This is an archived newsroll page on A Socialist In Canada, consisting of headlines and weblinks, with occasional news summary and brief analysis, for the months indicated. For the current, ‘Ecology newsroll’ website page, go here.
Ecology newsroll headlines on A Socialist In Canada, February 2020
Two-thirds of the world’s most polluted cities are in India, Bloomberg News, Feb 25, 2020 The World Health Organization estimates that dirty air kills around 7 million people each year, while the World Bank says it drains the global economy of $5 trillion annually.
Related: World’s most polluted cities 2019, report by IQAir
Dr. Bruce Aylward reports on the COVID-19 mission to China of the World Health Organization, by Kate Allen, science and technology reporter, Toronto Star, Feb. 29, 2020 read the article here in pdf format: Dr. Bruce Aylward on WHO mission to China
Related: Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Feb 16 to 24, 2020, 40-page report
‘China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak has changed its course for the better’. Report on CBC News, Feb 28, 2020 …’It is the unanimous assessment of the team [the World Health Organization team that visited Wuhan, China this past week] that [the actions of Chinese government] have changed the course of this outbreak. It was a rapidly escalating outbreak. It has plateaued and is coming downward sooner than expected…’–Bruce Aylward, who led the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 mission to China
Reported previously on A Socialist In Canada: China’s Wuhan lockdown helped limit global spread of coronavirus, says World Health Organisation, South China Morning Post, Feb 24, 2020 China’s decision to put Wuhan into lockdown a month ago helped limit the global spread of Covid-19 outbreak, a senior official from the World Health Organisation said on Monday. Bruce Aylward, head of a WHO team that visited the city over the weekend, also confirmed that the number of new cases had been falling… “Cases are falling and they are falling because of the actions that have been taken.” … Aylward described the “all-government, all-society approach” as “extraordinary” and “probably the most ambitious and agile” in history… While China reported fewer infections over the weekend, the disease has now spread to 29 countries and regions with South Korea, Japan, Italy and Iran all reporting a surge in new cases…
How everyone decided tree planting will save the planet, and why it can’t, by Adam Vaughan, New Scientist (UK weekly), Feb 26, 2020 read the article here in pdf format: Can tree planting save us from global warming?
Previously reported on A Socialist In Canada:
* Most of the 11 million trees planted in Turkish project in November 2019 ‘may be dead’, The Guardian, Jan 30, 2020
* A global effort to plant a trillion trees is ‘overwhelmingly’ among the most effective and cheapest solutions to climate emergency, according to a new study, by Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams, July 5, 2019 and read: report in The Guardian, July 5, 2019
It’s not the apocalypse, but yes, you should care, by Dr. Helen Petousis-Harris, published in Newsroom (New Zealand), Feb 27, 2020 (Dr Helen Petousis-Harris is a vaccinologist and Associate Professor in the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences)
Related: Vigilance, not fear: What a coronavirus pandemic scenario looks like in Canada, by André Picard, health columnist, Globe and Mail, Feb 28, 2020 read the column here in pdf format: Vigilance not fear
Coronavirus hits seniors the hardest. Italy’s elderly population is on the front line, by Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, Washington Post, Feb 26, 2020 read the article here in pdf format: Coronavirus hits seniors the hardest …In one of the first major Chinese studies into the coronavirus, published earlier this month, researchers found that people younger than 50 years old died in roughly 1 of every 325 cases, or 0.3 percent. But for people in their 70s, roughly 8 percent of people who contract the virus don’t survive. For people 80 or older, the death rate hits nearly 15 percent…
Trump’s reckless coronavirus statements put the entire U.S. at risk, The Verge, Feb 25, 2020
Rising sea levels put Myanmar’s villages on frontline of climate change, Reuters, Feb 27, 2020
The future for children in a planet on fire, by André Picard, health columnist, Globe and Mail, Feb 24, 2020 read the column here in pdf format: The future for children in a planet on fire Every child on Earth faces existential threats from climate change, ecological degradation, pervasive inequality and exploitative marketing. That is the grim message delivered in a new report entitled ‘A Future For the World’s Children?‘. Prepared by 40 international experts in child and adolescent health under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the medical journal The Lancet, the report says there have been dramatic improvements in child health over the past two decades, but the progress risks being lost – principally because of climate change…
Facing undeniable reality of climate change, deniers now argue it’s not that bad, by Simon Chandler, Truthout.org, Feb 23, 2020 … Even if it’s no longer viable to openly and directly claim that human activity isn’t heating the Earth, organizations with an interest in maintaining the status quo of fossil fuels have nonetheless been finding more indirect and inventive ways of undermining the world’s growing concern for its own future…
Fear of coronavirus pandemic grows though rate of new infections continues to decline in China, Australian Associated Press, Feb 24, 2020
* Asian stocks, currencies fall sharply as coronavirus cases surge, Reuters, Feb 24, 2020
* More new infections and deaths in China from coronavirus but the increases are lower and officials are intensifying efforts to stem the epidemic. Report by Associated Press, Feb 19, 2020 New virus cases in China rose by just 394 from the previous day, with a rise in the death toll of 114, the government said Thursday, as health inspectors went door-to-door to find every infected person in the worst-hit city. Mainland China has now reported 2,118 deaths and 74,576 total cases. While the overall spread of the virus has been slowing, the situation remains severe in Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, where the new coronavirus was first detected in December…
* Think exotic animals are to blame for the COVID-19 coronavirus? Think again, by Sonia Shah, The Nation, Feb 18, 2020 Scientists have fingered bats and pangolins as potential sources of the virus, but the real blame lies elsewhere—with human assaults on the environment
* The COVID-19 epidemic: A short and provisional summary, by Professor Mick Dunford (University of Sussex) exclusive report on New Cold War.org, Feb 15, 2020
As Nobel prize winners, we demand Justin Trudeau stop the Teck Frontier tar sands strip mine in Alberta, open letter by 42 past recipients in Canada of the Nobel Prize, published in The Guardian, Feb 21, 2020 …Projects that enable fossil-fuel growth at this moment in time are an affront to our state of climate emergency, and the mere fact that they warrant debate in Canada should be seen as a disgrace… [Update: On February 23, the Canadian mining multinational Teck Resources announced it has cancelled plans to build a $20 billion-plus tar sands strip mine and processor in northern Alberta. For more on this story, see the ‘Canada newsroll‘ page of A Socialist In Canada website.]
