22 May 2018   Leave a comment

Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have done an interesting and bold analysis of the human impact on the natural environment over time.  The study is important because it places the human impact of climate change in context:  many climate change deniers believe that it is unlikely that human activity could change the global environment because the environment is determined by many other–and in their minds, more substantial–effects.  The researchers–Yinon M. Bar-OnRob Phillips, and Ron Milo–have found that humans have had a profound effect on the planet.    The research–which is rooted in a number of assumptions that deserve close inspection–found that

“The world’s 7.6 billion people represent only 0.01% of all living things, according to researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. However, our impact on nature is disproportionately huge. After Ron Milo and colleagues in Israel estimated all of the different components of biomass, they eventually calculated that humans have caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of all plants….The researchers estimate that of all birds on the planet, 70% are farmed poultry, with just 30% being wild. For mammals, the picture is even grimmer: 60% of all mammals on Earth are livestock, mostly cattle and pigs, 36% are the humans themselves, and a mere 4% are wild mammals.

“Five-sixths of wild land animals have been lost since the industrial revolution began, over than a century and a half ago. Meanwhile, in the oceans, three centuries of whaling and aggressive fishing have reduced marine mammals to a fifth of what they were.”

The research suggests that “about half the Earth’s animals are thought to have been lost in the last 50 years.”

 

Weather and violent conflicts account for most of the world’s refugees.  About 12 million people last year were displaced by weather events and 18 million because of violent conflicts.  That means that about 80,000 people lost their homes every day in 2017.  Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo are the top two countries responsible for refugees, but there are only incomplete counts for Yemen because of the violence in that country.   The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) is an Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that attempts to monitor the flow of refugees in the world and their website contains a wealth of information about people that are generally forgotten by most in the world.

 

US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has given a speech in which he outlines a number of steps to which the Iranian government must agree in order to revive US participation in a nuclear agreement.  Those demands were as follows:

  • Declare to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear programme and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity.
  • Stop enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing, including closing its heavy water reactor.
  • Provide the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country.
  • End its proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development of nuclear-capable missile systems.
  • Release all US citizens as well as citizens of US partners and allies.
  • End support to Middle East “terrorist” groups, including HezbollahHamas and Islamic Jihad.
  • Respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi government and permit the disarming, demobilisation and reintegration of Shia militias.
  • End its military support for the Houthi rebels and work towards a peaceful, political settlement in Yemen.
  • Withdraw all forces under Iran’s command throughout the entirety of Syria.
  • End support for the Taliban and other “terrorists” in Afghanistan and the region and cease harbouring senior al-Qaeda leaders.
  • End the Islamic Revolutionary Guard corps-linked Quds Force’s support for “terrorists” and “militant” partners around the world.
  • End its threatening behaviour against its neighbours, many of whom are US allies, including its threats to destroy Israel and its firing of missiles at Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and threats to international shipping and destructive cyberattacks.

This list is symptomatic of profound delirium.  It appears as if the list of demands are calculated to ensure Iranian non-cooperation since they essentially demand that Iran agree to submit its foreign policy to American interests.  The step suggests that the only recourse for the US is to use violence to achieve its ends with respect to Iran.

For those who like to make analogies with history, here is the list of similarly unreasonable demands made by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire to Serbia after the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in July of 1914:

“In order to attain this end, the Imperial and Royal Government finds itself compelled to demand that the Serbian Government give official assurance that it will condemn the propaganda directed against Austria-Hungary, that is to say, the whole body of the efforts whose ultimate object it is to separate from the Monarchy territories that belong to it; and that it will obligate itself to suppress with all the means at its command this criminal and terroristic propaganda. In order to give these assurances a character of solemnity, the Royal Serbian Government will publish on the first page of its official organ of July 26/13, the following declaration:

“The Royal Serbian Government condemns the propaganda directed against Austria-Hungary, that is to say, the whole body of the efforts whose ultimate object it is to separate from the Austro- Hungarian Monarchy territories that belong to it, and it most sincerely regrets the dreadful consequences of these criminal transactions.

“The Royal Serbian Government regrets that Serbian officers and officials should have taken part in the above-mentioned propaganda and thus have endangered the friendly and neighborly relations, to the cultivation of which the Royal Government had most solemnly pledged itself by its declarations of March 31, 1909.

“The Royal Government, which disapproves and repels every idea and every attempt to interfere in the destinies of the population of whatever portion of Austria-Hungary, regards it as its duty most expressly to call attention of the officers, officials, and the whole population of the kingdom to the fact that for the future it will proceed with the utmost rigor against any persons who shall become guilty of any such activities, activities to prevent and to suppress which, the Government will bend every effort.”

“This declaration shall be brought to the attention of the Royal army simultaneously by an order of the day from His Majesty the King, and by publication in the official organ of the army.

“The Royal Serbian Government will furthermore pledge itself:

1. to suppress every publication which shall incite to hatred and contempt of the Monarchy, and the general tendency of which shall be directed against the territorial integrity of the latter;

2. to proceed at once to the dissolution of the Narodna Odbrana to confiscate all of its means of propaganda, and in the same manner to proceed against the other unions and associations in Serbia which occupy themselves with propaganda against Austria-Hungary; the Royal Government will take such measures as are necessary to make sure that the dissolved associations may not continue their activities under other names or in other forms;

3. to eliminate without delay from public instruction in Serbia, everything, whether connected with the teaching corps or with the methods of teaching, that serves or may serve to nourish the propaganda against Austria-Hungary;

4. to remove from the military and administrative service in general all officers and officials who have been guilty of carrying on the propaganda against Austria-Hungary, whose names the Imperial and Royal Government reserves the right to make known to the Royal Government when communicating the material evidence now in its possession;

5. to agree to the cooperation in Serbia of the organs of the Imperial and Royal Government in the suppression of the subversive movement directed against the integrity of the Monarchy;

6. to institute a judicial inquiry against every participant in the conspiracy of the twenty-eighth of June who may be found in Serbian territory; the organs of the Imperial and Royal Government delegated for this purpose will take part in the proceedings held for this purpose;

7. to undertake with all haste the arrest of Major Voislav Tankosic and of one Milan Ciganovitch, a Serbian official, who have been compromised by the results of the inquiry;

8. by efficient measures to prevent the participation of Serbian authorities in the smuggling of weapons and explosives across the frontier; to dismiss from the service and to punish severely those members of the Frontier Service at Schabats and Losnitza who assisted the authors of the crime of Sarajevo to cross the frontier;

9. to make explanations to the Imperial and Royal Government concerning the unjustifiable utterances of high Serbian functionaries in Serbia and abroad, who, without regard for their official position, have not hesitated to express themselves in a manner hostile toward Austria-Hungary since the assassination of the twenty-eighth of June;

10. to inform the Imperial and Royal Government without delay of the execution of the measures comprised in the foregoing points.”

We all know the outcome of this ultimatum.

 

 

Posted May 22, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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