Common Dreams

‘He Needed Social Supports, Not Bullets’: Mass Protests Engulf Philly Streets for Second Straight Night Over Police Killing of Walter Wallace

“This killing must be thoroughly investigated, and the officers responsible for Wallace’s death must be held accountable for their actions.”byJake Johnson, staff writer

 26 Comments

Demonstrators protest the fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. on October 27, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Joshua Lott/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Mass demonstrations flooded the streets of Philadelphia for the second consecutive night Tuesday as outrage and demands for justice continue to grow in the wake of the police killing of Walter Wallace Jr., a 27-year-old Black man who city officers shot at least 10 times earlier this week as he suffered a mental health crisis.

Footage of the incident made public Monday shows Wallace holding a knife and walking toward two officers as they backed up with their guns drawn. Before the officers began opening fire, Wallace’s mother is seen in the clip attempting to hold her son back and deescalate the situation.

“As we know from the tragic killings of Daniel Prude, Nicolas Chavez, Quintonio LeGrier, and now Walter Wallace Jr., the criminalization of mental health is dangerous, particularly for Black and Brown people.”
—Lynda Garcia, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Shaka Johnson, the Wallace family’s attorney, told reporters Tuesday that Walter’s brother had called 911 to request medical assistance and an ambulance before the armed police officers arrived.

“When you come to a scene where somebody is in a mental crisis, and the only tool you have to deal with it is a gun… where are the proper tools for the job?” Johnson said.

Lynda Garcia, director of the policing campaign at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement Tuesday that “this killing must be thoroughly investigated, and the officers responsible for Wallace’s death must be held accountable for their actions.”

“As we know from the tragic killings of Daniel Prude, Nicolas Chavez, Quintonio LeGrier, and now Walter Wallace Jr., the criminalization of mental health is dangerous, particularly for Black and Brown people,” said Garcia. “We must redefine public safety and prioritize investing in community-based services and non-police responses to assist people with mental health needs so we can prevent more tragedies like this.”

As many as 2,000 people poured into the streets and marched near the site of Wallace’s killing in West Philadelphia Tuesday night, with demonstrators chanting, “Who killed Walter Wallace?” and, “No justice, no peace, no racist police!”

Pascale Vallee, a 34-year-old graduate student who took part in Tuesday’s demonstration, told the Washington Post that the killing of Wallace was “shameful.”

Published onWednesday, October 28, 2020byCommon Dreams

Texas Supreme Court Upholds ‘Shameful, Naked Voter Suppression’ With Ruling Allowing State to Limit Counties to One Ballot Drop Box

“Texas continues to be openly hostile to voting rights.”byJulia Conley, staff write(r)

 27 Comments

An election worker accepts ballots from voters in cars at a drive-through mail ballot drop-off site at NRG Stadium on October 7, 2020 in Houston, Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order limiting each county to one mail ballot drop-off site. (Photo: Go Nakamura/Getty Images)

In a ruling that critics said served as an endorsement of voter suppression, the Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday evening sided with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott regarding his order limiting each county in the state to just one mail-in ballot drop box. 

After a federal appeals court stacked with President Donald Trump’s judicial appointees ruled earlier this month in favor of the directive—which voting rights advocates say will make it particularly hard for voters in largely Democratic, urban areas like Austin and Houston to cast their ballots—the Anti-Defamation League of Texas and Common Cause Texas brought the case to the state Supreme Court. The groups argued Abbott did not have the authority to implement a rule which would disproportionately burden residents of large counties. 

“Texas continues to be openly hostile to voting rights,” tweeted Common Cause Texas after the ruling was handed down. 

:’ see original ‘

The court claimed in its ruling that Abbott’s order “does not disenfranchise anyone” because Texas voters can cast their ballots in person prior to Election Day and can mail in their ballots—options which could force voters to risk exposure to the coronavirus or use a method of voting which has been undermined repeatedly by Trump, who has baselessly claimed that voting by mail will invite election fraud, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court. 

New York Times contributing writer Wahajat Ali denounced the ruling as “shameful, naked voter suppression.”

Published onWednesday, October 28, 2020byCommon Dreams

Jake Johnson, staff writer

 31 Comments

Count every vote

Members of the activist group Rise and Resist gathered for a press conference and demonstration outside NBC News and Fox News in Manhattan on October 22, 2020. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Countering President Donald Trump’s false suggestion Tuesday that tallying votes after Election Day is unlawful, a top official at the U.S. Federal Election Commission said that in fact “counting ballots—all of ’em—is the appropriate, proper, and very legal way to determine who won.”

“An election is not a reality show with a big reveal at the end,” Ellen Weintraub, an election attorney and a Democratic commissioner at the FEC, tweeted in response to Trump’s insistence that a winner be officially declared on the night of November 3.

“All we get on Election Night are projections from TV networks,” Weintraub noted. “We never have official results on Election Night.”

: ‘ … see original ‘

Trump’s comments Tuesday came amid growing fears that the president could attempt to take advantage of slower-than-usual vote counting—which is expected due to the unprecedented surge in mail-in voting amid the pandemic—to falsely declare victory on Election Night and dismiss as illegitimate legally submitted ballots counted after November 3.