* What the proposed tar sands strip mine by Teck Resources in northern Alberta will destroy, by Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, Feb 19, 2020 Old growth forest, wetlands, wildlife–the formal review panel added this up and wrote it off. Any day now, the Trudeau government is expected to render its verdict on the $20-billion Teck Resources Frontier mine proposed to push Alberta’s industrialized oilsands landscape farther north…
* Former climate change negotiators for Canada call on Ottawa to end its hypocrisy over global warming, op-ed by Paul Fauteux, Howard Mann, Chris McDermott and Guy Saint-Jacques, published in Toronto Star, Feb. 20, 2020 read the commentary here in pdf format: Canada’s climate change hypocrisy
Climate change and the need to exit the consumptagenic system, commentary by Sharon Friel (Australian National University), published in The Lancet, Feb 20, 2020 (Read the two-page commentary here in pdf format: Exit the consumptagenic system, The Lancet, Feb 2020) …Future policy action and advocacy must focus on the operation of the consumptagenic system. Targets should be the institutions, actors, structures, and ideas that embed facilitate, and normalise the global dominance of a consumptagenic system addicted to growth irrespective of the environmental, social, and health costs…
Methane emissions from fossil fuels ‘severely underestimated’ says new study published in Nature Magazine, report in Carbon Brief, Feb 19, 2020
Planners talk about resilience in the face of climate change. We need to start using a different ‘r’ word: retreat, by Steven Bingler and Martin C. Pedersen, Washington Post, Feb 18, 2020 (Read the essay here in pdf format: Not resilience but retreat)
Related: Boston facing inundation as it prepares for an era of rising water, Washington Post, Feb 19, 2020
… Although Florida, Louisiana and the Carolinas are frequently associated with flooding, Boston is ranked the world’s eighth most vulnerable to floods among 136 coastal cities by a 2013 study produced by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development… A surging sea could wreak havoc in a place where half the city is built on low-lying landfill. Among the vulnerable spots are commercial piers, Logan International Airport, low-income neighborhoods, the South End, the New England Aquarium and pricey apartment buildings in the newly redeveloped Seaport area. The effects are evident already; seawater at high tide has lapped up onto some streets even on days when the sun is shining.
…Boston is one of 94 cities worldwide sharing information about how to deal with climate change. In the end, Princeton University’s Michael Oppenheimer warned, retreat might be the only option.
…There are no sea walls where most of Boston’s poorest residents live. “Your most vulnerable citizens are more likely to bear the burden of climate change disproportionately, so if we don’t provide climate adaptation plans, you’re doing more of our people a disservice,” Boston’s chief of environment, energy and open space, Christopher Cook, said…
Extreme weather could spark economic recession ‘the likes of which we’ve never seen before, research warns, Common Dreams, Feb 18, 2020
Australia tops Qatar as the world’s largest producer and exporter of liquefied natural gas, Sydney Morning Herald, Jan 6, 2020 Australia has overtaken Qatar to become the world’s top exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG), shipping 77.5 million tonnes in 2019 with an export value of $49 billion as the fuel becomes increasingly important in the global energy mix. Australia’s production capacity is 88 million tonnes while Qatar’s is 77 million tonnes, meaning there is still room to grow…
* Chevron faces possible fines for Gorgon LNG’s emissions in Australia, Reuters, Sept 26, 2019 Chevron Corporation might have to pay penalties for carbon emissions from its huge Gorgon LNG plant off Western Australia after running into delays starting one of the world’s biggest carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects…
* A Gorgon-tuan problem, by Tom Swann, seven-page report by The Australia Institute, Nov 2018 …Chevron’s Gorgon LNG Project is often lauded as the flagship project for ‘carbon capture and storage’ (CCS). But the Gorgon Project’s CCS has failed for the past two years, emitting millions of tonnes of CO2 that it promised to sequester… The project released millions of tonnes CO2 last year that were meant to be sequestered. This failure represents half of Australia’s increase in emissions over the last year. If required to offset these emissions, Gorgon would need to pay more than $55m million a year. However, Gorgon will face no penalties and is in line to receive $60m in taxpayer subsidy…
Record fires and dead coral reefs aren’t dulling Australia’s lust for coal, Washington Post, Feb 12, 2020 …As much of a warming world considers alternatives to burning coal for energy, Australia embarked last year on one of the largest expansions of the industry in a generation. The Indian conglomerate Adani received approval to tap one of the world’s largest reserves of thermal coal, the kind that when burned in power plants releases carbon dioxide, which is linked to climate change…
Related: Activists in Germany outraged as Siemens engineering firm backs Adani coal mining project in Australia, Deutsche Welle, Jan 13, 2020
Australia’s updated climate policy: ‘Get fucken used to it’, three-minute video by Australia’s satiric Juice Media, Feb 11, 2020
