"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Archive for March, 2017|Monthly archive page

Essay: I’m worried having a baby will make climate change worse

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2017 at 8:33 pm
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Sophie Lewis had trouble reconciling her concern for climate change with her desire to be a parent. Photo: Michael Clayton Jones

Oldspeak: You know how I can be fairly certain we’re proper fucked? Because, people are at this last stage in the show, still having this conversation. And this is no average joe having this conversation either, it’s a climate scientist!!! Who presumably knows that having a child ultimately adds about well over 10 thousand tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average parent – about 5.7 times the lifetime emissions for which, on average, a person is responsible. And she is having a child anyway. Not only that, but presumes, fueled by hopium no doubt, that the child will some how, “fix the problems set in motion by its parents and grandparents.” 0_O As if this is even fucking possible at this point. As if having a baby that will live out its natural life is likely to happen. As if this, Earth’s 6th mass extinction, is fixable on human time scales. Oye. I need a shot of what she’s having. Now, I don’t really begrudge people for having babies, since it doesn’t matter either way at this point, but I find it reeeeeallly irksome when people who presumably have an informed opinion on climate change pretend that having kids will some how fix things when it’s abundantly obvious that it won’t. I guess I shouldn’t be terribly surprised in this Post Fact Age. Sigh. Sadly, anthropocentric thinking of this variety is a large part of the reason we’re soooo done.” -OSJ

Written By Sophie Lewis @ The Sydney Morning Herald:

Part of my motivation for becoming a climate scientist was my grave worries for our future and my desire to make a positive contribution. In today’s world, this isn’t straightforward.

Earlier this year, I wrote publicly of my qualms around desiring children. I have always loved children and always wanted children in my own life. At the same time, among my friends and colleagues, such ordinary desires are increasingly accompanied by long, complex conversations about the ethics of such aspirations.

Children born today face a dramatically different climate future than their parents did.A child born today is a child of a changing – and extreme – global climate. The decision to have a child is a decision to exacerbate such climate extremes.

We collectively recycle, switch off lights, install LEDs and chose green energy providers. But such measures are more than negated by a decision to have children; having a child in Australia is an ongoing commitment to a high carbon future.

At the same time that I wrangled with the inter- and intra-generational consequence of having children, I also experienced years of infertility. Friends married, bought houses and announced surprise babies. All the while, my partner and I were consumed by tests, injections and surgeries, but mostly by unrelenting grief.

Over these years, I analysed climate data demonstrating an extreme future born of our global policy prevarication. Meanwhile, I was dragged into an undertow of crushing sadness, as miscarriage followed miscarriage and my connections to the world slipped further away from me.

Perhaps this was all for the best, I thought. After all, a child is irreconcilable with my professional dedication to remedying our global challenges.

And then, just as senselessly as our grief began, it ended. For no particular reason, the expected bad baby news never arrived and now the complexity of having an imagined child will become a concrete ethical entanglement.

Older climate scientists speak widely about their worries for their grandchildren and the world they have provided them. While such concerns must weigh on older minds, younger climate scientists’ future concerns require active deliberation. Should we have children? And if we do, how do we raise them in a world of change and inequity? Can I reconcile my care and concern for the future with such an active and deliberate pursuit of a child?

Put simply, I can’t. Nowadays, the pitter-patter of tiny feet is inevitably the pitter-patter of giant carbon footprints. Reusable nappies, a bike trailer and secondhand jumpsuits might make me feel like I’m taking individual action but they will achieve little. A child born today is inevitably a consumer and, most significantly, is a consumer of greenhouse gases.

Our much longed for child will both exacerbate climate change and will have to fix the problems set in motion by its parents and grandparents. In essence, this burden is the choice I have made for my child.

Having made the decision to multiple my own carbon footprint in perpetuity and to inflict an extreme climate future on my daughter, the question becomes – what now?

Living in and starting a family in volatile and uncertain times are not unique experiences. My grandmother fled Europe in the early 1950s for a better life in Australia. A German Jew, her family had been scattered, with herself interned in Britain, her sister lost in Auschwitz and her family’s desperate flight rebuffed by an indifferent world. Years of horror, combined with strict rations and economic uncertainty drove her to strike out bravely for a new life in Australia with her young babies.

Climate change is a critically different problem. In my grandmother’s time of abject horror, good people were empowered – to varying degrees – to do good. After the war ended, the actions of just a few were recognised as having salvaged the honour of all our humanity. Nowadays, the very act of living in Australia, regardless of concern for our climate future, is detrimental.

I do not pretend my motivation for having children was anything other than entirely selfish, but I hope the consequences are not. Just as in my grandmother’s time when horror was countered by hope, the obverse of our climate challenge is opportunity. I hope today’s children, born of a complex admixture of anxiety, guilt and fear, but all the while fiercely desired, can do better than their parents did. I hope they can be more empathetic, more creative and more responsive than we have been.

As for myself, my work thoughts should be punctured by worry. By senseless luck, my forthcoming daughter will have the opportunity to thrive in a warming world. Many, such as the children of our Pacific Island neighbours, will not. This should prompt more sadness, not less.

Nonetheless, in recognising the sadness of our near neighbours, I also feel compelled to recognise the beauty and opportunity of my own life. Despite my uncomfortable internal conflicts, the impending arrival of a much-wanted baby is intensely joyful.

Study: “Global warming triggered by the massive release of carbon dioxide may be catastrophic, but the release of methane from hydrate may be apocalyptic.”

In Uncategorized on March 25, 2017 at 8:02 pm
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On a lake, plumes of gas, most likely methane from the breakdown of carbon in sediments below the lake, keep the water from freezing in spots, outside Fairbanks, Alaska, October 21, 2011. As the Arctic warms, the threat of abrupt methane releases is rising, too. (Photo: Josh Haner / The New York Times)

Oldspeak: “The study, titled “Methane Hydrate: Killer Cause of Earth’s Greatest Mass Extinction,” highlights the fact that the most significant variable in the Permian Mass Extinction event, which occurred 250 million years ago and annihilated 90 percent of all the species on the planet, was methane hydrate.

In the wake of that mass extinction event, less than 5 percent of the animal species in the seas lived, and less than one-third of the large land animal species made it. Nearly all the trees died….

The scenario that humans have created by way of the industrial growth society is already mimicking these eventualities, which are certain to worsen….

As the global CO2 concentration continues to climb each year, the threat of even more abrupt methane additions continues to escalate along with it….

Scientists have been warning us for a number of years about the dire consequences of methane hydrates in the Arctic, and how the methane being released poses a potentially disastrous threat to the planet. -Dahr Jamail

“The Methane Time Bomb is still ticking. It won’t stop ticking until it goes boom. Each additional gigaton of anthropogenic and naturally produced  CO2 and CH4 emitted into the atmosphere makes it more likely that this life extinguishing bomb will detonate sooner than later. And, it could happen at any time. Meanwhile, trending now on Yahoo…

Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick…..” -OSJ

 

Written By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

A scientific study published in the prestigious journal Palaeoworld in December issued a dire — and possibly prophetic — warning, though it garnered little attention in the media.

“Global warming triggered by the massive release of carbon dioxide may be catastrophic,” reads the study’s abstract. “But the release of methane from hydrate may be apocalyptic.”

The study, titled “Methane Hydrate: Killer Cause of Earth’s Greatest Mass Extinction,” highlights the fact that the most significant variable in the Permian Mass Extinction event, which occurred 250 million years ago and annihilated 90 percent of all the species on the planet, was methane hydrate.

In the wake of that mass extinction event, less than 5 percent of the animal species in the seas lived, and less than one-third of the large land animal species made it. Nearly all the trees died.

Methane hydrate, according to the US Office of Fossil Energy, “is a cage-like lattice of ice inside of which are trapped molecules of methane, the chief constituent of natural gas.”

While there is not a scientific consensus around the cause of the Permian Mass Extinction, it is widely believed that massive volcanism along the Siberian Traps in Russia led to tremendous amounts of CO2 being added to the atmosphere. This then created enough warming to cause the sudden release of methane from the Arctic sea floor, which kicked off a runaway greenhouse effect that led to sea-level increase, de-oxygenation, major oceanic circulation shifts and increased acidification of the oceans, as well as worldwide aridity on land.

The scenario that humans have created by way of the industrial growth society is already mimicking these eventualities, which are certain to worsen.

“The end Permian holds an important lesson for humanity regarding the issue it faces today with greenhouse gas emissions, global warming, and climate change,” the abstract of the recent study concludes.

As the global CO2 concentration continues to climb each year, the threat of even more abrupt methane additions continues to escalate along with it.

The Methane Time Bomb

The methane hydrate situation has, for years now, been referred to as the Arctic Methane Time Bomb, and as been studied intensely.

A 2010 scientific analysis led by the UK’s Met Office, published in the journal Review of Geophysics, states clearly that the time scale for the release of methane in the Arctic would be “much shorter for hydrates below shallow waters, such as in the Arctic Ocean,” adding that “significant increases in methane emissions are likely, and catastrophic emissions cannot be ruled out.… The risk of rapid increase in [methane] emissions is real.”

A 2011 study of the Eastern Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS), conducted by more than 20 Arctic experts and published in the Proceedings of the Russian Academy of Sciences, concluded that the shelf was already a powerful supplier of methane to the atmosphere. The conclusion of this study stated that the methane concentration in the atmosphere was at levels capable of causing “a considerable and even catastrophic warming on the Earth.”

Scientists have been warning us for a number of years about the dire consequences of methane hydrates in the Arctic, and how the methane being released poses a potentially disastrous threat to the planet. There has even been a study showing that methane released in the Arctic could trigger “catastrophic climate change” that would cost the global economy $60 trillion.

Of course, that level of planetary heating would likely extinguish most life on the planet, so whatever the economic costs might be would be irrelevant.

“Highly Possible at Any Time”

The ESAS is the largest ice shelf in the world, encompassing more than 2 million square kilometers, or 8 percent of the world’s total area of continental shelf.

In 2015, Truthout spoke with Natalia Shakhova, a research associate professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks’ International Arctic Research Center, about the ESAS’s methane emissions.

“These emissions are prone to be non-gradual (massive, abrupt) for a variety of reasons,” she told Truthout. “The main reason is that the nature of major processes associated with methane releases from subsea permafrost is non-gradual.”

Shakhova warned that a 50-gigaton — that is, 50-billion-ton — “burp” of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the ESAS is “highly possible at any time.”

This, Shakhova said, means that methane releases from decaying frozen hydrates could result in emission rates that “could change in order of magnitude in a matter of minutes,” and that there would be nothing “smooth, gradual or controlled” about it. She described it as a “kind of a release [that] is like the unsealing of an over-pressurized pipeline.”

In other words, we could be looking at non-linear releases of methane in amounts that are difficult to fathom.

A study published in the prestigious journal Nature in July 2013 confirmed what Shakhova had been warning us about for years: A 50-gigaton “burp” of methane from thawing Arctic permafrost beneath the East Siberian sea is highly possible.

Such a “burp” would be the equivalent of at least 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide. (For perspective, humans have released approximately 1,475 gigatons in total carbon dioxide since the year 1850.)

