Category Archives: Drought

What’s Up With COP26?

The UK (in partnership with Italy) will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, COP26 in Glasgow on October 31- November 12, 2021.

COP26 will be one of the most significant meetings in modern human history, comparable to the meeting of the Big Three at the Tehran Conference November 28, 1943 when the Normandy invasion was agreed, codenamed Operation Overlord and launched in June 1944. Thenceforth, tyranny was stopped, an easily identified worldwide threat symbolized by a toothbrush mustache. Today’s tyranny is faceless but recklessly beyond the scope of that era because it’s already everywhere all at once! And, ten-times-plus as powerful as all of the munitions of WWII.

What’s at risk at COP26?

Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs answers that all-important query in a summary report intended for heads of governments, entitled: Climate Change Risk Assessment 2021.

The report introduces the subject with three key statements:

1) The World is dangerously off track to meet the Paris Agreement goals.

2) The risks are compounding.

3) Without immediate action the impacts will be devastating in the coming decades.

The report highlights current emissions status with resulting temperature pathways. Currently, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) indicate 1% reduction of emissions by 2030 as compared to 2010 levels. To that end, and somewhat shockingly, if emissions are not drastically curtailed by 2030, the report details a series of serious impacts to humanity locked in by 2040-50, which is the time-frame for item #3 to kick in, which states: “Impacts will be devastating.”

But, hark: Governments at COP26 will have an opportunity to accelerate emissions reductions by “ambitious revisions of their NDCs.” Whereas, if emissions follow the current NDCs, the chance of keeping temperatures below 2°C above pre-industrial levels (the upper limit imposed by Paris ’15) is less than 5%.

Not only that, but any relapse or stasis in emissions reduction policies could lead to a worst case 7°C, which the paper labels a 10% chance at the moment.

The paper lambastes the current fad of “net zero pledges” which “lack policy detail and delivery mechanisms.” Meanwhile, the deficit between the NDC targets and the carbon budget widens by the year. In essence, empty pledges don’t cut it, period!

Failure to slash emissions by 2030 will have several serious negative impacts by 2040:

  • 9B people will be hit by major heatwaves at various intervals of time.
  • 400 million people will be exposed to temperatures that exceed “the workability threshold.” Too hot to work!
  • Of more immediate and extremely shocking concern, if drastic reductions do not occur by 2030, the paper suggests “the number of people on the planet exposed to heat stress exceeding the survivability threshold is likely to surpass 10 million a year.” This can only refer to the infamous Wet Bulb Temperature, meaning:A threshold is reached when the air temperature climbs above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and the humidity is above 90 percent. The human body has limits. If “temperature plus humidity” is high enough, or +95/90, even a healthy person seated in the shade with plentiful water to drink will suffer severely or likely die. Climate models only a few years ago predicted widespread wet-bulb thresholds to hit late this century; however, global warming is not waiting around that long. Indeed, the Wet Bulb Temperature death count of 10 million per year nearly scales alongside WWII deaths of 75 million, both military and civilian, over six years or 12.5M per year.
  • Population demands will necessitate 50% more food by 2050, but without huge emissions reductions starting now, yields will decline by 2040 as croplands hit by severe drought rises to 32%/year. Fifty percent more food demand in the face of 32% rise in drought impact does not add up very well.
  • Wheat and rice account for 37% of calorific intake, but without drastic cuts, >35% of global cropland for these critical crops will be hit by damaging hot spells.
  • By 2040, without the big cuts in emissions, 700 million people per year will be exposed to droughts lasting at least 6 months duration at a time. “No region will be spared.”

Accordingly “Many of the impacts described are likely to be locked in by 2040, and become so severe they go beyond the limits of what many countries can adapt to… Climate change risks are increasing over time, and what might be a small risk in the near term could embody overwhelming impacts in the medium to long term.” (Pg. 5)

Chapter 4 of the paper covers Cascading Systemic Risks, which is an eye-opener. Systemic risks materialize as a chain, or cascade, impacting a whole system, inclusive of people, infrastructure, economy, societal systems and ecosystems. 70 experts analyzed cascading risks, as follows:  “The cascading risks over which the participating experts expressed greatest concern were the interconnections between shifting weather patterns, resulting in changes to ecosystems, and the rise of pests and diseases, which, combined with heatwaves and drought, will likely drive unprecedented crop failure, food insecurity and migration of people. Subsequently, these impacts will likely result in increased infectious diseases (greater prevalence of current infectious diseases, as well as novel variants), and a negative feedback loop compounding and amplifying each of these impacts.” (Pg. 38)

“Climate change contributes to the creation of conditions that are more susceptible to wildfires, principally via hotter and drier conditions. In the period 2015–18, measured against 2001–14, 77 per cent of countries saw an increase in daily population exposure to wildfires, with India and China witnessing 21 million and 12 million exposures respectively. California experienced a fivefold increase in annual burned area between 1972 and 2018. There, average daytime temperatures of warm-season days have increased by around 1.4°C since the early 1970s, increasing the conditions for fires, and consistent with trends simulated by climate models.” (Pg. 39)

And, the biggest shocking statistic of all pertains to the high risk red code danger region of the planet that is ripe for massive methane emissions: “In Siberia, a prolonged heatwave in the first half of 2020 caused wide-scale wildfires, loss of permafrost and an invasion of pests. It is estimated that climate change has already made such events more than 600 times more likely in this region.” (Pg. 40)

“600 times more likely” in the planet’s most methane-enriched permafrost region is reason enough to cut CO2 missions to the bone, no questions asked.

Several climate change issues dangerously reflect on fragility of the food system and a pronounced lack of adaptation measures as well as natural systems and ecosystems “at the edge of capacity.” Lack of social safety and social cohesion is found everywhere, all of which can erupt as a result of an unforgiving climate system that is overly stressed and broken.

Cascades will likely lead to breakdown of governance due to limited food supplies and lack of income bringing on increasingly violent extremists groups, paramilitary intervention, organized violence, and conflict between people and states, all of which has already commenced.

Already, migration pressures are a leading edge of climate-related breakdowns in society. Each year in 2008-20 an average of 21.8 million people have been displaced by weather-related disasters of extreme heat, floods, storms, and wildfires. In the most recent year, 30 million people in 143 countries worldwide were displaced by such climate disasters.

Without doubt, the eyes of the world will be focused on COP26 to judge commitments by governments.

There is no time left for failure because failure breeds even worse failure.

The post What’s Up With COP26? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Brazil’s Fierce Drought

Photo:  Rainforest Trust

The Amazon rainforest is arguably the world’s premier asset. Indeed, it’s the world’s most crucial asset in a myriad of ways, nothing on Earth compares. Yet, it is infernally stressed because of inordinate drought. The bulk of the Amazon rainforest is located in Brazil, where, according to the title of an article in NASA, Earth Observatory, the country headline says it all: “Brazil Battered by Drought.”

Moreover, the planet is becoming a drought-besieged planet (see Drought Clobbers the World, August 27, 2021). As for the Amazon, according to NASA, it has been battered by serious bouts of drought every 5 years 1998, 2005, 2010, 2015, 2020-21. As such, the normally resilient forest does not have a chance to catch breath and repair damage.

Sassan Saatchi, NASA JPL claims:

The old paradigm was that whatever carbon dioxide we put up in (human caused) emissions, the Amazon would help absorb a major part of it… The ecosystem has become so vulnerable to these warming and episodic drought events that it can switch from sink to source depending on the severity and the extent. This is our new paradigm. 1

The Amazon rainforest is 60% of the world’s rainforests; the rainfall and rivers cover 70% of South America’s GDP; its skyborne river of moisture sends rainfall to the Western US and as far as Iowa cornfields and Central America; its trees store 86B tons of carbon; 30% of world species, medical discoveries galore, and automatically one of the biggest consumers of the industrial world’s CO2. Its health is crucial to the functionality of the entire planet. As it goes, so goes the world.

All of its great attributes, and yet, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil last week said the country’s hydroelectric dam reservoirs are:  “At the limit of the limit.”2

Reservoirs in the Paraná River, which provide power for Sao Paulo and several states in Brazil “have never before been so depleted, the grid operator said this month. ”3

The Paraná River basin is home to several hydroelectric dams and reservoirs. Water levels on the river are more than 30 feet below average at the Brazil – Paraguay border. This threatens to disrupt cargo ship traffic. Brazil’s National Weather and Basic Sanitation Agency has declared a “critical situation” for the river basin.

