Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Friday, 30 September 2016

Most people alive today set to witness dangerous global warming in their lifetime, scientists warn

From the Independent - average temperature could rise to two degrees Celsius above the norm by 2050 or ‘even sooner’

"The world could hit two degrees Celsius of warming – the point at which many scientists believe climate change will become dangerous – as early as 2050, a group of leading experts has warned.

In a report called The Truth About Climate Change, they said many people seemed to think of global warming as “abstract, distant and even controversial”.

But the planet is now heating up “much faster” than anticipated, said Professor Sir Robert Watson, a former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and one of the authors of the report.

If their analysis is correct, it means the majority of people alive today will experience what it is like to live on a dangerously overheated planet.

At the Paris Climate Summit last year, world leaders agreed to try to limit global warming to as close to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels as possible – amid concerns the 2C target may not be safe enough.

But in the same year the level of warming reached 1C after an astonishing 0.15C rise in just three years.

Droughts, floods, wildfires and storms are all set to increase as the world warms, threatening crops and causing the extinction of species.

'Bluebelt' should be created around coast to protect marine life, say conservationists

From the Independent - 'If the Government lives up to its stated commitments, such a network would put us at the forefront of worldwide marine conservation'

"The Government has already created 50 such conservation zones, but in a new report The Wildlife Trusts called for another 48 to be set up to establish a “really comprehensive network” that would help marine life to flourish.

These provide different levels of protection depending on what is precious in each area. For example, trawling or dredging could be banned to preserve a particularly valuable sea bed.

But the measures could be as simple as banning anchoring on a field of sea grass but putting in a buoy that boats could tie up to instead.

Joan Edwards, The Wildlife Trusts’ head of living seas, said: “This is an unprecedented opportunity to create an effective network of protected areas at sea."

The full article can be read here.

Cape Verde: The African country that plans to run on 100% renewable energy by 2020

From the Independent - the island nation's energy minister says its goals are perfectly achievable - and won't just help Cape Verdeans

"The island nation of Cape Verde has pledged to power the entire country with nothing but renewable energy by the year 2020, and vowed to help other African states work towards the same goal in future.

With almost no mineral resources of its own and little arable farmland, the outcrop in the middle of the Atlantic ocean relies on expensive imports for almost all the needs of its 550,000 population.

But there are two things it does have in abundance: sun and wind.

In 2010, the Cape Verde government released a study setting out the benefits of investing heavily in solar power plants and wind turbines, suggesting short term targets of 25 per cent renewable energy by the end of 2011 and 50 per cent by 2020.

Yet that same research suggested the country would benefit in a variety of ways if it could achieve the loftier ambition of completely divesting from all fossil fuel imports.

The project Cabeólica was established as the first Public Private Partnership (PPP) to deliver commercial scale wind power in sub-Saharan Africa."

The full article can be found here.

Furniture that destroys forests: crackdown on 'rampant' trade in rosewood

From the Guardian - Cites summit moves to protect the world’s most trafficked wild product by placing all 300 species of the tree under trade restrictions

"Governments have launched a crackdown on the rampant billion-dollar trade in rosewood timber that is plundering forests across the planet to feed a booming luxury furniture market in China.

The Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) summit on Thursday placed all 300 species of rosewood under trade restrictions, meaning criminals can no longer pass off illegally logged species as legitimate.

Rosewood is the world’s most trafficked wild product, according to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime, accounting for a third of all seizures by value, more than elephant ivory, pangolins, rhino horn, lions and tigers put together.

With a beautiful deep red glow, it is the traditional wood used for elite, classic-style “hongmu” furniture in China: one huge carved bed was on sale recently for $1m. But due to explosive demand from China’s fast-growing middle class, the rosewood trade has soared since 2005, multiplying 65 times in value and now worth $2.2bn a year."

The full article can be found here.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Why Reporters Should DEFEND Julian Assange Wikileaks Shawna G. Valentine

From YouTube:

Why Reporters Should DEFEND Julian Assange

Why Reporters Should DEFEND Julian Assange Wikileaks
Shawna G. Valentine 

John Ratcliffe Explodes On FBI Director James Comey For Covering Up Hillary Clinton's Lies

From YouTube:

"john ratcliffe is he not happy FBI director james comey let witnesses that could potentially put hillary clinton behind bars he let those same witnesses sit in a interview the fbi had with hillary clinton which is really really not the way you go about something if your trying to actually find something someone did was wrong you dont invite the only people that can put her away in the room with her.."

The world passes 400ppm carbon dioxide threshold. Permanently

From the Guardian - we are now living in a 400ppm world with levels unlikely to drop below the symbolic milestone in our lifetimes, say scientists. Climate Central reports

"In the centuries to come, history books will likely look back on September 2016 as a major milestone for the world’s climate. At a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide is usually at its minimum, the monthly value failed to drop below 400 parts per million (ppm).

That all but ensures that 2016 will be the year that carbon dioxide officially passed the symbolic 400 ppm mark, never to return below it in our lifetimes, according to scientists.

Because carbon pollution has been increasing since the start of the industrial revolution and has shown no signs of abating, it was more a question of “when” rather than “if” we would cross this threshold. The inevitability doesn’t make it any less significant, though.

September is usually the month when carbon dioxide is at its lowest after a summer of plants growing and sucking it up in the northern hemisphere. As fall wears on, those plants lose their leaves, which in turn decompose, releasing the stored carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. At Mauna Loa Observatory, the world’s marquee site for monitoring carbon dioxide, there are signs that the process has begun but levels have remained above 400 ppm."

The full article can be read here.

New York City accelerates emissions efforts in face of daunting sea level rise

From the Guardian - City to expand renewable energy generation, improve efficiency of buildings, transition to electric vehicles and improve waste management to cut emissions

"New York City has set out a plan to quicken its pace of decarbonization in order to meet its emissions reduction target, as the metropolis prepares for a daunting sea level rise due to climate change.

The proposals state that New York “must accelerate efforts” to expand renewable energy generation, improve the energy efficiency of buildings, transition to electric vehicles and improve waste management in order to meet its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050, based on 2005 levels.

The city has already lowered its emissions by 14% and is set to almost treble this reduction by 2030, but the road map warns that these efforts are not enough and “we must continue to do more to reduce emissions in New York City and lead progress across the globe if we are all to avoid the worst impacts of climate change”.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said: “Locally, we have continued to drive down our emissions, but we have much more to do.”

The full article can be read here.

Our kids learn their ABCs in school. But why not climate change?

From the Guardian - the classroom is the right place to start educating our citizens about the greatest challenge they will face

"The reality of climate change is here, and the science behind our warming planet is clear. July and August 2016 were the hottest months in recorded history. And last year was the hottest on record. Wildfires have scorched California. Thousand-year floods have devastated Louisiana. Temperatures are soaring. Sea levels are rising. Weather is more extreme. Greenhouse gases have been steadily increasing for decades.

But the trove of research and resulting evidence for human-caused climate change still leaves us with questions. Many of us don’t know how climate change will affect us, collectively and individually. We aren’t certain how we are responsible or what can we do about it.

With nothing less than the future of our planet at stake, the teaching of facts and promotion of understanding must be the order of the day. That is why we introduced the Climate Change Education Act in the US House and the Senate. The legislation would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) to create a Climate Change Education Program geared towards teaching students and others about climate change."

The full article can be read here.

