Vermont adopts Steady State idea

SUBHEAD: Vermonters have proven the phrase “steady state economy” is not the bogeyman it was thought to be.

By Brian Czech on 15 May 2016 for SteadyState.org  -
(http://steadystate.org/no-mere-resolution/)


Image above: Frame of GIF file below illustrating a map of America with each county sized on the basis of Gross Domestic Production.

Here’s a day to remember: May 6, 2016.

That’s the day when, late in the afternoon, the Legislature of the State of Vermont passed H.C.R. 412, “House Concurrent Resolution Honoring the Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy for Its Important Work.” In a nation where acts of steady statesmanship – political support for a steady state economy – have only just begun, the Vermont Legislature has offered a perfect and prescient precedent.

Some may scoff at the idea that any resolution could be momentous. It’s true that, typically, a resolution isn’t as distinguished as a statute, an executive order, or a Supreme Court decision. H.C.R. 412 was one of 47 resolutions passed on that adjourning day of the 2015/2016 Vermont Legislature. True, too, that the legislature didn’t resolve to reform any economic policy with H.C.R. 412.

Now that we’ve looked the donut squarely in the hole, let’s consider what the Vermont Legislature did accomplish:
  1. The steady state economy – the only sustainable alternative to unsustainable growth or recession – was brought out of its academic niche into mainstream political dialog. We’re not talking about the ramblings of a quirky county commissioner or misfiring mayor. A state legislature represents the second-highest lawmaking level in the land. In Vermont, a famously beautiful and progressive land that has also offered us a viable presidential candidate, there was virtually unanimous support in the legislature for recognizing limits to economic growth, the problems caused by growth, and the solutions inherent to a steady state economy.

  2. Vermonters have proven the phrase “steady state economy” is not the bogeyman it was thought to be by the architects and activists of the “new economy” movement. If a state legislature can stomach, reprint, and even honor the phrase, it’s time to stop the hand-wringing in futile attempts to come up with a warmer and fuzzier phrase that would connote an economy of stabilized size. “Steady state economy” is perfectly clear with no connotations necessary. Let’s just tell it like it is, and thank you Vermont.

  3. H.C.R. 412 is loaded with implications for future adjustments to tax codes, budgets, program goals and incentives of all kinds. Meanwhile, it provides leadership that is immediately relevant to consumers. Consumers are citizens who constitute the demand side of the economy. Any citizen mulling the construction of a new home, the purchase of a new vehicle, or the development of a new wardrobe has a decision to make. To illustrate by extreme: Hummer or hybrid? Conscientious, widespread tempering of demand toward sustainable levels starts with leadership, such as provided in H.C.R. 412.
Suddenly, doesn’t the donut look bigger than the hole?

H.C.R. 412 was introduced by Representative Curt McCormack of Burlington. The Burlington connection makes a lot of sense, given the long-running leadership in steady state economics coming out of the University of Vermont and its Gund Institute for Ecological Economics. In fact, McCormack is on the UVM Board of Trustees.

It’s refreshing that, in the political days of short-term memory and “small hands” rhetoric, some politicians are doing their homework on the big picture and the long term. The perpetual push for increasing GDP is a growing threat to the environment, the economy, national security, and international stability, but the threat is clear only for those who stop to think about it.

Led by McCormack, May 6 was the day a state legislature stopped to think about it. It’s a day worth remembering.


Image above: From (http://metrocosm.com/map-us-economy/).

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Bad Energy in Hawaii

SUBHEAD: Hawaii Public Utility Commission reality check in post HECO-NextEra merger environment.

By Henry Curtis on 26 May 2016 for Ililani Medoa -
(http://www.ililani.media/2016/05/puc-reality-check-post-heco-nextera.html)


Image above: Hawaiian Electric Industries President and CEO Connie Lau stands with Jim Robo, CEO of NextEra Energy announcing takeover plan in January. From (http://www.bizjournals.com/pacific/news/2016/01/11/nextera-s-purchase-of-hawaiian-electric-won-t.html).

[IB Publisher's note: The PUC and Hawaii Electric Industries have been pulling the state in the wrong direction for some time. Bringing in cut-throat NextEra energy company and importing Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) from fracked wells in British Colombia and Alberta is not a solution to an energy problem but a boondoggle and risk to the environment of Hawaii.]

Bloomberg News announced on May 24 that NextEra Energy Inc.’s proposed $4.3 billion takeover of Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. is looking increasingly less likely as the company gets a new chance to buy Oncor Electric unit of Energy Future Holdings Corp, the largest power distributor in Texas.

Hawaiian Electric Industries CEO Connie Lau, HEI Chief Financial Officer James Ajello, and the then NextEra Vice Chairman and CFO Moray Dewhurst offered contradictory statements and testimony regarding the $90-95 million breakup fee that NextEra may pay to HEI if the deal is not approved by June 3, and NextEra were to walk away from the deal.

The money would go to HEI and its shareholders, not HECO and its ratepayers.

The breakup language is an extremely complex document written by lawyers.

The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission was widely expected to issue a decision in the late summer or fall of 2016. PUC staff lawyers, economists and accountants are pouring through the 110,000-page record

With the announcement of the potential breakup, the PUC can suspend their analysis for a few weeks to see if the breakup really happens.

During the next few weeks the PUC can put greater effort on two major efforts underway:
  • The evaluation of the HECO Companies Power Supply Improvement Plans (PSIPs) which state alternative plans for the utility between now and 2045.
  • PUC's Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Working Group which is seeking to advise the Commission on ways of increasing rooftop solar penetration, while accounting for interconnection standards, safety, reliability, and rate structures.
The Commission can also focus on the HECO dockets opened in the last six months which have yet to really start.

Issue
Docket
HECO`s Utility-Scale Community-Based Renewable Energy Application
2015-0389
A HECO-designed special time-of-use rate structure for the Department of Education
2015-0410
HECO Companies Demand Response Program
2015-0412
An updated Power Purchase Agreement between HECO and the 200MW AES coal-burning facility in Campbell Industrial Park
2016-0007
HELCO purchase of Hamakua Energy Partners generator
2016-0033
HECO`s proposed $736.0 million Smart Grid (which includes ten inter-related and/or independent subcomponents
2016-0087
HECO`s proposal to import largely fracked Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) from British Columbia at a cost of $459.3 million
2016-0135
HECO`s request for a waiver from Competitive Bidding for a new Kahe generation facility
2016-0136
HECO`s proposed $859.0 million Kahe Power Plant
2016-0137


The PUC “regulates 1625 entities, which includes all chartered, franchised, certificated, and registered public utility companies that provide electricity, gas, telecommunications, private water and sewage, and motor and water carrier transportation services in the State.”

Earlier this month, Sandwich Isles Communications and Pa Makani LLC, dba Sandwich Isles Wireless filed applications with the PUC to renew their Annual Certification as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier.

For the past two decades the Hawai`i Department of Hawaiian Home Land has given the politically connected Sandwich Isles, the exclusive rights to provide phone service for new customers on Hawaiian Home Lands.

The Federal Communications Commission provided Sandwich Isles, $830 per customer per month from the Universal Service Fund to subsidize phone service.

Earlier the year Federal Judge Susan Oki Mollway gave Sandwich Isles President Albert S.N. Hee a 46-month sentence for providing “false” salaries to family members, college tuition for his children, family vacations, massages and dozens of other personal expenses. Al Hee is the brother of former State Senator Clayton Hee.



HECO to import Canadian LNG


SUBHEAD: research confirms a link between fracking and almost every large induced earthquake in B.C.

By Henry Curtis on 25 May 2016 for Ililani Medoa -
(http://www.ililani.media/2016/05/heco-proposal-to-import-canadian-lng-is.html)


Image above: A LNG tanker ship at port. From (http://www.marinetraffic.com/en/photos/of/ships/shipid:370522/#forward).

Hawaiian Electric Company has signed a Fuel Supply Agreement with Fortis Hawaii Energy Inc., a subsidiary of Fortis Inc., headquartered in Newfoundland, Canada.

The gas would be exported from their facility on Tilsbury Island in British Columbia.

The facility is about twenty miles north of the U.S. Border and twenty miles south of Vancouver. The deal must be approved by the Public Utilities Commission.

Importing LNG would require a vast infrastructure overhaul. HECO asserted they will need to spend $859 million building the new Kahe generator facility and another $459.3 million on the LNG system.

Ronald Cox, HECO`s Vice President for Power Supply, submitted testimony in the LNG application which stated that the importation of LNG has a double condition, requiring approval of both the HECO-NextEra merger and the Kahe combined cycle facility.

HECO asserted that LNG “burns cleaner,” and it is “the lowest cost alternative for compliance with future environmental regulatory requirements.”

Life of the Land became the first group to file a Motion to Intervene in the proceedings. Their 383-page motion detailed the problems from importing gas from British Columbia.

CBC News reported that the British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission confirmed the 4.4-magnitude earthquake in 2014 was "triggered by fluid injection during hydraulic fracturing," making it one of world's largest earthquakes ever triggered by the controversial fracking process."

Canadian Earthquakes are different from American Earthquakes according to a scientific article in the current issue of Seismological Research Letters, published by the Seismological Society of America.
“In the central United States, most induced seismicity is linked to deep disposal of coproduced wastewater from oil and gas extraction.

In contrast, in western Canada most recent cases of induced seismicity are highly correlated in time and space with hydraulic fracturing, during which fluids are injected under high pressure during well completion to induce localized fracturing of rock.

Furthermore, it appears that the maximum-observed magnitude of events associated with hydraulic fracturing may exceed the predictions of an often-cited relationship between the volume of injected fluid and the maximum expected magnitude.”

Canada’s #1 national newspaper, the Globe and Mail, reported that the report “looked at 12,289 fracking wells and 1,236 waste-water wells in an area along the B.C.-Alberta border.” The regulating agency responded, “the BC Oil and Gas Commission says the research does not raise any safety concerns.”

"There's bad news and good news when it comes to fracking and earthquakes in Western Canada, according to new research from a paper co-authored by a Geological Survey of Canada scientist,: according to CNC News.

"The new research confirms a definitive link between hydraulic fracturing and almost every large induced earthquake recorded in B.C. and Alberta's oil and gas patches since 1985.

In other words, scientists now have evidence that 90 per cent of seismic events over magnitude 3.0 that shook the region were triggered by crews fracking for oil and gas underground."

The Council of Canadian Academies published “Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in Canada: The Expert Panel on Harnessing Science and Technology to Understand the Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction.”

The report was misrepresented in HECO`s application which basically asserted that the analysis found no problem. Actually the 292-page report found a lack of data and analysis.

The report noted that Canada is “the world’s third-largest natural gas producer, fourth-largest exporter, and possessing vast shale gas resources of its own, Canada has a major stake in this new source of energy."

“The Council of Canadian Academies was asked by the federal Minister of Environment to assemble an expert panel to assess the state of knowledge about the impacts of shale gas exploration, extraction, and development in Canada.

In response, the Council recruited a multidisciplinary panel of experts from Canada and the United States to conduct an evidence-based and authoritative assessment supported by relevant and credible peer reviewed research.

As with all Council panels, members were selected for their experience and knowledge, not to represent any particular stakeholder group. The report does not include recommendations, since policy prescription falls outside the Council’s mandate.”

The Report detailed the nature of the shale deposits and the problems that exist.

"The rapid expansion of shale gas development in Canada over the past decade has occurred without a corresponding investment in monitoring and research addressing the impacts on the environment, public health, and communities."

"The primary concerns are the degradation of the quality of groundwater and surface water (including the safe disposal of large volumes of wastewater); the risk of increased greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (including fugitive methane emissions during and after production), thus exacerbating anthropogenic climate change; disruptive effects on communities and land; and adverse effects on human health.

Other concerns include the local release of air contaminants and the potential for triggering small- to moderate-sized earthquakes in seismically active areas."

"These concerns will vary by region. The shale gas regions of Canada can be found near urban areas in the south and in remote regions in the northwest, presenting a large diversity in their geology, hydrology, land uses, and population density."

"The phrase environmental impacts from shale gas development masks many regional differences that are essential to understanding these impacts.”

The Pembina Institute was formed following the 1981 Lodgepole sour gas accident in Alberta, which killed two people and polluted the air for weeks. A small group of rural Albertans came together to secure tougher regulations for drilling sour gas wells, and later went on to form the Pembina Institute.

"We conclude that natural gas has a role to play in a world that avoids 2°C of warming, but that role is unlikely to materialize unless shaped by strong climate change policies in the jurisdictions that produce and consume the gas. Because these policies are not currently in place, claiming that natural gas, and specifically LNG from BC, is a climate solution is inaccurate."

The British Columbia government believes greenhouse gas “targets for 2020 will be extremely difficult to meet.” Therefore, provincial standards have been abandoned and instead future national standards will apply.

Climate Change News reported earlier this year that “British Columbia’s carbon pollution is going up while five other Canadian provinces are bringing their greenhouse gas emissions down.”
The Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

Among the 2,240 Ramsar Sites located around the world are Kawai Nui and Hamakua Marsh on Windward O`ahu and the lower Fraser River Delta. The Fortis facility at Delta on Tilsbury Island, British Columbia site is wholly within the lower Fraser River Delta Ramsar site. This site will be expanded to handle exports to Hawai`i.

A report by geoscientist David Hughes asserted that it includes “poisoned water wells, containment ponds that leaked their deadly post-fracking contents into rivers killing fish, and municipal wastewater plants damaged by the industry's corrosive wastewater.”

The report notes fracking occurs in “nearly 90 per cent of all new gas wells in B.C.”

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Retrotopia: Distant scent of blood

SUBHEAD: Gemotek insisted their corn couldn't be the source of the illnesses, and the government backed them.

By John Michael Greer on 18 May 2016 for the Archdruid Report -
(http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2016/05/retrotopia-distant-scent-of-blood.html)


Image above: Genetically modified corn field. From (http://www.genetwork.info/biggest-gmo-myths-busted/).

[Author's note: This is the sixteenth installment of an exploration of some of the possible futures discussed on this blog, using the toolkit of narrative fiction. Our narrator, having recovered from a bout of the flu, goes for a walk, meets someone he’s encountered before, and begins to understand why the Lakeland Republic took the path it did.]

The next morning I felt pretty good, all things considered, and got up not too much later than usual. It was bright and clear, as nice an autumn day as you could ask for. I knew I had two days to make up and a lot of discussions and negotiations with the Lakeland Republic government still waited, but I’d been stuck in my room for two days and wanted to stretch my legs a bit before I headed back into another conference room at the Capitol.

I compromised by calling Melanie Berger and arranging to meet with her and some other people from Meeker’s staff after lunch. That done, once I’d finished my morning routine, I headed down the stairs and out onto the street.

I didn’t have any particular destination in mind, just fresh air and a bit of exercise, and two or three random turns brought me within sight of the Capitol.

That sent half a dozen trains of thought scurrying off in a bunch of directions, and one of them reminded me that I hadn’t seen a scrap of news for better than two days. Another couple of blocks and I got to Kaufer’s News, where the same scruffy-looking woman was sitting on the same wooden stool, surrounded by the same snowstorm of newspapers and magazines.

I bought that day’s Toledo Blade, and since it was still way too early to put anything into my stomach, I crossed the street, found a park bench in front of the Capitol that had sunlight all over it, sat down and started reading.

There was plenty of news. The president of Texas had just denounced the Confederacy for drilling for natural gas too close to the Texas border, and the Confederate government had issued the kind of curt response that might mean nothing and might mean trouble.

