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"Imagine a man without lungs. Imagine earth without Amazon rainforest." - Vinita Kinra

Zippy The Pinhead, Bill Griffith 100821


Protests

One reason young people inspired a global anti-climate-change movement? They lost trust in politicians.

People wear masks of President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as they take part in the Global Climate Strike in Berlin on Friday. The sign on the right reads: "Mother [Merkel] has blown it. ... Now the youth have to do it." (Michael Hanschke/Reuters) (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)

Only a decade ago, the seeming lack of youth participation in politics and their plummeting turnout in elections led some to believe that young people no longer cared about politics.

This year's climate protests around the world -- largely driven by young people and rallied by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg -- have not only suggested the opposite, but also revealed a trend that should worry politicians: Young voters appear not to be fed up with political issues, but with them.

A growing amount of research from around the world suggests that young voters in democracies are increasingly frustrated with political processes, which they feel have failed to address their concerns, most notably climate change.

"I have the feeling that politicians are often just [focusing on] the next vote,” said 25-year-old student Jakob Lochner, who was attending the climate change protests in Berlin on Friday.

The commitment of political parties to act remains insufficient, but mass turnout at protests could change that, he hopes. "If you look around, there are so many people on the street; there is kind of a social tipping point,” he said, as thousands rallied around him in the center of the German capital.

In Australia, where more than 100,000 rallied in Melbourne on Friday, the impact of inaction on climate change and environmental degradation has made young people lose "faith in our leaders and decision-makers,” according to a UNICEF report this year, based on a number of surveys. Researchers examining the same phenomenon in Europe have come to similar conclusions. Almost half of all young European respondents said in a recent survey that they had no trust at all in politics.

This isn't an entirely new phenomenon. In a separate survey, about two-thirds of British 18-year-olds said in 2012 that parties did not care about young voters' concerns.

What is new, however, is that young people have become vocal about their priorities to an extent that millennials -- the generation born in the 1980s and '90s -- never were.

"The generation that grew up before 2000 was shaken, almost traumatized, by the financial crisis, 9/11 and other incidents. As a result, they focused on ensuring their own social survival and to not fall behind. They rarely became politically active,” said Klaus Hurrelmann, a researcher focusing on youth issues at Berlin's Hertie School of Governance.

"Now, young people in most parts of Europe are encountering very different conditions, including excellent career prospects and largely a lack of existential fears, which is liberating to them,” Hurrelmann said in an analysis that mostly applies to Europe's north, which has escaped Southern Europe's continuously high unemployment.

Economic security "has stimulated their ability to think about the bigger problems affecting the world and their societies,” he said.

In Europe, combating climate change is now the top priority among younger people, after pushing aside a prior focus on economic issues. In the United States, demands for more gun control and climate action are gaining momentum among teenagers, too.

In some cases, this has led to growing participation in established political processes. During the U.S. midterm elections last year, for instance, college student turnout more than doubled in comparison with 2014, growing from 19 percent to 40 percent.

"We need to start listening to a constituency that has not been heard very much in the past and that is now making their voices heard,” Nancy Thomas, director of Tufts University's Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, told The Washington Post's Amy Gardner.

Young-voter turnout also increased significantly during European elections this year, rising from 28 percent to 42 percent. But relatively few of those young people said in a survey by the European Parliament that they voted because "they felt they could change things by voting.” Instead, most considered it to be their "civic duty" -- probably a result of surging populism in parts of Europe, which has threatened European Union values that many long took for granted.

Overall, the persistent gap between the share of young people who say they care about politics and those who vote in elections reflects a sentiment among many that in aging societies, "they cannot influence things too much" if they focus on elections alone, said Hurrelmann. "They're pragmatic."

Luisa Beck in Berlin contributed to this report.










Politics

One reason young people inspired a global anti-climate-change movement? They lost trust in politicians.

People wear masks of President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel as they take part in the Global Climate Strike in Berlin on Friday. The sign on the right reads: "Mother [Merkel] has blown it. ... Now the youth have to do it." (Michael Hanschke/Reuters) (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters)

Only a decade ago, the seeming lack of youth participation in politics and their plummeting turnout in elections led some to believe that young people no longer cared about politics.

This year's climate protests around the world -- largely driven by young people and rallied by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg -- have not only suggested the opposite, but also revealed a trend that should worry politicians: Young voters appear not to be fed up with political issues, but with them.

A growing amount of research from around the world suggests that young voters in democracies are increasingly frustrated with political processes, which they feel have failed to address their concerns, most notably climate change.

"I have the feeling that politicians are often just [focusing on] the next vote,” said 25-year-old student Jakob Lochner, who was attending the climate change protests in Berlin on Friday.

The commitment of political parties to act remains insufficient, but mass turnout at protests could change that, he hopes. "If you look around, there are so many people on the street; there is kind of a social tipping point,” he said, as thousands rallied around him in the center of the German capital.

In Australia, where more than 100,000 rallied in Melbourne on Friday, the impact of inaction on climate change and environmental degradation has made young people lose "faith in our leaders and decision-makers,” according to a UNICEF report this year, based on a number of surveys. Researchers examining the same phenomenon in Europe have come to similar conclusions. Almost half of all young European respondents said in a recent survey that they had no trust at all in politics.

This isn't an entirely new phenomenon. In a separate survey, about two-thirds of British 18-year-olds said in 2012 that parties did not care about young voters' concerns.

What is new, however, is that young people have become vocal about their priorities to an extent that millennials -- the generation born in the 1980s and '90s -- never were.

"The generation that grew up before 2000 was shaken, almost traumatized, by the financial crisis, 9/11 and other incidents. As a result, they focused on ensuring their own social survival and to not fall behind. They rarely became politically active,” said Klaus Hurrelmann, a researcher focusing on youth issues at Berlin's Hertie School of Governance.

"Now, young people in most parts of Europe are encountering very different conditions, including excellent career prospects and largely a lack of existential fears, which is liberating to them,” Hurrelmann said in an analysis that mostly applies to Europe's north, which has escaped Southern Europe's continuously high unemployment.

Economic security "has stimulated their ability to think about the bigger problems affecting the world and their societies,” he said.

In Europe, combating climate change is now the top priority among younger people, after pushing aside a prior focus on economic issues. In the United States, demands for more gun control and climate action are gaining momentum among teenagers, too.

In some cases, this has led to growing participation in established political processes. During the U.S. midterm elections last year, for instance, college student turnout more than doubled in comparison with 2014, growing from 19 percent to 40 percent.

"We need to start listening to a constituency that has not been heard very much in the past and that is now making their voices heard,” Nancy Thomas, director of Tufts University's Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, told The Washington Post's Amy Gardner.

Young-voter turnout also increased significantly during European elections this year, rising from 28 percent to 42 percent. But relatively few of those young people said in a survey by the European Parliament that they voted because "they felt they could change things by voting.” Instead, most considered it to be their "civic duty" -- probably a result of surging populism in parts of Europe, which has threatened European Union values that many long took for granted.

Overall, the persistent gap between the share of young people who say they care about politics and those who vote in elections reflects a sentiment among many that in aging societies, "they cannot influence things too much" if they focus on elections alone, said Hurrelmann. "They're pragmatic."

Luisa Beck in Berlin contributed to this report.

What would it take for Republicans to deal with climate change? 8-31-19

Climate change is HERE. Short of getting rid of the filibuster in the Senate, it will take both parties to agree to start legislating seriously on climate change, and so far that hasn't happened. So will there ever be a tipping point when Republicans will get on board?

Priorities: Where do you start with the Green New Deal?, Treehugger 2-11-19

We have a lot to do in not much time.

The Green New Deal is out, and it is so TreeHugger, so much to love. And so much Socialism! It's almost like Canada. It is a very long list of very good ideas; David Roberts of Vox does a great summary of it, calling it a high-wire act.

It has to offer enough specifics to give it real shape and ambition, without overprescribing solutions or prejudging differences over secondary questions. It has to please a diverse range of interest groups, from environmental justice to labor to climate, without alienating any of them. It has to stand up to intense scrutiny (much of it sure to be bad faith), with lots of people gunning for it from both the right and center.

But where do you start? What should the priorities be? What are the biggest problems we face? Let's start with a pile of graphs.

© Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Department of Energy

When one looks at the most recent Livermore Lab carbon graph (they stopped doing these in 2014 for some reason), the two most significant sources of CO2 are power generation and transportation. That coal band looks huge and scary here.

US Energy Information Administration/Public Domain

But coal for power generation has been dropping for years, and will continue to do so. The fact is that both gas and renewables are now cheaper, and gas dials up faster than coal, making it a better mix with renewables.

Also, seeing where the CO2 is coming from is useful, and the supply side is important, but it is in response to demand. Where is all that electricity going? Where are all the people going in the transportation box? What are they being transported in? It's demand that drives the CO2 generation.

© Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Department of energy

When you look at the demand side and see all the other sources of electricity, the coal problem seems much less intimidating. Nuclear, hydro, and renewables generate almost as much power. And look where all the electricity is going: of the 12.5 quads of usable power, almost 75 percent is going into residential and commercial buildings, while a quarter of it is going into industry. Almost 8 quads of energy from Natural Gas go straight into our homes and offices for heating, and 75 percent of 9.54 quads of gas go indirectly through generating electricity. While burning gas puts out half the CO2 as burning coal for the same amount of heat, it still puts out a lot.

US Energy Information Administration/Public Domain

Inside our homes, the single biggest use of electricity is air conditioning, followed by water heating. Lighting is dropping all the time as people switch to LEDs. "All other uses" includes clothes drying, which should be a slice of the pie all on its own, as it is a huge draw; according to the NRDC, dryers now consume as much energy as the fridge, dishwasher and clothes washer combined.

US Energy Information Administration/Public Domain

On the commercial side, the biggest single electricity suck is refrigeration. (The computers are 7.5 percent and office equipment is 7.8 percent. I do not know why they combined them into a single wedge because the computers are mostly server farms). That refrigeration is the cold chain, "uninterrupted series of refrigerated production, storage and distribution activities, along with associated equipment and logistics, which maintain a desired low-temperature range." That's mostly food, and it doesn't include the fossil fuel to run the trucks and the planes. So one suggestion for a serious reduction in energy consumption might also be: Switch to local, seasonal food for a low-carbon diet.

US Energy Information Administration/Public Domain

And all that natural gas? We already know that most of the electricity is going into our houses and offices, mostly to run air conditioning. Combine that with the direct heating of commercial and residential buildings, and you have 61 percent of natural gas going into our houses. (The 35 percent going to industrial uses is mainly to make plastics and fertilizers, but that's another post.) So, the Green New Deal nails it with its recommendation that we "upgrade all existing U.S. buildings and build new buildings, to achieve maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability.”

If every building was upgraded to, say, Passivhaus standards, it would take well over half the natural gas and electrical consumption offline, just like that. We could probably get by with the hydro and nuclear base plus renewables, batteries and maybe a few peaker natural gas plants. It would take some time and money to energiesprong every existing building, but we could start by changing building codes to make every new building Passivhaus efficient right now. But that's only half the battle.

US Energy Information Administration/Public Domain

The Green New Deal calls for:

..overhauling transportation systems in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible, including through investment in—

(i) zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing;
(ii) clean, affordable, and accessible public transit; and
(iii) high-speed rail.

Point (i) is not explicit, but their idea of a zero-emission vehicle is an electric car. But no car is a zero-emission vehicle; there is the embodied carbon of making it and the particulate emissions from tires and brakes. Vehicle infrastructure means highways, which are made of concrete. So what we really have to do, beside making zero emission vehicles, is reduce demand. Also, there should be more recognition of alternative zero-emission vehicles that could make a big difference, like bicycles.

US office of energy efficiency and renewable energy/Public Domain

The single biggest use of the car is to get to and from work, followed by shopping and family or personal business. Clean, affordable and accessible public could go a long way to helping here.

Michael Mehaffy via NRDC/CC BY 4.0

But by far, the single biggest determinant of how much one drives is the density where you live. This is the biggest oversight in the Green New Deal; if we are going to get people out of cars and deal with that big honking green bar at the bottom of the Livermore graph, we have to change the way we design our communities. We have to intensify our suburbs. Then we can support good transit, cycling and walking infrastructure.

Alex Baca got this in her post on Slate:

A Green New Deal must insist on a new, and better, land use regime, countering decades of federal sprawl subsidy. The plan already recognizes the need to retrofit and upgrade buildings. Why not address their locations while we're at it? Suggestions of specific policies that would enable a Green New Deal to address land use have already emerged: We could, simply, measure greenhouse gases from our transportation system or build more housing closer to job centers. Reallocating what we spend on building new roads to paying for public transit instead would go a long way toward limiting sprawl.

Housing in Vienna/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

A Green New Deal looks a lot like Vienna, where everyone lives in apartments with good access to transit and bike lanes. Just through the wonder of urban design, homes use far less energy per capita because they only have one or two outside surfaces; and the density is high enough so that kids can walk to school, you can walk to shop, you can bike or take transit to work.

A Green New Deal looks a lot like where I live, a streetcar suburb built up after 1913 at a density where you could buy a single family house, but still be within a five minute walk to the fancy new streetcar line on St Clair. So while I own a car, I never need to use it and rarely do.

A Green New Deal looks most like Munich, where little buildings built to Passivhaus standards are built around parks, with a streetcar line and a school a short walk away.

Undoing 75 years of sprawl will not be easy, but it is probably less of a stretch than changing every car to be zero emission and building the generating or solar capacity to keep them charged. Suburbia was built on fossil fuels, needed to heat and cool leaky single family houses and drive between them. If we live in places designed around walking and cycling and transit, then that is what people will do.

The Green New Deal is a wonderful place to start a discussion about how to eliminate CO2 emissions and build a better nation. Some find it radical, but I consider the goals of securing clean air, healthy food and a sustainable environment (along with justice and equity) to be reasonable things to aspire to. And it's really not that hard; we just need a whole lot of insulation, density, and bicycles.

Pelosi announces 'visionary leaders' for new climate change committee. One name is missing: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez., 2-8

On the day Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) unveiled the details of her Green New Deal, a sweeping package of climate change and socioeconomic initiatives, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced which lawmakers will serve on a new climate change committee.

Ocasio-Cortez was not on the list.

"We are thrilled to welcome so many visionary leaders and strong voices to our new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which will be vital in advancing ambitious progress for our planet," Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement about the committee. "Each Member brings great energy and deep expertise to the climate crisis, which jeopardizes our public health, our economy, our national security and the whole of God's creation."

Was Ocasio-Cortez slighted? Put in her place by the Speaker? Or did she want to work on the defining issue outside the confines of a committee?

According to Ocasio-Cortez, none of the above.

At a news conference announcing her Green New Deal plan, she said it "was not a snub.” Ocasio-Cortez said she was asked to join but declined. The members of the committee are Democratic Reps. Kathy Castor (Fla.), Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Julia Brownley (Calif.), Sean Casten (Ill.), Jared Huffman (Calif.), Mike Levin (Calif.), A. Donald McEachin (Va.) and Joe Neguse (Colo.). Castor will be chairman.

In the past, Ocasio-Cortez has indicated that the panel Pelosi put together didn't have enough teeth to be effective. But she also said unequivocally that Pelosi is a leader on climate change.

"I will not allow our caucus be divided up by silly notions of whatever narrative; we are 100 percent in this together,” Ocasio-Cortez said, donning a green blazer.

Notably, it's Ocasio-Cortez who helped make the notion of a Green New Deal mainstream. On Thursday, she and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) offered an ambitious list of policy proposals that would seek to eliminate carbon emissions while caring for the most vulnerable populations.

Many of the ways Ocasio-Cortez and Markey envision getting there is through issues not usually directly associated with environmental policy. As Washington Post reporter Philip Bump wrote of the Green New Deal outline: "This is an economic document at its heart, one that forecasts how the economy is going to need to change and establishing a path for fixing many of the problems that have accompanied past economic transitions.”

It calls for high-speed rail "to a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary,” guaranteed jobs "with a family-sustaining wage,” and "high-quality healthcare" for all.

Ocasio-Cortez had proposed the establishment of a select congressional committee on the Green New Deal. The climate change committee that was formed instead is not as nearly as sweeping as Ocasio-Cortez envisioned, and she criticized it at the time.

The freshman congresswoman and the speaker clashed early on regarding environmental issues. They didn't necessarily get off on the right foot when Ocasio-Cortez made an appearance in Pelosi's office during a sit-in for the Green New Deal over freshmen orientation.

Pelosi has long championed addressing climate change, but she has been less inclined to adopt Ocasio-Cortez's progressive ideas. In an interview with Politico this week, Pelosi offered this seemingly dismissive response when asked about a Green New Deal.

"It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive," Pelosi said. "The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they're for it, right?"

But Ocasio-Cortez insisted she didn't take that comment as dismissive.

"I think it is a green dream,” she said. "All great American programs started with a vision for our future.”

'We're nuts!' isn't a great pitch for a Green New Deal, 2-8

I'm in the middle of renovating a house, so it's probably not surprising that when I started reading Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D-N.Y.) FAQ for a Green New Deal, published Thursday by NPR, I was immediately struck by a casual proposal to "upgrade or replace every building in US for state-of-the-art energy efficiency.”

Homeowners tend to start renovations hoping to make their houses greener and more energy efficient, if only for reasons of parsimony. They quickly discover that what they lightheartedly imagined to be a few minor upgrades are in fact massive expenses. All they wanted was energy-efficient windows, better insulation, a tankless water heater, a radiant system to replace their (dry, noisy, inefficient) HVAC and .?.?. dear God, did the contractor misplace a decimal point? We're updating a modest row house, not building Versailles!

Ceilings and walls must be removed, then replaced; fancy new equipment installed; ductwork rerouted; slabs perhaps broken and repoured; ancillary systems brought up to modern housing codes. Much labor is required; much homeowner patience and cash, too. And the older the building, the more expensive and disruptive the process, since decades of obsolete junk have to be ripped out, with all appropriate environmental remediation measures taken along the way.

Yet Ocasio-Cortez, or someone in her office, apparently thought those repairs could be made to every building in the United States within a decade. And this is only one of the minor details of the plan; it barely merits more than a mention.

Much of the FAQ is devoted to the showier stuff, the policy equivalent of gold plumbing fixtures and Calacatta marble walls: replacing air travel with high-speed rail; junking every automobile with an internal-combustion engine; making affordable public transportation available to every single American (presumably including those who live hours from the nearest town?); replacing the electric grid with something smarter; meeting "100% of power demand through clean and renewable energy sources”; and -- I swear I'm not making this up -- providing economic security to people who are "unwilling to work.” This, too, is supposed to happen within only a decade, or thereabouts.

Going by my experience at energy-efficiencizing, I'd estimate that the Ocasio-Cortez plan would require the entire population of the United States -- or at least those who aren't "unwilling to work" -- to drop whatever they're doing and start training to become insulation installers, HVAC technicians, electricians, automotive engineers or demolition experts. But even a quarter of that effort doesn't really seem very practical. Nor politically enticing. The only historical operation even approaching such scale was the U.S. mobilization for World War II, and unfortunately for Green New Dealers, the coal industry probably won't cooperate by bombing Pearl Harbor.

The FAQ now seems to have been taken down, and the actual measure introduced to Congress was slightly less exuberant. Notably, it makes a nod to the need for technological and economic feasibility. But it's still rather breathtaking. If Obamacare's architects had suggested that their plan included finding a universal cancer cure within 10 years, at a cost of only 15 cents a dose, you'd kind of wonder about the people who drafted it.

But arguably Ocasio-Cortez's team wasn't really trying to put together a practical document. Rather, it articulates an ideal, one that we may never reach but should at least strive for. And there's something appealing about that argument, because climate change is a pressing concern, and even if it weren't, there would be ample reasons to want to obtain as much energy as possible from renewable sources.

Progressives frequently argue that getting to "as much as possible" requires setting goals that are out of reach. They call it "shifting the Overton window,” or widening the spectrum of plausible policy options, an idea broached in the 1990s by policy analyst Joseph P. Overton. The folk version: Ask for the stars, you'll get the moon.

Fair enough. Sometimes people and causes do lose out by being too timid. What the progressive window-shoppers forget is that they can also lose out by being over-aggressive.

A pedestrian example: Many people could do better, salary-wise, if they simply negotiated harder with potential employers. But few of them could do better by opening with a pugnacious demand for $1 million a year. Wild demands, unmoored from reality, don't increase what you ultimately take away from a negotiation; they are much more likely to end the negotiation abruptly when the other party concludes that you're crazy.

UN summit shows how Donald Trump is doing more damage to world's climate than we ever realised Trump has committed to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement – but that won't happen until 2020. Until then, he threatens to wreck it from the inside out


As the UN climate talks drew to a close in Bonn on Friday, delegates will look back on these talks as the moment the US tried to present 'ald Trump's vision for environmental action – and was met with outrage and derision.

These two weeks have seen nearly 200 countries come together to support the Paris agreement, in an unprecedented effort to coordinate against climate change. Now with Syria on board, the US is left as the only country outside of this global endeavour.

No one here has been slow to speak out against the US federal government. Yet the summit has also shown clearly how the US under 'ald Trump can continue to damage the Paris accord, and thereby the world, in ways we are only just beginning to understand.

"They [thd US] have decided that they are not going to be playing the game of the Paris agreement but they still want to be inside the room and decide the rules,” Harjeet Singh, Action Aid's global lead on climate change, told The Independent.

But, according to Mr Singh, there is a danger that other rich countries in the EU, as well as the likes of Australia and Canada, use the general outcry against America as a "cover-up" to avoid genuine progress on key issues such as ramping up ambition before the Paris deal comes into effect in 2020.

"The US is becoming a punching bag. Everybody is focusing on what they are doing and nobody is noticing what other rich countries are doing,” said Mr Singh.

Climate deniers cheer study that shows Trump's policies will destroy America Widely misreported study confirms that only immediate and deep cuts in carbon pollution can avert a climate catastrophe

JOE ROMM SEP 25, 2017

This is what America will look like if we follow Trump's climate policies: PROJECTED WARMING UNDER AGGRESSIVE CLIMATE ACTION (LEFT) VERSUS TRUMP CLIMATE POLICIES (RIGHT).

This study, which found that super-aggressive emissions reductions could prevent total global warming from hitting 2.7°F would raise alarm bells in a more normal media environment. After all, the world has not embraced instantaneous and sharp emissions reductions.

Instead, President 'ald Trump has said global warming is a hoax and has adopted policies aimed at undermining U.S. and global climate action.

In reality, the world has not come close to adopting such policies. Worse, Trump's domestic and global climate policies, which include leaving the Paris climate agreement, make them all but unattainable.

7/4/18 Climate change denier Ted Cruz










Articles

Baghdad's record heat offers glimpse of world's climate change future, 8/13/20

Door handles blistering to the touch. Leaves yellowed and brittle. And a yawning divide between AC haves and have-nots.

BAGHDAD -- This city roars in the summertime. You hear the generators on every street, shaking and shuddering to keep electric fans whirring as the air seems to shimmer in the heat.

Iraq isn't just hot. It's punishingly hot. Record-breakingly hot. When one of us returned here last week, the air outside felt like an oven. The suitcase crackled as it was unzipped. It turned out that the synthetic fibers of a headscarf had melted crispy and were now stuck to the top of the case. A cold bottle of water was suddenly warm to the lips. At our office, the door handle was so hot it left blisters at the touch.

Baghdad hit 125.2 degrees on July 28, blowing past the previous record of 123.8 degrees -- which was set here five years ago -- and topping 120 degrees for four days in a row. Sitting in one of the fastest warming parts of the globe, the city offers a troubling snapshot of the future that climate change might one day bring other parts of the world.

Experts say temperature records like the one seen in Baghdad will continue to be broken as climate change advances.

"It's getting hotter every year,” said Jos Lelieveld, an expert on the climate of the Middle East and Mediterranean at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. "And when you are starting to get above 50 degrees Celsius [122 degrees Fahrenheit] it becomes life threatening.”

The air temperature forced almost everyone indoors. Those who were still out on the streets tried to make a living selling cold drinks or fruit that festered in the heat. We saw them crouching in shade from a beating sun that offered few shadows, plunging their hands and faces into ice boxes which had long since melted.

We asked a traffic cop if there was anything he could do to stay cool. He shook his head. "There's nothing.”

If the world acts to dramatically limit climate change, such extremes of heat, with temperatures above 120 degrees, would probably be limited to parts of the Middle East, Northern Africa, and India, Lelieveld said.

But if not, temperatures in parts of the Persian Gulf region and South Asia could eventually exceed 130 degrees. Nor would the rest of the world be spared extreme spikes. Indeed, one recent study found that by the year 2050, the climate of Phoenix could closely resemble that of Baghdad.

Some countries are better equipped to cope than others. But Iraq's infrastructure was decimated by sanctions before the 2003 U.S. invasion and then years of conflict and corruption that followed.

The heat is ruining livelihoods, and power cuts have been compounding a sense of misery so deep that protesters are streaming into the streets to demand better services, even risking the threat of live ammunition from ill-disciplined security forces. At least three protesters have been killed since last month. No one believes they will be the last.

The heat is straining a power grid that was already on its knees. Those who can afford it rely on exorbitantly priced private generators to power a few lights and a fan. Those who cannot just swelter, exhausted in the dark.

Last year, Philip Alston, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, warned of a coming "climate apartheid" scenario. This is what it starts to look like.

Many foreigners in Iraq are lucky. The Washington Post's Baghdad bureau has a generator and near constant power supply, putting us in a tiny minority, along with the politicians and executives sequestered in compounds with guards at the door. But for many households, a generator to keep the lights and perhaps a television on will cost about half of the monthly income.

In southern Iraq, the heat and lack of rainfall are contributing to a water crisis that has forced tens of thousands of people to leave their homes over the past decade. In July, a report by the International Organization for Migration warned there is a high chance this will continue.

Warming in the country is far above average. Data from Berkeley Earth show that, compared with the country's temperature at the close of the 19th century (1880-1899), the last five years were 2.3 degrees Celsius, or 4.1 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter. The Earth as a whole has only warmed by about half that amount over the same time period.

Farmers whose families have worked the land for generations say they are losing crops and their incomes are plunging. In the eastern district of Al-Adhamiyah this week, 47-year-old Moatez Ghalib surveyed the grove of plants he was trying to sell for homes and balconies. Leaves curled yellow. Some were so brittle you could snap them.

He looked down at his feet. "It's all burning,” he said sadly. "The heat here is changing our lives.”

When you talk to Iraqis about the rising heat in Baghdad, the city's disappearing green belt comes up time and again. Palm trees were beheaded by American and Iraqi forces, in an attempt to stop militants hiding there during the civil war. Where there once were miles of farmland, property has been expropriated and sold to the highest bidder. The squat brown-brick sprawl of informal settlements is also spreading.

Such changes in the landscape have probably exacerbated what scientists call the "urban heat island effect,” in which cities tend to register higher temperatures than the surrounding landscape because buildings and pavement often gather heat, rather than reflecting it back toward space.

Ghalib's family has worked two of the remaining farms for three generations. His grandfather passed the family farm onto Ghalib's father, and now the 47-year-old is in charge of it too. As a schoolboy, he watered the fields daily. "Being here in the green land, it relaxed me. I'd stay here for hours before going home to finish my homework,” he said. "We can't have that life anymore. It's too hot.”

One of his day laborers was out for 10 days last week with sunstroke, and the farm couldn't pay him as he convalesced. "The sun burned his bones,” Ghalib said. "Our bodies can't take it, we just can't work like we used to.” He is coming to terms with the fact his children will not take over the farm, a prospect that he says would have stricken his late father.

A desert country like Iraq is warming more rapidly, explained MIT climate expert Elfatih Eltahir, because it is so dry. While additional heat in many places would partially go toward evaporating moisture in the soil, there just isn't much such moisture in Iraq.

"This is the region where there is no moisture,” Eltahir said. "So any added greenhouse effect, it has to go into sensible heat.”

If there's some sliver of good news, it is that at least in Baghdad, which is relatively distant from the Persian Gulf, an extremely high heat event like this one is less likely to also feature high levels of atmospheric humidity.

Combinations of high heat and humidity, Eltahir has found, can lead to literally lethal outdoor temperatures because humans are unable to cool down their bodies through sweating. And his research projects that these conditions will start to occur in some parts of the Middle East as warming continues.

While Iraq has seen its temperatures rise usually fast, the rest of the world is projected to see similar increases in the decades ahead. Extreme warming is coming everywhere.

As the tangerine-colored sun slipped below the Baghdad skyline Thursday, a construction worker looked up, shook his head, and then stretched out his arms as if he was hugging the sky.

"Thank God,” he shouted at another laborer, nodding up at where the sun once hung. "Our friend has gone to bed.”

Last year's Amazon fires stirred international outrage. This year's dry season has started out worse. 8/8/20

RIO DE JANEIRO -- One year after a surge in man-made fires in the Amazon forest drew international condemnation and embarrassed the Brazilian government, President Jair Bolsonaro has stepped up law enforcement against illegal burning.

Still, this year's dry season is off to a worse start.

In July, the first month of the season, fires were up nearly 30 percent over last year. The 6,803 fires reported by the government's satellite agency were the second-highest tally in 15 years. That came after June fires hit a 13-year high.

The Brazilian government is under mounting pressure to curb the fires, most of which are set by squatters, land invaders and speculators. International investors and Brazilian banks have demanded more action against rising deforestation. Activists inside and outside Brazil have called on Bolsonaro to fire Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, who has internally urged using the country's devastating coronavirus outbreak as cover to weaken environmental protections.

Heat wave 'Hugo?’ New coalition seeks to name hot weather like hurricanes. 8/6/20

Heat waves are a silent killer. Unlike other extreme weather phenomena, you can't see them coming, and they don't leave behind a trail of destruction. But they kill more people than any other weather hazard in the country and exact a greater toll in the developing world. And they are getting worse because of climate change.

What if we named and ranked them, as we do tropical storms, to increase their visibility and raise awareness of their danger? A new, international coalition put together by the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center has declared naming and ranking heat waves its "number one priority.”

For decades, public health, weather and climate experts have grappled with how to raise public awareness of heat waves and the understanding of their threat. The 1995 Chicago heat wave killed more than 700 people. The 2003 European heat wave was blamed for as many as 70,000 excess deaths. More than 50,000 people died in a heat wave in 2010 in Russia.

Because of the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from human activities, heat waves are becoming more frequent, intense and longer-lasting, a trend predicted to continue in the coming decades. A study last year found a fingerprint of climate change in excessive heat events worldwide. Another recent study showed hot weather close to exceeding the limits of human survivability in some areas.

Humidity and heat extremes are on the verge of exceeding limits of human survivability, study finds

The call to name and rank heat waves originates from the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance, launched this week. Its members include emergency response organizations such as the Red Cross Global Disaster Preparedness Center; science research hubs such as the National Center for Atmospheric Research; several cities, including Athens, Mexico City, Miami and Tel Aviv; corporations, nonprofits and reinsurers. It is supported by a $30 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, one of the largest climate donors in the United States, as well as the Atlantic Council, a D.C.-based think tank, which hosts the center.

Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance: Reducing Extreme Heat Risk for Vulnerable People

The center has a goal to reach 1 billion people with climate resilience solutions by 2030 and sees addressing the increasing risk of heat waves as a key area to help accomplish it.

"Naming heat waves is the clearest way to communicate the dangers and severity of this risk which is growing,” Kathy Baughman-McLeod, director of the center, said in an interview.

The world's climate catastrophe worsens amid the pandemic, 6/28/20 By Ishaan Tharoor

We may be living inside the biggest annual carbon crash in recorded history. The quarantines, shutdowns and trade and travel stoppages prompted by the spread of the coronavirus led to a historic plunge in greenhouse gas emissions. In some places, the environmental change was palpable -- smog lifted from cities free of traffic congestion, rivers ran clear of the murk that long clogged their banks.

But the romantic vision of nature "healing" itself was always an illusion. As my colleagues reported earlier this month, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are the highest they've been in human history, and possibly higher than in the past 3 million years. The specter of man-made climate change looms all the more ominously over a planet in the grips of a viral pandemic.

A look at headlines in just the past few days paints a stark picture: The giant plumes of Saharan dust that wafted over the Atlantic and choked a whole swath of the southern United States -- where authorities are, as it is, struggling to cope with a surge of infections of a deadly respiratory disease -- was a generational event, which some scientists link to deepening, climate change-induced droughts in North Africa.

By Saturday, swarms of locusts reached the environs of the Indian capital New Delhi, marking the latest advance of a vast plague, the scale of which experts haven't seen in decades. Successive invasions of the desert insects are expected to hit parts of South Asia through the summer, following multiple swarms ravaging countries in East Africa.

Scientists suggest the magnitude of the new swarms is a direct consequence of warming temperatures in the Indian Ocean, which created a pattern of torrential rainfall and cyclones that yielded more fertile breeding grounds for the locusts. Though much of the Indian spring harvest was collected before the locust swarms arrived, the Horn of Africa region could suffer up to $8.5 billion in lost crops and livestock production by the end of the year as a result of this locust outbreak, according to World Bank estimates.

"Nations which were already under threat of food insecurity now face a real danger of starvation," Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) said in a statement touting bipartisan legislation in the House to boost aid to African countries affected by the infestation. "There are now up to 26 million people who are at risk of acute food shortages and widespread hunger."

Earlier this month, record warm conditions in Siberia sparked raging wildfires in the peatlands that ring the Arctic. There have been what some scientists branded "zombie" blazes -- fires sparked the previous summer that never fully died out as winter set in and then were reignited as temperatures soared. The Siberian Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world.

"The Arctic is figuratively and literally on fire -- it's warming much faster than we thought it would in response to rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and this warming is leading to a rapid meltdown and increase in wildfires," climate scientist and University of Michigan environmental school dean Jonathan Overpeck told the Associated Press.

The heat and fires have terrifying consequences in the short term, too. It is believed that a monumental Arctic oil spill in Norilsk, north-central Russia, took place after melting permafrost led to a reservoir collapsing toward the end of last month, triggering a leak in the facility that reminded many of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.

Then there's the Amazon rainforest, the proverbial lungs of the world: Experts fear an even greater spread of fires this year than in 2019, with Brazilian authorities amid the pandemic less able to guard against the illegal blazes often set by loggers, miners and would-be farmers.

Brazil isn't alone in its struggles with the more immediate, invisible threat of the virus. But climate change doesn't wait. "You may feel, because of the pandemic, that you are living to some degree in 1918," wrote New York magazine's David Wallace-Wells, referring to the flu outbreak that rattled the world a century ago. "The Arctic temperatures of the past week suggest that at least part of the world is living, simultaneously, in 2098."

Climate Winners And Losers -- In Two Maps - We didn't start the fire, Indi Samarajiva Aug 4, 2019


Our country leads the world in very little. Marco Polo said we were the world's finest island for our size, which seems like a backhanded compliment now that I think about it.

We usually lead the world in sex-related Googling, and we export a lot of cinnamon. Oh, and we're #2 in the list of countries most at risk from climate change. So… there's that.

My country is Sri Lanka. If you look at the map above, it's the flaming island off the tip of a flaming India.

Climate change is already happening here, it is already hotter and we have more and more unpredictable weather. Our neighbors in the Maldives and the further Pacific Islanders are already going under. Our future looks much worse, rising sea levels (big trouble on an island), unreliable harvests, not to mention plain old heat in an area that's already hot.

However, we didn't start the fire and we're not burning it now. As much as we try to develop our economies sustainably, the problem is very much out of our hands. Here's the second map, showing the people that have caused and continue this crisis.


Compare it to the map above. It's not the same people at all. In economics this is called a 'negative externality'. Some people get the benefits, other people get the bill. This only measures GDP btw, there's a more robust map here if you're interested.

More Robust Map
https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/28723/9781464811555.pdf?sequence=5&isAllowed=y#page=36

America, Europe, Russia, and China have gotten the benefits of pollution and fossil fuels. Which is perhaps why they are pretending the problem doesn't exist. Or asking for timid solutions. Because they're making money off it, and someone else is paying.

It is the brown and black countries of the global south -- the ones that are just lifting their heads after centuries of colonialism -- that will see their environments, agriculture, lands and ways of life destroyed from afar. Africa, Central and South America, India, Indonesia. At the same time we will have increasingly young populations blocked from moving to safer areas by racist and militarized borders, dying at sea or in the desert. It is as if the rich countries have lit our houses on fire and locked us in.

It is frankly infuriating. It's not that people in the western world are so dumb that they don't understand climate change, or that they can't see temperatures rising. We're plenty dumb over here as well. It's just that, as Upton Sinclair said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

These countries built their economies by changing the climate, up to a crisis point. And they still keep going. Their salaries depend on them not understanding it.

In the global south, however, our salaries and very existence depend on fighting this crisis. We are just starting to lift our heads after centuries of colonialism. We are just waking up to our own potential. And now this. The environmental debt is coming due and, as with colonialism, we are getting the bill.

First they came and took trillions of resources away from here, and then locked us out of most of the world with borders and visas. Then they literally lit the air on fire to fuel their industrialization, destroying our shared environment. And now we have to wait for them to agree that lighting stuff on fire makes it hot. It honestly feels like old white men want to take the world with them when they die.

Who are the winners and losers of climate change? It's the same winners and losers as for all of history. The rich win and the poor lose. It's the same as the winners and losers of the past 500 years, the colonial countries plus China which has decided to come out of hiding. And India's trying to squeak some growth out while they can, though their south is in big trouble.

In the end of course, we all lose, because we all live on Earth. It's just that some of us lose more. Like me. I lose more. My children lose. This sucks.

Written by Indi Samarajiva
A writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Founded some stuff, sold one, now writing full time. Contact: indi@indi.ca

New Study Predicts the Ocean Ecosystem Will Collapse This Decade

The global ecosystem is in far greater danger than scientists previously thought, according to a new study -- and that's really saying something.

The research predicts that without dire action to reverse global climate change, entire ocean ecosystems could suddenly collapse this decade, The Guardian reports. It's a dire warning: as various organisms face temperatures higher than anything they have before, the study predicts sudden, massive die-offs.

Free Fall

The study, published Tuesday in the prestigious journal Nature, examines the temperatures that 30,000 land and sea organisms can withstand, and plots those ranges against the expected temperature increases through the year 2100.

As species hits their temperature thresholds, they may effectively vanish -- and many are expected to do so at the same time, in what the researchers call an "abrupt exposure event.”

"It's not a slippery slope, but a series of cliff edges, hitting different places at different times,” research leader Alex Pigot of University College London told The Guardian.

Flattening Curves

Unless world leaders act to stop the direst effects of climate change, the study predicts a similar terrestrial die-off during the 2040s.

"The world is currently rightly focused on tackling the global health emergency,” Mark Wright, science director of the U.K. branch of the World Wildlife Fund, told The Guardian. "However, this new research reinforces that, after we are through this extremely difficult time, we will need renewed ambitious action to address the climate and nature crisis.”

Wildlife destruction 'not a slippery slope but a series of cliff edges'

New study finds ocean ecosystems likely to collapse in 2020s and land species in 2040s unless global warming stemmed

An endangered black squirrel monkey, which lives in the Amazon. Species in the Amazon, Indonesia, India, northern Australia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Congo are likely to disappear in the 2040s, the new report, published in the journal Nature, found. Photograph: Pedro Nassar/AFP/Getty


Wildlife species will die out and natural ecosystems collapse in the near future if the climate crisis goes unchecked, scientists have warned, as new research shows that the natural world is at far greater risk from climate breakdown than previously thought.

By the 2040s, a similarly abrupt collapse is likely to spread to the land, causing devastation among key species in Indonesia, the Amazon, India, northern Australia and sub-Saharan Africa and the Congo rainforest.

"It's not a slippery slope, but a series of cliff edges, hitting different places at different times,"The authors base their projections on dividing the globe into square cells of 100km by 100km, and within those cells studying the geographic ranges of more than 30,000 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and other animals and plants. They mapped this data against our knowledge of the climate from 1850 to 2005. said Alex Pigot of University College London, lead author of the study, published today in the journal Nature.

What appears to happen, according to the study's authors, is that most species can cope with warming temperatures for a while. But when a certain temperature threshold is crossed, suddenly a large proportion of species face conditions they have not experienced before, and the ecosystem can abruptly collapse.

The authors base their projections on dividing the globe into square cells of 100km by 100km, and within those cells studying the geographic ranges of more than 30,000 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and other animals and plants. They mapped this data against our knowledge of the climate from 1850 to 2005.

Then they broke down climate predictions from now until 2100 on an annual basis, examining when the species in each grid cell were likely to experience temperatures higher than they had before. That showed a different picture than had been previously possible, by giving a slow-motion projection, a bit like a time-lapse photograph, at a very fine scale, of how species would react each year as their habitats warmed.

"Despite many hundreds of studies looking at the impacts on biodiversity of climate change, this abrupt pattern [of collapse] hasn't previously been detected, because most studies have focused on projections for one – or a few – snapshots of the future, say the year 2070 or 2100," Pigot explained.

The scientists found that, on average, 73% of the species facing unprecedented temperatures before 2100 will cross that threshold simultaneously. If global temperatures rise by 4C above pre-industrial levels by 2100, as they will if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, then at least 15% of ecosystems will have an "abrupt exposure event", meaning more than one fifth of their constituent species will cross the threshold in the same decade, causing irreversible damage.

But at less than 2C of warming, the limit set under the Paris agreement, only 2% of ecosystems will go through such abrupt change, sparing many of the species at risk from higher temperatures.

That means taking urgent action on emissions could save tens of thousands of species by "flattening the curve" of the impact, and providing more time for species and ecosystems to adapt.

"It is not too late to stop extinctions from climate change,” said Christopher Trisos, of the University of Cape Town, co-author of the three-year study.

Oceans losing oxygen at unprecedented rate, experts warn

"Our research shows that rapid action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions this decade will effectively flatten the curve of species at risk. Similar to the Covid-19 pandemic, early action to limit the risk pays off in a big way. It does not eliminate all risk from climate change, but reduces the number of species and ecosystems exposed by a massive amount.”

Scientists have known for years about the likely existence of "tipping points" in the world's climate, when global heating triggers abrupt or self-reinforcing changes: for instance, the melting of the Arctic ice cap uncovers dark sea beneath, which absorbs more heat than the reflective ice and, in turn, results in more melting.

This new paper is one of a growing body of research showing there could be similar tipping points in the natural world, related to climate breakdown. It adds to other studies that have shown the Amazon and other major rainforests are likely to turn from carbon sinks to carbon sources, and shown the extent to which the sea and land have already absorbed the impacts of global heating.

Mark Wright, director of science at WWF-UK, said: "There is already more than enough evidence that climate change is impacting the natural world and that we risk losing up to a million species. We know what the solutions are to halt climate change and biodiversity loss.

"The world is currently rightly focused on tackling the global health emergency. However, this new research reinforces that, after we are through this extremely difficult time, we will need renewed ambitious action to address the climate and nature crisis."

Climate change is a bigger threat than coronavirus, says UN Secretary General


Don't let a passing crisis, serious though it is, distract you from the real fight.

The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, is worried that the coronavirus panic will distract people from the fight against climate change, which he says is far more important. Speaking in New York at the launch of a new UN climate report published on March 10, Guterres said, "We will not fight climate change with a virus."

Richest person in the world commits $10 billion to fight climate change, 2-17-20

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took to Instagram on Monday to announce his latest endeavor, the Bezos Earth Fund. The billionaire promised to commit $10 billion to fight climate change, as reported by The New York Times. According to TechCrunch, this $10 billion comes from his "personal wealth.”

"It's going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals,” Bezos wrote in reference to climate change on his Instagram post.

According to his Instagram post, the Bezos Earth Fund will fund non-government organizations, activists, and scientists in research efforts to combat climate change. The fund will start issuing grants in summer 2020, and it's not yet clear who will be funded.

Bezos has previously discussed how important it is that we try to combat climate change. For example, in 2019, Amazon revealed a climate pledge that commits to achieving Paris Agreement goals a decade before the deadline, including becoming carbon neutral by 2040. It also promises that Amazon will use 100% renewable energy by 2030. The company also wants to use 100,00 electric cars for deliveries. The company also promised to launch a fund for restoring wetlands and forests, pledging $100 million for that effort alone.

A native plant guru's radical vision for the American yard, 2-12-20

One of the reasons the lawn remains the ubiquitous feature of our landscapes, even in small urban gardens, is that humans are wired for tribalism, says biologist Doug Tallamy. Conformity is a sign of belonging, and who wants to be the first person on the block to shrink, if not ditch, that immutable, non-threatening, neighborly lawn? Well, Tallamy does, for one.

Tallamy became the darling of the native plant community with his 2007 book, "Bringing Nature Home,” which provided a scientific basis for replacing the exotic ornamentals that dominate our gardens with home-grown perennials, ground covers, shrubs and trees. Indigenous flora, Tallamy says, supports far more of the insects, birds and other creatures that co-evolved with them than a ginkgo from China, say, or an azalea from Japan.

In his latest book, "Nature's Best Hope,” he presents a full-blown manifesto that calls for the radical rethinking of the American residential landscape, starting with the lawn.

Live Q&A Thursday at noon: Adrian Higgins on a radical plan to turn every yard into a wildlife sanctuary, and all things gardening

Tallamy, an entomology professor at the University of Delaware, makes a compelling case that the loss of forests, meadows, wetlands and the rest to development over the past 200 years has left wildlife clinging to ever-shrinking, fragmented habitats.

But if the calamity is staring us in the face, so, too, is the solution. There are almost 130 million parcels of residential land in the United States that together can restore lost biomes. If everyone started to reduce that biological wasteland known as the lawn in favor of native plants, including trees, Tallamy says we could create one big connected habitat for species we are driving to the brink.

The idea of planting gardens for wildlife and shrinking the lawn isn't new, but Tallamy wants to enlist every home garden in the battle to address the loss of biodiversity. The need has never been more urgent, he says. For example, bird populations have declined by almost a third in the past half-century, according to a 2019 study.

Tallamy wants us to rethink our relationship to plants and animals, particularly the idea that "nature" is something set aside in preserves and parks, something separate from our daily lives and something we go to visit. He calls this idea of separation one of the big mistakes of our approach to conservation. Another is that we are content to let the professional ecologists deal with it. "We can no longer leave conservation to the conservationists,” he says. Another mistake has been in focusing on saving endangered species rather than endangered ecologies.

So, what does he suggest?

Envision your property, he writes, "as one small piece of a giant puzzle, which, when assembled, has the potential to form a beautiful ecological picture.” He calls it the Homegrown National Park.

Meet the Wollemi pine, the 'dinosaur tree' brought back from the dead and threatened once again

Tallamy and his wife, Cindy, live on a ­10-acre lot in southeast Pennsylvania, just north of the Mason-Dixon Line and close to the university campus in Newark, Del. The parcel incorporates a stream valley and was once open hayfields as part of a larger farm.

Twenty years after they moved there (and built a house), the predominant plants are trees -- oaks, sycamores, butternuts, maples, pawpaws and more -- that have been planted by Tallamy or by themselves, as self-sown volunteers.

Author and entomologist Doug Tallamy has allowed native trees to grow up on his Oxford, Pa., property. (Adrian Higgins/The Washington Post)


He has removed the invasive thugs, such as autumn olive and oriental bittersweet, and has done some editing of the trees, but much of the property is not so much a designed landscape as sloping fields reverting to forest. A sentinel tree in front of the house represents this woody regeneration -- a handsome white oak, now 30 feet tall, that grew from an acorn Tallamy planted.

Not all native trees support wildlife, but the oak is one of Tallamy's keystone plants. Where he lives, he says, 511 species of caterpillar use oaks. The caterpillars, in turn, are essential food for nestling songbirds and reflect a thriving food web that is the hallmark of a healthy ecology.

"Insects are the oxygen that drives ecosystems," he says. As we walk the property on a cold winter's afternoon, we see a tiny chickadee-like bird flitting through the canopy of a spindly self-sown tree. The tree is a black cherry, and the bird, Tallamy tells me, is a golden-crowned kinglet. It is feeding off little caterpillars perched in the upper branches, even in frigid January.

Since he returned native trees and other plants to the property, he has identified 905 species of moths and 55 different birds. Such biodiversity "certainly wasn't happening when this was mowed for hay,” he says.

Turning Tallamy's manifesto into reality faces some obvious obstacles, not least the prevailing cultural norms of what constitutes an acceptable residential landscape, with the lawn at its core.

He says you don't have to remove all of your lawn -- in fact you shouldn't, so that you can telegraph to the world that you're still caring for the landscape. But he points out that turfgrass covers more than 40 million acres in the United States, an area the size of New England, and we are adding 500 square miles of it each year.

The movement away from the lawn is already evident. He notes that in Southern California, water companies give rebates to homeowners who rip out irrigated lawns in favor of drought-tolerant plants. Some sort of reward could be extended to everyone who converts turf to planted yards that support biodiversity.

