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The Compelling Conclusion About Capitalism That Piketty Resists (Truthout)

Thursday, 26 June 2014 00:00

By Fred GuerinTruthout | Op-Ed

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Temporary, like sadness. Temporary, like capitalism. Temporary, like life. (Photo: Dominic Alves / Flickr)

The excesses of capitalism are not simply a question of bad management and a political unwillingness to properly regulate it by imposing the right sort of checks and balances, but symptoms of a fundamentally and irretrievably flawed system that tends toward destruction of human and other life.

The idea of capitalism as an expression of economic freedom that also secures moral and political freedom of thought, or the notion that “free-market” economies are guided by an impartial mechanism of supply and demand – an “invisible hand” to use Adam Smith’s metaphor – are both powerful indoctrinating notions. As such, they bear little resemblance to actual reality. Smith himself never used the word “capitalism,” preferring to call his economics a “system of natural liberty.” In fact, the inner logic of capitalism can be difficult to get hold of simply because there have been different configurations of capitalism throughout history. In its classic form, before the advent of corporations (when there was still an implicit sense of social responsibility, and insatiable greed was considered a vice), capitalism might have appeared less virulent. Additionally, there is reason to believe that capitalism unfolded differently in different countries with distinct political and legal frameworks.

“There is “capitalism” and then there is “really existing capitalism.” What then is ‘really existing capitalism?'”

All of these contingent factors are worthy of consideration in any assessment of capitalism. However, it is also reasonably clear that once we actually look at history, it is difficult not to conclude that pretty muchevery embodiment of capitalism – classical capitalism, oligarchic or corporate capitalism, casino capitalism, entrepreneurial capitalism – presuppose similar elements: private property, ownership of the means of production, notions of unlimited growth, the maximization of profit, using wealth to create wealth. They also all embody a form of instrumental rationality, the kind of rationality concerned with maximizing profits and minimizing costs. In its globalized corporate form, capitalism has been able to relentlessly realize this form of instrumental reasoning on a large scale – and thereby show itself as one of the most destructive and undemocratic economic system humans have ever come up with.

Unfortunately, neither propaganda nor abstract economic theory can help us to grasp this fact. The reason is primarily that the latter do not really speak to the false theories of human nature capitalism presupposes. Nor do many of them elaborate capitalism’s legitimating normative-moral or political origins. Most crucially, they are often silent regarding the devastating impact that it has had on the environment since it first emerged during the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. As Chomsky insightfully puts it, “There is “capitalism” and then there is “really existing capitalism.” What then is “really existing capitalism’?

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century gives us a few clues, though not by any means, the whole picture. Replete with startling empirical evidence in the form of charts, graphs, informative statistics, mathematical-logical expressions and astute critical-historical analyses, Piketty’s work draws a number of sobering conclusions about the present dynamics of wealth and income distribution that exposes not merely the dark underside of capitalism but a central contradiction within it. Thus, Piketty concludes “. . . wealth accumulated in the past grows more rapidly than output and wages. This inequality expresses a fundamental logical contradiction. The entrepreneur inevitably tends to become a rentier, more and more dominant over those who own nothing but their labor. Once constituted, capital reproduces itself faster than output increases. The past devours the future.”

The past devours the future. But, what if the bizarre inverted logic of capitalism has always been its real point? What if, under the rubric of capitalism, the powerful elite are given permission to act as if it simply doesn’t matter whether their ever-expanding wealth might actually devour the future, or “wear the world out faster” to borrow a phrase from Orwell? Do they not often appear to live in an all-consuming present – get what you can for yourself right now, and don’t worry about others, or even about tomorrow? Moreover, is not such an attitude, sanctioned by capitalism, the reason why this particular economic system requires endless cycles of economic crisis?

Perhaps Piketty’s point is that if it doesn’t matter to the elite, it should at least matter to us. But if it does matter, then it is up to the rest of us – including experts like Piketty who grasp the reality of capitalism better than anyone else – to imagine real alternatives to such an economic system, to think outside of the present paradigm of endless development, profit maximization and disastrous austerity measures imposed on whole populations. Despite the apparently glaring “logical” contradiction within capitalism, Piketty still holds to the idea that it can be properly disciplined through a progressive annual tax on wealth. It is not the conclusion he should have reached given his thorough and prescient analysis.

Looking at the history of capitalism, it is difficult not to conclude that growing inequality expresses a fundamental property of and not a contradiction within capitalism.

Of course, Piketty is by no means alone in wanting to save capitalism from itself. Capitalism – no matter what its excesses, or how destructive it is for life or democracy – is invariably held as our default economic system, grudgingly acceded to even by popular left-oriented economists such as Paul Krugman, Nouriel Roubini or Joseph Stiglitz. As Chrystia Freeland unabashedly concludes in Plutocrats, The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, despite all its faults, we continue to need capitalism because, “very much like democracy,” it is “the best system we’ve figured out so far.” [1] Thus, if capitalism appears to go wrong, this is not because it is grounded on a misreading of history, internal contradictions, false theories about nature or human nature, or misguided moral and political presuppositions. Rather, the excesses of capitalism are simply a question of “bad management’ and a political unwillingness to properly regulate it by imposing the right sort of checks and balances.

In fact, Piketty’s proposed wealth tax solution may do more to obscure than resolve the really existing contradictions of capitalism. Looking at the history of capitalism, it is difficult not to conclude that growing inequality expresses a fundamental property of  and not a contradiction within capitalism. Inequality is built into capitalism. If there is a contradiction here it is a material not a logical one. In other words, it is the contradiction between an economic system that is radically indifferent to the health and well-being of the planet as a whole versus the economic, moral and environmental obligation to preserve and sustain such health and well-being.

If I am right that the inner logic of capitalism inevitably leads to a hegemonic, macro-structural world-system of unequal human social, political and economic relations guided by elite greed that does not reflect the best interests of the majority of people, the common good or indeed the good of the planet itself, then Piketty’s assumption that we could ever regain control over an “endless inegalitarian spiral’ by imposing a progressive tax on capital seems, is at best, rather fanciful. A more fitting conclusion in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and the efforts of the elite to profit from the latter would be to ask the question whether we should continue advocating for a capitalist system that glorifies profit over people or start thinking about how to reorganize our economy around common goods such as the health and well-being of our present world.

Instead, many contemporary economists repeatedly tell us that our only tenable alternative is to tame capitalist excess through regulative initiatives. This has been done before and it can be done again, the argument goes. Thus, it is claimed that we can and did rein-in or mitigate the severity of capitalist exploitation, and the massive wealth and income disparities that followed from it. However, it should now be abundantly clear that the internal and structural logic of exploitation, wealth-income disparities and the profit-oriented colonization of social and political relations can only be regulated for short periods. It can never be fundamentally altered. Indeed, as Piketty has persuasively argued, relentless exploitation, colonization and massive inequality were only temporarily pre-empted by a war economy and FDR’s regulatory initiatives. By the late 1970’s, the internal logic of capitalism had re-established its hegemonic status and all of the built-in excesses of the capitalist economic system once again became normalized and necessary.

What if . . . we are all conditioned to see the world in terms of individual economic self-interest rather than in terms of common human good or planetary limits, health and equilibrium?

What this tells us is that regulatory reform of capitalism will only be allowed for a brief period. In other words, to the extent that it can obscure or prevent us from perceiving the inner logic of a system of structured inequality, or distract us from the most deleterious effects of capitalism on the environment and on human health and well-being, minimal regulation may be deemed necessary by the elite for a short period of time. However, as Naomi Kleinhas convincingly argued, the “collective vertigo’ caused by wars, economic upheaval, environmental or political crisis, environmental disasters can also be exploited as the perfect means through which a capitalist system of greed takes over markets, amasses fabulous fortunes and bankrupts the wealth of the commons.

Perhaps the refusal to ask critical questions about the viability of capitalism might be explained by the fact that even today many economists still hold onto the mythic assumption that the “impartial” self-regulating market is no more than a theoretical expression of the “order of human nature” itself and not, after all, a product of powerful political and moneyed interests. This belief has distant origins in Thomas Hobbes fear-inspired mechanistic account of human beings who in their natural state are war-like and driven by self-interest. Not only does the latter perspective resonate in many manifestations of capitalist theory, it also underscores a desire to replicate in economic theory what nature apparently prescribes – a war-like disposition disciplined through competitive markets based on innate selfishness. But what if the incapacity to imagine alternatives is not because we are naturally selfish, but simply a function of the reality that in capitalist societies we are all conditioned to see the world in terms of individual economic self-interest rather than in terms of common human good or planetary limits, health and equilibrium?

This perfectly predictable inversion, where government becomes a handmaid to moneyed interest, is precisely the “logic of a capitalist system.”

Over time, the promotion of selfishness as a virtue not only changes the way we look at ourselves, it influences the way we relate to each other and to the planet itself. Instead of citizens who define themselves in relation to common goods, we are reduced, under the selfish orientation of capitalism, to aggregates of self-interested atomistic individuals encouraged to believe that we can continue a lifetime of limitless consumption. Those who are entirely left out of the consumer game – the increasing numbers of homeless, stateless refugees, destitute and imprisoned whose day-to-day life is taken up by the fight for mere survival – are the necessary residue of a global capitalist system.

From its inception, capitalist economic theory has pushed the idea that the market would only be able to regulate itself if it were not subject to external and coercive government interference or regulation. However, the reality is that capitalist accumulation was never actually severed from politics or government, but invariably parasitic upon it. It has always been intimately tied to publicly funded government tax-breaks and subsidies, to war, colonial-imperial expansion, and industrial ambitions. What happened is simply that massive capitalist accumulation was allowed to entirely invert the power relation between moneyed interests and government. Thus, an elite class of bankers, financiers and industrialists (eventually expressing itself through corporate ownership) have become so powerful, they are able to coerce governments and states to go along with whatever is in their minority interest. This perfectly predictable inversion, where government becomes a handmaid to moneyed interest, is precisely the “logic of a capitalist system,” which renders any suggestion of government imposed progressive taxation rather fantastical.

Related to this, faith in the promise of capitalism might also have to do with a kind of wilful blindness about the actual origins of capital. As Karl Polyanyi reminds us, many scholars and economists tenaciously hold to Adam Smith’s idea that the division of labor has always been based upon markets of some kind because our “propensity to barter, truck and exchange one thing for another” is simply ingrainedin the natural order of things. But, clearly we do not need capitalism – the privatizing of wealth and the socializing of costs – to show us how to barter, truck or trade goods. Indeed, capitalism is actually inimical to bartering or trading, precisely because it is driven by individual profit and monopolization, not by the fair exchange of goods. The FTA (Free Trade Agreements), NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) are the awful modern exemplars here.

There is nothing impartial about early capitalism’s inextricable relation to colonialism, slavery or plunder for private gain.

Polyani quickly dispels Smith’s historical misreading of the division of labor as structured by capitalism by reminding us that up to Smith’s time such a propensity toward the individual pursuit of unfettered profit based on wage labor “had hardly shown up on a considerable scale in the life of any observed community and had remained, at best, a subordinate feature of economic life . . . “[2]. The historical and anthropological evidence clearly suggests that it was not until the industrial age that the capitalist-inspired “wealth of nations” was realized by a hegemonic economic system guided by self-interested priorities and the exploitation of material goods and human beings in a relentless pursuit of profit for the few. Before this period, our economics were oriented by social, community, tribal and familial concerns that were considered far more important than the private possession and accumulation of goods based wholly on economic self-interest.

A more precise and broad-based historical study would conclude that, in point of fact, there isn’t anything in nature, the human condition, morality or history that necessitates the adoption of capitalism. It would also disclose that there is nothingimpartial about early capitalism’s inextricable relation to colonialism, slavery or plunder for private gain. In point of fact, the historical reality is that market capitalism is intimately tied to a colonial-imperialist political agenda. This imperialist history clearly demonstrates that there is also very little that is “free” about a “free-market” that derives its freedom to accumulate wealth by way of slave labor, slave wages, debt bondage, unjust land confiscation and the expropriation of common lands and resources into private hands. In America, the so-called “free market” wedded private self-interested exploitation of labor with imperialist state interest on a scale that dramatically dwarfed the brutality of old-world Europe. It should not be in the least surprising then that the slave plantation might capture the essence of our modern global capitalist system, insofar as it is built on the premise of extracting maximum labor at minimal cost.

Of course when one looks at history, it is not immediately apparent that the “founding fathers’ of capitalism – John Locke, Adam Smith, David Ricardo – wanted to intentionally construct a system that would entrench massive inequality. The latter figures were highly articulate, systematic, future-oriented thinkers who believed that private property, free trade, competition and laissez-faire capitalism were inherently good, and had an unlimited potential to raise the general welfare of society. However, even here, those who enjoyed the fruits of a capitalist political economy were relatively few – certainly not the working class or slaves. Each of these illustrious thinkers exemplifies in his writings the material contradictions that capitalism represents.

To be fair, from the perspective of the 18th and 19th centuries, the planet did appear to have unlimited potential for growth, not to mention individual and social enrichment.

Moreover, the science of pollution and toxicity of industrial chemicals 200 years ago was nowhere near the advanced state it is now. However, the material contradictions of capitalism are starkly illustrated even in its earliest philosophical foundations. Thus, on the one hand, John Locke’s (1632-1704) political philosophy begins (as against Hobbes’) with the idea that in our “original state of nature,” we are not in a state of war, but in a state of ” ‘perfect freedom’ to order our action, and dispose of our possessions and persons, as we think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.” This state of nature, Locke believed, is also a state “. . . of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another.” [3]

However, on the other hand, not all people were heir to such “perfect freedom” in their “natural state” or otherwise; nor did they have possessions or reciprocal power. In fact, a good many of them were not even treated as “persons” or individuals, but as mere “savages.” There is nothing fair or equal about the fact that Locke’s tremendous wealth was directly the result of investments in the silk and slave trade. Indeed, he believed that important, moneyed land barons should form “a government of slave-owners” and suggested that children over 3 years of age who were from families on relief should attend “working schools” so they would be “from infancy . . . inured to work” [4]. Appearances notwithstanding, the “sacred and inviolable right to property” that Locke espouses is not something either slaves or the laboring classes were granted. The “perfect freedom” was indeed “perfect servitude” of those who were not white Europeans.

Behind the wonderful talk of liberal values, “increasing the common stock of man through money” and individual rights, Locke put forward an absolutist theory of property that would provide legitimacy to the imperialist ambitions of England and wealthy English landowners in America. The problem is that Locke’s morally grounded theory of the right to private property presupposes the expropriation of ancestral native lands, the existence of slavery and the impoverishment of laboring classes. As Ronald Wright has astutely noted, quoting from Senator Dawes in his Allotment Act, the problem with “Indians” is that they lacked “selfishness, which is the bottom of civilization”![5] What we are compelled to conclude here is that these historical facts are not unpredictable events or anomalies of capitalism, but perspectives and practices intrinsic to the expansion of a capitalist economy.

The unavoidable question is why Smith advocated a “capitalist economic system” that glorified unbridled competition – a practice he intuited would inevitably corrupt our “natural sentiments” and deepen a proclivity toward selfish behaviour?

The Scottish Enlightenment thinker Adam Smith (1723-1790) believed that not only did competition mitigate the ruthlessness of self-interest, but the providential “invisible hand of the market” would ensure that in promoting our self-interest we would be simultaneously promoting the interests of society, whether we intended to do so or not. But, the rational or enlightened self-interest of Smith’s economic man breaks down fairly quickly within the logic of monopolistic capitalism. Smith, like Piketty, is prescient enough to caution about the monopolistic trajectory of capitalism and the potential that industry and business had for influencing politics in their favour over the good of consumers and society as a whole. Moreover, against the logic of unfettered capitalist accumulation, he also thought laborers should be well paid and the rich and indolent taxed for the benefit of the poor.

At the same time, Smith’s “merchant” is not much different than the modern corporate CEO. A merchant he explains “. . . is not necessarily a citizen of any particular country. It is in a great measure indifferent to him from what place he carries on his trade; and a very trifling disgust will make him remove his capital, and together with it all the industry which it supports, from one country to another.” [6]It is not hard to imagine that the “trifling disgust” classical merchants or modern CEOs experience is a consequence of having unions or governments interfere with their profits by demanding workers receive a living wage.

In the end, the unavoidable question is why Smith advocated a “capitalist economic system” that glorified unbridled competition – a practice he intuited would inevitably corrupt our “natural sentiments” and deepen a proclivity toward selfish behaviour? If the answer is that it is the self-correcting, providential “invisible hand” that reconciles selfishness and the general welfare of society, then Smith’s entire economic system rests on a fiction: There just is no such thing as an “invisible hand,” nor has there ever been any such providential or moral self-correcting mechanism within capitalist economics. Given this, it is difficult not to conclude that Smith (again, like Piketty) did, in fact, fully grasp the adverse effects and inherent material contradictions of capitalism. Nevertheless, he held steadfastly to the idea that a phantasmal occult force (the invisible hand) would enable our natural sympathy with the plight of others and our natural self-interested expression of individual freedom to live peacefully together.

What is startling is not how different, but how similar the speculative capitalist mindset has always been. The early 19th century economist, broker and speculator David Ricardo “. . . made the bulk of his fortune as a result of speculation on the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo, using methods that today would result in prosecution for insider trading and market manipulation.”[7] It is not a great leap from insider trading (which Milton Friedman, much later, enthusiastically endorsed) to securities fraud, negligent subprime mortgage lending, unregulated credit default swaps and so on. But it is also evidently true that wealth is  power – power cashed out at the political level. Ricardo, who was able to use his largesse to buy a seat in the UK Parliament, would probably not have had any problem with the Supreme CourtCitizens United decision to remove limits on corporate political donations. Perhaps we have here one of the earliest exemplars of how moneyed interest, power and political ambition are easily woven together in a capitalist political economy. At any rate, it is clear that the very visible hand of the elite class inevitably renders government “by and for the people’ pretty much irrelevant – or better, invisible.

As for economic theory, Ricardo’s assumption that with social progress, the price of labor is “dear when it is scarce and cheap when it is plentiful” might explain why today the superrich have “stopped worrying and learned to love unemployment and under-employment.” As the rich have become even richer since the 2007 financial crisis, the global unemployment rate has steadily increased such that by 2015, 205 million people will be out of work – and this doesn’t even touch those who have given up looking for a job. Of course, Ricardo, like Marx after him, was clever enough to recognize that the interests of wealthy landowners were often in direct opposition to the good of society and would inevitably create tension and upheaval. This did not, however, prevent him from advocating for the abolition of the Poor Law which, he believed, encouraged people to be lazy and irresponsible – “are there no prisons? . . . are there no workhouses?”

Despite some indications to the contrary, Hobbes’ theory of human nature is unambiguously presupposed in Locke, Smith and Ricardo’s elaboration of capitalist political economy. All are essentially in agreement with the idea that we are “by nature” selfish creatures. Perhaps it is only in this sense we can be said to be “equals” – we are all equally selfish. However, such a presupposition, by any objective measure, is simply false. We know today, from abundant empirical, sociological, psychological, genetic, archaeological and anthropological evidence, that Hobbes’ theory of human nature as intrinsically “selfish” is deeply flawed. We are not “naturally” selfish – though we can, indeed, learn to be so. In other words, within a capitalist system it can become trueover over the course of time that an elite few will be chiefly oriented by greed, narcissism or selfishness – and some of the latter not so very far from the “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinners!” Dickens describes Mr. “Scrooge” as in A Christmas Carol. Of course, today the latter are no longer viewed as “sinners.” The real problem is that in our present world they are the “glorified masters” of our economies and governments. They are continuously praised, deferred to, considered “above the laws of the land” and allowed to live in a world of unabashed opulence entirely walled off from the rabble of mankind. Succinctly put, in capitalism, the greedy of the world have discovered their ideal legitimating cover: the promotion of a self-serving economics that turns the vice of selfishness into the highest virtue human beings can realize! [8]

History aside, from our own contemporary perspective, we can get a sense of “really existing capitalism’ by virtue of the following thought-experiment, which reveals the latter in its unadorned state. Imagine that we were able, right now, to ask the 7 or so billion people living on the planet whether they would choose an economic system that would inevitably lead to massive wealth and income inequalities, that would severely limit equal opportunity, that would force whole populations to live under perpetual economic austerity, that would erode any possibility of meaningful and democratic political participation, that would devastate the health of the planet and the human body while externalizing the costs of such destruction onto everyone, with the exception of a very privileged few.

Now . . . how many people do you think would actually opt for such an arrangement? Honest answer: Almost no one! The only people who would agree to such a set of conditions would be an infinitesimally small group whose present privileged economic status would be protected and furthered by maintaining the status quo. The fact is that though there are many manifestations of the capitalist system, the intentional logic of capitalism always was, and still is, the same: to protect and perpetuate the power, status and privilege of the few, while impoverishing everyone else.

Given this, you might think that we would seriously question anyone who asserts that capitalism best captures or reflects the essential capabilities, wants, desires or needs of human beings – or that it, in any way, helps to preserve or sustain the resources of the planet for future generations. If anything, capitalism has become the medium where what is worst in us is magnified and given legitimacy – materialism, greed, indifference to the suffering of others, deceitfulness and hubris – while diminishing the importance of justice, benevolence and environmental stewardship. Hopefully, Piketty’s book will be a wake-up call – not a call to fix capitalism, but to overcome it. The fact is that even if a tax on wealth could somehow reconcile the logical contradiction within capitalism, it will do nothing to prevent corporations from their “race to exploit what is left” [9]; it will not stop them from moving us closer to ecological disaster by extracting oil from bituminous sands or minerals from impoverished third world countries; it will not deter the Wall Street mega banks like Goldman Sachs, the “vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” (to borrow Matt Taibbi’s startling and vivid description) from sucking the life out of national economies; it will not impede the chemical industry from polluting the environment and using whole populations as unwitting research objects for profit; it will not avert the continuing dissolution of democracy by the superrich Koch brothers . . . and on and on.

Notwithstanding all that has been said, it is still conceivable that we could reverse our present “conditioning” by thinking and acting in different ways – by recognizing that, progressively, with the help of others, we could cultivate radically different perspectives and practices (economic and otherwise). But any such effort must assume that we are also acutely aware of the ubiquity and the powerful force of capitalist propaganda. As Henry Giroux reminds us “dominant power works relentlessly through its major cultural apparatuses to hide, mischaracterize or lampoon resistance, dissent and critically engaged social movements. This is done, in part, by sanitizing public memory and erasing critical knowledge and oppositional struggles from newspapers, radio, television, film and all those cultural institutions that engage in systemic forms of education and memory work.”[10]

Above all, the possibility of alternative economic visions, perspectives and practices have to be grounded in the reality that we share a limited world, and that we are and have always been capable of creating an economic system and public policies that preserve the health and well-being of the planet and all of the creatures that inhabit it.

