Arquivo da tag: Políticas públicas

Italians over 80 ‘will be left to die’ as country overwhelmed by coronavirus (The Telegraph)

Hardest-hit region drafts new proposals saying who will live and who will die

By Erica Di Blasi Turin 14 March 2020 • 4:38pm

Coronavirus victims in Italy will be denied access to intensive care if they are aged 80 or more or in poor health should pressure on beds increase, a document prepared by a crisis management unit in Turin proposes.

Some patients denied intensive care will in effect be left to die, doctors fear.

The unit has drawn up a protocol, seen by The Telegraph, that will determine which patients receive treatment in intensive care and which do not if there are insufficient spaces. Intensive care capacity is running short in Italy as the coronavirus continues to spread.

The document, produced by the civil protection deparment of the Piedmont region, one of those hardest hit, says: “The criteria for access to intensive therapy in cases of emergency must include age of less than 80 or a score on the Charlson comorbidity Index [which indicates how many other medical conditions the patient has] of less than 5.”

The ability of the patient to recover from resuscitation will also be considered.

One doctor said: “[Who lives and who dies] is decided by age and by the [patient’s] health conditions. This is how it is in a war.”

The document says: “The growth of the current epidemic makes it likely that a point of imbalance between the clinical needs of patients with COVID-19 and the effective availability of intensive resources will be reached.

“Should it become impossible to provide all patients with intensive care services, it will be necessary to apply criteria for access to intensive treatment, which depends on the limited resources available.”

It adds: “The criteria set out guidelines if the situation becomes of such an exceptional nature as to make the therapeutic choices on the individual case dependent on the availability of resources, forcing [hospitals] to focus on those cases in which the cost/benefit ratio is more favorable for clinical treatment.”

Luigi Icardi, a councilor for health in Piedmont, said: “I never wanted to see such a moment. It [the document] will be binding and will establish in the event of saturation of the wards a precedence code for access to intensive care, based on certain parameters such as potential survival.”

The document is already complete and only approval from a technical-scientific committee is needed before it is sent to hospitals. The criteria are expected to apply throughout Italy, government sources said.

More than 1,000 people in Italy have now died from the virus and the number is growing every day. More than 15,000 are infected.

Italy has 5,090 intensive care beds, which for the moment exceeds the number of patients who need them. It is also working to create new bed capacity in private clinics, nursing homes and even in tents. However, the country also needs also doctors and nurses – the government wants to hire them – and equipment.

Lombardy remains the most critical region. However, the situation is also serious in neighboring Piedmont. Here, in just one day, 180 new cases were recorded, while deaths numbered 27. The trend suggests that the situation is not about to improve.

Roberto Testi, president of the coranavirus technical-scientific committee for Piedmont, told The Telegraph: “Here in Piedmont we aim to delay as long as possible the use of these criteria. At the moment there are still intensive care places available and we are working to create more.

“We want to arrive as late as possible at the point where we have to decide who lives and who dies. The criteria relate only to access to intensive care – those who do not get access to intensive care will still receive all the treatment possible. In medicine we sometimes have to make difficult choices but it’s important to have a system about how to make them.”

What Might Africa Teach the World? Covid-19 and Ebola Virus Disease Compared (African Arguments)

By Paul Richards March 17, 2020

A medical official outside an emergency tent installed for patients infected by COVID-19 in Poland- Credit Sky News

Covid-19 is a flu-like illness (symptoms include fever, cough, and breathing problems) caused by a corona virus (SARS CoV-2). Like Ebola, the virus causing Covid-19 circulates within populations of bats and crossed over to humans via the bush meat trade. The first human cases were identified in China in December 2019, and the infection has now (March 2020) reached more than 100 countries.

The disease is now recognised by the World Health Organization as a pandemic. Up to 80 percent of the population of some countries might eventually become infected. Most cases will be mild, and recovery spontaneous. About 5 percent of cases will be life-threatening. Death rates appear to be around 1-2 percent. The elderly are most at risk.[1]

Currently, attention is focused on reducing the rate at which Covid-19 spreads. One aim is to delay the peak of infection beyond the winter flu period in the northern hemisphere, when medical help is stretched. Slowing the epidemic also allows more time for preparation of health systems to cope with large numbers, and for work on vaccine development.

Predictably, some politicians have demanded border closures against immigrants and refugees, even though spread is associated with tourism and normal business travel. Africans internationally stigmatised by Ebola might feel aggrieved that cases of Covid-19 have been introduced from Europe and Asia. But in a globally connected and inter-dependent world blaming and stigmatising helps no one. It is better to share ideas about what can be done to protect.

This is where Africa’s experience of Ebola has something to offer. Communities experiencing Ebola in West Africa in 2014-15 rapidly learnt from scratch how to cope with a deadly new infection, and this provides the rest of the world with important information on strategies to address novel disease threats more generally.

Like Ebola, Covid-19 is a family disease, in the sense that many infections occur in the home. Restrictions on travel can slow the spread of the disease, but it also helps if individuals and families understand infection pathways and implement domestic precautions. This is something in which West Africans confronted by Ebola have had much experience.

History of Pandemics – credit Virtual Capitalists

The name for Ebola in Mende, one of the main languages of Sierra Leone, the worst affected country in 2014-15, was bonda wote, literally ‘family turn round’. In other words, it was clearly recognised that this was a disease requiring families to change behaviour in major ways, especially in how they cared for the sick.

Covid-19 will require similar changes at the family level, especially in terms of how the elderly are protected. The buzz words for epidemic responders include self-isolation and social distancing, but the details of how to implement these vague concepts have been left to local social imagination.

Answers are required for both the uninfected elderly, and for others who are sick.

Should grandpa be packed off to a shed in the garden away from the family for his own protection? What happens when grandma gets lonely and wants to see the grandchildren? Who does the shopping? How does the daily-paid worker ‘self-isolate’ when there is no sick pay? Who collects the children from school when a single mum is sick?

Much depends on actual family arrangements and housing stock. So African solutions for Ebola will not work directly in other parts of the world. But it is important to know that under the challenge of Ebola local people showed much inventiveness in devising solutions to such problems.

Evidence shows that ways can be found to reduce family risks of infection, even with a disease 30 times more deadly than Covid-19.[2]For Ebola, these ranged from the elbow knock that replaced shaking of hands as a public greeting, to the appointment of a single carer in the household to look after the sick while waiting for help, to the carefully choreographed ‘safe and respectful’ funerals that allowed some element of local ritual back into the burial process, a major source of infection.

Every encouragement should be given to this local adaptive creativity, and the authorities should listen carefully to information from below about what would help to make a difference.

However, Covid-19 is not Ebola, and differences have to be taken into account. Some of the major questions about how the disease spreads are as yet unknown, and citizens and households need to be listening for this information as it becomes available and helped to adapt to its implications in real time.

This implies having very good means of two-way communication. In Sierra Leone a telephone helpline, ‘117’, played an important part in arranging emergency Ebola response, but it was much poorer at harvesting feedback from communities about what could be done better.

It seems that the lesson has not been learnt with Covid-19. In Britain, the National Health Service helpline, ‘111’ has now been ‘stood down’ for Covid-19 enquiries relating to domestic testing, since the epidemic is deemed to have passed into a new phase. How then are the authorities to have a conversation with families about the resources most needed for adaptation at household level?

Case-handling is a second area of difference. Ebola does not spread easily. The virologist Peter Piot put it well when he stated that he would have no problem sitting next to someone with Ebola provided they were not vomiting over him. Infection spreads only through contact with body fluids. Covid-19, however, spreads through the air, as well as via bodily contact, and case numbers will be much higher.

With Ebola in West Africa the number of cases turning up at specialist Ebola care facilities at the height of the epidemic numbered in tens or hundreds per week. With Covid-19 the numbers of cases requiring intensive care at the peak of the epidemic may amount to hundreds of thousands.

Even if stretched out over several months infection on this scale implies a large extra demand for medical care.

Ebola taught that epidemics cause deaths from other diseases through their impact on health systems. In all there were about 12,000 Ebola deaths in Upper West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone) in 2014-15 but many additional fatalities resulted from, for example, closure of facilities such as maternity clinics.

So contingency planning is required. A key challenge for Covid-19 is how health system care should best be organized, without severely disrupting other forms of health provision.

For Ebola, the first response was to build large field hospitals (Ebola Treatment Centres).[3]These were seen as the safest option. But they were shunned by families, because so few patients came out alive. They were also often in the wrong place (built behind, not ahead, of the epidemic).

Information started to filter through that some communities were taking their own steps to reduce infection and bury the dead. This raised the question whether there was more scope for community care.

Family do-it-yourself responses proved controversial. International responders were adamant that there would be nothing resembling home care; it was too dangerous. Local communities were equally adamant that there would have to be some form of home care; they could not stand by and watch family members die, when an ambulance to take a patient to an ETC might take days to arrive over bad or non-existent roads.

Families saw it as their duty to be involved in care of the sick. So, they repeatedly asked what to do while waiting for help to arrive. Could they not prepare food for the sick? Could they not be trained to safely bury the dead?

No, they were told. Ebola required specialist management.

Communities answered back. They pointed to areas at the outset of the epidemic, where the epidemic was rolled back with only local resources. In Kailahun District, for example, an intense initial outbreak was reduced to a trickle of cases by local responders organizing quarantine and burial with improvised resources. That cases then declined without outside help implied either that the disease burnt out more readily than anticipated, or that local improvisation worked better than expected. There is evidence to support both interpretations.[4]

Experts knew that Ebola control required prompt diagnosis, before the ‘wet’ symptoms of the disease became apparent. Something had to be done to speed up the presentation of cases. The answer was to build much smaller community care centres (CCC) close to where active transmission was taking place.[5]This also changed the relationship between families and Ebola responders from fear to active cooperation.

Staff of CCC were for the most part local volunteers – trained nurses who had not been absorbed on to the payroll of the Ministry of Health, or villagers willing to take on high-risk chores for a decent wage. The fact that staffing was local meant patients saw familiar faces, and this built trust. CCC also normalized Ebola by bringing treatment within a framework of general medical assistance.

As a result, patients were presented more promptly than was the case with the distant ETC. Ebola (indistinguishable from malaria or typhoid in its early phase) was more rapidly identified and isolated. One study estimates that CCC contributed up to one third of the infection control ending the epidemic in Sierra Leone.[6]

This example of responders modifying their approach to infection control better to accommodate family requirements may hold lessons for Covid-19.

Specifically, cases may have to be kept out of main hospitals as much as possible, Thus, there may be a need for field treatment facilities not dissimilar to CCC, as a half-way house between home isolation and intensive care. In effect these facilities would isolate and triage the most vulnerable cases, as was the case with Ebola CCC.

There is also a possibility that any such facilities might be run up by military personnel[7]and staffed by medically trained ‘volunteers’ (retired doctors and nurses), as in Sierra Leone.

Interesting to note, the chief medical advisor for England was previously one of the proponents of the introduction of CCC in Sierra Leone, and we may be about to see some lessons directly transferred.[8]

Quarantine for Ebola in Sierra Leone is also an issue from which Covid-19 responders might wish to draw lessons. Much of it was organised and imposed by the state, and was at times heavy-handed. But communities also organised their own quarantine. They understood that self-isolation was in their own interest, and this sometimes worked surprisingly effectively.

Use was made of an approach used during the civil war of 1991-2002 of mobilising community youth to identify infiltrators. Visitors who might have been carrying the virus were turned away. But in other cases the approach was more focused on sequestering those who were well. Rural families sometimes decamped from villages with outbreaks to settle down for a few weeks in their farms, where sleeping quarters were sometimes built for the purpose.

In this respect, Sierra Leonean rural communities showed a clear appreciation of the fact that there were two distinct kinds of quarantine – self-isolation and protective sequestration. Both kinds are being used as part of the response to Covid-19, but at times without adequate discussion of how the two types differ and have different social motivations – self-protection and altruism towards neighbours. It is not wise to talk about self-isolation for the sick and the elderly in the same breath. The different motivations need to be more clearly explained.

In conclusion, it is also important to say something about what Africa can learn from its own experience of Ebola. The point made above should be reiterated – about the differences as well as similarities between Covid-19 and Ebola.

Prompt case finding, contact tracing and quarantine are being applied to Covid-19 as they were for Ebola.[9]Good hygiene practices, such as hand washing, also remain applicable. African countries with experience of Ebola know how to do these things, and this will be helpful in dealing with early cases.

However, African countries also have to be prepared to learn to adapt to the specific features of this new disease as more data emerge. This will pose more of a challenge, since this will require rapid knowledge-based domestic adaptation to new information on how Covid-19 spreads (perhaps most notably, why it affects the old more than the young, and how older people might be best protected from its effects).

The main lesson for both Africa and other parts of the world from Ebola for Covid-19, however, is that shared learning between communities and medical professionals is a key aspect of human adaptive response to emergent diseases. In any disease in which community mobilization is an important aspect families need to think like epidemiologists, but equally epidemiologists need to think like families.

Paul Richards’ Ebola book front cover, part of the African Arguments book series

References:

[1]Xu, J., Zhao, S., Teng T., Abdalla, A.E., Zhu, W., Xie, L., Wang, Y., Guo, X. (2020) ‘Systematic comparison of two animal-to-human transmitted human coronaviruses: SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV’, Viruses 12, 244.

[2]Richards, P. (2016) Ebola: How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, London: Zed Books.

[3]Richards, P., Mokuwa, E., Welmers, P., Maat, H., Beisel, U. (2019) ‘Trust, and distrust, of Ebola Treatment Centers: a case-study from Sierra Leone’, PLoS ONE14(12): e0224511. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224511.

[4]Glynn, Judith R. et al. (2017) ‘Asymptomatic infection and unrecognised Ebola virus disease in Ebola-affected households in Sierra Leone: a cross-sectional study using a new non-invasive assay for antibodies to Ebola virus’,Lancet Infectious Diseases17(6), 645-653. On local case finding, quarantine and burial procedures see Richards (2016) op. cit.

[5]Mokuwa, E.Y., Maat, H. (2020) ‘Rural populations exposed to Ebola Virus Disease respond positively to localised case handling: evidence from Sierra Leone’, PLoS Negl Trop Dis 14(1): e0007666. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0007666.

[6]Pronyk, P., Rogers, B., Lee, S., Bhatnagar, A., Wolman, Y., Monasch, R., Hipgrave, D., Salama, P., Kucharski, A., Chopra, M., and on behalf of the UNICEF Sierra Leone Ebola Response Team, (2016) ‘The effect of community-based prevention and care on Ebola transmission in Sierra Leone’,American Journal of Public Health 106, 727–32, https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2015.303020.

[7]Aaaron Walawalkar and Jamie Grierson, The Guardian,8 March 2020, 14.12 GMT.

[8]Whitty, C.J.M., Farrar, J., Ferguson, N., Edmunds, W.J., Piot, P., Leach, M., Davies, S.C. (2014) ‘Tough choices to reduce Ebola transmission’, Nature515, 13 November, 192–4; see also Ian Sample and Lisa O’Carroll ‘Prof Chris Whitty – the expert we need in the coronavirus crisis’, Guardian,4 March 2020.

[9]Hellewell, J. et al. (2020) ‘Feasibility of controlling Covid-19 outbreaks by isolation of cases and contacts’, Lancet, 28 February 2020, https://doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(20)30074-7.

