This is a newsroll page on A Socialist In Canada, commencing September, 2017. It consists of headlines and weblinks, with occasional news summary and brief analysis by A Socialist In Canada [in square brackets]. Go to ‘News pages archives’ in the website ‘Categories’ listings on the home page to find listings from past months. See also the feature articles on ecology and global warming that are listed in the website category ‘Environment‘ (listed on the main website page). Articles about the politics in Canada of the global warming emergency are listed in the ‘Canada newsroll‘ page of the website. For example, that’s where to find news and analysis of the unfolding battle surrounding the proposed expansion of Kinder Morgan company’s ‘Trans Mountain’ tar sands bitumen pipeline from Alberta to the Port of Vancouver BC. Text in square brackets [ ] is by Roger Annis.
Municipalities in Vancouver BC region debate bold moves to cope with rising sea levels, by Frances Bula, special to the Globe and Mail, May 22, 2018 [Planners in Surrey BC, the largest Vancouver suburb, are deciding what to do in the face of rising sea levels. Twenty per cent of Surrey lies at high-tide level, including long stretches along the busy Fraser River. Buy out homes and farms and retreat, or raise the existing dikes? Either option will cost billions of dollars. Moreover, Surrey’s plans assume a one meter sea level rise by 2100 and two meters by 2200. But the world’s ongoing failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will send those levels much higher.]
Insects face calamitous habitat loss, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, May 21, 2018
Habitat loss may soon mean half the world’s insects, and many plants and animals as well, could find themselves without their familiar home ranges.
Right now, climate scientists warn, global planetary temperatures are on course to rise 3.2°C above the average for most of human history. They have already risen by about 1°C in the last 100 years. And if they do, then 49% of insects, 44% of plants and 26% of vertebrates could lose more than half of their ranges. If the 195 nations that agreed in Paris in 2015 to take steps to restrict global warming to a target of 1.5°C keep their pledges, only 6% of insects, 8% of plants and 4% of vertebrates will experience severe reductions in their ranges. Even half a degree makes a huge difference…
World temperature rise nears danger level, by Paul Brown, Climate News Network, May 22, 2018
With world temperature rise already 1°C above pre-industrial levels, new research shows that there is only a 0.5°C safety margin left in the system before the most vulnerable groups of people suffer severely.
The current political target, agreed in Paris more than two years ago, of aiming to prevent temperature from rising more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, and certainly stopping a rise beyond 2°C, disguises the fact that we are already more than halfway to the danger point. And scientists have now shown that there is a huge difference in the consequences to the human race if the 1.5°C limit is exceeded and temperatures allowed to reach 2°C…
* Heat wave in Pakistan kills 65, temperatures in the high 40’s to continue, Reuters, May 21, 2018
* New normal: Temperatures are trending up across U.S., report on Climate Central, May 16, 2018 Normal temperatures, generally defined to be the 30-year average at a location, are trending up across most of the U.S. Since 1980, the average continental U.S. temperature has risen 1.4°F. In our analysis of normal temperatures in 244 cities across the country, 94 percent have risen, providing more evidence of the long-term warming trend on our planet…
* North Atlantic warm pool is a signal of Gulf Stream slowdown, by Robert Fanney, published on his blog RobertSribbler, May 21, 2018
British Columbia interior sits devastated as global warming takes its toll, by Justine Hunter, columnist, Globe and Mail, May 20, 2018 … “There isn’t a tree species or a plantation that isn’t under stress due to increasing maladaptation to the current climate,” Mr. Simpson said. Never mind whatever climate changes are coming…
[Global warming and the consequences of decades of forest clearcutting have devastated the Cariboo region in central BC. It resembles a moonscape following the record fires of 2017 and the steady march of the mountain pine beetle infestation.]
The world’s extreme climate is forcing extreme measures as worst-case predictions are realized, by Dahr Jamail, published in his ‘Climate Dispatches’ column in Truthout.org, May 21, 2018
We made plastic, we depend on it, now we’re drowning in it, by Laura Parker, in National Geographic, print issue of June 2018 (part of a special series in National Geographic)
For four hundred months (33 1/3 years) in a row, our planet has been unusually hot, by Eric Holthaus, Grist Magazine, May 17, 2018
Our overheating planet just reached another staggering — maybe even astronomical — new milestone. In a report out Thursday, NOAA confirmed that April was the 400th consecutive month of warmer-than-average global temperatures. The last month cooler than the 20th century average was December 1984..
NASA satellite study shows huge amounts of water are being moved around the planet, and humans are to blame, study published in Nature Magazine, May 16, 2018 (report here in Washington Post, May 15, 2018)
As reported in Nature Magazine on May 16, a 14-year NASA mission has confirmed that a massive redistribution of freshwater is occurring across the Earth, with middle-latitude belts drying and the tropics and higher latitudes gaining water supplies.