Those concerns were intensified by Trump-nominated Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s falsehood-riddled concurring opinion in the Supreme Court’s late Monday ruling that barred the battleground state of Wisconsin from extending its absentee ballot deadline. The decision means that ballots received by Wisconsin officials after Election Day cannot be counted, even if they are postmarked by November 3.

In his opinion, Kavanaugh declared that absentee ballots arriving after Election Day—which is allowed in more than a dozen states—could “flip the results of the election.” But as Justice Elena Kagan noted in her dissent (pdf), “there are no results to ‘flip’ until all valid votes are counted.”

“And nothing could be more ‘suspicio[us]’ or ‘improp[er]’ than refusing to tally votes once the clock strikes 12 on Election Night,” Kagan added. “To suggest otherwise, especially in these fractious times, is to disserve the electoral process.”

Slate‘s Mark Joseph Stern warned late Tuesday that “by deploying so many falsehoods in his 18-page opinion, Kavanaugh sent a signal to lower court judges: Uphold voter suppression at all costs, even if you have to ignore or contort the factual record to do it.”

“Trump’s dozens of hackish judicial nominees will hear this message loud and clear,” Stern wrote. “At least one member of the Supreme Court is willing to construct a fantasy world that is utterly detached from our grim reality of mass disenfranchisement. If we cannot trust the justices to tell the truth now, why should we believe them if they decide the election next week?

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GM and Ford Knew, Too: Reporting Reveals Auto Giants Recognized

“Like the major oil and gas companies, leading car companies took a calculated risk that they—and the world—could delay action to address the drivers of climate change. We are all paying for that

Source: GM and Ford Knew, Too: Reporting Reveals Auto Giants Recognized

Posted in climate change, Climate Crisis, Climate Emergency | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Memo to the next US President

You must address the climate crisis as your first priority.

later edit: me, my name

(my surname is Tucker ;)

well c’mon, didn’t you notice [ed: that} I said 23 before? (3321) [I hate poor grammar (and illiterate presidents)]

later: Actually, I would prefer a president who is not a total imbecile

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‘We’re Rounding the Corner Beautifully,’ Trump Lies Just Before US Hits Another Record: 85,000+ New Covid-19 Cases

Published on Saturday, October 24, 2020 by Common Dreams

‘We’re Rounding the Corner Beautifully,’ Trump Lies Just Before US Hits Another Record: 85,000+ New Covid-19 Cases

“Trump’s lies and his rejection of science have cost us tens of thousands of lives. We need a new president,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders. by Jake Johnson, staff writer

 18 Comments

President Donald Trump speaks during his campaign event on October 23, 2020 in The Villages, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump late Friday repeated his lie that the United States is on its way to defeating the coronavirus pandemic just before the country reported a single-day record of more than 85,000 new Covid-19 infections, nearly 10,000 more cases than were tallied at the height of the devastating surge in mid-July.

But the president’s remarks during a campaign rally Friday at The Villages, a Florida retirement community, conveyed zero indication that the U.S. is entering what could be the worst phase of the pandemic yet.

“It’s true that country is rounding the turn of the pandemic. We are spiraling out of control.”
—Dr. Zoë McLaren,School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

“I mean, you look at what’s going on and we’re rounding the turn. We’re rounding the corner. We’re rounding the corner beautifully,” Trump said, recycling an egregious falsehood that has become a staple of his stump speech even as infections and hospitalizations surge nationwide.

The New York Times reported late Friday that “since the start of October, the rise in cases has been steady and inexorable, with no plateau in sight… By that measure, Friday was the worst day of the pandemic, and health experts warned of a further surge as cold weather sets in. The number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 has already risen 40 percent in the past month.”

Consistent with his reckless downplaying of the pandemic from the very start, Trump once again peddled the lie that the U.S. is “rounding the turn” during a late Friday rally in Pensacola, one of many largely maskless and closely packed in-person campaign events the president has held in recent days against the warnings of public health officials.

Watch:

“It’s true that country is rounding the turn of the pandemic,” responded Dr. Zoë McLaren, associate professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “We are spiraling out of control.”

In addition to the record number of cases, the U.S. also reported more than 940 coronavirus deaths on Friday, bringing the nation’s death toll to nearly 224,000—the highest in the world.

“This is only getting worse,” tweeted epidemiologist Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, warning that the U.S. could soon reach 100,000 new cases per day as the winter months approach.

With the November 3 election less than two weeks away, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted Friday that “Trump’s lies and his rejection of science have cost us tens of thousands of lives.”

“We need a new president,” Sanders said.

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This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Posted in Covid-19, Donald Trump, politics, Trump, US Coronavirus | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Greenpeace Warns ‘Potential Damage to Human DNA’ at Risk With Japan’s Plan to Dump Fukushima Water Into Ocean

Published onFriday, October 23, 2020by Common Dreams

Greenpeace Warns ‘Potential Damage to Human DNA’ at Risk With Japan’s Plan to Dump Fukushima Water Into Ocean

“The policy of the Japanese government to dump nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean is not based on scientific or environmental protection principles and has no justification.”by Andrea Germanos, staff writer

 44 Comments

Storage tanks for radioactive water stand at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on Jan. 29, 2020 in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

Storage tanks for radioactive water stand at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on Jan. 29, 2020 in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. (Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

Greenpeace sounded alarm Friday over the Japanese government’s plan to release stored water from the ill-fated Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean, releasing a new report warning about the presence of carbon-14, which the group says “has the potential to damage human DNA.”