Global financial giants swear off funding Alberta’s especially dirty fuel, by Christopher Flavelle, New York Times, Feb. 13, 2020 Some of the world’s largest financial institutions have stopped putting their money behind oil production in the Canadian province of Alberta, home to one of the world’s most extensive, and also dirtiest, oil reserves. (Read the article here in PDF format: Divestment from Alberta tar sands)
NOAA reports that January 2020 was the world’s hottest January on record, Common Dreams, Feb 13, 2020
A crisis right now: San Francisco and Manila face rising seas, New York Times, Feb 13, 2020 The New York Times global climate reporter and a photographer for The Times traveled to the Philippines and California to see how rising sea levels are affecting two big metropolitan areas. An estimated 600 million people live directly on the world’s coastlines, among the most hazardous places to be in the era of climate change. According to scientific projections, the oceans stand to rise by one to four feet by the end of the century, with projections of more ferocious storms and higher tides that could upend the lives of entire communities…
European Union votes for 55 more natural gas infrastructure projects, climate activists cry betrayal of EU’s ‘Green New Deal’, Deutsche Welle, Feb 12, 2020
Related: The EU’s green deal is a colossal exercise in greenwashing, by Yanis Varoufakis and David Adler, The Guardian, Feb 7, 2020
Karl Marx and the place of Indigenous peoples in history, by John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark and Hannah Holleman, Monthly Review, issue of February 2020
Capitalism’s growing assault on the oceans, by Ian Angus, publisher, Climate and Capitalism, Feb 5, 2020 ‘A new phase in humanity’s relationship with the biosphere has opened, where the ocean is not only crucial but is being fundamentally changed‘ Capitalism’s inherent drive to expand went into overdrive in the mid-20th century. Long-term socioeconomic and Earth System trends, graphed 15 years ago and updated in 2015, show nearly simultaneous ‘hockey stick’ upturns in about 1950. Called the Great Acceleration, the speed-up is driving what Earth System scientists describe as “the most rapid transformation of the human relationship with the natural world in the history of humankind.” It marks the beginning of a new historical and geological epoch, the Anthropocene — a time when “human activities have become so pervasive and profound that they rival the great forces of nature and are pushing the Earth into planetary terra incognita.” …
New study warns climate chaos driving rapid decline of bumblebees, Common Dreams, Feb 7, 2020 The research published in Science magazine adds to a growing body of evidence for alarming, widespread losses of biodiversity and for rates of global change that now exceed the critical limits of ecosystem resilience.
Related: Bumblebee decline linked with extreme heat waves, by Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News, Feb 6, 2020 Climate chaos is wiping out important pollinators and hastening the loss of global biodiversity, a new study says.
World misses symbolic February deadline to ratchet up climate action before ‘COP 26’ conference to take place in Glasgow in Nov 2020, by Alister Doyle, Climate Home Network, Feb 7, 2020
* Japan to build 22 new coal-fired power plants, blatantly ignoring climate risk, by Sally Ho, published in Green Queen, Feb 7, 2020
* Japan races to build new coal-burning power plants, despite the climate risks, New York Times, Feb 7, 2020
Ecology newsroll headlines on A Socialist In Canada, January 2020
Scientists raise alarm over warm ocean water destabilizing Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, Common Dreams, Jan 31, 2020
Related: Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier is melting. Can we save it in time?, by Adam Vaughan, New Scientist (weekly), print issue of Jan 18, 2020, issue 3265 Read the article here in pdf format: Thwaites Glacier melting
Environmental lawyer Steven Donziger led successful 2009 legal case against Chevron in Ecuador. He has lost everything to Chevron’s backlash, by Sharon Lerner, The Intercept, Jan 29, 2020 …The latest twists and turns in the Chevron-Ecuador pollution case (Wikipedia) may be particularly bad news for climate activists. A mere 20 companies are responsible for one third of the greenhouse gases emitted in the modern era; Chevron ranks second only to Saudi Aramco among them. It’s increasingly clear that addressing the climate crisis will require confronting these mega-emitters, whose resources for litigation dwarf that of any individual… Making Chevron and other companies clean up the messes created by their oil production will speed the transition away from fossil fuels, according to Rex Weyler, an environmental advocate who co-founded Greenpeace International and directed the original Greenpeace Foundation. Weyler feels that the climate movement should focus on the Chevron case, notably the legal persecution of Steven Donziger. He is the lead lawyer in the 2009 case that won a multibillion-dollar judgment in Ecuador against Chevron in 2009 over the massive contamination of the country’s Lago Agrio region…
Shipping lines turn to LNG-powered vessels, but they’re worse for the climate, by Phil McKenna, Inside Climate News, Jan 31, 2020
Is natural gas really helping the U.S. to cut emissions?, by Nicholas Kusnetz, Inside Climate News, Jan 30, 2020
Booming plastics industry faces backlash as data about environmental harm grows, by James Bruggers, Inside Climate News, Jan 24, 2020 Environmentalists cite “an incredible disconnect” between government support for plastics manufacturing and evidence of the industry’s pollution and climate impact.
World Health Organization declares the new coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, news release by World Health Organization, Jan 30, 2020
* World Health Organization praises China’s response to coronavirus, will reconvene expert committee to assess global threat, by Andrew Joseph and Megan Thielking, STAT media company, Jan 29, 2020 The leaders of the World Health Organization on January 29 praised China’s response to the ongoing outbreak of a novel coronavirus that emerged there and has since spread to more than a dozen other countries. They said the agency would again convene its expert committee to weigh whether the outbreak amounts to a global health emergency… There have been reports from China questioning whether the country has been accurately documenting all deaths tied to the outbreak and how prepared it was to handle an emerging pathogen. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who had just returned from meeting with Chinese leaders in Beijing, including President Xi Jinping, told reporters on January 29 that Chinese officials had shown they were committed to combating the transmission of the virus and demonstrated cooperation with other countries to stem its global spread…
* WHO, China leaders discuss next steps in battle against coronavirus outbreak, news release by the World Health Organization, Jan 28, 2020 …The WHO delegation [arrived in China] highly appreciated the actions China has implemented in response to the outbreak, its speed in identifying the virus and openness to sharing information with WHO and other countries…
Notes on the deadly coronavirus 2019-nCoV, by Rob Wallace, published on MR Online, Jan 29, 2020 (Rob Wallace is an evolutionary biologist. He blogs at Farming Pathogens. He is the author of the 2016 book Big Farms Make Big Flu: Dispatches on Infectious Disease, Agribusiness, and the Nature of Science (Monthly Review Press). )
Renowned Mexican conservationist Homero Gómez González found dead, Common Dreams, Jan 30, 2020 Human rights advocates and the conservationist’s family were raising concerns about threats from the illegal logging industry and organized crime …A Global Witness report from last year named Mexico the world’s sixth-deadliest country for eco-defenders, part of “a worrying global trend” of environmentalists risking their safety by facing off against “governments, companies, and criminal gangs [that] are routinely stealing land and trashing habitats in pursuit of profit” …
New Zealand proudly announced in 2019 that it will go ‘zero carbon’ by 2050, then in early 2020 it announces $5.3 billion for road and highway expansions, by Ana Renker-Darby and David Robertson zero), The Spinoff, Jan 29, 2020
Related: New road-building projects could lock in emissions for decades, by Marc Daalder (Wellington), Newsroom.co.nz, Jan 31, 2020
Democratic Party unity splinters in Pennsylvania as plastics industry expands, taking advantage of state’s natural gas fracking reserves, Washington Post, Jan 27, 2020 …Shell Oil’s $6 billion, 400-acre polyethelene facility under construction near Pittsburgh relies on the state’s vast reserves of natural gas, obtained by fracking shale, to produce ethylene, a component of plastic that is used for various consumer products, from food containers to furniture. Construction work has generated 6,000 jobs already and the facility is slated to employ 600 permanent workers when it opens in the early 2020s… The Shell plant is licensed to produce up to 1.6 million tons of polyethylene annually, a process that could involve emitting up to 522 tons of volatile organic compounds and 348 tons of nitrogen oxides annually… Two democratic socialists, Sara Innamorato and Summer Lee, unseated incumbent Democrats in state legislative races in Allegheny County after they campaigned on environmental issues, including opposition to fracking…
Related: In crucial Pennsylvania, Democrats worry a fracking ban could sink them, New York Times, Jan 27, 2020 … While Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren push a nationwide fracking ban, other leading Democrats — Joseph Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Michael R. Bloomberg — have held back, calling instead for tighter regulations, a ban on new oil and gas drilling leases on federal lands, and a transition away from natural gas over time… Potential battleground states such as Ohio and Texas where Democrats nurse dreams of winning are hotbeds of natural gas drilling and fracking. Mr. Trump has signaled he hopes for a Republican comeback in New Mexico, another fracking state. Mr. Trump has made plain that his unabashed advocacy for oil and gas development will be central to his re-election, as he blasts Democrats as “anti-energy zealots”…
The ‘collapsologie’ school of thought in France: Constructing an idea of how things fall apart, essay by Harrison Stetler, published in New York Review of Books, Jan 21, 2020 …Efforts such as the Green New Deal suffer ultimately from “the technological illusion. It’s the Californian technological dream in disguise.” For Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens (co-authors of the bestselling 2015 book Comment tout peut s’effondrer: petit manuel de collapsologie à l’usage des générations présentes, English-language edition forthcoming), the horizon of sustainable development–a greened industrial society shorn of its addiction to fossil fuels–ignores what they call the Earth’s “uncrossable thresholds”. The earth being a closed system, in which a finite quantity of resources is available to a variable population of exploiters (us), poses the inexorable question of limits. For example, plans to “transition” our energy system from fossil fuels to renewable sources such as wind and solar power while still assuming an exponential expansion in energy use will not be able to overcome the fact that these new technologies depend on the exploitation of a very limited quantity of rare-earth metals…
2020 begins with the prospect of rising heat, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, Jan 24, 2020 The year is less than four weeks old, but scientists already know that carbon dioxide emissions will continue to head upwards leading to a continuation of the Earth’s rising heat. And they warn that the rise will be steeper than usual, partly because of the devastating bush fires in Australia… On January 23, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that it had moved the hands of its symbolic Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds from midnight – the closest they have ever been to the time chosen to represent apocalypse. The reason? “Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers – nuclear war and climate change – compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare, that undercuts society’s ability to respond”, say the scientists. “World leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure [that is responsible for managing the dangers] to erode.”
China scrambles to contain coronavirus as death toll climbs, Deutsche Welle, Jan 26, 2020
* China has temporarily banned its wildlife trade in response to coronavirus outbreak, The Associated Press, Jan 26, 2020
* Snakes sold in local food markets could be the original source of the new coronavirus outbreak in China, by professors Haitao Guo, Guangxiang “George” Luo and Shou-Jiang Gao, published in The Conversation, Jan 22, 2020
In defeat for environmentalists, Oslo court backs Norway government’s approval of Arctic oil exploration, Climate Home News, Jan 23, 2020
Related: In open letter, Greta Thunberg shames Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for their plans to expand crude oil and tar sands extraction and burning, published in News in English Norway, Dec 11, 2019
How does a nation adapt to its own self-destruction?, commentary by Richard Flanagan (Australian novelist), in New York Times, Jan 25, 2020 Australia is going up in flames while its government calls for resilience and plans more coal mines.
* As Australia burns, climate change denying MP Craig Kelly rallies the troops, by Damien Cave, New York Times, Jan 22, 2020
…Before Prime Minister Scott Morrison started emphasizing that the best way to fight future fires would be through more preventive burning rather than serious action on global warming, Mr. Kelly was hammering the point. He blamed “green madness” and “climate alarmists” — a term used by President Trump this week in Davos, Switzerland — for exaggerating the role of climate change and preventing the defensive burns, even though fire officials have said the problem is resources and time, not politics. Echoing Mr. Kelly’s argument that cutting Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions will not prevent fires, the prime minister has also moved straight on to rebuilding and recovery rather than addressing the public’s concerns about the warming climate…
* Australia’s burning forests are signs we’ve passed a global warming tipping point, by Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News, Jan 8, 2020
Lithium extraction for e-mobility robs Chilean communities of water, Deutsche Welle, Jan 23, 2020 Global demand for lithium is expected to triple in six years. But mining companies are increasingly coming into conflict with indigenous communities who are worried about the future of their ecosystems. With the world’s largest reserves of the valuable metal, Chile has been called “the Saudi Arabia of lithium.” Over the last 20 years, 40 per cent of the global lithium supply has come from Chile. Global demand is expected to triple within the next six years…
Humanity is risking ‘global disaster’ as material consumption passes 100 billion tons annually, Common Dreams, Jan 22, 2020 … The global think tank Circle Economy showed in its study (pdf) that global consumption just in the last two years has risen by eight per cent while the reuse and recycling of materials has gone down by half a percentage point—the exact opposite of what needs to happen to build a sustainable global economy…
How melting permafrost is beginning to transform the Arctic, by Ed Struzik, Yale Envioronment 360, Jan 21, 2020 The frozen layer of soil that has underlain the Arctic tundra for millennia is now starting to thaw. This melting, which could release vast amounts of greenhouse gases, is already changing the Arctic landscape by causing landslides, draining lakes, and altering vegetation.
America’s radioactive secret in fracked oil and gas, by Justin Nobel, Rolling Stone, Jan 21, 2020 Oil-and-gas wells produce nearly a trillion gallons of toxic, radioactive waste per year. An investigation shows how it could be making workers sick and contaminating communities across America.
Why these Australia fires are like nothing we’ve seen before, New York Times, Jan 20, 2020
More than 16 million acres (6.5 million hectares) have gone up in flames. It has happened in populated areas, unlike most of the world’s other blazes of this scale.
Related: Long shaped by fire, Australia enters a perilous new era, by Fred Pearce, Yale Envioronment 360, Jan 16, 2020 Australia has always been a dry continent where fire has played an important ecological role. But the latest massive conflagrations there are evidence that a hotter climate has thrust Australia into a new normal where fires will keep burning on an unprecedented scale.
