January 2021 This is a newsroll page on A Socialist In Canada consisting of headlines with weblinks to published news articles and political analysis. Occasional commentary by the website publisher, Roger Annis, appears in square brackets [ ]. For preceding months, go to ‘News pages archives’ on the home page of A Socialist In Canada and use the drop-down menu. See also the feature articles on ecology and global warming that are listed in the website category ‘Environment‘ (listed on the main website page). Articles about the politics in Canada of the global warming emergency are listed in the ‘Canada newsroll‘ page of the website. To find past stories on this and other news pages on this website, use the ‘find’ (word search) function on your web browser. Headlines in red denote items published on the main news page of A Socialist In Canada.
Ecology newsroll headlines on A Socialist In Canada, January 2021
Full news and analysis of the ‘SARS-CoV-2’ coronavirus pandemic (‘Covid-19’ illness) is being reported daily on the World news page of A Socialist In Canada website.
An exhausted planet limps into 2021, by Robert Hunziker, published in Dissident Voice, Jan 12, 2021
* 2020 ties 2016 as Earth’s hottest year on record, even without El Niño to supercharge it, by Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News, Jan 8, 2021
* 2020 rivals hottest year on record, pushing Earth closer to a critical climate threshold, Washington Post, Jan 14, 2021 Escalating temperatures poise planet to breach 1.5 C for the first time, possibly later this decade
Biden team breaks with greens over U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade pact, by Adam Aton, Energy & Environment News, Jan 13, 2021 read the article here in PDF format: Biden and Greens at odds over trade
Related: Oil companies rush to lock in drilling, challenging Biden on climate policy, Associated Press, Jan 11, 2021
Global warming deniers cheer Trump’s murderous mob while rights campaigners decry preferential treatment, by Mitchell Beer, founder and managing editor, The Energy Mix (Canada), Jan 11, 2021
Related: Climate deniers moved rapidly to spread misinformation during and after attack on U.S. Capitol, by Sharon Kelly, DeSmog, Jan 8, 2021
Climate change is turning cities into ovens, by Matt Simon, Wired Magazine, Jan 7, 2021 A new model estimates that by 2100, cities across the world could warm as much as 4.4 degrees Celsius. It’s a deadly consequence of the heat-island effect.
Climate change raises the risk from failing sewage systems. U.S. scientist and researcher Catherine Coleman Flowers is partnering with others for a new way to deal with waste, Washington Post, Dec 17, 2021
The population debate: Are there too many people on the planet?, essay by Richard Webb, published in New Scientist (UK weekly), print issue of Nov 14, 2020 The world population is 7.7 billion. What do our growing numbers mean for economic security, climate change, environmental destruction and the likelihood of pandemics? Read the essay here in pdf format: The population debate
Related: ‘There are too many super-consumers on the planet’, interview with Paul Erlich, New Scientist, Nov 11, 2020 (Paul Erlich is the co-author of the 1968 book The Population Bomb.) ‘The Population Bomb is not the book I would write today. I would put more emphasis on consumption, particularly because we know we can change consumption very fast.’
…We should have started reducing births a long time ago and done it gradually. There are a whole series of factors why we didn’t. One is that we didn’t focus enough on giving full rights and opportunities to women. Another is that we are fighting against economic growth mania, which has become built into our culture…
Twenty reasons to prefer degrowth to the Green New Deal (as a political option to address the collapse of civilization), by Manuel Casal Lodeiro, translated from the original in Spanish and published in Resilience.org, Dec 16, 2020
Many scientists now say global warming could stop relatively quickly after emissions go to zero, by Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News, Jan 3, 2020 That’s one of several recent conclusions about climate change that came more sharply into focus in 2020
Ecology newsroll headlines on A Socialist In Canada, December 2020
Ecosystem destruction fueled the pandemic. Air pollution has made it worse, by Leann First-Arai, Truthout.org, Dec 30, 2020
From floods and fires to locusts, ‘climate breakdown’ cost rich and poor in 2020, by Megan Rowling, Thomson Reuters Foundation, Dec 28, 2020
* 2020 was a disaster for the planet, HuffPost, Dec 28, 2020
* Countries’ fossil extraction plans drive emissions far past 1.5°c limit, by Mitchell Beer, The Energy Mix (Canada), Dec 30, 2020
Sea-level rise from climate change could exceed the high-end projections, scientists warn, CBS News, Dec 23, 2020 …Because of the complex dynamics of massive ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, exact estimates of sea level rise by the year 2100 remain elusive, ranging from just over a foot to several feet above current levels. That disparity is the difference between tens of millions of people forced from their homes or a much more unmanageable hundreds of millions displaced. Now, a new paper published in the past week warns that if global warming continues at the current pace, reaching high-end warming projections for 2100, then sea-level rise will probably surpass those projections…
Planet Plastic: How Big Oil and Big Soda kept a global environmental calamity a secret for decades, by Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone Magazine, Mar 2, 2020 …“Plastics are just a way of making things out of fossil fuels,” says Jim Puckett, executive director of the Basel Action Network. BAN is devoted to enforcement of the Basel Convention, an international treaty that blocks the developed world from dumping hazardous wastes on the developing world, and was recently expanded, effective next year, to include plastics… When it comes to plastic, recycling is a misnomer. “They really sold people on the idea that plastics can be recycled because there’s a fraction of them that are,” says Puckett. “It’s fraudulent. When you drill down into plastics recycling, you realize it’s a myth.” …
Our cyborg progeny, book review by Meehan Crist, published in London Review of Books, print issue of Jan 2021, Vol 43 #1 Reviewing: Novacene: The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence, by James Lovelock, publisher Allen Lane, 160 pp., July 2020, ISBN 978 0 14 199079 8
Read the book review here in pdf format: Our cyborg progeny
Ten myths about net zero targets and carbon offsetting, Climate Home News, Dec 11, 2020
Related: Not zero: How ‘net zero’ targets disguise climate inaction. Joint technical briefing by climate justice organisations, Oct 2020
Far from signifying climate ambition, the phrase ‘net zero’ is being used by a majority of polluting governments and corporations to evade responsibility, shift burdens, disguise climate inaction, and in some cases even to scale up fossil fuel extraction, burning and emissions. The term is used to greenwash business-as-usual or even business-more-than-usual. At the core of these pledges are small and distant targets that require no action for decades, and promises of technologies that are unlikely ever to work at scale, and which are likely to cause huge harm if they come to pass.
