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Volume 9       Issue 3    March  2011
Politics and Justice without borders

Theme this month

For our survival as a species and for God’s sake one child per family is more than enough.
Let us restrain ourselves!
Let the community be the other child our child needs as a companion.
Let the Soul of all Life be our guiding hand!

Moratorium on world population, the fertility rate and immigration applications
The Global Community is declaring a moratorium on immigration all over the world, on all applications for immigration, until applicants from any religious or cultural background have satisfied completely the Global Community standard for a population fertility rate of 1.3 children per family. The problem with world overpopulation is everybody’s problem. We are all responsible. Until tangible progress is made no immigrants should be accepted. That is Global Law.

Population warfare
It is the use of a very high fertility rate to conquer a nation, and that could mean as many as or more than 2.1 children per family. It is a form of cultural and/or religious aggression and invasion by having a much too high number of new born babies. For instance, there has been a rapid increase in population among Muslims to the extent that in fifty years all of Europe and North America are expected to be mostly Islamic. The influx of Latino immigration into the western states of the USA will also have the effect of a population warfare.

Now, obviously what immigration does is to infringe into the most important rights on the Scale of Global Rights: Sections 1, 2, and 3. It amounts at creating the world overpopulation problem which is way far more destructive than conducting military warfare. The Global Community condemns all types of warfare we see in the world today: military, economic and population. Surely the rights to protect the existence of all life on our planet are more important than cultural and religious rights.

All life on Earth is fighting for survival and freedom from development, pollution in all its forms, overconsumption and overpopulation. The higher purpose of humanity is to serve God by propagating Life throughout the universe. Humanity will evolve spiritually to fulfill God's Plan. Soon God will show us the way to reach the galaxies. (Read about the Teaching of the Soul for details ) The Global Community proposal of a world population of 500 million does not in any way contradict God's Plan for humanity. On the contrary, it reinforces the Will of God for the diversity of Life throughout the universe. By accomplishing our higher purpose we will be able to propagate trillions of life forms over the entire universe. Beside, with such a small population, there is no doubt that our species would last at least a million years. That is 0.5 x billion x 1 million = 0.5 x 10 15 person-years. But if we let our population rise to about 20 billion then we may not survive more that 1,000 years or so. That is 20 billion x 1,000 thousand = 2 x 10 13 person-years. In order words, if we exercise restraint now the total number of human beings who will be on our planet later could be at least 25 times greater than it would be if we allowed the population to increase to 20 billion. Who, then, are those who deny life for the glory of God?

From now on as global citizens, we must believe in solving planetary problems from basic global thinking. The Global Community has researched and developed global concepts, principles, rights, laws which must be followed. Anyone not following our governing institutions are 'planarchists' of the worst kind. They are set to destroy, pollute, invade and must be stopped. They have broken Global Law at the highest level. They are criminals, terrorists. We are the Global Community, the Earth revolutionaries, and we will stop them.

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Table of Contents

This is the way     Message from the Spiritual Leader of the Global Community
Message from the Editor    GIM  Message from the Editor
Politics and Justice without borders: what we stand for Politics and Justice without borders: what we stand for
Message from the President of Global Parliament, the Federation of Global Governments    Message from the President of Earth Government
History of the Global Community organization, Earth Government and the Federation of Global Governments History of the Global Community Organization and Interim Earth Government Since its beginning in 1985, many accomplishments can be claimed by the Global Community: History of the Global Community organization and Earth Government
The Global Community days of celebration or remembering during the year
A reminder of her passing away. Virginie was a great global citizen, and we all owe her something that's forever. GIM  Message from the Editor
Life Day Celebration on May 26. Participate. Life Day Celebration May 26. Participate.
Participate now in Global Dialogue 2011, no fees  Participate now in Global Dialogue 2011
Global Dialogue 2011 Introduction Global Dialogue 2011 Introduction
Global Dialogue 2011 Program  Global Dialogue 2011 Program
Global Dialogue 2011 OVERVIEW of the process   Global Dialogue 2011 OVERVIEW of the process
Global Dialogue 2011 Call for Papers Global Dialogue 2011 Call for Papers

We seek more symbiotical relationships with people and organizations We seek more symbiotical relationships
Note concerning personal info sent to us by email Note concerning personal info sent to us by email
We have now streamlined the participation process in the Global Dialogue We have now streamlined the participation process in the Global Dialogue


GIM daily proclamations main website

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

Medea Benjamin, Robert E. Cobb, Noam Chomsky, Guy CREQUIE, Nicole Foss, Richard Heinberg, William Kotke, Stephen Leahy, Abrahm Lustgarten, Bill McKibben (2), Charles Mercieca, Danielle Nierenberg, Michael Schwartz, Rene Wadlow (3)

Medea Benjamin, From Cairo to Madison: Hope and Solidarity are Alive From Cairo to Madison: Hope and Solidarity are Alive
Robert E. Cobb, Evolutionary Philosophy in the Age of Cosmic Genealogy Evolutionary Philosophy in the Age of Cosmic Genealogy
Noam Chomsky, Are We Running Out Of Oil? Are We Running Out Of Oil?
Nicole Foss, Are We Running Out Of Oil? Are We Running Out Of Oil?
Richard Heinberg, Are We Running Out Of Oil? Are We Running Out Of Oil?
William Kotke, What Right Do You Have To Be Here On Planet Earth? What Right Do You Have To Be Here On Planet Earth?
Stephen Leahy, Permafrost Melt Soon Irreversible Without Major Fossil Fuel Cuts, Permafrost Melt Soon Irreversible Without Major Fossil Fuel Cuts
Abrahm Lustgarten, Climate Benefits Of Natural Gas May Be Overstated Climate Benefits Of Natural Gas May Be Overstated
Bill McKibben (1), Catastrophic Weather Events Are Becoming the New Normal -- Are You Ready for Life on Our Planet Circa 2011?  Catastrophic Weather Events Are Becoming the New Normal -- Are You Ready for Life on Our Planet Circa 2011?
Bill McKibben (2), Are We Running Out Of Oil? Are We Running Out Of Oil?
Charles Mercieca, J Street's conference: A permanent peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is fully possible  J Street's conference: A permanent peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is fully possible
Danielle Nierenberg, Adapting to Climate Change through Improved Access to Seed and Information Adapting to Climate Change through Improved Access to Seed and Information
Michael Schwartz, Inspired by Egypt -- The Incredible Power of Non-Violent Protest Inspired by Egypt -- The Incredible Power of Non-Violent Protest
Rene Wadlow (1), Education for Active World Citizenship Education for Active World Citizenship
Rene Wadlow (2), World Day of Social Justice: The People’s Revolution is On The March World Day of Social Justice: The People’s Revolution is On The March
Rene Wadlow (3), Blood in the Sand: A World Citizen Protest to Repression in Libya Blood in the Sand: A World Citizen Protest to Repression in Libya

Research papers and articles on global issues for this month
 Date sent  Theme or issue  Read
 February 22, 2011  
par Ambassadeur de la paix Guy CREQUIE
Visit  Guy CREQUIE Global File
Poète, écrivain et chanteur français pour la paix et les droits humains.
Messager de la culture de la paix du Manifeste 2000 popularisé par l’UNESCO
Lauréat Européen et mondial des Académies de la culture et des arts.


Le colonel KHADAFI, vient d’appeler à la guerre civile en Lybie. Ceci, en demandant à la population, d’aider l’armée et la police à tuer les manifestants qui manifestent pour la liberté et le droit de vivre décemment dans un pays producteur de pétrole.

Or, le dictateur connaît d’importantes défections dans son gouvernement, ses diplomates, son armée. Ainsi, des pilotes de chasse se sont réfugiés sur l’île de Malte .Après le Tunisie, l’Egypte, comme l’écrivait MARX, qui a raison sur ce point : « ce sont les masses qui font l’histoire ! »

Egalement déjà, des villes sont sous le contrôle des manifestants et hélas encore, les forces de sécurité libyennes ont tiré sur le peuple.

Cependant dans la société libyenne, fragmentée, tribale, le pouvoir a cependant recours à des mercenaires extérieurs africains. Ceci, car il commence à douter de sa légitimité. Hélas, bien des pays occidentaux l’avaient considéré ces dernières années, comme un partenaire acceptable, ceci, car il a coopéré contre les islamistes, et Ben Laden.

En vérité, sa hargne, et sa haine, sont celle d’un homme aux abois. En Lybie, les comités populaires, le gouvernement populaire ne gouvernent pas, mais le clan KHADAFI. Au pouvoir depuis 42 ans, certes, son armée bien habillée pour les défilés, mais n’est pas une armée au sens habituel. Cependant, présentement aux abois, les fidèles à Kadhafi tueront encore .Cependant la fin est proche, l’histoire appelle une autre vision dans la réalité des besoins et désirs à satisfaire.

L’ONU, appelle à une enquête internationale, et il sera accusé de crimes contre l’humanité. Cependant, il espère encore conserver la main par sa terreur et avec le temps, se faire oublier et retrouver une légitimité.

Ensuite, le corridor humanitaire demandé depuis L’Egypte et la Tunisie (tiens) pour relier Tripoli est certes nécessaire, mais il faudrait plus ! Après des centaines et peut-être des milliers de morts, il faudrait que le Conseil de sécurité de L’ONU, déploie des casques bleus de protection en Lybie comme devoir d’ingérence humanitaire. Ceci, pour les quelques jours cruciaux à venir pour le destin de ce pays.

Copyright Guy CREQUIE
Ecrivain français, à finalité philosophique au service des peuples
Messager de la culture de la paix de l’UNESCO - Ambassadeur universel de la paix
Représentant français d’ONG internationales de paix et d’harmonie.


