E.O. Wilson has a plan to save the world

Eminent Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, the great champion of biodiversity and the man who coined the term “biophelia”, has a plan to save the world from extinction.  It is a plan to set aside half of the world for wildlife and ecosystems. His vision of permanently set aside protected areas is described and partially mapped in this important new article published in the September issue of Smithsonian Magazine.

the familiar Monarch Butterfly (danaus plexippus) is in rapid decline in North America due to pesticide use, climate change, and loss of habitat. -photo by Jay Burney

the familiar Monarch Butterfly (danaus plexippus) is in rapid decline in North America due to pesticide use, climate change, and loss of habitat. -photo by Jay Burney

Can the World Really Set Aside Half of the World for Wildlife?

September 2014 Smithsonian Magazine         Tony Hiss

The eminent evolutionary biologist E.O. Wilson has an audacious vision for saving Earth from a cataclysmic extinction event

“Battles are where the fun is,” said E.O. Wilson, the great evolutionary biologist, “and where the most rapid advances are made.” We were sitting in oversized rocking chairs in a northwest Florida guest cottage with two deep porches and half-gallons of butter-pecan ice cream in the freezer, a Wilson favorite. He’d invited me here to look at what he considers a new approach to conservation, a new ecological Grail that, naturally, won’t happen without a fight.

Wilson, 85, is the author of more than 25 books, many of which have changed scientific understanding of human nature and of how the living part of the planet is put together.

Known as the father of sociobiology, he is also hailed as the pre-eminent champion of biodiversity: Wilson coined the word “biophilia” to suggest that people have an innate affinity for other species, and his now widely accepted “theory of island biogeography” explains why national parks and all confined landscapes inevitably lose species. He grew up in and around Mobile, Alabama, and has been at Harvard for over 60 years but still calls himself “a Southern boy who came north to earn a living.” He is courtly, twinkly, soft-spoken, has a shock of unruly white hair, and is slightly stooped from bending over to look at small things all his life—he’s the world’s leading authority on ants. Wilson has earned more than a hundred scientific awards and other honors, including two Pulitzer Prizes. And perhaps his most urgent project is a quest to refute conservation skeptics who think there isn’t enough left of the natural world to be worth saving.

Read More Here 

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Forests and Climate Change, Great Lakes, Oceans, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Uncategorized

Florida governor fakes interest in climate change to grab votes

From Jeb Bush to Rick Scott, Floridians have had about as much luck with politicians as the 40-year-old Virgin did with the ladies. Of course, they do keep voting these boneheads into office, so our pity for their plight is limited.

In his latest charade as a human being with a conscience, Florida Republican governor Rick Scott, who has been adamant that climate change ranks up there with unicorns and Bigfoot, finally acquiesced and met with scientists. According to Farron Cousins of Desmogblog, the meeting was more about propaganda than protecting the environment.

Florida State University environmental science professor Jeffrey Chanton gives a presentation to Florida governor Rick Scott on climate change on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014 in Tallahassee, Fla. Photo: Brendan Farrington/AP)

Florida State University environmental science professor Jeffrey Chanton gives a presentation to Florida governor Rick Scott on climate change on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014 in Tallahassee, Fla. Photo: Brendan Farrington/AP

See, Scott’s biggest rival in the next election (Charlie Crist – again) does actually believe in climate change, so this meeting was all about Scott cleaning up his drill-baby-drill persona in order to nab the votes of those lucky folks living on the Florida’s soon-to-be-submerged coastlines.

Florida Governor Rick Scott Meets With Climate Scientists, Learns Nothing
by Farron Cousins, Desmogblog, August 26, 2014

[...]

Governor Scott recently met with prominent climate scientists from universities with the expressed goal of learning all that he could about climate change.  The truth, however, is that the entire experience was more of a publicity stunt than a science lesson.

According to the scientists, at least half of the thirty-minute meeting was spent with Scott asking questions about the scientists’ education, classes they teach, and various other “small talk” questions.  This left them only 15 minutes to explain the science behind anthropogenic climate change to the inattentive governor.

Check out the full article on Desmogblog. To read a play-by-play of the “meeting,” check out the aptly titled article, “After Climate Meeting, Scientists Still Aren’t Sure That Rick Scott Is ‘Climate Literate,’” by Katie Valentine from Think Progress.

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Scientists surprised by number of methane leaks in Atlantic, note terrifying climate change scenario

2013 Northeast US Canyons Expedition/NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program via Science AAAS article linked below

2013 Northeast US Canyons Expedition/NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program via Science online article linked below

The rebooted Cosmos was a fascinating series for all sorts of reasons, but perhaps one of its most memorable sequences was Neil DeGrasse Tyson ominously explaining what methane leaks can do in an already heating-up world. It’s just one more example of the chain of effects, each multiplying on the last in intensity, that happen in nature when it’s messed with too much.

Scientists Discover Hundreds Of Methane Leaks Bubbling From The Floor Of The Atlantic Ocean
By Jeff Spross, ThinkProgress. August 26, 2014.

