31 March 2010
30 March 2010
Apparently the statistics deserve to be questioned; the UN has admitted flaws in the FAO's calculations, and arguments over what the true percentages are will doubtless continue for some time. [My note: The percentage is likely higher, as it appears the FAO paper left the slaughter industry out of the calculations.] The interesting thing about Mitloehner's paper, though, is that he doesn't stop at querying meat-eating's percentage contribution to global warming. He takes a big leap beyond that to broad prescriptions for world agricultural policy: "Producing less meat and milk will only mean more hunger in poor countries....The developed world's efforts should focus not on reducing meat and milk consumption," says Mitloehner, “but rather on increasing efficient meat production in developing countries, where growing populations need more nutritious food.” Far from shutting down the factory farms, in other words, he wants to expand them.Note that Mitloehner says nothing about dangers to human health from such things as the overuse of antibiotics, nothing about the damage to our water supply from the run-off of excrement from factory farms, and (of course) nothing about the issue of cruelty to animals. Even if we accepted the suggestion that our meat-eating habits in no way contribute to global warming, in other words, there are many, many reasons to oppose factory farming. Instead, Mitloehner endorses a call for "replacing current suboptimal production with advanced production methods — at every step from feed production, through livestock production and processing, to distribution and marketing."
29 March 2010
28 March 2010
27 March 2010
26 March 2010
25 March 2010
If you play at the wrong game and win, that makes you a loser.
24 March 2010
- to the harm we are doing to the Earth and ourselves
- to the opportunity we have to create the best possible future
- to becoming change agents in redirecting humanity's path from (self) destruction to sustainability
- to do it now, within 4 years
23 March 2010
The global event was a call for action on pollution prevention, clean-up and restoration of waterways in order to sustain healthy ecosystems and human well-being.
• An investment of US$20 million in low-cost water technologies, such as drip irrigation and treadle pumps, could lift 100 million poor farming families out of extreme poverty?• Repairing leaky water and sewage networks can also secure not only supplies but reduce pollution and generate employment? In some developing countries, 50-60 per cent of treated water is lost to leaks and globally an average of 35 per cent is lost. By some estimates, saving just half of this amount would supply water to 90 million people without further investment.• Globally, 2 million tons of inadequately treated sewage and industrial and agricultural waste are poured into the world’s waters every day?
• At least 1.8 million children under five years-old die every year from water-related diseases, or one every 20 seconds?
• More people die as a result of polluted water than are killed by all forms of violence, including wars?
• Over half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied with people suffering from illnesses linked with contaminated water?• Human health, the planet’s ecosystems, our livelihoods, and our future all depend on clean, safe water – yet every year, the world’s lakes, rivers and deltas take in the equivalent of the entire human population – the weight of 6.8 billion people – in the form of pollution• In the last three decades of the 20th century, populations of freshwater species fell 50 per cent on average, a rate two-thirds greater than that of terrestrial and marine species. In recent years, the biodiversity of freshwater ecosystems has been degraded more than any other ecosystem,
including tropical rainforests.• One of the most significant sources of water pollution is lack of adequate sanitation. Worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimate that 2.6 billion people — 280 million of them children under five — live without improved sanitation, and each year more than 1.5 million children die from diarrhea caused by infectious waterborne diseases. It is a crisis of local challenges with global repercussions.• Worldwide, it is estimated that industry is responsible for dumping 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other waste into waters each year. New contaminants, such as discarded pharmaceuticals, also threaten water quality and human and ecosystem
health.• The planet’s most widespread water-quality problem is nutrient enrichment. Largely caused by nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural runoff and human and industrial waste, nutrient enrichment results in excessive plant (principally algae) growth and decay that robs the water of oxygen needed for many aquatic organisms to survive.
• It is almost always cheaper to prevent pollution than clean it up — and poor water quality has significant economic costs, from ecosystem and human-health costs and impacts on economic activities to increased water treatment costs and reduced property values. For example, economic losses as a result of health impacts from the lack of water and sanitation in Africa are estimated at US$28.4 billion, or about 5 percent of GDP. And sanitation and drinking water investments have high rates of return: for every US$1 invested, there is a projected US$3-$34 economic development return.