The results, which are probably a combination of the effects of climate change, vast human withdrawals of groundwater and simple natural changes, could have profound consequences if they continue, pointing to a situation in which some highly populous regions could struggle to find enough water in the future…
New study raises alarm about exposure to glyphosate pesticides at levels the EPA claims are ‘safe’, by Jessica Corbett, staff writer, Common Dreams, May 15, 2018
… “What your average consumer needs to know is that there’s absolutely no scientific evidence backing up the EPA’s claims of ‘safe levels’,” OCA U.S. director Katherine Paul told Common Dreams. “So when Ben & Jerry’s says it doesn’t matter that there’s glyphosate in their ice cream—because the levels are beneath EPA guidelines—that’s total bunk.”
Natural gas boom fuels Australia’s third straight year of rising emissions, by Lisa Cox, The Guardian, 2018 [And yes, Australia is a signatory to the 2015 Paris conference agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.]
… The expansion in LNG exports and production is identified as the major contributor to the increase, but the data shows a jump in emissions across all sectors – including waste, agriculture and transport – except for electricity, the one area that recorded a decrease in emissions. In particular, the department’s data shows a 10.5% increase in fugitive emissions from the production, processing, transport, storage, transmission and distribution of fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and natural gas, driven by an increase of 17.6% in natural gas production.
It’s time for a carbon drawdown budget, by David Pratt, Climate Code Red, May 10, 2018
… That’s the proposal made by Breakthrough, the Melbourne-based National Centre for Climate Restoration, to the Victorian climate change targets 2021-2030 expert panel, last week. In its submission, Breakthrough established that:
* 1.5°C of climate warming is not safe
* There is no carbon budget remaining for 1.5°C, so “What goes up must come down”
* “Overshoot” in emission reduction scenarios should be minimised in extent and duration to avoid tipping points that may be irreversible on human time-frames.
Here’s the story in more detail…
The costs of climate change are rising, commentary by Glen Hodgson, Globe and Mail, May 15, 2018
… the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reports that annual losses from overland flooding have grown to more than US$40-billion annually in recent years; more flood events occurred in 2010-13 than in the whole decade of the 1980s.
Facing climate and water pressures, farmers return to age-old practice of cover cropping, by Jane Braxton Little, News Deeply, May 15, 2018
… Cover cropping, an agricultural technique as old as dirt, is taking root in California. Used to enhance soil nutrition and improve the growth of plants, it fell out of favor after World War II when the practice was replaced by the use of chemical fertilizers. Only five per cent of California farmers use the method despite the big savings in water usage and the benefits for river ecosystems.
A new rice farming technique using drastically less water is catching on, by John Vidal, Huffington Post, May 15, 2018
Alberta’s tar sands tailing ponds are a ticking time bomb for Canadians, by Mitchell Anderson, The Tyee, May 15, 2018 Alberta has failed to protect taxpayers from billions in cleanup costs.
End the ‘green’ delusions: Industrial-scale alternative energy is fossil fuel+, by Alexander Dunlap, published on the blog of Verso Books, May 10, 2018 (Alexander Dunlap is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.)
This essay by Alexander Dunlap should be required reading for all liberal, libertarian and ecosocialist environmentalists. The writer is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.) Excerpts:
* ‘Industrial-scale renewable energy does nothing to remake exploitative relationships with the earth, and instead represents the renewal and expansion of the present capitalist order.’
* ‘Contrary to the claims of its proponents, renewable energy by no means adequately addresses the real problem posed by current levels of energy consumption, which are driven by capitalist growth imperatives that ultimately cause the ecological degradation and climate change we see today.’
* ‘Industrial-scale renewable energy and the grid-centric systems it powers represent the renewal and expansion of the present political and capitalist order.’
For Port of Vancouver, underestimating Pacific sea-level rises could come at a high price, by Matthew McClearn, Globe and Mail, May 14, 2018
[Vancouver is Canada’s largest port. It’s a patchwork of shipping terminals across the Vancouver region handling massive quantities of coal and grain, wood pulp, logs, steel, Korean and Japanese cars, and several million shipping containers each year. Trucks moving containers to and from the multiple terminals clog the region’s roads and poison its air. 2017 was a record year for port volume with some 142 million tonnes shipped and received.]
[This is the fifth in a series of articles by Mathew McClearn in the Globe and Mail examining the effects of rising sea levels on Canada’s coastline. Previous articles are here:
* Canada’s Beaufort Sea Arctic, Globe and Mail, April 17, 2018
* The town of Sackville, New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy, Globe and Mail, April 2, 2018
* Quebec’s Isles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Globe and Mail, March 19, 2018
* The city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Globe and Mail, March 6, 2018
Lyme disease has arrived. Why hasn’t a reliable treatment?, by Mary Beth Pfeiffer, commentary in Globe and Mail, May 12, 2018 (Mary Beth Pfeiffer is a veteran investigative journalist based in Poughkeepsie, New York and author of the new book Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change.)