For the first time in 100 years, because of the long drought, the National Meteorological System (Inmet) issued an emergency alert for Brazil at the end of May 2021.

The Paraná River runs from Brazil to Argentina. It is the second longest (4,800 km or approximately 3,000 miles) river in Brazil, just behind the Amazon. It supplies electricity and water to 40 million people. At the current hydro flow rate, blackouts are likely this year, especially during peak hours.

Additionally, Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetlands, not only suffers from global warming’s knack for spiking severe drought, more than 25% of Brazil’s Pantanal forest went up in flames last year in the worst annual fire devastation since records started. As it happens, developers set fires to clear land to grow crops, raise cattle and mine. People are responsible for 95% of the fires. It’s important to emphasize that fires in rainforests are not a regular feature of the natural environment.

As it happens, Brazil is not alone as hemispheric drought is now occurring in parallel, north and south.

Both northern and southern hemispheric droughts are running in parallel, sending a strong message that something’s horribly wrong. It should not be this pervasive. Brazil’s depleting reservoirs provide electricity and water to 40 million people. In tandem, the depleting Colorado River provides electricity and water to 40 million people. Both systems, at the same time, will likely be subject to water rationing within months, not years, which is currently under consideration by authorities in both hemispheres.

The worldwide drought is universally connected and thus compounded, maybe feeding on its own energy, enhanced by massive human-generated emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide) and CH4 (methane) blanketing the atmosphere.

Additionally, in Brazil and only recently, scientists have discovered a very disturbing consequence of drought: Brazil’s share of the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland, has seen its water-cover area drop to one-quarter (25%) of its area of only 30 years ago. However, that analysis does not include 2021, which is shaping up as Brazil’s worst drought in over 90 years.

Pantanal wetlands are enormous, sprawling across three countries. The loss of so much water cover is a real shocker to the scientists that conducted the study. According to Mažeika Patricio Sulliván, an ecology professor at Ohio State University, the human footprint of deforestation, fires, and plowing under wetlands is, in part, to blame as well as greenhouse gas emissions, prompting global warming: “We’re altering the magnitude of those natural processes… This is not just happening in Brazil. It’s happening all over the world,”3

Increasingly, scientists send the same message… “It’s happening all over the world.”

Nearly 90% of South America’s wetlands have vanished since 1900. Wetlands are the kidneys of the planet, essential for wildlife and retaining water to be released into rivers and aquifers all of which also serves to prevent destructive flash floods — think Germany’s and China’s loss of wetland regions, thereafter submerged in flash floods.

According to Cassio Bernardino, a project manager for WWF-Brazil:

The prospects are not good; we’re losing natural capital, we’re losing water that feeds industries, energy generation and agribusiness… society as a whole is losing this very precious resource, and losing it at a frighteningly fast rate. 3

By now, with a Brazilian quasi-dystopian experience front and center for all of the world to see, plus the affront by society’s lack of concern for life-sourcing ecosytems, a provocative question arises: Where is all of this headed?

The current trajectory looks dark and bleak.

What can be done?

A good starting point would be for the world’s leaders to agree to tackle the source of the problem, fossil fuels, by first admitting there is a problem, which is the problem. They really have not admitted it forcibly enough to make a big enough difference. Will they?

And, so it stands.

  1. “NASA Finds Amazon Drought Leaves Long Legacy of Damage”, Capitals Coalition, August 9, 2013.
  2. “Diane Jeantet, Associated Press, “Brazil Water Survey Heightens Alarm Over Extreme Drought”, Midland Daily News, August 27, 2021.
  3. Ibid.
The post Brazil’s Fierce Drought first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Drought Clobbers the World

According to SPEI Global Drought Monitor, no continent is spared the ravages of severe drought, except for Antarctica. This is happening at a global temperature of 1.2°C above baseline, not 1.5°C above baseline which climate scientists agree is locked in. This article explores the countrywide impact of 1.2°C above baseline for the most vulnerable as well as the most privileged. The journey starts in Glasgow.

The world’s political leaders need to pay special attention to the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference scheduled for November 1st-12th in Glasgow as scientists of the world meet to present the latest info on climate change/global warming.

Those world leaders need to hone in on the most far-reaching most effective most promising ideas to fix the climate, tame global warming, and stop fossil fuels by doing whatever it takes to halt carbon emissions (Biden’s plan won’t do it).

Climatically, how much longer can the planet hang in there?

The world is coming apart at the seams as a result of greenhouse gas emissions from factories, utilities, cars, planes, trains, agriculture, and a horrifying meltdown of permafrost in the farthest northern latitudes, spiked by Biblical fires, and soon the rainforests will kick in as tipping points trigger, thus reversing the world’s greatest carbon sinks to carbon emission sources in competition with cars, trains, and planes. The entire planet is trapped in a drought that’s so severe that it’s difficult to quantify. It’s that pervasive.

By ignoring science for far too long, leaders of the world have failed their own people. To that end, if the world’s leaders cannot figure out what’s happening to the climate system as fire, drought, and floods strike like never before (explained in more detail herein) then they should be tossed out of office. Weak leaders beget feeble solutions.

After all, there is little room for error for society at large. Climate change has backed them into a corner from which they can barely escape, maybe not at all. Soon, there will be no choice other than outright revolution, forcing the world’s leaders out, similar to the French Revolution of the late 18th century when aristocracy and royalty, the one percent (1%) of the era, holding onto their heads for dear life, fled Paris by the thousands, many fleeing to England (See: Ninety-Three, by Victor Hugo, 1874 publication detailing The Great Terror)

Throughout history when the masses are harmed or abused beyond some undefined incongruous limit, but enough to seek recompense, they follow the money, similar to The Revolutions of 1848 and actually witnessed in person by aristocrats in the streets, holding their breath whilst horrified by the Storming of the Bastille, July 14, 1789.

As it happens, ubiquitous drought conditions know no boundaries. A Middle East water crisis is threatening millions of people to the precipice of famine. According to a recent AP article, Aid Groups: Millions in Syria, Iraq Losing Access to Water d/d August 23, 2021, it is a dire situation that, by default, could lead to desperate open warfare and massive human tragedy.

In the face of extreme heat, millions of people in Syria and Iraq and Lebanon are at risk of losing access to essentials for life: (1) water (2) electricity (3) food. Similar to America’s West, water resources are at record lows due to little rainfall and drought conditions caused by global warming now widely recognized as an anthropogenic affair, meaning “human-caused” for the benefit of those who’ve missed class.

More than 12 million people in those countries are at risk, today, right now. And, making matters much worse, two dams in northern Syria that supply power to 3 million people face “imminent closure” because of low water levels (a new phenomena starting to appear throughout the world). Moreover, drought conditions are spreading water-borne diseases throughout displacement settlements. Alas, the Middle East crisis stands above all crises.

What will the people do? Will they fight for survival? Indeed, the situation is fraught with danger. It’s a time bomb that’s already ticking.

In Lebanon 4 million people face severe water shortage. Not only that but making matters equally bad, in addition to severe drought, the Litani River is overloaded with sewage and waste and polluted nearly beyond recognition. It is the country’s longest river and major source for water supply, irrigation, and hydropower.

The planet is aching, crying out for relief. It’s truly a worldwide crisis. Global warming is strutting its stuff whilst greenhouse gases increase beyond all-time record levels, never decreasing, heating up the planet more and more to the breaking point at the global temperature of 1.2°C above baseline, not 1.5°C above, not 2.0°C above.

What of 1.5°C (IPCC’s top end preference) or 2.0°C above baseline as discussed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, levels that should not be exceeded? Yet, uh-oh, the planet is already in trouble at 1.2°C above baseline. Indeed, it’s an open secret that the climate system is struggling; it’s in trouble.

“The climate in trouble” resonates far and wide; e.g., Fridays for Future, started in 2018 by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, which is a very popular org for young activists, is openly critical of the outright stupidity and blatant ignorance of adults. “How Dare You!” blurted Greta Thunberg age 16 at the UN Climate Summit in NY in 2019, as she addressed an imperial body of climate intellects.