In what could be a clue to the future effects of climate change, scientists have discovered a huge collection of methane leaks from the ocean floor off the United States’ eastern seaboard.

Their work, published Sunday in Nature Geoscience, used a research vessel equipped with sonar to map a 94,000-square-kilometer area that arcs from North Carolina up to Massachusetts. Within that expanse, according to Scientific American, they discovered around 570 separate plumes of bubbles rising from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. And while the scientists haven’t yet collected samples, the bubbles’ sources suggest they contain methane.

That raises the possibility that the hydrates, which are extremely sensitive to changes in temperature, are being melted by warming waters. That heat could be brought by natural cycles and variability — or by climate change. Another twist is that most of the methane is absorbed by the ocean long before it breaches the surface. The process reacts with oxygen and releases carbon dioxide, which in turn increases the acidification of the ocean in the vicinity. So there’s the possibility that warming waters from climate change could release more methane, thus further speeding up the ocean acidification that is itself being driven largely by humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions.

To read more from ThinkProgress, click here.

To read another great article, with an interesting debate forming in comments, go to Science online.

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Filed under Climate Change, Oceans

Human Rights are the front line of environmental defense

Photo: Alex Barber

Photo: Alex Barber

Paul Jay, of The Real News Network, produced “Protecting the Amazon Includes Defending Indigenous Rights,” a video interview with Hiparidi Top’Tiro Xavante, an Indigenous rights activist in Brazil.

The 13 minute piece elegantly describes the need to defend the way of life of Indigenous peoples in the Amazon in order to defend and protect the biodiversity and and ecological health of the Amazon, “the lungs of the world.”

Watch the video on Truthout

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Political Repression, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Uncategorized

Study links Monsanto’s Roundup to increased cancer rates

Glyphosate, the star player in Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup, has been linked to lymphoma, according to a study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. While we certainly know that Roundup is used in fields and front yards across the world, the toxic effects of this use can be found in one of the most unassuming places – our children’s playgrounds. In her article “Study: New Yorkers Face Cancer Spike From Monsanto’s Roundup in City Parks,” Christina Sarich explains how cancer rates are rising, but the city maintains that its use of Roundup is perfectly safe.

How exactly does this sign convey that this use is safe? Photo: Natural Society

How exactly does this sign convey safety? Photo: Natural Society

Let’s take a moment here to digest – NYC claims that its use of a toxic chemical in and near parks and playgrounds where children play is completely safe. Scientists and environmentalists have argued from day one that the use of Monsanto’s aggressive toxins could be dangerous. We don’t know to what extent, but that should be cause for alarm, not justification for its use. This is the very argument that Monsanto uses to support its continued production of Roundup, which has lately been engineered even stronger in order to combat plants that are building up a resistance (Go Nature!). Not knowing the long-term effects is exactly why these toxins should be banned and especially not used near playgrounds. Like usual, however, officials are only convinced with dollar signs, so instead of listening to scientific evidence, they put children’s lives at serious risk for developing cancer.

Study: New Yorkers Face Cancer Spike From Monsanto’s Roundup in City Parks
by Christina Sarich, Natural Society, August 22, 2014

The Parks Department in New York, which was responsible for spraying pesticides on greenspaces more than 1,300 times last year, is likely leading to more prevalent cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and breast cancer, according to the findings of recent studies. The pesticide they use most often (even where children are at play) in order to eliminate weeds that house rats in New York is Monsanto’s Roundup – full of glyphosate carcinogens.

Even though the city posts warning signs 24-hours prior to spraying, the toxic chemicals in RoundUp linger, and no one really knows for how long. They say they spray in ‘little-used’ areas in the park – but we all know that with a little rain, pesticide runoff travels into the park’s lakes and soil, contaminating larger areas.

Read the full article on Natural Society.

 

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MICATS protest Line 6B pipeline yesterday (Aug. 25)

from the MICATS twitter feed

from the MICATS twitter feed

The MICATS protested Enbridge’s Line 6B yesterday (Monday, August 25). Two members locked themselves to a construction truck leaving a storage facility in Oxford, Michigan, which caused a bottleneck of all the other trucks behind it. According to the MICATS Youtube page of the protest:

At 7:30am on the morning of Monday, August 25th, 2014, two protestors with the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands locked themselves with bicycle U-locks to a truck while it was exiting a pipeline storage facility ran by Precision Pipeline. Precision was hired to work on the expansion of Enbridge Line 6B, the same pipeline which ruptured in 2010, spilling 1 million gallons of toxic tar sands into Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo river. That spill is now commonly known as the largest in-land tar sands spill in US history.

Instead of choosing to double-down on clean-up efforts for that spill, 4 years later the spill is still not clean and Enbridge is dragging their feet. Meanwhile, Enbridge is expeditiously expanding its tar sands pipeline infrastructure throughout the midwest as well as all over the continent. Today, Duncan and Dylon took action in opposition to Enbridge’s criminal dealings with dirty tar sands. Direct action is a crucial tactic that must be utilized when the common systems of governance fail to protect us or recognize our basic rights.

