A Life of Activism Gives You Hope, Energy and Direction

Maude Barlow | Commondreams | June 22nd 2014

Climate activists at a rally in Copenhagen. (Photo: AinhoaGoma/Oxfam International)

Climate activists at a rally in Copenhagen. (Photo: AinhoaGoma/Oxfam International)

Maude Barlow received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from York University in Toronto yesterday morning. Here are her speaking notes for the Convocation ceremony.

Chancellor Gregory Sorbara, President Mamdouh Shoukri, the Senate of York University, and all the graduation students,

It is a great honour to share this convocation with you today. I am moved by your grace, energy and hope on this lovely June day.

In the few minutes I have to share with you I would like to urge you all, no matter what your education specialty, what vocation you choose, or where you live, to give some of your precious life energy to the great environmental challenges that face us today.

Every generation faces a unique political reality and set of concerns it needs to tackle together and yours is the multiple threats to the earth itself from over-exploitation, pollution and the growth imperative.

From the diminishing life in the oceans, and the destruction of old growth forests, to the clear limits of a fossil fuel economy, our Mother Earth is suffering, as are countless millions around the world.

Water is the issue I know best. Fresh water supplies are rapidly being destroyed due to a “perfect storm” of pollution, climate change, over-mining of groundwater, and watershed destruction where humans move massive amounts of water from lakes, rivers and aquifers to quench the thirst of cities, industry and mega farms.

When we are done with it, we dump that water (usually untreated) into the oceans as waste, leaving landscapes parched behind us. As a result, many parts of the world are literally running out of available fresh water — something we were taught as children could never happen — and almost three billion people do not have access to clean water within a kilometre of their homes.

Every three seconds a child of the Global South dies of dirty water. The lack of access to water kills more children worldwide than all forms of violence together, including war.

Even here in Canada, we have taken our water for granted and are among the worst water wasters in the world. We don’t protect or properly map our groundwater. Our Great Lakes are in crisis, with one study warning they could be “bone dry”in 80 years. Our national water act is forty five years old and in desperate need of updating.

Canadians consume about 3 billion plastic bottles of commercial water every year. Since we only recycle about 35 per cent of these bottles, we discard mountains of plastic garbage in our lakes, rivers, forests and landfills where they will take at least 500 years to break down.

Mining and heavy oil extractions are destroying many freshwater lakes and rivers in Canada, allowing giant dams of poisoned water to contaminate groundwater sources. Yet recent changes to freshwater regulations mean that 99 per cent of all our lakes and rivers are entirely unprotected by federal law.

Sadly there is still a water and santitation crisis on many First Nations communities, where residents are 90 per cent more likely to be without running water than other Canadians. Yet Canada was the last country in the world to ratify the UN General Assembly resolution recognizing the human right to water, an enormously important step for the global community to take.

We who are blessed to live in a water wealthy country have a special responsibility to find solutions to this global crisis and as well, to be good stewards of our own precious water resources by protecting our watersheds, wetlands and aquifers and ensuring safe, clean drinking water as a public trust and a human right. There is much work to do.

Do not listen to those who say there is nothing you can do to the very large and very real social and environmental problems that beset our world. I am not now talking about a false sense of optimism based on ignoring the several very real crises we face.

But there is so much room for hope and such a need to bring joy and excitement to our commitment to a different future. I swear to you that it is true — the life of an activist is a good life, because you get up in the morning caring about more than just yourself or how to make more money. A life of activism gives hope (a moral imperative in this work), energy and direction. You meet the best people. You help transform systems and ideas and you commit to leaving the earth in at least as whole a state as you inherited it because every generation has the right to breathe clean air and drink sweet clean water.

And you may very well find yourself inside an important fight for all humanity. Recently, I was part of a delegation to the United Nations, where we presented a new idea to the Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, and the General Assembly.

Because our civil society movements believe that there are no human rights if there are no protections for the earth, air, water, forests, wetlands and other species, we presented the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth which we hope will become, with time, the companion to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This concept was met with great enthusiasm from the Secretary General and many country delegates and I believe with my heart that it is only a matter of time before it becomes a cornerstone of public policy both at the United Nations and in every country and community in the world.

As Cormac Cullinan, a leading advocate for the rights of nature, explains: The day will come when the failure of our laws to recognize the right of a river to flow, to prohibit acts that destabilize the Earth’s climate, or to impose a duty to respect the intrinsic value and right to exist of all life will be as reprehensible as allowing people to be bought and sold. We will only flourish by changing these systems and claiming our identify, as well as assuming our responsibilities, as members of the Earth community.

I want to close with the words of the late, great American scientist and environmentalist, Carl Sagan, who said: Anything else you are interested in is not going to happen if you cannot breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out! Do something! You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.

Thank you York University, for this great honour.

© 2014 Maude Barlow

Maude Barlow is the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, chairperson of Food and Water Watch in the U.S., and co-founder of theBlue Planet Project, which is instrumental in the international community in working for the right to water for all people.

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Beyond Obama’s Plan: A New Economic Vision for Addressing Climate Change

Jeremy Rifkin | Huffingtonpost | June 15th 2014

climate changeThe White House today released its national climate plan for reducing CO2 emissions, warning that climate change is adversely affecting every region of the United States, with dire consequences for the economy. Unfortunately, the new initiatives by the US government to ward off rising temperatures are weak at best. What’s sorely missing from the climate change debate is a new economic vision that can quickly transition the US and global economy out of carbon based energy and into renewable energies, while simultaneously increasing productivity and reducing the amount of the earth’s resources used in the economic process, ensuring a more prosperous and sustainable society. That vision is now taking hold.