El coronel KHADAFI, acaba de llamar a la guerra civil en Libia. Y ello, pidiendo a la población, de ayudar al ejército y la policía a matar los manifestantes que manifiestan para la libertad y el derecho a vivir decentemente en un país productor de petróleo.

Ahora bien, el dictador conoce importantes defecciones en su Gobierno, sus diplomáticos, su ejército. Así pues, pilotos de caza se refugiaron sobre la isla de Malta. Tras Túnez, Egipto, como lo escribía MARX, que tiene razón sobre este punto: ¡“son las masas que hacen la historia! ”

También ya, ciudades están bajo el control de los manifestantes y desgraciadamente aún, las fuerzas de seguridad libias extrajeron contra el pueblo.

Sin embargo en la sociedad libia, fragmentada, tribal, el poder tiene sin embargo recurso a mercenarios exteriores africanos. Y ello, ya que comienza a dudar de su legitimidad. Desgraciadamente, muchos países occidentales lo habían considerado estos últimos años, como un socio aceptable, esto, ya que cooperó contra los islamistas, y Ben Laden.

En verdad, su hosquedad, y su odio, son la de un hombre acorralado. En Libia, los Comités populares, el Gobierno popular no controlan, sino el clan KHADAFI. Al poder desde hace 42 años, ciertamente, su ejército bien equipado para los desfiles, sino no es un ejército en sentido habitual. Sin embargo, actualmente acorralado, el fieles a Kadhafi matarán aún. Sin embargo el final es cercano, la historia requiere otra visión en la realidad de las necesidades y deseos a satisfacer.

La ONU, llama a una investigación internacional, y se acusará de crímenes contra la humanidad. Sin embargo, espera aún conservar la mano por su terror y con el tiempo, hacerse olvidar y encontrar una legitimidad.

¡A continuación, el pasillo humanitario pedido desde Egipto y Túnez (tenga) para conectar Trípoli es ciertamente necesario, pero sería necesario más! Tras centenares y quizá millares de muertes, sería necesario que el Consejo de Seguridad la ONU, despliega cascos azules de protección en Libia como deber de injerencia humanitario. Y ello, para los algunos los próximos días cruciales para el destino de este país.

Copyright Guy CREQUIE

Escritor francés, a finalidad filosófica al servicio del pueblo
Mensajero de la cultura de la paz de la UNESCO - Embajador universal de la paz
Representante francés de ONG internacionales de paz y armonía.


Colonel KHADAFI, has just called with the civil war in Lybie. This, while asking the population, to help the army and the police force to kill the demonstrators who express for freedom and the right to life decently in an oil producing country.

However, the dictator knows important defections in his government, his diplomats, his army. Thus, fighter pilots took refuge on the island of Malta. After Tunisia, Egypt, as MARX wrote it, who is right on this point: “in fact the masses make the history! ”

Also already, of the cities are under the control of the demonstrators and alas still, the Libyan security forces shot at the people.

However in the Libyan company, fragmented, tribal, the power has recourse to African external mercenaries however. This, because it starts to doubt its legitimacy. Alas, many Western countries had considered it these last years, like an acceptable partner, this, because he cooperated against the islamist ones, and Ben Laden.

In truth, its aggressiveness, and its hatred, are that of a man to the barks. In Lybie, the popular committees, the popular government do not control, but clan KHADAFI. With the power for 42 years, certainly, its army equipped well for the processions, but has not been an army with the usual direction. However, at present with the barks, the faithful ones to Kadhafi will still kill. However the end is close, the history calls another vision in the reality of the needs and desires to be satisfied.

UNO, calls with an international survey, and he will be shown of crimes against humanity. However, he still hopes to preserve the hand by his terror and with time, to be made forget and find a legitimacy.

Then, the humane corridor required from Egypt and Tunisia (hold) to connect Tripoli are certainly necessary, but it would be necessary more! After hundreds and perhaps of the thousands of deaths, it would be necessary that the Safety advice of UNO, deploys blue helmets of protection in Lybie like having of humane interference. This, for the few crucial days to come for the destiny from this country.

Copyright Guy CREQUIE
Author and singer for peace, the rights and duties human
Messenger of the culture of peace
European and world prize winner of the Academies of the culture and arts.
 February 22, 2011   J Street's conference: A permanent peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is fully possible.
by Dr. Charles Mercieca
Global Peace Movement

President, International Association of Educators for World Peace
Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University

Dear Rachel:

A permanent peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is fully possible. But there are quite a few things we need to keep in mind which may be enlisted as follows:

1. Israel should recognize the 1948 borders that were drawn by the United Nations. leaving perhaps the status of Jerusalem to be still discussed or negotiated. At the same time, Palestine should be from the outset a demilitarized state.

2. The Israeli settlements should automatically become under the jurisdiction of Palestine. The Israelis living in them may still remain there and they all should be allowed to have dual citizenship: Israeli and Palestinian.

3. Israel should use every year for the next 20 years, 50% of the money that the United States States gives it for the build-up and modernization of Palestine. According to recent reports, the USA gives Israel $3 billion dollars a year.

4. The motto that Nelson Mandela used toward the whites who put him in jail for 27 years, should be used by both Israel and Palestine: "Let bygones be bygones -- We are all South Africans and we need to work together to make this nation great."

5. Translated into the language of the Middle East people: "Let bygone be bygones -- We are all children of Abraham and we need to work together to make the Middle East Region great."

6. The USA should stay out of the Middle East region and try to concentrate, instead, on solving its manifold problems at home...... providing homes for the homeless, good health care for all and good education for all Americans.

7. We need to keep in mind that the strength of the nation is not measured by weapons and military equipment , but by the health of the people and their education that would enable them to develop their talents to their full potential.

8. Let us keep in mind that in the sphere of morality two negatives do not make a positive. Two negatives make still two negatives, that is, two dead men make still two dead men and not one living man.

9. Both Israelis and Palestinians are subject to the God's Ten Commandments where one of them explicitly states: You should not kill!" This means, if Palestinians kill Israelis they are murderers. If Israelis kill Palestinians they are also murderers.

10. One last statement that should serve as good food for thought.... The art of loving is God's greatest artistic element that should reign in the hearts of every Israeli and every Palestinian.

Charles Mercieca
 February 21, 2011   From Cairo to Madison: Hope and Solidarity are Alive
Medea Benjamin, AlterNet, Immigration Impact
Solidarity is, indeed, a beautiful thing. It is a way we show our oneness with all of humanity; it is a way to reaffirm our own humanity.

Here in Madison, Wisconsin, where protesters have occupied the State Capitol Building to stop the pending bill that would eliminate workers' right to collective bargaining, echoes of Cairo are everywhere. Local protesterswere elated by the photo of an Egyptian engineer named Muhammad Saladin Nusair holding a sign in Tahrir Square saying "Egypt Supports Wisconsin Workers--One World, One Pain." The signs by protesters in Madison include "Welcome to Wiscairo", "From Egypt to Wisconsin: We Rise Up", and "Government Walker: Our Mubarak." The banner I brought directly from Tahrir Square saying "Solidarity with Egyptian Workers" has been hanging from the balcony of the Capitol alongside solidarity messages from around the country.

My travels from Cairo to Madison seem like one seamless web. After camping out with the students and workers in the Capitol Building, I gave an early morning seminar on what it was like to be an eyewitness to the Egyptian revolution, and the struggles that are taking place right now in places like Libya, Bahrain and Yemen. Folks told me all day how inspiring it was to hear about the uprisings in the Arab world.

Some took the lessons from Cairo literally. Looking around at the capitol building that was starting to show the wear and tear from housing thousands of protesters, I had mentioned that in Cairo the activists were constantly scrubbing the square, determined to show how much they loved the space they had liberated. A few hours later, in Madison's rotunda, people were on their hands and knees scrubbing the marble floor. "We're quick learners," one of the high school students told me, smiling as she picked at the remains of oreo cookies sticking to the floor.

I heard echoes of Cairo in the Capitol hearing room where a nonstop line of people had gathered all week to give testimonies. The Democratic Assemblymembers have been giving folks a chance to voice their concerns about the governor's pending bill. In this endless stream of heartfelt testimonies, people talk about the impact this bill will have on their own families--their take-home pay, their healthcare, their pensions. They talk about the governor manufacturing the budget crisis to break the unions. They talk about the history of workers' struggles to earn living wages and have decent benefits. And time and again, I heard people say "I saw how the Egyptian people were able to rise up and overthrow a 30-year dictatorship, and that inspired me to rise up and fight this bill."

Solidarity is, indeed, a beautiful thing. It is a way we show our oneness with all of humanity; it is a way to reaffirm our own humanity. CODEPINK sent flowers to the people in Tahrir Square--a gesture that was received with kisses, hugs and tears from the Egyptians. The campers in Madison erupted in cheer when they heard that an Egyptian had called the local pizza place, Ians Pizza, and placed a huge order to feed the protesters. "Pizza never tasted so good," a Wisconsin fireman commented when he was told that the garlic pizza he was eating had come from supporters in Cairo. Egyptian engineer Muhammad Saladin Nusair, the one whose photo supporting Wisconsin workers went viral, now has thousands of new American Facebook friends. He wrote in his blog that many of his new friends were surprised by his gesture of solidarity, but he was taught that "we live in ONE world and under the same sky."

"If a human being doesn't feel the pain of his fellow human beings, then everything we've created and established since the very beginning of existence is in great danger," Muhammad wrote. "We shouldn't let borders and differences separate us. We were made different to complete each other, to integrate and live together. One world, one pain, one humanity, one hope." From the trenches of Madison's State Capitol Building, hope--and solidarity--are alive and well.

