Category Archives: Environment & Conservation

The most intellectual creature to ever walk the Earth is destroying its only home – Dr. Jane Goodall.

We are experiencing the sixth great extinction, the situation is critical, in the last 40 years, we have lost some 60% of all animal and plant species on Earth.

Each species, no matter how insignificant it may seem, has a role to play in the rich tapestry of life, known today as biodiversity.

The huge global biodiversity losses now becoming apparent represent a crisis equalling and quite possibly surpassing climate change.

During my years studying chimpanzees in Gombe national park in Tanzania I experienced the magic of the rainforest. I learned how all life is interconnected, how each species, no matter how insignificant it may seem, has a role to play in the rich tapestry of life, known today as biodiversity. Even the loss of one thread can have a ripple effect and result in major damage to the whole.

Biodiversity describes the rich diversity of life on Earth, from individual species to entire ecosystems. The term was coined in 1985, a contraction of “biological diversity”, but the huge global biodiversity losses now becoming apparent represent a crisis equalling and quite possibly surpassing climate change. Deforestation, poaching, industrial farming and pollution are some of the ways in which the planet’s natural ecosystem is being disrupted, with devastating results.
Mother nature is being destroyed at an ever-faster rate for the sake of short term gain. This, along with our horrifying population growth, poverty, causing people to destroy the environment simply to try to make a living, and the unsustainable lifestyles of the rest of us who have way more than we need, is the root cause of all the planet’s woes.

How come the most intellectual creature to ever walk the Earth is destroying its only home?

. . . The Guardian

See also

CLIMATE SHOCK. The Economic Consequences of a Hotter Planet * THE SIXTH EXTINCTION. An Unnatural History * ARE WE IN THE MIDST OF THE SIXTH MASS EXTINCTION? A view from the world of amphibians

MOONSHOT FOR BIOLOGY. $5bn project to map DNA of every animal, plant and fungus – Hannah Devlin * The Earth BioGenome Project.

International sequencing drive will involve reading genomes of 1.5m species.
The total volume of biological data that will be gathered is expected to be on the “exascale”, more than that accumulated by Twitter, YouTube or the whole of astronomy.

An ambitious international project to sequence the DNA of every known animal, plant and fungus in the world over the next 10 years has been launched.

Described as “the next moonshot for biology”, the Earth BioGenome Project is expected to cost $4.7bn (£3.6bn) and involve reading the genomes of 1.5m species.

Prof Harris Lewin of the University of California, Davis, who chairs the project, said it could be as transformational for biology as the Human Genome Project, which decoded the human genome between 1990 and 2003.

. . . The Guardian

Powerful advances in genome sequencing technology, informatics, automation, and artificial intelligence, have propelled humankind to the threshold of a new beginning in understanding, utilizing, and conserving biodiversity. For the first time in history, it is possible to efficiently sequence the genomes of all known species, and to use genomics to help discover the remaining 80 to 90 percent of species that are currently hidden from science.

A GRAND CHALLENGE

The Earth BioGenome Project (EBP), a moonshot for biology, aims to sequence, catalog and characterize the genomes of all of Earth’s eukaryotic biodiversity over a period of ten years.

A GRAND VISION

Create a new foundation for biology to drive solutions for preserving biodiversity and sustaining human societies.

. . . Earth BioGenome Project

Only 403 years to go. Plastic bottle washes up looking ‘almost new’ after nearly 50 years at sea – Kate Lyons.

A plastic washing-up bottle that is at least 47 years old has been found washed up on a beach in the UK with its lettering and messaging still clear, prompting warnings about the enduring problem of plastic waste.

Surfing Indonesia

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The bottle advertises itself as 4d off, meaning it dates back to before decimalisation was introduced in Britain in 1971, making it at least 47 years old.

Some types of plastic bottles take 450 years to break down.

Every dot represents 20kg of plastic, according to a six year worldwide study.

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The Guardian

Pioneering wolf becomes first sighted in Belgium for a century – Daniel Boffey * Harmless or vicious hunter? The uneasy return of Europe’s wolves – Patrick Barkham.

Researchers have tracked Naya from eastern Germany into the Netherlands and now Flanders.

Daniel Boffey.

