Editor’s Note: In 2015, a study developed nine indicators for planetary health, and corresponding nine threshold or boundaries. According to a recent study based on the same framework, six of the nine boundaries have already been crossed, while the other three are in the process of being crossed. This should come as a surprise to very few. The interesting fact about this new framework is that climate change is only one of the nine indicators in the new model, which is unlike in the mainstream environmental movement belief. This framework gives a much more holistic picture of the current ecological crisis than is common among the wider culture.
Scientists behind a new study on the crossing of the Earth’s “planetary boundaries” on Wednesday likened the planet to a sick patient, warning that six out of nine barriers that ensure the Earth is a “safe operating space for humanity” have now been breached.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and other international institutions analyzed 2,000 studies to update a planetary boundary framework developed in 2009 by the Stockholm Resilience Center, completing the first “complete check-up of all nine processes and systems that determine the stability and resilience of the planet.”
The boundaries for climate change and land use have been broken for decades as extractive industries have razed forests and planet-heating fossil fuel emissions have significantly increased since preindustrial times.
The “novel entities” boundary—pertaining to the accumulation of synthetic pollution from substances such as microplastics, pesticides, and nuclear waste—was quantified for the first time in the study, which was published in Science Advances.
Freshwater change—both “green” freshwater in soil and vegetation and “blue” freshwater in bodies of water—has also been breached, along with biogeochemical flows, or the flow of nitrogen and phosphorus into the environment, which can create ocean dead zones and algal blooms.
“We don’t know how long we can keep breaching these key boundaries before combined pressures lead to irreversible change and harm.”
The study marked the first time researchers quantified a control variable for the “biosphere integrity” boundary, which they found was breached long before the framework was introduced—in the late 19th century as the Industrial Revolution and other factors accelerated the destruction of the natural world.
Co-author Wolfgang Lucht called biosphere integrity “the second pillar of stability for our planet” next to climate change, and warned the pillar is being destabilized by humans “taking out too much biomass, destroying too much habitat, deforesting too much land. Our research shows that mitigating global warming and saving a functional biosphere for the future should go hand in hand.”
“This update on planetary boundaries clearly depicts a patient that is unwell, as pressure on the planet increases and vital boundaries are being transgressed,” said Johan Rockström, director of PIK. “We don’t know how long we can keep breaching these key boundaries before combined pressures lead to irreversible change and harm.”
The boundaries for atmospheric aerosol loading, or air pollution, and ocean acidification, are both close to being crossed, while the atmospheric ozone boundary is currently well below the “zone of increasing risk,” due to global initiatives within the Montreal Protocol, adopted in 1987.
The fact that the boundary for ozone depletion was once “headed for increasing regional transgressions” and slowly recovered, said co-author Katherine Richardson of the University of Copenhagen, shows that it is possible to bring the planet back from the boundaries that it’s close to crossing or that have been breached to a lesser degree, such as freshwater change.
“We can think of Earth as a human body, and the planetary boundaries as blood pressure,” said Richardson. “Over 120/80 does not indicate a certain heart attack but it does raise the risk and, therefore, we work to reduce blood pressure.”
The boundaries that have reached the highest risk level are biosphere integrity, climate change, novel entities, and biogeochemical flows.
The update to the framework “may serve as a renewed wake-up call to humankind that Earth is in danger of leaving its Holocene-like state,” reads the study, referring to relatively stable state the planet was in between the end of the last ice age—10,000 years ago—until the start of the Industrial Revolution.
The study, said global grassroots climate action campaign Extinction Rebellion, offered the latest evidence that policymakers must do everything in their power to “just stop oil”—ending approval for fossil fuel projects, subsidies for oil and gas companies, and policies that slow down a transition to renewable energy.
“We are not separate from the Earth,” said the group. “We ignore these warnings at our peril.”
Event alert: Planet Local Summit
Local futures is organizing its biggest and boldest event ever – the Planet Local Summit – which is set to begin this Friday! We are excited and honoured to welcome participants from 50 countries (and counting) to our livestream, along with our in-person audience in Bristol, UK.
If you haven’t already registered, there’s still time to book your attendance online and join like-minded localization community representatives from every corner of the earth.
In Bristol, the excitement is building, with a huge mural celebrating the Planet Local Summit unveiled in the city last week. Created by iconic local artists Silent Hobo and Inkie, the colorful 600 ft mural (pictured above) has been unveiled at the Tobacco Factory – Bristol’s biggest and most famous street art wall.
Local groups have also organized 10 pre-summit events to highlight the best of Bristol, including farm open days, community dialogues, and food tours.
The following is a press release by Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) about a protest action against seabed quarrying in Manila Bay. DGR Asia Pacific is also a collaborator of the protest.
Alyansa Tigil Mina together with Deep Green Resistance and Local Autonomous Network trooped to the Senate during the joint hearing on seabed quarrying today for a peaceful protest action dubbed “Food Not Quarry” as they asked the Senate to urge President Bongbong Marcos, Jr. to issue an Executive Order suspending all Manila Bay reclamation projects.
