Climate change is not just about carbon dioxide – the dangerously high level of methane leak to the atmosphere

In February, Harvard researchers published an explosive paper in Geophysical Research Letters. Using satellite data and ground observations, they concluded that the nation as a whole is leaking methane in massive quantities. Between 2002 and 2014, the data showed that US methane emissions increased by more than 30 percent, accounting for 30 to 60 percent of an enormous spike in methane in the entire planet’s atmosphere.
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Green investment bank loses its green purpose

What a joke!

The bank set up by the government to to fund green infrastructure and cited frequently by David Cameron as evidence of the UK’s leadership on climate change will no longer be required by law to invest in green schemes, under moves put forward by ministers.

Campaigners said that changes proposed on Tuesday by small business minister Anna Soubry effectively delete the clause enshrined in legislation that gives the green investment bank its green purpose.

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Security-led approach to climate change and complex emergencies

Dystopian preparations by the state are reflected in the corporate arena. Where we see a future climate crisis, many companies see only opportunity: oil firms looking forward to melting ice caps delivering new accessible fossil fuels; security firms touting the latest technologies to secure borders from ‘climate refugees’; or investment fund managers speculating on weather-related food prices – to name but a few. In 2012, Raytheon, one of the world’s largest defence contractors, announced “expanded business opportunities” arising from “security concerns and their possible consequences,” due to the “effects of climate change” in the form of “storms, droughts, and floods”. The rest of the defence sector has been quick to follow. Continue reading

5% Digest (Week 23/03/15)

Gregory D. Johnsen wrote a detailed account of the rise of Huthis in Yemen. Adam Baron argued that the power struggle is primarily local and foreign intervention will be a very bad idea.

But what is abundantly clear at the moment is that this remains, by and large, an internal Yemeni political conflict—one that, despite frequent sectarian mischaracterizations and potential regional implications, remains deeply rooted in local Yemeni issues.

And if history is a guide, foreign intervention will only stand to exacerbate the situation. Ironically, talk now centers on a potential Saudi Arabian and Egyptian military intervention in Yemen, a scenario that immediately brought to mind the memory of North Yemen’s 1960s Civil War which saw both sides intervene—albeit on different sides—in a matter which only appeared to draw the conflict out further. This is not to say that there isn’t a place for foreign powers to aid Yemeni factions in negotiating some new political settlement. But any nation that aims to make Yemen’s fight their own is more than likely to come out on the losing side.

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November Reading List

  1. Fracking could carry unforeseen risks as thalidomide and asbestos did, says report 
  2. This headline will subtly mislead you and science says that probably matters
  3. 5 Key Takeaways From the Latest Climate Change Report
  4. Why Ebola hit West Africa hard
  5. Nuclear Arms Control in China Today
  6. Texas oil town makes history as residents say no to fracking 
  7. The secular stagnation hoax
  8. The Pentagon’s Arguments for Runaway Arms Trading Are Indefensible
  9. World’s first solar cycle lane opening in the Netherlands
  10. Raytheon acquires cyber firm for $420 million
  11. America’s New Mercenaries
  12. What’s the environmental impact of modern war?
  13. Petraeus joins pro-fracking choir at Harvard’s Belfer Center
  14. Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia
  15. Foundation of US nuclear system showing cracks
  16. Midterms 2014: The Red Wedding for Democrats
  17. Can (green) energy policy create jobs?
  18. Death Wears Bunny Slippers
  19. It is the 0.01% who are really getting ahead in America
  20. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and UK healthcare
  21. Is neoliberalism at last unravelling in Britain?
  22. For Whom the Wall Fell? A balance-sheet of transition to capitalism 
  23. Ministers’ shale gas ‘hype’ attacked
  24. Some Very Initial Thoughts on the US-China Deal
  25. The social, political and ecological pathologies of the Ebola Crisis cannot be ignored
  26. F’d: How the U.S. and Its Allies Got Stuck with the World’s Worst New Warplane
  27. Spied on by BP
  28. How did the first world war actually end?
  29. Don’t Throw Billions at an Obsolete Nuclear Arsenal
  30. Hard Evidence: are we facing another financial crisis? 
  31. Growth: the destructive god that can never be appeased
  32. Cameron is right to warn of another recession, but wrong to blame the world
  33. The Top 5 Foreign Policy Lessons of the Past 20 Years
  34. The .01 Percent Blow Their Fortunes on Yachts, Personal Jets and America’s Politicians
  35. How much is owed to Gaza? Does anyone know? This is not a rhetorical question. I’m really asking!
  36. International arms firm Lockheed Martin in the frame for £1bn NHS contract 
  37. We Love the Pentagon’s ‘Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure’
  38. Massive Rail Deal Gives China’s Push Into Africa a Major Win
  39. Exaggeration Nation
  40. Barclays boycotted over Israel arms trade shares
  41. Firms invested £17bn in companies making cluster bombs, report says
  42. There is Nothing Natural about Gentrification
  43. 41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground 
  44. The ‘crass insensitivity’ of Tower’s luxury dinner for arms dealers, days after poppy display 
  45. Fracking firm’s plans to look for gas in North Yorkshire criticised by environmental groups
  46. House Republicans just passed a bill forbidding scientists from advising the EPA on their own research
  47. Justifying War: “Just” Wars  

