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Climate crisis needs radical food changes

Climate crisis needs radical food changes

The entire food system needs to change, researchers say. 

From farm to fork, agriculture fuels global heating. Can the world eat well, but stay a little cooler? That will need radical food changes.

LONDON, 3 July, 2019 – To feed 9 billion people by 2050, and keep planet Earth from overheating, will mean massive and radical food changes – and not just in the way food is grown.

To contain global temperatures to no more than 2°C above the average for most of human history will require humanity to change its diet, contain its appetite and reform the entire system of food production and distribution.

This is the verdict of the latest study of the challenge set in Paris in 2015, when 195 nations promised to limit global warming – driven by profligate use of fossil fuels and by the conversion of forest, grassland and wetlands into commercial use – to “well below” 2°C by 2100.

Researchers report in the journal Sustainability that they looked at 160 studies and analyses of global agriculture and food systems and most closely at the world’s smallholders and markets that sustain as many as 2.5 billion people, mostly in the developing world.

Farming’s massive impact

Small farmers account for about a third of global agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, but these include also many of the people most vulnerable to the coming climate crisis, which is likely to put harvests at hazard on a global scale.

Agriculture, together with forestry and changes in land use, accounts for a quarter of all the carbon dioxide, methane and oxides of nitrogen that fuel global warming.

Just on its own, the action of growing grain, fruit and vegetables or feeding grazing animals accounts for no more than 12% of global warming, but a third of all the food that leaves the farm gate is wasted before it arrives on the supper table.

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

‘Climate Crisis’ Open Letter to Media: Who’s Responded (So Far)

‘Climate Crisis’ Open Letter to Media: Who’s Responded (So Far)

Five-point plan on Tyee finds allies in CWA union and top US journos.

SeanHolman.JPG
Journalism prof Sean Holman fired off to Canada’s news orgs a public challenge to better cover the climate crisis. Who got back? Photo by Laura Balanko-Dickson.

Now the responses are rolling in, some from beyond Canada’s borders. 

Here’s how Holman came to write the widely shared letter and what it’s helping to trigger.

As record wildfires raged out of control across B.C., spreading smoke into the Rockies and Alberta, Holman looked out the window of his Calgary home and thought about a book he’d read as a child. The World of the Future: Future Cities predicted “if drastic steps are not taken to control pollution and achieve some sort of ecological balance,” the city of the 21st century could become a “polluted pesthole.” 

The book’s image of gas-mask-wearing citizens in a dystopian streetscape choked by smog “always stuck with me,” Holman said. The view of smoke turning the sun into a sickly orange dot was strikingly similar. “That was really troubling.” The Tyee is supported by readers like you Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Even more disturbing to Holman, though, was the failure of Canadian news media to accurately report the underlying reasons for this hellscape: the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming Canada twice as fast as the rest of the world.

Holman, an investigative reporter, associate professor of journalism at Mount Royal University and an occasional Tyee contributor, found that of the 182 media pieces produced about the wildfires last summer by outlets like the Calgary Herald and Vancouver Sun, only 14 of those pieces mentioned the scientific reality that global temperature rise caused by the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities contributed to the fires’ unprecedented intensity and destruction.

 …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…

Timidity and Palliatives While the Planet Burns

Timidity and Palliatives While the Planet Burns

Photograph Source: Eric Fisk – Public Domain

The best conditions for genuine discussion, for me at least, is during a feast of good food and drink. Ancient Greeks called that symposium.

The wisdom behind the tradition of symposium – millennia ago and today — is simple. Friends and guests eating food and drinking wine feel good about themselves. Organic food well-cooked and excellent wine do that. They are medicines. In such euphoria, symposiasts are very likely to be honest, even eloquent, in their expression of their views or opinions.

This is the reason Plato chose the dialogue for the spreading of his ideas. The dialogue comes from intimate symposium discussions.

Today I often hear Americans speaking in radio or television saying this and that must be part of a “national conversation.” I wonder what they have in mind.

Invisible civil war

This is because in the second decade of the twenty-first century Americans are divided as never before. Republicans are embracing guns, perpetual wars, corporate plutocracy, America-first, and ecocide. Indeed, Trump and the Republicans are now moving the country for a possible war against Iran.

The Democrats advocate policies that may improve the well-being of Americans. Yet when the Democrats had the White House and Congress, those policies were timid in fixing the gross inequality among rich and poor in America. In addition, Democrats have yet to propose a coherent plan to diminish and end global warming.

Given this political instability, verging on soft civil war between the rich and poor, the cultural elites are covering up the schism by palliative measures, especially unpolitical but fashionable talk in the academy. Professors pontificate about sexuality, race (whites or blacks or lesbians for new appointments?) and other anthropological headings.