How Spanish flu helped create Sweden’s modern welfare state (The Guardian)

The 1918 pandemic ravaged the remote city of Östersund. But its legacy is a city – and country – well-equipped to deal with 21st century challenges

Brian Melican

Wed 29 Aug 2018 07.15 BST Last modified on Mon 3 Feb 2020 12.47 GMT

Archive black and white picture Östersund
Spanish flu reached Östersund a century ago. Photograph: Alamy

On 15 September 1918, a 12-year-old boy named Karl Karlsson who lived just outside Östersund, Sweden, wrote a short diary entry: “Two who died of Spanish flu buried today. A few snowflakes in the air.”

For all its brevity and matter-of-fact tone, Karlsson’s journal makes grim reading. It is 100 years since a particularly virulent strain of avian flu, known as the Spanish flu despite probably originating in America, ravaged the globe, killing somewhere between 50 million and 100 million people. While its effects were felt everywhere, it struck particularly hard in Östersund, earning the city the nickname “capital of the Spanish flu”.

“Looking back through contemporaneous accounts was quite creepy,” says Jim Hedlund at the city’s state archive. “As many people died in two months as generally died in a whole year. I even found out that three of my forbears were buried on the same day.”

There were three main reasons why the flu hit this remote city so hard: Östersund had speedy railway connections, several army regiments stationed in close quarters and a malnourished population living in cramped accommodation. As neutral Sweden kept its armed forces on high alert between 1914 and 1918, the garrison town’s population swelled from 9,000 to 13,000.

By 1917, when navvies poured in and construction started on an inland railway to the north, widespread food shortages had led to violent workers’ demonstrations and a near mutiny among the army units.

The city became a hotbed of political activism. Its small size put the unequal distribution of wealth in early industrial society under the microscope. While working-class families crowded into insalubrious accommodation, wealthy tourists from other parts of Sweden and further afield came for the fresh mountain air and restorative waters – as well as the excellent fishing and elk hunting (passionate angler Winston Churchill was a regular visitor).

“The catastrophic spread of the flu was in no small part down to the authorities’ bewilderment and often clumsy reactions” – Hans Jacobsson, historian

“Many of the demonstrators’ concerns seem strikingly modern,” says Hedlund, pointing to a copy of a political poster that reads: “Tourists out of our buildings in times of crisis. Butter, milk and potatoes for workers!”

It wasn’t just the urban proletariat demanding better accommodation. At Sweden’s first ever national convention of the indigenous Sami peoples held in Östersund in early 1918, delegates demanded an end to discriminatory policies that forced them to live in tents.

Social inequality in the city meant the Spanish flu hit all the harder.

As the epidemic raged in late August, when around 20 people were dying daily, the city’s bank director Carl Lignell withdrew funds from Stockholm without authorisation and requisitioned a school for use as a hospital (the city didn’t have one).

View of Ostersund
‘You can drop your kids off at kindergarten on the way to work and be out hiking or skiing by late afternoon.’ Photograph: Sergei Bobylev/TASS Advertisement

“If it hadn’t been for him, Östersund might quite literally have disappeared,” says Hedlund. For a brief period, Lignell worked like a benevolent dictator, quarantining suspected cases in their homes – and revealing the squalor in which they lived.

As his hastily convened medical team moved through Östersund, they found whole families crowded into wooden shacks, just a few streets away from the proud, stone-built civic structures. In some homes, sick children lay on the floor for want of beds.

The local newspaper Östersunds-Posten asked rhetorically: “Who would have thought that in our fine city there could be such awful destitution?”

People of all political convictions and stations in life started cooperating in a city otherwise riven by the class divisions of early industrial society. Östersunds-Posten itself moved from simply reporting on the epidemic to helping to organise relief, publishing calls for money, food and clothing, and opening its offices for use as storerooms. The state had proven itself inadequate, as historian Hans Jacobsson wrote: “The catastrophic spread of the Spanish flu in 1918 was in no small part down to the authorities’ bewilderment and often clumsy reactions.”

“After the epidemic, the state made tentative steps towards a cooperative approach to social reform” – Jim Hedlund, archivist

He cites the fact that Stockholm High Command refused to halt planned military exercises for weeks, despite the fact that regimental sickbays were overflowing. “What is interesting is that, after the epidemic, the state dropped investigations against Lignell and made tentative steps towards a cooperative approach to social reform. Issues such as poor nutrition and housing were on the political agenda,” says Hedlund. Anyone trying to date the inception of Sweden’s welfare state cannot overlook the events of autumn 1918.

One hundred years on, there are few better places than Östersund to see the effects of Sweden’s much-vaunted social model. The city is once again growing rapidly, but nothing could seem further away than epidemics and political radicalism. The left of centre Social Democrats have been in power in city hall since 1994, and council leader AnnSofie Andersson has made housing a priority – new developments are spacious, well-ordered and equipped with schools and playgrounds.

“There’s nothing that shows confidence like building stuff,” she says. “In fact, our local authority building partnership should, in my view, keep a small excess of flats in hand, because without a reserve people won’t move here.”

Östersund attracts a net inflow of people from southern Sweden. “It’s partly a quality of life issue,” says Andersson. “You can drop your kids off at kindergarten in the morning on the way to work and be out hiking or skiing by late afternoon.”

The city has recovered from the relocation of the Swedish armed forces fighter jet squadron in the 1990s by playing to its strengths: sports and tourism. A university now occupies the old barracks with a special focus on sports materials and technology. The airbase has become a thriving airport, handling half a million passengers a year.

Despite the net inflow of working-age people however, Östersund is facing a demographic challenge as baby boomers begin to retire. The shortages are being felt most acutely at the regional health authority, which occupies the Epidemisjukhusthe building hastily converted into wards during the Spanish flu by Carl Lignell. Clinical staff are proving hard to find and retain, and the region’s health service is underfunded. Some residents still suggest solving that lack of funding from central government “the Jämtland way”, like Lignell once did.

History doesn’t repeat itself identically, though. Sweden’s consensus-orientated political model now tends to defuse conflict even in proud cities with a liking for mavericks. One of Andersson’s strategies for dealing with the approaching lack of labour, for instance, is cooperating with local and national institutions to train up the young refugees the city has welcomed since 2015.

“School starts tomorrow – for the last time,” confides Karl Karlsson to his journal on 4 September 1918. “I leave in spring and it feels melancholy. I like farming, but I would still prefer to continue at school and study. But it’s impossible.” Ten days later, he notes that his family’s food stores are running low. “We’re almost out of flour and bread, the barley hasn’t dried yet, and we shan’t get any more rations, everything is being requisitioned.”

One hundred years later, a city – and a society – once unable to educate or even feed its youth is now one of the world’s wealthiest and fairest.

Coronavírus e as quebradas: 16 perguntas ainda sem resposta sobre impacto da pandemia nas periferias (Periferia em Movimento)

Publicado porThiago Borges –

Precisamos falar sobre o novo coronavírus, mas sem pânico.

Nesta quinta-feira (12/03), o Brasil acordou com 52 pessoas infectadas pelo coronavírus e foi dormir com 69 casos confirmados. Em todo o mundo, são 122 mil casos confirmados e mais de 4.500 mortes registradas. A Organização Mundial da Saúde (OMS) declarou pandemia, isto é, o vírus deixou de ser restrito determinadas regiões e passa a ser uma questão de saúde pública global.

A taxa de mortalidade do novo vírus, ainda sem vacina, é considerada baixa – em torno de 3% dos casos – e atinge principalmente pessoas com maior vulnerabilidade, como idosos ou com doenças pré-existentes (como diabetes, câncer, etc.).

Com mais de 50 casos no País, o Ministério da Saúde do governo de Jair Bolsonaro alerta que a transmissão deve se dar de forma geométrica – isto é, deixa de ser restrita a pessoas que se infectaram em outras regiões do mundo e passa a acontecer no próprio território.

Segundo o Instituto Pensi do Hospital Infantil Sabará, após atingir 50 casos confirmados o total de infectados no Brasil pode aumentar para 4.000 casos em 15 dias e cerca de 30.000 depois de 21 dias.

Com isso, o vírus deve se expandir rapidamente nas próximas semanas e o Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS) precisaria de 3.200 novos leitos em UTI (Unidade de Terapia Intensiva) para dar conta da demanda – 95% dos 16.000 leitos de hoje já estão ocupados.

Dito isso, nós moradoras e moradores de periferias urbanas, povos da floresta e marginalizados em geral, precisamos nos atentar com as medidas de prevenção (confira no gráfico abaixo) mas também com efeitos colaterais dessa pandemia no nosso dia a dia.

Muito se fala no impacto da pandemia sobre a economia global. Mas em um País marcado por desigualdade social, machismo, racismo e LGBTfobia, com cortes em políticas públicas e desemprego recorde, o coronavírus tem potencial de impactar não apenas nossa saúde como também nossa frágil convivência em sociedade. Precisamos de solidariedade e vigilância nesse momento.

Por isso, a Periferia em Movimento faz 16 perguntas ainda sem resposta (a lista continua em atualização) sobre esse novo cenário:

1. As periferias vão receber recursos da saúde de forma proporcional às nossas necessidades?

2. O governo vai adotar medidas de confinamento ou restrição de circulação de pessoas?

3. Como fazer quarentena em área de aglomeração, como periferias e favelas?

4. Os governantes vão acionar a Polícia Militar pra controlar a população nas periferias?

5. Se rolar quarentena, quem vai dirigir os ônibus, fazer o pão de cada dia e entregar a comida do ifood no apartamento da classe média?

6. Com o desemprego recorde e o mercado informal em alta, pessoas que vivem de bico vão conseguir fazer dinheiro como?

7. Se as aulas forem suspensas, com quem ficarão as crianças que frequentam creches em período integral?

8. Sem aulas, sem merenda: estudantes em situação de insegurança alimentar vão passar fome se não forem pra escola?

9. Ainda sobre a suspensão das aulas, qual é o risco da explosão de casos de violência sexual contra crianças e adolescentes – que passarão mais tempo em casa?

10. O maior tempo em casa também aumenta o risco de mulheres sofrerem violência de seus companheiros?

11. E com mais pessoas com circulação restrita, o risco de conflitos em comunidades também aumenta?

12. Como os governantes avaliam as possibilidades de aumento em todos os tipos de violência com essa pandemia?

13. Como idosos em situação de vulnerabilidade serão assistidos pelo governo?

14. De que forma, a pandemia deve impactar a população em situação de rua?

15. Como ficam os presidiários, que já vivem em situações de aglomeração, tortura e com doenças que estão controladas no mundo externo?

16. E como serão atendidos os indígenas, que necessitam de estratégias específicas de saúde devido à menor imunidade a doenças transmitidas desde a invasão europeia ao continente americano?

Esta imagem possuí um atributo alt vazio; O nome do arquivo é catarse_-pem-_-stories.jpg

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ARTIGO: Pandemia de coronavírus é um teste de nossos sistemas, valores e humanidade (Nações Unidas Brasil)

Publicado em 13/03/2020. Atualizado em 13/03/2020

Em artigo publicado na imprensa internacional, a alta-comissária da ONU para direitos humanos, Michelle Bachelet, e o alto-comissário da ONU para refugiados, Filippo Grandi, afirmam que a doença provocada pelo novo coronavírus, a Covid-19, é um teste não apenas de nossos sistemas e mecanismos de assistência médica para responder a doenças infecciosas, mas também de nossa capacidade de trabalharmos juntos como uma comunidade de nações diante de um desafio comum.

“É um teste da cobertura dos benefícios de décadas de progresso social e econômico em relação aqueles que vivem à margem de nossas sociedades, mais distantes das alavancas do poder.”

Um jovem refugiado lava as mãos em Mafraq, na Jordânia, onde um sistema de aquecimento movido a energia solar, instalado com o apoio da IKEA Foundation e da Practical Action, ajuda a fornecer água quente. Foto: ACNUR/Hannah Maule-ffinch

Um jovem refugiado lava as mãos em Mafraq, na Jordânia, onde um sistema de aquecimento movido a energia solar, instalado com o apoio da IKEA Foundation e da Practical Action, ajuda a fornecer água quente. Foto: ACNUR/Hannah Maule-ffinch

Por Michelle Bachelet e Filippo Grandi*

Se nós precisávamos lembrar que vivemos em um mundo interconectado, o novo coronavírus tornou isso mais claro do que nunca.

Nenhum país pode resolver esse problema sozinho, e nenhuma parcela de nossa sociedade pode ser desconsiderada se quisermos efetivamente enfrentar este desafio global.

O Covid-19 é um teste não apenas de nossos sistemas e mecanismos de assistência médica para responder a doenças infecciosas, mas também de nossa capacidade de trabalharmos juntos como uma comunidade de nações diante de um desafio comum.

É um teste da cobertura dos benefícios de décadas de progresso social e econômico em relação aqueles que vivem à margem de nossas sociedades, mais distantes das alavancas do poder.

As próximas semanas e meses desafiarão o planejamento nacional de crises e os sistemas de proteção civil — e certamente irão expor deficiências em saneamento, habitação e outros fatores que moldam os resultados de saúde.

Nossa resposta a essa epidemia deve abranger e focar, de fato, naqueles a quem a sociedade negligencia ou rebaixa a um status menor. Caso contrário, ela falhará.

A saúde de todas as pessoas está ligada à saúde dos membros mais marginalizados da comunidade. Prevenir a disseminação desse vírus requer alcance a todos e garantia de acesso equitativo ao tratamento.

Isso significa superar as barreiras existentes para cuidados de saúde acessíveis e combater o tratamento diferenciado há muito tempo baseado em renda, gênero, geografia, raça e etnia, religião ou status social.

Superar paradigmas sistêmicos que ignoram os direitos e as necessidades de mulheres e meninas ou, por exemplo, limitar o acesso e a participação de grupos minoritários será crucial para a prevenção e tratamento eficazes do COVID-19.

As pessoas que vivem em instituições — idosos ou detidos — provavelmente são mais vulneráveis ​​à infecção e devem ser especificamente incluídas no planejamento e resposta à crise.

Migrantes e refugiados — independentemente de seu status formal — devem ser plenamente incluídos nos sistemas e planos nacionais de combate ao vírus. Muitas dessas mulheres, homens e crianças se encontram em locais onde os serviços de saúde estão sobrecarregados ou inacessíveis.

Eles podem estar confinados em abrigos, assentamentos, ou vivendo em favelas urbanas onde a superlotação e o saneamento com poucos recursos aumentam o risco de exposição.

O apoio internacional é urgentemente necessário para ajudar os países anfitriões a intensificar os serviços — tanto para refugiados e migrantes quanto para as comunidades locais — e incluí-los nos acordos nacionais de vigilância, prevenção e resposta. Não fazer isso colocará em risco a saúde de todos — e o risco de aumentar a hostilidade e o estigma.

Também é vital que qualquer restrição nos controles das fronteiras, restrições de viagem ou limitações à liberdade de movimento não impeça as pessoas que possam estar fugindo da guerra ou perseguição de acessar a segurança e proteção.

Além desses desafios muito imediatos, o coronavírus também testará, sem dúvida, nossos princípios, valores e humanidade compartilhada.

Espalhando-se rapidamente pelo mundo, com a incerteza em torno do número de infecções e com uma vacina ainda a muitos meses de distância, o vírus está provocando ansiedade e medos profundos em indivíduos e sociedades.

Sem dúvida, algumas pessoas sem escrúpulos procurarão tirar vantagem disso, manipulando medos genuínos e aumentando as preocupações.

Quando o medo e a incerteza surgem, os bodes expiatórios nunca estão longe. Já vimos raiva e hostilidade dirigidas a algumas pessoas de origem do leste asiático.

Se continuar assim, o desejo de culpar e excluir poderá em breve se estender a outros grupos — minorias, marginalizados ou qualquer pessoa rotulada como “estrangeira”.

