The John James Newsletter  267

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In some future AI-saturated world the role of humans, even in nuclear decision-making, is likely to be progressively diminished or disappear entirely, leaving machines to determine humanity’s fate.
Michael Klare

Most people do not see their beliefs; instead their beliefs tell them what to see. This is the simple difference between clarity and confusion
Dom Perignon

The volatile US president complied with the Turkish leader’s demands and took his own advisers by surprise in the latest example of a pattern in which Trump tends to side with authoritarian foreign leaders, over the advice of US officials.
Julian Borger

In spite of all we have done, so much written and so many meetings, more fossil fuels are being extracted than ever before. We have not made even a small dent in the system. Not one iota. So don’t bother to ask why so many of us retain little hope for our future.
John James

Huawei is the only game in town! If your country wants 5G in the next year or three, Huawei is the man with the plan, the maven with the moxie, the monster with the mojo, the Master of the Universe. This means the United States, Five Eyes and every other country Team Trump attacks with the imperial toolbox, to stop using Chinese equipment, are going to be dangerously outdated and exposed, compared to those who go Sino.
Jeff Brown

As the Club of Rome pointed out 50 years ago, we would, around now, run out of economically extracted resources that would trigger a general collapse. Fracking is one more example of the desperation to extract the last drop of oil no matter that we destroy the land around it. We pay for these resources with the soil that feeds us. We get oil and we lose our food. These expensive attempts to extract the last resources out of the earth are the final act in our madness. We are consuming the home we live in and leaving ………
We not only kill life in the sea, eliminate insects and the multitude of creatures, large and small that have made the earth such a precious place, but when we recognise what we are doing we cannot stop ourselves. We have had two generations to turn recognition into action, but have failed to even marginally limit the slaughter.
As a species none can mourn our end.

A ‘Gold Rush’ at The Bottom of The Ocean Could Be The Final Straw For Ecosystems
As the world’s population scales to ever-greater heights, a growing demand for resources is driving humans to new lows. In the next few years, commercial mining on the deep ocean floor could become a real possibility. But with several permits already issued, a new report suggests the mining industry is racing to the bottom in more ways than one in a deep sea “gold rush” for minerals and metals could wind up causing irreversible damage to what are already fragile ocean ecosystems.Ocean Dead Zones
In the 1960s there were 49, now there are over 400. Not only do the fish die without oxygen, but so does the Phytoplankton which is the basis of the food chain. All that survives is algae, a smelly stuff that no one anywhere near the sea can smell without puking.
A very effective display from Bernie Sanders – worth the watch if you love our oceans.Arthropod Armageddon?
Researchers returned to the island recently and repeated the study using the exact same methods.  To their surprise, they found that arthropod biomass was just one-eighth to one-sixtieth of that in the 1970s — a shocking collapse. And the carnage didn’t end there.  A bevy of lizards, birds, and frogs that feed on arthropods had fallen sharply in abundance as well. For the Earth’s ecosystems, a collapse loss of arthropods could be downright apocalyptic.  Arthropods pollinate plants, disperse seeds, recycle nutrients, and form the basis of food chains that sustain entire webs of life and agricultural production.

Ten feelgood environment stories you may have missed in 2018
Let’s be honest – environment news isn’t always the jolliest, and 2018 was no exception. From climate change, to recycling, to energy policy, at times it has felt like we’ve been lurching from one crisis to the next. So here are ten upbeat environmental stories from this year that prove it’s not all doom and gloom.

Jichang Liu captured this charming image of a swan and ducks swimming on a lake in China. The image landed him a highly commended honor in the “tranquility single” category. Lets hope for a Tranquil 2019.

2006919.jpegIndian Agencies Snooping Into Your Computer: The Orwellian Nightmare Is Here
The BJP government legalised “Hacking or Spying of Data by 10 Agencies of the Central government” just replicated “1984” in India. The ten agencies that have been authorised to intercept, monitor and decrypt “any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource” include the two intelligence agencies — internal spy body Intelligence Bureau and external agency Research and Analysis Wing.2019 may be the warmest year on record as a result of an El Niño event exacerbated by global warming
El Niño is a part of a routine climate pattern that occurs when sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean rise to above-normal levels for an extended period of time. It can last anywhere from 4 to 16 months and it typically has a warming influence on the global temperature. 2018 started out under La Niña conditions, which usually has a cooling influence on global temperatures, but it was not nearly enough to cancel out the warming from the release of man-made greenhouse gases. Since late April 2018, sea-surface temperatures across much of the east-central tropical Pacific returned to neutral. With the return of El Nino, 2019 may be the warmest year on record.

