Politics and Justice Without Borders
Global Community Newsletter main website


Volume 14 Issue 8 April 2016

Theme for this month

Global Community days of celebration in May

Global Community days of celebration or remembering in May of every year.

Animated movie for the theme:

mp4 (19.2 MB) video Global Community days of celebration or remembering in May  every year.


Taki: producer and editor
Yukie: speech, editor and music

(enlargement Main Frame for front page.)

  • Ministry of Global Peace. Ministry of Global Peace
  • Tribute to Eileen Moore. Eileen Moore, a global citizen who has done so much for Global Community and, was born on May 26 and passed away on March 11.
  • Stop the madness of tar sands oil pipeline construction. Stop the madness of tar sands oil pipeline construction.
  • The Earth's forests provide goods and services essential to human and planetary well-being. The Earth's forests provide goods and services essential to human and planetary well-being.
  • Planetary State of Emergency Day: May 26.Planetary state of emergency.
  • Creation of a biodiversity zone protection all around the planet. Creation of a biodiversity zone protection all around the planet.
  • Global Disarmament Day: May 26. There are several reasons for objecting to war: religious, moral and political.
  • Global Movement to Help Day: May 26. Global Movement to Help main listing.
  • Celebration of Life Day: May 26. Celebration of Life Day.
  • Welcome to your Global Community. Welcome to your Global Community.
  • Global Peace Movement Day: May 26. Peace Movement.

In this Newsletter, Global Community days of celebration or remembering in May of every year are promoted to allow members and the public at large to celebrate those special days in their own community.

(enlargement Welcome to your Global Community.)

Building global communities require understanding of global problems this generation is facing. There are several major problems: conflicts and wars, no tolerance and compassion for one another, world overpopulation, human activities accelerating dangerously the amount of greenhouse gases in the air, as population increases the respect and value of a human life is in decline, insufficient protection and prevention for global health, scarcity of resources and drinking water, poverty, Fauna and Flora species disappearing at a fast rate, global warming and global climate change, global pollution reaching unhealthy peaks in the air, water and soils, deforestation, permanent lost of the Earth's genetic heritage, and the destruction of the global life-support systems and the eco-systems of the planet. We need to build global communities for all life on the planet. We need to build global communities that will manage themselves with the understanding of the above problems.

SoulLife speaking

(enlargement SoulLife speaking.)

There are trillions of galaxies in the Universe, each one may have more than one trillion stars like our Sun, and each star may have planets such as our Solar System. And Life is everywhere in the Universe, and I am SoulLife God. Life is my domain.

It is imperative that Global Community protects Life in all its forms. Global Community has been promoting special days to celebrate in the month of May. They are special days geared toward the protection of Life on our planet. I ask everyone to celebrate those special days.

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

Ugo Bardi, Video By Spencer Cathcart, Shubhda Chaudhary, Finian Cunningham, Pepe Escobar, Natalie Elwell, Robert Fisk, James Hansen, Bob Henson, Dahr Jamail (2), Ambassadeur de la Paix les jeunes, George Kimbrell, Peter Koenig, SarahLazare, Reynard Loki, Jonathan Marshall, Jeff Masters, Lauren McCauley, Ambassadeur de la Paix Alain Million, Nicole Mormann, Padma Nagappan, Global Footprint Network, James Petras, Sharmini Peries, Dr Gideon Polya, Anika Rahman, Paul Craig Roberts, The Saker, Makiko Sato, Sandra Steingraber, Cristina Stella, Jomo KwameSundaram, Yasmine Williams, Sylvia Wu

Ugo Bardi, The Climate Emergency: Time To Switch To Panic Mode? The Climate Emergency: Time To Switch To Panic Mode?
Video By Spencer Cathcart, The Lie We Live The Lie We Live
Shubhda Chaudhary, A Student Uprising In India A Student Uprising In India
Finian Cunningham, Brexit and Good Riddance Brexit and Good Riddance
Pepe Escobar, The New Silk Roads and the Rise of the 'Chinese Dream' The New Silk Roads and the Rise of the 'Chinese Dream'
Yasmine and Natalie Elwell, Do You Care About the Environment? If So, You Should Also Care About Gender
Robert Fisk, State-of-the-art Technology Gives Syrian Army the Edge State-of-the-art Technology Gives Syrian Army the Edge
James Hansen & Makiko , Regional Climate Change And National Responsibilities Regional Climate Change And National Responsibilities
Jeff Masters and Bob Henson, February Smashes Earth's All-Time Global Heat Record by a Jaw-Dropping Margin February Smashes Earth's All-Time Global Heat Record by a Jaw-Dropping Margin
Dahr Jamail, Freak Storms and Butterfly Die-Offs: Welcome to the Future We've Been Warning You About Freak Storms and Butterfly Die-Offs: Welcome to the Future We've Been Warning You About
Dahr Jamail, Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach Highest Point in 15 Million Years Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach Highest Point in 15 Million Years
Ambassadeur de la Paix les jeunes, Un nouveau project de Paix pour les jeunes de monde entier Un nouveau project de Paix pour les jeunes de monde entier
George Kimbrell, Sylvia Wu, Cristina Stella, The U.S. Has Approved Industrial Aquaculture in Deep Offshore Waters for the First Time — and It’s a Huge Step Backwards. The U.S. Has Approved Industrial Aquaculture in Deep Offshore Waters for the First Time — and It’s a Huge Step Backwards.
Peter Koenig, GMOs – Planned Sterilization of Humanity? GMOs – Planned Sterilization of Humanity?
Sarah Lazare, Exporting Death: When It Comes to Arming the Planet, America Is Unrivaled Exporting Death: When It Comes to Arming the Planet, America Is Unrivaled
Reynard Loki, Battle Lines Are Drawn in One of the Biggest Fights Against Toxic Chemicals in Decades Battle Lines Are Drawn in One of the Biggest Fights Against Toxic Chemicals in Decades
Jonathan Marshall, Taking Aim at Russia’s ‘Underbelly’ Taking Aim at Russia’s ‘Underbelly’
Lauren McCauley, New Arctic Battlelines Drawn As Industry Exploits Fragile Seas New Arctic Battlelines Drawn As Industry Exploits Fragile Seas
Ambassadeur de la Paix Alain Million, La paix est notre avenir A paz é o nosso futuro Peace is our future La paix est notre avenir A paz é o nosso futuro Peace is our future
Nicole Mormann, How Just One Consequence of Climate Change Will Cause 500,000 to Die by 2050 How Just One Consequence of Climate Change Will Cause 500,000 to Die by 2050
Padma Nagappan, Methane Discovered in Drinking Water Near Fracking Wells Methane Discovered in Drinking Water Near Fracking Wells
Global Footprint Network, National Footprint Accounts 2016 are out! Carbon makes up 60% of world’s Ecological Footprint National Footprint Accounts 2016 are out! Carbon makes up 60% of world’s Ecological Footprint
James Petras, Global Economic, Political and Military Configurations Global Economic, Political and Military Configurations
Sharmini Peries, Four Billion People Experience Water Scarcity Four Billion People Experience Water Scarcity
Dr Gideon Polya, Years Left For Zero Emissions By Country – Half Have Exceeded Their Share Of The World's Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget Years Left For Zero Emissions By Country – Half Have Exceeded Their Share Of The World's Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget
Anika Rahman, To Prevent a Global Food Crisis, Women Need to Have the Same Access to Resources as Men To Prevent a Global Food Crisis, Women Need to Have the Same Access to Resources as Men
Paul Craig Roberts, Russia’s Military Aims Achieved, Putin Switches To Diplomacy Russia’s Military Aims Achieved, Putin Switches To Diplomacy
The Saker, Could Russia Still Become an Ally of the West? Could Russia Still Become an Ally of the West?
Sandra Steingraber, Bill McKibben and Dozens More Arrested in Ongoing Campaign Against Proposed Gas Storage (VIDEO) Bill McKibben and Dozens More Arrested in Ongoing Campaign Against Proposed Gas Storage (VIDEO)
Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Some Real Costs of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Nearly Half a Million Jobs Lost in the US Alone Some Real Costs of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Nearly Half a Million Jobs Lost in the US Alone


Articles and papers from authors


Day data received Theme or issue Read article or paper
 February 23, 2016
Exporting Death: When It Comes to Arming the Planet, America Is Unrivaled

by Sarah Lazare, Information Clearing House

The United States is driving the global surge in militarization, as the number one arms exporter over the past five years—during which it shipped deadly weapons to at least 96 countries—according to a disturbing new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

From 2011 to 2015, the U.S. oversaw the dramatic rise in weapons transfers, the global volume of which jumped a stunning 14 percent compared to levels seen during the previous five years.

The Middle East was the top recipient of American arms, and within the region, Saudi Arabia was the number one importer. These shipments continued despite human rights calls for an arms embargo, over concerns that the Saudi-led coalition is committing widespread war crimes in Yemen.

In fact, SIPRI researchers note that the coalition has been able to continue its relentless aerial assault of Yemen thanks primarily to U.S. and European shipments. “A coalition of Arab states is putting mainly U.S.- and European-sourced advanced arms into use in Yemen,” said Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program.

Worldwide, U.S. arms exports over the past five years jumped 27 percent over 2006-2010 levels. Weapons exports are poised to rise even more.

“As regional conflicts and tensions continue to mount, the U.S. remains the leading global arms supplier by a significant margin,” said Dr. Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program. “[T]he U.S. arms industry has large outstanding export orders, including for a total of 611 F-35 combat aircraft to 9 states.”

Coming in behind the United States, Russia, China, France, and Germany were in the top five exporters. The top five importers were India, Saudi Arabia, China, the UAE and Australia.

The U.S. led the world in arms exports during a period of rising conflict and war, leading to levels of human displacement not seen since World War II.

The United Nations Refugee Agency estimated last year that one out of every 122 people on the planet has been violently uprooted from their homes by war and persecution, thereby forced to become refugees, asylum seekers, or internally displaced people. If all of these displaced people formed a country, it would be the 24th largest in the world. Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, Sarah co-edited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at 

  Read Exporting Death: When It Comes to Arming the Planet, America Is Unrivaled
 February 25, 2016
Brexit and Good Riddance

by Finian Cunningham, Information Clearing House

" -  For many European citizens, the 28-member-state Union has turned out to be a huge disappointment. It is far from the progressive, socialist bloc that many had once envisaged.

One of the reasons for the EU’s historic failure is Britain. Ever since the United Kingdom joined the European project, it has been a largely negative force, carping about workers’ rights, equality laws and the principle of inter-state solidarity. Now it is to vote on whether to finally leave the Union – the so-called Brexit.

When Britain first applied to join the then six-member European Economic Community back in 1963, it was rejected by co-founder France under President Charles De Gaulle. De Gaulle’s shrewd reasoning was reportedly that “the British are fundamentally hostile to the European initiative”.

With the French leader later out of office, Britain finally got its way and acquired membership in 1973.

But you would wonder why it ever wanted to join? For in the more than four decades of membership, Britain has been running a continual battle of dissent against Brussels, the Belgian capital where the bloc’s administration is centered. The EEC has since evolved into the European Union which now comprises 28 states.


British complaints towards the EU have always been most vocal from its pro-business, rightwing Conservative party, which tends to be the more dominant governing party. A recurring protest from the Tories is that British sovereignty is being undermined by the plurality of European states.

Britain, it seems, wants to be part of Europe for partial economic benefits, but when it comes to any other issue, London has always wanted to go it alone. Britain didn’t join the single currency system, and it was never part of the passport-free travel arrangement that most of the EU have participated in. It wants special exemptions for the City of London as a free-wheeling financial centre, and, as shown in Prime Minister David Cameron’s latest deal with Brussels, Britain has arrogated a new raft of “opt-out” privileges, giving it a “special status” within the EU.

This British dissent has been a hallmark under avowedly socialist Labour governments too, albeit less vituperative, which shows that there is something inherently frigid about Britain towards Europe. De Gaulle was right after all, it seems, in his assessment that British rulers were congenitally hostile to all things European.

Britain’s malign influence on the EU’s development is perhaps best seen in the area of foreign policy, and in particular in its subservience towards Washington. Europe has shown itself to be nothing more than a collection of vassal states that kowtow to American demands.

Rather than pursuing an independent, critical stance on world affairs, the EU is just a pathetic branch of Washington’s global reach.

A classic illustration of this obsequious syndrome is the impasse over the past two years with Russia. Instead of growing as natural partners with Russia, Europe is in throes of a bizarre standoff. This is because Washington has accused Russia under Vladimir Putin of all sorts of ridiculous transgressions, including being a threat to European security, and the EU unblinkingly follows the Americans.

Many European citizens, workers and businesses do not agree with this demonization of Russia. Indeed, they see it as a travesty and a reckless drive to war.

Yet the EU leadership has toed Washington’s belligerent line towards Moscow and adopted a host of self-defeating economic sanctions. These sanctions have hit European citizens much harder than Americans. But the EU in its subordination to Washington persists with this futile and unnecessary hostility toward Russia.

This irrational deference to the US by the EU can be traced to Britain’s ardent Atlanticist affiliation. Notice that in the confrontation over Ukraine, for example, it is Britain that typically echoes Washington’s hardline on Moscow, which has the effect of cohering the other EU governments behind a US-British spearhead.

What the Americans and British call the “special relationship” is really this: British governments perform as Washington’s stalking horse in Europe.

Britain’s function was spelled out in a recent article by Richard Haass, who is president of the influential Council on Foreign Relations, based in Washington. On the possibility of Britain leaving the EU, Haass said it was “highly undesirable”. He wrote: “One reason why the US values its ties to the UK as much as it does is the UK’s role in Europe. Britain is important not just as a bilateral partner, but because more often than not it can be counted on to argue for and support positions in Brussels consistent with, or at least not far from, those of the US.”

Put another way, if Britain were not a member of the EU, then Washington’s influence on European policies would be greatly diminished. And that is why Washington is now urging Britain to remain within the Union as the forthcoming British referendum on its future with the EU looms on June 23.

There are many other illustrations of how Britain has served as Washington’s malign surrogate in shaping the EU to conform with its geopolitical ambitions. One is how Britain is a staunch supporter of the US-led NATO military alliance. Disturbingly for independent-minded Europeans, the EU has almost become a clone of NATO. Most of the alliance’s 28 members are European. And it is Britain that has eagerly pushed for its expansion into eastern Europe, with bogus jingoistic claims that Russia poses an existential threat.

Then there is America’s rampage of illegal wars for regime change over the past two decades. In every one of these, from Iraq to Afghanistan, from Libya to Syria, Britain has ridden shotgun with its American boss. This British complicity has, in turn, contaminated Europe with Washington’s global criminality. And bequeathed Europe the fallout from these wars, in the form of terrorist blowback and an unprecedented refugee crisis.

Of course, it is not all Britain’s fault. European leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Francois Hollande have shown odious servility towards Washington in relation to Russia. Europe needs to grow a political backbone.

Nevertheless, it seems fair to say that Europe would be a far more progressive and constructive, independent power were it not for Britain’s continual dragging it back into a reactionary, pro-Washington fold.

The EU has indeed gone badly awry from the vision of a democratic, independent confederation. It has become, perhaps irredeemably, a vassal of American one-percent-type capitalism and warmongering imperialism. Maybe the people of Europe need to break up this lily-livered leviathan and to rebuild again.

One start to reconstructing a new Europe would be for Britain to exit. How can a viable Europe be ever built with such a delinquent force in its midst?

A so-called Brexit may herald the break-up of the EU as we know it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as the EU has lost its way over many years. A shake-up is long overdue right down to the core.

Paradoxically, carping old Britain, by leaving, may actually do Europe a favor in that it will presage a proper reconstruction of the EU – one that is independent in foreign relations and not just a lapdog to Washington. And in this new EU, Britain would be excluded.

So, let’s have a Brexit. And good riddance!

  Read Brexit and Good Riddance
 February 25, 2016
The New Silk Roads and the Rise of the 'Chinese Dream'

by Pepe Escobar, Information Clearing House

Beijing is advancing a Chinese-led globalization that will challenge U.S. hegemony both regionally and globally.

Earlier last week, the first Chinese commercial train, with 32 containers, arrived in Tehran after a less than 14-day journey from the massive warehouse of Yiwu in Zhejiang, eastern China, crossing Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.

This is a 10,400 km-long trip. Crucially, it’s also no less than 30 days shorter compared to the sea route from Shanghai to Bandar Abbas. And we’re not even talking about high-speed rail yet – which in a few years will be installed all along from eastern China to Iran and onward to Turkey and, crucially, Western Europe, enabling 500-plus container trains to crisscross Eurasia in a flash.    

When Mohsen Pour Seyed Aghaei, president of Iran Railways, remarked that, “countries along the Silk Road are striving to revive the ancient network of trade routes,” he was barely touching the surface in what is an earth-shattering process. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Iran only last month - the first global leader to do so after nuclear sanctions were lifted. Then the heirs to the former Silk Road powers – imperial Persia and imperial China – duly signed agreements to boost bilateral trade to $600 billion over the next decade.

And that is just the beginning.

Trade Wars and Air/Sea Battles

To frame the earth-shattering process in a strategic perspective, from the Chinese point of view, it’s enlightening to revert to a very important speech delivered last summer by General Qiao Liang at the University of Defense, China’s top military school. It’s as if Liang’s formulations would be coming from the mouth of the dragon - Xi - himself.  

Beijing’s leadership assesses that the U.S. won’t get into a war against China within the next 10 years. Pay attention to the time frame: 2025 is when Xi expects China to have turned into a “moderately prosperous” society as part of the renewed Chinese Dream. And Xi for his part would have fulfilled his mandate – arguably basking in glory once enjoyed only by the Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping.  

The secret for the next 10 years, as General Liang framed it, is for China to overhaul its economy (a work in progress) and internationalize the yuan. That also implies striking an Asian-wide free trade pact – which is obviously not the Chinese-deprived American TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), but the Chinese-driven RCEP. 

IN DEPTH: The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Putting Profit Above People

General Liang directly connects the internationalization of the yuan to something way beyond the New Silk Roads, or One Belt, One Road, according to the official Chinese denomination. He talks in terms of a Northeast Asia free trade agreement, but in fact what’s in play, and what China aims at, is the trans-Asia free trade agreement.

As a consequence, a “ripple effect” will divide the world:

“If only a third of the global money is in the hands of the dollar, how can the U.S. currency maintain its leadership? Could a hollowed out United States, left without monetary leadership, still be a global leader?”

So the decline of the U.S. dollar is the key issue, according to the Beijing leadership, of China’s “recent troubles” under which loom  “the shadow of the United States.”

Enter the U.S. “pivot to Asia.” Beijing clearly interprets its goal as “to balance out the momentum of China’s rising power today.” And that leads to the discussion of the former AirSea Battle concept (it has now “evolved” into another mongrel), which General Liang qualifies as an “intractable dilemma” for the U.S.

“The strategy primarily reflects the fact that the U.S. military today is weakening,” said Liang. “U.S. troops used to think that it could use airstrikes and the Navy against China. Now the U.S. finds neither the Air Force nor the Navy by themselves can gain advantages against China.”

Only this previous paragraph would be enough to put in perspective the whole, tumultuous cat and mouse game of Chinese advances and American bullying across the South China Sea. Beijing is very much aware that Washington cannot “offset some advantages the Chinese military has established, such as the ability to destroy space systems or attack aircraft carriers. The United States must then come up with 10 years of development and a more advanced combat system to offset China's advantages. This means that Americans may schedule a war for 10 years later.”

Have War, Will Plan

So, no major war up to 2025, which leaves Xi and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership free to advance like a juggernaut. Observers who follow the moves in Beijing in real time qualify it as “breathtaking “ or “a sight to behold.” The Beltway remains mostly clueless.      

At the onset of the Chinese Year of the Monkey, the CCP under Xi’s orders released a sensational cartoon hip hop video that went mega-viral. Talk about Chinese soft power; that’s how Xi’s platform for his 10-year term, up to 2023, was announced to the masses. 

Enter the Four Comprehensives: 1) to develop a “moderately prosperous society” (translated into a GDP per capita of US$10,000); 2) Keep deepening reforms (especially of the economic model); 3) Govern by the rule of law (that’s tricky; but essentially means the law as interpreted by the CCP); 4) Eliminate corruption from the CCP (a long work in progress).

None of this, of course, implies following a Western model; on the contrary, it shows off Beijing counteracting Western soft power on every domain.  

And then, inevitably, all roads, sooner or later, lead to One Belt, One Road. And yet General Liang sees it as way beyond a globalization process, “the truly American globalization,” which he qualifies as “the globalization of dollars.” He – and the Beijing leadership – do not see the China-driven One Belt, One Road as “an integration into the global economic system. To say that the dollar will continue its globalization and integration is a misunderstanding. As a rising great power, One Belt, One Road is the initial stage of China globalization.”

Radically ambitious does not even begin to describe it. So as much as One Belt, One Road is the external vector of the Chinese Dream, bent on integrating the whole of Eurasia on a trade and commerce “win-win” basis, it is also “by far the best strategy China can put forward. It is a hedge strategy against the eastward move of the U.S.”

There we have it – mirroring what I have been writing since One Belt, One Road was launched. This is China's “hedge strategy of turning its back to the U.S. eastward shift: You push in one direction; I go in the opposite direction. Didn’t you pressure me to it? I go west, neither to avoid you nor because I am afraid, but to very cleverly defuse the pressure you gave me on the east.” Welcome to China pivoting West.

Feel Free to Encircle Yourself

General Liang, predictably, prefers to concentrate on the military, not commercial aspects. And he could not spell it out more clearly.

“Given that China's sea power is still weak, the first choice of One Belt, One Road should be to compete on land,” he said. Liang frames the top terrain of competition as the “belt” – overland New Silk Road routes; and that leads to worrying, still unanswered questions about the Chinese army “expeditionary capabilities.”

General Liang does not expand on this competition – arguably with the U.S. - along the New Silk Road belt. What he believes to be certain though, is “that in choosing China as its rival, America chose the wrong opponent and the wrong direction. Because in the future, the real challenge to the United States is not China; it is the United States itself, and the United States will bury itself.”

And how will that happen? Because of financial capitalism; it’s as if Gen. Liang has been reading Michael Hudson and Paul Craig Roberts (as he certainly does). He notes how “through the virtual economy, the United States has already eaten up all the profits of capitalism.”

And what about that “burial”? Well, it will be orchestrated by “the Internet, big data, and the cloud” as they are “pushed to the extreme” and will “gain a life of their own and oppose the government of the U.S.”

Who would have thought it? It’s as if the Chinese don’t even have to play go anymore. They just need to let the adversary encircle itself.

Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia Times Online, where he wrote the column The Roving Eye from 2000 to 2014. Born in Brazil, he's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, and has lived in London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Washington, Bangkok and Hong Kong. Even before 9/11 he specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central and East Asia, with an emphasis on Big Power geopolitics and energy wars. He is the author of "Globalistan" (2007), "Red Zone Blues" (2007), "Obama does Globalistan" (2009) and "Empire of Chaos" (2014), all published by Nimble Books. His latest book is "2030", also by Nimble Books, out in December 2015. He currently lives between Paris and Bangkok. Follow him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pepe.escobar.77377

  Read The New Silk Roads and the Rise of the 'Chinese Dream'
 February 29, 2016
State-of-the-art Technology Gives Syrian Army the Edge

by Robert Fisk , Information Clearing House


The government has lost over 60,000 men since the war began, but new Russian equipment is helping turn the tide

By Robert Fisk

You can see the Syrian army’s spanking new Russian T-90 tanks lined up in their new desert livery scarcely 100 miles from Isis’s Syrian “capital” of Raqqa.

There are new Russian-made trucks alongside them, and a lot of artillery and – surely Isis’s spies are supposed to see this – plenty of Syrian soldiers walking beside the perimeter wire beside Russian soldiers wearing floppy military hats against the sun, the kind they used in the old days in the summer heat of Afghanistan in the 1980s. There’s even a Russian general based at the Isriyah military base, making sure that Syrian tank crews receive the most efficient training on the T-90s.

No, Russian ground troops are not going to fight Isis. That was never the intention. The Russian air force attacks Isis from the air; the Syrians, the Iranians, the Afghan Shia Muslims from north-eastern Afghanistan, the Iraqi Shias and several hundred Pakistani Shias must attack Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra on the ground. 

But the Russians have to be up in the desert to the east of the Aleppo-Hama-Homs-Damascus axis, both to train the Syrian tank crews and maintain an eastern base of forward air controllers to guide the Sukhoi bombers on to their night-time targets.

Everyone on the Syrian front lines will tell you that the Syrian air force bombs its enemies only in clear weather. When the winter clouds descend and the rain falls across northern and eastern Syria, the Russians take over. 

“The Syrians are low enough to see – the Russians, when they come, you never see them,” as one constant visitor to the war fronts put it with military simplicity. No wonder senior Russian officers are now also attached to the Syrian army command in Aleppo.  Vladimir Putin doesn’t do things by halves.

Yet the most important military support  the Russians have given to the Syrians is not the tanks – impressive though they look – but the technology that goes with them.

Syrian officers have been shown how the new T-90 anti-missile system causes rockets to veer off course only yards from the tanks when fired directly at them. Is this the weapon that might defeat the mass rocket assaults of Isis and Nusra? Perhaps. Even more important for the Syrians, however, are the new Russian night-vision motion sensors, and the electronic surveillance-reconnaissance equipment which enabled the government army to smash through the Nusra defences in the mountainous far north-west of Syria, breaking the rebel supply lines from Turkey to Aleppo.

In an army that has lost well over 60,000 dead in almost five years of hard fighting, Syria’s officers have suddenly discovered that the new Russian technology has coincided with a rapid lowering of their casualties. This may be one reason for the steady trickle of old “Free Syrian Army” deserters back to the ranks of the government forces, depleting even further David Cameron’s 70,000-strong army of “moderate” ghost soldiers. Intriguingly, since the start of the war in 2011, a far higher percentage of Syrian police and political security personnel have gone across to Bashar al-Assad’s enemies than have soldiers in the regular army. There have been 5,000 security personnel defections out of a total force of 28,000 police.

The Russians are in a unique position among Syrian ground forces; they can train the Syrians how to use the new tanks and then watch how the T-90s perform  without having to suffer any casualties themselves. Originally, there were plans to recapture Palmyra, the Roman city already partly vandalised by Isis, but the difficulties of the flat desert terrain have persuaded the Syrians that offensives in the north to cut off all rebel routes from Turkey into Syria will be far more worthwhile.

No wonder the Turks are now laying down shellfire amid Syrian forces along their mutual border. The Russians, of course, find it far easier to train men to fight in cities or mountains – environments in which they themselves have fought – than in deserts, in which no Russian military personnel have had experience since Gamal Abdel Nasser’s war in Yemen. 

The offensives that retook the Shia villages of Nubl and Zahra last month were of great interest to the Russian military. For the first time, Syrian army Special Forces, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters operated together with Syrian tanks and helicopters, blasting their way through 20 miles of villages and open countryside in just eight days.

But the statistics of foreign forces fighting for the Syrian regime appear to have been grossly exaggerated in the West. There are fewer than 5,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria – this includes advisers as well as soldiers – and the other 5,000 foreign fighters include not only Afghans and Hezbollah but Pakistani Shia Muslims as well.

Despite all the boasts of Saudi Arabia that it has formed a massive, if hopelessly untrained, “coalition against terror”, it seems that the Syrians, Iranians and Hezbollah have managed to operate together in difficult, rainy terrain and win their first major joint battle. Iranian forces are now being used on the front lines for the first time, principally around Aleppo. Their first advance began in the south Aleppo countryside in November. Officially, they and the Syrians were said to be planning to open the old international highway from Aleppo to Hama, but the real plan was to break the sieges of the Shia villages of Fuah and Kafraya.

In the eastern countryside, Colonel Suheil Hassan, the “Tiger” whom some of the Syrian military regard as their Rommel, has been heading north to end an Isis siege on a Syrian airbase.