Reform or revolution in the 2020s?, by Mike Treen, The Daily Blog (New Zealand), Jan 14, 2020 …The solutions to the current economic and ecological crises should be solutions that look to replace a system based on the pursuit of private profit with a system the empowers workers and has solutions to social problems based on collective solidarity.Tackling the climate crisis is only possible with a system not based on relentless growth and the pursuit of profit. These policies can be put together as a plan for a ‘Green New Deal’ that priorities well-paid jobs, public housing, health care and education for all. Such a Green New Deal should include these essential features…
Measures to reduce air pollution quickly result in big health benefits, says report from U of Illinois, by Michael LePage, New Scientist, Dec 6, 2020
U.S. court of appeal rejects lawsuit by 21 youth plaintiffs against U.S. gov’t for refusing to act on global warming emergency, Common Dreams, Jan 18, 2020
Related: The young plaintiffs of the ‘Juliana 21’ climate lawswuit vow to continue fight for environmental justice, press release by ‘Our Children’s Trust’ and ‘Earth Guardians’, Jan 17, 2020 The divided decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on January , 2020 finds primarily for the ‘Juliana 21’ plaintiffs but decides that the federal judiciary can do nothing to stop the U.S. gov’t causing climate change and harming children.
The pesticide industry’s playbook for poisoning the Earth, feature essay by Lee Fang, The Intercept, Jan 18, 2020
Hidden cameras at gala event in Washington capture misinformation, fundraising tactics used by anti-vaccine movement, CBC News, Jan 17, 2020
Related: Debunking anti-vaccination myths, broadcast on CBC Television‘s weekly ‘Marketplace’ program, Jan 17, 2020 (21-minutes)
Several thousand hold second climate change rally in Melbourne demanding resignation of PM Morrison, The Age, Jan 18, 2020
Upcoming: Climate Crisis National Day of Action event in Melbourne on Feb 22, 2020 The rally has been called by a meeting of more than 20 climate, social justice organisations and union activists in Melbourne.
The criminalization of Indigenous land defenders is a global concern, by Brent Patterson, Rabble.ca, Jan 17, 2020
* Extinction Rebellion listed as ‘key threat’ by Britain’s counter-terror police, The Guardian, Jan 19, 2020
* Greenpeace included with neo-Nazis on UK police counter-terror list, The Guardian, Jan 17, 2020
* Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament included in UK police counter-terror document, The Independent, Jan 18, 2020
The apocalyptic fires in Australia signal another future, a letter from Canberra, by Clive Hamilton, published in Sierra (national magazine of the Sierra Club), Jan 11, 2020
Related: Scott Morrison is facing bushfires, a grants saga and a perfect storm of political hopelessness, ABC.net.au, Jan 17, 2020
Can Australia’s eucalyptus forests recover from the fires?, by Kate Shuttleworth, Washinton Post, Jan 17, 2020 Australia is one of the most biodiverse places on Earth. Across this variety of terrain, one genus dominates the landscape: the eucalyptus tree. But due to the combination of drought, rising temperatures and unprecedented fires, the species is facing a challenge like never before.
Related: Australia’s wildfires: Are Eucalyptus trees to blame?, Live Science, Oct 21, 2013
Eighty per cent of Blue Mountains and 50 per cent of Gondwana rainforests have burned in bushfires, Guardian Australia, Jan 16, 2020 Guardian Australia analysis reveals the frightening amount of world heritage area burned in Australia’s ongoing fire crisis [The total area burned in the Australian bushfires of 2019/2020 as of early January 2020 is more than 8.5 million hectares. Of that, New South Wales has borne the brunt with 4.9 million hectares burned. source.]
Constrained discussion of nuclear energy on ‘Climate and Capitalism’ website
[The pro-nuclear essay published on Climate and Capitalism on Jan 15, 2020 is no doubt published in the name of discussion and debate over energy options for future society. But the essay is a mere re-telling of pro-nuclear falsehoods, without rejoinder. For example, we read, “Nuclear waste is the energy’s most significant shortcoming.” This is wrong. The overwhelming argument against nuclear energy is that it reinforces the centralized and capital-intensive network of energy production and distribution of expansionist capitalism and thus perpetuates the very capitalist system which serious ecologists and environmental activists understand to be the fundamental source of the global warming emergency.
[In the political as well as scientific realms, dreams of expanding nuclear energy ‘distract and delay’ from the urgent need for human society to turn its attention to the path of ‘decommodification’. That is, human society should be exclusively focused on the production of ‘use values’, in place of today’s near-universal focus on producing ‘exchange values’ in the form of commodities for sale. ‘Use values’ would meet the pressing social, ecological and spiritual needs of humans, beginning with its most oppressed and exploited members. That means provision of housing, health care, meaningful employment, education, and care for the young, old and disabled. It also means vast projects, coupled with vastly expanded science, to attenuate and eventually repair the ecological destruction and global warming emergency created by capitalism.
[The discussion and debate which the C&C website is presumably interested in fostering over nuclear energy is highly constrained because it does not include discussion of the option of ‘decommodification of human society’ (popularly termed ‘degrowth’ or ‘drawdown’). ‘Degrowth’ speaks to the necessary path to decommodification of human society, that is, a switch to producing use values instead of exchange values. This path happens to be one of the very central ideas of the two founders of Marxist philosophy and political thought–Karl Marx and Frederich Engels. Yet discussion and debate over this path is all-but absent among proponents of ‘ecosocialism’, of whom Climate and Capitalism and its affiliated publication Monthly Review are leading theoretical voices. To be clear, both publications have published anti-nuclear views extensively. But this has not been the case for viewpoints advocating degrowth (‘decommodification of human society’). Not at all.]
