This is a newsroll page on A Socialist In Canada, commencing September 2017. It consists of headlines and weblinks, with occasional news summary and brief analysis by A Socialist In Canada [in square brackets]. For months preceding October 2018, go to ‘News pages archives’ on the home page of A Socialist In Canada and use the drop-down menu. See also the feature articles on ecology and global warming that are listed in the website category ‘Environment‘ (listed on the main website page). To find past stories on this and other news pages on this website, use the ‘find’ (word search) function on your web browser. Headlines in red denote items published on the main news page of A Socialist In Canada.
Articles about the politics in Canada of the global warming emergency are listed in the ‘Canada newsroll‘ page of the website. For example, that’s where to find news and analysis of the unfolding battle surrounding the proposed expansion of the ‘Trans Mountain’ tar sands bitumen pipeline from Alberta to the Port of Vancouver BC.
Ecology newsroll headlines, September 2018
‘Clean energy leader’ Germany will proceed with destruction of remaining Hamback Forest in western Germany to expand vast coal strip mine, Deutsche Welle, Sept 30, 2018 [The Hambach strip mine began in 1978 and has grown to a total surface area of 85 square kilometers (as of the year 2011). It is the deepest strip mine with respect to sea level in the world, at some 300 metres below sea level. (Wikipedia) The last ten per cent of the Hambach Forest is slated for destruction to allow further expansion of the mine.]
Hurricane Florence crippled electricity and coal while solar and wind were back the next day, by Irina Ivanova, CBS News, Sept 25, 2018
While economic growth continues we’ll never kick our fossil fuels habit, by George Monbiot, The Guardian, Sept 26, 2018 … There may be more electric vehicles on the world’s roads, but there are also more internal combustion engines. There be more bicycles, but there are also more planes. It doesn’t matter how many good things we do: preventing climate breakdown means ceasing to do bad things. Given that economic growth, in nations that are already rich enough to meet the needs of all, requires an increase in pointless consumption, it is hard to see how it can ever be decoupled from the assault on the living planet… [In this article, George Monbiot continues with his insightful analysis of the global warming emergency. In this, he is far more perceptive and challenging that the ‘ecosocialists’ and their vague talk of ‘socialism’ and ‘revolution’ as a solution to the global warming emergency. But Monbiot avoids pointing the finger at the expansionist capitalist system for causing the emergency and therefore has only llimp and vacuous proposals as to what to do. “Let us talk a better world into being,” he concludes.]
Special report: The new megaprojects changing the face of our planet, special report by Graham Lawton, published in New Scientist (weekly), print issue of Sept 1, 2018 … According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which maintains the Red List of Threatened Species, of 13,761 endangered or critically endangered species, 4383 are directly threatened by infrastructure projects of one kind or another. These include residential and commercial development, extractive industries, energy projects and road building. A further 7500 or so species are at risk from farming, logging, hunting, gathering, trapping and fishing. These are not infrastructure projects per se, but they are enabled by them – especially road building. Cutting a road through a wilderness is like gouging a strip of paint off the surface of a piece of wood: rot gets in and diffuses outwards… Read the full article in pdf format: The new road and highway megaprojects
The era of climate mass migration in the U.S. has begun, by Oliver Millman, The Guardian, Sept 24, 2018 (The article is part of a series in The Guardian titled ‘Americans: The next climate migrants’.)
… “Including all climate impacts, it isn’t too far-fetched to imagine something twice as large as the Dustbowl,” said Jesse Keenan, a climate adaptation expert at Harvard University, referencing the 1930s upheaval in which 2.5 million people moved from the dusty, drought-ridden plains of the United States to California.
… By the end of this century, according to one study [published in May 2017 by Nature Climate Change], sea level rise alone could displace 13 million people in the U.S., including six million in Florida. States including Louisiana, California, New York and New Jersey will also have to grapple with hordes of residents seeking dry ground.
Related: Welcome to the age of climate migration, by Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone, Feb 25, 2018 … One recent study in the journal Nature Climate Change predicts that by 2050, as much as 30 percent of the world’s land surface could face desertlike conditions, including large swaths of Asia, Europe, Africa and southern Australia. More than 1.5 billion people currently live in these regions. [The final paragraph of the mentioned study in Nature Climate Change reads: … In this study, we have shown that substantial aridity index signals are projected to emerge during this century in sizable fractions of the world, measured by both population and area. Keeping global warming to below 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels can reduce the likelihood of such emergent aridification in many regions compared to even a warming of 2 °C. Because present mitigation policies do not appear to be sufficient to achieve the 1.5 °C temperature goal, more efforts to mitigate global warming are therefore urgently needed to reduce the spread of aridification, as well as aridity-related impacts and risks in many highly populated areas and regions of ecological importance around the world.
New study shows glyphosate (‘Roundup’), not just neonicotinoids, is a major threat to world’s honey bee population, by Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams, Sept 25, 2018 While it has been widely established by the scientific community that the class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids (or neonics) have had devastating impacts on honey bees and other pollinators, new research shows that Monsanto’s glyphosate—the world’s most widely used chemical weed-killer—is also extremely harmful to the health of bees and their ability to fend off disease…
* Monsanto ordered to pay $289M US in California lawsuit over glyphosate (Roundup) cancer claims, by Reuters, Aug 10, 2018 … The case of school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was the first lawsuit to go to trial alleging glyphosate causes cancer. Monsanto faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the United States. Monsanto is a unit of Germany’s Bayer AG conglomerate following a $62.5 billion acquisition in early 2018. The company commands more than a quarter of the combined world market for seeds and pesticides…
* One man’s suffering exposed Monsanto’s secrets to the world, commentary by book author Carey Gillam, published in The Guardian, Aug 11, 2018 (Carey Gillam is the author of Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science, published in 2017 by Island Press, 304 pp. Book review by Joan Baxter, October 2017, here. More on Monsanto by Carey Gillam and other writers is here on the website of U.S. Right To Know.)
* Study finds cancer-causing weedkiller glyphosate (Roundup) in popular oatmeal, cereals and snack bars, by Julia Conley, staff writer, Common Dreams, Aug 15, 2018
Industrial farming is driving the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth, says academic Raj Patel, by Ian Johnston, The Independent (Britain), Aug 23, 2018
India then the United States are the top-two countries in which the costs of global warming will be the highest, by Stacy Morford, Inside Climate News, Sept 24, 2018
Planting the Anthropocene’s roots in globalization, book review by Wolfgang Lucht, published in Nature, June 9, 2018 Did the contested epoch begin in the seventeenth century? Wolfgang Lucht parses a book on the evidence. Reviewing: The Human Planet: How We Created the Anthropocene, by Simon L. Lewis and Mark A. Maslin, published by Penguin (Pelican Books), 2018, 480 pp, ISBN: 9780241280881
The IPCC’s political fix on 1.5°C will undermine its credibility, by David Spratt, Climate Code Red, Sept 19, 2018 (David Spratt is Research Coordinator for the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration in Melbourne. Climate Code Red website was prompted by the 2008 book Climate Code Red: The case for emergency action, by Philip Sutton and David Spratt. ) The forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on 1.5°C will suggest a significant “carbon budget” for the 1.5°C climate warming target, in a political fix that will further undermine the organisation’s credibility. The report will use unwisely low assumptions about the Earth’s climate sensitivity to pull a rabbit out of a hat: a carbon budget that from any sensible risk-management perspective simply does not exist. The political effect will be to say that the climate crisis is less bad than it is, and that we can “allow” more fossil fuel emissions…
In North Carolina, losses of nearly two million chickens and 26 flooded lagoons reported, by H. Claire Brown, New Food Economy, Sept 18, 2018 (updates on the aftermath of Hurricane Florence are here on CNN)
* In Florence’s floodwater: Sewage, coal ash and hog waste lagoon spills, by James Bruggers, Inside Climate News, Sept 18, 2018
* Lagoons of pig waste are overflowing after Hurricane Florence, by Kendra Pierre-Louis, New York Times, Sept 19, 2018 …At least 77 lagoons in the state have either released pig waste into the environment or are at imminent risk of doing so, according to data issued Tuesday by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. That tally more than doubled from the day before, when the department’s count was 34…
* Flooding from Hurricane Florence threatens to overwhelm pig manure lagoons in the Carolinas, by Charles Bethea, The New Yorker Daily Bulletin, Sept 16, 2018
* Swollen rivers swamp ash dumps, hog farms in North Carolina, The Associated Press, Sept 15, 2018
Underwater yet again, the Carolinas face a new reality, by Jack Healy, Richard Fausset and Campbell Robertson, The New York Times, Sept 18, 2018
Puerto Rico has not recovered from Hurricane Maria, by Lauren Lluveras, (University of Texas), The Conversation, Sept 18, 2018
* How Puerto Rico became the newest tax haven for the super rich, GQ Magazine, Sept 17, 2018
* Four takeaways on Puerto Rico’s death toll in the wake of Trump’s tweet storm denial, Kaiser Health News, Sept 14, 2018
* Puerto Rico government quietly changes Congressional report to admit at least 1,400 dead from Hurricane Maria, 20 times the ‘official’ count, New York Daily News, Aug 10, 2018
Paris conundrum: How to know how much carbon is being emitted?, by Fred Peace, Yale Environment 360, Sept 10, 2018
The atomic genie: Nuclear power and the hard choices that may cost the planet, by Richard Seymour, published on his blog on Patreon website publisher, Sept 12, 2018 …Why is it so hard to figure out the carbon cost of nuclear energy? To the combination of perverse incentives, interests and ideology, one has to factor in difficulties that are intrinsic to the terrain…
The troubling future of hurricane damage and what society is learning, or not, commentary by Glenn McGillivray, executive director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (Ontario, Canada), published in the Globe and Mail, Sept 16, 2018
* Hurricane Florence is a warning of what’s to come, by Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone, Sept 12, 2018
* Reports on Hurricane Florence, by Andrew Freedman, science editor, Axios Magazine, Sept 10 to 16, 2018 Latest report, Sept 16: … Historic rainfall continues to wreak havoc in the Carolinas, where all-time rainfall records have already been broken. A swath of land between Wilmington and New Bern, North Carolina, is closing in on 40 inches of rainfall, as the heaviest rains begin to shift into a new, treacherous area: the Blue Ridge Mountains…
* Nuclear plants, toxic waste sites threatened as Hurricane Florence bears down on Carolina coast, by Jon Queally, Common Dreams, Sept 12, 2018
* In Hurricane Florence’s path: Giant toxic coal ash piles, by James Bruggers, Inside Cliamte News,Sept 12, 2018 The toxic waste from coal-burning power plants contains arsenic and heavy metals. Days of torrential rain and flooding could weaken and collapse the impoundments.
* North Carolina politicians have decried the climate-change science that makes Hurricane Florence so dangerous, by Will Bunch, Philadelphia Inquirer, Sept 11, 2018
* North Carolina didn’t like science on sea levels … so passed a law against it, by Eric Durkin, The Guardian, Sept 12, 2018 In 2012, the state whose low-lying coast lies in the path of Hurricane Florence reacted to a prediction of catastrophically rising seas by banning policies based on such forecasts
Independent inquiry will probe ‘Muskrat Falls’ hydroelectric project that finished billions of dollars over budget and will double electricity rates in Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, CBC News, Sept 17, 2018 [Next up: 1. British Columbia’s ‘Site C’ dam that will power Alberta tar sands, costing $10 billion and counting. 2. Manitoba’s ‘Keeyask’ dam (and here) also over budget by billions; Manitoba Hydro wants eight per cent electricity rate increases per year until at least 2024 to pay for this and other megaprojects. ‘Clean energy’, indeed!]
