tagged w/ Biodiversity
Canada’s caribou population are in steep decline. That’s due in part to the destruction of habitat through logging, expanding tar sands production, and other industrial development in the province of Alberta.
But rather than focus on habitat conservation efforts to protect threatened caribou populations in the province, Canadian officials are poisoning and shooting wolves that prey on caribou.
The practice is not new in Alberta. But the stunning decline in Caribou herds is forcing the Canadian government to ramp up culling efforts around Alberta’s oil sands — potentially resulting in the death of 6,000 wolves over the next five years, according to the Pembina Institute, a Canadian environmental think tank.
Government officials didn’t confirm those figures, but one Canada’s environment minister admitted it would be “very large numbers.”
Environmental organizations are hammering the Canadian government over the killing of wolves, saying that it is proof of the cascading environmental impacts of tar sands production. The National Wildlife Federation released a short report today on the issue:
Two particularly repugnant methods of destroying wolves – shooting wolves from helicopters and poisoning wolves with baits laced with strychnine – would be carried out in response to the caribou declines. Strychnine is a deadly poison known for an excruciating death that progresses painfully from muscle spasms to convulsions to suffocation, over a period of hours. Wildlife officials will place strychnine baits on the ground or spread them from aircraft in areas they know wolves inhabit. In addition to wolves, non-target animals like raptors, wolverines and cougars will be at risk from eating the poisoned baits or scavenging on the deadly carcasses of poisoned wildlife.
These methods have already been used in Alberta to kill hundreds of wolves. Now the Canadian government wants to use them to kill thousands more.
According to a report from the Alberta Caribou Committee, it is very possible that increased industrial activity in Alberta — much of it driven by expanding tar sands mining — will cause the complete collapse of caribou populations living in the Boreal forest:
Boreal caribou will not persist for more than two to four decades without immediate and aggressive management intervention. Tough choices need to be made between the management imperative to recover boreal caribou and plans for ongoing bitumen development and industrial land-use.
The Canadian government agrees that caribou populations around Alberta and British Columbia are “very unlikely” to survive due to decades of sustained industrial development in fragile habitat. The dramatic expansion of tar sands is becoming a key driver of this habitat loss.
But rather than slow this type of environmentally-destructive activity to prevent Caribou (and now wolves) from being eviscerated, the Canadian government only plans to continue aggressive expansion of tar sands.
More at the linkCanada’s caribou population are in steep decline. That’s due in part to... more
If you assume that Bill Gates is so well informed about all his philanthropic targets that you take his word at face value, you would be in good company, but you might be terribly wrong. Organizations well versed in the agricultural issues facing developing nations are saying his annual letter, released last week, is completely mistaken when it asserts that a lack of support for GMO crop development is responsible, in part, for allowing world hunger to endure. We interviewed Heather Pilatic, Ph.D., co-director of the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), to show us the other, important side of the story.
TakePart: In the introduction to his letter, Bill Gates cites the Green Revolution of the 1960s and '70s, saying scientists created new seed varieties for rice, wheat, and maize, and that this resulted in increased crop yield and a decrease in extreme poverty around the world. Do you agree that this is a model to use moving forward?
Heather Pilatic: The Green Revolution is a story that some people like to tell, but it has little basis in historical fact. Take the Green Revolution’s origins in 1940s Mexico, for instance. It was not really about feeding the world; Mexico was a food exporter at the time. Rather, the aims included stabilizing restive rural populations in our neighbor to the south, and making friends with a government that at the time was selling supplies to the World War II Axis powers and confiscating oil fields held by Standard Oil (a funding source for the Rockefeller Foundation, one of the key architects of the Green Revolution).
We can also learn from India, the Green Revolution’s next stop after Mexico. India embraced the Green Revolution model of chemical-intensive agriculture. Now it is the world’s second biggest rice grower with surplus grain in government warehouses. Yet India has more starving people than sub-Saharan Africa—at more than 200 million, that’s nearly a quarter of its population. History shows that a narrow focus on increasing crop yield through chemical-seed packages reduces neither hunger nor poverty.
So no, we do not agree that the Green Revolution offers a promising model for addressing poverty.
TakePart: Bill Gates is urging that more money be donated to agricultural innovation, including crop GMOs, because "one in seven people will continue living needlessly on the edge of starvation." Of course, this argument worries all of us. Will you explain PANNA's perspective?
Heather Pilatic: We could not agree with Gates more on the first point. Investment in agriculture in the developing world is enormously efficient and more impactful on the ground than investment in just about any other sector. It is also true that more people than ever before are going hungry, needlessly. We have enough food to go around now. We disagree with Gates on two points—one scientific and one political.
First, the science. Most of the rest of the world's experts agree that GMOs are not what the world's poor need to feed themselves. The science simply doesn't bear this claim out. Our staff scientist was a lead author in the most comprehensive analysis of global agriculture ever undertaken, the UN & World Bank's International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (the IAASTD). After four years and with the input of over 400 experts, and reams of evidence, the IAASTD concluded that the developing world's best bet for feeding itself in the 21st century was explicitly not the kind of chemically intensive farming that accompanies GMO seeds. Rather, these experts found that smaller scale, farmer-driven, knowledge-intensive, ecological agriculture is one of the most promising ways forward for the developing world in particular. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food has reported that ecological farming can double food production within 10 years. This is the kind of agriculture we should be investing in.
Second, the political—and this cuts two ways. We must finally recognize that hunger is a problem of poverty and access to resources, especially land, not agricultural yield. The solution to world hunger is a political one: stop kicking farmers off their land and dumping product on the world market that puts them out of business; protect farmers’ rights to save and exchange seed; kick the bankers out of food-crop commodities speculation, they're playing roulette with our food system; write fair trade policies; listen to the world's poor, they know what they need...in short, democratize food and farming if you want to address hunger.
Finally, here in the U.S., kick the farm lobby out of Congress and the pesticide industry out of our federal regulatory agencies (EPA & USDA). Together, these two special interests have a chokehold on U.S. farm, aid and trade policy, and dominate our agricultural research agenda in ways that make it possible for a smart man like Bill Gates to believe and prosyletize on behalf of an approach to agriculture that A, the rest of the world knows is defunct; and B, has failed—after 14 years of commercialization and billions of dollars in public research funding—to deliver on a single one of its promises to the public.
More at the linkIf you assume that Bill Gates is so well informed about all his philanthropic targets... more
The biggest trees in the world, known as the true ecological kings of the jungle, are dying off rapidly as roads, farms and settlements fragment forests and they come under prolonged attack from severe droughts and new pests and diseases.
