Melting Arctic Opens Northwest Passage

For people who still have lingering doubts about the reality of global warming, this brief documentary reminds us that the Arctic Ocean (for the first time in recorded history) is now open to navigation during the summer. Prior to 2007, it was frozen solid year round.

During summer months, China, the US, Canada and European countries routinely save travel time and money by shipping freight over the top of the world.

According to filmmakers, Canadian treaties allegedly guarantee indigenous Inuit “input” into the new Arctic waterways – to protect the pristine environment their livelihood (hunting seals) depends on.

The Soil Solution to Climate Change

The Soil Solution to Climate Change

SustainableWorld (2014)

Film Review

This informational film, based on the French 4 per 1,000 initiative, proposes an ancient form of carbon sequestration* as an alternative to risky technological methods of carbon sequestration. There is strong scientific consensus that to prevent catastrophic global warming, atmospheric CO2 levels must be reduced from 400 parts per million (ppm) to 350 ppm.

The 4 per 1,000 initiative encourages all UN member countries to increase the carbon in their soils by 0.4% per year by transitioning from industrial agriculture – which tends to strip soil of carbon – to more traditional practices that tend to replenish soil carbon (and simultaneously increase yields: see Organic and Sustainable Farming Increases Yields by 79% or More).

According to the filmmakers, adopting the French initiatiative would also reverse the planet’s rapid depletion of top soil. At present, 50-80% of the world’s top soil has been lost due to loss of carbon. We continue to lose roughly 24 billion tons of topsoil a year due to heavy plowing and use of chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides. All three practices kill important soil organisms responsible for replenishing soil carbon.

This systematic lost of carbon, the fibrous matter we find in soil, also destroys water quality – largely by facilitating run-off of these chemicals into our waterways. Healthy carbon-rich soils absorb and retain water like a sponge, helping to prevent both flooding and drought.

The film finishes by exploring organic farming techniques – increased use of cover cops, plant diversity and planned grazing – that assist plants in sequestering carbon.

For more information about the 4 per 1,000 initiative see Join the 4 per 1000 Initiative


*Carbon sequestration – a natural or artificial process by which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and held in solid or liquid form.

Prince Charles’s Organic Farm

The Farmer and His Prince

Bertram Verhag (2014)

Film Review

The Farmer and His Prince is an English language film produced by German film director Bertram Verhag. It features an in-depth tour of His Royal Highness Prince Charles’s organic farm at High Gatehouse in Gloucestershire and substantive discussions with the Prince of Wales himself on industrial agriculture, factory farming, genetic modification, global warming and sustainable organic farming.

Prince Charles, the world’s most high profile organic farmer, converted his estate to organic agriculture in the 1980s. He raises sheep, dairy cows, rare breed pigs and a range of foot crops. Although he plays little role in the day-to-day management of the farm, he conducts tours there and is active in lobbying government policymakers and the food industry – both in Great Britain and internationally.

His farm supplies local hotels and markets and presently turns a small profit.

 

Debunking Large Scale Hydroelectric Dams

 

Damocracy

Directed by Todd Southgate and Tolga Temugle (2013)

Film Review

Damocracy is a documentary debunking the myth that large scale hydroelectric dams combat global warming by producing emission-free electric power. In reality, they create massive amounts of methane by flooding and killing large areas of vegetation. Because methane is a far more dangerous greenhouse gas than CO2, it takes approximately 41 years for a dam to produce any net benefit for the climate.

The film focuses on global protest movements which have formed in reaction to two specific dam projects: Ilisu on the Tigris River in Turkey and Belo Monte in Brazil.

In addition to displacing more than 35,000 rural residents, the Ilisu Dam would flood more than 300 unique Mesopotamian heritage sites. It would also aggravate water shortages in southern Iraq and Iran.

The Belo Monte dam would displace 40,000 indigenous people, virtually destroying 18 distinct ethnic cultures.

Despite strong support for the Bel Monte dam by former president Dilma Rousseff, mass popular resistance forced her government to discontinue the Bel Monte project in April 2016.

Turkish president Recep Erdogan continues construction on Turkey’s Ilisu Dam despite UN and high court rulings ordering him to desist. Ongoing local and international protests have significantly delayed the damn’s completion, originally slated for 2015.

See Corporate Watch and Iraqi civil society.

