Saturday, March 7, 2015

Fight or Flight

Humanity has reached a fork in the road to our collective future.  Which way we choose will ultimately decide our future.  One road leads to a higher mindfulness of the Earth and its capability to sustain us and the other continues down the same destructive road we’re on, leading towards suffering and hardship of unimaginable proportion.  The world that we all grew up with is changing in front of our eyes. Many still belligerently deny the rapidly unfolding changes, the same deniers often attack those who are willing to acknowledge and speak out about what is unfolding. The life support systems of our planet are being systematically ripped apart by the way we live. If we don’t take concrete action now, we will cross a very dangerous line - one where the systems that allowed life, as we know it,  to flourish will collapse.  
We face a clear and present danger. This triggers a physiological reaction in response to this threat to survival. It’s called the fight or flight response. When you first learn, I mean really learn, about climate change you get scared, then you get sad and then you become angry. Only after you get angry, I mean really angry, will you lash out at what, and or who, is the cause of that fear or threat. It's then that evolutionary protection mechanism - flight or fight is triggered.  Since we have nowhere to "fly" to, now and for the foreseeable future we are stuck with Earth as our home - we are then forced fight for it!  If WE all don't get angry soon, and I mean really angry and realize we have no choice but to stand and fight. Then all of us and future generations are in real trouble!  
The cavalry is not coming, there is no knight in shining armor galloping to our rescue, we are the army and if we are to win this battle we all must take up arms! We know who the enemy is and they have a well "oiled" machine that will stop at nothing - they are willing to fight for their survival, are we?



Friday, June 13, 2014

It is a wants vs needs thing.

"Until we learn to live without the things that we don't need to live, we run the risk of running out of the very things we do."

It is a wants vs needs thing.

Stop, look and listen.
The tress with water droplets glisten.
Watch the changing tapestry of the oceans and sky.
Contemplate; who, what, when and why.

We live a life filled with pathways of lies.
Consumed with consuming to hectic to recognize.

Seeing but not viewing.
Using up and not renewing.

We construct monuments of affluence fueled by our greed,
Rather than finding happiness in only living by what we need.

Four billion years of life before us; silent were the lives.
Now the planet cannot ignore us; as we jab her with our knives.

The way we live, a mere verisimilitude,
We defy and deny our impact in spite of its magnitude.

When will we act; will it be too late?
We feel we can fix anything, no matter what we create.

What justifies this notion
That's immersed in commotion?

Why do we assume wrongly that we are that great?
This noxious notion... I am afraid will seal our fate. Joram

Monday, June 6, 2011


United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres is calling for world leaders to aim for an even lower threshold for rising global average temperatures, even as new figures suggest that the prospects for preventing temperatures from rising beyond a key benchmark grew dimmer in 2010.

According to estimates released this week by the International Energy Agency, global emissions of energy-related carbon dioxide in 2010 were the highest ever measured at 30.6 gigatonnes -- a 5 percent jump over the previous record year of 2008.

The increase follows a decline in global emissions in 2009 that accompanied the economic downturn.

The sizable leap in emissions suggests that limiting rising average temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) -- a threshold that many scientists believe is crucial for preventing runaway and irreversible impacts of climate change -- will be an increasingly elusive goal.

As the IEA explained:

For this goal to be achieved, the long-term concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere must be limited to around 450 parts per million of CO2-equivalent, only a 5 percent increase compared to an estimated 430 parts per million in 2000.
The IEA’s 2010 World Energy Outlook set out the 450 Scenario, an energy pathway consistent with achieving this goal, based on the emissions targets countries have agreed to reach by 2020. For this pathway to be achieved, global energy-related emissions in 2020 must not be greater than 32 [gigatonnes].

For all this math to work out, and for temperatures to keep below the 2-degree Celsius threshold, global energy-related emissions would have to rise less over the next decade than they did over just the last year, according to the IEA.

"Our latest estimates are another wake-up call," said Dr. Fatih Birol, a chief economist at the IEA, in a published statement. "The world has edged incredibly close to the level of emissions that should not be reached until 2020 if the 2-degree Celsius target is to be attained. Given the shrinking room for maneuver in 2020, unless bold and decisive decisions are made very soon, it will be extremely challenging to succeed in achieving this global goal."

The Copenhagen Accord reached in 2009 was the first time that countries involved in global climate talks informally agreed to a goal of limiting rising temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius.

That benchmark was reiterated and placed on a timeline for review at talks in Cancun, Mexico, in December. Some nations, particularly those vulnerable to rising seas, believe even that amount of warming could result in catastrophic climatic changes, with attendant floods, food shortages and other impacts, over the next century.

