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This is the official blog for Sean Brennan and London After Midnight. For more information on LAM please see the LAM website at londonaftermidnight.com.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17 2014 The Guardian newspaper

NASA-Funded Study: Industrial Civilization Headed for 'Irreversible Collapse'?

Natural and social scientists develop new model of how 'perfect storm' of crises could unravel global system

This NASA Earth Observatory released on
This Nasa Earth Observatory image shows a storm system circling around an area of extreme low pressure in 2010, which many scientists attribute to climate change. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

A new study sponsored by Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of 'collapse' are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that "the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history." Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to "precipitous collapse - often lasting centuries - have been quite common."

The research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary 'Human And Nature DYnamical' (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics.

It finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilisations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation:
"The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires, as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent."
By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy.

These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: "the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity"; and "the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or "Commoners") [poor]" These social phenomena have played "a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse," in all such cases over "the last five thousand years."
Currently, high levels of economic stratification are linked directly to overconsumption of resources, with "Elites" based largely in industrialised countries responsible for both:
"... accumulated surplus is not evenly distributed throughout society, but rather has been controlled by an elite. The mass of the population, while producing the wealth, is only allocated a small portion of it by elites, usually at or just above subsistence levels."
The study challenges those who argue that technology will resolve these challenges by increasing efficiency:
"Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use."
Productivity increases in agriculture and industry over the last two centuries has come from "increased (rather than decreased) resource throughput," despite dramatic efficiency gains over the same period.

Modelling a range of different scenarios, Motesharri and his colleagues conclude that under conditions "closely reflecting the reality of the world today... we find that collapse is difficult to avoid." In the first of these scenarios, civilisation:
".... appears to be on a sustainable path for quite a long time, but even using an optimal depletion rate and starting with a very small number of Elites, the Elites eventually consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society. It is important to note that this Type-L collapse is due to an inequality-induced famine that causes a loss of workers, rather than a collapse of Nature."
Another scenario focuses on the role of continued resource exploitation, finding that "with a larger depletion rate, the decline of the Commoners occurs faster, while the Elites are still thriving, but eventually the Commoners collapse completely, followed by the Elites."
In both scenarios, Elite wealth monopolies mean that they are buffered from the most "detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners", allowing them to "continue 'business as usual' despite the impending catastrophe." The same mechanism, they argue, could explain how "historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases)."

Applying this lesson to our contemporary predicament, the study warns that:
"While some members of society might raise the alarm that the system is moving towards an impending collapse and therefore advocate structural changes to society in order to avoid it, Elites and their supporters, who opposed making these changes, could point to the long sustainable trajectory 'so far' in support of doing nothing."
However, the scientists point out that the worst-case scenarios are by no means inevitable, and suggest that appropriate policy and structural changes could avoid collapse, if not pave the way toward a more stable civilisation.

The two key solutions are to reduce economic inequality so as to ensure fairer distribution of resources, and to dramatically reduce resource consumption by relying on less intensive renewable resources and reducing population growth:
"Collapse can be avoided and population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion."
The NASA-funded HANDY model offers a highly credible wake-up call to governments, corporations and business - and consumers - to recognise that 'business as usual' cannot be sustained, and that policy and structural changes are required immediately.

Although the study is largely theoretical, a number of other more empirically-focused studies - by KPMG and the UK Government Office of Science for instance - have warned that the convergence of food, water and energy crises could create a 'perfect storm' within about fifteen years. But these 'business as usual' forecasts could be very conservative

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Debunking the Five Most Common Myths About Gun Control

Debunking the Five Most Common Myths About Gun Control
Posted On January 14, 2014
armedwithreson.com





1. More Guns, Less Crime

In response to John R. Lott’s book “More Guns, Less Crime,” a sixteen-member panel of the United States Research Council convened in 2004 and 2010 to address the relationship between right-to-carry laws and crime rates.  They found, at best, gun availability has a negligible effect on crime rates and, at worse, causes an increase in aggravated assault rates.  Two Yale professors, Ayres and Donohue, further reviewed Lott’s findings, and discovered that his data contained numerous coding and econometric errors that, when corrected, led to the opposite conclusion—RTC laws only increase crime.  This was the second time Lott presented findings with coding errors, and the embarrassment after Ayres and Donohue’s devastating response led Lott to remove his name from the final paper.