The warning laid out in a new report says the government and plant operator TEPCO’s controversial plan—which has been under consideration for some time—is founded on “a series of myths” and pursues the cheapest option to get rid of the water over what is best for human and ecological health.

The plan allows “the government [to] create the impression that substantial progress is being made in the early decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors,” Greenpeace says. 

Entitled Stemming the tide 2020: The reality of the Fukushima radioactive water crisis, the publication argues that the planned release of the water “will have serious, long-term consequences for communities and the environment, locally and much further afield.”

“Nearly 10 years after the start of the disaster, TEPCO and the Japanese government are still covering up the scale of the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi,” said Shaun Burnie, author of the report and senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany. He further accused the entities of having “deliberately held back for years detailed information on the radioactive material in the contaminated water.”

Beyond the remaining radioactive material tritium in the water, an additional problem is the presence of high levels of carbon-14, which belies the government’s assertion that the water is not “contaminated,” said Greenpeace.

According to the report,

If the contaminated water is discharged to the Pacific Ocean, all of the carbon-14 will be released to the environment. With a half-life of 5,730 years, carbon-14 is a major contributor to global human collective dose; once introduced into the environment carbon-14 will be delivered to local, regional, and global populations for many generations. […]

Contrary to the understanding of the Japanese government, water that contains large quantities of radioactive carbon-14 (as well as the other radioactive isotopes including strontium-90 and tritium) can only be described as contaminated.

Burnie said that TEPCO and the Japanese government “have failed to explain to the citizens of Fukushima, wider Japan, and to neighboring countries such as South Korea and China that the contaminated water to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean contains dangerous levels of carbon-14. These, together with other radionuclides in the water will remain hazardous for thousands of years with the potential to cause genetic damage.”

“It’s one more reason why these plans have to be abandoned,” said Burnie.

The report puts some of the blame on TEPCO’s decision to rely on technology known as ALPS that the operator should have known was incapable of bringing concentrations of radionuclides down to acceptable levels.

Rather than quickly moving to dump the water into the ocean, the Greenpeace report says the government should pursue “continued long-term storage and processing of the contaminated water.”

“There is no technical, engineering, or legal barrier to securing additional storage space for ALPS-treated contaminated water. It is a matter of political will,” said Burnie.

“The policy of the Japanese government to dump nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean is not based on scientific or environmental n principles,” he said, “and has no justification.”

Further

On Trump’s Full, Flowing, Magnificently Brilliant Answers

Poor little snowflake Donny’s been super busy throwing tantrums after one of those mean girl reporters hurt his feelings again. When 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl started her interview with, “Are you ready for tough questions?” – and then asked some – he was so mad he left in a huff and posted it all to expose her “bias, hatred and rudeness,” aka her competence as he lied, dodged, stumbled. And earlier he even gave her a big book of all the health care things he’s done! It was blank, but still. Read More… More Further

Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

Posted in nuclear, nuclear filth, nuclear waste, Trump | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quiz time

A quiz for you today. You may notice that there is a trap for blonde-haired global leaders of the very stable genius variety.

Please identify the items in the images. Answers are at the end.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Thanks to wikimedia for all the images.

The answers are:

  1. Giraffe
  2. Elephant
  3. Cow
  4. Windmill
  5. Not a windmill. A wind generator or wind turbine are also acceptable answers.

Ace it? Did you notice the trap for blonde-haired World leaders of the very stable genius variety? That’s right both current US Resident Donald Trump and current UK Prime Mister Boris ‘rice pudding’ Johnson mistake wind generators or turbines for windmills.

Boris was using the phrase windmills in his speech to the Conservative Party conference yesterday. By misusing the phrase windmills he is associating himself with the World’s most prominent climate crisis denier and climate destroyer, Donald Trump. Is the message that his speech should be regarded as donkey doo?

Here are some extra images which are not part of the quiz.

A floating wind turbine. Windmills generally don’t float Boris.

Skin on rice pudding.

A donkey. This one is for my friends at Led by Boriss.

Posted in Boris 'Rice pudding' Johnson, Boris Johnson, Climate Crisis, Climate Emergency, Donald Trump, Led by Donkeys, politics | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Global Report Warns Nearly 40% of Plants at Risk of Extinction

Republished under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

by
 

“At a time of rapid biodiversity loss, we are failing to access the treasure chest of incredible diversity on offer and missing a huge opportunity for our generation.”

 
A new report on plants and fungi features images of the Pitcairn Island's yellow fatu (Abutilon pitcairnense), left, and the Cayman sage (Salvia caymanensis), right. (Photos: RBG Kew)

A new report on plants and fungi features images of the Pitcairn Island’s yellow fatu (Abutilon pitcairnense), left, and the Cayman sage (Salvia caymanensis), right. (Photos: RBG Kew)

Humanity’s destruction of nature has made an estimated two in five plant species worldwide at risk of extinction, according to an assessment published Wednesday by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in the United Kingdom.

“The data emerging from this year’s report paint a picture of a world that has turned its back on the potential of plants and fungi to address fundamental global issues such as food security and climate change.”
—Alexandre Antonelli, RBG Kew

The fourth annual report, entitled State of the World’s Plants and Fungi(pdf), draws on the expertise of 210 researchers from 42 countries for what professor Alexandre Antonelli, director of science at RBG Kew, calls an “unparalleled collaborative effort” that aims to put the planet and all its inhabitants on a more sustainable path.

