This is an archive of the ‘Ecology newsroll’ page on A Socialist In Canada, covering September 2017 to end-May 2018. See also the feature articles on ecology and global warming that are listed in the website category ‘Environment‘ (listed on the main website page). Articles about the politics in Canada of the global warming emergency are listed in the ‘Canada newsroll‘ page of the website. That’s where to find news and analysis of the unfolding battle surrounding the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan company’s ‘Trans Mountain’ tar sands bitumen pipeline from Alberta to the Port of Vancouver BC. Text in square brackets [ ] is by Roger Annis.
The huge footprint of livestock raising on land and greenhouse gas emissions, by Damian Carrington, environment editor, The Guardian, May 31, 2018
… The study, published in the journal Science, shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75 per cent and still feed the world. Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass extinction of wildlife.
The study shows that while meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses the vast majority – 83% – of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions…
Marine heatwaves are getting hotter, lasting longer and doing more damage, by an international team of researchers, published in The Conversation, May 30, 2018
Are fossil fuel divestment campaigns working? A conversation with economist Robert Pollin, interview with Robert Pollin, by C.J. Polychroniou, Truthout.org, May 28, 2018
… In our recent research paper, Tyler Hansen and I conclude that most efforts now devoted to divestment campaigns would be better spent on more direct efforts to drive down fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. We simply don’t have time to lose in pushing as effectively as possible on the fundamental goal which we cannot lose sight of — which is to drive CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions down to zero as quickly as possible. We need to remember that, at best, divestment is a means to an end, with the end itself being eliminating emissions…
Suing the European Union over climate change, by Daniel Boffey, reported in Undark Magazine, May 28, 2018
After the storm, Puerto Rico misses a chance to rebuild with renewables, by Katherine Bagley, Yale Environment 360, May 31, 2018 Eight months after Hurricane Maria damaged 80 per cent of Puerto Rico’s electricity grid, energy expert Lionel Orama-Exclusa talks to Yale Environment 360 about how the island is missing an opportunity to transform its energy system from fossil fuels to renewable sources.
* Puerto Rico’s pain and the decimation of its population, by David Usborne, The Independent, May 5, 2018 Perhaps more people would have remained on the island if if anything like the resources rushed to hurricane victims in Texas and Florida last year had also come to Puerto Rico.
The exodus from Puerto Rico traces back to 2005, when a recession took hold that never let go. The Pew Research Centre estimates that between 2005 and 2013 more than 500,000 people left the island for the mainland – five per cent of its population.
… according to a report released by City University of New York’s Centre for Puerto Rican Studies (Centro), the island will lose an additional 470,000 residents by the end of next year as a direct consequence of the storm. Already there are more Puerto Ricans living in the 50 states than there are in Puerto Rico.
* Challenges for science in post-hurricane Puerto Rico, by Michael Johansson, Scientific American, May 24, 2018 Eight months after Irma and Maria struck, electricity is still unreliable
Eight months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the day-to-day crises are far fewer for most of us, but the island remains a profoundly changed place. One of the most pernicious challenges is electricity. Few people had power after Irma and no one had power after Maria, which hit Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017. Local outages are a daily reality; large-scale blackouts occur occasionally; and tens of thousands of households have yet to be reconnected to the grid.
* Eight months after Hurricane Maria, the death toll in Puerto Rico remains a mystery, by Joshua Hoyos, ABC News, May 20, 2018
… The current death toll, according to the Puerto Rican government, is 64. Skepticism has lingered, however, with some Puerto Ricans and its officials believing the number is much higher.
… According to Alexis Santos, director of graduate studies in applied demography at Pennsylvania State University who has studied the daily mortality data from the Puerto Rico government, says there were approximately 1,000 more deaths on the island in the month after Maria.
Waste heat: Innovators turn to an overlooked renewable resource, by Nicoa Jones, Yale Environment 360, May 29, 2018 Nearly three-quarters of all the energy produced by humanity is squandered as waste heat. Now, large businesses, high-tech operations such as data centers, and governments are exploring innovative technologies to capture and reuse this vast renewable energy source.
… The global demand for energy is booming — it’s set to bump up nearly 30 per cent by 2040…
Kinder Morgan pipeline bailout in Canada to cost north of $15 billion, by Robyn Allan, National Observer, May 29 2018
* Kinder Morgan reaps reward for handing over Trans Mountain pipeline to Canadian gov’t, by Alastair Sharp, The National Observer, May 30, 2018
* Canada’s dirty $20-billion pipeline bailout by Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, May 29, 2018
[The writer takes a hard look at the economics of the Canadian government purchase of the 65 year old ‘Trans Mountain’ pipeline for $4.5 billionfrom U.S. oil company Kinder Morgan. It will cost billions more to build the desired expansion (tripling) of the pipeline’s transport of Alberta tar sands bitumen. The writer then throws in the idea that if more of the pipeline’s bitumen product were processed in Canada, the project would be ok. “If [Finance Minister Bill] Morneau and [Prime Minister Justin] Trudeau were really serious about jobs and acting in the national interest, then they would have invested in partial upgrading of bitumen.” And further, “If the federal government took just $9 billion from its proposed $20-billion bailout for Kinder Morgan, it could fund three partial upgraders in Alberta capable of upgrading 300,000 barrels of bitumen a day.” Spinning tar sands extraction in Alberta as potentially being ‘in Canada’s ‘national interest’ and as something acceptable because it provides ‘jobs’ is risible. Liberal environmentalists who make such arguments shoudl reflect: ‘There are no good jobs on a dead planet.’]
Global warming be damned: The Canadian government is buying the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline and will finance its expansion, report on CBC News, May 29, 2018
Say hello to Justin Trudeau, the world’s newest oil executive, commentary by Bill McKibben, published in the anti-Russia Guardian, May 30, 2018 ‘We know now how history will remember Justin Trudeau: not as a dreamy progressive, but as one more pathetic employee of the richest, most reckless industry in the planet’s history.’
Readings on the myth of the electric vehicle as global warming salvation:
* Not so fast: Why the electric vehicle revolution will bring problems of its own, by Martin Brueckner, published in The Conversation, April 18, 2018
* Pollution studies cast doubt on China’s electric-car policies, by Charles Clover, Financial Times, May 20, 2018 Experts say massive plan may be more about industrial advantage than green impact Read the article here in pdf format: Fuel economy of gasoline versus electric vehicles in China
* Car owners had a sweet ride, but electric cars will end that, by Eric Reguly, published in Report on Business Magazine (Globe and Mail), June 2018 (online on April 26, 2018)
… Gas guzzlers took over because neither the cars nor the fuel were hit with taxes that reflected the full cost of building and maintaining a vast road and highway network, and dealing with the damage to health and the environment from tailpipe emissions. In essence, drivers were—and still are—getting a free ride
Electric vehicle (EV) makers and their customers want a similarly sweet deal. They see the roads filling up with EVs as the internal combustion engine sputters out. Some forecasts say 50per cent of all vehicles sold by 2050 will be EVs.
But EV enthusiasts won’t get off cheaply. As gas tax revenues dry up, road budgets will become starved. Cities, states and provinces will also lack the funds to pay for the new generating stations and millions of charging points required to keep EVs powered up. One of the current selling points of EVs is their low running cost. Depending on where you live, the cost of charging your EV battery is, generally speaking, about one-third the price of filling your gas tank to cover the same distance. In Quebec, where electricity is considerably cheaper than the average in North America, and gas is more expensive, the potential EV energy savings could be greater.
But what if EV owners were forced to cover the cost of building extra generating plants and installing all those streetside chargers? In terms of the energy, the price advantage over gas cars could vanish…
Letter to Report on Business Magazine, June 2018, page three:
The article by Eric Reguly highlights the essential issue that many electric-vehicle proponents overlook. The electrical power for charging these cars comes from thermal power stations that are often only marginally “cleaner” than a modern internal combustion engine and, if coal-fired, are far dirtier.
Often overlooked in Canada is that while an internal combustion engine converts only 35 per cent to 40 per cent of the chemical energy in the fuel to mechanical energy, for five or more months of the year the “waste” heat from the process stops the passengers from slowly freezing while en route. The range of an electric car in the winter is often severely curtailed, as more electrical energy is used to warm the occupants than is used to transport them.
When the electrical grid transmission losses and the losses inherent in charging and discharging the battery are factored in, the efficiency of an electric vehicle in converting the chemical energy of a thermal power station, itself often with an operating efficiency below 50 per cent, is an illusion.
Unfortunately, the political optics of electric vehicles trump the dismal sciences of physics and thermodynamics, which are sometimes not politically correct. I thank you for a realistic view of this politically popular climate change “solution” and exposing the foibles of the uninformed.
— Christopher Staines
Global warming be damned: The Canadian government to buy and finance the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline expansion, report on CBC News, May 29, 2018
[Interviewed on CBC Vancouver Radio One‘s ‘Early Edition’ program on May 29, British Columbia Premier John Horgan restated his concerns about the Trans Mountain pipeline. Protection of coastal ocean waters and fish from oil spills is named, ‘global warming’ was not. Horgan’s government is overseeing a natural gas fracking expansion spree in the northeast of BC, which among other risks to the planet is causing the extinction of iconic caribou herds. Horgan also restated his view in favour of building oil refineries in BC in order to reduce gasoline prices in the province, which are the highest in Canada. Economists scoff at the claim that building hugely expensive refineries would do anything to reduce gasoline prices. Capitalist investors would only be interested in doing so if they received large public subsidies.]
In the 21st century, more than a century after the industrial assault on British Columbia’s forests began, BC gov’t is still approving the pillaging of old-growth forests, report by Tracy Sherlock, in The National Observer, May 28, 2018
Will we be prepared for ‘disease X’: the next pandemic?, commentary by Tom Koch, Globe and Mail, May 28, 2018 Deforestation, urbanization, war, income inequality, air travel–all these features of modern life create prime conditons for deadly new viruses to emerge and spread fast. (Tom Koch is a professor of medical geography at the University of British Columbia and the author of Cartographies of Disease and Disease Maps: Epidemics on the Ground.)
Fossil fuel companies in British Columbia broke numerous rules intended to protect threatened caribou, suppressed report shows, by Ben Parfitt, Canadian Center for Policy Initiatives, May 28, 2017 BC’s Oil and Gas Commission sat on a damaging audit for nearly four years that showed companies that drill and frack for natural gas repeatedly broke rules intended to protect threatened boreal caribou…
Last of the caribou in the continental U.S. is declared extinct, natural resource extraction in Canada sends numbers crashing, report in National Post, April 17, 2018 The causes are multiple: natural predators, overhunting, climate change, loss of old growth forest and disturbance of their habitat by human activity — from logging and oil and gas development to snowmobiling.
… There were about 40,000 caribou in British Columbia in the early 1900s. Today, there are only about 19,000 caribou left.
Related: * Ottawa orders British Columbia to act to save threatened caribou, by Justine Hunter, Globe and Mail, May 6, 2018 [The century-long rush in British Columbia to dam rivers and build hydro-electric lines, frack natural gas and build pipelines, dig up minerals and clearcut forests has left little space for wildlife. For hydro-electric dams alone, there are 29 operated by the state-run BC Hydro and another 100 operated privately by communities and large, industrial outfits. The province of British Columbia has no legislation to protect endangered species.]
Massive ice highways found hiding under Antarctica, by Rafi Letzter, Live Science, May 25, 2018
Scientists have found three huge valleys linking the smaller West Antarctic Ice Sheet to the massive East Antarctic Ice Sheet, hidden deep under the ice…. Each of them provides a highway for ice to flow from the larger, stabler East Antarctic Ice Sheet into the smaller, less stable West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Each of them was completely unmapped and unseen under the ice until a recent survey mission, which was described online May 4 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters…
Plants love carbon dioxide, but too much could be bad for them, by Michael Le Page, New Scientist, print issue of April 28, 2018 Read the text here in pdf: Plants and carbon dioxide
Origin of our species: Why humans were once so much more diverse, by Eleanor Scerri, New Scientist, print issue of April 28, 2018 Read the text here in pdf: Origin of our species The idea that all humans evolved from a small population in East Africa turns out to be wrong. Our beginnings were far stranger and more colourful
Municipalities in Vancouver BC region debate bold moves to cope with rising sea levels, by Frances Bula, special to the Globe and Mail, May 22, 2018 [Planners in Surrey BC, the largest Vancouver suburb, are deciding what to do in the face of rising sea levels. Twenty per cent of Surrey lies at high-tide level, including long stretches along the busy Fraser River. Buy out homes and farms and retreat, or raise the existing dikes? Either option will cost billions of dollars. Moreover, Surrey’s plans assume a one meter sea level rise by 2100 and two meters by 2200. But the world’s ongoing failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will send those levels much higher.]
