Turning Yards into Gardens & Neighborhoods into Communities by Food Not Lawns & Heather Jo Flores

Bring the author & founder of Food Not Lawns to your town to teach workshops, plant gardens & build community.

Lawns are the Worst!

Americans spend over $30 billion every year to maintain over 40 million acres of lawn. Yet over 40 million people live below the poverty level. Even if only ⅓ of every lawn was converted to a food-producing garden, we could eliminate hunger in this country.

Lawns use more equipment, labor, fuel, and agricultural chemicals than industrial farming, making lawns the largest (and most toxic) agricultural sector in the United States. Lawnmowers burn more fuel every year than all industrial oils spills of the last twenty years, combined. Growing Food Not Lawns is a beautiful, responsible and empowering step towards finding real solutions to the major problems we face as a global society.

Grow Food, Not Lawns!

When the original chapter of Food Not Lawns started in 1999, in a tiny space behind a park in Eugene, Oregon, our vision was to share seeds and plants with our neighborhood, to promote local awareness about food security, and to learn about permaculture, sustainability and organic gardening.

Our project blossomed. We received a Neighborhood Improvement Grant from the City of Eugene, and conducted a low-cost permaculture design course for the neighborhood. We transformed most of the neighborhood lawns into lush organic gardens. We hosted annual seed swaps. Soon, we started to get mail from people around the country who were starting up local Food Not Lawns chapters of their own, and a movement had been born.

In 2006, co-founder Heather Flores published Food Not Lawns, How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community (Chelsea Green.) The first half of the book is about gardening in the city, with no budget and on shared land. The second half is about working with people to build community around shared food and resources.

The book sold over 25,000 copies, and now there are more than 50 affiliated Food Not Lawns groups in the United States, Canada, and the U.K.. The original Food Not Lawns collective just hosted its 16th annual seed swap, and the meme, “Food Not Lawns,” has taken root in the mainstreamconsciousness.

We need your Support!

Stickers, T-shirts and Yard Signs help spread the message

This campaign is a tool to raise funds for outreach and education, and every donation comes with a Reward that helps everyone.

Starter kits help you establish and expand your local Food Not Lawns project.

Website sponsorships connect people to your work (we place your logo on our website) and support the expansion of the long-standing website, www.foodnotlawns.org, into a user-generated network for sharing skills, knowledge, photos, events and other resources.

Consultations with Heather Flores help you get creative with your garden design and/or community project.

“50 ways to Grow Food Not Lawns,” a new audio handbook from Heather Flores, gives a fun overview of urban permaculture and lawn-transformation techniques.

Workshops in your community will help jump-start new gardens and strengthen local networks by bringing people together to share seeds, resources, tools and knowledge about permaculture, sustainability and organic food.

Food Not Lawns Workshop Tour

This is the main focus of this campaign, and if funding is successful, Heather Jo Flores will travel all over, teaching workshops and helping people turn lawns into gardens and neighborhoods into communities. Please note that all events on this tour will be booked through this Kickstarter campaign, as premium rewards. If you want your town to be on the tour, pledge $500 or more. You can sponsor the event yourself, collaborate with a local nonprofit or university, or sell advance tickets to workshop participants. Funding deadline is March 21 and at that time tour schedule will be confirmed and announced.

Hosting Heather Jo Flores in your community means so much more than just hearing her talk. Heather literally wrote the book on Food Not Lawns, and as one of the founding members, she has had her thumb on the pulse of this movement since the beginning. She emphasizes friendship-based learning, and her events always incorporate a heavy dose of community interaction and team-building play. Specific curriculum will be tailored to meet the needs of your community.To learn more about workshop details, visit foodnotlawns.org/events.html.

It’s Not Just About Gardening!

Food not Lawns is not just about gardening. It’s not just about food. And it is certainly not just about social media. We are about building neighborhood-based, friendship-driven communities, on the ground, in person, and for real.

FNL has always maintained a very simple approachWe help each other turn yards into gardens;

We host events to share seeds, plants, skills, tools, land and information;

And we educate and advocate for communities that want to take back control of their food from the corporate profiteers.