… Canada is well into an epidemic that has exploded in the United States since the disease emerged in a small coastal town in Connecticut in the late 1970s. Today, these ticks reside in half of the continental United States’ 3,000 counties, twice the number of two decades ago.
… In the United States, authorities estimate that reported Lyme disease cases – 36,000 in 2016 – are one-10th of the actual number. Canada’s official disease count, which grew nearly sevenfold from 144 in 2009 to 992 in 2016, is also likely far below the real number.
Lyme disease — the first epidemic of climate change, interview with Mary Beth Pfeiffer, on CBC Radio One‘s ‘Sunday Edition’ program, May 6, 2018 (31 minutes)
The global climate footprint of tourism soars, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, May 9, 2018
Previous estimates of tourism’s climate footprint have fallen far below the mark. Between 2009 and 2013 it increased four times more than earlier estimated, according to a comprehensive new study.
By 2013, the worldwide tourism industry was spilling an estimated 4.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contributing about eight per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. World tourism is now growing faster than international trade…
Confusion reigns over China’s energy policy, by Kieran Cooke, Climate News Network, May 7, 2018
Beijing is implementing ambitious renewable energy schemes at home and has announced plans to reshape its energy sector and reduce its use of coal – by far the most polluting fossil fuel. But overseas, China is pursuing a very different policy…
Urgewald, a Berlin-based environmental group, calculates that Chinese companies are at present involved in plans to build about a fifth of new coal-fired energy capacity around the world – in countries including Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Vietnam and Malawi.
In some of these countries there is little or no coal-powered generation at present; building coal plants is likely to prevent the development of other, less polluting energy sources and lock in high emission power structures for years to come…
Sea level rise endangers sewage treatment in U.S., by Michelle A. Hummel, Matthew S. Berry and Mark T. Stacey, published in the journal Earth’s Future, March 24, 2018 (12 pages)
Wastewater treatment plants are susceptible to flooding resulting from sea level rise. Previous estimates of wastewater exposure have only considered the impacts of marine flooding at the local or regional scale. In this analysis, we quantify the exposure to marine flooding across the coastal United States and then consider the relative impacts of marine and groundwater flooding at the regional scale in the San Francisco Bay Area.
… We find that the number of people impacted by sea level rise due to loss of wastewater services could be five times as high as previous predictions of the number of people who experience direct flooding of their homes or property. We also find that groundwater flooding poses a significant threat to wastewater plants in the San Francisco Bay region…
New technology could slash carbon emissions from aluminium production, The Guardian, May 10, 2018 But the smelting of aluminium is only one part of the huge carbon emissions created by an ever-expanding aluminium industry
Earth’s circular economy: Recycling as a law of life, by Ian Angus, published on Climate and Capitalism, May 9, 2018 Continuing a series on the social and scientific basis of metabolic rift theory.
Nine uncomfortable Canadian energy facts, by Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, May 7, 2018
… These are just some of the hard energy facts contained in Canada’s Energy Outlook, a new and encyclopedic report by David Hughes, one of Canada’s foremost energy experts. He has been analyzing energy trends for industry and government for more than 30 years. Hughes, whose reliable research is cited by the likes of Bloomberg, Nature, The Economist and The Tyee.
Unlike many environmentalists, Hughes does not believe that a transition to renewables or even reductions in greenhouse gases will be seamless, easy or cheap. Here’s why…
Last of the caribou in the continental U.S. is declared extinct as natural resource extraction in Canada sends numbers crashing, report in National Post, April 17, 2018 The causes are multiple: natural predators, overhunting, climate change, loss of old growth forest and disturbance of their habitat by human activity — from logging and oil and gas development to snowmobiling.
… There were about 40,000 caribou in British Columbia in the early 1900s. Today, there are only about 19,000 caribou left.
Related: * Ottawa orders B.C. to act to save threatened caribou, by Justine Hunter, Globe and Mail, May 6, 2018
[The century-long rush in British Columbia to dam rivers and build hydro-electric lines, frack natural gas and build pipelines, dig up minerals and clearcut forests has left little space for wildlife. For hydro-electric dams alone, there are 29 operated by the state-run BC Hydro and another 100 operated privately by communities and large, industrial outfits. The province of British Columbia has no legislation to protect endangered species.]
Scientist says record floods show that New Brunswick must adapt to changing world, The Canadian Press, May 6, 2018
… Sudden temperature flips from frigid April snowstorms to 26 C, as occurred during the spring runoffs in parts of the Canadian province of New Brunswick, are a feature of climate change that encourage flooding.