One of the most recent and largest studies to date on gun violence in America concludes that widespread gun ownership is the driving force behind gun violence in the United States.   The study compiled data from 50 states between 1981-2010 to examine the relationship between gun ownership and homicide.   Because no good data exists on national rates of gun ownership, the study used the best available proxy for gun ownership, the percentage of suicides involving a firearm.  After accounting for national trends in violent crime as well as 18 control variables, the study concluded the following: “for each percentage point increase in gun ownership the firearm homicide rate increased by 0.9%”


2. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people

Lawnmowers don’t mow lawns, people do, but if want to be exceedingly efficient about it with very little effort or time, you will need a lawnmower.  The obvious problem with the “guns don’t kill people” argument is that it confuses proximate and root causes.  We can acknowledge that the root cause of maladaptive behavior is human decision-making, but that says nothing about how proximate causes, such as firearms, exacerbates the effect of bad decisions.

To this end, guns may not kill people, but people with guns do, and they do so more frequently and more efficiently than people without guns.  In five areas: suicides, accidental deaths, domestic violence, domestic homicide, and international homicide, the relationship between guns and death is consistent and robust across time and location.

Compared to other high-income countries, for example, the United States has a firearm homicide rate that is 6.9 times higher than other high-income countries, a firearm suicide rate that is 5.8 times higher than other high-income countries, and an unintentional firearm death rate that is 5.2 times higher than other countries.  In fact, 80% of all firearm deaths in the developed world occur in the United States.

In response to this overwhelming evidence, gun advocates argue that the problem can be solved simply with even more guns. 

3. Criminals don’t follow laws

Criminals, definitionally, do not follow laws; this is an uninteresting tautology, not a meaningful statement about social realities.  Serial rapists, murderers, and thieves rarely follow laws prohibiting rape, murder, and theft, but that clearly doesn’t mean we should abandon laws that ban such activity.  Just because a criminal doesn’t obey one law does not mean they don’t obey any laws.

Law enforcement, rather obviously, can prevent law-abiding citizens from becoming criminals by forcing people to internalize the cost of breaking laws.   One survey asked prison inmates who did not use a gun to carry out their crime why they chose not to: 79 percent chose “get a stiffer sentence” and 59 percent chose “Against the Law.”

In the case of gun control, dozens of empirical studies show that stricter gun control laws in the United States lower the rate of gun deaths.  International evidence also confirms this point:  Gun buy-back programs in Australia, Firearm Certificates in the United Kingdom,  and rigorous background checks and licensing procedures in Japan, have all been shown to decrease gun violence.

Contrary to the gun lobby’s claim that “when guns are outlawed, only the outlaws have guns,” the experience in both Great Britain and Japan has instead been “When guns are outlawed, very few outlaws will have guns.”  Indeed, gun crime in Japan and England is virtually nonexistent compared to American standards.  In fact, 60% of the time when a ‘”firearm” is used in England, the firearm is a dummy replica or a bluff.

4. Armed populations prevent tyranny

Even a cursory reading of history finds that militias, especially unregulated ones, are overwhelmingly inimical to the functioning of a free society.   In Vietnam, Afghanistan, Cuba, Somalia, Iraq, and southern Lebanon, even while fighting against foreign rule, these countries’ militias actively worked against the establishment of a free state.   Finding developed country analogs for these examples is impossible, as there are simply no wealthy countries, with the exception of Costa Rica, that use militias for self-defense.   For examples closer to home, we can look to how miserably the Ku Klux Klan, the Black Panthers, and Neo-Nazi factions (all examples of real militias) failed to promote a free society.

It is also demonstrably false, as gun advocates argue, that armed populations are never given the opportunity to stop tyranny because they are disarmed first.   Yemen, for example, is the second most heavily armed country in the world (per capita), and is currently embroiled in a civil war between a Western dictatorship and Jihadist groups.   Saddam Hussein, by any definition a tyrant, invigilated over a brutal regime despite the fact that Iraqi people were heavily armed.

