Daily Archives: April 25, 2014

Chinese Rejection of Some GMO Corn Worries US Farmers

E120, e146, food-matters

The IPCC and ExxonMobil Have Very Different Thoughts About Our Future

April 23, 2014

In this April 16, 2010 file photo, steam rises from towers at an Exxon Mobil refinery in Baytown, Texas. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan. File)

Earlier this month, we noted that shareholders were attempting to push ExxonMobil to recognize the importance of climate change and take into account the risks posed by a warming climate and possible regulations to it’s future business. But instead, the oil giant released a report saying that neither climate change nor a government response to it will affect the way the company does business — in part, because, according to Exxon’s assessment, it doesn’t seem likely that governments will take action to combat climate change during the next quarter century.

ExxonMobil’s response to shareholders was released on the same day that the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its latest report on how devastating climate change will be if we don’t take action to stop it soon.

A shareholder advocacy group called As You Sow was a major part of the push to get Exxon to address climate change. The group’s CEO, Andrew Behar, was in touch earlier this week and offered his take on the differing worldviews expressed in the ExxonMobil report and the IPCC report. “When you read the two reports side by side, [the] contrasts are stark,” he wrote.

Look at Exxon report page 1 where they state, “we are confident that none of our hydrocarbon reserves are now or will become ‘stranded.’ We believe producing these assets is essential to meeting growing energy demand worldwide, and in preventing consumers – especially those in the least developed and most vulnerable economies – from themselves becoming stranded in the global pursuit of higher living standards and greater economic opportunity.” On page 2 you see pictures showing how fossil fuels bring improved living standards to the poor around the world. This is their core premise, that demand will increase as they power the world to a brighter future.

This stands in stark contrast to the IPCC5 report (compiled by 830 authors from around the world and based on tens of thousands of scientific studies) and I quote from page 7, “People who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally, or otherwise marginalized are especially vulnerable to climate change.” And continuing on 12, “risk of death, injury, ill-health, or disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones… severe ill-health and disrupted livelihoods for large urban populations… breakdown of infrastructure networks and critical services such as electricity, water supply, and health and emergency services… mortality and morbidity during periods of extreme heat, particularly for vulnerable urban populations… food insecurity and breakdown of food systems… loss of rural livelihoods…”

The very people Exxon plans to lift out of poverty are in fact at the highest risk of becoming climate refugees. Two very different visions of the future that need to be reconciled.

…(read more).

And view: Putting the Freeze on Global Warming | Moyers & Company

Global Climate Change
Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics

Putting the Freeze on Global Warming | Moyers & Company

[vimeo 92896711 width=500 height=281]

April 25, 2014

The Archbishop of South Africa, Desmond Tutu, has called for an international “anti-apartheid-style boycott” against the fossil fuel industry in response to global warming. “People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate wrote in an essay earlier this month. Tutu’s call to action also urges a strategy of divestment, the selling off of stocks and other investments in the name of an urgent cause.

This week, Bill talks with two leaders who helped inspire the new fossil fuel divestment movement that Tutu is encouraging. Ellen Dorsey is executive director of the Wallace Global Fund and a catalyst in the coalition of 17 foundations known as Divest-Invest Philanthropy. Thomas Van Dyck is Senior Vice President – Financial Advisor at RBC Wealth Management, and founder of As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy foundation.

They are urging foundations, faith groups, pension funds, municipalities and universities to sell their shares in polluting industries and reinvest in companies committed to climate change solutions.

“The climate crisis is so urgent that if you own fossil fuels, you own climate change,” Dorsey tells Moyers. Van Dyck adds that reinvestment is needed to create “a sustainable economy that’s based on the energy of the future, not on the energy of the past.”

Producer: Candace White. Segment Producer: Robert Booth. Editor: Donna Marino.





And see: The IPCC and ExxonMobil Have Very Different Thoughts About Our Future

Global Climate Change
Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics

China says more than half of its groundwater is polluted


Number of groundwater sites of poor or extremely poor quality increases to 59.6%, Chinese government says

A pipe discharges factory waste water from the Shenhua coal-to-liquid project into a stream in the hills in Ordos in the inner Mongolia. Photograph: Qiu Bo/Greenpeace

Nearly 60% of China’s underground water is polluted, state media has reported, underscoring the severity of the country’s environmental woes.

The country’s land and resources ministry found that among 4,778 testing spots in 203 cities, 44% had “relatively poor” underground water quality; the groundwater in another 15.7% tested as “very poor”.

Water quality improved year-on-year at 647 spots, and worsened in 754 spots, the ministry said.

“According to China’s underground water standards, water of relatively poor quality can only be used for drinking after proper treatment. Water of very poor quality cannot be used as source of drinking water,” said an article in the official newswire Xinhua, which reported the figures on Tuesday.

The Chinese government is only now beginning to address the noxious environmental effects of its long-held growth-at-all-costs development model. While authorities have become more transparent about air quality data within the past year, information about water and soil pollution in many places remains relatively well-guarded.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics

The Citizen-Scientist: Credible Scientific Alternatives to the Corporate Narratives


Global Climate Change
Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics

Harvard President Drew Faust Is Still Wrong on Climate Change | The Nation | Divest Harvard

Chloe Maxmin, Canyon Woodward and StudentNation
on April 24, 2014 – 2:37 PM ET


Students at Harvard University have been calling on President Faust to Divest from fossil fuels for months. (Flickr/Kelly Delay)

As MLK once said: “In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.”

On April 7, Harvard President Drew Faust released a statement on climate change and Harvard’s investment strategy. This news came after months of pressure from students, faculty and alumni who were disturbed by her initial rejection of demands for fossil fuel divestment. The demands were first raised in October 2013 by a new student group, Divest Harvard, which was part of a growing national campaign. Faust’s announcement—which introduces Harvard’s creation of a Climate Change Solutions Fund and commitment to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and Carbon Disclosure Project—finally acknowledges Harvard’s responsibility for its investments. However, as members of Divest Harvard, we are deeply disappointed with the university’s continued failure to address the urgency of climate change.

A recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change lays out the sobering reality of the climate crisis. By 2100, much of our planet will be uninhabitable if civilization continues on the business-as-usual trajectory. Forget grandchildren, and who knows what kinds of catastrophes we will live through. This is the future we currently face without radical action. We must actively fight for the world we wish to inherit because the stakes are too high to tolerate inaction any longer.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics

Climate change and the food security dimension – Opinion

A new report emphasises that climate change will affect us all, and fundamental changes are needed to avoid the worst.
Last updated: 25 Apr 2014 05:18

The world’s most authoritative body on climate change science recently published a report emphasising that climate change is happening even faster, and with more damaging effects, than previously anticipated.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report made clear that climate change will be harmful for all of us – and not only for a few remote island states or polar bears – by affecting the world’s food supply.

Although the Panel has a deserved reputation for being a conservative and careful intergovernmental body, it declared its concern in this report using bold language. Even though the report repeated many of the findings of its Fourth Assessment Report published in 2007, some commentators nevertheless called its conclusions “alarmist”.

The report has sparked a discussion as to whether such alarming assessments are useful to spur people and governments to action.

Similarly, a new nine-part documentary series on American Showtime TV, “Years of Living Dangerously”, is attracting lots of attention – akin to the reaction to Al Gore’s 2006 movie “An Inconvenient Truth”, which introduced the general public to the threats associated with climate change.

….(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environmental Justice
Environment Ethics