links about us archives search home
SustainabiliTankSustainabilitank menu graphic
SustainabiliTank

 
 
Follow us on Twitter

Brazil China IBSA
CanadaIsraelIndonesiaJapanKoreaMexicoRussiaTurkey
Other Europe  Africa  Asia & Australia  Latin America  Island States
 

Archives
Green Sources Jobs
Real World's News Promptbook
FuturismCharts DatabaseBook reviewsArt and Peformance ReviewsCartoonsFuture MeetingsEco Friendly Tourism
Recent articles:
Ethical Markets Media works to reform markets and grow the green economy worldwide, focusing on the best practices, the most ethical, best-governed, cleanest, greenest organizations so as to raise global standards. EthicalMarkets.com provides news and perspective on climate prosperity,  reforming global finance, LOHAS and more through reports, articles, newsletters and analysis by our editor-in-chief, Hazel Henderson.  Ethicalmarkets.tv streams original Ethical Markets productions and video gathered from around the world. fowpal-banner.gif

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Al-Monitor named 2014 Free Media Pioneer Award winner – IPI honours Middle East news site’s ‘unrivalled reporting and analysis’

from the International Press Institute (Vienna, Austria, based) – Saturday, 21 February 2015.

Al-Monitor, with its website based in Washington DC - www.al-monitor.com/pulse/ – has PULSE columns for: Egypt Gulf Iran Iraq Israel Lebanon Palestine Syria Turkey Congress Russia / MidEast Week in Review

A screenshot of the Al Monitor website featuring a video marking the news organisation’s first anniversary. Established on Feb. 13, 2012, the site provides reporting and analysis by prominent journalists and experts from the Middle East and draws from more than two dozen media partners.

VIENNA, Feb 26, 2014 – Opens external link in new window Al-Monitor, an edgy news and commentary site launched in the aftermath of the Arab Spring that brands itself as “the pulse of the Middle East”, is the recipient of this year’s International Press Institute (IPI) Opens external link in new windowFree Media Pioneer Award, IPI announced today.

The award is given annually to a media or press freedom organisation that distinguishes itself in the fight for free and independent news. The awards’ nominators said that Al-Monitor stands out as a model for independent coverage of the region through its news, features, analysis and commentary at a time of political upheaval.

“Al-Monitor’s unrivalled reporting and analysis exemplify the invaluable role that innovative and vigorously independent media can play in times of change and upheaval,” IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said. “Al-Monitor’s editors and contributors produce a must-read daily overview of a complex region in a coherent, introspective and independent way. Its team includes some of the best minds and analysts from around the world who cut through the daily chaff and give readers an insightful summary of what is happening.”

Al-Monitor is scheduled to receive the award at the Opens external link in new windowIPI World Congress, which takes place April 12 to 15 in Cape Town, South Africa. Also in Cape Town, IPI will present its World Press Freedom Hero award to Iranian journalist Opens external link in new windowMashallah Shamsolvaezin, the former editor of the banned Iranian newspapers Kayhan, Jame’eh, Neshat, and Asr-e Azadegan. He was jailed numerous times for his criticism of government policies.

Upon learning of the award, Jamal Daniel, chairman and chief executive of Al-Monitor, said: “We are honoured to receive the IPI Free Media Pioneer Award, which is testimony to Al-Monitor’s ethos and mission, to uncover trends that are shaping the Middle East, from the best writers and analysts in the region.”

With civil war engulfing Syria, turmoil in Egypt and political upheaval across the Middle East, Al-Monitor stands out as a one-stop source for diverse news and viewpoints. Recent features include a report on female journalists in the front lines of regional conflicts and an article highlighting the arrest of an Egyptian filmmaker, who – like numerous journalists in Egypt – was detained for spreading “false news”.

Al-Monitor, established on Feb. 13, 2012, provides reporting and analysis by prominent journalists and experts from the Middle East, with a special focus section – or “pulse” – on Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and Turkey. The website also draws on more than two dozen media partners in 13 countries and is based in Washington, D.C.

The 2014 Free Media Pioneer award marks a departure from past winners by honouring a regional news organisation.

“We believe this is where Al-Monitor stands out, providing an important bridge of information to a region where many of the individual nations face major press freedom challenges,” Bethel McKenzie said. “Its ability to draw on many voices from the region is unmatched in the Middle East.”

Recent recipients of the Free Media Pioneer Award, established by IPI in 1996, were Malaysia’s Radio Free Sarawak (2013), 35 Multimedia Magazine in Belarus (2012), Tunisia’s Radio Kalima (2011), Radio Okapi in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2010) and Novaya Gazeta in Russia (2009).

For the past three years, the award has been sponsored by the Argentinean media company Infobae Group.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 20th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

World Environment News from Reuters

India offers farmers soil tests to boost yields

Date: 20-Feb-15
Author: Ratnajyoti Dutta

India will provide soil testing for farmers to target the correct use of fertilizers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday, to push up yields and cut back on costly misuse.

The service will be available to around 60 percent of its 235 million farmers, Modi said on a visit to the desert state of Rajasthan, stressing the importance of soil health to lift India’s poor farm productivity. Agriculture employs more than half of India’s 1.25 billion people but accounts for only 14 percent of its $2.3 trillion economy.

The finance minister was likely to allocate $32 million for the project in this fiscal year’s budget on Feb. 28, a senor official said.

Smart cards can be issued to 140 million farmers in three years after testing soil for productivity, mineral mix, water capacity and salinity, and can be presented to government fertilizer suppliers.

Sudhir Panwar, president of a farmers’ lobby group, said the card will cut misuse of subsidized fertilizer. This could also help the government trim its fertilizer bill of around $10 billion.

Modi said a farmer with a holding of 1.2 hectares could save 50,000 rupees ($805) per year, if the right amount of nutrients were applied.

Reuters reported last year that Modi, who popularized the program in the state of Gujarat that he ran, was likely to roll it out across the country.

Gujarat’s farm output grew at an annual average of 6 percent over the past three years – about a percentage point higher than the national figure.


Modi has urged agriculture scientists and farmers to usher in India’s second green revolution after the first one in the 1960s that saw India more than treble its annual wheat output in just 15 years
.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Divers stumble across Israel’s biggest ever discovery of gold coins

By Jethro Mullen, CNN February 18, 2015
 www.cnn.com/2015/02/18/middleeast…

Nearly 2,000 gold coins were discovered in the ancient harbor of Caesarea, Israel.
Story highlights

Nearly 2,000 gold coins had sat at the bottom of the sea for around 1,000 years
Divers exploring the ancient harbor of Caesarea came across the treasure
Most of the coins are from the Fatimid Caliphate that once ruled parts of the region;

(CNN)The divers initially thought the gleaming object they noticed on the seafloor off the Israeli coast was a toy coin from a game.

But they quickly realized they had stumbled across something a whole lot more valuable in the ancient Mediterranean harbor of Caesarea.

Their chance discovery a few weeks ago led to a trove of nearly 2,000 gold coins that had languished at the bottom of the sea for about 1,000 years, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Tuesday.

It’s the biggest hoard of gold coins ever discovered in Israel — and it could lead to further archaeological finds.

“There is probably a shipwreck there of an official treasury boat which was on its way to the central government in Egypt with taxes that had been collected,” said Kobi Sharvit, director of the Marine Archaeology Unit of the antiquities authority.

He offered other theories about the origin of the treasure.

Perhaps the coins were meant to pay the salaries of a military garrison in Caesarea, Sharvit speculated, or came from a merchant ship that sank while traveling from port to port along the Mediterranean coast.

Marine archaeologists are planning to carry out salvage work at the site to find out more.

Coins from Shiite caliphate.

The coins themselves come in several different denominations and are very well preserved, the antiquities authority said. The oldest of them is a quarter dinar minted in Palermo, Sicily, in the second half of the ninth century.

Most of the pieces, though, are from the Fatimid Caliphate, the Shiite Muslim empire that ruled large parts of North Africa and the Middle East around the turn of the first millennium.

Sharvit said he believed the coins, of various dimensions and weights, had been uncovered by winter storms.

He thanked the people who found the treasure — members of a local diving club — for quickly reporting their discovery rather than trying to keep the coins for themselves.

“These divers are model citizens,” he said. “They discovered the gold and have a heart of gold that loves the country and its history.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Prophet’s grandson Hussein honoured on grounds of Israeli hospital.

A photo shows 50 Shi’ite Muslim pilgrims from India pray at a shrine located on the grounds of Barzilai Medical Center in the coastal town of Ashkelon February 8, 2015. REUTERS/Amir Cohen
 www.channelnewsasia.com/news/worl…

ASHKELON, Israel: About 50 Shi’ite Muslim pilgrims settle down to chant and prostrate themselves in worship near an ancient tomb.

Not an unusual scene in the Middle East, but this shrine is located on the grounds of an Israeli hospital known mainly for treating the casualties of conflict in the nearby Gaza Strip.

The Barzilai Medical Centre in the coastal town of Ashkelon is home to a tomb where, in the view of some Shi’ite Muslims, the head of Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, lay interred for centuries following his death in battle.

“We pray, first of all, to respect the head of Hussein because he was martyred,” the worshippers’ leader, Sheikh Moiz Tarmal, told Reuters. “And we believe that if we pray here, God will listen to you.”

The slaying of Hussein in the seventh century Battle of Karbala fuelled the split between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims that has recently erupted with renewed ferocity in conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

Many Shi’ites believe all of Hussein’s body was buried near where he died at Karbala in present-day Iraq. Others hold that his head was hidden by Sunnis in Ashkelon in the 10th century before later being spirited away to its final resting place in Egypt for safety as Crusaders invaded the Holy Land.

