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PETER WILCOX OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Rainbow 0608wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)I’ve been a captain for Greenpeace for 35 years, fighting for our environment in every corner of the globe. I’ve confronted polluters, poachers, smugglers, terrorists, criminals—both private and corporate, armies, navies, vigilantes and you-name-it. I’ve been arrested, jailed, had my ships chased, shot at, boarded and attacked, and had French commandos bomb and sink my ship under my feet—killing a crew-mate in the process.

Wherever I go, people ask me why I continue to take the risks that I take in defending the Earth. For me, the answer is simple: I care about what our planet will be like in the future. Not in the distant future, but the very-near-term-future in which my daughters Anita and Natasha (ages 24 and 20) will be living while raising their own children.

Many environmental activist organizations—like Greenpeace—are very much involved in stopping human suffering caused by pollution, slavery, nuclear radiation, toxic waste and climate change. In more than 400,000 miles of sailing for Greenpeace, I have seen the human cost of environmental destruction in every corner of the planet.

In 1985, I brought the Rainbow Warrior to Rongelap Atoll, in the Marshall Islands/South Pacific, to evacuate an entire town to another island because their home island had been poisoned by the fallout from a U.S. thermonuclear/hydrogen bomb. The U.S. knew the islanders were going to be in the fallout zone, and deliberately left them there as human guinea pigs to study the effects of radiation on real people.

Published in Guest Commentary

LORRAINE CHOW OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Solar 0606wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Thanks to Chile’s major investments in renewables, the Latin American country is seeing an incredible solar boom.

In a new Bloomberg report, Chile Has So Much Solar Energy It’s Giving It Away for Free, solar capacity from the country’s central grid has increased four fold to 770 megawatts since 2013. Another 1.4 gigawatts will be added this year with many solar power projects under development.

Thanks to an economic boost from increased mining production, Chile now has 29 solar farms and another 15 in the pipeline. Enel Green Power Chile Ltda. recently commissioned Chile’s largest solar PV project connected to the grid. The 160-megawatt facility will be located in the northern part of the country in the municipality of María Elena, about 1,300 kilometers north of Santiago.

With so much clean power available, the price of solar has cost absolutely nothing for certain regions in recent months.

Published in Guest Commentary
Monday, 06 June 2016 07:23

Bringing Back Bill Clinton?

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Bill 0606wrp opt(Photo: Molly Gilliam)What's past, as Shakespeare has told us, is prologue.

2016 has been a wild political season. This year, despite the unnerving presidential freak show the Republicans are putting on, Hillary Clinton is the one who recently stunned me. Attempting to convince very wary working class families that she will stand against the abuses of her Wall Street financial backers, while also lifting up the poor and shoring up the middle class, Clinton made this horrifying, spine-tingling declaration: She'll Bring Back Bill! Specifically, Hillary promises that her former-president husband will be put "in charge of revitalizing the economy."

Good grief! Isn't Bill the big galoot who turned his economic policy over to Wall Street's Machiavellian, Robert Rubin? Yes. And didn't Bill break his 1992 campaign promise to raise the minimum wage in his first year, putting it off until his fourth year, and even then providing only a token increase that still left the working poor mired in poverty? Yes, again. And didn't he push into law a "welfare reform" bill that has shredded the safety net for America's poorest, most-vulnerable people? Afraid so.

So let's flash back only two decades ago to that defining achievement of President Bill Clinton's presidency: "[The] end of welfare as we know it." What sounded good in theory was detrimental to millions of Americans. Bill was awfully proud of teaming up with Republican ideologues to reverse FDR's historic commitment of providing "Aid to Families With Dependent Children." While there were some problems and some abuses with this poverty-alleviation program, Clinton signed-on to the right wing's fantasy that simply gutting it would magically make welfare recipients self-sufficient through "the dignity, the power, and the ethic of work."

But his faith in the work ethic lacked any actual ethics. Where were the jobs — much less decent-paying jobs — that were supposed to empower poor people? Bill had no plans for that, except a feeble request that major corporations commit to hiring a number of former-welfare recipients. Surprise — they didn't!

Published in Guest Commentary

KATIE POHLMAN OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Victory 0603wrp opt(Photo: NRDC)President Obama, along with the U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Service, announced regulations Thursday to ban nearly all commercial elephant ivory trade in the country.

This landmark decision, coming from the country with the second-largest market for ivory, should have a significant impact on the trade. The ban helps fulfill President Obama’s 2013 executive order to combat wildlife trafficking.

“We’re excited the Obama administration has taken this important step to reduce the domestic trade in ivory,” Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “The United States has one of the largest markets for ivory in the world and reducing demand here will go a long way toward saving elephants in Africa.”

The ban follows a series of actions Kenya has taken to end the illegal ivory trade, including the burning of huge piles of tusks. Experts say roughly 96 elephants are killed daily—30,000 annually—for their tusks.

