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An appropriate European Union response to tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean

An appropriate European Union response to tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean

If the European Union can mediate effectively to resolve current Greek-Turkish tensions over energy in the Eastern Mediterranean, it could also provide an opportunity to tackle more deep-rooted problems.

The European Union is seeking to mediate in a naval confrontation on its doorstep, in the Eastern Mediterranean, which involves NATO partners Greece and Turkey, as well as EU member Cyprus. EU foreign ministers are discussing the issue and, without de-escalation, sanctions against Turkey could be implemented. But so far, the two most powerful EU nations have adopted a ‘good cop, bad cop’ approach that conveys different and confusing messages – and has not prevented escalation. Chancellor Angela Merkel, with the added authority of holding the EU’s six-month revolving presidency, has launched a German initiative to prevent escalation, reduce tensions and overcome longstanding conflicts. But French President Emmanuel Macron, while not eschewing mediation, has opted for a show of force, sending French naval vessels into disputed waters to counter the presence of Turkish warships.

Deep-rooted dispute

The dispute is ostensibly over ownership of offshore gas deposits and the delimitation of 200-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs).

Turkey has sent exploration vessels and warships into waters claimed by Greece and Cyprus and begun drilling for gas. Despite its 1,600 kilometre Mediterranean coastline, Turkey is the only Eastern Mediterranean state without internationally recognised rights to offshore resources in the area because nearby Greek islands and Cyprus have secured the right to generate EEZs under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Turkey is one of fifteen UN members that is not a party to UNCLOS, and Ankara insists that Turkey’s continental shelf gives it ownership rights that take priority over the UNCLOS-backed claims of Cyprus and Greece.

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How to Recognize Desertification and Drought Day

How to Recognize Desertification and Drought Day

More than 2 billion hectares of previously productive land is degraded. For Desertification and Drought Day on June 17, DW spoke with Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

DW: What do you want people to know about this year’s desertification day?

Ibrahim Thiaw: Despite COVID-19, we still need to eat. We still need to have clothes. We still need to feed our animals. And we still need the planet. The planet does not need us.

More than a third of the world’s land is vulnerable to exploitation that can lead to desertification. Where are some of the worst-affected areas?

If you consider the size of the land that is affected by desertification, Africa. But if you consider the number of people that are affected by land degradation, it is Asia. If you include the Americas, both north and south, 40% of land is affected by desertification or susceptible to be affected by land degradation. Europe is not spared either — we still lose a lot of soil here. And Europe has been more vulnerable to drought in recent years because of climate change.

We have one planet, so therefore there is no region in the world that is immune to land degradation or drought.

What do those areas have in common, are there some patterns there?

When you cause land degradation, you are affecting people’s lives: their health, the economy, their security. Land degradation is also having an impact on migration — we will see more migration because people cannot produce anymore in their land. So therefore, it is not biophysical only. It is social. It is economic. It is health. It is our well-being.

What are some steps people can take?

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UN Warns of Impending Food Crisis

UN Warns of Impending Food Crisis

The United Nations issued a dire warning on Tuesday that the world stands on the brink of the worst food crisis in the last 50 years, according to The Guardian.

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the world is facing an “impending global food emergency” that could impact hundreds of millions of people as the coronavirus pandemic threatens already strained supply chains, according to Hong Kong-based Asia Times. He warned that the recessions that follow the pandemic will put basic nutrition out of reach for millions.

“Our food systems are failing, and the Covid-19 pandemic is making things worse,” the UN chief said in a statement accompanying a report by the UN. “More than 820 million people are hungry. “Some 144 million children under the age of five are stunted – more than one in five children worldwide.”

That’s particularly troubling as malnutrition has lifelong consequences. If the number of children who suffer from malnutrition grows, it is likely to cause increased stunting and provide a future strain on health care systems.

Guterres warned that “this year, some 49 million extra people may fall into extreme poverty due to the Covid-19 crisis,” according to Asia Times.

“Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long-term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults,” as The Guardian reported. “We need to act now to avoid the worst impacts of our efforts to control the pandemic.”

The UN Secretary-General provided a three-point plan for attacking the hunger crisis: focus aid on the worst-stricken areas to avoid immediate disaster, to improve social safety nets so children, pregnant women and breast-feeding mothers along with other at-risk group receive adequate nutrition, and to invest in healthy and sustainable food systems and supply chains for the future, according to Guterres’ statement.