These actions, when combined, build empowered local networks, and help foster a strong sense of community-wide security, stability and sustainability.

Remember, if we don’t reach our goal of $10,000 by March 21, we don’t get any of the funding!

This means no tour, no t-shirts and no audiobook! We really want to share all of this with you, so please help us make it happen.

We Love you! See You Soon! More

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do agri-food systems contribute to climate change?

Agriculture and food security are exposed to impacts and risks related to the changing climate in several ways. On the other hand, agriculture and food production activities are also responsible for part of the greenhouse gas emissions that in turn cause climate change.

According to the latest conclusions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, agriculture, together with deforestation and other human actions that change the way land is used (codename: AFOLU, Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use), accounts for about a quarter of emissions contributing to climate change.

GHG emissions from farming activities consist mainly of non-CO2 gases: methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) produced by bacterial decomposition processes in cropland and grassland soils and by livestock’s digestive systems.

The latest estimates released in 2014 by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization [pdf] showed that emissions from crop and livestock production and fisheries have nearly doubled over the past fifty years, from 2.7 billion tonnes CO2e in 1961 to more than 5.3 billion tonnes CO2e in 2011.

During the last ten years covered by FAO data (2001-2011) agricultural emissions increased by 14 percent (primarily in developing countries that expanded their agricultural outputs), while almost in the same years (2001-2010) net GHG emissions due to land use change and deforestation decreased by around 10 percent (due to reduced levels of deforestation and increases in the amount of atmospheric carbon removed from the atmosphere as a result of carbon sequestration in forest sinks).

The current situation, as highlighted by a recent study led by FAO and published in Global Change Biology, sees farming activities more responsible for climate pollution than deforestation. Even thought emissions from agriculture and land use change are growing at a slower rate than emissions from fossil fuels, emissions reduction achieved thanks to better forest and soil management are cancelled out by a more intensive and energy-consuming food production systems. The FAO estimated that without increased efforts to address and reduce them, GHG emissions from the sector could increase by an additional 30 percent by 2050.

In a recent study published on Nature Climate Change, scientists pointed out that “the intensification of agriculture (the Green Revolution, in which much greater crop yield per unit area was achieved by hybridization, irrigation and fertilization) during the past five decades is a driver of changes in the seasonal characteristics of the global carbon cycle”.

As shown in the graph below, livestock-related emissions from enteric fermentation and manure contributed nearly two-thirds of the total GHG agricultural emissions produced in the last years, with synthetic fertilizers and rice cultivation being the other major sources.

According to another report by FAO (“Tackling climate change through livestock”, accessible here in pdf), the livestock sector is estimated to emit 7.1 billion tonnes CO2-eq per year, with beef and cattle milk production accounting for the majority of the sector’s emissions (41 and 19 percent respectively).

Emission intensities (i.e. emissions per unit of product) are highest for beef (almost 300 kg CO2-eq per kilogram of protein produced), followed by meat and milk from small ruminants (165 and 112kg CO2-eq.kg respectively). Cow milk, chicken products and pork have lover global average emission intensities (below 100 CO2-eq/kg). However, emission intensity widely varies at sub-global level due to the different practices and inputs to production used around the world. According to FAO, the livestock sector plays an important role in climate change and has a high potential for emission reduction.

Together with increasing conversion of land to agricultural activities and the use of fertilizers, increasing energy use from fossil fuels is one of the main drivers that boosted agricultural emissions in the last decades. FAO estimated that in 2010 emissions from energy uses in food production sectors (including emissions from fossil fuel energy needed i.e. to power machinery, irrigation pumps and fishing vessels) amounted to 785 million tonnes CO2e.

FAO latest data show that in the past two decades around 40 percent of GHG agricultural outputs (including emissions from energy use) are based in Asia. The Americas has the second highest GHG emissions (close to 25 percent), followed by Africa, Europe and Oceania.

According to FAO, since 1990 the top ten emitters are: China, India, US, Brazil, Australia, Russia, Indonesia, Argentina, Pakistan and Sudan.

