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Man Made Global Warming News

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Initial post: Aug 7, 2011 2:38:53 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 5, 2014 3:13:50 AM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
Vital ocean phytoplankton a casualty of global warming?

A new study suggests that a global rise in ocean temperatures has cut the number of phytoplankton, which are the bedrock of the food chain, by 40 percent since 1950. Other scientists link the rise in ocean temperatures to global warming.

Much of life on Earth depends on tiny plant plankton, such as the marine diatom cells in these photos. A new study in the journal Nature suggests that phytoplankton populations have declined significantly since 1950.

By Pete Spotts, Staff writer
posted July 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm EDT

The foundation of the ocean food chain is eroding, and global warming is partly to blame.

That's the broad conclusion from a newly released study of a century's worth of measurements of the abundance of phytoplankton in the world's oceans.

Between 1899 and 2008, phytoplankton - microscopic, plant-like organisms in ocean surface waters - declined by roughly 1 percent of the global average per year, the study estimates. That works out to a 40 percent drop in amount of phytoplankton between 1950 and 2008, according to the study, which appears in tomorrow's issue of the journal Nature.

Beyond disruptions to the ocean food chain, such a decline would undercut the ocean's ability to take up the carbon dioxide humans have pumped into the atmosphere through increased burning of coal, oil, and gas, as well as through land-use changes, say scientists.

If the findings hold up to additional scrutiny, "that's quite remarkable," says Peter Franks, a phytoplankton ecologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif. "If it's true, there's a lot of bad stuff going on."

Phytoplankton use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen and into the sugars that keep the plankton alive long enough to become another creature's meal. By some estimates ocean phytoplankton are responsible for half of all the photosynthetic activity on the planet.

The trend noted in the study becomes most pronounced near the poles and in the tropics since 1950, the researchers say.

Of the factors the team considered to explain the decline, the most influential appeared to be rising sea-surface temperatures - a trend many other scientists have traced to global warming.
How 'staggering' study was done

The team of marine scientists from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who conducted the study calls the long-term trend "unequivocal."

The size of the change "is staggering," says Daniel Boyce, the lead author of the Nature paper describing the results and how the team arrived at them.

Mr. Boyce, who is working toward a doctorate at Dalhousie, says he began the study three years ago as part of a larger effort to tease out the factors accounting for a significant decline globally in fish at the top of the food chain. Overfishing is one obvious suspect. But changes at the bottom of the food chain also could be playing a role.

Satellite-based estimates of trends in phytoplankton abundance date only to 1979. So Boyce and two Dalhousie colleagues explored the possibility of pushing the record back deeper in time.

The trio spent three years combing historical oceanographic data gathered with a low-tech device known as a Secchi disk - a white and black disk lowered into the water to a point where someone on the surface no longer can detect the pattern on the disk. In the open ocean, the nearly 150-year-old technique has proven remarkably accurate at estimating the concentration of phytoplankton at or near the surface. The Secchi disk results closely match those taken by more modern, high-tech methods, the researchers say.

The team discarded measurements that could have been influenced by factors such as silt from river run-off or by pollution-induced coastal algae blooms. The scientists also tossed out measurements that had been miscalcuated or were biologically impossible.

That process left them with slightly more than 445,000 measurements over the 100-year period that met their quality-control requirements.

As they analyzed the data, the scientists also placed less weight on the oldest data and those from the southern Atlantic Ocean and the southern ocean around Antarctica, because those data were gathered most sparsely and those regions were the least studied over the full period.

After carving up the marine map into 10 regions, the team found a lot of year-to-year variation in phytoplankton populations, as well as regional variations in abundance. But the century-long decline was evident in 8 of 10 ocean regions and was strong enough to offset gains in two others centered in the Indian Ocean.

In effect, warming surface waters have acted as a lid, preventing deeper, nutrient-rich waters from mixing upward to feed phytoplankton at the surface.
Too dramatic too be believed?

While Boyce says the process of gathering and analyzing the information was a challenge, colleague Marlon Lewis says that for him, the most difficult part of the study was was believing the results.

"The toughest hurdle I had was coming to grips with the results," Dr. Lewis says. "We sent Daniel back I can't tell you how many times to redo the calculations or look at it in different ways."

In the end, however, the results held.

For his part, Scripps' Dr. Franks says he remains "slightly skeptical" of the results. The Secchi-disk data allows the team to get pretty good coverage of the oceans over the period. But the less-than-complete data from some oceans gives him pause, he says.

Still, he adds, "given that this is about the only data set that would speak to this issue, I think they've done it as carefully as one can do it. I tend to believe the results."


Lying With Charts, Global Warming Edition

with links to:

Forget global warming - it's Cycle 25 we need to worry about (and if NASA scientists are right the Thames will be freezing over again)

Read more:

Posted on Aug 7, 2011 2:41:13 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 15, 2014 11:44:41 AM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
Extreme weather events costing Alberta millions

Politicians say Slave Lake fire a 'one-off '; scientists call it a billion-dollar wake-up call

After announcing another $189 million in relief for Slave Lake this week, the Alberta government seems to be in danger of becoming a de facto insurance company cleaning up after disasters.

We'll certainly be seeing more disasters followed by more provincial government payouts if scientific predictions prove accurate about extreme weather events.

Forest fires, floods and Mother Nature's chainsaw, the mountain pine beetle, cost the government roughly $450 million a year. That's not including the $290 million in total allocated to the Slave Lake fire. It doesn't include the $700 million the insurance industry itself will spend rebuilding Slave Lake.

The government has understandably been supportive to all the residents of Slave Lake. Privately, though, some officials are worried the generosity may set an expensive precedent.

"We've seen around the province instances where it becomes real apparent that folks should take the opportunity now to revisit their own insurance requirements and make sure that they have adequate insurance," said one official, diplomatically.

Those private concerns remain deeply buried in government departments.

Nobody, after all, wants to look like a cold-hearted calculator in the face of human tragedy. And no bureaucrat wants to contradict political leaders, including Sustainable Resources Minister Mel Knight, who insist that the ferocious nature of the Slave Lake fire was a "one-off" disaster unrelated to climate change and wilder weather.

If Knight is right, we and the government can rest easy. But scientists who study forests and the climate are sure he's wrong. They call the Slave Lake fire a billion-dollar wakeup call.

So does the Insurance Bureau of Canada - and there's nothing more cold and calculating than numbers from an insurance underwriter.

"We are looking at it from a changing weather-pattern perspective," says Robert Tremblay, the bureau's director of research.

"When you're looking at a combination of events that made this thing happen - essentially a dry winter, you had high winds, a thunderstorm was the likely (ignition) source - all those factors combined to lead to the situation in Slave Lake."

Tremblay is careful not to say the Slave Lake fire was the result of climate change, just that the fire was the result of extreme weather - and we are seeing more extreme weather events in Canada and around the world.

Tremblay is leaving it to the climate experts to connect the dots between climate change and forest fires.

Indeed, just two days before the Slave Lake inferno, scientists gathered in South Africa for an international conference on wildfires. They discussed the "alarming" increase of "mega-fires" worldwide, including the massive fires that devastated huge regions in Russia in 2010 and Australia in 2009.

"These extraordinary conflagrations are unprecedented in the modern era for their deep and long-lasting social, economic and environmental impacts," said a report released during the conference.

Canada actually has a world-renowned system for fighting forest fires - that ironically is contributing to the problem as undergrowth, that would normally be consumed by regular smaller fires, is allowed to accumulate and provide fuel for much larger fires.

Also contributing to the problem is where we like to build our homes. "We're becoming communities that want to live in what I would call a scenic location and for a lot of people scenic location means trees," says Infrastructure Minister Ray Danyluk. Tearing out trees to provide buffer zones around communities would provide protection.

But: "People don't want to live there. If you make a buffer, people will live outside that buffer in the tree zone."

Danyluk has also tried, without success, to convince municipalities to limit construction on flood plains. Fire and flood are two of the apparent oxymoronic scourges related to climate change. Slave Lake was the unfortunate victim of both this year.

Danyluk chooses his words carefully, saying he fully supports government help to the beleaguered residents of Slave Lake, but he also admits the government wrestled internally over the financial and political implications of giving so much money to the town.

"It's not an easy situation and I will say to you these things weren't taken lightly in government. The discussion around caucus, the discussion around cabinet, very much hinges around individuals' responsibility, but municipalities are an arm (of the provincial government) and it is our responsibility to the people that those municipalities serve as well."

Moving forward, experts say municipalities should do more to protect themselves against wildfires by, for example, ensuring homes have metal roofs rather than flammable asphalt shingles. The government, though, seems uninterested. Danyluk says the Slave Lake fire was so big and so hot that no fire break, no metal roof, could have prevented the disaster.

He says the government will continue to support people even when they build their homes on flood plains and in forest-fire zones.

"What is our responsibility as a government in all the things we do?" he asks rhetorically and adds by way of analogy, "should we support cancer treatment for anyone who smokes?"

The answer, of course, is yes. And when it comes to the price of dealing with the effects of extreme weather events, it is an answer that will come with an increasingly hefty financial bill for all of us.

Patricia had a previous name which was Al Gore. Her Al Gore was her fictional Al Gore. The real Al Gore is normal. Hers wanted widespread war, widespread self annihilation.

Posted on Aug 7, 2011 2:43:00 AM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
Carbon offsets near record low, worst performing commodity
Fri, Aug 5 2011

By Gerard Wynn and Nina Chestney

LONDON (Reuters) - Carbon offsets neared all-time lows Friday, confirming their status as the world's worst performing commodity, as slumping demand meets rising supply of the U.N. instrument traded under the Kyoto Protocol.

