TPP Would Deepen Income Divide » TripleCrisis

Those at the top have never done better,” President Obama ruefully acknowledged in his January 28 State of the Union speech. “But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened.”

Yet, moments later, Obama heartily endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which as drafted directly reflects the demands of “those at the top” and would, if passed, severely intensify the very inequality spotlighted by the president. The TPP would provide transnational corporations with easier access to cheap labor in Pacific Rim nations and new power to trump public-interest protections—on labor, food safety, drug prices, financial regulation, domestic procurement laws, and a host of others—established over the last century by democratic governments. The nations currently negotiating the TPP—which together comprise nearly 40%of the world economy—include the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. Among them, Malaysia, Brunei, Mexico, Singapore, and Vietnam, are all notorious violators of labor rights The TPP’s labor provisions are far too weak to begin uplifting wages, conditions, and rights for workers in these nations.

As with NAFTA, the TPP will benefit U.S. companies relocating jobs to low-wage, high-repression nations, argues economist Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). This would also exert strong downward pressures on the pay of U.S. workers, “Most U.S. workers are likely to lose out from the TPP,” Weisbrot says.

via TPP Would Deepen Income Divide » TripleCrisis.

UN Chief Warns Plans For Prosperity ‘Will Be Undone’ Without Climate Action

The United Nations secretary-general on Sunday urged world policymakers to do more to address the threat of climate change as negotiators attempt to forge a new global warming pact next year.

Speaking to hundreds of international delegates at the start of a climate gathering in Abu Dhabi, Ban Ki-moon warned that time is running out to reduce harmful emissions and that political leaders need to offer bold commitments to drive meaningful change.

“If we do not take urgent action, all our plans for increased global prosperity and security will be undone,” he warned.

Ban was in the United Arab Emirates capital to mark the start of a conference meant to lay the groundwork for a climate summit he has called for world leaders in September.

via UN Chief Warns Plans For Prosperity ‘Will Be Undone’ Without Climate Action.

The New Abolitionism | The Nation

n 2012, the writer and activist Bill McKibben published a heart-stopping essay in Rolling Stone titled “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math.” I’ve read hundreds of thousands of words about climate change over the last decade, but that essay haunts me the most.

The piece walks through a fairly straightforward bit of arithmetic that goes as follows. The scientific consensus is that human civilization cannot survive in any recognizable form a temperature increase this century more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Given that we’ve already warmed the earth about 0.8 degrees Celsius, that means we have 1.2 degrees left—and some of that warming is already in motion. Given the relationship between carbon emissions and global average temperatures, that means we can release about 565 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere by mid-century. Total. That’s all we get to emit if we hope to keep inhabiting the planet in a manner that resembles current conditions.

Now here’s the terrifying part. The Carbon Tracker Initiative, a consortium of financial analysts and environmentalists, set out to tally the amount of carbon contained in the proven fossil fuel reserves of the world’s energy companies and major fossil fuel–producing countries. That is, the total amount of carbon we know is in the ground that we can, with present technology, extract, burn and put into the atmosphere. The number that the Carbon Tracker Initiative came up with is… 2,795 gigatons. Which means the total amount of known, proven extractable fossil fuel in the ground at this very moment is almost five times the amount we can safely burn.

Proceeding from this fact, McKibben leads us inexorably to the staggering conclusion that the work of the climate movement is to find a way to force the powers that be, from the government of Saudi Arabia to the board and shareholders of ExxonMobil, to leave 80 percent of the carbon they have claims on in the ground. That stuff you own, that property you’re counting on and pricing into your stocks? You can’t have it.

via The New Abolitionism | The Nation.

Krugman: Worried About Oligarchy? You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet | Common Dreams

The world in fact has moved on a long way in the last 25 years and not in a direction you’re going to like because we are seeing not only great disparities in income and wealth, but we’re seeing them get entrenched. We’re seeing them become inequalities that will be transferred across generations. We are becoming very much the kind of society we imagine we’re nothing like.”

via Krugman: Worried About Oligarchy? You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet | Common Dreams.