Obama’s climate change legacy at stake as Clean Power Plan has its day in court

From the Guardian - seven hours of legal argument on states’ right to allow carbon pollution may determine the fate of the centerpiece of US efforts to limit climate change

"The future of the US’s centerpiece plan to tackle climate change hangs in the balance following nearly seven hours of legal argument over whether it tramples upon the right of states to allow carbon pollution.

Power utilities and business groups have joined 27 states in challenging the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which would be the single largest tool in cutting greenhouse gas emissions to help avoid dangerous climate change.

On Tuesday, lawyers representing the states and the Obama administration presented oral arguments to the US court of appeals for the District of Columbia circuit. Earlier this year, the supreme court halted the rollout of the Clean Power Plan until the legal challenges were heard. The District of Columbia court is expected to decide by late February but if the case progresses to the supreme court it is likely to continue into 2018.

Opponents of the plan claim the US Environmental Protection Agency has overreached by declaring carbon dioxide a harmful pollutant that requires regulation. West Virginia’s attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, who filed a challenge as soon as the plan was announced, said the plan would cause “West Virginia coalminers to lose their jobs and West Virginians’ electricity bills to skyrocket”.

The full article can be read here.

Environmentalists 'expected better' of Trudeau as Canada backs gas project

From the Guardian - the Pacific NorthWest LNG project would ship 19m tons a year of frozen, liquefied natural gas to markets in Asia – and create jobs, says the government

"Canada’s commitment to fighting climate change has been questioned after the Liberal government, led by Justin Trudeau, announced conditional approval for a C$36bn liquefied natural gas project in northern British Columbia.

The decision – the Trudeau government’s first on a major energy project – was announced late on Tuesday. “The government approved the Pacific NorthWest LNG project,” Catherine McKenna, the environment minister, told reporters in a Vancouver suburb.

Backed by Malaysia’s energy giant Petronas, the project would ship 19m tonnes a year of frozen, liquefied natural gas to markets in Asia. The government promised the project, one of Canada’s largest resource development projects, would create thousands of jobs – as many as 630 direct and spin-off jobs and 4,500 construction jobs – and add nearly C$2.4bn per year to the country’s GDP."

The full article can be read here.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Health of more than 90% of world’s population affected by air pollution ‘emergency’, WHO says

From the Independent - ‘Air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, and affects economies and people’s quality of life – it is a public health emergency’

"More than nine out of every 10 people on the planet live in areas where air pollution breaches official safety limits – and millions of people are dying as a result, according to new research by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

An interactive map produced by WHO shows vast areas of the world are bathed in tiny particles from pollutants such as sulphate, nitrates and black carbon, which can penetrate deep into the lungs and beyond, leading to an array of deadly diseases. China, India, eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa are among the worst affected regions.

Heart attacks, strokes and lung cancer can all be caused by the particles, known as PM2.5 and PM10, which also increase the risk of getting an acute respiratory infection."

The full article can be read here.

Climate change projected to outpace rates of niche change in grasses posing threat to staple foods, say scientists

From the Independent - experts reveal global warming is typically occuring 5,000 times faster than the estimated speed at which grasses could adapt

"Global warming could rapidly threaten grasses including staple foods such as wheat and rice that provide half of all the calories consumed by humans, say scientists.

A new study looking ahead to 2070 found that climate change was occurring thousands of times faster than the ability of grasses to adapt.

While the research cannot predict what might happen to world food supplies as a result, the authors warn of “troubling implications”.

Grass is food, both for many species of animals and humans."

The full article can be read here.

Peru’s new president summoned to Amazon by indigenous protestors

From the Guardian - interview with Kichwa leader José Fachín on oil contamination, social struggle and the future of Peru’s biggest region

"Indigenous peoples are part blockading one of the main tributaries of the River Amazon and demanding that Peru’s new president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski visit them - with no positive response to date. The protest is one of the latest instances of social unrest across Peru and in Loreto in particular, which, at 50% larger than the UK, is Peru’s biggest and most difficult-to-access region - as well as one of the poorest.

This poverty, together with poor infrastructure and a weak or non-existent state, is particularly outrageous given that some of Peru’s historically most productive oil fields are in Loreto. True, more than 40 years of operations, mostly by foreign companies, have transformed the region to the extent that the economy is now largely dependent on oil, generating wealth through tax revenues and casual employment for many people. But how have such revenues been spent? And what of the fact that the location of the oil fields has meant the systematic invasion and exploitation of huge swathes of indigenous peoples’ territories - allegedly contaminating rivers and local inhabitants, blocking efforts by communities to obtain land title, creating economic dependency, dominating local politics, buying off leaders, misleading community members, dumping trash, wasting staggering amounts of energy and resources, and, in general, leaving precious little behind in terms of infrastructure, basic services, education, beneficial projects and skilled, sustainable employment?"

The full article can be read here.

No fracking, drilling or digging: it’s the only way to save life on Earth

From the Guardian - The Paris climate change agreement is worthless. Politicians can’t possibly honour it unless we stop developing all new fossil fuel reserves.

"Do they understand what they have signed? Plainly they do not. Governments such as ours, now ratifying the Paris agreement on climate change, haven’t the faintest idea what it means – either that or they have no intention of honouring it.

For the first time we can see the numbers on which the agreement depends, and their logic is inescapable. Governments can either meet their international commitments or allow the prospecting and development of new fossil fuel reserves. They cannot do both.

The Paris agreement, struck by 200 nations in December, pledged to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels”, and aspired to limit it to 1.5C. So what does this mean? Thanks to a report by Oil Change International, we can now answer this question with a degree of precision.

Using the industry’s own figures, it shows that burning the oil, gas and coal in the fields and mines that is already either in production or being developed, is likely to take the global temperature rise beyond 2C. And even if all coal mining were to be shut down today, the oil and gas lined up so far would take it past 1.5C. The notion that we can open any new reserves, whether by fracking for gas, drilling for oil or digging for coal, without scuppering the Paris commitments is simply untenable."

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

John Cleese warns this planet could be NO MORE and become 'biological desert'

From the Express - MONTY PYTHON legend John Cleese has created a 21st Century version of the legendary Dead Parrot Sketch to warn about the threat to the planet’s endangered creatures.

"The comedy genius admits there is nothing funny about his new Dead Planet Sketch and its warnings about the threats to lions, elephants and rhinos.

He warned: “Our great planet is eating itself and if we don’t act now and start thinking about the future, this Earth will become a biological desert within the lifetimes of our children.

Cleese has sent a stark video warning to delegates meeting at the United Nations' summit on wildlife trade as it focusses on lions, elephants and rhinos and the dire threats they face.

In the famous Dead Parrot Sketch, the joke is on a so-called Norweigan Blue, a purely fictitious species, but in his special appeal to delegates attending the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the creatures facing oblivion are all too real."

Fracking gas blamed for ‘environmental destruction’ in US to arrive in UK

From the Independent - 'Virtual pipeline' will see one of eight specially built tankers sail across the Atlantic once every five days.

"The arrival of a giant tanker in the Firth of Forth in Scotland on Tuesday will signal the opening of a “virtual pipeline” transporting vast amounts of gas from US fracking wells – blamed for causing "human suffering and environmental destruction" – to Europe.

Ineos, the company that runs the giant refinery at Grangemouth, plans to eventually transport more than 800,000 tonnes of ethane, using eight specially built ships, across the Atlantic every year – and claims this new supply could “revolutionise” UK manufacturing.