Droughts take no prisoners, as the entire Mediterranean region has been hit hard. Turkey faces its most severe drought in a decade. Istanbul is dangerously close to losing its water supply. Dr. Akgun Ilhan, a Turkish water mgmt. expert told Euronews: “The natural water cycle is already interrupted by climate change,” but Dr. İlhan suggests it’s also affected by urban surfaces that are sealed with asphalt and concrete (the human footprint) “leaving very little green spaces where water can meet soil and fill groundwater resources.”

Worldwide, wetlands are down 87% over the past 200+ years, only 13% remains as they’re plowed under or covered over with no green spaces for water to meet soil or fill groundwater resources. It is significant that wetlands are the primary source for replenishment of aquifers.

Alas, with 87% of wetland hydrologic systems gone, massive destructive floods precede ironic losses of aquifer resources. With wetlands gone, water goes to where the people live (think Germany or China) and not through nature’s wetlands for distribution via the natural hydrology network. Meantime, according to NASA, one-third of the world’s largest aquifers are “stressed” because of the loss of wetland feeder systems. This is an invisible monumental festering problem.

In the United States, nearly one-half of the country is currently afflicted by drought. Worse yet, the West is experiencing ultra dire conditions, the worst in 1,200 years, with several small outlying communities suffering complete (100%) loss of water. Arizona is already calculating what industries will be forced to cut water in the near future as the Colorado River is already overly stressed and overly depleted, unable to meet heavy demand.

Brazil’s drought is the worst ever recorded. Hydroelectric plants can’t fully operate because of low reservoir levels. Chile has endured a mega drought for years. According to a recent Reuters report: 400,000 people who live in rural areas of Chile today receive water via tanker trucks. Chile’s spectacular “Mediterranean climate” in the central region, home to vineyards and farms, has taken a big hit. Scientists doubt it’ll ever recover its spectacular climate zone.

Even Israel, which invested $500 million in the world’s largest desalination plant, supplying 20% of its water needs, is warning citizens that the drought/water crisis is so severe that it will “struggle” to provide all residents with enough water to meet basic needs by next summer.

In Russia, some agricultural regions are at risk of losing up to one-half of their harvest because of punishing drought. Russia’s famous Black Earth Region, nicknamed as such because of its world famous high soil moisture content is now a bleak greyish color. Meanwhile, drought in Madagascar has pushed the country to the edge of famine.

A recent major research report claims that since 2014 Europe has experienced the most extreme series of droughts and heat waves in more than 2,000 years.  1

According to BBC News, in Taiwan, considered one of the “rainiest places in the world,” many reservoirs are at less than 20% of capacity and some below 10%. At the primary water source for Taiwan’s $100B semiconductor industry, the water at Baoshan No. 2 Reservoir is at 7%. This has serious international business ramifications.

The list of drought conditions hitting every continent, except Antarctica, is overwhelming. Indeed, the worldwide drought should be categorized as a triple-extra-alarm emergency with all hands on deck. Will it be?

Will world leaders convene to stop fossil fuel destruction of the planet?

Or, will a neglected broken climate system force people to fight for survival, and what does that imply?

  1. “Recent European Drought Extremes Beyond Common Era Background Variability”, Nature Geoscience, March 15, 2021.
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GPI vs. GDP

U.S House Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) recently introduced a bill in Congress to overhaul GDP, the nation’s most watched economic indicator. July 30th she introduced the Genuine Progress Indicator (“GPI”) Act. It would be a significant change for the trajectory of the socio-economic system.

GPI is a new way to calculate GDP, but passage of the act in Congress is dependent upon whether it can displace the all-important “only size matters” syndrome that underlies and determines GDP. In contrast, GPI offers considerable substance and a new way to measure economic performance that’s in concert with the planet and with its inhabitants.

Hopefully, GPI gets a decent hearing in Congress because major turning points in socio-economic and political affairs can make a difference for generations to come.

A prime example of a positive turning point is the Battle of Saratoga in 1777 victory by the colonists over the British, which was the world’s greatest army at the time. It was a crucial turning point in the American Revolution, convincing France to enter the conflict on behalf of the colonists. That turning point brought forth a new nation.

In contrast, an example of a negative turning point is the Supreme Court 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision upholding Louisiana’s statute mandating segregation in all public facilities, thus legally embedding bigotry for nearly 60 years. That turning point still stings.

Today, we may be witnessing one more major turning point via Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Her proposal has the potential to change the socio-economic trajectory of America and the world in a multitude of ways by leveling the playing field for income distribution, infrastructure development, fair labor practices and ecosystem sustainability, none of which GDP recognizes.

GDP only measures the “size of the economy” whereas GPI measures the true breadth of economic benefits and losses, such as: (1) unpaid labor (2) sustainable job skills (3) infrastructure and (4) ecosystems services, as well as accounting for the costs of growth and its collateral issues: (a) resource depletion (b) greenhouse gases (c) income inequality, and (d) domestic abuse. GDP ignores all of the aforementioned.

GPI may be the only way to unify attention for badly needed mitigation efforts of life-sourcing ecosystems. Without them, the planet will die.

Meanwhile, as for GDP, certain questions must be addressed: Growth for whom and at what costs? GDP does not husband life-sustaining resources, but it does consume those same resources, which is an overt expression of a civilization that has lost its way on a trip down the proverbial rabbit hole.

Omar’s proposed bill says: “To direct the Secretary of Commerce to establish an alternative metric for measuring the net benefits of economic activity, and for other purposes… the ‘genuine progress indicator’ to measure the economic well-being of households, calculated through adjustments to gross domestic product that account for positive and negative economic, environmental, and social factors that contribute to economic activity….” That is brilliant!

The “costs” listed within GPI actually define the impending extinction risks for the world at large, for example, costs that are missing from GDP but included within GPI: (1) water, air, and noise pollution at the household and national level (2) loss of farmland and productive soils, including soil quality degradation (3) loss of natural wetlands, primary forest area and other at-risk ecosystems (4) high amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions (5) depletion of the ozone layer (6) depletion of nonrenewable sources of energy.

Unfortunately, it’s not likely that GPI will get out of committee in the House of Representatives for several obvious reasons: If the costs listed in GPI were adapted to GDP, actual reported GDP would be all minuses, like -5% to -25%, not +2% to +6%.

Oops! How would the Dow Jones Industrial Average react? Most likely, it would go haywire, directionless, out of control, similar to many ecosystems of the planet that have gone haywire, like the Amazon Rainforest (alarmingly becoming a carbon emitter instead of a carbon sink) or the Great Barrier Reef (>50% of corals bleached in only 5 years) or Siberian permafrost (biggest fires ever recorded) or the Arctic (tragic loss of world’s biggest reflector of solar radiation) or Greenland (big super meltdown underway) or Antarctica (glacial ice flow accelerating way beyond expectations) or the 2/3rds loss of wild vertebrates in less than 50 years.

So, yes Representative Omar’s GPI bill is an excellent idea, but it will likely fail because only size matters in America, and America’s GDP proves it by ignoring reality: (1) pollution costs ignored (2) loss of crucial farmland (3) toxic poisoning (pesticides) of soil (4) monoculture artificial fertilized crop soil degradation (5) paved wetlands destroy “kidneys of the planet” (6) excessive greenhouse gases (the US emits 28% of world emissions with only 5% of world population) (6) subsidizing depletion of nonrenewable sources of energy.

It’s little wonder that the planet is regurgitating a sickness that is endemic to anthropogenic influence throughout the biosphere with raging fires, destructive flooding, and killer heat waves.

Alas, focus on GDP will never heal a broken planet.

GDP does not calculate its own costs of infinite growth. It cannot because the calculation would be negative every year. And, in an act of absolute absurdity, GDP is measured quarterly, as are corporate profits. So, every three-month performance is meaningful, which is insane, childish, and flat-out stupid. This “hurry up and report the quarter” dicta resembles a shell game. In contrast, ecosystems require a lot of time, much longer than three months. Nature doesn’t compute by the quarter. Conversely, GDP is in such a hurry.

Ilhan’s proposal for GPI is geared to a society that values sustainability of resources and concern for the health of the biosphere and for its inhabitants. But, sad to say, it doesn’t realistically fit into today’s world of neoliberal capitalism. There’s no open slot for anything other than profits. We all pay a price for those profits.