Among the latter are the Dawoodi Bohra, a Shi’ite sect with around a million adherents worldwide. Its members come annually on pilgrimage to the ornate marble enclosure marking the tomb on a grassy hillock within the Barzilai campus.

Moshe Hananel, an Israeli scholar who helps arrange the Barzilai visits, said some of the Shi’ite pilgrims who flock to the hospital come from countries that do not recognise Israel.

“Their entry is approved in advance,” he said, declining to name specific countries due to the political sensitivities.

Militant wings of both Sunni and Shi’ite Islam see a common foe in Israel. Shi’ite Iran backs Hamas, the Sunni Muslim faction that runs the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

“This is one of the absurdities of the Middle East. Here we have a sacred place for the Muslims, for the Shia Muslims, and on the other hand 12 km (7 miles) south of here we have other Muslims that shoot rockets at us,” said the hospital’s deputy director, Dr. Ron Lobel.

During last year’s Gaza war, Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system intercepted two Hamas rockets over Barzilai, he said.

Tarmal saw divine intervention in the hospital being spared.

“We believe it is a holy place,” he said. “Many rockets do come into Ashkelon, but that place has always been safe at the end, so we believe it is spiritual.”

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Gareth Jones – Reuters.)

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 19th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue of Vienna is lodged in what was the private villa of the Bunderskanzler of Austria who was the pragmatic – conscious-based father of the new Austria – who, while holding different and ascending post WWII positions – managed the establishment of the Second Austrian Republic and its becoming a neutral State in the Soviet and the West stand-off.

In 1955, the Austrian State Treaty re-established Austria as a sovereign state, ending the Soviet, French, British, and US occupation zones. In the same year, the Austrian Parliament formulated the Declaration of Neutrality which declared that the Second Austrian Republic would become permanently neutral. Bruno Kreisky (22 January 1911 – 29 July 1990) was Kanzler 1970 till 1983, but in 1951, when he returned to Vienna, Federal President Theodor Körner (1951-1957) appointed him Assistant Chief of Staff and political adviser – then in 1953 he was appointed Undersecretary in the Foreign Affairs Department of the Austrian Chancellery. In this position he took part in negotiating the 1955 Austrian State Treaty, which ended the four-power occupation of Austria and restored Austria’s independence by declaring neutrality. It is said that he was the brain behind this very important political maneuvering which showed his strength of purpose.

While Austrian Chancellor, Mr. Kreisky tried to build his country’s position as the neutral go between the two blocs – East and West – during the Cold War. He also took special interest in the Middle East – and this brings us to the topic we tackle in this posting.

Upon the prodding of Israeli maverick Uri Avnery, Mr. Kreisky became instrumental in what was said – an effort to make Yassir Arafat, the head of the PLO – the Palestinian Liberation Movement – “Salon Clean” which meant – honorably acceptable in the capitals of the West.

The idea here was that if there was to be peace in the Middle East it will come through negotiations between the two local warring sides – so the Palestinians must be helped to build a world-recognized leadership. We know how this led to the principle of a TWO-STATES solution, and we know today that it seems – honesty and pragmatism – tell us that possibility was lost because the Oslo agreements were not followed to fruition. Instead a closely intermingled situation came about and with every day that passes the return to the Oslo road becomes more difficult.

The Kreisky Forum that was formed by Chancellor Vranitzky one year after Bruno Kreisky’s death – with Karl Kahane – an industrialist and Kreisky friend – and Kreisky’s son Peter – on board and the Karl Kahane Family Foundation, with the City of Vienna, the Austrian Government, and the Austrian National Bank, as main funders, is led by a Board of Directors chaired now by Rudolf Scholten, former Federal Minister of Education, Science and the Arts, Member of the Board of Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG. The former Austrian Ambassador to the US, Mrs. Eva Novotny is Secretary and Ms. Patricia Kahane Deputy Secretary.

The Executive power is as always in the hands of the Secretary General which is since 2005 Gertraud Auer Borea d’Olmo. The devoted personal secretary to Mr. Bruno Kreisky, Margit Schmidt, currently Treasurer of the Keisky Foundation, was Secretary General of the Kreisky Forum from 1991 – 2004.

And to the point – Gertaud Auer is all set to continue the legacy left by Bruno Kreisky – the legacy of a free thinker/pragmatist who is ready to take on the potentialities of the moment in order to reach out to long-term goals. As an aside, I feel compelled to mention that I found that on the basis of an interview here in Vienna, a Greek paper knew to say that Gertraud Auer of the Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue said that the new Greek head of Government – Mr. Alexis Tsipras – whom she knows as she had him over to Vienna to speak at the Forum – has the potential to be the Bruno Kreisky of Greece.

In the matter of our topic here – the Middle East – looking through the list of advisers to the Kreisky Forum Board I found – Galia Golan, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and Rashid Khalidi, University of Chicago, Head of the Center for International Studies – both very capable people that could help Ms. Auer in trying to be ahead of the pack of Middle East thinkers.
And that is our subject today.

Ms. Auer initiated a two year study to Rethink the Middle East built around a Two-States Solution of the Kreisky days.
She managed to get a terrific team together and eventually get also Mr. Hannes Swoboda, a retired High Ranking Austrian Member of the European Parliament (1996-2014) – Head of the Social Democrat faction of the Parliament – to be accurate – the S&D Group of Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats of the European Parliament.

Eventually the group found in Mr. Bashir Bashir, an Israeli Arab intellectual researcher and lecturer at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the editor for its project and the resulted product, recently released, is titled: “RETHINKING THE POLITICS OF ISRAEL/PALESTINE: Partition and its Alternatives.”

The result does not just move from a Two-States Solution to a One-State Solution – but in effect to a Human Rights for All Solution that does not start from numbering States – the solution is within what may look like a one State – but besides the equal rights for all frame, it does allow for Multi-Nationalism and diversity rights for all people and communities as well.
In effect – this is the recognition of the intertwined existence within the territory of Israel and the area originally intended for a Palestinian State linked to Israel by a joint economy. Mr. Avraham Burg, a member of Ms. Auer’s team – former speaker of the Knesset – the Israeli Parliament – put it very clearly when he said this week in Vienna that he does not give up his Zionism ideals of having the Jews live on the land of their forefathers in a situation that allows full equality for all its inhabitants – as it was the ideal of the founding fathers of the State – he believes that being a moral Jew is what Judaism demands – so he wants to see change in order to fulfill that calling without the need to oppress another people. Mr. Burg’s background is amazing in itself, as he grew up in a home where his father – Mr. Joseph Burg – was the head of National Religious Jewry and then – in Palestine – a partner of Ben Gurion’s Socialists in the creation of the State of Israel.

Mr. Swoboda said that as eventually the European Union will have to evolve to become a one state with a diversified Multi-National reality, this could become the working example that the new Israel/Palestine or Palestine/Israel will emulate.

I attended several book-presentation events for this Kreisky Forum study these last two weeks, at the Kreisky Forum, and at the Diplomatic Academy. Then I was informed that the show moved to Brussels where the book was presented to many members of the European Parliament and Civil Society – and yesterday – back here in Vienna – at the local venue of the European Union.
At all events the rooms were full and very interesting discussions followed. There were hardly any one-sided opponents.

The Event in Vienna, February 16th 2015, at the House of the European Union Representation in Vienna, included a Roundtable Debate – “TOWARDS A EUROPEAN PEACE INITIATIVE” – chaired and moderated by Ms. Auer with some of the main members of her team on board, and also new faces. Those of the book were besides Mr. Avraham Burg and editor Bashir Bashir, also Ms. Inbal Arnon, associate professor at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and Mr. Noam Sheizaf, a Tel Aviv based journalist who also runs a critical website - 972mag.com The new face is Mr. Muhammed Jabali, a young Israeli Arab from Taybeh who coordinates Art/Activist projects, occasional DJ, Adjunct lecturer at Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem, content editor at batuta.com (an Arabic language travel website), occasional project editor like when Coordinator of TheJaffaProject – an Aoutobiography of a City, by the Ayam association or when explaining that the Arab gay people of Israel did not participate in Pride Day because they did not want the foreign participants to think that being liberal when it comes to the issue of homosexuality there is also acceptance of human rights to the Arab minority.

Mr. Muhammad Jabali’s topic at the panel was: “From containment of imbalanced ethnic politics to co-resistance against it.”
In his presentation he stressed that 93% of the land in Israel is under State control and it serves projects only for 80% of its citizens. Also, when you legitimize a democratic policy Palestinians should be able to marry those from outside the borders and bring them to Israel – like the Jewish citizens are allowed to do.

I enlarged here on Jabali’s participation because I had an extensive chat with him after the meeting and explained to him that personally I believe that Israel itself, in its present structure, with its 20% Arab population – the Israeli Arabs with voting rights and for a long time already with 10 to 12 elected Members of the Knesset, could be the first example of this ONE-STATE FOR ALL SOLUTION. I believe that it is in the hands of the Israeli-Palestinians to make their presence felt in Parliament – not as thorns in the thighs of the Jewish citizens – but as full rights citizens demanding their place within the constraints of existing laws. That this is possible was shown last year when the 12 members of Parliament from the three Arab lists helped elect Reuven Rivlin as President of Israel against the will of Prime Minister Netanyahu who favored someone else. Why it took 50 years for the Arab Members of the Knesset to exercise their voting rights in this most positive way is beyond my understanding. In effect – the Arab vote could help build a government and get to be Ministers as well – really they are the only ones to blame for not having done this – and the answer that the Arabs outside Israel would never have forgiven them the effort to doing something for themselves first – does not hold water in my way of thinking, and I am sure not in Mr. Swoboda’s hopes to see change and the start towards a real target of peace. Israel will have new elections on March 17, 2015 and the Arabs expect to win 15 seats out of the total of 120 seats. Why not ask for the Ministry of housing in exchange for helping the challenger gather the needed 61 members required minimum? That is what we call rEVOlution – the evolution that is a quiet revolution; the achievement of the Kreisky Forum Study goals in an orderly democratic way.

