ice sheet discharge.
The low estimates of the 4th report were already at the time considered too low by many experts – there were many indications of that (which we discussed back then), including the fact that the process models used by IPCC greatly underestimated the past observed sea-level rise. It was clear that those process models were not mature, and that was the reason for the development of an alternative, semi-empirical approach to estimating future sea-level rise. The semi-empirical models invariably gave much higher future projections, since they were calibrated with the observed past rise.
However, the higher projections of the new IPCC report do not result from including semi-empirical models. Remarkably, they have been obtained by the process models preferred by IPCC. Thus IPCC now confirms with its own methods that the projections of the 4th report were too low, which was my main concern at the time and the motivation for publishing my paper in Science in 2007. With this new generation of process models, the discrepancy to the semi-empirical models has narrowed considerably, but a difference still remains.
Should the semi-empirical models have been included in the uncertainty range of the IPCC projections? A number of colleagues that I have spoken to think so, and at least one has said so in public. The IPCC argues that there is “no consensus” on the semi-empirical models – true, but is this a reason to exclude or include them in the overall uncertainty that we have in the scientific community? I think there is likewise no consensus on the studies that have recently argued for a lower climate sensitivity, yet the IPCC has widened the uncertainty range to encompass them. The New York Times concludes from this that the IPCC is “bending over backward to be scientifically conservative”. And indeed one wonders whether the semi-empirical models would have been also excluded had they resulted in lower estimates of sea-level rise, or whether we see “erring on the side of the least drama” at work here.
What about the upper limit?
Coastal protection professionals require a plausible upper limit for planning purposes, since coastal infrastructure needs to survive also in the worst case situation. A dike that is only “likely” to be good enough is not the kind of safety level that coastal engineers want to provide; they want to be pretty damn certain that a dike will not break. Rightly so.
The range up to 98 cm is the IPCC’s “likely” range, i.e. the risk of exceeding 98 cm is considered to be 17%, and IPCC adds in the SPM that “several tenths of a meter of sea level rise during the 21st century” could be added to this if a collapse of marine-based sectors of the Antarctic ice sheet is initiated. It is thus clear that a meter is not the upper limit.
It is one of the fundamental philosophical problems with IPCC (causing much debate already in conjunction with the 4th report) that it refuses to provide an upper limit for sea-level rise, unlike other assessments (e.g. the sea-level rise scenarios of NOAA (which we discussed here) or the guidelines of the US Army Corps of Engineers). This would be an important part of assessing the risk of climate change, which is the IPCC’s role (**). Anders Levermann (one of the lead authors of the IPCC sea level chapter) describes it thus:
For the past six years since publication of the AR4, the UN global climate negotiations were conducted on the basis that even without serious mitigation policies global sea-level would rise only between 18 and 59 cm, with perhaps 10 or 20 cm more due to ice dynamics. Now they are being told that the best estimate for unmitigated emissions is 74 cm, and even with the most stringent mitigation efforts, sea level rise could exceed 60 cm by the end of century. It is basically too late to implement measures that would very likely prevent half a meter rise in sea level. Early mitigation is the key to avoiding higher sea level rise, given the slow response time of sea level (Schaeffer et al. 2012). This is where the “conservative” estimates of IPCC, seen by some as a virtue, have lulled policy makers into a false sense of security, with the price having to be paid later by those living in vulnerable coastal areas.
Is the IPCC AR5 now the final word on process-based sea-level modelling? I don’t think so. I see several reasons that suggest that process models are still not fully mature, and that in future they might continue to evolve towards higher sea-level projections.
1. Although with some good will one can say the process models are now consistent with the past observed sea-level rise (the error margins overlap), the process models remain somewhat at the low end in comparison to observational data.
2. Efforts to model sea-level changes in Earth history tend to show an underestimation of past sea-level changes. E.g., the sea-level high stand in the Pliocene is not captured by current ice sheet models. Evidence shows that even the East Antarctic Ice Sheet – which is very stable in models – lost significant amounts of ice in the Pliocene.
3. Some of the most recent ice sheet modelling efforts that I have seen discussed at conferences – the kind of results that came too late for inclusion in the IPCC report – point to the possibility of larger sea-level rise in future. We should keep an eye out for the upcoming scientific papers on this.
4. Greenland might melt faster than current models capture, due to the “dark snow” effect. Jason Box, a glaciologist who studies this issue, has said:
Thus, I would not be surprised if the process-based models will have closed in further on the semi-empirical models by the time the next IPCC report gets published. But whether this is true or not: in any case sea-level rise is going to be a very serious problem for the future, made worse by every ton of CO2 that we emit. And it is not going to stop in the year 2100 either. By 2300, for unmitigated emissions IPCC projects between 1 and more than 3 meters of rise.
I’m usually suspicious of articles that promise to look “behind the scenes”, but this one by Paul Voosen is not sensationalist but gives a realistic and matter-of-fact insight into the inner workings of the IPCC, for the sea-level chapter. Recommended reading!
(**) The Principles Governing IPCC Work explicitly state that its role is to “assess…risk”, albeit phrased in a rather convoluted sentence:
1. J.A. Church, and N.J. White, "Sea-Level Rise from the Late 19th to the Early 21st Century", Surveys in Geophysics, vol. 32, pp. 585-602, 2011. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10712-011-9119-1
2. R.D. Ray, and B.C. Douglas, "Experiments in reconstructing twentieth-century sea levels", Progress in Oceanography, vol. 91, pp. 496-515, 2011. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2011.07.021
4. S. Jevrejeva, J.C. Moore, A. Grinsted, and P.L. Woodworth, "Recent global sea level acceleration started over 200 years ago?", Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 35, 2008. http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2008GL033611
6. S. Rahmstorf, "A Semi-Empirical Approach to Projecting Future Sea-Level Rise", Science, vol. 315, pp. 368-370, 2007. http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1135456
Stefan Rahmstorf: A physicist and oceanographer by training, Stefan Rahmstorf has moved from early work in general relativity theory to working on climate issues. He has done research at the New Zealand Oceanographic Institute, at the Institute of Marine Science in Kiel and since 1996 at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany (in Potsdam near Berlin). His work focuses on the role of ocean currents in climate change, past and present. In 1999 Rahmstorf was awarded the $ 1 million Centennial Fellowship Award of the US-based James S. McDonnell foundation. Since 2000 he teaches physics of the oceans as a professor at Potsdam University. Rahmstorf is a member of the Advisory Council on Global Change of the German government and of the Academia Europaea. He is a lead author of the paleoclimate chapter of the 4th assessment report of the IPCC. More information about his research and publication record can be found here. Here’s a portrait in Vanity Fair.
|October 16, 2013||
Why Food Should Be A Commons Not A Commodity
by Jose Luis Vivero Pol, Countercurrents.org, Shareable.net
Food is treated as a private good in today's industrial food system, but it must be re-conceived as a common good in the transition toward a more sustainable food system that is fairer to food producers and consumers. If we were to treat food as a commons, it could be better produced and distributed by hybrid tri-centric governance systems implemented at the local level and compounded by market rules, public regulations, and collective actions. This change would have enormous ethical, legal, economic, and nutritional implications for the global food system.
A common resource versus a commodity
Food, a limited yet renewable resource that comes in both wild and cultivated forms, is essential for human existence. Over time, it has evolved from a local resource held in common into a private, transnational commodity. This process of commodification has involved the development of certain traits within food to fit the mechanized processes and regulations put in practice by the industrial food system, and it is also the latest stage in the objectification of food—a social phenomenon that has deprived food of all its non-economic attributes. As a result, the value of food is no longer based on the many dimensions that bring us security and health, including the fact that food is a:
This multidimensional view of food diverges from the mainstream industrial food system’s approach to food as a one-dimensional commodity. Even so, the industrial food system has yet to enclose, or to convert into private property, all aspects of our food commons, including:
Our most basic human need, privatized
The industrial food system’s enclosure of food through the privatization of seeds and land, legislation, excessive pricing, and patents, has played a large role in limiting our access to food as a public good. The system now feeds the majority of people living on the planet and has created a market of mass consumption where eaters become mere consumers. As such, the industrial food system’s goal is to accumulate under-priced food resources while maximizing the profit of food enterprises, instead of ensuring food’s most important non-economic qualities, such as nutrition. Many believe this has resulted in the failure of the global food system.
We can't rely on the market
Within the mainstream “no money no food” worldview, hunger still prevails in a world of abundance. Globally speaking, the industrial food system is increasingly failing to fulfill its basic goals of producing food in a sustainable manner, feeding people adequately, and avoiding hunger. The irony is that half of those who grow 70% of the world’s food go hungry today. Most believed that a market-led food system would finally lead to a healthier global population, yet none of the recent analyses of the connection between our global food system and hunger have questioned the privatization of food. As a result, most people believe food access to be the main problem of global hunger.
But reality proves otherwise. Unregulated markets simply cannot provide the necessary quantity of food for everyone—even if low-income groups were given the means to procure it. An industrial food system that views food as a commodity to be distributed according to market rules will never achieve food security for all. There won’t be a market-driven panacea for our unsustainable and unjust food system; rather the solution will require experimentation at all levels—personal, local, national, and international—and diverse approaches to governance—market-led, state-led, and collective action-led. We need to bring unconventional and radical perspectives into the food transition debate to develop a different narrative for our food system.
Practical implications of a common food system
A “re-commonification” of food—or, in other words, a transition where we work toward considering food as a commons—is an essential paradigm shift in light of our broken global food system. However, there would of course be practical consequences of this paradigm shift. Food would need to be dealt with outside of trade agreements made for pure private goods, and, as a result, we would need to establish a particular system of governance for the production, distribution, and access to food at a global level. That system might involve binding legal frameworks to fight hunger and guarantee everyone the right to food, cosmopolitan global policies, ethical and legal frameworks, universal Basic Food Entitlements or Food Security Floors guaranteed by the state, minimum salaries matched to food prices, bans on the financial speculation of food, or limits on alternative uses of food, such as biofuels.
Agricultural research and locally adapted, evidence-based technologies would highly benefit from crowdsourcing and creative-commons licensing systems to improve the sustainability and fairness of the global food system as well. When millions of people innovate, we have a far greater capacity to find adaptive and appropriate solutions than when a few thousand scientists innovate in private labs. There is more and more evidence today that the copyrighted agricultural sector is actually deterring food security innovations from scaling up, and that the freedom to copy actually promotes creativity and innovation, such as with open-source software.
What it might take to “re-commonify” of our food system
Collective civic actions, or alternative food networks, are key in the transition toward a more sustainable and fairer food system because they are built on the socio-ecological practices of civic engagement, community, and the celebration of local food. Based on Elinor Ostrom’s polycentric governance, food can be produced, consumed, and distributed by tri-centric governance schemes comprised of collective actions initially implemented at the local level; governments whose main goal is to maximize the well-being of their citizens and to provide a framework enabling people to enjoy their right to food; and a private sector that can prosper under state regulations and incentives. Today, in different parts of the world, there are many initiatives that demonstrate how such a combination yields good results for food producers, consumers, the environment, and society in general. The challenge now is to scale up those local initiatives. Self-governing collective actions cannot create the transition by themselves, thus there will be space for local governments, entrepreneurs, and self-organized communities to coexist, giving the state a leading role in the initial stage of the transition period to guarantee food for all.
We are just starting to reconsider the food narrative to guide the transition from the industrial food system toward an attainable and desirable utopia. It may take us several generations to achieve, but, as Mario Benedetti rightly pointed out, utopias keep us moving forward.
Jose Luis Vivero Pol is an anti-hunger and social rights activist with fourteen years of experience on food security policies and programs, Right to Food advocacy, nutrition interventions, and food sovereignty in Latin America, Africa, and the Caucasus. Additionally, he has experience in biodiversity conservation and plant genetic resources. An agricultural engineer by profession, he is a PhD research fellow at the Catholic University of Louvain, and his current interests include the ethical, legal, and political dimensions of the transition toward fairer and more sustainable food systems, the governance of global commons, and the motivations for biodiversity conservation and anti-hunger actions.
|October 16, 2013||
No Safe Havens In Increasingly Acid Oceans
by Stephen Leahy , Countercurrents.org, Inter Press Service
Oil, gas and coal are contaminating the world’s oceans from top to bottom, threatening the lives of more than 800 million people, a new study warns Tuesday.
“It took a year to analyse and synthesise all of the studies on the impacts of climate change on ocean species,” Camilo Mora, an ecologist at University of Hawai‘i in Honolulu and lead author, told IPS.
Mora is also lead author of ground-breaking climate study published in Nature last week.
“It was very sad to see all the responses were negative. We were hoping there might be some safe havens,” he said.
The study found that carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels are overheating the oceans, turning them acidic and reducing the amount of oxygen in seawater. This is happening too fast for most marine species to adapt and ocean ecosystems around the world will collapse.
By 2100, no corner of the oceans that cover 70 percent of the Earth’s surface will be untouched.
“The impacts of climate change will be felt from the ocean surface to the seafloor. It is truly scary to consider how vast these impacts will be,” said Andrew Sweetman of the International Research Institute of Stavanger, Norway, co-author of the PLOS Biology study published Oct. 15.
This ambitious study examined all the available research on how current and future carbon emissions are fundamentally altering the oceans. It then looked at how this will impact fish, corals, marine animals, plants and other organisms. Finally the 29 authors from 10 countries analysed how this will affect the 1.4 to 2.0 billion people who live near the oceans or depend on them for their food and income.
Some 500 million to 870 million of the world’s poorest people are likely to be unable to feed themselves or earn incomes from oceans too contaminated by fossil fuel emissions, the “Biotic and Human Vulnerability to Projected Changes in Ocean Biogeochemistry over the 21st Century” study concludes.
“We are making a big mess of the oceans. Climate change is having a major impact illustrating the need for urgent action to reduce emissions,” said Mora.
The researchers used models of projected climate change developed for the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to build their analysis. These models are validated using measurements from past decades.
Additionally the findings of the PLOS Biology study were verified using actual observations. There were some differences but not significant enough to alter the conclusions, said Mora.
More shocking is that the oceans will be dramatically altered even with reduced growth in use of fossil fuel in coming decades and major declines starting in 2050, he said.
Only an abrupt decline in consumption of oil, gas, and coal within the next 10 years will minimise the impacts on the oceans.
However, the 2013 update to the Ocean Health Index also released Tuesday did look at all current impacts on oceans. It ranked the current overall health of the oceans as a 65 out of possible 100. The index was launched in 2012 and is annual international collaboration to assess health of oceans based on 10 measures such as biodiversity, coastal livelihoods and protection, food provision.
The oceans’ ability to provide food only scored 33 out of 100, showing that food security is already at risk. It also means fish and other foods from the oceans are being harvested far faster than nature can replace them, the index reports.
China, Taiwan, Russia, India and Japan had the worst scores indicating that their regional wild-caught fisheries are nearly depleted.
“The Ocean Health Index measures how well we are sustainably producing seafood,” said Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Centre for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Fish are a vital source of protein for many but the index shows food security is at risk in some parts of the world, said Rosenberg in a release.
In regions subject to damaging storms and cyclones, the health of their coastal zones including mangroves, salt marshes, seagrass beds and coral reefs are a poor 57 out of 100, the index found. Tropical cyclones cause an estimated 26 billion dollars a year in lost property.
“Coastal habitats mitigate the damage that storms cause…. We must try to restore naturally protective coastal habitats,” Elizabeth Selig, director of Marine Science at Conservation International, said in a statement.
The Index “reveals the areas that must be improved in order to provide our children and their children a healthy thriving ocean,” said well-known oceanographer Sylvia Earle who is explorer-in-residence at National Geographic.
“This must be done as if it’s a matter of life and death – because it is,” Earle said in a statement.
Yet another independent assessment of ocean health reached a similar conclusion.
The world’s oceans are changing faster than previously thought with potentially dire consequences for both human and marine life, said the State of the Oceans report released last week by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Climate change combined with other impacts like chemical pollution and overfishing have put the oceans into a downward spiral.
“We are seeing greater change, happening faster, and the effects are more imminent than previously anticipated,” Alex Rogers of the University of Oxford and IPSO’s scientific director told IPS.
“What these latest reports make absolutely clear is that deferring action will increase costs in the future and lead to even greater, perhaps irreversible, losses,” said Dan Laffoley of the IUCN in a release.
Copyright © 2013 IPS-Inter Press Service.
|October 22, 2013||
What Collapse Feels Like, Part 4 of 5: Despair: Every Hour Offers A Choice
by Carolyn Baker, Countercurrents.org, Carolynbaker.net
Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate. ~Victor Frankl~
Similar to our siblings in the animal kingdom, we humans react instinctively to stimuli that we perceive as threatening. The heartbeat speeds up, blood pressure elevates, muscles contract, and we are poised for fight or flight. If we are bombarded with this kind of stimuli repeatedly over time, such recurring stress pummels the nervous system, and we are usually worn down into depression, despair, or both. While our physiology is similar to that of other animals, our nervous systems are more sophisticated, and in spite of the plethora of ways in which we have reprehensibly applied it, we do possess more complex consciousness than other mammals. While other life forms experience despair as unequivocally as humans do, in most cases, humans have the capacity to choose how they will manage despair, and other living beings do not.
But what is despair? Most dictionary definitions offer “the loss of hope” as the ultimate answer to this question. As I have written many times in many places, “hope” is one of the most seductive and loathsome soporifics of modern culture. In a majority of instances, hope is the last holdout of the human ego which says, “Oh, I don’t have to stare reality fully in the face. I can hold onto ‘hope’.” Clinging to hope is indicative of abdicating agency and is often one of the most perilous bulwarks of the denial infrastructure.
Why We Need Despair
However, when we consider issues such as the collapse of industrial civilization or Near-Term extinction resulting from catastrophic climate change—our role in it and how we might want to respond it, the first order of business is that we lose all hope. In the context of collapse, hope is personified in things like the notion of technology as our ultimate savior, shale oil as the antidote for peak oil, Bill McKibben as the answer to climate change, Barack Obama as Messiah (with “The Audacity of Hope” in tow), the agenda of Progressive Democratic politics as a feasible alternative to Tea Party politics, and geo-engineering as a panacea for global warming. If we prefer to keep one foot in Disneyland denial, then any or all of these are an option. If, however, we are committed to facing and telling the unmitigated truth of our predicament, then all hope must be eviscerated and as quickly as possible. Hope serves to prevent our descent into the only state of mind that offers any possibility of making sense of our predicament, namely despair.
