Friday, December 11, 2015

COP21 & the USA

Much Of The World Perplexed That Climate Debate Continues In U.S.

COP21 site:

Connections of Conflicts

I see a lot of the conflict that is going on in the world as a reaction to global warming, it’s effects, and people’s (probably mostly unconscious) reactions to perceived future effects. This can be seen in the reaction against population control, against environmentalism, anti-regulation in pro-gun advocacy, and with the demonization of those who are outside of one’s group. Nearly everything that the Republicans stand for is in staunch denial of Global Warming and it’s effects.

The Population Bomb was published in 1968 by Stanford University Professor Paul R. Ehrlich and his wife, Anne Ehrlich. “It warned of the mass starvation of humans in the 1970s and 1980s due to overpopulation, as well as other major societal upheavals, and advocated immediate action to limit population growth.” Birth control was not legalized for all Americans until 1972. Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in 1973. The pro-environmental idea at the time was that it would be best for parents to not have more than 2 children - as a way for people to voluntarily participate in population control. While the drastic effects of overpopulation did not happen within the time line that the Ehrlich’s laid out - the effects have been gradually developing. (Detractors use the time inaccuracies to discredit the whole thing).

Anti-abortion fanaticism may be a form of radical denial & stem from worry that society’s concern about over-population will reduce their group and therefore their security. The old idea was that there is security in numbers - more possible warriors, more power in being the majority, etc. Which is not altogether untrue. Such an argument could be reasonably made as long as there are not catastrophic Global consequences. Such an argument breaks down with the Global Warming problem - where over-population / over-consumption cannot be sustained, but will result in mass death and destruction. 

If honest, some might say, but our group needs to the be the biggest, and it’s all the others who should reduce their numbers. And they may intend to enforce that idea with a large military. They had better use drones at that rate.

One or a few small groups could get away with massive consumption. But in the past few decades, American consumption has exploded, and China, India, and many other countries with many more people and groups are trying to catch up. It is not sustainable globally - it would require many more planets and resources. Meanwhile, many corporate executives and stockholders are making fortunes off of the increased consumption of people both within the USA and around the world.

The anti-abortion POV is pushed that ‘we must have more and more babies, we must deny that having more people & more people is a problem.’ I doubt that most anti-abortion people are thinking about societal or group security consciously. But such a POV does explain, what seems inexplicable about anti-abortion arguments, which is the anti-birth control stance. If the desire was to lessen abortions, then of course, people should use more birth control. However, if the desire is actually for women (that is - women within their group) to have more children (for ‘security’, power, or whatever), then, of course, birth control as well as abortion, must be fought against. 

The anti-abortion groups are usually Christian, and generally, the sort of Christians who fight against abortion are mostly concerned about those in their group. Pro-choice advocates have said all along, that it is the people who are alive who must receive help and consideration. And weirdly, this does not concern most anti-abortion fighters. We see this in the reduced taxes on the wealthy and reduced services provided by the government for the needy. At the same time, people who are anti-abortion tend to be pro-military and advocate people in the military getting the help and consideration that liberals would want spread around to those in need. The effect of this is that the disabled and elderly poor, as well as marginalized minority groups, and even women, are left out of the security group. Those who are protected are the wealthy, healthy (men, esp.) and those in the military. 

Anti-environmentalism is similar - with the same people who are against abortion and who are pro-military - radically denying that people should care about the environment. The suggested idea is that people could only care about themselves and we could ‘never’ make the planet inhospitable to life - no matter how many toxins we add to the water, the land, & the atmosphere - and no matter how many eco-systems we wipe out. The level of animosity is bizarre which is hurled toward those who see the earth as an eco-system that life is dependent on, worthy of concern. Also the scorn and derision levied toward renewable energy makes no sense.

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson was published in 1962. “The book documented the detrimental effects on the environment—particularly on birds—of the indiscriminate use of pesticides. Carson accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation and public officials of accepting industry claims unquestioningly.” Since then we have more detrimental effects on people and animals - more cancers and various health problems. 