As pessoas em deslocamento, incluindo refugiados, podem ser particularmente alvo. No entanto, o próprio coronavírus não discrimina; os infectados até o momento incluem turistas, empresários internacionais e até ministros nacionais, que estão localizados em dezenas de países, abrangendo todos os continentes.

O pânico e a discriminação nunca resolveram uma crise. Os líderes políticos devem assumir a liderança, conquistando confiança através de informações transparentes e oportunas, trabalhando juntos para o bem comum e capacitando as pessoas a participar na proteção da saúde.

Ceder espaço a boatos, medos e histeria não apenas prejudicará a resposta, mas poderá ter implicações mais amplas para os direitos humanos e para o funcionamento de instituições democráticas responsáveis.

Atualmente, nenhum país pode se isolar do impacto do coronavírus, tanto no sentido literal quanto econômico e social, como demonstram as bolsas de valores e as escolas fechadas.

Uma resposta internacional que garanta que os países em desenvolvimento estejam equipados para diagnosticar, tratar e prevenir esta doença será crucial para proteger a saúde de bilhões de pessoas.

A Organização Mundial da Saúde (OMS) está fornecendo experiência, vigilância, sistemas, investigação de casos, rastreamento de contatos, pesquisa e desenvolvimento de vacinas. É a prova de que a solidariedade internacional e os sistemas multilaterais são mais vitais do que nunca.

A longo prazo, devemos acelerar o trabalho de construção de serviços de saúde pública equitativos e acessíveis. E a maneira como reagimos a essa crise agora, sem dúvida, moldará esses esforços nas próximas décadas.

Se nossa resposta ao coronavírus estiver fundamentada nos princípios de confiança pública, transparência, respeito e empatia pelos mais vulneráveis, não apenas defenderemos os direitos intrínsecos de todo ser humano; usaremos e criaremos as ferramentas mais eficazes para garantir que possamos superar essa crise e aprender lições para o futuro.

*Michelle Bachelet é a alta-comissária da ONU para direitos humanos. Filippo Grandi é o alto-comissário da ONU para refugiados. Este artigo foi originalmente publicado no site The Telegraph.

Here’s Why Coronavirus And Climate Change Are Different Sorts Of Policy Problems (Forbes)

Editors’ Pick | Mar 15, 2020, 07:05pm EST

Nives Dolsak and Aseem Prakash

Contributor Green Tech

NETHERLANDS-HEALTH-VIRUS-TRANSPORT-AVIATION
Passengers wearing protective face masks stand at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, on March 13, 2020, amid an outbreak of COVID-19, the new coronavirus. Photo by OLAF KRAAK/ANP/AFP via Getty Images.

Climate protection and public health have striking similarities. The benefits of both can be enjoyed by everyone, even by individuals who do not contribute to the collective efforts to address these problems. If climate change slows down, both drivers of gas-guzzlers and electric cars will benefit – although the former did not help in climate efforts. Similarly, if the spread of Coronavirus is halted (the so-called flattening the curve), individuals who refused to wash their hands, as well as the ones who washed them assiduously, will enjoy the restored normal life.

Most countries have gotten their acts together, although belatedly, on Coronavirus. Citizens also seem to be following the advice of public health officials. Could then the Coronavirus policy model be applied to climate change? We urge caution because these crises are different, which means that policies that worked well for Coronavirus might not be effective for climate change.

Different Penalties for Policy and Behavioral Procrastination

Climate change is the defining crisis of our times. Floods, hurricanes, forest fires, and extreme weather events have become more frequent and severe over the years. Although climate change generates passionate discussions in big cities and university campuses, there is inadequate public clamor for immediate action. Some types of decarbonization policies are certainly in place. However, carbon-intensive lifestyles continue (with “flying shame” in Scandinavia being an exception). Today In: Green Tech

This policy lethargy and behavioral inertia are due to many reasons, including concerted opposition by the fossil fuel industry to deep decarbonization. But there are other reasons as well. Climate change is cumulative and does not have a quick onset. Its effects are not always immediate and visible. Many individuals probably do not see a clear link  between their actions and the eventual outcome. This reduces the willingness to alter lifestyles and tolerate personal sacrifices for the collective good.

In contrast, Coronavirus is forcing an immediate policy response and behavioral changes. Its causality is clear and its onset quick. Lives are at stake, especially in western countries. The stock markets are tanking, and the economy is heading towards a recession. Politicians recognize that waffling can lead to massive consequences, even in the short-term. Corona-skeptic President Trump has reversed course and declared a national emergency.

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In the US, there is federal inaction on climate change. But Coronavirus seems different. 2020 is a Presidential election year, and perhaps this motivates the federal government to (finally) act decisively so that Coronavirus does not become Hurricane Katrina type of political liability.

Spatial Optimism

Climate policies are hobbled by “spatial optimism,” whereby individuals believe that their risk of getting affected by climate change is less than for others. This reduces the willingness to tolerate personal sacrifices for deep decarbonization.

Coronavirus episode began with some level of spatial optimism in the Western world. After all, it was happening in China. But this confidence has quickly disappeared. Globalization means a lot of international travel and trade. China is the main global supplier of many products. Prominent companies such as Apple (AAPL) and Tesla (TSLA) depend on China for manufacturing and sales of their products. Spatial optimism has been overwhelmed by international travel as well as globalized supply chains and financial markets.

Belief in the Efficacy of Adaptation

Some might believe that climate change can be “managed.” Innovators will probably develop commercial-scale negative carbon technologies and societies will adapt to sea-level rise by building seawalls, or maybe relocating some communities to safer areas.

Coronavirus offers no such comfort. Unlike the seasonal flu, there is no vaccine (yet). It is difficult to adapt to the Coronavirus threat when you don’t know what to touch, where to go, and if your family members and neighbors are infected. Not to mention, how many rolls of tissue paper you need to stock before the supplies run out at the local grocery store.

Different Incentives to Attack Scientific Knowledge

On Coronavirus, citizens seem to be willing to follow the advice of public health professionals (at least when it comes to social distancing as reflected in empty roads and shopping centers). Every word of Dr. Anthony Fauci counts.

Why has this advice not drawn scorn from politicians who are suspicious of the “deep state”? After all, the same politicians attack scientific consensus on climate change.

Climate skeptics probably see substantial political and economic payoffs by delaying climate action. Stock markets have not penalized climate skepticism in the US: markets hit record high levels in the first three years of the Trump presidency. And, climate opposition is not leading to electoral losses. On the contrary, the climate agendas in liberal states, such as Oregon and Washington, have stalled.  

Nobody seems to gain by attacking scientific consensus to delay policy action on Coronavirus. Airlines, hospitality, and tourism industries, who have taken a direct hit from social-distancing policies, probably want the problem to be quickly addressed so that people can get back to their “normal” lives.

US politicians who talk about the “deep state,” may want Coronavirus issue resolved before the November 2020 election. Attacking science does not further their political objectives. After all, the looming recession and the stock market decline could influence the election outcomes.

Depth, Scale, and Duration of Changes

Climate policy will cause economic and social dislocation. Decarbonization means that some industries will shut down. Jobs will be lost, and communities will suffer unless “just transition” policies are in place.

Coronavirus policies will probably not cause long-term structural changes in the economy. People will resume flying, tourists will flock to Venice, Rome, and Paris, and the basketball arenas will again overflow with spectators.

However, some short-term measures could lead to long-term changes. For example, individuals may realize that telecommuting is easy and efficient. As a result, they may permanently reduce their work-related travel. Coronavirus may provide the sort of a “nudge” that shifts long-term behavioral preferences.

In sum, the contrast between the rapid response to Coronavirus and policy waffling on climate change reveals how citizens think of risk and how this shapes their willingness to incur costs for the collective good. Further, it suggests that politicians respect science when its recommendations serve their political ends.

Nives Dolsak is Stan and Alta Barer Professor in Sustainability Science and Director of the School of Marine & Environmental Affairs. Aseem Prakash is the Walker Family Professor and the Director of the Center for Environmental Politics. Both are at the University of Washington, Seattle.  

You’re witnessing the death of neoliberalism – from within (The Guardian)

What does it look like when an ideology dies? As with most things, fiction can be the best guide. In Red Plenty, his magnificent novel-cum-history of the Soviet Union, Francis Spufford charts how the communist dream of building a better, fairer society fell apart.

Even while they censored their citizens’ very thoughts, the communists dreamed big. Spufford’s hero is Leonid Kantorovich, the only Soviet ever to win a Nobel prize for economics. Rattling along on the Moscow metro, he fantasises about what plenty will bring to his impoverished fellow commuters: “The women’s clothes all turning to quilted silk, the military uniforms melting into tailored grey and silver: and faces, faces the length of the car, relaxing, losing the worry lines and the hungry looks and all the assorted toothmarks of necessity.”

But reality makes swift work of such sandcastles. The numbers are increasingly disobedient. The beautiful plans can only be realised through cheating, and the draughtsmen know it better than any dissidents. This is one of Spufford’s crucial insights: that long before any public protests, the insiders led the way in murmuring their disquiet. Whisper by whisper, memo by memo, the regime is steadily undermined from within. Its final toppling lies decades beyond the novel’s close, yet can already be spotted.

When Red Plenty was published in 2010, it was clear the ideology underpinning contemporary capitalism was failing, but not that it was dying. Yet a similar process as that described in the novel appears to be happening now, in our crisis-hit capitalism. And it is the very technocrats in charge of the system who are slowly, reluctantly admitting that it is bust.

You hear it when the Bank of England’s Mark Carney sounds the alarm about “a low-growth, low-inflation, low-interest-rate equilibrium”. Or when the Bank of International Settlements, the central bank’s central bank, warns that “the global economy seems unable to return to sustainable and balanced growth”. And you saw it most clearly last Thursday from the IMF.

What makes the fund’s intervention so remarkable is not what is being said – but who is saying it and just how bluntly. In the IMF’s flagship publication, three of its top economists have written an essay titled “Neoliberalism: Oversold?”.

The very headline delivers a jolt. For so long mainstream economists and policymakers have denied the very existence of such a thing as neoliberalism, dismissing it as an insult invented by gap-toothed malcontents who understand neither economics nor capitalism. Now here comes the IMF, describing how a “neoliberal agenda” has spread across the globe in the past 30 years. What they mean is that more and more states have remade their social and political institutions into pale copies of the market. Two British examples, suggests Will Davies – author of the Limits of Neoliberalism – would be the NHS and universities “where classrooms are being transformed into supermarkets”. In this way, the public sector is replaced by private companies, and democracy is supplanted by mere competition.

The results, the IMF researchers concede, have been terrible. Neoliberalism hasn’t delivered economic growth – it has only made a few people a lot better off. It causes epic crashes that leave behind human wreckage and cost billions to clean up, a finding with which most residents of food bank Britain would agree. And while George Osborne might justify austerity as “fixing the roof while the sun is shining”, the fund team defines it as “curbing the size of the state … another aspect of the neoliberal agenda”. And, they say, its costs “could be large – much larger than the benefit”.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde with George Osborne.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde with George Osborne. ‘Since 2008, a big gap has opened up between what the IMF thinks and what it does.’ Photograph: Kimimasa Mayama/EPA

Two things need to be borne in mind here. First, this study comes from the IMF’s research division – not from those staffers who fly into bankrupt countries, haggle over loan terms with cash-strapped governments and administer the fiscal waterboarding. Since 2008, a big gap has opened up between what the IMF thinks and what it does. Second, while the researchers go much further than fund watchers might have believed, they leave in some all-important get-out clauses. The authors even defend privatisation as leading to “more efficient provision of services” and less government spending – to which the only response must be to offer them a train ride across to Hinkley Point C.

Even so, this is a remarkable breach of the neoliberal consensus by the IMF. Inequality and the uselessness of much modern finance: such topics have become regular chew toys for economists and politicians, who prefer to treat them as aberrations from the norm. At last a major institution is going after not only the symptoms but the cause – and it is naming that cause as political. No wonder the study’s lead author says that this research wouldn’t even have been published by the fund five years ago.

From the 1980s the policymaking elite has waved away the notion that they were acting ideologically – merely doing “what works”. But you can only get away with that claim if what you’re doing is actually working. Since the crash, central bankers, politicians and TV correspondents have tried to reassure the public that this wheeze or those billions would do the trick and put the economy right again. They have riffled through every page in the textbook and beyond – bank bailouts, spending cuts, wage freezes, pumping billions into financial markets – and still growth remains anaemic.

And the longer the slump goes on, the more the public tumbles to the fact that not only has growth been feebler, but ordinary workers have enjoyed much less of its benefits. Last year the rich countries’ thinktank, the OECD, made a remarkable concession. It acknowledged that the share of UK economic growth enjoyed by workers is now at its lowest since the second world war. Even more remarkably, it said the same or worse applied to workers across the capitalist west.

Red Plenty ends with Nikita Khrushchev pacing outside his dacha, to where he has been forcibly retired. “Paradise,” he exclaims, “is a place where people want to end up, not a place they run from. What kind of socialism is that? What kind of shit is that, when you have to keep people in chains? What kind of social order? What kind of paradise?”

Economists don’t talk like novelists, more’s the pity, but what you’re witnessing amid all the graphs and technical language is the start of the long death of an ideology.

Gangbusters: How the Upsurge in Anti-Gang Tactics Will Hurt Communities of Color (Truthout)

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 00:00 By Josmar Trujillo, Truthout | News Analysis 

Shanice Farrar wants to honor her son and stop violence in her neighborhood. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)Bronx activist Shanice Farrar wants to honor her son, who was killed by police, and stop violence in her neighborhood. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Dozens of alleged gang members were arrested in December when police raids swept through public housing developments in the Bronx, following similar raids in September and July of 2015. A December multipart Daily News special investigation, packaged behind a “Gangs of New York” front-page cover, reported on the prevalence of gangs throughout New York City, even publishing a map detailing alleged “ganglands.” New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner Bill Bratton, in an op-ed published in the same edition, called the gang activity “violence for its own sake.”

As arrests and indictments pile up to form a media narrative of senseless violence and seemingly irredeemable youth, there are public housing and criminal justice reform advocates who want a different approach. They say that poverty is the underlying root cause of violence – one that cops and gang raids cannot solve.

Shanice Farrar, 42, is the mother of Shaaliver Douse, a teenager killed by cops in 2013 while, police say, he was chasing and shooting at another young man. Farrar is a single mother who has worked as a fire guard (someone who patrols areas lacking functioning fire protection systems) for almost eight years, at times working in the same Bronx public housing development, the Morris Houses, where she and her son lived. She always had dual concerns for Shaalie, as his friends called him: the neighborhood violence and the police who harassed him. She vividly remembers the night he didn’t come home. After calling and texting Shaalie’s phone all night, Farrar woke up on the morning of August 4, 2013, to the sounds of cops banging on her door. NYPD detectives told Farrar that her son had been killed in a shoot-out with police. They said Shaalie was shot in the face after ignoring orders to drop a gun.

Ray Kelly, the NYPD police commissioner at the time, said that Shaalie’s death was justified. Police said they had surveillance footage of him running with a gun. But footage released by the NYPD is incomplete. Images show a young man in a white shirt, purportedly Shaalie, chasing someone around a corner on 151st Street in the Melrose section of the Bronx. The confrontation with cops, where police claim he was told to drop the gun, isn’t seen. Farrar says she’s been denied access to other video angles, as well as the names of the rookie cops who shot her son.