A powerful new technology revolution is evolving that will allow enterprises and prosumers to make and share their own green electricity, and an increasing array of sustainable physical products and services, at near zero marginal cost, just as billions of prosumers now do with information goods. (Marginal cost is the cost of producing an additional unit of a good or service after the fixed costs have been absorbed). The Communication Internet is converging with a fledgling Energy Internet and nascent automated Transport and Logistics Internet, creating a new technological infrastructure for society–a Third Industrial Revolution–that could fundamentally alter the global economy and usher in an ecological civilization in the first half of the 21st century. Billions of sensors are being attached to resource flows, warehouses, road systems, factory production lines, the electricity transmission grid, offices, homes, stores, and vehicles, continually monitoring their status and performance and feeding big data back to the Internet of Things. By 2030, it is estimated there will be more than 100 trillion sensors connecting the human and natural environment in a global distributed intelligent network.

Enterprises and prosumers will be able to connect to the Internet of Things (IoT) and use Big Data and analytics to develop predictive algorithms that can speed efficiency, increase productivity, reduce the use of natural resources, and lower the marginal cost of producing renewable energy and manufactured products to near zero. They will be able to share what they’ve made with others on an emerging Collaborative Commons that is beginning to flourish alongside the conventional capitalist marketplace.

Zero Marginal Cost Renewable Energy

For example, the bulk of the energy we use to heat our homes and run our appliances, power our businesses, drive our vehicles, and operate every part of the global economy will be generated at near zero marginal cost and be nearly free in the coming decades. That’s already the case for several million early adopters who have transformed their homes and businesses into micro-power plants to harvest renewable energy on-site. Even before the fixed costs for the installation of solar and wind are paid back–often as little as 2 to 8 years–the marginal cost of the harvested energy is nearly free. Unlike fossil fuels and uranium for nuclear power, in which the commodity itself always costs something, the sun collected on rooftops and the wind travelling up the side of buildings are nearly free. The Internet of Things will enable prosumers to monitor their electricity usage in their buildings, optimize their energy efficiency, and share surplus green electricity with others on the Energy Internet.

The same exponential curves that drove the marginal cost of generating and distributing communication to near zero has touched off a similar revolution in the field of renewable energy. Richard Swanson, the founder of SunPower Corporation, observed the same doubling phenomena in solar that IT companies observed in computer chips. Swanson’s law holds that the price of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells tends to drop by 20 percent for every doubling of industry capacity. Crystalline silicon photovoltaic cell prices have fallen dramatically, from $60 a watt in 1976 to $0.66 a watt in 2013.

Solar cells are capturing more solar energy that strikes them while reducing the cost of harvesting the energy. Solar efficiencies for triple junction solar cells in the laboratory have reached 41 percent. Thin film has hit 20 percent efficiency in the laboratory. If this trend continues at the current pace–and most studies actually show an acceleration in exponentiality–solar energy will be as cheap as the current average retail price of electricity today by 2020 and half the price of coal electricity today by 2030.

The impact on society of near zero marginal cost solar energy is all the more pronounced when we consider the vast potential of these energy sources. The sun beams 470 exajoules of energy to Earth every 88 minutes–equaling the amount of energy human beings use in a year. If we could grab hold of one-tenth of 1 percent of the sun’s energy that reaches Earth, it would give us six times the energy we now use across the global economy.

Like solar radiation, wind is ubiquitous and blows everywhere in the world–although its strength and frequency varies. A Stanford University study on global wind capacity concluded that if 20 percent of the world’s available wind was harvested, it would generate seven times more electricity than we currently use to run the entire global economy. Wind capacity has been growing exponentially since the early 1990s and has already reached parity with conventionally generated electricity from fossil fuels and nuclear power in many regions of the world. In the past quarter century, wind-turbine productivity increased 100-fold and the average capacity per turbine grew by more than 1,000 percent. Increased performance and productivity has significantly reduced the cost of production, installation, and maintenance, leading to a growth rate of more than 30 percent per year between 1998 and 2007, or a doubling of capacity every two and a half years. Industry analysts forecast that the harvesting technology for solar and small wind power will be as cheap as cell phones and laptops within fifteen years.

Local, regional, and national governments around the world have instituted feed-in tariffs in the past few years, guaranteeing a premium price for renewable energy above the market value of other energies for a set period of usually 15 to 20 years to encourage early adopters to invest in the installation of wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and small hydro renewable energy generation and feed the new green electricity back to the transmission grid. Today, millions of business and homeowners in Europe are taking advantage of feed in tariffs and investing their own capital to install renewable energy harvesting technologies on site. While the up-front capital investment is significant, they are beginning to receive low-interest-rate green loans from banks and credit unions. The banks are more than willing to lend money at reduced interest rates because the premium price of the green energy being produced virtually ensures the loan will be honored.

Sixty-five countries have instituted feed-in tariffs, and over half of them are in the developing world. Feed-in tariffs have proven to be a powerful policy instrument in moving renewable energy online. Nearly two-thirds of the global wind and 87 percent of global photovoltaic capacity has been spurred by feed-in tariffs. Unfortunately, in the United States, only California, Vermont, Maine, Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Rhode Island have implemented even cursory feed-in tariffs.

Naysayers argue that subsidies for green energy, in the form of feed-in tariffs, are too costly for society. The reality is that they merely speed up adoption and scale, encourage competition, and spur innovation, which further increases the efficiency of renewable energy harvesting technologies and lowers the cost of production and installation.

