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The Environment Book, Introduction

chess in natureLyla Byrne dedicates this work to Myah

From the mountains of West Virginia, decapitated for their coal, to the once lush paradise of the Niger Delta, now a hell of leaked oil and gas flares; from the melting ice caps to the poisoned rivers of the countryside and the poisoned air of the cities; the pursuit of profit – with its many invasive and stultifying effects in society - continues to devastate our environment. Every ecosystem on the planet is in decline, and there is already an unusually high rate of species loss. The vast majority of biologists believe that we are either at the brink of, or already in, a mass extinction event.

We have responsibility for how we affect other creatures, and we also rely upon them. They both supply for us directly, and are essential to the creation of all our life support systems. For instance, amongst many other contributions, trees oxygenate the air; and bees, as well as making honey, pollinate flowers so that fruits develop, providing food, and the seeds for new growth. However, deforestation has been continuing apace; and bees have been suffering from various effects of climate change, together with the use of pesticides (which weaken immune systems) and herbicides (which eliminate wild flowers) and the replacement of gardens with car parks.

In a tragic irony, the now dominant methods of production and distribution, which have been praised for bringing abundance (for some, and of a type), are actually detrimental to the natural abundance of our environment that is necessary for our existence. Another example of this is the use of inorganic nitrogen fertilizers. These cause soil degradation and erosion, pollute waterways, increase dependence on pesticides, decrease the nutritional value of food, and form nitrous oxide in the air – which is a greenhouse gas. In a word, this is unsustainable.

Of course, such practices have developed in capitalism, and have thus largely developed as they have, and/or been held in place as they are - despite the known dangers and the known alternatives – for financial reasons. In capitalism success can be measured, and power can be kept or gained by the amount of profit that is made. So there is a strong tendency for profit to be prioritized, and for those who prioritize profit to keep or gain power. Also, destructive farming practices, for instance, have not only been developed and held in place due to the profit priority of agri-business; they have been integral to the whole profit making network of business being as it is: Chemical, oil, military/armaments, car, supermarket, advertising, banking etc.

Capitalism is based on financial ownership, and in it a minority financially own, and thus control, most of this network; and are thus inordinately powerful. Money can be provided to monopolize media outlets, to pay for mega public relations and advertising campaigns, to buy scientists and lawyers, to lobby governments for policies and lawmaking in all areas (including education, foreign affairs and homeland security as well as provision of subsidies and tax breaks), and for the election campaigns of candidates who favour ‘business as usual’ *1. So a minority have remained in control, even in democracies, despite the fact that their activities have numerous socially and environmentally detrimental effects.

Common sense, compassion and appreciation of life still survive and bring us benefit despite the inhospitable system that we find ourselves in; they do their best to function in the system to supply for healthy life; but it is a system which inexorably depletes psychological, community and ecological health, and human wellbeing is now set to plummet.

Polluting and wasteful industry and war, and the polluting and wasteful social arrangements and lifestyles that they supply are now brewing up imminent global catastrophe for humanity – but the subject has been relatively rarely mentioned, and almost always understated.  Government action and media coverage is hopelessly inadequate for alerting us and advising us on affective action. Rather, the mass media seems to be used to sedate us, misinform us, and distract us from what is happening.

It is of course the ultimate threat to the capitalist system that we might realise that we cannot have a healthy future – or probably even survive - by serving the profit of a minority; by working in these systems and buying into them – keeping them going; by poisoning and pillaging our environment and buying into the stupidity and cruelty; by fighting each other and buying into the spoils of horrific wars; by supporting all this by voting for the governments that are the gofers for it.
 
It is the ultimate threat to the capitalist system that we might realise that the ruthless competition that capitalism champions will leave us all with nothing; and that the only way we can survive and have a healthy future is by joint ownership/stewardship of resources and peaceful global cooperation to serve community and environmental wellbeing.
 
So in common parlance the environmental crisis has been a something of a taboo subject – because it entails questioning the whole economic set up, and in particular the property owners/controllers who are capitalisms ultimate authority figures. Also, because of the dearth of uncensored information, most of us do not know enough about the situation; except for our sense that it requires big changes that we have not had enough support to make. Then if the subject does come up it is boring; ‘Oh, not global warming again’.