Shaalie’s name and reputation were scrutinized immediately following his death. The newspapers’ presentation of his past arrests as an affirmation of his criminality weren’t fair to him or his family, Farrar says. The New York Daily News described Shaalie as a young man with a “growing rap sheet” and a follow-up story used unnamed sources to claim that Shaalie was, in fact, in a gang. Criminal charges her son was facing were bogus, Farrar insists. In 2012, Shaalie, then 13, was charged with attempted murder. Shaalie told his mom that he’d in fact been robbed at gunpoint by some boys from another housing complex. When cops showed up, everyone ran. Cops caught Shaalie, who didn’t want to cooperate. They told him that if he didn’t tell them whose gun it was, they’d pin the gun, which they found abandoned in some nearby grass, on him. Attempted murder charges were dropped to weapons possession charges when witnesses recanted. After several court dates, the judge in the case suggested that the whole case would soon be thrown out, Farrar says.

New York’s Turn Toward Gang Conspiracy Charges

Building criminal cases and indicting young men with gang conspiracy charges is quickly becoming a favored law enforcement approach in New York – one that’s getting more sophisticated. The NYPD and some of the city’s top prosecutors are targeting mostly young men, usually those living in public housing, with a blend of modern surveillance and conspiracy charges developed in the 1970s to take down the mafia. Raids are usually the final leg of the NYPD’s Operation Crew Cut, a police tactic that targets “crews” – a looser grouping of young people often compared to gangs – by building criminal cases often off of what is obtained from their online activity. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office has been involved in gang raids in East Harlem, indicting 63 men in 2013, and West Harlem, indicting 103 in 2014 – the city’s largest raid ever. Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson launched several smaller raids in the Bronx in 2015.

If attempts to get young people to turn away from violence can be described as either carrot or stick approaches, then Operation Ceasefire, a law enforcement initiative based largely on the work of John Jay College’s David Kennedy, is said to offer some carrots. With the help of Susan Herman, a former Pace University professor turned NYPD deputy commissioner, Kennedy’s ideas have gained traction at the police department under Bratton. Herman’s husband, John Jay College president Jeremy Travis, works with Kennedy and used to work for Bratton in the 1990s. With a nearly $5 million grant from the Department of Justice and early influence on the president’s national police reform agenda, Kennedy is one of the most in-demand criminal justice minds in the country.

Like Crew Cut, Ceasefire focuses on a small amount of alleged perpetrators, said to be responsible for a large portion of shootings and murders. This so-called “focused-deterrence” strategy also claims to offer pathways away from violence for suspected perpetrators as cops and community figures partner to dissuade young people from violence. A similar NYPD program focused on robberies, the Juvenile Robbery Intervention Program (J-RIP), has, even by police accounts, shown no effect. The Ceasefire model, perhaps, can differ from city to city. In New York, the chief of department sat down with alleged gang members, mandated to attend through parole agreements, to eat pizza and inform them that they’re being watched. In other cases, cops simply keep close tabs on who they say are the city’s most likely killers, busting them for small infractions like jaywalking. In the 12 precincts where Ceasefire is being formally implemented, shootings are down, but murders are up.

While Ceasefire ostensibly offers a multilayer approach, described by Bratton as a mix between “intensive enforcement” and “genuine offers of assistance,” there is a clear emphasis on the enforcement side as police efforts “pretty much hang a sword over (gang members’) heads.”

“Look, if you or your gang is involved in violent activities then we’re all going to come after you. It’s not just going to be local authorities but the feds and we’ll try to get you every which way we can,” Bratton warned. “When we get them convicted, we get them shipped off to federal prisons so they’re not going to be able to hang out with all their buddies up in the state prisons.”

Criticisms of the Ceasefire Approach to Policing

Alex Vitale, an associate professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, says that some of the city’s efforts to fight violence seem “contradictory” and make little sense. “On the one hand, we’ve seen small increases in the amount of money being devoted to community-based violence reduction efforts in the form of peer violence interrupters and increased services for high-risk youth,” he told Truthout. “On the other hand, the city has invested heavily in new policing strategies that rely on intensive punitive enforcement measures targeting these same populations of young people.” Vitale believes that the law enforcement approach can “actually disrupt the efforts of community-based groups to encourage young people off the streets and into school and employment.”

Programs like Crew Cut and Ceasefire “rely on threats and punishment” and often “run counter to the efforts to reduce youth crime,” Vitale said. He thinks violence intervention work and community-based peer violence mediation offer much more promising alternatives without hinging on police raids or lengthy prison sentences. “Intensive policing undermines those efforts and destabilizes the relationships they are building with these young people,” he added. Wraparound social services, and not gang raids, should be the focus, Vitale says, because poor communities “need more access to real resources that can provide these young people real avenues out of poverty and despair.”

Shaaliver Douce was killed a few yards from his high school. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)Shaaliver Douce was killed a few yards from his high school. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Lessons From New Orleans

Ethan Brown is a licensed investigator in Louisiana. He works on the defense side of drug cases in New Orleans and moved there from New York in 2007. Brown is a critic of Ceasefire and of Kennedy, whom he describes as “this generation’s George Kelling” (a prominent criminologist who is credited with developing the “broken windows” theory of policing). Brown says New Orleans’ supposed success with its own Ceasefire-style efforts, which it launched in 2012, isn’t necessarily backed up by the numbers. Post-Katrina New Orleans has been the murder capital of the United States almost every year. It had the highest murder rate for a US city every year between 2000 and 2011, except for 2005. Brown says that despite dedicating tremendous police resources to fight violence, the city has only seen a modest reduction in the murder rate.

New Orleans offers an interesting test case, since the city has also employed a historically abusive police force – creating a barrier between police and the community with which they’re supposed to collaborate. In 2012, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) was placed under a federal consent decree after authorities described the police there as “lawless.” Federal investigations had gone back to the 1990s, but the monitoring program was an overt acknowledgement that the department could not reform itself.

The stories were the stuff of nightmares. Henry Glover was killed by cops in 2005, a few days after Hurricane Katrina struck. His body was found shot and burned inside a car, the fire used as a cover-up by police officers. The infamous Danziger Bridge incident, where NOPD cops shot six people, killing two, and lied that they had been shot at, invited national outrage. There was also the tale of Melvin “Flattop” Williams, the infamously aggressive Black cop ultimately convicted of killing an unarmed man in 2012, fracturing his ribs and rupturing his spleen.

In 2010, a new mayor, Democrat Mitch Landrieu, became the first white mayor of New Orleans since 1978, when Moon Landrieu, his father, ran the city. Landrieu’s administration brought with it promises of police reform and a new police chief, Ronal Serpas. While Serpas was expected to deal with the controversial misconduct and killings at the NOPD, he instead sought to tackle the murder rate. In 2012, he and Landrieu brought in Kennedy to help form “NOLA for Life,” an anti-violence initiative built largely on the Ceasefire model. Reductions in the murder rate seemed promising, falling in 2013 and 2014. However, the murder rate rose again in 2015. And, in fact, murders had already begun to fall from 2011 to 2012, before NOLA for Life. Other cities, like Los Angeles, have seen similarly mixed results. Boston, where Ceasefire originated, initially had big drops in murders, but saw those numbers climb again as the model proved unsustainable.

While NOLA for Life promotes an inspiring array of “carrots,” like job postings and mentoring, the law enforcement “stick” was more like a “bazooka” in New Orleans, according to Brown. “Since 2012, there’ve been an extraordinary number of gang indictments. The sentences that people face are immense, like ones you’d give to drug cartels,” he told Truthout. Brown also thinks that police and prosecutors are casting too wide a net when gangs are targeted.

“The notion of a ‘crew’ or ‘gang’ affiliation is spread so wide, the definition becomes completely elastic,” he said. In this regard, Brown sees business as usual. “[Ceasefire] is presented as some radically new law enforcement approach … but actually, particularly at the federal level, these things have been going on for decades,” he said. And the “carrot” side of the equation? “The cure is unspecified social services that no one has been able to figure out.”

More Sticks Than Carrots

A 2007 Justice Policy Institute report by Judith Greene and Kevin Pranis found not only that the Ceasefire model failed to deliver on some of its violence-reducing claims, but also that the “carrot” side of the model “always lagged behind the suppression side,” or the “stick.” Greene and Pranis criticized the broader gang enforcement tactics that operate on the suppression end as “ineffectual, if not counterproductive.” Specifically, the report points to efforts of police to intensely target gang “leaders” as problematic because destabilizing gangs, which can produce new leaders, can also risk more violence.

Resources spent on gang suppression include money spent on arrests, prosecutions and jail terms. Neighborhood costs include young people being carted off to jail for things they may or may not have done, or simply said they might do, and serving long sentences in prisons – where gangs thrive – only to come home in as bleak a situation as they went in. More importantly, however, is that the police-community partnership narrative that Ceasefire promotes hinges on a questionable equivalency of power between police and community, which can affect how resources are divvied up. Public and private funding made available for social services, or “carrots,” will likely go to groups with established, deferential relationships with law enforcement. In other words, law enforcement is always in control.

Benny, 31, grew up in the Morris Houses in the Bronx. He says the hunt for gangs is unfair to people who live in the community and grow up together, especially young men. “Black lives do matter. When you grow up in a neighborhood like this, they judge you. You see this group right here,” he said, pointing to a group of men and women hanging out on nearby benches. “They’ll consider this like gang activity, even though all we did was grow up together. Next thing you know they’ll be hitting you with conspiracy [charges].” On an unusually warm Friday afternoon in December, people are sitting around on park benches. People of all ages, from teenage boys to older women pushing shopping carts, stop to talk and laugh.

“They’re taking my friends and they’re not helping,” a young woman named Daisy said about police. Daisy, 19, was Shaalie’s friend. She mourned not only Shaalie’s death, but also that of Jujuan Carson, a 19-year-old friend of hers and Shaalie’s who was just killed in November 2015. “They still haven’t found the person who killed Jujuan, but yet they indicted his friends the day before his funeral,” she said angrily. Daisy says she doesn’t trust police. “Whatever comes out of their mouths are lies.”

Jumping to Conclusions About Gang Activity

The Morris Houses stretch down the east side of the Metro North railroad, which runs along Park Avenue, separating them from the Butler and Morris senior houses on the other side. The New York Daily News’ gang map lists “Washside” as an active gang based in the Morris Houses. Farrar objects to that label. “Washside” is the name some Morris kids identify with, but isn’t an actual gang, she says. While she doesn’t deny gun violence, she vividly remembers how her son was characterized as a gang member for all sorts of reasons. If he posted a picture of himself pointing to a new pair of sneakers or holding a new belt, people would say that those were gang hand signs. “Shaalie’s World,” the words on shirts and sweaters Farrar made after Shaalie’s death, is now rumored to be a gang.

Shaalie’s friends often make tributes to him in songs and on social media. Farrar worries that law enforcement may be deliberately conflating a song, tweet or Instagram post with a sign of gang activity. Amateur music videos that mention Shaalie or refer to “Washside” are probably being collected as cops and prosecutors build cases on more young men, she suspects. In 2015, a Brooklyn man was sentenced to 12 life sentences for a string of murders after prosecutors used rap lyrics of songs he posted on YouTube against him.

“I feel it’s like a cycle. That’s how I feel. It’s like this shit is designed for you to either end up dead or in jail,” Benny said as he tested out his new remote-controlled helicopter. “Right now, my little brother got 10 years for conspiracy,” he said. “It’s guilt by association, who you hang with.” Benny knows police are surveilling them, using all of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and NYPD cameras posted around the neighborhood. “I could be chillin’ with you, you makin’ money, but you been my man since we was kids, and now they taking pictures of us. Let me walk out here with a hoodie tonight and watch me get stopped five times.” Farrar quickly jumps in to recall how Shaalie started wearing hoodies after the death of Trayvon Martin, the Florida boy killed by a neighborhood vigilante. “They really killed him because he was wearing a hoodie, ma?” she recalled him asking.

The Morris Houses are the targets of national gang enforcement trend. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)The Morris Houses are the targets of a national gang enforcement trend. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Farrar, like many of her neighbors, is distrustful of the police and of these new efforts to target alleged gang members. Sitting at some park benches near her building on Washington Avenue, about a mile from where Shaalie died, she and her friends talk about the neighborhood and both the violence and poverty that plague it. For them, poverty is inextricable from the violence – which is something police can’t solve.

“The Kids Need Somewhere to Play”

While Farrar will be the first to agree that youth violence is a problem, the neighborhood’s antagonistic relationship with cops puts them between a rock and a hard place. It was the police, she says, who locked up the basketball courts for two months during the summer. She points at the fence, describing how people were forced to cut and crawl through openings just to play basketball. If cops locked up the courts to prevent violence, then they failed to do even that, some say. A man walks over and says closing the park “wasn’t the solution.” “Now you make it worse,” said the man, who didn’t want to be identified. “Now they got nothin’ to do. Now all they gon’ do is fight now.”

“The kids need somewhere to play,” said Dee, a 35-year-old trainer and boxer who used to train Shaalie. He wants the younger generation to come off of the street and stop fighting with each other, but he says they need resources. He recalls block parties when he was younger that have since become too few and far between. The city-funded health tables and community programming nowadays are directed at very young children and the elderly, not the teens and young adults most susceptible to violence. Worse yet is that programs are limited in scope and time: “They go from like 10 [am] to 12 [pm] and that’s it,” Dee said.

Ms. Betty is 58 and has raised three boys in the Morris Houses. “They’ve got nothing for them to do, that’s our problem. If they find something to do, maybe they’ll stop fighting each other,” she said. For her, the lack of fully functioning community centers contributes to the violence. “It doesn’t make sense. Families got to be crying over their kids and kids fighting for no reason.” While she feels that police are needed, she’s taken aback at the way cops crack down on many in the neighborhood just for hanging out around the buildings. “We just want to be out here like normal people,” she said. She recalls playgrounds inexplicably closed and benches removed from the front of buildings. Asked about the city’s efforts to lease some NYCHA property for private development, she says what the neighborhood needs is an expanded community center. “That don’t make no sense. And they know that.”

Once a basketball court, an empty lot sits in the Morris Houses development. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

Once a basketball court, an empty lot sits in the Morris Houses development. (Photo: Lyssy Pastrana)

“I gave my son a lot of attention. But my son was the child of a single parent who felt his mother, you know, was struggling too hard,” Farrar told Truthout. Asked about the Black Lives Matter movement, Farrar is supportive of marches and protests in response to police killings, but she’s also painfully aware of the fact that many may not jump to stand behind her son’s life because of the questions around his case. Shaalie’s funeral was attended by Constance Malcolm and Frank Graham, the parents of Ramarley Graham, a young man fatally shot by cops who chased him into his grandmother’s house. However, few others in the anti-police brutality movement have made her pain their pain. Asked about the future of the movement, Farrar wants the scope to extend beyond cops. “I’d like Black Lives Matter to help the community come together, do things for kids, help stop the beefing,” Farrar said.

During a march that Farrar and her friends put together a few years back in memory of Shaalie, some of his friends began to chant “Fuck the police, RIP Shaalie” to the cops walking alongside. These were Shaalie’s friends, all from the surrounding buildings. Farrar pulled out her camera phone and kept watch of the cops as the march continued to the spot Shaalie died. The group, too large for the sidewalk, formed a big circle. A police car pulled up and a cop insisted the event clear out because it was blocking the road. Farrar told them they wouldn’t be going anywhere until they were done. They released white balloons into the sky and promised never to forget Shaalie’s name.

Josmar Trujillo is an activist and organizer with New Yorkers Against Bratton. Follow him on Twitter: @Josmar_Trujillo.

