Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Unrestrained romanticism is not dead

The guff below could have been written by a Nazi writer.  Nazism also had a romanticized vision of a marvellous small-farmer past. Some people will never learn.

Their key paragraph below is this one:

"The industrial food chain is using at least 75 per cent of the world’s agricultural land and most of agriculture’s fossil fuel and freshwater resources to feed barely 30 per cent of the world’s population. Conversely, more than 500 million peasant farms around the world are using less than 25 per cent of the land – and almost no fossil fuels or chemicals – to feed 70 per cent of humanity."

It is one of the sillier attempts to lie with statistics. It makes no mention of HOW MUCH food different farming systems produce or how much effort goes into producing it.  It may be true that 25% of the land feeds 70% of the people but it does so only via back-breaking labor that leaves little time for anything else and in the end provides on a bare minimum of food most of the time. For the rest of the time it produces famine.  It is no model for any sane person.

I think that tells you how good the rest of their statistics below are.  It's just a prolonged fantasy

Industrial agriculture isn’t the efficient beast it’s made out to be. Peasant farming, not industrial food production, is the way to feed the world, argue Pat Mooney and Nnimmo Bassey

The solution for both climate and food sovereignty is to dismantle the global industrial agri-food system (which we call the ‘industrial food chain’) and for governments to give more space to the already growing and resilient ‘peasant food web’ – the interlinked network of small-scale farmers, livestock-keepers, pastoralists, hunters and gatherers, fishers and urban producers who, our research shows, already feed most of the world.

The industrial food chain is using at least 75 per cent of the world’s agricultural land and most of agriculture’s fossil fuel and freshwater resources to feed barely 30 per cent of the world’s population. Conversely, more than 500 million peasant farms around the world are using less than 25 per cent of the land – and almost no fossil fuels or chemicals – to feed 70 per cent of humanity.

Aside from burning vast quantities of fossil carbon, industry is also wasting money that could be directed to supporting equitable agroecological production while still lowering food prices for the world’s marginalized consumers.

The statistics are staggering. Consumers pay $7.5 trillion each year for industrially produced food. But between a third and half of this production is wasted along the way to the consumer or at the table: spoiled in the field or in transport, rejected from grocers because of blemishes, or left on the plate because of over-serving.

The total food overproduced each year is worth $3.8 trillion – a combination of $2.49 trillion worth of food waste and $1.26 trillion of over-consumption (see footnote 191 of the report). Burgeoning waists worldwide also have both human and economic costs.

When the wider environmental damages – including contaminated soils and water, greenhouse gas emissions – are added to the health and social impacts, the harm done by the industrial food chain is almost $5 trillion (see footnote 193). For every dollar consumers spent in supermarkets, health and environmental damages cost two dollars more.

Added to the amount spent by consumers, this makes the real cost of industrial food $12.4 trillion annually.

Policymakers negotiating the future of food and climate may wonder if it is possible to make such a dramatic change in our food production. Peasants may feed 70 per cent of the world’s population now but can they adapt quickly enough to climate change to feed us in 2100? Which system, the industrial food chain or the peasant food web, has the track record, innovative capacity, speed and flexibility needed to get us through the unparalleled threat of an unpredictable climate?

The answer is clear. Take experience: over the last century, the industrial food chain has not introduced a single new crop or livestock species to production but has cut the genetic diversity of our crops by 75 per cent, reduced the number of species by about one third, and reduced the nutritional value of our crops by up to 40 per cent. The peasant web has introduced 2.1 million new plant varieties where industrial agriculture has only introduced 100,000 over the same time frame.

The industrial food chain works with only 137 crop species and five main livestock species. Stunningly, 45 per cent of the industry’s research and development targets just one crop: maize. By contrast, the peasant web is breeding and growing 7,000 different crop species and 34 livestock species – like the alpaca, ñandu, and guinea pig.

Peasants also have the track record of dealing with new conditions quickly and effectively. Recent history is replete with evidence that peasant producers – before there were telegraphs or telephones or railways – have adapted new food species (through selective breeding) to an extraordinary range of different climatic conditions within the span of only a few human generations

The peasant web is breeding and growing 7,000 different crop species and 34 livestock species – like the alpaca, ñandu, and guinea pig

This process of seed and knowledge sharing from farmer to farmer is how maize spread across most of the regions of Africa and how sweet potatoes were planted everywhere in Papua New Guinea from mangrove swamps to mountain tops – all in less than a century – and how immigrants brought seeds from Europe that were growing across the Western Hemisphere within a generation.

