Thursday, October 21, 2010

We Have Met The Enemy...

Down at the radio station I've made Thursdays my day to cover science, environmental and global warming news. I felt it was more effective to put it all together and make it all of a piece. Sadly today's stories all put together create an alarming picture of where we are headed.

 Starting with this speech given by Maude Barlow, a former UN Senior Water Advisor, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and founder of the Blue Planet Project, about global warming and its effect on our water systems.
Half the tropical forests in the world – the lungs of our ecosystems – are gone; by 2030, at the current rate of harvest, only 10% will be left standing. Ninety percent of the big fish in the sea are gone, victim to wanton predatory fishing practices. Says a prominent scientist studying their demise “there is no blue frontier left.” Half the world’s wetlands – the kidneys of our ecosystems – were destroyed in the 20th century. Species extinction is taking place at a rate one thousand times greater than before humans existed. According to a Smithsonian scientist, we are headed toward a “biodiversity deficit” in which species and ecosystems will be destroyed at a rate faster than Nature can create new ones.
If that's not sobering enough, she makes the case that we are in the process of polluting our lakes, rivers and streams to death.
Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and industrial and agricultural waste are discharged into the world’s water, the equivalent of the weight of the entire human population of 6.8 billion people. The amount of wastewater produced annually is about six times more water than exists in all the rivers of the world. A comprehensive new global study recently reported that 80% of the world’s rivers are now in peril, affecting 5 billion people on the planet.
She makes the point convincingly that carbon markets and the like are false solutions which, essentially, privatize the atmosphere by creating a new form of property rights over natural resources. Go read the whole thing over at alternet.org and prepare to be alarmed.

If that's not enough to make you wonder whether or not you'll ever have grandchildren, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) uses 22 computer climate models and a comprehensive index of drought conditions and provides analysis of  predicted and extended droughts headed our way as a result of unceasing unrestricted emissions and warns we risk multiple, devastating global droughts even on moderate emissions path at this point.
Previous climate studies have indicated that global warming will probably alter precipitation patterns as the subtropics expand. The 2007 assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that subtropical areas will likely have precipitation declines, with high-latitude areas getting more precipitation.
The detailed analysis concludes that warming temperatures associated with climate change will likely create increasingly dry conditions across much of the globe in the next 30 years, possibly reaching a scale in some regions by the end of the century that has rarely, if ever, been observed in modern times.
You can go over to ClimateProgress.org and read Joe Romm's post 'Putting the "hell" in Hell and Highwater,' which has the links to a host of articles related to this story.
 
If all of this wasn't bad enough, warming is also affecting our oceans and marine eco-systems in ways that are potentially devestating.
 And yesterday the Ausralian Research Council (ARC) announced in a press release that there's been a huge coral death which has struck Southeast Asian and Indian Ocean reefs which proves the urgency and need of controlling global carbon emissions.
Scientists studying Caribbean reefs say that 2010 may be the worst year ever for coral death there. Abnormally warm water since June appears to have dealt a blow to shallow and deep-sea corals that is likely to top the devastation of 2005, when 80% of corals were bleached and as many as 40% died in areas on the eastern side of the Caribbean.

Climate change is having a dramatic impact on the tropics by pushing their boundaries towards the poles at an unprecedented rate not foreseen by computer models, which had predicted this sort of poleward movement only by the end of the century.

Many reefs are dead or dying across the Indian Ocean and into the Coral Triangle following a bleaching event that extends from the Seychelles in the west to Sulawesi and the Philippines in the east and include reefs in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and many sites in western and eastern Indonesia.
“It is certainly the worst coral die-off we have seen since 1998. It may prove to be the worst such event known to science,” says Dr Andrew Baird of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook Universities.
Go over to the WWF climate blog where you can find more information about the devastating effects that global warming is having on the Coral Triangle which has been called ...the planet’s crown jewel of coral diversity, and what its loss will mean to ecosystems, people and societies.

