June 2016. This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate
...book by Naomi Klein, Polish edition released. The original book was published in 2014....
2014-06-10. Enter halophytes. Excerpt: ...Salt kills most plants. ...More than 97 per cent of the water on Earth is saline. ...Of the 400,000 flowering plant species around the world, 2,600 do drink seawater. They are halophytes, meaning ‘salt-plant’, and they might just be the answer to a question surprisingly few governments have yet asked: namely, how can we put our planet’s practically infinite volumes of saltwater to good use? ...between sea-level rise and the increase in droughts and floods, the acreage available for conventional, freshwater agriculture is shrinking rapidly. Freshwater aquifers are becoming increasingly salty.... Elsewhere, one-sixth of the world’s population relies on Eurasian rivers that trace back to Himalayan glaciers, which are themselves disappearing because of climate change. ...Meanwhile, we are trying to replace our fossil fuels with bio alternatives. ...The only catch is, they come from plants that also have to be grown and cultivated. With limited arable land and increasingly limited freshwater supplies.... Air travel, in fact, might just be the factor that forces the issue. In 2015, the world’s airplanes are projected to consume 75 billion gallons of jet fuel, and consumption is expected to keep growing some 3-4 per cent per year through the next two decades. At NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, Bilal Bomani runs the Green Lab, a research and teaching lab that investigates both halophyte- and algae-based biofuels in aviation. He guesses that actual shortages will drive the industry to look to new resources. ‘We do not have fuel that will sustain us for the next 50 years,’ Bomani says. ‘You’re either going to do it now, or you’re going to be forced to do it later. ...as a key that unlocks agriculture across four-tenth’s of the world’s land mass, they clearly deserve our close attention.... By Mark Anderson, Aeon Magazine. http://aeon.co/magazine/nature-and-cosmos/are-halophytes-the-crop-of-the-future/
2012 June 12. Woolly Mammoth Extinction Has Lessons for Modern Climate Change. By Alison Hewitt, ScienceDaily. An article relevant to GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 8. Excerpt: Although humans and woolly mammoths co-existed for millennia, the shaggy giants disappeared from the globe between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago, and scientists couldn't explain until recently exactly how the Flintstonian behemoths went extinct…although hunting by people may have contributed to the demise of woolly mammoths, contact with humans isn't the only reason this furry branch of the Elephantidae family went extinct. By creating the most complete maps to date of all the changes happening thousands of years ago… researchers showed that the extinction didn't line up with any single change but with the combination of several new pressures on woolly mammoths…"It's not just the climate change that killed them off," MacDonald said. "It's the habitat change and human pressure. Hunting expanded at the same time that the habitat became less amenable."....
2010 Mar 3. Life After Growth.
by Richard Heinberg. Excerpt: ...there are fundamental constraints to ongoing economic
expansion, and the world is beginning to encounter those constraints.
This is not to say the U.S. or the world will never see another quarter
or year of growth relative to the previous year. Rather, the point is
that when the bumps are averaged out, the general trend-line of the
economy (measured in terms of production and consumption of real goods)
will be level or downward rather than upward from now on.
survive and thrive for long, societies have to operate within the
planet's budget of sustainably extractable resources. This means that
even if we don't know exactly what a desirable post-growth economy and
lifestyle will look like, we know enough to begin working toward them.
is possible for economies to persist for centuries or millennia with no
or minimal growth. That is how most economies operated until recent
times. If billions of people through countless generations lived without
economic growth, we can do so as well—now and far into the future. The
end of growth does not mean the end of the world.
...Life in a
non-growing economy can be fulfilling, interesting, and secure. The
absence of growth does not imply a lack of change or improvement. Within
a non-growing or equilibrium economy there can still be a continuous
development of practical skills, artistic expression, and technology....
one seriously expects human population to continue growing for
centuries into the future. But imagine if it did—at just 1.3 percent per
year (its growth rate in the year 2000). By the year 2780 there would
be 148 trillion humans on Earth—one person for each square meter of land
on the planet's surface.
It won't happen, of course....
2008 Summer. Making Megacities
Livable. The Interdependent, Vol. 6 No. 2. pp. 31-32. Excerpt: In 1900 150 million people lived
in cities. By 2000, it was 2.8 billion people, a 19-fold increase. As of
2008, more than half of us are living in cities - making us, for the
first time, an urban species. In 1900 there were only a handful of
cities with a million people. Today 414 cities have at least that many
inhabitants. And there are 20 megacities with 10 million or more
residents. Tokyo, with 35 million residents, has more people than all of
Canada. Mexico City's population of 19 million is nearly equal to that
of Australia. New York, São Paulo, Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Delhi,
Shanghai, Kolkata (Calcutta) and Jakarta follow close behind. Rethinking
How We Get Around [We] are seeing the emergence of a new urbanism, a
planning philosophy that environmentalist Francesca Lyman says "seeks to
revive the traditional city planning of an era when cities were
designed around human beings instead of automobiles." One of the most
remarkable modern urban transformations has occurred in Bogotá,
Colombia, where Enrique Peñalosa served as mayor for three years. Under
his leadership, the city banned the parking of cars on sidewalks,
created or renovated 1,200 parks, introduced a highly successful
bus-based rapid transit system, built hundreds of kilometers of bicycle
paths and pedestrian streets, reduced rush-hour traffic by 40 percent,
planted 100,000 trees and involved local citizens directly in the
improvement of their neighborhoods. In doing this, he created a sense of
civic pride among the city's eight million residents, making the
streets of Bogotá in this strife-torn country safer than in Washington,
11. Can People Have Meat
and a Planet, Too? By ANDREW C. REVKIN. NY Times. Excerpt: The world has seen the first
international conference on manufacturing meat. This is the process,
tested so far only at laboratory scale, of growing pork, chicken, or
beef through cell culture in vats instead of raising and slaughtering
…The three-day meeting of the In Vitro Meat Consortium, held
at the Norwegian Food Research Institute, is wrapping up today. It
brought together biologists, engineers, government officials and
entrepreneurs seeking - for both environmental and ethical reasons - to
move from animal husbandry to technology as a means of providing the
kind of protein people crave in a world heading toward 9 billion ever
more affluent mouths.
A paper presented at the meeting concluded
that, for the moment, the costs of cultured meat can't come close yet to
competing with, say, unsubsidized chicken. (A pdf is downloadable
here.) The paper noted the reality of the climb up the protein
ladder as countries move out of poverty, with global meat consumption at
about 270 million metric tons in 2007 and growing at about 4.7 million
tons per year.
It laid out the theory: "The environmental impact of
meeting this forecast demand from existing livestock systems is
significant. Cultured meat technology offers an alternative production
route for a proportion of this consumption. This would then allow a
downsized livestock production system to continue to be ecologically
sound and to meet basic animal welfare needs."
The group noted that
costs for research, large-scale testing, and public relations will be
significant, and anticipated that governments and nonprofit groups would
chip in. That seems idealistic, at best, in a world with deeply
entrenched interests linking ranching, the agrochemical industry, and
giant restaurant chains.
…For the moment, startup costs aside, the
conferees concluded that unsubsidized chicken-raising still comes in at
half the price. But the century is yet young…
Articles from 2008–present
Population Reference Bureau http://www.prb.org/
United Nations Population