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The toxic rhetoric of climate change

By Judith Curry | Climate Etc. | December 14, 2019

“I genuinely have the fear that climate change is going to kill me and all my family, I’m not even kidding it’s  all I have thought about for the last 9 months every second of the day. It’s making me sick to my stomach, I’m not eating or sleeping and I’m getting panic attacks daily. It’s currently 1 am and I can’t sleep as I’m petrified.”  – Young adult in the UK

Letter from a worried young adult in the UK

I received this letter last nite, via email:

“I have no idea if this is an accurate email of yours but I just found it and thought I’d take a chance. My name is XXX I’m 20 years old from the UK. I have been well the only word to describe it is suffering as I genuinely have the fear that climate change is going to kill me and all my family, I’m not even kidding it’s  all I have thought about for the last 9 months every second of the day. It’s making my sick to my stomach, I’m not eating or sleeping and I’m getting panic attacks daily. It’s currently 1am and I can’t sleep as I’m petrified. I’ve tried to do my own research, I’ve tried everything. I’m not stupid, I’m a pretty rational thinker but at this point sometimes I literally wish I wasn’t born, I’m just so miserable and Petrified. I’ve recently made myself familiar with your work and would be so appreciative of any findings you can give me or hope or advice over email. I’m already vegetarian and I recycle everything so I’m really trying. Please help me. In anyway you can. I’m at my wits end here.”

JC’s response

We have been hearing increasingly shrill rhetoric from Extinction Rebellion and other activists about the ‘existential threat’ of the ‘climate crisis’, ‘runaway climate chaos’, etc. In a recent op-ed, Greta Thunberg stated: “Around 2030 we will be in a position to set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control that will lead to the end of our civilization as we know it.”  From the Extinction Rebellion: “It is understood that we are facing an unprecedented global emergency. We are in a life or death situation of our own making.”

It is more difficult to tune out similar statements from responsible individuals representing the United Nations. In his opening remarks for the UN Climate Change Conference this week in Madrid (COP25), UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that “the point of no-return is no longer over the horizon.” Hoesung Lee, the Chair for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said “if we stay on our current path, [we] threaten our existence on this planet.”

So . . . exactly what should we be worried about? Consider the following statistics:

  • Over the past century, there has been a 99% decline in the death toll from natural disasters, during the same period that the global population quadrupled.
  • While global economic losses from weather and climate disasters have been increasing, this is caused by increasing population and property in vulnerable locations. Global weather losses as a percent of global GDP have declined about 30% since 1990.
  • While the IPCC has estimated that sea level could rise by 0.6 meters by 2100, recall that the Netherlands adapted to living below sea level 400 years ago.
  • Crop yields continue to increase globally, surpassing what is needed to feed the world. Agricultural technology matters more than climate.
  • The proportion of world population living in extreme poverty declined from 36% in 1990 to 10% in 2015.

While many people may be unaware of this good news, they do react to each weather or climate disaster in the news. Activist scientists and the media quickly seize upon each extreme weather event as having the fingerprints of manmade climate change — ignoring the analyses of more sober scientists showing periods of even more extreme weather in the first half of the 20th century, when fossil fuel emissions were much smaller.

So . . . why are we so worried about climate change? The concern over climate change is not so much about the warming that has occurred over the past century. Rather, the concern is about what might happen in the 21st century as a result of increasing fossil fuel emissions. Emphasis on ‘might.’

Alarming press releases are issued about each new climate model projection that predicts future catastrophes from famine, mass migrations, catastrophic fires, etc. However these alarming scenarios of the 21st century climate change require that, like the White Queen in Alice and Wonderland, we believe ‘six impossible things before breakfast’.

The most alarming scenarios of 21st century climate change are associated with the RCP8.5 greenhouse gas concentration scenario. Often erroneously described as a ‘business as usual’ scenario, RCP8.5 assumes unrealistic trends long-term trends for population and a slowing of technological innovation. Even more unlikely is the assumption that the world will largely be powered by coal.

In spite of the implausibility of this scenario, RCP8.5 is the favored scenario for publications based on climate model simulations. In short, RCP8.5 is a very useful recipe for cooking up scenarios alarming impacts from man-made climate change. Which are of course highlighted and then exaggerated by press releases and media reports.

Apart from the issue of how much greenhouse gases might increase, there is a great deal of uncertainty about how much the planet will warm in response to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide – referred to as ‘equilibrium climate sensitivity’ (ECS). The IPCC 5th Assessment Report (2013) provided a range between 1 and 6oC, with a ‘likely’ range between 1.5 and 4.5oC.

In the years since the 5th Assessment Report, the uncertainty has grown. The latest climate model results – prepared for the forthcoming IPCC 6th Assessment Report – shows that a majority of the climate models are producing values of ECS exceeding 5oC. The addition of poorly understood additional processes into the models has increased confusion and uncertainty. At the same time, refined efforts to determine values of the equilibrium climate sensitivity from the historical data record obtain values of ECS about 1.6oC, with a range from 1.05 to 2.7oC.

With this massive range of uncertainty in the values of equilibrium climate sensitivity, the lowest value among the climate models is 2.3oC, with few models having values below 3oC. Hence the lower end of the range of ECS is not covered by the climate models, resulting in temperature projections for the 21st century that are biased high, with a smaller range relative to the range of uncertainty in ECS.

With regards to sea level rise, recent U.S. national assessment reports have included a worst-case sea level rise scenario for the 21st century of 2.5 m. Extreme estimates of sea level rise rely on RCP8.5 and climate model simulations that are on average running too hot relative to the uncertainty range of ECS. The most extreme scenarios of 21st century sea level rise are based on speculative and poorly understood physical processes that are hypothesized to accelerate the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. However, recent research indicates that these processes are very unlikely to influence sea level rise in the 21st century. To date, in most of the locations that are most vulnerable to sea level rise, local sinking from geological processes and land use has dominated over sea level rise from global warming.

To further complicate climate model projections for the 21st century, the climate models focus only on man-made climate change – they make no attempt to predict natural climate variations from the sun’s output, volcanic eruptions and long-term variations in ocean circulation patterns. We have no idea how natural climate variability will play out in the 21st century, and whether or not natural variability will dominate over man-made warming.

We still don’t have a realistic assessment of how a warmer climate will impact us and whether it is ‘dangerous.’ We don’t have a good understanding of how warming will influence future extreme weather events.  Land use and exploitation by humans is a far bigger issue than climate change for species extinction and ecosystem health.

We have been told that the science of climate change is ‘settled’. However, in climate science there has been a tension between the drive towards a scientific ‘consensus’ to support policy making, versus exploratory research that pushes forward the knowledge frontier. Climate science is characterized by a rapidly evolving knowledge base and disagreement among experts. Predictions of 21st century climate change are characterized by deep uncertainty.

As noted in a recent paper co-authored by Dr. Tim Palmer of Oxford University, there is “deep dissatisfaction with the ability of our models to inform society about the pace of warming, how this warming plays out regionally, and what it implies for the likelihood of surprises.” “Unfortunately, [climate scientists] circling the wagons leads to false impressions about the source of our confidence and about our ability to meet the scientific challenges posed by a world that we know is warming globally.”

We have not only oversimplified the problem of climate change, but we have also oversimplified its ‘solution’. Even if you accept the climate model projections and that warming is dangerous, there is disagreement among experts regarding whether a rapid acceleration away from fossil fuels is the appropriate policy response. In any event, rapidly reducing emissions from fossil fuels to ameliorate the adverse impacts of extreme weather events in the near term increasingly looks like magical thinking.

Climate change – both man-made and natural – is a chronic problem that will require continued management over the coming centuries.

We have been told that climate change is an ‘existential crisis.’ However, based upon our current assessment of the science, the climate threat is not an existential one, even in its most alarming hypothetical incarnations. However, the perception of man-made climate change as a near-term apocalypse has narrowed the policy options that we’re willing to consider. The perceived ‘urgency’ of drastically reducing fossil fuel emissions is forcing us to make near term decisions that may be suboptimal for the longer term. Further, the monomaniacal focus on elimination of fossil fuel emissions distracts our attention from the primary causes of many of our problems that we might have more success in addressing in the near term.

