Dr Strangelove warned the oil industry about global warming 60 years ago

Four others joined Dunlop at the podium that day, one of whom had made the journey from California – and Hungary before that. The nuclear weapons physicist Edward Teller had, by 1959, become ostracized by the scientific community for betraying his colleague J. Robert Oppenheimer, but he retained the embrace of industry and government. Teller’s task that November fourth was to address the crowd on “energy patterns of the future,” and his words carried an unexpected warning:

Ladies and gentlemen, I am to talk to you about energy in the future. I will start by telling you why I believe that the energy resources of the past must be supplemented. First of all, these energy resources will run short as we use more and more of the fossil fuels. But I would […] like to mention another reason why we probably have to look for additional fuel supplies. And this, strangely, is the question of contaminating the atmosphere. [….] Whenever you burn conventional fuel, you create carbon dioxide. [….] The carbon dioxide is invisible, it is transparent, you can’t smell it, it is not dangerous to health, so why should one worry about it?

Carbon dioxide has a strange property. It transmits visible light but it absorbs the infrared radiation which is emitted from the earth. Its presence in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect [….] It has been calculated that a temperature rise corresponding to a 10 per cent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York. All the coastal cities would be covered, and since a considerable percentage of the human race lives in coastal regions, I think that this chemical contamination is more serious than most people tend to believe.

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The World Inequality Report

by Max Lawson, Head of Inequality Policy,  Oxfam International

This week saw the launch of the first ‘World Inequality Report’ written by the team at the Paris School of Economics and based on the data collected by over 100 researchers behind the World Incomes Database.  The summary is very short and full of fantastic charts, well worth taking a look at.  They have pioneered the use of tax data and other sources to recalculate the incomes of those at the top, which are hugely underestimated. They have now done this for enough large countries to make some conclusions about global trends, which is the basis of the report.
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£280bn Global Arms Sales in 2016

Global sales of weapons and military services have risen for the first time in five years, helped in part by an increase in sales by British companies.

Weapons – many of which are fuelling deadly conflicts in the Middle East – are now being bought and sold at the highest level since 2010, with sales up more than a third (38 per cent) since 2002.

Military kit worth $374.8bn (£280bn) was sold in 2016 by the industry’s top 100 companies, an annual review by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) found.

The findings came as UK firm BAE Systems signed a $6.7bn deal with Qatar to buy 24 Typhoon fighter jets.

British arms sales rose 2 per cent last year and now amount to almost 10 per cent of global sales, researchers found.

Germany’s arms sales jumped 6.6 per cent while South Korean companies notched up 20 per cent more sales than a year earlier. …

Sales by Lockheed Martin – the world’s largest arms producer – rose by 10.7 per cent in 2016, the report found, linked to the sale of F-35 combat aircraft. Continue reading

Destruction Of Black Wealth During The Obama Presidency

Between 2007 and 2016, the average wealth of the bottom 99% decreased by $4,500. This decline was particularly
concentrated among the housing wealth of AfricanAmericans. Outside of home equity, black wealth recovered its 2007 level by 2016. But average black home equity was still $16,700 less. Meanwhile, over the same period, the average wealth of the top 1% increased by $4.9 million. Much of this decline in wealth, we argue, was the direct result of policies enacted by President Obama. His housing policies, particularly regarding foreclosures, were a disastrous failure that led to millions of families losing their homes, with black families suffering especially harsh losses. What’s more, Obama had power—money, legislative tools, and legal leverage—that could have very sharply ameliorated the foreclosure crisis, if not largely prevented it. He chose not to use them.

In the following essay, we shall examine the circumstances that led to the housing bubble, and its eventual collapse in Part I. In Part II, we shall take a close statistical look at the decline in black housing wealth. And in Part III, we shall outline an approach that would have halted the foreclosure crisis, had President Obama chosen to pursue it.

http://peoplespolicyproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Foreclosed.pdf

Artists’ letter on Trump and Jerusalem

The Guardian reports (10th December) President Macron’s comment that recent US moves on the status of Jerusalem are a threat to peace. They are much more than that.

In recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Donald Trump seeks to achieve through a declaration what Israel has been trying to do for fifty years through force of arms: to erase Palestinians, as a political and cultural presence, from the life of their own city.

The Palestinian people of Jerusalem are already subject to municipal discrimination at every level, and a creeping process of ethnic cleansing. In addition to the continuing policy of house demolitions, in the last fifteen years, at least thirty-five Palestinian public institutions and NGOs in occupied East Jerusalem have been permanently or temporarily closed by the occupying forces. Cultural institutions have been a particular target.

At the same time Israeli authorities and entrepreneurs have spent millions in clearing Palestinian neighbourhoods to create ‘heritage’ projects that promote a myth of mono-ethnic urban identity, said to stretch back 3000 years.

We reject Trump’s collusion with such racist manipulation, and his disregard for international law. We deplore his readiness to crown the Israeli military conquest of East Jerusalem and his indifference to Palestinian rights.

As artists and as citizens, we challenge the ignorance and inhumanity of these policies, and celebrate the resilience of Palestinians living under occupation.
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Jeremy Corbyn’s Geneva speech in full

Speaking at the United Nation’s Geneva headquarters today, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, said:

Thank you Paul for that introduction. And let me give a special thanks to the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. Your work gives an important platform to marginalised voices for social justice to challenge policy makers and campaign for change.

I welcome pressure both on my party the British Labour Party and on my leadership to put social justice front and centre stage in everything we do. So thank you for inviting me to speak here in this historic setting at the Palais des Nations in Geneva a city that has been a place of refuge and philosophy since the time of Rousseau. The headquarters before the Second World War of the ill-fated League of Nations, which now houses the United Nations.

It’s a particular privilege to be speaking here because the constitution of our party includes a commitment to support the United Nations. A promise “to secure peace, freedom, democracy, economic security and environmental protection for all”.

I’d also like to thank my fellow panellists, Arancha Gonzalez and Nikhil Seth, and Labour’s Shadow Attorney General, Shami Chakrabarti, who has accompanied me here. She has been a remarkable campaigner and a great asset to the international movement for human rights.

And lastly let me thank you all for being here today.

I would like to use this opportunity in the run- up to International Human Rights Day to focus on the greatest threats to our common humanity. And why states need to throw their weight behind genuine international co-operation and human rights both individual and collective, social and economic, as well as legal and constitutional at home and abroad if we are to meet and overcome those threats.
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