The most common form of “armed populations prevent tyranny” is “Hitler took the guns.”  First, the idea that a small group of heavily armed Jews could have succeeded where the Polish and French armies failed is laughable.  Second, the argument fails to recognize that most strict gun control implemented in the Wiemar Republic was implemented to prevent armed coups from materializing by the Nazis or the Communists.  It failed.  When Hitler seized power, he implemented policy in 1938 that actually loosened restrictions on gun ownership.

5. A gun in the home makes you safer

A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine finds that owning a gun in the home increases the risk of accidents, suicides, assaults and homicides, and intimidation occurring in the home.   It made the following conclusions:

Intimidation:  A study of battered women in California found that, if a gun was in the home, it was used to threaten and harm women in 66% of cases.   Fewer than 7% of these women had used the gun in self-defense.   A national random survey found that hostile uses of guns for intimidation, such as brandishing the firearm during argument, or going outside to shoot the gun during an altercation, occurred more frequently than self-defense uses.

Accidents:  Death certificate data from 2003 to 2007 finds that 680 Americans per year were killed through accidental firearm use.   Data from the National Violent Death Reporting System finds that half of these deaths occurred in the home, half of the victims were under 25, and half of all deaths were inflicted by someone other than the owner of the gun (e.g. friend, family member).

Suicides:  More Americans kill themselves with guns than all other methods combined.   Over ten case-controlled studies find that guns increase the risk of suicide occurring at the home for all members of the household.  It is also not the case that gun owners are inherently more suicidal—this has been tested by numerous studies, and the relationship between gun ownership and suicide appears causal.  Because most suicide attempts occur during transient risk periods of impulsivity, lasting less than five minutes, reducing the availability of firearms is one of the most effective methods of suicide reduction.

Homicides:  From 2003 to 2007, 33 Americans per day were murdered with guns.   A very small minority of these homicides were planned, with a large proportion of them occurring during hostile arguments over domestic problems.  These arguments escalate and, in the presence of a gun, often lead to fatal consequences.  One of the most cited studies examining homicide in the home compares 400 homicide victims killed in their home throughout 3 metropolitan areas.  After controlling for multiple variables, the study found that the presence of a gun was a strong risk factor for homicide in the home.  This association was driven almost exclusively by homicide committed at the hands of a family member of intimate acquaintance.

The data are clear: a gun in the home does not make you any safer.



Sean

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Climate Change CAUSES extreme Weather • Studies Prove Guns Are Dangerous and Pointless

- Gun Study Database: Proof that guns are dangerous, pointless, and we'd have fewer crime and deaths without them.



Published on Monday, January 6, 2014 by Common Dreams
Is 'Polar Vortex' Attributable to Climate Change? Yes.

As temperatures plummet, a reminder: 'Every weather event in the modern world is attributable to climate change.'

