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Well, Kids, It's Last Call.

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It's reached the point where it's hard work to ignore our perilous reality.  But our political leaders, bless their hearts, shun it as a vampire does the noonday sun. Jason "Dead Man Walking" Kenney went to Washington to pitch the beauty of Athabasca bitumen. Justin Trudeau, the national begging bowl in hand, is again (still) scouring the private sector for some outfit to take his personal national disaster, the Trans Mountain pipeline, off the federal books in a Potemkin village sort of way. What timing! The World Meteorological Organization just released its State of the Global Climate, 2021 .  For the humble laity it begins with an interactive look at the atmosphere, developments on land, changes in our oceans, the cryosphere (the cold bits), extreme events, risks and impacts and what we can do to preserve life on Earth. Some years ago I put together a list of the calamities facing mankind. The list included everything from the manifestations of global warming and

That Other Contagion - Agent Orange

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  I came across an article in The Atlantic about a highly infectious virus that has crossed the Pacific from the US to reach the writer's home, Australia. It has also reached Canada. This virus attacks the body, the body politic, democracy itself. In late 2021, as Australian cities were seeing anti-lockdown and anti-vaxxer protests against the country’s long-running pandemic restrictions and newly implemented vaccine mandates, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted “Don’t Australia my America.” As someone who has recently moved back to Sydney after covering the Trump presidency for the BBC, I have instead found myself thinking the opposite: Don’t America my Australia. The American variant of democracy is contaminating the body politic of my home. My family left the United States partly to escape its politics, so it was jolting to watch Trump banners that I was more used to seeing in Mississippi and rural Michigan being brandished on the streets of Melbourne. But the Trump paraphernalia, and cr

Monbiot - the Fly in the Ointment

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  When it co mes to averting climate catastrophe there are many perilous challenges but one stands head and shoulders above the rest - the very people we elect to high office.  George Monbiot writes they're selling us and especially our young down the river. In seeking to prevent environmental breakdown, what counts above all is not the new things we do, but the old things we stop doing. Renewable power, for instance, is useful in preventing climate chaos only to the extent that it displaces fossil fuels. Unfortunately, new technologies do not always lead automatically to the destruction of old ones. Fossil fuel companies need spend just a fraction of their income on lobbying – funding politicians and their parties, buying the services of thinktanks and public relations agencies, using advertising to greenwash their credentials – to impede the energy transition and defend their investments. Fossil fuels will become  stranded assets  only when governments insist that they be left i

Betting Against Humanity

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  Whether you like it or not, they have you firmly in their crosshairs .  "They" are the fossil energy giants and they're planning to unleash " scores of 'carbon bomb' oil and gas projects that would drive the climate past internationally agreed temperature limits with catastrophic global impacts ." ...data shows these firms are in effect placing multibillion-dollar bets against humanity halting global heating. Their huge investments in new fossil fuel production could pay off only if countries fail to rapidly slash carbon emissions, which scientists say is vital. The lure of colossal payouts in the years to come appears to be irresistible to the oil companies, despite the  world’s climate scientists stating  in February that further delay in cutting fossil fuel use would mean missing our last chance “to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all”. Experts have been warning since  at least 2011  that  most of the world’s fossil fuel reserves could

Is the Ocean Losing Its Memory?

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A new report claims our oceans are losing their memory , something that may impair our ability to predict climate extremes and our ability to manage fisheries. The study is tough slogging but there's a decent summary here . The oceans that surround us are transforming. As our climate changes, the world's waters are shifting too, with abnormalities evident not only in the ocean's temperature , but also its structure , currents , and even its color . As these changes manifest, the usually stable environment of the ocean is becoming more unpredictable and erratic, and in some ways the phenomenon is akin to the ocean losing its memory, scientists suggest. "Ocean memory, the persistence of ocean conditions, is a major source of predictability in the climate system beyond weather time scales," researchers explain in a new paper led by first author and climate researcher Hui Shi from the Farallon Institute in Petaluma, California. "We show that ocean memory, as mea