A worsening global economic outlook has dented prices for emissions permits which depend on a robust economy belching greenhouse gases into the air, and has also impacted oil, grains, coal and natural gas.

Carbon offsets have fared uniquely badly because a U.N. climate panel continues to print new offsets, regardless of a widening glut in emissions permits in the main demand market, the European Union's carbon market.

Countries and companies in the developed world can buy offsets as a way to meet emissions caps agreed under Kyoto, paying for cuts in developing country projects instead, but the financial crisis has left a global oversupply.

"If the European economy goes through a double dip (recession) it could be a lethal threat for the carbon market," said Marius-Cristian Frunza, analyst at Schwarzthal Kapital.

The U.N. scheme for generating certified emissions reductions (CERs), called the clean development mechanism (CDM), faces additional problems besides the economy.

Failure by countries to agree a new round of carbon caps after 2012 under drifting U.N. climate talks, has further curbed prospective demand.

The financial crisis has blown off course talks to agree a global climate deal, which now seems years off. The CER market had a traded value of $18.3 billion last year, down from $26.3 billion in its peak year 2008.

Adding to CER woes, the EU has banned from 2013 imports of the most common type of offset, from refrigerant plants in China, prompting investors to dump these.

Benchmark CERs fell as low as 7.4 euros Friday, down more than 7 percent on the day, fractionally above an all-time low of 7.15 euros.

Prices are now at around cost price in developing countries, squeezing margins for project developers such as London-listed Camco, whose shares were down more than 10 percent at midday, and by nearly 40 percent over the past month.

Rival developer Trading Emissions PLC last week pulled a proposed sale of its assets because of falling carbon prices. Its average CER costs are 7.5 euros per tonne.

European carbon prices also continued falls on Friday, to as low as 10.65 euros or by 5 percent.

See below for a performance ranking of various commodities as of 1245 GMT Friday, compared with December 19 2008 when U.S. crude hit a financial crisis low of $32. Change is also shown over the past month.

(Reporting by Gerard Wynn; Editing by Anthony Barker)

Posted on Aug 7, 2011 2:44:22 AM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
Remarks highlight Pawlenty's climate shift

Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's position on climate change has now shifted from "one of the most important issues of our time" to questioning whether humans have had any effect on climate change at all.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Miami Herald, Pawlenty said that "the weight of the evidence is that most of it, maybe all of it, is because of natural causes. But to the extent there is some element of human behavior causing some of it -- that's what the scientific debate is about."

It wasn't too long ago that Pawlenty took a much more muscular approach to climate change. Shortly into his second term as governor, the Minnesota Republican made a big push for clean energy.

When he was named chair of the National Governors Association, Pawlenty had the theme of "Securing a Clean Energy Future." He touted Minnesota legislation that set an ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2015 and 80 percent by 2050. In 2007 he said he wanted the Upper Midwest to become "the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy."

Pawlenty had teamed up with explorer Will Steger, planning a trip with him to the Arctic before he ultimately canceled. He joined with then-Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, in 2008 for an ad sponsored by the Environmental Defense Action Fund that pushed Congress to act on clean-energy standards. At one point, he called U.S. actions on energy "unsustainable" and, in calling for new carbon emission standards, said that "we have an unbelievable and unhealthy amount of our economy hooked to fossil fuels."

At a National Governors Association meeting in February 2008, Pawlenty said, "What you're seeing now is a great momentum and in many ways a bipartisan consensus about the need to make progress in this area."

Pawlenty has since apologized for his support of cap-and-trade and said that his past support of initiatives to slow climate change and limit carbon emissions were "clunkers" in his record. Pawlenty has said that every presidential candidate at one point supported climate change legislation.

At an event with Steger in January 2008, Pawlenty referenced the fact that some people did not believe in climate change. But he said that shouldn't be an excuse not to act.

"Suppose the whole thing is a hoax," Pawlenty said. "The worst thing we'll do in the process is clean up the world and leave a better planet for our children and grandchildren."

Posted on Aug 7, 2011 2:46:27 AM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
Climate-change sceptic faces stage without peers

Scientists are refusing to take to the stage with outspoken British climate sceptic Christopher Monckton during his visit.

The hereditary peer has hit back at the climate scientists refusing to enter into debates with him, saying their reasons are similar to those used by communists and fascists to quash free speech.

Lord Monckton is in New Zealand this week at the invitation of the Climate Realists, who believe human activity has only a minimal impact on the world's climate. The speaking tour comes on the back of a controversial tour around Australia, during which Lord Monckton likened the Australian Government's climate adviser Ross Garnaut to a Nazi.

Lord Monckton told The Dominion Post he was not surprised prominent New Zealand scientists had refused to take part in public debates with him at events in Wellington, Auckland and Whangarei.

He said they had probably realised they would lose the debates, and were claiming they did not want to give credence to the other side of the argument. "That's the kind of thing communists and fascists used to say when they wanted to shut free speech down."

Lord Monckton is not a scientist. He is not charging for his speaking appearances, and the Climate Realists group is covering the cost of his accommodation and flights.

Climate scientist and Victoria University professor Martin Manning said the scientific community had decided not to engage with him because that would mislead the public. The science was done and there was no debate to be had, he said.

"We can immediately see the statements Monckton makes as completely wrong. If you then go into a one-on-one debate with him you effectively say these statements need to be debated again."

The Public Relations Institute is hosting a talk by Lord Monckton for industry professionals in Wellington on Friday, but chief executive Tim Marshall said its participation in an event in Auckland was under review after failing to attract a climate scientist to join a debate.

Posted on Aug 7, 2011 2:48:50 AM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
Arctic sea ice melting at near-record pace
By Randy Boswell, Postmedia New

Arctic sea ice is headed for another major meltdown before summer's end, according to a new U.S. report that highlights the disappearance of thicker, older ice in Canada's Far North and the historically unusual - but recently commonplace - opening of vast stretches of ice-free water in the Beaufort Sea and Northwest Passage.

The latest Arctic ice monitoring data, issued on Wednesday by the Colorado-based National Snow and Ice Data Center, shows the region is experiencing the second-greatest loss of summer sea ice since satellite tracking began in 1979.

Only in 2007 - when a record-setting meltdown in the region set off alarm bells about the impact of climate change and the possibility of ice-free Arctic summers in the near future - was the retreat of polar ice cover more severe than it has been this year through the end of July.

In fact, the latest NSIDC report says the average extent of Arctic ice in July marked an unprecedented low for that month, "even though the pace of ice loss slowed substantially during the last two weeks of July."

Among the concerns highlighted by the U.S. monitoring centre is the disappearance of multi-year ice built up over many winters and its replacement by thin, year-old ice that is susceptible to rapid melting each summer.

"Until recently, the central Arctic Ocean and Canadian Archipelago served as refuges for some of the oldest, thickest ice. However, the new data show that ice age is now declining in these areas," the NSIDC report states.

"The Northwest Passage is still choked with ice," the report notes, referring to the fabled shipping route that runs through Canada's Arctic islands from Lancaster Sound in the east to the Beaufort Sea in the west.

But citing data from Environment Canada, the report says "ice loss in the Northwest Passage is well ahead of average, nearly matching last year when, according to Canadian Ice Service analyses, sea ice in the Parry Channel (the northern part of the Northwest Passage) reached the lowest levels in the CIS records dating back to 1968."

The report concluded: "Whether a navigable channel does indeed open this year will depend on weather conditions through the next few weeks, but so far, it looks possible."

Arctic sea ice typically covers 14-15 million square kilometres at the height of winter and retreats - on average - to about seven million square kilometres by the end of the melt season in mid-September.

With about six weeks of melting still to go this year, the current area of ice cover is about 6.8 million square kilometres.

In 2007, the area of ice extent decreased to less than 4.5 million square kilometres by mid-September, raising widespread concerns and prompting Environment Canada to declare the massive thaw the biggest weather story of the year.

Last September, after Arctic sea ice retreated to an area of just five million square kilometres, scientists noted that the four greatest melts since satellite measurements began in the late 1970s had occurred in the four summers between 2007 and 2010.

At the time, NSIDC director Mark Serreze told Postmedia News that despite claims from some critics that sea ice appeared ready to recover from its earlier record retreats, the summer 2010 data showed "that's simply not the case. It's continuing down in a death spiral."

While the fragile state of Arctic ice is a continuing cause for concern - particularly among wildlife biologists, for example, who fear impacts on polar bears and other species - industry and governments in all northern countries are taking advantage of economic opportunities presented by ice-free shipping corridors and increased access to Arctic waters for oil exploration and tourism cruises.

Later this month, Canadian military units will head north for their annual Arctic training exercises, which have become a summer ritual aimed at reasserting Canada's Arctic sovereignty and providing a stage for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his top ministers to announce investments in Arctic infrastructure.

Posted on Aug 7, 2011 2:50:45 AM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
Arizona is heating up faster than any other state in the lower 48, federal records show.

Alaska and Hawaii weren't in that federal database analyzed by the Arizona Daily Star.

Arizona's statewide average temperature was about two degrees higher from 2000 to 2010 than during the 20th century.

In the same decade, Arizona was among the top 20 states nationally in racking up extremely high temperatures, according to separate new research by the environmentalist Natural Resources Defense Council.