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK:Women for Peace.
  Read From Cairo to Madison: Hope and Solidarity are Alive
 February 12, 2011   Education for Active World Citizenship
by Rene Wadlow,
Currently, there is growing attention both in scholarly and popular writing with the process of globalization. Globalization is an empirical process of world integration driven by a variety of economic, cultural, political, and ideological forces as seen in such areas as market expansion, a global production pattern as well as cultural homogenisation. In the fields of economics, politics, technology, environment and health, we see greater collaboration and interdependence. Now, international conferences, common trade agreements and multinational projects are striving to find solutions to long-standing difficulties and to promote development in areas where the problems have become too great to be resolved by a single State. We are learning, out of necessity, that competition has its limits. To give one example, many of the issues in trade negotiations which go on in Geneva are about labour standards, environmental policies and human rights (such as products fabricated by child labour). These are all deeply domestic matters which have now become part of international affairs.

Has education been changing as quickly as the world economy? How are we preparing children to meet the demands of the world society? What role are schools playing in the formation of active world citizens able to make real contributions to the creation of a more peaceful society?

Education is uniquely placed to help deal with the major problems facing the world society: violent conflict, poverty, the destruction of the natural environment, and other fundamental issues touching human beings everywhere. Education provides information, skills and helps to shape values and attitudes. Yet many children fall outside formal education. Some 113 million school-age children are out of school, and some 875 million adults are illiterate. This is evidence of the fact that the size and complexity of education for all are too great for governments alone to address, even with the best of intentions and effort.

It is true that education is not limited to the formal school system. There are many agents of education: family, media, peers, and associations of all sorts. Nevertheless, schools play a central role, and people expect schools to be leaders in the educational process. Unfortunately, there are times when schools are left alone as the only conscious instrument of education. Therefore, teachers need to analyse how other agents of society contribute to the educational process or, more negatively, may hinder the educational process or promote destructive attitudes and values.

Education has two related aims. One is to help the student to function in society, be it the local, the national, and the world society. The other aim is to help in the fullest development of the individual’s physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual capacities.

There are three related ways to help prepare students for a fast-changing world in which people, ideas, goods and services increasingly cross State frontiers. These ways are related to:

1) skills,
2) content,
3) values and attitudes.
There is a need to teach those skills needed to be able to function effectively in the world: skills of goal setting, analysis, problem solving, research, communication, and conflict-resolution skills. We need to place more emphasis on communication skills in our schools with an emphasis on personal expression through language and the arts. Children need opportunities to acquire skills in writing, speech, drama, music, painting and other arts in order to find their own voices and expressions.

The second area of importance concerns the content of education with an emphasis on modern history and geography, ecology, economics, civics, and the history of science and technology. There is also a need to organize a curriculum through the use of broad themes such as interdependence, change, complexity, culture and conflict.

The third area concerns values and attitudes needed for living in a global society: self-confidence in one’s own capacity, concern and interest in others, an openness to the cultural contributions of other societies. There needs to be a willingness to live with complexity, to refuse easy answers or to shift blame to others. In practice, a good teacher makes a personalized combination of all these elements.

One must be realistic in evaluating the difficulties of restructuring educational systems to make them future oriented and open to the world. We all know the heavy structures of educational systems and the pressures to conform to the status quo. We must not underestimate the narrow nationalistic pressures on the teaching of social issues nor the political influences on content and methods.

In order to understand the limits and the possibilities of change, teachers must be prepared to carry out research on the local community. They must be able to analyse their specific communities. It is always dangerous to make wide generalizations on the role of the family, the media, of religion as if it were always the same in all parts of the country or the same in all social classes and milieu.

Thus, teachers should be able, with some sociological training, to carry out studies on the formation of attitudes, values and skills of their students by looking at the respective role of the family, the content of the media, and student participation in associations. Such studies can be carried out in a cooperative way among several teachers so as to be able to go to greater depth. Teachers could look for information to help answer such questions as “Are any groups excluded from participating in the community?” “How can possible marginalisation be counteracted?” “How can one study environmental and ecological issues locally?” “What is the significance of different role models such as peers, parents, and educators?” “In what ways can non-formal and informal learning environments be furthered?”

There are more and more teachers who realise the direction of current world trends. Migration puts other cultures on one’s door step. We all need to be encouraged by the advances being made. We can help one another so that we may develop the culture of peace and active world citizenship together.

* Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens
 February 17, 2011   World Day of Social Justice: The People’s Revolution is On The March
by Rene Wadlow,
The United Nations General Assembly, on the initiative of Nurbch Jeenbrev, the Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan to the U.N. in New York, has proclaimed 20 February as the “World Day of Social Justice” with an emphasis on the reduction of poverty. The “war” on global poverty has had its share of victories. Life expectancy at birth has risen in many developing countries. Education for some has resulted in rising incomes, but such education has left the uneducated further behind.

Economic growth does not help the poor much in countries where the distribution of wealth is highly unequal. The poor in many countries do not enjoy the benefits of boom times, but they shoulder the costs when there is an economic recession. As traditional family or clan-based welfare systems decline without new government-funded institutions put into place, many are marginalized.

This year the second World Day of Social Justice comes as the people’s revolution sweeps through the Arab lands of North Africa and the Middle East. The cry of the Tunisian uprising — “Liberty-Work-Dignity” — finds its expression in many countries as people organize non-violently for new societies.

The term “the People’s Revolution” was officially used by Henry A. Wallace, then Vice-President of the United States in setting out US war aims in 1942. This was the first time that the war aims of a country were not stated in terms of “national interest” and limited to the demands that had produced the start of the war. Wallace, who had first been the Secretary of Agriculture and who had to deal with the severe depression facing US agriculture, was proposing a world-wide New Deal based on the cooperative action of all of humanity. Wallace said “The people’s revolution is on the march. When the freedom-loving people march — when the farmers have an opportunity to buy land at reasonable prices and to see the produce of their land through their own organizations, when workers have the opportunity to form unions and bargain through them collectively, and when the children of all the people have an opportunity to attend schools which teach them truths of the real world in which they live — when these opportunities are open to everyone, then the world moves straight ahead…The people are on the march toward ever fuller freedom, toward manifesting here on earth the dignity that is in every human soul.”

Today in the demands of “Liberty-Work-Dignity” we hear the demands of farmers to own land under sure conditions, to receive a fair price for their crops as well as the right to organize to protect their interests. We hear the crises of industrial and urban workers to be able to organize and to have their work appreciated for its full value. We hear the demands of students and the young for an education that opens minds and prepares for meaningful work.

The people’s revolution is on the march. While the forces of the status quo are still strong and often heavily armed, the energy has shifted from the rulers to the people. The demands of those in the streets of Tunisia and Egypt have given courage to others who now are in streets where few ever expected to hear crises of protest.

The governments of the USA and Western Europe who spend a good deal of money on “intelligence agencies” were largely surprised by the speed with which the protests have spread. No doubt the Chinese and the Russians were also surprised but have been less willing to admit that they do not understand social movements unrelated to their old ideologies.

It is also probable that the Ambassador of Kyrgyzstan when he helped celebrate the first World Day of Social Justice in 2010 did not think he was setting the stage for the people’s revolution. The U.N. General Assembly proclaims a good number of Days without creating many waves beyond New York City. But the concept of Social Justice has articulated and focused deep demands for liberty, jobs, and dignity.

Some have been surprised – even alarmed – that the people’s revolution in Tunisia and Egypt did not have recognized leaders or an organized political party structure. But the people’s revolution is not that of an elite willing to replace the existing ruling elite. The people’s revolution is a wave of all moving together, with deep currents below the surface. The tide moves with only a few visible waves but the aspirations are collective. No doubt, there will be individualized leadership, and demands will be formulated into political-party platforms, but the collective demands for social justice and dignity is what makes the difference between the people’s revolution and a military coup. This is the true meaning of this year’s World Day of Social Justice.

* Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens
 February 21, 2011   Blood in the Sand: A World Citizen Protest to Repression in Libya
by Rene Wadlow,
Surely, I said
Now will the poets sing
But they have raised no cry
I wonder why
Country Cullen Scottsboro, Too, Is Worth Its Song

We, citizens of the world, determined to safeguard future generations from war, poverty, injustice, and environmental degradation, have always stood for a simple yet powerful idea: that humanity on this planet, must think of itself as one society and must unite in developing the basic policies that advance peace with justice.

The Right to Life — a reverence for life — is the core value upon which our efforts for human rights, for the resolution of conflicts, and for ecologically-sound development is based

Thus, we are encouraged by the waves of efforts for democracy and social justice that are sweeping over North Africa and the Middle East. We salute the courage of those who have brought change and an opportunity for justice in Tunisia and Egypt. The people’s revolution for dignity and social justice is on the march. The march will not be broken, although the old structures of repression try to hold back the future with force.

We are sad when we note a loss of life in different countries throughout North Africa and the Middle East, nearly always the life of a protester at the hands of the military, the police or militia forces.

We are particularly concerned with the repression and loss of life due to the forces of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. Although foreign journalists have been refused entry and internet and phone lines have been disrupted, we have received reports made in good faith of widespread repression and killings by special commandoes and government-sponsored snipers. These actions seem to constitute a widespread and systematic practice.

Therefore, we first call upon the Government of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to uphold universally-recognized human rights and to prevent the disproportionate use of force by its agents.

Secondly, we call upon the Member States of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which has the duty to address situations of the systematic violation of human rights, to organize an Emergency Special Session to mandate a fact-finding team of independent experts to collect information on possible violations of international human rights law.

Thirdly, we call upon the representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations and other representatives of civil society to raise their voices so that all will hear their determination to protect the Right to Life and Human Dignity.

When in 1931 in the USA, the Scottsboro Boys — a group of nine Blacks — were tried for rape in Alabama under conditions which prevented a fair trial, the poet Countree Cullen was listening for the voices of protest, for the calls for justice, but he heard no such cries and wondered why.

Let it not be said of us that when the blood of protesters in Libya flowed into the sand, no cries were heard.

