A sobering new report from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) lays bare the consequences that capitalist globalization has wrought on the planet. Since 1970, their research calculates, global populations of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles plunged by 68 percent. Just two years ago in a previous report, that number was only 60 percent. Humans, it notes, are overusing Earth’s biocapacity by at least 56 percent.
The figures for the report were compiled by a worldwide team of 134 experts tracking 4,392 species of vertebrates, finding that species with larger bodies, often called “megafauna,” (e.g. Giant Panda, White Rhinoceros) were faring the worst. This was because they were less resilient to changes in the environment as they require larger and more complex habitats, reproducing more slowly and having fewer offspring.
Latin America and the Caribbean is the region of the world where the most precipitous drop in wildlife has occurred; a 94 percent reduction since 1970. President Bolsonaro of Brazil, where most of the Amazon rainforest is located, is a leader in this charge, vowing in 2017 that under his premiership, not one inch of the Amazon would be left for indigenous groups to live in. In Africa there was a recorded drop of 65 percent, the Asia Pacific region lost 45 percent of its wildlife. Europe and North America were the regions with the least catastrophic animal population reductions, at 24 and 33 percent respectively.
The reasons for the current mass extinction were also laid out. Changes in land and sea use, as humanity continually expands its domain, were the primary factor. But others, including species overexploitation by humans, the arrival of invasive species, pollution, and global warming were also key factors. Thus, humanity, and in particular the growth-obsessed capitalist system we live under, is overwhelmingly responsible for the crisis. The report, for WWF International Director General Marco Lamberini, “underlines how humanity’s increasing destruction of nature is having catastrophic impacts not only on wildlife populations but also on human health and all aspects of our lives.”
It's our home and we are destroying it. There's no other way to put it. We are destroying our own home. And even if there end up being other 'neighborhoods' in space that are livable, that doesn't excuse what we're doing and I'd be afraid that if we found a new planet, we wouldn't have learned a damn thing from the destruction we've already created.
Recent science missions and results are bringing the search for life closer to home, and scientists at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) and the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) may have figured out how to determine whether life is—or was—lurking deep beneath the surface of Mars, the Moon, and other rocky objects in the universe. While the search for life typically focuses on water found on the surface and in the atmosphere of objects, Dr. Avi Loeb, Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard and CfA astronomer, and Dr. Manasvi Lingam, assistant professor of astrobiology at FIT and CfA astronomer, suggest that the absence of surface water doesn't preclude the potential for life elsewhere on a rocky object, like deep in the subsurface biosphere.
"We examined whether conditions amenable to life could exist deep underneath the surface of rocky objects like the Moon or Mars at some point in their histories and how scientists might go about searching for traces of past subsurface life on these objects," said Lingam, the lead author on the research. "We know that these searches will be technically challenging, but not impossible."
One challenge for researchers was determining the potential for the existence of water where there appears to be none. "Surface water requires an atmosphere to maintain a finite pressure, without which liquid water cannot exist. However, when one moves to deeper regions, the upper layers exert pressure and thus permit the existence of liquid water in principle," said Lingam. "For instance, Mars does not currently have any longstanding bodies of water on its surface, but it is known to have subsurface lakes."
It would be interesting to find life on Mars. But that's not going to fix our problems here on Earth. We have to get our act together.
Wednesday, September 23, 2020. In the US the Ruth Bader Ginsburg press releases continue to pass for news (and for informed discussion), Iraq faces multiple crises, and much more.
The stupidity never ends. Faux feminist Jill Filipovic wants you to know that if US President Donald Trump nominates Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court it will be an insult -- excuse me, an ultimate insult -- to Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Ruth's dead, honey, she can't be insulted now. She can't even sue for defamation -- nor can her family on her behalf -- that's what dead means, dear.
Maybe you should go back to posting your bikini pictures -- like you did back when everyone was protesting the Iraq War and your spoiled ass was off on an international vacation? Most people finishing law school 'celebrate' by getting a job.
Ruth's death has led to a lot of lunacy.
I guess we should be glad Jill cares about the feelings of dead women. As she demonstrated as one woman after another came forward to speak of Joe Biden's uncomfortable touching and as she demonstrated when Tara Reade laid out her credible case that Joe assaulted her, Jill doesn't care about the feelings of women who are still alive.
Ruth is dead. And from the grave we get a message via her granddaughter. Clara Spera is in the media explaining what Ruth thought and wanted to BBC. "My most fervent wish," she dictated to Clara who dutifully typed it up, "is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."
There is so much wrong with that statement. Let's deal with most basic first. So by her words, if Donald Trump is re-elected, a spot would remain vacant on the Court? Donald Trump is the current president, he can't be a new president, even if he's re-elected. Ruth's mind really was going at the end, wasn't it?