… The province’s legislative committee on climate change cited computer models predicting that by 2100, New Brunswick’s mean annual temperature will increase by as much as 5 C, while more intense rain and snow will increase the amount of moisture hitting the ground.
… Professor Louise Comeau, who has authored studies on the impact of climate change in her province, says she suspects that floods once expected every 30 years are now more likely to be “once every five years or even every two to three years.”
* Floodwaters in southern N.B. ‘heavily contaminated,’ emergency officials warn, CBC News, May 6, 2018
The New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization is warning residents in flooded areas that the floodwater can be “heavily contaminated’ with sewage and pose health risks. Many sewage systems have been compromised by the unprecedented flooding in the southern part of the province, which started more than a week ago and is expected to worsen overnight May 6 with up to 20 millimetres of rain in the forecast…
‘Billions of people threatened by sea level rise, interview with Dahr Jamail, broadcast on ‘Counterspin’, the weekly radio interview broadcast on Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, with host Janine Jackson, May 3, 2018 (Ten-minute interview. Dahr Jamail’s ‘Climate Disrutions’ column on Truthout.org is published monthly. His forthcoming book is The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption.)
Related: * New record CO2 measures in April 2018 show ‘humans are overwhelming nature’, report in KQED Science, May 3, 2018
The emergence of an ecological Karl Marx: 1818 – 2018, by Gareth Dale, published in The Ecologist, May 5, 2018
* Marx’s ecological education, book review by Martin Empson, published in Monthly Review, April 2018 Reviewing: Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capitalism, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy, by Kohei Saito, Monthly Review Press, 2017
* The growth paradigm, A critique, by Gareth Dale, published in 2012 and available here on Academia.edu
Humans didn’t exist the last time there was this much CO2 in the air, by Eric Holthaus, Grist Magazine, May 3, 2018
The last time atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were this high, millions of years ago, the planet was very different. For one, humans didn’t exist. On May 2, scientists at the University of California in San Diego confirmed that April’s monthly average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration breached 410 parts per million for the first time in our history.
… In little more than a century of frenzied fossil-fuel burning, we humans have altered our planet’s atmosphere at a rate dozens of times faster than natural climate change. Carbon dioxide is now more than 100 ppm higher than any direct measurements from Antarctic ice cores over the past 800,000 years, and probably significantly higher than anything the planet has experienced for at least 15 million years. That includes eras when Earth was largely ice-free.
The tick that is spreading in the U.S. due to climate change and is infecting beef and pork supplies, by Zoya Teirstein, Grist Magazine, May 1, 2018 Lone star ticks hunt in packs and spread an allergy to beef and pork. Thanks to climate change, they’re spreading. Related: Lyme disease — the first epidemic of climate change, interview on CBC Radio One‘s ‘Sunday Edition’ program, May 6, 2018
What global warming? Sales of trucks and SUVs worldwide are leaving smaller autos in their dust, report in Toronto Star by Michael Lewis, May 2, 2018
… In 2009 during the Great Recession, sedans commanded more than 39 per cent of the U.S. market, while SUVs were at 29 per cent and pickups had 13 per cent of the market. Last year, SUVs had 43 per cent of the market, followed by sedans at less than 28 per cent, while pickups had climbed to almost 16 per cent of the market. April’s sales figures showed every major automaker reporting declining passenger-car sales…
* Canadian and Ontario governments give $220 million to Toyota to expand its production of best-selling ‘RAV 4’ SUV, The Canadian Press, May 4, 2018 [Sales of Toyota’s ‘RAV 4’ SUV have surpassed for the first time sales of Toyota’s Camry and Corolla auto bestsellers, in line with the trends of nearly all global automakers. Report in Globe and Mail, May 4, 2018.] * The world is embracing SUVs and that’s bad news for the climate and future generations, by Hiroko Tabushi, New York Times, Mar 3, 2018 The SUV-building bonanza contrasts with promises made by automakers of big investments in electric vehicles and other low-emitting vehicles. They are pouring resources into far more polluting SUVs
* Another warning of global warming: Record auto and truck sales, by Roger Annis, published in A Socialist In Canada, Oct 4, 2017
Marx and metabolism: Lost in translation?, by Ian Angus, published on Climate and Capitalism, May 1, 2018 (Ian Angus is the founding editor and publisher of Climate and Capitalism. This article continues a series by Ian Angus on metabolic rift theory. The first article in the series was Five Revolutions: How bacteria created the biosphere and caused the first climate crisis.) Why wasn’t Marx’s concept of metabolic rift recognized until recently? Changed circumstances, unpublished works, and bad translations all played a role.