No one knows why Arizona's temperatures are rising faster than those in other states. One possible explanation is the patterns of ocean warming and atmospheric circulation patterns induced by the jet stream, said Jonathan Overpeck, director of the University of Arizona's Institute of the Environment.

Another reason may be the state's dry weather - rainfall statewide averaged about an inch less in 2001-10 than a century earlier. When there's less moisture to evaporate, more of the sun's heat goes into making the land and air hotter, said Stephen Saunders, president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization.

This state's continued warming gives ammunition to experts including UA climatologist Overpeck, who has said Arizona is "ground zero" for the impacts of climate change.

The details:

* Numbers. Arizona's average temperature from 2001 to 2010 was about 61.5 degrees, compared with 59.45 degrees from 1901 to 2000, say data from the website of the Western Regional Climate Center, a federally financed program.

The global average increase for 2001 to 2010 was one degree, says the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, a Colorado-based research/advocacy group.

Of Arizona's two-degree increase, "It is a lot. Plants will definitely notice a change like that, even if we don't," said Kelly Redmond, a regional climatologist for the Western Regional Climate Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

All of Arizona's warming has occurred since 1980, after average temperatures declined 0.7 of a degree in the 1960s and '70s, climate center records show. The temperature changes were most acute in May and July.

As for extreme temperatures, the northern three-fourths of Arizona had at least two weeks worth of high temperatures yearly during 2000-09 that were warmer than 90 percent of the high temperatures for the year, according to data from the Natural Resources Defense Council. Southern Arizona including Tucson had 9 to 13 days where temperature averages exceeded that 90th percentile. Nine is the average number of days in a year when temperatures topped the 90 percent ranking from 1961 to 1990.

* Significance: These numbers put Arizona among the places in this hemisphere with the most obvious impacts of climate change, said four researchers: Overpeck, Saunders and Redmond, and Overpeck's UA colleague Zack Guido.

"In recent years, temperatures have been increasing while precipitation has been decreasing. People are in tune to that here," Guido said. "The Southwest is relatively poor compared to other regions, and our harsher climate causes increased burdens on the poor" who may lack air conditioning, for example, he said.

Other places with clear-cut impacts include the Pacific Coast and the Caribbean, where sea levels are rising; the Arctic, where sea ice is melting; and Alaska, where permafrost is melting, these experts said.

* Implications: The Natural Resources Defense Council and Arizona State University Professor Sharon Harlan said these higher temperatures mean officials need to pay more attention to heat-induced illness and death.

A Centers for Disease Control study using 2002 data - the most recent available - found that Arizona had the largest number of heat-related deaths of any state.

An Arizona Department of Health Services report last year found that 1,485 people died of heat-related illness in the state in 1992-2009. Nearly 45 percent of those deaths befell illegal immigrants crossing the desert, and 43.5 percent of the victims were Arizona residents; the rest were visitors from other states and countries. Assuming temperatures keep warming, other sectors of the population could be in danger, Harlan said.

Arizona, unlike California, has no action plan aimed at preparing people for heat-related health problems due to climate change. But the Arizona Department of Health Services has an emergency response plan for extreme heat episodes. It also has started work on a three-year project, financed by the CDC, to assess vulnerability and educate people about extreme heat. It will target vulnerable groups such as the homeless, athletes, outdoor workers and the elderly.

Read more:

Posted on Aug 7, 2011 3:56:54 AM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
Climate Changes Bring Harsh Reality for Native Americans

Elizabeth Whitman

NEW YORK, Aug 4 (IPS) - In Shishmaref, an Inupiaq village on an Alaskan barrier island north of the Bering Strait, a way of life is gradually disappearing due to higher temperatures, rising sea levels, declining numbers of sea animals to hunt, and shrinking shorelines wrought by climate change.
The effects of climate change may be felt across the globe, but in the United States, compared to the general population, indigenous peoples feel the impact disproportionately, a report published Wednesday by the National Wildlife Federation concluded.

Because they are dependent on it for their social, cultural, and economic welfare, "indigenous people... have a unique relationship to the natural system in which they live," Kim Gottschalk, staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund, told reporters Wednesday.

As a result, "they are the first to be affected" by changes in the climate and physical world, he added.

The average 45 percent unemployment rate among Tribes means that the added costs and damage, both social and economic, resulting from climate change only exacerbate the struggles for communities facing high rates of poverty. Some 565 federally recognised Tribes exist in the United States, which has an American Indian and Alaska Native population of 3.2 million.

In several tribal areas of the U.S., such as Wyoming's Wind River Reservation, and sections of Washington state home to Hoh, Quinault, and Quileute Tribes, and other sections of the Pacific Northwest inhabited by Tulalip Tribes, changing water flow or glacial melting patterns leading to flooding or shifts in river flows are damaging fisheries and agricultural infrastructure, not to mention homes and buildings.

Funding increases urged

Because the future promises the intensification of extreme weather - bigger snowstorms, for instance, or more serious droughts - rather than its mitigation, the report suggested greater funding to Tribes as the most effective means of dealing with the consequences of climate change.

"Increasing the resiliency of public and private infrastructure... can provide a cushion when extreme weather and climate events occur," the report recommended.

But climate change adaptation planning requires significant financial resources, as do programmes to educate Tribal youth who will ultimately deal with the impacts of climate change.

Furthermore, in certain programmes, funding for Tribes is managed by the state, so if a state rejects federal funds, Tribes in that state can only obtain funding if they prove to the federal government that the state is not meeting Tribes' needs - an additional hindrance.

"There has been a history of a lack of funding in order to give Tribes the... financial capacity to participate as they need to as sovereign partners in addressing this global problem," Gottschalk said.

Not only would additional funding for programmes to manage the effects of climate change benefit Tribes, but some also say that Tribes use those funds more efficiently.

Gary Morishima, a founding member of Our Natural Resources (ONR) - a coalition of over 30 Tribes and Tribal organisations developing a strategy to conserve natural resources - pointed out in an interview with IPS that credible research has shown that "the funding that's spent to support the efforts of indigenous communities is far more effective" than pouring dollars into government-run, bureaucratic mechanisms.

The report also suggested increasing the energy efficiency of Tribal houses to reduce energy costs for Indian Tribes, who incur some of the highest energy costs in the country.

Native Americans as partners

Native Americans have lived in harmony with nature for generations, with "a tremendous accumulation of knowledge that has been transmitted and shared" through those generations, Morishima said.

"Interconnection between people and land and resources... is really the tribal way," he added.

That knowledge is precisely the reason groups such as ONR argue for involving Tribes and their perspectives when discussing how to deal with climate change. What Tribes can contribute are time-proven practices that are "sustainable, bountiful and cost effective," Aguto told reporters.

"When you combine this knowledge... with modern natural resources management practices, you will find a highly effective partnership," he explained.

A World Bank study declared that in Latin America, lands under the control of indigenous people are less prone to forest fires than other protected areas. This example is outstanding proof, Aguto told IPS, that giving funding to indigenous peoples is an extremely effective way of preventing forest fires.

Those promoting the inclusion of Tribal perspectives in climate change discussions argue that this type of knowledge of indigenous peoples should be applied in other areas of environmental protection.

Still, obtaining funding for indigenous peoples so that their accumulated empirical knowledge can become part of the discussion is a "crucial component" in climate change discussions right now, he added.

Tribes' way of life follows the concept of reciprocity - one takes resources from the earth but gives back respect and care, Morishima said. Current debates on climate change lack that perspective, he remarked. For these reasons, the viewpoints and beliefs of indigenous peoples need to be considered when discussing climate change.

Cooperation between Tribes, NGOs and the government is essential to combat climate change not only to pool information but also because Tribes are sovereign nations, Gottschalk emphasised during the briefing.

"It is absolutely crucial that they be treated as sovereign partners at nations," particularly when addressing the effects of climate change, he added.

On Aug. 9, the United Nations will celebrate the International Day of the World's Indigenous People. First celebrated in 1995, International Day will focus this year on indigenous designs to highlight the need for preserving indigenous cultures.

Posted on Aug 7, 2011 4:26:22 AM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
GELLERMAN: been more than six months since BP finally capped its runaway oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. But now come reports of a wave of illnesses and puzzling symptoms from some residents along the Gulf Coast. Their blood contains high levels of chemicals found in oil and the dispersants that were used to clean up the mess.
Many who are suffering say firm answers and adequate treatment are hard to come by, and there┬'s a growing sense of frustration with government agencies and the medical community. Living on Earth┬'s Jeff Young has the first part of our special report: "Toxic Tide - Discovering the Health Effects of the Deepwater Disaster".
[HEARING: OIL SPILL COMMISSIONER DON BOESCH Okay, questions and comments from the floor┬...]
YOUNG: When the National Oil Spill Commission presented its final report in New Orleans, commissioners expected to get an earful from rig workers and fishermen worried about their jobs. Instead they heard speaker after speaker worried about something else: their health.
SPEAKER 1: I worked 60 days on the frontline for BP out here. I┬'m sick today, nobody wants to take care of me.
SPEAKER 2: The issue is ongoing; people are getting sick and dying.
SPEAKER 3: I have seen small children with lesions all over their body. We are very, very ill. And there┬'s a very good chance now that I won┬'t get to see my grandbabies.
YOUNG: Some had worked cleaning up the oil, others lived in or had visited places where oil washed ashore. All complained of mysterious ailments that arose after the spill.