Big trees may comprise less than 2% of the trees in any forest but they can contain 25% of the total biomass and are vital for the health of the whole forest. Credit: us-parks.com
Long-term studies in Amazonia, Africa and Central America show that while these botanical behemoths may have adapted successfully to centuries of storms, pests and short-term climatic extremes, they are counter-intuitively more vulnerable than other trees to today's threats.
"Fragmentation of the forests is now disproportionately affecting the big trees," said William Laurance, a research professor at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia. "Not only do many more trees die near forest edges, but a higher proportion of the trees dying were the big trees.
"Their tall stature and relatively thick, inflexible trunks, may make them especially prone to uprooting and breakage near forest edges where wind turbulence is increased," Laurance said in this week's New Scientist magazine.
Big trees may comprise less than 2% of the trees in any forest but they can contain 25% of the total biomass and are vital for the health of whole forests because they seed large areas. "With their tall canopies basking in the sun, big trees capture vast amounts of energy. This allows them to produce massive crops of fruits, flowers and foliage that sustain much of animal life in the forests. Their canopies help moderate the local forest environment while their understory creates a unique habitat for other plants and animals," Laurance said.
"Only a small number of tree species have the genetic capacity to grow really big. To grow into giants, trees need good growing conditions, lots of time and the right place to establish their seedlings. Disrupt any one of these and you lose them."
In some parts of the world, Laurance said, populations of big trees are dwindling because their seedlings cannot survive or grow. "In southern India an aggressive shrub is invading the understorey of many forests, preventing seedlings from dropping on the floor. With no young trees to replace them, it's only a matter of time before most of the big trees disappear."
According to Laurance, it is not just the biggest trees in the world that are suffering, but also the biggest in their communities. Dutch elm disease killed off many of the stateliest trees in Britain in the 1960s and 70s, and new exotic organisms and bacterial infections, often brought in from other continents via garden centers, are threatening oak, ash and other species.
Longer lasting and more intense droughts, which are becoming more frequent in many tropical areas with climate change, are also taking their toll. Studies in Puerto Rico and Costa Rica suggest that big trees also suffer more in droughts than most other organisms.
"In rainforests droughts promote surface fires that burn through leaf litter on the forest floor. Larger trees were initially thought to survive these fires but, in fact, many die two to three years later. In cloud forests, big trees use their branches and crowns to rake the mist and capture water droplets. Global warming could push clouds up to higher elevations depriving them of sources of moisture," Laurance said.
"The danger is that the oldest, largest trees will progressively die off and not be replaced. Alarmingly, this might trigger a 'positive feedback' that could destabilize the climate: as older trees die, forests would release their stored carbon, prompting a vicious circle of further warming and forest shrinkage."
more at the linkThe biggest trees in the world, known as the true ecological kings of the jungle, are... more
If you happened to be walking around Lower Manhattan this morning, you might have noticed the anti-Monsanto chants echoing from Foley Square. In a protesting trifecta, Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Big Food, and Food Democracy Now joined forces to support family farmers as the first phase of their federal court case against food industry giant Monsanto. The crowd of around 200 people included farmers from as far away as Maine as well as local food activists and chefs.
The case against Monsanto (Organic Seed Growers Trade Association et al. v. Monsanto) aims to protect farmers against aggressive lawsuit and crop contamination from Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds. Organic and non-GMO crops can be severely damaged by the introduction of GMO seeds and farmers whose crops have been infiltrated are vulnerable to lawsuits from Monsanto who owns a vast majority of the genetics on commodity crops such as corn, soybeans and cotton.
Farmers’ fear of being sued by the multi-billion dollar company is not unfounded. According to Monsanto, since 1997, it has filed 145 lawsuits against farmers and settled 700 other disputes out of court.
Today in Federal District Court in Manhattan, Judge Naomi Buchwald will hear complaints from farmers and determine whether or not their case against Monsanto will move forward. Protestor and organic farmer Deb Taft of Mobius Fields in Westchester, New York said she was “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome of this morning's hearings.
Many protestors felt it was an accomplishment in itself that the case has made it to Federal District Court. An unnamed protestor and chef at a local private school said he came out to stand with farmers who finally got their day in court. He has been wary of Monsanto since the mid 1980s, when the issues of genetically modified organisms were mostly talk, rather than reality.
While all of the protestors united around their distrust of and frustration with Monsanto, their specific reasons for being there were varied. Some were concerned with the lack of seed choice now that Monsanto has put many local providers out of business while others were concerned with Monsanto’s global presence (Monsanto is currently being sued for biopiracy in India).
Protestors pointed to a long history of infractions on the part of Monsanto, which they demonstrated by creating a human timeline of the company’s history. Monsanto genetically modified its first plant in 1982, but the company’s story goes back to the beginning of the 20th century. John Francis Queeny, a pharmaceutical industry veteran, founded the company in 1901 and in 1902 Monsanto sold its first product to Coca-Cola — saccharin, the artificial sweetener that has been linked to cancer. Protestors this morning also referenced Monsanto's role as one of the companies that manufactured Agent Orange, an herbicide used by the U.S. Army in Vietnam that has been proven to caues severe health damage and birth defects.
But the protestors main focus today was the effect that that GMOs have on biodiversity and farmer livelihood. Andrew Faust, a permaculture teacher and founder of The Center for Bioregional Living in Ellenville, New York, urged consumers to use their buying power to boycott Monsanto products. Currently, advocacy groups working under the slogan “Right to Know” are lobbying for GMO labeling, which is already required in the European Union and China, and which Monsanto is fighting against.
According to a tweet from someone present in the courtroom, the judge will give her ruling on this morning’s hearings, which ended around 11:30 am, by March 31st. Those interested in supporting the farmers' cause can sign Food Democracy Now!’s pledge to support America’s farmers and donate to the Right to Know campaign.
More at the linkIf you happened to be walking around Lower Manhattan this morning, you might have... more
The ocean is a delicate place, and tiny changes to its composition can cause serious devastation.
Adding carbon to the atmosphere contributes to global warming and climate change. Another less-discussed impact is ocean acidification—whereby carbon molecules diffuse into the ocean from the atmosphere, causing a steady rise in acidity—even though the impacts are already being felt by many species.
The beautiful blue sea slug, seen here, is one such creature. Blue sea slugs feed on the poisonous Portuguese man of war jellyfish, meaning that an ocean without them would be an ocean with a lot more stinging jellyfish.
This is 1: Blue Sea Slug
More at the link
The link to humans and the food chain each of these species represents should make people understand just how acidification is affecting us as well.The ocean is a delicate place, and tiny changes to its composition can cause serious... more
Bill Gates is one very confused billionaire philanthropist.
