No. 201 (3-21-18)
Clifton Ware, Editor-Publisher
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Resilience: New U.S. Record-Level Oil Production! Peak Oil Theory Disproven! Not. (Richard Heinberg). Like all debt bubbles, the fracking bubble is going to burst at some point. And when it does, the carnage will extend far beyond the industry itself. Evidence suggests that technological improvement has reached the point of diminishing returns. When the crisis hits, it will be too late for the nation to do much of anything. It will be up to communities to respond as intelligently as they can. [See also: The World Oil Supply Is Infinite: I Know That Because I Believe It (Roger Blanchard); United States As Energy Exporter: Is It “Fake News… (Kurt Cobb); and Peak Oil Or Peak Demand? (Michael R. Conley).]
P2P Foundation: Beyond Supply and Demand: The Dynamic Equilibrium Between Global Thresholds and Allocations (James Quilligan). The social demand for commodities is often claimed by banks as having a direct link with the ecological supply of resources, which are extracted, produced and sold as commodities. But bank reserve assets are not discounted to reflect the decline of the world’s non-renewable resources, like water and rare minerals, which are not valued according to declining availability. We need to recognize the fundamental law of equilibrium.
The Independent (Voice for Utah): Human Population Growth: Is The Explosion A Blessing Or A Curse (Rick Miller). A variety of scientific and social science disciplines are directly or indirectly concerned with this possibly alarming rate of human population growth. The consensus is that if we don’t control human population growth, it will inevitably be controlled by “nature,” perhaps in the not-too-distant future. Two principal reasons given for promoting population growth are promoted by religious doctrine and the economic sector, because more people means more consumption and more income for businesses. If we consider ourselves to be an intelligent species, it’s time to use that wonderful gift to protect our future.
Resilience: Getting Past Trump: This Is How Democracies Die (Part 1) (Richard Heinberg). Democracies die with rot that begins within, but external players often take advantage of the situation to hasten the decay (as occurred in ancient Rome). Even without Trump, the nation still faces simmering crises (falling energy return on investment, increasing economic inequality, over-reliance on debt, climate change) that appear to be leading toward collapse of government and the economy. Meanwhile, as a result of political polarization, social fragmentation, plain old corruption (see NRA), and truth decay we are losing whatever ability we ever had to address those crises. [See also: Getting Past Trump Part 2: The Russia Connection]
Resilience: Rage Gap (Samuel Miller McDonald). Given the great shadow that looming climate dystopia casts over all relations today, we Millennials cannot ignore our resentment from being bequeathed a bankrupted future. We do not have sufficient capital or political power to undertake the massive infrastructural transition necessary for mitigating climate change in the narrow window of time we have—that is, between zero and a few years. Baby Boomers, collectively as a generation, will have to decide whether to work with Millennials to avert societal and environmental collapse. This may be the best and only way of rebuilding solidarity in our country, starting with bonding the young and the old around this task.
Common Dreams: Making America Great Again Requires Acting On Scientific Knowledge (Elizabeth Hadly). The mantra these days is “to make America great again.” But a key feature of bygone days was listening to the lessons that science taught and acting upon them to make a better planet. At the national level, there is active dismantling and discrediting of the science that substantiates environmental problems and solutions.
Peak Prosperity Podcast-Transcript: James Howard Kunstler: The Coming Economy Of “Less” (Adam Taggart, Chris Martenson). In this wide-raging discussion, ranging from the pervasiveness of propaganda in today’s media to the risk of nuclear war, Kunstler also renews his warnings of a current secular economic slowdown. After too many years of market interventions, magical thinking, racketeering, and bleeding the 99% dry, he warns that our culture and economic system will soon reach a snapping point. Nothing’s going to move if the financial system cracks up. People no longer trust each other to transact, to get paid. And so they stop transacting. We’re talking about a falling standard of living and getting used to an economy of “less”.