ATM submitted its Position Paper on Seabed Quarrying during the joint hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change and the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement.
“ATM respectfully calls on the distinguished members of the Philippine Senate to urge President Marcos Jr. to issue an executive order formalizing his August 9 announcement that reclamation projects in Manila Bay are suspended,” said the group in their position paper.
“Despite President Marcos’ announcement suspending the Manila Bay reclamation projects, we still observe an increase in sand mining, river dredging and seabed quarrying in Cagayan, Zambales, Bataan, and Cavite. These activities appear to provide filling materials for Manila Bay reclamation projects,” said Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator.
ATM’s position paper further notes that interviews with Cavite fishing communities revealed: the absence or lack of consultations before seabed quarrying activities were permitted; frequent incidents of dredging ships damaging fishing nets; and, sharp decline in fish catch since the dredging started.
The group called for the inclusion of people’s organizations, coastal communities, and civil society groups in the on-going cumulative assessment by the DENR.
“We also call on the Senate to hold accountable concerned government officials and private actors for the environmental damage and human rights violations caused by the seabed quarrying projects,” Garganera said.
“We likewise demand the rehabilitation of marine resources and compensation of coastal families whose rights and livelihood were adversely affected.”
Outside the Senate building, the protestors demanded the “eventual halt or cancellation of seabed quarrying projects that destroy fishing grounds and municipal waters, and bring about hunger and poverty to nearby communities.”
“Our direct action aims to surface the discontent surrounding seabed quarrying in San Nicholas Shoal Cavite as well as other areas.
We would also like to bring attention to the need for sustainable projects that ensure food security, especially in the midst of the climate crisis,” said Garganera.
Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano resurfaced
Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano (two activists abducted on September 2) have resurfaced. There are two versions of what happened to them.
In the official version (published September 16), the governmental law enforcement agencies claim that the two women were not abducted but left on their free will. They also claimed that they wanted to leave the group against Manila Bay Reclamation Project but were afraid to do so. As a result they fled from their homes and surrendered to the military. This news story highlights the official statement of the story.
The military presented the two women in a press conference on September 20. The aim of the press conference was to “debunk the abduction propaganda.” The two women were supposed to support the official version of the event. However, when Castro took the floor, she boldly claimed that she was abducted and forced to sign affidavit in military camps. Tamano supported Castro’s claim, after which the press conference was halted abruptly. Thankfully, the women were released hours after the conference in the presence of their families and human rights activists. A report of the press conference can be found here.
As a movement becomes more effective, the repression against it becomes stronger. The powerful will do anything in their power to destroy the movement. DGR commends the bravery of Castro and Tamano, for maintaining their courage and commitment to the natural world despite the hardships.
DGR is now selling a campaign shirt to support the operation cost of our ongoing campaign in the Philippines. We strongly opposed the Seabed Quarrying in San Nicolas Shoal in Cavite and Manila Bay Reclamation Projects which cause a wide ecological marine destruction and kill the livelihood of thousands of small fisherfolks around Manila Bay.
For every shirt that you purchase, DGR Asia Pacific will get P200 pesos that we will use in our activity and actions about Seabed Quarrying and Reclamations.
Ogden: A Tale for the End of Time by Ben G. Price [Editor’s Pick]
It is rare to read something written from a nonhuman perspective without forcing humanlike qualities on them. Ben Price does exactly that in “Ogden: A Tale for the End of Time.” The shift from human’s to troll’s to bear’s to deer’s perspectives seems authentic and genuine. This reflects the author’s own values: of the author being able to view the nonhumans with respect and see the nuances and complexities of their lives, without attributing humanlike qualities to them. It quite fits the author’s profile as well. Ben Price is a pioneer of the Rights of Nature movement – a movement for legal recognition of the rights of natural entities to survive and thrive, a movement that is not possible with a human supremacist attitude.
The lively forests of Huth and Tibbs
Ogden is a magical coming of age story about a troll who is raised by a human family in a society where men secretly meet to plan the genocide of trolls. Unfamiliar with all of this, the family takes care of the troll and attempts to teach him to become more “civilized”, or more man-like. The book is full of multiple themes, reflecting the unfortunate realities of our society – from patriarchy to class division to human supremacy to racism. It has something for all of us who critique one or more aspects of human society. In this review I’ll explore some of these in the context of the different settings presented throughout the novel.
From Drowden Erebus’ bucolic Hapstead Manor to the wild and lively forests of Huth and Tibbs (Ogden’s troll parents) to the un-lively walled town of Irongate to the slum-like settlement of Doltun and Petula, Ben Price jumps from one setting to another without creating an unsettling feeling among the readers. The four settings describe a contrast of social structure, in terms of class divide, racism, human supremacism, patriarchy, colonialism, a contrast that is not just apparent, but, sadly, too familiar to the readers. Taking a different perspective, these four settings are not just four different social structures but a metaphor to different historical times: the wild forests represent the past where we (all creatures including humans) came from; Hapstead Manor the sedentary lifestyle based on agriculture; Irongate as the industrialized cities, ones that the agriculturalists covet; the slums the inevitable byproducts of the cities.