Notice that I am purposefully reviling the word “hope.” Hope, that ‘waiting for Santa Claus’ chimera of the subservient subjects of industrial civilization, is, however, very different from “options,” “responses,” or “resilience.” The latter result not from civilization’s refusal to come to terms with a tragic sense of life, namely, that all things have a beginning, middle, and end. Rather authentic options, responses, and resilience embrace the tragic sense of life alongside utter hopelessness.
When we engage in exercising options, considering possible responses, and creating for ourselves and our communities a state of resilience, we are doing something besides allowing despair to kill us on a variety of levels. We clearly understand that longevity is not the ultimate objective. Our bodies are guaranteed to die, but choosing to develop resilience is choosing not to die just yet. And why would we want to do that? Because despite how it feels, despite the suffocating, cloying blackness of despair, some part of us knows that there is some possibility of meaning in it. In that regard, we are not alone; we stand alongside millions of other human beings throughout history who have written, spoken, composed songs, and made all manner of art—and meaning, in the face of their despair.
So if you want to insist that life is meaningless, which by the way even Nietzsche did not believe, you probably should stop reading right here. If you want me to convince you that life isn’t meaningless, well, I can’t do that, nor do I want to. It’s really none of my business, but if you have some inkling that it’s possible to find/make meaning in the throes of despair and that doing so matters in any way, you may want to continue reading.
My ultimate heroes and she-roes are the men and women who survived the holocaust and were able to write about their experiences afterward. One of those is Victor Frankl who gave us a treasure-trove of insight and inspiration as a result of his hellish ordeal. For Frankl it was all about discovering the rich and wrenching textures of his inner life. In fact, he considered “the intensification of inner life” to be one of the principal gifts in the nightmare he endured.
All human beings are victimized at some time or countless times in their lives. Repeated victimization carries with it not only the emotional pain of the victimizing experience but conditions the nervous system and psyche to expect and become tragically familiar, even comfortable with, being victimized. Over time, people can develop a victim consciousness in which they may become incapable of discerning their personal adult responsibility, that is to say, “one’s part” in a particular situation. Or conversely, one can become so enculturated in victimhood that one begins to despise humanity in general and one’s own humanity in particular. Despair and victim consciousness often travel together, and it takes a great deal of self-love and commitment to one’s own inherent value to avoid the pitfalls of self-loathing and humanity-hating vitriol. If one intends to weather the storms of planetary demise, this perspective will not serve. Nor will the commitment to meaninglessness as one’s “true north.” Says Frankl, reflecting on his Auschwitz experience, “Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on. He was soon lost.”
What will serve (which is not synonymous with staying alive) is a commitment to finding/making meaning in one’s predicament.
Victor Frankl repeatedly emphasized our capacity to choose how we want to meet suffering. Specifically, he wrote:
Frankl recognized suffering as an “essential piece not only of existence but of the meaningful life.” If there is meaning in life at all, he wrote, “then there must be meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.”
As you know, dear reader, industrial civilization does not prepare us for adopting this perspective. It fosters Victim-Tyrant relationships and constantly sends us beautifully engraved invitations to claim one or both roles, and sometimes we find ourselves alternating roles from moment to moment. But real suffering—the kind produced in holocausts, the collapse of empires, and extinction events compels the people weathering those to choose whether or not they will find meaning in their suffering or not. Or as Frankl writes: “Everywhere man is confronted with fate, with the chance of achieving something through his own suffering.” The “something” that we have a chance of achieving is to be found in whatever “something” we choose to live for. Frankl tells us that in the camp, the people who were the most resilient were those who found some very small thing to live for each day. And yes, it was our friend Nietzsche who said, “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”
But in fact, according to Frankl, the years in Auschwitz taught him something more fundamental than the meaning of life:
As I sit with the possibility of Near-Term Extinction (NTE) and Frankl’s words, I am driven to fall on my knees and make a conscious, heartfelt amends to the earth community—not once but many times. I prefer this practice to berating and beating up myself and my fellow earthlings for our multitude of sins against Gaia. If this feels like an absurdly useless activity to you, ask yourself if generalized contempt for the human race is any more useful.
Yes, our species has collectively participated in murdering the planet, but that is not all of who we are. According to Frankl, “Is it surprising that in those depths we again found only human qualities which in their very nature were a mixture of good and evil? The rift dividing good from evil, which goes through all human beings, reaches into the lowest depths and becomes apparent even on the bottom of the abyss which is laid open by the concentration camp.” Indeed there is a Goldman Sachs CEO and a greedy fracker in all of us. Until we accept that, we are still ingesting “hopium” into our veins. There is also within us a Beethoven, a Van Gogh, a Joan of Arc, and a Helen Keller.
To embrace unbridled nihilism or eschew those who speak of creating joy, beauty, humor, and moments of caring community is to enlist in the armies of the high priests of religious fundamentalism who flagellate themselves with whips of caustic cynicism and grandiose self-censure. If you think I’m talking about “feeling good” or “being happy,” you’re absolutely not hearing me. None of this is about being happy in hell, but it is all about working to keep one’s heart open in hell.
Anyone committed to nihilism and reveling in cynicism has not done the work explained in the last segment of this series of articles on “What Collapse Feels Like,” entitled “All Roads Lead To Grief.” In fact, grief work is one of many tools for living with and through our despair.
While none of us welcomes despair and most of us seek to dispel it as quickly as possible, let us learn from people like Frankl and his death camp peers. I believe that on the one hand, we need to open to being taught by our despair and at the same time, we must alleviate it by taking action. Edward Abbey declared that action is an antidote to despair. Indeed, let us take action, but at the same time understand that the horrific experiences of Frankl and others are sublime “teachers” bearing “lesson plans” for exquisitely facilitating our wholeness and spiritual evolution.
Are we willing to be taught by our despair? Taught what exactly? From Frankl’s perspective, not so much what the meaning of one’s life is, but who is asking the question. “In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.”
Two things sustained Frankl and tens of thousands of others in death camps: Love and humor. Love expands far beyond the physical being of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in the inner self of the other, whether or not that person is actually present, or even if that person is not alive at all.
Frankl’s love for his wife gave him an invaluable sense of meaning:
Most people reading this article are not living with hardship even remotely approaching the hell of Auschwitz which Frankl describes. Yet we live daily in the emotional and spiritual hell of empire and the concentration camp of Near-Term Extinction where, as Guy McPherson writes, “Only Love Remains”:
Frankl speaks of humor as “another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation” because it allows us to rise above any situation if only for a few seconds.
Indeed it is possible, according to Frankl, to practice the art of living in a concentration camp even though suffering is omnipresent. In his poem, “Peace Of The Wild Things,” Wendell Berry famously reminds us of the most profound antidote to despair, intimate connection with nature:
When despair for the world grows in me
What does it mean to “come into the presence” of these members of the earth community? I believe that it means developing an intimate relationship with them by allowing ourselves to feel them, listen to them, witness them, smell, taste, and touch them. I also believe, as Berry assures us in the last line of the poem, that in moments when we experience this level of intimacy with these beings, it is impossible to be engulfed in despair.
Die Before You Die
An adage attributed to Mohammed and also to the mystical poet, Rumi, “die before you die,” is an essential perspective for the human species that is most likely living in a hospice situation at this moment as we confront catastrophic climate change and the horrifying repercussions of the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011. All resistance to facing the deepest truths of our predicament results from an unwillingness to grapple with our own mortality. Modern humanity refuses to confront the likelihood of Near-Term Extinction (NTE) produced by human-produced climate change. More recently, humanity cannot bear to own the frightening realities of Fukushima and what that tragedy ultimately means for the termination of life on this planet.
Nearly all non-industrial cultures in the world, and many industrial ones, are willing to deal with death. Overwhelmingly, this culture is not. Yet I notice that when people are able to do so, their capacity for confronting the larger issues of our predicament is expanded. In my work with groups and individuals, I sometimes invite people to participate in a “die before you die” exercise in which I slowly and carefully accompany them through the fantasy of their own death. The experience is profound on many levels, and without exception, I have never witnessed a person who after the exercise was not more capable of addressing the myriad catastrophes confronting the earth community. In fact, what people essentially report is that after they have consciously pondered their own demise, they feel freed up to mindfully deal with what is. At the conclusion of a “die before you die” experience, one man said, “I’ve deeply confronted what my own death might be like, and after that, I can talk about anything because in full awakeness I have confronted the worst that can happen.”
Many Buddhist monastic communities practice contemplation of dead or decaying bodies. The purpose of the practice is to instill a profound consciousness of one’s own mortality and allow that awareness to inform how we live our lives. Absent a deep awareness of death, we are less likely to make sense of our lives, nor are we likely to offer love and service to other beings. Buddha suggested that we think of death with every breath and that contemplating a dead body teaches us that when we look at another person, we are seeing only externals and that the essential person is eternal and beneath the outward appearance.
The principal task of anyone residing in hospice is preparation for death, and paradoxically, that may include living more fully, mindfully, and generously than one has ever lived before. It often means savoring every human connection and every physical sensation with more awareness and appreciation than one has ever experienced in one’s life. Living in hospice means that because we are so attuned to where we’re headed, so poignantly conscious of our ultimate fate, we cherish every experience on a cellular level and take nothing for granted. Often in hospice, people discover the full spectrum of their aliveness for the first time.
Few human beings understand how deeply the fear of death runs in us. On the one hand, we live in a culture that refuses to deal with death, but at the same time, for the human ego, anything that does not allow it to remain in control of life, directly or indirectly represents the threat of death. The losses of our lives, from the most frivolous to the most momentous stir in us a fear of death because with each one, the ego diminishes a bit. Thus, in order to actually discuss and consciously prepare for one’s own literal death, the ego is required to surrender more territory than it prefers. For this reason, spiritual practices that teach us how to surrender or temper the ego in deference to the deeper or sacred self are profoundly useful in emboldening us to confront our mortality.
In addition, allowing ourselves to balance our left-brain tendencies with what our hearts and emotions naturally seek in times of both ego and literal death is crucial. Now is the time for reading and writing poetry, speaking it to another person, composing and sharing music, creating works of art, dancing, drumming, cooking a nourishing meal for a friend, and engaging in all manner of ritual, whether spiritually-based or rituals of our daily routine that we savor with unprecedented gratitude.
Thus, as we confront catastrophic climate change and planetary game-changers such as the ever-widening implications of the Fukushima disaster, it is increasingly likely that humanity is already inhabiting hospice. As tempting as it may be to leap into the left brain and begin arguing that we are not inhabiting hospice and that the notion is absurd, it may actually be more useful to notice the potential benefits of imagining such a scenario.
While hospice may be a place of profound grief and mourning of losses and missed opportunities, it may also be the context for plumbing the depths of one’s own soul as well as discovering for the first time one’s full capacity for generosity, giving, and service to others. Hospice patients often report an enhanced quality of relationships, an unprecedented savoring of even the most mundane experiences, a previously-unimagined depth of love, the capacity to appreciate humor in the face of their demise, and an aura of gratitude unlike any they have ever known. In other words, hospice may be, not unlike Frankl’s description of his time in Auschwitz, a convergence of both heaven and hell in the same moment—an energy field in which abject suffering and ineffable joy co-exist and illuminate the innermost regions of our humanity. Perhaps the poet Rumi asked the most compelling question: “What have I ever lost by dying?”
Carolyn Baker, Ph.D., was an adjunct professor of history and psychology for 11 years and a psychotherapist in private practice for 17 years. (She is not, and never has been, a licensed psychologist.) Her latest book Sacred Demise: Walking The Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization’s Collapse, is unique in its offering of emotional and spiritual tools for preparing for living in a post-industrial world. Carolyn’s forthcoming book is Navigating The Coming Chaos: A Handbook For Inner Transition. Her other books include: Coming Out From Christian Fundamentalism: Affirming Sensuality, Social Justice, and The Sacred (2007) , U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn’t Tell You (2006) and The Journey of Forgiveness, (2000) All may be purchased at this site. She is available for speaking engagements and author events and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her blog is http://carolynbaker.net
|October 24, 2013||
Rising Waters: How Fast And How Far Will Sea Levels Rise?
by Nicola Jones , Countercurrents.org, Yale Environment 360
Although the latest U.N. climate report significantly increases its projections for sea level rise this century, some scientists warn even those estimates are overly conservative. But one thing is certain: Predicting sea level rise far into the future is a very tricky task
When the scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sat down to hash out the chapter on sea level rise for their new report, which was released last month, they had their work cut out for them.
Sea level forecasts were the most controversial part of the previous report, issued in 2007: Scientists and the public alike bristled at the lowball estimate of under 60 centimeters (nearly two feet) by 2100, which, the IPCC admitted, did not include the possibility of rapid ice flow from
Greenland or the Antarctic into the sea. That was clearly important — those two ice sheets alone hold enough water to raise sea level by 65 meters, compared to 0.4 meters from all the world’s mountain glaciers. But researchers' understanding of the ice sheets was so uncertain, the IPCC said, they just couldn’t bring themselves to put a number on it. "Some things had to be neglected," says Don Chambers, sea level researcher at the University of Texas. "Because of that, the projections were on the low side."
Things today are more certain. In its latest report, released on September 27, the IPCC finally could and did put a number on ice flow from the poles. The result was an estimate of sea level rise of 28 to 98 centimeters (a maximum of more than three feet) by 2100 — more than 50 percent higher than the 2007 projections. "We have our arms around the problem well enough to say there’s a limit to how crazy things are going to get," says Ted Scambos, head scientist at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center.
But that doesn’t mean that everything about sea level is now understood. Far from it. Big questions still hang over the fate of the ice sheets, which, the IPCC admits, could bump up the most recent projections by tens of centimeters. And there are a ton of smaller factors for researchers to come to grips with.
The ocean doesn’t rise steadily like water poured into a bathtub — instead there are splashes and jiggles in its rise. Weather patterns like El Niño can shove tens of centimeters of water up onto shores for months at a time, as they did in California in 1998. Floods in Australia in late 2010 strangely resulted in water piling up on that continent, robbing the oceans of enough water to lower global sea level by 7 millimeters for more than a year. While the ocean grows, the land also shifts: The ground rises where it was once pressed down by glaciers, and river deltas sink as loose sediments compact. What looks like sea level rise in one place might really be the result of the land falling.
All this means that unravelling what the oceans are doing today is a heinously complicated task. Extrapolating their behavior is even trickier. "Predicting that into the future is very problematic," notes Chambers. Says Steve Nerem at the University of Colorado, "We all think we’re committed to a meter of sea level rise. We just don’t know exactly how quickly."
Some facts are well established. Researchers can say that global ocean levels have risen about 19 centimeters in the last century. And the rate of rise has sped up. The 20th-century average is about 1.7 millimeters per year; since 1993 the average rate has nearly doubled — to about 3.2 millimeters per year. Those sweeping statistics about decades-long trends haven’t changed much since the last IPCC report in 2007. The devil, of course, is in the details.
One problem has been attributing what, exactly, has caused the rise seen so far. Since the 1970s, for example, it is thought that about 40 to 50 percent of sea level rise was caused by 'thermal expansion' — the fact that water simply takes up more room as it gets warmer; 35 percent by melting glaciers; 5 percent because people have been extracting groundwater, using it, and pouring it into the ocean; and the remaining amount probably from melting ice at the poles. The primary reason this accounting is tricky is spotty data: Satellite measures of ocean height only go back to 1993, for example, and of the world’s more than 100,000 glaciers, there are only 17 with melt records going back 30 years or more. "We have to make huge assumptions," says Chambers.
Another problem is untangling short-term from long-term trends. The rate of sea level rise has mysteriously slowed down in the most recent decade, for example. The leading theory is that this blip is due to heat being sucked up by the deeper, colder parts of the ocean; cold water simply doesn’t expand so much on heating as warmer water does, so the sea level rise is less, says Nerem. But the slowdown isn’t expected to last.
By far the biggest question remains how fast and far the polar ice sheets will melt. For this, researchers have one key helper: the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE). Launched in 2002, these two satellites detect the mass of the ground beneath them, and so can be used to monitor the changing weight of the ice caps. "GRACE was a game changer," says Jerry Meehl, a climate modeler at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. "Before that they were guessing."
Even GRACE is not clear-cut, however. The satellites detect the end result of a combination of effects, including the change in mass caused by the shifting crust and mantle, increased snowfall, and loss of ice from melt or iceberg calving. So results are open to interpretation: The 2012 GRACE estimate for ice loss from the Antarctic was just half the best guess from 2006.
In Greenland, researchers have seen the rate of ice melt double since the 1990s, and warm water licking at the edge of the island has increased glacier calving into the sea. More snow is falling, but overall the island is losing weight and is expected to continue to do so. "For Greenland we can be confident now we really know what’s going on. All the methods are converging," says Philippe Huybrechts, an ice modeler at the Brussels Free University. Worryingly, the IPCC expects there is some global threshold — as low as 1 degree C, or as high as 4 degrees C above pre-industrial temperatures — beyond which Greenland will irreversibly melt away over hundreds of years. We’re already 0.85 degrees C warmer than 1880.
The picture of the Antarctic is far fuzzier: The error bars on IPCC projections mean that the panel cannot even say for certain that the continent will lose mass by 2100; it may actually gain a bit in the short term. The IPCC expects to see much more snowfall, particularly in the east, and it should remain too cold for the ice to simply melt away. But the continent is also losing ice from its edges as warmer water causes ice shelf collapse. There is a chance that this ice outflow could cause runaway collapse of the entire western Antarctic ice sheet. This could add several tenths of a meter to global sea level rise by 2100. "There is a lot of ice there," says David Vaughan with the British Antarctic Survey. "If it is knocked out of balance, Antarctica could quite easily become the dominant contribution."
