By Dan Fischer, February 16, 2014. Source: Capitalism vs. the Climate
Ivanpah solar power facility
“Some people look out into the desert and see miles and miles of emptiness. I see miles and miles of gold mine.”
-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the start of Ivanpah Solar Power Facility’s construction
The world’s largest solar thermal energy facility, the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, opened last Thursday in California’s Mojave Desert. Unfortunately, this is bad news for neighboring Indigenous peoples, the desert tortoise, and local birds. It is an example of solar done wrong.
Ivanpah use mirrors to reflect sunlight, in order to heat and boil water. This produces steam, which spins turbines to produce electricity. When done at a small scale, it can be a clean and sustainable process. Photovoltaic solar panels, which convert sunlight directly into electricity, are even more democratic. They are easy to decentralize and put on rooftops.
In fact, Ivanpah’s grassroots opponents tend to strongly support solar power. The group Solar Done Right advocates decentralized solar energy as an alternative to mega-solar projects like Ivanpah. They argue that there is plenty of already-paved surface where we can safely install solar panels: rooftops, vacant parking lots, and former industrial sites known as brownfields.
Note: Surely the best route to environmental and energy sustainability will be through billionaires buying their own private islands…
Last summer, organizers with Global Justice Ecology Project interrupted “Sir” Branson at a Rio+20 side event, calling attention to his role in pushing greenwashed corporate false solutions to climate change. Some things never change…
-The GJEP Team
By John Vidal, February 8, 2014. Source: The Guardian
Richard Branson says Caribbean islands could use renewables for most of their energy needs within five years. Photograph: Jenny Bates for the Observer
The palm trees and billiard table have been shipped in, work on the infinity pool overlooking the coral reef is progressing and the tennis courts are celebrity-ready. But few of the super-luxury buildings rising on Moskito island’s beaches are finished yet.
Moskito is Sir Richard Branson‘s number two Caribbean island, but it will soon be his new family complex. It is just over a mile from Necker island, which he bought in his 20s for £250,000 and now rents for £40,000 a night.
Both islands are eco-trophies for Britain’s best-known entrepreneur, but his plans to ditch the use of diesel power and to generate electricity from wind and solar are expected to have a profound impact on dozens of far poorer nearby islands facing crippling debt, hurricanes and climate change.
Last week Branson hosted a summit of financiers, politicians, energy companies, lawyers and others on Moskito and Necker to work up a plan to “green” the Caribbean, island by island. Five prime ministers and 12 governments, as well as international bankers and investors, heard renewable energy experts explain how the region’s islands, which currently generate nearly all their electricity from diesel, could save hundreds of millions of dollars a year and reduce emissions by 50% or more. Continue reading
Anne Petermann, Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project, discusses President Obama’s comments on energy and climate change in Wednesday’s State of the Union address.
You can read Anne’s blog post on the SOTU address here.
Global Justice Ecology Project teams up with the Sojourner Truth show on KPFK radio for a weekly Earth Minute and Earth Watch interview.
By Global Justice Ecology Project
Introduction to Part II
There is much being said and written today about how to effectively address the oncoming catastrophe of climate change, which is already, for many, tragically real.
There is a crucial and obvious need for a powerful global movement to tackle the climate crisis. But this movement will not be based on reform. Capitalism and the markets have led us to the brink of the abyss. They will not provide our parachute. The system cannot be reformed. It must be transformed.
The more we understand how the roots of the many issues we are fighting are intertwined, the better we can cooperate to change the system driving them. In diversity is strength, as any ecologist understands, and our movements for change are no exception.
Global Justice Ecology Project is publishing The Green Shock Doctrine, a paper in four parts, as a means to help expose and examine the deeper issues behind the climate crisis and their links to many of the other crises we are facing. In doing so, we hope to help advance the effort to transform the global system driving climate catastrophe.
Download it here:
THE GREEN SHOCK DOCTRINE: Part II of IV
by Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project
During Obama’s State of the Union address last night the presence of the star of the reality TV show Duck Dynasty might have been the most real part of a very surreal evening.
Of particular note were Obama’s comments on energy and climate change.
While the US Southeast was being hammered by a highly unusual winter storm which stranded thousands in the metro Atlanta area, (no, this does not disprove climate change you nitwits, climate scientists have warned for years that a warming globe means extreme and unpredictable weather) Obama was proclaiming a desire to address climate change so that “when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, [we can say] yes we did.”