The latest word from the Antarctic melting season was worse than before; Wilkes Land had chucked up a huge jokulhlaup—yeah, I had to look the word up the first time I saw it, too; it means a flood of meltwater from underneath a glacier—that tore loose maybe two thousand square miles of ice and had half the southern Indian Ocean full of bergs.

There was another report out on the lithium crisis, from another bunch of experts who pointed out yet again that the world was going to run out of lithium for batteries in another half dozen years and all the alternatives were much more expensive; I knew better than to think that the report would get any more action than the last half dozen had.

Back home, meanwhile, the leaders of the Dem-Reps had a laundry list of demands for the new administration, most of which involved Montrose ditching her platform and adopting theirs instead. There’d been no response from the Montrose transition team, which was probably just as well. I knew what Ellen would say to that and it wasn’t fit to print.

Still, the thing I read first was an article on the satellite situation. There was a squib on the front page about that, and a big article with illustrations on pages four and five. It was as bad as I’d feared. The weather satellite that got hit on Friday had thrown big chunks of itself all over, and two more satellites had already been hit.

The chain reaction was under way, and in a year or so putting a satellite into the midrange orbits would be a waste of money—a few days, a week at most, and some chunk of scrap metal will come whipping out of nowhere at twenty thousand miles an hour and turn your umpty-billion-yuan investment into a cloud of debris ready to share the love with anything else in orbit.

That reality was already hitting stock markets around the world—telecoms were plunging, and so was every other economic sector that depended too much on satellites.

Most of the Chinese manufacturing sector was freaking out, too, because a lot of their exports go by way of the Indian Ocean, and satellite data’s the only thing that keeps container ships out of the way of icebergs. Economists were trying to rough out the probable hit to global GDP, and though estimates were all over the map, none of them was pretty. The short version was that everybody was running around screaming.

Everybody outside the Lakeland Republic, that is. The satellite crisis was an academic concern there.

I mean that literally; the paper quoted a professor of astronomy from Toledo University, a Dr. Marjorie Vanich, about the work she and her grad students were doing on the mathematics of orbital collisions, and that was the only consequence the whole mess was having inside the Lakeland borders. I shook my head.

Progress was going to win out eventually, I told myself, but the Republic’s retro policies certainly seemed to deflect a good many hassles in the short term.

I finished the first section, set down the paper.

Sitting there in the sunlight of a clear autumn day, with a horsedrawn cab going clip-clop on the street in front of me, schoolchildren piling out of a streetcar and heading toward the Capitol for a field trip, pedestrians ducking into Kaufer’s News or the little hole-in-the-wall cafĂ© half a block from it, and the green-and-blue Lakeland Republic flag flapping leisurely above the whole scene, all the crises and commotions in the newspaper I’d just read might as well have been on the far side of the Moon.

For the first time I found myself wishing that the Lakeland Republic could find some way to survive over the long term after all. The thought that there could be someplace on the planet where all those crises just didn’t matter much was really rather comforting.

I got up, stuck the paper into one of the big patch pockets of my trench coat, and started walking, going nowhere in particular. A clock on the corner of a nearby building told me I still had better than an hour to kill before lunch. I looked around, and decided to walk all the way around the Capitol, checking out the big green park that surrounded it and the businesses and government offices nearby.

I thought of the Legislative Building back home in Philadelphia, with its walls of glass and metal and its perpetually leaky roof; I thought of the Presidential Mansion twelve blocks away, another ultramodern eyesore, where one set of movers hauling Bill Barfield’s stuff out would be crossing paths just then with another set of movers hauling Ellen Montrose’s stuff in.

I thought of the huge bleak office blocks sprawling west and south from there, where people I knew were busy trying to figure out how to cope with a rising tide of challenges that didn’t look as though it was ever going to ebb.

I got to one end of the park, turned the corner. A little in from the far corner was what looked like a monument of some sort, a big slab of dark red stone up on end, with something written on it. Shrubs formed a rough ring around it, and a couple of trees looked on from nearby. I wondered what it was commemorating, started walking that way.

When I got closer, I noticed that there was a ring of park benches inside the circle of shrubs, and one person sitting on one of the benches; it wasn’t until I was weaving through the gap between two shrubs that I realized it was the same Senator Mary Chenkin

I’d met at the Atheist Assembly the previous Sunday. By the time I’d noticed that, she’d spotted me and got to her feet, and so I went over and did and said the polite thing, and we got to talking.

The writing on the monument didn’t enlighten me much. It had a date on it—29 APRIL 2024—and nothing else. I’d just about decided to ask Chenkin about it when she said, “I bet they didn’t brief you about this little memento of ours—and they probably should have, if you’re going to make any kind of sense of what we’ve done here in the Lakeland Republic. Do you have a few minutes?”

“Most of an hour,” I said. “If you’ve got the time—”

“I should be at a committee meeting later on, but there should be plenty of time.” She waved me to the bench and then perched on the front of it, facing me.

“You probably know about DM-386 corn, Mr. Carr,” she said. “The stuff that had genes from poisonous starfish spliced into it.”

“Yeah.” Ugly memories stirred. “I would have had a kid brother if it wasn’t for that.”

“You and a lot of others.” She shook her head. “Gemotek, the corporation that made it, used to have its regional headquarters right here.”

She gestured across the park toward the Capitol. “A big silver glass and steel skyscraper complex, with a plaza facing this way. It got torn down right after the war, the steel went to make rails for the Toledo streetcar system, and the site—well, you’ll understand a little further on why we chose to put our Capitol there.

“But it was 2020, as I recall, when Gemotek scientists held a press conference right here to announce that DM-386 was going to save the world from hunger.” Another shake of her head dismissed the words. “Did they plant much of it up where your family lived?”

“Not to speak of. We were in what used to be upstate New York, and corn wasn’t a big crop.”

“Well, there you are. Here, we’re the buckle on the corn belt: the old states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and across into Iowa and Nebraska. Gemotek marketed DM-386 heavily via exclusive contracts with local seed stores, and it was literally everywhere. They insisted it was safe, the government insisted it was safe, the experts said the same thing—but nobody bothered to test it on pregnant women.”

“I remember,” I said.

“And down here, it wasn’t just in the food supply. The pollen had the toxin in it, and that was in the air every spring. After the first year’s crop, what’s more, it got into the water table in a lot of places. So there were some counties where the live birth rate dropped by half over a two year period.”

She leaned toward me. “And here’s the thing. Gemotek kept insisting that it couldn’t possibly be their corn, and the government backed them.

They brought in one highly paid expert after another to tell us that some new virus or other was causing the epidemic of stillbirths. It all sounded plausible, until you found out that the only countries in the world that had this supposed virus were countries that allowed DM-386 corn to cross their borders.

The media wouldn’t mention that, and if you said something about it on the old internet, or any other public venue, Gemotek would slap you with a libel suit. They’d win, too—they had all the expert opinion on their side that money could buy. All the farmers and the other people of the corn belt had on their side was unbiased epidemiology and too many dead infants.

“So by the fall and winter of 2023, the entire Midwest was a powderkeg. A lot of farmers stopped planting DM-386, even though Gemotek had a clause in the sales agreement that let them sue you for breach of contract if you did that.

Seed stores that stocked it got burnt to the ground, and Gemotek sales staff who went out into farm country didn’t always come back.

There were federal troops here by then—not just Homeland Security, also regular Army with tanks and helicopters they’d brought up from the South after the trouble in Knoxville and Chattanooga the year before—and you had armed bands of young people and military vets springing up all over the countryside. It was pretty bad.

“By April, it was pretty clear that next to nobody in the region was planting Gemotek seeds—not just DM-386, anything from that company. Farmers were letting their farms go fallow if they couldn’t get seed they thought was safe.

That’s when Michael Yates, who was the CEO of Gemotek, said he was going to come to Toledo and talk some sense into the idiots who thought there was something wrong with his product. By all accounts, yes, that’s what he said.”

All of a sudden I remembered how the story ended, but didn’t say anything.