Well yes, here we go again, I’m afraid: Human activity is producing large amounts of heat trapping gases into the atmosphere. Mainly carbon dioxide and water vapour from burning fuel, methane from the meat and dairy industries and gas flaring (part of the oil industry), nitrous oxide from non organic agriculture, and more methane from waste dumps.  At the same time human activity is causing large scale deforestation – i.e. cutting down trees which absorb carbon dioxide, store the carbon and release oxygen *2. And hardly anyone has been planting trees.

So the planet is out of balance – there is more in coming heat from the sun being retained than is released into space.  Also, oxygen levels are going down because oxygen in the atmosphere combines with the carbon and nitrogen that is being released to make carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (NO2), and because of deforestation.
 
There is little leadership from those with financial power towards reducing emissions, because they are maintaining their financial power/control/rule by making profits from activities that produce emissions.
 
Instead, it is good for profit making if we do not understand what is happening/don’t care/feel obliged to go along with it/fear the kind of changes that are needed. It is also good for profit making if we don’t understand each other, so we don’t get together and start providing for ourselves in alternate and sustainable ways. Indeed it is good for profits if we fear and hate each other – especially when public support and armies are required for a war, so that corporations can get control of more resources for making more profit – regardless of how much killing, maiming, waste and pollution are involved.
 
Some corporations have even been funding global warming denialism, and human cause denialism*3, to try to ensure that the profits keep rolling in. However, the heat retaining properties of certain gasses are well known; plus we know that we have been producing these gasses in ever larger quantities for the last hundred and fifty years or so.
 
Evidence for increasing amounts of global warming gasses in the atmosphere does not only come from measuring parts per million; as evidence for global warming does not only come from using our thermometers. Glaciers and the polar ice caps are visibly reducing, sea levels are rising, deserts are expanding, and the ranges of many animals and plants are moving north.
 
In most studies that are carried out scientists are saying ‘the changes are happening faster than we thought they would’. It is looking increasingly likely that the arctic will have its first completely ice free summer for more than two and a half million years by 2040 or earlier; and other effects on the climate are bound to be dramatic. The forerunners of modern humans evolved between 400,000 and 250,000 years ago, and modern humans about 200,000 years ago. In other words, the conditions overall will be beyond those that we have adapted to for survival/healthy life.
 
Globally the weather is already noticeably changing. In the Northern Hemisphere, freezes now come a week later and thaws a week earlier. Higher temperatures and melting ice are both causing changes to air pressure and ocean currents, which in turn are changing wind patterns and intensities. Along with this, more water is evaporating from warmer oceans; so some areas are getting heavier rainfall and more flood damage, whilst other areas are losing rainfall, and are ravaged by drought and wild fires. Climate change is already causing people to lose their homes due to storms and sea level rise*4a, and is already a major factor in heat waves (*11b), the spread of disease*4b, famine*4c, and wars over water supplies*4d. There are clear correlations between the increasing frequency of these events and rising temperatures.
 
In the sea, the foundations of the main marine ecosystems are Coral reefs and plankton; and they are both adversely affected by higher water temperatures. Corals suffered the worst extent of damage ever recorded in 1998, with some areas having bleach (death) rates of 70%.

Many still deny that human caused emissions are having a significant effect on global temperature rise, but I have not come across any of them addressing the associated problem of ocean acidification. Increasing amounts of (what are actually indisputably) global warming gases in the atmosphere, together with sulphates from burning coal and from oil refineries, are increasingly dissolving into the oceans, where they cause acidification. Corals are not only suffering from the heat. Acids erode existing reefs, whilst increasing acidity reduces the amount of available calcium carbonate – which is needed by marine organisms that build chalky shells and skeletons, including some types of plankton. Problems with larval shell formation are already being recorded.

Research, published this year (2012), looks at global temperature and ocean acidification data for the last 300 million years, during which time there were four other periods of significant global climate change. The current rate of ocean acidification is ten times faster than it was during the build up to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) about 56 million years ago, when a mass extinction of marine species occurred. It is faster by even more when compared to the aftermath of the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago, and the Permian mass-extinction 252 million years ago, when about 90% of Earth’s species disappeared*5.

