This is a newsroll page on A Socialist In Canada, commencing Sept 19, 2017. See also the feature articles on ecology and global warming that are listed in the website category ‘Environment‘ (listed on the main website page). Some of the items on the ‘Canada newsroll’ page of the website (article titles with weblinks) are about the politics in Canada of the global warming emergency and are therefore not listed in the ‘Ecology Newsroll’. Text in square brackets [ ] is by Roger Annis.
Climate change soon to cause mass movement, World Bank warns, by Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent, The Guardian, Mar 19, 2018 140 million people in three regions expected to migrate before 2050 unless environment is improved
… The World Bank examined three regions, which between them account for 55% of the developing world’s population. In sub-Saharan Africa, 86 million are expected to be internally displaced over the period; in south Asia, about 40 million; and in Latin America, 17 million.
On the Louisiana coast, a Native community sinks slowly into the sea, by Ted Jackson, Yale Environment 360, March 15, 2018 The Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians of southern Louisiana have been called America’s first climate refugees. Two years after receiving federal funding to move to higher ground, the tribe is stuck in limbo, waiting for new homes as the water inches closer to their doors.
How climate activists failed to make clear the problem with natural gas, by Bill McKibben, Yale Environment 360, March 13, 2018 The climate movement’s biggest failure has been its inability to successfully make the case that natural gas is not a clean replacement for other fossil fuels. So as natural gas has boomed, U.S. emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, have increased dramatically.
[This commentary by Bill McKibben should be required reading for residents of the Canadian province of British Columbia. There, the provincial government has been running interference with the Alberta tar sands industry’s planned expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline connecting Alberta’s tar sands region to refineries in Washington state and to an export terminal in Vancouver harbour.
[The BC government’s stated concern about the Trans Mountain pipeline is narrow in its scope–limited to concern over potential spills of diluted bitumen from the pipeline or from ships taking the bitumen to overseas markets. But the government says nothing about the global warming consequences of tar sands extractoin and burning. The tar sands industry, backed by the Alberta and Canadian governments, is not only continuing its planet-threatening extractions, it wants to boost those by up to 50 per cent! Meanwhile, the BC government is moving full steam ahaead on expanding natural gas fracking and even fostering (subsidizing) a liquefied natural gas industry in the province. It is also proceeding, against the best financial and environmental advice, to build the $10 billion-plus ‘Site C’ hydroelectric dam along the Peace River in northeast BC. Much of that electricity will be sold to the tar sands industry in Alberta and to exanded mining operations. Gas fracking and Site C are receiving far less scrutiny and protest compared to the Trans Mountain project. The BC government’s wishy-washy stance on Trans Mountain project earns it valuable public relations points facilitating other climate-wrecking projects to proceed.]
Collapse of civilization? Letter to the editor of New Scientist magazine, Feb 17, 2018 (slightly adapted)
Laura Spinney’s article on the possible collapse of civilization (Jan 20, 2018) provides a useful underpinning for thoughts that must be haunting many of us who have paid attention to world news in the last decade. What such thoughts omit, however, is a vision or ideas that might inspire a great majority of humanity toward a long-term consensus.
The early spread of Marxism showed the possibility of inspirational ideas having powerful and widespread influence. Surely, now, attempts should be made to counter pessimism by trying to work out and promulgate some inspirational vision of humanity’s future to which most governments, organisations and populations might be able and willing to subscribe. It won’t be easy to find common ground between authoritarian and democratic governments, nor across sectarian and other divides – but that just indicates how far-seeing such a vision would need to be.
Easter Island statues could be lost to sea, warns UNESCO, RT, Mar 18, 2018
Easter Island is eroding, by Nicholas Casey and Josh Haner, New York Times, Mar 14, 2018 (interactive presentation with photos, video and map)
When Rome fell, the chief culprits were climate and disease. Sound familiar?, by Madeline Ostrander, published on Undark, March 16, 2018 Pundits who blame 21st-century-style moral rot miss the big picture, a new book argues. Against plague and drought, the empire never stood a chance.
20,000 scientists have now signed ‘warning to humanity’ letter, by Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch, March 9, 2018
The allure and perils of hydropower, by Lois Parshley, published in Undark, Nov 13, 2017 Damming rivers may seem like a clean and easy solution for Albania and other energy-hungry countries, but the devil is in the details
[Missing from the author’s otherwise informative account is how capitalist society creates an unending cycle of production and consumption, requiring all manner of energy generation to fuel it. So the first and second questions to examine in any analysis of expanding energy production is ‘Do we need it? Why?’]
Ottawa wants to save the endangered North Atlantic right whale, except that gets in the way of oil drilling so it doesn’t, report in Globe and Mail, Mar 14, 2018 [In February, Ottawa’s ‘feminist’ environment minister gave the go-ahead for oil and gas exploration off southeast Nova Scotia by no less than the notorious BP oil behemoth.]
How the federal government is doing wrong by North Atlantic right whales, by Michael Harris, iPolitics.ca, Feb 8, 2018
Ask a scientist: Could oil exploration wipe out the last North Atlantic right whales?, by Ingrid Biedron, Oceana, July 28, 2017 Oceana’s resident whale expert, Dr. Ingrid Biedron, is worried that North Atlantic right whales will go extinct. This critically endangered species, which ranges from the east coast of Canada down to Florida, was almost killed off by industrial whaling. The whales slowly recovered after an international ban on whaling. Then, in 2010, the recovery reversed course.
Four years after declaring war on pollution, China is winning, by Michael Greenstone, New York Times, Mar 12, 2018
… The U.S. Clean Air Act is widely regarded as having produced large reductions in air pollution. In the four years after its 1970 enactment, American air pollution declined by 20 percent on average. But it took about a dozen years and the 1981-1982 recession for the United States to achieve the 32 percent reduction China has achieved in just four years.
* PM2.5 in Beijing down 54%, but nationwide air quality improvements slow as coal use increases, press release by Greenpeace East Asia, Jan 11, 2018
* Chinese companies to build 700 coal plants in and outside China, by Andrew Topf, Mining.com, Oct. 8, 2017 1,600 coal plants are planned or under construction in 62 countries
Climate change is a disaster foretold, just like the first world war, by Jeff Sparrow, Australia columnist, The Guardian, Mar 11, 2018
Alberta’s climate change claims ring hollow, op-ed commentary by Ian Urquhart, published in Calgary Herald (daily), March 5, 2018 (Ian Urquhart is a political science professor at the University of Alberta.)
Newly arrived rhinocerous beetle is devastating the coconut plantations on Solomon Islands, reports on ABC.net au, March 11, 2018 and report on Loop Pacific, (Papua New Guinea), July 27, 2017 The rhinocerous beetles are understood to have arrived from Papua New Guinea in 2015
Arctic has warmest winter on record: ‘It’s just crazy, crazy stuff’, Associated Press, Mar 6, 2018 Sea ice has hit record lows for time of year as experts say global warming probably fueled big storms in Europe and north-eastern U.S.
Climate change tightens grip on U.S. west coast despite progressive aspirations, by Oliver Milman, The Guardian, Mar 7, 2018 Seven million residents of the San Francisco Bay region are threatened by rising sea levels
Urban heat: Can white roofs help cool world’s warming cities?, by Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360, March 7, 2018
How will we feed the new global middle class?, by Charles C. Mann, published in The Atlantic (conservative monthly magazine), March 2018
* Malthus’ essay on population at age 200: A Marxian view, by John Bellamy Foster, Monthly Review, Dec 1, 1998
* The post-war intellectual roots of the population bomb: Fairfield Osborn’s ‘Our Plundered Planet’ and William Vogt’s ‘Road to Survival’ in retrospect, by Pierre Desrochers and Christine Hoffbauer (University of Toronto), 26 pages, January 2009
* Too many people?, book of the same title by authors Ian Angus and Simon Butler, Haymarket Press, 2011. The full text of the book is here. Read a detailed review of the book here.
Thousands march in Vancouver against Justin Trudeau’s eco-leadership and Kinder Morgan’s ‘Trans Mountain’ tar sands pipeline expansion, RT.com, Mar 10, 2018 (with extensive photos of the march)
Anti-pipeline demonstrations begin in Vancouver after court order to keep protesters at bay, Seattle Times, March 9, 2018
Big Oil is the new Big Tobacco: Climate change liability battles heat up, RobertScribbler, Mar 9, 2018
Nuclear waste mountains just go on growing, by Paul Brown, Climate News Network, Feb 27, 2018
Foreign oil and natural gas investor in Alberta is walking away, says it cannot pay for cleanup of several thousand sites, Globe and Mail, March 7, 2018
… Sequoia Resources Corp. told Alberta’s Energy Regulator (AER) that it is unable to clean up thousands of sites for which it has licences and that it would “cease operations imminently” due to defaults on municipal tax payments, according to regulatory documents.
… The company’s struggles raise questions about oversight of transactions in cases where purchasers lack the financial wherewithal to clean up assumed liabilities. It also threatens to exacerbate a spike in idle oil and gas wells leftover following a string of corporate bankruptcies across the industry.
Canada’s natural resource rail shipments bursting at the seams, leaving farmers out of luck, report on CBC News, March 7, 2018
Half of B.C.’s reserved agricultural land lying unused, report shows, by Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun, March 7, 2018
About 50 per cent of British Columbia’s Agricultural Land Reserve land is lying unused, in part due to the province’s failure to ensure the economic viability of the food sector, according to the authors of Protection is not Enough…
… The ALR was created in 1973 to protect 4.7 million hectares of farmland, because only five per cent of B.C.’s land area is considered suitable for agriculture. At that time more than 6,000 hectares of farmland was being lost to development each year. That pace has slowed to about 600 hectares a year.
… An investigation of 122 land sales in the Metro Vancouver area has revealed that 73 of those transactions were completed by investors rather than farmers, the study notes…
How food secure is B.C.? We don’t know, and it’s important we find out, by Randy Shore, Vancouver Sun, Feb 23, 2018
A Metro Vancouver land use inventory found that 50 per cent of the region’s farmland inside the Agricultural Land Reserve is not actively farmed. That figure rises to 75 per cent when only small lots — two hectares or less — are considered…
Speculators target B.C. farmland after foreign buyer tax introduced for residences, by Sam Cooper, Vancouver Sun, May 26, 2017
The world is embracing SUVs and that’s bad news for the climate and future generations, by Hiroko Tabushi, New York Times, Mar 3, 2018 The SUV-building bonanza contrasts with promises made by automakers of big investments in electric vehicles and other low-emitting vehicles. They are pouring resources into far more polluting SUVs
Another warning of global warming: Record auto and truck sales, by Roger Annis, published in A Socialist In Canada, Oct 4, 2017
Powerful winter storm in U.S. Northeast showed damage that high tides with sea level rise can do, by Phil McKenna, Climate News Network, Mar 5, 2018
… On March 2, Boston experienced its third-highest high tide since record keeping began in 1928, with waters just inches below the record of 15.16 feet set only a fw weeks ago on January 4, during the city’s last major winter storm.
… “There is roughly $6 billion of construction planned or occurring in Boston’s Seaport District. It’s known as the ‘innovation district’, but in fact it’s the ‘inundation district’. Very little of that construction is designed to contend with climate conditions that are already here, let alone those that lie in the near future,” said Bradley Campbell, president of the Conservation Law Foundation, a Boston-based environmental advocacy group.
* U.S. east coast still experiencing heavy seas as another storm looms, report on RobertScribbler, March 5, 2018
* Halifax’s battle of the rising sea: Will the city be ready for future floods and storms?, by Matthew McClearn, first of a series of articles on Canadian cities and sea level rise caused by global warming, Globe and Mail, March 6, 2018
[Sea levels in Halifax, population 420,000, are rising faster than in other coastal cities in Canada, due to the city’s land mass sinking. A 2004 municipal document reported that sea-level change “will seriously impact shoreline infrastructure such as seawalls and wharves and will threaten low lying buildings.” Seventy per cent of the app. one million residents of the province of Nova Scotia live at or near sea level. Nine communities continue to dump their raw sewage into local waters, while sewage overflows are routine during heavy rainfalls in those urban areas with sewage treatment.]
[From the Globe and Mail article: The city’s bylaws and design manuals remain largely silent on how developers should plan their waterfront buildings to cope with future flooding. “Climate change, ocean level rising, doesn’t get a lot of attention,” said Mr. Crace, the Halifax architect.]
Images from space lead to discovery of massive Penguin ‘supercolony’ in Antarctica, by George Dvorsky, Gizmodo, Mar 2, 2018
After noticing the telltale signs of guano streaks on satellite imagery, an international team of researchers set out to count the number of penguins on Antarctica’s aptly named Danger Islands. They found a previously undetected supercolony of over 1.5 million Adélie penguins—a surprising result, given how poorly these aquatic birds are doing just 100 miles away…
* Hidden colony of 1.5 million Adelie penguins discovered on Antarctica’s Danger Islands, six-minute interview with Michael Polito, oceanography professor at Louisiana State University and co-author of a study published in Nature magazine, interview on CBC’s weekday evening interview program ‘As It Happens’, March 2, 2018
* King penguins face a shrinking realm in Antarctica, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, Feb 28, 2018
King penguins – one of the most charismatic species of the Southern Ocean – are under threat from climate change. More than a million breeding pairs will either shift to new colonies or perish before the century’s end, as conditions in the Antarctic begin to change. The species Aptenodytes patagonicus could lose 70 per cent of its population, according to a new study in Nature Climate Change…
Awaiting ‘day zero’, now set at July 9, Cape Town, South Africa faces an uncertain water future, by Adam Welz, Yale Environment 360, March 1, 2018
BOSTON–One promise of ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft was fewer cars clogging city streets. But studies suggest the opposite: that ride-hailing companies are pulling riders off buses, subways, bicycles and their own feet and putting them in cars instead. And in what could be a new wrinkle, a service by Uber called Express Pool now is seen as directly competing with mass transit…
Related: A majority of Uber and Lyft drivers earn far less than minimum wage, by Mehreen Kasana, Alternet, March 2, 2018 Report by MIT finds motorists make an average of $3.37 per hour—before taxes.
U.S. Northeast battered by second ‘once in a generation’ storm this year, RobertScribbler, March 2, 2018
A major nor’easter is lashing the Eastern U.S. today. Reports of moderate to severe tidal flooding are racking up as hurricane force gusts are pushing mounds of water inland and raking the coastline with tremendously powerful waves. This storm blew up to extreme intensity over the night-time and early morning hours on Friday as two low pressure cells converged off the U.S. coast. By afternoon, the storm had bombed out to 970 mb and was still intensifying…
[A global campaign to abolish single-use plastic bottles, wrappers, and bags would greatly advance the fight against capitalist-induced global warming. Campaigns to divest from fossil fuel investments and to implement ‘alternative energies’ can be important, but they must be fitted into a broader effort to strike at the core of the global warming crisis–which is the relentless expansion drive and the wasteful production-consumption cycle of capitalism. All the wasteful and harmful production must be radically reduced/retrenched and a new society of social justice and human development must be built.]