The UK’s Met Office considers the 50-gigaton release “plausible,” and in a paper on the subject added, “That may cause ∼12-times increase of modern atmospheric methane burden, with consequent catastrophic greenhouse warming.”

 

WMO Scientist: “We are seeing remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system. We are now in truly uncharted territory.”

In Uncategorized on March 22, 2017 at 6:40 pm

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Oldspeak: “Sobering news, released in time for World Meteorological Day. Temperature records continue to fall worldwide. Sea levels rising, sea ice melting, the oceans have absorbed more heat than previously thought, extreme weather persisting, Global Weirding is getting weirder. Climate conditions have entered uncharted territory are straining scientists limits of understanding the climate system. Also, scientists are observing more extreme and unusual climactic trends continuing in 2017. We’re off the map now. Will likely be quite an unpredictable and harrowing journey from here on out.” -OSJ

Written By The World Meteorological Organization:

The year 2016 made history, with a record global temperature, exceptionally low sea ice, and unabated sea level rise and ocean heat, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Extreme weather and climate conditions have continued into 2017.

WMO issued its annual statement on the State of the Global Climate ahead of World Meteorological Day on 23 March. It is based on multiple international datasets maintained independently by global climate analysis centres and information submitted by dozens of WMO Members National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and Research Institutes and is an authoritative source of reference. Because the social and economic impacts of climate change have become so important, WMO partnered with other United Nations organizations for the first time this year to include information on these impacts.

“This report confirms that the year 2016 was the warmest on record – a remarkable 1.1 °C above the pre-industrial period, which is 0.06 °C above the previous record set in 2015. This increase in global temperature is consistent with other changes occurring in the climate system,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

“Globally averaged sea surface temperatures were also the warmest on record, global sea levels continued to rise, and Arctic sea-ice extent was well below average for most of the year,” he said.

“With levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere consistently breaking new records, the influence of human activities on the climate system has become more and more evident,” said Mr Taalas.

The increased power of computing tools and the availability of long term climate data have made it possible today, through attribution studies, to demonstrate clearly the existence of links between man-made climate change and many cases of high impact extreme events in particular heatwaves, he said

Each of the 16 years since 2001 has been at least 0.4 °C above the long-term average for the 1961-1990 base period, used by WMO as a reference for climate change monitoring. Global temperatures continue to be consistent with a warming trend of 0.1 °C to 0.2 °C per decade, according to the WMO report.

The powerful 2015/2016 El Niño event boosted warming in 2016, on top of  long-term climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Temperatures in strong El Niño years, such as 1973, 1983 and 1998, are typically 0.1 °C to 0.2 °C warmer than background levels, and 2016’s temperatures are consistent with that pattern.

Global sea levels rose very strongly during the El Niño event, with the early 2016 values reaching new record highs.  Global sea ice extent dropped more than 4 million square kilometres below average in November, an unprecedented anomaly for that month.

The very warm ocean temperatures contributed to significant coral bleaching and mortality was reported in many tropical waters, with important impacts on marine food chains, ecosystems and fisheries.

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reached the symbolic benchmark of 400 parts per millions in 2015 – the latest year for which WMO global figures are available – and will not fall below that level for many generations to come because of the long-lasting nature of CO2.

Noteworthy extreme events in 2016 included severe droughts that brought food insecurity to millions in southern and eastern Africa and Central America. Hurricane Matthew caused widespread suffering in Haiti as the first category 4 storm to make landfall since 1963, and inflicted significant economic losses in the United States of America, while heavy rains and floods affected eastern and southern Asia.

WMO has issued annual climate reports for more than 20 years and submits them  to the Conference of the Parties of the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The annual statements complement the assessments reports that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produces every six to seven years.

It will be presented to UN member states and climate experts at a high-level action event on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda  in New York on 23 March (World Meteorological Day) hosted by the President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson.

“The entry into force of the Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 4 November 2016 represents a historic landmark. It is vital that its implementation becomes a reality and that the Agreement guides the global community in addressing climate change by curbing greenhouse gases, fostering climate resilience and mainstreaming climate adaptation into national development policies,” said Mr Taalas.

“Continued investment in climate research and observations is vital if our scientific knowledge is to keep pace with the rapid rate of climate change,” said Mr Taalas.

Extremes continue in 2017

Newly released studies, which are not included in WMO’s report, indicate that ocean heat content may have increased even more than previously reported.  Provisional data also indicates that there has been no easing in the rate of increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.

“Even without a strong El Niño in 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system. We are now in truly uncharted territory,” said World Climate Research Programme Director David Carlson.

At least three times so far this winter, the Arctic has witnessed the Polar equivalent of a heatwave, with powerful Atlantic storms driving an influx of warm, moist air. This meant that at the height of the Arctic winter and the sea ice refreezing period, there were days which were actually close to melting point. Antarctic sea ice has also been at a record low, in contrast to the trend in recent years.

Scientific research indicates that changes in the Arctic and melting sea ice is leading to a shift in wider oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns. This is affecting weather in other parts of the world because of waves in the jet stream – the fast moving band of air which helps regulate temperatures.

Thus, some areas, including Canada and much of the USA, were unusually balmy, whilst others, including parts of the Arabian peninsula and North Africa, were unusually cold in early 2017.

In the USA alone, 11,743 warm temperature records were broken or tied in February, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Prolonged and extreme heat in January and February  affected New South Wales, southern Queensland, South Australia and northern Victoria, and saw many new temperature records.

Notes to Editors

Global temperatures in this Statement are reported using the mean of the latest versions of the three datasets: GISTEMP, NOAAGlobalTemp and HadCRUT maintained respectively  by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US National Air and Space Administration (NASA), and the Met Office Hadley Centre in collaboration with the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit, United Kingdom. The combined dataset extends back to 1880. In addition  ERA-Interim reanalysis of the European Center for Medium Weather Forecasting was also used in the assessment.

The statement also uses information on climate impacts provided by the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),  the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and  the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium.

At the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC session in Marrakesh in 2016, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA) welcomed the submissions from WMO: the Global Climate in 2011-2015 and the WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. It invited WMO to provide submissions on the state of the global climate on a regular basis, as appropriate, at subsequent SBSTA sessions.

Other highlights of the 2016 Statement

Global Temperatures:

2016’s warmth extended almost worldwide. Temperatures were above the 1961-90 average over the vast majority of the world’s land areas, the only significant exceptions being an area of South America centred on central Argentina, and parts of south-western Australia.

Mean annual temperatures at least 3 °C above the 1961-1990 average occurred in various high-latitude locations, particularly along the Russian coast and in Alaska and far north-western Canada, and on islands in the Barents and Norwegian Seas. In the high Arctic, Svalbard (Norway) Airport’s 2016 mean annual temperature of −0.1 °C was 6.5 °C above the 1961-1990 average, and 1.6 °C above the previous record.

Outside the Arctic, 2016’s warmth was more notable for its consistency across the globe than for its extreme nature in individual locations.

Oceans

Globally averaged sea surface temperatures in 2016 were the warmest on record. The anomalies were strongest in the early months of 2016.

Global ocean heat content was the second-highest on record after 2015. It reached new record highs in the northern hemisphere, but was cooler in the southern hemisphere.

Globally, sea level has risen by 20 cm since the start of the twentieth century, mostly due to thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of glaciers and ice caps. Global sea levels rose very strongly during the 2015/2016 El Niño, rising about 15 millimetres between November 2014 to a new record high in February 2016. This was well above the post-1993 trend of 3 to 3.5 mm per year. From February to August, sea levels remained fairly stable as the influence of the El Niño declined. Final 2016 sea level data are not yet available at the time of writing.

Arctic sea ice

The seasonal maximum, of 14.52 million square kilometres on 24 March, was the lowest in the 1979-2016 satellite record. The 2016 autumn freeze-up was exceptionally slow – with sea ice extent even contracting for a few days in mid-November.

Precipitation

Much of southern Africa began the year in severe drought. For the second year in succession, rainfall was widely 20 to 60% below average for the summer rainy season (October to April) in 2015/2016. The World Food Programme estimating that 18.2 million people would require emergency assistance by early 2017.

Provisional figures showed 2016 was the driest on record over the Amazon Basin, and there was also significant drought in north-east Brazil.  El Niño brought drought conditions elsewhere in Central America and northern South America.

The Yangtze basin in China experienced, overall, its most significant flood season since 1999, with some tributaries experiencing record flood levels. Averaged over China as a whole, it was the wettest year on record, with national mean rainfall of 730 mm being 16% above the long-term average.

Heatwaves

The year started with an extreme heatwave in southern Africa in the first week of January. On 7 January, it reached 42.7 °C at Pretoria and 38.9 °C at Johannesburg, both of which were 3 °C or more above the all-time records at those sites.

Extreme heat also affected South and South-East Asia in April and May, prior to the start of the summer monsoon. South-East Asia was badly affected in April. A national record of 44.6 °C was set at Mae Hong Son, Thailand, on 28 April, and 51.0 °C was observed on 19 May at Phalodi, the highest temperature on record for India.

Record or near-record temperatures occurred in parts of the Middle East and north Africa. The highest temperature observed was 54.0 °C at Mitribah (Kuwait) on 21 July which (subject to ratification) will be the highest temperature on record for Asia. Other extremely high temperatures included 53.9 °C at Basra (Iraq) and 53.0 °C at Delhoran (Islamic Republic of Iran – a national record), both on 22 July, whilst significant high temperatures were also reported in Morocco, Tunisia, Libya and the United Arab Emirates.

A late-season heatwave affected many parts of western and central Europe in the first half of September. In southern Spain, 45.4 °C was recorded at Cordoba on 6 September.

The WMO Statement on the State of the Climate in 2016 is available here:

—————————————————————————

The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nations System’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water

WMO website: public.wmo.int

For more information, please contact:  Clare Nullis, Press Officer, Communications and Public Affairs,

Tel: +41 22 730 8478 or +41 79 709 13 97 (cell), e‑mail: cnullis@wmo.int.

 

Don’t Get Distracted: The Reality Of Extinction Must Trump The Sideshow

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2017 at 4:22 pm

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Oldspeak: “As we fix our collective and terrified gaze on the (dangerous) antics of a canny bully and his gang, more and more evidence emerges to suggest that no matter what they do, what any of us do, our species’ time on this planet is rapidly drawing to a close. Certainly that which we term ‘civilization’ is well into its final act.  Trump and his cronies are an engine that will vastly accelerate this near inevitability, but the greater decimation is not of his making.

Very few of us would like to look in this direction, to consider the increasing probability, for instance, that most of the children born this year may not make it to middle-age, quite possibly not even to adulthood.  Even in first world countries. Even in the upper economic echelons of first world countries. This reality—as opposed to the surreality emerging from the White House– appears to offer so little to work with, to engage with, to, well…DO.  As humans, most of us like to DO, and we like to find ways to feel valid and hopeful and good about our lives.  It isn’t always easy and the specter of repeatedly chosen self-destruction looms darkly right now, acknowledged or not. Survival fears, well-founded ones that currently spark in a panoply of flavors, drive many of us, intent upon finding comfort, into unconsciousness, denial, frantic action.