A 2009 study in the journal Science reported that there hasn’t been as much CO2 in the atmosphere as there is now for 15 million years, when it was 5 to 10°F warmer and seas were 75 to 120 feet higher. The study notes that global warming has been associated in the past with an upward change in CO2 levels of about 100 parts per million, and joins other studies in confirming climate sensitivity to carbon dioxide *6. CO2 levels are known to have already risen by about 100 ppm in the last 180 years, a rise that has been occurring at increasing speed in tandem with the burgeoning growth  of fossil fuel based economies, and which corresponds to temperatures also rising at an increasing speed [this is looked at in more detail in Part One].

But still human activities keep pumping out global warming gases – and U.S. Department of Energy figures released in 2011 for the previous year show that the global output of carbon dioxide rose by the largest amount on record *7. This takes the atmospheric levels beyond the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007.

Respected scientific bodies are now reporting that temperatures are rising a lot faster than previously expected, and that we have until 2017 to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions if we are to avoid precipitating extreme climate change that we can no longer reverse, and which will cause mass destruction over the world *8. The time scale has been revised because i) emissions are more than they were expected to be and ii) there is accumulating evidence of extra warming being caused by amplifying feedbacks. These are other warming effects that are caused by the warming – that accelerate the warming process - and there are quite a few of them. For example:

1) The main ocean food chains start with marine algae, particularly phytoplankton, and end with fish, birds, marine mammals and humans. Marine algae are the primary food supply because they make themselves by photosynthesis, using water and dissolved minerals, CO2 and sunlight. They perform about half of all the photosynthetic activity on Earth. This means that they are responsible for about half of the CO2 that is absorbed, and about half of the oxygen produced by all existing plant life. However there are signs that some of the most useful phytoplankton for this purpose are already diminishing in abundance due to ocean acidification. It is acknowledged by the marine biologist community that if the temperature and acidity levels of the oceans continue to rise as they are at present, these phytoplankton will be in will be in steep decline by 2030 *9a. So we are at the beginning of a feedback whereby more CO2 is being left in the atmosphere because of the effects of the higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, etc.

2) As mentioned earlier, one result of a warming biosphere is more water evaporating into the atmosphere. Water vapour is a greenhouse gas, so increasing amounts in the atmosphere means increasing warming of the biosphere, etc.*9b.

3) Global warming is causing more permafrost to melt each year. Permafrost is frozen earth containing a lot of decayed and decaying organic matter. As it melts it releases methane – which is a potent carbon based greenhouse gas*9c. There is even more methane frozen in ocean sediments (methane clathrates) and in gaseous methane below the clathrates, mainly along the continental shelves. The warming process is causing methane to emerge from beneath the sea bed and bubble up through the water. Large amounts have already been observed venting at the surface *9d. Methane is presently causing about a third of the total extra heat retention – which is causing more methane to be released – which is adding to heat retention etc. As warming continues, and buried gas expands, there is also an increasing danger of a sudden and large methane eruption.

There is about three times more carbon in the methane stores beneath the shallow seas than in all the Earth’s coal, oil and gas put together. If this is delivered into the atmosphere the heating effect will be immense. Also, although pure methane rises and disperses, methane from the ocean tends to initially hang in a mist that can move over the land, and can easily be set alight, by lightning for instance. So there is an added danger of methane explosions starting wild fires. There is evidence that methane release was a large factor in mass extinction events of the past, particularly the Permian mass-extinction, also known as ‘the great dying’*9d.

Methane also adds to acid rain and ocean acidification. Absorbed gaseous pollutants together with oil spills and numerous other types of pollution are turning the world’s oceans into an anoxic (de-oxygenated) acid bath. Marine life is already in decline due to temperature increase, poisoning and overfishing. If these trends go on, the ocean will cease to support aerobic life forms (those that use oxygen to respire) as it does today. Instead it will support bacterial, anaerobic microbes that release hydrogen sulphide (H2S) as a waste product. Some of this will react with water to form sulfuric acid, making the ocean even more acidic. Much will escape into the atmosphere, and some will combine with hydroxyl ions (OH-), which would otherwise break down methane (an amplifying feedback within and amplifying feedback). Some will react with ozone (O3), doing further damage to the ozone layer and increasing our exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

So it looks likely that amongst the various weapons of mass destruction that will be produced from capitalisms BAG - Business As Genocide – will be large quantities of asphyxiating gases, one of which is highly flammable. It is predicted that if humans survive the other effects of global warming, they may finally be extinguished by lack of oxygen *9e.
 