Common Dreams: Extreme Winter Weather Across US And Europe Linked To Unusually Warm Arctic Temperatures (Julia Conley). While North Americans and Europeans have experienced bitter cold snaps and heavy snowfall this winter, climate scientists have recorded an exceptionally warm season in the Arctic Circle. Although global warming has caused warmer temperatures around the globe overall, there is also a strong link between the climate crisis and extreme winter weather events. New research suggests that the warming of the globe has disrupted the polar vortex, and warming temperatures have weakened the low-pressure system’s flow, causing it to drift southward from the polar region—bringing with it cold Arctic air. [See also: Researchers ‘Staggered’ By ‘Crazy, Crazy’ Record-Setting Warm Winter In Arctic (Julia Conley).
Grist: Trees, Our Best Defense Against Climate Change, Are Going Up In Flames (Eric Holthaus). Each Year, The Earth’s trees suck more than a hundred billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. At the moment, the world’s forests are not doing well, due to the climate shifting so quickly and jeopardizing many of the world’s trees, which are dying at the fastest rate ever seen.
MinnPost: Minnesota Is In The Midst Of A Massive And Historic Energy Transformation (Gregg Mast, Lisa Jacobson). In the last year alone, Minnesota added 467 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity—enough to power 53,000 homes and nearly tripling the capacity added in 2016.What is responsible for Minnesota’s explosive growth? Policy leadership has played a strong role. Consistent and forward-looking policies that value clean energy deployment have fostered significant business investment in this sector.
The Guardian: Total Ban On Bee-Harming Pesticides Likely After Major New EU Analysis (Damian Carrington). Based on analysis of more than 1,500 studies, makes it highly likely that neonicotinoid pesticides will be banned from all fields across the EU when nations vote on the issue next month. Bees and other insects are vital for global food production as they pollinate three-quarters of all crops. The plummeting numbers of pollinators in recent years has been blamed on disease, destruction of flower-rich habitat and, increasingly, the widespread use of neonicotinoid pesticides.
Cosmos Magazine: Bad Air Worse Than Bad Genes For Many Diseases (Paul Biegler). Major study finds pollution, especially from burning coal, has more influence on disease risk than genetic inheritance. Air pollution causes spikes in heart attacks and stroke, triggers hospital admissions for asthma, upsets diabetes control and, for good measure, is a class one carcinogen known to cause lung cancer. Of all the pollutants, sulphur dioxide appears to be the worst, with more impact than smoking, socioeconomic disadvantage, or issues affecting green space and footpaths.
The Tyee: Warning Bells About Fracking And Earthquakes Growing Louder (Andrew Nikiforuk). The fracking technology is causing more earthquakes than expected, and it doesn’t take the injection of much fluid to trigger a tremor. In Texas, the volume of sand used to prop open cracks in shale formations to release hydrocarbons has increased from 1,360 tons per well to 6,800 tons. In Canada, use has tripled from 3,000 tons per well to 12,000 tons.
The New York Times: Want To Be Happy? Try Moving To Finland (Maggie Astor). The latest World Happiness Report names Finland as the happiest country, followed by Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and Australia. The U.S. ranks 18th out of 156 countries, down from the previous two years by 4- 5 spots respectively. While the economy and per capita income remain strong, the U.S. ranks poorly on social measures: declining life expectancy; increased suicide rates; worsening opioid crisis; growing inequality, and less confidence in government.
Transition US: 10 Stories Of Transition In The US: The Spread Of Repair Cafes (Steve McAllister). While extreme wastefulness was once seen as our civic duty, people throughout the United States and all over the world are finding better ways to strengthen their local economies while helping to heal the planet. One of the most exciting new strategies for doing this is a repair cafe. Shops that fixed shoes, televisions, and a number of other everyday products were once commonplace, but these institutions have been nearly wiped out in recent years. In their place, repair cafes are now providing people with opportunities to breathe new life into broken things while cultivating community at the same time.
