Overgrazing is a major cause of the horror in Syria

“In 1958, the vast semi-arid to arid Syrian steppe was made into a free access (unrestricted) commons by the Syrian national government. This overturned the sustainable type of grazing practiced by the Bedouins for centuries. The tribes and clans of the steppe had developed systems of limiting exploitation of the steppe beyond the grazing that would be sustainable. They even had large rest and restoration areas set by tribal custom and decision.

“Turning the whole thing into a commons led exactly to what we should expect, “the tragedy of the commons.” After almost 50 years of this degradation came the 2006–10 drought. Then came the collapse of the economy and great destabilization of society in the rural interior. The rebellion against the Syrian government had its origins there” From: www.thewildlifenews.com

GR:  Grazing mismanagement of Earth’s arid lands has eroded the soil, introduced invasive weeds, reduced productivity, and reduced biodiversity in a process known as desertification.  Add climate change droughts and floods exacerbated by climate change, and it is no surprise that people are unhappy.

Consume more, conserve more: sorry, but we just can’t do both | George Monbiot

“Governments urge us both to consume more and to conserve more. We must extract more fossil fuel from the ground, but burn less of it. We should reduce, reuse and recycle the stuff that enters our homes, and at the same time increase, discard and replace it. How else can the consumer economy grow? We should eat less meat to protect the living planet, and eat more meat to boost the farming industry. These policies are irreconcilable. The new analyses suggest that economic growth is the problem, regardless of whether the word sustainable is bolted to the front of it.

“It’s not just that we don’t address this contradiction; scarcely anyone dares even name it. It’s as if the issue is too big, too frightening to contemplate. We seem unable to face the fact that our utopia is also our dystopia; that production appears to be indistinguishable from destruction.”  From: www.theguardian.com

GR:  In Arizona, the government asks us to conserve water while, at the same time, the government invites more people and businesses to move here.  Perhaps we should begin awarding huge cash prizes for promoting zero growth.

For T-Day: Save Yourself from the Digital Zombie Apocalypse

“Kids should be outside for an hour or two every day between school and dinner. That doesn’t mean parents have to drive them someplace. Unorganized playtime is fine. Give them the freedom to find their own games and make up their own rules. Teachers should make a point of giving regular homework assignments in the real world: Describe five trees where you live. Follow a squirrel for 45 minutes, and take field notes on what it’s doing. Count how many birds you can find on your street.

“The rest of us need to walk away at regular intervals (and especially at dinner time) from our alluring but soul-sucking lives online. According to a Nielsen report release earlier this year, Americans over 18 average 11 hours a day on electronic media. Given that most of us are awake 16 or 17 hours a day and presumably spend part of our waking hours in school or at work, adults are not providing a great example. Think of it as an addiction because that’s exactly what your Internet suppliers have designed it to be. Facebook, Twitter, and the rest mean to keep us compulsively clicking, in the words of Nir Eyal, web consultant and author of the book Hooked: How to Build Habit-forming Products, so we end up doing so “over and over, in the same basic cycle. Forever and ever.”  More at: strangebehaviors.wordpress.com

GR:  Excellent family advice.  Essential appreciation of nature will not come from screens.  Information might, but the reasons for applying the information come from outdoor experiences. One might add that if your neighborhood isn’t safe enough for children to be out doors, you are in the wrong place to raise a family.

Toxic Interests: In Lead-up to Paris Summit, Conservative Politicians Around the World are Fighting to Kill Renewable Energy

“US Solar energy adoption rates continued to soar in 2015, jumping to 40 percent of all new installed energy capacity for the first half of the year. These great gains have occurred despite broad based assaults on public policies supporting the rapid adoption of this critical renewable energy source. Image source: US Solar Market Summary.”  From: robertscribbler.com

GR:  This is an excellent review of critical national programs under attack by energy-industry conservatives.  Recommended.

Humankind’s Last Days Below 400 PPM CO2?

