The Green Patriarch: Bartholomew
This is a powerful film on a true spiritual leader who fully grasps the significance of the current moment for the future of humanity and Creation, and who is working behind the scenes to change the way humanity relates to Earth and Nature. (watch The Green Patriarch)
E.O.Wilson: "The world is full of amateurs: gifted amateurs, devoted amateurs... Anybody can pick up information in interesting places, find new species or rediscover what was thought to be a vanished species, or some new biological fact about a species already known, and can provide that right into The Encyclopedia of Life."
NYTimes' David Pogue interview with E.O.Wilson: transcript
Watch a video about E.O. Wilson and the birth of the Encyclopedia of Life project.
Encyclopedia of Life Podcast: One Species at a Time
The Encyclopedia of Life has been growing rapidly since E.O.Wilson first imagined the project in 2003. It is indeed rapidly developing as the indispensable media-rich database of earth's species, with already 400,000 species pages, and growing numbers of contributors all over the world. There is now a new Learning and Education area where you can for instance develop your own multimedia regional field guides, or listen to and download the EoL's excellent series of podcasts, One Species at a Time.
In Defense of Food
Michael Pollan discusses his latest book, "In Defense of Food"- (watch videos)
Powershift 2011 Watch keynote speeches by Van Jones, Bill McKibben, Tim deChristopher, and Al Gore here.
Vanity Fair presents an exclusive collection of the most striking black and white photographs of African elephants by Cyril Christo and Marie Wilkinson, author-photographers of "Lost Africa" (2004) and "Walking Thunder" (2009).
You can also preview their next project, a documentary called "The Last Stand of the African Elephant" here.
Ecoversity is an open-source environmental website promoting ecological awareness, understanding, knowledge and responsibility. Ecoversity.org has over 2,000 active links and over 1,000 videos available with information on tools, practices and skills for sustainable living. Ecoversity's mission is educating the world for a healthy, prosperous and sustainable future for all of the biosphere. We welcome your input and participation.
White House announces a new review of Keystone XL pipeline, final decision in 2013 Above, Naomi Klein speaking at New School University Nov 11.
"We need to draw the connections between the logic that has decimated the infrastructure of this culture, and the way in which it is destroying the natural systems upon which all life depends. It is the same logic. These are not two simultaneous crises- they are the same crisis. And indeed it's the same logic of corporate greed that is foreclosing on people's homes and their dreams is also foreclosing on these young people's future because of climate change. That the same logic that has trashed the economy is trashing the planet; we need to be making these arguments." -Naomi Klein speaking at the Rainforest Action Network's award ceremony. (watch a clip of her RAN talk here)
Leading up to the White House decision, Bill McKibben makes the case on CountDown with Keith Olberman (above),
and at DemocracyNow.
Nov 10: The White House has announced that a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline will be delayed until 2013. Whether this is a low-key strategy to ultimately ditch the pipeline or whether Obama is worried about losing large portions of his green support in 2012 and will eventually approve the pipeline after the election remains to be seen. (coverage: LATimes)
The Keystone Victory
Mark Hertsgaard, November 16, 2011, The Nation
"Victories against climate change have been rare, so its vital to recognize them when they happen. The Obama administrations decision to delay the Keystone XL pipeline is one such victory arguably the most important achievement in the climate fight in North America in years."
Fire and Flood
As the Texas wildfire season hits the one-year mark with no end in sight, the month of October saw disastrous flooding in Thailand which killed 373 people, flooded a third of the country including the capital, Bangkok; while on the other side of the world, a week of torrential rains across Central America, fed by abnormally high ocean temperatures, triggered extreme floods and landslides that killed 105 people; parts of El Salvador got an 'astonishing' 5 feet of rain in 10 days. (view map in new window).
"Climate change is not something that is coming in the future, we are already suffering its effects", said Raul Artiga with the Central American Commission on Environment and Development (CCAD).
SREX IPCC: Special Report
Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation
"Climate change associated with human activity is responsible for a portion of the extreme weather patterns unfolding across the globe and will likely intensify in the decades ahead, says a report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Increased frequency of high temperature and precipitation are among the weather patterns changes the world can expect, the report warns."- NYTimes, Nov 19 View SREX report
Meanwhile, pipeline or not, new and costly efforts are vigorously underway to find more hydrocarbons to burn in the South China Sea, the Arctic circle, Siberia, Gulf of Mexico, Alaska. . .