NOTES:

1. Chrystia Freeland, Plutocrats, The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else. Anchor Canada 2012. p. xvi. Freeland is likely drawing from Churchill’s oft-quoted conclusion that “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

2. Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation, The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, Beacon Press 1957 pp. 45-58

3. John Locke, “The Second Treatise of Government”, in Princeton Readings in Political Thought, edited by Mitchell Cohen and Nicole Fermon. Princeton University Press, 1996. pp. 243-4

4. See Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, Harper Perennial Modern Classics 2005. pp. 73-75

5. Ronald Wright, What is America: A Short History of the New World Order, Vintage Canada, 2009. p. 116

6. To really understand the tension within Smith’s thought it is helpful to read both An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

7. Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations Book III, Chapter IV.

8. You can find Ayn Rand’s and Nathaniel Branden’s The virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism.

9. See Michael Klare’s The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources, Picador, 2012

10. Henry Giroux, “Hope in the Age of Looming Authoritarianism,” Truthout.

Anúncios

Brazil Kicks Back Against FIFA and Misses (Bloomberg)

Brazil isn't ready for a lot of things. Photographer: Paulo Fridman/Bloomberg

BRAZIL ISN’T READY FOR A LOT OF THINGS. PHOTOGRAPHER: PAULO FRIDMAN/BLOOMBERG

The other day, as she was priming her re-election campaign, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff hit a speed bump. There she was, racing across the country to launch shiny public-works projects ahead of the World Cup, and the only thing those annoying journalists wanted to know was if the airports would be renovated on time and up to “FIFA standards.” The reference, of course, was to the rigorous Switzerland-based global soccer authority. “The airports will not be FIFA-standard,” she shot back. “They will be Brazil-standard airports.”

And there it was, in a sound bite, the official spin on Brazil’s complicated moment in the sun, a candid take on the rolling public-relations disaster that has been this country’s relationship with the wider world and its international gatekeepers. Rousseff’s prickly riposte might have been calculated. With presidential elections scheduled for October, she has been struggling in the polls. Hardly a week passes without some angry klatsch or another taking the streets — not least because of Brasilia’s perceived weak hand in dealing with those overweening bean counters from Zurich. A mini-genre of anti-FIFA articles has bloomed here and abroad. It’s about time the Brazilians kicked back, she said.

It’s an odd moment to circle the wagons. Brazil is days away from the curtain call for the crown event of the most popular sport on the planet. Two years from now, Rio de Janeiro will stage the Summer Olympics, drawing hundreds of thousands of athletes and tourists, plus billions of television viewers. And yet nationalism and resentment have flared, and with them memories of times that Brazilians had imagined were behind them. “FIFA go home,” says a message stenciled in white on the pavement of Copacabana, Rio’s signature beachfront neighborhood.

Squint a little and you can see the faded graffiti of another cranky time, some three decades ago, when international creditors were banging on Brazil’s door for their due and the International Monetary Fund was their policeman. FIFA Go Home! is the direct heir to IMF Go Home!

This is passing strange. Brazil, with the world’s seventh-largest economy, traffics in a globalized world and its signifiers and acronyms, from the Gini coefficient, which measures economic inequality, to the International Organization for Standardization, which sets proprietary, industrial and commercial standards. When the country excels, Brasilia trumpets the achievement. The nation’s traditionally skewed income inequality score has improved since the beginning of the last decade, even as most fast-growing developing nations become more lopsided. When the country flops, such as in the PISA — the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s yardstick for 15-year-olds, measured by standardized scholastic tests (Brazil is a lowly 58th on a scale of 65 nations) — the official handlers rush to print disclaimers. Then there’s the mother of all acronyms, the WTO. Not only does a Brazilian, Roberto Azevedo, head the World Trade Organization, few countries have been as aggressive as his in wielding its authority, taking protectionists to task 26 times since 1995.

That’s one of the big reasons that Brazilians revere soccer. Roberto DaMatta, the brilliant anthropologist, nailed it when he said that futebol isn’t some opiate for the witless. Brazilians love the game because it is fair, has transparent rules and is played on a level playing field. What counts on the pitch is how you play, not who you know. It’s a scale model of a better world. The current World Cup anger notwithstanding, Brazilians have always been proud of their FIFA standing (currently fourth), and they will remind visitors that they got there the proper way: by beating the best.

More than an ankle kick at Brazil’s intrusive outsiders, Rousseff’s FIFA outburst was essentially the declaration of an era. To her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil was destined for glory. He pushed for a seat on the United Nations Security Council and a nuclear energy deal with Iran. He opened 40 new embassies abroad. Bagging the World Cup was part of the package. Brazil “will now with great pride do its homework,” he promised the FIFA brass in Zurich. That was then.

To contact the writer of this article: Mac Margolis at macmargolis@terra.com.br.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: James Gibney at jgibney5@bloomberg.net.

From Amazon to Garden State (CBS)

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/from-amazon-to-garden-state

MAY 11, 2014, 9:53 AM|David Good’s mother grew up in a remote village in the Amazon jungle. After meeting an American anthropologist, she moved to New Jersey and started a family. After she decided to return to her village, her son made an extraordinary trip to reconnect with her. Steve Hartman reports.

CONCLIMA 2013 – acesse vídeos de todas as palestras (Rede Clima)

CONCLIMA 2013 – acesse vídeos de todas as palestras

imagem video conclimaEstão disponíveis na Internet os vídeos de todas as apresentações realizadas durante a 1ª CONCLIMA – Conferência Nacional da Rede CLIMA, INCT para Mudanças Climáticas (INCT-MC) e Programa Fapesp de Pesquisas sobre Mudanças Climáticas Globais (PFPMCG), realizada de 9 a 13 de setembro em São Paulo. A Rede CLIMA também produziu uma síntese de toda a conferência, com duração de 30 minutos.

O objetivo da CONCLIMA foi apresentar os resultados das pesquisas e o conhecimento gerado por esses importantes programas e projetos – um ambicioso empreendimento científico criado pelos governos federal e do Estado de São Paulo para prover informações de alta qualidade em estudos de clima, detecção de variabilidade climática e mudança climática, e seus impactos em setores chaves do Brasil.

Acesse os vídeos:

Vídeo da CONCLIMA – 1a Conferência Nacional de Mudanças Climáticas Globais:

Apresentações – arquivos PDF

Íntegra das apresentações – VÍDEOS

Mesa de Abertura

MODELO BRASILEIRO DO SISTEMA TERRESTRE

Paulo Nobre – INPE

Iracema Cavalcanti – INPE

Léo Siqueira – INPE

Marcos Heil Costa – UFV

Sérgio Correa – UERJ

PAINEL BRASILEIRO DE MUDANÇAS CLIMÁTICAS

Tércio Ambrizzi – USP 

Eduardo Assad – Embrapa

Mercedes Bustamante – UnB

REDE CLIMA

Agricultura – Hilton Silveira Pinto – Embrapa

Recursos Hídricos – Alfredo Ribeiro Neto – UFPE

Energias Renováveis – Marcos Freitas – COPPE/UFRJ

Biodiversidade e Ecossistemas – Alexandre Aleixo – MPEG

Desastres Naturais – Regina Rodrigues – UFSC 

Zonas Costeiras – Carlos Garcia – FURG

Urbanização e Cidades – Roberto do Carmo – Unicamp

Economia – Eduardo Haddad – USP

Saúde – Sandra Hacon – Fiocruz

Desenvolvimento Regional – Saulo Rodrigues Filho – UnB

INCT PARA MUDANÇAS CLIMÁTICAS

O INCT para Mudanças Climáticas – José Marengo – INPE

Detecção e atribuição e variabilidade natural do clima – Simone Ferraz – UFSM

Mudanças no uso da terra – Ana Paula Aguiar – INPE

Ciclos Biogeoquímicos Globais e Biodiversidade – Mercedes Bustamante – UnB

Oceanos – Regina Rodrigues – UFSC

REDD – Osvaldo Stella – IPAM

Cenários Climáticos Futuros e Redução de Incertezas – José Marengo – INPE

Gases de Efeito Estufa – Plínio Alvalá – INPE

Estudos de ciência, tecnologia e políticas públicas – Myanna Lahsen – INPE

Interações biosfera-atmosfera – Gilvan Sampaio – INPE

Amazônia – Gilberto Fisch – IAE/DCTA

PROGRAMA FAPESP MUDANÇAS CLIMÁTICAS

Sistema de Alerta Precoce para Doenças Infecciosas Emergentes na Amazônia Ocidental – Manuel Cesario – Unifran

Clima e população em uma região de tensão entre alta taxa de urbanização e alta biodiversidade: Dimensões sociais e ecológicas das mudanças climáticas – Lucia da Costa Ferreira – Unicamp

Cenários de impactos das mudanças climáticas na produção de álcool visando a definição de políticas públicas – Jurandir Zullo – Unicamp

Fluxos hidrológicos e fluxos de carbono – casos da Bacia Amazônica e reflorestamento de microbacias – Humberto Rocha – USP

O papel dos rios no balanço regional do carbono – Maria Victoria Ballester – USP

Aerossóis atmosféricos, balanço de radiação, nuvens e gases traços associados com mudanças de uso de solo na Amazônia – Paulo Artaxo – USP

Socio-economic impacts of climate change in Brazil: quantitative inputs for the design of public policies – Joaquim José Martins Guilhoto e Rafael Feltran Barbieri- USP

Emissão de dióxido de carbono em solos de áreas de cana-de-açúcar sob diferentes estratégias de manejo – Newton La Scala Jr – Unesp

Impacto do Oceano Atlantico Sudoeste no Clima da America do Sul ao longo dos séculos 20 e 21 – Tércio Ambrizzi – USP

MESA REDONDA: C,T&I EM MUDANÇAS GLOBAIS COMO APOIO ÀS POLÍTICAS PÚBLICAS 

Apresentação Sergio Margulis – SAE – Presidência da República

Apresentação Gustavo Luedemann (MCTI)

Apresentação Carlos Klink (SMCQ/MMA)

Apresentação Couto Silva (MMA): Ambiente sobre o status da Elaboração do Plano Nacional de Adaptação. Funcionamento do GT Adaptação e suas redes temáticas. Proposta de Calendário. Proposta de Estrutura do Plano. 

Apresentação Alexandre Gross (FGV): Recortes temáticos do Plano Nacional de Adaptação: apresentação do Relatório sobre dimensões temporal, espacial e temática na adaptação às mudanças climáticas (Produto 4), processo e resultados do GT Adaptação, coleta de contribuições e discussão.

Mesa redonda: Mudanças climáticas, extremos e desastres naturais 

Apresentação Rafael Schadeck – CENAD 

Apresentação Marcos Airton de Sousa Freitas – ANA 

Mesa redonda: Relação ciência – planos setoriais; políticas públicas

Apresentação Carlos Nobre – SEPED/MCTI

Apresentação Luiz Pinguelli Rosa (COPPE UFRJ, FBMC)

Apresentação Eduardo Viola – UnB

Mesa redonda: Inventários e monitoramento das emissões e remoções de GEE 

Apresentação Gustavo Luedemann – MCTI 

CONFERÊNCIAS SOBRE A VISÃO DA PRODUÇÃO DO CONHECIMENTO: DETECÇÃO, MITIGAÇÃO, IMPACTOS, VULNERABILIDADE, ADAPTAÇÃO, INOVAÇÃO

Apresentação Patrícia Pinho – IGBP/INPE

Apresentação Paulo Artaxo – USP

Are We Bothered? (Monbiot)

May 16, 2014

The more we consume, the less we care about the living planet.

By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian’s website, 9th May 2014

That didn’t take long. The public interest in the state of the natural world stimulated by the winter floods receded almost as quickly as the waters did. A YouGov poll showed that the number of respondents placing the environment among their top three issues of concern rose from 6% in mid-January to 23% in mid-February. By early April – though the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had just published two massive and horrifying reports – the proportion had fallen back to 11%.

CarbonBrief has plotted the results on this graph:

public response to floods

Sustaining interest in this great but slow-burning crisis is a challenge no one seems to have mastered. Only when the crisis causes or exacerbates an acute disaster – such as the floods – is there a flicker of anxiety, but that quickly dies away.

Why is it so difficult to persuade people to care about our wonderful planet, the world that gave rise to us and upon which we wholly depend? And why do you encounter a barrage of hostility and denial whenever you attempt it (and not only from the professional liars who are paid by coal and oil and timber companies to sow confusion and channel hatred)?

The first thing to note, in trying to answer this question, is that the rich anglophone countries are anomalous. In this bar chart (copied from the website of the New York Times) you can see how atypical the attitudes of people in the US and the UK are. Because almost everything we read in this country is published in rich, English-speaking nations, we might get the false impression that the world doesn’t care very much.

bar chart from New York Times

This belief is likely to be reinforced by the cherished notion that we lead the world in knowledge, sophistication and compassion. The bar chart puts me in mind of the famous quote perhaps mistakenly attributed to Gandhi. When asked by a journalist during a visit to Britain, “What do you think of Western civilization?”, he’s reputed to have replied, “I think it would be a good idea.”

Our erroneous belief that we are more concerned about manmade climate change than the people of other nations informs the sentiment, often voiced by the press and politicians, that there’s no point in acting if the rest of the world won’t play its part. For example, last year the Chancellor, George Osborne, remarked:

“I don’t want us to be the only people out there in front of the rest of the world. I certainly think we shouldn’t be further ahead of our partners in Europe.”

But we’re not “the only people out there in front of the rest of the world.” In fact we’re not in front at all. As this map produced by Oxford University’s Smith School suggests, we are some way behind not only some other rich nations but also a number of countries much poorer than ours.

mapping climate change commitments

As for the US, Australia and Canada, they are ranked among the worst of all: comprehensively failing to limit their massive contribution to a global problem. We justify our foot-dragging with a mistaken premise. Our refusal to stop pumping so much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is pure selfishness.

Both the map and the bar chart overlap to some degree with the fascinating results of the Greendex survey of consumer attitudes.

For years we’ve been told that people cannot afford to care about the natural world until they become rich; that only economic growth can save the biosphere, that civilisation marches towards enlightenment about our impacts on the living planet. The results suggest the opposite.

As you can see from the following graph, the people consulted in poorer countries feel, on average, much guiltier about their impacts on the natural world than people in rich countries, even though those impacts tend to be smaller. Of the nations surveyed, the people of Germany, the US, Australia and Britain feel the least consumer guilt; the people of India, China, Mexico and Brazil the most.

Greendex graph

The more we consume, the less we feel. And maybe that doesn’t just apply to guilt.

Perhaps that’s the point of our otherwise-pointless hyperconsumption: it smothers feeling. It might also be the effect of the constant bombardment of advertising and marketing. They seek to replace our attachments to people and place with attachments to objects: attachments which the next round of advertising then breaks in the hope of attaching us to a different set of objects.

The richer we are and the more we consume, the more self-centred and careless of the lives of others we appear to become. Even if you somehow put aside the direct, physical impacts of rising consumption, it’s hard to understand how anyone could imagine that economic growth is a formula for protecting the planet.

So what we seem to see here is the turning of a vicious circle. The more harm we do, the less concerned about it we become. And the more hyperconsumerism destroys relationships, communities and the physical fabric of the Earth, the more we try to fill the void in our lives by buying more stuff.

All this is accompanied in the rich anglophone nations with the extreme neoliberalism promoted by both press and politicians, and a great concentration of power in the hands of the financial and fossil fuel sectors, which lobby hard, in the public sphere and in private, to prevent change.

So the perennially low level of concern, which flickers upwards momentarily when disaster strikes, then slumps back into the customary stupor, is an almost inevitable result of a society that has become restructured around shopping, fashion, celebrity and an obsession with money. How we break the circle and wake people out of this dreamworld is the question that all those who love the living planet should address. There will be no easy answers.

John Oliver Does Science Communication Right (I Fucking Love Science)

May 15, 2014 | by Stephen Luntz

photo credit: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO). Satirist John Oliver shows how scientific pseudo-debates should be covered

One of the most frustrating experiences scientists, science communicators and anyone who cares about science have is the sight of media outlets giving equal time to positions held by a tiny minority of researchers.

This sort of behavior turns up for all sorts of concocted “controversies”, satirized as “Opinions differ on the Shape of the Earth”. However, the most egregious examples occur in reporting climate change. Thousands of carefully researched peer reviewed papers are weighed in the balance and judged equal to a handful of shoddily writtennumerically flaky publications whose flaws take less than a day  to come to light.

That is, of course, if you ignore the places where the anti-science side pretty much gets free range.

So it is a delight to see John Oliver show how it should be done.
We have only one problem with Oliver’s work. He repeats the claim that 97% of climate scientists agree that humans are warming the planet. In fact the study he referred to has 97.1% of peer reviewed papers on climate change endorsing this position. However, these papers were usually produced by large research teams, while the opposing minority were often cooked up by a couple of kooks in their garage. When you look at the numbers of scientists involved the numbers are actually 98.4% to 1.2%, with the rest undecided. Which might not sound like a big difference, but would make Oliver’s tame “skeptic” look even more lonely.
HT Vox, with a nice summary of the evidence


Read more at http://www.iflscience.com/environment/john-oliver-does-science-communication-right#9A4CD6abdJTOOMHK.99

Crazy Climate Economics (New York Times)

MAY 11, 2014

Paul Krugman

Everywhere you look these days, you see Marxism on the rise. Well, O.K., maybe you don’t — but conservatives do. If you so much as mention income inequality, you’ll be denounced as the second coming of Joseph Stalin; Rick Santorum has declared that any use of the word “class” is “Marxism talk.” In the right’s eyes, sinister motives lurk everywhere — for example, George Will says the only reason progressives favor trains is their goal of “diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.”

So it goes without saying that Obamacare, based on ideas originally developed at the Heritage Foundation, is a Marxist scheme — why, requiring that people purchase insurance is practically the same as sending them to gulags.

And just wait until the Environmental Protection Agency announces rules intended to slow the pace of climate change.

Until now, the right’s climate craziness has mainly been focused on attacking the science. And it has been quite a spectacle: At this point almost all card-carrying conservatives endorse the view that climate change is a gigantic hoax, that thousands of research papers showing a warming planet — 97 percent of the literature — are the product of a vast international conspiracy. But as the Obama administration moves toward actually doing something based on that science, crazy climate economics will come into its own.

You can already get a taste of what’s coming in the dissenting opinions from a recent Supreme Court ruling on power-plant pollution. A majority of the justices agreed that the E.P.A. has the right to regulate smog from coal-fired power plants, which drifts across state lines. But Justice Scalia didn’t just dissent; he suggested that the E.P.A.’s proposed rule — which would tie the size of required smog reductions to cost — reflected the Marxist concept of “from each according to his ability.” Taking cost into consideration is Marxist? Who knew?

And you can just imagine what will happen when the E.P.A., buoyed by the smog ruling, moves on to regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

What do I mean by crazy climate economics?

First, we’ll see any effort to limit pollution denounced as a tyrannical act. Pollution wasn’t always a deeply partisan issue: Economists in the George W. Bush administration wrote paeans to “market based” pollution controls, and in 2008 John McCain made proposals for cap-and-trade limits on greenhouse gases part of his presidential campaign. But when House Democrats actually passed a cap-and-trade bill in 2009, it was attacked as, you guessed it, Marxist. And these days Republicans come out in force to oppose even the most obviously needed regulations, like the plan to reduce the pollution that’s killing Chesapeake Bay.

Second, we’ll see claims that any effort to limit emissions will have what Senator Marco Rubio is already calling “a devastating impact on our economy.”

Why is this crazy? Normally, conservatives extol the magic of markets and the adaptability of the private sector, which is supposedly able to transcend with ease any constraints posed by, say, limited supplies of natural resources. But as soon as anyone proposes adding a few limits to reflect environmental issues — such as a cap on carbon emissions — those all-capable corporations supposedly lose any ability to cope with change.

Now, the rules the E.P.A. is likely to impose won’t give the private sector as much flexibility as it would have had in dealing with an economywide carbon cap or emissions tax. But Republicans have only themselves to blame: Their scorched-earth opposition to any kind of climate policy has left executive action by the White House as the only route forward.

Furthermore, it turns out that focusing climate policy on coal-fired power plants isn’t bad as a first step. Such plants aren’t the only source of greenhouse gas emissions, but they’re a large part of the problem — and the best estimates we have of the path forward suggest that reducing power-plant emissions will be a large part of any solution.

What about the argument that unilateral U.S. action won’t work, because China is the real problem? It’s true that we’re no longer No. 1 in greenhouse gases — but we’re still a strong No. 2. Furthermore, U.S. action on climate is a necessary first step toward a broader international agreement, which will surely include sanctions on countries that don’t participate.

So the coming firestorm over new power-plant regulations won’t be a genuine debate — just as there isn’t a genuine debate about climate science. Instead, the airwaves will be filled with conspiracy theories and wild claims about costs, all of which should be ignored. Climate policy may finally be getting somewhere; let’s not let crazy climate economics get in the way.

The Change Within: The Obstacles We Face Are Not Just External (The Nation)

The climate crisis has such bad timing, confronting it not only requires a new economy but a new way of thinking.

Naomi Klein

April 21, 2014

(Reuters/China Daily)

This is a story about bad timing.

One of the most disturbing ways that climate change is already playing out is through what ecologists call “mismatch” or “mistiming.” This is the process whereby warming causes animals to fall out of step with a critical food source, particularly at breeding times, when a failure to find enough food can lead to rapid population losses.

The migration patterns of many songbird species, for instance, have evolved over millennia so that eggs hatch precisely when food sources such as caterpillars are at their most abundant, providing parents with ample nourishment for their hungry young. But because spring now often arrives early, the caterpillars are hatching earlier too, which means that in some areas they are less plentiful when the chicks hatch, threatening a number of health and fertility impacts. Similarly, in West Greenland, caribou are arriving at their calving grounds only to find themselves out of sync with the forage plants they have relied on for thousands of years, now growing earlier thanks to rising temperatures. That is leaving female caribou with less energy for lactation, reproduction and feeding their young, a mismatch that has been linked to sharp decreases in calf births and survival rates.

