Saturday, November 24, 2018
While many of us may take it for granted, the planet we live on is the very foundation of all life as we know it. Home to between 10-14 million species of life, we share this planet with billions of others that have an equal stake in maintaining the planet. It is for this reason that many have come to be cautious about the impact we have on many creatures’ natural habitats. Issues such as deforestation and water/food contamination have a significant impact on the quality of life for animals. In many cases, this can become an issue of life or death.
Saturday, October 27, 2018
We’re altering the climate so severely that we’ll soon face apocalyptic repercussions. Sucking carbon dioxide out of the air could save us.
That's why the NAS took a thorough look at potential negative-emissions technologies.
"Most climate mitigation efforts are intended to decrease the rate at which people add carbon from fossil fuel reservoirs to the atmosphere. We focused on the reverse - technologies that take carbon out of the air and put it back into ecosystems and the land," Stephen Pacala, a professor at Princeton University and chair of the committee behind the report, said in a statement.
The authors looked at a variety of strategies. As Kate Gordon, a fellow at Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy, described it, the approaches range "from literally planting trees and agricultural practices that help keep carbon in the ground, all the way to engineered technological solutions that actually take carbon directly out of the atmosphere through machines."
On the simpler end of the spectrum are options like re-foresting areas that have been logged and using no-till farming practices that keep more carbon in soil. Then there are ways to burn biological material (which traps carbon as it grows) to create energy and catch the CO2 they emit before it gets into the air. "
" A more promising option, they said, is to invest in technologies that essentially filter out CO2 molecules from the air around us. These technologies are still in early development stages, but usually involve materials that naturally attract and bind with carbon.
"It's like draining a bathtub — like pulling the plug and letting a little bit of the water out. It's actually not that sophisticated or crazy," Gordon told Business Insider.
That carbon would then get concentrated and stored, perhaps by injecting it into pores in deep underground rock, which is essentially where it came from in the first place. There's not much limit to how much CO2 these potential technologies could capture and store.
We need this kind of intervention immediately, according to the authors. " Read More
Thursday, October 25, 2018
But a new assessment from the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says that some of these “negative emissions technologies” are ready to be deployed, on a large scale, right now.
The authors point to the fact that the US Congress has recently passed the 45Q tax rule, which gives a $50 tax credit for every tonne of CO2 that’s captured and stored. So their study highlights some technologies that are available at between $20 and $100 per tonne.
Coastal blue carbon
This report says that there is a lot of potential for increasing the amount of carbon that is stored in living plants and sediments found in the marshy lands near the sea shore and on the edges of river estuaries. They include mangroves, tidal areas and seagrass beds.
Together, these wetlands contain the highest carbon stocks per unit area of any ecosystem.
The National Academies study says that by creating new wetlands and restoring and protecting these fringe areas, there is the potential to more than double the current rate of carbon extracted from the atmosphere.
What’s more the study says that this is quite a cheap option, where carbon can be captured for around $20 a tonne.
The downsides, though, are that these coastal ecosystems are some of the most threatened areas on Earth, with an estimated 340,000 to 980,000 hectares being destroyed each year.
When you degrade these areas, instead of soaking up CO2 they themselves become significant sources of the gas.
Other problems are that rising seas around the world might swamp and destroy marsh lands. Another restriction is that there just aren’t enough coastal areas.
“Although coastal engineering is very expensive, coastal blue carbon is probably about the lowest cost option that we’ve got,” said Prof Stephen Pacala, from Princeton University, who chaired the report.
“The problem is that the total capacity is not that large.” Read More
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
The study found that more than two thirds of foreign capital directed to Brazil’s soy and beef sectors between 2000 and 2011, as recorded by the Central Bank of Brazil, was channelled through tax havens. Soy and beef farming have been associated with deforestation in the Amazon.
During the period studied, almost $27bn of foreign capital was transferred to key companies within these sectors, and of this about $18.4bn came through tax havens, with the Cayman Islands most commonly used.
