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Marx and Engels, radical environmentalists


It’s a myth that Marx and Engels ignored environmental concerns. Their work was rooted in an ecological vision that can educate and inspire today’s activists.

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At the demonstration in Washington, D.C., in February to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, which is being built to transport tar sands oil from Western Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, members of the Ecosocialist Contingent carried signs reading “System Change, Not Climate Change!”

The slogan was well received, as growing numbers of environmental activists recognize that only fundamental social and economic changes can solve the deepening global ecological crisis.

But what kinds of changes are needed and what strategies can win them? There are serious debates within the movement. What I want to argue here is that activists have much to gain by engaging with the ecological critique of capitalism first developed by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in the 19th century.

Until quite recently, there was a common myth that Marx and Engels had nothing useful to say about the environment. But over the past 10 to 15 years, this myth has been refuted by writers like the sociologist John Bellamy Foster and the environmental economist Paul Burkett.

In his book Marx’s Ecology, published in 2000, Foster shows that ecological ideas were central to Marx and Engels’ materialist outlook from the early 1840s.

For example, in his 1844 Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, Marx wrote: ”Man lives on nature — means that nature is his body, with which he must remain in continuous interchange if he is not to die. That man’s physical and spiritual life is linked to nature means simply that nature is linked to itself, for man is a part of nature.”

Both Marx and Engels point out in their later writings that capitalism disrupts the link between humans and the rest of the natural world, to the detriment of both. Marx sometimes calls this the “metabolic rift” — ”an irreparable break in the coherence of social interchange prescribed by the natural laws of life.”

In his notebooks for Capital written in the 1850s, later published as the Grundrisse, Marx notes:

“It is not the unity of living and active humanity with the natural, inorganic conditions of their metabolic exchange with nature, and hence their appropriation of nature, which requires explanation or is the result of a historic process, but rather the separation between these inorganic conditions of human existence and this active existence, a separation which is completely posited only in the relation of wage labor and capital.”

In capitalist economies, a small minority, driven by competition and the search for ever-greater profits, controls the means of production. The system imposes a drive to accumulate on individual capitalists, and this results in a focus on short-term gains that ignore the long-term effects of production, including its consequences for the natural environment.

According to Engels:

“As individual capitalists are engaged in production and exchange for the sake of the immediate profit, only the nearest, most immediate results must first be taken into account. As long as the individual manufacturer or merchant sells a manufactured or purchased commodity with the usual coveted profit, he is satisfied and does not concern himself with what afterwards becomes of the commodity and its purchasers.”

Engels points out the way in which this drive for profit can lead to ecological catastrophe:

“The same thing applies to the natural effects of the same actions. What cared the Spanish planters in Cuba, who burned down forests on the slopes of the mountains and obtained from the ashes sufficient fertilizer for one generation of very highly profitable coffee trees — what cared they that the heavy tropical rainfall afterwards washed away the unprotected upper stratum of the soil, leaving behind only bare rock!”

Engels concludes:

“In relation to nature, as to society, the present mode of production is predominantly concerned only about the immediate, the most tangible result; and then surprise is expressed that the more remote effects of actions directed to this end turn out to be quite different, are mostly quite the opposite in character.”

In Capital, drawing on the pioneering research of the German chemist Justus von Liebig, Marx discusses the process by which capitalism tends to deplete soil fertility:

Capitalist production, by collecting the population in great centers, and causing an ever-increasing preponderance of town population, on the one hand concentrates the historical motive power of society; on the other hand, it disturbs the circulation of matter between man and the soil, i.e., prevents the return to the soil of its elements consumed by man in the form of food and clothing; it therefore violates the conditions necessary to lasting fertility of the soil.”

Most obviously, human waste that in the past would have been used as fertilizer now has to be disposed of in other ways. Marx points out:

“Excretions of consumption are of the greatest importance for agriculture. So far as their utilization is concerned, there is an enormous waste of them in the capitalist economy. In London, for instance, they find no better use for the excretion of four and a half million human beings than to contaminate the Thames with it at heavy expense.”

Meanwhile, the problem of soil depletion in 19th century Britain was dealt with first by importing large quantities of bones from Europe and guano from South America, and later with the use of artificial fertilizers, which in turn created their own problems of runoff and ground water contamination. According to Marx:

“All progress in capitalistic agriculture is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the laborer, but of robbing the soil; all progress in increasing the fertility of the soil for a given time, is a progress towards ruining the lasting sources of that fertility…. Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology, and the combining together of various processes into a social whole, only by sapping the original sources of all wealth–the soil and the laborer.”

In Marx and Engels’ day, the environmental damage caused by capitalism was localized to particular regions or countries. Today, the threat of climate change is global in scope, with the production of greenhouse gases by the most developed capitalist economies threatening ecosystems across the planet.

But while the scale and scope of the environmental crisis today is much bigger and the danger correspondingly greater, the underlying causes — the capitalist imperative to accumulate and grow, and the resulting “metabolic rift” between humans and the rest of the natural world — remain the same.

Because of this, there can be no technological fix for problems like global warming. Of course, new technologies — particularly renewable energy sources based on the sun, wind and tides — are needed. But they will not be sufficient unless they are integrated into an economic system that is not driven by the need to continually expand and that is democratically planned to ensure long-term sustainability.

For Marx, this meant “the associated producers … rationally regulating their interchange with Nature, bringing it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by the blind forces of Nature; and achieving this with the least expenditure of energy and under conditions most favorable to, and worthy of, their human nature.”

As Engels pointed out, however, such rational regulation would have to be undertaken with the greatest care:

“Let us not … flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, in the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places, it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first….

“Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature — but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.”

Marx and Engels both argued that an environmentally sustainable society would require the “abolition of the antithesis between town and country.” Engels spelled out that this meant “as uniform a distribution as possible of the population over the whole country” and “an integral connection between industrial and agricultural production.”

If this analysis is correct, then environmentalists must set their sights not just on changes within the capitalist system, but ultimately on the abolition of capitalism itself. To avoid ecological catastrophe, we need to create a society based not on competition and perpetual growth, but on cooperation, economic democracy and long-term sustainability.

Marx offers the vision of such a society in the final pages of Capital, Volume 3:

“From the standpoint of a higher socio-economic formation, the private property of particular individuals in the earth will appear just as absurd as the private property of one man in other men.

“Even an entire society, a nation or all simultaneously existing societies taken together are not owners of the earth, they are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations, as boni patres familias [good heads of households].”

We hope to put a stop to immediate threats like the Keystone XL pipeline with our activism. But ultimately, the hope of avoiding an environmental Armageddon requires us to take seriously the idea of fighting for the kind of system change that Marx described.

via Marx and Engels, radical environmentalists.

 

Tesco


Just a little bit of vulgarity for a change

Someones going to have a good night hahaha

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Why We Allow the Destruction of Our Planet


It’s not enough to point out that our political system is completely corrupted by money, including money from coal and oil and nukes and gas.  Of course it is.  And if we had direct democracy, polls suggest we would be investing in green energy.  But saying the right thing to a pollster on a phone or in a focus group is hardly the extent of what one ought sensibly to do when the fate of the world is at stake.

Nor do we get a complete explanation by recognizing that our communications system is in bed with our political system, cooperatively pushing lies about our climate and our budget (defunding wars and billionaires is not an option, so there’s just no money for new ideas, sorry).  Of course.  But when the planet’s climate is being destroyed for all future generations, most of which will therefore not exist, the only sensible course of action is to drop everything and nonviolently overthrow any system of corruption that is carrying out the destruction.

Why don’t we?

Misinformation is a surface-level explanation.  Why do people choose to accept obvious misinformation?

Here’s one reason: They’ve already chosen to accept other obvious misinformation to which they are deeply and passionately attached and which requires this additional self-deception.  The beliefs involved correlate with poor education, so government choices to fund fossil fuels and highways and prisons and Hamid Karzai rather than schools certainly contribute.  But perhaps we should confront the misinformation directly, even while pursuing the creation of an education system worthy of a civilized country.

According to a Newsweek poll, 40 percent of people in the United States believe the world will end with a battle between Jesus Christ and the Antichrist.  And overwhelmingly those who believe that, also believe that natural disaster and violence are signs of the approach of the glorious battle — so much so that 22 percent in the U.S. believe the world will end in their lifetime.  This would logically mean that concern for the world of their great great grandchildren makes no sense at all and should be dismissed from their minds.  In fact, a recent study found that belief in the “second coming” reduces support for strong governmental action on climate change by 20 percent.