This sounds wonderful until we consider the “all of the above” energy strategy Obama touted earlier in the speech, which gives a nod to some of the dirtiest, most polluting and destructive energy sources. It includes shale oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota–the gas flares of which can be seen from space. This shale oil is so extremely volatile that in the past year two trains carrying bakken oil have exploded. It means more coal; it means more deep water offshore drilling of the type that caused the BP oil spill disaster. It means more nukes, even in the shadow of the ongoing catastrophe at Fukushima. And it means more fracking. Obama made a big show of his support for natural gas “if extracted safely,” which it is not.
Obama spent exactly one paragraph on climate change. He declared it a fact. That anyone even needs to do that in this day and age, decades after global warming was identified as a problem, after the Northeast US was smashed by not one but two hurricanes in two consecutive years, after Super-Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, after the record droughts in Australia, Africa and the US Midwest–to name just a few climate-related catastrophes of the past 8 years–is astounding. However, climate change is not only a fact. In my opinion it is the single greatest threat to future generations of humans and most other species. Yet it merited only a passing mention. One paragraph out of a 13 page speech.
Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Oil, Political Repression, Politics, Pollution, Posts from Anne Petermann
Note: Biomass mill explosions, biodiesel explosions, Bakken shale oil train explosions. Toxic chemicals used in coal refining spilling into groundwater. Maybe the time has come for a re-think on United States’ massive overconsumption of energy…
GJEP will be posting on the ground coverage of the ongoing water contamination crisis in West Virginia and have staff there participating in the deliveries of fresh water to victims of the spill.
– The GJEP Team
January 22, 2014. Source: Reuters
In this photo provided by the Mississippi Highway Patrol, a fire at a biodiesel facility near New Albany, Miss., burns early Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. The fire was so hot that firefighters could not get close enough to fight it, the Mississippi Highway Patrol said. The plant is located near New Albany on Mississippi Highway 15, which has been closed to traffic. Firefighters are letting it burn out. (AP Photo/Mississippi Highway Patrol via The Mississippi Department of Public Safety)
A fire raged at a biodiesel complex after an explosion that was felt miles away in northern Mississippi on Wednesday, the Highway Patrol said, but to its knowledge, all workers at the plant had been accounted for.The fire at the plant, some 3-4 miles north of New Albany, the Union County seat, broke out at about 5:30 a.m. CST (1130 GMT) after an explosion that was felt and heard miles away.
“The fire is still burning and they haven’t started trying to fight it yet because of the intense heat,” Trooper Ronny Hall, Mississippi Highway Patrol, said by telephone from the scene of the fire.
He spoke at around 10:00 CST, almost five hours after the fire began.
“At this time, we have had no injuries reported and all of the workers have been accounted for as far as we know,” Hall said, adding he did not know who the owners of the plant were.
Earlier, in an interview with local television station Action News 5, Hall said the fire may burn for as long as two days.
Note: US imperialism, powered by farms, fields, and forests — and soon, quite possibly genetically engineered trees. One can only hope this pipe dream falls by the wayside in the midst of budget cuts and crises in Washington.
-The GJEP Team
By Sandra I. Erwin, January 20, 2014. Source: National Defense
Green fuels command small money by Pentagon standards. But there will be a big payday for producers eventually, insist U.S. Navy officials.
The Navy needs the biofuel industry to believe this in order to achieve Secretary Ray Mabus’ goal to replace half of the Navy’s conventional fuel supply with renewables by 2020.
But with just six years to go, the industry and the government remain stuck in the proverbial chicken-or-the-egg conundrum. The Navy says it is ready to buy hundreds of millions of gallons of fuels as soon as they are price competitive with petroleum, but the industry needs massive cash infusions to scale up production and drive down cost.
Mabus says the Navy is doing its part to prop up the industry. Under a 2011 presidential directive, the Navy teamed with the Energy and Agriculture Departments and committed $510 million toward the development of a national biofuel industry. The Pentagon claimed authority to do this under the Defense Production Act, which Congress passed in 1950 as a vehicle to fund struggling industries that are considered critical to national security. Biofuels fall into that category, Mabus contends, because they allow the military to diversify its energy supply and become less exposed to volatile oil prices. Continue reading
By Richard Smith, January 9, 2014. Source: Truth-Out
Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout
The results are in: No amount of “green capitalism” will be able to ensure the profound changes we must urgently make to prevent the collapse of civilization from the catastrophic impacts of global warming.
