Wednesday, March 29, 2006

We're all in real trouble

As a follow up to the post regarding Time Magazine's article on climate change I thought I'd post this little nugget drawn from a lengthy discussion of the article over at the PeakOil.com forums:

... It's CO2 and other greenhouse gases, as well clearing forests and other human activities. And glaciers are almost uniformly in retreat.

Why is this a concern to peak oilers? It has a huge effect on sustainability. There are cities that rely on glacier meltwater for their water systems, and the glaciers may be gone in ten years. It's not only New Orleans that is likely to be abandoned due to global warming. And what about farming? If your peak oil plan is a homestead in the country and growing your own food, you should be very concerned. Unpredictable weather is a farmer's bane. How will you know what to plant, or when, if the weather changes drastically from year to year?

The killer drought in the west is, in all likelihood, caused by global warming. If it isn't, it is exactly what we would expect if the earth keeps warming, based on historical data. And it's causing a cascade of problems that should be of concern to peak oilers. Farming and fishing have been decimated. The lower water levels means coal barges can't bring their cargo east, where it's most needed. Towns are losing their water supplies. Hydroelectric plants have reduced output. Nuclear power plants find their intakes are being left high and dry as lakes and rivers retreat. And oil companies have been forced to stop production because no one can spare them any water.
If you want to read the thread from the beginning, click.

With each day that passes I'm further convinced that this truly is a crisis and we are in it right now. We may not fully realize it now but in the future those looking back will see that by 2006 we were in it. I realized today that I also believe that this is something that will be hitting us pretty damned hard within the five to ten years. Many of the articles and studies seem to by picking up on now as the point of no return and 100 years from now as the point that we will be seeing the catastrophe squarely in the face. In Hollywood it is a neatly packaged event with a clearly marked starting and ending point that comes upon humanity in days or weeks. In reality "it" is now and the intensification over the next decade will bring the people of the planet to a point of absolute realization and panic. By that I mean that those most comfortable, particularly those in America, those that continue to pretend it's not happening, will be freaking out. It will become the focus of life and will be seen as a primary danger. Between here and there we'll also be dealing with peak oil and various resource wars which will complicate the situation.

I'm glad I chose not to have children.



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Monday, March 27, 2006

Even the corporate media begins to see we are at the tipping point


This week's cover story at Time is climate change and they seem worried: By Any Measure, Earth Is At ... The Tipping Point:
Polar Ice Caps Are Melting Faster Than Ever... More And More Land Is Being Devastated By Drought... Rising Waters Are Drowning Low-Lying Communities... By Any Measure, Earth Is At ... The Tipping Point

The climate is crashing, and global warming is to blame. Why the crisis hit so soon--and what we can do about it

No one can say exactly what it looks like when a planet takes ill, but it probably looks a lot like Earth. Never mind what you've heard about global warming as a slow-motion emergency that would take decades to play out. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us.

It certainly looked that way last week as the atmospheric bomb that was Cyclone Larry--a Category 5 storm with wind bursts that reached 180 m.p.h.--exploded through northeastern Australia. It certainly looked that way last year as curtains of fire and dust turned the skies of Indonesia orange, thanks to drought-fueled blazes sweeping the island nation. It certainly looks that way as sections of ice the size of small states calve from the disintegrating Arctic and Antarctic. And it certainly looks that way as the sodden wreckage of New Orleans continues to molder, while the waters of the Atlantic gather themselves for a new hurricane season just two months away. Disasters have always been with us and surely always will be. But when they hit this hard and come this fast--when the emergency becomes commonplace--something has gone grievously wrong. That something is global warming.


As I often say in regards to the corporate media finally covering a story, better late than never. But why is it that they so often wait until the problem is so obvious? They say suddenly and unexpectedly? Um, no. No, I don't think so. Many of us have been saying for many years that these days were coming but it was an inconvenient truth to be ignored until there was no other choice. We can expect the same with other serious problems such as peak oil. In the short term it's easier to ignore the problem, pretend it does not exist and hope that it will not rear it's ugly head in our lifetimes. Better to leave these messes we're creating to our grand children or great-grand children. Well, surprise surprise, these problems are showing up in your lifetime.

These two problems, climate change and peak oil, are deeply interconnected, and we should remember that as we craft solutions. Had we taken the advice of environmentalists 20 or 30 years ago we would, at this moment, have a better energy and climate situation. Instead, citizens chose convenience and capitalists (as we would expect) chose to maximize short term profits. Sustainability was not a part of the equation and now we will suffer. The day will come when we realize that government, bought and paid for by capital, will never put forward the best solutions to our social and ecological problems.

If we want solutions we're going to have to actively develop a radically different society. We're not talking about new laws or a half-assed jump to a new technology such as ethanol. Everything about our current lives must change. Everything. To sum it up, we'll need to decentralize, localize our energy and food production as well as the production and consumption of goods. Malls and boxmarts are over as are the shelves of shit they sell.

My guess is that Americans are far too stupid and stubborn to make these radical changes to their lifeway willingly. No, most will do nothing until they are literally forced by reality to adapt and it won't be pretty.





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Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Oceans are rising

Yes it is coming and it's coming sooner than expected. The article suggests as little as a decade to take steps, I'm not so sure we have that long. In fact, I think it's probably to late. I hesitate to suggest that because I would never argue that we should not try... we should make every effort, we should take radical steps. The Christian Science Monitor reports on the projected level of ocean rise due to climate change:
Arctic temperatures near a prehistoric level when seas were 16 to 20 feet higher, studies say.