“So he came here—right where we’re sitting now. The company made a big fuss in the media, put up a platform out in front of the building, put half a dozen security guards around it, and thought that would do the job.

Yates was a celebrity CEO—” Unexpectedly, she laughed. “That phrase sounds so strange nowadays. Still, there were a lot of them before the Second Civil War: flashy, outspoken, hungry for publicity. He was like that. He flew in, and came out here, and started mouthing the same canned talking points Gemotek flacks had been rehashing since the first wave of stillbirths hit the media.

“I think he even believed them.” She shrugged. “He wasn’t an epidemiologist or even a geneticist, just a glorified salesman who thought his big paycheck made him smarter than anyone else, and he lived the sort of bicoastal lifestyle the rich favored in those days. If he’d ever set foot in the ‘flyover states’ before then, I never heard of it.

 But of course the crowd wasn’t having any of it. Something like nine thousand people showed up. They were shouting at him, and he was trying to make himself heard, and somebody lunged for the platform and a security guard panicked and opened fire, and the crowd mobbed the platform. It was all over in maybe five minutes.

As I recall, two of the guards survived. The other four were trampled and beaten to death, and nineteen people were shot—and Michael Yates was quite literally torn to shreds. There was hardly enough left of him to bury.

“So that’s what happened on April 29th, 2024. The crowd scattered as soon as it was all over, before Homeland Security troops could get here from their barracks; the feds declared a state of emergency and shut Toledo down, and then two days later the riots started down in Birmingham and the National Guard units sent to stop them joined the rioters.

Your historians probably say that that’s where and when the Second Civil War started, and they’re right—but this is where the seed that grew into the Lakeland Republic got planted.”

“Hell of a seed,” I said, for want of anything better.

“I won’t argue. But this—” Her gesture indicated the monument, and the shadow of a vanished building. “—this is a big part of why the whole Midwest went up like a rocket once the Birmingham riots turned serious, and why nothing the federal government did to get people to lay down their arms did a bit of good.

Every family I knew back in those days had either lost a child or knew someone who had—but it wasn’t just that. There had been plenty of other cases where the old government put the financial interests of big corporations ahead of the welfare of its people—hundreds of them, really—but this thing was that one straw too many.

“And then, when the fighting was over, the constitutional convention was meeting, and people from the World Bank and the IMF flew in to offer us big loans for reconstruction, care to guess what one of their very first conditions was?”

I didn’t have to answer; she saw on my face that I knew the story.

“Exactly, Mr. Carr. The provisional government had already passed a law banning genetically modified organisms until adequate safety tests could be done, and the World Bank demanded that we repeal it. To them it was just a trade barrier. Of course all of us in the provisional government knew perfectly well that if we agreed to that, we’d be facing Michael Yates’ fate in short order, so we called for a referendum.”

She shook her head, laughed reminiscently. “The World Bank people went ballistic. I had one of their economists with his face six inches from mine, shouting threats for fifteen minutes in half-coherent English without a break.

But we held the referendum, the no vote came in at 89%, we told the IMF and the World Bank to pack their bags and go home, and the rest of our history unfolded as you’ve seen—and a lot of it was because of a pavement streaked with blood, right here.”

Something in her voice just then made me consider her face closely, and read something in her expression that I don’t think she’d intended me to see. “You were there, weren’t you?” I asked.

She glanced up at me, looked away, and after a long moment nodded.

A long moment passed. The clop-clop of a horsedrawn taxi came close, passed on into the distance. “Here’s the thing,” she said finally. “All of us who were alive then—well, those who didn’t help tear Michael Yates to pieces helped tear the United States of America to pieces.

It was the same in both cases: people who had been hurt and deceived and cheated until they couldn’t bear it any longer, who finally lashed out in blind rage and then looked down and saw the blood on their hands.

After something like that, you have to come to terms with the fact that what’s done can never be undone, and try to figure out what you can do that will make it turn out to be worthwhile after all.”

She took a watch out of her purse, then, glanced at it, and said, “Oh dear. They’ve been waiting for me in the committee room for five minutes now. Thank you for listening, Mr. Carr—will I see you at the Assembly next Sunday?”

“That’s the plan,” I told her. She got up, we made the usual polite noises, and she hurried away toward the Capitol. Maybe she was late for her meeting, and maybe she’d said more than she’d intended to say and wanted to end the conversation. I didn’t greatly care, as I wanted a little solitude myself just then.

I’d known about DM-386 corn, of course, and my family wasn’t the only one I knew that lost a kid to the fatal lung defects the starfish stuff caused if the mother got exposed to it in the wrong trimester.

For that matter, plenty of other miracle products have turned out to have side effects nasty enough to rack up a fair-sized body count. No, it was thinking of the pleasant old lady I’d just been sitting with as a young woman with blood dripping from her hands.

Every nation starts that way. The Atlantic Republic certainly did—I knew people back home who’d been guerrillas in the Adirondacks and the Alleghenies, and they’d talk sometimes about things they’d seen and done that made my blood run cold.

The old United States got its start the same way, two and a half centuries further back. I knew that, but I hadn’t been thinking about it when I’d sat on the park bench musing about how calm the Lakeland Republic seemed in the middle of all the consternation outside its borders. It hadn’t occurred to me what had gone into making that calm happen.

The breeze whispering past the stone monument seemed just then to have a distant scent of blood on it. I turned and walked away.

Below are the first seven of fifteen previous Retrotopia articles reproduced on Island Breath:
Ea O Ka Aina: Retrotopia - Dawn train from Pittsburgh 8/27/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Retrotopia - View from a Moving Window 9/2/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Retrotopia - A Cab Ride in Toledo 9/10/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Retrotopia - Public Utilities, Private Goods 9/24/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Retrotopia - A Change of Habit 10/1/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Retrotopia - Scent of Ink on Paper 10/15/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Retrotopia - A Question of Subsidies 10/22/15

The other pieces can be found at the Archdruid Report website :


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Aim for 2°C... Plan for 4°C

SUBHEAD: I believe we should re-calibrate our adaptation efforts to anticipate 4°C warming.

By Matt McRae on 26 April 2016 for Natural Hazard Center -

Image above: Illustration for "Cloud mystery solved: Global temperatures to rise 4°C by 2100". From (http://www.futuretimeline.net/blog/2014/01/1.htm#.V0X0NmYnpBo).

[IB Publisher's note: We've blown past 350ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere that will lead to feedback loops and rising worldwide temperature. This article, though gloomy, identifies that we could possibly keep to a  2°C rise if we could keep under 450ppm of CO2... and that this could be achieved if CO2 emissions to drop from today’s levels to almost zero within 35 years. That's doable with enough economic collapse. There would be human suffering - but some level of survival if we could drop big-agriculture, industrialization, growth and use of nonrenewable energy sources.]

In December international leaders met in Paris at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC) during the twenty-first “Conference of Parties” (COP21) with the goal to “achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C above preindustrial temperatures”(COP21, 2016).

Delegates discussed and agreed on national targets, but simple math reveals a harsh truth— if we manage to hit the targets agreed upon in Paris we will still experience a dangerous 2.7°C - 3°C warming above pre-industrial levels by 2100. While these numbers appear small, climate-adaptation practitioners understand the implications are anything but.

Somewhat ironically, at the same UN Conference of Parties, there was also collective agreement that the upper limit of warming should be revised downward to 1.5°C because, “The 1.5 degree Celsius limit is a significantly safer defense line against the worst impacts of a changing climate” (UNFCCC, 2016).

This ratcheting down of the temperature target speaks volumes about the predicament we’re in. Changes are occurring faster than we anticipated and we continue approaching blind curves at high speed.

I began working on climate change eight years ago. As my understanding of the issue deepens and I watch national and international efforts come up short year after year, I have to wonder if our climate adaptation sights are aimed at the wrong target.

I have had the fortune of working on climate mitigation and adaptation while serving as the Climate and Energy Analyst for the City of Eugene, Oregon. During this time I have come to a few realizations that have fueled my growing concern.