• Freshwater ecosystems sustain a large number of identified species, including a quarter of known vertebrates. Such systems provide more than US $75 billion in goods and ecosystem services for people, but are increasingly threatened by a host of water quality problems.
• promote policies that improve water quality with education and advocacy
• increase enforcement of the regulations put in place to protect water quality; and
• put investor and consumer pressure on corporations that pollute waterways.
22 March 2010
As the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed today International Mother Earth Day, Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma applauded the Members of the world body who had “taken a historic stand for Mother Earth” by acknowledging humanity’s common interest in the protection of the planet and its environment.
“Sixty years after adopting the [Universal Declaration of Human Rights], Mother Earth is now, finally, having her rights recognized,” said President Morales, immediately following the Assembly’s unanimous adoption of a resolution designating 22 April each year as International Mother Earth Day (A/63/L.69).
Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann thanked Bolivia for having taken the lead in bringing the resolution to the Assembly and added that, by declaring the International Day, Member States recognized their responsibility, as called for in the Rio Declaration, adopted at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the “Earth Summit”, to promote harmony with nature and the planet to achieve a just balance among economic, social and environmental needs of the present and future generations of humanity.
By the text, the Assembly acknowledged that “the Earth and its ecosystems are our home”, and expressed its conviction that, in order to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations, “it is necessary to promote harmony with nature and the Earth”.
The resolution, spearheaded by the Bolivian Government and supported by over 50 Member States, noted that Earth Day is observed each year on 22 April in many countries. The Assembly invites all Member States, the entire United Nations system, regional and subregional bodies and non-governmental organizations “to observe and raise awareness of International Mother Earth day, as appropriate”.
In his address, President Morales appealed to all Members of the United Nations to live up to their responsibility to ensure life on the planet by working for unity, equality, dignity and, above all, humanity, which inherently involved protecting — and restoring — Mother Earth.
Action to that end had never been more vital, as the toll of years of environmental degradation and callous exploitation of the planet’s natural resources and ecosystems could no longer be ignored, he said. The incremental yet increasingly obvious impacts of manmade climate change were putting Mother Earth at even more peril, as in his region alone the snow capped peaks of the Andean mountain range were receding every day; islands were buffeted by ever-more violent storms; and arid areas were becoming even drier.
“We are strangling the planet -– strangling ourselves,” President Morales declared, stressing that, for too many years, the world had been held captive by the seductive notion of capitalism. However, it was now clear that “we don’t own the planet, we belong to it,” he said, calling for the twenty-first century to be dedicated to protecting and supporting Mother Earth and her ecosystems.
Some 60 years after activists had fought so hard to win acknowledgement of human rights worldwide, including social, economic, political and cultural rights, Mother Earth was now having her rights recognized, he continued. Indeed, animals and plants -- all living creatures and beings -- had rights that deserved to be respected and protected. Those that had supported the text in the Assembly would be heralded for their historic action, he said, expressing the hope that, as the twentieth century had been called “the century of human rights”, this new era would be known as the “century of the rights of Mother Earth”.
Continuing, President Morales said that, by proclaiming the International Day, United Nations Member States now had the opportunity to begin laying out a Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth. Such a Charter must enshrine the right to life for all living things; right to regeneration of the planet’s biocapacity; right to a clean life -- for Mother Earth to live free of contamination and pollution; and the right to harmony and balance among and between all things.
In closing remarks, Assembly President d’Escoto said the world body was sending a special message of hope with Mother Earth Day. Even as scientists and biologists sounded the alarm that the world may already be at the “tipping point”, at which the damage wrought on the environment might be irreversible, the United Nations had moved “to put people and the well-being of the planet at the centre of our attention and recognize good stewardship of the planet and our dwindling resources as a shared responsibility”.