Global warming appears to be pushing vast reservoirs of ice on Greenland and Antarctica toward a significant, long-term meltdown. The world may have as little as a decade to take the steps to avoid this scenario.

Those are the implications of new studies that looked to climate history for clues about how the planet's major ice sheets might respond to human-triggered climate change.

Already, temperatures in the Arctic are close to those that thawed much of Greenland's ice cap some 130,000 years ago, when the planet last enjoyed a balmy respite from continent-covering glaciers, say the studies' authors.

By 2100, spring and summer temperatures in the Arctic could reach levels that trigger an unstoppable repeat performance, they say. Over several centuries, the melt could raise sea levels by as much as 20 feet, submerging major cities worldwide as well as chains of islands, such as the present-day Bahamas.

The US would lose the lower quarter of Florida, southern Louisiana up to Baton Rouge, and North Carolina's Outer Banks. The ocean would even flood a significant patch of California's Central Valley, lapping at the front porches of Sacramento.

These estimates may understate the potential rise. The teams say their studies provide the first hints that during the last interglacial period, ice sheets in both hemispheres worked together to raise sea levels, rather than the Northern Hemisphere's ice alone. This raises concerns that Antarctic melting might be more severe this time, because additional melt mechanisms may be at work.

"It sounds bad," acknowledges Jonathan Overpeck, a University of Arizona researcher who led one of the two studies. He notes that rising temperatures are approaching a threshold. But "we know about it far enough in advance to avoid crossing it." The challenge, he and others say, is to take advantage of the remaining window by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases substantially.

The two studies were published in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

Ice on Greenland and Antarctica is already thinning faster than it's being replaced - and faster than scientists thought it would, notes Richard Alley, a paleoclimatologist at Penn State University and member of one of the research teams. Only five years ago, he notes, climate scientists expected the ice sheets to gain mass through 2100, then begin to melt. "We're now 100 years ahead of schedule," he says.
...

But the window for action is relatively short, Dr. Overpeck says. CO2 remains in the atmosphere for more than a century after it's first emitted. And it takes time to implement policies and adopt technologies. Thus for all practical purposes, the tipping point may come sooner than atmospheric chemistry would suggest.
So, within five years we've jumped 100 years ahead of schedule? I predict that in five more years, 2011 we'll be told, again, that we are 100 years ahead of schedule. We'll be told that it is now... right now.

Thanks to Dave Lucas for pointing me to this article.




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Saturday, March 25, 2006

There are no easy energy solutions

As the public begins to realize that we have a serious energy problem we begin to see the grasping at easy solutions that do not exist. Ethanol is a great example. It takes energy to make energy! Burning coal to convert corn to ethanol is not smart and not a clean solution. The Christian Science Monitor has a great story on the problem of ethanol:
Carbon cloud over a green fuel

An Iowa corn refinery, open since December, uses 300 tons of coal a day to make ethanol.

Late last year in Goldfield, Iowa, a refinery began pumping out a stream of ethanol, which supporters call the clean, renewable fuel of the future.

There's just one twist: The plant is burning 300 tons of coal a day to turn corn into ethanol - the first US plant of its kind to use coal instead of cleaner natural gas.


While the story is focused on the climate change aspects of burning coal for the conversion of corn which only tells one part of the story. Ethanol is being put forward as a replacement for oil. Lets remember that before corn can be converted it must be grown and that also requires substantial energy input. Jumping into the rapid development of coal burning ethanol production plants is not the answer. It's more of the same bullshit. A quick "fix" that will only make our problems worse. It's the kind of solution we can expect from the best government capitalists can buy.

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Kevin Phillips on American Theocracy, Politics of Radical Religion and Oil

Very interesting interview on Democracy Now! this past week and it's worth downloading. Former GOP strategist Kevin Phillips discusses american theocracy, politics of radical religion, oil, and borrowed money. During the interview he has this to say about peak oil:
AMY GOODMAN: Kevin Phillips, you talk about radical religion, about debt, and about oil, about this being an oil war. You also talk about peak oil. That's not talked about very much in the mainstream. Explain.

KEVIN PHILLIPS: The peak oil idea is that just as the United States oil production peaked in 1971, that we have a limited amount of oil globally, and that it’s something that can't be re-created. It’s running out. And the expectation of some is that the oil production of the non-OPEC countries will peak at some point during the 2010s, and that then the production of OPEC itself will peak in the 2020s or 2030s. Now, some people think that Saudi production has already peaked.

Now, if you believe this, and it’s possible, then we face an enormous convergence, again under specific oil-related circumstances, of a global struggle for natural resources as the price of oil climbs, as we turn the armed services into a global oil protection service, which has been happening, and as we see the administration refuse to grapple with the need to really curb oil consumption in the United States, which is mostly through transportation and especially motor vehicles.

And I just have a sense, as many others on the conservative side do, this administration has no strategy to deal with these converging problems, be they foreign policy, military, oil, debt. They are like the three little monkeys on the old jade thing – the one sees no evil, one speaks no evil, and one hears no evil. Do they know anything? You know, that's an open question.


I think I've probably already said this previously but just to be clear, I believe that peak oil has already occurred. Furthermore, we can expect that U.S. aggression will prove to be just another in a long line of oil-based wars.