The greenhouse gas-emissions reductions that are scientifically necessary appear to be all but unachievable.

As a result scientists anticipate that as we move beyond 2°C of warming, there is a dramatic increase in the risk of rapid warming magnified by naturally occurring feedbacks within the climate system—sometimes referred to as “runaway” climate change.

Finally, and perhaps most troubling, our current climate adaptation efforts are focused on a future stable climate condition that appears highly unlikely.

First, the emissions challenge. I recently have been tasked with developing a greenhouse gas-reduction target for Eugene that is consistent with returning global concentrations of CO2 to 350 parts per million (ppm), the CO2 level climate scientists tell us is least likely to trigger runaway global heating. It should be noted that global CO2 concentrations surpassed 400 ppm nearly a year ago for the first time in recorded history, so a 350ppm target is extremely ambitious.

We found that doing our share to meet 350ppm means we must stop emitting CO2 within 15 years (Hansen et al 2015). 

For comparison, we looked at what would be needed to achieve 450ppm (the number expected to limit warming to 2°C). While more feasible perhaps, getting to 450ppm would still require emissions to drop from today’s levels to almost zero within 35 years.

While this may be technically possible, our climate-mitigation goals and actions in Eugene, and across most of the country, are not geared to achieve this scale of reductions.

I hold on to hope that we will find the will to achieve these levels of reductions, but I do not believe it is responsible to assume these dramatic emissions reductions as a basis for climate adaptation planning. As climate-adaptation practitioners, we are trying to reduce risks posed by climate impacts, so we should be planning for likely outcomes, not banking on the best possible scenario.

The second lesson I have learned is that there are feedbacks in our climate system that have a huge potential to increase global temperatures. A great example is the Arctic ice sheet at the top of the planet. Like a giant mirror, the white surface of the sea ice reflects most of the incoming sunlight back into space.

As warming causes the ice to recede, it is replaced by dark ocean waters, which absorb the light energy, turning it into heat energy, increasing warming and further melting the ice in a self-reinforcing loop.

The trouble is that several such natural feedbacks exist within the climate system and when combined they have great potential to cause extreme warming. Unfortunately, because we don’t know exactly when these feedbacks will kick in, they are not always accounted for in climate models, meaning that we are likely to significantly underestimate the potential speed of warming.

These feedbacks are one of the reasons we have set an international goal to stay below 2°C of warming—because somewhere at or beyond that temperature, the feedbacks are unleashed and, like it or not, we find ourselves on an uncontrollable escalator to dramatically warmer temperatures. We are currently experiencing 1°C of warming, and total global greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase every year.

My third realization is that the majority of our climate-adaptation plans focus on a 2°C warming scenario that stabilizes at 2°C and doesn’t warm further. In reality, climate is rarely stable.

Over the last 800,000 years the average temperature of the globe has jumped up and down like a heartbeat. This fluctuation has been cyclic and driven by natural processes, but if we look into Earth’s climate history there is an odd stabilization of temperatures that began some 10,000 years ago.

 As a species we have benefitted immensely from this unusual period of relative climatic stability; it has encouraged long-term settlement along our coastlines and it has enabled development of wildly successful agricultural practices. How will we adapt as we enter a period of climatic conditions that are far less predictable and far more dynamic than our recent history has prepared us for?

While I hope we can find a way to limit warming to 2°C and avoid unleashing feedbacks, good risk management suggests we should anticipate and prepare for less rosy outcomes. I believe we should re-calibrate our adaptation efforts to anticipate 4°C and continued warming.

I will be first to acknowledge that 4°C of warming and an unstable climate is increasingly difficult to “adapt” to, but planning for a more moderate level of impacts just because it feels less overwhelming is not the basis of good risk management.

In 2011 an international team of scientists provided a clue about the potential impact of four degrees of warming (New et. al, 2011). They note, “Even with strong political will, the chances of shifting the global energy system fast enough to avoid 2°C are slim.

Trajectories that result in eventual temperature rises of 3°C or 4°C are much more likely, and the implications of these larger temperature changes require serious consideration.”

As for the impacts, the authors raise the concern, “The continued failure of the parties to the UNFCCC to agree on emissions reductions means that those planning adaptation responses have to consider a wider range of possible futures, with a poorly defined upper bound.

Second, responses that might be most appropriate for a 2°C world may be maladaptive in a +4°C world; this is, particularly, an issue for decisions with a long lifetime, which have to be made before there is greater clarity on the amount of climate change that will be experienced.

For some of the more vulnerable regions, a +4°C world may require a complete transformation in many aspects of society, rather than adaptation of existing activities.”

As adaptation professionals we haven’t had a discussion about adapting to higher temperatures. The good thing is that many of the efforts I imagine we might employ to “adapt” to 4°C are also desperately needed today and would help us manage 2°C of warming as well. What do those strategies look like?

How would we implement them?

I propose that in addition to (or perhaps instead of) focusing on structural adaptation like building sea walls, we might also focus on supporting social adaptation that would both help our communities to navigate uncertainty and disruptions in the future and help us address the challenges of today.

This could involve boosting psychological resilience through workshops that improve mental coping skills. The Resource Innovation Group, for example, has hosted workshops in several cities including Eugene.

They are teaching people useful skills in mindfulness, meditation and trauma management to help people cope with the stresses they’re experiencing today – and to spread habits that could help us all handle the curveballs of tomorrow.

Adapting to four degrees might involve promoting community cohesion by better bridging the racial, cultural, and economic divides in our communities. In his book Heatwave, Eric Klinenberg writes of a deadly spell of extreme heat in Chicago in 1995.

With scientific rigor he investigates the horrible event, comparing neighborhoods full of survivors with neighborhoods that didn’t fare as well. He found the secret to survival wasn’t wealth, mobility, or access to health care, it was the presence of healthy social bonds.

Those residents who lived in socially connected neighborhoods fared significantly better than those living in socially isolated environments. For this reason, it seems improving social cohesion within our communities should be one of our adaptation goals.

If more frequent curveballs are in our future, perhaps we should also take measures now to enhance the transparency and particularly the nimbleness of our government decision-making. I have seen with my own eyes that making decisions on behalf of the whole is way easier said than done, but organizations like the Co-Intelligence Institute and Healthy Democracy work tirelessly to test and share examples of better collective decision-making practices.

It seems self-evident that our communities will manage tough decisions better when residents are involved and genuinely understand the difficult dilemmas placed at our collective doorstep.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I hope we might focus our attention on a broader range of climate possibilities that are more challenging than 2°C, and unfortunately, increasingly likely.

References:

  1. COP21. 2016. (http://www.cop21paris.org/about/cop21) accessed on April 12, 2016
  2. UNFCCC. 2016. “Historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change” (http://newsroom.unfccc.int/unfccc-newsroom/finale-cop21/)accessed on April 12, 2016
  3. Hansen J, Kharecha P, Sato M, Masson-Delmotte V, Ackerman F, Beerling DJ, et al. 2013. Assessing “Dangerous Climate Change”: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature. PLoS ONE 8(12): e81648. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081648
  4. New et al. 2011. Four degrees and beyond: the potential for a global temperature increase of four degrees and its implications. Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society, A 2011.
    • Matt McRae is the Climate and Energy Analyst for the City of Eugene. Matt managed the effort to create Eugene’s first community Climate and Energy Action Plan and was the project manager for the 2014 update of the Eugene/Springfield Natural Hazards Mitigation Plan. His work is now focused on implementing both of these plans. Matt has worked for the City of Eugene since 2002 and prior to that worked for the National Park Service for nine years. Matt has a B.S. from the College of Natural Resources at Utah State University.
    .

    Clinton breaks debate promise

    SUBHEAD: Sanders calls it an insult to the people of California - others consider it a promise broken.

    By Jon Queally on 24 May 2106 for Common Dreams -
    (http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/05/24/clintons-broken-promise-california-debate-called-insult-voters)


    Image above: Still image from  CNN debate between Sanders and Clinton in Brooklyn NY in April. From ().