“Open your fridge, peek into your medicine cupboard, examine your living room, feel your clothes. For thousands of years, we have searched nature to satisfy our hunger, cure our diseases, build our houses, and make our lives more comfortable,” Antonelli writes in the report’s introduction.

“But our early exploration of useful traits in species relied on rudimentary tools, and Indigenous knowledge was lost as local traditions were downplayed and globalization emerged,” he adds. “As a result, humanity is still a long way from utilizing the full potential of biodiversity, in particular plants and fungi, which play critical roles in ecosystems. Now, more than ever before, we need to explore the solutions they could provide to the global challenges we face.”

The report comes on the heels of a United Nations assessment that the international community has failed to fulfill any of the biodiversity targets that were set a decade ago as well as the latest edition of World Wide Fund for Nature’s flagship publication, which warned that “nature—our life-support system—is declining at a staggering rate.” Specifically, WWF found “an average 68% decrease in population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish between 1970 and 2016.”

 

Throughout the report’s 12 chapters, researchers address the importance of seeking out species before they disappear and calculating extinction risk; ways that plants and fungi can be used in terms of food, energy, healthcare, and more; how biological resources can be used more wisely; and the conditions in the U.K. and its territories.

“Natural ecosystems provide useful services for humanity, such as regulating climate, preventing floods, and filtering water. As the building blocks of ecosystems, plants and fungi have the potential to help us address current environmental challenges, such as climate change,” the report notes. “However, these natural benefits could be compromised by biodiversity loss, caused by humans clearing or degrading natural vegetation and over-harvesting wild species, as well as by shifting weather patterns.”

Given the importance of plants and fungi, “we need to have a rough idea of the conservation status of every species,” Eimear Nic Lughadha, conservation scientist at RBG Kew and lead author of the extinction chapter, explained in a statement. Lughadha highlighted advancements with artificial intelligence, adding, “the techniques are good enough to say, ‘this area has a lot of species that haven’t been assessed but are almost certainly threatened.'”

In 2019 alone, 1,942 plants and 1,886 fungi were scientifically named for the first time, according to the report—which adds that “current threats to global biodiversity, from climate change, logging, and land-use change, make the task of cataloguing species a race against time.”

Only six species of medicinal fungi have been assessed for conservation status, “one of which, Fomitopsis officinalis, a wood-inhabiting parasitic fungus, has already been pushed to the brink of extinction,” the report says. Out of 25,791 known medicinal plants, 5,411 have been assessed and 723—or 13%—are threatened.

Professor Monique Simmonds, deputy director of science at RBG Kew and lead author of the commercialization chapter, told the Guardian that humanity should look to nature for treating coronaviruses and other diseases with pandemic potential. As she put it: “I am absolutely sure going forward that some of the leads for the next generation of drugs in this area will come from plants and fungi.”

The report also notes that even though there are at least 7,039 plants that hold potential as foods, “just 15 crop plants contribute to 90% of humanity’s energy intake, and more than four billion people rely on just rice, maize, and wheat.” As an RBG Kew statement explained, “Relying on a handful of crops to feed the global population has contributed to malnutrition and left us vulnerable to climate change.”

 

Stefano Padulosi, co-author of the food chapter, said that “the thousands of underutilized and neglected plant species are the lifeline to millions of people on Earth tormented by unprecedented climate change, pervasive food and nutrition insecurity, and economic disempowerment.”

“Harnessing this basket of untapped resources for making food and production systems more diverse and resilient to change should be our moral duty to current and future generations,” declared Padulosi, former senior scientist at the Alliance of Biodiversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.

Antonelli agreed, saying broadly that “the data emerging from this year’s report paint a picture of a world that has turned its back on the potential of plants and fungi to address fundamental global issues such as food security and climate change. Societies have been too dependent on too few species for too long.”

“At a time of rapid biodiversity loss, we are failing to access the treasure chest of incredible diversity on offer and missing a huge opportunity for our generation,” he added. “As we start the most critical decade our planet has ever faced, we hope this report will give the public, businesses, and policymakers the facts they need to demand nature-based solutions that can address the triple threats of climate change, biodiversity loss, and food security.”

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The Arctic hasn’t been this warm for 3 million years – and that foreshadows big changes for the rest of the planet

Ice floe drifting in Svalbard, Norway. Sven-Erik Arndt/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Julie Brigham-Grette, University of Massachusetts Amherst and Steve Petsch, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44 million square miles (3.74 million square kilometers) – the second-lowest value in the 42 years since satellites began taking measurements. The ice today covers only 50% of the area it covered 40 years ago in late summer.

Graph showing area of Arctic Ocean with at least 15% sea ice in 2020.
This year’s minimum ice extent is the lowest in the 42-year-old satellite record except for 2012, reinforcing a long-term downward trend in Arctic ice cover. Each of the past four decades averages successively less summer sea ice. NSIDC

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has shown, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are higher than at any time in human history. The last time that atmospheric CO2 concentrations reached today’s level – about 412 parts per million – was 3 million years ago, during the Pliocene Epoch.

As geoscientists who study the evolution of Earth’s climate and how it creates conditions for life, we see evolving conditions in the Arctic as an indicator of how climate change could transform the planet. If global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, they could return the Earth to Pliocene conditions, with higher sea levels, shifted weather patterns and altered conditions in both the natural world and human societies.

The Pliocene Arctic

We are part of a team of scientists who analyzed sediment cores from Lake El’gygytgyn in northeast Russia in 2013 to understand the Arctic’s climate under higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Fossil pollen preserved in these cores shows that the Pliocene Arctic was very different from its current state.

Today the Arctic is a treeless plain with only sparse tundra vegetation, such as grasses, sedges and a few flowering plants. In contrast, the Russian sediment cores contained pollen from trees such as larch, spruce, fir and hemlock. This shows that boreal forests, which today end hundreds of miles farther south and west in Russia and at the Arctic Circle in Alaska, once reached all the way to the Arctic Ocean across much of Arctic Russia and North America.

Because the Arctic was much warmer in the Pliocene, the Greenland Ice Sheet did not exist. Small glaciers along Greenland’s mountainous eastern coast were among the few places with year-round ice in the Arctic. The Pliocene Earth had ice only at one end – in Antarctica – and that ice was less extensive and more susceptible to melting.

Forest with birches and evergreen trees.
Boreal forest near Lake Baikal in Russia. Three million years ago these forests extended hundreds of miles farther north than they reach today. Christophe Meneboeuf/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

Because the oceans were warmer and there were no large ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere, sea levels were 30 to 50 feet (9 to 15 meters) higher around the globe than they are today. Coastlines were far inland from their current locations. The areas that are now California’s Central Valley, the Florida Peninsula and the Gulf Coast all were underwater. So was the land where major coastal cities like New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston and Seattle stand.

Warmer winters across what is now the western U.S. reduced snowpack, which these days supplies much of the region’s water. Today’s Midwest and Great Plains were so much warmer and dryer that it would have been impossible to grow corn or wheat there.

Why was there so much CO2 in the Pliocene?

How did CO2 concentrations during the Pliocene reach levels similar to today’s? Humans would not appear on Earth for at least another million years, and our use of fossil fuels is even more recent. The answer is that some natural processes that have occurred on Earth throughout its history release CO2 to the atmosphere, while others consume it. The main system that keeps these dynamics in balance and controls Earth’s climate is a natural global thermostat, regulated by rocks that chemically react with CO2 and pull it out of the atmosphere.

Diagram of rock thermostat
The Greenhouse Effect leads to increases in surface temperatures and, in some places, rainfall. Together these accelerate silicate rock weathering. Faster weathering in turn removes more CO2 from the atmosphere (yellow arrow). The strength of the Greenhouse Effect relies on atmospheric CO2 levels. Gretashum/Wikipedia

In soils, certain rocks continually break down into new materials in reactions that consume CO2. These reactions tend to speed up when temperatures and rainfall are higher – exactly the climate conditions that occur when atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations rise.

But this thermostat has a built-in control. When CO2 and temperatures increase and rock weathering accelerates, it pulls more CO2 from the atmosphere. If CO2 begins to fall, temperatures cool and rock weathering slows globally, pulling out less CO2.

Rock weathering reactions also can work faster where soil contains lots of newly exposed mineral surfaces. Examples include areas with high erosion or periods when Earth’s tectonic processes pushed land upward, creating major mountain chains with steep slopes.

The rock weathering thermostat operates at a geologically slow pace. For example, at the end of the Age of Dinosaurs about 65 million years ago, scientists estimate that atmospheric CO2 levels were between 2,000 and 4,000 parts per million. It took over 50 million years to reduce them naturally to around 400 parts per million in the Pliocene.

Because natural changes in CO2 levels happened very slowly, cyclic shifts in Earth’s climate system were also very slow. Ecosystems had millions of years to adapt, adjust and slowly respond to changing climates. https://www.youtube.com/embed/2hNgEVFMJnQ?wmode=transparent&start=0 Summer heat waves are altering northern Siberia, thawing permafrost and creating conditions for large-scale wildfires.

A Pliocene-like future?

Today human activities are overwhelming the natural processes that pull CO2 out of the atmosphere. At the dawn of the Industrial Era in 1750, atmospheric CO2 stood at about 280 parts per million. It has taken humans only 200 years to completely reverse the trajectory begun 50 million years ago and return the planet to CO2 levels not experienced for millions of years.

Most of that shift has happened since World War II. Yearly increases of 2-3 parts per million now are common. And in response, the Earth is warming at a fast pace. Since roughly 1880 the planet has warmed by 1 degree Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) – many times faster than any warming episode in the past 65 million years of Earth’s history.

In the Arctic, losses of reflective snow and ice cover have amplified this warming to +5 C (9 F). As a result, summertime Arctic sea ice coverage is trending lower and lower. Scientists project that the Arctic will be completely ice-free in summer within the next two decades.

[Insight, in your inbox each day. You can get it with The Conversation’s email newsletter.]

This isn’t the only evidence of drastic Arctic warming. Scientists have recorded extreme summer melt rates across the Greenland Ice Sheet. In early August, Canada’s last remaining ice shelf, in the territory of Nunavut, collapsed into the sea. Parts of Arctic Siberia and Svalbard, a group of Norwegian islands in the Arctic Ocean, reached record-shattering high temperatures this summer.