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False Solutions to Climate Change: Real Solutions

False Solutions to Climate Change: Real Solutions

Editorial Note: This is Part 6 of Mary Wildfire’s series on false solutions to climate change. You can read Part 1 on Electricity here, Part 2 on Transportation here, Part 3 on Agriculture here, Part 4 on Buildings here. and Part 5 on Geoengineering here.

It’s become increasingly clear that climate change is not only real but beginning to bite. Now that much of the population is finally feeling the urgency—and during a time when COVID19  has much of our frenetic commerce on hold, giving us a space for thinking and discussion–what can we do to protect the only planet we’ve got? Unfortunately a good many of the solutions on offer seem designed to quiet the increasing concern, the impetus to do something, without challenging the status quo.

Can we get real solutions and still maintain economic growth, population growth, and the growth of inequality? Are we entitled to an ever-rising standard of living? I believe the answer is no; we need some profound transformations if we are to leave our grandchildren a planet that resembles the one we grew up on, rather than a dystopian Hell world.  This is the basic theme of the controversial Michael Moore produced film Planet of the Humans. I see that film as seriously flawed, but agree with its basic message—that it’s time for humanity to grow up and accept limits, get over what I call human exceptionalism, or androtheism—the notion that man is God.

A veritable cornucopia of false solutions is being pushed these days, not only by corporations and think tanks but by the UN’s IPCC, the international body responsible for research and action on climate.  We could have made a gentle transition if we had begun when we first became aware of this problem decades ago, but for various reasons we did not.

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The Trilateral Commission: Using Crisis As An Opportunity To Reform

The Trilateral Commission: Using Crisis As An Opportunity To Reform

A couple of years ago I posted an article that gave a brief overview of the Trilateral Commission, quoting directly from numerous former members of the institution and how their overarching goal was for the integration of nation states at the expense of self determination.

It was in the article where I argued that the prevailing model for globalists dating back to at least the First World War has been to use crisis as an opportunity, first by instigating periods of chaos before presenting themselves as the order to the ensuing turmoil. Four of the world’s largest global institutions – The Bank for International Settlements, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the United Nations – were founded on this principle. Without a series of crises there would have been no rationale for them to exist.

A trend over the past few years has been how in the midst of geopolitical conflict global bodies and world leaders have called for the likes of the European Union and the World Trade Organisation to undergo substantial reforms in the wake of a rise in political nationalism and protectionism. The push for reform has been largely justified on the grounds that the international ‘rules based global order‘ – brought to be out of the ruins of World War II – is under threat, and all as a direct consequence of the growth in anti-globalisation movements that are often characterised as ‘populism‘.

So if global institutions want to broaden their level of power through deeper centralisation, where exactly does the Trilateral Commission fit into that? Earlier this month I happened by chance on a blog called ‘Dorset Eye‘, which launched in 2012 and describes itself as ‘an online citizen media magazine in which local, national and international members of the public have their voices heard‘.

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Gas Wars in the Mediterranean

Gas Wars in the Mediterranean 

The unexpected alliance between Turkey and Libya is a geopolitical earthquake that changes the balance of power in the eastern Mediterranean and across the Middle East. Turkey’s audacious move has enraged its rivals in the region and cleared the way for a dramatic escalation in the 9 year-long Libyan civil war. It has also forced leaders in Europe and Washington to decide how they will counter Turkey’s plan to defend the U.N-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), and to extend its maritime borders from Europe to Africa basically creating “a water corridor through the eastern Mediterranean linking the coasts of Turkey and Libya.” Leaders in Ankara believe that the agreement “is a major coup in energy geopolitics” that helps defend Turkey’s “sovereign rights against the gatekeepers of the regional status quo.” But Turkey’s rivals strongly disagree. They see the deal as a naked power grab that undermines their ability to transport natural gas from the East Mediterranean to Europe without crossing Turkish waters. In any event, the Turkey-Libya agreement has set the stage for a broader conflict that will unavoidably involve Egypt, Israel, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Europe, Russia and the United States. All parties appear to have abandoned diplomatic channels altogether and are, instead, preparing for war.