Price puts our modern society in contrast to egalitarian societies
The societal structure inhabited by trolls, like Huth and Tibbs, is based on respect, not only for nature and natural elements, but for fellow conspecifics, for the females of their species and for other species. For one attuned to it, symbols of matriarchy are apparent in Huth and Tibbs’ cave: ancestor worship and Goddess figurines. Consistent with our most reliable knowledge of matriarchal societies, the trolls are also the most egalitarian of the different characters we see.
While the Hapstead Manor is owned by a kind, loving man who treats his women and children and workers well, it is still “owned” by the man of the house. Ultimately, his words are the last, even though Ben Price describes some instances where the wisdom of Drowden’s worker Argis, cook Odelia, wife Dorina or daughter Miranda prove to be superior to Drowden’s judgment. In other words, they have a significant place in the plot.
The same cannot be said for Irongate. Irongate is ruled, apparently and latently, by a group of belligerent entitled men whose sole purpose in life seems to be to increase their wealth and ultimately their power and to protect their supremacy. They are ready to use any means to do so, including silencing, raping or murdering those who don’t comply. That they rationalize their actions with absurd reasoning can be pitied, but not justified.
Finally, the slum-like settlement (Bladicville) where the outcasts live is an inseparable part of the walled town of Irongate. Cities are designed in a way where the land does not support the population, thus the need to import food from villages. At the same time, cities also require jobs risky enough or “low” enough that the residents do not deign to perform, thus a need for a “lower” group of people to do those jobs. That’s how poor quarters or slums are required in a city. This is where the “lower” group of people find their residence. Poverty is not the only thing that classifies them as inferior.
Humans are enslaving trolls
As Americans should know from their own history, in order for slavery to be justified, the slave owners and traders first needed to believe Blacks to be inferior to Whites. Similarly in “Ogden”, there needs to be created a classification where one group of people is considered inferior to the other. This is implied in the historical background of Ogden with the slavery of trolls by humans. Even though the slavery had ended, the hierarchy thus created, of trolls being an inferior group, was still intact. Slum dwellers like Doltun and Petula were ostracized not just because of their poverty, but because they were half trolls and half humans – a group considered inferior based on their genetic association with trolls.
The book resonates with anyone who grieves over the loss of natural world. I would highly recommend it to our readers.
Editor’s Note; The fossil fuel industry is largely responsible for the climate crisis we are in today. The following article highlights the current state of the climate crisis.
While we believe that the fossil fuel industry needs to be stopped, DGR does not believe that “green” energy is going to save the planet. We believe that the green energy industry is just an extension of the ‘traditional” energy industry, running with the same disregard for the natural world.
This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.
You may remember the 2004 disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow, in which large parts of Europe and the American East Coast suddenly freeze up?
The plot device is that the Great Conveyor Belt—also known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)—which brings heat from the south Pacific around the southern tip of Africa and up the east coast of the Americas (we call it the Gulf Stream) into the North Atlantic and Europe shuts down.
The AMOC and the heat it brings to the North Atlantic ocean is the main reason why London (at the same latitude as Calgary) has a relatively temperate climate year-round, instead of being snowbound six months out of the year.
It’s why Europe can grow enough food to feed its 740+ million people; if the AMOC was to stop transporting all that heat to the North Atlantic, the continent could be plunged into famine in a matter of years or decades (the movie was heavily dramatized).
The IPCC has warned of this possibility but had placed the danger zone for the failure of the AMOC in the early 22nd century, well past the lifetimes of most people living today. That proclamation moved it off most of our immediate-attention screens.
This adds to a growing body of alarming climate science, like the one published last year in the Journal of Climatetitled “Sixfold Increase in Historical Northern Hemisphere Concurrent Large Heatwaves Driven by Warming and Changing Atmospheric Circulations,” which indicates we’re much farther down the path of dangerous climate change than even most scientists realized.
That study essentially predicted this year’s shocking Northern Hemisphere heat waves (with more and worse to come); the lead researcher’s first name is Cassandra, no doubt an unintentional choice in the paper’s authors’ pecking order, but still.
It brings up the topic of the “Clathrate Gun Hypothesis,” which is the absolute worst case scenario for humanity’s future.
All across the planet there are an estimated 1.4 trillion tons of methane gas frozen into a snowcone-like slurry called clathrates or methane hydrates laying on the sea floor off the various continental shelves.
When they suddenly melt, that’s the “firing of the gun.” An explosion (in the context of geologic time) of atmospheric gas that’s over 70 times as potent a greenhouse gas as CO2. The Clathrate Gun.