Just a few further notions from the February 16th event:

From the introduction by Mr. Gerald Klug, the current Federal Minister of Defense and Sport (lucky Austria that can have the possibility to combine with impunity these two posts) said that we should talk not just on territory but also on “When and Why.”

Mr. Hannes Swoboda asked – “Is it for Israel and Palestine?” and answered “It is for the people of the region.” The issue before thee World and specifically before Europe is thus not merely the continuation of past efforts but a step forward with forward looking concepts.

Editor Bashir Bashir stressed that the exercise is not just wishful thinking but that the facts on the ground call for a new paradigm – one that switches from National Rights to Human Rights. This calls for rethinking Jewish Nationalism and Palestinian Activism. He stressed that he takes his Israeli citizenship very seriously and he is a product of the Palestinian Naqba.
Both seemingly being the pillars of his position. The solution being for Palestinian Nationalism becoming part of a bi-National State with Equal Rights.

So, it seems that the Kreisky Forum effort, as managed by Gertraud Auer Borea, can indeed move from being an ideal – to practical reality – if the Israeli Arabs move to do what is indeed in their best interest – and achievable – because despite the many shades of black and grey – Israel is still the only area in the Middle East that has a minimum of democracy, and the only Arab State that can claim some democracy in its structure is the very remote Tunisia. All the rest of the Arab World has imploded or is on a path of implosion witnessing acts of inhumanity – not just political disagreements. Let me repeat therefore that word I brought forward earlier – rEVOlution – this is not a misspelling – but a conscious effort to create a new path and my hope that the Kreisky Forum could adopt this word. This new paradigm presented by the Kreisky Forum to the European Parliament has in it the potential of saving the Arab World from itself – by starting first with Israel saving itself from itself.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Robert Reich | How Trade Deals Boost the Top 1% and Bust the Rest.

Economist, professor, author and political commentator Robert Reich writes: “Suppose that by enacting a particular law we’d increase the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. But almost all that growth would go to the richest 1 percent.”

please see: readerssupported news.org

Then he has also another posting today where he says directly that this is about the Trans Pacific Partnership.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 16th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From: Adriana Troxler  adriana.troxler at oikos-international.o…

 chairpubpol at post.tau.ac.il.

_______________

Adriana Troxler, Program Manager

Email:  adriana.troxler at oikos-international.o…
Skype: adriana.oikos

Mobile: +41 (0)78 631 26 01 I Direct: +41 (0)71 224 25 90

oikos

Dufourstrasse 50

9000 St. Gallen, Switzerland

Follow us: Web I Facebook I Twitter

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Joe Biden: “America is Back”

By Scott Galindez, Reader Supported News

14 February 2015

It was billed as an official Office of the Vice President event, not a campaign event. The vice president was greeted at the airport by the Republican governor Terry Branstad. The Dallas Republican Party sent out a press release thanking Joe Biden for coming to Iowa and pointing out how long it has been since Hillary Clinton has visited the Hawkeye State. Umm, she has a 40-point lead, so why would she start campaigning a year before the caucus?

Drake University students and other Iowans started lining up at 7 a.m. for a chance to see the man who is a heartbeat away from being president of the United States. They braved frigid temperatures for hours before being allowed into the Sheslow Auditorium on the campus of Drake University, the site of past presidential election debates. Over 800 people packed the auditorium.

This was the Democrats’ first 2015 salvo into the 2016 presidential election. Joe Biden came to Iowa to frame the economic debate, to serve notice that the administration’s policies have put America on the right path and the Republicans’ threats to change course would send the country in the wrong direction. From health care to jobs and financial reform, the VP claimed success:

In 2009, when the president and I were sworn into office, the middle class was in dire straits. On the day we were sworn in, we had already lost 800,000 jobs, just that month. Over the next few months we continued to lose 700,000 jobs a month. People were losing their homes. If they didn’t lose their homes, they lost the equity in their homes, they lost what is the only real source of wealth for middle class families, that equity … The truth of the matter is pensions, life savings, dreams of hard working Americans were wiped out by the Great Recession … but thanks to the great determination of your parents and many Americans, we have gone from a genuine crisis to a recovery and to the prefaces of a resurgence, re-establishing the middle class’s place in America. Just last November we added over 400,000 jobs; nearly a million jobs the last three months.

“America is back,” proclaimed Biden. “America is leading the world again.” The vice president went on to argue that Democrats should run on the Obama/Biden record.

“It wasn’t that long ago that many in my own party were saying our plan didn’t work and distanced themselves from our policies. I think that would be a terrible mistake. In my view, those seeking to the lead the nation should seek to protect and defend, and yes, run on what we have done, own what we have done, and be judged on what we have done. Some say that would be a third term for the president. I think it would be sticking to what works,” said Biden.

The vice president said that North America is now the epicenter of energy production in the world and will be energy-independent by 2020 or possibly 2018. Biden said that the United States alone has more oil and gas rigs pumping than the rest of the world combined. When I first heard him say that, I wondered if that could be true. It is – the United States has 55% of the world’s oil and gas rigs. According to oilprice.com, “Global drilling for oil and gas is dominated by North America, in particular the USA. In January 1995 there were 737 oil and gas rigs drilling in the USA, 42% of the world total. By October 2011 this figure had grown to 2010 rigs, 55% of the world total.” Drill baby drill? We have been drilling more than the rest of the world combined for a long time already. Market Watch reports that North America will become a net energy exporter by 2020.


Of course, the bad news is we are destroying the environment to get there. Fracking is what is producing the increase in oil production. But Biden also trumpeted the administration’s gains in renewable energy. He said that our use of renewable energy has doubled in the last six years, and that we have tripled electricity production from wind, solar, and geothermal
.

The gains in energy production have lowered our costs to the point where companies are now “in-sourcing.” Natural gas prices in the United States are three times cheaper than in Europe, five times cheaper than in Asia. Biden said the result is that companies are coming home. The global management firm A.T. Kearney did its annual survey of the world’s leading industrialists and they said, by the largest margin ever, the United States is the best market to invest in.

We all know things are going well for the wealthy again. But it is at the expense of the environment, and wages for the middle class and poor are not on the rise.

But Joe Biden has a point: clearly the country is better off than it was six years ago. The last two Democrats to hold the White House left the country better off economically than their predecessors. The Republicans are running on foreign policy and “speeding up” economic growth. That theme itself acknowledges that the economy is growing. While they blame the administration for ISIS, it was the Bush administration that broke Iraq.


The problem I see with the Democrats’ running on the Obama/Biden record is that the “recovery” is not being felt by many Americans. Unemployment is down, but the new jobs are not as good as the old jobs. Many Americans are still not ready to say things are better off for them than they were six years ago. But that is changing.

Biden acknowledged that more has to be done for the middle class and the poor. He said we have the greatest concentration of wealth in the United States since the twenties. Biden said productivity is up, yet wages have not risen for a decade. He said that in the past if your company grew and made a profit, everyone shared the wealth – not just the shareholders.

He also defended the bailout of the banks and the auto industry, and the efficacy of the stimulus package. He reminded the crowd that the banks paid back every penny with interest and that 92% of economists believe the stimulus prevented a much worse economic crisis.

Biden spoke for 90 minutes and stuck mostly to the economy, but he did slip in his foreign policy experience and touted his role in the administration for getting things done. He compared himself to Little Mikey in the Life cereal commercials. He mentioned that President Obama had put “Sheriff Joe” in charge of the TARP money.


While it wasn’t billed as a campaign speech, Biden was clearly testing the waters. He told reporters that he will decide by the end of the summer if he will run for president.

For the question and answer portion of the event, Biden left the stage and walked back and forth … He took only three questions, but gave very long, wide-ranging answers. When he was asked about immigration reform, we learned that Biden has met almost every world leader, clearly a hint that he is prepared to be president. He became most animated when talking about how it makes no sense to send people back to a country they were not even raised in. He pointed out that five-year-olds couldn’t prevent their parents from bringing them across the border. He also said that one of things that make America work is immigration.

When asked what needs to be done to get more people to vote, Biden answered that we have to get the money out of politics. He told the crowd that he supports public financing of campaigns. He also pointed out that 92 senators voted for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, including Strom Thurmond, and that the Supreme Court was wrong to strike down some of its key provisions. He blasted Republicans for passing restrictions on voter access.

All in all, I was left with the impression that the former senator from Delaware still wants to be the president of the United States.

Biden closed with his rephrasing of a famous quote from Plato: “One problem with good people not getting involved in politics is they end up being governed by people worse than themselves.”

One student in the crowd, Mark Reiter, was impressed with Biden’s “intentional candor” and asked the vice president if he would be back for the caucus. He said Biden flashed him a big smile and said “maybe.”

Scott Galindez co-founded Truthout and will be reporting on the presidential election from Iowa throughout 2015.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

——————————-

Some of the Comments:

+16 # ericlipps 2015-02-14 18:13
If “America is back” and on the road to energy independence only because we’re ripping up more of our own land to extract and use more fossil fuels, there’ll be a price to pay down the road–maybe not that far down the road.

