BBC Program on Fracking, featuring Professor Iain Stewart.

ReBlogged from Lack of Environment: http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/my-final-word-on-fracking/#respond

iain_stewart

Professor Iain Stewart

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Letter written to Professor Stewart by Lack of Environment, author Martin Lack: http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/my-final-word-on-fracking/#respond

Herewith appended below is an email I sent today to Professor Iain Stewart (and copied to all those named in it).

Dear Professor Stewart,

I wanted to express my appreciation for the sensitive way in which you handled the issues in last night’s Horizon programme and for all the facts, figures and research findings it contained.  I was particularly interested in the evidence that shale gas has escaped from poorly-constructed wells in the USA.  Even if the UK can improve on the 6 to 7% failure rate in the USA, 100% success (i.e. no failures) is highly improbable.  Therefore, if fracking must be pursued (for whatever reason), this would make it imperative that the BGS establish baseline monitoring for methane as soon as possible. Would it be possible to get a copy of the transcript of the programme (or a list of References)?

Given my geological background and my MA in Environmental Politics, I have written a great deal about Fracking and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) on my blog.  However, having started out very much opposed to both Fracking and CCS, my position has evolved as a consequence of ‘exchanges of views’ I had last year with Professor Peter Styles (Keele) and with Professor Robert Mair (Cambridge/Royal Society).  As a result of these exchanges – summarised or linked to here on my blog – I would agree with Peter that we probably need shale gas.  However, I believe Peter also agrees with me that we probably cannot afford it*.  I also understand that the remit of the Royal Society specifically excluded the long-term sustainability implications of pursuing fracking.

Nevertheless, this leaves me wondering whether you could encourage the BBC to do a second programme to address the consequences of humans burning all the Earth’s fossil fuels simply because they are there; and/or the need for ‘Western’ per capita energy consumption to be drastically reduced?  Having read David MacKay’s book, Sustainable Energy: Without The Hot Air, I think our biggest problem is that most people do not think holistically about the problems we face or, even worse, they seem to think concepts such as ‘ecological carrying capacity’ are just eco-Marxist propaganda.  However, although it would seem that CCS is now going to be essential in order to minimise anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD), I think it is also the biggest obstacle to getting politicians to take decisive action to decarbonise our power generation systems.

Even if such a second Horizon programme is not likely, I remain very appreciative of all you have done – and are doing – to raise the profile of ACD as an Earth Science issue that should be of concern to all.

Kind regards, [etc]

ReBlogged from Lack of Environment: http://lackofenvironment.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/my-final-word-on-fracking/#respond

* If fracking becomes the new energy boom, it is very hard to see how CCS will ever be able to be rolled-out on a global scale to keep pace with unabated CO2 emissions.

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World Bank: What Climate Change Means for Africa, Asia and the Coastal Poor

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A new climate report looks at likely impacts of present day, 2°C, and 4°C warming across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and South East Asia.
  • It describes the risks to agriculture and livelihood security in Sub-Saharan Africa; the rise in sea-level, loss of coral reefs and devastation to coastal areas likely in South East Asia; and the fluctuating water resources in South Asia.
  • Turn Down the Heat warns that poor communities will be the most vulnerable to climate change.

As the coastal cities of Africa and Asia expand, many of their poorest residents are being pushed to the edges of livable land and into the most dangerous zones for climate change. Their informal settlements cling to riverbanks and cluster in low-lying areas with poor drainage, few public services, and no protection from storm surges, sea-level rise, and flooding.

These communities – the poor in coastal cities and on low-lying islands – are among the world’s most vulnerable to climate change and the least able to marshal the resources to adapt, a new report finds. They face a world where climate change will increasingly threaten the food supplies of Sub-Saharan Africa and the farm fields and water resources of South Asia and South East Asia within the next three decades, while extreme weather puts their homes and lives at risk.

A new scientific report commissioned by the World Bank and released on June 19 explores the risks to lives and livelihoods in these three highly vulnerable regions. Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience (Read it in IssuuScribdOpen Knowledge Repository) takes the climate discussion to the next level, building on a 2012 World Bank report that concluded from a global perspective that without a clear mitigation strategy and effort, the world is headed for average temperatures 4 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times by the end of this century.

Small number, big problem

Communities around the world are already feeling the impacts of climate change today, with the planet only 0.8 ºC warmer than in pre-industrial times. Many of us could experience the harsher impacts of a 2ºC warmer world within our lifetimes – 20 to 30 years from now – and  4ºC is likely by the end of the century without global action.

The report lays out what these temperature increases will look like, degree-by-degree, in each targeted region and the damage anticipated for agricultural production, coastal cities, and water resources.