Agricultural emissions plus energy by country, average 1990-2012. FAOSTAT database

The need for climate-smart agriculture and food production systems becomes even more compelling when considering the shocking level of waste within the global food system. According to the first FAO study to focus on the environmental impacts of food wastage, released in 2013 (accessible here in pdf), each year food that is produced and gone to waste amounts to 1.3 billion tonnes.

Food wastage’s carbon footprint is estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent released into the atmosphere per year, to which must be added significant amounts of agricultural areas (1.4 billion hectares, globally) and water (250km3) used annually to produce food that is lost or wasted.

How to meet global food needs (with global population projected to reach 9 billion in 2050) without overexploiting soil and water, and with lower emissions contributing to climate change (whose impacts in turn affect water and food security) is the greatest farming challenge of of today’s and tomorrow’s world. More

Credit: Best Climate Practices

 

International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions Highlighting Sea-Dumped Chemical Weapons

International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions

Deadly Depths

Underwater munitions pollute the marine environment with toxic chemicals. We have learned that there is a “need to clean” both chemical and conventional weapons based on potential human health impacts, as well as environmental implications through depleting fish stocks (CHEMSEA Findings Report 2013, Search and Assessment of Sea Dumped Chemical Weapons and Porter, JW, Barton J and Torres 2011, Ecological, Radiological and Toxicological Effects of Naval Bombardment on Coral Reefs of Isla de Vieques, Puerto Rico).

Terrence Long

Underwater Munitions are “Point Source Emitters of Pollution”. This means that in most cases, if we remove the source: we remove the problem. Off-the-shelf-technology developed by private sector, oil and gas industry, and military's unmanned systems programs, already exists to detect, map, recover and dispose of underwater munitions and the toxic waste they create. The International Dialogues on Underwater Munitions (IDUM's) mission is to promote the creation of an internationally binding treaty on all classes (biological, chemical, conventional, and radiological) of underwater munitions, to lead to the cleanup of our Oceans worldwide. IDUM hosts and attends international forums to facilitate collaboration with international leaders and organizations to better understand the socio-economic impact on both human health and environment from years of decaying underwater munitions. IDUM cooperates with researchers, industry, and government to foster collaborative solutions that further the clean-up of our oceans. We believe through international diplomacy via national and international programs, dialogue, conferences, workshops, committees, senate hearings, and commissions, we can come together globally to clean our One Ocea

IDUM is considered the international group of experts in Policy, Science, Technology and Responses to Underwater Munitions. We have been extremely effective in furthering international discussion, and creating a united appeal to international governments, as well as creating an International Technology Advisory Board on Sea Dumped Munitions. In support of our efforts, IDUM has been recognized in proceedings for Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Third Review Conference of State Parties, 2014 Noble Peace Prize winner and United Nations (Secretary General Report Sixty-eight session on Sustainable development) for our contributions within the Resolution on sea dumped chemical munitions.

IDUM takes action:

IDUM mobilizes working groups for policy science and technology of sea dumped munitions, and has hosted five (5) international dialogues. We have participated as an observer for Helsinki Commission Heads of Delegations for Protection of the Baltic Sea, as well as provided consultations within HELCOM MUNI Ad Hoc Working Groups on Sea Dumped Chemical Weapons. IDUM has also been a “Special Invited Guest” of the OSPAR Commission for the Protection of the North-East Atlantic Oceans, and participates as Co- Directors for CHEMSEA – Search and Assessment of Chemical Weapons, Baltic Sea and NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) – MODUM Project.

IDUM is on the Scientific Committee Polish Naval Academy for Marine Security Yearbook and board of directors for International Centre for Chemical Safety and Security (ICCSS). Most recently, IDUM has been invited to centralize our cooperation with global peace and security organizations at The Hague. Our Chairman, Mr. T. P. Long, will manage the office in The Hague and cooperate with the international community of The Hague (including States Parties and the United Nations) to represent your concerns in an open and transparent process.