The big thaw: How Russia could dominate a warming world, feature essay by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, Dec 16, 2020 Climate change is propelling enormous human migrations as it transforms global agriculture and remakes the world order — and no country stands to gain more than Russia.
Also in this ProPublica series: The great climate migration: Climate change will make parts of the U.S. uninhabitable, but Americans are still moving there, by Lucas Waldron and Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, Nov. 10, 2020 Instead of moving away from areas in climate crisis, Americans are flocking to them. As land in places like Phoenix, Houston and Miami becomes less habitable, the country’s migration patterns will be forced to change.
Related: Six Arizona counties may be uninhabitable in next 30 years due to climate change, study shows, 12 News, Dec 16, 2020
Scientists plead for action as soaring temperatures show Arctic in crisis, compiled by Gaye Taylor for The Energy Mix, Dec 11, 2020
How global warming is ushering in a new era of pathogens and infectious diseases, feature essay by Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone, Dec 7, 2020
Ubiquitous herbicide glyphosate/Roundup threatens nearly all endangered species, says EPA, Beyond Pesticides, Dec 4, 2020
* Inside Monsanto and BASF’s moves to force dicamba-tolerant seeds on farmers, by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, Dec 4, 2020
* Legal filing challenges EPA and pesticide industry push to keep bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor on the market, press release by the Center for Biological Diversity, Dec 8, 2020
November 2020 was Earth’s hottest on record, says EU’s Copernicus Project, Deutsche Welle, Dec 7, 2020
Denmark, the largest oil producer in the European Union, says it is ending licenses for oil production by 2050, Vox.com, Dec 3, 2020 [Hurrah. Except Denmark’s decision to end offshore oil production by 2050 can be reversed any time by the whim of a future government. Meanwhile, endless capitalist expansionism on a global scale–including continued oil and gas extraction and burning as well as new forms of expansionist ‘green and renewable’ energy–are creating runaway global warming, exposing publicity announcements such as this one by Denmark as nothing more than noise that delays and deflects the big, underlying social and economic changes of ‘degrowth’ that are needed.]
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warns humanity is waging a ‘suicidal’ war against nature, CNN, Dec 2, 2020
Global fossil fuel extraction plans will drive greenhouse gas emissions far past 1.5°c limit, by Mitchell Beer, The Energy Mix, Dec 2, 2020
Are ‘net-zero’ emissions a smokescreen? Interview with Peter Carter of the Climate Emergency Institute, broadcast on theAnalysis.news, Nov 30, 2020 (with transcript)
Ecology newsroll headlines on A Socialist In Canada, November 2020
Economics and climate emergency, research paper by Barry Gills and Jamie Morgan, in Globalizations, online Nov 16, 2020 (Barry Gills is editor in chief of Globalizations and Professor of Global Development Studies at the University of Helsinki. Jamie Morgan is Professor of Economic Sociology at Leeds Beckett University. He co-edits the Real-World Economics Review.
[This is a 17-page essay published by Globalizations and serving as an introduction to a series of essays on the subject in the same publication. The essay collection is weblinked within the introduction. You can read the introduction at the weblink above or here in pdf format: Economics and climate emergency, Gills and Morgan, Nov 2020.)
Highgate Cemetery, Karl Marx’s renowned resting place, is under rising threat from climate crisis, The Independent, Nov 25, 2020
Greenhouse gases set new record, despite Covid-19 lockdown. News compilation posted on Climate and Capitalism, Nov 23, 2020 Top meteorologist: only a complete transformation of our industrial, energy and transport systems can stop climate change
Shocking warm temperatures across the Arctic, Barents Observer, Nov 22, 2020 The hottest October ever in Europe is now followed by a November weekend with an average of 6.7°C above normal across the Arctic.
