8 October 2018   Leave a comment

The European colonization of the Western Hemisphere was a turning point in human history.  The decimation, intentional and unintentional, of the indigenous populations in the Western Hemisphere. and the enforced transfer of African populations to the Western Hemisphere as slaves, were cataclysms that defied any possibility of “normal” recovery from a population collapse.   But there were also extraordinary transformations in agriculture as Europeans gained access to foods that were completely unknown to the very bland diets of the time.   The potato and cane sugar became the primary source of calories for the poor in Europe.  But it would be hard to imagine the modern world without tomatoes, peppers, corn (maize), cassava, tobacco, vanilla, and chocolate.  Imperialism was not necessary for these foods to be transferred to other parts of the world–trade alone had introduced many of the spices of Asia to Europe long before the European conquests in Asia.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its 6th annual report and it sets out an unforgiving timeline if the world hopes to avoid a 2C degree increase in global temperature by the end of this century.   Debra Roberts, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) made this statement as the report was approved by the member governments last Saturday:  “The next few years are probably the most important in our history”.  Most reports suggest that the world has about 10 years to make changes to avoid irreversible changes to the global climate.  There was, however, opposition to parts of the wording of the final report:

“But just when the world needs to go faster, the political headwinds in some nations are growing. Brazil, home to the world’s largest rainforest, looks increasingly likely to elect the climate sceptic Jair Bolsonaro as president.

The world’s second-largest emitter – the US – immediately distanced itself from the report, issuing a statement that said its approval of the summary “should not be understood as US endorsement of all of the findings and key messages”. It said it still it intended to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

The summary was adopted by all governments at a closed-door meeting between officials and scientists in Incheon, South Korea that finished on Saturday. The US sought and was granted various changes to the text. Sources said the interventions mostly helped to refine the report. But they also tracked key US interests – for example, a mention of nuclear energy was included.

Sources told CHN that Saudi Arabia fought hard to amend a passage that said investment in fossil fuel extraction would need to fall by 60% between 2015 and 2050. The clause does not appear in the final summary.

Despite the urgency of the report, it is unlikely that any substantive policies will be taken by any state at this time.  Indeed, it is hard for me to imagine any state taking any additional steps as long as the US acts as if the issue is a hoax.

Posted October 8, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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