When we compare the track record of the industrial food chain to the peasant food web we must conclude that our century-long experience with the chain shows that it is just too expensive, and it can’t scale up. Meanwhile, with almost no support from governments, the peasant food web is already feeding 70 per cent of us (see page 12) – and could do much more, while producing drastically less greenhouse gas emissions than industrial methods.

To be clear, ‘peasant farming as usual’ is not an option. Climate change will mean our over 10,000 years of agriculture has to deal with growing conditions that the world hasn’t seen for three million years.

There is no reason to be sanguine about the problems ahead.

Peasants can scale up if the industrial chain gets off their backs. Governments must recognize peasants’ rights to their land and seeds and support fair, peasant-led rural development and trade policies. We need to cut waste and shift our financial resources to strengthening the peasant food web and both tackling climate change and ensuring food sovereignty.


How One City Plans to Fight Climate Change on Its Own. With help from Nordic experts, a city in Northern England is moving toward creating the most energy-efficient homes on the planet

How amusing.  Past attempts at putting up highly "sustainable" buildings have all been disastrous -- with big cost overruns, leaking roofs, utilities that don't work etc.  I look forward to hearing the outcome of this project

The Scandinavian firm, White Arkitekter, is working in tandem with urban developers Citu to design a plan Leeds where the apartments and homes become among the most sustainable in the world.

The Scandinavian firm, White Arkitekter, is working in tandem with urban developers Citu to design a plan Leeds where the apartments and homes become among the most sustainable in the world.

While there’s a (mostly) global consensus on the need to address climate change at the state level, municipal solutions to improving energy efficiency seem to be governed not by orthodoxy but by experimentation.

To that end, one neighborhood in the northern English city of Leeds is moving toward a sustainable future with a little help from Nordic experts. Envisioned as a collaborative project between Sweden’s White Arkitekter and environmentally conscious U.K. development firm Citu, Leeds’s dedicated “Climate Innovation District” will repurpose an old industrial brownfield to create a green, open community centered around 500 of the most energy-efficient apartments and homes you’ll find anywhere on the planet.

White Arkitekter designed the mixed-use neighborhood with a Scandinavian love of efficiency in mind. All necessary services like schools, offices, and healthcare facilities will be located within easy walking or cycling distance from the more than 500 apartments and homes that will eventually be built on the site.

Their plan also calls for ample green and social spaces, making it easier for residents to interact and play, all while mitigating the air quality and urban heat island issues that plague stodgier city neighborhoods.

Built on the bones of apartment complexes created by White Arkitekter and local firm Ollier Smurthwaite Architects, the district’s one- to four-bedroom bedroom units will be outfitted by Citu with some of the most sustainable, carbon-neutral design elements in the world. Featuring rainwater collection, solar paneling, and green roofs on the outside as well as smart-home technology and heat recovery systems on the interior, it all “represent[s] a pioneering new approach to house building in this country, which is one of the biggest causes of carbon emissions,” according to a statement by Citu founder and managing director Chris Thompson.


How to Talk to a Science Denier without Arguing

In summary:  Don't mention any scientific facts.  That at least is what he describes himself below as doing.  That's quite a confession in its way

It’s the holiday season, which means plenty of opportunities for uncomfortable interactions with friends and family who are science deniers, from people who believe the moon landing was faked to those who believe vaccines cause autism or who think that humans did not cause significant global climate change. How can you deal with such science deniers effectively?

My close friend invited me to her house for Thanksgiving, where I sat across the table from her cousin Sam. Learning about my research on promoting truthfulness in our society, he proceeded to denounce what he called the “climate change hoax” as a vast attack by liberals on businesses. He told me how his dad lost his job at a factory that moved to Mexico, placing blame on government regulations—including pollution control—that made it too expensive for the plant to operate in the Columbus, Ohio, where Sam lives.

By the end of our conversation over that meal, he accepted the validity of the science on climate change. Sam is one of many people who updated their beliefs during conversations with me, including prominent ideologically-oriented talk show hosts. Recently, I published a book on this topic, The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide. One of the strategies described there can be summarized under the acronym EGRIP (Emotions, Goals, Rapport, Information, Positive Reinforcement), which provides clear guidelines on how to deal with Sam and other people who deny the facts, in science and other life areas.

What Not To Do

Our typical response is to respond by presenting the facts and arguing about the quality of the evidence. However, studies suggest that doing so is generally not effective in changing people’s minds on charged issues. Research on the confirmation bias shows that we tend to look for and interpret information in ways that conforms to our beliefs. Our emotions are much more powerful than our reason, and we tend to go with our guts when perceiving new information.