Two new books for Anthropocene times, book review by Ben Collyer, published in New Scientist, print issue of Jan 20, 2018 Fully embracing our connectedness with the biosphere will take rethinking how we see our objects and a new legal framework, argue two new books
Reviewing: Being Ecological, by Timothy Morton, Pelican Books, Jan 2018, 240 pp; and Our Oldest Task: Making sense of our place in nature, by Eric T. Freyfogle, University of Chicago Press, Aug 2017, 240 pp. Read the book review here in pdf format: Two new books for Anthropocene times
Related reading: Ecosocialist bookshelf, February 2018, published on Climate and Capitalism, Feb 25, 2018
Deadly heat: How to survive the world’s new temperature extremes, by John Pickrell, published in New Scientist, print issue of Jan 20, 2018 (with world map showing three scenarios of future extreme heat waves) Read the article here in pdf format: Deadly heat.
The curse of energy efficiency, by Andrew Nikiforuk, columnist, The Tyee (Vancouver BC), Feb 27, 2018 The more ‘efficient’ our technology, the more resources we consume in a downward spiral of catastrophe.
… As long as we define environmental, political and economic problems as essentially technical in nature, then we will proscribe energy efficiency as the solution. But if we were to admit that our problems were spiritual and political in nature and bedeviled by population and affluence, then we would endorse reductions in energy consumption and the inequalities that feed such appetites.
[The author concludes his essay with: ” This refusal to acknowledge the truth leaves the world but two options for change: collapse or revolution.” But what sort of ‘revolution’? A planned, orderly supplanting of capitalism in favour of a higher form of society (socialism) is clearly in the cards. But why won’t the author say so?]
Cornucopian renewable energy claims leave poor nations in the dark, by Stan Cox, published in Green Social Thought, Feb 22, 2018 (Green Social Thought is a project of the Green Party in St Louis, USA)
Development without energy? Assessing future scenarios of energy consumption in developing countries, by Jan Christoph Steckel, J.Brechaad, Michael Jakobac, Jessica Streflera and Gunnar Luderera, February 2013 (the authors are members of various institutes, including Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research)
Welcome to the age of climate migration, special report by Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone, Feb 24, 2018 Extreme weather due to climate change displaced more than a million people from their homes last year. It could soon reshape the nation (Jeff Goodell is the author of the 2017 book, The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilised World.)
… As companies around the world grow concerned about the risks of climate change, they have started looking for clarity on how warming might disrupt their operations in the future. But governments in the United States and Europe have been slow to translate academic research on global warming into practical, timely advice for businesses or local city planners. Now some private companies, like Jupiter, are trying to fill the gap…
Invasive insect feasts on Louisiana wetlands, inviting the Gulf in, by Tristan Baurick, New York Times, Feb 24, 2018 A pest known as a scale appears to be killing off reeds that bind the state’s coast together, speeding land loss and endangering oil wells, shipping routes and fishing grounds.
* Fortified but still in peril, New Orleans braces for its future, by John Schwartz and Mark Schleifstein, New York Times, Feb 24, 2018
* Louisiana, sinking fast, prepares to empty out its coastal plain, by Christopher Flavelle, Bloomberg News, Dec 22, 2017
A good life for all within planetary boundaries, published by the University of Leeds, lead author Dan O’Neill, February 2018
No country in the world currently meets the basic needs of its citizens at a globally sustainable level of resource use. Our research, recently published in Nature Sustainability (and summarised in The Conversation), is the first to quantify the national resource use associated with achieving a good life for over 150 countries. It shows that meeting the basic needs of all people on the planet would result in humanity transgressing multiple environmental limits, based on current relationships between resource use and human well-being…
* Is it possible for everyone to live a good life within our planet’s limits?, by Dan O’Neill (University of Leeds), published in The Conversation, Feb 8, 2018
* Canada is unsustainable, so is everywhere else, by Crawford Kilian, The Tyee (Canada), Feb 23, 2018
Only fantasies, desperation and wishful thinking keep Alberta tar sands pipeline plans alive, By Mitchell Anderson, The Tyee, Feb 23, 2018 There is no waiting Asian market for tar sands crude, in fact there’s no waiting market anywhere
Kicking our plastic addiction, editorial, LA Times, Feb 20, 2018
… It’s going to take more than a smattering of bans on single items to cure society of its disposable-plastic habit. The sheer volume of plastic trash now littering Earth has become impossible to ignore. It’s time for environmentalists, policymakers and elected officials to start planning a broader response: phasing out all single-use plastic, not just the most pernicious. That’s right, all of it…
* China’s waste import ban upends global recycling industry, by Becky Davis And Lillian Ding, Phys.org, Jan 21, 2018
* China’s plan to stop recycling the world’s rubbish, by Andy Coghlan, New Scientist, Jan 3, 2018. (Read article in the attached pdf: China to stop recycling the world’s rubbish)
* ‘Wasted’: What happens when China no longer wants our trash?, news report and interview on CBC Radio One‘s ‘Day Six’ with Adam Minter, Jan 12, 2018 (Adam Minter is a columnist with Bloomberg News and the author of the 2013 book Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade)
* A million bottles a minute: world’s plastic binge ‘as dangerous as climate change’, by Sandra Laville and Matthew Taylor, The Guardian, June 28, 2017
January 2018 was the fifth hottest January in the 138-year climate record, by Robert Haney, published in his blog Robertscribbler, Feb 20, 2018
New technology to solidify Alberta tar sands bitumen may reduce shipping dangers but does nothing to change threat to global warming, report by Justin Mikulka, DeSmog Blog, Feb 18, 2018
Greenwashed timber: How sustainable forest certification has failed, by Richard Conniff, Yale Environment 360, Feb 20, 2018 The Forest Stewardship Council was established to create an international system for certifying sustainable wood. But critics say it has had minimal impact on tropical deforestation and at times has served only to provide a cover for trafficking in illegal timber.
Lithium-ion battery production is surging, but at what cost?, by Emma Foehringer Merchant, Green Tech, Sept 20, 2017
… Though an explosion in EVs [electric vehicles] and energy storage will allow countries to rely on less carbon-intensive energy, the extraction of essential ingredients to make cost-effective lithium-ion batteries generally leaves environmental and human devastation in its wake.
Industry leaders have come closer to solving how to store energy and power cars without fossil fuels on a large scale, but they’re just beginning to grapple with the moral implications of a clean energy industry supported by the ugly truths of child labor and pollution.
Startling decline in populations of orangutans in Borneo, driven by human hunting, by Bruce Bower, Science News, February 15, 2018 (with mapping)
Orangutan numbers on the Southeast Asian island of Borneo plummeted from 1999 to 2015, more as a result of human hunting than habitat loss, an international research team finds.
Over those 16 years, Borneo’s orangutan population declined by about 148,500 individuals. A majority of those losses occurred in the intact or selectively logged forests where most orangutans live, primatologist Maria Voigt of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and colleagues report February 15 in Current Biology…
Besides, I’ll be dead, book review by Meehan Crist, published in London Review of Books, print issue of Feb 22, 2018. Reviewing: The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities and the Remaking of the Civilised World, by Jeff Goodell, Little, Brown, Oct 2017 [The book is listed in the ‘Ecology and the global warming emergency’ section of the ‘Books and essays’ page of A Socialist In Canada website.]
Satellite data show sea level rise will double previous estimates says report of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, summarized in Courthouse News, Monday, Feb 12, 2018
Twenty-five years of satellite data reveal that sea-level rise is increasing rapidly and by the end of the century could be twice as high as some climate models project, a new study finds. The report, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that rather than swelling at a consistent rate of 3 millimeters a year, global sea level rise is accelerating by roughly 0.08 millimeters each year and could exceed 10 millimeters a year, or more, by 2100.
If the oceans continue to change at this rate, sea levels will rise 26 inches by the end of the century – enough to cause major problems for coastal cities, according to the study. “And this is almost certainly a conservative estimate,” said lead author Steve Nerem, an aerospace engineer at the University of Colorado, Boulder…
Related: Satellites show warming is accelerating sea level rise, by Seth Borenstein, science writer, Associated Press, Feb 12, 2018
Ten rivers contribute most of the plastic in the oceans, by Prachi Patel, Scientific American, issue of February 2018
Our seas are choking on plastic. A staggering eight million metric tons wind up in oceans every year, and unraveling exactly how it gets there is critical. A recent study estimates that more than a quarter of all that waste could be pouring in from just 10 rivers, eight of them in Asia.
“Rivers carry trash over long distances and connect nearly all land surfaces with the oceans,” making them a major battleground in the fight against sea pollution, explains Christian Schmidt, a hydrogeologist at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany.
… Rivers collectively dump anywhere from 0.47 million to 2.75 million metric tons of plastic into the seas every year, depending on the data used in the models. The ten rivers that carry 93 per cent of that trash are the Yangtze, Yellow, Hai, Pearl, Amur, Mekong, Indus and Ganges Delta in Asia, and the Niger and Nile in Africa. The Yangtze alone dumps up to an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of plastic waste annually into the Yellow Sea…
Tracing the tangled tracks of humankind’s evolutionary journey, by Hannah Devlin, science correspondent, The Guardian, Feb 12, 2018
Let’s go back to the beginning. When did we and our ape cousins part ways? Scientists are still working on an exact date – or even a date to within a million years. Like many of the big questions in human evolution, the answer itself has evolved over the past few decades as new discoveries, techniques and technology have provided fresh insights…
Can the world find solutions to the nitrogen pollution crisis?, by Fred Pearce, published by Yale Environment 360, Feb 6, 2018
More and more nitrogen keeps pouring into waterways, unleashing algal blooms and creating dead zones. To prevent the problem from worsening, scientists warn, the world must drastically cut back on synthetic fertilizers and double the efficiency of the nitrogen used on farms.
… Earth system scientists say nitrogen is the major factor in biogeochemical pollution, one of four “planetary boundaries” that we have exceeded, risking “irreversible and abrupt environmental change.” The world is attempting to address the other three: climate change, deforestation, and biodiversity loss. But, says Sutton, a British researcher at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Edinburgh, nitrogen pollution is a largely ignored environmental story, with no international agreement or UN agency to galvanize action.
The growing danger of ecosystem collapse and Trump’s war on nature, by Curtis Johnson, Truthout.org, Feb 8, 2018
[This article provides a sweeping and damning overview of the ecological destruction of the planet being wrought by the capitalist system. But the message is marred because the article stops short of identifying capitalism’s expansion imperative as being the driving force of the destructive path. Furthermore, the article blames the Donald Trump-led government for highly regressive climate change policies while making no mention of the Republican and Democratic party duopoly that has led the U.S. and the world to its present emergency state. The unspoken message is that maybe the planet has a chance under capitalism after all, but only if managed by Democrats and their ilk. ]
Will Cape Town’s ‘day zero’ [water cut-off] arrive?, by Leonie Joubert, Climate News Network, Feb 7, 2018
The long road ahead for the electric-vehicle revolution, subscriber-only article by Greg Keenan and Shawn McCarthy, Globe and Mail, Feb 9, 2018
[If successful, electric vehicle sales will replicate the destructive path already carved by the fossil fuel-powered automobile and truck industries–fetishization of commodities, urban sprawl, carbon pollution, human intrusion into the habitats of fellow species. Liberal environmentalists should reject, not hail, a future of EV vehicles.]
Related: Researchers look to break the barriers of battery technology for electric vehicles, subscriber-only article by Shawn McCarthy, Globe and Mail, Feb 9, 2018
New study details failure of Alberta tar sands producers to control emissions, shows multi-trillion-dollar pollution mess they will leave behind, by David Climenhaga, Rabble.ca, Feb 1, 2018
A new report from the Parkland Institute [Edmonton, Alberta] shows none of Alberta’s Big Five tar sands producers have even set targets to bring their emissions in line with the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement that Canada’s federal government has signed onto… The report, What the Paris Agreement Means for Alberta’s Oil Sands Majors, contains dire analysis of “the social cost of carbon”, concluding that the five giant oilsands companies are causing as much as $2 trillion in pollution…
What global warming? General Motors looks to trucks and SUVs to keep profits high, report by Reuters, Feb 7, 2018
… Toyota sold 2.29 million vehicles globally in October-December, largely flat from a year prior. Sales in Japan rose 3.3 percent but fell 1.3 percent in North America, where the automaker is struggling with heavy discounting as it tries to produce and sell larger vehicles…
Five-year global temperature forecast indicates further warming, published by the UK Met Office, Feb 1, 2018
A new forecast published by scientists at the Met Office [Britain’s weather and climate forecasting office] indicates the annual global average temperature is likely to exceed 1 °C and could reach 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels during the next five years (2018-2022)…
Later this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will publish a special report about the risks of exceeding the 1.5 °C warming level and what might be done to avoid it.
Cuba embarks on a 100-year plan to protect itself from climate change, by Richard Stone, Science
… Conservative scenarios of sea-level rise forecast an 85-centimeter [3.3 foot] increase by 2100. According to the latest forecast by the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment of Cuba (CITMA), seawater incursion will contaminate nearly 24,000 square kilometers of Cuban land this century. About 20 per cent of that land could become submerged. “That means several per cent of Cuban land will be under water,” says Armando Rodríguez Batista, director of science, technology and innovation at CITMA…
As ‘Day Zero’ approaches, Cape Town faces a waterless future, by Diane Neille, Globe and Mail, Feb 2, 2018
* As Cape Town water crisis deepens, scientists prepare for ‘day zero’, by Amy Maxmen, Nature magazine, Jan 26, 2018
* Cape Town water crisis: heading for ecological suicide?, by Anthony Turton, Cape Town Messenger, Oct 23, 2017
As the planet burns, industry is looking to northern BC and Alberta for vast expansion of gas and oil fracking; the NDP governments of both provinces are throwing open the doors, report by Reuters, Jan 28, 2018
… “Increasingly we are going to see light tight oil and liquids-rich natural gas forming a key part of Alberta’s energy future,” said Margaret McCuaig-Boyd, energy minister for the province where the oil sands and much of Canada’s shale reserves are located…
Not even the briefest of pauses for human-forced global warming as oceans during 2017 were the hottest on record, RobertScribbler, Jan 26, 2018 Where does most of the heat trapped by human fossil fuel and other greenhouse gas emissions ultimately end up? Given our fixation on global surface temperatures, many people would say ‘the atmosphere.’ But this answer is incorrect. The vast majority ends up in the world ocean…
* 2017 was the warmest year on record for oceans, by Dahr Jamail, Truthout.org, Jan 18, 2018 (see chart of ocean temperatures below)
* Coral reefs face infection risk from plastic, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, Jan 29, 2018 Scientists have established yet another hazard from the millions of tons of plastic waste that tip into the sea: it delivers microbial infection to the world’s coral reefs…
Displacing coal with wood for power generation will worsen climate change, say researchers, Climate Code Red, Jan 19, 2018 … U.S. forests are a main source for EU wood pellet imports, which have been rising as demand has grown. These forests grow back slowly, so it takes a long time to repay the initial “carbon debt” incurred by burning wood instead of coal. For forests in the central and eastern U.S., which supply much of the wood used in UK power plants, the payback time for this carbon debt ranges from 44 to 104 years, depending on forest type—and assuming the land remains forest…
The dirty secret of the world’s plan to avert climate disaster through ‘carbon capture and storage’, by Abby Rabinowitz and Amanda Simpson, Wired Magazine, Dec 10, 2017 Can negative carbon emissions technology (‘carbon capture and storage) work in the real world, on a global scale? To explore that question, we visited the one project in the world that modelers cite as evidence that the technology exists-an ethanol plant in Decatur, Illinois.
