The research is the first to assess how the impacts of global warming could affect the quality of the diets available to people and found fewer fruit and vegetables would be available as a result of climatic changes. These are vital in curbing heart disease, strokes and diet-related cancers, leading the study to conclude that the health risks of climate change are far greater than thought.
Climate change is already judged by doctors as the greatest threat to health in the 21st century, due to floods, droughts and increased infectious diseases, with the potential to roll back 50 years of progress.
Since they've never been exposed before, people living in these areas will have zero protective immunity from the disease. As a result, malaria will be deadlier than ever.
In 2013, malaria infected more than 200 million people, killing about 630,000 (mostly in sub-Saharan Africa). Those numbers will likely rise quickly as areas close to the equator bear the brunt of the rise in heat.
Even after we adjust our lifestyles to accommodate a less hospitable planet, harsher conditions mean that far more of us can expect to develop mental illnesses, suffer from severe allergies, and contract infectious diseases. Many of us — our children or grandchildren — won't survive.
The Globalization of Environmental Degradation
The atmospheric gaseous mix is changing and altering the natural balance. This is in addition to the historical kinds of local and regional environmental degradation associated with human activity. When humans destroy watersheds with deforestation, turn fertile lands into deserts, and pollute local sources of water, they can move on. But when the global environment degrades, there is nowhere else to go.
From Paul Craig Roberts
Co-written by George Abert
Figuratively speaking, a ginormous asteroid is hurtling to a cataclysmic rendezvous with earth, but we are not supposed to notice. The asteroid is the rising threat from environmental degradation. Evidence is accumulating that environmental degradation is becoming global.
We can either act responsibly by accepting the challenge or take refuge in denial and risk the consequences.
There is nothing new about climate change. It has been ongoing for as long as earth has had an atmosphere. Through change, nature produced an atmosphere supportive of life. We know for a fact that human activities can have adverse impacts on the air, water, and land resources. If these impacts become global, as independent scientists believe, life on earth might be at risk.
We're in a state of perpetual crisis
Moreover, environmental degradation can contribute to, and be worsened by, other changes that are not under our control.
Presently humanity is challenged by three revolutions which collectively constitute a perpetual crisis: the technological revolution that is displacing humans in the production of goods and services, the volatility and instability of the global financial system, and environmental degradation. Our focus is on environmental degradation.
It's a matter of balance
The weight of the atmosphere, at 14.7 PSI, has remained relatively constant throughout much of earth's existence. What has varied is the makeup of the atmospheric gaseous mix. The mixes that existed prior to the current era would prove toxic to the contemporary biosphere. As the biosphere evolved over the hundreds of millions of years prior to the current era, the gaseous mix of the atmosphere and the biosphere came into perfect, or indeed as some might say, heavenly balance.
Indeed, our very existence as well as the existence of the biosphere depends on this balance. There is no question that human activities can affect this balance. Perhaps not enough that nature wouldn't eventually be able to reset the balance, but perhaps enough to end civilization before nature could correct the disturbance. While some are cavalierly dismissive, others have concluded that things are already so irreversibly out of balance that civilization as we know it will cease before the middle of this century.
Easter Island is an example of death by environmental degradation on a local level. When the island was first settled, it was covered by a forest. Soil analysis suggests that the natural environment was reasonably diverse and, absent human settlement, resilient enough to recover from natural disturbances that included volcanic eruptions. The humans that settled on Easter Island thrived until the population degraded the environment to the point that it could not support the population.
Tree removal was one of the activities that proved detrimental to the island's natural balance. As trees were removed, so too was the island's natural diversity and its ability to support human habitation. Many have wondered what Easter Islanders were thinking as they cut down the last tree.
Environmental degradation's role in the collapse of civilizations is well told in Jared Diamond's book, Collapse. At least two pre-Columbian empires fell to sudden environmental collapse. Environmental degradation even contributed to Rome's fall. Throughout history, empires and civilizations have collapsed once they degrade the environment below its capacity to carry the human footprint imposed on the environment.
Global warming introduces a difference. In the past environmental destruction was local or regional. But what is now underway appears to be global. It can take a long time to unbalance the biosphere, but once the line is crossed, collapse can be rapid and irreversible.
Global Warming a hoax?
Humans and animals convert oxygen to carbon-dioxide, and trees and plants convert carbon-dioxide to oxygen. It's a simple truth that burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric carbon-dioxide. Carbon-dioxide is one of several greenhouse gases so named because they contribute to atmospheric warming. The atmospheric carbon-dioxide molecular count has steadily increased since measurements were first made decades ago. Analysis of ice cores extracted from glaciers and polar ice indicate that carbon dioxide levels were never as high as they are now for millions of years prior to the Industrial Revolution. In addition, vast amounts of woodlands have been cleared, thus reducing the biosphere's capacity to absorb and process carbon-dioxide. For example, by 2030 it's predicted that just 40% of the Amazon rain forest, itself a massive percentage of the biosphere, will remain.