Monbiot - The Earth Beneath Our Feet

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  Forget flat screen TVs and broken supply chains. How secure is the global food supply? Hint: it's not secure, not at all. If you haven't got enough to eat, biblical floods and drought and searing heat may not be your worst problems. Remember the Arab Spring a few years ago? That wasn't just about a yearning for democracy. Food shortages, soaring costs of flour and hunger were a huge factor. The House of Saud, fearing for their own future, implemented a six month supply of essential foodstuffs at no charge to the population.  In Syria, Assad favoured his own tribe, the Allowites, and left the majority Sunni population to their fate. Civil war ensued. Just two weeks ago the United Nations issued a warning that intensive, industrial agriculture was degrading global farmland at an increasing rate. Some 40 per cent of arable land is now significantly degraded resulting in steadily declining crop yields. It's unsustainable. Something has to give. Guardian enviro-scribe, Ge

Gwynne Dyer's Money Is On Ukraine

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  It's been a challenge to make much sense out of Putin's illegal war on Ukraine.  After stunning successes by the Ukrainians against the invading Russian forces, Putin pulled back, appointed a new commander, and went after the eastern part of Ukraine. This time the Russkies appear to have the upper hand.  The way Gwynne Dyer sees it, Russia won't succeed but the danger lies in what happens after Putin's forces are defeated . Two months ago, when Russian tanks first rolled into Ukraine, every message from Washington or NATO about the invasion included a prominent passage saying what the western alliance wouldn’t do. It would not send NATO troops to help Ukraine. It would give Ukraine “defensive” weapons, not “offensive” ones, e.g., anti-tank missiles, not tanks. It would, in other words, let Ukraine lose, but only slowly. And under no circumstances would it cause Russia to fear it might face NATO military action. How things have changed! In the last two weeks the U.S. h

Lake Mead Gives Up Her Dead

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Lake Mead, the source of freshwater for some 25 million Americans, is at levels as low as it has been since the construction of the Hoover Dam. How low? Low enough that authorities have recovered a body in a barrel believed to have been dumped in the lake around 1980. When the corpse was disposed of it was in deep water. Now it's at today's water line. Investigators believe the body to be that of a homicide victim from the 1980s, based on the items recovered from the barrel. More to come? Las Vegas police homicide lieutenant, Ray Spencer, says you can bet on it. "The lake has drained dramatically over the last 15 years," Spencer said, noting that "it's likely that we will find additional bodies that have been dumped in Lake Mead" as the water level drops more.

Roe v. Wade Overturned?

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  Claiming to have received a leaked copy of the majority decision of the US Supreme Court, Politico is reporting that the court will strike down the landmark decision on women's reproductive rights, Roe v. Wade . In the draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., a majority of the court voted to overturn Roe, according to Politico . Justice Alito called it wrongly decided and said the contentious issue, which has animated political debates in the United States for more than a generation, should be decided by politicians, not the courts. “We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Justice Alito writes in the document, labeled the “Opinion of the Court,” referring to a second decision that reaffirmed Roe. “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” If abortion rights are no longer constitutionally protected, the issue will fall to state control.  The Politico report said the justices voting to support

The Seas Are Becoming Saltier.

