Experts respond to Trump’s climate blitzkrieg | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

GR: Of course, Trump and his band of nature trolls will ignore the experts. Nevertheless, the thoughts of each one are worth reporting. And remember, global warming is one of the reasons that the doomsday clock is at two and a half minutes to midnight.

“President Donald Trump’s March 28 Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth is but the latest in a series of rollbacks intended to dismantle the Obama administration’s climate change policies. Although Trump never uttered the words “climate change” during the signing ceremony, his order will have profound effects on programs and environmental protections intended to rein in global warming—primarily by reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

“Among other things, Trump’s order lifts a moratorium on coal leasing on federal lands, removes restrictions on fracking on federal and tribal lands, directs the Environmental Protection Agency to rewrite the Clean Power Plan regulations designed to limit emissions from power plants, and eliminates the requirement that climate change be considered in federal environmental reviews and decision making. The White House claims that these moves will bring back jobs in coal mining and foster energy independence.

“The order does not entirely obliterate Obama’s climate legacy. The Clean Power Plan is not yet in effect, and will have to go through a lengthy rule-making process that will likely include legal challenges. Vehicle fuel-efficiency standards are still standing, although the White House says a rollback is coming soon. State mandates for renewable energy, along with other efforts aimed at reducing emissions, will continue. And the White House is thus far silent on whether the president intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

“Some critics say the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks are even worse than they expected, and that it will be impossible for the United States to achieve its Paris pledges without the programs and protections that are being cut. Others see a silver lining for the Paris Agreement: Maybe the failure of US leadership will clear the way for other nations to work toward a more ambitious shift away from fossil fuels.

“We asked leading experts on climate change to weigh in on what the Trump rollbacks mean for climate change, and for the Paris Agreement in particular. Here are their thoughts.Invited

“Expert Commentary” — Dawn Stover (Continue: Experts respond to Trump’s climate blitzkrieg | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The Fires of History Yet Rage — Climate Change and the Authoritarian Assault on Liberal Democracy

GR: Robert Scribbler writes about history and the forces prompting a downward spiral of modern civilization. He is writing about the greed and politics that I believe will lead to a collapse that is far greater than the regional falls over the past thousands of years. In western India, the Middle East, and north Africa, local societies destroyed their forests, soils, and water and then they faded away. The danger we are in now is not regional, it is global.

Critics called the 1972 book Limits to Growth, which predicted our civilisation would collapse this century, a doomsday fantasy. Back in 2002, self-styled environmental expert Bjorn Lomborg consigned it to the “dustbin of history.” It doesn’t belong there. Research from the University of Melbourne has found the book’s forecasts are accurate, 40 years on. If we continue to track in line with the book’s scenario, expect the early stages of global collapse to start appearing soon.
—-

Scribbler: “Some have said that history ended with the fall of Soviet Russia and the subsequent virtuous spread of liberal democracy. Now, with a fossil-fueled dictator at the Kremlin conducting information wars to topple western democracies and with the various and many-fanged monsters of climate change howling at the gates of a world besieged, that notion seems both ignorant and laughable.

“Pshaw — history ended? Clearly not.

(The glaciers and snows of the Himalayas are dwindling — just one of the obvious impacts of human-forced climate change. Video source: Google Earth Engine.)

“A good segment of the world now acts like their brains have been hacked. Bots and trolls masquerading as real people try to shout down valid out-crys for divestment-from and resistance-to worsening abuses. And Elon Musk has a point when he says we’re all cyborgs now.” –Robert Scribbler.

“But it is, perhaps, possible for us to sympathize with the now-faded false comfort of our brief fantasy that abusive powers were defeated — never to rise again. For, in 1989, the difficulties were seemingly more remote — walled off in perceived blocks of East vs West, segmented by large, set-piece armies and mostly impermeable spheres of influence. With the collapse of one sphere — the side of totalitarianism and the authoritarian state — it seemed that the advance of liberal western democracy and with it justice, freedom, and equality was inevitable.

“Now, 28 years later, the trouble and chaos jumps right out at you through the screen of your computer, tablet, or smart phone. Authoritarianism splintered. But then its various shards metastasized, becoming smarter, more nimble, more in your face, and more linked to global monetary and information power centers. Meanwhile, the West, caught up in the illusions of conservative thought, failed to advance and was therefore unprepared when new threats inevitably emerged both from within and without (See how Trump’s actions boosted effectiveness of Russian information warfare against US).

(NASA shows Arctic rate of warming per decade through 2012. Putin hopes for an ice-free Arctic so he can drill for more oil. His assault on western democracy is also related to a climate change denial based attack on renewable energy. Image source: NASA.)