He advocates people lobby or join homeowner association committees to effect change, saying that resistance can be overcome "by designing artful landscapes" with native plants. In his imagined Homegrown National Park, pesticides are banned, and night and security lights should be motion-activated only, so as not to disrupt nocturnal creatures.

Looser plantings should be confined to the backyard, he says, and the more public front yard should be managed to look neat. "This is where the knowledge comes in,” he says.

"Nature's Best Hope" is not a practical how-to planting or design manual, which may frustrate some readers. A 2014 book Tallamy wrote with author and photographer Rick Darke, "The Living Landscape,” explores designed plant communities in more detail.

My take? In recent years, gardening has moved away from its traditional realm of pure aesthetics toward something more ecologically driven. Gardening for pollinators and other desired wildlife is in vogue. The trophy lawn is still cherished across the land, but people, I sense, are more relaxed about weeds in their grass, use fewer pesticides and want to plant for beneficial insects. No informed gardeners would continue to use plants that are known to be invasive in their area.

This is all to the good, but a garden is not a nature preserve; it's a designed space created to give us pleasure, emotional sanctuary and an appreciation for nature. For me and many others, a large part of that joy aligns with Tallamy's goal -- in welcoming and harboring animal life, especially birds, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates.

I love native plants and their cultivated varieties, but I couldn't limit myself to them.

Tallamy says you can still have 30 percent of nonnative varieties and accrue the ecological benefits of a native plant landscape, at least in a study of Carolina chickadee breeding conducted by one of his students, Desirée Narango.

Assuming you can have the best of both worlds, a garden for people and for wildlife, what is needed now is the practical guidance and the model gardens that will light the way, says Claudia West, a landscape architect whose firm, Phyto Studio, specializes in ecologically functioning design.

Phyto Studio

West worries that those who want to live in a Homegrown National Park will think that a naturally inspired landscape means one that will look after itself. She is the co-author with her colleague Thomas Rainer of "Planting in a Post-Wild World,” which argues that ecologically driven landscapes require more, not less, proficiency than traditional landscapes."

One place where that is being done is the former Dupont estate near Wilmington, Del., named Mt. Cuba Center. The public garden includes a meadow, woodland and aquatic gardens, and, in the formal area close to the house, a traditional herbaceous border, but one planted in native plants.

Mt. Cuba Center

Tallamy says residents can plant pocket meadows just a few feet square. Planting and maintaining a meadow of lawn size or greater, far from being easy, is one of the most demanding forms of gardening because you have to establish desired grasses and wildflowers under immense weed pressure. Keeping them weed-free requires knowledge, vigilance and work.

Meadow installations "I have seen that have been successful beyond the first five years, I can probably count them on one hand,” West says.

George Coombs, Mt. Cuba's director of horticulture, says native trees -- various oaks, maples, tulip trees, dogwoods, redbuds, for example -- have always been incorporated into home gardens. Using native perennials, however, "requires a bit of a willingness to go against the grain.” The same might be said for native shrubs as alternatives to such popular fare as azaleas, lilacs, most hydrangeas and roses, for example.

photo of A downy woodpecker feeds on poison ivy berries. Tallamy says the fruit of native plants, even poison ivy, have a higher nutritional value than nonnative plants that allows birds to make it through the winter. (Doug Tallamy/“Nature's Best Hope”)

Another consideration is that many homeowners leave the planting and maintenance of their properties to landscape contractors whose plant palette and care routines are not geared to this brave new world.

Tallamy says the shift he's proposing opens up new business opportunities for them across the vast domestic landscape.

West says there is a cadre of progressive landscapers who "absolutely get it. They've read the books, they have the skills and the tools.” But they don't have the clients, or enough of them. "It's a chicken-and-egg thing.”

H. Keith Wagner, a landscape architect in Burlington, Vt., says the ecological gardening movement cannot reject the importance of beauty in designing a garden. When he built his home, he placed a six-acre grassy meadow in front of it, which he mows once a year after bird-nesting season. "But I'm in a rural situation. It's going to be a slow change until cities and suburbs see the positive outcome it can provide.”

H. Keith Wagner

"You can start by adding a few native plants to your existing landscape and loosen the reins a little,” Coombs says. "You don't have to go from zero to 100 right away.”

Climate Activist Swims Under Zero Degree Antarctic Ice Sheet to Show Effects of Global Warming

Lewis Pugh is a climate activist known for swimming in arctic waters to raise awareness for climate change. On January 23, he swam in eastern Antarctica in only goggles, swim briefs and a cap. His swim took him through melting ice tunnels and under the ice sheet.

His January 23 swim made him the first person to swim in a lake that has formed on top of a glacier because of melting ice. This is called a superglacial lake. A recent study found that 65,000 superglacial lakes have formed on East Antarctica's ice sheet thanks to global warming.

The United Nation recently released a report warning countries about the dangers of climate change. They also urged people to reduce their dairy and meat intake by opting for more plant-based foods as one way to take climate action. We highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App – with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

The world's oceans are speeding up, another mega-scale consequence of climate change

The long conservative war on climate science demands Democratic victories in 2020 - That's only way to address the climate crisis.

Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) hold a news conference Nov. 14 to introduce legislation to transform public housing as part of their Green New Deal proposal. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


By Thor Hogan [Thor Hogan, author of "Hydrocarbon Nation: How Energy Security Made Our Nation Great and Climate Security Will Save Us," and "The View from Space: NASA's Evolving Struggle to Understand Our Home Planet" is professor at Earlham College.]

This month the Trump administration officially announced its intention to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, a decision that is out of step with the American people. Instead it's one in a long series of rear-guard actions aimed at preventing the government from addressing the climate crisis.

[Trump, like many STUPID people, wants to ignore unpleasant realities]

These efforts by conservatives have become more desperate as the quality of data available to earth scientists has improved and begun to shift popular opinion. Whereas in 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found a 67 to 90 percent chance that greenhouse gas emissions were responsible for global warming, this confidence has now risen above 95 percent. This mounting confidence has slowly convinced Americans, with two-thirds believing that climate change is caused by human activity.

One reason environmentalists currently enjoy the benefits of scientific certainty dates back to an early victory in the climate wars, the battle to gain approval for the Earth Observing System (EOS). The story of that victory makes clear that conservatives have been opposed to understanding and addressing global warming for decades, and underscores that although moderate Republicans once provided critical support for earth science research, their decline means that taking action on climate is going to require Democratic victories in 2020.

[Is there a connection between Republicans and stupidity?]

NASA's Earth Observing System

In the 1980s, NASA began studying a Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) that would focus on developing a scientific understanding of Earth to enable improved prediction of climate, weather and natural hazards. When he took office, President George H.W. Bush adopted the idea as a key presidential initiative and gained initial approval for a 10-year, $17 billion program. Despite Bush's support, many congressional Republicans believed global warming was, in the words of then-Rep. Bob Walker (R-Pa.) "too narrow [a problem] for the sort of money we're investing.” They began organizing to kill the project, which forced NASA to restructure MTPE/EOS several times in the face of steady budget cuts.

After Republicans swept into power in both chambers of Congress in 1994, many believed the time had come to fully eliminate the program. Walker, the new chair of the House Science and Technology Committee, was their point person. He requested a review of the program and challenged whether "the science that is being conducted as part of the MTPE/EOS program [was] fully justified on strictly scientific terms?” This was a classic strategy at the outset of the Republican War on Science, attempting to cast doubt on sound science. MTPE Director Charles Kennel recalled that "The warning was unmistakable: make sure that you don't go out on a limb on [this] issue.”

Then Walker used the House Budget Committee to target MTPE/EOS. He urged that the initiative's budget, which had already been reduced to $8 billion, be slashed by another $5 billion.

NASA condemned the resulting budget resolution, arguing that it would effectively kill MTPE/EOS. NASA Administrator Dan Goldin decried how it would destroy EOS's basic feature -- comprehensiveness. More important, he said, "It would condemn American scientists to pursuing an approach to environmental research that is more than a decade out of date.”

Of course, this was exactly the point. Conservative Republicans didn't want EOS to provide climate scientists with reams of data to steadily increase the fidelity of their predictive models. Fossil fuel companies were already funding a disinformation campaign to sow doubt within the American electorate, and their allies in Congress didn't want an expensive government program to collect solid scientific evidence regarding the likely impacts of global warming.

As House Republicans' assault on EOS continued, the scientific community maneuvered to save the program by appealing to Senate moderates and more environmentally conscious conservatives of one stripe or another. They were targeting members like Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), who while he leaned right, argued that "the program will easily pay for itself in lives and property saved and improved water management.” It was easier to find Republican senators willing to consider MTPE because the chamber wasn't as far along in the turn toward radicalism that would ultimately characterize most congressional conservatives.

Scientific luminaries urged NASA to abandon its reliance on large orbital platforms in favor of smaller, more nimble satellites. They also advocated for a revised EOS mission focused on collecting data to improve studies of atmospheric ozone, seasonal to interannual climate change, long-term climate variability and land-cover change and global productivity -- each objective consistent with international priorities. When Goldin and Kennel accepted these recommendations, NASA had essentially transformed an expensive hardware development project into something more affordable -- roughly 30 percent less costly -- making Republican complaints about a bloated budget moot.

The scientific assessment that Walker requested also backfired on conservatives. The final report extolled NASA's new plans for MTPE/EOS and lauded the program's ability to contribute to other remote sensing applications such as natural hazard mitigation, water resource management and agriculture monitoring. It cautioned that further budget cuts would cause severe program dislocations.

The report was favorably received in the Senate, where appropriators gave MTPE/EOS a significant boost by recommending a modest $61 million budget cut. The Senate committee wrote that the review had "reaffirmed the program goal and overall approach of providing a scientific understanding of the Earth as an integrated system.”

During the ensuing months, Congress engaged in a high-stakes battle over the budget, which included several government shutdowns. Walker tried to leverage this fight to gain support for his proposed cuts, but Senate opposition cost him even the support of Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), who chaired the key House appropriations subcommittee and argued that these efforts were pointless because they were opposed in the upper chamber.

In the end, the final omnibus bill only cut the MTPE/EOS budget by $91 million and accepted NASA's long-term plan for the initiative. Walker continued his efforts to eliminate the program for another year, but he failed. In 1997, he retired. Scientists had won a significant, if little reported, victory in the climate wars. Three years later, the first EOS satellite, named Terra, was successfully launched into orbit and began returning data to terrestrial researchers.

During the past two decades, NASA has successfully battled to maintain funding for EOS, sustaining a robust earth science research program. The space agency has launched 26 Earth-observing satellites, and more are planned for the future. Combined with in situ observations, scientists are using the data from these orbiting platforms every day to increase their collective knowledge of how our planet's climate system works. The increased scientific certainty that has characterized the climate change debate in recent years is partially a result of the failure to kill MTPE/EOS in the crib.

While moderate Republicans were once a key force in saving MTPE/EOS, their numbers have dwindled over the past two-plus decades. Today, the Republican Party is dominated by conservative voices like those found in the House in 1995, and climate denialism has become central to Republican voters' identities. As a result, while the Senate has a new bipartisan climate caucus, the number of moderates in the chamber has probably fallen too far to rely on Republican support to shepherd through Congress the sort of comprehensive climate legislation required by the magnitude of the problem.

What was once an intraparty battle between the likes of Bush and Senate moderates, who believed in environmental stewardship, and conservatives allied with the fossil-fuel industry, is today a battle between a staunchly anti-science Republican Party and Democrats who see climate change as an urgent priority.

That means the outcome of legislation addressing climate change is likely to hinge on the outcome of the 2020 elections: Only Democratic victories can restore the United States to the Paris accords and make further action possible.

We know what we have to do to save the planet. We just don't care.

Photo

A herd grazes in a clearing in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Cattle production is a major contributor to climate change, but many people don't want to stop eating beef. (A herd grazes in a clearing in the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Cattle production is a major contributor to climate change, but many people don't want to stop eating beef. Joao Laet / AFP/Getty Images)

As the Earth's CO2 levels mount, global warming has moved from remote threats to regular headline horrors. For years, authors have penned conflicting responses: It's too late. It's not too late. We can't go on. We'll go on.

The novelist Jonathan Safran Foer has a different take on global warming. The worst can be ameliorated, he suggests, but only if we believe the unbelievable. In "We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast,” Foer approaches the threat with all the postmodern techniques of his acclaimed books "Everything Is Illuminated" and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” In a style rarely found in books about global catastrophe, he interweaves personal stories, bulleted factoids and a delicious serving of metaphor. The effect is dazzling at first, dizzying in the long run. Yet even a weary reader might hope that this novelist may do what traditional jeremiads have not: Wake us up.

The first 60 pages of "We Are the Weather" are little short of brilliant. Rather than bludgeon us with apocalyptic facts, Foer asks why we have done so little when faced with so much. Our inaction, he writes, cannot be blamed on deniers from the White House on down. Even those who admit the crisis have dodged the life-changing moves it demands. Why? Because we simply cannot believe what we must believe. "It is excruciatingly, tragically difficult to talk about the planetary crisis in a way that is believed,” Foer writes.

To underline the problem, he turns to a tragic moment in the midst of the Holocaust. In 1943, Polish resistance fighter Jan Karski came to America to alert its leaders to Hitler's "final solution.” One day, Karski confronted Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter with an account of the whole Nazi machinery of death -- the cattle cars, the camps, the gas. Frankfurter, a Jew, paced the room. Finally he told Karski, "I must say I am unable to believe what you told me.” Frankfurter did not accuse Karski of lying. Instead, the justice explained, "My mind, my heart, they are made in such a way that I cannot accept it.”

From Frankfurter's failure of imagination, Foer draws disturbing parallels to our own. Despite warnings that began 30-plus years ago, we continue to drive our fat cars, fly everywhere, live as if the darkest cloud in human history were not approaching across the horizon. Noting the steady rise of CO2 emissions, Foer writes: "There are tidy explanations -- the growing use of coal in China and India, a strong global economy, unusually severe seasons that require spikes in energy for heating and cooling. But the truth is as crude as it is obvious. We don't care. So now what?”

Hope, Foer writes, comes in waves -- social waves that have changed human behavior without legislation or leadership. As examples, he cites the widespread decline in smoking, the rapid acceptance of the polio vaccine and Americans' sacrifices on the home front during World War II. But are individual actions enough? "When a radical change is needed, many argue that it is impossible for individual actions to incite it, so it's futile for anyone to try,” Foer writes. "This is exactly the opposite of the truth: the impotence of individual actions is a reason for everyone to try.”

Having made his case, Foer offers his simple -- even simplistic -- solution: breakfast and lunch. As in "Eating Animals,” his 2009 cri de coeur, Foer urges us to avoid all animal products. At least for two meals a day. He makes a compelling case. By raising cattle on cleared forest land, by producing feed for a sprawling meat and dairy industry, we have made innocent animals culpable in planetary destruction.

If cows were a nation, Foer notes, they would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gas, behind the United States and China. Our diets have turned the Earth into a factory farm.

Okay. Eating plants -- only plants -- for breakfast and lunch is no big deal. (His compelling case persuaded me to adopt his diet.) But Foer's faith in veganism soon breaks down. He can't entirely give up red meat, he says. And he admits that animal agriculture causes only 24 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. So what about the other 76 percent?

Just when he should be going beyond breakfast, Foer detours into dithering. To prop up his vegan solution, he denigrates electric cars and other sensible innovations as impractical. (Never mind that transportation contributes 14 percent of greenhouse gases, and electricity and heating contribute 25 percent.) Then he descends into personal trauma. He tells us of his grandmother's recent death, his angst as a parent of two sons and his deep doubt that anything, even veganism, will save us. The doubt, filling a 35-page dialogic "dispute with the soul,” is as numbing as any talk of polar bears or melting Arctic ice.

So now what? One of our best young novelists brilliantly defines our denial, offers a partial solution and returns to despair. "We Are the Weather,” Foer admits, is not an ordinary jeremiad, simply "an exploration of a decision that our planetary crisis requires us to make.” But in fact, our planetary crisis requires more than one decision. Had Foer used his abundant talent to remain global instead of going personal, his wake-up call would not have put us right back to sleep.

A different novelist better explains our apathy. In "War and Peace,” Leo Tolstoy describes Moscow's reaction to the news of Napoleon's invasion. "At the approach of danger, two voices always speak with equal force in a man's soul,” Tolstoy writes. One voice tells us to weigh the danger and act. Now! The other voice says "it is too painful and tormenting to think about the danger, when it is not in man's power to foresee everything and save himself.” In solitude, we listen to the voice of alarm, in company to the voice of denial. Then we fiddle while the world burns. As Napoleon marched toward the city, Tolstoy writes, "it was long since there had been so much merrymaking in Moscow as there was that year.”

The world wants to save the Amazon rainforest. Brazil's Bolsonaro says hands off.

In Alaska, a summer of extreme weather continues

The Amazon is in flames. But Brazil's past can show the path forward. 8-22-19

Smoke billows during a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near
Humaitá, Amazonas state, Brazil, on Aug. 17. (Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters)

Ruth DeFries is the Denning university professor of sustainable development at Columbia University, a MacArthur fellow and the author of "The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis.” Doug Morton is chief of the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. The views expressed are their own.

Just over 16 years ago, on a sweltering day along the southeastern fringe of the Amazon forest, we sat down to catch our breath on a half-burnt log. Plumes of smoke on the horizon wafted to the sky, and the sound of chainsaws whirred in the distance. We couldn't have known that we were sitting in a time and place that was rapidly approaching peak deforestation this century in the Amazon. It was July 2003 in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso.

That moment comes to mind this week, with reports that Brazil's Amazon has experienced a record number of fires this year -- the result of both drier conditions and intentional burning to clear the forest. As smoke from deforestation fires blankets the Amazon once more, those in power have responded by attacking government scientists and attempting to bury facts that the satellite record makes clear. But lessons from Brazil's own past highlight the importance of these data -- and could show the path forward.

In 2003, we were on a mission with our colleagues from the Brazilian space agency, INPE, as part of a collaboration between U.S. and Brazilian scientists. The goal was to understand how the Amazon forest stores massive amounts of carbon that would otherwise trap heat in the atmosphere and how trees recycle water into clouds that sustain forests and water crops far away.

Before we headed into the field, we had huddled with our Brazilian colleagues around computers to analyze data from a recently launched satellite that sent images of the forest every day. The new data were full of promise, suggesting it might be possible to shrink the time between a chainsaw crew cutting a forest tract and INPE's ability to map where that deforestation occurred. With older satellites, the gap between the event and the information could be weeks or months.

Could we trust the algorithms? The only way to find out was to see for ourselves. So we marked on a map the places to check. After crossing rivers on shaky wooden bridges, changing numerous flat tires and pushing vehicles out of the sand, we arrived at one of the spots marked on the map. Sure enough, a thick chain dragged between two tractors had ripped out the trees by their roots. At a second spot, piles of dead trees still smoldered. A third spot also had telltale signs of recent deforestation. And a fourth, fifth and sixth. Each clearing was as big as an Iowa cornfield. The algorithm was spot on.

As we sat on the log, we looked at each other in dismay. We were thrilled with the accuracy of the algorithm, but distraught at what it meant. Pasture for cattle and fields for soy to ship to Europe and Asia were replacing towering trees. Satellite images provided the big picture. The Amazon forest was disappearing before our eyes.

Our Brazilian colleagues put their technical skill and dedication to their mandate into action. For decades, the Brazilian government has had the best system in the world to track its forests. INPE's estimates are the gold standard to officially document changes in the forest. The key has been transparency: Satellite images, methods and results are all shared with the world. And their work made a difference. Data alone cannot keep the forest standing, but without data, even the best policies cannot go into action.

In the following years, deforestation rates plunged with government policies that combined carrots and sticks for ranchers and farmers. The tired rationale that standing forests get in the way of progress toppled. With better-managed pastures and fields, ranchers and farmers produced even more beef and soy despite restrictions on new clearings. Brazil became the shining example for other countries blessed with vast remaining tracts of lush tropical forest. Tracking deforestation from satellites became nearly as routine as an annual checkup.

With the seemingly pervasive shift in political winds, the shining model of Brazil's success is losing its sheen. Deforestation is inching upward, an observable fact known from INPE's own system and other sources. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro -- who has made opposition to environmental policies a pillar of his platform -- doesn't like these facts. Because the reality gets in the way of unearthing valuable minerals, satisfying the clamor for cash crops and building massive infrastructure, he is using the all-too-familiar tactic of claiming truth is a lie and cutting off the fact-checkers. Yet this comes at great cost.

In the years since we sat on the log at the edge of the deforestation frontier, Brazil demonstrated to the world that effective policies can curb the damage. But our planet's most vital assets can never be completely safe from political upheavals that reverse course on earlier gains. Successes take years of hard work and technical expertise from many talented people, such as our INPE colleagues. As the chainsaws buzz once again, we stand in solidarity with the truth -- the satellite record of forest loss for the world to see.

Without the Amazon, the planet is doomed, 8-5-19

ONE OF the easiest ways to combat climate change is to stop tearing down old trees. This is why it is everyone's problem that new Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro seems determined to chop away at the Amazon rainforest, the world's greatest reserve of old-growth forest.

According to a recent analysis in the New York Times, "enforcement actions by Brazil's main environmental agency fell by 20 percent during the first six months of the year, compared with the same period in 2018.” Fines, warnings and the elimination of illegal equipment from preservation zones are among the measures Brazil's authorities are doing less often. "The drop means that vast stretches of the rain forest can be torn down with less resistance from the nation's authorities.” The result has been a loss of 1,330 square miles of rainforest since January, a loss rate that is some 40 percent higher than a year previous, according to Brazilian government records.

Mr. Bolsonaro has called his own government's information "lies,” stripped the environment ministry of authorities and slashed the environmental budget. When eight former environment ministers protested in May, current environment minister Ricardo Salles alleged that there is a "permanent and well-orchestrated defamation campaign by [nongovernmental organizations] and supposed experts, within and outside of Brazil.”

In its reality denial, Mr. Bolsonaro's brand of right-wing populism closely resembles that of President Trump. Both leaders stoke unfounded suspicions that environmental concerns represent foreign plots to undermine the domestic economy. Both are committed to breakneck resource extraction while dismissing expert warnings. And both lead nations with special responsibilities in the global fight against climate change.

Global warming cannot be successfully addressed without the engagement of the United States, the world's largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases and erstwhile leader. The Brazilian Amazon, meanwhile, is a unique natural treasure, its abundance of plant life inhaling and storing loads of planet-warming carbon dioxide day and night. Without "the world's lungs,” life on the planet is doomed.

Earlier this month, the journal Science published a paper finding that, if world leaders made reforestation a priority, the planet's ecosystems could accommodate massive numbers of new trees -- perhaps hundreds of billions more. True, reforestation advocates would no doubt have to compete with those who would use land for other purposes, particularly as the world population increases. Even so, the paper's authors note, their work "highlights global tree restoration as our most effective climate change solution to date.”

This is not to say that the fight against global warming is as easy as planting a few, or even billions, of trees, if such a thing were politically or logistically feasible. As long as humans depend on carbon-emitting sources of fuel for energy, the atmosphere's chemistry will continue to change and the climate will be in peril. But it does suggest that leaders such as Mr. Bolsonaro, who are leading in the opposite direction, can do particularly extreme damage to the effort to restrain climate change.

Protecting indigenous lands protects the environment. Trump and Bolsonaro threaten both.

Deb Haaland is an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo people and a Democrat representing New Mexico's 1st District in the House of Representatives. Joênia Wapichana is a member of the Wapichana indigenous people from the northern Brazilian Amazon and represents Roraima in Brazil's Chamber of Deputies.

On Tuesday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will meet with President Trump at the White House. Both administrations are pushing a host of policies that are detrimental to the rights of indigenous people. As two of the first female indigenous members of Congress in the United States and Brazil, respectively, we are concerned about these policies and the mounting threats facing our communities. We must stand up against toxic rhetoric and brutal attacks on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Indigenous communities from Standing Rock to the Amazon are leading the way on protecting our Earth. Recent research has found that indigenous peoples in control of their lands are the most effective stewards of climate-regulating tropical forests. In the United States, Standing Rock was a culmination of indigenous people organizing to protect their resources. More recently, indigenous groups in New Mexico helped prevent the lease sale of Chaco Canyon for oil and gas development, defending sacred lands and heritage from harmful extraction.

Yet indigenous environmental defenders face tremendous risks, encountering pushback and even criminalization for simply protecting critical family resources. We saw it in Standing Rock, when police had confrontations with peaceful protesters. We see it now in Brazil, which is the deadliest country for environmental defenders in the world, with intimidation and lethal violence falling heavily on indigenous peoples and land rights activists.