Common sense strategies to reduce vulnerability to extreme weather events, improve environmental quality, develop better energy technologies and increase access to grid electricity, improve agricultural and land use practices, and better manage water resources can pave the way for a more prosperous and secure future. Each of these solutions is ‘no regrets’ – supporting climate change mitigation while improving human well being. These strategies avoid the political gridlock surrounding the current policies and avoid costly policies that will have minimal near-term impacts on the climate. And finally, these strategies don’t require agreement about the risks of uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions.

We don’t know how the climate of the 21st century will evolve, and we will undoubtedly be surprised. Given this uncertainty, precise emissions targets and deadlines are scientifically meaningless. We can avoid much of the political gridlock by implementing common sense, no-regrets strategies that improve energy technologies, lift people out of poverty and make them more resilient to extreme weather events.

The extreme rhetoric of the Extinction Rebellion and other activists is making political agreement on climate change policies more difficult. Exaggerating the dangers beyond credibility makes it difficult to take climate change seriously. On the other hand, the extremely alarmist rhetoric has frightened the bejesus out of children and young adults.

JC message to children and young adults:  Don’t believe the hype that you are hearing from Extinction Rebellion and the like. Rather than going on strike or just worrying, take the time to learn something about the science of climate change. The IPCC reports are a good place to start; for a critical perspective on the IPCC, Climate Etc. is a good resource.

Climate change — man-made and/or natural — along with extreme weather events, provide reasons for concern. However, the rhetoric and politics of climate change have become absolutely toxic and nonsensical.

In the mean time, live your best life. Trying where you can to lessen your impact on the planet is a worthwhile thing to do. Societal prosperity is the best insurance policy that we have for reducing our vulnerability to the vagaries of weather and climate.

JC message to Extinction Rebellion and other doomsters: Not only do you know nothing about climate change, you also appear to know nothing of history. You are your own worst enemy — you are triggering a global backlash against doing anything sensible about protecting our environment or reducing our vulnerability to extreme weather. You are making young people miserable, who haven’t yet experienced enough of life to place this nonsense in context.

December 14, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | | 1 Comment

No Plan B for Planet A

Replacing fossil fuels with “renewable” energy would devastate the only planet we’ve got

By Paul Driessen | Watts Up With That? | November 26, 2019

Environmentalists and Green New Deal proponents like to say we must take care of the Earth, because “There is no Planet B.” Above all, they insist, we must eliminate fossil fuels, which they say are causing climate change worse than the all-natural ice ages, Medieval Warm Period or anything else in history.

Their Plan A is simple: No fossil fuels. Keep them in the ground. More than a few Democrat presidential aspirants have said they would begin implementing that diktat their very first day in the White House.

Their Plan B is more complex: Replace fossil fuels with wind, solar, biofuel and battery power – their supposedly renewable, sustainable alternatives to oil, gas and coal. Apparently by waving a magic wand.

We don’t have a Planet B. And they don’t really have a Plan B. They just assume and expect that this monumental transformation will simply happen. Wind, solar, battery and biofuel technologies represent the natural evolution toward previously unimaginable energy sources – and they will become more efficient over time. Trust us, they say.

Ask them for details, and their responses range from evasive to delusional, disingenuous – and outrage that you would dare ask. The truth is, they don’t have a clue. They’ve never really thought about it. It’s never occurred to them that these technologies require raw materials that have to be dug out of the ground, which means mining, which they vigorously oppose (except by dictators in faraway countries).

They’re lawyers, lawmakers, enforcers. But most have never been in a mine, oilfield or factory, probably not even on a farm. They think dinner comes from a grocery store, electricity from a wall socket, and they can just pass laws requiring that the new energy materialize as needed. And it will happen Presto!

It’s similar to the way they handle climate change. Their models, reports and headlines bear little or no resemblance to the real world outside our windows – on temperatures, hurricanes, tornadoes, sea levels, crops or polar bears. But the crisis is real, the science is settled, and anyone who disagrees is a denier.

So for the moment, Let’s not challenge their climate or fossil fuel ideologies. Let’s just ask: How exactly are you going to make this happen? How will you ensure that your Plan A won’t destroy our economy, jobs and living standards? And your Plan B won’t devastate the only planet we’ve got? I’ll say it again:

(1) Abundant, reliable, affordable, mostly fossil fuel energy is the lifeblood of our modern, prosperous, functioning, safe, healthy, fully employed America. Upend that, and you upend people’s lives, destroy their jobs, send their living standards on a downward spiral.

(2) Wind and sunshine may be renewable, sustainable and eco-friendly. But the lands, habitats, wildlife, wind turbines, solar panels, batteries, transmission lines, raw materials, mines and laborers required or impacted to harness this intermittent, weather-dependent energy to benefit humanity absolutely are not.

(3) The supposed cure they say we must adopt is far worse than the climate disease they claim we have.

Using wind power to replace the 3.9 billion megawatt-hours that Americans consumed in 2018, coal and gas-fired backup power plants, natural gas for home heating, coal and gas for factories, and gasoline for vehicles – while generating enough extra electricity every windy day to charge batteries for just seven straight windless days – would require some 14 million 1.8-MW wind turbines.

Those turbines would sprawl across three-fourths of the Lower 48 US states – and require 15 billion tons of steel, concrete and other raw materials. They would wipe out eagles, hawks, bats and other species.

Go offshore instead, and we’d need a couple million truly monstrous 10-MW turbines, standing in water 20-100 feet deep or on huge platforms in deeper water, up and down our Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Not as many of the beasts, but each one a lot bigger – requiring vastly more materials per turbine.

A Category 4 hurricane going up the Atlantic seaboard would wipe out a lot of them – leaving much of the country without power for months or years, until wrecks got removed and new turbines installed.

Using solar to generate just the 3.9 billion MWh would require completely blanketing an area the size of New Jersey with sunbeam-tracking Nellis Air Force Base panels – if the Sun were shining at high-noon summertime Arizona intensity 24/7/365. (That doesn’t include the extra power demands listed for wind.)

Solar uses toxic chemicals during manufacturing and in the panels: lead, cadmium telluride, copper indium selenide, cadmium gallium (di)selenide and many others. They could leach out into soils and waters during thunderstorms, hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and when panels are dismantled and hauled off to landfills or recycling centers. Recycling panels and wind turbines presents major challenges.

Using batteries to back up sufficient power to supply U.S. electricity needs for just seven straight windless days would require more than 1 billion half-ton Tesla-style batteries. That means still more raw materials, hazardous chemicals and toxic metals.

Bringing electricity from those facilities, and connecting a nationwide GND grid, would require thousands of miles of new transmission lines – onshore and underwater – and even more raw materials.

Providing those materials would result in the biggest expansion in mining the United States and world have ever seen: removing hundreds of billions of tons of overburden, and processing tens of billions of tons of ore – mostly using fossil fuels. Where we get those materials is also a major problem.

If we continue to ban mining under modern laws and regulations here in America, those materials will continue to be extracted in places like Inner Mongolia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, largely under Chinese control – under labor, wage, health, safety, environmental and reclamation standards that no Western nation tolerates today. There’ll be serious pollution, toxics, habitat losses and dead wildlife.

Even worse, just to mine cobalt for today’s cell phone, computer, Tesla and other battery requirements, over 40,000 Congolese children and their parents work at slave wages, risk cave-ins, and get covered constantly in toxic and radioactive mud , dust, water and air. Many die. The mine sites in Congo and Mongolia have become vast toxic wastelands. The ore processing facilities are just as horrific.

Meeting GND demands would multiply these horrors many times over. Will Green New Dealers require that all these metals and minerals be responsibly and sustainably sourced, at fair wages, with no child labor – as they do for T-shirts and coffee? Will they now permit exploration and mining in the USA?

Meeting basic ecological and human rights standards would send GND energy prices soaring. It would multiply cell phone, laptop, Tesla and GND costs five times over. But how long can Green New Dealers remain clueless and indifferent about these abuses?

Up to now, this has all been out of sight, out of mind, in someone else’s backyard, in some squalid far-off country, with other people and their kids doing the dirty, dangerous work of providing essential raw materials. That lets AOC, Senator Warren, Al Gore, Michael Mann, Greenpeace and other “climate crisis-renewable energy” profiteers preen about climate justice, sustainability and saving Planet Earth.

They refuse to discuss the bogus hockey stick temperature graph; the ways Mann & Co. manipulated and hid data, and deleted incriminating emails; their inability to separate human influences from the powerful natural forces that have caused climate changes throughout history; or the absurd notion that the 0.01% of Earth’s atmosphere that is carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use over the past 50 years is somehow responsible for every extreme weather event today. But they won’t be able to ignore this fraud forever.