Comissão mista discutirá posição do Brasil em torno de novo acordo do clima (Agência Senado)

A COP 21 será realizada em Paris no final deste ano com a missão de chegar a um acordo global sobre mudanças climáticas para substituir o Protocolo de Kyoto

A Comissão Mista Permanente sobre Mudanças Climáticas (CMMC) promoverá na quarta-feira (29) audiência pública sobre a COP 21 e as possibilidades de negociações em torno de um novo acordo climático global.

Foram convidados para o debate o embaixador José Antonio Marcondes de Carvalho, subsecretário-geral de Meio Ambiente, Energia, Ciência e Tecnologia do Ministério das Relações Exteriores; Tasso Azevedo, coordenador do Observatório do Clima; e um representante do Ministério do Meio Ambiente.

Na Conferência das Partes (COP), são realizados os encontros dos países que assinaram os acordos sobre biodiversidade e mudanças climáticas na Rio 92.

A COP 21 será realizada em Paris no final deste ano com a missão de chegar a um acordo global sobre mudanças climáticas para substituir o Protocolo de Kyoto, de 1997. O acordo deve entrar em vigor em 2020 e a conferência deve adotar um tratado que inclua todos os países.

O Protocolo de Kyoto não foi assinado pelos Estados Unidos, o que desobrigou os países em desenvolvimento de reduzir as emissões de gases de efeito estufa, responsáveis pelo aquecimento global e pelas mudanças climáticas.

A audiência pública começa às 14h30, na sala 13 da Ala Senador Alexandre Costa.

(Agência Senado)

http://www12.senado.leg.br/noticias/materias/2015/04/24/comissao-mista-discutira-posicao-do-brasil-em-torno-de-novo-acordo-do-clima

Mudanças Climáticas – Plano de adaptação sai até julho e terá metas (Observatório do Clima)

7/4/2015 – 12h18

por Clauido Angelo, do Observatóri do Clima

Izabella Teixeira fala em São Paulo. Foto: MMA

Conservação e recuperação de ecossistemas serão adotadas como medidas para atenuar impactos da mudança climática

A ministra do Meio Ambiente, Izabella Teixeira, prometeu nesta quinta-feira (23/04) que o país terá um plano nacional de adaptação às mudanças climáticas em consulta pública até julho. E afirmou que é “claro” que ele terá metas.

“Você já viu plano sem meta? Não é plano, é carta de intenção”, declarou a ministra a jornalistas, durante o seminário Gestão de Água em Situações de Escassez, encerrado nesta sexta-feira em São Paulo.

Embora não tenha adiantado que metas serão essas, a ministra afirmou que, no caso da água, elas dialogarão com o Plano Nacional de Segurança Hídrica e com o CAR (Cadastro Ambiental Rural), que estabelece os parâmetros para a recuperação de áreas degradadas e desmatadas, como matas ciliares – fundamentais para a manutenção dos recursos hídricos.

“As pessoas degradam as nascentes a 200 quilômetros daqui e acham que não tem consequência”, disse Izabella. “Tem CAR para ser feito, vamos recuperar nascentes, cabeceiras de rio, tem que fazer o que outros países fizeram”, prosseguiu, citando a experiência de Nova York. A megalópole americana evitou uma crise hídrica ao pagar fazendeiros de uma região montanhosa próxima para preservar as matas ciliares em torno dos rios onde a água da cidade é captada.

O Plano Nacional de Adaptação estabelecerá as medidas que o Brasil deverá adotar ao longo dos próximos anos para evitar os piores efeitos das mudanças climáticas. Vários países têm inserido metas para adaptação em suas INDCs (Contribuições Nacionalmente Determinadas Pretendidas), as propostas de combate ao aquecimento global que cada país está fazendo para o acordo de Paris, no fim do ano.

A lógica é que, mesmo que o mundo tenha sucesso em cortar emissões de carbono, muitos efeitos da mudança do clima são inevitáveis e as sociedades devem adaptar-se a eles.

No Brasil, conforme indicam dados do estudo Brasil 2040, que até março vinha sendo conduzido pela Secretaria de Assuntos Estratégicos, esses efeitos incluem redução de áreas agrícolas e de vazão de rios que alimentam algumas das principais hidrelétricas do país, na Amazônia e no Sudeste/Centro-Oeste.

Conduzido pelo Ministério do Meio Ambiente, o PNA (Plano Nacional de Adaptação à Mudança do Clima) deverá propor ações em pelo menos dez grandes áreas: energia, zona costeira, recursos hídricos, desastres naturais, segurança alimentar/agropecuária, ecossistemas, cidades, transporte e logística, indústria e saúde.

O desenho preliminar do plano vinha sendo criticado dentro do próprio governo por não conter metas objetivas – apenas diretrizes gerais para a elaboração de metas de adaptação pelos Estados. O esboço do capítulo de Ecossistemas, por exemplo, fazia uma recapitulação de políticas públicas já existentes e traçava uma série de diretrizes genéricas, como “incluir a perspectiva de adaptação à mudança do clima nos Planos de Prevenção e Controle do Desmatamento e no Plano de Recuperação da Vegetação Nativa”. Ainda não se sabe como ficará o plano final para que ele não seja apenas uma “carta de intenções”, como definiu a ministra do Meio Ambiente.

Resiliência verde

Um dos elementos que deverão integrar o PNA é a chamada adaptação baseada em ecossistemas. Trata-se de uma série de medidas de baixo custo para usar serviços de ecossistemas como escudo contra impactos da mudança do clima.

Um caso clássico dessa modalidade de adaptação é a recuperação de manguezais como forma de proteger zonas costeiras de ressacas, que estão ficando mais fortes devido à elevação do nível do mar.

“É muito mais vantajoso do que construir estruturas de concreto, como quebra-mares”, disse Guilherme Karam, da Fundação Grupo Boticário de Proteção à Natureza. Ele é coautor de um estudo publicado no ano passado pela fundação e pelo Iclei – Governos Locais pela Sustentabilidade que identifica oportunidades de adaptação baseada em ecossistemas para o Brasil.

O estudo mapeou cem experiências dessa modalidade de adaptação no mundo todo, 11 delas no Brasil, e mostrou que é possível adotar ações em ecossistemas em todas as áreas do PNA. Isso é especialmente evidente em cidades, onde o reflorestamento pode ajudar a mitigar enchentes e ilhas de calor urbanas, em desastres naturais e em água e energia – por meio da restauração de áreas de preservação permanente.

No caso da água, aponta Karam, a recuperação de áreas naturais dá mais resultado do que investimentos na chamada “infraestrutura cinza” (obras de engenharia) e a um custo menor. Nem sempre isso é verdade, porém, alerta o pesquisador: há casos na Ásia nos quais se constatou que a infraestrutura cinza dá mais resultado, apesar de custar muito mais, então o ideal é combinar as duas abordagens.

O Ministério do Meio Ambiente decidiu incorporar as recomendações do estudo ao plano nacional. (Observatório do Clima/ #Envolverde)

* Publicado originalmente no site Observatório do Clima.

Câmara aprova projeto que torna lei a Política Nacional de Combate à Seca (Agência Câmara Notícias)

JC 5125, 26 de fevereiro de 2015

Proposta lista diversas ações que caberão ao poder público, como o mapeamento dos processos de desertificação e degradação ambiental e a criação de um sistema integrado de informações de alerta quanto à seca

O Plenário da Câmara dos Deputados aprovou nesta quarta-feira (25) o Projeto de Lei 2447/07, do Senado, que torna lei a Política Nacional de Combate à Desertificação e Mitigação dos Efeitos da Seca e cria a Comissão Nacional de Combate à Desertificação (CNCD). Devido às mudanças, a matéria retorna ao Senado.

O projeto foi aprovado na forma de um substitutivo da Comissão de Meio Ambiente e Desenvolvimento Sustentável, elaborado pelo ex-deputado Penna (PV-SP). O texto original era do ex-senador Inácio Arruda.

Desde 1997, o Brasil já conta com uma Política Nacional de Controle da Desertificação, aprovada pelo Conselho Nacional do Meio Ambiente (Conama) e surgida após a ratificação da Convenção Internacional das Nações Unidas de Combate à Desertificação, de 1996.

De acordo com o substitutivo, são vários os objetivos da política nacional, entre os quais destacam-se o uso de mecanismos de proteção, preservação, conservação e recuperação dos recursos naturais; o fomento de pesquisas sobre o processo de desertificação; a educação socioambiental dos atores sociais envolvidos na temática; e o apoio a sistemas de irrigação socioambientalmente sustentáveis em áreas que sejam aptas para a atividade.

Para cumprir os objetivos, o poder público deverá seguir várias diretrizes, como gestão integrada e participativa dos entes federados e das comunidades situadas em áreas suscetíveis à desertificação no processo de elaboração e de implantação das ações.

Devem ser observados ainda aspectos como a incorporação e valorização dos conhecimentos tradicionais sobre o manejo e o uso sustentável dos recursos naturais e a articulação com outras políticas (erradicação da miséria e reforma agrária, por exemplo).

Ações públicas
O substitutivo lista diversas ações que caberão ao poder público, tais como o mapeamento dos processos de desertificação e degradação ambiental; sistema integrado de informações de alerta quanto à seca; capacitação dos técnicos em extensão rural para a promoção de boas práticas de combate à desertificação; implantar tecnologias de uso eficiente da água e de seu reuso na produção de mudas para reflorestamento; e implantar sistemas de parques e jardins botânicos e bancos de sementes para a conservação de espécies adaptadas à aridez.

Emenda aprovada pelo Plenário, do deputado Moses Rodrigues (PPS-CE), prevê ainda a perfuração de poços artesianos onde houver viabilidade ambiental para isso.

Outra emenda do deputado trata do estímulo à criação de centros de pesquisas para o desenvolvimento de tecnologias de combate à desertificação.

Já emenda do deputado Sibá Machado (PT-AC) determina que os planos de prevenção e controle do desmatamento servirão de instrumento para a política nacional.

Comissão nacional
A comissão nacional, que funciona atualmente com base em decreto do Executivo federal, terá natureza deliberativa e consultiva e fará parte da estrutura regimental do Ministério do Meio Ambiente.

Compete à comissão promover a integração das estratégias, acompanhar e avaliar as ações de combate à desertificação, propor ações estratégicas e identificar a necessidade e propor a criação ou modificação dos instrumentos necessários à execução da política nacional.

Semiárido
No Brasil, as principais áreas suscetíveis à desertificação são as regiões de clima semiárido ou subúmido seco, encontrados no Nordeste brasileiro e norte de Minas Gerais.

Essa região abrange 1.201 municípios, em um total de 16% do território e incorpora 11 estados: Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Espírito Santo, Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte e Sergipe. A região também concentra 85% da pobreza do País.

Durante o debate do projeto em Plenário, alguns deputados avaliaram que a Política Nacional de Combate à Seca também poderá dar uma resposta para o cenário de falta d’água na região Sudeste.

Continua:

Íntegra da proposta: PL-2447/2007

(Eduardo Piovesan / Agência Câmara Notícias)

http://www2.camara.leg.br/camaranoticias/noticias/POLITICA/482281-CAMARA-APROVA-PROJETO-QUE-TORNA-LEI-A-POLITICA-NACIONAL-DE-COMBATE-A-SECA.html

Vídeo mostra como o Brasil monitora os riscos de desastres naturais (MCTI/INPE)

JC 5125, 26 de fevereiro de 2015

Os sistemas de monitoramento e prevenção de seus impactos no Brasil também integram o vídeo educacional lançado pelo INCT-MC

Os desastres naturais e os sistemas de monitoramento e prevenção de seus impactos no Brasil são tema do vídeo educacional lançado pelo Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia para Mudanças Climáticas (INCT-MC).

material integra o projeto de difusão do conhecimento gerado pelas pesquisas realizadas durante os seis anos de vigência do INCT-MC (2008-2014), sediado no Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (Inpe/MCTI).

Dirigido a educadores, estudantes de ensino médio e graduação, e formuladores de políticas públicas, o vídeo traz informações sobre as causas do aumento do número de desastres naturais nos últimos anos e como o País está se preparando para prevenir e reduzir os prejuízos nos diversos setores da sociedade. Pesquisadores e tecnologistas do Centro Nacional de Monitoramento e Alertas de Desastres Naturais (Cemaden/MCTI) mostram como é feito o monitoramento de áreas de risco 24 horas por dia. Também são apresentadas as dimensões humanas, ou seja, como os desastres interferem e prejudicam a vida das pessoas e como o surgimento de novos cenários de risco pode e deve ser evitados.

Até junho, serão concluídos outros cinco vídeos educacionais, abordando temas relacionados às pesquisas do INCT para Mudanças Climáticas: segurança alimentar, segurança energética, segurança hídrica, saúde e biodiversidade.

Portal

O conhecimento produzido durante seis anos de pesquisas realizadas no âmbito do INCT para Mudanças Climáticas está sendo reunido em um portal na internet, a ser lançado neste semestre. O ambiente virtual oferecerá conteúdos com linguagem adequada para os diversos públicos de interesse: pesquisadores, educadores, estudantes (divididos por faixas etárias) e formuladores de políticas públicas. O material estará organizado em seis grandes áreas temáticas: segurança alimentar, segurança energética, segurança hídrica, saúde humana, biodiversidade e desastres naturais.

Leia mais.

(MCTI, via Inpe)

http://www.mcti.gov.br/noticias/-/asset_publisher/IqV53KMvD5rY/content/video-mostra-como-o-brasil-monitora-os-riscos-de-desastres-naturais

Crise da água em SP: Especialistas apontam cenários para quando a água acabar e lições a serem tomadas pelo colapso estadual (Brasil Post)

Publicado: 21/01/2015 11:29 BRST  Atualizado: 21/01/2015 11:53 BRST 

MONTAGEMCRISEDAAGUA

Promessa de campanha do governador Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB), a falta de água em São Paulo é uma realidade há meses em diversos pontos do Estado. Na semana passada, ele admitiu que há sim racionamento (diante da repercussão, tentou voltar atrás), algo que a população – sobretudo a dos bairros mais carentes – já sabia. O que também já se sabe é que, sim, a água vai mesmo acabar. Se não chegar a zerar, terá níveis baixíssimos que afetarão a vida de todos, a partir de março.

Os especialistas ouvidos pelo Brasil Post viram com bons olhos o fato de que o governo paulista, com atraso, reconheceu o racionamento. Também aprovaram a aplicação de multa contra aqueles que consomem muita água – embora a medida, tardia, devesse ser uma política sempre presente, e não para ‘apagar incêndios’ como agora. Contudo, o cenário que se colocará com a chegada do período de estiagem, entre o fim de março e começo de abril, se estendendo até outubro, vai requerer novos hábitos, seja dos gestores ou da população.

“Quando acabar a água serão interrompidas atividades que não são consideradas essenciais, com cortes para o comércio, para a indústria e o fechamento de locais com muito uso de água, como shoppings, escolas e universidades”, analisou o professor Antonio Carlos Zuffo, especialista na área de recursos hídricos na Unicamp. Parece exagerado, mas não é. Segundo o jornal O Estado de S. Paulo desta quarta-feira (21), os seis mananciais que abastecem 20 milhões de pessoas na Grande São Paulo têm registrado déficit de 2,5 bilhões de litros por dia em pleno período no qual deveriam encher para suprir os meses de seca.