The Keeling Curve graph has been illustrating the effects of increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere since 1958. During the 70s, many people were connecting the dots that described the effects of fossil fuel use, over-population and consumption, overfishing & erasing of habitats, and pollution. National Geographic reported recently, “A study of catch data… grimly predicted that if fishing rates continue apace, all the world’s fisheries will have collapsed by the year 2048.” It was not difficult to predict that as weather events such as floods & droughts became more of a problem, as over-fishing and the erasure of habitats became more of a problem, that there would be refugees, there would be strife, there would be wars. 

By the year 2100 or even 2050, the effects of Global Warming and the resulting Climate Changes are expected to be drastic. Coastal areas are already having problems with sea level rise. Those problems are expected to get much worse as time goes on, with Southern Florida expected to be underwater before the century is over. We are seeing droughts as a problem in the farming areas of California. We have 1000 year storms and floods fairly frequently. There are often problems that are supposedly ‘worse than anticipated’. 

Many had been anticipating problems for quite awhile. Apparently much of the Carbon Dioxide was absorbed by the oceans over the years - making them more acidic. This will be a great problem for coral and shellfish. It was predicted long age that  the haves will want to hold on to their privileges, the have-nots will try to stay alive. It was be a mess. It will be like musical chairs - where chairs are being thrown out by the thousands, and people will fight over getting one before the bell rings. The wealthy hope that by buying many extra chairs, they will be safe.

Society has been anticipating problems - consciously by some, unconsciously by others. The more conscious ones live ‘Off the Grid’, and practice organic gardening, and encourage native habitats and healthy eco-systems whenever possible. Many (but not enough) live simply - avoiding over-consumption of meat, of mass-produced things, and fuel - even travel. Liberals have been trying to encourage mass transit, and renewable energy, which is sorely lacking in the USA.

The unconscious Republicans and large corporate interests have worked on getting people to be fearful, buy guns, buy Hummers, get pit bulls, think militia-like - and deny that there are any problems with American capitalism and mindless consumption. They also rail against regulations, against birth control & abortion, against environmentalists, and they say Global Warming is a hoax and the International Scientific community is lying. 

It takes regulations to reduce all the problems that need reducing to maintain a healthy planet - whether it’s overfishing, over-polluting, habitat erosion, and the use of fossil fuels. We have too much antibiotics in our meat and our milk. We have poisons in our make-up and in pet food that goes unregulated. The way it is now, you have to be fairly well off to afford food that is safe and not toxic. Without regulations - some groups take so much that habitats are destroyed, animals become extinct, land is worthless for farming and pollution makes (healthy) fishing impossible. Without regulations, some pollute more than the planet can tolerate.

Consumption could also be regulated - so that some don’t monopolize the resources and contribute more than their share to the problems. Here in the USA, most people, and esp. the wealthy, consume much more than necessary. Where once civilization and production grew and grew and grew - it needs to stop growing. Even if corporations can find and dig up the resources, we need to find peaceful ways to shrink, and to do with less. 

We are using so much money, and resources on the Military - emitting massive amounts of fossil fuels, that it is obscene. A strong military becomes all the more necessary by those who want their country to have more than their share of fossil fuels, or metals, & whatever resources they desire - to maintain their lifestyle. The bloated military, USA, makes global warming worse and it makes strife around the world worse. 

One of the things we are seeing in the USA are Republicans who encourage people to be anti-community - if that community includes people ‘who are not like them’. They want to draw a circle around their group as ‘Christians’ and leave everyone else out. The argument is that if someone needs help, they should join a church (and follow the ‘rules’ - not be gay, for women to be submissive). 

Conservatives and some Libertarians have made people who sell hate and divisiveness, such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, rich. The latest is that Donald Trump, hate-monger in chief, is the front runner for the Republican primary elections. The hate and derision that is expressed already make violence more likely toward those the that Republicans see as ‘outsiders’ more likely. That includes violence against the LGBTQ community, as well as Muslims, and even women.

