Archive | Environment

World Gone Wrong: an Environmental Diary of 2019

by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

Northern Harrier, Columbia marshlands. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

January, 2019

+ Ryan Zinke, under investigation for trying to enrich himself in office, refused to step down from his post at the Interior Department until he could have a Christmas party with lobbyists and take pictures in front of a stuffed polar bear…

+ Zinke’s greed was largely personal. His likely replacement David Bernahrdt, a former lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry, will dutifully feed the greed of the shareholders of big oil and coal.

+ The Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump administrations all did a lot to advance the interests of Big Coal and almost nothing to fight black lung disease.

+ There are fewer North Atlantic Right Whales left in the world than sitting members of Congress. They may well go extinct in our lifetimes.

+ According to a new study by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, climate change has made the Western megadrought (the worst in at least 500 years) 38 percent more severe, leading to record low flows in Colorado River and dwindling reservoirs behind Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams. Is this what they mean when they say “it’s a dry heat?”

+ Clichés we may have to rewrite: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink…” “You can lead a horse to water, but he’ll be dead before you find any…”

+ The Arctic is now warming so quickly that 14,000 tons of melted iceis gushing into the oceans every second.

+ The Alaska statewide running temperate for the last year is the highest in the last 100 years (ie., since records have been kept.)

+ “He’s a vampire, babe, sucking blood from the Earth, sell you twenty barrels worth….”

+ Since this new study on climatcide denialism was undertaken by students from Brown, perhaps they could release a music video version as well? It would get a lot of airplay on FoxNews

+ Blood on the Tracks: Last week a female wolf, weighing only 70 pounds, was shot by a “hunter” on the plains of northeastern Montana (nearly 300 miles from the Rocky Mountains), where wolves haven’t been seen in many years.

+ After three years of decline, carbon emissions in the US rose by 3.4 percent in 2018.

+ After two weeks of mayhem, with off-roaders chopping down rare Joshua Trees, palms and yuccas, the Park Service finally closed Joshua Tree National Park to public entry. They should close them all. And use the government shutdown to Rest the West by ending logging on the National Forests and getting the damn cows and oil derricks off of BLM lands.

+ Rest easy, this threat from south of the border is NOT a National Emergency….”Antarctic Sea Ice is Astonishingly Low This Melt Season.”

+ Meet the Owl Man of Umatilla, who is reclaiming a chemical weapons depot one burrow at a time

+ Trump says he’d make a great general. It’s hard to disagree. He continues to win the “War on Coal”–down 38% in the last decade.

+ The government isn’t the only thing shutting down. So is the planet…Ecologist Scott Lister has found that over the last 35 years 98% of ground insect species in Puerto Rico have been extirpated.

+ LA photographer Peter Bennett, who manages the Los Angeles River blog, took a series of photos comparing the Los Angeles River before and after it’s channel was paved. Bennett writes:

The idea was to get as close to the original spot the older photos were taken, and try to match up the lens and framing with the original… There was a sense of time travel as I viewed the landscape as it is today and… as it was back in the ’30s. The visual contrast was quite striking, and the changes apparent in the 75 years or so since the photos were taken was at times quite dramatic.

“Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

+ On the climate front, Trump is doing his part to reduce Nancy Pelosi’s carbon footprint by canceling her “fact-finding” trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan…

+ The Rio Grande is shriveling. It’s not a drought. It’s the future…

+ A new report from Harvard’s Center for Climate, Health and the Global Environment argues that Trump’s replacement for Obama’s climate is “worse than doing nothing.” Of course, “doing nothing” was the Obama Climate Plan.

+ Top 5 warmest annual global temperatures since at least 1891, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency:

1. 2016
2. 2015
3. 2017
4. 2018
5. 2014

+ What will they call “permafrost” when it’s no longer permanent?

+ Calculate the carbon footprint of your diet, assuming you’re on a diet.

+ How do you define sextupled?

Antarctic ice loss in 1979: 40 billion tons per year.
Antarctic ice loss in 2017: 252 billion tons per year.

+ Current body count in the War on Coal: More coal plants have closed in Trump’s first two years than in Obama’s entire first term.

+ The state of Idaho just put out a $200,000 bounty on the state’s wolves. It’s time to put the wolf killers on permanent furlough.

+ Barbara Ehrenreich: “If I had a gun and knew how to use it, my first target would be the fiends who’ve been destroying Joshua Trees in the eponymous park. The rest of you bastards can wait.”

+ Australia is sweltering under some of its hottest days ever recorded. The death count is rising, especially among bats. During a November blast of heat, flying fox bats started falling from the trees. In just two days, more than a third of the nation’s flying fox bat population perished. Mass die offs can happen fast.

January 25, 2019

+ Climate of No Return?

+ When Seattle closed down the Alaska Way Viaduct (Highway 99), many predicted the city would be paralyzed by traffic. Instead, 99,000 car trips a day simply vanished. Rip up the highways and people will find softer ways to travel or just stay home…

+ A new study from ecologists at the University of Wisconsin predicts that Yellowstone’s forests may be replaced almost entirely by grasslands within the next 30 years. Among other dire consequences for the ecosystem, this climate-driven transition will mean the extinction of the Yellowstone grizzly, which depends on white bark pine seeds as an essential source of protein.

+ A record number of private jets landed in Davos this week to attend the Climate Summit. Why? Because their carbon don’t stink…

+ If Trump succeeds in shutting down airports coast-to-coast, even for only a few days, he’ll have done more to combat Catastrophic Climate Change than all other presidents combined.

+ The Himalayan glaciers are in rapid retreat. They are the principle water source for more than a billion people and three nations armed with nuclear weapons.

+ Lake Foul became a “dead pool” the moment they closed the floodgates at Glen Canyon Dam…

February 2019

+ A new study in Nature assess the impact of major federal and state subsidies on US crude oil producers. The study find that, at recent oil prices of $50 per barrel, tax preferences and other subsidies push nearly half of new, yet-to-be-developed oil investments into profitability, potentially increasing US oil production by 17 billion barrels over the next few decades. This oil is the equivalent  6 billion tons of CO2 and could make up as much as 20% of US oil production through 2050.

+ MSDNC commentator Hugh Hewitt on AOC and the Green New Deal…

“It is despotic. That’s it. It is not socialism, it is communism, it is fascism, it is despotism. It drains all freedom out of America and if we had a media class that understood a lick about history, they would know this…Those who are immodest about their ability to shape humans end up murdering millions of them.”

+ The BLM announced that it will begin auctioning oil leases on the outskirts of the Sistine Chapel of the American Southwest, Chaco Canyon. Let me repeat: the BLM wants to drill for oil adjacent to CHACO CANYON.

+ The initial reports of damage done to Joshua Tree National Park during the government shutdown suggest that it may take 200 or more years for the ecosystem to recover. They should build a wall around Joshua Tree and lock the gates for the next 50 years.

+ Set aside that Zen koan you’ve been fixating on and meditate on the metaphysical meaning of Rep. Louis Gohmert’s remarks during the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday: “If the climate change and the Green New Deal comes into law, it’s saying, we’re giving up our freedom and putting all of our faith in the faith in the government that caused the civil rights violations to begin with.”

+ Not a single word about climate change (except gloating over the US’s status–thanks to Obama–as the world’s No. 1 oil & gas producer) or Puerto Rico in Trump’s “unity” speech, which is, of course, one way to unify the opposition.

+ This year sea ice in Antarctica has shrunk to record lows, at the same time that giant cavities are opening in the Antarctic Ice Sheet, a resulting of accelerated melting from climate change…

+ It’s the middle of February and most of Oregon remains ensnarled in a condition of extreme drought.

+ Temps on the North Slope of Alaska were 30-50 degrees above “normal” last week…

+ Hot off the Doomed Planet News Wire: Oil production in Texas has shattered records set in the 1970s

+ At least 305 wolves were killed in Montana in 2017-18, nearly 36% of the entire population. Now a pair of bills offering bounties to encourage people to kill even more wolves.

+ A trail camera in southern Arizona captured a photo of “Lil Jefe,” a rare ocelot, which will be seriously endangered by Trump’s planned border wall. Roam safely, Little Man…

+ Predatory capitalism has been supplanted by sadistic capitalism.

+ The Westminster Dog Show, where Nazi science is still celebrated

+ The sheep rancher who killed this coyote and displayed her corpse on a post, shouted profanities at me while shaking a rather sharp-looking pitchfork in his hand, while I was taking this photo last Sunday afternoon near his barn outside Scott Mills, Oregon.

March 2019

+ Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) net worth:

2004: $61,768,616
2014: $94,202,571
Increase in 10 years: $32,433,955 (+52.58%)

No wonder she doesn’t want to leave office…

+ DiFi in action, versus 5th graders…

Waleed Shahid

@_waleedshahid

Everyone needs to watch this video of @SenFeinstein disparaging literal children from @SunriseMvmt calling on her to support @AOC and @SenMarkey’s Green New Deal.

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25.7K2:39 PM – Feb 22, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy15.9K people are talking about this+ Those second-graders who confronted DiFi over climate change are lucky they didn’t ask Kamala Harris a tough question: “To date, I have prosecuted 20 parents of young children for truancy. The penalty for truancy charged as a misdemeanor is a fine of up to $2,500 or up to a year of jail. Our groundbreaking strategy has worked.”

+ A new simulation finds that global warming could cause stratocumulus clouds to disappear in as little as a century, which would add 8°C (14°F) of extra warming. (But look on the bright side of this otherwise distressing news: In a world without clouds, it will be easier to track Bernie’s private jet when it flies over your neighborhood…)

+ We are now witnessing the first Category 5 Typhoon ever to develop in February…

+ The waters of the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee are draining away, largely as a result of climate change. Soon, we’ll all be able to walk across the lakebed Jesus walked on…(as long as you’re not a Palestinian, that is.)

+ Meet William Happer, the climate change denier Trump just picked to head his new panel on climate change. “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.”

+ If temperatures increase by 2 degrees Celsius, climate change could cost U.S. infrastructure $500 billion by 2100. Don’t worry, Mexico will pay for it…

+ Bering Sea ice remains critically low, only 53% of the average from 1983-2010…

+ Is this the hottest summer ever in Australia?

+ Kill an orphaned kitten while jogging get celebrated as a hero, save a bear cub get thrown in jail….

+ Killing wolves won’t save caribou, according to a new report…but that’s not why they really want to kill wolves.

+ This map depicts 20 years of migratory data from a single golden eagle tagged with a GPS device…

+ Greenwashing, it’s for everyone, even dredge miners, who have taken to describing themselves as “aquatic health technicians” to secure money from the State of Oregon.

+ It’s now open season for wolves on the Colville Rez, whose tribal council is dominated by anti-wildlife ranchers….

+ We lived adjacent to the Yellowwood Forest in southern Indiana for 8 years. Yellowwoods are a rare tree in Indiana, a relic of the glacial age. Most forest land in Indiana is private. There’s no economic or social reason to log public forests. In Indiana, public forests, even the crown jewels like Yellowwood, are logged for political reasons, to stick it to environmentalists. We now know that the State of Indiana recently sold trees logged in Yellowwood for $68 per tree. Cost: mangled wildlife habitat, increased soil erosion, decreased biodiversity, appalled tourists…$68 PER TREE!

+ Snake River salmon runs before and after the completion of Lower Granite Dam…

+ Mining companies dump 50 million gallons of toxic wastewater into American streams every single day.

+ An Australian rodent called the Bramble Cay Melomys became the first mammal known to go extinct due to climate change. And we’re just getting warmed up!

+ SNL cut the parody of DiFi responding to those kids last week. Luckily, we found it on the cutting room floor…

+ Trump’s rollback of clean air regulations (Codename:  “The Affordable Clean Energy Rule”) could cause 1,630 more premature deaths and 120,000 more asthma attacks by 2030, according to a new study by the State Energy and Environmental Impact Center.

+ Trump’s EPA blocked NASA from doing cancer research in Texas after Hurricane Harvey unleashed a tide of toxic muck across the Gulf Coast…Why? It’s better (for the chemical and oil companies) not to know.

+ Trump: “FEMA has been told directly by me to give the A Plus treatment to the Great State of Alabama and the wonderful people who have been so devastated by the Tornadoes.” I hope someone files a FOIA request to reveal what grade of service  Trump told FEMA to give to Puerto Rico.

+ Not surprisingly, federal disaster relief has always favored the rich.

+ When oceans burn

+ Sea ice extent in the Bering & Chukchi Seas has decreased by 360,000 km² since Jan 25th, meaning an area the size of Montana has gone from mostly ice to mostly all water in six weeks.

+ Greenland’s ice sheet is melting, even in winter.

+ When Ketchikan, Alaska runs out of water, you know the planet is really screwed up…

+ Rising sea levels are ruining crops and poisoning farmland in coastal North Carolina. “It’s all good, Honey Pie. If the crops die, we can always raise hogs. The ham will come pre-salted.”

+ Under a new law, if you contribute money to anti-pipeline protests, South Dakota might try to arrest you…(So much for “money as speech.”

+ Free-market, anti-government conservatives in Wyoming push forward a bill to mandate keeping aging coal plants running

+ The Canadian uranium company that shrank the Bears Ears (with the help of Ryan Zinke)…

+ First ketchup was reclassified as a vegetable. Now it appears that lead has become an essential mineral in school lunch programs.

+ Nearly half of all insect species on the planet could be driven to extinction within the next several decades, largely poisoned to oblivion by pesticides.

+ As if the week hasn’t seen enough bloodshed, Trump’s Interior Department moved this week to lift all federal protections for wolvesin the US.

+ The US may not have any of the best cities to live in, but I know we have a few of the worst, starting with Page, Arizona…

+ An evocative study from the British Academy suggests that neolithic people (4,500 BCE) came from across Britain to Stonehenge-like sites in Devonshire and Wiltshire for ceremonial feasts. A similar region-wide gathering took place in the Pacific Northwest, where archaeological evidence indicates native people came all the way from Yellowstone and northern Arizona for salmon feasts at Celilo Falls in Oregon, a village that swelled to a seasonal population of 30,000 during the spring and fall runs.

+ In Alaska, indigenous people make up less than 20% of the population, but Alaskan Natives account for 60% of the kids in foster care.

+ Native Americans are already the most vulnerable population in the US to wildfires and the Trump administration’s policies are putting their communities at even greater risk.

+ How Inuits teach their kids to control their anger.

+ Proof labor strikes work: Nicolas Petit, a favorite to win the Iditarod, dropped out of the race, less than 200 miles from the finish line, when his team of dogs refused to run after he yelled harshly at one of them.

+ By 12,000 BCE, dogs were being depicted on stone columns and buried in the arms of humans

+ They’re aerial gunning wolves again in Alaska, using the specious rationale of “boosting” moose populations…

+ Read Rick McIntyre’s gripping account of the life and death of Yellowstone Wolf 926F and try not to cry (or resist the urge to blow something up). I saw her at least once, leading her pack, along Slough Creek. Her life story reads like Anna Karina.

+ Bulldozers are carving up forests in the name of fire prevention. They aren’t preventing any fires, but they sure are destroying a lot forest.

+ A new report reveals that white people in the US generate much more pollution than blacks and Hispanics and yet suffer much less from the health consequences of such pollutants.

+ According to the European Heart Journal, air pollution prematurely kills 800,000 people a year, twice the previous estimates.

+ The pipes don’t work cause the vandals turned the handles

+ People complaint that I’m a pessimist. But it’s hard to stay as pessimistic as the science: “Out of 5.2 million possible climate futures, carbon emissions must reach zero by 2030 in every country in the world if we are to stay at less than 2 degrees Celsius by 2100 of warming.”

+ According to the latest UN Report, it’s all over for the Arctic: Even if the Paris Agreement is met, global temperatures will rise 3-5C above preindustrial levels. Even if all carbon emissions stop, Arctic temperatures rise will 5C above 2005 levels.

+ Oklahoma is constantly rocking because of fracking and wastewater injection from oil drilling.. Antarctica is now rattling with earthquakes from climate change, driven by fracking and oil drilling…

+ In recent study published in Nature, researchers estimate that half of all coral in the Great Barrier Reef has died since 2016! “On average, across the Great Barrier Reef, one in three corals died in nine months,” said Terry Hughes, an author of the paper and the director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. “You could say the ecosystem has collapsed. You could say it has degraded. I wouldn’t say that’s wrong. A more neutral way of putting it is that it has transformed into a completely new system that looks differently, and behaves differently, and functions differently, than how it was three years ago.”

+ Teenage climate change striker: “I don’t really think it matters if I have a Roth IRA because of climate change.”

+ The so-called Bomb Cyclone generated a barometric pressure reading of 970 millibars, the lowest ever recorded in Colorado.

+ There’s $$$ in “adaptation” to the wreckage of climate change–not so much in reducing consumption of fossil fuels and products made by them…

+ Of course, Bill de Blasio’s plan to confront climate change is to add more ground to Manhattan Island, in a last ditch move to stem rising sea levels. He’d probably have more success making sacrifices to Poseidon.

+ True to form, AFL-CIO’s Energy Committee slams the Green New Deal, then leaks the letter to Wyoming’s oil patch Sen. John Barrasso. This was enough to scare the bejeezus out of Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, who warned that such a plan would represent a Final Solution for “ethnics” (white Westerners) like him, a Green Genocide.

+ Will the Green Genocide lead to the extinction of the MAGAfauna?

+ How CNN describes Gov. John Frackenlooper: “worked with oil executives to fight climate change.”

Dan Merica

@merica

Hickenlooper, who worked w oil executives to fight climate change as gov, tells @BuzzFeedBen that his critics on climate are off base.

“So I did stuff. They’re mad that I did stuff. And they are still talking… And we actually did stuff. Alright, sue me,” he said.

10710:31 AM – Mar 10, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy87 people are talking about this

+ Yes, this is the same John Frackenlooper who threatened to sue any Colorado communities that voted to ban fracking.

+ Sen. Fossil (Manchin) and Sen. Fuel (Murkowski) admonished lawmakers to take “responsible action” on climate change, which is like Coors telling football fans to “drink responsibly” …

+ Lawmakers in Pennsylvania, the state that gave us Three Mile Island, are considering a bill that would inject $500 million into the region’s failing nuclear reactors, which is throwing good public funds down a radioactive drain.

+ As Trump gears up to clearcut America’s public forests at a pace not seen since the Reagan Administration, the rate of forest coverage in China has increased by nearly 10 percent in the past four decades, with the world’s largest planted forests and an 80 percent expansion of forest areas across the country.

+ If we get really good photographs of all the world’s butterflies, we can project life-life holograms of them when they’re gone. But we’ll have to charge you to see them. “Butterflies” won’t be “free” anymore..

+ Emissions from air travel are going through the roof, while emissions from other forms of travel are gradually declining.

+ It was a gorgeous Sunday in the Oregon Coast Range and I descended a small river I’d long wanted to visit called Beaver Creek (one of dozens), which tumbles through a lovely sequence of waterfalls before emptying into the Columbia, near the old cannery town of Quincy. Just a few hundred yards downstream from the falls is one of the most savage clearcuts I’ve seen in decades. I couldn’t get close enough to get good photographs (see below), but the logging went all the way down to the stream (coho, steelhead, cutthroat, chinook) on a very steep slope, already slumping and poised for a big slide that will bury the creek. There are three waterfalls in less than a mile on Beaver Creek, one of them 60 feet tall. In most states, this canyon would be protected as a state park. In Oregon, it’s just another free-fire zone.

At the mouth of Beaver Creek is a huge fenced off industrial site, totally hidden from public view, unless you’re on the river. It’s PGE’s big biomass plant, turning Oregon’s forests into “green electricity.”

+ The transoceanic migration of the Blackpoll Warbler, from Amazonia to the Boreal Forests, is a natural marvel (not to mention a shaming of Boeing) that is inexorably being extinguished from the face of the Earth.

+ Douglas-fir, the dominant tree species west of the Cascade Ranges  and Ponderosa pine, the dominant tree east of the Cascades, are both struggling to regrow after wildfires and clearcuts in the West, largely because of changing climate conditions.

+ It was 68 in Oregon City on Sunday. While up in northern Alaska, Fairbanks Airport 47F breaks previous record high temp for March 17 of 46F last set in 1981. Tanana 46F breaks the previous record of 39F set in 1998. Bettles 44F breaks the previous record of 38F set in 1998.

+ Fairbanks hit 51F at 3:30 pm on Thursday, the warmest temperature in the Alaskan city since October 24th. Normal high temp for March 21st is 28F.

+ Poseidon is pissed and rogue waves are getting more extreme and dangerous. This kind of “dynamic flooding” is largely a consequence of rising sea levels.

+ Climate change has now destroyed more US military equipmentthan was lost in any war since Vietnam.