“The scientists tell us that if the world warms by 2°C – warming which may be reached in 20 to 30 years – that will cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat-waves, and more intense cyclones,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “In the near-term, climate change, which is already unfolding, could batter the slums even more and greatly harm the lives and the hopes of individuals and families who have had little hand in raising the Earth’s temperature.”

The report, based on scientific analysis by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics, uses advanced computer simulations to paint the clearest picture of each region’s vulnerabilities. It describes the risks to agriculture and livelihood security in Sub-Saharan Africa; the rise in sea-level, loss of coral reefs and devastation to coastal areas likely in South East Asia; and the fluctuating water resources in South Asia that can lead to flooding in some areas and water scarcity in others, as well as affecting power supply.

“The second phase of this report truly reiterates our need to bring global attention to the tasks necessary to hold warming to 2ºC,” said Rachel Kyte, the Bank’s vice president for sustainable development. “Our ideas at the World Bank have already been put into practice as we move forward to assist those whose lives are particularly affected by extreme weather events.”

Open Quotes

The scientists tell us that if the world warms by 2°C – warming which may be reached in 20 to 30 years – that will cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat-waves, and more intense cyclones. Close Quotes

Jim Yong Kim
President, World Bank Group

State Terrorism–Arbitrary Killings, Rape, Torture, and Destruction of Property by Graham Peebles

CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY by Friend Nature
Ethiopian military currently uses RAPE as a weapon. Suspected chemical warfare has influenced President Obama in his decision to provide arms to Syria; systematic RAPE by the military in Ethiopia, used as a war tactic, must be considered by President Obama as a CHRIME AGAINST HUMANITY.

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Excerpt from the article by Graham Peebles:
With the international media banned by the Ethiopian government since 2007 and with an economic and aid embargo being enforced the region is totally isolated, making gathering information about the situation within the five affected districts difficult. I recently spent a week in Dadaab where I met dozens of refugees from the Ogaden; men, women and children who repeatedly relayed accounts of murder, rape, torture and intimidation at the hands of government forces. Accounts that if true, – and we have no reason to doubt them, confirm reports from, among others – Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Genocide Watch – who make clear their view, that the Ethiopian government has “initiated a genocidal campaign against the Ogaden Somali population”, constituting “war crimes and crimes against humanity”.

 

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Ethiopian troops in Gereida (South Darfur)

Ethiopian troops in Gereida (South Darfur) (Photo credit: UNAMID Photo)

Dandelion Salad

Warning

This article may contain language depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be read by a mature audience.

by Graham Peebles
Writer, Dandelion Salad
London
June 6, 2013

The Ethiopian military and paramilitary forces, operating in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, are, it is alleged, carrying out extra judicial killings and gang rapes; falsely arresting and torturing innocent civilians; looting and destroying villages and crops in a systematic attempt to terrify the people. This is the consistent message coming out of the region and from those who have fled persecution and are now in the world’s largest refugee camp, in Dadaab, Kenya.

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Bill Moyers, Lawrence Lessig on Government Spying, Big Brother’s Prying Eyes

Full Show: Big Brother’s Prying Eyes

June 14, 2013

Whatever your take on the recent revelations about government spying on our phone calls and Internet activity, there’s no denying that Big Brother is bigger and less brotherly than we thought. What’s the resulting cost to our privacy — and more so, our democracy? Lawrence Lessig, professor of law and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University and founder of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society, discusses the implications of our government’s actions, Edward Snowden’s role in leaking the information, and steps we must take to better protect our privacy.

“Snowden describes agents having the authority to pick and choose who they’re going to be following on the basis of their hunch about what makes sense and what doesn’t make sense. This is the worst of both worlds. We have a technology now that gives them access to everything, but a culture if again it’s true that encourages them to be as wide ranging as they can,” Lessig tells Bill. “The question is — are there protections or controls or counter technologies to make sure that when the government gets access to this information they can’t misuse it in all the ways that, you know, anybody who remembers Nixon believes and fears governments might use?”

Few are as knowledgeable about the impact of the Internet on our public and private lives as Lessig, who argues that government needs to protect American rights with the same determination and technological sophistication it uses to invade our privacy and root out terrorists.

“If we don’t have technical measures in place to protect against misuse, this is just a trove of potential misuse…We’ve got to think about the technology as a protector of liberty too. And the government should be implementing technologies to protect our liberties,” Lessig says. “Because if they don’t, we don’t figure out how to build that protection into the technology, it won’t be there.”

“We should recognize in a world of terrorism the government’s going to be out there trying to protect us. But let’s make sure that they’re using tools or technology that also protects the privacy side of what they should be protecting.”

