Monthly Archives: November 2015
A call for action
Updated 3 December 2015
The world is rapidly approaching COP-21, the 21st United Nations “Conference of the Parties,” the climate change convention taking place early December in Paris.
President Obama and other world leaders are preparing actions and arguments toward a truly meaningful new agreement coming out of that meeting — to take really significant steps toward reversing the introduction of greenhouse gases like CO2 into the atmosphere, which are accelerating global warming.
The industrialized nations of the world are emitting most of these gases and have the most power and ability to reverse the trend. So these are the primary parties to the conference. Many of the developing nations of the world will be there as well. It is hoped they will also subscribe to as many greenhouse gas emission strategies as they are able, since we all suffer from global warming effects.
One of the best ways to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions is to replace fossil-fuel-fired power plants with solar-electric- and wind-powered ones, a process that has accelerated in recent years due to falling prices for solar and wind power coupled with rising prices for fossil-fuel sourced grid electricity. There is a growing number of cases in which investment in renewable energy makes much more economic sense than investing in fossil-fuel-sourced power plants.
In the U.S. and a few other countries, however, there are politically conservative opponents to the very essence of COP-21 and its goals. Some use outright anti-science arguments to try and stop the switch away from fossil fuel toward increased energy efficiency and renewable energy.
Others admit that global warming is really happening and a few even accept that much of the increase is human-caused, but they counter with a proposition that making this transition will damage the economy, meaning mainly the profits of the coal, oil, and gas companies.
The truth is that global warming consequences threaten serious damage to the Earth’s life-support system if allowed to continue for a few more decades. This problem, therefore, is an existential one, as U.S. Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders claims. It is the most serious problem facing the U.S. and all other nations of the world. (Terrorism is unlikely to cause the extinction of humanity, as long as nuclear weapons are kept away from the terrorists, but global warming, if allowed to continue unabated, surely can.)
Previously published at CounterPunch.org on 30 October 2015 Reproduced with permission.
The word is in from the wildlife biologists.
Say goodbye in North America to the gray wolf, the cougar, the grizzly bear. They are destined for extinction sometime in the next 40 years. Say goodbye to the Red wolf and the Mexican wolf and the Florida panther. Gone the jaguar, the ocelot, the wood bison, the buffalo, the California condor, the North Atlantic right whale, the Stellar sea lion, the hammerhead shark, the leatherback sea turtle. That’s just North America.
Worldwide, the largest and most charismatic animals, the last of the megafauna, our most ecologically important predators and big ungulates, the wildest wild things, will be the first to go in the anthropogenic extinction event of the Holocene Era. The tiger and leopard and the elephant and lion in Africa and Asia. The primates, the great apes, our wild cousins. The polar bears in the Arctic Sea. The shark and killer whale in every ocean.
“Extinction is now proceeding thousands of times faster than the production of new species,” biologist E.O. Wilson writes. Between 30 and 50 percent of all known species are expected to go extinct by 2050, if current trends hold. There are five other mass extinction events in the geologic record, stretching back 500 million years. But none were the result of a single species’ overreach.
I’ve found conversation with my biologist sources to be terribly dispiriting. The conversation goes like this: Homo sapiens are out of control, a bacteria boiling in the petri dish; the more of us, demanding more resources, means less space for every other life form; the solution is less of us, consuming fewer resources, but that isn’t happening. It can’t happen. Our economic system, industrial consumer capitalism, requires constant growth, more people buying more things. “I will go so far as to say [that] capitalism itself may be dependent on a growing population,” writes billionaire capitalist blogger Bill Gross, Forbes magazine’s Bond King. “Our modern era of capitalism over the past several centuries has never known a period of time in which population declined or grew less than 1% a year.” Growth for growth’s sake, what Edward Abbey called the ideology of the cancer cell. Continue reading