The 2018 wildfire season is the most destructive wildfire season on record in California, with a total of 7,983 fires burning an area of 1,824,505 acres, the largest amount of burned acreage recorded in a fire season, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the National Interagency Fire Center, as of November 30.
The spread and intensity of the wildfires raging in California call for a far higher level of fire prevention, containment and disaster management than the state has had previously. No doubt about that.
There are multiple reasons why wildfires are getting more severe and destructive including forest management, house building regulations, land-use regulations, utility installations and codes, insurance practices plus many more including the mindset and alertness of the communities.
But what is driving the wild fires?
According to the latest U.S. National Climate Assessment (go to: https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/) , released on November 23 this year, higher temperatures and earlier snow melt are extending the fire season in western states. By 2050, according to the report, the area that burns yearly in the West could be two to six times larger than today.
Increasing wildfire risk is already the reality for much of the western United States, particularly in California, the Pacific Northwest, the mountains of the desert Southwest and the Southern Rockies, where warmer temperatures and drier conditions are major contributors. As the climate continues to warm, elevated risks of forest stress and die-off, vegetation transformation and wildfire will spread across the United States.
But moreover, raging wild fires, is becoming a global problem and needs to be addressed like that urgently and by ALL countries and governments in the world.
Carbon gets it. Cigarettes get it. Even sweet and lovely sugar gets it. Shouldn't meat get taxed, too?
It's an idea gaining widespread traction. The livestock industry causes, conservatively, 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and massively contributes to land degradation, water pollution and shortages, antibiotic resistance and loss of biodiversity. Meanwhile, meat consumption has been strongly linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity.
Now many experts are saying that putting a tax on meat would help counter all these things by motivating people to turn to other food choices.
“Current levels of meat consumption are not healthy or sustainable," says Marco Springmann, of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food at Oxford University. "The costs associated with each of those impacts could approach the trillions in the future. Taxing meat could be a first and important step.”
According to best estimates, more than 180 jurisdictions around the world currently tax tobacco, over 60 tax carbon emissions, and at least 25 put a tax on sugar. Perhaps inspired by this, meat taxes are under consideration by governments in Germany, Denmark and Sweden, said the Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return Initiative, an investors' group. And in 2016, China’s government cut its suggested maximum meat consumption by 45%. Momentum is growing.
"A tax on chicken, turkey, pig, cow, fish, and other animal flesh sold in grocery stores and restaurants could help reduce Americans’ skyrocketing annual health-care costs," wrote People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a leading animal-rights group. "Revenue from the tax could be used to clean up areas polluted by animal agriculture, assist farms in transitioning away from animal-based agriculture, and increase access to healthy plant-derived foods in communities that need it most."
Consider a few more figures:
* Research conducted by the University of Chicago found that going vegan is 50 percent more effective in fighting climate change than switching from a conventional car to a hybrid.
* A 2016 Oxford study estimated that vegan eating could, by 2050, save $40 billion in environmental damages and $250 billion in health-care expenses in the U.S. alone.
Anything to encourage this seems beyond wise. It can be done, and easily.
According to PETA, a meat tax would cost a typical meat-eating family of four about $5 per month, though some of that might be absorbed by meat-producing companies. In return, the families would likely save hundreds or thousands of dollars in medical expenses over time as their health improved. And the value in environmental benefits would be incalculable.
So, let's do it. Let's tax all meat.
--By Andrea Solomon
On BBC news on the 7th of August 2018 this was a headline. And very relevant, we think in the Gaia-Movement.
The serious concept of "Hothouse Earth".
Global warming will have severe consequences for the planet.
Hot climates and towering seas in years to come if temperatures rise by just 2C.
Some of the planet's natural forces - that currently protect us - become our enemies.
Here are some of the big changes which could happen with a 2C temperature rise - which is the globally accepted amount, according to the Paris climate agreement.
BBC lists some examples of what will change drastically:
Chocolate is under threat
The cacao bean plant is just one example of a globally important crop that grows in warm and humid climates," she says.
But global warming doesn't mean that there will be more places to grow cacao beans - in fact, it's the opposite.
A rise in global temperatures causes weather systems to be unpredictable and inconsistent, which would put cacao growing at risk.
The Arctic could melt
Ice in the areas around the North Pole could melt completely
But it's not just the animals living there which are under threat.The way that the whole Earth works changes.
"You're changing ice that reflects heat back into space into dark seawater that absorbs incoming solar radiation."
So, it's a vicious circle - the less ice there is to reflect heat away from the Earth, the more global warming accelerates.
Entire nations might have to move
How can you be a country if you don't have any land?
Melting ice means rising sea levels - which could put low-lying island nations, such as the Maldives, under the sea.
The people who live in these low-lying areas will have to go somewhere,
There are already lots of discussions with people in low-lying Pacific islands talking with Australia and New Zealand about where they can live, and how they can have nationhood while renting land from another country.