The first recorded wolf on Belgian soil for at least 100 years has made her bloody mark.
Farmers in north-east Flanders have been put on high alert after evidence emerged that Naya, a female originally from eastern Germany that has been making a pioneering trek across Europe, had killed two sheep and injured a third near the Belgian town of Meerhout.

Naya’s arrival in Belgium completes the return of the predator to every mainland country in Europe, turning back decades of persecution, although not every community might welcome it.
“Any sheep farmers should know [they are] in range of this wolf,” said Hugh Jansman, a researcher from the Wageningen University and research centre, who has been following Naya’s westward trek across hundreds of miles of European landscape.

Naya, who will turn two in May, was given a collar with a tracking device when she was six months old by the Technical University of Dresden, but it was only in October last year that she left her parental pack in rural Lübtheener Heide, between Hamburg and Berlin, to push the boundaries for wolf-kind and strike out across Germany, into the Netherlands and, finally, across the border to Belgium on 3 January.

She has seemingly settled in a large military area near the town of Leopoldsburg, about 15 miles (25km) from the Dutch border, in Flemish Belgium, Jansman said

But Naya’s arrival is only the latest sign of the swift repopulation of Europe by the predator. Last year scientists revealed evidence that a breeding pack of wolves had settled in west Jutland in Denmark – the first in the country for 200 years.

“We are at the front of the migratory wave of wolves,” Jansman said. “In 2000 the first wolf pack with cubs was in eastern Germany. Currently there are 74 cub packs with cubs in eastern Germany. And in Lower Saxony, closest to the Dutch border, in 2012 there was only one settled female but currently there are 14 packs of cubs.

“Agricultural areas are being abandoned by people so they are re-wilding again, leaving lots of space for carnivores. The countryside is being abandoned by young people who are moving to the cities.
“This increase in wolves numbers and distribution area is going quite rapidly. So it is not a matter of if wolves are coming to the Netherlands, and probably Belgium, but how fast. We have seen in recent weeks how fast they can go.”

The data from Naya’s transmitter suggests she has been covering between 30km and 70km a night, traversing swamplands and forests as she has sought a home in which to establish her own pack, with reports in the Netherlands of dead sheep neatly tallying with her movements.
“Some wolves just stay in their area, some others, about 20%, go on a trek and walk hundreds of kilometres and settle down,” Jansman said. “Naya is in the blue ocean, as there is so much free habitat for her.
“She passed through four or five natural parks in the Netherlands but she left them all after one or two days showing that she was looking for something else.

“This is the first place where she found a big military area. It could be the smell of humans is much less in a military area. It’s a prime reason to settle down.”
“I followed the places where she stayed,” Jansman added. “We found leftover roe deer and hares, so she has been eating wild animals as well, as expected. And one thing we can tell is that she has totally avoided humans, and anything to do with humans.”

The Guardian

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Harmless or vicious hunter? The uneasy return of Europe’s wolves

Patrick Barkham

This winter the first wolf in 100 years arrived in Belgium, completing the animals’ return to mainland Europe. But can Europeans relearn how to live alongside the predators?

To some it is a roe deer that eats meat: an adaptable animal capable of living peaceably alongside humans. To others it is a demonic killing machine that ruins farmers – and whose presence is a symbol of the city’s contempt for rural life.

The wolf is on the rise in Europe. This winter it finally reconquered Belgium, the last mainland European country from which it had been absent after decades of persecution.

After crossing the Alps from Italy to France in 1992 and from Poland into Germany at the turn of this century, the wolf has slipped into densely populated territory where people have no memory of living alongside it. Experts say Germany’s wolf population is growing “exponentially”– and spreading, into Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Denmark, which discovered its first wolf pack for 200 years last spring.

The wolf is protected by EU law but a rising tide of hostility is encouraging some politicians to push to kill it. France approved a cull of up to 40 wolves following protests last year. When Germany’s wolf population reached 60 packs, its agriculture minister recently argued that numbers must be regulated by culling. Finland has culled its wolf population down to 150, and this winter Norway is slaughtering about half of its wolf population of less than 100 animals.

The cull sparked protests in cities and towns across Norway last weekend after the courts rejected a legal challenge to the cull by WWF Norway. Conservationists are appealing against the decision but the next court date is in April – after the wolf hunting season has finished.

The Norwegian government wants just four to six litters of wolf puppies each year. “We will be keeping the population down to a level that is critically endangered, which we think is against the law,” said Ingrid Lomelde, conservation director for WWF Norway.

According to Lomelde, the resurgence of hostility to the wolf is driven by political parties seeking votes in rural areas. “There is a perceived conflict between rural and more urban areas. The wolf became the symbol of how people in rural areas would like to take that power back and have less centralised decision-making,” she said.

But for Erling Aas-Eng, a farmer and head of the farmers’ union in Hedmark, where wolves are particularly numerous, the wolf demonstrates the gulf between town and country. “This distance is growing. One generation back, everybody had a grandmother living in rural areas. Now our lives are not familiar to people living in the big cities anymore.”

Norway’s government offers financial support to help wolf-troubled farmers switch from sheep to cattle but it is difficult to change business models and summer pastures won’t always support cattle instead of sheep, according to Aas-Eng. Norway’s upland pastures aren’t lush, so flocks can’t be securely fenced in small areas like in other European countries. “We need a lot of wires and a lot of electricity and most of the time the wolf finds a way through the fence,” said Aas-Eng.

Many farmers would rather Norway’s small wolf population was non-existent. “Our point of view is we shouldn’t have wolves in Norway,” said Aas-Eng. “The original Scandinavian population died out in the 1950s. These wolves are reinvented from the big Finnish-Russian wolf population. It’s not a good idea to allow them in. It makes for big conflict.”

Since the first wolf pack arrived in Saxony in 2000, Germany has led the way in how to adapt to the return of the wolf.

Many German states have “wolf commissioners” who work with farmers to provide them with electric fences and livestock guard dogs. Farmers receive financial support (up to €15,000 (£13,000) over three years in Brandenburg) and generous compensation for dead livestock. In Saxony, a management plan ensures that “problem” wolves that prey on livestock or get too close to humans are GPS-collared to understand their behaviour and may be deterred with rubber bullets; shooting a “problem” wolf is a last resort.

Public education has encouraged acceptance. The government-funded Wolves in Saxony programme educates local people, takes wolf scats into schools (studies show the German wolf’s diet is roe deer, followed by red deer and wild boar) and children pretend to be wolves or deer in role-playing games. In 2006, 84% of the public in Saxony was positive or neutral about wolves but, as the wolf population rises, Philipp Kob of Wolves in Saxony says that figure will have fallen.

What happens next?

“There is an ecological level where the wolf will get to a stable population but the other question is where the acceptance level of the human population is,” said Kob.

Valeska de Pellegrini, wolf commissioner in the German state of Brandenburg, is hopeful. “If we are not used to something, we are afraid,” she said. “When the wolves are new to an area, there is lots of hesitation and people don’t like to have the wolf but if they learn to coexist over the years, people get more friendly with the wolf. But if the political system goes in another direction I’m afraid that it will be a bad time for the wolf.”

The future must be “land sharing”, where humans and wolves co-exist in densely-populated areas, according to Guillaume Chapron, associate professor in ecology at Sweden’s University of Agricultural Sciences.

While Chapron praises German efforts to adapt to the wolf, he said the rest of Northern Europe “is a model to avoid for predator conservation”. He detects more willingness to live alongside wolves in southern Europe, particularly with 3,000 wolves on the Iberian peninsula.

“My intuitive understanding is that in Nordic countries we expect society to be working perfectly, rules are followed and the government takes care of everything. When you have a trouble-making species in a society where everything is supposed to work perfectly, that’s very disturbing. In southern Europe we accept society to be a little bit messy. When wolves create problems, it’s just how life is supposed to be.”

According to Chapron, Europe must learn from Africa. “It’s insulting to the world that one of the richest countries, Norway, cannot have more than 50 wolves, considering Botswana, Mozambique and other extremely poor countries in Africa, are working really very hard to keep their lions. Imagine the outcry if those nations sought to kill half of their lions? We can’t even say Norway is trying but failing – it’s government policy to have as few wolves as possible.

“We need African countries to teach us, rich Europeans, how to live with predators.”

The Guardian

A Brief History of Environmentalism –  Rex Weyler, Greenpeace International. 

“The goal of life is living in agreement with nature.” – Zeno ~ 450 BC (from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers)

Awareness of our delicate relationship with our habitat likely arose among early hunter-gatherers when they saw how fire and hunting tools impacted their environment. Anthropologists have found evidence of human-induced animal and plant extinctions from 50,000 BCE, when only about 200,000 Homo sapiens roamed the Earth. We can only speculate about how these early humans reacted, but migrating to new habitats appears to be a common response.

Ecological awareness first appears in the human record at least 5,000 years ago. Vedic sages praised the wild forests in their hymns, Taoists urged that human life should reflect nature’s patterns and the Buddha taught compassion for all sentient beings.

In the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, we see apprehension about forest destruction and drying marshes. When Gilgamesh cuts down sacred trees, the deities curse Sumer with drought, and Ishtar (mother of the Earth goddess) sends the Bull of Heaven to punish Gilgamesh.

In ancient Greek mythology, when the hunter Orion vows to kill all the animals, Gaia objects and creates a great scorpion to kill Orion. When the scorpion fails, Artemis, goddess of the forests and mistress of animals, shoots Orion with an arrow.

In North America, Pawnee Eagle Chief, Letakots-Lesa, told anthropologist Natalie Curtis that “Tirawa, the one Above, did not speak directly to humans… he showed himself through the beasts, and from them and from the stars, the sun, and the moon should humans learn.”

Some of the earliest human stories contain lessons about the sacredness of wilderness, the importance of restraining our power, and our obligation to care for the natural world.

Early environmental response

Five thousand years ago, the Indus civilisation of Mohenjo Darro (an ancient city in modern-day Pakistan), were already recognising the effects of pollution on human health and practiced waste management and sanitation. In Greece, as deforestation led to soil erosion, the philosopher Plato lamented, “All the richer and softer parts have fallen away, and the mere skeleton of the land remains.” Communities in China, India, and Peru understood the impact of soil erosion and prevented it by creating terraces, crop rotation, and nutrient recycling.

The Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen began to observe environmental health problems such as acid contamination in copper miners. Hippocrates’ book, De aëre, aquis et locis (Air, Waters, and Places), is the earliest surviving European work on human ecology.

Advancing agriculture boosted human populations but also caused soil erosion and attracted insect infestations that led to severe famines between 200 and 1200 CE.

In 1306, the English king Edward I limited coal burning in London due to smog. In the 17th century, the naturalist and gardener John Evelyn wrote that London resembled “the suburbs of Hell.” These events inspired the first ‘renewable’ energy boom in Europe, as governments started to subsidise water and wind power.

In the 16th century, the Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder painted scenes of raw sewage and other pollution emptying into rivers, and Dutch lawyer Hugo Grotius wrote The Free Sea, claiming that pollution and war violate natural law.

Environmental rights

Perhaps the first real environmental activists were the Bishnoi Hindus of Khejarli, who were slaughtered by the Maharaja of Jodhpur in 1720 for attempting to protect the forest that he felled to build himself a palace.

The 18th century witnessed the dawn of modern environmental rights. After a yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin petitioned to manage waste and to remove tanneries for clean air as a public “right” (albeit, on land stolen from Indigenous nations). Later, American artist George Catlin proposed that Indigenous land be protected as a “natural right”.

At the same time in Britain, Jeremy Benthu, wrote An Introduction to Principles of Morals and Legislation which argued for animal rights. Thomas Malthus wrote his famous essay warning that human overpopulation would lead to ecological destruction. Knowledge of global warming began 200 years ago, when Jean Baptiste Fourier calculated that the Earth’s atmosphere trapped heat like a greenhouse.

Then, in 1835, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote Nature, encouraging us to appreciate the natural world for its own sake and proposing a limit on human expansion into the wilderness. American Botanist William Bartram and ornithologist James Audubon dedicated themselves to the conservation of wildlife. Henry David Thoreau wrote his seminal ecological treatise, Walden, which has since inspired generations of environmentalists.

A few decades later, George Perkins Marsh wrote Man and Nature, denouncing humanity’s indiscriminate “warfare” upon wilderness, warning of climate change, and insisting that “The world cannot afford to wait” – a plea we still hear today.

At the end of the 19th century, in Jena, Germany, zoologist Ernst Haeckel wrote Generelle Morphologie der Organismen in which he discussed the relationships among species and coined the word ‘ökologie’ (from the Greek oikos, meaning home), the science we now know as ecology.

In 1892, John Muir founded the Sierra Club in the US to protect the country’s wilderness. Seventy years later, a chapter of the Sierra Club in western Canada broke away to become more active. This was the beginning of Greenpeace.

Environmental action

“That land is a community is the basic concept of ecology,” wrote Aldo Leopold in A Sand County Almanac, “but that land is to be loved and respected is an extension of ethics … a thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

In the early 20th century, the chemist Alice Hamilton led a campaign against lead poisoning from leaded gasoline, accusing General Motors of willful murder. The corporation attacked Hamilton, and it took governments 50 years to ban leaded gasoline. Meanwhile, industrial smog choked major world cities. In 1952, 4,000 people died in London’s infamous killer fog, and four years later the British Parliament passed the first Clean Air Act.

Ecology grew into a full-fledged, global movement with the development of nuclear weapons. Albert Einstein, who felt morally troubled by his contribution to the nuclear bomb, drafted an anti-nuclear manifesto in 1955 with British philosopher Bertrand Russell, signed by ten Nobel Prize winners. The letter inspired the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in the UK – a model for modern, non-violent civil disobedience. In 1958, the Quaker Committee for Non-Violent Action launched two boats – the Golden Rule and Phoenix – into US nuclear test sites, a direct inspiration for Greenpeace a decade later.

Rachel Carson brought the environmental movement into focus with the 1962 publication of Silent Spring, describing the impact of chemical pesticides on biodiversity. “For the first time in the history of the world,” she wrote, “every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals.” Shortly before her death she expressed the emerging ecological ethic in a magazine essay: “It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the Earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know the sense of wonder and humility.”

Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss cited Silent Spring as a key influence for his concept of ‘Deep Ecology’ – ecological awareness that goes beyond the logic of biological systems to a deep, personal experience of the self as an integrated part of nature.

In The Subversive Science, Paul Shepard described ecology as a “primordial axiom,” revealed in ancient cultures, which should guide all human social constructions. Ecology was “subversive” to Shepard because it supplanted human exceptionalism with interdependence.

In India, villagers in Gopeshwar, Uttarakhand, inspired by Gandhi and the 18th century Bishnoi Hindus, defended the forest against commercial logging by encircling and embracing trees. Their movement spread across northern India, known as Chipko (“to embrace”) – the original tree-huggers.

In 1968, the American writer Cliff Humphrey founded Ecology Action. One media stunt involved Humphrey gathering 60 people in Berkeley, California, to smash his 1958 Dodge Rambler into the street, declaring, “these things pollute the earth.” Prophetically, Humphrey told Greenpeace co-founder Bob Hunter, “This thing has just begun.”

A year later, inspired by the writings of Carson, Shepard, and Naess, and by the actions of Chipko and Ecology Action, a group of Canadian and American activists set out to merge peace with ecology, and Greenpeace was born.

Co-founder Ben Metcalfe commissioned 12 billboard signs around Vancouver that read:

Ecology, Look it up., You’re involved.

It’s hard to imagine now, but in 1969, most people did have to look it up. Ecology was still not a household word, although it soon would be.

In 1977, after two anti-nuclear bomb campaigns and confrontations with Soviet whalers and Norwegian sealers, Greenpeace purchased a retired trawler in London and renamed it the Rainbow Warrior, after a indigenous legend from Canada. The Cree story (recounted in Warriors of the Rainbow, by William Willoya and Vinson Brown) tells of a time when the land, rivers, and air are poisoned, and a group of people from all nations of the world band together to save the Earth.

Nearly a half-century after the foundation of Greenpeace, the global ecology movement has reached every corner of the world, with thousands of groups springing up to defend the environment. Meanwhile, the challenges facing us grow ever more daunting. The next half-century will test whether or not humanity can respond to the challenge.

Greenpeace 

The next energy revolution is here – Gao Jifan.

Over the period of one decade, the capitalized cost of generating solar energy in 2015 has decreased to as low as one sixth the cost in 2005, and I believe it will not take long for solar energy generation to be economically cheaper than thermal power generation worldwide.