Friday, October 12, 2018
Consider for a moment that from this day forward, on the first day of every month, around $1,000 is deposited into your bank account – because you are a citizen. This income is independent of every other source of income and guarantees you a monthly starting salary above the poverty line for the rest of your life.
What do you do? Possibly of more importance, what don’t you do? How does this firm foundation of economic security and positive freedom affect your present and future decisions, from the work you choose to the relationships you maintain, to the risks you take?
The idea is called unconditional or universal basic income, or UBI. It’s like social security for all, and it’s taking root within minds around the world and across the entire political spectrum, for a multitude of converging reasons. Rising inequality, decades of stagnant wages, the transformation of lifelong careers into sub-hourly tasks, exponentially advancing technology like robots and deep neural networks increasingly capable of replacing potentially half of all human labour, world-changing events like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump – all of these and more are pointing to the need to start permanently guaranteeing everyone at least some income.
A promise of equal opportunity - http://bit.ly/2Pvr0WF
Sunday, September 30, 2018
Exclusive: Tim Berners-Lee tells us his radical new plan to upend the World Wide Web
Last week, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, asked me to come and see a project he has been working on almost as long as the web itself. It’s a crisp autumn day in Boston, where Berners-Lee works out of an office above a boxing gym. After politely offering me a cup of coffee, he leads us into a sparse conference room. At one end of a long table is a battered laptop covered with stickers. Here, on this computer, he is working on a plan to radically alter how all of us live and work on the web.
“The intent is world domination,” Berners-Lee says with a wry smile. The British-born scientist is known for his dry sense of humor. But in this case, he is not joking.
This week, Berners-Lee will launch Inrupt, a startup that he has been building, in stealth mode, for the past nine months. Backed by Glasswing Ventures, its mission is to turbocharge a broader movement afoot, among developers around the world, to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it. In other words, it’s game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon. For years now, Berners-Lee and other internet activists have been dreaming of a digital utopia where individuals control their own data and the internet remains free and open. But for Berners-Lee, the time for dreaming is over.
“We have to do it now,” he says, displaying an intensity and urgency that is uncharacteristic for this soft-spoken academic. “It’s a historical moment.” Ever since revelations emerged that Facebook had allowed people’s data to be misused by political operatives, Berners-Lee has felt an imperative to get this digital idyll into the real world. In a post published this weekend, Berners-Lee explains that he is taking a sabbatical from MIT to work full time on Inrupt. The company will be the first major commercial venture built off of Solid, a decentralized web platform he and others at MIT have spent years building. Read More
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
The mounting price tag of extreme weather events and the prospect of greater destruction to come have brought into focus a question that has been lurking at the edges of climate change conversations: Who should pay the costs of the death and destruction caused by human-driven global warming?
|Hurricane Maria Destruction - Puerto Rico|
The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report stating that during the past decade, the government had spent more than $350 billion in response to climate-change-related extreme weather events. "Climate change impacts are already costing the federal government money," the report said, "and these costs will likely increase over time."
That's an understatement. In 2017, extraordinary wildfires, floods, and storms pummeled large sections of the United States and led to never-before-seen destruction. The complex of fires that torched California's Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino Counties in October caused more than $10 billion in damages, making them the most expensive wildfires in U.S. history. At least 44 people lost their lives during the firestorm. The surreal Christmas-season fires near Santa Barbara led to another $2.5 billion in destroyed property. In August and September, widespread flooding during Hurricane Harvey caused at least $125 billion in damages in the greater Houston area and contributed to 93 deaths. Hurricane Irma damaged $50 billion worth of property in Florida, while Hurricane Maria's September scouring of Puerto Rico caused another $90 billion in damages. At least 60 people in Puerto Rico died as a direct result of the storm; as many as 1,000 lives may have been lost due to the long-running electricity blackout on the island. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2017 was the most expensive year for natural disasters in U.S. history, costing a total of $306 billion.
