Category Archives: Environment

Massive bleaching of Great Barrier Reef

Unprecedented coral bleaching in consecutive years caused by rising water temperatures has damaged two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, aerial surveys have shown. If normal conditions return, the corals can recover, but it can take decades, and if the stress continues the corals can die

It is happening in Japan first: obliteration of the coral reefs due to global warming

70% of coral in Okinawa’s Sekiseishoko area in the Sekiseishoko area, the largest coral reef in Japan, is dead, survey shows.

A ministry official said Tuesday the result showed accelerated coral bleaching was taking place — due chiefly to rising ocean temperatures. The survey was conducted at 35 points in Sekiseishoko, located between Ishigaki and Iriomote islands in Okinawa Prefecture, last November and December.

Putting Democracy above the Bottom Line

Kelle Louaillier writes

This month, we will have a chance to chart a course toward a stronger, safer global society, where power belongs to the many, not to the few, and where those who have run roughshod over our environment, human rights, and public health will be held accountable. I am not talking about the United States’ presidential election.

To be sure, the US election will be immensely consequential; but endless punditry and horserace politics have obscured two groundbreaking events that begin on November 7: meetings of the parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).Global corporations are enormous, and their influence affects almost every aspect of our lives. To understand the reach of their power, one must look no further than the billions of dollars they spend on elections; their lobbying to gut worker and environmental protections in trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership; and fossil-fuel corporations’ relentless drive to derail climate-change policy.

Global corporations have disproportionate power because they can operate across national borders, which means that no single local or national government can effectively regulate them. The crucial function of international frameworks such as the FCTC and UNFCCC is to provide concrete tools for governments to set national policies on issues ranging from public health to climate change and global inequality.

Read full article here

New Evidence About the Dangers of Monsanto’s Roundup

Sharon Lerner writes

John Sanders worked in the orange and grapefruit groves in Redlands, California, for more than 30 years. First as a ranch hand, then as a farm worker, he was responsible for keeping the weeds around the citrus trees in check. Roundup, the Monsanto weed killer, was his weapon of choice, and he sprayed it on the plants from a hand-held atomizer year-round.

Frank Tanner, who owned a landscaping business, is also a Californian and former Roundup user. Tanner relied on the herbicide starting in 1974, and between 2000 and 2006 sprayed between 50 and 70 gallons of it a year, sometimes from a backpack, other times from a 200-gallon drum that he rolled on a cart next to him.

The two men have other things in common, too: After being regularly exposed to Roundup, both developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer that starts in the lymph cells. And, as of April, both are plaintiffs in a suit filed against Monsanto that marks a turning point in the pitched battle over the most widely used agricultural chemical in history.

Read the full article

Beware of Trade Deals

File photo taken in 2008 shows farmed bluefin tuna off the coast of Kushimoto in Wakayama Prefecture, western Japan. Around 11,000 of them died after a powerful typhoon struck the region in July 2015. The tuna are believed to have died after crashing into nets or each other amid high waves. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

International trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) need to be carefully examined piece by piece because they can take precedence over a country’s own laws.

Case in point: the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday ruled that dolphin-safe tuna labeling rules — required by U.S. law, in an effort to protect intelligent mammals from slaughter — violate the rights of Mexican fishers.

As a result, the U.S. will have to either alter the law or face sanctions from Mexico.



A tale told by an idiot

On the vanity of politicians

Israeli politicians are now caged by a fascist beast of their own making – the majority Israeli public, unable to come to any reasonable accommodations with their neighbours for their long term good. Saudi Arabia has put its troops on its northern border and even reinforced them with Egyptian and Pakistani brigades (although this has been officially denied) to protect them from ISIS, a medieval nightmare entirely of their own conjuring. American sanctions are beginning to have a ratcheting effect across the world, replicating on the real side on the balance sheet what competitive devaluations did at the beginning of the Great depression on the financial side. Meanwhile EU apparatchiks stand aghast at a disaster of their own making as Russia bans imports of agricultural products from their member states, as a result of these Europeans taking orders from the US, which isn’t a member state.

All the politicians (“democratic” and despotic alike – it doesn’t seem to make a difference) that wreak this havoc upon the world thus “…   strut[] and fret[] [their] hour upon [this] stage… And then [are] heard no more: it is a tale… Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury… Signifying nothing” (Macbeth Act V, Scene V).

There is a broader context in which this negative assessment of political leadership in our societies needs to be understood: the lip service politicians pay to our impending environmental catastrophe.

This is especially driven home by the events of the strange Siberian craters that have begun to appear all across the Russian Tundra. This mystery has recently been resolved by Russian, German and American scientists, Andrei Plekhanov, Hans-Wolfgang Hubberten, and Larry Hinzman, who link these new features on the landscape to the impact of global warming on melting permafrost and the consequent release of underground methane banks (Open link in the journal “Nature”: The concern here must be that it isn’t clear that all this methane escaping into the atmosphere has already been included in the global warming calculations of all the recent reports on the subject. It is especially troubling to note this when we know that the melting of undersea frozen methane banks (subsequent to rises in temperature as a result of increased volcanic activity) was the primary contributor to the runaway global warming process that came to be known as the Permian extinction (500m years ago), wiping out 96% of all known life on the planet.

As a species, it looks increasingly as if we will have failed in our main task: our stewardship of the environment which we were gifted. It was a test of our intelligence (homo sapiens? what predictable conceit… perhaps… homo stultus?)