quarta-feira, janeiro 23, 2008

Beyond the point of no return

From a more personal viewpoint, an acknowledgement of the reality of escalating climate change plays havoc with one's sense of future. It is almost as though a lone ocean voyager were suddenly to lose sight of the North Star. It deprives one of an inner sense of navigation. To live without at least an open-ended sense of future (even if it's not an optimistic one) is to open one's self to a morass of conflicting impulses -- from the anticipated thrill of a reckless plunge into hedonism to a profoundly demoralizing sense of hopelessness and a feeling that a lifelong guiding sense of purpose has suddenly evaporated.

This slow-motion collapse of the planet leaves us with the bitterest kind of awakening. For parents of young children, it provokes the most intimate kind of despair. For people whose happiness derives from a fulfilling sense of achievement in their work, this realization feels like a sudden, violent mugging. For those who feel a debt to all those past generations who worked so hard to create this civilization we have enjoyed, it feels like the ultimate trashing of history and tradition. For anyone anywhere who truly absorbs this reality and all that it implies, this realization leads into the deepest center of grief.

There needs to be another kind of thinking that centers neither on the profoundly dishonest denial promoted by the coal and oil industries, nor the misleading optimism of the environmental movement, nor the fatalistic indifference of the majority of people who just don't want to know.

There needs to be a vision that accommodates both the truth of the coming cataclysm and the profoundly human need for a sense of future.

That vision needs to be framed by the truly global nature of the problem. It starts with the recognition that this historical era of nationalism has become a stubborn, increasingly toxic impediment to our collective future. We all need to begin to think of ourselves -- now -- as citizens of one profoundly distressed planet.

I think that understanding involves a recognition that a clean environment is about far more than endangered species, toxic substances, and the "dead zones" that keep spreading off our shorelines. A clean environment is a basic human right. And without it, all the other human rights for which we have worked so hard will end up as grotesque caricatures of some of our deepest aspirations.

segunda-feira, janeiro 21, 2008

France suspends GM maize, citing new scientific evidence

domingo, janeiro 13, 2008

Os problemas nucleares são para esquecer

Publicado a 11 de Janeiro no "Público".

segunda-feira, janeiro 07, 2008

The plastic killing fields

Continents of garbage in the oceans are killing marine life and releasing poisons that enter the human food chain, Amanda Woods reports. In one of the few places on Earth where people can rarely be found, the human race has well and truly made its mark. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean lies a floating garbage patch twice the size of Britain. A place where the water is filled with six times as much plastic as plankton. This plastic-plankton soup is entering the food chain and heading for your dinner table.

For hundreds of years, sailors and fisherman have known to avoid the area between the Equator and 50 degrees north latitude about halfway between California and Hawaii. As one of the ocean's deserts, the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre lacks the wind that sailors need to survive, as well as the nutrients to support large fish or the men who hunt them.

But 10 years ago, Captain Charles Moore took a short cut through the airless doldrums in his catamaran, Alguita, and caught sight of something that changed his life. As he looked out at what should have been a clear blue ocean, Moore saw a sea of plastic. As far as he could see, day after day, were bottles, wrappers and fragments of plastic in every colour.

Historically, the ocean's circular currents have led to accumulation of flotsam and jetsam in the subtropical high, where the waste has biodegraded with the help of marine micro-organisms. But since humans developed a material designed for durability, which can survive exposure to any bacteria, the gyre has been filling with a substance it can't get rid of. Rather than biodegrading, plastic photodegrades, breaking down in the sunlight into smaller and smaller pieces. But no matter how small it gets, it's still plastic, and causes havoc when it enters the stomachs of marine life.

Ian Kiernan, the Australian who founded Clean Up the World, started his environmental campaign 20 years ago after he became appalled by the amount of rubbish he saw on an around-the-world solo yacht race. He'll never forget the first time he saw the gyre.

"It was just filled with things like furniture, fridges, plastic containers, cigarette lighters, plastic bottles, light globes, televisions and fishing nets," Kiernan says.

"It's all so durable it floats. It's just a major problem."

He picks up an ashtray filled with worn-down coloured pieces of plastic. "This is the contents of a fleshy-footed shearwater's stomach," he says. "They go to the ocean to fish but there ain't no fish - there's plastic. They then regurgitate it down the necks of their fledglings and it kills them. After the birds decompose, the plastic gets washed back into the ocean where it can kill again. It's a form of ghost fishing, where it goes on and on."

