Papahanaumokuakea Expansion

SUBHEAD: Hawaii and international law recognizes and protects "Subsistence Fishing" not "Sustenance Fishing".

By Mililani Trask on 6 August 2016 in Island Breath -

Image above: Painting of traditional Hawaiian fishing by Herb Kane. From (

There was no mistake made by the Environmentalists, Isaac Harp or Marjorie Ziegler when it comes to "Subsistence fishing" for Hawaiians in the Monument.

We worked on this for years BEFORE the Monument was finally created in 2006. When discussions first arose the feds did not believe what fishermen and kupuna were saying about the necessity of including the traditional Hawaiian resource users/managers.

The Feds had no background in this area and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other federal agencies did not want to work with Western Pacific Regional Fisheries Council (WESPAC) and felt that the WESPAC was too local and Hawaiian oriented.

[IB Publisher's note: WESPAC is a subsidiary of NOAA, and NOAA is a subsidiary of the US Department of Commerce.]

I was at the United Nations at the time and had brought out some of the work we were doing at the UN on Traditional Knowledge and Resource Management with Indigenous Peoples.

Finally, the feds acknowledged they had no background and a hired a consultant to do an "unbiased" report on the "subsistence" issue for the Hawaii National Pacific Ocean Monument planning. They used the international criteria and worked closely with fishermen and kupuna.

The term "Subsistence" was used because this is how Hawaiians, the Hawaii State Constitution,  the rules of the Hawaiian Department of Land And Natural Resources and International law characterized the human right itself discussed always as "SUBSISTENCE FISHING".

The report was completed in March 2004. When the report came out, there was concern hat the authors had misrepresented what the Kupuna had said. The actual quotes from Kupuna did not support limiting subsistence rights to 'eating in the monument' but the report said it did.

The Kupuna had noted that unless subsistence fishing continued for Hawaiians, the traditional knowledge of fisheries and fishery management would be lost. They supported the ongoing practice of Hawaiians for gathering, worship, voyaging and fishing in the Monument in order to ensure the perpetuation of cultural management practices in the Monument

 The authors said there needed to be a new definition of 'subsistence' in the monument but promised that Hawaiians would be able to continue fishing to feed their families. This is when the idea of a Co-Op first emerged.

A few Captains had boats large enough to go up t the NWHI, and these captains were willing to support a Co-Op if someone could organize the distribution of food once the vessels returned.

OHA's staffer Heidi discussed this with me several times.  The other point that was contused in the report was the opposition to commercial fishing.

Even Uncle Buzzy felt that commercial fishing should be limited to wise management regimes, but Buzzy never support terminating commercial fishing altogether, he always supported the industry he said he was part of - but he wanted restrictions and limits to ensure there would be fish for Hawaii, Hawaiians & everyone else.

After the report came out, the NOAA formed their cultural adviser group - few fishermen & many hula dancers.

They continued to represent that our subsistence rights would be accommodated, it was bullshit.

When the final rules came out, they replaced "SUBSISTENCE" fishing with "SUSTENANCE" fishing.

[IB Publisher's note: In other words, the constitution of the state of Hawaii and international law recognizes and protects Hawaiian "SUBSISTENCE FISHING" not "SUSTENANCE FISHING".]

NOAA said that that the term "subsistence" had an established meaning legally, and they could not change the meaning legally so they decide to use the word "SUSTENANCE" instead.

This was ten years ago. I know. I was there. So was Isaac Harp and Ziegler. Check the record, its Isaac Harp (not me) who has been and still is on several of the Federal and State allegedly Hawaiian committees, as a cultural adviser.

Check the record, read the 2004 Report, stop the misrepresentations. This is a serious food security issue for our peoples and for our State. We have subsistence rights, Harp and Ziegler and the US are denying these rights.

The Environmentalists and their advisers thought it as a joke - that they had tricked the Hawaiians by changing the terminology. When the dust settled only they were laughing.

Everyone else saw it for what it was - a deliberate misrepresentation that operated to keep our Hawaiian fishermen from feeding their families and that would prevent the incorporation of Hawaiian indigenous knowledge into marine resource management.

And as you all can see..... its still at work.

Isaac Harp is now threatening to go to the big US Bully (GAO) to complain about WESPAC.

WESPAC has been attacked by PEW and the Washington environmentalists who have funded the local environmental groups for years on this issue.

Search all you want, I have never been paid by the US for my human rights work, including the Complaint to the UN against the US and World Heritage Committee (WHC) for the racism and human rights violations relating to the Marine Monument.

I am sure that the WESPAC fiscal officer will verify that Kitty Simmons (WESPAC director) is truthful as am I, the record reflects the opposite when it comes to others in this ongoing debate.

I urge everyone to inform themselves, read the reports and make an informed decision. This impacts our right to food and the preservation of traditional knowledge and cultural rights of our peoples.


Home Canning Techniques

SUBHEAD: This is a vintage food storage technique that our ancestors used - but is is safe? 

By Steve Coffman on 5  August 2016 for off the Grid News -

Image above: "Canned" vegetables in hermetically sealed glass jars for long term storage. From (

Canning food in the modern world is easy. We have well-made jars, proven methods developed over a century and a half of trial and error, and the ability to consistently put up safe, nourishing and delicious food.

Even a century ago, canning was a well-established science, regardless of if you used Mason jars with zinc lids and rubber lids, or jars with glass lids and wire bails that locked down tight over a rubber ring.

The end result was the same, even if the methods were quaint and old-fashioned today. But prior to our WWII-era metal bands and disposable lids, and prior to the old Lightning jars with wire bails or their competitors, and prior to the earliest Mason jars, there were other methods, and that’s what we are looking at today.

In 1858, John Landis Mason patented the basic screwtop canning jar. It used a zinc lid and a rubber band to provide an airtight seal, and with only minor modifications this method would remain unchanged until WWII.

Mason revolutionized home canning with his simple invention, as it brought the reliability of consistently made canning jars, lids and rings into the public sphere for the first time. Prior to that, our ancestors had all manner of ways to put food up in glass and crockery jars.

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In 1810, Nicolas Appert, a French inventor, worked out the idea of hermetically sealing food in jars after cooking it. His methods involved placing food in jars, corking it, sealing the cork with wax, wrapping the jar in cloth and then boiling it.

While science tells us now that the boiling of the jar essentially pasteurized it, Appert was unaware of the scientific reasons that ensured his method worked, only that it in fact worked.  He was the first to put up food in glass jars, and he thought it was the exclusion of air that preserved the food (he was half right; the other half was in the boiling).

But prior to his efforts, people were still storing food in jars and crocks. The most common methods involved cooking food with a high sugar content or pickling them. In either case, the final product was placed in glass or crockery jars, and sealed in some form or another with glass, crockery, wooden or metal lids, wax, cloth or paper.

Here we see the origins of canned food, but grossly lacking in the kind of processing that allows for safe, long-term storage. Such foods relied on their ingredients, being closed off from the air and stored in a cool dark place, and some of them are considered unsafe today.

The mid- to late-19th century was a boomtime for canning jars and canning technology. Before the Mason jar, we would see “wax sealers,” which used a glass lid and ring of hot wax to provide an airtight seal. This technology is echoed by modern homesteaders who may still use wax to seal jars of jams and jellies.

It should be cautioned that wax-sealing of any sort, with or without a lid, was not always successful when it was in vogue, and should not be practiced now; it’s impossible to tell if you’ve gotten a good seal, and it’s easy to break the seal. I remember eating jams put up in wax-sealed jars by my grandmother, but I’d be hard-pressed to do it today.

