Resilience Roundup - Aug 21
Today We Humans Used Up the Ecological Resources We Had for the Year
Ben Jervey, Good Magazine
It sure didn’t take long for humanity to blow through its allowance of natural resources. Less than eight months in, and we’ve already burned up nature’s budget for a full calendar year.
And so the Global Footprint Network has declared today, August 19th, official “Earth Overshoot Day.” From here on out, humanity is overdrawn on its account.
If you’re familiar at all with the concept of the “Ecological Footprint,” then it shouldn’t come as much surprise that it would take roughly 1.5 Earths to produce the ecological resources we would need to sustainably support current human activity. To calculate Earth Overshoot Day, the GFN aggregates the available data on excessive resource abuse, pits it against a calendar, and thus allows us to better understand just how badly we’re living beyond our natural means...
Billions in oil investments at risk from low crude prices, says Carbon Tracker
Michael Szabo, Reuters
More than half a trillion dollars of investments in major oil projects over the next decade are at risk from high costs and low crude oil prices, an environmental think tank said on Friday, warning that shareholders' returns could suffer.
UK energy dependence – five hidden costs expose truth about fracking
Jeremy Leggett, The Guardian
The shale boom is a bubble waiting to burst as economics of extraction falter and the trickle of bad environmental news starts to swell...
Solar Boom Driving First Global Panel Shortage Since 2006
Ehren Goossens, Bloomberg
The solar industry is facing a looming shortage of photovoltaic panels, reversing a two-year slump triggered by a global glut.
The oversupply pushed prices through the floor, making solar power more competitive and driving up demand. It also dragged dozens of manufacturers into bankruptcy, and slowed capital investment at the survivors. With installations expected to swell as much as 29 percent this year, executives are bracing for the first shortfall since 2006...
Germany meets 75% of domestic electricity demand with renewables
Thomas Gerke, Renew Economy
At 2 pm on August 18th the combined output of renewables in Germany amounted to 41 GW, enough to provide 75% of all the domestic power needed at that time. While such high shares of renewables are a positive testament of the energy transition, they are also evidence of the upcoming challenges...
New study finds price of wind energy in US at an all-time low; competitiveness of wind has improved
Allan Chen, Phys.org
Wind energy pricing is at an all-time low, according to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Energy and prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). The prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged just $25/MWh for projects negotiating contracts in 2013, spurring demand for wind energy...
Citigroup: solar industry to outperform fossil fuels in long term
Charlotte Malone, Blue Green Tomororw
A report, which was released to Citigroup’s investors earlier this year, entitled Energy 2020: The Revolution Will Not Be televised as Disruptors Multiply, argues that the energy industry is going through a period of “extreme flux” that shows no signs of abating.
Citigroup describes the global solar industry as having an “increasingly bright” outlook. The organisation explains that it believes growth in the global solar sector will be driven by economics, the need for fuel diversity and emerging financing vehicles, as well as some national legislature.
Before the fear of war, fear of fracking in Ukraine
Anna Nemtsova, AlJazeera
A hot July day, and the neighbors and children of a half-ruined five-story building on Bulvarnaya Avenue gathered around a bench for a long discussion of their daily fears.
Locals seemed to have consensus on who’s at war: the U.S. and Russia over control of Ukraine, they all agreed. But even now, three months past the day the first shell fell on Slovyansk, they still had trouble comprehending why their green, sleepy hometown still was trapped in this conflict.
Residents of the bombed building remembered how in April, local and Russian-assigned rebel commanders chose to set up the capital for their forces in this town.
In a small village in the Donbass, Alexander, a former soldier, and Tatiana say they can’t afford gas, even though a gas line runs right by their home. Stanley Greene / Noor The people of the Donbass, the country’s gritty industrial region in the east, were not naive. They realized that gas pipelines crossing the border with Russia and the shale gas fields near Slovyansk — with a potential reserve of about 3 trillion cubic meters of gas — were the cause of constant tension between Russia and Ukraine...
Report: Drillers Illegally Using Diesel Fuel to Frack
Naveena Sadasivam, Propublica
A new report charges that several oil and gas companies have been illegally using diesel fuel in their hydraulic fracturing operations, and then doctoring records to hide violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
The report, published this week by the Environmental Integrity Project, found that between 2010 and July 2014 at least 351 wells were fracked by 33 different companies using diesel fuels without a permit. The Integrity Project, an environmental organization based in Washington, D.C., said it used the industry-backed database, FracFocus, to identify violations and to determine the records had been retroactively amended by the companies to erase the evidence...
