University of Michigan Teach-In +50

Arctic Sea Ice Seasonal Max is Lowest Ever

From the BBC/Science

Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean has fallen to the lowest recorded level for the winter season, according to US scientists.

The maximum this year was 14.5 million sq km, said the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

This is the lowest since 1979, when satellite records began.

A recent study found that Arctic sea ice had thinned by 65% between 1975 and 2012.

Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics said: “The gradual disappearance of ice at the poles is having profound consequences for people, animals and plants in the polar regions, as well as around the world, through sea level rise.”

(NSIDC)

Ocean Plastics Still a Scourge

California Congressmen Mike Honda and Sam Farr, hosted a tech-event in Washington D.C. the other day hoping to get some push behind the growing plastics-in-the-oceans problem.  Everything from throw away plastic medical supplies to six-pack beer rings contribute to wildlife death and ecosystem disruption every year.  More plastics have been generated in the last twenty years than in the entire century that proceeded it. The Honda/Farr event was designed to showcase alternative solutions to those embedded in plastics.

Rob Chase, founder of NewGen Surgical in San Rafael, is designing products made from the waste of sugar-cane harvests for hospital emergency rooms, where disposable plastic medical devices are the norm

Kevin L’Heureux, president of Fishbone Packaging in Santa Clarita (Los Angeles County), showed a photo of a turtle whose girth was squeezed to the size of a soda can by the plastic six-pack ring that had ensnared it when young. He has designed a paper six-pack holder that can break down in a home composter.

An estimated 8.8 million metric tons of plastic are added to the oceans each year — or about five grocery bags full of plastic litter for every foot of coastline in the world — said University of Georgia environmental engineer Jenna Jambeck

Aug. 11, 2009. Scripps Institution of Oceanography .  A patch of sea garbage at sea in the Pacific Ocean. ( Mario Aguilera/ AP)

Aug. 11, 2009. Scripps Institution of Oceanography . A patch of sea garbage at sea in the Pacific Ocean. ( Mario Aguilera/ AP)

 

Global Hoaxing Threatening Florida

A new report by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting says that not only don’t the Governor and Senators believe in Global Warming, the entire state appartus has been ordered not to use the term.

“The state of Florida is the region most susceptible to the effects of global warming in this country, according to scientists. Sea-level rise alone threatens 30 percent of the state’s beaches over the next 85 years.

But you would not know that by talking to officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the state agency on the front lines of studying and planning for these changes.

DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

The policy goes beyond semantics and has affected reports, educational efforts and public policy in a department that has about 3,200 employees and $1.4 billion budget.

“We were told not to use the terms ‘climate change,’ ‘global warming’ or ‘sustainability,’ ” said Christopher Byrd, an attorney with the DEP’s Office of General Counsel in Tallahassee from 2008 to 2013. “That message was communicated to me and my colleagues by our superiors in the Office of General Counsel.”

FCIR | Korten

Forgotten Knowledge: Tokyo Firebombing, 100,000 In One Night

Firebombing of Tokyo, March 9, 1945

Firebombing of Tokyo, March 9, 1945

Seventy years ago, one-half of Tokyo (the size of New York City) was laid waste by a low level night time attack of 334 American B-29 Superfortresses.  Stripped of their guns and loaded with incendiary bombs the attack lasted over three hours.  The temperatures rose to one thousand degrees.  Over 100,000 died in wooden shanty-towns.  It was the first of a series of bombing raids that destroyed 64 Japanese cities, before the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs.

And this was in “the Good War.”

For more, see Eyewitness to History, the Asia Pacific Journal, Japan Air Raids, BBC, and more images (warning, some very graphic.)

Now that  62% of those polled (Quinnipiac) are calling for U.S. troops back in Iraq and Syria, is the time to publicly remember war and all its demons.

Feminists in Iran

During all the fear-mongering about Iran and repugnance at the position of women in fundamentalist Islam, it’s good to read that amazing changes, mostly unseen in the West, are happening for the women of Iran.  Here from a BBC report

The revolution, Farah says, was very good for women.

“The revolutionists supported women coming out of their homes to demonstrate. They used women to show their strength, but they never anticipated these women also believed in their right to exist outside the home,” Farah remembers.

… Iran’s genies were let out of the bottle. The same genies have gone on to become active members of theological schools and hold positions as judges and engineers. “I don’t care what they spread, radical or fundamental, whether I believe in it or not, they have a voice, it makes me happy,” Farah says proudly.

There’s no greater evidence of women in the workplace, than where we’re sitting [on the Tehran underground], surrounded by women on their way to work. It’s another outcome the Ayatollah hadn’t expected, but with Iran’s economy battered by the revolution, women had no choice but to join the workforce.