The day the water ran out: Climate change day zero swiftly approaching for Cape Town, by Robert Haney, published on his website RobertScribbler, Jan 24, 2017
Cape Town is the world’s first major city to lose its water supply, interviews with climatologist Simon Gear in Johannesburg, Robert Koopman, a botanist with CapeNature, and Mike Young, University of Adelaide, broadcast on CBC Radio One‘s ‘The Current’, Jan 23, 2018 (24 minute broadcast, scroll down at the the weblink to find the interview audio and transcript)
2017 was the warmest year on record for oceans, by Dahr Jamail, Truthout.org, Jan 18, 2018
Alberta’s tar sands ponds are full of 340 billion gallons of toxic sludge, spurring fears of environmental catastrophe, report by Kevin Orland, in Bloomberg News, Jan 16, 2018 Alberta’s tailings ponds cover about 97 square miles and hold enough waste to fill more than half a million Olympic-size swimming pools
On Chesapeake Bay, a precarious future of rising seas and high tides, by Tim Horton, filmmaker, Yale Environment 360, Jan 22, 2018 (with 15-minute video) Maryland’s Dorchester County is ground zero for climate change on Chesapeake Bay, as rising seas claim more and more land. An e360 video explores the quiet beauty of this liquid landscape and how high tides and erosion are putting the bay’s rural communities at risk.
Iran’s drought and water crisis [This collection of articles has been added as a postscript to: Imperialists reiterate threats against Iran following a week of social-economic protests in the country, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, Jan 8, 2018]:
* A long-simmering factor in Iran protests: climate change, by Shashank Bengali and Ramin Mostaghim, LA Times, Jan 17, 2018
* The visible effects of climate change in Iran, by Bryan Walsh, TIME Magazine, April 5, 2017
* As drought grips Iran, farmers lament loss of a way of life, by Shashank Bengali and Ramin Mostaghim, LA Times, Sept 28, 2016
* Iran official warns water crisis could lead to mass migration, by Arash Karami, Al-Monitor, April 28, 2015
International Energy Agency sees ‘explosive’ growth in U.S. oil output, threatening 2017’s moderate rise in world oil prices, by Angelina Rascouet, Bloomberg News, Jan 19, 2018
[Moderate increases in world oil prices occasioned by the 2017 decision by OPEC countries to cut production are threatened by production surges elesewhere. Bloomberg reports: “The big 2018 supply story is unfolding fast in the Americas” the IEA said in its monthly report. “Explosive growth in the U.S. and substantial gains in Canada and Brazil will far outweigh potentially steep declines in Venezuela and Mexico.” …]
Rising market failure puts planet in jeopardy, by Kieran Cooke, Climate News Network, Jan 17, 2018 ‘In general, market mechanisms have done little to bolster the fight against climate change.’
Europe’s microwave ovens emit nearly as much CO2 as seven million cars, by Juliette Jowit, The Guardian, Jan 18, 2018 The biggest impact comes from electricity used to power the microwaves, but study also highlights rising environmental cost of our throwaway culture
Relax, Earth may warm by ‘only’ three degrees by 2100, say UK researchers, Agence France Presse, Jan 18, 2018
Related: Paris 1.5-to-two-degree target is far from safe, say world-leading scientists, by David Spratt, Climate Code Red, July 27, 2017 (first published at Renew Economy) …In their research paper and an associated media release and brief, the authors lay out the evidence and need for drastic, immediate emission reductions, and the drawdown of atmospheric carbon to a safe level. Here are the main findings of the research (all figures are based on a 1880-1920 baseline): …
The ten hottest U.S. years on record, by Climate Central, Jan 9, 2018 Eight of the ten hottest years on record have occurred since 1998
* 2017 was one of the three hottest years on record, NASA and NOAA scientists say, by Amina Khan, LA Times, Jan 18, 2018
* By air, land and sea, global warming rises, by Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, Jan 19, 2018 Within hours of the announcement by scientists in the US that 2017 was at least the third warmest year recorded, if not the second, over the Earth’s land and oceans, there comes a further revelation: 2017 was also the warmest year on record for the global oceans.
Site C hydroelectric dam in British Columbia is a train wreck in slow motion, by Ken Boon, Alaska Highway News, Jan 10, 2018 …For many of us who took part in the BCUC review process, that decision is shocking and unacceptable. Premier Horgan has been invited to appear at the Site C Summit in Victoria BC on January 26 to explain.
Massive infrastructure projects are failing at unprecedented rates, by Keith Schneider, National Geographic, Nov 20, 2017 Big fossil-fuel, mining, hydroelectric, and other “mega projects” are struggling thanks to competition from newer, cleaner technologies and a firestorm of market and civil forces.
What we learned about the climate system in 2017 that should send shivers down the spines of policy makers, by David Spratt, published on Climate Code Red, Jan 15, 2018
Here are three developments in 2017 that should send shivers down the spines of policy makers:
1. 2017 was the second hottest year on record and the hottest non-El Nino year on record
2. It is likely to get hotter than we think
3. Climate models underestimate future risks
Do seven cheap things explain the history of capitalism?, book review by Ian Angus, published on Climate and Capitalism, Jan 10, 2018 Ian Angus says a new book by Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore–A History Of The World In Seven Cheap Things–replaces concrete analysis with an artificial schema that reduces the complex organic relationship between society and the rest of nature to cheap things. Ian Angus is an author and the publisher of Climate and Capitalism.
Also by Ian Angus: Memo to Jacobin: Ecomodernism is not ecosocialism, by Ian Angus, Climate and Capitalism, Sept 25, 2017
Warming set to breach Paris accord’s toughest limit of 1.5 degrees by mid century, says draft IPCC report, Reuters, Jan 11, 2018
The world’s plastic waste is now piling up as China refuses to take the West’s dirty recycling products, by Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, New York Times, Jan 11, 2018
Ever since China announced last year that it no longer wanted to be the “world’s garbage dump”, recycling about half of the globe’s plastics and paper products, Western nations have been puzzling over what to do when China’s ban on receiving dirty and low-grade reycling product goes into effect, which it did on January 1.
The answer, to date, in Britain at least, is nothing. At least one waste disposal site in London is already seeing a buildup of plastic recyclables and has had to pay to have some of it removed. Similar backups have been reported in Canada, Ireland, Germany and several other European nations, while tons of rubbish is piling up in port cities like Hong Kong…
Related: ‘Wasted’: What happens when China no longer wants our trash?, news report and interview on CBC Radio One‘s ‘Day Six’ with Adam Minter, Jan 12, 2018 [Adam Minter is a columnist with Bloomberg News and the author of the 2013 book Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade ]
‘Climate change’ and ‘global warming’ are disappearing from U.S. government websites, by Umair Irfan, VOX News, Jan 11, 2018
New York City sues oil companies for contributing to global warming, plans $5 billion divestment from fossil fuel-laden pension funds, Reuters, Jan 10, 2018
[There is a large dose of grandstanding involved when municipal governments wage lawsuits against the oil companies for global warming. Capitalist governments, too, are enablers of the gluttony and excess which is the central cause of the global warming emergency. Unlike lawsuits against tobacco companies in the past (for which no one in the industry ever went to jail), there is no ‘quick fix’ to global warming. There is nothing akin to easy measures such as quitting smoking or banning tobacco advertising; only a difficult drawdown of all the waste and excess, whether powered by fossil fuels or ‘alternative energies’.
For a positive spin on the New York City lawsuit/divest decision, read: As New York City declares war on the oil industry, the politically impossible suddenly seems possible, by Naomi Klein, The Intercept, Jan 11, 2018 ‘… Regular humans may not be more powerful than the fossil fuel companies now — but we might be soon.’
And further related: ‘Eco-friendly’ de Blasio won’t give up SUV rides to gym, by Rich Calder, New York Post, June 2, 2017
17 dead and 17 still missing from mudslides after heavy rain hit areas of fire-ravaged southern California, LA Times, Jan 9, 2018 (with video; casualty figures updated on Jan 10) [Only 10-15 per cent of 23,000 residents of Santa Barbara County heeded calls on January 8 to voluntarily evacuate as heavy rains approached (Reuters).]
Deadly irukandji jellyfish drifting south as sea temperatures rise, threatening Australia’s huge Gold Coast tourism industry, Australian Associated Press, Jan 9, 2018 [Scientists have warned for years of the likely expansion of the irukandji jellyfish range as ocean temperatures rise. The tourism industry says ‘not to worry’.] Related: Irukandji jellyfish on the move down Queensland’s coast, expert says; four people stung off Fraser Island, ABC.net.au, Dec 29, 2017
In talks to form new coalition government, German parties agree that 2020 emissions reductions can’t be reached, Quartz, Jan 9, 2018 All sides agree, according to the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND) news agency, that the country’s 2007 climate target of reducing CO2 levels by 40% from their 1990 levels is un-doable.
At $306 billion, U.S. bill for 2017 natural disasters smashes record, Associated Press, Jan 8, 2018
… The US had 16 disasters last year with damage exceeding a billion dollars, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report. That ties 2011 for the number of billion-dollar disasters, but the total cost blew past the previous record of $215 billion in 2005…
Related: Billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the United States, 1980-2017, by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Below is a historical table of U.S. Billion-dollar disaster events, summaries, report links and statistics for the 1980–2017 period of record.
Climate change is suffocating large parts of the ocean, by Craig Welch, National Geographic, Jan 4, 2018 A new study published in Science Magazine says warming has reduced the oxygen levels in large swaths of the deep ocean, threatening marine life around the world.
… The world’s oceans have lost about two per cent of their oxygen in just 50 years, while the amount of water that’s completely free of oxygen has increased fourfold, according to the new study.
Climate change may have helped spark Iran’s protests, by Scott Waldman, Scientific American, Jan 8, 2018
Wildlife interrupted: How fencing is threatening Africa’s wildlife by blocking migrations, by Penny van Oosterzee, New Scientist, Dec 6, 2017 Read the article in pdf here: Wildlife interrupted. ‘Since 1977, there has been a precipitous decline in wildlife, averaging 70 per cent across Kenya.’
Related: Mending fences in Australia in the war between dingoes and sheep, by Serena Solomon, New York Times, Jan 7, 2018
… “The dingo fence is probably the most extreme length undertaken by any country in the world to exclude a predator from inhabiting or recolonizing areas where they once used to roam free,” Dr. Newsome said. The barrier also disrupts the migration of many animal species and genetically isolates their populations.
Snowstorm gone in Atlantic N. America but cold will stick around through weekend, by Philip Marcelo, Associated Press, Jan 5, 2018
* Snowstorm floods Boston Harbor and coastal Massachusetts streets with icy water, ABC News, Jan 4, 2018
* What is this ‘bomb cyclone’ threatening the U.S.?, by Annie Sneed, Scientific American, Jan 3, 2018 Some people have been comparing this storm with a hurricane—is that fair? In some ways. The structure is different, and the energy source is different, so you’re going to have considerable differences in what the impacts are. But it’s the same size as a hurricane, and it’s got similar sorts of winds…
Trump opens vast waters to offshore drilling, by Brittany Patterson and Zack Colman, Scientific American, Jan 5, 2018
In a striking about-face, the Interior Department announced yesterday that it wants to allow drilling in nearly all U.S. waters, the single largest expansion of offshore oil and gas leasing ever proposed by the federal government… [The decision reverses limits put in place in 2016 in the dying days of President Barak Obama’s term, responding in part to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil drilling disaster (Wikipedia) in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. In September 2014, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that BP was primarily responsible for the oil spill because of its gross negligence and reckless conduct. In July 2015, BP agreed to pay $18.7 billion in fines, the largest corporate settlement in U.S. history.]
The year climate change began to spin out of control, by James Temple, senior editor, MIT Technology Review, Jan 4, 2018
… Despite all our climate policies, global accords, solar advances, wind farms, hybrid cars, and Teslas, greenhouse-gas emissions are still moving in the wrong direction. As long as we’re emitting any at all, we’re only making the problem worse.
Here are the five most worrisome climate developments we saw in 2017…
Scientists can now blame individual natural disasters on climate change, by Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, Jan 2, 2018
Extreme event attribution is one of the most rapidly expanding areas of climate science
Seventh year in a row for record global vehicle sales, CNN Money, Jan 3, 2018
[Global auto sales in 2017 are expected to hit a record 94.5 million vehicles. In the U.S., annual sales fell 1.8% to 17.2 million vehicles, coming off 2016’s record year. The proportion of auto versus light truck (including SUV) sales in the U.S. is app. 50-50. Best seller is the Ford F-series pickup truck behemoth.]
Canada records record annual vehicle sales in 2017, Financial Post (Postmedia), Jan 3, 2018
[For the first time in Canada , sales of gas guzzling pickup trucks and SUVs exceeded auto sales. The highest selling vehicle is the Ford F-series pickup truck.]
Sea level rise projections double, painting terrifying picture for next generation, by Dahr Jamail, Truthout.org, Jan 2, 2018
In a consistent trend, future projections of an increase in the overall global temperature, as well increases in sea level rise, continue to outpace previous worst-case scenarios. This is due to a simple equation: There is already enough CO2 in the atmosphere and heat absorbed into the planet’s oceans that even if we stopped emitting carbon completely right now, the planet would continue to experience and display dramatic impacts from anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) for thousands of years.
The second part of that equation is this: There is simply nothing to indicate that national governments around the world are willing to take the immediate, radical steps that would be necessary to begin to seriously mitigate these impacts…
On its 100th birthday in 1959, Edward Teller warned the oil industry about global warming, by Benjamin Franta, The Guardian, Jan 1, 2018
American oil’s awareness of global warming – and its conspiracy of silence, deceit, and obstruction – goes further than any one company. It extends beyond (though includes) ExxonMobil. The industry is implicated to its core by the history of its largest representative, the American Petroleum Institute…
Pesticides: The unsung epidemic, by Robert Hunziker, CounterPunch, Jan 1, 2018
Oil giants invest $180 billion in plastics, propelling oceans toward ‘near-permanent’ pollution, by Julia Conley, Common Dreams, Dec 31, 2017
Climate change will displace millions in coming decades. Nations should prepare now to help them, by Gulrez Shah Azhar, The Conversation, Dec 19, 2017 (the writer is a former physician and health researcher in India)
By the middle of the 21st century, experts estimate that climate change is likely to displace between 150 and 300 million people.
… Climate migration is already happening. Every year desertification in Mexico’s drylands forces 700,000 people to relocate. Cyclones have displaced thousands from Tuvalu in the South Pacific and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean.
… Between 2008 and 2015, an average of 26.4 million people per year were displaced by climate- or weather-related disasters, according to the United Nations. And the science of climate change indicates that these trends are likely to get worse.
