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Arctic permafrost thawing faster than ever

Permafrost in the Arctic is thawing faster than ever, according to a new US government report that also found  Arctic   seawater is war...


mercoledì 23 novembre 2016

The Climate Apocalypse

For people living in the Arctic—especially the 60,000 Inuit people living in 53 communities throughout four massive regions—the climate apocalypse is already here.

"The sea level rise and melting permafrost have combined for some of our communities to have literally fallen into the sea, especially in the Western Arctic," Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, told VICE. "There are immediate concerns that we have about the sustainability of some of our communities based on climate change."
Climate scientists and analysts agree the globe must stay below two degrees Celsius—or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit—of warming above pre-industrial averages by 2100 in order to have a chance of avoiding catastrophic levels of climate change.
Some countries, including Canada, agreed to an "aspirational goal" of a 1.5 degrees Celsius limit at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference; the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees of warming "marks the difference between events at the upper limit of present-day natural variability and a new climate regime," according to a recent study written by climate researchers.
But in the Western Canadian Arctic, the annual average temperature has already gone up five degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times, says Michael Byers, Canada Research chair in Global Politics and International Law and author of Who Owns the Arctic?: Understanding Sovereignty Disputes in the North.
The entire region is warming at twice the rate as the rest of the world due to a trend known as "polar amplification." There's ongoing debate about what causes this phenomenon, with potential factors including large weather systems transporting heat to the poles, increasing snow and ice cover loss, and changes in cloud cover and atmospheric water vapor.
Whatever the reason, the situation has reached absolute crisis level. Sea ice levels in both the Arctic and Antarctica are currently at record lows, while temperatures over the Arctic Ocean are currently 20 degrees Celsius hotter than usual.
"The Arctic exists in a balance between ice and water, between the frozen and unfrozen," Byers told VICE. "A change of just a couple of degrees can dramatically change the Arctic environment. It can transform ice-covered ocean into open water. The effects of climate change are brutally visible in the Arctic today."
To be sure, the trend has been noticed for decades by Inuit elders, hunters, trappers, and fishers.
Paul Crowley, director of the WWF's Canadian Arctic Program, says that indigenous people had long observed the sun was coming up at a different time of year and angle than usual, only to be dismissed as "crazy" by white southerners. It turned out that atmospheric conditions had indeed changed, resulting in more humidity and refraction. The elders were right.
That was only the beginning. There have been major shifts in caribou populations in the Eastern Arctic, requiring a hunting moratorium on Baffin Island. Obed says elders have noticed a decline in the quality of the taste of meat from animals, as well as skins for use in clothing.
Invasive species have spiked with the shrinking of tundra; there's been new growth of willows, shrubs, and other non-tundra organisms. Skidoos collapse through paths that have been driven on for the past 40 years. Roads are becoming more dangerous. Weather is becoming less predictable. The ice, which Obed describes as "our highway for eight to ten months of the year," is forming later in the fall and disappearing more quickly in the summer.
"The very basis of of the foundation of our safety in the Arctic is being undermined from a world that now is very different than it once was," says Obed, who emphasizes that Inuit communities still depend on traditional food sources.
Many northern mines rely on permafrost to contain tailings waste; Crowley—who served as principal secretary to former Nunavut premier Eva Aariak—notes the potential consequences of a warming Arctic on such structures are "considerable."
He says there's much more in common between Arctic communities and "small island developing states" that are going to literally disappear with rising sea levels: "What's at stake here is much more dramatic and impactful than it is perhaps in the more temperate areas of Canada," says Crowley, who helped create the organization Many Strong Voices that connects the struggles of, for instance, Fiji and Iqaluit.
There are very critical needs on the climate policy front.
Canada will have to find a way to cut annual emissions by an additional 91 megatonst o meet its moderate 2030 targets and Paris Agreement obligations, which will likely require burning of political capital in Alberta to reject proposed projects like the Kinder Morgan's Trans-Mountain pipeline and TransCanada's Energy East pipeline (which experts suggest would allow for oil sands expansion that would push emissions far past acceptable limits).
Any international progress made on climate change will have to be expanded as the Americans withdraw.
That will require a decision to help Arctic communities decarbonize as quickly as possible. Obed says all 53 Inuit communities currently operate on diesel generation. More than 70 communities in Alaska use "hybrid renewable systems," in which multiple power sources such as wind, solar, and hydro are combined. There aren't any such systems in Canada.
Climate-resilient infrastructure for drinking water, wastewater, and solid waste disposal will also have to be built in order for communities to maintain self-sufficiency.
But that necessitates a reminder: The Canadian government has never cared about the north, save for access to resource extraction projects such as Giant Mine and the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline (the latter of which was rebuffed in the 1970s following heavy opposition from Dene, Inuit, and Métis people, but has since been resurrected).
There's been a "distinct underinvestment in the Northern territories," to quote Crowley. That's resulted in a serious "poverty trap" and inability for territorial governments to invest in climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.
There have certainly been some strong initiatives taken at the local level. In early November, the Nunavut government announced the creation of a climate change secretariat, while the WWF and Ecojustice are teaming up with ongoing Inuit-led fight for an expanded national marine conservation area in Lancaster Sound.
Much more will be needed. That's where the federal government must start investing serious dollars in the north.
"You address the suicide crisis," says Byers, who notes funding is the one thing the feds can bring to the table that indigenous people cannot. "You address the housing crisis. You address the education crisis. It is complex, but the fact of the matter is that northern indigenous peoples need increased supports from the federal government, so they can become those strong allies in the fight against climate change and other challenges in the north."
Byers says the surprising resignation of former fisheries minister Hunter Tootoo, who was the lone representative of Arctic constituents in cabinet, "resulted in a lack of focus on Arctic issues." He also notes the election of Trump will likely result in six months of "wait and see in Ottawa with very, very little decision making on policy."
But the deadline to be able to take action by is coming very soon. It may have already passed. There's been more positive rhetoric about climate policy and the Arctic since the Liberals were elected. Obed says there needs to be far greater urgency, with mitigation and adaptation measures implemented as soon as possible.
"I don't think we have a lot of time," he says. "It isn't just a matter of it being five degrees hotter in the summer and having to put on an extra layer of sunscreen. It is a matter of us being able to rely on the foundations of our society and pass that information onto our children. It's that foundation because our society is so much based on ice and snow and cold."

