Environment, human rights and class power

Farooque Chowdhury

MR Online | March 12, 2021

| Earth man | MR Online

Environment is human right, said and resolved a recent UN meet. It’s a reiteration of an already discussed issue–essential to all of the human society. It’s a much important issue to the peoples in countries facing forces ravaging environment; and, ravaging of environment is an act against people as the act denies people’s right to life and existence.

Reiterating and implementing the environment right empowers people, created/widens people’s space for a democratic life, as environment itself is an area for democracy, for people’s participation. There’s no scope for individualism, neither for person nor for capital–irrespective of capital’s power–in the area of environment. The reasons:

[1] No individual or a coterie of individuals create/can create livable environment at no level. Having a livable environment is collective contribution.

[2] No capital or an alliance of capitals create/can create livable environment with its own power. Without labor, capital is lame, useless–incapable of moving a single grain of sand a millimeter.

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Genes Reveal How Some Rockfish Live up to 200 Years

Jack Tamisiea

Scientific American | November 11, 2021

Genes Reveal How Some Rockfish Live up to 200 Years
Yellowtail rockfish in a kelp forest off the coast of North America in the Pacific Ocean. Credit: Alamy

Few groups of animals encapsulate the extremes of longevity more than fish. While coral reef pygmy govies survive for less than ten weeks, Greenland sharks can endure more than 500 years. So when a team of biologists at the University of California, Berkeley, wanted to explore the genetics of aging, they grabbed their fishing gear.

Their preferred catch was rockfish. Found in coastal waters from California to Japan, rockfish are a colorful group of more than 120 species in the genus Sebastes. Some of these closely related species live for only a decade. Others, such as the rougheye rockfish, can live for more than 200 years.

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Carbon emissions rapidly rebounded following COVID pandemic dip

Jeff Tollefson

Nature | November 04, 2021

An angler is seen fishing along the Huangpu river across the Wujing Coal-Electricity Power Station in Shanghai.
China is a large consumer of coal, which is used to run power stations such as this one in Shanghai.Credit: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty

The abrupt decline in global carbon dioxide emissions during the COVID-19 pandemic, caused by government-mandated lockdowns, will be all but erased by the end of this year, a consortium of scientists reports this week. It predicts that carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels will rise to 36.4 billion tonnes — an increase of 4.9% — in 2021 compared with last year (see ‘Pandemic rebound’). That’s a faster recovery than many scientists expected. The rapid rebound, driven in part by the increasing demand for coal in China and India, suggests that emissions will begin to rise anew next year without substantial government efforts to bend the curve, the researchers warn.

“This is a reality check,” says Corinne Le Quéré, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, and a member of the Global Carbon Project, which presented the report this week at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, UK, where nations are debating the pledges they will make to curb greenhouse-gas emissions. “I’m expecting that it will really hit home with the negotiators and make it very obvious that action is needed.”

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Extreme weather events in India made women, children more vulnerable to modern slavery, flags report

Kiran Pandey

Down To Earth | September 21, 2021

Climate change-induced extreme weather events put women, children and minorities at risk of modern slavery and human trafficking. The phenomenon is on the rise in India, among other countries, warned the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Anti-Slavery International in a recent report. 

Modern slavery — including debt bondage, bonded labour, early / forced marriage and human trafficking — converge with climate change, particularly climate shocks and climate-related forced displacement and migration, the report said.

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Greenland Goes Green: No More New Oil and Gas Exploration

A Journal of People report

Greenland will no more go for new oil and gas exploration. Greenland government puts an end to new oil and gas exploration.

A CBS News report said:

“Greenland has suspended all new oil and gas exploration, the country’s government announced Thursday. Government officials said they believe the ‘price of oil extraction is too high,’ citing both economic considerations and the fight against climate change.

“‘This step has been taken for the sake of our nature, for the sake of our fisheries, for the sake of our tourism industry, and to focus our business on sustainable potentials,’ the government, called Naalakkersuisut, said in a statement.”