Insects face calamitous habitat loss, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, May 21, 2018
Habitat loss may soon mean half the world’s insects, and many plants and animals as well, could find themselves without their familiar home ranges.
Right now, climate scientists warn, global planetary temperatures are on course to rise 3.2°C above the average for most of human history. They have already risen by about 1°C in the last 100 years. And if they do, then 49% of insects, 44% of plants and 26% of vertebrates could lose more than half of their ranges. If the 195 nations that agreed in Paris in 2015 to take steps to restrict global warming to a target of 1.5°C keep their pledges, only 6% of insects, 8% of plants and 4% of vertebrates will experience severe reductions in their ranges. Even half a degree makes a huge difference…
World temperature rise nears danger level, by Paul Brown, Climate News Network, May 22, 2018
With world temperature rise already 1°C above pre-industrial levels, new research shows that there is only a 0.5°C safety margin left in the system before the most vulnerable groups of people suffer severely.
The current political target, agreed in Paris more than two years ago, of aiming to prevent temperature from rising more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, and certainly stopping a rise beyond 2°C, disguises the fact that we are already more than halfway to the danger point. And scientists have now shown that there is a huge difference in the consequences to the human race if the 1.5°C limit is exceeded and temperatures allowed to reach 2°C…
* Heat wave in Pakistan kills 65, temperatures in the high 40’s to continue, Reuters, May 21, 2018
* New normal: Temperatures are trending up across U.S., report on Climate Central, May 16, 2018 Normal temperatures, generally defined to be the 30-year average at a location, are trending up across most of the U.S. Since 1980, the average continental U.S. temperature has risen 1.4°F. In our analysis of normal temperatures in 244 cities across the country, 94 percent have risen, providing more evidence of the long-term warming trend on our planet…
* North Atlantic warm pool is a signal of Gulf Stream slowdown, by Robert Fanney, published on his blog RobertSribbler, May 21, 2018
British Columbia interior sits devastated as global warming takes its toll, by Justine Hunter, columnist, Globe and Mail, May 20, 2018 … “There isn’t a tree species or a plantation that isn’t under stress due to increasing maladaptation to the current climate,” Mr. Simpson said. Never mind whatever climate changes are coming…
[Global warming and the consequences of decades of forest clearcutting have devastated the Cariboo region in central BC. It resembles a moonscape following the record fires of 2017 and the steady march of the mountain pine beetle infestation.]
The world’s extreme climate is forcing extreme measures as worst-case predictions are realized, by Dahr Jamail, published in his ‘Climate Dispatches’ column in Truthout.org, May 21, 2018
We made plastic, we depend on it, now we’re drowning in it, by Laura Parker, in National Geographic, print issue of June 2018 (part of a special series in National Geographic)
For four hundred months (33 1/3 years) in a row, our planet has been unusually hot, by Eric Holthaus, Grist Magazine, May 17, 2018
Our overheating planet just reached another staggering — maybe even astronomical — new milestone. In a report out Thursday, NOAA confirmed that April was the 400th consecutive month of warmer-than-average global temperatures. The last month cooler than the 20th century average was December 1984..
NASA satellite study shows huge amounts of water are being moved around the planet, and humans are to blame, study published in Nature Magazine, May 16, 2018 (report here in Washington Post, May 15, 2018)
As reported in Nature Magazine on May 16, a 14-year NASA mission has confirmed that a massive redistribution of freshwater is occurring across the Earth, with middle-latitude belts drying and the tropics and higher latitudes gaining water supplies.
The results, which are probably a combination of the effects of climate change, vast human withdrawals of groundwater and simple natural changes, could have profound consequences if they continue, pointing to a situation in which some highly populous regions could struggle to find enough water in the future…
New study raises alarm about exposure to glyphosate pesticides at levels the EPA claims are ‘safe’, by Jessica Corbett, staff writer, Common Dreams, May 15, 2018
… “What your average consumer needs to know is that there’s absolutely no scientific evidence backing up the EPA’s claims of ‘safe levels’,” OCA U.S. director Katherine Paul told Common Dreams. “So when Ben & Jerry’s says it doesn’t matter that there’s glyphosate in their ice cream—because the levels are beneath EPA guidelines—that’s total bunk.”
Natural gas boom fuels Australia’s third straight year of rising emissions, by Lisa Cox, The Guardian, 2018 [And yes, Australia is a signatory to the 2015 Paris conference agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.]
… The expansion in LNG exports and production is identified as the major contributor to the increase, but the data shows a jump in emissions across all sectors – including waste, agriculture and transport – except for electricity, the one area that recorded a decrease in emissions. In particular, the department’s data shows a 10.5% increase in fugitive emissions from the production, processing, transport, storage, transmission and distribution of fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and natural gas, driven by an increase of 17.6% in natural gas production.
It’s time for a carbon drawdown budget, by David Pratt, Climate Code Red, May 10, 2018
… That’s the proposal made by Breakthrough, the Melbourne-based National Centre for Climate Restoration, to the Victorian climate change targets 2021-2030 expert panel, last week. In its submission, Breakthrough established that:
* 1.5°C of climate warming is not safe
* There is no carbon budget remaining for 1.5°C, so “What goes up must come down”
* “Overshoot” in emission reduction scenarios should be minimised in extent and duration to avoid tipping points that may be irreversible on human time-frames.
Here’s the story in more detail…
The costs of climate change are rising, commentary by Glen Hodgson, Globe and Mail, May 15, 2018
… the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reports that annual losses from overland flooding have grown to more than US$40-billion annually in recent years; more flood events occurred in 2010-13 than in the whole decade of the 1980s.
Facing climate and water pressures, farmers return to age-old practice of cover cropping, by Jane Braxton Little, News Deeply, May 15, 2018
… Cover cropping, an agricultural technique as old as dirt, is taking root in California. Used to enhance soil nutrition and improve the growth of plants, it fell out of favor after World War II when the practice was replaced by the use of chemical fertilizers. Only five per cent of California farmers use the method despite the big savings in water usage and the benefits for river ecosystems.
A new rice farming technique using drastically less water is catching on, by John Vidal, Huffington Post, May 15, 2018
Alberta’s tar sands tailing ponds are a ticking time bomb for Canadians, by Mitchell Anderson, The Tyee, May 15, 2018 Alberta has failed to protect taxpayers from billions in cleanup costs.
End the ‘green’ delusions: Industrial-scale alternative energy is fossil fuel+, by Alexander Dunlap, published on the blog of Verso Books, May 10, 2018 (Alexander Dunlap is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.)
This essay by Alexander Dunlap should be required reading for all liberal, libertarian and ecosocialist environmentalists. The writer is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.) Excerpts:
* ‘Industrial-scale renewable energy does nothing to remake exploitative relationships with the earth, and instead represents the renewal and expansion of the present capitalist order.’
* ‘Contrary to the claims of its proponents, renewable energy by no means adequately addresses the real problem posed by current levels of energy consumption, which are driven by capitalist growth imperatives that ultimately cause the ecological degradation and climate change we see today.’
* ‘Industrial-scale renewable energy and the grid-centric systems it powers represent the renewal and expansion of the present political and capitalist order.’
For Port of Vancouver, underestimating Pacific sea-level rises could come at a high price, by Matthew McClearn, Globe and Mail, May 14, 2018
[Vancouver is Canada’s largest port. It’s a patchwork of shipping terminals across the Vancouver region handling massive quantities of coal and grain, wood pulp, logs, steel, Korean and Japanese cars, and several million shipping containers each year. Trucks moving containers to and from the multiple terminals clog the region’s roads and poison its air. 2017 was a record year for port volume with some 142 million tonnes shipped and received.]
[This is the fifth in a series of articles by Mathew McClearn in the Globe and Mail examining the effects of rising sea levels on Canada’s coastline. Previous articles are here:
* Canada’s Beaufort Sea Arctic, Globe and Mail, April 17, 2018
* The town of Sackville, New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy, Globe and Mail, April 2, 2018
* Quebec’s Isles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Globe and Mail, March 19, 2018
* The city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Globe and Mail, March 6, 2018
Lyme disease has arrived. Why hasn’t a reliable treatment?, by Mary Beth Pfeiffer, commentary in Globe and Mail, May 12, 2018 (Mary Beth Pfeiffer is a veteran investigative journalist based in Poughkeepsie, New York and author of the new book Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change.)
… Canada is well into an epidemic that has exploded in the United States since the disease emerged in a small coastal town in Connecticut in the late 1970s. Today, these ticks reside in half of the continental United States’ 3,000 counties, twice the number of two decades ago.
… In the United States, authorities estimate that reported Lyme disease cases – 36,000 in 2016 – are one-10th of the actual number. Canada’s official disease count, which grew nearly sevenfold from 144 in 2009 to 992 in 2016, is also likely far below the real number.
Lyme disease — the first epidemic of climate change, interview with Mary Beth Pfeiffer, on CBC Radio One‘s ‘Sunday Edition’ program, May 6, 2018 (31 minutes)
The global climate footprint of tourism soars, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, May 9, 2018
Previous estimates of tourism’s climate footprint have fallen far below the mark. Between 2009 and 2013 it increased four times more than earlier estimated, according to a comprehensive new study.
By 2013, the worldwide tourism industry was spilling an estimated 4.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contributing about eight per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. World tourism is now growing faster than international trade…
Confusion reigns over China’s energy policy, by Kieran Cooke, Climate News Network, May 7, 2018
Beijing is implementing ambitious renewable energy schemes at home and has announced plans to reshape its energy sector and reduce its use of coal – by far the most polluting fossil fuel. But overseas, China is pursuing a very different policy…
Urgewald, a Berlin-based environmental group, calculates that Chinese companies are at present involved in plans to build about a fifth of new coal-fired energy capacity around the world – in countries including Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Vietnam and Malawi.
In some of these countries there is little or no coal-powered generation at present; building coal plants is likely to prevent the development of other, less polluting energy sources and lock in high emission power structures for years to come…
Sea level rise endangers sewage treatment in U.S., by Michelle A. Hummel, Matthew S. Berry and Mark T. Stacey, published in the journal Earth’s Future, March 24, 2018 (12 pages)
Wastewater treatment plants are susceptible to flooding resulting from sea level rise. Previous estimates of wastewater exposure have only considered the impacts of marine flooding at the local or regional scale. In this analysis, we quantify the exposure to marine flooding across the coastal United States and then consider the relative impacts of marine and groundwater flooding at the regional scale in the San Francisco Bay Area.
… We find that the number of people impacted by sea level rise due to loss of wastewater services could be five times as high as previous predictions of the number of people who experience direct flooding of their homes or property. We also find that groundwater flooding poses a significant threat to wastewater plants in the San Francisco Bay region…
New technology could slash carbon emissions from aluminium production, The Guardian, May 10, 2018 But the smelting of aluminium is only one part of the huge carbon emissions created by an ever-expanding aluminium industry
Earth’s circular economy: Recycling as a law of life, by Ian Angus, published on Climate and Capitalism, May 9, 2018 Continuing a series on the social and scientific basis of metabolic rift theory.
Nine uncomfortable Canadian energy facts, by Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, May 7, 2018
… These are just some of the hard energy facts contained in Canada’s Energy Outlook, a new and encyclopedic report by David Hughes, one of Canada’s foremost energy experts. He has been analyzing energy trends for industry and government for more than 30 years. Hughes, whose reliable research is cited by the likes of Bloomberg, Nature, The Economist and The Tyee.
Unlike many environmentalists, Hughes does not believe that a transition to renewables or even reductions in greenhouse gases will be seamless, easy or cheap. Here’s why…
Scientist says record floods show that New Brunswick must adapt to changing world, The Canadian Press, May 6, 2018
… Sudden temperature flips from frigid April snowstorms to 26 C, as occurred during the spring runoffs in parts of the Canadian province of New Brunswick, are a feature of climate change that encourage flooding.
… The province’s legislative committee on climate change cited computer models predicting that by 2100, New Brunswick’s mean annual temperature will increase by as much as 5 C, while more intense rain and snow will increase the amount of moisture hitting the ground.