“You may today be cajoled — through the internet — by none other than oil billionaire, petrostate dictator, former KGB agent, democracy saboteur, and Trump-supporter Vladimir Putin who’d try to use his supposedly legendary charm (or the merciless intimidation of his online agents and surrogates) to convince you of the false notion that the climate is changing but humans aren’t the cause (see — Putin Defends Climate Deniers and Looks Forward to Arctic Melting). If you’re one of those strong-willed enough to wrench your mind from the grasp of a man and his army of 15,000 information warfare trolls spreading misinformation aimed at the advancement of his destructive wealth and power, you could use the same powerful tool to actually directly contact real scientists — who’d tell you that about 100 percent or more of present warming is now being caused by human beings. So you could then give Putin a very justified big, fat middle finger salute.

“And who knew that an honest man (or, in this case, seventeen honest women and men) would be so hard to come by in the age of mass and easy to access factual information?” –Robert Scribbler (Continue: The Fires of History Yet Rage — Climate Change and the Authoritarian Assault on Liberal Democracy | robertscribbler.)

Politics, Nature-Conservation, and Pipelines

Abandoning Fossil Fuels for Nature Conservation

GR: Fossil fuels are harmful during their extraction, delivery, refinement, and use. Alternative energy sources are available that are safer and offer tangible benefits for people. More employment opportunity is an example. It is imperative for the survival of nature, wildlife, and humanity that we close the door on the fossil-fuel industry and its disastrous impact. The first step is replacing all the kleptocrats who serve in our governments with progressive politicians able to resist the financial incentives for destroying the Earth. To do this with a balanced integration of human and nature concerns, we must form an alliance of progressive political parties and nature-conservation organizations.

Though the political alliance is the primary strategy, we can have some influence over our kleptocrats by showing them the strength of our numbers. Here’s a petition to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau that focuses on the delivery part of the fossil-fuel cycle.

Politics and Nature-Conservation Resources

“A ‘simple’ oil spill that released an estimated 550 litres of fuel off the northern coast of Vancouver Island has been deemed impossible to clean up. Neither skimmer vessels or sorbent materials can risk touching the environmentally rich affected area that a local First Nation relies on for food and income.

“The fact that there is no current technology that can recover the remaining oil is unacceptable and goes to show that even relatively small spills can be complicated and do great damage to environments and local economies. In this case, while some of the pollutants will evaporate others will remain in the area for much longer, continuing to degrade the the ecosystem and putting the First Nation’s livelihood and health at risk for years to come.

“We have been told that the government and petroleum companies know what they are doing and that they have the knowhow and technology to quickly and responsibly clean up any spills that may occur. Yet, time and time again when an accident happens we learn that they are utterly unprepared to deal with these disasters.” –Andrew (Continue: petition: Stop the Approval of Canadian Pipelines).

Political Platform for Nature-Conservation

Nature Conservation Platform

We must apply much more effort to conservation if we want to keep the benefits we derive from natural ecosystems. We need leaders that can promote activities that improve living conditions and guarantee long-term benefits from nature.

Children playing outdoors.

Children playing outdoors.

Political platforms usually emphasize human social and economic equality. The Justice Democrats platform is an example that lays out a set of goals for leaders focused on human society. It includes climate change. Here are the nature-conservation goals I recommend we add to political platforms.

I’ve listed subjects and actions in rough order of priority. I don’t think the first items are more important than the ones that follow. They are first because the emergency conditions we’ve created require that we act on them immediately.

  1. Global warming. Make an immediate switch to renewable energy. This is part of the Justice Democrats platform, but the best statement is in the Our Revolution platform. I’m repeating the item because it deserves emphasis (climate-change*).
  2. Population. Make knowledge and technology for family planning free or inexpensive worldwide (population).
  3. Habitat Loss. Stop ecosystem destruction resulting from these human activities: construction, farming, spreading invasive species, mining, releasing toxic wastes, and water diversion (construction, farming, invasive species, mining, pollution, water).
  4. Sustainability. End fishing, grazing, and logging harvests that take more than natural processes produce (deforestation, desertification, fishing, forestry, hunting, livestock grazing, logging, soil erosion).
  5. Equality. Respect the right of sentient beings to live wild and free according to their natural instincts (animal cruelty, animal rights, sentient beings, wildlife)
  6. Restore. Restore and set aside half the Earth’s lands and seas for wild plants and animals (ecological restoration, half for nature).
    *Search terms for information and discussions on this website. The most recent search results will appear at the top of the list.
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Destroying the land for material that will destroy the air.

Conservationists, land managers, wildlife biologists, and educators will see nothing new here. We have years of observations, research, and experimentation on each of these topics. It is time to start full-scale application of what we’ve learned. For this, we need dedicated leaders that understand the value of watersheds, soils, pollinators, and ecosystems. We need leaders who recognize that we are in the midst of both a climate and an extinction crisis. We need leaders who are convinced that humanity cannot survive without healthy ecosystems.

Conditions are in flux. I would be delighted to have your suggestions and questions.  Thanks.

Politics, Leadership, and Responsible Nature Conservation

Responsible Elected Leaders

Barn Owl (Tyto alba) Barn Owls are the most widely distributed of all owl species. They hunt small rodents, and never take anything as large as a house cat or dog. Barn Owls range from 10″ to 18″ in height. They can live for 25 years, but because of human impacts and natural predators, they rarely live more than two. If you have a Barn Owl living nearby, you have probably heard its “shreee” sound that’s nothing like the hoots of the Great Horned Owls or the toots of the Northern Pygmy Owls that we often hear in Dewey-Humboldt.   Nest:  Large tree cavity, barn loft, or house attic. Farmers often place nest boxes around their fields. Conservation:  Cats and other owls prey upon barn Owls, and pesticides in the tissues of their prey poison them. Some farmers have stopped using pesticides, but most haven’t. The owls are endangered in seven stats, but not yet in Arizona. (Birds of Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona. GarryRogers.com. Photo: Female by Tony Hisgett).

Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
Barn Owls are the most widely distributed of all owl species. Photo: Female by Tony Hisgett).

Our political leaders can protect nature or they can let it continue deteriorating. More than ever, it is critical that we use our votes to choose leaders willing to accept responsibility for nature. In this post, I’ve included a few important political resources and a short discussion of leadership.

Political Resources:

What Our Political Leaders Believe

In last night’s address to the U. S. congress, President Donald Trump did not mention nature conservation. He did not mention global warming, plant and animal extinctions, or general environmental deterioration. The sad truth is that his disregard of these issues is typical of most of our national and local elected leaders.

Like you, I’ve listened to several discussions of Trump’s speech. My favorite for its insight and value was by Bernie Sanders.

Our leaders tend to focus on issues they proclaim as most important to us citizens. They talk about jobs, taxes, health, education, and security, and they sometimes mention personal liberty and foreign affairs. Of course, these are important issues. However, I believe our leaders intentionally avoid mentioning personal honor, social responsibility, and nature conservation because these topics conflict with their personal goals. I think they fear that discussions that might reveal their personal goals would be both embarrassing and lethal for their political careers.

Scientists studying climatology, soils, forests, and wildlife, warn that we humans have created an emergency that we must treat with the same urgency that we would treat an attack by a foreign power. Why would the president, his advisors, and our elected leadership ignore such a warning?

First, I guess that our leaders have not studied natural sciences, and second, I think that the opportunity to use their positions for financial gain quickly overpowers the altruism they might have felt when they decided to enter politics. Some of our leaders, Sanders is a good example, do seek scientific explanations and advice and they do resist the financial temptations. Most do neither. Our elected representatives receive financial incentives directly and indirectly from for-profit businesses that are locked into a profits-first philosophy.

A small proportion of our elected leaders retain their ideals and attempt to meet the responsibilities of government for the people. Their public comments and their votes on legislation clearly show their concern for long-term quality of the natural environment upon which our survival depends. This post helps insure that we have ready access to our elected leaders’ record on environmental issues. The reason is simple: We must not vote for leaders that have low scores on environmental issues. For those leaders, we must seek replacements that promise to include nature in their legislative concerns.

United States Capitol Building, Washington, D.C. Aerial. The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the Federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall.

United States Capitol Building, Washington, D.C. Aerial. The United States Capitol is the meeting place of the United States Congress, the legislature of the Federal government of the United States. Located in Washington, D.C., it sits atop Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall. It is flanked by the Supreme Court (left) and Library of Congress (right). Photo by Carol M. Highsmith.

The League of Conservation Voters website reports how our Senators and Representatives in Washington vote on legislation involving nature. The website presents voting records as scores for each legislators ‘score’ (the percentage of votes for nature legislation). You can sort the ‘All Member of Congress Scores’ table by Senate, House, name, party, district, year score, and lifetime score. There are clear explanations of how nature legislation is chosen and how legislator’s scores are calculated.

Should you join one of the current political movements?