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Another common sort of jar was the “Lighting” or wire bail jar. Countless variations on this theme exist, ranging from the common sort we may know today to complex systems involving levers or even thumbscrews. All work on the same idea, though, of securely latching a glass lid over a rubber ring that has been sealed through boiling.

The harsh reality is until the 19th century, canning really didn’t exist, and food storage in jars, bottles and crocks was as much hit and miss, as accepting the fact you were stuck with heavily brined or sugared food. Modern concepts of sanitation did not exist, and stored foods were at a greater risk of loss through spoilage.

The current Mason jar, with its on-time use metal lid and reusable metal rings, represents the ultimate in home glass jar canning, and should be embraced with great vigor, due to the low cost, ease of use and proven sanitary track record. If you have older shoulder-seal jars like the old blue Ball jars, or wire bail seal jars, those are best left for decoration or dry storage, and given a gentle and loving retirement.

If you are looking to understand and practice home canning as done by our ancestors, then applying modern sanitary methods and storage, combined with well-made modern storage containers can be rewarding, but outside of an emergency, such methods should really only be practiced for entertainment. An exception could be argued in favor of certain pickling techniques, but those exceed the scope of this article.

Hundreds of companies made thousands of variations of canning jars through WWII, and many still survive today. They are a fascinating glimpse into a time in our nation’s history when self-reliance and sufficiency was an important part of many American’s lifestyles, and the ability to “put up” food for the winter could mean the difference between life and death.

Image above: Box of a dozen one quart Ball canning jars available on Kauai from Ace Hardware. age. From (

[IB Publisher's note: Mason style canning jars are available at many locations like supermarkets and hardware stores. On Kauai we have been buying boxes Ball brand half pint, pint quart and two quart jars and tops. Besides canning vegetables we have used these jars for years to store salt from Hanapepe Salt Pond without any corrosion on the inside of the caps.]

Canning Tomatoes 
SUBHEAD: What your grandmother might not have told you about canning tomatoes.

By Kathy Bernier  on 19 July 2016 for off the Grid News -

Image above: "Canned" tomatoes in glass jars. From original article.

It is never more gratifying to be a gardener than when luscious ripe tomatoes are rolling off the plants and into our kitchens. For most of us, though, there are often far more tomatoes than we can eat at the time. After slicing, sautéing, roasting, making salads and salsa, adding to pizza and ratatouille and grilled burgers, and filling the freezer with sauce, there is only option left.

It is time to can tomatoes.

People have been canning tomatoes for long enough that everyone and their great-grandmother—and I do mean that literally—has strong opinions on how it should be done. Some folks use strictly paste tomatoes, meaning only those varieties developed specifically for use in homemade sauces. Others use any varieties of tomatoes at all, from commercial or traditional to heirloom, in all shapes and sizes.

There is no single correct answer when it comes to the best tomato varieties for canning. The primary difference is that paste types usually have less water content and therefore require less reduction for sauces and ketchup. Taste, texture and personal preference are factors that matter.

The thing about canning tomatoes is that there are a lot of choices, not the least of which is whether to use a pressure canner or a boiling water bath canner. And the right answer to this question is that both methods are correct.

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This is unusual. For almost every other food, there is only one right choice. All vegetable, meats and seafood products need to be pressure-canned for safety. And while fruits can be processed using a pressure canner, it would diminish the quality of the product.

So why can tomatoes go either way? To explain, let me first talk about acid. The value of various foods are either very acidic—which registers very low numbers on the pH scale—or very neutral and registering very high pH numbers.

Almost all fruits range from 3.0 to 4.0 and are considered to be high acid. Vegetables range from 4.8 to 7.0 and are considered to be low acid.

And then there are tomatoes. The average tomato sits at 4.6, right on the cusp of high acid versus low acid. In this sentence, “average” is the key word. If the average is at 4.6, that means there are some varieties that are a tad more acidic, and a few—particularly some of the heirloom types—that are a little less acidic.

Therefore, the safety rule with tomatoes is to acidify them. By adding a little acidic content to every jar of canned tomatoes, we can be absolutely sure that they are adequately acid. Just a tablespoon of lemon juice or ¼ teaspoon of citric acid per pint of tomatoes does the trick. It is super easy, inexpensive and does not affect the taste of the finished product.

It may sound as if it is alright to skip the acidification step—adding the lemon juice or citric acid—if you are pressure canning, but that is not the case.

Acid needs to be added with both processes, and here is why: The directions and processing times for both canning methods have been tested using acidified tomatoes. If you do not use added acid, the processing times given may not be adequate.

Image above: Using the boiling technique to preserve tomatoes for long term storage. From original article.

The major difference in canning tomatoes using the boiling water bath method versus pressure canning is processing time.

For example, tomatoes packed in water take 40-50 minutes (depending upon the size of the jars) in a boiling water bath canner and only 10 minutes in a pressure canner.

Tomatoes with no added liquid take a whopping 85 minutes in a boiling water bath canner and 25 minutes in a pressure canner. With crushed tomatoes, there is a huge time difference as well—35 to 45 minutes versus 15 minutes.

However, there is more than just processing time to consider. Using a pressure canner involves 10 minutes of venting, several minutes to build pressure, and more time to depressurize after processing. When you add it up, the actual time differences are less dramatic.

So why use a pressure canner for tomatoes? Many people say it is about the quality of the finished food. Pressure canned tomatoes often have brighter colors and flavors, retaining more of that tart zing that only a fresh backyard tomato can pack.

Prepare now for surging food costs and empty grocery store shelves…

Either way, there are some basics to go by. Following is a synopsis, although complete step-by-step directions can be found either in Ball’s Blue Book Guide to Preserving, which can be purchased for under $10 at most stores, or accessed free online at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
  1. Peel tomatoes by dipping in scalding water until skin loosens, plunge in ice water to make them cool enough to handle, and pull skins off. Trim ends. Cut or crush as needed for recipe.
  2. Prepare your canner and heat the water to simmering.
  3. Add lemon juice or citric acid to each jar.
  4. Pack tomatoes according to recipe: crushed, whole or halved packed in water or tomato juice, or whole or halved with no liquid added. Add salt if desired.
  5. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims, and adjust lids to finger tight.
  6. Process in either boiling water bath canner or pressure canner, following times and procedures for the one you are using.
Processing times cannot safely be mixed and matched. It will not work to use pressure canning times in a boiling water bath canner, or to go with times given for whole tomatoes with added liquid for crushed tomatoes. If using the boiling water bath method for whole tomatoes, follow that recipe to the letter.

I have canned many tomatoes and have used very nearly all of the permutations—with liquid and without, whole and crushed, boiling water bath or pressure canner processed. I admit that I do not have a single go-to way of doing it. An hour and 25 minutes is a long process time, but once it’s boiling, I can set it and forget it. Pressure-canned tomatoes do seem a little tastier, but it is more of a multi-step process than a boiling water bath. Crushed tomatoes are easier to pack into jars, but require more prep work and yield a product that I tend to use less in recipes. Most years, I do a variety.

Even though it seems a little more complicated at the outset, tomatoes are the perfect food for canning and are just right for those who prefer a wide variety of methods. And as long as you use an approved recipe, there is no wrong way to can garden-fresh tomatoes.


Monsanto nearly destroyed Earth

SUBHEAD: How a Monsanto experimental genetically modified organism threatened all plants on Earth.

By Staff on 2 August 2016 for Tom Hartman Program -

Image above: Image Klebsiella planticola bacteria.  From (

On Friday, President Obama signed bill S.764 into law, dealing a major blow to the movement to require GMO labeling.