Global warming? Not fazing Canadian railways as shipments of coal, fossil fuels and all other manner of natural resources are expanding. Agricultural shipments face large backlog due to natural resource expansion. Reports:
* CN Rail to purchase 250 new cars for hauling lumber, Canadian Press, May 1, 2018
* From the Globe and Mail April 23, 2018 (subscriber only): …Year-to-date, CN hauled 3 per cent more carloads compared with the same period a year ago. This rise is led by an increase in containers and coal cars. The number of cars containing farm products fell by 23 per cent while forest-products shipments declined by 5 per cent, according to CN.
* CN Rail tackling capacity issues ‘with a great sense of urgency’, Financial Post, April 23, 2018 The company’s $3.4 billion capital spending plan includes a specific focus on expanding rail infrastructure in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia
Ecological Marxism vs. environmental neo-Malthusianism: An old debate continues, by Brian Napoletano, published on Climate and Capitalism, April 30, 2018 (Brian Napoletano teaches environmental geography at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He is a co-author of ‘Has (even Marxist) political ecology really transcended the metabolic rift?‘, published in the June 2018 issue of the journal Geoforum.) Despite being consistently discredited, overpopulation ideology resurfaces with the same predictable regularity as capitalist crises. Only Marxism offers a clear alternative.
Our grandchildren may never see the Great Barrier Reef recover, by Alice Klein, New Scientist, print edition of April 21, 2018 (Read the article here in pdf format: Great Barrier Reef threatened.)
Carbon-free shipping is possible, so why aren’t we doing it?, by Michael Le Page, published in New Scientist, print edition of April 21, 2018 (Read the article here in pdf format: Carbon-free shipping.) [The writer says nothing about the most compelling measure needed with respect to the ongoing expansion of ocean shipping of commodities: radically reduce the production, shipment and sale of the tsunami of socially unnecessary and environmentally destructive commodities.]
The End of Epidemics: It’s all about the money, by Debora MacKenzie, published in New Scientist, print edition of April 7, 2018 (Read the article here in pdf format: The end of epidemics.)
Marx’s ecological education, book review by Martin Empson, published in Monthly Review, April 2018 Reviewing: Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism: Capitalism, Nature, and the Unfinished Critique of Political Economy, by Kohei Saito, Monthly Review Press, 2017, 308 pages, ISBN 9781583676400.
EU agrees total ban on bee-harming pesticides, The Guardian, April 27, 2018 Neonicotinoids, the world’s most widely used insecticides, will be banned from all fields within six months to protect both wild and honeybees that are vital to crop pollination
[The headline in this Guardian article is inaccurate. The EU ban on neonicotinoids does not apply to their use in closed greenhouses. Meanwhile, other pesticides deemed less harmful to bees and other insects will continue to be used. Industrial, monocrop agricultural practice, continued urban and transportation sprawl and a host of other threats mean that bee populations remain under serious threat.]
Climate change to drive migration from the world’s atoll islands sooner than thought, by Matthew Taylor, The Guardian, April 25, 2018 Low-lying atolls around the world will be overtaken by sea-level rises within a few decades, according to a new study
Hundreds of thousands of people will be forced from their homes on low-lying Pacific islands in the next few decades by sea-level rises and the contamination of fresh drinking water sources, scientists have warned. A study by researchers at the US Geological Survey (USGS), the Deltares Institute in the Netherlands and Hawaii University [published here in Science Advances] has found that many small islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans will be uninhabitable for humans by the middle of this century. That is much earlier than previously thought.
Experts say the findings underline the looming climate change driven migration crisis that is predicted to see hundreds of millions of people forced from their homes in the coming years…
Climate change ‘will create world’s biggest refugee crisis’, by Matthew Taylor, The Guardian, Nov 2, 2017
Tens of millions of people will be forced from their homes by climate change in the next decade, creating the biggest refugee crisis the world has ever seen, according to a new report. Senior U.S. military and security experts have told the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) study that the number of climate refugees will dwarf those that have fled the Syrian conflict, bringing huge challenges to Europe.
“If Europe thinks they have a problem with migration today … wait 20 years,” said retired U.S. military corps brigadier general Stephen Cheney. “See what happens when climate change drives people out of Africa – the Sahel [sub-Saharan area] especially – and we’re talking now not just one or two million, but 10 or 20 [million]. They are not going to south Africa, they are going across the Mediterranean.”…
‘We’re doomed’: Interview with social scientist Mayer Hillman on the climate reality no one else will dare mention, article by Patrick Barkham, The Guardian, April 26, 2018 The 86-year-old social scientist says accepting the impending end of most life on Earth might be the very thing needed to help us prolong it
… “Standing in the way is capitalism. Can you imagine the global airline industry being dismantled when hundreds of new runways are being built right now all over the world? It’s almost as if we’re deliberately attempting to defy nature. We’re doing the reverse of what we should be doing, with everybody’s silent acquiescence, and nobody’s batting an eyelid.”