However, anti-fracking campaigners pointed out that one of the companies supplying the gas, Range Resources, was fined more than $4m (£3.1m) for allowing liquid from its wells to pollute groundwater and soil in Pennsylvania in 2014 – the largest penalty ever imposed for an environmental offence by the state. One of the central criticisms of fracking is that it can lead to pollution of the land and air, with claims this can affect people's health."

The full article can be read here.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Labour wants to ban fracking to stop climate change

From the Mail - Labour is to announce that it will ban fracking if it wins the next general election - despite Jeremy Corbyn promising to bring back coal mining.

"Shadow energy minister Barry Gardiner will confirm a new policy at the party conference in Liverpool later, insisting an 'outright ban' on fracking natural gas is vital to tackle climate change.

Fracking involves drilling into the ground and using explosive techniques to extract natural gas which can be used to generate power. The process is controversial over fears it can cause earthquakes and is bad for the environment.

'The next Labour government will back the clean technologies of the future.

'We will consult with our colleagues in industry and the trade unions about the best way to transition our energy industry to create the vital jobs and apprenticeships we are going to need for the UK's low-carbon future.'

During his first run at the Labour leadership last year, Mr Corbyn said: 'The last deep mine coal mines in South Wales have gone.

'But it's quite possible that in future years coal prices will start to go up again around the world and maybe they'll be a case for what is actually very high quality coal, particularly in South Wales, being mined again.'

Mr Corbyn said so-called 'clean coal', which uses technology to trap escaping carbon dioxide, was 'complicated' but 'quite attractive'."

Canada’s Great Bear forest comes under Commonwealth canopy

From the Guardian - Prince William to announce addition of temperate rainforest to worldwide conservation network

"An unlikely alliance of the Queen, Prince William, the Labour MP Frank Field, Commonwealth countries and Canadian ecologists join forces today to protect one of the largest coastal temperate rainforests in the world: the Great Bear rainforest along the central and west coast of British Columbia.

Prince William is in the Canadian province for a weeklong visit and will announce on Monday that the forest will join an international network of forests designed to involve all 53 countries in the Commonwealth.

The network of forests is part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy (QCC), a forest conservation initiative launched in the monarch’s name at the Malta Commonwealth summit last year.

Field said: “The aim is to form a network and collective voice that rivals the Amazonian rainforest in size, and makes a permanent contribution to fight against climate change. The existence of many Commonwealth nations is directly imperilled by climate change, and this is now a subject that is at the heart of the Commonwealth’s purpose.”

The full article can be found here.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

The grey parrot and the race against Africa’s wildlife extinction

From the Guardian - the number of African greys has plunged to 1% of past levels, conservationists warn. But it is just one of a host of animals and plants on the continent whose future will be debated by more than 180 nations in Johannesburg this week.

"Perry, a five-year-old African grey parrot, is for sale on a well-known pet trade website for £750. She looks in good condition with her large black bill, red tail and white mask and her owner says she can whistle the tune of Flower of Scotland, does a passable imitation of R2D2 and is “very clever and funny”.

What Perry’s Scottish owner does not tell prospective buyers is that the African grey is close to extinction in the wild largely because of the international pet trade.

Although there have been restrictions on the export of these small and intelligent birds since 2009, dealers pay a pittance for tens of thousands of them to be trapped every year in the rainforests of west and central Africa and smuggled out."

It’s easy to catch them, say researchers from Birdlife, a global grouping of conservation groups. A team of hunters will use decoys or go to the birds’ water and mineral licks in the forests where flocks gather. They then throw nets over them and take dozens at a time.

Canadian town steams over Nestlé bid to control local spring water well

From the Guardian - activists in Centre Wellington plan to block Ontario pump tests after bottled-water makers overtook community’s attempt to secure long-term water source.

"A small town in Ontario, Canada, has prompted fresh scrutiny of the bottled-water industry after its attempt secure a long-term water supply through the purchase of a well was outbid by the food and drinks multinational Nestlé.

When authorities in Centre Wellington, population of about 30,000, learned that Nestlé had put a bid on a spring water well in their region, they scrambled over the summer to counter with a competing bid. The goal was to safeguard a water supply for the township’s fast-growing population, Kelly Linton, the mayor, told the Guardian. “By 2041, we’ll be closer to 50,000 so protecting our water sources is critical to us.”

Using a numbered company, the municipality submitted what Linton described as an “aggressive bid” for the five-hectare site. “We put in more money than they did and we removed all conditions.” He declined to specify the exact amount of the bid.

An agreement forged with Nestlé after its initial bid, made 18 months earlier, gave the company the right to respond. “They had the opportunity to match our offer and that’s how we lost on that on that one,” said Linton."

The full article can be read here.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Terns follow record warm temperatures in 'shock' migration to north of Alaska

From the Guardian - researchers on north-west coast of Alaska startled to discover Caspian terns 1,000 miles farther north than species had been previously recorded

"Eyebrows would be raised if American crocodiles, found on the southern tip of Florida, decided to relocate to New York’s Fifth Avenue or Moroccan camels suddenly joined the tourist throng outside Buckingham Palace in London. Yet this is the scale of species shift that appears to be under way in Alaska.

In July, researchers in Cape Krusenstern national monument on the north-west coast of Alaska were startled to discover a nest containing Caspian terns on the gravelly beach of a lagoon. The birds were an incredible 1,000 miles further north than the species had been previously recorded.

“There was plenty of shock, it is a very unusual situation,” said Dr Martin Robards, Arctic program director at the Wildlife Conservation Society, which found the nest. “We checked with Caspian tern experts and they were all very surprised they were this far north. We get Arctic terns here but these terns are much bigger, they really stand out.”

The full article can be read here.

Lessons from the environmental frontline

From the Guardian - the Dakota pipeline protests have drawn indigenous people from across the Americas. But everyone else needs to understand it’s their fight too.

"Im here until January,” said a man sitting with his arms crossed in the backseat. The six of us had piled into an old Ford Taurus, hitching a ride back to camp from a prayer ceremony at the site in North Dakota where protests against the now infamous pipeline project had been met with riot police and attack dogs only days before. “The long haul.”

“Right on,” said a woman in the front. “That’s dedication.”

He was from the Navajo Nation, where he was studying business management at Diné College on the reservation. She was from the Cherokee Nation and had arrived at 3am that morning. Everyone in the car, it turned out, was from a different tribe. That’s not unusual for Red Warrior Camp near Cannonball, North Dakota, where nations and tribes from around the world have united behind a common purpose: stop the Dakota Access pipeline."

The full article can be read here.

Dutch parliament votes to close down country's coal industry

From the Guardian - non-binding vote for 55% cut in CO2 emissions will require closure of remaining five plants and ensure country meets its Paris climate commitments

"The Dutch parliament has voted for a 55% cut in CO2 emissions by 2030, which would require the closure of all the country’s coal-fired power plants.

The unexpected vote on Thursday night by 77 to 72 would bring the Netherlands clearly into line with the Paris climate agreement, with some of the most ambitious climate policies in Europe.

It is not binding on the government, but the Liberal and Labour parties say they will now push for speedy implementation of the motion.

Five Dutch coal-fired power stations were closed last year but the country still has another five plants in operation. Three of these came online in 2015, and have been blamed for a 5% rise in the country’s emissions last year."