Scientists are studying cases of climate-related mistiming among dozens of species, from Arctic terns to pied flycatchers. But there is one important species they are missing—us. Homosapiens. We too are suffering from a terrible case of climate-related mistiming, albeit in a cultural-historical, rather than a biological, sense. Our problem is that the climate crisis hatched in our laps at a moment in history when political and social conditions were uniquely hostile to a problem of this nature and magnitude—that moment being the tail end of the go-go ’80s, the blastoff point for the crusade to spread deregulated capitalism around the world. Climate changeis a collective problem demanding collective action the likes of which humanity has never actually accomplished. Yet it entered mainstream consciousness in the midst of an ideological war being waged on the very idea of the collective sphere.

This deeply unfortunate mistiming has created all sorts of barriers to our ability to respond effectively to this crisis. It has meant that corporate power was ascendant at the very moment when we needed to exert unprecedented controls over corporate behavior in order to protect life on earth. It has meant that regulation was a dirty word just when we needed those powers most. It has meant that we are ruled by a class of politicians who know only how to dismantle and starve public institutions, just when they most need to be fortified and reimagined. And it has meant that we are saddled with an apparatus of “free trade” deals that tie the hands of policy-makers just when they need maximum flexibility to achieve a massive energy transition.

Confronting these various structural barriers to the next economy is the critical work of any serious climate movement. But it’s not the only task at hand. We also have to confront how the mismatch between climate change and market domination has created barriers within our very selves, making it harder to look at this most pressing of humanitarian crises with anything more than furtive, terrified glances. Because of the way our daily lives have been altered by both market and technological triumphalism, we lack many of the observational tools necessary to convince ourselves that climate change is real—let alone the confidence to believe that a different way of living is possible.

And little wonder: just when we needed to gather, our public sphere was disintegrating; just when we needed to consume less, consumerism took over virtually every aspect of our lives; just when we needed to slow down and notice, we sped up; and just when we needed longer time horizons, we were able to see only the immediate present.

This is our climate change mismatch, and it affects not just our species, but potentially every other species on the planet as well.

The good news is that, unlike reindeer and songbirds, we humans are blessed with the capacity for advanced reasoning and therefore the ability to adapt more deliberately—to change old patterns of behavior with remarkable speed. If the ideas that rule our culture are stopping us from saving ourselves, then it is within our power to change those ideas. But before that can happen, we first need to understand the nature of our personal climate mismatch.

› Climate change demands that we consume less, but being consumers is all we know.Climate change is not a problem that can be solved simply by changing what we buy—a hybrid instead of an SUV, some carbon offsets when we get on a plane. At its core, it is a crisis born of overconsumption by the comparatively wealthy, which means the world’s most manic consumers are going to have to consume less.

The problem is not “human nature,” as we are so often told. We weren’t born having to shop this much, and we have, in our recent past, been just as happy (in many cases happier) consuming far less. The problem is the inflated role that consumption has come to play in our particular era.

Late capitalism teaches us to create ourselves through our consumer choices: shopping is how we form our identities, find community and express ourselves. Thus, telling people that they can’t shop as much as they want to because the planet’s support systems are overburdened can be understood as a kind of attack, akin to telling them that they cannot truly be themselves. This is likely why, of the original “Three Rs”—reduce, reuse, recycle—only the third has ever gotten any traction, since it allows us to keep on shopping as long as we put the refuse in the right box. The other two, which require that we consume less, were pretty much dead on arrival.

› Climate change is slow, and we are fast. When you are racing through a rural landscape on a bullet train, it looks as if everything you are passing is standing still: people, tractors, cars on country roads. They aren’t, of course. They are moving, but at a speed so slow compared with the train that they appear static.

So it is with climate change. Our culture, powered by fossil fuels, is that bullet train, hurtling forward toward the next quarterly report, the next election cycle, the next bit of diversion or piece of personal validation via our smartphones and tablets. Our changing climate is like the landscape out the window: from our racy vantage point, it can appear static, but it is moving, its slow progress measured in receding ice sheets, swelling waters and incremental temperature rises. If left unchecked, climate change will most certainly speed up enough to capture our fractured attention—island nations wiped off the map, and city-drowning superstorms, tend to do that. But by then, it may be too late for our actions to make a difference, because the era of tipping points will likely have begun.

› Climate change is place-based, and we are everywhere at once. The problem is not just that we are moving too quickly. It is also that the terrain on which the changes are taking place is intensely local: an early blooming of a particular flower, an unusually thin layer of ice on a lake, the late arrival of a migratory bird. Noticing those kinds of subtle changes requires an intimate connection to a specific ecosystem. That kind of communion happens only when we know a place deeply, not just as scenery but also as sustenance, and when local knowledge is passed on with a sense of sacred trust from one generation to the next.

But that is increasingly rare in the urbanized, industrialized world. We tend to abandon our homes lightly—for a new job, a new school, a new love. And as we do so, we are severed from whatever knowledge of place we managed to accumulate at the previous stop, as well as from the knowledge amassed by our ancestors (who, at least in my case, migrated repeatedly themselves).

Even for those of us who manage to stay put, our daily existence can be disconnected from the physical places where we live. Shielded from the elements as we are in our climate-controlled homes, workplaces and cars, the changes unfolding in the natural world easily pass us by. We might have no idea that a historic drought is destroying the crops on the farms that surround our urban homes, since the supermarkets still display miniature mountains of imported produce, with more coming in by truck all day. It takes something huge—like a hurricane that passes all previous high-water marks, or a flood destroying thousands of homes—for us to notice that something is truly amiss. And even then we have trouble holding on to that knowledge for long, since we are quickly ushered along to the next crisis before these truths have a chance to sink in.

Climate change, meanwhile, is busily adding to the ranks of the rootless every day, as natural disasters, failed crops, starving livestock and climate-fueled ethnic conflicts force yet more people to leave their ancestral homes. And with every human migration, more crucial connections to specific places are lost, leaving yet fewer people to listen closely to the land.

› Climate pollutants are invisible, and we have stopped believing in what we cannot see.When BP’s Macondo well ruptured in 2010, releasing torrents of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, one of the things we heard from company CEO Tony Hayward was that “the Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.” The statement was widely ridiculed at the time, and rightly so, but Hayward was merely voicing one of our culture’s most cherished beliefs: that what we can’t see won’t hurt us and, indeed, barely exists.

So much of our economy relies on the assumption that there is always an “away” into which we can throw our waste. There’s the away where our garbage goes when it is taken from the curb, and the away where our waste goes when it is flushed down the drain. There’s the away where the minerals and metals that make up our goods are extracted, and the away where those raw materials are turned into finished products. But the lesson of the BP spill, in the words of ecological theorist Timothy Morton, is that ours is “a world in which there is no ‘away.’”

When I published No Logo a decade and a half ago, readers were shocked to learn of the abusive conditions under which their clothing and gadgets were manufactured. But we have since learned to live with it—not to condone it, exactly, but to be in a state of constant forgetfulness. Ours is an economy of ghosts, of deliberate blindness.

Air is the ultimate unseen, and the greenhouse gases that warm it are our most elusive ghosts. Philosopher David Abram points out that for most of human history, it was precisely this unseen quality that gave the air its power and commanded our respect. “Called Sila, the wind-mind of the world, by the Inuit; Nilch’i, or Holy Wind, by the Navajo; Ruach, or rushing-spirit, by the ancient Hebrews,” the atmosphere was “the most mysterious and sacred dimension of life.” But in our time, “we rarely acknowledge the atmosphere as it swirls between two persons.” Having forgotten the air, Abram writes, we have made it our sewer, “the perfect dump site for the unwanted by-products of our industries…. Even the most opaque, acrid smoke billowing out of the pipes will dissipate and disperse, always and ultimately dissolving into the invisible. It’s gone. Out of sight, out of mind.”

* * *

Another part of what makes climate change so very difficult for us to grasp is that ours is a culture of the perpetual present, one that deliberately severs itself from the past that created us as well as the future we are shaping with our actions. Climate change is about how what we did generations in the past will inescapably affect not just the present, but generations in the future. These time frames are a language that has become foreign to most of us.

This is not about passing individual judgment, nor about berating ourselves for our shallowness or rootlessness. Rather, it is about recognizing that we are products of an industrial project, one intimately, historically linked to fossil fuels.

And just as we have changed before, we can change again. After listening to the great farmer-poet Wendell Berry deliver a lecture on how we each have a duty to love our “homeplace” more than any other, I asked him if he had any advice for rootless people like me and my friends, who live in our computers and always seem to be shopping for a home. “Stop somewhere,” he replied. “And begin the thousand-year-long process of knowing that place.”

That’s good advice on lots of levels. Because in order to win this fight of our lives, we all need a place to stand.

Read more of The Nation’s special #MyClimateToo coverage:

Mark Hertsgaard: Why TheNation.com Today Is All About Climate
Christopher Hayes: The New Abolitionism
Dani McClain: The ‘Environmentalists’ Who Scapegoat Immigrants and Women on Climate Change
Mychal Denzel Smith: Racial and Environmental Justice Are Two Sides of the Same Coin
Katrina vanden Heuvel: Earth Day’s Founding Father
Wen Stephenson: Let This Earth Day Be The Last
Katha Pollitt: Climate Change is the Tragedy of the Global Commons
Michelle Goldberg: Fighting Despair to Fight Climate Change
George Zornick: We’re the Fossil Fuel Industry’s Cheap Date
Dan Zegart: Want to Stop Climate Change? Take the Fossil Fuel Industry to Court
Jeremy Brecher: ‘Jobs vs. the Environment’: How to Counter the Divisive Big Lie
Jon Wiener: Elizabeth Kolbert on Species Extinction and Climate Change
Dave Zirin: Brazil’s World Cup Will Kick the Environment in the Teeth
Steven Hsieh: People of Color Are Already Getting Hit the Hardest by Climate Change
John Nichols: If Rick Weiland Can Say “No” to Keystone, So Can Barack Obama
Michelle Chen: Where Have All the Green Jobs Gone?
Peter Rothberg: Why I’m Not Totally Bummed Out This Earth Day
Leslie Savan: This Is My Brain on Paper Towels

Loss Adjustment (Mobiot.com)

March 31, 2014

When people say we should adapt to climate change, do they have any idea what that means?

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 1st April 2014

To understand what is happening to the living planet, the great conservationist Aldo Leopold remarked, is to live “in a world of wounds … An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”(1)

The metaphor suggests that he might have seen Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People(2). Thomas Stockmann is a doctor in a small Norwegian town, and medical officer at the public baths whose construction has been overseen by his brother, the mayor. The baths, the mayor boasts, “will become the focus of our municipal life! … Houses and landed property are rising in value every day.”

But Dr Stockmann discovers that the pipes were built in the wrong place, and the water feeding the baths is contaminated. “The source is poisoned …We are making our living by retailing filth and corruption! The whole of our flourishing municipal life derives its sustenance from a lie!” People bathing in the water to improve their health are instead falling ill.

Dr Stockmann expects to be treated as a hero for exposing this deadly threat. After the mayor discovers that re-laying the pipes would cost a fortune and probably sink the whole project, he decides that his brother’s report “has not convinced me that the condition of the water at the baths is as bad as you represent it to be.” He proposes to ignore the problem, make some cosmetic adjustments and carry on as before. After all, “the matter in hand is not simply a scientific one. It is a complicated matter, and has its economic as well as its technical side.” The local paper, the baths committee and the business people side with the mayor against the doctor’s “unreliable and exaggerated accounts”.

Astonished and enraged, Dr Stockmann lashes out madly at everyone. He attacks the town as a nest of imbeciles, and finds himself, in turn, denounced as an enemy of the people. His windows are broken, his clothes are torn, he’s evicted and ruined.

Yesterday’s editorial in the Daily Telegraph, which was by no means the worst of the recent commentary on this issue, follows the first three acts of the play(3). Marking the new assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the paper sides with the mayor. First it suggests that the panel cannot be trusted, partly because its accounts are unreliable and exaggerated and partly because it uses “model-driven assumptions” to forecast future trends. (What would the Telegraph prefer? Tea leaves? Entrails?). Then it suggests that trying to stop manmade climate change would be too expensive. Then it proposes making some cosmetic adjustments and carrying on as before. (“Perhaps instead of continued doom-mongering, however, greater thought needs to be given to how mankind might adapt to the climatic realities.”)

But at least the Telegraph accepted that the issue deserved some prominence. On the Daily Mail’s website, climate breakdown was scarcely a footnote to the real issues of the day: “Kim Kardashian looks more confident than ever as she shows off her toned curves” and “Little George is the spitting image of Kate”.

Beneath these indispensable reports was a story celebrating the discovery of “vast deposits of coal lying under the North Sea, which could provide enough energy to power Britain for centuries.”(4) No connection with the release of the new climate report was made. Like royal babies, Kim’s curves and Ibsen’s municipal baths, coal is good for business. Global warming, like Dr Stockmann’s contaminants, is the spectre at the feast.

Everywhere we’re told that it’s easier to adapt to global warming than to stop causing it. This suggests that it’s not only the Stern review on the economics of climate change (showing that it’s much cheaper to avert climate breakdown than to try to live with it(5)) that has been forgotten, but also the floods which have so recently abated. If a small, rich, well-organised nation cannot protect its people from a winter of exceptional rainfall – which might have been caused by less than one degree of global warming – what hope do other nations have, when faced with four degrees or more?

When our environment secretary, Owen Paterson, assures us that climate change “is something we can adapt to over time”(6) or Simon Jenkins, in the Guardian yesterday, says that we should move towards “thinking intelligently about how the world should adapt to what is already happening”(7), what do they envisage? Cities relocated to higher ground? Roads and railways shifted inland? Rivers diverted? Arable land abandoned? Regions depopulated? Have they any clue about what this would cost? Of what the impacts would be for the people breezily being told to live with it?

My guess is that they don’t envisage anything: they have no idea what they mean when they say adaptation. If they’ve thought about it at all, they probably picture a steady rise in temperatures, followed by a steady rise in impacts, to which we steadily adjust. But that, as we should know from our own recent experience, is not how it happens. Climate breakdown proceeds in fits and starts, sudden changes of state against which, as we discovered on a small scale in January, preparations cannot easily be made.

Insurers working out their liability when a disaster has occurred use a process they call loss adjustment. It could describe what all of us who love this world are going through, as we begin to recognise that governments, the media and most businesses have no intention of seeking to avert the coming tragedies. We are being told to accept the world of wounds; to live with the disappearance, envisaged in the new climate report, of coral reefs and summer sea ice, of most glaciers and perhaps some rainforests, of rivers and wetlands and the species which, like many people, will be unable to adapt(8).

As the scale of the loss to which we must adjust becomes clearer, grief and anger are sometimes overwhelming. You find yourself, as I have done in this column, lashing out at the entire town.

http://www.monbiot.com

References:

1. Aldo Leopold, 1949. A Sand County Almanac. Oxford University Press.

2. Read at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2446/2446-h/2446-h.htm

3. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/telegraph-view/10733381/The-climate-debate-needs-more-than-alarmism.html

4. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2593032/Coal-fuel-UK-centuries-Vast-deposits-totalling-23trillion-tonnes-North-Sea.html

5. http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http:/www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/sternreview_index.htm

6. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/30/owen-paterson-minister-climate-change-advantages

7. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/31/ipcc-report-adaptation-climate-change

8. http://ipcc-wg2.gov/AR5/images/uploads/IPCC_WG2AR5_SPM_Approved.pdf

Global Warming Scare Tactics (New York Times)

 OAKLAND, Calif. — IF you were looking for ways to increase public skepticism about global warming, you could hardly do better than the forthcoming nine-part series on climate change and natural disasters, starting this Sunday on Showtime. A trailer for “Years of Living Dangerously” is terrifying, replete with images of melting glaciers, raging wildfires and rampaging floods. “I don’t think scary is the right word,” intones one voice. “Dangerous, definitely.”

Showtime’s producers undoubtedly have the best of intentions. There are serious long-term risks associated with rising greenhouse gas emissions, ranging from ocean acidification to sea-level rise to decreasing agricultural output.

But there is every reason to believe that efforts to raise public concern about climate change by linking it to natural disasters will backfire. More than a decade’s worth of research suggests that fear-based appeals about climate change inspire denial, fatalism and polarization.

For instance, Al Gore’s 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” popularized the idea that today’s natural disasters are increasing in severity and frequency because of human-caused global warming. It also contributed to public backlash and division. Since 2006, the number of Americans telling Gallup that the media was exaggerating global warming grew to 42 percent today from about 34 percent. Meanwhile, the gap between Democrats and Republicans on whether global warming is caused by humans rose to 42 percent last year from 26 percent in 2006, according to the Pew Research Center.

Other factors contributed. Some conservatives and fossil-fuel interests questioned the link between carbon emissions and global warming. And beginning in 2007, as the country was falling into recession, public support for environmental protection declined.

Still, environmental groups have known since 2000 that efforts to link climate change to natural disasters could backfire, after researchers at the Frameworks Institute studied public attitudes for its report “How to Talk About Global Warming.” Messages focused on extreme weather events, they found, made many Americans more likely to view climate change as an act of God — something to be weathered, not prevented.

Some people, the report noted, “are likely to buy an SUV to help them through the erratic weather to come” for example, rather than support fuel-efficiency standards.

Since then, evidence that a fear-based approach backfires has grown stronger. A frequently cited 2009 study in the journal Science Communication summed up the scholarly consensus. “Although shocking, catastrophic, and large-scale representations of the impacts of climate change may well act as an initial hook for people’s attention and concern,” the researchers wrote, “they clearly do not motivate a sense of personal engagement with the issue and indeed may act to trigger barriers to engagement such as denial.” In a controlled laboratory experiment published in Psychological Science in 2010, researchers were able to use “dire messages” about global warming to increase skepticism about the problem.

Many climate advocates ignore these findings, arguing that they have an obligation to convey the alarming facts.

But claims linking the latest blizzard, drought or hurricane to global warming simply can’t be supported by the science. Our warming world is, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, increasing heat waves and intense precipitation in some places, and is likely to bring more extreme weather in the future. But the panel also said there is little evidence that this warming is increasing the loss of life or the economic costs of natural disasters. “Economic growth, including greater concentrations of people and wealth in periled areas and rising insurance penetration,” the climate panel noted, “is the most important driver of increasing losses.”

What works, say environmental pollsters and researchers, is focusing on popular solutions. Climate advocates often do this, arguing that solar and wind can reduce emissions while strengthening the economy. But when renewable energy technologies are offered as solutions to the exclusion of other low-carbon alternatives, they polarize rather than unite.

One recent study, published by Yale Law School’s Cultural Cognition Project, found that conservatives become less skeptical about global warming if they first read articles suggesting nuclear energy or geoengineering as solutions. Another study, in the journal Nature Climate Change in 2012, concluded that “communication should focus on how mitigation efforts can promote a better society” rather than “on the reality of climate change and averting its risks.”

Nonetheless, virtually every major national environmental organization continues to reject nuclear energy, even after four leading climate scientists wrote them an open letter last fall, imploring them to embrace the technology as a key climate solution. Together with catastrophic rhetoric, the rejection of technologies like nuclear and natural gas by environmental groups is most likely feeding the perception among many that climate change is being exaggerated. After all, if climate change is a planetary emergency, why take nuclear and natural gas off the table?

While the urgency that motivates exaggerated claims is understandable, turning down the rhetoric and embracing solutions like nuclear energy will better serve efforts to slow global warming.

Repercussões do novo relatório do Painel Intergovernamental sobre Mudanças Climáticas (IPCC)

Brasil já se prepara para adaptações às mudanças climáticas, diz especialista (Agência Brasil)

JC e-mail 4925, de 02 de abril de 2014

Com base no relatório do IPCC,dirigente do INPE disse que o Brasil já revela um passo adiante em termos de adaptação às mudanças climáticas

Com o título Mudanças Climáticas 2014: Impactos, Adaptação e Vulnerabilidade, o relatório divulgado ontem (31) pelo Painel Intergovernamental sobre Mudanças Climáticas (IPCC) sinaliza que os efeitos das mudanças do clima já estão sendo sentidos em todo o mundo. O relatório aponta que para se alcançar um aquecimento de apenas 2 graus centígrados, que seria o mínimo tolerável para que os impactos não sejam muito fortes, é preciso ter emissões zero de gases do efeito estufa, a partir de 2050.

“O compromisso é ter emissões zero a partir de 2040 /2050, e isso significa uma mudança de todo o sistema de desenvolvimento, que envolve mudança dos combustíveis”, disse hoje (1º) o chefe do Centro de Ciência do Sistema Terrestr,e do Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (Inpe), José Marengo, um dos autores do novo relatório do IPCC. Marengo apresentou o relatório na Academia Brasileira de Ciências (ABC), no Rio de Janeiro, e destacou que alguns países interpretam isso como uma tentativa de frear o crescimento econômico. Na verdade, ele assegurou que a intenção é chegar a um valor para que o aquecimento não seja tão intenso e grave.

Com base no relatório do IPCC, Marengo comentou que o Brasil já revela um passo adiante em termos de adaptação às mudanças climáticas. “Eu acho que o Brasil já escutou a mensagem. Já está começando a preparar o plano nacional de adaptação, por meio dos ministérios do Meio Ambiente e da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação”. Essa adaptação, acrescentou, é acompanhada de avaliações de vulnerabilidades, “e o Brasil é vulnerável às mudanças de clima”, lembrou.

A adaptação, segundo ele, atenderá a políticas governamentais, mas a comunidade científica ajudará a elaborar o plano para identificar regiões e setores considerados chave. “Porque a adaptação é uma coisa que muda de região e de setor. Você pode ter uma adaptação no setor saúde, no Nordeste, totalmente diferente do Sul. Então, essa é uma política que o governo já está começando a traçar seriamente”.

O plano prevê análises de risco em setores como agricultura, saúde, recursos hídricos, regiões costeiras, grandes cidades. Ele está começando a ser traçado como uma estratégia de governo. Como as vulnerabilidades são diferentes, o plano não pode criar uma política única para o país. Na parte da segurança alimentar, em especial, José Marengo ressaltou a importância do conhecimento indígena, principalmente para os países mais pobres.

Marengo afiançou, entretanto, que esse plano não deverá ser concluído no curto prazo. “É uma coisa que leva tempo. Esse tipo de estudo não pode ser feito em um ou dois anos. É uma coisa de longo prazo, porque vai mudando continuamente. Ou seja, é um plano dinâmico, que a cada cinco anos tem que ser reavaliado e refeito. Poucos países têm feito isso, e o Brasil está começando a elaborar esse plano agora”, manifestou.