Mission Statement

The International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions (IDUM) is a non-governmental organization/Society founded in 2004 by Mr. Terrence P. Long following his appearance at a Canadian Senate Hearing with the Senate Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. The IDUM's mission is to promote the creation of an internationally binding treaty on all classes (biological, chemical, conventional, and radiological) of underwater munitions. This treaty would encourage countries to collaborate on underwater munitions policy, research, science, and responses including environmentally-friendly remediation in affected regions. The IDUM is an internationally recognized body where all stakeholders (diplomats, government departments including external affairs, environmental protection and fishery departments, industry, fishermen, salvage divers, oil and gas, militaries and others) can come together in an open and transparent forum to discuss underwater munitions, seek solutions, and promote international teamwork on their issues related to underwater munitions. The IDUM promotes constructive engagement with all stakeholders rather than disengagement so that we may learn from one another's situation and determine how we can best respond in the future with everyone's considerations. What we have learned is that off-the-shelf-technology, developed by the oil and gas industry and military's unmanned systems programs, does exist to address underwater munitions sites. And there is a “Need to clean” based on the potential human health and environmental impact on our health care systems and fish stocks. Underwater munitions in some form or another will continue to pollute the marine environment over time. It’s just a question of “When”. Underwater Munitions are “Point Source Emitters of Pollution”. In most cases, remove the source and you remove the problem.

Chairman's Message

“The IDUM is collaborating with international leaders and organizations to better understand the socio-economic impact on both human health and environment from years of decaying underwater munitions. The organization is facilitating this through international diplomacy via national and international programs, dialogues, conferences, workshops, committees, senate hearings, and international commissions. Most notable are the international efforts of the Government of Lithuania that resulted in the unanimous passing of the United Nations Resolution on Sea Dumped Chemical Weapons in December 2010 at the United Nations. Internationally, we must organize and continue our work together to collect, process, and provide information on underwater munitions to the Secretary General of the United Nations. Any tangible approach would require a multilateral response from all stakeholders including institutional capacity-building and the creation of an International Donor Trust Fund.” Visit the IDUM Website

 

 

 

The 1.5 degrees global warming call from the Pacific, still possible

 

Amidst the recent release of scientific reports on climate change, the key message has been for urgent action to limit global warming, before time runs out.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released their Synthesis Report on the 5th Assessment Report in October, the World Bank released the “Turn down the heat, confronting the new climate normal” report in November and the United Nations Environment Program released their “Bridging the 2014 Emission Gap Report” also in November.

According to the “Turn down the heat” report and an accompanying press release – climate change impacts such as extreme heat events may now be unavoidable because the Earth’s atmospheric system is locked into warming close to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by mid-century, and even very ambitious mitigation action taken today will not change this.

This does not mean, however, that long-term warming of 1.5°C is locked in, or that achievement of the 1.5°C warming limit, as called for by vulnerable countries like Pacific Islands, is no longer possible.

“What we see from the scientific literature is that it’s clear that we can indeed hold warming below 2 degrees in this century probably with the most aggressive mitigation emission reduction options. We can limit peak warming close to 1.5 degrees and slowly reduce that to below 1.5 degrees by 2100,” said Prof. Bill Hare of the Climate Analytics Group, Potsdam Institute.

“This is going to involve fairly major changes in policy settings now but this is what we are negotiating for, to have the emissions go down in the 2020’s and if we can do that fast enough then its technically and economically feasible to bring warming back to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century.”

“Those that are arguing it’s not possible are expressing a political judgment, not a scientific judgment.”

There will be climate change impacts experienced by several regions including the Pacific islands, before warming is reduced as limiting peak warming close to 1.5°C by mid century will still result in significant damage.

At the present levels of warming (about 0.8°C above preindustrial) the impacts of climate change are already being felt in many regions of the world. Continued damage is forecast to the coral reefs in the Pacific and other tropical oceans, there is the huge risk of damage to water supply resources in dry regions and substantial drops in crop yield in regions such as sub Saharan Africa.

“On top of that we’ll also be experiencing quite major increase in extreme heat events even for 1.5 degrees warming so whatever happens we’re going to have to go through some very severe changes,” explains Professor Hare.