Joining with others—virtually or in person—who share righteous outrage at violations of decency and morality and law—this can alleviate the sense of helplessness.  Being angry, being right, being in solidarity are all energizing anodynes for despair and disempowerment.  A case could be put that the Women’s Marches in January made very prominent important points of view that oppose the administration’s. Which is something. But did all those pussy hats, did the speeches and the songs and huge numbers of human beings in the streets accomplish anything concrete?  Did anyone on Wall Street quake?  Even a little? Did the leadership of the infamous 17 intelligence agencies feel more inclined to act lawfully afterward?  Did the administration think twice about its intention to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement?  (This latter being much too little, much too late, and yet we hold fast to the tiny strands, hoping that we can turn this raft around before that roaring ahead reveals itself to be the Niagara, falling.)  We all suspect strongly that the answers are consistently in the negative. The impact of protest and civil disobedience hinges heavily upon a state’s capacity for shame, on it’s having a conscience. Neither of those are much in evidence these days.” –Elizabeth West

“I get it. When an entire society, and I would argue the vast majority of modern human civilization is struggling with the effects of chronic complex post traumatic stress disorder, and acute survival sickness, it can be very difficult to cope with and process beyond human scale traumatic realities. But at some point, it has to sink in that what is, Is. That there is nothing to be done about it. That there is no way to fix it. That marching around, getting all worked up about what kleptocrats do and don’t do, “climate negotiators” signing international treaties have next to zero effect on the sociopathic transnational kleptocracy, without conscience, shame or morality that mediates our existence in the current set of living arrangements. At some point, we have to look beyond the distractions of this “spectacle of incoherence” and get better acquainted with the desert of the real. Civilization is probably in its final act.  We have to start coming to grips with that. And in the words of  Ms West; “…seize the day.  Be who you are here to be.  Be who you want to be.  Don’t hold back and don’t wait.  Fight for what you believe in, but don’t forget to live fully, unfurled, as yourself. Word. The Matrix cannot tell you who you are. :-)”-OSJ

Written By Elizabeth West @ Counterpunch:

In this post-truth era, when the splashy surreal stands in for the real, it pays to be extremely vigilant about where our attention gets focused. It is understandable that we become snagged on the unfathomable. How can one fathom that which is beyond belief?  Our poor brains just cannot wrap themselves around the garbage that is being offered up as reality, as reasonable human conduct, or god forbid, as governance. And how can we avoid returning to look at the wreckage, to try again and again to grasp the insanity and the absurdity, to ask how this came to pass?  It is compelling—in the manner of a fiery highway crash– and with the help of the media, we can spend vast amounts of time and energy, mesmerized in disbelief and horror, focused on Donald Trump.  Is there a more perfect definition of armchair hell? And if by chance we drop into our hearts, there is no question that the circus feeds pain and dread there, increasing the urgency of our attentions and the levels of our anxieties.

I have absolutely no doubt that the Trump administration and their lackeys in Congress will cause unimaginable suffering for individuals all over the planet, even as they blow up the still-standing ruins of American democracy. This goes almost without saying, but I say it none-the-less for foundational purposes, to acknowledge the terrible significance of the real actions/inactions being underwritten by our current government.

But friends, this is a sideshow. A riveting one to be sure, replete with drama, true trauma, tragedy and comedy, but a side-show all the same, run by a carnival barker who knows well how to keep us turning his way.

As we fix our collective and terrified gaze on the (dangerous) antics of a canny bully and his gang, more and more evidence emerges to suggest that no matter what they do, what any of us do, our species’ time on this planet is rapidly drawing to a close. Certainly that which we term ‘civilization’ is well into its final act.  Trump and his cronies are an engine that will vastly accelerate this near inevitability, but the greater decimation is not of his making.

Very few of us would like to look in this direction, to consider the increasing probability, for instance, that most of the children born this year may not make it to middle-age, quite possibly not even to adulthood.  Even in first world countries. Even in the upper economic echelons of first world countries. This reality—as opposed to the surreality emerging from the White House– appears to offer so little to work with, to engage with, to, well…DO.  As humans, most of us like to DO, and we like to find ways to feel valid and hopeful and good about our lives.  It isn’t always easy and the specter of repeatedly chosen self-destruction looms darkly right now, acknowledged or not. Survival fears, well-founded ones that currently spark in a panoply of flavors, drive many of us, intent upon finding comfort, into unconsciousness, denial, frantic action.

Joining with others—virtually or in person—who share righteous outrage at violations of decency and morality and law—this can alleviate the sense of helplessness.  Being angry, being right, being in solidarity are all energizing anodynes for despair and disempowerment.  A case could be put that the Women’s Marches in January made very prominent important points of view that oppose the administration’s. Which is something. But did all those pussy hats, did the speeches and the songs and huge numbers of human beings in the streets accomplish anything concrete?  Did anyone on Wall Street quake?  Even a little? Did the leadership of the infamous 17 intelligence agencies feel more inclined to act lawfully afterward?  Did the administration think twice about its intention to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement?  (This latter being much too little, much too late, and yet we hold fast to the tiny strands, hoping that we can turn this raft around before that roaring ahead reveals itself to be the Niagara, falling.)  We all suspect strongly that the answers are consistently in the negative. The impact of protest and civil disobedience hinges heavily upon a state’s capacity for shame, on it’s having a conscience. Neither of those are much in evidence these days. Let’s not forget that 30-some million people out on the streets worldwide in early 2003 didn’t manage to slow down the rollout of Shock and Awe at all.

But what if we ask another set of questions, having to do with the hearts and minds of those who participated and those who couldn’t but would have liked to? Then we see the value of coming together and coming out to state in positive ways who we are and what we believe. We embolden and affirm one another. And perhaps—perhaps– someone with a bit of power is moved in ways we cannot and will never see.  Maybe the airport demonstrations actually created enough ‘drag’ to delay the zealots for a few weeks, weeks that meant the world to a number of individuals.

So, activism is worthwhile. We can make our passions known through public displays, we can organize locally to make change in that arena, we can write and make movies and record songs all to disseminate the truth, we can choose differently about what and how we consume, or drive, or educate our children.  We can direct our resources to support what we believe.

Each of us is responsible for considering how we contribute to or diminish the common good, for knowing and living up to our own capacities in this regard.  You know what you can do, and you also know what can’t do.  You also know—for yourself– what alleviates the feelings of panic and rage, and what leaves you feeling hopeless and despairing.

Which brings me back to the likelihood that we are now in the midst of the Grand Finale.  Why would anyone want to think about the prospect that we are rapidly approaching our own self-orchestrated extinction event? Too late to alter outcomes, we may see but two choices: helpless contemplation of a bleak and dystopian future that ends in rubble, or taking a smidgeon of control and tuning it all out, changing the station, and maybe even revving up a little over the ‘All Trump All The Time’ news.  It seems pretty simple.  If there is nothing to be done, then why make ourselves sick and sad and depressed over that which can’t be changed?  And there is no denying that there are sideshows aplenty to divert us if we are so inclined.  Maybe we can even DO something about the social and civil disasters.

Imagine this: you are in a hospital bed recovering from major surgery.  You are starting to remember who you are and why you are here and what is at stake.  The pain is pretty bad, but you can manage it if you keep downing narcotics, if the healing continues apace, if you can get back to your real life soon. The doctor arrives to check on you.  She appears to be kind and encouraging and competent, and yet you can read the bad news on her face before she speaks. When she does, she tells you that the pathology was not good, that short of keeping you ‘comfortable,’ there is little more that medicine has to offer.

How could this be?  Just a few weeks ago, all was well and you were looking forward to a new trajectory in your life.  Maybe a grandchild, maybe a grand opus, maybe a love just beginning.  But here you are: in bed, suffering, having just received the diagnosis: you are terminal.

So what do you want to do?  Are there things you don’t want to leave this life not having done?  Or been?  Books to read?  Conversations to have?  Amends to make?  Places to see?  Habits to break?  Things to learn?  Truths to tell? Do you want to find peace?  Forgive yourself or someone else?  Do you want to let go of fear?  Do you want to love with all your heart?

If you wish to make the most of the time that remains, you need to live with death on your left shoulder, as many shamanic traditions advise.  You must not put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Time is precious if you have limited quantities of it and you have living left to do.  When we reach this juncture, as most of us will, some will ramp up the fight to live, others will wander lost in sorrow. Some of us will use all of our energy to uphold the scaffolding of denial and still others will spend their final weeks or months in anger and regret.  When we are facing almost certain death, the options are limited.  It is, after all, a fundamental loss of control.  But we can choose how we live while we are alive. That may be all that is left to us.

You will see where I am going with this. As a species, Homo sapiens could well be on its last upright legs.  That means you.  It means me. It means our beloved children and everyone we hold dear. And it is quite likely that another round of chemo (e.g., the Paris Agreement) will forestall the inevitable only slightly.

This is heartbreaking, a virtual definition of tragedy.  It didn’t have to be this way, and yet something (the fatal flaw?) has brought us as a species to this pass.  (I leave aside for the moment all the other species we have carelessly dragged down with or ahead of us.)  Serious scientists and thinkers are writing in increasing numbers that we need to consider the possibility our children will not live out their ‘natural’ lives.  Google human extinction (57 million hits in .66 second), or try the search feature on CounterPunch for substantive reporting on our prospects.

It is almost too grievous to look at full on.  But if we fail to do so, we may lose the impetus to live our lives as truly and as gloriously and as deeply as is possible.  You may want to spend some of the last part of your life watching everything Fred Astaire ever danced, or you might want to read Nietzsche at last, or you could have a passion to swim with the dolphins (if they consent).  Maybe it is your longing to stand in front of an IDF (or American) tank in the purest affirmation of human empathy and courage you can muster, or perhaps have always felt poetry rising within but never committed those jewels to paper.  Whatever it is—know it.  And then, do it.  Live it.  Feel it.  Be it.  We are all in that hospital bed, whether we allow ourselves to feel the truth of it or not.  Miracles do happen and there is no need to be defeated.  But as is often said, we have only this moment.  Trite, but never truer.

So I joyfully suggest that we seize the day.  Be who you are here to be.  Be who you want to be.  Don’t hold back and don’t wait.  Fight for what you believe in, but don’t forget to live fully, unfurled, as yourself.  There may be no one in the future to look back and remember or celebrate us, but we do have this time, precious time to be-here-now, to share our love, our wisdom, our gifts; to rejoice in the many and gorgeous offerings of other humans, the scent of apple blossoms on the evening breeze, geese honking as they wing overhead. Despite what might be a fatal flaw, we are an extraordinary, profoundly beautiful invention.  A failure to endure forever need not diminish that reality. So let’s live our humanness all the way, while we can, while we are here.  And please, don’t let anyone, no matter how surreal, no matter how mad, rob you of the right to make that choice.

————————————————————————-

Elizabeth West lives, writes and strives to find beauty and joy less than half a mile from the Chevron refinery in Richmond CA. She can be reached at elizabethwest@sonic.net.

