stuartbramhall:

 

 

You’ve been warned. Keep frying your brains at your own risk. Info about upcoming screenings at http://www.saferemr.com/

Originally posted on Political Film Blog:

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requiem for a species

Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change

By Clive Hamilton

Allen and Unwin (2010)

Book Review

Most of Requiem for a Species is a detailed analysis of the sociological and psychological factors that lead all of us (including climate activists) to deny the grim reality of the massive climate disruption that faces us. Australian author Clive Hamilton begins by confronting readers with the most likely climate scenario over coming decades. I have always had difficulty getting my head around climate science and found these the most valuable chapters.

Predicting the Behavior of Politicians

For the last two decades politicians have been giving lip service to limiting global warming to a “safe” increase of 2 degrees centigrade. According to Hamilton, most climate scientists recognized this was no longer possible when the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference failed to agree on a treaty to replace the Kyoto Accord. Most climate models agree that the only way to limit global warming to 2 degrees Centigrade would require for global emissions to peak in 2015 (this year) and decrease by 20-40% by 2020. This translates into a 6-7% per year reduction in rich countries – it assumes that developing countries (including China, India and Brazil) will continue business as usual until 2030, before reducing their emission by 3% a year. Hamilton believes there’s no way developing countries will agree to sacrifice economic growth (and bringing their populations out of poverty) before then.

Already in 2010, Hamilton was predicting that rich countries wouldn’t start cutting their emissions by 6-7% annually in 2015. He reckons 3% per annum is the highest emissions reduction compatible with continued economic growth. Cuts above 5% would likely translate into unspeakable human misery, witness the immense human cost in Russia when the Soviet economy collapsed in 1989 (which caused a 5.6% reduction in carbon emissions).

He feels politicians are very unlikely to agree to start cutting in emissions in 2020, either. At present most OECD countries have committed to reducing carbon emissions by 60-80% by 2050. Such a distant target is worse than useless. If politicians fail to act before 2030-2040, most of the earth’s ice cover will have melted and will remain that way for thousands of years. If politicians continue business as usual (and do nothing), global temperatures will increase by 3.1 degrees C by 2100 and 5-6 degrees C by 2200.

Hamilton believes the best we can hope for is that both rich and developing countries will begin cutting emissions by 3% per year in 2030.* In the absolute best case scenario, this translates into an increased average global temperature of 2.6 degrees C by 2100 and 3.5 degrees C by 2200.

What 4 Degrees Warming Looks Like

Because Hamilton considers a 4 degree C increase a likely scenario, he provides a detailed description of what that looks like. With 4 degrees C of average global warming, there will be no Arctic sea ice in summer, and Greenland, the west continental shelf of Antarctica and the Himalayan glaciers will melt. If all the earth’s ice cover melts sea levels will rise by 70 meters.

More than a billion of Earth’s inhabitants will have no access to water, especially in the India, Pakistan and China which rely on the Himalayan glaciers for drinking water. Fifteen percent of current arable land will be unsuitable for cultivation due to drought (in India, Pakistan, China, Australia, southern Europe, the central and southern US, North Africa and the Amazon). In northern climates like Canada and Siberia, there will be a 20% increase in arable land.

It’s impossible for climate scientists to predict exactly how many people will die from starvation, dehydration and extreme weather events. Some predict a reduction in the global population to one billion or less. All we know for sure is the die-off will be most severe in poor developing countries.

The Climate Denial Industry.

There’s also an excellent chapter on the climate denial movement, which profiles climate scientists (most were also strong advocates of Reagan’s Strategic Defense initiative and nuclear power) who colluded with fossil fuel industry, right wing think tanks and the public relations firm APCO (which master minded the campaign to deny the health risks of tobacco) to create an extremely slick climate denial campaign. I found it especially intriguing to learn of the role of the Revolutionary Communist Party (who produced the 2007 documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle) and other far left groups in the climate denial movement.

There’s also an excellent chapter on the gungho technofixers who believe catastrophic climate change can be prevented through pie-in-the-sky technofixes, such as carbon capture, geoengineering and wide scale adoption of nuclear power. Hamilton explores each of these technologies in considerable detail. Each of them costs far more than improving energy efficiency and switching to renewable energy. All of these approaches would take at least ten to twenty years to implement. And as Hamilton points out, waiting another 20 years to begin cutting emissions will have catastrophic consequences.