‘Climate Reality Check 2020’ report by Australian researchers warns ‘We are in a state of planetary emergency, the risk and urgency are acute’, ‘Climate Reality Check 2020’ annual report, published by the National Centre for Climate Restoration (Autralia), November 2020
[This is a very readable and accessible summary of what environmental science is telling the world aboout the dire state of the global warming emergency. Its section on ‘Critical Actions, beginning page 42, is the weak point of the document. Nowhere does it mention the imperative of degrowth. Instead, it limits prescriptions for what to do to rather ordinary arguments, such as “An emergency response would make climate the number one priority of politics and economics.” What to do with that ‘priority? Few meaningful answers are provided.]
Forget electric vehicles. They are cars and post-pandemic cities don’t need them, commentary by Eric Reguly, Europe bureau chief, Globe and Mail, Nov 19, 2020 read the commentry here in pdf format: Forget electric vehicles
Biden’s first appointment for environment is a fossil fuel ally, by David Sirota, Julia Rock, and Andrew Perez, published in The Daily Poster, Nov 17, 2020
Humans may have passed the ‘point of no return’ in climate crisis, says UK study, Common Dreams, Nov 12, 2020 In order to roll back catastrophic carbon emissions, humans must “start developing the technologies for large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere,” says one of the study’s lead authors
Related: An earth system model shows self-sustained melting of permafrost even if all man-made GHG emissions stop in 2020, research paper by Jorgen Randers and Ulrich Goluke, in Scientific Reports, Nov 12, 2020
In the new film ‘Ecocide’ by director Andres Veiel, Germany stands trial in 2034 at the International Court of Justice for its destructive climate policies. Though set in the future, the film is based on Germany’s present-day global warming vandalism, Deutsche Welle, Nov 16, 2020
For how long must the economy grow?, book review by Edward Carver, published in LA Review of Books, Nov 13, 2020 Reviewing: Less Is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World, by Jason Hickel, published by William Heinemann (Penguin Random House), Dec 2020, 336 Pages, hardcover ISBN 9781785152498
Related: Can we electrify our way out of climate change, or must the rich also consume less?, published in Developing Economic, Nov 10, 2020
The Return of Nature, by John Bellamy Foster, book review by Peter Critchley, published in Climate and Capitalism, Nov 13, 2020 …Having established the foundations of Karl Marx’s socio-ecological critique of capitalist society in his 2000 book Marx’s Ecology, author John Bellamy Foster traces its further development in The Return of Nature in the work of an impressive range of socialist scientists and thinkers. Taking up the story from the deaths of Darwin and Marx in 1882 and 1883, with a primary focus upon Britain, Foster shows that from its inception, ecology was “deeply intertwined” with “struggles for human equality and the revolt against capitalist society”…
Food system causes one third of greenhouse gases, by Tim Radford, Climate News Network, Nov 13, 2020
Here’s how scientists want Biden to take on climate change, Scientific American, Nov 12, 2020
[The scientists selected by Scientific American for this story are those whose visions of combatting global warming rest within the parameters of a relentless, expansionist capitalism, albeit a ‘green’ capitalism. These include advocacy of the decidedly non-scientific advocacy of ‘net zero carbon by the year 2050’. To read about the scientific imperative of the ‘degrowth’ alternative, see the collection of articles immediately below, especially this one.]
Global air pollution: The unappreciated danger of the new space age, Scientific American, Nov 6, 2020 As private launches increase dramatically, so will emissions of CO2, particulates and other noxious substances
The surprising connection between West Coast fires and the volatile chemicals tainting America’s drinking water, by Lynn Peeples, published in Ensia, Nov 11, 2020 This story is part of ‘Troubled Waters, a nine-month investigation of drinking water contamination across the U.S. Access the full series of 25 stories here.
Three articles on degrowth published in Germany’s state broadcaster Deutsche Welle:
* Five things you need to know about degrowth, by Ruby Russell, Deutsche Welle, Nov 10, 2020
* Is it time to ditch economic growth?, by Ruby Russell, Deutche Welle, Oct 1, 2020
* Degrowth – is it time for a new kind of economics?, by Ruby Russell, Deutche Welle, Nov 21, 2016
For a ‘Green New Deal’ without destructive growth: Jason Hickel responds to Michael Pollin and Noam Chomsky on degrowth, by Jason Hickel, published on his website Nov 2, 2020
This essay was re-published in full on the ‘Home page‘ page of A Socialist In Canada on Nov 3, 2020 and emailed to website subscribers. You can read and download the essay in pdf format, here: Jason Hickel responds to Michael Pollin and Noam Chomsky on degrowth
Related essay by Jason Hickel: Degrowth: A response to Branko Milanovic, by Jason Hickel, Oct 27, 2020 In late 2017, Branko Milanovic wrote a blog post titled ‘The illusion of degrowth in a poor and unequal world‘. He says he penned it following a conversation he had with a proponent of degrowth, which was me. I wrote a response, which I have updated here for clarity, and to account for new data…
Norway’s Supreme Court to hear human rights challenge to industry’s and government’s plans for Arctic oil drilling, New York Times, Nov 5, 2020 The Norwegian Constitution declares that all citizens have the right to a healthy environment. But Norway’s economy is built around an oil and gas industry that accounts for more than half of national exports…
Ecology newsroll headlines on A Socialist In Canada, October 2020
Greta Thunberg hears your excuses. She is not impressed, interview with Greta Thunberg, in New York Times, Oct 30, 2020 ‘Green’ is a color. So when people say that we are going to invest in ‘green’ investments, that can mean anything. The Green New Deal is very far from being enough, but as you said, it has changed the debate. It could be a small step in the right direction, so that’s the way we have to communicate it. We have to say ‘This is far from being enough’ and then always show where we need to be… We humans tend to overthink things; sometimes the simple answer is ‘It is not sustainable to live like this.’