Apart from the corruption of money, whenever you have 40 percent of Americans believing something stupid, the forces of gerrymandering in the House, disproportionate representation of small states in the Senate, the Senate filibuster, the winner-take-all two-party system that shuts many voices out of the media and debates and ballots while allowing Democrats to get elected purely on the qualification of not being Republicans, and a communications system that mainstreams Republican beliefs almost guarantees that the 40-percent view will control the government.

Congressman John Shimkus, a Republican from a gerrymandered monstrosity in southeastern Illinois says the planet is in fine shape and guaranteed to stay that way because God promised that to Noah.

Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma (a state whose citizens get 10 times the representation in the Senate that Californians do — if one can accuse Diane Feinstein of representing anyone), says that only God could possibly change the climate, and we should stop being so arrogant — as if taking $1.4 million in campaign “contributions” from fossil-fuel profiteers and imagining that your positions are purely determined by your access to an all-powerful being who runs the universe on behalf of the 30 percent of the world raised on the same fairy tales as you isn’t an arrogant belief.

Another senator who claims to be a theist but not of the Inhofe-Shimkus variety, publicly denounced an unnamed colleague this week for pushing the don’t-worry-God-is-on-the-job line in a recent meeting.

When a large portion of the population believes that catastrophe is a good thing, rather than a bad thing, and wars are celebrated and crises bring excitement and solidarity to our lives, the influence is toxic.  Of the 40 percent who believe Jesus is on his way, some no doubt believe it more than others, allow it to shape more of their other beliefs and actions.  Of the other 60 percent, some are no doubt influenced to varying degrees by the armageddonists.

Belief in theism itself reaches as much as 80 percent in the United States and includes strong activists for sustainable policies, including some who passionately proselytize using the argument that only theism can save us from our apathy in the face of global warming.  And there is no question that our most dedicated peace and justice activists include some strong religious believers.  But theism is essentially the belief that some more powerful being is running the show.  Perhaps the armageddonists haven’t really found a solution to the problem of evil (“If there is a God, he’ll have to beg forgiveness from me,” said a prisoner in a Nazi camp), but the non-armageddonist theists have never found a logical solution to the problem of free will, either.  Theists can go either way and all make as little sense as each other.  But they must all of necessity promote the notion that a more powerful being is in charge.

And where does that belief show up to damaging effect?  In our politics it shows up primarily as an attitude toward presidents.  While President Obama has spent five years working diligently to destroy our natural environment for all time to come, the largest block of those concerned about global warming have spent their time telling each other to trust in Him, that he works in mysterious ways, that he is up against the Evil One and must be allowed time to succeed in his battle.  You see, the problem with theism is not that some of its spin-off beliefs succeed in an undemocratic system.  The problem is that theism is anti-democratic at its core.  It moves us away from relying on ourselves.  It teaches us to rely on someone supposedly better than we.  And the same 80 percent or so also believe in something called heaven, which renders real life far less significant even for those generations that get to experience it.

This, in turn, fuels a belief in optimism.  We are all told to be optimists regardless of the facts, as if it were a personal lifestyle choice.  Combine that with a belief that everything is part of a secret master plan, and you’ve got a recipe for submissive acceptance.  I’ve had great activists tell me that everything will work out for the best, either because that keeps them going, or because they’ve learned that saying anything else earns them fewer speaking invitations.  Hardcore optimism is compatible with active engagement.  But the net effect is almost certainly a contribution to apathy.

I wish it were needless to say that I am not advocating the equally dumb position of willful pessimism.  I’m proposing the unpopular position of taking the facts as they come, acting accordingly, and acting cautiously when it comes to the fate of generations as yet unborn — even if that caution requires huge sacrifices.

There are other powerful forces weighing against action as well.  There is our love of technology, including our fantasies about inventing our way out of catastrophe, colonizing other planets, re-creating species.  Maybe our senator friend is onto something after all when he points to arrogance.  There is also greed, including our fear that living sustainably would involve living with less of the materialistic crap that currently clutters our lives and fuels our obesity.  There is also the con job continuously played on us by our government that persuades so many of us that we are powerless to effect change.  It’s not enough to believe that the world is being destroyed and that we humans are on our own with the plants and the other animals, if we’ve fallen for the biggest scam governments pull on their people, the lie that says they pay no attention to us.  History teaches the opposite.  People’s influence on their governments is much more powerful than we usually imagine.  It’s weakened primarily by people’s failure to do anything.  Impotence is a self-fulfilling loop.  Those longing for the end of the world are far from alone in imagining that we don’t have the power to make the world over ourselves.  Nonetheless, among the things we should be doing right now is explaining to our neighbors that Jesus isn’t coming back.

http://davidswanson.org

via OpEdNews – Article: Why We Allow the Destruction of Our Planet.

via Why We Allow the Destruction of Our Planet.

99 One-Liners Rebutting Denier Talking Points


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Progressives should know the disinformers’ most commonly used arguments — and how to answer them crisply. Those arguments have been repeated so many times by the fossil-fuel-funded disinformation campaign that almost everyone has heard them — and that means you’ll have to deal with them in almost any setting, from a public talk to a dinner party. You should also know as much of the science behind those rebuttals as possible, and a great place to start is SkepticalScience.com. BUT most of the time your best response is to give the pithiest response possible, and then refer people to a specific website  that has a more detailed scientific explanation with links to the original science. That’s because usually those you are talking to are rarely in a position to adjudicate scientific arguments. Indeed, they would probably tune out. Also, unless you know the science cold, you are as likely as not to make a misstatement. Physicist John Cook has done us a great service by posting good one-line responses and then updating them as the science evolves and as people offer better ways of phrasing. Below I have reposted the top 99 with links to the science. You can find even more here. Everybody should know the first 20 or so. For instance, if somebody raises the standard talking point (#1 on the list) that the “climate’s changed before,” you can say, “Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing.” That is actually quite similar to what was my standard response, “The climate changes when it is forced to change, and now humans are forcing it to change far more rapidly than it did in the past” (see “Humans boosting CO2 14,000 times faster than nature, overwhelming slow negative feedbacks” and “New Science Study Confirms ‘Hockey Stick’: The Rate Of Warming Since 1900 Is 50 Times Greater Than The Rate Of Cooling In Previous 5000 Years“).  Working in the “humans are now the dominant forcing” part is a good idea. Cook explains the origin of these one-liners in a 2010 post, “Rebutting skeptic arguments in a single line.” I have included the longer ‘paragraph’ rebuttals, which any CP reader who plans to speak out on this subject — in public or just with friends and associates — should also be familiar with.

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Skeptic Rebuttal One Liners

Skeptic Argument One Liner Paragraph
1 “Climate’s changed before” Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing. Natural climate change in the past proves that climate is sensitive to an energy imbalance. If the planet accumulates heat, global temperatures will go up. Currently, CO2 is imposing an energy imbalance due to the enhanced greenhouse effect. Past climate change actually provides evidence for our climate’s sensitivity to CO2.
2 “It’s the sun” In the last 35 years of global warming, sun and climate have been going in opposite directions In the last 35 years of global warming, the sun has shown a slight cooling trend. Sun and climate have been going in opposite directions.
3 “It’s not bad” Negative impacts of global warming on agriculture, health & environment far outweigh any positives. The negative impacts of global warming on agriculture, health, economy and environment far outweigh any positives.
4 “There is no consensus” 97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming. That humans are causing global warming is the position of the Academies of Science from 19 countries plus many scientific organizations that study climate science. More specifically, around 95% of active climate researchers actively publishing climate papers endorse the consensus position.
5 “It’s cooling” The last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record. Empirical measurements of the Earth’s heat content show the planet is still accumulating heat and global warming is still happening. Surface temperatures can show short-term cooling when heat is exchanged between the atmosphere and the ocean, which has a much greater heat capacity than the air.
6 “Models are unreliable” Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean. While there are uncertainties with climate models, they successfully reproduce the past and have made predictions that have been subsequently confirmed by observations.
7 “Temp record is unreliable” The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites. Numerous studies into the effect of urban heat island effect and microsite influences find they have negligible effect on long-term trends, particularly when averaged over large regions.
8 “Animals and plants can adapt” Global warming will cause mass extinctions of species that cannot adapt on short time scales. A large number of ancient mass extinction events have been strongly linked to global climate change. Because current climate change is so rapid, the way species typically adapt (eg – migration) is, in most cases, simply not be possible. Global change is simply too pervasive and occurring too rapidly.
9 “It hasn’t warmed since 1998″ For global records, 2010 is the hottest year on record, tied with 2005. The planet has continued to accumulate heat since 1998 – global warming is still happening. Nevertheless, surface temperatures show much internal variability due to heat exchange between the ocean and atmosphere. 1998 was an unusually hot year due to a strong El Nino.
10 “Antarctica is gaining ice” Satellites measure Antarctica losing land ice at an accelerating rate. While the interior of East Antarctica is gaining land ice, overall Antarctica is losing land ice at an accelerating rate. Antarctic sea ice is growingdespite a strongly warming Southern Ocean.
11 “Ice age predicted in the 70s” The vast majority of climate papers in the 1970s predicted warming. 1970s ice age predictions were predominantly media based. The majority of peer reviewed research at the time predicted warming due to increasing CO2.
12 “CO2 lags temperature” CO2 didn’t initiate warming from past ice ages but it did amplify the warming. When the Earth comes out of an ice age, the warming is not initiated by CO2 but by changes in the Earth’s orbit. The warming causes the oceans to give up CO2. The CO2 amplifies the warming and mixes through the atmosphere, spreading warming throughout the planet. So CO2 causes warming ANDrising temperature causes CO2 rise.
13 “Climate sensitivity is low” Net positive feedback is confirmed by many different lines of evidence. Climate sensitivity can be calculated empirically by comparing past temperature change to natural forcings at the time. Various periods of Earth’s past have been examined in this manner and find broad agreement of a climate sensitivity of around 3°C.
14 “We’re heading into an ice age” Worry about global warming impacts in the next 100 years, not an ice age in over 10,000 years. The warming effect from more CO2 greatly outstrips the influence from changes in the Earth’s orbit or solar activity, even if solar levels were to drop to Maunder Minimum levels.
15 “Ocean acidification isn’t serious” Ocean acidification threatens entire marine food chains. Past history shows that when CO2 rose sharply, this corresponded with mass extinctions of coral reefs. Currently, CO2 levels are rising faster than any other time in known history. The change in seawater pH over the 21st Century is projected to be faster than anytime over the last 800,000 years and will create conditions not seen on Earth for at least 40 million years.