Hamilton also makes the prediction that the global recession might temporarily reduce emissions before the economy rebounds again. He was correct:

• In 2009, global emissions fell by 1.2% after increasing by an average of 2.5% a year between 1990 and 2009.
• In 2010 global emissions increased by 5.9%
• In 2011 global emissions increased by 3.2%
• In 2012 global emissions increased by 1.4%
• In 2013 global emissions increased by 2.1%


*Hamilton was overly pessimistic here. In November, Obama and Xi Jinping made a bilateral agreement in which Obama committed the US to cutting its carbon emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2025. China committed to start cutting emissions in 2030 and make “best efforts” to peak emissions before 2030.

**The Revolutionary Communist Party was always regarded skeptically (as heavily infiltrated) by other progressive groups when I lived in Seattle. For a grassroots leftist group, they seemed to have virtually unlimited funds and repeatedly tried to instigate violence during peaceful protests. An RCP member was linked to the suspicious death of a one of my African American patients who exposed the DEA’s role in laundering cocaine profits in the professional race car circuit.

stuartbramhall:

 

 

Women who use birth control pills have higher risk of glioma.

Originally posted on thekirkshow:

Taking certain forms of birth control for over five years more than doubles the risk of developing a rare brain tumor, a study led by a Danish neurologist has found.

The study, due to be published Thursday in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, says that women who take hormonal contraceptives showed higher rates of glioma, a tumor that affects around five people in every 100,000.

The study examined the contraception methods over 317 women with glioma aged 15 years to 49 years and compared them to a control group. The researchers found that those who used contraceptives containing only progestin for more than five years had a risk that was 2.4 times higher than the control group. Those who used other types of birth control saw their risk for glioma raised, but not quite as high.

Overall, women who had used hormonal contraceptives at any point for any length…

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The Cost of Racism to White America

University of Massachusetts Professor John H Bracey (2011)

Film Review

In his lecture, Professor Bracey blames racism and white privilege for US having the most poorly organized working class in the industrialized world. From the start of Jim Crow after the Civil War to the late sixties, Africa Americans were deliberately excluded from trade unions, a perfect set-up for white bosses to use non-unions black workers to bust strikes and unions. This absence of working class solidarity meant it took American workers until the 1930s to win basic rights and benefits (eg Social Security, unemployment compensation and welfare) that European workers won in the 1880s.

Racism also keeps white people ignorant of their own history. For example they are unaware (I sure was) that the Battle of the Alamo was fought to extend slavery to Texas (slavery was illegal when Mexico owned Texas).

The refusal of northern whites to confront their own racism would ultimately culminate in the Civil War, which would result in more deaths (1 million) than all other US wars combined.

Bracey also blames racist attitudes for the absence of public education in the South until after the Civil War. It would be black Reconstruction governments that established free public education in the South – for all children (black and white). They would also establish the first state universities in Georgia and Mississippi.”

Ironically it was African Americans who founded Ole Miss (University of Mississippi), though they were later excluded when the Ku Klux Kan violently overthrew the southern Reconstruction governments.

It was also black women who organized the southern textile mills and not Norma Ray, as portrayed in the popular film starring Sally Fields.

Continuing racism forces white people to sacrifice education, health, housing and social service programs to cover the phenomenal cost of mass incarceration (of mainly black and Hispanic Americans. At an annual cost of $40,000 per inmate, the cost of incarcerating 2.4 million Americans adds up to $960 billion annually.

The presentation starts at 7 min.

 

stuartbramhall:

 

 

New study shows growing concern among Republican voters over climate change. Extreme weather events are hitting moderate Republicans in the pocketbook – where it hurts.

Originally posted on thekirkshow:

Energy prices may be plummeting, but oil, gas, and coal companies are seeing a dramatic return on investment in one sector: the US Congress. The fossil fuel industry spent $721 million on the 2014 midterm elections. And now the GOP majority has vowed to make life easier for polluters by gutting long-standing protections for clean air and water and blocking measures the fight climate change.

Last week, for instance, House Republicans voted to fast-track the Keystone XL pipeline for dirty tar sands oil. Representatives who supported the Keystone XL bill received over 8.5 times more oil and gas money in 2014 than those who voted against it. Now the action moves to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell raked in $608,000 from oil, gas, and coal companies in 2014.

These fossil-fuel favors may please donors, but new research shows that lawmakers risk painting themselves into a corner with Republican…

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plenitude

Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth

by Juliet Schor

Penguin Press (2010)

Book Review

The main premise of Plenitude is that neoclassical or free market economic theory falls short in addressing the global economic crisis because it fails to account for the negative ecological impacts (aka externalities*) of markets. The author Juliet Schor proposes a new economic model which addresses both environmental impacts and inequality.