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

Pompeo’s Arctic Shipping Lanes

Pompeo’s Arctic Shipping Lanes

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

America’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at the prestigious Arctic Council biannual meeting in Finland, christened the Arctic meltdown: “A wonderful economic opportunity for international trade.” In a nutshell, here’s a critique of the Secretary’s advice: An ice-free Arctic reduces travel time for shipping lanes between Asia and the West by three weeks, which qualifies as one of the biggest transport revolutions since cargo planes first crossed the Atlantic in the early 20th century.

Additionally, more goodies are at stake, as highlighted by the portly stout Secretary in his address to the biannual in Finland: “Arctic sea lanes could become the 21st century Suez and Panama Canals. Pompeo also called the region, which has lost nearly 90,000 square miles of sea ice since last year, the forefront of opportunity and abundance. It houses 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil, 30 percent of its undiscovered gas, an abundance of uranium, rare earth minerals, gold, diamonds, and millions of square miles of untapped resources, fisheries galore, he said.” (Mike Pompeo: Reductions in Sea Ice Will Open Up Trade Opportunities, The Daily Beast, May 6, 2019)

The Arctic is the newest frontier for commercial interests, drilling, mining, and fishing galore, with remarkably little concern for spills or accidents in one of the harshest yet most sensitive ecosystems on the planet. The Secretary also emphasized American supremacy, by putting both China and Russia on notice for their “aggressive behavior.”

Surprisingly, there is a silver lining within this exercise of pomposity and heavy-duty bombast by Mr. Secretary ignoring, rejecting the inherent dangers of global warming and clearly stating a preference for complete meltdown of the Arctic. Thereafter, the most powerful forces of nature will be un-leashed much sooner than would otherwise be the case. Still, there is a surprising silver lining to all of this nonsense.

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

Adult Lifestyles Sentence Kids to 1,000 Years of “Deadly” Heat Waves

Adult Lifestyles Sentence Kids to 1,000 Years of “Deadly” Heat Waves

Photograph Source: Intothewoods7 – CC BY-SA 4.0

Sixteen year old Greta Thunberg’s School Strike for Climate generation seems likely to witness the beginnings of a grueling, traumatizing, brutal, heat-driven reversal of the human population boom. Why? Because we’ve continued to pack the atmosphere with a little more CO2 with almost every move we make in utterly normal daily routines, thus forcing heat higher and higher day after day after day.

And we’ve collectively waited too long before taking the situation seriously. Now it’s irreversible. A study led by Susan Solomon found that the CO2 we add to the atmosphere every day remains there for centuries, “so that atmospheric temperatures do not drop significantly for at least 1,000 years.” 

Kids thus face an array of heat-driven risks for the next 1,000 years, and the risks are certain to escalate with every next new day of using the atmosphere as a carbon dump. 

But the risks can be reduced. Will that be too much to ask?

As of 2016, even before we collectively forced the heat 1C higher than pre-industrial times, EPA had already reported that, “Children are particularly vulnerable to heat-related illness and death, as their bodies are less able to adapt to heat than adults, and they must rely on others to help keep them safe.”

Writing for The Age, one of Australia’s leading newspapers, journalist Caitlin Fitzsimmons tells her readers, “Let’s not pretend that children and teenagers can’t understand what’s going on.”  She reports that 86 per cent of Australia’s surveyed teens view climate change as a threat to their safety, “with 73 per cent saying it affects the world ‘a lot’ now and 84 per cent saying it will affect the world ‘a lot’ in the future.”

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

A War Reporter Covers “The End of Ice”–And It Will Change the Way You Think About Climate Catastrophe

2Photos: Getty Images Animation: The Intercept

A WAR REPORTER COVERS “THE END OF ICE” — AND IT WILL CHANGE THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT CLIMATE CATASTROPHE

FOCUSING ON BREATH and gratitude, Dahr Jamail’s latest book, “The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption,” stitches together personal introspection and gut-wrenching interviews with leading climate experts. The rapidly receding glaciers of Denali National Park, home to the highest peak in North America, inspired the book’s title. “Seven years of climbing in Alaska had provided me with a front-row seat from where I could witness the dramatic impact of human-caused climate disruption,” Jamail writes.

With vividly descriptive storytelling, Jamail pushes further north into the Arctic Circle where warming is occurring at double speed. He surveys rapid changes in the Pribilof Islands, where indigenous communities have had to contend with die-offs affecting seabirds, fur seals, fish, and more — a collapsing food web. The story continues in the fragile Great Barrier Reef, utterly ravaged by the warming ocean. South Florida is faring no better: Jamail finds that 2.46 million of the state’s acreage will be submerged within his lifetime. Experts are aghast everywhere Jamail visits. In the Amazon, rich in biodiversity, the consequences are especially enormous.

“The End of Ice” readers won’t find calls for technology-based solutions, politicians, mitigating emissions, or the Green New Deal to save us.

Describing the current state of the planet, Jamail likens it to someone in hospice care. The global mean temperature is already 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Not half a decade ago, leading climate scientist James Hansen warned that that one degree would usher in a crisis of sea level rise, melting Arctic ice, and extreme weather. He concluded that the goal of limiting global warming to only 2 degrees was “very dangerous.”

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

Report: Big Oil Is Spending ‘’Too Much’’ On New Oil Production

Report: Big Oil Is Spending ‘’Too Much’’ On New Oil Production

Cash

Big Oil plans to spend nearly US$5 trillion in capital expenditure over the next decade, much of which would go into adding new production. Yet this money will also bring the world farther from the Paris Agreement climate targets, a report from energy industry-focused nonprofit Global Witness warns.

The organization analyzed a report compiled by the International Panel on Climate Change last year and then compared the data with the spending plans of the oil and gas industry. What it found was that investment in any new oil and gas field development was “incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5°C.”

This is the lower target set in the Paris Agreement for the rate at which the Earth warms. The higher and preferable target is 2°C, but it is the less realistically achievable one. The 1.5°C target, however, may be achieved if a lot of things change fast, the IPCC report concluded last year.

Yet Global Witness did not stop there. The organization also calculated that current oil production should be cut by 9 percent and gas production should be reduced by 6 percent if the 1.5°C goal is to be achieved. It also noted in its report that all of the energy industry’s US$4.9-trillion capex planned for the next ten years was “incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5°C.”

The argument runs as follows: if the world is to limit the rise in the average global temperature to 1.5°C, work must be done to reduce its reliance on oil and gas. If this work is successful, all these trillions Big Oil plans to spend on production expansion will be the worst spent money ever. If the work on limiting the rise of temperatures fails, the planet will continue heating up at unacceptably high rates with a slew of adverse consequences hitting mankind.

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

The Earth for Their Possession

The Earth for Their Possession

Book Cover

I was in Hawaii to discuss ‘history from below’ together with that powerful practitioner of said history, scholarly abolitionist, writer, and colleague, Marcus Rediker.  How is ‘history from below’ to be distinguished from similar forms of history writing, such as people’s history, radical history, labor history, social history, not to mention African American history, or women’s history?  One distinction is that since ‘below’ implies ‘above,’ this practice of history always carries with it a notion of relationship as in, for example, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.”  Our conversation on history from below only began on the last day of my visit, Saturday, 20 April, a week after arriving in Honolulu, a week to learn about ‘above’ and ‘below’ in Hawai’i and what lay hidden by them, the commons.

Rediker and I meantime participated in several events concerning the launch of my new book, Red Round Globe Hot Burning:  A Tale at the Crossroads of Commons & Closure, of Love & Terror, of Race & Class, and of Kate and Ned DespardThese events culminated with such challenging questions from his hard-working and brilliant students as: Why is the commons friendlier to women? How does the commons practically link the idealism of romanticism and radicalism?  Can an historian trained with “privileges” write history from below?

The launch began with a gathering at the University of Hawaii organized by Nandita Sharma.  Before the event Nandita, a proponent with her comrade and partner, Gaye Chan, of Eating in Public (also he name of their pamphlet).  They brought along a portable kitchen to feed us and teach us how to cook a delicious meal from local “weeds.”  They commoned for us and then passed along their recipe for Amaranth Goma-ae.  At the University a circle of fifty people came to hear about Red Round Globe Hot Burning whose title comes from William Blake. I recited,

 …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.

Polar Warning: Even Antarctica’s Coldest Region Is Starting to Melt

Melting ice on the coast of Adélie Land in East Antarctica.
Melting ice on the coast of Adélie Land in East Antarctica. REUTERS/PAULINE ASKIN

Polar Warning: Even Antarctica’s Coldest Region Is Starting to Melt

East Antarctica is the coldest spot on earth, long thought to be untouched by warming. But now the glaciers and ice shelves in this frigid region are showing signs of melting, a development that portends dramatic rises in sea levels this century and beyond. 

No place on Earth is colder than East Antarctica. Home to the South Pole and making up two-thirds of the southernmost continent, the vast ice sheets of East Antarctica — formed over tens of millions of years — are nearly three miles thick in places. The temperature commonly hovers around -67 degrees Fahrenheit (-55 degrees Celsius); in 2010, some spots on East Antarctica’s polar plateau plunged to a record-breaking -144 degrees F.

Now, however, parts of the East Antarctic are melting.

Research into what’s happening in East Antarctica is still in its early stages. It’s hard to decipher what exactly is taking place on a gigantic continent of ice with just a few decades of satellite data and limited actual measurements of things like snowfall and ocean temperatures. But according to one controversial paperreleased earlier this year, East Antarctica is now, in fact, shrinking, and is already responsible for 20 percent of the continent’s ice loss.