Já em 2002, a Saneas, revista da Associação dos Engenheiros da Companhia de Saneamento Básico do Estado de São Paulo (AESabesp), publicava um texto no qual apontava “uma inegável situação de estresse hídrico”, a qual podia “ter um final trágico, com previsões de escassez crônica em 15 anos”. A Agência Nacional de Águas (ANA) apontava, na outorga de uso do Sistema Cantareirade 2004, que era preciso diminuir a dependência desse sistema. Em plena crise, na tentativa de renovação em 2014, havia uma tentativa de aumentar, e não diminuir, o uso do Cantareira. Ou seja, algo impraticável e ignorando as previsões. Não, a culpa não é de São Pedro.

“Hoje a situação é muito pior que no ano passado. Em janeiro de 2014 tínhamos 27,2% positivos no Cantareira, hoje temos 23,5% negativos. Ou seja, consumimos 50% do volume nesse período. Mantida a média de consumo, a água acaba no fim de março. É preciso lembrar que janeiro é o mês com maior incidência de chuva em SP, seguido por dezembro. No mês passado, choveu 25% a menos do que a média. Esse mês só choveu 22%, 23% da média. A equação é simples: não vai ter água para todo mundo”, completou Zuffo.

Informação e transparência

Para a ambientalista Malu Ribeiro, da ONG SOS Mata Atlântica, a demora em admitir o óbvio por parte das autoridades trouxe mais prejuízos do que benefícios ao longo dos últimos 13 meses. “A sociedade precisa ter a noção clara da gravidade dessa crise. Quando as autoridades passam certa confiança, como era o caso do governo Alckmin, a tendência é que não se alerte da forma necessária e as pessoas se mantenham em uma situação confortável. Muita gente não acredita na proporção dessa crise, muito se agravou e agora é preciso cautela”, avaliou.

As mudanças na Secretaria de Recursos Hídricos e na presidência da Companhia de Saneamento Básico do Estado de São Paulo (Sabesp), com as entradas de Benedito Braga e Jerson Kelman, respectivamente, também foram benéficas, já que colocam em posições estratégicas dois especialistas no tema. Entretanto, isso não basta. A necessidade de discutir a gestão da água sob o âmbito estratégico, algo muito teórico e pouco prático no Brasil, é vista como fundamental em tempos de crise.

“Há ainda muita ocupação em áreas de mananciais, por exemplo. Então vemos que o comportamento, apesar da crise não ser nova, não mudou. Veja em Itu, onde eu moro, onde a crise foi muito pior e, agora que choveu um pouco, as pessoas acham que não precisam mais poupar, que tudo voltou ao normal. O combate ao desperdício deve ser permanente e temos de ter prevenção. É preciso doer no bolso, por isso a multa deve ser permanente”, disse Malu.

“A falta de informação resultou em uma insegurança, sem informar à população sobre o seu papel na crise. A ONU já apontava que a década entre 2010 e 2020 seria da água, e não por acaso, mas no Brasil há uma timidez nesse sentido. É preciso mudar essa cultura de abundância que se tem no Sudeste e desenvolver um plano estratégico, com mais poder aos comitês de bacia. É absurdo o desperdício de água na agricultura, e isso não é discutido. É hora de acordar”, completou a ambientalista.

‘Água cara’ veio para ficar

De acordo com os especialistas, a crise da água expõe também um cenário já esperado, já que a Terra passa por ciclos alternados entre seca e chuvas a cada 30 anos. O atual, iniciado em 2010 e que segue até 2040, será recheado de períodos de seca em regiões populosas, quadro a se inverter apenas daqui a 25 anos. Assim, é preciso mudar hábitos, antes de mais nada. Mesmo em tempos de calor excessivo, há quem ainda não tenha se dado conta disso.

“Muita gente se vê alheia ao problema e, com o calor, acaba correndo para compras piscininhas e usa a água para o lazer. O Carnaval que está chegando também ajuda a tirar o cidadão comum do foco, como ocorreu durante as eleições. Isso não é mais possível. Há a responsabilidade dos gestores, mas também é preciso que o cidadão se atente ao seu papel, sob pena de termos novas ‘cidades mortas’, como no Vale do Paraíba ou no Vale do Jequitinhonha, onde os recursos naturais foram exauridos”, afirmou Malu.

E que ninguém se anime com a promessa da Sabesp de que ainda há uma terceira cota de 41 bilhões de litros do volume morto do Cantareira, cujo uso deve ser solicitado pelo governo paulista junto à ANA nos próximos dias. “Sabemos que 45% do Cantareira que não é captado é volume morto. A terceira cota restante não é toda ela captável. Teríamos com ela mais uns 10%, suficiente só para mais algumas semanas”, comentou Zuffo.

Medidas sugeridas ao longo da crise, o reuso da água e a dessalinização são medidas caras e que dependem de outros aspectos para serem implementadas – e, com o possível racionamento de energia elétrica, podem não sair do papel. Ou seja, não são a solução a curto prazo. O uso de mais água de represas como a Billings (com sua notória poluição) também dependem de obras – outro entrave para quem gostaria de não ver a falta de água por dias seguidos se tornar uma realidade por meses a fio. Sem chuva, só há um caminho a seguir.

“Há uma variabilidade cíclica natural, que nada tem a ver com o aquecimento global, mas não temos engenharia para resolver a questão no curto prazo. Temos é que ter inteligência para nos adaptar e reduzir de 250 litros para 150 litros, ou ainda menos, o consumo de água por cada pessoa. Há países europeus em que o uso não passa de 60 litros/pessoa. É preciso usar menos e tratar a água de maneira que ela possa ser reutilizada. Tudo depende de tecnologia e novos hábitos”, concluiu Zuffo.

LEIA TAMBÉM

– Brasil desperdiça 37% da água tratada, aponta relatório do governo federal

– Ao invés de seguir a lei federal, governo Alckmin promete brigar na Justiça para sobretaxar consumo

– Especialistas sugerem menos obras e mais políticas de reflorestamento para gestão de recursos hídricos

– Professor da Unicamp afirma que volume captado do Sistema Cantareira tinha de ter sido reduzido há anos

Grupo de especialistas divulga previsão do clima para o próximo trimestre (MCTI)

Na primeira reunião de 2015 do Grupo de Trabalho em Previsão Climática Sazonal do Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação, pesquisadores alertam que haverá chuvas abaixo da média no Norte e Nordeste e acima da média no Sul do País

Chuvas abaixo da média na região Semiárida do Nordeste e na região Norte do Brasil, com possibilidade de queimadas e incêndios em Roraima, e continuidade de precipitação acima da média na região Sul. Essas são as tendências climáticas para os próximos três meses (fevereiro, março e abril). Elas foram apresentadas nesta sexta-feira (16) na primeira reunião de 2015 do Grupo de Trabalho em Previsão Climática Sazonal (GTPCS) do Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação (MCTI).

Paulo Nobre, pesquisador do Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (Inpe/MCTI), atribuiu os resultados da avaliação do grupo à continuidade do fenômeno El Niño. “Temos uma condição sazonal dessas três regiões onde é possível hoje cientificamente e tecnologicamente fazer essas previsões”, afirmou o especialista que conduziu as atividades do primeiro encontro do GTPCS.

Participam do grupo de trabalho, instituído pelo MCTI em novembro de 2013, as principais lideranças na área de previsão climática no País. A cada mês os especialistas se reúnem para traçar prognósticos para o trimestre seguinte. O objetivo é dar subsídios aos tomadores de decisões sobre o cenário climático que se aproxima.

O secretário de Políticas e Programas de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento do MCTI, Carlos Nobre, alertou que a previsão climática para o próximo trimestre inspira atenção. “O Brasil está vivendo um momento de diferentes extremos climáticos em diferentes partes do país com impactos na economia e na sociedade”, destacou o secretário que também coordena do GTPCS. “As informações geradas pelo grupo de trabalho alimentam imediatamente ministérios e a presidência da República para que sejam tomadas as medidas necessárias.”

Na abertura do encontro, que aconteceu pela primeira vez em Brasília, o ministro da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação, Aldo Rebelo, enfatizou a importância de haver previsão climática de curto prazo. “O trabalho dos pesquisadores do GTPCS já contribuiu no ano passado para reduzir os danos da seca no Nordeste e das enchentes em Rondônia”, exemplificou.

Participam do grupo pesquisadores do Centro de Previsão de Tempo e Estudos Climáticos (CPTEC) do Inpe; do Centro de Ciência do Sistema Terrestre (CCST); do Centro Nacional de Monitoramento e Alertas de Desastres Naturais (Cemaden/MCTI); e do Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (Inpa/MCTI). A cada reunião um dos membros conduzirá as atividades. Nesta sexta, o meteorologista Paulo Nobre, pesquisador do Inpe, coordenou os trabalhos.

Para outras regiões do país não há previsibilidade climática, a exemplo do Sudeste. “O Nordeste, por exemplo, é a região com maior previsibilidade sazonal porque tem a dependência do Oceano e um tempo de variação bem lento. Na região Sudeste, o que causa chuva são as frentes frias que tem um tempo de previsibilidade de uma semana, no máximo duas”, explica Paulo Nobre, pesquisador do Inpe. No limite do conhecimento científico o que se pode afirmar é que as chuvas continuarão abaixo da média neste período.

Acesse aqui o relatório completo emitido pelo GTPCS.

(MCTI)

http://www.mcti.gov.br/visualizar/-/asset_publisher/jIPU0I5RgRmq/content/grupo-de-especialistas-divulga-previsao-do-clima-para-o-proximo-trimestre?redirect=/&

CNPq cria Rede para otimizar produção de animais em laboratórios (JC)

Rebiotério prevê estimular produção e assegurar qualidade nos biotérios

Ao mesmo tempo em que corre para desenvolver métodos alternativos a fim de reduzir o número de animais em testes de laboratórios –  pela chamada Rede Nacional de Métodos Alternativos (RENAMA) – o governo decidiu criar uma Rede para adequar a produção em biotérios de todos os animais para propósitos científicos e didáticos, como ratos, camundongos e coelhos.

A intenção é atender de forma adequada e organizada à demanda nacional. O entendimento é de que o uso de animais ainda é imprescindível nos testes in vivo e que hoje existe um desequilíbrio entre a oferta e a procura no País, em razão do aumento considerável da produção científica nacional.

Na  prática, o Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), principal agência financiadora de pesquisa experimental do País, criou a chamada Rede Nacional de Biotérios de Produção de Animais para Fins Científicos, Didáticos e Tecnológicos (Rebiotério), informou Marcelo Morales, diretor da área de Ciências Agrárias, Biológicas e da Saúde do CNPq e que comandará a rede, com exclusividade ao Jornal da Ciência.

A Rebiotério, segundo Morales, vai mapear, monitorar,   otimizar e dar suporte à produção de animais utilizados em experimentos científicos e em sala de aula. Todos  os biotérios distribuídos pelo País serão cadastrados na rede. Para Morales, essa é uma tentativa de atender aos anseios da comunidade científica pela pesquisa de qualidade envolvendo animais.

Sem querer estimar o número de animais produzidos hoje em laboratórios, para fins científicos, Morales destaca a atual necessidade da produção qualificada de animais em biotérios de produção para atender a demanda científica. Hoje, segundo disse, pesquisadores aguardam na fila um período de dois a cinco meses para receber animais com qualidade (principalmente os desprovidos de patógenos, Specific Pathogen Free – SPF) e que possam ser utilizados em experimentos científicos.  Atualmente,  a produção com qualidade é vinculada apenas a alguns biotérios que os produzem para atender as próprias necessidades e poucos são aqueles que produzem para outras Instituições.   Além disso, a importação desses animais se torna inviável, diante de barreiras sanitárias e do alto custo de importação.

No caso de roedores, responsáveis por cerca de 70% do total de animais utilizados em pesquisas científicas, Morales afirmou que a necessidade estimada de produção é de 5 milhões/ano desses animais.

Normas e legislações 

Além de propor políticas de fomento para a produção de animais em biotérios qualificados, a Rebiotério prevê, ainda, acompanhar a implementação efetiva de normas e legislações especificas adotadas para uso de animais em experimentos científicos, conjuntamente com o  Conselho Nacional de Controle de Experimentação Animal (Concea). Deverá também estimular a qualidade de produção nos  biotérios e atender aos padrões internacionais de boas práticas de bem-estar animal.

Outra função é assegurar o controle sanitário e genético, averiguando o nível de patógenos, por exemplo, e reforçar os padrões éticos adotados para os animais produzidos em biotérios.

Capacitação profissional

Para garantir a qualidade de produção dos biotérios, a Rebiotério terá o papel, dentre outros, de estimular a capacitação e qualificação de profissionais da área no exterior e no Brasil (bioteristas, veterinários, pesquisadores e etc). Assim, garantir que a produção de animais seja compatível com os padrões internacionais.

“Nossa intenção é fortalecer a produção de animais de experimentação, com ética e qualidade, fazendo com o que o País torne-se referência nessa área no mundo”, disse Morales, também professor associado da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), ex-coordenador do Conselho Nacional de Controle de Experimentação Animal (Concea) e ex-presidente da Sociedade Brasileira de Biofísica (SBBF).

Para fazer frente a tais desafios, o CNPq aprovou a viabilidade de parcerias internacionais que possam assegurar a produção sustentável e de qualidade nos biotérios. A intenção é ampliar o interesse de empresas internacionais, com expertise em tal área, que hoje já organizam e negociam instalação no Brasil.

Segundo Morales, a parceria com empresas estrangeiras pode ser por intermédio de transferência de tecnologia relacionada às práticas modernas de bioterismo; e pelo apoio à formação de pesquisadores e técnicos brasileiros dessa área no exterior.

Sem querer entrar no mérito do orçamento do CNPq, Morales informou que a qualificação desses profissionais pode ocorrer também pelas bolsas do Programa Ciência sem Fronteiras.

Composição da Rebiotério

Além do CNPq, a Rebiotério será composta pela comunidade científica, pela Secretaria de Políticas e Programas de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento do Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação (Seped/MCTI); e Secretaria de Ciência, Tecnologia e Insumos Estratégicos do Ministério da Saúde (SCTIE), do Ministério da Saúde. Terá ainda participação do Conselho Nacional de Controle de Experimentação Animal (CONCEA), órgão vinculado ao MCTI, e de membros da Finep (Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos).

Da comunidade científica, haverá representantes da Sociedade Brasileira de Ciência em Animais de Laboratórios (SBCAL), da Sociedade Brasileira para o Progresso da Ciência (SBPC), da Academia Brasileira de Ciências (ABC) e do Conselho Nacional das Fundações Estaduais de Amparo à Pesquisa (Confap).

“Nossa intenção é que a rede tenha uma abrangência nacional”, observa Morales.

(Viviane Monteiro/ Jornal da Ciência)

Without swift influx of substantial aid, Ebola epidemic in Africa poised to explode (Science Daily)

Date: October 23, 2014

Source: Yale University

Summary: The Ebola virus disease epidemic already devastating swaths of West Africa will likely get far worse in the coming weeks and months unless international commitments are significantly and immediately increased, new research predicts.

Artist’s conception (stock illustration). Credit: © Jim Vallee / Fotolia

The Ebola virus disease epidemic already devastating swaths of West Africa will likely get far worse in the coming weeks and months unless international commitments are significantly and immediately increased, new research led by Yale researchers predicts.

The findings are published in the Oct. 24 issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

A team of seven scientists from Yale’s Schools of Public Health and Medicine and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Liberia developed a mathematical transmission model of the viral disease and applied it to Liberia’s most populous county, Montserrado, an area already hard hit. The researchers determined that tens of thousands of new Ebola cases — and deaths — are likely by Dec. 15 if the epidemic continues on its present course.

