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Abandon All Hope: Moving Toward an Existentialist Environmentalism

Abandon All Hope: Moving Toward an Existentialist Environmentalism 

As the Earth’s ecological systems upon which we depend accelerate in their slouch towards Bethlehem, our society faces an existential crisis.  The effects of climate change are far direr than we initially expected.  Global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have risen to 415 ppm for the first time in over three million years.  The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C describes that we face an increase in global average temperatures of 1.5 degrees C as soon as 2040. Furthermore, the two degrees of warming that scientists widely argue is the final major threshold before permanent, large-scale climatic shifts leading to ecological collapse, is no longer some far-off possibility or hyperbolic fear-mongering, but an imminent reality.  The future we face in this new Earth is marked ever more frequent and intense fire and flooding, famine and disease, droughts and storms.

Similarly, compounded by decreasing habitat availability from deforestation, overfishing, and resource overuse, climatic shifts are already being accompanied by staggering and consistent losses in biodiversity.  Published last month, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ Global Assessment Report concluded that the second-fastest mass extinction event in planetary history is underway; the current rate of extinction is 100 to 1000 times greater than historical background rates.  Over one million species are at risk of extinction within the next few decades.

As they perceive the horsemen beginning to saddle up their mounts, many of my friends and colleagues in the environmental community have succumbed to anxiety, if not despondency.  It is all too easy to become overwhelmed and unable to make a decision on how to proceed given the enormity of the problem and the lateness of the hour.  Indeed, given their scale, global challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss have been called hyperobjects which humans cannot comprehend despite their pervasive effects that are and will be experienced by everyone in some way.

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

Fire and Flood: Politics as Usual Amid Planetary Destruction

Fire and Flood: Politics as Usual Amid Planetary Destruction

Photograph Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture – Public Domain

More and more, we look into our screens and gizmos. And this helps us — almost as if they were made for that purpose — not to think about the weather outside. Kept busy “curating” our own lives, we are regularly spared evidence of the coming catastrophe.

Long ago, in a memorable poem, Robert Frost guessed that there was a human need to bring the moods of the world into conformity with our moods:

“Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.”

He says he has seen the “head” of the tree “taken and tossed” in rough weather, as his own head was “taken and swept” by a dream. This resemblance between the world and himself somehow added to his interest in life:

“That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.”

This sense of the human place in the fabric of nature — that there may be a deep connection between inner and outer weather — is starting to seem a thing of the past.

Can we still have inner weather when the outer weather changes so regularly and drastically? When 500 tornadoes rip through the country from Kansas to Pennsylvania in a matter of weeks? Or when 875,000 California acres burn down in the course of a summer? Rather than hear the message, we look into our smartphones or at our computer screens whose backgrounds may include breathtakingly lovely pictures of the planet — photos that show how beautiful a place it has been. As if we could have this Earth forever in reach, as if we could preserve it with a password or, by logging off, exchange it for another as lovely.

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

War is War on Mother Earth

War is War on Mother Earth

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

“In order to achieve the massive systemic and cultural transformations required for mitigating climate change…we’re going to have to deal with the socially sanctioned, institutionalized violence perpetrated by U.S. foreign policy that is pouring fuel on the fire of global warming.”

– Stacy Bannerman

Climate Change Causes War 

There is the close relationship between war and climate change that can be seen in a cycle of feedback loops creating the interlocking crisis.

Take the case of Syria, the perfect example with its direct relationship between war and drought. In an exacting statistical analysis of warsfought between 1980 and 2010 the connection between war and climate change is undeniable.

The US military itself has long recognized climate change as a “threat multiplier.” The last three Pentagon Quadrennial Defense Reviewscharacterized climate change as a threat to national security.[1]

Since the idea of climate change as “threat multiplier” tends to encourage militarized responses, (like Elizabeth Warren’s recent proposals) this information is widely reported in the pro-war media and I will not repeat it here. The military and their media allies fall silent when it comes to a far more important truth: war causes climate change.

War Causes Climate Chaos

At the core of the corporate state is the war machine, the world’s largest polluter. Despite the exemptions from reporting on military pollution that the US demanded in the 1997 Kyoto Accords and continued suppression of information by the military, the general picture comes through. Consider the evidence linking fossil fuels and war making.

+ The US military is the world’s largest polluters of all forms of toxins. Almost 900 of the nearly 1,200 Superfund sitesin the U.S. are abandoned military facilities or sites that otherwise supported military needs.