16 “Hockey stick is broken” Recent studies agree that recent global temperatures are unprecedented in the last 1000 years. Since the hockey stick paper in 1998, there have been a number of proxy studies analysing a variety of different sources including corals, stalagmites, tree rings, boreholes and ice cores. They all confirm the original hockey stick conclusion: the 20th century is the warmest in the last 1000 years and that warming was most dramatic after 1920.
17 “Climategate CRU emails suggest conspiracy” A number of investigations have cleared scientists of any wrongdoing in the media-hyped email incident. While some of the private correspondance is not commendable, an informed examination of their ‘suggestive’ emails reveal technical discussions using techniques well known in the peer reviewed literature. Focusing on a few suggestive emails merely serves to distract from the wealth of empirical evidence for man-made global warming.
18 “Hurricanes aren’t linked to global warming” There is increasing evidence that hurricanes are getting stronger due to global warming. It is unclear whether global warming is increasing hurricane frequency but there is increasing evidence that warming increases hurricane intensity.
19 “Al Gore got it wrong” Al Gore book is quite accurate, and far more accurate than contrarian books. While there are minor errors in An Inconvenient Truth, the main truths presented – evidence to show mankind is causing global warming and its various impacts is consistent with peer reviewed science.
20 “Glaciers are growing” Most glaciers are retreating, posing a serious problem for millions who rely on glaciers for water. While there are isolated cases of growing glaciers, the overwhelming trend in glaciers worldwide is retreat. In fact, the global melt rate has been accelerating since the mid-1970s.
21 “It’s cosmic rays” Cosmic rays show no trend over the last 30 years & have had little impact on recent global warming. While the link between cosmic rays and cloud cover is yet to be confirmed, more importantly, there has been no correlation between cosmic rays and global temperatures over the last 30 years of global warming.
22 “1934 – hottest year on record” 1934 was one of the hottest years in the US, not globally. 1934 is the hottest year on record in the USA which only comprises 2% of the globe. According to NASA temperature records, the hottest year on record globally is 2005.
23 “It’s freaking cold!” A local cold day has nothing to do with the long-term trend of increasing global temperatures. Since the mid 1970s, global temperatures have been warming at around 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade. However, weather imposes its own dramatic ups and downs over the long term trend. We expect to see record cold temperatures even during global warming. Nevertheless over the last decade, daily record high temperatures occurred twice as often as record lows. This tendency towards hotter days is expected to increase as global warming continues into the 21st Century.
24 “Sea level rise is exaggerated” A variety of different measurements find steadily rising sea levels over the past century. Sea levels are measured by a variety of methods that show close agreement – sediment cores, tidal gauges, satellite measurements. What they find is sea level rise has been steadily accelerating over the past century.
25 “It’s Urban Heat Island effect” Urban and rural regions show the same warming trend. While urban areas are undoubtedly warmer than surrounding rural areas, this has had little to no impact on warming trends.
26 “Medieval Warm Period was warmer” Globally averaged temperature now is higher than global temperature in medieval times. While the Medieval Warm Period saw unusually warm temperatures in some regions, globally the planet was cooler than current conditions.
27 “Mars is warming” Mars is not warming globally. Martian climate is primarily driven by dust and albedo and there is little empirical evidence that Mars is showing long term warming.
28 “Arctic icemelt is a natural cycle” Thick arctic sea ice is undergoing a rapid retreat. Arctic sea ice has been retreating over the past 30 years. The rate of retreat is accelerating and in fact is exceeding most models’ forecasts.
29 “Increasing CO2 has little to no effect” The strong CO2 effect has been observed by many different measurements. An enhanced greenhouse effect from CO2 has been confirmed by multiple lines of empirical evidence. Satellite measurements of infrared spectra over the past 40 years observe less energy escaping to space at the wavelengths associated with CO2. Surface measurements find more downward infrared radiation warming the planet’s surface. This provides a direct, empirical causal link between CO2 and global warming.
30 “Oceans are cooling” The most recent ocean measurements show consistent warming. Early estimates of ocean heat from the Argo showed a cooling bias due to pressure sensor issues. Recent estimates of ocean heat that take this bias into account show continued warming of the upper ocean. This is confirmed by independent estimates of ocean heat as well as more comprehensive measurements of ocean heat down to 2000 metres deep.
31 “Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions” The natural cycle adds and removes CO2 to keep a balance; humans add extra CO2 without removing any. The CO2 that nature emits (from the ocean and vegetation) is balanced by natural absorptions (again by the ocean and vegetation). Therefore human emissions upset the natural balance, rising CO2 to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years. In fact, human emit 26 gigatonnes of CO2 per year while CO2 in the atmosphere is rising by only 15 gigatonnes per year – much of human CO2 emissions is being absorbed by natural sinks.
32 “IPCC is alarmist” Numerous papers have documented how IPCC predictions are more likely to underestimate the climate response.

The IPCC lead authors are experts in their field, instructed to fairly represent the full range of the up-to-date, peer-reviewed literature. Consequently, the IPCC reports tend to be cautious in their conclusions. Comparisons to the most recent data consistently finds that climate change is occurring more rapidly and intensely than indicated by IPCC predictions.

33 “Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas” Rising CO2 increases atmospheric water vapor, which makes global warming much worse.

Water vapour is the most dominant greenhouse gas. Water vapour is also the dominant positive feedback in our climate system and amplifies any warming caused by changes in atmospheric CO2. This positive feedback is why climate is so sensitive to CO2 warming.

34 “Polar bear numbers are increasing” Polar bears are in danger of extinction as well as many other species. While there is some uncertainty on current polar bear population trends, one thing is certain. No sea ice means no seals which means no polar bears. With Arctic sea ice retreating at an accelerating rate, the polar bear is at grave risk of extinction
35 “CO2 limits will harm the economy” The benefits of a price on carbon outweigh the costs several times over.

Economic assessments of proposed policy to put a price on carbon emissions are in widespread agreement that the net economic impact will be minor. The costs over the next several decades center around $100 per average family, or about 75 cents per person per day, and a GDP reduction of less than 1%.

36 “It’s not happening” There are many lines of evidence indicating global warming is unequivocal.

There are many lines of independent empirical evidence for global warming, from accelerated ice loss from the Arctic to Antarctica to the poleward migration of plant and animal species across the globe.

37 “Greenland was green” Other parts of the earth got colder when Greenland got warmer. The Greenland ice sheet has existed for at least 400,000 years. There may have been regions of Greenland that were ‘greener’ than today but this was not a global phenomenon.
38 “Greenland is gaining ice” Greenland on the whole is losing ice, as confirmed by satellite measurement. While the Greenland interior is in mass balance, the coastlines are losing ice. Overall Greenland is losing ice mass at an accelerating rate. From 2002 to 2009, the rate of ice mass loss doubled.
39 “CO2 is not a pollutant” Through its impacts on the climate, CO2 presents a danger to public health and welfare, and thus qualifies as an air pollutant

While there are direct ways in which CO2 is a pollutant (acidification of the ocean), its primary impact is its greenhouse warming effect. While the greenhouse effect is a natural occurence, too much warming has severe negative impacts on agriculture, health and environment.