[read full post here]

Geoengineering WON’T Stop Global Warming, Warns Study

By Ellie Zolfagharifard | Mail Online

  • This is according to a Canadian-led report that looked at 100 climate studies
  • The authors found that some approaches are more promising than others
  • These included forest management and geological storage of CO2
  • Others are less appealing, such as filling oceans with iron to absorb CO2
  • It follows a similar report in February that found schemes to deliberately manipulate the Earth’s climate could prove useless, and at worst harmful
  • This report found that geoengineering techniques would be unable to prevent surface temperatures from rising more than 2°C (3.6°F) by 2100

From aerosols that spray salt into the air, to machines that suck carbon from the atmosphere, scientists are conjuring up an increasing array of geoengineering techniques to battle climate change.

But this type of ‘climate engineering’ – which involves manipulating the natural processes after emissions have been released – will ultimately fail to help the world reach its emissions targets.

This is according to a new report authored by U.S. and Canadian researchers at six universities that argue tinkering with climate change isn’t a viable long-term solution to global warming.

From aerosols iron fertilization of the sea (left) to cloud seeding and greening deserts (right),  scientists are conjuring up an increasing array of geoengineering techniques to battle climate change. But this type of ‘climate engineering’  will ultimately fail to prevent global warming, according to a new report

From aerosols iron fertilization of the sea (left) to cloud seeding and greening deserts (right), scientists are conjuring up an increasing array of geoengineering techniques to battle climate change. But this type of ‘climate engineering’ will ultimately fail to prevent global warming, according to a new report

The report looked at a range of possible climate-altering approaches and concluded there is no way around it; governments have to reduce the amount of carbon being released into the atmosphere.

‘Some climate engineering strategies look very cheap on paper,’ said Dr Jonn Axsen, lead author of the study at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.

‘But when you consider other criteria, like ecological risk, public perceptions and the abilities of governments to control the technology, some options look very bad.’

The authors argue some approaches to climate engineering are more promising than others.

Strategies such as forest management and geological storage of carbon dioxide, for instance, may be useful if used alongside emission reduction.


Jane Goodall: Governments Must Challenge Fossil Fuel Corporations

Andrea Germanos | Commondreams | June 2nd 2014

Chimpanzee expert and conservationist Jane Goodall. (Photo: Kristoffer Tripplaar / World Bank)

Chimpanzee expert and conservationist Jane Goodall. (Photo: Kristoffer Tripplaar / World Bank)

Jane Goodall has stressed the need for governments to challenge the fossil fuel industry in order to confront the climate crisis.

The noted primatologist and conservationist, who has been in Australia in May and June, made the remarks in an interview with Tim Barlass for the Sydney Morning Herald.

She also singled out the government of Australia, which has been described as being part of “the carbon cartel,”  for its current state of environmental affairs.

The “window of time” left to act on the climate crisis requires individual action, the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace said. But politicians must act as well, and that means “governments standing up to the big corporations, the oil and gas industry,” and “putting caps on industrial emission of CO2.”

Among the countries that are not taking enough action is Australia, she said, and her message to politicians is straightforward: “Do you really, really not care about the future of your great-grandchildren? If we continue to destroy the world the way we are now, what’s the world going to be like for your great-grandchildren?”

On endangered species, the chimp expert said that “Australians need a wake-up call, because if action isn’t taken and action isn’t taken soon, then these creatures will be gone and they’ll be gone forever.”

Goodall also spoke about her youth- and community-based Roots and Shoots organization, which she says “is about listening to young people, listening to what they’re worried about,” and encouraging them to take action, be that ridding an ecosystem of an invasive species or raising funds for earthquake victims. “It’s about choosing projects yourself to help people, to help other animals, and to help the environment we all share.”


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A Heated Debate: Are Climate Scientists Being Forced to Toe the Line?

By Axel Bojanowski | Spiegel Online International

Lennart Bengtsson says he was pressured by colleagues to step down from his role at the controversial Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Lennart Bengtsson says he was pressured by colleagues to step down from his role at the controversial Global Warming Policy Foundation.

After joining a controversial lobby group critical of climate change, meteorologist Lennart Bengtsson claims he was shunned by colleagues, leading him to quit. Some scientists complain pressure to conform to consensus opinion has become a serious hindrance in the field.

News that Lennart Bengtsson, the respected former director of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, had joined the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), sent shockwaves through the climate research community. GWPF is most notable for its skepticism about climate change and its efforts to undermine the position of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The tremors his decision sent through the scientific community shocked Bengtsson.

The scientist said colleagues placed so much pressure on him after joining GWPF that he withdrew from the group out of fear for his own health. Bengtsson added that his treatment had been reminiscent of the persecution of suspected Communists in the United States during the era of McCarthyism in the 1950s.

Not all of his fellow climatologists agree. Gavin Schmidt a climatologist and climate modeler at NASA described the “alleged connection to McCarthy” as “ridiculous.” “As someone who has actually been threatened with criminal sanctions by a United States Senator only because of published science, I don’t quite see why Bengtsson’s total freedom to associate with anyone he wants — and let me be clear, he has this freedom — has in any way been compromised,” he said.

But Bengtsson insists that even close colleagues shunned him. He says that one research partner, apparently fearing damage to his reputation, withdrew from a study they had been conducting together. Bengtsson added no further details other than to state that the incident had been hurtful.

NASA’s Schmidt also expressed criticism of that claim. “This is so vague as to mean anything, and without an actual example, it is impossible to know what is being alleged.”

Clouds Gathered Ahead of Storm

It is now emerging that the clouds of controversy gathered ahead of the current storm. In February, Bengtsson weathered a significant setback. The scientific journal Environmental Research Letters declined to publish a study he had authored predicting a milder greenhouse effect. Peer reviewers described the report’s findings as “less than helpful” and added, “actually it is harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of ‘errors’ and worse from the climate-skeptic media side.”