+ A young Cuvier’s Beaked Whale was spotted near a beach in the Philippines last week in terrible condition, weak and coughing blood. The whale soon died and a necropsy was performed on its body. The whale had staved to death, its stomach completely crammed with oceanic plastic debris. The whale had likely been suffering for months, if not a year. It’s stomach was described as being “as hard as a baseball.”

+ Steve King (Nazi – IA): “New Orleans’ Hurricane Katrina victims only asked for help, Iowans take care of each other.”

+ Eco-tourism was always one of the great oxymorons, right up there with clean coal, humanitarian intervention and sustainable development. Now one-percenters are carving carbon contrails into the sky as they fly to the remotest parts of the world on “last chance” tours…

+ Robert Macfarlane’s word of the day: “orming” – wandering without intent, meandering, walking with pleasurable aimlessness (English regional, esp. Lincolnshire; supposedly derived from the Norse word for “worm”).  See also “stravaiging” (Scots), “daundering”, “pootling”, etc…

+ The LCV, created with the best of intentions in 1970 by David Brower and Marion Edey, has turned into little more than a wholly-owned subsidiary of the most calcified elements in the DNC.

+ Trump is going to miss Mueller now that’s he’s gone. He needs a Hellhound on his trail for his show to work, even if the dog doesn’t bite. Otherwise, the man is left to indulge his own worst instincts, like targeting disabled children and hurricane refugees.

+ If the Democrats had wanted to really nail Trump for collusion, they should have pursued his entanglements with the oil and coal industries and his failure to faithfully execute (and repeatedly subvert) the laws of the Republic on their behalf.

+ For example, over the course of the 35-day government shutdown, the Bureau of Land Management approved 267 onshore drilling permits and 16 leases applied for by oil and gas companies. Two of Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s former clients were among the companies whose applications won approval from the BLM.

+ Bernhardt and his lobbying firm donated over $1 million to Senators, the same ones who are now set to approve his nomination as Interior Secretary. A million here, a million there. Next thing you know they’re opening ANWR and the Oregon Coast to oil drilling.

+ Though at least there’s one entity in the gallery who is keeping a close eye on Bernhardt.

+ The coral reefs off Lord Howe Island, the most southern reef in the world, are now experiencing bleaching from climate change, despite the cool waters of the Tasman Sea. This is about as bad as it gets. Until next week…

+ March 2019 was the 100th consecutive month with above normal temperatures in Svalbard, Norway. Since 1961, the rate of warming there has been about six times the global average.

+ To illustrate his attacks on the Green New Deal during debate over the show vote in the senate , Sen. Mike Lee used this photo of Reagan riding a dinosaur…What does it represent? A fossil on fossil fuels? (Beto will be appearing in a version of this painting on his next Vanity Fair cover.)

According to Lee, the solution to climate change is for people to have more babies.

+ Climate change, taking out one Air Force base after another… The Air Force says it “requires $1.2B in FY2019 & $3.7B in FY2020/FY2021 of supplemental funding to rebuild Tyndall AFB, and recover Offutt AFB.” Without it, the Air Force claims service “must cut critical facility and readiness requirements”

+ One more thing to ad to the Endangered Species List: local environmental reporting.

+ The equivalent of 34 soccer fields of old-growth forest is clearcut on Vancouver Island every day.

+ This model of Alaska’s melting permafrost should scare the bejesus out of anyone who cares about what happens beyond the next fiscal year…

Woods Hole Research Center@WoodsHoleResCtr

An alarming model of Alaskan #permafrost. Less yellow indicates permafrost thaw. Permafrost thaw means the #greenhouse gases currently stored inside will leak into the atmosphere. The problem? Permafrost stores more #carbon than has ever been released by humans. Map by @g_fiske.

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761:10 PM – Mar 26, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy84 people are talking about this

+ Nick Estes: “The same week Trump recognizes the illegal Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights, he “re-permits” the illegal trespass of the KXL pipeline through Lakota territory. One colonial occupation is only possible because of another.”

+ Murray Energy, which basically writes the rules on coal mining for Trump’s Interior Department, mines 1/3 of the coal in West Virginia and 1/4 of the coal in Illinois…

+ 10 of the levees that failed during the flooding in the Middle West were never inspected by the federal government.

+ More than one million private water wells across the Midwest are at risk of contamination from livestock waste, oil and pesticides, as a result of the record floods. How do you like that Round-Up now?

+ There are only 42 mountain lions left in the Santa Ana and Santa Monica mountains of southern California. These populations have a high probability of going extinct within the next 50 years. Their only real hope a network of wildlife corridors to link islands of viable habitat amid the cancerous sprawl of the Los Angeles Basin.

+ It’s been a brutal year for grizzlies in the Northern Rockies and Greater Yellowstone.  A total 42 grizzlies were killed by so-called “wildlife managers” last year, including 32 in Wyoming alone. That was a record number of “lethal removals” in the state, up 45 percent from the previous record of 22.

+ Number of jobs at the EPA Trump’s budget would slash: 2,000.

+ I eagerly await the Million Wolves March on Washington…

+ The Shasta Pack in northern California has disappeared. Where they poisoned by ranchers?

+ More than 300 bison have been “removed” from Yellowstone National Park already this spring. In this context, “removed” means killed. And those 300 dead bison stripped from Yellowstone Park represent just the start of the killing program. They plan to kill 900, all to protect a few herds of cattle from a disease (brucellosis) that is more common and contagious from elk.

+ Radioactive contaminants from Fukushima are now being found as far north as the Bering Strait

+ If there is a “shithole city” in the US, my vote would be Phoenix, where 10 percent of the land area is now consumed by parking lots.

+ What kind of sick thrill does some pervert with a gun get out of killing a sleeping lion?

+ Geography 101 with Trump: “I support the Great Lakes. Always have. They are beautiful. They are big. Very deep. Record deepness, right?”

April 2019

+ Wyoming’s Powder River Basin (once the hunting grounds of the Oglala Sioux) is running out of coal faster than expected, but probably not fast enough to save either the river or the atmosphere.

+ Trump is taking another whack at “states’ rights” by limiting their ability to permit and regulate natural gas and oil pipelines. Not a bleat from the Heritage Foundation about this assault on one of their old shibboleths.

+ The March 2019 average temperature in Kotzebue, Alaska was far warmer than any other March, with an average temperature of 23F. The 1981-2010 normal March temp is +1.1F, making last month 21.9F above normal.

+ The winter snowpack at Denali National Park Headquarters melted out March 31. This is, by two weeks, the earliest the winter snowpack has melted out. The previous earliest was April 14, 2003. The average snowpack meltout date is May 04.

+ Rep. Thomas Massie (Moron-KY) is empirical evidence of the consequences for the human brain from drinking water contaminated with coal waste for 20 years…

+ Trump said last week that Venezuela’s electricity problems are bad because “they have a lot of electric cars.” They don’t. Gas is basically free there. Caracas analyst Dimitris Pantoulas: “I really doubt that you can find more than 10 electric cars in Venezuela.”

+ Meanwhile, back on Pine Ridge: They’ve declared a civil emergency. Both interstates in South Dakota remain closed. +10,000 are without power. The blizzard warning continues into tomorrow. There’s 50 mph wind gusts.

+ I wandered into a patch of old-growth forest near the south fork of Short Sands Creek in the Oregon Coast Range. There were 300 year old Sitka Spruce standing next to ancient Western Red Cedars. The forest floor was spongey and bursting with trillium, skunk cabbage, red huckleberries just in bloom. There were standing dead trees and nurse logs, crawling with millipede and salamanders. A couple hundred yards away, however, the scene was a blast-zone, activeclearcutting that spread from the crest of one mountain across the drainage, spawning habitat for coho, chinook and sea-run cutthroat, to the crest of another mountain. The difference in the dead trees was striking. In the clearcuts, the trees, many 6 to 8 feet in diameter, were desiccated, lifeless, bone-white. In the forest, the dead were decaying into soft browns, their crumbling trunks moist and filled with all kinds of plant, fungi and insect life. Two worlds. One living and organic, one dead and sterile.

These clearcuts brought to you by Weyerhaeuser, the tree-killing people.

+ A new study reports that spending 20 minutes in nature can reduce your “stress hormones.” But good luck finding any near you…

+ Hey kids, for a mere $75 (if you want to walk) and $250 (if you want to ride something and really tear shit up) you can recreate in one of Weyerhaeuser’s Denuded Landscapes. They’ll provide the roads, the trails (skid) and the firewood. But don’t forget to Bring Your Own Trees!

+ Opposable thumbs and the proper use of spell-check are what distinguish “humanity” from the rest of the animal kingdom.

+ I learned this useful bit information about the origins of the progressive state of Oregon this morning at the Museum of the Oregon Territory: The first Black Exclusion Law in Oregon, passed in 1844, called for any black person, free or slave, who entered the state to be publicly whipped every six months until they left (or died).

+ What if Rick Perry left the Energy Department and no one missed him or even realized he was gone?

+ Yellowstone is a big place, but nearly not big enough. It’s an island, surrounded by hostile forces: timber companies, mining companies, oil companies, frackers, ranchers, ski developments, and jerks with guns eager to kill anything that moves indifferent to any collateral damage.

+ The last time carbon dioxide levels were this high, Greenland was mostly green, sea levels were 20 meters higher and trees grew on Antarctica. That was 5.3 million years ago. But, by all means, let’s see every last page of the unreacted Mueller Report…

+ Dave Willard, a researcher at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History,  measured the morphology of more 70,000 birds over 40 years. The analysis of this rich trove of data reveals that migratory birds are shrinking due to warming temps, but their wings are lengthening.

+ An extreme event like Hurricane Maria was 4.85 times more likely to happen in the climate of 2017 than in 1956, according to a new report in the journal of Geophysical Research Letters, and that change in probability can’t be explained by natural climate cycles.

+ Humans won’t like what the zombie pigs were thinking the moment they were slaughtered…

+ A new study finds that the diet of urban coyotes consists largely of “pets,” 20 percent coming from cats alone. Yet cats that are allowed outside shouldn’t be considered “pets” but “pests” that kill BILLIONS of birds a year and thus fair game for canis latrans…

+ If you want a litmus test for the moral character of a person, just observe how they behave in the presence of wolves, a foolproof way of revealing the sadist within…

+ The Forest Service is waging chemical warfare in our national forests in a toxic campaign against what it considers “noxious weeds.” In Idaho’s Sawtooth National Forest alone, the Forest Service is planning on drenching as much as 40,000 acres of public land with highly poisonous Round-Up, Sulfometuron methyl and Dicamba.

+ So I got an email accusing me of being “against everything, but what are you for?” My answer: I’m for grizzlies and wolf packs, I’m for tearing down dams & letting the salmon run, I’m for sea ice in the Arctic and water in the Colorado River when it hits the Sea of Cortez, I’m for black holes and northern lights, spotted owls and marbled murrelets, cerulean warblers & gyrfalcons & everything they need to thrive.

This answer yielded the predictable response that I was a misanthrope. I plead guilty to having read an enjoyed Molière, but the charge isn’t true. How could it be for a new grandfather? Still what the hell do the homo-centrists have against gyrfalcons?

May 2019

+ The Oglala Sioux Tribal Council voted unanimously this week to ban South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem from the Pine Ridge Reservation after she backed new “riot boosting” laws that target tribes and their allies who oppose new oil infrastructure on treaty lands.

+ Decline in global populations over the past decade, according to Biological Conservation:

Butterflies: 53%
Beetles: 49%
Bees: 46%
Dragonflies: 37%
Flies: 25%

+ The damage from the Bomb Cyclone that detonated on the Great Plains may exceed $3 BILLION

+ This loss comes on top of one of the worst quarters in decades for American farmers, collapses by $11.8 billion in the first three months of 2019.

+ The lifespan of a “biodegradable” plastic bag is three years and counting

+ Trump’s BLM just quietly opened the door to fracking on 1.1 million acres of federal land in California…

+ 91 percent of U.S. coal-fired power plants with monitoring data are contaminating groundwater with unsafe levels of toxic pollutants.

+ The accelerating loss of forest cover (30 million acres last year in the tropics alone, the fourth highest loss in 20 years) is yet another little noticed factor driving the climate catastrophe. 92 in the Shade, 108 in the Stumps…

+ The countries with the largest cumulative CO2 emissions since 1750…

1) US – 397Gt CO2
2) CHINA – 214
3) Russia / fmr USSR – 180
4) Germany – 90
5) United Kingdom – 77
6) Japan – 58
7) India – 51
8) France – 37
9) Canada – 32
10) Poland – 27

+ The melting permafrost in the Arctic is expected to inflict more than $7 trillion (that’s TRILLION) of economic damage. The ecological damage is inestimable.

+ Greenland, which on any rational planet would be considered a continent, is falling apart, as its massive ice sheet is rapidly melting, having lost 4,976 GIGATONS  of water since 1972…and half of that loss has happened in the last 8 years. More ominously, the bottom of the Greenland ice sheet is now melting faster than the top, making the whole thing unstable and vulnerable to a catastrophic collapse.

+ The Paris Accords, which Democrats are launching a futile, last minute effort to salvage, were a giant placebo for the gullible and the grant-dependent.

+ The Mississippi River at Rock Island in the Quad Cities of Iowa hit a new all time record flood crest of 22.64′ at 11:50 AM on May 2nd.  This breaks the 1993 Great Flood record of 22.63′. The river continues to rise.

+ Here’s a link to that American Lung Association report on air quality in American cities. I was surprised that San Diego, a city I always thought of bright, clean and breezy, has the 6th worst ozone levels in the country–ozone is invisible.

+ A society that can’t even protect its drinking water is a failed state by any definition that really matters. The EPA’s response to this growing crisis (and, no, Flint still doesn’t have clean drinking water) is to slash its core Safe Drinking Water programs by 8 percent and cut its aid to state clean drinking water programs by 33 percent.

+ After the northern California town of Paradise was destroyed by one of the largest wildfires in history, the city discovered that much of its water had been contaminated by a “toxic cocktail” of gases released by the fire.  Most troubling is the presence of Benzene—a compound linked to anemia, vomiting, and leukemia—found in 30 percent of water samples taken in the town. “It is jaw dropping,” said Dan Newton of California’s Water Resources Control Board. “This is such a huge scale. None of us were prepared for this.” It will take at least  two years and more than $300 million clean and repair the cities water pipes. Meanwhile, the estimated 1,500 residents who moved back have been warned not to drink, cook, or bathe in the water.

+ We’ve lost another mountain lion in Southern California, this one killed with rat poison. And it’s not just mountain lions that are dying, though we can’t afford to lose any more of them in the Santa Monica Mountains, but bobcats, hawks and owls, as well. What was the source the rat poison? Unclear, but it’s often used at illicit grow operations…

+ The EPA is slashing funding for studies of children’s health. Why? Because the kids only matter while in the womb…

+ Interior Secretary David Bernhardt: “I haven’t lost sleep over record CO2 levels.”

+ The temperature hit 29 celsius (85 F) on the coast of Arctic ocean at Arkhangelsk, Russia on Monday.

+ CO2 levels have risen 50 ppm since the hockey stick curve showing the rapid warming of the planet in the 20th century was published in 1998.

+ Our rulers are insane. Exhibit 1(a): Secretary of State Pompeo Maximus: “Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade, that can potentially slashing the time it takes for ships to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days.”

+ The problem isn’t the people (largely Americans) who don’t “believe” in climate change. The problem resides with those who know what’s going on and do nothing about it and/or exploit it for profit.

+ Subsidies to the US fossil fuel industry now exceed the Pentagon’s budget.

+ A quarter of Antarctica’s ice is now deemed “unstable,” though likely not as unstable as our politicians.

+ Biden’s top climate advisor, Heather Zichal, left her White House job in 2013. A year later, she landed on the board of Cheniere Energy, a leading exporter of fracked gas, where she pocketed over a million dollars. in 2018 became the Nature Conservancy’s Vice President for “corporate engagement.”

+ Here’s Trump spraying some primo bullshit about Puerto Rico:

“Puerto Rico — just so you understand, we gave Puerto Rico $91 billion for the hurricane. That’s the largest amount of money ever given to any state — talking about states and Puerto Rico, a little different — $91 billion. Texas got $30. Florida got $12. Puerto Rico got $91 billion. So I think the people of Puerto Rico should really like President Trump. Now that money was given by Congress, but they got $91 billion. Now you remember how big the hurricane was in Texas, the largest water dump in the history of our country, they say. Three times it went in, went out, went in. Texas got $30 billion. Florida got actually anywhere between $9 and $12. Puerto Rico got $91 billion, and now the Democrats are trying to hold up the money from Georgia, from South Carolina, from Alabama, to Florida. They’re trying to hold it up. They’re hurting Florida. They’re holding — I mean, what they’re doing to North Carolina, to Louisiana, they’re trying to hold relief aid because Puerto Rico, which got $91 billion, have to love their president, they want to get Puerto Rico more money. So they’re willing to sacrifice Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana and other states. The Democrats are doing that. They are very divisive people.”

+ A new study in Nature finds that “free-ranging cats cause substantially greater wildlife mortality than previously thought and are likely the single greatest source of anthropogenic mortality for US birds and mammals.”

+ It’s looking more and more likely that Bengal tigers will be driven to extinction by climate change

Tiger, tiger burning out
in a blaze of climate doubt
what hateful scam or lie
could snuff your stunning symmetry?

+ As I predicted, the “royal” baby and the Starbucks cup on GoT would eclipse the dire UN report on extinction on cable news. Now we know: “ABC, NBC, and MSNBC did not air a single prime-time mention of the major new U.N. biodiversity report warning of ecosystem collapse.”

+ Biden nearly flunked Greenpeace’s Climate Change quiz. Luckily, for the former Veep, the environmental group grades on a soft curve.

+ What do you have to do to fail the test, eat coal and fart freedom gas…?

+ Giant clams near the Marshall Islands are showing extremely high levels of radiation, the latest evidence that the radioactive waste pit from US nuclear testing is leaking into the Pacific. I’d avoid the Clam Monbiot at Nobu’s for the next thousand years….

+ The action on the Weather Channel this week was far more thrilling than any episode of Game of Thrones.

+ Toto, we’re not in the Holocene anymore

+ Histrionic sheep ranchers on the Oregon Coast are blaming bald eagles for killing their livestock. This is typical rancher histrionics. Bald eagles eat dead sheep, usually lambs that die soon after birth. They don’t kill them…They usually don’t even kill fish, preferring to steal them from osprey. (Golden eagles are a different story, but they are rarely seen west of the Cascades.)

I’ve been doing winter raptor surveys in the lower Columbia for the past 10 years and have never sign any signs of bald eagles killing lambs. I know this area and these two sheep ranches there very well. The concentration of eagles there is not very high, compared to some nearby habitat. The most I’ve ever seen in either pasture is two at a time. A few miles down the river, on Svensen Island, there are often 9 eagles in one tree with no sheep in sight, live or dead.

+ Coming to America’s largest temperate rainforest, the Tongass in southeast Alaska, thousands of miles of roads to ruin

+ Gray whales are starving to death off the Pacific Coast…

+ Over the last two decades, more than half of Mexican wolf deaths, and about one in four red wolf deaths, resulted from gunshots or other illegal acts.

+ It appears like more and more men are shooting plastic bullets

+ The climate costs of plastics…

+ When Yosemite and Joshua Tree come with a “Hazardous to Your Health” travel advisory, you know the country has completely gone to shit…

+ In Illinois, as in several other states, cars and trucks now outproduce coal when it comes to CO2 emissions

+ Trump on California Gov. Gavin Newsome: “Clean up your forests. You won’t have forest fires. He blames them on global warming. I said, ‘No, try cleaning the floor of the forest a little bit.’”

+ If you’re intent on dying at 8,000 meters, why not do it with dignity on K2 or Annapurna?

June 2019

+ This seems like a big deal to me, but then I don’t get out much: The world’s seed-bearing plants have been disappearing at a rate of nearly three species a year since 1900.

+ From 2001 to 2017, the Pentagon’s emissions totaled 766 million metric tons, according to a new Brown University report. That makes the U.S. military by far the world’s largest single source of CO2 emissions.

+ The planet’s carbon concentration jumped 3.5 parts per million last year—more than twice as fast as it grew as recently as the 1980s and 50% faster than the average this decade.

+ The Greenland ice sheet is experiencing an unprecedented spasm of melting this week, losing half of its surface cover (more than 2 billion tons) in a matter of days…It hasn’t happened before. But almost certainly will again.

+ What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic…

+ 14 of the 15 cities with the worst air pollution in the world are in India, where simply breathing is like smoking a 1/2 pack of cigarettes per day. The toxic particles in India’s air ultimately end up in the country’s lakes and rivers, — 70% of which are dangerously contaminated. All of this is wrecking havoc on the health of India’s human population, where the dirty air is reducing life expectancy by at least 2.6 years.  Air pollution is now the third leading cause of death.