2018 wildfire season in British Columbia smashes record year of 2017. British Columbia Wildfire Service reports that as of September 16, 2018, 1.35 million hectares (3.3 million acres, or 5,000 sq miles) of forest and grassland have burned in BC, setting a new annual record for the province. The previous record was 1.2 million hectares, in 2017. That year’s record beat by a long shot the previous record of 855,000 hectares, in 1958. Together, the past two years have seen some 2.5 per cent of the entire territory of the province burn. Also setting a record in 2018 is the number of wildfires–2,065. Recent rains have all but ended the 2018 fire season. The current wildfire map for British Columbia is here.
Related: The future looks grim after two record years of devastating B.C. wildfires, CBC News, Aug 28, 2018 Scientists say climate change models need to be revised after back-to-back summers of wildfire emergencies. According to Chilliwack fire ecologist Robert Gray, the scale of the wildfire emergencies we’ve lived through in 2017 and 2018 wasn’t expected for decades. “What we thought was going to be an average condition in 2050, we’re starting to see those conditions coming a lot sooner,” Gray told CBC. “There’s been a lot of discussion in the scientific community about really changing what we think the future is going to look like.” …
With or without the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, orca whales in oil tankers’ paths in Pacific northwest face perils from pollution, noise and starvation, by Justine Hunter, Globe and Mail, Sept 13, 2018
The problem with all the plastic that’s leaching into your food, by Julia Belluz and Radhika Viswanathan, VOX News, Sept 11, 2018
Big river, deep trouble: Can the mighty Mississippi’s crisis be averted?, by Leyland Cecco, Globe and Mail, Sept 12, 2018 For generations, Americans have transformed their most important waterway with feats of engineering – but now agricultural pollution, aging infrastructure, runaway development and the rising risk of floods are taking their toll [This report issues from the Upper Mississippi River Institute, which brought together writers from June 16 to 23, 2018. Go to the Institute weblink to find all the reports by the writers who took part.]
* The Rio Grande River is dying. Does anyone care?, by Richard Parker, New York Times, Sept 8, 2018 Drained by farmers and divided by treaty, The Rio Grande River is running dry. [The Rio Grande is the fourth-longest river in the United States, after the Missouri, Mississippi and Yukon rivers. Richard Parker is the author of “Lone Star Nation: How Texas Will Transform America.”] * Mighty Rio Grande River is now a trickle under siege, by Michael Wines, New York Times, April 15, 2015
Degrowth considered, book review and essay by Max Ajl, published in The Brooklyn Rail, Sept 4, 2018 Reviewing: In defense of degrowth, essays by Giorgos Kallis, Uneven Earth Press, January 2018, ISBN 978-9090306612. Purchase the paperback (US$16) or download the e-book by donation here. (Giorgos Kallis is a citizen of Greece and professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona. Max Ajl is a doctoral student in Development Sociology at Cornell University researching the Tunisian national liberation struggle and its aftermath.)
We won’t save the Earth with a better kind of disposable coffee cup, by George Monbiot, The Guardian, Sept 6, 2018
[In this opinion essay, the Guardian‘s anti-Russia columnist and zealot George Monbiot pictures well the expansion imperative of present-day society which is ruining the Earth’s biosphere. But he comes up short when it comes to a solution. He writes, “This means fighting corporate power, changing political outcomes and challenging the growth-based, world-consuming system we call capitalism.” This is the same language of ‘ecosocialism’, lacking any blueprint for a future, sustainable society or how to get there.]
U.S. lawyers claim to have ‘explosive’ documents about German (Bayer Corporation)-owned Monsanto’s activity in Europe, RT, Sept 7, 2018
Conservation groups in Canada file lawsuit to protect endangered orca whales, Canadian Press, Sept 5, 2018
Related: How the orca whale became the Achilles heel of Trans Mountain pipeline approval, CBC News, Aug 30, 2018
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, film review by Kevin Ritchie, NOW Magazine (Toronto), Sept 6, 2018 Reviewing: Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, 87-minute documentary film, by Jennifer Baichwal, Edward Burtynsky and Nicholas de Pencier, 87 minutes, 2018
Ecology newsroll headlines, August 2018
Protect birds by reining in cats, by Katherine Roth, Associated Press, Aug 21, 2018 ‘Domestic cats in the U.S. and Canada kill an estimated 2.4 billion birds per year.’
The predatory nature of modern tourism: How tourists are destroying the places they love, Der Spiegel, Aug 21, 2018
… The notion that tourists are foreign invaders who represent some kind of threat to the local population’s cultural identity broadly echoes the way refugees are viewed in large parts of Europe. But whereas hardship has driven the refugees from their homelands, the tourists are seeking to escape the boredom of everyday life.
… The travel industry is probably the most important economic sector in the world. It’s far larger than the oil industry or the automotive industry and has an estimated turnover of 7 trillion euros a year, about 10 percent of global economic output…
* Cities around the world struggling with too much tourism, by Christopher Hume, columnist, Toronto Star, Aug. 27, 2018
* Aircraft emissions account for some 2.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions (source: Drawdown).
* The key greenhouse gases and materials emitted by aircraft, in Climate Change Connection (Manitoba Eco-Network), April 2018:
Carbon dioxide (CO2) – Air travel produces almost as much carbon dioxide per passenger per kilometer as having a single occupant in a small car. However, instead of going to work or to the store for groceries, plane trips are hundreds or thousands of kilometers. A small car creates about 5 tonnes of CO2 a year. A plane trip to London and back generates about 1.4 tonnes of CO2, or more than 3 months driving – and that’s just the carbon dioxide.
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) and ozone – Nitrogen oxides are greenhouse gases and the NOx that planes produce also increase ozone concentrations. Increases in ozone in the upper troposphere are more effective at warming the planet than increases at lower altitudes.
Water vapour – Water vapor is a greenhouse gas. Most aircraft water vapour is released at lower altitudes where it’s removed by precipitation within 1 to 2 weeks but whatever is released in the stratosphere (above 10,000 metres) builds up.
Contrails and cirrus clouds – Those thin trails behind high flying aircraft tend to warm the Earth’s surface, especially at night.
Sulfate and soot aerosols – Soot tends to warm while sulfate tends to cool the Earth’s surface. Because aerosols influence the formation of clouds, their accumulation from aircraft plays a role in enhanced cloud formation and changes the properties of clouds.
The water crises aren’t coming: They’re here, by Alec Wilkinson, Esquire Magazine, Aug 23, 2018
Maps showing how the United States uses its land, in Bloomberg News, July 31, 2018
Project Life (Tarea Vida): Cuba’s action plan prepares for climate change, Granma (Cuba daily ), April 13, 2018
Related: Cuba embarks on a 100-year plan to protect itself from climate change, by Richard Stone, Science magazine, Jan. 10, 2018
Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project presented with ‘rescue plan’, by Vaughn Palmer, columnist, Vancouver Sun, Aug 31, 2018 Far from issuing a death warrant for the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the Federal Court of Appeal decision rendered on August 30 wrapped up a lengthy judgment with suggestions on how Ottawa could save the controversial project. Through more than 250 pages and almost 800 clauses, Justice Eleanor Dawson — who wrote the decision — weighed myriad objections raised by myriad opponents. Most she rejected…
[Corporate media reports on the proposed Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline expansion are full of doom and gloom, claiming the decision is a terrible blow to the fossil-fuel soaked economies of Canada and Alberta. In a print editorial published on September 1, the national daily Globe and Mail goes so far as to call the Trans Mountain expansion the “people’s pipeline”! But all this and more is nonsense. Yes, the court decision is a blow to an overarching feature of the Canadian economy, that being natural resource plunder–fossil fuels, minerals, trees, fish and arable land. The court decision will help to open the eyes of more Canadians to the destructive folly of such endeavour. Let us hope it leads the bulk of the citizenry to embrace the two socio-economic imperatives of our times–leave fossil fuels in the ground, and carry out a massive reduction/retrenchment of all the waste, excess and plunder characteristic of (expansionist) capitalism. IF these imperatives are implemented, humanity has a good chance at mitigating the worst of what capitalist-induced global warming has in store for the fate of human civilization.]
Engineering the climate could cost us the earth, by Gareth Dale, published in The Ecologist (UK), Aug 30, 2018 Geoengineering is a political technology, part of institutional apparatus that is preventing effective climate action and delaying structural change (Gareth Dale teaches politics at Brunel University in London.)
Severe weather may be transforming perceptions of climate change, commentary by Joe Curtin, Irish Times, Aug 30, 2018 Maybe we need to feel the sting before we can really fight global warming
Crop losses to pests will soar as climate warms, study warns, by Damian Carrington, environment editor, The Guardian, Aug 30, 2018 … The losses are likely to be underestimates as the scientists did not consider factors such as increased transmission of crop diseases carried by insects, or losses after harvest when the grain is stored. The research also did not assess the risk of population explosions of insects that can wipe out crops, due to the complexity of such events….The research, published in the journal Science, started with well-established knowledge about how rising temperature affects insects…
Related: Hotter climate means hungrier insects will munch millions more tons of crops, by Lin Taylor, published by Thomson Reuters Foundation, Aug 30, 2018 A warming planet will see larger swarms of hungrier insects chomp through millions more tons of rice, maize and wheat crops globally by 2050, even if countries meet ambitious climate goals to curb carbon emissions, scientists said on Thursday. For every one degree Celsius (1.8F) rise in average temperatures, insects will consume an extra 2.5 percent of the world’s rice, maize and wheat crops, researchers said. That means a 2-degree Celsius rise in surface temperature would see a total loss of 213 million tons of these staple crops – up from 166 million tons today – according to the study published in the journal Science…
Algae bloom in Lake Superior raises worries on climate change and tourism, by Christine Hauser, New York Times, Aug. 29, 2018
Take unprecedented action or bear the consequences, says eminent scientist and advisor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, by David Spratt and Ian Dunlop, Climate Code Red (Australia), Aug 20, 2018
“Climate change is now reaching the end-game, where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences.” Those are the challenging words from Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, for twenty years the head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research…
In the foreword to a new report, Schellnhuber says the issue now “is the very survival of our civilisation, where conventional means of analysis may become useless”. The report, What Lies Beneath: The Understatement of Existential Climate Risk, is released today by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration (Melbouorne, Australia)…
Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal quashes construction approvals for Trans Mountain Pipeline, leaving project in limbo, CBC News Aug 30, 2018. …The court found that the National Energy Board’s assessment of the project was so flawed that it should not have been relied on by the federal cabinet when it gave its final approval to proceed in November 2016. The certificate approving construction and operation of the project has been nullified, leaving the project hanging in a legal limbo until the energy regulator and the government reassess their approvals to satisfy the court’s demands. In effect, the court has halted construction of the 1,150-kilometre project indefinitely…
[Two issues underlay the Federal Court of Appeals decision: inadequate consideration of the environmental impact on ocean waters of greatly increased oil tanker traffic related to a Trans Mountain expansion (notably to the endangered Orca whale population), and inadequate consultation with First Nations peoples whose territories are affected by the pipeline and its marine export route. The Canadian government undertook purchase (nationalization) of the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline in May 2018 for $4.5 billion after Kinder Morgan Corporation announced it could not abide by the uncertainties surrounding regulatory approval of the project. The Canadian and Alberta governments say the pipeline expansion will be built come hell or high water, but while the federal government may seek appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, some analysts say it is not clear if the Court would accept to hear an appeal. The proposed Trans Mountain expansion appears to be a clear-cut case of government and industry negligence in failing to heed the court decisions that led to the cancellation in 2016 of a similar tar sands pipeline project, Northern Gateway.]