Meanwhile, we sure are going to be discussing the massive resource demands, ecological harm and human rights abuses that the climate alarm industry would impose in the name of protecting the Earth and stabilizing its perpetually unstable climate. We won’t let them dodge those issues in 2020.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of books and articles on energy, climate, environmental and human rights issues.

November 26, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism | , | 1 Comment

Why Worse Wildfires? Part 1

What’s Natural?

By Jim Steele | Watts Up With That? | November 23, 2019

There are several theories trying to explain the recent uptick in wildfires throughout the western USA. Some scientists blame increased human ignitions. Others suggest accumulating surface fuels due to a century of fire suppression. Others argue landscape changes and invasive grasses have amplified the amount of easily ignited vegetation, while still others blame climate change. What’s the Sage Grouse connection? Like human communities, the Sage Grouse’s habitat is being threatened by fast spreading wildfires, and that increase in bigger wildfires in sagebrush country is due to invading annual grasses, like cheatgrass.

Historically hot dry sagebrush habitat rarely burned (just once every 60-100 years) because slow growing, patchy sagebrush only provides scant surface fuels incapable of supporting large and frequent fires. But the invasion of introduced annual grasses, like cheatgrass, has changed all that. As one wildlife researcher lamented, “The color of Nevada has changed from a sagebrush silver gray to a cheatgrass tawny brown since the 1990s”. Likewise, in the 1800s California’s hills were covered with perennial grasses that stayed green during the summer. Now California’s hills are golden brown as highly flammable annual grasses have taken over.

Cheat grass-dominated sagebrush habitat now burns every 3-5 years, up to 20 times more frequently than historic natural conditions. Extensive research on the effects of cheat grass found habitats with high cheat grass abundance are “twice as likely to burn as those with low abundance, and four times more likely to burn multiple times between 2000-2015.” What makes cheatgrass such a problem?

Invading annual grasses germinate earlier in the season and deprive the later-germinating native grasses of needed moisture. These foreign grasses die after setting seed, leaving highly flammable fuels that can burn much earlier in the year and thus extend the fire season. Eleven of the USA’s 50 biggest fires in last 20 years have been in Great Basin sagebrush habitats, where invasive cheatgrass is spreading. Nevada’s largest fire was the 2018 Martin Fire. Rapidly spreading through the cheat grass, it burned 439,000 acres, a burned area rivaling California’s largest fires in recorded history.

The 2012 Rush Fire was California’s 4th largest fire since 1932, burning 272,000 acres of sagebrush habitat in northeastern California. It then continued to spread burning an additional 43,000 acres in Nevada. The 2018 Carr Fire was California’s 7th largest fire and threatened the town of Redding, California. It started when a towed trailer blew a tire causing its wheel rim to scrape the asphalt. The resulting sparks were enough to ignite roadside grasses. Grassfires then carried the flames into the shrublands and forests, where burning grasses served as kindling to ignite less-flammable trees. Likewise, grasses were critical in spreading northern California’s biggest fires. In southern California, as humans ignite more and more fires, shrublands are being converted to more flammable grasslands.

Wildfire experts classify grasses as 1-hour fine fuels, meaning dead grass becomes highly flammable with just one hour of warm dry conditions. When experts estimate impending fire danger, they calculate the extent of a region’s fine fuels to determine how fast a fire will spread. The amount of small diameter fuels like grasses that can dry out in an hour, as well as twigs and small branches that dry out within 10 to 100 hours of dry weather, determine how fast the winds will spread a fire. It does not matter if it was wet and cool, or hot and dry during previous weeks or years. Just one hour of warm dry fire weather sets the stage for an explosive grass fire. Decades of climate change are totally irrelevant.

Some scientists point out that certain logging practices also spread “invasive grasses”. For that reason, California’s Democrat congressman, Ro Khanna, has been arguing that the U.S. Forest Service policy to clear cut after a wildfire is making California’s forest fires spread faster and burn hotter by increasing the forest floor’s flammable debris. Khanna warns, “Because we don’t have the right science, it is costing us lives, and that is the urgency of getting this right.”

Bad analyses promote bad remedies and blaming climate change has distracted people from real solutions. The “cheatgrass” problem will continue to cause bigger fast-moving fires no matter how the climate changes. But there are several tactics that could provide better remedies. Holistic grazing that targets annual grasses before they set seed is one tactic. Better management of surface fuels via prescribed burns is another, as well as more careful logging practices. And re-seeding habitat with native perennial grasses or sagebrush could help shift the competitive balance away from cheatgrass. In combination with limiting human ignitions, (see part 2), all those tactics may ensure healthy populations of Sage Grouse living alongside safer human communities.


Jim Steele is Director emeritus of San Francisco State’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus and authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

November 24, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

Norway Opens Up for Nuclear-Powered Allied Submarines’ Port Calls Despite Local Resistance

Sputnik – 08.11.2019

According to local media, the presence of international submarines in Norwegian waters has tripled. In 2018 alone, 27 port calls by US and UK nuclear-powered submarines were registered in Norway.

Soon, nuclear-powered submarines will become commonplace near the centre of Norway’s largest Arctic city of Tromso, Norwegian Defence Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen confirmed to the military newspaper Forsvarets Forum.

According to the minister, work is currently underway to prepare for port calls by allied nuclear-powered vessels at the Grotsund industrial port in Tonsnes. No exact time frame has been given, but it is assumed that the work will be completed over the next few months.

This means that warships of all calibre calling in for maintenance, logistics, or to rest their crews may become a common sight for the inhabitants of Tromso.

“Grotsund industrial port has been chosen as a port of call in Northern Norway because of a suitable dock and and good infrastructure in the area. This will be a permanent offering to our allies”, Bakke-Jensen said, describing the arrival of nuclear-powered submarines as part of the allied activity in Norway and surrounding areas.

Bakke-Jensen estimated the future number of calls at four to five a year. According to him, this will not entail any change in policy or approach to dealing with allied activity. This implies that Norway’s time-tested Bratelli Doctrine of 1975 that explicitly prohibits the arrival of foreign warships with nuclear weapons on board will stand.

“The Bratteli Doctrine has been established as Norwegian policy for over 40 years and has served Norway well”, the minister said.

However, these calls are not without controversy, and the project has met local opposition, among others from the Tromso Municipal Council. Local politicians and activists question the safety measures and are concerned over the consequences if anything goes wrong.

Bakke-Jensen stressed that regional actors have always been involved in the plans. He stressed that no call will be granted unless the Directorate of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety is sure that security is adequately safeguarded, and alleged that no accidents with western nuclear-powered vessels have occurred.

Meanwhile, the presence of international submarines in the waters outside of Norway has tripled, according to the daily newspaper Aftenposten. In 2018 alone, 27 port calls by US and UK nuclear-powered submarines were registered in Norway.

November 8, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power | | Leave a comment

‘Ideal’ science-based sustainable diet too expensive for every 5th person on Earth – study

RT | November 8, 2019

A scientifically “ideal” diet designed for maximum nutrition and environmental sustainability would be unaffordable for over 20 percent of the world’s population, a new study found.

Published in the Lancet journal in January, the specially tailored “planetary diet” was created with not only health but the environment in mind, looking to feed a population of 10 billion by 2050 while reducing diet-related disease and ecological damage. The meal plan called on the world’s eaters to double their consumption of fruits, vegetables and nuts, while largely doing away with the meats and sugars that now dominate the Western diet.

However, the special diet would cost an average of $2.84 per day for each individual, according to a new Lancet Global Health study conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute and the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. That accounts for nearly 90 percent of the daily per capita budget for those living in many poorer countries, making the diet too expensive for at least 1.6 billion people, most located in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

The true number of people unable to afford the diet may be even greater than the Lancet study suggests if other expenses are considered in addition to food.

“The actual number must be higher, since people need to spend at least some money on other things such as housing and clothing, as well as education, healthcare and transportation,” Will Masters, a senior author of the study, told Reuters.

After signaling some approval for the meal plan, the World Health Organization abruptly reversed course earlier this year on the heels of criticism from Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Italy’s representative to international organizations in Geneva. Cornado warned the diet would bring serious economic disruptions, wipe out traditional dishes and cultural heritage, and said the plan risked “the total elimination of consumers’ freedom of choice.”