* Rene Wadlow, Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association of World Citizens
 February 3, 2011   Evolutionary Philosophy in the Age of Cosmic Genealogy
by Robert E. Cobb , Forelaws on Board
Global Comunity -

Evolutionary philosophy recognizes intelligent life as a gift with indefinable promise whose culmination can be best achieved through reverence for life and universal forelaws of empathy and compassion (empirical attributes of cosmic genealogy seated within the genome of humankind and all intelligent life).

Louis Pasteur's pivotal work of 1859 in disproving spontaneous generation of life - launching the age of cosmic genealogy - continues to bestow new meaning and context upon reverence for life, with intelligent life recognized as a gift with indefinable promise. More pronounced in modern times owing in large part to the merger of astronomy and biology (astrobiology) as pioneered and led by the late Sir Fred Hoyle, by N. C. Wickramasinghe, Brig Klyce, Halton C. Arp, and others, the age of cosmic genealogy on Earth provides legitimate context for life-centered cosmologies.

"To suppose that Earth is the only populated world in infinite space is as absurd to believe that in an entire field sown with millet, only one grain will grow." - Metrodorus of Chios (Greek Philosopher, Fourth Century BP).

Inextricably linked to individual mate selection, nurturing of offspring, and early childhood education in a healthful, sustainable environment, reverence for life responds remediably to international terrorism. Though actively in denial of their own humanness, international terrorists on Earth remain genetically predisposed (and reeducable) to unity with all members of the human family in bringing about peace on Earth.

"Peace is the marriage of the people and the planet, with all attendant vows." - Anonymous Schweitzer.

"Ethics is nothing less than reverence for life" (Albert Schweitzer) underscores a standard fundamental to meaningful progress in all fields of human endeavor.

"It would be good to prevent the vast suffering and countless violent deaths caused by predation." - Jeff McMahan, Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University

In recognizing intelligent life as a gift with indefinable promise, evolutionary philosophy manifests and advances universal forelaws of empathy and compassion and exemplars of reverence for life with major focus on sucesses related to veganism, to global water equilibrium achievement, to eradicating predation, to astrobiology research, to space exploration (manned and unmanned) and to cosmic reciprocal propagation of intelligent life (by intelligent life) from infinity to infinity. Global water equilibrium is the signature of a compassionate/cooperative global society on all planets with intelligent life. www.forelawsonboard.net/

In forelawsship on board,
Robert E. Cobb
 February 21, 2011   Permafrost Melt Soon Irreversible Without Major Fossil Fuel Cuts
by Stephen Leahy ,
Inter Press Service, Countercurrent

UXBRIDGE - Thawing permafrost is threatening to overwhelm attempts to keep the planet from getting too hot for human survival.

Without major reductions in the use of fossil fuels, as much as two-thirds of the world's gigantic storehouse of frozen carbon could be released, a new study reported. That would push global temperatures several degrees higher, making large parts of the planet uninhabitable.

Once the Arctic gets warm enough, the carbon and methane emissions from thawing permafrost will kick-start a feedback that will amplify the current warming rate, says Kevin Schaefer, a scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. That will likely be irreversible.

And we're less than 20 years from this tipping point. Schaefer prefers to use the term "starting point" for when the 13 million square kilometres of permafrost in Alaska, Canada, Siberia and parts of Europe becomes a major new source of carbon emissions.

"Our model projects a starting point 15 to 20 years from now," Schaefer told IPS.

The model used a 'middle of the road' scenario with less fossil fuel use than at present. Even at that rate, it found that between 29 and 60 percent of the world's permafrost will thaw, releasing an extra 190 gigatonnes of carbon by 2200. The study is the first to quantify when and how much carbon will be released and was published this week in the meteorological journal Tellus.

"The amount of carbon released is equivalent to half the amount of carbon that has been released into the atmosphere since the dawn of the industrial age," Schaefer said.

The additional carbon from permafrost would increase the average temperatures in the Arctic by eight to 10 degrees C, the study reported. Not only would this utterly transform the Arctic, it would also increase the planet's average temperature by about three degrees C, agrees Schaefer.

And this increase would be on top of the three to six degrees C from continuing to burn fossil fuels over the next 100 years. The Earth's normal average temperature is 14C, so heating up the entire planet another six to nine degrees C would be like increasing our body temperatures from the normal 37C to a deadly fever of 53 to 60 degrees C.

As catastrophic as all this is, Schaefer acknowledges his study underestimates what is likely to happen. The model does not measure methane releases, which are 40 times as potent in terms of warming as carbon. Methane could have a big impact on temperatures in the short term, he says.

"There would be a lot of methane emissions. We're working on estimating those right now," he said.

The model also does not include emissions from the large region of underwater permafrost. IPS previously reported that an estimated eight million tonnes of methane emissions are bubbling to the surface from the shallow East Siberian Arctic shelf every year.

If just one percent of the Arctic undersea methane (also called methane hydrates) reaches the atmosphere, it could quadruple the amount of methane currently in the atmosphere, Vladimir Romanovsky of the University of Alaska in Fairbanks previously told IPS.

Nor does the model account for a process called thermokarst erosion, acknowledges Schaefer. This is a widely observed process where meltwater erodes the permafrost and exposes it to warmer temperatures and speeding up the thaw. "We can't model that yet but it could contribute to major releases of carbon and methane," he said.

None of this has been taken into account by politicians and policy makers looking to cut humanity's carbon emissions with the agreed on target of keeping global temperatures below two degrees C.

Nor is there a wide appreciation for the fact there is no 'reverse gear'. Even if all fossil fuel use stopped today, global temperatures would continue to rise and permafrost would thaw for another 20 to 30 years, Schaefer estimates. And once the permafrost carbon is released, "there is no way to put it back into the permafrost".

Even if there was a way to lower the Earth's human-induced fever, it would take a century or more for thawed permafrost to reform, he said.

Permafrost has been warming and thawing since the 1980s. A 2009 study reported that the southernmost permafrost limit had retreated 130 kilometres over the past 50 years in Quebec's James Bay region. The major loss of sea ice in the Arctic allows the Arctic Ocean to become much warmer, which in turn has increased temperatures of coastal regions an average of three to five degrees C warmer than 30 years ago.

More ominously, large parts of the eastern Arctic were 21C higher above normal for a month in the dead of winter this year, as previously reported by IPS.

However, while on the edge of a most dangerous precipice, there is a safer path available. A new energy analysis demonstrates that fossil fuel energy could be virtually phased out by 2050 while offering comfortable lifestyles for all. The Energy Report by Ecofys, a leading energy consulting firm in the Netherlands, shows that humanity could meet 95 percent of energy needs with renewables utilising today's technologies.

"The Energy Report shows that in four decades we can have a world of vibrant economies and societies powered entirely by clean, cheap and renewable energy and with a vastly improved quality of life," said WWF Director General Jim Leape.

WWF worked on the report with Ecofys.

"The report is more than a scenario – it's a call for action. We can achieve a cleaner, renewable future, but we must start now," Leape said in a statement.

© 2011 IPS North America

  Read Permafrost Melt Soon Irreversible Without Major Fossil Fuel Cuts
 February 4, 2011   Are We Running Out Of Oil?
by Bill McKibben, Noam Chomsky, Nicole Foss & Richard Heinberg ,
The Nation, Countercurrent

The scientific community has long agreed that our dependence on fossil fuels inflicts massive damage on the environment and our health, while warming the globe in the process. But beyond the damage these fuels cause to us now, what will happen when the world's supply of oil runs out?

In a new video series from The Nation and On The Earth Productions, Bill McKibben, Noam Chomsky, Nicole Foss, Richard Heinberg and other scientists, researchers and writers explain.

Go here to learn more about "Peak Oil and a Changing Climate," and to see the other videos in the series.

  Read Are We Running Out Of Oil?
 February 1, 2011   What Right Do You Have To Be Here On Planet Earth?
by William Kotke,
Carolynbaker.net, Countercurrent

At some point in our lives, most of us realized that there is no place that we could stand on the side of mother earth and not be asked, “by what right are you here?” Do we have a rent receipt, a park pass, a ticket, a passport? Even the rare humans in the Amazonian interior cannot get out of Brazil without a passport.

And when I do have a rent receipt, who is it that “benevolently” and tentatively extend those rights to me? An armed gang of thugs who call themselves “civilization” own mother earth. This loosely organized gang of thugs are composed, usually, into a male hierarchy, generally referred to as the planetary, military patriarchy. This gender imbalanced, group of fat bankers in business suits, with Generals at their side, owns the earth. These are the descendants of the original patriarchs who began the warfare – looting -death oriented, empire culture, who apparently believed that because males are larger and stronger, they should kill the opposition and loot the earth of material goods, which they call “wealth” and conflate with “power.”

Now, they have done it. They have looted the earth almost to its death. Babylon ecologically destroyed Iraq, the Indus Empire ecologically destroyed the Indus Valley, the Han Chinese ecologically destroyed China and the Greek and Roman empires ecologically destroyed North Africa and Italy and now the patriarchs are sucking the life force out of the whole earth. The patriarchs are not standing on the living earth, they exist in a mentally conditioned bubble that tells them that the more the earth dies, the better things get. They call it the sacred growth. They babble incessantly about economics, politics, and fast cars. At the universities they have answers to all questions, but the reality here on the earth is simple.

The Giant Vacuum Cleaner They Call Economics

They have set up a giant vacuum machine that can identify any valuable biological activity on the earth. Down here on the earth, the soil community of millions of members slowly builds up surpluses. In optimum ecologies, this community can produce one inch of topsoil in three hundred to nine hundred years. The giant machine identifies the biologically rich areas of soils, fish stocks, forests, grasslands and so forth in which to plug its tentacles. The sucking sound is the life force leaving our planet. Of course, they babble on about their theories of economics and politics as they try to justify their methods of sharing the loot, which they have sucked out of the planet’s life force. In this culturally conditioned reality bubble, we have more regard for the house made of dead trees than we have for the living forest itself.

