Climate Change

Is Earth Reaching a Tipping Point?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/11/2019 - 2:35pm in

The Arctic isn’t a major concern to most Australians. I hope overseas readers won’t judge us too harshly for that: the Arctic is a long way away and we have plenty causes of concern closer to home:

NSW bushfires as seen from space, last Friday. (source)
Other than sporadic pieces -- like this one from ABC -- Australian media devoted little attention to recent events in northern latitudes. A partial exception was SBS, the public broadcaster catering for ethnic communities. They did cover last northern summer’s European heatwave and its subsequent extension to the Arctic.

(source)
Nevertheless, last June, images like that –- sleds in Greenland “sailing” through a shallow inland sea where an ice field was expected -– did make the rounds in local media.

That’s more than one can say about the giant Siberian wildfires. I could find no coverage of that in Australian media. When they started in July, according to NASA, those fires covered 23,958 km², but the total area devastated could have been one order of magnitude larger; its smoke made its way across the Pacific, to reach the US and Canada towards the end of that month.

(source)
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ABC released some more in-depth coverage recently. Late last month its US bureau chief, Zoe Daniel, presented “At the Edge of the Earth” (see also).

Daniel travelled to Kaktovik, Alaska, a Native American village on the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, on the shores of the Arctic Ocean.

Although the program touched on how the proposed exploitation of natural gas reserves threatens wildlife, its main focus was on the threat to local lifestyle, to the distress of some residents but with the surprising support of others. The romanticised view of traditional cultures as custodians of the environment seems hopelessly simplistic when contrasted with some characters Daniel encountered.

Valuable as that insight is, Daniel’s report missed a fundamental point, as readers will see.

Over a week ago the ABC’s “Planet America”, with its weekly news coverage of American politics, also gave the Arctic some thought. That program’s unorthodox and innovative approach to news, in my opinion very appropriate, can best be explained -- I reckon -- by considering the qualifications of its two presenters: John Barron is the conventional expert one has grown accustomed to find in that kind of journalism; Chas Licciardello, on the other hand, is a comedian.

They mentioned the shorter sea lanes a summer ice-free Arctic Ocean would afford to global trade, how Russians are deploying a fleet of icebreakers, and that the Arctic Ocean is home to 30% of the world reserves of natural gas.

All that interesting and humorously presented, to be sure, but like Daniel’s own report, still missing a vital point.

It’s ironic that Scott Snowden’s early reporting (“Greenland’s Massive Ice Melt Wasn't Supposed To Happen Until 2070”, Aug. 2019), without fully grasping at the deeper and potentially fatal scientific implications of that melting, came closer to understand them. I find it ironic because Snowden writes for Forbes, the well-known American business magazine.

In late October, the ABC’s Ben Deacon came closer still to those implications, but focused on sea levels. Deacon writes that “Greenland this September weighed almost a third of a trillion tonnes less than it did the previous month”. The difference was due to ice melting because of the unusually high temperatures. Deacon was quoting Dr Paul Tregoning, from the Australian National University, researcher responsible for that finding.

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As Barron and Licciardello noted, there are huge reservoirs of natural gas in the Arctic. Natural gas, however, is not a single substance, but a mix of gases and its main component by far is methane (CH4). Methane, over a 100 year horizon, is estimated to be 27 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, meaning that one kilogram of CH4 traps as much heath as 27 kg of CO2.

On Earth, the ultimate source of methane is the continuous and gradual anaerobic decomposition of organic matter. Those reservoirs exist because some mechanism stops gas from leaking into the atmosphere.

In conventional situations, natural gas reservoirs -- associated with oil reservoirs -- are in essence a bubble trapped by a stable and impermeable layer of material (rock and limestone in the figure below).

(source)
The mechanism, in those situations, is that layer.

Incidentally, as joint production of oil and gas is generally economically unviable, when oil extraction is the main activity, unwanted releases of gas occur. Those gas flares are just burnt. (Imagine now you are a moth, flying at night). The satellite image below, off the coast of Nigeria,  illustrates (a global picture is given here).