Every year at the World Economic Forum, energy consumption and climate change are always hot topics.

Looking back at the history of human civilisation, for a long time, firewood was the primary source of energy; however, back then, energy ultilization was low and as such air pollution emissions were also low.

The invention of the steam engine in the 18th century marked the beginning of the industrial revolution, which led to the mining and consumption of coal on a large scale. In 1920, coal accounted for 62% of primary energy consumption, indicating that the world had entered the Coal Age.

In 1965, petroleum replaced coal as the most consumed energy, which led the world into the “petroleum age”. In 1979, petroleum contributed 54% of the world energy consumption, marking the second energy revolution from coal to petroleum. Up until now, fossil fuels have continued to dominate as our energy resource.

With each new age, the use and efficiency of energy have increased significantly — as have, unfortunately, levels of severe environmental pollution. Our future energy system must therefore be clean and low-carbon to ensure the sustainable development of human civilisation.

We are now embarking on a new era of energy revolution. The energy system of the future should have the following three features:

Low carbon energy production. Fossil fuels have to be burned to release energy, which caused emissions and environmental pollution. The existing intensive industrial usage of fossil fuels has significantly harmed the environment. Meanwhile, for most economically under-developed countries around the world, the cost of clean energy is too high to be affordable.

Solar power, however, is one of the best solutions. Not only is solar energy production clean, it may also soon become a much more affordable source of energy, as technology development and innovation continues to reduce the cost of solar power generation.

……. continued at Medium.com

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Gao Jifan, President , China Photovoltaic Industry Association

Trump’s Rogue America – Joseph E. Stiglitz. 

Donald Trump has thrown a hand grenade into the global economic architecture that was so painstakingly constructed in the years after World War II’s end. The attempted destruction of this rules-based system of global governance – now manifested in Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the 2015 Paris climate agreement – is just the latest aspect of the US president’s assault on our basic system of values and institutions.

The world is only slowly coming fully to terms with the malevolence of the Trump administration’s agenda. He and his cronies have attacked the US press – a vital institution for preserving Americans’ freedoms, rights, and democracy – as an “enemy of the people.” They have attempted to undermine the foundations of our knowledge and beliefs – our epistemology – by labeling as “fake” anything that challenges their aims and arguments, even rejecting science itself. Trump’s sham justifications for spurning the Paris climate agreement is only the most recent evidence of this.

For millennia before the middle of the eighteenth century, standards of living stagnated. It was the Enlightenment, with its embrace of reasoned discourse and scientific inquiry, that underpinned the enormous increases in standards of living in the subsequent two and a half centuries.

With the Enlightenment also came a commitment to discover and address our prejudices. As the idea of human equality – and its corollary, basic individual rights for all – quickly spread, societies began struggling to eliminate discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and, eventually, other aspects of human identity, including disability and sexual orientation.

Trump seeks to reverse all of that. His rejection of science, in particular climate science, threatens technological progress. And his bigotry toward women, Hispanics, and Muslims (except those, like the rulers of Gulf oil sheikhdoms, from whom he and his family can profit), threatens the functioning of American society and its economy, by undermining people’s trust that the system is fair to all.

As a populist, Trump has exploited the justifiable economic discontent that has become so widespread in recent years, as many Americans have become downwardly mobile amid soaring inequality. But his true objective – to enrich himself and other gilded rent-seekers at the expense of those who supported him – is revealed by his tax and health-care plans.

Trump’s proposed tax reforms, so far as one can see, outdo George W. Bush’s in their regressivity (the share of the benefits that go to those at the top of the income distribution). And, in a country where life expectancy is already declining, his health-care overhaul would leave 23 million more Americans without health insurance.

While Trump and his cabinet may know how to make business deals, they haven’t the slightest idea how the economic system as a whole works. If the administration’s macroeconomic policies are implemented, they will result in a larger trade deficit and a further decline in manufacturing.

America will suffer under Trump. Its global leadership role was being destroyed, even before Trump broke faith with over 190 countries by withdrawing from the Paris accord. At this point, rebuilding that leadership will demand a truly heroic effort. We share a common planet, and the world has learned the hard way that we have to get along and work together. We have learned, too, that cooperation can benefit all.

So what should the world do with a babyish bully in the sandbox, who wants everything for himself and won’t be reasoned with? How can the world manage a “rogue” US?

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel gave the right answer when, after meeting with Trump and other G7 leaders last month, she said that Europe could no longer “fully count on others,” and would have to “fight for our own future ourselves.” This is the time for Europe to pull together, recommit itself to the values of the Enlightenment, and stand up to the US, as France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, did so eloquently with a handshake that stymied Trump’s puerile alpha-male approach to asserting power.

Europe can’t rely on a Trump-led US for its defense. But, at the same time, it should recognize that the Cold War is over – however unwilling America’s industrial-military complex is to acknowledge it. While fighting terrorism is important and costly, building aircraft carriers and super fighter planes is not the answer. Europe needs to decide for itself how much to spend, rather than submit to the dictates of military interests that demand 2% of GDP. Political stability may be more surely gained by Europe’s recommitment to its social-democratic economic model.

We now also know that the world cannot count on the US in addressing the existential threat posed by climate change. Europe and China did the right thing in deepening their commitment to a green future – right for the planet, and right for the economy. Just as investment in technology and education gave Germany a distinct advantage in advanced manufacturing over a US hamstrung by Republican ideology, so, too, Europe and Asia will achieve an almost insurmountable advantage over the US in the green technologies of the future.

But the rest of the world cannot let a rogue US destroy the planet. Nor can it let a rogue US take advantage of it with unenlightened – indeed anti-Enlightenment – “America first” policies. If Trump wants to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement, the rest of the world should impose a carbon-adjustment tax on US exports that do not comply with global standards.

The good news is that the majority of Americans are not with Trump. Most Americans still believe in Enlightenment values, accept the reality of global warming, and are willing to take action. But, as far as Trump is concerned, it should already be clear that reasoned debate will not work. It is time for action.

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Joseph E. Stiglitz, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001 and the John Bates Clark Medal in 1979, is University Professor at Columbia University, Co-Chair of the High-Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress at the OECD, and Chief Economist of the Roosevelt Institute. A former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and chair of the US president’s Council of Economic Advisers under Bill Clinton, in 2000 he founded the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, a think tank on international development based at Columbia University.

Project Syndicate

‘Beyond the extreme’: Scientists marvel at ‘increasingly non-natural’ Arctic warmth – Jason Samenow. 

The Arctic is so warm and has been this warm for so long that scientists are struggling to explain it and are in disbelief. The climate of the Arctic is known to oscillate wildly, but scientists say this warmth is so extreme that humans surely have their hands in it and may well be changing how it operates.

Temperatures are far warmer than ever observed in modern records, and sea ice extent keeps setting record lows.

2016 was the warmest year on record in the Arctic, and 2017 has picked up right where it left off. “Arctic extreme (relative) warmth continues,”

Veteran Arctic climate scientists are stunned.

Washington Post

Swimming in a river? Be ‘vigilant’, scientist says

Kiwis “must be vigilant” about swimming in our rivers, a freshwater scientist says, with data often showing high levels of E. coli in waterways.

Herald investigation last week revealed how samples taken from two Auckland spots were well above levels of the key faecal indicator that would be considered safe for swimming.

But a study by the National Institute of Water and Atmosphere (NIWA) shows that’s a regular occurrence in rivers around the country.

A recent analysis of 928 spots tested between 2009 and 2013 showed that all urban sites exceeded the minimum acceptable state for “primary contact” like swimming, as set out by the Government’s National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

This threshold was also crossed at 91 per cent of pastoral sites, 46 per cent of exotic forest sites and 29 per cent of “natural” areas of native forest.

About half of New Zealand’s river length is fed by catchments that are mainly influenced by indigenous land cover, while 45.7 percent are influenced mainly by pasture, 5.1 percent by exotic forest, and 0.8 percent by urban land cover.

NZ Herald

Big Oil = Big Damage, Support Greenpeace. 

We need your help to get this ad on the air so that New Zealand can learn about what Big Oil’s doing in our oceans and join the movement to stop them.

CHIP IN NOW TO PUT THIS VIDEO ON TV

Greenpeace

Sea Shepherd photographs Japanese whalers in Australian Whale Sanctuary with dead whale – NZ Herald. 

