The John James Newsletter 234

posted Jun 10, 2018, 4:29 PM by Clement Clarke
The John James Newsletter 234

9 June 2018  

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Current world population: 7,627,628,901 plus 57,115 per day - and accelerating

Is our diet marinated in pesticides?
Comley Beattie

The US has a current debt of about 110% of her GDP, more than the Greek debt was in 2008
Peter Koenig

All the harbingers of collapse are visible: crumbling infrastructure; chronic unemployment; the indiscriminate use of lethal force by police; political paralysis and stagnation; an economy built on debt; nihilistic mass shootings in schools; opioid overdoses that kill over 1,000 people each week; an epidemic of suicides; unsustainable military expansion; gambling and porn; the capture of power by a tiny, corrupt clique; censorship; the physical diminishing of public institutions; the incessant bombardment by electronic hallucinations to divert us - the usual pathologies of impending death. I have seen this before. I know the warning signs. All I can say is get ready.
Chris Hedges 

The fact that the world is able to put money into developing robots to replace what nature gives us for free, just because we refuse to limit the profits of chemical corporations, shows that things have gone crazy
Guillaume Chapron

At least 39 fossil fuel companies paid no income tax in Australia in 2015-2016 despite a combined income of almost $72 billion
Australian Tax Office

59 percent of Americans say Mueller has uncovered no crimes, whereas in fact, he has secured 17 criminal indictments and obtained five guilty pleas 
David Corn

In 1980, China’s economy was only a tenth the size of the US economy: by 2040 it could be three times larger
Graham Allison

In Memory of Razan al-Najjar
A 21-year-old paramedic was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers while trying to aid protesters near the Gaza-Israel separation fence. But many Israelis deny that she was killed or claim her killing was somehow justified. The bitter truth is that the Israeli collective consciousness is light-years away from a place where it can even begin speak about the basic concepts of justice, human rights, and human equality before God. I doubt that years of occupation and moral corruption can be corrected.
Twitter comments
Misleading official Israeli videos slammed as 'abject dehumanisation' of young Palestinian paramedic to 'retroactively justify' her killing.

The Big Fix: changing the story
This week it became clear that the tide has begun to turn on plastic pollution. India has pledged to eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022; the EU is planning to ban single use plastics; Chile is set to become the first country in the Americas to ban plastic bags; and Bon Appetit Management, a food-service company with eateries at major US college campuses and museums is going to ban plastic straws and stirrers at all of its more than 1,000 locations in 33 states. In Australia, Woolworths will stop selling plastic straws by the end of 2018 and will remove plastic packaging from a further 80 fruit and vegetable lines.  And in Copenhagen, kayaks are being rented for free if you agree to pick up trash while using them. 

A clear and illuminating talk on Carbon Capture - and why it cannot work
Carbon capture and storage places costs and risks with all future generations
Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation was established in 2012 to be a financier for clean energy projects. The aim was to reduce carbon emissions. Carbon capture and storage projects were excluded from the CEFC. In 2017, the government sought to change the rules, allowing investment in CCS. John Bushell analyses the long-term implications of carbon capture and storage. There is more than a one-off capital cost, because while the benefits from the electricity generated lie with today’s generation, CCS places costs and risks with all future generations.

To every action there is an opposite action. That is the law. As we have demanded business and government act to save our future, so the wealthy who are threatened by change become stronger in their denial. Think back to when we thought reason would prevail, and now! The answer, is for we the people to build our own energy systems, plant our own gardens, and use our under-development to overwhelm their greed. We are the 99%, if only we step up and use our numbers.
Did you meet the neo-peasants who moved in next door?
They are transforming their own lives and the world around them. Their carbon-caring and biosphere-consciousness guide their choices as consumers. Sharing, swapping and farming their way towards a more sustainable lifestyle, while saving money on energy and investing in energy efficiency, retrofitting and electrification. Rather than waiting for governments to provide answers.