Respected German meteorologist Hans von Storch of the Institute for Coastal Research at the Helmholtz Center, described the justification as “scandalous” and accused the journal of politically motivated decision-making not based on scientific standards. In a statement on the IOP Science website, Publisher Nicola Gulley emphasizes that the study was declined on scientific grounds. She argues that Bengtsson’s work failed to meet the journal’s high standards.

Climate researchers are now engaged in a debate about whether their science is being crippled by a compulsion to conform. They wonder if pressure to reach a consensus is too great. They ask if criticism is being suppressed. No less is at stake than the credibility of research evidence for climate change and the very question of whether climate research is still reliable.

Bengtsson said in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE that he wanted to open up the climate change debate by joining GWPF. He said that in view of large gaps in knowledge, the pressure to reach a consensus in climate research “does not make sense”.

Nevertheless, by joining the political lobby group, Bengtsson opened himself up to criticism that he had taken a position inappropriate for a scientist of his stature.

‘We Are not an Interest Group’

University of Washington climatologist Eric Steig says the activities of the GWPF are more reminiscent of McCarthyism than Bengtsson’s case. Steig says the GWPF boasts about investigating climate researchers. “They also have published opinion articles on their web site accusing mainstream climate scientists of having ‘secret societies’ and having political agendas designed with specific left-wing policy aims in mind,” he adds. “They have accused British schools of ‘brainwashing’ students by teaching them about climate change.” GWPF, for its part, calls itself a think tank that documents arguments stating why climate change as a problem is being overestimated.

Reto Knutti of the ETH Zürich technical university is also critical. “Organizations like the GWPF contribute to whipping scientific debate into a religious war,” he argues. “They distribute pseudo-scientific reports, even though they are actually pursuing a political aim,” says Knutti. Jochem Marotzke, who is Bengtsson’s successor at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, says, “GWPF works deliberately in a selective way. They mention only arguments that suit their purposes. Counterarguments are kept under wraps.”

Professor Myles Allen, a climate researcher at Oxford, says, “The problem is their anti-science agenda, clearly illustrated by the fact that they refused point blank to submit their recent report criticizing the IPCC 5th Assessment Report to the same kind of open peer review that the IPCC report was itself subjected to.”

GWPF Director Benny Peiser challenges assertions like that. “We are not an interest group; our scientists have no official or collective opinion — to any topics. If there were no taboos in climate science or climate policy, the GWPF would probably not exist.”

‘Stealth Advocates’

But even a professor long critical of the partisanship in the climate debate Roger Pielke Jr., an environmental scientist at the University of Colorado, says the group uses science to cloak its political agenda. Pielke emphasizes, however, that as a lobbying group GWPF “has every right to advance whatever arguments it wants. It often focuses on stealth advocacy — hiding its politics in science — a strategy common across the climate issue, found on all ‘sides,’ and is pretty common across many issues.”

Von Storch agrees that other political camps, such as environmental groups, also use “stealth advocates” to influence scientific debate. Pielke elaborates, “In a democracy people will organize around all sorts of shared interests, as they should, and many will share values that I don’t. So what? Bengtsson’s justifications for associating with GWPF are perfectly legitimate. That he was pressured by his peers with social and other sanctions reflects the deeply politicized nature of this issue.”

He argues that scientific research must be held to higher standards than lobby groups, but even those standards now the subject of greater scrutiny.

Many climatologists have been tacitly complaining about harassment and exclusion for years. But is the situation any worse in this scientific discipline than it is in others? Roger Pielke Sr. of the University of Colorado says, “Unfortunately, climate science has become very politicized and views that differ at all from those in control of the climate assessment process are either ignored or ridiculed. From my experience, I agree 100 percent with the allegations made by the very distinguished Lennart Bengtsson.

But who is doing the politicizing? Knutti says that it is pretty easy to tell. “If you are on the left politically, you believe in global warming,” he says. “If you are on the right, that is much less likely.” He adds that the line between opinion and fact is often blurred, even among scientists.

‘Dirty, Nasty, Destructive’

“Each side maintains the other is politicizing the debate,” explains Werner Krauss, an environmental ethnologist at the Helmholtz Center for Materials and Coastal Research in Geesthacht, Germany. He says climate research is dominated by “strongmen” who know how to exploit the media whenever they like. Krauss claims Bengtsson stage managed his move to GWPF in the media and alleges that climate research has fallen into the throes of the scientific equivalent of religious fervor. He says it is no wonder Bengtsson came under heavy fire for his decision.

At the same time, Heinrich Miller of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research says, “I find the way his colleagues reacted shocking. Apparently there is now pervasive disappointment because a shining scientific example is making his scientific doubts public,” he says. Miller adds that the Bengtsson case reminds him when politicians use “dirty tricks” to muzzle opponents.

Pielke Jr. confirms that climate research is a tough business. “We see hardball politics,” he says. “I have personally seen very strong social and professional pressures over the years. These include threats to my job, professional ostracism, public misrepresentations of my research and views, efforts to prevent me from speaking publicly and personal threats, many of which have been publicly documented.” He advises that “anyone who wishes to participate in the public debate on climate change should do so knowing how the politics are played today — dirty, nasty, destructive.”

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Day of Action Against Dirty Fuels: May 17


Big Oil is doing everything it can to convince policymakers that Keystone XL is in the best interest of the American people: pushing Congress to approve the pipeline, spending tens of millions of dollars on ads and funneling tens of millions more into lobbying and political campaigns.

But you’ve fought back with a flood of emails, phone calls and rallies to show them that the public does not want this dirty, dangerous pipeline and that we’re going to do whatever it takes to stop it. We need to keep meeting Big Oil’s aggressive campaign with determined resistance.

On Saturday, May 17, join communities around the country to ask the president and local officials to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, offshore drilling, and other dirty fuel projects that threaten our communities and destabilize our climate.