Iran and Women

“It forced men to acknowledge that their wives could go out and earn money,” Farah says. Growing up, Farah only remembers affluent families allowing girls to work outside the home. Now, she says, “Nearly all boys prefer to marry a girl who has a permanent job and good salary. Often the women work harder, and longer hours than their husbands, so they do more of the housework – cleaning and preparing meals.”

Much more, with photos….

Pizza Lovers — Watch Out!

Paul Krugman opens the eyes of the hungry today. Who would have known that there is an enormous Pizza Lobby, and it gives enormously to Republicans?

 

A recent Bloomberg report noted that major pizza companies have become intensely, aggressively partisan. Pizza Hut gives a remarkable 99 percent of its money to Republicans. Other industry players serve Democrats a somewhat larger slice of the pie (sorry, couldn’t help myself), but, over all, the politics of pizza these days resemble those of, say, coal or tobacco. And pizza partisanship tells you a lot about what is happening to American politics as a whole.

… some parts of the food industry have responded to pressure from government agencies and food activists by trying to offer healthier options, but the pizza sector has chosen instead to take a stand for the right to add extra cheese.

The rhetoric of this fight is familiar. The pizza lobby portrays itself as the defender of personal choice and personal responsibility. It’s up to the consumer, so the argument goes, to decide what he or she wants to eat, and we don’t need a nanny state telling us what to do.

… At one level, there is a clear correlation between lifestyles and partisan orientation: heavier states tend to vote Republican, and the G.O.P. lean is especially pronounced in what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call the “diabetes belt” of counties, mostly in the South, that suffer most from that particular health problem. Not coincidentally, officials from that region have led the pushback against efforts to make school lunches healthier.

m4s0n501

No Republicans at Selma March 50th Year Remembrance

None. Not one.

None of the top leaders — House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy or Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was once thought likely to attend to atone for reports that he once spoke before a white supremacist group — will be in Selma for the three-day event that commemorates the 1965 march and the violence that protesters faced at the hands of white police officers. A number of rank-and-file Republicans have been aggressively lobbying their colleagues to attend, and several black lawmakers concurred.

from Politico via Washington Post

March 21, 1965 file photo, Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights marchers cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., heading for the capital, Montgomery, during a five-day, 50-mile walk to protest voting laws.  (AP Photo/File)

March 21, 1965 file photo, Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights marchers cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., during a five-day, 50-mile walk to protest voting laws. (AP Photo/File)

$2.1 Trillion Withheld from Contributing to Nation’s Well Being

These corporate guys are like teenagers partying at what was once a nice location, tossing junk into the lakes, roaring up and down the roads, turning them into washboards and reading only beer can labels instead learning new and better ways of making the stuff of human nutrition.

Keep their profits off-shore, avoid taxes, contribute to the collapsing of the U.S. infrastructure and education of the young so that eventually the economic ecosystem that enabled their phenomenal growth collapses, and they along with it.

Eight of the biggest U.S. technology companies — including five from the Silicon Valley — added a combined $69 billion to their stockpiled offshore profits over the past year, even as some corporations in other industries felt pressure to bring cash back home.

Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc., Google Inc. and five other tech firms now account for more than a fifth of the $2.1 trillion in profits that U.S. companies are holding overseas, according to a Bloomberg News review of the securities filings of 304 corporations.

The total amount held outside the U.S. by the companies was up 8 percent from the previous year, though 58 companies reported smaller stockpiles.

There are mounting calls to bring back the military draft of young people so that “everyone has a stake” in the decisions to go to war or not.  I say, draft the corporations and the profits they make due not only to their own genius, hard work and good luck, but to the societal, legal and governmental structures that made it possible, and which all need on-going maintenance.  Take that away and the U.S. will soon look like an untended neighborhood, with abandoned houses, broken windows, listless residents and no way to find a way out.

Senator McConnell to the States: Ignore the Law, Do What you Want

From the NY Times:

Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and majority leader, is urging governors to defy President Obama by refusing to implement the administration’s global warming regulations.

… “It’s unprecedented that a leader in the Senate would call on states to disobey the law, which has been upheld many times by the Supreme Court,” said Senator Barbara Boxer of California, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Environment Committee. “I can’t recall a majority leader calling on states to disobey the law — and I’ve been here almost 24 years,” she said.

And if states follow his advice?

Historically, states that have refused to submit compliance plans for E.P.A. rules have been forced to follow standards crafted by the department’s officials in Washington. Former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, a longtime opponent of the department’s pollution regulations, for instance, refused to submit state-level plans for compliance to other rules. In the end, Texas businesses were eventually forced to comply with the federally imposed plan.

Whew! With leaders like these the trail leads straight to the cliffs…..