The industrialists prattle on about value. What is it that makes our loot valuable? The industrial Marxist, in his bubble, says that it is human labor that makes things valuable, the voice from the industrial capitalist bubble says it is whatever people will pay.

Back on the earth, the life force maintains a web of energy flows. The sunlight is consumed, photosynthesis increases biomass, the leaf falls from the tree, it becomes food for the soil community, which creates fertility for the tree. This exemplifies the vastly more manifold and complex web of life of the earth. No life form attempts to take over the whole. Each lives according to its nature in dynamic balance with the web of life.

Therefore, each life form that exists in dynamic balance within the web of life has a right to be here on earth because it’s part of the function. In addition, because the local conditions in the cosmos have created the environment for life to exist on earth, we can say that the life form has even cosmic rights. Therefore, if you are existing in dynamic balance with the web of life of the planet earth, YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE HERE ON THIS PLANET EARTH, otherwise you and I are biologically illegitimate criminals intent on murdering our mother.

When we examine, say, our own liver, we see a cell community happily cooperating with the body’s design in doing liver things. In some extreme case we might see a small group of cells cancerously declare that they don’t like the cosmic design and they commit to creating a (tumor) body of their own design. They then begin sucking the life force out of the larger body and growing their own tumor body until the larger body dies.

We are now at the crime scene. There are individual life forms loose on the planet that are cancerously sucking the life out of larger benign bodies. We call ourselves, “the civilized.” And how did this criminal enterprise begin?

For several million years our species lived very successfully on the earth, embedded in the ecological energy flows as forager/hunters. With our encyclopedic knowledge of the living earth, we knew plants come from seeds and also where the seeds should be planted. Many forager/hunters planted seeds along the foraging routes, to return later. But, at some point, some humans decided that they didn’t like the design of the larger body and began the practice of agriculture as a way of life. This was the fateful decision that has almost sealed the fate of our planet.

What happened on the ground? Those humans stopped the foraging migrations and became embedded in one spot. They began to suck biological surpluses from the soil with farming and grazing. They accumulated food and material objects in their buildings. Because they had “wealth” to protect, a male, military hierarchy was created. They were protecting material goods and thus materialism came into the new culture. The idea of linear increase, growth, progress became imbedded in the culture as the patriarchs began to envision “bigger barns and broader acres.”(1)

Steven Mithen, in his book, After the Ice, describes a neolithic village called Ain Ghazal, in the Mid-East. The archeologists, going down the layers find animal bones and pollen counts that indicate an original luxury of animals and plants, including farm produce. As time went on, the two thousand person town was reduced to zero as the wild game disappeared, the soils were exhausted and eroded and the trees cut down.(2) In some “civilized” cultures the people didn’t disappear, but the problem metastasized. If one sucks the biological energy out of their area, they have to spread out and conquer new soils, forests and grasslands and get on the path toward empire.

From this mix we get “civilization,” a brutish mass of mutant, hyper-male killers who’s culture makes famous mass, serial killers such as Alexander the Great, Caligula, George Bush and Ted Bundy.

Our species made a terminal mistake. We did not observe the first principle of living on the earth – ECOLOGICAL BALANCE, and the second, LIFE HAS VALUE.

We Are Now Ready To Overthrow The Pathological Patriarch

Millions of us are now ready. They call us “alternatives,” “cultural creatives,” “hippies,” “radicals,” un-Russian, un-British and un-American. Out of the intuition of the masses has come the new culture. The new culture emphasizes gender balance and consensus government. The new culture of non- industrial medical care points to herbal medicine, energy medicine, Reiki, nutrition, naturopathic, yoga, homeopathic, yoga, and much more.

Many have thought we are trying to wear loin cloths and eat roots and berries. Although our forager/hunter ancestors were successful, there have been many human cultures that have existed in ecological balance. It is ecological balance, not loin cloths that we are discussing. The Nabateans of the Negev Desert in the Mid-East, from 200 b.c. to 100 a.d. created a superlative civilization out of a barren desert with human creativity. Anthropologist D.A. Posey describes the Kayapo´ of the Amazon who grow well over 100 different species in their rainforest gardens (which to the uninitiated look like more rainforest) of an acre or less.(3) The Inca Civilization existed without ecological destruction.

We now have Permaculture as a balanced way of getting our nutrition from the earth. Permaculture is a wholistic body of strategies that seeks to mimic ecological processes and can grow more food per acre than the industrial system while building the soil and providing homes for other creatures.

We now have a huge alternative building movement of straw bale, cob, rammed earth, earth bag, adobe, and much more that rely on local materials. We now have alternative solar homes that can heat and cool themselves without outside energy.

We have the Global Ecovillage Network (4) which has thousands of ecovillage members around the planet all pointed toward self-sufficiency and Balance with the life force.

We have “alternative” people who are expanding the human potential by perceiving and communicating with the life force of the planet.(5)

We even have new wave economists who lay out a plan for a new cooperative economy. (6)

People living with nature, on the land, in ecovillages with an artisan economy are the picture of social stability and self-sufficiency. With this means we can establish a culture that can prevent hierarchy and can prevent the creation of surpluses that would support militaries, dictators, emperors, shopping mall addicts and centralized governments.

We are now living out the last gasps of materialistic, industrial civilization and the dying away of the flesh of our planet, with its exploding population and dwindling resources. If there were any maturity in the human societies they would be glad to sponsor experimental communities such as ecovillages. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the death culture could push through a few surviving ecologically balanced human communities past the apocalypse to become the seeds of the new human culture based on the principles of life?

(1) Chapter 9, The Cultural Dynamics of Empire. The Final Empire: The Collapse of Civilization and the Seed of the Future. Wm. H. Kötke.

(2) After the Ice: A Global Human History, 20,000-5,000 B C. P. 87.

(3)Indigenous Peoples and Tropical Rainforests: Models of Land Use. Cultural Survival Report #27. Jason W. Clay. 1988.

(4) http://www.gen.ecovillage.org

(5)Plant Spirit Healing: A Guide to Working With Plant Consciousness. Pam Montgomery. Bear & Co. 2008.

The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Direct Perception of Nature. Stephen Harrod Buhner. Bear & Co. 2004.

(6) http://www.ied.info/blog/1414/an-understandable-full-and-equal-rights-economy-in-170-words

Wm. H. Kötke is the author of The Final Empire (www.thefinalempirebook.com) and Garden Planet. He also has a garden and a full root cellar.

  Read What Right Do You Have To Be Here On Planet Earth?
 January 27, 2011   Climate Benefits Of Natural Gas May Be Overstated
by Abrahm Lustgarten , Countercurrent

The United States is poised to bet its energy future on natural gas as a clean, plentiful fuel that can supplant coal and oil. But new research by the Environmental Protection Agency — and a growing understanding of the pollution associated with the full "life cycle" of gas production—is casting doubt on the assumption that gas offers a quick and easy solution to climate change.

Advocates for natural gas routinely assert that it produces 50 percent less greenhouse gases than coal and is a significant step toward a greener energy future. But those assumptions are based on emissions from the tailpipe or smokestack and don't account for the methane and other pollution emitted when gas is extracted and piped to power plants and other customers.

The EPA's new analysis doubles its previous estimates for the amount of methane gas that leaks from loose pipe fittings and is vented from gas wells, drastically changing the picture of the nation's emissions that the agency painted as recently as April. Calculations for some gas-field emissions jumped by several hundred percent. Methane levels from the hydraulic fracturing of shale gas were 9,000 times higher than previously reported.

When all these emissions are counted, gas may be as little as 25 percent cleaner than coal, or perhaps even less.

Even accounting for the new analysis, natural gas—which also emits less toxic and particulate pollution—offers a significant environmental advantage. But the narrower the margins get, the weaker the political arguments become and the more power utilities flinch at investing billions to switch to a fuel that may someday lose the government's long-term support.

Understanding exactly how much greenhouse gas pollution comes from drilling is especially important, because the Obama administration has signaled that gas production may be an island of common political ground in its never-ending march toward an energy bill. The administration and Congress are seeking not just a steady, independent supply of energy, but a fast and drastic reduction in the greenhouse gases associated with climate change.

Billions of cubic feet of climate-changing greenhouse gases—roughly the equivalent of the annual emissions from 35 million automobiles—seep from loose pipe valves or are vented intentionally from gas production facilities into the atmosphere each year, according to the EPA. Gas drilling emissions alone account for at least one-fifth of human-caused methane in the world's atmosphere, the World Bank estimates, and as more natural gas is drilled, the EPA expects these emissions to increase dramatically.

When scientists evaluate the greenhouse gas emissions of energy sources over their full lifecycle and incorporate the methane emitted during production, the advantage of natural gas holds true only when it is burned in more modern and efficient plants.

But roughly half of the 1,600 gas-fired power plants in the United States operate at the lowest end of the efficiency spectrum. And even before the EPA sharply revised its data, these plants were only 32 percent cleaner than coal, according to a lifecycle analysis by Paulina Jaramillo, an energy expert and associate professor of engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University.

Now that the EPA has doubled its emissions estimates, the advantages are slimmer still. Based on the new numbers, the median gas-powered plant in the United States is just 40 percent cleaner than coal, according to calculations ProPublica made based on Jaramillo's formulas. Those 800 inefficient plants offer only a 25 percent improvement.

Other scientists say the pollution gap between gas and coal could shrink even more. That's in part because the primary pollutant from natural gas, methane, is far more potent than other greenhouse gases, and scientists are still trying to understand its effect on the climate—and because it continues to be difficult to measure exactly how much methane is being emitted.

