“We’re Alarmed”: Chunks missing from bodies of salmon from Pacific — Lesions in over 50% of fish being reported

September 1, 2014

ENENews


“We’re Alarmed”: Chunks missing from bodies of salmon from Pacific — Lesions in over 50% of fish being reported — Experts: “Looks like traumatic insult… followed by bacterial invasions”; Investigating for pathogens — Wounds this significant must impact ability to survive (PHOTO)

Posted: 31 Aug 2014 01:18 PM PDT

California Bans Plastic Bags

September 1, 2014

STEFANIE PENN SPEAR
ECOWATCH / NEWS REPORT
Published: Sunday 31 August 2014
Starting in July of 2015, consumers shopping at grocery stores or pharmacies, in California, will pay a fee if using recycled paper, reusable plastic and compostable bags. A year later convenience stores will also ban plastic bags. It is nice to see a bill pass that is positive for the environment.

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The California Senate voted 22-15 late last night to pass a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. The bill, SB 270, will phase out single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and pharmacies beginning July 2015, and in convenience stores one year later, and create a mandatory minimum ten-cent fee for recycled paper, reusable plastic and compostable bags.

The bill, which passed both houses of the California State Legislature now heads to the Governor’s desk. If signed, California will become the first state in the U.S. to ban what advocates call “the most ubiquitous consumer item on the planet.”

Senators Alex Padilla, Kevin de León and Ricardo Lara authored the measure that will implement a ban while promoting recycling and California manufacturing, and provides financial incentives to maintain and retrain California employees in affected industries.

“In crafting this compromise, it was imperative to me that we achieve the goals of doing away with single-use plastic bags, help change consumer behavior, and importantly, support and expand California jobs,” said Senate President pro Tempore-elect Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). “SB 270 is a win-win for the environment and for California workers.”Senate Bill 270 will:
◦    Increase the use of recycled content for reusable plastic bags to promote recycling and California manufacturing.  In 2016, bags will be required to have

20 percent recycled content and in 2020 be made of 40 percentrecycled content.
◦    Support recycling of agriculture plastic film which is currently sent to landfills.
◦    Require large grocery store chains to take back used bags for continued recycling.
◦    Require third party certification of reusable plastic bags to ensure compliance with bag standards which support California manufacturing.
◦    Grandfathers existing local ordinances related to grocery bags.
More than 120 California local governments have already banned single-use plastic bags with more than 1 in 3 Californians already living somewhere with a plastic bag ban in place, in an effort to drive consumers towards sustainable behavior change.

The Clean Seas Coalition, a growing group of environmentalists, scientists, California lawmakers, students and community leaders has worked since 2008 to reduce sources of plastic pollution, and help pass this legislation.

“Data from the over 121 local plastic bag bans, like Los Angeles City, Los Angeles County, San Jose and San Mateo has proven that bans are effective at reducing litter and changing consumer attitudes, and have refuted industry’s claims of apocalyptic impacts on jobs and poor communities,” said Leslie Tamminen, director Seventh Generation Advisors and facilitator for the Clean Seas Coalition. “A state plastic bag ban saves taxpayers huge amounts of money spent on litter cleanup, and protects the environment.”

Plastic bags create a direct threat to wildlife, like the Pacific leatherback sea turtles, that mistake the bags for food. A study of more than 370 leatherback sea turtle autopsies found that one in three had plastic in their stomach, most often a plastic bag. Plastic bags are also one of the most common items littered on California’s beaches according to Ocean Conservancy’s annual beach cleanup data, according to Ocean Conservancy.

“This important step forward shows that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health,” said Nathan Weaver, oceans advocate with Environment California. “Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years. I congratulate Senators Padilla, de León, and Lara for their victory today, and I thank them for their leadership to protect our environment.”

“The experience of over 120 cities shows that this policy works,” concluded Weaver. “I urge Governor Brown to sign SB 270 into law.”

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ABOUT STEFANIE PENN SPEAR

 

Stefanie Penn Spear is the founder, executive director, and editor of EcoWatch. She has been publishing environmental news for more than two decades. Spear works to unite the voice of the grassroots environmental movement and mobilize millions of people to engage in democracy to protect human health and the environment. She seeks to motivate individuals to become engaged in their community, adopt sustainable practices, and support strong environmental policy.