+ Climate change is fast-forwarding the development patterns of sockeye salmon

+ CO2 emissions from international flights leaving from California have increased by 40% in the last five years. (Don’t worry the airlines are compensating by investing in palm oil biomass plants as “carbon neutral” offsets!)

+ To date, 195 countries have signed the Paris climate agreement, and 183 have submitted their own decarbonization targets. Even if all these countries were to meet their goals, global CO2 emissions would stay about the same or even increase slightly until at least 2030.

+ Destined for Bartlett’s Book of Quotations. Trump: “China, India, Russia, many other nations, they have not very good air, not very good water, and the sense of pollution. If you go to certain cities, you can’t even breathe, and now that air is going up. They don’t do the responsibility.”

+ Joe Biden, who once plagiarized from Neil Kinnock and Martin Luther King Jr, is now reduced to lifting innocuous passages on climate change from Beto O’Rouke, who was one of the leading recipients of oil & gas largesse in Congress…

+ More journalists have lost their jobs in the last 15 years than coal miners….

+ A lot of people in Flint won’t get no justice tonight

+ Flint ain’t got safe water and Whitey goin’ to Mars (of which the Moon is a part)

I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And Mars looks very different today
For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Mars has stolen the Moon
And there’s nothing I can do…

+ The cost of cleaning up Alberta’s tar sands zone: $260 billion.

Number of years it could take for the tar sands zone to be cleaned up: 2,800.

+ In 2002, Ireland became the first nation to regulate the distribution of plastic bags…

1999: 328 bags per capita
2002: Government regulations enacted
2016: 12 bags per capita

+ Bison evolved as migratory animals. Now they’re slaughtered (by our govt.) for crossing imaginary boundaries in search of forage…

+ The Trump administration secretly reversed its own policy and is now permitting the body parts of slaughtered elephants to be imported into the United States. Do you think Don Jr. & Stephen Miller have brainstorming sessions over a tub of Chick-Fil-A and a case of Coors to come up with the most disgusting things imaginable the Trump administration could legalize? Or does it just come naturally to them?

+ The Trump administration is also moving to expand hunting inside National Wildlife Refuges. “Refuge” has always been a misnomer for what most of these places actually are, which is shooting galleries…

+ A distressing note about grizzlies from Louisa Willcox:

“An astonishing 11 grizzlies are dead this year in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem, one for killing “several” chickens. Despite the availability of nearly free electric fencing from at least 3 nonprofits, the handful of chickens were not protected by electric fence. And the involved subadult male appears not to have had a record of prior conflicts with humans.

“Back to the lander” chicken farmers are exploding in the remaining stronghold for the 900 grizzlies in the NCDE, that are part of the 2% remnant of the grizzlies that we once had. Former Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Coordinator Chris Servheen has called chickens “the new garbage.” About 410,000 chickens are raised in Montana, very few as a commercial venture.

Meanwhile 3 grizzlies have been killed in the Selkirks in north Idaho – a population of perhaps only 40 grizzlies – in retaliation for depredation on domestic sheep, another bear food that is notoriously incompatible with recovery of endangered grizzlies.”

+ In 2018, USDA’s Wildlife “Services,” mercenaries for Big Ag, killed 22,000 beavers, 515,000 red-winged black birds, 19,000 mourning doves, 17,000 black tailed prairie dogs, 552 great blue herons, 357 wolves, scores of owls and much more.

+ According to the Living Planet Index, more than half of all living creatures have died out in the last 40 years.

+ Not content with harassing whales with sonar, explosions and ship strikes, the Navy now wants to invade one of the quietest places in the lower-48 with the screaming engines of its training flights: Olympic National Park.

+ Tables are turning: Cheyenne River Sioux tribal police stopped workers on the Keystone XL pipeline and transported them off the reservation…

+ Four of Alexander Cockburn’s old pals arrested on Rainbow Ridgeblocking logging operations in critical salmon habitat by Humboldt Redwoods: David & Jane Simpson, Ellen Taylor and Michael Evenson…Respect!

+ Did any mad scientist ever brew up a more evil potion than Round-Up?

+ Richard Nixon: “The US Nixon must make reparations for the damage we have done to our air, to our land and to our water.” Nixon was our greatest environmental president by a long shot, even if his environmentalism was largely motivated by a desire to split the anti-war movement.

+ The climate is now warmer than at any time in last 5,000 years and the Arctic permafrost is melting 70 years faster than any climate models predicted with “huge blocks of ice solid for thousands of years” suddenly destabilizing.

The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I’d something more to say.

+ Himalayan glaciers have lost a foot-and-a-half of ice every year since 2000, about about eight billion tons of water a year.

+ It may cost as much as $400 billion to protect US coastal cities from rising sea levels over the next 20 years.

+ It’s only the middle of June and the West is already burning…

+ When one of the largest wildfires ever seen in Siberia meets the “Mouth of Hell“…

+ Tucson, like many other cities in the West, is losing trees faster than it can replace them

+ On a related note, the tree that inspired Dr. Seuss to write The Lorax just toppled in San Diego

+ At least 500,000 Texans live in communities with contaminated ground water.

+ A new study by Pew predicts that the global population will stop growing by 2100 (if the planet survives that long). This may finally force the neo-Malthusians to confront capitalism as the driving force behind planetary annihilation…Nah.

+ The average resident of the United States consumes 40 times as much as the average resident of sub-Saharan Africa.

+ Chennai, India, a city of about 8.5 million, ran out of water this week.

+ 97% of the residents of Pine Ridge live below the poverty line. Many of them also found their homes and fields flooded for much of the spring. The reservation needs federal aid. Now.

+ 24 years from now, when Miami is underwater, will the Democrats return on pontoon boats for their first debate on climate change?

+ When asked whether he believed human-caused climate change, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue replied:

“You know, I think it’s weather patterns, frankly. And you know, and they change, as I said. It rained yesterday, it’s a nice pretty day today. So the climate does change in short increments and in long increments.”

+ Perdue’s paleolithic views are embraced by Anne Idsal, the new head of the EPA’s air quality / climate office:

“Climate has been changing since the dawn of time, well before humans ever inhabited the Earth. I think it’s possible that humans have some type of impact on climate change. I just don’t know the extent of that.”

+ Remind yourself every morning that these morons are running a country with 6,800 nuclear warheads and at night say thanks to Gaia that the planet somehow survived another day.

+ Laurie Garrett (author of the The Coming Plague): “When I warned that climate change is the greatest risk to human health in Beijing 10 years ago a top US govt health official scolded me backstage, ‘How dare you!’ the Obama official said. ‘Don’t try to bring your climate change fear-mongering on this public health stage!’”

+ The Hill reports that Biden is currently the top choice for “climate-minded” voters in 2020. Biden literally got a D- on a take-home climate test from Dem-friendly Greenpeace and plagiarized his online climate policy from Beto O’Rouke, who pocketed more oil & gas PAC money than any other Democrat…

+ The “free” market is wiping out Wyoming’s coal industry, even though Obama’s toothless Clean Coal Plan, which never kicked into gear, gets the blame.

+ Notes from the Weather Underground on this week’s European “heat wave”…

* France may witness highest temperatures ever recorded, around 113 degrees
* Madrid may come close to hitting 105, its highest ever temp
* Intensity of the hot airmass smothering Europe is “totally unheard of for June”

+ This death’s head map resembles one of those Cold War Era scare maps depicting Soviet designs on Western Europe…

+ On June 25th, 51 weather stations in Germany reported temperatures of 95F or higher. The average temp in Berlin on June 25 is 67F.

+ Michael Mann: “If we are to prevent burning through the carbon budget – the amount of carbon we can afford to burn and still keep below 1.5-2 degrees celsius – we have to lower our carbon emissions by 5% a year for the next 12 years and beyond.”

+ A UN climate expert warned this week that we are entering a time of “climate apartheid,” where human rights may no longer matter. When have “human rights” ever mattered, except as an excuse for the US to launch wars against oil rich regimes it doesn’t like?

+ The Agriculture Department is now burying studies showing the risks of climate change to crop yields. Apparently, the Trump Administration watched Chernobyl and picked up a lot of new ideas on how to handle environmental catastrophes from the Soviet high command…

+ It’s not yet July and Alaska is burning…

+ In the race toward planetary annihilation, one predator feeds the other…A report by the IMF reveals that annual fossil fuel subsidies now exceed Pentagon spending.

+ The US military generates more pollution than 140 countries.

+ Electric vehicles aren’t the solution to the climate crisis. What’s generating the “electricity” that powers them? In the Pacific Northwest, the cars are running on a cocktail of coal and dead salmon (from hydro-dams).

+ Mike Roselle: “During the depression, the Soviets were surprised to see Americans driving to the poor house in a Model T. Now we are driving into an incinerator in a Prius.”

+ Monsanto doesn’t brew Roundup out of thin air. The key ingredient in its toxic recipe is phosphate, mined from massive pits in Idaho

+ Almost everything we think we know about pollution is dangerously wrong. In fact, the planet may be 100 times more toxicwe think.

July 2019

+ Here’s an inconvenient truth to chew on over the Fourth of Me Holiday: If Al Gore Sr. had gotten his way, the DMZ rendezvous between Kim and Trump would likely never have taken place. As Alexander Cockburn and I reported in our biography of Al Gore, the old man wanted to saturate the DMZ with radioactive waste as a permanent deterrent to re-unification.

+ It turns out that the bottled water many of us are drinking may be just as toxic as the water coming out of Flint’s poisonous pipes. A new report reveals high levels of arsenic in bottled water sold by Wal-Mart, Target and even Whole Paycheck.

+ I wrote many pieces back in the 90s and early 2000s on Minatom and the post-Soviet nuclear industry, which was, if possible, an even more harrowing enterprise than what’s depicted in Chernobyl. What could possibly go wrong with Putin’s insane venture to ship a nuclear reactor into the Arctic Ocean?

+ Is this the end of Frackenlooper?

+ Trump’s ambassador to Kenya, Kyle McCarter, lashed out at the African nation after it announced plans to pull the plug on the country’s first coal-fired power. Where’s America’s first Kenyan-born president when you need him?

+ More than 150 MILLION trees died in California’s most recent drought. It’s just the beginning…

+ June 2019 was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. Just wait until August…

+ More importantly, June was also the hottest month at the airport in Anchorage…

+ More than 100 wildfires were burning in the Arctic Circle in June, releasing 50 megatons of CO2 into the atmosphere. They’ll likely burn until the rains come in September…

+ The Opera Lady is singing the final aria…rising global C02 emissions make it unlikely the Paris targets can be met.

+ 45 million gallons: the amount of water Nestle takes each from the San Bernardino National Forest.

+ $0: the amount of money Nestle pays for taking 45 million gallons of water each year from the San Bernardino National Forest.

+ China doesn’t want the US’s trash anymore. Will Americans finally be forced to deal with their own garbage?

+ The smog in the LA basin is getting inexorably worse and may cost another $14 billion to mitigate, if it can be mitigated. This news prompted me to re-read Joan Didion’s essay on Los Angeles real estate in the late 80s. Didion said two things in LA will always get worse: the air and the price of housing. She cited a poll where 60 percent of the residents of LA wanted to move somewhere else, like San Diego. But a Brentwood real estate agent warned, “They want to leave. But they can’t afford to. They’d never be able to afford to buy their way back in.”

+ Because of climate change, yellowjackets and wasps are living through the winter, making massive nests the size of Volkswagens

+ Enter Sandman…Greenland’s rapidly melting ice sheet is creating massive deltas of sand.

+ The Trump administration is planning to more than double the land available for coal leasing in Colorado. This isn’t likely to save the coal industry, which is being flattened by a wave of bankruptcies, where the workers are taking the brunt of the pain and the executives hijacking the loot. Here’s what happened when Westmoreland Coal Co. filed for bankruptcy: the miners had their health care coverage voided, while the company’s top executives, the people who ran the company into he ground, took home more than $10 million in bonuses.

+ Chukchi Sea Ice lowest ever recorded in June…

+ Jimmy Carter is getting plaudits from Gang Green for turning a 10 acre field into a solar “farm.” Sorry, Jimmy. Solar “farms” aren’t the solution. Solar power should (and can easily) be democratized by putting panels on rooftops. No need to sacrifice fields, forests or deserts.

+ There was a 6.4 earthquake in southern California near Death Valley on Thursday morning, the largest SoCal quake in years. Because of funding cuts to USGS (don’t want people checking out those fracking-quakes), the agency’s website is snarled, so much of the early seismic information came coming from European websites. Meanwhile, Trump wants to privatize the National Weather Service (see Michael Lewis’s book, The Fifth Risk)…

+ Watch the aftershocks of the SoCal quake live on a site run by the UC Berkeley Seismological Lab. Bound to be more exciting than Trump’s Fourth of Me show…

+ The earthquake in So Cal kicked up dust from Vegas to Bakersfield, spreading widely the spores that cause valley fever. As usual, farmworkers will pay the heaviest price.

+ I had a very clear premonition of how I’m going to perish today. The dude in front of me in the big F-150 pickup, which he bought only to haul his American flag and never anything else, slams on his breaks to avoid flattening the guy on the lime green e-scooter, flag and pole dislodge, arc through the air in a lethal parabola, and pierce my windshield and skull. My cenotaph will read: “Murdered by patriotism.”

+ Sockeye salmon are once again on the brink

+ You mess with the planet and the planet messes with you…a large swath of India may soon become too hot for humans.

+ Chris Cline, the “King of Coal,” is dead. Alexander Cockburn always said that people who have enough money to fly in helicopters should be smart enough not to…

+ In a sane world, the fact that honeybee colonies suffered their biggest losses on record this winter would figure prominently in our political debates.

+ On this planet, it’s just too expensive for the Department of Agriculture to collect data on honeybee collapse

+ Meanwhile, the EPA just approved the use of sulfoxaflor, a bee-killing pesticide, on 13.9 million acres of agricultural land.

+ Nearly 3,500 wolves have been killed for “trophy” hunting in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming since 2011.

+ Other wolves are killed to appease ranchers…

+ July 4th was the hottest day ever in Anchorage, Alaska (90F).

+ Then the temperatures dropped a bit over the weekend as the skies filled with thick smoke from wildfires burning inside the Arctic Circle.

+ Trump could claim he reversed Global Warming and his flock would believe him. The problem is he’d first have to admit climate change existed, which might cause them to be momentarily perplexed.

+ The nuclear hucksters are at it again, promoting 4th Generation reactors as the safe, clean, and eternal energy source of the future. This has been the false promise of the nuclear cabal since Edward Teller proposed using H-bombs to excavate a harbor in Alaska and A-bombs to frack for oil and gas (Project Gasbuggy) on the high plains of Colorado as part of the “peaceful atom” program…

+ For much of the Obama administration and into Trumptime, the Department of Energy has been secretly hauling highly radioactive waste to Nevada.

+ Nuclear Power: the grift that keeps on taking…the shutdown of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plants, some 40 years in the making, will cost at least $1.2 billion.

+ After having screened all six episodes of Chernobyl and found it benign, the members of Trump’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission are considering a plan to reduce inspections at aging nuclear plants in the United States.

+ You have to give the Trumpers this much. They’re not just willing to sacrifice honeybees to the chemical poison industry. They’ll willing to expose human children to these carcinogens as well.

+ A new study from the University of Arkansas details how climate change has intensified the drought in regions of the US: “Higher temperatures brought about by climate change led to an increased ‘coupling’ of land and atmosphere, which further increased the severity of heatwaves.” You’d think that word “coupling” would catch Trump’s eye…

+ In 60 years over one-third of the Earth’s population could be exposed to dangerous heat conditions of 127 degrees Fahrenheit (53°C) or more.

+ Hottest Global Mean Temperature ever recorded for the month of June…and July is sizzling.

The average number of “heat waves” in American cities each year has tripled since 1960. These extreme heat events happen more frequently, they persist longer, they’re hotter and more deadly.

DC as Death Valley may strike some of us who lived there as a little redundant but still…OUCH!

+ By 2070, Joshua Tree National Park won’t have any Joshua trees and Glacier National Park won’t have any glaciers. But there’ll still be cannonballs and headstones at Gettysburg–if they don’t build condos over them…

+ Russia’s permafrost is melting, to deploy one of Trump’s favorite phrases, like no one’s ever seen before. The Alaskan permafrost may even be melting at a faster rate. The consequences for the planet will be dire. In fact, it could all unravel in real, as opposed to geological, time.

+ Alaska’s not only melting, it’s also burning, with more 550,000 acresnow on fire and another 1.5 million acres already burned, the third largest amount on record.

+ Hurricane Barry set an all-time rainfall record in the state of Arkansas for a single cyclone event: 16.56 inches.

+ Half of all food-insecure countries are experiencing decreases in crop production — and so are some affluent industrialized countries in Western Europe.

+ Of the nine tiger species, three are already extinct, and the remaining six remain at risk of the same fate.

+ Charlie Hill, Oneida-Mohawk-Cree: “A Redneck told me to go back where I came from, so I put a tipi in his backyard.”

+ Police in Alabama issued a warning that flushing drugs is creating meth-fueled alligators.

Sweet home Alabama
Your swamps are the best
Sweet home Alabama
Where all the gators are on meth

+ So it turns out that AOC was being optimistic when she said we only have 12 years to save the planet. It may be closer to 18 months

+ Mike Roselle: “I gave it twenty years, forty years ago.”

+ The history of life on Earth is melting away. Soon there will only be 6000 years of ice left and Biblical estimates of the age of the Earth will be fulfilled…

+ The biggest cities in the US are leaking methane at twice the ratescientists once thought: “When burned for heat or power, methane emits less carbon dioxide than fossil fuels such as coal. But when leaked directly into the atmosphere, its warming effect can be dozens of times stronger than CO2.”

+ The current rate of ocean warming is equal to five Hiroshima-size atomic bombs exploding every second.

+ Speaking of atomic bombs, a few days ago there was a wildfire sweeping across Hanford, where much of the soil and many of the trees, scrub and sagebrush are contaminated with radioactive particles. Then a few days later, one broke out at the equally leaky nuclear “lab” in Idaho, burning 90,000 acres in a single day. Climate change as WMD…

+ Dozens of all-time and monthly records broken on Tuesday in cities across France as temperatures soared to 108.6ºF amid an intense European heat wave. I thought of what a day like today might have been like for Marcel Proust, confined in his cork-lined room on the Boulevard Hausmann, all his tasty Madelienes baking on the nightstand….

+ Both Netherlands and Belgium each recorded the highest temperatures in their history this week.

+ The hottest summers in Europe over the past 500 years have ALL occurred in the past 17 years.

+ James Kilgore: “Heat Wave. My last day in prison in Tracy, CA it was 114 degrees. We smashed out every window to get some air. Then the water went out and the toilets wouldn’t flush. Silicon Valley was 50 miles away. I wonder if their water went out too?”

+ You don’t have to go to the beach, the beach is coming to you“Sous la plage, les pavés!”

+ During her acceptance speech for the Freedom Prize, Greta Thornberg, the Malala of the climate movement, demanded that “adults be held accountable” for the climate crisis. How about holding corporations, private equity, hedge funds and the military industrial complex accountable for climate change, Greta?

+ For the first 205 days of the year, the average temperatures on the Arctic Coast of Alaska have been 9°F above normal.

Do you realize, Greta, that thousands of activists, ecologists and scientists around the world have been fighting the coal companies, oil and gas companies and the military on the ground, in the courts and in congress for decades now and that they have a pretty clear idea of where the political and economic pressure points are, don’t you? Greta is a novelty act, supported by foundations that have been hostile the very kind of radical change that is needed to confront the thing she warns about it.

+ In 2016, US farms used 1.2 billion lbs of pesticides. More than one-fourth — 322 million lbs — were pesticides banned in the EU. 26 million lbs were banned in Brazil. 40 million lbs were outlawed by China.

+ Permian Basin water use grew nearly ninefold from 2011-2016 as drillers added more than 10,000 wells. An average Permian well in 2018 used more than 15 million gallons, compared with 7 million in 2013. Water = 54% of fracking costs in Permian.

+ Air pollution kills more than 30,000 people in the US every year.

+ Air pollution is a bigger threat to your life than smoking.

+ According to a study from NIH, “infants born to women exposed to high levels of air pollution in the week before delivery are more likely to be admitted to NICU. Depending on the type of pollution, chances for NICU admission increased between 4% and 147%.”

+ Mining companies have rarely been held accountable for the ruins they’ve made in the past. Now they won’t even have to pretend to make an effort.