Two Degrees of Disaster
"Two years ago, at a meeting in Copenhagen, world leaders agreed on the goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius, or roughly three and a half degrees Fahrenheit. The so-called Copenhagen Accord, which Barack Obama personally helped negotiate, contained no mechanism for meeting this goal, so even though the President called it a 'meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough', many others questioned whether it was worth the proverbial paper it was printed on. Unfortunately, it now seems, the many others had a point."
Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe, (2006), The New Yorker, Nov 11, 2011
IEA warns world headed for irreversible climate change in five years
"The world is likely to build so many fossil-fuelled power stations, energy-guzzling factories and inefficient buildings in the next five years that it will become impossible to hold global warming to safe levels, and the last chance of combating dangerous climate change will be "lost for ever", according to the most thorough analysis yet of world energy infrastructure."
International Energy Agency Report: Four degrees and beyond
Capitalism vs. the Climate
Naomi Klein November 9, 2011 The Nation.
". . . This uneasy silence has persisted through the end of the hottest decade in recorded history and yet another summer of freak natural disasters and record-breaking heat worldwide. Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry is rushing to make multibillion-dollar investments in new infrastructure to extract oil, natural gas and coal from some of the dirtiest and highest-risk sources on the continent (the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline being only the highest-profile example). In the Alberta tar sands, in the Beaufort Sea, in the gas fields of Pennsylvania and the coalfields of Wyoming and Montana, the industry is betting big that the climate movement is as good as dead.
"If the carbon these projects are poised to suck out is released into the atmosphere, the chance of triggering catastrophic climate change will increase dramatically (mining the oil in the Alberta tar sands alone, says NASAs James Hansen, would be 'essentially game over' for the climate)."
Nature is the 99%, too
"The economy is built on the idea of relentless growth, which is an environmental and health disaster for all but the 1%. . . Degrading the planet's operating systems to bolster the bottom line is foolish and reckless. It hurts us all. No less important, it's unfair. The 1 per cent profit, while the rest of us cough and cope."
Chip Ward writing at Tom Dispatch
Left: 9,000 daily temperature records broken in the US in July, 2011. Right: "exceptional" drought in the southwest
Heat and Drought, USA, 2011
Almost 9,000 daily records were broken or tied in July, including 2,755 highest maximum temperatures during the day, and more worryingly, from a climatological perspective, 6,171 highest nighttime lows. (Ref: Susan Kraemer, Clean Technica)
From July 2 to August 10, Dallas saw 40 straight days of temperatures at or above 100° (the record was 42 days in 1980). There were six days of record-breaking highs, with the hottest at 110°. Dallas set a new record for the all time warmest low temperature at 86°, and that mark was hit three times.
Temperatures reached a record-breaking 116° at Medicine Lodge, Kansas, breaking the old record of 114°.
Aridification In Progress
Robin Young of "Here and Now" interviews Alex Prud'homme, the author of "The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-First Century", on the coming water crisis, the current Southwest 'drought' (actually, it's part of a long-term 'aridification'), and what we might do to avoid the worst.
(listen to audio interview)
Prud'homme, writing in the NYTimes: "The great aridification of 2011 began last fall; now temperatures in many states have spiked to more than 100° for days at a stretch. Texas and New Mexico are drier than in any year on record . . ." Prud'homme, NYT: "Drought: A Creeping Disaster"
Richard Seagar of Columbia University's Earth Observatory:
"You can't really call it a drought because that implies a temporary change. The models show a progressive aridification. You don't say, 'The Sahara is in drought.' It's a desert. If the models are right, then the Southwest will face a permanent drying out."(ref)
Meanwhile record flooding in Montana has made the cleanup of a major oil spill in the Yellowstone River all the more difficult; the flooding may indeed have caused the rupture in the first place. Naomi Klein ties it all together in an LATimes article, "Climate Change and Disaster in Montana".
Update July 17: The ruptured Exxon pipeline was carrying Canadian tar sands oil. (story).
Climate of Denial- Can science and the truth withstand the merchants of poison? Extreme weather, climate change and denial; where we are now- A wide ranging survey by Al Gore in the July Rolling Stone Magazine (read article online here)
Climate Change: It's bad and getting worse Severe weather events are wracking the planet, and experts warn of even greater consequences to come. Dahr Jamail, June 20
What's worse, there seems to be vastly more effort going into finding yet more sources of fossil fuel than ramping up an alternative renewable energy infrastructure. This is a kind of self-destructive madness on the part of our civilization, since every ton of carbon injected into the atmosphere brings us that much closer to not only a warmer Earth, but a potential runaway greenhouse effect. James Hansen has said, "I've come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty."
