Tag Archives | Environment

On the Slow Kill of the World’s Oceans

Picture: speakupforblue.com

Picture: speakupforblue.com

Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core:

It is probable that every major ecological pillar however tenuously stabilizing the structure of the oceans is crumbling.  Although some endangered fish populations and coral reef systems are being protected and restored, the seas overall are in deep shit.  Overfishing and pollution are reducing biodiversity by killing-off larges swaths of ocean life.  The destruction of vast marine habitats will have catastrophic repercussions for humanity.  [According to some earth scientists, oceanic ecocide poses a greater threat to the existence of humanity than climate change.  Higher global temperature averages which melt icecaps and glaciers will lead to higher sea levels and the inundation of a plethora of coastal industries, cities, and urban centers that are responsible for contributing to environmental destruction and the mass production of excessive, heat-trapping, carbon-dioxide emissions. As in times of major economic depressions or financial stagnation, the inundation of coastal megalopolises will result in a decrease of industrial activity which may subsequently benefit nature as a whole (until industrial activity is resumed), but would have horrible consequences for humanity, especially for those hundreds of millions of impoverished coastal inhabitants who already live in deprivation, and who would become environmental refugees in the event of a significant increase in sea levels.  (Click here to view an interactive map from National Geographic which depicts how coastlines would change if all glaciers and icecaps on Earth were to melt.)]

Not that there’s anything wrong with them, but human beings have caused a lot of trouble for life in the world’s oceans.  The process in which the destruction of sea life occurs is largely two-fold.  Large-scale destructive events like oil spills (Deepwater Horizon) and nuclear power plant disasters (Fukushima) can cause serious damage to the affected aquatic areas.  Damage from such disasters is often immediately evident, such as the deformed and eyeless fish and shrimp that appeared in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, or the dying sea lions pups and seals with bleeding lesions that have washed up on beaches in California and Alaska the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown.  Yet as grave and harmful as they are, explosive, headline-making disasters are less deleterious to life in the seas than the cumulative, synergistic effects of routine human activities such as oceanic commerce, commercial fishing, and pollution.  For example, a 2002 study by the National Academy of the Sciences found that the 85 percent of the 29 million gallons of marine oil pollution originating from North America derives from runoff from cars and oil-based machines and accessories (like lawnmowers and household robots) – and the sum of these tiny releases of oil, carried into the ocean by streams and storm drains, is equivalent to an Exxon Valdez oil spill every eight months.  [As additional food for thought: there are apparently 90,000 cargo ships in the world.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Ocean Is Broken

Pacific-garbage-patch-map 2010 noaamdpAustralia’s Newcastle Herald describes the sorry tale of Ivan Macfadyen’s adventures in the polluted Pacific Ocean. Here’s a particularly depressing excerpt:

“After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead,” Macfadyen said.

“We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.

“I’ve done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I’m used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen.”

In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes.

“Part of it was the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Japan a couple of years ago. The wave came in over the land, picked up an unbelievable load of stuff and carried it out to sea.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

World Heath Organization Says Air Pollution Is Leading Cause Of Cancer

LandscapeDon’t breathe, it will kill you. Via the South China Morning Post:

The World Health Organization has classified outdoor air pollution as a leading cause of cancer.

“The air we breathe has become polluted with a mixture of cancer-causing substances. We consider this to be the most important environmental carcinogen, more so than passive smoking,” said Kurt Straif, head of the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.

The agency evaluates cancer-causing substances. This is the first time it has classified air pollution in its entirety as causing cancer.

The most recent data, from 2010, showed that 223,000 lung cancer deaths worldwide were the result of air pollution. The expert panel’s classification was made after scientists analysed more than 1,000 studies worldwide and concluded there was enough evidence that exposure to outdoor air pollution causes lung cancer.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

How Monsanto Is Planning To Profit From Climate Change

Landscape

Not everyone is either worried or skeptical regarding man-made global warming. Mother Jones on how Monsanto is eagerly banking on it:

Data to help farmers grow crops in a changing climate. Climate Corporation, which Monsanto is acquiring, sells detailed weather and soil information to “help…manage and adapt to climate change.” Monsanto thinks the ag data business will be a $20-billion market.

Insurance for when it’s too hot, cold, dry, wet, or otherwise extreme outside. Climate Corporation currently sells both federally subsidized crop insurance and supplemental plans.

Drought-resistant corn. Monsanto lists the effects of climate change-related precipitation changes and droughts as a potential “opportunity.” This year, Monsanto started rolling out a new line of patented, first-of-its-kind genetically engineered corn seeds that are resistant to drought.