(source)
So, oil not only produces CO2 directly -- when the refined oil products are burnt -- but also indirectly, during extraction. Environmentally damaging as that is, the alternative is possibly worse: the direct release of methane into the atmosphere. (Sometimes, however, methane is released intentionally.)

Natural gas is found in other geological formations, though. Now the mechanism trapping the gas underground is some kind of porous structure, filled with gas. Its extraction involves more elaborate and costlier techniques (like fracking). With increasing demand, its exploration becomes economically viable. Because of that it was considered unconventional.

Methane hidrates is another mechanism trapping methane in the Arctic: frozen water lattices containing tiny molecular bubbles of methane, that is kept from migrating to the atmosphere by an upper permafrost layer.

And this is what those reports neglected to note: it’s not only Greenland and Iceland ice that is melting. It’s Siberian, Canadian, and Alaskan permafrost. From dry land and undersea.

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I also send my thoughts and prayers.

Dear God,

Give that evil, ignorant, irresponsible, mentally retarded, deranged, demagogic, hypocritical charlatan Michael McCormack the reward he deserves. I’d humbly suggest African swine fever.

Scratch that. Make it “all the Ministers in the Morrison Ministry, Morrison included”.

PS,

And give shameless Adani ass-kisser Annastacia Palaszczuk lung cancer and/or emphysema.

Amen.

Double Down News Video: Ken Loach Explains Why People Need to Vote Labour

I found this excellent video from the socialist, radical film director Ken Loach. It’s from Double Down News, another online news agency that’s there to tell the world the truth about the Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn, ’cause the lamestream media won’t. Loach is the veteran director who made the films Dirty, Pretty Things, about the low-paid immigrant workers, who do the work we don’t want to, and I, Daniel Blake, about a man struggling with the obstructive, deliberately unhelpful bureaucracy of the Tories’ benefit system. He’s also another person they’ve tried to smear as an anti-Semite because he made a film a few years ago exposing the brutality of the Israeli state towards the Palestinians. However, Loach is demonstrably very far from anti-Semitic. I believe he made the film with an number of Jewish critics of Israel, and was given a rapturously welcome the other year when he appeared at a meeting of Jewish Voice for Labour. Despite what smear merchants like the Campaign AgainstAnti-Semitism, the Jewish Labour Movement, the Blairites, the Tories and the mendacious press would have you believe, Corbyn’s supporters are decent, self-respecting anti-racist people. The many Jews, who support him do so because they are, decent, self-respecting anti-racist people. They are not self-hating, and know that he has done much to support the Jewish community as he people from all racial, ethnic and religious groups in this countries. And so the folks at JVL would very definitely not give their applause to a genuine anti-Semite.

Loach begins the video by saying

The impact of Johnson is like the emperor has no clothes. We can see clearly what is amiss. Get out of Europe fast so that even the small protections that Europe provides in working conditions and the environment disappear, so that he can do deals with people like Trump, where it’ll open the door to the big American multinationals to take over our public services. And the biggest issue of all, climate change will be disregarded. If we care about the future for our kids, and grandchildren in my case, then that’s suicidal. Why are we destroying the planet? Why? Why do some areas of the country exist with nothing while other areas are overwhelmed with wealth? Why is the world like that? It doesn’t need to be like that. 

The Labour government of the past failed with its illegal wars, privatisations. We now have a chance with the beginnings of a policy that will regenerate our country, protect the environment, get rid of privatisation in the public services. Why should Richard Branson make a fortune out of the Health Service? It makes no sense. I mean, the questions are so obvious, of course young people will see it. And then they get confused with this fog of stupidity which you see in the press, broadcast every morning, so that politics becomes not the simple answer to simple questions, but becomes some arcane procedure in a tiny part of London by people, who speak a different language. Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell cut through that, that’s why they’re not allowed to speak. Empathy, solidarity, supporting each other, understanding each other – this is the essence of socialism. We’;re naturally good friends, we’re naturally neighbours, that’s the essence of our political system – it’s the opposite of their political system. 