Joseph Gerson: “Abuses and usurpations” are worse in Okinawa

September 1, 2014

    Peace Philosophy Centre

ジョセフ・ガーソン:「沖縄軍事植民地化は米国の独立宣言の精神にもとる」

Posted: 30 Aug 2014 10:35 PM PDT

Following Peter Kuznick, Noam Chomsky and Gavan McCormack, here is Joseph Gerson’s comment on the latest poll results in Okinawa and on his recent visit to the island. They were all signatories of the January 2014 international statement to oppose the construction of the new US military base in Henoko and to call for immediate closure of Futenma Air Station. ピーター・カズニックノーム・チョムスキーガバン・マコーマックに続き、ジョセフ・ガーソン(アメリカン・フレンズ奉仕委員会)による最新の沖縄世論調査および先日の沖縄訪問についてのコメントを紹介する。4人とも、1月の世界の識者・文化人らによる辺野古基地反対と普天間基地閉鎖を求める声明のメンバーである。

★転載の際は本投稿のURLを明記してください。

Joseph Gerson speaking at the student symposium at the Okinawa International University August 12, 2014.
8月12日、沖縄国際大学での学生シンポジウムで。左からジョセフ・ガーソン、ピーター・カズニック、乗松聡子。
Photo: New Wave to Hope

There is a saying that originated in Latin American struggles for freedom and democracy: “A people united will never be defeated.” The recent poll indicating that 80.2% of Okinawans want work on the Henoko base construction cancelled, that 81.5% oppose Prime Minister Abe’s seabed boring operation, and that 79.7 percent of Okinawans do not want the Futemna base relocated within Okinawa demonstrates  remarkable unity.  ラテンアメリカの自由と民主主義への闘いに起源をもつ言い習わしがある-「団結した民衆は決して負けることはない」。最近の世論調査で、80.2%が辺野古基地建設工事の中止を願い、81.5%が海底ボーリング調査を行う安倍首相に反対し、79.7%が普天間基地の県内移設に反対しているということは目覚ましい団結を示している。

If it can be maintained in the coming Nago City Council and the gubernatorial elections, Oura Bay and Nago will remain free from massive reclamation, and powerful pressure will be added to implementing the promise of removing Futenma.もしこれが来る名護市議選や県知事選を通して維持されたら、大浦湾や名護は大規模な埋め立てをされずに済み、普天間基地撤去の約束の実行に向けて強い圧力が加えられるであろう。

During my recent return to Okinawa, in university and community settings,  I was deeply impressed by the depth of Okinawans’ nonviolent commitment to resist the construction of the Henoko base, to close Futenma – “the world’s most dangerous air base,”  and to move toward real security and the end of military colonization. I understood in new ways how that resistance is rooted in centuries of Okinawan history and culture and to the land and the environment. 最近再び沖縄を訪れ大学と地域における催しに加わったが、辺野古基地建設への抵抗、「世界で最も危険な基地」普天間基地の閉鎖、真の意味での安全保障と軍事植民地状態の終焉に向けての沖縄の人々による非暴力のコミットメントの深さに非常に感銘を受けた。また、この抵抗は沖縄の何世紀にわたる歴史と文化、土地と環境に根差すものだということを新たな視点で学んだ。

Before he took our August 12 meeting off the record, U.S. Consul General Magleby shocked those of us who met with him by saying that people who oppose Washington’s and Tokyo’s “narrative” – which insists that due to its geostrategic importance Okinawans must bear the greatest burden of military colonization – “are not rational.”  Rational people, he implied, would accept the massive U.S. military presence across Okinawa and its destructive impacts, and would work with Washington and Tokyo to make minor adjustments that are acceptable to those in our imperial capitals. 米国総領事のマグルビー氏は、8月12日の会合で彼が「オフレコだ」と言う前に、ワシントンと東京の「ナラティブ(語り口)」、すなわち、沖縄の戦略地政学上の重要性により沖縄が軍事植民地化の最大の負担をしなければいけないという語り口に反対する人々は「理性に欠ける」と言って面会した我々[訳者注:ジョセフ・ガーソン、ピーター・カズニック、乗松聡子の3人]にショックを与えた。彼が暗示したのは、理性のある人々というのは、沖縄じゅうに大規模な米軍の存在とそれがもたらす破壊的影響を受け入れ、ワシントンと東京の政府と協力してこれら帝国の中央政府にとって受容可能な微調整をするような人々を指すのである。

Later Mr. Magleby added that despite the fact that the law gives Nago’s mayor the right to refuse authorization of permits needed for base construction, “there are certain things a nations must do.”  As evidenced by their consistent disregard for the clear commitments of Japan’s peace constitution, the U.S. and Japanese governments are willing to operate outside the law – an essential pillar of democracy – to reinforce the power and privilege of their elites.そしてマグルビーはこう付け加えた-名護市長には基地建設のための許可を下ろすことを拒否できる法的権限がありながらも、「国家として行わなければいけないことはある」と。米国と日本の政府は、日本国の平和憲法が定める明確な義務を一貫して軽視してきたことからも明らかなように、エリートたちの権力と特権を強化するためなら民主主義の支柱である法というものを進んで度外視して物事を進めるのだ。