For decades, researchers considered this portion of the continent to be stable. While warming sea and air temperatures have caused ice shelves and glaciers in the lower-altitude, warmer western regions of the Antarctic to melt and collapse, the larger, colder East had seemed an untouchable behemoth. If anything, climate change was expected to bring more snow to its interior, making its ice sheets grow in size.

 …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…

Climate Research Needs to Change to Help Communities Plan for the Future

Climate Research Needs to Change to Help Communities Plan for the Future

Infrastructure

Climate change is a chronic challenge — it is here now, and will be with us throughout this century and beyond. As the U.S.government’s National Climate Assessment report made clear, it’s already affecting people throughout the United States and around the world.

Warmer temperatures are making heat waves more intense, with harmful effects on human healthMore intense rainfall and higher sea levels are leading to more frequent and intense flooding, with ensuing damages to property, infrastructure, business activity and health. Higher temperatures and strained water supplies are requiring new agricultural approaches, while fisheries are shifting and in some cases shrinking; in some cases, stressed food systems are contributing to national instability.

This reality means society needs to think about climate change in different ways than the past, by focusing on reducing the risk of negative effects. And speaking as a climate scientist, I recognize that climate science research, too, has to change.

Historically, climate science has been primarily curiosity-driven — scientists seeking fundamental understanding of the way our planet works because of the inherent interest in the problem.

Now it’s time for the climate science research enterprise to adopt an expanded approach, one that focuses heavily on integrating fundamental science inquiry with risk management.

Flexible Infrastructure Design

Climate risk management strategies need to be broad, ranging from efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to designing new infrastructure hardened against more frequent extreme weather, to policies that encourage development to shift to less exposed areas.

And these strategies must be flexible. In some cases, decisions made today affect people’s vulnerability for the rest of this century, even though there is much that remains to be learned about how climate change will unfold over the decades to come.

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

Arctic Permafrost No Longer Freezes … Even in Winter

Arctic Permafrost No Longer Freezes … Even in Winter

Global warming is starting to hit hard like there’s no tomorrow, and at current rates of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, there may not be a tomorrow, as emissions continue setting new records year-by-year, expected to hit a 62-year record in 2019. So much for the Paris 2015 climate agreement!

The most sensitive areas to global warming, (1) the Arctic (almost all of its multi-year ice, or old ice, is gone- already melted), and (2) East Antarctica, the coldest spot in the planet… strangely melting, and (3) Siberian ground that “no longer freezes in winter” are three occurrences that should keep world leaders up late into the night, blankly staring at the ceiling.

In fact, over the past couple of decades global warming has groomed ultra-dangerous climate upheavals that could destroy sizeable swaths of civilization. But how soon remains an open question?

Moreover, there are several ecosystem flashpoints with enough potential to massively destroy large segments of life right now, which, in fact, is already happening in real time, and scientifically documented, with nearly total loss of arthropods in the tropical rain forests of Mexico and Puerto Rico as a result of excessive global warming, which can destroy populations of arthropods by inhibiting reproduction and disorienting internal organ functionality (Climate-Driven Declines in Arthropod Abundance Restructure a Rainforest Food Web, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

According to the scientists that conducted the 40-year rainforests studies in Mexico and Puerto Rico, rainforests temperatures exceeded the dreaded 2° C post-industrial guardrail (Maybe the IPCC is on to something by insisting the world must not allow temps to exceed 2° C, post-industrial).

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

Climate Change, Midwest Floods & Food Shortages

Climate Change, Midwest Floods & Food Shortages 

The Great Flood of 1927, flooded the lower Mississippi River valley in April 1927.  It was one of the worst natural disasters in American history. More than 23,000 square miles of land was submerged, hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, and around 250 people died. The flooding impacted areas in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

Following that Great Flood of 1927, we then see the climate swing dramatically in the opposite direction into the extreme drought that led to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms that greatly damaged agriculture in the Midwest prairies during the 1930s. The Dust Bowl was a severe drought that came in three primary waves, 1934, 1936, and 1939–1940. The entire event actually complied with our Economic Confidence Model when many regions of the high plains experienced drought conditions for eight years.

Unfortunately, the global warming people are already out in force and blaming this on moms driving the kids to soccer matches. They always pretend these are catastrophic events never before seen. Cars were not really in wide use until post-1940s. They could care less about history or truth. The cycle is very clear. This major flooding which may destroy at least 6 billion bushels of wheat is a prelude to what is coming.

Long before there was the Global Warming crowd, there were the record-setting heat waves and drought of the 1930s that contributed to the Great Depression and wiping out agriculture that was employing 40% of the civil workforce at the start of the century. There were runs of extreme temperatures which broke all records. There was a stretch of 11 days straight in July with temperatures over 100. The two worst years were 1930 and 1936.

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

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