Related: Excerpts from the Federal Court of Appeal rejection of Trans Mountain bitumen pipeline approval, published in The Tyee, Aug 31, 2018
In India’s largest city, Mumbai, a ban on plastics faces big obstacles, by Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar, Yale Environment 360, Aug 28, 2018 Facing a scourge of plastic bags, the Indian state that includes Mumbai mandated a sweeping ban on plastic bags and other throwaway plastic items. But the chaos that followed shows the challenges of restricting a material so deeply embedded in the modern economy.
2018 wildfire season in British Columbia smashes record year of 2017. British Columbia Wildfire Service is reporting that to date in 2018 (August 29), 1.3 million hectares (3.2 million acres, or 5,000 sq miles) of forest and grassland have burned in BC, setting a new annual record for the province. The previous record was 1.2 million hectares, in 2017. That year’s record beat by a long shot the previous record of 855,000 hectares, in 1958. Also setting a record in 2018 is the number of wildfires–2,015 as of Aug 29. More bad news is the fact that the 2018 fire season is far from finished. The current wildfire map for British Columbia is here.
Related: The future looks grim after two record years of devastating B.C. wildfires, CBC News, Aug 28, 2018 Scientists say climate change models need to be revised after back-to-back summers of wildfire emergencies. According to Chilliwack fire ecologist Robert Gray, the scale of the wildfire emergencies we’ve lived through in 2017 and 2018 wasn’t expected for decades. “What we thought was going to be an average condition in 2050, we’re starting to see those conditions coming a lot sooner,” Gray told CBC. “There’s been a lot of discussion in the scientific community about really changing what we think the future is going to look like.” …
Miami will be underwater soon. Its drinking water could go first, blengthy essay by Christopher Flavelle, in ‘Climate Changed’ feature of Bloomberg News, Aug 28, 2018 (with maps and charts)
Related: The flood is coming, by Ben Santer, published on Scientific American blog, Aug 28, 2018 Keeping citizens safe is an essential responsibility of government, but when it comes to the dangers of climate change, the Trump administration just doesn’t care
City centers are sweltering. Trees could bring back some of their cool, by James Bruggers, Inside Climate News, Aug 28, 2018 Louisville, Kentucky has one of the fastest-growing urban heat islands in the country. Planting more trees and nurturing them could help, but the city wasn’t built for that and trees struggle to survive.
Why coal power is Merkel’s biggest climate challenge, by Brian Parkin and William Wilkes, in ‘Climate Changed’ feature of Bloomberg News, Aug 28, 2018
The tar sands ban by South Portland, Maine is upheld in a ‘David vs. Goliath’ pipeline battle, by Sabrina Shankman, Inside Climate News, Aug 28, 2018
A federal judge has ruled that the coastal city of South Portland, Maine, did not violate the U.S. Constitution when it passed an ordinance that blocked a local pipeline company from bringing tar sands oil through its port. For the city of 25,000, the ruling was a surprise victory after years of fighting what felt like an impossible battle against some of the world’s biggest oil companies, which lined up to support the Portland Pipe Line Corporation (PPLC). Provided the ruling survives an appeal, it slams the door on a significant plan to ship tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, one of the most carbon-intensive fuels on the planet, to the East Coast for export to international markets…
* Supreme Court of Canada rejects appeal by Burnaby BC that municipality can oblige Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline project to respect its environmental guidelines, report by CBC News, Aug 23, 2018
* Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal will rule on August 30 on First Nations’ legal effort to block Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, CBC News, Aug 29, 2018
Scientists warn the UN of Earth’s demise if more sustainable economies are not created, by Nafeez Ahmed, in the ‘Motherboard’ feature of VICE News, Aug 27, 2018 [Contrary to the author’s claim and to the misleading headline of Vice News to the above article (‘Scientists warn the UN of capitalism’s imminent demise’) the four Finnish authors of the new, eyeopening report (Governance of Economic Transition, Aug 14, 2018) nowhere claim the demise or even fault of ‘capitalism’. Rather, they propose ” ‘a Keynesian world with planetary boundaries’: unique, autonomous economies and societies engaging in regulated international trade for specific reasons, such as food security, rather than for the sake of free trade as a principle.”
Climate change is making food less nutritious, by H Claire Brown, New Food Economy, Aug 27, 2018 A new study released on August 27 in the journal Nature shows nutrient decline in crops that mean by 2050, an additional 175 million people worldwide will be deficient in zinc and 122 million more won’t be eating enough protein.
Climate change report: California to see 77 per cent more land burned, by Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 27, 2018 …California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, released August 27 by the governor’s office with other state agencies, portrays a multiheaded threat that promises more wildfires at the same time that higher seas overrun beaches, less water fills state reservoirs and drier weather shrivels Central Valley crops.
* Warning of more extreme wildfires and coastal floods, new report details ‘apocalyptic threat’ to California by climate crisis, by Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams, Aug 27, 2018
* British Columbia’s wildfire season now 2nd-worst on record — behind only last year, CBC News, Aug 26, 2018 More than 970,000 hectares have burned since April 1, 2018 in a new record number of 1,997 fires. Nearly 5,000 people have been forced from their homes due to wildfire as of August 23 while another 22,000 were under evacuation alerts.
Climate change is making food less nutritious, by H Claire Brown, New Food Economy, Aug 27, 2018 A new study released on August 27 in the journal Nature shows nutrient decline in crops that mean by 2050, an additional 175 million people worldwide will be deficient in zinc and 122 million more won’t be eating enough protein.
Alberta government comforts oilpatch during school curriculum makeover, by Matthew McClure, The National Observer, Aug 23, 2018 …Alberta’s ruling New Democrats are reassuring the oil and gas industry that a revamped science curriculum won’t portray them negatively, even as they move to ensure students learn that climate change is real. … Teachers in Canada are bound by the provincial curriculum, but the amount of time they allocate to climate change and the manner in which they teach it is subjective, according to a pair of Alberta educators. The crunch for time meant the topic got as little as six days in some Grade 9 and 10 science courses…
Is nuclear power a solution to the climate crisis?, by Don Fitz, Green Social Thought, Aug 24, 2018
Trouble from the deep as scientists examine changes to Atlantic Ocean currents, by Michael Marshall, published in New Scientist (weekly), print edition of Aug 4, 2018 Swathes of the northern hemisphere are smashing temperature records. Could it be because we’ve broken the ocean currents that stabilise our weather? Read the article here in pdf format: Changes to Atlantic Ocean currents
Our buildings make heatwaves worse – here’s how to cool them down, by Michael Le Page, published in New Scientist (weekly), print edition of Aug 4, 2018 Many buildings in cool countries are poorly designed to cope with heat, and new homes and offices are even worse. Thousands will die if we don’t fix them Read the article here in pdf format: Buildings in a warming world
The world’s disappearing sands, book review by Stuart Derdeyn, Vancouver Sun, Aug 18, 2018 (and reviewed in Red Dirt Report (Oklahoma), May 31, 2018) Reviewing: The World in a Grain, by Vince Beiser, Riverhead Books, 2018 The fossil fuel (fracking) and construction industries are eating up the world’s supply of sand
* The coming concrete crisis, commentary by Vince Beiser, The Globe and Mail, Aug 24, 2018 … Despite the vast damage it causes, we’ll need to keep ripping billions of tonnes of sand from the Earth to replace our failing concrete structures and to keep building new ones. That cycle can’t continue indefinitely – any more than we can continue indefinitely sucking oil out of the ground to fuel an ever-growing armada of automobiles. We’ve started to think twice about how much oil we can burn, how many forests we can cut down, how many fish we can harvest from the sea. It’s time to start thinking about how much concrete we can afford.
* Demand for fracking and concrete drives scarcity of sand, by Shelley Goldberg, Investopedia, July 5, 2018 Despite appearances, we are running out of sand. While that might seem farfetched – sand is seemingly everywhere – there is not only a thriving international trade in the commodity, but it’s the second-most heavily exploited natural resource after water and, by volume, the most heavily extracted solid material in the world…
* Fracking for fossil fuels has caused a surge in demand for one of the world’s oldest commodities, sand, by Jesse Snyder, Financial Post (Canada), June 2, 2017
* The world is facing a global sand crisis, by multiple authors, The Conversation, Sept 7, 2017
How energy companies and allies are turning the law against protesters, by Nicholas Kusnetz, Inside Climate News, Aug 22, 2018 In at least 31 states, lawmakers and governors have introduced bills and orders since Standing Rock that target protests, particularly opposition to pipelines. (A version of this report was published in The Washington Post.)
Related: Pipeline protest arrests raise questions about controversial Louisiana law, by Nicholas Kusnetz, Inside Climate News, Aug 24, 2018 The state enacted harsh new penalties this month for trespassing on pipeline property. The protesters say they were on public waters or private land when arrested.
Germany gives aid to drought-hit farmers after poor harvest, Associated Press, Aug 22, 2018 (and report by Reuters) The German Farmers Association had called for 1 billion euros in aid after its president said cereal crop harvests nationwide were down 25.6 percent compared with the average of the previous five years. A map of Europe’s drought conditions is here.
Berlin residents told to shut windows as forest fire smoke engulfs city, by Josie Le Blond, in Berlin, The Guardian, Aug 25, 2018 Firefighters battling blaze in Brandenburg are hampered by unexploded war munitions
Trump’s coal-friendly EPA rule decried as ‘sheer reckless folly’ and ‘all-out assault on our climate and communities’, by Jessica Corbett, staff writer, Common Dreams, Aug 21, 2018 Ahead of President Donald Trump’s Tuesday night rally in West Virginia, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled a highly anticipated new rule that would roll back restrictions targeting greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, and enable states to set their own standards.
* Five ways Trump’s clean power rollback strips away health and climate protections, by John Cushman Jr., Inside Climate News, Aug 21, 2018
… If the new plan survives legal challenges, it would fulfill a campaign pledge to abort the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. And in combination with the freezing of automotive emissions standards announced a few weeks ago, it would gut any attempt to achieve through federal regulations the goals of the Paris climate agreement, which the Trump administration has also renounced.
Given that the new rule does not challenge the finding that greenhouse gas pollution from coal-fired power plants causes global warming and endangers people and the planet, nor court rulings that the Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to bring it under control, the proposal is breathtaking in its embrace of apathy.