A report by The Weather Network (Greenland government puts an end to new oil and gas exploration, July 22, 2021) said:

“The Greenlandic government, Naalakkersuisut, has announced that the country will no longer issue new licenses for oil and gas exploration. A draft-bill was also issued to ban the preliminary investigation, exploration, and extraction of uranium.

“A study from The Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) estimates that there are DKK 18 billion (approximately $3 million USD) de-risked barrels of oil on the west coast of Greenland as well as “large deposits” of oil underneath the ocean floor off the country’s east coast.

“However, the announcement that came on July 19 states that there are several reasons why future oil extraction will not be permitted.

“‘The Greenlandic government believes that the price of oil extraction is too high. This is based upon economic calculations, but considerations of the impact on climate and the environment also play a central role in the decision,’ the announcement states.

“‘Against this background, Naalakkersuisut has decided to cease issuing new licenses for oil and gas exploration in Greenland. This step has been taken for the sake of our nature, for the sake of our fisheries, for the sake of our tourism industry, and to focus our business on sustainable potentials.’”

The report said:

“Scientists say that Greenland and other regions in the Arctic are amongst the fastest warming places on the planet. A study (Niklas Boers and Martin Rypdal, “Critical slowing down suggests that the western Greenland Ice Sheet is close to a tipping point”) published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) states that the central-western part of the Greenland Ice Sheet could ‘undergo a critical transition relatively soon’ and that the entire island could be ice-free by the year 3000.

“In addition to the concerning rate of disappearing ice, other impacts from the thawing landscape include rising levels of mercury in meltwater and drastic changes in biodiversity.

“‘Naalakkersuisut takes climate change seriously. We can see the consequences in our country every day, and we are ready to contribute to global solutions to counter climate change. Naalakkersuisut is working to attract new investments for the large hydropower potential that we cannot exploit ourselves. The decision to stop new exploration for oil will contribute to place Greenland as the country where sustainable investments are taken seriously,’ stated Kalistat Lund, the Minister for Agriculture, Self-sufficiency, Energy and Environment.”

Greenland has four active exploration licenses, owned by two small companies, that the government will still be required to respect as long as licensees are still exploring, The Associated Press reported.

The Greenland government also announced that it has sent out a draft bill for consultation that would ban preliminary investigation, exploration and extraction of uranium.

Uranium, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is a widely-used radioactive element that is now primarily used as fuel for nuclear energy. There are several ways to extract uranium, but all of them, according to the EPA, produce radioactive waste.

“The Greenlandic population has based its livelihood on the country’s natural resources for centuries, and the ban on uranium mining is rooted in a profound belief that business activities must take nature and the environment into account,” Naalakkersuisut said in a statement.

The study report “Critical slowing down suggests that the western Greenland Ice Sheet is close to a tipping point” said:

“The Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) is a potentially unstable component of the Earth system and may exhibit a critical transition under ongoing global warming. Mass reductions of the GrIS have substantial impacts on global sea level and the speed of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, due to the additional freshwater caused by increased meltwater runoff into the northern Atlantic. The stability of the GrIS depends crucially on the positive melt-elevation feedback (MEF), by which melt rates increase as the overall ice sheet height decreases under rising temperatures. Melting rates across Greenland have accelerated nonlinearly in recent decades, and models predict a critical temperature threshold beyond which the current ice sheet state is not maintainable. We investigate long-term melt rate and ice sheet height reconstructions from the central-western GrIS in combination with model simulations to quantify the stability of this part of the GrIS. We reveal significant early-warning signals (EWS) indicating that the central-western GrIS is close to a critical transition. By relating the statistical EWS to underlying physical processes, our results suggest that the MEF plays a dominant role in the observed, ongoing destabilization of the central-western GrIS. Our results suggest substantial further GrIS mass loss in the near future and call for urgent, observation-constrained stability assessments of other parts of the GrIS.”