Amount of straws, plastic pollution is huge, by Seth Borenstein, published in the ‘Science Says’ feature of Phys.org, April 21, 2018
Cities and nations are looking at banning plastic straws and stirrers in hopes of addressing the world’s plastic pollution problem. The problem is so large, though, that scientists say that’s not nearly enough. Australian scientists Denise Hardesty and Chris Wilcox estimate, using trash collected on U.S. coastlines during cleanups over five years, that there are nearly 7.5 million plastic straws lying around America’s shorelines. They figure that means 437 million to 8.3 billion plastic straws are on the entire world’s coastlines.
But that huge number suddenly seems small when you look at all the plastic trash bobbing around oceans. University of Georgia environmental engineering professor Jenna Jambeck calculates that nearly nine million tons (eight million metric tons) end up in the world’s oceans and coastlines each year, as of 2010, according to her 2015 study in the journal Science …
‘Mountains and mountains of plastic’: Life on Cambodia’s polluted coast, photo essay by Hannah Ellis-Petersen, The Guardian, April 24, 2018
Microplastics have invaded the Arctic, and climate change could make it worse, by Brian Kahn, Earther.com, April 23, 2018
Why sea levels are rising faster on the U.S. East Coast, by Jim Morrison, Yale Environment 360, April 24, 2018 Scientists are unraveling the reasons why some parts of the world are experiencing sea level increases far beyond the global average. A prime example is the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, which has been experiencing “sunny day flooding” that had not been expected for decades.
… The roads circling Myrtle Park are cracked and disintegrating due to frequent flooding. Tidal grasses like Spartina are springing up. The boulevard a block away, which leads to the world’s largest naval base [Norfolk, Virginia], floods several times a year and the frequency is increasing.
… While sea level is rising globally at about a tenth of an inch per year, cities along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States — including Norfolk; Baltimore; Charleston, South Carolina; and Miami, among others — have suffered “sunny day” flooding from seas rising far faster than the global average. One study published last year shows that from 2011 to 2015, sea level rose up to five inches — one inch per year — in some locales from North Carolina to Florida.
… Beginning in 2012, Tal Ezer, an oceanographer at Norfolk’s Old Dominion University, published a series of papers matching long-term slowing of the Gulf Stream with increased sea level rise…
Why a 15 per cent slowdown in North Atlantic Ocean circulation is seriously bad news, by Robert Fanney, publisher of RobertScribbler, April 23, 2018
Could sprinkling sand save the Arctic’s shrinking sea ice?, by Oliver Milman, in Utqiagvik, Alaska, The Guardian, April 23, 2018
What happened to winter? Vanishing ice convulses Alaskans’ way of life, by Oliver Milman, The Guardian, April 21, 2018
High Arctic species respond to climate warming, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, April 23, 2018
What extremely warm winters mean for the future of the Arctic, interview with polar scientist Mark Serreze, by Katherine Bagley for Yale E360, April 18, 2018 In an interview with Yale Environment 360, polar scientist Mark Serreze talks about the rapid changes he has witnessed over more than three decades of working in the Arctic and the future stability of the region if temperatures continue to climb.
‘Ecosocialism or bust’? More like ‘ecosocialism is bust’ [Two recent commentaries by ecosocialist writers, here in Jacobin and here in The Bullet, illustrate the weakness and limitations of the doctrine. In neither case do the commentaries address the two central issues in the global warming emergency. One is the urgent need to corral and rapidly reduce all the waste, excess and expansion imperatives of capitalist society. Two is forging the broad-based political alliances that are needed to combat capitalism’s most immediate and destructive despoliation of the environment and win governments that can lead a transitional transformation of economic and social life, along the lines voiced by socially progressive ‘degrowth’ advocates. Short of that, all the ecosocialist talk of switching to ‘alternative energies’, orchestrating ‘socialist revolution’, etc, etc is so much hot air.
‘Beyond comprehension’: In just two years, half of all corals in ‘forever damaged’ Great Barrier Reef have died, by Jessica Corbett, staff writer, Common Dreams, April 19, 2018
Global warming, researchers warn, “is rapidly emerging as a universal threat to ecological integrity and function.”
The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral system, has been “forever damaged” by anthropogenic global warming, according to a new study published Wednesday by Nature. Between March and November of 2016, a “record-breaking” marine heatwave caused rampant coral bleaching around the globe, and the Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of northeastern Australia, lost nearly a third of its corals…
How a ‘toxic cocktail’ of air pollution is posing a troubling health risk in China’s cities, by Fred Pearce, Yale E360, April 17, 2018 A recent study in Chinese cities found a potential link between a hazardous mix of air pollutants and death rates. These findings point to the need for a new approach to assessing the dangers of urban smog in fast-industrializing parts of the developing world.