Robin Young was one of those who spoke out. She manages vacation rental properties in Orange Beach, Alabama, where she has lived for 10 years.
When the spill started, Young helped form a citizen group called Guardians of the Gulf. At first, the group was not focused on health issues. Then, people, including Young, started getting sick.
R YOUNG: Headaches, I would get nauseous - and these are all things that I don┬'t normally experience at all, I┬'ve always been very, very, very healthy. Then the coughing - I coughed up so much nasty looking mess.
J YOUNG: Young says symptoms started after she spent a day near the water in June and she still hasn┬'t fully recovered. She heard from others in her community and across the Gulf coast with similar problems.

R YOUNG: We have way too many people that are sick with very odd symptoms that they have never experienced before in their life. So there┬'s something going on! And it┬'s all the way up and down the coast and it seems to be in the predominant areas where the oil continues to come onshore.
J YOUNG: A number of people Young contacted sought treatment just across the state line in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, with Dr. Rodney Soto. Dr. Soto says he┬'s seeing a lot of upper respiratory symptoms and severe rashes.
SOTO: Multiple lesions all over their bodies and bruising. I tell you, people are suffering a great degree. The stress level is through the roof. So we are barely scratching the surface in regards to what else we are going to see and I don┬'t think the medical community is well prepared to handle this.
J YOUNG: Dr. Soto says the symptoms, patient histories and, in some cases, blood samples indicate these illnesses are likely due to chemical exposure from the spill. But back on the Alabama coast, there┬'s skepticism about that. Tony Kinnon is mayor of Orange Beach.
KINNON: I would not doubt that these people are ill. But I would say for them to adamantly say the oil spill made them ill - they┬'re gonna have to present evidence.
YOUNG: Kinnon says the city contracted an independent engineering firm to sample air water and soil. And he says local physicians have not reported any unusual number of health issues that might be oil-related. He says he wants to protect people┬'s health and people┬'s jobs.

KINNON: We┬'re a tourism industry. And I don┬'t know if you can remember that old scene in the movie Jaws where the mayor is standing on the beach saying "Come on to the beach, there┬'s no shark in the water!" and, heh, you look in the water and there┬'s blood everywhere!
YOUNG: You don┬'t want to be that guy!
KINNON: That┬'s exactly right. So you know, I want people to know that when I say we are healthy, the water and our beaches are fine - it┬'s because we did our homework.
YOUNG: State health departments in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi set up surveillance systems with emergency rooms and health clinics. There is little in that data to suggest a large number of spill-related illness. But Dr. Rodney Soto says chemical exposure cases can fall through the cracks if physicians are not trained to detect them because the symptoms mimic other illnesses.
SOTO: The diagnoses in their records are gonna be cold, flu, weakness, immune problem, whatever they want to call it. And so the government agencies are not gonna pick up on anything because there is no report or no documentation in the records.
YOUNG: Dr. Soto suspects many people who lack health insurance are trying to treat their own symptoms with over-the-counter medicines. And worse, Dr Soto says, some physicians might be willfully turning a blind eye.
SOTO: And, unfortunately, I┬'m hearing a lot from patients that their doctors are turning them away. They, for whatever reason, don┬'t want to get involved with dealing with this connection of oil to illness. Whether it┬'s litigation, or whether it┬'s BP, who knows what their motivations are. Somebody specifically told me the doctor said "We don┬'t want to see any patients who potentially have symptoms of oil spill, period."
YOUNG: Some of Dr. Soto┬'s patients are having their blood samples analyzed for traces of volatile organic compounds that might indicate oil exposure. Robin Young had her blood tested.
RYOUNG: They found that I had ethylbenzene, isooctane, 2-butyrol, 3-butyrol, the hexane levels were over the top ┬- so the lab even put a big H by it. It was scary; it was depressing. And then I got mad.

J YOUNG: Young┬'s group paid for more blood sampling. The Louisiana Environmental Action network asked biochemist and MacArthur grant winner Wilma Subra to analyze the results. The blood samples came from cleanup workers, crabbers, a diver who┬'d been in oiled water, and at least two children who live on the coast. All had reported recent health problems. Subra compared the levels of volatile organic compounds in those samples to a national database of VOC┬'s in blood compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics.
SUBRA: They┬'re as much as 5 to 10 times what you┬'d find in the normal population. And again, these are chemicals that relate back to chemicals in the BP crude and the dispersants.
YOUNG: Benzene is a carcinogen and is linked to immune system problems and a host of illnesses. Ethylbenzene can cause dizziness and kidney damage. Xylene can cause headaches, rashes and respiratory problems.
But this blood sampling alone does not prove a connection between the illnesses and the oil. It┬'s a small number of people - just a few dozen. Many of the chemicals rapidly break down and are hard to track. And other routes of exposure might be to blame. Benzene can come from pumping gasoline, breathing paint fumes, vehicle exhaust, or cigarette smoke. But Subra defends her findings and wants health officials to use her data to guide further study and treatment.
SUBRA: I think it┬'s demonstrating that the chemicals they are being exposed to are showing up in their blood. We┬'ve briefed the federal agencies on it, tried to get them interested - they are evaluating the results. And I think there┬'s a lot of frustration in the community members across the coastal areas. They are really requesting answers.

YOUNG: Solid answers will take time. There┬'s little in the scientific literature on long term health effects of oil spills. In March the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences plans to start enrolling Gulf spill cleanup workers in a long-term health study. The principal investigator is Dale Sandler, chief of epidemiology at NIEHS. She hopes to track some 55,000 subjects for at least five years.
SANDLER: This will be by far the lrgest study of individuals exposed during an oil spill disaster that┬'s ever been conducted. So we have been moving heaven and earth to make this go quickly.
YOUNG: Sandler┬'s study has funding, thanks in part to BP. The study is a few months behind its original schedule. But researchers face another hurdle that may prove more difficult. Signing up tens of thousands of participants and getting people to accept results depends on credibility and trust. After the BP spill and Hurricane Katrina, trust is in low supply on the Gulf Coast. Here┬'s how Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kinnon sums up the attitude.
KINNON: The bottom line is very few people trust governmental agencies. They think there┬'s this incestuous relationship between BP and the government, and I tend to agree with them.
J YOUNG: And even as Robin Young asks the government to help her community, the plea comes with a note of deep suspicion.
RYOUNG: I hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist - that┬'s what I┬'m starting to feel like. Because it┬'s hard to believe that something like this is going on in the United States and no one┬'s helping.
J YOUNG: Those hoping to find the Gulf spill┬'s real impact will also have to find a way to bridge a gulf of mistrust. For Living on Earth, I┬'m Jeff Young.
GELLERMAN: Our special report: "Toxic Tide - Discovering the Health Effects of the Deepwater Disaster" continues next week with Jeff┬'s report on a key scientific finding in the Gulf┬'s air and water.
KALTOFEN: And that┬'s where we found something very interesting. It was not the crude oil that was responsible for most of the volatile compounds we┬'re seeing, but it was actually the dispersant.
GELLERMAN: That┬'s next week on Living on Earth.

Posted on Aug 7, 2011 4:40:34 AM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
Adapting to New Normals: The Heat's On

Scorching heat continues to smash records in many parts of the country. In Austin, Texas, triple-digit temperatures are causing unprecedented demands on power grids. Oklahoma City is on track to eclipse the record number of 100-degree days in a year, and these high temperatures are only making existing drought conditions worse.

The suffocating heat comes on the heels of the government's release of the new climate "normals." Every 10 years, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calculate the averages for temperature and precipitation from thousands of U.S. locations. These new normals not only provide a glimpse of what's happening with the climate, but also serve as indicators of how a changing climate may affect everything from energy bills to crops and insurance premiums.

As Dr. Heidi Cullen reports, one city in the Mid-Atlantic already is taking the new normals into consideration as it plans for weather extremes.

Posted on Aug 7, 2011 5:08:30 AM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
Climate Change Health Risks In California Expected To Worsen
New Website Provides Climate Health Details For Cities And States

By Ed Joyce

August 3, 2011

The analysis comes from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The group said the Western United States experienced more days of extreme heat and a high rate of drought from 2000 through 2009.

The NRDC said projected climate change will worsen the increase in heat and dry conditions and associated health problems.

The biggest impacts are expected in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

A new web tool unveiled by NRDC lets users read just how badly their states might be impacted by climate change.

Users can see San Diego and California and data from other areas, along with maps detailing extreme weather patterns throughout the country.

The website also shows local climate-change vulnerabilities.

The effects of climate change at the regional and state level is based on an analysis of weather-station data gathered by the National Climatic Data Center and other sources.

The NRDC used the data to create the "Climate Change Threatens Health" website, which lets users see the effects of climate change at a regional and state level.

NRDC scientist Miriam Rotkin-Ellman said the tool allows users to drill down and find out about the public-health threats to their communities from climate change.

"It also gives information on the science behind the health threats and how they are linked to climate change," said Rotkin-Ellman. "Our analysis looked at five different threats across the United States: Extreme heat, air pollution, infectious diseases, drought and flooding."

She said California is one of twelve states which faces all five threats in different locations and in different degrees.

"Each community faces different threats depending on where they're located, what their resources are and what the local weather pattern may be," said Rotkin-Ellman. "The website lets people check the specific vulnerabilities for their area."

A quick check of the risks for San Diego shows the area faces the highest or nearly the highest threats in all five areas including a vulnerability to dengue fever infection.

Posted on Aug 7, 2011 6:16:03 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 18, 2013 1:41:49 PM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
Cape's shape constantly changing, for good and bad
August 06, 2011 2:00 AM

This is the second day of a four-day series of stories, photos, videos and interactives that examine the Cape Cod National Seashore as it turns 50 years old. The Times worked in conjunction with WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR radio station, on the series.

