Monday, February 25, 2019

Greenies getting ever more Fascistic

They even have a Hitler Youth these days

Greenpeace and Amnesty International unite in push for greater civil disobedience.

Two of the world’s largest nonprofits are joining forces to spark a new wave of civil disobedience to intensify pressure on governments and business leaders to avert a climate catastrophe.

Greenpeace International, which has traditionally focused on environmental issues, and Amnesty International, which has concentrated on human rights, are co-launching a Summit for Human Survival later this year to encourage nonviolent protests and other interventions that force greater action on climate change. The event is expected to include NGOs, grassroots activist groups, as well as arts and cultural organizations from across the world.

Kumi Naidoo, secretary-general of Amnesty, said it is essential for organizations across different sectors to join forces rather than seeing issues such as the environment, human rights and international development as separate. An important aim of the upcoming summit, Naidoo said, is to mobilize non-environmental communities to recognize the seriousness of climate change.

“One of our errors has been to see climate change only as an environmental issue,” he told HuffPost at the World Economic Forum in Davos, which hosts business, political and economic leaders. “We should never have framed it that way, and I hope we have not left it too late to create that intersectionality.”

In its report published last October, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that the world has only 12 years left to avoid catastrophic climate change. Both Greenpeace and Amnesty believe that direct action is essential to wake people up to the immediacy of the problem.

Jennifer Morgan, head of Greenpeace International, told HuffPost that it is important for people to rise up and engage in nonviolent direct action to bring the urgency of this message to corporate leaders in a different way. She highlighted that this week more than 30,000 school students went on strike in Belgium seeking greater action on climate change and children in Berlin took to the streets calling for an early coal phase-out.

“The youth are demanding to be heard. The question is, why isn’t the Davos elite responding with the scale and pace required?” she said. “We have no time to waste.”

Naidoo, who was Morgan’s predecessor at Greenpeace International, believes one focus for direct action should be to push for an end to financial investments in the most polluting industries. That should include going after the big banks, he said, as they continue to fund the fossil fuel industry and are more sensitive to consumer pressure.

The idea of the Summit, said Naidoo, is not for it to dictate or try to coordinate centralized actions but rather to unite individuals and organizations so that they can collaborate in pushing for change. He pointed to new forms of protest such as the Extinction Rebellion movement, one of the many youth-driven civil disobedience movements focused on climate change. It began in the U.K. and is now launching chapters across the globe, including in the United States. Naidoo added that big international NGOs aren’t organizing this mobilization and that this sort of decentralization should be encouraged.

Both Naidoo and Morgan used the end of the WEF to lambast the politicians and business leaders present for not recognizing the planetary emergency we face. Naidoo criticized the leaders present and accused them of only caring about maintaining the status quo, pointing to their failure to act in the wake of the 2008 global financial collapse and the Asian financial crisis a decade earlier. Discussions about the need to scrap fossil fuel subsidies and address tax havens after the last global financial crisis had taken place, he said, but nothing significant had materialized.

“We need to fundamentally rethink what structural and systemic changes are needed in the economy to make sure we address climate and dangerous inequality, which is leading to massive social tensions. Instead, all we have seen is system recovery, system maintenance and system protection.”

As the world tinkers on the brink of a climate catastrophe, Morgan said, “it is deeply disturbing that … avoiding further temperature rise is not at the very center of all of the meetings of CEOs and world leaders.”


A New Study About Roundup and Cancer Doesn't Say What You Probably Think It Does

Is this just another example of epidemiologists torturing the data until they confess to a spurious but headline-grabbing statistical significance?

California school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was awarded $286 million in damages last August in his lawsuit alleging that his use of the popular weedkiller glyphosate (sold as Roundup by Monsanto, now a division of A.G. Bayer) had caused him to fall ill with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). A judge later cut the award to only $78 million. The company reportedly faces 9,300 other plaintiffs alleging that the herbicide caused their illnesses.

"Glyphosate has a more than 40-year history of safe use. Over those four decades, researchers have conducted more than 800 scientific studies and reviews that support the safe use of glyphosate," asserted a statement from the company after the trial. "The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) both recently reaffirmed glyphosate does not cause cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other regulatory authorities in Europe, Canada, Japan, Australia, Korea, and elsewhere routinely review all approved pesticide products and have consistently reaffirmed that glyphosate does not cause cancer."

Who should you believe?

On its face, a new study published last week finding that exposure to glyphosate does increase the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in humans by 41 percent seems like a gift to the plaintiffs and their attorneys and a confirmation of their claims. The researchers obtained their result by conducting a meta-analysis of previous studies. This finding stands in contrast with the results of the 2017 Agricultural Health Study (AHS) in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which found "no association was apparent between glyphosate and any solid tumors or lymphoid malignancies overall, including NHL and its subtypes." (The AHS has been monitoring the health of thousands of pesticide applicators for a couple of decades now.)