But what of the Kurds, whose advance southwards has also endangered those rebel supply routes to Aleppo?  The Syrians are grateful for any Kurdish help they can get. But few in the military have forgotten the chilling events of 2013, when retreating Syrians sought refuge with Kurdish forces after the battle for the Mineq airbase. The Kurds demanded a vast tranche of weapons from the Syrian army in return for their men – soldiers for ammunition – in which millions of rounds of AK-47 and machine-gun ammunition and thousands of rounds of rocket-propelled grenades were sought in return for the release of the soldiers.

But the Kurds wanted to persuade Nusra to return Kurdish prisoners, and offered the senior Syrian officers from Mineq to Nusra in return for the captives. Nusra agreed, but once the Kurds handed over the Syrian officers, the Islamist rebels – who had lost around 300 of their own men in the Mineq battle – at once killed all the Syrian officers the Kurds had given them, shooting them in the head.

Among them was the acting Syrian commander at Mineq, Colonel Naji Abu Shaar of the Syrian army’s 17th Division. Events like these will not endear the Kurds to the Syrian army in future years.

Meanwhile, the Syrians continue to lose high-ranking officers in battle. At least six generals have been killed in combat during the Syrian war, allowing the army to proclaim that their top men lead from the front. 

The commander of Syria’s Special Forces was killed in Idlib, and the commander of Syrian military intelligence in the east of the country was killed in Deir al-Zour. Major-General Mohsen Mahlouf died in battle near Palmyra. General Saleh, a close friend and colleague of Colonel “Tiger” Hassan, took on the suicide bombers of al-Qaeda in the Sheikh Najjar Industrial City outside Aleppo a year ago.

He told me that suicide bombers killed 23 of his men in one vast explosion there. I met him afterwards, and thought at the time that he had adopted a blithe – almost foolhardy – disregard of death.  Just a month ago, he drove over an IED bomb which blew off the lower half of his right leg. These are hard men, many of whom trained in a Syrian military college whose front gate legend reads: “Welcome to the school of heroism, where the gods of war are made.” Chilling stuff.

  Read State-of-the-art Technology Gives Syrian Army the Edge
 March 1, 2016
Some Real Costs of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Nearly Half a Million Jobs Lost in the US Alone

by Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Information Clearing House

- The Trans-Pacifc Partnership (TPP) Agreement, recently agreed to by twelve Pacifc Rim countries led by the United States,1 promises to ease many restrictions on cross-border transactions and harmonize regulations. Proponents of the agreement have claimed significant economic benefits, citing modest overall net GDP gains, ranging from half of one percent in the United States to 13 percent in Vietnam after fifteen years. Their claims, however, rely on many unjustified assumptions, including full employment in every country and no resulting impacts on working people’s incomes, with more than 90 percent of overall growth gains due to ‘non-trade measures’ with varying impacts.

A recent GDAE Working Paper finds that with more realistic methodological assumptions, critics of the TPP indeed have reason to be concerned. Using the trade projections for the most optimistic growth forecasts, we find that the TPP is more likely to lead to net employment losses in many countries (771,000 jobs lost overall, with 448,000 in the United States alone) and higher inequality in all country groupings. Declining worker purchasing power would weaken aggregate demand, slowing economic growth. The United States (-0.5 percent) and Japan (-0.1 percent) are projected to suffer small net income losses, not gains, from the TPP.

This GDAE Policy Brief is intended to help clarify the differences with other modeling studies and to present our findings in a less technical manner.

Flaws in TPP Economic Projections

Optimistic claims about the TPP’s economic impacts are largely based on economic modeling projections published by the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics.2 Its researchers used a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model to project net GDP gains for all countries involved. These figures have been widely cited in many countries to justify TPP approval and ratification. Updated estimates, released in early 2016 and incorporated into the World Bank’s latest report on the global economy,3 now stress income gains for the United States of $131 billion, or 0.5 percent of GDP, and a 9.1 percent increase in exports by 2030.4

The projections methodology assumes away critical economic problems and boosts economic growth estimates with unfounded assumptions. The assumption of full employment is particularly problematic. Workers will inevitably be displaced due to the TPP, but CGE modelers assume that all dismissed workers will be promptly rehired elsewhere in the national economy as if part of labor ‘churning’. The full-employment assumption thus inflates projected GDP gains by assuming away job losses and adjustment costs.

The modelers also dismiss increases in inequality by assuming no changes to wage and profit shares of national income. Again, this is not supported by empirical evidence, as past trade agreements have tended to reduce labor’s share.

Finally, foreign direct investment (FDI) is assumed to increase dramatically, which contributes a significant boost to economic growth in the Peterson Institute projections, accounting for more than 25 percent of projected U.S. economic gains in the recent update. This assumes that: 1) income to capital owners will be invested; and 2) this will result in broad-based growth. Neither is supported by the evidence. A U.S. Department of Agriculture study,5 which did not assume such FDI-related investment gains, found zero growth for the United States and very modest growth elsewhere at best.

The methodology of the Peterson study is flawed; consequently, growth and income gains are overstated, and the costs to working people, consumers and governments are understated, ignored or even presented as benefits. Job losses and declining or stagnant labor incomes are excluded from consideration, even though they lower economic growth by reducing aggregate demand.

Some economists have pointed out6 additional misleading findings in the most recent Peterson Institute update:

• U.S. income gains of 0.5 percent from TPP in 2030 – This is raised from the institute’s previous 0.4 percent, mainly by extending the implementation period from ten to fifteen years. In any case, added growth of 0.5 percent is very small, about 0.03 percent per year over fifteen years.

• Exports rise by 9.1 percent, but so do imports, because the model assumes fixed trade balances. This excludes, by assumption, the problems associated with rising trade deficits, which have been common after previous trade agreements.

• All displaced workers are absorbed immediately and costlessly in other sectors – again, by assumption. The paper does acknowledge that manufacturing employment will increase more slowly because of the TPP, and that some 53,700 more U.S. jobs per year will be “displaced” annually. But they view this as a small addition to normal labor market “churn.”

More Realistic Economic Projections

We employed the UN Global Policy Model (GPM) to generate more realistic projections of likely TPP impacts. Unlike most CGE models, the GPM incorporates more realistic assumptions about economic adjustment and income distribution, assessing the TPP impact on each of them as well as on economic growth over a ten-year period. Importantly, it does not assume large unexplained FDI surges or investment, growth and income gains due to nontrade measures. The modeling results are summarized in the table.


To facilitate comparison, we used the Peterson Institute’s projected estimates of the TPP’s impact on exports, applying the macroeconomic model to assess the efects of projected TPP trade increases.7 The GPM analyzes macroeconomic sectors – primary commodities, energy, manufacturing and services – but does not contain data on single markets (such as car parts or poultry).

The main fndings include:

• The TPP will generate net GDP losses in the USA and Japan. Ten years after the treaty comes into force, US GDP is projected to be 0.54 percent lower than it would be without the TPP. Similarly, the TPP is projected to reduce Japan’s growth by 0.12 percent.

• For other TPP countries, economic gains will be negligible – less than one percent over ten years for developed countries, and less than three percent over the decade for developing countries. Chile and Peru’s combined gain of 2.84 percent comes to only about a quarter of one percent per year.

• The TPP is projected to lead to employment losses overall, with a total of 771,000 jobs lost. The United States will be hardest hit, losing 448,000 jobs.

• The TPP will also likely lead to higher inequality due to declining labor shares of national incomes. In the United States, labor shares are projected to fall by 1.31 percent over ten years, continuing an ongoing multi-decade downward trend.


In sum, the TPP will increase pressures on labor incomes, weakening domestic demand in all participating countries, in turn leading to lower employment and higher inequality. Even though countries with lower labor costs may gain greater market shares and small GDP increases, employment is still likely to fall and inequality to increase.

In fact, most goods trade among TPP countries has already been liberalized by earlier agreements. Instead of promoting growth and employment, the TPP is mainly about imposing new rules favored by large multinational corporations. The TPP greatly strengthens investor and intellectual property rights (IPRs), while weakening national regulation, e.g. over financial services.

The TPP will strengthen IPRs for big pharmaceutical, information technology, media, and other firms, e.g. by allowing pharmaceutical companies longer monopolies on patented medicines, keeping cheaper generics of the market, and blocking the development and availability of similar new medicines.

The TPP would also strengthen foreign investor rights at the expense of local businesses and the public interest. The TPP’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system will oblige governments to compensate foreign investors for losses of expected profits in binding private arbitration.

These pro-investor measures impose significant costs, especially on developing countries. They will exert a chilling efect on important government responsibilities to promote national development and protect the public interest.

Our modeling suggests that TPP skeptics, concerned about the agreement’s impacts on growth, labor incomes, employment and inequality, have good reason to doubt optimistic projections. Our results show negative impacts in all these areas, particularly in the United States. Legislatures in TPP countries should carefully consider these findings and their implications before approving the agreement.

Jomo Kwame Sundaram, an Assistant Secretary General working on Economic Development in the United Nations system during 2005-15, and was awarded the 2007 Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. Originally published as a Global Development and Environment Institute Policy Brief


1 The participating countries – Canada, United States, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Australia and New Zealand – have finalized and signed the text of the agreement, but the treaty must be ratified in all of them before it can come into force.

2 Peter Petri, Michael Plummer and Fan Zhai (2012). “The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Asia-Pacific Integration: A Quantitative Assessment”. Policy Analyses in International Economics 98, Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington, DC. The Peterson Institute study has also been criticized by others, e.g. http://www.sustainabilitynz.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/EconomicGainsandCostsfromtheTPP_2014.pdf.

3 See Global Economic Prospects, Spillovers Amid Weak Recovery, January 2016, The World Bank Group, Washington, DC.

4 Peter Petri and Michael Plummer, “The Economic Efects of the Trans-Pacifc Partnership: New Estimates”, January 2016, Working Paper 16-2, Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington, DC.

5 See http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/1692509/err176.pdf

6 See, for example, Dean Baker, “Peterson Institute Study Shows TPP Will Lead to $357 Billion Increase in Annual Imports”, January 26, 2016.

7 A robust debate over such modeling followed the release of the GDAE paper, with a critique from Robert Lawrence for the Peterson Institute (“Studies of TPP: Which is Credible?”) and two responses from GDAE: “Are the Peterson Institute Studies Reliable Guides to Likely TPP Effects?” and “Modeling TPP: A response to Robert Z. Lawrence.” GDAE clarifed that the GPM is fully documented in the UNCTAD publication, “The UN Global Policy Model: Technical Description.”

  Read Some Real Costs of the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Nearly Half a Million Jobs Lost in the US Alone
 March 1, 2016
GMOs – Planned Sterilization of Humanity?

by Peter Koenig, Information Clearing House

Severe health risks of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) are not new. Studies by scientists among others in France, Germany, Austria, since at least the 1990s, pointing to several levels of health dangers to mankind abound. A recent study released by Egyptian researchers found that rats fed a GMO diet suffer from infertility, among other health issues. In the US similar studies were muzzled by Monsanto and the Monsanto staffed FDA. In a 2011 paper the Institute for Responsible Technology – IRT refers to 19 animal studies linking GMOs to mostly liver and kidney organ disruption.

In the early 2000 the first Russian studies revealed reduction in fertility and birth defects in hamsters and rats. In a 2013 Russian study, scientist have discovered that mammals that eat GMO foodstuffs have difficulties to reproduce. The study concluded that “Campbell hamsters that have a fast reproduction rate were fed for two years with ordinary soya beans which are widely used in agriculture and those contain different percentages of GMOs. Another group of hamsters, the control group, was fed with pure soya [found in Serbia, as 95% of soya in the world is transgenic].”

According to Dr. Alexei Surov, who led the study on behalf of the National Association for Gene Security,

“We selected several groups of hamsters, kept them in pairs in cells and gave them ordinary food as always. We did not add anything for one group, but the other was fed with soya that contained no GMO components, while the third group [was fed] with some content of GMOs and the fourth one with increased amounts of GMOs….. Originally everything went smoothly. However, we noticed quite a serious effect when we selected new pairs from their cubs and continued to feed them as before. These pairs’ growth rate was slower, and [they] reached their sexual maturity slowly. When we got some of their cubs, we formed the new pairs of the third generation. We failed to get cubs from these pairs which were fed with GMO foodstuffs. It was proven that these pairs lost their ability to give birth to their cubs.”

Sterilization from GMOs is not an accident. Monsanto had planned this since the 1960s. Henry Kissinger, the protégé of the Rockefeller Foundation and one of the driving forces – still today – of the Bilderberg Society, not only is the author of the infamous proclamation in the early seventies:

‘Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; and who controls money can control the world;’

he also said,

‘Depopulation should be the highest priority of foreign policy towards the Third World.’

This is still a (mostly unspoken) key objective of the elite, associated through different semi-secret organizations like the Bilderbergers, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Trilateral Commission, the British Chatham House, the Economic Forum (Davos), and others.

GMO Seeds

GMOs are based on two strands; one involves insect resistance, the other is herbicide resistant and more dangerous, because it is glyphosate-tolerant. Glyphosate, known under its trade name ‘Roundup’, is however absorbed in the food fibers and has devastating health effects. The herbicide is an endocrine-disruptor, a chemical that at certain doses can interfere with the hormone system of mammals. These disruptions may cause cancer, infertility, miscarriage, birth defects and full sterility by the third generation, as the Russian study clearly demonstrated.

In his eye-opening 2007 book Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, F. William Engdahl points to food control and depopulation as the strategic key objectives of GMOs as put forward by Henry Kissinger already half a century ago. A less populated Third World will give the US and world elite easier and cheaper access to needed raw materials, allowing the ‘chosen few’ to maintain a lifestyle of exuberant luxury and resources abuse.

Ellen Brown, referring to Gary Null’s documentary Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs, quotes Dr. Bruce Lipton,

“We are leading the world into the sixth mass extinction of life on this planet. . . . Human behavior is undermining the web of life.”.

Worse is to come, if and when the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement is ratified by the US and its eleven Pacific partners. The TPP – much like the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, linking the US with the 28 EU countries) – is negotiated behind closed doors. The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique. The two monster trade agreements would deprive governments from regulating transnational corporations’ activities, to the point where the rights of corporations would supersede sovereign nations laws. Corporations would be able to set up private courts that may rule a country liable for lost profit due to legislation that may interfere with their activities.

This would particularly apply to biotech agriculture. GMOs could no longer be forbidden by individual countries. They are integral parts of the two giant trade agreements which the US is attempting to ram down the throats of their ‘partners’ – and may do so in the general realm of vassalage which has been cultivated by Washington’s threat and sledgehammer politics – “You are either with us or you are against us” – and the latter is usually punished with devastating sanctions, if not with death of errant, non-compliant leaders.

The objective of depopulation is alive and well – and being implemented under our eyes; and We, The People, are blinded by the steady drop-by-drop of propaganda that makes us believe that these trade agreements will resolve the world’s food problems, will eliminate famine. What they will eliminate after a few generations is peoples’ fertility. This, coupled with the constant and continuous wars on terror and financial assassinations of entire countries (see Greece) by the so-called Bretton Woods Organizations, IMF and World Bank, working hand-in-hand with the FED and Wall Street, may eventually succeed in drastically reducing world population – if We, The People, do not wake up.

Waking up to a new form of agriculture is crucial. Back to nature and earth-friendly farming, as well as away from globalization to the notion of ‘local production for local consumption’. Russia has a strict ban on GMOs. Russia is producing about 40% of its food by permaculture methods on simple garden plots. According to Natural Living, 80% of the country’s fruit and berries, and 66% of vegetables and about 50% of the nation’s milk are produced on dacha-type plots.

It is not too late to get away from GMOs, from planned sterility and from depopulating the globe for the benefit of a tyrant elite. But, We the People, have to wake up, take back the sovereign control of our nations from the vassal leadership which Washington has discretely, almost imperceptibly placed at the helm of the 11 TPP and the 28 TTIP nations by stolen or manipulated elections or outright ‘regime change’. The breaking up of the Eurozone and the European Union – both of which are in dire straits – might be the beginning of a new era of self-determination.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

  Read GMOs – Planned Sterilization of Humanity?
 March 3, 2016
The Lie We Live

by Video By Spencer Cathcart, Information Clearing House

March 03, 2016 "
Information Clearing House" - At this moment you could be anywhere, doing anything. Instead you sit alone before a screen. So what’s stopping us from doing what we want? Being where we want to be?  


At this moment you could be anywhere, doing anything. Instead you sit alone before a screen. So what’s stopping us from doing what we want? Being where we want to be?
Each day we wake up in the same room and follow the same path, to live the same day as yesterday. Yet at one time each day was a new adventure. Along the way something changed. Before our days were timeless, now our days are scheduled.
Is this what it means to be grown up? To be free? But are we really free?
Food, water, land.
The very elements we need to survive are owned by corporations. There’s no food for us on trees, no freshwater in streams, no land to build a home. If you try and take what the Earth provides you’ll be locked away. So we obey their rules.
We discover the world through a textbook. For years we sit and regurgitate what we’re told. Tested and graded like subjects in a lab. Raised not to make a difference in this world, raised to be no different. Smart enough to do our job but not to question why we do it. So we work and work, left with no time to live the life we work for. Until a day comes when we are too old to do our job. It is here we are left to die. Our children take our place in the game.
To us our path is unique, but together we are nothing more than fuel. The fuel that powers the elite. The elite who hide behind the logos of corporations. This is their world. And their most valuable resource is not in the ground. It is us.
We build their cities, we run their machines, we fight their wars. After all, money isn’t what drives them. It’s power. Money is simply the tool they use to control us. Worthless pieces of paper we depend on to feed us, move us, entertain us. 
They gave us money and in return we gave them the world. Where there were trees that cleaned our air are now factories that poison it. Where there was water to drink, is toxic waste that stinks. Where animals ran free, are factory farms where they are born and slaughtered endlessly for our satisfaction. Over a billion people are starving, despite us having enough food for everybody. Where does it all go? 70% of the grain we grow is fed to fatten the animals you eat for dinner. Why help the starving? You can’t profit off them.
We are like a plague sweeping the earth, tearing apart the very environment that allows us to live. We see everything as something to be sold, as an object to be owned. But what happens when we have polluted the last river? Poisoned the last breath of air? Have no oil for the trucks that bring us our food? When will we realize money can’t be eaten, that it has no value?

We aren’t destroying the planet. We are destroying all life on it. Every year thousands of species go extinct. And time is running out before we’re next. If you live in America there’s a 41% chance you’ll get cancer. Heart disease will kill one out of three Americans.  We take prescription drugs to deal with these problems, but medical care is the third leading cause of death behind cancer and heart disease. We’re told everything can be solved by throwing money at scientists so they can discover a pill to make our problems go away. But the drug companies and cancer societies rely on our suffering to make a profit. We think we’re running for a cure, but really we’re running away from the cause. Our body is a product of what we consume and the food we eat is designed purely for profit.  We fill ourselves with toxic chemicals. The bodies of animals infested with drugs and diseases. But we don’t see this. The small group of corporations that own the media don’t want us to. Surrounding us with a fantasy we’re told is reality. 

It’s funny to think humans once thought the earth was the center of the universe.  But then again, now we see ourselves as the center of the planet. We point to our technology and say we’re the smartest. But do computers, cars, and factories really illustrate how intelligent we are? Or do they show how lazy we’ve become. We put this “civilized” mask on. But when you strip that away what are we?

How quickly we forget only within past hundred years did we allow women to vote; allow blacks to live as equals. We act as if we are all-knowing beings, yet there is much we fail to see. We walk down the street ignoring all the little things. The eyes who stare. The stories they share. Seeing everything as a background to ‘me’.
Perhaps we fear we’re not alone. That we are a part of a much bigger picture. But we fail to make the connection. We’re okay killing pigs, cows, chickens, strangers from foreign lands. But not our neighbours, not our dogs, our cats, those we have come to love and understand. We call other creatures stupid yet we point to them to justify our actions. But does killing simply because we can, because we always have, make it right? Or does it show how little we’ve learned.  That we continue to act out of primal aggression rather than thought and compassion.

One day, this sensation we call life will leave us. Our bodies will rot, our valuables recollected. Yesterday’s actions all that remain. Death constantly surrounds us, still it seems so distant from our everyday reality. We live in a world on the verge of collapse. The wars of tomorrow will have no winners. For violence will never be the answer; it will destroy every possible solution.

If we all look at our innermost desire, we will see our dreams are not so different. We share a common goal. Happiness. We tear the world apart looking for joy, without ever looking within ourselves. Many of the happiest people are those who own the least.  But are we really so happy with our iPhones, our big houses, our fancy cars? 
We’ve become disconnected. Idolizing people we’ve never met. We witness the extraordinary on screens but ordinary everywhere else. We wait for someone to bring change without ever thinking of changing ourselves.
Presidential elections might as well be a coin toss. It’s two sides of the same coin. We choose which face we want and the illusion of choice, of change is created. But the world remains the same. We fail to realize the politicians don’t serve us; they serve those who fund them into power. 
We need leaders, not politicians. But in this world of followers, we have forgotten to lead ourselves. Stop waiting for change and be the change you want to see. We didn’t get to this point by sitting on our asses. The human race survived not because we are fastest or the strongest, but because we worked together.
We have mastered the act of killing. Now let’s master the joy of living.
This isn’t about saving the planet. The planet will be here whether we are or not. Earth has been around for billions of years, each of us will be lucky to last eighty. We are a flash in time, but our impact is forever.
I often wished I lived in an age before computers, when we didn’t have screens to distract us.
But I realize there's one reason why this is the only time I want to be alive. Because here today, we have an opportunity we never had before. The internet gives us the power to share a message and unite millions around the world. While we still can we must use our screens to bring us closer together, rather than farther apart.
For better or worse, our generation will determine the future of life on this planet. We can either continue to serve this system of destruction until no memory of our existence remains. Or we can wake up. Realize we aren’t evolving upwards, but rather falling down...we just have screens in our faces so we don’t see where we’re heading.
This present moment is what every step, every breath and every death has led to. We are the faces of all who came before us. And now it is our turn. You can choose to carve your own path or follow the road countless others have already taken. 
Life is not a movie. The script isn’t already written. We are the writers.
This is Your Story, Their Story, Our Story.

Written by Spencer Cathcart - http://theliewelive.blogspot.com

  Read The Lie We Live
 March 8, 2016
Global Economic, Political and Military Configurations

by James Petras, Information Clearing House

" - Mapping the emerging global economic, political and military configurations requires that we examine regions and countries along several dynamic policy axis:

   1. Capitalist versus anti-capitalist
   2. Neoliberal versus anti-neoliberal
   3. Austerity versus anti-austerity
   4. War command centers and war zones
   5. Political change and socio-economic continuity
   6. New Order and political decay

Though many of these dimensions overlap, they also highlight the complexity and influence of local and national versus global power relations.

We will first identify and classify the regimes and emerging movements, which fall into each of these categories, and then proceed to generalize about current ‘global’ trends and future perspectives based on approximations of the real correlation of forces.

Capitalism versus Anti-Capitalism

Capitalism is the only economic system throughout the world. However, it has and continues to experience periods of severe crisis, stagnation and breakdown. Several regimes continue to declare themselves ‘socialist’ (like Cuba, Venezuela and China) even as they pursue large scale foreign investments, establish free trade zones and provide incentives to stimulate expansion of the private sector.

Anti-capitalist parties, movements and trade unions have emerged and some still engage in large-scale class-struggles. But others have capitulated, like Syriza in Greece, and Refundacion Comunista in Italy, which renounced any anti-capitalist pretense and embraced neo-liberal variants of capitalism.

Anti-capitalist tendencies are at best implicit in the mass working class strikes occurring in China, India and South Africa and explicitly by minor parties in Europe, Asia, South America and elsewhere. Much more significant are the conflicts and struggles between variants of capitalism: neo-liberal and anti-neoliberal regimes and movements; and between austerity and anti-austerity regimes and movements.

In military terms, conflicts can best be understood by differentiating between ‘war (command) centers’ in the imperial countries and ‘war zones’.

Neoliberal and Anti-Neoliberal Correlations of Power

The balance of power has shifted toward pro-neoliberal regimes over the past two years. Even where political regime changes have occurred, they have not been accompanied by any significant shifts toward anti-neoliberal policies.

Latin America has witnessed the biggest shift toward hard-right neoliberal regimes and policies. Right-wing extremists won presidential elections in Argentina and legislative elections in Venezuela. In Brazil the so-called ‘Workers Party’ regime has embraced a neoliberal austerity program. In Bolivia, the social democratic Movement to Socialism lost the recent referendum allowing a third term re-election for President Evo Morales. The organized forces that defeated the referendum were predominantly hardline neo-liberals.

Elsewhere, in Latin America political changes, from hardline neoliberal presidents to ostensible social democrats (Chile and El Salvador) and nationalists (Peru), simply led to the continuation of free market economic policies. Even socialist regimes, like Cuba, have introduced market incentives and free trade zones for foreign multi-nationals.

In the Middle East and North Africa, popular revolts against incumbent neoliberal despots were violently suppressed. Recycled neoliberal military autocrats and politicians returned to power in Egypt, Tunisia, Israel, Iraq and Yemen.

Iran, under the recently elected ‘reformist’ Rohani regime, has opened the oil and gas fields to foreign capital and captured about 40% of the legislative deputies in the February 2016 election.

In Asia, neoliberals, who took power in recent elections in India and Indonesia, are moving to de-regulate and promote foreign multi-national capital penetration. China and Russia have moved to facilitate financial capital flows – resulting in multi-billion-dollar capital flight and the relocation of new billionaire families to Canada, England, the US and other Western countries.

In Europe, Scandinavian and Low Countries, Social Democrats have embraced and deepened neoliberal policies even as they lose support to right-wing anti-immigrant parties.

In the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania hardline neoliberals have imposed harsh austerity programs provoking protests of no great political consequences, as the opposition has promoted the same policies.

Russia, under Putin, has succeeded in the reconstruction of the state and economy after the destructive policies of Gorbachev and Yeltsin. But apart from ending the flagrant pillage of the economy by a gangster-ridden oligarchy, Russia is still an oil-dependent state in which billionaires invest and disinvest with facility.

Greece, which became a bankrupt vassal state under the rule of corrupt right-wing parties, experienced an electoral revolt in January of 2015, electing a supposedly leftist “anti-neoliberal” party. Syriza under the leadership of Alexander Tsipras embraced a brutal European Union – IMF austerity program plunging Greece deeper into debt, stagnation, poverty and vassalage.

In Portugal, an anti-austerity alliance between the Socialist (social democrats) and the Communist and Left Bloc parties formed a new government. However, under pressure from the EU, it capitulated, surrendering its tepid anti-austerity proposals.

In Canada, the opposition Liberal Party defeated the Conservatives, offering cosmetic changes and promptly reneged on its promises to end austerity.

In sum, the neoliberal- austerity onslaught provoked mass electoral opposition that led to political changes, bringing to power parties and leaders who embraced almost identical policies! In some cases, the changes deepened neoliberal policies by extending austerity measures; in other cases, they modified some of the restrictions on salaries and social expenditures.

The February (2016) elections in Ireland are a case in point: The neoliberal austerity enthusiasts in the governing coalition (Fine Gael and the Labor Party) were defeated and the Fianna Fáil re-emerged as a leading party, even though it had brought about the economic crisis and breakdown! The only exception to this revolving door politics was an increase in the vote for the national-populist Sinn Fein Party and a scattering of anti-neoliberal and left parties. In the end, the two neoliberal parties are likely to form a coalition regime.

In Europe, the main anti-neoliberal, anti-austerity parties are right-wing conservatives who have won election in Poland and Hungary and opposition parties like the National Front in France.

The major exception is in Spain where a leftist party, Podemos, has embraced an anti-austerity program, even as it offered to form a coalition government with the neoliberal Socialist Party. The coalition regime never came about.

The return, continuation and triumph of neoliberal and austerity parties and policies occur despite a deepening economic crisis and growing popular hostility.

In the Middle East, North Africa, the Baltic and Eastern European states, Egypt, Tunisia, Lithuania and Poland, repression has undercut leftist opposition.

Secondly, nationalist parties and conservative regimes have pre-empted attacks on austerity as is the case in France and Hungary and have marginalized the Left.