Most of the Earth’s systems known to have a significant effect on climate are now in net positive feedback. By causing more warming, each feedback mechanism accelerates itself - and accelerates the other feedbacks. Also, as the temperature of the biosphere goes up there is less inertia – or resistance to warming, which also allows for warming to speed up. In such a situation things can start to change very quickly indeed*11a.
 
If emissions of global warming gasses are not radically and swiftly reduced the frequency and extent of disasters will continue to increase. Global temperatures and ocean acidification will continue to rise, with calamitous consequences for terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Over ever wider areas fresh water supplies will dry up, the forests will burn (releasing carbon; i.e., this is another amplifying feedback) and the crops will desiccate in dust bowls; whilst in wet areas diseases of both plants and animals will spread and crops will rot on the ground. In the sea, coral reefs once teeming with diverse, multi-colored life, will be replaced by uniform bacterial slime, and fisheries will collapse.

Meanwhile, more cold fresh water will be released by melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, cooling the oceans in these regions and affecting nearby land temperatures. The steeper horizontal temperature gradients that result will drive more frequent and ferocious storms, which will combine with rising sea levels to deluge farm land, villages, towns and cities - displacing hundreds of millions of people. And that’s just for starters.

Global warming is a threat to health and safety of the most extreme and serious nature. Yet, as noted above, those with the power of ownership in capitalism are barely attending to it. Rather, many are trying to extend the practices that are causing it *11e.

There is little dillydallying when ‘health and safety’ laws are required - and required to be implemented - that will benefit big business: When it means that many us have to pay for a training course, or for new equipment from a large company for instance, and/or if it makes small businesses financially unfeasible, so large ones can acquire them/their customers cheaply. But when it comes to truly healthy life, there is a sudden lack of interest and activity.

As I write, some of the most powerful corporations in the world are pushing for a trade agreement, the ‘Trans-Pacific Partnership’ *10a, that would allow for previous environmental and social protection laws to be over ruled. This involves the establishment of an international tribunal to make sure that corporations get their way, and to make more money at the same time by suing ‘offenders’ – i.e.: those who try to uphold environmental/social protection laws that were previously made by democratically elected governments.

A similar deal, specifically concerning the exploitation of tar sands is currently on the table in Canada *10b. Extraction of oil from tar sands causes landscape and ecosystem removal and deforestation over vast areas, it is one of the most locally polluting industries, and from extraction to use inclusive is one of the highest carbon emitting forms of energy production. The Canadian tar sands ‘Giga project’ is planned to be the largest industrial site in the world accessing the second largest oil deposit in the world*10c. However, for the project of a healthy and safe future, the oil needs to stay where it is.

The global warming gasses being emitted now have atmospheric lifetimes. In other words, forces are being set in motion that will carry on having effects for decades at least. The longer that there are unrestrained emissions of these gasses, the more damage is done, the more difficult it becomes for us to balance the system, and the more likely it becomes that rising temperatures and the associated disastrous effects will get out of our ability to control. This is a scenario in which there is inevitable extreme climate change and the full extent of a mass extinction.

There is also a possibility that warming will not stop there; that the Earth’s systems will not be able to balance themselves over tens or hundreds of thousands of years as they have after previous mass extinctions, but will proceed to toxic inferno conditions in which no life can exist – and with no way back. And this will all happen in the space of few centuries. This is a possibility due to other conditions being different today to those in the geological past *11c.

Evidence shows that we are already in the early stages of runaway climate change. There is no longer any sufficient dampening/breaking process in the Earths systems, and the only way we can change course is by our own intervention. We have to generate negative feedbacks of sufficient power to overcome the positive feedbacks that are already in motion. *11a.

For this short moment in time, despite the damage being inflicted, the Earth is still abundantly providing for life; and we have the chance to save ourselves. If we direct our knowledge and technology into replenishing our communities and our environment, it is still possible for everyone to have comfort and security, and for this to be sustainable. But if we are to succeed this has to be the sole project. There can be no profit priority getting in the way.
 
Emissions have to be radically and swiftly reduced, and other ameliorating actions such as reforestation radically and swiftly increased.
 