+ A Day at the Beach: If it ain’t covered in oil, plastic or dead whales, it’s awash in human shit

+ Michael Colby: “There were 2400 Vermont family dairy farmers when Bernie first went to Congress to “fix the problem.” There are now 675 left, and he’s done nothing to stop the downward spiral.”

+ Robin Silver, MD: “Say we’re driving from Texas and just go through these rivers: Rio Grande is dead, and then you start moving into Arizona. The Gila, dead. Santa Cruz, dead. Salt, dead. You cross the San Pedro at Benson, it’s pretty dead, but the river flows from Mexico as you go south and it’s still alive. Same thing with the Verde.”

+ Last week, Bernie Sanders posted a tweet supporting Native Hawai’ians in their fight against the Thirty Meter Telescope on the sacred summit of Mauna Kea, then mysteriously deleted it. Sanders still hasn’t explained why. C’mon, Bernie, say something.

+ Oregon State University’s School of Forestry, recently embarrassed for cutting down ancient trees, has been training people to log 400-year old trees for 100 years. They probably trained the people who logged the 800-year old trees in Millennium Grove…

+ If you were to ask me what’s the most effective and fearless environmental group in the US is, I wouldn’t hesitate to answer: the Alliance for the Wild Rockies. I’ve followed their work for 30 years. They operate on a shoestring budget. They spend their money where it matters: appeals, lawsuits, and in developing the most visionary wildland protection bill ever introduced into Congress: the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection. They’ve hit a financial crisis this summer and the future of this grassroots, no compromise group is very much in doubt at the worst possible moment. I urge you to pitch in what you can and know that it will all be used to help protect wolves & grizzlies, lynx & bull trout, wild rivers and roadless forests.

+ Thanks to the warming climate, we’re living on a more tick-friendly planet, where you can be infected with a tick-borne disease (tularemia, anaplasmosis, Colorado tick fever, Powassin encephalitis, relapsing fever, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease, et al.) in as little as 15 minutes after a tick attaches itself to your scalp, long before you return home from your hike with your Labradoodle and begin extracting the tiny arachnids. One of my favorite rock art images is of an engorged tick in a small cave high above the Columbia Gorge. It was probably some kind of shamanic symbol near a vision quest site. I was once told by an elder of the Yakima Nation that ticks have mystical power because they are shape-shifters who sustain themselves on human blood.

Tick pictograph, Columbia Gorge. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ The new acting director the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an old Sagebrush Rebel by the name of William Perry Pendley, a man who, like Rick Perry, doesn’t believe the agency he’s now charged with running should even exist. Most BLM directors, Democrat and Republican, have viewed their job as cut-rate salesmen, offering up public forests, minerals, oil, gas, coal and rangeland at bargain basement prices. Pendley sees his mission as that of a real estate agent, selling off the public lands themselves. Pendley adheres to the antiquated notion that the Constitution doesn’t authorized the US government to own land.  As George Wuerthner points out in today’s edition of CounterPunch, a blitzkreig is coming, a multi-pronged attack on our most cherished environmental laws and the very concept of public land itself, like nothing we’ve seen before, even under James Watt. There are few signs that the national environmental movement is prepared to confront what is bearing down on us.

+ The loss of the reflective cover provided by Arctic Sea will accelerate the pace of global warming by at least 25 years: “Losing the remaining Arctic sea ice and its ability to reflect incoming solar energy back to space would be equivalent to adding one trillion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, on top of the 2.4 trillion tons emitted since the Industrial Age.”

+ The German Institute for Economic Research estimates that the average 1000MW nuclear power station built since 1951 has resulted in average economic loss of $7.7 BILLION.

+ The low temperature on Weds. at Fairbanks Airport was 50F , making this the 49th consecutive day with a low of 50F or higher, easily breaks the previous record of 41 days from 2016. Prior to 2016, there was no streak longer than 32 days.

+ Back in the early 1960s, the CIA experimented with using Dengue Fever as a biological weapon against disobedient countries like Cuba, not knowing that with climate change it would eventually be  coming for everyone

+ Last week I several fans of Greta Thornberg bristled at my tweaking the young climate campaigner for associating with some rather dubious characters and foundations. This week, however, we find Greta palling around with the World Wildlife Fund, whose human rights violations are becoming more and more grotesque.

+ Build here before its gone! “In many coastal states, flood-prone areas have seen the highest rates of home construction since 2010, a study found, suggesting that the risks of climate change have yet to fundamentally change people’s behavior.” Or even marginally change behavior, which is precisely why climate education and “shaming” campaigns will fail and only firm laws, treaties and regulations will have any chance of working.

+ The average temperature (not average high) this July in Utqiaġvik (Barrow), Alaska of 48.3F (9.1C) is the warmest month on record and 7.4F (4.1C) above normal.

+ Greenland is melting so fast that scientists are having a hard time measuring how fast the ice sheets are disappearing. People are right to be skeptical of climate models. The climatologists didn’t expect Greenland to melt this fast until…2070.

+ Our new UN Ambassador, Kelly Knight Craft (coal baroness), on climate change: “I believe there are scientists on both sides that are accurate. I think that both sides have their own results from their studies, and I appreciate and respect both sides of the science.” (Kelly Knight Craft is a name worthy of Nabokov.)

+ Master Blaster: the Department of the Interior is junking its pledge to regulate the toxic clouds of dust generated by open-air blasting for coal.

+ Mothers living near oil and gas development have 70 percent increased chance for birth defects in their babies…Sacrifices must be made.

+ You really couldn’t make this up: Trump aides submitted a draft of this “America First” energy policy speech to officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for editing.

+ The Malaysian tiger will likely be driven to extinction within the next three years.

+ Peru is moving to rescind protections for over 100,000 hectares of forest and indigenous land.

August 2019

+ When the explosive power (megatonnage) of the U.S. nuclear arsenal peaked in 1960, it was equivalent to 1,366,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs. Today’s operational stockpile contains the equivalent of more than 91,500 Hiroshimas.

+ When Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Akira Kurosawa sat down to talk about the meaning of Hiroshima

Kurosawa: “The atomic bomb constituted the starting point of the Cold War and of the arms race, and it marked the beginning of the process of creation and utilization of nuclear energy. Happiness will never be possible given such origins.”

+ White supremacists aren’t much of a threat to the things that corporations and their government policing agencies care about. People who shut down pipelines, on the other hand

+ The forests of the Pacific Northwest  have never been “too wet” to burn. Douglas-fir, the dominant tree species of the region, is a “fire-dependent” species. What’s changed is the intensity and duration of the fires.

+ Ocean heatwaves that WIPE OUT marine life are now occurring at double the rate experts had expected.

+ Alaska’s waters now completely clear of sea ice, as last ice in the Beaufort Sea offshore Prudhoe Bay melted away. The closest ice to Alaska is now about 150 miles (240km) northeast of Kaktovik. Chukchi Sea maintaining lowest ice ever recorded in NSIDC data.

+ Early summer (May-July) average sea surface temperatures in the northern Bering Sea were the highest on record in the NOAA climate data. Each of the past six years is among the warmest on record.

+ Wildlands in America are being shredded at the rate of two football fields per minute. While “development” is not the word I’d use, nevertheless, the rate of destruction of the few fragmented patches of ecosystems that remain is staggering (and probably understated)…

+ Climate change is a likely factor  in the dramatic increase in blooms of cyanobacteria — single-cell organisms that, when they grow densely, can produce toxic substances–that are closing many of American’s most popular lakes.

+ More than 400 people probably died as a consequence of a late July heatwave in the Netherlands, a 15% increase from the normal death rate.

+ The EPA concluded in late 2016 that ethylene oxide is at least 30 times more carcinogenic than previously understood. 12 of the top 20 highest-emitting facilities are in Louisiana and Texas and they’ve told people almost nothing about the risks of living near these cancer factories.

+ There’s nothing in the Constitution that says you’ve got a right to water, is there? That’s fortunate, because we’re running out of it fast.

+ How many damn cows is a grizzly bear’s life worth? 10? 100? 1,000? Nope. A couple of calves according to the Fish & Wildlife Service, which dispatched its hired killers in Wildlife Services to the Rocky Mountain Front to shoot a 24-year old, 550-pound female, one of the oldest bears in the lower-48.

+ Trump greenlights the use of M-44 explosives (“cyanide bomblets“) to kill wildlife (along with your dog, kid and any other living thing that happens to stumble across one)…

+ The tundra isn’t the only thing going up in flames in Siberia. More than 100,000 people were evacuated from towns in the Krasnoyarsk region, after a string of explosions at a Russian military weapons depot. No word on whether the burning stockpiles contain depleted uranium. Trust, but bring your own dosimeter.

+ Novelist Kevin Barry’s dispatch from Chernobyl is worth re-reading, especially by George Monbiot and his fellow nuclear power hucksters…

September 2019

+ Tricolored blackbirds have declined by nearly 90 percent since the 1930s. Not enough, apparently, to warrant them protection under what’s left of the Endangered Species Act.

+ They’re clearcutting the Grand Staircase-Escalante for the benefit of … COWS.

+ From 2001 to 2018, Cambodia lost 2.17 million hectares of tree cover, equivalent to a 25% decrease, according to data analysis by Global Forest Watch.

+ Women in Africa are having, on average, three fewer children than African women were in 1980.

+ Heat deaths are soaring across the Southwest. “There’s only so much our bodies can take,” Rupa Basu, chief of the air and climate epidemiological section for the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in California, where the number of heat-related deaths doubled between 2015 and 2017. “I think we’re going beyond that temperature threshold.”

+ I stopped at Bonneville Dam last week hoping to get a view of the migrating salmon and steelhead making their way up the giant fish ladders. The dam now resembles an armed camp. A guard stopped me at the gate: “Are you carrying a firearm or a drone?” “No,” I said, chuckling. He looked at me and pointed, “Pull over there, please, and step out of the vehicle.” Yes, he said “vehicle.” Then he strip-searched my car, even opening the hood, an unlikely hiding place for a drone, taking out the spare tire. By the time he was done, it was 4:45 and the dam site closed to public at 5. I thanked him for his service in protecting such a monument to industry and extinction and left. Was it the Hayduke Lives! sticker that aroused his suspicions?

+ It’s literally raining plastic in Colorado…

+ Important new study on logging & climate change by my old friend John Talberth, which concludes that logging in the hardwood forests of North Carolina emits 44 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. That makes it the third largest source of CO2 in the state, just behind electricity generation and transportation, and far ahead of farming and other industries.

+ Bolsonaro’s war on the Amazon and its inhabitants draws blood. Maxciel Pereira dos Santos, who worked at FUNAI protecting the interests of indigenous tribes in the Amazon, was shot twice in the head in front of his family in an execution-style hit last week.

+ Japanese officials announced this week plans to dump more than 1 million tons of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear complex into the Pacific Ocean. Can’t they just pour it into George Monbiot’s swimming pool?

+ The US is gutting regulations that had successfully slowed the decline of Atlantic bluefin tuna. Why? Because whatever succeeds must be undone…

+ Screw the tribes, screw the San Juans, screw everything

+ Through the first six months of 2019, more than 7 million peoplehave been displaced by extreme weather events. A million here, a million there…

+ It’s a distinct honor and rare privilege to be part of the one human generation out of the thousands that preceded us that gets to watch the Great Extinction unfold in real-time…

+ Trump’s repeated boast that he made the US the world’s top energy producer is false. It happened in 2012 under Obama, the Fracker-in-Chief.

+ Obama, the man who approved Deepwater Horizon, was palling around with climate heroine Greta Thuneberg this week before her testimony before the House of Representatives. Obama proclaimed the teenager “one of our planet’s greatest advocates,” saying she was “unafraid to push for real action.” Too bad Obama wasn’t, when he was in a position to do something about it.

+ Global fossil fuel consumption soared throughout the 2000s, spiking to ominous new heights during the Obama years.

+ Here’s a map of all of the oil and gas leases on public lands that have sold for less than $2 an acre.

+ The Earth’s Northern Hemisphere just experienced its hottest summer on record. The five hottest summers have all occurred in the last five years…

+ Global carbon emissions have grown 18-fold since 1900.

+ Silent spring, summer, fall and winter: “The number of birds in the United States and Canada has declined by 3 billion, or 29 percent, over the past half-century.”

+ It’s been said that the Pacific Northwest is defined by where the salmon go. How will we know where we live 20 YEARS from nowwhen the chinook are gone?

+ A few weeks ago, the Portland Police shut down the Hawthorne Bridge to allow the neo-Nazi Proud Boys to goose-step through town unmolested. No such courtesy was extended to the kids marching in the Climate Strike today. As many as 20,000 of them passed over the bridge anyway…Go kids!

+ 34 inches of rain along the Gulf Coast of Texas in last 72 hours. Meanwhile, Trump is gleefully gutting California’s clean air and fuel efficiency standards…

+ Trump in New Mexico: “Cars have so much junk on them to save a tiny faction of gasoline. Energy-efficient cars are made out of papier mache and weigh about three pounds. That’s bad for crashes, because heavier is better. When somebody hits me, I want to be in as close to an army tank as possible.” (Over to you, Ralph Nader.)

+ Nearly 500,000 lightning strikes hit the Houston area during TS Imelda…

+ Dr. Jeff Masters, meteorologist: “This near-record global warmth in 2019 is all the more remarkable since it is occurring during the minimum of the weakest solar cycle in 100+ years, and during a year when a strong El Niño has not been present”

+ The entire geophysical nature of Greenland’s ice sheets are changing in ways that geologists have never seen before. First comes the melt off, then comes the hardening of the ice, which accelerates the flooding, which increases the melt off…

+ Alex Wild (curator of Entomology at the University of Texas, Austin): “Imagine being an art aficionado watching corrupt governments pay fascist gangs to burn museums to the ground. Day after day, city after city, accelerating until all that remains is smoldering rubble. That is what it feels like to be a biologist in the Trump era.”

+ Good news from ACLU: “A federal court just blocked South Dakota’s laws suppressing protests of the Keystone XL pipeline. Let this be a lesson to other states – if you try to criminalize protest, we will sue.”

+ Marianne Williamson: “Climate change is the product of an amoral economic system.” Let Marianne debate!

+ My favorite sign from the climate strike in Portland: “Leonardo DiCaprio’s girlfriends need a future!”

+ According to a wide-ranging report from the United Nations, climate change is warming the oceans and changing their chemistry so profoundly that it is threatening seafood supplies, fueling hurricane, super-storms and coastal flooding that puts hundreds of millions of people at risk.

+ Western Antarctica’s crumbling ice shelf will reshape coastlines across the globe: “Today, all the ice sheet models lose ice at a significant rate. The continent’s ice sheet has shed about 150 billion tonnes of mass every year since 2005, virtually all of it in West Antarctica. Ice loss in both Greenland and Antarctica is accelerating.”

+ A paper in Nature reports that Earth’s vegetation may not be able to continue to absorb human carbon dioxide emissions at current rates, which could accelerate climate change and exacerbate its effects.

+ Will Mike Pence start calling Hurricane Karen, the “Mother” of all storms?

+ “Honey, first we lost the beach house and now it’s the chalet!

+ Washington State wants gun down more wolves to protect cows and sheep. Since 2012, the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife has killed an estimated thirty endangered wolves and pups, has obliterated entire wolf families  and has caused countless packs to fragment as a result of targeting individual wolves.

+ Josh Frank and I covered the FBI’s targeting of environmental activists thoroughly in our recent book The Big Heat, but here’s another reminder of why giving the FBI more powers to investigate domestic “terrorism” is a bad idea…

+ More than 91,000 dams across the US have earned a “D” for human safety. All of them earned an “F” for fish safety.

+ Big win for enviros striving to keep an open pit copper mine from intruding on the Boundary Waters

October 2019

+ The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is deciding whether to perform fewer comprehensive engineering inspections at U.S. nuclear power plants. Since the year 2000, these vital safety inspections have resulted in over 2,000 inspection findings. They helped identify many defective components before they failed.

+ Two and a half years after Hurricane Harvey, Tropical Storm Imelda dropped 30 inches of rain, killed five people and inflicted $8 billion in damage in the area around Houston. This means that Houston has now been hit with one 500-year rainfall event and two 100-year events since 2016.

+ According to research published in the journal Elementsauthored by several teams of researchers from the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) — a global collective of more than 1,000 scientists studying the movement of all Earth’s carbon from the core of the planet to the edge of space, since 1750 human activity has had a more disruptive impact on the Earth’s carbon cycle than the asteroid impact that killed off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. According to the report, the total amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere every year by fossil fuel burning surpasses the cumulative amount of CO2 released by every volcano on Earth by at least 80 times.

+ Global temperatures have increased by 1C since 1960. But the Arctic is heating up much more rapidly, with some areas warming by more than 4C. Here’s a map by Berkeley Earth showing how the planet has warmed from 1960 to 2019.

+ According to a study in Nature, underground aquifers are being drained at the rate of trillions of gallons a year with disastrous consequences streams and rivers that are fueled by these water sources. Already, somewhere between 15 and 21 percent of watersheds that experience groundwater extraction have slipped past a critical ecological threshold. By 2050, that number could soar to somewhere between 40 and 79 percent.

+ Ahoy! An iceberg bigger than Los Angeles broke off the Amery Ice Shelf on the eastern coast of Antarctic ice shelf this week and is now cruising north…

+ Autumn Peltier addressing the UN General Assembly on behalf of Canada’s First Nations: “We can’t eat money or drink oil.”

+ The new Permian Extinction? Those shale oil jobs are drying up faster than the oil itself.

+ The loss of sea ice in the Arctic is a travesty for polar bears, who aren’t able to get to their normal feeding grounds. Apparently, the abundant population of oil company workers just didn’t prove nutritious enough to sustain the Arctic bears…

+ While new research shows that wild coyotes and wolves experience sadness and mourning like humans, there’s no sign that spend too much time expressing their personal grievances…

+ Roundup is still finding new ways to kill. A new study, published in Frontiers in Genetics, shows that a very low concentration of the herbicide glyphosate (in the parts per trillion range and thus environmentally relevant for everyone) can trigger breast cancer when combined with another risk factor.

+ I’m very glad Jay Inslee finally came out against the killing of wolves in Washington state. Let’s kill the euphemisms for the slaughter of wildlife, like “lethal removal,” instead…

+ It’s a rather sobering sign of our times that the Federal Reservemay be the last federal institution doing any serious analysis of the consequences of climate change….

1: Floods gets worse
2: Banks stop issuing mortgages
3: Property values tumble
4: Tax revenue falls
5: Cities can’t fund flood control measures
6: Floods gets worse…

+ Are there any other environmentalists out there who are outraged that the vice president’s son would exploit his DNA for a $50K a month do-nothing gig at a natural gas co. at the very time when his dad was supposed to be pursuing an aggressive global policy to fight climate change? Of course, we know that’s not what Biden and Obama were actually doing. Instead, they were promoting fracking and natural gas development as a “bridge” fuel. Bridge to where, you ask? A bridge to big campaign donations from the oil & gas industry.

+ Nearly a quarter of Navajo women and some infants who were part of a federally funded study on uranium exposure had high levels of the radioactive metal in their systems, decades after mining for Cold War-era nuclear weapons ended on their reservation.

+ All those stories warning about Russian hackers trying to knock down the power grid and the culprit turned out to be PG&E.

+ Obama’s fracking legacy hits home in Colorado: “There has been a fivefold increase in oil and gas production since 2008 in Colorado. 40,000 active and inactive wells are in the Denver basin; every month, there’s more. They are built close to schools, playgrounds, and clusters of family homes.”

+ Forget climate change. Forest fires. Deforestation. Toxic mine waste. Invasive species.  Desertification. According to the BLM’s Acting Direct, William Perry Pendley, the greatest threat to public lands in the west is…wild horses.

+ Two-thirds of North America’s bird species are at risk of extinctionfrom climate change…and that’s not counting the one’s imperiled by logging, grazing, mining, subdivisions, pesticides and fracking.

+ The shale oil “boom” Obama unleashed is finally dribbling to an end. It will take 10,000 years for the planet to recover (if then)…

+ Good riddance to coal, the demand for which has slumped to a 43-year low. But what they’re replacing it with isn’t any better…

+ You can’t make the Sequoias Giant Again. You just have to leave them the hell alone...

+ U.S. agriculture is now 48 times as deadly to insects as it was a quarter-century ago, before neonicotinoid pesticides were introduced.

+ One the first day of its weeklong annual bear killing spree, hunters in New Jersey slaughtered 94 black bears, including mother bears with cubs. A bear of any age can be killed. I repeat this is going down in Jersey not Wyoming.

+ The warming Clinch River in Tennessee is causing a massive die-off of freshwater mussels, leaving a “smell will knock you off your feet. You see what was a healthy looking river, but now there’s just dead bodies scattered everywhere.” Similar mass extirpations are happening across the rivers of the South.