Henry Marindin may not have the same name recognition as Henry David Thoreau, but he commands a dedicated following among local geologists.

Between 1887 and 1889, Marindin led a team of surveyors who traversed the length of what Thoreau called Cape Cod's "great beach," now the Cape Cod National Seashore. He recorded the details of the expeditions in 13 leather-bound journals.

Marindin's work is more than a historical curiosity. The information he gathered is helping scientists predict how Cape Cod's coastline will change in the future.

Using old but accurate surveying techniques, Marindin's team generated beach profiles every 1,500 feet between Chatham to Provincetown.

"They came on the train," explained Mark Adams, the geographic information specialist at Cape Cod National Seashore. "Then they hired a horse, and then they rode out to these stations on the coast and built tripods out of wood and sent rowers out in dories and sighted from their coastal tripod to the dory. They were able to triangulate using these old methods."

Each of the 229 profiles the team created started at the top of a bluff or dune along the Outer Cape and extended approximately a mile offshore. Marindin compiled his topographic data and estimates of erosion rates in a scientific treatise with a title that resonates today: "Encroachment of the sea upon the coast of Cape Cod."

Marindin's survey - which found an erosion rate of about 3 feet per year - along with two more recent surveys conducted by Adams and Graham Giese of the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, has provided unparalleled insights into the evolution of the Cape's coastline, particularly the rates and processes of change.

"You can't understand the change of today without having this foundation in how the process works over centuries," Adams said.

Cape Cod is often described as a flexed arm, but that shape is relatively new in geological terms. Since its creation nearly 15,000 years ago, the forces of erosion have reworked Cape Cod's shoreline ceaselessly.

Five thousand years ago, the Outer Cape looked more like a triangle with the tip somewhere around High Head in Truro. Wind, waves and rising seas gradually wore away both the inner and outer coasts, leaving a narrow "arm."

The "fist" of Provincetown is a direct product of that erosion, growing by the accumulation of sand washed off the Atlantic-facing beaches to the south. The narrowing arm and growing fist, as well as a highly changeable elbow, have been the hallmarks of erosion in recent times.

But Adams said we're entering a new era of change. Human-caused global warming is expected to ratchet up the intensity of coastal storms, making dramatic erosion more likely. In addition, the rate of sea level rise has tripled in the past century, from 1 to 3 millimeters per year.

The pace of sea level rise continues to accelerate. Many scientists now expect the sea level to rise at least 3 more feet by 2100.
That increase could spell disaster for low-lying homes and roads, but it won't affect all areas of the coast equally. Understanding which areas will be most impacted is crucial for effective planning and adaptation.
But a single snapshot of erosion rates isn't sufficient to make those predictions. Rather, scientists need to understand the processes that have shaped Cape Cod over centuries and millennia, and how they will respond to rising water levels.

For the past 15,000 years, Georges Bank has served as a protective barrier for Cape Cod, blocking large ocean waves coming from the southeast. Now, the water over Georges Bank is deep enough to allow those waves to make landfall. That's accelerating erosion at southerly beaches, pushing more sand northward and slowing erosion at beaches up the coast.

"Basically it means that Cape Cod is rotating clockwise about half a degree per millennium," said Adams. "Put in those terms, it seems like `who cares,' but it actually has some really noticeable effects."

Whether or not those effects are negative is a matter of perspective. Adams said homeowners and town planners have good reason for concern, but stresses that rising sea levels rise and erosion don't actually harm coastal ecosystems. Without hard structures there to block its movement, the beach simply retreats while retaining its natural shape and character.

"In fact," Adams said, "if you're on the beach now, it might appear to be the same beach that Henry Marindin saw 120 years ago. It's just in a different place."

With its long stretches of undeveloped coastline, Cape Cod National Seashore is an ideal place to study coastal changes without the added stress of worrying about homes and infrastructure.
"We're in a fantastic position," Adams said. "We can watch it erode, we can measure it, we have this exciting laboratory for change here - a chance to see nature in action."

- - - - - -

Read more about the Cape Cod National Seashore at Heather Goldstone's blog,

Since the mid-1970s, workers' average real wages stopped rising. This was partly because capitalists' computerization of production displaced workers. Capitalists also decided then to move more production to foreign countries for higher profits. Since employers thus needed fewer workers in the US, they could and did end the historic (1820-1970) rise of US wages. However, workers' productivity kept rising (more machines, more pressure, and more skills). They produced ever more for their employers to sell, yet the employers paid them no more. The surpluses extracted (exploited) by capitalist employers- the excess of the value added by each laborer over the value paid to that laborer-rose. The last 30 years realized capitalists' wildest dreams. Yet, stagnant wages and booming surpluses also eventually plunged US capitalism into today's severe crisis. Today's major capitalists-corporate boards of directors- received most of those fast-rising surpluses. How they distributed those surpluses shaped our history. One huge portion went for top executives' payouts. Another portion increased dividends to corporations' shareholders (who, after all, elect boards of directors). Still other portions financed the transfer of production abroad, enhanced computerization to reduce payrolls, and lobbying for favorable state actions (e.g., reducing corporate taxes and allowing more immigration to lower wages). Corporations deposited mounting surpluses in banks. Banks grew and invented new financial instruments to profit further from those surpluses. New instruments included securities such as "collateralized debt obligations" (comprised of mortgage, credit card, corporate, and student-loan debt); "credit default swaps" (deals to insure such new securities); and other "derivatives" for trading the risks of fast multiplying new credit instruments among those with the surpluses to invest. Because the new instruments operated completely outside existing regulations in a "shadow credit system" ever bigger risks were undertaken for ever bigger profits. Specialized enterprises such as hedge funds arose to invest rising corporate surpluses and exploding executive incomes in the murky shadows of high finance. Huge profits were made over the last 20 years, but the resulting capitalist exuberance once again overreached its limits. The financial profits depended on the rising surpluses that depended on the stagnant wages. Financial profits also depended on the flip side of stagnant wages, namely massive worker borrowing. Because rising consumption had become the measure of personal success in life, wage stagnation since the 1970s rendered most US workers extraordinarily vulnerable to new consumer credit offers. Enter the banks relentlessly pushing credit cards, home equity loans, student loans, and so on. Workers undertook a record-breaking debt binge. The banks packaged that debt into new securities (the now infamous MBSs and CDOs) and sold them to all those seeking investments for their pieces of the soaring surpluses. In effect, US capitalism thereby substituted rising loans for rising wages to workers. It took from them twice: first, the surplus their labor produced; and second, the interest on the surpluses lent back to them. This double squeeze on workers was the foundation of the US boom from the 1970s to 2006.

Wolff, Richard D. (2012-09-10). Capitalism Hits the Fan (Kindle Locations 1213-1238). Interlink Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Posted on Aug 7, 2011 6:57:37 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jan 19, 2014 1:43:35 AM PST
Treehuggerę says:
Addressing climate change in Clayoqout Sound

By Yasmin Aboelsaud, Special to the Westerly NewsAugust 4, 2011

The executive summary of Ecotrust Canada's Climate Change Adaptation in Clayoqout Sound says participating First Nation communities are more concerned about ocean and marine environment than the terrestrial environment and forests.

The communities involved in the Ecotrust initiative are Hesquiaht, Ahousaht, and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations.

Ecotrust's program director of forestry, Neil Hughes, says the marine environment will in fact be more affected by climate change than forests, according to recent data collected by scientists.

"The marine environment is going to change quite rapidly and is already changing. Ocean temperature, ocean salinity, and ocean acidity are all changing as more carbon dioxide enters the water," said Hughes.

The climate change adaptation program recently concluded its second phase.

The project, which began as a call for proposals from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) began about 18 months ago, according to Hughes.

"It was a funding proposal, and it was focused on communities and how the communities respond and adapt to climate change issues," Hughes said.

So far, the project has undertaken two phases.

During the first phase, the three First Nations communities provided feedback on their experiences in terms of objective views of climate change, what changes they have seen in their lifetimes, and what is most valued by the communities that may be affected by climate change.

"We spent a lot of time in the communities asking questions to a whole range of people," Hughes said adding that the majority of residents talked about the ocean and the aquatic ecosystem.

Throughout the first phase, Ecotrust used a computer program called Climate BC to assist them with climate change modeling. The program predicts changes to temperatures, rainfall, and precipitation.

Existing data from throughout Clayoqout Sound is entered into the program, which then releases predicted data for a specified time frame.

For this project, Hughes said they looked at the years 2000 to 2080.

"This formed the basis of data that was then used in the second phase of the project," he said.

The second phase involved scientists taking the climate change predictions and interpreting impacts to the ocean environment and ecosystem, including animals, fish, marine life, fresh water and impacts on communities in terms of infrastructure and livelihood.

The climate change model predicted an increase in temperature over the next 80 years.

A warming predicted is as low as 1.4 and as high as 3.9 degrees centigrade, depending on addition of carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere.

Hughes said this will result in far more precipitation in the winter, mostly rainfall, and the loss of snowfalls and frost.

The warming would also affect local fisheries, especially Chinook and sockeye salmon.

"They are really temperature sensitive. They cannot tolerate extreme temperatures above about 13 degrees centigrade," Hughes said. "Living conditions for species like that can become very difficult."

Meanwhile, forests in Clayoqout Sound are buffered against the predicted climate change.

