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A roundup of news, views and ideas from the main stream press and the blogosphere.  Click on the headline link to see the full article.

Is the Carbon-Divestment Movement Reaching a Tipping Point?

Wen Stephenson, The Nation
Interviews with Harvard professors Naomi Oreskes and James Anderson about universities’ moral imperative to join the fight against fossil fuel…

California’s greenhouse gas emission targets are getting tougher

Chris Megerian and Michael Finnegan, LA Times
Gov. Jerry Brown accelerated California’s effort to slash greenhouse gas emissions Wednesday, burnishing the state’s reputation as a pacesetter in the battle against climate change.

In an executive order, Brown said the state must cut the pollutants to 40% below 1990 levels by the year 2030, more than a decade after he leaves office.

That is an interim target, intended to help California lower emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by the year 2050, a goal set by Brown’s predecessor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger…

Pope Francis Steps Up Campaign on Climate Change, to Conservatives’ Alarm

Coral Davenport and Laurie Goodstein, New York Times
Since his first homily in 2013, Pope Francis has preached about the need to protect the earth and all of creation as part of a broad message on the environment. It has caused little controversy so far.

But now, as Francis prepares to deliver what is likely to be a highly influential encyclical this summer on environmental degradation and the effects of human-caused climate change on the poor, he is alarming some conservatives in the United States who are loath to see the Catholic Church reposition itself as a mighty voice in a cause they do not believe in…

This is what climate crisis really means

James Murray, Business Green
The tragic deaths in the Mediterranean are precisely in line with the predictions of climate security analysts, without urgent action they could herald an era of mass migration and international tension…

Rising Police Aggression A Telling Indicator Of Our Societal Decline: A historially common marker of failing civilizations

Chris Martenson, Peak Prosperity
My first Uber lift was in South Carolina. My driver was from Sudan originally, but had emigrated to the US 20 years ago. Being the curious sort, I asked him about his life in Sudan and why he moved. He said that he left when his country had crumbled too far, past the point where a reasonable person could have a reasonable expectation of personal safety, when all institutions had become corrupted making business increasingly difficult. So he left.

Detecting a hitch in his delivery when he spoke of coming to the US, I asked him how he felt about the US now, 20 years later. "To be honest," he said, "the same things I saw in Sudan that led me to leave are happening here now. That saddens me greatly, because where else is there to go?"

It’s time to face some uncomfortable ideas about the state of civilization in the United States. This country is no longer the beacon of freedom illuminating a better way for the world. Why not? Because it has ceased to be civilized…

Organic farming can reverse the agriculture ecosystem from a carbon source to a carbon sink

Science China Press, Eurekaalert
Approximately 35% of global greenhouse gases (GHGs) come from agriculture. Some argues that human can reverse global worming by sequestering several hundred billion tons of excess CO2 through regenerative, organic farming, ranching and land use. Increasing the soil’s organic content will not only fix carbon and reduce emissions, it will also improve the soil’s ability to retain water and nutrients and resist pests and droughts…

Headline: You’re Worrying About the Wrong Bees

Gwen Pearson, Wired
“SAVE THE BEES!” is a common refrain these days, and it’s great to see people interested in the little animals critical for our food supply around the globe. But I have one quibble: you’re talking about the wrong bees.

Honey bees will be fine. They are a globally distributed, domesticated animal. Apis mellifera will not go extinct, and the species is not remotely threatened with extinction.

The bees you should be concerned about are the 3,999 other bee species living in North America, most of which are solitary, stingless, ground-nesting bees you’ve never heard of…

Oil-Industry Debt Mounts Up

Eric Yep and Fiona Law, Wall Street Journal
Oil and gas companies are continuing to pile up debt, a trend some warn could extend the slump in energy prices and hit economies reliant on the sector for growth and tax revenue…

A solar future isn’t just likely — it’s inevitable

David Roberts, Vox
I plan to write a great deal about the short-term prospects for clean energy, both economic and political, but I want to begin life here at Vox with an imaginative exercise, a bit of musing about what energy might look like in the future — not 10 or 20 years from now, but 50, 70, even 100 years ahead.

Obviously, predicting the far future is a mug’s game if you take it too seriously. This post is more about storytelling, a way of seeing the present through a different lens, than pure prognostication. But storytelling is important. And insofar as one can feel confident about far-future predictions, I feel pretty good about this one.

Tesla moves into batteries that store energy for homes, businesses

Nichola Groom and Paul Lienert, Reuters
Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O) on Thursday unveiled Tesla Energy – storage systems or batteries for homes, companies and utilities that will expand its business beyond electric vehicles and tap into a fast-growing area of the energy industry.

Chief Executive Elon Musk said the company’s goal was to "fundamentally change the way the world uses energy on an extreme scale." He introduced the products to a crowd of business partners and journalists at a Tesla facility near Los Angeles…

Is the Shale Boom Reversing Progress in Curbing Ozone Pollution?