… Professor Louise Comeau, who has authored studies on the impact of climate change in her province, says she suspects that floods once expected every 30 years are now more likely to be “once every five years or even every two to three years.”
* Floodwaters in southern N.B. ‘heavily contaminated,’ emergency officials warn, CBC News, May 6, 2018
The New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization is warning residents in flooded areas that the floodwater can be “heavily contaminated’ with sewage and pose health risks. Many sewage systems have been compromised by the unprecedented flooding in the southern part of the province, which started more than a week ago and is expected to worsen overnight May 6 with up to 20 millimetres of rain in the forecast…
‘Billions of people threatened by sea level rise, interview with Dahr Jamail, broadcast on ‘Counterspin’, the weekly radio interview broadcast on Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, with host Janine Jackson, May 3, 2018 (Ten-minute interview. Dahr Jamail’s ‘Climate Disrutions’ column on Truthout.org is published monthly. His forthcoming book is The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption.)
Related: * New record CO2 measures in April 2018 show ‘humans are overwhelming nature’, report in KQED Science, May 3, 2018
The emergence of an ecological Karl Marx: 1818 – 2018, by Gareth Dale, published in The Ecologist, May 5, 2018
* Marx’s ecological education, book review by Martin Empson, published in Monthly Review, April 2018 Reviewing: Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capitalism, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy, by Kohei Saito, Monthly Review Press, 2017
* The growth paradigm, A critique, by Gareth Dale, published in 2012 and available here on Academia.edu
Humans didn’t exist the last time there was this much CO2 in the air, by Eric Holthaus, Grist Magazine, May 3, 2018
The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high, millions of years ago, the planet was very different. For one, humans didn’t exist. On May 2, scientists at the University of California in San Diego confirmed that April’s monthly average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration breached 410 parts per million for the first time in our history.
… In little more than a century of frenzied fossil-fuel burning, we humans have altered our planet’s atmosphere at a rate dozens of times faster than natural climate change. Carbon dioxide is now more than 100 ppm higher than any direct measurements from Antarctic ice cores over the past 800,000 years, and probably significantly higher than anything the planet has experienced for at least 15 million years. That includes eras when Earth was largely ice-free.
The tick that is spreading in the U.S. due to climate change and is infecting beef and pork supplies, by Zoya Teirstein, Grist Magazine, May 1, 2018 Lone star ticks hunt in packs and spread an allergy to beef and pork. Thanks to climate change, they’re spreading. Related: Lyme disease — the first epidemic of climate change, interview on CBC Radio One‘s ‘Sunday Edition’ program, May 6, 2018
What global warming? Sales of trucks and SUVs worldwide are leaving smaller autos in their dust, report in Toronto Star by Michael Lewis, May 2, 2018 … In 2009 during the Great Recession, sedans commanded more than 39 per cent of the U.S. market, while SUVs were at 29 per cent and pickups had 13 per cent of the market. Last year, SUVs had 43 per cent of the market, followed by sedans at less than 28 per cent, while pickups had climbed to almost 16 per cent of the market. April’s sales figures showed every major automaker reporting declining passenger-car sales…
* Canadian and Ontario governments give $220 million to Toyota to expand its production of best-selling ‘RAV 4’ SUV, The Canadian Press, May 4, 2018 [Sales of Toyota’s ‘RAV 4’ SUV have surpassed for the first time sales of Toyota’s Camry and Corolla auto bestsellers, in line with the trends of nearly all global automakers. Report in Globe and Mail, May 4, 2018.] * The world is embracing SUVs and that’s bad news for the climate and future generations, by Hiroko Tabushi, New York Times, Mar 3, 2018 The SUV-building bonanza contrasts with promises made by automakers of big investments in electric vehicles and other low-emitting vehicles. They are pouring resources into far more polluting SUVs
* Another warning of global warming: Record auto and truck sales, by Roger Annis, published in A Socialist In Canada, Oct 4, 2017
Marx and metabolism: Lost in translation?, by Ian Angus, published on Climate and Capitalism, May 1, 2018 (Ian Angus is the founding editor and publisher of Climate and Capitalism. This article continues a series by Ian Angus on metabolic rift theory. The first article in the series was Five Revolutions: How bacteria created the biosphere and caused the first climate crisis.) Why wasn’t Marx’s concept of metabolic rift recognized until recently? Changed circumstances, unpublished works, and bad translations all played a role.
Global warming? Not fazing Canadian railways as shipments of coal, fossil fuels and all other manner of natural resources are expanding. Agricultural shipments face large backlog due to natural resource expansion. Reports:
* CN Rail to purchase 250 new cars for hauling lumber, Canadian Press, May 1, 2018
* From the Globe and Mail April 23, 2018 (subscriber only): …Year-to-date, CN hauled 3 per cent more carloads compared with the same period a year ago. This rise is led by an increase in containers and coal cars. The number of cars containing farm products fell by 23 per cent while forest-products shipments declined by 5 per cent, according to CN.
* CN Rail tackling capacity issues ‘with a great sense of urgency’, Financial Post, April 23, 2018 The company’s $3.4 billion capital spending plan includes a specific focus on expanding rail infrastructure in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia
Ecological Marxism vs. environmental neo-Malthusianism: An old debate continues, by Brian Napoletano, published on Climate and Capitalism, April 30, 2018 (Brian Napoletano teaches environmental geography at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He is a co-author of ‘Has (even Marxist) political ecology really transcended the metabolic rift?‘, published in the June 2018 issue of the journal Geoforum.) Despite being consistently discredited, overpopulation ideology resurfaces with the same predictable regularity as capitalist crises. Only Marxism offers a clear alternative.
Our grandchildren may never see the Great Barrier Reef recover, by Alice Klein, New Scientist, print edition of April 21, 2018 (Read the article here in pdf format: Great Barrier Reef threatened.)
Carbon-free shipping is possible, so why aren’t we doing it?, by Michael Le Page, published in New Scientist, print edition of April 21, 2018 (Read the article here in pdf format: Carbon-free shipping.) [The writer says nothing about the most compelling measure needed with respect to the ongoing expansion of ocean shipping of commodities: radically reduce the production, shipment and sale of the tsunami of socially unnecessary and environmentally destructive commodities.]
The End of Epidemics: It’s all about the money, by Debora MacKenzie, published in New Scientist, print edition of April 7, 2018 (Read the article here in pdf format: The end of epidemics.)
Marx’s ecological education, book review by Martin Empson, published in Monthly Review, April 2018 Reviewing: Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capitalism, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy, by Kohei Saito, Monthly Review Press, 2017, 308 pages, ISBN 9781583676400.
EU agrees total ban on bee-harming pesticides, The Guardian, April 27, 2018 Neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used insecticides, will be banned from all fields within six months to protect both wild and honeybees that are vital to crop pollination
[The headline in this Guardian article is inaccurate. The EU ban on neonicotinoids does not apply to their use in closed greenhouses. Meanwhile, other pesticides deemed less harmful to bees and other insects will continue to be used. Industrial, monocrop agricultural practice, continued urban and transportation sprawl and a host of other threats mean that bee populations remain under serious threat.]
Climate change to drive migration from the world’s atoll islands sooner than thought, by Matthew Taylor, The Guardian, April 25, 2018 Low-lying atolls around the world will be overtaken by sea-level rises within a few decades, according to a new study
Hundreds of thousands of people will be forced from their homes on low-lying Pacific islands in the next few decades by sea-level rises and the contamination of fresh drinking water sources, scientists have warned. A study by researchers at the US Geological Survey (USGS), the Deltares Institute in the Netherlands and Hawaii University [published here in Science Advances] has found that many small islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans will be uninhabitable for humans by the middle of this century. That is much earlier than previously thought.
Experts say the findings underline the looming climate change driven migration crisis that is predicted to see hundreds of millions of people forced from their homes in the coming years…
Climate change ‘will create world’s biggest refugee crisis’, by Matthew Taylor, The Guardian, Nov 2, 2017
Tens of millions of people will be forced from their homes by climate change in the next decade, creating the biggest refugee crisis the world has ever seen, according to a new report. Senior U.S. military and security experts have told the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) study that the number of climate refugees will dwarf those that have fled the Syrian conflict, bringing huge challenges to Europe.
“If Europe thinks they have a problem with migration today … wait 20 years,” said retired U.S. military corps brigadier general Stephen Cheney. “See what happens when climate change drives people out of Africa – the Sahel [sub-Saharan area] especially – and we’re talking now not just one or two million, but 10 or 20 [million]. They are not going to south Africa, they are going across the Mediterranean.”…
‘We’re doomed’: Interview with social scientist Mayer Hillman on the climate reality no one else will dare mention, article by Patrick Barkham, The Guardian, April 26, 2018 The 86-year-old social scientist says accepting the impending end of most life on Earth might be the very thing needed to help us prolong it
… “Standing in the way is capitalism. Can you imagine the global airline industry being dismantled when hundreds of new runways are being built right now all over the world? It’s almost as if we’re deliberately attempting to defy nature. We’re doing the reverse of what we should be doing, with everybody’s silent acquiescence, and nobody’s batting an eyelid.”
Amount of straws, plastic pollution is huge, by Seth Borenstein, published in the ‘Science Says’ feature of Phys.org, April 21, 2018
Cities and nations are looking at banning plastic straws and stirrers in hopes of addressing the world’s plastic pollution problem. The problem is so large, though, that scientists say that’s not nearly enough. Australian scientists Denise Hardesty and Chris Wilcox estimate, using trash collected on U.S. coastlines during cleanups over five years, that there are nearly 7.5 million plastic straws lying around America’s shorelines. They figure that means 437 million to 8.3 billion plastic straws are on the entire world’s coastlines.
But that huge number suddenly seems small when you look at all the plastic trash bobbing around oceans. University of Georgia environmental engineering professor Jenna Jambeck calculates that nearly nine million tons (eight million metric tons) end up in the world’s oceans and coastlines each year, as of 2010, according to her 2015 study in the journal Science …
‘Mountains and mountains of plastic’: Life on Cambodia’s polluted coast, photo essay by Hannah Ellis-Petersen, The Guardian, April 24, 2018
Microplastics have invaded the Arctic, and climate change could make it worse, by Brian Kahn, Earther.com, April 23, 2018
Why sea levels are rising faster on the U.S. East Coast, by Jim Morrison, Yale Environment 360, April 24, 2018 Scientists are unraveling the reasons why some parts of the world are experiencing sea level increases far beyond the global average. A prime example is the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, which has been experiencing “sunny day flooding” that had not been expected for decades.
… The roads circling Myrtle Park are cracked and disintegrating due to frequent flooding. Tidal grasses like Spartina are springing up. The boulevard a block away, which leads to the world’s largest naval base [Norfolk, Virginia], floods several times a year and the frequency is increasing.
… While sea level is rising globally at about a tenth of an inch per year, cities along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States — including Norfolk; Baltimore; Charleston, South Carolina; and Miami, among others — have suffered “sunny day” flooding from seas rising far faster than the global average. One study published last year shows that from 2011 to 2015, sea level rose up to five inches — one inch per year — in some locales from North Carolina to Florida.
… Beginning in 2012, Tal Ezer, an oceanographer at Norfolk’s Old Dominion University, published a series of papers matching long-term slowing of the Gulf Stream with increased sea level rise…
Why a 15 per cent slowdown in North Atlantic Ocean circulation is seriously bad news, by Robert Fanney, publisher of RobertScribbler, April 23, 2018
Could sprinkling sand save the Arctic’s shrinking sea ice?, by Oliver Milman, in Utqiagvik, Alaska, The Guardian, April 23, 2018
What happened to winter? Vanishing ice convulses Alaskans’ way of life, by Oliver Milman, The Guardian, April 21, 2018
High Arctic species respond to climate warming, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, April 23, 2018
What extremely warm winters mean for the future of the Arctic, interview with polar scientist Mark Serreze, by Katherine Bagley for Yale E360, April 18, 2018 In an interview with Yale Environment 360, polar scientist Mark Serreze talks about the rapid changes he has witnessed over more than three decades of working in the Arctic and the future stability of the region if temperatures continue to climb.
‘Ecosocialism or bust’? More like ‘ecosocialism is bust’ [Two recent commentaries by ecosocialist writers, here in Jacobin and here in The Bullet, illustrate the weakness and limitations of the doctrine. In neither case do the commentaries address the two central issues in the global warming emergency. One is the urgent need to corral and rapidly reduce all the waste, excess and expansion imperatives of capitalist society. Two is forging the broad-based political alliances that are needed to combat capitalism’s most immediate and destructive despoliation of the environment and win governments that can lead a transitional transformation of economic and social life, along the lines voiced by socially progressive ‘degrowth’ advocates. Short of that, all the ecosocialist talk of switching to ‘alternative energies’, orchestrating ‘socialist revolution’, etc, etc is so much hot air.