"Although it is going to get slightly warmer, and maybe considerably wetter, it's still going to be in a climate envelope that should be okay for cedar and hemlock," said Hughes.

A main aspect of the entire adaptation project is the vulnerability of the communities. Among the areas studied for the climate change project were community assets, health and safety, food supply, infrastructure and housing.

Hughes said with rising temperatures, current mold and dampness problems in some First Nation communities will only get worse.

"Moving into the future, housing issues and design need to be more carefully considered to prevent mold and dampness," he said.

With the conclusion of phase two, Hughes said their interest now is in setting up monitoring indicators and strategies, such as monitoring tides, and setting up an educational process.

"There's a whole host of monitoring that could be carried out through the region which would be helpful for everybody," he said.

Hughes said he is keen to involve the larger community now that a lot of the ground work is done.

"What remains to be done is to look at vulnerability analysis and adaptation ideas."

"Building houses more resistant to mold and dampness, whether climate change happens or not, is still carrying out activities that are helpful," Hughes said.

Part of the analysis and adaptation idea is diversifying the economy, such as in the fishing industry, in order to be less reliant on just one specie of fish, for example.

"Whether or not things happen, diversifying your economy and trying to create and help communities be resilient to change isn't a bad thing," he said.

Although the INAC funding is not being renewed for the coming year, Hughes and Ecotrust are looking for additional funding to continue their implementation phase in the near future.

"This was a community based project; although we used a lot of scientific analysis to understand impact on ecosystems, the focus of this is for communities. It is a community based impact assessment and vulnerability assessment," Hughes said.

Climate change or no, Hughes hopes the project will positively impact the West Coast communities.

"There are a lot of things to think about to make sure that the communities continue to be resilient and have as good an opportunity as possible to adapt to whatever changes may come down the road," he said.

According to its website, Ecotrust Canada is an enterprising non-profit whose purpose is to build the conservation economy by working at the intersection of conservation and community economic development promoting innovation and providing services for communities, First Nations and enterprises to green and grow their local economies.
ę Copyright (c) Postmedia News


Neoliberalism is in the first instance a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade. The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate to such practices. The state has to guarantee, for example, the quality and integrity of money. It must also set up those military, defence, police and legal structures and functions required to secure private property rights and to guarantee, by force if need be, the proper functioning of markets. Furthermore, if markets do not exist (in areas such as land, water, education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution) then they must be created, by state action if necessary. But beyond these tasks the state should not venture. State interventions in markets (once created) must be kept to a bare minimum because, according to the theory, the state cannot possibly possess

Harvey, David. A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Kindle Locations 107-110). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Posted on Aug 7, 2011 11:39:18 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jan 19, 2014 1:42:27 AM PST
Treehuggerę says:
Russia may lose 30% of permafrost by 2050

(AFP) - Jul 29, 2011

MOSCOW - Russia's vast permafrost areas may shrink by a third by the middle of the century due to global warming, endangering infrastructure in the Arctic zone, an emergencies ministry official said Friday.

"In the next 25 to 30 years, the area of permafrost in Russia may shrink by 10-18 percent," the head of the ministry's disaster monitoring department Andrei Bolov told the RIA Novosti news agency.

"By the middle of the century, it can shrink by 15-30 percent, and the boundary of the permafrost may shift to the north-east by 150-200 kilometres," he said.

The temperature of the zones of frozen soil in oil and gas-rich western Siberia territories will rise by up to two degrees Celsius to just three or four degrees below zero, he predicted.

Permafrost, or soil that is permanently frozen, covers about 63 percent of Russia, but has been greatly affected by climate change in recent decades.

Continued thawing of permafrost threatens to destabilise transportation, building, and energy extraction infrastructure in Russia's colder regions.

"The negative impact of permafrost degradation on all above-ground transportation infrastructure is clear," Bolov added.

Scientists have said that permafrost thawing will set off another problem because the process will release massive amounts of greenhouse gas methane currently trapped in the frozen soil.


many moons ago Patricia (under some other name then)knew nothing of the science. She only knew Crichton's fiction science and her hate for environmentalists. We taught her about greenhouse gases so she went and parroted Michelle Bachmann's lies regarding that. We taught her about Milankovitch cycles, albedo, sea ice, glaciers etc etc. We were always apparently 'wrong' regarding all of this.

maybe 2-3 years ago she had the name Al Gore and started a forum. Her opening rant was as Gore calling for mass killing and war.

mentally ill? probably. a complete fool? absolutely

Posted on Aug 7, 2011 1:14:53 PM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States

Aaron M. McCrighta, Corresponding Author Contact Information, E-mail The Corresponding Author and Riley E. Dunlapb, E-mail The Corresponding Author

a Lyman Briggs College, Department of Sociology, Environmental Science and Policy Program, Michigan State University, E-185 Holmes Hall, East Lansing, MI 48825-1107, USA

b Department of Sociology, Oklahoma State University, 006 Classroom Building, Stillwater, OK 74078-4062, USA
Received 17 January 2011;
revised 24 June 2011;
accepted 28 June 2011.
Available online 22 July 2011


We examine whether conservative white males are more likely than are other adults in the U.S. general public to endorse climate change denial. We draw theoretical and analytical guidance from the identity-protective cognition thesis explaining the white male effect and from recent political psychology scholarship documenting the heightened system-justification tendencies of political conservatives. We utilize public opinion data from ten Gallup surveys from 2001 to 2010, focusing specifically on five indicators of climate change denial. We find that conservative white males are significantly more likely than are other Americans to endorse denialist views on all five items, and that these differences are even greater for those conservative white males who self-report understanding global warming very well. Furthermore, the results of our multivariate logistic regression models reveal that the conservative white male effect remains significant when controlling for the direct effects of political ideology, race, and gender as well as the effects of nine control variables. We thus conclude that the unique views of conservative white males contribute significantly to the high level of climate change denial in the United States.

► Conservative white males are more likely than other Americans to report climate change denial. ► Conservative white males who self-report understanding global warming very well are even more likely. ► Climate change denial is an example of identity-protective cognition. ► System-justifying tendencies lead to climate change denial. ► Climate change denial increased from 2001 to 2010.

Posted on Aug 8, 2011 1:17:52 AM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
GOP vs. Mother Nature
Dozens of proposals by the House GOP would encourage deadly pollution of the air and water.

August 5, 2011

House Republicans, especially those of the "tea party" ilk, think they know the cause of our country's economic woes: environmental regulations. As a result, they loaded up the appropriations bill that funds the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency with dozens of riders that would encourage deadly pollution of the air and water, set back efforts to reduce greenhouse gases and allow uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, among other things. Such riders are commonplace on annual appropriations bills, but Washington insiders say they've never seen such a breathtaking assault on the environment.

If there was any good news from the chaos surrounding this week's deal to raise the federal debt ceiling, it's that the drawn-out congressional debate over the issue distracted GOP representatives from passing this monstrosity. The Interior appropriations bill will resurface after the August recess, but now it's unclear whether the House will approve it as a stand-alone bill or combine it with other appropriations bills into an omnibus spending package; also unclear is whether the anti-environment riders will survive the process. It's very important that they don't.

If a moratorium on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon is ended, as one rider proposes, it could potentially result in contamination of the Colorado River, a key source of L.A.'s water. Another rider would block the Obama administration's most significant environmental action to date, ending plans to set tough fuel-economy rules for vehicles built between 2017 and 2025 - in one fell swoop, this rider would waste billions of barrels of oil, cost consumers money at the pump and worsen air pollution. Other riders would block protections against the environmentally ruinous practice of mountaintop coal mining, forbid the EPA from limiting lung-clogging soot, allow unregulated discharge of pesticides into waterways and delay the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and refineries.

Why are House Republicans so mad at Mother Nature? "Many of us think that the over-regulation from the EPA is at the heart of our stalled economy," Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) told the New York Times. Actually, it was a failure to properly regulate the mortgage industry that caused the meltdown, not environmental protections that have been in place, through economic good times and bad, since the 1970s. Nor are planned regulations that won't go into effect for years the source of our current financial problems. But they do make a convenient scapegoat for those who would rather not discuss further regulation of the financial industry.

Not a single one of these riders should become law, and President Obama should make good on an administration threat to veto any bill that contains them.

Posted on Aug 11, 2011 12:38:57 AM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
Russian forests burn for second successive year

Lack of funding and equipment hampers efforts to prevent and extinguish fires despite pledges and threats from Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev

Only a year ago Russia was overwhelmed by an exceptional heat wave, triggering hundreds of fires that destroyed thousands of hectares of woodland. Burning peat bogs around Moscow stifled the city in a thick cloud of bitter smoke.

Now, Russia is burning again. Since the beginning of this year more than 1m hectares of forest have gone up in flames, or are still burning, outstripping the disastrous record of 2010. But the affected areas are more sparsely populated and far fewer people have been evacuated.

The far north of Russia is among the areas that have suffered the most. During the last week of July, Arkhangelsk and the Komi republic had temperatures exceeding 35C. More than 80 fire outbreaks were reported.

The far east has suffered too. At the beginning of August about 50 fires were raging, especially around Khabarovsk, Yakutsk and the island of Sakhalin. Southern Russia has not escaped: several villages have been evacuated around Rostov-on-Don and Volgograd, where temperatures rose above 40C in July.

In a country that is 97% forest or woodland, fires are an inevitable hazard. But the scale of last year's disaster drew attention to the poor job the Russian authorities were doing to prevent and combat fires.