The PNAS paper mentioned above concludes that 126,000 years ago there was an event that caused a small amount of these clathrates to warm enough to turn to gas and bubble up out of the seas. The resulting spike in greenhouse gas (methane) led to a major warming event worldwide:
“Our results identify an exceptionally large warming of the equatorial Atlantic intermediate waters and strong evidence of methane release and oxidation almost certainly due to massive methane hydrate destabilization during the early part of the penultimate warm episode (126,000 to 125,000 y ago). This major warming was caused by … a brief episode of meltwater-induced weakening of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (AMOC) and amplified by a warm mean climate.”
The researchers warn we may be looking at a similar event in our time:
“Our results highlight climatic feedback processes associated with the penultimate climate warming that can serve as a paleoanalog for modern ongoing warming.”
As glaciers melt and the oceans warm, they note:
“[M]eltwater-induced AMOC weakening significantly amplifies the warming of intermediate waters and, in turn, destabilizes shallow subsurface methane hydrate deposits.”
In other words, the recent extreme warming of our oceans increases the chances the AMOC Great Conveyor Belt will shut down, throwing Europe into an existential crisis and wilding the rest of the world’s weather. And, most ominously, the AMOC shutting down will speed up the melting of more methane clathrates on the sea floors around the world.
The process is driven by warming of the oceans, which absorb more than 90 percent of the additional global warming heat we’re forcing by burning fossil fuels. As the BBC noted, the past month and first weeks of July “were hotter than any in recorded history” and:
“This week, sea surface temperatures along the coasts of Southern Spain and North Africa were 2-4C (3.6-7.2F) higher than they would normally be at this time of year, with some spots 5C (9F) above the long-term average.”
Ocean temperatures off the coast of Florida this week were in the range that Jacuzzi recommends for their hot tubs: 101 degrees. This has never happened before in human history.
The least likely but most dangerous outcome scenario is that the warming ocean might begin a massive melting of those methane hydrate slurries into gas, producing a “burp” of that greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, further adding to global warming, which would then melt even more of the clathrates.
It would be a deadly “positive feedback system,” with each phase of warming setting up the next and worse one. The Clathrate Gun.
At the end of the Permian, 250 million years ago, this runaway process is apparently what happened when a spike in methane led to such a violent warming of the planet that it killed over 90 percent of all life in the oceans and 70 percent of all life on land, paving the way for the rise of the dinosaurs, as cold-blooded lizards were among the few survivors.
That period is referred to as the Permian Mass Extinction, or, simply, “The Great Dying.” It was the most destructive mass extinction event in the history of our planet.
The “clathrate gun hypothesis” is controversial, but there’s a large body of evidence for it having done the damage at the end of the Permian, as we note in that video.
While it’s the least likely but most dramatic outcome of today’s global warming, it’s worth heeding the warning: by pouring over thirty billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year we have stirred a beast that could—if we don’t take serious action soon—spell the doom of human civilization, if not humanity itself.
“The key findings of our study add to a growing body of observational findings strongly supporting the ‘clathrate gun hypothesis.’ … Importantly, the interval we have studied is marked by a mean climate state comparable to future projections of transient global climate warming of 1.3 °C to 3.0 °C.” [emphasis mine]
We just this year passed 1.3 degrees Celsius of planetary warming: we are now in the territory of the Clathrate Gun Hypothesis if these researchers are right (although the risks are still small).
This is the first study I’ve seen to make such a claim, and it’s not from crackpots or alarmists; these are solid, credible scientists with a lifetime of learning and work behind them.
And, they argue, if the AMOC weakens or shuts down, all bets are off:
“Simulation studies have suggested warming of intermediate waters has been limited to ∼1.5 °C to 3 °C, and that such warmings were insufficient to significantly affect the stability of shallow subsurface methane hydrates. However, the magnitude of intermediate water warming can be significantly amplified by meltwater-induced weakening of atmospheric and ocean circulation, an amplification not considered in the simulations that examined potential gas hydrate destabilization.”
In other words, if the AMOC fails, the clathrate gun hypothesis becomes significantly more viable.
For much of the past four decades, climate activists have been warning us that we’re approaching tipping points and thresholds that will alter how Americans live, cost us a fortune, and kill millions of humans every year.
Now we’re there. Our “normal” climate is dead; the weather has gone insane, and it is annually killing thousands of Americans and millions of people all around the globe. And the numbers are increasing almost exponentially, year to year.
This is how quickly it has hit us: when I published the first edition of my book warning of climate change, The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight, in 1996 (it’s been updated twice since then) there was still a vigorous debate here in the United States—funded in large part by the fossil fuel industry and its allies in rightwing media—over whether climate change was even a real thing.
They knew that their product was poisoning our atmosphere, but they were making hundreds of billions of dollars in profits. Nothing was more important to these morbidly rich people than that money.
They and their bought-off politicians began to believe their own lies, or at least some did, and thought this wouldn’t happen until they were all dead anyway, even if it was true.
But then it happened. The climate emergency we were worried about arrived. It is here, now.
Looking at statistical information about major heatwaves—particularly ones that hit multiple continents at the same time—the authors of the Journal of Climate paper referenced above found:
“Such simultaneous heatwaves are 7 times more likely now than 40 years ago. They are also hotter and affect a larger area.”
In the 1980s the Northern Hemisphere averaged around 73 heatwaves during the summer months from May to September. By the 2010s that number had grown to 152 heatwaves per summer.
And those heat waves are also almost 20 percent hotter than they were the year Reagan won the presidency (and denied climate change throughout his 8 fossil-fuel-funded years in office).
One of the most startling understandings of what’s happening has only become apparent in the past decade or so: that the atmospheric Polar Jet Stream is acting weird and thus making our weather extremes more severe.
Over the course of multiple conversations with a few of the world’s top climate scientists I’ve learned that the Polar Jet Stream—the fast-moving river of high-altitude (30,000+ feet) air that circulates around the North Pole—has slowed down, weakened, and is beginning to “drool” down over parts of North America, going as far south as Texas.
This was, in fact, what caused the severe winter weather that shut down Texas’ privatized power grid a few years back, along with causing the “bomb cyclone” freezing storms hitting the Midwest and Northeast every winter, and the extended periods of 100+ degree weather all across America, Europe, Russia, and China this summer.
Historically, the Polar Jet Stream was held in place—mostly in the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere—by the temperature differential between the Arctic and the middle latitudes, where most Americans (outside of northern Alaska) live.
The cold arctic air defined the northernmost margin of the Polar Jet Stream while the warmer middle latitude air defined its southernmost margin. While it pushed weather patterns across North America for much of my life, it rarely dipped below the Mason-Dixon line and, even when it did, generally just brought the hot/cold, or wet/drought weather behind it for only a day or two.
But the Arctic has been warming at least three times faster than the middle latitudes where most of us live, which means the difference in temperature between the Arctic air to the north of the Jet Stream and our air to its south has diminished.
The North Pole/Arctic, once a solid cap of ice where Santa Claus was supposed to live, is now an open sea every summer.
As that temperature differential has declined, so has the strength and velocity of the Jet Stream. Now, instead of whipping across the Northern Hemisphere, it often spills down as far south as Mexico and then stays in place for days at a time.
What would have been a one-day cold-snap or heat wave becomes multiple days, long enough to wreak billions in damage to a state’s residential and energy infrastructure.
What would have been a rainstorm lasting a few hours becomes an unrelenting downpour lasting for days, creating massive flooding.
These changes in the Jet Stream, combined with the warming of our oceans (whose temperatures also drive weather), have also caused what were once routine weather patterns to change.
Regions that were only dry during the summer are now experiencing drought year-round; parts of the country where flooding was occasional but rare are now regularly experiencing massive, days-long storms that tear up houses and flood entire regions.
Flights are bumpier and being canceled with increasing frequency because of weather, as we’re just now sliding into this unknowable new era of severe weather weirding.
This is our new normal, and it’s costing us lives and billions of dollars every year, all to preserve the profits of a fossil fuel industry that knew in the 1960s that their product was poisoning the world and would lead to this outcome.
But don’t think that just because this is the new normal that this “normal” will last. The last time our planet saw CO2 levels at their current 422 parts-per-million, sea levels were 60 feet higher and trees were growing in Antarctica.
In other words, we’re on a path, not at a destination. The planet will catch up with all that CO2, and as it does our weather will continue to become more and more severe until we figure out a way to get CO2 levels back down to the 1950s count of just over 300 ppm.
Meanwhile, we’re pouring more CO2 into the atmosphere right now than at any time in human history, despite efforts among the world’s developed nations to reduce their carbon footprints.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has been a major kick-in-the-pants to Europe to get off their dependence on fossil fuels and go green, as have high oil and gas prices around the world.
But here in America, Republicans on the Supreme Court (with 6 justices put on the bench with money from fossil-fuel billionaires) kneecapped the Biden administration’s ability to regulate CO2 and promote green energy.
In 2010, five Republicans on the Court legalized political bribery with their Citizens United decision. And, of course, Republicans deeply in the pocket of Big Oil, Gas, and Coal continue to deny climate change is even happening. Just last week, Congressman Scott Perry called climate change a massive “grift.”
And now the Heritage Foundation has, according to Raw Story, a plan for the next Republican administration to gut the EPA; end the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations; end “grid expansion for the benefit of renewable resources or supporting low/carbon generation”; ban EPA workers from using certain types of science; and prevent other states from copying California’s strict environmental standards for greenhouse gasses.
