Politics and Justice Without Borders
Global Community Newsletter main website


Volume 12 Issue 12 August 2014
The theme of Global Dialogue 2015 is:

Global Community Faith in God's Spirit, Soullife, helping the formation of Life in the Universe.  Global Community Faith in God's Spirit, Soullife, helping the formation of Life in the Universe

Germain Dufour
Spiritual Leader of Global Community
Prophete of God

August 2014
Global Community Faith in God's Spirit, Soullife, helping the formation of Life in the Universe.

Global Community Faith in God's Spirit, Soullife, helping the formation of Life in the Universe.
Artwork by Germain Dufour
January 6, 2008
( see enlargement Global Community Faith in God's Spirit, Soullife, helping the formation of Life in the Universe. )


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

Dan Arel, Robert Barsocchini, Farooque Chowdhury, Guy Crequie, Megan Darby, Fondation Hommes de parole Suisse/France, Michael B. Gerrard, Suzanne Goldenberg, Thom Hartmann (2), Philip Hoare, Michael T. Klare, Tara Lohan, Amanda Marcotte, Dr Gideon Polya, Paul Craig Roberts, Valerie Tarico, Rene Wadlow, Cliff Weathers (3), C J Werleman, Gary Wockner

Dan Arel, 5 States Gunning to Make Their Kids As Scientifically Illiterate As Possible by Teaching Creationist B.S. 5 States Gunning to Make Their Kids As Scientifically Illiterate As Possible by Teaching Creationist B.S.
Robert Barsocchini, Obama's Ukrainian "Afghan Trap" Plays Out Obama's Ukrainian
Farooque Chowdhury, 25 Most Fragile States: Gifts From The Global System 25 Most Fragile States: Gifts From The Global System
Guy Crequie, Les 67 plus riches de la plante possdent autant que les 3,5 milliards de plus pauvres ! Les 67 plus riches de la plante possdent autant que les 3,5 milliards de plus pauvres !
Megan Darby, US-Europe Trade Deal: Corporate Power Grab US-Europe Trade Deal: Corporate Power Grab
Fondation Hommes de parole Suisse/France, Le monde est un heritage El mundo es un legado O mundo um legado The world is a legacy Le monde est un hritage El mundo es un legado O mundo  um legado The world is a legacy
Michael B. Gerrard, Obama's New Emission Rules: Will They Survive Challenges Obamas New Emission Rules: Will They Survive Challenges
Suzanne Goldenberg, Oklahoma's Fracking Wells Behind the Spate of Earthquakes Oklahoma's Fracking Wells Behind the Spate of Earthquakes
Thom Hartmann, The Giant Methane Monster Is Lurking The Giant Methane Monster Is Lurking
Thom Hartmann, The Giant Methane Monster That Can Wipe Out the Human Race The Giant Methane Monster That Can Wipe Out the Human Race
Philip Hoare, Why Whale Poo Could Be Key to Reversing Effects of Climate Change Why Whale Poo Could Be Key to Reversing Effects of Climate Change
Michael T. Klare, Our 21st Century Energy Wars Our 21st Century Energy Wars
Tara Lohan, 5 Shocking Places Where Fracking Is Taking Off 5 Shocking Places Where Fracking Is Taking Off
Amanda Marcotte, Why Do Right-Wing Christians Think 'Religious Freedom' Means Forcing Their Faith on You Why Do Right-Wing Christians Think 'Religious Freedom' Means Forcing Their Faith on You
Dr Gideon Polya, $10 Trillion Annual Carbon Debt Increase For Young People On A Threatened Planet $10 Trillion Annual Carbon Debt Increase For Young People On A Threatened Planet
Paul Craig Roberts, Can Putin's Diplomacy Prevail Over Washington's Coercion Can Putins Diplomacy Prevail Over Washingtons Coercion
Valerie Tarico, Do Most Christians Even Know the 10 Commandments Do Most Christians Even Know the 10 Commandments
Rene Wadlow, Iraq: What does one do with the broken pieces Iraq: What does one do with the broken pieces
Cliff Weathers, Big Fracking Victory: New York's Top Court Rules That Towns Have the Right to Ban Natural Gas Drilling Big Fracking Victory: New York's Top Court Rules That Towns Have the Right to Ban Natural Gas Drilling
Cliff Weathers, 40 Percent of Fracked Wells Projected to Fail, Says Study 40 Percent of Fracked Wells Projected to Fail, Says Study
Cliff Weathers, Your Kitchen Can Be a Planet Killer -- 8 Ways You Can Turn It Green Your Kitchen Can Be a Planet Killer -- 8 Ways You Can Turn It Green
CJ Werleman, How America's Biblical Ignorance Allows the Christian Right to Use 'Religious Freedom' For Its Own Agenda How America's Biblical Ignorance Allows the Christian Right to Use 'Religious Freedom' For Its Own Agenda
Gary Wockner, Does Fracking Violate My Religious Freedoms Does Fracking Violate My Religious Freedoms


Articles and papers from authors


Day data received Theme or issue Read article or paper
 July 13, 2014
25 Most Fragile States: Gifts From The Global System
by Farooque Chowdhury , Countercurrents

The world's 25 most fragile states have been identified.

The Foreign Policy magazine has released the annual ranking of the least-stable countries, now known as the Fragile State Index (FrSI). Up to last year, the name of the index was the Failed States Index (FaSI). The FaSI/FrSI is created by The Fund for Peace. It is claimed that the index, based on 12 metrics, puts countries into perspective by providing an annual snapshot of their vitality and stability (or lack thereof) and ranking them accordingly.

This year's unfortunate fragile states include [beginning from the bottom] Liberia in Africa that tied with Myanmar in Asia, Eritrea in the Horn of Africa, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia that tied with Niger, Kenya, Nigeria, Guinea Bissau, Syria, Cote D'Ivoire, Iraq, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Yemen, one of the poorest states in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Chad with the lowest life expectancy in the world, which is 49.44 years, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Somalia, and South Sudan, till now, the youngest state, and the most fragile state in the world.

A seemingly strange, but actually not strange, pattern emerges: Most of these countries are in Africa , a continent rich with resources. The continent is rich with creativity of women and man, and with minerals.

Nkrumah, while writing about the continent in his Neo-colonialism, The Last Stage of Imperialism , said: Africa is a paradox, which illustrates and highlights neo-colonialism. Her earth is rich, yet the products that come from above and below her soil continue to enrich, not African predominantly, but groups and individuals who operate to Africa 's impoverishment.

The revolutionary from Africa cited the continent's natural resources based on very inadequate surveys during the time the book was prepared: Immense, untapped wealth. It was, till that time, iron reserves: twice the size of America's, and two-thirds those of erstwhile the Soviet Union; coal reserves: enough to last for three hundred years; oil fields: being discovered and brought into production all over the continent; potential water power: more than 40 per cent of the world's total, a greater share than any other continent; arable and pasture land: more than in either the US, the Soviet Union, and Asia, despite the desert Sahara; forest areas: twice greater than that of the US.

Nkrumah writes: But her resources have been, and still are being used for the greater development of overseas interests. Although possessing fifty-three of the world's most important basic industrial minerals and metals, the African continent tails far behind all others in industrial development.

A long time has passed since the revolutionary penned his pains. A long time ago, Kwame Nkrumah and Patrice Lumumba have been sent to hell by the masters of the world. Yet, the scene has not changed significantly. Rather, it has worsened. The resources has brought in devastation.

Next in the cited list come the Asian countries. These countries are not also resource-poor.

And, geo-strategically, all the cited countries are in important geographical positions that include trade routes among other factors. A number of these countries are required for keeping control and eyes on others. Positioning of AFRICOM tells a lot.

The story of these failed states has a number of more or less common features:

Hunger, abject poverty and increasing disparity with elites indulging in rampant corruption, loot and luxury; civil and proxy wars, intervention and invasion; genocide; dispute, conflict and war with neighbors; no transition toward democracy of the people; bloody factional fight among the dominating elites and deadlocked politics of the elites; armed gangs; decades of military rule or dictatorial regime; oppressive regimes with barbaric, elaborate security machine; institutions for rule without legitimacy, distorted electoral process and miserably non-functioning government; murdering of all rights; development of non-development and uneven development of infrastructure; demographic pressure and burden of internally displaced citizens; higher infant mortality, pressing diseases and illiteracy, unemployment, lack of public services including electricity, water and sanitation; deteriorated environment; ethnic and sectarian conflict; and refugees.

These are not without root. The diseases are not without historical background. These curses have not cropped up overnight.

Long ago, capital conquered the continents, and the countries. In the countries, global capital is still reigning. Who can ignore the glorious colonial past and neo-colonial present phase of these countries Who can ignore the imperial hobby of defining and re-defining political borders of a number of these countries Who can ignore the benevolent and progressive role played by imperialist capital in these countries And, who can ignore the compradors constructed and sheltered by imperialist powers Are not these external masters and their internal orderlies involved with the great awakenings in the former colonies These have created today's failures.

The most powerful factor present in these societies/economies was imperialist intervention in forms ranging from conspiring with elite factions and patronizing armed gangs to direct military invasion and organizing proxy war. In these societies, multi-national corporations freely indulge in business ventures that include assassinations and murders, bribing and purchasing elites and bureaucracy, making institutions dysfunctional, arming gangs, fomenting violence and strife, propagating false ideas and concepts, and seeding sham hopes.

The fact mostly camouflaged is also related to imperialism: All these fragile states are part of the global system. These states are, as part of the Third World , in the group of countries which are still governed by the laws of the capitalist system. (Pierre Jalee, The Pillage of the Third World ) The world system has built up and nourished all these states. [I]t is the international division of labor characteristic of imperialism which perpetuates the underdevelopment of the backward nations of Asia , Africa and Latin America (Pierre Jalee, The Third World in World Economy ) All these states are tied up in the network of global capital.

Even, a part of capital engages in black marketing of resources in a number of these states while the capital propagates transparency, fair play, legitimacy, rule of law. And, for the purpose of black marketing, the part of the global capital patronizes armed gangs, and foments civil wars.

The target is simple: loot the valuable natural resources including minerals, secure paths for pipe line or trade route, gain foothold to complete the job, weaken the state that appears as an obstacle to perform the duty. As example, anyone can cite names of a number of countries in Africa . It will be difficult not to name a few Asian countries not entangled in the worldwide web.

These countries carry the curse of resources or, in other words, the curse of capital conquering the globe. The curse is strife and decay, destitution and bloodbath, plunder and stagnation.

The reality has not changed since Pierre wrote in 1968: Third World is stagnating or regressing. Political decolonization has done nothing to alter the system of pillage. (ibid.) The failing states are bearing the burden of this pillage, stagnation, economic colonization.

Amazing missing

Names of a few states are amazingly missing in the list. One can ask: what about a few Pacific small island states

The index fails to capture the state of these island states, victims of climate crisis. The crisis is vandalizing entire population, entire state machine, entire public services in these states. Doesn't the index take into account the climate factor that is making governance ungovernable, life unlivable, services extinct in these states Are not these states fragile

And, the climate crisis is fundamentally the gift of the global system that controls and governs, broadly, all the resources the planet possesses.

Undeniable fact

The report on FrSI mentions names of two states: the US and Singapore .

Performance of Singapore , one of the richest countries, worsened in its overall rating. Pollution, the origin is in neighboring Indonesia , was at record levels. The regimented city-state experienced a police-foreign workers clash in last December. It was the country's largest riots in more than four decades. On the surface, the source of the clash was an accident. But, under the surface, it was, as said, simmering resentment among some low-wage foreign laborers about perceived discrimination and poor working conditions. It's a complete capitalist style: low-wage, discrimination, poor working condition.

The rich state, a place of worship to a number of main stream economists, is still not fragile; but, it fails to ensure fairness to all, failure of a state. Incidents don't allow denying fact.

The tale of the state of the United States , in brief, is the NSA narration and recently-experienced debt-deadlock.

The political brinkmanship, as has been mentioned, that has defined Washington throughout Barack Obama's administration came to a head during the government shutdown in October 2013. It's increased factional fight.

It pushed the US to score worst on the Factionalized Elites indicator in the nine years that the country has been included in the index. In time of growing crises, factional fight among elite increases, and it takes its payment from the people.

The NSA-surveillance story shows the state of democracy in one of the advanced capitalist democracies: the United States of America .

The exposed collaboration with NSA shows the state of democracy in a few other capitalist democracies: the UK , Germany and rest of their cohorts including New Zealand .

The very structure of a country, as has been said, can be challenged by overwhelming events during the course of a year -- and the consequences inform not only the legitimacy of the state, but also the experiences of its citizens, often for decades to come. It's a serious statement.

The challenges lurking in home are actually bigger than the challenges the Empire is facing in the wider world of competition.

The people

Ultimately, it's the people that suffer as anarchy overshadows fragile states. They pay it as they get displaced, turn refugees, get killed, turn prey of genocide; as their honor is violated, houses are burned down to ashes, environment and ecology are defaced, opportunity for livelihood is quashed. It's the dominating interests' cruel joke: Take price from people as we settle self-accounts.

This has been said:

At its core, beneath the indicator scores and state-by-state rankings, the Fragile States Index is a measure of the livelihoods of real people. Security-force abuses and inadequate public services, for instance, are not simply inputs into a formula; they are parts of citizens' everyday reality.

The following question has been raised:

How is most of the world living

The answer has been provided:

It turns out, not so well. With Very High Alert' describing those nations that are the most fragile, Warning' describing those that fall in the middle, and Very Sustainable' as the most stable countries, a little over half of the index's populations live in the High Warning' group of states, while only 17 percent live in more stable nations. To look at the data another way, a little more than 83 percent live in Warning' nations or worse.

With so big a number of populations, isn't it a gift from the world system Then, people will ask: what to do with the system other than discarding

Farooque Chowdhury is Dhaka-based freelancer.

  Read 25 Most Fragile States: Gifts From The Global System
 June 25, 2014
Can Putins Diplomacy Prevail Over Washingtons Coercion
by Paul Craig Roberts, Countercurrents

June 24, 2014. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin is trying to save the world from war. We should all help him.

Today Putin’s presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov reported that President Putin has asked the Russian legislature to repeal the authorization to use force that was granted in order to protect residents of former Russian territories that are currently part of Ukraine from the rabid Russophobic violence that characterizes Washington’s stooge government in Kiev.

Washington’s neoconservatives are jubilant. They regard Putin’s diplomacy as a sign of weakness and fear, and urge stronger steps that will force Russia to give back Crimea and the Black Sea naval base.

Inside Russia, Washington is encouraging its NGO fifth columns to undercut Putin’s support with propaganda that Putin is afraid to stand up for Russians and has sold out Ukraine’s Russian population. If this propaganda gains traction, Putin will be distracted by street protests. The appearance of Putin’s domestic weakness would embolden Washington. Many members of Russia’s young professional class are swayed by Washington’s propaganda. Essentially, these Russians, brainwashed by US propaganda, are aligned with Washington, not with the Kremlin.

Putin has placed his future and that of his country on a bet that Russian diplomacy can prevail over Washington’s bribes, threats, blackmail, and coercion. Putin is appealing to Western Europeans. Putin is saying, “I am not the problem. Russia is not the problem. We are reasonable. We are ignoring Washington’s provocations. We want to work things out and to find a peaceful solution.”

Washington is saying: “Russia is a threat. Putin is the new Hitler. Russia is the enemy. NATO and the US must begin a military buildup against the Russian Threat, rush troops and jet fighters to Eastern European NATO bases on Russia’s frontier. G-8 meetings must be held without Russia. Economic sanctions must be put on Russia regardless of the damage the sanctions do to Europe.” And so forth.

Putin says: “I’m here for you. Let’s work this out.”

Washington says: “Russia is the enemy.”

Putin knows that the UK is a complete vassal puppet state, that Cameron is just as bought-and-paid-for as Blair before him. Putin’s hope for diplomacy over force rests on Germany and France. Both countries face Europe’s budget and employment woes, and both countries have significant economic relations with Russia. German business interests are a counterweight to the weak Merkel government’s subservience to Washington. Washington has stupidly angered the French by trying to steal $10 billion from France’s largest bank. This theft, if successful, will destroy France’s largest bank and deliver France to Wall Street.

If desire for national sovereignty still exists in the German or French governments, one or both could give the middle finger to Washington and publicly declare that they are unwilling for their country to be drawn into conflict with Russia for the sake of Washington’s Empire and the financial hegemony of American banks.

Putin is betting on this outcome. If his bet is a bad one and Europe fails not only Russia but itself and the rest of the world by accommodating Washington’s drive for world hegemony, Russia and China will have to submit to Washington’s hegemony or be prepared for war.

