The John James Newsletter No. <189>

John James Newsletter0

The John James Newsletter 189

29 July 2017

We will see a lot more surprises and fires burning in places that don’t have a fire history. We’ll see more fires and more intense fires in the Mediterranean and new fire situations in countries that don’t really expect it

Alexander Held,

We’re already past the point of no return and it’s just the lag while the ice sheets melt and the ocean get hotter that is saving us from facing disaster right now

Dave Lindorff

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves

Carl Sagan

In a world ruled by global corporations, a single hegemonic state power is outmoded and no longer necessary, except while it supports these corporations to extend their own hegemony.  Small nations are increasingly destailised as state power everywhere is diminished and subordinated to the will of the corporations

John James

All over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume 

Noam Chomsky

All hell breaks loose as the tundra thaws

A recent heatwave in Siberia’s frozen wastes has resulted in outbreaks of deadly anthrax and a series of violent explosions. Long dormant spores of the highly infectious anthrax bacteria frozen in the carcass of an infected reindeer rejuvenated themselves and infected herds of reindeer and eventually local people. More recently, a huge explosion was heard in June in the Yamal Peninsula. Reindeer herders camped nearby saw flames shooting up with pillars of smoke and found a large crater left in the ground. Melting permafrost was again suspected, thawing out dead vegetation and erupting in a blowout of highly flammable methane gas. 

Local government, communities could be zero carbon in just 10 years

In a new plan outlined by climate thinktank Beyond Zero Emissions,  The comprehensive Zero Carbon Communities Guide,  details how local councils and community groups can work together not only to slash emissions, but to create jobs, attract investment and drive down power costs.

How dangerous fake news conquered Facebook

“As Facebook is increasingly used as a news source, it’s vital that incorrect articles are contested to prevent damaging health messages from spreading,” Of the top five news articles with ‘HPV’, short for human papilloma virus, in the headline, the three with the most shares, likes and engagements last year have been declared “false” by fact-checking website called 

Journalism Is Dying and Content Marketing Is Taking Its Place (I Know Because I Do Both) 

Nearly half of millennials (43%) have been misled by medical information on the internet. A recent Harris Poll found that people tend to click the first article that comes up in a search, even though such articles are often advertising content aimed at selling medicine or medical devices.  When people aren’t searching, they are often coming across such misleading content via social media. Of the 20 most-shared articles about cancer on Facebook last year, over half, according to The Independent, contained claims discredited by doctors and health authorities. 

How a secretive network is setting out to curtail our freedoms

In one respect there is an inherent conflict between “economic freedom” and political liberty. Complete freedom for billionaires means poverty, insecurity, pollution and collapsing public services for everyone else. Because we will not vote for this, it can be delivered only through deception and authoritarian control. The choice we face is between unfettered capitalism and democracy. You cannot have both. The current program is a prescription for totalitarian capitalism. Thanks to Nancy Maclean’s discoveries, we can now apprehend the agenda. One of the first rules of politics is know your enemy. We’re getting there.

Sea level rise could cost port cities $28 trillion

A rise in sea levels by 0.5 meters could put at risk more than $28 trillion worth of assets in the world’s largest coastal cities. The value of infrastructure exposed in urban conurbations with more than 10 million people, is $3 trillion.

5,000 suspected cholera cases recorded per day in Yemen

The WHO reported 368,207 suspected cases and 1,828 deaths in the Arabian Peninsula country since late April.  “It is feared that the total number of people infected could eventually rise to over 600,000, making it one of the largest outbreaks since records began in 1949.” The fighting between the government forces – backed by Saudi Arabia-led coalition – and the Houthi rebels was “hugely exacerbating the ability to stop this epidemic of cholera”. “The kind of disintegration of the health system in Yemen as a result of the conflict at a time of cholera is an absolutely lethal combination,” 

Yemen’s cholera epidemic is worst on record: Oxfam

More than 360,000 suspected cholera cases have been recorded over just three months in war-ravaged Yemen is the “largest ever recorded” in a single year,

While the US drops bombs, China invests $2 billion in rebuilding Syria

“China, Russia, and Iran have provided substantial support to Syria during the military conflict. Therefore, it is these three countries that will a major role in the reconstruction of Syria,”  Other deals are also in the making to allow Russian companies to operate Syrian oil and gas fields, many of which have been captured from ISIS in recent months.

