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“Code Red For Humanity” – UN Warns Climate Change Likely Can’t Be Stopped, And China Is Biggest Contributor

“Code Red For Humanity” – UN Warns Climate Change Likely Can’t Be Stopped, And China Is Biggest Contributor

Paging Greta Thunberg…

On Monday morning millions of smartphone users awoke to a flurry of push alerts from news organizations touting urgent, ground-breaking news: what Bloomberg described as an “epochal” new report from “the world’s top climate scientists” warned that the planet will likely warm by 1.5ºC over the next two decades…without a dramatic reduction in emissions resulting from a change in human activity.

Source: CNN

The report represents the latest update from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Although scientists have been warning for years that climate change represents an apocalyptic threat to the human race (it’s the stated motive behind Elon Musk’s mission to Mars), this latest report “for the first time speaks with certainty about the total responsibility of human activity for rising temperatures”…so human responsibility for climate change hasn’t been a ‘sure thing’ in the eyes of science…until now? CNN added that the scientific community has concluded for the first time that human responsibility is “unequivocal”.

“It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land,” wrote the authors of the IPCC’s sixth global science assessment since 1990 and the first released in more than eight years. The crucial warming threshold of 2°C will be “exceeded during the 21st century,” the IPCC authors concluded, without deep emissions cuts “in the coming decades.”

Bloomberg explains it thusly, while also noting the timing of the report, arriving just three months before the UN’s next round of climate talks – setting up three months of media programming about the importance of these talks:

“More than any other forecast or record, this report’s determinations establish a powerful global consensus less than three months before the UN’s COP26 international climate talks.”

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

Why mitigation will never stabilize the climate

Why mitigation will never stabilize the climate

I have previously shown that it is too late to mitigate, by at least fifty years (see my earlier blog post of 18 January 2021). Central to that argument are the facts of self-reinforcing feedback loops, tipping points, and the realization that temperature increases from higher concentrations of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere have now led to greater amounts of GHGs being emitted from the planet itself rather than just from human activity.

But now it must be shown that the mitigation of human GHGs emissions can NEVER stabilize, let alone reduce, the greenhouse gas effect. I return to the ‘blanket’ analogy, since this is a helpful way of explaining how greenhouse gases trap heat from escaping into space, thus warming the planet. It is like adding a blanket on a bed that you are sleeping in. As said before, there is a delayed response to the warming effect by adding ‘blankets’. It is not instant… about 10 – 20 years for the planet by adding CO2 into the atmosphere.[1]

Mitigation of human generated GHGs is possible, but we have no control over ‘natural’ GHGs emitted from the planet. But that is not the major problem here. It is that over the last few hundred years there has been a massive accumulation of GHGs in the atmosphere. Every year for the last fifty years or more, humans have added tens of billions of tonnes of CO2e annually. The amount back in 1990 was about 35 billion tonnes annually. Now it is more than 50 billion tonnes annually and showing no signs of becoming less despite political ambitions. In other words, we have been adding larger ‘blankets’ every year. Mitigation of human GHGs means adding smaller ‘blankets’, NOT the removal of blankets. So, here then is another reason why mitigation is futile.

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Climate scientists: concept of net zero is a dangerous trap

Sometimes realisation comes in a blinding flash. Blurred outlines snap into shape and suddenly it all makes sense. Underneath such revelations is typically a much slower-dawning process. Doubts at the back of the mind grow. The sense of confusion that things cannot be made to fit together increases until something clicks. Or perhaps snaps.

Collectively we three authors of this article must have spent more than 80 years thinking about climate change. Why has it taken us so long to speak out about the obvious dangers of the concept of net zero? In our defence, the premise of net zero is deceptively simple – and we admit that it deceived us.

The threats of climate change are the direct result of there being too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. So it follows that we must stop emitting more and even remove some of it. This idea is central to the world’s current plan to avoid catastrophe. In fact, there are many suggestions as to how to actually do this, from mass tree planting, to high tech direct air capture devices that suck out carbon dioxide from the air.