Given its cost, the “planetary diet” is an unlikely end-all be-all for the problems surrounding the world’s food supply, but the issues it sought to address are far from trivial. The recent Lancet study noted that more than 2.5 billion people suffer some form of malnutrition worldwide, with another 2 billion overweight or obese, adding that current food production methods also “pose risks to the health of the planet.”

November 8, 2019 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Environmentalism, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Science and Pseudo-Science | Leave a comment

Five Years On, Saudi Attacks on Yemen’s Farmers Are Pushing the Whole Country into Famine

By Ahmed AbdulKareem | MintPress News | November 1, 2019

HODEIDA, YEMEN — The country of Yemen, known in the medieval period as “Green Yemen,” is one of the most extensively terraced areas of the world. There, Yemeni farmers transformed rugged mountain slopes into terraces and built dams like the Great Marib, a structure whose history spans long enough that it was mentioned in the Quran. During the medieval period, Yemen had one of the widest ranges of agricultural crops in all of the Middle East.

Farhan Mohammed is one of the richest farmers in Qama’el, a rural village in the region of Baqim in northwestern Yemen. He owns 50 hectares of land which he uses to cultivate corn, pomegranates, and apples. Now, Farhan is struggling to keep his farm afloat after Saudi airstrikes targeted his fields, burning his crops and rendering the soil so toxic that it’s no longer able to sustain life. Saudi Arabia’s now nearly five-year-old project in Yemen has decimated the incomes of Farhan and most other Yemeni farmers. Fuel is hard to come by thanks to a Saudi-led coalition blockade and the fuel that is available has become prohibitively expensive. Airstrikes targeting farm fields and orchards have rendered large swaths of Yemen’s arable land too toxic to use.

Almost immediately after March 2015, when the war began, the Saudi-led Coalition began targeting Yemen’s rural livelihood, bombing farms, food systems, markets, water treatment facilities, transportation infrastructure, and even agricultural extension offices. In urban areas, fishing boats and food processing and storage facilities were targeted.  

Before the war began, over 70 percent of Yemen’s population lived in villages dispersed in the mountains and small towns with irregular, and at times torrential, summer rainfall. These rural residents relied on agriculture and animal husbandry and grew fruits and vegetables to feed their own families and to sell to markets. Yet that way of life has all but disappeared since the Saudi attacks began, undermining rural livelihoods, disrupting local food production, and forcing rural residents to flee to the city.

Now, Yemen’s nationwide level of household food insecurity hovers at over 70 percent. 50 percent of rural households and 20 percent of urban households are now food insecure. Almost one-third of Yemenis do not have enough food to satisfy basic nutritional needs. Underweight and stunted children have become a regular sight, especially amongst the holdouts in rural areas. Families that have fled to cities are often forced to beg or to pick through the trash for food scraps.

According to a recent report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), poverty in Yemen has jumped from 47 percent of the population in 2014 to a projected 75 percent by the end of 2019 because of the war. The report warned, “If fighting continues through 2022, Yemen will rank the poorest country in the world, with 79 percent of the population living under the poverty line and 65 percent classified as extremely poor.”

The intentional targeting of agriculture 

The targeting of the Yemeni agriculture sector and rural livelihoods is not merely accidental collateral damage incurred while targeting military sites. Data from the country’s Ministry of Agriculture shows that in the period between March 2015 and March 2019, the Saudi-led Coalition launched at least 10,000 airstrikes that struck farms, 800 that struck local food markets, and about 450 airstrikes that hit silos and other food storage facilities in the country.

According to the Ministry, crop-area cultivation declined an average of 40 percent and crop yields by 45 percent in rural areas. Many farmers in these areas reported that they could no longer produce yields at pre-war levels due to the extensive damage to infrastructure, the high cost of diesel fuel and other agricultural inputs, a collapse in markets and the destruction of roads and storage facilities.

According to a field survey carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture in the period between March 2015 and March 2018, Saudi attacks completely destroyed 270 agricultural buildings and facilities, 43 agricultural associations, 9,017 traditional irrigation canals, 54 agricultural markets, and 45 export centers.

High precision U.S. bombs dropped by Saudi-led coalition warplanes destroyed at least 1,834 irrigation pumps, 109 artesian and surface wells, 1,170 modern irrigation networks, 33 solar irrigation units, 12 diggers, 750 pieces of agricultural equipment, 940,400 farms, 7,531 agricultural reserves, 30 productive nurseries, 182 poultry farms, and 359,944 beehives.

Yemen has no major rivers like the Euphrates in Iraq and Syria or the Nile River, which supplies water to farmers in a number of African countries. This leaves farmers reliant on irrigation canals that channel rain and floodwaters into weirs and bunds built by local communities that are vulnerable to Saudi attacks. Attacks that have already completely destroyed at least 45 water installations (dams, barriers, reservoirs) and partially destroyed at least 488, including the ancient Marib Dam.

Yemen’s fishing sector has not been spared either. By the end of May 2019, every fish off-loading port in Yemen had been targeted by Saudi attacks. At least 220 fishing boats have been destroyed, 222 fishermen have been killed and 40,000 fishermen lost their only source of income. According to Yemen’s Ministry of Fishing Wealth, this has affected the lives of more than two million people living in coastal cities and villages.

Data shows that Saudi Coalition forces have stopped at least 4,586 fishing boats from leaving port in the directorates of Midi, Hajjah, Dabab, Bab al-Mandab, and in the Mukha districts in the Taiz governorate. Thirty fishing industry companies have left the country and about fifty fish factories have closed, causing catastrophic damage to Yemen’s fishing industry. Even before the war, Yemen’s fishermen were amongst the poorest segments of society.

As the war nears its fifth year, the Saudi-led coalition has continued to target the livelihoods of Yemen’s food producers. The coalition has expanded its military offensive to include large areas of agricultural lands and valleys in the K16, Durahami, Al-Jah, A-Tahita, Al-Faza, Jabaliya, Al-Mughrous, Al-Khokha and Hays countrysides.

Yemen’s breadbasket withers

With family in tow, Haddi Ibrahim Koba fled his family home in Al-Shaab in northwestern Tihama months ago after Saudi airstrikes destroyed his farm. The Koba family now struggles to eke out an existence 60 km away in the populous Hajjah province. Once proudly self-sufficient, relying on animal husbandry and farming for their livelihood, they now depend on handouts from humanitarian organizations, the meager bodies of their children already show signs of malnutrition.

According to a study by the Sana’a University-based Water & Environment Centre (WEC) in collaboration with the Flood-Based Livelihoods Network issued in November 2017 to assess the impact of the current war on food security in Yemen, the war is already drastically aggravating Yemenis’ ability to earn a livelihood, rapidly deteriorating the availability of food and elevating the complexity of an already dire humanitarian crisis in the country.

The study, The War Impact on Food Security in the Tihama, (Tihama is a region of Yemen traditionally known to be the country’s breadbasket) showed how agriculture in Tihama, which sustains most of the country’s population, has been seriously disrupted by the war. This, the study’s authors say, is undermining the productivity and investment capacity of the entire country.

Wadi Zabid is one of Tihama’s main valleys located in the Houthi stronghold of Hodeida, the second-largest governorate in Yemen. It is the second-largest valley in Tihama, with an area of 4,639 square kilometers. Before the war, Wadi Zabid was a model of sustainable agriculture and food security, but as of June 2017, when the WEC study was released, 43 percent of the valley’s residents were going hungry every night. Land cultivation has decreased by 51 percent and crop yields per hectare have declined between up to 61 percent. The production of fruits and vegetables has been wiped out as has the livestock population. Today, conditions for farmers in Tihama are likely even more dire than they were when the study was released.

Tihama’s woes are not due to climate change or local mismanagement. Instead, they are a direct result of the destruction of irrigation and water infrastructure resulting from Saudi attacks on the valley’s diversion dams and irrigation systems. Water in the irrigation canals in the downstream villages of both of Tihama’s main valley’s has decreased by about 60 percent since the war began, according to the study.

That damage has also created a massive impact on upstream areas that rely heavily on floodwater irrigation and has damaged irrigation systems and diversion dams affecting up to 75 percent of Tihama’s households.