Coastal cities, agricultural breadbasket regions and water supplies for many communities all will be radically different if this planet returns to a Pliocene CO2 world. This future is not inevitable – but avoiding it will require big steps now to decrease fossil fuel use and turn down Earth’s thermostat.

Julie Brigham-Grette, Professor of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst and Steve Petsch, Associate Professor of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Posted in climate change, Climate Crisis, Climate Emergency | Leave a comment

I think that it may be time to party …

[ed: I think that the Idiot/Ignoramus OTUS is history (i.e. dead) although I accept that I have made a false call for another blond-haired ignoramus who is instead actually still hanging on as the walking(dead)]

That ‘China virus’ that will go away …

such extreme xenaphobic fascism …

It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving blond-haired psychopath …

Oh, come to think of it

Can I do on your way to Perpetual Torment?

[ed: He was never a Christian, the filthy rich are raised and educated as psychopaths (US: sociopaths). They are taught to be uncaring (your choice here, may be 4/5 characters {or 6/7] or 8/9) who are not responsible for the consequences of their actions. Rich cnuts are rich cnuts because that’s what they’re taught.

To change it. Hold them responsible for their actions, stop that teaching, stop them being rich.

ed: Socially distanced please

[ed: Capitalism is not coping well with Coronavirus. Have you noticed? We’ve got to do away with ridiculously rich people and instead care for each other and our future (including our World and our Environment)] .

later: Shouldn’t we be caring for our World? Shouldn’t we be caring for it?

later: We need to care for each other and our world and our environment and we can’t allow a ridiculously rich minority to destroy it/that.

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Donald Trump denies the climate crisis and Coronavirus

Trump’s climate denial appears stupid and ignorant from such a stable genius.
200,000 US deaths from Coronavirus so far. Trump repeatedly said it was not a problem and that it would go away. What a stable genius.
Stable Genius Trump visits London in July 2018.
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Boris was an Englishman, a liar and a cheat …

Boris was an Englishman, a liar and a cheat …

Is that reality rupture?

ed: Isn’t that that exactly what you should expect from someone with such a reputation?

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Climate scientists discuss their fears for the future

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55 Tufton Street

55 Tufton Street, near the UK parliament at Westminster, London is home to many influential thinktanks that promote climate crisis denial and climate destruction. Writers Rebel, associated with Extinction Rebellion held a protest there on 2 September 2020.

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Extinction Rebellion targets Murdoch newspapers

Extinction Rebellion blockaded three Murdoch newspaper printing centres in UK overnight Friday / Saturday morning. While XR disrupted Murdoch’s newspapers for one day, UK politicians have mostly responded in a ridiculously exaggerated way since they are keen to get Murdoch’s endorsement to progress their careers. It is Rupert Murdoch who has traditionally decided who will be UK’s prime minister. He appoints them and they serve him. [He seems to have been appointing some fairly stupid world leaders lately. It’s probably his management style that he doesn’t want too much (any?) independent thought.]

https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/newspapers-classed-essential-infrastructure-stop-protests-extinction-rebellion-634095

The Government is now considering a range of possible new laws to give the police more powers to stop similar future protests. … One option being considered is updating the list of critical infrastructure which cannot legally be shut down by direct action – such as military bases and police stations – to include media production sites. Another is a new rule specifically protecting institutions seen as central to democracy, such as newspapers, courts and Parliament.

It’s ridiculous isn’t it? Crap newspapers are not critical infrastructure like military bases and police stations. They are instead crap newspapers that have been disrupted for one day. Crap newspapers are hardly central to democracy. It’s not a threat to democracy to disrupt crap newspapers for one day.

Boris Johnson's thumbs up from Rupert Murdoch
Boris Johnson’s thumbs up from Rupert Murdoch

Boris Johnson said: “It is completely unacceptable to seek to limit the public’s access to news in this way.” Keir Starmer added: “The free press is the cornerstone of democracy and we must do all we can to protect it.” The Labour leader said the protest “does nothing to tackle climate change”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said “We must defend ourselves against this attack on capitalism, our way of life and ultimately our freedoms.” She wants Murdoch’s endorsement too. One days disruption of crap newspapers is hardly a credible threat to Capitalism, is it?

‘We Need a Free Press But Do Not Have It’: UK Climate Campaigners Defend Blockade of Murdoch’s Destructive Media Empire

After staging overnight blockades of newspaper printing and delivery operations owned by right-wing magnate Rupert Murdoch and others for perpetuating the global climate crisis, members of Extinction Rebellion UK on Saturday defended the provocative direct actions by pointing out the life-threatening role these media giants play by willfully misinforming the public about the emergency now facing humanity.

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About Jeremy Corbyn

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/85/Jeremy_Corbyn%2C_Leader_of_the_Labour_Party_UK.jpg/512px-Jeremy_Corbyn%2C_Leader_of_the_Labour_Party_UK.jpg

I saw from the inside how Labour staff worked to prevent a Labour government

Jeremy Corbyn may have been ideologically further away from his fellow Labour MPs than any former leader, but that doesn’t justify the relentless nature of the attacks. What Corbyn and his team had to deal with behind the scenes went far beyond factionalism and showed a scorched-earth mentality. Not only did they not want Labour to win under Corbyn, they seemed to be actively trying to lose.