Who is being irrational?  I’ve yet to hear anyone assert that the authors of the U.S. Declaration of Independence were “not rational.”   Yet, among the reasons that necessitated the creation of the new American nation and the beginning of the anti-colonial era which were articulated by the authors of the Declaration, was that Britain’s King George III “kept among us in times of peace” “Standing Armies” which committed intolerable “abuses and usurpations.”   Yet, the “abuses and usurpations” inflicted on Okinawans for seven decades by the government that speaks in my name and by Tokyo are more numerous and worse than those of King George III: deadly military accidents, crime, sexual harassment, loss of sovereignty, terrifying noise from low altitude and night landing exercises, environmental degradation,  and  increased likelihood of war – even nuclear war.  Are we to believe that people who want to live and prosper in peace, quiet and real security are irrational? 理性に欠けているのは一体どちらか。私はいまだかつて米国独立宣言の起草者たちが「理性に欠ける」などと言われているのは聞いたことがない。しかし反植民地時代の初頭、独立宣言の起草者たちが述べた新アメリカ国を建国する必要性が生じた理由の中には、英国王ののジョージ三世が「平時においてもこの地に常備軍を駐留させ」、その常備軍が許容しがたい「権力の濫用と権利の侵害」を犯しているということがあったのである。しかし、70年にわたり私の国の政府と日本政府が沖縄の人々に負わせている「権力の濫用と権利の侵害」はジョージ三世のそれよりも多数で質も悪い-死をともなう軍関連の事故、犯罪、性犯罪、主権喪失、低空飛行による恐るべき騒音、環境劣化、そして戦争の可能性の増加-核戦争でさえも。平和で静かな、真に安全な生活をおくり豊かに暮らしたいと思う人々を「理性に欠けている」などと思えというのか?

Those of us who initiated and signed the January statement in response to Governor Naikaima’s betrayal, and who joined in opposing the Henoko and Futenma bases will continue to do all that we can in solidarity with the overwhelming majority of the Okinawan people.仲井眞知事の裏切りを受けてさる1月の声明を立ち上げ署名し、辺野古も普天間も基地は要らないという運動に加わった我々は、沖縄の圧倒的多数の人々と連帯しできることは全て行い続けていく。

Freedom and peace are indivisible. Democracy, rationality, and the rule of law must be honored with the full force of our lives. And, it is encouraging to know that Okinawans are far more united than were the first U.S. Americans.自由と平和は切っても切り離せない。民主主義、理性、そして法の支配は我々が全力で守らなければいけないものである。そして独立当時のアメリカ合衆国の人々よりも沖縄の人々の方がはるかに団結していることを知るのは元気づけられることである。

Joseph Gerson ジョセフ・ガーソン

参考記事:

米総領事「沖縄と対話できぬ」名護に協力求める
http://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/article.php?id=79858
米総領事「対話できぬ」 県、名護に国防協力要求
http://ryukyushimpo.jp/news/storyid-230081-storytopic-53.html
「沖縄は国に従え」 米総領事、他にも強弁
http://ryukyushimpo.jp/news/storyid-230126-storytopic-3.html