On November 27, Turkey and Libya signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that commits Turkey to providing military assistance to Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA). The MoU also redraws Turkey’s maritime boundaries in a way that dramatically impacts the transport of gas from the East Mediterranean to Europe. Israel is particularly worried that this new deal will undermine its plans for a 1,900-kilometer EastMed pipeline connecting the Leviathan gas field, off the coast of Israel, to the EU. YNET News summarized Israel’s concerns in an ominously titled article: “Turkey’s maneuver could block Israel’s access to the sea”. Here’s an excerpt:

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A Plague Of “Billions” Of Locusts Threatens To Create A Horrific End Times Famine All Over Africa

A Plague Of “Billions” Of Locusts Threatens To Create A Horrific End Times Famine All Over Africa

Billions of locusts are eating everything in sight in east Africa right now, and every single day many more farms are being completely wiped out.  Unfortunately, authorities are telling us that what we have seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg.  In fact, if extreme measures are not implemented immediately, authorities are claiming that this locust plague could literally get “500 times” worse in a few months.  But it is difficult to imagine conditions getting any worse than they are at this moment.  Ravenous locust swarms that are “the size of cities”are consuming crops at a staggering pace, and this could potentially cause famine on the African continent that is unlike anything we have ever seen before.

It can be difficult to imagine a plague of “billions” of locusts.  After all, there are only about 7 billion people living on the entire planet.

But this is actually happening.  Right now “billions of locusts” are absolutely devastating east Africa, and each one can eat “its own weight in food every day”…

Billions of locusts swarming through East Africa could prove disastrous for a region still reeling from drought and deadly floods, experts have warned, amid increasing calls for international help.

Dense clouds of the ravenous insects, each of which consumes its own weight in food every day, have spread from Ethiopia and Somalia into Kenya, in the region’s worse infestation in decades.

It would be hard to overstate what this is going to mean for the region.  According to the FAO, this plague is an “unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods in the Horn of Africa”…

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

Ocean floor mining: What could possibly go wrong?

Ocean floor mining: What could possibly go wrong?

A recent article on undersea mining in The Atlantic brought back a detailed childhood memory. When I was in fifth grade, my class put on a sort of mini science fair and performance art program for parents. My project focused on the prospect of mining the oceans. I drew a large mural-like color illustration showing a submarine stationed just above the seabed where it hoovered up minerals with large hoses. 

The submarine had wide pipes running from it to the surface where a ship received the nodules of ore gathered by the hoses. During my presentation the classroom was dark, and my mural was illuminated using three small articulating lamps turned on and off by a classmate as I went through the distinct phases of the mining operations in a room meant to mimic the dark and foreboding deep.

It turns out these many years later that my cursory research into ocean mining as a fifth-grader yielded a roughly accurate portrayal of what is about to happen in the oceans starting early in the coming decade. The world’s nations may conclude a treaty governing undersea mining through the auspices of the United Nations as early as next year. Once that is concluded, large scale mining of ocean bottoms is expected to begin.

One method—already in use in coastal waters controlled by individual countries—will be to suck up nodules of ore lying on the seabed with huge vacuums and filter out the sediment that comes with it. This method will move quickly to the deep ocean once the treaty is approved resulting in huge, dense clouds of particles suspended underwater for possibly hundreds of miles from underwater mining sites. Scientists are worried that both the vacuuming and the plumes will destroy entire ecosystems about which we know little.

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

“The UN’s ‘Woke’ Climate Change Propaganda Is An Insult To Science”

“The UN’s ‘Woke’ Climate Change Propaganda Is An Insult To Science”

I was always a ‘middle-grounder’, rather than a ‘denier’ – until I discovered the extent of the dishonesty

The climate change “emergency” is fake news. Many will roll their eyes in exasperation at the conspiratorial bombastry of yet another “denier”. But for years I have been a plastic recycling, polar bear cooing middle-grounder. In fact, Aristotle would probably turn in his grave at the logical fallaciousness of my long-held presumption that the truth must lie somewhere between those two mutually loathing opposites – Scepticism and Armageddon.

But as the doom-mongering acquires the rubber-stamped smell of instutionalised illness, it is impossible to ignore that the “woke” are the new “slept” – too deep in their sugar coma of confected hysteria to realise they are being duped by disinformation.

Before I explain why the climate “emergency” is the most electrifyingly effective propaganda exercise of the 21st century, two clarifications. I have no fight to pick with glaring evidential realities: surface records clearly show the planet is getting warmer. Nor do I have a culture war-bloodied axe to grind with the fundamental chemistry: carbon dioxide indisputably contributes to the greenhouse effect. But I do take issue with how the mainstream debate has become an insult to both the public’s intelligence and basic science. 

This was clearer than ever two weeks ago, as bureaucratic catastrophists kicked up dystopian dust-clouds on their way into the UN Madrid climate change summit. As Greta Thunberg arrived by yacht (after her British skipper likely clocked up 3 tonnes of carbon emissions flying to the US to pick her up), UN Secretary General António Guterres rumbled that, over the horizon, he could see “the point of no return”. Delegates waved the UN’s latest Emissions Gap Report as if it were both a millenarian death oracle and a methodologically indisputable text; in it, the recommendation to cut emissions by at least 7.6 per cent per year for the next decade.