A former conservative who’s now a liberal, Lessig also knows that the caustic impact of money is another weapon capable of mortally wounding democracy. His recent book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress — and a Plan to Stop It, decries a pervasive “dependence corruption” in our government and politics that should sound a desperate alarm for both the Left and the Right. Here, Lessig outlines a radical approach to the problem that uses big money itself to reform big money-powered corruption.

Producer: Gail Ablow. Editor: Rob Kuhns.
Intro Producer: Robert Booth. Intro Editor: Paul Desjarlais.
Photographer: Alton Christensen.

Lawrence Lessig on Government Spying.

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Photo of Aaron Swartz and Lawrence Lessig at t...

Photo of Aaron Swartz and Lawrence Lessig at the launch party for Creative Commons at O’Reilly’s Emerging Technology Conference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

"Technology has exceeded our humanity"

“Technology has exceeded our humanity” (Photo credit: Toban B.)

The Transformation of Society

Who are we as a nation, and what ideals do we represent?
I know that our lives are so busy; family issues, job security, day-to-day survival; I recommend that we speak out while we still can. Will we be willing to trade our freedom’s for security from ‘terrorists’?

THE INTERNET POST

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Sign this Petition from Rep. Alan Grayson, Big Brother is Watching You!

Official portrait of NSA director Keith B. Ale...

Official portrait of NSA director Keith B. Alexander. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NSA Director Keith Alexander


Hey, Bro, Whassup?

Dear Reader

In George Orwell’s novel 1984, “Big Brother” is the dictator of Oceania. No one knows whether Big Brother is a real person, or simply the personification of the dictatorship. Big Brother spies on every citizen through “telescreens.” Everyone is reminded constantly, “Big Brother is Watching You.”

Let’s compare that to the recent revelations about the Orwellian-named National Security Agency (NSA), an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense. News reports in the Guardian and the Washington Post have uncovered a secret court order dated April 23, 2013, issued to Verizon. Verizon is the largest cell phone company in America. The court order requires Verizon to give to the NSA “all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls. ” “Call detail records” are records of who you called, when you called, and how long you spoke.

The court order in the news reports is classified, and it’s marked “Declassify on: April 12, 2038.”

There is no reason to think that the NSA singled out Verizon. So that implies that the NSA is collecting records of every telephone call that you and I make, even local telephone calls. In fact, Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who worked at the NSA, told reporters that he could get the records for the calls from the President’s own personal cell phone.

The NSA has not denied that it is collecting call records on every America. On the contrary, the NSA sees nothing wrong with it.

I see three fundamental problems with this:

  1. This is worse than the proverbial “fishing expedition”; this is like putting the entire ocean through a sieve. It makes a mockery of the Fourth Amendment’s requirement that government searches be “particular.”
  2. This assumes not only that everyone is guilty until proven innocent, but that everyone is guilty. The Fourth Amendment limits searches to cases of “probable cause,” meaning that a prudent and cautious person would reasonably believe that the search will yield evidence of a crime. Obviously, most phone records have absolutely nothing to do with the commission of any crime.
  3. Providing this information to the Department of Defense violates the fundamental principle that our military does not operate on American soil, against American citizens. That principle has been embodied in law since the 1870s. From this perspective, providing this personal call record information to DoD is no different from providing it to the CIA – another agency that is not allowed to operate on US soil.

The news reports also reprinted five pages from an NSA PowerPoint presentation about the NSA’s “Prism” program. According to that NSA presentation, the NSA collects information “directly from the servers of these U.S. Service Providers: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple.”“What information?”, you may wonder. This information, according to the NSA presentation: “E-mail, Chat-video, voice, Videos, Photos, Stored data, VoIP [Voice over Internet Protocol], File transfers, Video Conferencing, Notifications of target activity – logins, etc., Online Social Networking details [and] Special Requests.”

The PowerPoint presentation in the news reports is classified, and it’s marked “Declassify On: 20360901” (Meaning Sept. 1, 2036.)

The plain meaning of this, in the context of the presentation, is that the NSA is pulling unlimited amounts of e-mails from Microsoft’s hosted Hotmail accounts, e-mails from Google’s hosted Gmail accounts, search records from Google’s search servers, private “friend” communications from Facebook’s servers, the content of telephone calls from Skype’s VoIP service, etc., etc.

Regarding the Prism program, despite what the presentation specifically states, the NSA contends that it cannot actually collect information directly from the servers of all those internet service providers. The NSA also has put out that it collects such information (e-mails, photos, call content, etc.) only for foreigners not residing in the United States. Honestly, I don’t know how the NSA could do that in any reliable manner, because Google, Microsoft, Facebook and all the others have no way of knowing your citizenship or your residence. But that’s what the NSA is saying.