Toasted — California’s 2017 foreshadowing of the monster fires to come. Part one: The story of how global warming turned California into toast, by Robert Fanney, published on his RobertScribbler, Dec 22, 2017
Also on RobertScribbler:
Australia’s hot ocean blob fuels record heat, extreme weather, risk to coral reefs, Dec 21, 2017
What’s killing the world’s bees? New study names fungicides as key culprit, RT.com, Dec 30, 2017
Scientists have found what they believe to be the strongest factor leading to the worryingly steep decline of bumblebees… fungicides.
The discovery has now been added to the growing list of threats that could potentially lead to the extinction of the essential pollinators. The revelation that common fungicides are having the strongest impact on the insects came as a surprise, as they typically affect mold and mildew but appear to be killing bees by making them more susceptible to the nosema parasite or by exacerbating the toxicity of other pesticides.
The discovery was made during a landscape-scale study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B…
Related: Alarming link between fungicides and bee declines revealed, by Damian Carrington, environment editor, The Guardian (anti-Russia UK daily), Dec 29, 2017
The federal government says it has protected almost 8% of Canada’s oceans. Here’s why its math is questionable, by Kate Allen, science and technology reporter, Toronto Star, Dec 29, 2017
Trump tweets about the bitter cold and global warming, confusing weather and climate, by Pam Wright, The Weather Channel, Dec 29, 2017
… NASA makes this distinction: “weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere ‘behaves’ over relatively long periods of time.”
Catastrohic year for right whales in Atlantic Ocean waters of U.S. and Canada as species is threatened with extinction, feature article by Kate Allen, science and technology reporter, Toronto Star, Dec 29, 2017
… “What is required now is bold and swift action to reduce fishing gear entanglements and ship strikes. We urge you to take seriously the warning signs of an impending extinction.”— Open letter to the Canadian government by the 17 U.S. and Canadian scientists sitting on the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium
[But what can be expected of a government captive of the very industries that have been killing off marine species for decades?]
The ten most important U.S. climate stories in 2017, by Abbey Dufoe, Climate Central, Dec 27, 2017
[The ten stories are: hurricanes, sea-level rise science, U.S. government, Tesla Corporation, wildfires, third hottest year on record, transportation pollution, heat waves.]
Related: 2017 was the year of the billion-dollar disaster in the United States, Climate Central, Dec 20, 2017
Louisiana, sinking fast, prepares to empty out its coastal plain, by Christopher Flavelle, Bloomberg News, Dec 22, 2017
Louisiana is finalizing a plan to move thousands of people from areas threatened by the rising Gulf of Mexico, effectively declaring uninhabitable a coastal area larger than Delaware…
The draft plan, a portion of which was obtained by Bloomberg News, is part of a state initiative funded by the federal government to help Louisiana plan for the effects of coastal erosion. That erosion is happening faster in Louisiana than anywhere in the U.S., due to a mix of rising seas and sinking land caused in part by oil and gas extraction. State officials say they hope the program, called Louisiana Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments, or LA SAFE, becomes a model for coastal areas around the country and the world threatened by climate change…
Humidity is the real heatwave threat, by Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, Dec 24, 2017
U.S. researchers report in the journal Environmental Research Letters that during this century, the drasticeffects of high humidity in many areas will increase significantly. At times, the effects may overtake people’s ability to work outdoors or, in some cases, even to survive.
Health and economies would suffer, especially in regions where people work outside and have little access to air conditioning. Potentially affected regions include large swathes of the already muggy south-eastern United States; the Amazon; western and central Africa; southern areas of the Middle East, including the Arabian peninsula; northern India; and eastern China…
How Puerto Rico’s environmental crisis turned into a human rights disaster, by Yessenia Funes, Earther.com, Dec 25, 2017
* Dark, desperate Christmas without power in Puerto Rico, by Danica Coto, NBC Miami, Dec 25, 2017 … A study conducted Dec. 11 by a group of local engineers estimated roughly 50 percent of the island’s 3.3 million people remained without power. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said it likely won’t be until May that all of Puerto Rico is electrified.
* Calculating the death toll of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, by Odalis Garcia, WLRN.org, Dec 26, 2017 … About 4,700 people died in Puerto Rico in September and October of 2016. A year later, 5,800 people died over that same two-month stretch. Could the difference of 1,100 deaths been caused by Hurricane Maria? According to the island’s official count, the storm killed 62 people. The Center for Investigative Journalism looked at government data on deaths, trying to get a handle on Maria’s death toll on the island…
$180 billion investment in plastic factories feeds global packaging binge, by Matthew Taylor, The Guardian, Dec 26, 2017
Colossal funding in manufacturing plants by fossil fuel companies will increase plastic production by 40%, risking permanent pollution of the earth
The global plastic binge which is already causing widespread damage to oceans, habitats and food chains, is set to increase dramatically over the next 10 years after multibillion dollar investments in a new generation of plastics plants in the US.
* World’s largest plastics plant planned for Texas coast rings alarm bells, The Guardian, Dec 26, 2017
* I was an Amazon delivery driver: What it’s like to work in the tech giant’s citizen package brigade, by Taylor Soper, Geek Wire, Dec 24, 2017
* Life with an Amazon ‘Echo’ consumerism-run-amok device, Slate.com, Dec 24, 2017
* Amazon just bought a smart-doorbell company—probably to let more packages inside, Fast Company, Dec 22, 2017
Climate disruption rings in the ‘new Arctic’, says NOAA’s ‘Arctic Report Card 2017’, by Dahr Jamail, Truthout.org, Dec 21, 2017
Background: Arctic Report Card 2017, published in December 2017 by the Arctic Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA–U.S. Dept of Commerce) (NOAA press release, Dec 12, 2017) Despite relatively cool summer temperatures, observations in 2017 continue to indicate that the Arctic environmental system has reached a ‘new normal’, characterized by long-term losses in the extent and thickness of the sea ice cover, the extent and duration of the winter snow cover and the mass of ice in the Greenland Ice Sheet and Arctic glaciers, and warming sea surface and permafrost temperatures.
About the Arctic Report Card: ARC 2017 contains 12 contributions (we call them essays) prepared by an international team of 85 researchers from 12 different countries. As in previous years, independent peer review of ARC 2017 was organized by the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) of the Arctic Council…
How natural resource plunder in Canada is driving Santa’s reindeer (caribou) toward extinction, by Emma Gilchrist, DeSmog Canada, Dec 22, 2017
CN to buy 200 locomotives from GE as freight volumes surge, by Eric Atkins, rail industry reporter, The Globe and Mail, Dec 22, 2017 [It’s full steam ahead on the capitalist train ride to ecological destruction]:
Canadian National Railway Co. is spending about $600-million (U.S.) to buy 200 locomotives amid a surge in North American freight volumes… The announcement comes as CN faces congestion and delays on its network that it attributes to a sharp rise in freight.
CN’s sales and carloads rose by 11 per cent in the first nine months of 2017, led by a 28-per-cent rise in metals and minerals and a 15-per-cent jump in containers… CN said its frac sand business has posted a year-to-date increase of more than 100 per cent, while coal has risen by 41 per cent. Autos are up by 18 per cent, as measured by revenue per tonne-mile.
Before the deal, CN’s locomotive fleet numbered 2,300. CN’s 31,000-kilometre network reaches from coast to coast in Canada and the Gulf of Mexico. The company employs 23,000 people.
Related: CN Rail moves ahead with bitumen pellet project amid pipeline shortage, by Eric Atkins, rail industry reporter, The Globe and Mail, Dec 21, 2017
Canadian National Railway Co. is pushing ahead with a project to solidify and ship bitumen in soap-bar-shaped chunk in a bid to open overseas markets for the oil sands product…
One hurdle CN faces is the ban on oil tankers along British Columbia’s northern coast, including the port of Prince Rupert. CN said it is confident shipping the bitumen chunks will be permitted because they are designed to float and withstand impact, reducing environmental risks and simplifying cleanup in a spill.
Delphine Denis, a spokeswoman for federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau, said the government is awaiting results of testing in water before deciding if the product is exempt from the shipping ban intended to protect the environment from a spill…
Jakarta is sinking so fast it could end up under water, by Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, Dec 21, 2017
With climate change, the Java Sea is rising and weather here is becoming more extreme. Earlier this month another freakish storm briefly turned Jakarta’s streets into rivers and brought this vast area of nearly 30 million residents to a virtual halt.
… But global warming turned out not to be the only culprit behind the historic floods that overran Rasdiono’s bodega and much of the rest of Jakarta in 2007. The problem, it turned out, was that the city itself is sinking.
In fact, Jakarta is sinking faster than any other big city on the planet, faster, even, than climate change is causing the sea to rise — so surreally fast that rivers sometimes flow upstream, ordinary rains regularly swamp neighborhoods and buildings slowly disappear underground, swallowed by the earth. The main cause: Jakartans are digging illegal wells, drip by drip draining the underground aquifers on which the city rests — like deflating a giant cushion underneath it. About 40 per cent of Jakarta now lies below sea level. Coastal districts, like Muara Baru, near the Blessed Bodega, have sunk as much as 14 feet in recent years…
The Theresa May government’s nuclear obsession in Britain is a betrayal of democracy, by Oliver Tickell, The Ecologist, Dec 19, 2017
Tesla’s electric trucks are great but they won’t save the planet, by Michael Le Page, New Scientist (UK weekly), print edition of Nov 25, 2017. Read the article at this attachment: Electric trucks won’t save the planet, Nov 2017
The electric trucks being unveiled by Tesla and co will speed the transition from fossil fuels. But to cut transport emissions, we must curb road freight too.
Why Branko Milanovic is wrong about de-growth, by Jason Hinkel, published on his blog on Nov 19, 2017
Puerto Rico won’t have full power back until May — eight months after Hurricane Maria hit, Buzzfeed, Dec 20, 2017
Pesticides linked to declining bee populations also threaten birds and small mammals, by Mike Ludwig, Truthout, Dec 19, 2017
… The Environmental Protection Agency released preliminary scientific assessments of four chemicals from the neonicotinoid or “neonic” class of insecticides on December 15 as part of an ongoing review that environmentalists and farmers are watching closely.
Pesticides even more harmful to bees than previously thought, according to new study, by Josh Gabbatiss, science correspondent, The Independent, Dec 19, 2017
Low nutrient diets resulting from intensive agriculture make insects even more vulnerable to the harmful effects of neonicotinoid chemicals. Study results were published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
Pesticide suicide, by Robert Hunziker, CounterPunch, Dec 18, 2017
Carbon loophole: Why is burning of wood for power counted as green energy?, by Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360, Dec 19, 2017
… The forests of North Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi — as well as those in Europe — are being destroyed to sustain a European fantasy about renewable energy. And with many power plants in Europe and elsewhere starting to replace coal with wood, the question of who is right is becoming ever more important.
Since 2009, the 28 nations of the European Union have embarked on a dramatic switch to generating power from renewable energy. While most of the good-news headlines have been about the rise of wind and solar, most of the new “green” power has actually come from burning wood in converted coal power stations. Wood burning is booming from Britain to Romania.
… In September, some 200 scientists wrote to the EU insisting that “bioenergy [from forest biomass] is not carbon-neutral” and calling for tighter rules to protect forests and their carbon. Yet just a month later, EU ministers rubber-stamped the existing carbon accounting rules, reaffirming that the burning of wood pellets is renewable energy…
[The report goes on to track illegal logging in European forests, often abetted by EU funding for expanded roads.]
Related: Air pollution blamed for 500,000 early deaths in Europe in 2014, by Andy Coghlan, New Scientist, Oct 12, 2017
Filthy air killed half a million people in Europe prematurely in 2014. So says a report on air quality from the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen, Denmark. “Air pollution is the single largest environmental health risk in Europe,” says the EEA.
By far the biggest killer was PM2.5, the soup of tiny particles measuring 2.5 micrometres across or less. These claimed an estimated 428,000 premature deaths across the 41 European countries tracked in 2014. The main source, contributing 57 per cent of PM2.5 emissions in 2015, was domestic wood burning, especially in eastern Europe…
‘Transit’ serving urban sprawl: David Suzuki Foundation presses for road and transit plan that will further Vancouver region’s urban sprawl, report in Vancouver Sun, Dec 19, 2017
… The [regional government] plan has three phases and involves some major investments, including the replacement of the Pattullo Bridge, a light rail line south of the Fraser, extending the Millennium SkyTrain line down Broadway in Vancouver, and upgrades to the existing SkyTrain system.
[The Patullo Bridge is the fourth largest by vehicle volume of the eight bridges and one tunnel which cross the Fraser River in the Vancouver region. Altogether, these traffic crossings carry more than half a million vehicles during weekdays. Opened in 1937 as the first traffic bridge across the Fraser, the Patullo Bridge spills into the city of New Westminster whose streets are already over capacity with traffic volume. The Surrey light-rail and the Vancouver Broadway Ave skytrain proposals, each costing billions of dollars, would serve the de facto urban sprawl which has been built by the real estate industry during the past decade in Surrey and points east and on the grounds of the University of British Columbia.
[The real estate industry and the Port of Vancouver (a federal government corporation) are also pressing to replace the George Massey Tunnel with a bridge to carry expanded car and truck volumes. The tunnel opened in 1959; it feeds the urban sprawl south of Vancouver city and connects to U.S. Interstate 5 highway to Seattle. None of the ten major traffic bridges and one tunnel in the Vancouver region is tolled.]
World’s oceans drowning in micro plastics, by Larry Pynn, Vancouver Sun, Dec 16, 2017
… The waters lapping [Vancouver’s Sunset Beach] contained 1,017 microplastic fibres and fragments per cubic metre of sea water. The size ranged from two to 160 microns in width and 80 microns to 2.9 millimetres in length. That’s more than 1,000 bits of microplastic per cubic metre that have the potential to be taken up in the food chain.
The lab found evidence of polyvinyl acetate, polyacrylonitrile, polyester, polyamide, nylon, and several man-made mineral, modified-cellulose and glass fibres with likely links to rayon.
Earlier research showed a mean of 3,210 particles per cubic metre of water in the Strait of Georgia, 1,710 on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and 279 in offshore waters of the open Northeast Pacific. Studies of samples from Queen Charlotte Sound off northeastern Vancouver Island recorded a mean 7,630 particles per cubic metre…
Nebraska regulators deny TransCanada request on Keystone XL route, by Kevin O’Hanlon, Reuters, Dec 19, 2017
LINCOLN, Nebraska – Nebraska regulators on Tuesday denied TransCanada Corp’s request to amend its route application for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline through the U.S. state, a potential setback for the company as it seeks to head off legal challenges…
OECD says Canada’s carbon price is overly complex, difficult to implement, by Mia Robinson, The Canadian Press, Dec 19, 2017
Canada’s decentralized approach to putting a price on pollution is overly complex and will be difficult to implement, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development says in a new report…
The report finds Canada lags behind other OECD nations in the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills and is the second-most carbon and energy-intensive economy within the OECD…
Hypocrisy rules: British coal still burning abroad despite government push for global ban, report by Susanna Twidale and Barbara Lewis, Reuters, Dec 18, 2017
Britain [along with Canada] led calls for an end to coal-fired power generation at United Nations climate talks in Bonn last month, but at the same time British companies are active in coal projects around the world, often with government help.
