6 May 2019   Leave a comment

The UN’s Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is a committee of 145 expert authors from 50 countries who have met over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors. It has released a 1600-page report which argues that up to a million species are threatened with extinction, many within a few decades: “The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reefforming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.” Among the other findings:

“Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions. On average these trends have been less severe or avoided in areas held or managed by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.

“More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production.

“The value of agricultural crop production has increased by about 300% since 1970, raw timber harvest has risen by 45% and approximately 60 billion tons of renewable and nonrenewable resources are now extracted globally every year – having nearly doubled since 1980.

“Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23% of the global land surface, up to US$577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss and 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection.

“In 2015, 33% of marine fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels; 60% were maximally sustainably fished, with just 7% harvested at levels lower than what can be sustainably fished.

“Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992.

“Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980, 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes from industrial facilities are dumped annually into the world’s waters, and fertilizers entering coastal ecosystems have produced more than 400 ocean ‘dead zones’, totalling more than 245,000 km2 (591-595) – a combined area greater than that of the United Kingdom.

“Negative trends in nature will continue to 2050 and beyond in all of the policy scenarios explored in the Report, except those that include transformative change – due to the projected impacts of increasing land-use change, exploitation of organisms and climate change, although with significant differences between regions.”

It is unlikely that there will be a positive response to this report by the Trump Administration. But it is clear that the absence of a response is completely unacceptable and reprehensible.

The Trump Administration is sending the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group as well as bombers to the Middle East, citing intelligence that suggests that Iran is planning the threaten US forces in the region. The US is claiming that there were “’multiple, credible threats’ against U.S. forces on land, including in Iraq, by Iran and proxy forces and at sea.” The intelligence sources were not identified and I will confess that I am skeptical of the claim. This is not the first time that the National Security Adviser, John Bolton, has exaggerated threats from Iran. Bolton argued for an attack on Iran in an op-ed for the New York Times in 2015: “The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.” Fortunately, President Obama chose to pursue the Iranian nuclear agreement, a decision that Iran still observes, even though the US has violated the agreement by abrogating it.

Bolton had also argued in 2004 that Iran was developing nuclear weapons and Gareth Porter assessed the credibility of Bolton’s argument:

“Bolton’s strategy was based on the claim that Iran was hiding its military nuclear program from the IAEA, and in early 2004, he came up with a dramatic propaganda ploy: he sent a set of satellite images to the IAEA showing sites at the Iranian military reservation at Parchin that he claimed were being used for tests to simulate nuclear weapons. Bolton demanded that the IAEA request access to inspect those sites and leaked his demand to the Associated Press in September 2004. In fact, the satellite images showed nothing more than bunkers and buildings for conventional explosives testing.

“Bolton was apparently hoping the Iranian military would not agree to any IAEA inspections based on such bogus claims, thus playing into his propaganda theme of Iran’s “intransigence” in refusing to answer questions about its nuclear program. But in 2005 Iran allowed the inspectors into those sites and even let them choose several more sites to inspect. The inspectors found no evidence of any nuclear-related activities.

“But the whole story of the so-called ‘laptop documents’ was a fabrication. In 2013, a former senior German official revealed the true story to this writer: the documents had been given to German intelligence by the Mujahedin E Khalq, the anti-Iran armed group that was well known to have been used by Mossad to ‘launder’ information the Israelis did not want attributed to themselves.”

It is not an accident that the US moves come after Netanyahu won re-election and during heightened tensions between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Increased tensions with Iran also work to relieve some of the pressure on US President Trump caused by the Mueller and Congressional investigations. My advice would be to be very suspicious of any moves against Iran.

Abraham Lincoln Carrier Group

Posted May 6, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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