Speaking at a carbon conference in Barcelona on Wednesday, Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, suggested that the 2-degree benchmark might be too high.

"Two degrees is not enough – we should be thinking of 1.5C," she was quoted as saying by the Guardian. "If we are not headed to 1.5 we are in big, big trouble."

The notion that the opportunity to contain an average temperature increase below a 2-degree Celsius threshold may have already passed is not a new one. Several studies suggest that without some sort of collective action, global temperatures are likely to rise well beyond 2 degrees.

On a per capita basis, most emissions continue to come from the developed world. But the fastest growth in new emissions is coming -- and will continue to come -- from furious economic expansion in the developing world, chiefly in China and India. Without some sort of global incentive structure that would encourage developing nations to forego fossil fuels as they expand their economies, there is increasing pessimism that targets like the 2-degrees Celsius benchmark will prove anything beyond symbolic.

The majority of the energy-related CO2 emissions last year -- 44 percent -- came from from coal, while 36 percent arose from from oil and 20 percent from natural gas, according to the IEA

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Go Ted!

ANAHEIM, C.A. -- Philanthropist and CNN founder Ted Turner has turned his sights to renewable energy -- and he had some fighting words for the wind industry at the kickoff to its annual convention on Monday.

Turbine manufacturers and clean energy utilities can't sit idly by while the coal industry touts its "clean coal" plan and oil companies flood the airwaves, Turner said. He noted that he had "nightmares" caused by clean coal advertisements.

Wind energy companies, which created a quarter of the nation's new electricity capacity last year, need to fight back, Turner said.

"I'd rather have a nuclear than a coal plant built, because one might kill ya and the other one will for sure. But wind doesn't kill anybody," Turner added.
"Let's go out and kick their asses. That's what they need, a good ass-kicking," Turner told the group assembled for the American Wind Energy Association's conference. He was speaking in an unscripted conversation with the group's CEO, Denise Bode.

So far, Turner hasn't found it feasible to build large-scale wind operations on his own vast land holdings in the American West, but he hopes to change that soon.

Turner acknowledged that wind energy faces an uphill battle, with critical tax credits expiring over the next two years and formidable push-back from carbon-based energy producers. The political calculus is particularly tricky in coal country, as Turner illustrated with an anecdote about a conversation he said he had with Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.):

"I'm a good friend and admirer of Jay Rockefeller, the senator from West Virginia," Turner said. "I lobbied him, a year or so ago, and he said, 'Ted, I can't go against coal.' He said, 'I can't. It's the biggest employer in my state.' He said, 'I do a lot of good work in other areas, you're just going to have to give me a bye on this one.'"

Rockefeller's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rockefeller voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which included cash grants for renewable energy projects, but he has also pledged to put a halt to the EPA's attempts to tighten climate regulations.

The only way advocates of wind power and other renewable resources like solar power will overcome such staunch opposition, Turner believes, is by committing their own money to public relations and lobbying.

Turner seemed particularly pleased that one of his oldest adversaries, General Electric, could be critical in that effort. GE owned NBC -- a competitor of Turner's cable empire -- from 1986 until this year. GE is now the largest producer of wind turbines in the United States.

"I fought against GE my whole life and now I'm pulling for 'em," Turner told the crowd to applause and laughter.

Turner believes renewable energy is critical for avoiding disruptive climate change over the next century -- but he also thinks global warming is already behind events like the tornado that tore through Missouri over the weekend.

Such severe weather is being caused, Turned said, "by the heating up of the atmosphere because of the goddamned carbon dioxide."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mother Nature Is Just Warming Up!

This is a must-read op-ed by Bill McKibben in the WashPost today:

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advisable to try to connect them in your mind with, say, the fires burning across Texas — fires that have burned more of America at this point this year than any wildfires have in previous years. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been — the drought is worse than that of the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if they’re somehow connected.
If you did wonder, you see, you would also have to wonder about whether this year’s record snowfalls and rainfalls across the Midwest — resulting in record flooding along the Mississippi — could somehow be related. And then you might find your thoughts wandering to, oh, global warming, and to the fact that climatologists have been predicting for years that as we flood the atmosphere with carbon we will also start both drying and flooding the planet, since warm air holds more water vapor than cold air.
It’s far smarter to repeat to yourself the comforting mantra that no single weather event can ever be directly tied to climate change. There have been tornadoes before, and floods — that’s the important thing. Just be careful to make sure you don’t let yourself wonder why all these record-breaking events are happening in such proximity — that is, why there have been unprecedented megafloods in Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan in the past year. Why it’s just now that the Arctic has melted for the first time in thousands of years….
Because if you asked yourself what it meant that the Amazon has just come through its second hundred-year drought in the past five years, or that the pine forests across the western part of this continent have been obliterated by a beetle in the past decade — well, you might have to ask other questions. Such as: Should President Obama really just have opened a huge swath of Wyoming to new coal mining? Should Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sign a permit this summer allowing a huge new pipeline to carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta?
… Better to join with the U.S. House of Representatives, which voted 240 to 184 this spring to defeat a resolution saying simply that “climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.” Propose your own physics; ignore physics altogether. Just don’t start asking yourself whether there might be some relation among last year’s failed grain harvest from the Russian heat wave, and Queensland’s failed grain harvest from its record flood, and France’s and Germany’s current drought-related crop failures, and the death of the winter wheat crop in Texas, and the inability of Midwestern farmers to get corn planted in their sodden fields. Surely the record food prices are just freak outliers, not signs of anything systemic.
It’s very important to stay calm. If you got upset about any of this, you might forget how important it is not to disrupt the record profits of our fossil fuel companies. If worst ever did come to worst, it’s reassuring to remember what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told the Environmental Protection Agency in a recent filing: that there’s no need to worry because “populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations.”
Hear!  Hear!  Or, rather, climate change is here, here!
In fact, the population hasn’t even acclimatized to the climate change we’ve had already — in part because the GOP and the fossil-fuel-funded disinformation campaign have obfuscated efforts to inform the public.  Hypocritically, the Chamber itself led the effort to stop this country from creating a serious adaptation fund.
We’ve only warmed about a degree Fahrenheit in the past half-century.  We are on track to warm nearly 10 times that this century (see M.I.T. doubles its 2095 warming projection to 10°F — with 866 ppm and Arctic warming of 20°F).  Indeed, if we listen to the Chamber and the politicians it backs, emissions and temperatures will just keep rising, and by the second half of the century, sea levels will be rising 6 to 12 inches a decade for centuries.  How precisely to you acclimatize yourself to a climate that is always changing?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Amazon rainforest deforestation rises sharply

New satellite images suggest deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has increased almost sixfold.  Deforestation jumped from 103 square kilometers in March and April of last year to 583 square kilometers, or 228 square miles, in the same period of 2011, according to Brazil’s space research institute.
Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira characterized the figures as “alarming” and announced the formation of a “crisis cabinet” in response to the news. “Our objective is to reduce deforestation by July,” Teixeira said.

The new figures have taken the government by surprise, analysts say. A government report from December said Brazilian Amazon deforestation had fallen to its lowest rate in 22 years. But the new numbers show a 27 percent increase in deforestation from August 2010 to April 2011.

Some environmentalists are arguing that growing demand for soy and cattle is causing farmers to clear more land. Others say the easing of an existing law on forest production is causing it.

The Facts:

  • We are losing Earth's greatest biological treasures just as we are beginning to appreciate their true value. Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface; now they cover a mere 6% and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.

  • One and one-half acres of rainforest are lost every second with tragic consequences for both developing and industrial countries.

  • Rainforests are being destroyed because the value of rainforest land is perceived as only the value of its timber by short-sighted governments, multi-national logging companies, and land owners.

  • Nearly half of the world's species of plants, animals and microorganisms will be destroyed or severely threatened over the next quarter century due to rainforest deforestation.

  • Experts estimates that we are losing 137 plant, animal and insect species every single day due to rainforest deforestation. That equates to 50,000 species a year. As the rainforest species disappear, so do many possible cures for life-threatening diseases. Currently, 121 prescription drugs sold worldwide come from plant-derived sources. While 25% of Western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest ingredients, less that 1% of these tropical trees and plants have been tested by scientists.

  • Most rainforests are cleared by chainsaws, bulldozers and fires for its timber value and then are followed by farming and ranching operations, even by world giants like Mitsubishi Corporation, Georgia Pacific, Texaco and Unocal.

  • There were an estimated ten million Indians living in the Amazonian Rainforest five centuries ago. Today there are less than 200,000.

  • In Brazil alone, European colonists have destroyed more than 90 indigenous tribes since the 1900's. With them have gone centuries of accumulated knowledge of the medicinal value of rainforest species. As their homelands continue to be destroyed by deforestation, rainforest peoples are also disappearing.

  • Most medicine men and shamans remaining in the Rainforests today are 70 years old or more. Each time a rainforest medicine man dies, it is as if a library has burned down.

  • When a medicine man dies without passing his arts on to the next generation, the tribe and the world loses thousands of years of irreplaceable knowledge about medicinal plants