Political Insanity in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Crisis in Qatar, The Plight of the Camels

With the imposition of the embargo the Saudi government expelled the Qatari owners of more than fifteen thousand camels and ten thousand sheep, with nine thousand camels reportedly expelled in just thirty-six hours.

3D-Printed Human Heart Can Do Everything a Real One Can

“Our goal is to develop an artificial heart that is roughly the same size as the patient’s own and which imitates the human heart as closely as possible in form and function”.  

China Cracks 100 Gigawatts of Solar Capacity 

In the first half of 2017, the massive country added a record 24.4 gigawatts of solar electrical generating capacity. This boosted its total solar capacity to 101.82 gigawatts. By comparison, China has about 900 gigawatts of coal generating capacity, but recent coal curtailments provide an opportunity for renewable energy to take up a larger portion of China’s energy market share. Such an event would provide a crucial opening for the world to begin a necessary early draw-down of global carbon emissions in the face of rising risks from climate change.

China Adds Record 24.4 Gigawatts Of New Solar In First Half Of 2017

Suicides Continue To Ravage Farmlands in India

Lured by the promises of new foreign seeds, the farmers started availing big ticket loans to invest in expensive seeds, tagged with high yields, in what they saw a fair commercial risk. If the math was right it was certainly worth it. But unfortunately For every Indian farmer who takes his own life, a family is hounded by the debt he leaves behind, typically resulting in children dropping out of school to become farmhands, and surviving family members themselves frequently committing suicide out of hopelessness and despair.

Rise of mega farms: how the US model of intensive farming is invading the world

Demand for cheaper food and lower production costs is turning green fields into industrial sheds to process vast amounts of meat and poultry 

Rising heat makes it too hot for Africa’s wild dogs to hunt

The endangered wild dogs are well adapted to high temperatures but a warming world means pup survival is plummeting, African wild dogs leave their young pups in dens when they set off for their early morning and late evening hunts, avoiding the worst heat of the day. rising peak daily temperatures in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Botswana cut the time the dogs were active and the survival of the pups. 

Sustainable British cod on the menu after stocks recover

A recovery from near total collapse has led North Sea cod stocks to be labelled as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council for the first time in 20 years.  Stocks of cod in the North Sea were once one of the world’s great fisheries but plummeted by 84% between the early 1970s and 2006. They came perilously close to the total collapse seen in the Grand Banks fishery off Canada in the early 1990s, which has still not recovered.  But action to decommission fishing boats, ban catches in nursery areas and put larger holes in nets to allow young cod to escape has seen the stock rise fourfold since 2006. 

Thinking the unthinkable

A proliferation of ‘unthinkable’ events… has revealed a new fragility at the highest levels of corporate and public service leaderships. Their ability to spot, identify and handle unexpected, non-normative events is… perilously inadequate at critical moments… Remarkably, there remains a deep reluctance, or what might be called ‘executive myopia’, to see and contemplate even the possibility that ‘unthinkables’ might happen, let alone how to handle them.  The core leadership challenge is how to lead through the speed and nature of fundamental change that threatens the very conformity which has allowed the current leadership cohort to qualify for the top. 

A failure of imagination on climate risks 

Climate change is an existential risk that could abruptly end human civilisation because of a catastrophic “failure of imagination” by global leaders to understand and act on the science and  evidence before them. The scientific community has generally underestimated the likely rate of climate change impacts and costs. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports are years out of date upon publication. Sir Nicholas Stern wrote of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report: “Essentially it reported on a body of literature that had systematically and grossly underestimated the risks [and costs] of unmanaged climate change”. Too often, mitigation and adaptation policy is based on least-drama, consensus scientific projections that downplay what Prof. Ross Garnaut called the “bad possibilities”, that is, the lower-probability outcomes with higher impacts. 

