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)
Ecoversity is a non-profit educational center which explores and demonstrates concepts of sustainable living, ecological design, and responsibility for the wise stewardship of the Earth.
Established in 1999 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Ecoversity focuses on practices and solutions designed to regenerate the Earth and revitalize the human spirit.
Naomi Klein at Rainforest Action Network receiving the Challenging-Business-as-Usual Award, speaking about the connection between the Occupy Wall St movement and the environmental and sustainability movement.
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)
May 23, 2011: Total losses from managed honey bee colonies nationwide were 30 percent from all causes for the 2010/2011 winter, according to the annual survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA). (report)
The Vanishing Bees: New UNEP Report
A new United Nations Environmental Program report lists several factors which converge to cause the sudden decline in bee health:
habitat destruction, invasive species (like the parasitic mite, Varroa destructor), air pollution, electromagnetic pollution, memory-damaging pesticides and other chemical pollution, industrial transport (where a million bees die each year), colony splitting, diet, monoculture farming, and a decline in flowering plants. (read more. . . )
Case Focus: Food Supply Jitters
Concerns were raised at Davos 2011 over the world's food supply. The American Advancement of Science just held a symposium on the effect of climate change on food supply. Commodity food prices have been spiking. And there is a growing realization that meat-eating is a big part of the food problem, as well as a big part of the problems of pollution and climate change. Where are we heading, and what can we do about it?
This case focus highlights video talks by some of the most engaging thinkers on these issues:
-Joel Salatin, author of Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front; Joel is a localization advocate, and is featured in Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and in the films Fresh and Food Inc.
-Jonathan Safran Foer:
Speaking about his book, Eating Animals
-Raj Patel, author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System speaking at the University of Central Florida
-International Slow Food Movement:
Wendell Berry, Carlo Petrini, Vendena Shiva, Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser, and Alice Waters discuss the current state of the Slow Food movement.
-How big a part does commodities speculation play in the recent price rises?
Paul Jay of The Real News Network hosts this discussion on food price increases and market speculation; with Jayati Gosh and Robert Pollin.
See Case Focus: Food Supply Jitters
Case Focus: Fracking for Gas "The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of "fracking", or hydraulic fracturing, has unlocked a 'Saudi Arabia of natural gas' just beneath us." - Josh Fox,
As Fracking Spreads, More Questions Raised
'Fracking' is short for 'hydraulic fracturing'. It's the latest technique for squeezing fossil fuel from it's last most difficult-of-access redoubts. Fracking is also the largest arena in which these extreme measures are poisoning people and the environment.
Fracking and it's dangers were brought to public attention last year by the reporting of Abrahm Lustgarten for ProPublica, the success of Josh Fox's award-winning documentary Gasland., and recently, Debra Anderson's Emmy Award winning documentary on fracking, "Split Estate". More than 800 earthquakes in Arkansas have caused fracking companies to suspend operations at two injection wells, and the New York Times is running a major investigative series on fracking. (read more:
Case Focus: Fracking for Gas)
Bulletin, July 5: France has banned fracking. France, believed to have some of the biggest natural reserves in Europe, is the first country in the world to pass an outright ban on the fracking procedure. (read more)
Bill McKibben at SFAI/Santa Fe Wednesday, Nov. 9th Bill McKibben will be speaking at the Lensic on November 9th in a fundraising event for the Santa Fe Arts Institute. Tickets are available through TicketsSantaFe.org.
More info at the SFAI.org website
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
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.