Combine rising temperatures with other human activity such as deforestation, and you have drastic effects on the water cycle.
"When you change landscapes, you change where water can flow," says Dr Cornell.
"When you warm the planet and are simultaneously changing the landscape, you're changing the water cycle... in a much less predictable way than it was before."
Extreme changes to the water cycle can lead to severe floods - and severe droughts.
How a tree frog affects a whole ecosystem
Two years ago, a little brown treefrog called Toughie died in Atlanta, USA, at the age of 12.
He was the last known living Rabbs' fringe-limbed treefrog to exist.
Toughie's story is a symbol of the rate of extinction that is being caused as a result of climate change.
The extinction of a species even as small as a frog has consequences which we don't yet fully understand.
We could lose treefrogs, and that doesn't sound important but it's vitally important because it's what we lose with it
When we're killing species, we probably won't know in advance what the consequences are.
The Gaia Movement has taken it’s name after the “Gaia Theory” formulated by the British scientist James Lovelock during the 1970”ies. James Lovelock has envisioned the scenario described above several decades ago.
Here are some examples of ian nterview with the British media a decade or so ago.(external link)
Only People can liberate ourselves from “more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050”.
Scientists estimate that more than 8 million metric tons of plastic is entering our ocean every year. There could be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. From tiny plankton to enormous whales, countless animals across marine ecosystems are affected by plastic pollution. It's found in 59% of seabirds like albatross and pelicans, 100% of sea turtle species, and over a quarter of fish sampled from seafood markets around the world.
Marine debris isn't an ocean problem...it's a people problem. Trash in the ocean has serious consequences for all of us.
The production of plastic increased from 2 tons in 1950 to over 340 million tons by 2014. 95% of plastics is used only one time and goes in the garbage and that type of plastic will last practically forever.
When whales, fish, turtles ingest plastic, it fills up their ingestion system and the starve to death with full stomach.
The production of plastic continues even when it has this consequence. The reason this happens is because the economic and political system allows the production of plastic to continue without any regulations.
What can we do? People everywhere stop using plastic.
It helps when people stop using plastic. The manufacturers of plastics will only stop, when nobody buys, and they don’t turn a profit.
Extract from an interview with James Lovelock made by Stuart Jeffries from The Guardian, March 15, 2007 about Lovelocks book: “The Revenge of GAIA”
'We should be scared stiff'
Renowned scientist James Lovelock thinks mainland Europe will soon be desert - and millions of people will start moving north to Britain.
If you think Britain is intolerably crowded today, you might well want to brace yourself before reading the next sentence. Because this country is going to become much, much more densely populated over the course of this century as millions of people flee the uninhabitable desert that mainland Europe is doomed to turn into.
The America-sized chunk of floating ice that currently covers the Arctic will melt. As a result, the current habitat of polar bears will eventually be the place where our descendants live out their pitiful existences. "Most life will move up to the Arctic basin because only it and a few islands will remain habitable," says Lovelock, who is most famous for coming up with the Gaia hypothesis - the idea that the Earth functions as some kind of living super-organism.
Lovelock is now seriously concerned about said super-organism. Humanity's vast output of carbon dioxide over the past two centuries has prompted the deserts to spread towards the poles at an alarming rate, he says. "The Sahara is heading north. So where's the food going to come from? Not from the European mainland. Even here things are changing: there are in Britain now scorpions and snails hitherto only seen in the Mediterranean. Recently I saw hawk moths. Something terrible is happening.
"I think people forget that the whole world is going to be affected. Climate change will affect China and the US." Lovelock envisages that the Chinese people will press to live in a newly lush Siberia before the century is out.
“We should be scared stiff. If you speak to any senior climatologists, the summer of 2003 [in which thousands of Europeans, many of them elderly, perished in the heat] will be the norm by 2050. Old people might have air conditioning, but that won't help the plants which we need to regulate temperatures. It will become a desert climate."
Lovelock reckons that the British Isles will be among the few island oases in a world given over to desert, scrub and oceans devoid of life: "Everybody in Europe will be wanting to come here."
Only with greater population density in urban areas can it be divided up in the way he believes to be sustainable: one third for cities, industries, ports, airports and roads; the second third for intensive farming, though only enough for the population's needs; and the final third left entirely to the natural world.
How can we reduce human population to more sustainable levels? "We can't solve the problem. There's no human way of cutting numbers. You can empower women and persuade them to have fewer children but we don't have the time for that."
He suggests that the current population of six billion humans will be cut to a more ecologically sustainable half-to-one billion people. "How will this mass cull happen? "It'll be worse than Hitler - Gaia's going to do it," says Lovelock. He writes about this chillingly at the outset of the Revenge of Gaia, where he considers the December 2004 tsunami. "That awful event starkly revealed the power of the earth to kill. The planet we live on has merely to shrug to take some fraction of a million people to their deaths.
·Lovelocks book “The Revenge of Gaia” is published by Penguin, price £8.99.
Go to this link to read the full Guardian article: