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Intentional Ignorance

November 6, 2012

I wrote this essay to offer some essential information about our world and the future of our species, adding my voice to the many cries of alarm over the environmental crisis (lately reaching criticality). [More…]

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Turning Point for Humanity on Global Warming

When the total direct and indirect costs of consuming and releasing Carbon are recognized to exceed the cost of alternatives, economic demand for alternatives will automatically increase both in production (solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, etc.) and consumption (electric vehicles, Hydrogen fuel cells, etc.). As with tobacco products and other detriments to society and the planet, Government’s role and responsibility is to tax or regulate what is not in the best interest of the population and subsidize what is.

Nations around the world, including the United States, need to fight the influence of the Carbon Energy Industrial Complex that attempts to block or destroy any technology that competes with their product through misinformation and political pressure. There will always be some people who deny facts or research that are counter to their religious beliefs or just resist being changed.

The only solution is continuous education and the knowledge that eventually everyone acts in their own economic self-interest. We need a tax on Carbon energy as soon as possible and continued subsidies on alternatives. If we can increase the popularity of distributed alternative energy technologies without degrading national electric grids around the world, we should move in that direction as well.

— Malcolm Baird, 26 January 2016

Extinction, the New Environmentalism, and the Cancer in the Wilderness

Previously published at CounterPunch.org          on 30 October 2015     Reproduced with permission.

by Christopher Ketcham           

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 FloriWolf in Yellowstoneda 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

Sixth mass extinction is here: Humanity’s existence threatened

Date: 19 June 2015

Source: Stanford University

Summary: Biologists have used highly conservative estimates to prove that species are disappearing faster than at any time since the dinosaurs’ demise.

Publication: Science Daily News Release

There is no longer any doubt: We are entering a mass extinction that threatens humanity’s existence.

That is the bad news at the center of a new study by a group of scientists including Paul Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies in biology and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Ehrlich and his co-authors call for fast action to conserve threatened species, populations and habitat, but warn that the window of opportunity is rapidly closing.

“[The study] shows without any significant doubt that we are now entering the sixth great mass extinction event,” Ehrlich said.

Although most well known for his positions on human population, Ehrlich has done extensive work on extinctions going back to his 1981 book, Extinction: The Causes and Consequences of the Disappearance of Species. He has long tied his work on coevolution, on racial, gender and economic justice, and on nuclear winter with the issue of wildlife populations and species loss.

There is general agreement among scientists that extinction rates have reached levels unparalleled since the dinosaurs died out 66 million years ago. However, some have challenged the theory, believing earlier estimates rested on assumptions that overestimated the crisis.

The new study, published in the journal Science Advances, shows that even with extremely conservative estimates, species are disappearing up to about 100 times faster than the normal rate between mass extinctions, known as the background rate.

“If it is allowed to continue, life would take many millions of years to recover, and our species itself would likely disappear early on,” said lead author Gerardo Ceballos of the Universidad Autónoma de México.

Continue reading

Tom Englehardt Says A New Political System May Be Emerging In This Country


Occasionally, the smart mind of a keen observer will see a political trend and hypothesize that it may be more than this, something that could crystallize into a new way of governing. Mr. Englehardt has just done this with respect to the U.S. political system, and offered it to us in a “Tomgram,” a description of what he sees, somewhat tentatively, at his TomDispatch.com blog. I have excerpted the most salient points from that below. As Tom said in his introduction to the original, “Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that.”

The following is reproduced by permission of Tom Englehardt.

Originally posted at TomDispatch.com

Excerpts by R. McCluney 27 MAR 15

papapishu-Flag-of-the-United-StatesThere are five areas in which at least the faint outlines of that new [political] system [in the U.S.] seem to be emerging: (1) political campaigns and elections; (2) the privatization of Washington through the marriage of the corporation and the state; (3) the de-legitimization of our traditional system of governance; (4) the empowerment of the national security state as an untouchable fourth branch of government; and (5) the demobilization of “we the people.”