“Our predictions highlight the rapidly closing window of opportunity for controlling the outbreak and averting a catastrophic toll of new Ebola cases and deaths in the coming months,” said Alison Galvani, professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health and the paper’s senior author. “Although we might still be within the midst of what will ultimately be viewed as the early phase of the current outbreak, the possibility of averting calamitous repercussions from an initially delayed and insufficient response is quickly eroding.”

The model developed by Galvani and colleagues projects as many as 170,996 total reported and unreported cases of the disease, representing 12% of the overall population of some 1.38 million people, and 90,122 deaths in Montserrado alone by Dec. 15. Of these, the authors estimate 42,669 cases and 27,175 deaths will have been reported by that time.

Much of this suffering — some 97,940 cases of the disease — could be averted if the international community steps up control measures immediately, starting Oct. 31, the model predicts. This would require additional Ebola treatment center beds, a fivefold increase in the speed with which cases are detected, and allocation of protective kits to households of patients awaiting treatment center admission. The study predicts that, at best, just over half as many cases (53,957) can be averted if the interventions are delayed to Nov. 15. Had all of these measures been in place by Oct. 15, the model calculates that 137,432 cases in Montserrado could have been avoided.

There have been approximately 9,000 reported cases and 4,500 deaths from the disease in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea since the latest outbreak began with a case in a toddler in rural Guinea in December 2013. For the first time cases have been confirmed among health-care workers treating patients in the United States and parts of Europe.

“The current global health strategy is woefully inadequate to stop the current volatile Ebola epidemic,” co-author Dr. Frederick Altice, professor of internal medicine and public health added. “At a minimum, capable logisticians are needed to construct a sufficient number of Ebola treatment units in order to avoid the unnecessary deaths of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people.”

Other authors include lead author Joseph Lewnard, Martial L. Ndeffo Mbah, Jorge A. Alfaro-Murillo, Luke Bawo, and Tolbert G. Nyenswah.

The National Institutes of Health funded the study.


Journal Reference:

  1. Joseph A Lewnard, Martial L Ndeffo Mbah, Jorge A Alfaro-Murillo, Frederick L Altice, Luke Bawo, Tolbert G Nyenswah, Alison P Galvani. Dynamics and control of Ebola virus transmission in Montserrado, Liberia: a mathematical modelling analysis. Lancet Infectious Diseases, October 24, 2014 DOI:10.1016/S1473-3099(14)70995-8

Cruz Vermelha prevê ao menos quatro meses para controlar ebola (Agência Brasil)

A epidemia já causou mais de 4,5 mil mortes na África Ocidental

A epidemia de ebola vai demorar pelo menos quatro meses para ser contida se todas as medidas necessárias forem tomadas, disse hoje (22) o responsável geral da Cruz Vermelha, Elhadj As Sy, alertando para “o preço da inação”. A epidemia já causou mais de 4,5 mil mortes na África Ocidental e os especialistas alertam que a taxa de infecção poderá chegar a 10 mil por semana no início de dezembro.

Ainda não há vacina aprovada para o ebola, que também atingiu profissionais da saúde na Espanha e nos Estados Unidos.

Elhadj As Sy listou uma série de medidas que poderiam ajudar a colocar o ebola sob controle, incluindo “um bom isolamento, bom tratamento dos casos confirmados, e bom, seguro e digno enterro às pessoas falecidas”. “Será possível, como era possível no passado, conter esta epidemia dentro de quatro a seis meses” se a resposta for adequada, acrescentou.

“Eu acho que esta é a nossa melhor perspectiva e nós estamos fazendo todo o possível para mobilizar nossos recursos e nossas capacidades para travar o surto”, destacou. As Sy, que falava em uma conferência da Cruz Vermelha da Ásia-Pacífico, acrescentou que “há sempre um preço pela inação”.

Novas medidas serão adotadas hoje nos Estados Unidos, entre as quais os voos dos países mais afetados – Libéria, Serra Leoa e Guiné-Conacri – serão encaminhados para cinco aeroportos e os passageiros passarão por exames mais completos de saúde.

Entretanto, especialistas que escrevem para a revista The Lancet, disseram, na terça-feira (21), que a triagem dos passageiros nos aeroportos de saída seria uma opção melhor do que monitorá-los no destino da viagem.

(Agência Lusa / Agência Brasil)

http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/internacional/noticia/2014-10/cruz-vermelha-serao-necessarios-pelo-menos-quatro-meses-para-controlar

Comissão de Meio Ambiente pode aprovar incentivo fiscal para reúso de água (Agência Senado)

A medida incentiva a reutilização de água não potável, para evitar que água tratada seja usada, por exemplo, para irrigação de jardins, lavagem áreas públicas

A Comissão de Meio Ambiente, Defesa do Consumidor e Fiscalização e Controle (CMA) se reúne na terça-feira (28), às 10h, e pode votar projeto que concede redução de 75% do Imposto de Renda e isenção da contribuição de PIS/Pasep e Cofins para empresa que produzir ou distribuir água de reúso.

A medida incentiva a reutilização de água não potável, para evitar que água tratada seja usada para irrigação de jardins, lavagem áreas públicas, desobstrução de tubulações e combate a incêndios.

Para esses casos, poderá ser feita a reutilização de água proveniente de esgoto e de demais efluentes líquidos domésticos e industriais, desde que dentro de padrões definidos para as modalidades de uso pretendidas.

O projeto (PLS 12/2014), do senador Aloysio Nunes Ferreira (PSDB-SP), é voltado a empresas que fazem a adequação a esses padrões e a distribuição dessa água reaproveitada, como forma de reduzir seu custo e ampliar sua utilização nas cidades brasileiras.

Depois de analisada pela CMA, a proposta vai à Comissão de Assuntos Econômicos (CAE), para decisão terminativa.

Licença ambiental de instalação

A pauta da CMA, formada por 26 itens, inclui ainda projeto (PLS 401/2013) que torna obrigatória a inclusão da licença ambiental de instalação entre os documentos que devem constar de edital para licitação de obra pública.

A lei em vigor obriga que, ao lançar um edital para licitação de obras públicas, o governo inclua nos anexos o projeto básico aprovado e as licenças ambientais prévias, entre outros documentos. Já a licença de instalação é exigida da empresa vencedora da licitação, como condição para o início das obras do projeto.

Para Aloysio Nunes, a facilidade de concessão de licenças prévias e a deficiência dos projetos básicos resultam com frequência na paralisação de obras já licitadas, por problemas na obtenção da licença de instalação.

A exigência dessa licença ainda no edital, diz ele, contribuirá para melhorar a qualidade dos projetos e obrigará os órgãos ambientais a analisar esses projetos de forma mais criteriosa.

A matéria também será analisada pela Comissão de Constituição, Justiça e Cidadania (CCJ).

(Iara Guimarães Altafin / Agência Senado)

http://www12.senado.gov.br/noticias/materias/2014/10/23/comissao-de-meio-ambiente-pode-aprovar-incentivo-fiscal-para-reuso-de-agua

Contrary to image, city politicians do adapt to voters (Science Daily)

Date: July 29, 2014

Source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Summary: Political scientists have long wondered whether city governments in the U.S. are really responsive to their voters. Aren’t local governments simply mired in machine politics, or under the sway of local big-money interests? Does ideology matter? Now a uniquely comprehensive study has produced a pair of distinctive findings: first, that the policies of city governments do closely match the politics of their citizens, and second, that this occurs regardless of the exact form of government than a city has.


Political scientists have long wondered whether city governments in the U.S. are really responsive to their voters. Aren’t local governments simply mired in machine politics, or under the sway of local big-money interests? Does ideology matter?

Now a uniquely comprehensive study co-authored by an MIT political scientist has produced a pair of distinctive findings: first, that the policies of city governments do closely match the politics of their citizens, and second, that this occurs regardless of the exact form of government than a city has.

That means that urban governance is more flexible, adaptable, and representative than the popular image might suggest. It also indicates that the link between public opinion and policy outcomes in municipal government is independent of whether it is led by a mayor, a town council, or selectmen, or uses direct referendums as opposed to indirect representatives.

“Politics doesn’t look quite as different at the local level as people thought it did,” says Chris Warshaw, an assistant professor of political science at MIT, and an author of a new paper detailing the findings of the study.

The research is singularly broad, examining the policies of every U.S. city and town with a population of 20,000 or more. It breaks new ground by extensively examining, on the municipal front, what researchers have found to be true of federal and state governments: that the views of the people usually matter significantly in shaping political action.

Or, as the researchers say in their new paper on the subject, there is a “robust role for citizen policy preferences in determining municipal policy outcomes.”

All politics is not just local, but ideological

The paper, “Representation in Municipal Government,” appears in the latest issue of the American Political Science Review. It was written by Warshaw and Chris Tausanovitch, an assistant professor of political science at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The study links data from seven large-scale surveys, taken from 2000 through 2011, each of which asked 30,000 to 80,000 American voters their views on a wide range of policy questions. To further enhance the measurement of policy preferences among voters, the researchers also incorporated models that estimate preferences based on demographic and geographic information, and looked at other data, such as on presidential vote results in cities and towns.

The study examined 1,600 American municipalities. San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington ranked as the most liberal cities with 250,000 or more people, while Mesa, Ariz., Oklahoma City, and Virginia Beach, Va., were rated as the most conservative.

To see if voter preferences matched the policies that municipal governments enacted, Warshaw and Tausanovitch used a wide variety of data sources to rate the policy choices enacted by local governments, often involving spending and taxes. “The substantively consequential policies are the ones we look at,” Warshaw says.

The researchers also controlled for cities’ fiscal health, since well-off municipalities can afford to spend more on public projects and regulations than poorer towns and cities.

Even accounting for such factors, Warshaw and Tausanovitch found that liberal cities tend to both tax and spend more, while having “less regressive tax systems,” with a lower share of revenues from sales taxes. This strong correlation, they found, persists whatever the form of local government.

So while people like to say that “all politics is local,” Warshaw thinks we should amend that view. The notion that “idiosyncratic local political battles, about zoning, land, growth, and fixing potholes, is the core of city politics,” as he puts it, is not quite wrong; it’s just that the battles over such things also occur within the same ideological spectrum that applies to state and federal politics.

Room for more research

Warshaw notes that more research could be conducted on the causal mechanisms that make cities broadly responsive to public opinion. “My hope is this will inspire other people to go out and fill in those mechanisms,” he says.

Methodologically, he suggests, the variation in the structures of city governments, among other things, might allow scholars to further compare and contrast otherwise similar groups of municipalities.

“Given that we know the powers of cities vary a lot in different states, an obvious piece of variation to explore is that in states that give more discretion to cities, you [might] get different outcomes,” Warshaw says. “By utilizing that variation across the country, you can start to get into those questions.”

10 reasons to be hopeful that we will overcome climate change (The Guardian)

From action in China and the US to falling solar costs and rising electric car sales, there is cause to be hopeful

theguardian.com, Wednesday 30 July 2014 05.00 BST

Indian workers walk past solar panels at the 200 megawatts Gujarat Solar Park at Charanka in Patan district, India, Saturday, April 14, 2012.

Indian workers walk past solar panels at the 200 megawatts Gujarat Solar Park at Charanka in Patan district, India, Saturday, April 14, 2012. Photograph: Ajit Solanki/AP

For the last few months, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have been at record levels unseen in over 800,000 years. The chairman of the IPCC, an international panel of the world’s top climate scientists, warned earlier this year that“nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change”.

Future generations will no doubt wonder at our response, given the scale of the threat.It’s known that death, poverty and suffering await millions, and yet governments still vacillate.

But solutions are available. Here are ten reasons to be hopeful that humans will rise to the challenge of climate change.

1) Barack Obama has made it one of his defining issues

Any politician who runs as the personification of hope is bound to be a bit of a let down. And so it seemed for five long, hot years. Barack Obama inaugurated his first US presidential term by promising to “roll back the spectre of a warming planet”. Yet he seemed unable (or willing) to even roll back the ghosts haunting his Congress. Now, as he staggers into his legacy-building stage, Obama has confronted and even circumvented Congress. His emissions caps on coal power stations, announced last month were the culmination of a massive public relations push and scientific blitzkriegwith Obama as its champion, potentially making the next presidential election a referendum on climate change action.

Obama speaks at the 2014 State of the Union. Sitting behind him on the right is Republican congressional leader John Boehner, who said in May “that every proposal that has come out of this administration to deal with climate change involves hurting our economy and killing American jobs”

2) China has ordered coal power plants to close

Just a day after the launch of Obama’s big crackdown on coal, He Jiankun, a top Chinese government climate advisor told Reuters, “The government will use two ways to control CO2 emissions in the next five-year plan, by intensity and an absolute cap”. This was the first time the promise of limiting absolute emissions had emerged from a source close to the Chinese leadership (even if He was later forced to disown the comments).

The response of world’s largest emitter of carbon has the potential to be swift and decisive, given its centrally controlled economy. Responding to smog-tired residents in China’s cities, the government has ordered a mass shutdown of coal plants within a few years. Coal control measures now exist in 12 of the country’s 34 provinces.Greenpeacehave estimated that if these measures are implemented, it could bring China’s emissions close to the level the International Energy Agency says are needed to avoid more than 2C warming.

China's project coal consumption with coal control measures

China’s project coal consumption with coal control measures Photograph: /Greenpeace

3) The cost of solar has fallen by two thirds

According to the authoritative IEA thinktank, the price of installing photovoltaic (solar electricity) systems dropped by two thirds over the past six years. The resulting solar explosion has generated a “prosumer” market, in which the owners of homes and businesses are taking ownership of a growing proportion of the energy supply. During June in Australia’s “sunshine state” of Queensland the price of electricity fell below zero for several days, largely thanks to the input from privately-owned solar panels. The UK, Germany and other European nations smashed their record solar outputs over this year’s summer solstice.

4) People are taking their money out of fossil fuels

Dozens of cities, institutions and investors are taking their money out of fossil fuel companies after the launch of a divestment campaign in the US around 18 months ago. Similar campaigns were used in the past to hamstring apartheid South Africa and tobacco companies, but this one is happening faster than any of those. Supporters of the movement include former US vice president Al Gore, who says fossil fuel companies are overvalued because they cannot burn the assets they own if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change. “Investors have so far been slow to appreciate the implications for the carbon-intensive assets within their portfolios.”

CO2 emissions potential of listed fossil fuel reserves

CO2 emissions potential of listed fossil fuel reserves Photograph: Carbon Tracker

5) Bangladeshi women are being retrained as solar technicians

The UN says global warming will impact more women than men because they make up the majority of the world’s poor. Close to two billion people rely on wood, charcoal and agricultural waste for cooking and heating. The primary gatherers of this toxic, labour- and carbon-intensive energy source are women. Thus, the education and social emancipation of women could be one of the greatest catalysts for grassroots climate action. Bangladeshi women who previously lived without electricity have beenretraining as solar technicians to bring power to the country’s 95 million people who live without electric light. The country now has the fastest growing solar sector in the world with 2 million households fitted with solar power units.

6) Renewable energy will soon take the lion’s share of new power

Falling technology prices, innovation and some decent government initiatives have seen renewables taking an increasing share of global electricity generation. After stalling through the early part of last decade, the increase is now inexorable. The sector, flushed with confidence, has begun to attract the kind of sustained investment growth of which most industries can only dream. In 2013 investors contributed US$268.2 billion to renewable projects – 5 times more than in 2004. The average growth of US$24 billion per year is in the same ball park as the riotous expansion of venture capital during the late 90s dot com bubble, except it has already lasted five time longer. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that by 2030 spending on renewable energy sources could make up two thirds of a global energy spend of US$7.7 trillion.