In November the EPA announced new greenhouse gas reporting rules for the oil and gas industry. For the first time under the Clean Air Act, the nation's guiding air quality law, thousands of small facilities will have to be counted in the pollution reporting inventory, a change that might also lead to higher measurements.

The natural gas industry, in the meantime, has pressed hard for subsidies and guarantees that would establish gas as an indispensible source of American energy and create a market for the vast new gas reserves discovered in recent years. The industry would like to see new power plants built to run on gas, automobile infrastructure developed to support gas vehicles and a slew of other ambitious plans that would commit the United States to a reliance on gas for decades to come.

But if it turns out that natural gas offers a more modest improvement over coal and oil, as the new EPA data begin to suggest, then billions of dollars of taxpayer and industry investment in new infrastructure, drilling and planning could be spent for limited gain.

"The problem is you build a gas plant for 40 years. That's a long bridge," said James Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, one of the nation's largest power companies. Duke generates more than half of its electricity from coal, but Rogers has also been a vocal proponent of cap-and-trade legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

Rogers worries that a blind jump to gas could leave the country dependent on yet another fossil resource, without stemming the rate of climate change.

"What if, with revelations around methane emissions, it turns out to be only a 10 or 20 percent reduction of carbon from coal? If that's true," he said, "gas is not the panacea."

The American Petroleum Institute said in an e-mailed response that federal offshore drilling rules are already cutting down on the emissions tallied by the government. Spokesmen for the Independent Petroleum Association of America and the natural gas lobbying groups Energy in Depth, American Clean Skies Foundation and America's Natural Gas Alliance, which have all been pushing to expand the use of gas, declined to comment on the EPA's new figures and what they mean for the comparison between gas and coal.

But industry groups point out that gas looks attractive compared to the alternatives.

Nuclear energy is less polluting than gas from a climate-changing perspective, but it is costly and viewed skeptically in the United States because of the dangers of disposing of radioactive waste. So-called "clean coal"—including underground carbon sequestration—could work, but the technology has repeatedly stalled, remains unproven, and is at least 15 years away. Renewable sources like wind and solar are being developed rapidly, but the energy is expensive and won't provide a commanding supply of electricity for decades.

Gas, on the other hand, is plentiful, accessible and local.

Methane Is a Potent Climate Gas

Measuring the amount of natural gas that is leaking during drilling is one challenge. Getting a grip on how that gas—which is mostly methane—affects the environment, and what effect it will have on global warming, is another. And on that, some scientists still disagree.

Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide, as well as methane, propane and lesser-known gases that also affect climate change. For the purposes of standardization, all these gases are described together using the unit Co2e, or carbon dioxide "equivalent." But because each gas has a different potency, or "warming" effect on the atmosphere, a factor is applied to convert it to an equivalent of carbon dioxide.

Methane, the primary component of natural gas and among the more potent greenhouse gases, has far more of an effect on climate change than carbon dioxide. But determining the factor that should be applied to measure its relative warming affect is still being debated.

To crunch its numbers, the EPA calculated the average concentration of methane in the atmosphere over a 100-year period and determined that over that period methane is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Using that equation, a ton of methane emissions is the equivalent of 21 tons of carbon dioxide.

But some scientists argue that the impact of methane gas should be calculated over a shorter time period, because methane degrades quickly, and because gas drilling releases large quantities of methane into the atmosphere all at once, likely concentrating and amplifying the effect.

Robert Howarth, an environmental biology professor at Cornell University, used research from the United Nations to calculate that if methane's potency were considered over 20 years rather than 100 years, it would be 72 times as powerful as carbon dioxide in terms of its warming potential.

Figured that way, the climate effect of methane from natural gas would quickly outpace the climate effect of carbon dioxide from burning coal. Howarth's research is incomplete and has been criticized because at first he failed to figure in methane emissions from coal mining. But he said that after correcting his error, the emissions from coal barely changed, and the data still showed that the intensity of methane could erase the advantages of using natural gas.

"Even small leakages of natural gas to the atmosphere have very large consequences," Howarth wrote in a March memorandum [2], which he says is a precursor to a more thorough study that could begin to scientifically answer these questions. "When the total emissions of greenhouse gases are considered...natural gas and coal from mountaintop removal probably have similar releases, and in fact natural gas may be worse in terms of consequences on global warming."

Howarth says his latest calculations show that the type of shale gas drilling taking place in parts of Texas, New York and Pennsylvania leads to particularly high emissions and would likely be just as dirty as coal.

Environmental groups say factual data on how much methane is emitted from gas fields—and what the warming affect of that methane is—should be locked down before major policy decisions are made to shift the nation toward more reliance on gas.

"You can't just assume away some of these sources as de minimus," said Tom Singer, a senior policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council who focuses on emissions reporting in New Mexico. "You need to get a handle on them before you can make a determination."

Less Pollution Means More Profit

The EPA tracks fugitive and vented methane emissions through a program called Natural Gas STAR and then works to get drilling companies to save money by stanching their leaks and selling the gas they capture for profit. It was a discrepancy in the Gas STAR data that prompted the EPA to sharply revise the government's greenhouse gas statistics late last year.

According to Gas STAR's most recent figures, at least 1.6 percent of all the natural gas produced in the United States each year, about 475 billion cubic feet, is assumed to be leaked or vented during production. But those numbers were reported before the EPA adjusted its greenhouse gas estimates, and they are expected to rise when the new estimates are plugged into the calculation. If companies could capture even the gas leaked in Gas STAR's current estimates, it would be worth $2.1 billion a year at today's prices and would cut the nation's emissions by more than 2 percent right off the bat. Several studies show that maintaining and installing equipment to capture the emissions pays for itself within 24 months.

Gas STAR has seen some success in pushing companies to use these capture tools. The EPA's 2010 greenhouse gas inventory, using 2008 data, shows that even though more gas is being produced from more wells, total emissions from that production have decreased by more than 26 percent since 1990, mostly due to the progress of Gas STAR. But while these figures demonstrate that Gas STAR is effective in lowering the annual rate of emissions, the EPA's new figures essentially move the starting point, and, when recalculated, 2008 emissions are now understood to have been 53 percent higher than emissions in 1990.

That doesn't mean the program isn't working—it is. It simply means that the road to making reductions significant enough to affect the rate of climate change is much longer than expected.

The EPA now reports that emissions from conventional hydraulic fracturing are 35 times higher than the agency had previously estimated. It also reports that emissions from the type of hydraulic fracturing being used in the nation's bountiful new shale gas reserves, like the Marcellus, are almost 9,000 times higher than it had previously calculated, a figure that begins to correspond with Robert Howarth's research at Cornell.

Clean Enough to Count On?

Getting a solid estimate of the total lifecycle emissions from natural gas is critical not only to President Obama's—and Congress'—decisions about the nation's energy and climate strategy, but also to future planning for the nation's utilities.

Even small changes in the lifecycle emissions figures for gas would eventually affect policy and incentives for the utility industry, and ultimately make a big difference in how gas stacks up against its alternatives.

Rogers, the Duke executive, says the country's large promised reserves of natural gas must also hold up for gas to prove beneficial, in terms of both cost and climate. If domestic reserves turn out to be smaller than predicted, or the nation runs out of gas and turns to liquefied gas imported from overseas, then the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas would be almost equal to coal, Jaramillo pointed out in her 2007 lifecycle analysis, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology [3]. That's because the additional processing and shipping of liquefied gas would put even more greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere.

"In the 60's we put a needle in one arm—it was called oil," Rogers said. "If the shale gas doesn't play out as predicted, and we build a lot of gas plants in this country, and we don't drill offshore, we're going to be putting the needle in the other arm and it's going to be called gas."

The utilities are in a bind because they have to build new power plants to meet the nation's demand for energy, while anticipating an as-yet-undefined set of federal climate and emissions regulations that they believe are inevitable. Do they build new gas-fired plants, which can cost $2 billion and take three years to bring online? Or do they wait for proven systems that can capture carbon from coal-fired plants and sequester it underground?

If carbon sequestration works, coal-based power emissions could drop by 90 percent, said Nick Akins, president of American Electric Power, the nation's largest electric utility and the number-one emitter of greenhouse gas pollution. That suggests to Akins that natural gas may not be the solution to the nation's energy needs, but rather the transitional fuel that bridges the gap to cleaner technologies.

"Going from a 100 percent CO2 emitter to a 50 percent solution when you could go beyond that is something we need to turn our attention to," said Akins. "If there is a 90 percent solution for coal, and other forms like nuclear, and renewables, then obviously you want to push in that direction as well."

Correction: The article originally misstated that methane, at least 21 times more potent than CO2, is the most potent of greenhouse gases. The article should have stated that it is among the more potent greenhouse gases.

  Read Climate Benefits Of Natural Gas May Be Overstated
 February 16, 2011   Inspired by Egypt -- The Incredible Power of Non-Violent Protest
Michael Schwartz 15 COMMENTS , AlterNet, Immigration Impact
A mass movement engaged in mass disruption can topple a tyrant equipped with fearsome weapons of mass destruction.

Memo to President Obama: Given the absence of intelligent intelligence and the inadequacy of your advisers’ advice, it’s not surprising that your handling of the Egyptian uprising has set new standards for foreign policy incoherence and incompetence.  Perhaps a primer on how to judge the power that can be wielded by mass protest will prepare you better for the next round of political upheavals.

Remember the uprising in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989?  That was also a huge, peaceful protest for democracy, but it was crushed with savage violence.  Maybe the memory of that event convinced you and your team that, as Secretary of State Clinton announced when the protests beganthe Mubarak regime was “stable” and in “no danger of falling.” Or maybe your confidence rested on the fact that it featured a disciplined modern army trained and supplied by the USA.

But it fell, and you should have known that it was in grave danger.  You should have known that the prognosis for this uprising was far better than the one that ended in a massacre in Tiananmen Square; that it was more likely to follow the pattern of people power in Tunisia, where only weeks before another autocrat had been driven from power, or Iran in 1979 and Poland in 1989.