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The Problem With “Green” Monetary Policy

The Problem With “Green” Monetary Policy

Although there is increasing support for the idea that central banks should actively contribute to the fight against climate change, monetary policymakers have no mandate to do so, and for good reason. Tackling climate change is – and must remain – the responsibility of elected governments and parliaments.

FRANKFURT – As an alarming new United Nations report shows, climate change is probably the biggest challenge of our time. But should central banks also be worrying about the issue? If so, what should they be doing about it?

Central-bank representatives who do decide to make public speeches about climate change cannot deny the scale and scope of the problem; to do so would be to risk their own credibility. But the same is true when central bankers feel obliged to discuss the distribution of income and wealth, rising crime rates, or any other newsworthy topic. The more that central banks’ communications strategy focuses on trying to make themselves “popular” in the public’s eyes, the greater the temptation to address topics outside their primary remit.

Beyond communicating with the public, the question, of course, is whether central banks should try to account for environmental considerations when shaping monetary policy. Obviously, climate change and corresponding government policies in response to it can have powerful effects on economic development. These consequences are reflected in all kinds of variables – growth, inflation, employment levels – that will in turn affect central-bank forecasts and influence monetary-policy decisions.

Likewise, natural disasters and other environmental events – actual or potential – can pose implicit risks to entire classes of financial assets. Regulators and supervisors charged with assessing risk and associated capital needs must take this environmental dimension into account. At a minimum, the high uncertainty stemming from these risks implies a huge challenge for assessing the stability of the financial system and corresponding macroprudential measures.

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The Growing Threat of Water Wars

ghosh15_Christopher FurlongGetty Images_africagirldroughtwater

The Growing Threat of Water Wars

In 2015, United Nations member states adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, which include an imperative to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” Yet, in the last four years, matters have deteriorated significantly.

NEW DELHI – The dangers of environmental pollution receive a lot of attention nowadays, particularly in the developing world, and with good reason. Air quality indices are dismal and worsening in many places, with India, in particular, facing an acute public-health emergency. But as serious as the pollution problem is, it must not be allowed to obscure another incipient environmental catastrophe, and potential source of future conflict: lack of access to clean water.

We may live on a “blue planet,” but less than 3% of all of our water is fresh, and much of it is inaccessible (for example, because it is locked in glaciers). Since 1960, the amount of available fresh water per capita has declined by more than half, leaving over 40% of the world’s population facing water stress. By 2030, demand for fresh water will exceed supply by an estimated 40%.

With nearly two-thirds of fresh water coming from rivers and lakes that cross national borders, intensifying water stress fuels a vicious circle, in which countries compete for supplies, leading to greater stress and more competition. Today, hundreds of international water agreements are coming under pressure.

China, India, and Bangladesh are locked in a dispute over the Brahmaputra, one of Asia’s largest rivers, with China and India actively constructing dams that have raised fears of water diversion. India’s government has used water-flow diversion to punish Pakistan for terrorist attacks. Dam-building on the Nile by Ethiopia has raised the ire of downstream Egypt.

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Morgan Stanley: “Climate Will Be A Key Driver Of Asset Prices In The Months And Years Ahead”

Morgan Stanley: “Climate Will Be A Key Driver Of Asset Prices In The Months And Years Ahead”

“Sunday Start”, authored by Morgan Stanley equity strategist, Jessica Alsford

In three weeks, the world’s leaders will begin to gather in Madrid for the 25th United Nations Climate Change Conference. The intensity of the global climate strikes this year suggests that the proceedings will be scrutinized as never before. But the decisions made, or not made, will also have repercussions for global markets.

We’re transitioning towards a lower carbon economy, albeit at a slower pace than needed to stay within a two degrees Celsius climate scenario (2DS). For companies that can build offshore wind installations, develop electric vehicles and manufacture renewable diesels, we see potential for material earnings growth. In Decarbonisation: The Race to Net Zero, we estimated that more than US$50 trillion of capital will need to be deployed into renewables, EVs, hydrogen, biofuels and carbon capture and storage over the next 30 years, putting US$3-10 trillion of EBIT up for grabs.

Decarbonising electricity is the largest opportunity to reduce carbon emissions, with the power sector responsible for a quarter of global emissions. Strong renewables growth should be achievable given the significant improvements we’ve seen in solar and wind economics. But costs continue to constrain many other clean technologies, including battery storage, green hydrogen, CCS and biofuels.

