Permaculture in Hawaii

SUBHEAD: Permaculture works to keep the birds, insects, soil and surrounding nature content and ourselves fed.

By Juan Wilson on 26 April 2017 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2017/04/permaculture-in-hawaii.html)


Image above: We at IslandBreath have attempted to do permaculture. Photo from our backyard efforts at that we have named "Akea Aina".  Photo by Juan Wilson.

Akea Aina consists of about 1.5 acres of land - a third of it is our property, a third rented from the Robinson family and another third is on Hawaiian public land.

The photo above show haole koa ("false" koa) trees in foreground. They are early adopters in yards on Hanapepe Valley but few people have let haole koa grow so large as they are usually considered weed trees.

Haole koa are hard and heavy wood good for fires and are good nitrogen good fixers. They provide light shade that sun delicate plants can grow under. Beneath them are a row of cacao trees with fruit.

To the left and right of this photo are breadfruit trees and cassava. Beyond what you can see are beehives.

In the background, from the left is a starfruit tree, coconut, mango, papaya, avacado and more. That's only a small sample of what can be grown on a small farm.

Below is a brief video survey of permaculture efforts in Hawaii on various islands. By "permaculture" we mean intentional living arrangements on land that produces food and fertile land as a foundation of healthy local flora and fauna. This way of life means living "in nature".

That implies sustainable self sufficiency in food, soil, water and energy.      

Mokupuni o Hawaii
Introduction to the permaculture training programs offered at the  La'akea community on the Big Island, with teacher Tracy Matfin. Get a look at La'akea uses permaculture principles.

Video above: Permaculture Education Programs - La'akea, Hawaii in 2011. From (https://youtu.be/-XgpTaAfb7Q).

Mokupuni o Maui
Fruition Permaculture Design as he gives us a tour of Laulima Farm in lush Kipahulu, Maui, Hawaii. Jesse Krebs discusses the key permaculture design features of this beautiful tropical farm.

Video above: Fruit-based Veganic Permaculture on Maui in 2013. From (https://youtu.be/zG2JuTvq5e8).

Mokupuni o Molokai
SustAINAble Molokai and Geoff Lawton of the Permaculture Research Institute of America and  of PRI Australia, we now have strategies to heal the land by slowing the course of water.

Video above: Heal the land, Harvest water, Grow food security on Molokai in 2013. From (https://youtu.be/P2Lp8YmJaag).

Mokupuni o Oahu
Growing your own food and being self sufficient is one of the best ways to give power back to the people and live in harmony with nature.

Video above: Permaculture with Paul Izak in Hawaii on Oahu in 2012. From (https://youtu.be/_WHG3NJEq90).

Mokupuni o Kauai
Paul Massey, the Director Regeneration Botanical Gardens gives a concise definition of what Kauai Food Forest is all about.

Video above: Permaculture in Kauai Part 2 in 2013. From (https://youtu.be/5pJrw9QuCB0).

There is no doubt in our minds that these methods of "farming" are the way to go here in Hawaii. It works to keep the birds, insects, soil and surrounding nature content and ourselves fed.

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Executive Order pushes pesticides

SUBHEAD: We can’t allow the protections we depend on for clean water, clean air, and safe food to be gutted.

By Staff on 26 April 2017 for Center for Food Safety -
(http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/1881/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1370269)


Image above: Photo detail of can of Dow Chemical's chlorpyrifos pesticide distributed by David Gray Co. with warning: "This product is too hazardous for use by householders. Householders must not use this product in or around the home." From (http://www.fertilisersdirect.com.au/pco-chlorpyrifos-1l.html).

Supporter – The hits to our food, farms, and environment just keep coming.

Just hours ago, President Trump signed a new Executive Order, this time specifically on agriculture, directing the Secretary of Agriculture to undertake a 180-day review to “identify and eliminate" what Trump says are "unnecessary regulations”.1

The Presidential Order also creates a new task force to recommend eliminating food and agriculture legislation, policies, and regulations that might hinder the profit-making of “agribusiness.”

What kind of regulations are they looking at? Well, the details are slim, but what is there doesn’t look good. We know that regulations regarding the oversight, production, and export of genetically engineered crops are high on the list.2

The Executive Order also seems to push for faster and/or easier approvals for pesticides and biotech crops, pushing biotech crops abroad to ease export market access, easing the privatization of scarce public water resources for corporate gain, and opening public lands up to mining, farming, ranching and other activities that don’t belong on our public lands.3

We know that Agribusiness has Trump’s ear. He picked Sonny Perdue, one of Big Ag’s own, for his USDA Secretary.

And this week, the Associated Press dropped a bombshell:
Dow Chemical gave $1,000,000 to Trump’s inauguration fund, and the chemical giant is now urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set aside its findings on chlorpyrifos and three other pesticides that federal scientists from several agencies found were harmful to endangered species and human health.4
Trump’s EPA also just green-lighted Dow’s new “Enlist Duo” genetically engineered crops, resistant to 2,4-D, part of the Vietnam Era Agent Orange pesticide.

In January, then President-elect Trump sat down chemical giant Bayer’s CEO Werner Baumann and Monsanto’s CEO Hugh Grant at Trump Tower and had a “productive meeting” on “the future of the agriculture industry” and the pending merger between the two companies.

Combined, President Trump, EPA Administrator Pruitt, and newly confirmed USDA Secretary Perdue have received millions of dollars from Big Ag and chemical companies.

We can’t allow the protections we depend on for clean water, clean air, and safe food to be gutted by the new administration and the corporations which have purchased great influence over the President and his policies.

Trump needs to hear from you – add your name  to petition

1. http://www.nydailynews.com/newswires/news/national/latest-trump-aims-ease-farming-regulations-article-1.3099884
2. https://www.politicopro.com/tech/whiteboard/2017/04/perdue-to-chair-trumps-task-force-on-rural-america-086691
3. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/04/25/presidential-executive-order-promoting-agriculture-and-rural-prosperity
4. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/a29073ecef9b4841b2e6cca07202bb67/ap-exclusive-pesticide-maker-tries-scrap-risk-study

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The New American Despotism

SUBHEAD: The appropriate work to be done by civilization when faced with numbing retrenchment.

By Jeremy Leggett on 24 April 2017 for JeremyLeggett.net -
(http://www.jeremyleggett.net/2017/04/appropriate-civilization-versus-new-despotism-month-3-21st-march-20th-april-2017/)


Image above: Illustration of the Statue of Liberty being submerged. From (http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Fascism-is-looming-over-the-US-and-its-bad-news-for-the-Jews-454411).

1. Climate Action
Trump endeavours to dig a little coal
President Trump moved to dismantle President Obama’s climate legacy with an executive order that seeks to dismantle the Clean Power Plan. Within a week, 17 US states filed a legal challenge. China immediately pledged to uphold its Paris climate commitments, including considerable efforts not to use coal, accusing the US of “selfish” behavior.