Once the dust finally settles on the Corbyn-era, historians may ponder how different things might have been if these Labour staffers, and numerous Labour MPs, had spent their energies supporting their leader rather than working against him. 

The number of extra votes in marginal seats that Labour needed in 2017 to give Corbyn a chance of being prime minister was an agonising 2,227 [ed: c’mon Ind, let them in;). This will forever remain a sore point for many of us. Because as the leaked report exposed – we know that in 2017 party resources never reached many of the winnable seats that they should have, with allies of the small faction in party HQ standing in safe seats seen as the first priority.

“Proudly Socialist”: A Conversation with Jeremy Corbyn

On a personal note, I would like to say that I am proudly Socialist in the same way as Jeremy Corbyn, his team and his supporters.

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Earth has lost 28 trillion tonnes of ice in less than 30 years

‘Stunned’ scientists say there is little doubt global heating is to blame for the loss

A total of 28 trillion tonnes of ice have disappeared from the surface of the Earth since 1994. That is stunning conclusion of UK scientists who have analysed satellite surveys of the planet’s poles, mountains and glaciers to measure how much ice coverage lost because of global heating triggered by rising greenhouse gas emissions.

The scientists – based at Leeds and Edinburgh universities and University College London – describe the level of ice loss as “staggering” and warn that their analysis indicates that sea level rises, triggered by melting glaciers and ice sheets, could reach a metre by the end of the century.

“To put that in context, every centimetre of sea level rise means about a million people will be displaced from their low-lying homelands,” said Professor Andy Shepherd, director of Leeds University’s Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling.

The scientists also warn that the melting of ice in these quantities is now seriously reducing the planet’s ability to reflect solar radiation back into space. White ice is disappearing and the dark sea or soil exposed beneath it is absorbing more and more heat, further increasing the warming of the planet.

Greta Thunberg: After two years of school strikes, the world is still in a state of climate crisis denial

Science doesn’t tell anyone what to do, it merely collects and presents verified information. It is up to us to study and connect the dots. When you read the IPCC SR1.5 report and the UNEP production gap report, as well as what leaders have actually signed up for in the Paris agreement, you see that the climate and ecological crisis can no longer be solved within today’s systems. Even a child can see that policies of today don’t add up with the current best available science.

We need to end the ongoing wrecking, exploitation and destruction of our life support systems and move towards a fully decarbonised economy that is centred on the wellbeing of all people, democracy and the natural world.

If we are to have a chance of staying below 1.5C of warming, our emissions need to immediately start reducing rapidly towards zero and then on to negative figures. That’s a fact. And since we don’t have all the technical solutions we need to achieve that, we have to work with what we have at hand today. And this has to include stopping doing certain things. That’s also a fact. However, it’s a fact that most people refuse to accept. Just the thought of being in a crisis that we cannot buy, build or invest our way out of seems to create some kind of collective mental short circuit.

This mix of ignorance, denial and unawareness is at the very heart of the problem. As it is now, we can have as many meetings and climate conferences as we want. They will not lead to sufficient changes, because the willingness to act and the level of awareness needed are still nowhere in sight. The only way forward is for society to start treating the crisis like a crisis.

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Track, Trace and the Myth of Private Sector Efficiency

Track, Trace and the Myth of Private Sector Efficiency

The established system for contact tracing is operated through Public Health England (PHE) and run by local public health protection teams in the public sector. Its services had been badly eroded as a result of decades of cuts and closures.

Instead of rebuilding capacity the government decided to create a centralised, privatised system managed by outsourcing giant Serco and call centre company Sitel – which had no experience in contact tracing.

The 27,000 workers employed by Serco and Sitel have reached and advised an average of about two cases and two contacts per call handler over a twelve week period. That’s the equivalent of around £900 per person traced. Call handlers report having nothing to do and some have had no calls to make at all – with some even claiming that they have been paid to sit around and watch Netflix.

To make matters worse, test and trace data show in the twelve week period leading up to August 5th, the privatised national call centres and online service reached and asked to self-isolate only just over half of close contacts of those diagnosed with Covid-19, leaving local health protection teams and local councils to mop up the rest from their scarce resources.

Allyson M Pollock is Professor of public health at the Faculty of Medical Sciences in Newcastle University. Her latest book The End of the NHS is forthcoming from Verso.

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CRONY CAPITALISM: Boris Johnson’s government of sleaze

It’s taken just 12 months for Boris Johnson to create a government of sleaze Johnathan Freedland

Boris Johnson's thumbs up from Rupert Murdoch
Boris Johnson’s thumbs up from Rupert Murdoch

It took the last Tory government the best part of 18 years to become mired in sleaze, but Boris Johnson’s administration is smelling of it already. Whether doling out lucrative contracts, helping billionaire property developers cut costs, or handing out lifetime seats in the House of Lords, the guiding principle seems to be brazen cronyism, coupled with the arrogance of those who believe they are untouchable and that rules are for little people.

This week came word of at least £156m of taxpayers’ money wasted on 50 million face masks deemed unsuitable for the NHS. They were bought from a private equity firm through a company that had no track record of producing personal protective equipment – or indeed anything for that matter – and that had a share capital of just £100. But this company, Prospermill, had a crucial asset. It was co-owned by one Andrew Mills, adviser to the government, staunch Brexiteer and cheerleader for international trade secretary, Liz Truss.