* Canada and UK form alliance to phase out coal to combat climate change, Canadian Press, Nov 16, 2017
* On human rights and climate change, Justin Trudeau’s actions don’t match his talk, by Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star, Nov 14, 2017
… The former Conservative government of Stephen Harper came up with a plan to phase out most coal-fired generation. The Trudeau government accelerated it. Ontario has closed its coal-fired plants and Alberta has promised to do the same. But Canada is not phasing out coal.
First, the federal government plans to exempt coal-fired generating plants that are able to reduce their emissions significantly through new technologies, such as carbon capture and storage. This is perilously close to the notion of clean coal that Trump is mocked for discussing. Second, Canada continues to mine and export coal for other countries to burn. In 2015, it exported more than 30 million tonnes, mainly to Asian steelmaking plants.
All of which is to say that [Environment Minister Catherine] McKenna’s crusade against coal, while welcome, isn’t exactly as advertised…
‘This fraud must stop’: How a green Norwegian company is using climate change to exploit Ugandan villages, by D. Amari Jackson, Atlanta Black Star, Dec 18, 2017
Related: The Darker Side of Green: Plantation Forestry and Carbon Violence in Uganda, press release announcing publication of 21-page report by the Oakland Institute, Nov 3, 2014
‘A different dimension of loss’: Inside the great insect die-off, by Jacob Mikanowski, The Guardian, Dec 14, 2017
Scientists have identified two million species of living things. No one knows how many more are out there, and tens of thousands may be vanishing before we have even had a chance to encounter them.
Related: Insectageddon: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown, by George Monbiot, The Guardian, Oct 20, 2017
Fossil fuels are king of U.S. electricity generation
The three largest sources of electricity production in the U.S. in September 2017 were:
fossil fuels 63%
conventional hydro-electricity 8%
From a July 2016 Energy Information Agency report:
Three fossil fuels—petroleum, natural gas, and coal—have provided more than 80% of total U.S. energy consumption for more than 100 years. In 2015, fossil fuels made up 81.5% of total U.S. energy consumption, the lowest fossil fuel share in the past century. In EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2016 Reference case projections, which reflect current laws and policies, that percentage declines to 76.6% by 2040. Policy changes or technology breakthroughs that go beyond the trend improvements included in the Reference case could significantly change that projection.
‘Shipocalypse Now’: How e-commerce is drowing the world in packaging, delivery truck traffic and emissions, and aircraft emissions, radio documentary on CBC Radio One’s ‘Sunday Edition’ (34 minutes), Dec 17, 2017
‘By the year 2025, approximately 25 per cent of grocery shopping in developed countries will be done online.’
Huge ‘Thomas’ fire north of LA surges as strong winds return, Associated Press, Dec 16, 2017
Some forests aren’t growing back after wildfires, research finds, by Emily Chung, CBC News, Dec 12, 2017
… The new U.S. study, study published today in the journal Ecology Letters, looked at 1,500 forest sites affected by 52 wildfires in five states in the U.S. Rockies between 1985 and 2015. It found overall decreases in the amount of tree regrowth since 2000 compared to before 2000 due to warmer, drier conditions…
The world’s largest cruise ship and its supersized pollution problem, by John Vidal, The Guardian, May 21, 2016
As ‘Harmony of the Seas’ sets sail from Southampton docks on Sunday she will leave behind a trail of pollution – a toxic problem that is growing as the cruise industry and its ships get ever bigger. (This article is the subject of a legal complaint made on behalf of Royal Caribbean.)
The big bad fix: The case against climate geoengineering, report by ETC Group, Biofuelwatch and Heinrich Böll Foundation, released on Dec 6, 2017 (80 pages)
‘The Big Bad Fix – The Case Against Climate Geoengineering’, a report released today [Dec 6, 2017] by ETC Group, Biofuelwatch and Heinrich Böll Foundation, warns that geoengineering (the large-scale manipulation of the climate) is gaining acceptance as a would-be technological fix for climate change in key emitting countries, as these countries refuse to break away from their fossil-fueled economies…
Although considered reckless and unacceptable by many scientific and political experts, geoengineering is now increasingly being pushed into the mainstream of climate policy debates, where it creates the illusion of a technological shortcut to manage the symptoms of climate change without addressing its root causes…
Bill McKibben sees hope that capitalism will rescue humanity from the global warming emergency it has caused, op-ed commentary by Bill McKibben, published in the New York Times, Dec 14, 2017
Something big is starting to shift. After years of effort from activists, there are signs that the world’s financial community is finally rousing itself in the fight against global warming… Finance, not politics, may turn out to be the soft underbelly of the climate monster.
[Bill McKibben is the founder of 350.org. A critique of his faith in capitalism’s capacity to shift from ‘fossil fuel capitalism to ‘alternative energy capitalism’ and thereby drastically reduce emissions (a view shared by his colleague Naomi Klein) was published here in 2016: Clean, green, class war: Bill McKibben’s shortsighted ‘war on climate change’, by Elliot Sperber, CounterPunch, Aug 22, 2016 Excerpt:
…While the severity of the catastrophes attending climate change are difficult to overstate, and are no doubt already bombarding us, “the war on climate change” that Bill McKibben proposes does not, however, amount to much more than a proposal to reform (and continue) an other, far less openly discussed, war – i.e., class war. This becomes clear as soon as McKibben identifies his war on climate change’s enemy as the fossil fuel industry – rather than the political economic system designed to exact, extract, and exploit resources (and to reinvest its gains into exacting, extracting, and exploiting more resources, ad mortem). Abetted by the military (the largest polluter on the planet), the laws, rules and institutions governing this society (rather than the fossil fuel industry alone) compel people the world over to perpetrate unprecedented levels of violence against rain forests, rivers, oceans, and human and non-human animals alike, just to survive…]
Already on the brink, North Atlantic right whales are pushed closer to the edge, by Deborah Cramer, YaleEnvironment360, Dec 7, 2017
North Atlantic right whales, decimated by centuries of whaling, had staged a tentative comeback in recent decades. But the whales’ recovery is now imperiled by collisions with ships and entanglement with fishing lines — threats that could be mitigated with long-overdue controls.
‘Apocalyptic’ melting transpires in Antarctica as Earth wraps up a scorching year, by Dahr Jamail, Truthout.org, Dec 4, 2017 (this is the latest in Dahr Jamail’s monthly ‘Climate Distruption Dispathes’ in Truthout.org)
Beware the Green corporate scam: The ‘100 per cent renewable’ façade, by José Madero, CounterPunch, Dec 8, 2017 (José Madero is a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering and member of the Graduate Workers Union at Washington University in St. Louis)
More evacuations as California wildfires rage in and around Los Angeles, LA Times, Dec 7, 2017
Fire has burned some 36,000 hectares (90,000 acres) north and east of Los Angeles since December 4, driven by powerful Santa Ana winds. Tens of thousands of residents in and around San Bernadino and Ventura have evacuated their homes.
* California will burn until it rains — and climate change may keep future rains away, by Rachel Becker, The Verge, Dec 6, 2017
* Insurance claims from Oct 2017 wildfires in northern California rise to $9 billion, SF Gate, Dec 6, 2017
The Oct 2017 blazes destroyed more than 5,000 homes and nearly 1,000 businesses across six counties, according to state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones’s office. Thousands more were damaged, as were other buildings, barns and cars, resulting in 25,979 total claims…
* Climate change already costs us all money, and it’s going to get worse, by John Timmer, ARS Technica, Dec 6, 2017
Columbia University’s Earth Institute hosted a panel on December 5 that was meant to focus on an issue we’re likely to be facing with increasing frequency: the need to move entire communities that are no longer viable due to rising seas or altered weather. But the discussion ended up shifting to how people in at-risk locations aren’t moving, and the entire governmental structure in the U.S. is focused on keeping them right where they are. As a result, the entire U.S. population is already paying for climate change…
UN environment chief warns ‘we’re facing an ocean Armageddon’, CBS News, Tuesday, Dec 5, 2017
In Nairobi, Kenya, a U.N. environmental summit opened Monday. The goal: to restore a healthy ocean. The U.N. Environment Assembly (UNEA) began with 7,000 delegates from around the world and 100 ministers, making it the highest level decision-making body on the environment… There is a push to move toward a legal treaty banning plastic waste from entering the sea, in effect, a “zero tolerance” policy…
Related: Fragile return of cod stocks to water off Newfoundland threatened by resumption of overfishing, feature article by Jessica Leeder, in Globe and Mail, Dec 3, 2017 A quarter-century after the waters off Newfoundland were fished clean of cod, the mighty fish is finally making its comeback. But scientists who monitor the fish say there are alarming signs that the stock, still classified as “critical,” is already under too much pressure.
Rising waters: Can a massive barrier save Venice from drowning?, by Jeff Goodell, published on YaleEnvironment360, Dec 5, 2017
A huge barrier designed to protect Venice from sea level rise and storm surges is set to be operational next year. But the project’s engineering limitations and cost overruns are raising questions about the mega-projects that many coastal cities are hoping can save them.
Cancelling the Site C hydroelectric dam in British Columbia will be a tough pill to swallow, but alternatives are harsher, open letter by five former NDP MLAs, published in Globe and Mail, Dec 4, 2017
Related: Prominent NDP members and trade unionists sign open letter to British Columbia premier urging cancellation of Site C hydroelectric dam, report on Market Wire, Nov 30, 2017
Gigantic iceberg disintegrates as concern grows over glacier stability, sea level rise, RobertScribbler, Dec 4, 2017
The stability of a key Antarctic glacier appears to have taken a turn for the worse as a large iceberg that broke off during September has swiftly shattered. Meanwhile, scientists are concerned that the rate of sea level rise could further accelerate in a world forced to rapidly warm by human fossil fuel burning…
Keystone pipeline leak probe identifies damage from 3,000-kg weight commonly used to secure pipelines, Reuters, Dec 4, 2017
A U.S. regulator’s preliminary investigation into the biggest oil pipeline spill this year has raised a red flag that could trigger an extensive and costly inspection of tens of thousands of miles of underground energy lines. The 5,000-barrel leak on TransCanada Corp’s Keystone pipeline on Nov. 16 in South Dakota might have stemmed from damage caused by a weight put in place when it was built in 2008…
[In 2016 in the federally-regulated pipeline system, 42 companies in Canada transported 196 million cubic metres (m3) of oil (1.2 billion barrels) along approximately 18,503 kilometres of oil pipelines. Seventy companies, including the 8 that transport both oil and gas, transported 183 billion cubic metres of natural gas (6.5 trillion cubic feet) along approximately 53,356 kilometres of natural gas pipelines. There have been five pipeline accidents reported to the Transportation Safety Board from Jan-Aug 2017. There were 77 ‘incidents’ during that time. (See figures on accidents and incidents 2011-2017 here. A map of Canada’s oil and gas pipeline network is here.)]
Prominent NDP members and trade unionists sign open letter to British Columbia premier urging cancellation of Site C hydroelectric dam, report on Market Wire, Nov 30, 2017
Unraveling the surprising ecology of dust, by Jim Robbins, published on YaleEnvironment360, Nov 30, 2017
As droughts intensify and development expands, the amount of dust blowing around the earth is increasing, affecting everything from mountain snowmelt to the spread of disease. Scientists are just beginning to understand the complex dynamics of dust in a warming world.
From record floods to drought in three months: Unusually hot, dry conditions blanket southern U.S., RobertScribbler, Nov 30, 3017
Fewer crops are feeding more people worldwide – and that’s not good, by Kart Zimmerer (Professor of Geography at Pennsylvania State U), published in The Conversation, Nov 28, 2017
Warming pause isn’t over: it never began, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, Nov 28, 2017
Just weeks after one group of scientists officially declared an end to the global warming pause, the so-called hiatus, another group has returned to the argument. They argue that there never was a pause in global warming. There was instead a global misperception that warming slowed between 1998 and 2012, but only because of gaps in the data, in particular from the Arctic, the fastest-warming region of the planet…
Also in Trump’s tax-cut legislation: Opening up oil drilling in Arctic Wildlife Refuge, New York Times, Nov 29, 2017 Related: It started as a tax cut. Now it could change American life, by Peter S. Goodman and Patricia Cohen, New York Times, Nov 29, 2017
A perfect storm: 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria and the future of the Caribbean, essay by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, published in New York Review of Books, Nov 23, 2017 issue. Read a pdf copy by clicking here: A perfect storm, essay by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro in NYRB, Nov 2017.
… This October 2017, Columbus Day [October 8] found not a few of the “Indies” into which Columbus bumped devastated by the most damaging hurricane season on record…
The long ecological revolution, by John Bellamy Foster, Monthly Review, Nov 2017 (Vol 69, #6), online here
…In these dire circumstances, it is dispiriting but not altogether surprising that some self-styled socialists have jumped on the ecomodernist bandwagon, arguing against most ecologists and ecosocialists that what is required to address climate change and environmental problems as a whole is simply technological change, coupled with progressive redistribution of resources. Here again, the Earth System crisis is said not to demand fundamental changes in social relations and in the human metabolism with nature…
Two First Nations in Alberta join tar sands storage facility project with $500 million investment, CBC News, Nov 23, 2017
Artificial lights are eating away at dark nights — and that’s not a good thing, LA Times, Nov 22, 2017
Earth is losing its darkness. A new study using satellite data finds that artificially lit surfaces around the world are spreading and growing brighter, producing more light pollution at night. The findings, described in the journal Science Advances, track what researchers called a worrisome trend that has implications for the environment as well as human health…
Artificially lit surface of Earth at night is increasing in radiance and extent, study published in Science Advances, Nov 22, 2017 (nine pages)
From ice apocalypse to mega-thunderstorms, continuing to burn fossil fuels makes the world scary as all hell, by Robert Fanney (Robertscribbler), Nov 24, 2017 (with video of recent, massive calving of Antarctic ice sheet, largest ever filmed)
So I’ve got to say I feel for Eric Holthaus. Here’s a smart guy. Probably a few years younger than me. A meteorologist by degree and a climate journalist by trade. A guy with two kids that, as is clear from his twitter comments, mean all the world to him. And he’s finally gotten to that point in his study of climate change where he’s thrown his hands up and said — this stuff scares the crap out of me, can we please all just do something about it?
For him, as with any of us, the point of existential realization can come through overexposure to a wide range of worsening climate problems. Declining ocean health, rising extreme weather, how much faster we are warming the world up than during the worst hothouse extinction, can all weigh heavily on the heart and mind of any compassionate, feeling person who takes these subjects seriously enough to actually read the science. For Eric, the big deal, and it is a very, very big deal, was sea level rise. Yesterday, Eric penned this seminal article in Grist [Ice apocalypse: Rapid collapse of Antarctic glaciers could flood coastal cities by the end of this century, by Eric Holthaus, published in Grist, Nov 21, 2017] on the issue of ice cliff stability as explored by glacier scientist Robert DeConto…
From the archive: Nuclear power is too risky, by Mark Z. Jacobson, commentary on CNN, Feb 22, 2010
If our nation wants to reduce global warming, air pollution and energy instability, we should invest only in the best energy options. Nuclear energy isn’t one of them.