+10 # jdd 2015-02-14 18:44
Wait till the effects of the Saudi’s $47/barrel oil ripple through not only the fracking industry, but the trillions of debt built upon it.

+3 # Emmanuel Goldstein 2015-02-14 19:33
“One problem with good people not getting involved in politics is they end up being governed by people worse than themselves.”

That’s for sure. And We the People are experiencing it full on from both parties. With both parties being in the pockets of Corporate America and the military-industrial-media complex, what is a conscientious citizen to do? We desperately need to restore democracy to this country, using whatever means necessary. Otherwise the game’s up.

0 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-02-14 20:00
What can we do? We must stop voting for either a Republican or a Democrat. As Emmanuel says, “Both parties are in the pockets of corporate American and the Military Industrial Complex” and what is ever worse–they are in the pockets of the banking ‘industry’.

We don’t need a third party. We need to get rid of political parties. With the tecnology we have today we can have direct democracy. Our elected official should be mandated to vote as the constituents tell them to—and not vote as directed by their political party or their major donors. The political parties and the donors and that money with strings attached is the reason we are in the mess we are now. Some ‘recovery’. Yeah. We got more jobs but they are part time and pay minimum wage. Time to throw the corrupt out of office and get new people that will vote to end the wars, tax the rich, take care of the people and protect the environment.

0 # wantrealdemocracy 2015-02-14 20:08
We gotta save ourselves!! We have to get together with other working class people and find a good candidate to represent us in Congress. Never mind those with political experience—we know they are corrupt!!! They know the present system and will just give us more of the same. We need new blood and new ideas and we better get out and talk to people to get the peaceful revolution up and going. We are the majority, we can win!!! only 40% of the registered voters vote. That is a lot of people to get involved in changing our rotten government.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ARCTIC – IS IT POSSIBLE?

Author : Kapil Narula
10 Feb 2015
 www.maritimeindia.org/CommentryVi…

The Arctic is a unique region which plays a very important role in the earth’s ecosystem. It regulates the earth’s climate, influences the ocean currents, has rich biodiversity and is home to a substantial indigenous population. Therefore, sustainability should be a prerequisite condition for development in the Arctic.

‘Sustainability’ is the ability of a system to continue a desired behaviour indefinitely. An example of such a sustainable system is tropical rain forests in which the inherent processes continue in a cyclic manner to support life. On the other hand, ‘development’ is the process of growth. When these two words are conjoined it implies ‘continuous growth’. Hence the word ‘Sustainable Development’ is actually an oxymoron because any kind of growth cannot be indefinite.


While ‘Sustainable Development’ is rightly understood as a multi-dimensional concept, having economic, environmental and social dimensions, an extended definition also includes inter and intra-generational equity as well as inter-species equity, as its fundamental principles. However, people often misunderstand it as simultaneous and continued growth in all three dimensions. This understanding is flawed as these dimensions have competing goals and therefore there has to be a trade-off between these goals. As an example, any kind of economic growth has negative environmental externalities and there may be accompanying social impacts which may lead to collapse of societies. Therefore sustainable development needs to be perceived in a way that explicitly conveys the core idea that the growth of the economy and the society is constrained by environmental limits.


If ‘Sustainable Development’ of the Arctic region is viewed from the above perspective, one is forced to define environmental limits prior to looking at economic opportunities in the region. Further, the impact of development in the region on culture, societies and the traditional way of living of the indigenous people should also be minimal. Hence it is important that any activities which are undertaken in the Arctic region should be carefully examined for the foreseeable impacts which they might have on the region as well as on the ecosystem of the earth.

Let us consider two major issues which are threatening the sustainability of the Arctic region: ‘resources’ and ‘routes’. The scramble between Arctic nations to control both these and the intent of extra regional powers to share the trickledown benefits, have resulted in countries engaging in active geopolitics on the Arctic. While some countries like India are keenly interested in science in order to increase their understanding of climate change, other countries such as South Korea are looking at the economic benefits which they can reap as fallout of increased shipping in the region.

Let’s talk about resources first. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the region contains 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 15 per cent of its oil. These valuable energy resources have been fossilised over millions of years. From the viewpoint of sustainability, the ‘strong sustainability’ condition defines that the ‘economic capital’ (produced capital such as infrastructure, knowledge etc.), and ‘natural capital’ (environmental assets such as fossil fuels, biodiversity and other ecosystem structures) are complimentary, but not interchangeable. This implies that natural capital needs to be preserved sufficiently, as it has to be passed to the next generation and cannot be replaced with economic capital. Hence the amount of fossil fuels and minerals which can be extracted from the Arctic region should be limited to the regeneration rates of these resources. Obviously, this would mean that only miniscule amounts of resources can be extracted and therefore the strong sustainability condition is difficult to meet, in the case of energy and mineral resources. An alternate interpretation for resources can be as follows: the non-renewable resources which are extracted should be replaced by an equivalent amount of substitutes for that resource. This interpretation can however serve as a prerequisite condition for resource extraction, if the Arctic has to be developed sustainably.

The strong sustainability condition is often diluted to a ‘weak sustainability’ condition which allows unconditional substitution between economic and natural capital. This implies that natural resources may be used as long as economic capital is increased. Proponents of this approach claim that the energy which is extracted now, can be used to increase economic capital, so that the total amount of capital for the next generation remains unchanged. However, most often this weak sustainability condition is also violated and the extracted resources are consumed by the existing generation without a thought for the future generations.

On the issue of new shipping routes, the strong sustainability condition in the Arctic region would be met as long as the rates of waste generation from shipping and related activities do not exceed the assimilative capacity of the Arctic eco-system. This condition therefore requires that while the shipping routes may be used, there should be stringent environmental regulations controlling the operation of shipping in the region. Notwithstanding the strict enforcement of rules, the environmental risks remains high due the uncertain nature of floating ice, harsh climatic condition, risk of human or technical failure and the fragile nature of the environment. An oil spill either from offshore drilling or accidents at sea, marine pollution due to leaks and untreated waste disposal at sea are other challenges, which will have an impact on the marine environment in the region. However, as long as the environmental impact on the ecosystem is within the acceptable limits, shipping in the region could be classified as sustainable. But the question is “Do we have enough know-how on the Arctic ecosystem to even attempt defining such limits?” Further, what is the guarantee that there would be no accidents such as those involving the drilling ships, ‘Noble Discoverer’ and the ‘Kulluk’, operated by Shell off the Alaskan coast in 2013 which led to suspension of further drilling in the region. The answers to these questions are not easy and hence prior to allowing navigation of ships through the ice floes infested waters, one must carefully examine the environmental risks which the region is exposed to, if unrestricted shipping is allowed.

It can, therefore, be concluded that there are many challenges to sustainable development of the Arctic region. However, such a possibility exists, provided stringent rules and regulations are followed for shipping and a limited amount of resource extraction is permitted in the region. How would this development unfold, is a question which none can predict, but one can only hope that the Arctic Council adopts some guidelines which imposes certain limits and restriction on shipping and resource exploration activities in the Arctic region.

**************************************************

(*The author is a Research Fellow at the National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Indian Navy or National Maritime Foundation. He can be reached at  kapilnarula at yahoo.com)

Kapil Narula
Cdr (Indian Navy)
Research Fellow
National Maritime Foundation
Airport Road, NH-8
New Delhi- 110 010
Ph:+91-11-26156520 Extn: 112(O)

AND

PhD Research Scholar
Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research
Goregaon (East), Mumbai

ARTICLE WRITTEN “towards the run up to the Indian National Maritime Foundation Annual Conference.”
The National Maritime Foundation is dedicated to “Nurture India’s Maritime Interests.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From: Campaign for America’s Future.

About the Trans-Pacific Partnership – TPP – a Trade Agreement written by business and Government bureaucrats.


They’re at it again – Unelected bureaucrats are meeting behind closed doors making decisions that could cost tens of thousands of good jobs.

It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We don’t know what’s in it, but we know who wrote it: corporate lobbyists and representatives of countries that include repressive regimes with no concern for labor or environmental standards.

We should have learned our lesson by now. Bad trade agreements create a race to the bottom which benefits only the multinationals. It lets them export jobs, undermine environmental standards and restrict internet freedom?.

Now they want ?”?fast-track?” ? rules on a secretly negotiated treaty. Fast track means Congress skips the amendment process and skips to vote all before they even know what is in the treaty.


The corporate lobbyists don’t want the public to have the chance to see what’s in this deal — and they don’t want Congress to change what they are trying to foist on America.
As Sen. Elizabeth Warren said, “they have to be secret because if the American people knew what was going on, they would be opposed.”

American jobs and strong environmental protections are too important to rush through another bad trade agreement.

————————————————————

We suggest Europeans look at this US exercise before they enter into a similar agreement with the US – in the TTIP.
These agreements make it easier to do business – but the European citizens, like their US counterparts, are also entitled to find out how such agreements are specifically built in order to bypass Congress or Parliaments – and such planning will inevitably lead to interference with real interests of real people. Corporations cannot be viewed as people – whatever the lawyers may have concocted for us to the contrary.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Friday, 13 February 2015

UN agrees draft text for Paris climate summit.

Work is continuing on draft text for a new climate change agreement by the end of the year Work is continuing on text aimed at a new climate change agreement by the end of the year

UN climate talks in Geneva have ended with agreement on a formal draft negotiating text for the summit in Paris in December.

The document, which runs to 86 pages, builds on negotiations in Peru last year.

The Swiss meeting set out to create a draft for consideration at the Paris talks. The aim was to have a new global climate agreement in place by the end of 2015.