The video ends with a statement by Loach about Double Down News, explaining that it’s an alternative news service, that doesn’t get funding from anyone except what it’s given. Even by old farts like him. He appeals to people to give to the organisation, offering them £20.

It’s a great video illustrated with some very pertinent images. This includes urban decay contrasted with the wealth of the City of London, Boris Johnson and Rees-Mogg in parliament, the arcane ceremony of the opening of parliament with Black Rod, the warmongers Bush and Blair together, Richard Branson toasting his good fortune, a collage formed by a newspaper photo of Osama bin Laden embracing a newspaper photo of Corbyn and the selection of tabloid front pages smearing the Labour leader. There’s also clips of Corbyn meeting ordinary members of the public, embracing a Muslim woman in a burqa, that’ll no doubt send Boris’ supporters bonkers, and writing messages of condolence to the people of Grenfell Tower.

This is an eloquent talk by one of Britain’s most gifted and critically acclaimed film-makers. He’s right, and especially about the way the concentration on the arcane ritual of parliament may be putting off young people. It certainly seems to me to be a way of dividing people into a politically-literate class of affluent people, who understand it and its jargon, and the rest of us.

Loach is getting on a bit, but he’s still active and his voice needs to be heard. We need to listen to him and organisations like DDN, and not to the lamestream media.

Book Review: Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime by Bruno Latour

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/11/2019 - 1:00am in

In Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime, Bruno Latour explores the political and philosophical challenges proper to a time defined by an environmental and socio-economic crisis. Rodrigo Muñoz-González welcomes this energetic, compelling and provocative attempt to find an alternative vision to the contradictory and flawed project of modernity.  This post originally appeared on LSE Review of Books. If you would like to contribute […]

Labor’s “brave” review fails to upstage Morrison’s incompetence.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 10/11/2019 - 11:16pm in

Were politics reset in keeping with the times, the parties would concede that it is not a contest between social democracy and a capitalist free-for-all, or “the light on the hill” and “the forgotten people”, or even conservatives and progressives, but one in which the ghosts of organisations that once had some claim to represent…

The post Labor’s “brave” review fails to upstage Morrison’s incompetence. appeared first on The AIM Network.

Coal Industry To Be Included In The Religious Freedom Act

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 07/11/2019 - 8:00am in

morrison 730

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed that his Government’s planned Religious freedom act will include the coal industry as a religion thus preventing it from being boycotted or abused by those who identify as anti-coal.

“My Government will always look out for those people who are being oppressed or belittled like the coal industry,” said the Prime Minister. “Coal has given this country so much and asks for so little.”

“If you want to be anti-coal then you have no place in my Government’s Australia.”

When asked whether other forms of power like wind, pumped hydro or solar would be covered by the religious freedom act the Prime Minister said: “Now you’re just being facetious. We all know that though some view renewables and climate change as some sort religion, it’s not.”

“There is nothing to stop the sun shining or the wind blowing well other than God so they don’t need the protections like the coal industry.”

Mark Williamson

You can follow The (un)Australian on twitter @TheUnOz or like us on https://www.facebook.com/theunoz.

In Sydney then come and see out live show November 8th.

Tix here: http://www.thenewsagencyvenue.com/shows/eoyextravaganza

Daniel Andrews: “An Outstanding Job” (II)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 03/11/2019 - 12:14pm in

From "Gravis Tray" Facebook.
A few days ago, Daniel Andrews, Labor Premier of Victoria, could not find more words to condemn climate change protesters. As quoted by the ABC’s James Oaten:

“Premier Daniel Andrews described the actions of protesters as ‘appalling’ and ‘violent’. ‘[Protesters] are free to protest peacefully,’ Mr Andrews said. ‘What they're not free to do is to act the way they acted. It’s appalling conduct, absolutely appalling conduct. Violent conduct.”