Here in Lima, Peru at the 20th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP20), the Pacific islands are calling for a 1.5 degree limit to global warming by 2100. The next two weeks of climate negotiations continue the work being done by the Pacific islands as members of the Alliance of Small Islands States, lobbying for the 1.5 degree limit to global warming to be agreed upon in Paris next year.

The new climate treaty is to be agreed upon by the end of December in 2015 in Paris.

“Strengthening the long-term temperature goal to 1.5 degrees is of critical importance for us. Even at the current temperatures, our small low lying islands are being battered by king tides, salt water intrusion, coastal erosion, coral bleaching, ocean acidification, loss of species and habitats,” said Ms. Ana Tiraa, Head of the Cook Islands delegation at the UNFCCC COP 20.

“These will only be exacerbated at higher temperatures, with due respect to other parties, the Cook Islands calls for ambition levels that are high enough to keep temperature rise below 1.5 degrees. Temperature rises above 1.5 degrees cannot be an option for low lying small islands if we have a hope of surviving.”

According to Prof. Hare, at present there is confidence that with aggressive mitigation action warming can be held to below 2 degrees yet another decade of inaction will most likely lead to warming at 2 degrees or above. The message is clear that the time for action is now.

“It is still feasible to bring global warming to below 1.5 degrees by 2100 but whether or not the world politics and major economies will take enough action in the coming five to 20 years is in question. We are entitled to be skeptical given the inaction that has characterised the last decade as to whether that looks happening but it’s not a scientific judgment or statement, the option is well and truly open to bring warming back to below 1.5 degrees. More

 

 

 

 

IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report on Climate Change. What does it mean for the Caribbean?IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report on Climate Change. What does it mean for the Caribbean?

The Caribbean’s response to Climate Change is grounded in a firm regional commitment, policy and strategy. Our three foundation documents – The Liliendaal Declaration (July 2009), The Regional Framework for Achieving Development Resilient to Climate Change (July 2009) and its Implementation Plan (March 2012) – are the basis for climate action in the region.

The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) underscores the importance, scientific rigour and utility of these landmark documents. The IPCC’s latest assessment confirms the Caribbean Community’s longstanding call to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees celsius as outlined in the Liliendaal Declaration. At the Nations Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) Meeting in 2009, which took place in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Caribbean Community indicated to the world community that a global temperature rise above 1.50C would seriously affect the survival of the community.

In 2010 at the UNFCCC COP Meeting in Cancun, governments agreed that emissions ought to be kept at a level that would ensure global temperature increases would be limited to below 20C. At that time, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), which includes the Caribbean, re-iterated that any rise in temperature above 1.50C would seriously affect their survival and compromise their development agenda. The United Nations Human Development Report (2008) and the State of the World Report (2009) of The Worldwatch Institute supports this position and have identified 20C as the threshold above which irreversible and dangerous Climate Change will become unavoidable.

Accordingly, the Caribbean welcomes the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report prepared by over 2000 eminent scientists. It verifies observations in the Caribbean that temperatures are rising, extreme weather events are occurring more frequently, sea levels are rising, and there are more incidences of coral bleaching. These climatic changes will further exacerbate the limited availability of fresh water, agricultural productivity, result in more erosion and inundation, and increase the migration of fish from the Caribbean to cooler waters and more hospitable habitats. The cumulative effect is reduced food security, malnutrition, and productivity, thus increasing the challenges to achieving poverty reduction and socio-economic development.

The report notes that greenhouse gases emissions, the cause of Climate Change, continues to rise at an ever increasing rate. Unless this trend is arrested and rectified by 2050, global temperatures could rise by at least 4°C by 2100. This would be catastrophic for the Caribbean. However, the report is not all gloom and doom. More than half of the new energy plants for electricity are from renewable resources, a trend that must accelerate substantially if the goal of limiting global warming to below 2°C by 2100 is to remain feasible.

The IPCC AR5 Report should therefore serve as a further wake up call to our region that we cannot continue on a business as usual trajectory. It is an imperative that Climate Change be integrated in every aspect of the region’s development agenda, as well as its short, medium and long-term planning. The region must also continue to aggressively engage its partners at the bilateral and multilateral levels to reduce their emissions. The best form of adaptation is reduction in emissions level.