Thirdly, international tensions, wars, coups and military build-ups in Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Turkey and Southeast Asia have temporarily undercut popular opposition to neoliberal and austerity programs.

In the Ukraine, the US-backed neoliberal regime has virtually collapsed and is widely discredited. The problem is that the most aggressive opposition comes from the neo-Nazi Right!

In the short-run, international conflicts have temporarily distracted popular opposition to neoliberalism. However, over time, the wars, coups and military destruction are exacerbating the domestic crisis, as refuges flood and threaten to disintegrate the European Union.

EU sanctions toward Russia over the Ukraine exacerbated the economic crisis.

The Saudi-Turkey-US-EU-sponsored terror war against Syria and its allies heightens tensions and dampens investment in the region.

In other words, neoliberal/austerity regimes are threatened less by internal opposition than they are by the expansion of ‘war zones’, emanating from ‘imperial war centers’.

War Centers and War Zones

The economic and political configurations and divisions, which we have described, emphasize the varieties of capitalist regimes, the advance of neoliberalism and the emergence of variations among capitalists (austerity versus anti-austerity). US and EU militarism has deepened cleavages between emergent (China) and re-emergent (Russia) capitalist powers.

The political-economic map and the correlation of forces are deeply affected by military conflicts.

Wars, coups and insurgencies profoundly impact the scope, depth and character of socio-economic systems, above and beyond the dichotomies stated above.

Essentially the global military divisions can be understood through identifying war (imperial command) centers and war zones.

War centers are countries and regimes, which plan, organize, fund and execute military action against other countries. The war centers usually are run by imperialist regimes, which span the globe with military bases in order to defend and promote financial and multi-national corporation domination in other countries.

The war centers, form alliances, but also compete among themselves; they have follower regimes providing bases, mercenary soldiers and political support, even to the point of sacrificing their own economic goals in order to serve the dominant war centers. Follower regimes participate only at the periphery of decision-making.

War centers have global interests (US, EU), regional interests (Saudi Arabia and Israel – the Middle East) and local interests (Ukraine – Crimea).

The war centers with global interests have clearly defined adversaries: They target emerging military and economic competitors, like Russia and China; nationalist regimes, like Venezuela, Syria and Iran; popular anti-imperialist movements (Hezbollah in Lebanon) and Islamist anti-Western movements (Taliban in Afghanistan). The war centers, at the same time, correlate with neoliberal regimes and destroy or undermine lucrative markets and prosperous sites for investments by expanding the war zones.

War zones, defined by the US and the EU, have included Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Ukraine and earlier Yugoslavia. The ensuing wars succeeded in ousting incumbent regimes and splintering target countries, but failed to consolidate political control and, above all, destroyed hundreds of billions of dollars in investment, trade, financial and resource extraction opportunities.

The war centers have engaged in three levels of military engagement: (1) High intensity, signifying long-term large-scale warfare involving massive expenditures and commitments of troops such as Iraq and Afghanistan; (2) Middle level intensity, involving US-EU air wars and the use of proxy mercenaries as in Syria, Ukraine and Libya; and (3) Low intensity wars providing military support to regional allies, e.g. Israel’s onslaughts against the Palestinians, Saudi Arabia’s assault on Yemen and Turkey’s war against the Kurds in Iraq, Syria and Kurdish regions of Turkey.

The war centers in the EU and US have differences over China. The EU favors market expansion, while the US seeks to intensify the military encirclement of China.

Likewise, Europe and the US have differences over sanctions against Russia: the economic elite in the European Union, with billions of Euros invested in Russia is divided. Meanwhile the US mobilizes its clients in Poland and the Baltic countries to escalate military operations on Russia’s borders.

The growth of military tensions reflects both economic competition (US-EU versus China) and military expansion (US-EU coups in Ukraine).


The growth and advance of neoliberal and austerity regimes are largely the outcome of domestic or internal class conflicts. These, in turn, are the result of political-electoral contests where the imperial powers play an indirect role (mostly financial/propaganda).

In other words, the advance of neoliberal capitalism is not a result of imperial wars. It conquers because of its electoral advances and because of the defeats, retreats and capitulations of the trade unions and leftist political parties.

The limits of neoliberalism have been clearly set by destructive wars from the imperial military centers; the sanctions imposed on independent capitalist countries; and the alliances with destructive, aspiring regional hegemons (Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia).

The prolonged war economy and the neoliberal policies of the imperial centers have concentrated wealth, undermined economic growth, provoked downward social mobility and led to massive population displacement in war zones.

Widespread malaise among voters subject to the destabilization and disintegration of the European Union and the brutal concentration of wealth, power and privilege within the US has led to the emergence of social democratic and right-wing nationalist mass electoral movements.

High intensity warfare and prolonged austerity and social polarization have created a chaotic political universe and a multitude of diverse conflicts within the capitalist system.

If the anti-capitalist left is nowhere near overthrowing the system, the system may self-destruct, in a war of all against all: the great sow devouring her own progeny.

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York.

  Read Global Economic, Political and Military Configurations
 March 10, 2016
Taking Aim at Russia’s ‘Underbelly’

by Jonathan Marshall, Information Clearing House


While loudly complaining about “Russian aggression,” the U.S. government escalates plans for encircling Russia in a modern “Great Game,” writes Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

March 10, 2016 "
Information Clearing House" - "Consortium News" -   Two hundred years after the “Great Game” for domination of Central Asia began with the Russo-Persian Treaty of 1813, Washington is maneuvering to increase its military presence on Russia’s underbelly, this time through a “counterterrorism partnership” with Tajikistan and its neighbors.

Last month, the Pentagon announced plans for $50 million in new military aid to Central Asia — with a focus on Tajikistan — to “counter the Taliban, ISIL [an acronym for Islamic State], and other regionally-based terrorist groups, and to promote stability in the region.” The aid will also help the U.S. military get its feet in the door by enabling “interoperability and collaboration” with local partner armed forces.


The program comes at a time when the United States and NATO are trying to counter Moscow by providing billions of dollars in new aid to Russia’s neighbors, from the Baltic States and Ukraine to Georgia, and stepping up naval exercises in the Black Sea. The announcement follows a visit last November by Secretary of State John Kerry to Tajikistan and other former Soviet republics in the region, where he pledged “U.S. security cooperation.”

It also represents the first major escalation of U.S. military aid to Central Asia since the Pentagon sponsored an intensive training program for special forces in Kyrgystan and Tajikistan in 2012 and 2013. That operation, ostensibly aimed at boosting narcotics enforcement, was criticized by researchers who noted that it would simply eliminate competitors of the country’s biggest drug trafficking rings, which are led by high-level politicians and state officials.

The new military aid program, if approved by Congress, aims to offset reverses suffered by Washington in the region in 2014. That year the government of Kyrgyzstan closed a major U.S. air base, which had been implicated in notoriously corrupt dealings with the country’s former president. Kyrgyzstan also joined the Eurasian Economic Union, a common market that includes Russia, and terminated an aid agreement with Washington.

The United States is not Tajikistan’s only suitor, however. The chief of staff of Pakistan’s army, General Raheel Sharif, met earlier this month with Tajikistan’s president, Emomali Rahmon, to discuss “cooperation between national armies and law enforcement agencies of Tajikistan and Pakistan in the fight against modern threats and challenges, including terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking.”

His visit came just one day after a leading Chinese military official told President Rahmon that Beijing was ready to “enhance military cooperation and multilateral counter-terrorism collaboration with Tajikistan.”

Tajikistan is already a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which promotes military cooperation and intelligence sharing with China, Russia and other member states. Tajikistan is also a key transit country for a huge new gas pipeline slated to run from Turkmenistan to China. China’s longer-run plans call for Tajikistan to become the first link in a planned commercial route from China to Europe’s markets, called the Silk Road Economic Belt.

For now, Russia still enjoys the strongest presence in Tajikistan. It stations several thousand troops in the country to support border security. Moscow recently earmarked $1.2 billion to train and equip Tajikistan’s army and plans to hold major joint exercises in coming days. Russia hopes to prevent Islamist insurgents from moving out of Afghanistan and destabilizing other Muslim countries on or near Russia’s southern border.

All of the governments courting Tajikistan are turning a blind eye to the corruption and brutality of the country’s regime — which even the Russian media note is becoming “totalitarian.” This May, voters in Tajikistan will almost certainly approve a referendum to anoint President Rahmon “Leader of the Nation” and amend the Constitution to exempt him from the two-term limit.

Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee in February accused the Rahmon government of “arresting, imprisoning, and torturing members of the country’s peaceful political opposition” and even kidnapping critics who live abroad.

One critic of the Rahmon regime was shot dead in Istanbul; another was seized in Moscow, where he had lived for a decade, and flown home to serve a 13-year prison sentence.

Said one senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, “Tajikistan is in the midst of the worst political and religious crackdown since the end of the country’s civil war,” which claimed the lives of up to 100,000 people in mid-1990s. “Hundreds of people [are] landing behind bars for no other reason than their peaceful political work. Tajikistan’s human rights crisis is expanding by the day, but the response of Washington, Brussels, and other international partners has fallen seriously short.”

Human rights groups called on the Obama administration to “designate Tajikistan a ‘country of particular concern’ under the International Religious Freedom Act, for its systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious and political freedoms without further delay.”

So far, however, the Pentagon’s plans for a closer “counterterrorism partnership” appear to be trumping the cause of human rights in Washington. And the European Union, also hoping to wean Tajikistan away from Russia, pledged 251 million Euros for development funding.

For millions of people suffering under corrupt, repressive regimes in Tajikistan and the other “Stans” of Central Asia, such interventions perpetuate the “Great Game” that foreign powers have played at their expense for two centuries. From the U.S. perspective, perpetuating our mindless military competition with Russia in such distant lands is both counterproductive and inhumane. It’s time for Washington to stop playing the Game.

Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic (Stanford University Press, 2012). Some of his previous articles for Consortiumnews were “Risky Blowback from Russian Sanctions”; “Neocons Want Regime Change in Iran”; “Saudi Cash Wins France’s Favor”; “The Saudis’ Hurt Feelings”; “Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Bluster”; “The US Hand in the Syrian Mess”; andHidden Origins of Syria’s Civil War.”]

  Read Taking Aim at Russia’s ‘Underbelly’
 March 11, 2016
Could Russia Still Become an Ally of the West?

by The Saker, Information Clearing House

" -  Listening to Donald Trump speaking about his desire to turn Russia into an ally, I caught myself wondering if that was even still a possibility. After all, “the West” – and by that I mean every single western politician – has been lying to Russia ever since the fall of the Soviet Union. Not only has the West lied to Russia (for example on the promise to to expand NATO), but the West has also back-stabbed Russia and fully sided with the most vicious and evil enemies of Russia including the Wahabis in Chechnia or the Nazis in the Ukraine. The West assembled a huge air force to mercilessly and illegally to bomb the Serbs, a historical ally of Russia and fellow Orthodox people, in Croatia, then in Bosnia, then in Kosovo and then even in Montenegro and Serbia proper. The West also illegally and brutally overthrew Gaddafi in direct violation of UNSC Resolutions and now, having laid waste to Libya (and Iraq!), the West is trying to repeat this performance with Syria. In the case of the Ukraine, the West stood by while the Ukronazis used every single weapon in their arsenal, including chemical weapons, ballistic missiles, heavy artillery, multiple rocket launchers, cluster munitions and bombers against the cities of the Donbass and then imposed sanctions, no, not on Kiev, but on Russia. And even when the Ukronazis burned over 100 civilians in Odessa, the West fully backed them again. Before the Olympic Games in Sochi, the West then unleashed its “homo lobby” and its “pussy rioters” to try to paint Russia as some kind of quasi-Saudi society while never even uttering a single word of criticism against what was really taking place in the real Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the “indispensable nation”. And when Turkey ambushed a Russian bomber which had given its full flight plan to the US and then shot it down, the West had no more to say about it then when the local al-Qaeda franchise in Egypt bombed a Russian airliner. In its latest manifestation of rabid russophobia, the West, lead by the US Now Secretary of State Kerry, is demanding the release by Russia of a rabid Nazi deathsquad member accused of murdering 2 Russian journalists, Nadezhda Savchenko. Most amazingly, Kerry is claiming that Russia is violating her obligations under the Minks-2 Agreement by judging Savchenko even though Russia is not a party to this agreement which has nothing to say about Savchenko’s case anyway. We can be pretty sure that if the Devil himself decided to appear somewhere in the USA or Europe and declared that he wanted to fight Russia, the West would give Satan full support, money, training, recognition, etc.

Considering all of this, one could reasonably assume that anti-western feelings have reached a boiling point in Russia and that Russia will never again be an ally for the West.

But that would be very wrong.

What is true is that most Russian look at the West with a sense of disgust, but “most Russians” are not sitting in the Kremlin. Russian decision-makers are first and foremost pragmatists, they understand that ruffled feathers and hurt feelings are not the kind of things which should define policies. Furthermore, whatever their feelings about western politicians, Russian leaders fully understand that Russia is still the weaker party in any confrontation with West and that it would be highly desirable to restore some kind of working relationship with the West. Please notice that I said “highly desirable”, but not “necessary” or “vital”. Russia is ready to struggle through a long period of “warm warfare” against the West, if needed, but that hardly means that this is good for Russia. In fact, the core principle of Russian foreign policy has been expressed by both by Lavrov and Putin on many occasions in the past. It goes something like this: “we need to turn our enemies into neutrals, neutrals into partners, partners into friends and our friends into allies”. This might seem rather self-evident until you contrast this with the AngloZionist position which can be summarized as such: “we need to turn everybody into our slaves”.

Now ask yourself this: how exactly could the Russians do to turn enemies into neutrals, etc.? I submit that the only way to achieve such a result is to work with somebody, with some political forces, inside the West and to help them move the West in the right direction. The Russians are most unlikely to achieve their goal if they just lump every single western politician into a “our enemy” category. What the Russians need to do is to identify those individuals or political forces in the West which are the most likely to be interested in some (or even many) forms of cooperation with Russia. Hence the recent contacts with the European far-right parties (such as the National Front in France).

Okay, but why would any western politician or political force be interested in cooperating with Russia? Would that not be a huge liability in the generally russophobic West? Would the opponents of such a cooperation not denounce it as a sign of “weakness” and a “sell-out”? Last but not least, what does Russia have to offer to such a political figure or political force?

Let’s take those step by step.

First, I would not exaggerate the russophobia of the West. If we are speaking about the elites, then yes, they are generally rabidly russophobic. But the common people? Much less so, I think. And those who are do so because they are conditioned by the media to view Russia with fear, but is a superficial feeling which can be reversed by common sense and self-interest. Will the opponents of any such cooperation denounce it? Yes, of course, that is to be expected, but whether this attack will be successful or not will depend on the outcome of such a cooperation. Thus the key question is what does Russia have to offer?

A lot, in fact.

First and foremost, if some a not anti-Russian politician or political force comes to power in any western country, Russia can make darn sure that he/she gets, shall we say, “most favorite” status, meaning that in any negotiations Russia will have a stake in contributing to a political success for that individual or party. The obvious example: Trump becomes the next POTUS and offers to Russia a real partnership do deal with Daesh, not only in Syria but also in Iraq. I would argue that Russia would have a huge stake into “delivering” this objective to Trump as the best way to silence the anti-Russian forces inside the USA. Another example: a EU national leader breaks ranks with the Eurocracy and decides to unilaterally lift the sanctions against Russia. At this point Russia would have a huge interest in rewarding such a move by offering many lucrative contracts to this country on a preferential basis.

Paradoxically, one of the countries which would stand to benefit most from such a scenario would be Turkey. Not Erdogan’s Turkey, of course. The Kremlin has effectively “Shaakashvilized” Erdogan and his future now looks bleak, to say the least. But imagine if the Turkish military decided to overthrow Erdogan and immediately call Moscow with a simple message: “help us and we will help you!” Just imagine what Russia could do to assist a port-Erdogan Turkey:

First and foremost, play the role of an honest broker between Ankara and the Kurds, in a way similar to what the USA tried to do in northern Ireland. Russia could “bring in” Syria, Iraq and Iran and make some kind of push for a “comprehensive deal” with the various Kurdish parties.

Russia could literally kick-start the Turkish economy not only by allowing the Turks to re-enter the lucrative Russia market (construction, agriculture, tourism, etc.) but also by offering the Turks a range of cooperation deals not only in Russia, but also outside Russia (Latin America, Asia). At the very least Russia could reopen the “gates of tourism” and single handedly kick-start resort business. Potentially, an Ankara-Moscow axis of cooperation could be most useful to both countries, even if the historical record mainly shows already 12 wars between the two countries.

Right now Erdogan is in a terrible situation and nobody can help him, least of all the Saudis or the US. As long as he remains in power, Russia will completely ignore him. But the Russians are not stupid, they know that Turkey is an enemy whereas what they need is for Turkey to be at the very least a reliable partner. This is why Putin will work with anybody except Erdogan to fix this bloody mess.

Right now the West is “confronting” Russia everywhere, from the Arctic waters to the Pacific – but this begs the question of who really needs that?! Is that not a huge waste of resources and efforts when working with Russia could be so much more beneficial? This state of affairs is even more grotesque when we consider that the one and only reason for the current “tepid war” with Russia is AngloZionist imperial hubris whose prime directive remains “we need to turn everybody into our slaves”. This is exactly what Putin meant when he replied to a question suggesting that the USA wanted to humiliated Russia and saidYou said that the USA want to humiliate us. This is not the case. They do not want to humiliate us, they want to subjugate us, they want to solve their problems at our expense, to submit us to their influence. Never has anyone done this in history in relation to Russia and no one ever will”. It is this maniacal insistence on subjugating every nation on the planet coupled with a total inability to cooperate on a mutually respectful basis which has brought us to the edge of a thermonuclear war between Russia and the USA. This is a purely ideological problem which does not have any objective basis in reality.

Listening to Trump, I get the feeling that there are clearly some folks in the USA who do not suffer from that kind of megalomania and who are much more interested in getting things done rather than sacrificing it all in the name of some kind of (unsustainable) “indispensable nation” status. The Europeans are willing to be governed by the AngloZionist “deep state”, but only as long as this kind of collaborationism does not result in massive waves of refugees, crime and poverty. Already major politicians, such as Sarkozy and Berlusconi, are breaking ranks and more and more people are wondering whether it was a good idea to engage Russia in a “tepid war”, especially in support of a Nazi coup in Kiev.

I think that it is highly likely that this process of “realization” will only accelerate. JFK once said, paraphrasing Tacitus, that “victory has 100 fathers and defeat is an orphan”. The utter failure to successfully confront Russia in the Ukraine, Syria or elsewhere will soon begin to generate many “denials of paternity” and a rush to embrace a far more promising policy of collaboration with Russia.

[Sidebar: when that happens I will look with a definite sense of glee and even Schadenfreude the the Baltic States and Central European countries who fancied themselves as an important and attractive “ally” for the West against Russia only to realize that neither the West nor Russia give a damn about them].

Whatever the outcome of the US Presidential election, I think that Trump’s statement that he wanted to work with Putin and Russia already gives him a competitive advantage over his opponents. He put very simply: “what do we need problems for?!”. He is absolutely correct, of course.

Historically, Russia’s relation with the West has been a “difficult one”. You probably know that the Soviet Union was under various western sanctions for most of its existence. But did you know that was also the case for pre-1917 Czarist Russia which also spent decades under various sanctions for all sort of spurious pretexts? In fact, ever since 1242 and the so-called “Northern Crusade” of Pope Gregory IX the West has been trying to subjugate Russia under some ideological pretext (Papism, Revolutionary Freemasonery, Nazism, Capitalism, etc.). But there is no inevitability in this, no objective reason for this never-ending confrontation. As long as the leaders of the West could delude themselves about being the “bearers of civilization” entrusted by God to civilize and convert everybody on the planet to their brand of “Christianity” the conflict was probably inevitable. But right now the AngloZionists have really brought down what used to be called the “western civilization”, like a parasite kills his host, while countries such as Russia or China are, for the first time in centuries, breaking out of their subservient status. This will be a long, and dangerous, process, but the writing is on the wall. Those in the West who will have the wisdom to see this writing and who will find the courage to renounce exceptionalism will be able to use it to their advantage. As for the Russians, they will to steadfastly continue to refuse to submit to the Empire while waiting for new partners to appear. Even if this is a long wait.

The Saker - http://thesaker.is/could-russia-still-become-an-ally-of-the-west/

 This article was written for the Unz Review: http://www.unz.com/tsaker/could-russia-still-become-an-ally-of-the-west/

  Read Could Russia Still Become an Ally of the West?
 March 14, 2016
February Smashes Earth's All-Time Global Heat Record by a Jaw-Dropping Margin

by Jeff Masters and Bob Henson, Information Clearing House

" - On Saturday, NASA dropped a bombshell of a climate report. February 2016 has soared past all rivals as the warmest seasonally adjusted month in more than a century of global recordkeeping. NASA’s analysis showed that February ran 1.35°C (2.43°F) above the 1951-1980 global average for the month, as can be seen in the list of monthly anomalies going back to 1880. The previous record was set just last month, as January 2016 came in 1.14°C above the 1951-1980 average for the month. In other words, February has dispensed with this one-month-old record by a full 0.21°C (0.38°F)--an extraordinary margin to beat a monthly world temperature record by. Perhaps even more remarkable is that February 2015 crushed the previous February record--set in 1998 during the peak atmospheric influence of the 1997-98 “super” El Niño that’s comparable in strength to the current one--by a massive 0.47°C (0.85°F).

Figure 1. Monthly global surface temperatures (land and ocean) from NASA for the period 1880 to February 2016, expressed in departures from the 1951-1980 average. The red line shows the 12-month running average. Image credit: Stephan Okhuijsen, datagraver.com, used with permission.

An ominous milestone in our march toward an ever-warmer planet
Because there is so much land in the Northern Hemisphere, and since land temperatures rise and fall more sharply with the seasons than ocean temperatures, global readings tend to average about 4°C cooler in January and February than they do in July or August. Thus, February is not atop the pack in terms of absolute warmest global temperature: that record was set in July 2015. The real significance of the February record is in its departure from the seasonal norms that people, plants, animals, and the Earth system are accustomed to dealing with at a given time of year. Drawing from NASA’s graph of long-term temperature trends, if we add 0.2°C as a conservative estimate of the amount of human-produced warming that occurred between the late 1800s and 1951-1980, then the February result winds up at 1.55°C above average. If we use 0.4°C as a higher-end estimate, then February sits at 1.75°C above average. Either way, this result is a true shocker, and yet another reminder of the incessant long-term rise in global temperature resulting from human-produced greenhouse gases. Averaged on a yearly basis, global temperatures are now around 1.0°C beyond where they stood in the late 19th century, when industrialization was ramping up. Michael Mann (Pennsylvania State University) notes that the human-induced warming is even greater if you reach back to the very start of the Industrial Revolution. Making matters worse, even if we could somehow manage to slash emissions enough to stabilize concentrations of carbon dioxide at their current level, we are still committed to at least 0.5°C of additional atmospheric warming as heat stored in the ocean makes its way into the air, as recently emphasized by Jerry Meehl (National Center for Atmospheric Research). In short, we are now hurtling at a frightening pace toward the globally agreed maximum of 2.0°C warming over pre-industrial levels.

El Niño and La Niña are responsible for many of the one-year up-and-down spikes we see in global temperature. By spreading warm surface water across a large swath of the tropical Pacific, El Niño allows the global oceans to transfer heat more readily into the atmosphere. El Niño effects on global temperature typically peak several months after the highest temperatures occur in the Niño3.4 region of the eastern tropical Pacific. The weekly Niño3.4 anomalies peaked in mid-November 2015 at a record +3.1°C , so it’s possible that February 2016 will stand as the apex of the influence of the 2015-16 El Niño on global temperature, although the first half of March appears to be giving February a run for its money. We can expect the next several months to remain well above the long-term average, and it remains very possible (though not yet certain) that 2016 will top 2015 as the warmest year in global record-keeping.

Lower atmosphere also sets a record in February
Satellite-based estimates of temperature in the lowest few miles of the atmosphere also set an impressive global record in February. Calculations from the University of Alabama in Huntsville show that February’s reading in the lower atmosphere marked the largest monthly anomaly since the UAH dataset began in late 1978. UAH's Dr. Roy Spencer, who considers himself a climate change skeptic, told Capital Weather Gang earlier this month, “There has been warming. The question is how much warming there’s been and how does that compare to what’s expected and what’s predicted.” The satellite readings apply to temperatures miles above Earth’s surface, rather than what is experienced at the ground, and a variety of adjustments and bias corrections in recent years (including an important one just this month) have brought satellite-based readings closer to the surface-observed trends.

Figure 2. Anomalies (departures from average) in surface temperature across the globe for February 2016, in degrees Centigrade, as analyzed by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Image credit: NASA/GISS.

Arctic leads the way
Figure 2 shows a big factor in the February result: a superheated Arctic. As shown by the darkest-red splotches in the figure, large parts of Alaska, Canada, eastern Europe, and Russia, as well as much of the Arctic Ocean, ran more than 4.0°C (7.2°F) above average for the month. This unusual warmth helped drive Arctic sea ice to its lowest February extent on record in February 2016. The tremendous Arctic warmth was probably related to interactions among warm air streaming into the Arctic, warm water extending poleward from the far northeast Atlantic, and the record-low extent of Arctic sea ice. Ground Zero for this pattern was the Barents and Kara Seas, north of Scandinavia and western Russia, where sea ice extent was far below average in February. Typically, the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard--which includes the northernmost civilian settlements on Earth--is largely surrounded by ice from early winter into spring. This winter, the edge of the persistent ice has stayed mostly to the north of Svalbard, which has helped an absurd level of mildness to persist over the islands for months. Air temperatures at the Longyearbyen airport (latitude 78°N) have been close to 10°C (18°F) above average over the past three-plus months. This is the single most astounding season-long anomaly we’ve seen for any station anywhere on Earth. (If anyone can beat it, please let us know and we’ll add it here!) Update (March 14): It turns out in the winter of 2013-14, Svalbard was even more amazingly mild: the Dec-Jan-Feb average was -4.73°C, compared to the -5.12°C average from this past winter. According to Deke Arndt (NOAA/NCEI), a handful of high-latitude stations in Alaska, Canada, Kazakhstan, Norway, and Russia have racked up full-winter anomalies during past years in the range of 6°C to 8°C above the 1981-2010 average. At least some of these might be large enough to beat out the 2013-14 and 2015-16 Svalbard anomalies of around 10°C if these other readings were recalculated against the generally cooler 1961-1990 base period used by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

Figure 3. Daily temperatures (in Celsius, °C) for the past year at the Longyearbyen Airport, Svalbard, Norway, located at latitude 78°N. The black line shows the seasonal average; blue and red traces show the day-to-day readings. The darker blue and red line shows the 30-day running average, which was 10.2°C (18.4°F) above normal in February. Thus far in March, the anomaly (not shown here) has been even larger, close to 12°C (22°F). Image credit: Norwegian Meteorological Institute.

February's heat had severe impacts
It has long been agreed upon in international climate negotiations that a 2°C warming of the Earth above modern pre-industrial levels represents a "dangerous" level of warming that the nations of the world should work diligently to avoid. The December 2015 Paris Climate Accord, signed by 195 nations, included language on this, and the Accord recommend that we should keep our planet from warming more than 1.5°C, if possible. Although the science of attributing extreme weather events to a warming climate is still evolving (more on this in an upcoming post), February 2016 gave us a number of extreme weather events that were made more probable by a warmer climate, giving us an excellent example of how a 2°C warming of the climate can potentially lead to dangerous impacts. And, as we have been repeatedly warned might likely be the case, these impacts came primarily in less developed nations--the ones with the least resources available to deal with dangerous climate change. According to the February 2016 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon Benfield, three nations suffered extreme weather disasters in February 2016 that cost at least 4% of their GDP--roughly the equivalent of what in the U.S. would be five simultaneous Hurricane Katrinas. According to EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database, these disasters set records for the all-time most expensive weather-related disaster in their nations' history. For comparison, nine nations had their most expensive weather-related natural disasters in history in all of 2015, and only one did so in 2014. Here are the nations that have set records in February 2016 for their most expensive weather-related natural disaster in history:

Vietnam has suffered $6.7 billion in damage from its 2016 drought, which has hit farmers especially hard in the crucial southern Mekong Delta. This cost is approximately 4% of Vietnam's GDP, and beats the $785 million cost (2009 USD) of Typhoon Ketsana of September 28, 2009 for most expensive disaster in their history. In this image, we see a boy holding his brother walking across a drought-hit rice field in Long Phu district, southern delta province of Soc Trang on March 2, 2016. Image credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images.

Zimbabwe has suffered $1.6 billion in damage from its 2016 drought. This is approximately 12% of their GDP, and beats the $200 million cost (2003 USD) of a February 2003 flood for most expensive disaster in their history. Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on February 5, 2016 declared a 'state of disaster' in many rural areas hit by a severe drought, with more than a quarter of the population facing food shortages. This photo taken on February 7, 2016 shows the fast-drying catchment area of the Umzingwani dam in Matabeleland, Southwestern Zimbabwe. Image credit: Ziniyange Auntony/AFP/Getty Images.

Fiji suffered $470 million in damage from Category 5 Cyclone Winston's impact in February. This is approximately 10% of their GDP. The previous costliest disaster in Fiji was Tropical Cyclone Kina in January 1993, at $182 million (2016 USD) in damage. In this image, we see how Category 5 winds can completely flatten human-built structures: Fiji's Koro Island received a direct hit from Winston when the storm was at peak strength with 185 mph winds. Image credit: My Fijian Images and Jah Ray.

One other severe impact from February's record heat is the on-going global coral bleaching episode, just the third such event in recorded history (1998 and 2010 were the others.) NOAA's Coral Reef Watch has placed portions of Australia's Great Barrier Reef under their "Alert Level 1", meaning that widespread coral bleaching capable of causing coral death is likely to occur. Widespread but minor bleaching has already been reported on the reef, and the coming month will be critical for determining whether or not the reef will experience its third major mass bleaching event on record.

Figure 4. Annual mean carbon dioxide growth rates for Mauna Loa, Hawaii. In the graph, decadal averages of the growth rate are also plotted, as horizontal lines for 1960 through 1969, 1970 through 1979, and so on. The highest one-year growth in CO2 was in 2015, at 3.05 ppm. The El Niño year of 1998 was a close second. The estimated uncertainty in the Mauna Loa annual mean growth rate is 0.11 ppm/yr. Image credit: NOAA’s Greenhouse Gas Reference Network.

Last year saw Earth’s highest-ever increase in carbon dioxide
Despite efforts to slow down human emissions of carbon dioxide, 2015 saw the biggest yearly jump in global CO2 levels ever measured, said NOAA last week. The annual growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide measured at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii jumped by 3.05 parts per million during 2015, the largest year-to-year increase since measurements began there in 1958. In another first, 2015 was the fourth consecutive year that CO2 grew more than 2 ppm, said Pieter Tans, lead scientist of NOAA's Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network. “Carbon dioxide levels are increasing faster than they have in hundreds of thousands of years,” Tans said. “It’s explosive compared to natural processes.” The last time the Earth experienced such a sustained CO2 increase was between 17,000 and 11,000 years ago, when CO2 levels increased by 80 ppm. Today’s rate of increase is 200 times faster, said Tans. In February 2016, the average global atmospheric CO2 level stood at 402.59 ppm. Prior to 1800, atmospheric CO2 averaged about 280 ppm.

The big jump in CO2 in 2015 is partially due to the current El Niño weather pattern, as forests, plant life and other terrestrial systems responded to changes in weather, precipitation and drought. In particular, El Niño-driven drought and massive wildfires in Indonesia were a huge source of CO2 to the atmosphere in 2015. The largest previous global increase in CO2 levels occurred in 1998, which was also a strong El Niño year. However, continued high emissions from human-caused burning of fossil fuels are driving the underlying growth rate. We are now approaching the annual peak in global CO2 levels that occurs during northern spring, after which the value will dip by several ppm. It is quite possible that the annual minimum in late 2016 will for the first time fail to get below 400 ppm, as predicted by Ralph Keeling (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) last October. To track CO2 concentrations at Mauna Loa and global CO2 concentrations, visit NOAA’s Greenhouse Gas Reference Network and the Keeling Curve website (Scripps).

For more on Saturday’s bombshell report, check out the coverage from Andrew Freedman (Mashable), Eric Holthaus (Slate), and Tom Yulsman (Scientific American/ImaGeo). We’ll have a follow-up post later this week on NOAA’s global climate report for February and for the Dec-Feb period, along with a roundup of all-time records set in February at major stations around the world. Our next post will be up by Tuesday at the latest.

  Read February Smashes Earth's All-Time Global Heat Record by a Jaw-Dropping Margin
 February 27, 2016
Years Left For Zero Emissions By Country – Half Have Exceeded Their Share Of The World's Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget

by Dr Gideon Polya, Countercurrents


The world has only 2 years left before it exceeds its Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget that must not be exceeded if it is to have a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic plus 2 degrees Centigrade temperature rise. About half of countries have now already used up their fair share of this Terminal Budget. In an immense injustice, the low polluting countries with about 15 years or more left include many impoverished,  global warming threatened Island Nations  and some major, impoverished, global warming threatened  mega-delta countries  (Bangladesh,  Egypt, Pakistan, India, and Vietnam).  

Below are listed revised annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution for all countries (tonnes CO2-e per person per year), the world average being 63.80 billion tonnes CO2-e / 7.137 billion people in 2013 = 8.9 tonnes CO2-e per person per year. These revised estimates take the impact of methanogenic livestock and land use into account, and the data are grouped into (A)  countries  above the world average, and  (B) countries below the world average   [1].

(A)  countries  above the world average: Belize (366.9), Guyana (203.1), Malaysia (126.0), Papua New Guinea (114.7), Qatar (101.8), Zambia (97.5), Antigua & Barbuda (85.6), United Arab Emirates (82.4), Panama (68.0), Botswana (64.9), Liberia (55.0), Indonesia (53.6), New Zealand (53.2), Australia (52.9; 116 if including its huge GHG-generating  exports), Nicaragua (51.2), Canada (50.1), Equatorial Guinea (47.5), Venezuela (45.2), Brazil (43.4),  Myanmar (41.9), Ireland (41.4), United States (41.0), Cambodia (40.5), Kuwait (37.3), Paraguay (37.2), Central African Republic (35.7);  Peru (34.8), Mongolia (32.2), Singapore (31.2), Bahrain (30.5), Trinidad & Tobago (29.8), Cameroon (29.5), Congo, Democratic Republic (formerly Zaire) (29.3), Côte d'Ivoire (29.1), Denmark (27.8), Brunei (27.4), Bolivia (27.3), Guatemala (26.9), Belgium (26.3), Ecuador (26.2),  Estonia (25.4), Laos (25.3), Suriname (25.1), Netherlands (24.9), Libya (24.9), Nepal (24.6), Benin (24.5), Angola (23.8), Madagascar (23.7), Argentina (23.7), Uruguay (23.7)*, Luxembourg (23.6), Turkmenistan (23.5), Czech Republic (23.5), Zimbabwe (23.3), Gabon (23.1), Greece (21.9), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (21.5), Cyprus (21.4), Congo, Republic (21.0), Spain (20.9), Finland (20.6), Israel (20.2), Norway (20.1), Colombia (19.8), Namibia (19.8), Mauritania (19.7), South Africa (19.4), Ukraine (19.1), Germany (18.6); France (17.7), Italy (17.6), Uzbekistan (17.5), Costa Rica (17.1), Sudan (16.8), Saudi Arabia (16.6), Slovenia (16.5), Azerbaijan (16.4), Russia (16.2), Sierra Leone (16.2), Slovakia (15.9), Honduras (15.8), Hungary (15.5), Kazakhstan (15.4), Portugal (15.0), Sweden (15.0), Iran (14.5), Iceland (14.2), Mexico (13.9), Oman (13.8), Malta (13.3), Austria (13.0), Poland (12.9), Jamaica (12.8), Palau (12.8), South Korea (12.7), Guinea (12.5), North Korea (12.1), Bahamas (12.1), Nigeria (11.7), Nauru (11.7), Malawi (11.7), Mali (11.6), Chad (11.6), Taiwan (11.6), Latvia (11.4), Vanuatu (11.1), Switzerland (11.0), Romania (10.9),  Togo (10.9), Japan (10.7), Serbia & Montenegro (10.4), Seychelles (10.2), Bulgaria (10.1), Lebanon (9.8), Syria (9.4), Tanzania (9.3), Turkey (9.2), Barbados (9.1), Jordan (9.1), Occupied State of Palestine (9.1)*, Philippines (9.0), Guinea-Bissau (9.0);

(B) countries below the world average: Ghana (8.9), Thailand (8.7), Chile (8.7), Fiji (8.7), Belarus (8.6), Sri Lanka (8.5), Macedonia (8.5), Tonga (7.4), Croatia (7.4), China (7.4), Burkina Faso (7.3), Bosnia & Herzegovina (7.2), Kenya (7.1), Dominican Republic (7.1), Senegal (7.0), Tunisia (7.0), Algeria (6.6), Grenada (6.4), Samoa (6.2), Rwanda (6.1), El Salvador (6.0), Lithuania (5.9), Mozambique (5.8), Lesotho (5.7), Burundi (5.5), Iraq (5.5), Eritrea (5.3), St Kitts & Nevis (5.1), Uganda (5.1), Haiti (5.0), Mauritius (5.0), Albania (4.3), Dominica (4.2), Bhutan (4.1), Niger (4.1), Ethiopia (4.1), Moldova (4.0), Georgia (4.0), Yemen (3.7), Tajikistan (3.7), Afghanistan (3.6), Swaziland (3.6), Cuba (3.5),   Cape Verde (3.5), Kyrgyzstan (3.4), The Gambia (3.0), St Lucia (2.9), Bangladesh (2.7), Egypt (2.6), Niue (2.6), Pakistan (2.5), Morocco (2.5), Djibouti (2.4), St Vincent & Grenadines (2.4), Armenia (2.3), Maldives (2.1), India (2.1), Cook Islands (2.1), Vietnam (1.9), São Tomé and Príncipe (1.9), Comoros (1.6), Solomon Islands (1.4), Kiribati (1.2), Tuvalu (1.2)* (* estimated from that of a similar, contiguous  country) [1].

From this listing of revised annual per capita GHG pollution for each country we can see which countries are well above the world average and those that are well below the world average.  

The 2009 Report of the German Scientific Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU, Wissenshaftlicher Beirat der Bundesregierung Globale Umweltveränderungen) entitled “Solving the climate dilemma: the budget approach” crucially stated: “The budget of CO2 emissions still available worldwide could be derived from the 2 degree C guard rail. By the middle of the 21st century a maximum of approximately 750 Gt CO2 (billion metric tons) may be released into the Earth's atmosphere if the guard rail is to be adhered to with a probability of 67%. If we raise the probability to 75%, the cumulative emissions within this period would even have to remain below 600 Gt CO2. In any case, only a small amount of CO2 may be emitted worldwide after 2050. Thus, the era of an economy driven by fossil fuels will definitely have to come to an end within the first half of this century” [2].

The average world population in the period between 2010 and 2050 will be 8.321 billion. Accordingly, the per capita share of this Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget is less than 600 billion tonnes CO2/8.321 billion people = less than 72.1 tonnes CO2 per person.

Using the above corrected data for the annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that properly account for land use and livestock impacts, one can determine how many years left at current rates of GHG pollution (in units of CO2-e or CO2-equivalent i.e. taking other GHGs into account) before a given country uses up its “fair share” of this Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget. Thus, for example,  Australia has 72.1 tonnes CO2-e allowed per person / 52.9 tonnes CO2-e  per person per year  = 1.4 years left relative to 2010,  noting that this analysis does not take into account historical pollution of the atmosphere. Thus a climate criminal Australia used up its “fair share” of the world's Terminal Carbon Pollution in about 2011 and since then has been stealing the entitlement of the other countries which have not yet used up their Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget entitlement.  

Indeed the whole world is very close to using up its Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget. Thus years left before the whole world uses up this budget =  72.1 tonnes CO2 per person/ 8.9 tonnes CO2-e per person per year = 8.1 years left relative to 2010 and thus only about 2 years left relative to 2016.

This analysis has been applied to all countries with the following results for “Years left relative to 2010 for zero emissions”, with the data being grouped into (A) countries who as of 2016 have used up their fair share of the Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget, and (B) countries who as of 2016 have not yet used up their fair share of the Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget:

(A) countries who as of 2016 have used up their fair share of the Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget: Belize (0.2 years left), Guyana (0.4), Malaysia (0.6), Papua New Guinea (0.6), Qatar (0.7), Zambia (0.7), Antigua & Barbuda (0.8), United Arab Emirates (0.9), Panama (1.1), Botswana (1.1), Liberia (1.3), Indonesia (1.3), New Zealand (1.4), Australia (1.4; 0.6 years left if including its huge GHG-generating  exports), Nicaragua (1.4), Canada (1.4), Equatorial Guinea (1.5), Venezuela (1.6), Brazil (1.7),  Myanmar (1.7), Ireland (1.7), United States (1.8), Cambodia (1.8), Kuwait (1.9), Paraguay (1.9), Central African Republic (2.0);  Peru (2.1), Mongolia (2.2), Singapore (2.3), Bahrain (2.4), Trinidad & Tobago (2.4), Cameroon (2.4), Congo, Democratic Republic (formerly Zaire) (2.5), Côte d'Ivoire (2.5), Denmark (2.6), Brunei (2.6), Bolivia (2.6), Guatemala (2.7), Belgium (2.7), Ecuador (2.8),  Estonia (2.8), Laos (2.8), Suriname (2.9), Netherlands (2.9), Libya (2.9), Nepal (2.9), Benin (2.9), Angola (3.0), Madagascar (3.0), Argentina (3.0), Uruguay (3.0), Luxembourg (3.1), Turkmenistan (3.1), Czech Republic (3.1), Zimbabwe (3.1), Gabon (3.1), Greece (3.3), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (3.4), Cyprus (3.4), Congo, Republic (3.4), Spain (3.4), Finland (3.5), Israel (3.6), Norway (3.6), Colombia (3.6), Namibia (3.6), Mauritania (3.7), South Africa (3.7), Ukraine (3.8), Germany (3.9); France (4.1), Italy (4.1), Uzbekistan (4.1), Costa Rica (4.2), Sudan (4.3), Saudi Arabia (4.3), Slovenia (4.4), Azerbaijan (4.4), Russia (4.5), Sierra Leone (4.5), Slovakia (4.5), Honduras (4.6), Hungary (4.7), Kazakhstan (4.7), Portugal (4.8), Sweden (4.8), Iran (5.0), Iceland (5.1), Mexico (5.2), Oman (5.2), Malta ( 5.4), Austria (5.5), Poland (5.6), Jamaica (5.6), Palau (5.6), South Korea (5.7), Guinea (5.8), North Korea (6.0), Bahamas (6.0);

(B) countries who as of 2016 have not yet used up their fair share of the Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget: Nigeria (6.2 years left), Nauru (6.2), Malawi (6.2), Mali (6.2), Chad (6.2), Taiwan (6.2), Latvia (6.3), Vanuatu (6.5), Switzerland (6.6), Romania (6.6),  Togo (6.6), Japan (6.7), Serbia & Montenegro (6.9), Seychelles (7.1), Bulgaria (7.1), Lebanon (7.4), Syria (7.7), Tanzania (7.8), Turkey (7.8), Barbados (7.9), Jordan (7.9), Occupied State of Palestine (7.9),   Philippines (8.0), Guinea-Bissau (8.0); Ghana (8.1), Thailand (8.3), Chile (8.3), Fiji (8.3), Belarus (8.4), Sri Lanka (8.5), Macedonia (8.5), Tonga (9.7), Croatia (9.7), China (9.7), Burkina Faso (9.9), Bosnia & Herzegovina (10.0), Kenya (10.2), Dominican Republic (10.2), Senegal (10.3), Tunisia (10.3), Algeria (10.9), Grenada (11.3), Samoa (11.6), Rwanda (11.8), El Salvador (12.0), Lithuania (12.2), Mozambique (12.4), Lesotho (12.6), Burundi (13.1), Iraq (13.1), Eritrea (13.6), St Kitts & Nevis (14.1), Uganda (14.1), Haiti (14.4), Mauritius (14.4), Albania (16.8), Dominica (17.2), Bhutan (17.6), Niger (17.6), Ethiopia (17.6), Moldova (18.0), Georgia (18.0), Yemen (19.5), Tajikistan (19.5), Afghanistan (20.0), Swaziland (20.0), Cuba (20.6),   Cape Verde (20.6), Kyrgyzstan (21.3), The Gambia (24.0), St Lucia (24.9), Bangladesh (26.7), Egypt (27.7), Niue (27.7), Pakistan (28.8), Morocco (28.8), Djibouti (30.0), St Vincent & Grenadines (30.0), Armenia (31.3), Maldives (34.3), India (34.3), Cook Islands (34.3), Vietnam (37.9), São Tomé and Príncipe (37.9), Comoros (45.0), Solomon Islands (51.5), Kiribati (60.1), Tuvalu (60.1).

We can finally list countries in ascending order of “years left relative to 2016 for zero emissions” by simply subtracting 6.0 from the “years left relative to 2010 for zero emissions”, with the data being grouped below  into (A) countries who as of 2016 have used up their fair share of the world's Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget and (B) countries who as of 2016 have not used up their fair share of the world's Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget:

(A) countries who as of 2016 have used up their fair share of the world's Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget: Belize (-5.8 years left i.e. minus 5.8 years left i.e. it used up its “fair share” 5.8 years ago ), Guyana (-5.6), Malaysia (-5.4), Papua New Guinea (-5.4), Qatar (-5.3), Zambia (-5.3), Antigua & Barbuda (-5.2), United Arab Emirates (-5.1), Panama (-4.9), Botswana (-4.9), Liberia (-4.7), Indonesia (-4.7), New Zealand (-4.6), Australia (-4.6; -4.4 years left if including its huge GHG-generating  exports), Nicaragua (-4.6), Canada (-4.6), Equatorial Guinea (-4.5), Venezuela (-4.4), Brazil (-4.3),  Myanmar (-4.3), Ireland (-4.3), United States (-4.2), Cambodia (-4.2), Kuwait (-4.1), Paraguay (-4.1), Central African Republic (-4.0);  Peru (-3.9), Mongolia (-3.8), Singapore (-3.7), Bahrain (-3.6), Trinidad & Tobago (-3.6), Cameroon (-3.6), Congo, Democratic Republic (formerly Zaire) (-3.5), Côte d'Ivoire (-3.5), Denmark (-3.4), Brunei (-3.4), Bolivia (-3.4), Guatemala (-3.3), Belgium (-3.3), Ecuador (-3.2),  Estonia (-3.2), Laos (-3.2), Suriname (-3.1), Netherlands (-3.1), Libya (-3.1), Nepal (-3.1), Benin (-3.1), Angola (-3.0), Madagascar (-3.0), Argentina (-3.0), Uruguay (-3.0), Luxembourg (-2.9), Turkmenistan (-2.9), Czech Republic (-2.9), Zimbabwe (-2.9), Gabon (-2.9), Greece (-2.7), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (-2.6), Cyprus (-2.6), Congo, Republic (-2.6), Spain (-2.6), Finland (-2.5), Israel (-2.4), Norway (-2.4), Colombia (-2.4), Namibia (-2.4), Mauritania (-2.3), South Africa (-2.3), Ukraine (-2.2), Germany (-2.1); France (-1.9), Italy (-1.9), Uzbekistan (-1.9), Costa Rica (-1.8), Sudan (-1.7), Saudi Arabia (-1.7), Slovenia (-1.6), Azerbaijan (-1.6), Russia (-1.5), Sierra Leone (-1.5), Slovakia (-1.5), Honduras (-1.4), Hungary (-1.3), Kazakhstan (-1.3), Portugal (-1.2), Sweden (-1.2), Iran (-1.0), Iceland (-0.9), Mexico (-0.8), Oman (-0.8), Malta ( -0.6), Austria (-0.5), Poland (-0.4), Jamaica (-0.4), Palau (-0.4), South Korea (-0.3), Guinea (-0.2), North Korea (0.0), Bahamas (0.0);  

(B) countries who as of 2016 have not used up their fair share of the world's Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget: Nigeria (0.2), Nauru (0.2), Malawi (0.2), Mali (0.2), Chad (0.2), Taiwan (0.2), Latvia (0.3), Vanuatu (0.5), Switzerland (0.6), Romania (0.6),  Togo (0.6), Japan (0.7), Serbia & Montenegro (0.9), Seychelles (1.1), Bulgaria (1.1), Lebanon (1.4), Syria (1.7), Tanzania (1.8), Turkey (1.8), Barbados (1.9), Jordan (1.9), Occupied State of Palestine (1.9),   Philippines (2.0), Guinea-Bissau (2.0); Ghana (2.1), Thailand (2.3), Chile (2.3), Fiji (2.3), Belarus (2.4), Sri Lanka (2.5), Macedonia (2.5), Tonga (3.7), Croatia (3.7), China (3.7), Burkina Faso (3.9), Bosnia & Herzegovina (4.0), Kenya (4.2), Dominican Republic (4.2), Senegal (4.3), Tunisia (4.3), Algeria (4.9), Grenada (5.3), Samoa (5.6), Rwanda (5.8), El Salvador (6.0), Lithuania (6.2), Mozambique (6.4), Lesotho (6.6), Burundi (7.1), Iraq (7.1), Eritrea (7.6), St Kitts & Nevis (8.1), Uganda (8.1), Haiti (8.4), Mauritius (8.4), Albania (8.8), Dominica (11.2), Bhutan (11.6), Niger (11.6), Ethiopia (11.6), Moldova (12.0), Georgia (12.0), Yemen (13.5), Tajikistan (13.5), Afghanistan (14.0), Swaziland (14.0), Cuba (14.6),   Cape Verde (14.6), Kyrgyzstan (15.3), The Gambia (18.0), St Lucia (18.9), Bangladesh (20.7), Egypt (21.7), Niue (21.7), Pakistan (22.8), Morocco (22.8), Djibouti (24.0), St Vincent & Grenadines (24.0), Armenia (25.3), Maldives (28.3), India (28.3), Cook Islands (28.3), Vietnam (31.9), São Tomé and Príncipe (31.9), Comoros (39.0), Solomon Islands (45.5), Kiribati (54.1), Tuvalu (54.1).


About half the countries of the  world have already in 2016 used up their fair share of the world's Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget that must not be exceeded if we are to have a 75% chance of avoiding a catastrophic plus 2 degrees Centigrade temperature  rise. The worst offenders are countries variously massively engaged in deforestation, fossil fuel exploitation or a combination of these sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution. The worst First World European offenders are the rich  Anglosphere countries of  New Zealand , Australia, Canada, Ireland, and the United States.

In stark contrast, the countries with about 15 or more  years left before (at current pollution rates) they  use up their fair share of the world's Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget include impoverished global warming-threatened mega-delta countries (The Gambia, Bangladesh,  Egypt, Pakistan, India, Vietnam) and various impoverished, global warming-threatened Island Nations (Cuba, Cape Verde, St Lucia, Niue, St Vincent & Grenadines, Maldives, Cook Islands, São Tomé and Príncipe, Comoros, Solomon Islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu).

Indeed the whole world has only about 2 years left  relative to 2016.years left before it uses up its Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget. The present analysis shows that we  are badly running out of time to deal with man-made climate change, a position also put forward by numerous scientists [3, 4].  Sensible, humane, science-informed people who care for their children and future generations must (a) do everything  they can to make the future “less bad”,   (b) inform everyone they can about countries  exceeding their fair share  of the world's  Terminal Carbon Pollution Budget,  and (c) urge and apply Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against all people, politicians, parties, companies, corporations  and countries disproportionately  involved in the  greenhouse gas pollution that so acutely threatens Humanity and the Biosphere.

  Read Bees And Other Pollinators Are Facing Extinction
 March 3, 2016
Regional Climate Change And National Responsibilities

by James Hansen & Makiko Sato, Iopscience.iop.org, Countercurrents


Global warming over the past several decades is now large enough that regional climate change is emerging above the noise of natural variability, especially in the summer at middle latitudes and year-round at low latitudes. Despite the small magnitude of warming relative to weather fluctuations, effects of the warming already have notable social and economic impacts. Global warming of 2 °C relative to preindustrial would shift the 'bell curve' defining temperature anomalies a factor of three larger than observed changes since the middle of the 20th century, with highly deleterious consequences. There is striking incongruity between the global distribution of nations principally responsible for fossil fuel CO2 emissions, known to be the main cause of climate change, and the regions suffering the greatest consequences from the warming, a fact with substantial implications for global energy and climate policies.

Global warming since preindustrial time, barely 1 °C, is small compared to weather fluctuations, yet seasonal mean temperature anomalies in most land areas are now large enough to noticeably load the 'climate dice'. The public should notice that climate is changing, because warming of recent decades has shifted the 'bell curve' describing seasonal mean local temperature anomalies over the summer hemisphere by about one standard deviation (Hansen et al 2012). What were once unusually warm conditions now occur more frequently, and the most extreme warm events now are more extreme than before. However, the magnitude of change varies around the globe.

Here we update the hemispheric analysis and illustrate regional changes, each shown by the bell curve for the frequency of occurrence of a given seasonal mean temperature anomaly relative to a climatological (base) period, 1951–1980, which largely preceded the rapid global warming trend of the past four decades. Results differ little if we use a longer base period, 1931–1980 (Hansen et al 2013a). The rationale for the bell curve presentation is that it provides a simple clear indication of significant change.

We find that recent warming during summer in arid and semi-arid subtropical regions such as the Mediterranean and Middle East is at least two standard deviations, far exceeding natural variability. Warming is similarly large in all seasons in the tropics. Large low latitude warming has been reported earlier by Diffenbaugh and Scherer (2011) and Mahlstein et al (2011, 2012). Added to natural subtropical aridity and high temperatures at low latitudes, this large warming contributes to drought intensification in the subtropics and makes living and working conditions more difficult in low latitudes. We will note works suggesting that higher temperatures affect economic production, contribute to human health problems, and tend to increase human conflict, perhaps increasing pressures for migration, but mainly we point to the need for research on these topics. In contrast, we can be quantitative in updating national responsibilities for fossil fuel CO2 emissions, which are known to be the principal cause of global warming.

In updating results for Northern and Southern Hemisphere land areas we break the 66-year period 1950–2015 into six 11 year periods, so the periods have equal statistical significance. For clarity not all 11 year periods are included in our figures. Warming is larger in winter than in summer (Hansen et al 2010, IPCC 2013), but year-to-year temperature variability is much larger in winter (see global maps of interannual standard deviation of seasonal mean temperature in figure 2 of Hansen et al 2012). Thus the shift of the 'bell curve' (distribution of temperature anomalies in units of standard deviation) is larger in summer than in winter (figure 1), implying that climate change is easier to detect in summer than in winter. However, seasonal variation of the bell curve shift (figure 1) is small in the Southern Hemisphere, because a large fraction of Southern Hemisphere land is at low latitudes where seasonal change is small and because the dominance of ocean area in the Southern Hemisphere moderates seasonal change.

Frequency of occurrence of local temperature anomalies (relative to 1951–1980 mean) divided by local standard deviation (horizontal axis) for land areas shown on map. Area under each curve is unity. Numbers above the maps are percent of the globe covered by the selected region. 'Shift' and 'width' refer to the dashed curve fit to 2005–2015 data and are relative to the 1951–1980 base period (see text).

We calculate the 'shift' and the 'width' of the bell curve for each 11 year period relative to the 1951–1980 base period by finding the μ and σ yielding best least-mean-square fit of the data to

The 'shift' for any 11 year period is the difference between the seasonal mean temperature during that 11 year period and the climatology period (1951–1980) in units of the standard deviation of seasonal mean temperature during 1951–1980. The 'width' is the ratio of the standard deviation in the 11 year period and in 1951–1980. The shift and width for the 2005–2015 bell curves are given in the upper right hand corner of the graphs.

