Shipping industry is pressured to cut pollution caused by merchant fleet : NPR

December 1, 20215:05 AM ET Heard on Morning Edition

Jackie Northam

The global shipping industry is coming under increasing pressure to cut the pollution created by the world’s merchant fleet. The effort to reduce ship emissions isn’t going well.


With supply chains in disarray, the shipping industry is a technicolor mess. Huge container ships are stuck at ports waiting to be unloaded. And as they idle, those ships are creating pollution. An effort to fix this problem is not going well. Here’s NPR’s Jackie Northam.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: The shipping industry’s contribution to globalization has been huge. About 90% of the world’s trade is transported by sea. But the cost to the environment is enormous. Every year, those container ships plying the world’s waterways spew about 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air, which is about three 3% of all greenhouse gas emissions. For many years, the emissions were just part of the cost of globalization.

SIMON BENNETT: Forgive the pun, but there’s been a total sea change in the last three or four years.

NORTHAM: Simon Bennett is with the International Chamber of Shipping, a global trade association representing about 80% of the world’s fleet. He says the shipping industry as a whole is committed to total decarbonization by 2050. Bennett says that’s created an urgency among shipowners to meet that deadline.

BENNETT: And ultimately, for individual shipping companies, the issue will become existential because if you don’t abide with the regulations, which are fairly strictly enforced globally, then, ultimately, your ship won’t be able to trade.

The Elephants in the Room: How Will US-China Climate Relations Play Out?

New Economic Thinking – Dec 17, 2021

The path to sustainable and just climate transition globally cannot happen without meaningful actions and cooperation between the US and China – the world’s largest economies and carbon emitters. What can we expect from US-China climate relations? From the #INETlive #ClimateDebates…

Scientists have been sounding the alarm for decades about the severe global impact that rising temperatures will have on the environment, economies, health outcomes, and ultimately humanity’s long-term survival. Yet little has been done.

Recently, however, it seems that much of the world has awakened to the imminent threat posed by climate change. Multilateral efforts, especially those led by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, have earned support around the world, but the convention itself is rather toothless. The United States rejoining the UN’s Paris Climate Agreement is an important step forward, but perhaps more important is the announced collaboration between the US and China, for without their partnership much cannot be achieved.

The goals set by the Paris accord are ambitious and require countries to undertake a massive economic transition, but little progress has yet been realized. Shaken by a deadly pandemic, the world now looks ahead to COP26 in Glasgow later this year to avert climate catastrophe.

It begs to wonder: Will meaningful change finally come of these efforts? What has stood in the way until now, and what impediments might derail this shift?

In a series of debates, the Institute for New Economic Thinking examines the role of economics in climate change, the relation between how we think about and govern our economies and the transformation we know is necessary, and the areas where economics can still play a productive role for the good of the climate and society.

​​Planned Parenthood CEO: If SCOTUS Restricts Abortion Access, Marginalized People Will Be H urt Most

2 Dec 2021
We speak to Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, about the Supreme Court hearing Wednesday, in which the conservative majority on the court seemed to indicate that they support upholding the restrictive Mississippi law that bans abortion starting at just 15 weeks of pregnancy, and potentially overturn Roe v. Wade. Justice Amy Comey Barrett suggested during questioning that giving up children for adoption would resolve the pro-choice argument that anti-abortion laws force women into motherhood. “Our very right to determine when and if we become pregnant, our self determination, is predicated on our ability to be seen as free and equal citizens in this country,” says Johnson. She says if the ban is upheld, the people most impacted will be “low income, Black, Brown and Indigenous communities, people who are trans and nonbinary, people who might not have support at home.”

Charles C Mann, “The Wizard and The Prophet”

Politics and ProseFeb 15, 2018

Scientific journalist Charles C. Mann discusses his book, “The Wizard and the Prophet”, at Politics and Prose on 2/1/18.

Mann’s award-winning histories, 1491 and 1493, looked back to Columbus and his world-changing expeditions. His new book profiles two influential scientists and projects their distinct visions for the future. The wizard of his title is Norman Borlaug (1914-2009), an agronomist and humanitarian who pioneered the Green Revolution and won the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work. To his followers, Borlaug represents a faith in human ingenuity. Any problems caused by overpopulation, climate change, water scarcity, and their like can be solved with technology. Arguing the opposite was the prophet, William Vogt (1902-1968), an ecologist and ornithologist who headed the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and served as secretary of the Conservation Foundation. He argued that the planet has limits and that we must learn to live within them. Mann is in conversation with Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic and author of My Age of Anxiety.…

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Charles C. Mann: The Wizard and the Prophet – The Long Now

“Two ways to save humanity” observations from
“The Edge of the Petri Dish.”

Science journalist Charles C. Mann is author of 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus (02006), 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created (02012) and The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow’s World (02018).

Civilization’s health hangs on how we manage food, water, energy, and climate. Two conflicting visions dominate how we think about them. Each vision had an original creator and exemplar—the “prophet” William Vogt, author of Road to Survival, and the “wizard” Norman Borlaug, mastermind of The Green Revolution in agriculture. The prophet says to repent and cut back on everything; the wizard says that clever enough innovation can always find a way forward.

Examine both visionaries and their visions closely, and a way to proceed emerges that combines alert caution with bold invention.

Charles C. Mann is the author of the 2006 book 1491, about the Americas before Columbus, and the 2012 book 1493, about the Americas after Columbus. His previous SALT talk, in April 2012, was about “the Homogenocene.”

Two ways to save humanity

Mann titled his talk “The Edge of the Petri Dish.” He explained, “If you drop a couple protozoa in a Petri dish filled with nutrient goo, they will multiply until they run out of resources or drown in their own wastes.” Humans in the world Petri dish appear to be similarly doomed, judging by our exponential increases in population, energy use, water use, income, and greenhouse gases.

How to save humanity? Opposing grand approaches emerged from two remarkable scientists in the mid-20th century who fought each other their entire lives. Their solutions were so persuasive that their impassioned argument continues 70 years later to dominate how we think about dealing with the still-exacerbating exponential impacts.

Norman Borlaug, the one Mann calls “the Wizard,” was a farm kid trained as a forester. In 1944 he found himself in impoverished Mexico with an impossible task—solve the ancient fungal killer of wheat, rust. First he invented high-volume crossbreeding, then shuttle breeding (between winter wheat and spring wheat), and then semi-dwarf wheat. The resulting package of hybrid seeds, synthetic fertilizer, and irrigation became the Green Revolution that ended most of hunger throughout the world for the first time in history.

There were costs. The diversity of crops went down. Excess fertilizer became a pollutant. Agriculture industrialized at increasing scale, and displaced smallhold farmers fled to urban slums.

William Vogt, who Mann calls “the Prophet,” was a poor city kid who followed his interest in birds to become an isolated researcher on the revolting guano islands of Peru. He discovered that periodic massive bird die-offs on the islands were caused by the El Niño cycle pushing the Humboldt Current with its huge load of anchovetas away from the coast and starving the birds. The birds were, Vogt declared, subject to an inescapable “carrying capacity.“ That became the foundational idea of the environmental movement, later expressed in terms such as “limits to growth,” “ecological overshoot,” and “planetary boundaries.” Vogt spelled out the worldview in his powerful 1948 book, The Road to Survival.

The Prophets-versus-Wizards debate keeps on raging—artisanal organic farming versus factory-like mega-farms; distributed solar energy versus centralized fossil fuel refineries and nuclear power plants; dealing with climate change by planting a zillion trees versus geoengineering with aerosols in the stratosphere. The question continues: How do we best manage our world Petri dish? Restraint? Or innovation?

Can humanity change its behavior at planet scale? Mann ended by pointing out that in 1800 slavery was universal in the world and had been throughout history. Then it ended. How? Prophets say that morally committed abolitionists did it. Wizards say that clever labor-saving machinery did it.

Maybe it was the combination.

See related:

“The Viral Underclass”: COVID-19 and AIDS Show What Happens When Inequality and Disease Coll ide

1 Dec 2021
As December 1 marks World AIDS Day, we look at the pandemic that preceded COVID-19 and how recorded deaths of complications from the coronavirus this year have surpassed those of HIV/AIDS in the United States. The head of UNAIDS has warned the COVID-19 pandemic may result in an increase in infections and deaths from HIV and AIDS. Both viruses disproportionately impacted vulnerable minority communities. Although treatment rollout for HIV/AIDS was uniquely inhibited by homophobia, racism, and sexism, it was also plagued by corporate greed and U.S. exceptionalism. “We’re seeing very similar dynamics again now with COVID-19,” says Steven Thrasher, professor at Northwestern University in the Medill School of Journalism and the Institute of Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. “We have the vaccines, we have medications that are very effective, and they’re again being held from the Global South to protect the profits of pharmaceutical corporations.”

“Farewell to British Colonial Rule”: Barbados Breaks From the Queen as Calls Grow For Repara tions

1 Dec 2021
Barbados has become the world’s newest republic breaking ties with Queen Elizabeth 55 years after it became an independent nation, saying it was time for Barbados to break from its colonial past. The move comes as calls grow for the United Kingdom to pay reparations for enacting a regime of slavery in Barbados. While it was an occasion for celebration, it was also “55 years overdue” and should have happened when Barbados won its independence in 1966, says David Comissiong, Barbados’s ambassador to the Caribbean Community and the Association of Caribbean States. “Barbados was a center of British power. You don’t get rid of the imprint of that history so easily.”

Amazon Workers in Alabama Get New Shot at Union After NLRB Rules Company Broke the Law in 1st Vote

Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama may soon get another chance to decide whether to unionize. The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that Amazon violated U.S. labor law while waging an aggressive anti-unionization campaign against warehouse workers earlier this year in Bessemer, Alabama. This comes as Amazon workers worldwide from Bangladesh to Germany campaigned on Black Friday for fairer working conditions under the banner, “Make Amazon Pay.” “If Amazon is trying to eat the world, it’s also bringing many disparate sets of workers and activists and communities together to fight against them,” says Alex Press, staff writer at Jacobin.

China ramps up aid to African countries

Sanusha Naidu with the Institute for Global Dialogue and commentator Einar Tangen discuss China-Africa economic and trade ties.

Africa, Far Behind – The New York Times

By David Leonhardt

Dec. 1, 2021, 6:32 a.m. ET

Last week, just days before scientists discovered the Omicron variant, South Africa’s government asked Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer not to make some planned deliveries of their Covid-19 vaccines. The country already had more doses in storage than it could use — about 16 million, in a country of 60 million people — and officials were worried that further supplies would spoil before they could be used.

How could that be?

The main answer should be familiar to Americans: vaccine skepticism. “There is a fair amount of apathy and hesitancy,” Dr. Shabir Madhi, a vaccination expert in South Africa, told Reuters. For similar reasons, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi have asked donors to pause vaccine deliveries, my colleague Declan Walsh has reported.

(This article on vaccine skepticism in Africa, by Lynsey Chutel and Max Fisher, has more detail.)

The sources of the skepticism are different in the U.S. and in Africa. In much of Africa, they are related to decades of exploitation and poverty. In the U.S., the biggest cause is political polarization: More than 35 percent of Republican voters are unvaccinated, compared with fewer than 10 percent of Democrats.

But both forms of skepticism stem from distrust — of experts, institutions and government leaders. And that distrust has become a major reason that the world is struggling to defeat Covid. The more people remain unvaccinated, the more the Covid virus spreads and the more people die. Less vaccination also increases the chances that dangerous variants will emerge.

…(read more).