40 “CO2 is plant food” The effects of enhanced CO2 on terrestrial plants are variable and complex and dependent on numerous factors

The effects of enhanced CO2 on terrestrial plants are variable and complex and dependent on numerous factors

41 “Other planets are warming” Mars and Jupiter are not warming, and anyway the sun has recently been cooling slightly. There are three fundamental flaws in the ‘other planets are warming’ argument. Not all planets in the solar system are warming. The sun has shown no long term trend since 1950 and in fact has shown a slight cooling trend in recent decades. There are explanations for why other planets are warming.
42 “Arctic sea ice has recovered” Thick arctic sea ice is in rapid retreat. Arctic sea ice has been steadily thinning, even in the last few years while the surface ice (eg – sea ice extent) increased slightly. Consequently, the total amount of Arctic sea ice in 2008 and 2009 are the lowest on record.
43 “There’s no empirical evidence” There are multiple lines of direct observations that humans are causing global warming. Direct observations find that CO2 is rising sharply due to human activity. Satellite and surface measurements find less energy is escaping to space at CO2 absorption wavelengths. Ocean and surface temperature measurements find the planet continues to accumulate heat. This gives a line of empirical evidence that human CO2 emissions are causing global warming.
44 “We’re coming out of the Little Ice Age” Scientists have determined that the factors which caused the Little Ice Age cooling are not currently causing global warming

The main driver of the warming from the Little Ice Age to 1940 was the warming sun with a small contribution from volcanic activity. However, solar activity leveled off after 1940 and the net influence from sun and volcano since 1940 has been slight cooling. Greenhouse gases have been the main contributor of warming since 1970.

45 “There’s no correlation between CO2 and temperature” There is long-term correlation between CO2 and global temperature; other effects are short-term. Even during a period of long term warming, there are short periods of cooling due to climate variability. Short term cooling over the last few years is largely due to a strong La Nina phase in the Pacific Ocean and a prolonged solar minimum.
46 “It cooled mid-century” Mid-century cooling involved aerosols and is irrelevant for recent global warming. There are a number of forcings which affect climate (eg – stratospheric aerosols, solar variations). When all forcings are combined, they show good correlation to global temperature throughout the 20th century including the mid-century cooling period. However, for the last 35 years, the dominant forcing has been CO2.
47 “CO2 was higher in the past” When CO2 was higher in the past, the sun was cooler. When CO2 levels were higher in the past, solar levels were also lower. The combined effect of sun and CO2 matches well with climate.
48 “It warmed before 1940 when CO2 was low” Early 20th century warming is due to several causes, including rising CO2. Early 20th century warming was in large part due to rising solar activity and relatively quiet volcanic activity. However, both factors have played little to no part in the warming since 1975. Solar activity has been steady since the 50′s. Volcanoes have been relatively frequent and if anything, have exerted a cooling effect.
49 “Global warming stopped in 1998,19952002,20072010, ????” Global temperature is still rising and 2010 was the hottest recorded.

2007′s dramatic cooling is driven by strong La Nina conditions which historically has caused similar drops in global temperature. It is also exacerbated by unusually low solar activity.

50 “Satellites show no warming in the troposphere” The most recent satellite data show that the earth as a whole is warming. Satellite measurements match model results apart from in the tropics. There is uncertainty with the tropical data due to how various teams correct for satellite drift. The U.S. Climate Change Science Program concludes the discrepancy is most likely due to data errors.
51 “It’s aerosols” Aerosols have been masking global warming, which would be worse otherwise. The global dimming trend reversed around 1990 – 15 years after the global warming trend began in the mid 1970′s.
52 “It’s El Niño” El Nino has no trend and so is not responsible for the trend of global warming. The El Nino Southern Oscillation shows close correlation to global temperatures over the short term. However, it is unable to explain the long term warming trend over the past few decades.
53 “2009-2010 winter saw record cold spells” A cold day in Chicago in winter has nothing to do with the trend of global warming. The cold snap is due to a strong phase of the Arctic Oscillation. This is causing cool temperatures at mid-latitudes (eg – Eurasia and North America) and warming in polar regions (Greenland and Arctic Ocean). The warm and cool regions roughly balance each other out with little impact on global temperature.
54 “It’s a natural cycle” No known natural forcing fits the fingerprints of observed warming except anthropogenic greenhouse gases. A natural cycle requires a forcing, and no known forcing exists that fits the fingerprints of observed warming – except anthropogenic greenhouse gases.
55 “Mt. Kilimanjaro’s ice loss is due to land use” Most glaciers are in rapid retreat worldwide, notwithstanding a few complicated cases. Mount Kilimanjaro’s shrinking glacier is complicated and not due to just global warming. However, this does not mean the Earth is not warming. There is ample evidence that Earth’s average temperature has increased in the past 100 years and the decline of mid- and high-latitude glaciers is a major piece of evidence.
56 “There’s no tropospheric hot spot” We see a clear “short-term hot spot” – there’s various evidence for a “long-term hot spot”. Satellite measurements match model results apart from in the tropics. There is uncertainty with the tropic data due to how various teams correct for satellite drift. The U.S. Climate Change Science Program conclude the discrepancy is most likely due to data errors.
57 “It’s not us” Multiple sets of independent observations find a human fingerprint on climate change. The human fingerprint in global warming is evident in multiple lines of empirical evidence – in satellite measurements of outgoing infrared radiation, in surface measurements of downward infrared radiation, in the cooling stratosphere and other metrics.
58 “It’s Pacific Decadal Oscillation” The PDO shows no trend, and therefore the PDO is not responsible for the trend of global warming. PDO as an oscillation between positive and negative values shows no long term trend, while temperature shows a long term warming trend. When the PDO last switched to a cool phase, global temperatures were about 0.4C cooler than currently. The long term warming trend indicates the total energy in the Earth’s climate system is increasing due to an energy imbalance.
59 “IPCC were wrong about Himalayan glaciers” Glaciers are in rapid retreat worldwide, despite 1 error in 1 paragraph in a 1000 page IPCC report.

The IPCC error on the 2035 prediction was unfortunate and it’s important that such mistakes are avoided in future publications through more rigorous review. But the central message of the IPCC AR4, is confirmed by the peer reviewed literature. The Himalayan glaciers are of vital importance, providing drinking water to half a billion people. Satellites and on-site measurements are observing that Himalayan glaciers are disappearing at an accelerating rate.

60 “Scientists can’t even predict weather” Weather and climate are different; climate predictions do not need weather detail. Weather is chaotic, making prediction difficult. However, climate takes a long term view, averaging weather out over time. This removes the chaotic element, enabling climate models to successfully predict future climate change.
61 “Greenhouse effect has been falsified” The greenhouse effect is standard physics and confirmed by observations. The atmosphere of the Earth is less able to absorb shortwave radiation from the Sun than thermal radiation coming from the surface. The effect of this disparity is that thermal radiation escaping to space comes mostly from the cold upper atmosphere, while the surface is maintained at a substantially warmer temperature. This is called the “atmospheric greenhouse effect”, and without it the Earth’s surface would be much colder.
62 “2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory” The 2nd law of thermodynamics is consistent with the greenhouse effect which is directly observed. The atmosphere of the Earth is less able to absorb shortwave radiation from the Sun than thermal radiation coming from the surface. The effect of this disparity is that thermal radiation escaping to space comes mostly from the cold upper atmosphere, while the surface is maintained at a substantially warmer temperature. This is called the “atmospheric greenhouse effect”, and without it the Earth’s surface would be much colder.
63 “The science isn’t settled” That human CO2 is causing global warming is known with high certainty & confirmed by observations. Science is never 100% settled – science is about narrowing uncertainty. Different areas of science are understood with varying degrees of certainty. For example, we have a lower understanding of the effect of aerosols while we have a high understanding of the warming effect of carbon dioxide. Poorly understood aspects of climate change do not change the fact that a great deal of climate science is well understood.
64 “Clouds provide negative feedback” Evidence is building that net cloud feedback is likely positive and unlikely to be strongly negative. Although the cloud feedback is one of the largest remaining uncertainties in climate science, evidence is building that the net cloud feedback is likely positive, and unlikely to be strongly negative.
65 “Sea level rise predictions are exaggerated” Sea level rise is now increasing faster than predicted due to unexpectedly rapid ice melting. Observed sea levels are actually tracking at the upper range of the IPCC projections. When accelerating ice loss from Greenland and Antarctica are factored into sea level projections, the estimated sea level rise by 2100 is between 75cm to 2 metres.
66 “It’s the ocean” The oceans are warming and moreover are becoming more acidic, threatening the food chain. Oceans are warming across the globe. In fact, globally oceans are accumulating energy at a rate of 4 x 1021 Joules per year – equivalent to 127,000 nuclear plants (which have an average output of 1 gigawatt) pouring their energy directly into the world’s oceans. This tells us the planet is in energy imbalance – more energy is coming in than radiating back out to space.
67 “IPCC were wrong about Amazon rainforests” The IPCC statement on Amazon rainforests was correct, and was incorrectly reported in some media. The IPCC statement on Amazon rain forests is correct. The error was incorrect citation, failing to mention the peer-reviewed papers where the data came from. The peer-reviewed science prior to the 2007 IPCC report found that up to 40% of the Brazilian forest is vulnerable to drought. Subsequent field research has confirmed this assessment.
68 “Corals are resilient to bleaching” Globally about 1% of coral is dying out each year. On a world scale coral reefs are in decline. Over the last 30-40 years 80% of coral in the Caribbean have been destroyed and 50% in Indonesia and the Pacific. Bleaching associated with the 1982 -1983 El-Nino killed over 95% of coral in the Galapagos Islands and the 1997-1998 El-Nino alone wiped out 16% of all coral on the planet. Globally about 1% of coral is dying out each year.
69 “Volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans” Humans emit 100 times more CO2 than volcanoes. Volcanoes emit around 0.3 billion tonnes of CO2 per year. This is about 1% of human CO2 emissions which is around 29 billion tonnes per year.
70 “CO2 effect is saturated” Direct measurements find that rising CO2 is trapping more heat. If the CO2 effect was saturated, adding more CO2 should add no additional greenhouse effect. However, satellite and surface measurements observe an enhanced greenhouse effect at the wavelengths that CO2 absorb energy. This is empirical proof that the CO2 effect is not saturated.
71 “Greenland ice sheet won’t collapse” When Greenland was 3 to 5 degrees C warmer than today, a large portion of the Ice Sheet melted. Satellite gravity measurements show Greenland is losing ice mass at an accelerated rate, increasing its contribution to rising sea levels.
72 “It’s methane” Methane plays a minor role in global warming but could get much worse if permafrost starts to melt. While methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, there is over 200 times more CO2 in the atmosphere. Hence the amount of warming methane contributes is 28% of the warming CO2 contributes.
73 “CO2 has a short residence time” Excess CO2 from human emissions has a long residence time of over 100 years Individual carbon dioxide molecules have a short life time of around 5 years in the atmosphere. However, when they leave the atmosphere, they’re simply swapping places with carbon dioxide in the ocean. The final amount of extra CO2 that remains in the atmosphere stays there on a time scale of centuries.
74 “CO2 measurements are suspect” CO2 levels are measured by hundreds of stations across the globe, all reporting the same trend. CO2 levels are measured by hundreds of stations scattered across 66 countries which all report the same rising trend.
75 “Humidity is falling” Multiple lines of independent evidence indicate humidity is rising and provides positive feedback. To claim that humidity is decreasing requires you ignore a multitude of independent reanalyses that all show increasing humidity. It requires you accept a flawed reanalysis that even its own authors express caution about. It fails to explain how we can have short-term positive feedback and long-term negative feedback. In short, to insist that humidity is decreasing is to neglect the full body of evidence.
76 “500 scientists refute the consensus” Around 97% of climate experts agree that humans are causing global warming. Close inspection of the studies alleged to refute man-made global warming finds that many of these papers do no such thing. Of the few studies that do claim to refute man-made global warming, these repeat well debunked myths.
77 “Neptune is warming” And the sun is cooling. Neptune’s orbit is 164 years so observations (1950 to present day) span less than a third of a Neptunian year. Climate modelling of Neptune suggests its brightening is a seasonal response. Eg – Neptune’s southern hemisphere is heading into summer.
78 “Springs aren’t advancing” Hundreds of flowers across the UK are flowering earlier now than any time in 250 years. A synthesis of nearly 400,000 first flowering records covering 405 species across the UK found that British plants are flowering earlier now than at any time in the last 250 years.
79 “Jupiter is warming” Jupiter is not warming, and anyway the sun is cooling. Jupiter’s climate change is due to shifts in internal turbulence fueled from an internal heat source – the planet radiates twice as much energy as it receives from the sun.
80 “It’s land use” Land use plays a minor role in climate change, although carbon sequestration may help to mitigate. Correlations between warming and economic activity are most likely spurious. They don’t take into account local forcing agents such as tropospheric ozone or black carbon. Correlations are likely over-estimated since grid boxes in both economic and climate data are not independent. Lastly, there is significant independent evidence for warming in the oceans, snow cover and sea ice extent changes.
81 “Scientists tried to ‘hide the decline’ in global temperature” The ‘decline’ refers to a decline in northern tree-rings, not global temperature, and is openly discussed in papers and the IPCC reports. ‘Mike’s Nature trick’ refers to the technique of plotting recent instrumental data along with the reconstructed data. This places recent global warming trends in the context of temperature changes over longer time scales. “Hide the decline” refers to a decline in the reliability of tree rings to reflect temperatures after 1960. This is known as the ‘divergence problem’ where tree ring proxies diverge from modern instrumental temperature records after 1960, discussed in the peer reviewed literature as early as 1995.
82 “CO2 is not increasing” CO2 is increasing rapidly, and is reaching levels not seen on the earth for millions of years. Currently, humans are emitting around 29 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year. Around 43% remains in the atmosphere – this is called the ‘airborne fraction’. The rest is absorbed by vegetation and the oceans. While there are questions over how much the airborne fraction is increasing, it is clear that the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing dramatically. Current CO2 levels are the highest in 15 million years.
83 “Record snowfall disproves global warming” Warming leads to increased evaporation and precipitation, which falls as increased snow in winter. To claim that record snowfall is inconsistent with a warming world betrays a lack of understanding of the link between global warming and extreme precipitation. Warming causes more moisture in the air which leads to more extreme precipitation events. This includes more heavy snowstorms in regions where snowfall conditions are favourable. Far from contradicting global warming, record snowfall is predicted by climate models and consistent with our expectation of more extreme precipitation events.
84 “They changed the name from global warming to climate change” ‘Global warming’ and ‘climate change’ mean different things and have both been used for decades. There have long been claims that some unspecificed “they” has “changed the name from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’”. In reality, the two terms mean different things, have both been used for decades, and the only individual to have specifically advocated changing the name in this fashion is a global warming ‘skeptic’.
85 “Solar Cycle Length proves its the sun” The sun has not warmed since 1970 and so cannot be driving global warming. The claim that solar cycle length proves the sun is driving global warming is based on a single study published in 1991. Subsequent research, including a paper by a co-author of the original 1991 paper, finds the opposite conclusion. Solar cycle length as a proxy for solar activity tells us the sun has had very little contribution to global warming since 1975.
86 “CO2 is coming from the ocean” The ocean is absorbing massive amounts of CO2, and is becoming more acidic as a result. Measurements of carbon isotopes and falling oxygen in the atmosphere show that rising carbon dioxide is due to the burning of fossil fuels and cannot be coming from the ocean.
87 “IPCC overestimate temperature rise” Monckton used the IPCC equation in an inappropriate manner. Lord Monckton has taken a single equation from the IPCC, used it in an inappropriate manner, and then attributed his results to the IPCC. This is as if I borrowed your car, drove into a tree, and then blamed you. He uses a method that is clearly intended to examine the long-term response of temperature to changes in carbon dioxide, and which is never used by the IPCC (nor should it be) to make predictions about current temperature trends. A slight change in Lord Monckton’s methodology as of July 2010 still does not make his method or attribution remotely appropriate.
88 “CO2 is not the only driver of climate” Theory, models and direct measurement confirm CO2 is currently the main driver of climate change. While there are many drivers of climate, CO2 is the most dominant radiative forcing and is increasing faster than any other forcing.
89 “Peer review process was corrupted” An Independent Review concluded that CRU’s actions were normal and didn’t threaten the integrity of peer review. The Independent Climate Change Email Review investigated the CRU scientists’ actions relating to peer review. In one case, it judged their strong reaction to a controversial paper was not unusual. In another, it turned out the alleged victim had actually been spreading malicious rumours about CRU. In a third, the allegation of collusion fell apart when the full email exchange was examined. The Review concluded that CRU’s actions were normal and did not threaten the integrity of peer review.
90 “Southern sea ice is increasing” Antarctic sea ice has grown in recent decades despite the Southern Ocean warming at the same time. Antarctic sea ice has growing over the last few decades but it certainly is not due to cooling – the Southern Ocean has shown warming over same period. Increasing southern sea ice is due to a combination of complex phenomena including cyclonic winds around Antarctica and changes in ocean circulation.
91 “It’s microsite influences” Microsite influences on temperature changes are minimal; good and bad sites show the same trend. Poor weather stations actually show a coolertrend compared to well sited stations. This is due to instrumentation changes. When this is taken into account, there’s negligible difference between poor and well sited stations.
92 “Phil Jones says no global warming since 1995″ Phil Jones was misquoted. When you read Phil Jones’ actual words, you see he’s saying thereisa warming trend but it’s not statistically significant. He’s not talking about whether warming is actually happening. He’s discussing our ability to detect that warming trend in a noisy signal over a short period.
93 “Humans are too insignificant to affect global climate” Humans are small but powerful, and human CO2 emissions are causing global warming. Atmospheric CO2 levels are rising by 15 gigatonnes per year. Humans are emitting 26 gigatonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Humans are dramatically altering the composition of our climate.
94 “Lindzen and Choi find low climate sensitivity” Lindzen and Choi’s paper is viewed as unacceptably flawed by other climate scientists. Lindzen’s analysis has several flaws, such as only looking at data in the tropics. A number of independent studies using near-global satellite data find positive feedback and high climate sensitivity.
95 “Dropped stations introduce warming bias” If the dropped stations had been kept, the temperature would actually be slightly higher. Dropped weather stations actually show a slightly warmer trend compared to kept stations. So the removal of these faster warming dropped stations has actually imposed a slight cooling trend although the difference is negligible since 1970.
96 “It’s too hard” Scientific studies have determined that current technology is sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions enough to avoid dangerous climate change. The argument that solving the global warming problem by reducing human greenhouse gas emissions is “too hard” generally stems from the belief that (i) our technology is not sufficiently advanced to achieve significant emissions reductions, and/or (ii) that doing so would cripple the global economy. However, studies have determined that current technology is sufficient to reduce greenhouse gas emissions the necessary amount, and that we can do so without significant impact on the economy.
97 “It’s albedo” Albedo change in the Arctic, due to receding ice, is increasing global warming. The long term trend from albedo is that of cooling. In recent years, satellite measurements of albedo show little to no trend.
98 “Tree-rings diverge from temperature after 1960″ This is a detail that is complex, local, and irrelevant to the observed global warming trend. The divergence problem is a physical phenomenon – tree growth has slowed or declined in the last few decades, mostly in high northern latitudes. The divergence problem is unprecedented, unique to the last few decades, indicating its cause may be anthropogenic. The cause is likely to be a combination of local and global factors such as warming-induced drought and global dimming. Tree-ring proxy reconstructions are reliable before 1960, tracking closely with the instrumental record and other independent proxies.
99 “Hansen’s 1988 prediction was wrong” Jim Hansen had several possible scenarios; his mid-level scenario B was right.

