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

Posts Tagged ‘Anthropocene Mass Extinction’

2c Warming = “A death sentence for Africa.” The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard: Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide

In Uncategorized on November 29, 2015 at 8:59 pm

Oldspeak: “On the eve of the latest and “most important” U.N. Climate change conference and the attendant fanfare of corporate sponsored circle jerks otherwise known as protest marches and “actions”, I thought it important to illustrate the pointlessness of it all. The following piece is a brilliant one from Cory Morningstar in 2012, one of the few journalists doing anything close to journalism about the single most important story on earth. In it, She delineates how back in 2009  a couple billion people were relegated to a future of famine, drought, and uninhabitable homelands, without much fanfare. Knowing all along that temperatures of of 2c or higher and CO2 concentrations of 350 ppm meant certain death for many people, some who had very little to do with creating the conditions of their death sentence. She details how science based targets were ignored in favor or politically palatable and omnicidal corporate approved targets, promoted as valid by its NGO/Non-profit Industrial Complex/Infotainment Media. Africa in particular was predicted to be hardest hit with irreversible climate disruption. We’re seeing that come to fruition, probably much sooner than anticipated in places like the horn of Africa, Somaliland, Senegal,  Botswana, The waves of refugees streaming into Europe, are fleeling terrorism and political instability borne of climate change and global warming. Meanwhile, as the planet burns, the negotiators gathering in Paris will not be discussing any plan that comes close to meeting their own stated goal of limiting the increase of global temperatures to a reasonably safe level. So one has to wonder, what is the point of meeting if the game is far past over for climate? Why continue to pretend like 350ppm and 2c are acceptable targets for “mitigation” and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change when there is no way to even achieve those targets?!?!? These people will spend yet another 2 weeks on the champagne circuit bloviating, blithely spending more carbon emissions from a carbon budget that won’t even be discussed to talk about perhaps coming to a binding “climate agreement” that has no basis in reality or scientific fact. Enjoy the Kabuki. We’re fucked.” -OSJ 

 

Written By Cory Morningstar @ The Art of Annihilation:

“350 ppm is a death sentence … The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States ) is around 260 parts per million …” CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 PPM, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.” – AOSIS Briefing 2009

“This was nothing less than a colonisation of the sky. $10 billion is not enough to buy us coffins.” – Lumumba Di-Aping

In December 11, 2009 one of the most important briefings in the history of United Nations Conference of the Parties transpired (COP15) which took place in Copenhagen. If we lived in a world in which what we see, what we are told, and what we believe, matched our existing reality, this briefing would have become the basis of all future climate negotiations and discussions. Of course, that is not the world we live in. Rather, we live in a world of unfettered illusion that is fed and fetishized by a feast of denial, apathy, subservience, obedience, consumption and distraction.

Leading up to COP15, the institutionalized environmental “movement” united under an umbrella organization/campaign titled TckTckTck, a social media giant, contrived by some of the world’s most powerful corporations and the world’s most powerful marketing executives. (The trademark TckTckTck was registered, on November 30, 2009, by the EURO RSCG firm, a subsidiary of Havas Worldwide). [1] One such TckTckTck partner was the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change consisting of corporations such as Shell, RBF and Coca-Cola. (Signatories here) When this information was uncovered and made public, TckTckTck removed them from their website. (See screenshot).

The Demands

“350 ppm is a death sentence … The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States ) is around 260 parts per million …” CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 PPM, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.” – AOSIS Briefing 2009

Despite the “demands” by the hope industry for a “fair, ambitious, binding agreement” which consisted of an inadequate 40% global emission reductions by 2020 – with no disclosed baseline, the G77, AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States), and the Bolivian government (under the leadership of Indigenous President Evo Morales) aggressively pursued the scientific targets necessary in order for the world to avoid complete ecological collapse and a global genocide of unparalleled proportions. This empty demand of a “fair, ambitious, binding agreement” was the marketing centre of the campaign that grew from that oligarchy’s wet dream, the corporate social engineering creation, TckTckTck.

Bolivia and the AOSIS called for an agreement to keep the global temperature from exceeding no more than a 1ºC rise and to reduce atmospheric CO2 to 300 ppm. [AOSIS Briefing 2009: “350 ppm is a death sentence … The safe level of CO2 for SIDS (Small Island Developing States ) is around 260 parts per million …” CO2 buildup must be reversed, not allowed to increase or even be stabilized at 350 PPM, which would amount to a death sentence for coral reefs, small island developing states, and billions of people living along low lying coastlines.] [2] In stark contrast, the corporate NGOs “demanded” that temperatures not exceed a +2ºC and further “demanded” that world emissions peak within 8 years (meaning that emissions would continue to increase, business as usual, until, up to a further 8 years at which point we would begin an effort to decrease). TckTckTck includes over 350 international partners (280 in 2009) including Avaaz, 350.org (who signed on in inception-see HAVAS pager/press release), Conservation International, Greenpeace International, World Wildlife Fund (and many more pro-REDD advocates and climate-wealth profiteers) as well as Climate Action Network International [3] who represents (and speaks on behalf of) over 700 NGOs. CAN also lobbies governments for REDD – a false solution that breeds a new form of climate racism. [In 2009 the evolving data from the IPCC revealed that at an increase of temperature just below 2 degrees above pre-industrial level, the poor, the vulnerable and the disenfranchised would not survive, and below 1.5 degrees there would be a chance of survival.]

Regarding the issue of human rights and climate justice, the hundreds of corporate NGOs – by campaigning to convince the public to accept the global average temperature further rising up to a 2ºC limit – thereby sanctioned/sanctions most all species on this planet to an unprecedented annihilation within decades. [Note: Consider that at under +1ºC, we are already committed to a minimum +2.4ºC not including feedbacks: Ramanathan and Feng 2008 paper. Further, note climate scientist James Hansen’s warning that even 1ºC now looks like an unacceptably high risk.]

While the non-profit industrial complex, including the vast majority of the climate justice movement may have succeeded in keeping both their eyes wide shut, leaders of vulnerable countries did not. [Who Really Leads on the Environment? The “Movement” Versus Evo Morales]

 Truth

Artist: Abezgus E.V., Koretsky V.B. , Title: Neo- colonialism is nation’s robbery, Year: 1965

“I would rather die with my dignity than sign a deal that will channel my people into a furnace.” – Lumumba Di-Aping

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 – Lumumba 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, 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 to 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 no more than 1.5ºC. These targets, if met, would allow Africa to quite simply – 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 Africa people – 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) (CAN) representatives.

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 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 2ºC and their other suicidal (non)targets. The climate justice groups dared to demand that temperatures did not exceed 1.5ºC on occasion, 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 acquiescence 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 sceptics. 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].”

 

Video:

Raw Footage, Lumumba Di-Aping, December 11, 2009 [Running time: 12:30]

Three days earlier, on December 8, 2009, a meeting comprised of approximately 100 African representatives of the non-profit industrial complex was announced. At the onset of this impromptu gathering (which also included a small handful of African parliamentarians) it was requested by the organizers that all microphones were to be turned off in order to ensure that discussions about to take place would not be recorded. (It must be noted that Di-Aping made a point of turning his microphone on.) Following introductions, Di-Aping was given the floor. Standing before the audience, Di-Aping was still. Initially he did not speak. Rather, he sat silent, as tears streamed down his face. After a long silence, Di-Aping spoke in unabashed candor. He cradled his head in his hands and stated: “We have been asked to sign a suicide pact.” The silence was deafening. The audience froze. People had no idea of how one should react to a powerful negotiator, an African elder if you like, exhibiting – in fact sharing – his raw emotions.

“[This] is asking Africa to sign a suicide pact, an incineration pact in order to maintain the economic dependence of a few countries. It’s a solution based on values that funnelled six million people in Europe into furnaces.” – Lumumba Di-Aping commenting on the (non-binding) Copenhagen accord

After regaining his composure, in methodical tone, Di-Aping meticulously explained the science demonstrating why the  2ºC target being sought by the leading obstructionist states was not only certain death for Africa, but also representative of a new type of climate fascism being imposed on the African people. Di-Aping pointed out that the African negotiating delegations were weak, due to many having been “bought off” by the industrialised states, while simultaneously members of the South Africa delegation had aggressively sought to disrupt the unity of the bloc. Di-Aping, stressing the urgent need to hold Africa’s negotiators to account and the difficult struggle ahead, was unequivocal in his assessment bluntly stating “you have no idea of the powers that are arrayed against you”.

One example of a foundation serving as a front group for US industrialists cited by Di-Aping was the Climate Works Foundation. The CEO of Climate Works is William K. Reilly. Prior to his position with Climate Works, Reilly served as the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, president of the World Wildlife Fund, president of The Conservation Foundation, and director of the Rockefeller Task Force on Land Use and Urban Growth. As well, he headed the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development in Rio in 1992.

Di-Aping called upon the NGOs to demand their African leaders reject the agreement and further, to make very clear demands. Di-Aping suggesting campaigning on the slogans: “One Africa, one degree” and “Two degrees is suicide”.

After the meeting was concluded, Di-Aping apologized to those present explaining that as a child in Sudan, he was taught that it was “better to stand and cry than to walk away.”

Plato’s Climate Justice

It is beyond obvious that the word justice loses all of its meaning when the “climate justice” movement refuses to, 1) Support what is necessary in order for the world’s most vulnerable to simply survive, and, 2) Refuses to represent those on the front lines of climate change who have pleaded with them to represent the interests of the world’s most vulnerable. In Plato’s Republic, Thrasymachus argues that justice is mere trickery – the interest of the strong – nothing more than a name for what the powerful elites or cunning ruler has imposed on the people. This description seems to fit like a velvet glove within this context.

It is interesting to note that the taping of this conference can be found under Rockefeller’s 1Sky (now officially/publicly merged with 350.org) video archives where they highlight under the description: “Pt. 1 includes sections ‘Introduction’, ‘Importance of 1.5 degrees C and 350ppm’, and ‘Unacceptable targets and resulting deaths’. In both parts 2 and 3 as well as other video clips of this same press conference, 1Sky neglects to make mention of Di-Aping’s scathing comments regarding the conduct of the NGOs. Thus, 1Sky/350.org provides an inadequate description of the press conference to those they falsely claim to represent – purposely neglecting to highlight the significant fact that the G77 had requested NGOs campaign on the absolute necessity of deep and immediate emissions cuts. There is no disputing the fact that 1Sky/350.org et al purposely rejected these ambitious emissions targets.

Of little surprise was the fact that corporate media gave no coverage to the Di-Aping press conference. The so-called “progressive” media, incidentally also funded by the corporate elites via their tax-exempt foundations was also silent when it came to sharing the very critical issues Di-Aping had spoken of on the international stage. Controlling, manipulating and shaping public opinion has never been such a good investment. It has never been so easy. Ironically, the same “dirty oil money” that funds the “polluters” as decried by “the left” is the same “dirty oil money” that funds the environmental movement – even the “scruffy little outfits” have lined up to get a taste of the candy. And once they taste it – they’re hooked, bought and sold – all in one breath.

As to be expected, the corporate creation TckTckTck also buried the Di-Aping press conference. TckTckTck boasts 17 million followers. “Followers” is indeed an appropriate description – like sheep to the slaughter. TckTckTck can ask 17 million followers to buy a video game for 9.99 to “save the planet” yet they will not and cannot distribute any reports of relevance. 350.org, which claims to have “the most powerful brand in the world”, did not share Di-Aping’s pleas. 350.org promotes climate scientist James Hansen as their “350 messenger” in order to legitimize their “brand”, yet they will not and cannot distribute Hansen’s scientist papers (or even summaries) to their “followers”. Climate Action Network (CAN) International, “representing” over 700 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) did not share Di-Aping’s pleas. Nor did the climate justice movement itself.

The stakes, for all life on the planet, surpass those of any previous crisis humanity has ever witnessed. The disappearance of the 1ºC maximum temperature rise cited in 1990 by the United Nations may well be considered the greatest crime against humanity of all time. [http://theartofannihilation.com/category/articles-2010/expose-the-2o-death-dance-the-1o-cover-up-part-i/] The greatest danger we face today is continued ignorance, denial and obedience, as methane torches erupt and ice sheets disintegrate at an ever accelerating pace.

One may wonder if grossly undermining the ambitious positions put forward by Bolivia, ALBA states, the G77 and small island states was part of the ‘critical work’ the non-profit industrial complex speaks of.

In fact, it was.

What the public, and tragically, what remains in the charred ashes of the environmental movement itself, neglects to understand is that the critical work that the non-profit industrial complex performs brilliantly, is not work to advance civil society, who these self-appointed NGOS falsely claim to represent. Rather, the critical work performed in the spirit of “bread and circuses” is for those whom the non-profit industrial complex serves first and foremost – that of their funders.

The Movement is Racist  

“It is unfortunate that after 500 years-plus of interaction with the West, we [Africans] are still considered disposables.” – Lumumba Di-Aping

The question must be asked: was this deliberate dismissal of Lumumba Di-Aping’s briefing nothing more than blatant racism? The short answer to this question is an unequivocal yes.

An underlying, perhaps subconscious, yet very real deep-rooted racism (or at least a complete obliviousness to that which is considered the “other”) very quietly hums along beneath the entire system – resulting in the Euro-American dominated environmental “movement” acquiescing to the industrialized capitalist system. Thus the reality of those oppressed and exploited on the receiving end of the system is an inconvenient fact that is ignored at all costs by practically everyone (predominantly the privileged white) within the complex.

“Aversive racism is a term coined by Joel Kovel to describe the subtle racial behaviors of any ethnic or racial group act who rationalize their aversion to a particular group based on majority rules and stereotypes. People who behave in an aversively racial way have beliefs in egalitarianism, but will often deny their racially motivated behavior, or shift behavior when dealing with a member of a minority group. Most of this behavior is considered to be implicit or subconscious. Though Kovel coined the term, most of the research has been done by John F. Dovidio and Samuel L. Gaertner.” [Source: Wikipedia]

There is no other sound explanation which can explain how those who state they are “fighting” for “climate justice” were/are willing to undermine countries like Bolivia, Tuvalu and the G77, AOSIS and ALBA states, with a full understanding that millions more lives will be lost. The true grassroots organizations that actually tell the full truth and fight for what is necessary (Earth Peoples, and Global Coral Reef Alliance as just two examples) are marginalized and isolated to the point of invisibility by the complex.

There is no other sound explanation which can explain the dead silence on the ongoing genocide in the Congo since 1996. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, President Hyppolite Kanambe (alias Joseph Kabila) of the Congo are the three “leaders”  facilitating the western pillage and occupation of Central Africa, responsible in large part for over ten million people dead since the U.S.-backed invasion of 1996. Of course, these are the African faces of western occupation and imperialism. [3]This genocide far exceeds that of the Holocaust, which to this day, is seared into the minds of all Euro-American societies. Yet the question must be asked, what if these men, women and children of the Congo were white?After 19 years of suffering and death, the Congo remains locked under illegal occupation by the Imperialist powers including the United Nations itself.

On September 11, 2001, 3,000 people, predominately white Americans, were killed when the twin towers were destroyed. This operation opened up the door for an unparalleled slaughter in the Middle East which only continues to escalate.The illegal occupations and covert wars (Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan) are now expanding far beyond Iraq, Afghanistan, most recently with the invasion and decimation of Libya (2011) resulting in as many or more than one hundred thousand deaths. This NATO-led imperialist invasion under the guise of “humanitarian intervention” instilled and incited a most horrific and unimaginable racial “cleansing” of the black population, including black women, whose breasts were cut off their bodies with machetes. Not only was the NGO community silent, 78 NGOS (again,predominantly white) led the way for the invasion. When the “evidence” (which provided premise for NATO entry into the country)presented by the NGOs was proven false, was the International community horrified?Did the NGOs apologize profusely for their pivotal role in the slaughter and annihilation of an entire country, which, prior to the invasion, possessed the best living standards in all of Africa? No.Not on your life. Instead, they are adamant to carry out a repeat performance in Syria. Yet another imperialist imposed destabilization. And when an Italian grass-roots anti-war group organized an urgent appeal to the UN to demand the opposite – no foreign intervention – and distributed it to the international community of NGOs, how receptive was “the movement”? Although the U.S. and Canada have been integral in placing sanctions upon Syria, with the U.S. chomping a the bit to invade, only one organization in Canada and one single organization in the United States endorsed this appeal, in spite of an urgent call-out for signatures including distribution within an international climate justice network. This is important to note as the so-called climate justice movement has full knowledge of militarism’s massive contribution to our escalating climate crisis.

Also in 2011, the non-profit industrial complex was integral to an attempted destabilization of Bolivia. The NGOS (Avaaz, Amazon Watch, Democracy Center) who led/lead this charge (demonizing Indigenous president Evo Morales) excel in the manipulation of the public while money channeled from US powers (state and foundations) via USAID and CIDOB (Confederación de Pueblos Indígenas del Oriente Boliviano) focus on coercion and manipulation within Indigenous populations, utilizing soft power where tensions may currently already exist. Hard power is the strategy of coercion via force, whereas soft power is coercing via manipulation and seduction – like a slow, methodical, death dance. There are no organizations in a better position to employ soft power methods than those that comprise the non-profit industrial complex.