UN: ‘People will starve to death’ Tens Of Millions Face Starvation & Famine As Civilization Sees Largest Humanitarian Crisis Since WWII

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2017 at 7:11 pm
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Children at a camp for displaced people in Dharawan in Yemen Reuters

Oldspeak: “Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Ignore all the hand wringing,  heartfelt pleas for an end to the conflicts, and assertions that only political solutions will “ultimately end human suffering and bring stability to the region“. There will be no such “solutions” forthcoming  Africa was officially consigned to this death sentence back in 2009. When…

One of the most inspiring leaders present at the COP15 was the ever so eloquent Lumumba Di-Aping, chief negotiator of the G77. (The G77 bloc is the major group of developing countries, many of which are among the most threatened by effects of climate change, as well as the largest developing country bloc represented at the COP15.) Although Di-Aping was Sudanese by birth, his parents (who called themselves “Lumumbist”) named Di-Aping after the famous Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba. (Lumumba, the anti-colonialist democratically-elected prime minister of the Congo, was assassinated in 1960 having been deemed a severe threat by the U.S. due to his uncompromising ideas of freedom and African unity. He played a leading role in the struggle for the liberation of Africa and all of Africa’s resources.)

At the historic press conference which took place on November 11, 2009 in Copenhagen, Di-Aping addressed the international NGO community. The conference room was packed with representatives of the non-profit industrial complex and corporate media complex, which includes the so-called progressive media. In a most direct approach, Di-Aping asked NGOs to support the demand that developed countries cut emissions 52% by 2017; 65% by 2020; and 80% by 2030 (based on a 1990 baseline). Further, Di-Aping asked the NGOs to demand GHG emission cuts well above 100% by 2050, which would (perhaps) keep the global temperature from exceeding a rise of no more than 1.5ºC. These targets, if met, would perhaps allow Africa to merely stay alive.

A 2ºC rise in global temperature, which the non-profit industrial complex campaigned upon, would mean a 3.5ºC rise for Africa. This temperature is certain death for the African peoples – certain death for billions. In addition, a 2ºC global temperature rise guarantees a minimum 4ºC+ global temperature for future generations. In the film footage provided below, one bears witness to Di-Aping speaking directly to the Climate Action Network (International) representatives.

The Non Profit Industrial Complex Exposed

One must note the disturbing irony. After the press conference was finished, a standing ovation erupted. The room shook with an audience both inspired and enraptured. Depending on one’s depth of understanding of foundations, corporate power structures and the non-profit industrial complex, one may or may not be surprised at what happened afterwards, which was, quite simply, nothing. The white ivory towers, ever so acquiescent to their hegemonic rulers, wrote off the African people by continuing their “demand” for “a fair, ambitious, binding agreement.” In other words: “Sorry about your bad luck, Africa. Enjoy your future of hell on Earth … and fuck you.”

The non-profit industrial complex, with CAN and TckTckTck at the forefront, stuck to their 2ºC and other suicidal (non)targets. The climate justice groups dared on occasion to demand that temperatures not exceed 1.5ºC, while any discussion demanding that 1ºC be supported and campaigned upon sent this faction, too, running scared like frightened field mice. Climate justice amounted to nothing more than a branded trademark. Silence and compliance reigned as the champagne circuit discussed career options over cocktails.

Below are excerpts from the only transcript that exists.

 “The second issue is the issue of reductions of emissions. There must be radical reductions of emissions starting from now. In our view, by 2017 we should cut, developed countries must cut by 52%, 65% by 2020, 80% by 2030, well above 100 [percent] by 2050. And this is very important because the more you defer action the more you condemn millions of people to immeasurable suffering. So the idea that you start from 4% today and you achieve 80 or 50 in 2050 simply means that you do not care about the lives of those who will be devastated in this period, until you pick up the pace.

“… and I will say this to our colleagues from Western civil society — you have definitely sided with a small group of industrialists and their representatives and your representative branches. Nothing more than that. You have become an instrument of your governments. Whatever you say, whether you think it’s because it’s tactically shrewd or not, it’s an error that you should not continue to make.”

“So ask yourself, are your executive branches climate skeptics, notwithstanding their addresses like the prime minister of the UK that the cost of inaction on climate change is irreparable. His actions say he’s worse than the worst of climate skeptics. If he had asked bankers to pocket 300 billion dollars because of ‘incentivizing’ profit-seeking activities and he says 500 million is the maximum that the United Kingdom government can afford to pay to support climate change, what are we saying? What are you saying? I wonder what the distinguished colleagues from CAN are saying about that.”

“Many of you equally, and I will say this, and I would have never thought that one day I will accuse a civil society of such a thing. Dividing the G77, or helping divide the G77, is simply something that should be left to the CIAs, the KGBs and the rest [not the NGOs].”

“It’s mind boggling, and I say this having been the beneficiary of absolute support from civil society. Many of you may not know this, I come from southern Sudan. We’ve been through wars for almost 90% of our lives since independence, so I’m not sure what happened exactly to the civil society that I do know or at least knew.”

“If you have received help that enabled you to rebuild your economies and to become prosperous, how come suddenly you have turned mean? Because that 2.5 billion dollars is definitely what some of the big western industrialists lose without a sleep over a trade [lose over a trade without losing any sleep].” –Cory Morningstar

“SO.  Get used to the unfolding disaster coverage coming of out of Africa. Expect it to increase. There will be no political solutions as long as the current set of living arrangements exist. Despite urgent pleas back in 2009 to have developed countries cut emissions by 52% by 2017, humans global carbon emissions have increased atmospheric carbon levels to its current high of 406.46. ppm.  It’s not going down anytime soon.  This reality continues a long  history of intentional underdevelopment and overexploitation of Africa at her own expense. This is the continent from whence we came, and this is how it’s regarded – an externality to be condemned to death. As an aside, the U.S., easily the biggest weapons dealer on Earth, is bombing or has a military presence operating in Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, and South Sudan. Probably impacting the humanitarian situation in the epicenter of this crisis a bit. Yet, hyperconsumption continues apace. Population continues to grow. Business as usual emissions scenarios become more probable with each passing day. Further ensuring Africa’s death sentence. As a consequence of these and many other factors, Africa is likely to continue to get very hot and very dry, very fast. And that equals a death sentence for a lot of people. Throwing money at this predicament won’t stop it.” –OSJ

Written By Edith M. Lederer @ U.K. Independent:

The world faces the largest humanitarian crisis since the UN was founded in 1945, with more than 20 million people in four countries facing starvation and famine, the UN humanitarian chief has said.

Stephen O’Brien told the UN Security Council that “without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death” and “many more will suffer and die from disease.”

He urged an immediate injection of funds for Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and northeast Nigeria, plus safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid “to avert a catastrophe.”

“To be precise,” O’Brien said, “we need $4.4 billion (£3.6bn) by July.”

Without a major infusion of money, he said, children will be stunted by severe malnutrition and won’t be able to go to school, gains in economic development will be reversed and “livelihoods, futures and hope will be lost.”

UN and food organisations define famine as when more than 30 per cent of children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition, and mortality rates are two or more deaths per 10,000 people every day, among other criteria.

“Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations,” O’Brien said. “Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine.”

O’Brien said the largest humanitarian crisis is in Yemen, where two thirds of the population – 18.8 million people – need aid and more than seven million people are hungry and don’t know where their next meal will come from. “That is three million people more than in January,” he added.

The Arab world’s poorest nation is engulfed in conflict and O’Brien said more than 48,000 people fled fighting in the past two months alone.

During his recent visit to Yemen, O’Brien said he met senior leaders of the government and the Shia Houthi rebels who control the capital Sanaa and all promised access for aid.

“Yet all parties to the conflict are arbitrarily denying sustained humanitarian access and politicise aid,” he said, warning if that behaviour doesn’t change now “they must be held accountable for the inevitable famine, unnecessary deaths and associated amplification in suffering that will follow.”

For 2017, O’Brien said $2.1 billion (£1.7bn) is needed to reach 12 million Yemenis “with life-saving assistance and protection” but only 6 per cent has been received so far. He announced that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will chair a pledging conference for Yemen on 25 April in Geneva.

The UN humanitarian chief also visited South Sudan, the world’s newest nation which has been ravaged by a three-year civil war, and said “the situation is worse than it has ever been.

“The famine in South Sudan is man-made,” he said. “Parties to the conflict are parties to the famine – as are those not intervening to make the violence stop.”

O’Brien said more than 7.5 million people need aid, up by 1.4 million from last year, and about 3.4 million South Sudanese are displaced by fighting including almost 200,000 who have fled the country since January.

“More than one million children are estimated to be acutely malnourished across the country, including 270,000 children who face the imminent risk of death should they not be reached in time with assistance,” he said. “Meanwhile, the cholera outbreak that began in June 2016 has spread to more locations.”

In Somalia, which O’Brien also visited, more than half the population – 6.2 million people – need humanitarian assistance and protection, including 2.9 million who are at risk of famine and require immediate help “to save or sustain their lives.”

He warned that close to one million children under the age of five will be “acutely malnourished” this year.

“What I saw and heard during my visit to Somalia was distressing – women and children walk for weeks in search of food and water. They have lost their livestock, water sources have dried up and they have nothing left to survive on,” O’Brien said. “With everything lost, women, boys, girls and men now move to urban centers.”

The humanitarian chief said current indicators mirror “the tragic picture of 2011 when Somalia last suffered a famine.” But he said the UN’s humanitarian partners have a larger footprint, better controls on resources, and a stronger partnership with the new government which recently declared the drought a national disaster.

“To be clear, we can avert a famine,” O’Brien said. “We’re ready despite incredible risk and danger … but we need those huge funds now.”

In northeast Nigeria, a seven-year uprising by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people and driven 2.6 million from their homes. A UN humanitarian coordinator last month said that malnutrition in the northeast is so pronounced that some adults are too weak to walk and some communities have lost all their toddlers.

Associated Press

Bacteria In Expanding Oceanic Dead Zones Releasing Massive Plumes Of Methane Spanning Thousands Of Miles

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2017 at 6:26 pm
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A new study reveals that plumes of methane being released from the ocean are spreading for many thousands of miles. (Photo: Andreas Hafenscher / Flickr)

Oldspeak: “The new study reveals the location of bacteria responsible for the release of massive amounts of methane in the ocean. The vast amount of methane they are producing covers an area that stretches from Panama up to Mexico, and all the way out to the Hawaiian Islands.

According to a news report on the study, the plumes of methane being released are spreading for many thousands of miles.

The bacteria generate methane when there is no oxygen present, so the newly discovered methane pools happen in deoxygenated “dead zones” of the ocean.

While the massive plumes of methane are, at present, still being absorbed back into the ocean water, study author Felicity Shelley of Queen Mary University of London told the International Business Times, “Scientists are predicting these low-oxygen zones will get larger and closer to the surface when the oceans warm.” This would increase the risk of methane — which is already being released in massive amounts in the Arctic due to melting permafrost — being released into the atmosphere.

