Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from February, 2014

Military Preparations Underway

February 24, 2014 – While the American Congress dithers, militaries across the globe are gearing up for the threats presented by climate change.In England, where this month a 250-year flood washed away train lines, knocked out power lines, and made 5,800 homes unlivable, the armed forces see their role as one of offering relief at home.Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, formerly of the Royal Navy, says that military planners are examining how the various branches can be put to their best use elsewhere in the event of future floods, droughts and other natural disasters.The UK’s long supply chains, which are used to import 40% of its food and over 50% of its fuel, rely on shipping “choke points” which must not be closed off.
At NATO Headquarters, Hartmund Behrend, a climate risks expert in Germany’s army, says that “ … health risks, climate change, water security and increasing energy needs will further shape the future security environment in areas of concern to NATO, and have the potential…

2015: Some Like It Hot

February 18, 2014 – A new El Nino prediction method is stirring up controversy.Developed by researchers from Germany, Russia, Israel and the U.S., they maintain they can predict El Nino events with 76% accuracy up to a year in advance.The current method has yet to surmount a so-called ”spring predictability barrier,” thereby limiting forecasts to a six month lead time.
As a reminder, El Nino’s begin in the Pacific Ocean, off the equatorial coast of South America, which includes the countries of Ecuador and Peru.The water of the ocean in this location heats up.They have increased in severity over the years, causing climatic chaos around the world.Hot, humid weather in the U.S. and South America, along with heavy rain, often leads to flooding on these two continents.The opposite effect takes hold in southeast Asia and Australia, where intense drought has lead to greatly extended wildfire seasons.El Nino’s are actually part of a larger event known as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (EN…

No More Dress Rehearsals

February 14, 2014 – If you listen real closely, you can hear the number of climate denialists falling, even as I write.I say that because I don’t know of a single state that’s dodged the bullet this winter.(I actually don’t know what Hawaii’s weather has been like, so maybe 1 out of 50.)Do you suppose that Republicans now understand that mitigation would cost far less than playing catch up?Of course, we’ll HAVE to play catch up after this winter.(All of you who have solar panels on your home and live in a city with readily available mass transit have my permission to look smug.)Our situation can best be described with the words “far too little, far too late.”
The weather is the lead story on the news these days.Was it really just five years ago that the oh-so-sycophantic TV stations never mentioned it at all?Unfortunately, the fact that we’ve taken to believing that corporations are in charge hasn’t changed during that time.That is why we’re in the state we’re in.The corporations pay…

Ignorance No Longer an Excuse

February 10, 2014 - Hampered these five years by a do-nothing Congress, Pres. Obama is finally making slow inroads in combatting climate change.  One measure designed to help farmers and ranchers was announced just last week.  To begin immediately, the administration is setting up 10 climate centers and sub-centers across the country that will act as clearinghouses of agricultural information, intended to help farmers and livestock producers better deal with climatic extremes like those of the last few decades.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement, in which he referred to the extended fire seasons, invasive pests (see my article in Transition Voice about the mountain pine bark beetle),  flooding, and drought as ongoing emergencies farmers must attempt to either mitigate or adapt to.  The growing season in the Midwest is now two weeks longer than sixty years ago, and the fire season is a full two months longer than it was in 1980.  Vilsack also made mention of the wi…

Genetic Engineering: Where Do We Stand?

February 3, 2014 - We live in a disjointed world.  To wit: I read, probably 10 days ago, that Monsanto isn't introducing any new GE seeds this year.  Meanwhile, GE superweeds have overrun American farms, with 50 percent of American farmers reporting Roundup-resistant weed infestations.  Then there's the USDA, which has extended its public comment period on its Advisory Community's recommendations vis-a-vis better relations between conventional and organic farmers (kind of reminds me of that song from the musical Oklahoma!: "Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends ...").  Are we turning a corner, where GE seeds are concerned?  Read on, and ponder.

First, there's the issue of GE labeling.   Oh sure, Monsanto has defeated GE labeling bills in California and Washington, but labeling bills just keep "cropping up," nonetheless.  In fact, last year over half the states introduced GE labeling legislation.  On top of that, U.S. wheat exports to Japan…