The non-profit industrial complex has become an essential tool for the power hungry imperialist states, ever more threatened by the increasing rise of the global south who resolutely, in unity, work towards severing the chains of enslavement, imperialism and colonialism, once and for all. A long-term strategic objective of Western policy planners is to prevent such independence by any means necessary. Thus, the destruction of any/all independent sovereign states (such as Libya, Syria, Iran, etc) and the destabilisation, isolation and encirclement of the rising global powers (in particular China and Russia) is pivotal. Further, the welfare of the people is of absolutely no concern to those who salivate in the wings, waiting for the opportune moment to invade under the guise of humanitarian intervention. Puppet governments installed by the imperialist states serve not the citizens (who are completely irrelevant in the eyes of the corporatocracy,) but rather provide a false legitimacy for the occupation of the seized state in order to grant business contracts to the colonial powers and global corporations while privatising all services. Case in point: Despite the Congo being the world’s largest supplier of both copper and coltan, and many other precious minerals, the total tax revenue on these products in 2006-7 amounted to a miniscule £32 million. “This is surely far less than what even the most useless neo-colonial puppet would have demanded.” [Source: http://www.gata.org/node/5651]

Also Ignored by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex at COP15

  • UNFCC was already, a binding agreement. (Kyoto Protocol)
  • The world was already far beyond dangerous according to both James Hansen and John Holdren.
  • Although tipping points were most always spoke of in the future-tense, methane hydrates had already began venting, shocking the scientific community.
  • Bolivia’s position paper cited that global temperatures must not exceed 1C and the world must return to 300ppm. Ignoring Bolivia’s leadership, the “movement” called for a full degree higher (2C) and 350ppm which is in fact considered the very upper limit / maximum limit for mere stabilization by James Hansen.
  • The fact that climate scientist Kevin Anderson warned the world that by 2050 a mere half billion people would perhaps survive (based on 4C global temp – which is our current minimum trajectory, and a population of 9 billion).
  • That only by achieving zero carbon (as recognized by IPCC) can the earth even begin to cool.
  • That the Ranathon & Feng paper suggests we are committed today to a minimum 2.4C even if we were to achieve zero emissions tomorrow.
  • That feedbacks, once they are fully operational, are irreversible.
  • That militarism (whose emissions are exempted) is one of the primary contributors to climate change. “My view is that the climate has already crossed at least one tipping point, about 1975-1976, and is now at a runaway state, implying that only emergency measures have a chance of making a difference.… The costs of all of the above would require diversion of the trillions of dollars from global military expenditures to environmental mitigation.” — Andrew Glikson, Earth/paleoclimate scientist
  • That industrialized livestock contributes over 50% of all GHG emissions.
  • That the industrialist capitalist system is the very root cause of climate change. The climate crisis can neither be solved nor averted within this economic system.

After COP15  – The Peoples Agreement

Why is it that the video of Venezuela’s fiery Claudia Salerno, who refused to stay silent on the bribery and blackmailing taking place within the COP17 corridors, was not publicized by the movement? Why is it that Bolivia’s Forest Proposal received/receives no support from “the movement”? (instead they chase the REDD scheme, which is being opposed by indigenous groups across the planet) Why is it, even though “the movement” claims it wants real action on climate change, they absolutely refuse to endorse the People’s Agreement? [4] Further, the same question must be put to civil society: Why is it, although civil society claims to want real action on climate change, they are only interested in symbolic organizations and meaningless tokens? Why do we have 17 million citizens following TckTckTck and 438 following the People’s Agreement? Surely civil society must acknowledge that these are the choices we make; that we make alone. No one has a gun to our heads (yet). Is it simply because the world’s most powerful NGOs are composed of largely white “leaders”? We claim disgust at symbolic, empty gestures, yet, when given the choice of what we wish to support; the People’s Agreement or the meaningless “fair, ambitious, binding agreement” we fall over one another lusting after the shiny green patina which emulates the American empire – an empire of death, racism, genocide, and colonialism. And like the empire, with the other rich nations, the international NGO community believes that they are the chosen ones, in control of the world. The champagne circuit is alive, well, wealthy – and predominantly white.

Video:

Capitalism as Pathology: The Illusory “Green Economy” vs People Solutions

Further Irony

In 1990 an international NGO believed policy must reflect that the world must not exceed a 1C temperature rise. Approximately two decades later, with a full climate crisis now engulfing the planet, this same NGO “fought” in Copenhagen for a binding agreement that would allow the Earth to further warm to a full 2C. Who was this NGO? None other than TckTckTck partner Greenpeace, who, at its helm sits Kumi Naidoo. And who is the chair of TckTckTck? Kumi Naidoo. The token black of the non-profit industrial complex, donned with a white mask – the non-profit version of Obama.

Today

Consider the vulgarity of this following fact. 1% of Earths citizens are creating 50% of the global GHG emissions. This means that the 99.9% of the  non-profit industrial complex and those they protect, in others words, most all those attending the United Nations Conferences on behalf of the wealthy states, are the very ones demanding they be allowed to continue unprecedented gluttony. In the opposite corner, we have Bolivia, many of the African states, and ALBA states – a collective of the poorest people on the planet (in a monetary sense) – whose emissions are almost irrelevant, pleading with us to live within reason – simply so they can live at all. Some would describe this a call for simple decency. While to deny a populace to simply live may appear to be normal conduct for state “leaders”, the fact the professional “activists” uphold the same doctrine demonstrates unequivocally everything can be justified and anyone is disposable when it comes to protecting white privilege.

Today, three years later at COP18, Bolivia, once more leads on the world stage. Alone. Again. One would be hard pressed to find even one organization endorsing or promoting Bolivia’s alternate proposal to REDD or any other futurist ideologies Bolivia has put forward to share with the world – this from one of the most poverty-ridden states in the world. Although poor monetarily, Bolivia’s unsurpassed wealth of knowledge, compassion and visionary philosophies make clear that in reality it is the Euro-American mindset that is pitiful, starved and depraved.

2ºC = 4ºC = Omnicide

“Truth is treason in an empire of lies.” – George Orwell

Today, states and complying scientists are quietly recommending a 2ºC to 2.5ºC target; although most subtle, this target is now to be perceived and thus portrayed as transient warming. Meaning it is not being thought of/identified any longer as equilibrium warming, such as the specific 1996 EU target. This means that “experts” (influential institutions and scientific bodies who obediently kowtow the line) are now in effect recommending we heat the planet to 4ºC. While Professor Kevin Anderson explains that to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts, 1ºC is the new 2ºCand while climate scientist James Hansen states unequivocally that 1ºC is the true danger limit, we are now being prepared to submissively accept 4ºC. The fact is that to avoid 2ºC equilibrium we must limit warming to no more than 1ºC this century. [5] We either drastically conserve and sacrifice today or bury our children tomorrow. And of course, we cannot hold the temperature at 1ºC under the current economic system – that of the industrialized capitalist system – the very root cause of our climate crisis. The crisis is profound and unprecedented. Collectively, we steadfast refuse to acknowledge the severity of our multiple crises, our most daunting of challenges and the harshest of realities – all staring at us directly in the face. We look back only to see ourselves.

Why it Matters

“NGOs of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your funding” – Ashwin Desai

The so-called environmental movement refuses to acknowledge, let alone discuss the fact it’s been bought, sold, muzzled and now lies in ruins in a pile of ashes. Civil society remains largely unaware of this truth, let alone the key factors behind it. And this in itself is tragic, because this issue is one of the key factors as to why we, as a global society, have failed to mitigate our environmental crisis, and why we continue to advance further to the very precipice. Yet, trained from birth to not challenge authority, to not offend, to be obedient, to be polite – we remain silent. Yes, impeccable manners, avoid conflict, and above all, do not question those who “know best”. Our deeply internalized passivism is as great a threat as the forthcoming climate apocalypse itself.

Ignorance really is bliss and I do want change as long as that means nothing really changes. Please pass the soma.

Implications

The implications are many. It is clear that those who claim non-profit status on the basis they represent civil society, clearly do not. This then presents the question as to who elected these NGOs who falsely claim to represent civil society, all while serving corporate interests? The logical question that then follows, the question that must be asked is, what constitutes criminal negligence? If countries like Bolivia and G77 are prepared to take the radical, necessary positions to avert annihilation, what does this say about our environmental movement who resolutely undermine them? If we dismiss this factual information, what does this disclose about ourselves? Do we deserve anything more than the representation we are receiving if we deny the facts? Finally, how can governments expect to take the necessary positions, if when they do, they do not receive the support of civil society?

Lastly, what the hell do we expect when our entire movement is funded by the very same interests that are intent on destroying us? We need to stop defending and finding excuses for those selling us out and start defending our children from a future being shaped and moulded by the global oligarchy. We can’t have it both ways.

“So, I want just to say join hands with those of us who really want a real change, because I’m confident it will come.  And it will come, let me say this, whether you do or don’t.  But let it not be the case that western civil society sided with the powers that be in the West.  Thank you. [Thundering Applause]”– Lumumba Di-Aping

In the volumes of information that will be left on our finite planet when all traces of life, have, for the most part disappeared, the film footage of Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus-Kaw Di-Aping of the G77, will serve as a testament as to who was in large part, responsible for: criminal negligence; crimes against humanity; and finally, lastly, a global genocide destroying most all life – that of the non-profit industrial complex.

Cory Morningstar is climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on Canadians for Action on Climate Change and The Art of Annihilation site where you can read her bio. You can follow her on Twitter: @elleprovocateur

Notes:

Briefing to Civil Society NGOs by Ambassador Lumumba Stanislaus Di-Aping. December 11th, 2009.

Full transcript:

Thank you for, I suppose, inviting me to address you this afternoon. As you know, the last few days since the beginning of this conference we have witnessed many events. I’m going to go very quickly through what I do consider to be the most critical aspects for a successful outcome in this conference. And this is of particular importance to us. We do believe that civil society and the parliament have a very critical role for our success. Without you the executive branches can get away with anything.

Now, what do we really believe are the critical success factors that we have to unite behind, because these are not simply negotiable for us as developing countries.

The first fundamental that we have to agree on at 5(4) is the issue of the 1.5 degree Celsius and the 350 ppm. And the centrality of this is because a deal that cannot save God, humanity and nature is not a deal that we should entertain in the first place. Those who articulated a perspective and tried to persuade us that the 2 degrees Celsius is a sound choice have made a trade off between life, humanity, and profit-seeking pursuits. It has no base in science. The very reports that they try to persuade us that they are based on, do not support their case. The IPCC AR4 [4th Assessment Report] says that two degrees Celsius will result in Africa warming up to 3.5[C] and the small islands states equally being threatened by the sea level rise. I will say this and I will say it with absolute conviction. Two degrees Celsius is certain death for Africa, is certain devastation of island states.

The policy decision maker, the scientists who try to do that, is definitely not only ill-advising others, he is ill-advising himself. So that’s one fundamental, if not the starting proposition for beginning sound negotiations and discussions.

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 this is one of the reasons we have asked the American administration, the American people, President Obama to join the effort and to join Kyoto Protocol.

We must defend Kyoto Protocol. And those who think that not defending Kyoto Protocol is the way forward are totally misguided because if you eliminate the balance of obligations between developed and developing countries — 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.

Having said that, we do believe equally that a very significant, substantial financial package, both for short term and long term, is necessary. How do we define that?  Simple.  We must avail, or developed countries must avail in the next 5 years, fast track financing. That fast track financing is the equivalent of 1% of the GNP of developed countries. It’s around 400 to 500 billion dollars depending on where … what happens to their economies. Of this, 150 billion dollars can be issued with immediate effect because, as we speak today, the IMF is sitting over 283 billion dollars’ worth of SDR’s [Special Drawing Rights or supplementary foreign exchange reserve assets defined and maintained by the International Monetary Fund] that are not allocated.  Simply sitting doing absolutely nothing, when we face a threat.

Many of you would say 400 billion dollars is a lot of money.  Well, think about how much is being poured into your defence budgets and which wars are you fighting.  Is there another war greater than this war on climate change?  I don’t think so. But let me equally give you the fallacy related to how big this amount is.  The European [Union] today were proud to announce that there would be 2.3 billion or 2.5 billion dollars available from now until 2012. Well, the sad news is 300 billion dollars was the amount of money that bankers in London city pocketed this year.

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 sceptics. 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.

Moreover, would you believe that, what is important here, in this particular conference, is decision making. There is a lot of fallacy being spread that we need a new legal instrument. Well, a decision is a legal instrument. A court decision is binding. An executive decision is binding.

A legal instrument means that you as civil society are choosing that there shall be no actions for another 15 to 20 years. Think about the journey from the Stockholm Conference to the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change]. How many years did it take the environmentalists to convince many decision makers that right action on environment is actually the pursuit of greener, low-carbon, carbon emissions?

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]. [Applause]

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.

Now, I want to go back to other issues because it’s critical that we be very clear to each other. United States and United States people and United States civil society have a very important role to play. One reason is because United States is P1 [pledge 1? page 1?]. Another reason is because United States is the greatest emitter, historically and by per capita. And it is important because it wields huge power, both of influence and of signalling direction.

And that basically [is] what led us to conclude and call upon President Obama to join the Kyoto Protocol.  We understand the difficulties he is in.  The deep sense of conservative isolationism.  It’s an American phenomenon that you all know. United States was reluctant to do anything during the catastrophe of the Second World War, until Churchill managed to persuade them to join in. But when they joined, peace prevailed and came into existence in Europe.  They have this notion of exceptionalism. And that I think, this day, is to think of ourselves as one human family.

I thought that [is] what the United States signalled when they voted President Obama into office.  So notwithstanding the difficulties in the United States, I think any simple analysis makes one conclude that the problem is not with the Congress, the problem is with the conservative laggard of an industrial complex. So we have to, you have to, play an important role to persuade your Congress and to move forward. Join hands with those children who wrote a letter to President Obama to join, to preserve Kyoto Protocol.

And I want to say something else.  We should stop, equally, pushing this notion that the world must continue along the conflict and misguided sense of competition between the Occidentals and the Orientals … that China is the obstacle [right here?]. Three things we say about China and you all know about it. There are more poor people in China than in the entire of Africa. The only way to help China reduce rapidly its emissions is to help it through transfer of technology. Rapid transfer of technology in order to reduce emissions. Because the third neck of this argument: the poor Chinese have arrived, which we must support and that is [the why?] to development.

The conservative thinking that it’s all about nationalists trying to take advantage or starting a competitive advantage is not going to happen.  So what I ask of Obama is to join as a president, as the leader of the industrialized nations, is to join Kyoto Protocol, is to refuse a deal based on 2% [degrees] that would condemn Africa and small islands to death, and to help finance the global deal on climate change.

Remember what the United States did, after the war, to Europe.  The United States then was … had the size of 66% of the global economy. They launched a Marshall Plan.  The Marshall Plan was 3.2% of the U.S. economy.  And that in addition to the fact, when you factor in the fact that Europe had the capacity and the know-how, you can see that the total package necessary as a starting point for addressing climate change, from public finance, is not less than 5%. And it’s commonsensical. Think about it in this way, without going into economics. If you have a house that has decayed or if you have a school in your neighbourhood that has been built or infected by asbestos, how much would it cost to repair?  It’s not less than 30% of the price of that.

So, I do believe that if the United States did that before, President Obama should follow in that tradition and say to the rest of the world, “We are able. We have more than sufficient financing and capital to help, not only the poor, but to help ourselves because ultimately after we are destroyed, there will be many Katrinas [hurricanes] in the United States.

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].

And I do want you to ask President Obama a simple question. Because as much as he’s an American citizen, he is an extended citizen, if there is such a notion, of Africa.  Then doesn’t that lay on him any moral obligation to do what he can?  Shouldn’t he commit to the principles of which many of us find ourselves fascinated and grateful that there is somebody like him today being the president of United States. Because if it’s because his advisors are part and parcel of the Bush administration, or the [regularized?] Democrats, then he should do something about that. He is the president after all.  If it’s because he is thinking that this will save his political life for a next term, then inaction will actually lead to the opposite. A leader acts, a leader helps formulate the right policies, the right direction. That’s why one is a leader.  A leader takes the toughest stance.  If health care is so important and he is fighting that battle, climate change is as 100 times more important and it is your job as American civil society to help build that momentum. Yes, your task is a tough one because you’re moving from a very low base, but that’s part of life.

We will not give up because the West have power, absolute power, and accept whatever choices they will make.  We will continue to defend the interests of our people and the whole world.  This equally applies with Australians, New Zealand and Japan and many other developed countries’ leaders. Many of them have been elected for office because they claim they support climate change, but then you have to give it to the lobbyists — they are definitely smooth operators. They twist their minds in such a short time that somebody like Kevin Rudd suddenly  moves from where he was, somebody who in Bali was the only prime minister who came to Bali to say “Climate change matters.”  And then his delegation here is the complete opposite of that.