Dr Kenrick Leslie

The IPCC will adopt the Synthesis Report of the AR5 in Copenhagen, Denmark in late October 2014. Caribbean negotiators are already preparing to ensure that the most important information from the report are captured in the Synthesis Report.

See the highlights of the Caribbean Launch of the UN IPCC AR5 Report in this video:

Learn more about the implications of the IPCC AR5 Report via http://www.caribbeanclimate.bz and @CaribbeanClimate.

* Dr Kenrick Leslie is the Executive Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, the regional focal point for Climate Change.

ISIS and Our Times – Noam Chomsky

It is not pleasant to contemplate the thoughts that must be passing through the mind of the Owl of Minerva as the dusk falls and she undertakes the task of interpreting the era of human civilization, which may now be approaching its inglorious end.

Bajid Kandala refugee cam, Iraq

The era opened almost 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent, stretching from the lands of the Tigris and Euphrates, through Phoenicia on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean to the Nile Valley, and from there to Greece and beyond. What is happening in this region provides painful lessons on the depths to which the species can descend.

The land of the Tigris and Euphrates has been the scene of unspeakable horrors in recent years. The George W. Bush-Tony Blair aggression in 2003, which many Iraqis compared to the Mongol invasions of the 13th century, was yet another lethal blow. It destroyed much of what survived the Bill Clinton-driven UN sanctions on Iraq, condemned as “genocidal” by the distinguished diplomats Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, who administered them before resigning in protest. Halliday and von Sponeck's devastating reports received the usual treatment accorded to unwanted facts.

One dreadful consequence of the US-UK invasion is depicted in a New York Times “visual guide to the crisis in Iraq and Syria”: the radical change of Baghdad from mixed neighborhoods in 2003 to today's sectarian enclaves trapped in bitter hatred. The conflicts ignited by the invasion have spread beyond and are now tearing the entire region to shreds.

Much of the Tigris-Euphrates area is in the hands of ISIS and its self-proclaimed Islamic State, a grim caricature of the extremist form of radical Islam that has its home in Saudi Arabia. Patrick Cockburn, a Middle East correspondent for The Independent and one of the best-informed analysts of ISIS, describes it as “a very horrible, in many ways fascist organization, very sectarian, kills anybody who doesn't believe in their particular rigorous brand of Islam.”

Cockburn also points out the contradiction in the Western reaction to the emergence of ISIS: efforts to stem its advance in Iraq along with others to undermine the group's major opponent in Syria, the brutal Bashar Assad regime. Meanwhile a major barrier to the spread of the ISIS plague to Lebanon is Hezbollah, a hated enemy of the US and its Israeli ally. And to complicate the situation further, the US and Iran now share a justified concern about the rise of the Islamic State, as do others in this highly conflicted region.

Egypt has plunged into some of its darkest days under a military dictatorship that continues to receive US support. Egypt's fate was not written in the stars. For centuries, alternative paths have been quite feasible, and not infrequently, a heavy imperial hand has barred the way.

After the renewed horrors of the past few weeks it should be unnecessary to comment on what emanates from Jerusalem, in remote history considered a moral center.

Eighty years ago, Martin Heidegger extolled Nazi Germany as providing the best hope for rescuing the glorious civilization of the Greeks from the barbarians of the East and West. Today, German bankers are crushing Greece under an economic regime designed to maintain their wealth and power.

The likely end of the era of civilization is foreshadowed in a new draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the generally conservative monitor of what is happening to the physical world.

The report concludes that increasing greenhouse gas emissions risk “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems” over the coming decades. The world is nearing the temperature when loss of the vast ice sheet over Greenland will be unstoppable. Along with melting Antarctic ice, that could raise sea levels to inundate major cities as well as coastal plains.

The era of civilization coincides closely with the geological epoch of the Holocene, beginning over 11,000 years ago. The previous Pleistocene epoch lasted 2.5 million years. Scientists now suggest that a new epoch began about 250 years ago, the Anthropocene, the period when human activity has had a dramatic impact on the physical world. The rate of change of geological epochs is hard to ignore.