Creating a toxic legacy

The Saudi-led coalition’s blockade on Yemen’s ports, airports and borders has only exacerbated the suffering of the country’s farmers and rural residents. The coalition has prevented the export of their products, especially to wealthy Gulf countries which imported thousands of tons of pomegranates and vegetables from Yemen before the war began. Importing pesticides, agricultural fertilizers and fuel has also become difficult due to the frequent seizure of seafaring vessels by the coalition.

For 77 days, the coalition, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, has continued to hold ships loaded with oil derivatives at sea, preventing them from entering the port of Hodeida.  The four ships that were allowed in carried transport fuel, not the fuel needed to power generators on which farmers rely.

Like in Tahamah, the blockade and attacks on agricultural targets across Yemen have not only destroyed machinery and infrastructure, it has had acute ecological impacts that may take decades to reverse. The accumulation of sediment in flood channels due to damaged gates and automatic barriers has caused trees to begin to reclaim now-dormant stream beds and flood plains, hampering the arrival of much-needed floodwaters to agricultural fields.

A Yemeni farmer tries to chase locusts off of his fields. Photo | UNFAO

Fertile soil, especially in the border areas in Saada and Hajjah, has become environmentally polluted due to the number of weapons dropped in more than half a million airstrikes. That pollution has not only affected the soil, experts fear it could genetically alter the pomegranates, grapes and coffee that were once staple crops in Yemen. Farmers and their families are at constant risk from unexploded ordnance, especially cluster bombs like the one that killed a young boy on his family farm in Hodeida last Thursday.

Agricultural and environmental experts that spoke to MintPress said that the effects of the Saudi coalition’s targeting of the agricultural sector will likely last for decades. The Director of Agricultural Extension in Yemen, Salah al-Mashreqi, said that more catastrophic effects will appear in the medium and long term, including genetic changes to pomegranates, for which Yemen is famous.

The deliberate targeting of food is prohibited by article 54 of the Geneva Conventions and the May 24, 2018, UN Security Council resolution 2417 on the protection of civilians in wartime, specifically reiterates this principle. Article 14 of the 1977 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions clearly states that starvation as a means of combat is not allowed: ‘’It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable for the survival of the civilian population.” Yet the international community has done little to curb the Saudi-led coalitions use of starvation as a tactic of war in Yemen.

This, in large part, according to many Yemenis and legal scholars alike, is because Saudi Arabia enjoys the near-total diplomatic protection of the United States. Without that support, Saudi Arabia’s airstrikes, which rely on American contractors, targeting software, training, weapons, and technicians to target farmers that are concerned with little more than feeding themselves and their country, would not be possible.

Ahmed AbdulKareem is a Yemeni journalist. He covers the war in Yemen for MintPress News as well as local Yemeni media.

November 1, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

‘Naive wind industry could destroy our way of life’

By Andrew Lee | Recharge | February 20, 2019

Clean power, green jobs, no emissions – the wind industry is used to being one of the good guys. But to Åsa Larsson-Blind, president of the Sami Council, it’s just the latest – and potentially most deadly – industrial threat to a fragile, ancient culture focused around reindeer herding up towards the Arctic Circle.

“The wind industry often says it wants to have a dialogue,” Larsson-Blind told Recharge. “But I believe it thinks it is easier to accommodate than it actually is. I think it has a naïve view that it is just putting up some windmills, not taking away [reindeer] pastures.”

The most immediate spark for Larsson-Blind’s anger is the Norwegian state’s rejection of a non-binding request from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to order a halt to work on the Storheia wind farm in central Norway, ahead of further investigation of the impact on traditional reindeer husbandry at the site.

The 288MW Storheia is the second and largest project in the Fosen complex, the 1GW development led by Norwegian utility Statkraft. According to the Sami Council, like other wind farms already operating across the Nordic states and – far worse – the many more in the pipeline, it will have a drastic effect on the reindeer grazing lands that have underpinned the livelihoods and culture of the indigenous Sami people for thousands of years.

Storheia’s 80, V117 Vestas turbines are due to start installation from April. The Sami Council hoped its complaint to the UN CERD, followed by the organisation’s mid-December request for a pause to work, would at least prompt the Norway to allow time for more studies of the project’s impact.

But Larsson-Blind is resigned to a decision that she claimed reflects the odds stacked against the Sami as they attempt to defend the herders’ way of life against a regional wind boom. “We know there are huge economic interests that are at stake.”

A favourable regulatory regime, excellent wind conditions and demand from the region’s flourishing data centre sector means Nordic wind power is moving north and its projects getting larger. The Sami people – numbering about 100,000, and whose traditional lands stretch across Norway, Sweden, Finland and part of Russia – fear the consequences. With a potential 4GW total scope, Markbygden in Sweden is another Nordic mega-project with implications for the Sami.

Wind is the most recent of a clutch of industries to impinge on lands traditionally used for reindeer husbandry – mining and logging are others – but the scale of the projects planned in the Nordics could be “the last straw”, said Anna Skarin, a researcher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, who has investigated the impact of the industry on reindeer grazing lands.

Skarin – who says her work on the issue is non-partisan and funded by the Swedish Energy Agency – has found reindeer avoidance of turbines even on small projects of eight or 10 machines, with an impact observed up to 5km away. The reindeer have a visual aversion to the turbines and, it is believed – Skarin is about to start work to establish for sure – also dislike their noise. On top of that comes disruption from the associated construction work and infrastructure needed to support the projects.

At the level of build-out planned, Skarin reckons the ability to implement mitigation measures could be stretched to breaking point. “There are thousands of turbines in the planning system,” Skarin told Recharge. “I think if everything is built, it will really be a big impact on the ecosystem. We’ve already seen it beginning.”

The number affected is hard to pin down, but Skarin estimates there are 1,000 reindeer herders in Sweden alone, most of them Sami.

Larsson-Blind claims the threat from the wind industry is one of “life or death” for the Sami culture. “When a big wind farm comes like Fosen, it will be impossible to carry on the traditional lifestyle [embodied by reindeer herding].

“The traditional way of life is considered one of the big denominators of Sami culture. If you can’t continue that way of life and pass on the culture, you have no culture.”

Her most scathing criticism is reserved for the Norwegian state, which she believes is providing legal cover for wind power and other industries in a manner that shows “double standards” in a nation that likes to see itself as a paragon of human rights.

In its rejection of the CERD request for a pause at Fosen, Norway’s energy ministry found “no basis” for complying, noting that the project has been “thoroughly tested in several rounds in the legal system” during which racial discrimination against the Sami did not arise as an issue.

Larsson-Blind claims that legal system simply isn’t set up to adequately deal with the issue, leaving the Sami with no choice but to turn to international agencies like CERD. “The hard thing is that we do not have enough support from legislation or the government in securing Sami rights to land.” And she appealed to the wind industry to take an independent view of its impact.

“Every company needs to make sure they are taking Sami rights to land into consideration. They can’t just trust the state processes, because they are not perfect.”

For its part, the Nordic wind sector is at pains to emphasise its efforts to take account of the Sami when developing projects – and to scrupulously abide by the legal process operating in each jurisdiction.

Asked by Recharge whether a request from a UN agency should of itself be enough to prompt a halt in work at Fosen, a spokesman for Statkraft said: “If you don’t look at the facts of the case, I can see it would be easy to jump to that conclusion.”

But a “long and thorough licensing process” had consulted all affected parties, “and we know the effect on reindeer herding was given extensive attention, and thoroughly assessed during the appeals processes”.

The Statkraft spokesman pointed to mitigation measures for reindeer populations contained in the license – and that a compensation agreement had been struck with the local herders.

“We do acknowledge that the reindeer herders will be negatively affected by the wind farm. But the negative effects will be mitigated and compensated fully.”

“We are committed to act in a sustainable, ethical, socially responsible manner in everything we do,” said the Statkraft official.

Charlotte Unger, head of industry association Svensk Vindenergi, is also keen to stress the industry’s “dialogue” with the Sami.

“Since they depend on nature with their reindeers, and of course a stable environment, trying to hinder climate change is of course very important also for the Sami people. I hope we could find solutions that are good for [the industry], the Sami people, and regarding climate change,” Unger told Recharge.

With the Sami on the frontline of climate change around the Arctic Circle, this is an argument Larsson-Blind hears often – but it cuts little ice with her.

“Do children really have to grow up without their language, their culture, in the name of fighting climate change?”

