SEF News-Views Digest No. 151 (11-2-16)
Clifton Ware, Editor-Publisher
I try to limit writing about political matters, but since the upcoming elections will help define and determine our collective future as a nation, I am compelled to comment.
First, let’s recognize that both democrats and republicans, progressives and conservatives, fail to fully realize the dire realities associated with the series of converging crises the entire world is facing. For whatever reasons, very few people in power comprehend the emerging truth—that continuing economic growth on a finite planet is impossible, especially when figuring in population growth of a projected 2-3 billion by mid century, which will place huge demands on depleting natural resources. Most people don’t seem to understand that the economic system, which previously functioned so well in bringing material prosperity to the world, is slowly breaking down.
Second, the sociocultural, economic, and political turmoil we’re experiencing worldwide is largely the result of the inability of world leaders to understand the stressful situations and conditions large portions of the public are experiencing. Consequently, the only path forward appears to be to pursue the same ineffective objectives associated with re-stimulating constant economic growth. Instead, we need to be taking a more sensible path, one that involves seeking innovative, effective measures based on conserving natural resources, mitigating environmental concerns, and creating new lifestyle narratives that are realistic, practical, and manageable.
Third, the upcoming elections are crucial in determining which direction the country will take. Both presidential candidates evidence flaws, a common human trait. But Trump is radically unpredictable, potentially dangerous, and grossly inexperienced as a political leader. Most egregiously, he denies the reality of climate change and shows little concern about environmental issues. Although Clinton presents some negative concerns, there’s no questioning her extensive political experience. She also is rational, more predictable, and, hopefully, more teachable. Under the vigilant eyes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, I believe she will follow a more progressive agenda. The main concern I have is her neocon tendencies, as when squaring off with major world powers, like Russia (see Chris Martenson’s informative article on this topic in Views).
Finally, anyone sincerely concerned about creating sustainable life on Earth will vote for national and local candidates who support and promote environmental issues, including taking constructive measures in addressing climate change. Within the next two weeks we’ll learn what our chances may be for survival as a nation and a planet. Please vote in this election!
> Think Progress: Climate Change May Spark Next Financial Crisis, Former Bank Of England Regulator Says (Alejandro Davila Fragoso). Paul Fisher, who recently retired as deputy head of the Prudential Regulation Authority, told Bloomberg that Climate change “is potentially a systemic risk. It could be the trigger for the next financial crisis”. He noted that climate change can force a sudden change in prices in a similar way that the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union damaged the sterling’s value. Last year a study published in Nature estimated that 77 percent of countries could see their incomes fall by 23 percent in the next 75 years if human-caused climate change goes unchecked. A drop in incomes can cause a fall in stock market prices, damage the exchange rate, and inspire an overall loss of business as people move to spend less. Other studies have found that the warmer it gets, the less productive a country’s economy will likely be.
> Eco Internet: Global Biosphere Collapse, The End Of Being, Upon Us (Dr. Glen Barry). Everywhere you look humans are destroying nature. We are eating the ecosystems that sustain us, crapping in our own habitat, calling it development as we destroy our one shared biosphere. We are witnessing the age of ecocidal, conspicuous, and inequitable over-consumption. Abrupt and runaway climate change is well underway as humanity continues to treat our atmosphere as a waste dump. We have everything we need to construct a just, equitable, and verdant future for all. Plentiful renewable energy sources exist, but we are going to have to learn to live more simply materially, as we explore the rich abundance in knowledge, sport, arts, leisure, and making love. Together we embrace and act upon ecology and other such self-evident truths or we face vicious, merciless death at each others’ hands as we collapse the biosphere. And then being ends.