The Climate Apocalypse Has Already Arrived for People Living in the Arctic James Wilt November 21, 2016

Most plants and animals cannot adapt at the rate the climate is changing, scientists have said.
A study of more than 250 species found their ability to change their "climactic niche", the conditions under which they can survive, will be vastly outpaced by future changes in rainfall and temperature. 
Although some animals might be able to move to cope with rising temperatures, others live in isolated areas which they cannot leave. 
Amphibians, reptiles and plants are particularly vulnerable, according to US researchers and tropical species are at higher risk than those which live in temperate zones.
Ecologists analysed how quickly species had changed their climatic niches over time, and how these rates compared with that of global warming.
They analysed 266 populations of plants and animals, including insects, amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles.
Rates of change in climatic niches were much slower than rates of projected climate change, by more than 200,000 fold for temperature on averag,, they said.
In October, the most comprehensive survey of wildlife ever carrier out suggested the world is hurtling towards the first mass extinction of animal life since the dinosaurs were wiped out 65 million years ago.
By 2020, the populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and other vertebrate species are on course to have fallen by more than two-thirds over a period of just 50 years, the Living Planet report found
“Overall, our results show that rates of climatic niche change among populations of plants and animals are dramatically slower than projected rates of future climate change,” said Tereza Jezkova and John Wiens, of the University of Arizona.
Mammals and birds might be better placed to survive than amphibians and reptiles, because they have the ability to regulate their own body temperatures, said Dr Wiens.
And, while some species might be able to move to higher latitudes or elevations to survive, “for a lot of organisms, that is not an option”.
It's a double jeopardy of climate change and habitat destruction,” he said.