It would turn over to states the main responsibility of deciding how, or even whether, to reduce emissions, but it would allow them basically only one tool—encouraging power plants to make their use of coal more efficient, burning less fuel per kilowatt-hour of power sent to the grid. Any upgrades would be plant by plant and boiler by boiler.
In contrast, the Obama regulations, which were waylaid by litigation and never took effect, would have comprehensively reshaped the power grid itself and steered it away from coal, while giving the states broad leeway in the use of flexible, system-wide approaches to achieve the transition to cleaner energy—a process that was already underway…
* Two truths and a lie: Trump won’t save coal or slow clean energy with clean power plan rollback, by Mary Anne Hitt, Sierra Club, Aug 21, 2018 The Trump administration’s new, enfeebled policy doesn’t come close to meeting the legal threshold required of the EPA to create safeguards against carbon emissions
* Trump’s scheme to repeal Clean Power Plan means more kids with asthma, more early deaths, dirtier air, by Environmental Working Group, Aug 21, 2018 White House plan is ‘a disaster for public health and the climate’
* Yet another appeal for “green” capitalism: Reply to the Guardian’s economic editor, by Stan Cox, published on Green Social Thought, Aug 20, 2018 The Guardian recently published an opinion piece by its economics editor in which he argued that capitalism can rescue civilization from the global climate emergency. Stan Cox replies point by point.
Flood threat receding, India’s Kerala state now faces huge task of relief, rehabilitation, Gulf News (UAE), Aug 21, 2018 (and: Flood disaster in state of Kerala, India has killed 350, displaced 800,000, Associated Press, Aug 19, 2018)
* Indian authorities worry about disease in flood-hit Kerala, Deutsche Welle, Aug 20, 2018 More than 400 people have died since the monsoon season began in Kerala
…Kerala was hit by extreme rainfall in May and then again this month, starting August 8. The severe floods swelled rivers and triggered landslides. Some 400 people have died, 220 in the last 12 days, and over a million have taken shelter in relief camps. …The reduction in rainfall has helped rescue workers to set about trying to retrieve any bodies. At least 1,000 people are still missing from five villages around Chengannur, one of the worst-hit districts.
* What caused the Kerala floods? Could we have done anything to prevent it?, by Kavya Narayanan, published in First Post (India), Aug 19, 2018
… The last rival to a flood of this scale and severity in Kerala was in 1924, where monsoons pelted the hapless state with 3,368 mm of rain. At the time, over 1,000 people are said to have lost their lives, not to mention an enormous toll on livestock. The 2,086 mm of rainfall this year is nowhere near as bad, but still 30 percent above the annual average. And the monsoon is far from over.
… Cities such as Kolkata, Mumbai, Dhaka and Karachi – home to nearly 50 million – are at a substantial risk of flood-related damage in the century to follow, the World Bank report warns.
* Kerala must learn lessons from 2004 tsunami relief work in neighbouring Tamil Nadu; task for rehab agencies is mammoth, by Srinivasa Prasad, published in First Post (India), Aug 20, 2018
* Kerala floods show why India must push the West to act, by The Financial Express (India), Aug 20, 2018 … The US and Russia, if their efforts continue at their current level, put the world at risk of the temperature shooting up by more than 4oC by 2100. Canada, China and Europe are doing better, but only marginally; there efforts are nowhere near adequate to contain temperature rise under 2oC.
Wildfires the cause of likely ‘irreversible’ permafrost thaw in Western Canada, by Bev Betkowski, published in Folio (University of Alberta), Aug 20, 2018 (Story also appears in the The Star Edmonton) Wildfires have caused nearly a quarter of all permafrost thaw—2,000 square kilometres—in Western Canada’s boreal peatlands over the past 30 years, according to a new University of Alberta study… The research, published in Nature Communications, showed that wildfires burning across northern peatlands in Alberta and the Northwest Territories triple the rate of abrupt permafrost thaw for up to 30 years after the fire…
Climate change made me do it: U.S. activists press the ‘necessity defense’, by Daniel Fisher, Forbes Magazine, Aug 2018
The modern automobile must die, by Emily Atkin, The New Republic, Aug 20, 2018 [This otherwise informative commentary fails to live up to its challenging headline. Instead, the article concludes with bromides about benefits that electric vehicles and increased public transit could bring. There is already a hint of that in the inclusion of the word ‘modern’ in the title. Does this imply that a world dominated by ‘post-modern’ automobiles would be an improvement? But nothing less that a world ‘without’ automobiles–and all the necessary changes to urban and rural landscapes and lifestyles that this would make possible–can avert the worst of what global warming will bring.]
Forest wildfires create more air advisory warnings and evacuation alerts in British Columbia, CBC News, Aug 18, 2018
- Vancouver region is entering its second week shrouded in forest fire smoke. The poor air quality index is at its highest rating. The highest rating is also in place in the BC interior towns and cities of Prince George, Kelowna, Kamloops, Castlegar, Quesnel and Williams Lake. Flight cancellations are hitting the airports in these interior cities and towns.
- British Columbia is facing its second, record-setting forest fire season in two years. 2018 is now the third-worst season for area burned and the highest year ever for numbers of fires, with 1,891 fires to date (compared to the 2017 total of 1,353 fires) . Area burned is 605,000 hectares. Statistics are listed on the website of the BC Wildfire Service.
- Residents of the Pacific northwest of Canada and the U.S. are beginning to face the prospect of every summer being shrouded in forest fire smoke.
Related news reports:
* Seattle pollution levels surge as forest fire smoke returns for at least four days, Seattle Times, Aug 19, 2018
* The Carr fire (become Mendocino Complex fire) in Redding, California moved faster than evacuation orders, leaving a deadly toll, by Joseph Cerna, LA Times, Aug 18, 2018 (The latest news about California’s wildfires is here in the San Francisco Chronicle.)
Wildfire: On the Front Lines with Station 8, by Heather Hansen, Mountaineers Books, 302 pp
Firestorm: How Wildfire Will Shape Our Future, by Edward Struzik, Island Press, 257 pp
Burning Planet: The Story of Fire Through Time, by Andrew C. Scott, Oxford University Press, 231 pp
[Included in the essay is a good treatment of how forest fire suppression in North America during the past century at the behest of the forest industry and other natural resource plunderers is amplifying today’s wildfire disasters.]
‘Hothouse Earth’ co-author Will Steffen says the problem is neoliberal economics, by Kate Aronoff, The Intercept, Aug 14, 2018
Related: Hothouse Earth, by Robert Hunziker, CounterPunch, Aug 17, 2018 There is a strong rationale for questioning the validity of climate models. Scientists frequently say how “surprised” they are at “how much faster things are happening than models predicted”. This happens way too often to find comfort in science models.
Robert Hunziker, from the above article: “Which begs the million-dollar question: What if 2C hits much sooner than the models expect? Then what? The answer is straightforward: The world turns into a hellhole much faster than the models predicted.”
Naomi Klein, in The Intercept, Aug 3, 2018: “Countries with a strong democratic socialist tradition — like Denmark, Sweden, and Uruguay — have some of the most visionary environmental policies in the world.”
Experts ‘gobsmacked’ by winter fires in New South Wales, Australian Associated Press, Aug 15, 2018 Scientists are “gobsmacked” that out-of-control bushfires are burning on the New South Wales south coast during winter, leading to a total fire ban across much of the state…
Related: Helping drought-stricken farmers in Australia requires recognising global warming and planning, by Elena Garcia, Green Left Weekly, Aug 10, 2018 (Elena Garcia manages marginal forest and grasslands with cattle and is a co-author of Sustainable Agriculture versus Corporate Greed.)
British Columbia declares state of emergency as hundreds of wildfires burn across province, CBC News, Aug 15, 2018 [Fires are burning all over the Canadian province of British Columbia this year, compared to 2017’s record year where fires were larger but were concentrated in a smaller number of areas. The fires are also not as large or as close to communities. One exception is the fire burning near Kimberley in southeast BC. The entire town of 5,000 is on evacuation notice due to a large, erratic wildfire nearby. This year’s fire season is now the third worst on record in British Columbia since 1950. As of August 17, fires have burned some 5,800 square kilometres, 70 per cent of that in northern B.C. The year 2017 set a forest fire record in British Columbia with more than 11,700 square kilometers (1.17 million hectares/452,000 square miles) burned. The previous record was in 1958 with 8,580 square kilometers burned.]
* Record cargo shipments by Port of Vancouver in 2018, including large increase in petroleum imports, by Derrick Penner, Vancouver Sun, Aug 17, 2018 Imports of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to the Vancouver region increased significantly over the first half of 2018, helping to pad record cargo volumes foir the period through the port of Vancouver, Canada’s largest.
* Clearcut logging in British Columbia’s Upper Skagit River watershed put on hold as Seattle voices ‘grave concern’, Seattle Times, Aug 16, 2018 [The Seattle region obtains some 30 per cent of its fresh water from the Skagit River system aloing the U.S.-Canada border. In 2002, the government of British Columbia granted a clearcut license to a forest plundering company which is now acting on the license. The long history of clearcut forest logging in North America continues to this day. The practice is a large contributor to rising wildfires but it remains a largely untold story due to the power of the forest industry in discouraging or blocking scientific study and less plunderous cutting practices.]
Indian scientist decries ‘man-made flood disaster’ that has killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands in Indian state of Kerala, Common Dreams, Aug 16, 2018 Monsoon flooding has killed 324 people and displaced some 223,000 in Kerala, a state in Southern India that borders the Arabian Sea
U.S. judge in Montana orders review of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline route, halting construction, Reuters, Aug 16, 2018
The hope of ecosocialism: Interview with John Bellamy Foster, by Jonas Elvander for the Swedish journal Flamman (The Flame) in Sweden, interview published in English on MR Online, Aug 13, 2018
[Two vital issues are absent from this comprehensive interview/analysis of the global warming emergency by John Bellamy Foster. One is the imperative to radically reduce (‘degrow’/ ‘retrench’) the wasteful and excessive production and consumption cycle of expansionist capitalism. The only mention of this is in this one sentence: “In terms of ecological footprints, we need a system of contraction and convergence: contraction in ecological footprints in the global North and convergence toward a sustainable ecological footprint globally, which means that there would still be room for development in the poor countries of the global South.”
[Two is discussion of political, class strategy in the transition to a sustainable world, that is, to socialism. By ‘strategy’ is meant the class alliances, economic policies and governmental forms that can guide the path to socialism. By ‘socialism’ is meant an economic transition, guided by political intervention, to a planned, social economy in which the means of sustenance are commonly owned and shared and serve to advance human social development. A vital element of ‘human social development’ is to live in harmony with the limited resources of the planet and with the other species with which we inhabit the planet. To coin a phrase popularized by John Bellamy Foster and his Monthly Review school of thought, socialism aims to restore the ‘metabolic rift’ engendered by capitalism which has taken human society beyond the ‘planetary boundaries’ setting the ecological limits of healthy human endeavour.
[The absence of the aforementioned two issues is characteristic of the doctrine of ecosocialism. A rare exception is an August 12 article calling on ecosocialists to advocate “deindustrialization”. But this article exposes another key failing of ecosocialism–silence on the imperative need to oppose war and militarism. Runaway capitalist expansionism is threatening the planet and the humans on three fronts–global warming, rising war and militarism, and rising social inequities.]