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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

V for Vendetta, A for Anarchism

For any of my readers that have seen V for Vendetta but who may not know much about anarchism: A for Anarchy. For those of you that don't know, anarchism has a part to play both in the story in the movie as well as the story of it's creation. I'm not going to write a review of the movie because I'm not very good at writing movie reviews. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed it and would recommend it. That said I can appreciate the review by William Gillis of Human Iterations who did not like it much. But yes, back to anarchism, the folks over at A for Anarchy have done a good job of putting up a nice intro to anarchism for viewers of the movie. From the site:

THERE IS ANOTHER WAY

"Tonight, you must choose what comes next. Lives of our own, or a return to chains. Choose carefully. "

This website is intended to introduce fans of the film/graphic novel V For Vendetta to the history and philosophy of Anarchy. V For Vendetta was originally a comic produced in the mid 1980s by Alan Moore and David Lloyd about a man who destroys the corrupt state he lives in, promoting Anarchy to the masses all the while. This core message of Anarchy has been severely twisted in the film verison. So much that Alan Moore has asked to be withdrawn from all media references and to have his name removed from the film's posters.

Anarchy, with its long and varied past, has been repeatedly suppressed and misrepresented. The many successes and movements in the Anarchist community are almost never mentioned in schools or by corporate controlled media. Hollywood's current filtering of V For Vendetta is far from surprising when taking into account the general message of fear that mainstream news instills in its audience. Thus, this website was created to help individuals familiarize themselves with the Anarchistic viewpoint and to realize the power everyone of us has to make a difference.


Yet, while A For Anarchy hopes to touch on many aspects surrounding Anarchy, it does not claim to be an end all source for anarchistic theory. Rather, this site is meant to act as a portal through which, hopefully, movie goers will realise that an action packed life is endlessly more fulfilling than flickering images on a screen. The site is broken down into areas of main importance, each providing only a brief overview of their respective topics. We encourage you to follow up on any areas that interest you by following the links, keep fighting, and never give up.



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Monday, March 20, 2006

Top Ten Catastrophes of the Third Year of American Agression

As usual Juan Cole has a couple of posts worth reading. Top Ten Catastrophes of the Third Year of American...



And Allawi on Iraq in Civil War.

Americans are just now realizing that we will be in Iraq for a long, long time. There will be no pull out as long as we continue to believe we can drive and consume our way to happiness. Let's hope American families remember that when the draft comes. An oil-based life has it's price and we will pay it.

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Sunday, March 19, 2006

St. Louis Anti-War protest

St. Louis Anti-War Protest Took my brother to his first anti-war protest today... actually, I think it was his first protest of any kind. Seemed like a good turnout and I thought it went pretty well. Living out in the countryside, I've not been involved with much in the last two years. Days like today remind me of my life in Memphis.

More protest photos via Flickr.

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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Halliburton and Homeland Security's Endgame

When do we realize we've crossed the point of no return, and what do we do then?

On January 24 Halliburton subsidiary KBR announced that it had been awarded a contract to build immigrant detention facilities is part of a longer-term Homeland Security plan titled ENDGAME, which sets as its goal the removal of "all removable aliens" and "potential terrorists."

Endgame. Interesting. We've entered a whole new phase of American history.

Peter Dale Scott discusses the 10-Year U.S. Strategic Plan For Detention Camps:

The Halliburton subsidiary KBR (formerly Brown and Root) announced on Jan. 24 that it had been awarded a $385 million contingency contract by the Department of Homeland Security to build detention camps. Two weeks later, on Feb. 6, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced that the Fiscal Year 2007 federal budget would allocate over $400 million to add 6,700 additional detention beds (an increase of 32 percent over 2006). This $400 million allocation is more than a four-fold increase over the FY 2006 budget, which provided only $90 million for the same purpose.

Both the contract and the budget allocation are in partial fulfillment of an ambitious 10-year Homeland Security strategic plan, code-named ENDGAME, authorized in 2003. According to a 49-page Homeland Security document on the plan, ENDGAME expands "a mission first articulated in the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798." Its goal is the capability to "remove all removable aliens," including "illegal economic migrants, aliens who have committed criminal acts, asylum-seekers (required to be retained by law) or potential terrorists."
...
Significantly, both the KBR contract and the ENDGAME plan are open-ended. The contract calls for a response to "an emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid development of new programs" in the event of other emergencies, such as "a natural disaster." "New programs" is of course a term with no precise limitation. So, in the current administration, is ENDGAME's goal of removing "potential terrorists."
...
Since 9/11 the Bush administration has implemented a number of inter-related programs, which had been planned for secretly in the 1980s under President Reagan. These so-called "Continuity of Government" or COG proposals included vastly expanded detention capabilities, warrantless eavesdropping and detention, and preparations for greater use of martial law.

Prominent among the secret planners of this program in the 1980s were then-Congressman Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who at the time was in private business as CEO of the drug company G.D. Searle.


Alternet also discusses Bush's "New Programs"


Some discussion on this over at the PeakOil Forums. Found this there:
Agree. Heck, I don't think the current population could muster even a minimal 500 thousand general strikers. The concept of participating in self government has vanished. For most people politics is like the Olympics, a long boring TV show that comes on every 4 years. "Hey, when is American Idol on?" But my point was, that in theory, the population still has the power, most of them just have been brainwashed into submission, programmed to be slaves by a 24/7 diet of consumerist propaganda and entertainment. And those that have a clue are (appropriately) terrified by ENDGAME and videos of new high security prison turnstiles installed at a defunct railyard.

I was an activist of sorts in my youth in the USA in the 1970s. My assessment after the pathetic non-response to the blatantly stolen 2004 election was the same as Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, "Big dark, come soon." Those of us who once played the game saw the game is over. The people of the US are not going to put up any resistance at all. So I emigrated. Anyone who might be designated a "Fifth Columnist" by the regime either needs to get out or find a quiet place to hide for a long time.





