Daily Archives: November 27, 2018

Sydney storms: Hundreds call for help amid flash-flooding – BBC News

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-46366961

More than 500 Australians have called for emergency assistance after storms lashed Sydney and nearby regions, causing floods, power cuts and flight delays.

Sydney had its average monthly rainfall within just two hours on Wednesday, according to meteorologists.

Authorities said at least 11 people had been rescued from vehicles trapped in floods. One man died in a car accident.

Images posted online showed flooded roads, houses and train stations.

…(read more).

Expert says gene editing has ‘ethical problems’ – YouTube

Resilience: Building a world of resilient communities

About Resilience

What is Resilience? | Building Community Resilience | What Information Can You Find Here? | Who Are We? | Editorial Policy | Learn More

Resilience.org aims to support building community resilience in a world of multiple emerging challenges: the decline of cheap energy, the depletion of critical resources like water, complex environmental crises like climate change and biodiversity loss, and the social and economic issues which are linked to these. We like to think of the site as a community library with space to read and think, but also as a vibrant café in which to meet people, discuss ideas and projects, and pick up and share tips on how to build the resilience of your community, your household, or yourself.

What is Resilience?

Resilience is a rich and complex concept. It has roots in systems theory, and it has a variety of interpretations and applications including for ecosystems management, disaster preparedness, and even community planning. Our interpretation is based on the work of the Resilience Alliance, the leading scholarly body working on the resilience of social-ecological systems. In that field, resilience is commonly defined as the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and re-organize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks.

Building Community Resilience

The interconnected environmental, energy, economic, and equity crises of the 21st century are posing complex and often-unpredictable challenges to communities around the world. But conventional forms of urban planning, design, and governance—often centralized, hierarchical, and inflexible—are ill-suited to these new realities. It’s time to go beyond piecemeal urban sustainability efforts and meaningfully equip our communities for the the challenges. It’s time to build our communities’ resilience.

After a Long Boom, An Uncertain Future for Big Dam Projects – Yale E360

The rise of wind and solar power, coupled with the increasing social, environmental and financial costs of hydropower projects, could spell the end of an era of big dams. But even anti-dam activists say it’s too early to declare the demise of large-scale hydro.

By Jacques Leslie • November 27, 2018

The last few years have been turbulent for the global dam industry.

In July, flooding caused a dam under construction in Laos to collapse, releasing an inland tsunami that drowned hundreds of people — estimates of the number killed start at 200 and go up by multiples of that. The torrent devastated the homes and farmland of about 6,600 people, most of who now live in tents.

In April, landslides at the Ituango Dam, near completion in Colombia, clogged a tunnel used to divert river water from the project. The resulting flooding forced the evacuation of at least 25,000 people and placed the entire $5 billion project in jeopardy.

Two years ago, the United States’ tallest dam, Oroville Dam in northern California, nearly collapsed, prompting the evacuation of 190,000 people. Repairs cost $1.1 billion⁠.

In 2016, unprecedented drought in southern Africa reduced the water level of the world’s biggest reservoir, Lake Kariba, to 12 percent of its capacity⁠, inducing food shortages and extensive power blackouts that hamstrung the economies of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Similarly, reservoir levels at the Hoover Dam — the Colorado River dam that ushered in the modern hydropower era — have been steadily dropping as a result of a prolonged regional drought. Both predicaments have laid bare dams’ vulnerability to climate change.

…(read more).

Noam Chomsky: The Future of Organized Human Life Is At Risk Thanks to GOP’ s Climate Change Denial


Published on Nov 22, 2018
Democracy Now!

https://democracynow.org – As the death toll from the climate change-fueled Camp Fire in California continue to rise, and hundreds remain missing, we return to our conversation with world-renowned political dissident, linguist and author Noam Chomsky from October. He says, “We have to make decisions now which will literally determine whether organized human life can survive in any decent form.”

How a Climate Change-Fueled Drought & U.S.-Fed Violence Are Driving Thousands from Central America

Published on Nov 27, 2018
Democracy Now!

https://democracynow.org – President Trump is urging Mexico to deport the thousands of Central American migrants who are at or approaching the U.S. border in an attempt to seek asylum, days after U.S. border authorities fired tear gas into a crowd of asylum seekers as some tried to push their way through the heavily militarized border near San Diego. Trump tweeted, “Mexico should move the flag waving Migrants, many of whom are stone cold criminals, back to their countries. Do it by plane, do it by bus, do it anyway you want, but they are NOT coming into the U.S.A. We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!” This comes just days before Andrés Manuel López Obrador is sworn in as Mexico’s new president. López Obrador’s incoming government has denied it made any deal with the Trump administration to force asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their U.S. asylum claims are processed. We speak with John Carlos Frey, Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter and PBS NewsHour special correspondent. He recently returned from reporting trips in Guatemala, Mexico City and Tijuana, where he was documenting the migrant caravan.