Every dollar spent on nuclear is one less dollar spent on clean renewable energy and one more dollar spent on making the world a comparatively dirtier and a more dangerous place, because nuclear power and nuclear weapons go hand in hand…
Fukushima darkness, by Robert Hunziker, published in CounterPunch, Nov 21, 2017
The radiation effects of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant triple meltdowns are felt worldwide, whether lodged in sea life or in humans, it cumulates over time. The impact is now slowly grinding away only to show its true colors at some unpredictable date in the future. That’s how radiation works, slow but assuredly destructive
Ice apocalypse: Rapid collapse of Antarctic glaciers could flood coastal cities by the end of this century, by Eric Holthaus, published in Grist, Nov 21, 2017
In a remote region of Antarctica known as Pine Island Bay, 2,500 miles from the tip of South America, two glaciers hold human civilization hostage. Stretching across a frozen plain more than 150 miles long, these glaciers, named Pine Island and Thwaites, have marched steadily for millennia toward the Amundsen Sea, part of the vast Southern Ocean. Further inland, the glaciers widen into a two-mile-thick reserve of ice covering an area the size of Texas. There’s no doubt this ice will melt as the world warms. The vital question is when.
The glaciers of Pine Island Bay are two of the largest and fastest-melting in Antarctica. (A Rolling Stone feature earlier this year dubbed Thwaites “The Doomsday Glacier.”) Together, they act as a plug holding back enough ice to pour 11 feet of sea-level rise into the world’s oceans — an amount that would submerge every coastal city on the planet. For that reason, finding out how fast these glaciers will collapse is one of the most important scientific questions in the world today…
Personal reflections on the 23rd COP in Bonn-Fiji, by Kevin Anderson , published on his Comment on climate website, Nov 17, 2017 . (Kevin Anderson is visiting professor at the Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Sweden; and Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering (MACE) and Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester.)
The government of Newfoundland and Labrador announces public inquiry into $13 billion hydroelectric dam boondoggle, report on CBC News, Nov 20, 2017
[Construction costs of the ‘Muskrat Falls’ hydroelectric dam on the Lower Churchill River in Labrador (Lower Churchill Project) came in at nearly $13 billion, twice its originally estimated cost. Markets in the United States for the electricity on which much of the project was predicated have softened, affected First Nations people opposed the project, and the financial outcome of construction condemns the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to sharply escalating electricity costs for decades to come. As a result of the entire boondoggle, the government of Newfoundland and Labrador has been obliged to convene a public inquiry.
[The Lower Churchill Project (Wikipedia) is an example of what many environmentalists would call ‘clean’, ‘sustainable’, ‘renewable’– pick your term–energy. But when such energy is generated for the purpose of rampant capitalist expansion, there is nothing about it that is ‘green’ or ‘environmentally sustainable’. That is doubly the case when a project happens to violate First Nations rights, as is the case with this one. For that side of this story, listen to a 25-minute interview about The Lower Churchill Project (Muscrat Falls) which was aired on CBC Radio One‘s weekday newsmagazine ‘The Current’ on Nov 21, 2017.]
Related: A tale of three mega-dams, and why Site C in British Columbia could face the axe, by Jonathan Drance, Glenn Cameron and Rachel V. Hutton, The Tyee, Nov 22, 2017 Troubled Muskrat Falls (in Newfoundland) and Keeyask (in Manitoba) projects going ahead, but BC government has more options for Site C.
Climate crisis and managed deindustrialization: Debating alternatives to ecological collapse, essay by Richard Smith, published in Common Dreams, Nov 21, 2017
Coalition in U.S. vows renewed struggle to stop Keystone XL tar sands pipeline after Nebraska gives approval, by Jake Johnson, Common Dreams, Nov 20, 2017
Toronto to spend $45 billion on transit in next 25 years, but three million more cars are projected, too, by Pamela Blais and Marcy Burchfield, urban transportation consultants, Toronto Star, Nov 21, 2017 Background: Another warning of global warming: Record auto and truck sales, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, Oct 4, 2017
October 2017: Earth’s fourth warmest October on record, by Dr. Jeff Masters, published on Weather Underground, Nov 17, 2017
Record emissions in 2017: 41 billion tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide were added to the atmosphere, report on RobertScribbler, Nov 14, 2017
Scientists accused of scaremongering, ‘overheated claims’ with warning to humanity, by Mark Gollom, CBC News, Nov 16, 2017 [There is not a scrap of climate change science reported in this article published by Canada’s state run broadcaster. Rather, the article reverts to the days not so long ago at the CBC when climate delay and distraction was routinely voiced. This article cites the climate science deniers at the Breakthrough Institute.]
Idea by Norway’s sovereign wealth fund to exit oil stocks is ‘shot heard around the world’, by Joe Ryan and Anna Hirtenstein, Bloomberg News, Nov 16, 2017
Related: Divestment by world’s largest wealth fund would be US$2.86B hit to Canadian oil and gas, Financial Post, Nov 16, 2017
A decision by Norway’s trillion-dollar fund to fully divest fossil fuel holdings would mean battered Canadian oil and gas shares could soon be back on the market
Montreal-born scientist says forestry sector in denial about Canada’s disappearing caribou, by Carl Meyer, National Observer, Nov 9, 2017
Montreal-born Mark Hebblewhite, an associate professor at the University of Montana’s wildlife biology program, is the co-author with Daniel Fortin at Université Laval (Quebec City) of a letter, published in the Nov. 10 issue of the peer-reviewed academic journal Science, that takes aim at the forest and energy industries for being ultimately responsible for caribou dying out, and calls on the Trudeau government to “abide by its own environmental laws” to protect the iconic species…
Solar power to rapidly expand, but so too will oil use, says International Energy Agency in ‘World Energy Outloook 2017’, by Yale Environment 360, Nov 14, 2017
Solar power will surge globally in the coming decades, but oil demand will also continue to grow, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. The IEA’s 2017 World Energy Outlook finds that global energy markets will be shaped by four major trends over the next three decades… [Read an extensive summary of the IEA report, with graphs, here. The full report is 782-pages and is available for purchase at the IEA weblink.]
Related: Global carbon pollution rises after three straight flat years, Associated Press, Nov 13, 2017 This year’s increase was mostly spurred by a 3.5 per cent jump in Chinese carbon pollution And, IEA World Energy Outlook 2017 describes ‘A world in transformation’, by Joshua S Hill, Clean Technica, NOv 14, 2017
Climate change denial’s grim fruits: Actual Puerto Rico death toll probably near 500, may climb to over 1,000, by Robert Fanney (RobertScribbler.com), Nov 13, 2017
These ten rivers are responsible for 90 per cent of the plastic in the oceans, by Molly Fosco, published in Seeker, Nov 13, 2017
Over the last six decades, according to one estimate, 9.1 billion tons of plastic has been produced worldwide and 7 billion tons of it has ended up as waste. Much of that waste has infiltrated our oceans. And, according to another estimate, more than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into the sea each year.
Researchers from the Helmholtz-Center for Environmental Research in Germany, think they’ve nailed down a crucial detail about plastic pollution: how it gets into the ocean. And, they found, just 10 rivers account for 90 per cent of the plastics flowing into the seas. Their study is published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology…
Eight are in Asia and two are in Africa. Ranked from the highest amount of plastic waste to the lowest, they are: the Yangtze River, Indus River, Yellow River, Hai He River, Nile River, Ganges River, Pearl River, Amur River, Niger River, and the Mekong River…
Smog chokes Indian capital as emergency measures fail to bring relief, Reuters, Monday, Nov 13, 2017
A thick cloud of toxic smog 10 times the recommended limit enveloped India’s capital, New Delhi, on Monday, as government officials struggled to tackle a public health crisis that is well into its second week…
The Great Smog of Delhi, November 2017, Wikipedia … The current majority of analysis sources are hinting towards colder weather, stagnant winds trapping the various sources of smoke. The primary sources of smoke are stubble burning, lit garbage, road dust, power plants, factories, and vehicles.
People pressure enlivens UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany, by Mitchell Beer, Climate News Network, Nov 10, 2017
… A largely untold story from the first week of this year’s global climate talks – the United Nations climate summit (COP 23) – has been the reality of steady, fairly productive technical work going on behind the scenes, while some observers search in vain for a big, controversial story angle that will catch the attention of audiences around the world.
* Why the post-Paris climate challenge is even harder than we thought, by Fred Pearce, published by Yale University’s YaleEnvironment360 project, Nov 7, 2017
As international negotiators convene in Bonn, they must confront the stark conclusion of a new UN report: The national commitments under the Paris Agreement will not come close to providing the emissions reductions needed to avoid the most severe effects of climate change.
* Less business-as-usual at UN climate talks in Bonn, by Mitchell Beer, Climate News Network, Nov 9, 2017
* ECO is the information bulletin published by Climate News Network during the course of ‘COP 23’, the UN-hosted climate change conference taking place in Bonn, Germany from November 7 to 17, 2017. Also read regular reports on the Climate News Network website.
Climate change related drought bakes the Iberian Peninsula, by Robert Fanney, published on his website RobertsScribbler, Nov 10, 2017 [Note: Robert Fanney is beginning to regulalry serve up on his RobertScribbler website anti-Russia interpretations of currrent events which are not related to the science of global warming. Until now, global warming was the exclusive subject of his very valuable website. He writes in the latest such website posting, “[Paul] Manafort’s pro-Russian lobbying efforts ultimately failed and U.S. sanctions following the Ukraine invasion put a major damper on Russian oil and gas production expansion efforts.” He is referring to the claim by the extreme-right governing regime in Kyiv and its NATO backers that Russia ‘invaded’ Ukraine in 2014. Now there is a science story: Russia was somehow able to ‘invade’ eastern Ukraine while keeping its ‘army’ invisible!]
Reporting on devastation: A Puerto Rican journalist details life after Hurricane Maria, by Omaya Sosa Pascual, Inside Climate News, Nov 10, 2017
As I start to write, I don’t know where to start. So much has happened—and so much has not happened—in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit our island on Sept. 20. The devastation was so massive it left no corner of the island untouched: No electricity, no water, no food, no fuel, no hospitals and no means of communication. It seemed unreal that this could happen in the 21st century. After all, we are an American territory that shares citizenship, currency and a military with the United States…
Breathing Fire: As climate change fuels large wildfires, the pollution they’re releasing is undermining decades of progress in cleaning the air, by John Upton, Climate Central, Nov 7, 2017 (produced through a partnership between Climate Central and Kaiser Health News)
… From Puget Sound to Disneyland and east over the Rockies, Americans have coughed and wheezed, rushed to emergency rooms and shut themselves indoors this year as pollution from wildfires darkened skies and rained soot across the landscape. Even to healthy people, it can make breathing a miserable, chest-heaving experience. To the elderly, the young and the frail, the pollution can be disabling or deadly. Even though the nation has greatly improved air quality over the last 40 years through environmental regulations and technological improvements, the increasing frequency of large wildfires now undermines that progress, releasing copious pollutants that spread far and wide through the air and linger long after the fires are extinguished…
Related: Western wildfires undermining progress on aire pollution, research report by Climate Central, November 2017
Full public inquiry examining health impacts of natural gas fracking and LNG in British Columbia needed, commentary by Dr. Warren Bell and Amy Lubik, published in Vancouver Sun, Nov 10, 2017
Related: BC’s new NDP premier dons hardhat for gas fracking promotional tour across northeast of the province, report in Globe and Mail, Oct 22, 2017
Bankrupt oil companies in Alberta dump $100 million in clean up costs on Orphan Well Association in under two years, by Geoffrey Morgan, Financial Post, Nov 9, 2017
… University of Calgary economist Blake Shaffer recently co-authored a report for the C.D. Howe Institute that pegged reclamation costs for orphan wells in Alberta between $129 million and $257 million using data from 2015/2016. The $100-million tab contained in the AER’s post-Redwater list would be in addition to that estimate.
… This year, the Alberta government provided $235 million to the energy industry to help pay for clean up costs of orphaned wells and the federal government agreed to cover $30 million in interest payments on the loan.
Related: Alberta faces $8.6 billion bill to clean up old oil wells, by Geoffrey Morgan, Financial Post, Sept 27, 2017
CALGARY – There are 155,000 non-productive oil and gas wells sitting idle in Alberta that pose a potential $8.6-billion liability to the energy industry and taxpayers, according to a new C.D. Howe Institute report…
As many as 155,000 oil and gas wells in Alberta, or 34 per cent of all the province’s 450,000 wells, are inactive but have yet to be fully remediated. In addition, the number of orphaned oil and gas wells for which there is no responsible owner has risen from under 100 to over 3,200 in the last five years…
Top-ten most traffic congested cities in the world, Toronto Star, Nov 10, 2017 [as measured by average commuter times) In order: Los Angeles, Moscow, New York, San Francisco, Bogata, Sao Paulo, London, Atlanta, Paris, Miami
Schools closed in Delhi to protect students as Indian gov’t minister calls the city’s toxic air a ‘gas chamber’, India Today, Nov 8, 2017
Scientists warn of ‘ecological Armageddon’ amid waves of heat and climate refugees, by Dahr Jamail, Truthout.org, Oct 30, 2017 [This is the latest of Dahr Jamail’s regular dispatches in Truthout.org.]
The ecosystem is breaking down, by Robert Hunziker, CounterPunch, Nov 6, 2017
Woodland caribou continue to decline acorss Canada as provinces fail to meet protection deadline, CBC News, Oct 31, 2017
… Five years after they were forced to come up with strategies to protect habitat for the boreal caribou, not a single province has met that deadline, according to a federal government progress report released today. The report paints a bleak picture for the animal…
Related: Provinces haven’t stopped boreal caribou’s decline, and Ottawa may have to intervene, report says, by Shawn McCarthy and Ivan Semeniuk, Globe and Mail, Oct 31, 2017
… The range of the boreal caribou extends across the country from Yukon to Labrador, but its forest habitat has been increasingly disturbed by industrial activity such as forestry, mining and oil and gas development, as well as by forest fires, the spread of pests and other impacts of climate change.
Prepare for a world 3°C warmer in 80 years, warns UN report, by Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, Oct 31, 2017
LONDON – Governments should accept that we shall probably be living in a world three degrees C warmer than it is today by the end of this century unless they urgently step up the speed at which they cut greenhouse gases, a United Nations assessment says. The assessment is contained in this year’s edition of the Emissions Gap report, produced by UN Environment and released ahead of next week’s UN climate change conference in the German city of Bonn…
Climate change could force more than a billion people to flee their homes, says major health report by The Lancet, by Andrew Griffin, The Independent, Oct 31, 2017
[‘Countdown on Health and Climate Change’ produced by The Lancet brought together 24 institutions and inter-governmental organisations, including the World Health Organization and World Meteorological Organisation. The 50-page report can be read or downloaded here (free registration to The Lancet required).]