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New analysis says global warming boosts hurricanes

According to New Scientist a new analysis by the Georgia Institute of Technology suggests global warming boosts hurricanes:

Renewed claims that global warming is driving the increased number of high-intensity hurricanes across the world were published on Thursday.

The new study comes from researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, US. In September 2005 – days after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans – Peter Webster and Judy Curry claimed that the number of intense hurricanes across the world had almost doubled over the past 35 years, and that this was due to rising sea temperatures.

The study was attacked for ignoring other variables known to influence hurricane intensity. These include humidity, the strength of horizontal winds that can disrupt hurricane formation, and atmospheric circulation. William Gray of Colorado State University, US, who compiles annual hurricane forecasts for the North Atlantic, said the findings were “not physically plausible”.

But the Georgia duo recruited in-house statisticians to subject their original findings to detailed analysis, comparing the role of sea temperatures with the competing factors – humidity, wind strength and atmospheric circulation.

Statistician Carlos Hoyos and colleagues conclude that all four factors have been working to increase the strength of hurricanes. But, reinforcing the original study's conclusion, they say that “the contribution from sea surface temperature dominates” in every ocean. Gray has yet to respond.

Journal reference: Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.1123560)


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Friday, March 17, 2006

Oil and US perception

I tend to distrust polls but thought I'd mention this recent CNN poll regarding Americans and fear vulnerability of oil supply. Funny how folks don't seem to put much blame on auto companies and even less on themselves. Always easier too blame others I suppose.
Eighty-nine percent of those polled said oil companies deserve a great deal or some of the blame for current energy problems, compared to 81 percent who felt that way about Bush.

Nearly one in three said oil-producing countries deserve a great deal of the blame, while 27 percent put the blame on automobile companies. One in every four of those polled said American consumers bore the brunt of the blame.

The poll, which was released Wednesday afternoon, also indicates that roughly three out of four Americans -- 77 percent -- fear the supply of oil will not be able to keep up with global demand. Three in 10 said they believe the world will run short of oil within the next 25 years.

Good to see that oil and energy are becoming, to some small degree, more important to the media. Shame that the coverage is still so shallow and too rarely dig into the reality of peak oil.


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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Western Shoshone defending their land rights: victory at UN

My good friend Hannah passed this on to me... and it occurs to me that I rarely see any mention of American Indian activism in the lefty, radical web.

Western Shoshone victorious at UN!!

I am sending this message on -- part of the issue of Shoshone land rights is the planned high-level nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain and the land needed to build a new multi-billion dollar rail line to get the nuclear waste there. While reprocessing this waste is on the table, Yucca is not being taken off the table... and for those active in human rights issues, this is an important networking opportunity. -- Mary Olson, NIRS Southeast office (www.nirs.org)

For additional information, contact: Julie Fishel, at wsdp@igc.org or 41-22-747-0000(Geneva)/775-468-0230 (U.S.) or Raymond Yowell, Western Shoshone National Council at 775-744-4381.

Western Shoshone Victorious at United Nations: U.S. Found in Violation of Human Rights of Native Americans – Urged to Take Immediate Action

10 March 2006, Geneva Switzerland. Today, in an historic and strongly worded decision by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) the United States was urged to “freeze”, “desist” and “stop” actions being taken or threatened to be taken against the Western Shoshone Peoples of the Western Shoshone Nation. In its decision, CERD stressed the “nature and urgency” of the Shoshone situation informing the U.S. that it goes “well beyond” the normal reporting process and warrants immediate attention under the Committee’s Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure.

This monumental action challenges the US government’s assertion of federal ownership of nearly 90% of Western Shoshone lands. The land base covers approximately 60 million acres, stretching across what is now referred to as the states of Nevada, Idaho, Utah and California. Western Shoshone rights to the land - which they continue to use, care for, and occupy today - were recognized by the United States in 1863 by the Treaty of Ruby Valley. The U.S. now claims these same lands as “public” or federal lands through an agency process and has denied Western Shoshone fair access to U.S. courts through that same process. The land base has been and continues to be used by the United States for military testing, open pit cyanide heap leach gold mining and nuclear waste disposal planning. The U.S. has engaged in military style seizures of Shoshone livestock, trespass fines in the millions of dollars and ongoing armed surveillance of Western Shoshone who continue to assert their original and treaty rights.

Based upon these actions and a dramatic escalation of new actions threatening irreparable harm to Western Shoshone and their environment, last year, with the support of the Univ. of Arizona Indigenous Law and Policy Program, the Western Shoshone filed a renewed legal action at the United Nations CERD. In addition to evidence of the United States’ conduct, the Western Shoshone delegation also delivered over 13,000 signatures from citizens across the United States of America supporting the Western Shoshone action to CERD. This petition was a result of a campaign organized by the rights-based development organization Oxfam America to demonstrate the widespread concern for the Western Shoshone peoples to the United Nations.

CERD rejected the U.S.’ argument that the situation was not “novel” and therefore should wait to be reviewed until the U.S. submits its Periodic Report – past due since 2003. The Committee informed the U.S. that “[a]lthough these are indeed long-standing issues…they warrant immediate and effective action… [and] should be dealt with as a matter of priority.” The United States was “urged to pay particular attention to the right to health and cultural rights of the Western Shoshone…which may be infringed upon by activities threatening their environment and/or disregarding the spiritual and cultural significance they give to their ancestral lands.”

