Planet Watch

Podcast: CounterVortex at 20

In Episode 91 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the 20th anniversary of the launch of World War 3 Report, as it was then called—a direct response to 9-11 and Dubya Bush's declaration of the Global War on Terrorism. In 2005, it was renamed World War 4 Report, on the logic that the Cold War had been World War III, and to emphasize support for the "Fourth World"—land-rooted, stateless, and indigenous peoples. In 2016, the project was transformed into CounterVortex, in light of its expanding mission beyond the original mandate of the GWOT, and to emphasize the need for general resistance to humanity's downward spiral into ecological collapse and permanent war

Shifting the frame on climate migration

A lot of attention is paid to the possible impacts of the climate crisis on international migration—particularly the potential movement of people from the Global South to the Global North. Now, a new report from the World Bank says that climate change could force 216 million people to migrate within their countries by 2050. People living in under-developed regions—such as parts of sub-Saharan Africa—are the most likely to be forced to move. Immediate and concerted effort to reduce carbon emissions could reduce the scale of climate migration by as much as 80%, however. The report is a reminder of what gets overlooked in the focus on South-North migration: There are currently 48 million internally displaced people compared to 20.7 million refugees. Of those refugees, 80% live in countries neighboring their country of origin, and only 16% live in countries in the Global North.

Record number of ecologists slain in 2020

A record number of environmental defenders were murdered last year, according to a report issued this week by advocacy group Global Witness. The report, "Last Line of Defense," counts 227 activists killed around the world in 2020—the highest number recorded for a second consecutive year. Many of the murders were linked to resource exploitation—logging, mining, agribusiness, and hydroelectric dams. Since the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, the organization found on average of four activists have been killed each week.

Denmark, Costa Rica to launch no-fossil-fuel bloc

Denmark and Costa Rica jointly announced that they are launching an alliance of nations committed to setting a firm date to completely phase out use and production of fossil fuels. The two countries hope to present the initiative, tentatively dubbed the Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (BOGA), at the upcoming UN climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland. Nearly 60 countries have made some sort of net zero emissions pledge, but only a handful of those have actually set a target in law or enacted bans on new fossil fuel exploration and production. An International Energy Agency report released earlier this year found that new fossil fuel exploration needs to halt by 2022 in order to keep warming within the limits set by the 2015 Paris Agreement. "We are in a paradoxical situation right now where many countries have pledged to become carbon neutral but are actually still planning to produce oil and gas after that date," Danish Minister of Climate & Energy Dan Jorgensen told Reuters.

UN climate report: 'Code Red for Humanity'

Climate change is "unequivocal" and rapidly intensifying, and some of the changes already in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years, finds the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released Aug. 9. The IPCC Working Group I report, "Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis," was approved by 195 member governments of the IPCC, having been prepared by 234 scientists from 66 countries. The report concludes that human influence has warmed the planet at a rate that is unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years. Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe—including heatwaves, droughts, and tropical cyclones.

Podcast: Hiroshima at 76

In Episode 83 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes signs of hope on the 76th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, with the city's Mayor Kazumi Matsui calling on the world's nations to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. President Trump walked away from US-Russia nuclear arms control treaties, and China is now rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal. Ukraine and Syria are ominously likely flashpoints for superpower conflict. But South Africa provides a shining example of progress—under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, newly post-apartheid South Africa became the first and only nation on Earth to willingly dismantle its nuclear weapons.

Greenland suspends oil exploration, citing climate

The government of Greenland announced July 23 that it will suspend all oil exploration, saying the territory "wants to take co-responsibility for combating the global climate crisis... The future does not lie in oil. The future belongs to renewable energy, and in that respect we have much more to gain."  While no oil has been found yet, the US Geological Survey estimates there could be 17.5 billion undiscovered barrels below the territory's lands and waters. Many had hoped potential reserves could allow Greenland to achieve independence, compensating for the annual subsidy of 3.4 billion kroner ($540 million) the territory receives from Denmark.

Podcast: climate change and the global struggle

In Episode 81 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg takes stock of the fast-mounting manifestations of devastating climate destabilization—from Oregon to Siberia, from Germany to Henan. In Angola, traditional pastoralists are joining the ranks of "climate refugees" as their communal lands are stricken by drought. In Iran's restive and rapidly aridifying Ahwazi region, protests over access to water have turned deadly. These grim developments offer a foreboding of North America's imminent future. Yet media commentators continue to equivocate, asking whether these events are "linked to" or "caused by" climate change—rather than recognizing that they are climate change. And the opportunity for a crash conversion from fossil fuels that was posed by last year's pandemic-induced economic paralysis, when already depressed oil prices actually went negative, is now being squandered. Oil prices are again rising, with the return to pre-pandemic dystopian "normality."

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