Subsequent comparison of observations with predictions find that Hansen’s Scenario B (which most closely matched the level of CO2 emissions) shows close correlation with observed temperatures.

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via 99 One-Liners Rebutting Denier Talking Points — With Links To The Full Climate Science | ThinkProgress. via 99 One-Liners Rebutting Denier Talking Points — With Links To The Full Climate Science | ThinkProgress.

Temperatures Rising: Just Too Hot In The Heart Of Africa


How climate change looks — and feels — in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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KISANGANI – The searing heat of the last few months in this northern city of the Democratic Republic of Congo is taking its toll. Newborns, the elderly and albinos are the first victims, while others will feel the effects of the crop damage expected from one of the worst heat waves in memory.

Over the past three months, average temperatures in Kisangani have risen from 25°C to 38°C. “This is a first. The city has never known a level over 32°C,” says one veteran meteorologist.

Still, last year there was also a rise in temperatures, and some experts are blaming global warming. Climate expert Emmanuel Kasongo from Kisangani University points the finger at deforestation, which he says “diminishes the frequency of rainfall, modifies the agricultural calendar and produces greater heat.” He exhorts the woodland farmers as well as the population to plant trees.

Beyond the longterm impact, locals are feeling the heat right now. Babies are the first victims. One naked infant of three months is lying face down on a sofa, crying. Her mother tries to take her in her arms to calm her down but it’s useless. “She’s having trouble sleeping because of this red patch,” says the woman. “I’ve been using this ointment the doctor prescribed but it doesn’t work.”

These last three months, the local pediatric center of Alabul has taken in three times as many dehydrated babies as it did during the same period in 2012. Head nurse Alphie Kahambu blames it on the rising temperatures: “Obviously, when it’s 32°C the babies feel 38°C. It results in spots and severe itching sensations. As the infants don’t know how to scratch, they cry a lot, which leads to dehydration.”

Albinos without sunblock

The significant populaiton of albinos are the most affected, since the sun rays cause lesions on their skin. According to the figures provided by the Association for the Protection of Albinos (APRODEPA), “80% of the albino population suffers from minor wounds on their skin and mouth because of the high temperatures,” explains association president Severin Ndumba. “The situation is getting worse since we have no sunscreen to protect us at this time of year.”

The pharmacists refuse to order those products since they don’t sell well on the local market. “No one buys sunscreen. I threw away a whole case of a hundred last year,” says one pharmacist. Another complains that the products are expensive “and most albinos, or their parents, are poor.”

The sheet metal roofs used in local building turn the houses into virtual ovens and many families choose to sleep outside with the doors and windows wide open. One family was robbed recently, but the mother says they have no choice. “It’s too hot inside. My kids caught a heat rash on their backs because of it.”

The plants are also taking a hit. “Every crop is affected by the excessive heat and the harvests have been dropping the last two years,” explains Quadratus Muganza, president of the peasant union for development (UPDKIS). “We used to harvest between 800 and 1000 kilograms of white rice per hectare in 2010, but it plummeted to 400 or 600 in 2011 and 2012.”

Tomatoes are withering under the sun. “We are losing serious money!” says a tomato farmer in front of his field by the river Tshopo. She’s already lost ten patches of large tomatoes since March.

via Temperatures Rising: Just Too Hot In The Heart Of Africa – All News Is Global |.

via Temperatures Rising: Just Too Hot In The Heart Of Africa – All News Is Global |.

“Safe fracking” is a fairy tale


Scientists: There is no such thing as “safe fracking”

by Amy Mall

National Resources Defense Council

 

There are a few new reports from Europe on fracking that provide a lot of valuable information:

A joint report from Germany’s Federal Environment Agency and Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety was released in September. Among the conclusions about the environmental impacts of fracking:

Fracking technology can lead to groundwater contamination.

There are current gaps in knowledge about environmental risks.

Germany should use a step-by-step approach on the use of fracking.

There should be tight restrictions and a ban in areas that provide drinking water and spa regions.

Experts advise against large-scale fracking.

An environmental impact assessment should be conducted for every fracking project.

Also in Germany, Exxon-Mobil funded a panel of independent experts to conduct a Hydrofracking Risk Assessment (the lengthy executive summary is available in English). Yes, you heard me correctly: while Exxon-Mobil financed the study, the company had no say in the content of the report or the selection of scientists and none of the scientists involved in the study had ever worked for the oil and gas industry prior to this project. Can anyone imagine ExxonMobil funding a similar project in the U.S.? The panel of experts was monitored by about 50 stakeholder groups. Among the conclusions about the environmental impacts of fracking:

Hydrofracking entails serious risks as well as minor risks.

Hydrofracking-induced incidents can do substantial harm to water resources.

The greenhouse-gas footprint of shale gas is between 30 to 183 percent greater than that of conventional natural gas.

Some of the chemicals currently used in fracking should be replaced due to environmental risks.

Fracking should be banned in certain areas such as areas with severe tectonic risk, areas with pressurized artesian/confined deep aquifers and continuous pathways, and Germany’s Zone I and Zone II drinking water protection areas and thermal spring conservation areas (which may be the same as the spa regions mentioned above). [In Germany, Zone I is 10 meters from a water well and Zone II is the distance from which it would take contaminated groundwater 50 days to reach a water well.]

Before fracking is allowed in broad areas, a new legal framework is needed as well as additional scientific knowledge.

For now, the only fracking that should be allowed is exploratory wells and single model demonstration projects—under extensive safety conditions—designed to define and optimize the state of the art, gain a greater understanding of the impacts of fracking, and test practices. Such efforts should only occur along with extensive in-depth dialogue with stakeholders and new statutory and planning structures.