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

Floods And Drought Devastate Crops All Over The Planet – Could A Global Food Crisis Be Coming?

Floods And Drought Devastate Crops All Over The Planet – Could A Global Food Crisis Be Coming?

It looks like global food production could be well below expectations in 2019, and that could spell big trouble in the months ahead.  In recent weeks, I have written extensively about the problems that we have been experiencing here in the United States.  As many as a million calves were lost to the flooding that hit the state of Nebraska in March, farmers have planted less than half of the corn that is normally in the ground by this time of the year, and a lot of the crops that have been planted in the middle of the country are really struggling due to extremely wet soil.  But it isn’t just the United States that is facing a very troubling year.  Earlier today, one of my readers sent me an article entitled “Global food crisis ahead as extreme weather events devastate crops and fields around the world”which I would encourage everyone to read.  In that article, we are told that after the worst drought in 116 years Australia has actually been forced to import wheat.  And according to the Guardian, this is the first time in 12 years that this has happened…

Australia is planning to import wheat for the first time in 12 years after drought across the eastern states saw grain production fall 20% last year.

The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources confirmed this week it had issued a bulk import permit to allow wheat to be brought in from Canada to be processed for the domestic market.

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

US Fracked Gas Imports to EU Could ‘Take World Far Beyond Safe Climate Limits’, Campaigners Warn

US Fracked Gas Imports to EU Could ‘Take World Far Beyond Safe Climate Limits’, Campaigners Warn

Port of Rotterdam

Environmental activists representing more than 200 organisations have called on the EU and the US to put an end to a booming transatlantic trade in fracked gas or face “taking the world far beyond safe climate limits”. 

In an open letter to the EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete and US Energy Secretary Rick Perry, campaigners warn that the continued use and import of fracked gas “torpedoes critical climate targets and violates basic human rights”.

The statement comes after the US Department of Energy announced that Perry would be attending the first EU-US Energy Council High-Level Forum in Brussels on Thursday. 

Critics are concerned the high-level energy meeting, titled “Towards large-scale US Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) exports to the EU’s gas market”, will pave the way for fracked gas to become a key part of a new transatlantic trade agreement between the EU and the US.

European Commission data shows that EU imports of LNG from the US increased 181 percent between July 2018, when President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to strengthen cooperation in the energy sector, and March this year.

The rapidly growing US natural gas export market has benefitted from a push in large-scale fracking projects which led to an increase in LNG production. US gas now represents around 12 percent of the EU’s total LNG imports.

Earlier this year, the EU Commission said it was ready to facilitate more gas imports from the US if prices and regulations became more favourable.

Environmental campaigners warn that developing new gas infrastructure that has a lifespan that goes beyond the point when developing countries need to fully decarbonise their energy sectors would “lock in” high levels of gas consumption and see the EU miss its long-term climate targets. 

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

Still Snowing in the Heart of America – The Longer Winter & Shorter Summer Cycle

Still Snowing in the Heart of America – The Longer Winter & Shorter Summer Cycle 

COMMENT: Well you said this winter would be long and the summer shorter. It is still snowing here in the heart of America. It looks like your computer is correct again. Instead of funding research for billion dollars to pretend there is global warming, they should just subscribe to Socrates. Would save a heap of money.

RG

REPLY: Of course you are right. However, the hand out billion grants so they can get studies to justify raising taxes to bring in $100 billion. They are not interested in the actual reliable forecast. There is no juice in that for them. They want more revenue. Unfortunately, if this summer is also short and winter returns rapidly in the fall, buy some electric-underwear. We are in for colder periods ahead into 2024.

To stop global catastrophe, we must believe in humans again

To stop global catastrophe, we must believe in humans again

We have the technology to prevent climate crisis. But now we need to unleash mass resistance too – because collective action does work @billmckibben

Solar panels in La Colle des Mees, Alpes de Haute Provence, south-eastern France.
 ‘We have two relatively new inventions that could prove decisive to solving global warming before it destroys the planet. One is the solar panel.’ Photograph: Gérard Julien/AFP/Getty Images

Because I am concerned about inequality and about the environment, I am usually classed as a progressive, a liberal. But it seems to me that what I care most about is preserving a world that bears some resemblance to the past: a world with some ice at the top and bottom and the odd coral reef in between; a world where people are connected to the past and future (and to one another) instead of turned into obsolete software.