Anti-Russia prejudice creeps into environmental movement. [Robert Fanney of robertscribbler.com fame has published on his website on October 30 an article entirely unrelated to the global warming emergency: ‘Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, agent of the pro-Russia Party of Regions, charged with conspiracy against the United States‘. Fanney writes, “I digress somewhat from the usual climate change related coverage I perform here to explore a matter of extraordinary importance to us all…” It’s good to know that while the climate threat is dire, waging a new cold war against Russia trumps all (pun intended). In passing, the ‘Party of Regions’ was the electoral machine of Ukarinian President Victor Yanukovych, overthrow in the ‘Maidan’ coup of February 2014. It was ‘pro-Russian’ in the same way that the entirety of the official political spectrum in Canada, Britain and France may be described as ‘pro-U.S.’ Judging by reader comments on robertscribbler.com, readers concur with Fanney. He writes prolific replies to reader comments.]
The solution to the climate crisis is in our peasant struggle for food and energy sovereignty!, statement by Via Campesina, Oct 27, 2017.
[This short statement by Via Campesina is issued on the eve of the United Nations conference on climate change to take place in Bonn, Germany from Nov 6 to 17, 2017. The statement cites the “capitalist system” as responsible for the global warming emergency but fails to pinpoint what, exactly, requires correction and change. This is nothing less than ending capitalism’s ruthless expansion dynamic and its waste and excess. These are inherent to capitalism, whether its system is powered by fossil fuels or by green-capitalist ‘alternative’ energies.]
The next United Nations conference on climate change will take place from the 6th to 17th of November in Bonn, Germany 2017 – with Mother Earth heating up dramatically and humanity plagued by unprecedented adverse weather and rising sea levels. The capitalist system, fuelled by the profit greed, is not capable of addressing the current climate crisis…
CO2 levels rose at record rates in 2016, report on Yale Enviornment 360, Oct 30, 2017
Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 rose at record-breaking speed in 2016, 50 per cent faster than the average over the past decade, according to a new report from the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization. CO2 levels hit 403.3 parts per million last year, up from 400.00 ppm in 2015.
Last year’s record rise in CO2 was driven by human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, agriculture and land use change, and deforestation, as well as by a strong El Niño event, which triggered droughts in the tropics and decreased the ability of forests, vegetation, and oceans in those areas to absorb CO2.
The WMO said the abrupt changes to CO2 in the atmosphere witnessed over the past 70 years are “without precedent” and could lead to “severe ecological and economic disruptions.” The last time the earth experienced similar CO2 levels was 3-5 million years ago, when temperatures were two-to-three degrees Celsius hotter and seas were 10-20 meters higher than today, according to the report…
Related: CO2 ‘surges’ to levels not seen for millions of years, by Andy Rowell, Oil Change International, Oct 30, 2017
Climate change might be worse than thought after scientists find major mistake in water temperature readings, by Andrew Griffin, The Independent, Oct 26, 2017
The sea was much colder than previously thought, the study suggests, indicating that climate change is advancing at an unprecedented rate
… The new research suggests that the oceans hundreds of millions of years ago were much cooler than we thought. If true, that means that the global warming we are currently undergoing is unparallelled within the last 100 million years, and far worse than we had previously calculated…
Also on The Independent:
U.S. government agency issues climate change warning as report finds natural disasters cost America $350bn, by Mythili Sampathkumar, Oct 24, 2017
Tide of plastic rubbish discovered floating off idyllic Caribbean island coastline, by Tom Embury-Denni, Oct 24, 2017
Sea levels to rise 1.3m unless coal power ends by 2050, report says, by Michael Slezak, The Guardian, Oct 26, 2016
Coastal cities around the world could be devastated by 1.3m of sea level rise this century unless coal-generated electricity is virtually eliminated by 2050, according to a new paper at the University of Melbourne that combines the latest understanding of Antarctica’s contribution to sea level rise and the latest emissions projection scenarios.
It confirms again that significant sea level rise is inevitable and requires rapid adaptation. But, on a more positive note, the work reveals the majority of that rise – driven by newly recognised processes on Antarctica – could be avoided if the world fulfils its commitment made in Paris to keep global warming to “well below 2C”…
Why does green California pump the dirtiest oil in the U.S.?, by Judith Lewis Mernit, published on Yale Environment 360, Oct 19, 2017
[Greenhouse gas emissions from California’s Midway-Sunset oil field, including downstream emissions (app. half total emissions), are equivalent to the most carbon-intense of Alberta’s tar sands.]
… California is the third largest producer of oil in the United States, behind Texas and North Dakota. But it also means that California — the state that stands at the forefront of climate leadership in the United States and that has pioneered renewable energy standards for utilities and a carbon-market for other polluters — also extracts, refines, and burns some of the dirtiest oil on the planet.
Bananapocalypse: The race to save the world’s most popular fruit, by Paul Tullis, Washington Post, Oct 7, 2017
… An insidious fungus known as fusarium wilt has wiped out tens of thousands of acres of Cavendish plantations in Australia and Southeast Asia over the past decade. And the fungus recently gained a foothold in Africa and the Middle East, hitching a ride on the boots of workers helping to establish new plantations. Scientists say Latin America, the source of virtually all the bananas eaten in the United States, is next.
Another right whale found dead off coast of Massachusetts, by Aly Thomson, The Canadian Press, Oct 24, 2017
Yet another North Atlantic right whale carcass has been discovered, the sixteenth confirmed death of the endangered species this year. The International Fund for Animal Welfare said Tuesday the carcass was found on Nashawena Island, south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts…
Hundreds gathered in Halifax over the weekend for the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium’s annual meeting, where the deaths were described as a dire blow to the endangered species’ survival… Presenters spoke with a renewed sense of urgency to protect the roughly 450 right whales still alive as of 2016, according to the latest population estimate, which does not account for this year’s losses…
Many of the whale deaths have been attributed to vessel strikes and getting tangled in fishing gear.
National Energy Board says new technologies to curb greenhouse-gas emissions insufficient to reduce Canada’s oil and tar sands production, report on Globe and Mail, Oct 25, 2017 [the 90-page NEB report can be accessed here]
Canada’s crude production will continue to grow even if governments impose sharply higher carbon prices and the world adopts new technology designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the National Energy Board says in a report released Thursday.
The country’s fossil-fuel consumption will peak before 2020, but new policies and “disruptive” technologies will be needed to reduce consumption sufficiently to achieve Ottawa’s emissions-reduction targets, the NEB said in its annual outlook on Canada’s energy future…
Related: Canada’s fossil fuel use to peak in 2019, National Energy Board now projects, CBC News, Oct 26, 2017
These U.S. cities are most vulnerable to major coastal flooding and sea level rise, research report by Climate Central, published on Oct 25, 2017
[Top of the list of 20 cities threatened, by population, is New York City, followed by 17 cities in Florida and Charleston SC and Atlantic City NJ.]
Rising seas are flooding Virginia’s naval base and there are no plans to fix it, by Nicholas Kusnetz, Inside Climate News, Oct 25, 2017
Ahead of EU glyphosate vote, Greenpeace demands nothing less than total ban, by Jessica Corbett, staff writer, Common Dreams, Oct 24, 2017
‘Ecological Armageddon’: Warnings from scientists as flying insects disappear, by Jessica Corbett, staff writer, Common Dreams, Oct 19, 2017
A new study published on October 18 reveals that populations of flying insects like bees and butterflies plunged more than 75 per cent in German nature preserves over the past 27 years. The study has scientists calling for further research into probable causes such as climate change and pesticide use, and raising alarms about a potential “ecological Armageddon”.
“Insects make up about two thirds of all life on Earth,” noted report co-author Dave Goulson, a professor at Sussex University in the United Kingdom. “We appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon,” he said. “On current trajectory, our grandchildren will inherit a profoundly impoverished world.”
Goulson was part of a team of European scientists who studied population levels in 63 nature reserves across Germany from 1989 to 2016 by setting up malaise traps that captured more than 1,500 samples of flying insects. They tracked the rapid decline across 96 unique location-year combinations in Germany, which is “representative of Western European low-altitude nature protection areas embedded in a human-dominated landscape,” as they wrote in the peer-reviewed study, published in the journal PLOS ONE…
* Warning of ‘ecological Armageddon’ after dramatic plunge in insect numbers, by Damian Carrington environment editor, The Guardian, Oct 18, 2017
* Insectageddon: Farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown, by George Monbiot, The Guardian, Oct 20, 201 The shocking collapse of insect populations hints at a global ecological meltdown
[George Monbiot writes, “To save ourselves and the rest of the living world, here’s what we need to do…” But his prescription, in his words, is to “put the manufacturers back in their box.” What about displacing the “manufacturers”, ie the climate-wrecking capitalist classes, and forming pro-ecology governments that begin the winding down of all the capitalist waste, excess and ecological destruction? Oh no, that would be too radical. ‘Too radical’ when what is potentially at stake is “global ecological meltdown”? That amounts to surrender.]
The Nature Conservancy is wrong. Planting trees is not equivalent to halting the burning of oil, by Chris Lang, published on REDD Monitor, Oct 20, 2017
NDP gov’t in British Columbia unveils new climate policy advisory council, by Simon Little and Liza Yuzda, CKNW News, Oct 24, 2017
[Following Premier John Horgan’s tour to northwest BC on October 21 promoting natural gas fracking and liquefying for export, his government has appointed a 22-member, environmental advisory council. It will meet quarterly and be co-chaired by Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada, and Marcia Smith, a senior vice-president with Teck Resources. Clean Energy Canada is based at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and promotes green capitalist solutions to the climate crisis–electric automobiles, replacing the grossly excessive production of energy by fossil fuels with grossly excessive production of energy by ‘renewable’ sources such as wind and energy, etc. Teck Resources is Canada’s largest coal extraction company.
[The previous Liberal Party government in BC also appointed a environmental advisory council. It issued a report in October 2015 with 32 recommendations, all of which were ignored by the government. Some members of the ‘team’ went public with its disappointments in May 2016. For a time, the government’s ‘Climate Leadership Team’ served a useful public relations role, including convincing ‘environmentalists’ to join it.]
Alberta oilpatch pollution badly underestimated, by Bob Weber, National Observer, Oct 23, 2017
… In Lloydminster, results from the airb orne tests found the type of heavy oil recovery used in that area released 3.6 times more methane than previously thought. That same heavy oil technique is widely used elsewhere in Alberta, including the Peace River, Cold Lake and Athabasca regions…
Anti-pipeline Gitxsan First Nation angry over BC government’s deal with unelected band chiefs for liquefied nattural gas project in Kitimat, by George Baker, Andrew Kurjata, CBC News, Oct 20, 2016
Members of the Gitxsan First Nation opposed to pipeline development are outraged that nine unelected hereditary chiefs are working on a deal with the province connected to a natural gas pipeline on B.C.’s north coast. The documents were leaked and posted online, prompting an emergency meeting to discuss next steps…
BC gov’t supports LNG project on north coast, by Brent Jang, Globe and Mail, Oct 22, 2017
[Shell’s ‘LNG Canada’ industrial plant in Kitimat would be fed by boosting natural gas fracking in the northeast of the province and constructing a 900 kilometer gas pipeline to the Pacific Ocean coast. A string of LNG projects for BC have been cancelled due to international economic conditions, but the NDP’s love of gas fracking, shared with the previous Liberal Party government, is undeterred. The Green Party opposes LNG but supported a now-dead, bizarre plan to build a tar sands pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat to then feed a multi-billion dollar refinery.]
Fraser Valley homeless population grows faster than Vancouver’s, by Justin McElroy, CBC News, Oct 13, 2017
Pollution causing more deaths worldwide than war or smoking: Lancet Journal, news report by The Associated Press, Oct 20, 2017
Full report: The Lancet Commission on pollution and health, published on Oct 19, 2017, full text is online here, (free registration to The Lancet required)
For decades, pollution and its harmful effects on people’s health, the environment, and the planet have been neglected both by Governments and the international development agenda. Yet, pollution is the largest environmental cause of disease and death in the world today, responsible for an estimated 9 million premature deaths.
The Lancet Commission on pollution and health addresses the full health and economic costs of air, water, and soil pollution. Through analyses of existing and emerging data, the Commission reveals pollution’s severe and underreported contribution to the Global Burden of Disease. It uncovers the economic costs of pollution to low-income and middle-income countries. The Commission will inform key decision makers around the world about the burden that pollution places on health and economic development, and about available cost-effective pollution control solutions and strategies.
Another historic storm: Tropical Storm Ophelia strikes Ireland with hurricane force, Roberts Scribbler, Oct 16, 2017
Warmer than normal ocean temperatures due to human-forced climate change are now enabling major hurricanes to threaten Northern Europe…
‘This is a really big deal’: Canada methane gas emissions from Alberta oil and gas wells far worse than feared, report by Ashifa Kassam, in The Guardian, Oct 18, 2017
The pioneering peer reviewed study, published in Environmental Science & Technology on October 17, used airplane surveys to measure methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure in two regions in Alberta…
The world is going slow on coal, but misinformation is distorting the facts, by Adam Morton, The Guardian, Oct 16, 2017
Background: Fossil fuel expansion crushes renewables, by Barry Saxifrage, The National Observer (Canada), Sept 20, 2017
Australia debates: Does a warming planet really need more coal?, by Jacqueline Williams, New York Times, Oct 14, 2017
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says it’s unfair to assess Energy East tar sands pipeline on downstream environmental impact, by Dean Bennett, Canadian Press, Oct 14, 2017
[Irony abounds amidst the Alberta NDP government’s advocacy of digging up and burning Alberta’s tar sands reserves (the third-largest fossil fuel reserves in the world). The Canadian Press article cited above reports, “The premier said her approach, which includes a carbon tax and capping oilsands [sic] production…” The said “cap” on “oilsands” production is, to be precise, a cap on greenhouse gas emissions from the tar sands. The government has set that at 100 million megatones per year, up from the current, estimated 70 million tonnes. That, in turn, understates the production increases which the government would be happy to boost because the industry is seeking to reduce its per-unit emissions. Of course, neither the industry nor the government have any control over the emissions where the final product is processed and then shipped to consumers and burned. That, as the saying goes, is ‘someone’s else’s problem’.
[The near entirety of Alberta’s tar sands product (called ‘oil sands’ by the industry) is shipped to the United States by pipeline or rail for processing then refining. Some 60 per cent of it is shipped in the form of ‘diluted bitumen’; 40 per cent is ‘upgraded’ in Alberta to what is called ‘synthetic oil’ and then shipped. The first refinery to be built in Canada in three decades is to process bitumen into diesel fuel; the project has become an economic boondoggle, heavily subsidized by the Alberta government.]
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, interview with Paul Hawken, editor of Drawdown (published in 2017), interview published on VOX.com, July 21, 2017
A new book ranks the top 100 solutions to climate change
[Author Paul Hawken defines ‘drawdown’ as “the point in time when greenhouse gas concentrations peak in the atmosphere and begin to go down on a year-to-year basis”. He is the editor of the new book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming. The book lists seven categories of greenhouse gas reduction measures: energy, food, rights for women and girls, buildings and cities, land use, transport, and materials. Each category is quantified as to the potential for greenhouse gas emission reductions. There is also a “coming attractions” category of not-yet-commercialized technologies; they are not included in the scenarios.
[The book does not call into question most of the features of expansionist capitalism. It may be seen as a radical, ‘green capitalist’ manifesto. But it nonetheless presents many vital, scientific insights into the global warming emergency and its potential mitigations.