Marengo admitiu que a adaptação às mudanças climáticas tem que ter também um viés econômico, por meio da regulação. “Quando eu falo em adaptação, é uma mistura de conhecimento científico para identificar que área é vulnerável. Mas tudo isso vem acompanhado de coisas que não são climáticas, mas sim, econômicas, como custos e investimento. Porque adaptação custa dinheiro. Quem vai pagar pela adaptação? “, indagou.

O IPCC não tem uma posição a respeito, embora Marengo mencione que os países pobres querem que os ricos paguem pela sua adaptação às mudanças do clima. O tema deverá ser abordado na próxima reunião da 20ª Convenção-Quadro sobre Mudança do Clima COP-20, da Organização das Nações Unidas (ONU), que ocorrerá em Lima, no Peru, no final deste ano.

Entretanto, o IPCC aponta situações sobre o que está ocorrendo nas diversas partes do mundo, e o que poderia ser feito. As soluções, salientou, serão indicadas no próximo relatório do IPCC, cuja divulgação é aguardada para este mês. O relatório, segundo ele, apontará que “a solução está na mitigação”. Caso, por exemplo, da redução das emissões de gases de efeito estufa, o uso menor de combustíveis fósseis e maior uso de fontes de energia renováveis, novas opções de combustíveis, novas soluções de tecnologia, estabilização da população. “Tudo isso são coisas que podem ser consideradas”. Admitiu, porém, que são difíceis de serem alcançadas, porque alguns países estão dispostos a isso, outros não. “É uma coisa que depende de acordo mundial”.

De acordo com o relatório do IPCC, as tendências são de aumento da temperatura global, aumento e diminuição de precipitações (chuvas), degradação ambiental, risco para as áreas costeiras e a fauna marinha, mudança na produtividade agrícola, entre outras. A adaptação a essas mudanças depende do lugar e do contexto. A adaptação para um setor pode não ser aplicável a outro. As medidas visando a adaptação às mudanças climáticas devem ser tomadas pelos governos, mas também pela sociedade como um todo e pelos indivíduos, recomendam os cientistas que elaboraram o relatório.

Para o Nordeste brasileiro, por exemplo, a construção de cisternas pode ser um começo no sentido de adaptação à seca. Mas isso tem de ser uma busca permanente, destacou José Marengo. Observou que programas de reflorestamento são formas de mitigação e, em consequência, de adaptação, na medida em que reduzem as emissões e absorvem as emissões excedentes.

No Brasil, três aspectos se distinguem: segurança hídrica, segurança energética e segurança alimentar. As secas no Nordeste e as recentes enchentes no Norte têm ajudado a entender o problema da vulnerabilidade do clima, acrescentou o cientista. Disse que, de certa forma, o Brasil tem reagido para enfrentar os extremos. “Mas tem que pensar que esses extremos podem ser mais frequentes. A experiência está mostrando que alguns desses extremos devem ser pensados no longo prazo, para décadas”, salientou.

O biólogo Marcos Buckeridge, pesquisador do Instituto de Biociências da Universidade de São Paulo (USP) e membro do IPCC, lembrou que as queimadas na Amazônia, apesar de mostrarem redução nos últimos anos, ainda ocorrem com intensidade. “O Brasil é o país que mais queima floresta no mundo”, e isso leva à perda de muitas espécies animais e vegetais, trazendo, como resultado, impactos no clima.

Para a pesquisadora sênior do Centro de Estudos Integrados sobre Meio Ambiente e Mudanças Climáticas – Centro Clima da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Carolina Burle Schmidt Dubeux, a economia da adaptação deve pensar o gerenciamento também do lado da demanda. Isso quer dizer que tem que englobar não só investimentos, mas também regulação econômica em que os preços reflitam a redução da oferta de bens. “Regulação econômica é muito importante para que a gente possa se adaptar [às mudanças do clima]. As políticas têm que refletir a escassez da água e da energia elétrica e controlar a demanda”, apontou.

Segundo a pesquisadora, a internalização de custos ambientais nos preços é necessária para que a população tenha maior qualidade de vida. “A questão da adaptação é um constante gerenciamento do risco das mudanças climáticas, que é desconhecido e imprevisível”, acrescentou. Carolina defendeu que para ocorrer a adaptação, deve haver uma comunicação constante entre o governo e a sociedade. “A mídia tem um papel relevante nesse processo”, disse.

(Agência Brasil)

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Mudanças climáticas ameaçam produtos da cesta básica brasileira (O Globo)

JC e-mail 4925, de 02 de abril de 2014

Dieta será prejudicada por queda das safras e da atividade pesqueira

Os impactos das mudanças climáticas no país comprometerão o rendimento das safras de trigo, arroz, milho e soja, produtos fundamentais da cesta básica do brasileiro. Outro problema desembarca no litoral. Segundo prognósticos divulgados esta semana pelo Painel Intergovernamental de Mudanças Climáticas (IPCC), grandes populações de peixes deixarão a zona tropical nas próximas décadas, buscando regiões de alta latitude. Desta forma, a pesca artesanal também é afetada.

A falta de segurança alimentar também vai acometer outros países. Estima-se que a atividade agrícola da União Europeia caia significativamente até o fim do século. Duas soluções já são estudadas. Uma seria aumentar as importações – o Brasil seria um importante mercado, se conseguir nutrir a sua população e, além disso, desenvolver uma produção excedente. A outra possibilidade é a pesquisa de variedades genéticas que deem resistência aos alimentos diante das novas condições climáticas.

– Os eventos extremos, mesmo quando têm curta duração, reduzem o tamanho da safra – contou Marcos Buckeridge, professor do Departamento de Botânica da USP e coautor do relatório do IPCC, em uma apresentação realizada ontem na Academia Brasileira de Ciências. – Além disso, somos o país que mais queima florestas no mundo, e a seca é maior justamente na Amazônia Oriental, levando a perdas na agricultura da região.

O aquecimento global também enfraquecerá a segurança hídrica do país.

– É preciso encontrar uma forma de garantir a disponibilidade de água no semiárido, assim como estruturas que a direcione para as áreas urbanas – recomenda José Marengo, climatologista do Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (Inpe) e também autor do relatório.

Marengo lembra que o Nordeste enfrenta a estiagem há três anos. Segundo ele, o uso de carros-pipa é uma solução pontual. Portanto, outras medidas devem ser pensadas. A transposição do Rio São Francisco também pode não ser suficiente, já que a região deve passar por um processo de desertificação até o fim do século.

De acordo com um estudo realizado em 2009 por diversas instituições brasileiras, e que é citado no novo relatório do IPCC, as chuvas no Nordeste podem diminuir até 2,5mm por dia até 2100, causando perdas agrícolas em todos os estados da região. O déficit hídrico reduziria em 25% a capacidade de pastoreiro dos bovinos de corte. O retrocesso da pecuária é outro ataque à dieta do brasileiro.

– O Brasil perderá entre R$ 719 bilhões e R$ 3,6 trilhões em 2050, se nada fizer . Enfrentaremos perda agrícola e precisaremos de mais recursos para o setor hidrelétrico – alerta Carolina Dubeux, pesquisadora do Centro Clima da Coppe/UFRJ, que assina o documento. – A adaptação é um constante gerenciamento de risco.

(Renato Grandelle / O Globo)
http://oglobo.globo.com/ciencia/mudancas-climaticas-ameacam-produtos-da-cesta-basica-brasileira-12061170#ixzz2xjSEUoVy

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Impactos mais graves no clima do país virão de secas e de cheias (Folha de S.Paulo)

JC e-mail 4925, de 02 de abril de 2014

Brasileiros em painel da ONU dizem que país precisa se preparar para problemas opostos em diferentes regiões

As previsões regionais do novo relatório do IPCC (painel do clima da ONU) aponta como principais efeitos da mudança climática no país problemas na disponibilidade de água, com secas persistentes em alguns pontos e cheias recordes em outros. Lançado anteontem no Japão, o documento do grupo de trabalho 2 do IPCC dá ênfase a impactos e vulnerabilidades provocados pelo clima ao redor do mundo. Além de listar os principais riscos, o documento ressalta a necessidade de adaptação aos riscos projetados. No Brasil, pela extensão territorial, os efeitos serão diferentes em cada região.

Além de afetar a floresta e seus ecossistemas, a mudança climática deve prejudicar também a geração de energia, a agricultura e até a saúde da população. “Tudo remete à água. Onde nós tivermos problemas com a água, vamos ter problemas com outras coisas”, resumiu Marcos Buckeridge, professor da USP e um dos autores do relatório do IPCC, em entrevista coletiva com outros brasileiros que participaram do painel.

Na Amazônia, o padrão de chuvas já vem sendo afetado. Atualmente, a cheia no rio Madeira já passa dos 25 m –nível mais alto da história– e afeta 60 mil pessoas. No Nordeste, que nos últimos anos passou por secas sucessivas, as mudanças climáticas podem intensificar os períodos sem chuva, e há um risco de que o semiárido vire árido permanentemente.

Segundo José Marengo, do Inpe (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais) e um dos autores principais do documento, ainda é cedo para saber se a seca persistente em São Paulo irá se repetir no ano que vem ou nos outros, mas alertou que é preciso que o Brasil se prepare melhor.

MITIGAR E ADAPTAR
O IPCC fez previsões para diferentes cenários, mas, basicamente, indica que as consequências são mais graves quanto maiores os níveis de emissões de gases-estufa. “Se não dá para reduzir as ameaças, precisamos pelo menos reduzir os riscos”, disse Marengo, destacando que, no Brasil, nem sempre isso acontece. No caso das secas, a construção de cisternas e a mobilização de carros-pipa seriam alternativas de adaptação. Já nos locais onde deve haver aumento nas chuvas, a remoção de populações de áreas de risco, como as encostas, seria a alternativa.

Carolina Dubeux, da UFRJ, que também participa do IPCC, afirma que, para que haja equilíbrio entre oferta e demanda, é preciso que a economia reflita a escassez dos recursos naturais, sobretudo em áreas como agricultura e geração de energia. “É necessário que os preços reflitam a escassez de um bem. Se a água está escassa, o preço dela precisa refletir isso. Não podemos só expandir a oferta”, afirmou.

Neste relatório, caiu o grau de confiança sobre projeções para algumas regiões, sobretudo em países em desenvolvimento. Segundo Carlos Nobre, secretário do Ministério de Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação, isso não significa que o documento tenha menos poder político ou científico.

Everton Lucero, chefe de clima no Itamaraty, diz que o documento será importante para subsidiar discussões do próximo acordo climático mundial. “Mas há um desequilíbrio entre os trabalhos científicos levados em consideração pelo IPCC, com muito mais ênfase no que é produzido nos países ricos. As nações em desenvolvimento também produzem muita ciência de qualidade, que deve ter mais espaço”, disse.

(Giuliana Miranda/Folha de S.Paulo)
http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/fsp/cienciasaude/159305-impactos-mais-graves-no-clima-do-pais-virao-de-secas-e-de-cheias.shtml

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Relatório do IPCC aponta riscos e oportunidades para respostas (Ascom do MCTI)

JC e-mail 4925, de 02 de abril de 2014

Um total de 309 cientistas de 70 países, entre coordenadores, autores, editores e revisores, foram selecionados para produzir o relatório

O novo relatório do Painel Intergovernamental sobre Mudanças Climáticas (IPCC) diz que os efeitos das mudanças climáticas já estão ocorrendo em todos os continentes e oceanos e que o mundo, em muitos casos, está mal preparado para os riscos. O documento também conclui que há oportunidades de repostas, embora os riscos sejam difíceis de gerenciar com os níveis elevados de aquecimento.

O relatório, intitulado Mudanças Climáticas 2014: Impactos, Adaptação e Vulnerabilidade, foi elaborado pelo Grupo de Trabalho 2 (GT 2) do IPCC e detalha os impactos das mudanças climáticas até o momento, os riscos futuros e as oportunidades para uma ação eficaz para reduzir os riscos. Os resultados foram apresentados à imprensa brasileira em entrevista coletiva no Rio de Janeiro nesta terça-feira (1º).

Um total de 309 cientistas de 70 países, entre coordenadores, autores, editores e revisores, foram selecionados para produzir o relatório. Eles contaram com a ajuda de 436 autores contribuintes e 1.729 revisores especialistas.

Os autores concluem que a resposta às mudanças climáticas envolve fazer escolhas sobre os riscos em um mundo em transformação, assinalando que a natureza dos riscos das mudanças climáticas é cada vez mais evidente, embora essas alterações também continuem a produzir surpresas. O relatório identifica as populações, indústrias e ecossistemas vulneráveis ao redor do mundo.

Segundo o documento, o risco da mudança climática provém de vulnerabilidade (falta de preparo), exposição (pessoas ou bens em perigo) e sobreposição com os riscos (tendências ou eventos climáticos desencadeantes). Cada um desses três componentes pode ser alvo de ações inteligentes para diminuir o risco.

“Vivemos numa era de mudanças climáticas provocadas pelo homem”, afirma o copresidente do GT 2 Vicente Barros, da Universidade de Buenos Aires, Argentina. “Em muitos casos, não estamos preparados para os riscos relacionados com o clima que já enfrentamos. Investimentos num melhor preparo podem melhorar os resultados, tanto para o presente e para o futuro.”

Reação
A adaptação para reduzir os riscos das mudanças climáticas começa a ocorrer, mas com um foco mais forte na reação aos acontecimentos passados do que na preparação para um futuro diferente, de acordo com outro copresidente do GT, Chris Field, da Carnegie Institution for Science, dos Estados Unidos.

“A adaptação às mudanças climáticas não é uma agenda exótica nunca tentada. Governos, empresas e comunidades ao redor do mundo estão construindo experiência com a adaptação”, explica Field. “Esta experiência constitui um ponto de partida para adaptações mais ousadas e ambiciosas, que serão importantes à medida que o clima e a sociedade continuam a mudar”.

Riscos futuros decorrentes das mudanças no clima dependem fortemente da quantidade de futuras alterações climáticas. Magnitudes crescentes de aquecimento aumentam a probabilidade de impactos graves e generalizados que podem ser surpreendentes ou irreversíveis.

“Com níveis elevados de aquecimento, que resultam de um crescimento contínuo das emissões de gases de efeito estufa, será um desafio gerenciar os riscos e mesmo investimentos sérios e contínuos em adaptação enfrentarão limites”, afirma Field.

Problemas
Impactos observados da mudança climática já afetaram a agricultura, a saúde humana, os ecossistemas terrestres e marítimos, abastecimento de água e a vida de algumas pessoas. A característica marcante dos impactos observados é que eles estão ocorrendo a partir dos trópicos para os polos, a partir de pequenas ilhas para grandes continentes e dos países mais ricos para os mais pobres.

“O relatório conclui que as pessoas, sociedades e ecossistemas são vulneráveis em todo o mundo, mas com vulnerabilidade diferentes em lugares diferentes. As mudanças climáticas muitas vezes interagem com outras tensões para aumentar o risco”, diz Chris Field.

A adaptação pode desempenhar um papel-chave na redução destes riscos, observa Vicente Barros. “Parte da razão pela qual a adaptação é tão importante é que, devido à mudança climática, o mundo enfrenta uma série de riscos já inseridos no sistema climático, acentuados pelas emissões passadas e infraestrutura existente”.

Field acrescenta: “A compreensão de que a mudança climática é um desafio na gestão de risco abre um leque de oportunidades para integrar a adaptação com o desenvolvimento econômico e social e com as iniciativas para limitar o aquecimento futuro. Nós definitivamente enfrentamos desafios, mas compreender esses desafios e ultrapassá-los de forma criativa pode fazer da adaptação à mudança climática uma forma importante de ajudar a construir um mundo mais vibrante em curto prazo e além”.

Conteúdo
O relatório do GT 2 é composto por dois volumes. O primeiro contém Resumo para Formuladores de Políticas, Resumo Técnico e 20 capítulos que avaliam riscos por setor e oportunidades para resposta. Os setores incluem recursos de água doce, os ecossistemas terrestres e oceânicos, costas, alimentos, áreas urbanas e rurais, energia e indústria, a saúde humana e a segurança, além dos meios de vida e pobreza.

Em seus dez capítulos, o segundo volume avalia os riscos e oportunidades para a resposta por região. Essas regiões incluem África, Europa, Ásia, Australásia (Austrália, a Nova Zelândia, a Nova Guiné e algumas ilhas menores da parte oriental da Indonésia), América do Norte, América Central e América do Sul, regiões polares, pequenas ilhas e oceanos.

Acesse a contribuição do grupo de trabalho (em inglês) aqui ou no site da instituição.

A Unidade de Apoio Técnico do GT 2 é hospedada pela Carnegie Institution for Science e financiada pelo governo dos Estados Unidos.

Mapa
“O relatório do Grupo de Trabalho 2 é outro importante passo para a nossa compreensão sobre como reduzir e gerenciar os riscos das mudanças climáticas”, destaca o presidente do IPCC, RajendraPachauri. “Juntamente com os relatórios dos grupos 1 e 3, fornece um mapa conceitual não só dos aspectos essenciais do desafio climático, mas as soluções possíveis.”

O relatório do GT 1 foi lançado em setembro de 2013, e o do GT 3 será divulgado neste mês. O quinto relatório de avaliação (AR5) será concluído com a publicação de uma síntese em outubro.

O Painel Intergovernamental sobre Mudança do Clima é o organismo internacional para avaliar a ciência relacionada à mudança climática. Foi criado em 1988 pela Organização Meteorológica Mundial e pelo Programa das Nações Unidas para o Ambiente (Pnuma), para fornecer aos formuladores de políticas avaliações regulares da base científica das mudanças climáticas, seus impactos e riscos futuros, e opções para adaptação e mitigação.

Foi na 28ª Sessão do IPCC, realizada em abril de 2008, que os membros do painel decidiram preparar o AR5. O documento envolveu 837 autores e editores de revisão.

(Ascom do MCTI, com informações do IPCC)
http://www.mcti.gov.br/index.php/content/view/353700/Relatorio_do_IPCC_aponta_riscos_e_oportunidades_para_respostas.html

A ditadura venceu (Folha de S.Paulo)

Vladimir Safatle

01/04/2014 03h00

Hoje é o dia que marca, afinal, os 50 anos do golpe militar ocorrido em 1º de abril de 1964. Durante as últimas semanas, a sociedade brasileira foi obrigada a ler afirmações de personagens como o senhor Leônidas Pires Gonçalves, primeiro ministro do Exército pós-ditadura, insultando o país ao dizer que: “a revolução (sic) não matou ninguém” e que ela teria sido uma necessidade histórica.

Antes, correntistas do banco Itaú, uma instituição tão organicamente ligada à ditadura que teve um de seus donos, o senhor Olavo Setúbal, nomeado prefeito biônico da cidade de São Paulo, receberam uma singela agenda onde se lia que o dia de hoje seria o aniversário da dita “revolução”. Ninguém, nem nas Forças Armadas nem no setor empresarial que tramou e alimentou o golpe teve a dignidade de pedir à sociedade perdão por um regime que destruiu o país.

É claro que ainda hoje há os que procuram minimizar a ditadura afirmando que ela foi responsável por conquistas econômicas relevantes. Raciocínio semelhante foi, por um tempo, utilizado no Chile.

Tanto em um caso quanto no outro esse raciocínio é falso. A inflação brasileira em 1963 era de 78%. Vinte anos depois, em 1983, era de 239%. O endividamento chegou, ao final da ditadura, a US$ 100 bilhões, legando um país de economia completamente cartelizada, que se transformara na terceira nação mais desigual do mundo e cujas decisões eram tomadas não pelo ministro da economia, mas pelos tecnocratas do Fundo Monetário Internacional chefiados pela senhora Ana Maria Jul. A concentração e a desigualdade se acentuaram, o êxodo rural destruiu nossas cidades, a educação pública foi destroçada, a começar por nossas universidades.

Mas o maior exemplo desse revisionismo histórico encontra-se na crença, de 68% da população brasileira, de que aquele era um período de menos corrupção. Alguém deveria enviar para cada uma dessas pessoas os dossiês de casos como: Coroa-Brastel, Capemi, Projeto Jari, Lutfalla, Banco Econômico, Transamazônica e Paulipetro.

Tudo isso apenas demonstra o fracasso que foi, até agora, o dever de memória sobre a ditadura.

Mas o que poderíamos esperar de governos, como o de Fernando Henrique Cardoso, cujos fiadores eram Antônio Carlos Magalhães e Jorge Bornhausen, e de Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva/Dilma Rousseff, que tem em José Sarney um de seus pilares e em Antonio Delfim Netto um de seus principais conselheiros?

Como esperar uma verdadeira política contra a ditadura de governos que dependem de figuras vindas diretamente da ditadura?

Foi assim, de maneira silenciosa, que a ditadura venceu.

Elegy for a Country’s Seasons (New York Review of Books)

Zadie SmithAPRIL 3, 2014 ISSUE

smith_1-040314.jpg

Wyatt Gallery: Displaced Home in Marsh, Midland Beach, Staten Island, ­November 2012; from the book #Sandy: Seen Through the iPhones of Acclaimed Photographers, to be published by Daylight in September. ­Gallery’s photograph also appears in the exhibition ‘Rising Waters,’ on view at the ­Museum of the City of New York until April 6, 2014. For more on the exhibition, see Michael Greenberg’s review on the NYRgallery blog,www.nybooks.com/gallery.

There is the scientific and ideological language for what is happening to the weather, but there are hardly any intimate words. Is that surprising? People in mourning tend to use euphemism; likewise the guilty and ashamed. The most melancholy of all the euphemisms: “The new normal.” “It’s the new normal,” I think, as a beloved pear tree, half-drowned, loses its grip on the earth and falls over. The train line to Cornwall washes away—the new normal. We can’t even say the word “abnormal” to each other out loud: it reminds us of what came before. Better to forget what once was normal, the way season followed season, with a temperate charm only the poets appreciated.

What “used to be” is painful to remember. Forcing the spike of an unlit firework into the cold, dry ground. Admiring the frost on the holly berries, en route to school. Taking a long, restorative walk on Boxing Day in the winter glare. Whole football pitches crunching underfoot. A bit of sun on Pancake Day; a little more for the Grand National. Chilly April showers, Wimbledon warmth. July weddings that could trust in fine weather. The distinct possibility of a Glastonbury sunburn. At least, we say to each other, at least August is still reliably ablaze—in Cornwall if not at carnival. And it’s nice that the Scots can take a little more heat with them when they pack up and leave.