The Moral Stain on Harvard’s Endowment

By Jacob A. Fortinsky

Jacob A. Fortinsky ’21, a Crimson Editorial editor, is a Social Studies concentrator in Winthrop House.

10 hours ago

Two weeks ago, the Harvard College undergraduate body voted overwhelmingly in favor of two referenda urging the University to divest its endowment from holdings in the fossil fuel industry and the “prison-industrial complex.” These two industries are among the most heinous imaginable, benefiting from the burning of fuels that severely exacerbate the warming of our climate and excessive incarceration, respectively. Harvard should sever all ties from these industries and should follow the voices of its students.

Fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas are by far the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and in the world. Aside from possibly deforestation, there is nothing humans have ever done that comes close to fossil fuels in the massive harm wreaked on our planet. Though recycling and buying local produce are important, climate change cannot be stopped by consumers. It can only be stopped by targeting and punishing those directly responsible for it. The burden ought to fall on the unethical corporations that have benefited from destroying our climate.

Similarly, the prison-industrial complex profits from and contributes to one of the most odious problems in our country, and it ought to be vigorously opposed. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the number of incarcerated people has increased by around 600 percent to 2.3 million since 1970 and, according to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice, there is no evidence of a correlation between crime rates and incarceration rates. The criminal justice system at almost every level — policing, pretrial detaining, plea bargaining, convicting, sentencing, and releasing — disproportionately impacts blacks and Latinos. Incarcerated people often work in conditions reminiscent of slavery, such as when inmates recently worked as firefighters in the recent California wildfires. For these reasons and many more, activists have begun to call the American criminal justice system “modern-day slavery,” a form of racial and socioeconomic caste system, and “the new Jim Crow.”

History will not look favorably upon those who benefited from mass incarceration and climate change. By maintaining its investments in these industries, Harvard is undoubtedly placing itself on the wrong side of history. Unfortunately, there is little that any of us as individuals can do to stop these two colossal injustices. That is why radical, systemic change is necessary. And that is why Harvard should take the lead — economically as well as academically and politically — in fighting for a more just world.

Critics, such as The Harvard Crimson Editorial Board, upon which I sit, argue that if the Harvard Management Corporation were to adopt divestment policies, it would effect little financial change and have “no ability to effect social change.” This line of thinking is severely misguided for several reasons.

Even if it were true that the divestment of select investments from a $39.2 billion endowment does not exert serious financial pressure on the affected industries, which is indiscernible until implemented, the symbolic value of Harvard taking a stand against the private prison and fossil fuel industries cannot be understated. If Harvard were to publicly condemn, and divest from, these industries, many institutions would surely follow. It would also send an unequivocal message that Harvard “walks the walk” when it comes to protecting our planet and justice for all.

Yet, even if it were true that Harvard’s potential divestment would not affect any change, either symbolic or financial, which I do not believe is the case, Harvard nonetheless ought to divest from these industries. Entanglement with fossil fuel and the prison-industrial complex taints Harvard’s moral character and such entanglement is wrong in itself.

It is flawed to judge the morality of an action simply by its consequences. For example, it would be wrong for Harvard to donate money to the National Rifle Association, even if such a donation did not lead to any legislation or an increase in gun deaths. Likewise, it is fallacious to analyze Harvard’s holdings in fossil fuel or private prison corporations strictly in terms of their impact.

There has been great opposition to Harvard accepting donations from unethical people, institutions, and countries. I greatly sympathize with these concerns. These donations are worrisome not just because they tarnish Harvard’s research and reputation but because accepting this money is intrinsically dubious.

Yet the issue of investing in immoral industries certainly ought to be just as problematic as accepting money. If Harvard would not accept money from the fossil fuel and prison industries, then why should it essentially be giving them money? Surely, supporting immoral industries is worse than being supported by them.

The endowment is not a wholly separate entity, but rather an integral component to Harvard’s mission. Harvard should strive to be a moral institution that cares for our planet and our fellow human beings. Doing so requires the complete and immediate divestment of its endowment from the fossil fuel industry and the prison-industrial complex. Harvard’s integrity is at stake.

Jacob A. Fortinsky ’21, a Crimson Editorial editor, is a Social Studies concentrator Winthrop House.

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