> Inequality: An Anthropology Of The Luxury Life? (Sam Pizzigati). Social scientists are starting to place the lives of the wealthy under the same microscope formerly trained on primitive tribes in Borneo. All sorts of philosophers have down through the centuries contemplated the negative impact that grand fortune can have on our psyches, as have all the world’s great religious traditions. But what does the research actually tell us about growing up rich? Not much, turns out. Not yet, at least. But things are changing. The colossal concentration of America’s wealth over recent decades has some serious researchers starting to look more closely at the impact of affluence on behavior. Their experiments and field observations are revealing a variety of troubling trends. Upper-crust life, as University of California-Irvine psychologist Paul Piff puts it, may be breeding “increased entitlement and narcissism.”
> Growth Busters: Webinar: “Population Taboo” Banished (Dave Gardner). Ten years ago I described for a freelance journalist my fledgling documentary project, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth. Her advice? “Just don’t get into population. That’s deadly.” Well, I didn’t listen, and for the next several years I beat my head against a wall. Recent events, however, indicate that it’s becoming “okay” to address the subject. Chief among these, in my view, is a recent NPR (U.S. public radio) story headlined, Should We be Having Kids in the Age of Climate Change? [The webinar, featuring Dave Gardner, Alan Weisman (author of Countdown), and Benjamin Dancer (author of Patriarch Run) was broadcasted on Oct. 26, and is now available online at Vimeo. Click on this link: https://vimeo.com/189091610/72570d3807.]
> Peak Prosperity: We Risk Being Collateral Damage In The Neocon Lust for War (Chris Martenson). The winds of change are now swirling so rapidly that it’s hard to make sense of what’s happening. The deceptions surrounding us are now constant and impossible to avoid. The mainstream media over-reports the inconsequential, and under-reports the most important things. But this all is going to come crashing down because of simple math. While there are lots of sub-equations we could parse through, the parent of them all is this one: Endless exponential growth on a finite planet is impossible. My growing concern here is that the juggernaut that leads to war has already been untethered and is building up steam. I see it in the daily propaganda pieces against Russia, and I see Russia doing everything it can to get the West to calm down and be reasonable, while getting its own citizens ready in case those efforts fail. Recently, I have begun undertaking actual personal preparations for nuclear war.
> Daily KOS: ‘The Largest Iceberg In Decades Broke Free From A North American Glacier And No One Noticed (Pakalolo). Porcupine Glacier is a 12 and a half mile long outlet glacier of an icefield in the Hoodoo Mountains in northern British Columbia. During late August of 2016 it calved a large iceberg but it was just recently discovered via satellite images. It took us almost two months to notice what’s been described as “the biggest calving event in North America” in recent memory. The ice chunk is described as “the largest single iceberg (by area) to calve from a North American glacier in recent decades”. Until recently, massive glacier fractures like what just happened at Porcupine didn’t really happen in North America. Unfortunately, over the past several decades, they’ve been increasing in frequency.
> NPR: Antarctica’s Ice Sheets Are Melting Faster, And From Beneath (Christopher Joyce). Antarctica’s ice has been melting, most likely because of a warming climate. Newly published research shows the rate of melting appears to be accelerating. Antarctica is bigger than the U.S. and Mexico combined, and it’s covered in deep ice—more than a mile deep in some places. Most of the ice sits on bedrock, but it slowly flows off the continent’s edges. Along the western edge, giant glaciers creep down toward the sea. Where they meet the ocean, they form ice shelves. Researchers believe the cause is warm water circulating beneath the ice shelf. The melting was most pronounced from 2002 to 2009. The team, whose findings appear in the journal Nature Communications, points to global warming that’s heating up the oceans. There’s been a spate of research lately showing that Antarctic ice is melting faster than previously thought—and raising global sea levels.
> Climate Reality: Yuck! Eight Disgusting Side-Effects Of Climate Change (staff). You’ve probably heard of how climate change is impacting our planet. But these impacts are just the beginning. There are countless more ways that climate change is altering the world and way of life that we know. You might not even realize that these changes are due to our warming planet. And frankly, many of these results are downright disgusting, including: stagnant, hazy skies; algae blooms, an expanding mass of stinky, poisonous, green slime that chokes out ecosystems; fish die-offs that are occurring more frequently; more mosquitoes spreading diseases; ticks expanding their territory northward; heavy rainfall causing releasing untreated sewage into streets and waterways; increases in mold, due to wetness; and toxic foods, with poisonous mycotoxins, will spread northward.