The mounting price tag of extreme weather events and the prospect of greater destruction to come have brought into focus a question that has been lurking at the edges of climate change conversations: Who should pay the costs of the death and destruction caused by human-driven global warming? Read More
Monday, May 21, 2018
Where do we go from here?
The Democratic Party, which helped build our system of inverted totalitarianism, is once again held up by many on the left as the savior.
Yet the party steadfastly refuses to address the social inequality that led to the election of Trump and the insurgency by Bernie Sanders. It is deaf, dumb and blind to the very real economic suffering that plagues over half the country.
• It will not fight to pay workers a living wage.
• It will not defy the pharmaceutical and insurance industries to provide Medicare for all.
• It will not curb the voracious appetite of the military that is disemboweling the country and promoting the prosecution of futile and costly foreign wars.
• It will not restore our lost civil liberties, including the right to privacy, freedom from government surveillance, and due process.
• It will not get corporate and dark money out of politics.
• It will not demilitarize our police and reform a prison system that has 25 percent of the world’s prisoners although the United States has only 5 percent of the world’s population.
It plays to the margins, especially in election seasons, refusing to address substantive political and social problems and instead focusing on narrow cultural issues like gay rights, abortion and gun control in our peculiar species of anti-politics.
All this will soon be compounded by financial collapse. Wall Street banks have been handed $16 trillion in bailouts and other subsidies by the Federal Reserve and Congress at nearly zero percent interest since the 2008 financial collapse. They have used this money, as well as the money saved through the huge tax cuts imposed last year, to buy back their own stock, raising the compensation and bonuses of their managers and thrusting the society deeper into untenable debt peonage. Read More
Sunday, May 6, 2018
A chilling research paper warning about the fate of humanity has received 4,500 additional signatures and endorsements from scientists since it was first released last year.
The paper—"World Scientists' Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice"—was published in November 2017 in the journal Bioscience and quickly received the largest-ever formal support by scientists for a journal article with roughly 15,000 signatories from 184 countries.
Today, the article has collected 20,000 expert endorsements and/or co-signatories, and more are encouraged to add their names.
The "Warning" became one of the most widely discussed research papers in the world. It currently ranks 6th out of 9 million papers on the Altmetric scale, which tracks attention to research. It has also inspired pleas from political leaders from Israel to Canada. Read More
Thursday, April 26, 2018
Islands are pushing forward with efforts to preserve their natural wealth and protect their people from disasters
Islands comb own shores for solutions to environmental pressures
CALVIA, Spain, April 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Island governments around the world are no longer begging for help to tackle the many problems they face - from too many tourists to devastating storms and rising seas - but are finding their own solutions and sharing them, experts say.
There has been a "huge shift" in the past 10 to 15 years, said Kate Brown, executive director of the Global Island Partnership, an alliance spearheaded by island leaders.
Islands no longer present themselves merely as victims of external pressures, but are blazing a trail in areas such as marine conservation, renewable energy and sustainable tourism.
"There is a real difference in thinking - that it is possible to do something and we don't need to wait for other people to tell us what to do," Brown told the Smart Island World Congress in Calvia on the Spanish island of Mallorca this week.
Islands have had successes at international climate talks, she noted - from winning a lower limit on global temperature rise in the Paris climate deal to convincing the world's shipping industry to curb its planet-warming emissions.
Progress is being made on home shores too, Brown said. Her organisation is working with the Marshall Islands, Palau and Fiji, for instance, to see how global development goals apply to them and uniting business and government to map out an action plan - as has been done in Hawaii.
The conference, attended by representatives of more than 100 islands alongside researchers, businesses and other experts, showcased efforts to preserve the natural wealth of islands and protect them better from worsening extreme weather, plastic pollution, uncontrolled tourism and other stresses.