Cotton that needs less water to grow. The company is piloting genetically modified cotton that that can grow while using less water and survive drought.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Ecofascism: A Left Biocentric Analysis

creepshowDavid Orton, writing in Green Web Bulletin #68:

Fascism comes in many forms. Contemporary fascist-type movements (often an alliance of conservative and fascist forces), like the National Front (France), the Republicans (Germany), the Freedom Movement (Austria), the Flemish Block (Belgium), etc., may have ecological concerns, but these are not at the center of the various philosophies and are but one of a number of issues used to mobilize support – for example crime-fighting, globalization and economic competition, alleged loss of cultural identity because of large scale immigration, etc. For any organization which seeks some kind of popular support, even a fascist organization, it would be hard to ignore the environment. But these would be considered “shallow” not defining or “deep” concerns for deep ecology supporters. None of these or similar organizations call themselves ecofascists. (One time German Green Party member, ecologist Herbert Gruhl, who went on to form other political organizations, and to write the popular 1975 book A Planet Is Plundered: The Balance of Terror of Our Politics, did develop what seems to be an intermeshing of ecological and fascist ideas.) While for fascists, the term “fascist” will have positive connotations (of course not for the rest of us), “ecofascist” as used around the environmental and green movements, has no recognizable past or present political embodiment, and has only negative connotations.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

DisinfoCast: 75: Brian Wood

IMG_7737

Picture: Brian Wood (C)

iTunes | Download (mp3) | RSS | iPhone App

Brian Wood is the author of some of the present era’s smartest comic books, including “DMZ”, “The Massive”, “Channel Zero”, and “Northlanders”. Wood’s original works explore current events through characters trying to survive and even make a difference in the midst of political, social and environmental change. In addition to his all-original stories, Wood is well known for his work with popular franchises like Star Wars, Conan and the X-Men.

In this episode of the DisinfoCast, Wood and I talk about his work, the media, politics, the future and the difficulties an artist faces dealing with the expectations of his fans.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

MIT Study Claims Air Pollution Kills 200,000 Americans Each Year

200,000I believe this is the ultimate example of what is known as “cost externalizing.” Via the MIT News Office:

Researchers from MIT’s Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment have come out with some sobering new data on air pollution’s impact on Americans’ health.

The group tracked ground-level emissions from sources such as industrial smokestacks, vehicle tailpipes, marine and rail operations, and commercial and residential heating throughout the United States, and found that such air pollution causes about 200,000 early deaths each year. Emissions from road transportation are the most significant contributor, causing 53,000 premature deaths, followed closely by power generation, with 52,000.

In 5,695 U.S. cities, the researchers [found] the highest emissions-related mortality rate in Baltimore, where 130 out of every 100,000 residents likely die in a given year due to long-term exposure to air pollution.

Barrett says that a person who dies from an air pollution-related cause typically dies about a decade earlier than he or she otherwise might have.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Oral Sex, Molecular Engineering and the Fall from the Brain of Eden.

wrightbookHumankind was expelled from the Garden of Eden for eating the forbidden fruit. But, according to a radical theory, it was actually for not eating enough of the stuff.

Consciousness theorist Tony Wright argues that human evolution stalled around 200,000 years ago, an event that may have been recorded in the world’s myths as “the fall from grace”, humanity’s rude ejection from a “golden age”. According to the theory, climate change forced humans from tropical forests where a high fruit diet had fuelled the rapid development of the brain. Beyond the forests, with fewer nutritional components present, the brain degenerated, a trend which included the growing domination of the left-hemisphere over an actually better preserved right.

According to Wright, unless we change our diet – or, advanced molecular engineering, as he prefers to call it – we will continue our slide and, via our increasingly destructive actions, continue to literally destroy our once perceived Eden.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

US Historical Revisionism and Imminent War with Syria

On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin remarks on the ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan, citing the scope of the radiation and lack of willingness by the international community to address the environmental crisis that is threatening the fate of humanity. Abby then talks to author & historian Peter Kuznick about historical revisionism in global conflicts, the US government’s double standards, the current crisis in Syria and the real factors driving US foreign policy. Abby wraps up the show talking to Brian Becker of the ANSWER Coalition and Mouaz Moustafa of the Syrian Emergency Task Force about whether or not the US should militarily intervene in Syria’s civil war, citing the rhetoric of chemical weapons, humanitarian intervention, and the lack of public support for a strike.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Radiation Leaking From Fukushima Site 18 Times Greater Than Previously Believed

fukushima

Radiation levels were being measured using devices with far-too-limited scales, the BBC reports:

Radiation levels around Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant are 18 times higher than previously thought, Japanese authorities have warned.

Last week the plant’s operator reported radioactive water had leaked from a storage tank into the ground. It now says readings taken near the leaking tank on Saturday showed radiation was high enough to prove lethal within four hours of exposure.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) had originally said the radiation emitted by the leaking water was around 100 millisieverts an hour. However, the company said the equipment used to make that recording could only read measurements of up to 100 millisieverts.

The new reading will have direct implications for radiation doses received by workers who spent several days trying to stop the leak last week. Experts have said the scale of water leakage may be worse than officials have admitted.

Read the rest
Continue Reading