Showing posts from April 21, 2016

Do You Care Enough About Future People to Leave Them a Livable Planet?

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[The global environmental dilemma as a problem of fairness. *RON*]

By Louis Putterman, Evonomics, 17 April 2016

Environmentalism has made major strides in capturing many people’s imaginations over the last few decades. From the concern of just a few activists, agreement that the natural environment is worth preserving extends at least to a willingness to recycle containers and unwanted paper, awareness of the dangers posed by global warming, and worry about melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, and more violent storms. But when it comes to significant trade-offs between our convenience (the door to door luxury of the private automobile) or livelihoods (running industries on cheap fossil fuels), on the one hand, and actions to reduce the environmental costs that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will bear, on the other, how much sacrifice are we really ready to make?

A paper published in Nature this summer suggests the optimistic c…

The 'war on drugs' in numbers: a systematic failure of policy

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[A study published in the British Medical Journal in 2013 found that despite efforts to limit the supply of these drugs, since 1990 prices have fallen while the purity of the drugs has increased. The trends were similar in the US and in Europe. The authors’ conclusion was clear: “These findings suggest that expanding efforts at controlling the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing.” See also: UN meeting could be 1st step to ending global war on drugs. *RON*]

Mona Chalabi, The Guardian, 19 April 2016

The United Nations general assembly has gathered in New York for a special session to discuss how the world’s nations can together combat the global drug problem. Deciding on an appropriate strategy will probably be a matter of fierce debate – but even the terminology to be used remains contentious.
In 2009, the Obama administration said that the term “war on drugs” was counterproductive because it made some people feel as tho…

From shopping to naked selfies: how 'empowerment' lost its meaning

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[The commodification of feminism. The catch-all term has come to denote a watered-down feminism, popular with celebrities and advertisers alike. How did this authentic appeal from the marginalised become so abused? *RON*]

Hadley Freeman, The Guardian, 19 April 2016
Here are a few things I have recently been told should make me feel “empowered”: tweeting a naked selfie; being Miley Cyrus; being Gwyneth Paltrow; looking at advertisements; watching TED Talks;owning my feminism; disowning my feminism; buying leggings; buying designer clothes; masturbating.

It’s quite an exciting time to be a woman, I can tell you. Feminism might not have quite finished its work yet – there are still niggly little things such as unequal pay and female genital mutilation, and, unbelievably, abortion remains an actual issue in the US elections in 2016. But never has it been easier for a woman to feel empowered. Indeed, a woman would now struggle to fail to feel empowere…

EU dropped climate policies after BP threat of oil industry 'exodus'

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[Not democracy; corporatocracy. The oil giant warned that industry would pull out of the EU if laws to cut pollution and speed clean energy take up were passed, a letter obtained by the Guardian reveals. *RON*]

Arthur Neslen, The Guardian, 20 April 2016 The EU abandoned or weakened key proposals for new environmental protections after receiving a letter from a top BP executive which warned of an exodus of the oil industry from Europe if the proposals went ahead.

In the 10-page letter, the company predicted in 2013 that a mass industry flight would result if laws to regulate tar sands, cut power plant pollution and accelerate the uptake of renewable energy were passed, because of the extra costs and red tape they allegedly entailed.

The measures “threaten to drive energy-intensive industries, such as refining and petrochemicals, to relocate outside the EU with a correspondingly detrimental impact on security of supply, jobs [and] growth,” said the…

‘And then we wept': Scientists say 93 percent of the Great Barrier Reef now bleached

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["I showed the results of aerial surveys of #bleaching on the #GreatBarrierReef to my students, And then we wept." *RON*]

By Chris Mooney, Washington Post, 20 April 2016

Footage taken at Australia's Great Barrier Reef shows what authorities are calling the worst coral bleaching in 15 years. (Reuters)
This story has been updated.

The conclusions are in from a series of scientific surveys of the Great Barrier Reef bleaching event — an environmental assault on the largest coral ecosystem on Earth — and scientists aren’t holding back about how devastating they find them.

Australia’s National Coral Bleaching Task Force has surveyed 911 coral reefs by air, and found at least some bleaching on 93 percent of them. The amount of damage varies from severe to light, but the bleaching was the worst in the reef’s remote northern sector — where virtually no reefs escaped it.

“Between 60 and 100 percent of corals are severely bleached on 316 reefs…

Alberta, B.C. discuss deal to swap pipeline for electricity

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[Realpolitik in a country apparently too stupid to process or manufacture anything. Absolutely unbelievable! With luck this will get both of them voted out so fast their heads will spin! *RON*]

Gary Mason, Globe and Mail, 21 April 2016

Multilateral talks are ongoing between the B.C. and Alberta governments centring on a deal that would see one help facilitate the construction of an oil pipeline to the West Coast in exchange for a long-term contract to buy electricity.
NDP Premier Rachel Notley said in an interview she is no longer unreservedly opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline, a reversal from her previous position that helps breathe new life into a $6.5-billion project many have written off as dead.

Both the negotiations with B.C. and the change of heart on Northern Gateway represent potentially ground-breaking developments in the debate surrounding Alberta’s, and the country’s, energy future. They come amid the brutal financial reckonin…