The full article can be read here.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Breaking News: Hillary Clinton Top Email Architect Found To Be In Contempt of Congress

From YouTube:

Brian Pagliano, top Hillary Clinton Email Server Architect was found to be in "Contempt of Congress" for his "Failure to Appear" before the House Oversight and Reforms Committee. Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) provides contextual background for the motion before the Committee with 5 minute comments provided by Republicans and Democrats for and against the motion.

In a 19-15 vote in FAVOR of a finding of Contempt, the matter will be under review for 48 hours, after which, the recommendation will be brought before the entire House of Representatives which is required for a vote to officially find Mr. Pagliano to be in Contempt.

Should the majority of the House of Representatives vote affirmatively in favor of finding Mr. Pagliano to be in Contempt, the matter will most likely be sent by referral to the Department of Justice / Superior Court in the District of Columbia for Criminal Proceedings.

Mr. Pagliano had been subpoenaed at least twice by Chairman Chaffetz to provide verbal/written testimony regarding the Hillary Clinton Email Server issue, as well as to provide the "Immunity Agreement" that is alleged to exist providing Mr. Pagliano from criminal prosecution for any testimony he may provide before Congress.

The Immunity Agreement does not however provide protections from "Failing to Appear" before Congress as required by a lawfully executed Subpoena. Failing to Appear, and Failing to Provide Requested Documents, is potentially a criminal offense that must be prosecuted by the Department of Justice under separate charges not included within the original Immunity Agreement.

Stay tuned for further updates as there are dissenting opinions as well as supporting statements that will be uploaded to this channel shortly.

*I will immediately reply to any legitimate copyright concerns should one exist.

Obama warns global warming could SUBMERGE cities and lead to NEW migration crisis

From the Express - GLOBAL warming could submerge cities and lead to a new global migration crisis, Barack Obama has warned.

"Speaking for the final time as US commander-in-chief at the UN General Assembly, he pleaded for “urgency” before climate change caused a nightmare scenario.

The outgoing president also warned human-caused environmental changes could lead to food shortages and new wars breaking out between starving countries.

He said: “If we don’t act boldly, the bill that could come due will be mass migrations, and cities submerged and nations displaced, and food supplies decimated, and conflicts born of despair.”He highlighted the role poorer countries needed to play in stopping such a situation, and the help richer nations needed to give them, as he added his support for a £7.7billion Green Climate Fund.

He said: “It should only be the beginning. We need to invest in research and provide market incentives to develop new technologies, and then make these technologies accessible and affordable for poorer countries.

“And only then can we continue lifting all people up from poverty without condemning our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair.”

The full article can be read here.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Climate Denial is the Result of the Powell Memo…

From YouTube:

Republican climate denial isn't just a corruption of politics - it's a perversion of politics.

Thom Hartmann on how corporate power is preventing action on climate change.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016


From the Global Warming Policy Forum:

"The Energy and Climate Change (ECC) select committee is to be officially abolished following the conference season, with the business, innovation and skills (BIS) department to take on the energy brief.

Following the closure of the Department of Energy and Climate Changeand the formation of the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), official government documents have revealed that the scrutiny committees will be changed to reflect the new landscape.

According to the House of Commons Future Business papers for the week beginning 10 October, the standing order related to select committees will be amended to remove “Innovation and Skills” from the BIS select committee to be replaced by “Energy and Industrial Strategy”.

This will take effect on 17 October, when the ECC committee will be dissolved. These changes will also reflect the removal of climate change from a named government department, with the new BEIS committee presumably taking over scrutiny of this area in addition to the named briefs."

The full article can be read here.

Theresa May: UK to ratify Paris climate change deal this year

From the Guardian - Prime minister uses maiden UN speech to make emissions pledge which will be received with relief by green campaigners.

"Theresa May has given her first major commitment that Britain will continue to tackle climate change after leaving the EU, as she promised to ratify the Paris agreement by the end of the year.

The prime minister used her maiden speech at the United Nations in New York to say the UK remained determined to “play our part in the international effort against climate change … In a demonstration of our commitment to the agreement reached in Paris, the UK will start its domestic procedures to enable ratification of the Paris agreement and complete these before the end of the year,” she said.

The UK was party to negotiations as part of the EUand will be expected to take on emissions reductions based on an EU-wide “burden-sharing” agreement, which is yet to be worked out."

Our roads are choked. We’re on the verge of carmageddon

From the Guardian - car use takes a huge toll on our health and on the planet. We need to kick our addiction to driving.

"It was a mistake – a monumental, world-class mistake. Cars for everyone was one of the most stupid promises politicians ever made. Cars are meant to meet a simple need: quick and efficient mobility. Observe an urban artery during the school run, or a trunk road on a bank holiday weekend, and ask yourself whether the current system meets that need. The vast expanse of road space, the massive investment in metal and fossil fuel, has delivered the freedom to sit fuming in a toxic cloud as your life ticks by.

The primary aim has become snarled up with other, implicit objectives: the sense of autonomy, the desire for self-expression through the configuration of metal and plastic you drive, and the demand for profit by car manufacturers and fossil fuel producers whose lobbying keeps us on the road rather than moving along it.

Step back from this mess and ask yourself this. If you controlled the billions that are spent every year – privately and publicly – on the transport system, and your aim was to smooth the passage of those who use it, is this what you would do? Only if your imagination had been surgically excised."

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

An American tragedy: why are millions of trees dying across the country?

From the Guardian - a quiet crisis playing out in US forests as huge numbers of trees succumb to drought, disease, insects and wildfire – much of it driven by climate change

"Forestry officials and scientists are increasingly alarmed, and say the essential role of trees – providing clean water, locking up carbon and sheltering whole ecosystems – is being undermined on a grand scale.

California and mountain states have suffered particularly big die-offs in recent years, with 66m trees killed in the Sierra Nevada alone since 2010, according to the Forestry Service.

In northern California, an invasive pathogen called Sudden Oak Death is infecting hundreds of different plants, from redwoods and ferns to backyard oaks and bay laurels. The disease is distantly related to the cause of the 19th-century Irish potato famine, and appears to have arrived with two “Typhoid Marys”, rhododendrons and bay laurels, said Dr David Rizzo, of the University of California, Davis.

“We’re talking millions of trees killed, whole mountain sides dying,” Rizzo said."

Monday, 19 September 2016

How vital fish stocks in Africa are being stolen from human mouths to feed pigs and chickens on Western factory farms

From the Independent - with soaring meat consumption around the world, vital omega 3-rich fish stocks destined for human mouths in western Africa are being snatched by foreign food companies to feed factory-farmed animals – and ultimately the populations of wealthier countries

"We don’t have gold, or petrol or diamonds, the sea is the only resource that our country has," says Mariane Tening Ndiaye, a fish trader and head of the women’s fish smoking association, as she takes me around her domain behind the market. Low-strung platforms covered in flayed fish and blackened ovens stretch away into the distance, the air thick with the stench of rotting fish guts.

This site is one of two fish smoking centres in Joal, a coastal town 70 miles south of Senegal’s capital Dakar, part of a fishing industry that employs almost a million people in the country and supplies many more across West Africa with dried fish.

The full article can be read here.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Climate & Extreme Weather News #5 (September 6th-16th 2016)

From YouTube:

Climate & Extreme Weather News #5 (September 6th to 16th 2016)

In Ohio, frackers are drilling. Soon Ineos will be doing the same in Britain

From the Guardian - the UK chemicals giant, which has 30 applications to drill at home, is running publicity tours on the Appalachian shale fields to boost the industry’s image.