US, EU now allowed to buy Ukraine’s gas pipelines
Ukraine’s parliament has passed a law that will allow foreign companies from the US and EU to co-manage Ukraine’s national gas transportation system (GTS) which has a value of around $25-35 billion, one of the largest in the world.
The motion, proposed by PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk, was only supported by 228 parliament members, just two more than the required 226 to adopt the bill. The first reading of the bill was approved on July 4...
The Imminent Peak in US Oil Production
David Archibald, Peak OIl Barrel
The seven years of production of tight oil in the US has produced enough data to enable estimation of the amount of oil that will be recovered from these systems and the timing of peak production. Based on data to May 2014, the four main tight oil basins will produce a total of 7.7 billion barrels with a peak production rate of 3.9 million barrels per day in mid-2015. Following that peak, production is predicted to decline as rapidly as it rose. That in turn is expected to cause a re-assessment of the ability to produce sufficient transport fuels based on current policies...
...The expected production profile of these basins/formations to 2019 is shown in Figure 4 following:
Why the Scientific Case Against Fracking Keeps Getting Stronger
Chris Mooney, Mother Jones
Anthony Ingraffea argues that fugitive methane emissions turn natural gas from a climate benefit into yet another strike against fossil fuels...
Fracking Fluid Survey Shows Missing Information
Philip Robinson and ChemistryWorld, Scientific American
A US survey of almost 250 chemicals used in fracking has identified potentially harmful compounds and exposed a lack of information about them that is hampering efforts to understand fracking’s environmental impact...
...‘[Industry says] the chemicals used are the same as in the cosmetics and food industry, but even so, you wouldn't want them dumped down your drain,’ says Chris Rhodes, an independent energy and environment consultant. ‘Or, for that matter, in your soil or drinking water.’...
How Fracking In Maryland Would Threaten The Health Of Anyone Who Breathes Nearby
Katie Valentine, Think Progress
Fracking in Maryland would pose a risk of harmful air pollution and would bring jobs that could be dangerous for workers, a new report has found.
The report, published by the University of Maryland and commissioned by a 2011 executive order by Gov. Martin O’Malley, looked at the risks that fracking would bring to Maryland, a state that so far doesn’t have any natural gas wells...
Unlikely Bedfellows: Mines That Run On Solar Or Wind Power
Andrew TopfR, Oilprice.com
...as the cost of diesel fuel and electricity continues to rise, mining companies are searching for ways to cut their energy bill, and renewables are looking increasingly attractive. The main reason is cost. Choosing renewable energy, especially in an industrial setting, used to be cost-prohibitive, but that is starting to change, in some cases dramatically...
...Another reason is security of supply. Mines are often located in remote areas where grid power is spotty and more costly than in cities. In South Africa, a shortage of power in 2008 caused rolling blackouts, causing several mines to shut down. Two years ago, Egyptian mining company Centamin had to temporarily close its Sukari gold mine due to a dispute with its diesel fuel supplier...
Mexico Oil Output Bloated by Water Barrels, Official Says
dam Williams and Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, Bloomberg
A record gap this year between reported output and what the state-owned company processes is partly explained by measuring systems at older fields that are unable to differentiate water-heavy oil from actual crude, the official said, asking not to be named as Pemex debates reducing figures for the past three years or more. Last month, the company cut its 2014 output forecast to 2.44 million barrels a day...
The First War to Run on Oil
Daniel Yergin, WSJ
Half a century ago, on the 50th anniversary of World War I, the diplomatic historian William L. Langer described the war as "the wellspring of our discontents." It remains that now, as we mark its 100th anniversary: Many of today's most virulent struggles, from Ukraine versus Russia to the Middle East and its borders, have their origins in the Great War and its outcome. Indeed, the Islamic State boasts that its self-declared new "caliphate" is erasing the boundary between Syria and Iraq set by the World War I peace settlement.
A less noticed consequence of World War I is also still with us: the transformation of oil into a strategic commodity, central to international politics and critical to the fate of nations...
Rarest dolphins under threat from oil exploration in NZ sanctuary, say Greens
Oliver Milman, The Guardian
The New Zealand government has been accused of threatening the survival of the Maui’s dolphins, one of world’s rarest dolphin breeds, with just 55 of the animals remaining.
Although a special sanctuary for the species was established in 2008, conservation groups have accused the New Zealand government of hastening its demise by allowing oil exploration and fishing in the area...