Thursday’s “bold action underscores the United States’ leadership and commitment to ending the scourge of elephant poaching and the tragic impact it’s having on wild populations,” Sec. of the Interior Sally Jewell said, who serves as co-chair of the President’s Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking. “We hope other nations will act quickly and decisively to stop the flow of blood ivory by implementing similar regulations, which are crucial to ensuring our grandchildren and their children know these iconic species.”

Published in Guest Commentary

CARL POPE OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

CarOil 0601wrp opt(Photo: EcoWatch)Oil touched $50 last week, close to double its slump price earlier this year, before falling slightly below that benchmark. Short-term impacts—the wildfire in Canada and outages in Nigeria—helped reduce stocks and drive up the price; then Iraq production increases stalled the rally. The market seemed to have averted the risk of an extended period of $20-30 prices, unsustainable for oil dependent nations, even the richest like the Saudis, whose “pump and dump” strategy lies behind the current low-price environment.

At $40-60/barrel, however, the Saudis can stay the course. They can afford that price in terms of their budget deficit, if not easily. Some U.S. shale plays come back into production, but the capital heavy projects in the Arctic, ultra-deep ocean or Canadian tar sands are still off the table as prudent investments. Medium term, as non-OPEC [Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries], non-shale production falls, with no new big ticket projects coming on-line to replace depleted wells, reserves fall. Increasing demand will then require increasing dependence on OPEC and soaring prices. Even if U.S. shale roars back in response, it can’t make up for an investment slump everywhere else. The Saudis can then set the price they want.

Western governments know this. They treat the Kingdom with kid gloves. In Kossovo, even while it was effectively an American protectorate, the Saudis were allowed to implant jihadi mullahs to create an ideological base for their Wahhabi Islam. In the process they “transformed this once-tolerant Muslim society at the hem of Europe into a font of Islamic extremists and a pipeline for jihadists.” Kossovo now sends more recruits to ISIS than any nation in Europe: 314 identified to date from a tiny country.

 

Published in Guest Commentary

BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Trump 0601wrp(Photo: Gage Skidmore)With demonstrations outside and inside of Donald Trump’s campaign rallies erupting, and sometimes turning violent, Team Trump, ever on the lookout for a game-changing strategy, may see these incidents as an opportunity to brand The Donald the “Law and Order” candidate. Picture Trump kicking off the final months of the campaign with: "We'll give you the greatest amount of law and order that you've ever seen. There will be so much winning law and order that you might get tired of things being so quiet." 

When protesters made some noise at a recent Trump rally inside the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California, Trump shouted -- as he has done many times over the past several months -- “Get ‘em out. “Out! Out! Out!” This time Trump added: “Don’t hurt ‘em. See what I say? Don’t hurt ‘em. I say that for the television cameras … Do not hurt him, even though he’s a bad person.”

Over the past several months, Trump himself has spoken about punching protesters in the mouth.

Outside the Convention Center, pro and anti-Trump supporters squared off against each other for most of the day. By nightfall, according to reports, police arrested a handful of mayhem-creating anti-Trump protesters.

As the Washington Examiner recently editorialized, “If Trump wins the general election in November, he should send fruit baskets to the organizers of the latest unrest. They are generating sympathy for him by ensuring that a noisy proportion of his supporters are identified as asses who need to be defeated.”

"The more barbaric the 'protesters' act, the more votes they will drive toward the target of their barbarism," Robin Heid, M.A., a libertarian political scientist who says the anti-Establishment campaigns of Trump and Sanders are exactly what the U.S. political process needs right now, told me in an email. "It is well-documented that the violent disruption of the 1968 Democratic Convention contributed significantly to Hubert Humphrey's defeat by Richard Nixon - even though it was later determined that the Chicago police perpetrated far more of that violence than did the protesters. That is why the leftist media is trying so hard to pin the barbarism at Trump rallies to the candidate and his supporters instead of reporting the well-documented fact that the violence is almost exclusively anti-Trump barbarians."

Published in Guest Commentary

JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Missile2 0527wrp(Photo: Lockheed Martin)Question: Is China a threat to the world – or – is the US a threat to the world?

Answer: According to recent Win/Gallop international polls, “The US was voted the biggest threat by far, garnering 24 percent of the vote. Pakistan was a very distant second with 8 percent, followed by China (6 percent) and Afghanistan (5 percent).”

Now that the US has decimated the Middle East for the last sixteen years, after an invasion that set off a mass blood bath from Iraq to Syria, President Obama and his military advisors have turned their attention to a new enemy: China.

The long respected agreement to ban the sale of military weapons to Vietnam has been upheld for fifty years. The agreement reduced the possibility of brutally devastating wars would break out again after the US invaded Vietnam in the late 1960s and early 70s. The US believes that its political system of vulture capitalism, which is wrongly equated with social democracy by US leaders, should be accepted by all countries.

As Carl Jung put it, “The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no {political} recipe…that suits all cases.” But that’s not how the US government sees it: one shoe must fit all countries. And that one shoe is US corporatism and control of global resources that benefit the top one percent of billionaires at the expense of the majority of people and at the devastation of the earth’s ecosystems from forests to water.