‘Beyond comprehension’: In just two years, half of all corals in ‘forever damaged’ Great Barrier Reef have died, by Jessica Corbett, staff writer, Common Dreams, April 19, 2018
Global warming, researchers warn, “is rapidly emerging as a universal threat to ecological integrity and function.”
The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral system, has been “forever damaged” by anthropogenic global warming, according to a new study published Wednesday by Nature. Between March and November of 2016, a “record-breaking” marine heatwave caused rampant coral bleaching around the globe, and the Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of northeastern Australia, lost nearly a third of its corals…
How a ‘toxic cocktail’ of air pollution is posing a troubling health risk in China’s cities, by Fred Pearce, Yale E360, April 17, 2018 A recent study in Chinese cities found a potential link between a hazardous mix of air pollutants and death rates. These findings point to the need for a new approach to assessing the dangers of urban smog in fast-industrializing parts of the developing world.
America’s arid West invades fertile eastern U.S., by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, April 16, 2018
World may hit two degrees of warming in 10-15 years thanks to fracking, says Cornell U scientist, by Sharon Kelly, Desmog Canada, April 11, 2018
In 2011, a Cornell University research team first made the groundbreaking discovery that leaking methane from the shale gas fracking boom could make burning fracked gas worse for the climate than coal. In a sobering lecture released this month, a member of that team, Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, Professor of Engineering Emeritus at Cornell University, outlined more precisely the role U.S. fracking is playing in changing the world’s climate.
The most recent climate data suggests that the world is on track to cross the two degrees of warming threshold set in the Paris accord in just 10 to 15 years, says Ingraffea in a 13-minute lecture titled ‘Shale Gas: The Technological Gamble That Should Not Have Been Taken‘, which was posted online on April 4.
That’s if American energy policy follows the track predicted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which expects 1 million natural gas wells will be producing gas in the U.S. in 2050, up from roughly 100,000 today…
Europe’s largest bank HSBC said on Friday it would mostly stop funding new coal power plants, oil sands and arctic drilling, becoming the latest in a long line of investors to shun the fossil fuels…
Canada’s Beaufort Sea Arctic coastline is battling a double threat – melting ground and rising seas – that residents are powerless to stop, by Matthew McClearn, Globe and Mail, April 17, 2018 This is the fourth in a series of articles analysing the impacts of global warming on Canada’s three, ocean coastlines. This one reports from Tuktoyaktuk, the village on the shoreline of Canada’s Beaufort Sea coastline, where the Mackenzie River flows into the Arctic Ocean. The preceding three articles are here:
* The city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Globe and Mail, March 6, 2018
* Quebec’s Isles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Globe and Mail, March 19, 2018
* The town of Sackville, New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy, Globe and Mail, April 2, 2018
James Hansen peddles nuclear energy, shows disregard to the dangers of limitless growth, interview with James Hansen, in Globe and Mail, April 16, 2018
[James Hansen, one of the world’s most renowned, mainstream environmentalists, shows reckless disregard for the dangers of limitless energy usage and expansion in an interview in the Canadian daily Globe and Mail published on April 16. He says the global warming danger facing the world is caused by fossil fuels and that nuclear energy is the solution. “If we could get all of our electricity carbon-free, we could solve the problem. And we probably can’t do that without the help of nuclear power.”
[Hansen covers his pro-capitalist advocacy with a sharp critique of the December 2015 climate change conference in Paris. He calls the conference and its claimed goal of limiting global warming to 1.5-to-two degrees Celsius a “fraud”. A fraud it was and is, but no less fraudulent is the view that the planet can escape global warming disaster by shifting from one form of mega-energy production, distribution and usage (fossil fuels) to another (nuclear energy), all the while allowing the expansion imperative of capitalism to continue to run amok. There is also the moral and scientific problem in Hansen’s scenario of bequeathing to future generations the deadly waste product from nuclear energy. Only a naive or malevolent person could believe that the blind, reckless laws of capitalist growth and expansion could allow for a safe solution to the dangers of nuclear waste. Only such beliefs could ignore the related dangers of nuclear war.]
Slow-motion ocean: Atlantic Ocean’s circulation is weakest in 1,600 years, Scientific American April 11, 2018
The grand northward progression of water along North America that moves heat from the tropics toward the Arctic has been sluggish. If that languidness continues and deepens, it could usher in drastic changes in sea level and weather around the ocean basin…
North Atlantic Ocean currents are slowing, by Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, April 12, 2018
Report finds major banks ramped up fossil fuel financing to $115 billion in 2017, press release by Rainforest Action Network, March 28, 2018 Despite 2017 being the costliest year on record for weather disasters, the report reveals that banks increased extreme fossil fuel financing last year, led by a more than doubling in lending to tar sands companies and pipelines.
A report released today by Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, and Honor The Earth, endorsed by over 50 organizations around the world, reveals that in spite of the urgent climate crisis, 2017 was a year of backsliding by private banks. The report, Banking on Climate Change 2018, is the ninth annual report ranking bank policies and practices related to the financing of some of the most carbon-intensive, financially risky, and environmentally destructive fossil fuel sectors…
Polar ice is melting fast in north and south, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, April 10, 2018 New studies have confirmed, once again, the rapid melting of the polar ice in both hemispheres.
In orchestrated ploy, Kinder Morgan announces halt to all but non-essential work on Trans Mountains tar sands pipeline expansion, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, April 9, 2018 (updated and with postscripts)
1.5°C of warming is closer than we imagine, just a decade away, by David Spratt, Climate Code Red, April 5, 2018
Here is what #ShellKnew about climate change in the 1980s, Desmog Blog, by Mat Hope, April 5, 2018
Shell knew climate change was going to be big, was going to be bad, and that its products were responsible for global warming all the way back in the 1980s, a tranche of new documents reveal.
As Antarctic melting accelerates, worst-case scenarios may come true, by Dahr Jamail, columnist, Truthout.org, April 5, 2018
Some of the world’s most profound melting of glaciers is happening in the Antarctic; and is invisible from above. According to a study recently published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the underwater melting of Antarctic glaciers is now occurring at a rate that is doubling every 20 years. This means that melting in the ice continent of Antarctica could soon outpace that occurring across Greenland, which would make Antarctica the single largest source of sea level rise.
The new study was the first complete underwater mapping of Antarctica, by far the world’s largest body of ice…
Also by Dahr Jamail:
Thanks to climate disruption, Earth is already losing critical biosphere components, by Dahr Jamail, columnist, Truthout.org, April 5, 2018
Two weeks ago, I gave a keynote presentation about anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) at a large sustainability conference in Chico, California. During the question-and-answer session following my talk, a student asked me what I thought the world would look like by 2050. His question stopped me in my tracks. I had to pause and take a deep breath, to prepare myself emotionally for what I had to tell him. Here is the gist of what I said…
You can’t be a ‘climate mayor’ if you’re making more room for cars, by Alissa Walker. published on Curbed, Apr 6, 2018
As of last June, 402 U.S. mayors had joined the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, a group also known as the Climate Mayors, which was formed when the U.S. pulled out of the Paris climate accord. These mayors pledged to uphold the climate agreement, which was established to try and limit the rise of global average temperatures to 2.0 degrees Celsius—and aim for even more progressive targets.
Yet nine months later, this coalition of mayors, which represents 69 million Americans across 47 states, is still not doing enough to address the elephant in the atmosphere: the inextricable link between our cars and climate change…
The rush for lithium as the world turns to ‘renewable energy’ madness and excess, report by Gabriel Friedman, in Financial Post (Canada), April 6, 2018 ‘Rupert Merer, an analyst with National Bank Financial, pegs current lithium production at around 200,000 tons per year, and forecasts demand will quadruple to 800,000 tons per year by 2025.’
* Nickel mining: the hidden environmental cost of electric cars, by Max Opray, The Guardian, Aug 24, 2017 The extraction of nickel, mainly mined in Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Russia and the Philippines, comes with environmental and health costs
As countries the world over legislate to phase out petrol and diesel cars, attention is turning to the environmental impact of mining the materials needed for electric vehicle batteries.
This additional scrutiny has largely focused on ethical concerns with cobalt and lithium supply chains, despite Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s observation last year that the lithium ion batteries his vehicles use are mostly made of nickel and graphite, with lithium itself merely “the salt on the salad”. But the extraction of nickel – predominately mined in Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Russia and the Philippines – comes at an environmental and health cost.
Plumes of sulphur dioxide choking the skies, churned earth blanketed in cancerous dust, rivers running blood-red – environmental campaigners have painted a grim picture of the nickel mines and smelters feeding the electric vehicle industry…
* Cobalt mining for llithium-ion batteries has a high human cost, by Todd Frankel, Washington Post, Sept 30, 2016 Tracing the path from deadly hand-dug mines in Congo to consumers’ phones and laptops
The remote landscape of Congo in southern Africa lies at the heart of the world’s mad scramble for cheap cobalt, a mineral essential to the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones, laptops and electric vehicles made by companies such as Apple, Samsung and major automakers…
* The human cost of the lithium battery revolution, by Michael Reilly, MIT Technology Review, Oct 3, 2016 The batteries that power our high-tech lifestyle are built using materials extracted in dirty, often life-threatening conditions.
Ice-free Arctic projections under the Paris Agreement, research paper by Michael Sigmond, John C. Fyfe and Neil C. Swart, published on Nature Climate Change, April 2, 2018
Studies show Paris targets crucial to maintaining Arctic ice, by Ivan Semeniuk, science reporter, Globe and Mail, April 3, 2018 When Canada and other countries signed on to the Paris climate agreement in 2015 they pledged to hold global warming to under 2 C by the end of this century and work to a more ambitious limit of 1.5 degrees. Now, new research by Canadian and U.S. climate scientists reveals that between those two numbers lies a world of difference for the future of the Arctic and its peoples…
Will the dikes protecting the town of Sackville, New Brunswick finally fall? Rising seas could ruin land Acadians turned from marshes to farms, by Matthew McClearn, Globe and Mail, April 2, 2018 [This is the third article in a series examining the impacts on Canada’s coastlines of rising ocean levels. The first article reported on the city of Halifax on March 6, 2018. The second article reported on Quebec’s Isles de la Madeleine on March 19, 2018.]
Methane from permafrost melt more than thought, by Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, March 31, 2018
Consumerism and the revolutionary transformation to an ecological society, by Sebastian Livingston, published by the Socialist Party (USA), March 17, 2018
This article is intended to be an introduction to an ecosocialist approach to production and consumption. What we have today is a hegemonic obsession with mass production that is catastrophic to the evolutionary processes which allow the biosphere to uphold life as we know it. Capitalist modes of production based upon endless economic expansion and mass consumption disrupt the equilibrium of ecosystems by reshaping the metabolism of nature which regulates earth systems…
Greenland ice sheet melting doubled over the last century, by Yale Environment 360, March 29, 2018
The melting of the Greenland ice sheet has nearly doubled since the end of the 19th century and is currently melting at its fastest rate in at least 400 years, according to a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters…
Canada, provinces lack clear plan to adapt to climate change, auditors say, by Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press, Mar 27, 2018
OTTAWA – Neither the federal government nor the provinces have adequately assessed the risks a changing climate poses to the country and have no real idea what might be needed to adapt to it, concludes a scathing new audit released Tuesday.
The joint audit, conducted by federal environment commissioner Julie Gelfand and auditors general in nine provinces, took a detailed dive into climate change planning and emissions reduction progress between November 2016 and March 2018. It says while many governments have high-level goals to cut emissions, few have detailed plans to actually reach those goals, such as timelines, funding or expected results from specific actions.
