Between 2014 and 2016, emissions remained largely flat, leading to hopes that the world was beginning to turn a corner. Those hopes have been dashed. In 2017, global emissions grew 1.6 percent. The rise in 2018 is projected to be 2.7 percent.
Extinction of the Bramble Cay melomys is perhaps a “so what” event. It’s not just the extinction of a species, but the assault on its entire web of life. If Leadbeater’s possum is not protected, Victorian forests will probably suffer irreversible collapse the next time there is widespread bushfire.
I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy
Coal is a product that kills people when used according to the seller’s instructions.
This year the world emits 40.9 billion tons of C02, up from 39.8 billion tons last year
Global Carbon Project
What was normal on average 20 years ago is not normal or average now. If you’re getting unprecedented conditions, that’s what climate scientists have been warning us.
Trillions of bugs flitting from flower to flower pollinate some three-quarters of our food crops, a service worth as much as $500 billion every year. Plus the 80 percent of wild flowering plants, the foundation blocks of life everywhere, that rely on insects for pollination. If monetary calculations like that sound strange, consider the Maoxian Valley in China, where shortages of insect pollinators have led farmers to hire human workers to replace bees. Each person covers five to 10 trees a day, pollinating apple blossoms by hand.
Bushfires have become more intense and longer-lasting. Last week conditions in parts of Queensland were classified “catastrophic” for the first time.
Forest fires in California this year released carbon emissions equivalent to power the state’s electricity for one year
The highest recorded rate of change in CO₂ before the Industrial Revolution is less than 0.15 ppm per year, just one-twentieth of what we are experiencing today.
There is a really important story at the end of this Newsletter that we should all read, and imagine that it is OUR children being left ill and alone over Christmas.
What does the Insect Apocalypse mean for the rest of life on Earth?
People who studied fish found that the fish had fewer mayflies to eat. Ornithologists kept finding that birds that rely on insects for food were in trouble: eight in 10 partridges gone from French farmlands; 50 and 80 percent drops, respectively, for nightingales and turtledoves. Half of all farmland birds in Europe disappeared in just three decades. The numbers are stark, indicating a vast impoverishment of an entire insect universe, even in protected areas where insects ought to be under less stress. The speed and scale of the drop were shocking even to entomologists who were already anxious about bees or fireflies or the cleanliness of car windshields.Mass extinctions and climate change: why the speed of rising greenhouse gases matters
We have emitted almost 600 billion tonnes of carbon since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and atmospheric CO₂ concentrations are now increasing at a rate of 3 parts per million per year. With increasing CO₂ levels, temperatures and ocean acidification also on the rise, it is an open question whether ecosystems are going to cope with such rapid change.
Kris de Decker demonstrates that we cannot continue our way of life AND reduce the heating of the planet. They are incompatible. Especially high-energy use electronic gear.
Back to the 1950s, folks.
How Circular is the Circular Economy?
The first dent in the credibility of the circular economy is the fact that the recycling process of modern products is far from 100% efficient. A circular economy is nothing new. In the middle ages, old clothes were turned into paper, food waste was fed to chickens or pigs, and new buildings were made from the remains of old buildings. The difference between then and now is the resources used.
Before industrialisation, almost everything was made from materials that were either decomposable – like wood, reeds, or hemp – or easy to recycle or re-use – like iron and bricks. Modern products are composed of a much wider diversity of (new) materials, which are mostly not decomposable and are also not easily recycled. For example, a recent study of the modular Fairphone 2 – a smartphone designed to be recyclable and have a longer lifespan – shows that the use of synthetic materials, microchips, and batteries makes closing the circle impossible. Only 30% of the materials used in the Fairphone 2 can be recouped. A study of LED lights had a similar result.
The more complex a product, the more steps and processes it takes to recycle. In each step of this process, resources and energy are lost. Furthermore, in the case of electronic products, the production process itself is much more resource-intensive than the extraction of the raw materials, meaning that recycling the end product can only recoup a fraction of the input. And while some plastics are indeed being recycled, this process only produces inferior materials (“downcycling”) that enter the waste stream soon afterwards.
New Study Shows Greenland Ice Sheet Likely Hasn’t Melted This Fast for More Than 7,000 Years
The melting of the Greenland ice sheet is off the charts today. “It matters to everyone living near a coastline. Climate change is not a thing of the future. It’s here now. It’s clear. It’s not just increasing, it’s accelerating,” he explained. “That’s a key concern for the future.” Thawing and refreezing on the ice sheet’s top layer has led to a vicious cycle: bright snow is replaced by darker patches of ice that absorb more heat from the sun, further warming Greenland. The melting and freezing cycle also makes ice below the surface less permeable, so more runoff is shunted to the ocean rather than trickling down into the ice sheet.