He understands global warming is a big problem — indeed, his 2012 Foundation Letter even frets about the grave threat it poses to food security. But he just doesn’t want to do very much now to stop it from happening (see Pro-geoengineering Bill Gates disses efficiency, “cute” solar, deployment — still doesn’t know how he got rich).
He love technofixes like geoengineering and, as we’ll see, genetically modified food. Rather than investing in cost-effective emissions reduction strategies today or in renewable energy technologies that are rapidly moving down the cost curve, he explains that the reason invests so much in nuclear R&D is “The good news about nuclear is that there has hardly been any innovation.” Seriously!
His Letter includes the ominous chart at the top, and he warns of the dire consequences of climate change:
Meanwhile, the threat of climate change is becoming clearer. Preliminary studies show that the rise in global temperature alone could reduce the productivity of the main crops by over 25 percent. Climate change will also increase the number of droughts and floods that can wipe out an entire season of crops. More and more people are raising familiar alarms about whether the world will be able to support itself in the future, as the population heads toward a projected 9.3 billion by 2050.
And yet, as the AP reported this week, the wealthiest of all Americans gets very prickly if you don’t wholeheartedly endorse his techno-fix adaptation-centric approach to dealing with this oncoming disaster:
Bill Gates has a terse response to criticism that the high-tech solutions he advocates for world hunger are too expensive or bad for the environment: Countries can embrace modern seed technology and genetic modification or their citizens will starve….
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent about $2 billion in the past five years to fight poverty and hunger in Africa and Asia, and much of that money has gone toward improving agricultural productivity.Gates doesn’t apologize for his endorsement of modern agriculture or sidestep criticism of genetic modification. He told The Associated Press that he finds it ironic that most people who oppose genetic engineering in plant breeding live in rich nations that he believes are responsible for global climate change that will lead to more starvation and malnutrition for the poor.
Resistance to new technology is “again hurting the people who had nothing to do with climate change happening,” Gates said.
The real irony is that most people who diss efficiency and renewables and aggressive greenhouse gas mitigation, like Gates, live in rich nations that are responsible for global climate change that will lead to more starvation and malnutrition for the poor.
Where is the story that says, “countries to embrace existing technology to reduce emissions or their citizens will starve” or resistance to aggressive low carbon technology deployment is “again hurting the people who had nothing to do with climate change happening”?
This is not a blog on genetic modification, so I’ll just quote the AP story:
Bill Freese, a science policy analyst for the Washington-based Center for Food Safety, said everyone wants to see things get better for hungry people, but genetically modified plants are more likely to make their developers rich than feed the poor. The seed is too expensive and has a high failure rate, he said. Better ways to increase yields would be increasing the fertility of soil by adding organic matter or combining plants growing in the same field to combat pests, he said.
The biggest problem with those alternatives, Freese said, is the same one that Gates cited in high-tech research: A lack of money for development.
But the fact is, as Oxfam and others have made clear, global warming is poised to make food vastly more expensive, which will be devastating to the world’s poor know matter how much money Gates dumps into GM crops — see Oxfam Predicts Climate Change will Help Double Food Prices by 2030: “We Are Turning Abundance into Scarcity”:
More at the linkBill Gates is one very confused billionaire philanthropist.
He understands global... more
U.S. biotech firm Monsanto said on Tuesday it does not plan to sell its genetically modified maize MON810 in France this year, nor after, even though the country's highest court overturned a 3-year ban in November.
"Monsanto considers that favorable conditions for the sale of the MON810 in France in 2012 and beyond are not in place," the company said in a statement, adding that it had told the French authorities about its intentions.
The French government said earlier this month it would uphold its ban on the insect-resistant strain of maize, despite the court's decision to annul the ban after finding that it had not produced enough evidence that Monsanto's MON810 posed a significant risk to health or the environment.
The farm ministry said France would reintroduce its moratorium on MON810 maize (corn) before spring sowings start.
Monsanto's statement follows an action by anti-GMO activists in one of its plants in southwestern France on Tuesday. They said Monsanto was about to sell MON810 to French farmers ahead of sowings whereas the U.S. firm said GMO seeds stored at some of its French plants were aimed at export markets.
Genetically modified organism (GMO) crops are widely used in countries such as the United States and Brazil but consumers in France, the EU's largest grain producer, are among the staunchest biotech skeptics.
Monsanto, which stressed that it had not sold nor tested MON810 in France since 2008, said that as long as the political climate remained unfavorable it would limit its offer to non-GMO seeds.
More at the linkU.S. biotech firm Monsanto said on Tuesday it does not plan to sell its genetically... more
By 2100, global climate change will modify plant communities covering almost half of Earth's land surface and will drive the conversion of nearly 40 percent of land-based ecosystems from one major ecological community type - such as forest, grassland or tundra - toward another, according to a new NASA and university computer modeling study.
Researchers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif., investigated how Earth's plant life is likely to react over the next three centuries as Earth's climate changes in response to rising levels of human-produced greenhouse gases. Study results are published in the journal Climatic Change.
The model projections paint a portrait of increasing ecological change and stress in Earth's biosphere, with many plant and animal species facing increasing competition for survival, as well as significant species turnover, as some species invade areas occupied by other species.
Most of Earth's land that is not covered by ice or desert is projected to undergo at least a 30 percent change in plant cover - changes that will require humans and animals to adapt and often relocate.
In addition to altering plant communities, the study predicts climate change will disrupt the ecological balance between interdependent and often endangered plant and animal species, reduce biodiversity and adversely affect Earth's water, energy, carbon and other element cycles.
"For more than 25 years, scientists have warned of the dangers of human-induced climate change," said Jon Bergengren, a scientist who led the study while a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech.
"Our study introduces a new view of climate change, exploring the ecological implications of a few degrees of global warming. While warnings of melting glaciers, rising sea levels and other environmental changes are illustrative and important, ultimately, it's the ecological consequences that matter most."
When faced with climate change, plant species often must "migrate" over multiple generations, as they can only survive, compete and reproduce within the range of climates to which they are evolutionarily and physiologically adapted.
While Earth's plants and animals have evolved to migrate in response to seasonal environmental changes and to even larger transitions, such as the end of the last ice age, they often are not equipped to keep up with the rapidity of modern climate changes that are currently taking place.
Human activities, such as agriculture and urbanization, are increasingly destroying Earth's natural habitats, and frequently block plants and animals from successfully migrating.
More at the linkBy 2100, global climate change will modify plant communities covering almost half of... more
A week of Occupy Wall Street Maui events kick off today with the establishment of an encampment near the Monsanto offices in Kihei.