The EU joined the pushback. Miguel Árias Cañete, the EU’s climate action commissioner, said: “The continued leadership of the EU, China and many other major economies is now more important than ever. When it comes to climate and the global clean energy transition, there cannot be vacuums, there can only be drivers, and we are committed to driving this agenda forward.”

Fine sentiments. But whereas China can point to policies consistent with its rhetoric, unfortunately the same cannot be said of much EU national policymaking, as things stand.

Among EU states, only Sweden, Germany and France are pursuing goals consistent with the Paris target of 40% cuts in carbon emissions by 2030, according to a study by Carbon Market Watch.

As ever, much will depend on industry, and one encouraging development this month was a pledge by Eurelectric, a trade body which represents 3,500 utilities with a combined value of over €200 billion, vowing no new investments in coal plants after 2020. Among the 28 EU countries, only Polish and Greek companies did not join the initiative.

2. Energy Transition
Fast, but not fast enough
Record new renewable power capacity was added in 2016, UNEP figures showed: 138 gigawatts of it, up 9% despite investment falling by a worrying 23%. Renewables now provide 11.3% of global electricity. New global solar capacity outpaced wind, IRENA reported, by 71 to 51 gigawatts.

Solar in California exceeded 50% of supply, for the first time ever, causing a net market oversupply resulting in a short interval of negative wholesale prices.

Costs of renewables keep falling. GTM Research predicts that solar will drop below two cents per kilowatt hour in 2017. Offshore wind is the latest renewable to defy predictions. EnBW and Dong won offshore wind tenders in the North Sea with the first subsidy-free bids.

Moody’s reported that wind is now cheaper to install new than coal is to operate in 58 power plants across 15 Midwestern states, at $20 a megawatt versus $30. Trump told a rally in Kentucky that “the miners are coming back”. But they aren’t. Not even top US coal boss Robert Murray expects that, in the face of real contemporary economics.

As for US renewables companies, they were professing this month that their industries will thrive even without the Clean Power Plan. Their confidence is rooted in record solar installation and above average wind installation in 2016, plus federally agreed tax credits that would be difficult for the Trump administration to dismantle.

The news was also broadly good for EVs this month, with Tesla meeting production targets and its shares soaring to an all time high, for a while making it the most valuable car company in America. Meanwhile Big Oil, facing predictions of significant demand destruction by EVs within just years, is struggling to break even.

Most of the oil majors didn’t even cover their costs in 2016, a Wall Street Journal analysis showed, despite a rising oil price. Some oil companies say American shale will help save them. But of the three main oil-producing shale belts, production has already peaked in two.

The oil industry loves to taunt its critics with the mantra that “peak oil is dead”. For some players, it is clearly not the case. Mexico’s proved oil reserves have declined by more than a third since 2013.

This month its National Hydrocarbons Commission country warned that the country will run out of oil in less than nine years if there are no new discoveries.

What an incentive fast oil depletion like that must be to build a clean-energy economy fast, never mind climate change. (More on this in my keynote to the MIREC renewables congress in Mexico City on 10th May).

And there are many other stand-out non-climate incentives around our troubled world, from air pollution to risk of stranded assets. But new figures showed that clean energy investment dropped 17% in the first quarter of 2017.

3. Tech for Good?
Evidence of effort
Advances in artificial intelligence and robotics outpace even those in clean energy, and continue to be used in many ways for the betterment of society. But evidence that they have profound downsides was everywhere this month.

YouTube and Google’s use of algorithms to automatically match ads with content is the basis for widespread criticism that they fed the spread of fake news in the crucial months running up to both the Brexit vote and Trump’s election, much of it orchestrated by a well organised nationalist-right dark-propaganda network.

The two companies ran into further, related, trouble, with big name advertisers boycotting them for posting ads next to racist and other offensive content. The boycotters included such diverse actors as AT&T, the BBC, the British government, PepsiCo, Starbucks, Verizon, and WalMart.

Google responded quickly, saying it was in a race to ramp up its AI capability to deal with the problem. But that is no easy task. Nobody has pulled off such a feat of megadata sifting before. As part of their effort, they have begun to use outside firms to verify ad standards.

They might want to hurry. The inventor of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, argues that concentration of power over information, such as Goggle and Facebook now possess, is dangerous for society. He is plotting, with others in the Decentralized Information Group at MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (CSAIL), means to decentralise control of data in his creation.

The threat AI and robotics pose to jobs becomes ever clearer. More than 10 million UK workers are at risk of being replaced within 15 years, PwC calculated, some 30% of the workforce. The IPPR estimates a similar figure: robots replacing 1 in 3 UK jobs over the next 20 years.

A report by the US National Bureau of Economic Research goes further, suggesting that large numbers of jobs have already been lost to robotics in America, and are unlikely to come back. Wages have been depressed in the process, they contend.

The question arises, then, as to how much this has been fueling populist rage, on both sides of the Atlantic, making it easier for nationalist demagogues to push their argument that “the other” – immigrants and anyone else who is not in what psychologists call their in-group – is entirely to blame.

Whatever the answer to that question about the past, the additional stress just around the corner will clearly pose a dire threat to social cohesion if nothing is done. The imperative for government and business to act is obvious.

4. Truth
Liars under growing scrutiny
As investigations into the conduct of the Trump election and the Brexit vote continue, it becomes ever clearer that the nationalist right is capable of extraordinary feats of voter manipulation.

A group of UK academics warned this month that dark money is a threat to the integrity of British elections. The Electoral Commission is investigating whether work by Cambridge Analytica, one data firm at the heart of the controversy, constitutes an undeclared donation from an impermissible foreign donor.

Cambridge Analytica is majority owned by the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, a major bankroller of Donald Trump. Steve Bannon, Trump’s head of strategy, has been a major player in the development of the company and its capabilities.

Filings of White House staffers’ interests this month show he has made millions shaping right-wing thought, via Cambridge Analytica and other organs.
The pushback unfolding against this fast-emerging Orwellian narrative is often extraordinary to behold.

The Los Angeles Times published a series of  essays by its editorial board this month. “Our Dishonest President”, the first was entitled. “Why Trump lies”, the second. They read like a science fiction novel of a dystopian future society. But they are about real-life America, today.

New arenas of corporate responsibility are being stimulated, unsurprisingly. Google announced it will begin to display fact-checking labels to show if news it purveys is true or false. Facebook gave a green light to its employees to protest against Trump on May 1st. Dramas build slowly in the courts as truth and lies compete. A judge rejected Trump’s defense against a claim he incited violence at one of his rallies.

5. Equality
Talk of cutting aid as famine rages
Meanwhile, though you would hardly know it from mainstream media coverage, we are in the midst of the gravest humanitarian crisis since 1945 – since the creation of the United Nations. 20 million people face starvation and famine in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria, the UN warns.

Drought has descended on Kenya, triggering violence as displaced peoples migrate.

Amid all this, populist nationalists continue to contend that aid budgets should be cut. The UK government, to its credit, is resisting this so far.

As for the considerable potential role of clean energy in building equality and alleviating poverty, an international gathering of the Sustainable Energy for All organisation in New York this month called for more urgent action on progress towards global energy goals.

