By Robert A. Vella
Of the 195 nations which signed the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016, only 7 are keeping their greenhouse gas emissions under the 2° Celsius warming threshold to avoid catastrophic climate change and only 2 are complying with the accord’s optimal 1.5° Celsius target. Those seven countries are (in descending order of achievement) Gambia, Morocco, Philippines, India, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and Bhutan. From a statistical point of view, that’s a success percentage of .0359 (rounded up to 3.6%). For comparison, a winning percentage under .500 (50%) is seen as losing in organized team sports, under .250 (25%) is downright embarrassing, and consistently being under .100 (10%) would likely get the team owner or even the franchise kicked out of the league. So, what does humankind’s dismal winning percentage on climate mean for modern civilization and perhaps for our species?
In the early years of the NFL’s Monday Night Football program, analyst and former quarterback “Dandy” Don Meredith would sing this classic Willie Nelson song when the outcome of the game had been decided:
“Turn out the lights, the party’s over. They say that all good things must end.”
Here’s the news to close out this week:
NEW YORK – A boisterous crowd of at least 200,000 people turned out to chant and march in Manhattan on Friday, joining hundreds of thousands – possibly millions – of protesters from Australia to Thailand to London in Global Climate Strike rallies.
While supporters of all ages turned out, the day was billed as a walkout by high school students to call on world leaders to step up their efforts against climate change, carbon emissions and other environmental issues.
Greta Thunberg, the noted 16-year-old Swedish environmental activist whose efforts have been raising environmental consciousness around the globe, spoke to a crowd of tens of thousands in New York City’s Battery Park.
Of the many countries party to the Paris Agreement, however, few are on track to actually meet its mandates. One measure of this progress (or lack thereof) is the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an independent scientific analysis produced by a consortium of three researcher organizations that has tracked global climate policies since 2009. CAT’s analysis monitors the progress of major nations toward goals set by the Paris Agreement, with 32 nations evaluated to date based on their national pledges, long-term targets, and current policies.
Of these countries, just seven are ranked by the CAT as 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) compatible or 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) compatible. Two of those seven rank as compatible with a global emissions reduction plan that would hold warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, and five rank as compatible with holding warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
The United States, which announced its intention to leave the Agreement in 2017, was found by the CAT to be “critically insufficient” in terms of climate mitigation policy.
California and 22 other states filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday against the Trump administration, challenging its decision to revoke the most-populous state’s right to set pollution limits on cars and light trucks.
The legal battle’s outcome will affect which vehicles Americans drive in the years to come, as well as the country’s effort to tackle climate change and the balance between federal and state power.
Over-pumping of groundwater has been a problem across rural Arizona for generations. Historically, as groundwater levels inched lower, wells like Reynolds’ went dry here and there.
But in certain areas, the groundwater is dropping faster than it has in decades, driven by a recent influx of corporate farms that are placing intense stress on the aquifer, experts say.
That’s set off a battle for water in this dry region, pitting some longtime residents and family farmers against big corporations. In this competition for a scarce natural resource, those who can afford to drill the deepest wells are the ones who get the water, while those who can’t are forced to abandon their property.
The whistle-blower’s specific allegations remain cloaked in mystery, but they involve at least one instance of President Trump making an unspecified commitment to a foreign leader along with other actions, according to news reports in Washington. At least part of the allegation deals with Ukraine, the reports say.
But for months now in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, the government of the neophyte president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has been grappling with unwelcome political pressure by associates of Mr. Trump. Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, said in an interview Thursday night on CNN that he had pressed Ukrainian officials to pursue investigations into Mr. Trump’s political opponents, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family.
For the first time since it was formed after the 9/11 attacks, the Department of Homeland Security is adding white supremacist violence to its list of priority threats in a revised counterterrorism strategy issued Friday.
… according to the FBI, more people have been killed in the U.S. by domestic terrorists in the past few years than by attacks committed or motivated by foreign ones. More domestic than foreign terror suspects have been arrested as well. FBI Director Chris Wray recently told Congress that the majority of the domestic terror attacks are racially motivated, mostly by white supremacists.
Colt, a U.S. firearms company that traces its history to the 1830s, announced Thursday that it would suspend the production of rifles for the civilian market — including the AR-15, a weapon infamous for its popularity among the country’s mass shooters.
The announcement comes at the tail end of a summer bookended by mass shootings in Virginia Beach; El Paso; Dayton, Ohio; and West Texas and as Democratic candidates for president have ratcheted up rhetoric on gun control.
At the Sept. 12 Democratic presidential debate, former congressman Beto O’Rourke said he is committed to a mandatory buyback of assault-style rifles.
A New York City judge has ordered that President Trump sit for videotaped testimony in a lawsuit brought by protesters who say they were assaulted by Trump’s security guards during the 2016 campaign.
The protesters argue Trump, his campaign and business should be held liable for the actions of security guards who were working for the company. They say, even if Trump didn’t directly order the guards to act, he had control over their actions because they were his employees and his campaign trail rhetoric gave them the impression that violence would be condoned.
The suit alleges Trump’s head of security, Keith Schiller, punched one of the men in the head while trying to grab from him a sign that read, “Make America Racist Again!” Schiller has said he was simply trying to make space on the sidewalk and that he struck the protester only after the man grabbed him suddenly from behind.
More than 2,200 nurses at the University of Chicago Medical Center are walking off the job Friday morning, after contract talks with the hospital broke down this week amid a dispute over staffing levels and pay raises. CBS Chicago reports the striking nurses said they’re being forced to work long hours and cannot provide the proper care their patients need.
Torrent Pharmaceuticals is expanding a recall of blood-pressure medication possibly tainted with a cancer-causing chemical. The expansion is the fifth by Torrent involving widely used losartan potassium tablets sold nationwide. Regulators first moved to pull heart drugs with potentially deadly contaminants from store shelves last year.
The contaminant behind the latest Torrent recall is also the same one that prompted Novartis to halt distribution of generic versions of the popular heartburn drug Zantac earlier in the week.
Torrent on Thursday said it was recalling an additional five lots of medication used to treat hypertension after the discovery in the tablets of a chemical called NMBA (for N-Nitroso-N-methyl-4-aminobutyric acid).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the past 14 months has overseen a slew of recalls for a type of generic blood-pressure medication produced in China and India and tainted with NMBA, NDMA (N-nitrosodimethylamine) or NDEA (N-nitrosodiethylamine.)