The fossil fuel industry has almost unlimited money to buy politicians, per Citizens United. The ten top recipients of fossil fuel money in Congress last year were:
Manchin, Joe (D-WV) $724,270
McCarthy, Kevin (R-CA) $396,284
Lankford, James (R-OK) $275,148
Pfluger, August (R-TX) $268,011
Kennedy, John (R-LA) $264,788
Murkowski, Lisa (R-AK) $249,808
Sinema, Kyrsten (D-AZ) $230,160
Fletcher, Lizzie (D-TX) $191,765
Cuellar, Henry (D-TX) $191,450
Scott, Tim (R-SC) $181,291
Scalise, Steve (R-LA) $181,263
Gonzales, Tony (R-TX) $174,461
Rubio, Marco (R-FL) $165,636
Amazing how little it costs to buy a member of Congress to keep your multi-billion-dollar-a-year profits flowing, isn’t it?
Romney, Mitt (R-UT) $8,291,262
Cornyn, John (R-TX) $4,678,062
Cruz, Ted (R-TX) $4,138,421
McConnell, Mitch (R-KY) $2,852,107
McCarthy, Kevin (R-CA) $2,581,832
Hutchison, Kay Bailey (R-TX) $2,332,021
Inhofe, James M (R-OK) $2,320,139
Pearce, Steve (R-NM) $2,236,714
Barton, Joe (R-TX) $2,211,987
Brady, Kevin (R-TX) $2,087,396
Scalise, Steve (R-LA) $1,847,013
Murkowski, Lisa (R-AK) $1,792,602
Americans are dying because these paid-off shills have either failed to act or actively blocked any meaningful change in our nation’s climate policy. They have blood on their hands, with more to come as every year brings more severe floods, storms, and drought.
We can no longer tolerate this morally criminal level of political malpractice, particularly since there is still time to act. And we must move quickly.
If America is to reclaim its position as a leader and role model for the world and stop the disastrous new climate “normal” we’re now entering from becoming radically more severe, we must get our use of fossil fuels under control.
That means ostracizing elected officials in the pocket of the industry, rolling back Citizens United so Big Oil and Big Coal can’t continue to bribe members of Congress, and throwing significant subsidies into greening our energy and transportation systems.
The climate emergency is here. We can’t wait any longer for major and dramatic worldwide action.
Editor’s Note; It is important to understand the difference between a reform and a revolution in any political movement. A reform aims to tweak some aspects of the system to make it more equitable, fair and just. A revolution, on the other hand, changes the overall structure of the system. DGR, as a radical environmental and a radical feminist organization, believes that reforms are not enough in a system that is inherently rooted in oppression and injustice. We believe that a revolution is necessary to remove that deep rooted structural violence. However, we also understand that a revolution requires political organizing at a much larger scale. While we are working on building that political movement, the natural world is being destroyed. Till then, something needs to be done to protect the pieces of natural world that we have left, no matter how small. That is where reforms contribute. We understand the perseverance and diligence it takes to bring about any reform and appreciate those who are working on it. Below is the story of such a movement. Though originally designed to be much more protective of nature and indigenous people, the mining laws in Mexico were modified to be much less than that by the time they were passed. The US is still ruled by the Mining Law of 1872.
Reforms to Mexico’s mining law limit harmful practices by extractive industries and improve protections for the environment and Indigenous peoples. But they’re also a far cry from the change activists had been hoping for.
Under the new reform, Indigenous communities will receive 5% of a mining operation’s profits. The maximum lifespan of mining concessions is also reduced from 100 years to 80.
Concessions will no longer be granted in areas with water shortages or in protected areas. Currently, there are 1,671 mining concessions in 70 protected areas in Mexico, spreading across 1.5 million hectares (3.7 million acres) of preserved land.
MEXICO CITY — A major reform approved by congress last week is supposed to limit harmful practices by the mining industry and improve protections for the environment and Indigenous peoples. But some parts of the reform faced strong resistance from pro-business interests, resulting in a watered-down version that some environmentalists said doesn’t go far enough.
The reform, originally introduced by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the end of March, was designed to make it harder for private companies to obtain mining concessions without accounting for impacts on surrounding ecosystems and local communities.
It establishes free and prior consent as a requirement for mining concessions, meaning that companies must meet with residents to discuss the impacts of their projects before receiving permits. It also requires companies to restore the land once a mine closes.
But some of the most impactful components of the proposal were negotiated down. Payment to Indigenous communities living near mining operations was originally supposed to be 10% of mining profits but lawmakers reduced it to 5%.
There was also debate about the length of mining concessions, which the previous version of the law set at up to 100 years. Although the original reform proposal wanted to limit it to just 30 years, effectively preventing the companies from shaping entire regions for the long term, lawmakers ultimately settled on 80 years.
“These topics were suppressed or modified without justification and under pressure from the business interests that are responsible for social and environmental devastation,” Colectiva Cambiémosla Ya and Alliance for Free Determination and Autonomy, two mining activist groups, said in a statement ahead of the senate vote.
Deputy Ignacio Mier Velazco, from the state of Puebla — who explained that the reforms were changed to avoid risking investment and economic development — said he was confident the version that was passed would still improve oversight of the industry. Many activists in the region agreed, telling Mongabay the reforms were a victory that allowed for some positive change and a way forward for the continued fight against mining.