RCMP move in to break up peaceful, anti-Trans Mountain Piepline protest camp at Vancouver harbour, CBC News, Aug 16, 2018 Police have declared an ‘exclusion zone’ surrounding ‘Camp Cloud’ and are barring media from it
Related: Vancouver City council candidate Jean Swanson receives seven-day sentence for Kinder Morgan (Trans Mountain Pipeline) protest, by Behdad Mahichi, Vancouver Sun, Aug 15, 2018 Activist Jean Swanson, who is running for Vancouver city council, is among those being sentenced Wednesday morning [August 15] for a blockade of a Kinder Morgan facility [pipeline from Alberta to small refinery and export terminal at Burnaby BC (Vancouver region harbor) ].
Two high-profile Vancouverites were led off to jail on August 15, sentenced to seven days in jail for defying an injunction by protesting at a Kinder Morgan property in Burnaby on June 30 of this year. Jean Swanson, a candidate for Vancouver city council, and Susan Lambert, a former president of the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, were among seven people who appeared before Justice Kenneth Affleck of the B.C. Supreme Court. All seven pleaded guilty to contempt of court for blocking construction, were sentenced to seven days behind bars and were taken straight to jail.
Swanson, speaking outside court before the proceeding, said she was “dressed for shackles” and doesn’t fear jail time. “We’re just going to have to keep doing this to stop the pipeline, it’s insane.” …
Trump’s EPA is poisoning our children, by Herman Schwartz, The Nation, Aug 13, 2018 Rolling back environmental laws leaves kids vulnerable to lead, asbestos, insecticides, and other toxic pollutants.
* Trump keeps trying to kill the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board agency that investigates chemical plant disasters, by William G. Schulz, published in Reveal News (Center for Investigative Reporting), Aug 16, 2018
* Science, health leaders present evidence against EPA’s ‘secret science’ rule, by Marianne Lavelle, Inside Climate News, Aug 15, 2018 The Trump plan, pushed by fossil fuel supporters, could prevent the use of key health and pollution studies in policy making and jeopardize public safety.
Air pollution progress still undermined by Western wildfires, research report by Climate Central, Aug 15, 2018 Climate Central previously analyzed trends in PM2.5 concentrations for California’s Central Valley between 2000 and 2016. This report updates that analysis and extends it to three additional states — Idaho, Oregon, and Washington — all of which are also plagued by worsening wildfires in a warming world…
Related: Mendocino Complex Wildfire report (California), report in SF Gate, Wed, Aug 15, 2018 The Mendocino Complex Wildfire, made up of the Ranch and River fires, grew nearly 10,000 acres by Wednesday [August 15] to 363,845 acres (150,000 hectares)…
Another record forest fire year shaping up in British Columbia, from news reports, including report in Vancouver Sun, Aug 13, 2018
[For the second year in a row, August has brought skies filled with forest fire smoke to northwestern North America, including the cities of Vancouver BC, Seattle, Calgary and Edmonton. Public health authorities in both cities have issued respiratory health warnings.
[The British Columbia Wildfire Service has responded to 1,785 wildfires since April 1, 2018, higher than the 10-year average of 1,216 fires. But so far, less area has burned in 2018. “What we experienced last year was fewer fires, but they were large in scale,” said Ryan Turcot, fire information officer with the B.C. Wildfire Service. This year’s wildfires have burned about 2,920 square kilometres (292,000 hectares) to date, compared with 6,880 sq. km. burned by just over 1,000 wildfires at this time last year. The year 2017 set a forest fire record in British Columbia with more than 11,700 square kilometers (1.17 million hectares/452,000 square miles) burned. The previous record was in 1958 with 8,580 square kilometers burned.]
Background on record 2017 forest fires in BC and North America: Smoke over the skies of North America is another climate change warning, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, Aug 15, 2017 (with postcripts, as well as updates on Sept 16, 2017)
Sweltering cities: Six articles from the ‘Sweltering cities’ series in The Guardian:
* Rising heat and love of concrete in Delhi, India is causing a deadly water crisis, by Ashish Malhotra, The Guardian, Aug 16, 2018 Reports warn that Delhi, a megacity of 29 million people, could run out of groundwater by 2020. Has Delhi run out of time to reverse years of mismanagement and unchecked urbanisation?
* Sydney, Australia’s bushfire season starts in winter: ‘We may have to rethink how we live’, by Lisa Cox, The Guardian, Aug 15, 2018
* An inversion of nature: how air conditioning created the modern city, by Rowan Moore, Aug 14, 2018 The shopping mall, the office block, suburbs, museums, Hollywood, the Gulf cities – air conditioning powered them all. But has the time come to turn it off?
* ‘It can’t get much hotter … can it?’ How heat became a national US problem, , by Oliver Milman, in Philadelphia, The Guardian, Aug 14, 2018 Heat now kills more Americans than floods, hurricanes or other natural disasters – but cities are facing it almost entirely alone
* Which cities are liveable without air conditioning – and for how much longer?, by Nolan Gray and Antonio Voce, The Guardian, August 2018 (with extensive maps) Mapping the world’s cities where you can live comfortably without heating or air conditioning reveals how few boast such ideal climates – and how global warming may further narrow the field
* Heat: the next big inequality issue, by Amy Fleming with Ruth Michaelson and Adham Youssef in Cairo, Oliver Holmes in Jerusalem, Carmela Fonbuena in Manila, and Holly Robertson in Phnom Penh, The Guardian, Aug 13, 2018 The deadly global heatwave has made it impossible to ignore: in cities worldwide, we are now divided into the cool haves and the hot have-nots
The Little Ice Age and Europe’s encounter with North America, book review by Malcolm Gaskill, published in London Review of Books, print issue of July 19, 2018 Reviewing: A Cold Welcome: The Little Ice Age and Europe’s Encounter with North America, by Sam White, published by Harvard U Press, Oct 2017, 361 pp, ISBN 978 0 674 97192 9. Read the review here in pdf format: What humans can learn from The Little Ice Age
[In this essay, writer Malcolm Gaskill challenges the view that societal disorders or breakdowns attributed to the cooler temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere during the ebbs and flows of the ‘Little Ice Age’ (app 1300 to 1850, see ‘The Little Ice Age’, in Wikipedia) were not due to climate alone. Human intervention worsened or ameliorated the naturally occurring conditions. The lesson for today’s warming world is that if humans organize themselves politically, human intervention can lessen the worst of what rampant, capitalist industrialization and expansionism otherwise has in store for human civilization. Gaskill terms the consequences of global warming “the impending nightmare”. — A Socialist In Canada, Aug 13, 2018.]
Climate change in the Anthropocene: An unstoppable drive to Hothouse Earth?, essay by Ian Angus, published on Climate and Capitalism, Aug 12, 2018 Reviewing: Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene, scientific paper by Will Steffen et al, published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 6, 2018 Scientific papers don’t often make front page news, but this one certainly did…
[Nearly simultaneous to the publication of this scientific paper is the book-length essay by Nathaniel Rich published in the New York Times Magazine on August 1. Rich’s essay, Losing Earth: The decade we almost stopped climate change, blames “human nature” for the world’s failure to curb rapacious, industrial capitalism and its climate-wrecking greenhouse gas emissions during the 1980s. Rich argues that the world lost an opportunity during the 1980s to slow and eventually reverse greenhouse gas-induced global warming. See this related essay: Naomi Klein bares the limitations of her liberal environmentalism, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, Aug 4, 2018.]
Toronto infrastructure overwhelmed by two-hour rainstorm, by Tamar Harris, Gilbert Ngabo and Jennifer Pagliaro, Toronto Star, Aug. 8, 2018 The storm dropped 72 millimeters of rain, short of the record 97 mm that fell in July 2013 [126 mm at Toronto airport, more than the previous record 121 mm that Hurricane Hazel dropped in Oct 1954]
… Toronto’s infrastructure was not designed to handle weather events like Tuesday’s storm, said urban planner Ken Greenberg. “When you have 60, 70 or 80 millimetres of rain in two hours, it simply overwhelms not only the sewers but also affects the skin of buildings, elevators and underpasses.”
As the city grows, more surfaces become concrete and impermeable, he said. That pushes stormwater into sewer systems rather than being gradually absorbed into the ground. As events like Tuesday’s storm become more frequent, “it’s dawning on us” that existing city standards did not anticipate the level of stress that climate change is bringing, he said, adding that it’s “maddening” to see the reluctance of elected officials, who still don’t want to take climate change seriously…
* August 7 flash flooding creates sickening mess in Toronto Harbour, water-monitoring group says, by Gilbert Ngabo, Toronto Star, Aug. 9, 2018 Tuesday’s rare flash flood spilled a huge amount of raw sewage into Lake Ontario, leaving a repulsive, potentially sickening mess the Star saw first-hand on Thursday…
* Deadly heat, wildfires, heavy rain point to global warming say experts, by Donovan Vincent, Toronto Star, Aug. 8, 2018
* Destructive flood risk in U.S. West could triple if climate change left unchecked, by Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News, Aug 6, 2018 Rocky Mountain and Sierra Nevada communities are at risk from rapidly rising rivers, as ‘rain-on-snow’ flash floods become more frequent under climate change
* Australian rain proves fiercer than expected, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, Aug 8, 2018 Australian rain across much of the country is reaching an unexpected ferocity, and scientists who predicted a greater number of ever more intense rainstorms as the planet warms may have to think again – and think big. A new study says the rate of rainfall in Australia during thunderstorms is in fact increasing twice or even three times beyond expectation, and much faster than would be expected with global warming. The largest downpours arrive with the most extreme events…
* Rivers in the sky: How deforestation is affecting global water cycles, by Fred Pearce, published in Yale Environment 360, July 24, 2018 A growing body of evidence indicates that the continuing destruction of tropical forests is disrupting the movement of water in the atmosphere, causing major shifts in precipitation that could lead to drought in key agricultural areas in China, India, and the U.S. Midwest.
Climate change denialists never had it so good. So why the angst?, by Marianne Lavelle, Inside Climate News, Aug 8, 2018 When climate science deniers and fossil fuel evangelists met on August 6 in New Orleans for the Heartland Institute’s second ‘America First’ conference on U.S. energy, they had every reason to celebrate the unprecedented influence they enjoy in the Trump administration. Instead, they found plenty of reasons for dread. With carbon tax proposals floating, climate lawsuits advancing, big corporations embracing the need for action and states and cities getting into the act, many of those gathered grappled with the reality that a fossil future was not secure—despite a largely pliant White House and Congress…
British Columbia’s giveaway of natural gas fuels Alberta’s tar sands, by Ben Parfitt, The Tyee, Aug 8, 2018 BC gov’t subsidies and lax rules provide the vital resource that keeps the Alberta bitumen flowing (Ben Parfitt is a resource policy analyst with the B.C. Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. His recent research for the CCPA is published here.)