> NPG: U.S. Population Information for 2015 (Not a link; see CLICK HERE below). U.S. Center for Disease Control reports highlights: 1) There were 3,978,497 million births in the U.S. last year, or an average of roughly one birth every 8 seconds; 2) Continuing trends seen for 3 decades, in 2015 birth rates rose for women over age 30—increasing by 4% for women aged 40-44, with births to women in this age bracket growing by 15% since 2007; and 3) The total number of U.S. births was down since 2014—but it only decreased by less than 1%. (CLICK HERE for report) Also, the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service recently updated its national and state population projections. They estimate: In just over 3 years, U.S. population will reach over 333 million. By 2040, we will have grown by more than 58 million people. California will top 48 million in just 23 years, while Texas reaches over 40 million. Florida will reach 25 million people by 2030, while New York will be just under 21 million that year. (CLICK HERE for latest revisions)
> GreenPeace: Breaching Environmental Boundaries: UN Report On Resource Limits (Rex Weyler). This summer, the United Nations International Resource Panel (IRP), published ‘Global Material Flows and Resource Productivity’, a report that admits what ecologists have been saying for decades: resources are limited, human consumption trends are unsustainable and resource depletion diminishes human health, quality of life and future development. The report shows that consumption of Earth’s primary resources (metals, fuels, timber, cereals and so forth) has tripled in the last 40 years, driven by population growth (increasing at about 1.1% per year), economic growth (averaging about 3% per year over the same period) and consumption per person, worldwide. Furthermore, modern technology has not made our economies more efficient, and a vast proportion of consumption in rich nations is based on products that are designed to be wasteful and grow obsolete. Humanity needs a new economic model that does not require the delusion of endless growth in a finite global habitat.
> The Guardian: World On Track To Lose Two-Thirds Of Wild Animals By 2020, Major Report Warns (Damian Carrington). According to a new report, the most comprehensive analysis to date, indicates that animal populations plummeted by 58% between 1970 and 2012, with losses on track to reach 67% by 2020. Researchers from WWF and the Zoological Society of London compiled the report from scientific data and found that the destruction of wild habitats, hunting and pollution were to blame. The creatures being lost range from mountains to forests to rivers and the seas and include well-known endangered species such as elephants and gorillas and lesser known creatures such as vultures and salamanders. The collapse of wildlife is, with climate change, the most striking sign of the Anthropocene, a proposed new geological era in which humans dominate the planet. The report warns that losses of wildlife will impact on people and could even provoke conflicts.
> Telegraph: The US Is An Oligarchy, Study Concludes (Zachary Davies Boren). The US government does not represent the interests of the majority of the country’s citizens, but is instead ruled by those of the rich and powerful, a new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities has concluded. The report, entitled Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, used extensive policy data collected from between the years of 1981 and 2002 to empirically determine the state of the US political system. After sifting through nearly 1,800 US policies enacted in that period and comparing them to the expressed preferences of average Americans (50th percentile of income), affluent Americans (90th percentile) and large special interests groups, researchers concluded that the United States is dominated by its economic elite.
> International Falls Journal: Understanding Nature Through Math And Science (Tammie Calder). Math and science are becoming more interesting subjects for fifth and sixth graders at Indus School, as they explore how they can be used to understand nature. Recently, students went outdoors to learn about mathematical sequences and the effect of parallax on reading height and temperature measurements. They also took a survey of leaf retention on the trees around the perimeter of the campus, and used the collected frequencies to construct representative histograms in their outdoor journals. Sixth-grade physicists learned about the conservation of energy and joined the third grade to learn about the results of their surprising science experiment exploring the rate of decay for objects kept in the dark vs. those kept in the light. Finally, sixth graders learned the basics of photo composition and went outside to apply them with some nature photography and an iPad.