Shift of seasonal mean temperature in units of standard deviation usefully characterizes local climate change, as it measures change relative to the range of conditions that humans and other species at that locale are adapted to. Global temperature is now probably slightly above the prior Holocene maximum (Hansen et al 2013b), and despite regional Holocene variability (Mayewski et al 2004), in most regions further warming will take temperature to levels not experienced since at least the prior interglacial, more than 100 000 years ago. A question of interest is thus how large the temperature change is relative to the historic variability at that location.

The bell curve width increases with global warming and the curve tends to become slightly asymmetric with an increasingly long tail on the 'hot' side. The bell curve would become a near-symmetric normal distribution if we defined anomalies relative to the most recent decades rather than 1951–1980 (Rhines and Huybers 2013, Hansen et al 2013c), but it is appropriate to define anomalies relative to the time before the sharp warming trend for reasons given above.

Our analysis is of seasonal mean temperature, but emergence from noise of seasonal and daily extremes are tightly coupled, with seasonal change preceding daily change (King et al 2015). Our analysis (figure 1) agrees with the conclusion of Seneviratne et al (2014) and Sillmann et al (2014) that the trend toward increasingly hot extremes has continued in the most recent decade, despite evidence of a slowdown or hiatus in global surface warming (Meehl et al 2011, IPCC 2013). Existence of a global warming hiatus has also been questioned (Karl et al 2015).

Now we examine the bell curve changes in various geographical regions (figure 2). The curves become 'noiser' as the regions becomes smaller, yet the effect of warming is easily discernable.

Shifting bell curves that define the frequency of local temperature anomalies relative to the 1951–1980 base period for four regions, with definitions and nomenclature as in figure 1.

The summer bell curves for the United States and (North and Central) Europe are shifted more than one standard deviation (1σ), while the shift in the winter is only about half of a standard deviation. The shift in summer is enough to increase the frequency of summers warmer than +2σ from less than 1% to greater than 10%. The perceptive public may be able to notice this degree of change, but there is a geographical variation of the signal within the United States, as we will discuss. The bell curve shift in winter is too small to be easily noticed. The changes in Europe are only slightly larger than those in the United States.

The bell curve shifts are larger in China and India, being about one and one-half standard deviations in summer and one standard deviation in winter. The area that we employed for the India region includes the neighboring countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, thus reducing the noise by achieving an area of about 0.7% of the globe. These bell curve shifts should be noticeable and have practical effects, which we will discuss.

This climate change signal, measured in units of the normal variability, becomes even stronger at lower latitudes, as we move well into the subtropics and tropics (figure 3). The summer bell curve shift is +2.4σ in the Mediterranean and Middle East region, which means that almost every summer is warmer than average conditions in 1951–1980 and most summers are at least +2σ relative to the climate of 50 years earlier. Warming in the Sahara and Sahel is similar to that in the Mediterraen and Middle East, although noisier because of more limited data.

Shifting bell curves that define the frequency of local temperature anomalies relative to the 1951–1980 base period for four regions, with definitions and nomenclature as in figure 1.

South-East Asia and the African Rainforest, moist tropical regions, have bell curve shifts toward warmer temperatures exceeding +2σ in June–July–August, i.e., a warming signal as large as the shift in the subtropical dry belt and desert. Moreover the shift in these tropical regions is as large or almost as large in the other seasons, as shown for December–January–February (figure 3).

We do not illustrate the results for the three individual regions in the Southern Hemisphere (Australia, South America and the southern part of Africa) because we find the bell curves and their shifts for all three regions are very similar to those for the three areas together. The results for these areas are thus adequately described by the lower half of figure 1.

Global warming that leads to the large shift of the regional bell curves has been definitively associated with increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases (GHGs), principally CO2 from fossil fuel burning (e.g., IPCC 2013, Hansen et al 2013b). Although global warming is only approaching 1 °C, the regional bell curves reveal that the warming signal has emphatically emerged on regional scales. The conclusion that the signal should emerge first at low latitudes in summer was reached already by Diffenbaugh and Scherer (2011) and Mahlstein et al (2011, 2012).

Regional bell curves, in addition to being 'noisy' because of small areas, are affected more by dynamical phenomena such as the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (Rasmusson and Wallace 1983) and North Atlantic Oscillation (Hurrell 1995). Thus decade-to-decade shifting of the bell curve is more irregular for regions than for a hemisphere. For this reason we emphasize total change from the base period to the most recent decade, minimizing the effect of regional dynamics.

Insight is provided by global maps of the temperature change that gives rise to the shifting bell curves. The temperature data that we employ is NASA/GISS surface temperature analysis (Hansen et al 2010) over land areas at 250 km resolution (figure 4). This analysis is based on the latest GHCN (Global Historical Climatology Network) data obtained from NOAA, GHCN version 3.3.0. We note that GHCN land data have been very stable in sucessive updates, and thus the updates do not alter our prior analyses. Sea surface temperature (SST) data have undergone greater changes in recent years, but SST data are not employed in our present study.

Surface air temperature anomalies in 2005–2015 relative to base period 1951–1980.

Large warming in 2005–2015 exists not only in the Mediterranean, Middle-East, Sahara region but also in the Gobi Desert and Southwest United States. Amplified warming in desert regions (Cook and Vizy 2015) and a tendency for increasing heatwaves and strong droughts to coincide (Mazdiyasni and AghaKouchak 2015) are expected consequences of increased global warming. Generally, as global warming increases, climatologically wet regions tend to get wetter and dry regions get hotter and drier (figure 2.33 in IPCC 2013). Polar amplification of surface warming is also apparent (figure 4), but that warming occurs where interannual climate variabitily is very large, so the signal-to-noise ratio and bell curve shifts are smaller at high latitudes.

Next, based on available peer-reviewed studies, we briefly review practical impacts expected to result from the shifting temperature bell curves discussed above.

Livlihoods are affected by higher temperature and associated absolute humidity, especially at latitudes with conditions already near the tolerance limit for outdoor work, as more than half of non-household labor-hours occur outdoors (ILO 2013, IPCC 2014, section 13.2). Developing countries in the tropics are affected disproportionately (Dunne et al 2013, Kjellstrom et al 2013, Lundgren et al 2013), but workers in places such as southern United States and eastern China are also affected by increasing temperature and absolute humidity (Luginbuhl et al 2008).

Human health is affected by higher temperature via impacts on heat waves, drought, fires, floods and storms, and indirectly by ecological disruptions brought on by climate change including shifting patterns of disease (Lafferty 2009, Altizer et al 2013, IPCC 2014, ch 11). Vector-borne diseases, usually involving infections transmitted by blood-sucking mosquitoes or ticks, are sensitive to changing climate (IPCC 2014, section 11.5). Other factors will affect future disease incidence, but it can be concluded that higher temperatures allow the spread of some disease vectors to greater altitudes and higher latitudes (IPCC 2014, section 11.5).

National responsibilities for global warming can be assigned under the premise that fossil fuel CO2 emissions are the primary issue for long-term warming. Deforestation and agricultural activities also contribute to atmospheric CO2, but potential restoration of carbon into the soil and biosphere has comparable magnitude; indeed, assumption of such restoration via improved agricultural and forestry practices, including reforestation of lands that are of marginal value for crops, seems required if climate is to be stabilized at a level close to the Holocene temperature range (Hansen et al 2008, National Research Council 2015). In contrast, carbon released in fossil fuel burning will not be naturally removed from the climate system for millennia (Archer 2005, IPCC 2013, ch 6). CH4, N2O, O3 and other gases also contribute to human-made climate change, but CO2 contributes about 80% of the increase of GHG climate forcing in the past two decades (see figure 5 of Hansen et al 2013d) and much of the increase of the other 20% is related to fossil fuel mining or fossil fuel use.

Current fossil fuel CO2 emissions are shown in figure 5(a). China is the largest source of current emissions, with the United States second and India a rapidly growing third. However, climate change is accurately proportional to cumulative emissions (Hansen et al 2007, Matthews et al 2009), shown in figure 5(b). The United States and Europe, including their portions of air and ship emissions, are each responsible for more than one-quarter of the climate change, China about 10% and India about 3%. Consumption-based accounting for emissions (Peters 2008) increases this disparity between developed and developing country emissions.

Fossil fuel CO2 emissions by source in 2014 and cumulative 1751–2014. Results are an update of figure 10 of Hansen et al (2013b) using data of Boden et al (2015) and BP (2015).

Per capita fossil fuel emissions (figure 6(a)) and cumulative emissions (figure 6(b)) provide a useful perspective on emission responsibilities. Despite China's high current emissions, on a per capita basis they remain lower than many western nations, and slightly larger than the global average. Cumulative per capita emissions by China are an order of magnitude smaller than US emissions, and India's cumulative per capita emissions are even smaller.

Per capita fossil fuel CO2 emissions in 2014 and cumulative. Data sources as in figure 5. Results for additional individual nations are available at www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/CO2Emissions/.

Results similar to figures 5 and 6 have been reported many places. Our figures, available at www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/CO2Emissions/, are normally updated annually using indicated sources. Uncertainties in Chinese emissions include probable overestimate of coal emission factors (Liu et al 2015) and possible underreeporting of coal use (Buckley 2015).

There is striking incongruity between locations of largest climate change and fossil fuel emission sources, as noted by Diffenbaugh and Scherer (2011) and Mahlstein et al (2011, 2012). Largest bell curve shift is in tropical rainforest, South-East Asia, the Sahara and Sahel (figure 3). Largest temperature shift, in units of its natural variability, does not necessarily imply largest impact on local inhabitants. However, the fact that largest changes occur in places already near the limits of human heat tolerance suggests that added heat may be a problem. Fossil fuel emissions from nations in these areas are very small (Boden et al 2015). The only nation in these regions with current emissions as large as the global mean (figure 6(a)) is Malyasia, with current per capita emissions of about 2 tonsC/year/person. However, the cumulative emissions from these nations are all very small in comparison with developed nations, with African emissions even less than that of India (figure 6(b)). In other words, the nations experiencing the largest change of prior normal climate bear negligible responsibility for causing the climate change.

An equally large climate shift is occurring in the Mediterranean + Middle East region. The large shift is confined to the lengthening warm season, when temperatures are already near the limit of human heat tolerance. At minimum the added heat makes life more difficult in the summer and reduces productivity; it also intensifies drought conditions such as those in Syria in recent years, if not being a principal cause of the drought (Kelley et al 2015). As for emission responsibility, unlike most of Africa and South-East Asia, per capita emissions from the Middle East are among the largest in the world (figure 6(a)) and the fastest growing as the price of fossil fuels is kept low in many countries via government subsidies. Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have per capita emissions ranging from 12 to 5 tons of carbon per person per year, all greater than per capita emissions in the United States (figure 6(a)). Cumulative emissions per capita by Middle Eastern nations are not as large as in countries that developed earlier, but they are larger than the global mean (figure 6(b)).

The bell curve shifts in 2005–2015 are only about one-third of the shift that will occur with 2 °C global warming. (Although warming of land areas in 2005–2015 is ~0.8 °C, figure 4, global mean warming is only ~0.6 °C relative to 1951–80; 1951–80 is ~0.3 °C warmer than pre-industrial, Hansen et al (2010), so 2 °C warming above pre-industrial implies 1.7 °C relative to 1951–1980.) Given the approximate linearity between mean temperature increase and bell curve shift, 2 °C global warming would yield a shift of about six standard deviations during summer in the Mediteranean, Middle East, Sahara and Sahel regions and a similar shift in all seasons in the African Rainforest and Southeast Asia (figure 3).

Implications of these regional climate shifts are manifold. We note several consequences, focusing on their geographically uneven impact, especially the difference between developing countries at low latitudes and more developed northern nations. The examples and not a review of these burgeoning research areas, but they are sufficient to introduce discussion of relevance of these regional changes to the issue of dangerous human-made climate change.

Hsiang et al (2013) assemble the results of 60 quantitative studies of the relation between climate change and human conflict spanning the last 10 000 years and all major world regions. They find that interpersonal violence increases by 4% and intergroup conflict by 14% for each standard deviation change in temperature toward warmer temperatures. Such findings do not constitute natural laws, but they provide a useful empirical estimate of impacts that can be used for at least a limited range of temperature increase. Increases we infer of 2–6 standard deviations with 2 °C global warming imply significant effects in all regions, but with larger effects at lower latitudes. Conflicts in turn tend to result in migrations with effects on both displaced and host populations (McMichael et al 2012).

Temperature rise itself imposes a strong disproportionately large effect on low latitude countries. Pal and Eltahir (2016) note that business-as-usual fossil fuel emissions result in some regions in the Middle East becoming practically uninhabitable by the end of this century as the wet bulb temperature approaches the level at which the human body is unable to cool itself under even well-ventilated outdoor conditions (Sherwood and Huber 2010). Today's global temperature distribution has notable nonlinear effect on economic productivity (Burke et al 2015). Middle latitude countries have near-optimum temperature and limited impact from projected temperature change, but, in contrast, warmer countries, such as Indonesia, India and Nigeria are on a steep slope with rapidly declining productivity as temperature rises (figure 2, Burke et al 2015).

These regional consequences of warming are accompanied by a threat that sea level rise poses to global coastlines, thus jointly creating a need for prompt strong actions to avoid tragic results. Earth's history suggests that warming of even 1 °C above pre-industrial levels could eventually lead to 6–9 m sea level rise (Dutton et al 2015). IPCC (2013) estimates that about 1 m or less sea level rise would occur by 2100, but Hansen et al (2015) argue that amplifying feedbacks make a highly nonlinear response likely with potential for several meters of sea level rise this century and recent ice sheet models explore mechanisms that may contribute to rapid ice sheet collapse (Pollard et al 2015). If the ocean continues to accumulate heat and increase melting of marine-terminating ice shelves of Antarctica and Greenland, a point may be reached at which it is impossible to avoid large scale ice sheet disintegration. Given that a majority of large global cities are located on coastlines, sea level rise would add another source of migration pressure.

The United Nations 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC 1992) stated its objective as '...stabilization of GHG concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system'. The 15th Conference of the Parties (Copenhagen Accord 2009) changed the focus to a goal to '...reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase of global temperature below 2 °C...', and the 21st Conference of the parties added an aspirational goal of below 1.5 °C (Davenport 2015). However, we suggest that the UNFCCC (1992) objective to stabilize GHG concentrations is fundamental and starkly informs policy requirements.

Atmospheric CO2 amount, in particular, is a great challenge in limiting GHG concentration. Earth's paleoclimate history, especially the sensitivity of sea level to global temperature (Dutton et al 2015), and knowledge of Earth's carbon cycle (Archer 2005, IPCC 2013, ch 6 ) provide a strong constraint, which Hansen et al (2008) use to infer that CO2 must be restored to a level no higher than ~350 ppm, with restoration prompt enough to avoid practically irreversible ocean warming and ice sheet disintegration. This estimate for the CO2 ceiling was affirmed by accurate measurements of Earth's present energy imbalance (Hansen et al 2011, von Schuckmann et al 2016).

Restoration of CO2 to a level at or below 350 ppm within a century, even with optimistic assumptions about restoration of biospheric and soil carbon, would require reductions of fossil fuel emissions by 5%–7% per year if reductions are started promptly (Hansen et al 2013b). Failure to achieve such reduction will result in continued long-term energy imbalance with Earth's surface and ocean continuing to warm, growing regional climate impacts, accelerating ice sheet disintegration, and more rapidly rising sea level. As evidence of the situation and consequences grows, there may be increasing calls for climate 'geo-engineering' (Royal Society 2009) with unknown consequences (Sillmann et al 2015).

Country-by-country goals, the approach of the 21st Conference of the Parties (Davenport 2015), will not lead to planetary energy balance and climate stabilitzation if fossil fuels are the cheapest energy. It is necessary to include 'external' costs to society in the fossil fuel price, especially the costs of climate change and air and water pollution (Ackerman and Stanton 2012), so that carbon-free energies and energy efficiency can supplant fossil fuels more rapidly. Such inclusive pricing of fossil fuels makes economies more efficient and reduces net economic hardships, if the carbon fee, collected from fossil fuel companies at domestic mines and ports of entry, rises gradually and if the funds are distributed uniformly to the public (Hansen 2015).

A carbon fee can be initiated by a few major economic powers and spread to most nations via border duties on fossil-fuel-derived products from non-participating nations and fee rebates to domestic manufacturers for goods shipped to non-participating nations (Hsu 2011). Issues raised by 'coercive cooperation' implicit in border adjustments (Bohringer et al 2012) will be subdued, once the severity and urgency of the climate threat is widely appreciated, by realization that fossil fuels cannot be phased out if some countries are allowed to export products made with untaxed fossil fuels. Developing countries have rights, recognized in the concept of common but differentiated responsibilities, and leverage to achieve economic assistance, which should be tied to the improved agricultural and forestry practices needed to limit trace gas emissions and store more carbon in the soil and biosphere. Finally, international cooperation in generating more affordable carbon-free energies is needed, or economic development in many nations will continue to be based on fossil fuels, despite pollution and climate impacts.


We thank two anonymous referees for reviews that markedly improved our paper. We greatly appreciate support of the Durst family, the Grantham Foundation for Protection of the Environment, Jim and Krisann Miller, Gerry Lenfest, the Flora Family Foundation, Alexander Totic and Hugh Perrine for supporting our Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions program.


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  Read Regional Climate Change And National Responsibilities
 March 3, 2016
New Arctic Battlelines Drawn As Industry Exploits Fragile Seas

by Lauren McCauley, Countercurrents


Rapidly melting Arctic ice has opened up enormous swaths of this pristine and ecologically significant landscape to dangerous industrial threats. And as officials meet this week to hammer out new rules that could potentially protect the region, environmental groups are warning that the area known as the "Arctic Galapagos" is already in grave danger.

Scientists have reported that the Arctic is currently warming at nearly double the global average rate, which is one of the key factors driving an unprecedented level of ice sheet loss. In a troubling development, this January saw a record low for sea ice extent.

These newly-open waters have seen a surge in industrial activity, including fishing and shipping, which heretofore have been left largely unregulated, according to green groups.

Greenpeace on Wednesday released an investigation (pdf) which found that industrial fishing fleets are increasingly moving into Arctic waters, particularly the previously ice-covered Barents Sea, off of Norway.

"Sea ice loss in the northern Barents Sea is turning it into a new hunting ground for industrial fishing," Greenpeace states. "Fishing brings with it the threats of habitat degradation and bycatch, potentially wiping out marine life and putting this whole fragile ecosystem at risk."

The northern Barents Sea, known as the "Arctic Galapagos," is home to "a huge diversity of marine life including bowhead whales, walruses and polar bears, along with rare fish and invertebrates," the report states. It is also currently holds the largest cod stock in the world, which international fishing companies are rushing to exploit.

At the same time, environmentalists are raising concern about the uptick in shipping traffic moving through newly-open Arctic channels. Such traffic, warns John Kaltenstein, a marine policy analyst with Friends of the Earth (FOE), invites "the use of heavy fuel oil, harmful air emissions, and invasive species risk."

Less than 1.5 percent of the entire Arctic Ocean has any form of protected status. And while the International Maritime Organization's recently adopted Polar Code aims to establish a standard of safety for ships operating in Arctic waters, Kaltenstein notes that the actual text—expected to enter into force January 1, 2017—"does little to deal with the most urgent and far-reaching problems we face from Arctic shipping."

"Unfortunately, the shipping industry still behaves as if it were in the 1960s or 1970s, and the sad fact is that many countries both domestically and within international venues, such as the U.N.’s International Maritime Organization, coddle it," he states.

"It only takes one big spill to change everything," he continues, "remember Exxon Valdez. Incredibly, environmental policy surrounding Arctic shipping has become the equivalent of 'fingers crossed,' when it comes to grave threats such as heavy fuel oil spills, climate-warming emissions, and invasive species."

The warnings come as delegates from 15 European countries along with the European Union, known as the OSPAR commission, are meeting in Gothenburg, Sweden this week to discuss the formation of an Arctic Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the international waters north of Greenland.

Greenpeace describes the meeting, and the potential agreement, as a "make or break moment for Arctic protection."

"It is crucial that these areas are protected from destructive industrial activities, as they could be devastating for the species dependent on this area for survival," states the group, which notes that the region under consideration for protection "could be a potential habitat for ice dependent species in the future as the ice melts in other places."

Ironically, Greenpeace notes that as international waters, the Arctic is part of the "global commons, belonging to all mankind." However, "there is no protection at all."

  Read New Arctic Battlelines Drawn As Industry Exploits Fragile Seas
 March 4, 2016
A Student Uprising In India

by Shubhda Chaudhary, Countercurrents


On 18th December 2010 when Mohammed Bouzazi in Tunisia set himself on fire, it galvanized the youth across Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, asking for democracy, for the right to dissent, for a better standard of living and freedom of political prisoners convicted without evidence. There leaderless revolution creates surprising outcomes; the year-long dictators had to resign, there was hope for a better tomorrow.

India is witnessing something similar like the Arab Spring. The youth of India, well-educated and rational, is all geared up to demand freedom from oppression, to exercise the right to dissent and to carve out their own identity which is not a neo-liberal product. It started with protests in FTII and occupy UGC movement where students were protesting against the government’s motive to cut down Rs 5000 and Rs 8000 per month research grant given to M.Phil and PhD Students. It’s quite disparaging that students of India have to fight for such paltry amount of money, which is a mockery in its own. But before the issue could gain more foothold, attention shifted to Hyderbad University where a young Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula had to commit suicide because of the institutionalized anti-Dalit maneuver of the University. Journalists like Manu Joseph easily called it a depression story rather than a ‘Dalit story’, obviously unaware of the atrocities that Dalits in India have to face in spite of our so-called ‘modernization’ and ‘emancipation.’

When this issue started to gain momentum, JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar was charged on the draconian charges of sedition and criminal conspiracy and through severe media trial, he was labeled an ‘anti-national’. When he called for ‘Azaadi’, he was talking about ‘Azaadi from oppression’. A PhD student from the rural contours of Begusarai in Bihar has a family income of Rs 3,000 per month and if a student like him demands freedom from poverty, from oppression, what’s wrong in it? The collapsing left movements in JNU gained momentum and more than 15,000 students participated in the solidarity march towards Jantar Mantar on 18th February, demanding the release of Kanhaiya.

Umar Khalid, a PhD Student in History Department in JNU along with Anirban Bhattacharya was also charged with sedition and criminal conspiracy. It was quite obnoxious that within ten days, the identity of Umar was reduced to being a Muslim, which reveals so much about our fascist regime and how insecure the minority lives in India, especially in the current regime. In order to force aggressive nationalism on educational institutions in campuses, HRD Minister Smriti Irani asked the 40 Vice Chancellors to hoist a 270 feet high national flag on campus. Instead of investing money in the research grants of students, Irani believes that research can take place in penury, a reason why the research and development in India is in such deplorable conditions. One of the prime reasons our educational institutions cannot compete with global institutes like Stanford or Berkely, is because our government is not ready to invest in education, a fact that is never questioned. This is exactly what is causing brain drain in India.

Nevertheless, the next victim of HRD Ministry was AMU, the Vice Chancellor Shah had been odiously asked by Ms. Irani that ‘Who pays your salary?’ when he came to request her for establishing 5 AMU units in India by 2020.

It’s shocking that our current regime is anti-education and anti-intellect. This is what is tormenting the youth of today. Along with it, HRD is on its way to belittle the public universities in India and create more privatization of education into a money minting business. Education is not the right of only the elite; it is the right of every citizen of India.

Today the youth is not ready to be oppressed anymore. The youth is ready to question, debate and dissent and march out in masses to make its voice led. It is a treacherous time for the government because it is not able to tame the youth, for example, with the fabricated videos of ‘anti-national’ sloganeering in JNU Campus, there is no concrete evidence with the police.

What would be the future of this uprising in India? The death of Rohith Vemula would not be forgotten. The arrest of Kanhaiya, Umar and Anirban would not be forgotten. The current regime is trying to terrorise the students and saffronise the educational institutions, it would not be forgotten. It is the time to revolt, to ask for one’s rights and exercise it. No form of oppression will be tolerated.

Shubhda Chaudhary is a PhD Student at JNU. She can be contacted at shubhda.chaudhary@gmail.com

  Read A Student Uprising In India
 March 15, 2016
The Climate Emergency: Time To Switch To Panic Mode?

by Ugo Bardi , Cassandra's Legacy, Countercurrents


The latest temperature data have broken all records (image from "think progress"). At best, this is an especially large oscillation and the climate system will be soon back on track; following the predictions of the models - maybe to be retouched to take into account faster climbing temperatures. A worst, it is an indication that the system is going out of control and moving to a new climate state faster than anyone could have imagined.

James Schlesinger once uttered one of those profound truths that explain a lot of what we see around us: it was: "people have only two modes of operation: complacency and panic."

So far, we have been in the "complacency" mode of operation in regard to climate change: it doesn't exist, if exist it is not a problem, if it is a problem, it is not our fault, and anyway doing something about it would be too expensive to be worth doing. But the latest temperature data are nothing but spine-chilling. What are we seeing? Is this just a sort of a rebound from the so-called "pause"? Or something much more worrisome? We may be seeing something that portends a major switch in the climate system; an unexpected acceleration of the rate of change. There are reasons to be worried, very worried: the CO2 emissions seem to have peaked, but that didn't generate a slowdown of the rate of increase of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. If nothing else, it is growing faster than ever. And then there is the ongoing methane spike and, as you know, methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

What's happening? Nobody can say for sure, but these are not good symptoms; not at all. And that may be a good reason to switch to panic mode.

The problem is that societies; specifically in the form called "states" do not normally show much intelligence in their behavior, especially when they are in a state of panic. One of the reasons is that states are normally ruled by psychopaths whose attitude is based on a set of simple rules, mainly involving intimidation or violence, or both. But it is not just a question of psychopaths in power; the whole society reacts to threats like a psychopath: with the emphasis on doing "something", without much concern about whether it is the right thing to do and what would the consequences could be. So, if climate starts to be perceived as a real and immediate threat, we may expect a reaction endowed with all the strategic finesse of a street brawl: "you hit me - I hit you."

A possible, counterintuitive, panic reaction might be of "doubling down" in the denial of the threat. That could lead to actions such as actively suppressing the diffusion of data and studies about climate; de-funding climate research, closing down climate research centers, marginalizing those who believe that climate is a problem; for instance classifying them among "terrorists." All that is already happening in some degree and it may well become the next craze, in particular if the coming US elections will handle the presidency to an active climate denier. That would mean hard times for at least a few years for everyone who is trying to do something against climate change. And, perhaps, it would mean the total ruin of the Earth's ecosystem.

The other possibility is to switch all the way to the other extreme and fight climate change with the same methods used to fight terrorism; that is, bombing it into submission. Of course, you cannot bomb the earth's climate into submission, but the idea of forcing the ecosystem to behave the way we want is the basic concept of "geoengineering".

In the world of environmentalism, geoengineering enjoys more or less the same reputation that Saddam Hussein enjoyed in the Western press in the 1990s. That's for good reasons: geoengineering is often a set of ideas that go from the dangerous to the impossible, all ringing of desperation. For a good idea of how exactly desperate these ideas can be, just take a look at the results of a recent study on the idea of pumping huge amounts of seawater on top of the Antarctic ice sheet in order to prevent sea level rise. If it were a science fiction novel, you'd say it is too silly to be worth reading.

However, it may be appropriate to start familiarizing with the idea that geoengineering might be the next world craze. And, perhaps, it is better to take the risk of doing something that could go wrong than to do nothing, considering that we have been doing nothing so far. Don't forget that there are also good forms of geoengineering, for instance the form called "biosphere regeneration." It is based on reforestation, fighting desertification, regenerative agriculture and the like. Removing some CO2 from the atmosphere by transforming it into plants can't do too much damage, although it cannot be enough to solve the problem. But it may stimulate also other fields of action against climate change; from adaptation to switching to reneable energy. Maybe there is still hope..... maybe.

Ugo Bardi teaches physical chemistry at the University of Florence, in Italy. He is interested in resource depletion, system dynamics modeling, climate science and renewable energy. He is member of the scientific committee of ASPO (Association for the study of peak oil) and regular contributor of "The Oil Drum" and "Energy Bulletin". His blog in English is called "Cassandra's legacy". His most recent book in English is "The Limits to Growth Revisited" (Springer 2011). He is preparing a new book titled "Emptying the Earth" sponsored by the Club of Rome that should appear by the end of 2012. http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.co.uk/

  Read The Climate Emergency: Time To Switch To Panic Mode?
 March 16, 2016
Russia’s Military Aims Achieved, Putin Switches To Diplomacy

by Paul Craig Roberts, Countercurrents

American presstitutes, such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, expressed surprise at Russia’s support for the Syrian ceasefire, which Russia has been seeking, by Putin’s halt to attacks on the Islamic State and a partial withdrawal of Russian forces. The American presstitutes are captives of their own propaganda and are now surprised at the failure of their propagandistic predictions.

Having stripped the Islamic State of offensive capability and liberated Syria from the Washington-supported terrorists, Putin has now shifted to diplomacy. If peace fails in Syria, the failure cannot be blamed on Russia.

It is a big risk for Putin to trust the neocon-infested US government, but if ISIS renews the conflict with support from Washington, Putin’s retention of air and naval bases in Syria will allow Russia to resume military operations. Astute observers such as Professor Michel Chossudovsky at Global Research, Stephen Cohen, and The Saker have noted that the Russian withdrawal is really a time-out during which Putin’s diplomacy takes the place of Russian military capability.

With ISIS beat down, there is less danger of Washington using a peace-seeking ceasefire to resurrect the Islamic State’s military capability. Therefore, the risk Putin is taking by trusting Washington is worth the payoff if the result is to enhance Russian diplomacy and elevate it above Washington’s reliance on threats, coercion, and violence. What Putin is really aiming for is to make Europeans realize that by serving as Washington’s vassals European governments are supporting violence over peace and may themselves be swept by the neoconservatives into a deadly conflict with Russia that would ensure Europe’s destruction.

Putin has also demonstrated that, unlike Washington, Russia is able to achieve decisive military results in a short time without Russian casualties and to withdraw without becoming a permanent occupying force. This very impressive performance is causing the world to rethink which country is really the superpower.

The appearance of American decline is reinforced by the absence of capable leaders among the candidates for the Republican and Democratic party nominations for president. America is no longer capable of producing political leadership as successive presidents become progressively worse. The rest of the world must be puzzled how a country unable to produce a fit candidate for president can be a superpower.

Dr. 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, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

  Read Russia’s Military Aims Achieved, Putin Switches To Diplomacy
 February 6, 2016
Freak Storms and Butterfly Die-Offs: Welcome to the Future We've Been Warning You About

by Dahr Jamail, Truthout, AlterNet


The year 2015 will go down in history, at least until next year, as the hottest year ever recorded on the planet.

By a wide margin, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2015 "shattered" global temperature records, beating out the previous hottest year (2014) easily.

Extreme weather events, fueled by anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), continue to pile up, to the extent that they are quickly becoming normalized.

To see more stories like this, visit "Planet or Profit?"

In late December 2015, a freakish oceanic storm moved into the Arctic where it pushed temperatures 50 degrees above normal, even causing melting at the North Pole in the dead of winter.

December brought wild weather events in other places too, as the UK saw its single wettest month ever recorded, with nearly double the average rainfall. That month in the UK also shattered temperature records, with an average temperature that was 4.1 degrees Celsius higher than the long-term average.

Worldwide, December saw the planetary temperature increased to 1.4 degrees Celsius above the 1890 average. The annual increase of warming for that month, compared to the previous December, according to Japan's Meteorological Agency, was the equivalent of cramming 20 years of anthropogenic warming into just one 12-month warming period.

And warming trends are not slowing down. They are, instead, continuing to speed up.

The UK's Meteorological Office recently released its global temperature forecast, and the agency is already predicting that 2016 will most likely be even warmer than 2015.

A look at recent scientific reports, coupled with extreme weather events around the world, show that this prediction is already well on its way to becoming a reality.


In parts of California, so much groundwater has been pumped from the earth that the land is literally sinking, an issue that is now costing that state billions of dollars as it struggles to repair damaged infrastructure.

Of course, humans are not the only ones affected by these rapid, sweeping changes. Large die-offs of birds, whales, antelope and other animals across the globe are now being attributed, in large part, to ACD.

"Unprecedented" numbers of murre seabirds have met their fate in a massive die-off across large areas of Alaska, and scientists are attributing it to starvation caused by ecosystem changes fueled by ACD. This isn't a huge surprise; data from studies from both 2007 and 2012 warned that melting snow and permafrost were causing huge drops in lemming populations, which would impact food sources for many species, causing a rippling effect across the entire ecosystem of that part of the world.

It's not just fauna that is threatened - flora is also experiencing ACD-fueled die-offs. Across the US Southwest, a recent study warns that ACD could likely trigger a "massive" die-off of coniferous trees, including junipers and pinon pines, sometime during this century.

In the UK, the Butterfly Conservation charity recently released a study showing that three-quarters of the UK's butterfly species have declined in just the past 40 years. Along with habitat destruction and the increased use of pesticides, ACD was named as one of the primary culprits.

ACD is even affecting the behavior of our planet as it makes its way around the solar system. Climate disruption has now been shown to be causing the rotation of the entire planet to slow, thus making days longer in length. This is due to the amount of melting taking place across the world's glaciers, which is adding to global sea level rise from that melt water, which is what is slowing down rotation.

Melting ice in Antarctica, both on land and in the water, is causing a large number of countries to position themselves on the icy continent in an effort to exert influence, looking forward to the day when the treaties that currently protect that continent from resource extraction and militarization expire.


In Europe, the future of most of the continent's ski industry is in doubt, as ACD-fueled temperatures are resulting in less snow and seasons are shortening.

Increasing planetary temperatures are now heating up all of the oceans - much faster than we previously thought. In fact, a recent study shows that the deep ocean has warmed as much in the last 20 years as it had during the previous 100 years combined.

Those warming water temperatures cause the water to expand, adding to rising sea levels already augmented by the ongoing melting of the planetary ice. The rising sea levels are particularly evident in Miami, where multimillion-dollar homes, roads and businesses are already being encroached upon by the sea. Eventually, they will be abandoned.

Making matters worse, even the depletion of groundwater from aquifers in places like California has recently been shown to be adding to rising sea levels, since much of it ends up flowing into the oceans.

Meanwhile, within the oceans themselves, life as we've always known it is well on its way to being completely transformed. The extreme El Niño we are experiencing now, amplified by ACD, is warming water temperatures so much that major coral bleaching events, along with coral death events, are becoming widespread.

Water temperatures have already increased enough in the Indian Ocean that there has been a reduction in phytoplankton (the base of the food chain) by 20 percent, which means the food chain is rapidly diminishing. Thus, scientists are warning that the entire ocean could well become an "ecological desert" if things continue as they are.

"We seem to be spending more and more time out at sea looking for catch," a 54-year-old fisherman who operates his boat up to 90 miles off the coast of Sri Lanka told Reuters recently. "Where there were fish for decades, now there is very little. It is strange, but all of us have been noticing that."

recent study by 16 authors shows that Greenland alone has lost more than 9 trillion tons of ice since 1900. And the rate of ice loss is increasing dramatically, with a doubling of ice loss per year between 2003 and 2010, compared to what the rate was throughout the last century.

To make matters worse, another recent study shows that Greenland is going to contribute in yet another way to global sea level rise, by the fact that rising global temperatures are changing Greenland's ability to store excess water, which means more melting ice is likely running into the ocean than was previously believed.

Greenland saw a recent major melting event in January, of all months, which is disconcerting, to say the least.


In Australia, data from that country's Bureau of Meteorology show that three of the five hottest years ever recorded there have happened in the last three years.

Hence, experts recently warned that parts of Australia are now so dry and hot that the risk of bushfires has increased dramatically. Since November 2015, massive portions of the country have burned in ferocious fires, where locals have told of "Armageddon-like" infernos that have raged through their areas.

"From my experience, fires appear to be getting more intense, harder to fight, harder to plan for ... and this is having an impact on firefighting strategies," Darin Sullivan, a 25-year veteran New South Wales state firefighter, told AFP.


"Biblical" flooding in the UK, record heat across southern Australia, a January hurricane in the North Atlantic and winter tornadoes in Texas were just a few of the highlights of a year of increasingly extreme weather events amped up by ACD.

In terms of hurricanes, the planet saw nine Category 5 storms in 2015, which was the second-highest number in recorded history.

In the United States, the East Coast saw the warmest Christmas Eve in recorded history as heat waves swept the Eastern Seaboard, finding many people wearing shorts on Christmas Day.

look at a few charts really brings home just how much warmer 2015 was, more than any other year in recorded history. Graphs outlining, for example, the dramatic increase in the number of global land and ocean temperature anomalies, make the dramatic changes the planet is undergoing starkly apparent.

In the Arctic, there is yet more bad news. A recent report from scientists found that we may well be grossly underestimating the amount of methane emissions happening there. Methane, as a greenhouse gas, is 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide on a 20-year timescale, and methane emissions in the Arctic are ramping up on an annual basis as the permafrost continues to melt at record rates.

Denial and Reality

It should come as little surprise that Sen. Ted Cruz leads the denial section in this month's climate dispatch. The Republican presidential candidate, in the wake of the COP21 climate summit in Paris, said that if he were elected president he would withdraw the United States from the climate agreement.

In direct contradiction to Cruz's statement, a Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that the majority of US Republicans actually support collaborating with other countries to work to mitigate ACD, and are even willing to take steps to do so.

More bad news for Exxon and the oil giant's peers: It came to light recently that the company, along with Texaco, Shell and every other major oil company, were aware of the dangers of ACD as far back as the 1970s.

I'm unsure whether to classify this as denial or reality, but it also came to light recently that aircraft pollution was not included in the Paris climate deal. The head of the European Union climate program stated the obvious, saying that the omission could cause "a very big problem." Aviation and shipping amount to 5 percent of total global carbon emissions.

Squarely in reality, the head of the World Meteorological Society issued a bleak warning recently, stating that the world "faces food shortages and mass migration" caused by ACD, as well as growing water shortages and a lack of arable land.

If you thought there were a lot of extreme weather events in 2015, a senior meteorologist warned that we haven't seen anything yet, and should prepare for much more to come. Plus, of course, 2016 is likely to be even warmer than 2015.

Underscoring the importance of dealing with ACD, Pope Francis has inspired the entire Catholic clergy to join the environmental movement.

This month's dispatch ends with a little perspective on how much human actions have altered the planet. A recent study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research shows that ACD is likely set to disrupt the natural cycle of planetary ice ages, and will cause the delay of the next ice age until about 100,000 years from now. Without ACD, we would have expected another ice age in about 50,000 years

Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009, and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last ten years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

  Read Freak Storms and Butterfly Die-Offs: Welcome to the Future We've Been Warning You About
 February 18, 2016
Battle Lines Are Drawn in One of the Biggest Fights Against Toxic Chemicals in Decades

by Reynard Loki, AlterNet


2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the Toxic Substances Control Act. But there is little to celebrate. Signed into law by President Gerald Ford in 1976, the TSCA has been sharply criticized for failing at what it was meant to do: protect public health and the environment from the tens of thousands of chemicals that saturate the marketplace, and the hundreds of new ones that are introduced every year.

Adding to the concern is the fact that the law hasn’t been significantly updated since it was enacted, during which time some 22,000 new chemicals have entered American commerce, with around 700 new ones rolled out each year. Many of these chemicals — most of which did not previously exist in nature — have been widely dispersed throughout the environment, into the air, soil and water where some will persist for decades, or even centuries.

The figures are staggering. Every year, around 4 billion pounds of toxic chemicals are released by American industries. In 2011 alone, 16 new chemicals accounted for nearly 1 million pounds. There is far too little testing of these substances: Only a fraction of the nearly 3,000 high-production-volume (HPV) chemicals — chemicals that have an annual production run of at least one million pounds — have been studied for their potential toxicity. According to the EPA, the agency has “only been able to require testing on a little more than 200 existing chemicals” out of the 62,000 that have been introduced since the TSCA’s enactment. The EPA has banned just five.

It has been a long time in coming, but after several years of negotiations, two bills seeking to overhaul the TSCA have finally been passed in both houses of Congress. And while one might assume a federal effort to improve the TSCA would receive widespread popular support (a nationwide poll conducted in 2012 found that nearly 74 percent of Americans believe the threat of chemical exposure to people’s health is serious), the legislation has been met with fierce opposition — and not from the chemical industry.

For decades, regulating chemicals in the U.S. has been a “too little, too late” exercise in futility. Now that Washington is on the verge of a major overhaul, chemical policy reform has become a pitched battleground. Several stakeholders have been vying for leverage, from federal lawmakers and state attorneys general, to chemical industry lobbyists and community activists, to public and environmental health activists. How did something so basic as keeping people and animals safe from dangerous substances become such a highly politicized arena?

One Word: Plastics

Since World War II, some 80,000 new chemicals have been invented. But it wasn’t until the early 1970s when the President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), formed in 1969 under the Nixon administration, proposed federal legislation to regulate American commerce in chemical substances. So why did it take so long for the government to address the potential health and environmental effects of chemicals? It’s a familiar and tragic narrative: Public health regularly takes a back seat to corporate interests. Time and time again, major toxic disasters occur, reminding us just how susceptible humans, animals and the environment are to toxins produced by industrial activity. Look at Love Canal in Niagara Falls in the 1950s, Times Beach, Missouri in the 1970s or the Summitville mine in Colorado in the 1980s. More recently, there was the Exide lead contamination in Los Angeles. Today, the Flint water crisis unfolds in Michigan.

The reverb furnace feedstock room of the Exide Technologies facility in Vernon, California. High levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium and other toxic metals pollute the soil under the facility. The operation of the plant also led to groundwater pollution and battery acid draining onto public streets. (image: California Department of Toxic Substances Control/Wikipedia)

While big disasters such as these make national headlines, it was actually a series of festering environmental contamination events around the country — and the community activism that gradually grew around them — that set the stage for the TSCA’s passage.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were contaminating the Hudson River; polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) were contaminating agricultural produce in Michigan; and chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) emissions were depleting the ozone layer. But it was the process behind making polyvinyl chloride, a plastic commonly known as PVC, that was ultimately the driving force that finally got the law passed. In their 2002 book Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution, public health historians Gerald Markowitz and David Rosner write, “While the discovery of various kinds of industrial pollution had led the EPA to begin pressing for passage of Toxic Substances Control Act, the publicity and seriousness of the vinyl crisis would become the impetus for more assertive efforts to get TSCA passed, with a view toward regulating more chemicals than vinyl chloride.”

Developed in the 1920s, PVC is one of the most used plastics in the world. Impervious to rust and rot, it is used predominantly in water systems, sewer lines and underground wiring, and also across a wide array of consumer goods, from tire treads and credit cards to children’s toys and medical devices. In many ways, PVC has changed things for the better, particularly across the developing world, where almost all the clean water projects depend on bacteria-resistant PVC pipe. Chemical engineer Arjen Sevenster, who sits on the board of EU vinyl industry trade group VinylPlus, is a vocal proponent of PVC, the third most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer in the world. “PVC products make life safer, more comfortable and more pleasurable,” he says. “And, because PVC has an excellent ratio of economic cost to performance, it allows people of all income levels access to these important benefits.”

But there is a big problem with this popular plastic. In order to make it, you need to start with vinyl chloride (VC), an intermediary organic compound that was implicated in causing liver damage as early as the 1930s, when the PVC industry was still in its infancy. But it wouldn’t be until 1949, when Russian researcher S.L. Tribukh published a paper about the health effects of VC that it became clear: VC exposure causes. In the decades to follow, her research would be tragically manifested in the workplace. A mortality study conducted in 1988 by the Health and Safety Executive, the United Kingdom’s independent regulator for work-related health, found that between 1940 and 1974, there were 11 tumor-related deaths among British vinyl workers — seven of them from angiosarcoma, an exceedingly rare cancer tumor of the liver. The HSE concluded that the deaths indicated “a significant excess of non-secondary liver tumors.” By the late 1960s, the issue got attention in the United States, when four cases of angiosarcoma were diagnosed among workers at a B.F. Goodrich tire-making plant near Louisville, Kentucky, between 1967 and 1973.

The episode was one of the earliest reports of an occupational disease outbreak published by the Center for Disease Control’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The 1967 film The Graduate was one of the biggest movies of the period. One of its most famous lines was uttered by Mr. McGuire (Walter Brooke), who gives Ben, a 21-year-old recent college grad played by Dustin Hoffman, some friendly business advice: “There's a great future in plastics.” He was right, of course. In 1976, the global production of plastics was around 50 million metric tons. By 2002, that number had quadrupled. Today, more than 311 metric tons of plastics are produced worldwide. In 2013, plastic wholesaling generated $55 billion in the United States, which is behind only China in total PVC production.

But plastic’s future would not be all bright. Just a few years after The Graduate was released, VC health concern had reached critical mass in the U.S. Nancy Beach, who was coordinating the EPA’s vinyl chloride efforts at the time, revealed that exposure to the toxin wasn’t limited to factory workers. In a private session organized by the National Cancer Institute and attended by representatives from 10 federal agencies, including the FDA, OSHA, CDC and the National Institutes of Health, Beach revealed that some 6 percent of the VC used during PVC production was escaping into the outside air. “It sounds small,” she said, “but if one considers that the annual production of PVC in the U.S. is well over 5 billion pounds a 6 percent loss figure is on the order of 250 million pounds, which is somehow getting out of the workplace.”

By the summer of 1974, the FDA, EPA and Consumer Product Safety Commission moved to prohibit the use of VC in bottles and other consumer goods. In October, EPA administrator Russell Train announced new air emissions standards for vinyl chloride. The announcement would have far-reaching implications: By framing the VC issue within the larger goal of regulating the hundreds of chemicals that enter the marketplace every year, Train helped pave the way for the passage of the TSCA:

For the past five years, an estimated 600 new chemicals a year have been introduced into U.S. commerce. These chemicals have been sold without any systematic, advanced assessment of their potential impact on human health. As we have learned through our experience, materials such as vinyl chloride, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), asbestos, nitrosamines and several others, we often do not discover how harmful a compound can be until it has become a commonplace item in our everyday life.

Two years after Train’s announcement — and after significant negotiation between the government and industry — the TSCA was finally signed into law by President Ford on Oct. 11, 1976, authorizing the EPA to test and regulate new and existing chemicals. In a statement accompanying the signing of the bill, Ford said, “I believe this legislation may be one of the most important pieces of environmental legislation that has been enacted by the Congress.” He may have been right, but important does not equal effective.

Fixing 'Fundamental Weaknesses'

A large part of the problem with the TSCA is its fundamentally Sisyphean nature. In 1994, former EPA assistant administrator Lynn Goldman testified to Congress, saying, “Our available tools for gathering testing data about these chemicals are cumbersome.” Later, she explained that under the provisions of the TSCA, “It’s almost as if ... we have to, first, prove that chemicals are risky before we can have the testing done to show whether or not the chemicals are risky.” Since the TSCA was enacted, some 62,000 chemicals have never been tested by the EPA because they were grandfathered in and remain on the market.

In 2009, Michael Wilson and Megan Schwarzman, environmental health scientists at UC Berkeley, published a damning analysis of U.S. chemical policy, identifying “fundamental weaknesses” in the way the government protects Americans from toxic substances — weaknesses that not only leave the public unprotected, but hamstring the development of a chemical marketplace that is less toxic and more sustainable. “These policies have largely failed to adequately protect public health or the environment or motivate investment in or scientific exploration of cleaner chemical technologies,” they wrote in the paper, which was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal. “On this trajectory,” they warned, “the United States will face growing health, environmental and economic problems related to chemical exposures and pollution.”

Two bills, a House and Senate bill, which passed their respective chambers last year, represent Congress’ first serious attempt to “reauthorize and modernize” the TSCA. The Senate bill, S. 697 (the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act), has been hailed as the result of bipartisan compromise on Capitol Hill led by Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and David Vitter (R-LA), who co-sponsored a bill in May 2013. A month later, Lautenberg died. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) picked up the reins and worked with Vitter — an ally of the chemical companies — to improve the bill, which eventually secured enough support in the Senate to be filibuster-proof. Now dubbed the “Udall-Vitter chemical safety bill,” it passed on December 17 by unanimous consent.

New York Times columnist Joe Nocera sees a rare quality in the Udall-Vitter bill: “In this era of polarized politics,” he writes, “it is something of a miracle.” He said Udall told him that the bill stood as “an example of good, old-fashioned legislating.” Nocera also relayed the opinion of Dominique Browning, a co-founder of the grassroots green group known as Moms Clean Air Force:

Browning, an old friend of mine, describes herself as an environmental pragmatist. She concluded that whatever the flaws in the bill, it was a vast improvement over the status quo — a status quo in which the Environmental Protection Agency can’t even regulate formaldehyde. She and her brain trust decided that their 570,000-member group would work to improve the bill instead of oppose it. This is also the position taken by the ever-pragmatic Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund, with which Moms Clean Air Force is affiliated.

The House bill, H.R. 2576 (TSCA Modernization Act), was introduced in May 2015 by Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL-15) and passed in June. The next step is for the bills to be assessed in a conference committee to reconcile the two versions. (Richard Denison, lead senior scientist at the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund has published an excellent side-by-side comparison of how the two bills address 12 of TSCA’s key limitations.) 

As the first major overhaul of the 40-year-old TSCA, the bills have several laudable goals and fix glaring omissions in the old law. For example, the TSCA gives no special consideration to segments of the population that may be more susceptible to toxins, such as infants, children, pregnant women, workers and the elderly. This is a striking oversight. Less than 20 percent of HPV chemicals have been studied for their ability to impact child development. The Senate bill addresses this omission, expressly requiring protections for these vulnerable groups. Furthermore, the TSCA gives the EPA the authority, but regrettably no mandate, to restrict chemicals deemed to present an “unreasonable risk.” The new legislation closes this breach by requiring restrictions on such substances.

Another target of reform is the “safety standard.” Under the TSCA, a substance of unreasonable risk requires the EPA to conduct a cost-benefit analysis, an unwieldy requirement that is ultimately not necessary — if the bottom line is protecting public health. Both bills address this by prohibiting the EPA from considering costs and other non-risk factors in making safety determinations, eliminating an onerous requirement of the TSCA that Denison characterized as a “paralyzing regulatory hurdle.”

The final bill will likely meet one of the threshold principles for the Obama administration: that the safety standard is a “health only” standard and not a “cost-benefit” standard. In their analysis, Wilson and Schwarzman note three key “gaps” caused by the weaknesses in the TSCA:

  • Data gap: “Producers are not required to investigate and disclose sufficient information on chemicals' hazard traits to government, businesses that use chemicals, or the public.”
  • Safety gap: “Government lacks the legal tools it needs to efficiently identify, prioritize, and take action to mitigate the potential health and environmental effects of hazardous chemicals.”
  • Technology gap: “Industry and government have invested only marginally in green chemistry research, development, and education.”

The bills address these gaps to varying degrees. Regarding the data gap, the new legislation mandates a greater level of transparency, requiring an upfront justification from companies for all or most new claims. Regarding the safety gap, the bills, as stated earlier, prohibit the EPA from considering costs in risk evaluations. Regarding the technology gap, the Senate bill mandates that, no later than two years after the bill’s enactment, an Interagency Working Group — comprised of representative from several agencies, including the USDA, EPA, National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation — must submit “a summary of federally funded sustainable chemistry research, development, demonstration, technology transfer, commercialization, education, and training activities.”

Whether or not these changes survive the final combined version of the bill remains to be seen.

Question of Authorship

While there is much to like to about the reform bills, particularly the protection they require for vulnerable segments of the population, they have drawn strong opposition. Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, a 450-member coalition dedicated to TSCA reform that counts as its members a number of leading environmental and public health advocacy groups, such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Breast Cancer Fund, opposes the part of the reform bills that gives the EPA the ability to declare substances “low-priority” based on a finding that the chemical is “likely to meet” the safety standard, thereby leaving them off the official assessment table. That’s a loophole that, according Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ national campaign director Andy Igrejas, lets industry off the hook:

A low-priority designation is a new form of pro-active non-assessment. It is effectively a hall pass for the chemical; a declaration that EPA will not review the chemical so it is therefore free to roam the economy and potentially your home without any restrictions. All on the back of “likely to.” This distinction, which confers many of the benefits of being declared “safe” but without a thorough safety evaluation, is likely to be coveted by chemical companies.

Is it possible that the low-priority designation isn’t just coveted by chemical companies, but was actually written by them? Hearst Newspapers obtained a copy of the draft bill in the form of a Microsoft Word document, which has led to questions concerning the bill’s authorship. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a Hearst paper, accessing the document’s “advanced properties” revealed that the company of origin was none other than the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s powerful lobbying group. Ken Cook, president of the non-profit Environmental Working Group, was quick to denounce the legislative process behind chemicals reform. “We’re apparently at the point in the minds of some people in the Congress that laws intended to regulate polluters are now written by the polluters themselves,” he said.

Indeed, the chemical industry is so far supportive of the reform. "Updating the Toxic Substances Control Act is critical for our industry, one that creates the building blocks for 96 percent of all manufactured goods, playing a fundamental role in every facet of national commerce and the U.S. economy," the American Chemistry Council said in a statement. According to the trade group, the Senate bill balances the needs of the public to be informed about chemicals in the marketplace without getting in the way of the industry’s job to make the kinds of chemicals — toxic though they might be — that manufacturers need.

Igrejas also notes that the Senate bill “weakens EPA’s ability to intercept imported products, like most of the toys under your Christmas tree, when they contain a known toxic chemical.” Following the March 2015 hearing by the Senate environment committee, he wrote, “The overwhelming conclusion to any but the most partisan observer was that the bill — though improved over last year’s version — needs additional work before it represents true progress for public health and gathers the broader support needed to become law.”

Sen. Tom Udall with members of Moms Clean Air Force at a TSCA rally in Washington D.C., on Oct. 6, 2015. (image: Senate Democrats States Rights vs. Federal Oversight

But perhaps the most dramatic change that would be ushered in by the new legislation as it is currently written regards the role of states, which would have diminished control. The new law threatens to undo state-led efforts to protect citizens in light of failures at the federal level. “The toxics tug-of-war in state houses,” says Ronnie Greene of the Center for Public Integrity, “is direct fallout from the muddled environmental politicking of Washington, D.C.” Notably, the new law would block states from taking direct action on potentially hazardous chemicals while the EPA makes its own assessments, which could delay rolling out necessary steps to protect public and environmental health, possibly for years.

In a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, California State Attorney General Kamala Harris said it “is deeply troubling given the enormous time lag certain to occur between the beginning of an EPA assessment and the effective date of any federal safety rule.” The federal time lag is truly extraordinary. In 2010, for example, the EPA added 16 new cancer-causing chemicals to the list of toxic substances that must be reported to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), which allows the American public to know what kinds of chemicals might be polluting their communities.

It was the first time chemicals had been added to the list in over a decade.

Harris wasn’t the only state AG to come out against the Senate bill. A week after it was introduced, the state attorneys general of Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New York, Oregon and Washington sent a similar letter to Sens. Boxer and James Inhofe (R-OK), the environment committee chairman. They write:

We oppose S. 697’s broadly expanded limitations on the ability of states to take appropriate action under state laws to protect against … risks posed by chemicals and chemical mixtures … In contrast to the existing law, S. 697 would prevent states from adopting new laws or regulations, or taking other administrative action, “prohibiting or restricting the manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce or use” of a chemical substance deemed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to be a “high-priority” for federal review even before any federal restrictions have been established. As a result, a void would be created where states would be prevented from acting to protect their citizens and the environment from those chemicals even though federal restrictions may not be in place for many years. S. 697 also eliminates two key provisions in the existing law that preserve state authority to protect against dangerous chemicals. One is the provision that provides for “co-enforcement” — allowing states to adopt and enforce state restrictions that are identical to federal restrictions in order to provide for additional enforcement of the law. The second is the provision that allows states to ban in-state use of dangerous chemicals.

Last month, Sharon Lerner, who covers the environment for The Intercept, wrote an article focusing on the effect the TSCA reform bill would have on the work that is happening on the state level. “If the worst provisions from both bills wind up in the final law,” she writes, “the new legislation will gut laws that have put Oregon, California, Maine, Vermont, Minnesota and Washington state at the forefront of chemical regulation.”

Lerner told me that there are almost 20,000 chemicals currently on the marketplace whose identities remain unknown because they're protected by law. “They're considered confidential to business, and you can't check the safety of something if you don't know the identity of it,” she said. Under the new legislation, she added, “none of that will change. I think it's really important to remember that.”

But there is still time to make the final bill that reaches the president’s desk one that will please more of the stakeholders. But ultimately, legislators mustn’t lose sight of the bill’s basic goal: to protect people, wildlife and the environment from dangerous substances. “Luckily, it is not too late,” Igrejas said in a statement. “When Congress reconciles the House and Senate versions, they should focus on the fundamentals of reform and simply empower and direct EPA to identify and restrict toxic chemicals.” And they shouldn’t let corporate interests make the sausage.

Plastics and other toxic substances have arguably helped shape the modern world in many positive ways. But the rules governing their use, and the way those rules have been written, are problematic, to say the least. As Dustin Hoffman remarked in The Graduate, “The rules don't make any sense to me. They're being made up by all the wrong people.”

  Read Battle Lines Are Drawn in One of the Biggest Fights Against Toxic Chemicals in Decades
 February 24, 2016
Four Billion People Experience Water Scarcity

by Sharmini Peries, The Real News Network, AlterNet


A half a billion people around the world experience severe freshwater scarcity all year round, while 4 billion people on the planet currently experience freshwater scarcity at least one month of the year, says a new study. With us to discuss these staggering new numbers is one of the authors of the benchmark study that is titled Four Billion People Facing Severe Water Scarcity by Arjen Hoekstra and his coauthor Mesfin Mekonnen. Arjen Hoekstra is professor in water management at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. His latest book is titled The Water Footprint of Modern Consumer Society. It explores the full water footprint of consumer goods.
Video and full transcript below:

PERIES: Arjen, so these are astounding numbers. Four billion, two-thirds of the world's population are experiencing freshwater scarcity. How did you come up with these numbers, and what was the previous study that a lot of people are referring to that overlooked the gravity of the problem?
HOEKSTRA: The past studies always looked at the annual water consumption, and the annual water availability. But this hides, obviously, the fact that the water availability and water demand are highly variable within the year, with water scarcity occurring only part of the year, that being a very severe part of the year. So what we did is we looked at the water footprint, the water consumption of different activities, including agriculture industry, also municipal water use, so the water footprint of different activities from place to place in high spatial resolution, but also from month to month. And then for every place we compared water footprint, water consumption, to the water availability, which shows scarcity for month to month and place by place.
PERIES: And so in your study, who is experiencing the worst case scenario, in terms of water scarcity, access to fresh water?
HOEKSTRA: Now, you see, some places have only one month per year of severe water scarcity, but other places two months, three months, up to even a full year. Now, what we see is that most of the people facing severe water scarcity live in India and in China, but there are also many small countries that face [water] scarcity year round, like Yemen, for instance, or other countries in the Middle East. So those people, they, they have really the problem of, of water supply. Particularly to agriculture, because for drinking we don't need so much water. So water scarcity primarily translates to the risk of [inaud.] of food.
PERIES: So can you talk about the main drivers of water scarcity? What is causing it, is it climate change, is it population, urbanization? What's the cause?
HOEKSTRA: Primarily it's population growth, plus the fact that we consume way more water per person. And the latter is because we have different diets nowadays, more and more meat in our diet. And a meat-based diet is more water-intensive than a diet with no meat consumption. Also we consume more and more biofuels nowadays, and the [inaud.] we produce, and also require a lot of land and water resources. So the population growth plus the increasing demand for water per capita drives water scarcity. But on top of that we have climate change, which means that particularly in dry areas, and dry periods of the year, we expect reduced water availability. In this way we see even enhanced water scarcity in those regions that are affected by climate change.
PERIES: Now, Arjen, how did you conduct the study? What was the methodology?
HOEKSTRA: We used an incredible amount of data, and then a couple models to estimate both water use and water availability. So you can imagine we used maps where crops are grown, when and where they are irrigated. We used climate data, like presentations and temperature, and soil data, and all this to estimate the water use in agriculture and irrigation. But then we also used population density maps and data industry to know where is the, the water demand of people and industries. And all that water demand, we aggregate it from place to place, and then compare to total water demand in every place to the water availability, which depends on the precipitation, minus the evaporation. And this is then the amount of water that is available for the agricultural industry and households.
PERIES: So Arjen, the numbers that the UN is referring to is much lower in terms of water scarcity and how many billions of people are affected by shortages. What is the difference between your numbers and their numbers, and why?
HOEKSTRA: Earlier studies, they looked at the annual statistics on water use and water availability, which hides the severity of the issue, because generally water scarcity is not full year round, but only during a specific period. But that can still be very severe. So the previous studies, including those cited by the UN, they show kind of an annual average of people having severe water scarcity. Well, we show it really month by month, and show that four billion people live in areas that have at least one month of severe water scarcity in a year.
PERIES: So Arjen, what's a solution? What are you recommending as a result of your study?
HOEKSTRA: Now, we have quite a different number of recommendations for both government companies, investors, consumers. Because we think that all those different people and organizations will be involved and have some responsibility. Governments, for instance, have to formulate what we call water footprint caps, their information, their months, in order to ensure that water footprints don't go beyond what the sustainable level, [inaud.] per month. We think that a company should know what is reasonable, and water use per product. So we propose water[proofing] benchmarks by product based on best available technology and practice so that companies can set reduction targets for their own waterproofing of their products, and in this way help to solve the water crisis. We believe that consumers have to kind of reconsider their consumption pattern, because particularly a misconception probably contributes to the water demand worldwide, and can be reduced by eating less meat. And finally, investors will be important because generally investment decisions are being made without considerations of the impacts on the water scarcity situation. Nowadays climate impacts are being incorporated in investment decisions. We believe that also impacts on global water scarcity need to be incorporated in those kind of decisions.
  Read Four Billion People Experience Water Scarcity
 March 4, 2016
Methane Discovered in Drinking Water Near Fracking Wells

by Padma Nagappan, TakePart, AlterNet


A Stanford University scientist has found that people who live near shallowly drilled oil and natural gas wells risk drinking water contaminated with methane.

A potent greenhouse gas, methane is highly flammable.  

“The main risk is from chemical spills and poorly constructed wells that leak,” said Rob Jackson, a professor of earth system science at Stanford, who presented his findings at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington, D.C., last week. “Our research shows that most problems typically occur within half a mile.”

“In Parker County, Texas, we found homes with very high levels of methane when their water bubbled due to gas,” Jackson said. “The biggest risk from methane in water is explosions, which could happen in a basement or sheds where gas builds up. Also, a well that leaks methane could be leaking other things into the groundwater.”

The government does not classify methane dissolved in drinking water as a health hazard  

Such contamination was typically traced to natural gas wells with insufficient cement barriers to separate them from surrounding rock and water, or to improperly installed steel casings that allow the gas to travel upward.

Hydraulic fracturing wells that were installed at depths of 3,000 feet or less posed a risk for groundwater contamination. Jackson found there were at least 2,600 such shallow fracking wells in the United States, many of which were drilled directly into freshwater aquifers.

“There are a lot of pockets of natural gas and oil that are found in shallow levels, plus we don’t do very deep drilling because of seismic activity,” he said.

Regions of the U.S. with the highest risk for groundwater contamination from fracking include California as well as parts of Pennsylvania and Texas where bedrock is naturally fractured.Millions of abandoned oil and gas wells in California, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and other gas-producing states also pose a threat.

Local geology plays a role in leaks. For instance, when Jackson sampled groundwater in Arkansas, he didn’t encounter contamination because rock formations provided a seal against potential leaks.

But fracking has led to significant increases in groundwater contamination in Pennsylvania and Texas. He found high levels of methane, ethane, and propane in the drinking water of homeowners living within half a mile of wells in northeastern Pennsylvania, near the Marcellus shale gas field.

“Fracking can be and is done safely much of the time,” Jackson said. “Occasionally, though, companies make mistakes. We need to understand why they occur and how to prevent them from happening elsewhere.”

  Read Methane Discovered in Drinking Water Near Fracking Wells
 March 4, 2016
Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach Highest Point in 15 Million Years

by Dahr Jamail, Truthout, AlterNet


Recently, a Norwegian Coast Guard icebreaker ship took an interesting trip into the Arctic. The ship found no ice to break, despite the fact that it was the dead of winter and barely 800 miles from the North Pole.

Indeed, record-low levels of Arctic sea ice are becoming normal. The ice is disappearing before our very eyes.

Satellite data now shows we are witnessing a very rapid acceleration in global sea level rise. In the last six years, oceans have risen by five millimeters per year, which is a rate not seen since the ending of the last Ice Age - and it is accelerating.

One of the most alarming indicators of ever-accelerating anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) this writer has witnessed since beginning these dispatches is the fact that atmospheric carbon dioxide, in early February, reached a level not seen on the planet in the last 15 million years.

Thanks to humans, the earth was (since the 1990s) already experiencing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in a realm not experienced on the planet since the Pliocene epoch, which was the period 2.6 to 5.3 million years ago that saw atmospheric carbon dioxide levels between 350 and 405 parts per million and average global temperatures that ranged between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius warmer than the climate of the 1880s.

Now we must brace ourselves for a new world, as carbon dioxide levels exceed even that epoch - a time when global sea levels were 80 feet higher than they are today.

Reaching 405.66 parts per million has brought us into another epoch - the epoch of the Anthropocene, as ACD impacts are becoming more apparent by the day.

This year is already on pace to be hotter than the previous hottest year ever recorded, which was 2015. NASA recently reported that January 2016 was by far the hottest January on record. January 2016 blew out the previous record for hottest January (2007) by nearly 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

Also in January, the Arctic averaged a stunning 13.5 degrees Fahrenheit above average temperatures, which led to a new record low of Arctic sea ice extent for the month.

NASA data shows that the previous 12 months have also been the hottest 12-month period every recorded, using the space agency's 12-month moving average.

It cannot be overstated how shockingly dramatic the changes impacting the Arctic are this winter. We should all be highly alarmed by the fact that throughout the Arctic above 70 degrees north latitude, January temperatures averaged between 7 and 23 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than usual for, most incredibly, the entire month.

What we are witnessing there is unprecedented, as the January average temperatures in the area of the Arctic above 80 degrees north latitude were the same as they usually are for April. Literally, the further north you go, the warmer it becomes.

Keep these stunning changes in the Arctic in mind, as this month's global survey of abrupt climate disruption continues.


Evidence of ACD progressing more rapidly than ever continues to abound when we inspect what is happening on the ground.

This past December and January were filled with firsts across the United Kingdom. December 2015 proved to be both the warmest and wettest ever recorded, followed abruptly by a day that saw more than 600 species of flowers in bloom, whereas a normal (pre-ACD year) would have seen between 30 and 40 species in bloom.

Recent research published in Royal Society Open Science provided some even more disturbing news: The increasingly warm temperatures associated with ACD are causing some eggs to hatch earlier than others. In other words, ACD is removing birds' control over when their eggs hatch.

The news is equally dismal for the beautiful snowshoe hare. A study published inEcology Letters in January shows that animals like this particular hare, which have camouflage that changes to match the seasons, will now be much more vulnerable to their predators, thanks to later arriving winter snows and earlier spring melting.

Up in Alaska, it's so hot now that the traditional hunt for bearded seal last summer was cut abnormally short due to melted ice, causing the Native community there to worry about losing the ability to continue with their traditional ways of acquiring food and practicing their culture. Normally, the hunt lasts an average of three weeks; this year, it lasted less than a week.

recently released report shows that the Yukon, like the Arctic, is already experiencing dramatic ACD impacts. The Yukon's temperature is rising twice as fast as it is elsewhere around the planet, according to the report, and the region has already lost at least 22 percent of its glacial cover.

ACD's impacts continue to mount in the Antarctic as well. A recent study shows a "major decline" of penguins in the Antarctic. One colony will likely disappear altogether within 20 years, due to increasingly large icebergs (due to rapid warming of the ice shelf causing them to calve) cutting off penguins' access to the sea where they feed.

ACD is also impacting soil productivity in agriculture, which is in turn making societies more vulnerable, according to a recent report. Consistent degradation of soils means that hundreds of millions of people around the globe will likely become displaced due to the lack of an ability to grow food in the coming decades.

recent report on Bangladesh reveals that upwards of 20 million people there will likely lose their homes by 2050 due to various aspects of ACD, including increasingly severe storms, sea level rise and erosion.

Emergency response organizations, including the United States' Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), are now using climate data in order to better prepare themselves to deal with weather-related disasters, which are becoming far more frequent and severe.

The US Southwest, already by far the hottest and most arid region of the country, is set to enter what experts are diplomatically calling a "drier climate state." A recent study shows that rains and mountain snows are drying up, and many experts already believe the region has entered a multidecade megadrought.

Similarly, another report shows how experts are scrambling to figure out what is causing the tropics, and dry zones next to them, to expand rapidly toward the poles. While the heart of the tropics is lush, the northern and southern edges are quite dry, and those parched borders are now rapidly growing both to the north and south.


Speaking of droughts, in Zimbabwe, drought has become so intense that the country is asking for an additional $1.6 billion in aid to help buy grains and other food to help more than 3 million people already in desperate need. The drought there is bad enough that the country's president, Robert Mugabe, recently declared a state of emergency.

recent study assessed the likelihood that "dust bowl" conditions will emerge in the United States in the 21st century, and found that a dust bowl similar to that of the 1930s would have just as intense an impact on agriculture - but that the next one might be even larger.

A recent analysis in the journal Science Advances shows that global water scarcity is a far, far greater problem than many had previously thought: It is already affecting 4 billion people - two-thirds of the world's population - and will be "one of the most difficult and important challenges of this century," as the water table "all over the world" continues to drop, according to the recent study.

Meanwhile, up in the Arctic, distressing new information from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado, shows that Arctic sea ice extent has settled to its fourth-lowest level ever measured at the end of the most recent melt season. In January, the ice extent hit a new record-low average for the month. Then, in the beginning days of February, the Arctic sea ice extent and area both broke records again, as the entire global sea ice area entered the second-lowest range ever to have been recorded.

The shrinking of the ice is having immediate and severe impacts on wildlife:A recent study shows that polar bears in Alaska, due to shrinking and faster-moving ice, are having to work harder in order to continue to live in the northern regions of that state, where they prefer to hunt. This means the bears now must catch and eat as many as four additional seals every year in order to maintain the caloric content they need to overcome the distances they must travel.

Down in the Antarctic, a recent study warns that glaciers there are increasingly vulnerable to quickening melting as water temperatures in the Southern Ocean continue to warm.

In the northeastern Pacific Ocean during 2014, millions of starfish up and down the West Coast, from Mexico all the way to Alaska, died off. That strange occurrence wasrecently linked to warming ocean waters. In the northeastern Pacific, waters have reached their warmest temperatures in decades - a trend driven by ACD, according to recent findings.

More distressing news about the decline of life in the oceans came in with another report, which shows that ocean acidification (fueled by ACD) is expected to cause skeletal deformities in half of global juvenile corals, making them increasingly susceptible to dying off.

Also on the ocean front, a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that warming oceans are actually making coastal flooding worse. According to the study, this is because of the expansion of warming waters, which caused as much sea level rise from 2002 through 2014 as the melting of all the glaciers and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets combined.

Hence, another report revealed how the US East Coast is now considered to be a "hot spot" for rising seas driven by ACD. This is due to several ACD-linked factors, including warming water (which expands as it warms), more severe storms and a stronger Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, on which Truthout previously reported in detail.

Some interesting ramifications of these ACD impacts driving water shortages are already playing out in North Carolina, where population growth, industrial development, sea level rise and other factors are already threatening the availability of freshwater, and have kicked up competition for water rights.

The East Coast isn't the only part of the United States that is facing freshwater availability issues. A recent report from Climate Central shows that there will be an increase in the continuing trend of more rain and less snow during US winters, which will impact the Pacific Northwest, California and other parts of the United States as well.

We recently saw the occurrence of the first ACD refugees in the United States, when Native Americans living in the marsh of Louisiana were awarded $48 million from the federal government in order to relocate off of their disappearing land, which is being swallowed by rising seas.

Lastly in this section, the impact of the ongoing drought in California continues in the state's driest county, Tulare, where there continues to be no running water - and no solutions.


A massive outbreak of major wildfires across western and central Africa ignited recently. Spanning a half-dozen countries, the 1,400-mile-long swath of fire is visible from space. It has created an apocalyptic scene across a region of Africa that was already beset with record-breaking drought and staggering levels of hunger.

It is worth noting that wildfire incidences like this one, which are occurring across the globe now more frequently, with greater severity, and causing more damage than ever, also function as yet another feedback loop in regard to ACD: As the planet warms, arid regions dry further, causing more wildfires, which warm the planet further, and so the cycle amplifies itself.


Scientists now believe that the massive blizzard that struck the US East Coast wasfueled by ACD. Higher-than-normal Atlantic surface waters off the East Coast acted to fuel the storm, and hence, larger-than-ever East Coast snowstorms are now becoming the norm.

Hotter air and water temperatures in and over the Pacific caused the most powerful cyclone ever recorded, with sustained winds hitting 200 miles per hour. The cyclone hit Fiji and killed at least 19 people.

Meanwhile, as air and water temperatures around the globe continue to warm, health experts have warned that diseases like the mosquito-borne Zika virus may well become worse and more prevalent across the planet.

record-setting heat wave in California saw stunningly warm temperatures for the middle of February. Up and down the coast of that state, record high temperatures were seen, including 89 degrees Fahrenheit in Los Angeles, 94 in Orange County and 77 in San Francisco.

Lastly in this section, a recent study shows how ACD is making westbound transatlantic flights significantly longer. Climate disruption is strengthening high altitude winds by speeding up the jet stream, as it has long since been expected to do.

Denial and Reality

There is never a dull month in the ACD-denial section, particularly when one lives in the United States.

In late January, a group of US states, led by oil-producing Texas and coal-producing West Virginia, asked the Supreme Court to put a hold on President Obama's aims to curb carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in order to mitigate ACD.

A 1982 report by the American Petroleum Institute shows that, even then, the group knew of ACD's impacts. Their report states that ACD "can have serious consequences for man's comfort and survival."

The Heartland Institute, a think tank funded by the fossil fuel industry and infamous for backing ACD denial, recently distributed a non-science-based report denying the scientific consensus on ACD to elected officials.

Still, the proponents of a reality-based approach to climate disruption are always growing. A recent poll shows that the vast majority of Americans back government action aimed at mitigating the impacts of ACD.

Decisions around mitigation measures will have long-ranging effects: A recently published study in Nature Climate Change looks into the "deep time" implications of carbon dioxide impacts and found that government policies today that are being set to mitigate (or not) carbon dioxide impacts will have implications spanning at least the next 10,000 years.

Meanwhile, the so-called Doomsday Clock, a symbolic countdown to global catastrophe that is maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, remains unchanged at three minutes until midnight. The clock's hands "are the closest they've been to catastrophe since the early days of above-ground hydrogen bomb testing" in the 1950s, largely due to the ongoing threats to the planet from ACD.

Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009, and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last ten years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

  Read Carbon Dioxide Levels Reach Highest Point in 15 Million Years
 March 8, 2016
Do You Care About the Environment? If So, You Should Also Care About Gender

by Yasmine Williams, Natalie Elwell, WRI Insights, AlterNet


International Women’s Day is March 8, and this year’s theme is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality.” So what does gender equality have to do with the environment?

Mounting evidence shows that advancements in gender equality could have a profoundly positive impact on social and environmental well-being. But if not managed properly, environment projects can actually spur gender inequality. It’s a connection that anyone working in the environment and sustainable development space must keep in mind.

Without careful planning, environmental projects have the potential to perpetuate gender inequality.

Inattention to the different needs and priorities of men and women and the disparities between them when it comes to rights and natural resources is a barrier to achieving environment and development objectives.  Without proactively identifying and addressing relevant gender issues, environmental projects have the potential to not only perpetuate disparities, but may even widen the gap between men and women.

For example, the international Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program, or REDD+ , was designed to reduce emissions by offering developing nations payment for conserving their forests. However, studies show that this framework will not benefit men and women equally. In fact, women have been excluded from the policy formulation process both nationally and locally. In Nepal, few women-focused groups were included in the proposal stage. As a result, Nepal’s REDD+ readiness proposal did not include a framework to include women in the decision-making process and overlooked the different needs of men and women in forestry management. In Cameroon, women already lack secure access to forests and informal norms and biases often result in women not getting invited to forest governance meetings. Without an intentional focus on and inclusion of gender concerns, REDD+ could unintentionally perpetuate inequity.

Women are active agents of conservation and restoration.

Globally, the evidence has been mounting in linking gender equality and enhanced environmental outcomes. For example, countries with more women in their parliaments are more likely to set aside protected land areas and ratify international environmental treaties.  In fact, evidence reveals that there is a correlation between environment and gender; when gender inequality is high, forest depletion, air pollution and other measures of environmental degradation are also high. 

But effectively engaging women is not just about avoiding negative consequences. Women are active agents of conservation and restoration of natural resources, as their caregiving responsibilities and livelihood activities are often highly dependent on these resources. For instance, in almost three-quarters of households without drinkable water, women are primarily responsible for collecting it.

There are also examples from around the world on how women are leading responses to climate change by modifying growing patterns, developing water harvesting and soil conservation initiatives, managing disaster risk reduction and response plans, and adopting consumption patterns that reduce the footprint of households and communities. Women leaders globally are working to strengthen their countries’ efforts to halt environmental degradation and improve the lives of women and their families.  In cities around the world, women leaders are hard at work improving sustainability by promoting bike sharing programssafe public transport and urban trees, while their rural counterparts work to restore landscapes and improve access to clean sources of energy.

Additionally, there is growing evidence that community management of natural resources is improved by having management groups consisting of both men and women. For example, in India and Nepal, studies have shown that when women participate in forest management and decision-making processes at the community level, we see better forest conservation. And there are many lessons about how to facilitate this kind of governance to go beyond simply meeting the basic needs of women, to equitably engaging them in decision making and leadership and expanding social boundaries.

Walking the Talk at WRI

At WRI, our commitment to social equity compels us to develop approaches to environmental challenges that actually catalyze gender equality while enhancing the outcomes of our technical work.  Over the past few years, WRI pilot-tested approaches to gender integration within various technical projects.  By hiring a Senior Gender Advisor WRI committed to embracing a comprehensive approach to gender integration in all that we do. Projects across the institute now respond to gender and social issues relevant to the environment challenges they were designed to address.  For example, we work with WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities to ensure that the design of public transport systems takes women’s safety concerns into account. Looking ahead, we will work with Global Forest Watch to add gender information to their data set.

It is sometimes easier to focus solely on external programs, but gender equality affects us personally as well in our professional growth, our work/life balance and our sense of worth and security.  We also want to shift the norms of the development community by promoting gender balance in public events, and have developed a set of recommendations for our staff, to inspire and guide this change.

As we build our knowledge and capacity, we hope to share with partners and peers the lessons, data and guidance that emerges (see our topic page for more resources). By addressing gender equality in our work both externally and internally, we have the chance to provide tangible, positive results in people’s lives and tackle the most important sustainable development challenges of our work.

Yasmine Alotaibi Williams is the communications specialist for the Communications Department at WRI. 

Natalie Elwell is the senior gender advisor at WRI working to ensure that WRI’s programs, activities, and policies benefit women and men equally and contribute to gender equity

  Read Do You Care About the Environment? If So, You Should Also Care About Gender
 March 8, 2016
To Prevent a Global Food Crisis, Women Need to Have the Same Access to Resources as Men

by Anika Rahman, Huffington Post, AlterNet


As we eat and celebrate this International Women's Day, let's pause to think about how women are involved in producing food. Why? Because focusing on women involved in agriculture will enable us to tackle the key issues of our time - gender inequality and climate change. Women have a crucial role to play in global natural resource management, environmental sustainability and food security.

Women comprise, on average, 43 percent of the agricultural labor force in low and middle income countries, ranging from 20 percent in Latin America to 50 percent in Eastern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, an estimated two-thirds of poor livestock keepers, totaling approximately 400 million people, are women.


Tea plucker Rael Cheket Limo works on Unilever’s Kerichio Tea Estate in Kenya, where employees earn anywhere from three to five times the national average. “This money means we are saving so we can afford to educate our daughters at secondary school and university. I hope they will become pilots, or even doctors,” she says. (photo credit: Caroline Irby)

Moreover, agriculture is becoming increasingly feminized as men migrate to cities and women stay on the farm. As the world approaches 9 billion people, agricultural production will need to be 60% higher than 2005-2007 levels.

Despite the importance of women in this sector and the anticipated need to enhance agricultural productivity, women continue to have unequal access to resources, land, income, information and technology. They also play a limited role in policy formulation and decision-making related to the environment. Women are often excluded from local decision-making with regard to natural resources. Such exclusion is often a reflection of gender inequality in roles and responsibilities as well as women's time constraints.


Andi Mustika is a researcher for the Indonesia Ministry of Forestry. Seen here gathering data, Andi was one of twenty students in South Sulawesi, Indonesia, who received training from the Rainforest Alliance to teach farmers about composting, sanitation, and climate smart agriculture. (photo credit: William Crosse)

If women had the same access to production resources as men, they could increase yields on their farms by 20-30%. This could boost agricultural yield in low and middle-income nations by 2.5-4% and reduce the number of undernourished people in the world by 100 to 150 million.

Agriculture also has a central role to play in climate change because it is responsible for 80% of global deforestation, a major contributing factor to carbon emissions. The drive to increase food production to meet increasing world demand poses a huge threat to the world's forests. The recent Paris Agreement that resulted from COP21 clearly states that "sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries" can help to reduce carbon emissions. The loss of forests around the world also continues to threaten biodiversity and increase soil erosion.

Grecia López is the president of the Ramón Nut Value Chain Committee, a group of women in the Petén region of northern Guatemala. The ramón nut, a nutrient-rich tree seed, once grew in the rainforests of Petén virtually unnoticed. “We didn’t place any value on the ramón nut; it grew in the forest and that’s where it stayed,” says Grecia, who lives in one of Petén’s rainforest communities. “But now we see that it’s a very important resource—one that brings employment to the women of our communities.” This greater economic independence brings the women of Petén increased empowerment, and with it, greater investments in health, education, and women´s participation in decision-making. (photo credit: Rainforest Alliance)

One key solution to these global challenges is to can empower rural women producers and enhance their role in sustainable agriculture. Environmental protection, and consequently sustainable development, require that both women and men are actively involved in preserving natural resources and participating in local and higher level environmental decision-making. When it comes to forests, women participate far less than men in formal forest user groups in tropical forests as well as in countries such as Canada.

While there are no quick fixes to the deeply rooted social and cultural practices that result in gender inequality and the marginalization of specific communities, there are several examples of successful programs that advance both women and the environment.


In Peru, recognition of women's harvesting rights has resulted in increased incomes for indigenous communities involved in non-timber forest products. In the Amazonian region of Madre de Dios,one-third of concession holders and a significant percentage of the labor force related to Brazil nut collection and production are women.