In SolarAid, my colleagues and I could not agree more. Our work is based on the fact that if you burn oil in a kerosene lamp in Africa and it will cost you almost $80 a year, yet a solar lamp retailing at around $5 will give clean light for free, for 4 years.

So if you were one of the poorest people in Africa, which would you rather do? Save $70 a year to spend on food and other essentials, in a time of famine, or burn a fistful of ten dollar bills each year, and risk your health breathing the fumes? This should be an obvious starting point for a massive programme to free up local money for the necessities of poverty alleviation, SolarAid contends.

But sales of the most affordable of these lights are actually falling in Africa, and in fact the rest of the world too. In Malawi, for example, we are one of only a few organisations working to help. More on that subject, a microcosm of global challenges and opportunities in energy, in an e-mail in a week or so.

6. Reform of Capitalism
Graphic evidence of the need
The Bank of England has admitted to fearing, in the current febrile financial climate, that it may not be able to spot the next global crisis coming. Few who studied the forensics of the last one, and the response – or mostly lack thereof – can be surprised. There are obvious candidates for a trigger in the inflated stock market, and mountainous debt in car loans, credit cards, and mortgages. The Brexit gamble is also potentially on the list. The IMF professes that its unpredictable outcome poses a risk to global stability.

Given the fact that regulators regard another crisis as inevitable, and see an unreadable multiplicity of potential paths to it, who can realistically contend that the unbridled 21st century version of capitalism is anything close to a satisfactory way to run a global economy today?

Root-to-branch reform might take some mapping, but starting points are not too difficult to find. One involves the jailing of executives guilty of gross corruption. Until this starts happening, how there can be hope for wider reform, or the necessary adjustments of cultures? Shell offered up a perfect example this month.

The company is under investigation for one of the most corrupt deals in the history of the oil industry.  E-mails show that top executives handed a billion dollars to the Nigerian government, knowing it would be passed to a convicted money-launderer,  in return for a giant oilfield.

The CEO of the day, Peter Voser, knew of the deal. The current CEO, Ben van Buerden, described the evidence in e-mails as “really unhelpful”, but “just pub talk.”

One might hope that if the forces of the law cannot sort out behaviour of this kind, then investors might be queuing to punish a company as wide of the ethical mark as this using their money and governance power.

Not on recent evidence from Wall Street. The social media company Snap, owner of a popular photo exchange website, went public in February with investors queuing to pour cash into it.

This despite the twenty-something co-founders specifying that investors would have zero voting rights. Far from failing, in the exodus of financial custodians that this dangerous first-of-a-kind should have been faced with, Snap raised $3.4 billion and achieved a valuation of $19.7 billion.

What a gloomy precedent this now sets for the future. It raises the prospect, in principle, of a small cadre of almost unregulated and unconstrained tech billionaires calling the shots on how the AI and robotics innovations of the next few years are deployed.

We had better all hope, if this is the way investors and regulators allow events to unfold, that said billionaires, and investors in them, are not friends of the the populist nationalist right.

Yet the way financiers were lining up to engage with Marine Le Pen as the French Presidential election neared suggests we can far from rely on this.

7. Common Security
If you elect nationalist demagogues, you will be more likely to experience World War III
Let me be brief on this final point.

In the Trump administration’s handling of Syria and North Korea, where is there any evidence at all of basic statesmanship?

Of rudimentary strategy even?

Of any thought that there might be lessons to be learned in decades of diplomacy?

Ahead of the election, Trump seemed to grasp the inadvisability of poking a hornets nest with a stick, let alone many millions of dollars worth of cruise missiles. “Again, to our very foolish leader”, he tweeted at Obama (all in capital letters), “do not attack Syria – if you do many very bad things will happen.”

Suffice it to say that one particularly bad knee-jerk reaction from Trump and/or those he turns into his adversaries, and all bets are off on the balance of play I endeavour to summarise above.

A message for my senior grandson, if he made it this far in this blog. Sorry fella, I have been trying for a quarter century. But I and all the people like me have pretty much failed, to date. Hopefully there is some comfort in the thought that we are still trying.

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Gorillas in our midst

SUBHEAD: Two videos that feature the nature of gorilla and human contact in the jungle.

By Juan Wilson on 24 April 2017 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2017/04/gorillas-in-our-midst.html)


Image above: A family of apes spends some moments with a man. Still frame from 2011 video below.

Once and a while I just screw around on YouTube and find something that is for me compelling. By that I don't mean such categories as "Supertanker Disasters" of "World's Biggest Tsunamis"... although I have seen a share of those.

What I did find was friendly contact between wild gorillas and humans. It's not all poaching and hunting and eating them. It seems that a human can have a relationship with our cousins if we are willing to submit to their will.

Below are two examples:


Video above: December 2011 - a troop of gorillas come across a man and spend a few minutes with him. From (https://youtu.be/wBKW__IE6is).


Video above: July 2015 - a gorilla remembers a girl he had not seen for 12 years. From (https://youtu.be/Xarwk2d5Jm8).

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Continuing Fukushima Danger

SUBHEAD: Turkish Radio & Television update report on Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant catastrophe.

By Martin Stanford on 14 April 2017 for TRT World -
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMr3pBAPgLg)


Image above: The government has also spent more than $1.5 billion collecting radioactive soil and earth from the Fukushima area, which now sits in thousands of industrial-sized black plastic bags stacked five high on several sites.  Sill frame from Part I video below.

See video below for full report.

TRT World transcript excerpts (government-funded public broadcaster of Turkey), Apr 14, 2017:

Martin Stanford, host of ‘Insight’ Radiation Alert — a nuclear scientist tells us the cleanup at Japan’s Fukushima plant could take 100 years… The decommissioning process has barely begun… A British nuclear scientist who’s just come back from Fukushima has told this program it could take up to 100 years.

1:15 in – Dana Lewis, senior correspondent: In three years Tokyo will host the Summer Olympics, and ironically one of the commercial slogans asks ‘Is Japan cool?’

It would almost be funny if the situation wasn’t so serious. 150 miles from Tokyo is the Fukushima nuclear power station where the situation is not cool — it’s a super-heated atomic catastrophe ever since a powerful earthquake rattled Japan in 2011 a 15-metre tsunami engulfed Fukushima and caused three reactors to melt down and they still are.

1:45 in – Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear: It’s unknown where those cores are at… There is some possibility that it’s burrowed completely through the containment, and is sitting in groundwater.

2:30 in – Lewis: Deep inside Fukushima there is a molten mess… But exactly how deep are those cores? And that is a burning question. These close-up photographs show that it has burned through some of the containment structure and burrowed deep in the foundation of the reactor.

Until those cores can be retrieved, the radiation will keep spewing into groundwater and leaking — no one knows for sure where… Neil Hyatt is a professor of nuclear materials chemistry. [He's] back from touring Fukushima — well at least the storage areas… and he admits the situation will haunt Japan for generations.