If governments are serious about halting climate change, some form of stimulus will be needed.

Subsidies have already been key in industries like renewables. In the US, federal subsidies have helped to drive the transition to renewable energy, which rose from 14% of total power generation capacity in 2000 to 24% in 2018.

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UN Envoy’s Grim Warning Over Assange’s Life

UN Envoy’s Grim Warning Over Assange’s Life 

A United Nations expert in torture diagnosis has in the past week issued a stark warning that Australian whistleblower Julian Assange is in danger of dying from extreme prison conditions in Britain.

It is testimony to the rank hypocrisy of British and American governments who lecture others around the world about democracy, human rights and international law.

One can only imagine the hysterical outcry among Western governments and media if somehow Assange was being detained in a Russian prison.

The 48-year-old Assange has been held in a maximum-security prison in London since April this year when he was forcibly removed from the Ecuadorean embassy. His arrest was itself a staggering breach of international law. Assange had been confined to the embassy for nearly seven years where he sought asylum to avoid being extradited to the US.

He should have been released on September 22 when his sentence for a past bail infringement had been served out. Instead, a British judge has ordered Assange to be detained until the extradition trial to the US gets underway next year. If Assange is extradited to the US he is facing 175 years in prison if convicted for espionage. Few would believe that he will receive a fair trial in Britain or the US. He has been denied due process of consulting with his defense lawyers.

Assange’s “espionage” charge stems from the fact that his whistleblower site Wikileaks published volumes of damning information exposing massive US and NATO war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. His publications of leaked data also exposed Western diplomatic malfeasance in several countries, as well as illegal global spying on citizens by US intelligence agencies in collusion with British counterparts.

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Iraq Urges UN To Kick “Unauthorized” US Forces From Country

Iraq Urges UN To Kick “Unauthorized” US Forces From Country 

The Iraqi government’s efforts to expel what it increasingly considers an ‘unauthorized’ American occupation have just escalated dramatically, as Baghdad is now urging the United Nations to expel US troops from sovereign Iraqi territory

As we noted previously, Baghdad officials rejected a Pentagon plan to relocate some 1,000 US troops now exiting Syria to US bases in western Iraq, saying the additional troops had “no approval to stay”

On Wednesday Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi announced he’s taking “all international legal measures” over the entry of U.S. troops from neighboring Syria, again underscoring the Pentagon had no authorization for such a move, and that the troops are “not allowed” to remain in the country, but only “transition” on their way to other US bases in Kuwait and Qatar.

US exiting Syria, via Getty/Al Jazeera

We have (already) issued an official statement saying that and are taking all international legal measures. We ask the international community and the United Nations to perform their roles in this matter,” Abdul Mahdi’ said.

He said that any American forces coming from Syria have four weeks to leave Iraq, as reported by the AP.

The firm ‘red line’ assertion came immediately after the prime minister met with US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who arrived earlier in the day on an unannounced visit, apparently to negotiate a compromise. Without Iraq’s cooperation, the White House’s Syria exit strategy and its logistics are in question. 

On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper in a likely attempt to placate growing Iraqi anger, said, “The aim isn’t to stay in Iraq interminably. The aim is to pull our soldiers out and eventually get them back home.”

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

Central Banks Are Out Of Ammo – UN Head Demands Immediate Fiscal Stimulus To Save World From Crisis

Central Banks Are Out Of Ammo – UN Head Demands Immediate Fiscal Stimulus To Save World From Crisis

More and more global leaders sound the alarm that the world economy is headed for a difficult period in 2020. 

Unlike several years ago, leaders across the world are now calling for immediate deployment of fiscal stimulus, but not monetary stimulus, a sign that central banks are out of ammunition to combat the next economic crisis. 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the global economic outlook is facing severe headwinds, and the international community must quickly act to “do everything possible” to prevent the world from “fracturing,” mostly due to the US and China trade war.

Guterres spoke on Saturday at the World Bank Group and IMF Annual Meetings in Washington, DC. 

He said that “during tense and testing times,” he “fears the possibility of a Great Fracture – with the two largest economies splitting the globe in two – each with its own dominant currency, trade and financial rules, its own internet and artificial intelligence capacities and its own zero-sum geopolitical and military strategies.” 

He told international bankers that “it is not too late to avoid” this fracturing of the world, but “we must do everything possible to avert this…and maintain a universal economy with universal respect for international law; a multipolar world with strong multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank and IMF.” 

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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