The current consensus is that if we deploy these and other so-called “carbon dioxide removal” techniques at the same time as reducing our burning of fossil fuels, we can more rapidly halt global warming. Hopefully around the middle of this century we will achieve “net zero”. This is the point at which any residual emissions of greenhouse gases are balanced by technologies removing them from the atmosphere.

Climeworks factory with tractor in foreground.
A facility for capturing carbon dioxide from air on the roof of a waste incinerating plant in Hinwil, Switzerland July 18, 2017. This is one of the handful of demonstrator projects currently in operation. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

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Climate Change and the Mitigation Myth

Climate Change and the Mitigation Myth

It is not nice to be told that you have been diagnosed with a terminal condition. It is even worse to be given false hope that if you did this or that you could mitigate the problem or turn it around when it cannot. If a medical practitioner does this, they lose their job. But climate scientists do this frequently, and probably to keep their job. It is virtue-signalling to agree with national and international climate agreements which propose that we can fix this by reducing (mitigating) our carbon footprint and carbon emissions… and so continue ‘business as usual’ and live happily ever after.

My response to this is in three sections:

  1. Anthropogenic (human-induced) warming from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be understood in the context of the natural carbon cycle, which until about 150 years ago was in equilibrium.
  2. The mitigation myth is that we can reduce the effects of worsening climate change by reducing anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions e.g., net-zero by 2050, or earlier.
  3. The big problem is not climate change. It is global ecological overshoot: when our ecological footprint exceeds biocapacity or sustainability. Global warming is a result. Overshoot leads to collapse and eventual extinction. The planet is now in irreversible collapse.

1. The Carbon Cycle is out of Equilibrium

Greenhouse gases (GHG) are necessary in the atmosphere to keep the planet warm at an average of 15°C surface temperature.[1] The level of natural GHGs in the atmosphere has been in equilibrium for millennia because the earth has both emitted and absorbed natural GHGs in mostly equal measure (the natural carbon cycle). This all changed with the industrial revolution, about 1750. Since then, anthropogenic or human-caused greenhouse gases have almost doubled the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, and this has been the main driver of global warming. The problem has been compounded by the destruction of carbon absorbing plants and forests.

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

Is Society Collapsing?

Is Society Collapsing?

Abandoned passenger train car, Astoria, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Twenty-five years ago, when the high-tech Second Industrial Revolution had just begun, I made a bet with an editor from Wired magazine that global society led by the United States would collapse in the year 2020 from a confluence of causes created by modern technology out of control.

It would be, I said, a mix of ecological disasters including earth overheating and polar ice melting, political disintegration including failed states worldwide and uprisings in major cities, and economic chaos including insurmountable debt and a stock-market crash and depression. He said, “We won’t even be close,” and slapped down a $1,000 check on my desk. Though a tidy sum in those days, I matched it and we settled on a mutual editor friend as the arbiter, to make the call when the time came.

That time, the end of the year 2020, has now indeed come. Who wins?

As to ecological disaster, the evidence is ample even though the response to it has been negligible. The ten hottest years on earth have been between 2005 and 2020, with 2019 the hottest ever recorded and 2020 very close. That means ice melting at a record rate, with significant loss at glaciers around the world, in Greenland, and at the poles, with ice going three times as fast in the last three years in the Antarctic as just ten years ago and the Arctic in what a scientist at the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University has called a “death spiral.” The U.N. climate panel, which puts the blame for global warming on “greenhouse gasses,” says these must cease by 2030, a goal that not a single major country is capable of meeting.

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

Humans May Have Passed the ‘Point of No Return’ in Climate Crisis, Says Study—But That Doesn’t Mean All Hope Is Lost

Humans May Have Passed the ‘Point of No Return’ in Climate Crisis, Says Study—But That Doesn’t Mean All Hope Is Lost

In order to roll back catastrophic carbon emissions, humans must “start developing the technologies for large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere,” says one of the study’s lead authors.