And troublingly, ACD is already causing an expansion in both the numbers and size of dead zones around the planet.”Dahr Jamail

“The findings are released as scientists predict 4C warming of the mid-ocean depths and mass extinction of large sea creatures due to climate change by the end of the century.” –Martha Henriques

“Hmm. More irreversible, non-linear positive feedback loops we’re discovering more and more about as our Great Mother becomes less hospitable to complex life. These bacterial menthane releases, coupled with accelerating global permafrost methane releases is not good. Not good atal. Not to mention seafloor methane releases…  Existential threats intensify and proliferate, as mass extinction continues in the oceans. Meanwhile, I just watched a commercial with a fire engine red Range Rover hurtling down a ski course at nearly 10,000 ft elevation, and there was hardly a scrap of snow to be found on the ski course. The Driver got out at the bottom of the mountain and ran his hand over the vehicle, smiled approvingly, green grass gleamed behind him.  Sigh.” -OSJ

Written By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

The Trump administration’s campaign to roll back as many government regulations as possible is well underway. On the environmental front, Trump administration officials have already — in one day alone, and without allowing any opportunity for public comment — delayed the dates of 30 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules. A rule that restricted animal welfare requirements for organic poultry and livestock has been delayed by two months, and a bumble bee which was about to be added to the endangered species list has just found itself in jeopardy of extinction since the Trump administration said it would postpone the listing until at least March 21.

Meanwhile, Trump administration officials are indicating that they will be making marked changes in oil and gas industry regulations. In November, the Obama administration’s EPA requested that nearly 20,000 oil and gas companies measure their methane emissions within two to six months, depending on their type of facility. Methane is a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than CO2, and reducing methane emissions is a critical part of mitigating climate disruption. However, the Trump administration has been granting a 90-day extension on the measurement regulation to every oil and gas company that wants one. Many oil and gas officials now expect the methane survey to be scaled back dramatically, or altogether abandoned.

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

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s EPA administrator and climate-denying oil and gas apologist, has even questioned whether his agency has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Add to this the fact that his proposed EPA budget calls for a 25 percent budget cut, which will endanger the lives of countless Americans, as regulations safeguarding clean air and water are stripped down or cut altogether.

Of course, as the denial of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) continues, the world is continuing to warm. A new reminder of that comes in the form of a scientific paper published in the International Society for Microbial Ecology Journal. The study has pinpointed the source of an enormous Pacific methane pool, uncovering disastrous news for the planet.

Enormous Amounts of Methane

The new study reveals the location of bacteria responsible for the release of massive amounts of methane in the ocean. The vast amount of methane they are producing covers an area that stretches from Panama up to Mexico, and all the way out to the Hawaiian Islands.

According to a news report on the study, the plumes of methane being released are spreading for many thousands of miles.

The bacteria generate methane when there is no oxygen present, so the newly discovered methane pools happen in deoxygenated “dead zones” of the ocean.

While the massive plumes of methane are, at present, still being absorbed back into the ocean water, study author Felicity Shelley of Queen Mary University of London told the International Business Times, “Scientists are predicting these low-oxygen zones will get larger and closer to the surface when the oceans warm.” This would increase the risk of methane — which is already being released in massive amounts in the Arctic due to melting permafrost — being released into the atmosphere.

And troublingly, ACD is already causing an expansion in both the numbers and size of dead zones around the planet.

Growing Dead Zones

The second largest dead zone on the planet is in the Gulf of Mexico. It has consistently been measured at over 6,000 square miles, and is the result, largely, of the excessive use of chemical fertilizers by industrial agriculture in the US. The chemicals in the fertilizer cause an increase in algae in the water, which then starves other marine life of oxygen.

“The dead zone makes an area of the ocean floor — this year about the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island, combined — with oxygen levels so low, critters in these areas must swim away or suffocate and die,” Matt Rota, senior policy director for the Gulf Restoration Network (GRN), an environmental group that works to protect the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico, told Truthout in a 2015 interview about the dead zone.

Even then, the EPA was not regulating the use of these fertilizers across much of the US, so Rota’s organization was suing the agency.

Now, with oil and gas proponent Pruitt heading the EPA, all bets are off on how much larger the Gulf of Mexico dead zone — along with others near the US’s coasts — will grow.

The most current estimates show more than 400 dead zones around the world, and the number is growing due to increasingly warm waters and ocean acidification, both direct byproducts of ACD. In 2003, there were 146 dead zones; by 2009, the number had more than doubled.

In 2014, a Smithsonian-led study showed that ACD is contributing to an increase in global dead zones, in both size and number.

The dead zones’ release of methane, coupled with the increase in dead zones worldwide, is a sobering discovery. Yet another source of atmospheric warming has been added to a very long list — amid a political climate in which key regulations appear to be dead in the water.

Study Shows Massive Global Permafrost Melt Underway & Intensifying; Swift Decline Is Poised To Rapidly Accelerate Global Warming

In Uncategorized on March 10, 2017 at 7:15 pm
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Melting permafrost in the Northwest Territories sends carbon-rich sediment into the Mackenzie Delta. (Photo: Charles Tarnocai/Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

Oldspeak:”Yes, while humans huff and puff about The Big Cheeto and his band of Merry Damned, “Research shows immense expanses of permafrost rapidly disintegrating and releasing huge carbon stores in Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia, and Siberia”. Methane specifically. You know, that lovely greenhouse gas we’re poisoning our water supplies to dig up to use  as fuel? The one that “ in the first two decades after its release… is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide” as a heat trapping gas? Well, many many many assloads of it are being released into the environment right now from melting, formerly known as permanently frozen ice all across the arctic. Can’t be stopped on human timescales. So it’s probably gonna get a little hotter as per usual, a lot faster than expected. Oooh MY. If only there were life insurance for death from intolerable heat! Then everything would be ok.  One can only dream… “-OSJ

Written By Nika Knight @ Common Dreams:

A new study has discovered that tens of thousands of miles of permafrost in northwest Canada are rapidly melting, adding weight to recent research that shows an accelerating decline in permafrost in Alaska, Siberia, and Scandinavia.

The disintegration of permafrost throughout the Arctic Circle portends a massive release of carbon, both into the surrounding environment in the form of sediment and into the atmosphere in the form of CO2. An unprecedented Arctic heat wave is accelerating its decay.

And while global warming speeds up, President Donald Trump and his climate change-denying administration continues to push for fossil fuels and massive deregulation. In his speech last night, Trump failed to mention climate change even once.

The study in northwest Canada mapped approximately half a million square miles of tundra and found that 52,000 square miles—an area the size of Alabama—is affected by the decay of permafrost, InsideClimate News’s Bob Berwyn reported Tuesday. The collapse of permafrost is “intensifying,” the researchers observed in the study published in Geology in early February, and it’s sending enormous landslides into lakes and rivers that are capable of choking off life downstream.

“Similar signs are evident in coastal Arctic areas, where thawing permafrost and bigger waves are taking 60- to 70-foot bites of land each year,” Berwyn wrote.

“Scientists estimate that the world’s permafrost holds twice as much carbon as the atmosphere,” Berwyn noted. Indeed, the swift decline of permafrost is poised to rapidly accelerate global warming, as Common Dreams has reported.

Berwyn reported: “Similar large-scale landscape changes are evident across the Arctic including in Alaska, Siberia and Scandinavia, the researchers wrote[…] The study didn’t address the issue of greenhouse gas releases from thawing permafrost. But its findings could help quantify the immense global scale of the thawing, which will contribute to more accurate estimates of carbon emissions.”

Accelerating the climate crisis isn’t the only frightening effect of disappearing permafrost: last year, researchers also discovered that melting permafrost could release deadly pathogens frozen in the ice, potentially re-introducing ancient viruses to human populations without the immunity to fight them.

 

 

Learning To See In The Dark Amid Catastrophe

In Uncategorized on March 10, 2017 at 11:04 am
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Joanna Macy, deep ecologist, systems theorist, Buddhist scholar, author, speaker, teacher, communing with the Earth at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, January 2017. (Photo: Lois Canright)

Back then we were trying to scare people to pay attention. You don’t [know] how bad it is with climate change, you don’t know how many nuclear warheads are on high alert. Get roused. And it wasn’t working. People thought the public was apathetic.

But I realized the etymology of the word was a reflection of what was so. [early 17th century: from French apathie, via Latin from Greek apatheia, from apathēs “without feeling,” from a- “without” plus pathos “suffering.”] It was not that people didn’t care or didn’t know, but that people were afraid to suffer. It was the refusal or the incapacity to suffer.

So this has been a lot of my work. To help people open to and become enamored of the idea that they’d really like to see what was going on. And to open the eyes and open the heart to discover, again and again, universally in the work, that acceptance of that discomfort and pain actually reflected the depths of your caring and commitment to life….

When people find that they can, and want to, feel and know and tell what is happening to our world, that is so much sweeter and [more] liberating than the opposite. When people get integrated and find how good it feels, then they really want that more than the narcotic of ignorance and delusion, as painful as it is….

And that feels more liberating and true to you and brings you into the moment when you are less dependent on someone giving you a failsafe method to make everything fine, because no one can do that….

So that can give us compassion for each other. And we don’t have to waste time being scared of each other. We can see each other as captives of a force that’s got us all by the throat. But we can stop it. We have to help each other wake up to how we are destroying everything we love, before we are turned into robotic instruments of these inhuman systems. Just by their own logic, it is pretty simple to see.

It’s going to be beautiful to see what we dare to do. Facing our fears, and letting go of and getting over our knee-jerk reactions to what we think we don’t like, or are afraid of. To see our capacity to walk into the fire. To discover how much we really love being alive. To give ourselves a taste of what that passion is. To let us fall really in love with our planet, and its beauty, and to see that in ourselves, as well as in each other.

The inhuman economic machine does not love us back. It makes us into robots. It sucks us into the destruction of all that is. And even if we can’t turn it around now, at least we can wake up, so that in the time that is left we can discover who we are, just looking into each other’s eyes. Just looking into the face of the moon at night, or the trees, or the faces of our children and free ourselves. I think we want that.” –Johanna Macy

“OH! This woman is such a GIFT. Bodhisattva of the highest order. How different would this world be if we let go of our fears of suffering, discomfort and pain? If we saw them as gifts that we could learn from, instead of nuisances to be done away with via a constellation of medications, delusions and distractions of all manner? Yeesh. Living in this “painless concentration camp for entire societies so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methodshas done quite a number on us huh? Compliant, self-correcting “Happiness Machines”, mindlessly destroying all that lives, in a futile quest to “Live the life of your dreams”, biosphere be damned. We need to start seeing past the extremely seductive illusions of succcess incessantly & ubiquotiously paraded before us. We need to wake up, see, and be with what is. Experience the full range of completely valid responses to the catastrophe we are enveloped in and stop pushing them away. Much of the work left to be done for many of us is inside, not in an office or gym. It’s time we get to it.” -OSJ

 

Written By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

It’s 3:23 in the morning
and I’m awake
because my great great grandchildren
won’t let me sleep
my great great grandchildren
ask me in dreams
what did you do while the planet was plundered?
what did you do when the earth was unraveling?
Drew Dellinger

We are living in a time of the convergence of multiple cataclysmic forces: runaway anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), chronic wars and the most grotesque economic inequality ever witnessed on Earth. And all are worsening by the day.