    Bernie Sanders said he was 'disappointed but not surprised by Secretary Clinton’s unwillingness to debate' ahead of 'most important primary' of this year's nominating process.

    Bernie Sanders calls it an "insult" to the people of California while many others consider it a promise broken.

    With no apparent upside for her campaign and despite an agreement earlier this year, Hillary Clinton has said she will not participate in a debate with Sanders in California ahead of that state's crucial primary next month.

    "We believe that Hillary Clinton's time is best spent campaigning and meeting directly with voters across California and preparing for a general election campaign that will ensure the White House remains in Democratic hands," Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton's communications director, said in a statement.

    Despite not yet securing the nomination, Clinton irked many of her rival's supporters, especially those in states who have not yet voted in the primary, by claiming the nominating process was essentially "already done." Voters in California—in addition to those in Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, and South Dakota—head to the polls on Tuesday, June 7.

    The San Francisco Chronicle, which had offered to co-host a debate in the state, described Clinton's decision as a "broken promise" while a spokesperson for Fox News, which had hoped to produce the event, said the network was "disappointed that Secretary Clinton has declined our debate invitation, especially given that the race is still contested and she had previously agreed to a final debate before the California primary."

    In response, Sanders issued a statement saying he was "disappointed but not surprised by Secretary Clinton's unwillingness to debate before the largest primary and most important primary in the presidential nominating process."

    Sanders continued: "The state of California and the United States face some enormous crises. Democracy, and respect for the voters of California, would suggest that there should be a vigorous debate in which the voters may determine whose ideas they support. I hope Secretary Clinton reconsiders her unfortunate decision to back away from her commitment to debate."

    Subsequently, during a rally at a high school in southern California, Sanders went further by calling Clinton's refusal to debate an affront to California voters.

    "I think it's a little insulting to the people of California—the largest state," Sanders told thousands of people during a rally at Santa Monica High School. "She is not prepared to have a discussion with me about how she is going to help California address the major crises we face."

    According to the Los Angeles Times, the crowd responded by chanting: "She's scared! She's scared!"
    For Sanders' part, he suggested to the crowd—given his recent string of wins, Clinton's slippage in national standings, and poll after poll showing him doing much better head-to-head against Donald Trump—that Clinton might be getting a "little nervous" about how the primary race will conclude.

    And, as he said in his statement, "Secretary Clinton may want to be not quite so presumptuous about thinking that she is a certain winner. In the last several weeks, the people of Indiana, West Virginia and Oregon have suggested otherwise."

    On Twitter, many expressed dismay that Clinton had decided to deprive the people of California (and the other states yet to vote) the opportunity to hear the candidates address the issues one final time.

    .

    Media rigged against Bernie

    SUBHEAD: Mainstream headlines decry Sanders supporters for disrupting events in outrage.

    By Claire Bernish on 18 May 2016 for Anti-Media -
    (http://theantimedia.org/media-rigged-elections-your-fault/)


    Image above: Roberta Lange at the podium running the Nevada Democratic Convention. From (http://www.inquisitr.com/3096404/the-nevada-convention-where-democracy-went-to-die/).

    Mainstream headlines constantly decry Bernie Sanders supporters for disrupting events in outrage, as if their protests and demonstrations somehow illustrate the devolution of the elections.

    But that focus by the corporate media utterly negates the consistent and continual reports of fraud and disenfranchisement fueling their ire.
    And it’s getting ridiculous.

    Newsweek, though far from alone, offered a prime example of the obfuscation of the election fraud and questionable campaign tactics by Hillary Clinton in its skewering of Sanders’ supporters.

    Get Control, Senator Sanders, or Get Out,” Newsweek’s Kurt Eichenwald titled his op-ed — which thoroughly blasts the Vermont senator — as if he were somehow responsible for both the electoral chaos and the actions of an irate voting public. Eichenwald writes [with emphasis added]:
    “So, Senator Sanders, either get control of what is becoming your increasingly unhinged cult, or get out of the race. Whatever respect sane liberals had for you is rapidly dwindling, and the damage being inflicted on your reputation may be unfixable. If you can’t even manage the vicious thugs who act in your name, you can’t be trusted to run a convenience store, much less the country.”
    Really?

    Because what Eichenwald obviates most readily in his attack is the inability to understand why those protests might be occurring in the first place. Judging by the timing of his article, it’s likely Eichenwald wrote it after chaos broke out at the Nevada Democratic Convention on Saturday — chaos that transpired after the party took it upon itself to ignore thousands who rightly believed Sanders delegates had been excluded unfairly from the caucus proceedings.

    Despite the call for a recount, party officials refused to follow necessary procedure and abruptly adjourned the convention, leaving thousands of voters in the lurch — and hotel security and local law enforcement to deal with the aftermath. When things seem suspicious, apparently Eichenwald feels voters should not only have no recourse, they should be happy about it. He continues:
     “Sanders has increasingly signaled that he is in this race for Sanders and day after day shows himself to be a whining crybaby with little interest in a broader movement.”

    It would be nice if Eichenwald’s hit piece were as much a joke as it comes across, but clearly he’s missed the point — and the vast movement supporting not only Sanders, but electoral justice. Worse, he didn’t stop there:
    “Signs are emerging that the Sanders campaign is transmogrifying into the type of movement through which tyrants are born.
    “The ugly was on display” at the aforementioned Nevada convention, Eichenwald adds, “where Hillary Clinton won more delegates than Sanders.”

    No kidding. That would be precisely the issue that “cult” expressed fury about — Clinton managed to put yet another state under her belt under highly questionable circumstances.

    In fact, suspect happenings at nearly every primary and caucus so far oddly favor the former secretary of state — and Nevada stood as further testament to why voters are practically up in arms over what appears to be electoral favoritism.

    But Eichenwald wasn’t alone in overlooking those concerns — or in blatantly mischaracterizing both that bias and its consequential thwarting of the wishes of a hefty segment of the voting public.

    In the New York Times, Alan Rappeport also took the chance to strike at Sanders’ followers by citing Roberta Lange, Nevada State Democratic Party Chairwoman, who adjourned the convention early — earning the wrath of Nevada’s voters.
    “‘It’s been vile,’ said Ms. Lange, who riled Sanders supporters by refusing their requests for rule changes at the event in Las Vegas,” Rappeport notes, adding, “The vicious response comes as millions of new voters, many of whom felt excluded by establishment politicians, have flocked to the insurgent campaigns of Mr. Sanders and Mr. Trump.”
    Though he at least presented that aspect of the elections fairly, his description of what Lange actually did in Nevada misses the mark — that rules change had originally occurred prior to the convention, and Lange’s hasty and subjective decision on a contentious voice vote to permanently install the change arguably created the eruption of anger.

    But a number of Times staff have contributed sizeable amounts to Hillary’s campaign — and a Clinton family organization also donated $100,000 to the Times’ charitable organization the same year it endorsed her. Funny how bias thus peppers its reporting.

    .

    We're past the point of no return

    SUBHEAD: Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration from human activity has passed the point of no return.

    By Dahr Jamail on 23 May 2106 for TruthOut.org -
    (http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/36133-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide-concentration-has-passed-the-point-of-no-return)


    Image above: The Earth from space photo by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. From original article.

    A recent trip up Washington State's Mount Rainier brought home to me how rapidly things are changing, even in the high country.

    I first climbed the mountain in 1994, when the main route was a picturesque climb up smooth glaciers. Most of the time crevasses weren't even visible, and snow cover was abundant.

    But anthropogenic climate disruption from atmospheric carbon dioxide (ACD) has been speeding up with each passing year, and in the same area 22 years later, I found large portions of it nearly unrecognizable.

    We took a somewhat different route than the one I'd climbed in 1994, primarily because the lower portion of that route is now unusable, as the glacier it traversed is so broken up and crevassed as to make it impassable.