- Jon Queally, staff writer
A man wears a face mask and heavy clothes while walking through downtown Springfield, Ill., in blowing and falling snow as a strong winter storm moves through the Midwest Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014. (AP/Seth Perlman)Weather isn't climate and the climate isn't weather, but if someone asks whether the 'polar vortex' now being experience by tens of millions of people across the country is driven by climate change, you don't have to wait for the next wave of scientific research to come out. The answer is 'Yes.'
Sadly and predictably, however—as much of the nation faces the coldest temperatures seen in nearly two decades on Monday and into Tuesday— the push of bone-chilling arctic air into southern Canada and much of the United States has the climate change denialists pushing their familiar falsehoods about how near-record lows nationwide somehow disproves global warming.
In just one example, multi-millionaire and political pundit Donald Trump took to Fox News on Monday morning to say that the freezing temperatures help prove that there is a great "hoax" around climate change. "You know," Tump said when asked to explain, "I think the scientists are having a lot of fun."
On Monday, federal and state agencies issued dire warnings about freezing temperatures that have blanketed the midwest, saying that millions of Americans are under threat by windchill temperatures today and tomorrow that could be life-threatening. Temperature readings, factoring in windchill effect, were reported as low as -63°F in Montana and -50°F in places in North Dakota and Minnesota.
But the effort by Trump and others to portray the phenomenon known as the "arctic vortex" as some an event that discredits the international scientific consensus on the relationship between industrial society's relationship to planetary climate change, however, is being met with a firm rebuke of its own by climate activists, weather experts, and scientists.
As climate justice campaigner Jamie Henn of 350.org tweeted Monday:
The article referenced by Henn, wrriten by Greg Landen at ScienceBlogs.com, says that the "apparent contrast between extreme cold and global warming is actually an illusion."
In what way? Landen continues:
The Polar Vortex, a huge system of moving swirling air that normally contains the polar cold air, has shifted so it is not sitting right on the pole as it usually does. We are not seeing an expansion of cold, an ice age, or an anti-global warming phenomenon. We are seeing the usual cold polar air taking an excursion.
So, this cold weather we are having does not disprove global warming.
In fact, it may be because of global warming. The Polar Vortex can go off center any given winter, but we have been having some strange large scale weather activity over the last few years that is thought to be related to global warming that may have contributed to this particular weather event (explained here). This may be an effect of this strangeness, though the jury is still probably out on this particular weather event.
According to Dr. Dim Coumou, a senior scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) near Berlin, who spoke to Agence France-Presse, what drives the polar vortex is the difference in temperature between the Arctic region and those in the mid-latitudes closer to the equator.
"The reason why we see these strong meanderings is still not fully settled," Coumou told AFP, "but it's clear that the Arctic has been warming very rapidly. We have good data on this. Arctic temperatures have risen much more than other parts of the globe."
The idea that any particular "weather event" is or is not climate change, however, belies the deeper fact that all weather events are complex results of underlying climate conditions. As Jim Naureckas, a journalist at the media watchdog group FAIR, explained to his readers in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines last year, "attributing particular weather events to climate change is ridiculously easy."
The reason for that, he continues, is because (emphasis his):
"Every weather event in the modern world is attributable to climate change.  This is because weather is a chaotic system, which is to say it varies wildly based on initial conditions. Once we raised global temperature by a degree Celsius—which is an enormous intervention in the physical world—we irrevocably changed all weather, producing an entirely different set of events than the ones that would have otherwise occurred."
In other words, the whole debate about whether this hurricane, that tornado, or the current 'polar vortex' is or isn't climate change misses the point.
Writing about the climate dynamics that are driving the current 'polar vortex' event Jeff Masters, meteorologist and founder of the popular Wunderground blog, explains:
In the winter, the 24-hour darkness over the snow and ice-covered polar regions allows a huge dome of cold air to form. This cold air increases the difference in temperature between the pole and the Equator, and leads to an intensification of the strong upper-level winds of the jet stream. The strong jet stream winds act to isolate the polar regions from intrusions of warmer air, creating a "polar vortex" of frigid counter-clockwise swirling air over the Arctic. The chaotic flow of the air in the polar vortex sometimes allows a large dip (a sharp trough of low pressure) to form in the jet stream over North America, allowing the Arctic air that had been steadily cooling in the northern reaches of Canada in areas with 24-hour darkness to spill southwards deep into the United States. In theory, the 1.5°F increase in global surface temperatures that Earth has experienced since 1880 due to global warming should reduce the frequency of 1-in-20 year extreme cold weather events like the current one. However, it is possible that climate change could alter jet stream circulation patterns in a way that could increase the incidence of unusual jet stream "kinks" that allow cold air to spill southwards over the Eastern U.S., a topic I have blogged about extensively, and plan to say more about later this week.
Lastly, this video posted at the Mother Nature Network and featuring Masters as well as Rutgers University professor Jennifer Francis, helps explain the dynamics by which a warming planet can result in freezing cold weather patterns and extremes of all kinds:


Thursday, July 18, 2013

More on the Racism and Injustice of the Trayvon Martin Verdict

The right wing media and all people defending Zimmerman's right to murder Trayvon Martin are constantly referring to any gathering of African Americans in peaceful protest against racism as "a riot". That alone is racist, but these same people ignore the constant attempts by right-wingers to provoke anger. They just think "it's not enough that you're discriminated against, your life is of less value than mine, and I can murder you with no consequences, I'm also going to rub your nose in it, too".