“By mid November of 2015, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels as measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory had again risen above 400 parts per million. Over the past two weeks, these levels maintained. And even though we may see a few days during which CO2 levels drop below that key threshold during late November and, perhaps, early December, those days could well be the last.”  From: robertscribbler.com

GR:  What does 400 parts per million mean for the Earth?  From the article:  “Atmospheric CO2 levels remaining at 400 parts per million for any significant period will push the Earth climate to warm by between 2 and 3 degrees Celsius. It will push for sea levels to rise by at least 75 feet. In other words, a world at 400 parts per million is a world radically changed. A world that human beings have never seen before. And as a cautionary note, the total forcing from all greenhouse gasses currently emitted by humans is now in the range of 485 parts per million of CO2 equivalent. A level well beyond the current 400 parts per million threshold and one that likely equates to around 4 degrees Celsius worth of long term warming.”

Two-faced Exxon: the misinformation campaign against its own scientists

“It appears that the only difference between the behavior of Exxon and the tobacco industry is that cigarette companies didn’t publish their research linking smoking and adverse health effects. Exxon’s scientists have published research in scientific journals on the human causes and dangers of global warming. However, in both cases, the industries funded an extensive multi-pronged campaign to misinform the public about the expert scientific consensus and the dangers associated with their products.

“It remains to be seen whether the investigations into the actions of Exxon and the rest of the fossil fuel industry will yield the same results as the investigations into the tobacco industry racketeering.”  From: www.theguardian.com

Billions worth of EU imports linked to illegal deforestation | The Parliament Magazine

“According to Fern’s report, “the EU is one of the largest importers of products resulting from illegal deforestation [and in] 2012 imported €6bn of soy, beef, leather and palm oil which were grown or reared on land illegally cleared of forests in the tropics – almost a quarter of the total world trade”.

“To get a better idea of what this represents, the document says that “one football pitch of forest was illegally felled every two minutes in the period 2000-12 in order to supply the EU with these commodities”.

“While it is easy to spot products containing beef or soy, the same cannot be said for palm oil, which according to the world wildlife foundation can be found in lipstick, chocolate, shampoo and pizza dough, among others.

“In Brazil, it was found that “90 per cent of the deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon during 2000-09 was illegal”.  From: www.theparliamentmagazine.eu

GR:  The connection is not that complicated.  Throughout the world, rising demand drives supply.

Can the planet handle China’s new two-child policy?

“China has a knack for world-changing policy shifts, whether it’s devaluing its currency, launching a national carbon cap-and-trade system or, most recently, changing its decades-old restriction on how many children its citizens can have.
“The country’s decision to ease its one-child decree has raised some serious questions about sustainability. Right now, China consumes about half the cement, steel, aluminum and pork produced in the world. If it allows its citizens to have more children – and presumably use more resources – what will that mean for humanity’s collective wellbeing and its pressing quest for sustainability?”  www.theguardian.com

GR:  We can’t afford China’s one-child policy.  So….

Are mini-nuclear reactors the answer to the climate change crisis?

“Mini nuclear power plants could be trucked into a town near you to provide your hot water, or shipped to any country that wants to plug them into their electricity grid from the dock. That is the aim of those developing “small modular reactors” and, from the US to China to Poland, they want the UK to be at the centre of the nascent industry. The UK government says it is “fully enthused” about the technology.”

“With UN climate change summit in Paris imminent, the question of how to keep the lights on affordably, while cutting emissions, is pressing.”  www.theguardian.com

GR:  Nuclear energy is dangerous and it produces wastes that remain deadly for tens of thousands of years.  This article is propaganda coming from investors interests who want to centralize energy production and keep distributed systems such as “rooftop solar” out of the hands of consumers.  You can’t get wealthy with a resource that is free and unlimited.

Subsidies for Deforestation-driving Commodities Dwarf Conservation Finance New Report – Ecosystem Marketplace

“Agricultural subsidies worth at least $486 billion per year dwarf the $8.7 billion total committed to avoiding deforestation in tropical countries, a new working paper by the Overseas Development Institute finds.”  www.ecosystemmarketplace.com

GR:  Eight billion of the $486 billiion was probably spent on countering efforts to stop deforestation.