Planet Watch

IPCC: 'rapidly closing window' for humanity

The threat that climate change poses to human well-being and the health of the planet is "unequivocal," says the latest report from the United Nations  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The expansive review—which forms the second part of the IPCC's sixth assessment report (AR6)—warns that any further delay in global action to slow climate change and adapt to its impacts "will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all." 

Ukraine war's fallout on global wheat supplies

One knock-on effect of the war in Ukraine has been a jump in the global price of wheat—to its highest level since 2008. Russia and Ukraine account for a third of the world wheat supply, and Ukraine's most productive regions lie in the path of the conflict. If Ukrainian wheat is taken off the market, or ports are badly damaged, prices could possibly double. That would especially hurt the Middle East and North Africa—but also places as far afield as Bangladesh and Nigeria, which are major importers of Russian and Ukrainian wheat. The real test for the world supply will be the next harvest in four months' time. If Western sanctions target Russian production—or Moscow angrily responds to pressure by squeezing wheat supplies—then shortages could really bite, potentially worsening global huger.

Podcast: Nuclear power? No thanks!

In Episode 110 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg rants against the current greenwashing of nuclear power, and hype about a supposedly "safe" new generation of reactors. Every stage of the nuclear cycle is ecocidal and genocidal. Uranium mining has poisoned the lands of indigenous peoples from Navajo Country to Saskatchewan to West Africa. The ongoing functioning of nuclear plants entails routine emissions of radioactive gases, factored in by the bureaucrats in determining "acceptable" levels of cancer. Disposal of the waste, and the retired reactor sites themselves, is a problem that inherently defies solution. These wastes will be deadly for exponentially longer into the future than biblical times stretch into the past. The Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in New Mexico, hyped as secure for hundreds of millennia, leaked plutonium after only 13 years. And finally there is the "sexiest" issue, the one that actually gets some media play, at least—the risk of accident. It is a mark of capitalism's depravity that even after the nightmares of Fukushima and Chernobyl, we periodically get media campaigns about an imminent "nuclear renaissance." Meanwhile, virtually ongoing smaller accidents go by with barely a media ripple. Nuclear versus fossil fuels is the false choice offered us by industry. The imperative is to get off the extraction economy and on to one based on sustainability and resource conservation.

Podcast: against 'normalcy' III

In Episode 107 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues his rant against the ubiquitous propaganda that normalizes the oppressive and dystopian pre-pandemic normality—or, as it is now incorrectly rendered, "normalcy" (sic). The opportunity for a crash conversion from fossil fuels that was posed by 2020's pandemic-induced economic paralysis is now being squandered. The fashionable COVID denialism of the anti-vaxxers is ironically complicit in the actual crimes of the pharmaceutical industry, such as the instating of a "vaccine apartheid"—failing to make the vaccine available to Africa and the much of the Global South. Just at the moment that socialist ideas are being legitimized in mainstream discourse again, the drum-beat for "normalcy" (sic) means less pressure for an urgently mandated public expropriation of corporate cyber-overlords such as Verizon, as well as Big Pharma and Big Oil. Meanwhile, consumerist and technocratc pseudo-solutions, such as the bogus notion of reducing one's personal "carbon footprint," obscure the systemic nature of the problem. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Podcast: against 'normalcy' II

In Episode 106 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues his rant against the ubiquitous propaganda that normalizes the oppressive and dystopian pre-pandemic normality—or, as it is now incorrectly rendered, "normalcy" (sic). The opportunity for a crash conversion from fossil fuels that was posed by 2020's pandemic-induced economic paralysis is now being squandered. As fossil-fuel prices soar, the Biden administration is continuing a Trump-era policy to aggressively open public lands to coal mining, refusing to return to an Obama-era moratorium on new leases. US greenhouse gas emissions dramatically bounced back in 2021, which was one of the five hottest years on record. A record was made for highest temperature ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere. (The Northern Hemisphere record was reached in 2020.) The global mean sea level is rapidly rising, and will keep rising for centuries even if the Paris Agreement goals are met, as seems less likely each day. And all this as hospitals remain overwhelmed coast to coast, and the National Guard is being mobilized to keep them functioning. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Podcast: against 'normalcy'

In Episode 105 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg rants against the ubiquitous propaganda that normalizes the oppressive and dystopian pre-pandemic normality. Amid the relentless COVID-19 denialism, even mainstream voices are calling for a return to "normalcy" (sic)—which is not even a word. The opportunity for a crash conversion from fossil fuels that was posed by 2020's pandemic-induced economic paralysis, when already depressed oil prices actually went negative, is now being squandered. President Biden just released oil from the Strategic Reserves to control soaring prices. Simultaneously, the administration is moving ahead with the largest offshore oil and gas lease sale in US history. While during the 2020 lockdown. the usually smog-obscured Himalayas became visible from northern India for first time in decades, Delhi is now choked with emergency levels of toxic smog. While during the 2020 lockdown, the total US death rate actually dropped because people were staying off the roads, US traffic deaths are now soaring. New York's new Mayor Eric Adams wants to stake the city's economic future to the cryptocurrency industry, even as China is cracking down on Bitcoin "mining" (sic) because of its "extremely harmful" carbon footprint. And even amid all the empty hand-wringing about climate change, airlines are flying thousands of empty "ghost flights" in order to keep their slots at congested airports. The much-vaunted "return to normalcy" must be urgently resisted. As Bruce Cockburn observed long ago, the trouble with normal is it always gets worse. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

Keep CounterVortex alive with a New Year donation!

In our holiday fund drive, we are only $100 toward our very modest goal of $500. We also gained a few new Patreon followers, so those funds (which we count toward the total) will be trickling in over the coming weeks. But we'd like to get a little closer to being over the hump before we get any deeper into 2022. We understand that our ultra-dissident perspective as well as the fact the we cover "obscure" wars, conflicts and social struggles outside the media spotlight, means that we will never have a mass readership that can raise thousands of dollars (as do our frankly rival websites that successfully play to the crowd). But if you want the latest news on revolution around the world from a radical dissident-left perspective with 0% unvetted provocation or state propaganda, you know where to turn: CounterVortex. If you appreciate our rigorous reportage and ultra-dissident analysis, please give what you can.

Keep CounterVortex alive with a year-end donation!

Some of our supporters have been very generous this year, which we deeply appreciate. But even with a couple of big anonymous donations, we only met slightly more than half of our annual operating costs (website and podcast hosting, domain registration, ongoing technical maintenance and development, etc.) Our ideological rivals like Greyzone and Counterpunch can reliably raise thousands of dollars in their fund drives; we will be content with mere hundreds. If you want the latest news on revolution around the world from a radical dissident-left perspective with 0% unvetted provocation or state propaganda, you know where to turn: CounterVortex. If you appreciate our rigorous reportage and ultra-dissident analysis, please give what you can.

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