IBI Watch 7/15/12

15 07 2012

The Biggest Numbers Game of All  //

This week brings news that mainstream media are finally starting to make the connection between greenhouse gas emissions and ever more frequent extreme weather outbreaks.  More on that later.  But for now, a look at the elephant no one seems to want to acknowledge.  That would be, of course, the ever larger human population that is straining the planet’s carrying systems – clean air and water, and sufficient food for the burgeoning human crowd.  It is critically important that we deal effectively with the immediate and growing threat of climate destabilization.  But without tackling the mother of all environmental challenges – human population growth – all environmental protection efforts will ultimately fail.

Studies have shown that the best way to begin reducing the growth rate of human population – currently 80 million net increase per year – is to educate women about reproductive choices and make those choices readily available.  Ideology – mainly conservative religion of Catholic and other persuasions – is a major impediment there.  But this week, a prominent philanthropist – who happens to be Catholic herself – shone a welcome spotlight on this critical issue. The hierarchy will be none too happy about this.  This Guardian article also takes a broader look at the issue. And the United Nations Family Planning Association (UNFPA) does valuable work to educate and support wise reproductive policy

Here is a shout-out to IBI Watch readers.  I would love to see a chart tracking long-term population trends of key species.  The ideal chart would look like this:

  • Time points at 10,000 BC, 1000 AD, 1600 AD, 1800 AD, 1900 AD, 1950 AD, 2000 AD
  • Population of key species at these times – tigers, wolves, whales, bears, predatory birds, and, of course, humans

Anyone ever seen such a chart?  It would show some species dwindling from millions to a few hundred or thousand, while humans balloon from a few million to today’s 7 billion.  It would be a revelation, and no doubt an effective counter to the argument that the world could actually support a much larger human population.

Here are several organizations educating and advocating policy related to population, all worthy of support.






It is getting harder to keep track of just how far weather and climate are spinning out of what we used to think of as normal ranges.  Here is a summary of recent events.  First, a comparison of the ongoing superheated American summer with Dust Bowl conditions.  Next, a chart showing the distribution of record-high temps this summer.  How about a video showing a recent event that I somehow missed – record flooding in western Japan?  Here is another short video that – in just a few minutes – catalogs the dramatic and accelerating climate shifts the US has been experiencing.  Here are just a few highlights:

  • A recent pizza-oven-worthy 118 degree high temp in Kansas
  • Our recent bout the warmest consecutive 12 months on record (since 1895)  (See this chart from Common Dreams)
  • An animation tracking the path video of progress of the storm that took power from 5 million people  (derecho)
  • 40,000 daily heat records, with a 10-1 hot  vs. cold ratio
  • The cool arrogance of Rex Tillerson – ExxonMobil CEO – who smugly promises that humans will ‘adapt’ and cope with this ‘engineering problem.’  (There, there, Mr. T seems to tell us worry warts.  Ah, how comfortable the fortress of oily wealth and power must be.)

As the video says, ‘Welcome to the rest of our lives.”


Alternative Progress

It is hard to remember here in hydrocarbon heaven – with both our major parties thoroughly in the sway – even the employ – of the oil and gas industry – that progress can be made in building and deploying alternative, clean energy in a big way.  All it takes is political will.  I know, dream on  . . .   Doing just that, here are three impressive, even amazing examples.  Enjoy, dream, act.  News from India, Singapore and Germany.


The Sound of Tide Turning

All through the ridiculously warm regime that has settled on the US since March – including the blistering summer, which, after all, is still in its early days – media weather reporters have refused to make the connection between greenhouse gases and all this heat and chaos.  Until now.  And former Secretary of State George Shultz – a staunch Republican – is speaking out in favor of energy efficiency – which of course is a part of the climate change solution.  And while we are looking at Republicans – there are some – who refuse to drink the pignorant (pretend ignorant) Kool-Aid of Limbaugh, Inhofe, Santorum and the whole current crowd – it is always a good time to check into Paul Douglas’s excellent weather/climate blog.  Scroll down to the precipitation extremes chart.  Could all this be the beginning, finally, of the massive policy wake-up that has been so badly needed for so long?  Stay tuned.  Also – don’t hold your breath.



Here is some commentary on another flavor of conservative Kool-Aid, the dogma of the sacred job creators.  First, a document of the degree of obstructionism that President Obama has endured during his term.  And next, a  Paul Krugman piece on government by the rich, for the rich.  As usual, he effectively skewers the ‘job creator’ propaganda.  Here is a particularly strong excerpt.

“The first thing you need to know is that America wasn’t always like this. When John F. Kennedy was elected president, the top 0.01 percent was only about a quarter as rich compared with the typical family as it is now — and members of that class paid much higher taxes than they do today. Yet somehow we managed to have a dynamic, innovative economy that was the envy of the world. The superrich may imagine that their wealth makes the world go round, but history says otherwise.”

And look out – blogger Tom Degan also has the ‘job creators’ in his sights.  Check his Rant for July 14.


No Human Touch Here

Made your summer vacation plans yet? No? A travel book might expand your thinking.  How about ‘Visit Sunny Chernobyl?’  I heard an interview  of the author, Andrew Blackwell that immediately put the book on my reading list.  Watch a video.  ‘Pollution tourism.’ I like this guy’s attitude.   His work seems like a humorous but powerful reminder that Mother Nature bats last, and doesn’t give a damn what pitcher she knocks out of the box.  Listening and watching reminded me of another book that looks at some of the places Blackwell visits – The World Without Us.  Here is a related Scientific American video.  Highly recommended.


Dust Bowl Balladeer’s 100th

Just as we need another FDR in these times, another songwriter like Woody Guthrie would also be a welcome tonic.  Here is a fine tribute done by Democracy Now this past week.  Enjoy!


“Nobody living can ever stop me

As I go walking my freedom highway

Nobody living can make me turn back

This land was made for you and me.”

–       Woody Guthrie



Blogger – Michael Murphy, St. Paul MN



Contributed links to this posting –Jeff Carlson, Allyson Harper, Pierce Hulsey, Brendan Murphy, Connie Simon




One response

15 07 2012
kris haugen

I can’t imagine that people don’t believe global climate change exists — this is on the proportion of believing the world is flat. How can politicians influence people to believe this?

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