There is huge potential in all areas: For improving energy efficiency; transferring our time from useless and harmful work to useful and helpful work for the project; sharing equipment and facilities to reduce the energy needed for production and maintenance; developing local renewable energy production; developing local services, production and waste management in general as much as is economical, and thereby cutting out packaging, transportation and the need to travel far to and from work or to access services and goods; organic farming; reforestation and sustainable forest management; other plant growth and composting; large reductions in meat consumption; generally non-polluting, efficient, humane and life enhancing practices; and for helpful innovations still to be discovered.
 
Population is obviously an issue; but studies have shown that wherever there has been sufficient improvement in economic security and education, that birth rates naturally decrease - and this could be taken further by informed agreement and programmes that facilitate adoption and ongoing support. We can provide economic security, education and social support for ourselves, in the kind of communities described above.

The capitalist system is utterly failing to enable anything like this. Instead, it is bringing us a new world order of perpetual war, mass austerity, poverty and imprisonment and no change to the production and building methods and general arrangements of society which maximize energy use and pollution. It is bringing us continuing pressure to buy stuff that is often all five: polluting to source, make, transport, use and throw away – and to buy as much of it as possible. Even the production and distribution of basic essentials is usually polluting because of the money saving and money making methods and arrangements that are used.

Corporations and governments are working hand in glove, not only to set themselves above social and environmental protection law, but also to take away constitutional, democratic and human rights from the rest of us. A capitalist future is shaping up to be a world of unlimited surveillance, intrusion, coercion, detention without due process of law, and overall violent oppression. It looks like this is how the minority owning class is planning on dealing with the further social breakdown that will inevitably result from the further economic crises and the further environmental breakdown that ongoing capitalism will produce.

The insanity of the heartless and myopic profit system is engulfing us in the most grievous and horrific social and environmental abuse by despotic state and corporate power. *12.

If we allow this to go on, the disaster is likely to be of such magnitude that the biosphere will take millions of years to recover anything like the wealth of life and life giving resources that human beings inherited – if it can recover at all – for life on Earth may be over for ever.

Of course capitalism is not our only problem - there are always challenges and difficulties in being human; but the service of profit and financial hierarchy imposes a thick layer of harmful, unnecessary demands and distractions on us, which has proved to detract to a disastrous degree from efficiently serving our needs for wellbeing.

Allegiance to the present system both depletes us and prevents healthy growth and development. Now the hour is late, but not yet too late if enough of us can see through the divisions, distortions and distractions caused by hierarchy and finance, and help each other to shed the suffocating and stultifying profit system like a dead skin.

If we hold resources in common, then responsibility is shared, and democracy cannot be manipulated or over ruled by minority ownership; nor is there any systemic pressure to prioritize anything other than benefit for the whole community. It is a system which gives us our best chance of working together and with the rest of nature with respect. And making a start we are helped by social and environmental amplifying feed backs of the healthy variety.

The support we need to do this has to come from each other. By organizing ourselves now with the common cause of the common good, it is still possible for us to create peace and prosperity and for everyone to enjoy all the marvelous things of life.

-- For more on global warming, please go here

Notes

1a ‘The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a trade association that acts as a corporate lobbying firm. It has a large hand in the failure of Congress to address climate change. It has plans to spend up to 100 million dollars in the closely contested U.S. elections this year in order to pack the U.S. government with politicians who will fight for increased corporate power.’ http://sumofus.org 

1b That’s the last time I will use the term “business as usual”. And here is why: The following are extracts from responses to:  An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts: How We Know Inaction Is the Gravest Threat Humanity Faces <http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2011/09/28/330109/science-of-global-warming-impacts/> By Joe Romm 

September 28, 2011 Bill Becker says: ‘Let’s no longer talk about “business as usual” as an option. There’s no such thing. For most people, I expect the phrase implies life as usual. But life will change no matter what action we take, or don’t take. “No Action” is a better way to label the path of suicidal stupidity.

September 29, 2011 Lewis Cleverdon says: Bill - I’d agree that Business As Usual is no longer useful as describing the status quo. There is no ‘Usual’ any more.

Yet ‘No Action’ just doesn’t cut it. We need a term that expresses the human reality of the outcome, that arouses the sense of solidarity and outrage rather than merely self-interested fears, and that focuses attention on business conduct and the White House failure to address that conduct, particularly via the international agreement of an equitable and efficient climate treaty.