Assessments to adapt to the risks posed by climate change have been haphazard, inconsistent and lacking in detail, with no timeline for action and no funding, the report notes. It also calls Canada’s emissions goals a hodgepodge of different targets…
Canada’s international commitment made at the 2015 climate change conference in Paris in 2015 is to cut emissions by at least 30 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030. As of 2015, the most recent year for which full statistics are available, Canada was nearly 200 million tonnes short of that goal, the equivalent of the emissions produced by about 44 million cars each year — twice the number of vehicles registered in Canada…
* Canada falling massively short of 2030 climate target, new analysis shows, by Mitchell Beer, The Energy Mix, March 29, 2018
* Australia’s emissions rise again in 2017, putting Paris targets in doubt, The Guardian, March 29, 2018
The Paris climate accords of 2015 are looking more and more like fantasy, by David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine, March 25, 2018
Remember Paris [the world climate change conference in Paris in December 2015, Wikipedia]? It was not even two years ago that the celebrated climate accords were signed — defining two degrees of global warming as a must-meet target and rallying all the world’s nations to meet it — and the returns are already dispiritingly grim.
This week, the International Energy Agency announced that carbon emissions grew 1.7 percent in 2017, after an ambiguous couple of years optimists hoped represented a leveling off, or peak; instead, we’re climbing again. [15-page IEA report here, Reuters news report here.] Even before the new spike, not a single major industrial nation was on track to fulfill the commitments it made in the Paris treaty…
Also by David Wallace-Wells:
The uninhabitable Earth: What climate change could wreak, sooner than you think, published in New York Magazine, July 10, 2017
* North Pole thaws mid-winter as winter warm temperatures smash records in the Arctic, CBC News, Feb 28, 2018
… “The last three or four years have each seen at least one of these events where the North Pole region or very close to the North Pole actually gets above freezing sometime in the middle of winter, which is really pretty remarkable because there’s no sunlight there.”
* Great Pacific plastic garbage patch is 16 times bigger than previously estimated, study finds, CBC News, March 22, 2018
… A new study involving scientists from around the world suggests there are more than 79,000 tonnes of ocean plastic in a 1.6 million square kilometre area of the North Pacific Ocean, often referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. That’s 16 times more than previous estimates.
BC Premier John Horgan offers billions in tax breaks in its zeal to create a liquified natural gas industry, by Rob Shaw, Vancouver Sun, Mar 22, 2018
[Green party leader Andrew Weaver says he won’t support the proposed changes, and will consider withdrawing his party’s support of the NDP minority government later this fall if the government can’t produce a climate plan to cut pollution while adding eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually from LNG Canada, the one project faintly alive. That project would be built in Kitimat, fueled by fracked gas and likely powered by the Site C hydroelectric dam currently under construction. The NDP government’s ‘official’ greenhouse gas reduction target is inherited from the previous, climate-wrecking Liberal government: 40 per cent reduction from 2007 levels. It was and remains a sham. The government is earning public relations points by feigning opposition to the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline expansion proposal, saying it is worried about oil spills but saying nothing of the global warming imperative to leave fossil fuels in the ground.]
Accuracy of methane leak reporting in Alberta clouds scope for new regulations, by Shawn McCarthy, global energy reporter, Globe and Mail, Mar 22, 2018
Methane emissions from oil and gas operations around Red Deer, Alta., in November, 2016, were 15 times higher than the levels that they reported to the provincial government, says a study in the journal Elementa released March 22…
Related news on CBC:
* New technology used to suppress Alberta’s ‘orphaned’ oil and gas well leaks, CBC News, March 22, 2018
… Natural gas can leak from oil wells, too, because producers often drill through gas-bearing rock to reach deeper oil-bearing formations. The shallower gas formations are normally sealed off with cement while the oil is produced but that cement seal can also deteriorate over time. Between 80,000 and 100,000 of Alberta’s oil and gas wells are inactive — in other words, no longer producing but not yet permanently abandoned and reclaimed.
Will Butler of the Alberta Energy Regulator says 10 to 12 per cent are probably leaking at least some natural gas. “We know there are many, many hundreds if not thousands of wells that the industry doesn’t realize are leaking,” he said.
“… Industry is of the mindset this is no longer their issue. But it is.”
* Oil firm ceasing operations, leaving thousands of untended Alberta wells, March 8, 2018
* Orphan well costs could sting Alberta taxpayers if regulator loses court battle, Feb 21, 2018
* ‘If we thought it was bad, it’s worse:’ Alberta methane releases underestimated, Canadian Press, Oct 17, 2017
Besides, I’ll be dead, book review by Meehan Crist, London Review of Books, Feb 22, 2018 Reviewing: The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, And The Remaking of the Civilized World, by Jeff Goodell; Little, Brown, Oct 2017, 340 pages, ISBN: 978-0-316-26024-4. (Also reviewed here in Science Magazine.)
Trudeau, Notley and Trans Mountain Pipeline claims: A Tyee fact check, by Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee (Vancouver BC), March 21, 2018 Pipeline-promoting politicians’ promises of riches rest on one Kinder Morgan consultant’s report that has been challenged by critics.
Hurricane Harvey’s toxic impact is deeper than public was told, Associated Press and Houston Chronicle, March 22, 2018
… Cape Town’s problems are partly down to bad luck. Rainfall in the area, which the city relies on for its water, is highly variable and the past three years have been among the driest on record. Climate change might have made this more likely, but no one knows for sure. The underlying cause, however, is simple: in several parts of South Africa, the supply of water hasn’t increased in line with growing demand…
Shrinking mountain snowpack, drier summers spell trouble for Vancouver water supply, by Emily Chung, CBC News, Mar 16, 2018
Canada’s ‘hard cap’ for tar sands climate pollution has loopholes the size of Nova Scotia, by Barry Saxifrage, National Observer, March 20, 2018
Prime Minister Trudeau says Alberta’s 100 million tonne “absolute cap on oilsands emissions” was a key factor in approving Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. But a close look at this “cap” reveals it has loopholes you could fit all of Nova Scotia’s emissions through, or even entire nations like Costa Rica or Nicaragua. There are six loopholes, five of which have no maximum limit. When it comes to oilsands climate pollution, everything is supersized it seems, even the loopholes…
Climate change soon to cause mass movement of refugees, World Bank warns, by Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent, The Guardian, Mar 19, 2018 140 million people in three regions expected to migrate before 2050 unless environment is improved
… The World Bank examined three regions, which between them account for 55% of the developing world’s population. In sub-Saharan Africa, 86 million are expected to be internally displaced over the period; in south Asia, about 40 million; and in Latin America, 17 million.
On the Louisiana coast, a Native community sinks slowly into the sea, by Ted Jackson, Yale Environment 360, March 15, 2018 The Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians of southern Louisiana have been called America’s first climate refugees. Two years after receiving federal funding to move to higher ground, the tribe is stuck in limbo, waiting for new homes as the water inches closer to their doors.
How climate activists failed to make clear the problem with natural gas, by Bill McKibben, Yale Environment 360, March 13, 2018 The climate movement’s biggest failure has been its inability to successfully make the case that natural gas is not a clean replacement for other fossil fuels. So as natural gas has boomed, U.S. emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, have increased dramatically.
[This commentary by Bill McKibben should be required reading for residents of the Canadian province of British Columbia. There, the provincial government has been running interference with the Alberta tar sands industry’s planned expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline connecting Alberta’s tar sands region to refineries in Washington state and to an export terminal in Vancouver harbour.
[The BC government’s stated concern about the Trans Mountain pipeline is narrow in its scope–limited to concern over potential spills of diluted bitumen from the pipeline or from ships taking the bitumen to overseas markets. But the government says nothing about the global warming consequences of tar sands extractoin and burning. The tar sands industry, backed by the Alberta and Canadian governments, is not only continuing its planet-threatening extractions, it wants to boost those by up to 50 per cent! Meanwhile, the BC government is moving full steam ahaead on expanding natural gas fracking and even fostering (subsidizing) a liquefied natural gas industry in the province. It is also proceeding, against the best financial and environmental advice, to build the $10 billion-plus ‘Site C’ hydroelectric dam along the Peace River in northeast BC. Much of that electricity will be sold to the tar sands industry in Alberta and to exanded mining operations. Gas fracking and Site C are receiving far less scrutiny and protest compared to the Trans Mountain project. The BC government’s wishy-washy stance on Trans Mountain project earns it valuable public relations points facilitating other climate-wrecking projects to proceed.]
Collapse of civilization? Letter to the editor of New Scientist magazine, Feb 17, 2018 (slightly adapted)
Laura Spinney’s article on the possible collapse of civilization (Jan 20, 2018) provides a useful underpinning for thoughts that must be haunting many of us who have paid attention to world news in the last decade. What such thoughts omit, however, is a vision or ideas that might inspire a great majority of humanity toward a long-term consensus.
The early spread of Marxism showed the possibility of inspirational ideas having powerful and widespread influence. Surely, now, attempts should be made to counter pessimism by trying to work out and promulgate some inspirational vision of humanity’s future to which most governments, organisations and populations might be able and willing to subscribe. It won’t be easy to find common ground between authoritarian and democratic governments, nor across sectarian and other divides – but that just indicates how far-seeing such a vision would need to be.
Easter Island statues could be lost to sea, warns UNESCO, RT, Mar 18, 2018
Easter Island is eroding, by Nicholas Casey and Josh Haner, New York Times, Mar 14, 2018 (interactive presentation with photos, video and map)
When Rome fell, the chief culprits were climate and disease. Sound familiar?, by Madeline Ostrander, published on Undark, March 16, 2018 Pundits who blame 21st-century-style moral rot miss the big picture, a new book argues. Against plague and drought, the empire never stood a chance.
20,000 scientists have now signed ‘warning to humanity’ letter, by Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch, March 9, 2018
The allure and perils of hydropower, by Lois Parshley, published in Undark, Nov 13, 2017 Damming rivers may seem like a clean and easy solution for Albania and other energy-hungry countries, but the devil is in the details
[Missing from the author’s otherwise informative account is how capitalist society creates an unending cycle of production and consumption, requiring all manner of energy generation to fuel it. So the first and second questions to examine in any analysis of expanding energy production is ‘Do we need it? Why?’]
Ottawa wants to save the endangered North Atlantic right whale, except that gets in the way of oil drilling so it doesn’t, report in Globe and Mail, Mar 14, 2018 [In February, Ottawa’s ‘feminist’ environment minister gave the go-ahead for oil and gas exploration off southeast Nova Scotia by no less than the notorious BP oil behemoth.]
* How the federal government is doing wrong by North Atlantic right whales, by Michael Harris, iPolitics.ca, Feb 8, 2018
* Ask a scientist: Could oil exploration wipe out the last North Atlantic right whales?, by Ingrid Biedron, Oceana, July 28, 2017 Oceana’s resident whale expert, Dr. Ingrid Biedron, is worried that North Atlantic right whales will go extinct. This critically endangered species, which ranges from the east coast of Canada down to Florida, was almost killed off by industrial whaling. The whales slowly recovered after an international ban on whaling. Then, in 2010, the recovery reversed course.
Four years after declaring war on pollution, China is winning, by Michael Greenstone, New York Times, Mar 12, 2018
… The U.S. Clean Air Act is widely regarded as having produced large reductions in air pollution. In the four years after its 1970 enactment, American air pollution declined by 20 percent on average. But it took about a dozen years and the 1981-1982 recession for the United States to achieve the 32 percent reduction China has achieved in just four years.
* PM2.5 in Beijing down 54%, but nationwide air quality improvements slow as coal use increases, press release by Greenpeace East Asia, Jan 11, 2018
* Chinese companies to build 700 coal plants in and outside China, by Andrew Topf, Mining.com, Oct. 8, 2017 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries
Climate change is a disaster foretold, just like the first world war, by Jeff Sparrow, Australia columnist, The Guardian, Mar 11, 2018
Alberta’s climate change claims ring hollow, op-ed commentary by Ian Urquhart, published in Calgary Herald (daily), March 5, 2018 (Ian Urquhart is a political science professor at the University of Alberta.)
Newly arrived rhinocerous beetle is devastating the coconut plantations on Solomon Islands, reports on ABC.net au, March 11, 2018 and report on Loop Pacific, (Papua New Guinea), July 27, 2017 The rhinocerous beetles are understood to have arrived from Papua New Guinea in 2015
Arctic has warmest winter on record: ‘It’s just crazy, crazy stuff’, Associated Press, Mar 6, 2018 Sea ice has hit record lows for time of year as experts say global warming probably fueled big storms in Europe and north-eastern U.S.