    Watch 2 Racists Attempt to Start a Riot at a Peaceful Trayvon Martin Protest From OccupyDemocrats.com 17 July, 2013 After a Florida jury found George sermon not guilty in the murder of a young Trayvon Martin, a group of about 20 children between the ages of two and 12 and about 20 more young adults decided to peacefully protest racial profiling and an unjust criminal justice system in Wichita, Kansas. Of course, rather than support their peaceful protest, two white males decided to attempt to stoke racial unrest and start a riot by provoking them with racism. One of them wore a black shirt that read, “This shirt can say NIGG*R because it is black.” (Of course, the racist shirt did not have an asterisk, and made the point to capitalize the deeply offensive word) Thankfully, Trayvon’s supporters kept their cool and showed these two bigots how adults handle things, peacefully questioning them about their intentions and shaming them for their racism. Why in the world with these two men feel compelled to throw salt on the fresh wounds of Trayvon Martin’s supporters? Only they know, but it is safe to assume that this episode is anecdotal of the perceived “reverse racism” that many whites feel that they themselves fall victim to on a daily basis. Do you believe that they have an unnecessary and unearned persecution complex?

While the two racists above were allowed to try and provoke a fight, this poor guy was arrested for peacefully wearing a hoodie in a mall and displaying a sign honoring Trayvon Martin (watch the video). Yet the racists will continue to claim that race has nothing to do with this case.

- Black Man arrested for "trespassing" For wearing hoodie at Mall

    WICHITA, Kansas – A young man believes he did nothing wrong after being arrested for criminal trespassing at Towne East Square, saying mall security racially profiled him for wearing a hoodie and a sign supporting justice for Trayvon Martin.

And finally a good segment from the Chris Hayes show:


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sean

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Injustice of the Trayvon Martin Verdict

- Trayvon Martin And Why The Right-Wing Media Spent 16 Months Smearing A Dead Teenager

    Yet one of the puzzling questions surrounding the public saga of Martin's death has always been why the partisan, conservative political movement in America, led by its powerful media outlets, felt the need to become so deeply invested in the case, and felt so strongly about defending the shooter, as well as demeaning the victim. I understand why civil rights leaders who traditionally lean to the left politically embraced the case, why they saw it as part of a long history of injustice for blacks, and why they urged that Zimmerman be charged with a crime. But why did GOP bloggers, pundits and talk show hosts eventually go all in with their signature brand of hate for a local crime story?

- Fear and Consequences: George Zimmerman and the Protection of White Womanhood
    "Yes, white women ... are taught to fear men of color. We need to own that truth, own that shameful fear. Most importantly, we need to name it for what it is: deeply held and constantly enforced racism."

- JUSTICE FOR TRAYVON: Black Twitter Kills Juror B37’s Book

    Awesome! Anyone who saw this juror interviewed on CNN last night saw what a total bigoted sociopathic moron she was. Glad she is now unable to profit from Trayvon's death.


- White people who kill black people in 'Stand Your Ground' states are 354% more likely to be cleared of murder

    Racism in the justice system: White people who kill black people in 'Stand Your Ground' states are 354 per cent more likely to be found justified in their killing than a white person who kills another white person, according to research.


- Classic rock musician Lester Chambers assaulted on stage at Blues Festival because he Dedicated a Song to Trayvon Martin

    Lester Chambers, founding member of popular 1960s recording artists, The Chambers Brothers, was on stage at The Russell City Hayward Blues Festival tonight when his son said the attack occurred. It is indeed disturbing news for the 73-year-old singer, who just yesterday announced on his Facebook page, he’d completed the last hurdle prior to releasing his first album in over 40 years.


- Florida woman Marissa Alexander gets 20 years for "warning shot": Did she stand her ground?

    Last Friday, Jacksonville mother Marissa Alexander was sentenced by a Florida judge to 20 years in prison for firing what she says was a "warning shot" into the wall after a physical altercation with her husband, Rico Gray. The case has set off yet another controversy involving the state's "stand your ground" law, which is under intense scrutiny after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in February. Critics, including Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), are crying foul.