Humans have changed the chemistry of the oceans and altered the very atmosphere of Earth. The planet’s largest ecosystems are in free-fall collapse as ACD proceeds apace. Racism, sexism, xenophobia and myriad other structural forms of hate are amplifying around the globe as a fascist authoritarian has ascended to the US presidency, the most powerful office in the world. This reality-television star, failed businessman, sexual predator, and hate-and-fear monger is clearly aiming for the fast track toward totalitarian rule.

“[The totalitarian leaders’] careers reproduce the features of earlier mob leaders: failure in professional and social life, perversion and disaster in private life,” Hannah Arendt, author of the essential The Origins of Totalitarianism, wrote. “The fact that their lives prior to their political careers had been failures, naïvely held against them by the more respectable leaders of the old parties, was the strongest factor in their mass appeal.”

Sound familiar?

Origins, published in 1951, should be mandatory reading for anyone concerned about what is happening in the US right now, and what may be to come. Arendt, a world-renowned and respected philosopher during her time, could have also been called a prophet.

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist,” Arendt also wrote. “But people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.”

Many believe that Trump’s chief strategist and senior counsel, Steve Bannon — the racist, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynist former chief executive of Breitbart — is essentially the puppeteer pulling the strings. Bannon’s goal? “I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment,” he told the Daily Beast in 2013.

More recently, just after Trump won the election, Bannon was quoted by The Hollywood Reporter as saying, “Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power.”

The news on all fronts is truly horrific. Yet as these malevolent forces charge ahead, equal and opposite reactions of resistance, awakening and love for humanity and the planet are emerging. Not even one month into the presidency, the Trump administration has spawned global demonstrations the likes of which are comparable to those that occurred in February 2003 in opposition to the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Clearly an awakening is well underway.

Hannah Arendt begins Origins with an epigram from her teacher Karl Jaspers that seems apt: “Give in neither to the past nor the future. What matters is to be entirely present.”

That statement parallels what I was told by one of the great teachers of our time, Joanna Macy.

“The most radical thing any of us can do at this time is to be fully present to what is happening in the world,” she told me in 2006.

Macy, an eco-philosopher and a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory and deep ecology, cofounded with her husband Fran Macy a method of grieving, healing and empowerment that evolved into what is now called the Work That Reconnects.

I attended one of her workshops in 2006 in order to deal with the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder I was struggling with as a result of my reporting from the front lines in Iraq, and wrote about that experience here.

Yet now, in 2017, a new darkness is enveloping the world.

After taking some time to herself in the wake of Trump’s ascendency to power, Macy emerged with an offering of a retreat in Abiqui, New Mexico, aptly titled, “In the Dark, the Eye Learns to See.”

The title, borrowed and melded from poet Theodore Roethke‘s “In a Dark Time,” as well as Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote, “Only when it’s dark enough can you see the stars,” could not have been more appropriate.

The moment I was aware of the opportunity to engage deeply in the work again with Macy, who is now 87 years old, I enrolled.

Like so many, I have felt utterly overwhelmed by the viciousness and rapidity with which what Macy refers to as “The Great Unraveling” is now occurring. Like a mountain climber beginning to slip down an icy slope, I needed to find a way to check my fall, hold fast and resume the climb, even if it meant climbing up into a storm.

Simultaneous to “The Great Unraveling,” Macy coined the phrase “The Great Turning” to describe “the essential adventure of our time”: the shift from what she calls the “industrial growth society” that is consuming the planet to a life-sustaining civilization.

Whether that shift will occur or not is an open question, now more than ever before as we move into the darkness of this ominous storm. But it is this very storm that could very well bring about “The Great Turning.”

“We need an opposing wind to fly,” Macy said to the group the morning before our interview. “It’s the hardship that catalyzes our awakening.”

Dahr Jamail: Since our last interview, which was published in June 2014, we are in exponentially worse shape: Donald Trump is president, the catastrophic impacts of climate disruption only continue to worsen and make themselves all the more evident and chronic war is not even paid attention to any longer … among countless other ailments. Given how things were when we spoke in the summer of 2014, it’s difficult to believe it is this much worse in such a short time, yet here we are. From your perspective, how has this not caused more people to wake up and take a stand?

Joanna Macy: I think the two answers to that, as I see it, are as follows. One is that, as Bill Moyers has said the morning after the election in that piece he wrote, “Farewell America,” he laid it at the doorstep of the media: the failure of mainstream media to grow up and report what was actually happening. They let themselves be bought and cowed and distracted, and disrespected the intelligence of the American people by feeding them pap and amusement. They featured Trump up down and sideways. I think that’s part of it.

Let’s not omit Fox News, which has been a force for the distraction and dumbing-down of the United States of America for quite awhile now. [As] one whose spiritual roots are in Protestant Christianity, it makes me quite sick to my stomach to see what the evangelicals’ role … has been in the mauling of the public attention and intelligence.

So there’s that, but then there is something else.

For the last 36 years, since the advent into power of Ronald Reagan, public education and the public school system has been gutted. It’s criminal that we’ve seen how two whole generations have grown up with shamefully limited understanding of the world, history and geography. People in this country now have great difficulty in critical thinking and being able to express themselves.

The public mind has been shattered, fragmented.

In the Vietnam War, for example, 50 years ago, all the protests were visible on television, and people knew where Vietnam was. So to me, one of the great tragedies has been the disintegration of the American capacity to think and pay attention.

In addition to that, there has been a [diminishment] of our capacity to absorb news that might upset the psyche. And this is actually what brought me into the work I do, which is … group interactive work, and I have a bunch of books, using certain methods drawn from systems theory and spiritual teachings — from most traditions, but primarily from Indigenous and Buddhist — to overcome the fragmenting of our culture through the hyper-individualism … that has produced, first unwittingly but then wittingly, a sense of isolation.

Number one in your pursuits is the nurture and feeding of the separate ego, separate individual. That leaves you very little to fall back on if you have to confront something unpleasant, like the criminal activities of your own government. So the weakening of the mind, through the reasons I’ve given, and the culture bred on competition, command and control, power over — which we inherit from the patriarchy — these also have bled people of the nerve to challenge the absurdity or criminality of the larger systems. This makes it very easy for people to allow themselves to be lied to and to be bought. There is the fright induced by finding yourself essentially alone. And that is much the story of the American culture.

One more reason, and I think about this all the time, is that we have, in the mid-20th century, the release from breaking open the nucleus of the atom. What we did in doing that was to release the strongest binding power in the universe. It’s the glue of the universe. And you can’t do that. If it ever were to happen, we’d need to be highly integrated, wise beings, who knew just what they were doing.

The tragedy is that we managed to do that when we were still very vulnerable to greed and hatred and this isolated ego needing to subdue everyone else for the sake of the ego. That that happened is perhaps the greatest tragedy of planet Earth. And for the sake of our poor ancestors. I’ve become convinced that people feel unglued, that there is a basic shakiness.

People used to be able to rely on certain things. Reliance on the Earth being there. Relying on the teachings you had. Relying on some values that mattered to you. Relying on your relationships with people. But this [relationships] is the strongest power of the universe that holds it together, that we would shatter that. I think about this a lot.

As an activist on nuclear issues, I notice how all efforts in environmental activism, peace and justice activism, were [hampered] by this difficulty people have in sustaining the gaze. This is an unfortunate development.

Back then we were trying to scare people to pay attention. You don’t [know] how bad it is with climate change, you don’t know how many nuclear warheads are on high alert. Get roused. And it wasn’t working. People thought the public was apathetic.

But I realized the etymology of the word was a reflection of what was so. [early 17th century: from French apathie, via Latin from Greek apatheia, from apathēs “without feeling,” from a- “without” plus pathos “suffering.”] It was not that people didn’t care or didn’t know, but that people were afraid to suffer. It was the refusal or the incapacity to suffer.

So this has been a lot of my work. To help people open to and become enamored of the idea that they’d really like to see what was going on. And to open the eyes and open the heart to discover, again and again, universally in the work, that acceptance of that discomfort and pain actually reflected the depths of your caring and commitment to life.

And people became positively charged with determination and caring and creativity, and community. We were re-weaving. But without that people are lost, isolated, scared. And that became conscious certainly under George W. Bush. They were consciously using the plan of Joseph Goebbels, who served Hitler, who said you have to scare people, give them an enemy. And also divide them against each other. So to me, this was a logical unfolding [after] what happened on 9/11….

My concern with Hillary winning was that, while it would have been easier to see her crowned, and I mean that literally, we would have stayed asleep. So this is a very painful waking up.

During the end of 2016 you held several one-week intensives where you spoke of seeing people wanting, more than anything, to simply be able to be present and feel this time, despite how painful and heartbreaking that is to do now. You said that instead of doing so, particularly at this time when so much is vanishing before our eyes, and the planet is screaming at us at the top of what is left of its lungs, people are choosing to put their heads in the bucket of manure that is our corporate press, and infinite other distractions. Please talk more about all of these. 

When people find that they can, and want to, feel and know and tell what is happening to our world, that is so much sweeter and [more] liberating than the opposite. When people get integrated and find how good it feels, then they really want that more than the narcotic of ignorance and delusion, as painful as it is.

And you can’t do it alone. The dangers coming down on us now are so humongous that it is really beyond an individual mind all by her/him/itself to take it in. We need to sit together, grab each other and be together as we even take in what is happening, let alone how we respond.

Because alone you get overwhelmed, and it becomes traumatizing. But once people have tasted that they can, with each other, speak about what they see and feel is happening to our world, a number of things happen, in addition to the fact that they fall in love with each other. There is a trust and realization of, “Oh my god, I’m not alone.” There is a return to your own self-respect. I think self-respect has not been realized as such a source of strength in the individual psyche. I think people would rather see themselves facing an overwhelming foe with conviction of their purpose, than to be comfortable.

So that was the release. And the release would come, and as people began to break through their reluctance to suffer with our world, once they took that on and spoke to it, then they found their unity with our world. Often, not only did a sense of bondedness come, but a lot of hilarity. There is laughter and joking, and a shaking off of a kind of spell or curse. A feeling comes, of, “I can be here.” And that feels more liberating and true to you and brings you into the moment when you are less dependent on someone giving you a failsafe method to make everything fine, because no one can do that.

People dare to be comfortable with uncertainty if they are in solidarity with each other.

What are some of the things you see that are posing the biggest challenges to people? 

When I began this work, someone asked me, Joanna why are you doing this? I thought I was doing it to make us more effective, working for global peace and justice, that we were doing the work to be better agents of change.

But when I was asked that, the answer came right from my solar plexus: I’m doing this work so that when things fall apart, we will not turn on each other.

So I think that’s the biggest challenge now. The powers that momentarily have gained ascendance in our culture know how to manipulate our fears very well. They know how to try to turn us against each other. So a big challenge is to not buy into that, and to be able to look at each other with trust, saying, “Here is a brother or sister, brought by the intelligence of Earth, to be alive at this moment, then this person can also deep within them have a care that life can go on.”