Russia’s energy minister Alexander Novack promotes scientific myths as policy for reductions in greenhouse gas emission. Report in Interfax, Sep 21, 2020 [Current energy production in Russia, approximately, is natural gas 46%, nuclear 19%, and coal and hydroelectric energy 18% each. The minister is promoting the unproven ‘carbon capture and storage’ technology, the unproven hydrogen fuel, and heavily polluting and toxic nuclear energy as solutions to greenhouse gas emmisions.].
* The hydrogen solution?, by Sonja van Renssen, Nature Climate Change, volume 10, Aug 27, 2020 …The hydrogen economy is a priority for the EU’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery package. This package is guided by the ‘European Green Deal’, which commits Europe to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. It is hard to overstate the difference with Europe’s past goal, an 80–95% emission reduction by 2050. ‘Net-zero’ requires a full fossil fuel phase-out, putting the spotlight on gas for the first time. The gas industry is turning to hydrogen for a new lease of life… For some such as Samuele Furfari, professor in energy geopolitics at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, hydrogen of any colour makes little sense. It makes much more sense to use fossil fuels or electricity directly. “Each [conversion] step is a waste of energy,” he says. “The processes are technically feasible but they are nonsense from an energy and economic point of view. Hydrogen has re-emerged because we need a solution to the intermittency of renewables.”…
* Hydrogen for home heating in Britain is a terrible idea, by Gabriel Levy, People and Nature, Oct 30, 2020 (Gabriel Levy is an environmental writer in Britain and publisher of People and Nature. He is also a ‘left-wing’ anti-Russia writer.) You can read the article here in pdf format: Hydrogen for home heating is a terrible idea
Trump rolled back more than 125 environmental safeguards. Here’s how, Washington Post, Oct 30, 2020
Related: The U.S. will leave the Paris climate accord on Nov. 4, but voters will decide for how long, Washington Post, Oct 30, 2020 Under Trump, the United States will be the only country to drop out of the international agreement to cut pollution linked to climate change. Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin the accord if he wins the White House on November 3.
Trump regime to strip protections from Tongass National Forest in Alaska, one of the world’s largest, intact temperate rainforests, Washington Post, Oct 28, 2020 President Trump will open up more than half of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging and other forms of development, according to a notice posted on October 28, stripping protections that had safeguarded one of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforests for nearly two decades…
Not zero: How ‘net zero emissions’ targets disguise climate inaction, 12-page statement by six climate action groups, October 2020 Far from signifying climate ambition, the phrase ‘net zero’ is being used by a majority of polluting governments and corporations to evade responsibility, shift burdens, disguise climate inaction, and in some cases even to scale up fossil fuel extraction, burning and emissions. The term is used to greenwash business-as-usual or even business-more-than-usual. At the core of these pledges are small and distant targets that require no action for decades, and promises of technologies that are unlikely ever to work at scale, and which are likely to cause huge harm if they come to pass.
[This statement has many merits in exposing the fraud of ‘net zero emissions’ claims and objectives. But it fails to outline the one, comprehensive policy that can pull the world back from the brink of global warming disaster, which is to systematically reduce all the excess production, consumption and waste characteristic of expansionist capitalism. This requires simultaneous policies of social justice and equality. Taken together, this revolutionary policy direction is termed by environmental experts as ‘degrowth’ or ‘drawdown’.]
Call for more protection for North Atlantic right whale population as U.S. scientists report sharp drop in population despite protectons already taken, Canadian Press, Oct 28, 2020
The changes in how the United States has generated electricity 2001-2019, interactive maps and charts in New York Times, Oct 28, 2020
As election nears, Trump regime makes a final push to weaken and disable NOAA environmental agency in U.S., New York Times, Oct 26, 2020
* War on the NOAA? A climate denier’s arrival raises fears the agency’s climate mission is under attack, Inside Climate News, Oct 25, 2020
* The Trump administration is burying dozens of studies detailing the promise of renewable energy, by Peter Fairley, Grist Magazine, Oct 26, 2020
Ford and GM knew about climate change — and covered it up for decades, by Peter Fairley, Grist Magazine, Oct 27, 2020
Next pandemic? Amazon deforestation may spark new diseases, by Fabio Zukers, Reuters, Oct 19, 2020
World makes haste too slowly on cutting energy use, says IEA in annual report, by Kieran Cooke, Climate News Network, Oct 16, 2020 The world is dragging its feet on efforts to tackle the climate crisis by reducing its energy use. In its World Energy Outlook 2020, the lnternational Energy Agency (IEA) says that while emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2, the main climate-changing greenhouse gas), are falling, the reduction needs to be far steeper to make any meaningful impact…
Related: Overview and key findings of ‘World Energy Outlook 2020’, issued by the International Energy Agency, October 2020
China’s Covid stimulus funding plans see fossil fueled projects three times larger than low-carbon, by Lauri Myllyvirta and Yedan Li, published in Carbon Brief (UK), Sep 23, 2020 China’s main energy-consuming and producing provinces are directing the equivalent of hundreds of billions of dollars into fossil fuel projects, analysis of spending plans reveals. If the investments go ahead, they would exceed spending plans for low-carbon energy by threefold. The findings are from our new analysis of the “major project lists” for eight Chinese provinces, which account for half the country’s CO2 emissions.
