Environment

Hundreds of Millions to Be Displaced by Climate Change, French Minister Warns

May 27, 2016

A refugee camp on the Turkey-Syria border. (Photo: Reuters) Calamitous global conflict as a result of climate change will produce hundreds of millions of refugees by 2100, said France’s environmental minister Ségolène Royal to representatives from 170 countries at the UNenvironment assembly in Nairobi on Thursday. “If nothing is done to combat the negative impact of climate change, we will have hundreds of millions of climate change migrants by the end of the century.” —Ségolène Royal Read

Sandra Park – Who Should Control Your Genetic Information — You or Corporate Laboratories?

May 26, 2016

Should patients have the same right to access their genetic information from a laboratory as they would a copy of their MRI, X-rays, or physical exam records? We believe the answer is clearly yes, which is why today we filed the firstcomplaint seeking to guarantee patients’ rights to their own genetic data. The stakes are high. On one side are four patients asserting privacy rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA, which guarantees access to their entire health record. On the other side is a corporate laboratory with a vested interest in maintaining proprietary control over patient data. Two of the patients are Barbara Zeughauser and Ken Deutsch, cousins who have lost many family members to breast, lung, and pancreatic cancers. In 2009, Barbara obtained genetic testing and found out that she had an uncommon mutation of the BRCA1 gene that is linked to significantly higher cancer risk. Two years ago, Ken was diagnosed with metastatic bladder cancer and also tested positive for the same genetic variant. That knowledge gave him hope, as doctors thought he would be more responsive to the type of chemotherapy that he was receiving, and following treatment, there is no evidence

AMRITA GUPTA – “The Third World War Will be About Water”

May 25, 2016

Rajendra Singh, known as the “water man of India,” believes that critically depleted aquifers around the world can be revived with community effort. For the past 32 years, through his NGO Tarun Bharat Sangh (Young India Organization), Singh has led community-based water harvesting and water management initiatives in the Alwar district of Rajasthan, an arid, semi-desert state in the northwest of India.In 2015, NASA’s satellite data revealed that 21 of the world’s 37 large aquifers are severely water-stressed. With growing populations, and increased demands from agriculture and industry, researchers indicated that this crisis is only likely to worsen. In that time, he has been credited with transforming the landscape and the climate of the region. Seven rivers have been rejuvenated and more than 250,000 wells replenished. Once-parched fields are now fertile. In the process, he has rehabilitated more than 1,200 communities that had been displaced due to water scarcity. As he says, “when the water comes back, the people come back.” For his work, Singh was awarded the Ramon Magsaysay Award for community leadership in 2001, and the Stockholm Water Prize in 2015. Policy Innovations spoke with Rajendra Singh and his global partner Minni Jain, director of The Flow Partnership, over Skype and

CHARLES P. PIERCE – What Happens When Water for 30 Million People Disappears

May 25, 2016

Believe it or not, there are actual concerns in the world that do not depend on what 1,000 people in Iowa, called at random, think of the trustworthiness of a guy who gets policy advice from Alex Jones. There is, for example, the Lake Chad Basin in Africa, which is probably where our next humanitarian disaster is about to happen. Nine million people live in the region, which also happens to be where Boko Haram has been on the rampage, slaughtering people and burning people out of their homes. And Boko Haram is only one of the existential problems that exist in that piece of the planet. The United Nations would like the world to notice, if the world isn’t too busy. From Nigeria’s Today: Giving the warning yesterday in Borno State at the end of his four-day visit to Niger and Nigeria, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr. Stephen O’Brien, said efforts must be made to stem the tide of humanitarian crisis in the Lake. “Environmental degradation, poverty, under-development and violent extremism are converging to create a complex and multi-faceted crisis, and only with comprehensive coordination from humanitarian, development and security actors will we be able to

Fukushima nuclear accident is ‘wake-up call’ for US to improve monitoring of spent fuel pools

May 24, 2016

WASHINGTON – The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident should serve as a wake-up call to nuclear plant operators and regulators on the critical importance of measuring, maintaining, and restoring cooling in spent fuel pools during severe accidents and terrorist attacks, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. This report is the second and final phase of a congressionally mandated study on what lessons can be learned from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. The report from Phase 1 of this study was released in July 2014. The Phase 2 report provides findings and recommendations for improving U.S. nuclear plant security and spent fuel storage as well as re-evaluates conclusions from previous Academies studies on spent fuel storage safety and security. The committee that carried out the study and authored the Phase 2 report found that spent fuel storage facilities — both spent fuel pools used to store fuel under water and casks used to dry-store fuel — at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant maintained their containment functions during and after the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. However, one of the two gates separating the Unit 3 spent fuel pool from the