Mexico’s mining industry has experienced rapid growth since 1992, when the original mining law was passed. The country has become a top exporter of silver, zinc and other important minerals. In the 1980s, less than 1% of Mexican territory was under a mining concession. Now, it’s a little more than 8%, according to the president’s reform proposal.
Editor’s Note: In this essay, Carl (one of our editors) describes the process of ocean acidification, and how it relates with other ecological crises.
First we need to know what an acid is. An acid is any substance (species) who’s molecules or ions are capable of donating a hydrogen ion proton (H+) to another substance in aqueous solution. The opposite of an acid is a base. Which is a substance who’s molecules or ions are able to accept a hydrogen ion from an acid. Acidic substances are usually identified by their sour taste while bases are bitter. The quantitative means to measure the degree to which a substance is acidic or basic is the detection of “potential of hydrogen” (pH) or “power of hydrogen”. This is expressed with a logarithmic scale 0 -14 that inversely indicates the activity of hydrogen ions in solution. The greater the amount of hydrogen ions which are measured below 7 the more acidic a substance is, going to 0. The less hydrogen ions are present which are measured above 7 the more basic a substance is, going to 14. So the pH values are inverse to number of hydrogen ions present. As the concentration of hydrogen ions increases the pH decreases (acidic). As the concentration of hydrogen ions decreases the pH increases (basic). With the value of 7 being neutral which is where pure distilled water falls on the scale. So acidification would be increasing hydrogen ions.
Basic (or alkaline) properties can be associated with the presence of hydroxide ions (OH−) in aqueous solution, and the neutralization of acids (H+) by bases can be explained in terms of the reaction of these two ions to give the neutral molecule water (H+ + OH− → H2O).
For millions of years the average pH of the ocean had maintained around 8.2, which is on the basic side of the scale. But since industrial development that number has dropped to slightly below 8.1. So not acidic but going in that direction. While this may not seem like a lot, remember the decrease is nonlinear and measures the amount of hydrogen ions present. A change in pH of 1 unit is equivalent to a tenfold change in the concentration of (H+) ions. So the drop of .11 units represents a 30% increase of (H+) ions than were present in the relative homeostasis state of preindustrial time. Ocean acidification is an increase in the dissolved hydrogen ions (H+) in the water.
What is causing this decrease in pH?
Oceans absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere through wave action. Pre-industrialization there was a balance between the CO2 going into the water and coming out of the water. The pH was stable in this narrow range. Life in the oceans have evolved to survive in a balanced condition. Industrialization through the burning of fossil fuel has released increased amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. This has caused the oceans to absorb more CO2. So here is where the chemistry comes into play. As CO2 dissolves in water (H2O) the two create Hydroxycarboxylic (Carbonic) Acid (H2CO3).
CO2 + H2O = H2CO3
This breaks down easily into Hydrogen Carbonate ions (HCO3) and H+ ions.
H2CO3 = HCO3 + H+
Hydrogen ions break off of the Carbonic Acid. So more CO2 means more H+ ions which means increased acidity.
And this is where the problem is. Shells are formed primarily of Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3). But Carbonate (CO3) binds more easily with H+ than with Calcium (Ca), CO3 + 2H+. This takes away Carbonate that would have bonded with the Calcium for shell production. Calcium is relatively constant, so it is the concentration of carbonate that determines formation of calcium carbonate. Less carbonate available makes it more difficult for corals, mollusks, echinoderms, calcareous algae and other shelled organisms to form Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3), their major mineral building block. Also, when Carbonate concentrations fall too low, already formed CaCO3 starts to dissolve. So, marine organisms have a harder time making new shells and maintaining the ones they’ve already got. This causes decreased calcification. In healthy humans, normal body pH average is 7.4. This is one of the main reasons why the pH in swimming pools should be maintained around 7.5.
The acid-base balance of the oceans has been critical in maintaining the Earth’s habitability and allowing the emergence of early life.
“Scientists have long known that tiny marine organisms—phytoplankton(microscopic aquatic plants)—are central to cooling the world by emitting an organic compound known as dimethylsulphide (DMS). Acidification affects phytoplankton in the laboratory by lowering the pH (i.e. acidifying) in plankton-filled water tanks and measuring DMS emissions. When they set the ocean acidification levels for what is expected by 2100 (under a moderate greenhouse gas scenario) they found that cooling DMS emissions fell.”
Given the importance of plankton, the fact that they are the life-support system for the planet and humanity cannot survive without them, the resulting effects will be disastrous. These organisms produce 50% of the world’s oxygen – every other breath animals take and are the basis for the food web. Covering more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface the oceans, the planets lungs, are in peril.
“Over the past 200 years, the oceans have absorbed approximately half of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by human activities, providing long-term carbon storage. Without this sink, the greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere would be much higher, and the planet much warmer.”