+ A 2012 study found that a 10% reduction in work hours may lead to declines in ecological footprint, carbon footprint, and CO₂ emissions by 12.1%, 14.6% and 4.2% respectively.”

+ Robert Dudley, who helmed BP during the Deepwater Horizon ecological war crime, is leaving the company. Shouldn’t Dudley at least be wearing an ankle bracelet or be required to register if he moves into a watershed near you?

+ The carbon bootprint of empire…the US military generates more pollution than 140 countries.

+ After more than a decade of decline, a spike in air pollution may have taken the lives of almost 10,000 additional Americans over two years.

+ PG&E should be seized by the state of California and turned into a publicly-owned utility before it kills any more people

+ In the first five months of the administration of California’s hipster Governor Gavin Newsom, fracking permits have increased 103 percent and new oil well permits have increased by 35.3% and that was before Newsom appointed two oil and gas lobbyists to serve as regulators in his administration, one of them, Uduak-Joe Ntuk, a former Chevron executive. Before he’s finished, Newsom’s environmental record will make Arnold look like Rachel Carson…

+ At the beginning of his administration, Trump promised to cut two regulations for every new one put into effective. But he’s truly outdone himself. Over the first 2.5 years, Trump has slashed  8.5 regulations for every new one, most of them environmental and food safety rules.

+ Speaking of rolling back regulations, a nationwide test of baby food found that 95% of the samples contained lead, arsenic and other heavy metals in varying proportion. Most of these contaminated products have slipped right past the inspectors at Trump’s FDA.

+ Wood-burning power plants emit far more CO2 per megawatt-hourthan coal plants. Yet the biomass lobby has successfully deemed them a “green fuel” enabling biomass companies to enjoy billions in subsidies intended to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses.

+ Just another October with F-3 tornadoes

+ The planned extinction of the Delta Smelt by the Trump Administration will probably also spell the end of imperiled Sacramento River salmon…

+ Leaving trees standing sequesters more carbon than planting new trees. It’s vital to do both. But not as part of some crazy carbon offset scheme.

+ Planet of Climate Mutants…the inexorably warming oceans are turning most baby sea turtles into females.

+ Kill Fee: Oil companies got an $18 billion incentive from the Feds for killing the Gulf of Mexico.

+ What a smart wolf to get the hell out of Wyoming, where every wolf is fair game, and into Colorado. (Except, every other wolf that has made it to Colorado has been killed by a human.)

Rick McIntyre on his fascinating new book on the social dynamics of Yellowstone wolf packs, The Rise of Wolf 8:

“From watching 8 and his adopted son, 21, I learned how multiple adult wolves in a family cooperate to raise young and protect them from threats such as grizzlies and rival wolf packs. I saw that alpha females are the true leaders of the pack, not the big alpha males. Wolves have a matriarchal society and males seem to totally accept that. Maybe that is a sign of the intelligence level of wolves. I also witnessed how male wolves accept rejection from females in the breeding season, give preference to pregnant females at kills they made, and work tirelessly to feed and protect pups.”

+ Just think about this for a moment: Seventy-five percent of the mass volume of Arctic ice has melted in the past 30 years.

+Bears don’t need “training.” They are born knowing what to do, how to do it and who to do it to

November 2019

+ The rise of the Pew Brothers, who not only brought us the modern GOP, but also managed, through the Pew Charitable Trusts, the leveraged buyout of the environmental movement along the way….

+  Chase Iron Eyes, lead counsel for the Lakota People’s Law Project. “This is what pipelines do: They spill.” The latest “spill” for the Keystone XL pipeline occurred last week in Walsh County, North Dakota, with 383,040 gallons of oil seeping out on the prairie.

+ Gina McCarthy, the woman who as head of Obama’s EPA turned her back on Flint is the new CEO and board president of the neoliberal “eco” group NRDC…

+ The CEO of NRDC was making well over $100K 20 years ago, when I profiled them for CounterPunch. One of NRDC’s founders, John Bryson, went on to become the CEO of So Cal Edison and spearheaded the energy deregulation bill that has now turned PG&E into nation’s most notorious arsonist.

+ Meanwhile, the kids of Flint still doesn’t have safe water

+ In a report published in Nature, scientists using NASA imagery estimated that 10% of the places in California releasing methane — including landfills, natural gas facilities and dairy farms — are responsible for more than half of the state’s total emissions. And a fraction of the 272,000 sources surveyed — just 0.2%, so-called super-emitters — account for as much as 46%.

+ The always engaging John Bellamy Foster in Monthly Review: “Solving climate change will require huge shifts in the economy, moving away from fossil fuels & restructuring whole energy systems.… [raising] fundamental questions about production & consumption & along with it the rule of capital.”

+ Trump officially pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accords. Good riddance. The Paris Climate Accords aren’t worth saving. The more enlightened nation’s on the planet (like, well, let’s see… Bhutan, maybe?) should use Trump’s petulant pullout as an excuse to trash that deal and forge a global policy strong enough that it might actually work.

+ Sea levels will continue to rise for CENTURIES even if emissions targets are met. As Suetonius quoted Caesar, “Iacta alea est”…

+ 248 locations recorded one of their top 10 warmest Octobers on record. Of those, 30 locations had (or tied) their warmest October EVER, including-

Vero Beach
Tampa
Sarasota/Bradenton
West Palm Beach
Miami
Orlando
Fort Myers
Daytona Beach

+ Nome, Alaska’s 5-year running average temperatures are now 5F above the 20th century average and are much higher than any time in the past century.

+ The air in the West has been this toxic since 2009: “Between 2016 and 2018, the levels of fine particulate matter — inhalable specks of liquids and solids that make up air pollution — increased by 11.5%.”

+ Roxanne Amico: “Making America Gag Again.”

Toxic smog is choking Delhi. What a fine job we’ve done with this place we live on…

+ I think all trapping should be illegal, but this interactive mappublished by the Albuquerque Journal is a useful reminder that traps don’t discriminate between rare species, protected species your dog or your kid…

$20 billion: the amount of deferred maintenance that has accrued in federal land management agencies.

+ One more lane will fix it!

Urban Planning & Mobility

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@urbanthoughts11

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2020: ?pic.twitter.com/NjS1IPORG2
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+ Fuck cars, up with Good Samaritan bears!

+ In April, a bankruptcy court approved bonuses for arsonists. Then six months later PG&E struck again…

+ PG&E: Pacific Gaslighting & Evasion.

+ The risk of wildfires in California is predicted to be extreme into December.

+ Should they call them “wildfires,” when PG&E is starting most of them? At latest count, PG&E has been responsible for starting more than 1,500 fires in the last 6 years alone.

+ The sudden relocation of the Conference of Parties (COP) from Chile to Madrid has left hundreds of activists in the Global South stranded and unable to attend. There need to be climate conferences that activists don’t have to “attend” by flying halfway around the world to get there, burning carbon all the way there and back. That’s what video-conferencing is for…

+ A new billboard sprouted along I-5 in Oregon this week shaming PNW “environmental” groups for failing to protect endangered species such as the spotted owl…

+ Care about endangered species in the ancient forests of the Northwest? Donate money to Eco-Advocates NW instead.

+ From Canada to the US, Brazil to India, Bolivia to Russia, indigenous people are under attack…

Never forget what happened at Acoma: “After a small battle with soldiers sent to negotiate, the conquistador Don Juan Oñate attacked the mesa and killed hundreds of men, women and children. He took 500 prisoners and sentenced those over 25 to 20 years of servitude. He ordered the right feet and hands of some two dozen captives amputated.”

+ Verna Teller of Isleta Pueblo, the first woman to lead a Pueblo in the Southwest, just became the first Native American woman to deliver an opening prayer in the US congress.

+ Nearly 400,000 coyotes are killed in the US every year, an average of 1,100 a day.

+ Monday marked the first day in recorded history when not a drop of rain fell on continental Australia. The fire danger warnings across the country were raised to “catastrophic” level.

+ Klimate Karma Strikes Venice: “The Veneto regional council, which is located on Venice’s Grand Canal, was flooded for the first time in its history on Tuesday night — just after it rejected measures to combat climate change.”

+ “‘We have no idea what four degrees of warming looks like from a public health perspective, but we know it is catastrophic,’ says Nick Watts, author of a new report on climate change and children’s health published by the Lancet.

+ “The public doesn’t fully see this as a human health crisis. Maybe polar bears were our early indicator — the proverbial canary in the coal mine. But when you talk about this crisis, the bear images should be replaced with pictures of children,” said Dr. Jonathan Patz, a professor and director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

+ According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the number of days per year when the Beaufort Sea is more than 30% open water has gone from “usually none” in 1980s to now more than 3 months. 2019 had 107 days, the third highest total.

+ It’s the middle of November and Our Little Mountain (elev. 11,245 feet) remains largely snow free…

Mt Hood from Oregon City, November 12, 2019. Photos: Jeffrey St. Clair.

+ Stop making sense! A group of California mayors is calling on state regulators to seize control of PG&E and turn into into a cooperative.

+ Onshore wind and solar power are now less expensive than any fossil-fuel-based energy option, even without subsidies. Don’t believe me? Well, try Forbes.

+ Air conditioning the outdoors. First Qatar, soon Antarctica?

+ Key West shatters record with 232 straight days with temps of 80 and above…

+ Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt accused the “coastal states” of harboring a “hatred of fossil fuels.” Guilty as charged…

+ The leak in the Keystone pipeline contamination 10 times as much land in North Dakota as originally reported…

+ By 2040, global carbon emissions will be more be more than twice as much as would be compatible with two degrees of warming and more than four times as much as would get us to 1.5 degrees.

+ The problem with the Paris Accords is that the alleged “limits” on carbon emissions were more like New Year’s resolutions or dietary aspirations, easily broken with no consequences …. except for the planet.

+ The EPA has asked the Anaconda Chamber of Commerce to stop selling $2 souvenir baggies of slag mining waste contaminated with arsenic and lead. Now, if only they would stop green lighting mines that create such waste…

+ Credit where credit is due. As demand for coal hits a new low, it seems that Trump is winning the war on coal much more decisively than Obama, whose skirmishes tended to advance and retreat.

+ Australia is on fire and the smoke plumes are crossing the Pacific

+ The deforestation rate in Brazil is the highest its been in more than a decade. But it still trails Russia

+ The climate consequence of deforestation are 626% worse than previously thought…

+ A new report by the Wildlife Trusts suggests half of all insects may have been extirpated since 1970 as a result of the destruction of habitat, climate change and heavy use of pesticides. The report said 40% of the 1 million known species of insect are now facing extinction.

+ Wild bison are shedding their genetic diversity across many of the isolated herds overseen by the U.S. government, weakening future resilience against disease and climate events in the shadow of human encroachment.

+ A rhino is killed every 10 hours in Africa.

+ If all hunters thought of deer as their brothers and sisters would they kill more or less?

+ Elk researchers in Hells Canyon began poking through wolf excrement and discovered the digested remains of 181…grasshoppers. What, no sheep? I’m disappointed, gang. We sent you out there for livestock control. Get busy!

+ Meanwhile, two packs of wolves have now shown up right here on Our Little Mountain (AKA, Mount Hood)…

Photo: Defenders of Wildlife.

+ Instead of shipping it to Indian Country, nuclear waste should be stored in casks in the backyards of the corporate executives and government officials who created it…

December 2019

+ The thumb-sucking sadist Donald Trump, Jr. shot a rare Argali sheep in Mongolia. He killed the endangered species on a night hunt, using a laser-guided sight, while guarded by a US security team. Trump was retroactively given a “special permit” for the illegal kill after meeting with Mongolian president, Khaltmaagiin Battulga. Special permits pretty much describe the lifestyle of the Trump brood.

+ The State of Colorado has signed a contracted with Wildlife Services to slaughter black bears and mountain lions in the name of restoring mule deer populations. There’s just one problem: it’s widespread fracking that’s depleting mule deer populations, not predation by bears and cougars.

+ There’s so much oil and gas on the market and in the pipeline that Chevron was forced to take a $10 billion charge against its assets.

+ Natural gas is now driving a new spike in global emissions of greenhouse gases. Thank the Sierra Club, which kept urging natural gas as “bridge fuel.” I guess we finally know where the bridge led us…

+ Carbon off-sets were always more of a feel-good scam than any kind of solution. Now they don’t even feel good...

+ Remember how much sport the FoxNews crowd made over the bankruptcy of Solyndra, the solar company that got a measly subsidy (compared to coal & oil firms) in Obama time? They obsessed over it for months and months. Now you have the nation’s biggest coal companies, which have reaped in trillions in subsidies and tax breaks, and left behind trillions in damages: ruined landscapes,poisoned rivers, ravaged lungs and a climate gone haywire, going bankrupt week after week and not a word….

+ They’re converting the Swamp into an Oil Patch. High ranking Department of Interior official Douglas Domenech has been caught repeatedly used his government office to provide access to his former employer, the Koch-backed Texas Public Policy Foundation.

+ Brazil’s neo-fascist strongman Jair Bolsonaro lashed out at climate activist Greta Thunburg this week, calling her “a brat.” My money’s on the Kid against this creep…

+ It’s amazing how easily Trump can be owned. The question is are any of the Democrats as supple at sticking the knife in as the Kid?

+ According to data from NASA imagery, 75 percent of the fires in the Amazon originated inside beef ranching allotments.

+ Sometimes your wildest dreams come true…The Arctic is melting as much as 7-times faster than previously anticipated because of climate change. As the Arctic melts, it releases enormous bursts of methane, exacerbating climate change, which causes the Arctic to melt faster causing…fatal feedback loops.

+ Biden erupted again this week, telling environmental activists that if they wanted someone who was going to “ban fracking immediately” then they should vote for someone else. From your lips, Joe, to their ballots…

+ Can’t wait to hear Biden’s intemperate malarky when some bright young activist throws this in his face: the Paris Accords climate targets need to be 5 times stronger than they are to actually have any chance of working.

+ Victoria Falls has dried to a mere trickle

+ The fires sweeping across New South Wales and Queensland in Australia have already emitted 250 million tons of CO2, almost half of country’s annual emissions.

+ New research suggests that a similar fate may befall Antarctic ice, which will begin rapidly melting as the Southern Ocean warms. “Our work shows that very mild ocean warming, like what is happening right now,” warned the study’s lead author Dr. Catherine Beltran, “was the precursor of past ice retreat and that we should really worry about it today,”

+ At a climate change forum with high school students this week, Andrew Yang pledged to tax carbon at $40 a ton and have it escalate over time.

+ In the petrochemical belt of Houston, Beaumont and Port Arthur, Texas, one-in-three children attend school near high-risk facilities that store or use potentially dangerous chemicals.

+ After looking at 14 years of data from Nevada, scientists found thatlivestock grazing doesn’t help get rid of cheatgrass, a highly flammable invasive weed that is a prime fuel of Western range fires.

+ A white dude named Brett James Stimac got in his truck and drove three hours to the Red Lake Chippewa Reservation in Minnesota, trespassed his way to the dump and shot a 700-lb black bear as it was feeding. Stimac cut off the head, the paws, and left the rest of the corpse to rot. Bears are sacred to Ojibwe, nearly half the reservation is bear clan.

+ In a disposable society, even the most precious living things become trash receptacles.

+ Gavin Newsom and Madame Prosecutor both partied at Sean (Napster) Parker’s redwood-wrecking wedding party….

+ ExxonMobil’s 2019 Outlook for Energy undercuts their claim to be “fighting climate change” by predicting that “no reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector through 2040—and no date at which emissions reach net zero”…

+ Speaking of ExxonMobil one of their natural gas wells in Ohio released more methane into the atmosphere during a blowout in 2018 than some COUNTRIES do in a year…

+ And on the 7th day God rested, instead of fixing the fucking glitches in the operating software of the species he picked to run the place : “More than 3 in 4 U.S. adults and teenagers alike agree that humans are influencing the climate. But 43 percent of adults and 57 percent of teens cited ‘plastic bottles and bags’ as a ‘major’ contributor to climate change.”

+ This just in from the Gen. Westmoreland School of Forestry: We must burn and log the Redwoods to save them!

+ TVA, a federally owned utility that serves 10 million customers in seven southeastern states, is pressuring its power providers to sign longer contracts, locking them in for decades of coal and nuclear power with little flexibility use renewables such as wind or solar.

+ The Trump administration just pulled the plug on ToxMap, an online database allowed users to pull up detailed EPA data for each toxic release site, and to overlay other information, such as mortality statistics, onto those maps. They really don’t want you to know if you’re being poisoned, with what or by whom…

+ The groundwater in eastern Oregon’s Harney County is dropping by 8 feet a YEAR in some places…

+ The situation is just as bad, if not worse, in Arizona, where deep wells drilled by mega-farms are draining the desert state’s irreplaceable aquifers.

+ Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s former firm, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, has raked in $12 million from clients lobbying the Interior Department since his nomination—a 310% increase from the year before. And the investment is paying off, from oil leases to coal mine permits to water diversions.

+ Former SeaWorld dolphin trainer turned whistleblower Jeffrey Ventre on the moment the scales dropping from his eyes: “It’s like going through a one-way door. Once you see them in the wild—swimming in straight lines with straight dorsal fins—there’s really no going back.”

+ The Brazilian Cerrado loses an area the size of London in vegetative cover every three months…

+ The new acid test: the waters off the California coast seems to be acidifying at twice the rate of the global average. Has the word “acidification” ever been used in a presidential debate?

+ As his company, Murray Energy, sank into bankruptcy, Bob Murray paid himself $14 million for one year’s wages while his then-president, Robert D. Moore, who has since become chairman, earned $9 million a year, on top of his retention bonus. Meanwhile, Murray still had enough money left over to his climate denial campaigns.

+ Murray Energy may be seeking protection from its creditors, but coal’s death has been greatly exaggerated. The world burns 65 percent more coal today than it did in 2000, much of it in Asia, according to a new report by the International Energy Association.

+ Under pressure from the world’s biggest polluters, the UN climate talks in Madrid (COP25) fell apart without any deal. The conference couldn’t even manage to ‘accept’ the U.N.’s own IPCC report.

+ A single rancher in eastern Washington state has killed 26 wolves.

Posted in Environment0 Comments

CO2 and Climate Change, Old and New

by MANUEL GARCÍA, JR.

Pulp Mill, Longview, Washington. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

How long has science known about CO2-induced climate change, and are we clever enough today to geo-engineer our way out of cooking ourselves to extinction?

In brief: a long time, and most likely no.

Clive Thompson has written engagingly about the 19th century scientists — Joseph Fourier (1768-1830), Eunice Newton Foote (1819-1888), John Tyndall (1820-1893), Svante Arrhenius (1859-1927), Arvid Högbom (1857-1940), and Samuel Pierpont Langley (1834-1906) — whose work in aggregate pieced together the essential facts about CO2-induced global warming. [1]

In 1856 Eunice Newton Foote, an American woman, suffragette and amateur scientist, conducted the first known experiment in CO2-induced climate change science, which proved carbon dioxide and water vapor were radiant-heat trapping and retaining gases, and not thermally transparent as generally believed. In the scientific paper she submitted to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which had to be presented by a man) she prophetically observed: “An atmosphere of that gas would give to our earth a high temperature.”

Between 1859 and 1860 Irish physicist John Tyndall conducted many elaborate experiments that confirmed Eunice Newton Foote’s results with great precision (without acknowledging her, whether intentionally or out of ignorance is unknown). He found that CO2 could trap 1,000 times as much heat (infrared radiation) as dry air.

In 1896, after an arduous yearlong effort, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius created the first model of CO2-induced climate change, aided theoretically by geologist Arvid Högbom’s findings on the carbon cycle, and aided experimentally by Samuel Pierpont Langley’s thermal detector invention.

Quoting from Clive Thompson’s article:

When [Arrhenius] was done, he made a striking prediction: If you doubled the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, it would raise the world’s temperature by 5 to 6 degrees Celsius. Remarkably, that analysis holds up pretty well today, even in an age where climate analysis involves far more information and variables and are crunched by cloud supercomputers. Despite having done his work by hand, using data that even he regarded as woefully inadequate, Arrhenius reached “a conclusion that millions of dollars worth of research over the ensuing century hardly changed at all,” as Isabel Hilton wrote in 2008. The era of modern climate modeling was born. …[Arrhenius] expected it would take 3,000 years — fully 30 centuries — for CO2 levels in the atmosphere rise by 50%. Instead, [they] shot up by 30% in only one century.