Climate change happening 'too fast' for plant and animal species to adapt Charlotte England 23 11 2016 

Devastating Images Of Climate Change, From California To India JOHN BROWNLEE 11.30.16 

There's no point trying to fight climate change - we'll all be dead in the next decade and there's nothing we can do to stop it, a visiting scientist claims.

Guy McPherson, a biology professor at the University of Arizona, says the human destruction of our own habitat is leading towards the world's sixth mass extinction.

Instead of fighting, he says we should just embrace it and live life while we can.

"It's locked down, it's been locked in for a long time - we're in the midst of our sixth mass extinction," he told Paul Henry on Thursday.

But Professor James Renwick, a climate scientist at Victoria University, says people should not use his words more as an excuse to give up.

While he agrees that climate change is possibly the "biggest issue humanity has ever faced", he says "giving up is not really helpful".

Instead, Prof Renwick says he hopes Prof McPherson's 10-year claim will encourage people to take action.

"This is a really big issue and the consequences could be catastrophic," Prof Renwick says. "Though certainly [humans won't all die off] in 10 years or even 1000 years."

The effects of climate change were first noticed 30 years ago and Prof Renwick says the sooner we get onto working against it, the less there will be to do.

"I'd love to see [people] take it on board as it is a very serious issue."

Prof McPherson's comments come just days after Climate Change Issues Minister Paula Bennett appointed a 10-strong team to advise the Government on how New Zealand can adapt to climate change.

But if the visiting professor is right, it could all be a waste of time.

"I can't imagine there will be a human on the planet in 10 years," he says.

"We don't have 10 years. The problem is when I give a number like that, people think it's going to be business as usual until nine years [and] 364 days."

He says part of the reason he's given up while other scientists fight on is because they're looking at individual parts, such as methane emissions and the melting ice in the Arctic, instead of the entire picture.

"We're heading for a temperature within that span that is at or near the highest temperature experienced on Earth in the last 2 billion years."

Instead of trying to fix the climate, Prof McPherson says we should focus on living while we can.

"I think hope is a horrible idea. Hope is wishful thinking. Hope is a bad idea - let's abandon that and get on with reality instead. Let's get on with living instead of wishing for the future that never comes.

"I encourage people to pursue excellence, to pursue love, to pursue what they love to do. I don't think these are crazy ideas, actually - and I also encourage people to remain calm because nothing is under control, certainly not under our control anyway."

New Zealand has been criticised by the international community for not doing enough to fight climate change - this month being awarded two Fossil of the Day awards at the UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakech.

The awards are for the country's failure to live up to climate promises and the continued use of "dodgy" carbon credits.

Humans 'don't have 10 years' left thanks to climate change - scientist Breanna Barraclough 24 Nov 2016

Human extinction - top five ways we're all going to die  Tony Wright 25 Nov 2016

Stephen Hawking; humanity has less than 1000 years left until extinction 18 NOVEMBRE 2016

The struggle to preserve global biodiversity must be seen as an integral part of a broader fight to challenge an economic and social system based on feckless, suicidal expansion.