In the face of all these uncertainties, some have taken a different predictive approach. Instead of trying to model the physics behind every process contributing to sea level rise (from thermal expansion to melting ice), they argue, why not instead simply look at how sea levels have corresponded to temperature over hundreds of years and extrapolate? These so-called 'semi-empirical' models tend to top out twice as high as the 'process-based' models, making 2 meters of sea level rise feasible for 2100 — enough to flood the homes of 187 million people. But the IPCC says it doesn’t have much confidence in these results. "They’re interesting," says Chambers, "but I don’t think they should be given as much weight as the process-based models."
A few scientists disagree, including Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research, who works on semi-empirical models. "We have two different approaches, and they give different results," says Rahmstorf. "I don’t know which one is closer to the truth. But I object to the IPCC selecting one type and dismissing the other." Other reports, notes Rahmstorf, including a 2012 assessment by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, give more pessimistic sea level predictions, going up to 2 meters by 2100.
Another way to capture the range of expert opinions is to do a formal "expert elicitation" — a structured way of simply surveying experts and asking them what they think. When two dozen ice experts were surveyed in 2012, their best guesses for polar ice loss were all over the map — but their average was higher than the IPCC’s estimates, and their range easily put sea level rise over a meter by 2100. For a middle-of-the-road emissions scenario, for example, this group guessed at a sea level rise of 33 to 132 centimeters; the upper bound of that is roughly in line with semi-empirical models, but nearly double the IPCC’s most recent estimate (which allows, to be fair, tens of centimeters of wiggle room for possible dramatic ice sheet flow from the Antarctic). "The [IPCC’s latest] AR5 process-based projections appear optimistic and over-confident when compared with views of ice sheet experts," writes glaciologist Aslak Grinsted of the University of Copenhagen on his website. There is "no good reason" for this, he adds.
This debate about whether there will be 1 or 2 meters of sea level rise by 2100, however, pales in comparison to the numbers for the long-term outlook. The last time the planet was steadily 2 degrees C warmer than pre-industrial times, some 120,000 years ago, sea levels were 5 to 10 meters higher than today. It’s likely we’ll hit 2 degrees C of warming by 2100, unless we take extreme measures to mitigate emissions. "The bigger concern is the longer term," agrees Scambos. "By the end of this century the rate of change in Greenland will be so high that the next hundred years will be dialed in for significant sea level rise."
And any given city may have to contend with worse. While 70 percent of the world will see local waters rise within 20 percent of the norm, others will see extremes. In China, the Yellow River delta is currently sinking so fast that local sea levels are rising by up to 25 centimeters per year, nearly 100 times the global average. Places that were once covered by kilometers of ice, like northern Canada, are now rebounding upwards — which means local sea levels are actually falling in some parts of Alaska. But that upward-moving land is hinging nearby areas, like the U.S. East Coast, downward by millimeters per year — adding millimeters per year to the local sea level rise there. The U.S. East Coast has another problem too: Climate change is weakening the Gulf Stream current, and that is allowing water to slop back towards shore. Overall, the U.S. East Coast is seeing rates of sea level rise that are 3 to 4 times the global average. The tropics, meanwhile, are seeing extra sea level rise thanks to a strange gravitational effect. As high-latitude ice melts, there is less mass at the poles to pull ocean water towards them; instead, the water slopes more towards the equator.
No matter which way you look at it, the result is cause for concern. "I always tell people if they live under 3 feet above sea level, they should be worried about the next 100 years," says Chambers. "We probably can adapt to a certain extent. The problem is that we’re not planning for it."
Nicola Jones is a freelance journalist based in Pemberton, British Columbia, just outside of Vancouver. With a background in chemistry and oceanography, she writes about the physical sciences, most often for the journal Nature. She has also contributed to Scientific American, Globe and Mail, and New Scientist and serves as the science journalist in residence at the University of British Columbia.
© 2008-2013 Yale University
|September 26, 2013||
Almost Too Horrible to Contemplate: Global Warming Could Destroy the Lives of 750 Million People in the Short Future
by Thom Hartmann, AlterNet, Truthout
Three quarters of a billion people is a lot of people.
And that's how many people, within the next 22 years, will almost certainly run low on water – a necessity of life – in just the regions whose rivers are supplied with water from the glaciers in the Himalayas.
To put that in perspective, 750 million people is more than twice the current population of United States. It's about the population of all of Europe. In the year 1900 there were only 500 million people on the entire planet. Seven hundred fifty million people is a lot of people.
The IPCC – the international body of scientists analyzing global climate change – is releasing its new report in stages over the next week and this early piece was reported on by the Financial Times on Monday. Under the headline "Climate Change Chief Sounds Alert on Himalayan Glaciers," the opening sentence of the article by Pilita Clark summarizes a very tightly:
"The glaciers of the Himalayas are melting so fast they will affect the water supplies of a population twice that of the US within 22 years, the head of the world's leading authority on climate change has warned."
And that's just the Himalayas and the rivers flow out of their glaciers toward South Asian regions including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and China. There are similar glaciers along the mountain ranges of western South America that supply water to other hundreds of millions of people – they are all at risk, too. We're even seen it here in the United States, with last year's drought in the West. Glaciers are changing in Europe, and the regions of Tanzania supplied by the famous "Snows Of Kilimanjaro," are drying up in ways that are creating serious drought problems for the people in those parts of Africa.
Contrary to what the front groups funded by the fossil fuel industry would have you believe, climate change doesn't just mean the winters are milder. Or the plants have more carbon dioxide.
It means that hundreds of millions of people will be displaced, will starve, and will die. It means wars. It means famines. It means raging forest fires and the death of grasslands. It means the acidification of our oceans and the destruction of our ocean ecosystems. It means that we stand on the edge of tipping points that hurtle humanity toward extinction.
There have been five mass extinctions in the history of the Earth, times when more than half of all life died and all the top predators – animals like us – vanished or nearly finished. All of these mass extinctions were provoked by geologically-sudden global warming.
And now we are driving a similar process by burning fossil fuels.
People around the world are already dying from global climate change. Wars are already being fought because of climate change. The Earth is changing before our very eyes.
There are solutions, ranging from a carbon tax to rapid transitions into alternative energy. We need to be pursuing them now.
The debate is long over. The world is waking up.
And the fossil fuel Industry is being shown for what it is – fossils promoting fossils, intellectual frauds and greedheads.
It's time to move from the energy forms of the 19th century into the modern, clean, nonpolluting energies currently available in the 21st-century. Now.
|October 17, 2013||
Keystone XL Fails the Climate Test -- See the Proof for Yourself
by Tara Lohan, AlterNet
The Obama Administration can pass the buck or blame Congress for innumerable failures to not act to protect the environment. But when it comes to the ever-important Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, it’s in Obama’s hands entirely. For years now, concerned individuals have pushed Obama to deny the KXL permit. The issue of a spill is not an if, it’s a when. And the extraction, processing, transporting, and burning of tar sands will be a climate nightmare.
We also know that the oil industry has friends in high places, including the State Department where review of the project has been taking place. So it was encouraging that Obama, in a much touted climate change speech in June, said that he would evaluate the climate impact of the project before making a decision. He said:
So, does the Keystone XL pass the climate test?
Environmentalists will hold Obama to his word. They are launching a new presentation this weekend at Powershift 2013. “With the new draft of the EIS coming out seemingly at any time, it’s a good time to prove once and for all that Keystone XL is a climate disaster,” said Daniel Kessler, US Communications Director for 350.org. “The facts are on our side. This presentation gives us and our hundreds of thousands of supporters are new way to make the case against KXL.”
On Sunday, October 20 there will be a live stream beginning at 5:15 ET and can be viewed at Powershift.
You can check out the presentation here.
|October 24, 2013||
James Hansen: How We Can Stop Big Oil in its Tracks and Keep Dirty Energy in the Ground
by James Hansen, AlterNet, Daily Climate
NEW YORK – I could not help thinking of David versus Goliath earlier this week as I was working on a letter to Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.
I was writing about the tax that Europe applies to unconventional fossil fuels in its Fuel Quality Directive: Will it account for all the emissions during the mining and processing of such fuels or will they pretend that energy from tar sands and oil shale is the same as conventional oil?
It matters – a lot. If total emissions are counted, the fees tacked to oil from tar sands or tar shale will make that carbon-intensive fuel less competitive in the market. Add a rising fee on carbon, and these dirtiest of fuels will be the first to be eliminated and replaced by clean energy and energy efficiency.
Tar sands production today is moderate, but there are plans to quintuple the rate of extraction over the next decade. Tar sands operations today are ugly enough, but if that expansion happens and infrastructure is put in place to carry the products to market, we surely will see a monstrous pillage of the land.Massive carbon load
From the climate standpoint, we cannot accept the massive carbon load associated with unconventional fossil fuels without guaranteeing climate disasters. Conventional oil and gas should be the transition fuel to a clean energy future, and they could be that, if we put a rising fee on carbon.
And this brings me to the biblical tale. "David" in this case is the Friends of the Earth Europe contingent, led by Elizabeth Drury, a small, determined middle-aged woman I met during a trip overseas last month. She's supported by a few young people, and they're making gains. Maybe.
The European Commissioner for Climate Action, Connie Hedegaard, suggested to us that she's determined to have honest accounting of emissions from all fuels. The officials of most key nations we met seemed to be very understanding and supportive. So it seems that the vote should go the right way.
But wait: Will there be a vote?
Enter "Goliath." The fossil fuel industry does not have much to fear in the well-oiled, coal-fired U.S. Congress. And maybe it's not much different in Europe. The New York Times last week published two photos of big-boy lobbyists, champagne in hand, celebrating the first anniversary of their Houston-based law firm's Brussels office.Working behind the scenes
They were striking photos in part because Goliath, for all his size, likes to work behind the scenes. But you can see the fruits of his labors in the daytime: Just turn on your television to see messages about safe, dependable tar-sands and coal.
Perhaps the United States, as well as Canada, will side with unconventional fossil fuel interests. It would not be the first time that promises and speeches about climate change from our elected representatives turned out to be greenwash.
But this need not prevent Europe from standing tall.
This is not meant to discourage you. "David" can win this eventually, but we need many Davids. David's chief weapon needs to be exposing the truth. The Harper administration in Canada seems to be a handmaiden of the fossil fuel industry. It is not certain the same is true for the Obama administration.Reason to hope
The fossil fuel industry will lobby the Obama administration to pressure Europe to accept dirty oil as clean, and it will lobby Obama to approve the Keystone XL pipeline to open markets for tar sands oil. The basis for optimism is the fact that the matter has been exposed here in the United States. People are concerned.
There is reason to hope that Secretary of State John Kerry will advise Obama to not approve the pipeline. Surely they understand their legacies are at stake.
However, we must recognize that all individual fossil fuel decisions – pipelines for tar sands, trains and export facilities for coal, water for fracking, and so on – are overwhelmed by the need for a simple, rising, across-the-board domestic carbon fee collected at the source: The well-head, the mine, the port-of-entry.
Without a carbon fee, any success in stopping a fossil fuel project will be short-lived. With a rising carbon fee, we will eventually win on all of these fronts, with the highest carbon sources falling into disuse first.
The Citizens Climate Lobby is working to create the political space for such a discussion and decision, with outposts from Montana to Kansas to New York and every place in between. It is a grass-roots organization advocating for a simple rising carbon fee, with 100 percent distribution of the proceeds to the public.
It's exactly what is needed to spark our transition to a clean energy future. Nothing will be left to make the government bigger. But we need help pushing the Goliaths out of the way.
This essay is adapted from a post that originally appeared on James Hansen's blog at Columbia University.
|September 11, 2013||
Extreme Energy Extraction Roadtrip — The Scary Ways We're Ruining the Country to Get Fossil Fuels
by Tara Lohan , AlterNet, Earth Island Journal
The view from a Cessna reveals some dirty secrets. Flying at 2,000 feet above the forests of Appalachia I can see what the steep, tree-fringed roads fail to show: unnatural flat tops, seams of coal exposed like black-topped runways, impoundments of foul water perched above homes and schools. A naked honesty is revealed. This is what we have done, what we continue to do. We deface the mountains, denature ecosystems.
This is probably not news to you. Appalachia has long been one of the centers of American energy extraction, a place whose history is almost synonymous with coal. Since the 1830s the region has shoveled 35 billion tons of coal into the furnace of our economy. This is often called “cheap” energy and, at $100/megawatt-hour, it is – as long as you don’t look too closely.
But when you get down on the ground (or up in the air, as the case may be), the costs come into focus. Mountaintop removal coal mining is just what it sounds like: Entire mountaintops are obliterated to reach thin seams of coal. The “overburden” – the mining industry’s term for rocks and soil – is dumped into nearby valleys, burying streams, covering forests.
In a way, it makes perfect sense. First we go after the resources that are easiest to extract. And then, to maintain our wolfish appetite for energy, we have to seek out the stuff that’s harder to reach. Mountaintop removal coal mining is a classic example. Another would be the strip mining used to extract bitumen from the Alberta tar sands. Additional cases include hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling to get at shale gas and shale oil deposits.
Michael T. Klare, author of the book The Race for What’s Left, calls these kinds of extraction techniques “extreme energy.” He has written: “To ensure a continued supply of hydrocarbons – and the continued prosperity of the giant energy companies – successive administrations have promoted the exploitation of these extreme energy options with a striking disregard for the resulting dangers. By their very nature, such efforts involve an ever-increasing risk of human and environmental catastrophe – something that has been far too little acknowledged.”
I, for one, want to acknowledge those risks.
This summer my partner and I took a three-month roadtrip across North America. We didn’t head for the national parks or wild and scenic areas, though we did pass through some beautiful scenery. Instead, our itinerary focused on the places that have been the most impacted by extreme energy extraction. We wanted to see the communities – “sacrifice zones,” they’re sometimes called – that have been scarred and scored by the ‘dozers and drill rigs. We wanted to learn about the people who live there.
You might remember that it wasn’t too long ago that “Peak Oil” was the buzz. We were warned that oil, as well as gas, were finite, and that we would soon reach a point beyond which global demand would exceed supply. This was supposed to be both a curse and a blessing. We would have to make a wrenching transition to renewable sources of energy, but we would be better off for it. Geology would save us from our own gluttony.
But now here we are, in 2013, and we remain firmly entrenched in fossil fuels. The peak has turned out to be more like a long, tortuous plateau, sustained by the steady production of harder to reach energy resources. In the United States and Canada, oil and gas production have actually increased since 2008, even as consumption has decreased and then flat-lined. What has allowed business as usual to continue? It’s not that we’ve “discovered” new oil and gas. Rather, technological breakthroughs and changes in the market have suddenly made extreme energy (“unconventional energy,” is the industry’s preferred term) economically viable.
Peak or no peak, extreme oil or conventional oil – it’s simply more of the same to a largely degraded planet and an atmosphere already burdened with greenhouse gases. If Peak Oil threatened a disruption of our oil-dependent lifestyles, the long Petroleum Plateau promises a continuation of that lifestyle – at the cost of disrupting the planet’s life systems.
“For the climate, the race for unconventional hydrocarbons is very bad news,” says Richard Heinberg, a prominent peak oil-er and author of Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines. “The claims for shale gas and tight oil are a mish-mash of half-truth, exaggeration, and distortion. But they add up to a happy story that Americans want to believe – a story about the wonders of technology, the limitless abundance of nature, and the allure of the endless highway.”
Right now we’re speeding along that highway … but to what end? And at what cost? It turns out, if you veer off the highway and hit some of our country’s less traveled roads, you can see how the race to extract unconventional, extreme sources of energy is transforming communities.
The view from the edge, I can tell you, isn’t pretty.
Jared Lusk knows his job is one of the most dangerous in the world and he’s afraid … of losing it.
“I’m scared to death every morning when I wake up and go to the mine to get a pink slip,” he said. Lusk, 25, is an underground coal miner in West Virginia. Without coal, Lusk believes, there is no southern West Virginia: Mining, he says, is the cultural and economic lifeblood. He’s downright poetic about his allegiance. “When a miner cuts a piece of rock out in front of you, that’s a rock that no man in this world has ever seen,” he says. “Whenever you put your hand on that rock, you’ve touched a rock that no man in this world is ever going to touch. It’s a feeling of accomplishment. All I gotta do is drive by a house and see the light on and know, ‘Hey, that light’s on because of me.’”
Lusk is parroting the company line. “Coal keeps the lights on” is the industry’s sound bite these days, propped up on yard signs throughout Kentucky and West Virginia. The talking point is a centerpiece of the coal industry’s efforts to counter what it calls “the war on coal.” The aggressors, supposedly, are President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency, environmentalists. But tougher environmental and safety regulations aren’t coal’s only problem. The industry is in the dumps due mostly to the rock bottom prices for “natural” gas.
The coal industry has responded by shifting even more to mountaintop removal, now the dominant form of coal extraction in the region. There are nearly 700 surface mines across Appalachia, according to the US Department of Energy; in comparison, there are about 450 underground coalmines there. The mining industry prefers mountaintop removal because of basic economics. Blowing the top off of a mountain requires fewer workers than burrowing beneath one. The strip mining may be more destructive, but, for the mining companies, it’s more profitable.
Even Lusk has his problems with surface mining for coal. “You’re destroying habitat and everything else,” he says. “I don’t like going down the road, looking up and seeing a flat mountain. With underground coal mining, the only thing you’re killing is yourself.”
Not exactly. Once it’s out of the ground, coal becomes even more dangerous. According to theClean Air Task Force, the smog and soot from coal-burning contributes to at least 13,000 premature deaths in the United States every year.
John Hanger wants to make sure you know exactly how many people die each year from coal. From 2008 to 2011 Hanger was the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. His tenure at the department occurred just as the fracking boom was starting to take off in the commonwealth. Now, Hanger is running for governor. When it comes to fracking, he has to do a careful dance.
Hanger sees fracking as an economic boost and an environmental necessity, since burning methane is cleaner than burning oil or coal. But he is not blind to fracking’s impacts.