Maybe we will get used to this new England, and—like the very young and recently migrated—take it for granted that April is the time for shorts and sandals, or that the New Year traditionally announces itself with a biblical flood. They say there will be butterflies appearing in new areas, and birds visiting earlier and leaving later—perhaps that will be interesting, and new, and not, necessarily, worse. Maybe we are misremembering the past! The Thames hasn’t frozen over for generations, and the dream of a White Christmas is only a collective Dickensian delusion. Besides, wasn’t it always a wet country?

It’s amazing the side roads you can will yourself down to avoid the four-lane motorway ahead. England was never as wet as either its famous novels suggest or our American cousins presume. The weather has changed, is changing, and with it so many seemingly small things—quite apart from train tracks and houses, livelihoods and actual lives—are being lost. It was easy to assume, for example, that we would always be able to easily find a hedgehog in some corner of a London garden, pick it up in cupped hands, and unfurl it for our children—or go on a picnic and watch fat bumblebees crawling over the mouth of an open jam jar. Every country has its own version of this local sadness. (And every country has its version of our arguments, when it comes to causation. Climate change or cars? Climate change or cell phone sites?) You’re not meant to mention the minor losses, they don’t seem worth mentioning—not when compared to the visions of apocalypse conjured by climate scientists and movie directors. And then there are all those people who believe that nothing much is happening at all.

Although many harsh words are said about the childlike response of the public to the coming emergency, the response doesn’t seem to me very surprising, either. It’s hard to keep apocalypse consistently in mind, especially if you want to get out of bed in the morning. What’s missing from the account is how much of our reaction is emotional. If it weren’t, the whole landscape of debate would be different. We can easily imagine, for example, a world in which the deniers were not deniers at all, but simple ruthless pragmatists, the kind of people who say: “I understand very well what’s coming, but I am not concerned with my grandchildren; I am concerned with myself, my shareholders, and the Chinese competition.” And there are indeed a few who say this, but not as many as it might be reasonable to expect.

Another response that would seem natural aligns a deep religious feeling with environmental concern, for those who consider the land a beauteous gift of the Lord should, surely, rationally, be among the most keen to protect it. There are a few of these knocking around, too, but again, not half as many as I would have assumed. Instead the evidence is to be “believed” or “denied” as if the scientific papers are so many Lutheran creeds pinned to a door. In America, a curious loophole has even been discovered in God’s creation, concerning hierarchy. It’s argued that because He placed humans above “things”—above animals and plants and the ocean—we can, with a clean conscience, let all those things go to hell. (In England, traditional Christian love of the land has been more easily converted into environmental consciousness, notably among the country aristocrats who own so much of it.)

But I don’t think we have made matters of science into questions of belief out of sheer stupidity. Belief usually has an emotional component; it’s desire, disguised. Of course, on the part of our leaders much of the politicization is cynical bad faith, and economically motivated, but down here on the ground, the desire for innocence is what’s driving us. For both “sides” are full of guilt, full of self-disgust—what Martin Amis once called “species shame”—and we project it outward. This is what fuels the petty fury of our debates, even in the midst of crisis.

During Superstorm Sandy, I climbed down fifteen floors, several months pregnant, in the darkness, just so I could get a Wi-Fi signal and e-mail a climate-change-denying acquaintance with this fresh evidence of his idiocy. And it only takes a polar vortex—a pocket of cold air that may lower temperatures—for one’s inbox to fill up with gleeful counternarratives from right-leaning relatives—as if this were all a game, and the only thing hanging in the balance is whether or not you or your crazy uncle in Florida are “alarmists” or “realists.” Meanwhile, in Jamaica, where Sandy first made landfall, the ever more frequent tropical depressions, storms, hurricanes, droughts, and landslides do not fall, for Jamaicans, in the category of ontological argument.

Sing an elegy for the washed away! For the cycles of life, for the saltwater marshes, the houses, the humans—whole islands of humans. Going, going, gone! But not quite yet. The apocalypse is always usefully cast into the future—unless you happen to live in Mauritius, or Jamaica, or the many other perilous spots. According to recent reports, “if emissions of global greenhouse gases remain unchanged,” things could begin to get truly serious around 2050, just in time for the seventh birthday party of my granddaughter. (The grandchildren of the future are frequently evoked in elegies of this kind.) Sometimes the global, repetitive nature of this elegy is so exhaustively sad—and so divorced from any attempts at meaningful action—that you can’t fail to detect in the elegists a fatalist liberal consciousness that has, when you get right down to it, as much of a perverse desire for the apocalypse as the evangelicals we supposedly scorn.

Recently it’s been possible to see both sides leaning in a little closer to hear the optimistic arguments of the technocrats. Some sleight of hand has occurred by which we begin to move from talk of combating and reversing to discussion of carbon capture and storage, and higher sea walls, and generators on the roof, and battening down the hatches. Both sides meet in failure. They say to each other: “Yes, perhaps we should have had the argument differently, some time ago, but now it is too late, now we must work with what we have.”

This will no doubt look very peculiar to my seven-year-old granddaughter. I don’t expect she will forgive me, but it might be useful for her to get a glimpse into the mindset, if only for the purposes of comprehension. What shall I tell her? Her teachers will already have explained that what was happening to the weather, in 2014, was an inconvenient truth, financially, politically—but that’s perfectly obvious, even now. A global movement of the people might have forced it onto the political agenda, no matter the cost. What she will want to know is why this movement took so long to materialize. So I might say to her, look: the thing you have to appreciate is that we’d just been through a century of relativism and deconstruction, in which we were informed that most of our fondest-held principles were either uncertain or simple wishful thinking, and in many areas of our lives we had already been asked to accept that nothing is essential and everything changes—and this had taken the fight out of us somewhat.

And then also it’s important to remember that the necessary conditions of our lives—those things that seem to us unavoidably to be the case—are not only debated by physicists and philosophers but exist, irrationally, in the minds of the rest of us, beneath contempt intellectually, perhaps, but we still experience them as permanent facts. The climate was one of those facts. We did not think it could change. That is, we always knew we could do a great deal of damage to this planet, but even the most hubristic among us had not imagined we would ever be able to fundamentally change its rhythms and character, just as a child who has screamed all day at her father still does not expect to see him lie down on the kitchen floor and weep. Now, do you think that’ll get me off the hook with my (slightly tiresome and judgmental) future granddaughter? I worry.

Oh, what have we done! It’s a biblical question, and we do not seem able to pull ourselves out of its familiar—essentially religious—cycle of shame, denial, and self-flagellation. This is why (I shall tell my granddaughter) the apocalyptic scenarios did not help—the terrible truth is that we had a profound, historical attraction to apocalypse. In the end, the only thing that could create the necessary traction in our minds was the intimate loss of the things we loved. Like when the seasons changed in our beloved little island, or when the lights went out on the fifteenth floor, or the day I went into an Italian garden in early July, with its owner, a woman in her eighties, and upon seeing the scorched yellow earth and withered roses, and hearing what only the really old people will confess—in all my years I’ve never seen anything like it—I found my mind finally beginning to turn from the elegiac what have we done to the practical what can we do?

The Ocean Is Coming (Truthout)

Thursday, 27 February 2014 09:06By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed

Storms.(Photo: Lance Page / Truthout )

It occurs to me that I spend an inordinate amount of time in this space pointing out the ludicrous, the extreme and the absurd in America. Doing so is just slightly less fun than emergency root canal during a national novocaine shortage. To be fair, however, there’s a hell of a lot to talk about in that particular vein, the fodder for these stories are the people running the country, and not nearly enough people in a position to inform the public are talking about it, so I do it.

When a Virginia GOP senator labels all women as incubators – “some refer to them as mothers,” he said – someone needs to shine a light.

When 65 miles of the Mississippi River gets shut down due to a massive oil spill, including the port of New Orleans, when that causes public drinking water intakes to be shuttered, and no bit of it makes the national news, someone needs to say it happened.

When the Tokyo Electric Power Company, a.k.a. Tepco, announces that radiation levels at the disaster zone formerly known as the Fukushima nuclear power plant are being “significantly undercounted,” and nary a word is said about it in the “mainstream” news, someone needs to put the word out.

These serial astonishments make for easy copy, and pointing them out is important for no other reason than they actually and truly fa-chrissakes happened, and people need to know…but merely pointing at absurdity for the sake of exposure changes nothing to the good, and turns politics into just another broadcast of a car chase that ends in a messy wreck.

So.

I believe the minimum wage should be somewhere between $15 and $20 an hour, and that all the so-called business “leaders” crowing against any raise to that wage are self-destructive idiots. Commerce needs funds in the hands of consumers to survive and thrive, and consumers today are barely handling rent. Put more money in the worker’s pocket, and he will spend some of it at your store, because he can. The minimum wage has been stagnant for 30 years, and is due for a right and proper boost. If people don’t have money, your store won’t sell any goods. Get out of your own way and pay your people, so they can have money to spend on what you’re selling. This strikes me as simple arithmetic.

I believe the weather is going crazy because there is an enormous amount of moisture in the atmosphere due to the ongoing collapse of the Arctic ecosystem. More water in the atmosphere leads to fiercer storms and higher tides, and every major city on the coast is under dire threat. The ocean is coming, higher and higher each year, so we can either run for high ground, or we can adjust our behavior. The ocean is coming, and it brooks no argument. It is stronger than all of us, and will take what it pleases.

I believe the Keystone XL pipeline, the drought-causing national practice of fracking, the coal-oriented water disasters in West Virginia and North Carolina, the serial poison spills nationwide, the oil train derailments, and the entire practice of allowing the fossil fuels industry to write its own regulations so as to do as it pleases, are collectively a suicide pact that I did not sign up for. The ocean is coming, unless we find a better way.

I believe President Obama, who talks about the environment while pushing the Keystone pipeline, who talks about economic inequality while demanding fast-track authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, is a Hall-of-Fame worthy bullshit artist. I believe the sooner people see this truth for what it is, the better. He is not your friend. He is selling you out.

I believe the 50% of eligible American voters who can’t be bothered to turn out one Tuesday every two years should be ashamed of themselves, because this is a good country, but if that goodness doesn’t show up at the polls, we wind up in this ditch with a bunch of self-satisfied non-voters complaining about the mess we’re in. Decisions are made by those who show up, and lately, the small minority of hateful nutbags showing up become a large majority because they’re the only ones pulling the lever.

And that’s for openers.

These things are happening nationally, but they are also happening locally, right in your back yard. These are your fights, in your communities, involving your air and drinking water and basic rights. The ocean is coming, boys and girls, and it will sweep us all away with a flick of its finger – rich and poor, powerful and powerless alike – unless we figure out a few home truths at speed and make serial changes to the way we operate on this small planet.

Stand up.

The March of Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (Truthout)

Monday, 24 February 2014 09:11

By Dahr JamailTruthout | News Analysis

The March of Anthropogenic Climate Disruption

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

Last year marked the 37th consecutive year of above-average global temperature, according to data from NASA.

The signs of advanced Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD) are all around us, becoming ever more visible by the day.

At least for those choosing to pay attention.

An Abundance of Signs

While the causes of most of these signs cannot be solely attributed to ACD, the correlation of the increasing intensity and frequency of events to ACD is unmistakable.

Let’s take a closer look at a random sampling of some of the more recent signs.

Sao Paulo, South America’s largest city (over 12 million people), will see its biggest water-supply system run dry soon if there is no rain. Concurry, a town in Australia’s outback, is so dry after two rainless years that their mayor is now looking at permanent evacuation as a final possibility. Record temperatures in Australia have been so intense that in January, around 100,000 bats literally fell from the sky during an extreme heat wave.

A now-chronic drought in California, which is also one of the most important agricultural regions in the United States, has reached a new level of severity never before recorded on the US drought monitor in the state. In an effort to preserve what little water remained, state officials there recently announced they would cut off water that the state provides to local public water agencies that serve 25 million residents and about 750,000 acres of farmland. Another impact of the drought there has 17 communities about to run out of water. Leading scientists have discussed how California’s historic drought has been worsened by ACD, and a recent NASA report on the drought, by some measures the deepest in over a century, adds:

“The entire west coast of the United States is changing color as the deepest drought in more than a century unfolds. According to the US Dept. of Agriculture and NOAA, dry conditions have become extreme across more than 62% of California’s land area – and there is little relief in sight.

“Up and down California, from Oregon to Mexico, it’s dry as a bone,” comments JPL climatologst Bill Patzert. “To make matters worse, the snowpack in the water-storing Sierras is less than 20% of normal for this time of the year.”

“The drought is so bad, NASA satellites can see it from space. On Jan. 18, 2014 – just one day after California governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency – NASA’s Terra satellite snapped a sobering picture of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Where thousands of square miles of white snowpack should have been, there was just bare dirt and rock.”

During a recent interview, a climate change scientist, while discussing ACD-induced drought plaguing the US Southwest, said that he had now become hesitant to use the word drought, because “the word drought implies that there is an ending.”

Meanwhile, New Mexico’s chronic drought is so severe the state’s two largest rivers are now regularly drying up. Summer 2013 saw the Rio Grande drying up only 18 miles south of Albuquerque, with the drying now likely to spread north and into the city itself. By September 2013, nearly half of the entire US was in moderate to extreme drought.

During a recent interview, a climate change scientist, while discussing ACD-induced drought plaguing the US Southwest, said that he had now become hesitant to use the word drought, because “the word drought implies that there is an ending.”

As if things aren’t already severe enough, the new report Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Stress: Water Demand by the Numbers shows that much of the oil and gas fracking activity in both the United States and Canada is happening in “arid, water stressed regions, creating significant long-term water sourcing risks” that will strongly and negatively impact the local ecosystem, communities and people living nearby.

The president of the organization that produced this report said, “Hydraulic fracturing is increasing competitive pressures for water in some of the country’s most water-stressed and drought-ridden regions. Barring stiffer water-use regulations and improved on-the-ground practices, the industry’s water needs in many regions are on a collision course with other water users, especially agriculture and municipal water use.”

Recent data from NASA shows that one billion people around the world now lack access to safe drinking water.  Last year at an international water conference in Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan said: “For us, water is [now] more important than oil.” Experts now warn that the world is “standing on a precipice” when it comes to growing water scarcity.

Looking northward, Alaska, given its Arctic geo-proximity, regularly sees the signs of advanced ACD. According to a recent NASA report on the northernmost US state:

“The last half of January was one of the warmest winter periods in Alaska’s history, with temperatures as much as 40°F (22°C) above normal on some days in the central and western portions of the state, according to Weather Underground’s Christopher Bart. The all-time warmest January temperature ever observed in Alaska was tied on January 27 when the temperature peaked at 62°F (16.7°C) at Port Alsworth. Numerous other locations – including Nome, Denali Park Headquarters, Palmer, Homer, Alyseka, Seward, Talkeetna, and Kotzebue – all set January records. The combination of heat and rain has caused Alaska’s rivers to swell and brighten with sediment, creating satellite views reminiscent of spring and summer runoff.”

Another recent study published in The Cryosphere shows that Alaska’s Arctic icy lakes are losing their thickness and fewer are freezing all the way through to the bottom during winter. This should not come as a surprise, given that the reflective capacity of Arctic sea ice has is disappearing at twice the rate previously shown.

(Photo: Subhankar Banerjee)

Polar bear on Bernard Harbor, along the Beaufort Sea coast, Arctic Alaska, June 2001. (Photo: Subhankar Banerjee)

As aforementioned, science now shows that global temperatures are rising every year. In addition to this overall trend, we are now in the midst of a 28-year streak of summer records above the 20th century average.

In another indicator from the north, a new study by the UC Boulder Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research showed that average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years are higher now than during any century in the past 44,000 years, and indications are that Canadian Arctic temperatures today have not been matched or exceeded for roughly 120,000 years. Research leader Gifford Miller added, “The key piece here is just how unprecedented the warming of Arctic Canada is. This study really says the warming we are seeing is outside any kind of known natural variability, and it has to be due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

As ACD progresses, weather patterns come to resemble a heart-rate chart for a heart in defibrillation. Hence, rather than uniform increases in drought or temperatures, we are experiencing haphazard chaotic extreme weather events all over the planet, and the only pattern we might safely assume to continue is an intensification of these events, in both strength and frequency.

Iran’s Lake Urmia, once the largest lake in the country, has shrunk to less than half its normal size, causing Iran to face a crisis of water supply. The situation is so dire, government officials are making contingency plans to ration water in Tehran, a city of 22 million. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has even named water as a “national security issue,” and when he gives public speeches in areas impacted by water shortages he is now promising residents he will “bring the water back.”

In other parts of the world, while water scarcity is heightening already strained caste tensions in India, the UK is experiencing the opposite problems with water. January rains brought parts of England their wettest January since records began more than 100 years ago. The UK’s Met Office reported before the end of that month that much of southern England and parts of the Midlands had already seen twice the average rainfall for January, and there were still three days left in the month. January flooding across the UK went on to surpass all 247 years of data on the books, spurring the chief scientist at Britain’s Met Office to say that “all the evidence” suggests that the extreme weather in the UK is linked to ACD.

Another part of the world facing a crisis from too much water is Fiji, where residents from a village facing rising sea levels that are flooding their farmlands and seeping into their homes are having to flee. The village is the first to have its people relocated under Fiji’s “climate change refugee” program.

More bad news comes from a recently published study showing that Earth’s vegetation could be saturated with carbon by the end of this century, and would thus cease acting as a break on ACD.

More bad news comes from a recently published study showing that Earth’s vegetation could be saturated with carbon by the end of this century, and would thus cease acting as a break on ACD. However, this study could be an under-estimate of the phenomenon, as it is based on a predicted 4C rise in global temperature by 2100, and other studies and modeling predict a 4C temperature increase far sooner. (The Hadley Centre for Meteorological Researchsuggests a 4C temperature increase by 2060. The Global Carbon Project, which monitors the global carbon cycle, and the Copenhagen Diagnosis, a climate science report, predict 6C and 7C temperature increases, respectively, by 2100. The UN Environment Program predicts up to a 5C increase by 2050.)

Whenever we reach the 4C increase, whether it is by 2050, or sooner, this shall mark the threshold at which terrestrial trees and plants are no longer able to soak up any more carbon from the atmosphere, and we will see an abrupt increase in atmospheric carbon, and an even further acceleration of ACD.

And it’s not just global weather events providing the signs. Other first-time phenomena abound as well.

For the first time, scientists have discovered species of Atlantic Ocean zooplankton reproducing in Arctic waters. German researchers say the discovery indicates a possible shift in the Arctic zooplankton community as the region warms, one that could be detrimental to Arctic birds, fish, and marine mammals.

Another study shows an increase in both the range and risk for malaria due to ACD, and cat parasites have even been found in Beluga whales in the Arctic, in addition to recently published research showing other diseases in seals and other Arctic life.

Distressing signs of ACD’s increasing decimation of life continue unabated. In addition to between 150-200 species going extinct daily, Monarch butterflies are now in danger of disappearing as well. Experts recently reported that the numbers of Monarch butterflies have dropped to their lowest levels since record-keeping began. At their peak, the butterflies covered an area of Mexican pine and fir forests of 44.5 acres. Now, after steep and persistent declines in the last three years, they only cover 1.65 acres. Extreme weather trends, illegal logging, and a dramatic reduction of the butterflies’ habitat are all to blame.

recently published study that spanned 27-years showed that ACD is “killing Argentina’s Magellanic penguin chicks.” Torrential rainstorms and extreme heat are killing the young birds in significant numbers.

Distressingly, the vast majority of these citations and studies are only from the last six weeks.

More Pollution, More Denial

Meanwhile, the polluting continues as global carbon emissions only continue to increase.

Another recent study shows that black carbon emissions in India and China could be two to three times more concentrated than previously estimated. Black carbon is a major element of soot, and comes from the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. The study showed that parts of India and China could have as much as 130 percent higher black carbon concentrations than shown in standard country models.

India is now rated as having some of the worst air quality in the world, and is tied with China for exposing its population to hazardous air pollution.

Meanwhile, Australian government authorities recently approved a project that will dump dredged sediment near the Great Barrier Reef, a so-called World Heritage Site, to create one of the world’s largest coal ports.

Also on the front lines of the coal industry, miners now want to ignite deep coal seams to capture the gases created from the fires to use them for power generation. It’s called underground coal gasification, it is on deck for what comes next after the fracking blitz, and it is a good idea for those wishing to turn Earth into Venus.

Then we have BP’s “Energy Outlook” for the future, an annual report where the oil giant plots trends in global energy production and consumption. With this, we can expect nothing less than full steam ahead when it comes to vomiting as much carbon into the atmosphere in as short a time as possible.

BP CEO Bob Dudley announced at a January press conference that his company’s Outlook sees carbon emissions projected to rise “29% by 2035.”

Speaking of BP, the corporate-driven government of the United States continues to serve its masters well.

The US State Department recently released its environmental impact statement that found “no major climate impact” from a continuation in the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, a pipeline that will transport tar sands oil – the dirtiest fossil fuel on Earth, produced by the most environmentally destructive fossil fuel extraction process ever known.

US President Barack Obama claims he has yet to make a decision on the pipeline, but we can guess what his decision shall be.

In late January, the US House Energy and Commerce Committee voted down an amendment that would have stated conclusively that ACD is occurring, despite recent evidence that ACD has literally shifted the jet stream, the main system that helps determine all of the weather in North America and Northern Europe. The 24 members of the committee who voted down the amendment, all of them Republicans and more overtly honest about who they are working for than is Obama, have accepted approximately $9.3 million in career contributions from the oil, gas, and coal industries.

Systemic problems require systemic solutions, and thinking the radical change necessary to preserve what life remains on the planet is possible without the complete removal of the system that is killing us, is futile.

The fact that the planet is most likely long past having gone over the cliff when it comes to passing the point of no returnregarding ACD is a fact most people prefer not to contemplate.

And who can blame them? The relentless onslaught of distress signals from the planet, coupled with the fact that the governments of the countries generating the most emissions are those marching lock-step with the fossil fuel industries are daunting, to say the least.

Oil, gas, and coal are the fuels the capitalist system uses to generate the all-important next quarterly profit on the road toward infinite growth, as required by the capitalist system.

Systemic problems require systemic solutions, and thinking the radical change necessary to preserve what life remains on the planet is possible without the complete removal of the system that is killing us, is futile.

