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Carbon 0606wrpOne metric ton of carbon dioxide gas. (Photo: Carbon Visuals / Flickr)


A groundbreaking study by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) is the first to map a pathway to limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels without relying on negative emissions technologies that suck carbon dioxide from the the atmosphere, an IIASA press release reported.

Instead, the study published Monday in Nature Energy found that the more ambitious Paris agreement target can be reached through innovations in the energy efficiency of daily activities. Changes to heating, cooling, transport, appliances and technological devices could both limit climate change and meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals to improve quality of life in the global South, the study found.

"Our analysis shows how a range of new social, behavioral and technological innovations, combined with strong policy support for energy efficiency and low-carbon development can help reverse the historical trajectory of ever-rising energy demand," IIASA acting program director and lead study author Arnulf Grubler said in the press release.

Published in Guest Commentary
Wednesday, 06 June 2018 07:13

Volkswagen Bans Testing on Animals

Ape 0606wrp(Photo: Smithsonian's National Zoo / Flickr)


German carmaker Volkswagen said it will stop animal testing after coming under intense public condemnation for financing experiments on the effects of diesel exhaust on monkeys.

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess made the vow in a letter sent to the German branch of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

PETA publicized the announcement on Monday. The animal rights group said Volkswagen will "never again use animals in testing unless required to do so by law" and will include the new ban in company's code of conduct that will be updated later this year.

Published in Guest Commentary

Mill 0604wrp(Photo: Bryan Geonzon / Flickr)


Ten years after the recession, most Americans, including Baby Boomers, are still struggling with finances. The Wall Street Journal, cheerleader for capitalist-driven recoveries, noted that Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Boomers are all still poorer than in 2007. But the incredible prosperity of about 10% of the Boomers is beyond dispute, as the numbers below will show. Most of those lucky people are older white males.

Booming Economy? Yes, for the Richest 10%, Who Took 85 Percent of the New Wealth

In the past eight years, the 1% gained $6.75 million each, the 2-10% gained $700,000 each, and the poorest 50% of American adults LOST an average of $3,000 each. The bottom 50%, which includes most of the indebted Millennials, saw their average net worth fall to about $8,000. That's the average wealth of people in many developing nations. Part of the reason is the refusal by employers to pay a living wage. The wages of America's poorest 50% have remained stagnant since the recession, continuing a 40 year trend.

Published in Guest Commentary

Jesus 0604wrp(Photo: Secret Sinai / Flickr)


A 28-year old associate pastor with the First Baptist Church of Palo Alto, California, has righteously called out hypocrisy of liberals in Silicon Valley. Pastor Gregory Stevens held nothing back in a series of tweets: "Palo Alto is an elitist shit den of hate," Stevens wrote, in one tweet. "Any church that's not explicitly anti-capitalist isn't a church. It's a social club," he wrote in another.

Those tweets – which surfaced ahead of a city council meeting -- were followed soon after by his resignation, which was then followed by Pastor Stevens getting a smidgeon of Roseanne Barr/Samantha Bee-like national attention.

Stevens has an interesting story. He grew up in a conservative Christian family in Florida. He also grew up gay. As The Atlantic's Alana Semuels recently reported: "After finishing seminary at the progressive Claremont School of Theology, in Southern California, Stevens got a job as a pastor in Palo Alto, one of the wealthiest communities in the country, where the median family income is around $163,000 and the median home price is over $3 million."

Perhaps naïve, Stevens expected that wealthy liberals in Silicon Valley gave more then lip service to the issues they cared about. He certainly did his part to get community youths involved in activism. According to Semuels, Stevens "created a chapter of the Food Not Bombs meal-share group, planted a Black Lives Matter sign in the church's yard (it was promptly stolen), and set about preaching what he believed: that to truly help eradicate inequality, people needed to rethink capitalism."

Published in Guest Commentary

Opioid 0530wrp(Photo: Penn State / Flickr)


A surprising finding from the waters of Seattle's Puget Sound reveals that the opioid epidemic devastating human communities in the U.S. could be harming marine life as well.

Every two years, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) transplants bay mussels raised in clean waters in Whidbey Island, WA to locations around Puget Sound in order to monitor pollution levels in the water. Since mussels are filter feeders, area scientists can get a good idea of what contaminants are present in the environment by examining which have built up in the mussels' tissue after two to three months of exposure.

This year, for the first time, one of those contaminants was oxycodone.