The bottom line is that the NSA evidently is getting call information on virtually every phone call by virtually every American, it is definitely getting the e-mails and call content of foreigners, and it may or may not be getting the e-mails and call content of Americans.

So is Uncle Sam actually Big Brother? I won’t dwell on the convoluted intimate relations that would be necessary to make your uncle also your brother. Rather, as noted above, the essence of Big Brother was that “Big Brother is Watching You.” Uncle Sam isn’t physically observing you at all times – that much is true. But if Uncle Sam is receiving information about every phone call that you make (as the NSA concedes), and Uncle Sam has access every other electronic communication of yours, including your e-mails and web browsing and storing it all (which the NSA disputes), then yes, Big Brother is Watching You.

I think that it’s wrong, and it has to end. As do the 13,000 people in 24 hours who signed the petition supporting our legislation at www.MindYourOwnBusinessAct.com. Because we can’t protect our freedom by destroying it.

I understand that there may be some people who see no problem in the Department of Defense monitoring their communications. I also understand that there are some people who have been so traumatized, so terrorized, by terrorism that they are willing to give up all of their freedom – all of everyone’s freedom – for the promise of some safety.

I am not one of those people.

Click here for freedom: http://MindYourOwnBusinessAct.com/

Courage,

Rep. Alan Grayson

“Ain’t the pictures enough, why do you go through so much,
To get the story you need, so you can bury me.
You’ve got the people confused. You tell the stories you choose.
You try to get me to lose the man I really am.

Michael Jackson, “Privacy” (2001).

P.S. I’ll say it again — Please, please, please forward this to your friends, and urge them to sign the petition. Twitter, Facebook, everywhere.

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Seal of the United States National Security Ag...

Seal of the United States National Security Agency, used between 1963 and 1966 before being replaced by the current seal. The NSA was formed in 1955, but did not have its own seal for several years. This seal was first used in February 1963, before being replaced in September 1966 with the seal used today. The NSA has no information on the origin or design of this seal. For more information, see here. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

big brother

big brother (Photo credit: Vince_Lamb)

Bill Moyers and Sheldon Wolin, 2008. Do we live in a Democracy?

Bill Moyers and Sheldon Wolin 2008  Video I

Bill Moyers and Sheldon Wolin 2008  Video II

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Wikipedia:

Wolin’s work addresses participatory democracy with primary focus on the United States.

He makes a distinction between democracy as system of governance

and any of the formal political institutions of the state.

In other words,

he decouples democracy from governance

and towards a political system based on democratic principles.

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Sheldon Wolin

Sheldon Wolin

Sheldon S. Wolin (born August 4, 1922) is an American political philosopher and writer

on contemporary politics.

He is currently Professor Emeritus at Princeton University.

His most famous work is Politics and Vision: Continuity and Innovation in Western Political Thought.

In 1950, Wolin received his Harvard University doctorate for a dissertation titled Conservatism and Constitutionalism:

A Study in English Constitutional Ideas, 1760–1785. After teaching briefly at Oberlin College,

Wolin taught at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1954 to 1970.

In a political science department that was largely composed of empirical studies of micro-political issues,

Wolin was a political theorist who managed to build that component of the program by bringing

Norman Jacobson, John Schaar, and Hanna Pitkin into the department.

He was a major supporter and interpreter to the rest of the world

of the theory behind the Free Speech Movement,

and he became a mentor to one of the FSM’s more prominent activists,

 Michael Lerner on whose Ph.D. committee he served.

He also published frequently for The New York Review of Books during the 1970s.

From 1973 through 1987, Wolin was Professor of Politics at Princeton University

where he mentored a large number of students

who have subsequently become leading figures in contemporary political theory,

including most notably: at Berkeley, Hanna Pitkin (Emeritus, Berkeley),

J. Peter Euben (Duke University) and Harlan Wilson (Oberlin), and at Princeton, Uday Mehta (Amherst College),

Wendy Brown(Berkeley), Frederick M. Dolan (Emeritus, Berkeley and California College of the Arts),

Dana Villa (Notre Dame), Nicholas Xenos (Massachusetts), Kirstie McClure (UCLA)

and Cornel West (Princeton).

At Princeton, Wolin led a successful faculty effort to pass a resolution urging university trustees

to divest from endowment investment in firms that supported South African apartheid.

Aside from Oberlin, UC Berkeley and Princeton,

Wolin has also taught at UC Santa Cruz, UC Los Angeles, International Christian University (Tokyo, Japan),

Cornell University, and Oxford University.

US President Lyndon Johnson (right) meets with...

US President Lyndon Johnson (right) meets with special assistant Bill Moyers in the Oval Office, White House, Washington, DC, 29 November, 1963. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)