Small farms make up almost half of all agricultural land on the planet
Smallscale farms–defined as those that cover less than two hectares–make up an incredible 40% of total agricultural land area spread across the planet. Put another way, that means that almost half of all the land that produces our global food supply is made up of smallholder farms. We may be getting much more of our food from smallscale farms than previously believed.
Put more carbon in soils to meet Paris climate pledges
Take these eight steps to make soils more resilient to drought, produce more food and store emissions. Soils are crucial to managing climate change. They contain two to three times more carbon than the atmosphere. Plants circulate carbon dioxide from the air to soils, and consume about one-third of the CO2 that humans produce. Of that, about 10–15% ends up in the earth. Carbon is also essential for soil fertility and agriculture. Decomposing plants, bacteria, fungi and soil fauna, such as earthworms, release organic matter and nutrients for plant growth, including nitrogen and phosphorus. This gives structure to soil, making it resilient to erosion and able to hold water. Increasing the carbon content of the world’s soils by just a few parts per thousand (0.4%) each year would remove an amount of CO2 from the atmosphere equivalent to the fossil-fuel emissions of the European Union.Global food system is broken
The global food system is responsible for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than all emissions from transport, heating, lighting and air conditioning combined. The global warming this is causing is now damaging food production through extreme weather events such as floods and droughts. The food system also fails to properly nourish billions of people. More than 820 million people went hungry last year, according to the UN, while a third of all people did not get enough vitamins. At the same time, 600 million people were classed as obese and 2 billion overweight, with serious consequences for their health. On top of this, more than 1bn tonnes of food is wasted every year, a third of the total produced.
The Poison Papers
They show Monsanto chief medical officer George Roush admitted under oath to knowing that Monsanto studies into the health effects of dioxins on workers were written up untruthfully for the scientific literature such as to obscure health effects. These fraudulent studies were heavily relied upon by EPA to avoid regulating dioxin. They also were relied upon to defend manufacturers in lawsuits brought by veterans claiming damages from exposure to Agent Orange.
Unlike a Globalized Food System, Local Food Won’t Destroy the Environment
If you’re seeking some good news during these troubled times, look at the ecologically sound ways of producing food that have percolated up from the grassroots in recent years. Small farmers, environmentalists, academic researchers and food and farming activists have given us agroecology, holistic resource management, permaculture, regenerative agriculture and other methods that can alleviate or perhaps even eliminate the global food system’s worst impacts: biodiversity loss, energy depletion, toxic pollution, food insecurity and massive carbon emissions.
Solar geoengineering could be ‘remarkably inexpensive’
A hypothetical deployment programme, while both highly uncertain and ambitious, would be technically possible. It would also be remarkably inexpensive, at an average of around $2bn to $2.5bn per year. About $500bn (£388bn) a year is currently invested in green technologies. However, the costs of compensating for droughts, floods and food shortages that geoengineering might cause would be much larger than the engineering costs,
David Attenborough: collapse of civilisation is on the horizon
Naturalist tells leaders at UN climate summit that fate of world is in their hands – listen to the full talk.Facebook’s Very Bad Month Just Got Worse
The two hundred and fifty pages of internal Facebook documents show, irrefutably, that the company did indeed whitelist a number of lucrative business partners, including Netflix, Lyft, and Airbnb, allowing them continued and unfettered access to the accounts of Facebook users and their friends after the company claimed that it had stopped the practice. The documents also reveal that, in 2015, a permissions update for Android devices, which users were required to accept, included a feature that continuously uploaded text messages and call logs to Facebook.9,000-Year-Old Stone Mask Discovered in a Field in the West Bank
The mask probably was brought to the surface by agricultural activities that disturbed the soil. The field is full of Neolithic artefacts, indicating that there is an archaeological site underground, The newly discovered mask, and some of the others, have holes drilled around their edges, possibly so that they could be tied around a person’s face or another object. Without much archaeological context for these artifacts, archaeologists don’t know exactly how the masks were used 9,000 years ago.
“Get me outta here.”
At the recent G20 meeting in Argentina, Donald Trump was on the world’s stage when he muttered this to an aide. He was supposed to be getting ready for a photo op with the other global leaders. And, after some confusion, Trump eventually did come back to pose for the group shot. But the unscripted utterance perfectly captured the US in the world today. With all eyes on him, the leader of the free world wandered away from the spotlight, whining like a six-year-old upstaged at his own birthday party. Trump, who lambastes his counterparts for being “weak,” was publicly incapable of manning up even when the stakes were so low. This is what passes for US “leadership” at the moment.
US Senate resolution potentially changes Middle East dynamics
A draft US Senate resolution effectively portraying Saudi policy as detrimental to US interests and values and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as “complicit” in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if adopted and implemented, potentially could change the dynamics of the region’s politics and create an initial exit from almost a decade of mayhem, conflict and bloodshed.