The new law, called the "Deny Americans the Right to Know" (DARK) Act by food safety groups, has at least three key parts in it that undermine Vermont's popular GMO labeling bill and make it nearly impossible for you and me to know what's in our food.

The law claims to set a federal labeling standard by requiring food producers to include either a QR bar code that can be scanned with a phone, or a 1-800 number that consumers can call to find out whether a product contains genetically modified ingredients.

But according to the Institute for Responsible Technology, this bill doesn't require most processed foods to have a label, the bill defines genetic engineering so narrowly that most GMOs on the market don't qualify, and the bill gives the USDA two more years to come up with "additional criteria" --  also known as "more loopholes."

This is disappointing for American consumers who honestly just want to know what their food contains, but the issue surrounding GMOs isn't just about what these companies are putting into our food and stocking our stores with.

What's potentially more devastating for the planet is that genetically modified organisms developed by companies like Monsanto and DuPont can escape into our ecosystems and potentially wreak havoc before they are even tested or approved as safe.

That's not wild-eyed conspiracy theory or speculation, it's a matter of fact.

On Friday, the same day that Obama signed the DARK Act, the US Department of Agriculture confirmed that a farmer found 22 experimental and unapproved wheat plants in one of his fields that had been genetically modified by Monsanto. The reactions to the finding have been swift, despite being ignored by the mainstream media.

Federal and state investigators announced that they are looking into the matter of how the unapproved mutant wheat found its way to a field that hasn't been planted since 2015.

South Korea, the fifth-largest market for US wheat, announced in response that it will be stepping up quarantine measures for milling and feed wheat shipments from the US in response.

Monsanto told The Associated Press that these wheat plants are a type that was evaluated in limited field trials in the Pacific Northwest from 1998 to 2001, but the variety was never approved.

Nonetheless, this is the third time in as many years that varieties of Monsanto's GMO Roundup-ready wheat has cropped up in the area.

In two of those cases, federal officials have no idea how the wheat got into the field or where else it might have spread to.

All we do know is that the USDA is testing the farmer's other fields to see if the wheat is growing anywhere else, and that the FDA has stated that there is no evidence that the wheat has entered the market.

Beyond that, we really don't know how this Round-up ready wheat will impact local ecosystems, whether it will wipe out non-GMO wheat, or whether it could bio-accumulate in the food chain and eventually have an impact on top predators, like humans.

That should set off some alarm bells, because we've dodged a similar bullet before with Klebsiella planticola, a soil bacteria that aggressively grows on plants' roots.

In the early 1990s, a European genetic engineering company was preparing to field test its genetically modified version of Klebsiella planticola, which it had tested in the lab and presumed to be safe. But if it weren't for the work of a team of independent scientists led by Dr. Elaine Ingham, that company could have literally killed every terrestrial plant on the planet.

The company's genetic engineers were trying to solve a simple problem faced by farmers all over the world: how to deal with crop residues like leftover corn and wheat stalks after harvest without burning fields and creating thick and dangerous smoke.

They figured that they could take a gene that leads to alcohol production from yeast and insert it into the bacteria Klebsiella planticola.

In the end, the scientists hoped that this simple modification could do three things at once: decompose the plant material without burning it, produce alcohol that could be used for gasoline or cooking, and create a sludge byproduct that would be rich in nitrogen, phosphorous, sulfur, magnesium and calcium to be used as fertilizer. As Dr. Elaine Ingham described it, it would be a win-win-win situation.

But when Dr. Ingham and her team tested the impact that the sludge would have on the ecological balance and the agricultural soil when they applied it as fertilizer, they found that wheat grown in the sludge died after about week. And as Dr. Ingham pointed out in a presentation in 1998, by modifying the Klebsiella planticola, they fundamentally changed what it does in the soil:
The parent bacterium makes a slime layer that helps it stick to the plant's roots. The engineered bacterium makes about 17 parts per million alcohol. What is the level of alcohol that is toxic to roots? About one part per million. The engineered bacterium makes the plants drunk, and kills them.
Klebsiella planticola is found in the root systems of every terrestrial plant on Earth, so if the modified bacterium were released into the wild, it would threaten every single terrestrial plant on the planet.

The story of Klebsiella planticola is a cautionary tale: part of why there is such staunch opposition to GMO products is that we really don't know what the long-lasting impacts on our planet's ecological balance could be.

Meanwhile, the companies that are developing GMOs care more about making money by getting their products to market -- and lobbying Congress to help them hide their products in plain sight -- than they do about the safety of consumers or the planet.

We need to overturn the DARK Act and implement clear nationwide GMO labeling standards that follow Vermont's, which were struck down by the DARK Act. And beyond that, we need to implement the precautionary principle here in the United States, so that companies like Monsanto and DuPont have to prove that their products are safe before they expose consumers and our natural ecosystems to their potentially highly toxic products.


To save the Post-Industrial town

SUBHEAD: Donald Trump pushes people's buttons in the failed small towns of America, but he is merely cultural heroin.

By Gracie Olmstead on 6 July 2016 for The American Conservative-

Image above: View of abandoned Main Street in Bridgewater, Iowa on 7/1/16. Photo by Dustin77a. From original article.

How do we save America’s dying towns? This is a question of increasing importance in today’s society: though some U.S. cities (such as Detroit) have experienced upheaval over the past several years, it’s post-industrial and rural towns that seem to be suffering most. Binyamin Applebaum illuminates many of these struggles in a July 4 New York Times story about a former factory town that’s fallen into decay:

Thirty years have passed, almost to the day, since the last blasts of the steel furnaces that were the reason for this city’s existence. The steel mill is gone — used to film “RoboCop,” then demolished. Most of the people are gone, too, and those who remain are struggling to find a new purpose for this place.

Last week, Donald J. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, came here to declare that as president, he would revive the fortunes of the American steel industry — and, by implication, Monessen.

“We are going to put American-produced steel back into the backbone of our country,” Mr. Trump told 200 invited guests at an aluminum recycling facility that occupies part of the old mill complex. “This alone will create massive numbers of jobs.”

In fact, about 71 percent of the steel used last year in the United States was made in the United States, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. The mills in Monessen and other cities along the Monongahela River were not replaced by Chinese factories but by smaller, more efficient factories in other parts of the country.

Having lived through that transition, the people here surrendered hope of a Trump-like revival long ago.
But that hasn’t stopped other similar towns from rallying behind Trump, in hopes that the nostalgic dream he presents of revivified commerce may, in fact, come true. J.D. Vance notes for The Atlantic that many of these places have been trampled, broken, and disenchanted: “A common thread among Trump’s faithful, even among those whose individual circumstances remain unspoiled, is that they hail from broken communities.” He continues,
These are places where good jobs are impossible to come by. Where people have lost their faith and abandoned the churches of their parents and grandparents. Where the death rates of poor white people go up even as the death rates of all other groups go down.

Where too many young people spend their days stoned instead of working and learning. … There is no group of people hurtling more quickly to social decay. No group of people fears the future more, dies with such frequency from heroin, and exposes its children to such significant domestic chaos.
This is something Kevin D. Williamson has written about for National Review in the past. He’s noted the “welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy” pulling these communities apart. “The culture of the white underclass in America is horrifying,” he says. “It’s brutal. And its products are obvious.”

Is this just the way America is going to progress (or more accurately, fall apart) in the next decade—or is there some way to breathe a vision and telos back into crumbling buildings and deserted downtowns?

Trump’s popularity stems from nostalgia for the strong blue-collar community of yesteryear. But in his excellent new book The Fractured Republic,  Yuval Levin points out that putting one’s hopes in reviving the past is romantic at best—disastrous at worst.