As neither side can afford to lose the war, the war would be nuclear. As scientists have made clear, life on earth would cease, regardless of whether Washington’s ABM shield works.

This is why I oppose Washington’s policies and speak out against the arrogance and hubris that define Washington today. The most likely outcome of Washington’s pursuit of world hegemony is the extinction of life on earth.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.

  Read Can Putins Diplomacy Prevail Over Washingtons Coercion
  July 7, 2014
Obama's Ukrainian "Afghan Trap" Plays Out
by Robert Barsocchini , Countercurrents

Just as the USA lied and said it was illegally invading Panama, Grenada, and other tiny, weak countries and barbarically massacring thousands of people to "protect US citizens", Russia lied and said it re-accepted Crimea into Russia to "protect Russian-speaking people". 

The real reason for re-accepting Crimea was military strategy: to secure one of Russia's twelve foreign military bases, the Black Sea fleet.  (Russia has twelve foreign bases; China has zero; the USA has approximately a thousand in its global  empire , the most of any group in history.)

Russia's Black Sea fleet was used as a piece on the chess board to help deter and prevent the USA from committing overt violent aggression to overthrow and conquer one of Russia's two Middle East allies, Syria (the other being Iran, though Maliki's Iraq government is a new contender thanks to US war crimes, including aggression and  genocide , against Iraq).

If protecting Russian-speaking people was the true top reason for re-accepting Crimea, then Russia would also staunchly and overtly support independence for Donetsk and Slavyansk, where civilians are being bombed by the fully US-backed, junta-integrated Ukrainian government's military and  neo-Nazi  paramilitaries, to which Obama has given full diplomatic and material support, including tens of millions of our dollars, after  assisting  in the neo-Nazi led overthrow of the elected government of Ukraine.  

Evidence illustrates that civilians are intentionally being targeted by US-backed Kiev.  Italian Journalist  Christian Malaparte :

I kept hearing about these things going on, that the Ukrainian army is targeting civilians and hitting civilian homes over and over. I really didn't believe it. I thought it was just East propaganda, but once I came hereI see these enormous apartment buildings in the centre just bombarded over and over again.

However, even if we believe that civilian areas are being targeted by US-backed Ukrainian terrorists because rebels might be there, it is still terrorism and war crimes.  No one thinks it is okay when Assad targets civilian areas because rebels might be there, even though Assad faces an aggressive and incomparably more brutal, US-backed threat, whereas Eastern Ukrainian regions are simply defending themselves.

Despite the  proof  of civilians and/or civilian areas being intentionally targeted by US-backed, Kiev-based terrorists, Russia has done very little, if anything, to support the "Russian speakers", anti-fascist protesters, and others in the East of Ukraine.

This is not because Putin cares about Russian speakers in Crimea but not Russian speakers a few miles away.  It is because of military strategy.

Putin and Russian leaders remember the USA's Afghan Trap, set by Jimmy Carter and continued by Reagan, which drained and collapsed the Soviet Union.

From  1979 , and possibly from the  mid 70s , the USA sponsored and trained Islamic jihadist terrorists, the Mujaheddin (holy warriors), and sent them into Afghanistan to commit terrorist atrocities against civilians and force the Soviet Union to invade the country to help its client government, under which Afghan women actually  had rights .

Here is National Security Adviser to Jimmy Carter,  Zbigniew Brzezinski , on the USA's sponsorship of terrorism, using Islamic jihadists, to provoke the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan:

According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.

That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap... The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire. 

In addition to training militants, the USA also propagandized Afghan children into lives of violent jihad by  printing violent jihadist literature  in the US and distributing it in Afghanistan to schoolchildren.

After many calls from Afghanistan for Soviet help against the US-sponsored terrorists, the Soviet Union finally invaded and fought a long, costly war against them that ultimately contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as the destruction of human and women's rights in Afghanistan, as the USA then  brought  its terrorist extremists into power in the form of the Taliban. 

Zbigniew Brzezinski is one of Obama's mentors, and a major, open proponent of aggression against Russia.

Obama  and the USA are currently repeating the Afghan Trap strategy in Ukraine, sponsoring  terrorism, ethnic cleansing, and at least near-genocide  there to do what Carter did and provoke Russia into invading and fighting a costly war that will weaken Russia and allow US propagandists to further demonize it and prepare the minds of the US population for new instances of US and Western aggression against Russia and, ultimately, as in Brzezinski's stated vision, the US-forced break-up of Russia into small parts that can be easily dominated by the US.

If Putin continues to distance himself from the Russian-speakers in Eastern Ukraine, as he has done publicly, he is also at risk of losing support within Russia, where he enjoys far higher popularity than Obama does in the US.  Putin's distancing is also good news for the US and US-funded banking organizations like the IMF, which vowed to cut its austerity-based funding for Ukraine if the gas-rich Eastern regions were not re-taken by the Western military so they could be exploited by Western fossil fuel companies. 

For crucial perspective, it must be noted that, contrary to what Western propaganda would have us believe, Eastern Ukraine has been integrated with Russia for hundreds of years as a defense against Western European imperialism, which (including its US offshoot) has been by far the most brutal and ruthless in dominating the globe:

In 1653 the greater portion of the population [of Ukraine] rebelled against dominantly Polish Catholic rule, and in January 1654 an assembly of the people (rada) voted at Pereyaslav to turn to Moscow, effectively joining the southeastern portion of the Polish-Lithuanian empire east of the  Dnieper River  to Russia. - Riasanovsky, Nicholas V. (1963). A History of Russia. Oxford University Press. p. 199.

Those are the exact regions that today have declared independence from the US-backed junta and Nazi-integrated terrorist forces in Western Ukraine.

Robert Barsocchini  is an historical researcher,  investigative journalist , and writer for the film industry.

  Read Obama's Ukrainian
 July 8, 2014
$10 Trillion Annual Carbon Debt Increase For Young People On A Threatened Planet
by Dr Gideon Polya , Countercurrents

Humanity and the Biosphere are increasingly threatened by man-made global warming but climate change inaction means that it may  soon be too late to act to prevent catastrophic  global warming. This climate change inaction is associated with a $10 trillion annual increase in the Carbon Debt for young people and future generations. Young people must urgently reclaim their future from the terracidal, climate criminal One Percenters who are destroying the planet.

NASA's Dr James Hansen (Adjunct Professor at 101-Nobel-Laureate Columbia University) has provided a nation-based breakdown of global responsibility for fossil fuel-derived CO2 pollution between 1751 and 2006 as a percentage (%) of the Historical Carbon  Debt (1751-2006) of 346 billion tonnes C  [1].

A  US dollar value can be placed on that Carbon Debt from the requisite Carbon Price for effective climate change action, and equivalent to  the actual damage caused, of $150 per tonne CO2 for the EU (and $250 per tonne CO2 for the US), as estimated by Dr Chris Hope from 90-Nobel-Laureate Cambridge University [2].

Thus  $150 per tonne CO2 x 346 billion tonnes C x 3.7 tonne CO2 per tonne C = $192 trillion or about 2.3 times the World's GDP.

Revised annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution is 64 billion tonnes CO2-e (CO2-equivalent, including other GHGs like methane, CH4) and thus Carbon Debt for future generations is increasing  globally each year by $150 per tonne CO2-e x 0.064 trillion tonnes CO2-e = $9.6 trillion i.e. by about $10 trillion annually.

Australia (population 24 million) is one of the worst annual per capita GHG polluters. Australia's annual Domestic plus Exported GHG pollution is about 2 billion tonnes CO2-e [3], this giving an Australian annual  per capita GHG pollution of 83 tonnes CO2-e per person per year as compared to the World average of 9 tonnes CO2-e per person per year and Bangladesh's 0.9 tonnes CO2-e per person per year [4].

However the pro-fossil fuels, pro-pollution, anti-science, effective climate change denialist Australian Coalition Government opposes a Carbon Tax and permits free, unlimited GHG pollution of the one common  atmosphere and ocean of all countries and all peoples at a Carbon Tax rate of $0 (zero) per tonne CO2-e. The similarly pro-coal, pro-gas and  neoliberal previous Australian Labor Government claimed before the September 2013 elections that it had terminated its $25 per tonne CO2-e Carbon Tax by fast-tracking to  an EU-compatible  Carbon Trading-based Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)  with a derisory Carbon Price of $6 per tonne CO2-e (it must be noted that numerous science-informed climate economists, climate scientists and climate activists variously argue that a transparent Carbon Tax is needed rather than  Carbon Trading, and that the ETS approach is empirically ineffective, accordingly counterproductive, susceptible to dodgy market manipulation, and inherently fraudulent  through particular governments selling licence to pollute the one common atmosphere and ocean of all peoples and all countries) [5].

Accordingly, the Australian Coalition Government's climate change inaction is running up a Carbon Debt of $150 per tonne CO2-e x 2 billion tonnes CO2-e per year = $300 billion per year to be paid by future generations. This is not just climate criminality but also climate injustice and intergenerational injustice [6].

Young Australians and all those who care for young people, future generations, Humanity, and the Biosphere  will utterly reject the egregious theft and mendacity of the neoliberal Australian Coalition Government,  vote 1 Green and put the Coalition last. Indeed the World will not indefinitely tolerate Australia 's ecocidal, terracidal, climate genocidal, dog-in-the-manger greed.

This is intolerably gargantuan  intergenerational wealth transfer, climate injustice,  and intergenerational inequity [6] on top of the realities  that the politically dominant  One Percenters collectively own about half the wealth of the world [7] and that this inequity is linked to 17 million avoidable deaths from deprivation each year [8].

Until the last century the atmospheric  CO2 concentration  had been no higher than about 300 parts per million (ppm) for about 1 million years [3].  Many climate scientists, biological scientists  and science-informed climate activists say that for a safe planet for all peoples and all species we must urgently return atmospheric CO2 to 300 ppm CO2 from the current damaging and dangerous 400 ppm CO2 [9].  With  700 billion tonnes  of CO2 in the atmosphere, returning the  atmospheric CO2 concentration to 300 ppm  from the current 400 ppm involves removing 0.25 x 700 = 175 billion tonnes CO2 from the atmosphere.

Such reversal of atmospheric CO2 concentration to circa 300 ppm CO2 can be achieved through CO2 sequestration  as cellulose (through re-afforestation and photosynthesis), biochar (through anaerobic pyrolysis of cellulosic waste) and bicarbonate (through accelerated weathering of limestone), coupled necessarily  with 100% renewable energy and geothermal energy  [10] and cessation of population growth, deforestation and GHG pollution from industry, transport and agriculture [11].  

The cost of returning to 300 ppm CO2 via removal of 175 billion tonnes of CO2 as  biochar is of the order of scores of billions of dollars (difficult but possible) but dire predictions from Professor  Peter Wadhams from 90-Nobel-Laureate Cambridge University of the impending release of 50 billion tonnes of CH4  from the Arctic sea bed in coming decades in the absence of effective climate change action (5,250 billion tonnes of CO2-e assuming a global warming potential for CH4 105 times that of CO2 on a 20 year time frame and considering aerosol impacts) makes the task of saving the planet apparently well-nigh impossible [3, 12].

With a global Carbon Debt increasing at about $10 trillion annually and the looming prospect that within decades it may become too late to save the planet, young people  (and those who care for them)  should be as mad as hell and shouldn't take it any more.  

For focussed, inclusive, climate  activism  I advocate an ABC strategy (akin to that successfully employed for other isms from Humanism to Socialism) involving Accountability (by holding the terracidal climate criminals accountable at the ballot box, in public life in general,  and through Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) applied to all people, politicians, parties, companies, corporations and countries complicit in catastrophic climate change [13]), a Badge (wear a messaging badge e.g. 300 ppm CO2 indicating the safe target for atmospheric CO2 reduction), and a Credo ( a concise statement of position e.g. for a safe and sustainable planet for all peoples and all species we must urgently return atmospheric CO2 from the present dangerous and damaging 400 ppm CO2 to a safe and sustainable 300 ppm CO2) [14].  

  Read $10 Trillion Annual Carbon Debt Increase For Young People On A Threatened Planet
 July 9, 2014
Our 21st Century Energy Wars
by Michael T. Klare , TomDispatch.com, Countercurrents

Global conflicts are increasingly fueled by the desire for oil and natural gas––and the funds they generate

Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, South Sudan, Ukraine, the East and South China Seas: wherever you look, the world is aflame with new or intensifying conflicts. At first glance, these upheavals appear to be independent events, driven by their own unique and idiosyncratic circumstances. But look more closely and they share several key characteristics -- notably, a witch’s brew of ethnic, religious, and national antagonisms that have been stirred to the boiling point by a fixation on energy.

In each of these conflicts, the fighting is driven in large part by the eruption of long-standing historic antagonisms among neighboring (often intermingled) tribes, sects, and peoples. In Iraq and Syria, it is a clash among Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, Turkmen, and others; in Nigeria, among Muslims, Christians, and assorted tribal groupings; in South Sudan, between the Dinka and Nuer; in Ukraine, between Ukrainian loyalists and Russian-speakers aligned with Moscow; in the East and South China Sea, among the Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipinos, and others. It would be easy to attribute all this to age-old hatreds, as suggested by many analysts; but while such hostilities do help drive these conflicts, they are fueled by a most modern impulse as well: the desire to control valuable oil and natural gas assets. Make no mistake about it, these are twenty-first-century energy wars.

It should surprise no one that energy plays such a significant role in these conflicts. Oil and gas are, after all, the world’s most important and valuable commodities and constitute a major source of income for the governments and corporations that control their production and distribution. Indeed, the governments of Iraq, Nigeria, Russia, South Sudan, and Syria derive the great bulk of their revenues from oil sales, while the major energy firms (many state-owned) exercise immense power in these and the other countries involved. Whoever controls these states, or the oil- and gas-producing areas within them, also controls the collection and allocation of crucial revenues. Despite the patina of historical enmities, many of these conflicts, then, are really struggles for control over the principal source of national income.

Moreover, we live in an energy-centric world where control over oil and gas resources (and their means of delivery) translates into geopolitical clout for some and economic vulnerability for others. Because so many countries are dependent on energy imports, nations with surpluses to export -- including Iraq, Nigeria, Russia, and South Sudan -- often exercise disproportionate influence on the world stage. What happens in these countries sometimes matters as much to the rest of us as to the people living in them, and so the risk of external involvement in their conflicts -- whether in the form of direct intervention, arms transfers, the sending in of military advisers, or economic assistance -- is greater than almost anywhere else.

The struggle over energy resources has been a conspicuous factor in many recent conflicts, including the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988, the Gulf War of 1990-1991, and the Sudanese Civil War of 1983-2005. On first glance, the fossil-fuel factor in the most recent outbreaks of tension and fighting may seem less evident. But look more closely and you’ll see that each of these conflicts is, at heart, an energy war.

Iraq, Syria, and ISIS

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Sunni extremist group that controls large chunks of western Syria and northern Iraq, is a well-armed militia intent on creating an Islamic caliphate in the areas it controls. In some respects, it is a fanatical, sectarian religious organization, seeking to reproduce the pure, uncorrupted piety of the early Islamic era. At the same time, it is engaged in a conventional nation-building project, seeking to create a fully functioning state with all its attributes.

As the United States learned to its dismay in Iraq and Afghanistan, nation-building is expensive: institutions must be created and financed, armies recruited and paid, weapons and fuel procured, and infrastructure maintained. Without oil (or some other lucrative source of income), ISIS could never hope to accomplish its ambitious goals. However, as it now occupies key oil-producing areas of Syria and oil-refining facilities in Iraq, it is in a unique position to do so. Oil, then, is absolutely essential to the organization’s grand strategy.

Syria was never a major oil producer, but its prewar production of some 400,000 barrels per day did provide the regime of Bashar al-Assad with a major source of income. Now, most of the country’s oil fields are under the control of rebel groups, including ISIS, the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, and local Kurdish militias. Although production from the fields has dropped significantly, enough is being extracted and sold through various clandestine channels to provide the rebels with income and operating funds. “Syria is an oil country and has resources, but in the past they were all stolen by the regime,” said Abu Nizar, an anti-government activist. “Now they are being stolen by those who are profiting from the revolution.”

At first, many rebel groups were involved in these extractive activities, but since January, when it assumed control of Raqqa, the capital of the province of that name, ISIS has been the dominant player in the oil fields. In addition, it has seized fields in neighboring Deir al-Zour Province along the Iraq border. Indeed, many of the U.S.-supplied weapons it acquired from the fleeing Iraqi army after its recent drive into Mosul and other northern Iraqi cities have been moved into Deir al-Zour to help in the organization’s campaign to take full control of the region. In Iraq, ISIS is fighting to gain control over Iraq’s largest refinery at Baiji in the central part of the country.