America’s arid West invades fertile eastern U.S., by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, April 16, 2018
World may hit two degrees of warming in 10-15 years thanks to fracking, says Cornell U scientist, by Sharon Kelly, Desmog Canada, April 11, 2018
In 2011, a Cornell University research team first made the groundbreaking discovery that leaking methane from the shale gas fracking boom could make burning fracked gas worse for the climate than coal. In a sobering lecture released this month, a member of that team, Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, Professor of Engineering Emeritus at Cornell University, outlined more precisely the role U.S. fracking is playing in changing the world’s climate.
The most recent climate data suggests that the world is on track to cross the two degrees of warming threshold set in the Paris accord in just 10 to 15 years, says Ingraffea in a 13-minute lecture titled ‘Shale Gas: The Technological Gamble That Should Not Have Been Taken‘, which was posted online on April 4.
That’s if American energy policy follows the track predicted by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which expects 1 million natural gas wells will be producing gas in the U.S. in 2050, up from roughly 100,000 today…
Europe’s largest bank HSBC said on Friday it would mostly stop funding new coal power plants, oil sands and arctic drilling, becoming the latest in a long line of investors to shun the fossil fuels…
Canada’s Beaufort Sea Arctic coastline is battling a double threat – melting ground and rising seas – that residents are powerless to stop, by Matthew McClearn, Globe and Mail, April 17, 2018 This is the fourth in a series of articles analysing the impacts of global warming on Canada’s three, ocean coastlines. This one reports from Tuktoyaktuk, the village on the shoreline of Canada’s Beaufort Sea coastline, where the Mackenzie River flows into the Arctic Ocean. The preceding three articles are here:
* The city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Globe and Mail, March 6, 2018
* Quebec’s Isles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Globe and Mail, March 19, 2018
* The town of Sackville, New Brunswick on the Bay of Fundy, Globe and Mail, April 2, 2018
James Hansen peddles nuclear energy, shows disregard to the dangers of limitless growth, interview with James Hansen, in Globe and Mail, April 16, 2018
[James Hansen, one of the world’s most renowned, mainstream environmentalists, shows reckless disregard for the dangers of limitless energy usage and expansion in an interview in the Canadian daily Globe and Mail published on April 16. He says the global warming danger facing the world is caused by fossil fuels and that nuclear energy is the solution. “If we could get all of our electricity carbon-free, we could solve the problem. And we probably can’t do that without the help of nuclear power.”
[Hansen covers his pro-capitalist advocacy with a sharp critique of the December 2015 climate change conference in Paris. He calls the conference and its claimed goal of limiting global warming to 1.5-to-two degrees Celsius a “fraud”. A fraud it was and is, but no less fraudulent is the view that the planet can escape global warming disaster by shifting from one form of mega-energy production, distribution and usage (fossil fuels) to another (nuclear energy), all the while allowing the expansion imperative of capitalism to continue to run amok. There is also the moral and scientific problem in Hansen’s scenario of bequeathing to future generations the deadly waste product from nuclear energy. Only a naive or malevolent person could believe that the blind, reckless laws of capitalist growth and expansion could allow for a safe solution to the dangers of nuclear waste. Only such beliefs could ignore the related dangers of nuclear war.]
Slow-motion ocean: Atlantic Ocean’s circulation is weakest in 1,600 years, Scientific American April 11, 2018
The grand northward progression of water along North America that moves heat from the tropics toward the Arctic has been sluggish. If that languidness continues and deepens, it could usher in drastic changes in sea level and weather around the ocean basin…
North Atlantic Ocean currents are slowing, by Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, April 12, 2018
Report finds major banks ramped up fossil fuel financing to $115 billion in 2017, press release by Rainforest Action Network, March 28, 2018 Despite 2017 being the costliest year on record for weather disasters, the report reveals that banks increased extreme fossil fuel financing last year, led by a more than doubling in lending to tar sands companies and pipelines.
A report released today by Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, and Honor The Earth, endorsed by over 50 organizations around the world, reveals that in spite of the urgent climate crisis, 2017 was a year of backsliding by private banks. The report, Banking on Climate Change 2018, is the ninth annual report ranking bank policies and practices related to the financing of some of the most carbon-intensive, financially risky, and environmentally destructive fossil fuel sectors…
Polar ice is melting fast in north and south, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, April 10, 2018 New studies have confirmed, once again, the rapid melting of the polar ice in both hemispheres.
In orchestrated ploy, Kinder Morgan announces halt to all but non-essential work on Trans Mountains tar sands pipeline expansion, by Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, April 9, 2018 (updated and with postscripts)
1.5°C of warming is closer than we imagine, just a decade away, by David Spratt, Climate Code Red, April 5, 2018
Here is what #ShellKnew about climate change in the 1980s, Desmog Blog, by Mat Hope, April 5, 2018
Shell knew climate change was going to be big, was going to be bad, and that its products were responsible for global warming all the way back in the 1980s, a tranche of new documents reveal.