Click here to find a Day of Action event near you.

This Day of Action against Dirty Fuels is being jointly organized by members of the Tar Sands Coalition and Hands Across the Sand / Hands Across the Land. Hands, founded in 2010, grew into an international movement after the BP oil disaster in April of that year. People came together to join hands, forming symbolic barriers against spilled oil and the impact of other forms of extreme energy.

We invite activists across the nation to organize rallies, marches, and vigils that call on the president, state and local leaders to reject KXL and other tar sands pipelines, say no to dirty fossil fuel projects that endanger our local communities, and accelerate the shift to clean, renewable energy such as wind, solar and energy efficiency. Whether it’s seismic blasting, Arctic and offshore drilling, mountaintop removal coal mining, dangerous tar sands pipelines, fracking, exporting liquid natural gas, or shipping crude by rail through our hometowns, we all have reason to be concerned — for the health of our families, and the health of the planet.

May 17 is about standing up to dirty fuels, industry lies and business-as-usual politics. In over 90 events in more than 40 states, we’ll be showing policymakers that we won’t let Big Oil wreck the climate, or pollute our air and water.

Tar sands, fracking, and offshore drilling have no place in our energy future. As a country we can do better than this. Let’s make sure our representatives hear our voices loud and clear.

At all levels of government, decisions are being made now about what types of energy deserve our investments. It’s time to come together and make sure our leaders know that we want clean energy, and we want it now.

Show everyone where you stand on May 17 by standing with your community. Find an event near you today.

Why Global Warming Failed

Source: Suspicious0bservers

Ben Davidson:  Climate change is very real.  But, global warming models/predictions have been an abject failure for 20 years.  And yet the IPCC claims ever-higher certainty? How does this happen and what comes next?


Marco Rubio: Climate Change Is Not Man-Made


Source:Western Journalism

Marco Rubio says that climate change is a natural occurrence, and that human activity is not causing the dramatic climate changes.  Rubio also does not believe that the laws that that are being proposed to mitigate climate change will have any impact – except that they will destroy our economy. Transcript follows:

This week the White House released a dramatic new report on the dangers of climate change.

Reporter: Do you agree with the science on this? I mean how big a threat is climate change?

Marco Rubio: I don’t agree with the notion that some are putting out there including scientists that somehow there are actions we can take today that would actually have an impact on what’s happening in our climate.  Our climate is always changing and what they have chosen to do was take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to man-made activity.

Reporter: You don’t by that?

Rubio:  I don’t know of any era in world history where the climate has been stable.  Climate is always evolving and natural disasters have always existed.

Reporter: But let me get this straight.  You do not think that human activity – the production of CO2 – has caused warming to our planet?

Rubio: I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.  And, I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it – except, it will destroy our economy.

READ MORE: Marco Rubio Goes Full-On Climate Denier

Long-Standing Climate Paradox Resolved

Phys | May 5th 2014

climateClimate scientists have long documented the strong control of Earth’s orbital variations on the waxing and waning of the great ice ages, when huge “pluvial” lakes filled the valley floors of the Great Basin. For years it was thought that Great Basin climate marched to the tune of a different drummer. This paradox arose from an iconic climate record from Devils Hole, Nev., which suggested that Great Basin climate warmed out of glacial periods before warming from changes in the earth’s orbit.

However, in a new study, “Orbital control of western North America atmospheric circulation and  over two glacial cycles,” published today in the online journal Nature Communications, scientists revealed a 175,000 year-long climate record from Great Basin that shows ice age temperature oscillations centered around changes in earth’s orbit.

“Ice age temperature oscillations were the metronome and pacemaker of Great Basin climate change,” said Professor Yemane Asmerom, UNM Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, who was one of the co-authors in the study along with UNLV Geoscientist Matthew Lachniet, a former postdoctoral fellow of Asmerom’s, and also former UNM student Rhawn Denniston, now a professor at Cornell College and UNM Research Scientist Victor Polyak. “The research resolves a long-standing climate paradox arising from Devils Hole, which suggested incorrectly that climate was out of step with orbital variations.”

Led by Lachniet, the researchers showed that climate change in the Great Basin (and Nevada) matches the timing of orbitally-derived periods of glacial cycles, in line with the theory forwarded by Serbian scientist Milutin Milankovitch over 100 years ago.

“Our record is the first long-term and continuous record that shows unambiguously that the Great Basin climate was paced by the earth’s orbit around the sun,” Lachniet said. “It also includes more samples over time than any other record.”

Lachniet and his team showed that the Nevada climate has followed earth’s orbital variations like clockwork over the past 175,000 years, getting warmer and colder between conditions like today and the ice ages. The intensity of summertime solar radiation controlled temperature variations. These data help resolve the long-standing paradox from Devils Hole.

The researchers’ data covers some of the same time intervals as Devils Hole, but show that climate was actually in sync with Milankovitch forcing. The data match the phasing and amplitudes of summer insolation (650N), including the classic saw-tooth pattern of global ice volume and on-time terminations. Together with the observation of cold conditions during the marine isotope sub-stage glacial inception (5d), the data documents a strong precessional-scale Milankovitch forcing of southwestern paleoclimate.

“This stalagmite-based record has precise absolute chronology, unlike the ice-core record that has to rely on compaction model derived relative ages,” said Asmerom. “As a result, we established the timing of these clime transitions with unprecedented certainty. Our clean lab room here at the University of New Mexico enables us to do this kind of work. We are one of the few places in the nation positioned to do this type of work.”

The climate history was constructed from cave deposits that were collected between 2011-13 in Nevada – areas included Pinnacle Cave on Mt. Potosi in Clark County; Leviathan Cave, north of Pahranagat Wildlife Refuge; and Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park. It is the first long, continuous speleothem-based iconic climate record coming straight from the source to Devil’s Hole.