Among the many parallels between their administrations, Bolsonaro and Trump are both taking extreme action to strip the hard-earned rights of indigenous peoples to the benefit of extractive industries and commercial farming. These policies present threats to our communities, the integrity of ecosystems on our lands and the stability of our climate. Perhaps nowhere is this more concerning than in Raposa Serra do Sol and Bears Ears National Monument, our ancestral homes.

In Brazil, the Raposa Serra do Sol indigenous territory was formally recognized by presidential decree in 2005, and was upheld by Supreme Court rulings in 2009 and 2013. Though the recognition of the entirety of these traditional lands is critical to both the communities' development and vision for a sustainable and just future, they have been violently attacked by rice farmers, ranchers and miners throughout this period. These attacks have gone unpunished.

More recently, Bolsonaro has singled out Raposa Serra do Sol and threatened to review its boundaries to favor powerful special interests, particularly mining. His government has further threatened to open indigenous territories to mining, commercial agriculture and damaging infrastructure projects, even citing dubious claims of national security to forgo our right to consultation. Bolsonaro's dangerous rhetoric is already having direct impact on indigenous peoples, with invasions on indigenous lands spiking since he took power.

Similarly, Bears Ears National Monument is ground zero for the Trump administration's efforts to radically scale back protections on sacred lands. In December 2017, Trump unilaterally and perhaps even unconstitutionally reduced the monument's size. Recent reports show that his administration suspiciously met with officials from a company with mineral interests in Bears Ears before making the decision to review the monument's boundaries.

The House Natural Resources Committee is conducting oversight hearings to investigate the review process that led to the alteration of the monument's boundaries. Native tribes and local communities are vigorously challenging the administration's action. Part of the mission of public lands is to protect sacred sites and preserve them for future generations, but the current boundaries at Bears Ears could jeopardize those sites forever.

We are proud to be part of an international sisterhood of indigenous women who provide leadership on these issues, first as organizers and now as members of Congress. From our new perspectives as legislators, we are working to oppose rollbacks and propose policies to protect indigenous rights and the environment. In the United States, one of us (Haaland) has introduced the Bears Ears Expansion and Respect for Sovereignty (BEARS) Act to restore the original boundaries of Bears Ears and the America's Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspire, and Together Improve the Economies of States (ANTIQUITIES) Act to ensure no president can shrink the boundaries of our national monuments without talking to Congress first.

In Brazil, the other (Wapichana) has proposed amendments to restore the mandate of the Ministry of Justice to protect indigenous lands (in response to Bolsonaro's attempt to bestow this critical role to the Ministry of Agriculture) and is sponsoring a bill to strengthen the scope and enforcement of environmental law. This is especially critical given the disastrous collapse of a dam owned by the mining company Vale, in which at least 169 people were killed outside the town of Brumadinho.

The regressions undertaken by the Trump and Bolsonaro governments are overwhelming and underscore the need for solidarity between indigenous peoples and our allies in North and South America. We will continue to scrutinize the Bolsonaro and Trump administrations' attempts to undermine the sanctity of sacred lands and disregard the rights of affected communities. We will encourage our colleagues in Congress to examine how we can take action to stop the threats to indigenous peoples and climate-critical biospheres such as the Amazon rain forest. And we will support indigenous leaders and environmental defenders who face criminalization, threats and violence for their activism.

Either we fight for the human rights of our people or we stand to lose everything.

Bolsonaro, Trump and the nationalists ignoring climate disaster

The world wants to save the Amazon rainforest. Brazil's Bolsonaro says hands off.

Climate Emergency: Jaw-dropping visuals out of Greenland.

A new report reinforces the short-sightedness of Trump's inaction on climate change, 8-8-19

More than 113 million people around the world suffered from acute hunger last year, according to a report issued this year by the Food Security Information Network. Spread across 53 countries, these people were so stressed by lack of food security that they required urgent assistance on one of the most fundamental needs human beings have.

The areas where this need was most urgent are ones in which poverty or other insecurity is common. Nearly 16 million people were in Yemen, for example -- a country gutted by war. The crisis spills across national boundaries: Millions of Syrians experienced a food crisis, but so did Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

These stresses are not confined to Africa and Asia. Here in the Western Hemisphere, several countries experienced similar stress, including the so-called northern triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in Central America.

The scale of the crisis in those countries pales next to Yemen or Congo.

As a function of population, though? It's much more significant. The FSIN report looked at the "dry corridor" region of those countries, a tropical dry forest that runs up the western spine of Central America. It's been in drought for years, and, of the 10.1 million people included in the FSIN's analysis, 1.5 million experienced a crisis of food insecurity in 2018. An additional 2.6 million experienced food stress.

Between a third and a half of those assessed by the FSIN in the three countries were experiencing some level of food insecurity.

On Thursday, the United Nations released a lengthy new report assessing how climate change will affect the world's food supply over the long term.

"Observed climate change is already affecting food security through increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and greater frequency of some extreme events,” the report reads. Future shifts in the climate as a function of increased warming will exacerbate the problem. Food security isn't just a function of drought reducing crop production, it's also a function of expected shifts in the nutritional content of food and in food prices as some products become more scarce.

Shifts in production will lead to other economic changes, like a reduced ability to earn a living through agriculture. Stressors like military conflict or existing poverty will probably make these effects worse.

One Scottish professor quoted by the New York Times made clear one of the likely effects of these shifts in the availability of food and the ability to earn a living through farming.

"People's lives will be affected by a massive pressure for migration,” the University of Aberdeen's Pete Smith said. "People don't stay and die where they are. People migrate."

We highlighted the Central American countries above because this is exactly what we've seen in recent years. There are a number of causes spurring migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, including crime and economic instability. Climate-change-driven shifts in agricultural production, though, have already been cited as another spur for that movement.

"Food insecurity is a critical 'push' factor driving international migration,” the report reads, "along with conflict, income inequality, and population growth. The act of migration itself causes food insecurity, given the lack of income opportunities and adverse conditions compounded by conflict situations."

"Studies have demonstrated that Mexican migration and Central American migration fluctuate in response to climate variability,” it reads at a later point. "The food system is heavily dependent on maize and bean production and long-term climate change and variability significantly affect the productivity of these crops and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers."

That migration from Central America northward toward the United States has been one of the primary focal points of President Trump's time in the White House. He's spent a great deal of political energy addressing the increase in migrants at the border and trying to enact policies aimed at preventing ingress, like building a wall.

At the same time, his administration's approach to addressing climate change has been one of hostility. This week, a top climate scientist with the Department of Agriculture quit his job after administration officials tried to bury a report he'd authored linking increased atmospheric carbon dioxide to reduced nutritional value in rice. His is one of many similar stories that have emerged since January 2017, and his is not the only resignation related to an inability to share honest information about the changing world.

Trump's approach to immigration is not and has never been preventive. It is instead reactionary, with a focus on deterring those seeking to come to the U.S. and removing those who've arrived and entered illegally or sought asylum. His hostility to addressing climate change is long-standing and rooted in politics.

However simple it may be to draw a line from the changing climate to increased migration, it doesn't matter. Cracking down on migrants and deprioritizing climate change are central to Trump's politics. An administration that's hostile to nuanced reports on rice nutrition is not likely to be one that proactively decides that food insecurity is an urgent issue to address.

Widespread, dangerous heat wave to expand across much of the U.S.

Two new studies warn that a hotter world will be a more violent one, 7-10-19

As the planet warms, experts have increasingly sounded the alarm over the potential for increased climate-driven geopolitical conflict. Two new studies underscore how rising temperatures are likely to increase aggression and violent behavior at the individual level as well. They arrive at a similar conclusion using two very different data sets: crime in Los Angeles and terrorist attacks around the world.

Cement production makes more CO2 than all the trucks in the world

We Have Less Than a Millisecond Left

By Lee Camp. June 25, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

You see, the planet we call home has existed for roughly 4.55 billion years. But numbers that large mean almost nothing to me, nor to most people, so I choose to break it down. If we lay the age of the Earth out over a calendar year, that would amount to 518,264 years per hour or 144 years per second. So if we have 10 or 11 years until the point of no return, as climate scientists have repeatedly told us, that means we have a millisecond left before midnight in which to change our society completely to avoid turning the Earth into a piping hot fajita. (If you want to be more generous and instead look at how long modern homosapiens have been walking around, it's 315,000 years. So if you lay that over a calendar year, we have roughly 15 minutes before the stroke of midnight to combat climate change. Not sure that makes me feel much better.)

None of us should be thinking about anything other than climate change. We all kind of know it even if we think we don't know it. Even people who deny climate change exists probably secretly know it. They're just confusing what they want to be true with what they subconsciously know to be true. I did the same thing when I was a child and tennis legend Jimmy Connors lost in the semifinals of the 1991 U.S. Open after his monumental run at the ancient age of 39. (For an 11-year-old, 39 sounds pretty close to mummified.) I was certain Jimmy would be playing in the finals. I knew deep within my bones that Jimbo would dazzle us with diving volleys and mid-court passing shots in the championship match because how could the powers that be allow the only character America genuinely cared about to bow out before the finals? In my mind it was akin to killing off Iron Man halfway through the movie "Iron Man.”

Jimmy Connors did not show up to the finals. Climate change is the only thing we should be thinking about.

I don't just mean there should be a report every couple hours about climate change by our bloviating bullhorns of mainstream news. I don't mean once a day you should mention to a friend that Al Gore seems vaguely douchey but probably has a point. I mean climate change should be ALL we're thinking about. It should be a major factor in every conversation, every job, every TV show, every humor column, every tweet, every clever T-shirt slogan and every fortune cookie message. Climate change should be everything.

Plastic action figures for kids should have one arm melted off to symbolize the effects of climate change. Your server at a nice restaurant should sprinkle sand in your soup du jour to remind you of the disappearance of fresh water. Ice cream should be exclusively served melted to symbolize rising temperatures. Hamburgers should cost $200 to compensate for the global emissions of factory farming. And every time you go ice skating someone should punch you in the face and yell, "Enjoy it while it lasts”

We have less than a millisecond left.

Simply put, humans have no business going about our day-to-day actions as if we aren't on the event horizon. It's equivalent to working on your model train set while your kitchen is burning down, your spouse is in the bathroom battling an alligator that took up residence in the bathtub, and your 12-year-old daughter is in the living room having just been offered heroin for the first time. … Right now, humanity is still focused on the model train.

The International Governmental Panel on Climate Change says the point of no return is the year 2030. This obviously doesn't mean everything spontaneously combusts at the stroke of midnight 2030 (although that would be fascinating to watch). It means that after that point--if we aren't living vastly different lives--no effort will change the fact that the planet inevitably will become uninhabitable and we humans inevitably will go extinct and there inevitably will be no more skiing (both due to a lack of snow and due to a lack of fleshy beings to ride on skis). The year 2030 is the point of no return. It is the date of our impending, prolonged suicide.

Let's assume the world's greatest climate scientists are way off. Let's assume these people who do nothing other than study climatic models using computer programs so sophisticated I wouldn't be qualified to turn them on--let's assume they have their swollen heads up their highly-educated asses. Let's assume that they were so wrong that it's not 10 years but instead 20 years until the point of no return, so the amount of time we have left is double what they thought. That still means we should be thinking about nothing other than climate change. It still means our very survival as a species, or lack thereof, will be decided in the next couple decades. It still means we only have a millisecond.

Maybe we're right to die off. Maybe our hubris and egos the size and shape of SUVs have doomed us, and we should just give up and enjoy our final few years. But if that's the case, I would like an announcement. I would honestly prefer a national address by some of our so-called leaders stating clearly, "Look folks, in order to continue civilized society of the human species, we would need to change everything. Every single one of us would have to labor toward a massive shift to a sustainable culture that works in harmony with nature, rather than abusing nature like it's a servant who gave us an ugly look. We would have to focus on achieving this new society rather than spending a third of all our free time watching superhero movies. But we have no intention of doing that because it sounds kinda hard, not to mention corporate profits would suffer in the short term. So instead, we're declaring here and now that we'll all just keep functioning as is until such time as the oceans turn to acid, the ever-growing storms consume us, and California feels like the inside of a kiln. According to our best minds, that will be 10 to 20 years from now, so don't worry about starting that retirement fund. Don't buy the extended warranty on that vacuum. And whatever you do, at no point, and under no circumstances, quit smoking and drinking. …Thank you, and good night.”

If that's the choice we've decided to make, then I want an announcement along these lines. On the other hand, if we decide to do the opposite and save ourselves, someone should probably let everyone know it's an all-hands-on-deck scenario.

Let's make the call. We have less than a millisecond left.

Lee Camp is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor and activist. Camp is the host of the weekly comedy news TV show "Redacted Tonight With Lee Camp" on RT America. He is a former comedy writer for the Onion and the Huffington Post and has been a touring stand-up comic for 20 years.

This article was originally published by "Truthdig"

In 'climate apartheid', rich will save themselves while poor suffer: U.N. report

By Tom Miles. June 25, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

GENEVA (Reuters) - The world is on course for "climate apartheid", where the rich buy their way out of the worst effects of global warming while the poor bear the brunt, a U.N. human rights report said on Tuesday.

The report, submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council by its special rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, said business was supposed to play a vital role in coping with climate change, but could not be relied on to look after the poor.

"An over-reliance on the private sector could lead to a climate apartheid scenario in which the wealthy pay to escape overheating, hunger, and conflict, while the rest of the world is left to suffer," he wrote.

He cited vulnerable New Yorkers being stranded without power or healthcare when Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, while "the Goldman Sachs headquarters was protected by tens of thousands of its own sandbags and power from its generator".

Relying exclusively on the private sector to protect against extreme weather and rising seas "would almost guarantee massive human rights violations, with the wealthy catered to and the poorest left behind", he wrote.

"Even under the best-case scenario, hundreds of millions will face food insecurity, forced migration, disease, and death."

His report criticised governments for doing little more than sending officials to conferences to make "sombre speeches", even though scientists and climate activists have been ringing alarm bells since the 1970s.

"Thirty years of conventions appear to have done very little. From Toronto to Noordwijk to Rio to Kyoto to Paris, the language has been remarkably similar as States continue to kick the can down the road," Alston wrote.

"States have marched past every scientific warning and threshold, and what was once considered catastrophic warming now seems like a best-case scenario."

Since 1980, the United States alone had suffered 241 weather and climate disasters costing $1 billion or more, at a cumulative cost of $1.6 trillion.

There had been some positive developments, with renewable energy prices falling, coal becoming uncompetitive, emissions declining in 49 countries, and 7,000 cities, 245 regions, and 6,000 companies committing to climate mitigation.

However, despite ending its reliance on coal, China was still exporting coal-fired power plants and failing to crack down on its own methane emissions; and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro planned to open up the Amazon rainforest for mining, end demarcation of indigenous lands, and weaken environmental protection.

"In the United States, until recently the world's biggest producer of global emissions, President (Donald) Trump has placed former lobbyists in oversight roles, adopted industry talking points, presided over an aggressive rollback of environmental regulations, and is actively silencing and obfuscating climate science," Alston wrote.

Editing by Kevin Liffey

This article was originally published by "Reuters" -

Millions could die prematurely without 'unprecedented' action to clean air and water, a new U.N. report warns, 3-13-19, WP

The United Nations released its sixth Global Environment Outlook report on Wednesday. Its main message, delivered across 740 pages, is straightforward: Human action is degrading the Earth and its ecosystems, and conditions will worsen if people do not take "unprecedented action" to try to reverse the situation.

Those actions, according to the report, include reducing land degradation, limiting pollution, improving water management, and mitigating climate change. The report also calls for environmental considerations to be "mainstreamed" into all social and economic decisions -- so that the environment, in other words, is viewed not as its own issue, but central to all policymaking at all governmental levels. If drastic action is not taken, the report warns that, among other things, millions could die prematurely from air pollution and from deadly infectious diseases from water pollution by 2050.

Priorities: Where do you start with the Green New Deal?, Treehugger 2-11-19

We have a lot to do in not much time.

The Green New Deal is out, and it is so TreeHugger, so much to love. And so much Socialism! It's almost like Canada. It is a very long list of very good ideas; David Roberts of Vox does a great summary of it, calling it a high-wire act.

It has to offer enough specifics to give it real shape and ambition, without overprescribing solutions or prejudging differences over secondary questions. It has to please a diverse range of interest groups, from environmental justice to labor to climate, without alienating any of them. It has to stand up to intense scrutiny (much of it sure to be bad faith), with lots of people gunning for it from both the right and center.

But where do you start? What should the priorities be? What are the biggest problems we face? Let's start with a pile of graphs.

© Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Department of Energy

When one looks at the most recent Livermore Lab carbon graph (they stopped doing these in 2014 for some reason), the two most significant sources of CO2 are power generation and transportation. That coal band looks huge and scary here.

US Energy Information Administration/Public Domain

But coal for power generation has been dropping for years, and will continue to do so. The fact is that both gas and renewables are now cheaper, and gas dials up faster than coal, making it a better mix with renewables.

Also, seeing where the CO2 is coming from is useful, and the supply side is important, but it is in response to demand. Where is all that electricity going? Where are all the people going in the transportation box? What are they being transported in? It's demand that drives the CO2 generation.

© Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the Department of energy

When you look at the demand side and see all the other sources of electricity, the coal problem seems much less intimidating. Nuclear, hydro, and renewables generate almost as much power. And look where all the electricity is going: of the 12.5 quads of usable power, almost 75 percent is going into residential and commercial buildings, while a quarter of it is going into industry. Almost 8 quads of energy from Natural Gas go straight into our homes and offices for heating, and 75 percent of 9.54 quads of gas go indirectly through generating electricity. While burning gas puts out half the CO2 as burning coal for the same amount of heat, it still puts out a lot.

US Energy Information Administration/Public Domain

Inside our homes, the single biggest use of electricity is air conditioning, followed by water heating. Lighting is dropping all the time as people switch to LEDs. "All other uses" includes clothes drying, which should be a slice of the pie all on its own, as it is a huge draw; according to the NRDC, dryers now consume as much energy as the fridge, dishwasher and clothes washer combined.

US Energy Information Administration/Public Domain

On the commercial side, the biggest single electricity suck is refrigeration. (The computers are 7.5 percent and office equipment is 7.8 percent. I do not know why they combined them into a single wedge because the computers are mostly server farms). That refrigeration is the cold chain, "uninterrupted series of refrigerated production, storage and distribution activities, along with associated equipment and logistics, which maintain a desired low-temperature range." That's mostly food, and it doesn't include the fossil fuel to run the trucks and the planes. So one suggestion for a serious reduction in energy consumption might also be: Switch to local, seasonal food for a low-carbon diet.

US Energy Information Administration/Public Domain

And all that natural gas? We already know that most of the electricity is going into our houses and offices, mostly to run air conditioning. Combine that with the direct heating of commercial and residential buildings, and you have 61 percent of natural gas going into our houses. (The 35 percent going to industrial uses is mainly to make plastics and fertilizers, but that's another post.) So, the Green New Deal nails it with its recommendation that we "upgrade all existing U.S. buildings and build new buildings, to achieve maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability.”

If every building was upgraded to, say, Passivhaus standards, it would take well over half the natural gas and electrical consumption offline, just like that. We could probably get by with the hydro and nuclear base plus renewables, batteries and maybe a few peaker natural gas plants. It would take some time and money to energiesprong every existing building, but we could start by changing building codes to make every new building Passivhaus efficient right now. But that's only half the battle.

US Energy Information Administration/Public Domain

The Green New Deal calls for:

..overhauling transportation systems in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible, including through investment in—

(i) zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing;
(ii) clean, affordable, and accessible public transit; and
(iii) high-speed rail.

Point (i) is not explicit, but their idea of a zero-emission vehicle is an electric car. But no car is a zero-emission vehicle; there is the embodied carbon of making it and the particulate emissions from tires and brakes. Vehicle infrastructure means highways, which are made of concrete. So what we really have to do, beside making zero emission vehicles, is reduce demand. Also, there should be more recognition of alternative zero-emission vehicles that could make a big difference, like bicycles.

US office of energy efficiency and renewable energy/Public Domain

The single biggest use of the car is to get to and from work, followed by shopping and family or personal business. Clean, affordable and accessible public could go a long way to helping here.

Michael Mehaffy via NRDC/CC BY 4.0

But by far, the single biggest determinant of how much one drives is the density where you live. This is the biggest oversight in the Green New Deal; if we are going to get people out of cars and deal with that big honking green bar at the bottom of the Livermore graph, we have to change the way we design our communities. We have to intensify our suburbs. Then we can support good transit, cycling and walking infrastructure.

Alex Baca got this in her post on Slate:

A Green New Deal must insist on a new, and better, land use regime, countering decades of federal sprawl subsidy. The plan already recognizes the need to retrofit and upgrade buildings. Why not address their locations while we're at it? Suggestions of specific policies that would enable a Green New Deal to address land use have already emerged: We could, simply, measure greenhouse gases from our transportation system or build more housing closer to job centers. Reallocating what we spend on building new roads to paying for public transit instead would go a long way toward limiting sprawl.

Housing in Vienna/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

A Green New Deal looks a lot like Vienna, where everyone lives in apartments with good access to transit and bike lanes. Just through the wonder of urban design, homes use far less energy per capita because they only have one or two outside surfaces; and the density is high enough so that kids can walk to school, you can walk to shop, you can bike or take transit to work.

A Green New Deal looks a lot like where I live, a streetcar suburb built up after 1913 at a density where you could buy a single family house, but still be within a five minute walk to the fancy new streetcar line on St Clair. So while I own a car, I never need to use it and rarely do.

A Green New Deal looks most like Munich, where little buildings built to Passivhaus standards are built around parks, with a streetcar line and a school a short walk away.

Undoing 75 years of sprawl will not be easy, but it is probably less of a stretch than changing every car to be zero emission and building the generating or solar capacity to keep them charged. Suburbia was built on fossil fuels, needed to heat and cool leaky single family houses and drive between them. If we live in places designed around walking and cycling and transit, then that is what people will do.

The Green New Deal is a wonderful place to start a discussion about how to eliminate CO2 emissions and build a better nation. Some find it radical, but I consider the goals of securing clean air, healthy food and a sustainable environment (along with justice and equity) to be reasonable things to aspire to. And it's really not that hard; we just need a whole lot of insulation, density, and bicycles.

Diet and Global Warming If one takes the threat of global warming seriously, the most powerful personal step you can take may well be choosing a vegetarian diet.

Forget about nations; we need to think for the world, Treehugger, 8-14-19

Good guys and bad guys make great characters. Frodo versus Sauron. Harry versus Voldemort.

It's easy to think of the real world in terms of good guys and bad guys too. Solar panel makers are good guys; oil companies are bad guys. Politicians who stop fracking are good guys, politicians who build pipelines are bad guys.

But that narrative misses something crucial: businesses, politicians and countries compete with each other. If one oil company slows down the drilling, another will swoop in to drill more. If one country stops selling oil, another will take over the industry.

"Perhaps because of my business background, I realized that no nation could decisively reduce its carbon emissions unless virtually all other nations did so too because any nation trying to go it alone would only land its economy with increased costs and a competitive disadvantage," explained John Bunzl, the CEO for an international textile business who is working on a solution to this problem.

Even when green candidates get elected, they're stuck competing to stay in power.

"That's why, once in office, one party behaves much like another and voters become increasingly disillusioned: an effect we call 'pseudo-democracy,'" Bunzl went on. "Our votes, apparently, have become substantially meaningless."

Environmental destruction, according to Bunzl, isn't about greed or ignorance. It's about being trapped in a game of Monopoly.

"Our problem today, at least in the West, is that most people including our politicians still operate with a nation-centric worldview whereas solving global problems depends on a critical number of us adopting a world-centric worldview," Bunzl added.

Bunzl argues that the only way for countries to solve the energy crisis is to do it together. Countries have to come up with an agreement, carry it out together and make sure no one cheats.

That may seem hard, and it is. But it's comforting to think that the world isn't in an environmental crisis because people are just rotten on the inside (after all, you can't do much about human nature). It's in a crisis because we haven't changed the game. Yet.

26 Pictures That Perfectly Capture How Insanely Cold It Is Across The US - from Polar Vortex

The Southern Hemisphere is scorching: Unprecedented heat in Chile, Argentina and Australia, 2-8-19

It's summer in the Southern Hemisphere and, much like its northern counterpart six months before, it is baking. Some of the hottest weather in recorded history has scorched Chile, Argentina and Australia in recent weeks.