To this end I’d suggest that BAU be replaced with BAG – ‘Business As Genocide’.
With rising climatic destabilization of farm yields (plus the immoral diversion of those yields to fuels) already causing unprecedented food insecurity globally, within a decade we may well see global crop failures occurring that cause unprecedented serial famines with genocidal outcomes. I’d suggest that under present policies we are pretty well certain to do so by 2040.’

‘BAG – ‘Business As Genocide’ may be emotive, but it is an accurate description of where current business practice and national climate policy is taking us.’ Lewis goes on to wonder if ‘it is in part a reluctance to date to properly describe that destination that has allowed our ongoing drift towards it?’

2 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change; The Physical Science Basis: Human and Natural Drivers of Climate Change; S.D. Solomon, et al.; 2007 <http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/spmsspm-human-and.html>

3 Think tanks, oil money and black ops 2010 <http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2828195.htm>                                                                             
Stop this culture of paying politicians for denying climate change <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2012/aug/02/climate-change-political-funding-us>

James Lawrence Powell, The Inquisition of Climate Science. About this book: The Anatomy of the Global Warming Denial Industry John W. Farley http://monthlyreview.org/2012/05/01/petroleum-and-propaganda

Greenpeace releases 20 year history of climate denial industry by Jim Hoggan 2010: <http://www.desmogblog.com/greenpeace-releases-20-year-history-climate-denial-industry>

How Exxon funds global warming denial <http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/exxon-secrets/

Scientists offered cash to dispute climate change: study by Ian Sample: <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/feb/02/frontpagenews.climatechange>

4a A sea of tears: the flooded people of South Bangladesh Tahmima Anam <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jun/20/south-bangladesh-flooding-ocean>

Pakistan floods show Asia’s vulnerability to climate changeJulian Hunt 2011 http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate-uk/2011/10/11/pakistan-floods-show-asias-vulnerability-to-climate-change/

The Maldives and climate change: No president is an island Director Jon Shenk talks to NTK about his documentary 2012 http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/the-daily-need/video-no-president-is-an-island/13705/

4b Disease emergence from Global Climate and Land Use Change
<http://vsites.unb.br/ib/cel/microbiologia/micromedica/3c.pdf>

Climatic factors influence the emergence and re-emergence of infectious diseases, in addition to multiple human, biological, and ecological determinants. <http://www.climate.org/resources/climate-impacts/health/abstracts/disease.html>

Climate change and infectious diseases - World Health Organization
<http://www.who.int/globalchange/publications/climatechangechap6.pdf>

4c Scientists Link Famine In Somalia To Global Warming Saki Knafo 2011 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/19/somalia-famine-climate-change-global-warming_n_930935.html>

UNRAVELING THE ROOT CAUSES OF FAMINE By Professor Herbert Girardet 2011 <http://www.apeuk.org/articles/unraveling-root-causes-famine>

4d “When the Water Ends: Africa’s Climate Conflicts.” Evan Abramson - Almost unnoticed by the mainstream media, the political consequences of global climate change are playing out in East Africa. Drought is forcing people to spend hours each day transporting water.
 
The north end of Lake Turkana has retreated from southern Ethiopia into northern Kenya in the last 35 years, and Ethiopia’s controversial dam project on the Omo River threatens to deprive people downstream of the water they need to survive. Tribes that have co-existed peacefully for centuries along the border between Kenya and Ethiopia are going to war over diminishing water resources as their livestock dies, their crops fail, and they starve.
 
There are unconfirmed reports that the Ethiopian government is arming indigenous tribes near its border with Kenya. Evan Abramson spent six weeks on a self-funded trip, documenting the causes and consequences of the conflicts on the Ethiopian/Kenyan boarder in photos and video. MediaStorm turned Abramson’s work into a 16-minute video production, which was published by Yale Environment 360, the online publication of Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. <http://e360.yale.edu/feature/when_the_water_ends_africas_climate_conflicts/2331/>

Dying for Water in Somalia's Drought By Emily Wax Washington Post Foreign Service Friday, April 14, 2006 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2006/04/13/AR2006041302116.html>
 
Civil War in Sudan: The Impact of Ecological Degradation
ENVIRONMENT AND CONFLICTS PROJECT (ENCOP) International Project on Violence and Conflicts Caused by Environmental Degradation and Peaceful Conflict Resolution Mohamed Suliman
<http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/cvlw_env_sdn.html>