Words, too, proved insufficient when it came for Andrews to praise the Victorian Police for its performance: “I think police have done an outstanding job.”

That outstanding job, widely documented in video, could be summed up this way: About 50 activists were arrested during 3 days of protests, several were injured and at least one was hospitalised. There were pepper spray storms and batons were used unsparingly, mounted police was deployed to break human chains, and “palm strikes” with clenched fists were seen.

Victoria Police explainad that. The ABC’s Stephanie Ferrier:

“Commander Libby Murphy said protesters had turned ‘more violent’ and she thanked police at the scene for their ‘restraint’.”

Victoria Police further explained a video showing Chanel Seven reporter Paul Dowsley being pushed around and manhandled by female officers under the command of a male officer barking orders and threats like an out-of-control escapee of a mental asylum:

“Commander Murphy said the reporter was trying to ‘push through’ into an unsafe area and was asked twice to move, but refused. ‘It required us to physically remove him from a particular area, so the footage that you have seen is probably not the full story,’ she said.”

Law enforcement agencies’ concern with climate protesters was not recent. Less than a month ago, this, according to The Age’s Carolyn Webb, was the news:

“[Victoria] Police north-west metropolitan region Commander Tim Hansen said crowd behaviour would be closely monitored. Commander Hansen told radio station 3AW that police were concerned the Extinction Rebellion movement had been infiltrated by fringe groups.”

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Daniel Andrews’ renewed admiration for the Victorian Police is surprising, even making allowance for the possibility of him not being the sharpest tool in the toolshed. Less than a year ago Andrews had to call a Royal Commission over the Lawyer X/Informer 3838 scandal: Nicola Gobbo, QC, a Victoria Police informant on their own clients (and herself “a suspect, witness, and informer at the same time”), whose dealings with police, on top, were eventually leaked to the public, making of her a potential target for a bunch of dangerous and disappointed clients.

And this time Victoria Police, again, didn’t disappoint. As it turns out, among those police officers doing such an outstanding job at least two could have links to the alt-right.

That finding, understandably, made the news (see here and here). But the credit for that doesn’t go to the Victoria Police: they were too busy looking for dangerous characters elsewhere. It was the protesters themselves who discovered that.

Mind you, those officers weren’t shy about their political allegiances: the one whose identity was made public, Senior Constable Travis Gray (whose clever artwork opens), even included alt-right memes in his Facebook, which he bravely inactivated after the news was announced. (Victoria Police may be the only employer in Australia that does not check its employees’ social media).

Predictably Victoria Police repeated the tried and tested tactics they applied in the Lawyer X case: double down in excellent job and restrain bullshit, “there was no evidence” this and “they will investigate” that. Same old, same old.

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I’ll be blunt. It’s already bad enough that Daniel Andrews and Victoria Police see themselves as hired muscle for mining. But to act as alt-right cucks is really the last straw.

Andrews, grow some balls. Quit the bullshit and discipline those thugs. That’s your job. Get your head out of your ass, before they do a Christchurch, maybe even in your watch. Your ineptitude and that of the Victoria Police is what’s appalling.

Either that or resign. Act like a man.

And, federal Labor, you guys made a big deal when John Setka screwed things up with his big mouth. Why I hear nothing about Daniel Andrews? (or Queensland’s Annastacia Palaszczuk, for that matter?)

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So, you want to help climate change protesters but street protests are not your thing. Well, they need money.

GoFundMe page “Support activists arrested at mining conference
GoFundMe page “Support Aussie School Strikers 4 Climate Action

Other ways you can help:

  1. Join or form a local climate action group.
  2. Having a conversation with friends/colleagues about how you can grow the momentum started by the climate strikes.
  3. Sign up to volunteer with one of the many organisations across Australia fighting for climate justice.