"Red velvet curtains hung on the windows and painted cherubs played on the ceiling as Jim Ratcliffe accepted the 2016 ICIS Kavaler Award at the Metropolitan Club in New York last week.

The British billionaire is the first foreigner to be awarded the honour, given by leaders in the chemical industry. It comes as Ineos, the chemicals company he founded, plans to bring fracking – the controversial oil and gas extraction process – back to the UK.

Ineos is planning as many as 30 applications for fracking sites in the UK within the next year. As part of its campaign to win over critics, Ineos invited journalists to tour fracking sites in Pennsylvania operated by Consol, a Pittsburgh-based producer of natural gas and coal and, supposedly, an example of why fracking will be good for the UK.

What’s in store for the UK can be seen about an hour southwest of Pittsburgh, in the town of Switzerland, Ohio, where a rig stands near a farm. The well is in its earliest stages: drilling goes on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sitting in a big armchair surrounded by screens, “T-Ball”, a burly 6ft drill operator, works 12-hour shifts, controlling the drilling like a video game. He does this for two-week stints. At night, another person takes over – also working a 12-hour shift."

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Arctic sea ice shrinks to second lowest level ever recorded

From the Guardian - ‘Tremendous loss’ of ice reinforces clear downward trend towards ice-free summers due to effects of climate change.

"Arctic sea ice this summer shrank to its second lowest level since scientists started to monitor it by satellite, with scientists saying it is another ominous signal of global warming.

The National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado said the sea ice reached its summer low point on Saturday, extending 4.14m sq km (1.6m sq miles). That’s behind only the mark set in 2012, 3.39m sq km.

Center director Mark Serreze said this year’s level technically was 10,000 sq km less than 2007, but that’s so close the two years are essentially tied.

Even though this year didn’t set a record, “we have reinforced the overall downward trend. There is no evidence of recovery here,” Serreze said. “We’ve always known that the Arctic is going to be the early warning system for climate change. What we’ve seen this year is reinforcing that.”

The full article can be read here.

They called the War on Terror a new world war – and then forgot all about it

From the Independent - just as the Great War led to the Second, so the world war against al-Qaeda led, via Iraq, to the war against the apocalyptic Isis

"Sometimes, I suspect, the ability of human beings to fool themselves with their own words over the Middle East is greater than the folly of war. One leads to another. I was crossing the Atlantic when the international crimes against humanity took place on 11 September 2001; my plane turned round over the ocean, shedding tons of fuel, before heading back to the safety ofEurope. Safety then, of course. Not now. Before I landed, the third-rate politicians who would lead hundreds of thousands of Arabs – and, comparatively, a few of us – to our deaths in the Middle East had conned us all with their clichés.

The first of these mischievous remarks was that the attacks of 9/11 “had changed the world forever”. Politicians said it, newspaper editorials echoed it, populations repeated this dumb expression by the million. For if we really believed in the “democracy”, “values” and “freedoms” of the West which we suddenly rediscovered, it was our duty to ensure that the murderers of 9/11 did not change our societies. Not now – nor ever.

But there was another expression, which I missed at the time. The US was going to launch, we were told, “a world war against terror”. It’s not the word terror that I failed to spot, a word whose generic, racist use became briefly pardonable after the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, and then more disgusting than ever when it was re-used by Bush, Putin and any tin-pot dictator from the Middle East to Far East Asia to further their policies of brutality across the globe.

No, it was the use of the phrase “world war” which I didn’t notice."

The full article can be read here.

Lives in the balance: climate change and the Marshall Islands

From the Guardian - the numerous atolls that make up the island nation are now regularly swamped due to sea level rise. But as more people flee for the US, many fear their culture will be lost to a country that has already taken so much from them.

"Hilda Heine surveys the latest temporary sea wall that cleaves her property from the waves. It has been knocked down twice since February by floods and she frets about her plants that will probably face a salty demise.

Her vista would, sadly, be unremarkable in the Marshall Islands were it not for the policeman languidly guarding the corrugated metal wall – Heine is the president of the Pacific island nation. Here, no one is spared the rising seas.

“I need a better wall, one with rocks,” Heine mutters. Her presidency will probably be defined by climate change. Heine took charge in January and immediately declared a state of emergency over a drought so dire that water was rationed in the capital, Majuro. The nation also faces the existential threat of sea level rise and, with it, the potential exodus of its population."

The full article can be read here.

Friday, 16 September 2016

The Secret Influence of Corporate Cash on Politics REVEALED!

From YouTube:

Thom [Hartmann] speaks with Ed Pilkington, Chief Reporter for The Guardian, about the stunning leaked documents that reveal the real influence of corporate cash on politics.

Jason Chaffetz SLAMS FBI Agents Right From The Start Of Hearing On Hillary Clinton Investigation

From YouTube:

Trafigura, Vitol and BP exporting dirty diesel to Africa, says Swiss NGO

From the Guardian - traders blend cheap fuel with sulphur levels many times the European limit for sale in African countries, says Public Eye.

"Major European oil companies and commodity traders are exploiting weak fuel standards in African countries to export highly polluting fuels that they could never sell at the pumps in Europe, according to a new report.

The Swiss commodity traders Trafigura and Vitol are among a number of companies accused of exporting what campaigners call “African quality” diesel, blending products in European facilities to create fuels with sulphur levels that are sometimes hundreds of times over European limits, according to a three-year research project by the Swiss NGO Public Eye.

When the fuel is burned, the sulphur is released into the atmosphere as sulphur dioxide and other compounds that are major contributors to respiratory diseases such as bronchitis and asthma."

The full article can be read here.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

It’s absurd that Hinkley is going ahead while cheaper, cleaner options are blocked Caroline Lucas

From the Guardian - Britain’s most abundant resources are the sun, sea and wind. It makes no sense to be wasting so much money on a white elephant.

"It’s finally happened. After weeks of speculation, and despite a hastily called review by Theresa May, the government has given a green light to the most expensive white elephant of a project in British history.

The nuclear power station proposed at Hinkley Point is no ordinary piece of infrastructure. Indeed, according to Greenpeace it will be the most costly object ever built on Earth. A large chunk of the funds for the construction will come from China as part of a deal that will see it lead on the development of another reactor in Bradwell, Essex.

EDF, an energy company owned by the French state, will stump up the rest of the construction costs. Just months after people in this country voted to “take back control”, ministers want to place a big chunk of our energy system in the hands of foreign governments."

The full article can be read here.

Humanity driving 'unprecedented' marine extinction

From the Guardian - report comparing past mass extinction events warns that hunting and killing of ocean’s largest species will disrupt ecosystems for millions of years

"Humanity is driving an unprecedented extinction of sealife unlike any in the fossil record, hunting and killing larger species in a way that will disrupt ocean ecosystems for millions of years, scientists have found.

A new analysis of the five mass extinction events millions of years ago discovered there was either no pattern to which marine species were lost, or smaller species were the ones that disappeared.

But today’s “sixth extinction” is unique in the way that the largest species, such as great white sharks, blue whales and southern bluefin tuna, are being pushed to the brink, due to humans’ tendency to fish for larger species more often than smaller ones."

The full article can be read here.

Leaked documents reveal secretive influence of corporate cash on politics

From the Guardian - sealed Wisconsin court documents from Scott Walker investigation expose extent of corporate influence on democratic process rarely seen by the public

"The pervasive influence of corporate cash in the democratic process, and the extraordinary lengths to which politicians, lobbyists and even judges go to solicit money, are laid bare in sealed court documents leaked to the Guardian.

The John Doe files amount to 1,500 pages of largely unseen material gathered in evidence by prosecutors investigating alleged irregularities in political fundraising. Last year the Wisconsin supreme court ordered that all the documents should be destroyed, though a set survived that has now been obtained by the news organisation.

The files open a window on a world that is very rarely glimpsed by the public, in which millions of dollars are secretly donated by major corporations and super-wealthy individuals to third-party groups in an attempt to sway elections. They speak to a visceral theme of the 2016 presidential cycle: the distortion of American democracy by big business that has been slammed by both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders."

The full article can be read here.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Military experts say climate change poses 'significant risk' to security

From the Guardian - a coalition of 25 prominent members of US national security community warn that higher temperatures and rising seas will inundate bases and fuel conflict.

"A coalition of 25 military and national security experts, including former advisers to Ronald Reagan and George W Bush, has warned that climate change poses a “significant risk to US national security and international security” that requires more attention from the US federal government.

The prominent members of the US national security community warned that warming temperatures and rising seas will increasingly inundate military bases and fuel international conflict and mass migration, leading to “significant and direct risks to US military readiness, operations and strategy”.

In a report outlining climate risks, the group state: “The military has long had a tradition of parsing threats through a ‘Survive to Operate’ lens, meaning we cannot assume the best case scenario, but must prepare to be able to effectively operate even under attack. Dealing with climate risks to operational effectiveness must therefore be a core priority.”

The full article can be read here.

UK one of 'least natural countries in the world' with one in seven species facing extinction

From the Independent - 'The natural world is in serious trouble and it needs our help as never before,' Sir David Attenborough says

"The UK is now one of the “most nature-depleted countries in the world” with more than one in seven species facing extinction and more than half in decline, according to the State of Nature 2016 report.

Britain’s farmers are given most of the blame by the report, which was produced by more than 50 different organisations including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the National Trust, the Marine Conservation Society and the Natural History Museum.

It found modern agricultural techniques had had a major impact on wildlife over the last four decades – and it had been “overwhelmingly negative”.

The full article can be read here.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

August ties with July as hottest month on record

From the Guardian - August continued the remarkable streak of record hot months in 2016, equalling July as the hottest month on record.

"In what has become a common refrain this year, last month ranked as the hottest August on record, according to NASA data released Monday. Not only that, but the month tied July as the hottest month the world has seen in the last 136 years.

August came in at 1.76˚F (0.98˚C) above the average from 1951-1980, 0.16C above August 2014, the previous record holder. The record keeps 2016 on track to be the hottest year in the books by a fair margin.

That August continued the streak of record hot months this year and tied July as the hottest month was somewhat unexpected. The seasonal temperature cycle generally reaches a peak in July, as it did this year. But August was so anomalously warm — more so even than July — that it tied that month’s overall temperature."

The full article can be read here.

Brazil ratifies Paris agreement with pledge to sharply reduce emissions

From the Guardian - move by Latin America’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases is further boost to climate deal after ratification by US and China.

"The Brazilian government has ratified its participation in the Paris agreement on climate change, a significant step by Latin America’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases that could spur other countries to follow suit.

With a landmass larger than the continental US, Brazil emits about 2.5% of the world’s carbon dioxide and other polluting gases, according to United Nations data.

“Our government is concerned about the future,” said President Michel Temer during a signing ceremony in Brasilia. “Everything we do today is not aimed at tomorrow, but rather at a future that preserves the living conditions of Brazilians.”

Temer said Brazil’s ratification would be presented formally to the UN later this month."

The full article can be read here.

World's first large-scale tidal energy farm launches in Scotland

From the Guardian - MeyGen tidal stream project leads the way in tackling climate change and providing jobs, says Nicola Sturgeon

"The launch of the world’s first large-scale tidal energy farm in Scotland has been hailed as a significant moment for the renewable energy sector.

A turbine for the MeyGen tidal stream project in the Pentland Firth was unveiled outside Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.

After the ceremony, attended by Nicola Sturgeon, the turbine, measuring about 15 metres tall (49ft), with blades 16 metres in diameter, and weighing in at almost 200 tonnes, will begin its journey to the project’s site in the waters off the north coast of Scotland between Caithness and Orkney.

The turbine will be the first of four to be installed underwater, each with a capacity of 1.5 megawatts (MW), in the initial phase of the project.

But the Edinburgh-based developer Atlantis Resources hopes the project which has received £23m in Scottish government funding will eventually have 269 turbines, bringing its capacity to 398MW, which is enough electricity to power 175,000 homes."

The full article can be read here.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Why we should have fewer children: to save the planet

From The Guardian - the Earth’s ability to absorb greenhouse gases without violently disrupting the climate is finite, and each additional person contributes to the total amount.

"Earlier this summer, I found myself in the middle of a lively debate because of my work on climate change and the ethics of having children.

NPR correspondent Jennifer Ludden profiled some of my work in procreative ethics with an article entitled, “Should we be having kids in the age of climate change?,” which summarized my published views that we ought to consider adopting a “small family ethic” and even pursuing fertility reduction efforts in response to the threat from climate change. Although environmentalists for decades have worried about overpopulation for many good reasons, I suggest the fast-upcoming thresholds in climate change provide uniquely powerful reasons to consider taking real action to slow population growth.Clearly, this idea struck a nerve: I was overwhelmed by the response in my personal email inbox as well as op-eds in other media outlets and over 70,000 shares on Facebook. I am gratified that so many people took the time to read and reflect on the piece."

The full article can be read here.

Here’s What Would Happen if Hillary Clinton Dropped Out of Election Due to illness

From Law Newz:

"Now, it’s still purely speculation, but should a presidential candidate drop out, the Democratic National Committee has rules in place to handle the situation. Article 2, Section 7 of the DNC Bylaws says that if there is a vacancy on the national ticket, a special meeting of the Committee ” shall be held on the call of the Chairperson,” where they would choose a new candidate. Such meetings make decisions based on a majority of those in attendance.

But what about if she has to withdraw after the election takes place, but before she is sworn in? Well, if a candidate withdraws after the general election, but before the electoral college meets, federal law says that electors can vote for whomever they want, although states can pass their own laws on the matter.

However, should a candidate win the election, but become incapacitated prior to the inauguration, then Section 3 of the 20th Amendment kicks in, according to the Office of the Federal Register. The 20th Amendment says that in such a scenario, the Vice President-elect would become President."

Sunday, 11 September 2016


From YouTube:


According to this video - Hilary Clinton's medical incident might be more serious than is being reported.

Hillary Clinton leaves 9/11 ceremony after 'feeling overheated'

From the Guardian - Democratic nominee ‘feeling much better’ after leaving Ground Zero site.

"Hillary Clinton left the 9/11 memorial ceremony in downtown Manhattan early on Sunday because she “felt overheated”, a campaign spokesperson said.

“Secretary Clinton attended the September 11th Commemoration Ceremony for just an hour and 30 minutes this morning to pay her respects and greet some of the families of the fallen,” spokesman Nick Merrill said in a statement, later versions of which omitted the word “just”.