The European Commission’s Environment Directorate-General also issued a comprehensive report (almost 300 pages) in September. It is a very thorough description of the fracking process, many of the best practices available to reduce risks, and European rules. Among its findings and recommendations regarding environmental impacts:

There is a high risk of surface and groundwater contamination at various stages of the well-pad construction, hydraulic fracturing and gas production processes, and well abandonment, and cumulative developments could further increase this risk.

Air emissions from numerous well developments in a local area or wider region could have a potentially significant effect on air quality including ozone levels.

There is a significant risk of impacts due to the amount of land used in shale gas extraction and it may not be possible fully to restore sites in sensitive areas following well completion or abandonment.

There are gaps or inadequacies in EU legislation that could lead to risks to the environment or human health not being sufficiently addressed.

Robust regulatory regimes are required to mitigate risks.

via “Safe fracking” is a fairy tale.

via “Safe fracking” is a fairy tale.

HOW HUMANS RUN THE EARTH


A quick  look at how we humans run our planet

It would appear we as a race are clueless when it comes to population control.

In relation to the  distribution of resources and wealth we appear to be  equally naive.

When it comes to the subject of Ecocide this is an area where humans appear to have developed considerable skills

 

population

The Top 10 Plants for Removing Indoor Toxins


Common indoor plants may provide a valuable weapon in the fight against rising levels of indoor air pollution. NASA scientists are finding them to be surprisingly useful in absorbing potentially harmful gases and cleaning the air inside homes, indoor public spaces and office buildings.

The indoor pollutants that affect health are formaldehyde, Volatile Organic Compounds (benzene and trichloroethylene or TCE), airborne biological pollutants, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, pesticides and disinfectants (phenols), and radon. These pollutants contribute to ‘sick building syndrome’, which causes symptoms ranging from allergies, headaches and fatigue through to nervous-system disorders, cancer and death.

Through studies conducted by NASA, scientists have identified 50 houseplants that remove many of the pollutants and gases mentioned above. Dr. B. C. Wolverton rated these plants for removing chemical vapors, ease of growth, resistance to insect problems, and transpiration (the amount of water they expire into the air). NASA, with assistance from the Associated Landscape Contractors of America, conducted a two-year study directed by Dr. B.C. Wolverton, an environmental engineer from Picayune, Mr. Wolverton has worked as a research scientist for NASA for some 20 years. His study, in the late ’80s and early ’90s, of the interaction of plants and air found that houseplants, when placed in sealed chambers in the presence of specific chemicals, removed those chemicals from the chambers.

More information on this study as well as references and details on specific chemicals can be found on Dr. Wolverton’s website.

Dr. B.C. Wolverton, researcher and author of “How to Grow Fresh Air – 50 Houseplants that Purify Your Home or Office”, conducted plant studies for NASA that determined that plants can clean pollutants in homes, offices, factories and retail outlets. Later, Wolverton expanded the study and assigned plants a rating from one to 10, based on a plant’s ability to remove chemical vapors or indoor air toxins, ease of growth and maintenance, resistance to insect infestation and the rate at which water evaporates from the leaves.

Top ten plants for removing formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide from the air:

1. Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens)

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Also called the “Butterfly Palm”. An upright houseplant that is somewhat vase shaped. Specimen plants can reach 10 to 12 foot in height. Prefers a humid area to avoid tip damage. Requires pruning. When selecting an Areca palm look for plants with larger caliber trunks at the base of the plant. Plants that have pencil thin stems tend to topple over and are quite difficult to maintain.

2. Lady Palm (Rhapis excelsa)

Also called the “Lady Palm”, this durable palm species adapts well to most interiors. The Rhapis are some of the easiest palms to grow, but each species has its own particular environment and culture requirements. The “Lady Palm” grows slowly, but can grow to more than 14′ in height with broad clumps often having a diameter as wide as their height.

3. Bamboo palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)

Also called the “reed palm”, this palm prefers bright indirect light. New plants will lose of some interior foliage as they acclimate to indoor settings. This plant likes to stay uniformly moist, but does not like to be over-watered or to sit in standing water. Indoor palms may attract spider mites which can be controlled by spraying with a soapy solution.

4. Rubber Plant (Ficus robusta)

Grows very well indoors, preferring semi-sun lighting. Avoid direct sunlight, especially in summer. Young plants may need to be supported by a stake. The Ficus grows to 8’ with a spread of 5’. Wear gloves when pruning, as the milky sap may irritate the skin. Water thoroughly when in active growth, then allow the soil to become fairly dry before watering again. In winter keep slightly moist.

5. Dracaena “Janet Craig” (Dracaena deremensis)

The Dracaena grows to 10’ with a spread of 3’. Easy to grow, these plants do best in bright indirect sunlight coming from the east/west. They can adapt to lower light levels if the watering is reduced. Keep the soil evenly moist and mist frequently with warm water. Remove any dead leaves. Leaf tips will go brown if the plant is under watered but this browning may be trimmed.

6. Philodendron (Philodendron sp.)

One of the most durable of all house plants. Philodendrons prefer medium intensity light but will tolerate low light. Direct sun will burn the leaves and stunt plant growth. This plant is available in climbing and non-climbing varieties. When grown indoors, they need to be misted regularly and the leaves kept free of dust. Soil should be evenly moist, but allowed to dry between watering.

7. Dwarf Date Palm (Phoenix roebelenii)

A hardy, drought-tolerant and long-lived plant, the Dwarf Date Palm needs a bright spot which is free of drafts. It grows slowly, reaching heights of 8-10’. The Dwarf Date Palm should not be placed near children’s play areas because it has sharp needle-like spines arranged near the base of the leaf stem. These can easily penetrate skin and even protective clothing.

8. Ficus Alii (Ficus macleilandii “Alii”)

The Ficus Alii grows easily indoors, and resists insects. It prefers a humid environment and low to medium light when grown indoors. The Ficus Aliii should not be placed near heating or air conditioning vents, or near drafts because this could cause leaf loss. Soil should be kept moist but allowed to dry between watering.

9. Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata “Bostoniensis”)

The Boston fern grows to 4’ in height with a spread up to 5’. It has feathery ferns which are best displayed as a hanging plant. It prefers bright indirect sunlight. Keep the soil barely moist and mist frequently with warm water. This plant is prone to spider mites and whitefly which can be controlled using a soapy water spray. Inspect new plants for bugs before bringing them home.

10. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum “Mauna Loa”)

The Peace Lily is a compact plant which grows to a height of 3’ with a 2’ spread. This hardy plant tolerates neglect. It prefers indirect sunlight and high humidity, but needs to be placed out of drafts. For best results, the Peace Lily should be thoroughly watered, then allowed to go moderately dry between waterings. The leaves should be misted frequently with warm water.

The Top 10 Plants for Removing Indoor Toxins – StumbleUpon.

via The Top 10 Plants for Removing Indoor Toxins – StumbleUpon.

Bosco Verticale: The World’s First Vertical Forest Nears Completion in Milan


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Milan is one of the most polluted cities in the world, and the Bosco Verticale project aims to mitigate some of the environmental damage that has been inflicted upon the city by urbanization. The design is made up of two high-density tower blocks with integrated photovoltaic energy systems and trees and vegetation planted on the facade. The plants help capture CO2 and dust in the air, reduce the need to mechanically heat and cool the tower’s apartments, and help mitigate the area’s urban heat island effect – particularly during the summer when temperatures can reach over 100 degrees.

The two towers measure 260 feet and 367 feet tall respectively, and together they have the capacity to hold 480 big and medium size trees, 250 small size trees, 11,000 ground-cover plants and 5,000 shrubs (that’s the equivalent of 2.5 acres of forest). The types of trees were chosen based on where they would be positioned on the buildings’ facades and it took over two years of working with botanists to decide which trees would be most appropriate for the buildings and the climate. The plants used in the project were grown specifically for the building, pre-cultivated so that they would gradually acclimate to the conditions they would experience once placed on the building.

01-Bosco-verticale

via Bosco Verticale: The World’s First Vertical Forest Nears Completion in Milan – NEW PHOTOS Bosco Verticale – photo by Peri Gmbh – Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

via Bosco Verticale: The World’s First Vertical Forest Nears Completion in Milan – NEW PHOTOS Bosco Verticale – photo by Peri Gmbh – Inhabitat – Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building.

Shell Environmental Crimes in Brazil


Screen-Shot-2012-04-28-at-16.28.57

We were recently contacted by an association representing former workers at a Shell/Basf Chemicals factory in Brazil.

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The factory was built in 1977 by Shell. Dozens of former employees of the plant have been diagnosed with prostate, thyroid and other types of cancer, circulatory, liver and intestinal illnesses, as well as infertility and sexual impotence.