“It is only right that we, as sisters and brothers, take care of Mother Earth […] as Mother Earth, after all sustains […] our very humanity,” Mr. d’Escoto said. He urged listening to the voices of indigenous people, who, despite all odds, had sustained their profound links with nature. He urged support for the world’s small farmers and food producers, who, with sustainable farming methods, could provide us with healthy food, while not being driven into poverty by unfair trade policies and the actions of rapacious agro-industries. “Our decision today marks one more symbolic step in changing the dominant mindset that has brought us so close to self-destruction,” he said.
21 March 2010
FIVE THINGS WE DEMAND THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS DO IMMEDIATELY:
1. Declare a moratorium on all home evictions. Not one more family should be thrown out of their home. The banks must adjust their monthly mortgage payments to be in line with what people's homes are now truly worth -- and what they can afford. Also, it must be stated by law: If you lose your job, you cannot be tossed out of your home.
2. Congress must join the civilized world and expand Medicare For All Americans. A single, nonprofit source must run a universal health care system that covers everyone. Medical bills are now the #1 cause of bankruptcies and evictions in this country. Medicare For All will end this misery. You must call AND write your members of Congress and demand nothing less, no compromises allowed. Click here to join the fight!
3. Demand publicly-funded elections and a prohibition on elected officials leaving office and becoming lobbyists. Yes, those very members of Congress who solicit and receive millions of dollars from wealthy interests must vote to remove ALL money from our electoral and legislative process. Tell your members of Congress they must support campaign finance bill H.R.1826.
4. Each of the 50 states must create a state-owned public bank like they have in North Dakota. Then congress MUST reinstate all the strict pre-Reagan regulations on all commercial banks, investment firms, insurance companies -- and all the other industries that have been savaged by deregulation: Airlines, the food industry, pharmaceutical companies -- you name it. If a company's primary motive to exist is to make a profit, then it needs a set of stringent rules to live by -- and the first rule is "Do no harm." The second rule: The question must always be asked -- "Is this for the common good?" (Click here for a preview of the ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ DVD extra, ‘The Socialist Bank of — North Dakota?’)
5. Save this fragile planet and declare that all the energy resources above and beneath the ground are owned collectively by all of us. Just like they do it in Sarah Palin's socialist Alaska. We only have a few decades of oil left. The public must be the owners and landlords of the natural resources and energy that exists within our borders or we will descend further into corporate anarchy. And when it comes to burning fossil fuels to transport ourselves, we must cease using the internal combustion engine and instruct our auto/transportation companies to rehire our skilled workforce and build mass transit (clean buses, light rail, subways, bullet trains, etc.) and new cars that don't contribute to climate change. (For more on this, here's a proposal I wrote in December.) Demand that General Motors' de facto chairman, Barack Obama, issue a JFK man-on-the-moon-style challenge to turn our country into a nation of trains and buses and subways. For Pete's sake, people, we were the ones who invented (or perfected) these damn things in the first place!! [Visit Moore's Do Something webpage to see his links.]
20 March 2010
19 March 2010
Yale Environment 360 also wrote about this sad loss. My heart goes out to the people in La Paz and other Bolivian cities and regions who are losing their main source of drinking water, one that has been around for 18,000 years.
18 March 2010
Maybe this is a bit rude, and I'd be the first to admit that I don't know a whole lot about the science, but comment #1 looks sorta nutty to me.
As in, "Just blather something about peak oil and scenarios and things and yada yada yada and maybe someone will believe it." That's sort of the problem, I think. Amateurs like myself have a hard time distinguishing legitimate science and sciency-sounding words and things.
[F]or those looking to confirm their ignorance and their prejudices that the whole thing is rubbish, then they can look at our first comment and say, "Hell yeah! The peak oil and the thing and the whatever! (burp)"And I think he's exactly right. The Denial Machine is well oiled — and well heeled. They have spent a lot of money to know exactly what sorts of things to say and how to say them in order to confuse insert-percentage-of-people-here insert-percentage-of-time-here. (You know, focus groups and psychologists and stuff like that.)