Trump: 'Like Talking to a Toddler'
Mother of School Shooting Victim Reveals How It Felt to Discuss Gun Policy With Trump. "He kept calling [the shooter] this wacky kid who was wearing a wacky trench coat. In a normal presidency, this would be big/headline news, but with Trump, even for his supporters, such behavior is taken for granted. Baked in. Expected even. We shrug. We move on."

Yanis Varloufakis: Merkel reaps what she sowed with Greek austerity
Trump understands one thing well: Germany and the eurozone are at his mercy, owing to their increasing dependence on large net exports to the US and the rest of the world. And this dependence has grown as a result of the austerity policies that were first tried out in Greece and then implemented in Italy and elsewhere.

Wind and solar farms face tough new connection hurdles
The pace of confirmed and aspirational wind and solar projects in Australia continues at breath-taking speed, with 30GW of proposals in Queensland alone. Rule changes in response to the grid’s rapid transition to renewables have sparked vigorous debate about what precautions are necessary, and what are just “gold plating” generation assets.
What’s behind scare campaign on rooftop solar “blackout” threat
The headlines are screaming again from mainstream media about the threats of blackouts, only this time it is not about having not enough coal, or too much wind, but because of the so-called threat of having too many rooftop solar panels on the grid. READ THIS to understand the hype and the political/commercial pressures.

3 million years ago global temperatures were 2 to 3C warmer, and sea level was 15 to 24 metres higher than today. There is a time lag between the causes of climate change, and the actual movements in temperatures, sea levels etc. The global disasters we see now are the result of atmospheric conditions 20 to 30 years ago. If you live within 100 feet of sea level, it would be prudent to move NOW. And don’t wait - it’s happening now.
Climate Change
The global growth rate of atmospheric CO2 has risen from 0.6 ppm per year in the early 1960s to an average of 2.3 ppm per year during the past ten years. Thats's acceleration. However, the increase in global annual mean CO2 during 2016 was 3.5 ppm, the largest annual increase observed in the 58-year atmospheric measurement record. The annual rate of increase over the past 60 years is about 100 times faster than previous natural increases, such as at the end of the last ice age 11,000-17,000 years ago.  
Dramatic surge in China carbon emissions
China’s carbon emissions growth has accelerated since the beginning of the year. Led by increased demand for coal, oil and gas, China’s CO2 emissions for the first three months of 2018 were 4% higher than they were for the same period in 2017. in the past two years, the government has been running an aggressive stimulus program that has breathed life to smokestack industries and set the clock back on the clean energy transition.

Russia and the UAE Are Now Strategic Partners
During a working visit to Russia last week, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, concluded a Declaration of Strategic Partnership with his host, Russian President Vladimir Putin. The elevation in bilateral ties aims to strengthen cooperation in various dimensions, including oil market stability and combatting terrorism. This declaration is a first for Russia in the Gulf. As such, the United Arab Emirates has become Russia’s most valuable interlocutor in the region.
The Siege of Qatar
A year into the Qatar blockade, we examine the impact of the GCC crisis and question the future of inter-Gulf relations. This current crisis is not an isolated incident. From 1995 up to the present day the dominant team in relations between Saudi Arabia the UAE and Qatar has been one where Saudi Arabia and the UAE has viewed Qatar as definitely the subordinate actor and the Qataris have refused to accept this position.

Donald Trump Is Getting Away With the Biggest Scandal in American History
The Russia scandal is the most important scandal in the history of the United States. At the heart of the Russia scandal is the most fundamental issue for a democracy: the sanctity of elections. An overseas enemy struck at the core of the republic—and it succeeded. Trump and his minions helped and encouraged this attack by engaging in secret contacts with Moscow and publicly insisting no such assault was happening. 