Moreover, research on a phenomenon called the backfire effect shows when we are presented with facts that cause us to feel bad about our identity and worldview, we tend to dig in our heels and refuse to accept the facts. In some cases, presenting the facts actually backfires, causing people to develop a stronger attachment to their incorrect belief.

Don’t Argue, EGRIP Instead

If someone denies clear facts, you can safely assume that it’s their emotions that are leading them away from reality. While gut reactions can be helpful, they can also lead us astray in systematic and predictable ways. We need to deploy the skill of empathy, meaning understanding other people’s emotions, to determine what emotional blocks might cause them to stick their heads into the sand of reality.

In Sam’s case, it was relatively easy to figure out the emotions at play through active listening: anxiety about job security, compounded by his dad’s experience. I confirmed my suspicions by using curiosity to question Sam—who was in his junior year in college—about whether he was concerned that government protections would inhibit his ability to find a job, and he answered “you’re damn right I’m worried about that.” You will have to figure out based on the context of each individual situation the relevant emotions at play.

Next, establish shared goals for both of you, crucial for effective knowledge sharing. With Sam, I talked about how we both want people to secure jobs in the current uncertain economic environment, and he strongly agreed. I also said how we both want him and his friends and family—who were all around us at the Thanksgiving dinner table—to stay healthy, and he agreed as well.

Third, build rapport. Using the empathetic listening you did previously (a vital skill in promoting trusting relationships), echo their emotions and show you understand how they feel. In the case of Sam, I told him I understood his feelings of worry and anger. I also told him I was worried about his health and the health of other students, due to the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by pollution.

Finally, I added that we should always orient toward the facts, wherever they may lead, and added that I—along with thousands of other citizens—took the Pro-Truth Pledge as a public signal of commitment to sharing accurate information, and welcomed him to hold me accountable. He appreciated that opportunity, and it built my credibility in his eyes.

Fourth, move on to sharing information. Here is where you can give the facts that you held back in the beginning. Since Sam’s concerns had to do with economic issues, I focused on the money rather than the science. I talked to him about how while I did not know the specifics of his dad’s situation, I could truthfully state that the government sometimes makes unwise policies that result in harmful outcomes.

Next, I pointed out to him how the number of clean energy jobs in Ohio is growing, and much quicker than overall job growth; given bipartisan support, this trend will likely continue. Then, I highlighted how since manufacturing jobs like the one his dad had aren’t coming back, he could secure a good financial future for himself in the green energy field after college.

Likewise, he would also help protect his health and the health of his friends and family around the dinner table. As a bonus, he wouldn’t have to deny scientific studies. After all, as I told him, the scientists are simply finding data, and it’s government officials and business leaders who decide what to do with it.

The key here is to show your conversation partner, without arousing a defensive or aggressive response, how their current truth denialism will lead to them undermining in the long term the shared goals we established earlier, a research-driven approach to addressing thinking errors.

Sam was surprised and moved by this information. He agreed that green energy might well be a good future for him. He confessed he was feeling mental strain due to denying scientific findings, and was relieved to see that believing in science did not have to mean he would not find a job.

I offered positive reinforcement for his orientation toward the facts, praising his ability to update his beliefs. Positive reinforcement is very valuable as a research-based tactic of encouraging people to change their identity and sense of self-worth to align with truthfulness through associating positive emotions with doing so.

Think of how much better your holiday dinner could go if you use EGRIP instead of arguing!


Global Warming: Fake News from the Start

President Donald Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change because it is a bad deal for America. He could have made the decision simply because the science is false, but most of the public have been brainwashed into believing it is correct and wouldn’t understand the reason.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and indeed the leaders of many western democracies, though thankfully not the U.S., support the Agreement and are completely unaware of the gross deficiencies in the science. If they did, they wouldn’t be forcing a carbon dioxide (CO2) tax, on their citizens.

Trudeau and other leaders show how little they know, or how little they assume the public know, by calling it a ‘carbon tax.’ But CO2 is a gas, while carbon is a solid. By calling the gas carbon, Trudeau and others encourage people to think of it as something ‘dirty’, like graphite or soot, which really are carbon. Calling CO2 by its proper name would help the public remember that it is actually an invisible, odorless gas essential to plant photosynthesis.

Canadian Environment Minister Catherine McKenna is arguably the most misinformed of the lot, saying in a recent interview, for example, that “Polluters should pay.” She apparently does not know that CO2 is not a pollutant.