As Antarctic melting accelerates, worst-case scenarios may come true, by Dahr Jamail, columnist, Truthout.org, April 5, 2018
Some of the world’s most profound melting of glaciers is happening in the Antarctic; and is invisible from above. According to a study recently published in the journal Nature Geoscience, the underwater melting of Antarctic glaciers is now occurring at a rate that is doubling every 20 years. This means that melting in the ice continent of Antarctica could soon outpace that occurring across Greenland, which would make Antarctica the single largest source of sea level rise.
The new study was the first complete underwater mapping of Antarctica, by far the world’s largest body of ice…
Also by Dahr Jamail:
Thanks to climate disruption, Earth is already losing critical biosphere components, by Dahr Jamail, columnist, Truthout.org, April 5, 2018
Two weeks ago, I gave a keynote presentation about anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) at a large sustainability conference in Chico, California. During the question-and-answer session following my talk, a student asked me what I thought the world would look like by 2050. His question stopped me in my tracks. I had to pause and take a deep breath, to prepare myself emotionally for what I had to tell him. Here is the gist of what I said…
You can’t be a ‘climate mayor’ if you’re making more room for cars, by Alissa Walker. published on Curbed, Apr 6, 2018
As of last June, 402 U.S. mayors had joined the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, a group also known as the Climate Mayors, which was formed when the U.S. pulled out of the Paris climate accord. These mayors pledged to uphold the climate agreement, which was established to try and limit the rise of global average temperatures to 2.0 degrees Celsius—and aim for even more progressive targets.
Yet nine months later, this coalition of mayors, which represents 69 million Americans across 47 states, is still not doing enough to address the elephant in the atmosphere: the inextricable link between our cars and climate change…
The rush for lithium as the world turns to ‘renewable energy’ madness and excess, report by Gabriel Friedman, in Financial Post (Canada), April 6, 2018
‘Rupert Merer, an analyst with National Bank Financial, pegs current lithium production at around 200,000 tons per year, and forecasts demand will quadruple to 800,000 tons per year by 2025.’
* Nickel mining: the hidden environmental cost of electric cars, by Max Opray, The Guardian, Aug 24, 2017 The extraction of nickel, mainly mined in Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Russia and the Philippines, comes with environmental and health costs
As countries the world over legislate to phase out petrol and diesel cars, attention is turning to the environmental impact of mining the materials needed for electric vehicle batteries.
This additional scrutiny has largely focused on ethical concerns with cobalt and lithium supply chains, despite Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s observation last year that the lithium ion batteries his vehicles use are mostly made of nickel and graphite, with lithium itself merely “the salt on the salad”. But the extraction of nickel – predominately mined in Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Russia and the Philippines – comes at an environmental and health cost.
Plumes of sulphur dioxide choking the skies, churned earth blanketed in cancerous dust, rivers running blood-red – environmental campaigners have painted a grim picture of the nickel mines and smelters feeding the electric vehicle industry…
* Cobalt mining for llithium-ion batteries has a high human cost, by Todd Frankel, Washington Post, Sept 30, 2016 Tracing the path from deadly hand-dug mines in Congo to consumers’ phones and laptops
The remote landscape of Congo in southern Africa lies at the heart of the world’s mad scramble for cheap cobalt, a mineral essential to the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones, laptops and electric vehicles made by companies such as Apple, Samsung and major automakers…
* The human cost of the lithium battery revolution, by Michael Reilly, MIT Technology Review, Oct 3, 2016 The batteries that power our high-tech lifestyle are built using materials extracted in dirty, often life-threatening conditions.
Ice-free Arctic projections under the Paris Agreement, research paper by Michael Sigmond, John C. Fyfe and Neil C. Swart, published on Nature Climate Change, April 2, 2018
Studies show Paris targets crucial to maintaining Arctic ice, by Ivan Semeniuk, science reporter, Globe and Mail, April 3, 2018
When Canada and other countries signed on to the Paris climate agreement in 2015 they pledged to hold global warming to under 2 C by the end of this century and work to a more ambitious limit of 1.5 degrees. Now, new research by Canadian and U.S. climate scientists reveals that between those two numbers lies a world of difference for the future of the Arctic and its peoples…
Will the dikes protecting the town of Sackville, New Brunswick finally fall? Rising seas could ruin land Acadians turned from marshes to farms, by Matthew McClearn, Globe and Mail, April 2, 2018 [This is the third article in a series examining the impacts on Canada’s coastlines of rising ocean levels. The first article reported on the city of Halifax on March 6, 2018. The second article reported on Quebec’s Isles de la Madeleine on March 19, 2018.]