It appears that ISIS sells oil from the fields it controls to shadowy middlemen who in turn arrange for its transport -- mostly by tanker trucks -- to buyers in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. These sales are said to provide the organization with the funds needed to pay its troops and acquire its vast stockpiles of arms and ammunition. Many observers also claim that ISIS is selling oil to the Assad regime in return for immunity from government air strikes of the sort being launched against other rebel groups. “Many locals in Raqqa accuse ISIS of collaborating with the Syrian regime,” a Kurdish journalist, Sirwan Kajjo, reported in early June. “Locals say that while other rebel groups in Raqqa have been under attack by regime air strikes on a regular basis, ISIS headquarters have not once been attacked.”

However the present fighting in northern Iraq plays out, it is obvious that there, too, oil is a central factor. ISIS seeks both to deny petroleum supplies and oil revenue to the Baghdad government and to bolster its own coffers, enhancing its capacity for nation-building and further military advances. At the same time, the Kurds and various Sunni tribes -- some allied with ISIS -- want control over oil fields located in the areas under their control and a greater share of the nation’s oil wealth.

Ukraine, the Crimea, and Russia

The present crisis in Ukraine began in November 2013 when President Viktor Yanukovych repudiated an agreement for closer economic and political ties with the European Union (EU), opting instead for closer ties with Russia. That act touched off fierce anti-government protests in Kiev and eventually led to Yanukovych’s flight from the capital. With Moscow’s principal ally pushed from the scene and pro-EU forces in control of the capital, Russian President Vladimir Putin moved to seize control of the Crimea and foment a separatist drive in eastern Ukraine. For both sides, the resulting struggle has been about political legitimacy and national identity -- but as in other recent conflicts, it has also been about energy.

Ukraine is not itself a significant energy producer. It is, however, a major transit route for the delivery of Russian natural gas to Europe. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Europe obtained 30% of its gas from Russia in 2013 -- most of it from the state-controlled gas giant Gazprom -- and approximately half of this was transported by pipelines crossing Ukraine. As a result, that country plays a critical role in the complex energy relationship between Europe and Russia, one that has proved incredibly lucrative for the shadowy elites and oligarchs who control the flow of gas, whille at the same time provoking intense controversy. Disputes over the price Ukraine pays for its own imports of Russian gas twice provoked a cutoff in deliveries by Gazprom, leading to diminished supplies in Europe as well.

Given this background, it is not surprising that a key objective of the “association agreement” between the EU and Ukraine that was repudiated by Yanukovych (and has now been signed by the new Ukrainian government) calls for the extension of EU energy rules to Ukraine’s energy system -- essentially eliminating the cozy deals between Ukrainian elites and Gazprom. By entering into the agreement, EU officials claim, Ukraine will begin “a process of approximating its energy legislation to the EU norms and standards, thus facilitating internal market reforms.”

Russian leaders have many reasons to despise the association agreement. For one thing, it will move Ukraine, a country on its border, into a closer political and economic embrace with the West. Of special concern, however, are the provisions about energy, given Russia’s economic reliance on gas sales to Europe -- not to mention the threat they pose to the personal fortunes of well-connected Russian elites. In late 2013 Yanukovych came under immense pressure from Vladimir Putin to turn his back on the EU and agree instead to an economic union with Russia and Belarus, an arrangement that would have protected the privileged status of elites in both countries. However, by moving in this direction, Yanukovych put a bright spotlight on the crony politics that had long plagued Ukraine’s energy system, thereby triggering protests in Kiev’s Independence Square (the Maidan) -- that led to his downfall.

Once the protests began, a cascade of events led to the current standoff, with the Crimea in Russian hands, large parts of the east under the control of pro-Russian separatists, and the rump western areas moving ever closer to the EU. In this ongoing struggle, identity politics has come to play a prominent role, with leaders on all sides appealing to national and ethnic loyalties. Energy, nevertheless, remains a major factor in the equation. Gazprom has repeatedly raised the price it charges Ukraine for its imports of natural gas, and on June 16th cut off its supply entirely, claiming non-payment for past deliveries. A day later, an explosion damaged one of the main pipelines carrying Russian gas to Ukraine -- an event still being investigated. Negotiations over the gas price remain a major issue in the ongoing negotiations between Ukraine’s newly elected president, Petro Poroshenko, and Vladimir Putin.

Energy also played a key role in Russia’s determination to take the Crimea by military means. By annexing that region, Russia virtually doubled the offshore territory it controls in the Black Sea, which is thought to house billions of barrels of oil and vast reserves of natural gas. Prior to the crisis, several Western oil firms, including ExxonMobil, were negotiating with Ukraine for access to those reserves. Now, they will be negotiating with Moscow. “It’s a big deal,” said Carol Saivetz, a Eurasian expert at MIT. “It deprives Ukraine of the possibility of developing these resources and gives them to Russia.”

Nigeria and South Sudan

The conflicts in South Sudan and Nigeria are distinctive in many respects, yet both share a key common factor: widespread anger and distrust towards government officials who have become wealthy, corrupt, and autocratic thanks to access to abundant oil revenues.

In Nigeria, the insurgent group Boko Haram is fighting to overthrow the existing political system and establish a puritanical, Muslim-ruled state. Although most Nigerians decry the group’s violent methods (including the kidnapping of hundreds of teenage girls from a state-run school), it has drawn strength from disgust in the poverty-stricken northern part of the country with the corruption-riddled central government in distant Abuja, the capital.

Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa, pumping out some 2.5 million barrels per day. With oil selling at around $100 per barrel, this represents a potentially staggering source of wealth for the nation, even after the private companies involved in the day-to-day extractive operations take their share. Were these revenues -- estimated in the tens of billions of dollars per year -- used to spur development and improve the lot of the population, Nigeria could be a great beacon of hope for Africa. Instead, much of the money disappears into the pockets (and foreign bank accounts) of Nigeria’s well-connected elites.

In February, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi, told a parliamentary investigating committee that the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had failed to transfer some $20 billion in proceeds from oil sales to the national treasury, as required by law. It had all evidently been diverted to private accounts. “A substantial amount of money has gone,” he told the New York Times. “I wasn’t just talking about numbers. I showed it was a scam.”

For many Nigerians -- a majority of whom subsist on less than $2 per day -- the corruption in Abuja, when combined with the wanton brutality of the government’s security forces, is a source of abiding anger and resentment, generating recruits for insurgent groups like Boko Haram and winning them begrudging admiration. “They know well the frustration that would drive someone to take up arms against the state,” said National Geographic reporter James Verini of people he interviewed in battle-scarred areas of northern Nigeria. At this stage, the government has displayed zero capacity to overcome the insurgency, while its ineptitude and heavy-handed military tactics have only further alienated ordinary Nigerians.

The conflict in South Sudan has different roots, but shares a common link to energy. Indeed, the very formation of South Sudan is a product of oil politics. A civil war in Sudan that lasted from 1955 to 1972 only ended when the Muslim-dominated government in the north agreed to grant more autonomy to the peoples of the southern part of the country, largely practitioners of traditional African religions or Christianity. However, when oil was discovered in the south, the rulers of northern Sudan repudiated many of their earlier promises and sought to gain control over the oil fields, sparking a second civil war, which lasted from 1983 to 2005. An estimated two million people lost their lives in this round of fighting. In the end, the south was granted full autonomy and the right to vote on secession. Following a January 2011 referendum in which 98.8% of southerners voted to secede, the country became independent on that July 9th.

The new state had barely been established, however, when conflict with the north over its oil resumed. While South Sudan has a plethora of oil, the only pipeline allowing the country to export its energy stretches across North Sudan to the Red Sea. This ensured that the south would be dependent on the north for the major source of government revenues. Furious at the loss of the fields, the northerners charged excessively high rates for transporting the oil, precipitating a cutoff in oil deliveries by the south and sporadic violence along the two countries’ still-disputed border. Finally, in August 2012, the two sides agreed to a formula for sharing the wealth and the flow of oil resumed. Fighting has, however, continued in certain border areas controlled by the north but populated by groups linked to the south.

With the flow of oil income assured, the leader of South Sudan, President Salva Kiir, sought to consolidate his control over the country and all those oil revenues. Claiming an imminent coup attempt by his rivals, led by Vice President Riek Machar, he disbanded his multiethnic government on July 24, 2013, and began arresting allies of Machar. The resulting power struggle quickly turned into an ethnic civil war, with the kin of President Kiir, a Dinka, battling members of the Nuer group, of which Machar is a member. Despite several attempts to negotiate a cease-fire, fighting has been under way since December, with thousands of people killed and hundreds of thousands forced to flee their homes.

As in Syria and Iraq, much of the fighting in South Sudan has centered around the vital oil fields, with both sides determined to control them and collect the revenues they generate. As of March, while still under government control, the Paloch field in Upper Nile State was producing some 150,000 barrels a day, worth about $15 million to the government and participating oil companies. The rebel forces, led by former Vice President Machar, are trying to seize those fields to deny this revenue to the government. “The presence of forces loyal to Salva Kiir in Paloch, to buy more arms to kill our people... is not acceptable to us,” Machar said in April. “We want to take control of the oil field. It’s our oil.” As of now, the field remains in government hands, with rebel forces reportedly making gains in the vicinity.

The South China Sea

In both the East China and South China seas, China and its neighbors claim assorted atolls and islands that sit astride vast undersea oil and gas reserves. The waters of both have been the site of recurring naval clashes over the past few years, with the South China Sea recently grabbing the spotlight.

An energy-rich offshoot of the western Pacific, that sea, long a focus of contention, is rimmed by China, Vietnam, the island of Borneo, and the Philippine Islands. Tensions peaked in May when the Chinese deployed their largest deepwater drilling rig, the HD-981, in waters claimed by Vietnam. Once in the drilling area, about 120 nautical miles off the coast of Vietnam, the Chinese surrounded the HD-981 with a large flotilla of navy and coast guard ships. When Vietnamese coast guard vessels attempted to penetrate this defensive ring in an effort to drive off the rig, they were rammed by Chinese ships and pummeled by water cannon. No lives have yet been lost in these encounters, but anti-Chinese rioting in Vietnam in response to the sea-borne encroachment left several dead and the clashes at sea are expected to continue for several months until the Chinese move the rig to another (possibly equally contested) location.

The riots and clashes sparked by the deployment of HD-981 have been driven in large part by nationalism and resentment over past humiliations. The Chinese, insisting that various tiny islands in the South China Sea were once ruled by their country, still seek to overcome the territorial losses and humiliations they suffered at the hands the Western powers and Imperial Japan. The Vietnamese, long accustomed to Chinese invasions, seek to protect what they view as their sovereign territory. For common citizens in both countries, demonstrating resolve in the dispute is a matter of national pride.

But to view the Chinese drive in the South China Sea as a simple matter of nationalistic impulses would be a mistake. The owner of HD-981, the China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), has conducted extensive seismic testing in the disputed area and evidently believes there is a large reservoir of energy there. “The South China Sea is estimated to have 23 billion tons to 30 billion tons of oil and 16 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, accounting for one-third of China's total oil and gas resources,” the Chinese news agency Xinhua noted. Moreover, China announced in June that it was deploying a second drilling rig to the contested waters of the South China Sea, this time at the mouth of the Gulf of Tonkin.

As the world’s biggest consumer of energy, China is desperate to acquire fresh fossil fuel supplies wherever it can. Although its leaders are prepared to make increasingly large purchases of African, Russian, and Middle Eastern oil and gas to satisfy the nation’s growing energy requirements, they not surprisingly prefer to develop and exploit domestic supplies. For them, the South China Sea is not a “foreign” source of energy but a Chinese one, and they appear determined to use whatever means necessary to secure it. Because other countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines, also seek to exploit these oil and gas reserves, further clashes, at increasing levels of violence, seem almost inevitable.

No End to Fighting

As these conflicts and others like them suggest, fighting for control over key energy assets or the distribution of oil revenues is a critical factor in most contemporary warfare. While ethnic and religious divisions may provide the political and ideological fuel for these battles, it is the potential for mammoth oil profits that keeps the struggles alive. Without the promise of such resources, many of these conflicts would eventually die out for lack of funds to buy arms and pay troops. So long as the oil keeps flowing, however, the belligerents have both the means and incentive to keep fighting.

In a fossil-fuel world, control over oil and gas reserves is an essential component of national power. “Oil fuels more than automobiles and airplanes,” Robert Ebel of the Center for Strategic and International Studies told a State Department audience in 2002. “Oil fuels military power, national treasuries, and international politics.” Far more than an ordinary trade commodity, “it is a determinant of well being, of national security, and international power for those who possess this vital resource, and the converse for those who do not.”

If anything, that’s even truer today, and as energy wars expand, the truth of this will only become more evident. Someday, perhaps, the development of renewable sources of energy may invalidate this dictum. But in our present world, if you see a conflict developing, look for the energy. It’ll be there somewhere on this fossil-fueled planet of ours.

Michael T. Klare is the Five College Professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. His newest book, The Race for What's Left: The Global Scramble for the World's Last Resources, has just recently been published. His other books include: Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy and Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum. A documentary version of that book is available from the Media Education Foundation.

  Read Our 21st Century Energy Wars
 July 9, 2014
The Giant Methane Monster Is Lurking
by Thom Hartmann, EcoWatch, Countercurrents

We have a chance right now to keep the giant methane monster
that's lurking under the Arctic Ocean right where it is,
and save our planet in the process. Photo credit: Shutterstock

There's something lurking deep under the frozen Arctic Ocean , and if it gets released, it could spell disaster for our planet.

That something is methane.

Methane is one of the strongest of the natural greenhouse gases, about 80 times more potent than CO2, and while it may not get as much attention as its cousin CO2, it certainly can do as much, if not more, damage to our planet.

That's because methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and there are trillions of tons of it embedded in a kind of ice slurry called methane hydrate or methane clathrate crystals in the Arctic and in the seas around the continental shelves all around the world.

If enough of this methane is released quickly enough, it won't just produce the same old global warming.

It could produce an extinction of species on a wide scale, an extinction that could even include the human race.

If there is a ticking time bomb on our planet that could lead to a global warming so rapid and sudden that we would have no way of dealing with it, it's methane.

Right now, estimates suggest that there's more than 1,000 gigatons that's a thousand billion tons of carbon in methane form trapped just under the Arctic ice. And if stays trapped under the ice, we might have a chance.

But, thanks to the global warming that's already occurring, Arctic sea ice is melting at unprecedented rates.

In fact, as Gaius Publius points out over at America Blog, just about every reputable projection on the loss of Arctic sea ice has been wrong in a very, very bad way.

The lack of sea ice cover in the Arctic that we're seeing today wasn't supposed to happen for 20+ more years according to 13 of the most accurate models.

As all that sea ice melts, the Arctic ice which once reflected sunlight and prevented global warming, becomes a very blue ocean that absorbs heat and causes even more melting.

And this all means that more and more methane is being released into the atmosphere much faster than expected, speeding up the process of global warming and climate change.

It's all one big and vicious cycle, called a positive feedback loop, something that can spiral out of balance and control very quickly.

But here's where it gets really scary.

Researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center have found that Arctic methane is leaking out from the ocean floor nearly twice as fast as was previously thought.

The researchers found that the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is releasing at least 17 million tons of methane into the atmosphere each year.

Natalia Shakhova, one of the lead researchers on the study, said methane releases from the Arctic seafloor are, now on par with the methane being released from the arctic tundra, which is considered to be one of the major sources of methane in the Northern Hemisphere.

To put this in perspective, just seven years ago, estimates suggested that only 500,000 tons of methane were being released into Earth's atmosphere each year. Now we're measuring 17 million tons of it. Just in the Arctic .

Now, we can't directly stop Arctic sea ice from melting and releasing methane into the atmosphere, but we can help stop what's contributing to that melting in the first place: fossil fuel extraction.

Every day, the fossil fuel industry extracts more and more fossil fuels from the ground, releasing tons and tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

That carbon dioxide warms our atmosphere, which hastens the melting of Arctic sea ice, and the release of even more dangerous methane into our atmosphere.

We need to be keeping the remaining methane right where it is, buried deep under a thick sheet of ice.

And a great way to accomplish that goal is by introducing a carbon tax.

Putting a price on the amount of carbon that the fossil fuel industry takes out of the ground would encourage less fossil fuel extraction, and more reliance on clean and green energy.

With a carbon tax, fossil fuels would become more expensive than renewables.

For every day that America 's fossil fuel industry pumps carbon pollution into our skies, our environment is deteriorating quicker, more and more Arctic sea ice is melting, and climate change and global warming are speeding up.

We have a chance right now to keep the giant methane monster that's lurking under the Arctic Ocean right where it is, and save our planet in the process.

The time for a carbon tax in America is now!

  Read  The Giant Methane Monster Is Lurking
 July 12, 2014
US-Europe Trade Deal: Corporate Power Grab
by Megan Darby , RTCC, Countercurrents

Activists fear relaxation of trade rules could lead to more fracking

Protest is ramping up against a transatlantic trade treaty critics say could weaken environmental protection.

The Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership is intended to boost commerce between Europe and the US , by cutting tariffs and aligning regulations.

Green groups on both sides of the ocean have expressed fears this could mean watering down environmental safeguards and increasing fossil fuel consumption.

A national day of action is planned for today [Saturday 12 July] in the UK to highlight concerns with the TTIP ahead of further negotiations in Brussels next week. This will include a protest outside the business department building in London .

The UK Green Party, which supports the protests, said the TTIP was a corporate power grab that must be stopped.

Keith Taylor MEP said: Though huge chunks of this trade deal are shrouded in secrecy what we do know is that TTIP poses a very real threat to the quality of life of people in the UK .

This deal, favored by multinationals, threatens to slash regulations that protect our environment and health. But, most worryingly, it represents a serious threat to democracy in our country.

It follows an anti-TTIP demonstration in Brussels two months ago that resulted in 240 arrests.

Climate impact

One concern of greens is that loosening regulations could increase oil and gas exports from America , increasing European reliance on polluting fossil fuels.

A European position paper leaked earlier this week endorsed lifting restrictions on trade in gas and crude oil. It argued this would help with security of supply, an increasingly hot topic since tensions in the Ukraine highlighted Europe 's heavy dependence on Russian gas.

Natacha Cingotti, campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: This leaked proposal further confirms our concerns that, while the public is being kept in the dark, the EU-US trade deal is being used to trade away regulations that protect us from dangerous climate change

Europe needs to end its high import dependency and make an urgent transition to clean, renewable energy and greater energy efficiency.

US grassroots environmental network the Sierra Club also raised concerns. Ilana Solomon, director of its responsible trade program, said: The EU wants a free pass to import dirty fossil fuels from the US , a run-around US law that would result in more dangerous fracking for oil and gas in our backyards and more climate-disrupting pollution globally.

Steve Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International, called the proposals climate denial, pure and simple. German-based Power Shift executive director Peter Fuchs said communities and the environment would suffer.

German think-tank the Heinrich Boll Foundation, in contrast, said in a report the treaty presented an opportunity to phase out fossil fuel subsidies [FFS]. That would benefit low carbon sectors.

In principle, the European Commission has argued, increased economic cooperation should facilitate greater climate and environmental protection.

In practice, the think-tank pointed out a 2013 impact assessment from Brussels predicted an 11.8 million tonne increase in carbon emissions, in the most liberalized scenario.

The report added: In the absence of FFS reform, the TTIP will be a step in the wrong direction.

Precautionary principle

The other core concern for European environmentalists is the treaty could erode the precautionary principle. This is the tenet, long held in Europe , that an action or policy must be proved not harmful before it goes ahead.

In America , on the other hand, it must normally be proved something is harmful before it can be banned.

The philosophical divide is one reason that shale gas fracking has been slower to take off in Europe than the US , for example.

Blogging for the European Greens' campaigning website against TTIP, MEP Jose Bove said: Under TTIP, big business is teaming up on both sides of the Atlantic to challenge the precautionary principal, claiming it creates unnecessary technical barriers to trade'. We are fundamentally against this dangerous assumption.

If anything, we need to do more in the EU to safeguard our citizens and our environment from untested or risky substances or processes.

The European Commission acknowledges the different approaches on its TTIP website, but insists the high level of environmental protection in Europe is non-negotiable.

Both the EU and the US are committed to high levels of protection for our citizens, but we go about it in different ways. The EU sometimes relies more on regulations, the US more on litigation. Both approaches can be effective, but neither is perfect, it says.

This is not a race to the bottom.  Making our regulations more compatible does not mean going for the lowest common denominator, but rather seeing where we diverge unnecessarily.


Protestors' concerns around the treaty have been compounded by a perceived lack of transparency around the negotiations, which are led by unelected officials.

The Corporate Europe Observatory accused the European Commission of favoring big business in its consultations around the treaty. It found that of the 560 lobbyist meetings and communications the Commission had with stakeholders, 92% were with business and just 4% with public interest groups.

Pia Eberhardt, trade campaigner at the Corporate Europe Observatory, said: [The trade directorate] actively involved business lobbyists in drawing up the EU position for TTIP while keeping pesky' trade unionists and other public interest groups at bay.

The result is a big-business-first agenda for the negotiations which endangers many achievements that people in Europe have long struggled for, from food safety rules to environmental protection.

A European Court of Justice ruling last week could result in more TTIP documents being made public, but a lawyer told Euractiv it was a modest step forward.

The sixth round of negotiations on TTIP takes place in Brussels from 14 to 18 July.

  Read  US-Europe Trade Deal: Corporate Power Grab
  June 25, 2014
Why Do Right-Wing Christians Think 'Religious Freedom' Means Forcing Their Faith on You
by Amanda Marcotte , AlterNet

Religious freedom is one of the most fundamental American values, written directly into the First Amendment of the Constitution. Of course, true religious freedom requires a secular society, where government stays out of the religion game and leaves it strictly to individual conscience, a standard that runs directly against the modern conservative insistence that America is and should be a Christian nation. So what are people who claim to be patriots standing up for American values to do Increasingly, the solution on the right is to redefine religious freedom so that it means, well, its exact opposite. Religious freedom has turned into conservative code for imposing the Christian faith on the non-believers.

While it seems like a leap even for the most delusional conservatives to believe that their religious freedom can only be protected by giving Christians broad power to force their faith on others, a new report from the People For the American Way shows how the narrative is constructed. The report shows that Christian conservative circles have become awash in legends of being persecuted for their faith, stories that invariably turn out to be nonsense but that serve to bolster a larger story, that of a majority religious group in American society becoming a persecuted minority, driven underground in its own country. This sense of persecution, in turn, gives them justification to push their actual agenda of religious repression under the guise that theyre just protecting themselves.

The most obvious and persistent example of this is the issue of creationism in the classroom. Clearly, teaching creationism in a biology classroom is a straightforward violation of the First Amendment, a direct attempt to use taxpayer money to foist a very specific religious teaching on captive students. So what the right does is reframe the issue, arguing that teaching evolutionary theory is a form of religious oppression, a direct attack on the beliefs of fundamentalists in the classroom. This is pure hooey, of course, since evolutionary theory is not a religion but a scientific reality, and teaching science as science is no more a violation of religious freedom than teaching kids to that cat rhymes with hat is an imposition of religion. But once theyve convinced themselves that learning science in the science classroom is religious persecution, it becomes easier to convince yourself that its okay to fight back by forcing your actual religion on everyone else.

You can see this play out in the legends that PFAW details out. Do Christian conservatives want to force their religious hostility to gays onto the military Tell a lie about how a sergeant was persecuted for simply holding that religious belief to paint yourself as the real victim. Want to justify forcing non-believing kids to pray to your god in school Tell lies about how kids are being punished for having private prayers all to themselves. Want to force people in the VA hospital to sing your religious songs and worship your god Spread a false tale claiming that people arent allowed private ownership of religious cards. Tell enough of these stories and people on the right can convince themselves the only way they can protect their own right to worship is to force their religious practice on everyone else.

You can see how this kind of logic swept over the Becket Fund, a legal institution that was initially set up to protect the individual right to religious freedom. As chronicled by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux at The American Prospect, the Becket Fund started off doing easily defensible work protecting people who wanted to express their religious beliefs in personal ways that are not coercive to others, such as protecting prisoners who wanted to have religious tchotchkes or workers who wanted to maintain religious hairstyles at work.

But the Becket Funds latest high profile case is an outright attack on religious freedom, in a case that will soon be decided by the Supreme Court. The Becket Fund is defending the Green family that owns Hobby Lobby in their desire to impose their religious beliefs about contraception on employees, by denying employees the right to use their own insurance benefits on contraception. The idea that it could ever be religious freedom to tell an employee that her private use of her own compensation package should be constrained by her boss's religious beliefs should be laughable. But thats the logic of the modern Christian right that holds that the only way to protect their own religious belief is to start forcing it on others.

Of course, this kind of logic inevitably starts to crumble when people who dont share the conservative Christian religion start pushing back and arguing that their right to their own private beliefs should not be infringed by being made to pray to someone elses god in school, being taught Bible stories in biology class, or being forced to check with the boss first before you pick up your prescription medications after hours. The solution, increasingly, is to outright argue that non-believers or people of different faiths have beliefs that are simply less worthy of basic protections for religious freedom, much less the hyper-charged religious freedom of imposing your faith on others, the kind of religious freedom conservative Christians believe theyre entitled to.

Take, for instance, Jody Hice, a Republican candidate for a U.S. House seat from Georgia. Hice has a novel solution to the problem of the religious rights of Muslims being infringed upon when they are subject to having religion imposed on them by Christians: Simply deny that Islam is a religion and therefore deny that its followers enjoy freedom of religion. Although Islam has a religious component, it is much more than a simple religious ideology, he wrote in his 2012 book Its Now Or Never. It is a complete geo-political structure and, as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection.

Its a dumb statement on two levels. One, its plainly obvious that Islam is a religion and therefore people who believe in it are absolutely guaranteed their actual freedom to worship how they please. (Though perhaps Hice is worried that Muslims will decide to adopt the Christian conservative definition of religious freedom and start demanding that you cant eat pork and you have to pray five times a day.) But even if someone doesnt have a religion doesnt mean that they lose their basic right to decide for themselves what to believe. Atheists do not have a religion, but its just as wrong to force atheists to pray to your god as it would be to do so to a Muslim.

Sadly, this argument that the Christian right to religious freedom includes the right to foist their faith on others has made the leap to the Supreme Court, with Justice Scalia arguing incoherently that the First Amendment explicitly favors religion in order to justify the hijacking of a school event to force religion on the non-believers in attendance. As Scott Lemieux at Lawyers Guns and Money pointed out, its actually the exact opposite: it disfavors religious endorsements by the state. But in this new topsy-turvy right-wing world, up is down, left is right, and the only way to protect religious freedom is to use government and corporate force to make everyone follow a conservative version of Christianity, whether they believe it or not.

Amanda Marcotte co-writes the blog Pandagon. She is the author of "It's a Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide to Politically Inhospitable Environments."

  Read  Why Do Right-Wing Christians Think 'Religious Freedom' Means Forcing Their Faith on You
  June 25, 2014
5 States Gunning to Make Their Kids As Scientifically Illiterate As Possible by Teaching Creationist B.S.
by Dan Arel , AlterNet

The British government dealt a strong blow to creationists last week when they clarified and extended their laws banning creationism in the classroom to not only free schools, but to academies as well.

Academies, including free schools, are the UKs version of the charter schools in the US, and there were concerns that, since academies are often run by religious organizations who taught and endorsed creationism in the classroom, kids who attend them were not being taught actual science.

The scientific community put heavy pressure on the British government to extend a similar law passed in 2012, which did not apply to free schools nor all academies and allowed some older schools already teaching creationism to grandfather their questionable curriculum in.

With this new ruling, "[] The Government has extended such an explicit rule to all new Academies and Free Schools and made it clear that it believes that existing rules mean that no Academy or Free School can teach pseudoscience," said Pavan Dhaliwal, The British Humanist Associations Head of Public Affairs explained in the press release.

In the US however, the battle to bring creationism and intelligent design into the classroom is alive and well. It has been ever since the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial, in which the teaching of evolution was found to be a violation of Tennessee law. The trial banned the teaching of human evolution in any publicly funded school.

The battle finally came to a head in 1987 when the Supreme Court heard Edwards v. Aguillard, in which Don Aguilard took the state of Louisiana to court over a law that required that creationism be taught in public schools.

The case, which made it all the way to the Supreme Court dealt a massive blow to the religious right when the court ruled that teaching creationism in publicly funded schools was unconstitutional because the original law was specifically intended to promote a particular religion.

A similar blow was dealt decades later when in 2005 when a US District Court ruled that intelligent design was not scientific and even encompassed creationism and teaching either to be unconstitutional.

So one would think that since both creation myths that are endorsed by the religious right have been struck down in the highest courts in the country that this debate would be settled. How on earth could we still be fighting the creationist proponents when they have been dealt solid deathblows

According to the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), an organization that tracks anti-science bills around the US that deal with evolution and global warming, almost every southern and bible-belt state in the US has at the very least attempted to pass education bills that either remove evolution from the curriculum or make it legal for teachers to offer alternative theories to human origins.

The states fighting to pass these laws are predictable if you pay attention to any national politics, the more red a state votes, the more it fights to remove science education from its schools or at the very least, replace science classes with a form of Bible study.

So what states and bills have been the worst to science education Here are five examples of states either enacted or relentlessly fighting to pass anti-evolution and or anti-science bills to change their educational standards to appease the Christian Right.

1. Louisiana

Louisiana seems to be trying harder than any other state to produce the most scientifically illiterate students it possibly can. Governor Bobby Jindal has overseen most of these bills and has endorsed them all.

Jindal even pushed and won to get a voucher program installed in the state that would allow public funding to be used for private education, including religious schools that taught creationism.

A 2008 proposal that was approved in the state allows teachers to, [] Supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review scientific theories in an objective manner, according the language drafted in the law.

The law clearly had evolution and climate science in its sights when allowing teachers to use other sources of information to critique scientific theories.

A repeal effort has been made under Senate Bill 175, in April 2014 it went in front of the Louisiana Senate Education Committee and the repeal was voted down 3-1, meaning that teachers could still skirt the federal law and use their own materials in the classroom against well understood scientific theories.

The failure to get SB 175 passed has continued to ensure those with religious power in the state control science education.

2. Missouri

Missouri recently advanced a bill, House Bill 1472, to its House that would allow parents to opt their children out of class during lessons about evolution.

According to NCSE the bill's sponsor Rick Brattin (R-District 55)toldtheKansas City Star(February 6, 2014)that requiring students to study evolution is "an absolute infringement on people's rights" and that evolution is "just as much faith and, you know, just as much pulled out of the air as, say, any religion."

Bills being written by politicians who know less about the scientific theory of evolution as the students they believe they are protecting, cannot be a good thing. States like Missouri are turning to politicians and not scientists when drafting this type of legislation.

Missouri even looks to take this one step further and has another bill, House Bill 1587, that is currently with the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education that would remove the ability of school administrators to prevent teachers from miseducating students about "scientific controversies" around evolution. No date has been set for the committee to discuss this proposed legislation.

3. South Carolina

South Carolina republicans want to teach the controversy. This creationist gem, a much laughed at and discarded argument was brought back into the limelight when Senator Mike Fair (R-District 6), a member of the states Education Oversight Committee (EOC) and long time opponent of evolution told the CharlestonPost and Courier that, We must teach the controversy ... There's another side. I'm not afraid of the controversy."

The proposal he was advocating at the time was supposed to revise the states science standards and require that students, "Construct scientific arguments that seem to support and scientific arguments that seem to discredit Darwinian natural selection"

The proposal passed the EOC with a 7-4 vote and went to the states board of education, which held a meeting on June 11, 2014. A number of scientists came to oppose the proposal and the only advocates who came to speak in the proposals defense were two speakers affiliated with the Discovery Institute, an anti-evolution organization that supports intelligent design as an explanation for life.

Thankfully the state board of education saw through the religious fog and rejected the proposal.

4. Oklahoma

Oklahoma faced not one, but two anti-evolution bills this year. The first brought forth in February, Senate Bill 1765, would have made it impossible for school administrators to mislead students about scientific controversies. The first bill died in the hands of the Senate Education Committee.

Shortly after, a second and similar bill, House Bill 1674, was proposed and even passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 70-6, sending the bill to the state senate. This new bill specifically mentioned "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning" as subjects which "some teachers may be unsure" about how to teach, according to NCSE.

HB 1674 however never made it to vote in the senate and expired. One can only assume a third attempt will not be far off.

5. Virginia

Another bill put forward to tie the hands of school administrators is House Bill 207. Like the bills in Oklahoma and Missouri HB 207 would allow teachers to challenge scientific theories and offer other alternatives and not face any punishment for violating educational laws that prohibit religious alternatives.

The bills only sponsor, Richard P. Bell (R-District 20), acknowledgedto theWashington Post(January 29, 2014) that HB 207 would apply to such scientific theories such as evolution and climate change. Bell also admitted to another local paper The Recorder that he himself was a creationist.

The Recorder later publicly came out against the bill and said they believed it was a threat to the states scientific educational standards.

The bill however died when the House Educational Committee did not vote on the issue before the bill expired.

These five states are some of the top examples but they are not the only five, and in the US were evolution is not widely accepted this hurts the country's scientific future.

A recent poll conducted by Gallup showed that 42% of Americans believe in the creation myth as to the origins of life on earth. There is glimmer of hope though, because the same poll conducted in 2012 showed that 46% of Americans believed in the creation myth.

The biggest threat to the US education is the Republican Partys refusal to accept scientific evidence as fact and turn every scientific claim into some form of liberal conspiracy.

While 42% is an improvement over two years ago it still shows just how far behind the US is to the rest of the developed world. Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and France all poll in over 80% acceptance of the theory. In fact, when a poll was conducted of European countries that included Turkey, the US fell behind every country except Turkey that happened to poll at 25% acceptance.

Both Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson have spoken out about the dangers of not teaching evolution, seeing as how evolution is one of the foundations of science, especially life science.

Nyes video criticizing creationism and scolding those who refuse to teach their children about evolution led to a nationally publicized debate between himself and Ken Ham of the creationist organization Answers in Genesis.

So while federal laws make it clear that the teaching of creationism and intelligent design are unconstitutional and are clear religious endorsements, it is obvious that the struggle to teach actual science across the US is an ongoing battle.

National science standards such as the Next Generation Science Standards need to be adopted across all fifty states and put an end to GOP controlled states creating their own religious based science curriculums.

Dan Arel is a freelance writer, speaker and secular advocate who lives in San Diego, Calif. Follow him on Twitter: @danarel

  Read  5 States Gunning to Make Their Kids As Scientifically Illiterate As Possible by Teaching Creationist B.S.
  July 8, 2014
How America's Biblical Ignorance Allows the Christian Right to Use 'Religious Freedom' For Its Own Agenda
by CJ Werleman, AlterNet

The Bible doesnt mention anything about contraception or abortion, but this hasnt stopped 89 million American evangelicals acting as if thou shall not consume a pregnancy pill were one of the Ten Commandments. For the benefit of my mostly American audience, its not. In fact, the first four of the Hebrew Gods Decalogue amount to nothing more than maniacal throat clearing, to steal a phrase from the late Christopher Hitchens.

The decision of the five conservative justices to rule in favor of Hobby Lobby, thus granting religious personhood to 90 percent of U.S. corporations, which means that certain for-profit companies may refuse to cover forms of birth control they find morally objectionable, has been debated from every angle except one: the theological perspective.

An overwhelming majority of hyper-religious Americans, and Americans in general, are incapable of debating the theological aspect of their faith. Not only do a staggering majority of Americans have no idea what is or isnt written in the Bible, they have not a morsel of knowledge as it pertains to just about all aspects of historical context and biblical scholarship.

At a time of heightened controversy surrounding womens reproductive rights, most discourse relies upon the political, philosophical and legal dimensions of access to abortion and contraception. In almost all instances, religious traditions and theological perspectives are not fully explored beyond an occasional reference to the biblical commandment, thou shall not kill. The nations collective biblical ignorance not only prevents any reasonable theological debate, but also allows Christian fundamentalists, like Hobby Lobby and its Christian Right supporters, to contort scripture to their own advantage.

The Right has successfully rebranded the brown-skinned liberal Jew, who gave away free healthcare, was pro-redistributing wealth, and hung with a prostitute, into a white-skinned, trickledown, union-busting conservative, for the very fact that an overwhelming number of Americans are astonishingly illiterate when it comes to understanding the Bible. On hot-button social issues, from same-sex marriage to abortion, biblical passages are invoked without any real understanding of the context or true meaning.

If you need to know what drives the Christian Rights rabid enthusiasm to rally behind Hobby Lobby, its important to understand how social conservatives have morphed Jesus into a muscular, masculine warrior, in much the same way the Nazis did, as a means of combating what they see as the modernization of society.

A significant impetus behind the assault on women and modernity was the feeling that women had encroached upon traditional male spheres like the workplace and colleges. Furthermore, womens leadership in the churches had harmed Christianity by creating an effeminate clergy and a weak sense of self. All of this was associated with liberalism, feminism, women, and modernity, Thom Hartmann writes.

Biblical illiteracy has made its way all the way up to the bench of the nations highest Court. In 2002, Justice Scalia defended his pro-death penalty stance by claiming that the Bible forgives those who wrongly apply the death penalty to innocent persons on the grounds that the wrongly convicted will have an opportunity to set the record straight in the courthouse of the afterlife.

More than 95 percent of U.S. households own at least one copy of the Bible. So how much do Americans know of the book that one-third of the country believes to be literally true Apparently, very little, according to data from the Barna Research group. Surveys show that 60 percent cant name more than five of the Ten Commandments; 12 percent of adults think Joan of Arc was Noahs wife; and nearly 50 percent of high school seniors think Sodom and Gomorrah were a married couple.

According to the American Bible Societys 2014 "State of the Bible" report, a majority of U.S. adults (81 percent) said they consider themselves highly, moderately or somewhat knowledgeable about the Bible. Yet less than half (43 percent) were able to name the first five books of the Bible. The report also showed that only half knew that John the Baptist was not one of the 12 apostles, while roughly 82 percent believe God helps those who help themselves is a biblical verse.

"All the research indicates that biblical literacy in America is at an all-time low," Kenneth Berding, professor of New Testament at Biola's Talbot School of Theology, told the Christian Post. "My own experience teaching a class of new college freshman every year for the past 15 years suggests to me that although students 15 years ago knew little about the Bible upon entering my classes, today's students on average know even less about the Bible."

No one should take the Christian Rights attitudes toward sexuality and abortion seriously when so many evangelicals believe Sodom and Gomorrah to be a married couple. Put another way: one should not be allowed to hide behind the veil of religious freedom, as an excuse to discriminate against others, when one has little or no understanding of their own religion.

Knowing the New Testament is not simply a matter of reading the Bible cover to cover, or memorizing a handful of verses. Knowing the Bible requires a scholarly contextual understanding of authorship, history and interpretation. For instance, Hobby Lobby and pro-life activists hide behind the thou shall not kill commandment, but the Bible demands death for a whole range of minor indiscretions, from cursing your parents (Exodus 21:17) to drunken behavior (Deuteronomy 21:18-21), from working on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14) to a woman lying about her virginity (Deuteronomy 22:20-21).

Invariably, Christians dismiss these complicating and contradictory biblical laws with an, Oh, thats the Old Testament defense. Typically they then claim the New Testament supersedes Mosaic Lawthe 613 commandments of the first five books of the Old Testament. But Jesus said, Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.(Matthew 5:17-20)

In other words, if the followers of Christ are to apply their religious beliefs in a way that is consistent with the laws and traditions of their faith, how does this not challenge a great number of the nations secular laws The Supreme Court has set precedence in a way that allows corporations to cherry-pick which of the nations secular laws dont suit them, while simultaneously allowing these same corporations the right to cherry-pick their own religious beliefs.

CJ Werleman is the author of "Crucifying America," and "God Hates You. Hate Him Back." Follow him on Twitter: @cjwerleman

  Read How America's Biblical Ignorance Allows the Christian Right to Use 'Religious Freedom' For Its Own Agenda
  July 10, 2014
Do Most Christians Even Know the 10 Commandments
by Valerie Tarico , AlterNet

The American Bible Society funds an annual State of the Bible survey, and this spring the Christian Post cheered some of their findings: The Bible continues to dominate both mind space and book retail space as America's undisputed best-seller. According to the study, conducted by Barna, over 88 percent of American homes contain a Bible. In fact, the average is 4.7 copies per household.

Now, I should note that a young non-religious friend once came home from school with a bright green Gideons New Testament that she later touted as a reserve of fine rolling papers, which may explain why the household average isnt a solid 5.

But most Americans treat the Bible with some degree of deference.

Among adults who responded to the survey, 56% were classified as pro-Bible meaning they think it is the actual or inspired word of God with no errors. More than a quarter said that they read from the Good Book daily or at least several times a week. Fully half said the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to lead a meaningful life.

Surveys about religious behavior and belief are highly susceptible to social desirability bias, meaning the very human tendency to tell researchers want we think they want to hear and to polish our self-image a little. Survey responses are selfies with mood lighting and make-up.

Even so, its hard to dispute the fact that the Bible has an enormous influence on our society, not only American society in 2014, but Western society going way back.

Thats what makes all of the pages devoted to useless things like tribal spats, genealogies, rules for slaveholders, menstrual rituals, misogynist trash talk, and loquacious donkeys such a wasted opportunity. But even that would be less painful if core moral mandates like the Ten Commandments were of higher caliber.

Secularists had a good laugh a few years back, when Stephen Colbert nailed Georgia Representative Lynn Westmoreland, who had co-sponsored a bill requiring display of the Ten Commandments in the House and Senate chambers. What are the Ten Commandments asked Colbert. Westmoreland came up with three.

In the darkest part of my heart I hope the esteemed congressman from Georgia spends the rest of his life wearing a scarlet H for hypocrite, even if no one can see it but him. But the truth is, very few Christians know the Ten Commandments from memory, for two very good reasons.

One reason is that the Bible actually gives two different sets of Ten Commandments, and they dont match. In Exodus 20, Moses comes down from Mount Sinai with a set of stone tablets. (This is the most popular version.) Then he gets mad and smashes them and has to go back up and get another set. And God says, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest. (Exodus 34:1). But then, apparently, God cant resist tweaking them a little. Ok, a lot.

Here, from the perennially popular King James Version, is the Exodus 20 set:

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.

4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

5. Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

6. Thou shalt not kill.

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

8. Thou shalt not steal.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

And here, from Exodus 34, is the set with which God replaced them:

1. Thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

2. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.

3. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep.

4. All that openeth the matrix is mine; and every firstling among thy cattle, whether ox or sheep, that is male.

5. Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest.

6. Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year's end.

7. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven.

8. Neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.

9. The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God.

10. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.

Setting aside the fact that females are relegated to a list of possessions that includes oxen, cattle and slaves; its not hard to see why the shattered set has the broader appeal.

But seriously, the second reason few Christians have memorized the Ten Commandments is that even the popular set lacks the moral clarity and relevance of, say, the Golden Rule or All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

Think about what youve just read. Now imagine for a moment that you are a perfectly Good and All-Knowing Being. Imagine that your core attributes include love, truth, justice and mercy. Imagine that the qualities you want to spread in humankind are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness and kindnesswhat the writer of Galatians called the fruit of the Spirit. Imagine that what you most want is for people to fulfill two Great Commandmentsto love you and to love their neighbors as themselvesand that, as the writer of Matthew said, anything else you tell them is just a way to get there. Imagine that you are going to take one shotwell, ok, twoat dictating Ten Commandments that will be timeless and universally relevant, literally and metaphorically written in stone.

You get where Im going. With a little help from his weed, Bob Marley could have done better.

For two millennia, or maybe three if the Old Testament stories are rooted in history, peoplewho sincerely believe the Ten Commandments to be the apogee of divine guidance have been doing things like pillaging, slaughtering other species, burning books and witches and infidels, owning sex slaves, beating children, conquering heathens, and generally deciding who counts and who doesnt based on gender hierarchy, religion, and tribal boundaries. Imagine how radically different Western history might have been if the Ten Commandments went something like this:

1. This above all shall ye take as my first command: Thou shalt treat living beings as they want to be treated. And the second commandment is like unto it:

2. In as much as be possible, thou shalt avoid afflicting pain or sorrow, which shall be unto thee my signs of ill and evil.

3. Thou shalt honor and protect all of creation, for I the LORD have created it that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

4. Thou shalt have sexual relations with neither human nor beast who chooseth not freely what pleasures thou mayest offer.

5. Thou shalt not beat the child, but by admonition and instruction with kindness shall teach both wisdom and skill.

6. Thou shalt do unto members of other religions and tribes as thou dost unto thine own.

7. I, the LORD your God, forbid thee to own other persons be they woman, man or child; neither shall ye subject any gender nor race one to another, but shall honor my image in all.

8. Thou shalt not destroy the lands of thine enemies, nor poison their well, nor salt their earth, neither shalt thou cut their shade tree nor burn their vineyard, nor wantonly slaughter the beast of their field.

9. Thou shalt wash thy hands before eating and shalt boil the drinking water that has been defiled by man or beast.

10. Thou shalt ask the questions that can show thee wrong, so that through the toil of many, from generation unto generation, ye may come to discover the great I AM.

This list of Ten Commandments would have changed the course of history. Think Crusades, or the Inquisition, or Salem, or the American Holocaust, or the slave trade, or Northern Ireland, or the Iraq War.

It would have changed history despite the fact that it is seriously flawed. Some points are redundant. Important concepts are missing. The thoughtful reader will immediately notice gaps or think of improvements. And that, precisely, is my point. People with their brains engaged and moral intuitions intact can do better.

The 56 percent of Americans who think the Bible is the actual or inspired word of God with no errors are stuck, anchored to the Iron Age. Many, when they get trapped by the ugly contradictions inherent in this position, do whatever moral gymnastics are necessary to defend the Book.

I once listened in amazement as an elderly pair of sweet and pacifist Jehovahs Witnesses tried to justify the child-slaughters perpetrated in the Old Testament by the Chosen People: The Israelites hadto kill the other Palestinian villagers. They were so evil they practiced child sacrificethey were the first abortionists, dont you know! And once the parents were dead it was simply a mercy to kill their children as well.

Whew. Try to wrap your brain around that one.

I said at the beginning of this article that the State of the Bible survey this year published some numbers that Bible believers find reassuring. Fortunately, that wasnt all the news. Between 2011 and 2013, the percent of American adults who believe the Bible is just another book of teachings written by men that contains stories and advice" has almost doubled, from 10 to 19 percent. And the shift is being driven by Millennials.

Theres hope for us yet.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington and the founder of Wisdom Commons. She is the author of "Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light" and "Deas and Other Imaginings." Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.
  Read Do Most Christians Even Know the 10 Commandments
 June 20, 2014
Obamas New Emission Rules: Will They Survive Challenges
by Michael B. Gerrard , Yale Environment 360, AlterNet

The Obama Administratin's recent announcement that it plans to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal-fired power plants evoked cries of protest and warnings of economic doom from the political right, and praise from the center and the left. As the controversy over the proposed rules continues to unfold, two important questions loom: What is the likelihood that these new regulations will actually be put into effect,and how big an impact would they have on the fight to slow climate change

Two things could completely derail the rules. First, if a Republican president is elected in 2016, he or she could halt their implementation. Second, the courts could strike them down. The sweeping nature of the regulations announced June 2 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) creates some potential openings for foes. Based on prior decisions it is very unlikely that the courts will entirely reject the idea of using existing law to regulate greenhouse gases, but the particular program announced on June 2 has some vulnerabilities. We may get a better sense of the prospects for a successful legal challenge based on the Supreme Courts decision expected any day now on another greenhouse gas case.

These issues must be weighed against the backdrop of two key facts. First, since the last major amendments to theClean Air Actin 1990, the environmental statutory structure in the United States has been frozen. Forthe past quarter-century, Congress has neither adopted nor repealed any major environmental laws or amendments.

Second, in its landmark 2007 decision inMassachusetts v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that the Clean Air Act gives the EPA the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Stymied by Congress, the Obama administration has run with that regulatory authority with considerable success. In 2009, the EPA issued aformal findingthat greenhouse gases endanger public health. The next year, the EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation began a process that will raise the fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks to54.5 miles per gallonby 2025. Also in 2010, under a new source review program, the EPA required permits for greenhouse gases from new or significantly modified sources of air pollution.

Then, in January, the EPA proposed strict emissions standardsfor new fossil fuel-fired power plants standards that coal plants could only meet with carbon capture and storage, a technology still in its nascent commercial stages. But few new coal plants were being built anyway, mostly due to the low price of natural gas.

Finally, two weeks ago the EPA issued itsdraft guidelineson existing fossil fuel power plants, setting a nationwide goal of a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from those plants by 2030, compared to 2005 levels (which were higher than todays). Each state has its own emissions reduction target, which it can meet in a wide variety of ways; at least nine states and the District of Columbia already meet their targets.

Now, the real legal and political battles begin. The EPA will issue its final guidelines by June 2015. The states will have until June 2016 to file their plans to meet the guidelines, with possible two-year extensions. The EPA will then decide which of the plans are adequate, which require revision, and which are so off the mark (or missing entirely) that the EPA needs to issue its own.

President Obama will leave office in January 2017, so most of this process is likely to play out under his successor. If thats a Democrat, the processwill probably continue. But a Republican president who adheres to the current party position may well stop the program. If, and only if, the Republicans control the White House, the Senate, and the House, would complete repeal of the EPAs current authority over greenhouse gases be in the cards; otherwise the statute is likely to remain intact. Opponents of regulation will surely attempt to use the appropriations process and other legislative maneuvers to block the program, but numerous similar attempts since 2010 have failed.

Litigation about the EPAs rules is as certain as death and taxes. Industry groups and their law firms are already circulating their arguments. At or near the top of most lists is the contention that the EPAs authority is strictly limited to controlling the emissions from the power plants themselves. The efficiency of these plants can be improved, but that would only reduce emissions by a few percentage points.

Because only small reductions can be achieved at the plants themselves, the EPAs proposed guidelines would go beyond the fenceline. The EPA regulations call for increasing the use of state-of-the-art, natural gas-fired power plants in place of coal plants; increasing renewable energy sources; avoiding retirement of existing nuclear plants; and supporting energy efficiency. States may also adopt market-based programs or join the existing cap-and-trade programs, such as the northeasternRegional Greenhouse Gas InitiativeorCalifornias AB32 program.

States would have a great deal of flexibility in how to meet the emissions reduction targets. But most states must adopt at least some of these beyond the fenceline actions to meet their targets. Opponents contendthat this exceeds EPAs authority, as the proposed regulations would require states to take actions that go well beyond regulating emissions from power plants. This argument is based on a legal theory that has never been tested before, and the outcome at least at the first stage of the litigation may be heavily influenced by which three judges happen to be randomly assigned to sit on the panel that hears the case; a broad range of political viewpoints are represented on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which hears such cases.

This question will not be resolved for some time. The legal challenge would not be ripe for filing until the rules become final in June 2015. The cases may well follow the pattern that played out after EPAs endangerment finding, motor vehicles rule, and new source review rules: More than 100 lawsuits were filed, but all were brought together for joint argument in court.

In those cases, 26 months passed between issuance of the first rule and the oral argument, and another four months to decision. Then the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to review it all. It refused to reconsider the endangerment finding, suggesting that new attacks would also fail. The Supreme Court did take up the narrow question of whether greenhouse gases could be regulated under the so-called prevention of significant deterioration program, which requires permits for new or modified sources of air pollution. Here, too, the EPA interpreted the Clean Air Act to give itself some flexibility to deal with a problem climate change that was not appreciated when the statute was enacted.

Oral argument was heard in February, and a decision is expected any day. Meanwhile, the challenged rules all remain in effect.

Thus, barring a political earthquake, the states will be preparing their plans in 2015 and 2016. As the owners of older coal plants consider whether to retire them or upgrade them to meet new and emerging environmental standards, the threat of greenhouse gas regulation will be an overlay of uncertainty and possible large expense, on top of the burdens imposed by other new and proposed environmental regulations and the competition from natural gas. The net result is likely to be an acceleration of the retirement of existing coal-fired power plants.

In late 2015 in Paris, the United Nations will convene an international meeting at which negotiators will again try to develop a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. President Obama hopes he can go there armed with a vigorous program, giving the U.S. some moral authority to call on other majorcountries to take strong action; his new guidelines for fossil fuels are a centerpiece of that program. Whether this will be enough to persuade other countries is very much an open question, though some early signals from China are positive.

For the past decade, growth in global greenhouse gas emissions has been utterly dominated by China. However, the failure of the United States to control its largest source of greenhouse gas emissions coal-fired power plants is a prime excuse used by China and other developing countries for not limiting their own emissions more strictly. They will also continue to point out that the U.S. still has high per-capita emissions, remains the largest historic emitter, is a large importer of carbon-intensive goods made in the developing world, and has become a major producer of fossil fuels.

As for the question of whether the Obama administrations proposed greenhouse gas regulations will make a significant contribution to slowing global warming, the answer is: It will help, but not nearly enough. Ananalysis from Climate Action Trackerfinds that the new plan is insufficient to meet the U.S. pledge of a 17 percent reduction in all greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and by 2030 U.S. emissions would still be around 5 percent above 1990 levels far higher than the levels required for the 2-degree C pathway that is needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

In sum, the new proposal is a hop in the right direction, but far short of the mighty leaps the world needs.

  Read Obamas New Emission Rules: Will They Survive Challenges
  June 30, 2014
Big Fracking Victory: New York's Top Court Rules That Towns Have the Right to Ban Natural Gas Drilling
by Cliff Weathers , AlterNet

New York's highest court ruled today that municipalities can ban hydrofracking operations within their territorial boundaries. The state's Court of Appeals saidthe towns of Drydenand Middlefield can write zoning laws to ban specific heavy industries, including oil and gas production.

Today the Court stood with the people of Dryden and the people of New York to protect their right to self determination. It is clear that people, not corporations, have the right to decide how their community develops, said Deputy Supervisor Jason Leifer of Dryden, which is located in New York's Upstate Finger Lakes region.

Todays ruling shows all of America that a committed group of citizens and public officials can stand together against fearful odds and successfully defend their homes, their way of life and the environment against those who would harm them all in the name of profit, added Leifer.

The ruling by the court, which passed 5-2, cemented the power of a principle known as known as municipal home rule, which grants villages and towns in the state the right to manage their own affairs and restricts state legislation from intruding into local governance. In the case of Dryden and Middlefield, the towns sought to keep away industries that they decided posed a threat to their local resources.

While this may seem only to be a small victory, environmentalists are calling this "huge."

This sends a message to all the oil and gas drillers anxiously eyeing our borders: The people of New York will not be steamrolled, Kate Sinding, a spokesperson for the Natural Resources Defense Council said in a statement.

Many of the 170 anti-fracking measures made by New York municipalities have been in limbo while the case was being decided.Todays decision will allow for many of those decisions to take effect. Environmental groups are also hoping that municipalities in other states, such as Colorado, Pennsylvania, and California, will look at this ruling and write their own ordinances that restrict industrial gas and oil drilling.

State residents and environmentalists are now waiting on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to make a decision on whether the state should lift a temporary moratorium on fracking that was put in place in 2008 by the previous Governor, David Paterson. Gov. Cuomo has said that he's waiting forthe State Health Department to issue a report on hydrofracking's potential health effects.

Cuomo's decision may become moot as energy companies threw up their hands in disgust at the ruling, hinting they may not be inclined to do business in the state.

Thomas S. West, a lawyer for one of the energy companies, Norse Energy Corporation USA, said he was disappointed by the ruling, which he said made it increasingly unlikely that gas drilling companies would invest in New York State.

Industry has already fled the state because of the six-year moratorium, Mr. West said.

In the future, he said, companies will have to weigh whether to invest the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars required to develop the resource, only to be at risk of a municipal ban.

The New York Times is reporting that Norse Energy has already filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Cliff Weathers is a senior editor at AlterNet, covering environmental and consumer issues. He is a former deputy editor at Consumer Reports. His work has also appeared in Salon, Car and Driver, Playboy, and Detroit Monthly among other publications. Follow him on Twitter @cliffweathers.

  Read  Big Fracking Victory: New York's Top Court Rules That Towns Have the Right to Ban Natural Gas Drilling
 July 1, 2014
Does Fracking Violate My Religious Freedoms
by Gary Wockner, AlterNet

The fallout from the Supreme Courts Hobby Lobby decision has only begun, but I think Justice Ginsburgs dissentwraps up a lot of progressive feelings when she says the decisions startling breadth allows companies to opt out of any law they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs. She goes on to discuss how this decision could impact non-Christian religions and how each might construe what they could opt out ofblood transfusions (Jehovahs Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews and Hindus); and vaccinations (Christian Scientists, among others.).

In my opinion, this Supreme Court decision appears to stem from a broad sense of deplorable misogyny in popular religions and American culture, and I absolutely oppose this decision.

But I also wonder if the decision contains a tangled, twisted eco-upside

It is certainly true that all religionswestern, eastern, otherwisecontain much eco-centric teachings and values. Many are, after all, modeled on the ancient sun worship cultures and its no coincidence that many Christian and non-Christian holidays fall on or around the solstice and equinox.

And so, if I worship the sun or the Earth or all species on the planet, do I have to abide by laws that violate my religion

By granting immunity from federal laws due to religious preference, the Supreme Court has cracked open a door that may not be easily shut.

Consider some speculative, but potential real-world lawsuits:

  1. Youre an Earth-worshipping pagan, you own a closely held corporation, and your corporations only choice of watercomes from a massive dam and reservoir run by a government-owned utility. Can you sue that utility for violating your religious freedom and force it to provide you with water from a less environmentally damaging source
  2. Your Earth-worshipping corporation is in an inner city, you have no way of generating your own solar electricity, and your utility requires that you get electricity generated from fracked-gas. Can you sue that utility and force it to provide you with clean energy that does not rely on fracking
  3. Or how about something closer to the Obamacare point: Your Earth-worshipping corporation supports animal rights, veganism and decries pharmaceutical experiments on animals. Can you sue to force Obamacare to provide you with animal-friendly medicine

The list could go on and on.

In my line of work as an advocate for the environment, Ive been called all sorts of names saying Im some kind of fanatic for the Earth. Further, in the popular media, folks who rail against environmentalists often say we have elevated environmentalism to a kind of religion.

If so, has the Supreme Court now given us the opportunity to fight against the governments intrusion in our lives because it violates our religion

I absolutely oppose the deplorable Hobby Lobby decision. And now its the law of the land.

Do I now have to abide by fracking laws that violate my religion

Gary Wockner, PhD, is an environmental advocate and writer based in Fort Collins, CO.

  Read Does Fracking Violate My Religious Freedoms
 July 2, 2014
40 Percent of Fracked Wells Projected to Fail, Says Study
by Cliff Weathers, AlterNet
A recent study by Cornell University has found that newer and unconventional natural gas wells leak methane at a greater rate than older and traditional ones. The study was based on inspections of more than 75,000 wells in Pennsylvania over the past 14 years.
The inspection reports indicate that leaks of methane could be a problem for drilling across the nation. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the study on Monday.
The report indicates that older wells (those drilled before the 2009 fracking boom) leaked at a rate near 1%. Newer wells (those drilled after 2009) had a leak rate of about 2%. Unconventional wells had a failure rate of about 6%. Moreover, the leak rate was nearly 10% for horizontal wells drilled before 2010.
The studystates:

About 40 percent of the oil and gas wells in parts of the Marcellus shale region will probably be leaking methane into the groundwater or into the atmosphere. This study shows up to a 2.7-fold higher risk for unconventional wells relative to conventional wells drilled since 2009.

The researchers indicated that they did not know the size of the leaks and did not know the causes, although they did speculate that it could be because corners are being cut as fracking booms.
Energy industry officials claim that what was measured was not actual leaks, but gas pressure build up, and the two are not necessarily related. Moreover, Marcellus Shale Coalition spokesperson Travis Windle says that the study's author, engineering professor Anthony Ingraffea is playing fast and loose with the facts.
But Ingraffea, who also is part of a group that has criticized hydrofracking, is sticking by the study's findings.
"Something is coming out of it that shouldn't, in a place that it shouldn't," he said.
The Cornell study comes only a few weeks after researchers at Princeton University found that methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells appear to be a signicant source of methane emissions to the atmosphere.

Cliff Weathers is a senior editor at AlterNet, covering environmental and consumer issues. He is a former deputy editor at Consumer Reports. His work has also appeared in Salon, Car and Driver, Playboy, and Detroit Monthly among other publications. Follow him on Twitter @cliffweathers.

  Read 40 Percent of Fracked Wells Projected to Fail, Says Study
 July 1, 2014
Your Kitchen Can Be a Planet Killer -- 8 Ways You Can Turn It Green
by Cliff Weathers , AlterNet

While you may hear a lot about buying locally grown and organic foods, eco-friendly food preparation, green detergents, and non-toxic cleaning products, not much is written about greening the kitchen itself. And yet, as a society we consider the kitchen to be sacred, and collectively we spend more money remodeling this room than any other in the house.

Fortunately, making green choices for your kitchen is as good for the pocket as it is for the planet. And while it may be argued that keeping kitchen you have might be your greenest option, here are some things to consider whether youre buying new appliances, remodeling, or simply trying to reduce the carbon footprint in your cookery.

1. Buy eco-friendly countertops.If you need to replace your countertops, look into renewable sources such as bamboo and hemp, which should cost between $90-$130 a square foot. Another interestingand visually strikingeco-friendly countertop material is Icestone, which is made from recycled glass and colored concrete. It costs about $75 a square foot. By comparison, marble and granite countertops, two high-end countertop choices popular with consumers cost between $125-$250. Cheap laminate countertops cost some $20-$50 per square foot.

You may also want to consider using wooden planks or countertops salvaged from old homes. Non-profit organizationsmostly found in urban areas dismantle abandoned homes, recycle the materials and resell them for low prices at rehab stores. Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit that builds and rehabilitates affordable homes, has hundreds of such stores across the country, which they call "ReStores."

2. Use reclaimed cabinets.When redesigning your kitchen, look at salvaging used cabinets or using furniture elements such as antique Hoosier cabinets for your storage needs. Appropriate hanging and sink cabinets, however, might not be so easy to find as it could be hard to locate ones that fit your needs or your kitchens dimensions. Check out home rehab stores for used cabinets. Antique shops, freecycling organizations, Craigslist,and estate sales are good places to find freestanding cabinets and hutches.

New or used, you get what you pay for when it comes to wood products. Cabinetry and furniture made from cheap pine or particle board won't hold up nearly as well as oak, maple, walnut, and cherry. While looking at cabinets, pay close attention to joint construction. Anything constructed with staples or nails, or visible glue indicates cheap construction. Look for dowels, screws, dovetail joints, and reinforcement blocks at corners.

3. Buy the right cookware. While it may be tempting to buy inexpensive, non-stick cookware (like Teflon) there are many legitimate health concerns regarding such cooking surfaces. Moreover, most of the cheap cookware you find at department stores is really not built to last, and will end up in a landfill much sooner than later.

Instead, consider cookware that has stood the test of time. Iron and stainless steel cookware are practically indestructible, and you can save a lot of money buying them used.

Cast iron cookware, when properly seasoned (lightly oiled and baked), can be pretty close to non-stick and iron also holds heat quite well, meaning you could use less energy to cook your food.

Stainless steel is also a good bet, but buying this type of cookware can be a little trickier. It is also pricier than cast iron. The best stainless steel cookware has slick cooking surfaces, even more so than seasoned iron. When shopping, consider only stainless steel cookware that has riveted handlesand an aluminum or copper core to help with even heat distribution.

Enamel cookware encases the iron base metal with a coating of porcelain (which is powdered glass melted and baked on top of the metal). While enamel cookware is typically easy to care for, it will likely be your most expensive option. It also doesnt have the non-stick qualities of bare iron or stainless steel cookware so its not very good for cooking eggs. However, enameled cookware is considered better for acidic dishes, soups, and sauces, as theres no metal surfaces to chemically react with the food. Another advantage of enamel is that it wont hold flavors, like fish, the way that cast iron does.

Unfortunately, some enamel cookware out there is cheap and the porcelain chips easily, and some imported enameled cookware has been known to have lead or other toxic compounds in the pan or coating. So, its probably best to look for well-respected brand names like Le Creuset, Le Chasseur, and Staub when buying new or used enamel cookware.

4. Buy used dishware and utensils.There's nothing wrong with buying utensils and dishes used, especially if you can find them in matching sets. Thrift stores and estate sales are often the best places to look. Be careful to examine any utensils and dishes for cracks, chips, and missing enamel. China and glassware may also have invisible stresses that could become cracks.

Stainless steel flatware is a more attractive option than silverware, especially if the silverware has lost its plate. While the base metal for silverware is often copper or brass, a tin-alloy base used in some silverware may pose health risks. Also, be sure any plastic dishes or utensils you buy do not contain chemicals such as melamine resin and Bisphenol-A, which may pose health risks.

5. Get an energy-efficient refrigerator.The greenest thing you can do in the kitchen is to reduce your energy use, and knowing which refrigerator to buy goes a long way in reducing your carbon footprint. When shopping for refrigerators, look for the ones that are Energy Star Rated, as not all are. Check out the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) website for energy-efficiency ratings for household appliances.

As people tend to hang on to refrigerators for decades and the appliances efficiency is likely to degrade over time due to wear, it is almost always best to buy a refrigerator new. Moreover, modern refrigerators are much more efficient than they were decades ago. Compared to the refrigerators of the 1970s, today's refrigerators save U.S. consumers some $20 billion per year in energy costs, or about $150 per year for the average American family. Even better, 2014 marks the first year of even tougher efficiency standards for refrigerators and the new products are now in the stores.

The U.S. Energy Department says that these new efficiency standards will save the nation almost four and a half quadrillion BTUs over 30 years. Thats three times more than the total energy currently used by all refrigeration products in U.S. homes annually. That amount of energy could also power a third of the African continent for an entire year.

6. Get a gas range (if you can). A majority of U.S. households use electric ranges. This is true, in part, because some regions and communities dont have a natural gas infrastructure. Still, many households that can use gas ranges have electric ones instead.

But there are a lot of advantages to natural gas. For beginners, most cooks prefer using natural gas because temperatures are easier to control and they dont have to wait for electric coils to warm up. Also, gas is some three times more energy efficient than a comparable electrical range. And, according to the California Energy Commission, cooking with gas will cost you less than half as much to operate if your stove has a modern electronic ignition. And although cooking with gas means using a fossil fuel to do so, remember that most electricity in the U.S. still comes from coal and natural-gas burning power plants.

Whether theyre electric or gas, ranges take a great amount of energy and natural resources to manufacture, and as long as youre not buying a used range that was low-end to begin with, youre not denying yourself anything by getting one second hand. In fact, you can even find gas ranges from upscale brands such as Viking, Wolf, and Miele at much lower prices than you would if you purchased them new, and you probably wouldnt notice the difference once you got one home.

7. Stop washing dishes in the sink. Dont think that youre being green by scrimping and not getting a dishwasher. Many people have a misguided belief that washing dishes by hand is more efficient and uses less water, but studies have shown that the carbon footprint of using a dishwasher is less than washing in the sink.

The average dishwasher uses six gallons of water per cycle for a full-load of dishes, while Energy Star efficient models use four gallons or less. A line of smart dishwashers by Bosch can use even less water, thanks to new sensor technology that can customize the amount of water to the contents in the machine.

By comparison, hand washing is inefficient: The average faucet flows at two gallons of water per minute. So, you would have to be able to wash and rinse the equivalent of a full load of dishes, utensils, pots, and pans using two minutes or less running water to make washing in the sink as efficient as a basic Energy Star dishwasher.

And even when factoring in the electricity used by the dishwasher compared to that of the hot-water heater needed for hand washing, the overall carbon footprint is very likely to be less when using a dishwasher.

8. Use fewer (and better) paper towels. Another green debate in the kitchen is whether paper towels or cloth towels are more eco friendly. Of course, this may depend more onhow you would use cloth towels more than anything else. If youre the type to use them once before tossing them into the washer, then cloth towels might not be for you, as washing and drying many of them is, in fact, energy intensive. Also, if you live in an area where youre being asked to ration water, you might find it frivolous to rinse a cloth towel between each use or to dedicate so much water and energy to washing and drying them.

But as much as we may debate the pros and cons of paper versus cloth, consider all of the energy-intensive steps in manufacturing paper towels, including material acquisition, processing, bleaching, packaging, and transportation. All of this happens for a product thats used just once, discarded, and dumped in a landfill with millions of other paper towels; theres something almost immoral about this wastefulness.

Overall, utilizing cloth towels should be your defaultby rinsing and reusing them when appropriate. Along with them, paper towels should be bought and used conscientiously. Always look for towels with a high percentage of recycled content and for those that allow you to tear off smaller portions if needed. But beware of other green claims made for paper towel brands. They may be dubious as there are no government regulations for their marketing statements. One green brand however, Seventh Generation, makes towels are notably greener as they can be torn into those smaller portions and are entirely made of recycled paper.

Cliff Weathers is a senior editor at AlterNet, covering environmental and consumer issues. He is a former deputy editor at Consumer Reports. His work has also appeared in Salon, Car and Driver, Playboy, and Detroit Monthly among other publications. Follow him on Twitter @cliffweathers.

  Read  Your Kitchen Can Be a Planet Killer -- 8 Ways You Can Turn It Green
 July 4, 2014
Oklahoma's Fracking Wells Behind the Spate of Earthquakes
by Suzanne Goldenberg , The Guardian, AlterNet

Scientists have, for the first time, linked hundreds of earthquakes across a broad swath of Oklahoma to a handful of wastewater wells used by the fracking industry.

The research,published in the journal Science on Thursday, said about one-fifth of the quakes that helped turn Oklahoma into the earthquake capital of America were caused by just four wells.

Oklahoma has had about 240 magnitude 3.0 or higher earthquakes just since the start of the year. The state now has twice the number of 3.0 earthquakes as California.

Before 2008, when the oil and gas boom got underway, the state averaged about one a year.

The researchers from Cornell University and other institutions traced a large number of earthquakes through 2012 to just four wells, south-east of Oklahoma city.

Those wells were pumped with significantly higher volumes of fracking wastewater and chemicals than the thousands of other disposal wells in the state.

The findings were the first to show such waste wells can trigger earthquakes up to 40kms away from the injection site.

They are bound to further deepen the controversy surrounding fracking, which has vastly expanded America's oil and natural gas production, but with rising consequences for health, safety and the environment.

Another Cornell-led team this weekfound that40% of the fracked wells in north-eastern Pennsylvania were at risk of leaking methane into groundwater and air.

The researchers said faulty cement casings could be responsible.

Earthquakes in Oklahoma between 1976-2014
Earthquakes in Oklahoma between 1976-2014. Earthquakes are magnitude > 1 from the NEIC catalog (10). Black lines are faults (2628). Photograph: /Science journal

In Thursday's study, researchers found a suite of wells around Oklahoma city, which collectively were pumped with nearly 5m barrels a month of waste, caused the swarm of earthquakes.

These really big wells have the biggest impacts on the system, said Geoffrey Abers, a professor at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and one of the authors of the study.

The biggest of the disposal wells was pumped with up to 1.6m barrels a month of fracking waste.

The earthquakes themselves seem to occur on small discrete faults. As the pressure builds up in the sedimentary formation that they are pumped into ... They put that fault over the edge by jacking up the pore pressure.

He ruled out a natural explanation for the spike in earthquakes. This many earthquakes over and over again is not really something we have seen in a natural system, he said.

Instead, the researchers found the earthquakes over the last five years were triggered by a relatively small number of the thousands of injection wells drilled across the state to dispose of the mix of water and chemicals used by drillers to flush oil and gas from layers of rock.

The researchers said the four Oklahoma city wells raised underground pressures, triggering a swarm of earthquakes across nearly 2,000 square kilometres.

In some instances, the earthquakes were more than 30km from the disposal site much farther than researchers had expected.

The first earthquakes known to be caused by a fracking waste disposal well, occurred in Youngstown, Ohio. Scientists registered at least 109 earthquakes after the injection well came into operation in December 2010 until it was shut down a year later, following an earthquake that registered a magnitude of 3.9.

Those earthquakes were localised, however, the researched noted.

In their study, earthquakes travelled great distances from the disposal sites. There was also a time lag.This is a situation where the pumping starts months or a couple of years before the earthquakes are observed at all, Abers said.

The researchers found the areas of underground pressure continually expanded, increasing the likelihood of encountering bigger faults, and the risks of triggering higher-magnitude earthquakes.

The Oklahoma regulator has no rules limiting the pressure or volume of fracking waste that can be pumped into such disposal wells.

The authors refused repeated requests to identify or discuss the four high-volume wells responsible for a large volume of the earthquakes.

However,records maintained by the Oklahoma regulatorindicate a number of disposal wells with significantly higher volumes of fracking waste than the thousands of other such wells across the state.

The biggest such well was owned and operated by New Dominion LLC, according to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

At least four other high-volume wells belonged to a now bankrupt company, Beard Oil.

Herb Mee, Beard's president, told the Guardian the company filed for bankruptcy in October 2012, and the wells have been out of operation since December 2012. He noted earthquakes had increased this year - well after his disposal wells shut down.

We've got earthquakes every day, but they are much worse now than they were then, he said. We don't have any operations. If they were trying to pin anything on us, they are barking up the wrong tree.

Jack Money, a spokesman for New Dominion, said the findings were "irresponsible" and based on "certain false assumptions", and that the company was seeking legal counsel.

In an emailed statement, Money said the company had not had enough time to study the findings but "an initial review reflects it is premised on certain false assumptions".

The statement added that the company operated its four wells in the Oklahoma city area safely and in co-operation with state regulators.

The statement added: "At best these incorrect assumptions are irresponsible".

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which is charged with overseeing the safety of oil and gas operations, said it could not yet comment on the findings.

  Read  Oklahoma's Fracking Wells Behind the Spate of Earthquakes
 July 8, 2014
Why Whale Poo Could Be Key to Reversing Effects of Climate Change
by Philip Hoare , The Guardian, AlterNet

The first success of the environmental movements of the 1960s was to save the whale. Now, with deep irony, whales may be about to save us with their poo. Anew scientific reportfrom the University of Vermont, which gathers together several decades of research, shows that the great whales which nearly became extinct in the 20th century and are now recovering in number due to the 1983 ban on whaling may be the enablers of massive carbon sinks via their prodigious production of faeces.

Not only do the nutrients in whale poo feed other organisms, from phytoplankton upwards and thereby absorb the carbon we humans are pumping into the atmosphere even in death the sinking bodies of these massive animals create new resources on the sea bed, where entire species exist solely to graze on rotting whale. There's an additional and direct benefit for humans, too. Contrary to the suspicions of fishermen that whales take their catch, cetacean recovery could "lead to higher rates of productivityin locations where whales aggregate to feed and give birth". Their fertilizing faeces here, too, would encourage phytoplankton which in turn would encourage healthier fisheries.

Such propositions speak to our own species' arrogance. As demonstrated in thefantastical geoengineering projectsdreamed up to address climate change, the human race's belief that the world revolves around it knows no bounds. What if whales were nature's ultimate geoengineers The new report only underlines what has been suspected for some time: that cetaceans, both living and dead, are ecosystems in their own right. But it also raises a hitherto unexplored prospect, that climate change may have been accelerated by the terrible whale culls of the 20th century, which removed hundreds of thousands of these ultimate facilitators of CO2 absorption. As Greg Gatenby, the acclaimed Canadian writer on whales told me in response to the Vermont report, "about 300,000 blue whales were taken in the 20th century. If you average each whale at 100 tons, that makes for the removal from the ocean of approximately 30m tons of biomass. And that's just for one species".

There's another irony here, too. American whaling, as celebrated in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851), declined in part because of thediscovery of mineral oil wellsin the second half of the 19th century. One unsustainable resource the whale oil which lit and lubricated the industrial revolution was replaced by another. By killing so many whales, then turning to carbon-emitting mineral oil, humans created a double-whammy for climate change. (Conversely, and perhaps perversely, some US commentators have claimed that capitalism saved the whales rather than environmentalists. They contend that our use of mineral oil actually alleviated the pressure on whale populations proof, they say, that human ingenuity has the ultimate power to solve the planet's problems).

The 10 scientists who jointly contributed to the new paper note the benefits of "an ocean repopulated by the great whales". Working on awhalewatching boat off Cape Codlast month, I witnessed astonishing numbers of fin whales, humpbacks and minkes feeding on vast schools of sand eels. I watched dozens of whales at a time, co-operatively hoovering up the bait and producing plentiful clouds of poo in the process. (Having been at the receiving end of a defecating sperm whale, I can testify to its richly odiferous qualities.)

Observers in the Azoreshave reported similarly remarkable concentrations of cetaceans this summer. And with a10% increase in humpback calvesreturning to Australian waters each year, andblue whales being seen in the Irish Sea, a burgeoning global population of cetaceans might not just be good for the whalewatching industry, they may play a significant role in the planet's rearguard action against climate change.

It would certainly be a generous return on their part, given what we've inflicted on them. Indeed, as Melville imagined in his prophetic chapter in Moby-Dick,Does the Whale's Magnitude Diminish, the whale might yet have the last laugh, regaining its reign in a flooded world of the future to "spout his frothed defiance to the skies."

  Read  Why Whale Poo Could Be Key to Reversing Effects of Climate Change
 July 4, 2014
The Giant Methane Monster That Can Wipe Out the Human Race
by Thom Hartmann , Thom Hartmann Show, AlterNet

There's something lurking deep under the frozen Arctic Ocean, and if it gets released, it could spell disaster for our planet.

That something is methane.

Methane is one of the strongest of the natural greenhouse gases, about 80 times more potent than CO2, and while it may not get as much attention as its cousin CO2, it certainly can do as much, if not more, damage to our planet.

That's because methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, and there are trillions of tons of it embedded in a kind of ice slurry called methane hydrate or methane clathrate crystals in the Arctic and in the seas around the continental shelves all around the world.

If enough of this methane is released quickly enough, it won't just produce the same old global warming.

It could produce an extinction of species on a wide scale, an extinction that could even include the human race.

If there is a "ticking time bomb" on our planet that could lead to a global warming so rapid and sudden that we would have no way of dealing with it, it's methane.

Right now, estimates suggest that there's over 1,000 gigatons - that's a thousand billion tons - of carbon in methane form trapped just under the Arctic ice. And if stays trapped under the ice, we might have a chance.

But, thanks to the global warming that's already occurring, Arctic sea ice is melting at unprecedented rates.

In fact,as Gaius Publius points out over at America Blog, just about every reputable projection on the loss of Arctic sea ice has been wrong in a very, very bad way.

The lack of sea ice cover in the Arctic that we're seeing today wasn't supposed to happen for 20+ more years according to 13 of the most accurate models.

As all that sea ice melts, the Arctic ice which once reflected sunlight and prevented global warming, becomes a very blue ocean that absorbs heat and causes even more melting.

And this all means that more and more methane is being released into the atmosphere much faster than expected, speeding up the process of global warming and climate change.

It's all one big and vicious cycle, called a "positive feedback loop," something that can spiral out of balance and control very quickly.

But here's where it gets really scary.

Researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center have found that Arctic methane is leaking out from the ocean floor nearly twice as fast as was previously thought.

The researchers found that the East Siberian Arctic Shelf is releasing at least 17 million tons of methane into the atmosphere each year.

Natalia Shakhova, one of the lead researchers on the study, saidmethane releases from the Arctic seafloor are, "now on par with the methane being released from the arctic tundra, which is considered to be one of the major sources of methane in the Northern Hemisphere."

To put this in perspective, just seven years ago, estimates suggested that only 500,000 tons of methane were being released into Earth's atmosphere each year. Now we're measuring 17 million tons of it. Just in the Arctic.

Now, we can't directly stop Arctic sea ice from melting and releasing methane into the atmosphere, but we can help stop what's contributing to that melting in the first place: fossil fuel extraction.

Every day, the fossil fuel industry extracts more and more fossil fuels from the ground, releasing tons and tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

That carbon dioxide warms our atmosphere, which hastens the melting of Arctic sea ice, and the release of even more dangerous methane into our atmosphere.

We need to be keeping the remaining methane right where it is, buried deep under a thick sheet of ice.

And a great way to accomplish that goal is by introducing a carbon tax.

Putting a price on the amount of carbon that the fossil fuel industry takes out of the ground would encourage less fossil fuel extraction, and more reliance on clean and green energy.

With a carbon tax, fossil fuels would become more expensive than renewables.

For every day that America's fossil fuel industry pumps carbon pollution into our skies, our environment is deteriorating quicker, more and more Arctic sea ice is melting, and climate change and global warming are speeding up.

We have a chance right now to keep the giant methane monster that's lurking under the Arctic Ocean right where it is, and save our planet in the process.

The time for a carbon tax in America is now!

Thom Hartmann is an author and nationally syndicated daily talk show host. His newest book is "The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America and What We Can Do to Stop It."

  Read  The Giant Methane Monster That Can Wipe Out the Human Race
 July 1, 2014
5 Shocking Places Where Fracking Is Taking Off
by Tara Lohan , AlterNet

By now, many people have heard about the booming Bakken Shale in North Dakota where there is a mad rush for oil, enabled by the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a practice that pumps millions of gallons of water, chemicals and sand underground to break rock and release hydrocarbons.

The Bakken has garnered big media attention and so too has Texass Eagle Ford Shale and the gas-rich Marcellus Shale in the Northeast. But more than these big shale plays are on the table. Fracking is happening in 17 states and more than 80,000 wells have been drilled or permitted in the last nine years -- some of these in surprising (and alarming) places.

From scenic coastal waters to vital agricultural land, here are five places where fracking could soon be taking off.

1.California'sVital Farmlands.Kern County in Californias Central Valley is part of the heart of the states $43 billion a year agriculture industry and it has made headlines frequently as ground zero for Californias crippling drought. Dairy is big in Kern and farmers (mostly large agribusiness) also grow almonds, pistachios, grapes, cotton, carrots, onions, citrus and much more.

Diminished water supplies and overdrawn aquifers have farmers offering big bucks for water this year. But they may have to outbid another heavy weight -- the oil industry. Kern County is the top oil-producing county in the state (although production tumbled nearly 50 percent between 1985 and 2011) and its Holy Grail is the Monterey Shale, a deep underground rock formation that was estimated to hold 13.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil twice as much as North Dakotas Bakken Shale.