“Whatever the argument being advanced about America’s challenges in our politics in recent years, it is a pretty good bet that it has been rooted in an understanding of [a] lost era of American greatness,” he writes. For Democrats, it’s the Great Society years in 1960s America. For Republicans, it’s the golden years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

But regardless, Levin argues, people “are focused less on how we can build economic, cultural, and social capital in the twenty-first century than on how we can recover the capital we have used up.”

And that presents some very considerable problems for towns like Monessen or Middletown.
Levin suggests that we need “a modernized ethic of subsidiarity,” which would bring “incremental revival” to America’s broken communities.

 In a Tocquevillian appeal to the importance of local, mediating institutions, he suggests that deconsolidation and federalism would add substance and telos to the hollowed-out towns filling our country.

“A decentralized approach to social and economic policy would not only recognize the limits of our knowledge but also speak to the particular problems we now confront,” he writes. “It embodies not just an epistemic humility but also a commitment to subsidiarity—to empowering institutions at different levels of our society to address those problems for which they are best suited.”

But what sorts of institutions could possibly breathe life back into these communities? Here are a few Levin lists: families, schools, churches, local civic groups, nonprofits, charities, fraternal groups, and unions. Local libraries and community colleges can also play significant roles, and many local businesses have an institutional impact on their communities.

Levin’s overarching point, one that can’t be emphasized enough, is that nostalgia for midcentury America’s admitted strengths will not save the towns now suffering from a collapse of economic and cultural capital. Rather, an honest and clear-eyed understanding of the post-industrial trends rocking our nation—along with a healthy appreciation of the diversity and localism sprouting in their wake—will help us move forward in a healthy way.

We must also note the toll “brain drain”—especially brain drain of the young—has had on these communities. Something must be done to draw them back, if we want rural towns to survive. In a recent story for The Atlantic, author Alana Semuels writes, “Kids and grandkids move to the cities, coming back on holidays, inheriting their parents’ homes and leaving them empty, wondering what will happen to the towns their parents say used to thrive.”

Part of the problem seems to be a generational disconnect, re: what makes a place livable and appealing. As Applebaum notes in his New York Times piece, “[Monessen’s] younger residents are frustrated that the older generation still dreams of factories. They want to replace some of the old mills with waterfront homes and restaurants. They would like to see the city and the river meet, instead of being almost entirely separated by the old industrial strip.”

The suggestions made above are not radical—they actually seem to echo the work of New Urbanists (chronicled and considered at length here at TAC on our New Urbs blog). This vision attunes itself to pre-World War II urban development, eschewing some of the excesses of midcentury America (the time that most baby boomers in these communities are pining away for).

It calls for greater walkability, mixed-use neighborhoods, and vibrant parks and city squares where people can congregate, as well as a renovation and preservation of (as opposed to demolishing and replacing) the old buildings and blocks that make up historic districts and downtowns.

These are just some of the puzzle pieces that fit into a larger New Urbanist blueprint for revitalizing America’s cities.

But in Monessen, these young people haven’t made much leeway, says Applebaum: “Mr. Mavrakis, the mayor, has little patience for these dreams. A blunt and forceful man who spent much of his life as a union organizer, he would like to demolish much of the remaining downtown and offer the land for new development.”

Emphasizing the historic and human-scale neighborhood may take some time to catch on. But trying to spread this vision will help knit together some of the fraying threads that are damaging U.S. towns and communities.

Good urban planning will not, by itself, redeem a dying factory town. But it may help stimulate and foster the other important strands of community growth necessary for a flourishing place.

There are other ways we can consider saving America’s towns. One I have been mulling over lately is the role wealthy individuals can play by boosting local commerce via their patronage (providing microloans, sponsoring vocational programs, providing grants and endowments, et cetera).

I also wonder what recent trends and changes in agriculture might do to boost commerce and congregation in small towns and cities.

One thing’s for certain: there’s no cure-all, no single way to transform and resurrect towns like Monessen. And the belief that a presidential candidate (be he orange-haired or socialist) can solve all our societal ills will only serve to exacerbate the problems we face. As Vance puts it,
The great tragedy is that many of the problems Trump identifies are real, and so many of the hurts he exploits demand serious thought and measured action—from governments, yes, but also from community leaders and individuals.

Yet so long as people rely on that quick high, so long as wolves point their fingers at everyone but themselves, the nation delays a necessary reckoning. There is no self-reflection in the midst of a false euphoria. Trump is cultural heroin. He makes some feel better for a bit. But he cannot fix what ails them, and one day they’ll realize it.


Humpbacks rescue others from orcas

SUBHEAD: These whales rescue other species from hunting killer whale packs.

By Bryan Nelson on 30 July 2016 for Mother Nature Network -

Image above: A humpback whale breaches the ocean surface. From (

Humans might not be the only creatures that care about the welfare of other animals. Scientists are beginning to recognize a pattern in humpback whale behavior around the world, a seemingly intentional effort to rescue animals that are being hunted by killer whales.

Marine ecologist Robert Pitman observed a particularly dramatic example of this behavior back in 2009, while observing a pod of killer whales hunting a Weddell seal trapped on an ice floe off Antarctica.

The orcas were able to successfully knock the seal off the ice, and just as they were closing in for the kill, a magnificent humpback whale suddenly rose up out of the water beneath the seal.

This was no mere accident. In order to better protect the seal, the whale placed it safely on its upturned belly to keep it out of the water.

As the seal slipped down the whale's side, the humpback appeared to use its flippers to carefully help the seal back aboard. Finally, when the coast was clear, the seal was able to safely swim off to another, more secure ice floe.

Another event, involving a pair of humpback whales attempting to save a gray whale calf from a hunting pod of orcas after it had become separated from its mother, was captured by BBC filmmakers. You can watch the dramatic footage here:

Image above: From (

Perhaps the most stunning aspect of this behavior is that it's not just a few isolated incidents. Humpback whale rescue teams have been witnessed foiling killer whale hunts from Antarctica to the North Pacific. It's as if humpback whales everywhere are saying to killer whales: pick on someone your own size! It seems to be a global effort; an inherent feature of humpback whale behavior.

After witnessing one of these events himself back in 2009, Pitman was compelled to investigate further. He began collecting accounts of humpback whales interacting with orcas, and found nothing short of 115 documented interactions, reported by 54 different observers between 1951 and 2012. The details of this surprising survey can be found in the journal Marine Mammal Science.

In 89 percent of the recorded incidents, the humpbacks seemed to intervene only as the killer whales began their hunt, or when they were already engaged in a hunt. It seems clear from the data that the humpback whales are choosing to interact with the orcas specifically to interrupt their hunts. Among the animals that have been observed being rescued by humpback whales were California sea lions, ocean sunfish, harbor seals, and gray whales.

So the question is: Why are humpback whales doing this? Since the humpbacks seem to be risking their own well being to save animals of completely different species, it's hard to deny that this behavior seems altruistic.

There is also some reason to believe that the behavior isn't entirely selfless. Mature humpback whales are too large and too formidable to be hunted by orcas themselves, but their calves are vulnerable.

Orcas have been witnessed hunting humpback whale calves in much the same way that they hunt gray whale calves. So, by proactively foiling orca hunts, perhaps the humpbacks are hoping to make them think twice about messing with their own calves.

Then again, maybe it's just as simple as revenge. Even if it has more to do with revenge than altruism, though, the behavior would represent evidence of an intense and complicated emotional life among humpbacks that is unprecedented in the animal world, outside of primates.