Forty-one percent sounds pretty bad, but let's put in context. About 20 new cases of NHL are diagnosed per 100,000 men and women each year. Assuming that 41 percent figure is right, that would suggest that 8 additional new NHL cases would be expected each year for every 100,000 exposed to glyphosate. Interestingly, the incidence rate of NHL has remained essentially flat even after the advent of herbicide resistant biotech crops encouraged the rising use of glyphosate. Keep in mind that your lifetime risk of developing or dying from cancer if you are male is 40 and 22 percent respectively. If female, the odds are 38 and 19 percent.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine cancer epidemiologist Geoffrey Kabat takes the new study apart and suggests that its findings are badly flawed. The main problem, he argues, is that the researchers combine the results from five case-control studies and one large cohort study which happens to be the one reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute cited above. Case-control studies are notoriously susceptible to the effects of bias, which may be introduced as a result of a poor study design or during the collection of exposure and outcome data.

Kabat points out that the authors of the new meta-analysis combined findings from low quality case-control studies with those of the much higher quality AHS cohort study. Kabat then persuasively argues that in order to drag their meta-analytic results over the finish line to statistical significance, the authors of the new study picked only the highest relative risk ratio figure for NHL from the AHS study. If they had chosen any of the other three AHS risk ratios reported for NHL Kabat suggests that their "overall result would likely not have been statistically significant."

"One can't escape the impression that the motivation behind what presents itself as a disinterested academic study was to include a selected and unrepresentative result from the highly-respected AHS in their meta-analysis and use the far inferior case-control studies to jack up the summary relative risk to obtain a statistically-significant finding," concludes Kabat.

Time will tell if this new study is just another example of broken science in which epidemiologists keep torturing the data until they confess to a spurious but headline-grabbing statistical significance.


Business Leaders Care Even Less About Climate Change Than They Did Last Year

With all the evidence of a coming climate catastrophe, which threatens the very future of civilization, one would expect humanity to put every effort into solving the crisis. But time and again, we see how difficult it is for the majority of people to rise to the challenge.

This is particularly true of the business community, which in the West is built largely on ensuring that the next quarter’s profits roll in to keep shareholders happy and result in executive bonuses.

A telling piece of evidence presented at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting this week in Davos is hidden away in a flagship survey of 1,378 chief executives from more than 90 countries. It shows that concerns about climate change and environmental damage have sharply fallen over the past year.

In 2018, the annual poll by professional services provider PwC showed a rather paltry 31 percent of chief executives were “extremely concerned” by climate change. The problem then barely squeezed into the top 10 perceived threats, below issues such as increasing tax burdens and the availability of key skills.

But this year, with rising alarm over trade threats and populism, only 19 percent of business leaders highlighted the risks of climate change, which fell to 13th place on their list of priorities.

“I am rather shocked by this,” said Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International, visibly shaken when I showed her the PwC results. “By focusing on short term profits, they are missing this moment in history. For me, we are at a moment where we need to step back and look deeply into ourselves and how we stand as a species and internalize the state of emergency and then decide if we want to be on the right side of history or not.

“The fact that CEOs’ biggest concern in the PwC report is overregulation tells me they do not understand and have not read the IPPC report on climate change.” The report, published in October by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, found that the world is rapidly running out of time for avoiding catastrophic climate change.

Many CEOs believe in their minds that if they are talking about climate change and creating some initiatives around it, then they are taking care of it, Morgan said. But because they have not faced up to the issue for so long, she added, “we need a whole different approach with all hands on deck. There is a point of no return where we cannot turn back the impacts and the world can be overrun by runaway climate change.”

Morgan called for young people to rise up and engage in nonviolent direct action “to bring this message to corporate leaders in a different way.”

Christiana Figueres, the architect of the Paris climate agreement and now the convener of Mission 2020, a global initiative to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, said she was hugely disappointed CEOs failed to see the gravity of the situation. Especially, she added, when there are enormous opportunities from tackling climate change.

“Businesses are in the position they are as a result of a focus on quarterly profit statements. If you plan corporate strategy around this, then this is the result you get,” Figueres said.

Business leaders are not alone in failing to focus on longer-term dangers at the expense of what is currently in their face, Figueres added. “We all do this. We tend to focus on the exceedingly urgent short term rather than the much larger consequences over the longer term.”

Figueres used the metaphor of a doctor telling someone they may suffer a heart attack in the future unless they start now to exercise more and eat healthier food. Despite this, the patient often ignores the advice and focuses on more immediate obligations.

This interpretation is supported by the research of Daniel Gilbert, a psychology professor at Harvard University, who found that humans are not wired to deal effectively with long-term problems.

In an interview with NPR, Gilbert said we are much more likely to take alarm at terrorism. Global warming, he said, is “not something that threatens us this afternoon, but rather something that threatens us in the ensuing decades.”


A dumb idea

Aiken Pitchmen below thinks he breathes out pollution

The sudden usage of the term climate change over global warming is no coincidence. While a distinction between the terms does exist, most politicians use them interchangeably. Yet since 1995, the term climate change has surpassed in usage. This change in language was influenced by the facetious response ‘global warming’ received. After being proved false by the existence of snowballs, climate scientists and reasonable politicians realized that their language matters.

