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Rex Weyler: Why is the political process so slow to respond to our ecological crisis?

Rex Weyler: Why is the political process so slow to respond to our ecological crisis?

Preface.  Rex Weyler is one of the co-founders of Greenpeace in Canada, a brilliant ecologist and journalist, and more. His blog is here: https://www.rexweyler.ca/greenpeace

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Rex Wyler. September 2021. Ecological crisis: Might as well speak the truth

Why is the political process — worldwide — so slow in responding appropriately to our ecological crisis?

We may point out that most political processes are hobbled by corruption, self-interest, and bureaucratic incompetence. However, there may be a deeper reason, connected to how the status quo protects itself, not just against foreign aggressors, but against dissident ideas that threaten its accepted narrative.

Regarding our ecological problems, the popular narrative of most societies and governments today is that we have a “climate problem,” which can be solved with “renewable technologies” such as windmills, carbon capture, and efficient batteries.

However, global heating is a symptom of a much larger, more fundamental ecological crisis articulated by William Rees, the Limits to Growth study, the Post-Carbon Institute  and other ecologically aware observers. Humanity’s urgent and primary challenge is what ecologists call “overshoot,” the predicament of any species that grows beyond the capacity of its environment. Wolves overshoot the prey in their watershed, algae overshoot the nutrient capacity of a lake, and humanity has overshot the entire capacity of Earth. Global heating, the biodiversity crisis, depleted soils, and disappearing forests are all symptoms of ecological overshoot.

All paths out of overshoot (genuine solutions) involve a contraction of the species and a decline of material/energy throughput. There are no exceptions.

Furthermore, the contraction of humanity is inevitable, so all genuine options exist within this framework, whether we respond appropriately or not…

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

The decline of oil has already begun

In 1961, when I was 14, working on a science fair project, my father – a geologist and petroleum engineer – explained oil depletion to me. To grow production, oil companies were drilling deeper and deeper wells, developing technologies to extract more oil from spent fields, and would one day tap into shale rock and the Canadian tar sands to extract the dregs.

Oil Spill and Burnt Forest Action in Brazil. © Adriano Machado / Greenpeace
Greenpeace activists protest oil in front of the Palácio do Planalto, in Brasília. © Adriano Machado / Greenpeace

Oil, he explained, was a finite store of condensed organic matter from the bottoms of ancient seas. The industry had been extracting the highest quality and least expensive oil, but over time, the quality of oil would decline, the cost of finding it would increase, and decades in the future, perhaps in my lifetime, oil would no longer be economic to produce.

Although we would not technically see the end of all oil on Earth, the cost/benefit ratio would begin to favour other forms of energy. He told me then, in 1961, that oil companies should be developing other energy sources, that they should consider themselves in the “energy business,” not just the oil business.

Since my father knew all this 60 years ago, I suspect that virtually every engineer and manager in the oil industry knew the same facts. They knew oil was a finite resource, and would eventually run out. They also knew that burning oil created carbon emissions, which would heat the planet. In 1965, the American Petroleum Institute warned that CO2 pollution could “cause marked changes in climate” with “catastrophic consequence.”

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

Climate Campaigners Say ‘Listen to the Science’ as New Study Shows Earth Now Warmer Than Any Time in Last 12,000 Years

Climate Campaigners Say ‘Listen to the Science’ as New Study Shows Earth Now Warmer Than Any Time in Last 12,000 Years

The study “changes the baseline and emphasizes just how critical it is to take our situation seriously,” its lead researcher said.

A protester is seen holding a placard during a climate change demonstration. (Photo: Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A new study published in the journal Nature shows the Earth is now hotter than it’s been at any time during the past 12,000 years. (Photo: Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Climate campaigners on Thursday pointed to a study showing that Earth is hotter than it’s ever been during the entire epoch of human civilization as the latest proof of the need to treat human-caused global heating like the dire emergency that it is.