* Can China, the world’s biggest coal consumer, become carbon neutral by 2060?, Science Magazine, Sep. 29, 2020 [Surprisingly for a magazine titled ‘Science’, this article presents ‘carbon capture and storage’ and ‘planting forests’ as means for large-scale reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But these are contested and unproven means.].
* Influential academics reveal how China can achieve its ‘carbon neutrality by 2060’ goal announced last month at UN General Assembly by President Xi Jinping, by Lauri Myllyvirta, published in Carbon Brief, Oct 14, 2020
Nuclear power hinders fight against climate change, by Paul Brown, Inside Climate News, Oct 6, 2020
New poll in U.S. on climate change: Denial is out, alarm is in, by Joseph Winters, Grist Magazine, Oct 13, 2020 …According to survey data collected in April and released last Friday, more than a quarter of the U.S. adult population — 26 per cent — now thinks global warming and its attendant consequences are alarming. That’s more than double the 11 perc ent who were alarmed back in 2015, and almost four times the seven percent who currently say the climate isn’t changing…
Radiative cooling: Bringing the chill of the cosmos to a warming planet, Washington Post, Oct 11, 2020 Scientists are tapping into a law of physics, photonics, to create cooling systems that work without special fuel or electricity
U.S. public facing huge bill to clean up after oil and gas industry, DeSmog Blog, Oct 4, 2020 The American public is facing a potential bill of $280 billion for the cleanup of 2.6 million unplugged oil and gas wells, according to Billion Dollar Orphans, a new report from London-based think tank Carbon Tracker. While this number is alarming, it does not even include an estimated 1.2 million undocumented orphan oil and gas wells…
Related: Number of new stranded oil and gas wells in Alberta on pace to hit 12,000, regulator says, Globe and Mail, Oct 4, 2020 Alberta’s Orphan Well Association stands to inherit 12,000 new sites from bankrupt oil and gas companies, more than doubling the number of wells, pipelines and facilities left stranded by operators… In 2017, the then-NDP government floated a $235-million loan at zero per cent interest, giving the OWA a decade to pay it back. The current United Conservative Party government threw in another no-interest $100-million loan in 2019, to be repaid by 2028. The federal government spotted the OWA an additional $200-million this year as part of its pandemic response…
14 million tonnes of microplastics on seafloor, press release by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Australia), Oct 5, 2020 CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, has provided the first ever global estimate for microplastics on the seafloor, with results suggesting there are 14 million tonnes in the deep ocean. This is more than double the amount of plastic pollution estimated to be on the ocean’s surface…
Related: There’s 14 million metric tons of microplastics sitting on the seafloor, study finds, CNN, Oct 6, 2020 read also: report in New York Times, Oct 7, 2020
Ecology newsroll headlines on A Socialist In Canada, September 2020
Greenland’s ice sheet is melting as fast as at any time in the last 12,000 years, study shows, CNN, Sep 30, 2020 and read: report in Washington Post, Sep 30, 2020 …In terms of its potential to raise sea levels, Greenland holds the world’s second most important ice sheet, behind only Antarctica. Greenland’s ice sheet contains enough water to raise global sea levels by 24 feet. Over the last 26 years, melt water from Greenland has raised sea levels by 0.4 inches, and it is currently the world’s biggest contributor to sea level rise… Antarctica holds enough water to raise sea levels by about 200 feet, and scientists have recently discovered alarming vulnerabilities in some of its most important glaciers. A report last year from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that sea level rise is likely to exceed 3 feet by the end of this century if greenhouse gas emissions are not reigned in…
Pakistan’s most terrifying adversary is global warming, commentary in New York Times, Sep 27, 2020
How humanity came to contemplate its possible extinction: A timeline, by Thomas Moynihan, published in MIT Press Reader, Sep 23, 2020 … Only very recently in human history did people realize that Homo sapiens, and everything it finds meaningful, might permanently disappear. Only recently did people realize the physical universe could continue — aimlessly — without us. However, this was one of the most important discoveries humans have ever made… Why? Because we can only become truly responsible for ourselves when we fully realize what is at stake. And, in realizing that the entire fate of human value within the physical universe may rest upon us, we could finally begin to face up to what is at stake in our actions and decisions upon this planet. This is a discovery that humanity is still learning the lessons of — no matter how fallibly and falteringly… Such a momentous understanding only came after centuries of laborious inquiry within science and philosophy. The timeline below revisits some of the most important milestones in this great, and ongoing, drama…
(Thomas Moynihan is a writer in the U.K. and author of the forthcoming book X-Risk: How Humanity Discovered Its Own Extinction ‘ from which this article is adapted.)