3:45 in – Neil Hyatt, nuclear scientist: Somewhere between 40 and 100 years for the Fukushima cleanup and complete decommissioning is probably a reasonable estimate…

4:00 in – Lewis: But while they plan to get to those cores Tokyo Electric is struggling with a lethal radioactive dragon…

4:45 in – Hyatt: One concern is that there could be a resumption of the nuclear chain reaction…

7:00 in – Mark Whitby, engineer: This was an unprecedented accident, it was very close to being much worse than Chernobyl… It wasn’t so much the reactor cores which were melting – there was nothing they could do to to retrieve that situation.

The real problem was that one of the reactors had been recently taken offline, it had a fuel pond which was very hot, stacked with 20 years worth of fuel rods and that was beginning to boil dry… Had that fuel pond boiled, and Prime Minister Kan was very aware of this, this would have been 12 Chernobyls…


Video above: Turkish Radio & Television's "Insight: Fukushima Danger - Part I". From (https://youtu.be/hMr3pBAPgLg).



Video above: Turkish Radio & Television's "Insight: Fukushima Danger - Part II". From (https://youtu.be/ruk3X-4zs5k).

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than ever 2/5/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation on West Coast 1/13/17
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup cost to double 12/9/16 
Ea O Ka Aina: Tokyo damaged by nuclear pellet rain 9/24/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Power and Climate Failure 8/24/16 
Ea O Ka Aina: High radioactivity in Tokyo  8/22/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Blinders 8/18/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and Chernobyl 5/29/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation damages Japan 4/14/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima's Nuclear Nightmare 3/13/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Fifth Fukushima Anniversary 3/11/16
Green Road Jounral: Balls filled with Uranium, Plutonium 2/19/16 
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima impacts are ongoing 11/8/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Petroleum and Nuclear Coverups 10/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Contamination 10/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioactive floods damage Japan 9/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fir trees damaged by Fukushima 8/30/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan restarts a nuclear plant 8/11/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima disaster will continue 7/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Too many fish in the sea? 6/22/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima prefecture uninhabitable 6/6/15
Ea O Ka Aina: In case you've forgotten Fukushima 5/27/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Radiation damages top predator bird 4/24/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukshima die-offs occurring 4/17/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Impact Update 4/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima - the end of atomic power 3/13/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Where is the Fukushima Data? 2/21/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuku-Undo 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima MOX fuel crossed Pacific 2/4/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worst human disaster 1/26/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to kill Pacific Ocean 1/23/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan's Environmental Catastrophe 8/25/14

ENE NEws: Nuclear fuel found 15 miles from Tokyo 8/10/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Earthday TPP Fukushima RIMPAC 4/22/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Daiichi hot particles 5/30/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese radiation denial 5/12/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Entomb Fukushima Daiichi now 4/6/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Disaster 3 Years Old 4/3/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tsunami, Fukushima and Kauai 3/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Japanese contamination 2/16/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Bill for Fukushima monitoring 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco under reporting of radiation 2/9/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout in Alaska 1/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima engineer against nukes 1/17/14
Ea O Ka Aina: California to monitor ocean radiation 1/14/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Demystifying Fukushima Reactor #3 1/1/14
Ea O Ka Aina: US & Japan know criticality brewing 12/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Forever 12/17/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Brief radiation spike on Kauai 12/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: USS Ronald Reagan & Fukushima 12/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Pacific Impact 12/11/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Berkeley and Fukushima health risks 12/10/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Madness engulfs Japan 12/4/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Edo Japan and Fukushima Recovery 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reaction to Fukushima is Fascism 11/30/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Radioisotopes in the Northern Pacific 11/22/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima cleanup in critical phase 11/18/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fuel removal to start 11/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima, What me worry? 11/13/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Remove other Fukushina fuel 10/29/13
Ea O Ka Aina: End to Japanese Nuclear Power? 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima & Poisoned Fish 10/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fuel Danger at Fukushima 9/27/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Reactor #4 Spent Fuel Pool 9/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima is Not Going Away 9/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: X-Men like Ice Wall for Fukushima 9/3/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima House of Horrors 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Apocalypse 8/21/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radioactive Dust 8/20/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Cocooning Fukushima Daiichi 8/16/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima radiation coverup 8/12/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Leakage at Fukushima an emergency 8/5/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima burns on and on 7/26/13
Ea O Ka Aina: What the Fukashima? 7/24/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Spiking 7/15/13
Ea O Ka Aina: G20 Agenda Item #1 - Fix Fukushima 7/7/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima and hypothyroid in Hawaii 4/9/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan to release radioactive water 2/8/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima as Roshoman 1/14/13
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushia Radiation Report 10/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Fallout 9/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Unit 4 Danger 7/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima denial & extinction ethics 5/14/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima worse than Chernobyl 4/24/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima dangers continue 4/22/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima children condemned 3/8/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima fights chain reaction 2/7/12
Ea O Ka Aina: Tepco faking Fukushima fix 12/24/11
Ea O Ka Aina: The Non Battle for Fukushima 11/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Debris nears Midway 10/14/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Radiation Danger 7/10/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Abandoned 9/28/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Deadly Radiation at Fukushima 8/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima poisons Japanese food 7/25/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Black Rain in Japan 7/22/11
Ea O Ka Aina: UK PR downplays Fukushima 7/1/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima #2 & #3 meltdown 5/17/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima sustained chain reaction 5/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Ocean Radioactivity in Fukushima 4/16/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Japan raises nuclear disaster level 4/12/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima No Go Zone Expanding 4/11/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima to be Decommissioned 4/8/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Poisons Fish 4/6/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Learning from Fukushima 4/4/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Leak goes Unplugged 4/3/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Stick a fork in it - It's done! 4/2/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima reactors reach criticality 3/31/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Non-Containment 3/30/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Meltdown 3/29/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Fukushima Water Blessing & Curse 3/28/11

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Ready, Set, Splat!

SUBHEAD: If the credit-worthiness of France takes a wrong turn, it will upset the global currency system.

By James Kunstler on 24 April 2017 for Kunstler.com-
(http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/ready-set-splat/)


Image above: Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron were big winners in first round of French election for presidency. From (https://en.news-front.info/2017/02/05/french-elections-le-pen-and-macron-rally-supporters/).

As I write, the French stock market (the CAC 40), is doing a grand jeté (up 4.5 percent!) in celebration of Emmanuel Macron’s assumed slaying of the dragon Le Pen. But that was just the first round under the interesting French election system.

Consider that two other candidates who were eliminated, Monsieurs Fillon and Mélenchon, got nearly 40 percent of the vote. Are we so sure about where their voters go in the second and final round two weeks from now?

I suspect that most Americans — even the ones who follow Rachel Maddow — are about as interested in French politics as differential calculus.

Macron, 36, is a blank slate.

He was finance minister under current president François Hollande, of the Socialist Party, but declared during the election campaign that he’s not a socialist, he only wanted to be of service to his country, and this time he ran under his own party, En Marche!

He appears to represent the continuation of business-as-usual with the European Union, which seems to put him on the wrong side of history at this crucial moment — if you suppose, as I do, that the EU is so riddled with hopeless financial contradictions and centrifugal political tensions that it is unlikely to persist.