The Town of St George is earmarked to become the first climate resilient city in the region. The government announced it received approval for another project from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to undertake major infrastructural work.
The GCF team agreed to support Grenada’s request for additional funding for the following actions during 2018:
To build national capacity with an annual disbursement of US$1 million through direct access to the GCF.
A key component of this support is the setting up of a Climate Change Training Centre in Grenada in collaboration with local, regional and international institutions to provide certified training in climate change at the technical, vocational as well as professional levels. The training will target persons in the public and private sectors, as well as communities and civil society actors.
Monday, April 23, 2018
Paper or plastic? You've probably heard the question approximately 2.589 billion times. But depending on where you live, that question might have changed in recent years to something like, "Do you want to buy a bag, or did you bring your own?" Now, it doesn't really seem like asking for a measly 5-to-7 cents for a bag could make too big of an impact on the planet — but as it turns out, it does.
Climate change risks are pushing millions of people worldwide into poverty, heads of government from the 53-strong Commonwealth warned on Friday evening.
Leaders from the loose coalition issued a statement affirming their commitment to the Paris Agreement at the conclusion of a week-long meeting in London.
With more than half of members coming from small islands and the world’s poorest countries, the summit highlighted their vulnerability to climate-driven disasters and cemented ties with developed countries UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
“Heads expressed grave concern that without urgent action to mitigate climate change, reduce vulnerability and increase resilience, the impacts of climate change could push an additional 100 million people into poverty by 2030,” the statement said.
“Heads recognised that temperature and sea level rise and other adverse impacts of climate change are a significant reality and risk to many of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable member countries.”
They called for “innovative financing solutions” and consensus on ways to direct aid to those who need it most.
Another section recognised “the imperative to transition to clean forms of energy”, encouraging members to back the International Solar Alliance and similar initiatives.
Tuvalu prime minister Enele Sopoaga welcomed the “re-focused purpose” on common challenges such as “the existential threat of climate change to the security and survival of peoples of small island developing states”.
“We must save Tuvalu to save the world,” he said.
Sunday, February 18, 2018
In the Seychelles a Community, an Environmental NGO, a Hotel and a Bank come together in a Public Private Partnership to save coral reefs.
A conservation group from Anse Forbans has launched the first on-land coral nursery project to educate the community and act as a backup plan in case of a major seawater warming effect in Seychelles.
The chairperson of the Anse Forbans Community Conservation Programme, Lisa Booyse, said that Seychelles needs to be prepared as it is fast losing its corals to coral bleaching events and other issues such as human destruction, anchorage and marine pollution.
“It is essential that we maintain our corals for our livelihoods, fish stock and to protect our beaches from erosion and flooding. As a community, we all need to start to realise the situation,” said Booyse.
The project launched last week is an initiative of the Anse Forbans not-for-profit group from the southern Mahe district of Takamaka, in partnership with the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles, DoubleTree Resort and Spa, and the Mauritius Commercial Bank. Read More
Sunday, February 4, 2018
A Russian pilot has been killed by US-armed terrorists in Syria. The Ron Paul Institute‘s Daniel McAdams writes the following about this new development:
“The scenario where a US-backed, US-supplied jihadist group in Syria uses US weapons to shoot down a Russian plane and then murders the pilot on the ground should be seen as a near-nightmare escalation, drawing the US and Russia terrifyingly closer to direct conflict.”
McAdams is not fearmongering; he is stating a plainly obvious fact. The Trump administration has just announced that it is restructuring its nuclear weapons policy to take a more aggressive stance toward Russia than that which was held by the previous administration. This is coming after this administration’s decision to arm Ukraine against Russia, a move Obama refused to take for fear of escalating tensions with Moscow, as well as its decision to continue to occupy Syria in order to effect regime change, along with numerous other escalations. The Council on Foreign Relations, which is without exaggeration as close to the voice of the US establishment as you can possibly get, is now openly admitting that the “United States is currently in a second Cold War with Russia. Read More