Daniel Andrews: “An Outstanding Job”.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/11/2019 - 10:54pm in


Observe the purple-headed woman in the screenshot above. She has her back partially turned to the Victorian Police officer who is raising his left arm (centre of the image). Indeed, the police are pushing her and other protesters away. She isn’t threatening anybody, least of all the officer himself. Note the fist. Go here to see the whole event developing (as the screenshot shows, a slow motion repeat starts at about 0:16-0:17).

According to the ABC News’ James Oaten, Victorian Police calls that a “palm strike”. Oaten adds that such technique is “used to move on protesters and to prevent them from being able to assault an officer” and quotes from a police statement: “This is a commonly applied clearance move in dynamic public order scenarios which is designed to create distance from police … so that both police and protesters can be protected from further violence.”

I am not imaginative enough, for I can’t imagine that woman assaulting the officer; what I am absolutely certain is that that commonly applied clearance move wasn’t used to protect her.

Indeed, as harmless as police and Oaten describe that technique, I would advise readers not to apply it, even with your hands ostensibly open (unlike in this case), on a police officer: chances are readers would be charged with assault (an offence) on a police officer (an aggravating circumstance).

There is an asymmetry in the situation, clearly.

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By way of comparison, two Afghan women were recently harassed, threatened, and bullied by two NSW Police Force officers. A video of the event emerged.

If readers watch the video, they’ll realise that, as reprehensible as the officers’ behaviour was, at no moment they laid their hands on the women: not to push them, let alone to slap or punch them. And yet, understandably calls are being made for their dismissal.

More tellingly, the NSW Police Force are not justifying their behaviour.

I suggest that comparison tells something about protests in Australia.

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In Australia weapons laws differ from State to State, but are restrictive without exception. Law enforcement and the military excluded, and as a general rule, fire arms are forbidden (partial exceptions are made for some private security officers, sport shooters, and hunters). But beyond fire arms, a wide variety of weapons, ranging from slingshots to swords, and from automatic knives to batons are also generally unlawful. Indeed, even strictly defensive weapons, like pepper sprays and tasers and bullet-proof vests, are also unlawful for civilian, personal use.

A personal anecdote illustrates an attitude towards weapons not uncommon in Australia. A customer once asked my help to unwrap a cardboard box. To that end, I produced a little multi-tool, part of a key-ring. It had a pocketknife, its blade 4 cm long, 5 mm at its widest (yes, you read that right: 4 cm x 5 mm). The customer, oblivious to the size of the knife and to the fact he asked for my help, and ignorant of the difference between a flicker knife and a tiny foldable knife -- in essence a scaled-down version of the Swiss Army knife boy scouts all over the world use -- horrifiedly mumbled “but … but … that’s a weapon”.

The point is that, in Australia, if at all allowed, weapons are meant to be used very carefully because Australians go beyond a rational fear of fire arms to an irrational fear of all weapons or even something vaguely resembling a weapon. Moreover, whether using weapons or not, in Australia self defence is strictly constrained by the principle of proportional force: one is only allowed to deploy force enough to deter a threat.

Law enforcement is not exempted from that.

(source)
This second screenshot shows the moment a female protester climbs down from a column at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre (go here to see the event developing). Can anyone other than spokespeople for the Victorian Police and Daniel Andrews say the Victorian Police acted within the limits provided by the principle of proportional force?

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It should go without saying that spitting and pushing attendants to the conference is an offence and those protesters who did that are tarnishing all protesters’ image and risking a criminal charge themselves. But we are really fucked, if people like the ABC’s Andrew Probyn and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews can’t see the difference between that and this:

Daniel Andrews: “I think police have done an outstanding job.”
Female protester hospitalised after being trampled by police horse. (source)
To justify brutality by heavily armed police officers on account of assholism by unarmed protesters borders itself on criminality. After all, everybody rightly condemned Donald Trump for his  “both sides” comment after Charlottesville.

History will hold all of you to account.