The measure of gaming’s massive carbon footprint.
Globally, PC gamers use about 75 billion kilowatt hours of electricity a year, equivalent to the output of 25 electric power plants. (And that doesn’t include console games.) In the US, games consumes $6 billion worth of electricity annually—more power than electric water heaters, cooking appliances, clothes dryers, dishwashers, or freezers. Video gaming is among the very most intensive uses of electricity in homes. And more power means more greenhouse gas emissions:
NASA releases time-lapse of the disappearing Arctic polar ice cap
Warning!!! Watch what you eat
In 1998, I finished a sculpture of Lilith – the first woman – from blue mussel shells that came from Canada, and I’d buy them in bulk in Chinatown, so I could sort through the bins and choose shells in the shapes I wanted.
A curator of invertebrates mentioned that bones and shells accumulate toxins in their environment. Upon further research, I discovered that common blue mussels are filter feeders. They pump several litres of water per hour and concentrate chemicals in their tissues. Suddenly, everything clicked into place.
In 2015, I was diagnosed with heavy-metal poisoning. Doctors found high levels of arsenic and lead in my blood, the result of chronic exposure. The water where the mussels grew was likely contaminated from industrial waste, and the mussel shells I’d been working with for decades were toxic. Metals can be absorbed through consumption, air or skin. I’d been exposed in every way.
When you make art, you often feel diminished and small—you’re just a vessel for the creative energy to pass through. My body was carrying a painful message about the poisoning that Earth is experiencing. Each of my sculptures has precious metal and stones embedded in them; all too often, treasure is defined by its scarcity. But the real treasures aren’t jewels and silver. They’re the creatures being eliminated, the beauty that’s disappearing.
I will never fully recover, and I continue to live with many neurological and metabolic symptoms. I have difficulty holding a thought. I’ll pick up a tool to work on a piece and forget why I chose it. I struggle with autoimmune disorders, and there are many foods I can’t eat without becoming ill. I’m at a high risk for developing Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Heavy metals have an affinity for the tissues of the nervous system, particularly the ones in the brain.
I’m now 59 years old, and my quality of life is poor. But while I continue to work, even though it’s more difficult every day, I feel a terrible sadness. When we talk about environmental damage, we speak of declines in populations. Numbers and species. But I’ve experienced the suffering of so many creatures trapped in their polluted habitats. I now hope their voices can be heard—that my art might create a sense of awe, a sense of connectivity and reverence for the natural world.Shot In the Head, His Back to the Soldiers
Almost nightly raids by Israeli forces in occupied territories, usually between midnight and dawn, ostensibly to search for “wanted” Palestinians and potential attackers but largely to terrorise an already beleaguered people. Often illegally crossing into areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority, the raids are catastrophically successful: According to Palestinian sources, in November alone the IDF killed 24 Palestinians (mostly in Gaza), arrested 260, including children, and issued 33 deportation orders. Thus have Israeli forces “repeatedly violated…international law by responding to stone-throwing protests by using excessive force,” says Amnesty International, and the murder of innocents like Muhammad Habali is “nothing new.”
Escalating dangers to last tropical wilderness
Papua and West Papua – one of the largest surviving tracts of tropical rainforest in the world. Very expensive road-building schemes are being driven by the Indonesian government – but for questionable gains and with massive environmental and social risks. Alarmingly, we conclude that three major new centres of deforestation will be created, as you can see encircled in the map.
I have to share this. The Morrison Government is playing politics with the lives of children, with dishonourable and callous cowardice, fleeing rather than being seen publicly to avoid what people with compassion would do. These terrible men, with their climate denial and ongoing inhumanity, WILL be defeated at the coming election. I so deeply look forward to that!
This is a long email, but I’ve just returned from Parliament House, and I wanted to let you know exactly what happened. (From GetUp)
Yesterday, Scott Morrison’s Government played games in the Senate and then fled the House of Representatives – leaving their entire policy agenda behind – to avoid a bill that would compel Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to transfer children, their families and anyone else in need of medical assessment and treatment from Manus and Nauru to care in Australia.
But the Morrison Government’s cowardice didn’t stop Senators from an extraordinary coalition of conscience. They voted hour after hour after hour, up against a filibuster from the Government, Pauline Hanson and Cory Bernardi on the final day of sitting for 2018, to push the #KidsOffNauru legislation through the Senate.
But the final Senate vote came one hour too late. By the time it had passed, the Morrison Government had already shut down the House of Representatives and literally fled the building.
It was a bittersweet moment. But this legislation will still be waiting when the House of Representatives returns in February – and it will pass. When it does, within 48 hours of it becoming law, we will see the kids and their families off Nauru, and emergency flights of critically ill men and women from offshore detention touch down in Australia.