Climate change tightens grip on U.S. west coast despite progressive aspirations, by Oliver Milman, The Guardian, Mar 7, 2018 Seven million residents of the San Francisco Bay region are threatened by rising sea levels
Urban heat: Can white roofs help cool world’s warming cities?, by Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360, March 7, 2018
How will we feed the new global middle class?, by Charles C. Mann, published in The Atlantic (conservative monthly magazine), March 2018
* Malthus’ essay on population at age 200: A Marxian view, by John Bellamy Foster, Monthly Review, Dec 1, 1998
* The post-war intellectual roots of the population bomb: Fairfield Osborn’s ‘Our Plundered Planet’ and William Vogt’s ‘Road to Survival’ in retrospect, by Pierre Desrochers and Christine Hoffbauer (University of Toronto), 26 pages, January 2009
* Too many people?, book of the same title by authors Ian Angus and Simon Butler, Haymarket Press, 2011. The full text of the book is here. Read a detailed review of the book here.
Thousands march in Vancouver against Justin Trudeau’s eco-leadership and Kinder Morgan’s ‘Trans Mountain’ tar sands pipeline expansion, RT.com, Mar 10, 2018 (with extensive photos of the march)
Anti-pipeline demonstrations begin in Vancouver after court order to keep protesters at bay, Seattle Times, March 9, 2018
Big Oil is the new Big Tobacco: Climate change liability battles heat up, RobertScribbler, Mar 9, 2018
Nuclear waste mountains just go on growing, by Paul Brown, Climate News Network, Feb 27, 2018
Foreign oil and natural gas investor in Alberta is walking away, says it cannot pay for cleanup of several thousand sites, Globe and Mail, March 7, 2018
… Sequoia Resources Corp. told Alberta’s Energy Regulator (AER) that it is unable to clean up thousands of sites for which it has licences and that it would “cease operations imminently” due to defaults on municipal tax payments, according to regulatory documents.
… The company’s struggles raise questions about oversight of transactions in cases where purchasers lack the financial wherewithal to clean up assumed liabilities. It also threatens to exacerbate a spike in idle oil and gas wells leftover following a string of corporate bankruptcies across the industry.
Canada’s natural resource rail shipments bursting at the seams, leaving farmers out of luck, report on CBC News, March 7, 2018
Half of B.C.’s reserved agricultural land lying unused, report shows, by Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun, March 7, 2018
About 50 per cent of British Columbia’s Agricultural Land Reserve land is lying unused, in part due to the province’s failure to ensure the economic viability of the food sector, according to the authors of Protection is not Enough…
… The ALR was created in 1973 to protect 4.7 million hectares of farmland, because only five per cent of B.C.’s land area is considered suitable for agriculture. At that time more than 6,000 hectares of farmland was being lost to development each year. That pace has slowed to about 600 hectares a year.
… An investigation of 122 land sales in the Metro Vancouver area has revealed that 73 of those transactions were completed by investors rather than farmers, the study notes…
How food secure is B.C.? We don’t know, and it’s important we find out, by Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun, Feb 23, 2018 A Metro Vancouver land use inventory found that 50 per cent of the region’s farmland inside the Agricultural Land Reserve is not actively farmed. That figure rises to 75 per cent when only small lots — two hectares or less — are considered…
Speculators target B.C. farmland after foreign buyer tax introduced for residences, by Sam Cooper, Vancouver Sun, May 26, 2017
The world is embracing SUVs and that’s bad news for the climate and future generations, by Hiroko Tabushi, New York Times, Mar 3, 2018 The SUV-building bonanza contrasts with promises made by automakers of big investments in electric vehicles and other low-emitting vehicles. They are pouring resources into far more polluting SUVs
Another warning of global warming: Record auto and truck sales, by Roger Annis, published in A Socialist In Canada, Oct 4, 2017
Powerful winter storm in U.S. Northeast showed damage that high tides with sea level rise can do, by Phil McKenna, Climate News Network, Mar 5, 2018
… On March 2, Boston experienced its third-highest high tide since record keeping began in 1928, with waters just inches below the record of 15.16 feet set only a fw weeks ago on January 4, during the city’s last major winter storm.
… “There is roughly $6 billion of construction planned or occurring in Boston’s Seaport District. It’s known as the ‘innovation district’, but in fact it’s the ‘inundation district’. Very little of that construction is designed to contend with climate conditions that are already here, let alone those that lie in the near future,” said Bradley Campbell, president of the Conservation Law Foundation, a Boston-based environmental advocacy group.
* U.S. east coast still experiencing heavy seas as another storm looms, report on RobertScribbler, March 5, 2018
* Halifax’s battle of the rising sea: Will the city be ready for future floods and storms?, by Matthew McClearn, first of a series of articles on Canadian cities and sea level rise caused by global warming, Globe and Mail, March 6, 2018
[Sea levels in Halifax, population 420,000, are rising faster than in other coastal cities in Canada, due to the city’s land mass sinking. A 2004 municipal document reported that sea-level change “will seriously impact shoreline infrastructure such as seawalls and wharves and will threaten low lying buildings.” Seventy per cent of the app. one million residents of the province of Nova Scotia live at or near sea level. Nine communities continue to dump their raw sewage into local waters, while sewage overflows are routine during heavy rainfalls in those urban areas with sewage treatment.]
[From the Globe and Mail article: The city’s bylaws and design manuals remain largely silent on how developers should plan their waterfront buildings to cope with future flooding. “Climate change, ocean level rising, doesn’t get a lot of attention,” said Mr. Crace, the Halifax architect.]
Images from space lead to discovery of massive Penguin ‘supercolony’ in Antarctica, by George Dvorsky, Gizmodo, Mar 2, 2018
After noticing the telltale signs of guano streaks on satellite imagery, an international team of researchers set out to count the number of penguins on Antarctica’s aptly named Danger Islands. They found a previously undetected supercolony of over 1.5 million Adélie penguins—a surprising result, given how poorly these aquatic birds are doing just 100 miles away…
* Hidden colony of 1.5 million Adelie penguins discovered on Antarctica’s Danger Islands, six-minute interview with Michael Polito, oceanography professor at Louisiana State University and co-author of a study published in Nature magazine, interview on CBC’s weekday evening interview program ‘As It Happens’, March 2, 2018
* King penguins face a shrinking realm in Antarctica, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, Feb 28, 2018 King penguins – one of the most charismatic species of the Southern Ocean – are under threat from climate change. More than a million breeding pairs will either shift to new colonies or perish before the century’s end, as conditions in the Antarctic begin to change. The species Aptenodytes patagonicus could lose 70 per cent of its population, according to a new study in Nature Climate Change…
Awaiting ‘day zero’, now set at July 9, Cape Town, South Africa faces an uncertain water future, by Adam Welz, Yale Environment 360, March 1, 2018
BOSTON–One promise of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft was fewer cars clogging city streets. But studies suggest the opposite: that ride-hailing companies are pulling riders off buses, subways, bicycles and their own feet and putting them in cars instead. And in what could be a new wrinkle, a service by Uber called Express Pool now is seen as directly competing with mass transit…
Related: A majority of Uber and Lyft drivers earn far less than minimum wage, by Mehreen Kasana, Alternet, March 2, 2018 Report by MIT finds motorists make an average of $3.37 per hour—before taxes.
U.S. Northeast battered by second ‘once in a generation’ storm this year, RobertScribbler, March 2, 2018
A major nor’easter is lashing the Eastern U.S. today. Reports of moderate to severe tidal flooding are racking up as hurricane force gusts are pushing mounds of water inland and raking the coastline with tremendously powerful waves. This storm blew up to extreme intensity over the night-time and early morning hours on Friday as two low pressure cells converged off the U.S. coast. By afternoon, the storm had bombed out to 970 mb and was still intensifying…
[A global campaign to abolish single-use plastic bottles, wrappers, and bags would greatly advance the fight against capitalist-induced global warming. Campaigns to divest from fossil fuel investments and to implement ‘alternative energies’ can be important, but they must be fitted into a broader effort to strike at the core of the global warming crisis–which is the relentless expansion drive and the wasteful production-consumption cycle of capitalism. All the wasteful and harmful production must be radically reduced/retrenched and a new society of social justice and human development must be built.]
Two new books for Anthropocene times, book review by Ben Collyer, published in New Scientist, print issue of Jan 20, 2018 Fully embracing our connectedness with the biosphere will take rethinking how we see our objects and a new legal framework, argue two new books
Reviewing: Being Ecological, by Timothy Morton, Pelican Books, Jan 2018, 240 pp; and Our Oldest Task: Making sense of our place in nature, by Eric T. Freyfogle, University of Chicago Press, Aug 2017, 240 pp. Read the book review here in pdf format: Two new books for Anthropocene times
Related reading: Ecosocialist bookshelf, February 2018, published on Climate and Capitalism, Feb 25, 2018
Deadly heat: How to survive the world’s new temperature extremes, by John Pickrell, published in New Scientist, print issue of Jan 20, 2018 (with world map showing three scenarios of future extreme heat waves) Read the article here in pdf format: Deadly heat.
The curse of energy efficiency, by Andrew Nikiforuk, columnist, The Tyee (Vancouver BC), Feb 27, 2018 The more ‘efficient’ our technology, the more resources we consume in a downward spiral of catastrophe.
… As long as we define environmental, political and economic problems as essentially technical in nature, then we will proscribe energy efficiency as the solution. But if we were to admit that our problems were spiritual and political in nature and bedeviled by population and affluence, then we would endorse reductions in energy consumption and the inequalities that feed such appetites.[The author concludes his essay with: ” This refusal to acknowledge the truth leaves the world but two options for change: collapse or revolution.” But what sort of ‘revolution’? A planned, orderly supplanting of capitalism in favour of a higher form of society (socialism) is clearly in the cards. But why won’t the author say so?]
Cornucopian renewable energy claims leave poor nations in the dark, by Stan Cox, published in Green Social Thought, Feb 22, 2018 (Green Social Thought is a project of the Green Party in St Louis, USA)
Development without energy? Assessing future scenarios of energy consumption in developing countries, by Jan Christoph Steckel, J.Brechaad, Michael Jakobac, Jessica Streflera and Gunnar Luderera, February 2013 (the authors are members of various institutes, including Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)
Welcome to the age of climate migration, special report by Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone, Feb 24, 2018 Extreme weather due to climate change displaced more than a million people from their homes last year. It could soon reshape the nation (Jeff Goodell is the author of the 2017 book, The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilised World.)
… As companies around the world grow concerned about the risks of climate change, they have started looking for clarity on how warming might disrupt their operations in the future. But governments in the United States and Europe have been slow to translate academic research on global warming into practical, timely advice for businesses or local city planners. Now some private companies, like Jupiter, are trying to fill the gap…
Invasive insect feasts on Louisiana wetlands, inviting the Gulf in, by Tristan Baurick, New York Times, Feb 24, 2018 A pest known as a scale appears to be killing off reeds that bind the state’s coast together, speeding land loss and endangering oil wells, shipping routes and fishing grounds.
* Fortified but still in peril, New Orleans braces for its future, by John Schwartz and Mark Schleifstein, New York Times, Feb 24, 2018
* Louisiana, sinking fast, prepares to empty out its coastal plain, by Christopher Flavelle, Bloomberg News, Dec 22, 2017
A good life for all within planetary boundaries, published by the University of Leeds, lead author Dan O’Neill, February 2018
No country in the world currently meets the basic needs of its citizens at a globally sustainable level of resource use. Our research, recently published in Nature Sustainability (and summarised in The Conversation), is the first to quantify the national resource use associated with achieving a good life for over 150 countries. It shows that meeting the basic needs of all people on the planet would result in humanity transgressing multiple environmental limits, based on current relationships between resource use and human well-being…
* Is it possible for everyone to live a good life within our planet’s limits?, by Dan O’Neill (University of Leeds), published in The Conversation, Feb 8, 2018
* Canada is unsustainable, so is everywhere else, by Crawford Kilian, The Tyee (Canada), Feb 23, 2018
Only fantasies, desperation and wishful thinking keep Alberta tar sands pipeline plans alive, By Mitchell Anderson, The Tyee, Feb 23, 2018 There is no waiting Asian market for tar sands crude, in fact there’s no waiting market anywhere
Kicking our plastic addiction, editorial, LA Times, Feb 20, 2018
… It’s going to take more than a smattering of bans on single items to cure society of its disposable-plastic habit. The sheer volume of plastic trash now littering Earth has become impossible to ignore. It’s time for environmentalists, policymakers and elected officials to start planning a broader response: phasing out all single-use plastic, not just the most pernicious. That’s right, all of it…
* China’s waste import ban upends global recycling industry, by Becky Davis And Lillian Ding, Phys.org, Jan 21, 2018
* China’s plan to stop recycling the world’s rubbish, by Andy Coghlan, New Scientist, Jan 3, 2018. (Read article in the attached pdf: China to stop recycling the world’s rubbish)
* ‘Wasted’: What happens when China no longer wants our trash?, news report and interview on CBC Radio One‘s ‘Day Six’ with Adam Minter, Jan 12, 2018 (Adam Minter is a columnist with Bloomberg News and the author of the 2013 book Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade)
* A million bottles a minute: world’s plastic binge ‘as dangerous as climate change’, by Sandra Laville and Matthew Taylor, The Guardian, June 28, 2017
January 2018 was the fifth hottest January in the 138-year climate record, by Robert Haney, published in his blog Robertscribbler, Feb 20, 2018
New technology to solidify Alberta tar sands bitumen may reduce shipping dangers but does nothing to change threat to global warming, report by Justin Mikulka, DeSmog Blog, Feb 18, 2018
Greenwashed timber: How sustainable forest certification has failed, by Richard Conniff, Yale Environment 360, Feb 20, 2018 The Forest Stewardship Council was established to create an international system for certifying sustainable wood. But critics say it has had minimal impact on tropical deforestation and at times has served only to provide a cover for trafficking in illegal timber.