2018 – the hottest La Niña year ever recorded
The past five years are the five hottest since the launch of reliable global measurements more than a century ago. Since 1970 there have been 15 El Niño years, 15 La Niña years, 13 neutral years, and six volcanic years. 2018 was a fairly weak La Niña year similar to 2009 and 2012, but the global temperature was about 0.16-0.18°C hotter in 2018 despite solar activity’s also remaining relatively low.

Greenland’s Rapid Ice Melt Persists Even in Winter
In the latest troubling study  regarding how the climate crisis is affecting the world’s iciest regions. The ice sheet’s persistent melting even in winter has come about because huge waves below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, created by unusually strong winter winds, are pushing warm water up to Greenland tocreate an environment that’s hostile for the country’s icy ecosystem. Accelerating, year-round run-off that persists even in the coldest months of the year is the greatest contributor to sea level rise.Big Business Wants You To Think It’s Fixing The Plastic Crisis. Don’t Buy It.
New plastic production is expected to increase by some 40% over the next decade. In the US about $180 billion has been invested in new petrochemical plants for plastic manufacturing. A new report from the International Energy Agency foresees rising demand for virgin plastics sustaining the global oil and gas sector to 2050, offsetting a projected slowdown in demand for transport fuels. Meanwhile, more than 4 million tons of plastic debris pour into marine ecosystems every year. It’s estimated that, by 2050, there will be more plastic garbage than fish in the oceans. Much of this will be single-use packaging. “The only way we solve the problem is if we reduce the use of plastic in the first place, and single-use consumer goods packaging is really the place where we need to do that,”

Demand for glass milk bottles triple as more people try to reduce their plastic waste.
Once finished glass milk bottles are returned to the dairy, they are washed out and refilled to be delivered again. This stops hundreds of plastic bottles being used which only have a single life-span. By switching to glass we worked out that we will save 3000 bottles every year.

40 million Americans depend on the Colorado River. It’s drying up.
Decades of warming temperatures have finally forced a confrontation with an inescapable truth: There’s no longer enough water to go around. This past winter was a preview of what the future will look like: A very low amount of snow fell across the mountains that feed the river, so water levels have plummeted to near-record low levels in vast Lake Mead and Lake Powell — the two mega-reservoirs that are used to regulate water resources during hard times. Since then, the news has only gotten worse. Water managers project that Lake Powell will lose 15 percent of its volume within the next 12 months. Lake Mead, which feeds hydroelectricity turbines at the Hoover Dam and is the region’s most important reservoir, will fare even worse — falling 22 percent in the next two years, below a critical cutoff point to trigger mandatory water rationing. In a dystopian twist, Las Vegas has already been planning for the worst-case scenario: Three years ago, the city completed a three-mile long tunnel to suck water from directly below Lake Mead. The tunnel will provide last-resort access to every drop of water.
Las Vegas will survive even when Californian farms close down. This is the way we will go, fighting each other for the last bit of whatever we think we need to preserve what we’ve got.

Where is the truth in an era of Faux-News? I published an article from a Russian source condemning the White Helmets in Syria. I publish below two articles defending their work. In steering a path between fact and fiction we can rely only on what we would like to call evidence, not just selected photos or staged videos. When both sides talk about evidence, and neither presents any that is unambiguous, where do we go? 

Are the Syrian ‘White Helmets’ Rescue Organisation Terrorists?
Through the course of the bloody seven-year war in Syria a network of Western pro-Assad activists and bloggers have helped spread to English-speaking audiences a series of conspiracy theories that deflect blame for atrocities away from the regime. A common theme is the baseless but relentless claim that the White Helmets, known officially as Syria Civil Defence, are either terrorists or are “staging” mass casualty events like chemical weapons attacks. They claim to have rescued 60,000 people since they began tracking that figure in 2014, and say more than 140 volunteers have died while serving. The group claims to be impartial, only interested in saving lives amid the chaos and atrocities of war. Their motto, taken from the Muslim holy book, the Quran, is “To save a life is to save all of humanity.”

White Helmets ‘staging fake attacks’ in Syria? We sort fact from fiction
For the past few months, however, the White Helmets have been the target of a smear campaign on social media, mainly led by supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Social media accounts, especially those belonging to conspiracy theorists and media with pro-Russian leanings, accuse the White Helmets of being allies of jihadist rebel groups. They also claim the White Helmets are carrying out a communications war with the Syrian regime.

Ten Charts Show How the World is Progressing on Clean Energy
Rapid progress towards clean energy is needed to meet the global ambition to limit warming to no more than 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures. But how are countries doing so far? In our Energy Revolution Global Outlook report we rank progress in 25 major world economies to provide tables of their efforts to clean up electricity generation, switch from oil to electric vehicles, deploy carbon capture and storage, eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and tackle energy efficiency.
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