Yet, understandably, people are reluctant to change the system they’re living under. Le Pen wants to blow the EU up, especially the bureaucracy lodged in Brussels that has become a self-serving and self perpetuating monster.

Blowing up the EU would necessarily, it seems, mean the end of the European Central Bank, and with it the scams and Ponzi schemes that have provided an appearance of normality, despite an official 10.5 percent unemployment rate in France and a constant chain of public massacres by resident Jihadistas of one sort or another, some of them perpetrated by radical refugees allowed in under EU policy.

Macron might serve the interests of the American Deep State, which is determined to drive a wedge between Europe and the Chinese-Russian-Iranian “silk road” economic bloc that would consolidate trade in the Eastern Hemisphere.

The US wants “the West” to remain what it had been for seventy years: the dominant posse. Even if the underlying conditions remained the same, this might not be possible.

But those underlying conditions are changing, and in ways that much of the political maneuvering across the

West cannot alter, or even comprehend, for instance, the inability of these mature industrial economies to grow anymore. That is largely a function of the end of affordable energy.

Unfortunately, the absence of growth portends not stagnation but collapse as society fails to generate enough new wealth to pay its debts.

Now, we’ve seen a pretty impressive demonstration of advanced nations playing financial games to cover up this corrosive condition. But the dishonesty at work is pretty obvious, and the problem with dishonesty in financial affairs is that it represents unreality.

The accrued momentum in colossal sums of money flowing this way and that way has allowed unreality to reign in international finance for a while. But that is now flying apart. The ultimate reality, politicians and economists will soon discover, is that you can’t create your own reality.

So whatever you think now about the French election, or the fate of the EU, is liable to change as the great debt crack-up our time finally gets underway and suddenly every nation has to scramble desperately to keep its shit together.

That magic moment may be at hand this week as the US congress returns from Easter recess to face its budget and debt ceiling dilemmas.

If the credit-worthiness of this country takes a wrong turn, it will upset the global currency system.

In fact, it will rip a hole in financial time-and-space into which the presumed value of all sorts of things represented on paper and computer drives will disappear, never to be seen again.

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Nuke waste with nowhere to go

SOURCE: Katherine Muzik PHD (kmuzik@gmail.com)
SUBHEAD: Nevada says "Not in My Back Yard" on Trump revival of Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump.

By Julia Travers on 23 April 2017 for Truth Out -
(http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40278-nevada-says-not-in-my-back-yard-on-trump-revival-of-yucca-mountain-nuclear-waste-dump)


Image above: Aerial view of rdge line of the geological formation in Yucca Mountain proposed as site for America's nuclear waste storage. There is no current operational site in the country since the WIPP facility experienced a meltdown in 2014 that produced a plume of plutonium waste over New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. From  (http://www.hcn.org/articles/is-yucca-mountain-back-on-the-table).

The underground Exploratory Studies Facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada built by the Department of Energy to determine whether the location was suitable as a deep geological nuclear waste repository. Courtesy of the Department of Energy.

President Trump's preliminary 2018 budget proposal was released in March and along with many cuts to environmental programs, it includes $120 million to restart licensing operations for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository (Yucca Mountain).

This currently unused underground facility in Nevada has been in contention since the 80s and was strongly opposed during the Obama Administration by both the President and then Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). While Reid pronounced Yucca Mountain dead in 2016, the new administration has big plans for the abandoned project.

Yucca Mountain consists of a five-mile-long tunnel that was drilled 1,000 feet deep in 1994, into a volcanic structure located 100 miles from Las Vegas.

Theoretically, nuclear waste would be stored inside rooms along the tunnel -- the idea being to isolate it from the surrounding environment for hundreds of thousands of years with the use of titanium shielding.

Nevada officials have put up strong resistance to the nuclear storage facility, dating back to its inception in 1987. The state has filed over 200 contentions against the application, encompassing a wide range of issues from legal concerns to volcanic hazard estimates, corrosion and toxic contamination risks.

In 1982, President Reagan signed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, which called for the establishment of nuclear waste disposal dumps.

The Department of Energy (DOE) was tasked with carrying out site assessments but, according to The Atlantic, "politicians didn't want to pay for the expensive and lengthy technical assessments of all the potential sites," and amended the Act to designate Nevada's Yucca Mountain as the one permanent storage location in 1987.

The initial goal was to keep the waste contained at Yucca Mountain for at least 10,000 years.

"Yucca Mountain was never a scientific selection, it was a political one," nuclear industry expert and former nuclear engineer, executive and whistleblower Arnold "Arnie" Gundersen told EnviroNews.

"When the Yucca Mountain bill was passed, it was called the 'Screw Nevada Bill.'

To revive Yucca is to ignore science. We have a nuclear waste problem that needs to be -- in fact must be solved, and if done wrong can contaminate the environment for 250,000 years. Let's have a scientific process that leads us to the best alternative, not a political mandate," Gundersen continued.

In 1997, the US Government began heating and burying metal containers in the rocks at Yucca Mountain in an effort to simulate and study radioactive waste. Gundersen stated Yucca Mountain has been proven to have an underground water and waste seepage issue.

Examples of studies of the rates of seepage at Yucca Mountain and how they are affected by temperature, time, geology and precipitation can be found on the US Department of the Interior and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory websites.

The State of Nevada's Nuclear Waste Project Office states because Yucca Mountain is "geologically and hydrologically active and complex," it is unsafe for the disposal of radioactive substances, which "could leak from the dump and create serious long-term health risks to the citizens of Nevada."

In 2004, the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. ruled the DOE would have to prove it could keep the waste contained for hundreds of thousands of years, not tens of thousands, as originally proposed.

In 2008, the DOE submitted a license application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to store high-level waste at Yucca Mountain. But in 2010, the DOE shut down the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, which had run Yucca Mountain, effectively shelving the project.

In 2014, the NRC ruled Yucca Mountain could safely assure the isolation of nuclear materials over the long-term and was safe to use. Trump now proposes to supply an initial $120 million to restart the licensing process for Yucca Mountain.

The LA Times reports the full establishment of the Yucca Mountain facility has an estimated total cost of $100 billion, rivaling the price tag of the International Space Station.

Much of this lofty budget is attributed to the potential construction of hundreds of miles of railroad tracks to carry the waste from all over the country, protective titanium shields and specialized underground robots that can handle the waste.

"Republican, Democrat, independent -- there is enormous opposition to Yucca Mountain," Robert Halstead, Executive Director of Nevada's Agency for Nuclear Projects, told The Atlantic. The state is currently preparing a new slew of contentions to the project.

"The first thing we're going to do is go back to court and sue them over the radiation protection standard," he added. The article explains that critics of this facility worry the groundwater could corrode storage containers and cause a radioactive leak.


Image above: Diagram of Yucca Mountain tunnel with possible radioactive waste in tunnel on site. From (http://ethangreenapes.weebly.com/yucca-mountain.html).