Petition calling for koalas to be introduced to New Zealand met with skepticism from ecologists, interview with Dr. Andrea Byrom, ecologist and director of New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge, broadcast on CBC Radio One‘s ‘The Current’, Jan 16, 2020 (11-minute interview) …Byrom says the chances of koalas surviving if introduced would be “quite high” because parts of New Zealand have relatively similar climates to the animals native habitat of Victoria. But help should instead be focused on rehabilitating and regenerating Australia’s own ecosystem to support koalas rather than bringing the species to New Zealand, she says…
Australian gov’t officials signal a shift from global warming denial to deflect and delay:
* Australia softens climate change rhetoric as bushfires, and voters, rage, Reuters, Jan 15, 2020 …A poll from the Australia Institute on Jan 15 showed the country’s bushfire crisis has intensified concerns about climate change with almost seven in ten Australians wanting the government to lead on climate action. But Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose popularity has sunk to its lowest levels since he took over leadership in 2018 over the government’s bushfire response, continues to espouse the merits of coal…
* Australia’s science minister calls for end to debate over whether climate change is real, SBS News, Jan 15, 2020 Top scientists will meet with Ms Andrews on Jan 15 to discuss a response to Australia’s unprecedented bushfires and how to address the effects of climate change fuelling their intensity.
* Two sides, same coin: It’s not about Labor or Liberal anymore, it’s too late for that now, by Nick Riemer, New Matilda, Jan 7, 2020 …Given the circumstances, distinctions between wet and dry, hard and soft, right and left in the ALP are ridiculous hair-splitting. Of course, there are ‘good people’ in the Labor Party. But they are no match for the careerist opportunists, apparatchiks-in-waiting, and nostalgists who will stick with the party regardless of what it actually stands for…
* What on Earth is the point of The Australian Labor Party?, by Liam McLoughlin, New Matilda, Sept 23, 2018 …For too long, there hasn’t been much of a choice for Labor Party voters. They could vote for the Labor Party whose leader promised to stop the boats, advocated boat turnbacks, killed the momentum of #LetThemStay, hobnobbed at exclusive, expensive fundraisers for business leaders, accepted political donations from fossil fuel companies, supported new coal mines and backed rafts of legislation transforming Australia into a police state, or they could vote for the Liberals Party…
Misrepresenting Marx’s ecology: A response to Daniel Tanuro’s book review of Kohei Saito’s 2018 book ‘Karl Marx’s Ecosocialism’, by John Bellamy Foster, published on MR Online, Jan 14, 2020
Nuclear energy ‘cannot rival renewable energy’, by Paul Brown, Climate News Network, Jan 14, 2020 Far from tackling climate change, nuclear power is an expensive distraction whose safety is threatened by wildfires and floods, experts say.
Rising, record-setting ocean warming continued in 2019, reports new scientific study, news report published in Eureka Alert! (news outlet of the American Association for the Advancement of Science), Jan 13, 2020 A new research paper published in Advances in Atmospheric Sciences on January 13 shows the world’s oceans were the warmest in 2019 than any other time in recorded human history, especially between the surface and a depth of 2,000 meters. The study, conducted by an international team of 14 scientists from 11 institutes across the world, also concludes that the past ten years have been the warmest on record for global ocean temperatures, with the past five years holding the highest record…
In the climate change wars, Greta Thunberg thrashes Roger Federer 6-0, 6-0, by Cathal Kelly, sports columnist, Globe and Mail, Jan 12, 2020 Over the weekend, Roger Federer was forced to try something new – defend his integrity. He didn’t do a very good job of it. Federer may be the world’s most successfully branded person. Among his portfolio of sponsors is the Swiss financial giant, Credit Suisse. Credit Suisse invests in all sorts of things, including oil and gas exploration. Environmentalists have angrily taken note, but there’s not much point in picking a fight with a bank. Everybody already hates banks, so nobody cares. Instead, they protested against Federer… Read the full column here in pdf format: Greta Thunberg thrashes Roger Federer
Thousands more flee homes in Australia as heat, high winds fan flames, Associated Press, Jan 10, 2020
* Two massive fires merge in New South Wales as 250,000 people in the state ordered to evacuate due to advancing fires, Sydney Morning Herald, Jan 10, 2020
* Tens of thousands rally in cites across Australia condemning Aus gov’t for accelerating global warming crisis, Deutsche Welle, Jan 10, 2020 [In Sydney alone, some 30,000 people came into the streets for a protest spearheaded by university students.].
* German engineering giant Siemens says it will decide whether to continue helping build new coal mine in Australia, Deutsche Welle, Jan 10, 2020 …The Carmichael coal mine is being developed by India’s Adani group in central Queensland. It would be the largest coal mine in Australia and one of the largest in the world…
* Australia’s wildfires have burned more than 8.4 million hectares, Global News, Jan 7, 2020
Coal stokes Aussie bushfire rage, Deutsche Welle, Jan 10, 2020
Related: Australian bushfires: The canary building the coal mine, Deutsche Welle, Jan 10, 2020 The world’s biggest exporter of coal is engulfed in flames and Aussies are taking to the streets demanding action. Could this summer be the turning point for a notorious climate offender?