  One impact of the climate emergency is our broken hydrologic cycle. The oceans are warming, sea ice is in decline and the waters are becoming ever more acidic. Warming oceans are also turning hypoxic. New research finds we may be facing the most  cataclysmic extinction of sea life in 250 million years. Ocean currents, particularly the Atlantic Conveyor responsible for moderating climate in Europe and eastern North America, are weakening.  Another study finds that our warming oceans are increasing ocean salinity while, at the same time, turning fresh water fresher due to increased precipitation. Climate change is throwing Earth's water cycle severely out of whack. According to new satellite data, freshwaters are growing fresher and salt waters are growing saltier at an increasingly rapid rate all around the world. If this pattern continues, it will turbocharge rainstorms. The findings indicate a severe acceleration of the global water cycle – a sign that isn't as clearly ob

There's Your Problem

Global weirding, the climate emergency, is picking up so much steam it's become a challenge to keep up with it. As climate change worsens it seems we're resigned to steadily falling behind on both mitigation (cutting emissions) and adaptation. As the years fly past the risks become greater and more intractible as our ability to rise to the challenges wanes. Author Kent Shifferd writes that all is not lost if we're willing to go on a multi-generational campaign to right our own wrongs. We need to go on a war footing, a war against ourselves. Let’s face it, we are losing and will lose many battles in this struggle, just as the British lost at the beginning of World War II. They could not see the road ahead, the road to victory, but they fought on anyway because defeat was not an alternative. Nor is it for us. Gradually they began winning some battles at great cost while still losing some, and then winning more than they lost, and then after great sacrifice, the war was won.

40% and Rising

A United Nations study finds that 40 per cent of the world's arable farmland is now degraded . This undermines food security for the planet's burgeoning population now closing in on eight billion. The main culprit is industrial agriculture. The world’s ability to feed a growing population is being put at risk by the rising damage, most of which is caused by food production. Women in the developing world are particularly badly affected as they often lack legal titles to land and can be thrown off it if conditions are tough. Degraded land – which has been depleted of natural resources, soil fertility, water, biodiversity, trees or native vegetation – is found all over our planet. Many people think of degraded land as arid desert, rainforests maimed by loggers or areas covered in urban sprawl, but it also includes apparently “green” areas that are intensely farmed or stripped of natural vegetation . Growing food on degraded land becomes progressively harder as soils rapidly reac

No Surprises There. Trudeau Government Won't Even Meet Its Own Tepid Climate Targets.

It's a failing grade for the Liberal government's meagre climate policies. There's another solemn promise you can kiss goodbye. The Trudeau government came to power just weeks before the Paris climate summit at which the world reached an agreement that global warming must not be allowed to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius.  With a hearty "Canada's back" from the prime minister it looked like our nation would no longer be a climate pariah. Yeah, right. So how do we stack up?  Among the G7 countries, Canada comes dead last with the worst emissions record of the lot. And that's after Ottawa's sleight of hand accounting that rejects any responsibility for emissions from exports of high carbon, low value fossil fuels. We turn a deaf ear to repeated warnings that these really dirty, climate killing fossil fuels, coal and bitumen, must be left in the ground. Instead Mr. Trudeau responds by building a new, high capacity pipeline that the private sector won't tou

I'm not ignoring you

  I try to respond to comments left on my blog.  Now, when I try, I'm told that I must first sign in to my Google account. I go to Google and it recognizes me and my account but there's no sign-in. Until I get this sorted out please carry on the conversation without me. I will be reading your comments. Hope to be back soon. MoS

How Did We Slide So Far, So Fast?

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Around the world, liberal democracy is in an existential struggle with fast-spreading neo-authoritarian rule. Think Donald Trump and Rick DeSantis. Think Viktor Orban, Poland's Andrzej Duda, Marie le Pen. Think Narindra Modi and Recep Erdogan. Think of nations where freedom is in retreat, places like Thailand and Burma. Closer to home, think of Poilievre, Kenney, Moe and their profit, Stephen Harper. Paul Krugman tries to make sense of what's happening in his homeland. How did the self-styled "arsenal of democracy" become the arsehole of democracy? Krugman dissects the madness of Florida where math texts are banned for perceived traces of critical race theory or the state turns on one of its great revenue generators, Disney. What’s happening in Florida makes sense once you realize that what Gov. Ron DeSantis and his allies are up to has nothing to do with policy or even politics in the conventional sense. What we’re seeing instead are symptoms of the transformation o