Polly Higgins – End the Era of Ecocide

May 23, 2016

What are the tools we can call in to assist with the patterns of harm we see playing  out  globally?  You might  think that existing  tools are not  enough to  prevent and disrupt  our existing norms. What do we have? We have over 500 treaties, conventions, protocols and resolutions  specifically pertaining to the environment – yet none of them is supported by an enforcement mechanism. There is missing law. Where there is no enforceability provision  in a criminal court of law, there is no accountability. More than that, the state has no legal duty of care to act on behalf of its people. Without the support of new law, we remain disempowered and hidebound by old laws that no longer work. Read

Tim Radford -Antarctic glacier melt could raise sea level by 3m

May 23, 2016

LONDON, 21 May, 2016 – One of Antarctica’s great glaciers could become unstable if global warming continues at the present pace. As warm seas wash the ice shelf, the land-based mass of ice could begin to retreat, cross a critical threshold in the present century and then withdraw 300 kilometres inland. In the course of doing so it would spill tremendous quantities of water into the oceans: enough to raise global sea levels by 2.9 metres and threaten cities that are home to billions. And here is the bad news: glaciologists have known for decades that West Antarctica’s ice sheets are unstable. But the Totten glacier is part of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, a mass of ice most researchers had believed to be stable and highly unlikely to lose much of its ice, even in a warming world. Scientists from Australia, New Zealand, the US and Britain report in Nature that they explored the underlying geology of the Totten glacier to build up a picture of its advance and retreat over many millions of years. Read

Bayer and Monsanto: A Marriage Made in Hell

May 23, 2016

In a world infected with a plethora of immoral multinational corporations, it is hard to think of two corporations who have more nefarious histories than Bayer AG and Monsanto. Considering this, it is a harrowing prospect that the two corporations could potentially strike a deal in the near future. As Bloomberg reported earlier this month, Bayer AG – the German pharmaceutical and chemical corporation – is reportedly considering a bid for the agrochemical and biotechnology corporation, Monsanto. This comes two months after Monsanto showed some interest in acquiring Bayer Crop Sciences, a branch of Bayer AG. Founded in 1863, Bayer may be familiar to many readers as the first company to widely sell and trademark Aspirin in the late nineteenth century. But there is a far more sinister history to this company that is often omitted. The Inception of Chemical Warfare Read

Ugo Bardi – A 100% Renewable World Is Possible? A Poll Among Experts

May 23, 2016

I am reporting here the results of a small survey that I carried out last week among the members of a discussion forum; mainly experts in renewable energy (*). It was a very informal poll; not meant to have statistical value. But some 70 people responded out of a total of 167 members; so I think these results have a certain value in telling us how the experts feel in this field. And I was surprised by the remarkable optimism that resulted from the poll. This is what I asked the members of the list The question is about the possibility of a society not too different from ours (**) but 100% based on renewable energy sources, and on the possibility of obtaining it before it is too late to avoid the climate disaster. This said, what statement best describes your position? 1. It is impossible for technical reasons. (Renewables have too low EROEIs, need too large amounts of natural resources, we’ll run out of fossil fuels first, climate change will destroy us first, etc.) Read

Sharon Lerner – NEW EVIDENCE ABOUT THE DANGERS OF MONSANTO’S ROUNDUP

May 19, 2016

JOHN SANDERS WORKED in the orange and grapefruit groves in Redlands, California, for more than 30 years. First as a ranch hand, then as a farm worker, he was responsible for keeping the weeds around the citrus trees in check. Roundup, the Monsanto weed killer, was his weapon of choice, and he sprayed it on the plants from a hand-held atomizer year-round. Frank Tanner, who owned a landscaping business, is also a Californian and former Roundup user. Tanner relied on the herbicide starting in 1974, and between 2000 and 2006 sprayed between 50 and 70 gallons of it a year, sometimes from a backpack, other times from a 200-gallon drum that he rolled on a cart next to him. The two men have other things in common, too: After being regularly exposed to Roundup, both developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer that starts in the lymph cells. And, as of April, both are plaintiffs in a suit filed against Monsanto that marks a turning point in the pitched battle over the most widely used agricultural chemical in history. Read
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