The stalagmites were age-dated precisely using uranium series isotopes at UNM, while the  was put together using oxygen isotope analysis at UNLV’s Las Vegas Isotope Science Laboratory.

“This work is part of a larger global effort at generate high-resolution records of climate change at various time scales,” Polyak said.

In addition, researchers showed that the growth of the iconic pluvial lakes in the Great Basin were controlled by this metronomic pulsing of climate changes linked to Earth’s orbit.

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Harvard Professor on IPCC and the Scientific Integrity of the “Summary for Policymakers” Report


In an article titled “Is the IPCC Government Approval Process Broken?”, Robert N. Stavins, who is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, Director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, stated the following regarding the IPCC’s “Summary for Policymakers” (SPM) document that condenses more than 2,000 pages of text from 15 chapters into an SPM document of 33 pages: “I was surprised by the degree to which governments felt free to recommend and sometimes insist on detailed changes to the SPM text on purely political, as opposed to scientific bases. The general motivations for government revisions – from most (but not all) participating delegations – appeared to be quite clear in the plenary sessions. These motivations were made explicit in the “contact groups,” which met behind closed doors in small groups with the lead authors on particularly challenging sections of the SPM. In these contact groups, government representatives worked to suppress text that might jeopardize their negotiating stances in international negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).”

An Unlikely Alliance Remaking The Climate Movement


Kristin Moe | PopularResistance.org | May 4 2014

It began with a dream and a memory.

Faith Spotted Eagle slept. In her sleep, she saw her grandmother lying on a table, wrapped in a blanket with her white braids on her chest.

Her sister appeared. “What’s going on?” Spotted Eagle asked.


I don’t know. They told us to come.”

Spotted Eagle closed her eyes, unsure of what do to, but knowing that it was impolite to stare back. Then her grandmother’s voice came to her.

Look at the treaties. There’s something in the treaties.”

That’s when she woke up.

Spotted Eagle is a Dakota/Nakota elder of the Ihanktonwan tribe in South Dakota. She wears skirts that brush her ankles, and her white braids hang over her shoulders like her grandmother’s — but when she puts on sunglasses, she looks like a badass.

She didn’t know exactly what the dream meant, but she believed it was the answer to a problem she’d been thinking about for some time: How to prevent the Keystone XL pipeline from going through Lakota traditional territory, sacred land.

Who will be able to stand with us?” she thought. “We have to stand with somebody.”

She prayed. And then she remembered the 1863 treaty between the Ihanktonwan and the Pawnee that was the first recorded peace treaty between tribes. She also remembered that throughout the last several decades alliances of natives and non-natives in the Northern Plains had formed and re-formed to defeat threats to land and water. Recently, Lakota elders had made moves to resurrect a new Cowboy Indian Alliance – this time to take on Keystone XL.

In late January of 2013, exactly 150 years after the signing of that first treaty, Spotted Eagle and other activists convened tribal representatives from across the continent on the Ihanktonwan reservation. Their purpose was to ratify the International Treaty to Protect the Sacred from Tar Sands and Keystone XL, a document based on that first 1863 peace treaty. It represented unprecedented unified action from North American indigenous people with one new addition: This new treaty also included a few of the ranchers from the Great Plains, who feel their lands are also threatened by the tar sands pipeline.

Spotted Eagle told visitors of how landowners and tribal members had come together in the past, and how they had successfully driven industry off their land. This was a version of the cowboy-Indian story these cowboys hadn’t heard.

Since then, the alliance has developed, tentatively, through shared purpose. Last week, from April 22-27, members of the budding Cowboy Indian Alliance joined with activists and representatives from tribes across North America in a five-day convergence on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., called Reject and Protect. Wearing moccasins and dusty boots, they ate and prayed together, protested, danced, met with elected officials and led a 5,000-person march through the streets, beginning each day with a ceremony. Their message hung clearly on a banner by the circle of tipis: “No Damn KXL.”

A radical departure

While native/non-native alliances have been forming in various places to prevent all kinds of industrial projects, it is Keystone that has galvanized the environmental movement in a way not seen since the anti-nuclear campaigns of the 1980s. The fight has sparked hundreds of marches, rallies and legal challenges, as well as one of the largest mass civil disobedience actions in the history of the environmental movement.Time magazine wrote in 2013 that it was turning out to be a watershed, the Selma and the Stonewall of the climate movement. That remains to be seen. What’s certain is that the campaign against Keystone has already altered the political landscape.

The environmental movement has long come under criticism for being led by the so-called Big Greens — largely white, middle class membership groups whose interests don’t often represent those actually living in the frontline communities where the pipeline will be built. But the coalition of cowboys and Indians offers a radical departure from this history. Moreover, it is a model of relationship-based organizing, rooted in a kind of spirituality often absent from the progressive world, and — given the role of indigenous leaders — begins to address the violence of colonization in a meaningful way. It may be that these so-called unlikely alliances offer the only chance of forging a movement strong and diverse enough to challenge a continent’s deeply entrenched dependence on fossil fuels.

When TransCanada, the pipeline company, began claiming the right to run the Keystone XL through private property, ranchers and landowners said they finally understood, in some small way, what it might have felt like for Native Americans to lose their land. In speaking of the ranchers, Casey Camp-Horinek, an activist and elder of the Ponca tribe, said, “They, too, are suffering under things like eminent domain. They, too, have had their lifestyles impinged upon by these major corporations.”