October 21, 2019 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

The Apocalyptic Death Cult We Should Ridicule Out Of Existence

The madness of Extinction Rebellion

By Brendan O’Neill – Spiked – 07/10/19

Yesterday, in London, I witnessed an eerie, chilling sight: I saw a death cult holding a ceremony in public.

The men and women gathered outside King’s Cross station and formed a circle. They swayed and chanted. They preached about End Times. ‘What will you do when the world gets hot, what, what?’, they intoned, conjuring up images of the hellfire they believe will shortly consume mankind. They sang hymns to their god – science. ‘We’ve got all the science / All that we need / To change the world / Hallelujah’, they sang, rocking side to side as they did so.

They demanded repentance. ‘Buy less, fly less, fry less’, said one placard. Catholics only demand the non-consumption of meat on Fridays, as an act of penance to mark the day of Christ’s death. This new religion demands an end to meat-consumption entirely, as penance for mankind’s sins of growth and progress.

And like all death cultists, they handed out leaflets that contained within them ‘THE TRUTH’. The leaflets foretell floods and fire: ‘We are in trouble. Sea levels are rising… Africa and the Amazon are on fire.’ The only word that was missing was locusts. They can’t be far behind these other ghastly visitations to sinful mankind.

And if you question their TRUTH? Then, like those heretics who were hauled before The Inquisition 500 years ago, you will be denounced as a denier. A denier of their revelations, a denier of their visions. ‘Denial is not a policy’, their placards decreed. Spotting me filming their spooky, apocalyptic ceremony, one of the attendees waved that placard in my face. A warning from the cult to a corrupted outsider.

This was, of course, Extinction Rebellion. Let us no longer beat around the bush about these people. This is an upper-middle-class death cult.

This is a millenarian movement that might speak of science, but which is driven by sheer irrationalism. By fear, moral exhaustion and misanthropy. This is the deflated, self-loathing bourgeoisie coming together to project their own psycho-social hang-ups on to society at large. They must be criticised and ridiculed out of existence.

Yesterday’s gathering, like so many other Extinction Rebellion gatherings, was middle-aged and middle-class. The commuters heading in and out of King’s Cross looked upon them with bemusement. ‘Oh, it’s those Extinction freaks’, I heard one young man say. It had the feel of Hampstead and the Home Counties descending on a busy London spot to proselytise the cult of eco-alarmism to the brainwashed, commuting plebs.

It was a gathering to mark Extinction Rebellion’s week of disruption. The group is asking people in London and other cities around the world to ‘take two weeks off work’ and join the revolt against the ‘climate and ecological crisis’. You can tell who they’re trying to appeal to. Working-class people and the poor of New Delhi, Mumbai and Cape Town – some of the cities in which Extinction Rebellion will be causing disruption – of course cannot afford to take two weeks off work. But then, these protests aren’t for those people. In fact, they’re against those people.

Extinction Rebellion is a reactionary, regressive and elitist movement whose aim is to impose the most disturbing form of austerity imaginable on people across the world. One of the great ironies of ‘progressive’ politics today is that people of a leftist persuasion will say it is borderline fascism if the Tory government closes down a library in Wolverhampton, but then they will cheer this eco-death cult when it demands a virtual halt to economic growth with not a single thought for the devastating, immiserating and outright lethal impact such a course of action would have on the working and struggling peoples of the world.

Extinction Rebellion says mankind is doomed if we do not cut carbon emissions to Net Zero by 2025. That’s six years’ time. Think about it: they want us to halt a vast array of human activity that produces carbon. All that Australian digging for coal; all those Chinese factories employing millions of people and producing billions of things used by people around the world; all those jobs in the UK in the fossil-fuel industries; all those coal-fired power stations; all that flying; all that driving… cut it all back, rein it in, stop it. And the people who rely on these things for their work and their food and their warmth? Screw them. They’re only humans. Horrible, destructive, stupid humans. … continue

October 8, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism, Progressive Hypocrite, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | | 4 Comments

Dear True Environmentalists: Fight Corporate Criminality, not Atmospheric Gases

By Denis Rancourt | Dissident Voice | October 3, 2019

Dear true environmentalists: I am with you.1

Corporate pollution and releasing of toxic substances should be treated as a criminal act, with full power to seize assets for reparations, actual reparations, not just punitive fines.

I would apply the same standard of prosecution to the “medical”/pharma2 and agri-food industries,3 also.

However, the planet and biosphere are not at risk of imminent collapse, and certainly not from CO2.

The “imminent collapse” fabrication serves powerful manipulators, and necessarily diverts us away from attaining actual democracy and fairness.  In the words of Chomsky:4

For example, suppose it was discovered tomorrow that the greenhouse effect has been way underestimated, and that the catastrophic effects are actually going to set in 10 years from now, and not 100 years from now or something. Well, given the state of the popular movements we have today, we’d probably have a fascist takeover—with everybody agreeing to it, because that would be the only method for survival that anyone could think of. I’d even agree to it, because there just are no other alternatives around right now.

Rather than accept fascism or totalitarianism, corporate and finance criminality can best be fought from a position of realistic perspective regarding the end of the world, sober analysis of means regarding leverage for change, and focused political targeting against corporate rule without accountability.

History of imbedded doomsday narratives

All societies are dominance hierarchies, and all large, human dominance hierarchies have hired high-priests that construct and maintain the State doomsday narrative. These high-priests constantly instruct us on required beliefs and behaviours that minimize the deleterious effects of the alleged impending catastrophe. The behavioural instructions fan everything from diet, to hygiene, to dress code, to physical activity, to work ethics, to attitudes and morals, to child rearing, to political positions, to deference to experts, and so on.

It would be delusional to believe that this structural feature of society is any different than it ever was. In present Western society, the high-priests are the “scientists”, which include the medical doctors and all the “experts”.

This does not mean that science itself is not a valid and rigorous method to test and eliminate hypotheses and theories. It only means that establishment scientists are hired high-priests, notwithstanding the rare exceptions that prove the rule. It also does not mean that scientists never tell the truth. It only means that establishment scientists never harm or rebel against the dominance hierarchy, except by accident or solely in appearance.

These days, there is an industry of scientists that indulge in generating, testing and ameliorating ever more creative doomsday predictions, which are hoped to be of utility to the bosses. The said utility is often termed “societal relevance”. As an eminent example, we have the theory of a “tipping point” towards irreversible total collapse of the ecosphere, often referred to as a “species mass extinction”. The notion of a tipping point has also been advanced for planetary climate, wherein, in the absence of any non-human cause, one crosses into a global climate regime of constant extreme weather and flooded continents.

Whereas past planetary transformations have been related to game-changers, such as the advent of photosynthesis, the calming of tectonic (volcanic) activity, and so forth, and whereas the known recurring climate catastrophe of ice ages is believed to be driven by variations in solar isolation, the new “tipping points” spontaneously occur from the gradual changes of increased modern human or industrial activity, including: habitat destruction, burning of fossil fuel, population growth, and dispersal of toxic substances.

The new “tipping point” theory is not unlike the deluge of the Old Testament, which followed an accumulation of human depravity, except that no god is postulated, and building the Ark requires a centralized and globally restructured economy, handled by overarching elite private institutions, of course. War, disease, hunger … are all defeated under the same umbrella, death itself eventually.

The accompanying calls from establishment icons are often shrill.  In the words of Prince Charles, in 2009:5,6

If we do nothing, the consequences for every person on this earth will be severe and unprecedented – with vast numbers of environmental refugees, social instability and decimated economies: far worse than anything which we are seeing today … We have 100 months left to act.

While the leader of the most warring nation on earth, President Barack Obama, concluded in his 2015 State of the Union speech:7

No challenge  poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.