But that seems to be precisely where we are heading- Here is Bill McKibben speaking with Chris Hedges:
"This year the Obama administration has to decide whether it will grant a permit or not for this giant pipeline to run from the tar sands of Alberta down to the refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. That is like a 1,500-mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the planet. We have to figure out how to keep that from happening. The Obama administration, very sadly, a couple of months ago opened 750 million tons of western coal under federal land for mining. That was a disgrace. But they still have to figure out how to get it to port so they can ship it to China, which is where the market for it is. We are trying hard to keep that from happening." (ref)
"This significant increase in CO2 emissions and the locking in of future emissions due to infrastructure investments represent a serious setback to our hopes of limiting the global rise in temperature to no more than 2°C." - Dr Fatih Birol, IEA Chief Economist (ref IEA)
Three Strikes and You're Hot:Time for Obama to Say No to the Fossil Fuel Wish List (Bill McKibben, June 2, 2011) The Great American Carbon BombIt's Yes or No For a Climate-Killing Oil Pipeline- and Obama Gets to Make the Call - Bill McKibben July 14, 2011
"If you could burn all the oil in those tar sands, you'd run the atmosphere's concentration of carbon dioxide from its current 390 parts per million (enough to cause the climate havoc we're currently seeing) to nearly 600 parts per million."- (Bill McKibben, July 14, 2011)
McKibben has organized Tar Sands Action: "We're planning a peaceful protest in Washington DC to defuse the largest carbon bomb in North America, from August 20th to September 3rd."
(TarSandsAction.org) Also see McKibben's carbon emissions website, 350.org
Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush
"In hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents, energy executives, industry lawyers, state geologists and market analysts voice skepticism about lofty forecasts and question whether companies are intentionally, and even illegally, overstating the productivity of their wells and the size of their reserves." . . . "The shale plays are just giant Ponzi schemes". . . (read more in the NYTimes Drilling Down series)
NB: At the end of May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that Germany would close all 17 nuclear power plants in the country by 2022, and set an example in achieving a transition to efficient and renewable energies.
"We believe that we, as a country, can be a pioneer for a new age of renewable energy sources." (ref)
Recent Developments in Religion and Ecology
A while back we posted an excerpt from a film about an inspiring man, the Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople. The 'Green Patriarch', as Bartholomew is known, has been working quietly for years to reawaken a sense of responsibility for Earth's nature within the Christian tradition. Here we look at some other voices in this field, notably the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology and the legacy of Thomas Berry. (see videos)
Fracking in New Mexico On the eve of the NM Oil and Gas commission meeting set for Nov 17, KSFR's Bill DuPuy reports on the fracking debate in New Mexico and legal and regulatory prospects; with Steve Henke of the Oil and Gas Association and Doug Miklejohn of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center. Listen to the program here. (read more about fracking:
Case Focus: Fracking for Gas)
Here Comes The Sun Paul Krugman, NYTimes Nov 7
"Lets face it: a large part of our political class, including essentially the entire G.O.P., is deeply invested in an energy sector dominated by fossil fuels, and actively hostile to alternatives. This political class will do everything it can to ensure subsidies for the extraction and use of fossil fuels, directly with taxpayers money and indirectly by letting the industry off the hook for environmental costs, while ridiculing technologies like solar.
So what you need to know is that nothing you hear from these people is true. Fracking is not a dream come true; solar is now cost-effective. Here comes the sun, if were willing to let it in."
Japan quake, tsunami, multiple meltdowns:
see our recent updates and resources here.
Alert: "Imprelis" herbicide "The recently approved herbicide called Imprelis [DuPont], widely used by landscapers because it was thought to be environmentally friendly, has emerged as the leading suspect in the deaths of thousands of Norway spruces, eastern white pines and other trees on lawns and golf courses across the country."(story NYTimes)
DeChristopher Sentence: 2 Yrs. "This is not going away. At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like. In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like. With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow. The choice you are making today is what side are you on." - Tim DeChristopher speaking to the court at his sentencing.
Read the complete statement at the Biomagic blog
Listen to Robert Davis of Grist discussing the sentence and implications with Sam Sedar:
Record Tornado Onslaught
500 dead; over one thousand tornadoes in April-May. Parts of Tuscaloosa Alabama and Joplin Missouri are leveled by F4 and F5 'multivortex' storms. This is the biggest tornado assault in three quarters of a century, and now there are lots of cellphones, so we have some amazing video: tornadoes: videos and updates