CERD presented its decision to the Western Shoshone this morning. The decision details the U.S.’ actions against the Western Shoshone and calls upon the United States to immediately:
• Respect and protect the human rights of the Western Shoshone peoples;
• Initiate a dialogue with the representatives of the Western Shoshone peoples in order to find a solution acceptable to them, and which complies with their rights;
• Adopt the following measures until a final decision or settlement is reached on the status, use and occupation of Western Shoshone ancestral lands in accordance with due process of law and the U.S.’ obligations under the Convention;
• Freeze all efforts to privatize Western Shoshone ancestral lands for transfer to multinational extractive industries and energy developers;
• Desist from all activities planned and/or conducted on Western Shoshone ancestral lands;
• Stop imposing grazing fees, livestock impoundments, hunting, fishing and gathering restrictions and rescind all notices already made.

The decision is historic in that it is the first time a United Nations Committee has issued a full decision against the U.S. in respect to its highly controversial Federal Indian law and policy. The decision expressed particular concern that the U.S.’ basis for claiming federal title to Western Shoshone land rests on a theory of “gradual encroachment” through a “compensation” process in the Indian Claims Commission. The decision highlights that this same process was found by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to violate “international human rights norms, principles and standards that govern determination of indigenous property interests.” When the U.S. last appeared before the Committee in 2001, Committee members expressed alarm and concern that U.S. laws regarding indigenous peoples continue to be based on the outdated, colonial era “doctrine of discovery.”

The Committee gave the U.S. a July 15, 2006 deadline to provide it with information on the action it had taken. The decision issued today demonstrates a solid commitment by the United Nations human rights system to make the Western Shoshone’s struggle a priority. Whereas indigenous peoples have been active at the United Nations for several decades, the decision today also brings a breath of hope to indigenous communities across the U.S. and globally where the negative effects of U.S. policy and influence reach. In its decision, the Committee drew particular attention to its General recommendation 23 (1997) on the rights of indigenous peoples, in particular their right to own, develop, control and use their communal lands, territories and resources.

*_Comments from Western Shoshone Delegation to United Nations (March 10, 2006):_*

“We have rights to protect our homelands and stop the destruction of our land, water, and air by the abuses of the United States government and the multinational corporations. The situation is outrageous and we’re glad the United Nations Committee agrees with us. Our people have suffered more nuclear testing than anywhere else in the world and they’re continuing underground testing despite our protests. Yucca Mountain is being hollowed out in order to store nuclear waste. We cannot stand for it – this earth, the air, the water are sacred. People of all races must stop this insanity now in order to secure a safe future for all.”/ Joe Kennedy, Western Shoshone.

“The Western Shoshone Nation is very thankful to the Committee members for their decision affirming U.S. discrimination and destructive policies do not go on unaccounted for. Truth is what it is – that can never change. We pray for the healing of our peoples, the land and the harassment and destruction to stop. While others are allowed the freedom of religion, we are kept from the very same right. The Newe (people) use this ancestral land for sacred ceremonies. The federal agencies prevent our access to some of these important areas. Our ancestors’ burials are being dug up and placed into local museums’ basement storage areas because of surge of gold mines and nuclear developments. This is an outrage to our people!”/ Judy Rojo, Western Shoshone.

“This battle has been going on for quite some time, but we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the federal government and the companies’ rush to finalize what they consider a settlement in order to get a hold of our lands for activities that are contaminating our water and our air. Again, we are very pleased that our rights are finally being taken seriously and we look forward to positive actions being taken by the U.S. ”/ Steven Brady, Western Shoshone.

“We are Shoshone delegates speaking for a Nation threatened by extinction. The mines are polluting our waters, destroying hot springs and exploding sacred mountains—our burials along with them--attempting to erase our signature on the land. We are coerced and threatened by mining and Federal agencies when we seek to continue spiritual prayers for traditional food or medicine on Shoshone land. We have endured murder of our Newe people for centuries, as chronicled in military records, but *now* we are asked to endure a more painful death from the U.S. governmental agencies —a separation from land and spiritual renewal. We thank our past leaders for their persistence and courage and the CERD for this monumental step.” - Bernice Lalo, Western Shoshone.



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Anti-war Assembly in St. Louis on March 19th

Posted at the St. Louis Indy Media Center Anti-war Assembly at Forest Park on March 19th:
Anti-war Assembly at Forest Park on March 19th
Join us at the World's Fair Pavilion in Forest Park on the 3rd Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq

* Sunday, March 19th * 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm *

In addition to the continuing loss of lives in the war, our nation's vast resources are being needlessly wasted. We will hold an Assembly to Reclaim Our Resources: Food - Jobs - Housing - Education - Energy - Health Care

March 19th is a day of action across the whole country so wherever you may be able to join in.

More info at St. Louis Instead of War Coalition.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Bush's Iran Lies

Truthdig has posted an excellent essay by Juan Cole regarding Iran:Fishing for a Pretext in Iran. This whole build-up certainly seems to be the same technique used to take the country into the obviously illegal war against Iraq. Truly amazing that this pack of war criminals, even as we watch the mess they created in Iraq, would attempt another aggression based on lies. Not just amazing, but a whole new level of disgusting and a continuation of U.S. terrorism. And yes, the corporate media is, as we would expect, going along with the lies. It's not just the Nuclear pretext either, as Cole points out in an update to his article, just yesterday (3/13) Bush is again trying to link the IEDs being used in Iraq with Iran. The administration has been doing this for many months and it's really just a part of the larger campaign.