Kinder Morgan just told its shareholders how it persuaded the Trudeau government to pay billions for a pipeline no one else wanted to buy, investigative report by Mike De Souza, National Observer, Aug 8, 2018
California is fighting its biggest ever wildfire, Reuters, Aug 7, 2018 A Northern California wildfire became the biggest in state history on August 7, eclipsing a previous record set only eight months ago, as hot, windy conditions fanned 17 blazes in what Governor Jerry Brown has called California’s “new normal”. The Mendocino Complex, made up of two fires, grew to 117,639 hectares — nearly the size of Los Angeles — and was expected to burn for the rest of the month, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said. The Mendocino Complex has surpassed the Thomas Fire, which burned 114,078 hectares in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in southern California last December and destroyed more than 1,000 structures…
Domino-effect of climate events could move Earth into a ‘hothouse’ state, by Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, Aug 7, 2018 Leading scientists warn that passing such a point would make efforts to reduce emissions increasingly futile … The authors of the essay, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, stress their analysis is not conclusive, but warn the Paris commitment to keep warming at 2C above pre-industrial levels may not be enough to “park” the planet’s climate at a stable temperature…
* Hothouse Earth could soon be unavoidable by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, Aug 7, 2018
* A ‘hothouse’ future for humanity: Scientists behind terrifying climate analysis hope they are wrong, by Jon Queally, staff writer, Common Dreams, Aug 7, 2018 … In an interview with the BBC, Johan Rockström, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre where the research was done, added, “What we are saying is that when we reach 2 degrees of warming, we may be at a point where we hand over the control mechanism to Planet Earth herself. We are the ones in control right now, but once we go past 2 degrees, we see that the Earth system tips over from being a friend to a foe. We totally hand over our fate to an Earth system that starts rolling out of equilibrium.”
* Global warming may become unstoppable even if we stick to Paris target, by Michael Le Page, New Scientist, Aug 6, 2018 (Read it here in pdf format: Global warming may become unstoppable)
* Earth at risk of heading towards ‘hothouse Earth’ state, report in Science Daily, Aug 6, 2018
Naomi Klein bares the limitations of her liberal environmentalism, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, Aug 4, 2018
How militarism and war are neglected and ignored by the environmental movement, commentary by Stacy Bannerman, published in Common Dreams, July 31, 2018 (Stacy Bannerman is the author of Homefront 911: How Families of Veterans Are Wounded by Our Wars (2015) and When the War Came Home (2006).) [In this very timely and pointed commentary, the author does overlook one of the worst consequences of rising imperialist war and militarism: how it fractures and disempowers civil society.]
Can countries divesting from fossil fuels halt climate change? The case of Ireland, by Michael Le Page, New Scientist, print issue of July 21, 2018 (Read it here in pdf format: Fossil fuel divestment)
Australia suffers second driest autumn ever, ABC.net.au, Aug 5, 2018
California wildfires claim seventh victim, still spreading, Reuters, Aug 5, 2018 (and report by Associated Press, Aug 5, 2018) [According to Cal Fire, more than 14,000 personnel are on the lines of 17 large blazes across California on Saturday. So far, the fires since June have killed 8, burned close to 500,000 acres (200,000 hectares) and damaged or destroyed over 2,000 structures.]
Could removing Europe’s dams revive its rivers?, by Leonard Proske, Deutsche Welle (Germany), Aug 4, 2018 An NGO is calling for tens of thousands of dams across Europe to be dismantled for the sake of the environment. Why is this massive undertaking needed, and how feasible would it be?
Sixty per cent of Europe’s surface waters are in poor environmental condition, according to the latest water quality report for the continent from the European Environment Agency.
The nongovernmental organization Dam Removal Europe directly attributes this to the roughly 30,000 dams blocking the continent’s rivers and waterways. The NGO argues that the structures not only harm the environment, but that they are expensive to maintain, which is why its calling for their removal. According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the World Fish Migration Foundation, fewer than one per cent of the rivers in Europe now flow freely…
New EPA chief makes clear the easing of environmental rules will continue, by Georgina Gustin, Inside Climate News, Aug 2, 2018 Andrew Wheeler, a former energy industry lobbyist, said he will continue the deregulatory course set by Scott Pruitt but without the scandals that plagued his predecessor.
* Trump’s auto fuel efficiency rollback: Losing the climate fight, one mpg at a time, by Marianne Lavelle, Inside Climate News, Aug 2, 2018
* Trump moves to scrap Obama-era auto fuel economy rules, Bloomberg News, Aug 2, 2018
* Big Oil cheers, quietly, as Trump moves to ease auto fuel economy standards, Bloomberg News, Aug 3, 2018 … The Trump administration’s proposal, released on August 2, would translate into an additional 500,000 barrels of U.S. oil demand per day by the early 2030s, about 2 to 3 percent of projected consumption, according to government calculations…
* Chokehold: The fossil fuel industry’s fight against climate policy, science and clean energy, special seven-part series published in 2017 on Inside Climate News This seven-part investigation published in 2017 chronicles the fossil fuel industry’s fight against climate policy, science and clean energy—and the ordinary Americans who happen to be in its way.
Heatwave warning: Hot air from south brings scorching heat, dust to Europe as experts predict hottest day ever with 48C temperature, from reports by AP and Reuters, Aug 3, 2018 Mediterranean countries have issued severe weather warnings as a heatwave pushed temperatures above 40C in Europe and falling water levels exposed World War Two munitions along the banks of a river in Germany. Hot air from Africa is bringing the heatwave to Europe, prompting health warnings about Sahara Desert dust and exceptionally high temperatures that are forecast to peak at 48 degrees Celsius in some southern areas… Heatwaves have become common in Italy. Between 2005 and 2016, some 23,880 people died in 23 Italian cities of heat-related problems, a report by the region of Lazio found…
* This summer’s heat waves could be the strongest climate signal yet, by Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News, July 28, 2018 ‘In many places, people are preparing for the past or present climate. But this summer is the future.’
* Heatwaves show global warming is not just a future threat, editorial (‘leader’) in New Scientist, print issue of July 7, 2018 Read the editorial here in pdf format: Heatwaves show global warming is not just a future threat .. For years, climate researchers toed the official line that it was impossible to attribute any specific weather event to climate change in real time… That approach is rapidly changing, and it needs to…
Inside Tesla’s Fremont, California factory: Burning cash, and trying not to burn out, by Drew Harwell, The Washington Post, Aug 1, 2018 [Liberal environmentalists such as Robert Fanney of RobertScribbler website praise electric vehicles as the wave of the future for tackling global warming. There are many compelling reasons to dismiss the environmentalists’ claims, notably the urban sprawl, waste of precious natural and financial resources (including massive purchase subsidies provided by capitalist governments) and continued degradation of public transport which private automobiles–electric or fossil fuel-powered–promote. To that list can be the hellhole conditions of the production of these vehicles which this article in the Washington Post profiling the production of Tesla vehicles describes.]
Related: Tesla discloses worst quarterly loss ever. Where are the 17,000 ‘Model 3’ cars it ‘produced’ but didn’t ‘deliver’? by Wolf Richter, Wolf Street, Aug 1, 2018 Tesla never ceases to astound with its hype and promises and with its results that are just mindboggling, including today when it reported its Q2 “earnings” – meaning a net loss of $718 million, its largest net loss ever in its loss-drenched history spanning over a decade. It was more than double its record loss a year ago…
Losing Earth: The decade we almost stopped climate change, essay by Nathaniel Rich, with photos and video by George Steinmetz, in New York Times Magazine, Aug 1, 2018
Excerpt from the introduction:
… The world has warmed more than one degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution. The Paris climate agreement — the nonbinding, unenforceable and already unheeded treaty signed on Earth Day in 2016 — hoped to restrict warming to two degrees. The odds of succeeding, according to a recent study based on current emissions trends, are one in 20. If by miracle we are able to limit warming to two degrees, we will only have to negotiate the extinction of the world’s tropical reefs, sea-level rise of several meters and the abandonment of the Persian Gulf…
Is it a comfort or a curse, the knowledge that we could have avoided all this? Because in the decade that ran from 1979 to 1989, we had an excellent opportunity to solve the climate crisis…
[The essay asks the question: ‘Why didn’t we act? [during the decade of the 1980s]?’ No answer is provided until the end of the essay, where it comes in the form of the lame ‘human nature is to blame’.]
‘It just goes on and on’: New wildfires erupt in scorched northern California, CBS News, Aug 1, 2018
Related: As California burns, Nobel Peace laureates call on Governor Brown to phase out fossil fuel production, by Hannah McKinnon, Oil Change International, July 31, 2018 Like many self-identified ‘climate leaders’, California is dangerously ignoring the reality that in order to meaningfully tackle climate change we have to address fossil fuel production
Future heatwaves in China may make areas of the country uninhabitable, press release by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, July 31, 2018 A region of the world that holds one of the biggest concentrations of people on Earth could be pushing against the boundaries of habitability by the latter part of this century, a new study in Nature Communications shows…
Ecology and socialism: Interview with Victor Wallis, broadcast on ‘Clearing The Fog’ podcast, with hosts Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, June 26, 2018 (30 minute interview, begins at 23′ mark) [Victor Wallis is the author of Red-Green Revolution: The Politics and Technology of Ecosocialism, published in June 2018, 222 pp. In this interview, Wallis voices the outlook of ecosocialist doctrine, speaking abstractly of ‘socialism’ as an alternative to capitalism’s destruction of the natural environment but making no mention of the necessity and the imperative of degrowth–the radical reduction of all the waste and excess characteristic of expansionist capitalism. To his credit, Wallis and his book depart from ecosocialism by arguing that opposition to war and imperialism must be central to the political strategy of an environmental movement.]
Fossil fuels on trial: Where the major climate change lawsuits stand today, by David Hasemyer, Inside Climate News, July 30, 2018
Time is running out in the tropics: Researchers warn of global biodiversity collapse, press release by the University of Lancaster (UK), July 25, 2018
Related: Era of ‘biological annihilation’ is underway, scientists warn, by Tatiana Schlossberg, New York Times, July 11, 2017 Read it here in pdf format: Era of ‘biological annihilation’ is underway .
Heatwaves show global warming is not just a future threat, editorial (‘leader’) in New Scientist, print issue of July 7, 2018 Read the editorial here in pdf format: Heatwaves show global warming is not just a future threat .. For years, climate researchers toed the official line that it was impossible to attribute any specific weather event to climate change in real time… That approach is rapidly changing, and it needs to…
Austerity and rampant urban expansion fueled Greece’s deadly fires, by Yanis Varoufakis, published in Project Syndicate and other mainstream news outlets, July 26, 2018 (and see news reports below, dated July 24) The deadly fires in Greece on the Attica peninsula July 23, 24 reflect the vulnerability caused by decades of irresponsible, unregulated development. Still, over the course of the last ten years, Greece has lost many more people to the austerity tragedy caused by the EU establishment than to any flood or wildfire.
… The EU played no role in helping us fight the flames, a task not in its remit, and it cannot be held responsible for the fires or for 70 years of Greek society’s abuse of the natural environment. But it is unquestionable that over the past decade the Troika of Greece’s official creditors – the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund – has actively deprived the Greek state of the resources and capabilities it needs in such situations…
* Greek firefighters join public outcry at ‘woeful’ response to lethal wildfires, by Helena Smith, The Guardian, July 28, 2018 [As of July 28, 2018, the death toll from the fires is 88 people.] * The Greek fires: A catastrophe fueled by austerity, by Kevin Ovenden, published in Counterfire, July 26, 2018
Ted Nordhaus is wrong: We are exceeding Earth’s carrying capacity, by Richard Heinberg, Undark Magazine, July 26, 2018 The co-founder of the Breakthrough Institute has a cheery vision of the future. If only that vision were plausible.