Moreover, it is doubtful that an accurate calculation of depletion and destruction of ecosystems is possible at today’s rapid rate. Who could possibly keep up with it?

Still, it’s brilliant to get the concept into the public domain, and one can only hope.

The post GPI vs. GDP first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Drought Flood Fire

The world is on fire like never before: “Wildfires Have Erupted Across the Globe Scorching Places That Rarely Burned Before” (CNN headlines July 22, 2021) but not only is fire raging, Biblical floods are destroying entire communities; e.g., 9,000 homes swept away in central China (BBC News) as towns were nearly decimated in Germany, “Europe’s Deadly Floods Leave Scientists Stunned” (Science, July 20, 2021). All of that with worldwide droughts at a fever pitch.

Is the sky (actually) falling?

According to SPEI Global Drought Monitor, the current drought cycle is worldwide. Only Antarctica is spared. In some corners of the world water reservoirs are dangerously low, big hydroelectric plants sputter, as long-standing verdant forests morph into dried-out firetraps.

This shocking coincidence of three major catastrophic events hitting at the same time is likely unequaled in modern history. Why are the most serious threats to 21st century civilization; i.e., drought, fire, and floods simultaneously ravaging the planet from east-to-west, north-to-south?

Answers can be found in a new book:  Drought, Flood, Fire, How Climate Change Contributes to Catastrophes by Chris Funk (Director of Climate Hazards Center, UC Santa Barbara) Cambridge University Press, August 2021.

Funk provides a very accurate description of the linchpin of climate-related trouble in one brilliant paragraph:

We hang isolated in space, with only an incredibly thin layer of atmosphere standing between us and oblivion. If we could drive our car straight up at highway speeds, we would approach the edge of the atmosphere in a matter of minutes. And into this thin membrane we are dumping about 28 million gigatons of carbon dioxide every day. The rational decisions of nearly 8 billion people are resulting in collective insanity as we choose to destroy the delicate balances that support Earth’s fragile flame.  (p. 21)

Moreover:

Climate change is making climate extremes more frequent and intense… Not in the future, but right now… Over the past few years (2015-2020) the fingerprints of climate change have seemed more like a slap. Extreme heat waves, floods, droughts, and wildfires have exacted a terrible toll on developed and developing nations alike. These extremes have impacted hundreds of millions of people and resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars in losses, all across the globe. (p. 5)

Early on in Funk’s book a chart of weather-related losses (1980 to 2018) clearly shows a four-fold increase in less than 40 years, which is foreboding and demanding of attention. Funk educates readers how and why such huge increases have occurred in such a short time:

One goal of this book is to describe how energy moves through the Earth’s energy system, so you can both better appreciate the beauty of our life-sustaining complex planet, and how human-induced warming is altering this system in a dangerous and alarming way. (p. 12)

Drought Flood Fire delves into the onset of complex life, as well as the rudimentary basics of the mechanisms by which greenhouse gases warm the planet, to wit:

Even most people who believe in climate change don’t really understand the basic mechanism of why adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere has to increase the amount of energy reaching the surface of the Earth.  (p. 65)

This book serves as a tutorial and, as such, a compelling asset for students and advocates and world policymakers. It’s an authoritative teaching tool with occasional fun images that depict the ironic fragility of our enduring planet, e.g.,

Imagine an egg painted blue. The atmosphere is as thick as the blue paint. (p. 67)

Ever wonder how tropical storms originate or hurricanes or cyclones via understanding the intricate details behind the reported facts, in plain English?

Is Earth uniquely fragile or steadfast and how is it that humans disrupt its ecosystems?

Indeed, Drought, Flood, Fire is a primer on the most elemental developments of all aspects of the universe and solar system and the origin of complex life itself. This seminal book is essentially a lecture series about the remarkable features and development of the universe ultimately devolving into today’s anthropogenic distortion of nature. It’s well worth the read.

Funk personally describes his approach, as follows:

Some aspects of climate change are complex and hard to fathom. Some are fairly straightforward concepts and facts that everyone really needs to understand. This book is mostly about the latter. Some of the most important mechanisms of climate change can be understood by everyone: Why do greenhouse gasses have such a direct warming effect on our planet? How does this warming intensify the impact of droughts and fires? How can this same atmospheric warming, paradoxically, also increase the frequency of extreme precipitation events and floods? This book approaches these questions with a Do-It-Yourself  (DIY) attitude.  (p. 59)

He explains the dynamics of extreme events, as for example, the interrelationship of California fires, warmer air temperatures, and drier vegetation like the infamous Thomas Fire of 2017, which was for a brief period the biggest most damaging fire in California history with flames roaring six stories into the sky.

Interestingly enough, along with that California example, Funk spells out warning signals for all of humanity, to wit:

By looking carefully at both weather data and disaster statistics, we can see with our own eyes that a 1°C warming is already having dire consequences.  (p. 64)

That one fact alone “dire consequences” at only 1°C, especially in the context of a world currently at 1.2°C above baseline, should alert policymakers around the world to the inescapable gravity of today’s scenario with worldwide firestorms, floods, and droughts bordering on the apocalyptic, which are broadcasts on TV for all to see.  These are unprecedented, out of control real time scenes of climate destructiveness never witnessed before. And, it’s happening around the world, and it’s happening now. It’s unvarnished reality!

According to Funk:

The intent here is serious. California just experienced a large increase in fire extent, due in part to an exceptional increase in temperatures. We will likely see this happen again, and again, over the next forty years. (p. 65)

Statements like that are backed up by scientific data that needs to be front and center for policymakers. His book should be on the desks of every policymaker because immediate remediation measures have never been more urgently crucial, especially with so much destruction at today’s global temperature of only 1.2°C above baseline. Whether they thoroughly read the book or not, policy wonks need a reminder of Drought Flood Fire on their desktops. It’s essential.

The rate of increase of global warming, as detailed in Funk’s book, sends a clear message of deep concern. Figure 5-3 in the book demonstrates “exceptionally warm” ocean and air temperatures throughout the planet. It’s the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s monthly temperature data set of sea surface and land temperatures. In true Michael Mann fashion the graph is parabolic!

The graph shows the fraction (percentage) of Earth that’s exceptionally warm over time, as explained by Funk:

This time series should deeply disturb you. The fraction… is increasing very rapidly. When I was born, it was about 2%. By the time I started graduate school it was around 5%. When my children were born, it hovered around 7%. Since that time the area of exceptional warmth has doubled again to around 17%, increasing rapidly just between the beginning and end of our focus period (2015-2019). Now almost one-fifth of the globe experiences extreme temperatures at any given time. (p. 99)

Those extremes result in severe health impacts, including death. For example, China has reported “at least 300 deaths” as a result of recent record-making floods whilst the same flooding traps passengers in subway trains standing in neck-deep water in the provincial capital Zhengzhou; meantime, hundreds of people died in the recent Pacific Northwest heat wave, according to estimates; there were at least 486 deaths in British Columbia, 116 in Oregon, 78 in Washington… there were more than 3,500 emergency department visits for heat-related illness this past May and June in a region that includes Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington State, which is normally a very cool region.

Funk’s research group has developed a methodology to provide accurate estimates of maximum air temperatures called the Climate Hazards Center Infrared Temperature dataset.  His accomplishments at U of Calif. Santa Barbara involve satellites and computers used to identify and predict climate hazards. Because of the planet’s berserk climate system of late, Funk’s work should be mandatory for nation/state policy wonks.

Funk’s Extreme Event Attribution methodology identifies “the fingerprint of climate change” well ahead of time.  For example, his research group explains the mechanisms or observations by which extreme weather events can be anticipated to help formulate humanitarian aid well ahead of a severe drought. As for example:

In late 2016 we predicted the spring 2017 drought that struck Kenya, Somalia, and southern Ethiopia.  (p. 15)

According to Funk, we live on a “Goldilocks Planet” with a life support system entirely dependent upon a “very thin atmosphere and the absolute necessity of maintaining temperatures with a narrow range.” In that regard, Drought Flood Fire focuses on what’s happening to the planet now vis a vis extreme heat, extreme precipitation, and out of control droughts, wildfires, and hurricanes turbocharged by human-generated greenhouse gases.