One common feature among many humpback whale rescue efforts is that the humpbacks often work in pairs. Scientists will need to do more research into this behavior, though, to truly understand the significance of it.

Until then, these beautiful animals, which are perhaps best known for their majestic songs, have certainly earned some additional respect. They might just be the ocean's most ferocious and selfless first-responders.

Climate Change activists' failure

SUBHEAD: Climate change activists are going to have to demonstrate that they’re willing to take one for the team.

By John Michael Greer on 27 July 2016 for the Archdruid Report-

Image above: Demonstrators at COP21 in Paris in December of 2015.From (

As I write these words, much of North America is sweltering under near-tropical heat and humidity. Parts of the Middle East have set all-time high temperatures for the Old World, coming within a few degrees of Death Valley’s global record.

The melting of the Greenland ice cap has tripled in recent years, and reports from the arctic coast of Siberia describe vast swathes of tundra bubbling with methane as the permafrost underneath them melts in 80°F weather.

Far to the south, seawater pours through the streets of Miami Beach whenever a high tide coincides with an onshore wind; the slowing of the Gulf Stream, as the ocean’s deep water circulation slows to a crawl, is causing seawater to pile up off the Atlantic coast of the US, amplifying the effect of sea level rise.

All these things are harbingers of a profoundly troubled future. All of them were predicted, some in extensive detail, in the print and online literature of climate change activism over the last few decades. Not that long ago, huge protest marches and well-funded advocacy organizations demanded changes that would prevent these things  from happening, and politicians mouthed slogans about stopping global warming in its tracks.

Somehow, though, the marchers went off to do something else with their spare time, the advocacy organizations ended up preaching to a dwindling choir, and the politicians started using other slogans to distract the electorate.

The last gasp of climate change activism, the COP-21 conference in Paris late last year, resulted in a toothless agreement that binds no nation anywhere on earth to cut back on the torrents of greenhouse gases they’re currently pumping into the atmosphere.

The only commitments any nation was willing to make amounted to slowing, at some undetermined point in the future, the rate at which the production of greenhouse gas pollutants is increasing.

In the real world, meanwhile, enough greenhouse gases have already been dumped into the atmosphere to send the world’s climate reeling; sharp cuts in greenhouse gas output, leading to zero net increase in atmospheric CO2 and methane by 2050 or so, would still not have been enough to stop extensive flooding of coastal cities worldwide and drastic unpredictable changes in the rain belts that support agriculture and keep all seven billion of us alive.

The outcome of COP-21 simply means that we’re speeding toward even more severe climatic disasters with the pedal pressed not quite all the way to the floor.

Thus it’s not inappropriate to ask what happened to all the apparent political momentum the climate change movement had ten or fifteen years ago, and why a movement so apparently well organized, well funded, and backed by so large a scientific consensus failed so completely.

In my experience, at least, if you raise this question among climate change activists, the answer you’ll get is that there was a well-funded campaign that deployed disinformation against them.

So? Every movement for social change in human history has been confronted by well-funded vested interests that deployed disinformation against them.

Consider the struggle for same-sex marriage, which triumphed during the same years that saw climate change activism go down to defeat.  The disinformation deployed against same-sex marriage was epic in its scale as well as its raw dishonesty—do you recall the claims that ministers would be forced to perform gay weddings, and that letting same-sex couples marry would cause society to fall apart?

I do—and yet the movement for same-sex marriage brushed that aside and achieved its goal.

Blaming the failure of climate change activism entirely on the opposition, in other words, is a copout.

It’s also a way to avoid learning the lessons of failure—and here as elsewhere, those who ignore their history are condemned to repeat it.

Other movements for social change faced comparable opposition and overcame it, while climate change activism failed to do so; that’s the difference that needs to be discussed, and it leads inexorably to a consideration of the mistakes that were made by the movement.

The most important mistakes, to my mind, are these:

First, the climate change movement was largely led and directed by scientists, and as discussed here two weeks ago, people with a scientific education suck at politics.

Over and over again, the leaders of the climate change movement waved around their credentials and told everyone else what to do, in the fond delusion that that’s an adequate way to bring about political change.

Not so; too many people outside the scientific community have watched scientific opinion whirl around like a weathercock on too many issues; too many products labeled safe and effective by qualified scientists have been put on the market, and then turned out to be ineffective and unsafe; too many people simply don’t trust the guys in the white lab coats any more—and some of them have valid reasons for that lack of trust.

Thus a movement that based its entire political strategy on the prestige of science was hamstrung from the start.
Second, the climate change movement made the same mistake that the Remain side made in the recent Brexit vote in the UK, and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign seems to be making on this side of the pond: it formulated its campaign in purely negative terms.

David Cameron failed because he couldn’t talk about anything except how dreadful it would be if Britain left the EU, and Clinton’s campaign is failing because her supporters can’t talk about anything but the awfulness of Donald Trump.

In exactly the same way, the climate change movement spent all its time harping about the global catastrophes that were going to happen if they didn’t get their way, and never really got around to talking about anything else—and so it failed, too.

I’m not sure why this sort of strategy has become such a broken record in contemporary political life, because it simply doesn’t work. People have heard it so many times, if all you can talk about is how awful this or that or the other thing is, they will roll their eyes and walk away.

To win their interest, their enthusiasm, and their votes, you have to offer them something to look forward to.

That doesn’t mean you have to promise rainbows and jellybeans; you can promise them blood, toil, tears, and sweat; you can warn them of a long struggle ahead and call them to shared sacrifice, and they’ll eat it up—but there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel, something that doesn’t just amount to the indefinite continuation of a miserably unsatisfactory status quo.

The climate change movement never noticed that, and so people quickly got tired of the big bass drum going “doom, doom, doom,” all the time, and wandered away.

It didn’t have to be like that; the climate change movement could have front-and-centered the vision of a grand new era of green industry, with millions of new working-class jobs blossoming as America leapt ahead of the oh-so-twentieth-century fossil-fueled economies of other nations, but it apparently never occurred to anyone to do that.

Instead, the climate change movement did a really fine impression of a crowd of officious busybodies trotting out round after round of doleful jeremiads about the awful future that would swallow us up if we didn’t do what they said, and that did about as much good as it usually does.

Third, the climate change movement inflicted a disastrous own goal on itself by insisting that nobody with scientific credentials ever claimed that an ice age was imminent, when anybody over fifty whose memory is intact knows that that’s simply not true. Any of my readers who are minded to debate this point should get and read the following books from the 1970s and 1980s:

The Weather Machine by Nigel Calder, After the Ice by E.C. Pielou, and Ice Ages by Windsor Chorlton and the editors of Time Life Books. These were very popular in their time, and they’re all available on the used book market for a few bucks each, as the links I’ve just given demonstrate.

Nigel Calder was a respected science writer; E.C. Pielou is still the doyenne of Canadian field ecologists, and the third book was part of Time Life Book’s Planet Earth series, each volume of which was supervised by scientific experts in the relevant fields. All three books discuss the coming of a new ice age as the most likely future state of Earth’s climate.

While you’re at it, you might also pick up a couple of really good science fiction novels, The Winter of the World by Poul Anderson and The Time of the Great Freeze by Robert Silverberg. Anderson and Silverberg were major SF authors in the 1960s and 1970s, at a time when success in the genre depended on close attention to scientific fact, and both authors drew on what were then considered credible forecasts of an approaching ice age to ground their stories about the future.

If you’re going to insist, along the lines of George Orwell’s 1984, that Oceania has never been allied with Eurasia, you’d better make sure that nobody’s in a position to check. If they can, and they discover that you’re lying, your chance to convince them to trust you about anything else has just gone out the window once and for all.