With gyres in each of the oceans, connected by debris highways, the problem isn't restricted to the North Pacific Gyre. It is estimated there are more than 13,000 pieces of plastic litter on every square kilometre of the ocean surface.

The United Nations Environment Program says plastic is accountable for the deaths of more than a million seabirds and more than 100,000 marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and seals every year. A Dutch study in the North Sea of fulmar seabirds concluded 95 per cent of the birds had plastic in their stomachs. More than 1600 pieces were found in the stomach of one bird in Belgium.

Since his first encounter with the gyre in 1997, Moore has returned several times and created the Algalita Marine Research Foundation to study the problem. The Canadian filmmaker Ian Connacher joined Moore in 2005 and again last year to film the garbage patch for his documentary, I Am Plastic. After a week of sailing from Long Beach, California, Connacher was not prepared for what he saw.

"Charlie once found a mile-long trail of Taco Bell wrappers which had plastic in them. I didn't see anything like that, but that's not the point, because it's the little bits that are really making it a plastic soup," Connacher says.

"The most menacing part is those little bits of plastic start looking like food for certain animals, or the filter feeders don't have any choice, they just pick them up." Then there's the plastic that doesn't float. Greenpeace reports that about 70 per cent of the plastic that makes it to the ocean sinks to the bottom, where it can smother marine life. Greenpeace says Dutch scientists have found 600,000 tonnes of discarded plastic on the bottom of the North Sea alone.

A study by the Japanese geochemist Hideshige Takada and his colleagues at Tokyo University in 2001 found that plastic polymers act like a sponge for resilient poisons such as DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls. Takada's team found non-water-soluble toxic chemicals can be found in plastic in levels as high as a million times their concentration in water.

As small pieces of plastic are mistaken for fish eggs and other food by marine life, these toxins enter the food chain. Even without this extra toxic load, eating plastic can be hazardous to the health.

In 2002 a study of hermaphrodite fish led Canadian scientists to link oestrogen in water to abnormal sex organs in fish. Several plastic additives have been found to mimic oestrogen. Some experts, such as Frederick vom Saal, a professor of biological sciences at Missouri University, say declining fertility rates in humans could be linked to exposure to synthetic oestrogen in plastics.

Some of the ocean's plastic arrives over the side of a ship as litter, and some is the result of containers falling into the ocean. But Greenpeace says about 80 per cent of plastic found at sea is washed out from the land.

The journal Science last year predicted seafood stocks would collapse by 2048 if overfishing and pollution continued.

Greenpeace says embracing the three Rs - reduce, re-use and recycle - would help tackle the problem. Plastic recycling is lagging well behind paper and cardboard, as people are confused about what recycling is available in their areas. There are other challenges for plastic recycling, such as the fact that it can release toxic chemicals into the atmosphere, and that it is more expensive to recycle some plastic than to create a new product from petrochemicals.
Oceans Are the New Atmosphere
Disposable Oceans?
Are There Really 'Continents' of Floating Garbage?
Trashing the Oceans
Oceanographic Research Vessel Alguita
Feds want to survey, possibly clean up vast garbage pit in Pacific
ORV Alguita
Watch a preview of "Synthetic Sea"
Giant garbage patch floating in Pacific
The world's rubbish dump: a garbage tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan
Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans

quinta-feira, janeiro 03, 2008

A raíz de todos os problemas

Já aqui disse que o sistema financeiro global é uma "Dona Branca" e que é preciso cortar o mal pela raíz mas esqueci-me de mencionar que os nossos próprios pés estão assentes nessa raíz. Por isso, cuidado, mude de poiso antes de a cortar.

Mas tem que a cortar. Não é possível continuar a pagar juros pois todo o valor que nós, comuns mortais, "criamos" só pode resultar de recursos tangíveis. Os banqueiros, por outro lado, efectivamente criam dinheiro sempre que fazem um empréstimo. Acerca deste assunto, recomendo vivamente este video.

E tem que a cortar rapidamente. Como também já aqui mencionei, as "Donas Brancas" acabam sempre por falir e parece que o sistema financeiro global está por pouco tempo:

E agora, só mais alguns links: http://www.lovethetruth.com/truth_about_money.htm http://paulgrignon.netfirms.com/MoneyasDebt/references.htm

Mais uma morte para a história

É curioso como são assassinadas as pessoas potencialmente mais capazes de promover a paz no mundo.