Melting permafrost in Canada's Northwest Territories, a sign of accelerating global heating. (Photo: Charles Tarnocai/Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

Melting permafrost in Canada’s Northwest Territories sends carbon-rich sediment into the Mackenzie Delta. (Photo: Charles Tarnocai/Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

Humanity may have passed the “point of no return” in the climate crisis—even if everyone on the planet stopped emitting all greenhouse gases at this very moment, according to a study published Thursday.

The study, published in the peer-reviewed British publication Scientific Journals, alarmingly asserts that “the world is already past a point of no return for global warming” and that the only way to halt the catastrophic damage caused by greenhouse emissions is to extract “enormous amounts of carbon dioxide… from the atmosphere.”

“[The crisis] simply will not stop from cutting manmade greenhouse emissions.”
—Jørgen Randers, study co-author

The crisis “simply will not stop from cutting manmade greenhouse gases,” Jørgen Randers, one of the study’s two lead authors, told Future Human. Humanity, stressed Randers, “should accelerate its effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions… and start developing the technologies for large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.”

What exactly does a “point of no return” mean for Earth and its inhabitants? The researchers describe “a threshold which, once surpassed, fundamentally changes the dynamics of the climate system,” including “by triggering irreversible processes like melting of the permafrost, drying of the rainforests, or acidification of surface waters.”

The researchers used a computer model called ESCIMO to simulate outcomes from various levels of CO2 reductions until the year 2500. They concluded that even an immediate reduction to zero greenhouse emissions would still result in a 3°C rise in global temperatures by 2500.

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

The US Oil and Gas Industry’s Methane Problem Is Catching up With It

The US Oil and Gas Industry’s Methane Problem Is Catching up With It

A laid-off oilfield worker's vest and gloves hang on a fence post in front of an idled pump jack in Eddy County, New Mexico
For years, the oil and gas industry has been able to downplay, or outright ignore, the problem of methane. Methane is an invisible gas, and lax state and federal regulations in the U.S. have allowed oil and gas producers to self-report how much of this potent planet-warming gas leaks from its supply chain, which researchers have repeatedly found is a lot more than the industry was admitting to.

But improved technologies, particularly from satellites, have allowed the world to increasingly fact-check industry numbers, shining a light on the true climate impact of natural gas, which is primarily methane. These days, methane emissions have become an industry black eye, to the point that major players are now clamoring for regulations after the Trump administration recently finalized the rollback of Obama-era rules meant to reduce methane leaks from oil and gas.

On August 24, the Houston Chronicle published an op-ed arguing for the United States to regulate methane emissions for the oil and gas industry, and it was co-written by two influential voices in the industry, Antoine Halff and Andrew Gould. Halff was formerly the head of oil analysis at the International Energy Agency, an independent, intergovernmental organization focused on energy research and policy — and notorious for its overly optimistic (and inaccurate) outlooks for fossil fuels and overly pessimistic views on renewables. Gould is the former CEO of Schlumberger, the world’s largest oilfield services company. Gould also currently serves on the board of Occidental Petroleum Corporation — one of the largest fracking companies among the Permian oilfields of Texas.

Halff and Gould were writing in response to the Trump administration’s repeal of existing methane regulations. However, as a sign of the changing times, they argued that regulating the greenhouse gas is simply good business for the oil and gas industry.

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

BC Needs a ‘Wartime Approach’ to the Climate Emergency. And Now

BC Needs a ‘Wartime Approach’ to the Climate Emergency. And Now

The urgent response to the pandemic has shown us we can do it. We can’t dither another minute.

All of us who heed the warnings of climate scientists are increasingly alarmed as we stare at the harrowing gap between what the science says is necessary and what our politics seems prepared to entertain. Despite decades of calls to action, our greenhouse gas emissions are not on a path to stave off a horrific future for our children and future generations.

Case in point: The accompanying chart tracks British Columbia’s emissions going back to the year 2000. What is evident is that, in the face of the defining challenge of our time, our politicians are not rising to the task at hand.