[In his interview with VOX, Hawken cites “war” as a large contributor to the global warming emergency. He also says “it is simply not true” that 100 per cent renewable energy is a solution to the global warming emergency. He calls that a “scientific howler”.]
California fires burn out of control, New York Times, Oct 10, 2017 90,000 hectares of forest and forest-urban interface have burned across California since wildfires began on Oct 8. Forty five people are recorded dead and hundreds are missing (figures as of October 14).
Related: Raging wildfires bring death and destruction to California’s wine country, LA Times, Oct 10, 2017. Drought and heat, worsened by humans, help fuel California fires, NBC News, Oct 10, 2017. Drone footage shows destruction in Santa Rosa (north of San Francisco), New York Times, Oct 10, 2017. As wildfires continue to burn, 2015 map project by U.S. Forest Service shows expansion of wildland-urban interface, press release and weblink to map and report, by U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Sept 10, 2015
How Trump’s approval of Keystone XL killed the Energy East pipeline project, by Andrew Leach, Globe and Mail, Oct 9, 2017
Conference in Vancouver to discuss Pacific coast Orca whales threatened with extinction, by Terri Theodore, Canadian Press, Oct 9, 2017
Related: The life and death of a right whale on Canada’s Atlantic coast, by Thu Thanh Ha, Globe and Mail, Oct 6, 2017; Report says boat strikes, fishing gear behind right whale deaths in Gulf of St. Lawrence, by Lindsay Jones, Globe and Mail, Oct 5, 2017; The North Atlantic right whale, by World Wildlife Fund Canada. ‘North Atlantic right whales are among the most endangered whales on the planet.’
Canada is failing to protect vanishing caribou herds threatened by natural resource extraction projects in north, report by Shawn McCarty, Globe and Mail, Oct 9, 2017
Canadian government failing to put climate plan into action, environmental watchdog finds, CBC News, Oct 3, 2017
… In a blunt fall audit report tabled in the House of Commons on October 3, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development Julie Gelfand said the government has failed to implement successive emissions-reduction plans, and is not prepared to adapt to the life-threatening, economically devastating impacts of a changing climate.
… The government released the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change in December 2016, which was endorsed by all provinces and territories except Saskatchewan and Manitoba. But instead of presenting a detailed action plan to reach the 2020 target for reducing emissions, Gelfand said the government changed its focus to a new 2030 target…
Why eating grass-fed beef isn’t going to help fight climate change, by Tara Garnett, published in The Conversation, Oct 3, 2017. (Tara Garnett is the lead researcher at the Food Climate Research Network. This article by her introduces a report issued in early October 2017 by the FCRN titled Grazed and Confused‘.)
[According to Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming (edited by Paul Hawken, Penguin, 2017), raising livestock accounts for nearly 15 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions; assessments of direct and indirrect emissions (eg forest clearcutting) pegs it at more than 50 per cent.]
Stark evidence showing a warmer world is sparking more and bigger wildfires, by Nicola Jones, Yale E360, Oct 2, 2017
The increase in forest fires, seen this summer from North America to the Mediterranean to Siberia, is directly linked to climate change, scientists say. And as the world continues to warm, there will be greater risk for fires on nearly every continent. [Nicola Jones is a freelance journalist based in Pemberton, British Columbia and serves as the science journalist in residence at the University of British Columbia.]
Those three per cent of scientific papers that deny climate change? A review found them all flawed, Quartz, Sept 5, 2017
Seventy five per cent of global honey samples found to be contaminated by neonicotinoid pesticides, by John Dyer, The Seeker, Oct 5, 2017, and, Much of the world’s honey laced with pesticides, study finds, by Eric Atkins, Globe and Mail, Oct 5, 2017
Basic economics – not regulation – ended the Energy East pipeline, by Benjamin Dachis, The Globe and Mail, Oct 5, 2017
[Fossil fuel advocates are blaming ‘excessive government regulation’ for TransCanada’s decision to cancel its $10 billion+ plan to build a tar sands export pipeline from Alberta to the Atlantic Ocean port of Saint John, New Brunswick. Heaven forbid that considerations of global warming were involved. No, it was a straight-up business decision, writes an associate director of research at the conservative C.D. Howe Institute.]
and: Five things you need to know about the cancellation of the Energy East oilsands pipeline, DeSmog Canada, Oct 6, 2017
Global demand for meat amounts to ‘appetite for destruction’ says new study, by Julia Conley, staff writer, Common Dreams, Oct 5, 2017
In a study titled Appetite for Destruction, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) revealed on October 5 that humans’ consumption of meat is having a devastating impact on global biodiversity in a way that’s too often considered.
Climate disruption could pose ‘existential threat’ by 2050, latest dispatch by Dahr Jamail, published in his monthly ‘Climate Disruptions’ feature on Truthout.org, Oct 2, 2017
It is time to transform, not just rebuild, in Puerto Rico, by Marisol LeBrón and Hilda Lloréns, Truthout.org, Oct 4, 2017, and: Before Hurricane Maria, forcing Puerto Rico to pay its debt was odious. Now it’s pure cruelty, by Stan Cox and Paul Cox, published on Green Social Thought, Oct 2, 2017
The collateral damage of airport sacrifice zones in the United States, by Kit Norton, Truthout.org, Oct 5, 2017
Children who live in neighborhoods bordering the Boston airport are four times more likely to experience shortness of breath and show signs of asthma and lung disease.
James Hansen’s Generation IV nuclear advocacy: a deconstruction of nuclear fallacies and fantasies, by Dr Jim Green, abridged version published in The Ecologist, Oct 3, 2017. (The full version of the article is published in the Nuclear Monitor newsletter.)
TransCanada shelves its $10 billion+ idea of 4,000 km, ‘Energy East’ tar sands export pipeline from Alberta to Atlantic Ocean, CBC News, Oct 5, 2017
BC NDP gov’t to defend Trans Mountain pipeline approval in B.C. Supreme Court, by Justine Hunter, Globe and Mail, Oct 4, 2017
[The new NDP government in British Columbia will be in court next month defending the approval earlier this year by the previous Liberal Party government of the expansion of Kinder Morgan Inc’s Trans Mountain oil and tar sands pipeline from Alberta. In another courtroom, the government is joining the legal action to force Ottawa to withdraw its consent for the project. Chief Ian Campbell of the Squamish First Nation (near Vancouver) says, “It’s unfortunate. It makes one question, is all their [NDP] opposition to this project just posturing?”]
Further background: First Nations begin court challenge against Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline, report on CBC News, Oct 2, 2017, and: Trudeau government built pipeline website during ‘consultation’ with First Nations, court told, by Dylan Waisman, The National Observer, Oct 2, 2017 The federal government was already building a website announcing approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion when it “consulted” with First Nations in November 2016, according to lawyers at the opening day of a court challenge in Vancouver…
Legal appeal against approval of 800 km Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline from Alberta to Vancouver pits NDP governments in BC and Alberta against each other, report by Justine Hunter in Globe and Mail, Sept 29, 2017 Related: Court ruling on First Nations rights deals blow to federal gov’t approval of Trans Mountain pipeline, Globe and Mail, Sept 28, 2017
Washington state deals blow to plan for coal export terminal, Associated Press, Sept 26, 2017
[For years, the port of Vancouver BC has been a last-ditch doormat for thermal coal exports by the coal industry in Wyoming and Montana. The coal is shipped by rail to Vancouver alongside the rivers and ocean waters of Washington state and Vancouver region, fouling the air, land and water along the way with coal particulates. Background: Why does U.S. coal get a free ride through BC?, by Ariel Ross, The Tyee, March 20, 2017.
How crooks [capitalism] stalled the rise of electric cars for 100 years, by Mick Hamer, New Scientist, print issue of Sept 9, 2017
Battery-powered buses could have killed off the internal combustion engine long ago, if only the company making them hadn’t been run by swindlers
The cities in the firing line for the next Hurricane Harvey, by Michael lePage, New Scientist, print issue of Sept 9, 2017
A budge in carbon budgets?, by Greg Muttitt, Oil Change International, Sep 25, 2017
A new scientific paper last week seemed to have some good news on climate change: keeping warming to 1.5°C – the goal of the Paris agreement – may be less difficult than previously thought. Not that it removes the urgent need to decarbonise; rather, as lead author Richard Millar of Oxford University put it, “although 1.5°C is not yet a geophysical impossibility, it remains a very difficult policy challenge”…
Related: Paris climate aim ‘still achievable’, by Paul Rincon, Science editor, BBC News, Sept 19, 2017
… The study authors say: “Pursuing ‘efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C’ is not chasing a geophysical impossibility”.
Analysis by David Shukman, BBC Science Editor: ‘The climate models are exaggerating. The predictions are too alarmist. The Tuvaluans and other islanders are safer than we thought.’ These are among the conclusions that some might reach from this latest work. In reality, nothing is quite that straightforward. The models are simulated approximations of possible futures. Inevitably they are going to be at least slightly adrift of reality, either in the amount of warming or its timing. They come with caveats and margins of error. In many ways, it’s remarkable that these computer constructs are even roughly on track. And models designed to come up with very broad potential outcomes for the end of the century may not be fine-tuned enough to give more detailed forecasts year-by-year.
The authors themselves are anxious that their research is not misunderstood. The need for urgent action to reduce emissions is unchanged, they say. It’s just that the most ambitious of the Paris Agreement targets is not as unachievable as many once thought, that there is time to act, though the task remains a monumental one.
Fossil fuel expansion crushes renewables, by Barry Saxifrage, published in National Observer, Sept 23, 2017 (and see accompanying comment by Roger Annis at weblink)
Memo to Jacobin magazine: Ecomodernism is not ecosocialism, by Ian Angus, Climate and Capitalism, Sept 25, 2017
Ian Angus, editor of Climate and Capitalism, challenges a left-wing magazine that promotes geoengineering, nuclear power, carbon storage and other techno-fixes as solutions to climate change.
Half-way to catastrophe: Global hothouse extinction to be triggered by or before 2100 without rapid emissions cuts, article on Roberts Scribbler, Sept 22, 2017
First Nations in northern BC hire two sexual assault prevention officers in preparation for gas pipeline construction and the ‘man camps’ they bring, National Observer, Sept 22, 2017
Failing dam creates new crisis on Puerto Rico amid flooding from Hurricane Maria, Reuters, Sept 22, 2017
[The U.S. colony of Puerto Rico has collapsed due to the combined effects of Hurricane Maria, which struck the island on September 21, and decades of colonial underdevelopment. Seventy thousand people are being frantically moved out of the path of a threatened collapse of a hydro-electric dam in the country’s northwest. Electricity will be out for many parts of the island for months.
[Cuba, meanwhile, is busily rebuilding from the direct hit it took from Hurricane Irma for several days beginning September 9. Large shipments of aid are arriving from China (article here) and from South American countries. Hundreds of Cuban doctors have been dispatched to Caribbean islands hit by hurricanes Irma and Maria. ]
Dark and flooded — Puerto Rico devastated by Hurricane Maria’s unprecedented rains, terrible winds, article on Roberts Scribbler, Sept 21, 2017
… For the Atlantic, the long term trend has been for more category five hurricanes to form. Back during the late 19th Century no Category 5 storms were recorded for the North Atlantic in the entire 50 year period from 1851 to 1900. In the 27 year period from 1991 to 2017 we’ve had 13 — with some years featuring as many as 2 or more Category 5s in a single season. 2017 was the only year other than 2007 in all of the last 167 years to see two category 5 storms making landfall. So we can clearly state that the long term trend for the Atlantic is for more Category 5 storms and for more of these storms impacting land.
From an earlier exchange of comments on Roberts Scribbler:
On a point of information from your previous post, Robert, you mentioned damage now of 160 billion dollars for the 2017 hurricane season. However, Harvey alone is, as I understand, estimated at 180 billion, so the damage looks to be much worse.
I’m looking at the official consensus estimates that tend to lag projections. Present top range projections for Harvey are in the range of 200 billion for that storm alone. Irma probably likely to top 100 billion in the end. Maria may be worse, overall, than Irma. Worth noting that damage assessments always tend to start smaller and grow over time as more and more reports come in.
Catastrophic category five Hurricane Maria strengthens as it tracks toward Puerto Rico, report on Roberts Scribbler, Sept 19, 2017
‘Green’ Vancouver’s park board votes on banning latex trash that poisons wildlife, CBC News, Sept 19, 2017
[Vancouver touts itself as a world-leading ‘green’ city. So when its park board voted on a proposal on Sept 18 to ban latex (balloons) that lasts forever in the wild and poisons wildlife, of course the board voted in favour of the ban. Ha ha, kidding. The board voted five to two against the ban, saying it has “more important” things to do.]
Scientists say no longer any doubt about impact of pesticides on bees, by Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press, Sept 19, 2017
A group of international scientists meets today in Ottawa to try to convince parliamentarians there is no longer any doubt that common agricultural pesticides are toxic chemicals which are killing off honey bees. In fact, says Jean-Marc Bonmatin of the French National Centre for Scientific Research, neonicotinoid pesticides kill a lot more than just bees, posing a deadly risk to frogs, common birds, fish and earthworms…
Ban ‘neonic’ pesticides. Our food supplies are at risk, op-ed by Jean-Marc Bonmatin, Globe and Mail, Sept 18, 2017
Evaporation drains Caspian Sea level, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, Sept 18, 2017
Can emissions shrink while the economy grows?, by David Suzuki, appearing on Rabble.ca, Sept 13, 2017
One third of Earth’s soil is acutely degraded due to agriculture, The Guardian, Sept 12, 2017
First Nation leaders to press Desjardins financial group to stop funding oilsands pipelines, by Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press, Sept 7, 2017
“The oil and gas industry had a pretty unfettered access to the financial community, to the investment community in regard to their grandiose expansion plans up until now,” said [Grand Chief Stewart] Phillip [of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs]. “Now there’s greater scrutiny, and it goes hand in hand with the undeniable, irrefutable evidence of the catastrophic impacts of climate change.”
Trans Canada Corp suspends its regulatory application to build $10 billion-plus ‘Energy East’ tar sands pipeline from Alberta to Atlantic Ocean, report on CBC News, Sept 7, 2017
A combination of oil industry economics and stiff opposition to the 4,000 km pipeline has likely killed the proposed Energy East pipeline. The pro-fossil fuel NDP gov’t in Alberta and Liberal gov’t in Ottawa can do little more than wail and complain. Attention now focuses on the proposed ‘Trans Mountain’ tar sands pipeline expansion by Texas-based Kinder Morgan Co, from Alberta to the port of Vancouver BC. Related story: Members of Secwepemc Nation to build ‘tiny houses’ on Trans Mountain Pipeline route, CBC News, Sept 7, 2017. [The pipeline expansion would increase by sevenfold the number of oil tankers in the waters of the port of Vancouver and west coast of North America, to more than one per day.]
Hurricane Harvey shows that when disaster strikes cities, residents are stuck, by Christopher Hume, Toronto Star, Sept 4, 2017
‘Clearly, city officials believe climate change measures can always be put off for another day. Though the effects of global warming are apparent, there is no collective sense of urgency. Toronto’s unspoken policy remains the same as always — it won’t happen here…’