In late March, DOE Secretary Rick Perry visited Yucca Mountain and met with Nevada's Republican Governor, Brian Sandoval. According to CNBC, Sandoval said, "The storage of high-level waste at Yucca Mountain is not something I am willing to consider."

In a DOE statement, Perry acknowledged Sandoval's opposition and also said, "today's meeting with Gov. Sandoval was the first step in a process that will involve talking with many federal, state, local and commercial stakeholders."

Nevada officials who oppose Yucca Mountain cite concerns over radioactive spills or leaks and the toll that could take on Las Vegas' tourism industry (not to mention public and environmental health). E&E News points out the possible impact on the tourism industry brings up a potential concern and conflict of interest for Trump, who co-owns Trump International Hotel Las Vegas with billionaire businessman Phil Ruffin.

"Clearly if there was a nuclear accident, Trump's hotel would be impacted, as would others along the Strip," said former Sen. Richard Bryan (D-NV), who is now Chairman of the state's Commission on Nuclear Projects.

In contrast, local officials in Nye County, where the facility would be located, are more supportive of Yucca Mountain as a jobs-creator. Dan Schinhofen, Chairman of the county's Board of Commissioners, wrote to Republican Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois, a supporter of Yucca Mountain, and characterized the threats to Trump's hotel as "misinformation."

Schinhofen also says Nye County hopes to be considered for an interim storage facility site as well, saying they already have a 1,280-acre location in mind. Developing an interim-storage facility while Yucca Mountain is prepared is another ongoing debated issue.

The DOE explains there are 61 commercially operating nuclear power plants with 99 nuclear reactors in the US, with four more reactors currently being constructed. Current nuclear utilities have 79,000 metric tons of spent fuel in reserve and produce 2,000 more annually, the LA Times reports.

The LA Times also explained the nation's nuclear utilities have long been paying fees for waste storage services that the DOE has not provided. That fund now totals about $36 billion.

Nuclear utilities have won $6.1 billion in settlements to date regarding this failure on behalf of the DOE.

Shimkus states, "Without Yucca Mountain, DOE will not be able to meet its disposal commitments to Colorado, Idaho, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington." Yucca Mountain's current legal waste limit is 70,000 tons.

At present, nuclear waste is most commonly stored in tanks, casks, drums and water-cooled pools. Many facilities and containers in use are not designed for long-term storage. For example, the Hanford site in Washington is well-known for its toxic leaking tanks, the cleanup of which is expected to take another 50 years and cost $110 billion. In 2014, a drum of radioactive waste exploded at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, which serves as a dump for waste from nuclear weapons production.

The LA Times shared in 2016, "Thousands of tons of radioactive waste that were headed for [WIPP] are backed up in Idaho, Washington, New Mexico and elsewhere," including at the Hanford site.

Cooling pools are not an ideal solution either. In 2011 an earthquake in Japan knocked out power to the cooling pumps at the Fukushima Daiichi power station, which resulted in meltdowns in three nuclear reactors. The environmental effects are far reaching and still evolving today.

Dealing with nuclear waste is a mounting concern and while there have been some isolated useful applications and solutions found, many of them are not viable over the long term or intended for extensive deployment. For example, in 2016, British scientists turned nuclear waste into long-lasting nuclear diamond batteries for potential use in space travel, but this option is costly and not scalable.

Gundersen explained that vitrification, another possibility that has been explored, is "a process that adds chemicals to the waste, which is then heated into a glass like substance." But, he says it shows "no evidence that 100 years from now the material will not break down and leak into groundwater anyway!"

In 2001, the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council wrote in Disposition of High-Level Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel, "After four decades of study, geological disposal remains the only scientifically and technically credible long-term solution available."

"Deep geologic disposal is the only alternative, in an area proven to be free of water," concludes Gundersen. "Yucca has water seeping in, and has been proven to let waste seep out in a short period of time."


Image above: The underground Exploratory Studies Facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada built by the Department of Energy to determine whether the location was suitable as a deep geological nuclear waste repository. Courtesy of the Department of Energy. From (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yucca_Mountain_tunnel.jpg).

• Julia Travers is a journalist and author. She holds a BA in Literary and Cultural Studies from The College of William and Mary and a BFA in Art Education from Virginia Commonwealth University.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Power Zombies 5/12/16
Ea O Ka Aina: Nuclear Wasteland 8/6/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors 9/25/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Worse than you think 5/21/14
Ea O Ka Aina: The false science of science 9/2/14
Ea O Ka Aina: Ginger Beer Recipe 3/24/14
Ea O Ka Aina: WIPP radiation release timeline 3/3/14
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Is the President mentally fit?

SUBHEAD: Psychiatrists at Yale warn that there is something seriously wrong with Donald Trump.

By Staff on 21 April 2017 for Anti-Media -
(http://theantimedia.org/psychiatrists-yale-warned-trump/)


Image above: Mashup illustration of Donald Trump in straght-jacket in padded room. From original article.
“I’ve worked with murderers and rapists. I can recognize dangerousness from a mile away. You don’t have to be an expert on dangerousness or spend fifty years studying it like I have in order to know how dangerous this man is.”
Those words came from the mouth of James Gilligan, psychiatrist and professor at New York University. The man he is speaking of is the president of the United States.

Gilligan’s comments were one of many from a group of psychiatrists who gathered at Yale’s School of Medicine on Thursday. The message presented was that Donald Trump is mentally unfit to be in the White House.

Dr. John Gartner, practicing psychiatrist and founding member of Duty to Warn, a group of several dozen mental health professionals who feel it’s their obligation to inform the public about the president’s mental state, says the warning signs have been there from the beginning.

Dr. Gartner said.
“Worse than just being a liar or a narcissist, in addition he is paranoid, delusional and grandiose thinking, and he proved that to the country the first day he was president.”
Earlier in the year, claiming Trump is “psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President,” Dr. Gartner started a petition calling for Trump to be removed from office. So far, that petition has received nearly 43,000 signatures.

Dr. Bandy Lee, who chaired the conference and is an assistant clinical professor in Yale’s department of psychology, thinks Trump’s mental state is an issue people are beginning to become concerned about:
As some prominent psychiatrists have noted, [Trump’s mental health] is the elephant in the room. I think the public is really starting to catch on and widely talk about this now.


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Abundance Circle • Story Connective

SUBHEAD: A volunteer effort to share the abundance of food between individual growers and gatherers.

By Rebecca Rhapsody on 23 April 2017 for Story Connective -
(https://storyconnective.podbean.com/)


Image above: Avacados and grapefruit offered by Judy and Matt sharing extra produce with to Abundance Circle on Maui through Vicki Levin. Still frame from video below by Story Connection.

Vicki Levin is a champion of locally grown food and community. She gathers up excess food produced by her friends' and neighbors' gardens and distributes it among them all.

It's called the Abundance Circle.

For example, when one member of the Abundance Circle has too many ripe oranges from their tree for their own household, they contribute the extra fruit to the Abundance Circle.

Vicki collects everyone's excess produce and distributes it to the group. In this way, the person contributing the excess oranges will get sunflower sprouts, kale, bananas, & more from the extra produce other Abundance Circle members give... free of charge!

It's not a trade and it's not a barter. Even when a member's garden doesn't have anything to give for a time, they still receive. Everyone just contributes whatever they have excess of to the Circle Abundance, and everyone benefits. Vicki's dream is for everyone to have even a small garden in their backyard.


Video above: Interview with Vicki Levin by Rebecca Rhapsody about the Abundance Circle on Maui. From (https://youtu.be/HD-j7VgKetI).

VIDEO CREDITS:
Interview
Rebecca Rhapsody at StoryConnective.org

Audio and video production
Loxley Clovis at StoryConnective.org

Ukulele score and performance
Rebecca Rhapsody at StoryConnective.org

Story Connective art and logo by
Sarai Stricklin SaraiStricklin.com

SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Vicki Levin and her Abundance Circle members

Artwork ‘Makamaluohonaokalani’
Marilyn Kahalewai at Kumukahi.org

Moku and Ahupuaa map of Maui 'Mokupuni O Maui"
Juan Wilson at IslandBreath.org

SHARING AND SUPPORT: 
If you support Story Connective's 501(c)(3) mission and vision of bringing stories of resilience and possibilities to the world and would like to help our project, there are many ways you can help us.

Share this with video friends, family, coworkers. Like us at Facebook.com/StoryConnective

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Stay tuned to Story Connective on YouTube and the Story Connective podcast for more on this series: Re-envision Maui.

Fiscal Sponsor of Story Connection is ELLSSA – a non profit committed to Empowering individuals to take care of the future. Learn more about at www.ellssa.org

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Climate change as genocide

SUBHEAD: Not since WWII have more human beings been at risk from disease and starvation than now.

By Michael Klare on 21 April 2017 for Resilience -
(http://www.resilience.org/stories/2017-04-21/climate-change-genocide/)


Image above: Photo of a young man in drought conditions in Ethiopia in 2008. From original article.

On March 10th, Stephen O’Brien, under secretary-general of the United Nations for humanitarian affairs, informed the Security Council that 20 million people in three African countries — Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan — as well as in Yemen were likely to die if not provided with emergency food and medical aid.

“We are at a critical point in history,” he declared. “Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the U.N.”  Without coordinated international action, he added, “people will simply starve to death [or] suffer and die from disease.”

Major famines have, of course, occurred before, but never in memory on such a scale in four places simultaneously. According to O’Brien, 7.3 million people are at risk in Yemen, 5.1 million in the Lake Chad area of northeastern Nigeria, 5 million in South Sudan, and 2.9 million in Somalia.

In each of these countries, some lethal combination of war, persistent drought, and political instability is causing drastic cuts in essential food and water supplies. Of those 20 million people at risk of death, an estimated 1.4 million are young children.

Despite the potential severity of the crisis, U.N. officials remain confident that many of those at risk can be saved if sufficient food and medical assistance is provided in time and the warring parties allow humanitarian aid workers to reach those in the greatest need.

“We have strategic, coordinated, and prioritized plans in every country,” O’Brien said. “With sufficient and timely financial support, humanitarians can still help to prevent the worst-case scenario.”

All in all, the cost of such an intervention is not great: an estimated $4.4 billion to implement that U.N. action plan and save most of those 20 million lives.

The international response? Essentially, a giant shrug of indifference.

To have time to deliver sufficient supplies, U.N. officials indicated that the money would need to be in pocket by the end of March. It’s now April and international donors have given only a paltry $423 million — less than a tenth of what’s needed.

While, for instance, President Donald Trump sought Congressional approval for a $54 billion increase in U.S. military spending (bringing total defense expenditures in the coming year to $603 billion) and launched $89 million worth of Tomahawk missiles against a single Syrian air base, the U.S. has offered precious little to allay the coming disaster in three countries in which it has taken military actions in recent years.

As if to add insult to injury, on February 15th Trump told Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that he was inclined to sell his country 12 Super-Tucano light-strike aircraft, potentially depleting Nigeria of $600 million it desperately needs for famine relief.

Moreover, just as those U.N. officials were pleading fruitlessly for increased humanitarian funding and an end to the fierce and complex set of conflicts in South Sudan and Yemen (so that they could facilitate the safe delivery of emergency food supplies to those countries), the Trump administration was announcing plans to reduce American contributions to the United Nations by 40%.

It was also preparing to send additional weaponry to Saudi Arabia, the country most responsible for devastating air strikes on Yemen’s food and water infrastructure. This goes beyond indifference.  This is complicity in mass extermination.

Like many people around the world, President Trump was horrified by images of young children suffocating from the nerve gas used by Syrian government forces in an April 4th raid on the rebel-held village of Khan Sheikhoun.

“That attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me — big impact,” he told reporters. “That was a horrible, horrible thing. And I’ve been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that.” In reaction to those images, he ordered a barrage of cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base the following day.

But Trump does not seem to have seen — or has ignored — equally heart-rending images of young children dying from the spreading famines in Africa and Yemen.

Those children evidently don’t merit White House sympathy.
Who knows why not just Donald Trump but the world is proving so indifferent to the famines of 2017?

It could simply be donor fatigue or a media focused on the daily psychodrama that is now Washington, or growing fears about the unprecedented global refugee crisis and, of course, terrorism.  It’s a question worth a piece in itself, but I want to explore another one entirely.

Here’s the question I think we all should be asking: Is this what a world battered by climate change will be like — one in which tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of people perish from disease, starvation, and heat prostration while the rest of us, living in less exposed areas, essentially do nothing to prevent their annihilation?

Famine, Drought, and Climate Change
First, though, let’s consider whether the famines of 2017 are even a valid indicator of what a climate-changed planet might look like.

After all, severe famines accompanied by widespread starvation have occurred throughout human history. In addition, the brutal armed conflicts now underway in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen are at least in part responsible for the spreading famines.

In all four countries, there are forces — Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabaab in Somalia, assorted militias and the government in South Sudan, and Saudi-backed forces in Yemen — interfering with the delivery of aid supplies.

Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that pervasive water scarcity and prolonged drought (expected consequences of global warming) are contributing significantly to the disastrous conditions in most of them.

The likelihood that droughts this severe would be occurring simultaneously in the absence of climate change is vanishingly small.

In fact, scientists generally agree that global warming will ensure diminished rainfall and ever more frequent droughts over much of Africa and the Middle East. This, in turn, will heighten conflicts of every sort and endanger basic survival in a myriad of ways.

In their most recent 2014 assessment of global trends, the scientists of the prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that “agriculture in Africa will face significant challenges in adapting to climate changes projected to occur by mid-century, as negative effects of high temperatures become increasingly prominent.”

Even in 2014, as that report suggested, climate change was already contributing to water scarcity and persistent drought conditions in large parts of Africa and the Middle East. Scientific studies had, for instance, revealed an “overall expansion of desert and contraction of vegetated areas” on that continent.

With arable land in retreat and water supplies falling, crop yields were already in decline in many areas, while malnutrition rates were rising — precisely the conditions witnessed in more extreme forms in the famine-affected areas today.