Of interest, in spite of Funk’s careful examination of the dangers presented by human-generated greenhouse gases and examples of how devastating those have been at only 1°C above baseline, towards the end of his book he discovers an upbeat note by referencing the German and California experiences of effectively mitigating GHGs whilst experiencing rapid economic growth as examples of what the world can do to favorably resolve the climate crisis.

He goes on to tabulate all of the wonderful positives of modern day society, the accomplishments in medicine, science, etc., which are all true.  Yet, it somehow comes across as way too Disneylandish in the face of repeated failures by the nations of the world to uphold their climate mitigation commitments. After all, every world climate conference, like Paris 2015, has failed, horribly failed. This is worse than a tragedy and cause for not holding one’s breath over the outcome of the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Glasgow in November called COP26 where 30,000 delegates are expected.

Yes, since 1995 in Berlin, the world has already held 25 COPs! Begging the question: What results? Namely, annual CO2 emissions have skyrocketed (double the 20th century rate), unrelenting global warming (a new heat record, 2020) CO2-e at record levels year-by-year. Meanwhile, Biblical fires, massive flooding, and killer droughts haunt civilization like never before.

What’s to celebrate?

Maybe it would be better if COP26 is cancelled and save the millions spent on 30,000 professionals gathering to chitchat, meaning “lots of smoke but no flames,” except for the long-standing forests of the world, which are burning like crazy.

At the end, Funk comes back to reality, which is crucial for understanding where the planet’s health stands and what must be done, to wit:

Right now we appear to be headed for 3°C of warming or more. This level of warming would almost certainly have catastrophic and potentially irreversible impacts on our planet’s life support system. (p. 299)

But, according to Drought Flood Fire, it’s already happening with just 1°C warming, as Funk additionally queries: Imagine +3°C or +4°C bringing on decimated crops, super storms, and considerably higher sea levels, but yet:

Even the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C of warming will make an incredible difference.  (p. 300)

Nobody knows for certain where climate change/global warming is headed, but one thing is certain, it’s always worse than climate models; it’s always worse than scientists expect. That’s a concerning preamble to yet one more UN Climate Summit.

All of which gives one pause with today’s 1.2°C above baseline as Biblical droughts, floods, and fires scare the daylights out of scientists. They’re publicly admitting it, which is a refreshing bold approach.  Hopefully, their deep-seated concerns override, supersede the bureaucratic nightmarish results of past COPs.

Meanwhile, Drought Flood Fire, How Climate Change Contributes to Catastrophes puts everything into perspective.

The post Drought Flood Fire first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Covid Fear Management Policies: Distractions from and Tests for Looming Climate Collapse

Photo by Jarr1520;

Strategy of reward and punishment

In the newly coined so-called War on Covid, the arsenal is eclectic. There is not only science, in the form of experimental RNA vaccines hastily developed by giants of the pharmaceutical industry, but also semi-authoritarian or full-blown authoritarian government measures imposed and legally validated by declarations of states of emergencies. The panoply of edicts include mandatory face masks indoor and sometime outdoor, depending on the country; enforced or unenforced social distancing recommendations; limitation of public or even private gatherings; and more drastic measures like lock-downs and curfews.

The crescendo of assaults on personal liberties eased up for a few months, but governments are now using, because of the spread of the Delta variant, the threats of reinstating their coercion as an insidious blackmail to force people to get vaccinated. In other words, if one has the temerity to refuse the salvation brought by Big Pharma’s vaccines, life shall be so extremely problematic and isolated as almost to make one a social pariah. In France President Macron is defining a new ideology that could be called semi-authoritarian neoliberalism, while in the Philippines neofascist Duarte is entirely blunt in his approach. Regardless, both politicians have the same goal: to get their entire population vaccinated. They use a strategy of psychological warfare based on reward and punishment, a bit similar to that used on lab mice.

Photo by Robert Muller

In the case of Macron, the reward for the good and fully vaccinated French citizens is that they will carry, as a badge of honor, a Pass Sanitaire. The misfits, refuseniks, pesky bad citizens who still refuse to see the light and comply, will receive punishments. These bad French apples will be deprived from travel except in their own vehicles, and from cultural events like concerts, movies and museum exhibits.

Duarte’s fascist approach, if more brutal, is in a sense a bit more honest. It is still about manipulating his population with the rewards versus punishments principle, but there are many sticks and basically no carrots. Case in point: Duarte is seriously considering locking up in their homes those Filipinos who refuse to be vaccinated. One can only wonder what will happen to the vast homeless population in the Philippines.

Photo by Grey Area

Vaccines, the universal silver bullet

Covid management styles and policies have been diverse in tone and strategies, but it seems that governments worldwide are all watching, then mimicking, at times, each other’s minor achievements to avoid major failures. Only one question is on their minds, which seems to be the universal governmental panacea, independently of ideology: how do we get the entire population vaccinated?

In the more sophisticated media manipulation of Western democracies, the secondary questions are as follows. How do we convince the citizenry that the coercive measures put in place nearly 18 months ago, in a quasi entirely undemocratic fashion by decrees etc., were gently forced on people for their own good rather than in an attempt to avoid a global economic collapse? And further, how do we persuade them that these measures will be entirely lifted one day to go back to an almost mythological happy pre-Covid world?

Jonathan

In other words, how can leaders, with varying degrees of incompetence and undisclosed ties to giant global corporate interests, make people believe that they are acting for the common good rather than to avoid a global stock market crash? Altruism and the collective social good rarely guide the paths of politicians anywhere, and citizens in large numbers have finally caught on to this reality.

People have become more doubtful about what they are told, either directly by their elected officials, or through mainstream media outlets via so-called experts charged with propagating — yes, like propaganda — the government narrative with powerful bullhorns, and sort of carpet-bombing people’s brains with a relentless coverage of the immense danger of Covid, especially the brand new Delta variant, and the great virtue of vaccines as being almost 92 percent accurate silver bullets against the pandemic.

Unfortunately, a one-note intrusive narrative eventually has an undesired effect on a fragment of the population. This is precisely what is going on in France since Macron made the choice, which could be fatal to his political future, to jam through parliament, in the middle of the summer holidays, a law infamously called Pass Sanitaire, to blackmail French people into mandatory vaccination. Many opponents perceive it as a pass to submission, and they have decided to make their voices heard, loud and clear, in the streets. Will this movement of dissent be long lived, contagious to other countries, or ultimately twisted and hijacked for a political purpose? This is so far a question in limbo.  The large scale protests, however, were unexpected.

Illustration by Mike Finn

A smoke screen to mask climate collapse

A year ago the Covid-19 pandemic accounted for about 75 percent of the media coverage across the board worldwide. This alone, if a virus could have been granted the Person of the Year award from Time Magazine, would have assured it the coveted price. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won person of the year in 2020, but if it had been Creature of the Year, SARS-CoV-2 would have won. As matter of fact, one can easily argue that without the Covid crisis, Donald Trump would have likely been reelected. In political, sociological, and economic affairs, the microorganism has been a game changer.

So far, Covid has not been a seed of much needed social change but instead has been used as a nasty new tool for disaster capitalism to thrive by changing some fundamental economic parameters, as well as serve as a powerful device to concentrate wealth. What could be better for capitalism than to convince taxpayers that their money needs to be injected by the trillions into corporate conglomerates? Across the world, in all the COVID-19 stimulus funding schemes, the lion share went to corporations while private citizens got the crumbs. Wall Street should have crashed but didn’t, because vast amounts of public funds were pumped into the global financial markets. Airlines that were saved from bankruptcy by a Covid bail out should have been nationalized; instead Air France, for example, remained a private company with an overpaid CEO while France’s government became a bigger share holder.

Photo by Jeanne Menjoulet

The bait and switch worked on a global scale. It worked with the financial aspect, just like it worked in the semantic of fear. For the media, it’s all about key words. Some might have noticed that at first it was COVID-19, then it became simply Covid, but now, probably because the word’s traction is wearing off, governments or corporate-controlled outlets have switched to Delta variant. It is today’s winner in the fear factor department, and it is repeated ad nauseam. This element of constant fear has established a nice level of docility in a majority of the global population, as well as a numbing anxiety focused on the narrow topic of the pandemic, and the easy vaccine fix proposed by governments.