But carbon-dioxide isn't the only concern. In addition, vast amounts of methane, also known to be a potent greenhouse gas, are also being released into the atmosphere.
The oceans also contain gasses that, if released into the atmosphere, could prove toxic to the biosphere. The earth itself contains gasses, such as methane, which is routinely released into the atmosphere through coal and petroleum extraction operations. Animal farming adds more methane. Even larger amounts of methane are estimated to be locked up in polar ice. Based on recent measurements and observations, vast amounts of methane, estimated to be in excess of 10 times as much as is presently contained in the atmosphere, are predicted to be released in a sudden volcanic-like eruption as the ice melts. A sudden release of methane could cause the atmosphere to rapidly heat to a temperature where most agricultural activities, except perhaps for hydroponic operations housed in controlled environments, would cease.
The Pace is Quickening
From one day to the next it is difficult to discern changes in the environment. Yet those of us old enough to have been around for decades know that the weather has changed. Predictions made by scientists are being met sooner than expected. Carbon dioxide levels are increasing faster and glaciers and polar ice are melting faster. The release of methane locked in arctic ice could quicken environmental change so that it is noticeable in real time.
The simple truth is that the atmospheric gaseous mix is changing and altering the natural balance. This is in addition to the historical kinds of local and regional environmental degradation associated with human activity. When humans destroy watersheds with deforestation, turn fertile lands into deserts, and pollute local sources of water, they can move on. But when the global environment degrades, there is nowhere else to go.
As climate changes, so does the geographical location for the best crop yields. Climate change has produced a new occupation: climatologists who predict for Wall Street investment bankers the best geographical locations for the highest crop yields.
Environmental changes, even a temporary one such as a multi-year drought, can cause turmoil in societies that result in deadly conflict. During the three years that preceded the "Arab Spring" of 2011, the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean) suffered from an extended drought. In Syria as water became more scarce, the government favored the most loyal elements of the population. Crop failures in the unfavored regions prompted a migration to the cities and produced political unrest. The US used this unrest to intervene against the Assad government which had alienated the US by pursuing an independent foreign policy.
The global spread of corporate mono-culture agriculture and the global timber corporations' exploitation of the remaining virgin forests are spreading environmental fragilities. On Easter Island the population declined into disappearance.
Anthropocene Math in the Age of Trump
Humans Are Running Out of Time to Save the Climate -- Industrialized societies are changing the climate 170 times faster than natural forces
from Common Dreams by Nika Knight
"Regardless of alternative facts, fake news or scientific censorship, nature tells the truth."
As the Trump administration and Republicans in power in Congress set to work destroying
environmental regulations, scientists have added urgency to the resistance with a simple new equation that shows the staggering effect human activity has had on the climate.
Their findings? Humans have altered the climate 170 times faster than natural forces. In fact, the equation revealed that industrial societies pack the same climate punch as an asteroid strike.
Professor Will Steffen of the Australian National University and Owen Gaffney of the Stockholm Resilience Centre devised the "Anthropocene equation" and published their findings in The Anthropocene Review Friday.
The equation demonstrates that while natural forces dominated the climate for 4.5 billion years, in only the past six decades, humans have become the main drivers of climate change, as the Guardian notes.
Perhaps the researchers' most frightening conclusion was that at a time when top Trump aides refer to climate activism as a "threat," the equation shows that the actions of industrialized societies during the next several years may impact the planet for millenia to come.
Gaffney explained his and Steffen's findings in an op-ed in New Scientist on Friday:
Homo sapiens now rivals the great forces of nature. Humanity is a prime driver of change of the Earth system. Industrialized societies alter the planet on a scale equivalent to an asteroid impact. This is how the Anthropocene--the proposed new geological period in which human activity profoundly shapes the environment—is often described in soundbites.
But is it possible to formalize such statements mathematically? I think so, and believe doing this creates an unequivocal statement of the risks industrialized societies are taking at a time when action is vital.
Following the maxim of keeping everything as simple as possible, but not simpler, Will Steffen from the Australian National University and I drew up an Anthropocene equation by homing in on the rate of change of Earth's life support system: the atmosphere, oceans, forests and wetlands, waterways and ice sheets and fabulous diversity of life.
"For four billion years, the rate of change of the Earth system (E) has been a complex function of astronomical (A) and geophysical (G) forces plus internal dynamics (I): Earth's orbit around the sun, gravitational interactions with other planets, the sun’s heat output, colliding continents, volcanoes and evolution, among others," Gaffney added.
"The rate of change of the Earth system (E) over the last 40 to 50 years is a purely a function of industrialised societies (H)," writes Gaffney.
The equation warns of huge risks for human society, Gaffney argued, and that warning comes at a time when the U.S. government seems most prepared to ignore those risks entirely.
As author and journalist Cynthia Barnett observed in the Los Angeles Times: "Regardless of alternative facts, fake news or scientific censorship, nature tells the truth."