Yet, harvesting rights of indigenous women were only recently recognized. These rights have enabled women harvesters to access credit independently, with the result that 39% of the credit lines granted by a local bank for Brazil nut collection went to female heads of household. This was the first time that the indigenous Brazil nut harvesters received credit, which has contributed to a price increase of 18% for its Brazil nuts. The harvesters were able to fully repay their loan and the bank is interested in financing next year's harvest.

In the forested areas of West Africa, training in sustainable agriculture practices targeted to women is contributing to increased productivity and improved nutrition. Access to training has enabled Ghanaian farmer Vida Tsatso Boaful is a cocoa farmer at Nkranfum, a community in the Assin North Municipality in Ghana. Since she received training and started using more sustainable practices on her farm, her yield is up from 3 bags of cocoa per acre to 10 bags per acre. “I used to feel intimidated amongst my fellow farmers but after some time in this program, that inferiority complex has vanished to the extent that I can even speak boldly in the presence of the men. I think other women in other cocoa farming communities can do the same, or even better, when trained,” Vida said. (photo credit: Rainforest Alliance)


In neighboring Côte d'Ivoire, a group of women involved in cocoa farming on the border of Taï National Park are helping to improve local nutrition and protect biodiversity. They have received training in rearing livestock to prevent the poaching and consumption of bushmeat. Several women are using chicken eggs as a sustainable protein alternative as well as a potential source of income.

These examples from Latin America and Africa provide robust evidence that enhancing women's decision-making related to natural resource management and providing them with access to credit and training on par with men results in social benefits and productivity at least equal to that of men. Studies have also indicated that $10 of increased women's income achieves the same amount of improvement in children's nutrition and health as $110 of increased men's income.

As we buy and eat food this International Women's Day, let's remember the crucial connection between women, food and our global struggle for equality and climate change. Let's commit to taking actions that advance women and our planet's future.


Anika Rahman is the Vice President of Development at the Rainforest Alliance. Previously, she was President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women, the leading U.S. social justice foundation for women. She has also served as the the President of Friends for United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the world’s largest funder of reproductive and sexual health programs. For more information, visit www.anikarahman.org.

  Read To Prevent a Global Food Crisis, Women Need to Have the Same Access to Resources as Men
 March 9, 2016
How Just One Consequence of Climate Change Will Cause 500,000 to Die by 2050

by Nicole Mormann, TakePart, AlterNet


It’s an age-old scenario at the family dinner table: parents or caregivers nagging kids to eat their vegetables. But while some children need a little prodding to eat their peas or Brussels sprouts, according to new research published Thursday in the medical journal The Lancet, thanks to climate change, future generations might not even grow up with something green and healthy to hate.  

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Oxford, predicts that the effects of rising temperatures could decimate nutritious crops, thus killing as many as half a million people every year by 2050. “The health burden related to climate change is much bigger than we thought,” Peter Scarborough, one of the study’s authors and researcher at the University of Oxford, England, told The Guardian.

The study links the leading cause of deaths overall to reductions in fruit and vegetable supplies. Eating a diet rich in those items reduces the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer—and can lower blood pressure and the risk of obesity. Yet if carbon emissions continue to rise, by 2050 the amount of fruits and vegetables available to people would be cut by 4 percent, followed by calories being cut by 3 percent, and red and processed meat by less than 1 percent, according to the study.

“Climate change leads to changes in temperature and precipitation that are expected to reduce global crop productivity, cause changes in food production and consumption and affect global population health by changing the composition of diets and, with it, the profile of dietary and weight-related risk factors and associated mortalities,” wrote the study’s authors.

The researchers estimated the number of projected deaths by examining the risk associated with changes to fruit and vegetable consumption, and red meat consumption, as well as the average bodyweight for deaths linked to heart disease, stroke, and other conditions affected by poor diet.

They found that about 529,000 more people would die in 2050 if severe climate change continues to affect food supplies. While the study found that reducing red and processed meat will prevent some 29,000 deaths, an overall decreased calorie intake will result in more people dying from starvation, namely in India and China. Overall, a majority of nations are projected to see an increase in deaths should climate change worsen within the next few decades, wrote the study’s authors.

As countries work to develop new environmental policies following the climate talks in Paris, the world experienced its hottest January in recorded history. That comes on the heels of 2015 being the hottest year since records began being kept.

There are some signs of hope: In nations like Norway and Denmark, policymakers hope to cut vehicle emissions by making it easier for bicyclists to commute. Norway announced last week it’s planning to spend about $8 million building a bicycle highway as a means of cutting carbon emissions by half.

Cutting carbon emissions, as well as improving education and availability of produce, can reduce the projected number of deaths, said Scarborough. Yet, according to the study, even with initiatives to reduce emissions, such as sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, over 150,000 more deaths will occur in 2050 because of climate-caused poor nutrition.

This article originally appeared on TakePart.com. Reprinted with permission.

Nicole Mormann is TakePart's editorial fellow. She covers a variety of topics, including social justice, entertainment, lifestyle and environment.

  Read How Just One Consequence of Climate Change Will Cause 500,000 to Die by 2050
 March 11, 2016
Bill McKibben and Dozens More Arrested in Ongoing Campaign Against Proposed Gas Storage (VIDEO)

by Sandra Steingraber, EcoWatch, AlterNet


The fight over the fate of the Finger Lakes received national attention today when best-selling author, environmentalist and founder of 350.orgBill McKibben, joined the opposition. McKibben, 55, was arrested this morning with 56 area residents as part of an ongoing civil disobedience campaign against proposed gas storage in Seneca Lake’s abandoned salt caverns.

This is a developing story, but at this time all arrestees have been released except for McKibben who is still in custody at the Schuyler County sheriff’s department.


Bill McKibben was arrested by a Schuyler County sheriff for disorderly conduct for blocking a truck from entering Crestwood’s Seneca Lake methane gas storage facility. Photo credit: We Are Seneca Lake

Organized by the direct action group, We Are Seneca Lake, the protesters formed a human blockade on the driveway of the gas storage and transportation company, Crestwood Midstream. During the blockade, which began shortly after sunrise, the protesters blocked all traffic entering and leaving the facility.

In a public statement to fellow blockaders, McKibben thanked We Are Seneca Lake for serving as a “curtain raiser” for the larger global movement to break free from fossil fuels that is now unfolding in frontline communities all over the planet.

“Today and every day there are places like this where people are standing up … This place is so important because it’s one of the places where people are understanding that it’s not just carbon dioxide we are fighting, it’s also methane, that there are two greenhouse gases and they are both spurring this incredible heating that we are seeing,” McKibben said. “If we can hold off the fossil fuel industry for just a few more years, this stuff will never be built again.”

Also arrested today were several prominent local residents. Among them were the Rev. Felicity Wright, pastor of Elmira’s famed Park Church, and Phil Davis, 63, co-owner and operator of Damiani Wine Cellars on the east shore of Seneca Lake and a seventh-generation resident of Schuyler County.

Ranging in age from 30 to 76, today’s protesters represented at least 19 different New York counties.

At 6:45 a.m., the group unfurled banners that read, “Methane is Madness. Break Free from Fossil Fuels” and “We Are Seneca Lake. Can You Hear Us Now?”

The group was charged with disorderly conducted and arrested shortly before 8 a.m. by Schuyler County deputies, Watkins Glen police and New York State troopers, and transported to the Schuyler County Sheriff’s department.

The total number of arrests in the 17-month-old civil disobedience campaign has now surpassed 500.

“Climate change is not only an economic and ecological crisis. It is also, for many of us, a moral and spiritual crisis,” Rev. Wright said during the blockade. “Pope Francis understood this well when, in his recent encyclical on the climate crisis, he asks, ‘What kind of world do we want to leave … for those come after us?’ And the answer must be: a world that supports creation, and a world that allows us to be divine agents for what is holy, good and true.”

Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in October 2014 in the face of broad public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of Seneca Lake, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.

Crestwood also seeks to store two other products of fracking in Seneca Lake salt caverns — propane and butane (so-called Liquefied Petroleum Gases, LPG) — for which it is awaiting a decision by Gov. Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

“I will stand once again in resistance to this imposition of corporate will upon our people and our land and water,” Davis said this morning. “There is an attitude of arrogance and dismissiveness in the Crestwood communiqués — regarding environmental concerns, community safety concerns, area business concerns — that I find so offensive that I can’t stand by without joining to further the outcry of opposition. My family has been a part of this community for seven generations. I’m here today to lend my back and all my resolve to this fight.”


Sandra Steingraber is the author of "Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment" and "Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood." She is the founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking.


  Read Bill McKibben and Dozens More Arrested in Ongoing Campaign Against Proposed Gas Storage (VIDEO)
 March 4, 2016
The U.S. Has Approved Industrial Aquaculture in Deep Offshore Waters for the First Time — and It’s a Huge Step Backwards.

by George Kimbrell, Sylvia Wu, Cristina Stella, Center for Food Safety, AlterNet


The tragedy of industrial agriculture, the unwise adoption of inherently unsustainable forms of food production over the past generation, has cost us dearly in environmental destruction and public health. From millions of acres of monocultured, genetically engineered, pesticide-promoting crops to inhumane and filthy, water-and-air-polluting Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), the dominant paradigm for current crop and animal production on land in the United States relies on intensive and toxic inputs.

These include animal feed and feed additives, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals, and pesticides and other synthetic chemicals, which have irreparably damaged our farmlands and native ecosystems. These industrial production systems also allowed such consolidation of power, that just a few multinational corporations have that Monsanto and Dow patented and privatized seeds, a public good since time immemorial, and sue farmers who dare to save seeds. Likewise, Purdue and Tyson control the poultry supply, and maintain conditions of productions so horrific that they needed to bully states into passing laws (unconstitutionally) outlawing anyone from even photographing them.

As the current food revolution shows, if a generation ago the U.S. public had known the extent of harms that industrial agriculture would cause, we would have never allowed it to become the norm. So, why would we as a society ever allow the same decision forced upon us again, in creating another inherently destructive food production system that harms the environment and wildlife, makes less healthful food, and privatizes natural resources that should be held in public trust for the common good?

You may not even be aware, but our government has just paved the way for the same corporate takeover of our oceans by approving industrial aquaculture for the first time in U.S. waters. Unlike existing marine aquaculture operations in the U.S., the majority of which are nearshore operations for shellfish and shrimp, our government’s latest proposal would extend industrial fish farms in deep waters offshore for the production of large marine finfish. Specifically, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a division within the U.S. Department of Commerce, introduced new federal regulations permitting, for the first time, industrial aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico.

To be sure, there are ways to grow certain fish sustainably, just as there are ways to grow vegetables and raise livestock sustainably. But the scheme that NOAA just approved is anything but sustainable. That permitting scheme will allow private aquaculture facilities to operate in restricted access zones in the Gulf, upending traditional fishing rights and disrupting ocean ecosystems, including critical habitats for endangered species. The regulations allow fish farms to use pesticides, antibiotics, and other harmful inputs, and authorize 64 million pounds of fish to be grown annually, which will flood the marketplace to the detriment of wild fisheries. 

Like its land-based industrial counterparts, industrial aquaculture—the intensive production of fish and seafood—is also full of false promises. For example, industrial aquaculture is touted as a “solution” to the depletion of ocean fisheries that has resulted from decades of over-fishing. The reality is far from it: industrial-scale aquaculture actually increases pressure on wild fish populations. This is because almost all fish raised in industrial aquaculture facilities—such as salmon, tuna, amberjack, grouper, and snapper—are carnivorous, and thus must be fed large quantities of small ocean fish such as anchovies and sardines, processed into fish oil and fishmeal.

These “forage fish” are overharvested to supply enough aquaculture feed, removing a critical component of the ocean food web, depleting wild fish stock, further putting marine animal populations at risk. Worse, exhausting ocean forage fish stocks, industrial aquaculture has also turned to land-based fishmeal substitutes such as soy, novel ingredients never before found marine fishes’ diets.

The amount of fish produced by aquaculture facilities in state waters, such as in Maine, has so far been miniscule compared to the industrial-scale aquaculture that NOAA has just approved for federal waters. Industrial aquaculture in other countries has demonstrated that large-scale operations cause rapid privatization of ocean waters on an industrial scale, with far-reaching environmental, economic, and human health consequences. These consequences include: the escape of farmed fish from their containment, which threatens native wild fish populations; the spread of deadly diseases and parasites from farmed fish to wild fish; the overfishing of wild fish to feed carnivorous farmed fish; and the pollution of our ocean from the inputs and outputs of aquaculture facilities, including fish feed, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and fish feces.

The antibiotics, pesticides, and other chemicals that are heavily used to prevent disease and parasites in aquaculture facilities can accumulate in fish tissues that are then consumed by humans. Studies have also found farmed fish to be less healthful than their wild counterparts. Finally, industrial aquaculture is damaging because it puts generations of local fishing communities out of business, flooding markets and undercutting existing businesses and eliminating local jobs, as the industry consolidates.

Fortunately, this time we have a chance to fight this system before it takes root in American food production, to learn from our recent agricultural history, lest we irreparably repeat it in our oceans. Rather than having to foster a food revolution to take back control of how we produce our foods—which is the case with land-based industrial agriculture—with aquaculture, there is still time: we can fight to ensure at the outset our government manages and protect sour marine resources, rather than rubberstamps industrial methods that jeopardize our ocean ecosystems and the coastal communities that depend on them.

In order to stop the U.S. government from going down this path, Center for Food Safety, along with a broad array of stakeholders, including commercial and recreational fishing groups and conservation organizations, just filed a groundbreaking new lawsuit challenging the new regulations. The regulations are unlawful because, rather than wait for proper new Congressional authority for its decision, NOAA has tried to shoehorn aquaculture as “fishing” under existing law, when in reality the activities are very different and aquaculture creates novel risks no contemplated in existing law. The decision is also unlawful because NOAA violated several keystone environmental and fisheries protection laws in making it, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act.

The long-term answer, though, must come from the American public. We must refuse to allow special interests to hoist the same shortsighted mistakes of industrial agriculture upon our oceans.

  Read The U.S. Has Approved Industrial Aquaculture in Deep Offshore Waters for the First Time — and It’s a Huge Step Backwards.
 March 8, 2016
National Footprint Accounts 2016 are out! Carbon makes up 60% of world’s Ecological Footprint

by Global Footprint Network, AlterNet

Global Footprint Network

Dear Germain, Global Footprint Network launches its 2016 edition of the National Footprint Accounts today, featuring a refined carbon Footprint calculation.

The updated calculation has revealed that the global carbon Footprint is 16 percent higher than previously calculated, with a consequent 8 percent increase in the global Ecological Footprint. The carbon Footprint makes up 60 percent of the world’s Ecological Footprint.

We are happy to make the National Footprint Accounts available in a free downloadable version for research, education and non-commercial purposes (scroll down for more details). An interactive map and country rankings based on the National Footprint Accounts 2016 are available at www.footprintnetwork.org/maps. Watch a video explaining the National Footprint Accounts here. If you are interested in attending a webinar on the Footprint Accounts, please email media@footprintnetwork.org.

The annual maintenance of the National Footprint Accounts involves incorporating the most recent data (2012) from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Comtrade database, the International Energy Agency (IEA), and other sources.

Carbon Update As mentioned above, we have made a number of improvements to the accounting methodology this year. The most influential is the new calculation of Average Forest Carbon Sequestration (AFCS) value — which is the long-term capacity for one hectare of world-average forest ecosystem to sequester carbon dioxide.

By including new data sources and accounting for multiple forest categories, global wildfires, and forest ecosystem emissions from soil and harvested wood products, forests were found to provide less net-sequestration of carbon than previously calculated.

The Ecological Footprints of countries are impacted by the new methodology. The higher a country’s carbon Footprint as a percentage of its overall Ecological Footprint, the bigger the increase in its Footprint compared to last year’s edition. For instance, Oman, whose carbon Footprint makes up a whopping 77 percent of its Ecological Footprint, has jumped up over 20 places in the ranking of countries that demand more than their own ecosystems can renew. (Oman is now one of the top 15 countries by ecological deficit.) On the other hand, Ethiopia, whose carbon Footprint is a mere 7 percent of its Ecological Footprint, fell 16 slots down the same ranking.

The robust carbon Footprint calculations are especially timely in light of the historic Paris Agreement signed in December 2015 by 195 nations and the European Union. The adopted goal of restricting average temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-Industrial Revolution levels translates into a specific upper carbon budget for all future emissions of 800 gigatonnes CO2. The Paris Agreement also shifts the focus to net emissions of countries, recognizing the importance of land-use choices for carbon sequestration. In this context, Ecological Footprint accounts — which measure both emissions on the demand side and the supply of sequestration on the biocapacity side — provide a natural framework to evaluate net emissions by countries and the interaction between competing demands on a country’s land.

Beyond carbon, looking at the world through the prism of the Ecological Footprint makes for interesting insights, revealing long-term trends and impacts regarding countries’ ecological wealth, economic health and population growth. Here are a few highlights:

• PIGS countries (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain) have been registering a steady decline of their Ecological Footprint per capita since the mid-2000s. By contrast, strong European economies like Germany and France have seen a rebound of their Ecological Footprint per capita since the 2008 financial crisis. What would it take for the PIGS countries to strengthen their economy AND reduce their Ecological Footprint?
• Asian countries with rapid economic expansion, such as India, China, South Korea and Vietnam, are displaying a strong increase of their Ecological Footprint per capita that is concomitant with their rising standards of living. Note that Vietnam and Cambodia stand out among Asian countries for their successful efforts building up their biocapacity per person to support their growing Ecological Footprint.
• Low-income countries with surging population growth (fast-increasing demand) or violent turmoil (collapse of agricultural activity and output) — including Honduras, Niger and Somalia — are hitting the threshold of their own ecosystems’ ability to support (biocapacity) their population’s demand (Ecological Footprint.)
Curious to explore more? Download our Public Data Package! Global Footprint Network is offering a free downloadable version of its National Footprint Accounts for research, education and non-commercial purposes, at www.footprintnetwork.org/public. This Public Data Package includes the latest results for all countries, country graphics and the number of Earths required if the world’s population lived like the average citizen of each country. The free download also offers many new ways to sort data — by region, GDP, Human Development Index and other categories — and data quality scores for the results.

About the National Footprint Accounts

Global Footprint Network’s annual update of the National Footprint Accounts tracks the balance sheet of approximately 200 nations from year to year, based on nearly 200,000 data points per country per year from over 30 sources. The accounts add together a country’s annual demand for the natural resources and ecological services our planet’s lands and seas provide — fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, wood, cotton for clothing, timber and carbon dioxide absorption. This demand, the Ecological Footprint, then can be compared to the supply of these goods and services provided by that country’s ecosystems, called biocapacity.

In 1961, the first year for which consistent data sets are available, our planet was able to supply 37 percent more resources and services than humanity demanded. Since then, the global ecological deficit — the amount by which humanity’s demand has exceeded nature’s budget — has widened substantially. The 2016 edition of the National Footprint Accounts shows that the world population demands 64 percent more than what nature can regenerate in one year through overfishing, over-harvesting our forests and, primarily, emitting more carbon dioxide than our ecosystems can absorb. The effects include wildlife habitat loss and fragmentation, collapsing fisheries, and climate change.

More information about the new carbon calculation in the National Footprint Accounts can be found in the peer-reviewed Ecological Indicators article Ecological Footprint: Refining the carbon Footprint calculation. For licensing questions about the National Footprint Accounts, contact data@footprintnetwork.org
  Read National Footprint Accounts 2016 are out! Carbon makes up 60% of world’s Ecological Footprint
 March 11, 2016
Un nouveau project de Paix pour les jeunes de monde entier

by Ambassadeur de la Paix les jeunes: www.worldpeaceyouth.org/


chers membres du cercle universel des ambassadeurs de la paix

voici en PJ un nouveau projet de paix pour les jeunes du monde entier proposé par notre membre Carlos Palma.
je vous demande de bien vouloir participer avec les enfants de votre environnement.
pour continuer le troisième livre Or des enfants de la terre si vous avez des poèmes de paix des enfants pour les inscrire sur ce livre or veuillez me les faire parvenir merci !
les membres qui ont commencé des petits livres de poèmes d’enfants vous pouvez si ils sont terminés me les envoyer également pour les faire partager avec tous nos membres.
Belle journée de paix
Gabrielle Simond présidente
******************************************** PJ here in a new project of peace for the world's youth proposed by our member Carlos Palma.

I request you to kindly participate with the children in your environment.
to continue the third book Or children of the earth if you poems Children of Peace to register on this book or please send me thank you!
Members who have started small books of poems for children if you can they are completed send me also to share them with all members.
Beautiful day of peace
Gabrielle Simond President
PJ aqui em um novo projeto de paz para a juventude do mundo proposta pelo nosso membro do Carlos Palma.

Peço-lhe para participar gentilmente com as crianças em seu ambiente.
para continuar o terceiro livro ou crianças da terra, se você poemas Crianças de paz para se registrar no livro ou envie-me obrigado!
Membros que começaram pequenos livros de poemas para crianças, se puder que sejam concluídas enviar-me também para compartilhá-los com todos os membros.
Dia bonito da paz
Gabrielle Presidente Simond
PJ aquí en un nuevo proyecto de paz para los jóvenes del mundo propuesto por nuestro miembro Carlos Palma.

Solicito amablemente a participar con los niños en su entorno.
para continuar con el tercer libro o hijos de la tierra si poemas Los niños de la Paz se registren en este libro o envían por favor conmigo gracias!
Los miembros que han iniciado pequeños libros de poemas para los niños si es posible que se completan me envía también para compartirlos con todos los miembros.
Hermoso día de la paz
Presidente Simond Gabrielle
  Read Un nouveau project de Paix pour les jeunes de monde entier
 March 13, 2016
La paix est notre avenir A paz é o nosso futuro Peace is our future

by Ambassadeur de la Paix Alain Million, France,


La paix est notre avenir
La terre est ma patrie et l'humanité, ma famille. La haine tue toujours, l’amour ne meurt jamais.
A tous mes amis, frères et sœurs de notre Terre-Patrie.
Le déversement des cris de haine et de vengeance ne sert pas la cause de la paix, de la fraternité et de la citoyenneté universelle.
Nos cœurs saignent et souffrent de ces massacres, de ces souffrances, de ces tueries barbares et haineuses.
Nos cœurs saignent et souffrent de ces profiteurs qui se servent avec délectation de la peur engendrée par ces assassinats orchestrés par des lâches sans conscience.
Mais, n'oublions pas l'histoire, nos valeurs, nos espérances et nos aspirations à construire un monde uni, soudé ,démocratique, solidaire et fraternel. La tâche est lourde, le chemin jonché d'ornières.
L'œuvre en perpétuel recommencement.
Mais nous sommes humains et vivants, déterminés à voir grandir une civilisation de partage et d'entraide.
Ensemble, agissons pour la paix, qui que nous soyons et où que nous soyons.
La paix est notre avenir.
La France reste debout. Ses valeurs universelles ne plieront jamais face à la criminalité de fanatiques ignorants, de lâches qui se tapissent dans l'ombre .
L'humain tue l'humain. C’est la chose la plus dramatique qui soit. Les tyrans assoiffés de sang, les barbares sans conscience frappent des innocents.
Ils tuent la vie qui pour eux n'a aucune valeur, aucune importance.
Mais la vie est plus forte que la mort. L’amour est plus fort que la haine.
Sur votre chemin, unis, ensemble, nous serons toujours là pour brandir notre seule arme: L'amour.
C'est notre différence et elle est indestructible.
Sachez que nous sommes vivants pour nos frères et nos sœurs que vous avez tués.

A paz é o nosso futuro

A terra é minha pátria e da humanidade, a minha família. O ódio sempre mata, o amor nunca morre.
Para todos os meus amigos, irmãos e irmãs de nossa Terra-Pátria.
se os gritos derramamento de ódio e vingança não serve a causa da paz, da fraternidade e da cidadania universal.
Nossos corações sangram e sofrem com esses massacres, estes sofrimentos, esses assassinatos bárbaros e hediondos.
Nossos corações sangram e sofrem com esses aproveitadores que servem com saborear o medo engendrado por essas mortes orquestradas por covardes sem consciência.
Mas não se esqueça da história, nossos valores, nossas esperanças e aspirações para construir um mundo unido, soldados, democrática, solidária e fraterna.
A tarefa é pesada, a estrada repleta de buracos. O trabalho em perpétua renovação.
Mas somos humanos e vivo, determinado a ver crescer uma partilha de civilização e de assistência mútua.
Juntos agir em paz, quem somos e onde quer que estejamos. A paz é o nosso futuro.
França continua de pé. Seus valores universais Nunca dobre de crime fanáticos ignorantes, covardes que se escondem nas sombras.
L'humain Kills seres humanos. Esta é a coisa mais dramática que é.
Tiranos bárbaros sanguinários sem bater consciência inocente.
Eles matam a vida que não tem nenhum valor para eles, não tem importância. Mas a vida é mais forte que a morte.
O amor é mais forte do que o ódio.
Em seu caminho, unidos, juntos, vamos sempre estar lá para segurar a nossa única arma: Amor. Esta é a nossa diferença e é indestrutível.
Saibam que estamos a viver para os nossos irmãos e irmãs que você matou.

La paz es nuestro futuro

La tierra es mi tierra y de la humanidad, a mi familia. El odio siempre mata, el amor nunca muere.
A todos mis amigos, hermanos y hermanas de nuestra Tierra-Patria.
Los gritos de derrame de odio y venganza no sirve a la causa de la paz, la hermandad y la ciudadanía universal.
Nuestros corazones sangran y sufren de estas masacres, estos sufrimientos, estos asesinatos brutales y atroces.
Nuestros corazones sangran y sufren de estos especuladores que sirven con saborear el miedo engendrado por estos asesinatos orquestados por cobardes sin conciencia.
Pero no se olvide la historia, nuestros valores, nuestras esperanzas y aspiraciones para construir un mundo unido, soldado, democrática, solidaria y fraterna.
La tarea es pesada, el camino estaba lleno de baches. El trabajo en la renovación perpetua.
Pero somos humanos y vivos, decidido a ver crecer un intercambio de la civilización y la asistencia mutua.
Junto actuar por la paz, quienquiera que seamos y dondequiera que estemos.
La paz es nuestro futuro.
Francia queda en pie. Los valores universales Nunca doble crimen de fanáticos ignorantes, cobardes que se esconden en las sombras .
L'humain Veces seres humanos. Esto es lo más dramático que es. Tiranos bárbaros sedientos de sangre sin golpear la conciencia inocente.
Matan a la vida que no tiene valor para ellos, no tiene importancia. Pero la vida es más fuerte que la muerte. El amor es más fuerte que el odio.
En su camino, unido, juntos, vamos a estar siempre ahí para sostener nuestra única arma: el amor.
Esta es nuestra diferencia y es indestructible.
Sabemos que estamos viviendo para nuestros hermanos y hermanas que ustedes mataron.

Peace is our future

The earth is my homeland and humanity, my family. Hatred always kills, love never dies.
To all my friends, brothers and sisters of our Earth-Homeland.
The spill cries of hatred and revenge does not serve the cause of peace, brotherhood and universal citizenship.
Our hearts bleed and suffer from these massacres, these sufferings, these barbaric and heinous killings.
Our hearts bleed and suffer from these profiteers who serve with relish the fear engendered by these orchestrated killings by cowards without conscience.
But do not forget the history, our values, our hopes and aspirations to build a united world, welded, democratic, united and fraternal.
The task is heavy, the road strewn with ruts. The work in perpetual renewal.
But we are human and alive, determined to see grow a civilization sharing and mutual assistance.
Together act for peace, whoever we are and wherever we are.
Peace is our future.
France remains standing.
Its universal values never bend from crime ignorant fanatics, cowards who lurk in the shadows .
L'humain Kills humans. This is the most dramatic thing that is. Tyrants bloodthirsty barbarians without hitting innocent conscience.
They kill the life that has no value for them, no importance. But life is stronger than death.
Love is stronger than hate.
On your way, united, together, we will always be there to hold up our only weapon: Love.
This is our difference and is indestructible.
Know that we are living for our brothers and sisters whom you killed.
  Read  La paix est notre avenir    A paz é o nosso futuro    Peace is our future




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