excerpt from Ashley Dawson's new book, Extinction: A Radical History (OR Books, 2016)
The philosophy of ‘in the long run we are all dead’ has guided economic development in the First and Third Worlds, in both socialist and capitalist countries. These processes of development have brought, in some areas and for some people, a genuine and substantial increase in human welfare. But they have also been marked by a profound insensitivity to the environment, a callous disregard for the needs of generations to come… It is what we know as the ‘global green movement’ that has most insistently moved people and governments beyond this crippling shortsightedness, by struggling for a world where the tiger shall still roam the forests of the Sunderbans and the lion stalk majestically across the African plain, where the harvest of nature may be more justly distributed across the members of the human species, where our children might more freely drink the water of our rivers and breathe the air of our cities. --Ramachandra Guha, Environmentalism: A Global History
If mainstream environmentalism has been coopted by such neoliberal policies, what would a radical anti-capitalist conservation movement look like? It would begin from the understanding that the extinction crisis is at once an environmental issue and a social justice issue, one that is linked to long histories of capitalist domination over specific people, animals, and plants. The extinction crisis needs to be seen as a key element in contemporary struggles against accumulation by dispossession. This crisis, in other words, ought to be a key issue in the fight for climate justice. If techno-fixes such as deextinction facilitate new rounds of biocapitalist accumulation, an anti-capitalist movement against extinction must be framed in terms of a refusal to turn land, people, flora, and fauna into commodities. We must reject capitalist biopiracy and imperialist enclosure of the global commons, particularly when they cloak themselves in arguments about preserving biodiversity. Forums for enclosure such as the UNFCCC’s Business and Biodiversity Initiative must be recognized for what they are and shut down. Most of all, an anti-capitalist conservation movement must challenge the privatization of the genome as a form of intellectual property, to be turned into an organic factory for the benefit of global elites. Synthetic biology should be regulated. The genomic information of plants, animals, and human beings is the common wealth of  the planet, and all efforts to make use of this environmental commons must be framed around principles of equality, solidarity, and environmental and climate justice.
Even well-meaning efforts to address extinction such as rewilding need to be challenged if they are not founded on considerations of globally redistributive climate justice. All too often rewilding schemes focus exclusively on wealthy areas of the planet. For instance, George Monbiot’s “Manifesto for Rewilding the World speaks exclusively of European rewilding schemes, and concludes by asking why Europe should not have a Serengeti or two. This begs the question of what responsibility Europe has for Tanzania’s Serengeti Park itself, as well as other wilderness areas in the global South. The record in this regard is deplorable. In 2013, for instance, Ecuador abandoned its Yasuni-ITT Initiative, which would the South? Moreover, if rewilding is seen as a way of saving charismatic African megafauna like the elephant from destruction by importing them to the badlands of Western Europe or North America, it will all too easily become a latterday form of imperial ecology, creating glorified zoos stocked with purloined African and Asian wildlife. Finally, rewilding makes strong arguments about the pivotal role of keystone species, but, in so doing, tends to reproduce the traditional bias in Western conservation efforts towards the large, the beautiful, and the charismatic. It is not a solution for the vast majority of flora and fauna threatened with extinction today.
An anti-capitalist conservation movement must not only be aware of histories of colonial expropriation of flora and fauna, but should focus on ways of fighting such forms of exploitation today. Wildlife in parks such as the Serengeti was revived following centuries of European colonial big-game hunting of native animals. Today, well-armed poachers again threaten megafauna in the world’s remaining biodiversity hotspots. While the poachers tend to send their culls of elephant tusks and rhino horns mainly to foreign markets, in most cases their weapons come from decades of proxy battles during the Cold War. Moreover, African states are often unable to challenge these poachers as a result of IMF and World Bank-administered structural adjustment policies that have left countries in the global South on the brink of collapse. Efforts to deal with the extinction crisis cannot focus on rewilding the global North alone, nor should they focus exclusively on interdiction of the global traffic in wildlife. An anti-capitalist movement against extinction must also address the fundamental economic and political inequalities that drive the slaughter of megafauna. The extinction crisis should be framed in the context of a new wave of extractivism that is denuding many poor nations, shunting their minerals, flora, and fauna to consumer markets in industrialized nations. This new extractivism should be seen for what it is: a fresh wave of imperialism that is decimating poorer nations by removing the biological foundation of their collective future.
What would be the shape and fundamental goals of an expansive anti-capitalist movement against extinction and for environmental justice? It would have to commence with open recognition by the developed nations of the long history of ecocide charted in this book. Such an admission would lead to a consequent recognition of the biodiversity debt owed by the wealthy nations of the global North to the South. Building on the demands articulated by the climate justice movement, the anti-capitalist conservation movement must demand the repayment of this biodiversity debt. How would this repayment take place? As REDD demonstrates, states in the global South cannot always be counted on to disburse funds received from the North in a just manner; indeed, at present they collude all too often with resource exploiting corporations by displacing genuine land stewards such as indigenous and forest-dwelling peoples. The climate justice movement’s call for a universal guaranteed income for inhabitants of nations who are owed climate debt should serve as a model here. Why not begin a model initiative for such a carbon and biodiversity-based guaranteed income program in the