Trump regime moves to exempt large projects from environmental review, New York Times, Jan 9, 2020 The White House on Thursday introduced major changes to the nation’s benchmark environmental protection law, moving to ease approval of major energy and infrastructure projects without detailed environmental review or consideration of climate change. Many of the changes to the law — the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act, a landmark measure that touches nearly every significant construction project in the country — had been long sought by the oil and gas industry as well as trade unions, which have argued that the review process is lengthy, cumbersome and used by environmental activists to drag out legal disputes and kill infrastructure projects…
How big are the Australia wildfires and where are they burning?, CTV News, Jan 7, 2020
Related: One billion animals killed in Australia wildfires called a ‘very conservative’ estimate, Common Dreams, Jan 7, 2020
Australia is committing climate suicide, commentary by Richard Flanagan (Australian novelist), in New York Times, Jan 3, 2020 As record fires rage, the country’s leaders seem intent on sending it to its doom. Read the commentary here in pdf format: Australia is committing climate suicide
New study links the changes in everyday weather to human-caused global warming, by Andrew Freedman, Washington Post, Jan 3, 2019 For the first time, scientists have detected the “fingerprint” of human-induced climate change on daily weather patterns at the global scale. If verified by subsequent work, the findings, published Jan 2, 2020 in Nature Climate Change, would upend the long-established narrative that daily weather is distinct from long-term climate change. The study’s results also imply that research aimed at assessing the human role in contributing to extreme weather events such as heat waves and floods may be underestimating the contribution…
2019 was Australia’s hottest and driest year on record, report on ABC (state broadcaster), Jan 1, 2020 (with charts) The data is in and 2019 has topped the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM) charts for average and maximum temperatures as well as the lowest annual rainfall across the country.
* People are looking for someone to blame and right now Prime Minister Scott Morrison is in their sights, Sydney Morning Herald, Jan 2, 2020 …Coping with the scale of the disaster unfolding on the south coast of New South Wales was never going to be easy, but with tens of thousands of stranded people trying to survive without basic necessities, there needs to be an unprecedented response. Right now, locals cannot work out who is in charge. I’ve heard of officials running evacuation centres not knowing they can put people up in motels paid for by the government… The Prime Minister has been firm on saying the response to this disaster is ultimately a state issue and he will help when asked. The response is well co-ordinated, he told a press conference today. But for people whose homes are wiped out and families without nappies for their babies, this must ring hollow…
* Australia’s deadly bushfires are so big they’ve started generating their own weather, Business Insider Australia, Jan 1, 2020
Race to evacuate thousands before Australia fire conditions worsen, Axios, Jan 2, 2019 and read: Worsening fire conditions forecast beginning Jan 4 in Australian state of New South Wales, SBS News, Jan 1, 2020
* Ecologists say entire species are being wiped out and half a billion animals may have been killed by Australia wildfires, Common Dreams, Jan 2, 2020
* Australia PM Scott Morrison under fire as thousands flee blazes, Guardian Australia, Jan 1, 2020
* We know Australia’s fire disaster is unprecedented, no amount of Scott Morrison spin can hide it, commentary by Lenore Taylor, Guardian Australia, Jan 1, 2020 (Lenore Taylor is the editor of Guardian Australia.)
* Now is not the time to talk about climate change. Cue the fireworks!, commentary by Darren Lewin-Hill, New Matilda, Dec 30, 2019
* Fires worsen in Australia, reaching Melbourne suburbs, Deutsche Welle, Dec 31, 2019
* Thousands trapped on beach in southeast Australia as fires approach, Deutsche Welle, Dec 31, 2019 [More than six million hectares of land have burned in Australia since the onset of the summer 2019-20 fire season (source). That’s app. nine times the 765,000 hectares burned in California’s record wildfires of 2018 (source).].
* Residents and holidaymakers in vast forest area of East Gippsland, app 250 km east of Melbourne, are urged to leave ahead of predicted escalation of bushfire danger, ABC.Net.au, Dec 28, 2019 An estimated 30,000 people are currently holidaying in the coastal area of East Gippsland while the area has a resident population of many tens of thousands. The threatened area is half the size of Belgium.
* Bushfires threaten Sydney’s drinking water supply, Sydney Morning Herald, Dec 27, 2019 [Warragamba Dam is 65 km west of Sydney and provides 80 per cent of the city’s water supply. So far, it has not been polluted by fire ash or heavy rain runoff. It is at 45 per cent capacity due to prolonged drought.]
The plastic polluters won 2019 – and we’re running out of time to stop them, by John Vidal, The Guardian, Jan 2, 2020 …In 2019, ultra-cheap shale gas from the decade-long U.S. fracking boom continued to fuel a surge of billion-dollar investments in new cracking plants that separate ethane from gas to produce ethylene, the building block of most plastic. Since 2010, the petrochemical industry has invested about $200bn, and with $100bn more planned to be spent, plastic production is expected to grow 40 per cent by 2030….
* The plastics pipeline: A surge of new production is on the way, by Beth Gardiner, Yale Environment 360, Dec 19, 2019 A world awash in plastic will soon see even more, as a host of new petrochemical plants — their ethane feedstock supplied by the gas fracking boom — come online. …Petrochemicals, the category that includes plastic, now account for 14 percent of oil use, and are expected to drive half of oil demand growth between now and 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says. The World Economic Forum predicts plastic production will double in the next 20 years.