threegenerationsleft

human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Democracy or Extinction?

This is the title of a a far-reaching report by Media Lens on 22nd January 2019.

http://medialens.org/index.php?option=com_acymailing&ctrl=archive&task=view&mailid=526&key=cb930d676da384e7d00dda36308dd202&subid=9459-27247f5ad5910317f882bc7ac4e817e1&tmpl=component

Here is an extract:

“What will it take for governments to take real action on climate? When will they declare an emergency and do what needs to be done? How much concerted, peaceful public action will be required to disrupt the current economic and political system that is driving humanity to the brink of extinction?

Meanwhile, climate records continue to tumble. 2018 was the hottest for the world’s oceans since records began in the 1950s, continuing a deeply worrying trend. Moreover, the last five years were the five hottest. The consequences are likely to be catastrophic. The oceans are crucial to the Earth’s climate; they absorb more than 90 per cent of the heating generated by greenhouse gases. Yet another sign of serious climate disruption is revealed with seemingly no impact on the juggernaut of economic ‘growth’ and government decision-making.

John Abraham, one of the authors of the new scientific study on this alarming rise in ocean temperatures, said:

‘We scientists sound like a broken record. Every year we present the science and plead for action. Not nearly enough is being done. We can still tackle climate change, but we must act immediately. We have the means to make a difference, we lack only the will.’

It is, of course, heartening to see scientists finally being this outspoken. But it is not accurate to keep repeating the mantra, as many well-intentioned people do, that ‘we’ lack ‘the will’. Who is the ‘we’ here? Big business, powerful financial interests and corporate lobbies have fought tooth and nail to oppose any substantive action. They have battled hard over decades to obscure, rubbish and downplay the science – with huge sums devoted to disinformation campaigns – and to bend government policy in their favour.

US environmentalist Bill McKibben recently observed of the fossil fuel lobby that:

‘The coalition ha[s] used its power to slow us down precisely at the moment when we needed to speed up. As a result, the particular politics of one country for one half-century will have changed the geological history of the earth.’

One could argue that there is a lack of public will to expose and counter corporate power in collusion with nation states; that there needs to be a grassroots revolution to overturn this destructive system of rampant global capitalism. Perhaps there needs to be a revolution in human consciousness; an increased awareness of what it is to be fully human that respects ourselves, other species and the planet itself. Most likely, all of the above. If so, it is vital to say and do much more than merely say, ‘we lack only the will’.

Take the ad-dependent, establishment-preserving, Corbyn-hating Guardian. It obfuscated along similar lines in an editorial sparked by the record-breaking ocean temperatures. Global warming, the editors said:

‘can still be tackled if we act immediately; this is a test of will, not ability.’

But where is the Guardian’s systemic analysis of root causes of climate chaos and what needs to be done about it? The Polish revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, who was murdered by right-wing paramilitary forces one hundred years ago this month, warned that global capitalism would lead to environmental destruction. This is not a defect of capitalism, she argued, but an inherent feature of a system that is rooted in brutality, gaping inequality and the unsustainable extraction of natural resources.

In her discussion of Luxemburg’s legacy, Ana Cecilia Dinerstein, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Bath, noted:

‘This is evident in the recent decision of Brazil’s new far-right president, Bolsonaro, to “integrate the Amazon region into the Brazilian economy”. This would expand the authority and reach of powerful agribusiness corporations into the Amazon Rainforest – threatening the rights and livelihoods of indigenous people and the ecosystems their lives are entwined with.’

This destruction of indigenous peoples and ecosystems has been inflicted on the continent since Columbus ‘discovered’ America in1492. Globally, the process intensified during the Industrial Revolution and, in more recent decades, with the rise of destructive ‘neoliberal’ economic policies pursued with ideological fervour by Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and later acolytes. No wonder that Luxemburg saw a stark choice between ‘socialism or barbarism’. Today, the choice is most likely ‘socialism or extinction‘.

To any reader unsettled by the scare word ‘socialism’, simply replace it with ‘democracy’: a genuinely inclusive system where the general population has proper input and control, and does not simply have its wishes overridden by a tiny elite that enriches itself at our, and the planet’s, expense.”


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The Truth about Heatwaves: 2

In the first of my blogs about heatwaves, I focused on the heatwaves that are occurring on land more and more often and the effects these are having on terrestrial life forms, including humans.

In this blog, I will describe the effects of heatwaves on the oceans, which have doubled in the last 30 years. Up till now, perhaps we have been unaware that heatwaves do affect the oceans and the life that in them. In other blogs, and in my book, I have talked about the destruction of coral as the seas warm, causing coral bleaching.  It is also known that, after the 2016 heatwave in Australia, one third of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef died.  Many of the beautiful fish who live in coral reefs, and are dependent on them, will be affected by the death of corals.

2_3_X_PacificReefFishesExh (2)

Fish in a coral reef

In yet another blog, I have referred to how global warming is affecting the gender of sea turtle eggs, developing in the hot sands where they have been laid, so that now the majority (99%) of the hatchlings born in Northern Australia are female.

Swiss scientists have been recording sea water temperatures over the period 1982-2016 and have found that the number of ocean heatwaves has doubled.  Marine heatwaves can last for several days, and even weeks, as water absorbs heat more readily than air and releases it more slowly.  Dr Thomas Frölicher, of the University of Bern in Switzerland, is the climate scientist who has conducted this study. He believes that the trend of increasing ocean heatwaves will only accelerate with time. Prolonged periods of extreme heat in the oceans can damage kelp forests as well as coral reefs, and harm fish and other marine life. Some sea creatures have evolved to survive in a very narrow band of temperatures compared to creatures on land.  Some free swimming fish can move to other places when the sea becomes too hot for them but, with fixed organisms like coral and kelp forests, there is no opportunity to move.

kelpforest

Kelp forest

If the plankton in the sea, as well as kelp forests, are affected by warming temperatures, many marine creatures will lose their main source of food.

Further details of the study, published in Nature, can be found on the following websites:

https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/heatwaves-in-the-ocean-have-doubled-in-the-last-30-years_uk_5b75529fe4b02b415d75cf93

http://www.itv.com/news/2018-08-15/marine-heatwaves-on-the-increase-in-worlds-oceans/