planet’s biodiversity hotspots? Of the twenty five terrestrial biodiversity hotspots, fifteen are covered primarily by tropical rainforests, and consequently are also key sites for the absorption of carbon pollution. These threatened ecosystems include the moist tropical woodlands of Brazil’s Atlantic coast, southern Mexico with Central America, the tropical Andes, the Greater Antilles, West Africa, Madagascar, the Western Ghats of India, Indo-Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines, and New Caledonia. They make up only 1.4% of the Earth’s surface, and yet, according to E.O. Wilson, these regions are “the exclusive homes of 44% of the world’s plant species and more than a third of all species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.” All of these areas are under heavy assault from the forces of enclosure and ecocide. A universal guaranteed income for the inhabitants of these hotspots would create a genuine counterweight to the attractions of poaching, and would entitle the indigenous and forest-dwelling peoples who make these zones of rich biodiversity their homes with the economic and political power to push their governments to implement significant conservation measures.
Where would the capital for such a guaranteed income program for biodiversity hotspots come from? There is certainly no shortage of assets. As Andrew Sayer has argued, the 1% have accumulated their increasingly massive share of global wealth by siphoning off collectively produced surpluses not through hard work but through financial machinations such as dividends, capital gains, interests, and rent, much of which is then hidden in tax havens. Indeed, if we consider the massive upward transfer of global wealth that has taken place over the last half century, it would be fair to say that never before was so much owed by so few to so many. One way to claw back some of this common wealth would be through a financial transactions tax of the kind proposed by James Tobin. Such a Robin Hood tax, of even only a very small percentage of the speculative global capital flows that enrich the 1%, would generate billions of dollars to help people conserve hotspots of global biodiversity. Such funds could also be devoted to ramping up renewable energy-generating infrastructures in both the rich and the developing countries.
Yet a universal guaranteed income in recognition of biodiversity debt should not be a replacement for existing conservation programs. Instead, such a measure should be seen as an effort to inject an awareness of environmental and climate justice into debates around the extinction crisis. Biodiversity debt would thus augment existing conservation programs while militating against the creation of conservation refugees. In addition, rewilding and de-extinction, despite their significant flaws, may have a place in an anti-capitalist conservation movement, but only if they are reframed in terms of the history of ecocide. Rewilding, for instance, should not be undertaken in the global North without a commensurate pledge of economic assistance for conservation and rewilding of areas in the global South, whose present depleted state is often a direct product of the North’s extractive industries, from plantation slavery to the latest round of land grabs. Similarly, de-extinction may be employed judiciously, for example to reintroduce extinct versions of genes into species that have lost a dangerous amount of genetic diversity. Such efforts should, however, be designed to conserve existing biodiversity, particularly in endangered hotspots, rather than to resurrect extinct charismatic megafauna from the grave.
Any and all such efforts to work against extinction should be undertaken as acts of environmental solidarity on the part of the peoples of the global North with the true stewards of the planet’s biodiversity, the people of the global South. Only in this way can the struggle against extinction help promote not simply forgiveness and reconciliation, but also survival after five hundred years of colonial and imperial ecocide.
The struggle to preserve global biodiversity must be seen as an integral part of a broader fight to challenge an economic and social system based on feckless, suicidal expansion. If, as we have seen, capitalism is based on ceaseless compound growth that is destroying ecosystems the world over, the goal in the rich nations of the global North must be to overturn our present expansionary system by fostering de-growth. Most importantly, nations that have benefited from burning fossil fuels must radically cut their carbon emissions in order to stem the lurch towards runaway climate chaos that endangers the vast majority of current terrestrial forms of life. Rather than false and impractical solutions such as the carbon trading and geoengineering schemes championed by advocates of neoliberal responses to the climate crisis, anti-capitalists should fight for some version of the contraction and convergence approach proposed by the Global Commons Institute. This proposal is based on moving towards a situation in which all nations have the same level of emissions per person (convergence) while contracting them to a level that is sustainable (contraction).
A country such as the United States, which has only 5% of the global population, would be allowed no more than 5% of globally sustainable emissions. Such a move would represent a dramatic anti-imperialist shift since the US is at present responsible for 25% of carbon emissions. The powerful individuals and corporations that control nations like the US are not likely to accept such revolutionary curtailments of the wasteful system that supports them without a struggle. Already there is abundant evidence that they would sooner destroy the planet than let even a modicum of their power slip. Massive fossil fuel corporations such as Exxon, for example, have funded climate change denialism for the past quarter century despite abundant evidence from their own scientists  that burning fossil fuels was creating unsustainable environmental conditions. Such behavior should be seen frankly for what it is: a crime against humanity. We should not expect to negotiate with such destructive entities. Their assets should be seized. Most of these assets, in the form of fossil fuel reserves, cannot be used anyway if we are to avert environmental catastrophe. What remains of these assets should be used to fund a rapid, managed reduction in carbon emissions and a transition to renewable energy generation.
These steps should be part of a broader program to transform the current, unsustainable capitalist system that dominates the world into steady state societies founded on principles of equality and environmental justice.