But absorbing the CO2 causes changes in ocean chemistry, namely lowering pH and decreasing carbonate (CO3) concentrations.
On a human time scale these changes have been slow and steady relative to that baseline. But on a geological time scale this change is more rapid than any change documented over the last 300 million years. So organisms that have evolved tolerance to a certain range of conditions may encounter increasingly stressful or even lethal conditions in the coming decades.
We know this through carbon dating of ice cores which offer scientists’ the best source for historical climate data. Also deep-sea sediment cores from the ocean floor are used to detail the Earth’s history.
Estimates of future carbon dioxide levels, based on business-as-usual emission scenarios, indicate that by the end of this century the surface waters of the ocean could have a pH around 7.8 The last time the ocean pH was that low was during the middle Miocene, 14-17 million years ago. The Earth was several degrees warmer and a major extinction event was occurring. Animals take millions of years to evolve. They go extinct without an adequate timeframe to adapt to changes in habitat. Ocean acidification is currently affecting the entire ocean, including coastal estuaries and waterways. Billions of people worldwide rely on food from the ocean as their primary source of protein. Many jobs and economies in the U.S. and around the world depend on the fish and shellfish that live in the ocean.
By absorbing increased carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the ocean reduces the warming impact of these emissions if they were to have remained in the atmosphere. Shockingly, though, only 1 percent of that heat has ended up in the atmosphere nearly 90 percent of it, is going into the ocean. There, it’s setting ocean heat records year after year and driving increasingly severe marine heat waves. As the ocean temperature has risen its ability to absorb CO2 has decreased. Colder ocean water dissolves more CO2, absorbing more from the atmosphere. But we have steadily increased carbon emissions. The percent of current emissions produced sequestered into the oceans is thirty.
It is unknown if this uptake can be sustained. What might happen to the Earth’s atmosphere if the ocean is unable to absorb continued increased carbon dioxide?
“If the seas are warmer than usual, you can expect higher air temperatures too, says Tim Lenton, professor of climate change at Exeter University. Most of the extra heat trapped by the build-up of greenhouse gases has gone into warming the surface ocean, he explains. That extra heat tends to get mixed downwards towards the deeper ocean, but movements in oceans currents – like El Niño – can bring it back to the surface.”
The ocean surface favors mineral formation, in deeper waters it dissolves.
We have enter a new Epoch, The Pyroscene
So it is obvious industrializing the oceans with offshore wind farms and deep sea mining, what capitalism calls the Blue Economy, will have the effect of continued acidification. But it will cause even more ramifications because it will have a direct impact on the species that live there and in the habitat where “raw” materials are extracted.
Regions of the ocean where the plankton communities are more efficiently utilizing organic matter, such as the deep sea, are places where the ocean has a naturally lower capacity to absorb some of the carbon dioxide produced by humans. “So understanding how zooplankton(small aquatic animals) communities process carbon, which, to them, represents food and energy, helps us to understand the role of the ocean in absorbing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” – Conner Shea doctoral student in the UH Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) Department of Oceanography.
We are headed for a Blue Ocean Event by 2030 – that is for the first time since ancient humans started roaming Earth several million years ago, an ice-free Arctic Ocean in the summer. The water instead of ice will be absorbing the suns heat rather than reflexing it back. Thus increasing sea temperature rise and disruption of the jet stream. This is basically what solar panels and wind turbines do. They make the earth hotter. Wind turbines extract the cooling breezes for their energy, the opposite of a fan. Miles and miles of solar panels destroy habitat and absorb the heat.
Continued industrialization will have the devastating effect of threats to food supplies, loss of coastal protection, diminished biodiversity and disruption of the carbon cycling – arising from these chemical reactions. This story involves a fundamental change within the largest living space on the planet, changes that are happening fast, and right now.
The oceans will find a new balance hundreds of thousands of years from now but between now and then marine organisms and environments will suffer.
What causes climate change?
The earth’s temperature cycles, glacial – interglacial, are primarily driven by periodic changes in the Earth’s orbit. Three distinct orbital cycles – called Milankovitch cycles. A Serbian scientist calculated that Ice Ages occur approximately every 41,000 years. Subsequent research confirms that they did occur at 41,000-year intervals between one and three million years ago. But about 800,000 years ago, the cycle of Ice Ages lengthened to 100,000 years, matching Earth’s deviation of orbit from circularity cycle. While various theories have been proposed to explain this transition, scientists do not yet have a clear answer. So CO2 historically has not caused climate change, it’s increased in the atmosphere during warmer temperatures and decreased during colder temperatures. Feedback loops have amplified changes initiated by orbital variations. But it is now humans that are currently increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels.
Strictly from an anthropocentric point of view, humanity could adapt to global warming and extreme weather changes. It will not survive the extinction of most marine plants and animals. The destruction of nature is more dangerous than climate change. It is sad that in the effort to save the climate and continuance of business as usual, we are destroying the environment. All of life came from the sea, it would be unwise to harm the birthplace of all species.