Half measures, as we have seen all too often, avail us nothing.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Better way to make sense of ‘Big Data?’ (Science Daily)

Date:  February 19, 2014

Source: Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

Summary: Vast amounts of data related to climate change are being compiled by researchers worldwide with varying climate projections. This requires combining information across data sets to arrive at a consensus regarding future climate estimates. Scientists propose a statistical hierarchical Bayesian model that consolidates climate change information from observation-based data sets and climate models.

Regional analysis for climate change assessment. Credit: Melissa Bukovsky, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR/IMAGe)

Vast amounts of data related to climate change are being compiled by research groups all over the world. Data from these many and varied sources results in different climate projections; hence, the need arises to combine information across data sets to arrive at a consensus regarding future climate estimates.

In a paper published last December in the SIAM Journal on Uncertainty Quantification, authors Matthew Heaton, Tamara Greasby, and Stephan Sain propose a statistical hierarchical Bayesian model that consolidates climate change information from observation-based data sets and climate models. “The vast array of climate data — from reconstructions of historic temperatures and modern observational temperature measurements to climate model projections of future climate — seems to agree that global temperatures are changing,” says author Matthew Heaton. “Where these data sources disagree, however, is by how much temperatures have changed and are expected to change in the future. Our research seeks to combine many different sources of climate data, in a statistically rigorous way, to determine a consensus on how much temperatures are changing.” Using a hierarchical model, the authors combine information from these various sources to obtain an ensemble estimate of current and future climate along with an associated measure of uncertainty. “Each climate data source provides us with an estimate of how much temperatures are changing. But, each data source also has a degree of uncertainty in its climate projection,” says Heaton. “Statistical modeling is a tool to not only get a consensus estimate of temperature change but also an estimate of our uncertainty about this temperature change.” The approach proposed in the paper combines information from observation-based data, general circulation models (GCMs) and regional climate models (RCMs). Observation-based data sets, which focus mainly on local and regional climate, are obtained by taking raw climate measurements from weather stations and applying it to a grid defined over the globe. This allows the final data product to provide an aggregate measure of climate rather than be restricted to individual weather data sets. Such data sets are restricted to current and historical time periods. Another source of information related to observation-based data sets are reanalysis data sets in which numerical model forecasts and weather station observations are combined into a single gridded reconstruction of climate over the globe. GCMs are computer models which capture physical processes governing the atmosphere and oceans to simulate the response of temperature, precipitation, and other meteorological variables in different scenarios. While a GCM portrayal of temperature would not be accurate to a given day, these models give fairly good estimates for long-term average temperatures, such as 30-year periods, which closely match observed data. A big advantage of GCMs over observed and reanalyzed data is that GCMs are able to simulate climate systems in the future. RCMs are used to simulate climate over a specific region, as opposed to global simulations created by GCMs. Since climate in a specific region is affected by the rest of Earth, atmospheric conditions such as temperature and moisture at the region’s boundary are estimated by using other sources such as GCMs or reanalysis data. By combining information from multiple observation-based data sets, GCMs and RCMs, the model obtains an estimate and measure of uncertainty for the average temperature, temporal trend, as well as the variability of seasonal average temperatures. The model was used to analyze average summer and winter temperatures for the Pacific Southwest, Prairie and North Atlantic regions (seen in the image above) — regions that represent three distinct climates. The assumption would be that climate models would behave differently for each of these regions. Data from each region was considered individually so that the model could be fit to each region separately. “Our understanding of how much temperatures are changing is reflected in all the data available to us,” says Heaton. “For example, one data source might suggest that temperatures are increasing by 2 degrees Celsius while another source suggests temperatures are increasing by 4 degrees. So, do we believe a 2-degree increase or a 4-degree increase? The answer is probably ‘neither’ because combining data sources together suggests that increases would likely be somewhere between 2 and 4 degrees. The point is that that no single data source has all the answers. And, only by combining many different sources of climate data are we really able to quantify how much we think temperatures are changing.” While most previous such work focuses on mean or average values, the authors in this paper acknowledge that climate in the broader sense encompasses variations between years, trends, averages and extreme events. Hence the hierarchical Bayesian model used here simultaneously considers the average, linear trend and interannual variability (variation between years). Many previous models also assume independence between climate models, whereas this paper accounts for commonalities shared by various models — such as physical equations or fluid dynamics — and correlates between data sets. “While our work is a good first step in combining many different sources of climate information, we still fall short in that we still leave out many viable sources of climate information,” says Heaton. “Furthermore, our work focuses on increases/decreases in temperatures, but similar analyses are needed to estimate consensus changes in other meteorological variables such as precipitation. Finally, we hope to expand our analysis from regional temperatures (say, over just a portion of the U.S.) to global temperatures.”
 
Journal Reference:

  1. Matthew J. Heaton, Tamara A. Greasby, Stephan R. Sain. Modeling Uncertainty in Climate Using Ensembles of Regional and Global Climate Models and Multiple Observation-Based Data SetsSIAM/ASA Journal on Uncertainty Quantification, 2013; 1 (1): 535 DOI: 10.1137/12088505X

Transposição do Rio São Francisco: via de mão única (Agência Pública)

07/2/2014 – 12h13

por Marcia Dementshuk, para a Agência Pública

sertanejos Transposição do Rio São Francisco: via de mão única

Sertanejos convivem com a obra há quase sete anos sem soluções para as consequências da seca. Foto: Mano Carvalho

Na primeira matéria do projeto Reportagem Pública, a repórter viaja ao Eixo Leste – e mostra como a população está sendo afetada pelas obras

“Sem dúvida, com a transposição do rio São Francisco será oferecida segurança hídrica para o Nordeste”, garantiu o diretor-presidente da Agência Nacional das Águas (ANA), Vicente Andreu Guillo, durante nossa entrevista. A aposta do governo federal é alta: o orçamento atual da transposição é de R$ 8.158.024.630,97 (o dobro do previsto inicialmente), financiados pelo Programa de Aceleração ao Crescimento (PAC I e II). Trata-se do maior empreendimento de infraestrutura hídrica já construído no Brasil, que mudará para sempre a cara da região.

Menos de 5% das reservas hídricas do país estão no Nordeste do país, que detém entre 12% e 16% das reservas de água doce no planeta. O clima semiárido, seco, quente e com poucas chuvas domina o sertão, território com mais de 22,5 milhões de habitantes (Censo IBGE/2010).

Neste cenário, a notícia de que seria possível transportar a água do Rio São Francisco para regiões mais secas transformou-se em esperança para os nordestinos de todas as épocas. Fala-se nessa obra desde os tempos do Império, quando, em 1877, o intendente do Crato, no Ceará, apresentou para dom Pedro II um projeto que levaria águas do Rio São Francisco até o rio Jaguaribe, no seu estado.

A obra foi iniciada 130 anos depois, durante o governo de Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, com base no projeto elaborado no governo de Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Depois do investimento inicial, de cerca de R$ 4 bilhões, o rendimento dos trabalhos diminuiu em 2010 por problemas de adequação do Projeto-Base à realidade da execução , e novas licitações precisaram ser feitas. Somente no final de 2013, conforme o Ministério da Integração Nacional, responsável pelo projeto, as obras foram 100% retomadas.

Hoje, o empreendimento aponta 51% de avanço, e o orçamento dobrou. A nova previsão para a conclusão é em dezembro de 2015, quando as águas deverão alcançar afinal o leito do rio Paraíba, no Eixo Leste, e o reservatório Engenheiro Ávidos, pelo Eixo Norte, ambos na Paraíba.

Ali do lado, falta água

O projeto prevê que as águas captadas do Rio São Francisco em dois canais de aproximação (no Eixo Norte, em Cabrobó e no Eixo Leste, no reservatório de Itaparica, em Floresta,ambos em Pernambuco) serão conduzidas pelos canais até os reservatórios, de onde abastecerão dezenas de municípios dos estados de Pernambuco, Paraíba, Ceará e Rio Grande do Norte, aproveitando a rede de saneamento existente. Projetos referentes a tomadas para uso difuso (pontos de tomada de água captadas ao longo dos canais para abastecer as comunidades instaladas nas proximidades) ainda estão em fase de elaboração. O Ministério da Integração ainda não definiu que pontos serão esses, nem os locais exatos de captação. Da mesma forma, os valores finais do custo desta água para a população ainda estão em estudo por parte do governo federal.

A realidade, porém, é que há mais de dois anos, muitos moradores dos municípios do semiárido nem sequer têm água nas torneiras; usam a água distribuída por caminhões-pipa, de poços particulares ou públicos (a maioria com água salobra) ou da chuva (quando chove).

Manoel Transposição do Rio São Francisco: via de mão única

Em Caiçara, distrito de Custódia, Maria Célia Rodrigues da Silva disse que falta água nas torneiras desde o início das obras do PISF. Foto: Mano Carvalho

Em Caiçara, distrito de Custódia, Pernambuco, próximo ao Lote 10, que corresponde a atual Meta 2L, da construção (veja o mapa), a população toma a água enviada pelo Exército, em caminhões-pipa, uma vez por semana. Toda semana é a mesma cena: a água é despejada em uma cisterna central, e cada morador tem que ir buscar – há carroceiros que cobram em torno de R$ 5,00 ou R$ 7,00 por viagem.

O riacho Custódia passa próximo da casa de Manoel Rodrigues de Melo, agricultor de 52 anos, mas o fio de água que resta é salobra, e só serve para lavar a casa ou os estábulos. “A água boa vem de Fátima, a uns 40 quilômetros daqui. O que a gente mais precisa aqui é água, que não tem”, suplica o agricultor. Nessas condições, ele e a esposas criaram oito filhos. Todos partiram em busca de melhores condições de vida. “É muito filho, até parece mentira! Mas antigamente os invernos eram melhores, chovia mais”.

Manoel Rodrigues de Melo, que nunca saiu da região onde nasceu, viu seu terreno ser dividido pelo canal do Eixo Leste: ficou com seis quilômetros de um lado do canal e com a mesma medida do outro. Dono de um sotaque sertanejo carregado, com poucos dentes na boca, as mãos calejadas e a pele castigada pelo sol, Manoel conta que agora os bichos têm de usar a ponte sobre o canal para passar. “Senão, eles ficam ou do lado de cá, ou do lado de lá, ou tem que fazer um volta tremenda lá por baixo, onde tem um lugar pra passar. Mas o que mais a gente espera é essa água que ‘tá’ pra vir. Isso vai mudar a nossa vida aqui. Vai ser muito bom”, diz o agricultor, ansioso.

“A gente tinha água pela torneira, era ruim, mas dava pra limpeza. Mas desde que começou essa construção (referindo-se à transposição) ela foi cortada”, lembra-se a vizinha de Manoel, a dona de casa Maria Célia Rodrigues da Silva, que cuida da mãe doente, com 82 anos. “Nem as cisternas não enchem. Estamos com dois anos de seca”, completou. A água encanada provinha de um poço escavado em outro vilarejo próximo de Caiçara, Fiúza, mas ela não sabe dizer se foi cortada em função das obras da transposição, ou se o poço secou. Mesmo com o encanamento de sua casa enferrujado e sem saber se terá água para beber no dia seguinte, a vida de Maria Célia continua. Ela não teve filhos. Cria alguns bodes, cabras e galinhas no quintal da casa e conta com o dinheiro da aposentadoria de sua mãe para o sustento das duas. Trabalhava na roça, mas nada mais resistiu à seca de dois anos.

Tradicional como a seca, o pífano de Zabé

Zabe Transposição do Rio São Francisco: via de mão única

Zabé da Loca. Foto: Mano de Carvalho

A tocadora de pífano Zabé da Loca nos recebeu às vésperas de completar 90 anos. Quando tinha 79 anos, 25 dos quais passados em uma gruta, na Serra do Tungão, próximo a Monteiro (PB), Zabé se tornou conhecida no mercado de música regional. Chegou a dividir o palco com músicos como Hermeto Pascoal e Gabriel Pensador em shows no Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Recife, Paraíba e Brasília.

Típica sertaneja, que jamais conheceu o conforto de abrir uma torneira de onde corresse água em abundância, Zabé teve 14 irmãos, oito dos quais morreram por doenças originadas pela falta de água e desnutrição. Fumante inveterada, persistiu no hábito mesmo depois do tratamento de combate a um enfisema pulmonar e à pneumonia e não deixou de enrolar um cigarrinho durante a visita, enquanto lembrava: “Nessa serra sempre teve água da chuva que empoçava nas pedras. Mas tinha anos que não encontrávamos água em canto nenhum. A gente tinha que ir até o rio (afluente do rio Paraíba, próximo da nascente) pegar”.

Quando comentamos sobre a transposição do rio São Francisco ela reagiu: “esse negócio existe mesmo?”

Para o ex-presidente da Associação Brasileira de Recursos Hídricos, Luiz Gabriel Azevedo, o custo de operação da água da transposição é elevado e requer investimentos vultosos, quando comparado a outras alternativas. “Parte do pacto, quando se pensou esse projeto, é de que os estados fariam um trabalho forte de racionalizar o uso dentro de seus territórios, de melhorar o sistema de gestão; e os estados estão aquém dessa expectativa”, analisa. Ele alega que os estados deveriam investir mais em obras que garantissem os recursos hídricos, como manutenção e construção de açudes, estudos para perfurações de poços e principalmente em obras de saneamento e rede de distribuição de água.

“Não valerá à pena trazer uma água cara para se desperdiçar do outro lado. Não dá para executar um projeto complexo se os recursos dos açudes não forem bem usados, se não houver um sistema de distribuição, se não se tem um sistema de gestão eficiente nos estados que vão receber para gerir a água”, complementou Luiz Gabriel Azevedo.

Por Lei, o órgão competente que determinará como a água será distribuída é o Conselho Gestor do Projeto de Integração do Rio São Francisco, instituído pelo Decreto 5.995/2006. Esse Conselho é formado por representantes dos estados beneficiados com o empreendimento – Paraíba, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte e Ceará – e tem por objetivo, entre outros, tratar da alocação das águas e dos rateios dos custos correspondentes.

moradores Transposição do Rio São Francisco: via de mão única

Desalentados pela seca, moradores de cidades do Sertão nordestino aguardam a chegada das águas da transposição. Foto: Mano Carvalho

Para o diretor-presidente da Agência Nacional das Águas (ANA) destaca que o Nordeste ainda carece de um conjunto de soluções hídricas, como aproveitamento máximo da escassa água da chuva, o controle do uso das águas dos reservatórios ou a transposição de águas de outras bacias hidrográficas, já que a escavação de poços do semiárido é considerada inviável. De acordo com o relatório de impacto Ambiental do PISF, (RIMA), “a maioria do território semiárido (70% da região) dispõe de pouca água subterrânea e possui solo impermeável, ou seja, absorve pouca água, limitando sua capacidade de disponibilidade. Além desse aspecto, a água, em geral, é de baixa qualidade”.

Realocação de moradores e uma vila partida ao meio

Cerca de 800 famílias foram deslocadas e receberam indenizações entre cerca de R$ 10 mil a R$ 15 mil para dar passagem às obras da transposição – de acordo com a gerência de Comunicação da CMT Engenharia, empresa responsável pelo acompanhamento das ações de compensação socioambiental do PISF – ao longo dos eixos Norte e Leste, em Pernambuco e no Ceará. De acordo com o supervisor de obras da empresa Ecoplan, Adilson Leal, porém, as terras não entraram na avaliação das propriedades a serem indenizadas por possuírem baixo valor de mercado, segundo a empresa, em função da pouca qualidade da terra para o plantio ou para o pasto, em uma região onde a chuva é escassa. Só as benfeitorias foram ressarcidas.

abastecimento Transposição do Rio São Francisco: via de mão única

Abastecimento de água potável para a população em Rio da Barra (PE), por onde passam os canais da transposição, ocorre duas vezes por semana. Foto: Mano de Carvalho

Em Rio da Barra, distrito de Sertânia, em Pernambuco, comunidade que beira o canal na altura do Lote 11, que corresponde à Meta 2L, (veja o mapa), a população se encontra duas vezes por semana na cisterna pública para se abastecer de água potável proveniente de um poço artesiano cavado pela Superintendência do Desenvolvimento do Nordeste (Sudene). Um funcionário da prefeitura de Sertânia controla o abastecimento gratuito dos galões trazidos pela população na noite anterior. O local acaba se tornando o ponto de encontro do povoado. Mães carregando baldões chegam com as crianças arrastando baldes menores, carroças carregadas de galões estacionam ao lado e todos aguardam com paciência pelo precioso líquido. Maria José Araújo Pinheiro, uma dona de casa tímida, mas de olhos atentos, aguardava sua vez quando comentou que sua mãe, Creusa Davi da Silva, aceitou a oferta do governo para desocupar suas terras no sítio Chique-Chique. “Eles ofereceram pra ela R$ 14.400, ela pegou e foi morar em Sertânia. Como ela ganha aposentadoria, está bem. Mas pagaram só pela casa”, disse Maria José.

Marcia Transposição do Rio São Francisco: via de mão única

O marido de Márcia Freire, Adilson Salvador, de Rio da Barra (PE,) é técnico ambiental nas obras da transposição. Foto: Mano de Carvalho

Márcia Maria Freire Araújo vem do outro lado do canal do Eixo Leste da transposição pegar água na cisterna pública de Rio da Barra. Ela chega sempre antes das seis da manhã, na companhia do cunhado que conduz uma carroça puxada a burro onde transportam os galões de água. Andam cerca de dois quilômetros, atravessam o canal por uma ponte provisória e os depositam em uma fila de recipientes que começou a ser formar no dia anterior. Sua família mora em outra propriedade pequena, que teve uma parte indenizada pelo Ministério da Integração Nacional. “Eu não acho que é justo perder um pedaço de terra, mas se é para fazer o bem pra tanta gente, então aceitamos”, conforma-se. Ela vê o lado bom: seu marido, Adilson Salvador, é empregado na construtora SA Paulista como técnico ambiental na transposição. “Ele conseguiu emprego desde o início da obra, primeiro por outra empresa, e agora pela Paulista”, orgulha-se Márcia Maria.

Em outra localidade, na zona rural de Sertânia, os moradores do Sítio Brabo Novo ficaram divididos pelo canal. Pelo menos treze famílias preferiram a remoção para terras acima do reservatório Barro Branco, ainda em fase de retirada da vegetação. Um número bem maior de famílias permaneceu do outro lado do reservatório.

Maria da Conceição Siqueira, viúva, de 51 anos, e seu filho, de 18 anos, deixarão a antiga moradia para trás e irão para Sertânia. “Já recebi R$ 7.500,00 por aquela casinha ali”, diz, apontando para uma casa que ficará submersa pelo reservatório, “e ganhei essa casa aqui. Mas vamos fechá-la e ir embora”. “Fiquei com um pedaço de terra muito pequeno, (cerca de 50m²) não dá pra nada. Meu filho está em tratamento, ele teve um derrame no cérebro e é melhor a gente ficar lá”, diz.

Lucineia Transposição do Rio São Francisco: via de mão única

Lucinéia ferreira Florêncio não acredita em distribuição justa das águas da transposição. Foto: Mano de Carvalho

A família das irmãs Lucicléia e Lucinéia Ferreira Florêncio, vizinhas de Maria da Conceição, tomou uma decisão diferente. “Nossa primeira casa era onde agora vai ser o reservatório, e já foi indenizada em 2007. Mas esse reservatório ocupou quase a metade do nosso terreno. Como ainda sobraram terras desse outro lado e esta é uma área liberada, decidimos construir aqui, com o dinheiro da indenização”, contou Lucinéia. Ela não soube informar o tamanho do sítio, mas a nova casa é grande. No terreno persiste uma plantação de palmas (um tipo de cactos que serve para alimentar os animais) e algumas árvores frutíferas. O resto foi perdido: abacaxi, macaxeira, milho, feijão… A irmã, Luciclélia, casou-se e construiu uma casa menor ao lado, onde vive com o marido e uma bebê de nove meses.

Lucinéia, professora, duvida que no futuro haja uma distribuição justa das águas da transposição. “Tem os pontos positivos, mas acho que vão ter os negativos também. Eu penso que com essa água toda vão começar a fazer mais obras por aqui e eu não sei se toda a comunidade vai ter acesso a essa água quando quiser. O pequeno produtor nunca é beneficiado como os grandes proprietários, nunca tem igualdade. E acho que o crescimento vai ser desordenado. A comunidade já tem uma associação de moradores, mas ainda não sabe como abordar esse assunto”, lamentou Lucinéia, dizendo que não há orientação nenhuma dos governos sobre isso.

sitio Transposição do Rio São Francisco: via de mão única

O Sítio Passagem da Pedra, em Sertânia, dividido para a construção do túnel; zeladores recuam cerca que delimita área da propriedade. Foto: Mano de Carvalho

Na área onde será construído o túnel entre Sertânia e Monteiro, no Lote 12, atual Meta 3L (veja mapa), a retomada das obras em dezembro significou a perda de mais 100 metros de terreno pelos agricultores, além dos 100 metros que já tinham recuado. “Fazer o quê? Os donos já receberam a indenização e agora que vieram construir pediram mais esse pedaço de terra”, explicam Lenilton Cordeiro dos Santos e Quitéria Araújo da Silva, zeladores do sítio Passagem da Pedra, cortado tanto pelo canal da transposição quanto pelo túnel.

Ailton Transposição do Rio São Francisco: via de mão única

“Ninguém sabe”, afirmou o capataz Aílton Ferreira falando sobre a data que deverá chegar as águas da transposição no túnel na divisa entre Pernambuco e Paraíba. Foto: Mano de Carvalho

No sítio ao lado, Aílton Ferreira de Oliveira cuida do terreno da sogra, que também foi reduzido. “Agora, o gado que sobrou, cinco cabeças, está no curral e come mandacaru, pois não tem mais o que comer por causa da seca, e o terreno ficou pequeno pro pasto”.

“E essa água, quando chega?”, interrompe o capataz do sítio, que prossegue, num monólogo: “Ninguém sabe…”.

Leia também as outras quatro reportagens da série e ainda um relato da repórter Márcia Dementshuk, onde ela conta os bastidores da reportagem.

Uma viagem ao canteiro de obras

Na Contramão da Transposição

O povo contra os areeiros

Leia os bastidores da reportagem

A Transposição, um projeto dos tempos do Império

* Publicado originalmente no site Agência Pública.

Up the Financier: Studying the California Carbon Market (AAA, Anthropology and Environment Society Blog)

Posted on January 26, 2014

ENGAGEMENT co-editor Chris Hebdon catches up with University of Kentucky geographer Patrick Bigger.