Record wildfires on the U.S. West Coast are capping a disastrous decade, by Blacki Migliozzi, Scott Reinhard, Nadja Popovich, Tim Wallace and Allison McCann, New York Times, Sep 24, 2020
Melting Antarctic ice will raise sea level by 2.5 metres – even if Paris climate goals are met, study finds, The Guardian, Sep 23, 2020 Melting of the Antarctic ice sheet will cause sea level rises of about two and a half metres around the world, even if the goals of the Paris agreement are met, research has shown. The melting is likely to take place over a long period, beyond the end of this century, but is almost certain to be irreversible, because of the way in which the ice cap is likely to melt… If temperatures rise by 4C above pre-industrial levels, which some predictions say is possible if the world fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions quickly, then the sea level rise would be 6.5 metres from the Antarctic alone, not counting the contribution from Greenland and other glaciers. That would be enough eventually to inundate all of the world’s coastal cities and cause devastation on a global scale.
Triple crisis in the Anthropocene ocean, part one: Corrosive seas, by Ian Angus (publisher), Climate and Capitalism, Sep 7, 2020 (Part one of a three-part series.)
* Part two: The ocean is losing its breath (its oxygen), by Ian Angus (publisher), Climate and Capitalism, Sep 20, 2020
* (Part three forthcoming in September.)
A dying oil and gas industry is leaving a deadly legacy, by Andy Rowell, Oil Change International, Sep 18, 2020
* Big Oil’s green makeover, Washington Post, Sep 15, 2020
* U.S. and European oil giants go different ways on climate change, New York Times, Sep 21, 2020 While BP and other European companies invest billions in renewable energy, Exxon and Chevron are committed to fossil fuels and betting on moonshots.
[In all the news reports and hailings of ‘green makeovers’ by Big Oil, the uncomfortable realities are not broached, namely, the fact that the world’s biosphere and the human civlizations located therein cannot sustain the ecology-wrecking consequences of expansionist capitalism, be it a ‘green’ capitalism or not. Imperialist militarism and wars, global warming and rising social inequalities–these are the inevitable consequences of the expansionist capitalist economic order. These scourges can only be ended through a planned transition to a social economy that eliminates all the waste and excess of an expansionist economic order. Such a transition also confronts the harsh legacies of capitalism. The longer it takes to effect societal transition, the greater and more intractable the legacies become, including the following:
* Gas companies are abandoning their wells, leaving them to leak methane forever, Bloomberg Green, Sep 17, 2020
* Trudeau announces $1.7B to clean up orphan wells in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Global News, Apr 17, 2020
* Alberta’s mega oil and gas liability crisis explained, by Andrew Nikiforuk, The Tyee, Feb 4, 2019 Just how will an increasingly indebted industry, hobbled by low energy prices and rising costs, find the up to $260 billion needed to clean up its inactive pipelines, wells, plants and oilsands mines as it enters its sunset years?
* BP and Shell are saying they recognize the damages caused by fossil fuels and will shift away, but they’re still backing anti-ecology lobby groups, Common Dreams, Sep 28, 2020 An investigation by Unearthed and HuffPost reveals the companies failed to disclose membership in at least eight Big Oil lobbies in their transparency reports.
Are liberal environmentalists too compromised to fight for real solutions?, commentary by Howie Hawkins (Green Party U.S. presidential candidate), published in CounterPunch, Sep 18, 2020 [This above commentary by Green Party U.S. presidential candidate Howie Hawkins is in reply to this story: The founders of the environmental movement have a message: Don’t vote for the Green Party, report in The Daily Beast, Sep 14, 2020 A group of some of the most revered and longest-active environmentalists issued a dire warning to the next generation of activists on Monday: Don’t vote for the Green Party this year. And don’t sit out the election either. The warning comes in the form of a letter signed by more than 170 top environmental leaders… The text of the two-page letter by environmental leaders is at the Daily Beast weblink. The list of signatories is not included there.].