One index of human impact is the extinction of species, now estimated to be at about the same rate as it was 65 million years ago when an asteroid hit the Earth. That is the presumed cause for the ending of the age of the dinosaurs, which opened the way for small mammals to proliferate, and ultimately modern humans. Today, it is humans who are the asteroid, condemning much of life to extinction.

The IPCC report reaffirms that the “vast majority” of known fuel reserves must be left in the ground to avert intolerable risks to future generations. Meanwhile the major energy corporations make no secret of their goal of exploiting these reserves and discovering new ones.

A day before its summary of the IPCC conclusions, The New York Times reported that huge Midwestern grain stocks are rotting so that the products of the North Dakota oil boom can be shipped by rail to Asia and Europe.

One of the most feared consequences of anthropogenic global warming is the thawing of permafrost regions. A study in Science magazine warns that “even slightly warmer temperatures [less than anticipated in coming years] could start melting permafrost, which in turn threatens to trigger the release of huge amounts of greenhouse gases trapped in ice,” with possible “fatal consequences” for the global climate.

Arundhati Roy suggests that the “most appropriate metaphor for the insanity of our times” is the Siachen Glacier, where Indian and Pakistani soldiers have killed each other on the highest battlefield in the world. The glacier is now melting and revealing “thousands of empty artillery shells, empty fuel drums, ice axes, old boots, tents and every other kind of waste that thousands of warring human beings generate” in meaningless conflict. And as the glaciers melt, India and Pakistan face indescribable disaster.

Sad species. Poor Owl.

© 2014 Noam Chomsky
Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate


 

Leaders sign historic sustainable energy & climate resilient treaty

September 2: Over 150 delegates and members of the international development community from more than 45 countries were stunned to see leader after leader approach the podium to sign a historic sustainable energy and climate resilient treaty that will significantly change the lives and destiny of over 20 million small islanders, for the better.

Led by the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Fonotoe Nuafesili Pierre Lauofo, multiple leaders from the Pacific, Caribbean and African, Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea (AIMS) regions, forcefully raised their voices in unison and accepted responsibility for fulfilling the commitment to the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Sustainable Energy mechanism – SIDS DOCK. The opening for signature of this historic SIDS DOCK Treaty – a SIDS-SIDS Initiative – was a major highlight of the first day of the United Nations (UN) Third International Conference on SIDS, taking place in Apia, Samoa, from 1-4 September.

The unprecedented and unexpected number of Heads of State and Government present, sent a strong signal to the standing room only audience, the SIDS population and the international community, demonstrating how deeply committed SIDS leaders are and that they all firmly believe that SIDS must, have and will take responsibility for charting the future of their countries towards a path that would see a total transformation of the SIDS economy away from fossil fuels, to that of one driven by low carbon technologies. The event was considered so important to the Republic of Cabo Verde, that the Prime Minister, Hon. José Maria Neves, excused himself and his entire delegation from the Plenary Hall, to ensure that Cabo Verde, a SIDS DOCK Founding Member was well-represented at the signing – the Cabo Verde Government has one of the most ambitious plans in SIDS, that aims to achieve 100 penetration of renewable energies in Cabo Verde, by 2020.

More than half the members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) were present for the signing of the historic treaty, witnessed by the SIDS DOCK partners Denmark, Japan and Austria, whose kind and generous support facilitated SIDS DOCK start -up activities; also present were SIDS DOCK partners, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Clinton

Foundation. The treaty was signed by the governments of Barbados, Belize, Bahamas (Commonwealth of the), Dominica (Commonwealth of), Cabo Verde (Republic of), Cook Islands, Dominican Republic, Fiji (Republic of), Grenada, Guinea Bissau, Kiribati (Republic of), Niue, Palau (Republic of), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa (Independent State of), Seychelles (Republic of), and Tuvalu.

The Statute will remain open for signature in Apia, Samoa until September 5, and will reopen for signature in Belmopan, Belize, from September 6, 2014 until it enters into force. Belize is the host country for SIDS DOCK, with Samoa designated as the location for the Pacific regional office. More