Portland Press Herald: More Activist Scientists Seek Congressional Seats (Ben Guarino, Laurie McGinley). Alarmed by the growing denigration of science in the U.S., more and more scientists are running for public offices. While a few scientist-candidates are running as independents, most are Democrats making their first foray into party politics. (More than 80 percent of scientists in a 2014 Pew survey identified as Democrats or Democrat-leaning.) 314 Action is working with 30 congressional candidates across the country and expects to formally endorse about half that number.
Minnpost: As Washington Stalls, 24 Legislatures Move To Make Environment Less Toxic (Ron Meador). More than 120 measures aimed at reducing hazardous chemical exposure in everyday life are moving in American legislatures this year, according to the latest annual count by the Safer States coalition. The tally has grown by a dozen in the last couple of weeks and may increase further. Minnesota is among the 24 states considering new protections and, as usual, is something of a leader in the pack with seven measures introduced. Only three states are more ambitious: New York with 44, Massachusetts with 10, and Rhode Island with nine.
Garden Earth: Food Self-Sufficiency – Does It Make Sense? (Gunnar Rundgren). After the food price hike in 2007-2008 and in a world that many feel is less secure, there is a renewed interest in food self-sufficiency. Some define self-sufficiency such that a country should produce a quantity (or calories) that equals or exceeds the consumption, but food is both imported and exported. There are many valid reasons for a country to increase food self- sufficiency and decrease its dependency to international trade. It seems to that reducing competition would be an important objective for a food trade policy.
The Pew Charitable Trusts: U.S. Infrastructure Must Be Flood-Ready, State And Local Officials Say (Laura Lightbody, Forbes Tompkins). From the recent flooding in the Midwest and the March nor’easter along the mid-Atlantic coast to the 2017 hurricanes and this winter’s record deluges in California, major floods have become all too common across the U.S. More than 250 governors, state representatives, and mayors from across the political spectrum, representing more than 45 million Americans, are calling on the federal government to ensure that our country’s infrastructure can withstand flooding, to limit damage, reduce the need to rebuild after floods, and save taxpayer dollars.
Ecowatch: The Environmental And Human Cost Of Making A Pair Of Jeans (Kathleen Webber). The average American consumer buys four pairs of jeans a year. In China’s Xintang province, a textile hub for denim, 300 million pairs are made annually using a brew of toxic chemicals. It takes hundreds of gallons of water to dye and finish one pair of jeans, a process that produces an estimated 2.5 billion gallons of wastewater. The resulting environmental damage to 70% of rivers, lakes, ecosystems and communities in China, Bangladesh and India is the subject of a new documentary called Riverblue: Can Fashion Save The Planet?. One company, Jeanologia, has developed several technologies using light and air to finish jeans using little water and no chemicals.
BBC News: How Exercise In Old Age Prevents The Immune System From Declining (Fergus Walsh). Prof Janet Lord, director of the Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, at the University of Birmingham, and co-author of the research, said: “The immune system declines by about 2-3% a year from our 20s, which is why older people are more susceptible to infections, conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and, potentially, cancer. Moderate exercise is a proven long-term preventive measure for everyone.
Bicycling: Here’s How Cycling Can Slow Down The Aging Process (Allison Golstein). In recent years, researchers have turned their attention to the immune system, which can also decline as you age. Specifically, your thymus—the part of your body that produces white blood cells—begins to shrink. It then produces fewer cells, meaning your body gradually loses the ability to protect itself against disease. However, a new study questioned if these age-related muscle declines are inevitable, or if regular exercise—cycling, in this case—can slow down or even reverse them.
Yes! Magazine: The Ways Gratitude Can Also Make You Physically Healthier (Summer Allen). After 15 years of research, we know that gratitude is a key to psychological wellbeing. Gratitude can make people happier, improve their relationships, and potentially even counteract depression and suicidal thoughts. But might the benefits of gratitude go beyond that? Could gratitude be good for your physical health, too? [I say, yes!]