Climate Crises victims

Here are some of the many victims of Global Warming. Those who deny Global Warming are killing these people.

Raj Patel: Mozambique’s Food Riots Are the True Face of Global Warming

Thirteen people died and hundreds were wounded last week in the African nation of Mozambique when police cracked down on a three-day protest over a 30 percent hike in the price of bread. The UN says the riots in Mozambique should be a wake-up call for governments that have ignored food security problems since the global food crisis of 2008, when countries around the world saw angry protests in the streets over the rising prices of basic food items. We speak with author and activist Raj Patel. [includes rush transcript]

Climate Crises victims

Scientific American News Site/Blog

There have been quite a few good news postings on the Scientific American website recently, especially on environmental issues, and where policy and Science intersect. Here are two:

May 30, 2008
Which U.S. Cities Contribute Most to Global Warming?
New study ranks U.S. metropolitan areas based on their climate change-causing pollution
By David Biello

If you care about reducing your emissions of greenhouse gases, then you might want to move to Honolulu, Los Angeles or Portland, Ore., according to a new study from The Brookings Institution. These three metropolises boast, respectively, the lowest three per capita levels of world warming pollution (read: carbon dioxide) in the nation’s top 100 metro areas.

“Large metropolitan areas give their inhabitants smaller carbon footprints,” says energy policy expert Marilyn Brown of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta (ranked 67th), lead author of the study. “Footprints are the smallest in areas with high density and good rail transit.”

The report authors say the goal of the study is to show cities how to reduce emissions by taking a page from those already keeping a lid on them. The research also demonstrates that city dwellers in general are faring better than their country (or suburban) cousins, because of mass transit and densely packed populations in smaller areas.

And the link to the Brookings Institute paper mentioned in the article.

And’s here’s a story about the stormy weather ahead (again):

May 30, 2008
Stormy Weather: Weather Service Predicts Active Hurricane Season
Forecasters call for more than 11 tropical cyclones

The U.S. National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center forecasts six to nine hurricanes—including as many as five major hurricanes with wind speeds above 111 miles (179 kilometers) per hour—this six-month season in the Atlantic, which officially begins on Sunday and ends November 30. Independent experts at Colorado State University in Fort Collins foresee much the same, making this a more active year than most for tropical cyclones in the Atlantic and Caribbean.
The total prediction calls for as many as 16 “named” storms, those whose winds reach more than 74 miles (119 kilometers) per hour. If one is born in the Atlantic Ocean or east of the international date line in the Pacific, it is called a hurricane; in the northwest Pacific, a typhoon; in the southwest Pacific and southeastern Indian oceans, such a storm is dubbed a severe tropical cyclone; in the north Indian, a severe cyclonic storm; and in the southwest Indian, a tropical cyclone. By any name, one of these storms can carry as much energy as 10,000 nuclear bombs—making them nature’s most destructive meteorologic phenomenon.

Scientific American News Site/Blog

Peter Raven lecture

Heard Peter Raven lecture just last Friday, and it was excellent. Can’t find too much of his stuff online though, but here’s one link.

He was asked about ethanol by e_f to which he simply said “It is a terrible idea.” Finally, someone in Saint Louis, heart of the corn belt, saying the truth about ethanol.

But I was able to get the question in, and he answered at some length, referring to the food riots that are presently occurring all over the world.

Why don’t we have people like Peter Raven in positions where they can influence public policy more? It might have something to do with: the deliberately confused picture painted by the media, don’tcha think? A prime example can be found right over at Reason magazine’s website.

I find it interesting that ethanol was pushed like crazy by a few big corporations, but now that it is clear that ethanol is really, really bad for the environment there is a lot of revisionism going on. And that’s what the piece from Reason magazine “The Biofuel Brew ha-ha: How the greens are making it more expensive to get blotto” is: revisionism.

Apparently, now that ethanol has been outed and found to be just a little greener than open pit coal mining, the libertarian party line is: Let’s blame the greens!

Continue reading “Peter Raven lecture”

Peter Raven lecture

Can you find the bulldozer in this picture?

One of the panaceas that you typically hear about Peak Oil, is that we can just start converting coal to fuel.  While it is true that that is technically possible, that is a very energy intensive process itself.  Also, those who say this usually don’t have a clear picture of how damaging coal mining is to the environment.

Well, as found over at Peak Energy, here’s something that should give a very clear picture of how devastating open pit mining is:

What you are seeing is a very small part of the machine used for open pit mining swallowing a bulldozer. (The bulldover is the little yellow thing near the top of the wheel.)  Take a look at more pictures, which show that the wheel is just a small piece of the entire machine here.

Can you find the bulldozer in this picture?

Systemic Risk (Food Crisis Edition)**Updated**

The food crises is getting worse, and it could even happen that Amartya Sen’s observation that there has never been a famine in a country that had both a free press and a functioning multi-party democracy will appear to break down.

