Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Billions Short of Water, Oceans Decimated, Crop-Killing Clouds -- But Le Monde's Herve Kempf Diagnoses Real Threat, Can Obama Overcome It?

United States of Climate Change, Sightline

For Obama, “the science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear.” The president-elect promised a federal cap-and-trade system that would mandate that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020, and then reduced an additional 80 percent by 2050. The government, he said, would invest $15 billion annually “to catalyze private sector efforts to build a clean energy future,” a future that includes solar power, wind power, safe nuclear energy, next-generation biofuels, and “clean coal,” whatever that means. Christian Science Monitor, 11-19-08

Climate Crisis & Sustainability Update: Billions Short of Water, Oceans Decimated, Crop-Killing Clouds -- But Le Monde's Herve Kempf Diagnoses the Real Threat, Can Obama Overcome It?

By Richard Power

I do not doubt President-Elect Obama's sincere intention.

But we will soon see if his skillful graciousness toward two vanquished foes, Senators Lieberman and McCain, translates into meaningful support in the great legislative battles ahead. Both Lieberman and McCain have positioned themselves as champions of coming to grips with the Climate Crisis, they will have the opportunity to prove it in the coming year. (Like me, you are probably skeptical.)

There is no more time. The community of nations has to come to a real consensus in 2009, and then take immediate action. There is no sane alternative.

The environmental dangers mount day by day.

Three recent stories offer profoundly disturbing evidence:

Half the world's population could face a shortage of clean water by 2080 because of climate change .... Wong Poh Poh, a professor at the National University of Singapore, told a regional conference that global warming was disrupting water flow patterns and increasing the severity of floods, droughts and storms — all of which reduce the availability of drinking water. Eileen Ng, Associated Press, 11-18-08

... during the eight years the [Census of Marine Life] has run so far, scientists have documented that more than 90 percent of the oceans' top predators -- large sharks, tunas, swordfish, cod and others -- are now gone and those remaining are in serious trouble. "We're also seeing evidence of climate change with the shifting distribution of species," he said. Inter Press Service, 11-11-08

Enormous brown clouds of pollution hanging over Asia are killing hundreds of thousands of people, melting glaciers, changing weather patterns and damaging crops, the United Nations .... Car traffic, factory emissions and indoor cooking are among the culprits for the "Atmospheric Brown Clouds" ... Five Atmospheric Brown Cloud (ABC) hotspots have been detected around the world, three of which are in Asia. Agence France Press, 11-13-08

Meanwhile, the political and economic will to face these dangers has yet to be tested in the corridors of US power.

In an excellent interview with Leslie Thatcher of Truthout, Herve Kempf, Le Monde's environmental editor and author of How the Rich Are Destroying the Earth explains the problem:

What do you see as the big differences between Europe and the United States with respect to social and environmental issues?
The European Union has been much less damaged by Reagan/Thatcher capitalism than the United States. ...
The oligarchy is less powerful in Europe than in the United States. Europe still enjoys effective social protections such as health care, social security, unemployment benefits and pensions.
In Europe, the state is not seen as the enemy of society. ...
The great paradox, however, is that it's the United States which has just elected perhaps the most progressive politician of all, one who is certainly ahead on social and environmental issues and supports the oligarchy less than European leaders Sarkozy, Merkel, Berlusconi and Brown. ...
The last major difference, however, and a crucial one, is that Europeans have far lower per-capita energy consumption than Americans and their environmental consciousness - even in France, Germany and the UK - seems far more advanced than here.
Leslie Thatcher Interviews Herve Kempf, Truthout, 11-13-08

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

For the Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates Archive, click here.

Click here for access to great promotional tools available on The Eleventh Hour action page.

To sign the Live Earth Pledge, click here.

For analysis of the US mainstream news media's failure to treat global warming and climate change with accuracy or appropriae urgency, click here for Media Matters' compilation of "Myths and Falsehoods about Global Warming".

Want to participate in the effort to mitigate the impact of global warming? Download "Ten Things You Can Do"

Want to join over one million people on the Stop Global Warming Virtual March, and become part of the movement to demand our leaders freeze and reduce carbon dioxide emissions now? Click here.

Center for American Progress Action Fund's Mic Check Radio has released a witty and compelling compilation on the Top 100 Effects of Global Warming, organized into sections like "Global Warming Wrecks All the Fun" (e.g., "Goodbye to Pinot Noir," "Goodbye to Baseball," "Goodbye to Salmon Dinners," "Goodbye to Ski Vacations," etc.), "Global Warming Kills the Animals" (e.g., "Death March of the Penguins," "Dying Grey Whales," "Farewell to Frogs," etc.) and yes, "Global Warming Threatens Our National Security" (e.g., "Famine," "Drought," "Large-Scale Migrations," "The World's Checkbook," etc.) I urge you to utilize Top 100 Effects of Global Warming in your dialogues with friends, family and colleagues.

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