“When you sign a gas lease on your property, you aren’t bringing a quiet, good neighbor,” Hanger told me. “In the first year there is noise, trucks, some emissions from the diesel. There are a range of impacts even when things go right. It is an industrial process.”
Fracking a well can mean hundreds of truck trips day and night, nonstop, for weeks. Then there’s the toxic wastewater that’s either injected underground, shipped to treatment facilities, put in evaporation ponds, or, in some horrific cases, illegally dumped in creeks, rivers, and storm drains. There’s also air pollution from diesel trucks and gas compressors, fugitive dust, gas flaring, and the evaporation of chemical-laced water when left at the surface.
These are some of the things John Hanger includes on his list of negatives associated with the gas rush. But, he says, that’s just one side of the story. The fracking boom has also been an economic lifesaver, he says.
“Folks without a college education have gotten new income,” Hanger says. “Farmers have been able to keep their farms. There is a lot of new money and wealth coming into communities who desperately need it. There have been jobs created.”
It’s an echo of Lusk, the coal miner, and a repetition of the old argument that jobs should trump environmental protection. Who cares if the jobs are dangerous? Many of the positions pay well, although in the Marcellus Shale skilled, out-of-state workers claim many of the top-dollar gigs. Still, the outsiders eat at local cafes and sleep in area motels and campgrounds.
Locals do nab truck driver jobs, of which there are many, and work as flaggers and security guards. One such worker (who declined to give his name) at a gas well site in West Virginia said he was making $11 an hour. He had a family to support and the job had helped turn his life around. Recently he had been asked, without any advance notice, to work a holiday weekend. He didn’t mind, he said. He was grateful for the work.
But some people whisper darkly about what will happen when the boom goes bust. “We sold everything we had, put everything into this place, so we can pass on the family farm to our grandkids,” says Teresa Jackson. She and her husband, Terry, live on a farm in West Virginia that’s been in Terry’s family since 1930. They now have a drilling rig sitting a few hundred yards from their home. “We’re scared because we don’t know what we’re passing on – contaminated soil and water?”
“They have the right to drill, I’m not even going to argue that,” she says. “But I can’t understand how we should give them the right to put toxic chemicals into our property.”
Diane Pitcock moved from Baltimore to Doddridge County, West Virginia in 2005 to get a little peace and quiet. She bought a property with about 100 acres of woods, a log cabin for a home, and a vegetable garden. The family grew much of their own food, raised ducks, spent time shooting target practice.
Then a neighbor leased his land to a gas company. Trees were felled on the ridgetop above their home. Road building, trucks, drilling noise, and lights followed. Now two drilling pads, with a total of six wells, have been constructed. Drilling permits for her area reveal plans for a total of nine well pads and 27 wells.
“We came here for these gravel roads, the rural area,” Pitcock says. “We bought into it. It’s not the same anymore. This is the industrialization of this county.… They took 20 acres for the well pads next to us. It’s not my property, but it is my quality of life.”
Pitcock’s sense of place has been shaken, as has her sense of safety. On July 7 two explosions rocked a well pad above her home at 4 a.m. In the dark and the fog, with fires burning, her family packed their pets in the car, debated including the ducks, and waited to hear if they should hit the road and leave their home behind.
They would learn that five workers were transported to a burn unit in Pittsburgh with serious injuries. Two men died a few weeks later.
On the other side of the country, Rick Roles is also intimately familiar with the risks posed by fracking. Roles lives in Garfield County, Colorado, on the Rockies’ Western Slope, above a shale gas formation called the Piceance Basin. Roles, a former oil roughneck, thought signing a gas lease would be a good way to bring in needed money. He didn’t know the price he would ultimately pay.
Roles says his land, 180 acres, is pocked with 19 wells. There are 100 wells within a mile of his house, he says, and within two miles there are also multiple compressor stations as well as a fracking wastewater-treatment facility. This isn’t unusual for residents in his area. In 2004 there were 1,669 active oil and gas wells in Garfield County; by 2012, the number of wells had climbed to more than 10,000.
“We make a little money but the property is destroyed,” Roles says. The Rockies sweep up to the east of his modest home, perched above the Colorado River. It would be a cowboy’s paradise, except that Roles hasn’t been able to keep his animals healthy (or sometimes even alive) since the drilling began. It was bad enough when he lost horses and goats, chronicled others’ birth defects and abnormalities. Then he lost his own health. In 2004, he says, his body seized up, his hands swelled like softballs. He couldn’t pitch hay bales, let alone feed himself. He developed headaches, sinus problems, allergies. He was diagnosed, he says, with peripheral neuropathy – nerve damage that can result from exposure to toxins.
On a windy June morning he stands at a well pad 850 feet below his home. The pad includes production wells and a condensate tank, used to store the water that’s separated from the gas. When enough pressure builds up in the system, it releases gases into the air. Standing beside it makes me dizzy. There is nothing to see in the air, no plume of dirty smoke, but the smell makes my eyes burn, stomach drop, and head spin. It’s a sucker punch I can’t see coming. “This is nothing today,” Roles says drily. “Some days it’s much worse.”
Most people have, by now, heard about the Alberta tar sands. The massive deposits of bitumen in Canada’s boreal forests – and the plan to ship the stuff south via the Keystone XL pipeline – have ignited protests across North America. The Canadian tar sands have been called a “carbon time bomb” – dirtier to extract, transport, and burn than conventional crude.
Fewer folks are aware that there are tar sands here in the US, too, and that plans are underway to tap them. A Canadian company with the name US Oil Sands has leased 32,000 acres on Utah’s Tavaputs Plateau to launch the country’s first commercial-scale tar sands mine. Already a 200-acre test mine has been scratched into a hillside, with viscous black bitumen oozing from the ground in places. The company hopes to eventually produce 2,000 barrels a day – significantly smaller than Canadian operations that crank out more than 100,000 barrels a day, but still enough to turn a profit.
Locals aren’t pleased at the prospect. A group called “Utah Tar Sands Resistance” has staged campouts near the site, with carloads of protesters arriving from Salt Lake City and Moab. But US Oil Sands CEO Cameron Todd says his company will be a positive force in the region, contributing an estimated 100 jobs during the 12- to 18-month window of construction, and another 100 positions during the life of the project, which may be anywhere from 15 to 30 years.
“Our impact is less on energy supply and more on environmental sustainability,” Todd says, noting that the company will use a citrus-based solvent that eliminates the need for wastewater tailing ponds and will recycle 95 percent of the water used in operations.
Right now the area looks rugged and wild. Still, there is evidence of the human footprint. Skinny yellow signs mark gas pipelines beside the road. Grazing cattle can be spied before the road climbs to around 8,000 feet at the lip of the plateau. From that height, the clouds are close overhead, and views are long – on a clear day one can see the outline of the red rocks of Arches National Park in Moab, to the south.
How long it remains wild is unknown. It’s not just US Oil Sands that wants a piece of the action. The federal government has approved tar sands development on 132,100 acres of land in Utah, including an area farther south dubbed the “Tar Sands Triangle.” And that’s nothing compared to the 687,000 acres available for oil shale development in Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado. Oil shale is the industry’s term for crude oil or gas that’s locked in sedimentary rock; when heated to 200 °C, the fossil fuels inside can be extracted.
Neal Clark of Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance says that tar sands and oil shale mining is a “dirty and resource-intensive way to develop oil and gas.”
“It doesn’t have any place in Utah,” he says.
No matter where I traveled to – Utah, Colorado, Pennsylvania, West Virginia – the disputes about extreme energy always came back to that idea of place, people’s love of where they live. The issue is further complicated by the fact that, in many states, mineral rights have been severed from the surface land. Known as “split estate,” this means that people who own their homes sometimes do not own the minerals underneath them. These homeowners are powerless on their own property.
Many residents also feel powerless in their communities; corporate interests usually trump local concerns. As extreme energy has rippled beyond the coalfields of Appalachia, more places are feeling the burden of the “resource curse.” It has splintered communities – pitted neighbor against neighbor – and revealed a nation sharply divided about our energy future. Social unrest accompanies environmental upheaval.
Gubernatorial candidate Hanger sees it happening in the Marcellus Shale. “Some people say gas drilling has no impacts, or it’s the worst energy choice in the world – both are crazy,” he says. “There are tradeoffs here, that’s the point.”
Yes, some people trade their land for their livelihood – a decent job or a nice royalty check. As a nation we trade the benefits that come with an untouched landscape for the promise of energy independence. But often the dividing lines and tradeoffs are not so clear. Rick Roles, a one-time oil worker, traded his health. Terry and Teresa Jackson aren’t anti-industry – coal and gas companies employ their kids – but neither do they want to trade away their farm. Coal miner Jared Lusk doesn’t want to lose his job or the mountains he loves.
But for so many people that live in extraction areas, the decision is not theirs to make. The decisions about whether to drill or not drill, mine or not mine, belong to someone else. They have little agency in the matter. They simply live next door, downstream, downwind. Diane Pitcock believes West Virginia has been deemed “collateral damage” in our energy quest. Rural America has born the brunt, and the bruise is growing larger. “We know that one day it’s all going to fall in,” Lusk says.
Let’s not wait to see which comes first, economic or environmental disaster. There’s no doubt that as a country we have some tough decisions to make about our energy future. We can follow the thin lines drawn by political parties and take our sides accordingly. Or we can huddle up for some collective soul searching, talk over the fences to our neighbors, consider the science and the community interest, and behave like this may be the most important choice we’ll ever make. Because it is.
Tara Lohan, a senior editor at AlterNet, has just launched the new project Hitting Home, chronicling extreme energy extraction. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis, including most recently, Water Matters: Why We Need to Act Now to Save Our Most Critical Resource. Follow her on Twitter @TaraLohan.
|September 27, 2013||
15 Things You Should Know About the Major New Report on Climate Science
by Ryan Koronowski , AlterNet, Think Progress
The IPCC, or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, just released its latest scientific report that looks at what the world’s top experts understand about climate change. The review takes years to complete, and will be used for years as a vital resource for climate science.
During a briefing on the report Friday morning organized by The Climate Group, three of the lead authors offered blunt summaries of their work:
Beyond that, what does the average person need to know about what’s in the report?
|Septembet 30, 2013||
Defeating Dirty Energy: 5 Inspiring Examples of David Beating Goliath
by George Black , AlterNet, OnEarth Magazine
Okay, so we’re all depressed. The planet is going to hell in a bucket, Congress is a train wreck, the fossil fuel lobby is stomping us into the ground, the Keystone XL pipeline means game over for climate change.
Right? No, wrong. And here’s why. I’ve never been a Pollyanna, but all over the world I see remarkable things happening. In one multi-billion dollar mega-project after another, David is standing up to Goliath—and winning. These projects run the whole gamut of dirty and destructive development, from coal and oil to open-pit mines and giant dams. In many cases, they involve stories I’ve reported on in the past few years forOnEarth.
Let’s start with the extraordinary announcement last week that the mining company Anglo-American (market cap $35.5 billion) is pulling out of the partnership that has been planning to build the gargantuan Pebble Mine on the pristine headwaters of Alaska’s Bristol Bay. With an estimated $300 billion in recoverable reserves of gold, copper, and molybdenum, Pebble would be one of the richest mines in the world. Now Anglo-American, which held a 50 percent share in the project, is writing off losses of more than half a billion dollars.
The environmental threat posed by the mine, especially to the world’s largest wild salmon runs, was clear from the start. But who could stand in the way of such a colossus? A bunch of cantankerous local fishermen? A few native peoples, whose views have never counted for much? Yet that ragtag assortment of dissenters has morphed over the years into a diverse and vocal opposition movement that drew in guides and outfitters, anglers and hunters, bush pilots and storekeepers, and big NGOs such as the Natural Resources Defense Council (which publishes OnEarth). Polls of Bristol Bay residents show 80 percent opposed to the mine.
Already pushed to the wall by this wave of opposition, Anglo-American and its partner, Northern Dynasty, were then hit by a second setback. The unprecedented decade-long boom in gold and copper prices has suddenly turned sour. Two years ago, gold almost broke the magic barrier of $2,000 an ounce. Copper was trading at $4.50 a pound. Those numbers today? $1,312 and $3.19 respectively.
True, the fight over Pebble Mine is far from over. But this setback to the mining companies’ plans is not an isolated case, far from it. Here are some more in the same vein.Revenge of the Incas
Let’s stay with mining for a moment. For the past 20 years, Newmont, the third-biggest gold-mining company in the world, has operated a huge mine in northern Peru called Yanacocha. Several years ago, it announced plans to build a new $5 billion mine, Conga, right next door. Ranged against the expansion were a local priest, the tiny NGO he created, a few university students, and some disgruntled peasant farmers, descendants of the Incas, many of whom didn’t even speak Spanish.
But as in Alaska, this motley opposition grew and prospered, and at the end of 2011 Newmont was forced to halt work on the project. In July 2012, on the day I visited the Conga site, riot police shot dead five protesters. Despite this intimidation, the protests have not abated. This summer, thousands of peasants occupied a sacred lake that Newmont wants to turn into a tailings pit. Polls show that 78 percent of people in the region oppose the mine. The project remains paralyzed.And the protests have spread nationwide. A report by Standard and Poor’s last month predicted that community opposition might lead to other mega-mines in Peru being scrapped. And Newmont CEO Richard O’Brien announced in July that the company had suffered second-quarter losses of almost $2 billion.Damn the Dams
The most conflict-ridden hydropower project in the world is called HidroAysén. Costing $10 billion, it would erect five giant dams on two of the most beautiful and unspoiled rivers in the world, the Baker (pictured above) and the Pascua, which run through the remote fjords, icefields, and rainforests of southern Chilean Patagonia. These dams would be connected to the capital, Santiago, by a 1,400-mile transmission line, largely to serve the mining industry.
When I started covering this story, back in 2006, the debate seemed hopelessly lopsided. On one side was a consortium of powerful corporate interests that controlled almost unlimited rights to develop the country’s rivers, thanks to a law passed during the Pinochet dictatorship. On the other were a few lonely environmentalists in Santiago and an assortment of unhappy locals in the small Patagonian town of Coyhaique. But again, something happened here. That fragile coalition became a national movement that staged the biggest street demonstrations since the Pinochet era. Polls showed anywhere from 67 to 74 percent of Chileans opposed to HidroAysén. Opinion has shifted steadily toward support for the country’s abundant supply of renewable energy—solar, wind, and geothermal. The mega-dams have been fought to a standstill, and now Michelle Bachelet, the prohibitive favorite to win Chile’s presidential election in November, has declared that “HidroAysén is not viable, it should not go on.”
Pebble: 80 percent opposed. Conga: 78 percent. HidroAysen: 74 percent – these are huge, perhaps insuperable, majorities.Turkish Delight
Next, on to fossil fuels. Istanbul hit the front pages this summer after a small group of environmentalists occupied Gezi Park, an oasis of green in the concrete heart of the city, protesting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plan to raze the park and replace it with a replica of an Ottoman-era army barracks. As in Peru, I happened to get there on the very day riot police stormed the park and destroyed the protesters’ encampment with great brutality.
We all read about the violence in Istanbul. But has anyone ever heard of Gerze? It’s a small town, population 12,000, on Turkey’s forested Black Sea coast. Yet what just happened there is in some ways more momentous than the events at Gezi Park. For the past two years, local people have occupied the site of a proposed 1,200-megawatt (i.e. really big) coal-fired power plant. Last month, for the fourth time, a court rejected the developer’s environmental impact assessment, and the project may now be dead. And as public sentiment turns against coal, Gerze is not an isolated case. An even larger plant, the $12 billion Afsin-Elbistan, which would be one of the biggest in the world, is also in deep trouble. Last month, its biggest investor, a company from the United Arab Emirates, announced that it was postponing (widely rumored to mean withdrawing) its $8 billion investment.Landlocked
When I reported in 2011 on the plans of industry giants like Peabody Energy and Arch Coal to export hundreds of millions of tons of coal from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin to serve roaring demand in Asia, the two sides again seemed grossly mismatched. Big Coal, like Big Gold, was rubbing its hands at an unprecedented bull market that seemed to stretch into the future as far as the eye could see. The opposition? Mainly activists in a few small towns along the Columbia River and on the Pacific Northwest coast, places like Longview, Oregon and Bellingham, Washington that were slated for possible coal export terminals. They marshaled their arguments as best they could: did people really want mile-and-a-half-long coal trains rumbling through their towns day and night, spewing coal dust?
But here too, the protests mushroomed into something much bigger. The Pacific Northwest roils with debate about whether it wants to trade its proud tradition of being the greenest region in America (both Oregon and Washington State are committed to the elimination of coal-fired power plants) for a new identity as a conveyor belt for global CO2 emissions. Six prospective coal ports have been blocked. And the demand side for coal has collapsed. The world market is glutted, and China, the main customer, is reducing its demand for imports by retooling its own mines and power plants and stepping up the development of renewables. Companies like Arch and Peabody have seen their revenues and stock prices tumble.The Big Enchilada
All of which, of course, brings us back around to the biggest fight of all: TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry filthy diluted bitumen from the tar sands of Alberta to Port Arthur, Texas—most of it destined for export and not, as its advocates claim, to promote U.S. “energy independence.” Once again, this battle seemed unequal. On one side, several of the most powerful oil companies in the world, their supporters in Washington, and the ambitions of Prime Minister Stephen Harper of turning Canada into the next Saudi Arabia. On the other, environmental groups like NRDC; Nebraska farmers and landowners unnerved by the threat of a pipeline spill that could affect the Ogalalla aquifer; a vibrant local group called BOLD Nebraska; and an organization named 350.org, created by author-activist (and OnEarth contributing editor) Bill McKibben and a small number of his students at Middlebury College. Yet from these modest beginnings, something remarkable has grown. In February, outside the White House, all these anti-Keystone XL forces came together to stage the largest climate rally in U.S. history.
Even so, was this enough? The conventional wisdom was still that presidential approval of Keystone XL was a foregone conclusion. But then, in April, the EPA challenged the State Department’s favorable review of the project. And in June President Obama shocked Harper, TransCanada, and the fossil fuel industry by declaring that the pipeline would be built “only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon emissions.” The protests continue to gather force: this past weekend, under the rubric “Draw the Line,” people took to the streets in 200 locations nationwide, from the farmlands of Nebraska to the coal-train tracks of Seattle to the streets of New Orleans.