Patrick Bigger at the Chicago Board of Trade

Patrick Bigger at the Chicago Board of Trade

How would you explain your dissertation research on the California carbon market?

At the broadest level, my research is about understanding how a brand new commodity market tied to environmental improvement is brought into the world, and then how it functions once it is in existence. Taking as a starting point Polanyi’s (1944) observation that markets are inherently social institutions, my work sorts though the social, geographical, and ideological relationships that are being mobilized in California and brought from across the world to build the world’s second largest carbon market. And those constitutive processes and practices are no small undertaking.

Making a multi-billion dollar market from scratch is a process that entails the recruitment and hiring of a small army of bureaucrats and lawyers, the creation of new trading and technology firms, the involvement of offset developers and exchange operators who had been active in other environmental commodities markets, and learning from more than fifty years of environmental economics and the intellectual work of think tanks and NGOs. There are literally tens of thousands of hours of people’s time embodied in the rule-making process, which result in texts (in the form of regulatory documents) that profoundly influence how California’s economy is performed every day. These performances range from rice farmers considering how much acreage to sow in the Sacramento Delta to former Enron power traders building new trading strategies based on intertemporal price differences of carbon futures for different compliance periods in California’s carbon market.

My work uses ethnographic methods such as participant-observation in public rule-making workshops and semi-structured interviews with regulators, industry groups, polluters, NGOs, and academics to try to recreate the key socio-geographical relationships that have had the most impact on market design and function. It’s about how regulatory and financial performances are intertwined, as events in the market (and in other financial markets, most notably the deregulated electric power market in California) are brought back to bear on rule-making, and then how rule-making impacts how the market and the associated regulated industrial processes are enacted. And the key thing is that there isn’t some isolated cabal of carbon’s ‘masters of the universe’ pulling the strings––it’s bureaucrats in cubicles, academics writing books, and offset developers planting trees out there making a market. And they’re people you can go observe and talk with.


Who are buying and selling these carbon credits?

That’s a trickier question than it seems. Most of the credits (aka allowances) are effectively created out of thin air by the California Air Resources board which then distributes them via either free allocation or by auction to anyone who requests authorization to bid. A significant proportion of those are given away directly to regulated industries to ease their transition to paying for their carbon output. Another way the auction works is that electric utilities are given almost all the credits they need to fulfill their obligation, but they are required to sell (consign) those permits in the auction, while they are typically also buyers. This is to prevent windfall profits, like what happened in the EU, for the electric utilities. The utilities must return the value of what they make selling their permits at auction to ratepayers, which they have done to the tune of $1.5 billion so far.

More to the spirit of the question though, it’s a pretty big world. Literally anyone can buy California Carbon on the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), based in Chicago. From what I’ve been told, a lot of allowances pass through Houston because there is a major agglomeration of energy traders there, and carbon is often bundled into transactions like power purchase agreements that are traded over-the-counter (OTC). There’s an interesting division in who buys their credits where––companies that must comply with climate regulations tend to buy through the auction, while people trading for presumably speculative purposes tend to buy on the exchange. This isn’t even getting into who produces, sells, and buys carbon offsets, which is another market entirely unto itself. To attempt to be succinct, I’d say there is a ‘carbon industry’ in the same sense that Leigh Johnson (2010) talks about a ‘risk industry’; a constellation of brokers, lawyers, traders, insurers, and industrial concerns, and the size of these institutional actors range from highly specialized carbon traders to the commodities desk at transnational investment banks.


Would you be able to outline some ways your research could affect public policy? And how is it in dialogue with environmental justice literature and engaged scholarship?

There are a number of ways that my work could be taken up by policy makers, though to be clear I did not set out to write a dissertation that would become a how-to-build-a-carbon-market manual. Just being around regulators and market interlocutors has provided insights into the most challenging aspects to market creation and maintenance, like what sorts of expertise a bureaucracy needs, how regulators can encourage public participation in seemingly esoteric matters, or the order which regulator decisions need to be made. Beyond the nuts-and-bolts, there’s a fairly substantial literature on ‘fast policy transfer’ in geography that critiques the ways certain kinds of policy become wildly popular and are then plopped down anywhere regardless of geographical and political-economic context; I am interested in contributing to that literature because California’s carbon market was specifically designed to ‘travel’ through linkages with other sub-national carbon markets. I would also note that there are aspects of what I’m thinking about that problematize the entire concept of the marketization of nature in ways that would also be applicable to the broader ecosystem service literature and the NGOs and regulators who are trying to push back against that paradigm.

As far as the EJ literature is concerned, I’ll admit to having a somewhat fraught relationship. I set out to do a project on the economic geography of environmental finance, not to explicitly document the kinds injustices that environmental finance has, or has the potential, to produce. As a result some critics have accused me of being insufficiently justice-y. I’d respond by noting that my work is normative, even if it isn’t framed in the language of environmental justice; it certainly isn’t Kuhnian normal science. But EJ arguments, if they are any good, do depend on empirical grounding and I would hope that my work provides that.

At the Chicago Board of Trade.

“I’d be really happy if scholars of other markets could find parallels to my work that demonstrated that all markets, not just environmental ones, were as much about the state as they are about finance.”

Your advisor Morgan Robertson has written about “oppositional research,” and research “behind enemy lines,” drawing on his experience working inside the Environmental Protection Agency. What has oppositional research meant for you?

I think about it as using ethnographic methods to poke and prod at the logics and practices that go into building a carbon market. I think for Morgan it was more about the specific problems and opportunities of being fully embedded in an institution whose policies you want to challenge. That position of being fully ‘inside’ isn’t where I’m at right now, and it’s a difficult position to get into either because you just don’t have access, because the researcher doesn’t want to or isn’t comfortable becoming a full-fledged insider, or because academics often just don’t have time to do that sort research. It’s also contingent on what sort of conversational ethnographic tact you want to take––when you’re fully embedded you lose the option of performing the research space as a neophyte, which can be a very productive strategy. One thing that I will mention is that oppositional research is based on trust. You must have established some rapport with your research participants before you challenge them head-on, or they may just walk away and then you’ve done nothing to challenge their practices or world view, you’ve potentially sewn ill will with future research participants, and you won’t get any of the interesting information that you might have otherwise.


How about the method of “studying up”?

For starters, the logistics of ‘studying up’ (Nader 1969) are substantially different than other kinds of fieldwork. There’s lots of downtime (unless you’re in a situation where you’ve got 100% access to whatever you’re studying, e.g.  having a job as a banker or regulator) because there aren’t hearings or rule-making workshops everyday, or even every week, and the people making the market are busy white-collar people with schedules. I feel like I’ve had a really productive week if I can get 3 interviews done.

Beyond the logistics, one of the most challenging parts of studying a regulatory or financial process you’re not fully onboard with is walking the line between asking tough questions of your research participants and yet not alienating them. It has been easy for me to go in the other direction as well––even though I think carbon markets are deeply problematic and emblematic of really pernicious global trends toward the marketization of everything, I really like most of my research participants. They’re giving me their time, they tell me fascinating stories, and they’ve really bent over backward to help me connect with other people or institutions it never would have occurred to me to investigate. And that can make it tough to want to challenge them during interviews. After a while, it’s also possible to start feeling you’re on the inside of the process, at least as far as sharing a language and being part of a very small community. There aren’t many people in the world that I can have a coffee with and make jokes about one company’s consistently bizarre font choices in public comments documents. So even though the market feels almost overwhelmingly big in one sense, it’s also very intimate in another. I’m still working out how to write a trenchant political-economic critique with a much more sympathetic account of regulatory/market performance. Even many guys in the oil-refining sector are deeply concerned about climate change.


Would you ever take a job in a carbon trading firm?

Absolutely. There’s a rich literature developing that gets into the nuts and bolts of many aspects of finance, including carbon trading in the social studies of finance/cultural economics that overlaps with scholarship in critical accounting and even work coming out of some business schools. Some of those folks, like Ekaterina Svetlova (see especially 2012), have worked or done extended participant observation in the financial institutions that are being unpacked in broader literatures around performative economics and have provided useful critiques or correctives that is helping this literature to mature.

However, much of this work is subject to the same pitfalls as other work in the social studies of finance, especially the sense that scholars ‘fall in love’ with the complexity of their research topic and the ingenuity of their research participants qua coworkers and ultimately fail to link them back to meaningful critiques of the broader world. All that said, I’m not sure I’ve got the chops to work in finance. I’d be more interested in, and comfortable with, working in the environmental and economic governance realm where I could see, on a daily basis, how the logics of traders meet the logics of regulation and science.


What advice would you give to scholars who may do research on carbon markets in the future?

Get familiar with the language and logics of neoclassical economics. Really familiar. Take some classes. If you’re studying neoliberal environmental policy, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that regulation is shot through with the logics of market triumphalism at a level that just reading David Harvey (2003, 2005) probably wouldn’t prepare you for. A little engineering, or at least familiarity with engineers, wouldn’t be amiss either.

On a really pragmatic level, if you can get access, get familiar with being in an office setting if you haven’t spent much time in one. Being in a new kind of space can be really stressful and if you’re not comfortable in your surroundings you might not be getting the most out of your interviews.

If you’re studying a carbon market specifically, take the time to understand how the electricity grid works. I lost a lot of time sitting through workshops that were well over my head dealing with how the electric power industry would count its carbon emissions. I would have gotten much more out of them if I’d had even a cursory understanding of how the electricity gets from the out-of-state coal-fired power plant to my toaster.

Don’t expect to just pop in-and-out of fieldwork. Make yourself at home. Take some time to figure out what the points of tension are. That’s not to say you must do an ‘E’thnography, but taking the time at the beginning to understand the playing field will make it easier to understand the maneuvering later.

Read the specialist and general press every single day. Set up some news aggregator service to whatever market or regulation you’re looking at. It’s what your participants will be reading, and if they aren’t then you’ll really look like you know what you’re doing.


What are broad implications of your research?

I think starting to come to grips on the creation, from nothing, of a commodity market worth more than a billion dollars could have all sorts of impacts I can’t even imagine. I’d be really happy if scholars of other markets could find parallels to my work that demonstrated that all markets, not just environmental ones, were as much about the state as they are about finance, and not just in the way that Polanyi wrote about them. I’d also like to help people think through the relationship between the economic structures that people build, and then how they inhabit them through economic ideology, the performance of that ideology and their modern representation, the economic model. In some ways this is reopening the structure-agency debates that have been simmering for a long time. I also want to provide more grist for the mill in terms of unpacking variegated neoliberalisms––there are quite a few examples I’ve run across in my work where discourses about the efficiencies of markets run up against either therealpolitik of institutional inertia or perceived risks to the broader economy (which can be read as social reproduction).

In terms of policy, I hope that regulatory readers of my work will think about the relative return on investment (if I can appropriate a financial concept) in deploying market-based environmental policy as opposed to direct regulation, particularly around climate change. We’re in a situation that demands urgency to curb the worst impacts of carbon pollution, so it is of the utmost importance that the state take dramatic action, and soon. That said, wouldn’t it be interesting if this carbon market ended up accomplishing its goals? If it does, then I hope my work would take on different kinds of significance.

* * *

Harvey, David. 2003. The New Imperialism. New York: Oxford University Press.

Harvey, David. 2005. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. New York: Oxford University Press.

Johnson, Leigh. 2010. Climate Change and the Risk Industry: The Multiplication of Fear and Value. Richard Peet, Paul Robbins and Michael Watts, eds. Global Political Ecology. London: Routledge.

Nader, Laura. 1969. Up the Anthropologist: Perspectives Gained from Studying Up. Dell Hymes, ed. Reinventing Anthropology. New York: Random House.

Polanyi, Karl. 1944. The Great Transformation. Boston: Beacon.

Svetlova, Ekaterina. 2012. On the Performative Power of Financial Models. Economy and Society 41(3): 418-434.

Climate Change Research Is Globally Skewed (Science Daily)

Jan. 22, 2014 — The supply of climate change knowledge is biased towards richer countries — those that pollute the most and are least vulnerable to climate change — and skewed away from the poorer, fragile and more vulnerable regions of the world. That creates a global imbalance between the countries in need of knowledge and those that build it. This could have implications for the quality of the political decisions countries and regions make to prevent and adapt to climate change, warn the researchers behind the study from the University of Copenhagen.

Climate change research, shown here by number of publications, primarily concerns countries that are less vulnerable to climate change and have a higher emission of CO2. The countries are also politically stable, less corrupt, and have a higher investment in education and research. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Copenhagen)

“80 % of all the climate articles we examined were published by researchers from developed countries, although these countries only account for 18 % of the world’s population. That is of concern because the need for climate research is vital in developing countries. It could have political and societal consequences if there are regional shortages of climate scientists and research to support and provide contextually relevant advice for policy makers in developing countries,” says Professor Niels Strange from the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen, which is supported by the Danish National Research Foundation.

Climate change research, shown here by number of publications, primarily concerns countries that are less vulnerable to climate change and have a higher emission of CO2. The countries are also politically stable, less corrupt, and have a higher investment in education and research.

Together with PhD student Maya Pasgaard from the Department of Food and Resource Economics at the University of Copenhagen, Niels Strange analysed over 15,000 scientific papers on climate research from 197 countries. The analysis clearly shows that the research is biased towards countries that are wealthier, better educated, more stable and less corrupt, emit the most carbon, and are less vulnerable to climate change.

As an example, the study shows that almost 30 % of the total number of publications concerns the United States of America, Canada and China, while India is the only highly vulnerable country in the top 10 list. However, Greenland and small island states like the Seychelles and the Maldives that are generally considered vulnerable, also find their way into the top 10 list if it is calculated per capita.

The content of climate studies is also skewed

The study shows that not only the authorship, but also the choice of topic in climate research, is geographically skewed:

Articles from Europe and North America are more often biased towards issues of climate change mitigation, such as emission reductions, compared with articles from the southern hemisphere. In contrast, climate research from Africa and South and Latin America deals more with issues of climate change adaptation and impacts such as droughts and diseases compared to Europe.

“The tendency is a geographical bias where climate knowledge is produced mainly in the northern hemisphere, while the most vulnerable countries are found in the southern hemisphere. The challenge for the scientific community is to improve cooperation and knowledge sharing across geographical and cultural barriers, but also between practitioners and academics. Ultimately, it will require financial support and political will, if we as a society are to address this imbalance in the fight against climate change,” says Maya Pasgaard. The study was recently published online in the journal Global Environmental Change.

Journal Reference:

  1. M. Pasgaard, N. Strange. A quantitative analysis of the causes of the global climate change research distributionGlobal Environmental Change, 2013; 23 (6): 1684 DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.08.013

Brazil 2014: More than just the World Cup (The Christian Science Monitor)

From elections to transportation fare increases and potentially renewed protests, 2014 promises big stories to watch across Brazil.

By Rachel Glickhouse, Guest blogger / January 2, 2014

People watch fireworks exploding over Copacabana beach during New Year celebrations at the Pavao Pavaozinho slum in Rio de Janeiro, January 1, 2014. Pilar Olivares/Reuters

While 2013 [was] an incredibly interesting year forBrazil, 2014 promises to be even more fascinating. Beyond the World Cup, which promises to occupy much of the year’s headlines, here are some of the big issues to watch.

Transportation fare increases: Governments throughout Brazil backed down on raising bus and subway fares in 2013 after those increases helped spursome of the largest protests seen since redemocratization. Nevertheless, a fare increase could be coming in Rio as early as January.

Inflation and cost of living: In 2013, food prices rose over 9 percent and were the major cause of inflation this year. Overall, inflation this year is estimated at under 6 percent, while some estimates put next year’s inflation at a little over 6 percentSão Paulo and Rio in particular continue to see a rising cost of living.

Consumer debt: With more Brazilians gaining access to the banking system and credit, consumer debt has been a growing problem to keep an eye on. Over the past 12 months, the number of Brazilian families in debt has fluctuated between 60 and 65 percent. Around 20 percent of Brazilians are behind on their bills. Over three-quarters of Brazilians in debt point to credit cardsas the source of their debt; credit card interest rates in Brazil continue to be sky-high, reaching up to 500 percent a year.

Security: While in the past decade, the overall trend for homicides has been an increase in the Northeast and a drop in the Southeast, crimes like robberies andmuggings are rising in cities like Rio and São Paulo. Rio in particular has faced problems with crime this year after a period of seeming improvements.

Pacification in Rio: Though initial results were promising, this year has seen some cracks in Rio’s pacification strategy, such as outbreaks of violence in pacified favelas and revelations of police abuses, the most serious being the torture and murder of favela residents. One of the most important things revealed this year are statistics showing disappearances in pacified favelas rising as murders fall. We’ll see what happens with this trend next year. Fundamentally, the biggest problem with the strategy is the police force itself, as some police have traditionally been criminals themselves, either working directly with drug traffickers or operating in militias when off-duty. Without a major police reform, the strategy could see similar challenges next year.

Health and education policies: One of the major complaints of protesters [last] year was that the government is investing in the World Cup but not enough in hospitals and schools. In 2013, the government began importing Cuban doctors in a bid to bring medical services to underserved areas, which initially was met with controversy that has petered out a bit. Much more remains to be done though, so [this year] it will be interesting to see how the program goes. There were also big teachers’ strikes this year which could potentially happen again in 2014.

Corruption scandals: One of the most important things that happened in 2013 was when a group of defendants in the country’s biggest corruption case went to jail. Parts of the trial are going to drag on next year as some defendants get appeals, but a new corruption scandal would feed another one of the protesters’ complaints.

Protests: While it seems likely that there will be some demonstrations around the World Cup, it remains to be seen whether there will be a repeat of the 2013 protests. That will depend on all of the factors above.

Elections: Brazil will hold presidential and legislative elections in October, which means that federal policies will potentially be designed to appease voters as President Dilma Rousseff seeks reelection. It may not be a year to experiment with reforms or to raise taxes, but it could be a year of bread and circuses.

Infrastructure: While a lot of focus will be on finishing stadiums in time for the games, it remains to be seen how many transportation infrastructure projects, ranging from new highways to airport renovations, will be completed before June. In addition, it will be important to see which major infrastructure projects are moving in an election year, like the Belo Monte dam or the São Francisco water project.

– Rachel Glickhouse is the author of the blog Riogringa.com.

Antropólogo francês Bruno Latour fala sobre natureza e política (O Globo)

28.12.2013 | 07h30m

Bruno Latour diz que ‘ecologizar’ é o verbo da vez, mas propõe uma noção de ‘ecologia’ com sentido mais amplo do que o defendido hoje por ativistas e políticos. Para ele, o Brasil, apesar das contradições, é ator fundamental na construção de uma inteligência política e científica para o futuro

Por Fernando Eichenberg, correspondente em Paris

A modernidade é uma falácia, uma ficção inventada para organizar a vida intelectual. Os chamados “modernos” pregam a separação de ciência, política, natureza e cultura, numa teoria distante da realidade do mundo e inadaptada aos desafios impostos neste início de século, acusa o pensador francês Bruno Latour, de 66 anos. “Ecologizar” é verbo da vez, sustenta ele, mas num sentido bem mais amplo do que o espaço compreendido pela ecologia defendida por ativistas e partidos políticos.

— O desenvolvimento da frente de modernização, como se fala de uma frente pioneira na Amazônia, sempre foi, ao contrário, uma extensão de uma quantidade de associações, da marca dos humanos, da intimidade de conexões entre as coisas e as pessoas. A modernidade nunca existiu — dispara Latour, em entrevista ao GLOBO.

Na sua opinião, o Brasil, com todas as suas contradições, é fundamental na possibilidade de um futuro de inovações que gerem um novo tipo de “civilização ecológica”, numa nova “inteligência política e científica”.

Antropólogo, sociólogo e filósofo das ciências, Bruno Latour, que recebeu em maio passado o prestigiado prêmio Holberg de Ciências Humanas, é um dos intelectuais franceses contemporâneos mais traduzidos no exterior. Além de suas originais investigações teóricas, também se aventurou no terreno das artes (com as exposições “Iconoclash” e “Making things public”) e, em outubro, estreou a peça “Gaïa Global Circus”, uma “tragicomédia climática”, que ele espera um dia poder encenar no Jardim Botânico, no Rio. Professor do Instituto de Estudos Políticos de Paris (Sciences-Po), lançou ainda este ano o ensaio “Enquête sur les modes d’existence — Une anthropologie des Modernes” (Investigação sobre os modos de existência – uma antropologia dos Modernos, ed. La Découverte).

Qual a diferença entre “ecologizar” e “modernizar”, segundo seu pensamento?

Modernizar é o argumento que diz que quanto mais nós separamos as questões de natureza e de política, melhor será. Ecologizar é dizer: já que, de fato, não separamos tudo isso, já que a História recente dos humanos na Terra foi o embaraçamento cada vez mais importante das questões de natureza e de sociedade, se é isso que fazemos na prática, então que construamos a política que lhe corresponda em vez de fazer de conta que há uma história subterrânea, aquela das associações, e uma história oficial, que é a de emancipação dos limites da natureza. Ecologizar é um verbo como modernizar, exceto que se trata da prática e não somente da teoria. Mas pode-se dizer “modernidade reflexiva” ou utilizar outros termos. O importante é que haja uma alternativa a modernizar, que não seja arcaica, reacionária. Que seja progressista, mas de uma outra forma, não modernista. Um problema complicado hoje, sobretudo no Brasil. Mas é complicado por todo o lado, na França também. Qualquer dúvida sobre a modernização, se diz que é preciso estancar a frente pioneira, decrescer, voltar ao passado. Isso é impossível. É preciso inovar, descobrir novas formas, e isso se parece com a modernização. Mas é uma modernização que aceita seu passado. E o passado foi uma mistura cada vez mais intensa entre os produtos químicos, as florestas, os peixes, etc. Isso é “ecologizar”. É a instituição da prática e não da teoria.

Qual é a situação e o papel do Brasil neste contexto?