A series of marches, rallies and vigils are planned throughout the week as the group expresses their concerns over herbicide use, production of GMO products, and arguments of impacts on small farmers.
An event flyer makes claims of food supply control, government manipulation and environmental poisons.
Monsanto Hawaii Community Affairs Director, Paul Koehler responded to the planned demonstrations saying that while the company respects everyone's right to voice their opinion, he said, "It's unfortunate that a number of misleading and factually incorrect statements about Monsanto and genetically engineered crops continue to circulate."
Koehler said Monsanto Hawaii is working with the Police Department to ensure safety of all during the planned Occupy events. "Our number one concern," he said, "is for the safety of everyone involved, including that of drivers passing by on the highway, pedestrians, our employees and the demonstrators."
More at the linkA week of Occupy Wall Street Maui events kick off today with the establishment of an... more
This is why activism matters.
Six months ago, the Obama Administration was set to approve one of the single most environmentally disastrous fossil fuel projects imaginable.
Today, it's dead.
The Keystone XL pipeline - designed to bring filthy tar sands oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas so that oil companies can profit by selling the oil overseas - was dealt a severe setback Wednesday when President Obama said no to an election year blackmail threat by the American Petroleum Institute and its lackeys in Congress.
But President Obama didn't reject Keystone XL because he wanted to. Or because he thought it was the right thing to do. Or because he thought it would help his reelection campaign. He rejected it because you made him do it.
It's a victory for activists. But because the President rejected the pipeline on a narrow technicality,1 in no way has he set down a clear marker against the pipeline or the carbon bomb that burning Canadian tar sands oil in China represents.
We want to thank the many groups and thousands of activists, who, following the inspiring call of Bill McKibben, joined us in putting massive public pressure on the President. In fact, CREDO waged the single largest activism campaign in our history.2
It was this pressure that forced President Obama to initially delay the decision in November. And it was this pressure, combined with the Republicans' overzealous and irresponsible demand of a 60-day deadline that forced him to reject the pipeline permit.
Our pressure overcame the lies and propaganda of Republicans and oil giants, and their threats of massive political consequences if he didn't approve it.
Rejecting this pipeline was the right thing to do. But by rejecting it purely on a technicality, there are many things President Obama did not do:
•He did not close the door to this pipeline once and for all. In fact, he specifically opened the door to the southern portion of Keystone XL, which would allow this oil to be exported overseas -- the real reason TransCanada wanted Keystone XL in the first place.
•He did not explain the imperative of stopping not just this project, but others that will expedite disastrous warming. Just the opposite -- he touted the need to expand oil and gas drilling and made no mention of clean energy.
•He did not refute the lies of Republicans and polluters, whose biggest "jobs plan" is a foreign oil pipeline whose chief purpose is to export oil overseas.
The time to lead us away from dirty fuels and prevent escalating global catastrophes from climate change is here. And President Obama still can.
Tell President Obama: It's time to lead on climate. Make the case in your State of the Union Address.
Until President Obama makes a clear and compelling case to the American people for sweeping action to reduce our dependence on any and all fossil fuels, the pace of our transition will remain slower than what is required to stem the onrushing danger of climate pollution.
Until he refutes the false choice presented by Big Oil and Republicans -- that we must choose between a clean energy future and a stable economy - he empowers and remains vulnerable to their attacks.
Until he shows his commitment to clean energy over dirty fossil fuels, the energy of progressive activists will be spent fighting individual bad decisions, instead of pushing to support needed progressive policies.
And ultimately, until President Obama takes the opportunity for a true moment of leadership that publicly raises the stakes on the fight to stabilize our climate, the State of our Union will remain deeply clouded.
More at the linkThis is why activism matters.
Six months ago, the Obama Administration was set to... more
Pictures: "Extinct" Monkeys With Sideburns Found in Borneo
Miller's grizzled langur
Photograph courtesy Eric Fell
A Miller's grizzled langur pauses while drinking water from a mineral spring, or sepan, in 2011. Feared extinct, the monkey species has been "rediscovered" on the Indonesian island of Borneo, a new study says.
Scientists stumbled onto several of the primates last year during a biodiversity survey of the Wehea Forest, a 98,000-acre (40,000-hectare) habitat in Indonesia's East Kalimantan Province (map). Previously known to live only in a small area along East Kalimantan's central coast, the Wehea discovery extends the species' range.
Numbers of the 13-pound (6-kilogram) langur—known for its white, bristly beard and sideburns—had declined in the animal's coastal habitat due to deforestation, hunting, and large human-caused fires in the 1990s. Later surveys turned up no evidence of the monkey.
"I've been working [in Wehea] for four years—I study primates, and I've never seen it" until now, said study co-author Stephanie Spehar, a primatologist at the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh. "The fact we found it did come as a big surprise to all of us."
Particularly exciting was that an independent survey team led by study co-author Brent Loken of Ethical Expeditions simultaneously spotted the langurs in another part of the forest. This suggests there are at least two healthy populations and not just an isolated group, said Spehar, whose study appears this month in the American Journal of Primatology.
"We were thrilled when we met up and showed each other our photos," she said.
Published January 20, 2012
Pictures: "Extinct" Monkeys With Sideburns... more
Protests Outside Monsanto 2012 Annual Meeting Planned
Shareholder's Resolution Would Require Chemical Giant to Study Risks of its Genetically Engineered Crops
ST. LOUIS, Jan. 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Tuesday, January 24 at 1:30 PM, Monsanto officers and shareholders will vote on a shareholder proposal to create a study of "material financial risks or operational impacts" associated with its chemical products and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The proposal represents one of the strongest signals to date that the biotech food conglomerate is facing growing consumer, legal, and regulatory uncertainties. As of today, however Monsanto has told John Harrington that they will not recognize his proxy who would speak on behalf of the resolution for only three minutes under normal circumstances.
The meeting itself is only open to shareholders but concerned citizens will be demonstrating outside the northeast entrance to Monsanto's Lindberg campus beginning at 12:00 noon. Monsanto Headquarters is located at 800 North Lindberg Boulevard in St. Louis, MO.
Adam Eidinger, an organic food activist who recently led a walk from NY to Washington DC on behalf of honest food labeling, will present the shareholder resolution on behalf of Napa, California based Harrington Investments (HII) with help from the Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA).
Eidinger will be available for interview before and after the shareholder meeting, which he will drive a "Label GMO" art car to attend. Representatives from HII and PANNA will be also available for interview before and after the shareholder meeting. Eidinger's written testimony is available by request.