And, like many of her political peers, McKenna dismisses credentialed PhD scientists who disagree with her government’s approach, labelling them “deniers.” She does not seem to understand that questioning scientific hypotheses, even scientific theories, is what all scientists should do. That is why the official motto of the Royal Society is “Nullius in verba,” Latin for “Take nobody's word for it.” Ironically, the Society rarely practices this approach when it comes to climate change.

Mistakes such as those made by McKenna are not surprising considering that the entire claim of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) was built on falsehoods and spread with fake news.

The plot to deceive the world about human-caused global warming gathered momentum following creation of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). After spending five days at the U.N. with Maurice Strong, the first executive director of UNEP, Hamilton Spectator investigative reporter Elaine Dewar concluded the overarching objective of the IPCC was political. “Strong was using the U.N. as a platform to sell a global environment crisis and the global governance agenda,” wrote Dewar.

The political agenda required ‘credibility’ to achieve the deception. It also required some fake news for momentum. Ideally, this would involve testimony from a scientist before a legislative committee.

U.S. Senator Timothy Wirth (D-CO) was fully committed to the political agenda and the deception as he explained in a 1993 comment, “We’ve got to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing…”

In 1988 Wirth was in a position to jump start the climate alarm. He worked with colleagues on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to organize a June 23, 1988 hearing where Dr. James Hansen, then the head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), was to testify. Wirth explained in a 2007 interview with PBS Frontline:

“We knew there was this scientist at NASA, you know, who had really identified the human impact before anybody else had done so and was very certain about it. So, we called him up and asked him if he would testify.”

Hansen did not disappoint. The New York Times reported on June 23, 1988:

“Today Dr. James E. Hansen of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration told a Congressional committee that it was 99 percent certain that the warming trend was not a natural variation but was caused by a buildup of carbon dioxide and other artificial gases in the atmosphere.”

Specifically, Hansen told the committee,

"Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and observed warming...It is already happening now"

Hansen also testified:

"The greenhouse effect has been detected and it is changing our climate now...We already reached the point where the greenhouse effect is important."

Dr. John S. Theon, Hansen’s former supervisor at NASA, wrote to the Senate Minority Office at the Environment and Public Works Committee on January 15, 2009. “Hansen was never muzzled even though he violated NASA’s official agency position on climate forecasting (i.e., we did not know enough to forecast climate change or mankind’s effect on it). Hansen thus embarrassed NASA by coming out with his claims of global warming in 1988 in his testimony before Congress.”

Hansen never abandoned his single-minded, unsubstantiated claim that CO2 from human activities caused dangerous global warming. He defied the Hatch Act that limits bureaucratic political actions, and, in 2011, was even arrested in a protest at the White House against the Keystone XL pipeline, at least his third such arrest to that point.

Wirth, who presided at the hearing, was pre-disposed to believe Hansen and told the committee:

''As I read it, the scientific evidence is compelling: the global climate is changing as the earth's atmosphere gets warmer. Now, the Congress must begin to consider how we are going to slow or halt that warming trend and how we are going to cope with the changes that may already be inevitable.”

So, like Trudeau and other leaders duped by the climate scare, Wirth has either not read or not understood the science. In fact, an increasing number of climate scientists (including Dr. Ball) now conclude that there is no empirical evidence of human-caused global warming; there are only computer model speculations that humans are causing it and every forecast made using these models since 1990 has been wrong.

More than any other event, that single hearing before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee publicly initiated the climate scare, the biggest deception in history. It created an unholy alliance between a bureaucrat and a politician, that was bolstered by the U.N. and the popular press leading to the hoax being accepted in governments, industry boardrooms, schools, and churches across the world.

Trump must now end America’s participation in the fake science and the fake news of man-made global warming. To do this, he must withdraw the U.S. from further involvement with all U.N. global warming programs, especially the IPCC as well as the agency that now directs it—the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Only then will the U.S. have a chance to fully develop its hydrocarbon resources to achieve the president’s goal of global energy dominance.


Here's How Many People Have Left the EPA Since Scott Pruitt Took Over

The Environmental Protection Agency has shrunk considerably since Scott Pruitt took over as administrator. In fact, the agency is back to President Reagan-era staff levels.

Over 700 EPA personnel have either retired, quit, or taken voluntary buyouts since Pruitt took over, Think Progress found after combing through federal employment statistics. Some are quitting in "disgust."

“There has been a drop of employees of 770 between April and December. While several hundred of those are buyouts, the rest of those are either people that are retiring or quitting in disgust,” Kyla Bennett, director of New England Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), told ThinkProgress. “Is that number higher than it would normally be? I think it is.”

Liberals were outraged over Pruitt's nomination last year, labeling him a "climate skeptic" and criticizing his ties to the fossil fuel industry.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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