http://english.ryukyushimpo.jp/2014/08/26/15018/

    Peace Philosophy Centre ジョセフ・ガーソン:「沖縄軍事植民地化は米国の独立宣言の精神にもとる」Joseph Gerson: “Abuses and usurpations” are worse in Okinawa Posted: 30 Aug 2014 10:35 PM PDT Following Peter Kuznick, Noam Chomsky and Gavan McCormack, here is Joseph Gerson’s comment on the latest poll results in Okinawa and on his recent visit to the island. They were all signatories of the January 2014 international statement to oppose the construction of the new US military base in Henoko and to call for immediate closure of Futenma Air Station. ピーター・カズニック、ノーム・チョムスキー、ガバン・マコーマックに続き、ジョセフ・ガーソン(アメリカン・フレンズ奉仕委員会)による最新の沖縄世論調査および先日の沖縄訪問についてのコメントを紹介する。4人とも、1月の世界の識者・文化人らによる辺野古基地反対と普天間基地閉鎖を求める声明のメンバーである。 ★転載の際は本投稿のURLを明記してください。 Joseph Gerson speaking at the student symposium at the Okinawa International University August 12, 2014. 8月12日、沖縄国際大学での学生シンポジウムで。左からジョセフ・ガーソン、ピーター・カズニック、乗松聡子。 Photo: New Wave to Hope There is a saying that originated in Latin American struggles for freedom and democracy: “A people united will never be defeated.” The recent poll indicating that 80.2% of Okinawans want work on the Henoko base construction cancelled, that 81.5% oppose Prime Minister Abe’s seabed boring operation, and that 79.7 percent of Okinawans do not want the Futemna base relocated within Okinawa demonstrates remarkable unity. ラテンアメリカの自由と民主主義への闘いに起源をもつ言い習わしがある-「団結した民衆は決して負けることはない」。最近の世論調査で、80.2%が辺野古基地建設工事の中止を願い、81.5%が海底ボーリング調査を行う安倍首相に反対し、79.7%が普天間基地の県内移設に反対しているということは目覚ましい団結を示している。 If it can be maintained in the coming Nago City Council and the gubernatorial elections, Oura Bay and Nago will remain free from massive reclamation, and powerful pressure will be added to implementing the promise of removing Futenma.もしこれが来る名護市議選や県知事選を通して維持されたら、大浦湾や名護は大規模な埋め立てをされずに済み、普天間基地撤去の約束の実行に向けて強い圧力が加えられるであろう。 During my recent return to Okinawa, in university and community settings, I was deeply impressed by the depth of Okinawans’ nonviolent commitment to resist the construction of the Henoko base, to close Futenma – “the world’s most dangerous air base,” and to move toward real security and the end of military colonization. I understood in new ways how that resistance is rooted in centuries of Okinawan history and culture and to the land and the environment. 最近再び沖縄を訪れ大学と地域における催しに加わったが、辺野古基地建設への抵抗、「世界で最も危険な基地」普天間基地の閉鎖、真の意味での安全保障と軍事植民地状態の終焉に向けての沖縄の人々による非暴力のコミットメントの深さに非常に感銘を受けた。また、この抵抗は沖縄の何世紀にわたる歴史と文化、土地と環境に根差すものだということを新たな視点で学んだ。 Before he took our August 12 meeting off the record, U.S. Consul General Magleby shocked those of us who met with him by saying that people who oppose Washington’s and Tokyo’s “narrative” – which insists that due to its geostrategic importance Okinawans must bear the greatest burden of military colonization – “are not rational.” Rational people, he implied, would accept the massive U.S. military presence across Okinawa and its destructive impacts, and would work with Washington and Tokyo to make minor adjustments that are acceptable to those in our imperial capitals. 米国総領事のマグルビー氏は、8月12日の会合で彼が「オフレコだ」と言う前に、ワシントンと東京の「ナラティブ(語り口)」、すなわち、沖縄の戦略地政学上の重要性により沖縄が軍事植民地化の最大の負担をしなければいけないという語り口に反対する人々は「理性に欠ける」と言って面会した我々[訳者注:ジョセフ・ガーソン、ピーター・カズニック、乗松聡子の3人]にショックを与えた。彼が暗示したのは、理性のある人々というのは、沖縄じゅうに大規模な米軍の存在とそれがもたらす破壊的影響を受け入れ、ワシントンと東京の政府と協力してこれら帝国の中央政府にとって受容可能な微調整をするような人々を指すのである。 Later Mr. Magleby added that despite the fact that the law gives Nago’s mayor the right to refuse authorization of permits needed for base construction, “there are certain things a nations must do.” As evidenced by their consistent disregard for the clear commitments of Japan’s peace constitution, the U.S. and Japanese governments are willing to operate outside the law – an essential pillar of democracy – to reinforce the power and privilege of their elites.そしてマグルビーはこう付け加えた-名護市長には基地建設のための許可を下ろすことを拒否できる法的権限がありながらも、「国家として行わなければいけないことはある」と。米国と日本の政府は、日本国の平和憲法が定める明確な義務を一貫して軽視してきたことからも明らかなように、エリートたちの権力と特権を強化するためなら民主主義の支柱である法というものを進んで度外視して物事を進めるのだ。 Who is being irrational? I’ve yet to hear anyone assert that the authors of the U.S. Declaration of Independence were “not rational.” Yet, among the reasons that necessitated the creation of the new American nation and the beginning of the anti-colonial era which were articulated by the authors of the Declaration, was that Britain’s King George III “kept among us in times of peace” “Standing Armies” which committed intolerable “abuses and usurpations.” Yet, the “abuses and usurpations” inflicted on Okinawans for seven decades by the government that speaks in my name and by Tokyo are more numerous and worse than those of King George III: deadly military accidents, crime, sexual harassment, loss of sovereignty, terrifying noise from low altitude and night landing exercises, environmental degradation, and increased likelihood of war – even nuclear war. Are we to believe that people who want to live and prosper in peace, quiet and real security are irrational? 理性に欠けているのは一体どちらか。私はいまだかつて米国独立宣言の起草者たちが「理性に欠ける」などと言われているのは聞いたことがない。しかし反植民地時代の初頭、独立宣言の起草者たちが述べた新アメリカ国を建国する必要性が生じた理由の中には、英国王ののジョージ三世が「平時においてもこの地に常備軍を駐留させ」、その常備軍が許容しがたい「権力の濫用と権利の侵害」を犯しているということがあったのである。しかし、70年にわたり私の国の政府と日本政府が沖縄の人々に負わせている「権力の濫用と権利の侵害」はジョージ三世のそれよりも多数で質も悪い-死をともなう軍関連の事故、犯罪、性犯罪、主権喪失、低空飛行による恐るべき騒音、環境劣化、そして戦争の可能性の増加-核戦争でさえも。平和で静かな、真に安全な生活をおくり豊かに暮らしたいと思う人々を「理性に欠けている」などと思えというのか? Those of us who initiated and signed the January statement in response to Governor Naikaima’s betrayal, and who joined in opposing the Henoko and Futenma bases will continue to do all that we can in solidarity with the overwhelming majority of the Okinawan people.仲井眞知事の裏切りを受けてさる1月の声明を立ち上げ署名し、辺野古も普天間も基地は要らないという運動に加わった我々は、沖縄の圧倒的多数の人々と連帯しできることは全て行い続けていく。 Freedom and peace are indivisible. Democracy, rationality, and the rule of law must be honored with the full force of our lives. And, it is encouraging to know that Okinawans are far more united than were the first U.S. Americans.自由と平和は切っても切り離せない。民主主義、理性、そして法の支配は我々が全力で守らなければいけないものである。そして独立当時のアメリカ合衆国の人々よりも沖縄の人々の方がはるかに団結していることを知るのは元気づけられることである。 Joseph Gerson ジョセフ・ガーソン 参考記事: 米総領事「沖縄と対話できぬ」名護に協力求める http://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/article.php?id=79858 米総領事「対話できぬ」 県、名護に国防協力要求 http://ryukyushimpo.jp/news/storyid-230081-storytopic-53.html 「沖縄は国に従え」 米総領事、他にも強弁 http://ryukyushimpo.jp/news/storyid-230126-storytopic-3.html http://english.ryukyushimpo.jp/2014/08/26/15018/

