Venice. Photo by Wolfgang Moroder via Wikimedia commons.
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Less of What We Don't Need
Stories about Less of What We Don't Need.
For too long the severity and scale of the climate crisis has been deliberately understated, but October’s release of the IPCC’s Special Report on the Global Warming of 1.5°c finally sent shockwaves into the populations of rich countries. The urgent need for action was clear with the world now in ‘decade zero’, when every decision taken in the coming years will determine the extent to which the critical 1.5°c guardrail is breached triggering run away climate change. Despite these warnings the UN estimates that current emission targets will put the world on a trajectory of at least 3.4°c and possibly up to 7°c warming.
Complaints about “capitalism” have become more common the last few years in the United States. This has been a welcome development. Anytime the collective perspective is widened, it’s beneficial to at least some degree. In a complementary way, calls for “socialism” have also become more frequent.
As detailed in examples below, solutions to climate change proffered since the 1960s have not worked. An implicit illogic allows for the constant expansion of destructively high greenhouse gas emitters until they can shift to renewables. Virtually ignored are three high-emitting sectors that are exempt under the Kyoto Accord, all slated for vast expansion in the coming decades and all three not convertible to renewables: the military, international aviation and shipping. Other high-emitters rooted in the economic growth model include the agro-industrial complex; biofuels; extraction of minerals, metals, oil and gas; production of plastic; and the construction industry with its use of energy-intensive steel and cement. Logically, these sectors need to be stringently curtailed or eliminated, first of all, until the basic needs of the world population are prioritized and met without adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, secondly, until GHG concentration is drawn down to a safe level, and finally, until these sectors are actually fueled by renewables while fully accounting for externalities and life cycle analysis...
Some people may have never heard the word ‘organophosphates’ to know what they are and what they do. Others may have only heard of organophosphates in relation to nerve agent chemical attacks – such as the one in Tokyo in 1995 where sarinwas released on three lines of the Tokyosubway during rush hour, killing 12 people, severely injuring 50 (some of whom later died), and causing vision problems for nearly 1,000 others.
All those who have suffered the adverse effects of organophosphates (OPs) from sheep dipping, agricultural pesticide spraying, contaminated air on planes, among other sources, will of course know only too well the health damage and devastation these chemicals cause.
Mexico is the biggest beer exporter globally, but it barely has enough water for its residents and farmers. Experiencing long-lasting droughts, the country, which is half desert, has become a cheap place for transnationals to consume its remaining water, then send the products and profits to wealthier regions.
The amount of water that goes into producing a gallon of beer is key as to why beer companies are having such devastating consequences. Beer is 90-95% water, and while only ten gallons of water are required to produce one gallon of beer during the brewing process, 590 gallons total are required for that single gallon, as the hops and barley crops require copious amounts of water.
James Lovelock theorized Gaia while working for NASA in the 1960s when he was hired to determine if there was “life on Mars.”
Gaia may be younger but James Lovelock, Mr. Gaia himself, turns 100 on his upcoming birthday, July 26.
The East Siberian Arctic Shelf (“ESAS”) is the epicenter of a methane-rich zone that could turn the world upside down.
Still, the ESAS is not on the radar of mainstream science, and not included in calculations by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and generally not well understood. It is one of the biggest mysteries of the world’s climate puzzle, and it is highly controversial, which creates an enhanced level of uncertainty and casts shadows of doubt.
Our modern industrial economy traces a straight line from resource extraction to manufacturing to sales to waste disposal. Since Earth has finite resources and limited ability to absorb pollution, the straight-line economy is unsustainable; it is designed for eventual failure.
Why not make the economy circular, with waste from one process feeding into other production processes, thus dramatically reducing the need both for resource extraction and for the dumping of rubbish? We should mimic nature: it’s a central ideal of the ecology movement, with roots in indigenous wisdom worldwide. Doing so requires that we reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle—and replace nonrenewable resources with renewables wherever possible.
After decades of neoliberal torment it’s easy to yearn for capitalism’s tranquil past, a simpler time that delivered stability, fairness, and progress. This mythology around a golden age of U.S. capitalism is regularly conjured up by Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who reference the New Deal-era programs that delivered democratic reforms and a massive investment in infrastructure.
Rooting herself in this myth, Ocasio-Cortez promotes a Green New Deal that, while still largely conceptual, strives to combine a massive jobs and green infrastructure project that will pivot the economy off the path of climate destruction towards a sustainable future with jobs for all.