It’s seldom possible to attribute any specific weather-induced event, including droughts or storms, to global warming with absolute certainty.

Such things happen with or without climate change.  Nonetheless, scientists are becoming even more confident that severe storms and droughts (especially when occurring in tandem or in several parts of the world at once) are best explained as climate-change related.

If, for instance, a type of storm that might normally occur only once every hundred years occurs twice in one decade and four times in the next, you can be reasonably confident that you’re in a new climate era.

It will undoubtedly take more time for scientists to determine to what extent the current famines in Africa and Yemen are mainly climate-change-induced and to what extent they are the product of political and military mayhem and disarray. But doesn’t this already offer us a sense of just what kind of world we are now entering?

History and social science research indicate that, as environmental conditions deteriorate, people will naturally compete over access to vital materials and the opportunists in any society — warlords, militia leaders, demagogues, government officials, and the like — will exploit such clashes for their personal advantage.

“The data suggests a definite link between food insecurity and conflict,” points out Ertharin Cousin, head of the U.N.’s World Food Program.  “Climate is an added stress factor.”

In this sense, the current famines in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen provide us with a perfect template for our future, one in which resource wars and climate mayhem team up as temperatures continue their steady rise.

The Selective Impact of Climate Change
In some popular accounts of the future depredations of climate change, there is a tendency to suggest that its effects will be felt more or less democratically around the globe — that we will all suffer to some degree, if not equally, from the bad things that happen as temperatures rise.

And it’s certainly true that everyone on this planet will feel the effects of global warming in some fashion, but don’t for a second imagine that the harshest effects will be distributed anything but deeply inequitably.  It won’t even be a complicated equation.

As with so much else, those at the bottom rungs of society — the poor, the marginalized, and those in countries already at or near the edge — will suffer so much more (and so much earlier) than those at the top and in the most developed, wealthiest countries.

As a start, the geophysical dynamics of climate change dictate that, when it comes to soaring temperatures and reduced rainfall, the most severe effects are likely to be felt first and worst in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Latin America — home to hundreds of millions of people who depend on rain-fed agriculture to sustain themselves and their families.

Research conducted by scientists in New Zealand, Switzerland, and Great Britain found that the rise in the number of extremely hot days is already more intense in tropical latitudes and disproportionately affects poor farmers.

Living at subsistence levels, such farmers and their communities are especially vulnerable to drought and desertification.

In a future in which climate-change disasters are commonplace, they will undoubtedly be forced to choose ever more frequently between the unpalatable alternatives of starvation or flight.  In other words, if you thought the global refugee crisis was bad today, just wait a few decades.

Climate change is also intensifying the dangers faced by the poor and marginalized in another way.  As interior croplands turn to dust, ever more farmers are migrating to cities, especially coastal ones.

If you want a historical analogy, think of the great Dust Bowl migration of the “Okies” from the interior of the U.S. to the California coast in the 1930s. In today’s climate-change era, the only available housing such migrants are likely to find will be in vast and expanding shantytowns (or “informal settlements,” as they’re euphemistically called), often located in floodplains and low-lying coastal areas exposed to storm surges and sea-level rise.

As global warming advances, the victims of water scarcity and desertification will be afflicted anew.  Those storm surges will destroy the most exposed parts of the coastal mega-cities in which they will be clustered.

In other words, for the uprooted and desperate, there will be no escaping climate change.  As the latest IPCC report noted, “Poor people living in urban informal settlements, of which there are [already] about one billion worldwide, are particularly vulnerable to weather and climate effects.”

The scientific literature on climate change indicates that the lives of the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed will be the first to be turned upside down by the effects of global warming. “The socially and economically disadvantaged and the marginalized are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change and extreme events,” the IPCC indicated in 2014.

“Vulnerability is often high among indigenous peoples, women, children, the elderly, and disabled people who experience multiple deprivations that inhibit them from managing daily risks and shocks.”

It should go without saying that these are also the people least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming in the first place (something no less true of the countries most of them live in).

Inaction Equals Annihilation
In this context, consider the moral consequences of inaction on climate change. Once it seemed that the process of global warming would occur slowly enough to allow societies to adapt to higher temperatures without excessive disruption, and that the entire human family would somehow make this transition more or less simultaneously.

That now looks more and more like a fairy tale.

Climate change is occurring far too swiftly for all human societies to adapt to it successfully.  Only the richest are likely to succeed in even the most tenuous way.

Unless colossal efforts are undertaken now to halt the emission of greenhouse gases, those living in less affluent societies can expect to suffer from extremes of flooding, drought, starvation, disease, and death in potentially staggering numbers.

And you don’t need a Ph.D. in climatology to arrive at this conclusion either.

The overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists agree that any increase in average world temperatures that exceeds 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial era — some opt for a rise of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius — will alter the global climate system drastically.

In such a situation, a number of societies will simply disintegrate in the fashion of South Sudan today, producing staggering chaos and misery. So far, the world has heated up by at least one of those two degrees, and unless we stop burning fossil fuels in quantity soon, the 1.5 degree level will probably be reached in the not-too-distant future.

Worse yet, on our present trajectory, it seems highly unlikely that the warming process will stop at 2 or even 3 degrees Celsius, meaning that later in this century many of the worst-case climate-change scenarios — the inundation of coastal cities, the desertification of vast interior regions, and the collapse of rain-fed agriculture in many areas — will become everyday reality.

In other words, think of the developments in those three African lands and Yemen as previews of what far larger parts of our world could look like in another quarter-century or so: a world in which hundreds of millions of people are at risk of annihilation from disease or starvation, or are on the march or at sea, crossing borders, heading for the shantytowns of major cities, looking for refugee camps or other places where survival appears even minimally possible.

If the world’s response to the current famine catastrophe and the escalating fears of refugees in wealthy countries are any indication, people will die in vast numbers without hope of help.

In other words, failing to halt the advance of climate change — to the extent that halting it, at this point, remains within our power — means complicity with mass human annihilation. We know, or at this point should know, that such scenarios are already on the horizon.

We still retain the power, if not to stop them, then to radically ameliorate what they will look like, so our failure to do all we can means that we become complicit in what — not to mince words — is clearly going to be a process of climate genocide.

How can those of us in countries responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions escape such a verdict?

And if such a conclusion is indeed inescapable, then each of us must do whatever we can to reduce our individual, community, and institutional contributions to global warming. Even if we are already doing a lot — as many of us are — more is needed.

Unfortunately, we Americans are living not only in a time of climate crisis, but in the era of President Trump, which means the federal government and its partners in the fossil fuel industry will be wielding their immense powers to obstruct all imaginable progress on limiting global warming.  

They will be the true perpetrators of climate genocide.

As a result, the rest of us bear a moral responsibility not just to do what we can at the local level to slow the pace of climate change, but also to engage in political struggle to counteract or neutralize the acts of Trump and company.

Only dramatic and concerted action on multiple fronts can prevent the human disasters now unfolding in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen from becoming the global norm.



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