Why the Extinction Crisis Isn't Just About the Environment, but Social Justice Ashley Dawson November 29, 2016 

Extinction: A Radical History 25 AGOSTO 2016

Capitalist Greed Pushing The World Into The Sixth Extinction 25 AGOSTO 2015

UNPRECEDENTED The Catastrophe of Capitalism MARCH 30, 2015


"This Changes Everything" Capitalism Vs. Climate SEPTEMBER 17, 2015

Technosphere and Sixth Mass Extinction 20 OTTOBRE 2015

The Annihilation of Nature 12 NOVEMBRE 2015

Carbon emissions put sixteen percent of species at risk of extinction May 14, 2015

Capitalist Greed Pushing The World Into The Sixth Extinction 25 AGOSTO 2015

Earth enters its Sixth Mass Extinction June 21, 2015

Human extinction in 100 years June 23, 2015

Killing the Planet: Living with Death in Mind May 25, 2015


Complete Ecosystem Collapse 25 LUGLIO 2016

Anthropogenic-induced climate changes 8 SETTEMBRE 2015

Anthropocene: a major shift in the biosphere 18 DICEMBRE 2015

Irreversible Cryosphere Climate Change 19 DICEMBRE 2015

Dawn of Extinction 26 MARZO 2016

RACING EXTINCTION La Scomparsa della Vita sulla Terra March 21, 2015


Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction 27 LUGLIO 2016

Una Rivoluzione ci salverà JANUARY 31, 2015

Connecticut bird faces extinction because of sea level rise  Jason Newton, WTNH Reporter 

New study reveals alarming decline of Patagonian geese Irene Lorenzo, 22 Nov 2016

Greenlighting a path to orca extinction: Kinder Morgan must be rejected Brett Soberg NOVEMBER 24, 2016

The Vaquita Are Vanishing On Our Watch KATHERINE HANLY – OCTOBER 27, 2016

Messico. Droni per salvare la vaquita, il mammifero marino più raro del mondo SARA MORACA 06 SET 2016

The fight to save the Amur Leopard    

Tell the Feds: Stop Turning Your Back on Red Wolves Center for Biological Diversity

Swansea research finds poisonous amphibian defences are linked to higher extinction risk Bethan Evans 23 November 2016

Environmentalists predict pipeline expansion will lead to extinction of orcas CTV Vancouver Island November 29, 2016

Poisoned to extinction: a bold new approach to saving Africa's vultures Obaka Torto, 16 Nov 2016

World's last wild tigers may be wiped out by bad planning of roads and railways Martha Henriques November 23, 2016

Bornean orangutans are now 'critically endangered' in the wild

The debate is over: Earth's sixth great extinction has arrived Bill Laurance & Paul Ehrlich 18th November 2016

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