 

The Dangers of Policy-Based Climate Science

Climate Change: Triumph and Tragedy in Paris

Kevin Anderson (2016)

In this presentation, Professor Kevin Anderson carefully dissects a number of the conclusions reached at the Paris COP21 climate change conference in December 2015. Anderson is particularly critical of what he refers to as “policy based science.” He also makes an urgent case for scientists to ignore “vested interests” if there’s to be any chance of preventing catastrophic climate change.

Despite all the hype about the COP21 agreement limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Centigrade, a close look at the math reveals all the emission reduction pledges add up to 3.5 degrees of warming (which is incompatible with human civilization).

According to Anderson, the major flaws of the Paris agreement are its reliance on carbon sequestration, an extremely expensive technology that doesn’t even exist yet; its failure to monitor carbon emissions produced by aviation and global shipping; and its failure to call for deep cuts in energy demand.

He also dismisses the fantasy of “green growth” as a public relations exercise. It will require decades to ramp up renewable energy production to support the lifestyles of the 10% of the population who produce 50% of the emissions. By this point,  total atmospheric CO2 will be too high to prevent catastrophic global warming.

Anderson maintains it’s too late to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees (Centigrade) and that we only have a 33% chance of limiting it to 2.0 degrees – provided the developed world cuts energy use by 10% per year for the next seven years.

He calls for a total moratorium on fossil fuel mining and airport expansion, government programs to make homes energy efficient, electrification of all public car fleets and progressive metering tariffs on all CO2 emissions, including aviation, shipping and agriculture.

 

 

Northwest Passage: Nations Already Squabbling over Ice-Free Arctic

Inside Story – How Will the Northwest Passage Influence Global Trade and Economy

Al Jazeera (2016)

Film Review

This Al Jazeera documentary is about the melting of the Arctic ice cap and its effect on international trade. Shipping through the Northwest Passage, which is still limited to summer months, first began in 2008. By 2025, the Arctic is predicted to be ice free every summer. China, the world’s largest exporter, has a particular interest in the Northwest Passage, as it reduces shipping times to Europe and North America by 30%.

Canada, claiming the Northwest Passage as territorial waters, is challenging China’s right to access this trade route. Thus far, the US is siding with China, asserting the Arctic Ocean is an international waterway. At present Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Iceland and Canada have claims over the Arctic Circle under the UN Law of the Sea treaty. Owing to the US refusal to ratify the treaty, Alaska (eg the US) has no claim to this waterway.

In addition to the Northwest Passage, there is a second passage north of Russia and Norway called the Northern Sea Route. The Polar Code goes into effect next year, with mandatory structural requirements for ships traversing the Arctic Circle.

Climate Denial: Big Oil’s Multimillion Dollar Disinformation Campaign

The Climate Deception Dossiers

On July 9, 2015, the Union of Concerned Scientists released The Climate Deception Dossiers – collections of internal company and trade association documents revealing a three decade campaign by the world’s largest fossil fuel companies about the realities and risks of climate change. Some documents have been leaked to the public by industry whistleblowers. Others have come to light through lawsuits or Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests.

Each dossier provides an illuminating inside look at this coordinated campaign of deception, an effort underwritten by ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, Shell, Peabody Energy, and other members of the fossil fuel industry.

Tactics employed by these companies include a million dollar contract supporting the work of climate contrarian aerospace engineer Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon:

gw-minigraphic-climate-deception-dossier-1-willie-soon-contracts

The fossil fuel industry also forged documents and letters and formed fake “astroturf” groups that purported to act on behalf of taxpayers rather than oil companies:

gw-minigraphic-climate-deception-dossier-4-ACCCE-forged-letters

As well as launching a sophisticated, multimillion dollar public relations campaign:

gw-minigraphic-climate-deception-dossier-5-ICE-memo

An Exxon whistleblower reveals his company first got interested in the greenhouse effect and global warming when it was seeking to develop the Natuna gas field off Indonesia. An Exxon memo raises concern about it becoming the “largest point source of CO2 in the world.”

In 1995, the same whistleblower (working for Mobil) co-authored a memo to to the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), a fossil fuel lobbying group. The memo, was distributed to other member companies and warned unequivocally that burning fossil fuels was causing global warming – that the relevant science “is well established and cannot be denied.”

gw-minigraphic-climate-deception-dossier-7-fossil-fuel-climate-science-primer

Many of the same companies – including BP, Chevron, Conoco, Exxon, Mobil, Phillips, and Shell – were members of the American Petroleum Institute (API) in 1998 when the trade group drafted a plan to secretly support “independent” researchers to publicly dispute established climate science:

gw-minigraphic-climate-deception-dossier-2-API-roadmap-memo

Link to full report: Climate Deception Dossiers