Daily Archives: January 19, 2015

A Poverty of Reason: Sustainable Development and Economic Growth

In this detailed economic investigation of sustainable development, a noted professor of economics argues that many of the alarms commonly sounded by environmentalists are, in fact, unfounded, and that current sustainable development policies should be reconsidered in light of their effects on the earth’s human population, such as increased poverty and environmental degradation in developing countries. In a rare balanced counterpoint to popular sustainable development rhetoric, Professor Beckerman forces policy makers to consider whether future generations have rights that morally constrain and trump the claims of those alive today, particularly the masses of people living in dire poverty, arguing that the current sustainable development program is a menace to the prosperity and freedom of both current and future generations.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Marine defaunation: Animal loss in the global ocean

BACKGROUND

Comparing patterns of terrestrial and marine defaunation helps to place human impacts on marine fauna in context and to navigate toward recovery. Defauna­tion began in earnest tens of thousands of years later in the oceans than it did on land. Although defaunation has been less severe in the oceans than on land, our effects on marine animals are increasing in pace and impact. Humans have caused few complete extinctions in the sea, but we are responsible for many ecological, commercial, and local extinctions. Despite our late start, humans have already powerfully changed virtually all major marine ecosystems.

ADVANCES

Humans have profoundly decreased the abundance of both large (e.g., whales) and small (e.g., anchovies) marine fauna. Such declines can generate waves of ecological change that travel both up and down ma­rine food webs and can alter ocean ecosystem functioning. Human harvesters have also been a major force of evolutionary change in the oceans and have reshaped the genetic structure of marine animal populations. Climate change threatens to accelerate marine defaunation over the next century. The high mobility of many marine animals offers some increased, though limited, capacity for marine species to respond to climate stress, but it also exposes many species to increased risk from other stressors. Because humans are intensely reliant on ocean ecosystems for food and other ecosystem services, we are deeply affected by all of these forecasted changes.

Three lessons emerge when comparing the marine and terrestrial defaunation experiences: (i) today’s low rates of marine extinction may be the prelude to a major extinction pulse, similar to that observed on land during the industrial revolution, as the footprint of human ocean use widens; (ii) effectively slowing ocean defaunation requires both protected areas and careful management of the intervening ocean matrix; and (iii) the terrestrial experience and current trends in ocean use suggest that habitat destruction is likely to become an increasingly dominant threat to ocean wildlife over the next 150 years.

OUTLOOK

Wildlife populations in the oceans have been badly damaged by human activity. Nevertheless, marine fauna generally are in better condition than terrestrial fauna: Fewer marine animal extinctions have occurred; many geographic ranges have shrunk less; and numerous ocean ecosystems remain more wild than terrestrial ecosystems. Consequently, meaningful rehabilitation of affected marine animal populations remains within the reach of managers. Human dependency on marine wildlife and the linked fate of marine and terrestrial fauna necessitate that we act quickly to slow the advance of marine defaunation.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Protesters Rally Across U.S. Against GOP Push on Keystone XL


Rallies have been held across the United States to oppose a new Republican push for the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to vote for Keystone’s construction this week following House passage on Friday. On Tuesday, activists gathered in cities across the country to urge President Obama to follow through on his threat to veto the Republican bill and to reject the pipeline for good

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Study on World’s Oceans Warns We May Be on a Precipice of a Major Extinction Event


A major new scientific study has concluded humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them. The ecologist Douglas McCauley, who wrote the study, said, “We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event.” The report said coral reefs have declined by 40 percent worldwide, and carbon emissions are altering the chemistry of seawater, making it more acidic. The study appears in the new issue of Science.

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Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

PODCAST: The World Economic Forum

PODCAST: The World Economic Forum

by David Brancaccio Monday, January 19, 2015 – 06:00

It’s the time of year when our January mood is lifted by the notion that other people are having a nice conference near the ski slopes in Switzerland. The annual world economic forum is convening in Davos at a time that the U.S. has been resurgent when other key economies are losing steam. Plus, a conversation with one of America’s top entrepreneurs on the challenges that face female CEOs. And later this year, the US and the UK are set to conduct cyber war games with each other. It’ll test the hardiness of the financial sector. More on that.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

Pope Francis Plea for Climate Action Revives Concept of “The Commons” to Rethink Economy & Society


democracynow

Published on Jan 16, 2015

http://democracynow.org – We continue our coverage of Pope Francis’s visit to the Philippines, the country most impacted by global warming, ahead of his plans to issue the first-ever comprehensive Vatican teachings on climate change. The pope recently said the warming planet is “frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity.” We are joined by Nathan Schneider, a columnist at America magazine, a national Catholic weekly magazine published by the Jesuits, where he has been covering Catholic engagement with climate change. “This is a different way of thinking about economics that is a part of Catholic tradition,” Schneider says. “Pope Francis talking about the environment, about creation, is not an innovation; it is a response to a contemporary crisis. But it goes way back, to the scriptures, to Genesis.” Schneider’s recent article is “A Global Catholic Climate Movement, None Too Soon.” He is also an editor at Waging Nonviolence and the author of “Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse.”

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice

“Man Has Slapped Nature in the Face”: Pope Francis Urges Climate Action in Philippines Visit


democracynow

Published on Jan 16, 2015

http://democracynow.org – Just weeks after Pope Francis announced he would urge 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide to take action on climate change, he is visiting the Philippines and meeting with survivors of several typhoons that devastated the country. The Philippines is Asia’s largest Catholic nation, and 80 percent of its 100 million residents are Catholic. On Saturday, the pope heads to Tacloban to have lunch with survivors of Typhoon Haiyan — known as “Typhoon Yolanda” in the Philippines. We go to Manila to speak with Naderev “Yeb” Saño, the country’s climate change commissioner. Until recently he was the country’s lead climate negotiator at the United Nations climate conferences, where he drew links between climate change and the deadly typhoons the country has faced. He is leading a group of eco-volunteer bikers for the papal convoy — they are monitoring the papal route’s cleanliness and ensuring the implementation of the church’s zero-waste policy.

Global Climate Change
Environment Ethics
Environment Justice