582px version of GHG_Chart.jpg
Source: Environment and Climate Change Canada: Tables IPCC Sector Canada.

Let this deeply disturbing chart sink in. And then let us all agree — political leaders, civil servants, environmental organizations, academics and policy wonks, labour leaders, socially responsible business leaders — that what we have been doing is simply not working. We have run out the clock with distracting debates about incremental changes.

But where it matters most — actual GHG emissions — we have accomplished precious little and have frequently slipped backwards. The most recent GHG data is from 2018, and B.C.’s new Clean BC climate plan was only introduced late that year, so it may yet show some progress. But our track record leaves much to be desired.

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

Climate explained: why carbon dioxide has such outsized influence on Earth’s climate

I heard that carbon dioxide makes up 0.04% of the world’s atmosphere. Not 0.4% or 4%, but 0.04%! How can it be so important in global warming if it’s such a small percentage?

I am often asked how carbon dioxide can have an important effect on global climate when its concentration is so small – just 0.041% of Earth’s atmosphere. And human activities are responsible for just 32% of that amount.

I study the importance of atmospheric gases for air pollution and climate change. The key to carbon dioxide’s strong influence on climate is its ability to absorb heat emitted from our planet’s surface, keeping it from escaping out to space.

The ‘Keeling Curve,’ named for scientist Charles David Keeling, tracks the accumulation of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere, measured in parts per million. Scripps Institution of OceanographyCC BY

Early greenhouse science

The scientists who first identified carbon dioxide’s importance for climate in the 1850s were also surprised by its influence. Working separately, John Tyndall in England and Eunice Foote in the United States found that carbon dioxide, water vapor and methane all absorbed heat, while more abundant gases did not.

Scientists had already calculated that the Earth was about 59 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius) warmer than it should be, given the amount of sunlight reaching its surface. The best explanation for that discrepancy was that the atmosphere retained heat to warm the planet.

Tyndall and Foote showed that nitrogen and oxygen, which together account for 99% of the atmosphere, had essentially no influence on Earth’s temperature because they did not absorb heat. Rather, they found that gases present in much smaller concentrations were entirely responsible for maintaining temperatures that made the Earth habitable, by trapping heat to create a natural greenhouse effect.

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By Many Calculations, LNG Is a Fail for BC: Report

By Many Calculations, LNG Is a Fail for BC: Report

The math for liquefied natural gas is bad on emissions, revenues, jobs, even offsetting coal in China, finds a new study.

JohnHorganInvestingCanada.jpg
Go figure. BC NDP Premier John Horgan announcing in 2018 a $40-billion investment by the consortium LNG Canada in its Kitimat terminal for processing and export. Photo: BC Government.

David Hughes, one of the nation’s foremost energy analysts, has a simple message for the governments of British Columbia and Canada when it comes to advocating for LNG projects.

“Do the math.”

Hughes has parsed the numbers and they don’t add up on methane emissions, climate change targets, resource royalties, job benefits or even basic economics.

“The math is clear,” says Hughes, whose latest 57-page report on LNG exports highlights a long pipeline of damning figures.

Emissions targets: Won’t LNG help hit them? The numbers say noThe Tyee is supported by readers like you Join us and grow independent media in Canada

The province’s CleanBC plan, for example, demands an 80-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 from 2007 levels.

But Hughes, who was a scientific researcher for 32 years at the Geological Survey of Canada, checked the math on emissions based on energy production forecasts made by the Canada Energy Regulator.

His math is conservative. It excluded any LNG exports. It assumes current major reductions in methane leaks from gas extraction might be plugged. And it further assumes the electrification of some upstream projects. Still, Hughes found that “emissions from oil and gas production would exceed B.C.’s 2050 target by 54 per cent.”

(A group of scientists writing in Nature found the same thing on a global scale last year: just using existing fossil fuel infrastructure takes the world into climate change hell.)