Too much of a good thing: Solar power surge is flooding the grid
The rising number of solar rooftop installations is creating concerns that too much energy is flooding into  electricity grid, and could cause blackouts as the system struggles to control the excess power. "Solar spill", when high levels of energy are generated by rooftop installations in the middle of the day when demand is low, is becoming a problem for Australia’s electricity networks. Its a complex problem, and the worst solution would be to stop rooftop solar from coming into the grid or the networks would have to spend a fortune to have the capacity to deal with it. California is already facing this problem, which is known as the 'California Duck Curve’, where high levels of solar generation are pushed into the system in the middle of the day when demand is low and being wasted. It also forces other generators to rapidly ramp up power to meet the growing peak demand that comes at the end of the day, as the sun sets. In April, new rooftop solar installations reached around 109 megawatts of power, marking the seventh month in a row of more than 100 megawatts of new solar installed. The head of the Australian Energy Market Operator said the grid is "seeing the equivalent of a new power plant being built every season".
Gupta’s stunning deal to supply cheap solar to South Australian industry
UK “green steel” billionaire Sanjeev Gupta has unveiled a stunning, landmark agreement to provide cheap solar power to five major South Australian companies, promising to slash their electricity costs by up to 50%. The eight-year deal signed with a consortium brought together by the SA Chamber of Mines and Energy will enable Gupta Energy to fast track the construction of the 220MW Cultana solar farm near Whyalla. This is the latest in a flood of contracts between large energy users and solar companies to slash their electricity costs by sourcing power directly from their own or third-party solar farms.

If people won't listen when scientists are being accurate, maybe they will listen to this! An Inconvenient Spoof as satire, since environmental scientists are so fed up with being ignored.
A final warning to planet Earth 
No more coddling Mother Nature. Instead, we should let her fight for her own survival, competing against industries that can provide the same services, argue ecologist Guillaume Chapron and his colleagues in a recent article. For example, they write that instead of changing farming practices to protect bees and other pollinators, "we will let bees disappear and replace them by AI-powered microdrones -- which create many jobs and do not sting."

Macroeconomic impact of stranded fossil fuel assets
An integrated global economy–environment simulation model to study the macroeconomic impact of stranded fossil fuel assets that would occur as a result of an already ongoing technological trajectory, irrespective of whether or not new climate policies are adopted; the loss would be amplified if new climate policies to reach the 2 °C target of the Paris Agreement are adopted and/or if low-cost producers (some OPEC countries) maintain their level of production despite declining demand.

Meet the nuns helping save a sacred species from extinction
Conservationists from Chester Zoo have formed a partnership with an order of nuns - in a project that could save a Critically endangered amphibian from extinction. The axolotl - a salamander that is unique to Mexico - has almost been wiped out of its freshwater habitat by pollution and over-fishing. 

China is destroying Ecuador. Brazil is destroying itself with the help of the Netherlands. It’s all smoothed over as the corporates talk about “sustainable development”. What they mean is sustainable for them and their profits. In truth anything is sustainable if you assassinate all the activists and indigenous tribes, get enough foreign investment, bribe government agencies and politicians, control or shut down independent media, and manufacture consultant reports that support your claims of “sustainability”. This is the real face of globalisation: shaking free of all constraints, laws and social responsibilities. We still think of faceless corporate executives doing the will of their bosses, but these are real people who enthusiastically do their job because they really believe that raping the earth is doing the planet a favour {Lorna Salzman}.
Dutch support soy transport mega-project, posing major risk to Amazon
For more than a decade, the Netherlands has vigorously supported Brazil in development of the Northern Corridor, a mega-infrastructure transportation initiative that would transport soy and other commodities from Matto Grosso state to the Atlantic for export. Activists have long warned of the potential destructive impacts of infrastructure development in Amazonia. “Roads are the most important driver of deforestation,”

Banking on nature: inside a world-first conservation reserve 
Turning partially cleared land into a thriving environment for threatened species is part of a long-term sustainability plan for the customer-owned Bank Australia. In 2008 they purchased the first of five properties in the West Wimmera region of Victoria with a two-fold vision: to restore threatened plant and animal species, and to offset some of the impact that banking and its services have on the environment. Today the reserve is a thriving and diverse landscape that provides refuge to hundreds of plant and animal species. 

Human Population Growth and Urban Wildlands
As the growing human population reaches further and further into remote areas in search of room to build cities, housing developments, golf courses, and new farms, it is squeezing wildlife into ever smaller habitat refuges. For endangered species there is often nowhere else to go when the developments march in. 

Trump lawyers claim unlimited presidential authority
In a 20-page letter sent to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in January, two of President Trump’s private lawyers argued that Trump had the authority to order an end to the Russia investigation and to pardon anyone targeted by it. It would be foolish to assert a presidential power to halt an investigation into himself, or to issue a self-pardon, Giuliani said, because this would trigger a political firestorm and lead to impeachment proceedings by Congress.
Trump Asserts 'Absolute Right' to Pardon Himself
"You don't need to be a lawyer to understand why courts would never uphold a president's power to commit crimes and then pardon himself for them."
Tesla owners roll out Australia-wide charging network – for all EVs
A group of dedicated Tesla owners and drivers has built an electric vehicle charging network that spans Australia, providing any and all EV drivers with a usable charging route while they wait for governments and industry to catch up. The Round Australia Electric Highway covers a route around the nation of close to 17,000km, with charging outlets spaced a maximum of 400km apart, but in most cases an average of 200km, and no more than 300km. The vast majority of the network was completed by May this year.

In Debt to the Law (at $100,000 a Pop) 
Law school applications are up this year in what some are calling a “Trump Bump,” since around a third of applicants were inspired to apply by Trump’s election. Nearly half of them identify themselves as members of a minority group. They’ve seen lawyers fighting Trump administration policies that discriminate against their communities and want to do the same. If these minority applicants succeed, they could change the balance of power in American society. If they fail, they will find themselves crushed under a lifetime of debt. But few are aware that they are taking this enormous gamble in a rigged game.

Trump Orders Uneconomical Coal and Nuclear Plants Not to Close, 
Lays Plans for Taxpayers to Bail Out Coal and Nuclear Industry. Orders to stop the closure of coal and nuclear plants, which are closing because renewable energy has become cheaper. A draft White House memo outlines a plan to bail out coal and nuclear plants using a law that permits it to nationalise parts of the power sector.
Taxpayer-Funded Bailout a 'Breathtaking Abuse of Authority'
The plan is  to force American taxpayers to bail out coal and nuclear executives who have made bad decisions by investing in dirty and dangerous energy resources. It is an "outrageous ploy" by Trump "to help his rich friends" at the expense of Americans' pocketbooks and the environment. The administration is trying, once again, to fleece ratepayers by giving coal and nuclear power plants billions of dollars in guaranteed profits.
'Carbon bubble' could spark global financial crisis
Advances in clean energy expected to cause a sudden drop in demand for fossil fuels, leaving companies with trillions in stranded assets. Crucially, the findings suggest that a rapid decline in fossil fuel demand is no longer dependent on stronger policies and actions from governments around the world. Instead the demand drop would take place even if major nations undertake no new climate policies, or reverse some previous commitments.

Is the Gates Foundation always a force for good?
The trend to involve business in addressing poverty and inequality is central to the priorities Gates Foundation. We argue that this is far from a neutral charitable strategy but instead an ideological commitment to promote neoliberal economic policies and corporate globalisation. Big business is directly benefitting, in particular in the fields of agriculture and health, as a result of the foundation’s activities, despite evidence to show that business solutions are not the most effective. Perhaps what is most striking about the Foundation is that despite its aggressive corporate strategy and extraordinary influence across governments, academics and the media, there is an absence of critical voices. 