Sea Shepherd claims to have found a Japanese ship in the Australian Whale Sanctuary with a dead minke whale on its flensing deck.

The Nisshin Maru whaler factory ship was spotted by the helicopter of Sea Shepherd’s MY Steve Irwin as the crew allegedly scrambled to hide the slaughtered whale with a tarp, while the fleet’s harpoons were also quickly covered.

“The whale killers from the Nisshin Maru were caught red-handed slaughtering whales in the Australian Whale Sanctuary,” Ocean Warrior Captain Adam Meyerson said on Sunday.

“The Steve Irwin has shut down their illegal operations and caught them trying to hide the evidence.”

It is the first documented kill since the International Court of Justice ruled against Japan’s whaling operations in the Antarctic in 2014.

NZ Herald

How You Can Help The Standing Rock Sioux Fight The Dakota Access Pipeline – The Huffington Post

Here’s where to call, donate, volunteer or send supplies.

Protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline have been going on since the project was approved in July.

Hundreds of protesters have been arrested and demonstrators and police have accused each other of violence. Law enforcement has used pepper spray, beanbag rounds, a water canon and a high-pitched sound generator meant to disperse crowds. The Morton County Sheriff’s Department has described the protests as an ongoing riot and says it uses “the force necessary to maintain control.”

Huffington Post

Sign the petition to the White House to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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Police Shoot Journalist at Standing Rock. 

The Free Thought Project 

Standing Rock Rising Coverage by Standing Rock Rising – GoFundMe

Standing Rock Rising 

The 12 Year Old Girl Who Silenced the World for 6 Minutes. 

“Did you have to worry of these things when you were my age? 

YouTube

No Living Creature Is Safe! China Hungry for Donkeys. 

Chinese superstitions are stripping planet Earth. 

A number of African countries have banned China from buying their donkeys, saying demand for the four-legged creatures has become unsustainable.

Niger announced a ban on the export of donkeys this month after trade of the animals increased by three times in the last year, mainly to Asian countries.
And Burkina Faso has also put a stop to the export of donkey skins, which are boiled to produce gelatin, a key ingredient in the traditional Chinese remedy ejiao – believed to improve blood circulation and cure conditions including dizziness, irregular menstruation and insomnia. The Independent 

China Says It Will Shut Down Domestic Ivory Market. Yeah Right! 

Africa is divided over whether to sell the ivory of its elephants, whose continent-wide population has plummeted because of poaching.

Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa will argue for the right to sell ivory at an international wildlife conference that starts Saturday in Johannesburg. They are opposed by about 30 African countries that want to tighten an international ban on the ivory trade.

China, the world’s main ivory consumer, says it plans to close its domestic market.

The pro-trade countries say their elephant populations are large and that funds from ivory sales can be invested in conservation. NZ Herald 

CEOs can now be tried under international law at The Hague for environmental crimes

The International Criminal Court is looking to clamp down on infractions such as land grabbing, a practice that has seen multinationals take over large areas of foreign land to exploit its natural resources without benefiting the local inhabitants. 
The move could reshape how business is done in developing countries. The Independent

The New Colonialism: Britain’s scramble for Africa’s energy and mineral resources. 

British companies now control Africa’s key mineral resources, notably gold, platinum, diamonds, copper, oil, gas and coal.
War On Want

Marlborough winemakers doing nicely while polluting their own nest. 

The Marlborough council is tired of taking the heat for environmental failings in Marlborough’s wine industry, the mayor says. Sixty-five per cent of wineries had one or more serious breaches of environmental rules this year in how they dealt with grape waste product. Stuff

Global warming is making our oceans ‘sick’

Global warming is making the oceans sicker than ever before, spreading disease among animals and humans and threatening food security across the planet, a major scientific report said on Monday.

“We all know that the oceans sustain this planet. We all know that the oceans provide every second breath we take. And yet we are making the oceans sick.”

IUCN Director General Inger Andersen

http://bit.ly/2ciyI4x

Our aquifers, the reserves of water under New Zealand are being poisoned by farming.

Nitrate will loom large in New Zealand’s future.

http://bit.ly/2bNCZQZ