Published in Guest Commentary

Wind 0530wrpWind farm at sea. (Photo: David Hill / Flickr)


The world's most powerful wind turbines have been successfully installed at the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) off Aberdeen Bay in Scotland's North Sea.

The final turbine was installed on Saturday just nine weeks after the first foundation for the 11-turbine offshore wind farm was deployed, according to the developers Vattenfall.

Incidentally, the project was at the center of a contentious legal battle waged—and lost—by Donald Trump, before he became U.S. president. Trump felt the "ugly" wind turbines would ruin the view of his Menie golf resort.

Published in Guest Commentary

Education 0525wrp(Photo: Alan Levine / Flickr)


As a Black woman growing up in predominantly white neighborhoods and schools in Dallas, one of the most segregated cities in the US, I have since spent my professional life working to increase access to educational and economic resources for marginalized Black communities.

In that process, I've intimately experienced the symbiotic relationship between the systemic oppression of Black communities and the concentration of power -- including financial, political and social capital -- in predominantly white communities.

As managing director of Early Matters Dallas -- a program engaging stakeholders including parents, community business and philanthropic leaders to increase access to better early childhood outcomes -- I have learned that power, when used competently, expands. It is a false assumption that power is forever limited as a rule and not a fluid commodity.

Published in Guest Commentary


Yemen 0523wrp optA malnourished little girl with her mother in Yemen. (Photo: lastextremeanonymous / Flickr)On May 10, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia informed the UN Security Council and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that Saudi Air Defenses intercepted two Houthi ballistic missiles launched from inside Yemeni territory targeting densely populated civilian areas in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. No one was killed, but an earlier attack, on March 26, 2018, killed one Egyptian worker in Riyadh and an April 28 attack killed a Saudi man.

Unlike the unnumbered victims of the Saudis' own ongoing bombardment of Yemen, these two precious, irreplaceable lives are easy to document and count. Death tolls have become notoriously difficult to count accurately in Yemen. Three years of U.S.-supported blockades and bombardments have plunged the country into immiseration and chaos.

In their May 10th request, the Saudis asked the UN to implement "all relevant Security Council resolutions in order to prevent the smuggling of additional weapons to the Houthis, and to hold violators of the arms embargo accountable." The letter accuses Iran of furnishing the Houthi militias with stockpiles of ballistic missiles, UAVs and sea mines. The Saudis' letter omits mention of massive U.S. weapons exports to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Published in Guest Commentary


Wealth 0523wrp opt(Photo: TMAB2003 / Flickr)In the fierce labor wars of the last century, industrial barons employed Pinkertons and other goons to bloody the heads of laborers or simply gun down those struggling for a share of economic and political power. It was brutal, but organized workers persevered and eventually gained a share of economic and political power. From their sweat and blood, America's middle class flowered.

Today, the bands of nouveau corporate royalists (with coats of arms bearing such names as Mercer, DeVos and Koch) are determined to take back those middle-class gains of yesteryear. They are working to achieve this through a coordinated, long-term campaign to crush the ability of working people to unionize, bust America's middle-class wage structure, eliminate job security and emasculate government as a force capable of controlling corporate avarice and arrogance.

These latter-day royalists are employing a more sophisticated thuggery than brute force (though don't think they wouldn't resort to it). Instead, their goons are more likely to be in Gucci than brogans, using dollars and computers rather than clubs and guns. They have been recruiting, financing, training, deploying and coordinating thousands of political operatives to work through hundreds of front groups, law firms, think tanks, PACs, lobbying offices, media and PR consortiums, faux academic centers, astroturf campaigns and, of course , compliant politicians.

Published in Guest Commentary


Meat 0521wrp optMeat mural. (Photo: b.ug / Flickr)Missouri state lawmakers passed an omnibus agriculture bill on Thursday that includes a provision prohibiting plant-based products from being labeled as "meat."

This measure would ban companies from using the term "plant-based meat" to describe their products. It would also prevent any future lab-grown products that hit the market from using the labeling.

The change was approved on a 125-22 vote and was backed by the state's pork producers, the Missouri Farm Bureau and the Missouri Cattlemen's Association, the St. Louis Dispatch reported.

Critics see the act as an attempt from the beef lobby to clamp down on the $5 billion "fake" meat industry, which has boomed from the public's increasing appetite for healthier, more humane and environmentally sustainable food products.

Published in Guest Commentary
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