That’s how a great many people responded to the climate change movement’s attempt to rewrite history and erase the ice age scare of the 1970s and 1980s.

Every time I’ve brought up this issue among climate change activists, they’ve responded by insisting that I must be a climate change denialist. That’s the fourth factor that’s contributed mightily to the crumpling of the climate change movement: the rise within that movement of a culture of intolerance in which dissent is demonized and asking questions about tactics and strategy is equated with disloyalty. I’m thinking here especially, though not only, of an embarrassing screed by climate change activist Naomi Oreskes, which insisted with a straight face that asking questions about whether renewables can replace fossil fuels is “a new form of climate denialism”.

As it happens, there are serious practical questions about whether anything—renewable or otherwise—can replace fossil fuels and still allow the inmates of today’s industrial societies to maintain their current lifestyles, but Oreskes doesn’t want to hear it: for her, loyalty to the cause demands blindness to the facts.

As a way to alienate potential allies and drive away existing supporters, that attitude’s hard to beat.
Stunning political naïveté, a purely negative campaign, a disastrous own goal through a constantly repeated and easily detected falsehood, and an internal culture of intolerance and demonization: those four factors would have been a heavy burden for any movement for social change, and any two of them would most likely have caused the failure of climate change activism all by themselves.

There was, however, another factor at work, and to my mind it was the most important of all.

To understand that fifth factor, it’s useful to return to a distinction I made here two weeks ago between facts, values, and interests. Facts are simply statements of what happened, what’s happening, and what will happen given X set of conditions—the things, in other words, that science is supposed to be about.

Whether or not anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are causing the global climate to spin out of control, whether or not books published in the 1970s and 1980s by reputable scientists and science writers predicted a coming ice age, whether or not the project of replacing fossil fuels with renewable resources faces serious difficulties—these are questions of fact.

Facts by themselves simply state a case. Values determine what we should do about them.

Consider the factual statement “unrestricted greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for an ongoing increase in weather-related disasters.” If the rate of weather-related disasters doesn’t concern you, that fact doesn’t require any action from you; it’s when you factor in “weather-related disasters ought to be minimized where possible,” which is a value judgment, that you can go on to “therefore we should cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

Not all value judgments are as uncontroversial as the one just named, but we can let that pass for now, because it’s the third element that’s at issue in the present case.

Beyond facts and values are interests: who benefits and who loses from any given public policy. If, let’s say, we decide that greenhouse gas emissions should be cut, the next step takes us squarely into the realm of interests.

Whose pocketbook gets raided to pay for the cuts? Whose lifestyle choices are inconvenienced by them? Whose jobs are eliminated because of them? The climate change movement has by and large treated these as irrelevant details, but they’re nothing of the kind. Politics is always about interests.

If you want your facts to be accepted and your values taken seriously, you need to be able to respond to people’s interests—to offer an arrangement whereby everybody gets something they need out of the deal, and no one side has to carry all the costs.

That, in turn, is exactly what the climate change movement has never gotten around to doing.

I’d like to suggest a thought experiment here, to show just how the costs and benefits offered by the climate change movement stacked up. Let’s imagine, for a moment, that there’s an industry in today’s industrial nations that churns out colossal amounts of greenhouse gases every single day.

It doesn’t produce anything necessary for human life or well-being; it’s simply a convenience, and one that, not that many decades ago, most people in the industrial world did without and never thought they’d need.

If it were to be shut down, sure, a certain number of people would lose their jobs, but most of the steps that have been urged by climate change activists would have that effect; other than that, and a certain amount of inconvenience for its current users, the only result would be a sharp decrease in the amount of carbon dioxide and certain other greenhouse gases being dumped into the atmosphere.

That being the case, shouldn’t climate change activists get to work right now to shut down that industry, and shouldn’t they start off by boycotting it themselves?

The industry in question actually exists. It’s the commercial air travel industry.

You may have noticed, dear reader, that nobody in the climate change movement has been out there protesting commercial air travel, and precious few of them are even willing to cut back on their flying time, even though commercial air travel a massive contributor to the problems the movement claims to be fighting.

I know of two scientists researching climate change who have pointed out that there’s something just a little bit hypocritical about flying all over the world on jetliners to attend conferences discussing how we all have to decrease our carbon footprint! Their colleagues, needless to say, haven’t listened.

Neither has the rest of the climate change movement; like Al Gore, who might as well be their poster child, they keep on racking up their frequent flyer miles.

On the other hand, climate change activists are eager to shut down coal mining. What’s the most significant difference between coal mining and commercial air travel? Coal mining provides wages for the working poor; commercial air travel provides amenities for the affluent.

The difference isn’t accidental, either. Across the board, the climate change movement has pushed for changes that will penalize people in what I’ve called the wage class, the majority of Americans who depend on an hourly wage for their income.

The movement has gone out of its way to avoid pushing for changes that will penalize people in what I’ve called the salary class, the affluent minority of Americans who bring home a monthly salary. That isn’t a minor point.

There’s the hard fact that, on average, the more money you make, the bigger your carbon footprint is—but there’s also a political issue, and it goes to the heart of the failure of the climate change movement.

I’ve had any number of well-meaning climate change activists ask me, in tones of baffled despair, why they can’t get ordinary Americans to take climate change seriously. My answer is not one they want to hear, because I tell them that it’s because well-meaning climate change activists don’t take climate change seriously.

If you don’t care enough about the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere to accept some inconveniences to your own lifestyle, how much do you actually care about it? That’s the kind of logic that ordinary Americans use all the time to judge whether someone is serious about a cause or simply grandstanding, and by and large, climate change activism fails that sniff test.

Ordinary Americans, furthermore, are all too used to seeing grandiose rhetoric deployed by the affluent to load yet another round of burdens onto ordinary Americans. It’s not the affluent, after all, who have been inconvenienced by the last thirty years of environmental regulations, trade treaties, or what have you.

To wage class Americans, anthropogenic climate change is just more of the same, another excuse to take jobs away from the working poor while sedulously avoiding anything that would inconvenience the middle and upper middle classes.

The only way climate change activists could have evaded that response from wage class Americans would have been to demonstrate that they were willing to carry some of the costs themselves—and that was exactly what they weren’t willing to do.

The bitter irony in all this, of course, is that the climate change movement was right about two very important things all along: treating the atmosphere as a gaseous sewer in which to dump wastes from our smokestacks and tailpipes was a really dumb idea, and the blowback from that idiocy is going to cost us—all of us—in blood.

Right now all three of the earth’s major ice caps—the Greenland, West Antarctic, and East Antarctic ice sheets—have tipped over into instability; climate belts are lurching drunkenly north and south, putting agriculture at risk in far more places than a crowded, hungry planet can afford; drought-kindled wildfires in the American and Canadian west and in Siberia are burning out of control...

And unless something significant changes, it’s just going to keep on getting worse, year after year, decade after decade, until every coastal city on the planet is under water, the western half of North America is as dry as the Sahara, glaciers and snowfall are distant memories, and famine, war, and disease have left the human population of the planet a good deal smaller than it is today.

That didn’t have to happen. It might still be possible to avoid the worst of it, if enough people who are concerned about climate change stop pretending that their own lifestyles aren’t part of the problem, stop saying “personal change isn’t enough” and pretending that this means personal change isn’t necessary, stop trying to push all the costs of change onto people who’ve taken it in the teeth for decades already, and show the only kind of leadership that actually counts—yes, that’s leadership by example.

