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UN Warns of ‘Total Societal Collapse’Due to Breaching of Planetary Boundaries

A landmark report by the United Nations concludes that ‘global collapse’ is becoming more likely. But was it watered-down before being published?

When the United Nations published its 2022 ‘Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction’ (GAR2022) in May, the world’s attention was on its grim verdict that the world was experiencing an accelerating trend of natural disasters and economic crises. But not a single media outlet picked up the biggest issue: the increasing probability of civilisational collapse.

Buried in the report, which was endorsed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, is the finding that escalating synergies between disasters, economic vulnerabilities and ecosystem failures are escalating the risk of a “global collapse” scenario.

This stark conclusion appears to be the first time that the UN has issued a flagship global report finding that existing global policies are accelerating toward the collapse of human civilisation. Yet somehow this urgent warning has remained unreported until now.

The report does not suggest that this outcome is inevitable or specify how close to this possibility we are. But it does confirm that, without radical change, that’s where the world is heading.


Planetary Boundaries

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework are a set of social, economic, legal, political and institutional measures to reduce “disaster risk and losses” – both involve targets to 2030 which the world is in danger of failing to meet.

That failure, however, is directly linked to the rate at which human activities are interfering with natural systems, in particular, ‘planetary boundaries’.

The planetary boundaries framework was developed by the Stockholm Resilience Centre in 2009 to provide what it calls a “science-based analysis of the risk that human perturbations will destabilise the Earth system at the planetary scale”…

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World Has Just ’10 Weeks’ of Wheat Supplies Left in Storage, Analyst Warns

World Has Just ’10 Weeks’ of Wheat Supplies Left in Storage, Analyst Warns

The world has only about 10 weeks of wheat supplies left in storage amid the conflict in Ukraine and as India has moved to bar exports of wheat in recent weeks, a food insecurity expert says.

Sara Menker, the CEO of agriculture analytics firm Gro Intelligence, told the United Nations Security Council on May 19 that the Russia–Ukraine war “simply added fuel to a fire that was long burning,” saying that it is not the primary cause of the wheat shortage. Ukraine and Russia both produce close to about a third of the world’s wheat.

“I want to start by explicitly saying that the Russia–Ukraine war did not start the food security crisis. It simply added fuel to a fire that was long burning. A crisis we detected tremors from long before the COVID 19 pandemic exposed the fragility of our supply chains,” Menker said, according to a transcript.

“I share this because we believe it’s important for you all to understand that even if the war were to end tomorrow, our food security problem isn’t going away anytime soon without concerted action.”

In providing data, Menker said that due to price increases in major crops this year, it’s made another 400 million worldwide “food insecure,” adding that with wheat, the world “currently only [has] 10 weeks of global consumption sitting in inventory around the world.

“Conditions today are worse than those experienced in 2007 and 2008,” she said. “It is important to note that the lowest grain inventory levels the world has ever seen are now occurring while access to fertilizers is highly constrained, and drought in wheat-growing regions around the world is the most extreme it’s been in over 20 years…

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Advancing interconnected solutions to the food, energy and finance crises

The governing body of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) met in Rome on April 8, 2022 in an Extraordinary Session to examine the “impact of the Ukraine-Russia conflict on global food security and related matters under its mandate” and advise on how it should proceed. Meanwhile, just two days earlier, the Civil Society and Indigenous People Mechanism (CSIPM) at U.N. Committee on World Food Security (CFS) called for an Extraordinary Plenary Session of the CFS.

We must consider these developments along with a new initiative from the U.N. and against the background of the FAO’s global food prices index reaching its highest level ever.

In response to the immediate crises provoked by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, on March 14 the U.N. Secretary General (SG) António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres announced the establishment of the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance (GCRG). On April 5, he released the GCRG’s initial recommendations. According to remarks made by the U.N. SG at the U.N. Security Council Meeting, these initial recommendations are for the consideration of the member states, international financial institutions and others. In brief, they are:

  • On food: To avoid the risk of hunger and famine spreading further, the GRCG urges all countries to keep markets open, resist unjustified and unnecessary export restrictions, and make reserves available to countries at risk of hunger and famine.
  • On energy: While some countries’ plans to release strategic reserves of fossil fuels in an attempt to reduce their dependence on Russian stocks could help ease the current crisis in the short term, the only medium and long-term solution is accelerated deployment of renewable energy, which is not impacted by market fluctuations. Renewable energy deployment is the best option in most cases and will allow the progressive phaseout of coal and all other fossil fuels.

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Ukraine Grain Strain: Almost 25 Million Tonnes Blocked From Export

Ukraine Grain Strain: Almost 25 Million Tonnes Blocked From Export

A massive backlog of grain shipments is piling up in Ukraine to the tune of nearly 25 million tonnes due to ‘infrastructure challenges’ and blocked ports in the Black Sea, including Mariupol, Reuters reports, citing a UN food agency official.’

Ukraine was the fourth-largest exporter of maize (corn) in the 2020/21 season, and the sixth-largest wheat exporter in the world, according to the International Grains Council.

It’s an almost grotesque situation we see at the moment in Ukraine with nearly 25 mln tonnes of grain that could be exported but that cannot leave the country simply because of lack of infrastructure, the blockade of the ports,” said FAO Deputy Director Josef Schmidhuber during a Geneva press briefing via Zoom.

According to Schmidhuber, the full silos could result in storage shortages for this year’s July and August harvests.

“Despite the war the harvest conditions don’t look that dire. That could really mean there’s not enough storage capacity in Ukraine, particularly if there’s no wheat corridor opening up for export from Ukraine.”

He alluded to destroyed grain storage as a result of the Russian invasion, without elaborating.

CNN, however, reports from ‘multiple sources’ that Russian forces have allegedly plundered farm equipment and hundreds of thousands of tonnes of grains from Ukraine, with the Ministry of Defense estimating on Thursday that 400,000 tonnes of grain had been stolen to date.

[And given the source(s), the usual ‘grain of salt’ disclaimer applies as to the extent and accuracy of claims.]

Oleg Nivievskyi at the Kyiv School of Economics told CNN the thefts of farm equipment, such as tractors and harvesters, by Russian forces have been absolutely devastating for Ukrainian farmers.

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Food Supply Chains “Falling Apart” In Ukraine As “Imminent Famine” Risks Plague The World

Food Supply Chains “Falling Apart” In Ukraine As “Imminent Famine” Risks Plague The World

On Friday, Jakob Kern, an emergency coordinator at the United Nations (UN) World Food Programme (WFP), warned Ukraine’s food supply chains were collapsing as Russia bombed key infrastructures such as roads, bridges, and trains.

“The country’s food supply chain is falling apart. Movements of goods have slowed down due to insecurity and the reluctance of drivers,” Kern told a Geneva during a video conference from Krakow, Poland.

“Inside Ukraine our job is in effect, to replace the broken commercial food supply chains,” he added, describing the rebuilding task as a “mammoth” one.

Ukraine’s top agricultural export products are corn and wheat. Before the invasion, Ukraine was the second-largest supplier of grains for the European Union and one of the largest suppliers for emerging markets in Asia and Africa. Breaking down the numbers, Ukraine produced 49.6% of global sunflower oil, 10% of global wheat, 12.6% of global barley, and 15.3% of global maize.

Estimates via Black Sea research firm SovEcon show Ukraine’s 2022 corn harvest could plunge as much as 35% from 41.9 million tons last year to 27.7 million tons this year because of all the disruptions. Farmers are already reporting diesel and fertilizer shortages. Wheat harvests are also expected to decline. Some have even pointed total crop output in the country could be halved.

“With global food prices at an all-time high, WFP is also concerned about the impact of the Ukraine crisis on food security globally, especially hunger hot spots,” he said, warning of “collateral hunger” in other places like Egypt, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Turkey that rely heavily on Ukraine imports.

All of this has fueled the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization to warn global food prices could rise another 8-20% from current levels due to the deteriorating situation in Ukraine.

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US Charged With Trying To Provoke Russian Military Action At UN: “You Want It To Happen”

US Charged With Trying To Provoke Russian Military Action At UN: “You Want It To Happen”

At a rare UN Security Council debate Monday, which was urged by the US but slammed by Russia as a publicity stunt – in order for Moscow to “explain itself” over what Washington has for weeks asserted are “imminent” plans to “invade” Ukraine – Russia’s ambassador charged the US with seeking to provoke Russian action.

“They themselves are whipping up tensions and rhetoric and are provoking escalation,” Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said of US and NATO motives. “The discussions about a threat of war is provocative in and of itself. You are almost calling for this. You want it to happen. You’re waiting for it to happen.”

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, via Atlantic Council

Just prior to the meeting at UN headquarters in New York, the Kremlin once again charged the US and and some allies, especially Britain, of stoking “hysteria”: “To our dismay, American media have lately been publishing a very large amount of unverified, distorted and deliberately deceitful information about what’s happening in Ukraine and around it,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“Hysteria hyped up by Washington is causing hysteria in Ukraine, almost to the point that people are packing their bags for the front. It’s a fact,” he added. Last week Ukrainian leaders surprisingly made similar statements, seeking to calm their own population amid reports of people raiding grocery stores and taking out all their cash from banks. There have also been reports that average Ukrainians are stockpiling weapons in preparation for a Russian onslaught and occupation.

During the UN back-and-forth, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield accused Russia of not just building up forces near the Ukrainian border, but of a massive force build-up in Belarus. She said Russia aims to send at least 30,000 troops to its closest former Soviet satellite state ally:

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The Climate Crisis & More Propaganda

QUESTION: How can you be against climate change when every world leader has been convinced and 97% of all scientists say you are wrong?

JL

ANSWER: Climate always changes and it has done so for millions of years without soccer moms driving the kids in SUVs. It is just propaganda. Governments have adopted this as the excuse to impose political change. The United Nations uses it to further their own position that we need a one-world government to save the planet. They created a clock in New York to say we have only 7 years left before the planet dies.

Here is the data from the government itself and it shows no change in the trend whatsoever to support a perilous cliff for us 7 years from now. This is a chart of only January which is one of the coldest months of the year. The highest average remains that of 1932 and the Dust Bowl. There is absolutely no indication of a warming trend whatsoever. It is snowing in Hawaii right now. Temperatures in Siberia have broken all records dropping to minus 140°F where people may just freeze to death. Even the Northwest Passage was still frozen in August. Even looking at the entire Antarctic continent, this winter of 2021 is already the second-coldest on record as reported by the propaganda network – CNN.

This is not my personal opinion. I am closer to my expiration date than my birth date. I do not even sell advertising on this site because I do not need the money. What I do is for my grandchildren. I really do not care if you believe me or not…

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Blah, blah, blah, yay: Another epic fail for the COP, but seeds of growth for our movements

Introduction

As COP 26 began, Greta Thunberg summed up the whole thing quite succinctly using just one word, three times:  Blah blah blah.

And as it ended two weeks later, she tweeted:

The #COP26 is over. Here’s a brief summary: Blah, blah, blah. But the real work continues outside these halls. And we will never give up, ever [emphasis added].

And indeed, COP 26 was an epic fail, even by the dismal standards of the 25 COPs that preceded it, but at the same time, the global climate justice movement made some much needed forward progress.

COP26

Source:  Flickr

Why this COP was an epic fail

The process leading up to the COP was a blatant act of climate injustice

Starting with the process leading up till COP 26, we might well ask why was it held at all, under the conditions of COVID?

Large numbers of delegates and civil society, in its attempts to presence the world’s people, could not get to this summit, and this is beyond the usual exclusiveness of all COPs due to ordinary people and activists not having the means to travel, to be lodged, to miss work and income, and so on.  This was built in by the ineptitude and lack of sincerity of the UK hosts, who had promised to make vaccines and entry requirements doable for those who wished to attend.  So this can be called the COVID COP, to connect two of the many global crises that beset us.

Or we might call it the apartheid COP, to connect the climate crisis to the existing cultures of violence the world suffers, from local policing to national-level militarism (both led by the U.S., of course, the undisputed world number one in military spending and murderous police forces).

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Cop-26–Caught in a Net: Agriculture, Climate Change, and the Decarbonisation Agenda

COP26 – Caught in a Net: Agriculture, Climate Change, and the Decarbonisation Agenda

 

Global Food Prices Hit Fresh Decade High In October 

Global Food Prices Hit Fresh Decade High In October 

In October, global food prices continued climbing higher for the third straight month, hitting fresh decade highs, led by vegetable oils and cereals. Higher food costs contribute to more inflationary pressures for the working poor, central banks, and governments.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index, which tracks a basket of food commodities, averaged 133.2 in October, up 3.9 points (3%) from September and 31.8 points (31.3%) from October 2020. The index has risen three consecutive months and is now at a new decade high (could hit record highs in 2022).

World vegetable oil and cereal prices were the two biggest movers in the index. Edible oils jumped 9.6% on the month to set a record high. Cereal prices rose 3.2%, within the basket, wheat jumped 5%.

A combination of bad weather in the Americas, higher shipping costs, and labor shortages have disrupted global food supply chains. The latest energy crunch has sent fertilizer prices sky-high and will increase food prices in 2022.

“The issue with the inputs and fertilizers and its implications for next year’s crop is a concern,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.

“By now, the market has factored in most of the supply and demand issues. But the market has by no means factored in next year’s prospects in production,” said Abbassian. 

He warned: “We cannot afford a bad year in 2022 for important crops.” This has reignited memories of food price spikes a decade ago which caused unrest in emerging market economies. SocGen’s Albert Edwards first warned that soaring food prices could contribute to socio-economic destabilization right before the virus pandemic began.

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Leaked documents reveal the fossil fuel and meat producing countries lobbying against climate action

Leaked documents reveal the fossil fuel and meat producing countries lobbying against climate action

Files show how Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia and OPEC have pressed to water down a key UN scientific report. 

The revelations – which show how this small clutch of nations is attempting to water-down the International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) major upcoming assessment of the world’s options for limiting global warming – come just days before the start of crucial international climate negotiations in Glasgow.

They come from a leak of tens of thousands of comments by governments, corporations, academics and others on the draft report of the IPCC’s ‘Working Group III’ – an international team of experts that is assessing humanity’s remaining options for curbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions or removing them from the atmosphere.

The documents passed to Unearthed show how fossil fuel producers including Australia, Saudi Arabia and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are lobbying the IPCC – the world’s leading authority on climate change – to remove or weaken a key conclusion that the world needs to rapidly phase out fossil fuels.

In one comment seen by Unearthed, a senior Australian government official rejected the largely uncontroversial conclusion that one of the most important steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions was to phase out coal-fired power stations.

Phrases like ‘the need for urgent and accelerated mitigation actions at all scales’ should be eliminated

Meanwhile, Brazil and Argentina, two of the world’s biggest producers of beef and animal feed, have been pressing to delete messages about the climate benefits of promoting ‘plant-based’ diets and of curbing meat and dairy consumption.

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Ecological Economists Support Message of Religious Leaders to Cop 26

Ecological Economists Support Message of Religious Leaders to Cop 26

His Holiness Pope Francis, His Grace Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury, and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew issued an urgent joint message in advance of COP 26. They have been joined by many leaders of other religions in their call for creation care with justice.

They remind everyone of our individual and collective responsibility to take action to avert global environmental catastrophe, resulting from our having “greedily consumed more of the earth’s resources than the planet can endure.” They warn that the future will be worse for our children unless we act collaboratively and urgently as the situation clearly requires. They state that “we must decide what kind of world we want to leave to future generations”.

The profound exhortations of the religious leaders resonate deeply with us, the undersigned Circle of Ecological Economics Elders. Working across the natural and social sciences we have come to the same conclusion. Since the early 1970s, humanity has overshot the resource regenerative and waste absorptive capacities of the earth and has been moving in an unsustainable direction ever since – to the benefit of very few at the expense of very many.  The problems we face can usually be traced to the excessive scale of our economies which require increasing quantities of materials and energy, produce ever greater quantities of wastes, and degrade the earth’s land, air, and waters. To respond to the call of our religious leaders, to respond to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor, now requires a significant reduction in the physical size of our human niche rather than a continuing expansion and faster degradation of the biosphere in the name of growth.

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Africa’s Disappearing Glaciers Signal ‘Irreversible’ Threat to Earth System: Report

Africa’s Disappearing Glaciers Signal ‘Irreversible’ Threat to Earth System: Report

The authors of a U.N. report urge greater investment in climate adaptation and weather services on the continent.
A new United Nations-backed report reveals the extent of Africa’s “disproportionate vulnerability” to the climate emergency, with the continent’s three glaciers expected to disappear entirely in the next two decades as the population faces the increasingly dire effects of the heating of the planet.
“Total deglaciation” of the glaciers of the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is expected by the 2040s, while the Mount Kenya massif could lose its ice caps a decade sooner, “which will make it one of the first entire mountain ranges to lose glacier cover due to human-induced climate change,” according to the State of the Climate in Africa 2020 report.

“In sub-Saharan Africa, climate change could further lower gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 3% by 2050.”

The loss of the three glaciers in East Africa, which are retreating at faster rates than the global average, “signals the threat of imminent and irreversible change to the Earth system,” said World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“Administrative barriers” currently put long term observation efforts at the mountains’ summits at risk of being abandoned, according to the report by the WMO, the African Union Commission (AUC), the Economic Commission for Africa, and other agencies—but the authors noted that “investing in climate adaptation, early warning systems, and weather and climate services can pay off.”
“In sub-Saharan Africa, climate change could further lower gross domestic product (GDP) by up to 3% by 2050,” wrote Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, commissioner for rural economy and agriculture at the AUC. “This presents a serious challenge for climate adaptation and resilience actions because not only are physical conditions getting worse, but also the number of people being affected is increasing.”

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The Upcoming UN Climate Talks in Glasgow Are a Make-or-Break Moment

This image provided by NASA shows Hurricane Florence from the International Space Station on September 12, 2018. | Photo by NASA via AP

Failure to halt greenhouse gas emissions is not an option—though it’s frighteningly likely

In early November, government leaders from around the world will meet in Glasgow, Scotland, for the latest round of United Nations–sponsored climate change negotiations. This year’s climate summit—COP26, in UN-speak—will be the most important since the 2015 talks in Paris, and this will be true however the meeting unfolds. If Glasgow is a “success,” this will be taken as a sign that our faltering international institutions might actually, if just barely, be able to spur the planetary mobilization we now desperately need. If it’s a “failure,” well, no such luck—it will become even more difficult to imagine cooperative planetary action, at scale and in time to avoid a truly catastrophic shift in the climate system.

How will we tell if Glasgow is a success? This is a tough question, one that involves judgments about both the geophysical realities of a destabilized Earth and the “realities” of our political systems, which are clearly not up to the challenge. The storms and the firestorms are looming large, and so too is the catastrophe of “vaccine apartheid,” which under Boris Johnson’s government has queued up a summit that does not promise to be either safe or inclusive. Even in the best case, the Glasgow COP is not going to yield anything like a world historic breakthrough. Given that a breakthrough is exactly what we need, how can we ever hope to judge the UN talks as even a measured success? By attending to key details. Keep in mind that, six years after Paris, plenty of people in the climate movement still can’t say “Paris” without saying “failure,” and this despite the obvious fact that, had the Paris Agreement not been completed before Donald Trump’s election, we would now be in even more terrifying straits.

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The World’s Sustainable Development Goals Aren’t Sustainable

The World’s Sustainable Development Goals Aren’t Sustainable

There are big problems with the most important metric used to assess progress toward the U.N.’s environmental goals.

Art for the Global Goals campaign at Liu Bolin Studio in Beijing on Aug. 28, 2015.

Art for the Global Goals campaign at Liu Bolin Studio in Beijing on Aug. 28, 2015. JAMES WASSERMAN/GETTY IMAGES FOR GLOBAL GOALS/UNITED NATIONS

In 2015, the world’s governments signed on to the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a commitment to bring the global economy back into balance with the living world. Now, five years later, as the U.N. General Assembly convenes online to discuss the global ecological crisis, everyone wants to know how countries are performing.

To answer this question, delegates and policymakers have referred to a metric called the SDG Index, which was developed by Jeffrey Sachs “to assess where each country stands with regard to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.” The metric tells a very clear story. Sweden, Denmark, Finland, France, and Germany—along with most other rich Western nations—rise to the top of the rankings, giving casual observers the impression that these countries are real leaders in achieving sustainable development.

There’s only one problem. Despite its name, the SDG Index has very little to do with sustainable development all. In fact, oddly enough, the countries with the highest scores on this index are some of the most environmentally unsustainable countries in the world.

Take Sweden, for example. Sweden scores an impressive 84.7 on the index, topping the pack. But ecologists have long pointed out that Sweden’s “material footprint”—the quantity of natural resources that the country consumes each year—is one of the biggest in the world, right up there with the United States, at 32 metric tons per person. To put this in perspective, the global average is about 12 tons per person, and the sustainable level is about 7 tons per person. In other words, Sweden is consuming nearly five times over the boundary.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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