The latest climate talks, which started on Sunday, and lasted 6 days, focussed on finalising a draft negotiating text for the Paris summit. This was the first formal gathering since the Lima climate summit in December.

“I am extremely encouraged by the constructive spirit and the speed at which negotiators have worked during the past week,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“We now have a formal negotiating text, which contains the views and concerns of all countries. The Lima Draft has now been transformed into the negotiating text and enjoys the full ownership of all countries,” she added.

———————————————————–

Analysis by Helen Briggs, BBC environment correspondent:

The draft text was agreed before the end of the session, in a mood described as “the spirit of Lima”. But rather than being slimmed down, the document has more than doubled in size, to contain everything to be discussed in the run-up to Paris.

Delegates acknowledge that the hard work is still ahead, with the real conflicts to come when negotiators seek to “streamline” the text and narrow down the options for limiting a damaging rise in temperatures.

The key political test is the period from March to June, when individual countries announce their plans to reduce emissions.

At the next climate talks in June, real progress will have to be made to resolve issues such as financing the Paris agreement and ensuring that poorer countries get the support they need to adapt to impacts such as flooding.
line

Three special sessions have been added to this year’s schedule of climate meetings. They include talks about “intended nationally determined contributions”, the commitments to reduce emissions that are meant to pave the way towards a low-carbon future.
National plans

Governments are expected to submit their national plans by an informal deadline of the period from March to June.

China, the United States and the European Union have already given an indication of their plans.

The UN seeks to limit the increase of the average global surface temperature to no more than 2C (3.6F) compared with pre-industrial levels, to avoid “dangerous” climate change. But scientists warn the Earth is on track for double that target.

The World Meteorological Organization confirmed this month that 2014 had been the hottest year on record, part of a continuing trend. Fourteen out of the 15 hottest years have been this century.

The UNFCCC, based in Bonn, Germany, has 196 parties – including virtually all of the world’s nations – and grew from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for cutting greenhouse gases.

The next meeting will be held in Bonn in June.

===================================================

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

We all know about the Indian Summer – that is when in the Northern Hemisphere, after the start of autumn – there is a relapse to dry hot days of summer. But we just thought that a parallel phenomenon has taken roots in the last few years in the relapse of cold weather – when we should already have according to previous experience a warmer spring weather.

We just thought up this term of “Indian Winter” and wonder if others also made the same observation based on facts in their hands?

We use the reference to “Indian” as in the already established case though we find really now clear justification for that use of the word Indian. The internet thinks it is from the American Indian mistaken term. Shakespeare in Henry IV referred to the phenomenon as “All Hallowed Summer” for what later became Indian Summer.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 13th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Last night I participated at the Austro-American Society & the American Chamber of Commerce in Austria, Vienna meeting that was held under the title: “The Internet of Everything – Cloud & Digitalization and Their Impact.” The speaker was Mr. Franz Grohs from T-Systems Austria GesmbH (part of the Multinational 50,000 people network headed by the German Telecom) whose Austrian managing director – Ing. Martin Katzer was announced, but could was out sick and could not attend. The meeting was nevertheless a great success – a very active crowd and an eye opener to the uninitiated.

Mr. Franz Grohs, Vienna born, is Senior Vice-President T-Systems International with special interest in East-Central Europe and the Asia Pacific – but interestingly when you google him you find that he does not divulge the name of his company affiliation – only that his company helps you safeguard your data. Seemingly he has 750 people working directly with him.

In his fascinating presentation he said among other things – that it was about “Cloud Transformation” – from the Age of the customer to the Age of the User. The target is “The Product Talks – the Crowd Acts.” He gave us examples of this new world and how the new ICT can help answer actual needs. I will give here just two examples – (a) 26 million suitcases were not brought in air-transport to their correct destinations last year – tracking them can be made easy with ICT (he called this the “connected bag”) and (b) “the connected car” that integrates garage & social media with a use of “big data” and gives to the world at large information if you are in town or even if at home – and might just have the unpleasant side effect of putting you or your property in danger. Aha! these are issues that T-Systems can help you with.

I did not get involved in the discussion as I clearly did not feel qualified – but spoke with Mr. Grohs afterwards.
My argument was that in effect – the added danger in these systems is that we will be inundated with salesmen that will track us to offer products we never intended to buy and this decreases Sustainability. I feel that all of this actually leads to the Age of the Salesman – not the Customer – and the User is a two edged sword with lots of unintended consequences for the customer.
His answer was that this is about psychology not technology.

I agreed but then reminded him that when people in Norway found themselves with two much free time they committed suicide and with a lot of offers for things to buy this might be a problem as well. His answer was that the real problem is that young people are unemployed and are already spending their time with their cell-phones.

Oh well – I still would not have done this posting – but then the following item came in and I felt pulled in by these topics.
YES – WE ARE AT THE START OF A MAJOR “rEVOLution” – a change where a new class of people will take over our lives in their hands – they will have the power to enter our minds, find out where we are and what our vulnerabilities are – and exploit them in the best of cases just to make money out of us – in the worst of cases to rob or kill us with precision. This is not the age of mobility as we are told but a step into the age of mass control – a new sort of psychology.

================================================================================


Optimizing Collaboration: Don’t Get Lost in the Cloud.

Posted on September 18, 2014 by Dominic Keogh at CNN Money’s “What no One Tells You About The Cloud” – Ricoh Services.

Cloud infrastructure and applications.

Cloud infrastructure and applications have a number of potential business benefits, but one of the areas of greatest potential is their ability to revolutionize business collaboration. In a global survey of 532 business executives from a wide range of industries, 55 percent felt that “cloud-based solutions are no mere evolution, but rather represent a true revolution in collaborative effectiveness.”1

Better collaboration can increase productivity, get you closer to customers, make your products more innovative and your business more competitive, and help you attract and retain top talent. Clearly a fundamental component of growing your business, improved collaboration and cloud-based tools — from simple file-sharing to virtual meeting applications — have tremendous potential to extend your reach and foster productive connection.

But with so many opportunities to use cloud-based applications to improve collaboration in your business, where do you get started?

Collaboration Starts From Within
.

Reassessing and redesigning information processes is fundamental to creating a more successfully collaborative workspace, whether you’re employing a cloud-based application or not. Technology alone is not a solution, and focusing your efforts here alone is a surefire recipe for your collaboration goals to end up lost in the cloud. Instead, the key to improved workforce collaboration are in the underlying processes that enable your iWorkers to access more comprehensive, accurate and timely information.

Critical first steps to assessing your information processes.

The critical first step is assessing your information processes. Identify specific tasks, and how each step contributes to the business goal you are trying to accomplish, whether that is to service customers better, generate more leads for sales, deliver more competitive products, meet regulatory requirements, etc. In today’s enterprise, it is imperative to look for how the information flow does (or does not) cross Line of Business (LoB) boundaries, and potential points of integration with other processes and systems.

Bear in mind that the information needs of iWorkers are changing constantly, and the multiple generations of iWorkers now in the workforce have distinctly different preferences for the way they consume and use information. This has significant implications for the usability, training, and adoption of new collaboration applications — and the success of your collaboration initiatives.

One best practice is to actually follow an iWorker through a specific process, such as on-boarding a new customer or responding to a service request, step by step. Note where they get their information, if they get all they need in a timely fashion and in the format they require.

Research has found significant gaps in how iWorkers and managers perceive the effectiveness of their information processes. This is a prime opportunity to solicit feedback on what could help iWorkers do their job better.

Employee Disconnect.

In a Forrester study commissioned by Ricoh, by a factor of more than 2 to 1 over their managers, customer-facing workers felt constrained by “older systems” that sometimes forced customers to communicate with the company in ways they didn’t want to. On the other hand, by a factor of nearly 3 to 1, managers thought their customer-facing workers communicated well with customers through both old and new channels. That’s a huge disconnect, and it’s hurting your business relationship with your customers.

We have found that many information processes have simply not kept pace with what employees need — or customers want. And it might be time for you to take a look internally to see what you find. You may discover:

Steps that are no longer required or aren’t a high priority;
Information that’s available but not timely or in an easily accessible format;
Gaps in information available from other systems;
Processes that are clearly not defined as part of your core competence.

real world information challenges.

To combat these issues, there are benefits to making use of the broad industry — and cross-departmental experience — of a document process consultant. They have seen and dealt with many of the real-world information management challenges inherent in optimizing information processes, which can include everything from dealing with complex privacy regulations across industries and countries, or handling the internal aspects of change management, including education, training and morale.

An outside party can also look more broadly across departments and functions, bringing to bear lessons from multiple engagements across industries and geographies. They can often bring a new perspective to the way you’ve been approaching a problem.

Cloud-based collaboration tools can certainly help you grow your company, but clearly defining your business goals and mapping your process needs must come first. Remember that with every technological element, it’s still the people behind it who matter most. With help, you can stay grounded and make sure you don’t get lost in the cloud.
For more on information optimization and working with the cloud:

The Down-to-Earth Benefits of Cloud-Based Big Data Analytics
Optimizing Information Processes Can Super-Charge Big Data Analytics
Use of the Cloud in the Public Sector: Not All It Could Be
When Employees Speak Out About Process Improvement, How Well Are We Listening?

—————–
1 Forbes Insight, “Collaborating in the cloud,” sponsored by Cisco, 2013.

==============================================================================

Another coincidence: The New York Times’ Editor Choice of the article of the day relates to the death of its “media columnist” David Carr – a Monday columnist at the paper.