To freeze the Thames: Natural geo-engineering and biodiversity, essay by Troy Vettese, published in New Left Review, print issue of May-June 2018 (Read the essay here in pdf format: Troy Vettese, To Freeze the Thames, NLR 111, May–June 2018. The essay is part of a series in New Left Review asking ‘Is advanced-industrial capitalism capable of finding solutions for the environmental devastation it causes?‘ To subscribe to New Left Review (monthly), click here.)
Kink in the jet stream and climate change spur extreme weather, by Brian Sullivan and Eric Roston, Bloomberg News, July 25, 2018
… Temperature records were shattered in Japan when readings reached 106 degrees Fahrenheit (41 Celsius). Waco, Texas, hit an all-time high of 114 while Finnish Lapland touched a new mark. “The situation in Scandinavia has been “pretty mind boggling,” with the Baltic Sea water rising to 15 degrees above average and Lapland north of the Arctic Circle reaching the 90s,” says Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Earlier in July, Ouargla, Algeria hit 124.3 degrees, which is the highest temperature recorded in Africa, said Kevin Trenberth, distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. California and the U.S. Southwest have also had a string of temperatures at or near 120 this July.
* Why is Europe going through a heatwave?, by Adam Vaughn, The Guardian, July 24, 2018 Scientists say this ‘extreme’ weather in the northern hemisphere may soon be the norm
* Warming Arctic could be behind heatwave sweeping northern hemisphere, by Andy Coghlan, New Scientist, July 24, 2018
* Raging Northern California wildfire turns deadly, forces mass evacuations, CBS News, July 27, 2018 An explosive wildfire tore through two small Northern California communities on July 26 before reaching the city of Redding [population 90,000], killing a bulldozer operator on the fire lines, burning at least three firefighters, destroying dozens of homes and forcing thousands of terrified residents to flee… [The fire has grown to 45 square miles (12,000 hectares).]
The superbugs are winning, by Jerome Groopman, book review in New York Review of Books, print issue of June 28, 2018 Reviewing: Superbugs: An Arms Race Against Bacteria, by William Hall, Anthony McDonnell and Jim O’Neill, Harvard University Press, 246 pp
… Superbugs only briefly reviews the science of bacterial resistance; its focus is on the societal consequences. While there are no exact data on the total number of people dying each year from resistant microbes, the authors calculate it to be at least 1.5 million. This number outstrips deaths from road accidents (1.2 million) and approximates the number of deaths from diabetes (1.5 million).
… Our environment is becoming contaminated with antibiotics and their residues in several ways. The first is a result of body waste—from both animals and humans. [Other factors are the total absence of filtering of antibiotics from waste water and poor quality standards in the production of antibiotics.]
The U.S. and Canada are preparing for a new Standing Rock over the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, by Alleen Brown and Will Parrish, The Intercept, July 17, 2018
Greece in mourning as horrifying wildfires kill at least 79, report by Euractiv.com and AFP, July 24, 2018 At least 79 people were killed and some 200 more injured by wildfires on Greece’s coastline on July 23 and 24 … Critics say that the EU is to blame for the tragedy, as the austerity package imposed on Greece required cuts in the budget of its fire services…
* Intense heat wave to build across western Europe as deadly wildfires rage in Sweden, Greece, report by Accuweather, July 24, 2018
* Germany braces for sweltering temperatures in Europe-wide heat wave, Deutsche Welle, July 25, 2018 The heat wave has shut down Hanover airport, damaged roads and devastated crops, with higher temperatures still to come. In AC-starved Germany, experts are warning people heed the heat and even go home early from work.
* Forest fires devastate western Latvia, Deutsche Welle, July 25, 2018 … In Poland, more than 91,000 farms were affected by the drought, according to the agriculture ministry, pushing the government to seek financial aid from the EU… Agricultural producers in Germany have warned of a harvest reduction between 20 and 50 percent this year, as a result of the drought in May and June.
* Heat wave warnings extended across France as temperatures edge higher, The Local France, July 25, 2018 [The record heat wave in France in 2003 killed some 15,000 people. Wikipedia.] * UK heat wave: Britain soars towards hottest day ever as Met Office says all-time record of 38.5C could be broken, The Telegraph, July 25, 2018
* California urges power conservation during heat wave, Associated Press, July 24, 2018
* No water or electricity: why southern Iraqis are at a breaking point, France 24, July 24, 2018 Major protests have erupted in several Iraqi cities over the past two weeks due to water and power cuts. The movement started in the southern region of Basra, and then spread to Kerbala and Baghdad. Our Observers in Basra explain that the protesters blame corruption and poor management by the authorities for these cuts, which are particularly painful since Iraq is currently experiencing temperatures nearing 50 degrees Celsius.
Tokyo is boiling. Will it be too hot for the 2020 Summer Olympics?, by Jake Adelstein, The Daily Beast, July 24, 2018 [The heat wave devastating Japan shows how disastrous the weather is likely to be in 2020. July 23 was just short of two years before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and was the hottest day in the city’s history with the temperature in one district reaching 41 Celsius (106F). Organizers want the 2020 Olympics to help showcase Japan’s recovery from the disaster that took more than 18,000 lives and triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Seventy thousand people are still displaced from that disaster.]
* The 2020 Olympics will open in two years, and the heat is on, by Jim Armstrong, Associated Press, July 24, 2018
* The heat is on 2020 organizers of 2020 Olympics in Tokyo to combat high temperatures, by Jim Armstrong, Associated Press, July 12, 2018
* Western Japan struggles to restore water to flood-hit towns as temperatures soar, by news agencies, in Japan Times, July 13, 2018 Municipal workers struggled Friday to restore water to flood-hit western Japan a week after inundation caused by a record downpour killed more than 200 people in the nation’s worst weather disaster in 36 years… Communities that grappled with rising floodwaters last week now find themselves battling scorching summer temperatures well above 30 degrees, as foul-smelling garbage piles up in mud-splattered streets. “We need the water supply back,” said Hiroshi Oka, 40, an Okayama resident helping to clean up the Mabicho district in Kurashiki where more than 200,000 households have gone without water for a week…
* ‘Never before experienced’ rains hammer Japan during early July, by Robert Fanney, published on his website RobertScribbler, July 9, 2018 During recent days as much as 25 inches of rain has fallen over parts of Japan shattering previous all time precipitation records for parts of the island nation. The resulting floods have spurred a major emergency response by 54,000 personnel, taken the lives of more than 125 people, and forced more than 2.8 million to evacuate…
A record 207 environmental activists were killed in 2017, South China Morning Post, July 24, 2018 The year 2017 was the most dangerous ever for conservationists, according to Global Witness, which accuses governments of being behind some of the deaths
The U.S. is unprepared for the health challenges of climate change, experts warn, by Niina Heikkinen, Scientific American, July 23, 2018 Insect-borne disease and damage to hospitals during disasters are among their concerns
Wave after wave of garbage hits the beaches of the Dominican Republic, by Palko Karasz, New York Times, July 23, 2018
The dirty truth is your recycling may actually go to landfills, by Dominique Mosbergen, HuffPost US, July 24, 2018 America is in the midst of what one official calls an “unprecedented” recycling crisis
… The immediate global impact of the new Chinese restrictions [against importation of garbage dressed as ‘recycling’], enforced on January 1, 2018, was staggering. “It was a huge shock — a tsunami for the industry,” said Arnaud Brunet, head of the Bureau of International Recycling, speaking from Brussels. “When the biggest market for recyclables progressively shuts the door to imports, you can expect the global industry will be under stress.”
… The United States has long been one of the biggest exporters of trash to China. Of the estimated 66 million tons of material that Americans recycle each year, about one-third used to be exported — a majority of which had been bound for Chinese shores. Since January, however, local and state governments, together with domestic recycling companies, have had to figure out new destinations for all this garbage.
Related: We’re drowning in plastic trash. Waste engineer Jenna Jambeck wants to save us, NPR ‘Morning Edition’, July 24, 2018
Summers are getting hotter, faster, especially in North America’s farm belt, by Sabrina Shankman, Inside Climate News, July 19, 2018 Four decades of satellite data confirm man-made global warming and find seasonal warming trends that could threaten crops
* Scorching heat waves loom over the future of the world’s cities, broadcast on CBC Radio One‘s ‘The Current’, July 13, 2018 (22 minute broadcast) Interviewing: Kurt Schickman, executive director of the Global Cool Cities Alliance; Blair Feltmate of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo, Ontario; and Tracy Heffernan, a lawyer from the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario. ‘Toronto’s highest temperatures in the past have hit 37 Celsius (99 Farenheit). Within a few decades, record highs will hit 44.’
* Summer nights are getting hotter. Here’s why that’s a health and wildfire risk, by Georgina Gustin, Inside Climate News, July 11, 2018 Higher nighttime temperatures as the climate changes can leave homes and humans little chance to cool off. It’s affecting agriculture and wildfire activity, too.
* 74 deaths are linked to recent heat wave in province of Quebec, fears of more heat to come, Montreal Gazette, July 10, 2018
* The high cost of hot, research report by Climate Central, July 11, 2018 (five page report) … Climate Central analyzed trends in cooling degree days and minimum temperatures in the continental U.S. Of the 244 cities analyzed, 93 per cent had an increase in cooling degree days. Much of this warming occurs at night, demonstrated by the fact that of those same cities, 87 percent see an increase in the occurrence of overnight low temperatures above a threshold of either 55°F or 65°F. [A cooling degree day (CDD) is a measurement designed to quantify the demand for energy needed to cool a building. It is the number of degrees that a day’s average temperature is above 65o Fahrenheit (18o Celsius), which is the temperature above which buildings need to be cooled.] * Air conditioning costs rise with Arizona’s heat, by John Upton of Climate Central and Gloria Knott of Arizona Daily Star, published on July 11, 2018 … Tucson, Phoenix and Yuma in Arizona were among the ten locales that experienced the greatest increases in the amount of cooling required in recent decades as temperatures have risen, according to a new analysis of 244 U.S. cities…
* Rising seas could swell Arizona’s population, by John Upton, Climate Central, June 7, 2018
Baltimore tries new path in effort to sue Big Oil for global warming, report by Jason Mark, Sierra Club, July 20, 2018 [Baltimore city has 98 kilometers (61 miles) of shoreline. Metropolitan Baltimore has 370 km of shoreline. The city lies near the head of Chesapeake Bay, which has some 19,000 kilometers of shoreline, longer than the entire U.S. west coast. Chesapeake Bay is experiencing one of the fastest sea level rises in the world. Sea levels in the bay rose a foot in the last century. That’s twice the global average, and it could rise two feet by 2050, according to researchers at the University of Maryland. The bay has already lost 13 islands to rising waters.]