So what about the Goliaths? How have they reacted to this chain of events, all of them unfolding in just a matter of months? I’d divide their responses into three categories:
Putting on a Brave Face: Northern Dynasty, the remaining partner in the Pebble Mine consortium, declared that Anglo-American’s departure “opens the door to a number of exciting possibilities.” (Uh, really? Northern Dynasty’s stock plunged by 30 percent after the announcement.)
Panic and Bluster: In Turkey, Erdogan lashed out at his environmental critics as “terrorists.” In Chile, Fernando Gardeweg, CFO of the majority partner in the HidroAysén consortium, ripped into “environmentalist paranoia” and howled that some people think “building a power plant is like committing a mortal sin.”
Running Scared: Last month, Harper wrote to Obama with a vague offer of “joint action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector.” You might call thisdo anything—or rather, say anything—to get Keystone XL approved. Meanwhile, Harper, TransCanada, and the fossil fuel lobby continue to repeat the canard that blocking the project will cost 20,000 jobs. But Obama thoroughly debunked this in July when he declared that the pipeline “may only create about 50 permanent jobs.”
So, David 5, Goliath 0. And Keystone? Bring it on.
|September 27, 2013||
Major New Climate Report from the IPCC Reveals Human Impact Is 'Unequivocal' -- Global Response Needed
by Fiona Harvey , AlterNet, The Guardian
World leaders must now respond to an "unequivocal" message from climate scientists and act with policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the United Nations secretary-general urged on Friday.
"The heat is on. We must act," said Ban Ki-moon, as he invited world leaders to a special summit next year to forge a global agreement on emissions.
The world's leading climate scientists, who have been meeting in all-night sessions this week in the Swedish capital, said there was no longer room for doubt that climate change was occurring, and the dominant cause has been human actions in pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
In their starkest warning yet, following nearly seven years of new research on the climate, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said it was "unequivocal" and that even if the world begins to moderate greenhouse gas emissions, warming is likely to cross the critical threshold of 2C by the end of this century. That would have serious consequences, including sea level rises, heatwaves and changes to rainfall meaning dry regions get less and already wet areas receive more.
In response to the report, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, said in a statement: "This is yet another wakeup call: those who deny the science or choose excuses over action are playing with fire."
"Once again, the science grows clearer, the case grows more compelling, and the costs of inaction grow beyond anything that anyone with conscience or commonsense should be willing to even contemplate," he said.
He said that livelihoods around the world would be impacted. "With those stakes, the response must be all hands on deck. It's not about one country making a demand of another. It's the science itself, demanding action from all of us. The United States is deeply committed to leading on climate change."
In a crucial reinforcement of their message – included starkly in this report for the first time – the IPCC warned that the world cannot afford to keep emitting carbon dioxide as it has been doing in recent years. To avoid dangerous levels of climate change, beyond 2C, the world can only emit a total of between 800 and 880 gigatonnes of carbon. Of this, about 530 gigatonnes had already been emitted by 2011.
That has a clear implication for our fossil fuel consumption, meaning that humans cannot burn all of the coal, oil and gas reserves that countries and companies possess. As the former UN commissioner Mary Robinson told the Guardian last week, that will have "huge implications for social and economic development." It will also be difficult for business interests to accept.
The central estimate is that warming is likely to exceed 2C, the threshold beyond which scientists think global warming will start to wreak serious changes to the planet. That threshold is likely to be reached even if we begin to cut global greenhouse gas emissions, which so far has not happened, according to the report.
Other key points from the report are:
• Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are now at levels "unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years."
• Since the 1950's it's "extremely likely" that human activities have been the dominant cause of the temperature rise.
• Concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have increased to levels that are unprecedented in at least 800,000 years. The burning of fossil fuels is the main reason behind a 40% increase in C02 concentrations since the industrial revolution.
• Global temperatures are likely to rise by 0.3C to 4.8C, by the end of the century depending on how much governments control carbon emissions.
• Sea levels are expected to rise a further 26-82cm by the end of the century.
• The oceans have acidified as they have absorbed about a third of the carbon dioxide emitted.
Thomas Stocker, co-chair of the working group on physical science, said the message that greenhouse gases must be reduced was clear. "We give very relevant guidance on the total amount of carbon that can't be emitted to stay to 1.5 or 2C. We are not on the path that would lead us to respect that warming target [which has been agreed by world governments]."
He said: "Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions."
Though governments around the world have agreed to curb emissions, and at numerous international meetings have reaffirmed their commitment to holding warming to below 2C by the end of the century, greenhouse gas concentrations are still rising at record rates.
Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, said it was for governments to take action based on the science produced by the panel, consisting of thousands of pages of detail, drawing on the work of more than 800 scientists and hundreds of scientific papers.
The scientists also put paid to claims that global warming has "stopped" because global temperatures in the past 15 years have not continued the strong upward march of the preceding years, which is a key argument put forward by sceptics to cast doubt on climate science. But the IPCC said the longer term trends were clear: "Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth's surface than any preceding decade since 1850 in the northern hemisphere [the earliest date for reliable temperature records for the whole hemisphere]."
The past 15 years were not such an unusual case, said Stocker. "People always pick 1998 but [that was] a very special year, because a strong El Niño made it unusually hot, and since then there have been some medium-sized volcanic eruptions that have cooled the climate."
But he said that further research was needed on the role of the oceans, which are thought to have absorbed more than 90% of the warming so far.
The scientists have faced sustained attacks from so-called sceptics,often funded by "vested interests" according to the UN, who try to pick holes in each item of evidence for climate change. The experts have always known they must make their work watertight against such an onslaught, and every conclusion made by the IPCC must pass scrutiny by all of the world's governments before it can be published.
Their warning on Friday was sent out to governments around the globe, who convene and fund the IPCC.
It was 1988 when scientists were first convened for this task, and in the five landmark reports since then the research has become ever clearer. Now, scientists say they are certain that "warming in the climate system is unequivocal and since 1950 many changes have been observed throughout the climate system that are unprecedented over decades to millennia." That warning, from such a sober body, hemmed in by the need to submit every statement to extraordinary levels of scrutiny, is the starkest yet.
"Heatwaves are very likely to occur more frequently and last longer. As the earth warms, we expect to see currently wet regions receiving more rainfall, and dry regions receiving less, although there will be exceptions," Stocker said.
Qin Dahe, also co-chair of the working group, said: "As the ocean warm, and glaciers and ice sheets reduce, global mean sea level will continue to rise, but at a faster rate than we have experienced over the past 40 years."
Prof David Mackay, chief scientific adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, said: "The far-reaching consequences of this warming are becoming understood, although some uncertainties remain. The most significant uncertainty, however, is how much carbon humanity will choose to put into the atmosphere in the future. It is the total sum of all our carbon emissions that will determine the impacts. We need to take action now, to maximise our chances of being faced with impacts that we, and our children, can deal with. Waiting a decade or two before taking climate change action will certainly lead to greater harm than acting now."
|September 30, 2013||
Forget Climate Change, We Must Prepare for a Catastrophic Climate Breakdown
by George Monbiot , AlterNet, The Guardian
Already, a thousand blogs and columns insist the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's new report is a rabid concoction of scare stories whose purpose is to destroy the global economy. But it is, in reality, highly conservative.
Reaching agreement among hundreds of authors and reviewers ensures that only the statements which are hardest to dispute are allowed to pass. Even when the scientists have agreed, the report must be tempered in another forge, as politicians question anything they find disagreeable: the new report received 1,855 comments from 32 governments, and the arguments raged through the night before launch.
In other words, it's perhaps the biggest and most rigorous process of peer review conducted in any scientific field, at any point in human history.
There are no radical departures in this report from the previous assessment, published in 2007; just more evidence demonstrating the extent of global temperature rises, the melting of ice sheets and sea ice, the retreat of the glaciers, the rising and acidification of the oceans and the changes in weather patterns. The message is familiar and shattering: "It's as bad as we thought it was."
What the report describes, in its dry, meticulous language, is the collapse of the benign climate in which humans evolved and have prospered, and the loss of the conditions upon which many other lifeforms depend. Climate change and global warming are inadequate terms for what it reveals. The story it tells is of climate breakdown.
This is a catastrophe we are capable of foreseeing but incapable of imagining. It's a catastrophe we are singularly ill-equipped to prevent.
The IPCC's reports attract denial in all its forms: from a quiet turning away – the response of most people – to shrill disavowal. Despite – or perhaps because of – their rigours, the IPCC's reports attract a magnificent collection of conspiracy theories: the panel is trying to tax us back to the stone age or establish a Nazi/communist dictatorship in which we are herded into camps and forced to crochet our own bicycles. (And they call the scientists scaremongers …)
In the Mail, the Telegraph and the dusty basements of the internet, Friday's report (or a draft leaked a few weeks ago) has been trawled for any uncertainties that could be used to discredit. The panel reports that on every continent except Antarctica, man-made warming is likely to have made a substantial contribution to the surface temperature. So those who feel threatened by the evidence ignore the other continents and concentrate on Antarctica, as proof that climate change caused byfossil fuels can't be happening.
They make great play of the IPCC's acknowledgement that there has been a "reduction in surface warming trend over the period 1998–2012", but somehow ignore the fact that the past decade is still the warmest in the instrumental record.
They manage to overlook the panel's conclusion that this slowing of the trend is likely to have been caused by volcanic eruptions, fluctuations in solar radiation and natural variability in the planetary cycle.
Were it not for man-made global warming, these factors could have made the world significantly cooler over this period. That there has been a slight increase in temperature shows the power of the human contribution.
But denial is only part of the problem. More significant is the behaviour of powerful people who claim to accept the evidence. This week the former Irish president Mary Robinson added her voice to a call that some of us have been making for years: the only effective means of preventing climate breakdown is to leave fossil fuels in the ground. Press any minister on this matter in private and, in one way or another, they will concede the point. Yet no government will act on it.
As if to mark the publication of the new report, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has now plastered a giant poster across its ground-floor windows: "UK oil and gas: Energising Britain. £13.5bn is being invested in recovering UK oil and gas this year, more than any other industrial sector."
The message couldn't have been clearer if it had said "up yours". It is an example of the way in which all governments collaborate in the disaster they publicly bemoan. They sagely agree with the need to do something to avert the catastrophe the panel foresees, while promoting the industries that cause it.
It doesn't matter how many windmills or solar panels or nuclear plants you build if you are not simultaneously retiring fossil fuel production. We need a global programme whose purpose is to leave most coal and oil and gas reserves in the ground, while developing new sources of power and reducing the amazing amount of energy we waste.
But, far from doing so, governments everywhere are still seeking to squeeze every drop out of their own reserves, while trying to secure access to other people's. As more accessible reservoirs are emptied, energy companies exploit the remotest parts of the planet, bribing and bullying governments to allow them to break open unexploited places: from the deep ocean to the melting Arctic.
And the governments who let them do it weep sticky black tears over the state of the planet.George Monbiot is the author Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning. Read more of his writings at Monbiot.com. This article originally appeared in the Guardian.
|October 9, 2013||
One Man's Clever Idea to Fight Frackers and Save His Organic Farm
by Caitlin Kawaguchi , AlterNet, Global Exchange
Subsurface rights, sometimes called themineral estate or ‘split’ estate, are often leased or sold to fracking companies in order to drill and dump millions of gallons of toxins below private property and ground water. In most states, these mineral “rights” were sold as long ago as 100 years or more, affording residents no say over what happens under their feet — and sometimes even on their property.
Cleghorn describes himself and his late wife, Dr. Lucinda Hart Gonzalez, as environmentally conscious, although they didn’t leave the city to take up farming with the intention of making a huge statement. His wife wanted to be a cheese maker and Cleghorn wanted to farm again after a short experience he had as a young adult. Together they thought that, while they might not be able to change the world, on their 50 acres they could make a positive contribution, farming as true stewards of the land, be part of a vibrant local food system and community, and reduce their carbon footprint. They set out to transition the farm to a local, organic, sustainable farm and hoped it would be a place to inspire and train future generations of farmers.
When Lucinda passed away in 2011, Cleghorn decided to use the easement to memorialize Lucinda’s legacy of very difficult work by which she and Cleghorn built a viable and thriving organic farm. He named the easement after her and enacted it on the first anniversary of her passing, November 14, 2012. With THE DR. LUCINDA HART-GONZÁLEZ CONSERVATION EASEMENT, Cleghorn sees himself as living the change the world needs and setting an example of working in partnership with Nature. That could change the world, he hopes, as the Rights of Nature are asserted, fully recognized, and protected under the law. He hopes that this easement will inspire other individuals to also take a stand for Nature and the future of the planet.
“This easement is not only about about preserving land for organic agriculture; it also speaks to a paradigm shift that is needed in our thinking so that we recognize that we are part of nature, not lords over it. Our long history is catching up with us. We’re either going to turn around our thinking and behavior, or we are going to leave a wasteland for future generations,” said Cleghorn.
Cleghorn accepts that the easement could devalue his property because it restricts the use of the land, but he believes that defending Nature’s rights is more important. Since it is attached to the deed, even when the deed changes hands, the new owners will have to comply with its terms.
“The groundbreaking idea of affirming the Rights of Nature is that this property is not so much longitudes and latitudes divided up into commodities. It’s first of all Earth, Nature, and it is indivisible,” said Cleghorn.
Cleghorn says he no longer recognizes Pennsylvania state laws that speak of supposed surface and subsurface “rights” to the land. “The state’s practice of splitting a part of Nature into who owns the surface versus who owns the subsurface, as well as considering each surveyed property as only ‘private’ property without respect to its origins within and connection to Nature as a whole, those are ‘rights’ I don’t recognize anymore. What we’re trying to do is make the gas companies come into court and argue against the rights of Nature , to make them argue that their industrial activity they call “fracking” gets to threaten those living systems by which all of life is sustained. We don’t think they will want to do that. The easement is one of a number of steps I’m willing to take to hold them off.”
It isn’t only individuals that can take a stand, and are taking a stand, in this way. Cities, townships, and municipalities are adopting community bills of rights that put their right to a clean ecosystem and the Rights of Nature into law. Pittsburgh has banned fracking within its city limits on such a basis. These local ordinances display a paradigm shift in our culture towards recognizing Nature’s rights and asserting our community rights. If the government won’t protect Nature, it’s time that others follow Cleghorn’s example and take action, as individuals or in our communities, to protect the world we live in.
Anyone interested in discussing a similar easement for their land should contact Shannon Biggs at Global Exchange, or the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). CELDF helped Cleghorn write his easement and is a signatory to it, standing ready to defend the easement in court if that becomes necessary. Stephen Cleghorn is also an active boardmember of the Stop The Frack Attack Network.
|October 8, 2013||
The Divestment Campaign Against Fossil Fuels Could Cause Significant Damage to Coal, Oil and Gas Companies
by The Guardian / By Damian Carrington , AlterNet
A campaign to persuade investors to take their money out of the fossil fuel sector is growing faster than any previous divestment campaign and could cause significant damage to coal, oil and gas companies, according to a study from the University of Oxford.
The report compares the current fossil fuel divestment campaign, which has attracted 41 institutions since 2010, with those against tobacco, apartheid in South Africa, armaments, gambling and pornography. It concludes that the direct financial impact of such campaigns on share prices or the ability to raise funds is small but the reputational damage can still have major financial consequences.
"Stigmatisation poses a far-reaching threat to fossil fuel companies – any direct impacts of divestment pale in comparison," said Ben Caldecott, a research fellow at the University of Oxford's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, and an author of the report. "In every case we reviewed, divestment campaigns were successful in lobbying for restrictive legislation."
The report is part of a new research programme on stranded assets backed by Aviva Investors, HSBC, Standard & Poor's and others. It found: "The fossil fuel campaign has achieved a lot in the relatively short time since its inception."
Some major investors, such as the $74bn Scandinavian asset manager Storebrand, have already pulled their funds from coal stocks. But the researchers found that even if the maximum possible capital was divested by university endowments and public pension funds, the total was relatively small compared to the market capitalisation of traded fossil fuel companies and the size of state-owned enterprises.
However, the team concluded: "The outcome of the stigmatisation process, which the fossil fuel divestment campaign has now triggered, poses the most far-reaching threat to fossil fuel companies and the vastenergy value chain."
Analysing previous campaigns, the researchers found examples of stigmatised companies being shunned by governments and being barred from public contracts or acquiring licences. "Stigma attached to merely one small area of a large company may threaten sales across the board," the report found, citing the examples of Motorola dumping its defence business due to bad press and Revlon's decision to disinvest from its South African operation after customer groups threatened a boycott.
The report also found instances when customers, suppliers and potential employees were scared off by stigma and where stigma had led shareholders to demand changes in the management of companies.
Bill McKibben, the environmental campaigner who leads the 350.org divestment campaign which is expanding from the US into Europe this autumn, said: "This divestment campaign is just one front in the climate fight, but of all the actions people can take to bring about structural change, it's probably the easiest. Severing our ties with the guys digging up the carbon won't bankrupt them--but it will start to politically bankrupt them, and make their job of dominating the planet's politics that much harder."
A report in April backed by climate economist Lord Stern found that at least two-thirds of the fossil fuels listed as assets by the world's fossil fuel companies would have to remain in the ground if governments were to fulfil their pledge of keeping climate change below the danger limit of 2C. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), backed by 193 governments, reached a similar conclusion at the end of September.