In the century since Arrhenius (the 20th century), the scientific awareness of CO2-induced global warming skipped along to Guy Stewart Callendar in 1938, Hans Seuss in 1955, Roger Revelle in 1957, the computational three-dimensional Global Climate Model by Syukuro Manabe and Richard T. Wetherald in 1975 (where doubling CO2 in the model’s atmosphere gave a roughly 2°C rise in global temperature), and then to James E. Hansen’s striking Congressional testimony in 1988 that changes in the atmosphere due to human pollution “represent a major threat to international security and are already having harmful consequences over many parts of the globe.” [2]

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations was established in 1988, and since them we have all known or denied the truth of the matter, to variously fret gloomily or agitate frantically over it, and to governmentally ignore responding usefully to it.

Well, our food, wealth, comfort, entertainment and daydreams are all disgorged (or destroyed if you’re among the sacrificed) by fossil-fueled capitalism, so cook ourselves we must because we can’t bring ourselves to trim any of those economically fungible desirables. Can our clever technologists geo-engineer an atmospheric CO2 retrieval and sequestration technique? Today, many such ideas are being proposed and explored experimentally, which their promoters hope if developed successfully into patented salvations will shower them ceaselessly with torrents of gold.

One such project that has shown technical feasibility is the Carbfix Project in Iceland, where CO2 gas is mixed into and retained by a large quantity of water (salt or fresh) that is then injected under pressure deep underground (800 to 2000 meters) into formations of vesicular or porous basalt rock. Basalt is a mafic extrusive igneous rock formed from the rapid cooling of magnesium-rich and iron-rich lava exposed at or very near the surface of a terrestrial planet or a moon; for example at spreading centers between tectonic plates. Iceland sits athwart the Mid-Atlantic Spreading Center and is an island mountain of volcanic and geothermal activity. The Carbfix scientists and engineers have demonstrated the petrification of aqueous CO2 into carbonate rock nodules within basalt vesicles (pores). Basalt does not wash away under pressurized aqueous injection, as softer sedimentary rocks do, and the metals in basalt are needed to react with the carbonated water (ideally the CO2-water mixture having been pushed entirely into carbonic acid) to petrify it. [3]

The pumping of CO2 into deep basalt formations, for petrified sequestration, has been known scientifically since 1976 (first proposed by Italian physicist Cesare Marchetti) [4], [5]. In 2012, as a satirical hypothetical example of fossil-fueled fanaticism, I proposed that the United States capture all the CO2 released by burning the expected liquid fuel to be processed out of the Athabasca Oil Sands of Alberta, Canada (to be imported to the U.S. via the proposed Keystone Pipeline), by piping that CO2 300 kilometers (186 miles) west of the Oregon coast into the Pacific Ocean and then under extreme pressure down 2,700 meters (8,900 feet) into the basalt formations of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate. [6]

The difficulty with any carbon sequestration technique is demonstrating that it has a positive Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI).

Basically, is the amount of energy expended per unit mass of CO2 sequestered (the energy to capture, store, transport, pump and contain the CO2 underground) LESS THAN the energy liberated (with perhaps only 30% of it converted to useful work — mechanical/electrical energy/power/torque) from the combustion of whatever amount of fossil fuel produces that same unit mass of CO2?

If not (which has always been the case so far) then it is MORE EFFICIENT, and LESS CO2 releasing to- and accumulating in- the atmosphere, to not burn the fossil fuel in the first place. Consequently, it would be unnecessary to bother with the proposed geo-engineering scheme of CO2 retrieval and sequestration.

But even if such a sequestration scheme has a negative EROEI, wouldn’t it at least slow the overall rate of CO2 emissions from our fossil-fueled civilization?, and so slow the ever-increasing rate of global warming?

A better investment of the energy required for negative EROEI sequestration schemes would be to apply that fossil fuel-derived energy to the construction of reliable (well-known, old in concept advanced in construction) robust for the long-term ‘green’ energy technologies that REPLACE (not add to) an equivalent capacity (in Watts) of existing fossil-fueled power-generating and power-using infrastructure: a fossil-fueled conversion to a green energy future. This in fact is the only realistic and practical Green New Deal (GND) that we could have. We are locked into cooking ourselves disastrously but we could do it at a slower rate — and that is what a real GND would be.

To my mind the fact that terrible climatic things are unavoidably scheduled to happen does not mean that we — humanity — are physically helpless to prevent the worst of all possible fates, by vigorously responding with intelligent and cooperative social adaptations (lifestyle simplification and energy efficiency) and clever engineering for an ongoing and permanent transition from fossil fuels to green energy.

The state of the natural world is a mirror to our civilization in the same way that Dorian Gray’s poisonously false beauty was reflected by his hideously magical portrait picture.

Thanks to Katje Erickson for pointing me to items [1] and [3].

Notes.

[1] How 19th Century Scientists Predicted Global Warming by Clive Thompson (Today’s headlines make climate change seem like a recent discovery. But Eunice Newton Foote and others have been piecing it together for centuries.) 17 December 2019

[2] Climate Change Denial is Murder

[3] Researchers In Iceland Can Turn CO2 Into Rock. Could It Solve The Climate Crisis?, by Robin Young and Karyn Miller-Medzon, 10 December 2019

[4] Carbon sequestration

[5] Ocean storage of carbon dioxide

[6] Energy for Society in Balance with Nature

Posted in Environment0 Comments

Kill GDP to Help Save the Planet

by ROBERT HUNZIKER

Image Source: Ali Zifan – CC0

There’s a problem with America’s favorite statistic: GDP. It avoids pretty much everything that’s actually, truly, really good for society, including the importance of robust ecology. Still, it’s the biggest measure of what’s happening with the economy and used around the world, even though horribly flawed.

According to some forward thinkers, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the monetary value of all finished goods and services, is a distortion that needs fixing.

Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz’s (former chief economist of the World Bank) new book: Measuring What Counts: The Global Movement for Well-Being, The New Press, 2019 tackles the issue by exposing its paramount importance in judging how society gauges prosperity or alternatively the failure of prosperity, e.g. one-in-eight Americans (40 million) is on food stamps during the longest economic expansion in memory and 40-50% of Americans don’t have $400 readily available for emergencies. Is this failed prosperity?

GDP distorts reality by giving an appearance of real economic growth even as living standards stagnate for lower/middling classes. Additionally, GDP totally misses ecosystem collapse by abuse/misuse/overuse, which is only noticed by the general public after it’s way too late when it’s easily noticeable, even by those of low self-esteem that blindly follow tyrannical maniacs. Hmm.

According to Stiglitz:  “The world is facing three existential crises: (1) a climate crisis, (2) an inequality crisis and (3) a crisis in democracy… Yet the accepted ways by which we measure economic performance gives absolutely no hint that we might be facing a problem.”

Accordingly, politicians see positive GDP numbers, which inspires them to continue with the status quo, meaning they do not focus on key aspects for sustainability, as well as human well-being. GDP does not compute environmental degradation. GDP does not register societal divisions that build tension over massive wealth disparity. And, GDP overlooks calculations of lowered standards of living for the abandoned middle class, as they increasingly deploy mountain-loads of debt to support bogus lifestyles.

According to Pew Research Center: “In real terms average hourly earnings peaked more than 45 years ago.” (Source: For Most U.S. Workers, Real Wages Have Barely Budged in Decades, Pew Research Center, August 7, 2018) Where’s prosperity?

Furthermore, according to Stiglitz: ‘If growth is not sustainable because we are destroying the environment and using up scarce natural resources our statistics should warn us… If we measure the wrong thing, we will do the wrong thing.”

Stiglitz’s new book with co-authors French economists JeaPaul Fitoussi and Martine Durand discusses alternative metrics that more properly account for details like “sustainability” as well as “how people feel about their lives.”

In other words, GDP does not paint a true-life picture. Rather, it’s a wobbly ghostly statistic that measures business activity without consideration for humanity or ecology, begging the question: What’s really important in life?

GDP numbers do not hint at trouble with (1) sustainability of resources, (2) climate crises, or (3) the well-being of the people. Yet, all three are crucial issues under stress like never before.

As an interesting side note, according to Jorgen Randers’ A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, 2052 – A report to Club of Rome commemorating the 40th anniversary of The Limits to Growth, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012, there’s already a shift away from the use of GDP: “The sustainability revolution has already begun… The new paradigm already emerged forty years ago, or perhaps even fifty (with Rachel Carson in 1962). It has spread since, but it is still not mainstream. We have evolved an increased understanding of the need to replace fossil energy, but we have not really embarked on the challenge. And some — even in high places— have started to talk seriously about the need to replace GDP growth with growth in ‘well-being’ as the overriding societal goal.” (Randers, pg. 13)

Furthermore, GDP totally misses crucial points supporting societal existence from an ecological perspective, as stated by Christopher O. Clugston’s Blip, Humanity’s 300 Year Self-Terminating Experiment With Industrialism (BookLocker Press, 2019): “The premise of Blip is that increasingly pervasive global nonrenewable natural resource (NNR) scarcity is causing faltering global human prosperity, which is causing increasing global political instability, economic fragility and societal unrest. This scenario will intensity during the coming decades and culminate in humanity’s self-inflicted global societal (species) collapse, almost certainly by the year 2050.”

GDP does not calculate, does not represent, and does not hint at the scarcity value associated with overuse/abuse of natural resources accompanied by egregious planet-wide degradation, e.g. the gooey tar sands in Alberta, Canada (This is the World’s Most Destructive Oil Operation-and it’s Growing, National Geographic, 2019).

The missing GDP calculations result in cultural upheaval as people increasingly “hit the streets” in protest, aware that “something is not right.” And, the Canadian tar sands are proof positive that something is way-way-way off course. It literally frightens the daylights out of people that seriously contemplate future prospects for society. It’s an actual horror story in the making in full operation and actually celebrated by neoliberal nincompoops. No wonder kids are protesting in the streets; adults behave like bloody fools blinded to a self-destructive stupidity. Getting oil from gluey tar sands… Really!!! Or, how about fracking with toxic chemicals! Man alive, it’s a wonder there aren’t millions of people in the streets everyday.

According to NBC News (12-24-2019): “In 2019, demonstrations around the world, both peaceful and violent, were set off by social unrest over economic instability, government corruption, and inequality.”

(1) Hong Kong street protests, peaked at over 2 million people (2) Iran 304 people killed in protests over rising gasoline prices and government corruption (3) Iraq huge demonstrations over corruption in government with 354 killed (4) Lebanon a proposed internet fee brought hundreds of thousands to protest in the streets seeking economic reform and an end to government corruption (5) Chile a million protestors hit the streets sparked by a subway fare increase of 4 cents but really opposed to abuses by government, 27 dead so far (6) Columbia tens of thousands protested the government (7) Bolivia at least 17 killed as indigenous people protested a right-wing coup, tossing out Bolivia’s most effective president of all time for the people, Evo Morales (8) the Yellow Jacket movement in France continues to protest week-by-week over pension reform (9) anti-government protests are prevalent in Pakistan (10) Russian street protestors stepped up opposition against the government (11) India huge protests against the new anti-Muslim law (12) huge protests in Ecuador over austerity measures (13) Catalonians in Spain hit the streets in protests and want to break away from the central government (14) Indonesia thousands hit the street to protest a new criminal code outlawing sex outside of marriage (15) Netherlands protesting farmers on tractors plugged up 700 miles of highways to protest Dutch parliament claims that agriculture is responsible for high emissions (16) Peruvians blockaded copper mines after larger protests against the corruption of government (17) Haiti massive demonstrations over shortages of food, oil, and electrical power, 30 dead.

Young people that see the future melting away into viscous piles of neoliberal crap lead the protests. The common themes are injustice, government corruption, unemployment, poverty, lack of government services, and a failure to respect the environment, as they rage against the traditional political class.

It’s likely only just begun.

Posted in USA, Environment0 Comments

Bad Planet

by JOHN DAVIS

Pulp mills and chip barges, Columbia River. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

Australia is an island continent composed of a vast treeless desert edged with a fringe of heavily urbanized temperate bush where the fierce heat of the land is moderated by onshore ocean breezes from the Pacific to the East and the Indian Ocean to the West. Now, areas of this temperate fringe are aflame as hot desert winds fan bush fires amidst a record series of early-summer heat waves. A world audience watches in horror as news reaches them framed in terms of houses destroyed, lives lost, koalas scorched and kookaburras that no longer sing in the oppressive heat. Greta tweets, “Not even catastrophes like these seem to bring any political action. How is this possible?

But it is indeed possible, probable, and arguably even inevitable because the climate crisis, née global warming, is embedded in a mostly white, liberal, humanist civilization whose peoples, at least since the middle of the fifteenth century, have privileged the appropriation of land, labor and geological resources over an ecological accommodation of the rest of the planet. It is this ideology, rooted in capital accumulation, that now manifests as extreme weather events. Their remediation requires not just political action, but an almost unimaginable civilizational reboot. We refuse to make this leap because making it threatens the accustomed terms of our existence.

Despite conventional green-wisdom, and Greta’s urging, changing our predominant energy source to real-time solar, wind, photovoltaic, and hydro from the harvesting of prehistoric, subterranean stores of fossil biomass does not change the underlying modes of subjugation practiced by the capitalist class hell bent on resource extraction. Alternative energy sources promote an extension of appropriation – the seizure of cobalt and lithium, for instance, in addition to the continued extraction of coal and oil. Having reached the ends of the earth, the territory of depredation is, even now, being technologically extended to the seabed where polymetallic nodules await harvesting deep beneath the world’s oceans to provide copper, manganese, nickel and cobalt –all elements essential to the chimera of new ‘clean’, ‘renewable’ energy. Can we doubt the extractive implications of state-sponsored and commercial space exploration?

The climate action agendas proposed or enacted across the planet, including the Green New Deal, represent opportunities to replace, and potentially to expand energy use – and thus to expand the despoliation of ecosystems, human culture, communities and individual lives. They will do so by continuing to feed the algorithms of acquisition and over-consumption (by some) that Timothy Morton, Jared Diamond and other thinkers source to the beginnings of agriculture.

Kathryn Yusoff, a professor at the University of London, uses the construct of the Anthropocene to frame her critique of colonialism and slavery in service to capital accumulation. In A Billion Black Anthropocenes or None, 2019, published on-demand by the University of Minnesota Press, its small pages packed with academic prose, she writes, “The solutions and the proposals are all about the continuance of the current stain of inequality, powered by other means in a future that continues to privilege the privileged. The Anthropocene is the white man’s over-burden.”

She makes the argument that until the global North stops oppressing the global South, in the historic and present binary of a white bourgeoisie subjugating black and brown people in order to extract an economic surplus, there can be no profound healing of the ills that plague the planet. She suggests a response to the climate crisis, more subtly phrased than ‘civilizational reboot’, but with a similar impulse, when she chides her readers “to think about encountering the coming storm in ways that do not facilitate its permanent renewal”. Artfully couched, her words barely conceal the radicalism required by their premise.

A response to a problematic framed by millennia can usefully be built around the armature of the Anthropocene, which demarks the onset of a planetary epoch characterized by human production, rather than the cyclical, deep time, geological impacts that have hitherto served to delineate them. The new construct demands an investigation into its ideological underpinnings. Yusoff establishes a baseline of enquiry by suggesting that, “The Earth is massively geo-engineered, that may be what the word Anthropocene actually means.” She points out that the European program of geologic appropriation, initially and most egregiously exercised in the Americas, was achieved by the enslavement of Africans and indigenous peoples. Slavery, she writes, “…weaponized the redistribution of energy around the globe through the flesh of black bodies”. It is those bodies that, “began the work of the accumulations and which have now coalesced as the Anthropocene as an expression of geotrauma.”

She further argues that the coal mined in Britain during the nineteenth century and used to fuel that country’s industrial revolution, often cited as the proximate cause of anthropogenic global warming, was mined by men inured to their task by the pre-eminent colonial drug crop of sugar, first harvested by slave labor starting in Madeira in the middle of the fifteenth century, and later in the Americas. Tea and tobacco, produced by black and brown field workers in conditions that varied from slavery to serfdom, are similarly implicated in the bio-chemical support of the drudgery endured by Britain’s industrial working class, and thus in the creation of deleterious climate impacts. But she notes that, “While Blackness is the energy and flesh of the Anthropocene, it is excluded from the wealth of its accumulation. Rather Blackness must absorb the excess of that surplus as toxicity, pollution, and the intensification of the storm. Again, and again.”

In the United States, slavery was embraced (until it wasn’t) by white liberal society as the cost of doing business. In the event, Jim Crow ensured a continuation of the subjugation of black bodies, their humanity nullified, based not on the overt cruelties of slavery but on the implicit degradations of racism. Today, we live with that legacy, which runs deep in the minds and bodies of Americans. We live in a materiality that is often wrought by black and brown bodies, their work shadowed in the mined mineralogy of our land and oceans, the production of our farmlands, and the infrastructures of our industries and transportation systems. Prison labor and inmate fire-fighters are but the most visible evidence of an exclusionary humanism that, as Yusoff suggests, “Renders Blackness always belated in time and therefore never fully now and human”.

The precise calendrics of the golden spike, the marker that delineates the beginning of the Anthropocene as a geological epoch, remain highly contested. The invention of the steam engine in the late eighteenth century, the onset of the British Industrial Revolution in Britain, and the Atomic Age, located in the mid-twentieth century, have all attracted support. Yusoff emphatically states that, “The Anthropocene is a project initiated and executed through anti-Blackness and inhuman subjective modes, from 1492 to the present.” Columbus worked to bring African slaves to the Portuguese sugar plantations on Madeira before voyaging to the Americas and initiating the enslavement of its indigenous peoples. He thus arrived in the New World well practiced in the colonial arts of appropriation and subjugation.

The 1619 Project published in The New York Times, August 18, 2019, attempts to establish the arrival of more than twenty enslaved Africans, subsequently sold to the Virginia colonists – four hundred years ago – as the true foundation of this country. Nicole Hannah-Jones, who inspired the project, declares, “America was not yet America, but this was the moment it began.”

Whether the choice is 1492 or 1619, the territory we now call the United States is deeply implicated in the entwined histories of slavery and the Anthropocene. Yusoff demonstrates that the geological construct is as much the product of a billion nameless black and brown bodies subjugated by white Europeans as it is of the time-stamped deployment of innovative technologies. Slavery in America can be seen as a strange, bio-mechanical conflation of the two: historian Edward Baptist makes the point that it was the ‘whipping machine’, methodically operated by white overseers, that drove the productivity of the plantations in the southern states. While the natality of both the Anthropocene and ‘the idea of America’ remain contested, it is now abundantly clear that the colonial project that began in the Americas in 1492 substantiated a modernity based on the appropriation of land, labor, and geological resources in service to capital accumulation. It made a world that must now end, if, as Yusoff writes, “another relation to the earth can begin”.

As Australia burns, and Greta fulminates, it is the dark histories of race, subjugation and violent appropriation that must be reconciled before we can begin the work of repairing the planet. David Hammons, the New York and Los Angeles artist, notes in an interview with Calvin Tompkins, published in the December 9, 2019, New Yorker, that, “Trump is the truth about America, because America has been like this forever. White people haven’t seen it, but we have.”

Nicole Hannah-Jones and Kathryn Yusoff may differ on the precise meaning of Hammons’ ‘forever’, but along with the artist, they are all agreed that America is held hostage by its underlying racism. A resolution of the exclusionary practices of white liberal humanism is fundamental to the solving of America’s and the World’s climate crisis – unless we adopt Hammons’ nihilistic fatalism expressed in his subsequent remark that,

“You know, the reason we never see aliens is that everyone in the galaxy knows that this planet is a bad planet. They all know to stay away.”

We do not have that choice.

Posted in Campaigns, Environment0 Comments

The Key to the Environmental Crisis is Beneath Our Feet

by ELLEN BROWN

Solid-waste power plant, Keizer, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

The Green New Deal resolution that was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives in February hit a wall in the Senate, where it was called unrealistic and unaffordable. In a Washington Post article titled “The Green New Deal Sets Us Up for Failure. We Need a Better Approach,” former Colorado governor and Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper framed the problem like this:

The resolution sets unachievable goals. We do not yet have the technology needed to reach “net-zero greenhouse gas emissions” in 10 years. That’s why many wind and solar companies don’t support it. There is no clean substitute for jet fuel. Electric vehicles are growing quickly, yet are still in their infancy. Manufacturing industries such as steel and chemicals, which account for almost as much carbon emissions as transportation, are even harder to decarbonize.

Amid this technological innovation, we need to ensure that energy is not only clean but also affordable. Millionas of Americans struggle with “energy poverty.” Too often, low-income Americans must choose between paying for medicine and having their heat shut off. …

If climate change policy becomes synonymous in the U.S. psyche with higher utility bills, rising taxes and lost jobs, we will have missed our shot.

The problem may be that a transition to 100% renewables is the wrong target. Reversing climate change need not mean emptying our pockets and tightening our belts. It is possible to sequester carbon and restore our collapsing ecosystem using the financial resources we already have, and it can be done while at the same time improving the quality of our food, water, air and general health.