“During the ceremony, she felt overheated so departed to go to her daughter’s apartment, and is feeling much better.”

The temperature in New York City on Sunday morning was in the low 80sF, around 28C, with humidity of around 46%. Clinton, like most official attendees at the memorial ceremonies, including the Republican nominee Donald Trump, wore a formal suit."

9/11 tapes reveal raw and emotional Hillary Clinton

From the Guardian - we partnered with WNYC to look back at Clinton’s time at Ground Zero – a far cry from the controlled figure now a step away from the presidency.

"It was 26 August 2003, almost two years since 9/11, and the sickening plume of smoke that hung over Ground Zero in lower Manhattan had long since dissipated. But steam was rising from the steps of city hall, three blocks away, where Hillary Clinton was venting her rage at the Bush administration for having lied to the American people.

“I don’t think any of us expected that our government would knowingly deceive us about something as sacred as the air we breathe,” she said, her voice tightening in anger. “The air that our children breathe in schools, that our valiant first responders were facing on the pile.”

Surrounded by firefighters and the doctors who were treating them for respiratory and other illnesses incurred when they worked on the massive mound of Ground Zero rubble – the “pile”, as it was known – the junior senator from New York was incandescent. Audiotape recorded at the time by WNYC, the city’s public radio affiliate, captures a Clinton quite unlike the controlled public figure who is now a step away from the White House."

The full article can be read here.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

The new robber barons: MARGARET HODGE on how Starbucks, Amazon and Goldman Sachs are ripping billions off British taxpayers... while OUR civil servants and tax chiefs are helping them

From the Mail:

"Few subjects have angered the British public more than the amoral way banks and multi-national corporations have got away with not paying their share of tax. While hard-working people and UK businesses have paid their dues, some of the world’s biggest companies have avoided doing so at a cost of tens of billions of pounds to the UK Exchequer.

It is a situation that appals veteran Labour politician Dame Margaret Hodge, former chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee which is charged with ensuring British taxpayers get a fair deal. In defiance of ministers, Whitehall mandarins and vested interests at Westminster, she spent her five years in the role trying to call some of the world’s biggest companies to account.

Now, for the first time, she has written a book detailing the inside story of her dogged battle to force firms to come clean about aggressive tax avoidance. It is a story that lays bare the extraordinary lengths they go to in order to keep their cash out of the public coffers — aided by civil servants and senior tax office officials . . ."

The full article can be read here.

US government blocks construction of Dakota Access pipeline bordering tribal reservation

From the Independent - the US government's decision came despite a court ruling against the campaigners.

"Native American campaigners appeared to have scored a major victory after the US government said it would not grant permission for a controversial oil pipeline to be built near tribal land.

A judge on Friday had denied the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s attempt to halt the construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline near its North Dakota reservation. However, three federal agencies asked the pipeline company to “voluntarily pause” work on a section that tribal officials say holds sacred sites and artefacts.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, whose cause drew thousands to a protest site in North Dakota, had challenged the Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to grant permits at more than 200 water crossings for Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners’ $3.8bn pipeline, saying that the project violated several federal laws, including the National Historic Preservation Act, and will harm water supplies. The tribe also says ancient sacred sites have been disturbed during construction."

The full article can be read here.

Judge denies tribe's request to stop North Dakota oil pipeline construction

From the Guardian - the $3.8bn project has been opposed by Native Americans and supporters who say pipeline threatens water supply and risks destroying cultural heritage.

"A federal judge has denied an attempt to halt construction of a controversial $3.8bn oil pipeline that has been fiercely opposed by a Native American tribe that claims the project threatens its water supply and risks destroying cultural heritage.

Judge James Boasberg of the US district court ruled that the US Army Corps of Engineers “likely complied” with National Historic Preservation Act by permitting the 1,170-mile Dakota Access pipeline, which will take oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

In rejecting a request by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe to halt construction of the pipeline, Boasberg wrote: “This court does not lightly countenance any depredation of lands that hold significance to the Standing Rock Sioux.

“Aware of the indignities visited upon the tribe over the last centuries, the court scrutinizes the permitting process here with particular care. Having done so, the court must nonetheless conclude that the tribe has not demonstrated that an injunction is warranted here.”

Friday, 9 September 2016

Was 9/11 an inside job? Call for TRUTH over Building 7 collapse on eve of 15th anniversary

From the Express - it happened 15 years ago on Sunday, but growing numbers of people STILL claim the Twin Towers atrocities could have been an inside job.

"The shocking accusation, that the west was involved in plotting, organising, and even carrying out the 9/11 terror atrocities to provide the grounds for the military strikes on the so-called Axis of Evil, remains one of the world's biggest conspiracy theories.

On September 11 2001, the world witnessed the Twin Towers being hit by planes, but some extreme conspiracy theorists claim planted bombs brought them down.

While many of the theories are bizarre, one longstanding view is the towers would not have collapsed in the way they did if they were hit by aircraft.

Some claim there must have been a "controlled detonation" at ground level for the Twin Towers to fall in on themselves as they did.

One key part of their argument is the collapse of a third smaller tower, called Building 7, at the World Trade Centre complex, several hours after the huge skyscrapers fell."

The full article can be read here.

The oceans are heating up. That's a big problem on a blue planet

From the Guardian - an increase in water temperatures is having a profound effect that, with hidden stores of frozen methane thawing out, will soon start to feed on itself.

"So, just as a refresher, it’s always good to remember that we live on an ocean planet. Most of the Earth’s surface is salt water, studded with the large islands we call continents.

It’s worth recalling this small fact – which can slip our minds, since we humans congregate on the patches of dry ground – because new data shows just how profoundly we’re messing with those seven seas. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has published an extensive study concluding that the runaway heating of the oceans is “the greatest hidden challenge of our generation”.

When we think about global warming, we usually fixate on the air temperature. Which is spiking sharply – July was the hottest month ever measured on our planet. But as the new study points out, 90% of the extra heat that our greenhouse gases trap is actually absorbed by the oceans. That means that the upper few meters of the sea have been steadily warming more than a tenth of a degree celsius per decade, a figure that’s accelerating. When you think of the volume of water that represents, and then try to imagine the energy necessary to raise its temperature, you get an idea of the blowtorch that our civilization has become."

"Alas, we also have a fossil fuel industry, which has managed to prevent any real action for decades – it has lied, it has lobbied and it has poured uncountable largesse on our political class. (And on other elites: somewhat unbelievably, BP is currently sponsoring an exhibition on the relics of “Sunken Cities” at the British Museum.) As a result, we have disappearing ice caps, crackling forest fires and record rainfalls."

Britain will miss its renewable energy targets without 'urgent' action, say MPs

From the Independent - they warn that it could undermine the UK's reputation for climate change leadership.

"On its current course Britain is set to miss its 2020 renewable energy targets, an influential committee of MPs has warned.

A report from the group said that without major policy improvements, missing the target to provide 15 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources was certain.

It went on to call for “urgent” action to renew a push towards decarbonisation, as one expert who gave evidence to the inquiry said it should “ring alarm bells for the Government”.

The report comes amid pressure on the UK to ratify the Paris climate change deal, following the example of the US and China.

Chair of the Energy and Climate Change Committee Angus MacNeil MP said: “The experts we spoke to were clear – the UK will miss its 2020 renewable energy targets without major policy improvements."