David Nussbaum, chief executive at WWF-UK, said: "With the IPCC giving us the clearest signal yet of the threats posed by a changing climate, it's clear that we must consider the risks to businesses and investors posed by investments in fossil fuels. Prudent investors want to be ahead of pack, not following the herd, so they will be preparing for a world where we leave fossil fuels in the ground."
|October 9, 2013||
Meet the Opposite of Monsanto -- These Are the Folks That Really Feed the World
by US Food Sovereignty Alliance / By Food Sovereignty Prize Committee , AlterNet
When it comes to ‘feeding the world,’ agribusiness keeps selling the same old “solutions” that are actually undermining people’s access to healthful and sustainable food: massive industrialized farming operations, biotech (GMO) crops, pesticide-intensive mono-cropping, and so-called “free trade” agreements. They insist we just need to produce more food (with their seeds and petrochemicals) for the nearly one billion people who go hungry each year—yet landfills overflow with food waste in countries where agribusinesses have gained control of seeds, livestock, markets, and prices.
In spring 2013, Monsanto grabbed headlines when its genetically modified wheat, MON71800—not approved for production or consumption—was found growing in a farmer’s field. Yet in June, Monsanto and Syngenta executives were rewarded with the 2013 World Food Prize, even as evidence keeps pouring in about how these corporations undercut farmers’ ability to survive and feed their communities.
How could corporations whose technologies undermine food sovereignty—destroying plant diversity and displacing millions of farmers— be honored for fighting hunger? And while Monsanto’s lobbyists were pulling out the full court press on members of the House to protect agribusiness payouts in the Food and Farm Bill, SNAP benefits for almost 2 million families in need were slashed. If Monsanto is trying to end hunger, you have to wonder where their priorities were during Food and Farm Bill negotiations. GMOs are the antithesis of food sovereignty—patented technology that robs communities of the ability to feed themselves.
These corporate-controlled seeds are both destructive and unnecessary: evidence continues to confirm the effectiveness, and efficiencies, of agro-ecological sustainable farming. In April, a long-term study on soil health published in Crop Management demonstrated that organic farming not only improves soil quality, but can also boost yields per acre. Many previous studies have shown that small to medium-sized organic farms growing diverse crops are highly productive, sustaining communities and the land.
And the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s recent Trade and Environment Review for 2013 entitled Wake up before it is too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate claims that “The world needs a paradigm shift in agricultural development from a ‘green revolution’ to an ‘ecological intensification’ approach.”
At a September 21 press conference, Dave Matthews, musician, farmer, and Board Member of Farm Aid avowed, “We can’t eat well if we eat the giant corporate food from a profit-driven system.” He was speaking at the 2013 Farm Aid press conference, but could have been addressing a college campus on food sovereignty.
As Farm Aid founder Willie Nelson declared recently, “[Family farmers] restore the Earth, grow the food, and provide the fuel to power our lives safely and sustainably.”
Indeed, while corporations churn out more GMO seeds, pesticides, and glossy PR, a growing worldwide movement of farmers, fishers, workers, and eaters has created concrete solutions to poverty and hunger—on and in the ground.
The 2013 Food Sovereignty Prize honorees from southern India, the Basque Country, Mali, Brazil and Haiti fight resource grabs, cultivate traditional crops, and defend their communities from exploitation by multi-national corporations. Like family farmers in the U.S., they deserve the right to grow the foods they need and want without pressure from foreign agribusinesses and government agencies.
“The Food Sovereignty Prize symbolizes the fight for safe and healthy food for all peoples of the earth,” said Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, member of the Executive Committee for the Group of 4, one of this year’s winners. “It’s a fight that must be waged both locally and globally, and requires deep solidarity among all organizations fighting for food sovereignty.”
Flavio Barbosa, of the South American Dessalines Brigade, added: “Receiving this prize for the partnership between the Group of 4 and the Dessalines Brigade is an incentive for others to participate in long exchanges such as the one we are experiencing in Haiti. And it charges us with even greater responsibility to continue our defense of peasant agriculture and agroecology as a way to produce sustainable, healthy chemical-free foods accessible for all.”
Food sovereignty also means opposing international trade policies that give advantage to transnational agricultural companies while displacing local, subsistence farmers and rural communities around the globe. These “free trade” policies, such as NAFTA, GATT, and now the TPP, threaten food sovereignty and farmers around the world, and pressure millions to migrate to other countries—where many become exploited farm laborers and food industry workers in a foreign land. It also means public and community support for nutrition programs and for SNAP, a great program that is now under siege in the Farm Bill and in the reckless budget negotiations stemming from the federal shutdown.
We don’t need GMOs to feed the world; we need access to healthy soil, fresh water, abundant wild fish, seeds that produce ecologically and nutritionally beneficial crops, and people who know how to grow and harvest foods with the planet and future generations in mind.
|October 9, 2013||
Last Hours of Humanity: We Appear to Be Warming the World into Its 6th Major Extinction Event
by Thom Hartmann , AlterNet, Thom Hartmann Show,
If you were standing outdoors looking at the distant and reddening sky 250 million years ago as the Permian Mass Extinction was beginning, unless you were in the region that is known as Siberia you would have no idea that a tipping point had just been passed and soon 95% of all life on earth would be dead.
It's almost impossible to identify tipping points, except in retrospect.
For example, we have almost certainly already past the tipping point to an ice-free Arctic. And we are just now realizing it, even though that tipping point was probably passed a decade or more ago.
This is critically important because in the history of our planet there have been five times when more than half of all life on Earth died. They're referred to as "mass extinctions."
One – the one that killed the dinosaurs – was initiated by a meteorite striking the Earth. The rest all appear to have been initiated by tectonic and volcanic activity.
In each case, however, what happened was that massive amounts of carbon-containing greenhouse gases – principally carbon dioxide, were released from beneath the Earth's crust and up into the atmosphere.
This provoked global warming intense enough to melt billions of tons of frozen methane on the oceans floors. That pulse of methane - an intense greenhouse gas - then brought the extinction to its full of intensity.
While in the past it took continental movement or an asteroid to break up the crust of the earth enough to release ancient stores of carbon into the atmosphere, we humans have been doing this very aggressively for the past 150 years by drilling and mining fossil fuels.
So the question: Will several centuries of burning fossil fuels release enough carbon into the atmosphere to mimic the effects of past volcanic and asteroid activity and provoke a mass extinction?
Geologists who study mass extinctions are becoming concerned. As more and more research is coming out about the massive stores of methane in the Arctic and around continental shelves, climate scientists are beginning to take notice, too.
The fossil fuel companies are sitting on roughly 2 trillion tons of underground carbon. That, in and of itself, is enough to warm the earth by 5 or 6°C, and is an amount of carbon consistent with tipping points during past mass extinctions.
There are an additional estimated 2 trillion tons of methane stored in the Arctic and probably 2 to 5 times that much around continental shelves all around the Earth.
If our burning fossil fuels warms the oceans enough that that methane melts and is quickly released into the atmosphere, the Earth will be in its sixth mass extinction.
And make no mistake about it, the animals and plants that are most heavily hit by mass extinctions are those that are largest and at the top of the food chain.
That means us.
We must stop the carbon madness and move, worldwide, to renewable 21st century energy sources.
Please check it out and share it with as many friends as possible.
The future of humanity is at stake.
|October 12, 2013||
Doit-on signer la pétition pour une ambassade des Élohim ?
by Marielle Dufour
Global Community File
Mouvement d’accueil des Élohim
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You can also access the pdf from the website http://www.ordredesapotresdesdernierstemps.org/
La présente lettre est pour vous informer des différentes réalités qui vous regardent personnellement et qui ont trait à votre lien avec les Élohim face à leur volonté et dans l’esprit de leurs messages.
Le texte dont je vous fais part a été écrit dans le but d’éviter de faire vivre aux gens de notre humanité une confusion à propos de la volonté des Élohim quant à leur venue dans une ambassade. En effet, cette pétition ne tient pas compte des conditions préalables à leur venue. Elle prête des intentions aux Élohim que ces derniers n’ont pas exprimées dans notre présente situation. Il est bien précisé dans les messages que les Élohim viendront dans l’ambassade pour aider l’humanité dans son cheminement vers l’âge d’or et non pour l’aider dans un cheminement la conduisant vers son autodestruction.
Dans ce texte, vous découvrirez aussi l’information que voici : Raël a modifié certains mots des messages dans le livre « Le vrai visage de Dieu » publié en 1998, trahissant ainsi la volonté des Élohim et les gens de son mouvement. C’est la plus grande erreur du prophète à ce jour. Cette erreur passera à l’histoire. La prophétie stipule que le prophète se trompera, mais que cela sera un bien, car les gens, grâce à cette erreur, comprendront davantage les messages des Élohim. C’est ce qui est le plus important sur le plan de l’infini. La prophétie conclut que tous diront : Heureuse erreur !
C’est dans un esprit de fraternité universelle que je vous transmets ces informations capitales à la venue des Élohim. De plus, je garde de vous le souvenir de nos méditations où nous nous imaginions tous ensemble accueillant les Élohim dans l’ambassade.
Vous trouverez ci-joint le document « Doit-on signer la pétition pour l’ambassade ? ». Vous le trouverez sur notre 2e site Web : www.ordredesapotresdesdernierstemps.org
Président du Mouvement d’accueil des Élohim (MADÉ).
Note. Notre 1er site a fait peau neuve : www.mouvementdaccueildeselohim.org
|September 29, 2013||
World Peace in Operation On a Permanent Basis
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
Download full WORD document by author
In his farewell speech to the United States Congress, President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a serious warning to all the members of the American government. He said emphatically: ”Remember that all people of all countries want peace; only their government wants war.”
Sources of Human Conflicts
This means the real human conflicts in the long term are often initiated by government officials to the detriment of their very own people. In spite of the fact that they are all members of the United Nations, they literally ignore the preamble of UNESCO, which stands for United Nations, Educational, Scientific and cultural Organization.
Such preamble states: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace should be constructed.” As human beings we all tend to be guided either by the mind, which tends to be suspicious or by the heart, which is the seat of love and compassion.
From history we learn that all those who proved to be highly beneficial provided us with guidelines that stem from their heart, which is the seat of love, mercy and compassion. Among such important ones we find Confucius, Lord Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth, Paul of Tarsus and all the way down to Francis of Assisi, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Pope John Paul II.
Needless to say, the list goes on and on. The all believed that if we were to embrace all people from our heart with love, mercy and compassion, we will eventually create an earthly paradise that is characterized by world peace. Our heart is not only the seat of love but also the seat of numerous virtues such as meekness, appreciation, respect, modesty, patience, humility and dedication to the service of others.
Throughout history, God has been described by just one word – amor, which means love. In many ascetical writers we find the words: Ubi est amor, Deus ibi est – where there is loved there is God. When our heart nourishes love, God is there in it. God is good because He is always saturated with genuine love for all human beings without exception.
God’s Genuine Love
God’s Blessed Mother, as well as all the angles and saints, are all characterized by true love. This was especially revealed by the Virgin Mary in Medjugorje during the decade of the eighties. During this decade she proclaimed that she is the mother of all people….. of those who love her as well as of those who reject her. She affirmed that she carried in her heart deep love for every human being without exception.
When the children in Medjugorje asked her: “How come God who is so good and so lovable sends people to hell for all eternity? Maybe for 5 to 10 thousand years,” they added. The Blessed Mother assured them that God never sent anyone to hell. In fact, she added: “If it depends on Him He would take all those in hell and bring them to heaven; but they hate God so much that from the moment they die they say to God moment per moment: I hate you, I do not want you, I do not want ever to be with you.”
In view of these stated realities, Archbishop John Bereslavsky, Patriarch of the former underground Orthodox Church, formed a religious movement in an effort to help bring a permanent peace among all people from every walk of life and profession. Initially it started as a powerful spiritual group that went by the name of Mother of God Church Derjevnaya.
In recent years, it evolved to become a powerful instrument to bring about a permanent world peace in the entire world, which begins with every individual heart that is saturated with pure and genuine love for every human being by all means. After living in Russia for a number of years, this Archbishop moved to Spain where he is mostly known as Father John.
He has numerous disciples all of whom are imbued with deep love in the heart, which they constantly share with others. Of course, tens of millions across every continent whose heart if full of love for others already form a part of this spiritual world peace movement. Father John wrote hundreds of books some of which have been translated in other languages, mostly in English and Spanish. In brief, world peace will eventually take place only after we implant in every human heart genuine love.
To this end, it would be very appropriate if the scope of the military everywhere is radically and drastically changed, from waging wars to waging peace, from the destruction of nations to the solid build-up of true world communities were all of the homeless would be provided with adequate shelters to live happily and decently with their family members.
Leading Source of Peace
From studies made by humanitarian organizations over the years, the vast majority of people around the world do carry the seed of love, which is deeply rooted in their heart. Hence, they all form an integral part of the true and genuine peace movement initiated by Archbishop John Bereslavsky, whose disciples refer to him simply by Father John, as stated earlier.
Let us illustrate this by example. When a baby is born everyone knows as to whether it is a boy or a girl except the baby itself. Those that are saturated with love for others in their heart, they already form an integral part of Father John’s universal spiritual movement of world peace. The eventual awareness of such a fact is not absolutely important.
Those who wish to become acquainted with the Mother of God Church Derjevnaya, may write to: Paisi.email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com among a number of other sources. This spiritual organization transcends all boundaries of division. All of its members view each other as brothers and sisters. Besides, all those who have chosen to let peace become an integral part of their heart through love may be viewed as genuine apostles of God Himself. They are also children of the Blessed Mother, who is spiritually a powerful instrument that enables us to be strong in all our endeavors.
The Virgin Mary’s deep love was expressed to the children in Medjuogrje when she told them: “I am the mother of all people whom I view as my most dear and beloved children.” No matter what relationship they choose to establish with her, this heavenly Mother keep on looking after every single human being with love and compassion.
In view of what has been stated, the real enemies of peace may be viewed as those who harbor hatred in their heart. This is generally revealed in the enormous sufferings they inflict on so many good and innocent people in the world at large, especially through the waging of wars. Our job in life is to do our best to help make the world better than the one we found. Our sacrosanct duty is to promote world peace and to put it in operation on a permanent basis. This will take place when we saturate our heart with love and compassion for others.
|October 23, 2013||
American Government in Perspective: Theory versus Practice
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
Download full WORD document by author
We may develop a good perspective of the United States government if we were to have a clear concept of its structure and modus operandi. This is very important since in theory this government is very different from the way it is in practice. Since World War II ended in 1945, the USA has invaded more than 30 nations. Each time this great nation justifies its belligerent policies by telling us that the primary purpose was to bring freedom and democracy to as many nations as possible.
Analysis of Freedom
In his writings, St. Thomas Aquinas revealed to us that nemo dat quod non habet – no one can give away something that one does not have. If we have only $100 dollars we may give $80, $60 or less but we cannot give $130, $150 or more. Our challenge here is to explore how the USA views freedom and democracy in theory and in practice. In theory, our moral freedom refers to our ability to perform anything we want that proves to be beneficial not only to ourselves but also to other people as well from every walk of life and profession.
The way the majority of US government officials talk of freedom, they seem to identify it with anarchy that is in the ability that anyone can do what one really likes as long as it is in one’s best interest. As long as there are good intentions everything seems to go and should be acceptable fully by the rest of the population. This was clearly verified in recent years in allowing people to purchase all kinds of guns they want in spite of tragic consequences.
Needless to say, we know the rest of the story. Thousands of good-law abiding citizens are killed every year including women, children, the elderly and the sick. Instead of amending portions of the US Constitution which have become fully obsolete, detrimental and outdated, like “the right to bear arms,” many US government officials continue to enforce them to the detriment of the very vast population as a whole.
The question that needs to be raised in this regard is this: If some 5,000 people are sitting in an auditorium watching a show, what would make each one of them safer, if all of these people are carrying a loaded gun or if no one in the audience is carrying any gun at all? The answer is obvious and does not need any comments. However, we need to bring to our attention here that the United States is a capitalistic nation whose ultimate goal is to pile up money and wealth without limit. In fact, one of the leading mottoes of some of the Chambers of Commerce goes as follows: The sky is not the limit!
Money as Ultimate Objective
This means the real objective in the American nation, which is deeply rooted in the minds of the vast majority of the members of Congress, is for the people to devise any plan they want that would give them as much money as possible. In view of this, we may begin to realize and fully understand why the United States has emerged to become one of the most violent nations on earth domestically to say the least. This explains why the USA tries to sell as many devastating weapons to every country that would give the right price.
Since World War II ended in 1945, the weapons industry and the military industrial complex have become very lucrative. Their job is only one, namely, to sell as many weapons and war equipment as possible as to make money without limit. This means they must create scenarios that would force the people to believe that such lethal ammunitions serve as the hope of their eventual salvation from destruction! This is outrageous because it is full of deliberate deceit. The people do not seem to have a way to know the truth.
The primary purpose of the average politician in the USA who works in Congress is not the welfare of the American people that elected them, but the boosting of the eventual products of those industries that financed their political campaign. Unfortunately, the bulk of such industries produce deadly products that threaten human lives everywhere. Very arrogantly, most US political figures defend the right for any industry to produce any products it likes, no matter how detrimental they may be to human lives, under the guise of “freedom.”
This explains while in practice the United States uses freedom in a way that is synonymous to anarchy, that is, to the ability to do what one wants regardless of how detrimental it may prove to others. As we have seen clearly, the USA does not have in practice the proper concept of freedom and, hence, it cannot promote it. This is proved by the fact that whenever the USA tries to infiltrate a nation, it always ends up bringing anarchy in that global area with numerous people suffering immensely as a consequence.
In view of this, how come the United States continues to express its will and determination to bring freedom to the people of other countries when, in essence, it has not procured its own people with that real freedom they all wish to have? As the Romans used to say: Aliud est theoria, aliud as practica – one thing is theory and another thing is practice. As long as the American nation continues to be fully controlled by big industries, it can never have freedom for its own people and far less for others. We now need to analyze the US concept of democracy as it is in theory and in practice.
Analysis of Democracy
Democracy is derived from the Greek words: demo + kratia – people + government. This concept originated in Greece more than 2,000 years ago. It meant that in a country everyone had a right to run for a political office along with the right to receive adequate publicity by way of information to prospective voters. The news media has the moral obligation to fulfill this duty among all the natives. In the United States democracy evolved to become something else. It became a tool in the hands of the rich to control the thinking of people.