Lithium-ion battery production is surging, but at what cost?, by Emma Foehringer Merchant, Green Tech, Sept 20, 2017
… Though an explosion in EVs [electric vehicles] and energy storage will allow countries to rely on less carbon-intensive energy, the extraction of essential ingredients to make cost-effective lithium-ion batteries generally leaves environmental and human devastation in its wake.
Industry leaders have come closer to solving how to store energy and power cars without fossil fuels on a large scale, but they’re just beginning to grapple with the moral implications of a clean energy industry supported by the ugly truths of child labor and pollution.
Startling decline in populations of orangutans in Borneo, driven by human hunting, by Bruce Bower, Science News, February 15, 2018 (with mapping)
Orangutan numbers on the Southeast Asian island of Borneo plummeted from 1999 to 2015, more as a result of human hunting than habitat loss, an international research team finds.
Over those 16 years, Borneo’s orangutan population declined by about 148,500 individuals. A majority of those losses occurred in the intact or selectively logged forests where most orangutans live, primatologist Maria Voigt of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues report February 15 in Current Biology…
Besides, I’ll be dead, book review by Meehan Crist, published in London Review of Books, print issue of Feb 22, 2018. Reviewing: The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilised World, by Jeff Goodell, Little, Brown, Oct 2017 [The book is listed in the ‘Ecology and the global warming emergency’ section of the ‘Books and essays’ page of A Socialist In Canada website.]
Satellite data show sea level rise will double previous estimates says report of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, summarized in Courthouse News, Monday, Feb 12, 2018
Twenty-five years of satellite data reveal that sea-level rise is increasing rapidly and by the end of the century could be twice as high as some climate models project, a new study finds. The report, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that rather than swelling at a consistent rate of 3 millimeters a year, global sea level rise is accelerating by roughly 0.08 millimeters each year and could exceed 10 millimeters a year, or more, by 2100.
If the oceans continue to change at this rate, sea levels will rise 26 inches by the end of the century – enough to cause major problems for coastal cities, according to the study. “And this is almost certainly a conservative estimate,” said lead author Steve Nerem, an aerospace engineer at the University of Colorado, Boulder…
Related: Satellites show warming is accelerating sea level rise, by Seth Borenstein, science writer, Associated Press, Feb 12, 2018
Ten rivers contribute most of the plastic in the oceans, by Prachi Patel, Scientific American, issue of February 2018
Our seas are choking on plastic. A staggering eight million metric tons wind up in oceans every year, and unraveling exactly how it gets there is critical. A recent study estimates that more than a quarter of all that waste could be pouring in from just 10 rivers, eight of them in Asia.
“Rivers carry trash over long distances and connect nearly all land surfaces with the oceans,” making them a major battleground in the fight against sea pollution, explains Christian Schmidt, a hydrogeologist at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany.
… Rivers collectively dump anywhere from 0.47 million to 2.75 million metric tons of plastic into the seas every year, depending on the data used in the models. The ten rivers that carry 93 per cent of that trash are the Yangtze, Yellow, Hai, Pearl, Amur, Mekong, Indus and Ganges Delta in Asia, and the Niger and Nile in Africa. The Yangtze alone dumps up to an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of plastic waste annually into the Yellow Sea…
Tracing the tangled tracks of humankind’s evolutionary journey, by Hannah Devlin, science correspondent, The Guardian, Feb 12, 2018
Let’s go back to the beginning. When did we and our ape cousins part ways? Scientists are still working on an exact date – or even a date to within a million years. Like many of the big questions in human evolution, the answer itself has evolved over the past few decades as new discoveries, techniques and technology have provided fresh insights…
Can the world find solutions to the nitrogen pollution crisis?, by Fred Pearce, published by Yale Environment 360, Feb 6, 2018
More and more nitrogen keeps pouring into waterways, unleashing algal blooms and creating dead zones. To prevent the problem from worsening, scientists warn, the world must drastically cut back on synthetic fertilizers and double the efficiency of the nitrogen used on farms.
… Earth system scientists say nitrogen is the major factor in biogeochemical pollution, one of four “planetary boundaries” that we have exceeded, risking “irreversible and abrupt environmental change.” The world is attempting to address the other three: climate change, deforestation, and biodiversity loss. But, says Sutton, a British researcher at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Edinburgh, nitrogen pollution is a largely ignored environmental story, with no international agreement or UN agency to galvanize action.
The growing danger of ecosystem collapse and Trump’s war on nature, by Curtis Johnson, Truthout.org, Feb 8, 2018[This article provides a sweeping and damning overview of the ecological destruction of the planet being wrought by the capitalist system. But the message is marred because the article stops short of identifying capitalism’s expansion imperative as being the driving force of the destructive path. Furthermore, the article blames the Donald Trump-led government for highly regressive climate change policies while making no mention of the Republican and Democratic party duopoly that has led the U.S. and the world to its present emergency state. The unspoken message is that maybe the planet has a chance under capitalism after all, but only if managed by Democrats and their ilk. ]
Will Cape Town’s ‘day zero’ [water cut-off] arrive?, by Leonie Joubert, Climate News Network, Feb 7, 2018
The long road ahead for the electric-vehicle revolution, subscriber-only article by Greg Keenan and Shawn McCarthy, Globe and Mail, Feb 9, 2018[If successful, electric vehicle sales will replicate the destructive path already carved by the fossil fuel-powered automobile and truck industries–fetishization of commodities, urban sprawl, carbon pollution, human intrusion into the habitats of fellow species. Liberal environmentalists should reject, not hail, a future of EV vehicles.]
Related: Researchers look to break the barriers of battery technology for electric vehicles, subscriber-only article by Shawn McCarthy, Globe and Mail, Feb 9, 2018
New study details failure of Alberta tar sands producers to control emissions, shows multi-trillion-dollar pollution mess they will leave behind, by David Climenhaga, Rabble.ca, Feb 1, 2018
A new report from the Parkland Institute [Edmonton, Alberta] shows none of Alberta’s Big Five tar sands producers have even set targets to bring their emissions in line with the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement that Canada’s federal government has signed onto… The report, What the Paris Agreement Means for Alberta’s Oil Sands Majors, contains dire analysis of “the social cost of carbon”, concluding that the five giant oilsands companies are causing as much as $2 trillion in pollution…
What global warming? General Motors looks to trucks and SUVs to keep profits high, report by Reuters, Feb 7, 2018
… Toyota sold 2.29 million vehicles globally in October-December, largely flat from a year prior. Sales in Japan rose 3.3 percent but fell 1.3 percent in North America, where the automaker is struggling with heavy discounting as it tries to produce and sell larger vehicles…
Five-year global temperature forecast indicates further warming, published by the UK Met Office, Feb 1, 2018
A new forecast published by scientists at the Met Office [Britain’s weather and climate forecasting office] indicates the annual global average temperature is likely to exceed 1 °C and could reach 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels during the next five years (2018-2022)…
Later this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will publish a special report about the risks of exceeding the 1.5 °C warming level and what might be done to avoid it.
Cuba embarks on a 100-year plan to protect itself from climate change, by Richard Stone, Science
… Conservative scenarios of sea-level rise forecast an 85-centimeter [3.3 foot] increase by 2100. According to the latest forecast by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment of Cuba (CITMA), seawater incursion will contaminate nearly 24,000 square kilometers of Cuban land this century. About 20 per cent of that land could become submerged. “That means several per cent of Cuban land will be under water,” says Armando Rodríguez Batista, director of science, technology and innovation at CITMA…
As ‘Day Zero’ approaches, Cape Town faces a waterless future, by Diane Neille, Globe and Mail, Feb 2, 2018
* As Cape Town water crisis deepens, scientists prepare for ‘day zero’, by Amy Maxmen, Nature magazine, Jan 26, 2018
* Cape Town water crisis: heading for ecological suicide?, by Anthony Turton, Cape Town Messenger, Oct 23, 2017
As the planet burns, industry is looking to northern BC and Alberta for vast expansion of gas and oil fracking; the NDP governments of both provinces are throwing open the doors, report by Reuters, Jan 28, 2018
… “Increasingly we are going to see light tight oil and liquids-rich natural gas forming a key part of Alberta’s energy future,” said Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, energy minister for the province where the oil sands and much of Canada’s shale reserves are located…
Not even the briefest of pauses for human-forced global warming as oceans during 2017 were the hottest on record, RobertScribbler, Jan 26, 2018 Where does most of the heat trapped by human fossil fuel and other greenhouse gas emissions ultimately end up? Given our fixation on global surface temperatures, many people would say ‘the atmosphere.’ But this answer is incorrect. The vast majority ends up in the world ocean…
* 2017 was the warmest year on record for oceans, by Dahr Jamail, Truthout.org, Jan 18, 2018 (see chart of ocean temperatures below)
* Coral reefs face infection risk from plastic, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, Jan 29, 2018 Scientists have established yet another hazard from the millions of tons of plastic waste that tip into the sea: it delivers microbial infection to the world’s coral reefs…
Displacing coal with wood for power generation will worsen climate change, say researchers, Climate Code Red, Jan 19, 2018 … U.S. forests are a main source for EU wood pellet imports, which have been rising as demand has grown. These forests grow back slowly, so it takes a long time to repay the initial “carbon debt” incurred by burning wood instead of coal. For forests in the central and eastern U.S., which supply much of the wood used in UK power plants, the payback time for this carbon debt ranges from 44 to 104 years, depending on forest type—and assuming the land remains forest…
The dirty secret of the world’s plan to avert climate disaster through ‘carbon capture and storage’, by Abby Rabinowitz and Amanda Simpson, Wired Magazine, Dec 10, 2017 Can negative carbon emissions technology (‘carbon capture and storage) work in the real world, on a global scale? To explore that question, we visited the one project in the world that modelers cite as evidence that the technology exists-an ethanol plant in Decatur, Illinois.
The day the water ran out: Climate change day zero swiftly approaching for Cape Town, by Robert Haney, published on his website RobertScribbler, Jan 24, 2017
Cape Town is the world’s first major city to lose its water supply, interviews with climatologist Simon Gear in Johannesburg, Robert Koopman, a botanist with CapeNature, and Mike Young, University of Adelaide, broadcast on CBC Radio One‘s ‘The Current’, Jan 23, 2018 (24 minute broadcast, scroll down at the the weblink to find the interview audio and transcript)
2017 was the warmest year on record for oceans, by Dahr Jamail, Truthout.org, Jan 18, 2018
Alberta’s tar sands ponds are full of 340 billion gallons of toxic sludge, spurring fears of environmental catastrophe, report by Kevin Orland, in Bloomberg News, Jan 16, 2018 Alberta’s tailings ponds cover about 97 square miles and hold enough waste to fill more than half a million Olympic-size swimming pools
On Chesapeake Bay, a precarious future of rising seas and high tides, by Tim Horton, filmmaker, Yale Environment 360, Jan 22, 2018 (with 15-minute video) Maryland’s Dorchester County is ground zero for climate change on Chesapeake Bay, as rising seas claim more and more land. An e360 video explores the quiet beauty of this liquid landscape and how high tides and erosion are putting the bay’s rural communities at risk.