* Baltimore sues 26 fossil fuel companies over climate change, by David Hasemyer and Nicholas Kusnetz, Inside Climate News, July 20, 2018
* Island residents in Maryland deny sea level rise yet want to stop it, by Scott Waldman, Scientific American, June 15, 2017 Scientists, skeptics, crabbers and pastors try to find common ground, offering a glimmer of hope for a divided country
* Norfolk, Virginia wants to remake itself as sea level rises, but who will be left behind?, by Nicholas Kusnetz, Inside Climate News, May 21, 2018 The proud town home of the U.S. Navy’s and world’s largest naval base sees itself as a living lab for coastal resilience, one in desperate need of solutions as flooding worsens. Not every neighborhood will be saved.
* 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…
* 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.
Cooling a warmer world heats it even more, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, July 16, 2018 … In the next three decades cooling a warmer world will bring soaring demand for equipment to bring the mercury down. The appetite for energy to fuel air-conditioning, cold stores, refrigerated transport and medical “cold chains” that preserve vital vaccines could rise nearly five-fold…
The myth of clean natural gas, by Ryan Cooper, The Week, July 18, 2018
… It’s increasingly clear, however, that natural gas is already nearly past its point of maximum usefulness. It should simply be phased out as soon as possible — as soon as coal is gone, it should be next on the chopping block, if not right beside.
… Lo and behold, a recent study found (yet again) that leaks are so bad they basically cancel out the climate advantages of natural gas compared to coal (though natural gas still produces fewer poisonous fumes and heavy metals).
As rivers dry and fields turn to dust, Iranian farmers turn to protest, Associated Press, July 19, 2018 Over the past decade, Iran has seen the most prolonged and severe drought in more than 30 years, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization. An estimated 97 percent of the country has faced some level of drought, Iran’s Meteorological Organization says. Isfahan province, where Varzaneh is located, and neighboring provinces in central Iran have been hit particularly hard…
Int’l Energy Agency reports rise in global investment in fossil fuels, including relative to ‘renewable’ energies, by Adam Vaughn, energy correspondent, The Guardian, July 18, 2018 The world’s energy watchdog has sounded the alarm over a “worrying” pause in the shift to clean energy after global investment in renewables fell seven per cent to $318bn (£240bn) in 2017. The International Energy Agency said the decline is set to continue into 2018, threatening energy security, climate change and air pollution goals. Fossil fuels increased their share of energy supply investment for the first time since 2014, to $790bn, and will play a significant role for years on current trends…
The Site C hydroelectric dam in British Columbia and Canada’s unsustainable environmental rhetoric, op-ed commentary by A.J. Klein, Stewart Phillip and Craig Benjamin, published in the Vancouver Sun, July 17, 2018 (A.J. Klein is an organizer with the Council of Canadians. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip is president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. Craig Benjamin is Campaigner for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with Amnesty International Canada.)
Related: Judge rules against B.C. Hydro in its bid to force disclosure from First Nations in Site C dam injunction case, by Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight, July 16, 2018
Sinking land, poisoned water: the dark side of California’s mega farms, by Alissa Greenberg, The Guardian, July 18, 2018 The floor of the Central Valley is slumping, and there is arsenic in the tap water. Now it seems the two problems are connected … The 50,000 sq km of the Central Valley play an essential role in American life: some 250 crops grow here, about one-quarter of the nation’s food supply. Agriculture on this scale requires an enormous amount of water, especially as water-hungry crops like almonds have gained popularity. And since the area’s river and rainfall levels fluctuate widely even month to month, farmers say they have no choice but to drill wells and draw aggressively on aquifers…
Related: California is preparing for extreme weather, it’s time to plant some trees, by Henry Fountain, New York Times, July 15, 2018 The state expects drier dry years and wetter wet ones in the decades ahead. That means projects to restore river habitats now serve another purpose: battling the coming floods.
In India, summer heat may soon be literally unbearable, by Somini Sengupta, international climate reporter, New York Times, July 17, 2018
Related: Global warming in South Asia: 800 million at risk, by Somini Sengupta and Nadja Popovich, New York Times, June 28, 2018
Wildfires rage in Arctic Circle, Sweden calls for help, by Jonathan Watts, The Guardian, July 17, 2018 … There have been huge fires in the past in Sweden, but not over such a wide area. This appears to be a trend as more and bigger blazes are reported in other far northern regions like Greenland, Alaska, Siberia and Canada…
Cesspools, sewage, and social murder, by Ian Angus, published in Monthly Review, special issue of July-August, 2018 Ian Angus examines how the 19th century metabolic rift in agriculture that so concerned Karl Marx triggered a pollution crisis in the world’s largest city, London. See here for the full, special edition of Monthly Review for July-August 2018.
The Monsanto Papers: The ‘Roundup’ (glyphosate) cancer case key documents and analysis, published on the website of U.S. Right To Know, July 13, 2018 More than 450 lawsuits are pending against Monsanto Co. in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, filed by people alleging that exposure to Roundup herbicide caused them or their loved ones to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and that Monsanto covered up the risks. The cases have been combined for handling as multidistrict litigation… Monsanto sought to have its internal records and communications sealed from public view but the judge has allowed many to be made part of the public record, and these “Monsanto Papers” are contained within the records below…
[One of the writers at U.S. Right To Know is Carey Gillam, author of the 2017 book: Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science. The book is one of the recommended books listed in the ‘Books and essays‘ page of A Socialist In Canada website.]
Global temperature projections could double as the world burns, by Dahr Jamail, published on his ‘Climate Disruption Dispatches’ monthly column on Truthout.org, July 16, 2018 (Dahr Jamail’s newest book is The End of Ice, forthcoming from The New Press.)
Related: Interview with Dahr Jamail on prospects for mitigating the consequences global warming and dealing with disastrous consequences, broadcast on ‘Last Born In The Wilderness’ podcast, February 2018 (seven minute interview)
Healthy soil is the real key to feeding the world, by David Montgomery, published in The Conversation, April 3, 2017 [In this 2017 essay, David Montgomery tackles “three myths” about producing food in the modern world: Myth 1: Large-scale agriculture feeds the world today; Myth 2: Large farms are more efficient; Myth 3: Conventional farming is necessary to feed the world.] (David Montgomery is professor of earth and space sciences at University of Washington and the author of the 2017 book Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life. The book is reviewed here in New Scientist, July 2017; brief reviews are here on the website of the book’s publisher Norton.)
Green gold Rush: Investors are lining up to buy green bonds, but can they live up to the hype?, by Liz Farmer, published in Governing States and Localities, July 2018
How Greenland melt can kick off a warm ‘ill wind’ near Antarctica, by Robert Fanney, published on his website blog RobertScribbler, July 11, 2018
Carbon trading, co-pollutants, and environmental equity: Evidence from California’s cap-and-trade program (2011–2015), by Lara Cushing, Dan Blaustein-Rejto, Madeline Wander, Manuel Pastor, James Sadd, Allen Zhu and Rachel Morello-Frosch, published by PLOS (‘Public Library of Science’), July 10, 2018 … To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine social disparities in GHG and co-pollutant emissions under an existing carbon trading program. Our results indicate that, thus far, California’s cap-and-trade program has not yielded improvements in environmental equity with respect to health-damaging co-pollutant emissions. This could change, however, as the cap on GHG emissions is gradually lowered in the future.
Industry inertia, vested interest have lithium-ion taking charge in energy storage technologies at the expense of cheaper and more efficient metals, commentary by Tyler Hamilton, Globe and Mail, July 10, 2018
Prepare for the worst, by Richard Seymour, published in his page on Patreon, July 7, 2018 (and re-published in MR Online, July 10, 2018) It is worse than you thought. Perhaps twice as bad. Perhaps worse than that. Paleoclimatologists say that the past changes to global climates show that there exist mechanisms which magnify the effect of global warming. These are not well represented in climate models… (Referencing: Palaeoclimate constraints on the impact of 2 °C anthropogenic warming and beyond, by Hubertus Fischer, Katrin J. Meissner and Liping Zhou, in Nature Geoscience, June 25, 2018.) [Writer Richard Seymour draws upon recent scientific findings to draw a dark picture of humanity’s fate in the era of global warming. But he offers no path at all for how humanity may act in time to mitigate the worst of the consequences of global warming that science is warning against.]
Minke whale death toll rising off east coast of North America, The Canadian Press, July 9, 2018 An animal protection group says the death toll appears to be rising for a small whale species off the East Coast, raising concerns that the animals are falling victim to the same threats facing endangered North Atlantic right whales…
* Minke whale unusual mortality event along the U.S. Atlantic coast, by NOAA Fisheries, June 8, 2018 Since January 2017, elevated minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) mortalities have occurred along the Atlantic coast from Maine through South Carolina. This has been declared an Unusual Mortality Event. A table of stranding numbers by state is below. While minke whales are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the species is not listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act…
* Orca whales in the Pacific Northwest are starving and disappearing, by Jim Robbins, New York Times, July 9, 2018
More recycling won’t solve plastic pollution, by Matt Wilkins, Scientific American, July 6, 2018 It’s a lie that wasteful consumers cause the problem and that changing our individual habits can fix it
Young leftist candidates in the U.S. are breathing new radicalism into stale climate politics, by Kate Aronoff, The Intercept, July 5, 2018
[This analysis published in The Intercept argues that the left, social-democratic politicians rising in the United States, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are advocating radical, even anti-capitalist, alternatives to mitigate the global warming emergency. But this is false. The climate change platform of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez advocates renewable energies (‘100 per cent renewables’) and ill-defined “structural changes” and “Green New Deal” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But these and other similar measures confined operating under the umbrella of the expansionist capitalist system will only dampen emissions, at best. They certainly won’t create the radical decline in emissions so urgently needed. The platform of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez does not even posit specific goals for greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, it offers hope that a constrained form of capitalism may do the trick.
[An alternative viewpoint arguing for a massive reduction in all the waste, excess and plunder characteristic of capitalism (aka ‘degrowth’) in the form of a planned, social economy under citizen control is argued in the articles compiled on the ‘Environment’ page of A Socialist In Canada website.]
UN climate fund chief resigns for personal reasons while board meeting collapses, by Megan Darby, Climate Home News, July 4, 2018
* UN climate fund board meeting in South Korea turns ‘toxic’ as funding runs low, by Megan Darby, Climate Home News, July 3, 2018
* Green Climate Fund ‘a laughing stock’, say poor countries, by Megan Darby, Climate Home News, April 6, 2017
Heat wave smashes records around the world — a look at the sizzling temperatures, Global News, July 5, 2018
* Red-hot planet: All-time heat records have been set all over the world during the past week, by Jason Samenow, Washington Post, July 4, 2018
* A city in Pakistan may have just endured the hottest April temperature ever observed on Earth, by Jason Samenow, Washington Post, May 1, 2018
‘The Robbery of Nature’, special issue of Monthly Review, July-August, 2018
Canada leads the G7 in oil and gas subsidies, Huffington Post Canada, July 4, 2018 The Canadian government has pledged to end fossil fuel subsidies, but a new report shows it faces an uphill climb if it intends to make good on that promise. The Overseas Development Institute, a UK think tank, published a report last month showing Canada leads the G7 in subsidies for oil and gas industries as a share of the country’s economy…
For months prior to July 2018, go to the ‘News pages archives’ on the website home page and use the dropdown menu.