So, I want just to say join hands with those of us who really want a real change, because I’m confident it will come.  And it will come, let me say this, whether you do or don’t.  But let it not be the case that western civil society sided with the powers that be in the West.  Thank you. [Applause]

[1] SIGNIFICANT OMISSIONS IN TCKTCKTCK: Demands in the TckTckTck (http://tcktcktck.org) campaign for COP15, the organizers, allies and partners were calling for developed states to reduce developed country emissions by at least 40% by 2020. While most developed and developing states were calling for developed states to use 1990 as a baseline, the TckTckTck campaign did not have a baseline. Consequently what they were calling for was way below what developing states were demanding. How could an NGO campaign have a percentage reduction without a base-line date? In the TckTckTck campaign demands it was stated: “Reduce developed country emissions by at least 40% by 2020”. Is that from 2009 levels? or Canadian 2006 levels, or US 2005 levels? It is far from what most of the developing states wanted, at least 45% from 1990 levels. Apart for calling for stabilization by 2015, the tcktcktck campaign had no commitment for subsequent years, such as calling the reduction of global emissions by at least 95% from 1990 levels by 2050. The TckTckTck campaign was silent on a 2050 commitment. The Key issues at COP15 were i) the need for a common baseline such as 1990, and the need for developed states to commit to high percentage reduction of greenhouse gases from the 1990 baseline, and ii) the urgent demand to not have the temperature rise exceed 1degree above preindustrialized levels and to return to no more than 300ppm. The tcktcktck campaign seriously undermined the necessary, bold targets as advanced by many of the developing states.

[2] LOW LYING ISLANDS AND COASTLINES CAN TAKE NO FURTHER SEA LEVEL RISE. THE “TARGETS” OF 1.5 DEGREES C RISE AND 350 PPM CO2 ARE A DEATH SENTENCE FOR CORAL REEFS AND A SUICIDE PACT FOR LOW LYING ISLANDS AND COASTS.SUMMARY: THE LONG-TERM SEA LEVEL THAT CORRESPONDS TO CURRENT CO2 CONCENTRATION IS ABOUT 23 METERS ABOVE TODAY?S LEVELS, AND THE TEMPERATURES WILL BE 6 DEGREES C OR MORE HIGHER. THESE ESTIMATES ARE BASED ON REAL LONG TERM CLIMATE RECORDS, NOT ON MODELS. WE HAVE NOT YET FELT THE CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS OF THE CURRENT EXCESS OF GREENHOUSE GASES PRODUCED BY FOSSIL FUELS, AND THE DATA SHOWS THEY WILL IN THE LONG RUN BE MANY TIMES HIGHER THAN IPCC MODELS PROJECT. IN ORDER TO PREVENT THESE LONG TERM CHANGES CO2 MUST BE STABILIZED AT LEVELS BELOW PREINDUSTRIAL VALUES, AROUND 260 PARTS PER MILLION. CO2 BUILDUP MUST BE REVERSED, NOT ALLOWED TO INCREASE OR EVEN BE STABILIZED AT 350 PPM, WHICH WOULD AMOUNT TO A DEATH SENTENCE FOR CORAL REEFS, SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES, AND BILLIONS OF PEOPLE LIVING ALONG LOW LYING COASTLINES. THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT ALL THE TOOLS FOR REVERSING GLOBAL WARMING AND REDUCING CO2 TO SAFE LEVELS ARE READY, PROVEN, AND COST EFFECTIVE, BUT ARE NOT BEING SERIOUSLY USED DUE TO LACK OF POLICIES AND FUNDING. [AOSIS Briefing 2009: “350 PPM IS A DEATH SENTENCE FOR CORAL REEFS AND LOW LYING ISLANDS, THE SAFE LEVEL OF CO2 FOR SIDS IS AROUND 260 PARTS PER MILLION”]The author is President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, an international NGO for restoration of coral reefs, and a member of the Jamaican delegation to UNCCC. Previously he was Senior Scientific Affairs Officer at the United Nations Centre for Science and Technology for Development, in charge of Global Climate Change and Biodiversity issues, where he contributed to the original draft of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Dr. Goreau developed the HotSpot method used for the last 20 years to predict coral bleaching from satellite data. He was educated in Jamaican schools, MIT (BSc in Planetary Physics), Caltech (MSc in Planetary Astronomy), and Harvard (PhD in Biogeochemistry). He has swum and dived on reefs around the world since he was a small child, including most SIDS. His father was the first marine scientist in the world to use diving as a research tool and founded the Marine Science Program at the University of the West Indies.

[3] The founding of the Climate Action Network (CAN) in 1988 can be traced back to the early players in the ENGO community, including Michael Oppenheimer of the corporate NGO, Environmental Defense Fund. CAN is a global network of over 700 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The stated goal of CAN is to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. This goal is severely problematic in (at minimum) 2 fundamental ways: 1) There is no such thing as “ecologically sustainable levels” of climate change, and 2) as opposed to states having to respond to approximately 300 groups demanding action on climate change, states instead bask in the comfort of having to deal with only one (that of CAN), which essentially demands little to nothing. CAN has seven regional coordinating offices that coordinate these efforts in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Europe, Latin America, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Members include organizations from around the globe, including the largest corporate greens such as World Wildlife Fund [WWF], Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

[4] The exemplary People’s Agreement emerged from the April 2010 conference in Cochabamba, Bolivia. It was endorsed by over 35,000 representatives of civil society, indigenous peoples and various states. During the year, the Bolivian Ambassador to the UN, participated in numerous UN processes under the UNFCCC, and valiantly struggled  to include the conclusions of Cochabamba People`s Agreement  in the negotiating documents. The main conclusions of the World Peoples Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (Cochabamba, April 2010) were incorporated in the document of United Nations on Climate Change that became recognized as a negotiation text for the 192 countries that congregated in Bonn, Germany, during the first week august of 2010. The most important points that were incorporated for its consideration in the negotiations before Cancun, that took place in China were: 1) 50 % reduction of greenhouse gasses emission by developed countries for second period of commitments from the Kyoto Protocol years 2013 to 2017.2) Stabilize the rise of temperature to 1 C and 300 ppm of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 3) To guarantee an equitable distribution of atmospheric space, taking into account the climate debt of emissions by developed countries for developing countries. 4) Full respect for the Human Rights and the inherent rights of indigenous peoples, women, children and migrants. 5) Full recognition to the United Nations Declaration on of Indigenous Peoples Rights. 6) Recognition and defense of the rights of Mother Earth to ensure harmony with nature. 7) Guarantee the fulfillment of the commitments from the developed countries though the building of an International Court of Climate Justice. 8) Rejection to the new mechanisms of carbon markets that transfer the responsibility of the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases from developed countries to developing countries. 9) Promotion of measures that change the consumption patterns of the developed countries. 10) Adoption of necessary measures in all relevant forums to be excluded from the protection of the intellectual property rights to technologies and ecologically sustainable useful to mitigate climate change. 11) Developed countries will allocate 6% of their national gross product to actions relatives to Climate Change. 12) Integrated management of forest, to mitigation and adaptation, without market mechanics and ensuring the full participation of indigenous peoples and local communities. 13) Prohibition of the conversion of natural forest for plantations, since the monoculture plantations are not forest, instead should encourage the protection and conservation of natural forests. [Source: Joan Russow, PEJ News]

[5] [The equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) refers to the equilibrium change in global mean near-surface air temperature that would result from a sustained doubling of the atmospheric (equivalent) carbon dioxide concentration (?Tx2). This value is estimated, by the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) as likely to be in the range 2 to 4.5 °C with a best estimate of about 3 °C, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5 °C. Values substantially higher than 4.5 °C cannot be excluded, but agreement of models with observations is not as good for those values. This is a change from the IPCC Third Assessment Report (TAR), which said it was “likely to be in the range of 1.5 to 4.5 °C”. Other estimates of climate sensitivity are discussed later on. A model estimate of equilibrium sensitivity thus requires a very long model integration; fully equilibrating ocean temperatures requires integrations of thousands of model years. A measure requiring shorter integrations is the transient climate response (TCR) which is defined as the average temperature response over a twenty year period centered at CO2 doubling in a transient simulation with CO2 increasing at 1% per year. The transient response is lower than the equilibrium sensitivity, due to the “inertia” of ocean heat uptake]

Polishing The Brass On The Titanic: Will Paris Climate Talks Be Too Little, Too Late?

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2015 at 10:01 pm
2015.11.23.Jamail.main

A recent study revealed 41 cases in which “abrupt changes” in the permafrost, sea ice, snow cover, ocean and terrestrial biosphere could trigger natural disasters. (Photo: Studying of climatic and weather changes in Antarctica via Shutterstock)

Oldspeak:Well in advance of the Paris talks, the UN announced that the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere has locked in another 2.7 degrees Celsius warming at a minimum, even if countries move forward with the pledges they make to cut emissions. Hence, even the 2 degree Celsius goal is already unattainable. However, similar to the way in which national elections in the United States continue to maintain the illusion that this country is a democracy, and “We the People” truly have legitimate representation in Washington, DC, illusions must be maintained at the COP21.

Thus, the faux goal of 2 degrees Celsius continues to be discussed. Meanwhile, the planet burns.” -Dahr Jamail

“Short answer to the title question; Yes. Far too late and little With beyond the faux goal of 2c warming inevitable no matter what we do and non-binding contributions that in all probability will not even be implemented for years to come; why continue to pretend that COP 21 will produce anything meaningful? Kabuki Theater, nothing more. Dahr Jamail’s latest dispatch from the global climate calamity is more of the same. Shit is bad, and it’s getting worse, faster every day, with no end in sight.” -OSJ

Written By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

“But it is here at the head of the river, under the snow peaks and the waterfall that thunders down out of the magic lake, that I shall pass from one world to another.”—Peter Matthiessen

In the book The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen’s journey deep into the Nepali Himalaya to spot a snow leopard merely scratches the surface of his inner journey. Nature and our experiences in and with it are, I believe, the clearest mirror of ourselves we could ever hope for.

I told my father I’m rereading this book, and he wrote me back: “Love that book. It was a time in that part of the world when things were still pristine before tourism brought the kinds of people that should never have polluted that sacred environment.”

Agreeing with him, I shared what I’d always believed, or at least had always hoped to believe: that there are still those pristine places to be found – it is just that one must travel further, much further, into the “frontiers” to find them.

I’d love to believe this possible, but I know it no longer is. Not anymore, given what the industrial growth society has done, and is doing, to the planet. There is no place left on earth or in the atmosphere or deep within the oceans where the toxic fingerprint of industry has not left its indelible mark.

The faux goal of 2 degrees Celsius continues to be discussed. Meanwhile, the planet burns.

During the first week of December, delegations from nearly 200 countries will convene in Paris for the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) climate conference. It has been billed, like the last several, as the most important climate meeting ever. The goal, like that of past COPs, is to have governments commit to taking steps to cut carbon dioxide emissions in order to limit planetary warming to within 2 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial temperature baseline.

Yet this is a politically agreed-upon limit. It is not based on science.

Renowned climate scientist James Hansen and multiple other scientists have already shown that a planetary temperature increase of 1 degree Celsius above preindustrial baseline temperatures is enough to cause runaway climate feedback loops, extreme weather events and a disastrous sea level rise.

Furthermore, the UK meteorological office has shown that this year’s global temperature average has already surpassed that 1 degree Celsius level.

Well in advance of the Paris talks, the UN announced that the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere has locked in another 2.7 degrees Celsius warming at a minimum, even if countries move forward with the pledges they make to cut emissions. Hence, even the 2 degree Celsius goal is already unattainable. However, similar to the way in which national elections in the United States continue to maintain the illusion that this country is a democracy, and “We the People” truly have legitimate representation in Washington, DC, illusions must be maintained at the COP21.

Thus, the faux goal of 2 degrees Celsius continues to be discussed. Meanwhile, the planet burns.

Japan’s meteorological office announced that this past September was, by far, the warmest September on record, and records now show that October has also become the hottest recorded October. As a whole, 2015 remains easily on course to become the hottest year ever recorded.

As if to place an exclamation point on all of this information, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels hit a new milestone in excess of 400 parts per million in early 2015 – a 45 percent increase over preindustrial levels.

Extreme weather events propelled by anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) abound in this month’s dispatch.

Hurricane Patricia tore into the West Coast of Mexico, becoming the strongest hurricane ever recorded, with sustained winds of 200 miles per hour.

Yemen was struck by its first hurricane in recorded history, dumping what is normally a decade’s worth of rain in a matter of merely two days. As if that is not enough to show how intensely ACD is ramping up global weather events, less than a week later the second hurricane in Yemen’s recorded history made landfall, bringing fresh hurricane-force winds, torrential rains, flash flooding and death.

ACD is, quite literally, extinguishing oceanic life across the planet.

An ACD-driven El Niño brought October storms that wreaked havoc across southern California. Record storms in the high desert and mountains of the southern part of that state brought massive mudflows across major highways, which trapped hundreds of vehicles in mud that was 20 feet deep in places, stranding motorists overnight. The rainfall from the storm, which in one area fell at a rate of 1.81 inches in just 30 minutes, was described by the National Weather Service as a “1,000-year event.”

Meanwhile, a recent report shows that marine food chains are at risk of collapse due to ACD impacts, overfishing and pollution. ACD is literally erasing species from coral reefs, the open ocean, Arctic and Antarctic waters, and the tropics.

Moreover, another recent report reveals that bleaching and disease are combining to destroy the largest coral reef in the continental United States, a 150-mile reef found off the coast of Florida. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it is the third-largest barrier reef ecosystem on the planet.

A critical study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, titled “Global alteration of ocean ecosystem functioning due to increasing human CO2 emissions,” warns, “The future simplification of our oceans has profound consequences for our current way of life, particularly for coastal populations and those that rely on oceans for food and trade.”

It is yet another scientific report that shows how ACD is, quite literally, extinguishing oceanic life across the planet.

On that note, a paper recently published in The Anthropocene Review reminds us of a sobering fact that other peer-reviewed studies have confirmed: We are indeed living in the sixth mass extinction event, which we ourselves have created.

And when we look across the planet for this month’s dispatch, all of the signs appear to indicate as much.

Earth

The signs of ACD across this sector of the planet continue to be glaring.

In the South Pacific region, a full one-third of the total population of Papua New Guinea is suffering from a drought crisis that is the worst in the last century. Nearly 2.5 million people in the country must deal with a critical lack of food and water, and the drought is expected to persist at least into March 2016.

In southeast Alaska, Native communities are struggling to continue harvesting traditional foods due to ACD’s impacts in that region. From herring to blueberries to shellfish, many of the region’s original plants and animals are disappearing.

Drought continues to plague vast expanses of the planet as ACD progresses.

In nearby Canada, as well as across Alaska, much of the northern United States, Scandinavia and Eurasia, the massive boreal forests, which comprise a full one-third of the planet’s forest cover, are undergoing a startling decline due to ACD. This is evidenced by permafrost that is thawing and burning up in wildfires, insect outbreaks assaulting the forests, and climate zones that are moving 10 times faster than the forests are able to migrate. These forests are also plagued by logging and oil and gas drilling.

A recent study suggests that in the United States, we need to develop new models aimed at the conservation and preservation of our national parks. The traditional approach of setting land aside to protect its biodiversity is no longer sufficient, since ACD impacts like drought, increasing insect infestations and wildfires do not respect park boundaries.

On a similar note, the rare snow leopard from Matthiessen’s famous book is now officially in even greater danger of extinction due to ACD, as warming temperatures continue to shrink the cat’s habitat.

Across the world, ACD is also shrinking the habitat of some of the more rare birds in Hawai’i, including the yellow honeycreeper, according to a recent report. The bird’s habitat is expected to vanish completely by the end of the century.

Looking southward to colder climates, the king penguin saw a 34 percent decline in population following a year of extremely warm waters in their normally cold southern ocean environment. Their changing climate is forcing them to have to swim farther for food, causing many of them to starve to death.

Drought continues to plague vast expanses of the planet as ACD progresses.

In Ethiopia, the worst drought in a decade is wiping out the country’s agricultural sector, upon which most people there depend for their livelihood.

Stepping back and taking a broader view of drought’s global impact, the UN recently announced that it expects at least 50 million people will become refugees within just the next five years because their land is literally turning into desert.

Water

As usual, evidence of ACD’s impact abounds in the watery realms of the planet.

California faces a future that will likely bring twice as many droughts and three times as much flooding, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications. Of course, the state has its hands full with the current disastrous drought and floods – and unless drastic changes are made, these weather patterns will only deepen and worsen.

Looking now at the ongoing loss of ice around the world, a study by Australian- and New Zealand-based scientists, which was published in the journal Nature, shows that the planet will be locked into thousands of years of unstoppable sea level rise from a melting Antarctic, as temperature increases of just 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius will lead to a massive reduction in ice. Remember that the UN announced that we are already locked into 2.7 degrees Celsius warming even if countries move forward on the pledges they brought to Paris for the COP21.