The Larger Problem – and the Solution – Is in the Soil

Contrary to popular belief, the biggest environmental polluters are not big fossil fuel companies. They are big agribusiness and factory farming, with six powerful food industry giants – Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Dean Foods, Dow AgroSciences, Tyson and Monsanto (now merged with Bayer) – playing a major role. Oil-dependent farming, industrial livestock operations, the clearing of carbon-storing fields and forests, the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and the combustion of fuel to process and distribute food are estimated to be responsible for as much as one-half of human-caused pollution. Climate change, while partly a consequence of the excessive relocation of carbon and other elements from the earth into the atmosphere, is more fundamentally just one symptom of overall ecosystem distress from centuries of over-tilling, over-grazing, over-burning, over-hunting, over-fishing and deforestation.

Big Ag’s toxin-laden, nutrient-poor food is also a major contributor to the U.S. obesity epidemic and many other diseases. Yet these are the industries getting the largest subsidies from U.S. taxpayers, to the tune of more than $20 billion annually. We don’t hear about this for the same reason that they get the subsidies – they have massively funded lobbies capable of bribing their way into special treatment.

The story we do hear, as Judith Schwartz observes in The Guardian, is, “Climate change is global warming caused by too much CO2 in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels. We stop climate change by making the transition to renewable energy.” Schwartz does not discount this part of the story but points to several problems with it:

One is the uncomfortable fact that even if, by some miracle, we could immediately cut emissions to zero, due to inertia in the system it would take more than a century for CO2 levels to drop to 350 parts per million, which is considered the safe threshold. Plus, here’s what we don’t talk about when we talk about climate: we can all go solar and drive electric cars and still have the problems – the unprecedented heat waves, the wacky weather – that we now associate with CO2-driven climate change.

But that hasn’t stopped investors, who see the climate crisis as simply another profit opportunity. According to a study by Morgan Stanley analysts reported in Forbes in October, halting global warming and reducing net carbon emissions to zero would take an investment of $50 trillion over the next three decades, including $14 trillion for renewables; $11 trillion to build the factories, batteries and infrastructure necessary for a widespread switch to electric vehicles; $2.5 trillion for carbon capture and storage; $20 trillion to provide clean hydrogen fuel for power, cars and other industries, and $2.7 trillion for biofuels. The article goes on to highlight the investment opportunities presented by these challenges by recommending various big companies expected to lead the transition, including  Exxon, Chevron, BP, General Electric, Shell and similar corporate giants – many of them the very companies blamed by Green New Deal advocates for the crisis.

A Truly Green New Deal

There is a much cheaper and faster way to sequester carbon from the atmosphere that doesn’t rely on these corporate giants to transition us to 100% renewables. Additionally, it can be done while at the same time reducing the chronic diseases that impose an even heavier cost on citizens and governments. Our most powerful partner is nature itself, which over hundreds of millions of years has evolved the most efficient carbon sequestration system on the planet. As David Perry writes on the World Economic Forum website:

This solution leverages a natural process that every plant undergoes, powered by a source that is always available, costs little to nothing to run and does not cause further pollution. This power source is the sun, and the process is photosynthesis.

A plant takes carbon dioxide out of the air and, with the help of sunlight and water, converts it to sugars. Every bit of that plant – stems, leaves, roots – is made from carbon that was once in our atmosphere. Some of this carbon goes into the soil as roots. The roots, then, release sugars to feed soil microbes. These microbes perform their own chemical processes to convert carbon into even more stable forms.

Perry observes that before farmland was cultivated, it had soil carbon levels of from 3% to 7%. Today, those levels are roughly 1% carbon. If every acre of farmland globally were returned to a soil carbon level of just 3%, 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide would be removed from the atmosphere and stored in the soil – equal to the amount of carbon that has been drawn into the atmosphere since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution 200 years ago. The size of the potential solution matches the size of the problem.

So how can we increase the carbon content of soil? Through “regenerative” farming practices, says Perry, including planting cover crops, no-till farming, rotating crops, reducing chemicals and fertilizers, and managed grazing (combining trees, forage plants and livestock together as an integrated system, a technique called “silvopasture”). These practices have been demonstrated to drive carbon into the soil and keep it there, resulting in carbon-enriched soils that are healthier and more resilient to extreme weather conditions and show improved water permeability, preventing the rainwater runoff that contributes to rising sea levels and rising temperatures. Evaporation from degraded, exposed soil has been shown to cause 1,600% more heat annually than all the world’s powerhouses combined. Regenerative farming methods also produce increased microbial diversity, higher yields, reduced input requirements, more nutritious harvests and increased farm profits.

These highly favorable results were confirmed by Paul Hawken and his team in the project that was the subject of his best-selling 2016 book, “Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.” The project involved evaluating the 100 most promising solutions to the environmental crisis for cost and effectiveness. The results surprised the researchers themselves. The best-performing sector was not “Transport” or “Materials” or “Buildings and Cities” or even “Electricity Generation.” It was the sector called “Food,” including how we grow our food, market it and use it. Of the top 30 solutions, 12 were various forms of regenerative agriculture, including silvopasture, tropical staple trees, conservation agriculture, tree intercropping, managed grazing, farmland restoration and multistrata agroforestry.

How to Fund It All

If regenerative farming increases farmers’ bottom lines, why aren’t they already doing it? For one thing, the benefits of the approach are not well known. But even if they were, farmers would have a hard time making the switch. As noted in a Rolling Stone article titled “How Big Agriculture Is Preventing Farmers From Combating the Climate Crisis”:

[I]implementing these practices requires an economic flexibility most farmers don’t have, and which is almost impossible to achieve within a government-backed system designed to preserve a large-scale, corporate-farming monoculture based around commodity crops like corn and soybeans, which often cost smaller farmers more money to grow than they can make selling.

Farmers are locked into a system that is destroying their farmlands and the planet, because a handful of giant agribusinesses have captured Congress and the regulators. One proposed solution is to transfer the $20 billion in subsidies that now go mainly to Big Ag into a fund to compensate small farmers who transition to regenerative practices. We also need to enforce the antitrust laws and break up the biggest agribusinesses, something for which legislation is now pending in Congress.

At the grassroots level, we can vote with our pocketbooks by demanding truly nutritious foods. New technology is in development that can help with this grassroots approach by validating how nutrient-dense our foods really are. One such device, developed by Dan Kittredge and team, is a hand-held consumer spectrometer called a Bionutrient Meter, which tests nutrient density at point of purchase. The goal is to bring transparency to the marketplace, empowering consumers to choose their foods based on demonstrated nutrient quality, providing economic incentives to growers and grocers to drive regenerative practices across the system. Other new technology measures nutrient density in the soil, allowing farmers to be compensated in proportion to their verified success in carbon sequestration and soil regeneration.

Granted, $20 billion is unlikely to be enough to finance the critically needed transition from destructive to regenerative agriculture, but Congress can supplement this fund by tapping the deep pocket of the central bank. In the last decade, the Fed has demonstrated that its pool of financial liquidity is potentially limitless, but the chief beneficiaries of its largess have been big banks and their wealthy clients. We need a form of quantitative easing that actually serves the local productive economy. That might require modifying the Federal Reserve Act, but Congress has modified it before. The only real limit on new money creation is consumer price inflation, and there is room for a great deal more money to be pumped into the productive local economy before that ceiling is hit than is circulating in it now. For a detailed analysis of this issue, see my earlier articles here and here and latest book, “Banking on the People.”

The bottom line is that saving the planet from environmental destruction is not only achievable, but that by focusing on regenerative agriculture and tapping up the central bank for funding, the climate crisis can be addressed without raising taxes and while restoring our collective health.

Posted in Environment0 Comments

Climate Change Accounting: The Failure of COP25

by BINOY KAMPMARK

Prior to the UN Convention on Climate Change talks held in Madrid, the sense that tradition would assert itself was hard to buck. Weariness and frustration came in the wake of initial high minded optimism. Delegates spent an extra two days and nights attempting to reach a deal covering carbon reduction measures before the Glasgow conference in 2020. The gathering became the longest set of climate talks in history, exceeding the time spent at the 2011 Durban meeting by 44 hours.

As Climate Home News noted, Durban still stood out as being worthier for having “produced a deal between countries that laid the foundations for the Paris Agreement.” In stark contrast, “Madrid produced a weak gesture toward raising climate targets and failed to agree for the second year in a row on rules to govern carbon markets.”

The UN Secretary General António Guterres was all lament. “The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaption and finance to tackle the climate crisis.” He hoped that the next year would see “all countries commit to do what science tells us is necessary to reach carbon neutrality in 2050 and no more than 1.5 degree temperature rise.”

The wisdom of COP25 remains similar to that of previous gatherings on climate: politics and environment do not mix well. Big powers and heavy polluters stuck to their stubborn positions, stressing the merits of loose, open markets to solve the problem, notably in terms of reducing carbon emissions; smaller states more concerned by their actual disappearance lobbied European, Latin American and African allies for firmer commitments and pledges.

Australia was also confirmed as one of the chief spoilers, if not outright saboteurs, at the show, noted for its insistence that it be allowed to claim a reduction of its abatement for the 2021-30 Paris Accord. This, went the argument, was due to its own excelling in meeting the 2012-20 Kyoto Protocol period. Previous good conduct could justify current bad and future behaviour. What Canberra offered the globe was an accounting model of deception, exploiting a regulatory loophole in place of lowering emissions. It lacked legal plausibility, given that both Kyoto and Paris are separate treaties.

Former French environment minister Luciana Tubiana was clear about the implications of this idea. “If you want this carryover,” she told the Financial Times, “it is just cheating. Australia was willing in a way to destroy the whole system, because that is the way to destroy the whole Paris agreement.”

Other states were also noted in performing roles of obstruction, including Saudi Arabia, Brazil and the United States. These parties were particular keen to push their differences with other states over Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, a provision dealing with mechanisms and models of trading in emission reductions. Such trade can have a habit of losing validity when put into practice; the issue of transparency remains a considerable problem in such markets.

The US statement at the conference emphasised realism and pragmatism “backed by a record of real world results.” (Real world results tend to exclude environmental ruination for unrepentant polluters.) Market results were primary; environmental matters were subordinate to such dictates. Usual mantras were proffered: innovation and open markets produced wealth, but also “fewer emissions, and mores secure sources of energy.” Despite leaving as a party to the Paris Agreement, “We remain fully committed to working with you, our global partners, to enhance resilience, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and prepare for and respond to natural disasters.”

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro reconfirmed his climate change scepticism, claiming that the entire issue of COP25 could be put down to commerce. “I don’t know why people don’t understand that it’s just a commercial game.” The Europeans, he suggested, were merely being irksome about cash and meddling. “I’d like to know,” he posed rhetorically to journalists, “has there been a resolution for Europe to be reforested, or are they just going to keep bothering Brazil?”

Brazil’s environment minister Ricardo Salles, known to some as Minister for Deforestation, was similarly keen to place the blame elsewhere. He had demanded, bowl in hand, some $10 billion under the Paris Climate deal to combat deforestation in 2020. All in all, he was not optimistic. “Rich countries did not want to pay up.”

Like Australia, Brazil’s environmental ploy is driven by creative accounting, an attempt to leverage previous supposed good conduct in the climate change stakes, playing accumulated carbon credits from Kyoto to meet those under the Paris arrangements. Using open market rationales, Salles condemned the “protectionist vision” that had taken hold: “Brazil and other countries that could provide carbon credits because of their forests and good environmental practices came out losers.” In an act of some spite, the minister would subsequently post a tweet featuring a photo of a platter heavy with meats. “To compensate for our emissions at COP, a vegetarian lunch!”

Madrid will be remembered for its stalemate on carbon credits and the botched rule book on carbon trading. An effort spearheaded by Costa Rica, including Germany, Britain and New Zealand, to convince states to adopt the San Jose principles, with a prohibition on the use of carbon credit carryover along with other Kyoto gains, was rejected.

COP25 again exposed that degree of prevalent anarchy, if not gangsterism, in global climate change policy. The emphasis, then, is on attempts and arrangements made within regional areas: EU policy on de-carbonised economies (albeit resisted within by such states as Poland), and bilateral arrangements (the EU and China). As these take place, the apocalyptic message led by activists such as Greta Thunberg will become more desperate.

Posted in Climate Crisis, Environment0 Comments

Top Global Scientists Call for ‘Profound Food System Transformation’ to Combat Extreme Malnutrition

Unless radical changes are made, warns the lead author of a new WHO report, “the growth and development of individuals and societies for decades to come” are at risk.

by: Jessica Corbett,

cover photo for WHO report

A new multi-paper World Health Organization report published Monday in The Lancet details the need to overhaul global food systems to address mass malnutrition. (Photo: Bartosz Hadyniak/Getty Images)

A multi-part World Health Organization report published Monday in the British medical journal The Lancet detailed the need to urgently transform the world’s failing food systems to combat the coexistence of undernourishment and obesity—or the “double burden of malnutrition.”

“Without a profound food system transformation, the economic, social, and environmental costs of inaction will hinder the growth and development of individuals and societies for decades to come.”
—Francesco Branca, WHO

Based on global data from recent decades, the WHO report estimated that more than 150 million children are stunted worldwide while nearly 2.3 billion children and adults—about 30% of the planet’s human population—are overweight.

Dr. Francesco Branca, the report’s lead author and director of the WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, said that “we can no longer characterize countries as low-income and undernourished, or high-income and only concerned with obesity.”

As he put it: “We are facing a new nutrition reality.”

This new reality “is driven by changes to the food system, which have increased availability of ultra-processed foods that are linked to increased weight gain, while also adversely affecting infant and pre-schooler diets,” said co-author and University of North Carolina professor Barry Popkin. “These changes include disappearing fresh food markets, increasing supermarkets, and the control of the food chain by supermarkets, and global food, catering and agriculture companies in many countries.”

Considering these changes, Branca explained that “all forms of malnutrition have a common denominator—food systems that fail to provide all people with healthy, safe, affordable, and sustainable diets.”

“Changing this will require action across food systems—from production and processing, through trade and distribution, pricing, marketing, and labeling, to consumption and waste,” he added. “All relevant policies and investments must be radically re-examined.”

This is especially true for the more than a third of low- and middle-income countries that face “the two extremes of malnutrition.” A WHO statement highlighted the following regions: sub-Saharan Africa, south and east Asia, and the Pacific.

The Lancet@TheLancetReplying to @TheLancet and 6 others

More than one in three low-income and middle-income countries face both extremes of #malnutrition. NEW Series with @WHO calls for a new global #foodsystems approach to help reduce #undernutrition and #obesity at the same time https://hubs.ly/H0mfY8f0

View image on Twitter

Authors of the WHO report urged world governments, the United Nations, civil society, academics, the media, donors, the private sector, and economic platforms to pursue fundamental changes to global food systems with the aim of ending mass malnutrition. Doing so, according to the authors, means seeking assistance from grassroots groups, farmers and their unions, faith-based leaders, advocates for planetary health, leaders of green companies, local politicians, and consumer associations.

“Given the political economy of food, the commodification of food systems, and growing patterns of inequality worldwide, the new nutrition reality calls for a broadened community of actors who work in mutually reinforcing and interconnected ways on a global scale,” said Branca. “Without a profound food system transformation, the economic, social, and environmental costs of inaction will hinder the growth and development of individuals and societies for decades to come.”

The report acknowledged that fighting malnutrition requires successfully promoting healthier diets, which WHO defines as: optimal breastfeeding practices in the first two years; a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fiber, nuts, and seeds; and limited amounts of animal products—particularly processed meats—as well as foods and beverages high in sugar, saturated fat, trans fat, and salt.

World Health Organization (WHO)✔@WHOReplying to @WHO

View image on Twitter

Healthy diets means:
-optimal practices in the first 2 years
-a diversity & abundance of , wholegrains, fibre, nuts, seeds
-modest amounts of animal products
-min. processed meat
-min. foods & beverages high in energy & added amounts of sugar, saturated fat, trans fat,

“Today’s publication of the WHO Series on the Double Burden of Malnutrition comes after 12 months of Lancet articles exploring nutrition in all its forms,” wrote The Lancet editor-in-chief Dr. Richard Horton in an editorial accompanying the report.

“With these and other articles across Lancet journals throughout 2019, it has become clear that nutrition and malnutrition need to be approached from multiple perspectives,” Horton continued, “and although findings have sometimes converged, there is still work to be done to understand malnutrition’s multiple manifestations.”

In January, as Common Dreams reported, more than three dozen experts with the EAT-Lancet Commission called for a “global agricultural revolution” and people worldwide to adopt a “planetary health diet” to tackle the harmful nutritional and environmental impacts of the world’s unhealthy, unsustainable food system.

Co-lead commissioner Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard University explained at the time that “to be healthy, diets must have an appropriate calorie intake and consist of a variety of plant-based foods, low amounts of animal-based foods, unsaturated rather than saturated fats, and few refined grains, highly processed foods, and added sugars.”

Posted in Education, Environment, Health, Human Rights0 Comments

“Stop What You’re Doing and Watch This”: Intense Praise for Apocalypse-Themed Climate 2020 Campaign Ad

“It’s a catastrophe of our own creation—but it doesn’t have to end this way,” says Andrew Romanoff, a Democratic hopeful for U.S. Senate running in Colorado.

by: Andrea Germanos,

A screengrab from Andrew Romanoff's first campaign ad entitled "Home."

A screengrab from Andrew Romanoff’s first campaign ad entitled “Home.” In the campaign video, Romanoff says of bold climate action that “those who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those who are already doing it.” (Photo: Romanoff for Senate)

“Stop what you’re doing and watch this—all the way through.”

That was the reaction Monday from youth-led climate group Sunrise Movement to a gripping new apocalypse-themed campaign ad rolled out by Democrat Andrew Romanoff, who’s running in Colorado’s 2020 primary race for U.S. Senate.

“I have never ever seen anything like this before.” —journalist Eric HolthausEntitled “Home,” the four-minute video opens with an apocalyptic scene in Colorado Springs in “the not-so-distant future” in which a family appears to be taking shelter from the ravages of the climate crisis.

“I just hope we can see the sunshine again one day,” a young girl says.

Watch:

The ad—the first of Romanoff’s primary campaign—also features a clip of former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Romanoff’s strongest opponent in the Democratic contest. Hickenlooper is seen testifying before the U.S. Senate in 2013 when he sat down beside representatives of Halliburton to assure fracking’s safety. In addition to footage of recent climate disasters, the ad also features clips of Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg as well as Green New Deal champions like Sunrise and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

Romanoff, a former state legislator, urges voters to seize this “once or perhaps last in a lifetime chance to rescue the world we know” and act on the climate crisis, which he calls “a catastrophe of our own making.”

“We can choose a different path,” says Romanoff.

Sunrise was just part of a large chorus of progressives singing the new ad’s praises Monday.

“Those who say it cannot be done, should not interupt those who are already doing it.” —Andrew Romanoff, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate

Journalist Shaun King said it “may be the most powerful campaign ad of 2019.”

Climate activist Anna Jane Joyner declared it the “most powerful political ad I’ve ever seen.”

This “is the most powerful political ad about climate change I’ve ever seen,” said EndClimateSilence.org founder Dr. Genevieve Guenther. A “new world is emerging, it just is.”

“I have never ever seen anything like this before,” said meteorologist and journalist Eric Holthaus.

Romanoff’s platform includes addressing the climate crisis by banning fracking and switching to renewables to meet all electricity needs by 2035. His platform also calls for raising the minimum wage and supports Medicare for All.

Hickenlooper and Romanoff are vying for the seat currently held by Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican. Gardner, for his part, called Romanoff’s ad “insane.”

David Sirota@davidsirota

GOP Sen. @CoryGardner is a climate change denier — so he’s now responding to @Romanoff2020’s new ad with a personal insult.

It’s a VERY good sign that the ad is extremely effective. #copolitics #cosen https://twitter.com/CoryGardner/status/1206593084584157185 …Cory Gardner@CoryGardnerThis ad is insane. Can someone check on Andrew Romanoff? #copolitics #cosen https://twitter.com/Romanoff2020/status/1206574705110597632 …

In the ad, Romanoff directly confronts those standing in the way of the Green New Deal and other calls for bold action by saying, “Those who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt those who are already doing it.”

Posted in USA, Environment0 Comments

Diversity Rules Environment, OK?

by STEPHEN CORRY

Photograph Source: Nathaniel St. Clair

The road to perdition has ever been accompanied by lip service to an ideal.