Among the hot-weather milestones:

The highest nighttime low (minimum) temperature ever recorded on the planet in January (97.7 degrees in southern Australia)

The farthest south 90-degree temperature ever measured on Earth in Porvenir, Chile

Australia's hottest January in recorded history

The highest temperature ever recorded at a coastal location in the Southern Hemisphere (121.1 degrees in Port Augusta, Australia)

In recent days, searing heat has torched South America's Patagonia region.

On Monday, the mercury soared to 101 degrees in Perito Moreno in southern Argentina, its highest temperature ever recorded. The National Meteorological Service of Argentina warned that the weather would "kindle various sources of fire ignition.”

Across the spine of the Andes in neighboring Chile, temperatures above 95 degrees lead to "rapid wildfire spread,” according to Meteochile. A number of blazes and hotspots were visible on satellite Sunday afternoon.

Porvenir, Chile's, record high of 90.5 degrees on Monday is perhaps the most remarkable, given its southern latitude and proximity to the cooling waters of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

The city of barely 5,000 people sits at 53.3 degrees south. For perspective, that's the same distance from the equator as Manchester, England. But while Manchester is landlocked and influenced by the Gulf Stream, Porvenir sits near the water on the Strait of Magellan -- where water temperatures rarely exceed the upper 40s Fahrenheit. It's just 700 miles from Antarctica.

It appears to be the most southerly 90-degree reading ever achieved. "Heat this high on the southern tip of South America is unprecedented,” wrote Guy Walton, a meteorologist from Atlanta specializing in climate records.

Chile and Argentina aren't the only ones in the Southern Hemisphere experiencing over-the-top warmth.

The city of Adelaide, Australia, soared to a sweltering 115.9 degrees two weeks ago, on Jan. 24. The Adelaide reading toppled records across the continent with the highest temperature ever recorded in a major Australian city.

Port Augusta in southern Australia skyrocketed to its record high of 121.1 degrees. Weather Underground meteorologist Bob Henson reported "it's the highest temperature ever recorded at a coastal location in the Southern Hemisphere.”

The temperature at Wanaaring in southeast Australia did not fall below 97.9 degrees on Jan. 26, the highest minimum temperature ever recorded in Australia, and also the highest recorded anywhere on Earth during January.

Intense droughts have plagued western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. Meanwhile, snakes have been slithering into some unwelcome places to beat the heat.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology declared 2019 the "warmest January on record.” It was the warmest or second-warmest January ever recorded in every state and territory. The government agency called the heat waves "unprecedented in their scale and duration.”

As for Chile, the unusual warmth in the "Gateway to the Antarctic" mirrors a similar event in Scandinavia last July, when Norway, Finland and Sweden all topped 90 degrees. Exceptional warmth even approached the Arctic Circle.

Extreme heat in the Arctic circle today! 31.6 degrees centigrade at Kevo, Finland

The unrelenting heat fits into a pattern of warmer weather making it farther north or south toward the poles, as the globe continues to heat up. In the face of climate change, uncharacteristically hot air masses continue to surge into uncharted territory.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA announced Wednesday that 2018 goes in the books as the fourth-warmest year on record. The top five hottest have all been in the past five years.

And despite the brief cold air attack via the polar vortex into the Midwest, temperatures in the United States are already running several degrees high for 2019. The warming tendency is dominating in most places, and there's no sign of a letup across either hemisphere.

Undeniable warming: The planet's hottest five years on record in five images, 2-7-19

Temperature differences from normal around the globe
averaged over the last five years (2014-2018). (NASA)

Five different organizations that track temperatures have all come to this conclusion: 2018 ranked among the five warmest years on record, landing in fourth place.

All of them -- NOAA, NASA, Berkeley Earth, the United Kingdom's Hadley Centre and the Japan Meteorological Agency -- crunched the numbers using different methods, but they each arrived at the same answer. Confidence in this ranking is, thus, very high.

The past five years have each now ranked among the five warmest on record. According to NASA, 18 of the 19 warmest years have occurred since 2000.

The warming of the planet is unambiguous and irrefutable.

If the top image doesn't make this clear, which shows the temperature differences from normal averaged over the last five years, here are four more ...

2) A mountain of warming evidence


This chart from NASA shows the temperature difference from normal, year by year. And the tendency is for years to keep climbing higher and higher.

3) Five data sets, the same signal


The five research institutions mentioned earlier analyze land and ocean temperatures from all over the planet. While they use different techniques for processing the data, the resulting trends hardly differ. All of them show roughly the same, unmistakable warming signal.

"Though there are minor variations from year to year, all five temperature records show peaks and valleys in sync with each other,” NASA's Earth Observatory reports. "All show rapid warming in the past few decades, and all show the past decade has been the warmest.”

4) 42 straight years of above-average global temperatures


According to NOAA's analysis, 2018 marked the 42nd year in a row of temperatures warmer than the 20th-century average -- dating back to 1977. "Nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005, with the last five years comprising the five hottest,” it noted.

5) Red is overwhelming blue

Andrew Freedman
@afreedma

The past 5 years have been the warmest such period on record since at last 1880, NASA&NOAA have found. 2018 ranks as world's 4th warmest year, with 9/10 warmest years occurring since 2005. https://www.axios.com/earths-5-warmest-years-have-occurred-since-2014-cc42f4bb-dbc6-40b7-b478-0ce942fab2d0.html …

Axios created the above visual, which shows temperature differences from average around the globe during the periods centered on the 1940s and more recent decades. The contrast is stark and startling.

Pelosi announces 'visionary leaders' for new climate change committee. One name is missing: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez., 2-8

On the day Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) unveiled the details of her Green New Deal, a sweeping package of climate change and socioeconomic initiatives, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced which lawmakers will serve on a new climate change committee.

Ocasio-Cortez was not on the list.

"We are thrilled to welcome so many visionary leaders and strong voices to our new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, which will be vital in advancing ambitious progress for our planet," Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement about the committee. "Each Member brings great energy and deep expertise to the climate crisis, which jeopardizes our public health, our economy, our national security and the whole of God's creation."

Was Ocasio-Cortez slighted? Put in her place by the Speaker? Or did she want to work on the defining issue outside the confines of a committee?

According to Ocasio-Cortez, none of the above.

At a news conference announcing her Green New Deal plan, she said it "was not a snub.” Ocasio-Cortez said she was asked to join but declined. The members of the committee are Democratic Reps. Kathy Castor (Fla.), Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.), Julia Brownley (Calif.), Sean Casten (Ill.), Jared Huffman (Calif.), Mike Levin (Calif.), A. Donald McEachin (Va.) and Joe Neguse (Colo.). Castor will be chairman.

In the past, Ocasio-Cortez has indicated that the panel Pelosi put together didn't have enough teeth to be effective. But she also said unequivocally that Pelosi is a leader on climate change.

"I will not allow our caucus be divided up by silly notions of whatever narrative; we are 100 percent in this together,” Ocasio-Cortez said, donning a green blazer.

Notably, it's Ocasio-Cortez who helped make the notion of a Green New Deal mainstream. On Thursday, she and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) offered an ambitious list of policy proposals that would seek to eliminate carbon emissions while caring for the most vulnerable populations.

Many of the ways Ocasio-Cortez and Markey envision getting there is through issues not usually directly associated with environmental policy. As Washington Post reporter Philip Bump wrote of the Green New Deal outline: "This is an economic document at its heart, one that forecasts how the economy is going to need to change and establishing a path for fixing many of the problems that have accompanied past economic transitions.”

It calls for high-speed rail "to a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary,” guaranteed jobs "with a family-sustaining wage,” and "high-quality healthcare" for all.

Ocasio-Cortez had proposed the establishment of a select congressional committee on the Green New Deal. The climate change committee that was formed instead is not as nearly as sweeping as Ocasio-Cortez envisioned, and she criticized it at the time.

The freshman congresswoman and the speaker clashed early on regarding environmental issues. They didn't necessarily get off on the right foot when Ocasio-Cortez made an appearance in Pelosi's office during a sit-in for the Green New Deal over freshmen orientation.

Pelosi has long championed addressing climate change, but she has been less inclined to adopt Ocasio-Cortez's progressive ideas. In an interview with Politico this week, Pelosi offered this seemingly dismissive response when asked about a Green New Deal.

"It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive," Pelosi said. "The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they're for it, right?"

But Ocasio-Cortez insisted she didn't take that comment as dismissive.

"I think it is a green dream,” she said. "All great American programs started with a vision for our future.”

'We're nuts!' isn't a great pitch for a Green New Deal, 2-8

I'm in the middle of renovating a house, so it's probably not surprising that when I started reading Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D-N.Y.) FAQ for a Green New Deal, published Thursday by NPR, I was immediately struck by a casual proposal to "upgrade or replace every building in US for state-of-the-art energy efficiency.”

Homeowners tend to start renovations hoping to make their houses greener and more energy efficient, if only for reasons of parsimony. They quickly discover that what they lightheartedly imagined to be a few minor upgrades are in fact massive expenses. All they wanted was energy-efficient windows, better insulation, a tankless water heater, a radiant system to replace their (dry, noisy, inefficient) HVAC and .?.?. dear God, did the contractor misplace a decimal point? We're updating a modest row house, not building Versailles!

Ceilings and walls must be removed, then replaced; fancy new equipment installed; ductwork rerouted; slabs perhaps broken and repoured; ancillary systems brought up to modern housing codes. Much labor is required; much homeowner patience and cash, too. And the older the building, the more expensive and disruptive the process, since decades of obsolete junk have to be ripped out, with all appropriate environmental remediation measures taken along the way.

Yet Ocasio-Cortez, or someone in her office, apparently thought those repairs could be made to every building in the United States within a decade. And this is only one of the minor details of the plan; it barely merits more than a mention.

Much of the FAQ is devoted to the showier stuff, the policy equivalent of gold plumbing fixtures and Calacatta marble walls: replacing air travel with high-speed rail; junking every automobile with an internal-combustion engine; making affordable public transportation available to every single American (presumably including those who live hours from the nearest town?); replacing the electric grid with something smarter; meeting "100% of power demand through clean and renewable energy sources”; and -- I swear I'm not making this up -- providing economic security to people who are "unwilling to work.” This, too, is supposed to happen within only a decade, or thereabouts.

Going by my experience at energy-efficiencizing, I'd estimate that the Ocasio-Cortez plan would require the entire population of the United States -- or at least those who aren't "unwilling to work" -- to drop whatever they're doing and start training to become insulation installers, HVAC technicians, electricians, automotive engineers or demolition experts. But even a quarter of that effort doesn't really seem very practical. Nor politically enticing. The only historical operation even approaching such scale was the U.S. mobilization for World War II, and unfortunately for Green New Dealers, the coal industry probably won't cooperate by bombing Pearl Harbor.

The FAQ now seems to have been taken down, and the actual measure introduced to Congress was slightly less exuberant. Notably, it makes a nod to the need for technological and economic feasibility. But it's still rather breathtaking. If Obamacare's architects had suggested that their plan included finding a universal cancer cure within 10 years, at a cost of only 15 cents a dose, you'd kind of wonder about the people who drafted it.

But arguably Ocasio-Cortez's team wasn't really trying to put together a practical document. Rather, it articulates an ideal, one that we may never reach but should at least strive for. And there's something appealing about that argument, because climate change is a pressing concern, and even if it weren't, there would be ample reasons to want to obtain as much energy as possible from renewable sources.

Progressives frequently argue that getting to "as much as possible" requires setting goals that are out of reach. They call it "shifting the Overton window,” or widening the spectrum of plausible policy options, an idea broached in the 1990s by policy analyst Joseph P. Overton. The folk version: Ask for the stars, you'll get the moon.

Fair enough. Sometimes people and causes do lose out by being too timid. What the progressive window-shoppers forget is that they can also lose out by being over-aggressive.

A pedestrian example: Many people could do better, salary-wise, if they simply negotiated harder with potential employers. But few of them could do better by opening with a pugnacious demand for $1 million a year. Wild demands, unmoored from reality, don't increase what you ultimately take away from a negotiation; they are much more likely to end the negotiation abruptly when the other party concludes that you're crazy.

Wildfires, hurricanes and other extreme weather cost the [USA] nation 247 lives, nearly $100 billion in damage during 2018, 2-6-19

The number of billion-dollar weather disasters in the United States has more than doubled in recent years, as devastating hurricanes and ferocious wildfires that experts suspect are fueled in part by climate change have ravaged swaths of the country, according to data released by the federal government Wednesday.

Since 1980, the United States has experienced 241 weather and climate disasters where the overall damage reached or exceeded $1 billion, when adjusted for inflation, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Between 1980 and 2013, according to NOAA, the nation averaged roughly half a dozen such disasters a year. Over the most recent five years, that number has jumped to more than 12.

Vietnamese farmers are migrating en masse to escape climate change Friday July 20, 2018

At the Southern end of Vietnam lies the Mekong Delta. It's Vietnamese name, Cuu Long means "Nine Dragons,” referring to the nine rivers that come from six countries, and meet there, ending a journey of several thousand kilometres to the sea. The Mekong Delta is the most fertile area in Vietnam, and also the most fragile. It is the country's rice bowl, and it is now slowly sinking into the sea.

The Mekong Delta is one of Earth's most fertile areas for agriculture. The land is carpeted with lush green vegetation with rice paddies and fruit trees that feed a third of the nation and in addition, provides 60 percent of its shrimp and fish. Like all river deltas, the Mekong brings minerals from upstream and deposits them across the delta. The river delta provides tons of all the minerals and elements that a food crop needs to grow, it can grow more plants per acre than regular soil, which is limited in nutrients.

The Mekong Delta is the only place in the entire river basin where rice can be grown and harvested 7 times a year. But climate change and other human activity has begun to turn this oasis into a waste land. The delta is rapidly urbanizing and that is requiring more extraction of groundwater to provide for the needs of a burgeoning population. The water extraction projects have caused many local waterways to sink and dry up providing seawater an entry way into the delta poisoning the rich soil. Meanwhile, erosion and drought is affecting productivity while leaving homes and infrastructure to collapse.

Alex Chapman and Van Pham Dang Tri of The Conversation note that a 2015-2016 drought (the worst drought in a century) caused salt water to intrude 50 miles inland and destroyed at least 160,000ha of crops. The rice paddies are the first to go with hardy tropical fruits, including saltwater tolerant coconut close behind. The drought has caused shrimp and fish ponds to dry up. These changes in combination have caused a migration of 1.7 million people out of the delta in the past 10 years.

Paul Krugman Has Some Truly Shocking News About Climate Change "This just in: Saving the planet would be cheap; it might even be free," the Nobel-prize winning economist announces right off the bat.... It has long been clear that a well-thought-out strategy of emissions control, in particular one that puts a price on carbon via either an emissions tax or a cap-and-trade scheme, would cost much less than the usual suspects want you to think... On one side, there has been dramatic progress in renewable energy technology, with the costs of solar power, in particular, plunging, down by half just since 2010... On the other side, it turns out that putting a price on carbon would have large "co-benefits" -- positive effects over and above the reduction in climate risks -- and that these benefits would come fairly quickly. The most important of these co-benefits, according to the I.M.F. paper, would involve public health: burning coal causes many respiratory ailments, which drive up medical costs and reduce productivity."

UN summit shows how Donald Trump is doing more damage to world's climate than we ever realised Trump has committed to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement – but that won't happen until 2020. Until then, he threatens to wreck it from the inside out


As the UN climate talks drew to a close in Bonn on Friday, delegates will look back on these talks as the moment the US tried to present 'ald Trump's vision for environmental action – and was met with outrage and derision.

These two weeks have seen nearly 200 countries come together to support the Paris agreement, in an unprecedented effort to coordinate against climate change. Now with Syria on board, the US is left as the only country outside of this global endeavour.

No one here has been slow to speak out against the US federal government. Yet the summit has also shown clearly how the US under 'ald Trump can continue to damage the Paris accord, and thereby the world, in ways we are only just beginning to understand.

"They [thd US] have decided that they are not going to be playing the game of the Paris agreement but they still want to be inside the room and decide the rules,” Harjeet Singh, Action Aid's global lead on climate change, told The Independent.

But, according to Mr Singh, there is a danger that other rich countries in the EU, as well as the likes of Australia and Canada, use the general outcry against America as a "cover-up" to avoid genuine progress on key issues such as ramping up ambition before the Paris deal comes into effect in 2020.

"The US is becoming a punching bag. Everybody is focusing on what they are doing and nobody is noticing what other rich countries are doing,” said Mr Singh.

Climate deniers cheer study that shows Trump's policies will destroy America Widely misreported study confirms that only immediate and deep cuts in carbon pollution can avert a climate catastrophe

JOE ROMM SEP 25, 2017

This is what America will look like if we follow Trump's climate policies: PROJECTED WARMING UNDER AGGRESSIVE CLIMATE ACTION (LEFT) VERSUS TRUMP CLIMATE POLICIES (RIGHT).

This study, which found that super-aggressive emissions reductions could prevent total global warming from hitting 2.7°F would raise alarm bells in a more normal media environment. After all, the world has not embraced instantaneous and sharp emissions reductions.

Instead, President 'ald Trump has said global warming is a hoax and has adopted policies aimed at undermining U.S. and global climate action.

In reality, the world has not come close to adopting such policies. Worse, Trump's domestic and global climate policies, which include leaving the Paris climate agreement, make them all but unattainable.

Two gaping holes recently emerged in Siberia accompanied by explosions with billowing smoke and fire Tuesday Jul 04, 2017 - methane

The Last Time Summer Was This Hot, Human Beings Hadn't Yet Left Africa (Video)


7/4/18 Climate change denier Ted Cruz

Climate, Human Delusion and Our Destruction of the Biosphere: We Aren't Even Trying!

By Robert J. Burrowes November 30, 2018 "Information Clearing House"

Extinction beckons. The choice is yours.

Reflective paint, free water, medical training: How Indian authorities slashed heat deaths 90%

A Japanese island quietly disappeared -- and no one noticed until now

WP November 3, 2018

Japan has a lot of uninhabited islands, about 158 of which the government named in 2014 to ensure that the water around them continues to belong to Japan.

But now, one of those islets has disappeared, Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported this week. And no one seemed to notice until now.

The Japanese Coast Guard is apparently planning to search for the islet, called Esanbehanakitakojima, about one-third of a mile away from Sarufutsu, a village on Hokkaido island.

It turns out the Japanese Coast Guard had last surveyed the islet in 1987, and it was known to be around 4½ feet above sea level.

But now it can't be seen from land at all.

5 "Lazy" Ways to Reverse Global Warming Four scientists step forward with four unique, albeit lazy, ideas to lower the Earth's rampant fever by at least 2° C to return the planet to a healthy equilibrium. I refer to them as "lazy" not because they are easy to execute, but rather because these ideas are the consequence of being lazy as a species in the past. Each idea comes with their own risks and challenges far greater than if we hadn't ignored the warning signs and switched to renewable power sources decades ago, but we are running out of options. If we don't act soon, Earth's rising temperatures and deadly climate changes will wash its surface clean of humanity. Taking a deep breath, scientist 1 steps up to the podium.

Map of Earth showing areas in red which would be underwater if sea levels rose by 6 meters. The fact that you can see any red at all from this scale is shocking.

1. Reflect More Sunlight into Space

much of the Earth's surface has been deforested, and urban land masses have grown exponentially in recent years. These darker man-made surfaces absorb more sunlight, converting it into infrared for CO2 to capture in the atmosphere. If we could coat these surfaces in lighter colored, more reflective materials, more visible light would be reflected into space unperturbed by the atmosphere, lowering the Earth's effective temperature.

Scientist 1 therefore deems the most "elegant" solution for this method is immense floating platforms with white surfaces sailing the oceans, perhaps picking up ocean trash along the way. Still, to build enough of these ocean reflectors would take an enormous amount of manufacturing power.

2. Construct an Orbital Mirror

Scientist 2 notes the substantial drop in air temperature experienced during a solar eclipse, and uses this principle to back their lazy method of combating global warming. Between the Sun and the Earth, there is a place where their gravitational pulls cancel out and allow for an object to remain balanced in space directly between them. This "Lagrangian point" is technically unstable, but with some sort of maneuvering propulsion system, a large reflective object could be placed between the Sun and the Earth in order to redirect incoming solar energy elsewhere. Lowering the Earth's effective temperature by 2° C with this method requires that we block about 2.7% of the Sun's cross sectional area with our orbital mirror.

At the distance of Earth-Sun L1, such a mirror would have to have a diameter 2 times that of the Earth's itself! This is obviously impractical. An alternative method would be a Halo ring of sorts, constructed around the Earth in a lower orbit which is always eclipsing a thin band of the planet. If built at an altitude of 200 km, this band would still have to be more than 3 km thick. Scientist 2 also notes that Master Chief would be disappointed in such a use of the Halo ring…

3. Introduce an Anti-Greenhouse Haze

Scientist 3 brings to light Saturn's largest moon, Titan, which is colder than it's supposed to be. After factoring in the moon's solar flux, atmospheric properties, and greenhouse effect, Titan still has a temperature 9° C below its expected equilibrium. This is due to the moon's anti-greenhouse effect, attributed to its unique atmospheric haze. Organic molecules in Titan's upper atmosphere not only block a notable fraction of visible light from reaching its surface, but also allow for infrared heat to be radiated away, causing its temperature to be lower than expected.

Scientist 3 proposes such a solution for our planet, blocking the same 2.7% of the Sun's light from before with an atmospheric haze, as opposed to an orbital megastructure. A metal dust, such as germanium, has a high reflectivity for visible light as well as a large transmittance in infrared wavelengths, allowing heat to escape the planet at a faster rate than it is let in.

To lower the Earth's temperature by 2° C, 3 trillion tonnes (3*10¹² kg) of germanium dust would have to be deposited into the upper atmosphere. Scientist 3 also notes that this dust would have to be replenished every few years, and that they don't know what health hazards such a dust would pose to humans.

Images of Titan always look fuzzy due to its atmospheric haze, which lowers the effective temperature of the large moon.

4. Plant Trees

By 2050, 50 billion tonnes of CO2 is added to the atmosphere each year by human activities. Scientist 4 simply poses that we plant enough trees to absorb this excess CO2 in sanctioned areas where no humans are allowed to forest. Furthermore, they pose that this area be expanded proportionally to the both the rates rising CO2 emissions as well as deforestation.

A full grown oak tree consumes ~1,500 kg of CO2 per year. To match rates of CO2 emissions, we would need to plant 34 billion oak trees (or trees of similar size); a land area requirement AGAIN proportional to that of Russia. And this is just to match CO2 emissions; to bring these levels down would require even more trees.

Alternatively, Scientist 4 suggests that it may be possible to build factories to sequester CO2 directly out of the atmosphere. However, it would take millions of these anti-CO2 factories to even make a dent in CO2 emissions, and they would require a source of power to operate. If they can't be operated by clean energy, Scientist 4 concludes that such machines would not be practical.

5. Just Wait

The politicians bicker and argue, but in the end they choose a 5th unspoken solution; to do nothing. They decide that all of the methods proposed are just too costly, risky, or unfeasible to carry out. Instead, they hope that a future generation will pick up the slack left to them by the previous generations of leaders to combat the effects of climate change.

For our species, this is the most dire solution of all. Rising temperatures and a worsening climate eventually befoul our species, forcing us to either become annihilated by our own planet's illness or move elsewhere in the galaxy to avoid our inevitable destruction.

Once the last human has left the planet however, CO2 emissions stop. Machines deteriorate and technologies erode to give way to whatever life has survived the onslaught of humanity. Over the course of hundreds of years, trees outgrow abandoned cities and animals thrive in the ghost towns of our past. In the end, the planet equalizes on its own.

An image from Pripyat, a Ukrainian city evacuated in 1986 due to the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. Humans still can't live there without the danger of radiation poisoning. Nature recovered rather quickly.

Conclusion

To combat the effects of global warming and climate change, we as a species need to act now. The easiest solution to global warming by far is right in front of our noses today; the switch from the firmly established nonrenewable energy market, to clean, reliable power sources.

WePower?—?a founding member of the Climate Chain CoalitionDuring the One Planet Summit on December 12, 2017 in Paris, France (the 2nd anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement), a multi-stakeholder group of 12 organizations, of which WePower is proud to be present, working on distributed ledger technology (DLT, i.e. blockchain) held a meeting to agree to collaborate and establish an open global initiative called the Climate Chain Coalition (CCC). As of May 2018, over 80 organizations have joined the CCC.


WePower's goal of using Blockchain to help with the financing of more renewable energy production, thus helping decarbonize the Smart Grid and inject more needed renewable energy into the Grid around the world is 100% in sync with the Climate Chain Coalition.

