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Tag Archives: Environment

Greta Thunberg, Donald Trump, and the Future of Capitalism

Steven Mnuchin, US President Donald Trump’s treasury secretary, outraged liberal commentators at this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos with a snide remark directed at teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. Responding to Thunberg’s call for an immediate exit from fossil fuel investments, Mnuchin said that she should go to college “to study economics” before “she can come back and explain that to us.” Two days earlier, Trump had referred to climate scientists as “the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune tellers.”

The Trump administration’s attitude to climate change, and those campaigning for drastic measures to contain it, is ugly, nasty, and wrong. But behind the crassness and toxicity of Trump, Mnuchin, et al. is cold logic and brutal honesty: Their politics is the only authentic defense of contemporary capitalism. And, judging by Mnuchin’s patronizing advice to Thunberg, they understand that mainstream economics, unlike climate science, is their friend.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/greta-thunberg-climate-change-future-of-capitalism-by-yanis-varoufakis-2020-01

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2020 in Economy

 

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Lake Chad: A War Fueled By Global Warming

The problem is not, as often described, a shrinking of the lake. Rather, it is the unpredictable weather. A study conducted by the Berlin-based think tank Adelphi on behalf of the German and Dutch foreign ministries has concluded that, while the surface area of Lake Chad may fluctuate seasonally, it’s size has in fact remained relatively stable since the early 2000s. Indeed, if groundwater is included, it has actually grown. The problem is the rain: It is becoming less and less predictable. In addition, the lake’s surface is becoming overgrown with islands of grass, which complicates fishing and boat traffic. Climate models predict an increase of extreme weather in the Sahel, which will further exacerbate these problems.

All of this has direct consequences for Europe. Without the cooperation of the Sahel states, the European Union won’t be able to achieve the level of migration control it is hoping for. What’s more: The Sahel is becoming increasingly lawless. Hunger and terrorism are on the rise, as are migration, human trafficking and smuggling.

Lake Chad is one of the most important sources of life in the Sahel. Back in the 19th century, a fascinated French military officer described the lake as an ecological miracle. For centuries, it has provided those who live on its shores and islands with a livelihood. For the entire Sahel, it has served as an economic hub and a source of food for more than 20 million people. But the lake’s ecosystem is changing rapidly — and so, too, are the societies that live around it.

https://www.topixbuzz.com/lake-chad-a-war-fueled-by-global-warming/

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2020 in Africa, Reportages

 

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Australia’s Fires Give Us a Glimpse of What’s Coming

The environmental catastrophe playing out in Australia provides a terrifying glimpse of the “new normal” facing a warming world. Bushfires burning since September have now incinerated over 11.3 million acres, an area bigger than the Netherlands. At the latest count, eighteen people have died, and over a thousand homes have been destroyed.

Yellow smog hangs semi-permanently over major cities, a cloud so toxic that it caused an elderly woman to collapse and later die from respiratory distress after she stepped onto the tarmac of Canberra’s airport. Millions of Australians are being exposed to carcinogenic particles; simply breathing in Sydney’s air has been described as the equivalent of smoking thirty-four cigarettes a day.

Among the devastation, nearly half a billion animals have died, including a sizable proportion of New South Wales’s koalas. Almost certainly, entire species have been wiped out, as fire has swept through ecosystems never before exposed to flames.

Scenes from the affected areas have become increasingly apocalyptic. Tens of thousands of rural residents remain without power. A state of emergency prevails in New South Wales, the third declared in the past few months. In the Victorian disaster zones, people still await extraction by naval vessels.

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2020/01/australia-bushfires-climate-change-new-south-wales-scott-morrison

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2020 in Oceania

 

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Turn up the heat on climate change deniers

The new year has started with obvious signs that global warming is not an invention of scientists, as some politicians claim. Devastating bush fires in Australia, destructive floods in Jakarta and a heatwave in Norway that has people sunbathing rather than skiing are proof of climatic conditions having been shaken up.
Yet the doubters have not changed their views, putting their nations’ economies and industries ahead of international efforts to keep temperatures from rising. They need to change their ways or the disastrous consequences of their poor judgment will be ever-more evident.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, like United States President Donald Trump, is a climate change sceptic. He refuses to accept that the fires that have claimed at least two dozen lives and destroyed nearly 2,000 homes in southeastern states are the result of exceptionally hot and dry conditions brought about by global warming.

https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3045085/turn-heat-climate-change-deniers

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2020 in Asia, Europe, European Union, Oceania

 

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This can be the year when we recharge nature – and ourselves

It’s going to be a rough year. The fatal combination of escalating climate breakdown and the capture of crucial governments by killer clowns provokes a horrible sense of inevitability. Just when we need determined action, we know that our governments, and the powerful people to whom they respond, will do everything they can to stymie it.

Witness the disasters in Australia. In mid-December, on the day the nation’s lethal heatwave struck, Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper the Australian filled its front page with a report celebrating new coal exports and a smear story about the chiefs of the state fire services, who were demanding an immediate end to the burning of fossil fuels. The response of the prime minister, Scott Morrison, to the escalating catastrophe was to embark on a holiday overseas as his country burned.