The cloud of anxiety has obstructed from many the clarity that WE, as a species, face a threat much greater than a virus. How gullible many of us might be to believe that a pandemic, which so far has killed a quarter of the number of victims of the Spanish flu 100 years ago, is more of an existential threat than the unfolding climate collapse? It is pathetic and ironic for governments and their media servants to use a pandemic as a smoke screen for a much bigger problem, especially when a substantial potion of Earth is currently being consumed by fires.

Photo by Glenn Lewis

Last time I checked, 800 wild fires were burning in Italy, Turkey was scorched, the US northwest was still burning, Greece was baking with a 45 degree Celsius temperature, Siberia had been burning for months, and there were killer floods in Germany and China. Meanwhile, the so-called climate experts on mainstream media hardly connected these climate crisis events. They barely connected the dots between extreme weather events and catastrophic climate change by softly saying “isolated extreme weather events could be a manifestation of global climate change.” It shouldn’t be “could be” but are; it shouldn’t be “climate change” but climate crisis. The global fear of Covid is highly lucrative. By contrast a fear of climate collapse — or actually a recognition of its imminence — would lead people to reject the global capitalist system that is driving our species into the abyss. It would lead human societies away from consumption and toward zero-growth economies and population models that would deal capitalism a fatal blow.

Photo by Ian Sanderson

We have more or less collectively experienced, since March 2020, a life of fear and a sort of lingering collective anxiety. Fear is usually correlated with a reduction of critical thinking and greatly diminished opposition against the abuse of authority.

The protests in France show that fear can lose ground. Citizens do not have to surrender their fundamental rights of freedom and liberty to the whim of governmental authority based on semi-valid cognitive notions, or purely arbitrary ones, at times absurd, which appear to serve an agenda foreign to the common good. Popular resistance, whatever forms it may take in France and elsewhere, is always a viable option. At critical times in history it even becomes a civic duty.

The post Covid Fear Management Policies: Distractions from and Tests for Looming Climate Collapse first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Complex Life Threatened

Throughout the world, scientists are speaking out like never before. They’re talking about an emergency situation of the health of the planet threatening “complex life,” including, by default, human life.

It’s scary stuff. On this subject, America’s green NGOs prefer to address the danger by sticking to a middle ground, don’t scare people, too much doom and gloom backfires, turns people off, it’s counterproductive.

However, emergencies have been happening for some time now. So, it’s kinda hard to ignore. In fact, that’s why it’s so obviously easy to declare emergencies today, yesterday, and the day before yesterday and many yesterdays before that. In other words, the house has been on fire for some time but the fire engines never show up.

A recent fundamental study discusses the all-important issue of failing support of complex life:

Humanity is causing a rapid loss of biodiversity and, with it, Earth’s ability to support complex life. 1

The ramifications are unnerving. Accordingly, Earth’s ability to support complex life is officially at risk. That’s what the scientists are implying within the meaning of the article’s title: “Understanding the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future.”

Indeed, the article identifies a life or death chronology, or summation, of all of the emergencies already underway. That’s real! Moreover, the risk of a “ghastly future” is not taken lightly; rather, the heavily researched article includes high-powered renowned scientists authoring one of the most significant articles of the 21st century, boldly describing risks of an offbeat pathway to a ghastly future, therefore begging the question of what a ghastly future really looks like.

An armchair description of a ghastly future is a planet wheezing, coughing, and gasping for air, searching for non-toxic water, as biodiversity dwindles to nothingness alongside excessive levels of atmospheric CO2-e, bringing on too much heat for complex life to survive. Sound familiar? In part, it is.

Along the way, the irretrievable loss of vertebrates, or complex life forms like wild mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians have reduced to 5% of the planet’s total biomass.  The remaining 95%: (1) livestock (59%) and (2) humans (36%). (Bradshaw, et al) How long does that cozy relationship last?

It’ll likely last for decades, maybe, but probably not for centuries. But then again, nobody really knows for sure how long it’ll last. Meanwhile, the human version of complex life resides in comfortable artificial lifestyles framed by cement, steel, glass, wood, and plastic, and surrounded by harmful fertilizers, toxic insecticides, and tons of untested chemicals. There are more than 80,000 chemicals registered for use in the U.S., most of which have not been studied for safety or toxicity to humans. 2

As a consequence of how artificial lifestyles influence how people view the world, it’s no surprise that Disneyland is a huge success, a big hit, with its flawless artificiality that offers a comfort zone for families within its mastery of hilarious bio-diverse imagery, all fake.

But, while Disneyland prospers, biodiversity is on a slippery slope, barely hanging on for dear life at 5% of total biomass. Once that final 5% goes down the drain, which now looks promising, human life will be all that remains along with herds of cows, pens of pigs, and coops of chickens. Phew!

Already, it is mind-blowing that two-thirds of wild vertebrate species have disappeared from the face of the planet within only 50 years, a world-class speed record for extinction events. At that rate, the infamous Anthropocene will usher in the bleakest century since commencement of the Holocene Epoch of the past 10,000-plus years, especially in consideration of the remorseful fact that, over the past 300 years, global wetlands have been reduced to 15% of their original composition.

That one fact alone, as highlighted in the Bradshaw report, describes an enormous hole in the lifeblood of the planet. Wetlands are the “kidneys for the world’s landscape” (a) cleansing water (b) mitigating floods (c) recharging underground aquifers, and (d) providing habitat for biodiversity. What else does that?

Once wetlands are gone, there’s no hope for complex life support systems. And, how will aquifers be recharged? Aquifers are the world’s most important water supply. Yet, NASA says 13 of the planet’s 37 largest aquifers are classified as overstressed because they have almost no new water flowing in to offset usage. No wetlands, no replenishment. Ipso facto, the Middle East is on special alert!

Meanwhile, dying crumbling ecosystems all across the world are dropping like flies with kelp forests down >40%, coral reefs down >50%, and 40% of all plant life endangered, as well as massive insect losses of 70% to 90% in some regions approaching wholesale annihilation. It’s entirely possible that the planet has never before experienced this rate of loss.

Alas, the loss of biodiversity brings a plethora of reductions in associated benefits of a healthy planet: (1) reduced carbon sequestration (CO2-e already at all-time highs), (2) reduced pollination (insect wipe-out), (3) degraded soil (especially Africa), (4) foul air, bad water (especially India), (5) intense flooding (especially America’s Midwest), (6) colossal wildfires (Siberia, California, Amazon, Australia), (7) compromised health (rampaging viruses and 140 million Americans with at least one chronic disease, likely caused, in part, by environmental degradation and too much toxicity).

Barring a universal all-hands-on-deck recovery effort of Earth’s support systems for complex life; e.g., revival of wetlands, it’s difficult to conceive of a future without the protection of Hazmat suits.

Integral to the continual loss of nature’s bounty, an overcrowded planet brings in its wake regenerative resource limitations. Accordingly, some estimates claim 700-800 million people already are currently starving and 1-2 billion malnourished and unable to function fully. Um, does that describe life or is it sub-life?

One of the most telling statistics within the Bradshaw report states: “Simultaneous with population growth, humanity’s consumption as a fraction of Earth’s regenerative capacity has grown from ~ 73% in 1960 to 170% in 2016.” Ipso facto, humans are consuming more than one Earth. How long does that last, especially considering the deflating fact that regeneration turned negative, circa 1970s?

Ecological overshoot is a centerpiece of the loss of biodiversity:

This massive ecological overshoot is largely enabled by the increasing use of fossil fuels. These convenient fuels have allowed us to decouple human demand from biological regeneration: 85% of commercial energy, 65% of fibers, and most plastics are now produced from fossil fuels. Also, food production depends on fossil-fuel input, with every unit of food energy produced requiring a multiple in fossil-fuel energy (e.g., 3 × for high-consuming countries like Canada, Australia, USA, and China; overshootday.org). (Bradshaw, et al).

As loss of biodiversity delves deeper into the lifeblood of the planet, it becomes a festering problem that knows no end. Still:

Stopping biodiversity loss is nowhere close to the top of any country’s priorities, trailing far behind other concerns such as employment, healthcare, economic growth, or currency stability. It is therefore no surprise that none of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets for 2020 set at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD.int) 2010 conference was met.  (Bradshaw, et al)

No surprise there.

Making matters much, much worse:

Most of the nature-related United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (e.g., SDGs 6, 13–15) are also on track for failure.  (Bradshaw, et al)

No surprise there.

Even the World Economic Forum, which is captive of dangerous green-washing propaganda, now recognizes biodiversity loss as one of the top threats to the global economy.  (Bradshaw, et al)

No surprise there.

So, where, when, and how are solutions to be found? As stated above, there’s no shortage of ideas, but nobody does the work because solutions are overwhelming, too expensive, too complicated. Yet, plans are underway to send people to Mars!

Meanwhile, the irrepressible global warming fiasco is subject of a spaghetti-type formula of voluntary commitments by nations of the world (Paris 2015) to contain the CO2-e villain, all of which has proven to be nightmarishly inadequate. Human-induced greenhouse gases continue hitting record levels year-over-year. That’s the antithesis of success. According to the Bradshaw report: “Without such commitments, the projected rise of Earth’s temperature will be catastrophic for biodiversity.” Hmm — maybe declare one more emergency. Yes, no?

Alas, it’s difficult to imagine loss of biodiversity beyond what’s already happened with 2/3rds of wild vertebrate life gone in only 40-50 years. Also, not to forget invertebrates. When’s the last time a bug splattered on a windshield anywhere in America?

Looking ahead, the best advice may be to make preparations for universal pandemonium, which coincidentally is the namesake of the Capitol (Pandemonium) of Hell in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, circa 17th century England.

What to do? Maybe forego any new emergency declarations (the current crop of emergencies, like impending loss of The Great Barrier Reef, are already happening and too much to absorb) and remediation plans that go nowhere, leaving behind a stream of broken promises and false hope, especially after so many years of broken promises and protocols and meetings and orgs that go nowhere, but meanwhile, they preach stewardship of the planet. What’s with that?

Postscript: The scale of the threats to the biosphere and all its life forms—including humanity—is in fact so great that it is difficult to grasp for even well informed experts. (“Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future”)

  1. Corey J.A. Bradshaw, et al, “Underestimating the Challenges of Avoiding a Ghastly Future”, Frontiers in Conservation Science, January 13, 2021.
  2. “It Could Take Centuries for EPA to Test all the Unregulated Chemicals Under a New Landmark Bill”, PBS News Hour, June, 22, 2016.
The post Complex Life Threatened first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Kiss the Amazon Rainforest Goodbye

Photo:  Rainforest Trust

As of September 29th, Brazil’s Bolsonaro government has fired the civilian-run National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which has monitored the Amazon rainforest for the past three decades. INPE is being replaced (drumroll please) by the Brazilian military as the new watchdog over the world famous rainforest. Voila, worldwide concerns about deforestation are… ah… indeterminate, vague, unspecified.

All along, the spectacularly bountiful rainforest has increasingly come under heavy attack and definitively at risk of turning into a degraded savannah. A warning put forward by world-renowned Amazonian scientist Carlos Nobre, as two powerfully destructive assaults are simultaneously underway: (1) global warming is pounding the rainforest repeatedly every 5 years, ever since 1998, with severe droughts lumberingly reinforced by (2) massive deforestation (cutting down and burning trees) for commercial logging, farming, and mineral exploitation.

Right before the eyes of the world the most legendary rainforest on the planet goes up in smoke (See previous article: “Brazil’s 63,000 Fires”, September 8, 2020).

Brazil’s vice president Hamilton Mourão, a retired general, announced, as of September 29th, creation of a new agency with “full authority over Amazon deforestation and fire monitory satellite alerts.” As mentioned above, the new agency is now in charge of collecting and analyzing scientific data for 60% of South America’s rainforest.

A telltale indicator to this sudden change of guard took place almost one year ago when science minister Marcos Pontes fired the former chief of the INPE agency Ricardo Galvão, August of 2019, over a public disagreement with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on the validity of data about deforestation. According to Bolsonaro, the data had been altered to attack his government. In response, Galvão labeled the president “a coward.”

In response to Galvão’s release, Philip Fearnside, an ecologist at INPE, informed Eos news that “deforestation under Bolsonaro is exploding.” He already “had done a tremendous amount of damage in the environmental area just in 7 months… things are falling apart very quickly.”1

Carlos Nobre, who worked at INPE for 35 years and who is currently senior researcher at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of São Paulo indignantly commented:

If deforestation exceeds 20-25% of the Amazon, calculations indicate the region will turn into a degraded savannah.2

Along those lines, according to INPE data, since 1970: “Forest cover as a percent of pre-1970 cover” equals 82.7%. 3  Hmm.

Using words reserved for cat fighting, Bolsonaro informed complaining European countries in 2019 to mind their own business because “they have already destroyed their own environment,” as he claimed his own government’s satellite data showing an alarming rise in deforestation as “lies.”4

Bolsonaro went on to say he was “fulfilling a mission from God.”

He also sharply criticized foreign press for complaining about his plans to open up indigenous reserves to mining, stating that the press lacked respect for human rights of Brazil’s indigenous people:

You want the indigenous people to carry on like prehistoric men with no access to technology, science, information, and the wonders of modernity. Indigenous people want to work, they want to produce and they can’t. They live isolated in their areas like cavemen. What most of the foreign press do to Brazil and against these human beings is a crime. 2

During America’s presidential debate, candidate Joe Biden commenting about Brazil, said Trump had “no relationship with foreign policy… The rainforest of Brazil are being torn down.” He suggested a solution:

I would be gathering up and making sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion, and say, ‘Here’s $20 billion. Stop tearing down the forest. And if you don’t then you’re gonna have significant economic consequences.5

Bolsonaro responded to Biden’s jab: “What a shame. Mr. John (sic) Biden! What a shame!”2

Indeed, what a shame that Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is within reach of turning into a degraded savannah.

  1. “Ousted Head of Science Agency Criticizes Brazil’s Denial of Deforestation Data”, Eos, 20 August 2019.
  2. Ibid.
  3. “Calculating Deforestation Figures for the Amazon”, Mongabay, January 4, 2020.
  4. Bolsonaro Declares ‘the Amazon is Ours’ and Calls Deforestation Data ‘Lies’, The Guardian, July 19, 2019.
  5. “Brazil’s Bolsonaro Slams Biden for ‘Coward Threats’ Over Amazon”, US News, September 30, 2020.

The post Kiss the Amazon Rainforest Goodbye first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Kiss the Amazon Rainforest Goodbye

Photo:  Rainforest Trust

As of September 29th, Brazil’s Bolsonaro government has fired the civilian-run National Institute for Space Research (INPE), which has monitored the Amazon rainforest for the past three decades. INPE is being replaced (drumroll please) by the Brazilian military as the new watchdog over the world famous rainforest. Voila, worldwide concerns about deforestation are… ah… indeterminate, vague, unspecified.

All along, the spectacularly bountiful rainforest has increasingly come under heavy attack and definitively at risk of turning into a degraded savannah. A warning put forward by world-renowned Amazonian scientist Carlos Nobre, as two powerfully destructive assaults are simultaneously underway: (1) global warming is pounding the rainforest repeatedly every 5 years, ever since 1998, with severe droughts lumberingly reinforced by (2) massive deforestation (cutting down and burning trees) for commercial logging, farming, and mineral exploitation.

Right before the eyes of the world the most legendary rainforest on the planet goes up in smoke (See previous article: “Brazil’s 63,000 Fires”, September 8, 2020).

Brazil’s vice president Hamilton Mourão, a retired general, announced, as of September 29th, creation of a new agency with “full authority over Amazon deforestation and fire monitory satellite alerts.” As mentioned above, the new agency is now in charge of collecting and analyzing scientific data for 60% of South America’s rainforest.

A telltale indicator to this sudden change of guard took place almost one year ago when science minister Marcos Pontes fired the former chief of the INPE agency Ricardo Galvão, August of 2019, over a public disagreement with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro on the validity of data about deforestation. According to Bolsonaro, the data had been altered to attack his government. In response, Galvão labeled the president “a coward.”

In response to Galvão’s release, Philip Fearnside, an ecologist at INPE, informed Eos news that “deforestation under Bolsonaro is exploding.” He already “had done a tremendous amount of damage in the environmental area just in 7 months… things are falling apart very quickly.”1

Carlos Nobre, who worked at INPE for 35 years and who is currently senior researcher at the Institute of Advanced Studies, University of São Paulo indignantly commented:

If deforestation exceeds 20-25% of the Amazon, calculations indicate the region will turn into a degraded savannah.2

Along those lines, according to INPE data, since 1970: “Forest cover as a percent of pre-1970 cover” equals 82.7%. 3  Hmm.