So there you have something in common right away. Instead of contempt and judgment of them, and we practiced this recently in our work…moving that contempt into curiosity, which is very helpful.

We’ve got to use our wits, and by grace re-knit and find our way into some solidarity with one another. Facing the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced, with climate change and the threat of nuclear war, which I think is very real.

We will come together when we die, but I would love for us to come together before that. [Laughs] I would love for it to be before it’s too late. Or at least long enough so that we can look into each others’ eyes with love.

When people come to your intensives, or even just your lectures, what are they seeking? What are you seeing happen to them, from when they come to you, to what happens to them as they do the work that reconnects? 

Since the ascendency to power of Trump, the Work that Reconnects is being turned to by many more people than ever before, and many who have already experienced it are actually taking it out to more people. I think people are coming so that they can openly speak of their distress, pain, despair, fury. They love that about the work. They come for that, because this is a place where these dark emotions are not pathologized, but taken as wholesome and realistic.

Another reason people don’t wake up is because the culture and psychotherapy are both so reductionist, focused on making happy isolated individuals. And that has been very good for the pharmaceutical industry too, let alone other forms of addiction.

So it’s like waking from a kind of addiction. It is a noble thing. It is a choosing.

So our breaking free, in order to see clearly, takes many forms, doesn’t it?

What is called of us now, from the planet? What are we being called to do at this time? 

To wake up together. That is actually the name of the movement in Sri Lanka that I went over to do field work with. Sarvodaya. Taking the Gandhian term, but using it in a slightly different way, but the same Sanskrit, which is “everybody wakes up together.”

It’s hard to wake up alone now. It’s scary to see even what is going on. But there is almost no limit, I’ve come to believe, to what we can do with the love and support of each other. There is almost no limit to what we can do for the sake of each other. This taps into the Bodhisattva heart. That’s that hero figure of Mahayana Buddhism, “the one with the boundless heart.” The one who realizes there is no private salvation.

If you are going to wake up, you have to wake up together. Never has that been more true than now, at this stage of late stage corporate capitalism.

There is a huge force, through the media, through the banking system, through these people and corporations that are locked in runaway system that is very hard for them to stop now. Because once you create something, an economic system or being or contraption that has to keep making more money, it is forced to do that. It is forced into these extractive industries, and the mining. Even the nicest people are caught up in this. These are super-human forces and principalities, and so many are trapped in it. Those who appear to be our enemies, they are just flesh and blood who are also trapped by this economic system. And it’s good for that system to keep making nuclear bombs. It had President Barack Obama over a barrel. He was caught in that system before he walked into the White House as president. And his first act had to do with more permission being given to Wall Street.

So that can give us compassion for each other. And we don’t have to waste time being scared of each other. We can see each other as captives of a force that’s got us all by the throat. But we can stop it. We have to help each other wake up to how we are destroying everything we love, before we are turned into robotic instruments of these inhuman systems. Just by their own logic, it is pretty simple to see.

It’s going to be beautiful to see what we dare to do. Facing our fears, and letting go of and getting over our knee-jerk reactions to what we think we don’t like, or are afraid of. To see our capacity to walk into the fire. To discover how much we really love being alive. To give ourselves a taste of what that passion is. To let us fall really in love with our planet, and its beauty, and to see that in ourselves, as well as in each other.

The inhuman economic machine does not love us back. It makes us into robots. It sucks us into the destruction of all that is. And even if we can’t turn it around now, at least we can wake up, so that in the time that is left we can discover who we are, just looking into each other’s eyes. Just looking into the face of the moon at night, or the trees, or the faces of our children and free ourselves. I think we want that.

We can do that, we are capable of that, and that is what I see happening. I know that is possible, because I see it. Because it’s happened to me, and countless of my brothers and sisters. They don’t have to do the Work That Reconnects, they just have to fall in love with life, and there are many ways that people are doing that.

And as you do, you find that you are not alone here. We not only have each other, but we have the ancestors. And we have the future ones. And that is the truth. The ancestors are with us because their blood flows in our veins. They made us. We wouldn’t be here without them. Every single one of them, back through time, carried us like a seed. They are here. And they are worried sick about us.

And the future ones — we carry the future in us. And the future ones and the ancestors, I feel they surround us at times, as witnesses. And if we open our heart-minds to them, they can give us guidance and strength and strength in our hearts. Because it helps us realize how big we are. We are bigger than the balance sheets of the mega-corporations. But the mega-corporations are not real. We are real!

People are starting to take radical actions — the resistance at Standing Rock, people chaining themselves to railroad tracks to block coal trains, etc. — valiant acts of resistance — yet much of mainstream society still has not joined with these movements. Talk about that disparity, and that phenomenon. 

There again is the betrayal from the media. Fox News and all the others are made to do what they do, skewering the truth as they do.

These people who take these valiant actions to help the Earth, they call to me at the center of my soul. They are the cutting edge of human evolution. They have broken free from being captives of the hyper-individualism of our culture. They are no longer held captive by their lonely ego winning out over other people. They are no longer held captive by a shrunken ego.

And to me, there is nothing more beautiful. I see beauty in them. Such great moral beauty. They are aflame with meaning. They are like beacons. They are saying, “Don’t let it get the best of you. This is just hardware! This is just cement and steel! Don’t let this cow you. See, watch! I’m not afraid. I’m going to do it. I’m going to lock myself down…. But see! See how it is to be free!”

That’s what I hear them saying to the psyche. I think there is nothing more beautiful. They are showing us what we can be. That we can spring free, and walk out of the prison cell of the separate ego and find our true nature in our inter-woven-ness in the web of life.

Oh, that just blows my mind it is so beautiful! It makes me so glad to be alive!

What does it look like today for someone, as yourself, who is living with eyes and heart wide open? Describe the world you see right now? 

[Long pause.] I’m so glad to be alive now. [Long pause.] I’m so glad that if this had to happen, that I hadn’t checked out 10 days or centuries earlier. I’m so glad to be able to, even in the smallest way, to take part in this “Great Turning.” To give it a chance for a life-sustaining society. Otherwise we are just right down the tube. We are just flushing everything right down the toilet.

But it’s not over yet. And I’m here with my brothers and sisters, and even if we go under, and I have to admit looks more likely today than yesterday, we’re going to discover how big is our strength, and how big is our love for life. We can do that, and see how much we care. And we can be scared. I can see myself now in a situation where I can forget these words. Because the global corporate economy has developed such tools for destroying the mind through different ways of breaking the mind.

But I’m not broken yet. And I’ll forgive myself ahead of time if under the pressures that the system has developed and used on plenty of other people, my mind breaks. I’ll forgive myself ahead of time if my mind breaks.

But right now, I see the people that are working, that I work alongside, I see people like the scientists how they are saving the information about climate chaos. People are being called forth to do some beautiful things. It makes me so glad to see this.

And even if in the future, from some cosmic place, they say, “That little third planet out in that little old solar system over there, boy they blew it” — even so, there were some beautiful efforts made, some beautiful music. Strong hearts, and a lot of loving.

What should we each, individually, be doing? What is the most important thing for us to do, right here, right now? 

To find our strength and our reason, in connection with each other. So that will be different with everybody. Each one will have a different path. People will find different ways.

So, if you’re a clergyman or woman, you’ll find yourself saying new and stronger things from the pulpit. And if you’re working in a corporation, you’ll find ways to sabotage. There is plenty of that already going on. Do you think we’re alive now just by chance that we haven’t blown ourselves up yet? There have been Bodhisattvas at work, gumming up the works.

The most important thing to do is find your gratitude for life. Take stock of your strengths and give thanks for what you have, and for the joys you’ve been given. Because that is the fuel. That love for life can act like grace for you to defend life.

So don’t get too solemn. Don’t just spend all your time gritting your teeth. Laugh out loud. Enjoy a kind of wild joy. Ah! Now I have time, to break free from what had stopped me before. Now I’ve time. This time. To realize my inter-being with all life.

So it’ll be different for different individuals. But I think we should not make a move to do things alone. Find others. Even if it’s one other person to begin with. Then others will come. Because everybody is lonely. And everybody is ready to find what they most want. And if it means that we have to be in such danger for us to find out how much we need each other, then let it be that.

So little study groups, and book groups, make a garden together. Keep your ear to the ground. Inform each other. We have to develop the skill of finding that it is more fun to be waking up together, Sarvodaya [Sanskrit term meaning “universal uplift” or “progress of all”], than a single lone star on the stage.

At the conclusion of the interview, thanks were shared, then Macy smiled and said, “I’m going to go walk in the sun now.”

About Joanna Macy:

Eco-philosopher Joanna Macy, Ph.D., is a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory and deep ecology. A respected voice in the movements for peace, justice and ecology, she interweaves her scholarship with five decades of activism. As the root teacher of the Work That Reconnects, she has created a ground-breaking theoretical framework for personal and social change, as well as a powerful workshop methodology for its application.

Her wide-ranging work addresses psychological and spiritual issues of the nuclear age, the cultivation of ecological awareness, and the fruitful resonance between Buddhist thought and contemporary science. The many dimensions of this work are explored in her books Despair and Personal Power in the Nuclear Age (New Society Publishers, 1983); Dharma and Development (Kumarian Press, 198); Thinking Like a Mountain (with John Seed, Pat Fleming, and Arne Naess; New Society Publishers, 1988; New Society/ New Catalyst, 2007); Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory (SUNY Press, 1991); Rilke’s Book of Hours (1996, 2005) and In Praise of Mortality (2004) (with Anita Barrows, Riverhead); Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World (with Molly Young Brown, New Society Publishers, 1998); Macy’s memoir entitled Widening Circles (New Society, 2000); World as Lover, World as Self (Parallax Press, 2007), A Year With Rilke, (with Anita Barrows, Harper One, 2009); and Pass It On: Five Stories That Can Change the World (with Norbert Gahbler, Parallax Press, 2010).

Many thousands of people around the world have participated in Macy’s workshops and trainings. Her group methods, known as the Work That Reconnects, have been adopted and adapted yet more widely in classrooms, churches and grassroots organizing. Her work helps people transform despair and apathy, in the face of overwhelming social and ecological crises, into constructive, collaborative action. It brings a new way of seeing the world, as our larger living body, freeing us from the assumptions and attitudes that now threaten the continuity of life on Earth. Macy travels widely giving lectures, workshops and trainings in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia. She lives in Berkeley, California, near her children and grandchildren.

 ————————————————————————-

Dahr Jamail

Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.

His third book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with William Rivers Pitt, is available now on Amazon.

Dahr Jamail is the author of the book, The End of Ice, forthcoming from The New Press. He lives and works in Washington State.