The following is an updated version of an article that originally was published in the Real-World Economics Review. We consider Richard Smith’s article foundational to understanding the world we live in. Given its length, several sittings or a printout may be required to complete reading.
As soaring greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions drove global CO2 concentrations past 400 parts per million in May 2013, shell-shocked climate scientists warned that unless we urgently adopt “radical” measures to suppress GHG emissions (50 percent cuts in emissions by 2020, 90 percent by 2050) we’re headed for an average temperature rise of 3 degrees or 4 degrees Celsius before the end of the century. Four degrees might not seem like much, but make no mistake: Such an increase will be catastrophic for our species and most others. Humans have never experienced a rise of 4 degrees in average temperatures. But our ancestors experienced a four-degree cooler world. That was during the last ice age, the Wisconsin Stage (26,000 to 13,300 years ago). At that time, there were two miles of ice on top of where I’m sitting right now in New York City. In a four-degree warmer world “Heat waves of undreamt-of-ferocity will scorch the Earth’s surface as the climate becomes hotter than anything humans have ever experienced. … There will be “no ice at either pole.” “Global warming of this magnitude would leave the whole planet without ice for the first time in nearly 40 million years.” Sea levels will rise 25 meters – submerging Florida, Bangladesh, New York, Washington DC, London, Shanghai, the coastlines and cities where nearly half the world’s people presently live. Freshwater aquifiers will dry up; snow caps and glaciers will evaporate – and with them, the rivers that feed the billions of Asia, South America and California. The “wholesale destruction of ecosystems” will bring on the collapse of agriculture around much of the world. “Russia’s harsh cold will be a distant memory” as “temperatures in Europe will resemble the Middle East. … The Sahara will have crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and be working its way north into the heart of Spain and Portugal. … With food supplies crashing, humanity’s grip on its future will become ever more tentative.” Yet long before the temperature increase hits four degrees, the melting will have begun thawing the permafrost of the Arctic, releasing vast quantities of methane buried under the Arctic seas and the Siberian and North American tundra, accelerating GHG concentrations beyond any human power to stop runaway warming and sealing our fate as a species.(1) Continue reading
Note: The genetically engineered (GE) tree industry makes similarly lofty claims about their novel products, which so far are unproven. Attempts to breed poplars that can digest themselves on command in a processing plant, or pine trees that grow like gas stations haven’t done much for forests worldwide to date. Not to mention the enormous risks they pose if released into the wild. And while these fantasy technologies will hopefully fade into the past, another failed attempt at playing God with nature, it is more likely we’ll have to fight like our lives depend on it to stop the GE tree industry (among others) from wreaking total havoc.
-The GJEP Team
By Jonathan Latham, PhD, January 7, 2014. Source: Independent Science News
Good journalism examines its sources critically, it takes nothing at face value, places its topics in a historical context, and it values above all the public interest. Such journalism is, most people agree, essential to any equitable and open system of government. These statements about journalism are especially applicable to the science media. But while the media in general has recently taken much criticism, for trivialising news and other flaws, the science media has somehow escaped serious attention. This is unfortunate because no country in the world has a healthy science media.
This is science journalism?
According to the New York Times genetically engineered Xa21 rice was big news (Song et al 1995). In a 1995 article titled “Genetic Engineering Creates Rice Resistant to Destructive Blight”, journalist Sandra Blakeslee wrote it was:
“the first time that a disease-resistance gene has been put into rice”
Blakeslee then quoted a senior figure, Gary Toenissen, deputy director of agricultural sciences at the Rockefeller Institute in New York, as saying it heralded
“a new era in plant genetics and resistance breeding”.
But eighteen years after that artice was written, the failure of these predictions is clear. No commercial GMO rice of any kind exists, nor has Xa21 or any similar gene for disease resistance been developed for commercial purposes.
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, December 25, 2013
A Mapuche Indian leader who became the face of Chile’s environmental movement was found floating in a reservoir she spent a decade trying to prevent from being created, and the authorities said Wednesday that they were awaiting autopsy results although the death appeared accidental. The leader, Nicolesa Quintreman, 73, who was nearly blind, was found Tuesday, a day after she was reported missing. With her sister Berta, Ms. Quintreman became a national figure in Chile during protests against the construction of a hydroelectric dam on tribal land in the forested mountains of southern Chile.
Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Water, Women