September 1, 2014

Originally posted on Global Ethics:

    Peace Philosophy Centre

ジョセフ・ガーソン:「沖縄軍事植民地化は米国の独立宣言の精神にもとる」Joseph Gerson: “Abuses and usurpations” are worse in OkinawaPosted: 30 Aug 2014 10:35 PM PDT

Following Peter Kuznick, Noam Chomsky and Gavan McCormack, here is Joseph Gerson’s comment on the latest poll results in Okinawa and on his recent visit to the island. They were all signatories of the January 2014 international statement to oppose the construction of the new US military base in Henoko and to call for immediate closure of Futenma Air Station. ピーター・カズニックノーム・チョムスキーガバン・マコーマックに続き、ジョセフ・ガーソン(アメリカン・フレンズ奉仕委員会)による最新の沖縄世論調査および先日の沖縄訪問についてのコメントを紹介する。4人とも、1月の世界の識者・文化人らによる辺野古基地反対と普天間基地閉鎖を求める声明のメンバーである。

★転載の際は本投稿のURLを明記してください。

Joseph Gerson speaking at the student symposium at the Okinawa International University August 12, 2014.
8月12日、沖縄国際大学での学生シンポジウムで。左からジョセフ・ガーソン、ピーター・カズニック、乗松聡子。
Photo: New Wave to Hope

There is a saying that originated in Latin American struggles for freedom and democracy: “A people united will never be defeated.” The recent poll indicating that 80.2% of Okinawans want work on the Henoko base…

View original 561 more words

A Century of Extinction

August 31, 2014

 (photo: Susannah Sayler/New Yorker)
(photo: Susannah Sayler/New Yorker)

By Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker

31 August 14

 

t’s unusual to be able to date the vanishing of a species. The last time a dodo was seen, on the island of Mauritius, was probably in 1662, but no one knows how long the bird survived, unseen and in low numbers. The last confirmed sighting off a great auk took place on an island off Iceland, in 1844, but it’s likely that stray birds lived on for years, even decades. There have been no confirmed sightings of the ivory-billed woodpecker since 1969, but there are still those who maintain there are ivory-bills out there somewhere.

The extinction of the passenger pigeon is one of those unusual cases, and it happened a hundred years ago this Labor Day weekend. On September 1, 1914, Martha, a passenger pigeon who lived in an aviary at the Cincinnati Zoo, was found dead in her cage. At the time, Marthawas believed to be the sole passenger pigeon left on Earth, and, in the intervening century, no evidence has emerged to contradict this. The passenger pigeon was once the most numerous bird in North America, perhaps in the world; it’s estimated that when the first European settlers arrived, at least one of every four birds on the continent was a passenger pigeon. The early colonists were awed by the vastness of the flocks, which contained hundreds of millions—perhaps billions—of birds. As late as the eighteen-seventies, passenger pigeons still could be seen passing overhead in astonishing, sky-darkening numbers; then, over the course of just four decades, the species, Ectopistes migratorius, dwindled down to Martha and her companion, a male named George. Then it was just Martha. And then there were none.

The passenger pigeon’s demise is usually represented as the result of remorseless slaughter, which it certainly was. But the bird’s story also contains an element of mystery, which in some ways is just as alarming.