The Climate Chain Coalition (CCC) is an open global initiative to support collaboration among members and stakeholders to advance blockchain (distributed ledger technology) and related digital solutions (e.g. IoT, big data) to help mobilize climate finance and enhance MRV (measurement, reporting and verification) to scale climate actions for mitigation and adaptation.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and now the World Bank are sponsors of the CCC and will act as facilitators for the organization as it begins working on making Blockchain and DLT viable tools in the fight against climate change.

WePower's goal of using Blockchain to help with the financing of more renewable energy production, thus helping decarbonize the Smart Grid and inject more needed renewable energy into the Grid around the world is 100% in sync with the CCC. WePower is happy to be working with other like-minded organizations because it's only by working together can we truly have an impact on the future of energy production for the better!

The Climate Change Solution Under Our Noses By Manuel Pulgar Vidal, leader of WWF's global Climate and Energy Practice

Our planet's outermost surface is so important, it bears its name: earth. It's the foundation of forests, grasslands and other natural habitats and the medium that gives us food, medicine, clothes, fuel, and livelihoods. Unfortunately, our use and misuse of land accounts for a significant proportion of our total annual greenhouse gas emissions, yet it accounts for a paltry amount of climate funding. We cannot prevent the worst effects of climate change without improving the ways we use land.

Every minute, about 27 football pitches' worth of forests are lost. Their destruction?—?and that of grasslands, mangroves and other habitats?—?emits huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, where they heat the planet. At the same time, habitat loss diminishes the earth's capacity to pull those gases back into the ground.

Fortunately, there is a growing movement among farmers, executives, policymakers, financiers, consumers, voters, and more to fight climate change by conserving and restoring the earth and making it more resilient.

This September, thousands of these climate leaders are coming to San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit. The event will bring together governors, mayors, legislators, CEOs, investors, researchers, and more from around the world to demonstrate progress, set more ambitious and measurable goals, and encourage national governments to go further faster.

As part of the Summit, we are issuing the 30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge: calling on businesses, states, city and local governments, and global citizens to take action for better forest and habitat conservation, food production and consumption, and land use, working together across all sectors of the economy to deliver up to 30% of the climate solutions needed by 2030.

While many businesses and local leaders have committed to scale up their use of renewable energy or set energy-use targets in line with the Paris Agreement's temperature goals, fewer have factored land stewardship into their climate action plan.

As a result, we're challenging all businesses and local leaders to ensure that conserving and restoring lands?—?everything from eliminating deforestation in supply chains to reducing food waste?—?is factored into their strategies for addressing climate change.

Rainforests can seem an abstract concept to someone sitting in a city with no trees in sight, but even urbanites can take concrete actions right now to save land.

Indeed, food production drives deforestation, most often to raise livestock and produce animal feed. Yet about a third of the food we produce is never eaten, representing the waste of an estimated 14 million square kilometers of land.

Further, when food rots in landfills, it emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps 25 times more heat than carbon dioxide. Thus, by eating a balanced diet and wasting less food, anyone can alleviate pressure on land and reduce emissions directly.

Those closer to the land?—?farmers, ranchers, Indigenous Peoples, and local communities with support from financial institutions, governments, and businesses along the supply chain?—?can restore degraded lands while boosting their productivity, which alleviates the need to clear forests and other habitats for production.

Research funded by WWF in Latin America estimates that rehabilitating land that has already been cleared of natural habitats, used, and abandoned in Brazil's Cerrado savannah and Amazon rainforest can provide enough land to meet projected demand for beef and soy through 2040 without having to fell one more tree.

These stakeholders can also integrate practices on farms, ranches and commercial forests that reinvigorate soil. Soil is a habitat unto itself, replete with microbial fauna and flora that serve as its engine. The more life in the soil, the more fertile it is, and the more effectively it can pull greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and turn them into food, fiber, and fuel.

Shifting production practices takes a lot of time and money, however, and farmers are more likely to be poor and hungry than any other profession. That leaves it to governments, financial institutions, and large multinational commodity buyers to support the rehabilitation of land and the transition of practices.

Through innovative financing mechanisms, lenders, investors and large buyers can diffuse risk and foster investment in more sustainable practices. State and local governments should set and enforce habitat conservation laws and work with businesses to set a fair and level playing field for producers.

In addition, it's critical to engage Indigenous Peoples and local communities and protect their rights, as they are both some of the most effective stewards of the land and among those most directly harmed by habitat loss and degradation. Indeed, World Resources Institute has reported that indigenous and community lands store about 25 percent of the world's aboveground carbon.

We also need innovative technology to foster conservation. Today, paper-based systems and lax oversight create blind spots in supply chains so big that they're visible from space, literally. Satellites can monitor protected areas and distributed ledgers can move bills of lading into the cloud. Working together, these systems can enable any company or consumer to verify where and how their food, paper, clothing or other goods were produced.

Finally, the scientific community, NGOs, and businesses can develop science-based targets against which companies can measure how much greenhouse gas they've saved by conserving and restoring land and making it more resilient.

In 2015, national governments took a stand against climate change in Paris, but those commitments, if fully met, will only deliver one third of the emissions reductions needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. We need to do more.

This September, businesses, state and local leaders, NGOs and citizens around the world will have that opportunity. Together, we can spur national governments to accelerate their efforts by taking a stand to protect what we all stand on?—?earth.


A 2,500 Square-Mile Methane Plume Is Silently Hovering over Western US A monstrous cloud of accumulated methane--a potent greenhouse gas--is now hovering over a large portion of the western United States according to satellite imagery analyzed by NASA and reported by the Washington Post.


"An extraordinary new report by an elite Pentagon planning unit has delcared that climate change is a national security threat of the greatest urgency and demands an immediate response... Directly contradicting Bush and other right-wingers...

"A copy of the unclassified study was given to Fortune, which published a measured yet terrifying summary in its February 9 issue...

"One immediate effect may involve the World Bank, whose board of directors is expected to vote.. to stop all funding of coal and oil development.." (Mark Hertsgaard. "A New Ice Age?" The Nation, March 1, 2004, 8).


"...the choice of Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai as this year's Nobel Peace Prizewinner... stands as an implicit rebuke to the environmental backwardness of America's political and media classes...

"The Bush administration remains in denial about climate change even though its closest overseas ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, said in September that climate change is the single biggest long-term problem his nation faces. Blair's top scientific adviser, David King, has gone further, declaring that climate change is the biggest threat civilization has ever faced--bigger even than the global terrorism that dominates headlines and obsesses George W. Bush. King warned in July that there is now enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to melt all the ice on earth. which would put most of the world's biggest cities under water, starting with low-lying metropolises like New York, London and New Orleans...

Climate change is to the twenty-first century what the nuclear arms race was to the twentieth: the overriding threat to humanity's continued existence on this planet. And it is already killing people. In the summer of 2003, some 15,000 people died in France from an unprecedented heat wave. No single weather event can be definitively attributed to climate change, but such heat waves are exactly what scientists expect as warming intensifies. If climate change is not moderated, more will die in years to come--either directly, through declines in food production and the spread of infectious disease...

"... most US journalists still don't get it. At best, they see climate change as just one of many environmental issues. At worst, they are still fooled by industry propaganda casting doubt on the science behind claims of climate change...

"Now that Russia supports Kyoto, the United States and Australia are the only major industrial countries outside the protocol" (Mark Hertsgaard. "Climate, the Absent Issue." The Nation, Nov. 1, 2004: 3).


"Continued reliance on petroleum and other fossil fuels (coal, natural gas) for the majority of our energy supply--90 percent, in the case of the United States--will intensify the buildup of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, thus hastening the onset of relentless droughts, heat waves, sea-level surges and other cataclysmic climate changes" (Michael T. Klare. "Crude Awakening." The Nation, Nov. 8, 2004: 35-41).


Warming Hits Tipping Point

"Climate change alarm as Siberian permafrost melts for first time since ice age...

"A vast expanse of western Siberia is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warned last week.

"Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres--the size of France and Germany combined--has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

"The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere...

"Climate scientists reacted with alarm to the finding, and warned that predictions of future global temperatures would have to be revise upwards" (Ian Sample. "Warming hits 'tipping point'." Guardian Weekly, Aug. 25, 2005: 1).


"Big business is not to blame.... Corporations would act on global warming but are stalled by government in the name of the market...

"At a conference organized by the Building Research Establishment, I witnessed an extraordinary thing: companies demanding tougher regulations--and the government refusing to grant them...

"..the British government... Elliot Morley, the minister for climate change, proposed to do as little as he could get away with. The officials from the Department of Trade and Industry, to a collective groan from the men in suits, insisted that the measures some of the companies wanted would be "an unwarranted intervention in the market."

"It was unspeakably frustrating. The suits had come to unveil technologies of the kind that really could save the planet" (George Monbiot. "Big business is not to blame." Guardian Weekly, Sep. 30: 6).


"Large parts of the Amazon rainforest are at their driest in living memory, a direct consequence, scientists say, of the severe hurricane season that devastated the US Gulf coast...

"The unprecedented dry spell can be linked to the extreme weather that hit the southeastern US, according to meteorologists. "There is no rain here because the air is descending, which prevents the formation of cloudsd," said Ricardo Dellarosa, of the Amazon Protection Organisation (SIPAM). "The air is descending here because the air is rising very intensely in the north Atlantic creating storms and hurricanes. What goes up must come down" ("Hurricanes dry out rainforest." Guardian Weekly, Oct. 17, 2005: 9).


"Global warming in the Arctic could be soaring out of control, scientists warned last week as figures revealed that melting of sea ice in the region has accelerated to record levels.

"Experts at the US National Snow and Data Centre in Colorado fear the region is locked into a destructive cycle, with warmer air melting more ice, which in turn warms the air further. Satellite pictures show that the extent of Arctic sea ice last month dipped 20% below the long-term average for September, melting an extra 1.3m square kilometres. If current trend continue, the Arctic Ocean in summer will be ice-free well before the end of the century.

Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the Colorado centre, says melting sea ice accelerates warming because dark-coloured water absorbs heat from the sun that was previously reflected back into space by white ice. "We could see changes in Arctic ice happening much sooner than we thought," he said, "and that is important, because without the ice cover over the Arctic Ocean we have to expect big changes in Earth's weather" (David Adam. "Skating on thin ice up north." Guardian Weekly, Oct. 17, 2005: 21).


"This year's hurrican season seems certain to be the most severe on record. But the nay-sayers make two counterpoints. First, they say that much of the rise in temperature is due to natural cycles. The current upcycle may have 20 more years to run, but it will then subside. Second, although they concede that the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin has risen in the past 20 years, there has been no upward trend in the world as a whole, and so common global factors cannot be responsible.

"Why should we not believe them? Well on sea temperature, figures are already much higher than they were during the last upcycle, so there seems to be an underlying adverse long-term trend. On frequency, although the number of hurricanes has not risen on a global basis, new evidence has established that the intensity of an average storm has risen sharply in all regions.

"The odds that all regions would experience increased storm intensity without a common cause are about one in 1,000" (Gavyn Davies. "The answer is blowing in the wind, George." Guardian Weekly, Oct. 17, 2005: 21).


"Two degrees is the point beyond which most climate scientists predict catastrophe: several key ecosystems are likely to flip into runaway feedback; the biosphere becomes a net source of carbon; global food production is clobbered and 2 billion people face the risk of drought...

"Let us forget for the moment that nuclear power spreads radioactive pollution, presents a target for terrorists and leaves us with waste that no government wants to handle...

"The first "even if" is a big one. Private insurers will not cover the risk [of nuclear accidents]. Three international conventions limit investors' liability and oblige governments to pick up the bill. According to a report commissioned by the European parliament, the costs of a large-scale nuclear accident range from $100bn to $6.6 trillion. They would have to be met by taxpayers...

"He begins by examining the terms of reference used by people such as King, who compare nuclear power "only with a central power plant burning coal or natural gas"... None of them can compete with windpower... let alone with two far cheaper resources: cogeneration of heat and power, and efficient use of electricity".

"Ten cents of investment, Lovins shows, will buy either 1 kilowatt-hour of nuclear electricity, 1.2-1.7 of windpower, 2.2-6.5 of small-scale cogeneration or up to 10 of energy efficiency...

"Already the market is voting with its wallet. "In 2004 alone," Lovins notes, "Spain and Germany each added as much wind capacity--2bn watts--as nuclear power is adding worldwide in each year of this decade." Although the nuclear industry in the US has guzzled 33 times as much government money as wind and has "enjoyed a regulatory system of its own design for a quarter century", it hasn't fulfilled a single new order from the electricity companies since 1973" (George Monbiot. "Scientific spin doctor." Guardian Weekkly, Nov. 4, 2005: 5).


"But global warming foot-draggers have succeeded in the past largely because the public was confused about whether the problem really existed. That confusion was encouraged by the mainstream media, which in the name of journalistic "balance" gave equal treatment to global warming skeptics and proponents alike, even though the skeptics represented a tiny fringe of scientific opinion and often were funded by companies with a financial interest in discrediting global warming" (Mark Hertsgaard. "Global storm warning." The Nation, Oct. 17, 2005: 4-5).


"Several yellow jacket wasps were sighted in Arctic Bay, a community of 700 people on the northern tip of Baffin Island at more than 73 degrees North latitude, during the summer of 2004. Noire Ikalukjuaq, the mayor of Arctic Bay, said he knew no word in the Inuit language for the insect.

"In Kaktovik, Alaska, a village on the Arctic Ocean, a robin built a nest during the summer of 2003--not an unusual event in more temperate latitudes but quite a departure where, in the Inupiat language, no name exists for robins.

"During the summer of 2004, hunters found half a dozen polar bears that had drowned about 200 miles north of Barrow, on Alaska's northern coast. They had tried to swim for shore after the ice had receded 400 miles. A polar bear can swim 100 miles--but not 400.

"Global warming is leaving its evidentiary trail in melting ice as well as in the heating of the seas. The wrath of intensifying hurricanes and typhoons stoked by warming oceans has already devastated parts of the subtropics. The yellow jacket, the robin, the drowned polar bears, and the hurricane triplets--Katrina, Rita, and Wilma--are harbingers of an ominous future...

"Climate change in the Arctic is accelerating year by year. During the summer of 2004, compared to the previous year, enough Arctic ice to blanket an area twice the size of Texas melted...

"...Scientists now talk seriously of an ice-free Arctic in the summer. The main point of debate is how soon this will happen...

""The climate is changing much more quickly than scientists had projected only a few years ago," says Ross Gelbspan, author of The Heat Is On and Boiling Point. "We are seeing impacts--accelerating migrations of species, the thawing of the Siberian and Canadian tundra, the drying of the Amazon rainforest--that researchers did not expect to see until near the end of the twenty-first century. As a result, scientists are concerned about natural systems crossing invisible thresholds and taking on their own irreversible momentum"...

"By the end of this century, temperatures may reach a level that may melt solid methane in the oceans. During past periods of rapid warming, tens of millions of years ago, methane in gaseous form (called "clathrate") has been released from sea floors in intense eruptions, following an increase in temperatures of up to 8 degrees Celsius, which is within the range projected by many climate models for the end of this century. Scientists call these explosions the "clathrate gun" or "methane burp." Once such reactions begin, they feed themselves, dramatically accelerating the rate of warming in the atmosphere.

"Will humankind be able to dodge this bullet? If so, how? The short answer, according to many scientists, is to cut fossil fuel consumption by about 70 percent within the next fifteen to twenty years. That's what would be required to stabilize greenhouse-gas levels in the atmosphere before natural feedbacks begin to accelerate warming beyond control...

"In Denmark, for example, most families now own a share of a wind turbine. Some areas of Germany derive a substantial proportion of their energy from wind and solar power. In Spain, building codes have been amended to require use of passive solar power. Hansen and many other experts warn, though, that these changes are not sufficient and that the window of opportunity is narrowing with each passing day" (Bruce E. Johansen. "From Baffin Island to New Orleans." The Progressive, Dec. 2005: 18-21).


Climate scientists issue dire warning Global warming may be far worse than predicted, says report to UN experts

"Earth's temperature could rise to levels far higher than predicted under the impact of global warming, according to the UN's team of climate experts.

"A draft of the next influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report will say that scientists are unable to place a reliable upper limite on how quickly the atmosphere will warm as carbon dioxide levels increase...

"Such an outcome would have severre consequences, such as the collapse of the Greenland ice sheet and disruption of the Gulf Stream ocean current...

"Set up in 1988 by the UN, the IPCC brings together hundreds of experts to summarise the state of climate science for policymakers" (David Adam. "Climate scientists issue dire warning." Guardian Weekkly, Marc. 3, 2006: 9).


"Our gross national product ... if we should judge the United States of America by that – counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.?" – Robert F. Kennedy










Links

Climate Biz 101
Climate Change
ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES page of links
Global Climate Change Student Guide comprehensive work for geology, geography and environmental science students studying climate change
Global Issues That Affect Everyone poverty, globalization, arms control, the Middle East, the war on terror, human rights, women's rights, racism, genetic engineering, biodiversity, much more
Global Warming - State Impacts from the EPA
Global Warming - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) UN - see their major report "Climate Change 2001"
Global Warming and Bush "George W. Bush: The Un-Science Guy" by David Corn, AlterNet, 6-22-01
Global Warming: Early Warning Signs map of hot spots with popup notes
Global Warming - State Impacts from the EPA
Global Warming - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) UN - see their major report "Climate Change 2001"










Ecoterrorism

Two mass killings a world apart share a common theme: 'ecofascism'

Before the slaughter of dozens of people in Christchurch, New Zealand, and El Paso this year, the accused gunmen took pains to explain their fury, including their hatred of immigrants. The statements that authorities think the men posted online share another obsession: overpopulation and environmental degradation.

The alleged Christchurch shooter, who is charged with targeting Muslims and killing 51 people in March, declared himself an "eco-fascist" and railed about immigrants' birthrates. The statement linked to the El Paso shooter, who is charged with killing 22 people in a shopping area this month, bemoans water pollution, plastic waste and an American consumer culture that is "creating a massive burden for future generations.”

The two mass shootings appear to be extreme examples of ecofascism -- what Hampshire College professor emerita Betsy Hartmann calls "the greening of hate.”

Many white supremacists have latched onto environmental themes, drawing connections between the protection of nature and racial exclusion. These ideas have shown themselves to be particularly dangerous when adopted by unstable individuals prone to violence and convinced that they must take drastic actions to stave off catastrophe.

The alleged El Paso shooter's document is full of existential despair: "My whole life I have been preparing for a future that currently doesn't exist.”

In recent years, the mainstream environmental movement has moved strongly in the direction of social justice -- the opposite of what hate groups seek. Now, the leaders of those organizations fear white nationalists are using green messages to lure young people to embrace racist and nativist agendas.

Photo

Locals in Christchurch, New Zealand laid flowers and notes of support on March 16, in memory of the victims killed in the fatal shooting that left 50 dead. (Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

"Hate is always looking for an opportunity to grab hold of something,” said Mustafa Santiago Ali, a vice president of the National Wildlife Federation and an expert on environmental justice. "That's why they use this ecological language that's been around for a while, and they try to reframe it.”

Michelle Chan, vice president of programs for Friends of the Earth, said, "The key thing to understand here is that ecofascism is more an expression of white supremacy than it is an expression of environmentalism.”

This is all happening in a rhetorically and ideologically overheated era in which public discourse is becoming toxic, not only in the dark corners of the Internet but among those occupying the highest elective offices. Environmental activists want to create a sense of urgency about climate change, the loss of biodiversity and other insults to the natural world, but they don't want their messages to drive people into deranged ideologies.

There is a danger of "apocalypticism,” said Jon Christensen, an adjunct assistant professor at the University of California at Los Angeles who has written extensively on the use and misuse of dystopian environmental scenarios.

It's important, he said, to provide people with potential solutions and reasons to be hopeful: "There's definitely a danger of people taking dire measures when they feel there's no way out of it.”

Hartmann, who has tracked ecofascism for more than two decades, echoes that warning, saying environmentalists "need to steer away from this apocalyptic discourse because it too easily plays into the hands of apocalyptic white nationalism.”

The leaders of several major environmental organizations say that white supremacy is antithetical to their movement.

"What we saw in the El Paso manifesto is a myopic, hateful, deadly ideology that has no place in the environmental movement,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club.

Echoing that was Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists: "We need to speak out so that our members know that under no circumstances are we buying into this kind of philosophy.”

The alleged gunmen in El Paso and Christchurch did not emerge from the green movement. The documents attributed to them are primarily focused on race, cultural identity, immigration and the fear of a "great replacement" of whites by people of other races. The "eco" part of the equation is arguably an add-on.

But these people did not come up with their hateful ideologies in a vacuum. They have tapped into ideas about nature that are in broad circulation among white nationalists. Before the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, for example, white nationalist leader Richard Spencer published a manifesto that had a plank on protecting nature.

Ecofascism has deep roots. There is a strong element of it in the Nazi emphasis on "blood and soil,” and the fatherland, and the need for a living space purified of alien and undesirable elements.

Meanwhile, leaders of mainstream environmental groups are quick to acknowledge that their movement has an imperfect history when it comes to race, immigration and inclusiveness. Some early conservationists embraced the eugenics movement that saw "social Darwinism" as a way of improving the human race by limiting the birthrates of people considered inferior.

"There's this idea coming out of the eugenics movement that nature, purity, conservation were linked to purity of the race,” said Hartmann, the author of "The America Syndrome: Apocalypse, War and our Call to Greatness.”

Conservationists have a long history of wrestling with questions about immigration and population growth. Some of those on the environmental left have seen the explosion in the human population -- which is nearing 8 billion and has more than doubled in the past half-century -- as a primary driver of the environmental crisis. That argument has then been adopted by racists.

The alleged Christchurch shooter began his online screed by writing, "It's the birthrates. It's the birthrates. It's the birthrates,” and then warned of the "invasion" by immigrants who will "replace the White people who have failed to reproduce.”

The document thought to have been posted by the alleged El Paso shooter cites birthrates among the "invaders" trying to enter the United States and asserts, "If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.”

This line of thought is dismaying to Paul Ehrlich, 87, a professor emeritus at Stanford University whose 1968 bestseller, "The Population Bomb,” proved hugely influential.

"They often cite me, even though I've spent my life trying to fight racism,” Ehrlich said.

John Holdren, a Harvard professor who co-authored articles with Ehrlich and later served eight years as President Barack Obama's science adviser, said the environmental movement grappled decades ago with the perceived racist undertones of the emphasis on population growth.

"A lot of people felt they were getting burned by talking about population growth and its adverse impact,” Holdren said. As a result, he said, the movement's leaders began focusing on the education and empowerment of women, which has led to falling birthrates around the world as women take control of their reproductive lives.

A refrain among environmentalists is that if anti-immigrant groups are genuinely concerned about degradation of the natural world, they're targeting the wrong people. Climate change hasn't been driven by poor people struggling to get by. The activities of wealthy nations have been the main historical source of greenhouse gas emissions, the depletion of natural resources and the destruction of habitats.

Ali, the environmental justice expert, said he often hears people say population growth is the big problem today, and he shoots that down.

"My response to them is, 'Who are the people we need to limit? Who are the people making decisions about that?' . . . Until we have true equity and equality and a balance of power, then we know vulnerable communities are going to end up on the negative side of the ledger, whatever the tough choices are,” Ali said.










Trump

The climate crisis Trump ignores the most, Ishan Tharoor, 12-5-19

President Trump presents himself as a climate skeptic, but perhaps he doesn't even know what climate change is.

That's a possibility raised by my colleague Philip Bump this week after Trump, on a visit to Britain, responded to a question about climate change by emphasizing his concerns for "very, very crystal clear, clean water and clean air.” He also spoke about companies and countries elsewhere polluting the oceans.

It's possible that Trump doesn't actually know what climate change is, Philip Bump, 12-3-19

Scanning his record of remarks about climate change, Bump concluded that Trump "may not actually understand the mechanism that is warming the planet" and that he routinely conflates the concerns of environmentalism, writ large, with concerns over carbon emissions warming the planet. (Never mind, of course, that his administration has set about gutting environmental protections and regulations, as well.) "Trump's suggestion that clean air and clean water are 'a big part of climate change' is accurate only with a remarkably generous interpretation of his comments,” Bump noted.

Trump's obtuseness came the same day a new report confirmed that 2019 marked a record year in global greenhouse gas emissions. After a gradual decline, the United States' energy-related CO2 emissions rose 2.7 percent last year, a consequence of Trump's rollback of Obama-era climate regulations.

Global greenhouse gas emissions will hit yet another record high this year, experts project

In bleak report, U.N. says drastic action is only way to avoid worst effects of climate change

None of this is surprising for a president who turned his back on the landmark Paris climate accord and who will leave climate conspicuously off the agenda when he hosts the Group of Seven summit next year. The White House's rejection of collective climate action casts a huge shadow over the politicians, policymakers and scientists convening in Madrid this week and next for a U.N. conference on climate change. Some activists have branded Trump and other climate-skeptic, right-wing nationalists such as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro as enablers of "ecocide.” Other U.S. officials are still attempting to fill the breach: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is slated to lead a congressional delegation to the talks, though it will have no formal role in the proceedings.

"Congress's commitment to action on the climate crisis is iron-clad,” Pelosi said in a statement. "This is a matter of public health … of our children, of the survival of our economies, of the prosperity of the world, of national security, justice and equality. We now must deliver deeper cuts in emissions.”

The apocalyptic warnings are once more being sounded in Madrid. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres scolded the world's major economies for their "utterly inadequate" steps in reducing emissions and declared over the weekend that humanity faced a "point of no return,” a warning that echoed a recent U.N. report that called for dramatic and drastic action by governments. According to the report, global greenhouse gas emissions need to start falling by 7.6 percent each year starting next year -- a rate that's nowhere in sight, not least because of a lack of White House leadership on climate.

In the meantime, international organizations are calling attention to climate change's many victims. The humanitarian group Oxfam calculated that, on average, more than 20 million people were displaced by extreme weather events each year of the past decade. "Today, you are seven times more likely to be internally displaced by cyclones, floods and wildfires than by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, and three times more likely than by conflict,” Oxfam said in a report published this week.

The math for calculating the scale of a putative global climate refugee crisis is a bit fuzzy. Estimates forecast that the number of environmental migrants by 2050 could range from 140 million to as many as 1 billion people. In a recent Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) pointed to "hundreds of millions of climate refugees" in the "years to come.”

Whatever the case, it is already apparent that a changing climate is stoking more extreme weather patterns, which in turn are displacing or crippling countless vulnerable communities around the world. A study by Save the Children concluded that, in east and southern Africa this year, floods, landslides, drought and cyclones contributed "to at least 33 million people in the region -- or 10% of the population across ten countries -- being at emergency levels of food insecurity or worse.” That includes more than 16 million children.

Environmental and development groups are hoping to push wealthier countries to build a fund that can support poorer nations afflicted by climate disaster.

But, in an era of climate crisis, many communities may need wholesale resettlement. Drought and shifts in weather have fomented migration crises from Syria to Central America. Recognizing this, House Democrats put forward legislation that would create a federal program that would take in a minimum of 50,000 climate refugees every year in the United States. [Blocked, of course, by Moscow Mitch]

It's a bill that will never pass under Trump, who has reduced U.S. refugee resettlement to record-low levels and even thwarted temporary protected status for citizens of the Bahamas fleeing the ravages of Hurricane Dorian this year. Given the Trump administration's hostility to migrants and skepticism of climate change, there may be no more forlorn a plight than that of a climate refugee.

Protecting indigenous lands protects the environment. Trump and Bolsonaro threaten both.

Deb Haaland is an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo people and a Democrat representing New Mexico's 1st District in the House of Representatives. Joênia Wapichana is a member of the Wapichana indigenous people from the northern Brazilian Amazon and represents Roraima in Brazil's Chamber of Deputies.

On Tuesday, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro will meet with President Trump at the White House. Both administrations are pushing a host of policies that are detrimental to the rights of indigenous people. As two of the first female indigenous members of Congress in the United States and Brazil, respectively, we are concerned about these policies and the mounting threats facing our communities. We must stand up against toxic rhetoric and brutal attacks on the rights of indigenous peoples.

Indigenous communities from Standing Rock to the Amazon are leading the way on protecting our Earth. Recent research has found that indigenous peoples in control of their lands are the most effective stewards of climate-regulating tropical forests. In the United States, Standing Rock was a culmination of indigenous people organizing to protect their resources. More recently, indigenous groups in New Mexico helped prevent the lease sale of Chaco Canyon for oil and gas development, defending sacred lands and heritage from harmful extraction.

Yet indigenous environmental defenders face tremendous risks, encountering pushback and even criminalization for simply protecting critical family resources. We saw it in Standing Rock, when police had confrontations with peaceful protesters. We see it now in Brazil, which is the deadliest country for environmental defenders in the world, with intimidation and lethal violence falling heavily on indigenous peoples and land rights activists.

Among the many parallels between their administrations, Bolsonaro and Trump are both taking extreme action to strip the hard-earned rights of indigenous peoples to the benefit of extractive industries and commercial farming. These policies present threats to our communities, the integrity of ecosystems on our lands and the stability of our climate. Perhaps nowhere is this more concerning than in Raposa Serra do Sol and Bears Ears National Monument, our ancestral homes.

In Brazil, the Raposa Serra do Sol indigenous territory was formally recognized by presidential decree in 2005, and was upheld by Supreme Court rulings in 2009 and 2013. Though the recognition of the entirety of these traditional lands is critical to both the communities' development and vision for a sustainable and just future, they have been violently attacked by rice farmers, ranchers and miners throughout this period. These attacks have gone unpunished.

More recently, Bolsonaro has singled out Raposa Serra do Sol and threatened to review its boundaries to favor powerful special interests, particularly mining. His government has further threatened to open indigenous territories to mining, commercial agriculture and damaging infrastructure projects, even citing dubious claims of national security to forgo our right to consultation. Bolsonaro's dangerous rhetoric is already having direct impact on indigenous peoples, with invasions on indigenous lands spiking since he took power.

Similarly, Bears Ears National Monument is ground zero for the Trump administration's efforts to radically scale back protections on sacred lands. In December 2017, Trump unilaterally and perhaps even unconstitutionally reduced the monument's size. Recent reports show that his administration suspiciously met with officials from a company with mineral interests in Bears Ears before making the decision to review the monument's boundaries.

The House Natural Resources Committee is conducting oversight hearings to investigate the review process that led to the alteration of the monument's boundaries. Native tribes and local communities are vigorously challenging the administration's action. Part of the mission of public lands is to protect sacred sites and preserve them for future generations, but the current boundaries at Bears Ears could jeopardize those sites forever.

We are proud to be part of an international sisterhood of indigenous women who provide leadership on these issues, first as organizers and now as members of Congress. From our new perspectives as legislators, we are working to oppose rollbacks and propose policies to protect indigenous rights and the environment. In the United States, one of us (Haaland) has introduced the Bears Ears Expansion and Respect for Sovereignty (BEARS) Act to restore the original boundaries of Bears Ears and the America's Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspire, and Together Improve the Economies of States (ANTIQUITIES) Act to ensure no president can shrink the boundaries of our national monuments without talking to Congress first.

In Brazil, the other (Wapichana) has proposed amendments to restore the mandate of the Ministry of Justice to protect indigenous lands (in response to Bolsonaro's attempt to bestow this critical role to the Ministry of Agriculture) and is sponsoring a bill to strengthen the scope and enforcement of environmental law. This is especially critical given the disastrous collapse of a dam owned by the mining company Vale, in which at least 169 people were killed outside the town of Brumadinho.

The regressions undertaken by the Trump and Bolsonaro governments are overwhelming and underscore the need for solidarity between indigenous peoples and our allies in North and South America. We will continue to scrutinize the Bolsonaro and Trump administrations' attempts to undermine the sanctity of sacred lands and disregard the rights of affected communities. We will encourage our colleagues in Congress to examine how we can take action to stop the threats to indigenous peoples and climate-critical biospheres such as the Amazon rain forest. And we will support indigenous leaders and environmental defenders who face criminalization, threats and violence for their activism.

Either we fight for the human rights of our people or we stand to lose everything.

Bolsonaro, Trump and the nationalists ignoring climate disaster

The world wants to save the Amazon rainforest. Brazil's Bolsonaro says hands off.

A new report reinforces the short-sightedness of Trump's inaction on climate change, 8-8-19

More than 113 million people around the world suffered from acute hunger last year, according to a report issued this year by the Food Security Information Network. Spread across 53 countries, these people were so stressed by lack of food security that they required urgent assistance on one of the most fundamental needs human beings have.

The areas where this need was most urgent are ones in which poverty or other insecurity is common. Nearly 16 million people were in Yemen, for example -- a country gutted by war. The crisis spills across national boundaries: Millions of Syrians experienced a food crisis, but so did Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

These stresses are not confined to Africa and Asia. Here in the Western Hemisphere, several countries experienced similar stress, including the so-called northern triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras in Central America.

The scale of the crisis in those countries pales next to Yemen or Congo.

As a function of population, though? It's much more significant. The FSIN report looked at the "dry corridor" region of those countries, a tropical dry forest that runs up the western spine of Central America. It's been in drought for years, and, of the 10.1 million people included in the FSIN's analysis, 1.5 million experienced a crisis of food insecurity in 2018. An additional 2.6 million experienced food stress.

Between a third and a half of those assessed by the FSIN in the three countries were experiencing some level of food insecurity.

On Thursday, the United Nations released a lengthy new report assessing how climate change will affect the world's food supply over the long term.

"Observed climate change is already affecting food security through increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and greater frequency of some extreme events,” the report reads. Future shifts in the climate as a function of increased warming will exacerbate the problem. Food security isn't just a function of drought reducing crop production, it's also a function of expected shifts in the nutritional content of food and in food prices as some products become more scarce.

Shifts in production will lead to other economic changes, like a reduced ability to earn a living through agriculture. Stressors like military conflict or existing poverty will probably make these effects worse.

One Scottish professor quoted by the New York Times made clear one of the likely effects of these shifts in the availability of food and the ability to earn a living through farming.

"People's lives will be affected by a massive pressure for migration,” the University of Aberdeen's Pete Smith said. "People don't stay and die where they are. People migrate."

We highlighted the Central American countries above because this is exactly what we've seen in recent years. There are a number of causes spurring migration from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, including crime and economic instability. Climate-change-driven shifts in agricultural production, though, have already been cited as another spur for that movement.

"Food insecurity is a critical 'push' factor driving international migration,” the report reads, "along with conflict, income inequality, and population growth. The act of migration itself causes food insecurity, given the lack of income opportunities and adverse conditions compounded by conflict situations."

"Studies have demonstrated that Mexican migration and Central American migration fluctuate in response to climate variability,” it reads at a later point. "The food system is heavily dependent on maize and bean production and long-term climate change and variability significantly affect the productivity of these crops and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers."

That migration from Central America northward toward the United States has been one of the primary focal points of President Trump's time in the White House. He's spent a great deal of political energy addressing the increase in migrants at the border and trying to enact policies aimed at preventing ingress, like building a wall.

At the same time, his administration's approach to addressing climate change has been one of hostility. This week, a top climate scientist with the Department of Agriculture quit his job after administration officials tried to bury a report he'd authored linking increased atmospheric carbon dioxide to reduced nutritional value in rice. His is one of many similar stories that have emerged since January 2017, and his is not the only resignation related to an inability to share honest information about the changing world.

Trump's approach to immigration is not and has never been preventive. It is instead reactionary, with a focus on deterring those seeking to come to the U.S. and removing those who've arrived and entered illegally or sought asylum. His hostility to addressing climate change is long-standing and rooted in politics.

However simple it may be to draw a line from the changing climate to increased migration, it doesn't matter. Cracking down on migrants and deprioritizing climate change are central to Trump's politics. An administration that's hostile to nuanced reports on rice nutrition is not likely to be one that proactively decides that food insecurity is an urgent issue to address.










Causes

Cement production makes more CO2 than all the trucks in the world

Diet and Global Warming If one takes the threat of global warming seriously, the most powerful personal step you can take may well be choosing a vegetarian diet.










Migration

Vietnamese farmers are migrating en masse to escape climate change Friday July 20, 2018

At the Southern end of Vietnam lies the Mekong Delta. It's Vietnamese name, Cuu Long means "Nine Dragons,” referring to the nine rivers that come from six countries, and meet there, ending a journey of several thousand kilometres to the sea. The Mekong Delta is the most fertile area in Vietnam, and also the most fragile. It is the country's rice bowl, and it is now slowly sinking into the sea.

The Mekong Delta is one of Earth's most fertile areas for agriculture. The land is carpeted with lush green vegetation with rice paddies and fruit trees that feed a third of the nation and in addition, provides 60 percent of its shrimp and fish. Like all river deltas, the Mekong brings minerals from upstream and deposits them across the delta. The river delta provides tons of all the minerals and elements that a food crop needs to grow, it can grow more plants per acre than regular soil, which is limited in nutrients.

The Mekong Delta is the only place in the entire river basin where rice can be grown and harvested 7 times a year. But climate change and other human activity has begun to turn this oasis into a waste land. The delta is rapidly urbanizing and that is requiring more extraction of groundwater to provide for the needs of a burgeoning population. The water extraction projects have caused many local waterways to sink and dry up providing seawater an entry way into the delta poisoning the rich soil. Meanwhile, erosion and drought is affecting productivity while leaving homes and infrastructure to collapse.

Alex Chapman and Van Pham Dang Tri of The Conversation note that a 2015-2016 drought (the worst drought in a century) caused salt water to intrude 50 miles inland and destroyed at least 160,000ha of crops. The rice paddies are the first to go with hardy tropical fruits, including saltwater tolerant coconut close behind. The drought has caused shrimp and fish ponds to dry up. These changes in combination have caused a migration of 1.7 million people out of the delta in the past 10 years.










Responses

Reflective paint, free water, medical training: How Indian authorities slashed heat deaths 90%

Millions could die prematurely without 'unprecedented' action to clean air and water, a new U.N. report warns, 3-13-19, WP

The United Nations released its sixth Global Environment Outlook report on Wednesday. Its main message, delivered across 740 pages, is straightforward: Human action is degrading the Earth and its ecosystems, and conditions will worsen if people do not take "unprecedented action" to try to reverse the situation.

Those actions, according to the report, include reducing land degradation, limiting pollution, improving water management, and mitigating climate change. The report also calls for environmental considerations to be "mainstreamed" into all social and economic decisions -- so that the environment, in other words, is viewed not as its own issue, but central to all policymaking at all governmental levels. If drastic action is not taken, the report warns that, among other things, millions could die prematurely from air pollution and from deadly infectious diseases from water pollution by 2050.

5 "Lazy" Ways to Reverse Global Warming Four scientists step forward with four unique, albeit lazy, ideas to lower the Earth's rampant fever by at least 2° C to return the planet to a healthy equilibrium. I refer to them as "lazy" not because they are easy to execute, but rather because these ideas are the consequence of being lazy as a species in the past. Each idea comes with their own risks and challenges far greater than if we hadn't ignored the warning signs and switched to renewable power sources decades ago, but we are running out of options. If we don't act soon, Earth's rising temperatures and deadly climate changes will wash its surface clean of humanity. Taking a deep breath, scientist 1 steps up to the podium.

Map of Earth showing areas in red which would be underwater if sea levels rose by 6 meters. The fact that you can see any red at all from this scale is shocking.

1. Reflect More Sunlight into Space

much of the Earth's surface has been deforested, and urban land masses have grown exponentially in recent years. These darker man-made surfaces absorb more sunlight, converting it into infrared for CO2 to capture in the atmosphere. If we could coat these surfaces in lighter colored, more reflective materials, more visible light would be reflected into space unperturbed by the atmosphere, lowering the Earth's effective temperature.

Scientist 1 therefore deems the most "elegant" solution for this method is immense floating platforms with white surfaces sailing the oceans, perhaps picking up ocean trash along the way. Still, to build enough of these ocean reflectors would take an enormous amount of manufacturing power.

2. Construct an Orbital Mirror

Scientist 2 notes the substantial drop in air temperature experienced during a solar eclipse, and uses this principle to back their lazy method of combating global warming. Between the Sun and the Earth, there is a place where their gravitational pulls cancel out and allow for an object to remain balanced in space directly between them. This "Lagrangian point" is technically unstable, but with some sort of maneuvering propulsion system, a large reflective object could be placed between the Sun and the Earth in order to redirect incoming solar energy elsewhere. Lowering the Earth's effective temperature by 2° C with this method requires that we block about 2.7% of the Sun's cross sectional area with our orbital mirror.

At the distance of Earth-Sun L1, such a mirror would have to have a diameter 2 times that of the Earth's itself! This is obviously impractical. An alternative method would be a Halo ring of sorts, constructed around the Earth in a lower orbit which is always eclipsing a thin band of the planet. If built at an altitude of 200 km, this band would still have to be more than 3 km thick. Scientist 2 also notes that Master Chief would be disappointed in such a use of the Halo ring…

3. Introduce an Anti-Greenhouse Haze

Scientist 3 brings to light Saturn's largest moon, Titan, which is colder than it's supposed to be. After factoring in the moon's solar flux, atmospheric properties, and greenhouse effect, Titan still has a temperature 9° C below its expected equilibrium. This is due to the moon's anti-greenhouse effect, attributed to its unique atmospheric haze. Organic molecules in Titan's upper atmosphere not only block a notable fraction of visible light from reaching its surface, but also allow for infrared heat to be radiated away, causing its temperature to be lower than expected.

Scientist 3 proposes such a solution for our planet, blocking the same 2.7% of the Sun's light from before with an atmospheric haze, as opposed to an orbital megastructure. A metal dust, such as germanium, has a high reflectivity for visible light as well as a large transmittance in infrared wavelengths, allowing heat to escape the planet at a faster rate than it is let in.

To lower the Earth's temperature by 2° C, 3 trillion tonnes (3*10¹² kg) of germanium dust would have to be deposited into the upper atmosphere. Scientist 3 also notes that this dust would have to be replenished every few years, and that they don't know what health hazards such a dust would pose to humans.

Images of Titan always look fuzzy due to its atmospheric haze, which lowers the effective temperature of the large moon.

4. Plant Trees

By 2050, 50 billion tonnes of CO2 is added to the atmosphere each year by human activities. Scientist 4 simply poses that we plant enough trees to absorb this excess CO2 in sanctioned areas where no humans are allowed to forest. Furthermore, they pose that this area be expanded proportionally to the both the rates rising CO2 emissions as well as deforestation.

A full grown oak tree consumes ~1,500 kg of CO2 per year. To match rates of CO2 emissions, we would need to plant 34 billion oak trees (or trees of similar size); a land area requirement AGAIN proportional to that of Russia. And this is just to match CO2 emissions; to bring these levels down would require even more trees.

Alternatively, Scientist 4 suggests that it may be possible to build factories to sequester CO2 directly out of the atmosphere. However, it would take millions of these anti-CO2 factories to even make a dent in CO2 emissions, and they would require a source of power to operate. If they can't be operated by clean energy, Scientist 4 concludes that such machines would not be practical.

5. Just Wait

The politicians bicker and argue, but in the end they choose a 5th unspoken solution; to do nothing. They decide that all of the methods proposed are just too costly, risky, or unfeasible to carry out. Instead, they hope that a future generation will pick up the slack left to them by the previous generations of leaders to combat the effects of climate change.

For our species, this is the most dire solution of all. Rising temperatures and a worsening climate eventually befoul our species, forcing us to either become annihilated by our own planet's illness or move elsewhere in the galaxy to avoid our inevitable destruction.

Once the last human has left the planet however, CO2 emissions stop. Machines deteriorate and technologies erode to give way to whatever life has survived the onslaught of humanity. Over the course of hundreds of years, trees outgrow abandoned cities and animals thrive in the ghost towns of our past. In the end, the planet equalizes on its own.

An image from Pripyat, a Ukrainian city evacuated in 1986 due to the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. Humans still can't live there without the danger of radiation poisoning. Nature recovered rather quickly.

Conclusion

To combat the effects of global warming and climate change, we as a species need to act now. The easiest solution to global warming by far is right in front of our noses today; the switch from the firmly established nonrenewable energy market, to clean, reliable power sources.

WePower?—?a founding member of the Climate Chain CoalitionDuring the One Planet Summit on December 12, 2017 in Paris, France (the 2nd anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement), a multi-stakeholder group of 12 organizations, of which WePower is proud to be present, working on distributed ledger technology (DLT, i.e. blockchain) held a meeting to agree to collaborate and establish an open global initiative called the Climate Chain Coalition (CCC). As of May 2018, over 80 organizations have joined the CCC.


WePower's goal of using Blockchain to help with the financing of more renewable energy production, thus helping decarbonize the Smart Grid and inject more needed renewable energy into the Grid around the world is 100% in sync with the Climate Chain Coalition.

The Climate Chain Coalition (CCC) is an open global initiative to support collaboration among members and stakeholders to advance blockchain (distributed ledger technology) and related digital solutions (e.g. IoT, big data) to help mobilize climate finance and enhance MRV (measurement, reporting and verification) to scale climate actions for mitigation and adaptation.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and now the World Bank are sponsors of the CCC and will act as facilitators for the organization as it begins working on making Blockchain and DLT viable tools in the fight against climate change.

WePower's goal of using Blockchain to help with the financing of more renewable energy production, thus helping decarbonize the Smart Grid and inject more needed renewable energy into the Grid around the world is 100% in sync with the CCC. WePower is happy to be working with other like-minded organizations because it's only by working together can we truly have an impact on the future of energy production for the better!

The Climate Change Solution Under Our Noses By Manuel Pulgar Vidal, leader of WWF's global Climate and Energy Practice

Our planet's outermost surface is so important, it bears its name: earth. It's the foundation of forests, grasslands and other natural habitats and the medium that gives us food, medicine, clothes, fuel, and livelihoods. Unfortunately, our use and misuse of land accounts for a significant proportion of our total annual greenhouse gas emissions, yet it accounts for a paltry amount of climate funding. We cannot prevent the worst effects of climate change without improving the ways we use land.

Every minute, about 27 football pitches' worth of forests are lost. Their destruction?—?and that of grasslands, mangroves and other habitats?—?emits huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, where they heat the planet. At the same time, habitat loss diminishes the earth's capacity to pull those gases back into the ground.

Fortunately, there is a growing movement among farmers, executives, policymakers, financiers, consumers, voters, and more to fight climate change by conserving and restoring the earth and making it more resilient.

This September, thousands of these climate leaders are coming to San Francisco for the Global Climate Action Summit. The event will bring together governors, mayors, legislators, CEOs, investors, researchers, and more from around the world to demonstrate progress, set more ambitious and measurable goals, and encourage national governments to go further faster.

As part of the Summit, we are issuing the 30X30 Forests, Food and Land Challenge: calling on businesses, states, city and local governments, and global citizens to take action for better forest and habitat conservation, food production and consumption, and land use, working together across all sectors of the economy to deliver up to 30% of the climate solutions needed by 2030.

While many businesses and local leaders have committed to scale up their use of renewable energy or set energy-use targets in line with the Paris Agreement's temperature goals, fewer have factored land stewardship into their climate action plan.

As a result, we're challenging all businesses and local leaders to ensure that conserving and restoring lands?—?everything from eliminating deforestation in supply chains to reducing food waste?—?is factored into their strategies for addressing climate change.

Rainforests can seem an abstract concept to someone sitting in a city with no trees in sight, but even urbanites can take concrete actions right now to save land.

Indeed, food production drives deforestation, most often to raise livestock and produce animal feed. Yet about a third of the food we produce is never eaten, representing the waste of an estimated 14 million square kilometers of land.

Further, when food rots in landfills, it emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps 25 times more heat than carbon dioxide. Thus, by eating a balanced diet and wasting less food, anyone can alleviate pressure on land and reduce emissions directly.

Those closer to the land?—?farmers, ranchers, Indigenous Peoples, and local communities with support from financial institutions, governments, and businesses along the supply chain?—?can restore degraded lands while boosting their productivity, which alleviates the need to clear forests and other habitats for production.

Research funded by WWF in Latin America estimates that rehabilitating land that has already been cleared of natural habitats, used, and abandoned in Brazil's Cerrado savannah and Amazon rainforest can provide enough land to meet projected demand for beef and soy through 2040 without having to fell one more tree.

These stakeholders can also integrate practices on farms, ranches and commercial forests that reinvigorate soil. Soil is a habitat unto itself, replete with microbial fauna and flora that serve as its engine. The more life in the soil, the more fertile it is, and the more effectively it can pull greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and turn them into food, fiber, and fuel.

Shifting production practices takes a lot of time and money, however, and farmers are more likely to be poor and hungry than any other profession. That leaves it to governments, financial institutions, and large multinational commodity buyers to support the rehabilitation of land and the transition of practices.

Through innovative financing mechanisms, lenders, investors and large buyers can diffuse risk and foster investment in more sustainable practices. State and local governments should set and enforce habitat conservation laws and work with businesses to set a fair and level playing field for producers.

In addition, it's critical to engage Indigenous Peoples and local communities and protect their rights, as they are both some of the most effective stewards of the land and among those most directly harmed by habitat loss and degradation. Indeed, World Resources Institute has reported that indigenous and community lands store about 25 percent of the world's aboveground carbon.

We also need innovative technology to foster conservation. Today, paper-based systems and lax oversight create blind spots in supply chains so big that they're visible from space, literally. Satellites can monitor protected areas and distributed ledgers can move bills of lading into the cloud. Working together, these systems can enable any company or consumer to verify where and how their food, paper, clothing or other goods were produced.

Finally, the scientific community, NGOs, and businesses can develop science-based targets against which companies can measure how much greenhouse gas they've saved by conserving and restoring land and making it more resilient.

In 2015, national governments took a stand against climate change in Paris, but those commitments, if fully met, will only deliver one third of the emissions reductions needed to avoid catastrophic climate change. We need to do more.

This September, businesses, state and local leaders, NGOs and citizens around the world will have that opportunity. Together, we can spur national governments to accelerate their efforts by taking a stand to protect what we all stand on?—?earth.











Cost

Wildfires, hurricanes and other extreme weather cost the [USA] nation 247 lives, nearly $100 billion in damage during 2018, 2-6-19

The number of billion-dollar weather disasters in the United States has more than doubled in recent years, as devastating hurricanes and ferocious wildfires that experts suspect are fueled in part by climate change have ravaged swaths of the country, according to data released by the federal government Wednesday.

Since 1980, the United States has experienced 241 weather and climate disasters where the overall damage reached or exceeded $1 billion, when adjusted for inflation, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Between 1980 and 2013, according to NOAA, the nation averaged roughly half a dozen such disasters a year. Over the most recent five years, that number has jumped to more than 12.

A Japanese island quietly disappeared -- and no one noticed until now

WP November 3, 2018

Japan has a lot of uninhabited islands, about 158 of which the government named in 2014 to ensure that the water around them continues to belong to Japan.

But now, one of those islets has disappeared, Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported this week. And no one seemed to notice until now.

The Japanese Coast Guard is apparently planning to search for the islet, called Esanbehanakitakojima, about one-third of a mile away from Sarufutsu, a village on Hokkaido island.

It turns out the Japanese Coast Guard had last surveyed the islet in 1987, and it was known to be around 4½ feet above sea level.

But now it can't be seen from land at all.










The Elites and Climate Change

Study Finds More Than 100 Brands Promoting Climate Misinformation Through Ads on YouTube

How to Save the Planet and Ourselves, By Chris Hedges

November 18, 2019 "Information Clearing House"

If you read only one book this year, it should be Roger Hallam's "Common Sense for the 21st Century: Only Nonviolent Rebellion Can Now Stop Climate Breakdown and Social Collapse."

Hallam's lucid and concise book, which echoes Thomas Paine's "Common Sense," says what many of us now know to be true but do not say: If we do not replace the ruling elites soon we are finished as a species. It is a cogent, well-argued case for global rebellion - the only form of resistance that can save us from ecosystem collapse and human-induced genocide. It correctly analyzes the failure of environmentalist activists in groups such as 350.org to understand and confront global corporate power and thus make a meaningful impact as we barrel toward ecocide. "Common Sense for the 21st Century" is a survival manual for the human species.

"The corrupt system is going to kill us all unless we rise up," Hallam, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, bluntly warns.

The activism, protests, lobbying, petitions, appeals to the United Nations and misguided trust in "liberal" politicians such as Barack Obama and Al Gore, along with the work of countless NGOs, have been accompanied by a 60% rise in global carbon dioxide emissions since 1990. The United Nations estimates this will be augmented by a 40% rise in CO2 emissions in the next 10 years. Hallam, who has long been a part of the environmental movement, says of his past activism: "I was wasting my time."

We must reduce carbon emissions by 40% in the next 12 years to have a 50% chance of avoiding catastrophe, according to a report last year by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But the ruling elites, as expected, ignored the warning or mouthed empty platitudes. CO2 emissions increased by 1.6% in 2017 and by 2.7% in 2018. Carbon dioxide levels went up by 3.5 parts per million (ppm) last year, reaching 415 ppm. We are only a decade away, Hallam warns, from 450 ppm, the level equivalent to a 2-degree Celsius average temperature rise.

"Let's be frank about what 'catastrophe' actually means in this context," Hallam writes. "We are looking here at the slow and agonizing suffering and death of billions of people. A moral analysis might go like this: one recent scientific opinion stated that at 5°C above the pre-industrial mean temperature, we are looking at an ecological system capable of sustaining just one billion people. That means 6-7 billion people will have died within the next generation or two. Even if this figure is wrong by 90%, that means 600 million people face starvation and death in the next 40 years. This is 12 times worse than the death toll (civilians and soldiers) of World War Two and many times the death toll of every genocide known to history. It is 12 times worse than the horror of Nazism and Fascism in the 20th century. This is what our genocidal governments around the world are willingly allowing to happen. The word 'genocide' might seem out of context here. The word is often associated with ethnic cleansing or major atrocities like the Holocaust. However, the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition reads 'the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.'"

"It is time to grow up and see the world as it is," Hallam writes. "There are some things which are undeniably real, there are some things we cannot change, and one of those is the laws of physics. Ice melts when the temperature rises. Crops die in a drought. Trees burn in forest fires. Because these things are real, we can also be certain about what the future holds. We are now heading into a period of extreme ecological collapse. Whether or not this leads to the extinction of the human species largely depends upon whether revolutionary changes happen within our societies in the next decade. This is not a matter of ideology, but of simple math and physics." Hallam points out that most predictions by climate scientists have turned out to be wildly over-optimistic. "...Recent science shows permafrost melting 90 years earlier than forecast and Himalayan glaciers melting twice as fast as expected," he writes. "Feedbacks and locked-in heating will take us over 2°C even before we factor in additional temperature rises from human-caused emissions over the next ten years."

"In short, we are fucked--the only question is by how much and how soon?" Hallam continues, "Do we accept this fate? I suggest we do not. Many self-respecting people who can overcome the human failing to disbelieve what they don't like, now accept what is obvious looking at the natural science. But they have yet to work through the political and social implications."

Hallam understands that even with reformists in power--and the political mutations caused by neoliberalism have not favored the rise of reformers but instead right-wing demagogues including Donald Trump and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro who accelerate the ecocide--any change will be too incremental and too slow to save us from catastrophe.

Extinction Rebellion has the stated aim of bringing down the ruling elites. It organized last month's coordinated series of demonstrations in 60 cities around the globe. Some 1,832 people were arrested in London alone. Additionally, more than 1,000 people were arrested during 11 days of civil disobedience in the streets of London in April. You can see interviews I did with Hallam here, here and here.

video On Contact: Climate Emergency with Roger Hallam, Extinction Rebellion

video On Contact: Civil Disobedience to Stop Ecocide

video On Contact: Extinction Rebellion

"This is not a matter of one's political party preferences," Hallam writes. "It is a matter of basic structural sociology. Institutions, like animal species, have limits to how fast they can change. To get rapid change they have to be replaced with new social systems of policy, practice and culture. It is a terrible and painful realization, but it is time to accept our reality."

It is only by bringing tens of thousands of people onto the streets to disrupt and paralyze the functioning of the state and finance capitalism--in short, a rebellion--that we can save ourselves, he writes. He grasps the fact that the protests must be nonviolent and must focus on governments.

"After one or two weeks following this plan, historical records show that a regime is highly likely to collapse or is forced to enact major structural change," he writes. "This is due to well-established dynamics of nonviolent political struggle. The authorities are presented with an impossible dilemma. On the one hand they can allow the daily occupation of city streets to continue. This will only encourage greater participation and undermine their authority. On the other hand, if they opt to repress the protestors, they risk a backfiring effect. This is where more people come onto the street in response to the sacrifices of those the authorities have taken off the street. In situations of intense political drama people forget their fear and decide to stand by those who are sacrificing themselves for the common good."

"The only way out is for negotiations to happen," he writes. "Only then will a structural opportunity open up for the emergency transformation of the economy that we need. Of course, this proposal is not certain to work but is substantially possible. What is certain, however, is that reformist campaigning and lobbying will totally fail as it has for decades. The structural change we now objectively need has to happen too fast for any conventional strategy."

No rebellion succeeds, Hallam understands, unless it appeals to a segment within the ruling elite. Once there are divisions in the ruling class, paralysis ensues and ultimately larger and larger fragments of the elite defect to those who are rebelling or refuse to defend a discredited ruling class.

"Mass action cannot just be nonviolent in a physical sense but must also involve active respect towards the public and the opposition, regardless of their repressive responses," Hallam notes.

He writes specifically of the police:

A proactive approach to the police is an effective way of enabling mass civil disobedience in the present context. This means meeting police as soon as they arrive on the scene and saying two things clearly: "This is a nonviolent peaceful action" and "We respect that you have to do your job here”. We have repeated evidence that this calms down police officers thus opening the way to subsequent civil interactions.

The Extinction Rebellion actions have consistently treated the police in a polite way when we are arrested and at the police stations, engaging in small talk and quite often in political discussions and other topics where activists might have affinity (inequality, unfair pay). If police initially stonewall activists, they can become more open by a willingness to engage with and listen to them.

This engagement can start before an action. Often a face-to-face meeting with police is effective as they are able to understand that the people they are dealing with are reasonable and communicative.

Rebellion will also require repeatedly breaking the law. This will mean time spent in jails and prisons.

"It would be beneficial to the Rebellion for people to be in prison before the major civil resistance event to create national publicity," writes Hallam, who was jailed for six weeks this fall in London. "The best way of potentially doing this is for people to do repeated acts of peaceful civil disobedience and then read out statements as soon as they enter court, ignoring the judge and court staff. In a loud voice they might say 'I am duty bound to inform this court that in bringing me here it is complicit in the "greatest crime of all" namely, the destruction of our planet and children due to the corrupt inaction of the governing regime whose will you have chosen to administer. I will not abide by this court's rules and will now proceed to explain the existential threat facing all life, our families, communities and nation ...' and then start a long speech on the ecological crisis.

"This will likely result in the arrestee being in contempt of court and placed in remand or given a prison sentence. It will be a dilemma for the authorities (depending on the regime) as to how long the remand or sentence would be. If the period of imprisonment is short, then people will be out soon and can continue peaceful civil disobedience. If the sentence is long, it will create a national media drama which will feed into overall rebellion.”

Popular assemblies have to be formed to take power and oversee a dramatic and swift reduction in CO2 emissions.

The science is unequivocal. The temperature increase must be stabilized at between 1 degree C and 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, and CO2 levels must be stabilized at about 350 ppm. We have to find ways to largely eliminate human-created greenhouse gas emissions of all types within a decade, two at the most, and put in place programs to cool the earth, including planting trillions of trees to absorb CO2. One of the easiest and most significant ways an individual can directly reduce his or her environmental impact on the planet is to eat a diet free of animal products. The animal agriculture industry rivals the fossil fuel industry as one of the largest, multi-factorial causes of climate catastrophe.

The danger, Hallam points out, is that if we do not act soon we will trigger runaway climate feedbacks or tipping points at which no effort to curb emissions will succeed. Fossil fuels must be swiftly eliminated from the economy, including through a ban on all new investments in fossil fuel exploration and development. Coal-fired and gas-fired power stations must be shut down within a decade. This process will require a massive reduction in energy use that may have to include rationing.

Hallam is acutely aware that we may fail. It may be too late already, he admits. But not to resist is to be complicit in this act of genocide. Hallam understands global corporate power. He knows how to fight it. The rest is up to us.

Chris Hedges, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. https://www.truthdig.com/author/chris_hedges/










Recycling

The State of Recycling

It's been about two years since many East Asian countries began to stop accepting tons of plastic trash shipped to them from America and other places across the globe. In the aftermath, our weak recycling system has struggled to keep up.

What are the problems with our recycling system?

Here in America, our long reliance on international markets for our waste has left our domestic demand for recycled material low. Part of the problem is that we keep producing more and more plastic, but our manufacturers won't use recycled content.

Meanwhile, recycling at the curb has only gotten harder. Now that exporting trash is more difficult, municipalities nationwide are ending or cutting back their recycling programs.

Finally, most of the stuff we throw away simply isn't designed with the end of its useful life in mind. Producers aren't held responsible for how their products will be disposed of -- leaving us with a lot of non-recyclable packaging on our hands.

What are the consequences?

When we don't recycle our stuff, it still has to be disposed of, and the materials for new products still need to be sourced somewhere. So here's what happens:

Tons of trash ends up in landfills. Landfills are the most common way we dispose of waste -- which is bad news because these facilities release greenhouse gases and can leak toxic fluid into groundwater.

More trash is being incinerated than ever. Incineration is on the rise as recycling gets harder. Burning waste this way has grave public health effects, as carcinogenic or neurotoxic emissions are released.

We use more raw materials. When the stuff we've used once is landfilled or incinerated, we end up needing to produce more "virgin" plastic. That means we need to extract and transport more natural gas -- a process that causes its own climate and health problems.










Australia

Smoke chokes Australia and raises fears for the future, 1-12-20

Jenny Edwards didn't want to go back home to Canberra, the Australian capital. She added seven days to a five-day family vacation "specifically to stay out of the smoke.” But it didn't matter.

Within a day of returning, her eyes were irritated, her chest felt tight, her head hurt and a small but persistent cough couldn't clear a tickle in her throat. Three massive fires were still burning about 60 miles away, and even though the heaviest smoke had momentarily lifted, the misery of living in a brownish haze remained. Air quality in Canberra on New Year's Day was among the worst of any major city in the world.

Australia's bush fires have blanketed parts of the continent with pollution, affecting hundreds of thousands of people who are not in immediate danger from the flames. Government agencies and medical officials say distress calls, ambulance runs and hospital emergency room visits have surged. Even some federal departments in the capital had to temporarily shutter offices and tell nonessential staff to stay away.

Stores have seen an overwhelming demand for smoke filtration masks, and in recent days government officials have begun rationing them to particularly vulnerable people, including pregnant women, the elderly and those with chronic heart and lung conditions. On Facebook, residents have posted pictures of doors and windows sealed with thick tape in an effort to keep smoke out their houses. And 7News Sydney posted a "Ciggie Index" -- the equivalent number of cigarettes each resident consumes daily from inhaling smoke. In east Sydney, it's 19.

A key question lingers as the fires that began last year continue to burn, in some cases merging into megafires: What are the long-term health implications of so many people exposed to thick smoke for so long?

Wildfire smoke that lingers for weeks doesn't just get into people's eyes and the pores of their skin, researchers say. It enters their minds, settles in their thoughts and affects their mental health. That was a finding from studies following the deadly Black Saturday fires in Victoria in 2009, when both firefighters and residents suffered from post-traumatic stress.

"I'm predicting that the effect is going to be far greater than before because the fires have been burning for such a long time,” said Mirella Di Benedetto, a researcher and clinical psychologist at RMIT University in Melbourne. The 2009 fires were isolated to Victoria, but the current fires are burning nationwide, near Australia's largest cities. "Even where there are no fires, smoke is moving down to these areas,” Di Benedetto said. "The air quality is really bad in Sydney. I think the mental health and physical health impact will be huge in the months to come.”

Little research exists about the long-term consequences of exposure to wildfire smoke, but Kari Nadeau and Mary Prunicki, scientists at Stanford University, are working to change that.

They're closely following hundreds of people affected by devastating wildfires in California, taking blood samples and asking them about everything from their use of air filters to their psychological responses to the experience. Earlier research has linked air pollution from wildfires to a range of acute conditions, including asthma, heart ailments and strokes, but Nadeau and Prunicki hope to solve a deeper mystery.

"Are there irreversible consequences over time?” said Nadeau, director of Stanford's Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research.

The work is urgent, Prunicki said, not only because existing research is limited, but also because the rapidly warming climate is likely to make the unprecedented fires in Australia only more common there and elsewhere around the globe.

"They are not going to go away,” she said.

In Australia, the smoke is affecting cities in unexpected ways. At one of Canberra's public hospitals, workers kept the hospital's exterior doors shut to keep smoke from clouding the hallways and patient rooms, said David Caldicott, an emergency room physician.

Some nurses wore breathing masks, and the smoke temporarily incapacitated some local MRI machines, he said. At his own house, the smoke detector kept blaring one day until Caldicott finally muffled it with a towel at 3 a.m.

In an arid country where residents are accustomed to a wildfire season, he said, the past weeks have been unlike any he has experienced. "It's sort of like medicine meets 'Mad Max,'” Caldicott said, referring to the vintage Australian action movie about a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future.

In the state of New South Wales, home to Sydney, health officials said emergency room visits for asthma and breathing problems increased more than 34 percent in the period from Dec. 30 and Jan. 5 compared to a year earlier. Ambulance calls for respiratory issues were also higher, about 2,500 compared to the five-year average of about 1,900. Similarly, hospital admissions increased to more than 430, surpassing the five-year average of 361.

Four of Australia's five largest population centers are experiencing the effects of the fires. At least 25 people have died, nearly 2,000 homes have been destroyed and more than 14 million acres have burned. So much smoke has been produced, there's evidence that some is circumnavigating the planet and has reached South America, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Bush fires are a known trigger for asthma attacks, said Bruce Thompson, dean of the School of Health Sciences at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. "This is a very significant health concern. Here in Australia, we're making sure people are moving themselves from the outdoors as best they can,” Thompson said.

Inside bush-fire smoke, water vapor intermingles with tiny particles measured in micrometers. It also contains gases such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide. Wood dust from exploded trees and chemicals from melted tires and scorched steel also hitch a ride.

Particles as large as 5 micrometers "stick in your nose; you wake up with a runny nose and itchy eyes,” Thompson said. Particles as small as 2.5 micrometers -- known by researchers as PM 2.5 -- are scarier, he said. "They can get to the very edges of the lungs,” Thompson said. "We had a coal mine fire a few years ago and it's been demonstrated that four years after, children close to the plume had worse lung function. So this is bad.”

Smaller particles in smoke can hinder cardiac function in adults. Thompson said the developing lungs of children can be permanently damaged in varying degrees.

"The lung becomes inflamed, and you cough as the lung tries to adjust,” Thompson said. "The lung is bad at repairing itself. It tries to get rid of particles by making you cough, but it produces scar tissue, and you don't want that in the lung because it changes the efficiency of the lung.”

Fay Johnston, an environmental health professor at the University of Tasmania's Menzies Institute for Medical Research, said most people exposed to the smoke won't be harmed -- as long as the fires end soon.

"If the smoke goes away, a healthy person can withstand it,” said Johnston, who specializes in the health effects of bush-fire smoke. "Healthy people will come through it without any long-term harm.”

But relief from the yearly rainy season isn't expected until February. Like other researchers, Johnston worries about what will happen if the fires continue, particularly for old and young asthma sufferers. "What's the long-term legacy of it?” she said. "We really don't know.”

Few studies have delved into the consequences of long-term exposure to bush fires. Johnston and other researchers conducted the study Thompson referenced, on health impacts on children and mothers in the wake of a 2014 fire at a Victoria coal mine that burned for more than a month, blanketing the nearby town of Morwell with smoke.

Young children exposed to the smoke were more likely to get an antibiotic prescription in the year after the fire, and pregnant women were more likely to develop gestational diabetes, Johnston said.

Bin Jalaludin, a professor at the University of New South Wales and chief investigator at the Centre for Air Pollution, Energy and Health Research, said government officials and academics in Australia already have been brainstorming ways to study the long-term health implications of the "truly unprecedented" fires.

"What we want to look at is things like ER visits, deaths, hospitalizations, ambulance call-outs for respiratory problems, birth outcomes -- do women who are pregnant and exposed to high levels of smoke, does it have an impact on the newborn?” he said. "It will take time, although we are trying to expedite it and get some of this work done quickly.”

Meanwhile, south of Sydney in Bowral, Peggy Stone said she's fighting off feelings of depression. "We haven't seen the sun for weeks,” she said. The sky is sometimes fiery orange, sometimes smoky gray. The day she spoke, she said, "The sun is trying to penetrate the smoke. Occasionally it might try to get through and we get a little ray.”

Farther south in Canberra, Jenny Edwards, who has asthma, made an appointment to see a doctor.

"I'm quite worried about the next couple of months,” Edwards said. "Air quality is so hard to predict with so many large fires in our region and the possibility of new ones starting.”

She's thinking of leaving Canberra -- again. But she knows that option is also risky because it's hard to escape the reach of the fires.

"I am considering returning to stay with my mother-in-law near Lake Macquarie,” she said. "Mind you, there are big fires inland from there, and while staying there last week we had three small fires break out within 10 kilometers of us.”

COMMENTS:

Bob Hanson: Interesting- the more capitalistic a nation is, Australia and the USA for example, the more the fossil fuel industry owns the politicians and thereby controls its global climate policies. Australia seems particularly susceptible to out-of-control fires. Imagine where this trend will lead in fifty years. It's not pretty.

Thirdplanetfromthesun: It seems like governments are living in the PAST and not really being proactive in terms of actually dealing not only with what is going on right now but what will happen as the trend that is obviously in play continues.

GreenEggsAndHam9: Johnston's comment "Healthy people will come through it without any long-term harm.” is wishful thinking; there doesn't seem to be any factual evidence at this point to support it. I'm sure he means well, but giving people false information is not helpful when peoples' health is at stake.

StarLawrence: By all means study this ready-made smoke phenomenon in Australia--it's shutting down MRIs and setting off smoke detectors in people's houses? Then it sure can't be helping people, either. If our ridiculous politicians won't act to start the good air trend in the other direction, we may end up under domes in our major cities...

When we had our fires in Arizona, Phoenix air quality was affected--I remember feeling drained

myself3: The whole Rupert Murdoch/Jack Dorsey/Mark Zuckerberg apparatus has teamed up with the usual Russian and Saudi and Israeli trolls (the trolling comes invariably from countries where dirty fuels prop up a hell of a lot of billionaires) to belch out great reeking lies about how these catastrophic fires are the consequence of conspiracies by leftists and people of color, there is no such thing as climate change, hahaha, who cares about a bunch of dead animals, there has always been fire, it's the left's fault, the end.

Murdoch's press apparatus is far more influential in Australia than it is here in terms of raw numbers----Murdoch and Murdochean news outlets have consumed the continent like a deadly virus, now constituting roughly 70% of the press in Oz, and the lies are corrosive, constant, and impactful. Here, Murdoch only has about 2.5 million viewers, although since one of them is the demented old goon at Mar A Lago, ol' Rupe makes up in influence what he lacks in numbers.

Anyhow, when you've got not only News Corp but Team Zuckerberg and Team Twitter gleefully fanning out these kinds of toxic lies, while the so-called "legitimate press" sits back, oddly silent, because---as it turns out----the so-called legitimate press is owned by multi-billion-dollar corporations with massive investments in dirty fuels, so why would they report on any of this? you begin to realize that unless there's some great change, or the hand of God, or a bloomin' miracle, the world is very unlikely to solve this heartbreaking and lethal problem.

CarpeVeritatem: Trump and Morrison are both part of a massive Quid Pro Coal.

Australia's fires intensify as prime minister calls up army reservists to help contain the crisis

SANCTUARY POINT, Australia -- As southeast Australia burned Saturday, the word carried on the wind was "unprecedented." The continent has seen massive wildfire outbreaks before, but this one has been different. There are so many fires in so many places -- about 200 at last count -- and many are in novel terrain, including rainforests and the suburbs of Sydney.










Plastics

New bans in China are the latest step in a global 'war on plastic'

China is set to join a growing number of countries cracking down on single-use plastic items, with multiple bans expected to come into force gradually over the next six years.

The new policy, announced Sunday, is slated first to take effect in major cities, where many of the non-biodegradable plastics found in the world's oceans originate. Microplastics threaten the health of fish and other marine animals, through which the harmful materials enter the human food chain.

In large Chinese cities, the distribution of plastic bags is set to cease by the end of the year, whereas smaller cities and rural areas have until 2022. Some exceptions will allow the use of reusable, thicker bags or other plastic bags through 2025.

Among other items set to be phased out over the next few years are many utensils distributed by food delivery companies and restaurants, including single-use straws.

The Chinese effort, if fully implemented, could be among the most significant developments so far in what analysts and advocacy groups describe as a global "war on plastic.” Between 1950 and 2015, the global production of polymer resin and fiber -- generally referred to as plastic -- rose from 2 million to 381 million metric tons annually. Most recently, new economic superpowers, including China, have accounted for the largest year-on-year increases, even though Western countries are still responsible for some of the highest per capita production rates.


Email comments to Professor Colby Glass, PhDc, MLIS, MAc at co@dadbyrn.com