Since your intelligence people, including the CIA, obviously didn’t tell you, let me offer you an explanation for why the Egyptian protesters proved so much more successful in fighting off the threat and reality of violence than their Chinese compatriots, and why they were so much better equipped to deter an attack by a standing army.  Most importantly, let me fill you in on why, by simply staying in the streets and adhering to their commitment to nonviolence, they were able to topple a tyrant with 30 years seniority and the backing of the United States from the pinnacle of power, sweeping him into the dustbin of history.  

When Does an Army Choose to Be Nonviolent?

One possible answer -- a subtext of mainstream media coverage -- is that the Egyptian military, unlike its Chinese counterpart, decided not to crush the rebellion, and that this forbearance enabled the protest to succeed.  However, this apparently reasonable argument actually explains nothing unless we can answer two intertwined questions that flow from it.

The first is: Why was the military so restrained this time around, when for 50 years, “it has stood at the core of a repressive police state”?  The second is: Why couldn’t the government, even without a military ready to turn its guns on the demonstrators, endure a few more days, weeks, or months of protest, while waiting for the uprising to exhaust itself, and -- as the BBC put it -- “have the whole thing fizzle out”?

The answer to both questions lies in the remarkable impact that the protest had on the Egyptian economy. Mubarak and his cohort (as well as the military, which is the country’s economic powerhouse) were alarmedthat the business “paralysis induced by the protests” was “having a huge impact on the creaking economy” of Egypt.  As Finance Minister Samir Radwin said two weeks into the uprising, the economic situation was “very serious” and that “the longer the stalemate continues, the more damaging it is.”

From their inception, the huge protests threatened the billions of dollars that the leaders and chief beneficiaries of the Mubarak regime had acquired during their 30 year reign of terror, corruption, and accumulation.  To the generals in particular, it was surely apparent that the massive acts of brutality necessary to suppress the uprising would have caused perhaps irreparable harm, threatening its vast economic interests. In other words, either trying to outwait the revolutionaries or imposing the Tiananmen solution risked the downfall of the economic empires of Egypt’s ruling groups.

But why would either of those responses destroy the economy?

Squeezing the Life Out of the Mubarak Regime

Put simply, from the beginning, the Egyptian uprising had the effect of a general strike.  Starting on January 25th, the first day of the protest, tourism -- the largest industry in the country, which had just begun its high season -- went into free fall.  After two weeks, the industry had simply “ground to a halt,”leaving a significant portion of the two million workers it supported with reduced wages or none at all, and the few remaining tourists rattling around empty hotels, catching the pyramids, if at all, on television.

Since pyramids and other Egyptian sites attract more than a million visitors a month and account for at least 5% of the Egyptian economy, tourism alone (given the standard multiplier effect) may account for over 15% of the country’s cash flow. Not surprisingly, then, news reports soon began mentioning revenue losses of up to $310 million per day. In an economy with an annual gross domestic product (GDP) of well over $200 billion, each day that Mubarak clung to office produced a tangible and growing decline in it.  After two weeks of this ticking time bomb, Crédit Agricole, the largest banking group in France, lowered its growth estimate for the country’s economy by 32%.

The initial devastating losses in the tourist, hotel, and travel sectors of the Egyptian economy hit industries dominated by huge multinational corporations and major Egyptian business groups dependent on a constant flow of revenues.  When cash flow dies, loan payments must still be made, hotels heated, airline schedules kept, and many employees, especially executives, paid.  In such a situation, losses start mounting fast, and even the largest companies can face a crisis quickly. The situation was especially ominous because it was known that skittish travelers would be unlikely to return until they were confident that no further disruptions would occur.

The largest of businesses, local and multinational, are not normally prone to inactivity.  They are the ones likely to move most quickly to stem a tide of red ink by agitating the government to suppress such a protest, hopefully yesterday. But the staggering size of even the early demonstrations, the face of a mobilizing civil society visibly shedding 30 years of passivity, proved stunning.  The fiercely brave response to police attacks, in which repression was met by masses of new demonstrators pouring into the streets, made it clear that brutal suppression would not quickly silence these protests.  Such acts were more likely to prolong the disruptions and possibly amplify the uprising.

Even if Washington was slow on the uptake, it didn’t take long for the relentlessly repressive Egyptian ruling clique to grasp the fact that large-scale, violent suppression was an impossible-to-implement strategy.  Once the demonstrations involved hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Egyptians, a huge and bloody suppression guaranteed long-term economic paralysis and ensured that the tourist trade wasn’t going to rebound for months or longer.

The paralysis of the tourism industry was, in itself, an economic time bomb that threatened the viability of the core of the Egyptian capitalist class, as long as the demonstrations continued.  Recovery could only begin after a “return to normal life,” a phrase that became synonymous with the end of the protests in the rhetoric of the government, the military, and the mainstream media. With so many fortunes at stake, the business classes, foreign and domestic, soon enough began entertaining the most obvious and least disruptive solution:Mubarak’s departure.

Strangling the Mubarak Regime

The attack on tourism, however, was just the first blow in what rapidly became the protestors’ true weapon of mass disruption, its increasing stranglehold on the economy. The crucial communications and transportation industries were quickly engulfed in chaos and disrupted by the demonstrations.  The government at first shut down the Internet and mobile phone service in an effort to deny the protestors their means of communication and organization, including Facebook and Twitter.  When they were reopened, these services operated imperfectly, in part because of the increasingly rebellious behavior of their own employees.

Similar effects were seen in transportation, which became unreliable and sporadic, either because of government shutdowns aimed at crippling the protests or because the protests interfered with normal operations.  And such disruptions quickly rippled outward to the many sectors of the economy, from banking to foreign trade, for which communication and/or transportation was crucial.

As the demonstrations grew, employees, customers, and suppliers of various businesses were ever more consumed with preparations for, participation in, or recovery from the latest protest, or protecting homes from looters and criminals after the government called the police force off the streets.  On Fridays especially, many people left work to join the protest during noon prayers, abandoning their offices as the country immersed itself in the next big demonstration -- and then the one after.

As long as the protests were sustained, as long as each new crescendo matched or exceeded the last, the economy continued to die while business and political elites became ever more desperate for a solution to the crisis.

The Rats Leave the Sinking Ship of State

After each upsurge in protest, Mubarak and his cronies offered new concessions aimed at quieting the crowds.  These, in turn, were taken as signs of weakness by the protestors, only convincing them of their strength, amplifying the movement, and driving it into the heart of the Egyptian working class and the various professional guilds.  By the start of the third week of demonstrations, protests began to hit critical institutions directly.

On February 9th, reports of a widening wave of strikes in major industries around the country began pouring in, as lawyers, medical workers, and other professionals also took to the streets with their grievances.  In a single day, tens of thousands of employees in textile factories, newspapers and other media companies, government agencies (including the post office), sanitation workers and bus drivers, and -- most significant of all -- workers at the Suez Canal began demanding economic concessions as well as the departure of Mubarak.

Since the Suez Canal is second only to tourism as a source of income for the country, a sit-in there, involving up to 6,000 workers, was particularly ominous.  Though the protestors made no effort to close the canal, the threat to its operation was self-evident.

A shutdown of the canal would have been not just an Egyptian but a world calamity: a significant proportion of the globe’s oil flows through that canal, especially critical for energy-starved Europe.  A substantial shipping slowdown, no less a shutdown, threatened a possible renewal of the worldwide recession of 2008-2009, even as it would choke off the Egyptian government’s major source of steady income.

As if this weren’t enough, the demonstrators turned their attention to various government institutions, attempting to render them “nonfunctional.” The day after the president’s third refusal to step down, protestors claimed that many regional capitals, including Suez, Mahalla, Mansoura, Ismailia, Port Said, and even Alexandria (the country’s major Mediterranean port), were “free of the regime” -- purged of Mubarak officials, state-controlled communications, and the hated police and security forces.  In Cairo, the national capital, demonstrators began to surround the parliament, the state TV building, and other centers critical to the national government.  Alaa Abd El Fattah, an activist and well known political blogger in Cairo, told Democracy Now that the crowd “could continue to escalate, either by claiming more places or by actually moving inside these buildings, if the need comes.” With the economy choking to death, the demonstrators were now moving to put a hammerlock on the government apparatus itself.

At that point, a rats-leaving-a-sinking-ship-of-state phenomenon burst into public visibility as “several large companies took out adverts in local newspapers putting distance between themselves and the regime.”  Guardianreporter Jack Shenker affirmed this public display by quoting informed sources describing widespread “nervousness among the business community” about the viability of the regime, and that “a lot of people you might think are in bed with Mubarak have privately lost patience.”

It was this tightening noose around the neck of the Mubarak regime that made the remarkable protests of these last weeks so different from those in Tiananmen Square.  In China, the demonstrators had negligible economic and political leverage.  In Egypt, the option of a brutal military attack, even if “successful” in driving them off the streets, seemed to all but guarantee the deepening of an already dire economic crisis, subjecting ever widening realms of the economy -- and so the wealth of the military -- to the risk of irreparable calamity.

Perhaps Mubarak would have been willing to sacrifice all this to stay in power.  As it happened, a growing crew of movers and shakers, including the military leadership, major businessmen, foreign investors, and interested foreign governments saw a far more appealing alternative solution.

Weil Ziada, head of research for a major Egyptian financial firm, spoke for the business and political class when he told Guardian reporter Jack Shenker on February 11th:

"Anti-government sentiment is not calming down, it is gaining momentum…This latest wave is putting a lot more pressure on not just the government but the entire regime; protesters have made their demands clear and there's no rowing back now. Everything is going down one route. There are two or three scenarios, but all involve the same thing: Mubarak stepping down -- and the business community is adjusting its expectations accordingly."