"While the rate of change of the Earth system needs to drop to zero as soon as possible, the next few years may determine the trajectory for millennia," wrote Gaffney. "Yet the dominant neoliberal economic systems still assume Holocene-like boundary conditions—endless resources on an infinite planet. Instead, we need 'biosphere positive' Anthropocene economics, where economic development stores carbon not releases it, enhances biodiversity not destroys it and purifies waters and soils not pollutes them."
"While it would seem imprudent to ignore the huge body of evidence pointing to profound risks, it comes at a challenging time geopolitically," Gaffney continued, "when both fact-based world views and even international cooperation are questioned. Nowhere has this been clearer than in the U.S. in recent weeks."
Wyoming's Lawmakers Might Outlaw Renewable Energy
Though it has some of the best on-shore wind resources the U.S., Wyoming Is by far the nation's largest coal producer.
By Lorraine Chow / EcoWatch
Solar panel technician with drill installing solar panels on roof
Republican lawmakers in Wyoming have introduced a bill that would block the use of renewable energy in the state. If passed, utilities that use wind or solar to produce power for Wyoming residents would be penalized with a costly fine of $10-per-megawatt-hour.
Under Senate File 71, only six resources—coal, hydroelectric, nuclear, oil, natural gas, and net metering systems such as rooftop solar or backyard wind projects—are considered "eligible" generating resources. Electric utilities will have one year to be 95 percent compliant with the approved resources and 100 percent compliant by 2019.
As InsideClimate News pointed out, the bill was filed last Tuesday on the first day of the Wyoming's 2017 legislative session. Its sponsors, who largely come from top coal counties, include climate change deniers such as Rep. Scott Clem who once said, "I don't believe that CO2 is a pollutant, and am furious of the EPA's overreach."
Wyoming is by far the nation's largest coal producer and a major producer of natural gas and crude oil. But the state also has some of the best on-shore wind resources the U.S., with wind power constituting 8 percent of the state's energy.
Still, Wyoming has waged a quasi-war on wind. Wyoming is the only state in the country that taxes wind energy production, and a proposed tax increase has effectively stalled a Wyoming power company's plans to build the largest wind farm in the country. Like most of the wind power already generated by the state, the power generated by the massive Carbon County wind farm will head to other states. While this new bill would allow out-of-state wind power sales to continue, it certainly discourages future renewable energy development.
"Wyoming is a great wind state and we produce a lot of wind energy," bill co-sponsor Rep. David Miller explained to InsideClimate News about the motivation behind the bill. "We also produce a lot of conventional energy, many times our needs. The electricity generated by coal is amongst the least expensive in the country. We want Wyoming residences to benefit from this inexpensive electrical generation."
"We do not want to be averaged into the other states that require a certain [percentage] of more expensive renewable energy," Miller continued.
Miller, however, is not confident the bill will pass, putting its chances at "50 percent or less." Still, Republicans overwhelmingly outnumber Democrats 51-9 in the state House and 27-3 in the Senate.
Opponents have called the bill "baffling," as renewable energy is becoming cheaper and out-performing fossil fuels on a large scale.
Why would [legislators] try to drag down solar and wind, two potentially successful industries that could make a home in the state?" editors at the Casper Star-Tribune asked, adding that the lawmakers are "shutting out potential sources of revenue."
Others have remarked that this law is completely unsound and even unprecedented.
"It would be very difficult to implement, difficult to regulate," Shannon Anderson, lawyer for the Powder River Basin Resource Council, told the Star-Tribune. "It goes against longstanding precedent to choose least-cost resources, and it ignores the reality of a multi-state grid."
Anderson also told told InsideClimate News, "I haven't seen anything like this before. This is essentially a reverse renewable energy standard."
Today in locations where multinational agribusiness has replaced traditional farming, it can take years for soils to regain their natural fertility and for the societies to regain their economic balance from the imbalance that agricultural mono-culture produces.
Environmental degradation can be destructive irrespective of global warming.
Throughout history, humans have degraded their environments to the point that their societies failed or were weakened to the point that they were conquered in whole or part by invaders.
However, global environmental failure can terminate life in general.
Environmental failure can result from ignorance, careless practices, and the short time horizon associated with profit maximization which encourages disposing of waste products directly into the environment where they damage, air, water, and land resources. When emissions alter the atmospheric balance, what has historically been local and regional damage becomes global.
In other words, human activities can put life in general at risk. This risk is too total to justify dismissing accumulated evidence as a hoax or as "a plot against capitalism." We must assess the risk without being shouted down by material interests. There is no prospect of finding a solution to an unacknowledged risk.
Just as Easter Islanders did not understand the consequences for them of deforestation, today many in government do not acknowledge the risks of global degradation. President Trump has appointed a climate change skeptic as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
This is not enough for US Rep. Matt Gaetz who wants the EPA abolished. Is humanity now globally on the same path and in the same denial as led to the extinction of human life on Easter Island?
Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente's Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His books, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here, and How America Was Lost, can be ordered here. His latest book, The Neoconservative Threat To International Order: Washington's Perilous War For Hegemony, can be ordered here.