Somehow Prospermill managed to persuade the government to part with £252m, boasting that it had secured exclusive rights over a PPE factory in China. Just one problem. The masks it produced use ear loops, when only masks tied at the head are judged by the government to be suitable for NHS staff. If the government wanted to spend £156m on masks for the nation’s kids to play doctors and nurses, this was a great deal. But in the fight against a pandemic, it was useless.

Boris Johnson’s government is doing little to deny it exploited the Covid crisis to benefit cronies

… Ayanda is not the first unlikely winner of covid-related contracts awarded by the Johnson government. Another lucky supplier is Crisp Websites, a company whose main business is pest control (trading as Pestfix) and which, despite having assets of only £19,000 and just 16 employees, won a £108 million contract for PPE. Clandeboye Agencies Ltd, a confectionery wholesaler, won another £108 million contract, despite lacking prior experience in this area.

And SG Recruitment UK, a healthcare recruitment firm, won a £24 million contract to provide overalls for healthcare workers. While SG Recruitment was at least somewhat experienced in the healthcare industry, its poor financial health made it a risky proposition for providing this critical public service. Auditors had issued a “going concern” warning five months earlier, flagging that the company’s liabilities exceeded its current assets by £376,000. Given recent experience of outsourcers going bust and leaving the government with hefty bills and unfinished projects, SG Recruitment also seems an odd choice.

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CRONY CAPITALISM: Let the proles live in and eat siht

Boris Johnson's thumbs up from Rupert Murdoch

Let the proles live in and eat siht

The Tories’ planning overhaul is a ferocious attack on democracy Laurie Macfarlane

Just over a month ago Boris Johnson promised to deliver the most radical reforms to England’s planning system “since the second world war”. This week we found out what that means in practice, and it’s clear the prime minister wasn’t joking.

In a new white paper the government has set out sweeping plans to “cut red tape, overhaul the planning process and build better, greener homes faster”. But even by the standards of the modern Conservative party, this is no ordinary regulatory bonfire. In one fell swoop, the entire system that has governed land use in England for more than 70 years has been set ablaze.

[W]hy is Boris Johnson’s government really dismantling the planning system? As ever, it helps to follow the money.

As openDemocracy has revealed, the Conservative party has received £11m in donations from individuals and companies linked to the property sector since Johnson became prime minister. These donors are no doubt expecting a return on their investment. Robert Jenrick’s cosy relationship with Richard Desmond may may not be the last scandal to catch the limelight.

From the opening sentence to the final full stop, the government’s white paper emits a strong stench of corporate lobbying, and represents a slap in the face to evidence-based policymaking. At best the reforms represent an ideological crusade to undermine local authorities and hand over more power to private developers. At worst, they are part of a coordinated attempt to undermine English democracy. Either way, they must be resisted every step of the way.

England’s planning changes will create ‘generation of slums’

The biggest shake-up of planning for decades has caused fury that moves to fast-track the construction of “beautiful” homes across England will “dilute” democratic oversight, choke off affordable housing and lead to the creation of “slum” dwellings.

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) described the proposals as “shameful” and said they would do “almost nothing to guarantee the delivery of affordable, well-designed and sustainable homes”. “While they might help to ‘get Britain building’ – paired with the extension of permitted development rights last week – there’s every chance they could also lead to the development of the next generation of slum housing,” said RIBA president Alan Jones.

Our slum future: the planning shakeup set to blight English housing

The Conservative government has a known mistrust of experts, but rarely do ministers fly in the face of their own commissioned research as starkly as the housing secretary did this week. On the very same day that Robert Jenrick triumphantly extended permitted development rights (PDR), allowing a range of building types to be converted into housing without planning permission, his own ministry published a report condemning the same rules for leading to “worse quality” homes.

After studying hundreds of new homes carved out from converted offices, shops, warehouses and industrial buildings, created between 2015 and 2018 through permitted development, a team of academics from University College London and the University of Liverpool found predictably grim results. The planning loophole had unleashed a new breed of tiny, dingy apartments, many barely fit for human habitation, with rooms accessed from long corridors, windows looking across internal atriums into other people’s rooms, and some bedrooms with no windows at all.

‘It feels almost like prison’: the developers building homes with no natural light

Julia Park, head of housing research at architects Levitt Bernstein, says developers are taking advantage of the lack of controls to build flats in basements for which they would not have received permission in the past. “Daylight and space are the two most obvious victims of permitted development rights,” she says. “I can’t imagine that any planning authority would allow either a conversion or a new home to go ahead without a window to each habitable room or at least a roof light.”

Lack of natural light can have serious implications for those living below ground. The government’s housing health rating system, which determines the standards demanded by housing officers, warns inadequate natural light poses a threat to physical and mental health. Sunlight is also known to boost vitamin D, which helps prevent bone loss and reduces the likelihood of various diseases.

For experienced planners, windowless flats are anathema. Hugh Ellis, head of policy at the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), says the window-free flats in Reliance House should never have been built: “Dwellings of any kind without natural light should not be allowed under any circumstances.”

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Clapping won’t save the NHS

Led By Donkeys show how the IFT is trying to sell off the NHS from Clipping for the Many on Vimeo.

Time that I start posting again. The sleezy, corrupt Capitalist elite need to answer to the electorate instead of to their donors. It’s not enough to ask, we must make demands.

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