Gunnar W. Schade and Geoffrey S. Roest, EoS
Concentrations of volatile organic compounds—precursors to ground-level ozone formation—are on the rise in areas over and downwind of a major shale oil and gas field in Texas…

Hydrofluorocarbon emissions up 54% with air conditioning on the rise

Robert McSweeney, The Carbon Brief
As spring temperatures in the UK inched above 20C in recent weeks, air conditioners in offices across the country will have rumbled into life after a silent winter.

But while these machines cool our buildings and cars, they could be having an increasing warming effect on the planet, a new study says.

Air conditioners and fridges contain potent greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The new research shows global emissions of HFCs have risen by more than half between 2007 and 2012.

And as temperatures and incomes rise during this century, air conditioning use is set to grow rapidly in warm countries around the world, a second study finds…

This Is How Fast America Changes Its Mind

Alex Tribou and Keith Collins, Bloomberg
We looked at six big issues—interracial marriage, prohibition, women’s suffrage, abortion, same-sex marriage, and recreational marijuana — to show how this has happened in the past, and may again in the very near future…

On the Lam with Bank Robber Enric Duran

Nathan Schneider, Vice Magazine
Being underground is not a condition Enric Duran always takes literally, but one night in late January he went from basement to basement. At a hackerspace under a tiny library just south of Paris, he met a group of activists from across France and then traveled with them by bus and Métro to another meeting place, in an old palace on the north end of the city. On the ground floor it felt like an art gallery, with white walls and sensitive acoustics, but the basement below was like a cave, full of costumes and scientific instruments and exposed masonry. There, Duran arranged chairs in a circle for the dozen or so people who’d made the journey. As they were settling in and discussing which language they’d speak, a woman from upstairs, attending an event about open licenses, peeked in through the doorway. She pointed Duran out to her friend, trying, barely, to contain herself. After the meeting was over, she came right up to him. "You’re the bank robber!" she said. In that basement Duran held court. Slouching, the 38-year-old anticapitalist activist had a space between his two front teeth, grizzly hair, and a matching beard—black except for stray grays mixed in throughout. He wore a white sweatshirt. His presence was discreet and stilted, yet it carried authority in the room. While others made small talk he looked off elsewhere, but his attention became total as soon as the conversation turned to the matter on his mind and the opportunity to collaborate.

He had gathered the group to describe his latest undertaking, FairCoop, which gradually revealed itself to be no less than a whole new kind of global financial system. With it, he said, communities around the world would be able to trade, fund one another’s growth, redistribute wealth, and make collective decisions. They would hack currency markets to fund themselves while replacing competitive capitalism with cooperation. He proceeded to reel off the names of its sprawling component parts: FairMarket, FairCredits, Fairtoearth, the Global South Fund, and so on. "We will be able to make exchanges with no government controls," he promised in broken English. To get the project going, he had hijacked a Bitcoin-like cryptocurrency called FairCoin…


Robert Macfarlane, Orion Magazine
for over a decade I have been collecting place-words: gleaned singly from conversations, correspondences, or books, and jotted down in journals or on slips of paper. Now and then I have hit buried treasure in the form of vernacular dictionaries or extraordinary people—troves that have held gleaming handfuls of coinages. One such trove turned up on the moors of the Outer Hebridean island of Lewis in 2007. There, I was shown a “Peat Glossary”: a word-list of the hundreds of Gaelic terms for the moorland that stretches over much of Lewis’s interior. Some of the language it recorded was still spoken—but much had fallen into disuse.

The same year I first saw the Peat Glossary, a new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary was published. A sharp-eyed reader noticed that there had been a culling of words concerning nature. Under pressure, Oxford University Press revealed a list of the entries it no longer felt to be relevant to a modern-day childhood. The deletions included acorn, adder, ash, beech, bluebell, buttercup, catkin, conker, cowslip, cygnet, dandelion, fern, hazel, heather, heron, ivy, kingfisher, lark, mistletoe, nectar, newt, otter, pasture, and willow. The words introduced to the new edition included attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, committee, cut-and-paste, MP3 player, and voice-mail.

The substitutions made in the dictionary—the outdoor and the natural being displaced by the indoor and the virtual—are a small but significant symptom of the simulated life we increasingly live. Children are now (and valuably) adept ecologists of the technoscape, with numerous terms for file types but few for differ-ent trees and creatures. A basic literacy of landscape is falling away up and down the ages. And what is lost along with this literacy is something precious: a kind of word magic, the power that certain terms possess to enchant our relations with nature and place. As the writer Henry Porter observed, the OUP deletions removed the “euphonious vocabulary of the natural world—words which do not simply label an object or action but in some mysterious and beautiful way become part of it.”…

We Buy an Insane Amount of Cheap Fashion. John Oliver Reminds Us It All Comes at a Huge Price.

Inae Oh, Mother Jones
Despite decades of outrage over the widespread use of sweatshops and child labor overseas, cheap fashionable garments have continued to prove irresistible to American customers. On the latest Last Week Tonight, John Oliver said the appetite for such low-priced fashion has gotten to the point where Americans now purchase an average 64 new items of clothing every year…

News clippings image via shutterstock. Reproduced at with permission.