It would probably help, too, if they stopped leaning so hard on the broken prestige of science, found a positive vision of the future to talk about now and then, backed away from trying to rewrite the recent past, and dropped the habit of demonizing honest disagreement.

Still, to my mind, the crucial thing is that the affluent liberals who dominate the climate change movement are going to have to demonstrate that they’re willing to take one for the team.

Will they? I’d love to be proved wrong, but I doubt it—and in that case we’re in for a very rough road in the centuries ahead.


Alaska climate collapse

SUBHEAD: The impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) across Alaska are devastating to witness.

By Dahr Jamail on 1 August 2016 for TruthOut -

Image above: Helicopters ferry water to drop on a wildfire just south of Anchorage, Alaska. Photo by Dahr Jamail. From (original article).

In late June, due to glaciers melting at unprecedented rates, the side of a mountain nearly a mile high in Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park, which had formerly been supported by glacial ice, collapsed completely. The landslide released over 100 million tons of rock, sending debris miles across a glacier beneath what was left of the mountain.

This is something that has been happening more often in recent years in the northernmost US state. While Alaska's local conservative media often tend to feign ignorance of the cause of such phenomena, what's causing it is all too clear. The state has been hitting and surpassing record temperatures over the last year, and the same can be said for the globe. It's plainly obvious why ice is melting at record rates.

To see more stories like this, visit "Planet or Profit?"

Mountains that have been largely covered by glaciers for eons are losing their ice cover and the soggy, unstable land underneath is giving way. The landslides are usually large enough to cause seismic tremors and sometimes, when close enough to the ocean, tsunamis.

Climate Disruption DispatchesAlso in June, Arctic sea ice had melted down to a record low, with 29,000 miles of it disappearing each day. By month's end, the sea ice was 100,000 square miles below the previous record for June -- set just six years ago -- and more than half-a-million square miles below the 1981-2010 long-term average, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Excepting March, every single month of this year thus far has set a new record low for ice cover in the Arctic.

To Alaskans, at least those who are not making a living off the oil industry that dominates the state's financial and political economies, the evidence before them is impossible to ignore.

I recently spoke with several young Alaskans from the Aleutian Island of Unalaska, and their worry, anger and fear about what they are witnessing did not take long to surface.

"I've lived in Unalaska all my life, and we are watching the climate change dramatically, and I talk to my friends all over Alaska and they tell me the permafrost is melting and their houses are melting into the ocean," 18-year-old Lynett Tham told Truthout. "I can't even understand the emotions they must feel, because their whole family histories are being erased. Yet people don't believe them... that is hard for me to get my head around."

Tham was referring to her frequent run-ins with ACD deniers, both in and outside of Alaska. She wonders how people can continue to refuse to see the facts, when the physical evidence of ACD is right in front of them.

"We are watching massive bird die-offs, the ocean water keeps heating up, there are less and less fish, and it's scary," she said. Tham plans to attend the University of Alaska to study public health next year. She spoke ever more quickly and intensely, now that someone was finally listening to her. "We're watching the seals go extinct, and every single year there is less and less snow."

Her 19-year-old friend Jeffrey Moore, also from Unalaska, sat with us.

"We've lived a subsistence lifestyle forever, and most people not from here just don't understand what that means," said Moore, who is a pre-med student at Eastern Washington University. "Growing up here, a lot of my family has always lived this way, living off the land and ocean. But it's getting harder and harder for them to do this. So it affects how we live, our lifestyle."

Like Tham, Moore says many of his peers are not paying attention to their rapidly changing planet.

"It's frustrating to experience this stuff first hand, and then [go] to college and meet folks who aren't even aware of this," he said. "I think the media is a big part of the problem, people just aren't paying attention because it's not in the news enough. I'm interested in climate change at my university, but there are a limited number of classes on it you can even take."

One of his favorite things to do when he lived in Juneau was to visit the Mendenhall Glacier, Moore said. "But, after visiting the Mendenhall over time and watching it melt more and more each year, that really moved me, seeing how much it's changing. And it's so small now, so tiny, and it's not going to be there much longer."

Moore couldn't be more right. The Mendenhall, which is an icon of Alaska's capital city, is now in record retreat and causing record flooding in the area.

Meanwhile, across the Bering Sea from Alaska, Russia's Yamal Peninsula in Siberia is also seeing its permafrost melting at a record pace with temperatures in the mid-80s of late. Stunningly, earlier this summer, temperatures across much of the Arctic reached the mid-80s for several days -- matching temperatures in the equatorial regions of the planet. One scientist said of the radical melting happening across the Arctic: "The extraordinary years have become the normal years."

In the US, Heat Records Have Become the Norm

Last June was the hottest on record and became the second June in a row to hit that record. May was the 13th month in a row for record-breaking planetary temperatures -- the longest stretch recorded since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began keeping records in 1880.

"What we've seen so far for the first six months of 2016 is really quite alarming," David Carlson, director of the World Meteorological Organization's Climate Research Program said recently. "This year suggests that the planet can warm up faster than we expected in a much shorter time…. We don't have as much time as we thought."

Earth is on track for another hottest year on record, Carlson said at a press briefing, and it's warming at a far faster rate than previously expected.

Like the last one, this summer has been full of record-high temperatures across Alaska, including in the state's largest city, Anchorage.

Smoke and scorched Earth from a recent wildfire that burned in South Anchorage and Alaska's Chugach State Park (Photo: Dahr Jamail)Smoke and scorched Earth from a recent wildfire that burned in South Anchorage and Alaska's Chugach State Park (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

A few days prior to this writing, a wildfire in south Anchorage snarled traffic along the Seward Highway, the one artery linking the state to the Kenai Peninsula and other locations south. I was traveling back to Anchorage from down south and smoke burned my eyes as I skirted the perimeter of the fire, which had grown rapidly enough that fire-jumpers from out of state had to be flown in to relieve weary Alaskan firefighters who had been battling the fire for several days.

For days, the smoke lingered around Anchorage, a city with a front-row seat to the dramatic impacts of ACD.

Smoke from a wildfire in Alaska filled dozens of square miles of Alaska's Turnagain Arm recently (Photo: Dahr Jamail)Smoke from a wildfire in Alaska filled dozens of square miles of Alaska's Turnagain Arm recently (Photo: Dahr Jamail)

This month's dispatch reveals the ever-quickening signs of a planet changing before our very eyes, in Alaska and beyond.


Several scientific studies of recent years, taken together, issue a stark warning for us: Forests around the world are becoming mass casualties to ACD. Millions of trees have died off across Europe, the US Southwest and California, and these die-offs have been tied directly to ACD. Scientists are warning that things will most assuredly continue to worsen.

In the Siberian Arctic, Russian scientists are finding what they refer to as "fountains of gas" -- massive amounts of methane and carbon dioxide bubbling up from beneath the tundra -- to the extent that it's causing the Arctic tundra to jiggle "like jelly," forming what's been referred to as "blisters" of heat-trapping gasses in the immediate atmosphere that contain shockingly high levels of CO2 and methane. According to a recent report in the Siberian Times, the areas are recording CO2 levels of 7,500 ppm (19 times our current atmospheric levels) and 375 ppm of methane (200 times current atmospheric levels).


From massive droughts to sea level rise and everything in between, ACD makes itself the most obvious in the watery realms of Earth.

In India, there has been a marked increase in violence and murders as people face growing water wars in the northern and central regions of the country, which have been afflicted by severe drought and record-breaking heat.

Meanwhile, as global sea levels continue to rise, New York City is planning on spending $3 billion to build a 10-foot high wall around lower Manhattan to protect it from storm surges and rising seas.