In its statement recommending shareholders to vote against the HII resolution, Monsanto management stated that, "Farmers should have the freedom to choose which production method is best suited for their needs, whether organic, non-GM conventional or biotechnology traits. All of these systems can and do work effectively side by side…"
John Harrington, CEO of Harrington Investments questions the veracity of Monsanto's statement: "While I am heartened by Monsanto's sudden concern for the freedom of farmers, the unfortunate reality facing American farmers right now, is that genetic drift from GMO crops is contaminating their conventional and organic crops. This can be disastrous because many GMO crops cannot be sold to important markets, such as Europe, China and Japan. The potential legal implications for Monsanto are staggering."
More at the linkProtests Outside Monsanto 2012 Annual Meeting Planned
Shareholder's Resolution... more
By Bill Walker
Today’s decision by President Obama to reject, at least temporarily, the permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline — which would carry the most climate-wrecking crude oil on Earth from Canada’s tar sands to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast — is unquestionably good news. But by itself it won’t stop tar sands oil from flowing, or even keep it out of the United States.
This is not yet the death knell for the pipeline. Initial reports say TransCanada Pipelines may be allowed to reapply after a new route is selected that doesn’t endanger the Ogallala Aquifer, a vital source of fresh water for the Great Plains. TransCanada says it’s already got the new route picked out, although moving forward would require a lengthy environmental review process. And in the Senate, pipeline boosters are hatching a plan to hand the final decision back to Congress by invoking its power to regulate commerce with other nations.
But as the decision has been publicly framed, it’s always been a red herring.
Despite proponents’ claims, Keystone XL is not about the U.S. ensuring a secure supply of oil from a friendly neighbor, or creating construction jobs — a report by the Cornell Global Labor Institute says it would kill more jobs than it creates. Neither is it, strictly speaking, about keeping the oil in the ground, which NASA climate scientist James Hansen says is the difference between keeping alive any hope of stabilizing the climate or “game over.”
Existing pipelines already bring about 1.5 million barrels of tar sands crude a day to the U.S., making Canada — not OPEC, as many people believe — the nation’s No. 1 source of oil. Keystone XL would actually be an extension of an existing line that carries tar sands oil as far as Oklahoma. From there, most of it goes to Midwestern refineries. With Keystone XL’s approval now more in doubt, other companies are proposing smaller projects to carry tar sands oil from Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast. Increasingly, oil is also moving by tanker truck or rail — not as efficient as pipelines, but still profitable as oil gets more scarce and expensive.
Why is reaching the Gulf Coast so important to tar sands producers? Because oil from Keystone XL was never destined for Americans’ gas tanks. From massive refineries in Port Arthur, Texas, which have recently invested billions in upgrades to handle the thick, toxic crude oil from the tar sands, oil companies will produce fuel for export to Europe, where prices are higher, or to the growth markets of Latin America and Asia.
TransCanada, Canadian producers and the Canadian government have tried to brand the tar sands as “ethical oil” — in contrast to crude from the Middle East, violence-torn Nigeria or anti-capitalist Venezuela — although environmentalists question how ethical an energy source can be that disrupts the climate, destroys the forest, pollutes water and infringes on tribal lands. (Disclosure: Last year I worked for a coalition of environmental groups opposing the pipeline.)
The fact is that the U.S. doesn’t need tar sands oil. Fuel consumption is flat and will continue to decline as cars become more fuel-efficient. At the same time, domestic oil production is reaching historic highs. It just doesn’t make sense for TransCanada to invest $7 billion in a pipeline to supply a declining market. Tar sands oil production is projected to double by 2020, so the Canadian oil industry desperately needs access to growth markets.
To try to push the U.S. into permitting the pipeline, the Canadian government has threatened to play the China card. If Keystone is rejected, they say, they’ll simply sell the oil to fuel-thirsty China. Another Canadian company, Enbridge Energy, wants to build the Northern Gateway pipeline to carry tar sands oil to the West Coast for export to China and other Asian markets. That pipeline wouldn’t cross American soil, so U.S. approval is not needed.
However, opposition to Northern Gateway is even fiercer than the U.S. campaign against Keystone XL, and many observers doubt it will ever be built. That seems to support the argument that stopping Keystone XL will strand the tar sands oil — but there are other twists to the story.
Companies controlled by the Chinese government are quietly buying into Canadian tar sands ventures, and you have to figure that with or without a West Coast pipeline, they’ll find some way to get the oil to China. Finally, the Canadian government is exploring ways to ship tar sands oil through eastern Canada to the Atlantic for export to Europe.
It’s a complicated narrative, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. Bottom line: Keystone XL would mean Canada gets the money, China (or some other foreign buyer) gets the oil and the U.S. gets the pollution, the pipeline spills and the injustice of having a foreign company seize American citizens’ property.
For those reasons — which have little to do with halting global climate change — Obama’s decision was a no-brainer. But there is added symbolic importance. Permitting Keystone would have signaled that America was still committed to the dirty energy sources of the past. A final rejection of it would be a sign to the world that the U.S. is ready to lead on climate change.
More at the linkBy Bill Walker
Today’s decision by President Obama to reject, at least... more
Ignacio Chapela will be familiar to readers of Stuffed and Starved. He’s a soil biologist at Berkeley and an outspoken critic of genetically modified crops, a position which has focussed the wrath of the biotechnology industry upon him. Here is a short analysis he penned earlier today on news from Europe that chemical company BASF will be pulling its GMO operations from Europe, where they are unwelcome (because ineffective and dangerous), and moving them to North Carolina.
Will the English-speaking media lose its nerve and write about it? Based on past experience, my wager goes to the habitual policy of silence, and I expect that the news will continue all but unrecorded in English. Most of us will not celebrate as we should.
Other languages do comment and give a little more detail, albeit still briefly. In German, the word is printed clearly: “BASF admits defeat”, while in French: “The number one chemical concern in the world, the German BASF has announced on 16 January 2012 that it gives up the development and marketing of new transgenic products intended for the European Union.”
Clearly put: one of the largest among the few who banked on the GMO route to do agriculture is giving up in its own home turf, defeated by public opposition to its products which evidently do not live up to expectations.
You will find some records in the business websites, mostly deploring the European hostility towards GMOs, the loss of jobs (about 150-170 in Europe, although many are relocated to North Carolina, for an overall loss of about 10 jobs altogether) and repeating again the idea that rejecting GMOs in the environment is tantamount to committing economic suicide and “rejecting the future” as if this was possible.