Clara also wants the world to know that Ruth is proud of her efforts to keep politics out of the Supreme Court. Those efforts apparently are waived with a dying wish? Actually, they were waived long before and that's what makes the centrist judge so very sad. She has no ethics to point to. She ignored Palestinians, she sided with killer cops over the families of their victims, she did so much that was so wrong. But, hey, she gave us gals the right to vote!!! No, she was old, but not that old. She gave women a place in the corporate world. She didn't expand any rights beyond what corporate America was already doing in their businesses.
But, Clara, your grandmother did talk about issues that were winding their way up the legal system, that she knew would arrive at the Supreme Court. And that's called: a no-no.
She also felt the need to publicly weigh in on Donald Trump's presidential candidacy in 2015. That's both a no-no and it is obvioulsy political.
Again, the brain was clearly going at the end.
She has no regrets, Clara wants you to know, regarding not stepping down when Barack Obama was president and could have appointed her successor.
I believe she currently has no regrets about that because, again, she's dead.
The American citizens are not dead.
And the wants and desires of RBG don't mean a thing and shouldn't.
Someone needs to tell Clara -- and any idiot clutching the pearls over Ruth's dying wishes -- that Ruth was a Supreme Court Justice, she was not the queen. Meaning that seat was there before her and it will go on without her. It was not her 'right' to serve, it was her privilege. And dead or alive, she doesn't get to dictate who fills that seat. She didn't own it. She occupied it for a brief time and now it's going to be filled.
Should Donald Trump nominate someone to fill the spot? According to RBG's earlier words, yes. You don't need four-four decisions in the Court.
He has the Constitutional right to nominate someone and I'm sure he will nominate someone (the press says by Friday he will nominate Barrett). The Senate has to confirm the nominee. Should they confirm her? If they find her qualified, then, yes, they should.
That's how the system works. You want to change it? Let's have that conversation. But stop the bulls**t about, "Bubbie wants . . .' First off, every time you invoke that Yiddish word, it just reminds us that RGB was anti-Palestinian. Not a good look. Second, it's not about your dead grandmother. It's about the nation. Stop trying to personalize this with an idiot who was too stupid to step down and, according to her granddaughter, too stupid to realize at the end that she should have stepped down.
Stop making excuses for the powerful. Poor women don't live as long as Ruth in the US -- a point we made in "Ruth Badger Ginsburg (Ava and C.I.)." Her estimated wealth was over $25 million. She was not One Of The People. Stop pretending that she was. She was denied certain opportunities as a young woman and her only cause was to make sure those opportunities she was denied would be open in the future. Grasp that. She was a reactionary. She did not expand the rights of women beyond what she herself had experienced all those years ago.
Sainted Ruth was a woman too stupid, when the latest round of cancer started in 2009, to resign. Sainted Ruth's ego was too big then and too big at the end to admit she made a mistake. In her final days, she offers a feeble plea for Donald not to appoint her successor. She's a joke and she's a hypocrite. It's the president job, as she herself noted when Barack was president, to nominate people to fill empty slots on the Court.
She knew she made a mistake not retiring, that's why she made that idiotic (and unconstitutional) plea.
Everybody needs to grow the hell up and learn a hard lesson: We need a mandatory retirement for the Supreme Court. Ruth demonstrates that they do not care enough about the American people to step down when they are clearly incapacitated. We don't need to experience this again.
Because of Ruth and her ego, we may get another Donald Trump appointee on the Court. That's not something I'm happy about. But it is what it is and the only thing we can do is learn from it. The beatification of RBG has gone on long enough. Serious critiques should have already been appearing. Instead, we want to jolly her and make her one of the people. If you're worth over $25 million, you're not one of the people. She did a lousy job at the end creating all these new problems for the Court -- when some right winger on the Court is weighing on a Democratic Party presidential candidate, you better believe we on the left will be outraged. And we shouldn't look the other way just because it's 'our' blessed Ruth.
No where in the Constitution does it tell you that you get to have it your way. That was a Burger King commercial, not a Constitutional amendment. Even the Declaration of Independence only promises you "the pursuit of happiness."
This isn't a good moment. But denying reality is not going to make it a better one. We need to learn from this and we need to demand that Justices stop dying of natural causes in office because they're egos are far too grand for them to contemplate doing the right thing and retiring.
Had she stepped down in 2009, we would not be in the mess we are in. This is on Ruth.
And we'll note this Tweet from Ajamu Baraka:
Turning to Iraq, Hardi Mohammed (RUDAW) reports:
Kurdish political parties warned of continued efforts to revive Saddam
Hussein era's Arabization policy in the disputed province of Kirkuk at a
press conference on Sunday.