Like the Middle East invasion, historians have argued that the US government’s invasion of Vietnam was not only unnecessary, it was a colossal mistake.

But as the saying goes, our US government ignores the lessons of historical mistakes and with time merely revises the past to a ‘Might is Right’ moral edict.

Published in Guest Commentary
Wednesday, 25 May 2016 13:23

How to Feed the World as the Planet Warms

DR. DAVID SUZUKI OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Earth 0525wrp opt(Photo: NASA)Calculating farming’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is difficult, but experts agree that feeding the world’s people has tremendous climate and environmental impacts. Estimates of global emissions from farms range widely. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts them at 24 percent, including deforestation, making agriculture the second-largest emitter after heat and electricity.

Agriculture contributes to global warming in a number of ways. Methane and nitrous oxide, which are more potent than CO2 but remain in the atmosphere for shorter times, make up about 65 percent of agricultural emissions. Methane comes mainly from cattle and nitrous oxide from fertilizers and wastes.

According to the World Resources Institute, “Smaller sources include manure management, rice cultivation, field burning of crop residues and fuel use on farms.” Net emissions are also created when forests and wetlands are cleared for farming, as these “carbon sinks” usually absorb and store more carbon than the farms that replace them. Transporting and processing agricultural products also contribute to global warming.

We need to eat. So what’s the answer? That obesity is epidemic in parts of the world while people starve elsewhere and that an estimated one-third of food gets wasted, shows improving distribution and reducing waste are good places to start—but won’t be enough to significantly curtail agriculture’s contribution to climate change.

Reducing meat and animal-product consumption and production—especially beef—would cut emissions, but wouldn’t get us all the way.

Published in Guest Commentary

JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Uber 0525wrp(Photo: Guilhem Vellut)Pouty, whiney, spoiled-bratism is not nice coming from a four-year-old — but it's grotesque when it comes from billion-dollar corporate elites like Uber and Lyft.

The two internet-based ride-hiring brats call themselves "ridesharing" companies, but that's a deceit, for they don't share anything — their business model relies on folks needing a ride to hire a driver through the corporations' apps. With the bulk of the fare going to out-of-town corporate hedge funders.

The tow outfits have swaggered into cities all across our country, insisting that they're innovative, tech-driven geniuses. As such, they consider themselves above the fusty old laws that other transportation companies, like taxis, follow. So Uber and Lyft have made it a corporate policy to throw hissy fits when cities — from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Houston to Portland — have dared even to propose that they obey rules to protect customers and drivers.

The latest tantrum from the California giants happened in Austin, when the city council there adopted a few modest, perfectly-reasonable rules, despite the screams of PR flacks from both outfits. The petulant duo then used fibs and high-pressure tactics to get enough signatures on petitions to force a special election to overturn the council's action. Naturally, being brats, they gave the city an ultimatum — "Vote our way or we will leave town" — and assumed that Austin's tech-savvy voters would flock to do whatever the popular ride-sharing service wanted.

But they picked the wrong city. First, they ran a campaign of blatant lies, as though Austinites wouldn't question them. Then, they shoved a sickening level of corporate cash into their campaign, apparently thinking that the sheer tonnage of ads would win the day for them. However, the slicks from California turned out to be uber-goobers. Despite spending $9 million (more than the combined spending of all city council candidates in the past decade), they went down, 56-to-44 percent.

Published in Guest Commentary

KEN KIMMELL ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

Reposted with Permission of the Union of Concerned Scientists 

Fraud 0523wrp opt(Photo: Union of Concerned Scientists)On Wednesday, I received a letter signed by thirteen members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. In my thirty years as an attorney, public official, and now UCS President, I have never seen anything quite like it. The letter states that the House Science Committee is “conducting oversight of a coordinated attempt to deprive companies, non-profit organizations and scientists of their First Amendment rights.” This sounds like an oversight effort UCS could support—but for what follows.

The representatives are requesting “all documents and communications” between UCS and state attorneys general and between UCS and other NGOs related to our work to hold oil and gas companies accountable for deception. Apparently, these elected representatives believe that UCS and others have infringed on the free speech rights of fossil fuel companies such as ExxonMobil.

How? By sharing information with these attorneys general about whether ExxonMobil and others misled the public about the dangers of climate change, and by explaining how climate change caused by burning fossil fuels is harming people and places in their states.

You know what else this tells me? The campaign to hold companies accountable is working.

How absurd is this request?

Let’s start with the premise of the letter—that the free speech rights of companies such as ExxonMobil are violated by an investigation. This is nonsense. No company has a First Amendment right to knowingly provide misinformation about the harm associated with its product (in this case the emissions of heat trapping gases from the combustion of fossil fuels). And attorneys general have every right to investigate whether the companies’ actions amounted to an actionable fraud.

In fact, the letter itself compromises the First Amendment rights of the Union of Concerned Scientists and the other recipients of this letter.

Published in Guest Commentary
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