I say that the future holds very little promise for GMOs altogether, and BASF is only the first to have the capacity to recognize the thirty years of bad investments. They can afford this move, which is not unannounced and forms part of a year-long reconfiguration of the company to navigate tighter economic straits ahead, because they are diversified and have strengths in other fields. Monsanto and Syngenta, for comparative example, have stood in complete dependency of GMOs since their mothership companies shed them off to swim or sink on transgenic markets twelve years ago; Bayer and Dow stand somewhere in between. Where Monsanto’s stock would have floundered if they announced they were closing GMO R & D in St Louis, Missouri, BASF’s stock hardly budged on the equivalent news (it actually ticked upwards in the Frankfurt exchange) – the timing of the news release may well have been a token of deference to BASF’s partner Monsanto, protecting the latter’s stock from the shock on a day when the US stock markets are closed.
The reasons for the failure of BASF’s products in Europe are many and very diverse, but the fundamental truth stands that over the decades no real benefit has offset the proven harm caused by GMOs. It is fine to blame “the European public”, but we know that this public is no better or worse than our own in the US or anywhere else – had there been a GMO equivalent of the iPad, masses would have thronged the streets of Europe clamoring for their use. But it may be just as true that BASF would continue to push GMOs into Europe were it not for the tireless and creative work of many hundreds of thousands, the kinds of numbers needed these days to make a self-evident point which counters accepted official policy. So I say to our European friends: embrace the credit that is hurled at you and loudly celebrate what will not be announced as your victory in the newspapers.
We are left in desolate America, though, land of government by Monsanto, where BASF is relocating its GMO headquarters (some specialty technical BASF outfits remain in Ghent and Berlin). In the North it is impossible to know where the nearest non-GMO plant may be, while in the South and in Mexico the tragedy of GMO soy- and corn-agriculture continues apace, driven by corrupt or willfully ignorant governments and against public opinion much stronger and much more vocal than what we have seen in Europe. Far from recognizing the failure of GMOs altogether, something that should have happened at least a decade ago, BASF identifies the opportunities offered by the brutal realities of the Third World, opportunities which are better capitalized with the centralization, mechanization and property-rights enforcement possible only through GMOs. As we celebrate the lifting of perhaps one third of the pressure upon Europe to give in to GMOs, let’s not forget those places where they will continue to be used as the effective spear-head of corporate biological mining of other lands.Ignacio Chapela will be familiar to readers of Stuffed and Starved. He’s a soil... more
Did a recent scientific study just change the way we should think about the safety of genetically modified foods? According to Ari Levaux at the Atlantic, the answer is a resounding yes.
The study in question, performed by researchers at China’s Nanjing University and published in the journal Cell Research, found that a form of genetic material — called microRNA — from conventional rice survived the human digestive process and proceeded to affect cholesterol function in humans.
Levaux argues that this new study “reveals a pathway by which genetically modified (GM) foods might influence human health” which should cause us to completely revisit the question of GM crops’ safety. And he’s right to be alarmed, just a little off on the reasoning.
Let’s take a closer look at how this study applies to current GM technology, shall we?
I would argue that several studies have already suggested that existing GM foods might present a health risk. For example, this study in The International Journal of Biological Sciences found evidence that Monsanto’s Bt corn causes organ damage in lab animals. Then there’s this one which showed that GM soybeans can alter mice on the cellular level — an indication that genetically modified material survives digestion and is active in animals that consume it.
Of course, advocates of genetically modified foods will observe that the phenomenon of genetic transfer through consumption applies to all plants and that GM foods are therefore “substantially equivalent” to non-GM foods. As Levaux explains at length, this concept of substantial equivalence has been used by the biotech industry as well as our government to push GM foods through safety testing with minimal scrutiny. What’s Monsanto’s defense of all this? On its website, the company claims:
There is no need to test the safety of DNA introduced into GM crops. DNA (and resulting RNA) is present in almost all foods … DNA is non-toxic and the presence of DNA, in and of itself, presents no hazard … So long as the introduced protein is determined to be safe, food from GM crops determined to be substantially equivalent is not expected to pose any health risks.
So the fact that the Chinese team found active genetic material going from plants to humans isn’t really new and doesn’t really change what we know about how existing genetically engineered crops might affect us.
But what is new — and what Levaux missed — is that the Chinese study happens to involve exactly the kind of genetic matrieral — microRNA — that biotech companies hope to use in their next generation of genetically modified foods.
Today’s GMOs are almost entirely based on adding new genes to crops like corn, soy, and cotton in order to alter the way the plants function. And even then new functions are mostly limited to making plants either able to tolerate herbicides or to produce their own. But if biotechnology companies are successful in their efforts, there may soon be genetically modified foods that use microRNA — simply put, snippets of RNA whose potency were only discovered around a decade ago — to target, and block the function of specific genes in pests.
Thus the news that plant microRNA can survive digestion and affect human systems brings into question the wisdom of pursuing this kind of technology in food.
As explained to me by Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists and expert in genetically modified foods, microRNA technology is an area that biotech companies are actively pursuing. Monsanto itself has a whole web page devoted to the technology, which they call RNA interference.
Gurian-Sherman notes that the Chinese study — though requiring confirmation and follow-up research — raises “an initial red flag.” It calls into question “any general statement that [microRNA] technology would be inherently safe,” he adds.
He observes that humans and insects share a surprising amount of DNA material — evolution favors reusing and recycling genes even among creatures as different as insects and humans. If this research bears out, then it’s entirely possible that microRNA meant to target a specific insect gene will also have an effect — possibly unpredictable — in humans. This is especially true because, for technology like this to work as a pesticide, the microRNA must be present in high levels in the plant, which makes it even more likely the genetic material will make it all the way into the human gut.
UPDATE: Dr. Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist at Consumers Union wrote to me after this post was published with an important point about the significance of the Chinese study. While he agreed that the main implications relate to the possible risk from microRNA-based GM foods, he also felt that this study did make a new and somewhat startling finding regarding how plant genetic material affects humans. As he put it, the study “showed that the miRNA not only survived digestion [in humans] but also was taken up and moved to other parts of the body where a specific impact was noted. The studies you cited — from Seralini’s lab and Malatesta’s lab — only show that GE crops can have an adverse effect on animals.”
more at the linkDid a recent scientific study just change the way we should think about the safety of... more
Nicotine-based pesticides in widespread use by farmers are implicated in the mass deaths of bees, according to a new study by US scientists.
The authoritative, peer-reviewed research undermines the pesticide industry's long-repeated arguments that bees are not being harmed, and piles pressure on UK and US authorities to follow other countries by introducing bans on the chemicals.