Recent NASA data show that the melting ice in western Antarctica is already in “irreversible retreat.” That ice melt alone is likely to bring three meters of sea level rise.

Warming Antarctic oceans, which are a driving force behind the melting of the western Antarctic, are now threatening to kill off krill, the organism that forms the entire basis of the Antarctic ecosystem, according to biologists with the Australian government’s Antarctic Division.

Melting continues apace in Greenland as well, where recently published data reveal how an ocean-based glacier has begun a rapid retreat, and will ultimately add one and a half feet to global sea level rise all by itself. Disconcertingly, another nearby glacier there is also in rapid retreat, and the two together will add over three feet to global sea level rise.

Recent NASA data show that the melting ice in western Antarctica is already in “irreversible retreat.”

By 2050, the Arctic coast, along with most of the Arctic Ocean, will be completely devoid of sea ice for at least an additional two months per year, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change on November 4. This absence of ice will dramatically change both the Arctic and the planet itself: The Arctic will reflect far less sunlight back into space, hence increasing the speed of planetary warming.

The issue of rising sea levels has motivated a coalition of small Pacific Ocean nations, including Tuvalu, Tokelau, Kiribati and Fiji, to band together and request that wealthy nations work toward assisting their people to migrate and find jobs as they begin to flee to higher ground. The countries cited “major existential challenges” to their populations due to ACD impacts.

Similar to the crisis facing the island nations of the South Pacific, the Saloum Delta islands of Senegal are also seeing their way of life – and their very existence – move into the firing line of ACD impacts. Since their livelihoods are based on fishing and low-lying agriculture and both are disappearing, due to smaller fish catches and rising seas, respectively, the islands’ people are left with no income and are facing starvation.

Back in the United States, the people of the Quinault Indian Nation on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State are dealing with sea level rise that is also threatening their way of life. A 2,000-foot-long sea wall is being constructed to protect houses, but it’s only buying them time; the sea level rise isn’t stopping. The tribe has developed a $60 million plan to relocate the entire village to higher ground.

Sea level rise is, of course, already impacting the coastal United States. A study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows how major cities like New York, Jacksonville, Sacramento, Boston, New Orleans and Miami are facing an existential risk given that dramatic and immediate mitigation efforts to curb carbon dioxide emissions are not happening. Remember that we are already locked in to a minimum of 2.7 degrees Celsius warming by 2100, even if dramatic mitigation efforts are immediately undertaken on a global level. The future of US coastal cities is looking bleak.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, sea level rise is set to cause large portions of Australia to lose their coastal mangrove forests before the end of this century, according to recently published research. “Without mangrove forests, fish decline, there’s reduced coastal protection, there’s reduced coastal carbon sequestration,” University of Queensland researcher Catherine Lovelock said of the situation.

On the US East Coast, Atlantic cod, a fish that has long been critical to New England’s fishing industry, is now on the brink of vanishing completely. The fish’s spawning and survival are being thwarted by rapidly warming waters in the Gulf of Maine, fueled largely by ACD.

Looking south, recent US research shows we should expect dramatic and abrupt changes in oceanic food chains of the Southern Ocean, as it continues to acidify at a dramatic pace. Some of the key organisms in the food chain there are expected to be wiped out in as early as 15 years.

Fire

While the most intense wildfire season in US history has come to an end, 2015 officially became the worst wildfire season in Indonesia’s history. By mid-October, that island nation saw more than 100,000 individual fires, and damages by the end of that month reached more than $30 billion, and more than half a million people were reported sick from the smoke.

This telling global map shows how ACD-fueled wildfires continue to ramp up across much of the Southern Hemisphere now as their summer approaches.

Air

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a chart that shows, very clearly, how 2015’s global temperatures are exceedingly above the historic norm.

Air temperatures are becoming so hot as ACD progresses, in fact, that the oil-and-gas-producing Gulf countries like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, among others, will soon become unlivable because of the extreme heat and humidity, according to a report in the journal Nature Climate Change.

In the extreme weather realm, while it’s been a relatively quiet hurricane season in the Atlantic, there were, nevertheless, 21 record-shattering hurricanes and typhoons, all but one of which occurred in the Pacific Ocean.

On the methane front, news comes from the Woods Hole Research Center, which released a policy brief that concluded that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change does not account adequately for the warming feedback loop that is both caused by and is causing methane releases into the atmosphere. Methane is, depending on the time frame used to measure its impact, roughly 30 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Meanwhile, evidence of more methane release comes in the form of “accelerating” warming of permafrost across vast portions of Alaska. This warming was brought to light in another recent report, which describes how, when the permafrost melts, the methane frozen within it is released, which accelerates warming further. This causes the permafrost to melt faster, hence the positive feedback loop.

With 2014 already logging in as the warmest year on record for Alaska – and 2015 now on pace to beat it – farming in the state is actually increasing along with the temperature. Think about that for a moment: Farming is now becoming a growing business in Alaska because the northernmost state in the United States is warming so dramatically. The world is rapidly becoming a very different place in which to live.

Denial and Reality

Given the Republican presidential candidates’ attempts to vie for the title of “most backward,” there is no shortage of ACD denial this month.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz publicly stated that he believes ACD is “religion.”

“Climate change is not science. It’s religion,” Cruz told Glenn Beck.

More information was recently released about how Exxon Mobil, via deep collaborative efforts with the Bush and Cheney White House, sowed doubt about climate science over a period of decades by playing the “uncertainty” card.

Good news connected to that massive bit of well-funded denial comes in the form of a message from former US Department of Justice attorney Sharon Eubanks. She both prosecuted and won a massive racketeering case against Big Tobacco, and now thinks the agency should consider investigating Big Oil for similar claims to those made by Big Tobacco: claims that deliberately mislead the general public about the risks of its product.

Eubanks believes Exxon Mobil, along with other fossil fuel companies, could very well be held liable for violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) if it turns out the companies actively worked together to suppress knowledge about the reality of ACD.

On that note, the New York attorney general’s office, in November, opened an investigation of Exxon Mobil, and this investigation could well generate legal inquiries into other major oil companies for similar actions. The investigations may lead to legal actions against all of the companies.

More good news on the reality front: A recent poll shows that a minimum of 70 percent of Americans now believe that ACD, over the last 40 years, is real and supported by solid scientific evidence. The same poll reveals a huge drop in the number of self-identified Republicans who doubt the reality of ACD, the numbers falling from 41 percent last fall to 26 percent.

Over in France, a high-profile TV weatherman in that country, Philippe Verdier, has been removed from being on air after he wrote a book that questioned the reality of ACD. In his book, he casts doubt on the findings of leading climate scientists and political leaders, and says they had “taken the world hostage.”

“I received a letter asking me not to come [back to work],” Verdier told the media. “I don’t know any more than that, I don’t know how long it will last. It’s all to do with my book.”

To wrap up this month’s dispatch: A recent study revealed 41 cases in which “abrupt changes” in the permafrost, sea ice, snow cover, ocean and terrestrial biosphere could trigger natural disasters. The abstract of the study, which was published in the esteemed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reads: “Eighteen out of 37 events occur for global warming levels of less than 2 [degrees Celsius], a threshold sometimes presented as a safe limit.”

This means the scientists have identified these “tipping points” where abrupt regional climate shifts can occur due to ACD.

Predicting when they will occur remains challenging, but the results of the study show that all the state-of-the art climate models demonstrate that abrupt changes are likely. The first two hurricanes in recorded history to hit Yemen both striking the country in a six-day period and dumping a decade’s worth of rain in 48 hours is an example of this.

“Our results show that no safe limit exists and that many abrupt shifts already occur for global warming levels much lower than 2 degrees,” said lead author Professor Sybren Drijfhout from Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton.

Despite the now common warning of “no safe limit” of the ever-increasing global temperature, the COP21 will be held with all of the attendant fanfare, media coverage and protests.

Global leaders will appear as though they are doing something to address the single greatest crisis that humanity has ever faced, despite the most respected, prestigious scientific bodies in the world producing one report after another that shows us we have run out of time to turn the ship, as the iceberg has long since punctured the hull.

Rather than pinning false hope to the COP21, perhaps now each of us might sit still, feel what is happening and listen deeply to the earth. If we do, then we might know from within, what is most important, and what we should do next.

“It’s ecological imperialism.” Extinction, The New Environmentalism & The Cancer In The Wilderness

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2015 at 4:23 pm
Wolf-in-Yellowstone-

Say goodbye to the Grey Wolf. Photo: USFWS.

Oldspeak: “Homo sapiens are out of control, a bacteria boiling in the petri dish; the more of us, demanding more resources, means less space for every other life form; the solution is less of us, consuming fewer resources, but that isn’t happening. It can’t happen. Our economic system, industrial consumer capitalism, requires constant growth, more people buying more things.” –Christopher Ketcham

“Therein lies the conundrum Kimosabe. The imperative of infinite growth on a finite and fragile planet.  As the megafauna of Earth are forced ever faster on their Baatan Death March toward extinction, Industrial Civilization drones on. Earth is being transformed into one big corporate monoculture. The “environmental movement” has been co-opted, corporatized and monetized, fundraising in the wake of Faux “Victories” for the environment. Climate marches and activism organized by these entities are seen as “making your voice heard“, in reality amounting to nothing more than a more jovial “2 minutes Hate brought to you by Wall Street. The attitudes espoused by these so called “new environmentalists” are truly disturbing and ecocidal. We are indeed, the cancer in the wilderness. We are the cancer cells in the body of our world. And the only thing that stops this exceedingly virulent strain of cancer, Homo sapiens sapiens is extinction.  Our fate is as sealed as those of our fellow megafauna.” –OSJ

Written By Christopher Ketcham @ Counter Punch:

The word is in from the wildlife biologists. Say goodbye in North America to the gray wolf, the cougar, the grizzly bear. They are destined for extinction sometime in the next 40 years. Say goodbye to the Red wolf and the Mexican wolf and the Florida panther. Gone the jaguar, the ocelot, the wood bison, the buffalo, the California condor, the North Atlantic right whale, the Stellar sea lion, the hammerhead shark, the leatherback sea turtle. That’s just North America. Worldwide, the largest and most charismatic animals, the last of the megafauna, our most ecologically important predators and big ungulates, the wildest wild things, will be the first to go in the anthropogenic extinction event of the Holocene Era. The tiger and leopard and the elephant and lion in Africa and Asia. The primates, the great apes, our wild cousins. The polar bears in the Arctic Sea. The shark and killer whale in every ocean. “Extinction is now proceeding thousands of times faster than the production of new species,” biologist E.O. Wilson writes. Between 30 and 50 percent of all known species are expected to go extinct by 2050, if current trends hold. There are five other mass extinction events in the geologic record, stretching back 500 million years. But none were the result of a single species’ overreach.

I’ve found conversation with my biologist sources to be terribly dispiriting. The conversation goes like this: Homo sapiens are out of control, a bacteria boiling in the petri dish; the more of us, demanding more resources, means less space for every other life form; the solution is less of us, consuming fewer resources, but that isn’t happening. It can’t happen. Our economic system, industrial consumer capitalism, requires constant growth, more people buying more things. “I will go so far as to say [that] capitalism itself may be dependent on a growing population,” writes billionaire capitalist blogger Bill Gross, Forbes magazine’s Bond King. “Our modern era of capitalism over the past several centuries has never known a period of time in which population declined or grew less than 1% a year.” Growth for growth’s sake, what Edward Abbey called the ideology of the cancer cell.

The biologists, who in my experience tend to loathe the Bill Grosses of the world, begin to sound like revolutionaries. The most radically inclined among them – their goal to save some part of the planet from human domination and keep it wild and free (free of bond managers for sure) – agree that human population will have to halt entirely, and probably decline, in order to protect non-human biota. Then the biologists begin to sound like misanthropes, and they shut their mouths.

“What’s wrong with misanthropy?” I ask Leon Kolankiewicz, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who has written extensively about the human population footprint and its disastrous effect on biodiversity. “The human race,” I tell him, “has proven to be a bunch of assholes.”

Kolankiewicz laughs. My attitude, he observes, is not a very good tool for marketing conservation, given that the market, after all, is made up of people. We’re supposed to make biodiversity appeal to the buyer, the public, as something useful. We talk about ecosystem services – ecosystems that service us. “It’s a completely wrongheaded approach to conservation, of course,” says Kolankiewicz. “It’s raw anthropocentrism. There’s a lot of nature that isn’t particularly useful to people.”

Industrial-strength Homo sapiens could function without much trouble on a vastly simplified, even depauperate, planet, one wiped nearly clean of its fantastic variety of life. I read in Science magazine not long ago, for example, that Earth could lose 90 percent of the species that produce oxygen – not 90 percent of total biomass, mind you, just the diversity of the oxygen producers – and this would hardly make a dent in our modern lives. One of the conservation statistics that Kolankiewicz had encountered in recent years, one that he said “just blows me away,” shows that the combined biomass of the living 7.2 billion human beings, along with the few species of animal we have domesticated – dogs, cats, cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens – now constitutes at least 95% of the entire biomass of all extant terrestrial vertebrates on Earth. That is, all of the living specimens of wild mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles, more than 20,000 species in total, constitute a mere 5% of the aggregate living cellular tissue of all vertebrates. “Almost total usurpation of the biosphere for the benefit of one species alone,” says Kolankiewicz. “It’s ecological imperialism. Given this tragic reality, how can any sentient, caring person not be a bit of a misanthrope?”

We talk about the remaining places on Earth where the imperial species has not usurped the biosphere, where the bears and the wolves and the tigers roam, where the little babbling bipeds with their iPhones might get eaten, and we agree that these places can be called wilderness. We agree that the language of the 1964 Wilderness Act best defined those places: “where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man,” where the land retains “its primeval character and influence.” Observe the original meaning of that word, trammeled. It means to shackle, to hinder, to chain, to make un-free. An untrammeled ecosystem is one where man may be present but does not dominate, where the willed self-propelling processes of nature have not been subjugated entirely to human ends. (Kolankiewicz observes that it is from willed that etymologically we get the word wild.) Wilderness, among its other purposes, is to be a refuge for wild animals and plants, their evolution to remain unmolested and unhampered. There is a practical argument here – the preservation of a genetic pool evolving without help or hindrance from us (as we busily meddle with and wipe out genetic diversity elsewhere) – and a transcendent one, related to the not-so-transcendent fact that when we do away with wilderness we are also doing away with the crucible of natural forces which birthed our ancestors out of the muck and which shaped our character as a species. Without wilderness, we lose two million years of evolutionary heritage. We lose our deep-seated and long-standing relations with the non-human; we lose the awareness, the consciousness, of a natural environment not arranged entirely for human convenience. We lose our capacity, in the words of Howard Zahniser, the primary author of the Wilderness Act and its principal mover, “to know ourselves as the dependent members of a great community of life…to know the wilderness is to know a profound humility, to recognize one’s littleness, to sense dependence and interdependence, indebtedness, and responsibility.” Kolankiewicz tells me to read Wallace Stegner’s famous Wilderness Letter of 1960, issued as a public rebuke to the Kennedy administration. I tell him I know it well. “Without any remaining wilderness,” wrote Stegner, “we are committed wholly, without chance for even momentary reflection or rest, to a headlong drive into our technological termite-life, the Brave New World of a completely man-controlled environment.”

Kolankiewicz admits to a strain of Luddism in his blood, a dislike of technocrats, and certainly he is not the kind of environmentalist one finds salaried in the cubicles of the Big Greens in DC – by which I mean the Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the half-dozen other multi-billion-dollar enviro-nonprofits. Peter Kareiva, the chief scientist at the Nature Conservancy, is more typical of the breed. He’s an optimist, he’s people-friendly, full of bright ideas that promise hopeful partnerships with corporate business, expressive in his love of technological progress as the ultimate fix to conservation troubles, unabashed in the belief that good management applying the scientific method can handle any challenge no matter how frightful, and thoroughly dismissive of what he calls “the wilderness ideal.” In the new geologic era scientists are calling the Anthropocene – an era in which “humans dominate every flux and cycle of the planet’s ecology and geochemistry” – Kareiva believes that conservation has reached a threshold from which there is no turning back. Climate change, a world-encircling shroud of domination, is the most pressing fact of the Anthropocene. There is no place untrammeled by man, no ecosystem self-willed, and wilderness is therefore dead. Embrace the painful truth, says Kareiva: We are de facto planetary managers, and though hitherto we have been lousy at the job of management – selfish and self-aggrandizing, thoughtlessly destructive – we will not cease to dominate. And this is a good thing, as the very consciousness of our power as totalitarian managers of nature may be a blessing: It compels us not to question this power – for Kareiva it is unquestionable – but to become wise managers, like Plato’s philosopher kings, full of noblesse oblige, tyrannical but enlightened. So much for profound humility.

Let’s hear at length what Kareiva has to say about this “new vision for conservation”:

Conservation should seek to support and inform the right kind of development – development by design, done with the importance of nature to thriving economies foremost in mind….Instead of scolding capitalism, conservationists should partner with corporations in a science-based effort to integrate the value of nature’s benefits into their operations and cultures. Instead of pursuing the protection of biodiversity for biodiversity’s sake, a new conservation should seek to enhance those natural systems that benefit the widest number of people, especially the poor. Instead of trying to restore remote iconic landscapes to pre-European conditions, conservation will measure its achievement in large part by its relevance to people, including city dwellers. Nature could be a garden….

The notion of a gardened planet managed for “thriving economies foremost in mind” is a radical departure from the environmentalism of the 20th century, such that the Big Greens have marketed a nomenclature to describe the new thinking. They call themselves, variously, “ecomodernists,” “post-modern greens,” “neo-greens” or, simply, the “new environmentalists,” and their goal is the implementation of “eco-pragmatism.” Their most important departure from the old environmentalism is the jettisoning of any concern about the limits to economic and population growth. If human population doubled between 1804 and 1927, and doubled again between 1927 and 1974, and almost doubled again to 7.2 billion today, with the latest forecasts projecting more than 10 billion people by 2100, the New Enviros bid us look to nanotechnology, genetically modified crops and animals, laboratory meat, industrial fish farms, hydroponics, optimized fertilizers and bio-friendly pesticides, geoengineering (mass climate modification), more efficient transportation networks, electric cars, denser cities (with more people efficiently packed in them), unconventional oil deposits, safe nuclear energy, wind and solar arrays, smart grids, advanced recycling, and much else in the techno-arsenal to keep the human species from crashing against the wall of planetary carrying capacity. “There really is no such thing as a human carrying capacity,” writes Erle Ellis, a professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, in an op-ed in the New York Times. “We are nothing at all like bacteria in a petri dish…. Our planet’s human-carrying capacity emerges from the capabilities of our social systems and our technologies more than from any environmental limits.”

The ideological shift in the New Environmentalism represents a historic alliance of conservation with the doctrines of industrial growth capitalism – which is to say, this can no longer be called conservation in the traditional sense. It has not arisen in a vacuum, but is the logical culmination of 30 years of corporatization of the Big Greens, as enviros starting in the 1980s degenerated into a professionalized, business-funded interest group and began to operate like the businessmen they once saw as the adversary. Consider that the president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy today, Mark Tercek, is a former managing director and partner at Goldman Sachs.

The advent of the New Environmentalism frames a central conflict to unfold in coming years in the conservation community. What happens to wilderness in a world where it is managed for the economic benefit of the “widest number of people” and not for the health of the inhabitants of the wild? And what if, as Leon Kolankiewicz notes, large parts of wild nature are found irrelevant to “thriving economies”? Whither wilderness if industrial capitalism’s expansion is our only measure of its value? And overarching all this: What happens to human beings – psychologically, spiritually, morally – when we no longer have an escape from the confines of our technological termite hill?

 

As Global Consumption Skyrockets, ‘Full Footprint’ Felt by Millions

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2015 at 1:59 pm

“As consumers, we influence the landscapes and lives of those who live near the extraction, manufacturing, disposal, and other impacts of the products we use every day.” (Photo: The Searcher/flickr/cc)

Oldspeak: “One of my favorite films “They Live” has come to pass. In the film there are ubiquitous and ever present messages everywhere from human’s alien overlords to “OBEY“, “MARRY AND REPRODUCE“, “NO INDEPENDENT THOUGHT”, “CONFORM”, “SUBMIT”, “STAY ASLEEP”, “BUY”, “WATCH TV”, “NO IMAGINATION”, “DO NOT QUESTION AUTHORITY” and the all important one “CONSUME”. We have been primed our whole lives, for generations now, to consume, consume, consume, at ever increasing rates and more conspicuous fashion. This business as usual has not slowed down one bit, in fact it’s skyrocketing at time when the natural capital required to produce consumables are being depleted unsustainably. Coal consumption, meat consumption, plastic consumption, GMO consumption, car consumption, all have exploded in the midst of global ecological collapse. The “full footprint” anthropocentrically focused on humans impacted in the piece below is being felt far, far worse by the ecology & other life-forms on Earth upon which we depend for survival. Expect this trend to continue until all natural resources have been exhausted and/or environmental conditions deteriorate to a point where human activities can’t be supported…” -OSJ

 

Written By Deirdre Fulton @ Common Dreams:

Even as inequality and temperatures soar around the world, global consumption—a driving force behind economic and climate crises alike—has skyrocketed to levels never before experienced on Earth, according to a new analysis from the Worldwatch Institute, an independent research organization based in Washington, D.C. that works on energy, resource, and environmental issues.

This year’s Vital Signs report, released Tuesday, tracks key trends in the environment, agriculture, energy, society, and the economy. It shows that “from coal to cars to coffee, consumption levels are breaking records.”

Yet “consumers often do not know the full footprint of the products they are buying, such as the embedded water in a t-shirt or steak, the pesticide exposure of cotton farmers, or the local devastation caused by timber companies cutting down forests to produce paper,” said Michael Renner, Vital Signs project director.

Indeed, writes Worldwatch Institute’s Gaelle Gourmelon, “our consumption choices affect more than ourselves—they affect the environment and the lives and livelihoods of millions.”

For example, the report points out, global meat production has more than quadrupled in the last 50 years to over 308 million tons in 2013—bringing with it considerable environmental and health costs due to its large-scale draw on water, feed grains, antibiotics, and grazing land.

“Beef is by far the most intensive of meats, requiring more than 15,000 liters of water per kilogram of meat produced,” writes Gourmelon, suggesting that ending factory-style livestock operations and eating less meat could help diminish the sector’s impact. “Beef production also uses three-fifths of global farmland despite its yield of less than 5 percent of the world’s protein and less than 2 percent of its calories.”

Another notable finding from the analysis: while Western Europeans and North Americans consume the most plastic per person, using 100 kilograms of plastic per person each year, just a fraction of that is recycled. In the U.S., for example, only 9 percent of plastic was recycled in 2012.

“As consumers, we influence the landscapes and lives of those who live near the extraction, manufacturing, disposal, and other impacts of the products we use every day,” Gourmelon concludes. “Once we see ourselves as part of the larger puzzle, we are better able to choose what we buy, how we eat, and for whom we cast our ballot.”

The Worldwatch Institute’s infographic, below, illustrates more staggering statistics:

(Credit: Worldwatch Institute)

(Credit: Worldwatch Institute)

20 Smaller Methane Blowholes Appear Around Giant Methane Blowhole-Turned-Lake In Siberian “Permafrost”. 7 More Giant Holes Discovered.

In Uncategorized on March 2, 2015 at 8:44 pm

B1 – famous Yamal hole in 30 kilometres from Bovanenkovo, spotted in 2014 by helicopter pilots. Pictures: Marya Zulinova, Yamal regional government’s press service

Oldspeak: “Since the area of geological disjunctives (fault zones, tectonically and seismically active areas) within the Siberian Arctic shelf composes not less than 1-2% of the total area and area of open taliks (area of melt through permafrost), acting as a pathway for methane escape within the Siberian Arctic shelf reaches up to 5-10% of the total area, we consider release of up to 50 Gt of predicted amount of hydrate storage as highly possible for abrupt release at any time. That may cause ∼12-times increase of modern atmospheric methane burden with consequent catastrophic greenhouse warming.Dr Natalie Shakhova of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Dr Igor Semiletov from the Pacific Oceanological Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences

“So, the arctic is melting, Rapidly. De-gassing massive not recorded in millions of years amounts of methane gas from areas previously thought of as “permafrost”.  And the process seems to be accelerating and expanding, making more likely the 50 megaton burp of methane referenced above catastrophically altering life as we know it on earth. But the news being reported in U.S. media is ISIS, Bibi Netanyahu’s controversial speech to the U.S. Congress, And an unarmed homeless man being shot dead by trigger happy cops. The methane time bomb is ticking away, and only a brave few are listening. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick…. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.” -OSJ

By Anna Liesowska @ The Siberian Times:

Respected Moscow scientist Professor Vasily Bogoyavlensky has called for ‘urgent’ investigation of the new phenomenon amid safety fears.

Until now, only three large craters were known about in northern Russia with several scientific sources speculating last year that heating from above the surface due to unusually warm climatic conditions, and from below, due to geological fault lines, led to a huge release of gas hydrates, so causing the formation of these craters in Arctic regions.

Two of the newly-discovered large craters – also known as funnels to scientists – have turned into lakes, revealed Professor Bogoyavlensky, deputy director of the Moscow-based Oil and Gas Research Institute, part of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Examination using satellite images has helped Russian experts understand that the craters are more widespread than was first realised, with one large hole surrounded by as many as 20 mini-craters, The Siberian Times can reveal.

Four arctic craters: B1 – famous Yamal hole in 30 kilometres from Bovanenkovo, B2 – recently detected crater in 10 kilometres to the south from Bovanenkovo, B3 – crater located in 90 kilometres from Antipayuta village, B4 – crater located near Nosok village, on the north of Krasnoyarsk region, near Taimyr Peninsula. Picture: Vasily Bogoyavlensky

‘We know now of seven craters in the Arctic area,’ he said. ‘Five are directly on the Yamal peninsula, one in Yamal Autonomous district, and one is on the north of the Krasnoyarsk region, near the Taimyr peninsula.

‘We have exact locations for only four of them. The other three were spotted by reindeer herders. But I am sure that there are more craters on Yamal, we just need to search for them.

‘I would compare this with mushrooms: when you find one mushroom, be sure there are few more around. I suppose there could be 20 to 30 craters more.’

He is anxious to investigate the craters further because of serious concerns for safety in these regions.

The study of satellite images showed that near the famous hole, located in 30 kilometres from Bovanenkovo are two potentially dangerous objects, where the gas emission can occur at any moment.

Satellite image of the site before the forming of the Yamal hole (B1). K1 and the red outline show the hillock (pingo) formed before the gas emission. Yellow outlines show the potentially dangerous objects. Picture: Vasily Bogoyavlensky

He warned: ‘These objects need to be studied, but it is rather dangerous for the researchers. We know that there can occur a series of gas emissions over an extended period of time, but we do not know exactly when they might happen.

‘For example, you all remember the magnificent shots of the Yamal crater in winter, made during the latest expedition in Novomber 2014. But do you know that Vladimir Pushkarev, director of the Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration, was the first man in the world who went down the crater of gas emission?

‘More than this, it was very risky, because no one could guarantee there would not be new emissions.’

Professor Bogoyavlensky told The Siberian Times: ‘One of the most interesting objects here is the crater that we mark as B2, located 10 kilometres to the south of Bovanenkovo. On the satellite image you can see that it is one big lake surrounded by more than 20 small craters filled with water.

‘Studying the satellite images we found out that initially there were no craters nor a lake. Some craters appeared, then more. Then, I suppose that the craters filled with water and turned to several lakes, then merged into one large lake, 50 by 100 metres in diameter.

‘This big lake is surrounded by the network of  more than 20 ‘baby’ craters now filled with water and I suppose that new ones could appear last summer or even now. We now counting them and making a catalogue. Some of them are very small, no more than 2 metres in diameter.’

Satellite images showing pingo before the gas emission on the object B2 (top). Lake formed here at the place of the number of craters and the network of more than 20 ‘baby’ craters around (bottom). Picture: Vasily Bogoyavlensky

‘We have not been at the spot yet,’ he said. ‘Probably some local reindeer herders were there, but so far no scientists.’

He explained: ‘After studying this object I am pretty sure that there was a series of gas emissions over an extended period of time. Sadly, we do not know, when exactly these emissions occur, i.e. mostly in summer, or in winter too. We see only the results of this emissions.’

The object B2 is now attracting special attention from the researchers as they seek to understand and explain the phenomenon. This is only 10km from Bovanenkovo, a major gas field, developed by Gazprom, in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. Yet older satellite images do not show the existence of a lake, nor any craters, in this location.

Not only the new craters constantly forming on Yamal show that the process of gas emission is ongoing actively.

Professor Bogoyavlensky shows the picture of one of the Yamal lakes, taken by him from the helicopter and points on the whitish haze on its surface.

Yamal lake with traces of gas emissions. Picture: Vasily Bogoyavlensky

He commented: ‘This haze that you see on the surface shows that gas seeps that go from the bottom of the lake to the surface. We call this process ‘degassing’.

‘We do not know, if there was a crater previously and then turned to lake, or the lake formed during some other process. More important is that the gases from within are actively seeping through this lake.

‘Degassing was revealed on the territory of Yamal Autonomous District about 45 years ago, but now we think that it can give us some clues about the formation of the craters and gas emissions. Anyway, we must research this phenomenon urgently, to prevent possible disasters.’

Professor Bogoyavlensky stressed: ‘For now, we can speak only about the results of our work in the laboratory, using the images from space.

‘No one knows what is happening in these craters at the moment. We plan a new expedition. Also we want to put not less than four seismic stations in Yamal district, so they can fix small earthquakes, that occur when the crater appears.

‘In two cases locals told us that they felt earth tremors. The nearest seismic station was yet too far to register these tremors.


Crater B3 located in 90 kilometres from Antipayuta village, Yamal district (top). Crater B4 located near Nosok village, on the north of Krasnoyarsk region, near Taimyr Peninsula. Pictures: Local residents

‘I think that at the moment we know enough about the crater B1. There were several expeditions, we took probes and made measurements. I believe that we need to visit the other craters, namely B2, B3 and B4, and then visit the rest three craters, when we will know their exact location. It will give us more information and will bring us closer to understanding the phenomenon.’

He urged: ‘It is important not to scare people, but to understand that it is a very serious problem and we must research this.’

In an article for Drilling and Oil magazine, Professor Bogoyavlensky said the parapet of these craters suggests an underground explosion.

‘The absence of charred rock and traces of  significant erosion due to possible water leaks speaks in favour of mighty eruption (pneumatic exhaust) of gas from a shallow underground reservoir, which left no traces on soil which contained a high percentage of ice,’ he wrote.

‘In other words, it was a gas-explosive mechanism that worked there. A concentration of 5-to-16% of methane is explosive. The most explosive concentration is 9.5%.’


‘The parapet of these craters suggests an underground explosion.’ Pictures of Yamal crater taken by Vasily Bogoyavlensky

Gas probably concentrated underground in a cavity ‘which formed due to the gradual melting of buried ice’. Then ‘gas was replacing ice and water’.

‘Years of experience has shown that gas emissions can cause serious damage to drilling rigs, oil and gas fields and offshore pipelines,’ he said. ‘Yamal craters are inherently similar to pockmarks.

‘We cannot rule out new gas emissions in the Arctic and in some cases they can ignite.’

This was possible in the case of the crater found at Antipayuta, on the Yamal peninsula.

‘The Antipayuta residents told how they saw some flash. Probably the gas ignited when appeared the crater B4, near Taimyr peninsula. This shows us, that such explosion could be rather dangerous and destructive.

‘We need to answer now the basic questions: what areas and under what conditions are the most dangerous? These questions are important for safe operation of the northern cities and infrastructure of oil and gas complexes.’






The latest expedition to Yamal crater was initiated by the Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration in early November 2014. The researchers were first in the world who went down the crater of gas emission. Pictures: Vladimir Pushkarev/Russian Centre of Arctic Exploration

Pingos are mounds with an ice core found in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions.

They can reach up to 70 metres (230 ft) in height and up to 600 m (2,000 ft) in diameter. They usually appear when groundwaters penetrate between permafrost and the top layer, which melts in summer season. They usually form in drained lakes or river channels.

However, gas is not a factor in their creation.

Earth Faces Sixth ‘Great Extinction’: Researchers Struggling To Assess How Bad It Is

In Uncategorized on December 17, 2014 at 10:07 pm

Oldspeak: “Studies that try to tally the number of species of animals, plants and fungi alive right now produce estimates that swing from less than 2 million to more than 50 million. The problem is that researchers have so far sampled only a sliver of Earth’s biodiversity, and most of the unknown groups inhabit small regions of the world, often in habitats that are rapidly being destroyed…. Nature pulled together the most reliable available data to provide a graphic status report of life on Earth (see ‘Life under threat’). Among the groups that can be assessed, amphibians stand out as the most imperilled: 41% face the threat of extinction, in part because of devastating epidemics caused by chytrid fungi. Large fractions of mammals and birds face significant threats because of habitat loss and degradation, as well as activities such as hunting…. Conservation policies could slow extinctions, but current trends do not give much comfort. Although nations are expanding the number of land and ocean areas that they set aside for protection, most measures of biodiversity show that pressures on species are increasing. “In general, the state of biodiversity is worsening, in many cases significantly.” –Richard Monastersky

“So it’s a given, the anthropocene extinction is underway. Scientists know it’s bad. They just aren’t quite sure how bad. They do know half of the biodiversity they know about has been rendered extinct in the past 40 years. They expect extinction rates to increase as conditions worsen, it is significantly worsening currently. As time passes, it’s getting harder and harder to ignore these realities. I’ve been struggling with some grief the past few days. Lots of interesting subconscious stuff has been working itself out in meditation. Feeling lighter, more serene, less fearful, more discerning. Accepting what is has been quite liberating.” -OSJ

By Richard Monastersky @ Nature:

Of all the species that have populated Earth at some time over the past 3.5 billion years, more than 95% have vanished — many of them in spectacular die-offs called mass extinctions. On that much, researchers can generally agree. Yet when it comes to taking stock of how much life exists today — and how quickly it will vanish in the future — uncertainty prevails.

Studies that try to tally the number of species of animals, plants and fungi alive right now produce estimates that swing from less than 2 million to more than 50 million. The problem is that researchers have so far sampled only a sliver of Earth’s biodiversity, and most of the unknown groups inhabit small regions of the world, often in habitats that are rapidly being destroyed.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) highlighted the uncertainty in the latest version of its Red List of Threatened Species, which was released in November. The report evaluated more than 76,000 species, a big increase over earlier editions. But that is just 4% of the more than 1.7 million species that have been described by scientists, making it impossible to offer any reliable threat level for groups that have not been adequately assessed, such as fish, reptiles and insects.

Recognizing these caveats, Nature pulled together the most reliable available data to provide a graphic status report of life on Earth (see ‘Life under threat’). Among the groups that can be assessed, amphibians stand out as the most imperilled: 41% face the threat of extinction, in part because of devastating epidemics caused by chytrid fungi. Large fractions of mammals and birds face significant threats because of habitat loss and degradation, as well as activities such as hunting.

Looking forward, the picture gets less certain. The effects of climate change, which are hard to forecast in terms of pace and pattern, will probably accelerate extinctions in as-yet unknown ways. One simple way to project into the future would be to assume that the rate of extinction will be constant; it is currently estimated to range from 0.01% to 0.7% of all existing species a year. “There is a huge uncertainty in projecting future extinction rates,” says Henrique Pereira, an ecologist at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research in Leipzig.

At the upper rate, thousands of species are disappearing each year. If that trend continues, it could lead to a mass extinction — defined as a loss of 75% of species — over the next few centuries.

Conservation policies could slow extinctions, but current trends do not give much comfort. Although nations are expanding the number of land and ocean areas that they set aside for protection, most measures of biodiversity show that pressures on species are increasing. “In general, the state of biodiversity is worsening, in many cases significantly,” says Derek Tittensor, a marine ecologist with the United Nations Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge, UK.

Despite all the uncertainty, researchers agree that they need to devote more attention to evaluating current and future risks to biodiversity. One approach is to develop comprehensive computer models that can forecast how human activities will alter ecosystems. These general ecosystem models, or GEMs, are in their infancy: earlier this year, Tittensor and his colleagues published initial results from the first global model that seeks to mimic all the major ecological interactions on Earth in much the same way as climate models simulate the atmosphere and oceans (M. B. J. Harfoot et al. PLoS Biol.12,e1001841; 2014).

Building the GEM took 3 years, in part because the model tries to represent all organisms with body masses ranging from 10 micrograms (about the weight of small plankton) to 150,000 kilograms (roughly the size of a blue whale). “It needs a lot more development and testing, and ideally there will be a lot more variety of these models,” says Tittensor. But if they do a decent job of capturing the breadth of life in a computer, he says, “they have real potential to alert us to potential problems we wouldn’t otherwise detect”.

 

Even Climate Change Experts & Activists Might Be In Denial About Ongoing Climate Calamity

In Uncategorized on December 8, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Oldspeak:”Urgent action on climate change is thus to be implemented within a business-as-usual framework of high growth and high consumption, despite growing evidence that such growth doesn’t make us happier and that it is very likely to deliver increasing carbon emissions for years and decades to come. In psychosocial theory these defence mechanisms are also referred to as “splitting”. Consciously we might be talking about the impending sustainability crisis, but unconsciously we find ways to actually maintain the status quo. This is also true for those climate experts who fly around the world, going from one global climate change summit to the next. The very carbon emissions associated with their work can be seen as part of a denial strategy.”-Stephan Bohm & Aanka Batta

“You recently saw a big, showy example of this irrational denial and cognitive dissonance at the “People’s Climate Farce” photo-op and parade and U.N. Climate Summit in New York in September. With less than a few weeks left before the widely scientifically agreed upon deadline of global carbon emissions peaking in 2015 and declining thereafter to have a probably negligible hope of averting the worst effects of climate change, is very, very, very badly missed, I’ve not been sure why the people who know best that the window is about to close are continuing to participate in this latest farcical round of “negotiations” and talks. This piece goes a long way in explaining the psychological roots of these unconscious defense mechanisms and denials of reality. “Ignorance Is Strength.” -OSJ

By Stephan Bohm & Aanka Batta @ The Conversation:

Another month, another important UN climate change conference. The latest is in Lima, the capital of Peru. Thousands of experts from the world of politics, business, academia and civil society – and Leonardo DiCaprio – have flown around the world to urge us all to curb our carbon emissions.

Recent meetings have failed to make significant progress. Yet, this year there are high hopes that the US-China climate deal and the New York UN Climate Summit will allow Lima to provide a stepping stone for a binding emissions agreement at next year’s meeting in Paris.

However, even if a deal can be reached – despite the urgent need for it – there is no guarantee that global greenhouse gas emissions will actually come down significantly and dangerous climate change can be averted. Psychoanalytic theory provides disturbing insights into why this may be so – and it is all to do with the split psychological make-up of those who work at the forefront of climate science, policy and activism.

Climate denial can be unconscious

For at least a century, psychoanalysis has taught us that we might be consciously thinking and saying one thing, but unconsciously doing another. In this context that means people are very consciously aware of the threats posed by climate change, even if they aren’t doing too much about it.

Not a week goes by without the media showing catastrophic images of environmental damage and social suffering seemingly caused by a changing climate. Research suggests that such threats lead us to adopt various unconscious coping and defence mechanisms.

But what to do about it? EPA

Many people try to keep the catastrophe at bay or deny it is happening. Vested interests such as the Koch brothers in the US and other conservative forces have cleverly exploited this unconscious response by supporting a small group of scientists, politicians and think tanks to spread the message of climate scepticism and denial.

This stuff works. Climate denial is undoubtedly on the rise, particularly in those media-saturated markets of North America, Europe and Australia. The Kochs and others are clearly filling a psychological void. Research has also shown that “people want to protect themselves a little bit”, particularly in times of crisis and uncertainty. If climate change simply isn’t happening, there’s nothing to worry about.

Another popular coping and defence mechanism is to pretend that we can address this global and urgent problem by tinkering at the edges of “business as usual”. For example, politicians and business leaders widely believe that we can achieve a decarbonisation of the global economy while maintaining high economic growth. Social psychologist Matthew Adams says such a response is part of an unconscious coping mechanism that simply implies that we have pushed the problem onto a distant future.

As the geographer Erik Swyngedouw shows, climate change politics could in fact be seen as a “post-political” phenomenon where apocalyptic images of environmental destruction and human suffering are used to justify swift action without allowing any real political and economic choices. For example, while on one day the UK government is acknowledging that climate change is already having stark impacts on developing countries by pledging £720m to poor countries, another day of the political calendar is dominated by rhetoric that emphasizes economic growth and even the expansion of the oil and gas industry in the UK.

Urgent action on climate change is thus to be implemented within a business-as-usual framework of high growth and high consumption, despite growing evidence that such growth doesn’t make us happier and that it is very likely to deliver increasing carbon emissions for years and decades to come.

In psychosocial theory these defence mechanisms are also referred to as “splitting”. Consciously we might be talking about the impending sustainability crisis, but unconsciously we find ways to actually maintain the status quo. This is also true for those climate experts who fly around the world, going from one global climate change summit to the next. The very carbon emissions associated with their work can be seen as part of a denial strategy.

In fact, one could argue that those who are very close to the reality of climate change are particularly prone to a need to split their identity. The knowledge they have, and the images they have seen, might unconsciously lead them to the above-mentioned counter-balancing and coping behaviours. Not a good omen for the latest round of climate talks in Peru.

Are Humans Going Extinct?

In Uncategorized on December 4, 2014 at 4:00 pm

2014.12.1.Jamail.MainOldspeak: “Ok. One could say I’m a little fixated on Dahr Jamail right now and they’d probably be correct. He’s one of the few journalists committed to focusing on the only story that really matters anymore. Earth’s 6th Mass Extinction. Human activities brought it about. We’re bearing witness to it at this moment. Life extinguishing change is being made to the ecology at a rate  faster than in any of the 5 extinction events prior. It’s taken about 300 years to get to the point in this 6th extinction event that it took 80,000 YEARS TO GET TO in the Great Dying, the Permian mass extinction, which killed off 95% of life on Earth. This extinction event is happening exponentially faster than any other in the past. Scientific evidence from reputable sources is being published regularly, sounding increasingly dire alarms about the current situation. So far, 40 irreversible non-linear positive feedback loops have been triggered and are accelerating at an ever-increasing and probably underestimated rate.  With coal set to over take oil as the dominant energy source in 2017, it’s getting more and more clear that business as usual is status quo for industrial civilization. And that means, the jig is up in the next 15 to 20 years conservatively.  We are The Walking Dead. Zombie, life consuming economies animated by  Zombie people mindlessly, ravenously and insatiably consuming ever more natural capital unsustainably and creating more and more toxic effects as it does. The popular HBO show The Newsroom recently gave it to people straight, in a way that no actual mainstream news organization every could Here. Mr. Jamail talks to one of the most unpopular men around right now, Dr. Guy McPherson, a truthteller of the unavoidable reality to be, that is near term human extinction. Sobering, but much-needed reality is discussed.” -OSJ

By Dahr Jamail @ Truthout:

Some scientists, Guy McPherson included, fear that climate disruption is so serious, with so many self-reinforcing feedback loops already in play, that humans are in the process of causing our own extinction.

August, September and October were each the hottest months ever recorded, respectively. Including this year, which is on track to become the hottest year ever recorded, 13 of the hottest years on record have all occurred in the last 16 years.

Coal will likely overtake oil as the dominant energy source by 2017, and without a major shift away from coal, average global temperatures could rise by 6 degrees Celsius by 2050, leading to devastating climate change.

This is dramatically worse than even the most dire predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which predicts at least a 5-degree Celsius increase by 2100 as its worst-case scenario, if business continues as usual with no major mitigation efforts.

Yet things continue growing worse faster than even the IPCC can keep up with.

Scientific American has said of the IPCC: “Across two decades and thousands of pages of reports, the world’s most authoritative voice on climate science has consistently understated the rate and intensity of climate change and the danger those impacts represent.”

And there is nothing to indicate, in the political or corporate world, that there will be anything like a major shift in policy aimed at dramatically mitigating runaway anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD).

Guy McPherson is a professor emeritus of natural resources, and ecology and evolutionary biology, with the University of Arizona, who has been studying ACD for nearly 30 years.

His blog Nature Bats Last has developed a large readership that continues to grow, and for six years McPherson has been traveling around the world giving lectures about a topic that, even for the initiated, is both shocking and controversial: the possibility of near-term human extinction due to runaway ACD.

As McPherson has told Truthout: “We’ve never been here as a species, and the implications are truly dire and profound for our species and the rest of the living planet.” He told Truthout that he believes that near-term human extinction could eventually result from losing the Arctic sea ice, which is one of the 40 self-reinforcing feedback loops of ACD. “A world without Arctic ice will be completely new to humans,” he said.

At the time of our interview less than one year ago, McPherson had identified 24 self-reinforcing positive feedback loops. Today that number has grown to 40.

A self-reinforcing feedback loop can also be thought of as a vicious circle, in that it accelerates the impacts of ACD. An example would be methane releases in the Arctic. Massive amounts of methane are currently locked in the permafrost, which is now melting rapidly. As the permafrost melts, methane, a greenhouse gas 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide on a short timescale, is released into the atmosphere, warming it, which in turn causes more permafrost to melt, and so on.

While McPherson’s perspective might sound way-out and like the stuff of science fiction, similar things have happened on this planet in the past. Fifty-five million years ago, a 5-degree Celsius rise in average global temperatures seems to have occurred in just 13 years, according to a study published in the October 2013 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. A report in the August 2013 issue of Science revealed that in the near term, earth’s climate will change 10 times faster than during any other moment in the last 65 million years.

Prior to that, the Permian mass extinction that occurred 250 million years ago, also known as “The Great Dying,” was triggered by a massive lava flow in an area of Siberia that led to an increase in global temperatures of 6 degrees Celsius. That, in turn, caused the melting of frozen methane deposits under the seas. Released into the atmosphere, those gases caused temperatures to skyrocket further. All of this occurred over a period of approximately 80,000 years. The change in climate is thought to be the key to what caused the extinction of most species on the planet. In that extinction episode, it is estimated that 95 percent of all species were wiped out.

Today’s current scientific and observable evidence strongly suggests we are in the midst of the same process – only this time it is anthropogenic, and happening exponentially faster than the Permian mass extinction did.

We are likely to begin seeing periods of an ice-free Arctic by as soon as this coming summer, or the summer of 2016 at the latest.

Once the summer ice begins melting, methane releases will worsen dramatically.

We are currently in the midst of what most scientists consider the sixth mass extinction in planetary history, with between 150 and 200 species going extinct daily – a pace 1,000 times greater than the “natural” or “background” extinction rate. Our current extinction event is already greatly exceeding the speed, and might eventually even exceed the intensity, of the Permian mass extinction event. The difference is that ours is human caused, isn’t going to take 80,000 years, has so far lasted just a few centuries and is now gaining speed in a nonlinear fashion.

Is it possible that, on top of the vast quantities of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels that continue to enter the atmosphere in record amounts yearly, an increased release of methane could signal the beginning of the sort of process that led to the Great Dying? Some scientists, McPherson included, fear that the situation is already so serious and so many self-reinforcing feedback loops are already in play that we are in the process of causing our own extinction. Worse yet, some are convinced that it could happen far more quickly than generally believed possible – even in the course of just the next few decades.

Truthout caught up with McPherson at the Earth at Risk conference in San Francisco recently to ask him about his prediction of human extinction, and what that means for our lives today.

Dahr Jamail: What are some of the current signs and reports you’re seeing that are disconcerting, and really give you pause?

Guy McPherson: I’ve been traveling, so I’m out of date for the last 10 days. But starting with the snowstorm in Buffalo, New York, that was the biggest snowstorm ever recorded in Buffalo, at 6 feet 4 inches in 24 hours. It’s the largest one ever recorded in the United States.

Australia, meanwhile, is on fire. I just came back from New Zealand, and spring had just turned there because it’s the Southern Hemisphere. The whole time I was there people were commenting on how hot it was, and “how far into summer we already are,” and it was early to mid-spring when I was there.

So there’s all kinds of observational evidence.

We triggered another self-reinforcing feedback loop, number 40, just about two weeks ago; then just a week ago there was a [scientific] paper that came out indicating that for every 1-degree temperature rise, there is 7 percent more lightning strikes. So that contributes to a previously existing self-reinforcing feedback loop, that of fires, especially in the Northern Hemisphere, and especially in the boreal forests. So, as it gets warmer and drier, there are more and bigger fires, and that kicks more carbon into the atmosphere, which of course contributes to ongoing, accelerating climate disruption.

So lightning is yet another piece of that. As there is more moisture in the atmosphere and more heat going into the atmosphere and warming the planet, we have more lightning. The whole atmosphere becomes more dynamic. So, those are things that come to mind.

From your analysis, how long do you think humanity has before extinction occurs?

That’s such a hard question, and we are such a clever species. It’s clear that abrupt climate change is underway. Methane has gone exponential in the atmosphere. Paul Beckwith, climate scientist at University of Ottawa, indicates we could experience a 6-degree Celsius temperature rise in the span of a decade. He thinks we’ll survive that. I can’t imagine how that could be. He’s a laser physicist and engineer, so I think he doesn’t understand biology and requisite habitat that we need to survive.

So it’s difficult for me to imagine a scenario where we’ll survive even a 4-degree Celsius [above pre-industrial baseline] temperature rise, and we’ll be there in the very near future, like by 2030, plus or minus. So it’s hard for me to imagine we make it into the 2030s as a species.

But when I deliver public presentations I try not to focus on any particular date; I just try to remind people that they are mortal. That birth is lethal, and that we don’t have long on this planet even if we live to be 100, so we might want to pursue what we love, instead of pursuing the next dollar.

A more micro-look from that question – what do you see happening in the US, if Beckwith and other scientists who are predicting that rapid a rise of temperatures in such a short time frame are correct?

The interior of continents heats at least twice as fast as the global average. So a 6-degree Celsius rise in the global average means at least 12 degrees Celsius in the interior of continents – that means no question there is no habitat for humans in the interior. So you would have to be in a maritime environment.

I think even before we get to 6 degrees Celsius above baseline, we lose all habitats. We lose all or nearly all the phytoplankton in the oceans, which are in serious decline already as the result of an increasingly acidified ocean environment. It’s difficult for me to imagine a situation in which plants, even land plants survive, because they can’t get up and move. So without plants there is no habitat.

At a 6-degree Celsius temperature rise in the span of decades, there’s no way for evolution by natural selection to keep up with that. Already, climate change – which at this point has been pretty slow and what we would call linear change – already climate change is outpacing evolution by natural selection by at least a factor of 10,000, so I don’t see any way the planet is going to keep up.

We’re clever. We’ll be able to move around. And if somebody has a bunch of food stored they might be able to persist on that for awhile, but climate change leads to social breakdown, or maybe social breakdown contributes further to climate change . . . in any event, when we stop putting sulfates into the atmosphere, even at the level of the US or Europe or China, that’s going to cause a very rapid global average increase in planetary temperature. According to journal literature, a reduction of 35 to 80 percent in sulfates causes a 1-degree Celsius temperature rise. And in a matter of days, maybe weeks. So when the system comes down, that means we’re above the ridiculous, politically constructed target of 2 degrees Celsius, which has never been a scientific target despite what Michael Mann and other allegedly premier climate scientists say. One degree Celsius has been a scientific target since the UN group on measured greenhouse gases established that as a scientific target in 1990.

Well, it gets worse. According to David Spratt, in a presentation delivered recently, 1 degree Celsius was ridiculous, .8 degrees Celsius apparently was a more reasonable target, and by his estimation .5 degrees Celsius was the Rubicon we should not have crossed. Well, we crossed that Rubicon a long time ago, half a century ago, and he points out that we’ve passed all these tipping points, all these self-reinforcing feedback loops, and that 1 degree is nonsense, and that half a degree is more like it, and that’s in the rearview mirror, and has been for a long time.

What would you say to young couples now who are having children, or are trying to get pregnant?

We have means of preventing that. [McPherson smiles and pauses]

I try to encourage people to pursue their passion, to do what they love, and apparently some people love having children.

Obviously I think that’s a terrible strategy, given how little time we have on this planet as a species, but who am I to interrupt somebody else’s reproductive rights?

So if you love having children, have children and love them, and no matter how long their lives are, try to make them be joyous years. I think that goes for all of us, and if that means you want to bring children into the world, who am I to stop you from pursuing what you love? That’s what I try to encourage people to do.

Given that we’ve already gone over the cliff, what is our social and spiritual responsibility to ourselves, and to one another, and to the planet, as our extinction approaches?

I think our social responsibility is to live here, now, and contribute to joyous lives for those around us. It’s as if we’re in a hospice situation. I think we should be serving as witnesses to our own demise, as well as to the demise of the many other species we are driving to extinction.

In addition, I believe we have an obligation to not keep making things worse for every other species on the planet. It appears that we’ve thrown ourselves into the abyss, but we don’t need to drag every other species on the planet down with us.

So that’s why I so much appreciate what is going on here, at Earth at Risk, because it keeps the focus on species beyond ours, and the focus on cultures and societies beyond ours. We think it’s all about us, whatever “us” is, and from a cosmological perspective our species just showed up really quite recently, and yet we think it’s all about us.

So maybe we could, for a change, make it not about us, for starters.

Do you feel that the reality of how far along we are with ACD, the reality that you’ve been talking about for years now, is beginning to enter mainstream consciousness?

In a very limited way. Every now and then I see an article or a report in the mainstream media indicating that we may be ahead of some tipping point. So you see reference to the western Antarctic ice shelf falling into the ocean in the not so distant future. You see something about Greenland and the ice melting there very quickly.

But we don’t have a 24-hour news cycle; we have a 24-second news cycle. So those things come and go very quickly and then boom, we are back on the Kardashians again; we’re back on some aspect of celebrity culture.

And so it’s hard to get this culture focused in any meaningful way on the topics that matter for any period of time.

Why is the discussion about ACD not louder and more widespread? It should be the central conversation we’re all having . . . the entire planet should be basically saying, “What in the hell are we going to do?” and acting on those questions . . . but it isn’t. Why not?

It’s a corporate media. There are a handful of corporations that control more than 90 percent of the media in the country, and to only a slightly lesser extent, the world. So we have a corporate media, and we have a corporate government, and what Mussolini defined as fascism.

There’s no financial benefit to pointing out that people’s lives are short. Instead, there’s financial benefit to selling products that people don’t need, can’t afford and just contribute to further lining the pockets of the CEOs of the corporations. So I think it all comes down to the corporations exerting such profoundly strong control over the messages we are receiving everyday.

Your prediction of near-term extinction is, needless to say, controversial to most people. What do you say to people who call you extreme for talking about this?

I’m just reporting the results from other scientists. Nearly all of these results are published in established literature. I don’t think anybody is taking issue with NASA or Nature, or Science, or the Proceedings of National Sciences . . . the others I report are reasonably well-known and come from legitimate sources like NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration], other NASA sources etc. . . . I’m not making this information up. I’m just connecting a couple of dots, and it’s something many people have difficulty with.

For you, what now and why bother? What keeps you going?

I can’t help myself. When I was 6 years old I came home with a Dick and Jane primer, showed it to my 4-year-old sister, pointed to a page, [and] said, “What’s that?” She said, “That’s a dog,” and in total disgust I said, “No, that’s Spot.” I was already outraged because she didn’t know the answer. I turned the page and said, “What’s that?” She said, “That’s a cat.” In a disgusted tone of voice I said, “No, it’s Puff!” I was teaching when I was 6. It’s not what I do; it’s who I am. I can’t seem to help myself.

So serving as a witness, giving this information out, connecting ways that the mainstream media have given up on seems to be what is within me.

And what’s next is moving the next step beyond uber-geek, left-brain science guy presenting the information and reminding people that their lives are short, and instead moving into the heart space, or what some people call the spiritual space of how do we deal with this? What do we do now? How do I act as a human being? What kind of my humanity comes up as a reminder of the fact that our lives are short? Maybe we ought not focus on materialism at the expense of everything else.

So that’s what’s next. And that’s what’s been going on for the last several months, and I’m trying to refine and hone that message and get it out more broadly, and engage with more allies to get that message out, because it’s the most important message left to our species.

Have you seen, through your work, a shift from your going out and presenting all the facts and showing people where we are as a species, to more into what you just described?

Yes, absolutely. And there are a couple of things that are going on there. One, when I started delivering this information, I was the medical doctor with poor bedside manner.

So I would show up in the exam room, looking through my charts, barely making eye contact with the patient, tell them, “It looks like you have six weeks to live; be sure to pay the receptionist on your way out, and I’ve got a golf game to catch, so see you next week, maybe, if you’re still alive then.” And then I’d just leave.

So that was me when I’d deliver a presentation. And people pointed out to me along the way that that’s really, really inappropriate behavior, and for this left-brained science guy that was a difficult pill for me to swallow, but I see that now.

And it was very helpful that a little less than a year ago I participated in a grief recovery workshop, and I realized that what I was experiencing was grief, and specifically anticipatory grief. So the next step is to try to scale up the notion of anticipatory grief, and have it reach more people as well as pointing out that this is what is. That we can’t be stuck any more in what “should be,” we can’t be bogged down by the world of “should.”

Instead, as Byron Katie points out in her latest book, we need to love what “is.” And what “is” is reality. So let’s embrace that, and love this living planet, even as we cause it to become a lot less lively. And experience and bring moments of joy to those around us.

Sea Change: The Ecological Disaster That Nobody Sees

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Sea Change: The Ecological Disaster That Nobody SeesOldspeak: “The ocean is alive; it is a living minestrone soup with an even greater diversity of life than on the land, It is where most of our oxygen is created and carbon is taken out of the atmosphere. With every breath you take, you need to thank the ocean… .The ocean drives climate and weather, It is a planetary life-support system that we have taken for granted . . . We simply must protect the machinery, the natural systems upon which our life depends.” –Sylvia Earle, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chief scientist.

Experts warn that we are currently facing an extinction event in the oceans which may rival the “Great Death” of the Permian age 250 million years ago, when 95 percent of marine species died out due to a combination of warming, acidification, loss of oxygen and habitat – all conditions that are rife today…. Within the past half century the oceans have been transformed from the planet’s most productive bioregion into arguably its most abused and critically endangered…. Trillions of microscopic ocean plants called phytoplankton contribute seasonally between 50 to 85 percent of the oxygen in earth’s atmosphere, far more than all of the world’s forests combined. Nobody knows for certain how plankton will adapt to warming seas. But one study published in the United Kingdom last year suggested, worryingly, that changes in the temperature and chemical composition of the oceans would make these critical organisms less productive. Planktonremoves carbon from the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis. Fewer plankton will mean less oxygen and more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which will further intensify “a vicious cycle of climate change…Equally scary is the prospect that, as some researchers speculate, changes in ocean temperature may melt a frozen form of methane called “clathrates,” which is ubiquitous under the planet’s continental shelves. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times as potent in the short term as carbon dioxide. If these vast reserves bubble up into the atmosphere, it will truly be “game over” for the climate as we know it… But up to now, there has been little political will to tackle the tough issues that are leading to a death by a thousand cuts for the seas around us. The Global Ocean Commission reports that the toothless international treaties that purport to regulate human use of the oceans have failed utterly to protect them.” -Richard Schiffmann

“So basically, we’re running out of air. As time passes and conditions worsen, our air supply will steadily lessen, as greenhouse gasses further intensify. Our oceans in less than 50 years have been transformed from our planets most productive bioregion, into its most abused and critically endangered. Our oceans are the true lungs of the ecology. And they are boiling, acidifying, and dying. This cannot be stopped by human actions. While our attention is being directed toward manufactured threats like ISIS, Russia, and Ebola, We’re slowly and surely suffocating our way to extinction. Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick……” -OSJ

By Richard Schiffmann @ Truthout:

On September 21, in what is being advance-billed as the largest climate march in history, thousands of protesters will converge on New York City to focus public attention on the slow-motion train wreck of global warming. But while Americans are becoming increasingly aware that our industrial civilization is destabilizing the earth’s climate, fewer know about another environmental disaster-in-the-making: the crisis of the global oceans.

Experts warn that we are currently facing an extinction event in the oceans which may rival the “Great Death” of the Permian age 250 million years ago, when 95 percent of marine species died out due to a combination of warming, acidification, loss of oxygen and habitat – all conditions that are rife today.

Within the past half century the oceans have been transformed from the planet’s most productive bioregion into arguably its most abused and critically endangered. That is the conclusion of a report issued earlier this summer by the Global Ocean Commission, a private think tank consisting of marine scientists, diplomats and business people, which makes policy recommendations to governments.

The report catalogues a grim laundry list of environmental ills. Commercial fish stocks worldwide are being overexploited and are close to collapse; coral reefs are dying due to ocean acidification – and may be gone by midcentury; vast dead zones are proliferating in the Baltic and the Gulf of Mexico caused by an influx of nitrogen and phosphorous from petroleum-based fertilizers; non-biodegradable plastic trash – everything from tiny micro-plastic beads to plastic bags and discarded fishing gear – is choking many coastal nurseries where fish spawn; and increased oil and gas drilling in deep waters is spewing pollution and posing the risk of catastrophic spills like the Deepwater Horizon disaster which dumped an estimated 4.2 million barrels of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico during a five-month period in 2010.

Yet these worrying trends have failed to spark public indignation. It may be a matter of “out of sight, out of mind.”

“If fish were trees, and we saw them being clear-cut, we would be upset,” renowned oceanographer Carl Safina observed in an interview with Truthout. “But the ocean is invisible to most people, an alien world.” It is hard for those of us who only see ocean life when it ends up on our dinner plates to get worked up about its destruction, Safina said.

Nevertheless, this world under the waves is vital to our survival, according to Sylvia Earle, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chief scientist. “The ocean is alive; it is a living minestrone soup with an even greater diversity of life than on the land,” Earle told Truthout. “It is where most of our oxygen is created and carbon is taken out of the atmosphere. With every breath you take, you need to thank the ocean.”

Trillions of microscopic ocean plants called phytoplankton contribute seasonally between 50 to 85 percent of the oxygen in earth’s atmosphere, far more than all of the world’s forests combined. Nobody knows for certain how plankton will adapt to warming seas. But one study published in the United Kingdom last year suggested, worryingly, that changes in the temperature and chemical composition of the oceans would make these critical organisms less productive. Planktonremoves carbon from the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis. Fewer plankton will mean less oxygen and more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which will further intensify “a vicious cycle of climate change,” according to the study’s authors.

Equally scary is the prospect that, as some researchers speculate, changes in ocean temperature may melt a frozen form of methane called “clathrates,” which is ubiquitous under the planet’s continental shelves. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times as potent in the short term as carbon dioxide. If these vast reserves bubble up into the atmosphere, it will truly be “game over” for the climate as we know it.

“The ocean drives climate and weather,” Earle said. “It is a planetary life-support system that we have taken for granted . . . We simply must protect the machinery, the natural systems upon which our life depends.”

But up to now, there has been little political will to tackle the tough issues that are leading to a death by a thousand cuts for the seas around us. The Global Ocean Commission reports that the toothless international treaties that purport to regulate human use of the oceans have failed utterly to protect them.

In an email to Truthout, former UK Foreign Minister David Miliband, a co-chair of the commission, wrote bluntly that the high seas are “a failed state . . . beyond the jurisdiction of any government, where governance and policing are effectively non-existent and anarchy rules the waves.” Miliband insists that the open ocean beyond national boundaries needs to be brought under the rule of international law. At present, global treaties make nonbinding recommendations, which are routinely violated by nations and commercial enterprises.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it is the wealthy countries that are disproportionally to blame for the ocean’s woes. According to the commission, the freedom of the seas is being “exploited by those with the money and ability to do so, with little sense of responsibility or social justice.”

One way this is happening is the chronic over-harvesting of the high seas by massive, technologically advanced ships largely from countries like France, Spain, Denmark, Japan and South Korea (the United States is actually a relatively minor player with a lower yearly catch than many far smaller countries). These floating factories frequently employ highly destructive methods like bottom trawling,the practice of dragging a heavy net on the bottom of the ocean, a process which can destroy ancient deep sea coral colonies and other fragile ecosystems.

Other questionable practices include fishing out of season and the use of cyanide and underwater explosives that stun or kill all marine life over vast swaths of the sea. Indiscriminate trawl nets and long-line fishing take untold thousands of sea birds, turtles, marine mammals and non-target fish species (called bycatch) daily, according to Earle. “It is like using a bulldozer to catch songbirds. You simply throw away the trees and all the rest.”

The results have been catastrophic. In 1950, less than 1 percent of fish species were overexploited or close to collapse. Today, that number has swollen to 87 percent, according to the Global Ocean Commission report. Not only are there “too many boats trying to catch too few fish,” but this overfishing is being abetted in many cases by government fossil fuel subsidies, which have driven an otherwise flagging industry into dangerous overdrive.

The irony is that, while the productivity of commercial fishing has never been lower, and boats need to go ever farther to catch fewer fish, the number of vessels exploiting the ocean has never been higher. While affluent countries spend tens of millions of their tax dollars to prop up their national fishing industries, coastal fisheries in the global south are being depleted and some fisher folk are barely able to survive on their diminished catches, as I discovered during a recent reporting trip to Barbados. They simply can’t compete with the big commercial fleets that are operating with impunity just beyond their territorial boundaries.

This problem is exacerbated in Barbados and elsewhere in the Caribbean by the rapid coral die-off. Instead of the thriving reefs that one would have seen only a few years back, there are now ghost forests of bleached white skeletons covered in slime. As the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide increasingly gets absorbed by the ocean’s surface waters, it creates carbonic acid, which changes the pH of the sea, making it more difficult for coral polyps and other shell-forming organisms to produce their rigid homes.

When corals die (Earle said fully half of the world’s reefs are already gone, or in steep decline) the fish and other organisms that breed among them die off as well. Equally important, reefs are an invaluable line of defense against storm surges and destructive waves. Without these natural seawalls, beach erosion and damage to low-lying coastal areas during hurricanes can spiral out of control.

Human-made physical changes to the world’s coastlines pose another threat. Productive natural hatcheries like mangrove swamps, mudflats and salt marshes are being cleared in many areas to make way for coastal development, barrier islands are dredged to build ship channels, and freshwater streams, which fish use to spawn, are blocked by dams.

In his eloquent book Running Silver, marine biologist John Waldman writes that in East Coast streams, where our forebears could “walk dry-shod on the backs” of schools of striped bass, shad, sturgeon and other fish during their spring migrations, today’s runs are as low as 2 percent of what they once were. In some cases, they’ve disappeared entirely. Cold-loving fish like salmon and cod are leaving their traditional ranges and heading toward the poles in search of cooler waters.

Amid this rising tide of bad news, however, there are some glimmers of hope. Carl Safina told Truthout that the US coastal fish populations were in free fall “until about 1998 when the Sustainable Fisheries Act went into effect [which sets strict fishing quotas]. We saw a recovery of inshore species which are wholly managed by US law and policy, at the same time as there was a continuing decline of the big offshore species like shark, tuna and many billfish in international waters.”

The challenge, as Safina sees it, is to bring the rule of law that has worked for some US fisheries to the high seas, which he calls “the Wild West in the space age.” We need something like a UN peacekeeper force for the open oceans, he said, to enforce treaties, clamp down on illegal fishing and draft strict environmental regulations.As a model for what he has in mind, Safina points to regional multination fishery boards (like those which already manage and set quotas for fisheries shared by the United States and Canada.) As this kind of international cooperation spreads, we’ll have a fighting chance to save imperiled species that are currently being fished to exhaustion. Safina alsosaid we need to stop fishing some critical areas to give them an opportunity to recover.

President Obama was clearly thinking along these lines when he announced in June the creation of the largest marine sanctuary on earth, a no-fishing and drilling zone comprising 782,000 square miles of open ocean surrounding small, unpopulated US territories in the South Pacific. Pacific island nations like the Cook and Kiribati quickly followed suit, banning fishing in their own territorial waters.

Sylvia Earle told Truthout that these are big steps in the right direction: “Here’s the good news: places where fish are protected, where we stop the killing, if enough resilience is there, these systems can be returned to abundance. It’s happened in the Florida Keys; it’s happened in protected areas off the coast of Chile, in Mexico, where grouper, snapper and sharks are making a reappearance.”

Still, until we address climate change and pollution, and find a way to establish justice and accountability on the high seas, the prospects for the world’s largest ecosystem remain grim.

 

 

 

 

NOAA Report: Summer 2014 Hottest On Record, 2014 On Pace To Be Hottest Ever. World’s Oceans Account For Most Heat Rise.

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2014 at 8:25 pm

http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/global/map-percentile-mntp/201406-201408.gif

Oldspeak: “All the conditions that existed in Earth’s previous 5 mass extinctions, exist right now. Today. No other extinction event has progressed as rapidly as the one we’re bearing witness to. The oceans are heating & dying at an unprecedented rate.  We have zero ability to stop what is happening.  We must accept this. I can’t say it better than the esteemed eco-pirate Captain Paul Watson:

The world is full of ecological fools who deny ecological reality. The world is full of mindless mobs of morons obsessed with petty trivialities or distracted by fantasies ranging from silly religions to entertainment.

What the world is lacking are ecological engineers and warriors ready and willing to address the threats to our planet and especially to our oceans.

What the great majority of people do not understand is this: unless we stop the degradation of our oceans, marine ecological systems will begin collapsing and when enough of them fail, the oceans will die.

And if the oceans die, then civilization collapses and we all die.

It’s as simple as that….

One thing for certain however is that we are running out of time.”

TICK, TICK, TICK, TICK, TICK, TICK….

By NOAA National Climatic Data Center:

 

Global Highlights

  • The combined average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces for August 2014 was record high for the month, at 0.75°C (1.35°F) above the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F), topping the previous record set in 1998.
  • The global land surface temperature was 0.99°C (1.78°F) above the 20th century average of 13.8°C (56.9°F), the second highest on record for August, behind 1998.
  • For the ocean, the August global sea surface temperature was 0.65°C (1.17°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C (61.4°F). This record high departure from average not only beats the previous August record set in 2005 by 0.08°C (0.14°F), but also beats the previous all-time record set just two months ago in June 2014 by 0.03°C (0.05°F).
  • The combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for the June–August period was also record high for this period, at 0.71°C (1.28°F) above the 20th century average of 16.4°C (61.5°F), beating the previous record set in 1998.
  • The June–August worldwide land surface temperature was 0.91°C (1.64°F) above the 20th century average, the fifth highest on record for this period. The global ocean surface temperature for the same period was 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average, the highest on record for June–August. This beats the previous record set in 2009 by 0.04°C (0.07°F).
  • The combined average global land and ocean surface temperature for January–August (year-to-date) was 0.68°C (1.22°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.3°F), the third highest for this eight-month period on record.

Supplemental Information

Introduction

Temperature anomalies and percentiles are shown on the gridded maps below. The anomaly map on the left is a product of a merged land surface temperature (Global Historical Climatology Network, GHCN) and sea surface temperature (ERSST.v3b) anomaly analysis developed by Smith et al. (2008). Temperature anomalies for land and ocean are analyzed separately and then merged to form the global analysis. For more information, please visit NCDC’s Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page. The maps on the right are percentile maps that complement the information provided by the anomaly maps. These provide additional information by placing the temperature anomaly observed for a specific place and time period into historical perspective, showing how the most current month, season, or year compares with the past.

The most current data may be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.

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Temperatures

In the atmosphere, 500-millibar height pressure anomalies correlate well with temperatures at the Earth’s surface. The average position of the upper-level ridges of high pressure and troughs of low pressure—depicted by positive and negative 500-millibar height anomalies on the August 2014 and June 2014–August 2014 maps—is generally reflected by areas of positive and negative temperature anomalies at the surface, respectively.

August

With records dating back to 1880, the global temperature across the world’s land and ocean surfaces for August 2014 was 0.75°C (1.35°F) higher than the 20th century average of 15.6°C (60.1°F). This makes August 2014 the warmest August on record for the globe since records began in 1880, beating the previous record set in 1998. Nine of the 10 warmest Augusts on record have occurred during the 21st century. Additionally, August 2014 marked the 38th consecutive August with a temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average global temperature for August occurred in 1976. The departure from average for the month was also record high for the Northern Hemisphere, at 0.92°C (1.66°F) above average. The Southern Hemisphere temperature was 0.56°C (1.01°F) above average, the fourth highest on record for this part of the world.

Globally, the average land surface temperature was the second highest on record for August behind only 1998, at 0.99°C (1.78°F) above the 20th century average. Warmer than average temperatures were evident over most of the global land surfaces, except for parts of the United States and western Europe, northern Siberia, parts of eastern Asia and much of central Australia stretching north. Overall, 26 countries across every continent except Antarctica had at least one station reporting a record high temperature for August. The United States and the Russian Federation each had stations that reported record warm temperatures as well as at least one station with a record cold temperature for the month. One station in Antarctica also reported a record cold August temperature for its 30-year period of record. The period of record varies by station.

Select national information is highlighted below. (Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data):

  • Averaged across the country, Australia was only 0.06°C (0.11°F) above its 1961–1990 average; however, there were some large variations between regions. Western Australia had its fifth highest maximum August temperature on record (10th highest average temperature) while the Northern Territory had its fourth lowest minimum August temperature on record (also fourth lowest average temperature).
  • Following a record warm July, August was a bit more temperate in Norway, although still warm compared to normal, with a monthly temperature that was 1.0°C (1.8°F) higher than the 1961–1990 long-term average for the country.
  • The United Kingdom had its coolest August since 1993, with a temperature 1.0°C (1.8°F) below its 1981–2010 average. This ended a streak of eight consecutive warmer-than average months.
  • August was 1.1°C (2.0°F) cooler than the 1981–2010 average in Austria, marking the country’s coolest August since 2006. The high alpine regions were 1.5°C (2.7°F) cooler than average.

The average August temperature for the global oceans was record high for the month, at 0.65°C (1.17°F) above the 20th century average, beating the previous record set in 2005 by 0.08°C (0.14°F). It was also the highest departure from average for any month in the 135-year record, beating the previous record set just two months ago in June 2014 by 0.03°C (0.05°F). Record warmth was observed across much of the central and western equatorial Pacific along with sections scattered across the eastern Pacific and regions of the western Indian Ocean, particularly notable in the waters east of Madagascar. After cooling briefly in July, ocean temperatures in the Niño 3.4 region—the area where ENSO conditions are monitored—began warming once again. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center estimates that there is a 60–65 percent chance that El Niño conditions will develop during the Northern Hemisphere fall and winter. This forecast focuses on the ocean surface temperatures between 5°N and 5°S latitude and 170°W to 120°W longitude.

August Anomaly Rank
(out of 135 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +0.99 ± 0.24 +1.78 ± 0.43 Warmest 2nd 1998 +1.03 +1.85
Coolest 134th 1912 -0.75 -1.35
Ocean +0.65 ± 0.05 +1.17 ± 0.09 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.65 +1.17
Coolest 135th 1910, 1911 -0.45 -0.81
Land and Ocean +0.75 ± 0.12 +1.35 ± 0.22 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.75 +1.35
Coolest 135th 1912 -0.51 -0.92
Northern Hemisphere
Land +1.07 ± 0.21 +1.93 ± 0.38 Warmest 1st 2010, 2014 +1.07 +1.93
Coolest 135th 1912 -0.94 -1.69
Ties: 2010
Ocean +0.84 ± 0.04 +1.51 ± 0.07 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.84 +1.51
Coolest 135th 1913 -0.57 -1.03
Land and Ocean +0.92 ± 0.15 +1.66 ± 0.27 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.92 +1.66
Coolest 135th 1912 -0.65 -1.17
Southern Hemisphere
Land +0.80 ± 0.12 +1.44 ± 0.22 Warmest 7th 2009 +1.37 +2.47
Coolest 129th 1891 -0.78 -1.40
Ocean +0.51 ± 0.06 +0.92 ± 0.11 Warmest 4th 1998 +0.57 +1.03
Coolest 132nd 1911 -0.48 -0.86
Ties: 2003, 2005, 2013
Land and Ocean +0.56 ± 0.06 +1.01 ± 0.11 Warmest 4th 2009 +0.67 +1.21
Coolest 132nd 1911 -0.51 -0.92
Ties: 1997

The most current data August be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.

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Seasonal (June–August)

June–August 2014, at 0.71°C (1.28°F) higher than the 20th century average, was the warmest such period across global land and ocean surfaces since record keeping began in 1880, edging out the previous record set in 1998. The global ocean temperature was a major contributor to the global average, as its departure from average for the period was also highest on record, at 0.63°C (1.13°F) above average. The average temperature across land surfaces was not far behind, at fifth highest for June–August. Regionally, the Northern Hemisphere temperature across land and oceans combined was also record high for its summer season, while the Southern Hemisphere temperature was fourth highest for its winter season.

Select national information is highlighted below. (Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data):

  • Winter (June–August) was warmer than average for Australia; however, while the maximum temperature was 0.68°C (1.22°F) above average, the minimum temperature was 0.14°C (0.25°F) below average, making for a greater-than-average daily temperature range. The highest maximum temperature anomalies were observed in the states of Tasmania (second highest on record) and Western Australia (tied for third highest on record). The Northern Territory had below-average winter maximum and minimum temperatures, with the average temperature tying as the 33rd coolest winter temperature in its 105-year period of record.
  • Summer 2014 was 0.2°C (0.4°F) higher than the 1981–2010 average for Austria, but it also marked the coolest June–August for the country since 2005. The north and east were 0.4–0.7°C (0.7–1.3°F) above average while most other regions were near average.
  • The summer temperature for Norway was 1.9°C (3.4°F) above its 1961–1990 average. Western Norway, Trøndelag, and Nordland saw temperatues 2–3°C (4–5°F) above their long-term averages.
  • Summer in Denmark was 1.6°C (2.9°F) warmer than its 1961–1990 average and 0.4°C (0.7°F) warmer than the more recent 2001–2010 average. The second highest July temperature on record contributed to the summer warmth.
June–August Anomaly Rank
(out of 135 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +0.91 ± 0.20 +1.64 ± 0.36 Warmest 5th 2010 +1.02 +1.84
Coolest 131st 1885 -0.58 -1.04
Ocean +0.63 ± 0.05 +1.13 ± 0.09 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.63 +1.13
Coolest 135th 1911 -0.48 -0.86
Land and Ocean +0.71 ± 0.12 +1.28 ± 0.22 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.71 +1.28
Coolest 135th 1911 -0.46 -0.83
Northern Hemisphere
Land +0.94 ± 0.18 +1.69 ± 0.32 Warmest 5th 2010 +1.17 +2.11
Coolest 131st 1884 -0.68 -1.22
Ties: 2006
Ocean +0.76 ± 0.05 +1.37 ± 0.09 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.76 +1.37
Coolest 135th 1913 -0.54 -0.97
Land and Ocean +0.83 ± 0.15 +1.49 ± 0.27 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.83 +1.49
Coolest 135th 1913 -0.50 -0.90
Southern Hemisphere
Land +0.80 ± 0.12 +1.44 ± 0.22 Warmest 5th 2005 +1.01 +1.82
Coolest 131st 1911 -0.70 -1.26
Ocean +0.53 ± 0.06 +0.95 ± 0.11 Warmest 4th 1998 +0.59 +1.06
Coolest 132nd 1911 -0.50 -0.90
Ties: 2002
Land and Ocean +0.57 ± 0.07 +1.03 ± 0.13 Warmest 4th 1998 +0.65 +1.17
Coolest 132nd 1911 -0.53 -0.95

The most current data August be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.

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Year-to-date (January–August)

The first eight months of 2014 (January–August) were the third warmest such period on record across the world’s land and ocean surfaces, with an average temperature that was 0.68°C (1.22°F) above the 20th century average of 57.3°F (14.0°C). If 2014 maintains this temperature departure from average for the remainder of the year, it will be the warmest year on record.

The average global sea surface temperature tied with 2010 as the second highest for January–August in the 135-year period of record, behind 1998, while the average land surface temperature was the fifth highest.

January–August Anomaly Rank
(out of 135 years)
Records
°C °F Year(s) °C °F
Global
Land +1.01 ± 0.23 +1.82 ± 0.41 Warmest 5th 2007 +1.14 +2.05
Coolest 131st 1885, 1893 -0.68 -1.22
Ocean +0.55 ± 0.05 +0.99 ± 0.09 Warmest 2nd 1998 +0.57 +1.03
Coolest 134th 1911 -0.50 -0.90
Ties: 2010
Land and Ocean +0.68 ± 0.11 +1.22 ± 0.20 Warmest 3rd 1998, 2010 +0.70 +1.26
Coolest 133rd 1911 -0.51 -0.92
Northern Hemisphere
Land +1.08 ± 0.28 +1.94 ± 0.50 Warmest 5th 2007 +1.29 +2.32
Coolest 131st 1893 -0.78 -1.40
Ocean +0.61 ± 0.07 +1.10 ± 0.13 Warmest 1st 2014 +0.61 +1.10
Coolest 135th 1910 -0.49 -0.88
Land and Ocean +0.79 ± 0.17 +1.42 ± 0.31 Warmest 2nd 2010 +0.81 +1.46
Coolest 134th 1893, 1913 -0.51 -0.92
Southern Hemisphere
Land +0.84 ± 0.15 +1.51 ± 0.27 Warmest 6th 2005 +1.00 +1.80
Coolest 130th 1917 -0.77 -1.39
Ocean +0.52 ± 0.05 +0.94 ± 0.09 Warmest 5th 1998 +0.60 +1.08
Coolest 131st 1911 -0.52 -0.94
Land and Ocean +0.57 ± 0.07 +1.03 ± 0.13 Warmest 3rd 1998 +0.66 +1.19
Coolest 133rd 1911 -0.54 -0.97
Ties: 2002, 2003, 2005

The most current data August be accessed via the Global Surface Temperature Anomalies page.

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Precipitation

August

The maps below represent precipitation percent of normal (left) and precipitation percentiles (right) based on the GHCN dataset of land surface stations using a base period of 1961–1990. As is typical, August precipitation anomalies varied significantly around the world. As indicated by the August precipitation percentiles map below, extreme wetness was observed across part of the central United States, parts of northern Europe, central Siberia, Japan, and eastern Australia. Much of Japan received heavy rainfall from Typhoons Nakri and Halong during the first half of the month. Extreme dryness was scattered across small regions of each of the major continents.

Select national information is highlighted below. (Please note that different countries report anomalies with respect to different base periods. The information provided here is based directly upon these data):

Seasonal (June–August)

The maps below represent precipitation percent of normal (left) and precipitation percentiles (right) based on the GHCN dataset of land surface stations using a base period of 1961–1990. As is typical, precipitation anomalies during June 2014–August 2014 varied significantly around the world.

  • According to the India Meteorological Department, the Southwest Monsoon brought just 82 percent of the long-term (1951–2000) average rainfall to the country from June 1 to August 27. All regions were below average. Northwest India received just 66 percent of its average amount for the period, while the South Peninsula was closest to its long-term average among all regions, at 89 percent of average. By the end of August, the monsoon trough was generally near the Himalayan foothills.
  • In France, even with a drier than average June, total summer (June–August) precipitation was more than 140 percent of average, marking one of the 10 wettest summers since national records began in 1959. It was the wettest July–August period on record.

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References

Peterson, T.C. and R.S. Vose, 1997: An Overview of the Global Historical Climatology Network Database. Bull. Amer. Meteorol. Soc., 78, 2837-2849.

Quayle, R.G., T.C. Peterson, A.N. Basist, and C. S. Godfrey, 1999: An operational near-real-time global temperature index. Geophys. Res. Lett., 26, 333-335.

Smith, T.M. and R.W. Reynolds, 2005: A global merged land air and sea surface temperature reconstruction based on historical observations (1880-1997), J. Clim., 18, 2021-2036.

Smith et al., 2008, Improvements to NOAA’s Historical Merged Land-Ocean Surface Temperature Analysis (1880-2006), J. Climate., 21, 2283-2293.