Drought and conflict in south Sudan by Helen Mould ‘Poverty, malnutrition and disease soar as tensions over water resources increase.’ <http://www.aljazeera.com/focus/2009/12/2009121862817311870.html>

U.K. Secretary of state for energy and climate change says growing pressure on water resources could worsen existing war and lead to new ones http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/22/water-wars-countries-davey-warns/print
 
The Water War in Bolivia <http://www1m.mesh.ne.jp/~apec-ngo/english/water/2002_speech_Pablo_Solon.htm>

5 Oceans Acidifying Faster Today Than in Past 300 Million Years Science Daily Mar. 7, 2012 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120307145430.htm>  For this and related news.

ALSO: Nature Geoscience study: Oceans are acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred <http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2010/02/18/205525/ocean-acidification-study-mass-extinction-of-marine-life-nature-geoscience/>  2010 about a study from 2009.

6 From thinkprogress.org/climate, on a study in the journal ‘Science’:  Science: CO2 levels haven’t been this high for 15 million years, when it was 5° to 10°F warmer and seas were 75 to 120 feet higher — “We have shown that this dramatic rise in sea level is associated with an increase in CO2 levels of about 100 ppm.” <http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2009/10/18/204789/science-co2-levels-havent-been-this-high-for-15-million-years-when-it-was-5%c2%b0-to-10%c2%b0f-warmer-and-seas-were-75-to-120-feet-higher-we-have-shown-that-this-dramatic-rise-in-sea-level-i/> 2009 (includes notes on and references to the three other studies)

The study: Coupling of CO2 and Ice Sheet Stability Over Major Climate Transitions of the Last 20 Million Years <http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1178296>

7 Biggest jump ever seen in global warming gases by Seth Borenstein. <http://phys.org/news/2011-11-biggest-global-gases.html

8 World headed for irreversible climate change in five years, International Energy Agency warns. If fossil fuel infrastructure is not rapidly changed, the world will 'lose for ever' the chance to avoid dangerous climate change. By Fiona Harvey
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/09/fossil-fuel-infrastructure-climate-change%20>

9a Antarctic climate change tipping point warning
<http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/features/antarctic-climate-threat/story-e6freorx-1111118006775>  Nov. 2008
 
9b About water vapour: <http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php?a=19&amp;p=2>

Study: Water-vapor feedback is “strong and positive,” so we face “warming of several degrees Celsius” <http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2008/10/26/203243/study-water-vapor-feedback-is-strong-and-positive-so-we-face-warming-of-several-degrees-celsius/>

9c Defrosting of the permafrost  Tundra, Part 2: The point of no return <http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2008/05/23/202656/tundra-part-2-the-point-of-no-return/>   
9d Massive release of methane from the ocean floor: <http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/vast-methane-plumes-seen-in-arctic-ocean-as-sea-ice-retreats-6276278.html>

Extensive Methane Venting to the Atmosphere from Sediments of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf. Science, 5 March 2010:  <http://www.sciencemag.org/content/327/5970/1246.abstract>

Methane venting observed off the coast of San Diego NASA 2008 – see 11a
 
9e <http://www.killerinourmidst.com/>

10a The Nation: "NAFTA on Steroids"
<http://www.thenation.com/article/168627/nafta-steroids>

The Guardian: "The Pacific free trade deal that's anything but free"
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/27/pacific-free-trade-deal>

Huffington Post: "Leak Cracks Open Trans-Pacific Partnership Scandal"
<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ian-fletcher/leak-cracks-open-transpac_b_1594675.html>

Reuters: "Lawmakers press for open Trans-Pacific trade talks"
<http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/27/us-usa-congress-trade-idUSBRE85Q1MK20120627>

TechDirt: "Hollywood Gets To Party With TPP Negotiators; Public Interest Groups Get Thrown Out Of Hotel"
<http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20120131/23161417605/hollywood-gets-to-party-with-tpp-negotiators-public-interest-groups-get-thrown-out-hotel.shtml>

Electronic Frontier Foundation: "Background and analysis of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement"
<https://www.eff.org/issues/tpp>
 
10b Prime Minister Harper could pass the most massive corporate power handover in Canadian history.

<http://www.leadnow.ca/canada-not-for-sale-sou>   ‘FIPA, the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement could give foreign corporations sweeping powers to sue Canadian governments for implementing environmental protections on the tar sands, or for stopping the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline and other projects like it. And worse, these lawsuits would happen in secret.’

Canada-China Investment Deal Allows for Confidential Lawsuits Against Canada (Toronto Star)
<http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1264290--canada-china-investment-deal-allows-for-confidential-lawsuits-against-canada>

Tories quietly table Canada-China investment treaty (Globe and Mail)
<http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/tories-quietly-table-canada-china-investment-treaty/article4573635/>
<http://boundarysentinel.com/news/comment-premier-clark-supports-canada-china-trade-deal-abandons-bcs-constitutional-rights-21686#.UJFP76DRmt8>

10c Tar Sands: Indigenous People And The Giga Project - Dirty Oil Sands <http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=4&amp;ved=0CEIQFjAD&amp;url=http://www.dirtyoilsands.org/files/IEN_CITSC_Tar_Sands_Info_Sheet.pdf&amp;ei=dLimUKTLPJLT4QTwuYCgBA&amp;usg=AFQjCNHeiHhJL9wqrWGYyBtqy9wm>

<http://www.dirtyoilsands.org/files/IEN_CITSC_Tar_Sands_Info_Sheet.pdf>
 
11a Catastrophic Climate Change & Runaway Global Warming - David Wasdell 2008 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbXuvQQt9YY>

11b Why I must speak out about climate change by James Hansen 2012 <http://www.ted.com/talks/james_hansen_why_i_must_speak_out_about_climate_change.html>  

11c The Science of Global Catastrophe by James Hansen 2009
<http://bigthink.com/ideas/17894>  

11d Storms of My Grandchildren
The truth about the coming climate catastrophe and our last chance to save humanity 2009 by James Hansen  
              
11e Crimes Against Humanity 2012 Dr. James Hansen On Climate Change <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zi12lZIdGjQ&amp;feature=related

11f <http://www.killerinourmidst.com/> This site has the most impressive list of citations as evidence that I have ever seen.

12a How the Magna Carta became a Minor Carta, part 1 Noam Chomsky 2012 <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/24/magna-carta-minor-carta-noam-chomsky

12b Ignoring the Law and Authorizing Torture is Not Misconduct According to Justice Department by Jessica Pieklo  <http://www.care2.com/causes/ignoring-the-law-and-authorizing-torture-is-not-misconduct-according-to-justice-deptartment.html>

12c Obama Administration Endorses Continued Spying on Americans Justice Department Moves to Squash NSA Spying Suits. By Tom Burghardt
<http://www.globalresearch.ca/obama-administration-endorses-continued-spying-on-americans>

12d Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning by Tom Burghardt (AK Press)
‘The meticulously researched articles in this anthology expose the state's national security blueprint for destroying democracy and crushing dissent. Deploying "civil disturbance" strategies as part of a comprehensive doctrine of "homeland defence", police, national guard, and elite army counterinsurgency units are gearing up for "operations other than war" in US cities.’

12e A new Cyber security bill would grant President Obama unprecedented power to shut down the internet and ignore privacy laws. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qd2nnq-Sbo8&amp;feature=player_embedded>

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Federal Authority Over the Internet? The Cybersecurity Act of 2009 <https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/04/cybersecurity-act>

The Impending Cybersecurity Power Grab – It’s not just for the United States <https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/04/impending-cybersecurity-power-grab-its-not-just-united-states> April 2012

Google Transparency Report Shows Rising Trend of Government Surveillance <https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/11/google-transparency-report-shows-rising-trend-government-surveillance> Nov 15, 2012

Senate Defeats Dangerously Vague Cybersecurity Act—Again <https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/11/senate-defeats-dangerously-vague-cybersecurity-act-again> Nov 14, 2012

U.S. Copyright Surveillance Machine About To Be Switched On, Promises of Transparency Already Broken <https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2012/11/us-copyright-surveillance-machine-about-be-switched-on> Nov 15, 2012

12f A documentary adaptation Naomi Klein's 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDwdAv6HX_w>                                                  

12g <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f0sBA61L0Y>  Naomi Wolf talks about her book ‘The End of America’

12h Naomi Wolf: 'Obama can lock any US citizen up without trial' <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLSeD19m3UE&amp;feature=related

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