Check out their video of the protest!

Common Dreams also ran a great story on the protest, the history of Line 6B, and the MICATS demands.

Earth First! Newswire ran the MICATS statement, which includes a link to their Donate page.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Tar Sands

Climate Activists need to demand system change!

System Change is needed. Without that, positive impacts on climate change will be a pipe dream

cochabamba2

The United Nations is gearing up for the COP 20 Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru in December of this year, and the  UN Climate Change Conference/COP21, to be held in Paris, France in late 2015. A primary goal of the Paris Climate Summit is to ratify a new legal agreement aimed at stemming climate change.

Many people across the earth are concerned UN efforts and these summits will come up far short of any meaningful goals.  This Inside Climate News article, MIT Study: Climate Talks on Path to Fall Far Short of Goals details some of the concerns.

In preparation for the Paris Summit, on 23 September of this year, the United Nations will hold a one day session on Climate Change.  This will garner significant press attention as world leaders including business and political mouthpieces continue to posture for “business as usual” solutions geared toward the potential 2015 legal agreement.

Preceding the one day UN session are two significant events in New York City that you can participate directly in. The Peoples Climate March will be held on Sunday Sept 21, 2014. Organizers are predicting that this will be the largest Climate March in history. Although organizers have not created any demands per se for the goals of the March they feel that press and media attention will go a long way toward establishing public support for change.

An affiliated event,  NYC Climate Convergence, will have an opening plenary session  Friday night 19 September. The weekend long event that will feature important speakers including Naomi Klein and Vandana Shiva, and is described as a weekend packed with skill-shares, teach-ins, speak outs, and protests. Global Justice Ecology Project, Biofuelwatch, and STOP GE Trees Campaign will be participating in these events. Climate Connections will cover these issues and events. Please send us your thoughts!

Our concerns go directly to both demands and the need for system change as the only way to catalyze real strategies that can help to slow down or eventually reverse the onrushing impacts of climate change. These impacts include vast and deadly human rights issues based on the catastrophic consequences of ecological eviseration and the commodification of natural resources and life.

Join us by demanding system change. Identifying the real solutions,  published by System Change Not Climate Change outlines some of the fundamental components of the Cochabamba Peoples Agreement, and it leads the story by referring to our own Green Shock Doctrine.  What could be better for a Monday primer on what’s coming our way in the next several weeks?

Global Justice Ecology Project’s executive director Anne Peterman posted this article “The Need for Clear Demands at the Peoples’ Climate March”  about her perspective at Daily Kos earlier in August.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, COP21 Paris 2015, Green Economy, Occupy Wall Street, Uncategorized

Environmentalists up-in-arms: New herbicide for GMOs could cause “superweeds”

When will Big Ag learn? If you have to keep genetically engineering plants to withstand the herbicides you’ve put on the market, then your product is fundamentally flawed. In the article “Environmentalists Rally Against New Herbicide For GE Crops” in Mint Press News, Phil Zahodiakin explains how weeds and other plants are building up a tolerance to many herbicides, but instead of changing the ethics of their farming philosophies, these companies are just creating stronger, more potent and more toxic chemical combinations.

From antibiotics to antibacterial hand soap, Mother Nature has proven time and time again that she can resist the interferences of mankind. Nature always adapts, always evolves. How much more toxic will pesticides and GE crops have to get before Big Ag will listen?

Photo: AP/Audrey McAvoy

Photo: AP/Audrey McAvoy

Environmentalists Rally Against New Herbicide For GE Crops

Citing the inevitability of “superweeds” and calling the product a “life preserver” for fatally flawed technology, environmentalists urge the EPA not to register a new Dow AgroSciences herbicide for GE corn and soybeans.

By Phil Zahodiakin, Mint Press News, August 22, 2014

Environmentalists warn that an herbicide designed to work with new varieties of genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybeans should not be registered by the Environmental Protection Agency because, like other widely-used herbicides for GE crops, it will gradually promote the emergence of “superweeds” resistant to the new herbicide.

The herbicide at issue is Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Duo, whose active ingredients are two “old” chemicals: glyphosate (best known by the trade name “Roundup”) and 2,4-D. The herbicide would be applied in fields planted with Enlist Corn and Enlist Soybeans – which Dow has engineered to tolerate the product.

The first commercial applications of 2,4-D date back to the mid-1940s, but the chemical gained notoriety due to its use in a Vietnam War-era defoliant: Agent Orange. Although 2,4-D was not the only herbicide in Agent Orange, the product was contaminated with dioxin — a potent carcinogen — as a byproduct of the production process.

Read the full article on Mint Press News.

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Filed under Campaign to STOP GE Trees, False Solutions to Climate Change, Genetic Engineering, Greenwashing, Industrial agriculture