And those seem to me profoundly conservative positions. Meanwhile, oil companies and tech barons strike me as deeply radical, willing to alter the chemical composition of the atmosphere, eager to confer immortality.

There is a native conservatism in human beings that resists such efforts, a visceral sense of what’s right or dangerous, rash or proper. You needn’t understand every nuance of germline engineering or the carbon cycle to understand why monkeying around on this scale might be a bad idea. And indeed, polling suggests that most people instinctively oppose, say, living forever or designing babies, just as they want government action to stabilise the climate.

Luckily, we have two relatively new inventions that could prove decisive to solving global warming before it destroys the planet. One is the solar panel, and the other is the nonviolent movement.

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

Electric Car-Owners Shocked: New Study Confirms EVs Considerably Worse For Climate Than Diesel Cars

Electric Car-Owners Shocked: New Study Confirms EVs Considerably Worse For Climate Than Diesel Cars

The Brussel Times reports that a new German study exposes how electric vehicles will hardly decrease CO2 emissions in Europe over the coming years, as the introduction of electric vehicles won’t lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions from highway traffic.

According to the study directed by Christoph Buchal of the University of Cologne, published by the Ifo Institute in Munich last week, electric vehicles have “significantly higher CO2 emissions than diesel cars.” That is due to the significant amount of energy used in the mining and processing of lithium, cobalt, and manganese, which are critical raw materials for the production of electric car batteries.

A battery pack for a Tesla Model 3 pollutes the climate with 11 to 15 tonnes of CO2. Each battery pack has a lifespan of approximately ten years and total mileage of 94,000, would mean 73 to 98 grams of CO2 per kilometer (116 to 156 grams of CO2 per mile), Buchal said. Add to this the CO2 emissions of the electricity from powerplants that power such vehicles, and the actual Tesla emissions could be between 156 to 180 grams of CO2 per kilometer (249 and 289 grams of CO2 per mile).

German researchers criticized the fact that EU legislation classifies electric cars as zero-emission cars; they call it a deception because electric cars, like the Model 3, with all the factors, included, produce more emissions than diesel vehicles by Mercedes.

They further wrote that the EU target of 59 grams of CO2 per kilometer by 2030 is “technically unrealistic.”

The reality is, in addition to the CO2 emissions generated in mining the raw materials for the production of electric vehicles, all EU countries generate significant CO2 emissions from charging the vehicles’ batteries using dirty power plants.

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

Climate Change Parallax

Climate Change Parallax

There exists a very seductive delusion that once we cool (or heat) the planet to the proper temperature that the majority of our ecological ills will be over. This is a dangerous self-dectption. “Climate change” per se is not the problem. Temperature fluctuations (increases) reflect underlying carnage caused to nature by excessive human activity.

Once “global warming” has been defeated, and temperatures have been restored to “normal” levels, it will be clearly evident that nothing has been solved. Environmental deterioration will continue its ugly descent. Here is a small itemization of conditions that will not be addressed by a “normal climate”:

Concrete. The manufacture and overuse of concrete represents perhaps the leading edge of ecological destruction. Endless earth surfaces are being ripped apart and mined to obtain the literal mountains of sand used in concrete manufacture. The manufacture of the cement component is energy intensive and releases voluminous harmful by-products into the air and water. The impervious surfaces created all over the world by indiscriminate use of concrete are entombing the planet in sterile death.

Plastic. The ubiquity and environmental chaos of plastic has been endlessly documented and need not be addressed here. The point is that once temperatures (climate change) have been restored, all of the environmental repercussions of plastic will remain behind.

Habitat destruction. The sine qua non of understanding what is happening to the livability of planet Earth is to recognize that the very land itself, the soil, the surface, the natural face of land itself, continues to be devoured by “growth”. The surface of the Earth is going under, taking with it all of the wonderful aspects of a living breathing natural world, sucking it into an ecological black hole.

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

Harvest timber without destroying forests

Harvest timber without destroying forests

A prehistoric squirrel, it is said, could have scampered from Norway to Singapore without touching the ground, so dense was the carpet of trees that stretched across the world. Similar forests stretched across North America and many other parts of the world – all of them providing a home to thousands of living things, all of them vacuuming the carbon dioxide from the air and keeping the climate stable.

Most of that landscape was felled for timber and paper long ago, the land given over to crops and suburbia – or to wasteland. Of course, humans need food and houses, but we also need timber and wildlife, and our ancestors would have been wiser to preserve some of those forests for future generations. And sometimes, they did – for at least six thousand years, some humans have used an old technique to continually harvest timber from a forest while keeping it alive indefinitely.

When the evergreen trees around here are cut at the base, their roots die. But many broad-leaved, deciduous trees continue to soak up water and nutrients through their roots. The roots put their energy into creating shoots, which grow into new saplings – and soon you will have several smaller trees where you had one before. In a matter of years or decades – how long depends on the type of tree – you can harvest those smaller trees, called “underwood,” and the process begins again. You can keep doing this as long as the original base continues to live, which can be more than a hundred years.

Commonly coppiced species included ash, chestnut, oak, hazel, sycamore and alder, and most of these created shoot from the cut stump, called a stool. The new trunks usually curved outward from the original stool, and so their naturally bowed wood was often prized for ship-building.

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

Half a degree may make heat impact far worse

Half a degree may make heat impact far worse

The US south-west may have more drought and forest fires with 0.5°C more heat. Image: By RD Gray on Unsplash

Half a degree of warming doesn’t sound like much. But there is fresh evidence that it could make a huge difference to rainfall and drought.

LONDON, 4 April, 2019 − Japanese scientists have found new evidence that a global average temperature rise as small as half a degree could have a drastic effect.

They conclude that the world cannot afford to delay action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow global warming to 1.5°C by 2100 – the “ideal target” enshrined in the promise by 195 nations to limit warming to well below 2°C above the long-term average for most of human history.

The evidence is this: a shift of even 0.5°C could make a dramatic difference to the risks of devastating droughts and calamitous floods.

If governments keep to the letter of the Paris Agreement of 2015 but not the spirit, and let warming rise to the maximum of 2°, then there will be more intense rainfall across North America, Europe and Asia, and more intense droughts around the Mediterranean.

And although the average intensity of each flood or drought would increase measurably, the intensity of the most extreme event could be even more intense: 10 times greater. That is: the worst imaginable floods 80 years from now would be ten times worse than the worst today.

“Such drastic changes between flood and drought conditions pose a major challenge . . . risks could be substantially reduced by achieving a 1.5°C target”

At the heart of research like this is a new way of looking at future climate projections devised – by researchers all over the world – on a range of possible outcomes for a planet that has recognised climate change, vowed to respond, but failed to take sufficiently energetic steps.

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

CO2 levels pass 3-million-year record

CO2 levels pass 3-million-year record

Fossil fuel burning is pushing CO2 levels ever higher. Image: By Tony Webster, via Wikimedia Commons

The modern world is about to pass a temperature peak dating back for millions of years – because CO2 levels have already passed an ancient record..

LONDON, 8 April, 2019 – German scientists have confirmed, once again, that carbon dioxide is reaching concentrations unprecedented on any human time scale, with CO2 levels in the atmosphere already higher than they have been for at least three million years.

And their computer simulations – backed up by analysis of ocean sediments that tell a tale of changing temperatures and greenhouse gas levels – show that before the century’s close the world will become warmer than at any time in the last three million years.

The last time planetary temperatures reached a level higher than the target set by 195 nations in Paris in 2015was during a bygone geological period, the Pliocene.

“It seems we are now pushing our home planet beyond any climatic conditions experienced during the entire current geological period, the Quaternary,” said Matteo Willeit of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

“Our results imply a strong sensitivity of the Earth system to relatively small changes in atmospheric CO2. As fascinating as this is, it is also worrying”

“A period that started almost three million years ago and saw human civilisation beginning only 11,000 years ago. So the modern change we see is big, really big, even by the standards of Earth history.”

He and colleagues report in the journal Science Advances  that they made a numerical model of all the astronomical and geological data available for the last few million years and fed in algorithms to represent the physics and chemistry of planet Earth.

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

Trump Administration Drills Down on Alaska’s Arctic Refuge

Trump Administration Drills Down on Alaska’s Arctic Refuge

The deeply unpopular plan would benefit a few rich oil companies while threatening people, wildlife and the climate.

The Trump administration is barreling ahead with plans to drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the largest refuge in the country and an area of global ecological importance.