The nightmare that’s fostering kinship

The day after Nebraska rancher Bob Allpress rode through the nation’s capitol on horseback in a cavalry contingent of ranchers and tribal members, he was a little stiff. He doesn’t ride much anymore. But Allpress, with his bandana, boots and well-groomed mustache, still looks every inch the cowboy.

When the pipeline route through Nebraska was changed in 2012, ostensibly to avoid the ecologically-sensitive Sandhills, the newly proposed path now cut straight through the Allpress’ alfalfa field. If built, the pipeline would lie just 200 yards from their house.

This is no ordinary pipeline, just as tar sands is no ordinary oil. According to a Natural Resources Defense Council report, tar sands oil is 3.6 times more likely to spill than regular oil. It is also highly corrosive and nearly impossible to clean up. Residents who live near the path of Keystone 1 — a smaller, already existing tar sands pipeline operated by TransCanada — know this story already. They saw 14 spills — along its route from Canada to refineries in Oklahoma and Illinois — during the pipeline’s first year of operation.

TransCanada used what Allpress calls “the old slap and tickle” when it notified him that the pipeline would go through his land: a nice offer of some compensation up front, but a warning that under the law of eminent domain, the pipeline would go through no matter what.

TransCanada’s been nothing but deceitful and a bully the entire time,” he said. And in the words of his wife, Nancy, “We felt like we were the sacrifice.”

But cowboys don’t like to be pushed around. So they told TransCanada to shove it, and joined Bold Nebraska, a four-year-old organization led by Jane Kleeb that has emerged as one of TransCanada’s most formidable obstacles. When Bold Nebraska began partnering with tribes in South Dakota, the Allpresses were on board. They’ve since attended their first tribal council meetings, gone to rallies and public hearings, and written op-eds to Nebraska papers, refuting what Allpress calls TransCanada’s massive public relations campaign.

Environmental activism isn’t exactly what the Allpresses had in mind when they returned to Nebraska to retire from careers in government and the military, and investing what they had in their land.

I’m a redneck Republican,” Allpress joked. He and his wife are both ex-military. “Standing there in cowboy boots and a hat next to people in peace necklaces and hemp shirts” is a little outside his comfort zone. “It’s been — an experience. A good experience. We’ve enjoyed the hell out of it.”

As the sun set on the first evening of the Washington, D.C. gathering, folks sat under a white tent, eating dinner on paper plates and taking refuge from the tourists who swarm the camp, saying, “Look! Real Indians!”

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The Reality of Long Range Weather and Climate Forecasting – Piers Corbyn



In his talk, Piers Corbyn describes the failure of standard meteorology (SM) in outlook, theory, and practice. He included: signals in real meteorology data unexplained by SM; real role of jet stream, stratosphere, electro-jets, magnetosphere, solar wind, solar corona, and the Moon; the total inability of SM to explain: sudden stratospheric warmings and its consequences, tropical storm intensifications, angular momentum concentration in tornadoes; and the need for something else such as electromagnetic plasma explanations; the theoretical basis of non-standard long range weather forecasting on a real planet; a summary on his WeatherAction forecasting skill and examples; and the future of forecasting and meteorology, climate ‘science’ and science in general.

Piers Corbyn began recording weather and climate patterns at the age of five, constructing his own observation equipment. He obtained a first-class honors degree in physics at Imperial College London. In 1969, he became the first president of the Imperial College Students’ Union to be directly elected by the student body. He later studied astrophysics in 1979 at Queen Mary College, London, and then began examining the relationship between Earth’s weather and climate and solar activity. Following many years of weather prediction as an occupation, Piers formed WeatherAction in 1995, where he sells web-accessible long-range monthly forecasts for Britain and Ireland, Europe, and the USA plus special forecasts of ‘Red Weather periods’ and related increases in thunder/tornado and earthquake risk.

China Taking Steps to Clear the Air


Sierra Club | April 25 2014

Here’s some good news, China-style. Reports Vice: “Animal carcasses in its waterways, heavy particles in its air, toxic metals in its soil and food supply — these are a few of the things that led China to make waves on Earth Day by submitting proposals to its national legislature that would amend the country’s environmental protection law for the first time in 25 years.” If the proposals are approved by the National People’s Congress, China would increase its Ministry of Environmental Protection’s ability to enforce regulations, polluting companies could be closed, whistleblowers could gain legal protections, and industrial development could be restricted in certain areas. It all follows a declaration in March by Premier Li Keqiang, the second-ranked political leader and head of economic policy, of a “war on pollution” in the world’s biggest carbon-emitting nation.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace has issued a (moderately) optimistic report, “The End of China’s Coal Boom,” which focuses on coal policies announced by the government last fall and the coal pledges by 12 of China’s 34 provinces that have resulted from them. Coal consumption in China has increased at no more than 3 percent per year since 2012, which has a “How is this news?” aspect to it until you consider that 2003 and 2004’s rates were 19.2% and 17.5%, respectively. If China’s new coal programs are fully implemented, Greenpeace says, the slowdown in coal consumption “opens up a window of opportunity for peaking global CO2 emissions. Implementing the coal control measures could put China’s emissions almost in line with a 2-degrees trajectory.” (At the 2010 Copenhagen Accords, world leaders recognized the need to keep the increase in global temperature to no more than 2 degrees Celsius.)

That would be good news for all of us. “China’s coal consumption has become the single most significant determinant for the future of the world’s climate,” reports Greenpeace. “Between 2002 and 2012, CO2 emissions from coal burning in China increased by 4.5 billion [metric tons]. This is equivalent to the European Union’s entire emissions in 2011.”

If so much (tentatively) rosy news makes you a glutton for environmental punishment, you can follow the U.S. Embassy’s hourly Beijing air alerts. Spoiler: They seem to vary between “unhealthy” and “very unhealthy.”