It said:

“During the last century, the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS) has lost mass at an accelerating rate. The mass loss is caused by solid ice discharge into the North Atlantic and surface melting due to increasing temperatures. The relative contribution of the latter has increased from 42% before 2005 to 68% between 2009 and 2012, and surface runoff caused 84% of the increase in mass reduction since 2009. The complete melting of the GrIS would cause a global sea level rise of more than 7 m. Continued melting of the GrIS has been suggested to potentially lead to a collapse of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation via increased freshwater flux into the North Atlantic, which may, in turn, trigger a cascade of transitions in additional tipping elements such as the Amazon rainforest and the tropical monsoon systems.”

China launches world’s largest carbon market: but is it ambitious enough?

Experts welcome the trading scheme, but question whether it is up to the task of helping China achieve its climate goals.

Bianca Nogrady

Nature | July 20, 2021

Steam billows out of chimneys of a coal-fired power plant in Hangzhou in east China’ s Zhejiang province.
A coal-fired power plant in Hangzhou in China’s Zhejiang province.Credit: Feature China/Barcroft Media/Getty

China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has launched its first national emissions-trading scheme. Such carbon-pricing mechanisms exist in around 45 countries already, but China’s scheme, which began trading last week, is the world’s biggest.

It has been plagued by delays, and researchers argue it might not be ambitious enough to enable China to meet its emissions-reduction goals, including a 2030 deadline for peak emissions and a 2060 goal of net-zero emissions.

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Southeast Amazonia is no longer a carbon sink

Scott Denning

Nature | July 14, 2021

Since at least the inception of modern records of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels in the 1950s, there has been a small global excess (about 2%) in the amount of CO2 taken up by land plants for photosynthesis, compared with the amount emitted as a result of the decomposition of organic material. This land carbon sink has absorbed around 25% of all fossil-fuel emissions since 1960 (ref. 1)1, offsetting some global warming. Tropical forests have been a major component of the land carbon sink, and the largest intact tropical forest is in Amazonia. Writing in Nature, Gatti et al.2 report extensive direct sampling of the atmosphere over this region. Their data reveal that western Amazonia is still a relatively weak carbon sink, but suggest that deforestation and warming over eastern Amazonia have degraded — or even reversed — regional uptake of carbon by the forest.

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ENVIRONMENT 

Cyclone Yaas is Another Reminder of The Urgent Need for Coming Together to Face Difficult Times

Bharat Dogra

Countercurrents | May 27, 2021

One cyclone coming soon after another and that too in pandemic times need not and should not lead to a sense of helplessness. The country has  the capacity to overcome bigger challenges, and this has been revealed several times in the middle of great difficulties. In a more specific context,  frontline coastal states like Odisha and West Bengal have shown significant improvements in cyclone related preparations and rescue efforts. At the  level of its wide coastal region, the nation has improved the warning systems.

However we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. As there are definite and proven signs that  the threat from disasters in general and cyclones in particular in times of climate change is increasing, we need to improve our disaster-preparedness much more.Read More »

BIRDS

There are 50 billion wild birds on Earth – but four species dominate

Adam Vaughan

New Scientist | May 17, 2021

starlings
European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) are one of the world’s most common birds
Arndt Sven-Erik/Arterra Picture Library/Alamy

Earth is home to around 50 billion wild birds according to a new global estimate, but most species are very rare and only a handful number in the billions.

Just four undomesticated species are in the club of those with a billion-plus individuals, with house sparrows (Passer domesticus) the most abundant, followed by European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), ring-billed gulls (Larus delawarensis) and barn swallows (Hirundo rustica). By contrast, 1180 species number fewer than 5000 birds each.Read More »

ENVIRONMENT

What happened when the oceans went quiet during the pandemic? Scientists set to find out

Preetha Banerjee

Down To Earth | April 09, 2021

What happened when the oceans went quiet? Scientists set to find out

The reduced noise pollution during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic made the birds and the bees and other terrestrial creatures merry. In the underwater world, too, anthrophony (human-made sounds) reduced substantially for long months last year.

Scientists have now come together to understand the impact of these quiet months on the marine ecosystem.  The International Quiet Ocean Experiment (IQOE) has identified a network of over 200 non-military hydrophones (underwater microphones) in oceans across the world.Read More »