* Courts strike Green Party presidential campaign off the ballot, first in Wisconsin, now in Pennsylvania, Washington Post, Sep 17, 2020 and read: report in Courthouse News, Sep 17, 2020
* Wisconsin high court blocks Green Party presidential ticket from 2020 ballot, Courthouse News, Sep 14, 2020 …Republicans on the commission fought for the Green Party ticket to be added, while the commission’s Democrats resisted…
Hothouse U.S.: Catastrophic fires are spreading smoke from the west while five cyclones are churning in the east, by Andy Rowell, Oil Change International, Sep 15, 2020
Related: California can no longer afford to wait for climate action, by David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine, Sep 11, 2020
The world set a 2020 deadline to save nature but not a single target was met, UN report says, CNN, Sep 16, 2020 In 2010, leaders from 196 countries gathered in Japan and agreed on a list of goals designed to save the Earth. The Aichi Biodiversity Targets laid out a 10-year plan to conserve the world’s biodiversity, promote sustainability, and protect ecosystems. The targets were ambitious, but crucial. One, for instance, aimed to prevent the extinction of threatened species and improve their status by 2020. We’ve reached the deadline — and the world has collectively failed to fully achieve a single goal, according to the United Nations’ Global Biodiversity Outlook report, published on September 15…
Related: UN report highlights links between ‘unprecedented biodiversity loss’ and spread of disease, UN News, Sept 15, 2020
Climate change will force a new American migration, in-depth essay by Abrahm Lustgarten, published by Pro Publica, Sep 15, 2020
* New climate maps show a transformed United States, by Al Shaw and Abrahm Lustgarten of ProPublica, and Jeremy W. Goldsmith, published by ProPublica, Sep 15, 2020 (with extensive interactive maps) According to new data from the Rhodium Group analyzed by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, warming temperatures and changing rainfall will drive agriculture and temperate climates northward, while sea level rise will consume coastlines and dangerous levels of humidity will swamp the Mississippi River valley. Taken with other recent research showing that the most habitable climate in North America will shift northward and the incidence of large fires will increase across the country, this suggests that the climate crisis will profoundly interrupt the way we live and farm in the United States…
Mass migration set to increase as world warms, by Paul Brown, Climate News Network, Sep 15, 2020 …The analysis, by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria and research partners across Europe, was undertaken to try to inform policy makers about how to avert mass human migration…
Related: Climate change triggers migration, particularly in middle-income countries, research news by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Sep 14, 2020 …”Environmental factors can drive migration, but the size of the effects depends on the particular economic and socio-political conditions in the countries,” says lead author Roman Hoffmann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the Vienna Institute of Demography of the Austrian Academy of Sciences…
Earth hasn’t warmed this fast in tens of millions of years, Scientific American, Sep 13, 2020 Scientists just completed one of the most comprehensive investigations of Earth’s climate history—and the findings aren’t favorable. They find that the planet could eventually warm to levels it hasn’t reached in at least 34 million years…
Wildfires in the western United States as of Sep 15, 2020:
[According to a report by NPR, citing the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, 16 large wildfires in Oregon have burned about 878,000 acres of fire, while 13 large wildfires in Washington state have burned 676,000 acres. Added to California’s 3.2 million acres, that totals nearly 4.8 million acres (1.9 million hectares) burned so far in the 2020 wildfire season. The wildfire season is at its beginning on the U.S. west coast. By comparison, 2.6 million hectares burned in the two record wildfire years in British Columbia of 2017 and 2018 (BC Wildfire Service). To check air quality in the U.S., go to the Air Now website of U.S. gov’t agencies and enter a zip code. For Canada, use the interactive map under the ‘International’ tab.].
* Choking air from Western fires just won’t ease up, Associated Press, Sep 15, 2020 Relief from putrid, dangerous air spewing from massive wildfires across the West won’t come until later in the week or beyond, scientists and forecasters say, and the hazy and gunk-filled skies might stick around for even longer…
* Smoke from western U.S. wildfires is blowing eastward, as far as New York state, CNN, Sep 14, 2020 [See the ‘Fire and Smoke Map’ on the website of Air Now, an air quality database maintained by U.S. government agencies. You can use the website to receive a direct report as well as forecast of air quality in your region by entering your internet connection upon opening the website or by entering your zip code (postal code) on the website map page. The air quality index for the province of British Columbia is here; the index for all of southern BC, including Vancouver, on the morning of Sep 15 is ’10+’, the highest possible rating. Here are selected PM2.5 readings on the morning of Sep 15: Los Angeles 155, Vancouver BC 208, Portland OR 320.]
*Death toll reaches 35 in western U.S. as winds forecast to increase, Associated Press, Sep 14, 2020
* In Oregon, a new climate menace: Fires raging where they don’t usually burn, New York Times, Sep 12, 2020
* Devastating wildfires, extreme weather raise concerns about lack of preparedness for climate change, ABC News, Sep 11, 2020
* Western wildfires: An ‘unprecedented,’ climate change-fueled event, experts say, Washington Post, Sep 11, 2020 …Studies have documented an increase in acres burned in large fires across the West due to global warming, and projections unanimously show that the region is trending hotter, drier and more susceptible to large blazes to come…
* Trump breaks silence on devastating wildfires, blaming them on ‘bad forest management’, Sydney Morning Herald, Sep 13, 2020 …The President’s comments about fire management are likely to prove contentious, particularly as most of the forests in California are in national forests and managed by federal authorities… At a rally in the battleground of Pennsylvania last month, Trump threatened to withhold emergency funding to California because the state was not doing enough to “clean the floors” of its forests and therefore had “decades of leaves”…
* Trump spits climate denialism right in California’s face during Sep 14 whirlwind visit to the state, Common Dreams, Sep 14, 2020
You could be ‘smoking’ a pack of cigarettes a day just by breathing in city air, Science Alert, Aug 16, 2020 The air we’re breathing in the U.S. can be as harmful for your lungs as a pack of cigarettes a day, new research has revealed. The new data might explain why more non-smokers are getting lung problems traditionally associated with smoking…
Previously reported: Air pollution is much worse than we thought, feature essay by David Roberts, VOX.com, Aug 13, 2020 Ditching fossil fuels would pay for itself through clean air alone
A big chunk of Greenland’s ice cap has broken off, Associated Press, Sep 14, 2020 (and from the BBC: A big chunk of ice has broken away from the Arctic’s largest remaining ice shelf – 79N, or Nioghalvfjerdsfjorden – in north-east Greenland. The ejected section covers about 110 square km; satellite imagery shows it to have shattered into many small pieces…)
What is the climate impact of eating meat and dairy?, Carbon Brief, Sep 14, 2020
‘Endless growth on a finite planet is suicide: Director Jeff Gibbs of ‘Planet of the Humans’ documentary film will host live, virtual screenings followed by Q&A in eight Canadian cities in October, Toronto Star, Sep 8, 2020 The first screening in Canada will take place on October 19 in Toronto. After that, in order: Ottawa, Montreal Hamilton, Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg, Halifax. Schedule and ticket sales at Ticketmaster.