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

From Hurricane Maria to COVID, Gas Lobbyist-turned-Trump Energy Lawyer Uses Crises as ‘Opportunity’

From Hurricane Maria to COVID, Gas Lobbyist-turned-Trump Energy Lawyer Uses Crises as ‘Opportunity’

Bill Cooper being sworn in by Rick Perry

Among a string of recent environmental rollbacks, President Donald Trump’s U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) aims to vastly narrow the scope of environmental reviews for those applying for liquefied natural gas (LNG) export permits. The proposal has been guided by Bill Cooper, a former oil and gas industry lobbyist who’s now a top lawyer for the DOE.

On May 1, the DOE issued a proposal to limit environmental reviews for LNG export permit proposals so that the review applies to only the export process itself — literally “occurring at or after the point of export.” The rule would take off the table for consideration lifecycle greenhouse gas analyses, broader looks at both build-outs of pipelines and power plants attached to the export proposals, and other potential environmental impacts.

It comes as many larger forces up the pressure on LNG projects: The oil and gas industry is facing financial crisis, exports of fracked gas to the global market are steeply waning, and the COVID-19 pandemic and accompanying economic nosedive are marching on in the United States.

The DOE’s Bill Cooper, an oil and gas attorney by background with a long history of navigating the industry through crises both inside and outside of the federal government, signed off on the regulatory proposal.

Now DOE General Counsel, Cooper has proven instrumental in creating today’s U.S. regulatory regime both for fracking for natural gas and exporting it. This attempted rule change is just the latest chapter in that story. For Cooper, crisis has consistently served as an opportunity to implement regulatory change to favor the oil and gas industry.

As DeSmog has reported, Cooper played a critical role in getting regulatory exemption language now known as the “Halliburton Loophole” inserted into the 2005 energy bill

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New Study Finds Far Greater Methane Threat from Fossil Fuel Industry

New Study Finds Far Greater Methane Threat from Fossil Fuel Industry

The gas plays a powerful role in driving up global temperatures.

COVER.Methane-Fossil-Fuel-Industry.jpg
A new study found that methane emissions from human activities — mainly fossil fuels — are probably 25 to 40 per cent higher than previously estimated. Photo via Shutterstock.

A new study published in Nature may have ended a long scientific debate about the key source of rising methane levels in the atmosphere.

It found that methane emissions from human activities — mainly fossil fuels — are probably 25 to 40 per cent higher than previously estimated, while natural sources of methane emissions are up to 90 per cent lower than previously estimated.

In plain English, that means the fossil fuel industry is having a much greater impact on climate destabilization than previously thought.

Methane, the main chemical constituent of natural gas, is a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide in the short term. Although methane dissipates faster than carbon dioxide, it has 80 times the climate warming impact over a 20-year timespan.

Every day, the oil and gas industry burns or releases methane by design, often as an unwanted byproduct of oil production, or leaks it accidently through faulty or aging equipment — a form of chronic spillage known as “fugitive emissions.” The Tyee is supported by readers like you Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Methane also escapes while industry strips a number of impurities and contaminants from natural gas gathered in gas fields, including hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide.

For years the fossil fuel industry has claimed that natural gas is a clean fuel that will serve as bridge to a renewable future, but recent studiesshow leakage rates are highly underestimated, thereby challenging that claim.

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What is Low-Carbon Living?

WHAT IS LOW-CARBON LIVING?

It’s re-imagining our lives to be more resilient, more abundant and more luxurious, while also being gentler on the Earth. Sound impossible? It’s not! My little family of four utilizes appropriate technology to lower our homestead’s carbon footprint, and it makes us happier, healthier and better connected to our community. Check out what we’re doing to learn how.

husking roselle.jpg

The Truth About: Carbon Footprint Calculators

A carbon footprint is a best guess about how much greenhouse gas my actions (and those taken on my behalf) cause to be put into the atmosphere. It’s an attempt to measure the harm I do, understand it and then reduce it by making different choices. If you’re wondering whether it matters, I recommend reading The Uninhabitable Earth. (If you can’t find it through your local library, that’s an affiliate link. My commission doesn’t raise your price and supports The Cool Effect.)