Pesticide companies have been trying to protect their multi-billion pound businesses by lobbying internationally against bans on neonicotinoids, a group of toxic chemicals designed to paralyse insects by attacking their nervous systems.
Agricultural crops in Scotland, England and around the world are dosed with the chemicals to prevent insects from damaging them. But evidence has been mounting that they could be to blame for the "colony collapse disorder" that has been decimating bee populations.
The US has been losing one-third of its honeybee hives every year, while beekeepers in Europe say that more than one million bee colonies have been wiped out in France, Germany, Italy and the UK since 1994.
Although neonicotinoids have faced bans or restrictions in Germany, France, Italy and Slovenia, regulators in the UK and the US have so far accepted the industry's contention that the toxins were not poisoning bees.
But that view has now been seriously challenged by a new study from scientists at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. They found neonicotinoids in bees, in pollen, in soil and in dandelions, suggesting that bees could be contaminated in several different ways.
"We know that these insecticides are highly toxic to bees; we found them in each sample of dead and dying bees," said Christian Krupke, associate professor of entomology at Purdue and a co-author of the study. Bees also suffered from tremors, unco-ordinated movement and convulsions, which are all signs of insecticide poisoning.
"This material is so concentrated that even small amounts landing on flowering plants around a field can kill foragers or be transported to the hive in contaminated pollen," Krupke said.
"It stands out as being an enormous source of potential environmental contamination, not just for honeybees, but for any insects living in or near these fields. The fact that these compounds can persist for months or years means that plants growing in these soils can take up these compounds in leaf tissue or pollen."
Krupke's study, conducted with four colleagues was reviewed for errors by fellow scientists before it was published.
The study has been seized on by beekeepers and environmental groups in Scotland campaigning for a neonicotinoid ban. "We are facing a global ecological catastrophe in which honeybees, bumblebees and butterflies are being wiped from the face of the landscape in every country where neonicotinoids have been introduced," said Graham White, a beekeeper from the Scottish Borders.
"The appalling truth is that we no longer have a credible regulatory system for pesticides in Scotland or the UK. All of the so-called regulators are so symbiotically and financially dependent on the pesticide industry that they have no independent freedom of action."
Buglife, which campaigns to protect insects, described neonicotinoids as "massively toxic" to wildlife. "All the evidence indicates that this pollution kills bees, moths, hoverflies and other essential pollinator species," said Craig Macadam, the group's Scottish officer. "The government must ban neonicotinoids now before further damage is done to our fragile ecosystems."
The pesticide industry, however, blamed parasites and diseases for killing bees, and maintained that the levels of neonicotinoids in pollen were too low to damage their health. Restrictions in France, now withdrawn, had made no difference to bee health, it argued.
"Although poorly-targeted insecticides would certainly harm bees, farmers value bees and strict practices are prescribed and followed to ensure that exposure does not occur," said Dominic Dyer, the chief executive of the Crop Protection Association, which represents pesticide companies.
"The use of seed treatments reduces the need for a farmer to spray broad-spectrum insecticides on his or her crop for much of the season and is therefore seen as being more environmentally friendly."Nicotine-based pesticides in widespread use by farmers are implicated in the mass... more
You’ve all heard the news: farmers across the country are losing their fields to superweeds so formidable and fast-spreading that they break farm machinery and render millions of acres of farmland useless. These superweeds have evolved as a direct consequence of Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready pesticide-seed package. Now superbugs are emerging, resistant to Monsanto’s transgenic insecticidal crops. Ecologists predicted this ecological disaster 15 years ago.
The big question is, can we possibly learn from this ecological and agronomic disaster? The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Monsanto’s rival, Dow Chemical, apparently cannot.
From bad to worse
Instead of abandoning this losing strategy, Dow is trying to get us running faster on the same old broken pesticide treadmill. Dow and USDA are hoping to quietly approve a new genetically engineered corn seed that basically swaps RoundUp (glyphosate) out and an even worse weedkiller (2,4-D) in. Bad idea.
As with Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready lines, the herbicide with which these seeds are engineered to be used (2,4-D) will surge in use. Dow aims to get 2,4-D-resistant corn to market this year, soy next year and cotton in 2015. These three crops dominate U.S. agriculture, blanketing over 100 million acres of mono-cropped countryside and driving the pesticide market. Only this time, the fallout will be even worse. Here’s why:
2,4-D is a more toxic herbicide, both to humans and to plants. 2,4-D is a reproductive toxicant (associated with lower sperm counts) and its formulations have been linked to cancer (in particular non-Hodgkins lymphoma), disruption of the immune and endocrine (hormone) systems and birth defects. EPA has also expressed a “concern for developmental neurotoxicity resulting from exposure to 2,4-D.”
2,4-D does and will drift off of target crops – both through spray drift and volatilization. The latter enables chemicals to travel with moving air masses for miles. Neither applicator nor innocent bystander can prevent such movement. The spread of 2,4-D across our lands will damage non-target crops and vegetation, devastate adjacent ecosystems and poses a very real threat to rural economies and farmers growing non-2,4-D-resistant crops. Conventional farmers growing their product miles away will suffer severe crop losses, while organic farmers will lose both crops and certification, resulting in business failures, job losses and an economic unraveling of already-stressed rural communities.
2,4-D-resistant “superweeds” will arise and spread just as RoundUp-resistant “superweeds” have taken over farms and countryside in the Midwest and Southeast. Where will this leave struggling farmers? What even more deadly pesticide will the biotech companies resort to next?
Corn is wind-pollinated which means that genetic material from 2,4-D corn will contaminate non-GE corn. You cannot put a GE genie back in the bottle.
Will Dow provide compensation to farmers, their children and rural communities for the harms likely to occur should the company secure approval of its 2, 4-D resistant corn? I rather doubt it. Dow has still refused to assume responsibility for the deaths and devastation arising from the pesticide explosion in Bhopal, India in 1984, so why would the company show any integrity now?
It will take an active, engaged public to get USDA back on track and in the business of serving the public interest.
What about USDA? Can we expect our public agency to carefully scrutinize the likely fallout of approving 2,4-D resistant corn? One problem is that USDA does not really want to know what the public thinks.
More at the linkYou’ve all heard the news: farmers across the country are losing their fields to... more
A court hearing in New York City at the end of this month will determine if a "pre-emptive" lawsuit by a clutch of U.S. and Canadian organic producers against seed and ag chem firm Monsanto will go ahead.
U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald said she will hear oral arguments Jan. 31 in Manhattan on a motion by St. Louis, Mo.-based Monsanto to dismiss the suit filed last March 31 by a group of 83 farmers, seed growers and farm organizations.