Scientists are by nature conservative, and thats no help to us

Coral reefs: Just a decade or two ago, the general view in the literature was that the survival of coral systems would be threatened by 2°C warming. The coral bleaching events of the last two years at just 1-1.2°C of warming indicate that coral reefs are already sliding into terminal decline.

Arctic sea ice: In 2007, the IPCC reported that late summer sea-ice was “projected to disappear almost completely towards the end of the 21st century”.  In reality, Arctic sea ice has already lost 70% of summer volume compared to just thirty years ago, and expectations are of sea-ice-free summer within a decade or two.

Antarctica: In 2001, the IPCC projected no significant ice mass loss by 2100. In reality, the Amundsen Sea Ice Sheet sector has been destabilised and ice retreat is unstoppable. Little further acceleration in climate change is necessary to trigger the collapse of the rest of the ice sheet, with some suggesting a 3–5 metre sea-level rise.

Sea levels: In the 2007 IPCC report, sea levels were projected to rise up to 0.59 metre by 2100.  In reality,  the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provides an “extreme” scenario of 2.5 metres sea level rise by 2100. 

Big four Australian banks slash lending to coal miners

Lending to companies involved in the coal sector also dropped sharply, and not a single new project finance that went towards expanding coal mining since late 2015. This has partly reflected weak conditions in coal mining, but banks signalled it was also partly because of a toughening in coal lending. 

European Heat, Drought, Fires Bite Deep as 1 Million Impacted by Water Rationing in Rome

As Romans face water rationing for the first time in modern memory, across southern Europe, farmers are reeling as olive and wheat crops are severely stressed by both drought and by temperatures that in some places have hit in excess of 40 degrees Celsius (105 F). The cost of Spanish wheat has risen more than 40 percent even as prices for Italian olives have spiked by 50 percent. Cereal crop production in both states have fallen to the lowest level in 20 years. Meanwhile, damage estimates to crops from the widespread heat and drought in Italy alone has risen to between 1 and 2.3 billion dollars.

Wildfires Across Southern Europe

The village of Podstrana, near the Adriatic coastal town of Split, on July 18, 2017. Montenegro asked for international help to fight wildfires on the Lustica peninsula on the country’s Adriatic coast, while forest fires in neighboring Croatia spread to suburbs of the coastal city of Split

Rising carbon dioxide is making the world’s plants more water-wise

Land plants are absorbing 17% more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere now than 30 years ago, our research published today shows. Equally extraordinarily, our study also shows that the vegetation is hardly using any extra water to do it, suggesting that global change is causing the world’s plants to grow in a more water-efficient way. 

How the Food and Drug Companies Ensure that We Get Sick and They Make Money

The documentary What the Health shows how the lives and health of human beings are considered insignificant, and in many ways threatened, by the pursuit of profits in the meat and dairy and drug industries.  The corporate disdain revealed by this film is nearly beyond belief. And our ‘trusted’ watchdog agencies, both non-profit and government, are beholden to the biggest companies, accepting money in return for their silence about the dangers of animal and pharmaceutical products. 

Sea level fears as Greenland darkens

Warmer conditions are encouraging algae to grow and darken the surface. Dark ice absorbs more solar radiation than clean white ice so warms up and melts more rapidly. White snow reflects up to 90% of solar radiation while dark patches of algae will only reflect about 35% or even as little as 1% in the blackest spots. 

Religious leaders occupy environment minister’s office to protest Carmichael coalmine

the group is hoping that the action will move Frydenberg to listen “Primarily to listen to the wishes of the traditional custodians who have repeatedly said no. To the scientists who have unequivocally said no. To listen to the general public who have said no – and to listen to his own conscience.” 

Hero Imams

More than 60 Islamic leaders and imams — from France, Belgium, Britain, Tunisia, and of different Islamic faiths — in a move that may be unprecedented, are touring Europe to denounce Islamic terrorism and to pay homage to the victims of terror in Europe by visiting many of the sites of terror attacks. The idea seems to have shaken extremists to the core. They have been sending these imams death threats. 

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