But John, to come within one hour of passing a bill that would have brought children and critically ill people from Manus and Nauru to Australia BY SUNDAY was absolutely heartbreaking.
Newly elected Dr Kerryn Phelps, who drove this Bill through in the first fortnight of her Federal career, slumped back in her chair as the Bill passed the Senate but the lights were already off in the House.
These same scenes repeated themselves as Senators left the chamber. Senator Tim Storer who tabled the Bill, having worked night after night to finely balance competing considerations across the political spectrum, had his head buried in his hands.
But the thing I most wanted to tell you, John, was that in that same moment that our politics most failed us, the incredible potential of politics and our democracy was also at its most evident.
The extraordinary events of yesterday happened because politicians of principle genuinely listened to the people-powered movement in Australia, and the voices of those still detained. Politicians who knew that the treatment of those on Manus and Nauru isn’t about left and right – it’s about right and wrong.
I watched the Australian Greens Senators huddle anxiously together outside the Chamber door (with Adam Bandt actually running across from the House of Representatives), trying to find a way through the Government’s filibuster. They knew they were just inches away from saving the lives of those in offshore detention, whose rights they had defended for decades.
Greens Immigration spokesperson Senator Nick McKim stood shoulder to shoulder with Senator Storer to table the bill, working tirelessly with people from across the political spectrum hoping for a win especially for the oft-forgotten adults. As, McKim exited the Senate when it was all done, close to tears, all he could say was:“How can I tell those people in the camps they have to wait another three months for treatment, when they needed it yesterday.”
I watched the women of the House of Representatives crossbench, Rebekha Sharkie, former Liberal MP Julia Banks, and Cathy McGowan embrace Dr Phelps and her Bill. They also stood in their own right to argue in different ways for a sensible solution to the medical crisis that has enveloped the children, and the adults in offshore detention.
I watched Senator Derryn Hinch forced to battle Twitter trolls from his Senate seat, remaining emphatic that he stood with all kids, including those detained offshore – even as the Morrison Government cynically dangled legislation he had long fought for to entice him over to their side. He sat alongside Centre Alliance Senators Griff and Patrick, both weary and indignant at the antics of the Government playing with Parliamentary procedure to avoid following the clear desire of the Australian public to get kids off Nauru, and follow doctors’ orders with the women and men.
There stood Andrew Wilkie and his staff, biting their nails as they watched the Senate filibuster and then the House of Representatives clock. Wilkie had put the initial #KidsOffNauru Bill forward in the House months ago, but had graciously worked with everyone else to help draft a new Bill and find a new pathway through the Senate to ensure it become law. He stood repeatedly in the House this week, as he has done for years and years, arguing for justice for the people detained in our name.
And then, after so long of being ripped apart on this issue, I watched the Australian Labor Party. Penny Wong, on her feet for hours at the table in the Senate, stabbing her finger in righteous fury at the Government’s dirty tricks. Their Senators determined to hold, in the face of fear-mongering Government speeches about boats and borders, to the fundamental tenet that sick people should never be denied treatment. When Opposition Leader Bill Shorten stood before snapping cameras and said kids should be off Nauru late last night, he stood for the work of a united Labor caucus led by Shadow Immigration Minister Shayne Neumann, which went back and forth for months between lawyers, doctors and internal champions – intent on finding the way through, even from Opposition, to finally address the medical crisis offshore.
What I saw yesterday was a coalition of conscience emerge. And it renewed my faith in the promise of our politics. I watched this coalition of conscience come together and come within one hour of delivering a historic defeat to a cruel Government which has let 12 people die on their watch in offshore detention.
I saw politicians put aside party and ego. I saw them work together the way we always want them to. I saw them sneaking BBQ Shapes just off the Senate floor, because the filibuster meant they hadn’t eaten since 7am. I saw their faces crumple as they realised children would be spending another 3 months in detention, because the Government had thwarted them on timing. I saw them shake off the despair and go out with a grim smile for the media. And I saw them promise, on national television, that they would be waiting, when the Parliament returns on the 13th of February, to finally deliver care and safety to those offshore, and pass this Bill before the House so it becomes law.
That’s why I wanted to email you right now even though the words aren’t polished and I’m still in my pyjamas. Because I want you to know that yesterday showed us that this fight is still worth it. I want you to know that every email you send, every phone call you make, every protest you attend – it’s all worth it.
Because while politics created the cruel offshore detention regime, it can also break it.
Stay tuned for next steps. Because this movement won’t just sit waiting for February. We’re going to keep fighting, every step of the way alongside those people detained in our name. And now we know that we will win.
Yours in hope,
Shen and Renaire for the GetUp! team
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