"Until now, we have not let one single span of territory be invaded in Kirkuk," Mohammed Osman, a top Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) official in Kirkuk, claimed to Rudaw on Sunday after a meeting between the parties. The official warned, however, that efforts to revive the notorious process are present in the province
The parties last met nine months ago, during which they set up a committee to report Arabization efforts, Osman said, adding that the president of Iraq was also party to the committee. He said the coronavirus pandemic forced them to suspend their work, but at Sunday's meeting, they decided to reactivate the committee.
A concerted effort under former President Saddam Hussein mostly between 1970 and 1978 brought Arabs from elsewhere in Iraq to the disputed areas of Kirkuk. After 2003, however, Iraq began a policy of de-Arabization to reverse the demographic changes.
Within the framework of Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, these lands were returned to the previous Kurdish inhabitants. But since the 2017 retaking of Kirkuk by the Iraqi forces, there have been reports of Arab settlers reclaiming these lands.
Brookings used to talk about this issue and how Kirkuk was a hot spot. They gave up long ago. But the issue was supposed to have been resolved during Nouri al-Maliki's first term as prime minister. The Iraqi Constitution mandated that it be resolved by 2007. Nouri blew it off as did others. It's 13 years after the Constitutional mandate and it has still not been resolved. Kirkuk is rich with oil and that is one of the reasons that both the KRG and the Baghdad-based government in Iraq want to take control of it.
Iraq is facing many critical issues. For example, like the rest of the world, Iraq is dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. ARAB WEEKLY notes one action the Iraqi government is taking as a result of the pandemic, "Iraq is to bar entry to religious pilgrims to the country, its government health committee said in a statement on Monday, just weeks ahead of a Shia Muslim pilgrimage which is the largest annual religious gathering in the world. Arbaeen, due in early October, usually draws millions of people to the holy city of Karbala." The numbers continue to mount in Iraq. Hiwa Shilani (KURDISTAN 24) reports, "Iraqi health officials announced 4,724 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday as well as 57 fatalities over the previous 24 hours."
Those are only two issues. There are many more that need addressing. Kira Walker (WORLD POLITICAL REVIEW) notes:
The many ongoing challenges in Iraq -- from political upheaval and COVID-19 to plummeting oil prices and the resurgence of the Islamic State -- often overshadow the precarious state of the country’s water resources, even though water shortages are exacerbating many of those very issues. Studies have shown that equitable access to water is vital to supporting post-conflict recovery, sustainable development and lasting peace in Iraq, because water underpins public health, food production, agricultural livelihoods and power generation. But fresh water in Iraq is becoming scarcer, fueling more social tensions.
Iraq’s population of 40 million is expected to double by 2050, while the impacts of climate change—decreased and erratic precipitation, higher temperatures, prolonged and more severe droughts—will further aggravate its water woes. Iraqi and international experts are warning that instability will continue in Iraq so long as its long-neglected water crisis is not addressed.
When anti-government protests erupted last October, Iraqis’ demands for political and economic reforms and an end to corruption and foreign influence were accompanied by calls for better basic services, like water and electricity. During the protests, Humat Dijlah, a local NGO working to protect Iraq’s natural heritage, set up a tent in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square to link the right to fresh water with the broader struggle for human rights. Salman Khairalla, the organization’s executive director, says he and his colleagues wanted to encourage people to reflect on what Iraq’s future could look like with good water management, less pollution and more green space.
Yet the demonstrators’ efforts to create a better future for Iraqis were met with violent repression. More than 600 people were killed by security forces from October through January, according to Amnesty International. Others were arbitrarily detained or forcibly disappeared. “All human rights activists are at risk, including those fighting to protect environment and water,” Khairalla says in an interview.
Back to the US, Joseph Kishore is the SEP's candidate for US president. He has an upcoming event this Sunday.
The 2020 election is unlike any in American history.
Donald Trump, surrounded by fascist aides, is threatening to appeal to the military and neo-Nazi groups to keep himself in office by use of force, raising the specter of dictatorship. Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, whose unofficial campaign slogan is "nothing will fundamentally change," are more fearful of social opposition than anything else and are hostile to mobilizing masses of people to fight fascism. Instead, they are running a right-wing campaign aimed at portraying Trump as insufficiently bellicose toward Russia and China. Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and the Democratic Socialists of America fecklessly tag behind Biden.
The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic has reached 200,000 in the US and nearly 1 million worldwide. The response of both parties in the US has been to force workers back to work and students back to school to fuel big business and boost Wall Street. Strikes and protests against unsafe conditions at workplaces and schools are growing, coalescing with opposition to the never ending spate of police murders that witnessed the largest nationwide demonstrations in decades.
The working class needs political leadership. Joseph Kishore and Norissa Santa Cruz launched their presidential campaign to fight to develop a revolutionary socialist leadership in the working class. For this reason, federal judges, Democratic and Republican alike, have denied them access to appear on the ballot. At Sunday's meeting, Kishore and Santa Cruz will address the current political crisis and lay out the programmatic response of the Socialist Equality Party.
The following sites updated: