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Science professor calls for fewer humans to ‘strengthen human rights’

Science professor calls for fewer humans to ‘strengthen human rights’

Humanity must ‘act to sustain life’ by reducing fertility (voluntarily)

Will there be “untold human suffering” if humans do not stop having children in order to avoid a “climate emergency?” More than 11,000 scientists signed a paper authored by an ecology professor at Oregon State University making that case.

OSU’s William Ripple and Christopher Wolf, a postdoctoral research associate at OSU (left and right, below), were the lead authors of the paper “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency,” published in the journal BioScience.

Their call to “reduce the world population” is among six solutions. “We need to reduce fertility rates through voluntary family planning,” Ripple told The College Fix in an email.

The paper cites “proven and effective policies” that can help reduce the population in order to “strengthen human rights.”

They include access to family planning services for everyone, “full gender equity” and giving everyone “primary and secondary education,” especially women.

“We believe that prospects will be greatest if decision makers and all of humanity promptly respond to this warning and declaration of a climate emergency, and act to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home,” the paper states.

Ripple maintains a website called “Alliance of World Scientists,” where he encourages scientists to read his paper and sign his petition to show “that you generally agree with our article.”

The alliance has 15,000 members from 175 different countries, according to the website. While it claims to vet those who seek membership, the alliance specifically seeks “scientists from any scientific discipline, including graduate students in the sciences.” It makes no mention of requiring an institutional affiliation.

Ripple’s attempt to persuade leaders to implement his agenda stands in contrast to the approach recently favored by Ivy League students. They made themselves a nuisance at the Harvard-Yale football game, delaying it for an hour, in order to protest climate change.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Himalayan glaciers that supply water to a billion people are melting fast

Himalayan glaciers that supply water to a billion people are melting fast

Preface. The Himalayan glaciers that supply water to a billion people are melting fast, already 30% has been lost since 1975.

Adding to the crisis are the 400 dams under construction or planned for Himalayan rivers in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bhutan to generate electricity and for water storage.  The dams’ reservoirs and transmission lines will destroy biodiversity, thousands of houses, towns, villages, fields, 660 square miles of forests, and even parts of the highest highway of the world, the Karakoram highway. The dam projects are at risk of collapse from earthquakes in this seismically active region and of breach from flood bursts from glacial lakes upstream. Dams also threaten to intensify flooding downstream during intense downpours when reservoirs overflow (IR 2008, Amrith 2018).

Since the water flows to 16 nations, clearly these dams could cause turmoil and even war if river flows are cut off from downstream countries.  Three of these nations, India, Pakistan, and China, have nuclear weapons.

It’s already happening. After a terrorist attack that killed 40 Indian police officers in Kashmir, Indiadecided to retaliate by cutting off some river water that continues on to Pakistan, “adding an extra source of conflict between two nuclear-armed neighbors”. Pakistan is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world with seriously depleted underground aquifers and less storage behind their two largest dams due to silt (Johnson 2019).

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Wu, K. 2019. Declassified spy images show Earth’s ‘Third Pole’ is melting fast.  Accelerating ice melt in the Himalayas may imperil up to a billion people in South Asia who rely on glacier runoff for drinking water and more. PBS.org

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Economists and climate change: Building castles in the sky

Economists and climate change: Building castles in the sky

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said that “the only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.” Unfortunately, when some economists turn their sights on the economics of climate change, their unreliable methods imperil not just the economic life of humankind but its very existence.

I have written previously about this phenomenon in 2007 about how economists underestimate the critical importance of small (by economic value) but critical parts of the economy such as agriculture, forestry, and energy and in 2012 about how unsuited our current infrastructure is to the unfolding climate.

The trouble is that against all evidence, some climate economists keep building castles in the sky. Nobel Prize winner William Nordhaus is among the most prominent economists working on climate change and its economic effects. In short, Nordhaus, who is mentioned both in my 2007 and 2012 pieces, tells us not to worry too much about climate change. It will be cheaper to adapt to it than to prevent it or slow it down.

The problem with Nordhaus’ thinking (and that of many others like him) is that he cannot conceive of abrupt discontinuities in the workings of the planet or the workings of human society. In short, he cannot conceive that climate change could alter our environment so thoroughly and disrupt our agriculture so completely that it would lead to catastrophic results.

It is for this failure of imagination that economist Steven Keen recently took Nordhaus to task, showing through a careful critique of Nordhaus’ equations, that even those equations demonstrate catastrophe ahead when provisioned with the proper numbers and understanding. When Keen adds in what we know about tipping points in the climate system, he finds that Nordhaus’ own equations reveal that “[a]t 3 degrees, damages are 8 times as high.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

River of Trash

RIVER OF TRASH

How Plastic Pollution Is Making Central American Communities Uninhabitable

THE FISHERMEN STAND thigh-deep in the muddy water as our boat pulls up to the shore, grass shushing against the hull. It is a still, cool morning and mist wicks off the river as the sun begins to rise above the trees. Down the beach, a white egret standing in the shallows takes flight in a burst of sound as the fishermen lift their net to reveal its glinting catch. Beside them, half-submerged, a plastic soda bottle noses purposefully past, toward the sea.

As I step onto shore, I notice more bits of plastic lying among the reeds, half-buried in the mud, as well as stained scraps of cloth, bits of packing foam, a single cracked plastic sandal. Just beyond, Guatemala’s Motagua River pours into the Caribbean, carrying with it a daily freight of trash washed out of overcrowded city dumps and unofficial landfills hundreds of miles upstream.

Worldwide, an estimated 80 percent of ocean plastic comes from land as “mismanaged waste.” Indeed, in Guatemala, there are almost no properly managed landfills and virtually no public water treatment plants. The result is a noxious chowder of sewage, industrial and agricultural runoff, and an ever-replenished flotilla of plastic trash, churning out from the river mouth toward the massive Mesoamerican reef, which has long supported rich biodiversity and fishing communities from Cancún to Nicaragua. Now, the beaches here and in neighboring Honduras are regularly buried in artificial tidewrack of toothbrushes, makeup containers, old syringes and bottles of IV fluid, action figures, streamers of plastic film, and foil chip bags.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Apocalyptic Claims About Climate Change Are Wrong

Why Apocalyptic Claims About Climate Change Are Wrong 

Bill McKibben, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Greta Thunberg, and Zion Lights of Extinction Rebellion
Climate scientists are speaking out against grossly exaggerated claims about global warming.GETTY

Environmental journalists and advocates have in recent weeks made a number of apocalyptic predictions about the impact of climate change. Bill McKibben suggested climate-driven fires in Australia had made koalas “functionally extinct.” Extinction Rebellion said “Billions will die” and “Life on Earth is dying.” Vice claimed the “collapse of civilization may have already begun.” 

Few have underscored the threat more than student climate activist Greta Thunberg and Green New Deal sponsor Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The latter said, “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” Says Thunberg in her new book, “Around 2030 we will be in a position to set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control that will lead to the end of our civilization as we know it.” 

Sometimes, scientists themselves make apocalyptic claims. “It’s difficult to see how we could accommodate a billion people or even half of that,” if Earth warms four degrees, said one earlier this year. “The potential for multi-breadbasket failure is increasing,” saidanother. If sea levels rise as much as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts, another scientist said, “It will be an unmanageable problem.” Today In: Business

Apocalyptic statements like these have real-world impacts. In September, a group of British psychologists said children are increasingly suffering from anxiety from the frightening discourse around climate change. In October, an activist with Extinction Rebellion (”XR”) — an environmental group founded in 2018 to commit civil disobedience to draw awareness to the threat its founders and supporters say climate change poses to human existence — and a videographer, were kicked and beaten in a London Tube station by angry commuters. And last week, an XR co-founder said a genocide like the Holocaust was “happening again, on a far greater scale, and in plain sight” from climate change.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Development: a failed project

Development: a failed project

It’s time to abandon development and think about postdevelopment instead.

Deforestation in the name of development | Image: crustmania, CC by 2.0

“They talk to me about progress, about ‘achievements,’ diseases cured, improved standards of living. I am talking about societies drained of their essence, cultures trampled underfoot, institutions undermined, lands confiscated, religions smashed, magnificent artistic creations destroyed, extraordinary possibilities wiped out. They throw facts at my head, statistics, mileages of roads, canals, and railroad tracks. […] I am talking about natural economies that have been disrupted – harmonious and viable economies adapted to the indigenous population – about food crops destroyed, malnutrition permanently introduced, agricultural development oriented solely toward the benefit of the metropolitan countries, about the looting of products, the looting of raw materials.”

– Aime Césaire (1950): ‘Discourse on Colonialism’

Let’s not beat around the bush: to understand the problems with current ‘development’ discourse and practice there is no alternative other than situating ‘development’ as a construct that has resulted from colonialism and that continues to perpetuate itself within this legacy. Nothing illustrates this better than the above quote from Aime Césaire’s powerful essay on the ‘Discourse on Colonialism’. It almost reads like a contemporary critique of failed development interventions, sharply dissecting extractivism, fetishism of economic growth, the global division of labour and the marginalisation of non-Western worldviews, cosmovisions, imaginaries. The text is almost 70 years old, yet its relevance today could not be clearer.

What are the problems with ‘development’?

I only write about ‘development’ in inverted commas. The word, the concept, the practice has been (ab)used for such a broad variety of specific agendas, all of them structured by power hierarchies and asymmetries. Depending on fashionable fads, ‘development’ has come to be conceptualised as development-as-growth, development-as-progress, development-as-empowerment and many more. Fundamentally, ‘development’ has become what Gustavo Esteva calls an ‘amoeba’ term – one lacking any real meaning.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Problem With “Green” Monetary Policy

The Problem With “Green” Monetary Policy

Although there is increasing support for the idea that central banks should actively contribute to the fight against climate change, monetary policymakers have no mandate to do so, and for good reason. Tackling climate change is – and must remain – the responsibility of elected governments and parliaments.

FRANKFURT – As an alarming new United Nations report shows, climate change is probably the biggest challenge of our time. But should central banks also be worrying about the issue? If so, what should they be doing about it?

Central-bank representatives who do decide to make public speeches about climate change cannot deny the scale and scope of the problem; to do so would be to risk their own credibility. But the same is true when central bankers feel obliged to discuss the distribution of income and wealth, rising crime rates, or any other newsworthy topic. The more that central banks’ communications strategy focuses on trying to make themselves “popular” in the public’s eyes, the greater the temptation to address topics outside their primary remit.

Beyond communicating with the public, the question, of course, is whether central banks should try to account for environmental considerations when shaping monetary policy. Obviously, climate change and corresponding government policies in response to it can have powerful effects on economic development. These consequences are reflected in all kinds of variables – growth, inflation, employment levels – that will in turn affect central-bank forecasts and influence monetary-policy decisions.

Likewise, natural disasters and other environmental events – actual or potential – can pose implicit risks to entire classes of financial assets. Regulators and supervisors charged with assessing risk and associated capital needs must take this environmental dimension into account. At a minimum, the high uncertainty stemming from these risks implies a huge challenge for assessing the stability of the financial system and corresponding macroprudential measures.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

French MPs Want To Ban Black Friday Because Of “Resource Waste” And “Overconsumption”

French MPs Want To Ban Black Friday Because Of “Resource Waste” And “Overconsumption”

Members of the French Parliament are now demanding the government prohibit Black Friday, reported The Independent.

French MPs passed an amendment Monday that could make the annual shopping holiday, widely popularized in the US, illegal, warning that a shopping frenzy causes “resources waste” and “overconsumption.” 

The proposal, led by France’s former environment minister Delphine Batho, is expected to be debated next month in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament.

France’s ecological transition minister, Elisabeth Borne, told Europe 1 radio on Thursday that Black Friday creates “traffic jams, pollution, and gas emissions.”

“We cannot both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and call for a consumer frenzy,” Borne said. “Above all, we must consume better.”

The amendment prohibiting Black Friday has been condemned by France’s e-commerce union. 

RetailMeNot estimates that French shoppers are expected to spend $6.5 billion this year between Black Friday and Dec. 1. 

Climate change activists from the Extinction Rebellion group’s French chapter have been out in force protesting shoppers. 

“Friday, Nov. 29, it’s Block Friday: a day when Extinction Rebellion joins the youth call for the climate,” the climate change group said on Facebook. “Together, we stand to occupy in a festive way or block ‘Temples’ of consumption in more than 20 cities in France.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Grim Reality About Pandemics They Don’t Want You To Know: “No Country is Prepared”

The Grim Reality About Pandemics They Don’t Want You To Know: “No Country is Prepared”

It’s been 100 years since the Spanish Flu caused a global pandemic. While you can rest easy right now knowing a global pandemic is not currently a threat, it is just a matter of time before the next one arrives. And when the next one does arrive, “scientists say an outbreak of a flu-like illness could sweep across the planet in 36 hours and kill tens of millions due to our constantly-traveling population.”

The Grim Reality About Pandemics They Don’t Want You To Know: “No Country is Prepared”

It’s been 100 years since the Spanish Flu caused a global pandemic. While you can rest easy right now knowing a global pandemic is not currently a threat, it is just a matter of time before the next one arrives. And when the next one does arrive, “scientists say an outbreak of a flu-like illness could sweep across the planet in 36 hours and kill tens of millions due to our constantly-traveling population.”

According to the Daily Mail, “The report, named A World At Risk, said current efforts to prepare for outbreaks in the wake of crises such as Ebola are ‘grossly insufficient’”. It was headed by Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former Norwegian prime minister and director-general of the WHO (World Health Organization). He said in the report: “The threat of a pandemic spreading around the globe is a real one. ‘A quick-moving pathogen has the potential to kill tens of millions of people, disrupt economies and destabilize national security.’”

No country is fully prepared for the mayhem a pandemic flu can cause

Out of the entire world, a mere 13 countries had resources and health care systems to put up a fight against a global pandemic. Among the countries ranked in the top tier were Britain, the United States, Australia, Canada, France, and Holland.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Scientists on where to be in the 21st century based on sustainability

Scientists on where to be in the 21st century based on sustainability

Preface. The article below is based on Hall & Day’s book “America’s Most Sustainable Cities and Regions: Surviving the 21st Century Megatrends”. Related articles:

Day, J. W., et al. Oct 2013. Sustainability and place: How emerging mega-trends of the 21st century will affect humans and nature at the landscape level.  Ecological Engineering.

Five scientists have written a peer-reviewed article about where the best and worst places will be in the future in America based on how sustainable a region is when you take into account climate change, energy reserves, population, sea-level rise, increasingly strong hurricanes, and other factors.  Three of the scientists, John W. Day, David Pimentel, and Charles Hall, are “rock stars” in  ecology. Below are some excerpts from this 16 page paper that I found of interest (select the title above to see the full original paper).

Best places to be

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Analysts Stunned After Lagarde Demands “Key Role” For The ECB In Climate Change

Analysts Stunned After Lagarde Demands “Key Role” For The ECB In Climate Change

Having failed miserably to “trickle down” stock market wealth for a decade as was their intention, something Ben Bernanke made clear in his Nov 4, 2010 WaPo op-ed, central banks have moved on to more noble causes.

Over the weekend Minneapolis Fed chair Neil Kashkari suggested it was time to allow central banks to directly decide how to redistribute wealth, stating unironically that “monetary policy can play the kind of redistributing role once thought to be the preserve of elected officials”, apparently failing to realize that the Fed is not made up of elected officials but unelected technocrats who serve the bidding of the Fed’s commercial bank owners.

Failing to decide how is poor and who is rich, central bankers are happy to settle with merely fixing the climate.

Overnight, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda joined his European central banking peers by endorsing government plans to compile a fiscal spending package for disaster relief and measures to help the economy stave off heightening global risks. Kuroda said that natural disasters, such as the strong typhoon that struck Japan in October, may erode asset and collateral value, and the associated risk may pose a significant challenge for financial institutions, Kuroda said.

In short, it’s time for central banks to target global warming climate change:

“Climate-related risk differs from other risks in that its relatively long-term impact means that the effects will last longer than other financial risks, and the impact is far less predictable,” he said. “It is therefore necessary to thoroughly investigate and analyse the impact of climate-related risk.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Like Stalingrad: Italy’s Concrete Infrastructure is Melting in the Rain

Like Stalingrad: Italy’s Concrete Infrastructure is Melting in the Rain

The region of Liguria, within the red circle, is a narrow strip of land stuck between the Appennini Mountains and the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is also a critical element of the transportation system that connects France and the Po valley to the rest of Italy. As you may imagine, this heavily urbanized region is subjected to disastrous floods. The situation became so bad, recently, that the president of the Liguria region declared it was like the siege of Stalingrad, during WWII. The image above is from a presentation by Massimo Lanfranco, highly recommended!

When you have a fame of being a catastrophist or a Cassandra, reading that some of your prophecies turned out to be true may be a little unsettling. But it seems that I understood something correctly with the chapter of my recent book “Before the Collapse,” where I described how the world’s concrete infrastructure was getting old and decaying and how the situation was going to get worse with time.

In my take of the situation, I was inspired by the collapse of the Morandi Bridge in Genova, Italy, in 2018, but I was sure that worse things were going to happen. And it seems that I was right: the recent disasters in Southern Europe (France, Greece, and Italy) show how roads, railways, and buildings, are fragile, often on the edge of collapse. Rains heavier than usual are sufficient to create disasters, in part because of landslides and floods, in part because of the aged and weakened concrete structures. And, with climate change pressing forward, heavy rains are going to be more and more common.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Solar Minimum Madness: Is Thanksgiving’s Winter Wonderland A Preview Of The Bitterly Cold Winter To Come?

Solar Minimum Madness: Is Thanksgiving’s Winter Wonderland A Preview Of The Bitterly Cold Winter To Come?

This week, three major winter storms will batter most of the country with ice, snow and bitterly cold temperatures just in time for Thanksgiving. It is being projected that 55 million Americans will be traveling this week, and so this bizarre weather comes at a very bad time. But of course we have already seen a series of blizzards roar across the nation in recent weeks and hundreds of record cold temperatures have already been shattered and we are still about a month away from the official start of winter. Normally, it isn’t supposed to be this cold or this snowy yet, but we don’t live in “normal” times.

Scientists tell us that solar activity becomes very quiet during a “solar minimum”, and when solar activity becomes very quiet we tend to have very cold winters. And in recent months solar activity has been very, very low. In fact, we haven’t seen any sunspots at all “since November 2”

We have not seen any sunspots since November 2, and at that time they were only visible for two days, and prior to that no sunspots since October 2.

Unless things change, and that is not expected to happen, we should prepare for a very cold and very snowy winter. And this upcoming week is likely to be a preview of coming attractions. According to CNN, holiday travelers will have three major winter storms to deal with…

As Thanksgiving week starts, a record number of travelers will be dealing with three storms nationwide that will add to the holiday stress.

One storm will lash the East and will affect travel through Sunday, another one will batter the Midwest on Tuesday and a third one will move through the West on Wednesday.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Darn, This Is Inconvenient: Apple Is Destroying the Planet to Maximize Profits

Darn, This Is Inconvenient: Apple Is Destroying the Planet to Maximize Profits

Stripmining the planet to maximize profits isn’t progressive or renewable–it’s just exploitive and destructive.

How do we describe the finding that the planet’s most widely-owned super-corporation is destroying the planet to maximize its smartphone sales and profits? Shall we start with “inconvenient?” Yes, we’re talking about Apple, famous for coercing customers to upgrade their Apple phones and other gadgets if not annually then every couple years, as the most effective way to maximize profits.

Unfortunately, smartphones require stripmining the planet, as described in this report, Smartphones Are Killing The Planet Faster Than Anyone Expected

Researchers are sounding the alarm after an analysis showed that buying a new smartphone consumes as much energy as using an existing phone for an entire decade.

Smartphones are particularly insidious for a few reasons. With a two-year average life cycle, they’re more or less disposable. The problem is that building a new smartphone–and specifically, mining the rare materials inside them–represents 85% to 95% of the device’s total CO2 emissions for two years. That means buying one new phone takes as much energy as recharging and operating a smartphone for an entire decade despite the recycling programs run by Apple and others, “based on our research and other sources, currently less than 1% of smartphones are being recycled,” Lotfi Belkhir, the study’s lead author, tells me.

The researchers point out that mobile apps actually reinforce our need for these 24/7 servers in a self-perpetuating energy-hogging cycle. More phones require more servers. And with all this wireless information in the cloud, of course we’re going to buy more phones capable of running even better apps.

Google, Facebook, and Apple have all pledged to move to 100% renewable energy in their own operations. In fact, all of Apple’s servers are currently run on renewable power. “It’s encouraging,” says Belkhir of these early corporate efforts. “But I don’t think it’d move the needle at all.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Enviros Tools of Russians? The Weird Conspiracy Theory Firing up Kenney’s Inquiry

Enviros Tools of Russians? The Weird Conspiracy Theory Firing up Kenney’s Inquiry

SPECIAL REPORT: Alberta’s ‘anti-energy’ probe makes a debunked US report its must-read.

LamarSmith.jpg
Texas Republican Lamar Smith, a noted climate denier and big recipient of oil and gas political donations, led a House committee that produced a report suggesting environmentalists are manipulated by the Russian government.

Russian Attempts to Influence U.S. Domestic Energy Markets by Exploiting Social Media was produced by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology, which at the time was led by a climate change-denying Republican from Texas named Lamar Smith. Upon its release in 2018, Democratic Congressman Raúl Grijalva described the report as “another round of unsupported conspiracy theories,” and it received little traction.

Now the report is officially required reading for Alberta’s inquiry, explicitly included in its terms of reference.

Why would that be? Answers were not forthcoming from Inquiry Commissioner Steve Allan, who didn’t respond to The Tyee’s interview request.

“There is very little the commissioner can share with the media at this time that is not contained on this website,” reads the Alberta Inquiry website. The commission’s terms of reference also explain that “As part of the inquiry, the commissioner shall examine the work completed by other investigations in other jurisdictions into similar activities or alleged activities.”

A New York-based journalist who wrote an article about the Republican-produced report was surprised Alberta is paying attention to its claims of Russian intrigue.

“That is unexpected,” said John Timmer, senior science editor for the media outlet Ars Technica. The report “didn’t pick up very wide coverage perhaps because it was rather strange to begin with… It just didn’t really hold up to a critical analysis very well.”

“It’s just a bizarre compilation of allegations that feeds a conspiracy theory,” said Devon Page, the executive director of Ecojustice, about the report’s inclusion in the Alberta inquiry’s terms of reference.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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