Trying to get at more oil has meant more drilling and not just in Kerns historical oilfields. In small agricultural towns in the county like Shafter and Wasco, wells are being drilled and now fracked in almond and pistachio orchards. Its hard to tell exactly how many wells have been fracked the state hasnt required regulation of fracking, although that's in the works.

Maps like this one from FracTracker show clusters of fracked wells along the oilfields that line Highway 33 (also known as the Petroleum Highway) and around Shafter and Wasco.The state's Department of Conservation shows notices to hydraulically fracture 100 wells in Kernin the span of a month this spring.

Is Kern poised to take off like the Bakken Its unclear. Estimates of its vast reserves in the Monterey were recently reduced drastically. The amount of oil now deemed economically recoverable was cut 96 percent, to 600 million barrels, although that hasnt yet deterred industry from trying anyway.

2.PacificCoast Waters.A six-month investigation by Truthout revealed last July that hydraulic fracking had occurred off the coast of California in the Santa Barbara Channel and no special permits or environmental review were required. Mike Ludwig wrote:

Truthout reported that an oil company called Venoco had quietly used fracking technology to stimulate oil production in an old well off the coast of Santa Barbara in early 2010. A Freedom of Information Act request recently filed by Truthouthas confirmed the Venoco operation and revealed that another firm had since received permission for fracking in the Santa Barbara channel, which is home to the Channel Islands marine reserve.

This year, federal regulators approved an application by the Ventura-based company DCOR LLC to use fracking technology known as "frack pack" in a sandstone well 1,500 feet from a seismic fault in the outer continental shelf off the California coast, according to the documents released by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the federal agency that permits offshore drilling.

Industry contends the offshore fracking is a much smaller operation (that uses less water, sand and chemicals) than what is previously done onshore but environmental groups are still concerned about pollution.

KCET reported in February that, about half of the state's offshore rigs pump at least some of their wastewater right into the Santa Barbara Channel and according to the Center for Biological Diversity, oil rig operators have federal permits to dump more than nine billion gallons of fracking wastewater into California's ocean waters each year.

While the Santa Barbara Channel is home to oilfields, its also renowned for its scenic beauty, prime beaches, ecological diversity, and the Channel Islands National Park. This map shows the proximity of oil activity and wildlife in the channel.

3.Florida's Tropics.Is fracking happening in the Everglades That depends on who you ask. According to the Texas oil company Dan A. Hughes Co., the answer is no. But not everyone agrees with that. The Orlando Sentinel reported that the Texas company, has been caught using fracking-like blasting methods to drill for oil near the Everglades, raising alarms from state officials and inflaming a long-simmering controversy over energy exploration in the midst of a cherished ecosystem.

The company was using an "enhanced extraction procedure" which involves pumping acid (instead of a mixture of other toxic chemicals) underground with water and sand to dissolve rock. According to the states Department of Environmental Protection the company apparently performed the technique without a permit and in violation of a cease-and-desist order.

The practice is known as acidizing, acid fracking or acid well stimulation. Its new to Florida but its become common practice (although the subject of deep concern) in other states, like California.

Environmental groups in the area are concerned it will open a Pandoras Box. Marjorie Holt, chairwoman of the Sierra Club Central Florida Group, told the Orlando Sentinelthat, "It opens the door to fracking for oil," and it could be an incentive for other companies to start exploration in Florida."

4.TheGreat Lakes.Fracking is already happening in Michigan and environmental groups are worried that it may expand and threaten their prized freshwater resources.

The oil and gas industry has leased 84,000 acres of national forest along the Great Lakesputting our lakes and the waterways that flow into them in harms way, reports Environment Michigan. Fracking poses a huge risk of water contamination and depletion to the Great Lakes: 95% of our waterways are connected, so fracking anywhere in Michigan can threaten the Great Lakes In Kalkaska County, a single fracking site contaminated 42 million gallons of water.

Last year concern over water use by the oil and gas industry grew, as EcoWatch reported:

"Concerns about the impact to local groundwater by massive water useon a scale never before seen in Michigan fracking operationsare coming to a head, as the plan for Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. to use 8.4 million gallons of water to fracture a single well has been stymied by a lack of water on site.

Instead, the company is trucking waternearly 1 million gallons of it in just one weekfrom the City of Kalkaskas water system to meet its needs. This one fracking operation today is using more water than Kalkaska is using for all its needs over the same time period."

5. Next to Our National Parks.Fracking cant take place inside our National Parks, but oil and gas development is getting closer and closer, which is bad news for wildlife that migrate across park boundaries, and for park visitors that hope for clean air and beautiful vistas.

No where is this more apparent than Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, which is enveloped by oil drilling, with gas flares at well sites visible from the park and nearby roads clogged with big trucks and industry-related traffic.

The National Parks Conservation Association reported that, the impacts from the estimated 45,000 wells due at full build-out could seriously impair the parks mandate to protect its undeveloped lands and wildlife, perhaps most noticeably by severing connections between the park and the surrounding Little Missouri National Grasslands, impeding migration routes and fragmenting habitat for pronghorn, mule and white-tailed deer, elk, and sharp-tailed grouse.

But the organization reports, Theodore Roosevelt is not the only National Park at risk, Grand Tetons National Park and Glacier National Park both have fracking encroaching near park borders. And public lands, such as state and national forests, across the country -- from Pennsylvania to California -- are already pocked by fracked wells.

Tara Lohanis a freelance writer and former senior editor at AlterNet.She is theeditor of two books on the global water crisis, includingWater Matters: Why We Need to Act Now to Save Our Most Critical Resource. Follow her on Twitter @TaraLohan or visit her website, taralohan.com.

  Read 5 Shocking Places Where Fracking Is Taking Off
 June 19, 2014

Cercle Universel des Ambassadeurs de la Paix
Universal Ambassador Peace Circle
Le monde est un hritage El mundo es un legado O mundo um legado The world is a legacy
by message de la Hommes de parole Suisse/France
Extrait de l'intervention du pape Franois l'invocation pour la paix, lors de sa rencontre avec Mahmoud Abbas et Shimon Peres, le 9 juin 2014

Le monde est un hritage que nous avons reu de nos anctres,
mais c'est aussi un prt de nos enfants :
des fils qui sont fatigus et puiss par les conflits et dsireux de parvenir
l'aube de la paix ;
des fils qui nous demandent d'abattre les murs de l'inimiti et de parcourir la route
du dialogue et de la paix afin que l'amour et l'amiti triomphent. ()
Pour faire la paix, il faut du courage, bien plus que pour faire la guerre.
Il faut du courage pour dire oui la rencontre et non l'affrontement ;
oui au dialogue et non la violence ;
oui la ngociation et non aux hostilits ;
oui au respect des accords et non aux provocations ;
oui la sincrit et non la duplicit.
Pour tout cela, il faut du courage, une grande force d'me.
L'histoire nous enseigne que nos seules forces ne suffisent pas.
El mundo es un legado que hemos recibido de nuestros antepasados,
Pero es tambin una de prstamo a nuestros hijos:
hijo de que estn cansados y agotados por el conflicto y ansiosos de llegar a
l ' Aube de paz;
los cables nos pide que derribar los muros de enemistad y de camino
de dilogo y de paz el amor y la amistad prevalezcan. ()
Para hacer la paz, hace falta valor, mucho ms que para hacer la guerra.
Hace falta valor para decir s a la reunin y no confrontacin;
S al dilogo y no violencia;
S a la negociacin y no de las hostilidades;
S al respeto de los acuerdos y no a las provocaciones;
S a la sinceridad y no duplicidad.
Para ello, se necesita valor, una gran fuerza de alma.
La historia nos ensea que nuestras fuerzas solas no son suficientes.

O mundo um legado que recebemos de nossos ancestrais,
Mas tambm um de emprstimo de nossos filhos:
filho de quem est cansado e esgotado por conflitos e desejoso de chegar
L'Aube de paz;
os fios que nos pedindo para derrubar paredes de inimizade e de estrada
de dilogo e de paz para que o amor e a amizade prevaleam. ()
Para fazer as pazes, preciso coragem, muito mais do que para fazer a guerra.
preciso coragem para dizer sim reunio e no-confronto;
Sim ao dilogo e no-violncia;
Sim, a negociao e no as hostilidades;
Sim, a respeito de acordos e no para as provocaes;
Sim, a sinceridade e no duplicidade.
Para fazer isso, preciso coragem, uma grande fora de alma.
A histria ensina-nos que nossas foras sozinhos no so suficientes.

The world is a legacy we have received de our ancestors,
but it is also a loan de our children:
de son who are tired and exhausted by conflict and eager de reach
l'aube de peace;
wires that asking us to tear down the walls de enmity and de road
de dialogue and de peace so that love and friendship prevail. ()
To make peace, it takes courage, much more than to make war.
It takes courage to say yes to the meeting and non-confrontation;
Yes to dialogue and non-violence;
Yes to negotiation and not to the hostilities;
Yes to respect de agreements and not to the provocations;
Yes to the sincerity and not to duplicity.
To do this, it takes courage, a great strength of soul.
History teaches us that our forces alone are not enough.
  Read Le monde est un hritage    El mundo es un legado   O mundo  um legado  The world is a legacy
 June 22, 2014
Iraq: What does one do with the broken pieces
by Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens rene.wadlow@gmail.com
There is the legendary sign in shops selling china and porcelain "Do not touch; If you break it, you buy it". The same sign should have been hung at the entry to Bagdad rather than portraits of Saddam Husaein. With Iraq in armed confusion as sectors of the country change side, and the Iraqi government seems incapable of an adequate response other than to call for military help, as concerned world citizens we must ask ourselves "What can we do"

The forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have broken down a wall on the frontier between Iraq and Syria as a symbol of abolishing national frontiers to be replaced by a community of the Islamic faithful the umma. In some ways, we are back to the early days of the post-World War One period when France and England tried to re-structure that part of the Ottoman Empire that is now Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel-Palestine, Jordan, Turkey and an ill-defined Kurdistan.

During 1915, Sir Mark Sykes, a Tory M.P. and a specialist on Turkish affairs and Francois Picot, a French political figure with strong links to colonial factions in the French Senate negotiated how to re-structure the Ottoman Empire to the benefit of England and France. Although these were considered "secret negotiations" Sykes reported to Lord Kitchener, the War Minister, and Picot had joined the French Foreign Ministry as war service. However, both operated largely as "free agents". Today Sykes and Picot are recalled for no other achievement than their talent in dividing. The agreement between them was signed in January 1916 but kept in a draw until the war was over. In April 1920 at San Remo, France and England made the divisions official.

History has moved on, but dividing and re-structuring remains the order of the day. The political structures of Israel-Palestine as one state, two states, or one state and occupied territories have confronted the best of mediators and less talented mediators as well. With the war in Syria continuing, there have been suggestions to divide or federate the state into three parts: an Alawite-Shi'ite area, a Sunni area, and a Kurdish area. The same divisions had been suggested for Iraq earlier and are again being discussed in the light of the ISIS advances: a Shi'ite area in the south, Kurds in the north already largely independent and Sunnis in the Middle. Lebanon, although not a federal state, is largely structured on sectarian-geographic divisions.

Constitution-making under duress is not the best way of doing things.

Forced federalism presents even more difficulties than creating a federal state when people are not fighting each other. We have seen the difficulties of proposing federal structures for Ukraine, federalism seen by some as a prelude to the disintegration of the state. The difficulties in the wider Middle East are even greater, as we have three states directly involved: Iraq, Syria, Turkey with a well organized and armed Kurdish community in Iraq and parts of Syria.

The Kurds had expected that a Kurdistan would be recognized after World War One. The issue was raised at a conference to set Middle East frontiers held in June 1923 in Lausanne. The failure of the Kurds to achieve their goal for independence and the forced inclusion of their mountainous homeland within the then newly created states of Iraq, Syria and Turkey caused resentment and unrest. All the Kurds received in 1923 was a pledge to respect minority rights. By 1924, the Turkish government had banned all Kurdish schools, organizations, publications, and religious Sufi brotherhoods. In 1925, there was the first of the Kurdish revolts in Turkey, which, on-and-off, continue to today.

As outsiders but as specialists in federal forms of government, is there anything which we can do to be helpful Maps are deceptive, and what is drawn as Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish area in Iraq and Syria have, in fact, mixed populations. Nor are religious-sectarian divisions the only lines of fracture.

Nevertheless, discussions among Syrians, Iraqis, Turks, Iranians and outside specialists on forms of government may be of greater use than sending Special Forces as 'intelligence' specialists. Such discussions will not be easy to organize or to facilitate but in a period of constitutionsal disorder and flux, such efforts are necessary.

  Read  Iraq: What does one do with the broken pieces
 June 6, 2014
Les 67 plus riches de la plante possdent autant que les 3,5 milliards de plus pauvres !

by Guy Crequie

Guy Crequie

Email: guy.crequie@wanadoo.fr
Guy CREQUIE Global file
Ecrivain français à finalité philosophique. Blog http://guycrequie.blogspot.com
Les 67 plus riches de la plante possdent autant que les 3,5 milliards de plus pauvres !

Selon l'ONG Oxfam, qui en appelle un changement de politique du FMI et de la Banque mondiale, l'austrit est un moteur de l'aggravation des ingalits.

Les 67 personnes les plus fortunes de la plante possdent autant de richesses que la moiti la plus pauvre de la population mondiale, a estim mercredi l'ONG Oxfam, appelant le FMI et la Banque mondiale agir. "Les ingalits extrmes se sont aggraves", a affirm l'organisation de lutte contre la pauvret dans un communiqu, rappelant que le club des plus riches comptait jusque-l 85 membres.

Selon Oxfam, le Fonds montaire international et la Banque mondiale, qui tiennent leur assemble gnrale cette semaine Washington, doivent passer de la "rhtorique" aux actes pour tenter de rduire ce foss. "Le prsident de la Banque Jim Yong Kim et la directrice gnrale du FMI Christine Lagarde ont abondamment parl des dangers poss par l'explosion des ingalits. Cette semaine, nous devons voir des actions concrtes pour appuyer cette rhtorique", a plaid Raymond Offenheiser, prsident d'Oxfam America, cit dans le communiqu.

Le FMI a rcemment publi deux rapports soulignant les mfaits des ingalits sur l'conomie. La Banque mondiale s'est, elle, fix l'objectif de doper les revenus des 40% les plus pauvres partout sur le globe. Mais, selon Oxfam, ces deux institutions doivent dsormais "changer" leurs recommandations et leur politique de prts leurs Etats-membres, en plaidant pour davantage d'investissements dans la sant et l'ducation.

Gardien de l'orthodoxie budgtaire, le FMI dfend traditionnellement les coupes dans les dpenses publiques et la rduction des dficits. "L'austrit aggrave les ingalits et le FMI et la Banque mondiale le savent bien", assure Oxfam, qui appelle galement le Fonds admettre que les stratgies d'vitement fiscal des multinationales sont un des "moteurs" des ingalits.

Source AFP
Transmis par Guy CREQUIE

67 richer of planet have as much as the 3.5 billion poorer!

According To the ONG Oxfam, which calls some with a policy change of the IMF and the World Bank, the austerity is an engine of the aggravation of the inequalities.

The 67 most fortunate people of planet have as many wealths as the poorest half of the world population, estimated ONG Oxfam Wednesday, calling the IMF and the World Bank to be acted. "The extreme inequalities worsened", the organization of fight against poverty in an official statement affirmed, recalling that the club of richest counted 85 members up to that point.

According To Oxfam, the Funds international currency and the World Bank, which hold their general meeting this week in Washington, must pass from "rhetoric" to the acts to try to reduce this ditch. "The president of the Bank Jim Yong Kim and the chief executive officer of the IMF Christine Lagarde abundantly spoke about the dangers posed by the explosion of the inequalities. This week, we must see concrete actions to support this rhetoric", pled Raymond Offenheiser, president d' Oxfam America, quoted in the official statement.

The IMF recently published two reports underlining the misdeeds of the inequalities on the economy. The World Bank, it, set the objective to dope the incomes of the poorest 40% everywhere on the sphere. But, according to Oxfam, these two institutions must from now on "change" their recommendations and their policy of loans to their Member States, while pleading for more investments in health and education.

Guard of budgetary orthodoxy, the IMF traditionally defends the cuts in the public expenditure and the reduction of the deficits. "The austerity worsens the inequalities and the IMF and the World Bank know it well", Oxfam ensures, which also invites the Funds to admit that the strategies of tax avoidance of the multinationals are one of the "engines" of the inequalities.

AFP Source
Transmitted by Guy CREQUIE

Copyright Guy CREQUIE

  Read  Les 67 plus riches de la plante possdent autant que les 3,5 milliards de plus pauvres !




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