- The Zimmerman Jury Told Young Black Men What We Already Knew

    Tonight a Florida man’s acquittal for hunting and killing a black teenager who was armed with only a bag of candy serves as a Rorschach test for the American public. For conservatives, it’s a triumph of permissive gun laws and a victory over the liberal media, which had been unfairly rooting for the dead kid all along. For liberals, it's a tragic and glaring example of the gaps that plague our criminal justice system. For people of color, it’s a vivid reminder that we must always be deferential to white people, or face the very real chance of getting killed.


- George Zimmerman Not Guilty: Jury Lets Trayvon Martin Killer Go

    As attention around the case mounted before the trial, details emerged about the teenager and the man involved in the fatal confrontation. It turned out this wasn't Zimmerman's first run-in with the law. He had previously been accused of domestic violence by a former girlfriend, and he had also previously been arrested for assaulting a police officer. More controversially, in July 2012, an evidence dump related to the investigation of Martin's death revealed that a younger female cousin of Zimmerman's had accused him of nearly two decades of sexual molestation and assault. In addition, she had accused members of Zimmerman's family, including his Peruvian-born mother, of being proudly racist against African Americans, and recalled a number of examples of perceived bigotry.


- Zimmerman changes details, makes claims inconsistent with other evidence

    George Zimmerman talked to Sanford police a half-dozen times, going over what happened the night he killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. In the retelling, parts of his story changed. His account also does not line up with other evidence. Here are some of the most prominent inconsistencies...

- FINALLY... A Mainstream Journalist Speaks Truth on the Trayvon Martin case





Sean

Friday, May 3, 2013

American school books being re-written by insane fundamentalist republicans

I haven't seen this film yet, need to find it first. But it's a really important subject that I've mentioned a few times in articles I've posted- these crazy conservatives, who think that there were dinosaurs on Noah's Ark, are re-writing all US school textbooks, denying evolution, denying slavery, etc. These text book suppliers basically control all the text books used in all schools in the USA.




Sean

Monday, April 22, 2013

Climate Change Worse than Expected (worsened by meat production) • "Humane Meat is Lie" Admits Meat Producer • Doomsday Preppers • Report: USA Tortures People • Guns vs "Terrorism"