BUSINESS
David Carr, a Journalist at the Center of the Sweet Spot.
By A. O. SCOTT

Mr. Carr managed to see the complexities of digital-age journalism from every angle, and to write about them with unparalleled clarity and wit.

One of the New York Times’ most engaging and colorful personalities, Carr was a stalwart of the media beat, helping readers — and other journalists — make sense of the rapidly changing industry.

Carr wrote the “Media Equation” column for The Times, which was published on Mondays. His writing style was conversational, analytic and peppered with humor. A reporter’s reporter, Carr didn’t just write about journalism — he practiced it, taking on media heavyweights with in-depth pieces that exposed wrongdoing.
 money.cnn.com/2015/02/12/media/da…


“On a professional level, David was a giant,” Stelter said. “He was the most important, most influential reporter of this tumultuous era in media. Readers, journalists and media moguls all looked to him to make sense of the present chaos and contemplate the future. And David never disappointed. The future without him is terrible to contemplate.”

Bill Carter, another longtime colleague of Carr’s, wrote on Twitter, “Can’t possibly find words. David Carr was brilliant, funny, generous. My heart breaks for his family+his legion of friends. Proud to be one.”

Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., publisher of The Times, said in a statement that Carr was “one of the most gifted journalists” to ever work at the newspaper. Dean Baquet, the executive editor of paper, was equally effusive in his praise, describing Carr as “the finest media reporter of his generation,” and a “remarkable and funny man.”

“He was our biggest champion, and his unending passion for journalism and for truth will be missed by his family at The Times, by his readers around the world, and by people who love journalism,” Baquet said.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from: Bjoern Ecklundt  ecklundt at boell.de

Dear colleagues,

The website www.germanclimatefinance.de (in German: www.deutscheklimafinanzierung.de), jointly hosted by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, Oxfam Germany, Bread for the World and Germanwatch, offers background information, up to date analysis and a project database (database currently in German only) on Germany’s contribution to international climate finance.

Starting into 2015, the year crucial for climate politics, we would like to draw your attention to recent blog posts on www.germanclimatefinance.de:

Climate Finance: Work to Be Done Before Paris. This week, negotiations on a new, comprehensive agreement to combat climate change are entering the home stretch. The meeting in Geneva is the last round of talks before the first draft of the new climate treaty is presented in May. One of the more difficult subjects is climate finance. Jan Kowalzig / Oxfam Germany

Climate Finance: For Transformative Change. Five years from the next big ‘deadline on climate’, world leaders are still negotiating over deadlines. They are nowhere near agreeing on, much less mobilizing, even a basic roadmap for ensuring the fulfillment of commitments made by northern countries to the global south. From a civil society perspective we have elaborated a few first principles for financing real transformation in a future climate regime and beyond. Lauren Tetet / IBON, Philippines

German government: KfW and Hermes continue to finance dirty coal abroad. Coal is the number-one climate killer, a fact that has prompted numerous countries – including the United Kingdom and the United States – to largely withdraw from financing coal projects abroad with public funds. Shortly before Christmas the federal government reached a decision on its funding policy for coal projects, as can be read in its report on international coal finance to the Economic Committee of the Bundestag. What did it contain? Bastian Neuwirth / Oxfam Germany

Conclusions on climate finance in Lima. Finance, as in previous climate meetings, was considered a linchpin for achieving an ambitious new climate treaty. The outcome of Lima proved this analysis – which has become an adage of COP forecasts of success – once again correct. If it hadn’t been for the first pledging meeting for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) in Berlin in late November, the COP 20 in Lima would not have had anything of significance to report on climate finance. Liane Schalatek / Heinrich Böll Foundation

More posts can be found on the blog

We are more than happy to receive your critique, comments and ideas. Enjoy the reading!

Warm regards,
Björn Ecklundt

Björn Ecklundt
Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung
Projektmanagement
Internationale Umweltpolitik / Ecology and Sustainable Development
Schumannstraße 8
10117 Berlin
T +49-(0)30-28534-315
F +49-(0)30-28534-209
E  ecklundt at boell.de | www.boell.de

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


New opportunity for EU support for climate action in Eastern Partnership countries

from: Zsolt Lengyel –  zsolt.lengyel at climaeast.eu

February 10, 2015

Dear Madam/Sir,

We are pleased to inform you that the Clima East Expert Facility (EF) has a new round for applications for support from eligible organisations involved with climate actions, targeting both mitigation and adaptation in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

In this round we will also accept collaborative applications from two or more beneficiary organizations. This track should enable sectoral ministries, other national or local administration bodies, and in particular civil society organisations, to contribute successfully to the definition, development and delivery of national climate policy and actions.


The Clima East Expert Facility is one of the channels through which the European Commission funded Clima East project provides technical assistance to Partner Countries’ stakeholders to facilitate the development, adoption and implementation of effective and appropriate climate change mitigation and adaptation policies and actions.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 9th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


ISIL Oil Control and Financing

February 18, 2015, 5:30 – 8:00 PM
McGraw-Hill Building – 12th Floor
Two Penn Plaza
New York City, NY 10121

PLEASE NOTE OUR NEW VENUE: McGraw-Hill Building, Two Penn Plaza (on top of Penn Station), 12th Floor, New York, NY 10121

Please join the New York Energy Forum for a panel discussion on Wednesday, February 18th. Mr. Rick Westerdale will discuss a recent presentation by the U.S. Department of State on topic of oil control and financing by the Islamic rebel group in Iraq and Syria. Mr. Karwan Zebari, Director at the Kurdish Regional Government Mission in DC, will then provide additional insight on the political and security outlook as well as the energy implications in Iraq.

SPEAKERS:

Rick Westerdale

Richard (Rick) W. Westerdale II is Director of the Energy Resources Bureau’s Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy Office in the U.S. State Department. He leads and directs efforts to identify, analyze, and evaluate the strategic importance of policies in international energy affairs including governance, access to energy, use of renewables and low carbon technologies, and increasing access to conventional energy resources. He represents the Department in a variety of senior-level engagements and carries out official visits to advance international engagement, forge cooperation with partner-nations and establish agreements on a range of energy security policy initiatives. Prior to his current assignment in Washington, Mr. Westerdale was responsible for providing expert commercial & technical advice, guidance, and leadership in the oil and gas sector with a specialization in Energy at the United States Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.

Karwan Zebari

Karwan Zebari is currently the Director of Congressional & Academic Affairs at the Kurdistan Regional Government Representation in the United States, based in Washington, DC. Within his capacity Mr. Zebari works closely with Congress on all matters relating to Kurdistan Region of Iraq; strengthening the ties between the legislative body of the US government and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Mr. Zebari oversees all academic research dealing with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq from any US-based academic institution. Mr. Zebari holds a Bachelor degree from the State University of New York Institute of Technology and a Master from Binghamton University. In 2006, he was awarded the New York State Technology Association Scholar of the year. He has worked for several Department of Defense Aerospace & Defense contractors. He is also the co-founder of the American Kurdish Council and was the President of the New York Chapter from 2009 till 2011 where he mobilized the upstate New York Kurdish communities to become active in the local, state, and national grassroots efforts. Mr. Zebari has appeared on many local, national, and international media outlets.

MODERATOR: David Knapp

David Knapp is President, Energy Forum Advisory Board and Chief Energy Economist and Senior Editor for Global Oil Market Analysis at Energy Intelligence Group in New York. He is Editor of EIG’s monthly Oil Market Intelligence. He has analyzed energy markets for 40 years in the international, government, business and financial sectors. Dr. Knapp holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

PROGRAM:

5:30 – 6:00 PM: Registration
6:00 – 7:30 PM: Presentation and Discussion
7:30 – 8:00 PM: Reception

COST:

$40.00 for General Admission
$10.00 for Academic/Military
$0.00 for Energy Forum Sponsors
$0.00 for Energy Forum Subscribers

Online registration is necessary in order to facilitate building security requirements.

PLEASE NOTE WE HAVE A NEW VENUE: McGraw-Hill Building, Two Penn Plaza (on top of Penn Station), 12th Floor, New York, NY 10121

QUESTIONS:

We would be pleased to answer any questions you might have about The Energy Forum, Inc. or about this session.

Contact: Lila Noury

Online Registration

====================================

PLEASE NOTE WE HAVE A NEW VENUE: McGraw-Hill Building, Two Penn Plaza (on top of Penn Station), 12th Floor, New York, NY 10121

QUESTIONS:

We would be pleased to answer any questions you might have about The Energy Forum, Inc. or about this session.

Contact: Lila Noury

Online Registration

=====================================

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 9th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Koch Primary (and What It Means for Climate).

By Rachel Rye Butler, Greenpeace

08 February 15


News leaked this week that the Koch brothers’ billionaire network plans to spend nearly $900 million in fossil fuel and other corporate money to try to get their way in the 2016 election– in other words, the Kochs and their cronies are planning to spend astronomically to prevent action on climate (as well as income inequality, voting rights, affordable healthcare, and many other issues of importance to the 99%).

The $889 million the Kochs plan to spend is more than the 2012 campaign budget for either the Democratic or the Republican party, and more than the Obama campaign spent in 2008, marking a shift in US politics that’s been underway since Citizens United.


Welcome to the Koch Primary: Candidates who want access to this giant hoard of campaign cash have to line up to protect the Kochs’ fossil fuel interests and prevent action on climate change. Some are calling this the Koch Primary, where candidates compete to show that the interests of the fossil fuel billionaires are at the top of their agenda.

Last weekend, the Kochs hosted the first of their twice-yearly secretive meetings for their corporate billionaire friends, during which they shared their $889 million election plans. A number of Republican presidential hopefuls– Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Scott Walker– attended the conference.