Humans Have Tripled Mercury in the Oceans
Jenna McLaughlin, Mother Jones
On Thursday, researchers released the first comprehensive study of mercury in the world's oceans over time according to depth. Their finding: Since the Industrial Revolution, the burning of fossil fuels and some mining activities have resulted in a more than three times increase in mercury in the upper 100 meters (about 330 feet) of the ocean. There, it builds up in carnivorous species like tuna—a food staple in the US that health experts have been concerned about for years because of its high mercury levels. Much of the 290 million moles (a unit of measure for chemical substances) of mercury in the ocean right now is concentrated in the North Atlantic.
'Mission Blue' film charts scientist's quest to save oceans
Patricia Reaney, Reuters
From the Galapagos Islands to Australia's Coral Sea and a marine park off the coast of Mexico, the documentary "Mission Blue" navigates the journey of renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle as she travels the globe to save the planet's threatened seas.
With stunning underwater footage, the film that airs on Friday on the online streaming service Netflix and in selected U.S. theaters, shows the devastating impact of pollution, overfishing and climate change on the oceans through the eyes of the renowned scientist, explorer and author who has been charting it for decades...
California’s catastrophic drought keeps getting worse
Mark Berman, Washington Post
The historic drought that has been plaguing California has somehow gotten even worse. On Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported that more than half of the state is now in experiencing “exceptional” drought, the most severe category available. And most of the state – 81 percent – currently has one of the two most intense levels of drought:...
US drought Monitor
Rick Scott Warned By Scientists That Climate Change Is Threat To Florida
Bill Cotterell, Reuters
Five climate scientists warned Florida Governor Rick Scott in a meeting on Tuesday that a steadily rising ocean was a major threat to the state's future, urging it to become a leader in developing solar energy and other clean power sources...
Climate change could slash 8.7% from India’s GDP by 2100
Megan Darby, RTCC
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi has made clear his priority is economic development.
Protecting the environment appears to be a secondary concern, as shown by his intention not to attend Ban Ki-moon’s climate talks next month.
Yet if the world continues on its carbon-intensive path, climate change will slash up to 8.7% a year off India’s GDP in 2100...
Americans for Prosperity: Koch brothers’ advocacy gets local in Colorado
Sandra Fish, AlJazeera
Red T-shirts, professionally produced signs and even an airplane banner carried the message of the day: “Stop the EPA power grab.”
The rally had a grass-roots flavor with a folk duo singing “This Land Is Your Land,” “Someday Soon” and “Rocky Mountain High” to families of coal miners from Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.
But the professional touches, from water bottles to the posed photo with everyone shouting “AFP!” on the count of three all pointed to rally organizer Americans for Prosperity.
Nationally, the group is known as a key cog in the political operation for Charles and David Koch, two business billionaire brothers known for opposing government regulation and supporting free markets...
Energy issues are at the forefront for AFP and for the Koch brothers, the group’s founders. The two built on their father’s oil and gas fortune, expanding what is now Koch Industries into an international and privately held behemoth that still focuses on oil and gas but also deals in chemicals, forest products, minerals and more.
Youth raise climate awareness in flood-hit Balkans
Sophie Yeo, RTCC
A new generation of post-Communist youth are leading the fight against climate change in the Balkans...
Why scientists need public backing to engineer the climate
Mat Hope, Carbon Brief
The world's most prominent geoengineering researchers are meeting in Berlin this week to discuss the field's progress. Attendees have been asked to provide feedback on a draft document styled as the Berlin Declaration, released by VICE this morning.
It seeks to clarify geoengineering's governing principles, and quell public concerns. But does it go far enough?...
'This Changes Everything': Trailer for Naomi Klein's Coming Blockbuster
Staff, Common Dreams
Forget everything you think you know about global warming. The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon—it’s about capitalism. The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.
The new book by Naomi Klein. In stores September 16 and available for pre-order. For more information, tour dates, or to buy the book: http://thischangeseverything.org/
In her most provocative book yet, Naomi Klein, author of the global bestsellers The Shock Doctrine and No Logo, tackles the most profound threat humanity has ever faced: the war our economic model is waging against life on earth.
What Do the World Bank and IMF Have to Do with the Ukraine Conflict?
Frédéric Mousseau, Our World
Mostly unreported as the Ukraine conflict captures headlines, international financing has played a significant role in the current situation there.
In late 2013, conflict between pro-European Union (EU) and pro-Russian Ukrainians escalated to violent levels, leading to the departure of President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 and prompting the greatest East-West confrontation since the Cold War...
Ferguson Unrest Shows Poverty Grows Fastest in Suburbs
Toluse Olorunnipa and Elizabeth Campbell, Bloomberg
A week of violence and protests in a town outside St. Louis is highlighting how poverty is growing most quickly on the outskirts of America’s cities, as suburbs have become home to a majority of the nation’s poor...
The Militarization of Racism and Neoliberal Violence
Henry A. Giroux, Truthout
The recent killing and then demonization of an unarmed 18-year-old African-American youth, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri by a white police officer has made visible how a kind of military metaphysics now dominates American life. The police have been turned into soldiers who view the neighborhoods in which they operate as war zones. Outfitted with full riot gear, submachine guns, armored vehicles, and other lethal weapons imported from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, their mission is to assume battle-ready behavior. Is it any wonder that violence rather than painstaking, neighborhood police work and community outreach and engagement becomes the norm for dealing with alleged "criminals," especially at a time when more and more behaviors are being criminalized?
But I want to introduce a caveat. I think it is a mistake to simply focus on the militarization of the police and their racist actions in addressing the killing of Michael Brown. What we are witnessing in this brutal killing and mobilization of state violence is symptomatic of the neoliberal, racist, punishing state emerging all over the world, with its encroaching machinery of social death. The neoliberal killing machine is on the march globally...
Solomons town first in Pacific to relocate due to climate change
Megan Rowling, Reuters
Under threat from rising sea levels and tsunamis, the authorities of a provincial capital in the Solomon Islands have decided to relocate from a small island in the first such case in the Pacific islands.
Choiseul, a township of around 1,000 people on Taro Island, a coral atoll in Choiseul Bay, is less than two meters (6.6 feet) above sea level. Its vulnerability to storm surges and tsunamis caused by earthquakes is expected to be compounded in the future by rising seas...
EU-Canada trade deal leak ‘ridicules’ TTIP consultation, campaigners say
The leaked EU-Canada Trade Agreement (CETA), signed last November and due to be unveiled on 25 September, contains a controversial chapter on Investor-State Disputes Settlement (ISDS) that is substantially unchanged from previous drafts.
These were used by the EU in March to get stakeholder responses to negotiations for a similar TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US. At the time, the Commission said that it would seriously consider all 150,000 responses...
Is environmental deregulation in Peru's best interest?
Vladimir Gil Ramon, AlJazeera
A Peruvian law curbing environmental safeguards to increase investments sparks conservation-development debates.
"Do not despair," Peru's main pro-business newspaper anxiously editorialised four days after the government passed a new law relaxing environmental safeguards in an attempt to boost private investments, mostly in mining and hydrocarbons.
The nervous plea summarised the media campaign welcomed by mining companies demanding governmental measures because they believe the so-called "Peruvian Miracle" - a decade of extraordinary macroeconomic performance - is coming to an end...
Why George Monbiot is wrong: grazing livestock can save the world
L Hunter Lovins, Op-ed, The Guardian
George Monbiot’s recent criticism of Allan Savory’s theory that grazing livestock can reverse climate change ignores evidence that it’s already experiencing success
George Monbiot: Eat more meat and save the world: the latest implausible farming miracle...
3 Tips for Transforming Hospital Food Into Something More Sustainable
Deborah Fleischer, Triple Pundit
The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is world renowned for its cutting-edge research and medical care. It is also a leader in sustainability, modeling healthy, sustainable food choices for patients, staff and visitors. In the recent 2014 townhall (see minute 21.20), an attendee asked University of California Office of the President (UCOP) President Janet Napolitano about UCOP’s sustainable food initiative, advocating for a move away from an animal-based diet. She responded that while UC is not moving toward a total vegetation approach, campuses are adjusting their procurement process to buy food from smaller, organic growers. Napolitano commended UCSF for its sustainable food efforts, notably efforts to eliminate antibiotics from the meat it serves at UCSF Medical Center...
Brave New Recycling Economy: Movement Turns Trash to Treasure
Michaela Schiessl, Der Spiegel
Every piece of garbage can be turned into raw material that can be used in future products. With his influential Cradle to Cradle movement, Germany's Michael Braungart espouses a form of eco-hedonism that puts smart production before conservation...
How "Giftivism" Helped Turn a Tough Oakland Street Into a Close-Knit Community
Michelle Moore, Yes! Magazine
The Fruitvale district of East Oakland, California, is the turf of three major gangs. Yet the residents of Casa de Paz never lock their doors. Anchored by Pancho Ramos Stierle and Adelaja Simon, Casa de Paz is part of a group of homes that form an intentional community of peace and nonviolence in an area rife with structural and physical violence. In order to serve their community, they live with the people—laugh with them, cry with them, and eat with them. They embody "giftivism," practicing radical acts of generosity that change the world, one heart, one home, one block at a time.
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