All carbon footprint calculations are incomplete because the economy is complex. A gallon of gas burned in your car directly emits CO2 and other greenhouse gasses (usually measured in CO2 equivalent). The equipment that mines petroleum also gives off pollution, as does the equipment that refines and transports it, and the equipment that makes that equipment. Add this in and the total emissions from a gallon of gas rise by a third to 27.6 lbs.

What about the emissions that occur when the road between the oilfield and the refinery is repaved? Are they divided between the footprints of all humans who drive that road, or all humans who consume the products that travel on it?

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The Top 5 Ways We Use Oil & Gas

The Top 5 Ways We Use Oil & Gas

Petchem

If climate change and the use of fossil fuels is starting to worry you, consider this: The lion’s share of the petroleum in the United States is being used just to get around–to get people and things from point A to point B. 

Industrial, residential, commercial and electrical power usage of petroleum pales in comparison.   

Fossil fuels–which include crude oil and other liquids–are refined into petroleum products for a multitude of uses, and last year, the United States consumed over 20 million barrels per day. 

A whopping 69 percent of that was consumed by transportation. Industry, which the masses like to villainize most in terms of fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, used only 25 percent. Residential usage accounted for only 3 percent of our petroleum consumption, and commercial, only 2 percent. 

What about electricity? American electricity generation used only 1 percent of those petroleum products. 

Source: EIA

So, for anyone looking to pinpoint where we need to start cheerleading for renewables or fossil-fuels shaming, here are the top 5 uses of petroleum products to help redirect the debate: 

#5 Oceans of Plastic: Still Gas, 0.703M BPD

While primarily referring to methane and ethane, “still gas” is any form or mixture of gases produced in refineries by distillation, cracking, reforming, and other processes. That means it also includes ethylene, normal butane, butylenes, propane, propylene, and others. 

It’s used most as refinery fuel or petrochemical feedstock. 

The conversion factor is 6 million Btus per fuel oil equivalent barrel.

U.S. refineries burned nearly 240 million barrels of still gas in 2018. 

But petrochemicals are one of the largest drivers of global oil demand, so it’s a circular competition here for still gas. 

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

‘Factfulness’ may calm you down, but won’t change our ecocidal trajectory

‘Factfulness’ may calm you down, but won’t change our ecocidal trajectory

Here and there people have been referring to author Hans Rosling’s idea of “factfulness” as an antidote to gloomy thinking about the trajectory of the human enterprise. Rosling writes:

[T]he vast majority of the world’s population live somewhere in the middle of the income scale. Perhaps they are not what we think of as middle class, but they are not living in extreme poverty. Their girls go to school, their children get vaccinated. Perhaps not on every single measure, or every single year, but step by step, year by year, the world is improving. In the past two centuries, life expectancy has more than doubled. Although the world faces huge challenges, we have made tremendous progress.

“Factfulness,” it seems, relies on nothing more than drawing attention to a narrow set of facts. Yes, we have made tremendous progress for humans taken alone. The problem with such assessments is that they leave out how that progress was purchased. While Rosling does not deny climate change, profligate resource consumption or toxic pollution, he does not see that they are the pillars upon which the so-called “progress” we’ve achieved rests and not mere side-effects.

I agree with Rosling that the daily flow of news does not provide an accurate picture of our true trajectory. While the media may overplay the negative news about human well-being or at least give the wrong impression, it vastly underplays the damage that human dominance has inflicted on the biosphere. And, it reliably ignores the relationship between continual growth in consumption and population and that damage.

As I have written previously, the definition of “world” is crucial in the phrase “the world is getting better.” Most of the cheerleaders for our current system focus on humans alone who make up only a fraction of “the world.” Those cheerleaders fail to understand that the shortcomings of the current system will not be remedied by doing more of the same. The health of the biosphere will not get better with greater and greater emissions of  greenhouse gases or more deforestation or more soil erosion, all integral to the “progress” of humans under the current system if we’re going to keep adding population and raising living standards.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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