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global challenges

Gail Tverberg: Twelve reasons why globalisation is a huge problem

Globalization seems to be looked on as an unmitigated “good” by economists. Unfortunately, they miss the point that the world is finite. We don’t have infinite resources, or unlimited ability to handle excess pollution. So we’re setting up a “solution” that is at best temporary. Here’s why globalization is, in fact, a very major problem.

Why trapped methane in the Arctic is a problem for all

Dave Lindorff writes: The concern is that if the Arctic Ocean waters were to warm even slightly, as they will do as the ice cap vanishes in summer, at some point the clathrates which have currently trapped massive amounts of methane will suddenly dissolve releasing tens of thousands of gigatons of methane in huge bursts.

The biggest refugee crisis since WWII is a sign of a planet in trouble

David Korten writes that if don’t make a collective choice to heal the planet and build a fundamentally more equitable society, we’ll see intensifying competition for shrinking resources and habitable spaces. Activist Mary Robinson explains why climate change Is a threat to human rights and asks us to join the movement for worldwide climate justice.

How climate change battles are increasingly being fought, and won, in court

The Guardian reports: Around the world courts are stepping in when politicians fail to act, with South Africa’s government the latest to lose a groundbreaking climate lawsuit with judges ruling against its plans for a new coal-fired power station. The government’s approval of the proposed Thabametsi coal-fired power station was challenged by NGO EarthLife Africa.

Herman Daly: Thoughts on Pope Francis’ Laudato Si

The pioneering American economist who helped found the discipline of Ecological Economics, and presently a leading theorist of ‘steady-state economics’, muses on Pope Francis’ ground-breaking encyclical on environment and justice. “At a minimum, he’s given us a more truthful, informed, and courageous analysis of the environmental and moral crisis than have our secular political leaders.”

I want children – but my fears for the planet’s future fill me with doubt

We are coming into an era of huge uncertainty–climate change is a reality, resources are becoming more scarce and I this will eventually lead to armed conflict. While my partner and I are in the extremely fortunate position, I feel that it would be unfair of me to bring a child into a precarious future.

The ecology movement is not a social movement: A response to John Foran

There’s a fundamental difference between the ecology movement and social movements of the past. The demands of social movements could be fulfilled to a large extent, thanks to the growing cake. But with the emergence of the ecology movement, the situation has changed completely. Now, not only must the cake not grow, it must shrink.

So you want to be a climate campaigner? Here’s how

The planet is getting hotter, leaving people hungry and fuelling wars around the world and you want to do something about it. But with a green movement to cater for every age, location, and type of plastic recycling, how to turn your enthusiasm into action? Maeve Shearlaw’s tips for getting started as a climate activist.

How the world passed a carbon threshold and why it matters

Yale Environment 360 reports: Last year marked the first time in several million years that atmospheric concentrations of CO2 passed 400 parts per million. Frighteningly, this modern rise of CO2 is also accelerating at an unusual rate. By looking at the Earth’s climate history, scientists are getting a sobering picture of where we are headed.

2014 was hottest year ever recorded. Then it was 2015. Now it’s 2016.

Common Dreams reports: For the third year in a row, the world experienced its warmest year ever recorded. In 2016, a total of 22 nations set all-time records for their hottest ever temperatures. This breaks the record of eighteen all-time heat records in 2010 for the greatest number of such records set in one year.

John Michael Greer: A sneak preview of the year 2017

As 2017 dawns, in a great many ways, modern industrial civilization has flung itself forward into a darkness where no stars offer guidance and no echoes tell what lies ahead… We’re not discussing the end of the world; events like those that can be found repeated many times in the histories of other failing civilizations.

The 10 most important climate change trends of 2016

Brian Kahn writes: This year is likely to remembered as a turning point for climate change, with world leaders agreeing to move toward a clean energy future. It’s clear 2016 was a year where planetary peril and human hope stood out in stark contrast. Here are the 10 most important climate milestones of the year.

On the most radical social movement of the twenty-first century

John Foran writes: Among 21st-century movements for radical social change, those that are most likely to succeed will feature some combination of 1) stronger social movements and political cultures of opposition and creation, and 2) new kinds of parties, joined in 3) some new kind of networked structure, and 4) operating locally, nationally, and globally.

Stephen Hawking: This is the most dangerous time for our planet

We face awesome global environmental challenges. Climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans. Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity… Now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together.

Scientists say a long feared climate ‘feedback’ is now happening

The Washington Post reports: In a massive new study published in the influential journal Nature, more than 50 authors from around the world document a so-called climate system “feedback” that, they say, could make global warming considerably worse over the coming decades. That feedback involves the planet’s soils, which are a massive repository of carbon.

George Monbiot: The 13 impossible crises we are facing now

Please don’t read this unless you are feeling strong. This is a list of 13 major crises that, I believe, confront us. From Trump to climate change, this multi-headed crisis presages collapse. And there’s no hope of exiting the ‘other side’ if political alternatives are shut down. Sorry to say that it’s not happy reading.

Pablo Tittonell: Feeding the world with Agroecology

Pablo Tittonell is professor ‘Farming Systems Ecology’ at Wageningen University and one of the worlds most well known experts in the field of agriculture and ecology. In this TED Talk, he advocates intensification of agriculture by making optimal use of natural processes and the landscape to meet the worlds constantly growing demand for food.

Watch: “Good nutrition begins in healthy soils”

There’s no such thing as ‘healthy food’ if it’s not produced by sustainable farming systems on living soils, Patrick Holden told the recent ‘Food: The Forgotten Medicine’ conference. But after 70 years of industrial farming, there’s a huge job to be done to restore depleted soils and the impoverished genetic diversity of seeds and crops.

Landmark carbon dioxide concentration passed; marks new climate era

Brian Kahn writes: Climate change has entered a new phase, according to the UN World Meteorological Organization. Concentrations of carbon dioxide “surged again to new records in 2016,” and the WMO predicts that the annual average for CO2 would remain above 400 parts per million, 44 percent higher than before the Industrial Revolution, for generations.

Watch: Pentagon video warns of “unavoidable” dystopian future

The Intercept reports: This startling five minute video from the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations University depicts an “unavoidable” future of brutal and anarchic supercities and offers an apocalyptic list of ills endemic to this new urban environment. In addition, “Growth will magnify the increasing separation between rich and poor,” the narrator warns at one point.

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