* ‘Green’ billionaires behind professional activist network that led suppression of ‘Planet of the Humans’ documentary film, anaysis by Max Blumenthal, founder and editor, The Grayzone, Sep 7, 2020 (includes a weblink to ‘Planet of the Humans’, 100-minute film)
* Mining and processing of rare metals: The dark side of green energy, interview with Guillaume Pitron, broadcast on ‘Late Night Live’, on ABC.net.au, Aug 4, 2020 (16-minute interview) (Guillaume Pitron is author of The Rare Metals War: The Dark Side of Clean Energy and Digital Technologies, originally published in French in 2018, English translation in 2020)
The promise by New Zealand’s Labour Party gov’t for 100 percent renewable energy by 2030 is a red herring, by Marc Daalder, Newsroom.co.nz, Sep 11, 2020 On the face of it, the promise from Labour that it would make New Zealand’s electricity system fully renewable by 2030 seems a bold climate pledge. In reality, it is little more than a red herring to distract from the woeful lack of policy to reduce emissions in sectors that pollute far more than the energy industry…
‘Nature is unraveling’: New WWF report reveals ‘alarming’ 68 per cent plummet in wildlife populations worldwide since 1970, Common Dreams, Sep 11, 2020
Researchers publish the first comprehensive assessment of where the Earth’s excess heat is accumulating, by World Meteorological Organization, Sep 7, 2020 …The Earth Energy Imbalance (EEI) is the difference between the amount of energy from the sun arriving at the Earth and the amount returning to space. The measure serves as a fundamental metric to allow the scientific community and the public to assess how well the world responds to the task of bringing climate change under control. The new study indicates that the EEI imbalance continues to grow unabated and has doubled in the past decade (2010-2018) compared against the 1971-2018 mean value… The vast majority of excess heat (89%) is absorbed by the ocean…
Related: Heat stored in the Earth system: where does the energy go?, research report published by Earth System Science Data journal, Sep 7, 2020 (29-page report)
Leading ecosocialist John Bellamy Foster takes a pass on opposing the U.S.-led new cold war (and nuclear arms race) against China and Russia. Interview with John Bellamy Foster, appearing in MR Online, Sep 5, 2020 From the interview: ‘…Every advance of China economically and in every other way—for example the Belt and Road initiative—is now viewed by the ruling interests in the United States as a threat to the U.S. imperium. The reign of capital, which is incompatible with any kind of global government, pushes us inevitably in the direction of global Armageddon, just as it is pushing us toward climate conflagration. The only answer is to leave the burning house, and build a socialist future, geared to a world of sustainable human development…’
[Building a socialist future is inextricably tied to opposing the rising militarism and wars of the imperialist countries. China is not an imperialist country, nor is Russia. They are sovereign, state-capitalist states which the imperialist powers wish to subjugate. They are the targets of imperialism’s militarism drive, including its new cold wars and its new nuclear arms race. Socialists must oppose the prevailing anti-Russia and anti-China hysteria and integrate this into their antiwar strategy.]
Report by European Environment Agency says one in eight deaths in the European Union are linked to environmental pollution, Agence France presse, Sep 8, 2020
In the Amazon, the coronavirus fuels an illegal gold rush and an environmental crisis, Washington Post, Sep 7, 2020 …Driven by the skyrocketing gold prices, surging unemployment and lax enforcement by a distracted government, people are traveling from all over the country to hundreds of illegal mining sites, invading protected Indigenous lands, stripping swaths of forest bare, poisoning rivers with mercury and laundering illegal gold through mineral shops. And they’re largely getting away with it…
How the Green New Deal of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez saved the career of conservative Massachusetts senator Edward Markey. Column by Michelle Goldberg, New York Times, Sep 3, 2020 …The young environmentalists of the Sunrise Movement — who’ve championed the Green New Deal more than any other organization — made saving Markey a major political priority. In concert with other young progressives, they embarked on one of the most successful branding exercises in recent political history, turning a fairly establishment 74-year-old into a youth culture icon… In boosting Markey, Sunrise sent a message to Democrats, especially those in blue states. You don’t need an impeccable record. If you champion the Green New Deal, the movement will have your back and that support can be priceless…
Canadian oilsands [sic] tailings ponds leaking and federal enforcement is unclear says report by Commission on Environmental Co-operation, a body set up under the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canadian Press, Sep 3, 2020
City of Hoboken, New Jersey, files climate suit against Exxon—’the most ruthless, deceitful, and unapologetic climate polluters on the planet’, Common Dreams, Sep 2, 2020 …According to the Center for Climate Integrity (CCI), Hoboken is the 20th community to take fossil fuel giants to court to “recover billions of dollars in damages caused by the oil and gas industry’s deception about climate change.”nvironmentalists, film review by Pete Dolack, published on his website Systemic Disorder, May 6, 2020
For ‘Ecology newsroll’ archive for July and August 2020 on ‘A Socialist In Canada’, click here.