In my opinion, it is the creative, liberal people, who have, for the most part, been working on solutions. It has been the Republicans and conservatives who have been blocking, or trying to block) those solutions (though some have gotten through). We need to be more creative. We need to be more inclusive. We all need to live more simply.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

"Giant jellyfish in 'record numbers'"

From the BBC
20 August 2015 Last updated at 19:48 BST 
Record numbers of "massive" barrel jellyfish have been reported in UK waters, according to the Marine Conservation Society.
The society said the apparent increases "can no longer be ignored", and called for more research to understand what it means.
Underwater cameraman Rich Stevenson took these pictures of barrel jellyfish off the coast of Plymouth.

Jellyfish Trends

Map of population trends of native and invasive species of jellyfish   Increase (high certainty)   Increase (low certainty)   Stable/variable   Decrease   No data / From April 2012

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sea Lions pups have also been dying off of the California Coast

From the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Sea lions desperate for nourishment dying off in alarming numbers on California coast

Each day, dog crates with sick sea lions arrive here and at four other locations from San Luis Obispo to Fort Bragg in what’s alarmingly become a third year of massive sea lion pup dieoffs. And if the trend continues, marine biologists warn, it could deplete an entire generation of California sea lions. One desperate and hungry pup was found Wednesday beside busy Skyline Boulevard in San Francisco, more than 1,000 feet from the ocean.
Scientists say changes in the coastal California Current have pushed fish populations further from the sea lion rookeries in the Channel Islands, where the pups are born around June. And the diminishing number of sardines and anchovies have forced nursing mothers to switch to rockfish and squid. These changes are believed to have contributed to a lower quality of milk and higher number of malnourished pups.
“These pups should still be nursing. They don’t have the skills to catch food on their own,” said Shawn Johnson, director of the center’s veterinary science department....

"New and Ongoing Wildlife Mortality Events Nationwide"

National Wildlife Health Center

"Mass Death of Seabirds in Western U.S. Is 'Unprecedented'"

Picture of a group of dead Cassin's aukletsFrom National Geographic:
By Craig Welch
In the storm debris littering a Washington State shoreline, Bonnie Wood saw something grisly: the mangled bodies of dozens of scraggly young seabirds.

Walking half a mile along the beach at Twin Harbors State Park on Wednesday, Wood spotted more than 130 carcasses of juvenile Cassin's auklets—the blue-footed, palm-size victims of what is becoming one of the largest mass die-offs of seabirds ever recorded.

"It was so distressing," recalled Wood, a volunteer who patrols Pacific Northwest beaches looking for dead or stranded birds. "They were just everywhere. Every ten yards we'd find another ten bodies of these sweet little things."

Cassin's auklets are tiny diving seabirds that look like puffballs. They feed on animal plankton and build their nests by burrowing in the dirt on offshore islands. Their total population, from the Baja Peninsula to Alaska's Aleutian Islands, is estimated at somewhere between 1 million and 3.5 million.

Last year, beginning about Halloween, thousands of juvenile auklets started washing ashore dead from California's Farallon Islands to Haida Gwaii (also known as the Queen Charlotte Islands) off central British Columbia. Since then the deaths haven't stopped. Researchers are wondering if the die-off might spread to other birds or even fish.

"This is just massive, massive, unprecedented," said Julia Parrish, a University of Washington seabird ecologist who oversees the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST), a program that has tracked West Coast seabird deaths for almost 20 years. "We may be talking about 50,000 to 100,000 deaths. So far."

....On some beaches the Cassin's auklet death toll was a hundred times greater than any bird die-off ever tallied there....

Bill Sydeman, a senior scientist at California's Farallon Institute, said he believes the most likely scenario is that the deaths are related to a massive blob of warm water that heated the North Pacific last year and contributed to California's drought and to 2014 being the hottest year on record.

That water was hotter and stayed warm longer than at any time since record-keeping began. It stretched across the Gulf of Alaska, where a high-pressure system blocked storms, preventing the water from churning to the surface and mixing with air. More warm water eventually moved inward along the coast as far south as California, altering how favorable the environment was for the zooplankton that many fish and birds, including Cassin's auklets, feed on.

That all happened in late summer—about the same time the young auklets began to fledge.