The importance of political terminology has been noted by both Democratic and Republican politicians repeatedly. In the early 2000’s, Republicans realized they couldn’t be anit-homosexual. The phrase pro traditional marriage was adopted instead. When the Affordable Care Act was released, the same party took advantage of the nickname Obamacare. Among Mr. Obama’s critics the act was easy to confuse and demonize. The strategy worked as was demonstrated in the ironic 2017 town hall meetings. A no different approach has been taken by the Democratic party and climate change supporters.

The term climate change has failed and become a partisan issue. The G.O.P has adopted it as another point of ridicule. Senator McConnel recently teased the Green New Deal, a resolution popularize by Representative Ocasio-Cortez, by stating it will demonstrate how many Democrats support ending “cow farts”. Of course, if you do not have the academic background, it can be difficult to understand how methane from cows is contributing climate change.

The term climate change and solutions for it are simply too vague. Furthermore, the elements that cause climate change are too complex to grasp for the average American. Vague plans with complex problems do not appeal to voters. A new approach needs to be taken.

The Democratic party needs to start advertising climate change as problem that Americans can understand. The simple and fundamental contributor to climate change is pollution. Pollution, unlike climate change, has recognizable private costs.

Pollution comes in many forms. Starting with air pollution. It is well known and documented that running cars and burning coal contributes to dirty air and water acidity. These are numbers that can be clearly measured and observed. The direct impact of these actions can be seen from the accumulation of smog in cities such as Los Angeles and Beijing. Studies by the World Health Organization showed that polluted air can contribute to decrease in life expectancy and other studies showed an increase in birth defects.

Damage to oceans and rivers has additional harmful effects. The impact of dirty energy practices were exemplified by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In addition to demolishing the local ecosystem, the incident stifled the local fishing industry. Shrimp and fish catchers began uncovering mutated sea life. The pollution of water bodies brings troubles on land as well. Farmers and communities that depend on irrigation can bring in contaminated water that damages crops and poisons wells. Communities, such as Woeburn, Massachusetts, are already familiar what can happen when industry is not properly curtailed in their waste practices. In the 1980’s the town suffered multiple child deaths to Leukemia due to heavy metals disposed in local wells by companies.

The argument can continue with plastic pollution. Plastic is poorly managed, often clumping up in clusters of litter across the United States. Plastics do not easily or quickly decompose. Recent studies have demonstrated that the ubiquity of plastic has resulted in the presence of micro-plastics in the ocean. These plastics are consumed inadvertently by sea life. Plastics can climb to the top of the food chain and even make their way onto one’s dinner plate.

The patent platform that can be built off of an emphasis on curbing pollution is hard to fight against. Arguing that such pollution does not exist is silly. Most forms of pollution and their results can be seen and observed, respectively. If the facts are argued to be false today, than a unwise politician is committing political suicide.

To suggest that people’s lives are not at risk, is to ignore clearly recorded data. Much climate change data has been ignored, because the consequences of the phenomenon are unclear. Many predictions are built around models. Models always have error and generate a degree of skepticism, giving critics a platform. Arguments against increase deaths and birth defects are harder to defend.

Once pollution is accepted as a social crisis, the legislation can be pushed to cease it. Alternative technology can be built to reduce pollution. Not surprisingly, much of this progress will be the same as has been proposed for climate change.


Outrage as it's announced one million tonnes of sludge will be dumped in the water surrounding the Great Barrier Reef

The stuff below is very misleading.  All that is happening is that mud from one part of the sea bottom will be moved to another part of the sea bottom.  It will NOT be dumped onto the reef and there will be no increase in the total amount of mud in the area

One million tonnes of sludge will be dumped in the water surrounding the iconic Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority approved the jettison of the waste through a loophole in the federal laws that are meant to protect the landmark.

The announcement of the dumping comes only a week after floodwaters from Queensland flowed into the reef, with experts saying the dirty water will 'smother' the coral.

The federal laws heavily restrict what can and can't be released into the water surrounding the natural wonder.

But an exploit in the laws means materials generated from port maintenance work can legally be dumped in the reef.

The residue is dredged from the bottom of the sea floor near Hay Point Port - one of the world's largest coal exports.

Larissa Waters, co-deputy leader of the Greens Party, called for change, saying it would be the same as treating the reef like a garbage dump.

'The last thing the reef needs is more sludge dumped on it, after being slammed by the floods recently,' she told the Guardian.

'One million tonnes of dumping dredged sludge into world heritage waters treats our reef like a rubbish tip.' 

However, Dr Simon Boxall from the National Oceanography Centre Southampton says the dumping is only the beginning of the problems. 'If they are dumping it over the coral reef itself, it will have quite a devastating effect. The sludge is basically blanketing over the coral,' he told the BBC.

He says the sludge-dumping is a short-term issue, with the Australian summer bringing about 'rapid algae growth'.

He says more funding should be allocated to finding a less environmentally detrimental area to dump waste, but admits the money isn't easy to come by. 'It'll cost more money but that's not the environment's problem - that's the port authorities' problem.'

Last year, Australia pledged half a billion dollars to protect the Great Barrier Reef - which has lost 30 per cent of its coral due to rising sea temperatures. [The coral loss was temporary and it was due to falling sea levels, not temperature variations]



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