For some not-so-great environmental news, learn how utilities companies are trying to blot out the solar revolution in Hawaii and elsewhere


Corrective Climate Change Ahead

Openhand | 13th April 2014

greenhouse_gas_101_onpageGlobal greenhouse gas emissions during the last ten years have been the highest in Human History according to a leaked report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Drafted by hundreds of scientists, it’s what’s considered to be the definitive ‘take’ on this perilous issue. Without drastic and immediate action, ‘temperatures will increase by 4 to 5 centigrade that could reap devastating effects on the planet’ they said. Personally I don’t see the global motivation to respond quickly enough by the general populus. That said, I am an optimist, because I believe in realignment; in that the earth has a resilient, self regulating eco-system. When challenged in this way, she may take a little time, but make no mistake, she will respond…

Luke warm efforts

The main details of the report have been leaked to the UK’s Independent (IPCC climate change report). Despite what many would consider luke warm efforts to address the problem, in recent years…

“greenhouse gas emissions grew more rapidly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the previous three decades”, according to the final draft by the IPCC.

“At this level, we could lose 20 to 30 per cent of our wildlife, as well as face more extreme weather”, according to Mike Childs, head of science, policy and research at Friends of the Earth. At 4C of warming, there could be a “devastating impact on agriculture, wildlife and human civilisation”, he added.

Cause for optimism?

I wonder what will make humanity and the system he’s created truly turn around? An awakening is indeed happening, and that is indeed very positive, yet to me, society is just not moving anywhere near fast enough.

They go onto say…

“Almost 80 per cent of the emissions growth between 1970 and 2010 was caused by fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes”, according to the report. To reach the 2C target, the experts warned that the global energy supply must dramatically change, with at least a tripling of the use of “zero and low-carbon energy, such as renewables, nuclear and fossil energy.”

But when will they (we) get the real point?…that the earth was never configured to sustain a ‘civilisation’ in the form that it is, plundering cheap, readily available energy meaning the population can expand and consumption escalate exponentially.

Gaia’s self regulating system

I do believe this is where Gaia’s self regulating system steps in. I believe we’re on the verge of seismic shifts in the global weather patterns, which will greatly affect the industrial food chain and especially the amount of growing land available – we’re already seeing a huge hike in US beef prices because of drought – haleluyah!

With the financial system teetering on the brink and likely to implode within the next couple of years, I do believe there will be a drastic downturn in the consumption of energy. At least that is my hope, anything less, would mean even more drastic corrective measures by Gaia becoming necessary. The last thing any of us would surely want is the complete destruction of the biosphere?

So I see collapse of ‘civilisation’ as we know it coming. I can feel it. And to me it’s a good thing. I believe it will encourage people to become more self sustaining again, to consume less; and the possibility to discover that less is more; that we can find peace, happiness and completeness within. It will be a tough road yes, but one that evolving – spiritual – people are seeded to master. That’s why we’re here, that’s the challenge we have a sacred agreement to take on.

The making of us

And it will be the making of us, encouraging people back into the universal fold, evolving into a new human form living as one with the natural harmonies of the earth. The Hopi Elders saw this Great Purification coming. I sense it upon us now (although the effects may take a little while to become more observable). There is nothing to fear, the worst would be the continuation of this limp wristed status quo.

So let’s look forwards to that time with commitment and courage, preparing as best we can now, by becoming increasingly self sustaining and spiritually aligned; because this climate change the IPCC is warning about, and the inevitable response of Gaia, could well be the making of us.

from my heart to yours

(on behalf of Openhand

Is global warming just a giant natural fluctuation?

McGill | 11th April 2014

greenland melting iceAn analysis of temperature data since 1500 all but rules out the possibility that global warming in the industrial era is just a natural fluctuation in the earth’s climate, according to a new study by McGill University physics professor Shaun Lovejoy.

The study, published online April 6 in the journal Climate Dynamics, represents a new approach to the question of whether global warming in the industrial era has been caused largely by man-made emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. Rather than using complex computer models to estimate the effects of greenhouse-gas emissions, Lovejoy examines historical data to assess the competing hypothesis: that warming over the past century is due to natural long-term variations in temperature.

“This study will be a blow to any remaining climate-change deniers,” Lovejoy says. “Their two most convincing arguments – that the warming is natural in origin, and that the computer models are wrong – are either directly contradicted by this analysis, or simply do not apply to it.”

Lovejoy’s study applies statistical methodology to determine the probability that global warming since 1880 is due to natural variability. His conclusion: the natural-warming hypothesis may be ruled out “with confidence levels great than 99%, and most likely greater than 99.9%.”

To assess the natural variability before much human interference, the new study uses “multi-proxy climate reconstructions” developed by scientists in recent years to estimate historical temperatures, as well as fluctuation-analysis techniques from nonlinear geophysics. The climate reconstructions take into account a variety of gauges found in nature, such as tree rings, ice cores, and lake sediments. And the fluctuation-analysis techniques make it possible to understand the temperature variations over wide ranges of time scales.

For the industrial era, Lovejoy’s analysis uses carbon-dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels as a proxy for all man-made climate influences – a simplification justified by the tight relationship between global economic activity and the emission of greenhouse gases and particulate pollution, he says. “This allows the new approach to implicitly include the cooling effects of particulate pollution that are still poorly quantified in computer models,” he adds.

While his new study makes no use of the huge computer models commonly used by scientists to estimate the magnitude of future climate change, Lovejoy’s findings effectively complement those of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he says. His study predicts, with 95% confidence, that a doubling of carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere would cause the climate to warm by between 1.9 and 4.2 degrees Celsius. That range is more precise than – but in line with — the IPCC’s prediction that temperatures would rise by 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius if CO2 concentrations double.

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