From the article:
The Bush administration has arbitrarily taken the position that Iran may not have a nuclear research program at all, even a civilian one. This stance actually contradicts the guarantees of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Washington officials continually intimate to the press that Tehran has an active weapons program, which is speculation. And, of course, the United States itself is egregiously in violation of several articles of the NPT, keeping enough nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert to destroy the world several times over and actively pursuing new and deadly weapons, even dreaming of “tactical” nukes. Its ally in the region, Israel, never signed the NPT and was helped by the British to get a bomb in the 1960s.

The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate released in summer 2005 estimates that if Iran did have an active nuclear weapons program, and if the international atmosphere were favorable to it being able to get hold of the requisite equipment, it would still be a good 10 years away from a bomb. But the international atmosphere is actively hostile to such a development, and anyway it has not been proved that there is such a weapons program.
...

The answer is that the Iranian nuclear issue is déjà vu all over again. As it did with regard to the Baath regime in Iraq, the militarily aggressive Bush administration wants to overthrow the government in Tehran. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, now in a coma, urged the U.S. to hit Iran as soon as it had taken care of Saddam Hussein. The Israelis have a grudge against it because it helped end their military occupation and land grab in southern Lebanon by giving aid to the Shiite Hezbollah organization, the only Arab force ever to succeed in regaining occupied land from Israel by military means. But Iran does not form a conventional military threat to Israel.

Overthrowing the theocratic regime in Iran, Washington hopes, would reduce Hezbollah pressure on Israel over its continued occupation of the Shebaa Farms area (and, implicitly, the Golan Heights). It would make Syria more complaisant toward Israel and Washington. It would open up Iran to investment and exploration on the part of the American petroleum majors, which are at the moment excluded because the U.S. slapped an economic boycott on Iran. It might remove support for the more hard-line elements among Shiite political parties in Iraq, making that country easier for the U.S. to shape and dominate. In short, a U.S.-installed regime in Iran would hold out the promise of returning to the halcyon 1960s, when the shah was an American puppet in the region.

The nuclear issue is for the most part a pretext for the Americans to exert pressure on the regime in Tehran. This is not to say that proliferation is not a worrisome issue, or that it can be ruled out that Iran wants a bomb. It is to say that the situation simply has not reached the point of crisis, and therefore other motivations must be sought for the Bush administration’s breathless rhetoric.

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Climate Change Round-up

The news of a warming climate continues to roll in and with each wave the news is worse. We'll start with the most recent article and work backwards. Today the Independent publishes Climate change 'irreversible' as Arctic sea ice fails to re-form:
Sea ice in the Arctic has failed to re-form for the second consecutive winter, raising fears that global warming may have tipped the polar regions in to irreversible climate change far sooner than predicted.

Satellite measurements of the area of the Arctic covered by sea ice show that for every month this winter, the ice failed to return even to its long-term average rate of decline. It is the second consecutive winter that the sea ice has not managed to re-form enough to compensate for the unprecedented melting seen during the past few summers.

Scientists are now convinced that Arctic sea ice is showing signs of both a winter and a summer decline that could indicate a major acceleration in its long-term rate of disappearance. The greatest fear is that an environmental "positive feedback" has kicked in, where global warming melts ice which in itself causes the seas to warm still further as more sunlight is absorbed by a dark ocean rather than being reflected by white ice.

Stuart Staniford at The Oil Drum has an excellent post on this news as well as a link to a very interesting site, The Cryosphere Today which is a site focused on the ice coverage of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. As usual (for articles at The Oil Drum) the comments are excellent and it's evident that many folks are greatly concerned with the effects of positive feedback as well as thinning ice. I think we are now realizing that we greatly underestimated the rapidity of climate change... in truth I think we'll soon see that the reality is the worst case scenario.

Also today the BBC is reporting that there is a Sharp rise in recorded levels of CO2

US climate scientists have recorded a significant rise in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, pushing it to a new record level.

BBC News has learned the latest data shows CO2 levels now stand at 381 parts per million (ppm) - 100ppm above the pre-industrial average.

The research indicates that 2005 saw one of the largest increases on record - a rise of 2.6ppm.

The figures are seen as a benchmark for climate scientists around the globe.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) has been analysing samples of air taken from all over the world, including America's Rocky Mountains.

The chief carbon dioxide analyst for Noaa says the latest data confirms a worrying trend that recent years have, on average, recorded double the rate of increase from just 30 years ago.

"We don't see any sign of a decrease; in fact, we're seeing the opposite, the rate of increase is accelerating," Dr Pieter Tans told the BBC.


More coverage via Reuters: Global warming gases at highest levels ever: UN
GENEVA (Reuters) - Greenhouse gases blamed for global warming and climate change have reached their highest ever levels in the atmosphere, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Tuesday.

A bulletin from the United Nations agency said the gases -- the main warming culprit carbon dioxide (CO2), methane and nitrous oxide -- "all reached new highs in 2004."


Other recent coverage of the melting ice sheets
On March 3 the Washington Post reported on new findings that were published in the journal Science: Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Melting Rapidly. From the article:
The Antarctic ice sheet is losing as much as 36 cubic miles of ice a year in a trend that scientists link to global warming, according to a new paper that provides the first evidence that the sheet's total mass is shrinking significantly.

...
It is one of a slew of scientific papers in recent weeks that have sought to gauge the impact of climate change on the world's oceans and lakes. Just last month two researchers reported that Greenland's glaciers are melting into the sea twice as fast as previously believed, and a separate paper in Science today predicts that by the end of this century lakes and streams on one-fourth of the African continent could be drying up because of higher temperatures.