Passenger pigeons roosted the way they migrated, in enormous flocks. This made them easy pickings for hunters, and the early English colonists wrote of killing hundreds at a go. Once the railroads were laid, the pigeons could be shipped to big-city markets, and the butchery reached a new level. In his book “A Feathered River Across the Sky” (reviewed in this magazine and in The New York Review of Books in January), the author Joel Greenberg describes one of the last great nesting colonies, which was sighted in northern Michigan, in 1878. Telegraph operators relayed the location of the flock to hunters and trappers hundreds of miles away, and soon so many descended on the area that “hotels and boardinghouses ran out of space.” Within a few days, more than a million birds were dispatched.

By the eighteen-nineties, the only passenger pigeon sightings were of small, ragged flocks. And this is what makes the bird’s extinction difficult to entirely explain. Once the passenger pigeon was no longer abundant, it also was no longer worth hunting, or at least no more worth hunting than any other medium-sized bird. So why didn’t it persist at low densities? In his recent book “Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record,” Errol Fuller, a British author, argues that an “additional factor” must have been at work in the species’ extinction, because “in a land as vast as the United States there can be no mopping-up hunting for a species as small as a pigeon.” (Fuller’s book contains a grainy and not particularly flattering photo of Martha standing in her cage in Cincinnati.)

Some have argued that the “additional factor” was deforestation; by this account, it’s no coincidence that the passenger pigeon went extinct right about the same time that land clearing in the eastern U.S. reached its maximum extent. Others speculate that the passenger pigeon was one of those animals that require great densities to survive. One version of this theory holds that the birds mated only in great swarms; another, that the sheer scale of the flocks had protected the birds from predation.

Whether any of these “additional factors” actually contributed to the bird’s extinction is probably impossible to settle at this point. But whatever happened, the mystery should give us pause. Species that seem today to be doing fine may be sensitive to change in ways that are difficult to foresee. And we are are now changing the planet at a speed that’s probably unprecedented in at least sixty million years.

In honor of the anniversary of Martha’s death, the Smithsonian has put her taxidermied body on exhibit. (It’s usually kept in a vault.) The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, in North Adams, Massachusetts, is showing a video installation that mimics the flight of hundreds of thousands pigeons passing overhead, and next month, the Yale Orchestra will perform “The Columbiad,” a hundred-and-fifty-year-old symphony inspired by the sight of a flock.  (A century and a half ago, passenger pigeons were grouped together with rock pigeons in the genus Columba; they have since been reclassified.) All these efforts to mark the anniversary are double-edged: commemorations composed by the culpable. As the naturalist Aldo Leopold wrote in “On a Monument to the Pigeon,” composed in 1947, “For one species to mourn the death of another is a new thing under the sun. … To love what was is a new thing under the sun, unknown to most people and to all pigeons.”

 

There may be “no food anywhere” along Pacific except in isolated areas — “It’s like crime scene investigation” in ocean — ‘Certainly’ Fukushima is one of stresses to sea life

August 31, 2014

ENENews


TV: “Surge in marine mammal strandings” on US West Coast — Scientists: “This is very weird”; “My biggest fear is if this… is everywhere” along coast — Whales, dolphins, sea lions, birds recently washing up in large numbers — Many thousands likely dead — Violent seizures shown on news (VIDEO)

Posted: 30 Aug 2014 06:43 PM PDT

Experts: Scary problems on California coast — There may be “no food anywhere” along Pacific except in isolated areas — “It’s like crime scene investigation” in ocean — ‘Certainly’ Fukushima is one of stresses to sea life — Dolphins, whales more likely to be bathed in radiation (VIDEO)

Posted: 30 Aug 2014 09:39 AM PDT

Activists hail San Onofre nuclear power plant reactor shutdown

August 31, 2014

Closing of reactors at 40-year-old San Onofre power plant reflects harsh economics facing ageing fleet of US reactors
Fort Calhoun, Nebraska nuclear reactor threatened by flooding of the Missouri River

The Fort Calhoun nuclear reactor in Nebraska was shut down in 2011. Photograph: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

America’s nuclear reactor fleet moved deeper into middle-aged crisis on Friday when operators decide to shut down two reactors at the troubled San Onofre power plant in California.

They were the third and fourth reactors to be permanently retired this year, underlining the harsh economics facing America’s ageing fleet of nuclear reactors, forced to pay for expensive upkeep at a time of increased competition from cheap natural gas and renewable energy.

The two reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (Songs) in southern California had been off-line since January 2012, after the discovery of a radioactive steam leak in one of the units.

Southern California Edison, which runs the plant, had been pushing to re-start one of the reactors on a limited basis.

But there was strong public opposition, and the risk of legal action after the Democratic Senator, Barbara Boxer, last week asked the Justice Department to investigate the plant.

The former nuclear regulator, Greg Jaczko, further set back prospects for a re-start at San Onofre when he told a nuclear safety conference in San Diego that the idea was “not one that instills tremendous confidence in me”.