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September Reading List

  1. How the west created the Islamic State
  2. Who’s Paying the Pro-War Pundits?
  3. The Pentagon’s $800-Billion Real Estate Problem
  4. Lefties and liberals still don’t do enough to stop wars
  5. How the super rich got richer: 10 shocking facts about inequality
  6. ISIS’s Enemy List: 10 Reasons the Islamic State Is Doomed
  7. Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault
  8. Democracy in the Twenty-First Century
  9. Israeli drone conference features weapons used to kill Gaza’s children
  10. New Report on Water Impacts of Shale Gas Development
  11. Behind the headlines: Fracking and water contamination
  12. Story of a War Foretold: Why we’re fighting ISIS
  13. Richard Brooks and Andrew Bousfield, 19th September 2014. Shady Arabia and the Desert Fix. Private Eye.
  14. “My childhood was not an episode from Downton Abbey”
  15. Russell Tribunal finds evidence of incitement to genocide, crimes against humanity in Gaza
  16. ‘Blood on their hands’: Glasgow activists shut down drone manufacturer
  17. Inequality is a choice: U.S. inequality in two shocking graphics
  18. Europe Tries to Stop Flow of Citizens Joining Jihad
  19. On the streets with the People’s Climate March
  20. The Great Frack Forward
  21. The Unaffordable Arsenal

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The rise of disaster militarism

Annie Isabel Fukushima, Ayano Ginoza, Michiko Hase, Gwyn Kirk, Deborah Lee, Taeva Shefler, “Disaster Militarism: Rethinking US Relief in the Asia-Pacific,” 14 March 2014, The Nation and Foreign Policy In Focus

… Paralleling these disasters has been the disaster response of the US military. According to this “disaster militarism”—which is a pattern of rhetoric, beliefs and practices—the military should be the primary responder to large-scale disasters. Disaster militarism is not only reflected in the deployment of troops but also in media discourse that naturalizes and calls for military action in times of environmental catastrophes.
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Global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades

Nafeez Ahmed, “Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for ‘irreversible collapse’?,” 14 March 2014, Guardian

A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
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US Department of Defense is the Worst Polluter on the Planet

US Department of Defense is the Worst Polluter on the Planet,” Project Censored

The US military is responsible for the most egregious and widespread pollution of the planet, yet this information and accompanying documentation goes almost entirely unreported. In spite of the evidence, the environmental impact of the US military goes largely unaddressed by environmental organizations and was not the focus of any discussions or proposed restrictions at the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. This impact includes uninhibited use of fossil fuels, massive creation of greenhouse gases, and extensive release of radioactive and chemical contaminants into the air, water, and soil.
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Just 90 companies caused 2/3 of man-made global warming emissions

Which companies caused global warming?

Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions,” Guardian, 20 November 2013

The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests.

The companies range from investor-owned firms – household names such as Chevron, Exxon and BP – to state-owned and government-run firms. …
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Defense Contractor: Climate Change Could Create “Business Opportunities”

Jeremy Schulman, “Defense Contractor: Climate Change Could Create ‘Business Opportunities,” Mother Jones, 14 August 2013

Of all the business opportunities presented by global warming, Raytheon Company may have found one of the most alarming. The Massachusetts-based defense contractor—which makes everything from communications systems to Tomahawk missiles—thinks that future “security concerns” caused by climate change could mean expanded sales of its military products. …
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Melting Arctic May Cost Global Economy $60 Trillion

Kiley Kroh, “New Research Finds Melting Arctic May Cost Global Economy $60 Trillion,” TP Climate Progress, July 24 2013

In findings published in the journal Nature, economists and polar scientists from the University of Cambridge and Erasmus University Rotterdam found that the ripple effects of climate change in the Arctic — unlocking frozen reserves of methane that speed global warming and cause destructive and costly climactic changes across the planet — could deal a severe blow to the global economy.

The release of methane from thawing permafrost beneath the East Siberian Sea, off northern Russia, alone comes with an average global price tag of $60 trillion in the absence of mitigating action — a figure comparable to the size of the world economy in 2012 (about $70 trillion). The total cost of Arctic change will be much higher.

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The global climate cliff

Paul Rogers , “The global climate cliff,” openDemocracy, 18 July 2013

The events in Uttarakhand closely follow a report from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) on weather trends in the first decade of the 21st century, which focuses in part on the increased intensity of severe weather events and their likely link to carbon emissions and climate change. The WMO report – The Global Climate 2001-2010: A Decade of Climate Extremes – is particularly useful because it examine a whole decade and compares it with earlier ones, a process that puts smaller fluctuations in perspective and gives a clearer picture of underlying trends  (see Alex Kirby, “Unprecedented climate extremes marked last decade, says UN”, Guardian Environment Network, 3 July 2013).
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