> The Guardian: Renewables Made Up Half Of Net Electricity Capacity Added Last Year (Adam Vaughn). Green energy accounted for more than half of net electricity generation capacity added around the world last year for the first time, leading energy experts have found. The International Energy Agency (IEA) said the milestone was evidence of a rapid transformation in energy taking place, and predicted capacity from renewable sources will grow faster than oil, gas, coal or nuclear power in the next five years. While renewables now account for more than 50% of net capacity additions and are expected by the IEA to reach around 60% by 2021, they still provide a relatively small share of the world’s electricity. Green sources are only expected to provide 28% of electricity generation by 2021, up from 23% in 2015, and much of that will be from existing hydropower dams.
> Yale e360: On College Campuses, Signs Of Progress On Renewable Energy (Ben Goldfarb). University sustainability is moving further into the mainstream with every passing year. In 2007, the first installment of the Sierra Club’s rankings was dominated by small private colleges known for their progressive bent, like Oberlin in Ohio and Vermont’s Middlebury. Only two of the top 10 schools—the University of California system and Pennsylvania State University—were public institutions. By contrast, half of this year’s top 10 is composed of public schools, including major institutions like Arizona State and the University of Connecticut. The Climate Leadership Network is a coalition of more than 650 schools that have vowed to achieve carbon neutrality on self-determined timetables. Higher education faces the same fundamental challenge as the planet at large: how to cut emissions in spite of burgeoning population and development. The imperative to save money is also a powerful motivator.
> Common Dreams: ‘Victory’: The World’s Largest Marine Sanctuary Was Just Created (Andrea Germanos). Global governments agreed to create the world’s largest marine sanctuary in an area described as the planet’s most pristine marine ecosystem—Antarctica’s Ross Sea. According to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the decision offers “further proof that the world is finally beginning to understand the urgency of the threats facing our planet.” The decision from the 25-member Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) followed years of campaigning and “years of diplomatic wrangling and high-level talks between the U.S. and Russia, which has rejected the idea in the past,” the Associated Press reports. Roughly 1.55 million square kilometers (600,000 square miles)—more than twice the size of Texas—will be afforded protections for 35 years starting December 2017, with all fishing banned on 72 percent of the area.
> MN Environmental Partnership (MEP) Upcoming Environmental Events. See website: http://www.mepartnership.org/events/ (search by month)
> MN350: Climate Campaigns And Projects. For a listing of campaigns, projects, and events, see: http://www.mn350.org/campaigns-projects/
> Alliance For Sustainability: Linking Citizens, Congregations And Cities For Sustainable Communities. See Projects: http://www.afors.org/
> National Geographic: Before The Flood Documentary. Watch this powerful new movie streaming; narrated by actor-environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio.
> Michael More: Where To Invade Next, Trailer “The American Dream” is alive elsewhere, and needs to be imported back. Countries visited and lessons learned.
> Weathering The Storm, Michael Conley, Founder-Speaker-Author, Seminars & Presentations; Several offerings: News Flash; Newsletter; Information Services; OLLI Course Hand-outs; Best Practices; Buy The Book (Lethal Trajectories)
> Growthbusters: Conversation Earth – Exploring Our Place on the Planet (Dave Gardner, Interviewer). This weekly Radio Series & Podcast provides surprising perspectives from leading thinkers on the most important issues of our time. Also, here are direct Links to 1st Episodes of Paving Paradise: #1 – World Population Day & Water in the West; #2 – The Local Growth Machine; #3 – Drinking the Pro-Growth Kool-Aid
> Live Population: Population Clock – Poodwaddle World Clock. Watch the population increase minute by minute.
> Bloomberg News: Bloomberg Carbon Clock. A real-time estimate of the global monthly atmospheric CO2 level.
> US Debt Clock: U.S. National Debt Clock: Real Time. Every aspect of the economy is documented.
> Happy Planet Index. The HPI Index measures what matters: sustainable wellbeing, life expectancy, inequality of outcomes, and ecological footprint. America limps in at a thoroughly miserable 108th. About the HPI