Using words reserved for cat fighting, Bolsonaro informed complaining European countries in 2019 to mind their own business because “they have already destroyed their own environment,” as he claimed his own government’s satellite data showing an alarming rise in deforestation as “lies.”4

Bolsonaro went on to say he was “fulfilling a mission from God.”

He also sharply criticized foreign press for complaining about his plans to open up indigenous reserves to mining, stating that the press lacked respect for human rights of Brazil’s indigenous people:

You want the indigenous people to carry on like prehistoric men with no access to technology, science, information, and the wonders of modernity. Indigenous people want to work, they want to produce and they can’t. They live isolated in their areas like cavemen. What most of the foreign press do to Brazil and against these human beings is a crime. 2

During America’s presidential debate, candidate Joe Biden commenting about Brazil, said Trump had “no relationship with foreign policy… The rainforest of Brazil are being torn down.” He suggested a solution:

I would be gathering up and making sure we had the countries of the world coming up with $20 billion, and say, ‘Here’s $20 billion. Stop tearing down the forest. And if you don’t then you’re gonna have significant economic consequences.5

Bolsonaro responded to Biden’s jab: “What a shame. Mr. John (sic) Biden! What a shame!”2

Indeed, what a shame that Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is within reach of turning into a degraded savannah.

  1. “Ousted Head of Science Agency Criticizes Brazil’s Denial of Deforestation Data”, Eos, 20 August 2019.
  2. Ibid.
  3. “Calculating Deforestation Figures for the Amazon”, Mongabay, January 4, 2020.
  4. Bolsonaro Declares ‘the Amazon is Ours’ and Calls Deforestation Data ‘Lies’, The Guardian, July 19, 2019.
  5. “Brazil’s Bolsonaro Slams Biden for ‘Coward Threats’ Over Amazon”, US News, September 30, 2020.

The post Kiss the Amazon Rainforest Goodbye first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Brazil’s 63,000 Fires

Amazon Day, a day of celebration for over 100 years on September 5th, has passed. Amazon Day commemorates the year 1850 creation of the Province of Amazonas, encompassing 60% of Brazil and extending into Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, and French Guyana.

Meanwhile, illegal fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest rage on, and on, and on stronger than ever. Nowadays, in spite of the spirit of Amazon Day, suicidal spates of lawlessness rule Brazil’s precious rainforest.

Indeed, leading scientists believe there is genuine concern that the Amazon rainforest ecosystem could collapse. Already, severe devastating drought sequences have hit every fifth year like clockwork so closely spaced together that normal regrowth does not happen. Thus, the ecosystem is inordinately weakened in the face of human-generated firestorms, further weakening this beleaguered ecosystem.

As substantiated by NASA, the rainforest doesn’t react like it used to. It does not have enough time between droughts to heal itself and regrow. Throughout all of recorded history, this has never been witnessed before, a fact that is horribly concerning and downright depressing. 1

Not only is an ecological breakdown apparent above ground, the breakdown is also found underground. Based upon current images by NASA’s GRACE satellite, the Amazon is in tenuous condition in an unprecedented state of breakdown. The GRACE-FO (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On) satellite system monitors water levels stored deep beneath Earth’s surface. GRACE’s images detected large areas in what’s classified as “Deep Red Zones,” meaning severely constrained water levels. Nothing could be worse.

Furthermore, the peak rainy season, which runs from December to February, was among the top 10 worst on record this year, with just 75% of the season’s usual rainfall.

Additionally, and of consequential concern, the world’s two leading Amazon rainforest scientists made a startling announcement only recently: Thomas Lovejoy (George Mason University) and Carlos Nobre (University of Sao Paulo) reported:

Today, we stand exactly in a moment of destiny: The tipping point is here, it is now.2

Tipping points define equilibrium between life and death.

Furthermore, it is important for world opinion to realize that raging fires are not normal in rainforests, which contain tons of wetness, dripping moisture, and cool air. In fact, even during normal dry seasons, if a fire starts in the undergrowth, it peters out quickly because of extreme wetness throughout rainforests, a moniker that perfectly describes the ecosystem… “rain… forest.”

Not only are fires an aberration under normal conditions, but also deforestation, which brings on the fires in the first instance, is illegal, especially in Brazil. Yet, deforestation is rampant with massive fires as part of the clearing process. It’s highly probable that nearly all 63,000 fires for the current year are the result of illegal deforestation.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, it committed to eliminating all illegal deforestation — which, according to Human Rights Watch, accounts for 90 percent of all deforestation — in the Amazon by 2030.

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) monitors and reports on the fires, 63,000, and still counting for the year 2020.3

The Amazon contains the world’s most precious natural heritage, teeming with the richest biodiversity on the planet, including break-thru medicinal resources, many not yet discovered, and most importantly, serving as the single most significant global climate regulator. Without the Amazon, life throughout the world turns miserable, beyond wildest imagination, like a Stephen King horror movie.

Yet, it is burning, and it is unnecessary, and it is mostly illegal.

After all, the world can get by “just fine” without burning down the most precious resource on the planet in order to grow palm oils and soy and cotton and to raise cattle and dig for gold and oil and logging. But, the world cannot get by “just fine” with a crippled rainforest. That’s happening right now smack dab in front of the world’s eyes closed wide shut.

According to Rainforest Alliance, Brazil’s government knowingly looks the other way. As such, President Jair Bolsonaro deflects international criticism, going so far as to say that environmental NGOs start the fires to make his administration look bad. It’s obvious that he’s reading, and likely memorized, Trump’s playbook.

World leaders, like France’s Macron, have called him out in the past, but Bolsonaro merely flips ‘em the bird. He’s living proof that mean-spiritedness, as it originates via purest of ignorance, goes a long way towards deflecting criticism. For proof, the international community has done nothing substantive to stop the illegal fires.

Bolsonaro wins as the world loses.

And, abiding by the precepts of the Trump playbook, in an address to the UN, he said, “the Amazon remains pristine and virtually untouched,” claiming that Brazil is “one of the countries that protects its environment the most.” At the time of his speech, the Amazon rainforest was burning at record rates and illegal deforestation had surged by 84% following his inauguration.

In his UN speech, Bolsonaro especially heaped praise on U.S. President Donald Trump for supporting him, even as he was under fire by the international community.

Meanwhile, because of excessive global warming, climate change has turned up its intensity way-way-way beyond the models of climate scientists as registered with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). From Antarctica to the Arctic, the climate system is out-of-control, including the all-important life-supporting integrity of the Amazon Rainforest.

Sadly, the facts are indisputable based upon numerous scientific reports; the world climate system is literally coming apart at the seams as excessive usage of fossil fuels spews CO2 that blankets the atmosphere that retains more and more heat that undermines the world’s major ecosystems. Given enough time, society has an insurmountable problem, like right now.

Look to Siberia, the Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland, Australia, and the Amazon Rainforest for incontestable evidence. Meanwhile, severe droughts haunt the world from the Amazon to the Middle East (900-yr drought) to Australia (800-yr drought), throughout SE Asia to all of Central America (“the Dry Corridor”), to a 10-year mega drought-turned-desertification in central Chile to a massive 60-yr drought in Brazil, to totally dried-out to-a-crisp portions of Africa, t0 China’s Lancang River (the Danube of the East) at 100-yr low water levels in Thailand where it streams, and the list could go on and on.

In turn, eco migrant footsteps follow in kind, kindling rightwing politics throughout the world.

All of which prompts the obvious query: Will the nations of the world never seriously coordinate efforts to combat fossil fuel-generated global warming with its deadly accomplice, abrupt climate change?

Notably, it’s already started everywhere nobody lives.

Mercy!

  1. “NASA Finds Amazon Drought Leaves Long Legacy of Damage”, NASA Earth Science News Team, August 9, 2018.
  2. “Amazon Tipping Point: Last Chance for Action”, Science Advances, Vol. 5, no. 12, December 20, 2019.
  3. “Brazil: Alarming Number of New Forest Fires Detected Ahead of Amazon Day”, Amnesty International, September 3, 2020.

The post Brazil’s 63,000 Fires first appeared on Dissident Voice.