There are political movements that intend to replace our congressional leaders with more altruistic and responsible representatives. Why not join one of them? I looked at three of the leading movements (Justice Democrats, Our Revolution, and Brand New Congress), and concluded that none of them shows much concern for nature.

The Justice Democrats’ platform includes renewable energy as a source of great economic benefit, but it mentions none of the other nature-conservation issues. The Our Revolution platform includes more on climate change, but none of the other issues. The Brand New Congress platform mentions renewable energy as the means for “creating tens of millions of good high-tech jobs and saving people many trillions of dollars – because energy from the wind and sun is much cheaper in the long run.” The platform includes no other nature conservation issues.

I made a brief suggestion to the Justice Democrats for a more nature-inclusive platform statement. The email response assured me that top minds were working on the platform and that I need not be concerned. It’s been a month now, however, and the platform has not changed.

If you watch Bernie Sanders’ video above, you will hear some strong language about climate change. We need to replace many of our politicians with new leaders that have Sanders’ concern for climate change as well as concerns for dwindling wildlife and biodiversity, eroding soils, acidifying oceans, and disappearing forests.

It won’t be easy. We have to watch for and promote candidates that understand nature conservation and that are willing to include it in their political goals. Please let me know when you find a promising candidate. We can recommend them to the existing movements, and we can support their efforts. If we can’t, we will see continuation of the human-caused mass extinction of life on Earth.

Anti-pipeline activists and film-makers face prison, raising fears for free press

GR: The first tests of our constitution have begun. Will law prevail or will Trump’s handlers, the oligarchs achieve total control? Contests are for liberty and nature. Both, especially nature have lost inch by inch, but the days of incremental change are over. Now, we achieve all or we have nothing.

Where are our champions? Oh, right, I forgot, they are forming separate camps competing for recognition as being the most pure, having the most followers, and raising the most money. Aargh!

Steve Liptay faces trespassing and aiding and abetting charges in Minnesota. Photograph: Courtesy of Steve Liptay

“Climate change activists and film-makers who documented their anti-pipeline demonstrations are facing criminal charges and hefty prison sentences, with cases across the US that have raised concerns about press intimidation and the targeting of peaceful protesters.

“The slew of upcoming trials, beginning Monday in Washington state, stem from a series of coordinated actions on 11 October 2016 aimed at shutting down oil sands pipelines. Nine criminal cases include several filed against film-makers and live-streamers who recorded protesters closing the emergency valves on pipelines, but did not directly participate in the disruptions.

Lindsey Grayzel. Photograph: Ben Grayzel

“These activists are responding to a climate emergency,” said Steve Liptay, a film-maker facing trespassing and aiding and abetting charges in Minnesota, where he documented protesters shutting down two Enbridge pipelines. “As media, we have to tell their stories.”

“The court cases – also in North Dakota, Minnesota and Montana – come at a time of increasing anxiety for journalists and activists surrounding the arrest and aggressive prosecution of reporters and protesters critical of US government and powerful corporations.

“During protests of Donald Trump’s inauguration in Washington DC, at least six journalists and film-makers were charged with felony rioting offenses, which could result in 10 years in prison. One case was later dropped. Lawmakers in multiple states have also recently pursued new laws aimed at restricting protests and making it easier for police to target demonstrators.

“The October #ShutItDown protests were organized in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s fight against the Dakota Access pipeline. Those demonstrations have also led to serious criminal charges, including a case against radio host Amy Goodman, which a judge eventually rejected.” –Sam Levin (More: Anti-pipeline activists and film-makers face prison, raising fears for free press | World news | The Guardian).

Here’s some more news of the day:

  1. “Trump’s Order Blocks Immigrants at Airports, Stoking Fear Around Globe,” The New York Times, January 28, 2017
    https://act.moveon.org/go/7888?t=7&akid=177187.22844931.y42Boe
  2. “Trump Is Reportedly Considering Reopening CIA “Black Site” Prisons,” Mother Jones, January 25, 2017
    http://act.moveon.org/go/7889?t=9&akid=177187.22844931.y42Boe

  3. “Donald Trump and the Order of the Pipelines,” The Atlantic, January 25, 2017
    https://act.moveon.org/go/7890?t=11&akid=177187.22844931.y42Boe

  4. “How Republicans came to support Trump’s wall,” CNN, January 28, 2017
    http://act.moveon.org/go/7891?t=13&akid=177187.22844931.y42Boe

  5. “Trump is at war with science and knowledge, and that should terrify you,” Los Angeles Times, January 26, 2017
    http://act.moveon.org/go/7892?t=15&akid=177187.22844931.y42Boe