The UN warned again recently that at least two Pacific Ocean atolls and their corresponding island nations could be completely underwater "by 2050." This begs the question: Where will the residents go and who will finance the move?

In Australia, the chief investigator for the citizen science program, Coral Watch, reported recently that large sections of the Great Barrier Reef were suffering from "complete ecosystem collapse," as fish numbers are down dramatically and the coral is continuing to bleach well into the southern hemisphere's winter months.

A recent study showed that as oceans continue to warm around the globe, stronger currents are now releasing heat into larger storms. The researchers warn that this will increase the risk of destructive storms along the extremely heavily populated coastlines of Japan and China in the coming years, and beyond.

Another report revealed recently that, along a 100 km stretch of coastline in Nova Scotia, Canada, warming ocean temperatures have caused a nearly 100 percent decrease in kelp forests in just three decades.

As usual, native populations around the globe, who tend live much closer to the Earth than most people in the industrialized world, continue to experience the impacts of ACD most intensely.

For instance, in Bolivia, Lake Poopó has been erased, thanks to ACD, and with it, the indigenous group that depended upon it for its survival and its very identity. The majority of the Uru-Murato people have had to leave to look for work elsewhere and the lifestyle and culture the lake made possible for them is gone.

Another example of this displacement will soon be occurring in Alaska, where coastal villages in the north are imperiled by melting permafrost and receding coastlines. Eventually, they will have to be evacuated, though at the moment, they are actually experiencing increases in population.

Glacier National Park in Montana is also displaying dramatic signs of ACD's impact. The park used to contain 150 glaciers, and is now down to 25. Those that are left are shrinking rapidly, as evidenced by this moving National Geographic video essay, which shows before and after photos of the glaciers. The melting is happening so rapidly now that scientists who at first thought that taking photos and measurements of the retreating ice every two years would be too often, now understand that the two-year schedule is actually not frequent enough to keep up with the vanishing glaciers.

Furthermore, recent NASA imagery shows large ponds and streams forming atop the Greenland Ice Sheet, which is melting at a near-record pace due to unusually warm weather and early-season ice surges caused by rapid warming.


Wildfires across the northern hemisphere are continuing to increase in frequency, scope, and heat.

A scientific team that included a NASA member published a paper recently warning that an already parched Amazon rainforest is likely to see a record-setting wildfire season. Given that the Amazon is known as the "lungs of the planet," this does not bode well.

Experts have also stated, unequivocally, that wildfires burning across the western US, particularly in California, are being fueled by ACD-amplified factors, such as droughts, beetle infestations, winds and record-breaking heat.

The same is also happening in Canada, where the Fort McMurray wildfire earlier this summer became the most expensive natural disaster Canada has experienced with damages caused in excess of $3.6 billion.

Siberia has been ablaze throughout most of the summer and an area larger than the state of Maryland has already burned. "This year's forest fires are close to becoming one of the most devastating in recent Russian history," stated Greenpeace.

Records All Around

High temperature records continue to topple around the world as ACD progresses unchecked. In the US, nowhere is this more obvious than in Alaska, from where this dispatch was written.

For Alaska, 2016 has been full of records. It was the warmest year to date and the month of June, the warmest on record. To give you an idea of just how hot it has been up here: Deadhorse, located on the Arctic coast, saw a temperature of 85 degrees F on July 13, the same as New York City on that day. Needless to say, that was a record for Deadhorse. It was also the mildest temperature on record for Alaska for a location anywhere within 50 miles of the Arctic Ocean.

Overall, from January to June of this year, the average statewide temperature has been nine degrees F above average, beating the old record by 2.5 F, which is a staggering margin.

As the atmosphere continues to warm, it naturally holds even more water. This is making itself all too evident across China, where rainstorms this summer have left hundreds of people dead, displaced over one million people, and destroyed tens of thousands of homes and buildings.

Storms there have also generated record-breaking tornadoes, caused $7.7 billion in damage, and impacted at least 32 million people.

ACD is also causing cloud cover to shift more towards the poles, according to a recent study, which means that there will be less cloud cover during the day across the planet's mid-latitudes, causing even warmer temperatures.

The UN recently released a report showing that searing heat across the world will literally make it too hot for many people to work in the coming years. Loss of work hours during the hotter parts of the day will cost global economies over $2 trillion by 2030, and the losses will impact the poorer countries of the world the most.

Denial and Reality

As usual, there is never a dull moment on the denial and reality front of the climate dispatch.

The GOP policy towards ACD has been to move in the opposite direction of embracing reality. A recent report showed that in 2008, the GOP actually acknowledged that CO2 emissions exacerbated the negative impacts of ACD. Yet, the GOP platform this year does not, in any way, acknowledge the reality of ACD.

Indeed, if Donald Trump becomes the next US president, he will be the only national leader in the world to officially reject climate science (i.e. reality). It's important to note that even North Korea's Kim Jong-un accepts the reality of ACD.

A US survey carried out by the Guardian shows, clearly, the glaring omission of ACD from election year issues, despite the fact that more respondents felt that ACD was the most critical issue needing to be addressed.

Interestingly, a politically conservative businessman from North Carolina has pledged to spend a minimum of $5 million to back five Republican congressional candidates who have supported taking action to mitigate ACD.

Yet, while some discussion around mitigating, "addressing" and even "reversing" the impacts of ACD exists, a recently published study in the journal Nature shows that the window that was available within which it may have been possible to avoid a 1.5 degree Celsius global temperature increase has already closed.

Truthout reported in March that a study published in Nature Climate Change showed that the planet was already warming a stunning 50 times faster than when it came out of the last ice age.

"Bear in mind that 2 degrees Celsius is the arbitrary, politically agreed-upon warming limit, above which warming is considered "dangerous to humanity," Truthout reported in March. "Former NASA scientist James Hansen debunked that goal over two years ago, when he published a paper showing that 1 degree Celsius was the scientifically proven point of no return."

And, according to the 2016 edition of the EIA International Energy Outlook, projections predict that by the year 2040, fossil fuels will still have a grip on 78 percent of the world energy market, despite strides being made in renewable energy.

"Oil use is expected to grow in China by 57% between 2012 and 2040, and at a faster rate (131%!) in India," energy expert Michael Klare wrote recently for TomDispatch.

All we need to do is look clearly at the evidence before us today -- as temperature records break, cities hover on the brink of being swallowed by the ocean, and Arctic villages that are thousands of years old melt into the sea -- to see how far along we already are. And there is nothing to indicate that humans and governments will make the dramatic behavior alterations necessary to provide meaningful mitigation.

Meanwhile, young people like Lynett Tham watch in horror as the world they are being left to live in degrades dramatically before their eyes.

"Yesterday, we drove out to Summers Bay and there is garbage everywhere, there are people littering, just disregarding the earth," she said.

Tham's family, like most on the remote island where she lives, is there because of the fishing industry, so she is acutely aware of the fact that ocean life is in grave danger and already in a state of collapse.

She talks about how she used to go fishing with her father in one of the local bays each summer. They would walk to the river at the head of the bay where there were so many fish, they could catch them with their bare hands. Those fish have since disappeared.

"The fish just aren't there anymore," she said quietly.

Her friend Jeffrey Moore is having a similar experience.

"You used to be able to catch halibut off the shore here," he said, "but not anymore."

"The fishing industry is so important here," Tham continued. "This is why my family came here to work. My folks are here because of it; all my friends here are tied to it."

After a pause, she added:

"My childhood will be erased. Kids will never get to experience what I did because this place won't even be recognizable."