Penso que deve haver uma verdadeira revolução ecológica, não somente no sentido de natureza, e o Brasil é um ator importante. A esperança do mundo repousa muito sobre o Brasil, país com uma enormidade de reservas e de recursos. Se fala muito do movimento da civilização na direção da Ásia, o que não faz muito sentido do ponto de vista ecológico, pois quando se vai a estes países se vê a devastação. Não se pode imaginar uma civilização ecológica vindo da Ásia. No Brasil — e também na Índia — há um pensamento, não simplesmente a força nua, num país em que os problemas ecológicos são colocados em grande escala. Há um verdadeiro pensamento e uma verdadeira arte, o que é muito importante. Se fosse me aposentar, pensaria no Brasil. Brasil e Índia são os dois países nos quais podemos imaginar verdadeiras inovações de civilização, e não simplesmente fazer desenvolvimento sustentável ou reciclagem de lixo. Podem mostrar ao resto do mundo o que a Europa acreditou por muito tempo poder fazer. A Europa ainda poderá colaborar com seu grão de areia, mas não poderá mais inovar muito em termos de construir um quadro de vida, porque em parte já o fez, com cidades ligadas por autoestradas, com belas paisagens e belos museus. Já está feito. Mas numa perspectiva de inventar novas modas e novas formas de existência que nada têm a ver com a economia e a modernização, com a conservação, será preciso muita inteligência política e científica. Não há muitos países que possuem esses recursos. Os Estados Unidos poderiam, mas os perderam há muito tempo, saíram da História quando o presidente George W. Bush disse que o modo de vida dos americanos não era negociável. Brasil e Índia ainda têm essa chance. Mas este é o cenário otimista. O cenário pessimista talvez seja o mais provável.

Qual a hipótese pessimista?

Há os chineses que entram com força no Brasil, por exemplo. Meu amigo Clive Hamilton (pensador australiano) diz que, infelizmente, nada vai acontecer, que se vai fazer uma reengenharia, se vai modernizar numa outra escala e numa outra versão catastrófica. Provavelmente, é o que vai ocorrer, já que não conseguimos decidir nada, e que será preciso ainda assim tomar medidas. Uma hipótese é a de que se vai delegar a Estados ainda mais modernizadores no sentido tradicional e hegemônico a tarefa de reparar a situação por meio de medidas drásticas, sem nada mudar, portanto agravando-a. Mas meu dever é o de ser otimista. Em todo caso, é preciso inventar novas formas para pensar essas questões.

O senhor acompanhou as manifestações de rua no Brasil neste ano que passou?

É uma das razões pelas quais o Brasil é interessante, porque há ao mesmo tempo um dinamismo de invenção política, ligado a outros dinamismos relacionados às ciências, às artes. Há um potencial no Brasil. E há, hoje, uma riqueza. Não são temas que se pode abordar em uma situação de miséria. É preciso algo que se pareça ao bem-estar. Na Índia, se você tem um milhão de pessoas morrendo de fome não pode fazer muito. O Brasil é hoje muito importante para a civilização mundial.

Os partidos ecologistas, na sua opinião, não souberam assimilar estas questões?

Nenhum partido ecologista conseguiu manter uma prática. A ecologia se tornou um domínio, enquanto é uma outra forma de tudo fazer. A ecologia se viu encerrada em um tema, e não é vista como uma outra forma de fazer política. É uma posição bastante difícil. É preciso ao mesmo tempo uma posição revolucionária, pois significa modificar o conjunto dos elementos do sistema de produção. Mas é modificar no nível do detalhe de interconexão de redes técnico-sociais, para as quais não há tradição política. Sabemos o que é imaginar a revolução sem fazê-la, administrar situações estabelecidas melhorando-as, modernizar livrando-se de coisas do passado, mas não sabemos o que é criar um novo sistema de produção inovador, que obriga a tudo mudar, como numa revolução, mas assimilando cada vez mais elementos que estão interconectados. Não há uma tradição política para isso. Não é o socialismo, o liberalismo. E é preciso reconhecer que os partidos verdes, seja na Alemanha, na França, nos EUA não fizeram o trabalho de reflexão intelectual necessária. Como os socialistas, no século XIX, refizeram toda a filosofia, seja marxista ou socialista tradicional, libertária, nas relações com a ciência, na reinvenção da economia. Há uma espécie de ideia de que a questão ecológica era local, e que se podia servir do que chamamos de filosofia da ecologia, que é uma filosofia da natureza, muito impregnada do passado, da conservação. O que é completamente inadaptado a uma revolução desta grandeza. Não podemos criticá-los. Eles tentaram, mas não investiram intelectualmente na escala do problema. Não se deram conta do que quer dizer “ecologizar” em vez de “modernizar”. Imagine o pobre do infeliz responsável pelo transporte público de São Paulo ou de Los Angeles.

A França receberá em 2015 a Conferência Internacional sobre o Clima. Como o senhor avalia esses encontros?

Estamos muito mobilizados aqui na Sciences-Po, porque em 2015 ocorrerá em Paris, e trabalhamos bastante sobre o fracasso da conferência de Copenhague, em 2009. Estamos muito ativos, tanto aqui como no Palácio do Eliseu. Na minha interpretação, o sistema de agregação por nação é demasiado convencional para identificar as verdadeiras linhas de clivagens sobre os combates e as oposições. Cada país é atravessado em seu interior por múltiplas facções, e o sistema de negociação pertence à geopolítica tradicional. E também ainda não admitimos de que se tratam de conflitos políticos importantes. A França aceitou a conferência sem perceber realmente do que se tratava, como um tema político maior. Por quê? Porque ainda não estamos habituados a considerar — e aqui outra diferença entre “ecologizar” e “modernizar” — que as questões de meio ambiente e da natureza são questões de conflito, e não questões que vão nos colocar em acordo. Vocês têm isso no Brasil em relação à Floresta Amazônica. Não é porque se diz “vamos salvar a Floresta Amazônica” que todo mundo vai estar de acordo. Há muita discordância. E isso é muito complicado de entender na mentalidade do que é uma negociação.

Poderá haver avanços em 2015?

Uma das hipóteses que faço para 2015 é a de que é preciso acentuar o caráter conflituoso antes de entrar em negociações. Não começar pela repartição das tarefas, mas admitindo que se está em conflito nas questões da natureza. Os ecologistas têm um pouco a ideia de que no momento em que se fala de natureza e de fatos científicos as pessoas vão se alinhar. Acham que se falar que o atum está desaparecendo os pescadores vão começar a parar de matá-los. Sabe-se há muito tempo que é exatamente o contrário, eles vão rapidamente em busca do último atum. A minha hipótese para 2015 é que se deve tornar visíveis estes conflitos. O que coloca vários problemas de teoria política, de ecologia, de representação, de geografia etc. Talvez 2015 já seja um fracasso como foi 2009. Mas é interessante tentar, talvez seja nossa última chance. Tenho muitas ideias. Faremos um colóquio no Rio de Janeiro em setembro de 2014, organizado por Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, sobre isso. Depois faremos um outro, em Toulouse, para testar os modelos de negociação. Em 2015 faremos um outro aqui na Sciences-Po. A ideia é encontrar alternativas no debate sobre conflitos de mundo. Não é uma questão das pessoas que são a favor do carvão, os que são contra os “climacéticos” etc. Não é a mesma conexão, não é a mesma ciência, não é a mesma confiança na política. São conflitos antropocêntricos. Interessante que as pessoas que assistiram à minha peça de teatro ficaram contentes em ver os conflitos. Na ecologia se faz muita pedagogia, se diz como se deve fazer para salvar a Floresta Amazônica. Mas não se fala muito de conflitos.

Brazil to issue World Cup commemorative coins (AFP)

14 Dec 2013

Handhout picture released on December 13, 2013 by the Central Bank of Brazil showing a 10 Reals gold coin (4 US Dollars), reading “Copa do Mundo da FIFA – Brasil 2014” (FIFA World Cup – Brazil 2014) (Banco Central Do Brasil/AFP)

Brasília — Brazil’s Central Bank on Friday announced plans to issue a set of nine commemorative coins for the 2014 World Cup.

The set, to be released on January 24, will comprise one gold coin, two in silver and six in an alloy of copper and nickel.

The gold coin weighing 4.4. grams (0.155 ounce) will have a nominal value of 10 reais ($4.3) but will be sold for 1180 reais ($504).

It will represent the Cup trophy and a player scoring a goal. Some 5,000 will be minted, the bank said.

Those in silver will have a value of five reais ($2.2) and a weight of 27 grams.

One will represent Fuleco, the 2014 World Cup mascot, and the other the 12 host cities. They will be sold for 190 reais ($81) apiece and 20,000 of each will be sold.

The six cupronickel versions, each with a value of 2 reais ($0.86) and a weight of 10.17 grams, will cost 30 reais ($12.8).

They will represent a dribble, a header or a penalty kick and 20,000 copies of each will be minted.

Países pobres estão 100 anos atrás dos ricos em preparação climática (CarbonoBrasil)

16/12/2013 – 11h52

por Jéssica Lipinski, do CarbonoBrasil

mapa1 Países pobres estão 100 anos atrás dos ricos em preparação climática

Novos dados do Índice de Adaptação Global da Universidade de Notre Dame enfatizam disparidades entre países pobres e o risco em relação à resiliência climática; Brasil aparece em 68º lugar, com classificação considerada média-alta

Um novo relatório publicado por pesquisadores da Universidade de Notre Dame afirma que levará mais de um século para que os países em desenvolvimento atinjam o nível de preparação climática que as nações desenvolvidas já possuem.

Índice de Adaptação Global da Universidade de Notre Dame (ND-GAIN), lançado nesta quinta-feira (12) avaliou 175 países e se foca em questões como a vulnerabilidade das nações às mudanças climáticas, ao aquecimento global e a eventos climáticos extremos, como secas severas, tempestades devastadoras e desastres naturais.

Alguns exemplos de países nessa trajetória de 100 anos incluem o Camboja, o Quênia e o Haiti. “Devido ao recente tufão nas Filipinas, algumas pessoas podem estar se perguntando onde essa nação insular fraqueja em termos de prontidão”, comentou Nitesh Chawla, diretor do Centro Interdisciplinar para Ciência de Rede e Aplicações.

“De acordo com os dados, as Filipinas estão mais de 40 anos atrás dos países mais desenvolvidos em preparação climática. Embora isso seja menor do que os países mais pobres, mostra que as Filipinas ainda tem um longo caminho pela frente”, continuou Chawla.

Já alguns dos países emergentes mais industrializados, como o Brasil, apresentaram uma classificação considerada média-alta, apresentando um nível relativamente satisfatório de resiliência. Nosso país ficou em 68º lugar no geral, sendo classificado em 56º em vulnerabilidade e em 79º em preparação.

“Sabíamos que havia disparidades entre os países mais ricos e mais pobres quando se tratava de adaptação e preparação às mudanças climáticas”, colocou Jessica Hellmann, bióloga da Universidade de Notre Dame.

“Mas não sabíamos que levaria mais de 100 anos para que os países mais pobres atingissem os níveis de preparação que os países mais ricos já alcançaram”, acrescentou ela.

Mas os especialistas que trabalharam no relatório declararam que, de acordo com as pesquisas, nem mesmo os países desenvolvidos são exatamente à prova de mudanças climáticas e do aquecimento global.

Pelo contrário, o documento sugere que, embora eles estejam exercendo esforços para aumentar sua resiliência aos fenômenos naturais e eventos climáticos extremos que acontecem em seus territórios, ainda há espaço para melhorias.

“Esses dados são preocupantes, porque eles evidenciam o quão despreparadas algumas das nações mais vulneráveis realmente estão. Mas eles também mostram que os países mais desenvolvidos não estão fazendo o suficiente, o que levanta sérias questões sobre políticas públicas, não importa quão bem desenvolvida uma economia nacional possa ser”, observou Hellmann.

Os pesquisadores esperam que as descobertas ajudem os líderes mundiais a estabeleceram prioridades globais, regionais e nacionais, assim como estimulem a preparação para as mudanças climáticas.

* Publicado originalmente no site CarbonoBrasil.

Violência no futebol: sobre a briga entre torcedores do Vasco e do Atlético Paranaense na Arena Joinville

10/12/13 04:00 Atualizado em 10/12/13 10:50 

Leone Mendes, o brutamonte da barra de ferro, era da banda da igreja e é dono de barbearia (Extra)

Wilson Mendes

Leone preso na Delegacia de Joinville Foto: Terceiro / Divulgação Polícia Civil de SC

Para os moradores de Austin, em Nova Iguaçu, Baixada Fluminense, as cenas de selvageria protagonizadas pelo vascaíno Leone Mendes da Silva, de 23 anos, não combinam com o descontraído e pacato barbeiro do bairro, ex-saxofonista da banda da igreja evangélica local.

— Ele sempre torceu pelo Vasco, mas esse fanatismo aumentou com o tempo. Eu sempre falando: “Meu filho, larga isso de jogo, de torcida”. Mas nunca pensei que ele faria uma coisa dessas. Eu preciso que ele me explique o que aconteceu lá. Ele é um rapaz bom — avaliou, entre lágrimas, Cleuza Mendes da Silva, de 48 anos, mãe de Leone. Eles ainda não se falaram depois da prisão.

Solteiro e filho único, é o barbeiro quem sustenta a casa, construída no mesmo terreno utilizado por outros parentes. A braçadeira de capitão do lar foi transferida em definitivo há cerca de três anos, depois que ele terminou o Ensino Médio e Cleuza sofreu um derrame.

Leone com a barra de ferro com a qual foi flagrado agredindo torcedores do Atlético-PR, um deles desacordado

Leone com a barra de ferro com a qual foi flagrado agredindo torcedores do Atlético-PR, um deles desacordado Foto: Giuliano Gomes / Folhapress

— Ele ajudou muito a mãe nessa época. Tantos remédios que comprou! — defende a tia, que não se identificou. Os vizinhos jogam no mesmo time da tia, numa tática de defesa calçada em rápidos elogios anônimos.

— Eu estou realmente surpresa. Ele foi aluno do meu marido, frequentou a minha casa e sempre foi uma ótima pessoa. Não sei o que aconteceu — diz a moradora da esquina.

O grupo de vizinhos da frente, incluindo um jovem devidamente uniformizado com a camisa da torcida organizada, garante que Leone nunca criou problemas nas partidas que acompanhou.

— Ele ia mais a jogos no Rio e São Paulo. Acho que longe assim esse foi o primeiro. Nunca ouvi dizer dele envolvido em briga. Nem machucado ele voltava — relatou um homem.

A mãe reclama de jogo sujo, e diz que fará de tudo para que as partidas com a Justiça seja disputadas em casa, no Rio de Janeiro.

— Eu não tenho dinheiro agora, mas se for preciso vendo até a casa. Eu quero que saibam que tenho ciência que o que ele fez foi errado. Não estou passando a mão na cabeça dele, mas ele tem 23 anos, emprego, carro e um salão. É trabalhador — desabafou Cleuza.

Cleusa, mãe de Leone, sofre com a prisão do filho

Cleusa, mãe de Leone, sofre com a prisão do filho Foto: Paulo Nicolella / Extra

De acordo com ela, os organizadores é que erraram ao deixar uma partida de futebol decisiva e com tantos torcedores acontecer sem apoio policial.

— Mostram ele, mas como pode milhares de pessoas juntas sem policiamento, sem segurança? O organizador desse jogo queria mesmo uma tragédia.

Enquanto o filho está detido na Penitenciária Regional de Joinville, aguardando os trâmites do processo que responde por tentativa de homicídio, a mãe reza.

— Eu oro que isso sirva para ele voltar para os pés do Senhor e para mim. Também peço que o jovem ferido fique bem, para dar paz à mãe dele, que está sofrendo tanto quanto eu. Porque houve má organização, mas nós que sofremos — arrematou.

Leia mais: http://extra.globo.com/esporte/vasco/leone-mendes-brutamonte-da-barra-de-ferro-era-da-banda-da-igreja-e-dono-de-barbearia-11021154.html#ixzz2n6D55JxF

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10/12/13 04:00 

Diretoria do Vasco pagou aluguel de ônibus e deu desconto de 75% nos ingressos para a torcida (Extra)

Torcedor da organizada do Vasco segura um rival pelo calção

Torcedor da organizada do Vasco segura um rival pelo calção Foto: Pedro Kirilos

Por Bruno Marinho

A campanha que culminou com a queda do Vasco para a Série B este ano entrará negativamente para a história, assim como os episódios de violência protagonizados por sua principal torcida organizada. Tudo com a conivência da diretoria. O clube financia torcedores uniformizados subsidiando 75% do valor dos ingressos e ajudando também no transporte para as partidas como visitante. Foram justamente em duas partidas longe do Rio que as brigas ocorreram.

Domingo, cerca de 100 torcedores da principal facção vascaína partiram do Rio para Joinville, em dois ônibus. O ingresso, que estava sendo vendido por R$ 100, custou R$ 25 para os membros da organizada. O gasto com o aluguel do ônibus também é dividido. Neste fim de semana, um foi bancado pelos torcedores, o outro pelo Vasco.

Antes do conflito em Santa Catarina, o clube já tinha sofrido com o confronto entre torcedores rivais na partida contra o Corinthians, dia 25 de agosto. Na ocasião, o time perdeu quatro mandos de campo. Punição semelhante deverá se repetir por causa da briga generalizada de domingo, com a pena a ser cumprida nas primeiras rodadas da Segunda Divisão.

Procurada, a diretoria da Força Jovem Vasco, cujos integrantes foram flagrados pelas câmeras de TV na briga na Arena Joinville, se defendeu, mas admitiu que houve excessos.

— As imagens mostram que estávamos nos defendendo, com os torcedores do Atlético na área destinada aos vascaínos. Mas eu entendo que houve excessos, sim — disse Jean Santana, diretor financeiro da organizada.

Já a diretoria do Vasco não foi encontrada para comentar o financiamento à torcida. Manoel Barbosa, vice de patrimônio e responsável pela venda de ingressos, não atendeu as ligações. A assessoria de imprensa do clube também foi procurada. Ela informou que o Vasco repudia qualquer tipo de violência e que o clube ajudará no que for possível para que os culpados sejam punidos.

Leia mais: http://extra.globo.com/esporte/vasco/diretoria-do-vasco-pagou-aluguel-de-onibus-deu-desconto-de-75-nos-ingressos-para-torcida-11020955.html#ixzz2n6ExOYcX

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10/12/13 05:00 

Primo de brigão da barra de ferro diz que advogado da Força Jovem alegará legítima defesa (Extra)

Leone com a barra de ferro com a qual foi flagrado agredindo torcedores do Atlético-PR, um deles desacordado

Leone com a barra de ferro com a qual foi flagrado agredindo torcedores do Atlético-PR, um deles desacordado Foto: Giuliano Gomes / Folhapress

Wilson Mendes

A defesa de Leone Mendes da Silva, de 23 anos, o vascaíno flagrado agredindo um torcedor do Atlético com uma barra de ferro, deve alegar que a ação foi por legítima defesa. A informação foi dada por um primo de Leone, que está acompanhando o caso. Leone está preso sob a acusação de tentativa de homicídio e será defendido pelo advogado da organizada Força Jovem.

— A torcida entrou em contato conosco oferecendo o serviço. Nós já tínhamos procurado um advogado, mas ele cobrou R$ 4 mil somente para ir até Santa Catarina fazer contato e buscar informações. Vamos esperar a definição da torcida para não termos que gastar tanto — disse.

A família espera que a defesa consiga libertá-lo com a justificativa de legítima defesa. Para eles, Leone entrou na briga para se defender de agressões e, como os vascaínos eram minoria, “utilizaram o que tinham em mãos”.

Até a tarde de ontem, nenhum parente de Leone havia recebido qualquer contato do Vasco com oferta de ajuda. Sem muitos recursos, eles depositam as esperanças no defensor da torcida organizada.

— Eles me explicaram que o que está pesando muito é a imagem dele batendo em um homem já caído. Mas, no meio da confusão, as pessoas não pensam direito — opinou o primo.

Leone, que tem uma barbearia em Austin, na Baixada Fluminense, deixou a casa da mãe com destino ao Sul às 19h de sábado, num ônibus fretado pela Força Jovem. O último contato com a família foi feito uma hora antes do jogo.

— Precisamos ir até lá. Ele não ligou para casa, está sem roupas e sem os documentos, que ficaram aqui na casa — diz o primo, revelando que outros parentes de Leone estão recebendo ameaças pelo Facebook: — Dizem que se ele voltar vão espancá-lo e atear fogo no salão dele.

Leia mais: http://extra.globo.com/esporte/primo-de-brigao-da-barra-de-ferro-diz-que-advogado-da-forca-jovem-alegara-legitima-defesa-11021252.html#ixzz2n6FNONV2

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10/12/13 05:00 

Ministério Público do Rio pedirá suspensão da Força Jovem por três anos (Extra)

MP pedira a suspensão da torcida do clube carioca

MP pedira a suspensão da torcida do clube carioca Foto: Pedro_Kirilos

Paolla Serra

A Força Jovem está com os dias contados nos estádios. Horas depois da briga generalizada que deixou quatro torcedores internados após ficarem feridos durante a partida entre Atlético Paranaense e Vasco, na Arena Joinville, o Ministério Público promete uma medida drástica em relação a torcida organizada carioca. Nos próximos dias, o promotor de Justiça Paulo Sally irá pedir que a Força Jovem do Vasco (FJV) fique impedida de ir aos estádios por três anos.

De acordo com Sally, o MP do Rio e o de Santa Catarina estão fazendo uma ação conjunta para evitar que cenas como a de anteontem, consideradas por ele como “terríveis”, se repitam. O promotor informou que aguarda apenas as documentações referentes às prisões para dar entrada no pedido para afastar a Força Jovem dos jogos. Ele informou ainda que os promotores catarinenses também irão tomar medidas em relação a Fanáticos, uniformizada do Atlético-PR.

Paulo Sally, da 4ª Promotoria de Justiça de Tutela Coletiva de Defesa do Consumidor e do Contribuinte da Capital, afirmou ainda que as duas torcidas já eram alvos de investigações do órgão. A FJV deixou de cumprir obrigações, inclusive, como entregar os nomes de seus componentes do grupo antes do jogo.

O promotor tomará como base o artigo 39 do Estatuto do Torcedor, que prevê que a torcida organizada “que, em evento esportivo, promover tumulto; praticar ou incitar a violência; ou invadir local restrito aos competidores, árbitros, fiscais, dirigentes, organizadores ou jornalistas será impedida, assim como seus associados ou membros, de comparecer a eventos esportivos pelo prazo de até 3 (três) anos”.

— O relatório das prisões e outros documentos serão importantes e vão dar alicerce a punição que será dada a Força Jovem — disse Sally.

Contra a Justiça não há Força.

Leia mais: http://extra.globo.com/esporte/vasco/ministerio-publico-do-rio-pedira-suspensao-da-forca-jovem-por-tres-anos-11021128.html#ixzz2n6FrGApL