– Einstein

Could some of the most talked of solutions to climate chaos have the reverse effect and make things worse? Some critics think so, and they aren’t “deniers” who think climate change isn’t real. The concept of “net zero” carbon emissions, for example, might actually help industry pollute, because one of the commonest ways to reach for it is through “carbon offsets.” This means that if a corporation is responsible for a ton of carbon dioxide emissions – which is bad – but at the same time it funds a project which “captures” (or “sequesters”) a ton of carbon – which is good – then the “net emissions” come to zero, as one is subtracted from, or “offset” against, the other.

If the numbers could be accurately calculated (though that’s impossible and offsets invariably exaggerate the amount of greenhouse gases absorbed or reduced), then the corporation could pollute as much as it liked because it would be funding someone else to do the equivalent “anti-polluting,” and clean up its waste. It’s like leaving a trail of litter as you walk and paying someone to sweep up a street somewhere else, usually on the other side of the world. The reality is complicated, but the simple truth is that the schemes routinely fail: The sweeper may be just pretending to clean, or even trying, but failing to cope with the mess.

The only reliable way currently known to “capture” significant carbon at a reasonable cost is to plant trees. But many offset projects sow fast-growing tree crops like eucalyptus and acacia, to make money. This actually increases rather than reduces carbon: Existing vegetation has to be cleared and the new plantations are more liable to fires, which spew out vast amounts of pollution. Many such crops will take decades before they start absorbing much carbon. Equally damaging plantations, like oil palm and rubber which take over people’s lands and destroy biodiversity, are passed off as environmentally friendly because the UN also defines them as “forest.” Countries such as Madagascar and Indonesia claim to be increasing forest cover when they’re actually clearing existing vegetation to sow these new plantations. Claiming such destruction is good for the environment would be comic if it weren’t so tragic.

Another approach to offsetting is to get someone to agree not to cut timber which would otherwise be felled. This is supposed to avoid future emissions –though it’s important to note that it doesn’t actually reduce existing carbon at all. It’s known in the jargon as REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) and the “+” stands for the conservation of existing forests. Hundreds of such projects have been around for many years but with very scant results. One problem is that undertakings not to log are agreed by those who don’t have the power, or perhaps even the intention, to stop it, and trees not felled one year can still be cut the next. Trying to bind communities into contracts lasting for generations is effectively impossible.

Overall, there are many reasons why offsetting is rarely what it pretends, and critics disparagingly call it, “payment to pollute.” One study shows that almost all such projects – an astonishing 85% – simply fail.[1] Nevertheless, in spite of the problems, offsetting remains a multibillion dollar industry, with lots of people capturing a lot of money for themselves rather than sequestering any significant atmospheric carbon.

Reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases – the thing needed to slow global warming – is a very different thing from supposedly reducing “net” emissions, but it would be a much more drastic step. It would entail cutting energy consumption, curtailing industrial growth, decreasing military activity –one of the biggest polluters of all but rarely mentioned by climate activists – and even using the energy-hungry internet less. One “artificial intelligence” training session, for example, burns about the same energy as five cars during their whole lifetimes,[2] and even emails waste millions of tons of carbon (spam alone uses about the same as the entire population of San Francisco flying to New York every two weeks).[3] Genuinely reducing emissions would mean changing the overall direction of an industrialized society which has sought continual “growth” particularly over the last generation. It would also entail a massive erosion in the power of the oil industry which is so enmeshed with the world’s major governments, and goes to great lengths to ensure leaders hostile to it are kept from high office.

In spite of the criticisms around “net zero,” it remains the stated goal of most climate activism – perhaps because “real zero” emissions are seen as unrealistic, and there’s pressure to do something quickly. Calls for governments simply to “listen to scientists,” or to “the public” at large, do not suggest concrete solutions, probably intentionally.

“Net zero” through offsetting is the wrong path, but could the current enthusiasm about a “green new deal” be just as bad? It’s largely about job creation in new and supposedly “green” technologies, and it combines environmental concerns with the need to alleviate unemployment. The “green” part is largely focused on alternative, “clean” energy sources, such as solar and wind – the “renewables” – but there’s a problem with them too: Production of the batteries they currently need to store their energy uses up yet more fossil fuel and wreaks yet more environmental damage. (Fuels such as oil or coal don’t need batteries because the energy is already stored inside them.) Again, the thing which would guarantee to make a big and fast difference – a contraction of industry – forms no part of any proposed “deal.”

An important criticism is that the green new deal is actually being encouraged by industry as a way to get more money diverted into stock market investments. This apparent trick begins with the 2008 financial crash when governments gave away huge amounts of ordinary people’s money to inept and greedy banking corporations. The shock to stock markets prompted a tightening in financial regulations[4] which resulted in more and more money being locked away inside the safest financial vehicles. This cash wasn’t able to flow as easily to companies through investment in stocks and shares. That’s bad for the elite because great wealth depends a lot now on stock market holdings and company buyouts. (As well as on ensuring minimal tax and on simply bending or breaking the law –and it’s true of course that the very rich have done increasingly well in spite of the new rules!)

Although the term, “green new deal,” was coined earlier,[5] it first came to prominence in 2009, just a year after the crash, when the UN Environment Program produced a plan of the same name for a meeting in Pittsburgh of heads of state.[6] It’s important to note that the paper was open about its primary aim of, “reviving the global economy” in “response to the financial… crisis.” It sought also to, “accelerate the fight against climate change,” but that was secondary.

Many corporations support a green new deal, and their critics point out that new, and much needed, regulations to protect ordinary people’s savings and pensions from high-risk speculation might now be weakened if a sense of an urgent “greater good” could be invoked, particularly if it were about an emergency threatening life on Earth. In times of war and other crises governments can easily legitimize revoking important safeguards. This becomes even easier when big conservation NGOs, which partner with the most polluting industries, are throwing their weight and money behind the idea.

Although this might be little understood, it’s not hidden. As one UN writer puts it, “With public finances under stress since (and as a result of) the 2008 financial crisis, a consensus has emerged that the required resources [for a green new deal] can only come from governments partnering with the financial institutions they helped salvaged from that crisis.”[7] When thinking about this statement it’s important to keep in mind that all government help for particular industries can only come out of taxpayers’ pockets.

To put it simply, if Westerners think the world will soon be destroyed unless their money is given to supposedly “green” technologies and schemes like carbon offsets, then they won’t object when their money, now locked away in safer assets and pension funds, is given to those things. Climate activists who might not be versed in the deliberately opaque labyrinths of big money might welcome this, but if the schemes aren’t really so green, or if they make things worse, then there’s an obvious problem.

The only guaranteed way to cut greenhouse gases has to start with shrinking industrial output and consumption, especially by those who consume the most. The imbalance is shocking: The world’s wealthiest 10% are responsible for half of all harmful emissions, whereas the poorest half create just 10%.[8] Climate chaos is being made by the same people who now seek to turn climate activism into yet more profits!

Contracting industry would be good for the climate but it would make many people poorer, and in a nasty paradox for progressives, that would include some who are already poor. This catch-22 exists because industrialized societies have long focused on stripping everyone they can of any self-sufficiency they or their forebears once had. They do this by appropriating communal areas, stealing land, and forcing the now landless population into labor for industry or big agriculture. This is how the industrial revolution was created, and it’s still going on.

The truth is that the corporate-government axis might indeed want to reduce climate chaos – why not? – but it isn’t prepared to cut consumption; quite the contrary, it’s desperate for growth. It wants to continue “business as usual” while appearing as green as it can, as an advertising gimmick and to stifle criticism. It tries to impose its one-size-fits-all model despite the fact that it is destructive, visibly failing, and is now threatening all life. We need a vigorous push back, to reclaim the earth from the crazed ideology of perpetual growth which brings so much lethal pollution and suffering.

To bring meaningful change to this dilemma, the first step must be to stop destroying those who now produce little or no pollution and who live largely self-sufficiently, by hunting, herding, or growing their own food. They are not only tribal and indigenous people, but many local farmers. We must stop governments and industries taking their land and forcing them into the dysfunctional mainstream. We must reverse this by actively encouraging their ways of life and by listening to the lessons they have learned from the Earth over thousands of years, lessons which have enabled them to survive and thrive, but which are deliberately suppressed by industrialization. These, largely self-sufficient, peoples are still the most adaptable on the planet, and they must be at the center of the change which will enable us all to continue living on it.

This is no call for a romantic and illusory past, it’s a recognition that

humankind has evolved and survived – so far – only because of our agile adaptability. We have created vast and precious human diversity which simply cannot be replicated in a few generations: Once it’s gone, it’s gone. If the keys to our survival lie anywhere, this is where we must start looking for them.

But even this idea has now started being used as advertising gimmickry, as “indigenous peoples” are tacked on as an afterthought in environmentalists’ thinking. Big conservation NGOs have started to highlight the positive role of indigenous peoples in their glossy reports while carrying on stealing their land and destroying them on the ground. Too much of what passes for “conservation” remains rooted in its undoubtedly racist and elitist origins. Many inside the industry claim these are long buried, but they emerge when the apparently progressive mask, constructed by a vast and self-congratulatory propaganda machine, slips aside. In many parts of the world, particularly in Africa, the racism has always been self-evident.

We need a real clamor for a shift in the balance of power, to give a controlling voice to indigenous peoples and take it away from the urban elites, and the corporations, media and NGOs which are run by them. Climate activism must wake up to the fact that it’s largely directed and designed by the same kind of people, and therein lies its own catch-22. If it’s eventually to succeed, it must change quickly to embrace real, not token, human diversity.

Just as it’s increasingly recognized that different genders can have different perspectives and that the world shouldn’t be directed only by white men (like me!), so it is that a true diversity of humankind must have a determining voice in how to save the planet. Getting there will require humility and adaptability. After all, existing power structures are designed more than ever to suppress diversity rather than enhance it, and access to the corridors of power is very narrow and culturally and economically restricted. Just during my lifetime we’ve grown less willing to learn from real cultural diversity than we’ve ever been.

We need a genuine openness to change and to work in a different way. It’s admittedly a big shift, but it’s no more complex than many cross-cultural alliances made by different peoples throughout history. In spite of all the conflict and oppression, different religions, “races,” nationalities, and language-speakers often lived and worked together for their mutual benefit. This was doubtless more in evidence before European imperialism, the rise of the nation state, and eugenics saw ideologies – and theologies – about conformity inflict such suffering and destruction around the world.

As activists are slowly being forced to acknowledge, climate chaos originates in the New York, Tokyo and London stock markets, but its front lines aren’t found in the financial districts: They lie far away in Africa, Amazonia, and the Pacific. Its real battleground is the desperate struggle between people fighting for their survival and the government-industrial complex grasping for yet more money and power. The outcome of this battle couldn’t be more important, but the huge steps now being made to popularize the issue, might – however unwittingly – be leading us away from real solutions. We must bring human diversity into the center of climate activism because those who live most differently to “us” are those who have some of the best answers about how to live at all.

Notes.

1. Cames, Martin, Ralph O. Harthan, Jürg Füssler, Michael Lazarus, Carrie M. Lee, Peter Erickson, and Randall Spalding-Fecher. How additional is the clean development mechanism: Analysis of the application of current tools and proposed alternativesBerlin: Öko-Institut, 2016.

2. Lu, Donna. “Creating an AI can be five times worse for the planet than a car.” New Scientist, June 6, 2019.

3. Berners-Lee, Mike and Duncan Clark. “What’s the carbon footprint of … email?” The Guardian, Oct 21, 2010.

4. Guynn, Randall D. “The Financial Panic of 2008 and Financial Regulatory Reform.” The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, Nov 20, 2010.

5. Friedman, Thomas L. “Opinion – A Warning From the Garden“. The New York Times, Jan 19, 2007.

6. UNEP. Global Green New Deal; An Update for the G20 Pittsburgh Summit. London: UNEP/Green Economy Initiative, Sept 2009.

7. Kozul-Wright, Richard. “How to finance a Global Green New Deal” LSE Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. Nov 6, 2019.

8. Gore, Timothy. Extreme Carbon Inequality. London: Oxfam. Dec 2, 2015. (The report can be found in Spanish and French here.

Posted in Environment0 Comments

Capitalism and the Limits of Greening

by CARL BOGGS

Photograph Source: Backbone Campaign – CC BY 2.0

The idea of a Green New Deal, including the one proposed by a group of Democrats led by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is hardly novel on the world scene, though potentially consequential for American politics. European Green parties, for example, introduced far-reaching policies in support of an ecological (sustainable) model of development as early as 1980. A few other European leftist parties later arrived at their own “greening” initiatives to mitigate climate disruption. The much-smaller U.S. Greens followed suit. Even the authoritarian Chinese government has introduced its own program to curb greenhouse emissions while theoretically reducing fossil-fuel consumption.

The American proposals could bring real change, assuming federal legislative consensus is within reach – currently not the case. The main goal is a 100 percent carbon-free economy by 2050, to be achieved by gradually substituting green energy sources (solar, wind, thermal) for oil, gas, and coal, a project that could mean restructuring of the U.S. (and global) economy. Huge areas of the natural habitat would be restored, from tree-planting to river protections, water renovation, and massive recycling campaigns. Most crucially, a vigorous Green New Deal – said by many to require wartime-level resource and labor mobilization – would demand a broader, revitalized public infrastructure. While initially costing several trillion dollars (estimates vary widely), the program would eventually generate new sources of economic growth, jobs, social programs, and environmental renewal – all worth celebrating.

Green New Deal sponsors have promoted their initiatives as both a moral and political imperative. After all, IPCC reports suggest the time frame for reversing the ecological crisis is narrowing rapidly, with perhaps no more than a decade to avoid the fearsome Tipping Point. While the U.S. Congress has been nowhere close to passing such legislation, with Republicans stuck in a know-nothing trance, strong green reforms have been advanced in nearly a dozen states and many cities across the country. New York state unveiled its Green New Deal in summer 2019, calling for rapid proliferation of solar panels, building retrofits, wind turbines, and electric cars, its target at least 70 percent electricity from renewable sources by 2030. According to the state Climate Action Council, the program would “fully transform the way New Yorkers work, live, and play”. In July 2019 Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti announced a Green New Deal replete with solar panels on every building, new water recycling systems, fully electrified public transport, and expanded public infrastructure. The plan would eliminate all carbon-based energy by 2045, simultaneously attacking poverty, homelessness, urban pollution, and a mounting public-health crisis. At present no fewer than 88 American cities have embraced some variant of a Green New Deal.

It appears that Bernie Sanders’ greening proposals are most robust among presidential candidates, at a projected cost of roughly $16 trillion over ten years. His hope is for 70-percent fossil-free emissions by 2030, made possible by rebuilding the American economy starting with the energy sector. He would enlist participation of labor, including the AFL-CIO with its millions of workers involved directly or indirectly in the fossil-fuel industry, although the U.S. labor movement has never favored a Green New Deal authored by Sanders or anyone else. There is fear of enormous job losses as important sectors are reduced or shut down: mining operations, utilities, oil and gas production among others. What disruptive impact might a post-carbon society have on millions of relatively good-paying jobs? Would alternative energy systems furnish enough new employment to compensate for massive losses? Those are questions nowadays central to labor organizations everywhere.

A Green New Deal for the U.S. would presumably follow in the tracks of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal that brought American society nearer to the orbit of European social democracy. Many Democrats foresee a system both more equitable and sustainable than what exists. Yet, while proposals differ, none seem ready to challenge the basic firmaments of corporate power, including agribusiness and Wall Street – not to mention the military-security state. A decisive question, therefore, is just how far architects of a Green New Deal are willing to challenge the summits of power. To be sure, serious greening of the corporate-state system would be a much-welcomed step beyond familiar “carbon offset” plans such as cap-and-trade and direct carbon taxation. But a reform scenario as such could never begin to reverse the path toward ecological disaster. As formulated by Democrats, such greening could undoubtedly help alleviate the American carbon footprint, however slightly. If the transnational corporate order remains intact, however, it is hard to see how a fossil-fuel economy embedded in American capitalism will be materially weakened, given its many trillions of dollars invested in deeply-embedded modes of production and consumption. The sad truth is that global oil, gas, and even coal extraction is nowadays proceeding at record levels.

The problem runs deeper yet: in the U.S. greening proponents have mainly looked to a Democratic Party that, against all logic, is projected as the key instrument of sustainability. As the Dems remain wedded to corporate and military interests, all reforms are sure to be constrained by what ruling elites are prepared to tolerate. In the end, greening architects would be facilitators of an ecological Keynesianism, meaning new efforts to stabilize capitalism on more progressive footing – that is, a program of distinctly liberal reforms.

Naomi’s Klein’s recent book, On Fire, lays out an especially urgent case for a Green New Deal. Inspired by the emergent “youth climate movement”, Klein sees a revitalized green strategy as the last alternative of humanity to avert “climate barbarism”, a move bringing institutional leverage to the recent cycle of sit-ins, blockades, protests, and demonstrations drawing millions of people around the world. As with the Paris accords, her aim is for the U.S. (with other advanced industrial nations) to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Klein envisions a rising cohort of Democrats soon taking over the White House and Congress, rolling out a plan for “rapid decarbonization”, then implementing those reforms as a template for worldwide ecological renewal. Referring to AOC and her supporters, Klein writes: “If the IPCC report (of October 2018) was the clanging fire alarm that grabbed the attention of the world, the Green New Deal is the beginning of a fire safety and prevention plan.” A mixture of technological and “market” reforms will be crucial, departing from the belief in “free-market fundamentalism” and “market euphoria” she views as pervading the landscape. Klein believes these proposals are both novel and radical, though neither is true: as noted, more ambitious Green New Deals have been around the public sphere in Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere for several decades.

While for Klein (as for the Dems) a Green New Deal signifies “sweeping industrial and infrastructure overhaul”, in fact there is no stated break with established power, in the U.S. or anywhere else. We have instead a litany of reforms perfectly compatible with neoliberal corporate globalism – in other words, a “greener” variant of social democracy. To be sure the fossil-fuel giants might have to be “confronted”, but the details remain elusive. With the Dems presiding, it seems worth asking just how the familiar capitalist pursuit of profits, growth, and expropriation of the natural habitat might be restricted, much less overturned.

One daunting roadblock to reversing the crisis – the U.S. military-industrial colossus – could be responsible for five percent of the global carbon footprint, a problem never systematically addressed by Klein or the Dems. In On Fire we find a call for 25-percent reduction in worldwide military spending, but that exhausts discussion of the matter. For many decades the U.S. military has served as protector of transnational corporate interests, none perhaps more crucial (to the U.S.) than fossil fuels. Future resource wars, bound at some point to involve U.S. armed forces, will surely involve reserves of oil and natural gas – further aggravating climate change along with the lethal environmental impact of warfare in all its dimensions.

In fact-Klein’s Green New Deal entirely skirts the larger issue of resources – that is, the extent to which the planet faces steadily-declining natural resources (above all water, land, soil, forests, oceans, scarce metals). Economic predictions indicate that leading industrialized nations (U.S., China, India, the EU, Russia, Japan) could easily double their GDP output within the next two or three decades. It is delusional to believe vulnerable ecosystems could endure such overburdening “development” very far into the future. One specter is that intensifying global resource competition, endemic to the logic of both perpetual growth and geopolitical rivalry, could be what most hastens planetary disaster.

Resource wars will proliferate through widening rivalry over precarious food sources – a topic Klein strangely evades in both On Fire and This Changes Everything. Environmentalists of all stripes know that the increasingly destructive, unsustainable global meat complex is responsible for massive greenhouse emissions (perhaps 30 percent of the total), owing to its vast reliance on fossil fuels, water, and land across every phase of economic activity. Meat and dairy products on average exhaust several times the amount of land, water, and fossil fuels utilized by plant-based foods – considerably more when the McDonaldized fast-food sector is taken into account.

Klein’s Green New Deal seems oblivious to the reality that ecological sustainability must clash with the logic of capitalist expansion. A liberal greening project might help reform the American economy, but Klein and the Dems are myopic in thinking such initiatives will do much to counter the global-warming trajectory. In fact, no government or corporate elite on the planet is likely to accept mandatory cuts in fossil-fuel consumption. Sustainable development is inconceivable without tranformative changes in production and consumption. One problem is that CEOs and corporate boards – not to mention banking operations – are scarcely accountable to society in general, or to any long-term ecological priorities. They are responsible to private shareholders obsessed with returns on capital investment, whatever its harm to the natural habitat. No corporate structure in the world will put its enterprise out of business in order to “save the planet”. Meanwhile, any systematic attack on the fossil-fuel sector would bring severe, perhaps irreversible worldwide economic collapse.

At a time when corporate behemoths are destroying the planet, “greening” programs like those envisioned by Klein and the Dems – no matter how urgently conceived – cannot offer durable solutions to climate change. No amount of policy, market, or technological measures can deter the headlong march toward global disaster. At present humanity has no choice but to find a path toward a post-capitalist ecological society.

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