Hedging their bets against action on climate:

So why would the Kochs and their network be motivated to spend so heavily in 2016?

Despite the fact that the Kochs are certainly a key piece of the Republican machine, helping the party elect candidates across the country, the Kochs aren’t actually motivated by the interests of the Republican Party or any party. They are motivated by protecting their oil and chemical empire from regulation, no matter what.

When a supermajority of the public wants action on climate, it’s worth it for the Kochs to buy the allegiance of candidates who will walk the climate denial line, work to protect fossil fuel subsidies, and rubber stamp pet fossil fuel projects like the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

In outspending the party machinery, the Koch network is hedging their bets against the fact that the public wants action on climate while providing a major incentive to candidates and congressional allies to not only hold the line on climate denial but hamper any actions or proposals coming out of the EPA or the White House.

Meanwhile, the Republican party and fossil-backed Democrats will struggle to both please their super-rich donors and appeal to voters who aren’t buying the “I’m not a scientist” climate denial dodge.

The Koch strategy to destroy democracy:

Looking beyond the headlines, the Koch Primary and their $889 million campaign budget is the result of the Koch strategy at work.

To protect their fossil fuel interests, which are at odds with the public’s desire for a safe climate, clean water, and healthy air to breathe, the Kochs have spent the last several decades radically changing the face of American democracy, and investing major amounts of money in think tanks and other outlets involved in climate denial.

They’ve also worked long and hard to tear down laws and protections that limit corporate control of our elected officials, dumping ever more money in politics, along with campaigns and strategic litigation designed to suppress or disenfranchise key groups of voters, especially low-income and people of color. The goal is a world where candidates serve the interests of oily billionaires and their super-rich friends rather than those of the people.

In the Koch strategy to protect their fossil fuel interests, democracy has to go, and what’s at stake is our climate, and our very ability to survive on this planet.

We the People:

The people, however, know what’s going on. They know that Koch and other fossil fuel money are behind Congress’s votes to approve the Keystone XL pipeline and protect tax breaks for polluters. They can hear the “ch-ching!” of fossil fuel cash every time a candidate says the words, “I’m not a scientist,” or “Climate change is a hoax.”

The Kochs are hoping that the people won’t believe that it’s possible to take back our democracy from the super-rich and will simply give up. They’re hoping that the people won’t turn out to vote while at the same time they’re working to make it harder to do so (check out voter ID laws and other dirty tricks.)

They’re hoping that people will just accept this brave new world– and this is where they’re wrong.

Literally millions of people across the US are fed up with corporate control and are calling for our democracy to be returned to the people.

Four hundred thousand marched at at the People’s Climate March in September 2014.

Five million plus have called for Citizens United to be overturned.

Organizations representing millions of members from environmental, civil rights, labor, and other organizations are banding together in a new coalition to take back our democracy. And we also know that to take back our democracy, we need all of us.

What if – The overwhelmingly majority of Americans don’t accept the Koch takeover of democracy. The Kochs have a lot to lose, or they wouldn’t be spending so much to keep their candidates in line. Because for the Kochs, what would happen if millions of people got together to ask the question, “Who do you really represent?”

We might get the democracy – and the climate action – we deserve.

One Comment:

+1 # A_Har 2015-02-08 15:15
There is one thing we can count on for 2016–disgusting as it is: the Kochsucker politicians will all line up to felate their corporate masters.

After all with Citizens United Money is Free $peech.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2015 – GENEVA HIGHLIGHTS – First day of the new start-up Session:

On Sunday morning, the ADP opening plenary took place. In the morning and afternoon, the ADP contact group on item 3 (implementation of all the elements of Decision 1/CP.17) convened.

ADP OPENING PLENARY

COP 20 President Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Minister of the Environment, Peru, called on parties to maintain the momentum generated in Lima and work responsibly, efficiently and in a spirit of compromise. ADP Co-Chair Ahmed Djoghlaf (Algeria) called on delegates “to keep the promise made to our children in Durban.”

ITEM 3: Co-Chair Daniel Reifsnyder (US) underscored the objective of delivering a negotiating text on Friday and that the main task of the ADP contact group will be to ensure that the text fully reflects parties’ positions. Parties agreed to the proposed organization of work.

South Africa, for G-77/CHINA, noted that: the elements for a draft negotiating text annexed to Decision 1/CP.20 (Lima Call for Climate Action) are not fully negotiated; streamlining of options must be based on consensus; and parties’ views must be reflected in the text in a balanced manner.

The EU urged progress on: ensuring dynamism in the 2015 agreement through regular review of ambition; clarifying how the agreement will deliver transparency and accountability with respect to mitigation; delivering climate resilience through adaptation and climate finance; and enhancing mitigation before 2020. Australia, for the UMBRELLA GROUP, proposed distinguishing content that needs to be included in a legal agreement from content that is more appropriate for a COP decision. Switzerland, for the ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY GROUP, proposed break-out groups to address specific issues and urged focusing on streamlining the text.

ADP CONTACT GROUP

GENERAL/OBJECTIVE: On Section C “General/Objective” Co-Chair Reifsnyder suggested bracketing it and reflecting that some parties feel that the Section is not necessary.

Parties made suggestions to add text and identified opportunities for consolidation.

The US questioned the need for a separate Section on objectives. BRAZIL identified the Section as necessary to explain why a new agreement is needed. SAUDI ARABIA suggested omitting the Section, but if retained, then reflecting the objective in one to two paragraphs. Several parties suggested focusing the Section on the agreement’s overall objective and including details on how to achieve this objective elsewhere. SINGAPORE called for addressing the relationship between the Convention and the new agreement.

Maldives, for AOSIS, called for a reference to science on keeping the average temperature increase below 1.5 °C. JAMAICA proposed text on ensuring significant and rapid global greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions of at least 70-90% by 2050. The EU underscored the need to reach zero net emissions of CO2 and other long-lived GHGs by the end of the century to ensure consistency with the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report. SWITZERLAND agreed on the need to reflect the objective of achieving zero net GHG emissions. BRAZIL warned that references to the IPCC could lead to politicization.

Sudan, for the AFRICAN GROUP, highlighted a new proposal on loss and damage. AOSIS underscored the need for high ambition from all parties; interlinkages between mitigation and adaptation; and addressing loss and damage.

BRAZIL lamented that parts of the text are not in line with the Lima outcome, such as references to “evolving CBDR.” He supported undertakings by all Parties. The US proposed categorizing developed and developing countries into two new annexes.

Malaysia, for the LMDCs, called for addressing adaptation with the same urgency as mitigation. He proposed emphasizing, inter alia, the link between developing countries’ mitigation actions and enhanced support by developed countries; and that developed countries must not resort to any unilateral measures on climate change. SAUDI ARABIA suggested combining text on ensuring resilience and adaptive capacity with text on ensuring that all investments are resilient to climate change.

Several parties supported including text on gender equality. Tuvalu, for the LDCs, identified similarities between the proposals. MEXICO, supported by UGANDA, CHILE and BOLIVIA, also suggested text on human rights. Tuvalu, for LDCs, called for language on universal participation, human rights and rights of people with disabilities.

Co-Chair Reifsnyder indicated that informal discussion on the Section can be reconsidered at a later stage. He expressed satisfaction with progress made and said parties’ proposals together with revised Section C will be made available online promptly.

MITIGATION: In the afternoon, the contact group focused on Section D on mitigation.

Argentina, for the LMDCs, underscored, inter alia, that commitments, contributions and actions should comply with the Convention’s principles and obligations, with developed country parties undertaking quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives (QELROs) that are comparable, verifiable and implemented without any conditions. She added that developing country actions may include REDD+ and joint adaptation and mitigation, in accordance with their specific circumstances and needs.

Chile, for AILAC, suggested text on distinguishing between ex ante and ex post review of INDCs, proposing that all parties make successive mitigation commitments. On the use of market mechanisms in the land-use sector, he suggested including references to: environmental integrity; avoiding double counting; and a levy to support climate change resilience in developing countries.

Panama, for CfRN, called for: the REDD+ framework be reflected and anchored in the new agreement; applying safeguards; and strengthening institutional arrangements under the Convention based on Decision 10/CP.19 on support for the implementation of mitigation activities in the forest sector by developing countries.

The EU, inter alia: emphasized accounting rules and suggested bringing these from the Section on transparency of action and support, into the Section on mitigation. He proposed separating text on land use and market mechanisms. He highlighted the need for parties to periodically review and update their commitments. AUSTRALIA proposed text on national schedules and intended mitigation contributions, including that each party individually update their respective national schedules in accordance with modalities to be agreed by the governing body.

Kenya, for the AFRICAN GROUP, emphasized developed countries’ obligation to provide MOI, and that social and economic development and poverty eradication are first and overriding priorities for developing countries. Maldives, for SIDS, proposed, inter alia, that proceeds from the use of market mechanisms will be used for meeting the costs of adaptation in the most vulnerable developing countries.

Underlying the importance of text on peaking of global GHG emissions as soon as possible, TANZANIA proposed text specifying these efforts be quantitative and time-bound for developed countries and aspirational for developing countries.

The US proposed replacing references to developed or developing countries throughout the text be replaced with reference to new annexes y and x. He proposed text to provide clarity on how parties engage in consultations on future cycles of contributions, specifying that parties should submit INDCs no later than six months before the beginning of each cycle. CANADA proposed text suggesting that all parties prepare national inventory reports in accordance with IPCC guidance.