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Panama Papers: Denmark buys leaked data to use in tax evasion inquiries

From the Guardian - Denmark pays up to £1m for documents from anonymous source and plans to investigate up to 600 Danes who may have evaded tax.

"Denmark has become the first country in the world to apparently buy data from the Panama Papers leak, and now plans to investigate whether 500-600 Danes who feature in the offshore archive may have evaded tax.

Denmark’s tax minister, Karsten Lauritzen, said he will pay up to DKK9m (£1m) for the information, which comes from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. He said an anonymous source approached the Danish government over the summer.

The source sent over an initial sample of documents and the government reviewed them. After concluding they were genuine, it secretly negotiated support for the controversial deal from political parties in parliament, the minister said.

“Everything suggests that it is useful information. We owe it to all Danish taxpayers who faithfully pay their taxes,” Lauritzen said, admitting that he had originally been “very wary”. He added: “The material contains relevant and valid information about several hundred Danish taxpayers.”

HMRC is in thrall to big business. It can no longer do its job

From the Guardian - the tax collection agency is no longer able to serve the public and enforce the law. But Labour can get it back on track.

"Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is no longer fit for purpose. A lack of resources and its closeness to big business mean it is unable to maximise tax revenues, provide a good service to taxpayers or adequately enforce tax laws – its fundamental requirements. Deep reforms are needed to make it fit for the 21st century.

A lack of resources has thwarted HMRC. In 2005 it had a budget of £4.4bncompared with £3.2bn in 2015-16. In 2004, it had a staff of 100,000, which declined to 60,000 by March this year, and there are plans to reduce staff to below 50,000, and possibly as low as 41,000, by the early 2020s. Local tax offices are being replaced by call centres, and IT systems have failed to deliver. Over 25% of calls from taxpayers go either unanswered or get a busy tone. Yet every £1 cut from its telephone services results in an estimated £4 in additional costs to taxpayers. This has fuelled dissatisfaction with the quality of service provided by HMRC.

A resource-starved HMRC can only investigate about 35 wealthy individuals a year for tax evasion. There have been only 13 offshore-specific prosecutions since 2009. It has 81 specialists to investigate transfer pricing practices – a major tool for tax avoidance by multinational corporations. Investigating just one multinational company can take 10-30 staff up to 22 months, leaving precious little resources for anything else.

Despite parliamentary hearings on the tax practices of Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and Starbucks, there is a dearth of legal test cases involving large companies. There is a temptation to let the lying dogs sleep. A good example of this is the information provided by whistleblower Hervé Falciani, which showed that HSBC’s Swiss operations might have helped wealthy people to dodge taxes. Only one individual from the Falciani list of some 3,600 potential UK tax evaders has been prosecuted. In January, HMRC quietly abandoned its investigation."

The full article can be read here.

Why Labour is putting energy reform at the heart of its green agenda

Jeremy Corbyn in the Guardian - no issue better connects the environment to people’s lives than energy. In order to deliver clean, affordable electricity we need to change our undemocratic system of supply.

We are on course for a climate catastrophe. 2016 is set to be the hottest year on record. Unless the Paris agreement’s target of limiting the rise in temperatures by 1.5C is met, heatwaves like that in 2003, which killed tens of thousands of people in Europe, will become the norm. And that is before considering rising sea levels and desertification that will sink cities, and kill and displace millions, or the fact that the Earth has already lost half its wildlife in the past 40 years.

The task for politicians is to propose real solutions to the single most important issue facing humanity. Too often, the environment is considered a matter for scientists, enthusiasts and activists. To increase public understanding and energise the political debate, we need more than facts – we need a programme that resonates with people’s everyday experiences, offering not just warnings but opportunities and improvement.

No issue better connects the environment to people’s lives than energy. In Britain today, seven million households struggle to pay their bills because of spiralling costs, while the big six energy companies have seen their profits rise by more than tenfold since 2007. The energy market is not just expensive, inefficient and polluting – it is, above all, undemocratic.

In order to deliver clean, affordable heating and electricity we need to change the whole system of energy supply. When energy is driven by the needs of people, it will be greener – because saving the planet is in the interests of everyone.

That is why I am today announcing a bold new set of policies which will pioneer a democratic, community-led system of energy supply. Over the course of the next parliament, we will use public investment and legislation to promote the creation of over 200 local energy companies, giving towns, cities and localities the powers they need to drive a clean, locally accountable energy system with public, not-for-profit companies.

The full article can be read here.

Note: With the very welcome agreement by the US and China to ratify the IPCC's Paris Agreement - which does include limiting global temperatures to 1.5C or at worst 2C above pre-industrial temperatures - and now with the leader of the opposition  in the UK recognising that climate change 'is the single most important issue facing humanity' - the chances of global warming being acted on globally and in the UK, through significantly reducing the burning of fossil fuels - has improved immensely within a single week.

No doubt there will be more issues to be overcome as the powerful fossil fuel corporations fight to keep their share of the energy market - but there does now seem to be hope where there appeared none. We must wait to see how matters progress.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Warming of oceans could be humanity's 'greatest hidden challenge', report warns

From the Independent - UK expert Sir David King says we are at 'a critical turning point in our development'

"The warming of the oceans may become the “greatest hidden challenge” of our generation, a major new report has warned.

The 456-page document, published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), describes the effects of the huge amount of energy that has been absorbed by the sea in recent decades.

The scale of the changes is potentially huge affecting marine life from viruses, bacteria and plankton, fish and seabirds to the climate, weather and human health.

A vast amount of heat and carbon dioxide has been absorbed from the atmosphere by the oceans and there are fears of devastating consequences for the marine ecosystem – and, in particular a decline in fish stocks at a time when the world’s population is growing dramatically."

The full article can be read here.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Storm Hermine's damage fueled by global warming, scientists say

From the Guardian - forecasters say storm is expected to stall off the coast of New Jersey and other parts of the north-east as governors declared states of emergency.

"Storm surges pushed by Hermine, the hurricane-turned tropical storm that on Sunday was moving up the US eastern seaboard, could be even more damaging than previous such surges because sea levels have risen by a foot due to global warming, climate scientists said.

Michael Mann of the Pennsylvania State University noted that the one-foot sea-level rise in New York City over the last century meant 25 more square miles flooded during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, causing billions more in damage.

“We are already experiencing more and more flooding due to climate change in every storm,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a geosciences professor at Princeton University. “And it’s only the beginning.”

I’m sorry if rewilding hurts farmers, but we need it

From the Guardian - the National Trust’s purchase of Thorneythwaite sheep farm is part of a plan to reshape the landscape to meet the threat of global warming.

"Apart from crags and pockets of ancient woodland, the British uplands are manmade. Three thousand years before Christ, neolithic farmers felled the trees and gave us a landscape stripped to grassland by grazing sheep we take as “natural” today. Two thousand years after Christ, new forces are moulding the British uplands. They will bring back at least a part of what stone age men destroyed."

"The most telling point about the trust’s intervention is that it did not buy the Thorneythwaite farmhouse. Rather, it wanted to transform the hills sheep have stripped of all except a few pockets of woodland. The trust will replace the monoculture with “healthy soil, natural water management and thriving natural habitats”. Following a succession of floods, the trust will also “explore” whether tree planning can “slow the flow of the upper river Derwent” and help prevent flooding downstream in Keswick and Cockermouth."