    It being early season (most of the guide services had yet to begin taking clients up the mountain), I expected much heavier snow cover and the snow bridges over crevasses to be in decent shape. That wasn't the case.

    After gingerly stepping our way over several sketchy snow bridges, I was grateful we weren't on the 14,411-foot-high northwestern volcano any later in the season than we were. Thankfully, we were able to summit and get back down without incident.

    Less than a year and a half earlier, in December 2014, Nature World News reported that ACD was melting Rainier's glaciers at "unprecedented" rates (six times the historic speed).

    "Changes that normally occur over a matter of centuries are transpiring over decades," according to the report. "The Nisqually Glacier, for example, one of Rainier's 28 named glaciers, has been disappearing since 1983. It's currently at a historic minimum and still shrinking - more than 3 feet every 10 days."

    Paul Kennard, a National Park Service geomorphologist, said of the rapidity of the decline of the glaciers, "If you look at it on a graph, it's like a Ping-Pong ball just fell off the edge of the table."

    And things have only sped up since then, both in terms of hotter temperatures as well as loss of ice on the Pacific Northwest iconic mountain.

    To give you an idea of how rapidly ACD is occurring, one of the most striking infographics I've ever seen on the rapidity with which the global temperature is increasing can be viewed here. Make sure you watch it; it only takes a moment.

    Climate disruption only continues to speed up.

    NASA recently released data showing that the planet has just seen seven straight months of not just record-breaking, but record-shattering heat. It is clear, through the space agency's data, that this year we are already well on track to see what will likely be the largest increase in global temperature a single year has ever seen.

    The NASA data also show that April was the hottest April ever recorded, as well as the fact that it crushed the previous April record by the largest margin of increase ever recorded.

    That makes it three months in a row that the monthly record has been broken, and easily at that, by the largest margin ever. When record-smashing months started in February, it was then that scientists began talking about a "climate emergency," and since then our situation has only escalated.

    In particular, the way this is playing out in the Arctic is horrifying. An Arctic without summer sea ice could happen as early as this September, a turn of events that would have serious implications for global climate patterns.

    The decline in Arctic sea ice extent, area and volume is in the midst of a deep dive more severe than those that occurred in 2007 and 2012. The loss of sea ice is even outpacing the worst-case modeling predictions. It's worth noting that less than 10 years ago, scientists believed that an Arctic free of summer sea ice was not something that would happen until at least 2100.

    But given that a recent four-day period saw a net loss of ice area the size of New Mexico, we will be lucky to see summer sea ice in the Arctic in September two to three years from now.

    Given the radically high temperature records and corresponding ice loss, scientists have been saying that the Arctic is now in "uncharted territory."

    When we look at the amount of human-generated carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it too is only continuing to increase.

    Global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration first crossed over the 400 parts per million threshold in 2013, but now, scientists are speculating that we may have entered an era when the global concentration remains permanently over that mark -- an event some scientists are seeing as a point of no return.

    And with the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide increasing, temperatures are increasing right alongside it, and with higher temperatures comes a lowering of the oxygen content of most of the global oceans before 2040.

    Yes, that is as scary as it sounds. According to a recent press release from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a reduction in the amount of dissolved oxygen in the oceans due to ACD is already happening, and will become widespread before 2040.

    Matthew Long, the lead author of the study that this press release is based on, stated, bluntly:
    Loss of oxygen in the ocean is one of the serious side effects of a warming atmosphere, and a major threat to marine life. Since oxygen concentrations in the ocean naturally vary depending on variations in winds and temperature at the surface, it's been challenging to attribute any deoxygenation to climate change. This new study tells us when we can expect the impact from climate change to overwhelm the natural variability.
    The press release added, "Scientists know that a warming climate can be expected to gradually sap the ocean of oxygen." This is literally making it harder for fish to breathe, as well as exacerbating the effects of ACD and ocean acidification.

    Facts like these are why, according to a report recently published in the UK, a person may be five times as likely to die in an extinction event than in a car crash.

    On multiple levels, this is extremely difficult information to take in: emotionally, intellectually, psychologically, spiritually. But this is the world we live in today, and we need an accurate understanding of what is happening in order to make informed, and better choices for how we are to live our lives.

    It is in the spirit of providing the most updated, accurate information available that this dispatch is written.

    Read on, sit with the information and then use it as a mirror for your life.

    Earth

    A report by Lloyd's of London sees the single greatest threat to civilization over the next four decades as ACD-amplified extreme floods and droughts that impact multiple global grain-producing "breadbaskets" simultaneously.

    Hence, the "Food System Shock" report warns that when this occurs, mass rioting, civil war, terrorist attacks and mass starvation are likely to happen.
    The impacts of ACD on various species continue to make themselves known.
     
    A cascade effect of ACD impacting weather, insect availability and other food sources is taking a serious toll on birds like the red knot, which is seeing its populations decline as the birds' body mass shrinks, according to a recently published study.

    The report shows how, in the case of the red knot, the consequences of ACD are only being seen at a distance, which is another important concept for us to get our minds around as the crisis unfolds on multiple levels.

    In this case, the body size of the red knot has been decreasing as its breeding grounds in the Arctic continue to warm, but, as the report states: "The real toll of this change appears not in the rapidly changing northern part of their range but in the apparently more stable tropical wintering range.

    The resulting smaller, short-billed birds have difficulty reaching their major food source, deeply buried mollusks, which decreases the survival of birds born during particularly warm years."

    On that note, a recently released report by the North American Bird Conservation Initiative shows that one-third of all North American bird species are at risk of going extinct, and ACD is one of the drivers of the catastrophic bird loss.

    Water

    As usual, the majority of the most dramatically obvious impacts of ACD are in this sector of the dispatch.

    The World Bank issued a new report warning that global water shortages will deal a "severe hit" to economies across the Middle East, North Africa, and Central and South Asia as ACD progresses.

    The report warned that by 2050 growing demand for water from both cities and agriculture will cause dramatic water shortages in regions where it is currently in abundance, in addition to worsening shortages that already exist.

    This will, according to the World Bank, generate broad amounts of conflict and human migration across the regions cited.

    Another report from the World Bank shows that, conversely, by 2050 there will be 1.3 billion people, along with $158 trillion in assets, put at risk from flooding and sea level rise alone. The twin factors of ACD and urbanization are the culprits, and the report warns that increasingly intense extreme weather disasters will continue to make matters worse as well.

    Meanwhile, in the Micronesian island nation of Palau, the famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Jellyfish Lake is losing its namesake. Severe drought and increasingly hot temperatures are causing the unique non-stinging jellyfish to vanish, and possibly not return.
    Sea level rise is continuing at abrupt rates.

    A study in the journal Environmental Research Letters linked ACD-caused sea level rise, along with wave action, to the Pacific Ocean swallowing several villages and five of the Solomon Islands.
    More and more studies are showing the likelihood of far higher sea level increases than previously projected, as the rapid pace of melting of both the Antarctic and Greenland icecaps increases.

    The studies show that abrupt sea level rise is an increasingly realistic threat, with sea levels estimated to rise by six feet within this century, and far higher in the next -- flooding out many of the world's heavily populated coastal areas and cities.

    As if to underscore that point, a study recently released by the UK-based charity Christian Aid projected over 1 billion people at risk from coastal flooding by 2060, with the populations of China, India and the United States being the most heavily impacted. Again, ACD and overpopulation are cited as the prime drivers of the crisis.

    Recent images of the unprecedented coral bleaching event that is signaling the demise of Australia's Great Barrier Reef reveal the complete destruction of coral colonies that are large enough to fill an area the size of Scotland.

    Recent findings by leading ACD researchers and coral reef scientists show that the exceedingly warm water temperatures that drove the bleaching event at the Great Barrier Reef were made 175 times more likely by ACD, and could well become the "normal" water temperature with permanent bleaching there within the next 18 years.

    Meanwhile, India is experiencing dramatic coral bleaching events as well. Rohan Arthur, the scientist who heads the coral reef program at the Nature Conservation Foundation based in India, has been studying the coral reefs and documenting the bleaching. Arthur described India's widespread coral bleaching as "heart wrenching," and expects it to continue to worsen.

    In Florida, it's not warm waters that are destroying coral. Instead, acidification is causing that state's coral to disintegrate faster than had been predicted, and a recent report shows that this trend will only accelerate as ocean acidification progresses, with the world's oceans continuing to rapidly absorb carbon dioxide.

    Positive feedback loops have been wreaking havoc in the Arctic as well.

    Arctic Ocean acidification is being sped up by erosion and river runoff in Siberia. As the permafrost is thawing there, coastlines across Russia are falling into the ocean, along with rivers dumping massive amounts of carbon into the ocean, which is all combining to ramp up the acidification, which is bad news for all things living in the once-pristine waters of the Arctic.

    In Austria, the glaciers are melting so fast, they have retreated an average of 72 feet during last year alone, which is more than twice the rate of the previous year, according to a recent survey.

    In the Antarctic, the news of more melting continues. In eastern Antarctica, where the vast majority of the ice volume resides -- an area once believed to be largely free of the impacts of ACD -- the Nansen Ice Shelf has produced an iceberg 20 kilometers long.

    A giant crack in the shelf that has existed since 1999 expanded dramatically in 2014, and that trend continued into this year, when melting on the surface and from the warming seas below the shelf caused an area larger than the area of Manhattan to release out into the ocean.

    On the other side of that continent, the Antarctic Peninsula saw an incredible new record high temperature of 17 degrees Celsius last year. This, coupled with the ongoing ramping up of the melting of the ice shelves, is having global implications already, including sea level rise, and impacts on global weather patterns.

    Extreme drought across the world continues.

    In California, Gov. Jerry Brown has deemed that state's water conservation efforts permanent, a sign of resignation to the fact that the state's drought is now being considered ongoing, without an end in sight. Ninety percent of California remains in drought, and summer is just beginning.

    As if to underscore that point, Lake Mead, the largest US reservoir, broke a record in May by declining to its lowest level ever recorded.

    In Zimbabwe, the UN Development Programme announced recently that 4.5 million people, which is at least half of the country's total rural population, will need food and water aid by next March, as an extreme drought persists with no end in sight.

    Fire

    Summer had barely found its stride when residents of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada, became part of the historical record: Their town saw the single largest fire evacuation event in Alberta's history.

    More than 80,000 residents of the tar sands oil town fled massive wildfires, in what couldn't be a more obvious sign from the planet that engaging in the most environmentally destructive method of fossil fuel extraction might not be the best idea.

    Things settled down a bit after the winds shifted and the fires subsided -- until the winds shifted again and the fires returned, forcing yet more evacuations as people again did not get the earth's memo.
    So far this year, 22 times more land has burned than burned in the same period last year, and that year was one of the worst fire seasons in Canada's history.

    Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, along with the rest of the country's mainstream media, have opted not to mention ACD when discussing the wildfires that threaten their earth-destroying cash cow, the tar sands.

    Meanwhile, a recently published study shows what we are already seeing -- that warming temperatures in the northern latitudes are spurring more fires across Alaska, which in turn cause increasingly warming temperatures ... hence, yet another runaway feedback loop is unveiled.

    Out-of-control wildfires raged across the Russian-Chinese border, as well as nearby Lake Baikal, according to The Siberian Times, resulting in more ACD refugees.

    Air

    As mentioned in the introduction of this dispatch, heat records around the world continue to be set at a breakneck pace, including the overall record heat increases for the entire planet.

    More specifically, Southwest Asia and India recently saw historic heat waves that have brought more than 150 deaths. Cambodia and Laos each set record highs for any day of the year during April. Cambodia saw 108.7 degrees Fahrenheit on April 15, and on April 26, Thailand set a record for national energy consumption (air conditioning), according to The Associated Press.

    India went on to break its heat record in May, when the city of Rajasthan saw 51 degrees Celsius (123.8 degrees Fahrenheit), as the heat wave besetting northern India persists, as temperatures have exceeded 40 degrees Celsius for several weeks in a row now.

    Looking to the north, the Russian Hydrometeorological Center recently reported that since May 2015, every single month has been the warmest in Russia's history. By way of example, in March, the temperature deviation on islands in the Barents Sea was a staggering 12 degrees Celsius.

    In Alaska, despite it being very early in the summer, heat records are breaking by the dozens.

    Recent statements from the National Weather Service reported that the towns of McGrath and Delta Junction in the interior of the state hit a high of 78 degrees and a low of 49 degrees, respectively, beating the previous records set in 2005 and 1988 for each. Fairbanks set a new high temperature record of 82, which shattered a century-old record of 80 degrees set in 1915.

    The largest city in Alaska, Anchorage, set a record of 72 degrees, a stunning seven degrees above the previous high that was set in 2014, while Juneau and Bethel, set new heat records. Even Barrow, in the far north, saw 42 degrees recently, breaking the previous heat record by four degrees.

    Given that Anchorage has already seen the second-largest number of record high temperatures for any year and there is still 63 percent of the year left, 2016 will certainly break the previous record of high temperatures seen, which was set in 2003.

    In Africa, the heat continues to be unrelenting, and that trend is expected to not only continue, but increase, according to a study recently published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

    According to the study, by 2100, heat waves on that continent will be hotter, last longer and occur with much greater frequency.

    One of the research team's authors said that "unusual" heat events will become much more regular, "meaning it can occur every year, and not just once in 38 years -- in climate change scenarios."

    Denial and Reality

    Never a dull moment on the ACD denial front, especially with Donald Trump dominating headlines in the United States, and the corporate media giving him all the coverage he could possibly hope for.

    Trump, who could very well become the next US president, recently named ACD "skeptic" Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota) as his energy adviser. Cramer is one of the leading oil and gas drilling advocates in the US, and North Dakota has been one of the states on the front lines of the US shale oil and gas boom.

    Over in the UK, a group of the most eminent scientists there recently criticized The Times of London newspaper for its "distorted coverage" of ACD, along with the "poor quality" of its journalism around human-caused climate disruption. Media misrepresentation has been a major culprit for much of the public unawareness and misunderstanding of ACD.

    Back in the US, on the reality front, Kevin Faulconer, the Republican mayor of San Diego, is pushing forward with a plan to run the city completely on renewable energy by 2035.

    Another hopeful note: Recent polling shows that now half of all conservatives in the United States believe that ACD is real, which is an increase of 19 percent over the last two years.

    Exxon, now targeted by a campaign aimed at making the oil giant pay for ACD, is working overtime to blunt the attack. Exxon is sending executives and lobbyists to meet with state representatives in an effort to mitigate what could be extreme economic losses for the company if the campaign continues to be as successful as it has been thus far.

    The campaign against Exxon is now deeply tied to the overall campaign to pressure universities and businesses to divest from fossil fuel companies, which has been incredibly successful and is becoming more so by the week.

    Lastly, in a story that has not gotten anywhere near the coverage it deserves, the US government has been actively resettling its first official ACD "climate refugees."

    A large grant of federal money was given to Louisiana's community of Isle de Jean Charles, where the people have been struggling (and losing) against rising seas, coastal erosion and increasingly violent storms.

    It is important to note this development, since well before 2100, there will be millions of people along US coastlines who will have to be resettled further inland as sea level rise only continues to speed up.

    Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's latest inventory of greenhouse gas emissions provided the warning that methane and carbon dioxide emissions are "going completely in the wrong direction," as the amounts being injected into the atmosphere continue to accelerate.

    Dahr Jamail, a Truthout staff reporter, is the author of The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, (Haymarket Books, 2009), and Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from Iraq for more than a year, as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last 10 years, and has won the Martha Gellhorn Award for Investigative Journalism, among other awards.
    His third book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co-written with William Rivers Pitt, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in Washington State.





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