The new Antarctic measurements, using data from two NASA satellites called the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), found that the amount of water pouring annually from the ice sheet into the ocean -- equivalent to the amount of water the United States uses in three months -- is causing global sea level to rise by 0.4 millimeters a year. The continent holds 90 percent of the world's ice, and the disappearance of even its smaller West Antarctic ice sheet could raise worldwide sea levels by an estimated 20 feet.

"The ice sheet is losing mass at a significant rate," said Isabella Velicogna, the study's lead author and a research scientist at Colorado University at Boulder's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. "It's a good indicator of how the climate is changing. It tells us we have to pay attention."


The Independent Online also covered that story:
More evidence has emerged indicating the Antarctic ice sheet is melting so fast it is contributing to a rise in global sea levels.

The first satellite study of the continent's ice inventory has revealed that Antarctica is releasing around 35 cubic miles of water into the sea each year.

This is equivalent to an increase in global sea level of about 0.4mm a year. This would account for between 20 and 50 per cent of the average rise seen each year for the past century.

The findings suggest that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which in its 2001 assessment assumed that Antarctica was not contributing to sea level rise, will have to review its position.

"This is the first study to indicate the total mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet is in significant decline," said Isabella Velicogna of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

"The overall balance of the Antarctic ice is dependent on regional changes in the interior and those in the coastal areas. The changes we are seeing are probably a good indicator of the changing climatic conditions there," she said.

The study, published in the journal Science, results from a new way of investigating Antarctica's ice sheet by measuring changes in the gravitational pull of the continent - which corresponds to the total mass of its ice sheet - on a pair of orbiting satellites.

Until now satellites have concentrated on making accurate measurements of changes to the height of the ice sheet, or by taking images of the surface area of the ice shelves and floating sea ice fringing the continent's coast.

Scientists involved in the latest gravity recovery and climate experiment (Grace) used two satellites, launched in 2002, to measure small perturbations in gravity and hence variations in the total mass of the ice sheet.

The satellites orbit the poles at a distance of 137 miles from one another. A change in gravity due to a change in thickness of the ice sheet below is detected by small changes in the distance between the satellites. Scientists said that they can detect changes in distance between the Grace satellites equivalent to one fiftieth of the diameter of a human hair.


Here's the Los Angeles Times coverage of the story:
Study finds continent is shrinking faster than it can grow. Experts say changes to the global water cycle could hasten the pace of sea-level rise.

The ice sheets of Antarctica — the world's largest reservoir of fresh water — are shrinking faster than new snow can fall, scientists reported Thursday in the first comprehensive satellite survey of the entire continent.

Researchers at the University of Colorado determined that between 2002 and 2005 Antarctica lost ice at a rate of 36 cubic miles a year, rather than growing from heavier snowfalls as had been predicted. That amount of ice is equivalent to about 30 times the fresh water used by Los Angeles every year.

"It is the first time we can say that if you look at the entire ice sheet, it is losing mass," said geophysicist Isabella Velicogna, whose findings were published online Thursday by the journal Science.

This month, an independent research team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge reported that the Arctic glaciers of Greenland were melting twice as fast as five years ago, adding an extra 38 cubic miles of fresh water to the Atlantic Ocean every year.

Taken together, the findings suggest that a century of steady increases in global temperatures is altering the seasonal balance of the world's water cycle, in which new snow and ice neatly offset thaw and rainfall runoff every year to maintain the current level of the seas.

If so, experts say, increasing global temperatures — the 10 warmest years on record all occurred after 1990 — may be hastening the demise of the polar icecaps and estimates of the pace of sea-level rise could be too low.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

US Army concerned about Peak Oil and its impact on the military

Apparently those leftist tree hugger conspiracy theorists in the U.S. Army are jumping on the peak oil bandwagon. The Energy Bulletin reports on a recently released Army report, Peak Oil and the Army's future:

“The days of inexpensive, convenient, abundant energy sources are quickly drawing to a close,” according to a recently released US Army strategic report. The report posits that a peak in global oil production looks likely to be imminent, with wide reaching implications for the US Army and society in general.


Get the Pdf while the gettin' is good: Energy Trends and Their Implications for U.S. Army Installations, 1.2mb. 8 page summary of the report, 75kb.


Can this really be the U.S. Army discussing sustainability:
...energy consumption is indispensable to our standard of living and a necessity for the Army to carry out its mission. However, current trends are not sustainable. The impact of excessive, unsustainable energy consumption may undermine the very culture and activities it supports. There is no perfect energy source; all are used at a cost.

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Firefly

Several months back I discovered Firefly... better late than never. Ranks right up there with Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek NG. Very interesting mix of old western culture in which the wealthy planets of the "Alliance" enjoy the best technology while the poor settlers of the outer planets scrape by living in conditions we can expect in a post-peak oil earth. The effects are excellent and very well balanced with an emphasis on the story and character relationships.

More info via the Firefly Wiki.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

NYT on Anarchism and Co-op Life

Interesting article by Liz Seymour about anarchism and co-op housing over at the New York Times: Inviting Anarchy Into My Home. Reminds me of my life in Memphis and deCleyre. Her description of co-op life amongst anarchists seems accurate, or at least similar to my own experience in Memphis:

...I found my mind turning to a collective house in Oregon where Isabell, my older daughter, had lived the summer before, and to a group of young anarchist artists and musicians in Greensboro whom I knew through both of my daughters.