“The modern, human-caused global warming period is accelerating a long-term increase in global temperatures, making today completely uncharted territory.”
—Samantha Bova,
Rutgers University

On Wednesday, the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature published a report revealing that an analysis of ocean surface temperatures found that the planet is hotter now than at any other time in the past 12,000 years, and that it may actually be warmer than at any point during the last 125,000 years.

Researchers Samantha Bova, Yair Rosenthal, Zhengyu Liu, Shital P. Godad, and Mi Yan detemined this by solving what scientists call the “Holocene temperature conundrum.” This was the mystery of why the global heating that began at the end of the last ice age 12,000 years ago peaked around 6,000 years later—before giving way to the onset of a cooling period that lasted until the Industrial Revolution, when the current anthropogenic warming period began.

It turns out that the collected data, obtained from fossilized seashells, was innacurate, showing only hot summers while missing the colder winters.

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

GREEN ENERGY DOUBLE-TALK BEGINS: First Major Oil Producer Announces Deadline to End Oil Extraction, But There’s A Catch

GREEN ENERGY DOUBLE-TALK BEGINS: First Major Oil Producer Announces Deadline to End Oil Extraction, But There’s A Catch

According to the Washington Post article published yesterday, Denmark was the first major oil-producing country to announce a deadline to end oil extraction. While this may sound like a “Victory” for the Green Energy Movement, there’s a catch. While Denmark announced that it would end all oil extraction by 2050, the country will likely run out of oil reserves well before that date.

I find this quite hilarious because all anyone has to do is look at a bit of data, and you can find out that Denmark’s oil-producing days are quickly coming to an end… WITH OR WITHOUT GREEN ENERGY.

The Washington Post article titled, Denmark becomes first major oil-producing nation to set deadline to end extraction, stated the following:

The decision was applauded by some environmental activists, with Greenpeace celebrating it as a “watershed moment,” although other groups had hoped for a faster timeline.

Denmark’s new rules mean companies will be barred from receiving new licenses to search for and extract oil and gas resources. Previously issued licenses will remain valid until 2050.

Denmark is the top oil producer in the European Union, but it has come under mounting pressure as the E.U. aims to become carbon-neutral within the next 30 years.

“It’s a historic decision for Denmark,” Dan Jørgensen, the Danish climate and energy minister, told The Washington Post in an interview Friday.

Please note the BOLDED text in the quote from the article above. What a laugh indeed. “The decision was applauded by some environmental activists??” Are you kidding me?? Even Greenpeace celebrated it as a “WATERSHED MOMENT.” Listen, I really admire some of the work being done by Greenpeace, but this is pure BOLLOCKS.

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

The decline of oil has already begun

In 1961, when I was 14, working on a science fair project, my father – a geologist and petroleum engineer – explained oil depletion to me. To grow production, oil companies were drilling deeper and deeper wells, developing technologies to extract more oil from spent fields, and would one day tap into shale rock and the Canadian tar sands to extract the dregs.

Oil Spill and Burnt Forest Action in Brazil. © Adriano Machado / Greenpeace
Greenpeace activists protest oil in front of the Palácio do Planalto, in Brasília. © Adriano Machado / Greenpeace

Oil, he explained, was a finite store of condensed organic matter from the bottoms of ancient seas. The industry had been extracting the highest quality and least expensive oil, but over time, the quality of oil would decline, the cost of finding it would increase, and decades in the future, perhaps in my lifetime, oil would no longer be economic to produce.

Although we would not technically see the end of all oil on Earth, the cost/benefit ratio would begin to favour other forms of energy. He told me then, in 1961, that oil companies should be developing other energy sources, that they should consider themselves in the “energy business,” not just the oil business.

Since my father knew all this 60 years ago, I suspect that virtually every engineer and manager in the oil industry knew the same facts. They knew oil was a finite resource, and would eventually run out. They also knew that burning oil created carbon emissions, which would heat the planet. In 1965, the American Petroleum Institute warned that CO2 pollution could “cause marked changes in climate” with “catastrophic consequence.”