On Friday morning, the company said it had decided it was uneconomic to try to stay in operation. “We have concluded that the continuing uncertainty about when or if Songs might return to service was not good for our customers, our investors, or the need to plan for our region’s long-term electricity needs,” Ted Craver, the company’s chief executive said in a statement on Friday..

Boxer said she was “greatly relieved” at the decision.”Modifications to the San Onofre nucler plan were unsafe and posed a danger to the eight million people living within 50 miles of the plant,” she said in a statement.

The decision to shut down Units 2 and 3 reduced the number of licenced reactors to an even 100 – the lowest number in two decades.

The plant had been in operation for 40 years. But age caught up to the plants in January 2012 when operators detected a leak inside a steam generator in Unit 3.

The leak was inside a new steam generator, made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which had been installed in 2009.

But nuclear experts said maintenance and upkeep of reactors had become increasingly challenging – especially with heightened safety requirements introduced by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

“Reactors have basically hit their middle-aged crisis. They are through their performance plateau. They are starting to experience ageing issues across the board and maintaining safety is expensive,” said Jim Riccio, a nuclear safety analyst for Greenpeace. “You are having reactors with a lot of ageing problems and the NRC is catching up with problems that hadn’t been fixed for a long time.”

Four nuclear reactors have been shut down so far just this year. In addition to the two reactors at San Onofre, operators permanently retired the Crystal River reactor in Florida in February, after running into significant problems with repairs. The Kewaunee reactor in Washington shut down last month because operators said they could not compete with the prices of natural gas.

A number of other nuclear plants are off-line for repair, such as Fort Calhoun in Nebraska which has been shuttered since April 2011 because of flood risks and other safety problems. Some of those plants, especially those with single reactors, could also be in line for shut-downs by the end of the decade, said David Lochbaum, nuclear safety expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Or as Jaczko the former regulator told the nuclear safety conference earlier this week: “I think it’s time that we need to reconsider prolonging the lifetime of many of these reactors.”

 

American Socrates: “Climate change “may doom us all, and not in the distant future,” Chomsky said. “It may overwhelm everything”

August 31, 2014
Posted on Jun 15, 2014

By Chris Hedges

Noam Chomsky speaks to the media at a friend’s house in Amman, Jordan, in 2010.  AP/Nader Daoud

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—Noam Chomsky, whom I interviewed last Thursday at his office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has influenced intellectuals in the United States and abroad in incalculable ways. His explications of empire, mass propaganda, the hypocrisy and pliability of the liberal class and the failings of academics, as well as the way language is used as a mask by the power elite to prevent us from seeing reality, make him the most important intellectual in the country. The force of his intellect, which is combined with a ferocious independence, terrifies the corporate state—which is why the commercial media and much of the academic establishment treat him as a pariah. He is the Socrates of our time.

We live in a bleak moment in human history. And Chomsky begins from this reality. He quoted the late Ernst Mayr, a leading evolutionary biologist of the 20th century who argued that we probably will never encounter intelligent extraterrestrials because higher life forms render themselves extinct in a relatively short time.

“Mayr argued that the adaptive value of what is called ‘higher intelligence’ is very low,” Chomsky said. “Beetles and bacteria are much more adaptive than humans. We will find out if it is better to be smart than stupid. We may be a biological error, using the 100,000 years which Mayr gives [as] the life expectancy of a species to destroy ourselves and many other life forms on the planet.”

 

Climate change “may doom us all, and not in the distant future,” Chomsky said. “It may overwhelm everything. This is the first time in human history that we have the capacity to destroy the conditions for decent survival. It is already happening. Look at species destruction. It is estimated to be at about the level of 65 million years ago when an asteroid hit the earth, ended the period of the dinosaurs and wiped out a huge number of species. It is the same level today. And we are the asteroid. If anyone could see us from outer space they would be astonished. There are sectors of the global population trying to impede the global catastrophe. There are other sectors trying to accelerate it. Take a look at whom they are. Those who are trying to impede it are the ones we call backward, indigenous populations—the First Nations in Canada, the aboriginals in Australia, the tribal people in India. Who is accelerating it? The most privileged, so-called advanced, educated populations of the world.”If Mayr was right, we are at the tail end of a binge, accelerated by the Industrial Revolution, that is about to drive us over a cliff environmentally and economically. A looming breakdown, in Chomsky’s eyes, offers us opportunity as well as danger. He has warned repeatedly that if we are to adapt and survive we must overthrow the corporate power elite through mass movements and return power to autonomous collectives that are focused on sustaining communities rather than exploiting them. Appealing to the established institutions and mechanisms of power will not work.