This is because the world economy exists in many places outside of either a multi-party democracy or a functioning free press, and those islands of functioning democracies with a free press may be cast about by forces that are outside of their control. These food riots have, for example, received very little press coverage in the USA. So perhaps Sen’s observation is still correct, it’s just that due to globalization it operates at a different scale. The world needs a functioning free press.

**Well, the press does seem to be taking note of the deepening crises, and I’ve added link to a CNN article that is typical of the coverage. The points are being made that this is a world wide phenomena, and that ethanol production, if not a culprit in the present round of food riots, will make the future food outlook even more grim. It should be obvious that ethanol production, to the extent it raises prices for food is deeply immoral. Furthermore, it is extremely stupid, as it gives those who are suffering, seeing their children dieing each day for want of food, a focal point for their hatred of the first world. **

Two things to be done by those who care:

  1. Derail ethanol production, which has unnecessarily linked the food economy to the oil economy; and
  2. Eat much less meat, which requires massive amounts of grain to produce equivalent amount of food protein. Beef is by far the worst offender, requiring much more grain to produce a pound of beef than a pound of chicken.

These are so extremely easy to do, but with the press shirking its basic responsibility to inform the public, can they alone be blamed for the moral failure of the West to address this crises? The press is clearly not doing its job here.

Here are the gory details:

Continue reading “Systemic Risk (Food Crisis Edition)**Updated**”

Systemic Risk (Food Crisis Edition)**Updated**

What we can do about Tibet, your closet clutter, your unemployed neighbor, and Global Warming

Certainly, the situation described in Anne Applebaum’s recent article in the Washington Post rings true, but what can we do, here sitting in America, to effect change in Tibet?

Yes, we can protest in front of the Chinese embassy, and we should do that. But what if you don’t happen to live in DC?

We can do a lot to help Tibet. China depends on it’s trade with the United States, and Walmart is a the primary vehicle that trade with China uses to get to USA.

From a report at EPI:

Last year, the retail giant Wal-Mart imported $26.7 billion of Chinese goods into the United States. The cost of those goods to Americans went far beyond the sticker prices, however. Wal-Mart’s reliance on Chinese goods cost the United States over 308,000 jobs in 2006 – or about 77 jobs for every Wal-Mart store in the United States.

Wal-Mart was responsible for 9.3 percent of. U.S. China imports…

So a very simple action–boycotting Walmart–would quickly turn into an issue inside China. Just don’t buy all those Chinese bicycles/DVD’s etc, etc. Pretty soon Walmart will stop buying from China. China needs markets more than they need an empire. (Just ask Russia about that.)

It would be easy–all that the US public has to do is decide to confront wrongdoing, by not buying stuff from Walmart. It would also be good to do without so much stuff, that we really don’t need, do we? It would do something good for the planet, too.

Just do it.

(note: some edits, including link to EPI study were added 30 March 2008)

What we can do about Tibet, your closet clutter, your unemployed neighbor, and Global Warming

Thinking legally, about Science

An interesting paper, by Jonathan Remy Nash, which hypothesizes that the precautionary principle may have legal standing, based on current case law. Not at all an insignificant issue, considering the refusal of the present US administration to give adequate credence to environmental concerns, and that many environmental issues will therefore be tried in the courts. Recent Scientific evidence, however, has established that human-generated Global Warming is having a detrimental effect on the climate, so the precautionary principle hardly has to be invoked for that issue. There also may be applicability to nano-technology and genetic engineering developments, once the risks of those technologies are more fully understood.

Presumably, though the lack of concern about the environment will be a short state of affairs, until the next administration. More than 2 out 3 Americans believe GWB isn’t doing enough to address Global Warming, so almost certainly the next administration will be more responsive on this issue. (See “Americans Chide Bush on Climate Change Efforts” August 08, 2007 – Angus Reid Global Monitor for more)

But what if it isn’t? We may be back to relying on the courts…

One item I noticed on the abstract, and I question: “Its application would be limited, and could further be limited to cases brought by a sovereign.” Why limit it thus? By sovereign, presumably it is meant state, as the case mention is Massachusetts v. EPA? I’m not sure, and it appears a subscription is required to get at the paper itself, so I can’t really read it and find out.  Too bad, and all the more reason to make such papers available.

One of the things I like very much about this, (at least as it is expressed in the abstract) is that the linkage between science and the law is seen as a two way street: .”importation and application of the precautionary principle to questions of standing will provide a logical and stable setting in which the precautionary principle might develop and flourish.” Further more, the application of this principle is seen as guiding future evolution of case law: “precautionary-based standing would be available to address future environmental crises where scientific understanding that the threat is real may lag.”

Seems like really cutting edge cross-disciplinary and systems-based thinking.

Hat Tip: University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog

Continue reading “Thinking legally, about Science”

Thinking legally, about Science