In 2006 Vladimir Putin, the former president and current prime minister, took the job of supervising woodland out of the hands of 80,000 federal foresters and transferred responsibility to local authorities. Endemic corruption and inadequate regional budgets seriously jeopardised forest inspections and fire prevention.

Last autumn the federal government agreed to a bigger budget for monitoring forest fires, and launched a massive scheme to deal with the peat bogs in the Moscow area. After being drained during the Soviet era so the peat could be used as fuel, they have been left untended for decades.

But the administration's efforts have not been equal to the task. In April President Dmitry Medvedev attacked bureaucrats who announced that plans to flood the peat bogs would be delayed. In a meeting broadcast on television, he said: "If you fail to control the fires ... you'll all be going to fight them in the peat bogs with your own hands."

Fortunately the peat bogs have not so far given any trouble this year. But despite reassurances from the emergency situations minister, the lack of equipment, human resources and funds is often obvious.

Greenpeace claims that the government is playing down the situation. "Official reports indicate 93 hectares of land on fire in the Amur area; in fact it is more like 50,000 hectares, as can be seen from satellite images," says an NGO spokesperson.

The Russian authorities have not so far asked for outside assistance. More than 5,000 fire-fighters have already been deployed, backed by 800 specialist units, some equipped with aircraft. Current, more favourable, weather conditions may make life easier, with temperatures dropping to more usual levels all over Russia.

This story originally appeared in Le Monde.

Posted on Aug 11, 2011 1:10:15 AM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
Michele Bachmann Repeatedly Sought Stimulus, EPA, Other Government Funds

WASHINGTON -- Few candidates in the Republican presidential primary field have decried the federal government with as much gusto as Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.). The three-term congresswoman has belittled the stimulus package, deemed the Obama administration both corrupt and "gangster," and lamented the "orgy" of spending she sees happening in Washington.

The contempt has served her well, helping her craft the type of fiscally conservative, anti-government message that has catapulted her into frontrunner status for the Iowa Caucus and, more immediately, Saturday's crucial Ames Straw Poll.

But it's simply not supported by the Minnesota Republican's actual record.

A Freedom of Information Act request filed by The Huffington Post with three separate federal agencies reveals that on at least 16 separate occasions, Bachmann petitioned the federal government for direct financial help or aid. A large chunk of those requests were for funds set aside through President Obama's stimulus program, which Bachmann once labeled "fantasy economics." Bachmann made two more of those requests to the Environmental Protection Agency, an institution that she has suggested she would eliminate if she were in the White House.

Taken as a whole, the letters underscore what Bachmann's critics describe as a glaring distance between her campaign oratory and her actual conduct as a lawmaker. Combined with previous revelations that Bachmann personally relied on a federally subsidized home loan while her husband's business benefited from Medicaid payments, it appears that one of the Tea Party's most cherished members has demonstrated that the government does, in fact, play a constructive role -- at least in her life and district.

"It had been a longstanding tradition in Congress to be fiscally conservative in every other district other than your own," said John Feehery, president of QGA Communications and a top adviser to former Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert. "Bachmann apparently is being a traditionalist."

A traditionalist, perhaps, but only when the cameras are off. When President Obama crafted a $787 billion stimulus package that included historic investments in state aid, infrastructure projects, health care and education reforms as well as a large swath of tax breaks, Bachmann led a chorus of conservatives in decrying the policy.

"During the last 100 days we have seen an orgy [of spending]," she said of the stimulus and auto industry bailout during a conference in Minnesota on May 4, 2009. "It would make any local smorgasbord embarrassed."

Less than three weeks later, she went looking for her piece of the pie.

On May 20, 2009, Bachmann wrote Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, asking him to look into an application for aid that the city of Big Lake, Minn., had made to "develop and finance the Big Lake Rail Park," which she described as "an ambitious commercial and industrial complex which will enhance economic development and job opportunities in this rural Minnesota community." Toward the end of the letter, she added: "We must work together to ensure job creators have access to the vital credit they need to make projects like this a success."

On May 22, 2009, she wrote Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asking for support for the St. Cloud, Minn., Metropolitan Transit Commission's application for federal funds to "replace twenty-three 35-foot transit buses with compressed natural gas (CNG) powered buses."

On June 4, 2009, she wrote LaHood again seeking grant funding to extend the Northstar Corridor commuter service from Big Lake to St. Cloud.

On June 19, 2009, she made an "urgent" request to LaHood to reverse a decision by the Federal Highway Administration that undermined a project in Waite Park, Minn. The project, she noted, had already received $2.578 million in federal funding through the stimulus package and was "only awaiting the final determination" from the FHWA.

On July 2, 2009, she wrote LaHood again, pleading for money for road improvements in Waite Park. She added that she was "pleased to learn" that Minnesota's Department of Transportation was not going to "pull the nearly $2.8 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding set aside for the project."

On Sept. 15, 2009, Bachmann wrote six separate letters to LaHood asking for help funding six projects (the Northstar line among them) through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. The Center for Public Integrity and MinnPost has previously reported on those letters.

On Oct. 5, 2009, she wrote Vilsack again, praising him for putting money into the nation's beleaguered pork industry and encouraging him to help "stabilize prices through direct government purchasing."

Five days later, she was chastising the concept of government spending in public, saying that the president's efforts to stem the fallout of the recession amounted to a charade. "We hear about fantasy football games. This is fantasy economics," Bachmann said.

That the Department of Transportation was the primary target of Bachmann's quest for federal funds isn't surprising. The congresswoman has a record of trying to protect infrastructure projects from her party's budget cutters, arguing that transportation projects should be exempt from the ban on earmarks that the House of Representatives instituted in November 2010. She was also far from the only conservative who attempted to get her hands on some of the $12 billion in funds that DOT received under the stimulus.

"Some members refuse to take stimulus and won't have anything to do with getting government transit money flowing into their states. Others will say that they are against the idea of the stimulus or federal money flowing into the economy but if the money is there, they are going to try and get that money flowing into their district," said Brian Darling, a senior fellow in government studies at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

But that doesn't necessarily absolve Bachmann from attacks from her fellow party members, Darling continued.

"Some conservatives won't like it," he said. "No two ways about it. They will look at it and not like it because they don't want members trying to funnel money back to their state."

Even more problematic, however, could be Bachmann's attempts to get money and assistance from the EPA, an agency that she once said should be "renamed the job-killing organization of America."

In February 2007, well before Obama was in office, Bachmann co-signed a letter to the EPA urging its officials to help fund technical assistance programs and rural water initiatives "in small communities across Minnesota." The authors of the letter, which included nearly the entire Minnesota congressional delegation at the time, noted that FY 2006 funding for the National Rural Water Association had been set at $11 million.

"We need to continue these efforts in 2007," they wrote.

In other communications with the EPA, Bachmann was far colder to agency policy, criticizing spring 2009 federal management standards for coal combustion byproducts and 2008 National Ambient Air Quality standards. But in other instances, Bachmann turned to the EPA for constituent-related problems. In a Feb. 2, 2010, letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, she asked the agency to support a $270,806 grant application (filed with the EPA's Clean Diesel Grant Program) that would help a St. Cloud bus company replace two older motor coach vehicles.

"Voigt's Bus Service, with Community Transportation, Incorporated, is committed to bringing long-term benefits to the environment and the economy and they wish to accomplish this through the Clean Diesel Grant Program," she wrote.

More than the specific funding requests, it is Bachmann's private acknowledgement that the EPA can facilitate positive outcomes for both the environment and the economy that stands out for conservative activists. On her campaign website, after all, Bachmann refers to the EPA as the "Job Killing Agency."

"There is a line between representing your district and then trying to lard up on all of this pork spending, pun intended," said Bill Wilson, President of Americans for Limited Government. "There are very few in Congress who have been able to stand strong and say, 'No I'm not going to do this.' And they are, in our view, the heroes ... By not being part of that group [Rep. Bachmann] isn't unique, obviously. But I think that she would owe an explanation to the public as to why she did it. Why she asked for certain things, including things from EPA when she's been very vocal about the overreach of the EPA?"

Both Bachmann's presidential campaign and her congressional office did not return requests for comment for this article. In the past, the congresswoman has tried to draw a distinction between the national message she imparts and her professional responsibilities as a representative from Minnesota.

"It is my obligation as a member of Congress to ensure stimulus dollars are spent on the most worthy projects. I did just that when I supported applications for the TIGER grant program," she said last year.

While Bachmann clearly petitioned the federal government for help in multiple venues, she was incredibly unsuccessful in her efforts. Minnesota's sixth congressional district received more than $234 million in stimulus contracts, grants and loans, according to the Obama administration's website. That may seem like a hefty bundle, but it ranks last among the state's eight congressional districts.

A Department of Transportation official, meanwhile, tells The Huffington Post that the federal government did not end up funding a single one of the projects for which Bachmann solicited help. The department did send funds to the Minnesota state government, which in turn backed transportation initiatives in the state. But the DOT official said that only a small sliver of that pool, if any, was likely to have ended up where Bachmann wanted.

In one instance, moreover, Bachmann wrote LaHood in support of the "Cold Spring Police Department's application for funding through the COPS hiring Recovery Program." That program, the DOT official confirmed, is operated by the Department of Justice. Bachmann was petitioning the wrong agency.

In the end, Bachmann's ineffectiveness in securing federal help for constituents doesn't mitigate the fact that she sought federal help in the first place. And for Republican primary voters, who have been fed a healthy diet of anti-government rhetoric during this election cycle, that may prove to be a blot on her record.

"This will come up in the context of the battle for the Republican nomination and it will be up to Mrs. Bachmann to explain these things adequately," said Craig Shirley, a longtime Republican operative. "The task for any good candidate is to explain why they did such and such which might not conform with party orthodoxy, and then pivot very quickly to convince enough primary voters why it is they who should be the nominee and not the other contenders."

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 11, 2011 12:42:24 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 11, 2011 12:50:57 PM PDT
Where's the link with anthropogenic global warming?

The answer: none proven.

Actually Treehugger has not offered any, in his impressive array of anecdotes about extreme weather.

Treehugger may be the new BeanCounter (TruthSeeker). His posts are much more articulate.

See Dr. Roy W. Spencer's book _The Great Global Warming Blunder_.

Richard H. Wright PE

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 11, 2011 12:53:57 PM PDT
Extreme weather events.

Posted on Aug 11, 2011 5:28:07 PM PDT
freedom4all says:
One better buy some long-johns, cold weather is coming.

Posted on Aug 14, 2011 2:26:32 AM PDT
Treehuggerę says:
Tuesday, Aug. 09, 2011
Drought Cripples the South: Why the 'Creeping Disaster' Could Get a Whole Lot Worse
By Bryan Walsh

Hurricanes announce themselves on forecasters' radar screens before slamming into an unlucky coast - all on live television. Tornadoes strike with little warning, but no one can doubt what's going on the moment a black funnel cloud touches down. If we're lucky, a tsunami offers a brief tip-off - the unnatural sight of the ocean retreating from the beach - before it cuts a swath of destruction and death.

But a drought is different. It begins with a few dry weeks strung end to end, cloudless skies and hot weather. Lawns brown as if toasted, and river and lake levels drop like puddles evaporating after the rain. Farmers worry over wilting crops as soil turns to useless dust. But for most of us, life goes on normally, the dry days in the background - until the moment we wake up and realize we're living through a natural catastrophe. Weather experts like to call drought the "creeping disaster." Though it destroys no property and yields no direct death toll, drought can cost billions of dollars, its effects lasting for months and even years. The writer Alex Prud'homme - author of a great new book on water called The Ripple Effect - compares drought to a "python, which slowly and inexorably squeezes its prey to death." (See "El Ni˝o, La Ni˝a, Climate Change and the Horrific Drought in Somalia.")

This summer, the python has gripped much of the South, from the burned fringes of Arizona - singed by record-breaking wildfires - to usually swampy Georgia. Ground zero is Texas, which is suffering through the worst one-year drought on record, with the state receiving just 6 in. (15 cm) of rain since January. At the end of July, a record 12% of the continental U.S. was in a state of "exceptional drought" - the most severe ranking given by the National Drought Mitigation Center. More than 2 million acres (800,000 hectares) of farmland in Texas have been abandoned, streets are cracking as trees desperately draw the remaining moisture from the ground, and ranchers whose pasturelands have gone dry are selling off cattle by the thousands. "This historic drought has depleted water resources, leaving our state's farmers and ranches in a state of dire need," said Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples last week. "The damage to our economy is already measured in billions of dollars and continues to mount."

The South has suffered crippling droughts in the past, from the long dry stretch in 2007 that almost led to water wars among Georgia, Florida and Alabama to the multiyear Texas drought of the 1950s, which helped reshape the state's mostly agricultural economy. But this time could be different - and worse. The driest regions are also the ones that have grown fastest in recent years - Texas added more than 4.2 million residents from 2000 to 2010, expanding more quickly than any other state in the U.S., with Arizona and Georgia close behind. That means millions more Americans are living in rapidly growing cities like San Antonio, Austin and Phoenix that can be dry even in the wettest years. (See pictures of drought in China.)

And there's evidence - when it comes to rainfall, at least - that the good years may be behind us. The Southwest in particular has a history over the past two millennia of megadroughts that lasted for decades. Deeper into the geologic past, dust bowls endured for centuries. Just as worrying, climate change is expected to further dry out much of the region, potentially multiplying the impacts of population growth and the usual dry spells. What the South is facing may be not just a drought but the first signs of a permanent dry, one to which we'll need to adapt.

The good news is that we're not completely helpless before drought, no matter how severe. Farmers will suffer because of this year's dry spell but much less so than their grandfathers and fathers did in the 1930s and '50s, thanks to better weather forecasting and drought insurance. Efficient drip-irrigation farming methods make the water that is available stretch further, and similar conservation methods could work in cities, where Americans waste an estimated 7 billion gallons (26.5 billion liters) of drinking water a year through leaky pipes alone. An improbable model for this kind of environmental prudence is in Las Vegas, where strict conservation has helped water consumption drop even as population has ballooned, owing in part to tough city rules that discourage satiating thirsty lawns and promote water reuse. In parched West Texas, a new treatment plant will actually clean sewage and recycle it back into the regular water system. For additional remedy, we can work to reduce greenhouse gases and blunt the worst effects of climate change. (See pictures of the world's largest refugee camp.)

We don't have to look into the future to see how a society's response can lessen, or worsen, the impact of a drought. Nine thousand miles (almost 15,000 km) east of Texas, the Horn of Africa - which includes Somalia and Ethiopia - is experiencing its worst drought in 60 years. The resulting famine has killed some 30,000 children over the past 90 days in Somalia alone. It's not just the lack of rain that's made Somalia's drought a mass killer. Somalia is a desperately poor country with little infrastructure, where pastoral livestock herders - who provide nearly half the country's GDP - have no social safety net. Worse, the country has been riven by a conflict between the federal government and al-Shabab, an Islamic insurgent group in the South. (Somalia also has one of the world's highest fertility rates - though, sadly, 1 in 10 infants will die within the first year of life.) With al-Shabab in control of Mogadishu, the capital, until recently, it was impossible for international aid groups to help those starving. Drought triggered the disaster, but poverty, conflict and population growth turned it into a humanitarian catastrophe.

Addressing the social crises that exacerbate drought and adapting to the dry conditions that are unavoidable will help, but there might be limits to what we can do in the face of the creeping disaster - after all, we still can't make it rain. Churches in the South - and politicians like Texas Governor Rick Perry - have offered prayers for rain over the course of the drought. So far those pleas haven't been answered, but those in prayer would do well to remember the old saying: God helps those who help themselves.

See "Escaping from Somalia's Famine into a Perilous Refuge."

Posted on Aug 14, 2011 2:47:46 AM PDT
can't wait for winter. treehugger will be posting many long, wordy posts about record cold spells, thus proving the farce of global warming.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 14, 2011 3:00:49 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jan 27, 2015 10:13:38 AM PST
Treehuggerę says:
Since the mid-1970s, workers' average real wages stopped rising. This was partly because capitalists' computerization of production displaced workers. Capitalists also decided then to move more production to foreign countries for higher profits. Since employers thus needed fewer workers in the US, they could and did end the historic (1820-1970) rise of US wages. However, workers' productivity kept rising (more machines, more pressure, and more skills). They produced ever more for their employers to sell, yet the employers paid them no more. The surpluses extracted (exploited) by capitalist employers- the excess of the value added by each laborer over the value paid to that laborer-rose. The last 30 years realized capitalists' wildest dreams. Yet, stagnant wages and booming surpluses also eventually plunged US capitalism into today's severe crisis. Today's major capitalists-corporate boards of directors- received most of those fast-rising surpluses. How they distributed those surpluses shaped our history. One huge portion went for top executives' payouts. Another portion increased dividends to corporations' shareholders (who, after all, elect boards of directors). Still other portions financed the transfer of production abroad, enhanced computerization to reduce payrolls, and lobbying for favorable state actions (e.g., reducing corporate taxes and allowing more immigration to lower wages). Corporations deposited mounting surpluses in banks. Banks grew and invented new financial instruments to profit further from those surpluses. New instruments included securities such as "collateralized debt obligations" (comprised of mortgage, credit card, corporate, and student-loan debt); "credit default swaps" (deals to insure such new securities); and other "derivatives" for trading the risks of fast multiplying new credit instruments among those with the surpluses to invest. Because the new instruments operated completely outside existing regulations in a "shadow credit system" ever bigger risks were undertaken for ever bigger profits. Specialized enterprises such as hedge funds arose to invest rising corporate surpluses and exploding executive incomes in the murky shadows of high finance. Huge profits were made over the last 20 years, but the resulting capitalist exuberance once again overreached its limits. The financial profits depended on the rising surpluses that depended on the stagnant wages. Financial profits also depended on the flip side of stagnant wages, namely massive worker borrowing. Because rising consumption had become the measure of personal success in life, wage stagnation since the 1970s rendered most US workers extraordinarily vulnerable to new consumer credit offers. Enter the banks relentlessly pushing credit cards, home equity loans, student loans, and so on. Workers undertook a record-breaking debt binge. The banks packaged that debt into new securities (the now infamous MBSs and CDOs) and sold them to all those seeking investments for their pieces of the soaring surpluses. In effect, US capitalism thereby substituted rising loans for rising wages to workers. It took from them twice: first, the surplus their labor produced; and second, the interest on the surpluses lent back to them. This double squeeze on workers was the foundation of the US boom from the 1970s to 2006.

Wolff, Richard D. (2012-09-10). Capitalism Hits the Fan (Kindle Locations 1213-1238). Interlink Publishing. Kindle Edition

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 14, 2011 3:08:15 AM PDT
your posts are as meaningless as posts about record cold spells.
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