  6. “On Day Two, Trump prayed, met the CIA and attacked the press,” CNN, January 21, 2017
    http://act.moveon.org/go/7893?t=17&akid=177187.22844931.y42Boe

  7. “Senate committee approves Tillerson for secretary of state,” CNN, January 23, 2017
    http://act.moveon.org/go/7894?t=19&akid=177187.22844931.y42Boe

  8. “Democrats delay vote on Sessions nomination,” The Hill, January 24, 2017
    http://act.moveon.org/go/7895?t=21&akid=177187.22844931.y42Boe

  9. “First Health Care Repeal Deadline Missed by Congress,” Roll Call, January 27, 2017
    http://act.moveon.org/go/7896?t=23&akid=177187.22844931.y42Boe

  10. “The Democratic Base Is Marching Right Past Its Leaders,” The Huffington Post, January 26, 2017
    http://act.moveon.org/go/7897?t=25&akid=177187.22844931.y42Boe

  11. “Trying to get a message to Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake? Good luck,” The Arizona Republic, January 24, 2017
    http://act.moveon.org/go/7814?t=27&akid=177187.22844931.y42Boe

  12. “GOP Congressman Leaves Meeting Early After Constituents Want to Talk Obamacare Repeal,” Time, January 15, 2017
    http://act.moveon.org/go/7819?t=29&akid=177187.22844931.y42Boe

The “I Hate Politics” Post

I Am Disappointed!

GR having to leave Freight Train behind and go to church.

GR having to leave Freight Train behind and go to church.

Justice Democrats is almost a mirror image of Our Revolution. They both claim to have staff from Bernie Sanders’ campaign, their platforms are similar, and they want to take back Congress with candidates that will reject corporate funding and so forth. So far, neither exhibits much awareness of Nature Conservation issues beyond Climate Change. There are other groups pursuing similar goals, but so far, these seem the most substantial.

Having two progressive groups with the same goals, competing for the same money, and possibly competing for the same voters is unfortunate. What happens if they both run a candidate for a particular office?  Will that split the progressive vote and make a Republican win more likely?

Perhaps I am mistaken in my assessment of these groups.  Here are the links; see for yourself. Please point out my mistake.

Our Revolution

Justice Democrats

 

Justice Democrats (Just Us) Origin, Philosophy, and Progress

Justice Democrats Background

jdsharelogo1Here’s another good video that helps explain the goals and methods of the Justice Democrats. A little reluctant to use the term “philosophy” for fear of pretension (:-)), but there you have it.

I got an email back about my platform suggestion.  ” . . . we only have the skeleton of the full platform up on the website at the moment. We have some dedicated and driven people working on writing out the full extended version as I type, which will include more details into the environment and how we can all take care of it better” (— Haley Zink). The revised platform isn’t up yet, but given that the movement is only three days old, I’m satisfied to wait. Be sure to go to justicedemocrats.com and sign up.

Justice (Just Us) Democrats New Executive Director

Justice Democrats Appoint Bernie Sanders Campaigner as Executive Director

Saikat Chakrabarti from the Bernie Sanders campaign is the new Executive Director of Justice Democrats.  Meet him and learn more about Just Us structure and goals in this video:

Other members of Bernie’s team are joining Just Us.  With plans to take over Congress without corporate money, Justice Democrats are thinking big. They are actively seeking candidates that accept Bernie Sander’s ideals. Go to their website (https://justicedemocrats.com) sign up, and nominate the people you think will work hard to represent the true needs of Americans.

I would also appreciate your comments on my suggested addition to the Just Us platform. I haven’t had a response from the group yet, but it’s early. I am hopeful that when the staff has time, they will fully agree that protecting biodiversity and natural systems is necessary.

This link will take you to Saikat’s profile on LinkedIn.

Platform Addition for the Justice Democrats

Justice Democrats Platform Omission

Monarch butterfly at Coldwater Farm.

Monarch butterfly at Coldwater Farm.

I agree with the 20 items included in the Justice Democrats platform. My concerns for nature conservation lead me to suggest an addition.

Defend natural systems from damaging uses. The Earth’s reserves of fertile soil, dense forest, fresh water, and wild animals and fish are declining. Overuse driven by commercial exploitation and by simple need is stripping the lands and seas of life. Biodiversity is declining and ecosystems are collapsing. For the benefit of humanity and all other living creatures, we must insist on proper land use. We must insist that national land management agencies in all nations are empowered to monitor, repair, and regulate the use of the land, water, and life without which human life would be impossible.