The role of scientists

The scientists follow and are often not more contained than Prince Charles or President Obama:

Earth is rapidly approaching a tipping point. Human impacts are causing alarming levels of harm to our planet. As scientists who study the interaction of people with the rest of the biosphere using a wide range of approaches, we agree that the evidence that humans are damaging their ecological life support systems is overwhelming. We further agree that, based on the best scientific information available, human quality of life will suffer substantial degradation by the year 2050 if we continue on our current path. Science unequivocally demonstrates the human impacts of key concern: Climate disruption – more, faster climate change than since humans first became a species. …8

We maintain that humanity’s grand challenge is solving the intertwined problems of human population growth and overconsumption, climate change, pollution, ecosystem destruction, disease spillovers, and extinction, in order to avoid environmental tipping points that would make human life more difficult and would irrevocably damage planetary life support systems.9

But today, for the first time, humanity’s global civilization—the worldwide, increasingly interconnected, highly technological society in which we all are to one degree or another, embedded—is threatened with collapse by an array of environmental problems. Humankind finds itself engaged in what Prince Charles described as ‘an act of suicide on a grand scale’, facing what the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor John Beddington called a ‘perfect storm’ of environmental problems. The most serious of these problems show signs of rapidly escalating severity, especially climate disruption. But other elements could potentially also contribute to a collapse: an accelerating extinction of animal and plant populations and species, which could lead to a loss of ecosystem services essential for human survival; land degradation and land-use change; a pole-to-pole spread of toxic compounds; …10

The loss of biodiversity is one of the most critical current environmental problems, threatening valuable ecosystem services and human wellbeing. A growing body of evidence indicates that current species extinction rates are higher than the pre-human background rate, with hundreds of anthropogenic vertebrate extinctions documented in prehistoric and historic times.11

In fact, there is no science of a “tipping point” for earth biodiversity or for earth climate. No such testable theory has been elaborated. The entire notion of “tipping point” is hypothetical and tenuous. It is a product of bias to presume that a large and complex system (planet) would be susceptible to “tipping” rather than extraordinarily stable against internal superficial changes. A recent paper describes how one might begin to define concepts or measures that would allow even discussing the topic of “tipping point” intelligently, for realistic ecological systems.12

Furthermore, even among scientists, still getting their bearings, there is persistent disagreement as to whether species extinction rates are higher in recent decades. A critical review concludes:13

Net species gains or losses should be assessed with respect to common baselines or reference communities. Ultimately, we need a globally coordinated effort to monitor biodiversity so that we can estimate and attribute human impacts as causes of biodiversity change. A combination of technologies will be needed to produce regularly updated global datasets of local biodiversity change to guide future policy. At this time the conclusion that there is no net change in local species richness is not the consensus state of knowledge.

Reality check

There is a large structurally embedded industry of doomsday narrative. In addition, individuals are reared in a dominance hierarchy and therefore constantly seek messaging about fitting in. The result is that we adopt the State religion. Even if the State is occupied by an exploitative elite, we continue to uphold and follow any State religion that has been sufficiently implanted.

In this case, the State religion is that we are cared-for by mother earth but that our bad behaviour is poisoning mother earth and that we are therefore all at risk, unless we adopt the new stringent conditions that should be imposed globally. Non-believers should be rooted out and isolated. We should demand that all our peers and our representatives do what is prescribed by the State religion.

Meanwhile corporate criminality, while dressed in the colours of the State religion, will continue at an accelerated rate, and our minds and bodies will continue to be occupied.3

I say no. To escape this trap, we must realize that the planet is, well, a planet, with huge response capabilities; that the planet is far more resilient and robust than we imagine.

Habitat destruction and industrial practices are grotesque, and these cause real and significant harm to human communities and ecosystems — more so even than actual wars in the present era … although not more so than so-called economic sanctions and exploitative nation financing. In contrast, “warming” itself cannot hurt the biosphere or humans, nor is the planet at risk of “collapse” from all the criminal practices. That is fabricated nonsense.

Our joint efforts should be on justice, attaining actual democracy, the elimination of criminal behaviour, extortion and exploitation, enforcement of reparations, enforcement of corporate transparency and accountability…

The problem is human behaviour against humans and nature, organized by an occupied dominance hierarchy, and the solutions are political; nothing to do with CO2, methane or anything else in the atmosphere.

  1. Questioning Climate Politics: Denis Rancourt says the ‘global warming myth’ is part of the problem” by Dru Oja Jay, The Dominion, 11 April 2007.
  2. Cancer arises from stress-induced breakdown of tissue homeostasis” by Denis Rancourt, Research Gate, December 2015, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.1304.7129.
  3. GEO-ECONOMICS AND GEO-POLITICS DRIVE SUCCESSIVE ERAS OF PREDATORY GLOBALIZATION AND SOCIAL ENGINEERING: Historical emergence of climate change, gender equity, and anti-racism as State doctrines” by Denis Rancourt, Research Gate, April 2019, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.26897.89449.
  4. Undertanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky”, by Noam Chomsky, edited by Peter Mitchell and John Schoeffet, The New Press, NY, 2002; at page 388, in Chapter 10 “Turning Point – Based on discussions in Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland in 1994 to 1996 and 1999”, ISBN 1-56584-703-2.
  5. As quoted in “Apocalypse Now! Fear and Doomsday Pleasures” by Erik Swyngedouw, Capitalism Nature Socialism, Volume 24, 2013 – Issue 1, pages 9-18.
  6. Climate change must be tackled before global poverty, says Prince Charles” by Andrew Alderson in Santiago, The Telegraph, 10 March 2009.
  7. Obama: No greater threat to future than climate change” by Madison Park, CNN, 21 January 2015.
  8. Introducing the Scientific Consensus on Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support” by Anthony D Barnosky et al., The Anthropocene Review, 2014, 1: 78.
  9. Avoiding collapse: Grand challenges for science and society to solve by 2050, by Anthony D. Barnosky, Paul R. Ehrlich, and Elizabeth A. Hadly, Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, 4: 000094, doi: 10.12952/journal.elementa.000094.
  10. Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?” by Ehrlich, P.R. and Ehrlich, A.H. (2013) Proc R Soc B, 280: 20122845.
  11. Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction” by Ceballos et al., Sci. Adv., 2015, 1: e1400253.
  12. Unifying Research on Social–Ecological Resilience and Collapse” by Graeme S. Cumming and Garry D. Peterson, Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Review| Volume 32, ISSUE 9, P695-713, September 01, 2017.
  13. Estimating local biodiversity change: a critique of papers claiming no net loss of local diversity” by Andrew Gonzalez et al., Ecology, 97(8), 2016, pp. 1949–1960.

Denis G. Rancourt is a former tenured full professor of physics at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He is a researcher for the Ontario Civil Liberties Association. He has published more than 100 articles in leading scientific journals, on physics and environmental science. He is the author of the book Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism. Denis can be reached at denis.rancourt@gmail.com.

October 3, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

Washington’s Warmongering Keeps Claiming New Victims

NUK465622

By Grete Mautner – New Eastern Outlook – 22.09.2019

According to the data presented in a number of American media sources, a total of 6,979 US servicemen perished in the so-called Global War on Terror that was launched back in 2001 and lasted up until 2018. Over the same time span, the number of civilian casualties that became victims of US-led wars in the Middle East and other regions of the world reached hundreds of thousands. As has been revealed by the UN, in Afghanistan alone some 32 thousand civilians died in the course of US-led air strikes and ground operations over the last decade.

However, nobody seems to be willing to acknowledge that various weapons research programs can be as lethal to the civil population as military conflicts are. Nothing is ever being said about the countless nuclear weapons tests that Washington conducted in the second half of the 20th century that keep claiming human lives to this day.

Back in 1986, in the aftermath of the horrendous Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the US would launch a media campaign against the USSR, saying that the radioactive contamination of Europe that followed the disaster was unacceptable. At the same time, Washington chose to conceal the truth about the damage it inflicted upon this planet through a series of nuclear weapon tests on the Marshall Islands.

Against this backdrop, it’s particularly revealing that the recent piece run by the Business Insider states that the contaminated zone of alienation around Chernobyl is less radioactive than the above mentioned islands that were known for their idyllic landscapes prior to a series of nuclear weapon tests. In total, the United States conducted 67 of those in a time span from 1946 to 1958 on the once pristine Marshall Islands.

Less than three years after its atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Washington started conducting nuclear weapon tests on the Marshall Islands, with the most powerful of them being the “Bravo” hydrogen bomb in 1954, which was 1,000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It’s been pointed out that the total explosive yield of American nuclear militarism in the Marshall Islands was 93 times that of all US atmospheric tests in Nevada, and more than 7,000 Hiroshima bombs.

Recent studies show that the seabed around the islands, and their soil upon which fruit bearing trees grow have been accumulating radioactive particles at rates that far exceeds any safety standards. Upon testing the soil of Bikini and Enewetok atolls, scientists came to a conclusion that nuclear weapon tests must have produced a more lasting damage to the environment than was originally anticipated.

As has been revealed by Monica Rouco, who was deputy director of Project K = 1, the center of nuclear studies at Columbia University, there have been no independent investigations of radioactive contamination levels and the possible consequences of those on the Marshall Islands, says El Pais. According to this publication, Monica led a group of K=1 scientists they carried out a series of tests on the Marshall between 2015 and 2018. Prior to that, the only tests carried out across this former Spanish colony were conducted by the US military personnel from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, that had no interest in telling the rest of the world the truth about the contamination levels.

Against this backdrop, a recent study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that the lasting effect of a series of US nuclear weapon tests in the Marshall Islands lies in the contaminated soil. It states specifically that:

We were not able to detect any 37Cs contamination in fruits from Enewetak and Utirik Atolls. However, Bikini and Rongelap Atolls have 137Cs levels in fruits that exceed action limits set by IPPNW in 2016, and the governments of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Japan, in response to nuclear disasters in those countries. Additionally, they exceed values found near Fukushima in February 2018 and values measured from 2011 to 2015 in areas near the Chernobyl accident.

Against this backdrop, it’s particularly telling that back in 1968 Washington announced that the Bikini atoll was perfectly safe for humans and announced that the indigenous population may return to their homes, if they choose to do so. When we know that even fifty years after the tests this area remains contaminated, it’s hardly a surprise that some 840 inhabitants of the Bikini atoll died from cancer and other illnesses associated with radioactive poisoning over this period of time. However, nobody wants to speak about these facts in the West.

According to Barbara Rose Johnston, an anthropologist and senior research fellow at the Center for Political Ecology, it wasn’t reported to an interested world public that the heavily exposed people of Rongelap, once evacuated, were immediately enrolled as human subjects in a top-secret study, Project 4.1, which documented the array of health outcomes from their acute exposures, but did not treat the pain or discomfort of radiation burns, nor utilize antibiotics to offset any potential infection.

There’s no public discussion of the fact that in 1977 the United States used a crater from an especially large nuclear bomb test on Runit Island to stash away the radioactive soil. The 328-foot crater from a May 1958 test was designated the dumping ground. It means that the radioactive isotope plutonium-239, a byproduct of nuclear bombs that decays with a half-life of 24,100 years may be leaking into the Pacific Ocean.

Yet, there’s no strict control over the weapons tests that are being carried in utmost secrecy in various parts of the world today, and safe to say that should something go wrong in one of such tests, we, just like the inhabitants of the Bikini atoll will be the last to learn about that.

Grete Mautner is an independent researcher and journalist from Germany.

September 22, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | | 3 Comments

US tap water contaminants linked with 100,000 cancer cases: Study

Press TV – September 21, 2019

Chemicals present within legal limits in tap water are projected to be responsible for more than 100,000 cancer cases in the US, according to estimates from a new study.

The study, published Thursday in the journal Heliyon, looked at nearly 50,000 water systems across the country.

It analyzed the presence of 22 cancer-causing chemicals that are regulated by states and the Environmental Protection Agency but still found in varying degrees in drinking water.

Researchers with the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy organization, said the study is the first to project on a national level the cancer risk the combination of chemicals pose over a person’s statistical lifetime – about 70 years.

They found that the majority of cancer cases came from water systems that were fully complying with drinking water standards set either by states or the EPA.

“Water that meets legal standards still poses health risks,” says Sydney Evans, the lead author of the study and a science analyst at Environmental Working Group.

Of the nearly two dozen chemicals examined, the biggest problem is arsenic, which even in small concentrations is responsible for disproportionate numbers of cancer cases, according to the study.

But Evans says that this study is an attempt to start looking at the chemicals present in water as a mixture instead of assessing them one by one.

The analysis is conservative, according to Evans, because it only looked at chemicals with national monitoring data or health benchmark levels. Many more chemicals exist in drinking water that haven’t been studied enough to include in the assessment, Evans says.

The study does not include measurements from private wells, which roughly 13.5 million Americans rely on for drinking water. Private wells don’t have to follow federal drinking water standards.

A water filter is a good “first course of action for an individual who is concerned,” Evans says. Residents should check their local water reports to know what kind of filter would be best for the types of chemicals present where they live.

The study shows that tougher standards for drinking water are needed, according to Evans.

“Filters aren’t a solution,” Evans says. “They’re a measure people can take right now until their water quality is improved.”

(Source: US News & World Report )

September 21, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism | | 2 Comments

Bodies of Dead Iraqi Children Test Positive For Radioactive Remnants From US Depleted Uranium Rounds

Sputnik – September 20, 2019

By examining bodies of dead Iraqi children who had congenital birth defects, researchers have proven their conditions were directly related to US bombardment of the country with depleted uranium rounds early in the Iraq War and stores at US bases during the subsequent occupation.

A new study has drawn direct links between the US military’s use of depleted uranium in the Iraq War and congenital birth defects suffered by Iraqi children. Researchers examined the hair and baby teeth of dead Iraqi children near areas of heavy fighting as well as US military bases and found the radioactive element thorium – a telltale sign of uranium of the type used to make depleted uranium rounds.

Depleted uranium is a byproduct of the industrial process used to refine uranium-238 into U-235, which is more suitable for fuel in nuclear power plants. Composed of U-238 that cannot have further U-235 extracted from it, the matter is extremely dense – twice as dense as lead – and when fused with other metals, it makes for a very potent bullet. The US military loves to use “DU” for piercing armor, but also for extra-powerful armor.

Thousands of rounds of DU were used against Iraqi positions during the first year of the Iraq War, which began in early 2003 after the George W. Bush administration, justifying its actions with false intelligence, launched an all-out invasion of the country, arguing that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had a secret weapons program he intended to use against the United States.

“Once a depleted-uranium round strikes its target, the projectile begins to burn on impact, creating tiny particles of radioactive U-238,” Common Dreams explained. “Winds can transport this radioactive dust many miles, potentially contaminating the air that innocent humans breathe. This inhalation may cause lung cancer, kidney damage, cancers of bones and skin, as well as birth defects and chemical poisoning.”

Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an independent researcher based in Michigan and a co-author of the study, looked at the hair and teeth of children from villages near Talil Air Base south of Baghdad, which US forces occupied during the counterinsurgency war that raged for almost a decade after the invasion as homegrown resistance to the US occupation grew. She found thorium in them, an element produced by the radioactive decay of U-238.

“We are basically seeing a depleted uranium footprint on these children,” Savabieasfahani told TruthOut in an interview. Her study, which will soon be published in the journal Environmental Pollution, found the children near Talil had 28 times the amount of thorium in their bodies as did children in a control group far from the fighting and who weren’t born with congenital disabilities.

According to United Nations estimates, the US fired up to 2,000 metric tons of DU at targets in Iraq in 2003 alone. The US also used the weapon against Iraq in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm, and a limited number of rounds were also fired back at US forces by the Iraqi army.

However, that’s not the only source of the element in Iraq: vehicles with DU-reinforced armor were brought into the country by the thousands by the Americans, as well as all sorts of aircraft and ground vehicles that used the rounds and for which the bullets had to be stored at US bases.

TruthOut notes that much of this equipment wound up destroyed on the battlefield or rusting in junkyards across the country, leeching the radioactive chemical into the air and water, as well as into the pieces of metal likely harvested by locals to sell for scrap.

“What we see here, and what we imply with this study, is that we could see this very same scenario around every single US military base in Iraq,” Savabieasfahani said. “The exposure of pregnant mothers to the pollutions of war, including uranium and thorium, irreversibly damages their unborn children.”

Citing Iraqi government statistics, MintPress reported in 2014 that the rate Iraqis contracted cancer skyrocketed in the years after the US invasion, from 40 per 100,000 people per year in 1991 to 800 per 100,000 in 1995, to at least 1,600 per 100,000 in 2005.

Iraqi doctors have long voiced concerns about the problem. A 2013 study by Dutch peace group IKV Pax Christi found more than 300 such sites previously identified by the Iraqi government as contaminated with DU, and the US spent between $30 million and $45 million on cleanup at the sites. However, even as late as the 2013 study, observers still saw children playing on the waste heaps and collecting scraps for sale.

“The US must be held responsible and forced to clean up all the sites which it has polluted. Technology exists for the cleanup of radiation contamination,” Savabieasfahani told TruthOut. “The removal and disposal of US-created military junkyards would go a long way toward cleaning toxic releases out of the Iraqi environment.”

September 20, 2019 Posted by | Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 4 Comments