Extinction Rebellion: Not the Struggle we Need, Pt. 2

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/11/2019 - 8:29am in

Tags 

UK, Climate Change

A modest proposal on migration, climate and brain drain, for Halloween

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 31/10/2019 - 7:57pm in

Not everyone who is a sceptic about the benefits of migration is a nativist. On the contrary, many progressive opponents of migration cite the harm that is done when people leave poor countries to make better lives in wealthy ones. The grounds for their opposition vary, but two particulary common reasons given are climate change and brain drain. Here, for example, is Rupert Read, philosopher and Extinction Rebellion spokesperson, writing in The Ecologist in 2014:

There must be absolutely no compromise whatsoever on the humanity and rights of immigrants, and on our responsibility to welcome and help to integrate those who are here. But we ought to accept the power of the reasoning that shows that a high level of immigration leads to significant problems – here, abroad, and in the future. It …increases  net environmental footprint – people migrating here whether from Estonia or East Africa suddenly jump their footprint dramatically: this is bad news of course for all things ecological / for future generations.

Other writers, two numerous to mention here, are worried about “brain drain” and the decision of wealthy professionals to take their skills, often developed at the state’s expense, to rich countries when there are so many people locally who need doctors, nurses, teachers and hedge-fund managers.

Usually, such writers propose some coercive measures so that the people who would otherwise leave those countries, whether rich or poor, are prevented from doing so. Admittedly, the coercion so far seems to be mainly limited to poor people, although the UK Home Office is, these days, sometimes good enough to attend to the cases of medics and to send them back whence they came.

But coercion needn’t be a one-way thing, and if migration in one direction has these bad effects, presumably migration in the opposite ine would have good ones. Instead of keeping the citizens of poor countries in place, we could have just as marked an effect on carbon emissions by forcibly shipping some of the residents of wealthy countries to poorer ones, where they would have a smaller carbon footprint. In the brain drain case we could round up some doctors and nurses and send them to work in places that are short of medical skills. Actually, wealthy countries do already have programmes in place to take people who have grown up in their societies and remove them to such places, but so far, such measures are largely confined to black and brown people who have unaccountably failed to secure their legal residence. But perhaps we can take succour from their example: such removals have, so far, sparked little opposition from the general public, so perhaps the mass conscription and transportation of white people would also be largely accepted.

One thing that does make me hesitate, though, is the widespread perception that the last time large numbers of people from white European and other such countries were sent around the globe for noble purposes and to improve the lives of the local populations, the people they were settled among were unaccountably ungrateful. Still, now that we have leading scholars such as Nigel Biggar and Niall Ferguson pushing back and emphasising the beneficial side of empire, perhaps opinion is shifting. We could even encourage such scholars to volunteer for the first wave of relocation, bringing their scarce skills to benefit their new compatriots and shrinking their ecological footprints at the same time.

Police Brutality.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 30/10/2019 - 9:19pm in

We have a problem in this country: The elite is untouchable, sacred. Everything and everybody else is fair game.

Yesterday Victorian Police limited itself to brutalising climate change protesters (other State police have manhandled old men and strip-searched teenage girls, presumably because they could carry WMDs in their vaginas). Today they decided that journalists, including a Chanel Seven reporter, were also a legitimate target. After all, they capture in images scenes Victorian Police don't want the public to see:


And make no mistake, the Australian Labor Party is no different from the COALition. As it happens, the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, is a member of the ALP. Whether he personally unleashed them or not, he gave his seal of approval to the Victorian Police's brutality. I am sure federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan, who attended the conference, was appreciative.

Our survival depends on draining the malignant Labor/COALition pustule. Don't vote for that scum; write to your "representatives" in Parliament and let them know what you think of that. Protest people, while we still can.

I suppose we must be grateful the Victorian junta has not authorised the police to murder protesters ... yet.

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And speaking of pus and putrefaction. The Chanel Nine reporter tasked to cover the protests on Tuesday claimed to have witnessed protesters spitting on mining delegates. The footage they presented, however, only showed cops beating and pepper-spraying attendants. So, I'll leave readers to decide: Was that thing merely negligent or was it lying?

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