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

Food sovereignty now and beyond COVID-19

Food sovereignty now and beyond COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed daily realities in nearly every corner of the world. But for millions of people, fears about access to food have made the crisis even worse. Recently the UN warned of disruption to food supplies and further loss of incomes and livelihoods – up to 1.6 billion workers affected in the formal economy alone. Food banks and community organisations are doing their best to help those in immediate need. But as the pandemic collides with inequality and climate emergency, it’s clear we need major changes in our approach to food and agriculture. 

Ecological Farmer in Kenya © Cheryl-Samantha Owen / Greenpeace
Farmers in Kenya are effectively applying ecological farming practices that are increasing their ability to build resilience to and cope with climate change.

The food system was broken long before coronavirus came along. The current crisis has exposed the fault-lines and renewed urgency to tackle root causes. This means asking hard questions and digging deeper for solutions. How is it that 30% of food is wasted globally and unhealthy food is fuelling obesity and diabetes, while 820 million people don’t have enough to eat? Why are millions being “forced to choose between hunger or COVID-19”? 

The industrial and commodity-based food system has failed to adequately feed many people in this world. This isn’t due to a lack of food but to the conditions of extreme inequality, and the wrong type of food being produced, traded or promoted by powerful corporate interests that control the food and agriculture sectors. COVID-19 has once again shown us just how risky it is to let corporations be in charge of feeding people. 

Ecological Produce at Farmers Market in Paris. © Peter Caton / Greenpeace
Shopping at Raspail Market in central Paris. Raspail is one of the largest ecological markets in Paris. © Peter Caton / Greenpeace

Changing our food system

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

Oilsands Firms ‘Morally Responsible’ for Deaths and Destruction from Climate Disasters

Oilsands Firms ‘Morally Responsible’ for Deaths and Destruction from Climate Disasters

Greenpeace’s Yeb Saño explains what a Philippines human rights investigation means for the fossil fuel industry in Canada.

YebSanoMics.jpg
Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Naderev Yeb Saño has long pressed for action against climate change. He led a hunger strike as lead Filipino delegate to the 2013 UN climate summit. Photo: Creative Commons, courtesy tcktcktck.org.

Four years ago, the Philippines Commission on Human Rights began posing an incendiary question. 

Should 47 of the planet’s most polluting companies have to answer legally for the deaths and suffering caused by climate change?

This includes the more than 6,300 Filipinos who died in 2013 during Typhoon Haiyan, which was made more destructive by rising global temperatures. 

Four of the companies named in the investigation are Canadian oilsands producers — Canadian Natural Resources, Encana, Husky and Suncor — and Canadian environmental law experts like York University’s David Estrin presented evidence at hearings held by the commission. 

The commission, established in the Philippines constitution, announced its findings last week at the COP25 climate talks in Madrid.The Tyee is supported by readers like you Join us and grow independent media in Canada

While the commission cannot make legal rulings, it found that the fossil fuel companies under investigation are “morally responsible” for death and destruction linked to their business model. Some legal experts think this could be a starting point for civil and criminal cases against those companies. 

The Tyee spoke with Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Naderev Yeb Saño, who was in Madrid for the climate talks, about the implications of the commission’s decision for Canadian oilsands producers and the political leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who support them. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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

Screw the Pooch

Screw the Pooch

Jan van Eijk The Arnolfini portrait 1434

I first asked Dr. D. a few years ago if I could turn one one his comments at the Automatic Earth into an essay. The following illustrates why I asked. Not sure he understands why some of his rants stand out while others do not, but they certainly do. Go to the Automatic Earth comments section to figure that one out. He’s there every day.

And you’re free to disagree of course. And I myself am good, have an essay on the same topic waiting but love the view from over there. Nothing not to like.

It USED to be that when a newspaper catastrophically screwed the pooch as we Yanks say, people would cancel their subscription to such a piece of pure, useless, misleading garbage. 

Dr. D.: Legally, the path is pretty clear and incredibly old. It’s always been illegal to slander (in voice) or libel (in print) someone. The Covington kids are following this right now. It’s illegal everywhere, including Britain and New Zealand, and the legal threshold has a couple of bullet points. There has to be provable damage, the facts provided have to wrong, they have to be specific, and so on. Then you sue civilly for compensation in measure with the damage caused. Pretty simple. But if it’s actual libel of the sort anyone actually means, not just “I disagree with you”, then all these elements are absolutely in play. No false accusations, no just getting the facts wrong on accident.

What’s more, the government is never the plaintiff. Although in theory I suppose they could get standing, in practice slander and libel are prosecuted BY private people AGAINST private people, which eliminates a major element of government censorship and repression.

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

Global Warming A “Hoax And Scam” Pushed By Greedy Government Scientists: Greenpeace Co-Founder

Global Warming A “Hoax And Scam” Pushed By Greedy Government Scientists: Greenpeace Co-Founder

The co-founder and former president of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, says that climate change is a “complete hoax and scam,” which has been “taking over science with superstition and a kind of toxic combination of religion and political ideology.” 

Moore, who recently made headlines for calling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “pompous little twit” and “garden-variety hypocrite” on climate change, sat down with SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with hosts Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak.

The Greenpeace co-founder’s message echoes that of John Coleman, the late Weather Channel founder who called global warming “the greatest scam in history.” 

Moore told Breitbart how fear and guilt are driving the climate change argument, reports Breitbart News

Fear has been used all through history to gain control of people’s minds and wallets and all else, and the climate catastrophe is strictly a fear campaign — well, fear and guilt — you’re afraid you’re killing your children because you’re driving them in your SUV and emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and you feel guilty for doing that. There’s no stronger motivation than those two.

LISTEN: 

According to Moore, the climate change movement has co-opted and corrupted politicans and bureaucracies in order to exert further control over people, Moore explained – noting that “green” companies only exist on the back of taxpayers. 

And so you’ve got the green movement creating stories that instill fear in the public. You’ve got the media echo chamber — fake news — repeating it over and over and over again to everybody that they’re killing their children, and then you’ve got the green politicians who are buying scientists with government money to produce fear for them in the form of scientific-looking materials, and then you’ve got the green businesses, the rent-seekers and the crony capitalists who are taking advantage of massive subsidies, huge tax write-offs, and government mandates requiring their technologies to make a fortune on this, and then of course you’ve got the scientists who are willingly, they’re basically hooked on government grants.

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

What can we do?

What can we do?

Rainbow over the Tapajós River in the Amazon © Todd Southgate / Greenpeace

At the University of Minnesota Dr. Nate Hagens teaches an honours course called “Reality 101: A Survey of the Human Predicament.” Hagens operated his own hedge fund on Wall Street until he glimpsed, “a serious disconnect between capitalism, growth, and the natural world. Money did not appear to bring wealthy clients more well being.” Hagens became editor of The Oil Drum, and now sits on the Board of the Post Carbon Institute and the Institute for Integrated Economic Research.

Reality 101 addresses humanity’s toughest challenges: economic decline, inequality, pollution, biodiversity loss, and war. Students learn about systems ecology, neuroscience, and economics. “We ask hard questions,” says Hagens. “What is wealth? What are the limits to growth? We attempt to face our crises head on.”

Some students feel inspired to action, and some report finding the material “depressing.” One student shared the course material with a family member, who asked, “So what can I do?” The student struggled to answer this question, and the listener chastised her: “why did you explain all this to me, if you can’t tell me what to do?!”

A fair question. One that, as environmentalists, we often get asked. At the request of Dr Hagens, here is my list:

What can we do?

I have been asking this question all of my adult life. As I’ve witnessed the crisis intensify, I’ve experienced feelings of panic, anger, and helplessness. Nevertheless, I also feel at peace. I love my family and friends, I enjoy life in my community, and love my time in the natural world. Here are some of the ways I believe we can deal with anxiety about the world and take action:

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

What can we do?

At the University of Minnesota Dr. Nate Hagens teaches an honours course called “Reality 101: A Survey of the Human Predicament.” Hagens operated his own hedge fund on Wall Street until he glimpsed, “a serious disconnect between capitalism, growth, and the natural world. Money did not appear to bring wealthy clients more well being.” Hagens became editor of The Oil Drum, and now sits on the Board of the Post Carbon Institute and the Institute for Integrated Economic Research.

Reality 101 addresses humanity’s toughest challenges: economic decline, inequality, pollution, biodiversity loss, and war. Students learn about systems ecology, neuroscience, and economics. “We ask hard questions,” says Hagens. “What is wealth? What are the limits to growth? We attempt to face our crises head on.”

Some students feel inspired to action, and some report finding the material “depressing.” One student shared the course material with a family member, who asked, “So what can I do?” The student struggled to answer this question, and the listener chastised her: “why did you explain all this to me, if you can’t tell me what to do?!”

A fair question. One that, as environmentalists, we often get asked. At the request of Dr Hagens, here is my list:

What can we do?

Tapajós River in the Amazon © Todd Southgate / Greenpeace

Rainbow over the Tapajós River in the Amazon © Todd Southgate / Greenpeace

I have been asking this question all of my adult life. As I’ve witnessed the crisis intensify, I’ve experienced feelings of panic, anger, and helplessness. Nevertheless, I also feel at peace. I love my family and friends, I enjoy life in my community, and love my time in the natural world. Here are some of the ways I believe we can deal with anxiety about the world and take action:

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

Trade Deals and the Environmental Crisis

Trade Deals and the Environmental Crisis

Those representing the U.S. in these negotiations are mainly business lobbyists who have been given the frame of state power to promote policies that benefit the businesses they represent. The thrust of the agreements is to enhance corporate power through legal mechanisms including patents, intellectual property rights and ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) provisions that create supranational judiciaries run by corporate lawyers for the benefit of corporations. Shifting the power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions to the corporations producing them precludes effective regulation in the public interest. The position that environmental harms must be proven before regulations are implemented leaves a dead planet as the admissible evidence.

U.S. President Barack Obama is both the most articulate American politician urging action on climate change and the central Liberal proponent of the trade agreements. The apparent paradox isn’t difficult to understand— the trade agreements will be legally binding on signatory states while Mr. Obama’s statement of the problem won’t be. As evidence of global warming mounts the Republican tactic of denial is looking more and more delusional. By articulating the problem Mr. Obama poses Democrats as the solution while handing the power to curtail greenhouse gas emissions to business lobbyists and corporate lawyers.

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

TTIP—American Economic Imperialism

TTIP—American Economic Imperialism

Greenpeace has done that part of the world whose representatives are so corrupt or so stupid as to sign on to the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic “partnerships” a great service. Greenpeace secured and leaked the secret TTIP documents that Washington and global corporations are pushing on Europe. The official documents prove that my description of these “partnerships” when they first appeared in the news is totally correct.

These so-called “free trade agreements” are not trade agreements. The purpose of the “partnerships,” which were drafted by global corporations, is to make corporations immune to the laws of soverign countries in which they do business. Any country’s sovereign law whether social, environmental, food safety, labor protections—any law or regulation—that impacts a corporation’s profits is labeled a “restraint on trade.” The “partnerships” permit corporations to file a suit that overturns the law or regulation and also awards the corporation damages paid by the taxpayers of the country that tried to protect its environment or the safety of its food and workers.

The law suit is not heard in the courts of the country or in any court. It is heard in a corporate tribunal in which corporations serve as judge, jury, and prosecutor.

In other words, the “partnerships” give global corporations the power to overturn democratic outcomes. Allegedly, Europe consists of democracies. Democracies pass laws protecting the environment and the safety of food and labor, but these laws democratically enacted reduce profits. Anything less than a sweatshop, with starvation wages, no environmental protection, no safety legislation for food or worker, can be overturned at will by global corporations under the terms of the “partnerships.”

Only a traitor, a well paid one, could sign such a pact.

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

Five Years After Fukushima, ‘No End in Sight’ to Ecological Fallout

Fukushima-Japan-Nuclear-Radiation-Disaster

The environmental impacts of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster are already becoming apparent, according to a new analysis from Greenpeace Japan, and for humans and other living things in the region, there is “no end in sight” to the ecological fallout.

The report warns that these impacts—which include mutations in trees, DNA-damaged worms, and radiation-contaminated mountain watersheds—will last “decades to centuries.” The conclusion is culled from a large body of independent scientific research on impacted areas in the Fukushima region, as well as investigations by Greenpeace radiation specialists over the past five years.

“The government’s massive decontamination program will have almost no impact on reducing the ecological threat from the enormous amount of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster,” said Kendra Ulrich, senior nuclear campaigner at Greenpeace Japan. “Already, over 9 million cubic meters of nuclear waste are scattered over at least 113,000 locations across Fukushima prefecture.”

According to Radiation Reloaded: Ecological Impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident 5 Years Later, studies have shown:

  • High radiation concentrations in new leaves, and at least in the case of cedar, in pollen;
  • apparent increases in growth mutations of fir trees with rising radiation levels;
  • heritable mutations in pale blue grass butterfly populations and DNA-damaged worms in highly contaminated areas, as well as apparent reduced fertility in barn swallows;
  • decreases in the abundance of 57 bird species with higher radiation levels over a four year study; and
  • high levels of caesium contamination in commercially important freshwater fish; and radiological contamination of one of the most important ecosystems – coastal estuaries.

The report comes amid a push by the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe to resettle contaminated areas and also restart nuclear reactors in Japan that were shut down in the aftermath of the crisis.

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

In Greenpeace Sting, Professors Agree to Produce Research for Fossil Fuel Industry Without Disclosure

“How much have you taken from Peabody Coal?”

That was the question Greenpeace researcher Jesse Coleman asked prominent climate change skeptic and Princeton physicist William Happer in a Senate hearing room Tuesday afternoon, just as Happer was preparing to testify before Sen. Ted Cruz’s Commerce subcommittee.

Hours earlier, Happer had been exposed as one of the two victims of a sting in which Greenpeace researchers posed as consultants for the fossil fuel industry. They got Happer and a Pennsylvania State University professor to agree to accept funding to produce pro-industry research while concealing the source of that funding.

Happer was none too pleased with Coleman’s question.

“You son of a bitch, I haven’t taken a dime!” replied Happer. “I haven’t taken a dime, you son of a bitch.”

Watch the exchange:

In fact, in email exchanges he thought he was having with a business advisory firm based in Beirut, Happer had described his convoluted remuneration agreement with Peabody Coal: His fee, in return for his testimony at a regulatory hearing in Minnesota, was to go not directly to him, but to a nonprofit that paid some of his expenses.

The other sting victim was Frank Clemente, a professor emeritus of sociology at Penn State known for his pro-coal views. He received an email in which  Greenpeace U.K. investigators Lawrence Carter and Maeve McClenaghan posed as a fixer for an Indonesian energy company. They asked him to produce a “briefing paper” to “counter damaging studies on Indonesian coal deaths, which have appeared in run up to Paris [climate talks].”

Clemente replied that he would be “very interested” in the project, noting that he had “worked with the Coal Industry Advisory Board, International Energy Agency, World Coal Association, the American Coal Council and the NCC, as well as a number of private coal-based companies and groups.”

…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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