BRAZIL suggested text on an economic mechanism comprising an emissions trading system (ETS) and an enhanced Clean Development Mechanism (CDM+). He explained that parties with quantified mitigation targets could use ETS and CDM+ to supplement domestic action, and developing countries may participate in CDM+ projects on a voluntary basis. He emphasized voluntary cancellations of Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) to enhance environmental integrity, saying cancelled CERs could be used to meet quantified financing targets or pledges but not mitigation targets.

SENEGAL stated that market mechanisms and actions in the land-use sector should contribute to the sustainable development of the host countries. He proposed a centrally governed market mechanism under the Convention, building on existing market mechanisms. ETHIOPIA announced a new submission clarifying the details of market mechanisms in the 2015 agreement.

SOUTH AFRICA stressed review as an integral part of a dynamic contribution cycle. She proposed text on common accounting rules to be developed by the COP. NEW ZEALAND noted that accounting rules must be more explicitly addressed in Section D, and, with NORWAY, stressed the importance of avoiding double-counting.

BOLIVIA stressed the need for inclusion of alternative, non-market, and joint mitigation and adaptation approaches, and for adding text on “the protection and integrity of Mother Earth.” On a global emission budget, ETHIOPIA proposed including a reference to national per capita emissions and taking into account historical emissions.

——————————————-

IN THE CORRIDORS

On a cold but sunny Sunday morning, delegates arrived in the historic Palais des Nations for the first of several negotiating sessions leading to Paris. Many felt the meeting got off to a good start. The opening plenary was described as “surprisingly short” and many expressed appreciation for the gesture by many negotiating groups to submit their opening statements electronically in the interest of time.

The ADP morning contact group made good progress and closed ahead of schedule. In the afternoon contact group, the mitigation section of the text grew in length with a total of 52 new proposals made. Regardless, that meeting closed an hour ahead of schedule. Pleased with the progress, Co-Chair Reifsnyder joked that continuing with such efficiency, “we will definitely have an agreement in Paris – or even before.”

Having consulted with the negotiating group leaders, the Co-Chairs proposed to speed things up and collect all new textual proposals on Monday in order to focus the rest of the session on streamlining the text. On that note, many delegates said they anticipated a late evening to finalize negotiating groups’ internal coordinations on new text.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Buch: „Der Wiener Gipfel 1961. Kennedy – Chruschtschow“ in den USA ausgezeichnet.

Die 2014 in der „Harvard Cold War Studies Book Series“ erschienene Publikation “The Vienna Summit and its importance in international history” des Ludwig Boltzmann-Instituts fuer Kriegsfolgen-Forschung wurde vom angesehenen amerikanischen Rezensionsmagazin “Choice” im Bereich “History, Geography & Area Studies” als eines von 14 Buechern zum “Outstanding Academic Title 2014″ gekuert. Sie ist nach dem Buch zum “Prager Fruehling” 2010 die zweite Veroeffentlichung des Instituts, der diese internationale Auszeichnung zuteil wird. Die Publikation entstand in Kooperation mit dem Center Austria an der University of New Orleans, das fuer Lektorat, Registererstellung und Koordination mit verantwortlich zeichnete.

“Choice” begruendet seine Auswahl damit, dass diese Publikation das Treffen John F. Kennedys mit Nikita S. Chruschtschow 1961 in Wien unter Beteiligung international fu?hrender Experten aus verschiedenen Blickwinkeln beleuchtet und in die internationale politische Situation Anfang der 1960er-Jahre einbettet. Sie leistet damit einen sehr wertvollen Beitrag zur Forschung nicht nur zum Treffen selbst, sondern zum gesamten Kalten Krieg und vermag auch erstmals Einblicke in den sowjetischen Entscheidungsprozess zu geben. Das Fachmagazin empfiehlt dieses Buch daher allen Fachbibliotheken weltweit als grundlegende Lektu?re und stuft dessen Bedeutung fu?r die Forschungslandschaft mit der ho?chsten Bewertung des Journals, „Essential“, ein.

Die Publikation, herausgegeben von Guenther Bischof, Stefan Karner und Barbara Stelzl-Marx umfasst 534 Seiten und ist sowohl in gedruckter Form als Hardcover als auch als E-book erhaeltlich. 2015 soll sie zudem als Paperback-Ausgabe erscheinen.

In 2015 the book will appear also in a soft-cover print edition.

Weitere Informationen zur Publikation unter:
Ludwig Boltzmann-Institut fuer Kriegsfolgen-Forschung Schoergelgasse 43
8010 Graz, Austria

www.bik.ac.at  bik-graz at bik.ac.at

Das Buch ist uber den Verlag Lexington Books erha?ltlich. CAN BE OBTAINED THROUGH LEXINGTON BOOK PUBLISHERS.

===========================================

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor to the New York Times

Heraclitus Hikes the Andes // Global Warming Changes Everything

By ARIEL DORFMANFEB. 6, 2015

SANTIAGO, Chile — I HAVE recently been able to confirm, through sad and indisputable evidence, that Heraclitus was right when he wrote that we can never step into the same river twice. I doubt, of course, that that pre-Socratic philosopher, when coining the phrase two and a half millenniums ago about the implacable flux of time, had in mind the ecological destruction of the planet, the abyss toward which our greed and inability to courageously confront global warming are leading us.

I’ve been thinking about Heraclitus recently, in the throes of Chile’s hot summer. Of the many enchanting expanses near Santiago, I have always been especially attracted to the Cajón del Maipo, a narrow valley of spectacular cliffs that the Maipo River has been excavating for millions of years. One of the most fabulous places in that canyon is a waterfall, which the locals called “Cascada de las Ánimas,” the waterfall of the spirits. Arrieros — mule drivers — baptized it with that name over a century ago, when, after crossing the mountains with their livestock, they stopped there to gratefully drink, and claimed to have glimpsed two semitransparent maidens dancing behind that cataract, along with duendes (mischievous elves) gamboling nearby.

More than 40 years ago, in our youth, my wife, Angélica, and I would hike into the lower reaches of the Andes, and on one occasion we managed to scramble up hundreds of meters, all the way to the waterfall. Not discovering any humans, let alone legendary damsels or duendes, I once decided to freshen my body by plunging into those crystal, icy waters sent to us by the faraway snow of the mountains. Angélica, always more prudent, preferred to taste the waters with the cup of her hands.

A few days ago we returned to the Cajón del Maipo, and I wanted, from the nostalgia of 2015, to return to that magical cascade. Though Angélica decided not to join the expedition, I was accompanied this time by Pedro Sánchez, my brother-in-law, who had visited the falls a few years before and reported that it was still the same enchanting site. But it was no longer possible to venture into those mountains as freely as before. The cascade now streams inside an ecological sanctuary. The only way to see it was through a guided tour that we had to contract through an adjacent tourist resort.

Though the experience of ascending those paths with someone perpetually explaining the landscape, along with several families with noisy children, did not reproduce the solitary setting of my memories, the scenery was still magnificent, full of native trees and bushes, teeming with animal life. And there was always the expectation of the great cataract at the end of our upward trek.

Nothing of the sort. From the heights a trickle of water fell toward the same rocky cavernous basin of yesteryear, which now barely allowed anyone to wade in up to the knees. Swimming was forbidden anyway, as the tourists had all swabbed their skin with sunscreen and creams and might contaminate the purity of that fountain.

My brother-in-law was surprised that, in a few scant years, the water level could have dropped so drastically. Several other members of the group, who had been there a decade ago, expressed a similar alarm: Clearly the snow of the Andes was no longer as potent or plentiful, drying up before it had a chance to fully reach the cascades. My eyes were able to measure, right there in front of me, the incontrovertible effect that merciless global warming has on our environment.

That was not the worst news. Soon only a thin thread of water would be falling, drop by drop, from the stones above our head and, within a few years, the waterfall itself would probably no longer exist. It was haunted, not by duendes or the benevolent ghosts of maidens, but by a hydroelectric dam being built upriver to provide energy to the insatiable citizens and industries of Chile. The protests by activists and the inhabitants of the Cajón del Maipo had been unable to detain this menace to that natural habitat.

Helping to make that hydroelectric plant unstoppable is the fact that the consortium behind it is partly controlled by the Luksic Group, Chile’s largest corporation. The company prospered and expanded obscenely thanks to the savage neoliberal policies of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, which lasted from 1973 to 1990, and it has continued its tentacular growth under subsequent democratic governments.

Heraclitus of Ephesus had two nicknames. Some called him the Obscure, because his sayings were full of contradictions (indeed like the flow of rivers), and the Weeping Philosopher, because he apparently would sob uncontrollably as he meditated on the state of the world and incessant death.

As I stared at the besieged Cascada de las Ánimas, both nicknames came to mind. Pedro and I were enjoying a splendid day of summer sun that made the mountains and the lizards glow, but over that place hovered darkness, the obscure shadows of the future, presaging that not all was to be light and wonder for our species.

And Heraclitus, who never dreamed of a hydroelectric dam, or of avid and arid corporations, or of a planet heading toward a new extinction, would cry a cataract, an ocean, a deluge of tears if resurrected, forced to recognize that, in a way he could not have imagined, we will never again be able to bathe in the same river.

—————————————————————–
Ariel Dorfman is the author of the play “Death and the Maiden” and, most recently, a memoir, “Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile.”

A version of this op-ed appears in print on February 6, 2015, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: Heraclitus Hikes the Andes.

———————————————

Some of the Comments:

Alex
8 minutes ago

Thanks you, Mr. Dorfman, for helping us feel the loss of beauty that the steady adaptation of the planet to an ever-expanding human…

Stoofus
8 minutes ago

Eloquent, sad, chilling.

###