Iran’s drought and water crisis [This collection of articles has been added as a postscript to: Imperialists reiterate threats against Iran following a week of social-economic protests in the country, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, Jan 8, 2018]:
* A long-simmering factor in Iran protests: climate change, by Shashank Bengali and Ramin Mostaghim, LA Times, Jan 17, 2018
* The visible effects of climate change in Iran, by Bryan Walsh, TIME Magazine, April 5, 2017
* As drought grips Iran, farmers lament loss of a way of life, by Shashank Bengali and Ramin Mostaghim, LA Times, Sept 28, 2016
* Iran official warns water crisis could lead to mass migration, by Arash Karami, Al-Monitor, April 28, 2015
International Energy Agency sees ‘explosive’ growth in U.S. oil output, threatening 2017’s moderate rise in world oil prices, by Angelina Rascouet, Bloomberg News, Jan 19, 2018[Moderate increases in world oil prices occasioned by the 2017 decision by OPEC countries to cut production are threatened by production surges elesewhere. Bloomberg reports: “The big 2018 supply story is unfolding fast in the Americas” the IEA said in its monthly report. “Explosive growth in the U.S. and substantial gains in Canada and Brazil will far outweigh potentially steep declines in Venezuela and Mexico.” …]
Rising market failure puts planet in jeopardy, by Kieran Cooke, Climate News Network, Jan 17, 2018 ‘In general, market mechanisms have done little to bolster the fight against climate change.’
Europe’s microwave ovens emit nearly as much CO2 as seven million cars, by Juliette Jowit, The Guardian, Jan 18, 2018 The biggest impact comes from electricity used to power the microwaves, but study also highlights rising environmental cost of our throwaway culture
Relax, Earth may warm by ‘only’ three degrees by 2100, say UK researchers, Agence France Presse, Jan 18, 2018
Related: Paris 1.5-to-two-degree target is far from safe, say world-leading scientists, by David Spratt, Climate Code Red, July 27, 2017 (first published at Renew Economy) …In their research paper and an associated media release and brief, the authors lay out the evidence and need for drastic, immediate emission reductions, and the drawdown of atmospheric carbon to a safe level. Here are the main findings of the research (all figures are based on a 1880-1920 baseline): …
The ten hottest U.S. years on record, by Climate Central, Jan 9, 2018 Eight of the ten hottest years on record have occurred since 1998
* 2017 was one of the three hottest years on record, NASA and NOAA scientists say, by Amina Khan, LA Times, Jan 18, 2018
* By air, land and sea, global warming rises, by Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, Jan 19, 2018 Within hours of the announcement by scientists in the US that 2017 was at least the third warmest year recorded, if not the second, over the Earth’s land and oceans, there comes a further revelation: 2017 was also the warmest year on record for the global oceans.
Site C hydroelectric dam in British Columbia is a train wreck in slow motion, by Ken Boon, Alaska Highway News, Jan 10, 2018 …For many of us who took part in the BCUC review process, that decision is shocking and unacceptable. Premier Horgan has been invited to appear at the Site C Summit in Victoria BC on January 26 to explain.
Massive infrastructure projects are failing at unprecedented rates, by Keith Schneider, National Geographic, Nov 20, 2017 Big fossil-fuel, mining, hydroelectric, and other “mega projects” are struggling thanks to competition from newer, cleaner technologies and a firestorm of market and civil forces.
What we learned about the climate system in 2017 that should send shivers down the spines of policy makers, by David Spratt, published on Climate Code Red, Jan 15, 2018
Here are three developments in 2017 that should send shivers down the spines of policy makers:
1. 2017 was the second hottest year on record and the hottest non-El Nino year on record
2. It is likely to get hotter than we think
3. Climate models underestimate future risks
Do seven cheap things explain the history of capitalism?, book review by Ian Angus, published on Climate and Capitalism, Jan 10, 2018 Ian Angus says a new book by Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore–A History Of The World In Seven Cheap Things–replaces concrete analysis with an artificial schema that reduces the complex organic relationship between society and the rest of nature to cheap things. Ian Angus is an author and the publisher of Climate and Capitalism.
Also by Ian Angus: Memo to Jacobin: Ecomodernism is not ecosocialism, by Ian Angus, Climate and Capitalism, Sept 25, 2017
Warming set to breach Paris accord’s toughest limit of 1.5 degrees by mid century, says draft IPCC report, Reuters, Jan 11, 2018
The world’s plastic waste is now piling up as China refuses to take the West’s dirty recycling products, by Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, New York Times, Jan 11, 2018
Ever since China announced last year that it no longer wanted to be the “world’s garbage dump”, recycling about half of the globe’s plastics and paper products, Western nations have been puzzling over what to do when China’s ban on receiving dirty and low-grade reycling product goes into effect, which it did on January 1.
The answer, to date, in Britain at least, is nothing. At least one waste disposal site in London is already seeing a buildup of plastic recyclables and has had to pay to have some of it removed. Similar backups have been reported in Canada, Ireland, Germany and several other European nations, while tons of rubbish is piling up in port cities like Hong Kong…
Related: ‘Wasted’: What happens when China no longer wants our trash?, news report and interview on CBC Radio One‘s ‘Day Six’ with Adam Minter, Jan 12, 2018 [Adam Minter is a columnist with Bloomberg News and the author of the 2013 book Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade ]
‘Climate change’ and ‘global warming’ are disappearing from U.S. government websites, by Umair Irfan, VOX News, Jan 11, 2018
New York City sues oil companies for contributing to global warming, plans $5 billion divestment from fossil fuel-laden pension funds, Reuters, Jan 10, 2018[There is a large dose of grandstanding involved when municipal governments wage lawsuits against the oil companies for global warming. Capitalist governments, too, are enablers of the gluttony and excess which is the central cause of the global warming emergency. Unlike lawsuits against tobacco companies in the past (for which no one in the industry ever went to jail), there is no ‘quick fix’ to global warming. There is nothing akin to easy measures such as quitting smoking or banning tobacco advertising; only a difficult drawdown of all the waste and excess, whether powered by fossil fuels or ‘alternative energies’.
For a positive spin on the New York City lawsuit/divest decision, read: As New York City declares war on the oil industry, the politically impossible suddenly seems possible, by Naomi Klein, The Intercept, Jan 11, 2018 ‘… Regular humans may not be more powerful than the fossil fuel companies now — but we might be soon.’
And further related: ‘Eco-friendly’ de Blasio won’t give up SUV rides to gym, by Rich Calder, New York Post, June 2, 2017
17 dead and 17 still missing from mudslides after heavy rain hit areas of fire-ravaged southern California, LA Times, Jan 9, 2018 (with video; casualty figures updated on Jan 10) [Only 10-15 per cent of 23,000 residents of Santa Barbara County heeded calls on January 8 to voluntarily evacuate as heavy rains approached (Reuters).]
Deadly irukandji jellyfish drifting south as sea temperatures rise, threatening Australia’s huge Gold Coast tourism industry, Australian Associated Press, Jan 9, 2018 [Scientists have warned for years of the likely expansion of the irukandji jellyfish range as ocean temperatures rise. The tourism industry says ‘not to worry’.] Related: Irukandji jellyfish on the move down Queensland’s coast, expert says; four people stung off Fraser Island, ABC.net.au, Dec 29, 2017
In talks to form new coalition government, German parties agree that 2020 emissions reductions can’t be reached, Quartz, Jan 9, 2018 All sides agree, according to the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) news agency, that the country’s 2007 climate target of reducing CO2 levels by 40% from their 1990 levels is un-doable.
At $306 billion, U.S. bill for 2017 natural disasters smashes record, Associated Press, Jan 8, 2018
… The US had 16 disasters last year with damage exceeding a billion dollars, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report. That ties 2011 for the number of billion-dollar disasters, but the total cost blew past the previous record of $215 billion in 2005…
Related: Billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the United States, 1980-2017, by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Below is a historical table of U.S. Billion-dollar disaster events, summaries, report links and statistics for the 1980–2017 period of record.
Climate change is suffocating large parts of the ocean, by Craig Welch, National Geographic, Jan 4, 2018 A new study published in Science Magazine says warming has reduced the oxygen levels in large swaths of the deep ocean, threatening marine life around the world.
… The world’s oceans have lost about two per cent of their oxygen in just 50 years, while the amount of water that’s completely free of oxygen has increased fourfold, according to the new study.
Climate change may have helped spark Iran’s protests, by Scott Waldman, Scientific American, Jan 8, 2018
Wildlife interrupted: How fencing is threatening Africa’s wildlife by blocking migrations, by Penny van Oosterzee, New Scientist, Dec 6, 2017 Read the article in pdf here: Wildlife interrupted. ‘Since 1977, there has been a precipitous decline in wildlife, averaging 70 per cent across Kenya.’
Related: Mending fences in Australia in the war between dingoes and sheep, by Serena Solomon, New York Times, Jan 7, 2018
… “The dingo fence is probably the most extreme length undertaken by any country in the world to exclude a predator from inhabiting or recolonizing areas where they once used to roam free,” Dr. Newsome said. The barrier also disrupts the migration of many animal species and genetically isolates their populations.
Snowstorm gone in Atlantic N. America but cold will stick around through weekend, by Philip Marcelo, Associated Press, Jan 5, 2018
* Snowstorm floods Boston Harbor and coastal Massachusetts streets with icy water, ABC News, Jan 4, 2018
* What is this ‘bomb cyclone’ threatening the U.S.?, by Annie Sneed, Scientific American, Jan 3, 2018 Some people have been comparing this storm with a hurricane—is that fair? In some ways. The structure is different, and the energy source is different, so you’re going to have considerable differences in what the impacts are. But it’s the same size as a hurricane, and it’s got similar sorts of winds…
Trump opens vast waters to offshore drilling, by Brittany Patterson and Zack Colman, Scientific American, Jan 5, 2018
In a striking about-face, the Interior Department announced yesterday that it wants to allow drilling in nearly all U.S. waters, the single largest expansion of offshore oil and gas leasing ever proposed by the federal government… [The decision reverses limits put in place in 2016 in the dying days of President Barak Obama’s term, responding in part to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil drilling disaster (Wikipedia) in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. In September 2014, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that BP was primarily responsible for the oil spill because of its gross negligence and reckless conduct. In July 2015, BP agreed to pay $18.7 billion in fines, the largest corporate settlement in U.S. history.]
The year climate change began to spin out of control, by James Temple, senior editor, MIT Technology Review, Jan 4, 2018
… Despite all our climate policies, global accords, solar advances, wind farms, hybrid cars, and Teslas, greenhouse-gas emissions are still moving in the wrong direction. As long as we’re emitting any at all, we’re only making the problem worse.
Here are the five most worrisome climate developments we saw in 2017…
Scientists can now blame individual natural disasters on climate change, by Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, Jan 2, 2018
Extreme event attribution is one of the most rapidly expanding areas of climate science
Seventh year in a row for record global vehicle sales, CNN Money, Jan 3, 2018[Global auto sales in 2017 are expected to hit a record 94.5 million vehicles. In the U.S., annual sales fell 1.8% to 17.2 million vehicles, coming off 2016’s record year. The proportion of auto versus light truck (including SUV) sales in the U.S. is app. 50-50. Best seller is the Ford F-series pickup truck behemoth.]
Canada records record annual vehicle sales in 2017, Financial Post (Postmedia), Jan 3, 2018[For the first time in Canada , sales of gas guzzling pickup trucks and SUVs exceeded auto sales. The highest selling vehicle is the Ford F-series pickup truck.]
Sea level rise projections double, painting terrifying picture for next generation, by Dahr Jamail, Truthout.org, Jan 2, 2018
In a consistent trend, future projections of an increase in the overall global temperature, as well increases in sea level rise, continue to outpace previous worst-case scenarios. This is due to a simple equation: There is already enough CO2 in the atmosphere and heat absorbed into the planet’s oceans that even if we stopped emitting carbon completely right now, the planet would continue to experience and display dramatic impacts from anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) for thousands of years.
The second part of that equation is this: There is simply nothing to indicate that national governments around the world are willing to take the immediate, radical steps that would be necessary to begin to seriously mitigate these impacts…
On its 100th birthday in 1959, Edward Teller warned the oil industry about global warming, by Benjamin Franta, The Guardian, Jan 1, 2018
American oil’s awareness of global warming – and its conspiracy of silence, deceit, and obstruction – goes further than any one company. It extends beyond (though includes) ExxonMobil. The industry is implicated to its core by the history of its largest representative, the American Petroleum Institute…
Pesticides: The unsung epidemic, by Robert Hunziker, CounterPunch, Jan 1, 2018