 

In August 2010, the two companies were ordered to pay a total of 490 million euros in fines and damages for the workers exposure to toxic substances. The defendant companies have appealed to successively higher courts, initially trying to get the verdict overturned and after that failed, are seeking to have the awarded sum reduced.  This process is dragging on with no end in sight. The plaintiffs claim that the defendants have influence in high places.

 

The workers cannot afford to travel to the Shell AGM to make their case and would like to know if any sympathetic, articulate Shell shareholder of high principle, would kindly offer to raise the matter on their behalf.  One person in particular comes to mind as a candidate.

 

We have now received a PowerPoint presentation for which a non-professional translation of several pages has been kindly provided:

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Screen-Shot-2012-04-28-at-16.28.57

Shell Environmental Crimes in Brazil | Royal Dutch Shell plc .com.

via Shell Environmental Crimes in Brazil | Royal Dutch Shell plc .com.

Conference: Ireland’s Natural Resources – NOT FOR SALE


Irelandʼs Natural Resources

NOT FOR SALE Conference Sun 10 March, 11.30 – 6pm, Gresham Hotel, Dublin

Hosted By Richard Boyd Barrett TD, People Before Profit

Leinster House, Kildare St, Dublin 2. Tel: 01 6183366

Speakers Include: Dr Helge Ryggvik (Norwegian Economic Historian), Catherine Murphy TD, Jessica Ernst (Canadian Scientist Living Fracked), Frank Connolly (Author of SIPTU produced Optimising Ireland’s Natural Resources), Stein Bredal (Norwegian former Oil Worker), Andrew St Leger (Woodlands League), Cllr Brid Smith (People Before Profit),Padraing Campbell (Former Oil Rig Worker), Paul Murphy MEP (Socialist Party), Maura Harrington (Shell to Sea), Pat “The Chief” O Donnell (Fisherman Porturlin Co Mayo)

View Conference Timetable here: PBP Nat Recources Timetable

Full Leaflet here: PBP Nat Resources Conference

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/452984951434692/

The Irish government is giving away our natural resources. Oil and Gas exploration licences have been handed out to big multi nationals under terms that mean the Irish people do not gain jobs, a revenue stream or security of supply. Practices with serious environmental consequences, such as fracking, are not ruled out under law. The harvesting rights to our forests are about to be sold to the highest bidder. This threatens access rights of the Irish people to walk in our forests and endangers the sustainability of our woodlands as they will be exploited for quick sale of timber. Our water is about to be privatised. The rst move has been to transfer the administration of the water services to a new semi state Irish Water and next year water charges will be introduced. When water was privatised in the north of England, the area experienced its first ever water shortages!

Fishing in Ireland has been destroyed by huge multi-national trawlers, aided and abetted by EU quota regulations, plundering our waters. What we need is a sustainable sheries policy that protects the livelihoods of small shermen and allows local shing industry to ourish creating jobs and protecting a valuable natural resource.

The mismanagement and privatisation of our natural resources has a detrimental impact on the environment, jobs and our economy. Decisions are regularly made with regards to our natural resources without any public consultations, which are required under EU law. There is no serious plan for a programme of major public investment to develop renewable energies.

Ireland is in an unprecedented economic crisis. Our natural resources have enormous potential for jobs and economic growth as would a national project to develop renewable energies.

We must act now to change the policy of facilitating multi nationals in their pursuit of prots which is undermining our economy and the environment.

Come along to our conference on Sun 10 March 11.30 – 18.00 in The Gresham Hotel, O Connell Street, Dublin 1

Booking Tel: 01 618 3366 Email: NaturalResourcesConference@gmail.com

via Conference: Ireland’s Natural Resources – NOT FOR SALE | Shell to Sea.

via Conference: Ireland’s Natural Resources – NOT FOR SALE | Shell to Sea.

Thank You Monsanto -Nearly Half of All US Farms Now Have Super weeds


Last year’s drought took a big bite out of the two most prodigious US crops, corn and soy. But it apparently didn’t slow down the spread of weeds that have developed resistance to Monsanto‘s herbicide Roundup (glyphosate), used on crops engineered by Monsanto to resist it. More than 70 percent of all the the corn, soy, and cotton grown in the US is now genetically modified to withstand glyphosate.

Back in 2011, such weeds were already spreading fast. “Monsanto’s ‘Superweeds‘ Gallop Through Midwest,” declared the headline of a post I wrote then. What’s the word you use when an already-galloping horse speeds up? Because that’s what’s happening. Let’s try this: “Monsanto’s ‘Superweeds’ Stampede Through Midwest.”

That pretty much describes the situation last year, according to a new report from the agribusiness research consultancy Stratus. Since the 2010 growing season, the group has been polling “thousands of US farmers” across 31 states about herbicide resistance. Here’s what they found in the 2012 season:

• Nearly half (49 percent) of all US farmers surveyed said they have glyphosate-resistant weeds on their farm in 2012, up from 34 percent of farmers in 2011.

• Resistance is still worst in the South. For example, 92 percent of growers in Georgia said they have glyphosate-resistant weeds.

• But the mid-South and Midwest states are catching up. From 2011 to 2012 the acres with resistance almost doubled in Nebraska, Iowa, and Indiana.

• It’s spreading at a faster pace each year: Total resistant acres increased by 25 percent in 2011 and 51 percent in 2012.

• And the problem is getting more complicated. More and more farms have at least two resistant species on their farm. In 2010 that was just 12 percent of farms, but two short years later 27 percent had more than one.

So where do farmers go from here? Well, Monsanto and its peers would like them to try out “next generation” herbicide-resistant seeds—that is, crops engineered to resist not just Roundup, but also other, more toxic herbicides, like 2,4-D and Dicamba. Trouble is, such an escalation in the chemical war on weeds will likely only lead to more prolific, and more super, superweeds, along with a sharp increase in herbicide use. That’s the message of a peer-reviewed 2011 paper by a team of Penn State University researchers led by David A. Mortensen. (I discussed their paper in a post last year.)

Advertise on MotherJones.com

And such novel seeds won’t be available in the 2013 growing season anyway. None have made it through the US Department of Agriculture‘s registration process. The USDA was widely expected to award final approval on Dow’s 2,4-D/Roundup-resistant corn during the Christmas break, but didn’t. The agency hasn’t stated the reason it hasn’t decided on the product, known as Enlist, but the nondecision effectively delays its introduction until 2014 at the earliest, as Dow acknowledged last month. Reuters reporter Carey Gillam noted that the USDA’ delay comes amid “opposition from farmers, consumers and public health officials” to the new product, and that these opponents have “bombarded Dow and US regulators with an array of concerns” about it.

So industrial-scale corn and soy farmers will likely have to muddle along, responding in the same way that they have been for years, which is by upping their herbicide use in hopes of controlling the rogue weeds, as Washington State University‘s Charles Benbrook showed in a recent paper (my post on it here). That means significant economic losses for farmers—according to Penn State’s Mortensen, grappling with glyphosate resistance was already costing farmers nearly $1 billion per year in 2011. It will also likely mean a jump in toxic herbicides entering streams, messing with frogs and polluting people’s drinking water.

For a good idea of what’s in store, check out this piece in the trade mag Corn & Soy Digest on “Managing Herbicide-Resistant weeds.” Here’s the key bit—note that “burndown” means a complete flattening of all vegetation in a field with a broad-spectrum herbicide such as paraquat, an infamously toxic weed killer that’s been banned in 32 countries, including those of the European Union:

For those with a known resistance problem, it’s not uncommon to see them use a fall burndown plus a residual herbicide, a spring burndown before planting, another at planting including another residual herbicide, and two or more in-season herbicide applications. “If you can catch the resistant weeds early enough, paraquat does a good job of controlling them. But once Palmer amaranth [a common glyphosate-tolerant weed] gets 6 ft. tall, you can’t put on enough paraquat to kill it,” [one weed-control expert] says.

But of course there’s another way. In a 2012 study I’ll never tire of citing, Iowa State University researchers found that if farmers simply diversified their crop rotations, which typically consist of corn one year and soy the next, year after year, to include a “small grain” crop (e.g. oats) as well as offseason cover crops, weeds (including Roundup-resistant ones) can be suppressed with dramatically less fertilizer use—a factor of between 6 and 10 less. And much less herbicide means much less poison entering streams—”potential aquatic toxicity was 200 times less in the longer rotations” than in the regular corn-soy regime, the study authors note. So, despite what the seed giants and the conventional weed specialists insist, there are other ways to respond to the accelerating scourge of “superweeds” than throwing more—and ever-more toxic—chemicals at them.

via Nearly Half of All US Farms Now Have Superweeds | Mother Jones.

via Nearly Half of All US Farms Now Have Superweeds | Mother Jones.

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