The suit "seeks court protection for innocent family farmers who may become contaminated by Monsanto seed," according to a release last week from the Colorado-based lead plaintiff, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA).
The suit, the plaintiffs claim, is "to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should their crops ever become contaminated by Monsanto's genetically modified seed."
"Last August we submitted our written rebuttal and it made clear that Monsanto's motion was without merit," OSGATA president Jim Gerritsen, a seed potato grower in northern Maine, said in the release. "Our legal team, from the Public Patent Foundation, is looking forward to orally presenting our position."
Canadian plaintiffs attached to the suit include Ottawa-based Canadian Organic Growers (COG), Quebec advocacy group Union Paysanne, the Manitoba Organic Alliance, the Peace River Organic Producers Association and a number of producers in Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario.
"Monsanto's technology is harmful for organic producers and processors," COG executive director Beth McMahon said in a separate release this week. "To penalize our growers for GMO contamination adds insult to injury, and we won't back down from this fight."
Monsanto's previous suits against farmers for alleged infringement on its patented seed suggest the company "intends to assert its transgenic seed patents against certified organic and nontransgenic seed farmers who come to possess more than 'trace amounts' of Monsanto's transgenic seed, even if it is not their fault," the plaintiffs claimed last year.
Between 1997 and April 2010, the organic producers' suit claims, Monsanto filed 144 lawsuits against farmers in at least 27 different states for alleged infringement of its transgenic seed patents and/or breach of its license to those patents.
More at the linkA court hearing in New York City at the end of this month will determine if a... more
Remarkably, more than half of the country (58%) experienced either a top-ten driest or top-ten wettest year, a new record.
Percentage of the contiguous U.S. either in severe or greater drought (top 10% dryness) or extremely wet (top 10% wetness) during 2011, as computed using NOAA’s Climate Extremes Index. Image credit: NOAA/NCDC.
by Jeff Masters, cross-posted from the WunderBlog.
Rains unprecedented in 117 years of record keeping set new yearly precipitation totals in seven states during 2011, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center revealed in its preliminary year-end report for 2011.
Precipitation rankings for U.S. states in 2011. Seven states had their wettest year on record, and an additional ten states had a top-ten wettest year. Texas had its driest year on record, and four other states had a top-ten driest year. Image credit: NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.
An extraordinary twenty major U.S. cities had their wettest year on record during 2011. This smashes the previous record of ten cities with a wettest year, set in 1996, according to a comprehensive data base of 303 U.S. cities that have 90% of the U.S. population, maintained by Wunderground’s weather historian Christopher C. Burt. Despite the remarkable number of new wettest year records set, precipitation averaged across the contiguous U.S. during 2011 was near-average, ranking as the 45th driest year in the 117-year record. This occurred because of unprecedented dry conditions across much of the South, where Texas had its driest year on record.
Wettest, driest, and warmest year records set during 2011 for major U.S. cities. No major cities had their coldest year on record during 2011.
2011 sets a new U.S. record for combined wet and dry extremes [see top graph]
If you weren’t washing away in a flood during 2011, you were probably baking in a drought. The fraction of the contiguous U.S. covered by extremely wet conditions (top 10% historically) was 33% during 2011, ranking as the 2nd highest such coverage in the past 100 years. At the same time, extremely dry conditions (top 10% historically) covered 25% of the nation, ranking 6th highest in the past 100 years. The combined fraction of the country experiencing either severe drought or extremely wet conditions was 58%–the highest in a century of record keeping. Climate change science predicts that if the Earth continues to warm as expected, wet areas will tend to get wetter, and dry areas will tend to get drier–so 2011′s side-by-side extremes of very wet and very dry conditions should grow increasingly common in the coming decades.
23rd warmest year on record, and 2nd hottest summer for the U.S.
The year 2011 ranked as the 23rd warmest in U.S. history, with sixteen states recording a top-ten warmest year on record. Delaware had its warmest year on record, and Texas its second warmest. However, these statistics don’t convey the extremity of the summer of 2011–the hottest U.S. summer in 75 years. The only hotter summer–and by only 0.1°–was the Dust Bowl summer of 1936, when poor farming practices had turned much of the Midwest into a parking lot for generating extreme heat. The June – August 2011 average temperatures in Texas and Oklahoma were a remarkable 1.6°F and 1.3°F warmer than the previous hottest summer for a U.S. state–the summer of 1934 in Oklahoma. The U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI), which is sensitive to climate extremes in temperature, rainfall, dry streaks, and drought, indicated that an area nearly four times the average value was affected by extreme climate conditions during summer 2011. This is the third largest summer value of record, and came on the heels a spring season that was the most extreme on record. When averaged over the entire year, 2011 ranked as the 8th most extreme in U.S. history, since the fall weather was near-average for extremes. The CEI goes back to 1910.
More at the linkRemarkably, more than half of the country (58%) experienced either a top-ten driest or... more
Disclaimer: The events depicted in this video and the previous two parts are of global climate extremes for 2011 that were unusual or extreme in scope and fit the trend that suggests the strongest link between anthropogenic global warming and weather events through extreme precipitation events, floods and droughts. Nothing was inferred by this video and any such inferment placed on this by the viewer is based on their own preconceptions and biases. All photos depict the events and all information was gleaned from public sources for educational purposes as noted at the conclusion of the video.
Previously I had posted two parts of this video series that I put together of climate extremes for 2011. Seeing just this one year in totality is an eye opener. With all three parts put together there is close to a half hour of information and pictures depicting the world we are making for our children and it is not a good report on the human species.
There is no mistaking anymore that we are affecting the cycles of this planet that provide the two most basic needs for our survival: food and water. The willful damage we are inflicting on our lifeline is irresponsible, arrogant and immoral regardless of what you think is the cause. This year requires REAL action. So please, pass this on and thanks for watching.
This was for me a labor of love and my heart goes out to all in this world who lost loved ones and who stilll deal with the effects of this crisis daily. May we collectively find the moral courage we need now to make this right as much as possibly can be done at this point.
CLIMATE CHANGE KILLS.
I thought this fit here based on the events covered in this recap video:
"Brenda Ekwurzel, a UCS climate scientist, emphasized the varying levels of scientific certainty when it comes to links between extreme weather and climate change. “In some cases, the links between extreme weather and climate change are crystal clear,” she said. “In other cases, the picture is murkier.”
Ekwurzel said scientists see the strongest links to extreme heat and shifts in precipitation away from lighter and toward heavier events, meaning longer periods of drought punctuated by heavy flooding. "
Link to enitre article is in the thread.Disclaimer: The events depicted in this video and the previous two parts are of global... more