Continue reading

Yes, America wants solar and wind, not nukes

by Michael Mariotte

This article is reprinted with permission from “Greenworld” a newsletter published by Nuclear Information and Resource Service  www.nirs.org 16 January 2015.

Just in case there was any doubt, “Americans ‘overwhelmingly’ prefer solar and wind energy to coal, oil, and nuclear energy, according to a Harvard political scientist who has conducted a comprehensive survey of attitudes toward energy and climate for the last 12 years.” So begins a New Year’s Day column in Forbes by Jeff McMahon that a lot of people missed–for most people, New Year’s Day is not prime time for reading about energy issues.

It’s not even close. 80% of the American people want solar and wind to increase a lot, and another 10% want it to increase somewhat (The other 10% probably earn their living either directly or indirectly from the nuclear and fossil fuel industries, or perhaps live in caves and don’t want electricity, or maybe just lie to pollsters). Continue reading

Planetary Change Indicators Update — Who Knows the Outcome?

“No one knows what will happen to civilization if planetary conditions continue to change…”

From Jo Bish of Population Media Center        About PMC

Late last week, Science Magazine published a paper titled “Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet.” In short, the paper is an updated version of a 2009 effort, and contends that humans have now forced transgression of four out of nine “planetary boundaries”: extinction rates; deforestation; the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere; and the flow of nitrogen and phosphorous (used on land as fertiliser) into the ocean.
Of course, it seems the only thing humans discard faster than banal consumer widgets are serious, scientifically-backed warnings about our highly-advanced skills of fouling our own nest. This is not altogether surprising when factions of the scientific community itself work overtime to sow doubt about limits to growth. For example, Dot Earth has given a platform to a set of authors, including the infamous Erle Ellis (Overpopulation Is Not The Problem), who gaudily assert that “The key to better environmental outcomes is not in ending human alteration of environments but in anticipating and mitigating their negative consequences.” Fortunately, Dot Earth also includes a rebuttal by the paper’s lead authors. Below is an article I found in the Sydney Morning Herald, covering the new Science report. Immediately below is the abstract.
Fertilizer Chemicals & Ocean Impact 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABSTRACT:

The planetary boundaries framework defines a safe operating space for humanity based on the intrinsic biophysical processes that regulate the stability of the Earth System. Here, we revise and update the planetary boundaries framework, with a focus on the underpinning biophysical science, based on targeted input from expert research communities and on more general scientific advances over the past 5 years. Several of the boundaries now have a two-tier approach, reflecting the importance of cross-scale interactions and the regional-level heterogeneity of the processes that underpin the boundaries. Two core boundaries-climate change and biosphere integrity-have been identified, each of which has the potential on its own to drive the Earth System into a new state should they be substantially and persistently transgressed.

Link to the Science Article:

Human activity has pushed Earth beyond four of nine ‘planetary boundaries’, scientists warn

Wikipedia has an article on this topic.

The White House: Time To Get Ready for Climate Change

THE WHITE HOUSE

19 November 2014

Climate change is happening now — and we’ve got to be ready because we’re going to see more extreme weather.

That’s why we’re taking action. Last Tuesday, the President made a historic announcement with China that sets new targets for carbon pollution reductions.

US Climate Resilience Toolkit

 

And on Monday, the Administration released the Climate Resilience Toolkit to help our communities respond to our changing climate.

 

Check out these easy-to-use tools, including interactive maps and visualizations, that will help prepare your community for the impacts of climate change. See how you can help your community or business get ready.

Challenges of a Changing Climate

That’s why we’re taking action. Continue reading

Idea of The Humanity System as a Tool for Change

By Michael Tuckson

Formerly advisor in rural development in Thailand and Laos

Former government and university staffer in Australia

Degrees in geology, palaeoecology and human geography

 

Excerpts from “Changing the World: Using the Humanity System Idea

Reproduced by permission from  The Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere

November 4, 2014

Paul Ehrlich’s first visit to Australia in 1970 drew me away from doctoral studies in palaeoecology towards a tutorship in human geography and a new life increasingly in human affairs.

….

In my journey from natural science into the social sciences I eventually came to see human ecology and the social sciences as together describing critical parts of the whole system that I began to call the ‘humanity system’. The system includes all of human thought, action and the short and long-term consequences.

….

The humanity system is best studied starting at least 200,000 years ago, including a-temporal concepts as they become relevant through time. Humanity systems evolved from nature harvesting through farming to city-centered systems, through ‘traditional’ and modern stages. With population growth, humanity systems have now replaced much of the biosphere with farming, mining, and rigidi-structure largely in arable regions of the world and degraded the rest of the biosphere.

 

None of the specialized subjects which populate the social sciences, nor human ecology, by themselves can fully explain our life on planet Earth. An integrating theory, which recognizes the influence of Nature, emotion, power and force, and avails itself of the best relevant ideas in each of the relatively specialized disciplines, is needed. It must be recognized that some of the theory of the social sciences is based on values influenced by emotion such as wealth, luxury and ethnic and national prestige.

  Continue reading

Phasing Down Fossil Fuel Emissions

James Hansen 20 OCT 2014

The essential spur required to phase down fossil fuel emissions is a rising carbon fee.  Only a few major nations must agree, e.g., China and the United States.  Most of the world would follow, induced by the desire to avoid border duties and modernize energy infrastructure.  

Other things are needed, especially technology development, but those things will be hastened by a rising carbon fee.

So why is an agreement on a carbon fee at [the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21]* in Paris in December 2015 not a foregone conclusion?

The old excuse, that it would be costly, has been shot down.  A steadily rising carbon fee, if it is revenue neutral via 100% dispersal of the funds to the public, stimulates the economy, increasing jobs and the GDP (see REMI study commissioned by Citizens Climate Lobby).

(For more, go to this link.)

_____________

*The 21st yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 11th session of the Meeting of the Parties (CMP 11) to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol**. The conference objective is to achieve alegally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world. Leadership of the negotiations is yet to be determined.

**The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997 and entered into force on 16 February 2005. There are currently 192 Parties to the Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol implemented the objective of the UNFCCC to fight global warming by reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere to ‘a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’. The Protocol is based on the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities: it puts the obligation to reduce current emissions on developed countries on the basis that they are historically responsible for the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Earth Day Population Message 22 April 2013

In honor of Earth Day 2013, the award winning film, Mother: Caring for 7 Billion is available for free internet viewing from now until the end of May. Some of you may be familiar with this film, but the current temporarily free streaming offers a golden opportunity to see it and to urge your friends and colleagues to watch a remarkable, modern engagement with the global population issue. I strongly urge you to see this film. –RM

Mother EarthWatch Free Online Streaming of the Award-Winning Environmental Film, Mother: Caring for 7 Billion starting this Earth Day Weekend through the end of May.

News Release from “Mother: Caring for 7 Billion”

Denver, CO – Even though sex and global warming are rarely discussed in the same sentence, much less in the same film, the long ignored connection was recently explored in the award-winning environmental documentary Mother: Caring for 7 Billion.

In celebration of Earth Day, the filmmakers of Mother announced the Internet release of their “Director’s Cut” that will stream online for free from April 19 until the end of May. To view the free online streaming of Mother go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdEspxlq3bo

Christophe Fauchere, director and co-producer of Mother stated, “We want Mother to be viewed by as many people as possible for Earth Day because Mother holds up a mirror and shows people a very different way to look at their role on this planet.”

Lisa Hymas, co-founder of Grist.org says “This is not your father’s population documentary… Mother takes a feminist/humanist view as it explores the issues of our exploding numbers.”

Continue reading