 

U.N. Report: Humankind’s Ability To Feed Itself, Now In Jeopardy

In Uncategorized on March 8, 2017 at 1:47 am
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Photo: FIDA/Sanjit Das/Panos

Oldspeak: “…expanding food production and economic growth have often come at a heavy cost to the natural environment…. Almost one half of the forests that once covered the Earth are now gone. Groundwater sources are being depleted rapidly. Biodiversity has been deeply eroded…planetary boundaries may well be surpassed, if current trends continue…”

UNFAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva

“Consider those words with the knowledge that 2 years agoa team of scientists led by Will Steffen of the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University and the Australian National University report in the journal Science that the world has now crossed four of nine planetary boundaries within which humans could have hoped for a safe operating space…. The four boundaries are climate change, land system change, alterations to the biogeochemical cycle that follow phosphorus and nitrogen fertiliser use, and the loss of a condition called “biosphere integrity”…. Transgressing a boundary increases the risk that human activities could inadvertently drive the Earth System into a much less hospitable state…. It is difficult to over-estimate the scale and speed of change. In a single human lifetime humanity has become a planetary-scale geological force” and now, scientists are questioning how humanity will feed itself within a little over a generation. If we make it that far. The fact is, nearly half of PLANETARY BOUNDARIES HAVE ALREADY BEEN PASSED.  Biospheric integrity losses will likely continue to accelerate and proliferate in a non-linear fashion. The planetary scale geologic force that is Humans will likely continue to drive the Earth System in to a much less hospitable state.  Expect current trends to continue until, all our Great Mother’s hospitability is worn out…” -OSJ

Related Story:

Study: Climate Change May Hurt America’s Agricultural Productivity

Written By Inter Press Service World Desk:

Mankind’s future ability to feed itself is in jeopardy due to intensifying pressures on natural resources, mounting inequality, and the fallout from a changing climate, warns a new United Nations’ report.

Though very real and significant progress in reducing global hunger has been achieved over the past 30 years, “expanding food production and economic growth have often come at a heavy cost to the natural environment,” says the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report The Future of Food and Agriculture: Trends and Challenges, issued on Feb. 22, 2017.

“Almost one half of the forests that once covered the Earth are now gone. Groundwater sources are being depleted rapidly. Biodiversity has been deeply eroded.”

As a result, “planetary boundaries may well be surpassed, if current trends continue,” cautions FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva in his introduction to the report.

By 2050 humanity’s ranks will likely have grown to nearly 10 billion people. In a scenario with moderate economic growth, this population increase will push up global demand for agricultural products by 50 per cent over present levels, intensifying pressures on already-strained natural resources, The Future of Food and Agriculture projects.

At the same time, the report continues, greater numbers of people will be eating fewer cereals and larger amounts of meat, fruits, vegetables and processed food — a result of an ongoing global dietary transition that will further add to those pressures, driving more deforestation, land degradation, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Alongside these trends, the planet’s changing climate will throw up additional hurdles. “Climate change will affect every aspect of food production,” the report says. These include greater variability of precipitation and increases in the frequency of droughts and floods.

Zero Hunger?

The core question raised by the new FAO report is whether, looking ahead, the world’s agriculture and food systems are capable of sustainably meeting the needs of a burgeoning global population.

The short answer? Yes, FAO says, the planet’s food systems are capable of producing enough food to do so, and in a sustainable way, but unlocking that potential – and ensuring that all of humanity benefits – will require “major transformations.”

According to the report, without a push to invest in and retool food systems, far too many people will still be hungry in 2030 — the year by which the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda has targeted the eradication of chronic food insecurity and malnutrition, the report warns.

“Without additional efforts to promote pro-poor development, reduce inequalities and protect vulnerable people, more than 600 million people would still be undernourished in 2030,” it says. In fact, the current rate of progress would not even be enough to eradicate hunger by 2050.

Where Will Our Food Come From?

Given the limited scope for expanding agriculture’s use of more land and water resources, the production increases needed to meet rising food demand will have to come mainly from improvements in productivity and resource-use efficiency, says FAO.

However there are worrying signs that yield growth is leveling off for major crops. Since the 1990s, average increases in the yields of maize, rice, and wheat at the global level generally run just over 1 percent per annum, the report notes.

To tackle these and the other challenges outlined in the report, “business-as-usual” is not an option, The Future of Food and Agriculture argues.

“Major transformations in agricultural systems, rural economies and natural resource management will be needed if we are to meet the multiple challenges before us and realize the full potential of food and agriculture to ensure a secure and healthy future for all people and the entire planet,” it says.

“High-input, resource-intensive farming systems, which have caused massive deforestation, water scarcities, soil depletion and high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, cannot deliver sustainable food and agricultural production,” adds the report.

More With Less

The core challenge is to produce more with less, while preserving and enhancing the livelihoods of small-scale and family farmers, and ensuring access to food by the most vulnerable.

“For this, a twin-track approach is needed which combines investment in social protection, to immediately tackle undernourishment, and pro-poor investments in productive activities – especially agriculture and in rural economies – to sustainably increase income-earning opportunities of the poor. “

According to the UN body, the world will need to shift to more sustainable food systems which make more efficient use of land, water and other inputs and sharply reduce their use of fossil fuels, leading to a drastic cut of agricultural green-house gas emissions, greater conservation of biodiversity, and a reduction of waste.

This will necessitate more investment in agriculture and agri-food systems, as well as greater spending on research and development, the report says, to promote innovation, support sustainable production increases, and find better ways to cope with issues like water scarcity and climate change, it underlines.

Along with boosting production and resilience, equally critical will be creating food supply chains that better connect farmers in low- and middle-income countries to urban markets – along with measures which ensure access for consumers to nutritious and safe food at affordable prices, such as such as pricing policies and social protection programs, it says.

On this, Kostas Stamoulis, FAO Assistant Director General for Economics and Social Development, said a media briefing, when asked about the most important challenge of tomorrow regarding food and agriculture, said that it is climate change. “This demands change in practice of agriculture and developing agriculture that is more adaptable to climate change.”

Kostas Stamoulis and the other two authors of the report, Rob Vos, Director of the Agriculture Economics Development Division, and Lorenzo Bellu, Team Leader, Global Perspective Studies, organised on Feb. 21, a briefing session for the media to explain the key issues the new document incudes.

Top Trends and Challenges

The FAO report identifies 15 trends and 10 challenges affecting the world’s food systems:

15 Trends:

–  A rapidly increasing world population marked by growth “hot spots,” urbanization, and aging

– Diverse trends in economic growth, family incomes, agricultural investment, and economic inequality.

– Greatly increased competition for natural resources

– Climate change

– Plateauing agricultural productivity

– Increased conflicts, crises and natural disasters

– Persistent poverty, inequality and food insecurity

– Dietary transition affecting nutrition and health

– Structural changes in economic systems and employment implications

– Increased migration

– Changing food systems and resulting impacts on farmers livelihoods

– Persisting food losses and waste

– New international governance mechanisms for responding to food and nutrition security issues

– Changes in international financing for development.

10 Challenges:

– Sustainably improving agricultural productivity to meet increasing demand

– Ensuring a sustainable natural resource base

– Addressing climate change and intensification of natural hazards

– Eradicating extreme poverty and reducing inequality

– Ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition

– Making food systems more efficient, inclusive and resilient

– Improving income earning opportunities in rural areas and addressing the root causes of migration

– Building resilience to protracted crises, disasters and conflicts

– Preventing trans-boundary and emerging agriculture and food system threats

– Addressing the need for coherent and effective national and international governance

Ecologist: “That’s an eye-opening rate of change”- Global Warming Fueled Spring Moving Forward At Record Rate

In Uncategorized on March 2, 2017 at 1:50 pm
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Silent witnesses … early spring blossom is a sign of climate change. Image: bwrabbitgirl via Flickr

Oldspeak: “When we started studying this, I never would have imagined we’d be talking about a 26-day per decade rate of advance,” says Eric Post, a polar ecologist at the University of California Davis department of wildlife, fish and conservation biology, who has been studying the Arctic for 27 years.

“That’s almost an entire growing season. That’s an eye-opening rate of change.”

“One day after a near 70 degree day here in New York, temperatures are forecast to plummet to 29 degrees tonight. Global weirding continues to accelerate apace, as ecological cycles spin out of whack worldwide. After a February where daily record highs have been blowing away daily record lows by a far greater than 100-to-1 ratio, quite the eye opening rate of change indeed. Expect the rate to increase and accelerate as time passes. ” -OSJ

Written By Tim Radford @ Climate News Network:

The northern hemisphere is experiencing a much earlier spring due to global warming, causing problems for plants and wildlife as the natural cycle goes out of sync.

LONDON, 1 March, 2017 Spring is arriving ever earlier in the northern hemisphere. One sedge species in Greenland is now springing to growth 26 days earlier than it did a decade ago. And in the wintry United States, spring arrived 22 days early this year in Washington DC, the national capital.

The evidence comes from those silent witnesses, the natural things that respond to climate signals. The relatively new science of phenology – the calendar record of first bud, first flower, first nesting behaviour and first migrant arrivals – has over the last three decades repeatedly confirmed meteorological fears of global warming as a consequence of the combustion of fossil fuels.

Researchers say the evidence from the plant world is consistent with the instrumental record: 2016 was the hottest year ever recorded, and it was the third record-breaking year in succession. Sixteen of the hottest years ever recorded have happened in the 21st century.

Arctic spring

And the most dramatic changes are observed in the high Arctic, the fastest-warming place on the planet, according to a study in Biology Letters. As the polar sea ice retreats, the growing season gets ever longer – and arrives earlier.

The pattern is not consistent: grey willow sticks to its original timetable, and dwarf birch growth has advanced about five days earlier for each decade. But the sedge, almost four weeks ahead of its timetable in a decade, holds the record, according to a study that observed one plot at a field site in West Greenland, 150 miles inland, for 12 years.

“When we started studying this, I never would have imagined we’d be talking about a 26-day per decade rate of advance,” says Eric Post, a polar ecologist at the University of California Davis department of wildlife, fish and conservation biology, who has been studying the Arctic for 27 years.

“That’s almost an entire growing season. That’s an eye-opening rate of change.”

“While these earlier springs might not seem
like a big deal, they pose significant challenges
for planning and managing important
issues that affect our economy and our society”

Caribou come to the study site during the calving season, to graze on the rich plant life of the brief Arctic summer. The caribou set their migration calendar by day-length. But some of the plants prefer to respond to temperature, which means that by the time the caribou arrive, the plants have flourished and the pickings are not as nutritious. So fewer calves are born and more die.

“That’s one example of the consequences of this for consumer species like caribou, who have a limited window to build up resources before going into the next winter,” Dr Post says. “With the most recent study, we’re taking a step towards understanding how extensive and cryptic the effects of sea ice loss might be in the Arctic.”

Phenological observations

Further south, spring keeps on springing, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), which has just published a new set of maps based on phenological observations.

And, once again, an early spring doesn’t mean a sunnier, kinder world for everybody. Ticks and mosquitoes become more active, pollen seasons last longer. Crops could flourish – or be at risk from a sudden late frost or summer drought.

Plants could bloom before the arrival of the birds, bees and butterflies that feed on and pollinate the flowers, with consequences for both the plant and the pollinator.

“While these earlier springs might not seem like a big deal and who among us doesn’t appreciate a balmy day or a break in dreary winter weather they pose significant challenges for planning and managing important issues that affect our economy and our society,” says one of the authors of the report, Dr Jake Weltzin, a USGS ecologist and national director of the USA National Phenology Network. Climate News Network

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