- How Resource Scarcity and Climate Change Could Produce a Global Explosion
    Brace yourself. You may not be able to tell yet, but according to global experts and the US intelligence community, the earth is already shifting under you. Whether you know it or not, you’re on a new planet, a resource-shock world of a sort humanity has never before experienced. Two nightmare scenarios—a global scarcity of vital resources and the onset of extreme climate change—are already beginning to converge and in the coming decades are likely to produce a tidal wave of unrest, rebellion, competition and conflict. Just what this tsunami of disaster will look like may, as yet, be hard to discern, but experts warn of "water wars" over contested river systems, global food riots sparked by soaring prices for life’s basics, mass migrations of climate refugees (with resulting anti-migrant violence) and the breakdown of social order or the collapse of states. At first, such mayhem is likely to arise largely in Africa, Central Asia and other areas of the underdeveloped South, but in time, all regions of the planet will be affected.
- Why does America lose its head over 'terror' but ignore its daily gun deaths?
    The thriving metropolis of Boston was turned into a ghost town on Friday. Nearly a million Bostonians were asked to stay in their homes – and willingly complied. ...If only Americans reacted the same way to the actual threats that exist in their country. There's something quite fitting and ironic about the fact that the Boston freak-out happened in the same week the Senate blocked consideration of a gun control bill that would have strengthened background checks for potential buyers. Even though this reform is supported by more than 90% of Americans, and even though 56 out of 100 senators voted in favour of it, the Republican minority prevented even a vote from being held on the bill because it would have allegedly violated the second amendment rights of "law-abiding Americans".
    So for those of you keeping score at home – locking down an American city: a proper reaction to the threat from one terrorist. A background check to prevent criminals or those with mental illness from purchasing guns: a dastardly attack on civil liberties. All of this would be almost darkly comic if not for the fact that more Americans will die needlessly as a result. Already, more than 30,000 Americans die in gun violence every year (compared to the 17 who died last year in terrorist attacks).
- Report: Post-9/11 Torture "Indisputable" and "Unprecedented"
    A new report from an independent task force finds that the Bush administration committed torture....The task force, an eleven-person team led by former Congressman Asa Hutchinson, a Republican and an undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security during the Bush administration, and former Democratic Congressman James R. Jones, sought to piece together "an accurate and authoritative account of how the United States treated people its forces held in custody as the nation mobilized to deal with a global terrorist theat." The New York Times called the report "the most ambitious independent attempt to date to assess the detention and interrogation programs."
    In the years since 2001, journalists, lawyers and activists have been unable to get the Central Intelligence Agency, Justice Department and Bush administration to state unequivocally that the interrogation tactics used on detainees constituted torture. The Obama administration chose not to commission an official study of interrogation and detention tactics, saying it was unproductive to "look backwards." But it is "indisputable," the report’s authors conclude, that torture occurred at Guantánamo, the C.I.A.’s so-called black sites and other war-zone detention centers.
- Livestock’s carbon footprint ‘catastrophic,’ say climate experts
    A new report from an independent task force finds that the Bush administration committed torture.......livestock farming now accounts for the use of 70 percent of the global freshwater and 38 percent of the world’s land-use conversion. Some 70 percent of the Amazon Rainforest, in fact, has already been cleared for grazing and feed crop production.The "Livestock and Climate Change" published in the latest issue of World Watch magazine reported that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions as noted by Inquirer Science/Health on April 20. Forbes online, in its April 28 issue, wrote that the 2006 report estimated that 18 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs and poultry (chicken) were in fact updated to 51 percent, citing an analysis performed by Robert Goodland, a former World Bank Group environmental adviser, with cowriter Jeff Anhang, an environmental specialist at the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corp.
- Major Poultry Producer Lies About Animal Treatment
    Perdue is facing a lawsuit after attempting to cash in on consumer interest in animal welfare be falsely labeling their poultry as “humane.”New Jersey courts have given The Humane Society of the United States the green light to go forward with a class-action lawsuit against Perdue Farms, Inc. The major poultry producer is getting sued for misleading consumers after it falsely labeled its chickens as humanely raised, when they were actually subject to the same cramped and painful conditions of factory farms. Perdue disputed these charges in the New Jersey federal court, asserting that consumers should not expect the animals to be raised in humane conditions even if the label indicated so.
- Climate Change Worse Than Expected, Argues Lord Stern
    Climate change looks far more threatening than it did six years ago as the world marches toward a warming of 4 degrees Celsius higher by the end of the century compared to the preindustrial era, said Lord Nicholas Stern, a professor of economics and chairman of the Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics.Stern called for new and better climate models and better economic assessments of climate impacts but maintained that the main obstacle to action is political will.
    The former World Bank chief economist was critical of his own 2006 review on the economics of climate change, a document considered seminal to climate change discussions, which estimated that the overall cost of climate change would shave off at least 5 percent of gross domestic product growth annually. Stern said that the review underestimated the "immense risk" from global warming.
- World Bank (Again) Warns of Developmental Setbacks From Climate Change
    Climate change doesn't obviously fall under the mandate of the World Bank, which has the official goal of reducing poverty. But speaking in Tokyo last month, new bank president Jim Yong Kim said he felt "a moral responsibility to be very clear in communicating the dangers of climate change." The bank is following through. Yesterday, it released a new report spelling out the consequences of the world's current course. "The lack of action on climate change not only risks putting prosperity out of reach of millions of people in the developing world, it threatens to roll back decades of sustainable development," Kim writes.
- What Could Disappear
    Maps show coastal and low-lying areas that would be permanently flooded, without engineered protection, in three levels of higher seas.
- "Just a Theory": 7 Misused Science Words
    Hypothesis. Theory. Law. These scientific words get bandied about regularly, yet the general public usually gets their meaning wrong.
- The Doomsday Prepper Caucus
    To get a sense of how part of America is going all-in on this bet look no further than National Geographic Channel’s hit reality show Doomsday Preppers... dismissing the popularity of Doomsday Preppers as mere pop-cultural voyeurism would be a mistake.That’s because the show is a microcosm of something else stirring in our country, something more foreboding. The ominous prophecies of government tyranny, financial meltdown and violent anarchy featured on Preppers inform more than just the survivalist movement circa 2013. They’re also being absorbed into contemporary conservatism, which has increasingly bought into these same doomsday storylines hook, line and bunker.

Sean