After Isabell came home from college an anarchist herself, I began to put aside my preconceptions about these people — as disorderly, violent and destructive — and to see them as a community dedicated to replacing hierarchy with consensus and cooperation. (Isabell once described them as Quakers who swear a lot.) Over time I found myself drawn to their hopeful view that people know best what is best for them and to their determination, naïve or not, to build a better world right away. Anarchism, at least as practiced here, seemed to be more about building community gardens and making your own fun than about black bandannas and confrontations with the riot police (although it was about those things, too).

Amid the chaos of my own life I wondered if this approach to living might have something in it for me. Unconventional as it was, I figured it couldn't be any worse than struggling to pay the mortgage and being Justin's mother on my own.

So Justin and I entered a microeconomy in which it is possible to live not just comfortably, but well, on $500 a month. When we pooled our skills in our new household, we found that we had what we needed to design a Web page, paint a ceiling or install a car stereo. Sharing services and tools with people outside the house saved us thousands of dollars a year. If there is a historical model for the way we live, it is not the communes of the 60's or the utopian experiments of the 19th century, but the two-million-year prehistory of our hunting-and-gathering ancestors. Looked at through that lens, the life of our miniature tribe feels a lot like the way people were meant to live.


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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Why Peak Oil is now

Over at The Oil Drum Stuart Staniford has posted an excellent summary of the arrival of peak oil. Currently 363 comments, you have to love group learning and sharing! The Oil Drum community is one of the most amazing. Just to get you started:
Why peak oil is probably about now

This post is for the benefit of those readers whose friends or relatives just spat out their coffee over their morning New York Times in surprise that oil is starting to run out and nobody warned them before now. If you are looking around for more background information, I would like to summarize a series of arguments and analyses that have led me to the view that peak oil is most likely occurring about now, give or take a year or two. My personal coffee-spitting incident occurred about a year ago, and this is some of what I've figured out

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Consensus grows on climate change, US refuses to cooperate

The BBC reports that Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will soon release an updated report on climate change which state that only greenhouse gas emissions can explain the intensity and breadth of recent decades' weather patterns. Are folks noticing that with each new study scientists confirm that not only is climate change very real but that it is happening much faster than they previously thought? Also, they continue to be surprised that the resulting symptoms and effects of climate change are both more intense and more rapid than expected. Perhaps it's just the media's flavoring. I'd expect that scientists are well aware of just how fucked we really are.

According to the BBC:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had previously said gases such as CO2 were "probably" to blame.

Its latest draft report will be sent to world governments next month.

A source told the BBC: "The measurements from the natural world on all parts of the globe have been anomalous over the past decade.

"If a few were out of kilter we wouldn't be too worried, because the Earth changes naturally. But the fact that they are virtually all out of kilter makes us very concerned."

He said the report would forecast that a doubling of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere would bring a temperature rise of 2-4.5C, or maybe higher.

This is an increase on projections in the last IPCC report, which suggested that the rise could be as little as 1.5C.

...

A recent scientific report commissioned by the UK government warned that the world might already be fixed on a path that would begin melting the Greenland ice cap. That in turn would start raising sea levels throughout the world.

There will be sceptics, predominantly in the US, who will accuse the IPCC of trying to scare policy-makers into action with their report.

But the broad international expert consensus embodied in the IPCC will make it harder for the US administration to say that climate change is a problem for the future which can be solved by technological advances.

In a meeting with climate campaigners, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said the world needed to engage the Americans, Chinese and Indians in agreement over a figure for CO2 stabilisation.

But this is unlikely to happen while US President George W Bush is in office; his representative told the December climate conference in Montreal that the US would not agree any targets for reducing CO2.


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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

NYT says peak oil "almost certainly correct"

Better late than never, the corporate media is realizing that ignoring reality does not make it go away. Put another way, wishful thinking is not an effective change agent. Yes, it is true, we float on a planet in space and its resources are limited. Fascinating concept. Sad and incredibly stupid that it is only now that it is being recognized. Some, myself included, believe we have already hit peak. Some, myself included, have been warning for more than a decade that this time would come to our doorstep. Treehuggers and wackos we were (and are) labeled but time will prove that we were correct. The same can and will be said of global warming. Sustainable development has never been a priority of capital and state. We humans have made grave errors in allowing a small wealthy elite dictate public policy. A few quotes from the article:

When President Bush declared in his 2006 State of the Union address that America must cure its "addiction to oil," he framed his case largely in terms of national security -- the need to liberate the country from of its dependence on volatile and in some cases hostile nations for much of its energy. He failed to mention two other good reasons to sober up. Both are at least as pressing as national security. One is global warming...

...

The second reason is just as unsettling, and is only starting to get the attention it deserves. The Age of Oil -- 100-plus years of astonishing economic growth made possible by cheap, abundant oil -- could be ending without our really being aware of it. Oil is a finite commodity. At some point even the vast reservoirs of Saudi Arabia will run dry. But before that happens there will come a day when oil production "peaks," when demand overtakes supply (and never looks back), resulting in large and possibly catastrophic price increases that could make today's $60-a-barrel oil look like chump change. Unless, of course, we begin to develop substitutes for oil. Or begin to live more abstemiously. Or both. The concept of peak oil has not been widely written about. But people are talking about it now. It deserves a careful look -- largely because it is almost certainly correct.

...

When will oil peak? At least one maverick geologist says it already has. Others say 10 years from now. A few actually say never. The latest official projections from the Energy Information Administration put the peak at 2037, or 2047 -- depending, of course, on how much of the stuff is out there and how fast we intend to use it up. But even that relatively late date does not give us much time to adjust to a world without cheap, abundant oil.


Via The Oil Drum.

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