The next day, President Hosni Mubarak resigned and left Cairo.

President Obama, remember this lesson: If you want to avoid future foreign policy Obaminations, be aware that nonviolent protest has the potential to strangle even the most brutal regime, if it can definitively threaten the viability of its core industries. In these circumstances, a mass movement equipped with fearsome weapons of mass disruption can topple a tyrant equipped with fearsome weapons of mass destruction.

Michael Schwartz is a professor of sociology and faculty director of the Undergraduate College of Global Studies at Stony Brook University.
  Read Inspired by Egypt -- The Incredible Power of Non-Violent Protest
 February 4, 2011   Adapting to Climate Change through Improved Access to Seed and Information
Danielle Nierenberg, AlterNet

Crossposted from the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet.

In Dhading province in central Nepal, most people are farmers, who depend on rain-fed agriculture for food and income. But erratic rainfall and natural disasters in recent years, including widespread drought and recurring landslides, are threatening the livelihoods of the region’s farming communities.

Adapting to Climate ChangeResource Identification and Management Society (RIMS)-Nepal, a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable management of natural resources through local capacity-building, has organized a pilot project called the Community Seed and Information Resource Center (CSIRC).

The CSIRC initiative is empowering small-scale farmers with the tools they need to adapt to climate change. Established in November 2010, the CSIRC is organized, managed, and staffed by the village development committee (VDC) of Tasarpu, under the Local Adaptation Plan of Action (LAPA) program.

After conducting a survey to identify the most vulnerable households in the province, the program is providing subsidies for improved seeds to some 160 farmers.

The CSIRC’s decentralized model allows farmers to pool their resources together, ensuring better adaptation to climate change for the entire community. At the center, community members share knowledge about how to put their new inputs to be better use. The CSIRC serves as an important village resource – it allows farmers to collectively discuss the challenges they face and share practices to better manage natural resources.

And the program’s executive committee is also working to integrate the CSIRC within national agriculture networks. One such network is the Telecenters website, an online platform that provides rural farmers with timely information on markets, prices, and weather in English and Nepali.

In remote rural areas, improved access to information about prices for various crops at markets is helping farmers negotiate with buyers or decide which markets to bring their products to. These innovative information sharing networks bridge the gap by enabling farmers to access market information without leaving their farms. And, frequent weather updates are also helping farmers plan ahead and make more informed decisions about planting their crops.

With the help of these resources, farmers in Dhading province are now supplying crops to the nearby Kathmandu Valley, where demand for their products is steadily growing.

Small-scale farmers produce 70 percent of the food consumed in the world today. But according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, by 2080, climate change could leave an additional 600 million people hungry. And a majority of those at risk are the world’s small-scale farmers. Improving the capacity of these farmers and strengthening resilience of local food systems is becoming more important than ever.

The CSIRC is doing just that – it is providing farmers with the valuable tools they need to avoid losses to changing weather, and raise crops that nourish their families and communities.

To learn more about building resilience to climate change and improving farmers’ access to inputs and information, see: Improving Water Access in India, One Drip at a Time, FAO Seed Distribution and the Biopiracy Controversy, Local Seeds to Meet Smallscale Farmers’, Everyone Plays a Role, Improving African Women’s Access to Agriculture Training Programs, Providing Seeds to Improve Food Security in Burkina Faso, Turning the Threat of Climate Change into an Opportunity to Build a More Sustainable Future, and Texting on the Farm: Mobile Technology Provides Farmers with Useful Information in India.

Connect with Nourishing the Planet on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Danielle Nierenberg, an expert on livestock and sustainability, currently serves as Project Director of State of World 2011 for the Worldwatch Institute (www.NourishingthePlanet.org), a Washington, DC-based environmental think tank. Her knowledge of factory farming and its global spread and sustainable agriculture has been cited widely in The New York Times Magazine, the International Herald Tribune, The Washington Post, and other publications. Danielle worked for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic and volunteers at farmers markets, the Earth Sangha (an urban reforestation organization), and Citizen Effect (an NGO focused on sustainable development projects all over the world). She has spent the last year traveling to more than 25 countries across sub-Saharan Africa looking at environmentally sustainable ways of alleviating hunger and poverty. She holds an M.S. in Agriculture, Food, and Environment from Tufts University and a B.A. in Environmental Policy from Monmouth College. Websites: www.worldwatch.org www.nourishingtheplanet.org Twitter: @worldwatchag
  Read Adapting to Climate Change through Improved Access to Seed and Information
 February 2, 2011   Catastrophic Weather Events Are Becoming the New Normal -- Are You Ready for Life on Our Planet Circa 2011?
Bill McKibben, AlterNet
For two decades now we've been ignoring the impassioned pleas of scientists that our burning of fossil fuels was a bad idea. And now we're paying a heavy price.

If you were in the space shuttle looking down yesterday, you would have seen a pair of truly awesome, even fearful, sights.

Much of North America was obscured by a 2,000-mile storm dumping vast quantities of snow from Texas to Maine--between the wind and snow, forecasters described it as "probably the worst snowstorm ever to affect" Chicago, and said waves as high as 25 feet were rocking buoys on Lake Michigan.

Meanwhile, along the shore of Queensland in Australia, the vast cyclone Yasi was sweeping ashore; though the storm hit at low tide, the country's weather service warned that "the impact is likely to be more life threatening than any experienced during recent generations," especially since its torrential rains are now falling on ground already flooded from earlier storms. Here's how Queensland premier Anna Bligh addressed her people before the storm hit: "We know that the long hours ahead of you are going to be the hardest that you face. We will be thinking of you every minute of every hour between now and daylight and we hope that you can feel our thoughts, that you will take strength from the fact that we are keeping you close and in our hearts."

Welcome to our planet, circa 2011--a planet that, like some unruly adolescent, has decided to test the boundaries. For two centuries now we've been burning coal and oil and gas and thus pouring carbon into the atmosphere; for two decades now we've been ignoring the increasingly impassioned pleas of scientists that this is a Bad Idea. And now we're getting pinched.

Oh, there have been snowstorms before, and cyclones--our planet has always produced extreme events. But by definition extreme events are supposed to be rare, and all of a sudden they're not. In 2010 nineteen nations set new all-time temperature records (itself a record!) and when the mercury hit 128 in early June along the Indus, the entire continent of Asia set a new all-time temperature mark. Russia caught on fire; Pakistan drowned. Munich Re, the biggest insurance company on earth, summed up the annus horribilis last month with this clinical phrase: "the high number of weather-related natural catastrophes and record temperatures both globally and in different regions of the world provide further indications of advancing climate change."

You don't need a PhD to understand what's happening. That carbon we've poured into the air traps more of the sun's heat near the planet. And that extra energy expresses itself in a thousand ways, from melting ice to powering storms. Since warm air can hold more water vapor than cold, it's not surprising that the atmosphere is 4% moister than it was 40 years ago. That "4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms," said Kevin Trenberth, head of the climate analysis section at the government's National Center for Atmospheric Research. It loads the dice for record rain and snow. Yesterday the Midwest and Queensland crapped out.

The point I'm trying to make is: chemistry and physics work. We don't just live in a suburb, or in a free-market democracy; we live on an earth that has certain rules. Physics and chemistry don't care what John Boehner thinks, they're unmoved by what will make Barack Obama's re-election easier. More carbon means more heat means more trouble--and the trouble has barely begun. So far we've raised the temperature of the planet about a degree, which has been enough to melt the Arctic. The consensus prediction for the century is that without dramatic action to stem the use of fossil fuel--far more quickly than is politically or economically convenient--we'll see temperatures climb five degrees this century. Given that one degree melts the Arctic, just how lucky are we feeling?

So far, of course, we haven't taken that dramatic action--just the opposite. The president didn't even mention global warming in his State of the Union address. He did promise some research into new technologies, which will help down the line--but we'll only be in a position to make use of it if we get started right now with the technology we've already got. And that requires, above all, putting a serious price on carbon. We use fossil fuel because it's cheap, and it's cheap because Exxon Mobil and Peabody Coal get to use the atmosphere as open sewer to dump their waste for free. And today you can see the results of that particular business model from outer space.

Overcoming that will require a movement--a movement that is slowly beginning to build. In 2008 a few of us started from scratch to build a campaign with an unlikely moniker: we called in 350.org, because a month earlier this particular planet's foremost climatologist, James Hansen, had declared that we now knew how much carbon in the atmosphere was too much. Any value higher than 350 parts per million, he said, was "not compatible with the planet on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted." That's troubling news, because right now the atmosphere above Chicago and Cairns and wherever you happen to be is about 390 ppm co2. In other words, too much.

At the time, some of our environmentalist friends said that science was too complicated for most people to get--that the only way to talk about these issues was to simplify them. But we thought people could understand, just as we understand when a doctor tells us our cholesterol is too high. We may not know everything about the lipid system, but we know what 'too high' means--it means we better change our diet, take our pill, lace up our sneakers. And indeed 350.org has now coordinated almost 15,000 demonstrations in 188 countries, what Foreign Policy magazine called 'the largest ever coordinated global rally" about any issue.

That's just a start, of course, and so far not enough to counter the power of the fossil fuel industry, the most profitable enterprise humans have ever engaged in. So we'll keep building, and hoping others will join us. But the good news is simple: more and more of this planet's inhabitants are remembering that they actually live on a planet.

We've been able to forget that fact for the last ten thousand years, the period of remarkable climatic stability that underwrote the rise of civilization. But we won't be able to forget it much longer. Days like yesterday will keep slapping us upside the head, until we take it in. The third rock from the sun is a very different place than it used to be.


Bill McKibben is founder of 350.org, the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, and author most recently of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.
  Read Catastrophic Weather Events Are Becoming the New Normal -- Are You Ready for Life on Our Planet Circa 2011?


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