The rich, along with big industries, have emerged to become fully in control of all the nation’s news media. To this end, they will only advertise those who have plenty of money at their disposal, while dumping all the rest. The phenomenal monopoly the big industries have developed over all of the news media brought about literally the death of democracy as it was always meant to be over the past two millennia. The process of the so called American democracy is characterized deliberately by well-organized elaborate fraud or deceit.
The American three branches of government have increasingly become agents of deceitful guidance in their dealings with the entire nation. It does not matter as to whether this misleading guidance stems from genuine good faith or from deliberate or intentional deceit. As far as the people are concerned, they have all become victims. As a result, they undergo great frustrations and sufferings. If your friend, say, is killed intentionally, his life is gone forever; and if your friend is killed accidently, his life is equally gone forever.
To understand and realize as to whether we have genuine democracy in the USA, we simply need to go not to the statements of politicians, but rather straight to the eventual results of their actions, especially on a long range basis. As the traditional saying goes in the USA, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This cannot be taken lightly any longer because the harm it has produced is beginning to get out of control. Let us try to bring this into perspective by evaluating some actions of the three respective branches of government.
These three US branches of government consist of the Supreme Court, the US Congress and the Whitehouse. The members of the Supreme Court consist of nine individuals nominated by the US President and then confirmed upon acceptance by Congress. They are appointed for life, that is, they may be there for ten, twenty or thirty years. No matter how they perform, the entire nation is literally stuck with them. Fairly recently, the Supreme Court declared that corporations are people! This was a very strange decision since each corporation is always referred to as “it” and never as “he” or “she.”
Wrong Directives Exposed
In the political sphere, this means that big industries could now give to candidates running for election millions of dollars without limit. This way such politicians may advertise themselves in all of the news media for their political campaign. Since in the USA people tend to vote for those with whom they feel familiar with their name, the corporations make sure that those candidates that would afterwards promote their product would be put in the office they seek. Such office is usually that of US Senator or US Congressman.
We may here group the US Senators and the US Congressmen together since, once they are elected, they tend to function identically the same. As a whole, they tend to work from the very day they take office not for the welfare of the people that elected them, but for the promotion of the products of the corporations that financed their political campaign. As a result of this vicious philosophy, we may understand many of the problems we notice periodically in the entire nation, the recent one being the governmental shut down.
If you were to spend days and months listening to the vast majority of US politicians talking, especially about reducing the phenomenal debt the USA is in at present, you hear them making all kinds of proposals, all of which are harmful to the American people. To quote some examples, they speak of cutting money from the health care system, cutting down social security, eliminating food stamps in addition to other vital items. They never speak about cutting down the elements that really created the enormous debts the USA faces.
When President Clinton left office, he left $800 million surplus. However, when his successor, President George W. Bush left office he left $2 trillion deficit! This was due to his involvement in the Iraqi war, which was viewed as illegal and immoral, in addition to the US war involvement in Afghanistan. Yet, we hardly hear political figures talking about solving problems through diplomacy and dialogues. Instead, they keep on resorting to weapons and wars as to continue to provide the military industrial complex with millions of dollars.
The United States took the initiative to attack Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, in addition to a few other nations, supposedly to bring to the people of such nations freedom and democracy. In reality, what they brought to the people of such countries was the destruction of the infrastructure of cities while wiping out homes, schools, hospitals and churches. Besides, they also created millions of refugees and killed tens of thousands of innocent people including women, children, the elderly and the sick. No wonder why the people of these invaded nations were highly critical of the American presence among them!
Showing Respect for People
In his speech at the University of Kansas in 1966, General Westmoreland who directed the Vietnam War said: I cannot understand how while we use the most sophisticated weapons, the Vietnamese come to fight us with rifles we use to shoot pigeons and yet we cannot win them. Then he added: From my experience I have to say that the best way to conquer a nation is to gain the support of the people of such a nation from the outset. And we know the rest of the story, the US military did not win in Vietnam.
Very few years ago General McChrystal who was the commander of the US forces in Afghanistan made a similar statement. That alienated US government officials in Washington, DC to the extent that President Obama had him replaced without further delay. During the middle of the war in Iraq, some humanitarian organizations visited many families there and asked them: How do you feel with the Americans here? Without hesitation they said: We were better off before they came here than after.
Within the context this means that the people in Iraq felt better under Saddam Hussein than under the US military. This humanitarian group felt somewhat curious and quickly asked: How come? The reply was again unanimous: Because before the Americans came we had our homes and we enjoyed seeing our children playing and growing. Now our homes are destroyed, while some of our children were killed or maimed. For them the presence of Americans did not signify freedom nor democracy at all.
Confronted by such realities why does the US government continue to promote struggles and wars when such elements have already destroyed the American economy for all practical purposes. Let us keep in mind that what makes a nation strong is the people revealed in their good health, quality education and adequate home facilities. It is not revealed in the military through devastating weapons and the constant waging of wars. As Pope Pius XII stated on the eve of World War II: In a war everyone is a loser, no one a winner.
During the last presidential elections, Representative Ron Paul from Texas run for the Republican nomination to become the next US President. He said that if elected President he would proceed immediately to close 50% of the American foreign military bases. He confirmed that the United States would still have more foreign military bases than all the nations of the world combined. Besides, he added, the billions of dollars saved every year could be used to provide free health care for all Americans, along with free education from the cradle to the grave. Also, he would provide all people with adequate home facilities.
Honesty the Best Policy
In dealing with each other we need to keep in mind that honesty is always the best policy. This means when we communicate with people we must make it a point that our message is always crystal clear. The Italians have a proverb which says: Chiama pane (con la parola) pane e vino (con la parola) vino – Call bread (by the name) bread and wine (by the name) wine. This is perhaps also one leading weakness in the US government that is revealed in the expressions it uses to communicate with its people and the world at large.
When the USA uses the expression national defense and security, in practice it means preparation for the promotion of wars anywhere in the world. This explains why the world is polluted with US foreign military bases that tend to make millions of people in the vicinity threatened and resentful of their presence. Besides, the USA maintains that its strong military is there to keep the American people well protected and safe. Many Americans are homeless. What is the US military doing to provide them with homes? Nothing!
What does the military do to give Americans free health care? Nothing! What does the military do to enable Americans have free education through university? Nothing! What does the military do to repair most of the bridges across the country? Nothing! The time has arrived when the objective and purpose of the military must be radically changed. If the military assumes such stated roles, most of the financial problems would be solved and the American people could then concentrate on becoming more productive in many ways.
We still have one more governmental element to handle, the Whitehouse, which is the seat of the US presidency. In almost every case, the US President is primarily concerned about the kind of image he wants to project to the nation and the world at large. Hence, the eventual dire needs of the American people do not really occupy priority. This explains why, in spite of the de facto resistance the American people show to wars, the US President may still proceed to deal with other nations through threats, struggles, and wars.
Even in the domestic sphere, when it comes to his modus operandi, the President tends to formulate policies that he believes are more popular among the American people as a whole. In quite a number of instances what seems to be the most popular does not necessarily mean that it is the right thing to do. When it comes to matter of sacrosanct principles the President is expected to have the courage to defend them the best he can without ever caving in. We may illustrate this by some example taken from the so called Obama Care, which basically deals with the vital health needs of the American people.
Problem of Abortion
In the USA there is a strong movement, especially among women, that favors abortion, which is mildly referred to as women’s reproductive rights. This means that the ultimate decision-maker in this regards is neither the government nor the church but the individual pregnant woman. Needless to say, this goes against the teachings of virtually every religion, which views the content of the Ten Commandments with great respect. One of which states: You should not kill. This generally applies to human life from conception to natural death.
In the structure of the Obama Care, the President took the initiative to enforce on the entire nation the philosophy and beliefs of the abortion movement by promising to cut off financial assistance from church-related hospitals that view abortion as the deliberate termination of human life at its early stages. In spite of the fact that the US Constitution speaks clearly on the separation of church and state, the US President took the initiative to put the church in its modus operandi fully under the control of the state.
In view of this, we may begin to understand clearly why the United States is faced with so many problems. The three branches of government – the Supreme Court, the US Congress, and the Whitehouse – do not tend to act on a clear set of rules that are in the best interest of everyone without exception. Quite a number of decisions are made by an influential minority to protect itself. This explains why the concept of freedom and democracy has been virtually lost and we need to take constructive steps in this regard.
Freedom and democracy would then become a tangible reality and the US government could then concentrate on helping the nations of the world not by providing them with weapons and military equipment but by providing them with good medical equipment and excellent educational facilities. Instead of sending them soldiers to train them for struggles and wars, we would be sending countries everywhere teachers and well trained experts in a variety of good professional fields where everyone would be a winner and no one a loser.
|October 20, 2013||
Réflexions philosophiques contemporaines basées sur la nécessité du respect de la dignité de la vie !
by Guy Crequie
Guy CREQUIE Global file
L’économiste Armata Sen a déclaré « L’insécurité qui menace la survie des personnes ou leur vie quotidienne ou encore met en péril la dignité naturelle des femmes et des hommes où les expose à l’incertitude engendrée par la maladie, les épidémies, le chômage, l’absence ou l’agression contre les droits humains exige que l’on prête une attention particulière aux dangers liés à un dégradation brutale du sort de chacun… » (Rapport de la Commission sur la sécurité humaine-la sécurité humaine maintenant) -Presses des Sciences politiques Paris 2003 ;
Si l’homme était conscient de l’intelligence de la nécessité pourquoi aliéner d’autres humains par la souffrance au travail, ou le sans-emploi, les privations ou la guerre !
En effet, il est rapporté aujourd’hui que dans le monde environ 160 millions de personnes sont touchées par les catastrophes naturelles et que 100.000 perdent la vie chaque année; par rapport aux années 70, l’incidence des catastrophes et le nombre de personnes affectées ont pratiquement triplées. Comment alors affirmer : que l’activité humaine n’y est pour rien ?
En terme de droits humains et d’aventurier et créateur de concepts le philosophe ne peut-il pas mentionner qu’ l’écart de niveau de vie s’ajoute ensuite celui d’un écart de dignité !
Si l’UNESCO, depuis quelques années a précisé que la pauvreté est une atteinte insupportable aux droits humains devrait s’ajouter une réflexion et des actions pour combler l’écart de dignité.
Dans le même rapport cité on peut lire « L’Etat demeure l’instance principale qui pourvoit à la sécurité. Cependant, il devient de plus en plus incapable de remplir cette obligation, et est même parfois devenu la source de menaces pour son propre peuple ; C’est pourquoi, il faut maintenant passer de la sécurité de L’Etat à la sécurité des citoyens- à la sécurité humaine.
J’ai parlé précédemment de Bergson :celui-ci a employé le terme de génie spirituel :c’est à dire à une régénération du cœur ou une reconstruction mentale et spirituelle qui est l’un des défis les plus exigeants que nous ayons à relever…
Comme l’a compris le bouddha Shakyamuni, Jésus et son sermon sur la montagne….et plus près de nous le philosophe Karl JASPERS : « En s’adressant à tous ; il faut s’adresser chacun en particulier.. Karl JASPERS »Les grands philosophes-Socrate, Bouddha, Confucius, Jésus, Editions Plon Paris 2009, p.193.
Rappelons- nous cet avertissement de Bertrand RUSSEL :
« Notre monde a laissé germer un concept de sécurité inquiétant et déformé le sens de la moralité :Des armes sont protégées comme des trésors, ceci alors que chaque jour des humains dont des enfants et des mères meurent d’épidémies, de faim, de froid ou de la sécheresse et de la guerre. »
Egalement comme l’a déclaré l’ancienne Présidente du Chili : Michelle BACHELET, relativement aux droits fondamentaux de la femme : » J’ai eu l’occasion de voir de mes propres yeux ce que les femmes souvent dans les pires circonstances peuvent accomplir dans leur famille et pour la société lorsqu’on leur en donne l’opportunité. la Force de constance et la sagesse des femmes demeurent la plus grande ressource inexploitée. Nous ne pouvons pas nous permettre d’attendre cent ans de plus pour libérer ce potentiel… »
C’est pourquoi : ll faut une nouvelle vision pour :
- Créer un monde qui, refusant de nier les tragédies humaines quand elles surviennent s’unit dans la solidarité pour surmonter ce qui la menace ;
- Créer un monde qui fondé sur l’autonomisation de l’individu accorde la priorité à la dignité et au droit de chacun vivre en paix,
- Créer un monde qui, retenant les leçons de son passé ne laisse pas les générations futures hériter des antécédents négatifs de l’histoire humaine et met tout en œuvre pour transformer ces antécédents.
Copyright Guy CREQUIE
Ecrivain français à finalité philosophique
Contemporary philosophical reflections based on the need for the respect of the dignity of the life!
The economist Armata SEN declared “the insecurity which threatens survival of the people or their daily life or puts in danger the natural dignity of the women and of the men where exposes to the uncertainty generated by the disease, the epidemics, unemployment, the absence or the aggression against the human rights requires that one pay a special attention to the dangers related to a brutal degradation of the fate of each one…” (Commission Report on human safety it human safety now) - Presses of Political sciences Paris 2003;
If the man were conscious of the intelligence of the need why alienate the other human ones by the suffering with work, or the unemployed person, the deprivations or the war!
Indeed, it is reported today that in the world approximately 160 million people is touched by the natural disasters and that 100,000 die each year; compared to the Seventies, the incidence of the catastrophes and the number of affected people practically tripled. How then to affirm: what the human activity isn't there for nothing?
In term of human rights and adventurer and creator of concepts the philosopher cannot it mention that the variation of standard of living is added then that of a variation of dignity!
If UNESCO, for a few years has specified that poverty is an unbearable infringement of the human rights should be added a reflection and actions to fill the variation of dignity.
In the same quoted report one can read “the State remains the principal authority which provides for safety. However, it becomes increasingly unable to fulfill this obligation, and even sometimes became the source of threats for its own people; This is why, it is now necessary to pass from the safety of the State to the safety of the citizens to human safety.
I spoke previously about Bergson:this one employed the term of spiritual genius:i.e. with a regeneration of the heart or a mental and spiritual rebuilding which is one of the challenges most demanding that we have to raise…
As understood it the Buddha Shakyamuni, Jesus and his sermon on the mountain….and more close to us the philosopher Karl JASPERS: “While addressing itself to all; each one should be addressed in particular. Karl JASPERS” large philosophers-Socrate, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, Editions Plon Paris 2009, p.193.
Let us point out this warning of Bertrand Russell:
“Our world let germinate a concept of safety worrying and deformed the direction of morality:Weapons are protected like treasures, this whereas each day of human whose children and mothers die of epidemics, hunger, cold or the drought and the war. ”
Also like declared it the former President of Chile: Michelle Bachelet, compared to basic rights of the woman: ” I had the occasion to see my own eyes what the women often in the worst circumstances can achieve in their family and for the company when one gives them the chance of it. the Force of constancy and the wisdom of the women remain the greatest unexploited resource. We cannot allow us to wait hundred years more to release this potential…”
This is why: ll is necessary a new vision for:
- To create a world which, refusing to deny the human tragedies when they occur links in solidarity to surmount what threatens it;
- To create a world which founded on the empowerment of the individual gives the priority to the dignity and the right of each one to live in peace,
- To create a world which, retaining the lessons of its past does not let the future generations inherit the negative antecedents of the human history and implements all to transform these antecedents.
Copyright Guy CREQUIE
French writer with philosophical purpose
|October 1, 2013||
ASSEZ DE LARMES ET DE SANG EN SYRIE !
by Guy Crequie
Guy CREQUIE Global file
Depuis le début des hostilités
120.000 mort en Syrie
Les mois se suivent et se ressemblent :
Bruits de mortier, Fusillades, assassinats, bombardements
Sont le lot quotidien
Femmes enfants, vieillards….
vivent et connaissent ce cauchemar quotidien
Assez de morts, de vies broyées, de familles détruites
Assez de larmes et de sang versé en Syrie
Le respect de la dignité de la vie
N’a pas de camp mais exprime un principe universel
Que cessent les combats qui attisent
Les peurs, les haines et la désolation
Avec la destruction des armes chimiques
Décidée, acceptée et validée
Que les grandes puissances de notre monde
Avec le régime syrien et son opposition
Sous l’égide de l’ONU retrouvant une légitimité
Fassent cesser cette guerre qui n’a que trop duré
Le temps viendra de juger
les auteurs de crimes contre l’humanité
Que le peuple syrien décide lui-même de son destin
Afin que la vie serve la vie
Dans une Syrie apaisée,
respectant partout :pour toutes et pour tous
le caractère sacré des droits humains.
Messager de la culture de la paix de l’UNESCO
|September 27, 2013||
A propos du 5e rapport du GIEC sur le changement climatique !
by Guy Crequie
Guy CREQUIE Global file
Avant-propos de Guy CREQUIE : Je l’ai toujours dit : l’intelligence n’est pas à confondre avec l’intelligence de la nécessité !
Si les conditions psychobiologiques sont des conditions de possibilité l’être humain est modelé par ses rapports sociaux objectifs
Il y a les conditions familiales qui préfigurent et pour une bonne part les conditions culturelles. L’être humain a une trajectoire spécifique unique, mais le monde social qui l’entoure à son incidente sur sa trajectoire
Des parents fortunés disposant de moyens peuvent choisir leur école, aider leurs enfants durant la période scolaire, lui faciliter l’accès à certains sports ou activités culturelles. Certes, et heureusement, il est des enfants de milieux modestes qui s’en sortent de par leur personnalité, la chance de rencontres, ou selon la situation géographique, ils bénéficient d’aides sociales et culturelles selon les villes, et la connaissance de tel enseignant rencontré est parfois un aimant qui stimule une orientation…Bref, le constat est celui que bien des élèves sortant des grandes écoles et se retrouvant ultérieurement dans ce qui est appelé les élites dirigeantes, ont de grandes connaissances de gestion, connaissent les modèles mathématiques, les modèles économiques, le droit constitutionnel, etc.. Cependant, dès qu’ils occupent des responsabilités électives le même moule comportemental se produit : celui de la recherche du pouvoir sur les autres dont celui de l’argent…
La connaissance scientifique et technologique n’est pas naturellement humaniste : la Conscience morale ne va pas au même rythme que celle des connaissances scientifiques, juridiques et sociales. C’est ainsi ,que l’étude de peuplades dont le modèle est présenté comme primitif nous montre que certaines notions en voie de disparition dans le monde dit développé existe chez elles : amour, compassion, partage, solidarité, étude et protection de la nature et de ses espéces :animales, végétales, minérales…
Ensuite, la protection de la planète va de pair avec la lutte contre la pauvreté :celle ou celui qui peut se chauffer même avec du charbon, qui peut travailler même dans les pires conditions, qui découvre l’automobile même polluante, accède a de l’inédit pour lui ; Il faut donc : dès le plus jeune âge, une éducation environnementale, il faut un partage de connaissances utiles à toute l’humanité, il faut que le progrès technologique non polluant soit disponible pour tous et toutes ;le climat n’a pas de frontières étatiques, nous sommes tous et toutes inter reliés, nous appartenons tous au genre humain l’homo sapiens.