Sustainability is destroying the Earth | Deep Green Resistance New York

Don’t talk to me about sustainability.  You want to question my lifestyle, my impact, my ecological footprint?  There is a monster standing over us, with a footprint so large it can trample a whole planet underfoot, without noticing or caring.  This monster is Industrial Civilization.  I refuse to sustain the monster.  If the Earth is to live, the monster must die.  This is a declaration of war.

What is it we are trying to sustain?  A living planet, or industrial civilization?  Because we can’t have both.

via Sustainability is destroying the Earth | Deep Green Resistance New York.

Dahr Jamail | Evidence of Acceleration of Anthropogenic Climate Disruption on All Fronts

Dahr Jamail | Evidence of Acceleration of Anthropogenic Climate Disruption on All Fronts.

Climate change report: ‘The worst is yet to come’ – as it happened | Environment | theguardian.com

Human-driven climate change poses a great threat, unprecedented in type and scale, to well-being, health and perhaps even to human survival,” write three of the contributors to the IPCC report’s health chapter.

Writing for Australia’s the Conversation, professors Colin Butler and Helen Louise Berry, and Emeritus professor Anthony McMichael say the focus has been largely on “spurious debate about the basic science and on the risks to property, iconic species and ecosystems, jobs, the GDP and the economics of taking action versus taking our chances.”

Missing from the discussion is the threat climate change poses to Earth’s life-support system – from declines in regional food yields, freshwater shortage, damage to settlements from extreme weather events and loss of habitable, especially coastal, land. The list goes on: changes in infectious disease patterns and the mental health consequences of trauma, loss, displacement and resource conflict.

via Climate change report: ‘The worst is yet to come’ – as it happened | Environment | theguardian.com.

Geoengineering is Not the Answer to Climate Change | EcoWatch

Had we addressed the problem from the outset, we could have solutions in place. We could have found ways to burn less fossil fuel without massively disrupting our economies and ways of life. But we’ve become addicted to the lavish benefits that fossil fuels have offered, and the wealth and power they’ve provided to industrialists and governments. And so there’s been a concerted effort to stall or avoid corrective action, with industry paying front groups, “experts” and governments to deny or downplay the problem.

Now that climate change has become undeniable, with consequences getting worse daily, many experts are eyeing solutions. Some are touting massive technological fixes, such as dumping large amounts of iron filings into the seas to facilitate carbon absorption, pumping nutrient-rich cold waters from the ocean depths to the surface, building giant reflectors to bounce sunlight back into space and irrigating vast deserts.

But we’re still running up against those pesky unintended consequences.

via Geoengineering is Not the Answer to Climate Change | EcoWatch.

NASA: Earth Could Warm 20 Percent More Than Earlier Estimates | EcoWatch

According to a statement on the study from NASA, researchers developing warming estimates by calculating the Earth’s “transient climate response.” This measure determines how much global temperatures will change as carbon dioxide’s atmospheric presence grows at about 1 percent per year until the total amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide has doubled. Transient climate responses have range from near 2.52 degrees in recent research, to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) estimate of 1.8 degrees. Shindell’s study estimates a transient climate response of 3.06 degrees. He says it is unlikely values would cool below 2.34 degrees.

The global mean temperature change estimates from a new NASA report. The dashed line shows estimates assuming uniform sensitivity to all forcings, while the solid line shows results including the enhanced sensitivity to the inhomogeneous aerosol and ozone forcings. Graphic credit: Nature Climate Change journal

His study also considers how aerosols, or airborne particles contribute to climate change in the Northern Hemisphere. Aerosols are produced by both natural sources like volcanoes and wildfires, as well as by manufacturing, driving automobiles, producing energy  and more. Some aerosols cause warming, depending on their components, while some create a cooling effect. According to NASA, it is necessary to account for atmospheric aerosols in order to understand the role carbon dioxide emissions have on global warming.

via NASA: Earth Could Warm 20 Percent More Than Earlier Estimates | EcoWatch.

Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for ‘irreversible collapse’? | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com

A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”

The research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary ‘Human And Nature DYnamical’ (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.

via Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for ‘irreversible collapse’? | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment | theguardian.com.