Synopsis of the self-created tragedy that is unfolding in the US
  $ A few of the country’s richest inhabitants are spending billions to install political puppets in office — from city councils to the highest levels of government — who will do the bidding of the wealthy.
  $ The nation’s proud tradition of democratic elections is eroding as the country lurches toward plutocracy.
  $ Multinational corporations can spend as much as they want pushing politicians and policies that will make them even more profitable, creating a feedback loop of corporate corruption leading to more corporate power leading to more corporate corruption and on and on.
  $ Political candidates create shadowy groups to spend unlimited money attacking their opponents, and these groups don’t even have to disclose which billionaires and businesses are funding them.
  $ Judges on the country’s highest court have facilitated this corruption with rulings overturning a century of protections against control by the elite.
The nation is led by a say-anything, self-aggrandising faux populist leader guilty of nepotism, narcissism and nativism.
Synchronous failure: the emerging causal architecture of global crisis
Recent global crises, especially several that occurred simultaneously  in  2008-2009,  reveal  an  emerging  pattern of causation that will increasingly characterize the  progress  of  crises  in  the  future.  In  a  conceptual framework that consists of a set of linked propositions, we identify the deep causes, intermediate processes, and ultimate outcomes
of this pattern, which we call “synchronous failure”. Case studies of the 2008-2009 financial-energy and food-energy crises illustrate the framework. Crises have, of course,  regularly  punctuated  human  affairs  throughout history. However, when compared with the emerging pattern of crisis past crises were generally less global in scope. 

Paris climate pullout: is the worst yet to come?
Trump's announcement a year ago that he was withdrawing the US from the Paris climate agreement may have been the best and worst thing that could have happened to the deal, at the same time. The most important piece of good news, and it wasn't a foregone conclusion, is that other countries have stayed in and doubled down on their general determination not to walk away, not to let the US 'cancel' the agreement.

What is depression and why is it rising?
“It starts as sadness, then I feel myself shutting down, becoming less capable of coping. Eventually, I just feel numb and empty.” Argues for a physical rather than a mental cause.

Tropics facing $US 30 trillion infrastructure deficit by 2030
By the 2030s, the Tropics will be home to half of the world’s population where nearly 50% don’t have access to sanitation. About 70% of the global infrastructure gap occurs in the Tropics. About US$2.3 trillion needs to be spent every year to meet infrastructure needs and US$30 trillion will need to be spent by 2030 to close the gap between the tropics and the rest of the world in areas such as sanitation, electricity, transport, telecommunications, water and sanitation. Now the UN has declared June 29th as International Day of the Tropics.

Autopsy reveals dead pilot whale had 80 plastic bags in its stomach
The whale spat out five plastic bags on Friday and later died, "This plastic rubbish made the whale sick and unable to hunt for food. It could not eat and struggled to swim and breathe. This was in Thailand. Globally, eight million tonnes of plastic – bottles, packaging and other waste – are dumped into the ocean every year, killing marine life and entering the human food chain, 83% of water samples from more than a dozen nations were contaminated with plastic fibres. 

Everglades under threat as Florida's mangroves face death by rising sea level
The ‘river of grass’ wilderness and coastal communities are in peril, with the buffer coastal ecosystems on a ‘death march’ inland. “The outlook is pretty grim. What’s mind boggling is that we are facing the inundation of south Florida this century.”
How sea-level rise threatens Trump's Florida resorts 
Mar-a-Lago. Trump National Doral Miami. Trump Palace. Trump Royale. Trump International Beach Resort Miami. Trump Hollywood. These Trump-owned or Trump-branded properties are in south Florida and all could be underwater as NOAA predicts that the sea level will rise in south Florida by as much as 34" within 30 years. 

Recycling is suffering from system failure
Prices for scrap paper and plastic have collapsed, leading local officials across the country to charge residents more to collect recyclables and send some to landfills. Used newspapers, cardboard boxes and plastic bottles are piling up at plants that can’t make a profit processing them for export or domestic markets. It all worked for a while as much of the recycling was shipped to China, where cheap labor made it possible to separate the pizza-covered boxes from the clean cardboard, but the government won’t let them do that anymore. So mixed paper that used to sell for $150 a ton now sells for $5. So instead, much of it is going to landfill.

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