Schor’s new “plenitude” model builds from ideas on downshifting and simplified living she introduced in her 1998 book The Overspent American. It’s based on four main principles.

The first involves a new allocation of time away from the market economy and a reduced reliance on money to meet individual needs. By Oct 2009, eight million jobs had disappeared in the US alone. There’s no way these jobs will ever be restored. However by reducing their hours of work (either voluntarily or involuntarily), people can make a conscious trade-off of money for time. With more time, households can increase their social networks and supports and find new ways (other than money) of procuring consumption goods.

The second principle involves diversifying away from the traditional economy by “self-provisioning,” growing and making things for ourselves instead of paying other people to do it. Schor sees distributed production facilitated by 3D printing** as a big part of this process.

The third principle is what Schor calls “true materialism,” an environmentally aware approach to consumption in which people are more aware of the ecological impact of their purchases. Rather than sacrificing a comfortable lifestyle, this might mean paying more for better quality clothes, shoes and consumer goods.

The fourth principle is restoring our investment in one another and our communities. Especially in times of crisis, these connections, sometimes referred to as social capital, are every bit as important as money or material goods.

Government Interventions Required

Despite numerous examples Schor gives of individuals, groups and cities that have already transitioned to the new model she proposes, new government policies will be essential to ensure the planet reduces its carbon footprint in time to avert ecological catastrophe.

Unlike French economist Thomas Piketty, author of the bestseller Capital in the 21st Century, she specifically opposes after-the-fact taxation to redistribute market income. She rightly points out that it fails to increase new wealth. Instead she would support a proposal put forward by Peter Barnes to set up a Sky Trust similar to the Alaska Permanent Fund. The Sky Trust would tax corporations on the carbon dioxide emissions (and possibly their destruction of habitat and discharge of toxic chemicals) and return the revenue earned as a dividend to citizens.

Secondly she calls for the adoption of social program (single payer health care, support for child care and tertiary education and reliable pensions) common in other industrial countries. She cites studies the common misperception that Americas work the longest hours in the world to acquire more consumer goods. The real reason they stick with jobs with impossible long hours and stress is because that’s the only way they can pay for health care, child care, college and a secure retirement.

Third she calls for a change in intellectual property laws to facilitate sharing new techniques and technologies) permaculture, agroforestry, biodynamic farming, cob, earthen and strawbale home construction, alternative technology, renewable energy systems) that enable more efficient use of resources.

Fourth she sees an essential government role in cleaning up toxic waterways and brownfields and restoring forests, which are also fundamental steps in restoring true wealth and reducing inequality.

Finally she would call on government to abandon their growth at all cost policies. She blames the financialization of the US economy for the pressure for constant growth. Although the sale of financial products produces no new wealth, it requires a continuous increase in economic growth to pay shareholders and bondholders.

Reigning in the Financial Sector

The main weakness of Plenitude is Schor’s failure to propose specific policies to reign in an out-of-control financial sector. In European parliaments, the main policies being explored include ending the ability of banks to create and control the money supply (restoring this function to government)*** and a financial transaction tax.****


*In economics, an externality is a consequence of an industrial or commercial activity which affects other parties without this being reflected in market prices, such as rainforest destruction.
** 3-D printing is a manufacturing process that builds layers to create a three-dimensional solid object from a computer model. Video of houses being printed in China:

***See The IMF Proposal to Ban Banks from Issuing Money
**** A financial transaction tax is a levy placed on financial institution for specific types of monetary transactions.

stuartbramhall:

 

 

All the following information is in the public domain – available in every public library.

Originally posted on THE ONENESS of HUMANITY:

Posted on January 18, 2015

by Jerry Alatalo

Book11How many people are aware that in 1999 an actual, official civil trial on Martin Luther King’s (MLK) murder took place? Is that 1999 trial of 30 days and 70 witnesses – where the jury delivered their conclusion that the man accused of the murder, James Earl Ray (deceased by 1999), was not guilty, but that Loyd Jouwers, owner of the grill across from the Lorraine Motel where MLK’s life was ended, and elements of the Memphis Police Department and United States military were behind the assassination – recorded in America’s history books?

The answer to the first question is probably not many, although every man, woman and child should be. The answer to the second question is probably no; the history books America’s schoolchildren read omit the 1999 MLK Assassination civil trial. That the trial, a truly historic event, and the findings and jury decision, are yet relatively…

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