Some of the Earth’s largest land masses – Australia, Russia, the US, Brazil, China, India and Saudi Arabia – are governed by people who seem to care little for either humankind or the rest of the living world. To maintain their grip on power, which means appeasing key oligarchs and industries, they appear prepared to sacrifice anything – including, perhaps, the survival of humanity.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/02/nature-rewild-eco-anxiety-seas-climate-emergency-environment

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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$166 Water Could Dictate International Iceberg Law

I tasted my first iceberg in L’anse aux Meadows, Canada, overlooking the windswept grassland that clings to the northern tip of Newfoundland. I had ordered a martini on the rocks from the only bar in town, and it arrived at my table gently fizzing. The jagged pieces of ice swirling around the glass crackled as the millennia-old air inside escaped. It was good fun, like drinking nature’s Pop Rocks.

The restaurant where I sipped my cocktail is one of several businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador that trade on the novelty of icebergs to sell their wares. The Quidi Vidi Brewery, in St. John’s, uses 20,000-year-old iceberg water for its Iceberg, a light lager that comes in a striking cobalt bottle. Auk Island Winery blends iceberg water with wild berries to make specialty wines, and the Canadian Iceberg Vodka Corporation makes exactly what its name advertises. For my martini, the waiter told me, a cook plucked a piece of ice from the Labrador Sea while out on his Jet Ski.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/10/iceberg-water-and-race-exploit-arctic/601147/

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2019 in Economy, North America

 

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Slowenien summt

Auf der ganzen Welt sterben die Bienen. Pestizide, Parasiten, Wetterextreme und Monokulturen haben zu so hohen Verlusten geführt, dass man begann, den Wert der kleinen Bestäuber zu eruieren und das beängstigende Bild einer Welt ohne sie zu zeichnen: Keine Äpfel, Kirschen, Erdbeeren, Gurken oder Brokkoli – etwa jeden dritten Bissen Nahrung, den wir zu uns nehmen, verdanken wir den Bienen, schätzen Experten. Die Europäische Union (EU) beziffert die freiwillige Bestäubungsarbeit der Insekten mit einem Wert von 22 Milliarden Euro. Sogar die Literatur beschäftigt sich mit dem Thema, in Dystopien, die vom nahenden Ende der Menschheit erzählen.

https://www.brandeins.de/magazine/brand-eins-wirtschaftsmagazin/2019/wahrnehmung/bienen-slowenien-summt

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2019 in European Union

 

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The climate crisis has sparked a Siberian mammoth tusk gold rush

Glancing into the 50-metre-deep hole the two tusk hunters smiled. Together, they heaved out a caramel-coloured mammoth tusk from the soil where it had been frozen for at least 10,000 years. Their dog, too, seemed to be interested in the find. “Because it’s been locked in the ice for that long it still smelled of the meat, it still smelled of the animal,” says Amos Chapple, who spent three weeks photographing mammoth tusk hunters at work in the Siberian region of Yakutia.

The tusk hunters cleaned their find with dry grass and quickly wrapped it in cling film to keep it moist and preserve valuable weight that would push up its price when it came to selling it. Then the precious cargo, along with two other tusks, went on a winding five hour speedboat journey down a river in northeastern Siberia. The 65kg relic was later sold for $34,000 (£26,800) to a Chinese dealer waiting in the tusk hunters’ village, earning them a total of around $100,000 (£77,000) in just eight days. Everything they left behind – mammoth skulls and bones – was consumed by the elements.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/mammoth-tusk-hunters-russia-china

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2019 in Asia, Europe, Reportages

 

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Dealing With Climate PTSD

I lived in Alaska for a decade, starting in 1996, and it’s been in my blood since the year before that when I first laid eyes on Denali National Park and the spectacular Alaska Range. In fact, five of the nine chapters of my new book are set in Alaska and its mournful title is a kind of bow to my abiding love for this country’s northernmost state. That moment in 1995 when the clouds literally parted to reveal Denali’s lofty summit and its spectacular spread of glaciers proved to be love at first sight. In fact, most summers thereafter I would visit that range as well as others in Alaska, volcanoes in Mexico, the Karakorum Himalaya of South Asia, or the South American Andes.

Then, in the summer of 2003, several months after the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, I listened to radio reports on the beginning of the grim American occupation of that land from a tent on Denali while volunteering with the Park Service. It was there as well, strangely enough, that I first felt the pull of Iraq — or rather of the gaping void in the mainstream media when it came to what that occupation was doing to the Iraqi people. I then decided to travel from ice to heat, from Denali to the Middle East, to find out what was happening there and report on it.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176638/tomgram%3A_dahr_jamail%2C_dealing_with_climate_ptsd

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2019 in Reportages

 

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Why We Strike Again

After more than a year of grim scientific projections and growing activism, world leaders and the public alike are increasingly recognizing the severity and urgency of the climate crisis. And yet nothing has been done.

MADRID – For more than a year, children and young people from around the world have been striking for the climate. We launched a movement that defied all expectations, with millions of people lending their voices – and their bodies – to the cause. We did this not because it was our dream, but because we didn’t see anyone else taking action to secure our future. And despite the vocal support we have received from many adults – including some of the world’s most powerful leaders – we still don’t.

Striking is not a choice we relish; we do it because we see no other options. We have watched a string of United Nations climate conferences unfold. Countless negotiations have produced much-hyped but ultimately empty commitments from the world’s governments – the same governments that allow fossil-fuel companies to drill for ever-more oil and gas, and burn away our futures for their profit.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/climate-strikes-un-conference-madrid-by-greta-thunberg-et-al-2019-11

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

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