It must drive you mad being a climatologist. You spend your life measuring carbon emissions, and monitoring glaciers and studying lumps of moss from Siberia, and then you hear someone on a radio phone-in yelling, "How can they say the world's getting hotter? I mean at night, it's colder than what it was in the day, so it's got colder, not hotter. They must think we're mugs."
Then a series of articles will appear in which it's claimed: "A new study by Professor Zbygnewsk of Cracow proves sea levels have gone back down so everything's fine", before it turns out he's a Professor of Latin dancing, and has a history of solvent abuse.
Or there'll be letters in the Daily Telegraph that go "Dear Sir: May I recall the carefree days when one would enjoy the sport of sailing to Greenland to melt icebergs with a blowtorch. Alas, these days I fear this too would be frowned upon by the climate change fascists. One dreads to think what these paragons of political correctness will try to ban next."
Or, rather than waste time fooling about with analysis, the scientists could read the front page of yesterday's Daily Express, that declared "100 reasons why global warming is natural. No proof that human activity is to blame." And there inside were the reasons, as outlined by Jim McConalogue of the "European Foundation". Number one was, "There is no scientific proof." So the retort to all the studies from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NASA, the Royal Society, all 928 papers on the matter in the journal Science and every major scientific institution, is: "Yeah, but there's no proof."
You'd expect number two to be: "Because it's all, like, made up and stuff." Then number three would be, "Dur, whatever", and number four, "I've already TOLD you in number ONE." Instead there's number 30: "Global warming is the argument of flat-earthers." How is that relevant, I wonder. Maybe number 42 was: "My brother-in-law says it's getting warmer and you don't want to trust him."
I gave up at around 40 so maybe the rest was genius, but more likely it went on: "58. It's claimed global warming is making some species die out, but there's still loads of rabbits."
The issue that's boosted the disbelievers is the discovery of messages, sent to scientists, encouraging them to tweak their statistics in favour of proving climate change. Which was unhelpful and crazy, but doesn't disprove the sackfuls of evidence that climate change is carbon-related, any more than it would disprove the existence of gravity if it was discovered Isaac Newton had shouted: "We want to prove this theory beyond all doubt so chuck the apple as hard as you can."
But also, the people who insist this incident proves all the evidence is unreliable, are similar to creationists who pick up on flaws in the detail of Darwin's theories, without necessarily applying equal rigour to their theory, that light was created before the Sun, and Eve didn't notice she was naked until she was persuaded to eat an apple by a talking snake. Because many prominent climate change sceptics seem by coincidence to be in the pay of the energy industry.
So the Heartlands Institute received $676,000 from Exxon Oil, to discredit the idea of climate change. Patrick Michaels, often presented as an expert who disputes the link between carbon emissions and climate change, has received over $100,000 from energy companies to put their case.
So when they inform us they've discovered there's no proof of climate change, and the planet's just going through its natural cycle, it's as meaningless as if a spokesman for Fairy Liquid was introduced by Patrick Moore on The Sky at Night, and said: "The orbit of Neptune seems to confirm that a bottle of Fairy Liquid washes up to 40 per cent more dishes than any other brand."
[I think those of us not living in the UK might miss something in that last paragraph.]
They're not all paid by Exxon. The genius with his 100 top global-warming denying tips seems to be doing it for free. But he is a member of Conservative Right, and that's the clue for the other motive of these people. For them, climate change threatens the free market. How can oil companies make their maximum profits if they have to worry about making the planet fizz into oblivion? It can't be true because it mustn't be true.
"It can't be true because it mustn't be true." That says it all, doesn't it? That explains deniers and their denial. "It can't be true because it mustn't be true." It takes a courageous person to accept that something is true when they don't want it to be.So no matter how much evidence there is they'll carry on disputing it. Sussex will be desert and Guernsey will disappear, and they'll tell us: "If sea levels are rising the obvious answer is to build roads over them. After all, it's not the roads that are rising is it?"