“We can draw many very good lessons from the early period of the Industrial Revolution,” he said. “The Industrial Revolution took off right around here in eastern Massachusetts in the mid-19th century. This was a period when independent farmers were being driven into the industrial system. Men and women—women left the farms to be ‘factory girls’—bitterly resented it. This was also a period of a very free press, the freest in the history of the country. There were a wide variety of journals. When you read them they are pretty fascinating. The people driven into the industrial system regarded it as an attack on their personal dignity, on their rights as human beings. They were free human beings being forced into what they called ‘wage labor,’ which they regarded as not very different from chattel slavery. In fact this was such a popular mood it was a slogan of the Republican Party—‘The only difference between working for a wage and being a slave is that working for the wage is supposed to be temporary.’ ”

Chomsky said this shift, which forced agrarian workers off the land into the factories in urban centers, was accompanied by a destruction of culture. Laborers, he said, had once been part of the “high culture of the day.”

“I remember this as late as the 1930s with my own family,” he said. “This was being taken away from us. We were being forced to become something like slaves. They argued that if you were a journeyman, a craftsman, and you sell a product that you produce, then as a wage earner what you are doing is selling yourself. And this was deeply offensive. They condemned what they called ‘the new spirit of the age,’ ‘gaining wealth and forgetting all but self.’ This sounds familiar.”

It is this radical consciousness, which took root in the mid-19th century among farmers and many factory workers, that Chomsky says we must recover if we are to move forward as a society and a civilization. In the late 19th century farmers, especially in the Midwest, freed themselves from the bankers and capital markets by forming their own banks and co-operatives. They understood the danger of falling victim to a vicious debt peonage run by the capitalist class. The radical farmers made alliances with the Knights of Labor, which believed that those who worked in the mills should own them.

“By the 1890s workers were taking over towns and running them in eastern and western Pennsylvania, such as Homestead,” Chomsky said. “But they were crushed by force. It took some time. The final blow was Woodrow Wilson’s Red Scare.”

“The idea should still be that of the Knights of Labor,” he said. “Those who work in the mills should own them. There is plenty of manufacturing going on. There will be more. Energy prices are going down in the United States because of the massive exploitation of fossil fuels, which is going to destroy our grandchildren. But under the capitalist morality the calculus is profits tomorrow outweigh the existence of your grandchildren. We are getting lower energy prices. They [business leaders] are enthusiastic that we can undercut manufacturing in Europe because we have lower energy prices. And we can undermine European efforts at developing sustainable energy.”

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UN climate change report warns of ‘irreversible’ impacts

August 31, 2014

A draft UN climate change report finds that global warming could be irreversible, painting a harsh warning of what’s causing global warming and what it will do to humans and the environment. It also offers ways to curb climate change.

By Staff, Associated Press AUGUST 26, 2014

  • Jim Urquhart/Reuters/File
    View Caption

Global warming is here, human-caused and probably already dangerous — and it’s increasingly likely that the heating trend could be irreversible, a draft of a new international science report says.

The United Nations‘ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Monday sent governments a final draft of its synthesis report, which combines three earlier, gigantic documents by the Nobel Prize-winninggroup. There is little in the report that wasn’t in the other more-detailed versions, but the language is more stark and the report attempts to connect the different scientific disciplines studying problems caused by the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas.

The 127-page draft, obtained by The Associated Press, paints a harsh warning of what’s causing global warming and what it will do to humans and the environment. It also describes what can be done about it.

Recommended: Climate change: Is your opinion informed by science? Take our quiz!

“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” the report says. The final report will be issued after governments and scientists go over the draft line by line in an October conference in Copenhagen.

Depending on circumstances and values, “currently observed impacts might already be considered dangerous,” the report says. It mentions extreme weather and rising sea levels, such as heat waves, flooding and droughts. It even raises, as an earlier report did, the idea that climate change will worsen violent conflicts and refugee problems and could hinder efforts to grow more food. And ocean acidification, which comes from the added carbon absorbed by oceans, will harm marine life, it says.

Without changes in greenhouse gas emissions, “climate change risks are likely to be high or very high by the end of the 21st century,” the report says.

In 2009, countries across the globe set a goal of limiting global warming to about another 2 degrees Fahrenheit (-16.67 Celsius) above current levels. But the report says that it is looking more likely that the world will shoot past that point. Limiting warming to that much is possible but would require dramatic and immediate cuts in carbon dioxide pollution.

Accident in Reactor 3 fuel pool at Fukushima — Large piece of wreckage falls nearby spent uranium rods

August 30, 2014

ENENews


Accident in Reactor 3 fuel pool at Fukushima — Large piece of wreckage falls nearby spent uranium rods — M5 quake hits plant soon after — Official: “Unable to say” whether any have been damage (PHOTOS & VIDEO)

Posted: 29 Aug 2014 02:43 PM PDT

Officials reveal about 2 Trillion becquerels of Fukushima radioactive material flowed into ocean every month during 2013 — “Deadly strontium” releases now more than double cesium — “Strontium gets into your bones… it changes the equation” (VIDEO)

Posted: 29 Aug 2014 06:55 AM PDT


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