Many refer to the coastal plain of the Arctic Refuge — the very place where oil drilling is being planned — as the “American Serengeti.” A home for grizzly bears, wolves, musk oxen and a host of other species, the area is famous as the birthing ground for the enormous Porcupine caribou herd, which each spring floods across the refuge’s coastal plain in the tens of thousands, arriving in time to raise newborn calves amid fresh tundra grasses. The coastal plain is also the annual destination for millions of migrating birds, who come from nearly every continent on Earth to raise the next generation of swans, terns and over 200 other species. In late summer these avian visitors disperse to backyards, beaches and wetlands across the planet.

caribou
Photo: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS

Drilling on the Arctic Refuge has long been opposed by most Americans. Among the staunchest opponents of drilling are indigenous people in northern Alaska and the Canadian Arctic, whose cultures and diets are entwined with the Porcupine herd. They include the Gwich’in people of northern Alaska, who have lived in the Arctic for millennia and reside alongside the Arctic Refuge. Their name for the coastal plain is Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit, or “the Sacred Place Where Life Begins,” a name reflecting the shared destiny of the caribou and the people. For the Gwich’in and others, fighting against drilling is a cultural imperative and a civil-rights issue.

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

Climate Collapse: Wind Chill Temperatures Will Hit -60 In The Midwest This Week As Global Weather Patterns Shift

Climate Collapse: Wind Chill Temperatures Will Hit -60 In The Midwest This Week As Global Weather Patterns Shift

The experts are telling us that the Midwest could experience the coldest weather that it has ever seen this week.  Wind chill temperatures of -40 and -50 degrees will be common throughout the region, and it is being projected that some spots will actually get hit by wind chill temperatures of up to -60 degrees.  A shift in the polar vortex is being blamed for this life-threatening weather, and we are being told to expect the coldest temperatures to arrive on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning.  But all-time records are already being set.  For example, according to Accuweather the temperature in the city of International Falls, Minnesota hit 45 below zero on Monday morning…

The coldest weather in years will put millions of people and animals throughout the midwestern United States at risk for hypothermia and frostbite to occur in minutes during the final days of January.

The deep freeze continued across the Upper Midwest on Sunday with temperatures plummeting well below zero in the morning. The low of 45 below zero F in International Falls, Minnesota, shattered the day’s record of 36 below zero F from 1966.

Please keep in mind that was not a wind chill temperature.

That was the actual temperature outside.

As the week progresses, bitterly cold temperatures will be accompanied by heavy snow and strong winds across the Midwest.  The polar jet stream has weakened, and as a result the polar vortex will “dip into parts of North America”

The wintry onslaught will be driven by the Northern Hemisphere’s polar vortex, the pocket of cold air sitting atop the North Pole. When temperatures rise in the Arctic, the polar jet stream — the torrent of westerly winds that hold the polar vortex in place — can weaken and dip into parts of North America.

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

14 New Massachusetts State Reps Support 100% Renewable Energy by 2050

14 New Massachusetts State Reps Support 100% Renewable Energy by 2050

Kids holding pro-renewables signs at a Gulf of Mexico drilling lease protest in New Orleans in 2016

With the swearing in of new members last week, the Massachusetts legislature, not unlike the U.S. Congress, is receiving an infusion of brand-new state representatives who already are pushing an aggressive agenda focused on addressing climate change and transitioning to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2050.

So far, 14, or over half of the 24 new recruits, have formed an informal but unified group known as GreenTeamMA. Their initiatives are straightforward. They’ve agreed to refuse campaign contributions from fossil fuel PACs, they support carbon pricing, and they’ll be working with constituents to drive higher demand for wind, solar, and hydropower in the Bay State, where today almost one-sixth of electricity comes from renewable sources.

It’s a bottom-up approach that may well work,” said newly elected State Rep. Patrick Kearney of the South Shore’s 4thPlymouth District. “It’s a bipartisan effort we’re undertaking because the climate affects the health and well-being of every community.”

Graduation Day at New Legislators Academy for newly elected Massachusetts State Representatives,  sworn into office on January 2, 2019.
Graduation Day at New Legislators Academy for newly elected Massachusetts State Representatives, sworn into office on January 2, 2019. Credit: Patrick Kearney

Building Grassroots Support for Climate Action

GreenTeamMA members view climate change as a clear and present danger that requires an energy recalculation.

With one of the richest offshore wind reserves in the world and the capacity to build onshore wind and solar power plants to meet the growing energy needs of Massachusetts, the commonwealth is “poised to embrace a clean energy economy,” says State Rep. Tommy Vitolo of Brookline’s 15th Norfolk District.

To catapult that economy, GreenTeamMA members plan to target Massachusetts voters who rank health and climate change as key issues and call on them to make a consumer switch to renewable electricity.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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