Mostly War Blogging

Beginning with the continued obfuscation and lack of transparency on the Afghan detainee issue where almost four months after a special committee of MPs was created to examine 40,000 sensitive Afghan detainee documents, not a single page has been cleared for public release. The Tories are clearly working overtime to kick this down the road -- I'd say it almost guarantees a spring election.

 A report from the Australian news site theage.com.au that says the Taliban have ''overwhelmed'' foreign troops and cannot be defeated by military means, one of Australia's top combat soldiers has warned. This in the same week that the Australians decide to commit to ten more years in Afghanistan.

Interestingly the British have decided to cut their military budget significantly while promising to still punch way above their weight -- anything else of course would be unmanly.

In Iraq things continue apace -- that is terribly for all concerned except the makers of armaments. The New York Times writes:
Although there are no firm figures, security and political officials say hundreds of the well-disciplined fighters — many of whom have gained extensive knowledge about the American military — appear to have rejoined Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. Beyond that, officials say that even many of the Awakening fighters still on the Iraqi government payroll, possibly thousands of them, covertly aid the insurgency.
Iraqi refugees forced to return to Iraq because they couldn't afford the high cost of living in neighboring countries such as Syria and Jordan have expressed regret about returning. Some 60 percent cited security concerns such as bombings, harassment, military operations and kidnappings. Geez, why are they bitching? America brought them freedom didn't they?

Seven months (222 days to be precise and a world record!) after the Iraqi elections they are still having a tough time cobbling together a ruling government. The one that is in the works includes Nouri al-Maliki and the anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr is not amenable to the US and they are expressing their reluctance to deal with such a coalition.

In Afghanistan the United States has stepped up air raids against members of  al Qaeda and the Taliban. Last month,  U.S-led NATO planes in Afghanistan conducted 700 missions, more than twice the number for the same month the previous year. It was also one of the highest single-month totals of the nine-year Afghan War.

It turns into whack a mole as the Taliban have now moved into the north where they are now exercising greater influence including collecting taxes on farmers in the northern Kunduz Province - and if the troops follow them there they'll go east or west or back to the south maybe the middle. And there are consequences for the Nato allies in all this as casualties are on the rise.

As for those much awaited Wikileaks release of documents related to the Iraq War, the US government is warning the news media against covering this or any future leaks. It'll be interesting to watch the firestorm when it happens as the US Supreme Court already ruled decades prior that the media is allowed to release classified documents in the public interest.

Last but not least, there's what I would call pretty good and interesting news out in Calgary, where a progressive Muslim candidate has been elected to the Mayor's office. The Globe and Mail describes Mr. Naheed Nenshi as qualified, charismatic and well-spoken, whose career path has set him up well, perhaps purposefully, for a political career. We wish him all the good luck in the world! John Ibbitson describes it as Ken Dryden's Canadian dream coming true.

UPDATE: Omar Khadr

Got a tip from the comments below to a terrific article written by Jeff Kaye over at Firedoglake, called 'The Psychiatric Demonization Of Omar Khadr.' The best bit comes at the conclusion as he posts along with the video of some 8 minutes of the interrogation of Omar Khadr by CSIS officials and asks: ...better yet, review this videotape of an interrogation of Omar Khadr in 2004. Did the young man, then age 16, use the opportunity to "call… to radical Islamists to mature beyond their elemental intolerance"? You tell me.

 Just got back from the station and my interview with Hilary Homes of Amnesty International was not in the archives as they stopped recording late last night while the station manager and programmer are in New York. She has promised she would talk to us again next week if and when the trial got under way so sadly if you didn't tune in this morning you'll have to wait until next week to hear her. I'm sorry and a bit frustrated by this. I did put up last Friday's show if you want to go have a listen -- the Omar Khadr story is covered in some detail as well as stories about Stephen Harper's excuses for failing to get a seat on the UN Security Council (Harper and the Conservatives principles were too much for the UN body to elect them so they chose Germany and Portugal instead who obviously have no principles) and Rachel Maddow explaining the US Chamber of Commerce trying to buy the election for the republicans.