Alors certains me dirons = idées utopiques, nous n’avons pas les moyens ! C’est la crise !
Sans entrer dans un débat technique et financier trop complexe imaginez : ce qui pourrait être fait avec les milliards d’euros ou de dollars, évadés dans les paradis fiscaux, les sommes colossales en millions de dollars dépensées pour les armes chimiques et nucléaires, les ventes d’armes illicites….
Alors le moment est venu d’agir en pensant aux générations futures :qu’allons-nous leur laisser en héritage, ou voulons nous aller : Qui sommes-nous ? encore des humains dotés d’intelligence et d’humanité ?
Copyright Guy CREQUIE
Ecrivain observateur social à finalité philosophique
La rapport DU GIEC :
Le Giec vient de rendre public le premier volet de son cinquième rapport d'évaluation dédié au changement climatique. Ce vendredi matin, à 10 h, le groupe a diffusé le résumé à l'intention des décideurs. L'embargo sur les résultats a été levé, mais il faudra attendre lundi 30 septembre 2013 pour pouvoir consulter librement en ligne le rapport du groupe de travail I. Ce document est consacré aux éléments scientifiques permettant d'évaluer la dynamique du climat passé, présent et futur.
Le groupe de travail I fait le point sur les observations, pour l'atmosphère, l'océan, la cryosphère et le niveau des mers, à partir de mesures récentes et plus anciennes. Il dresse ensuite le bilan des perturbations radiatives, évalue les modèles climatiques, et discute les projections à court et long terme. Dans son précédent volume, paru en 2007, le Giec prévoyait pour 2100 une augmentation de la température atmosphérique globale de 1,8 °C pour le scénario d'émission le plus optimiste. Avec le scénario le plus pessimiste la température grimperait de 4 °C. En appliquant ces mêmes scénarios, l'augmentation du niveau moyen de la mer varierait entre 18 et 59 cm d'ici la fin du siècle.
Le graphique du haut indique les moyennes annuelles mondiales de températures et tendance linéaire. L’ordonnée de gauche montre des anomalies de température par rapport à la moyenne 1961 - 1990, et l’ordonnée de droite les températures réelles, toutes deux en °C. Sont présentées les tendances linéaires pour les 25 (en jaune), 50 (en orange), 100 (en violet) et 150 dernières années (en rouge). L’augmentation totale de température, de la période 1850 à 1899 à la période 2001 à 2005, est 0,76 °C ± 0,19 °C. Sur le graphique du bas sont indiquées les tendances mondiales linéaires de températures au cours de la période 1979 à 2005, estimées à la surface (à gauche) et dans la troposphère (à droite), à partir d’enregistrements par satellite. Le gris indique les secteurs dont les données sont incomplètes.
Le graphique du haut indique les moyennes annuelles mondiales de températures et tendance linéaire. L’ordonnée de gauche montre des anomalies de température par rapport à la moyenne 1961 - 1990, et l’ordonnée de droite les températures réelles, toutes deux en °C. Sont présentées les tendances linéaires pour les 25 (en jaune), 50 (en orange), 100 (en violet) et 150 dernières années (en rouge). L’augmentation totale de température, de la période 1850 à 1899 à la période 2001 à 2005, est 0,76 °C ± 0,19 °C. Sur le graphique du bas sont indiquées les tendances mondiales linéaires de températures au cours de la période 1979 à 2005, estimées à la surface (à gauche) et dans la troposphère (à droite), à partir d’enregistrements par satellite. Le gris indique les secteurs dont les données sont incomplètes. © Giec, 2007
Trois nouveaux chapitres dans le cinquième rapport
Pour leur nouveau volume, le groupe de travail I a réuni 9.200 publications scientifiques et quelque 259 auteurs ont œuvré à la rédaction. Cette édition comporte trois nouveaux chapitres par rapport à celle de 2007, qui détaillent trois sujets sensibles : le forçage des aérosols dus à leurs interactions avec les nuages, la hausse du niveau des mers et la variabilité décennale des phénomènes climatiques.
Le premier fournit « un état des lieux précis sur la compréhension du forçage des aérosols, souligné dans le 4e rapport comme l'une des sources majeures d'incertitude sur l'évolution du climat et du cycle de l'eau », commente pour Futura-Sciences Valérie Masson-Delmotte, paléoclimatologue et membre du Giec. Le deuxième répond à la demande des gouvernements. « Il décrit les changements passés, actuels et futurs du niveau des mers, de l'échelle globale à l'échelle régionale », explique-t-elle encore. Le troisième chapitre est aussi une réponse à l’attente des dirigeants politiques. « Il traite des phénomènes (moussons, Enso) qui affectent fortement les activités humaines et pour lesquels une évaluation critique de l'état des connaissances a été demandée à la communauté scientifique ».
Le forçage des aérosols, principale source d’incertitude
Le forçage des aérosols domine l’incertitude sur le forçage total des activités humaines. En climatologie, un forçage désigne un élément qui perturbe le système, et la réponse du climat est une rétroaction. Les principaux forçages naturels sont les variations de l’ensoleillement et les éruptions volcaniques. Les forçages anthropiques concernent principalement les émissions de gaz à effet de serre, d’aérosols et la modification des surfaces végétales. « C'est le forçage des aérosols dû à leurs interactions avec les nuages qui continue de poser problème », nous précise Olivier Boucher, directeur de recherche au CNRS et coordinateur du nouveau chapitre dédié à ce forçage.
Sur le graphique en haut (A), sont indiqués les forçages radiatifs (FR) moyens à l’échelle mondiale, et leurs intervalles de confiance (à 90 %) entre 1750 et 2005, pour divers agents et mécanismes. La figure illustre aussi le forçage radiatif anthropique net et sa marge d’erreur. Le schéma (B) représente la distribution de la probabilité du forçage radiatif combiné moyen mondial de tous les agents anthropiques présentés dans (A). La distribution est calculée en associant les meilleures estimations et les incertitudes de chaque composant.
Sur le graphique en haut (A), sont indiqués les forçages radiatifs (FR) moyens à l’échelle mondiale, et leurs intervalles de confiance (à 90 %) entre 1750 et 2005, pour divers agents et mécanismes. La figure illustre aussi le forçage radiatif anthropique net et sa marge d’erreur. Le schéma (B) représente la distribution de la probabilité du forçage radiatif combiné moyen mondial de tous les agents anthropiques présentés dans (A). La distribution est calculée en associant les meilleures estimations et les incertitudes de chaque composant. © Giec, 2007
Ces particules peuvent avoir plusieurs effets. Le plus souvent, les aérosols renvoient le rayonnement vers l’espace, ce qui a un effet refroidissant pour la surface terrestre, c’est l’effet direct. Toutefois, dans les régions nuageuses ou au-dessus de la neige, les aérosols ont peu d’influence directe. On parle alors d’effet semi-direct. Enfin, ces particules jouent un rôle dans la genèse des nuages. Mais suivant leur nombre, l’albédo, et donc l’effet radiatif des nuages, change. C’est bien là que réside la difficulté. Olivier Boucher commente : « Les rétroactions des nuages [en réponse au forçage des aérosols, NDLR] continuent d'être une source importante d'incertitudes dans les modèles. Cela dit, les forçages dus aux gaz à effet de serre sont très bien établis et même si les aérosols compensent une partie de ce forçage, le forçage total reste positif. »
La responsabilité des activités humaines est sans équivoque
Autre point sensible, cette dernière décennie, le climat ne s’est pas réchauffé aussi rapidement que les climatologues ne le prévoyaient. S’il s’agit d’un sujet actif de recherche, les experts ne sont pas surpris. Olivier Boucher nous explique : « Il y a énormément de variabilité sur des périodes de 15 ans, et ce ralentissement n'est pas très surprenant. D'autres indicateurs du changement climatique (fonte des glaces, réchauffement de l'océan) ne montrent pas de pause. On ne s'attend pas à ce que chaque simulation de chaque modèle traduise ce ralentissement, car le climat est un système chaotique. Il suffit que certaines simulations reproduisent ce ralentissement, ce qui est le cas. »
On l’aura donc compris, dans son nouveau rapport, le groupe de travail I ne revient pas sur les grandes lignes du précédent. Le réchauffement climatique est bel et bien en cours. L’influence des activités humaines est bien sûr sous les projecteurs. « L'impact des activités humaines sur le climat est évalué à l'aide de méthodes de détection et d'attribution. Tous les travaux publiés depuis le 4e rapport montrent sans équivoque l'impact des activités humaines sur le climat, à l'échelle globale (composition atmosphérique, température, niveau des mers) ainsi que pour la plupart des régions (température, précipitations, vagues de chaleur, glace de mer, glaciers)
Of: Guy Crequie [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Envoy: Friday, September 27, 2013 14:13
Subject: In connection with the 5th report of the GIEC on the climate change!
Foreword of Guy CREQUIE: I always said it: the intelligence is not to confuse with the intelligence of the need!
If the psychobiological conditions are conditions of possibility the human being is modelled by its objective social reports
There are the family conditions which precede and for a good portion the cultural conditions. The human being has a single specific trajectory, but the social world which surrounds it with its incidental on its trajectory
Fortunate parents having means can choose their school, to help their children lasting the school period, to facilitate to him the access to certain sports or cultural activities. Admittedly, and fortunately, he is children of modest milieus which are left there from their personality, the chance of meetings, or according to the geographical location, they profit from social securities and cultural according to the cities, and the knowledge of such teacher met is sometimes loving which stimulates an orientation… Bref, the report is that which many pupils leaving the universities and finding themselves later on in what is called the leading elites, have great knowledge of management, know the mathematical models, the economic models, the constitutional law, etc. However, as soon as they occupy of the elective responsibilities the same behavioral mould occurs: that of the research of the power on the others of which that of the money…
The scientific knowledge and technological is not naturally humanistic: the Moral conscience does not go to the same rhythm as that of the scientific knowledge, legal and social. It is thus, which the study of tribes whose model is introduced as primitive shows us that certain concepts in the process of disappearance in the world known as developed exists at them: love, compassion, division, solidarity, study and protection of nature and of its species:animal, vegetable, mineral…
Then, the protection of planet goes hand in hand with the fight against poverty:that or that which can be heated even with coal, which can work even under the worst conditions, which discovers the even polluting car, reaches has new for him; It is thus necessary: as of more the young age, an environmental education, one needs a division of knowledge useful to all humanity, it is necessary that technological progress not pollutant is available for all and all;the climate does not have official borders, we are all and all inter connected, we all belong to mankind the homo sapiens.
Then some = utopian ideas, we will tell me do not have the means! It is the crisis!
Without entering a technical debate and too complex financier imagine: what could be made with the billion euros or dollars, escaped in the tax havens, the colossal sums in million dollars spent for the chemical weapons and nuclear, illicit sales of weapons….
Then the moment had just acted while thinking of the future generations:what we will leave them in heritage, or want to go ourselves: Who are we? still the human ones equipped with intelligence and humanity?
Copyright Guy CREQUIE
Social observant writer with philosophical purpose
The report OF the GIEC:
Giec has just made public the first shutter of his fifth evaluation report dedicated to the climate change. This Friday morning, at 10:00, the group diffused the summary for the decision makers. The embargo on the results was raised, but it will be necessary to wait Monday, September 30, 2013 to be able to consult freely on line the report of working group I. This document is devoted to the scientific elements making it possible to evaluate the dynamics of the climate passed, present and future.
Working group I fact the point on the observations, for the atmosphere, the ocean, the cryosphère and the sea level, starting from recent and older measurements. He takes then stock of the radiative disturbances, evaluates the climatic models, and discusses projections in the short and long term. In its preceding volume, published in 2007, Giec envisaged for 2100 an increase in the total atmospheric temperature of 1.8 °C for the most optimistic scenario of the emission. With the most pessimistic scenario the temperature would climb of 4 °C. By applying these same scenarios, the increase in the mean level of the sea would vary between 18 and 59 cm by the end of the century.
The graph top indicates the world annual averages of temperatures and linear trend. The ordinate of left shows anomalies of temperature compared to the average 1961 - 1990, and the ordinate of right-hand side the real temperatures, both in °C. The linear trends are presented for the 25 (in yellow), 50 (out of orange), 100 (purple) and 150 last years (in red). The total increase in temperature, of the period 1850 to 1899 at the period 2001 to 2005, is 0.76 °C ± 0.19 °C. On the graph of bottom are indicated the linear world tendencies of temperatures during the period 1979 to 2005, estimated at surface (on the left) and in troposphere (on the right), starting from recordings by satellite. The gray indicates the sectors of which the data are incomplete.
The graph top indicates the world annual averages of temperatures and linear trend. The ordinate of left shows anomalies of temperature compared to the average 1961 - 1990, and the ordinate of right-hand side the real temperatures, both in °C. The linear trends are presented for the 25 (in yellow), 50 (out of orange), 100 (purple) and 150 last years (in red). The total increase in temperature, of the period 1850 to 1899 at the period 2001 to 2005, is 0.76 °C ± 0.19 °C. On the graph of bottom are indicated the linear world tendencies of temperatures during the period 1979 to 2005, estimated at surface (on the left) and in troposphere (on the right), starting from recordings by satellite. The gray indicates the sectors of which the data are incomplete. © Giec, 2007
Three new chapters in the fifth report
For their new volume, working group I joined together 9,200 scientific publications and some 259 authors have work with the drafting. This edition comprises three new chapters compared to that of 2007, which detail three sensitive topics: the forcing of the aerosols due to their interactions with the clouds, the rise of the sea level and the decennial variability of the climatic phenomena.
The first provides “a precise inventory of fixtures on the comprehension of the forcing of the aerosols, underlined in the 4th report like one of the major sources of uncertainty on the evolution of the climate and the cycle of water”, comments for Futura-Sciences Valerie Masson-Delmotte, paleoclimatologist and member of Giec. The second answers at the request of the governments. “It describes the changes passed, current and futures of the sea level, of the total scale on the regional scale”, she still explains. The third chapter is also an answer to waiting of the political leaders. “It treats phenomena (monsoons, Enso) which strongly affect the human activities and for which a critical evaluation of the state of knowledge was requested from the scientific community”.
The forcing of the aerosols, main source of uncertainty
The forcing of the aerosols dominates uncertainty over the total forcing of the human activities. In climatology, a forcing indicates an element which disturbs the system, and the answer of the climate is a feedback. Principal natural forcings are the variations of the sunning and the volcanic eruptions. Forcings anthropic relate to mainly the gas emissions for greenhouse effect, of aerosols and the modification of vegetable surfaces. “It is the forcing of the aerosols due to their interactions with the clouds which continues to pose problem”, specifies us Olivier Boucher, research director at CNRS and coordinator of the new chapter dedicated to this forcing.
On the graph into high (A), average radiative forcings on a worldwide scale, and their confidence intervals are indicated (to 90%) between 1750 and 2005, for various agents and mechanisms. The figure illustrates also radiative forcing anthropic Net and its margin of error. The diagram (B) represents the probability distribution of radiative forcing world average compound of all the agents anthropic presented in (A). The distribution is calculated by associating the best estimates and uncertainties of each component.
(FR)On the graph into high (A), average radiative forcings on a worldwide scale, and their confidence intervals are indicated (to 90%) between 1750 and 2005, for various agents and mechanisms. The figure illustrates also radiative forcing anthropic Net and its margin of error. The diagram (B) represents the probability distribution of radiative forcing world average compound of all the agents anthropic presented in (A). The distribution is calculated by associating the best estimates and uncertainties of each component. © Giec, 2007
(FR)These particles can have several effects. Generally, the aerosols return the radiation towards space, which has an effect cooling for terrestrial surface, it is the direct effect. However, in the cloudy areas or above snow, the aerosols have little direct influence. One speaks then about semi-direct effect. Lastly, these particles play a part in the genesis of the clouds. But according to their number, the albedo, and thus the radiative effect of the clouds, change. It is well there that the difficulty resides. Olivier Boucher comments on: “Feedbacks of the clouds [in answer to the forcing of the aerosols, note] continue to be an important source of uncertainties in the models. However, forcings due to greenhouse gases are very well established and even if the aerosols compensate for part of this forcing, total forcing remains positive. ”
The responsibility for the human activities is unambiguous
Another significant point, this last decade, the climate was not heated as quickly as the climatologists envisaged it. If it is about an active subject of research, the experts are not surprised. Olivier Boucher explains us: “There is enormously variability over periods some 15 years, and this deceleration is not very surprising. Other indicators of the climate change (cast iron of the ices, warming of the ocean) do not show a pause. One does not expect that each simulation of each model represents this deceleration, because the climate is a chaotic system. It is enough that certain simulations reproduce this deceleration, which is the case. ”
It will thus have been understood, in his new report, working group I does not return on the broad outlines of the precedent. Climate warming is indeed in hand. The influence of the human activities is of course under the projectors. “The impact of the human activities on the climate is evaluated using methods of detection and attribution. All the work published since the 4th report shows unambiguous the impact of the human activities on the climate, on a total scale (atmospheric composition, temperature, sea level) like for most areas (temperature, precipitations, heatwaves, ice of sea, glaciers)