See: New power generation

7) European homes are using 15% less energy than they were in 2000

In every part of the world (barring the Middle East) governments are taking advantage of the cheapest way to bring down their emissions – by saving energy. Energy efficient housing and appliances have seen global household emissions drop almost 1% per year, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but a 1% drop over a year is equivalent to every resident of New York going completely off grid. In the EU, households reduced their consumption by 15.5% between 2000 and 2011. In the developing world, where urban populations are booming and millions of new homes will need to be built, the IPCC has said there is a “window of opportunity” to create sustainable housing for the future. Since 2009, the United Nations’ Sushi programme has been training local builders and planners in Thailand, Brazil, India and Bangladesh to use low cost energy efficient building practices for social housing projects.

Lilac co-housing project in Bramley, Leeds

The Low Impact Living Affordable Community in Bramley, Leeds. Photograph: Andy Lord

8) Cutting emissions has become a business imperative

A recent WWF/Ceres report found that the 53 US Fortune 100 companies who report their emissions had cut their carbon footprint by 58 million megatonnes in 2012 – roughly equivalent to the total emissions of Peru. This was achieved mainly through energy efficiency measures, although switching to green energy sources was also a factor. These measures are turning out to be not just cost effective but actually a business imperative. Each megatonne reduction saved an average of US$19 – a total of US$1.1 billion across just 53 companies. In the UK, tyre manufacturer Michelin has dropped its £20 million energy bill by 20% in five years by employing energy managers. “[Climate] adaptation is just good business,” say analysts from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

9) Oil is becoming much more expensive to find

Oil and gas companies are finding it increasingly expensive to find and extract their buried gravy. The Wall Street Journal reported in January the total capital expenditure of fossil giants Chevron, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell grew to £70 billion in 2013, yet all three have experienced huge declines in production relative to cost as their budgets are stretched by the need to open new wells in challenging environments. Off the coast of Brazil, huge oil fields lie more than 5km beneath the deep ocean floor. Despite the world’s largest corporate spending programme (£138 bn), national driller Petrobras is being driven towards the wall by the crippling expense of drilling so deep.

One area where the shift from Promised Land to land of compromise has been exemplified is the Arctic. Oil companies see the region’s melting sea ice as a fine opportunity to recover vast untapped reserves. But the costs of exploring the region have proved too great for Shell, who after spending £5bn, have shelved their exploration in the region. Many other companies, although notably not Russian behemoth Gazprom, have ruled out Arctic exploration in the foreseeable future. “I don’t think we’ll see any oil production in the Arctic any time soon. Probably not this decade and not the next,” Lundin Petroleum chairman Ian Lundin said in February. “The commercial challenges are too big.”

Drilling for oil in the Arctic has proved costly for Shell

Drilling for oil in the Arctic has proved costly for Shell Photograph: Design Pics Inc/REX

10) Electric car sales are doubling each year

Since 2011 electric car sales have doubled every year. Consumer acceptance of the technology is on an exponential growth curve that researchers say will see more than one million such vehicles driven across the world by the end of 2015. Five years ago, the technology was a quirky, futuristic gimmick lacking any serious impact on the global car market. Questions were raised about its price competitiveness. But in Norway, one in every hundred cars is now electric. Beyond the oft-enlightened Norse, the technology has a growing foothold in the US (which is by far the largest single market with 174,000 cars), Japan (68,000) and China (45,000).

German chancellor Angela Merkel next to the new BMW i3 electric car

German chancellor Angela Merkel next to the new BMW i3 electric car Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters/REUTERS

É possível descarbonizar o planeta até 2050 (Instituto Ethos)

24/7/2014 – 12h20

por Jorge Abrahão*

shutterstock 129374378 É possível descarbonizar o planeta até 2050

Relatório mostra como países mais poluidores (o Brasil entre eles) podem baixar drasticamente a concentração de carbono em suas atividades até 2050.

Enquanto nós e o mundo acompanhávamos a Copa do Mundo, um relatório elaborado pelo Instituto do Desenvolvimento Sustentável e Relações Internacionais (Iddri, na sigla em francês) e pela Rede de Soluções do Desenvolvimento Sustentável (SDSN, na sigla em inglês), que conta com a participação do economista Jeffrey Sachs, foi entregue ao secretário-geral da ONU, Ban-Ki Moon.

O documento mostrou pela primeira vez como os 15 países mais poluidores do mundo (o Brasil entre eles) podem baixar drasticamente a concentração de carbono em suas atividades até 2050 e, com isso, contribuir para que a temperatura do planeta não aumente 2 graus centígrados.

O relatório, que ainda não é definitivo, tem o título Pathways to Deep Decarbonization (algo como “Caminhos para Descarbonização Profunda”) e é a primeira iniciativa de cooperação global a traçar soluções para diminuir a emissão de gases de efeito estufa (GEE).

Esse documento é resultado do trabalho de 15 equipes de pesquisadores, representando as 15 nações que mais emitem GEE: África do Sul, Alemanha, Austrália, Brasil, Canadá, China, Coreia do Sul, Estados Unidos, França, Índia, Indonésia, Japão, México, Reino Unido e Rússia.

Estas equipes trabalharam para responder a seguinte pergunta: “O que falta fazer para chegar a 2050 com chance de manter o crescimento da temperatura global em menos de 2oC, sem emitir mais de 1,6 toneladas de carbono, em média, contra as 5,2 toneladas de hoje?”

O Iddri e a SDSN indicaram ainda três pilares sobre os quais a resposta de cada país devia ser trabalhada, pois são as matrizes em que as emissões globais mais têm crescido:

– Aumento da eficiência e da responsabilidade no consumo de energia;

– Descarbonização do setor elétrico, com investimentos em fontes renováveis e nuclear e em tecnologias de sequestro de carbono;

– Desenvolvimento de biocombustíveis, veículos elétricos, células de hidrogênio e outras tecnologias que reduzam as emissões do setor de transportes.

Embora sejam pilares comuns, as respostas dadas pelos países não foram idênticas, pois cada nação possui particularidades específicas e prioridades diferentes.

Os projetos de alguns países

A China, país altamente industrializado e dependente do carvão, optou por desenhar um caminho de modernização do parque fabril, com a implementação de tecnologia de captura e armazenamento de carbono.

A Indonésia, cujas emissões vêm principalmente do desmatamento e das queimadas, propôs uma melhor gestão do uso da terra e o manejo sustentável das florestas. Os pesquisadores indonésios relataram que há grandes áreas degradadas que podem ser recuperadas para atividades econômicas ou para o plantio de culturas para biocombustíveis, reduzindo a pressão sobre a floresta em pé.

Os Estados Unidos, com sua enorme classe média de forte poder aquisitivo, sinalizam com programas de eficiência energética e de padrões mais altos (ou de menor quantidade de poluentes) nos combustíveis.

A África do Sul pretende investir em eficiência energética na indústria, nos veículos elétricos e nos biocombustíveis.

Os relatórios do Brasil, da Alemanha e do México ainda não foram apresentados. Em nosso país, os trabalhos estão sendo coordenados pelo professor Emílio La Rovere, do Coppe/UFRJ. E as atividades têm a participação da SDSN Brasil, lançada em março de 2014, com o apoio de várias organizações, entre as quais o Instituto Ethos.

Conclusões

Os especialistas concluem, entre outras coisas que:

– De todos os setores estudados, os dois que apresentam mais desafios para uma profunda descarbonização são o de transporte de carga e o de processos industriais, que ainda precisam ser aprofundados;

– Essa descarbonização profunda depende, em larga escala, da capacidade de entrega nos próximos anos de novas tecnologias de baixo carbono que ainda estão em desenvolvimento. Algumas tecnologias em áreas-chave, como armazenamento de energia, ainda precisam de desenvolvimento.

Entretanto, a conclusão mais importante é que, sem um compromisso de longo prazo – até 2050 – os países não conseguirão firmar acordos de curto e médio prazos, indispensáveis para que a humanidade chegue ao meio do século sem atingir os 2oC de aumento na temperatura do planeta.

Isso significa limitar as emissões a 1.000 GtCO2e até o final do século, condição para termos dois terços de chance de mantermos o aquecimento global em até 2oC em 2100.

Jorge Abrahão é diretor-presidente do Instituto Ethos.

** Publicado originalmente no site Instituto Ethos.

(Instituto Ethos)

The Coming Climate Crash (New York Times)

Carbon dioxide emissions like those from coal-fired power plants should be taxed to spur energy innovation. Credit Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

THERE is a time for weighing evidence and a time for acting. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my work in finance, government and conservation, it is to act before problems become too big to manage.

For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do.

We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environmentand economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked.

This is a crisis we can’t afford to ignore. I feel as if I’m watching as we fly in slow motion on a collision course toward a giant mountain. We can see the crash coming, and yet we’re sitting on our hands rather than altering course.

We need to act now, even though there is much disagreement, including from members of my own Republican Party, on how to address this issue while remaining economically competitive. They’re right to consider the economic implications. But we must not lose sight of the profound economic risks of doing nothing.

The solution can be a fundamentally conservative one that will empower the marketplace to find the most efficient response. We can do this by putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide — a carbon tax. Few in the United States now pay to emit this potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere we all share. Putting a price on emissions will create incentives to develop new, cleaner energy technologies.

It’s true that the United States can’t solve this problem alone. But we’re not going to be able to persuade other big carbon polluters to take the urgent action that’s needed if we’re not doing everything we can do to slow our carbon emissions and mitigate our risks.

I was secretary of the Treasury when the credit bubble burst, so I think it’s fair to say that I know a little bit about risk, assessing outcomes and problem-solving. Looking back at the dark days of the financial crisis in 2008, it is easy to see the similarities between the financial crisis and the climate challenge we now face.

We are building up excesses (debt in 2008, greenhouse gas emissions that are trapping heat now). Our government policies are flawed (incentivizing us to borrow too much to finance homes then, and encouraging the overuse of carbon-based fuels now). Our experts (financial experts then, climate scientists now) try to understand what they see and to model possible futures. And the outsize risks have the potential to be tremendously damaging (to a globalized economy then, and the global climate now).

Back then, we narrowly avoided an economic catastrophe at the last minute by rescuing a collapsing financial system through government action. But climate change is a more intractable problem. The carbon dioxide we’re sending into the atmosphere remains there for centuries, heating up the planet.

That means the decisions we’re making today — to continue along a path that’s almost entirely carbon-dependent — are locking us in for long-term consequences that we will not be able to change but only adapt to, at enormous cost. To protect New York City from rising seas and storm surges is expected to cost at least $20 billion initially, and eventually far more. And that’s just one coastal city.

New York can reasonably predict those obvious risks. When I worry about risks, I worry about the biggest ones, particularly those that are difficult to predict — the ones I call small but deep holes. While odds are you will avoid them, if you do fall in one, it’s a long way down and nearly impossible to claw your way out.

Scientists have identified a number of these holes — potential thresholds that, once crossed, could cause sweeping, irreversible changes. They don’t know exactly when we would reach them. But they know we should do everything we can to avoid them.

Already, observations are catching up with years of scientific models, and the trends are not in our favor.

Fewer than 10 years ago, the best analysis projected that melting Arctic sea ice would mean nearly ice-free summers by the end of the 21st century. Now the ice is melting so rapidly that virtually ice-free Arctic summers could be here in the next decade or two. The lack of reflective ice will mean that more of the sun’s heat will be absorbed by the oceans, accelerating warming of both the oceans and the atmosphere, and ultimately raising sea levels.

Even worse, in May, two separate studies discovered that one of the biggest thresholds has already been reached. The West Antarctic ice sheet has begun to melt, a process that scientists estimate may take centuries but that could eventually raise sea levels by as much as 14 feet. Now that this process has begun, there is nothing we can do to undo the underlying dynamics, which scientists say are “baked in.” And 10 years from now, will other thresholds be crossed that scientists are only now contemplating?

It is true that there is uncertainty about the timing and magnitude of these risks and many others. But those who claim the science is unsettled or action is too costly are simply trying to ignore the problem. We must see the bigger picture.

The nature of a crisis is its unpredictability. And as we all witnessed during the financial crisis, a chain reaction of cascading failures ensued from one intertwined part of the system to the next. It’s easy to see a single part in motion. It’s not so easy to calculate the resulting domino effect. That sort of contagion nearly took down the global financial system.

With that experience indelibly affecting my perspective, viewing climate change in terms of risk assessment and risk management makes clear to me that taking a cautiously conservative stance — that is, waiting for more information before acting — is actually taking a very radical risk. We’ll never know enough to resolve all of the uncertainties. But we know enough to recognize that we must act now.

I’m a businessman, not a climatologist. But I’ve spent a considerable amount of time with climate scientists and economists who have devoted their careers to this issue. There is virtually no debate among them that the planet is warming and that the burning of fossil fuels is largely responsible.

Farseeing business leaders are already involved in this issue. It’s time for more to weigh in. To add reliable financial data to the science, I’ve joined with the former mayor of New York City, Michael R. Bloomberg, and the retired hedge fund manager Tom Steyer on an economic analysis of the costs of inaction across key regions and economic sectors. Our goal for the Risky Business project — starting with a new study that will be released this week — is to influence business and investor decision making worldwide.

We need to craft national policy that uses market forces to provide incentives for the technological advances required to address climate change. As I’ve said, we can do this by placing a tax on carbon dioxide emissions. Many respected economists, of all ideological persuasions, support this approach. We can debate the appropriate pricing and policy design and how to use the money generated. But a price on carbon would change the behavior of both individuals and businesses. At the same time, all fossil fuel — and renewable energy — subsidies should be phased out. Renewable energy can outcompete dirty fuels once pollution costs are accounted for.

Some members of my political party worry that pricing carbon is a “big government” intervention. In fact, it will reduce the role of government, which, on our present course, increasingly will be called on to help communities and regions affected by climate-related disasters like floods, drought-related crop failures and extreme weather like tornadoes, hurricanes and other violent storms. We’ll all be paying those costs. Not once, but many times over.

This is already happening, with taxpayer dollars rebuilding homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy and the deadly Oklahoma tornadoes. This is a proper role of government. But our failure to act on the underlying problem is deeply misguided, financially and logically.

In a future with more severe storms, deeper droughts, longer fire seasons and rising seas that imperil coastal cities, public funding to pay for adaptations and disaster relief will add significantly to our fiscal deficit and threaten our long-term economic security. So it is perverse that those who want limited government and rail against bailouts would put the economy at risk by ignoring climate change.

This is short-termism. There is a tendency, particularly in government and politics, to avoid focusing on difficult problems until they balloon into crisis. We would be fools to wait for that to happen to our climate.

When you run a company, you want to hand it off in better shape than you found it. In the same way, just as we shouldn’t leave our children or grandchildren with mountains of national debt and unsustainable entitlement programs, we shouldn’t leave them with the economic and environmental costs of climate change. Republicans must not shrink from this issue. Risk management is a conservative principle, as is preserving our natural environment for future generations. We are, after all, the party of Teddy Roosevelt.

THIS problem can’t be solved without strong leadership from the developing world. The key is cooperation between the United States and China — the two biggest economies, the two biggest emitters of carbon dioxide and the two biggest consumers of energy.

When it comes to developing new technologies, no country can innovate like America. And no country can test new technologies and roll them out at scale quicker than China.

The two nations must come together on climate. The Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago, a “think-and-do tank” I founded to help strengthen the economic and environmental relationship between these two countries, is focused on bridging this gap.

We already have a head start on the technologies we need. The costs of the policies necessary to make the transition to an economy powered by clean energy are real, but modest relative to the risks.

A tax on carbon emissions will unleash a wave of innovation to develop technologies, lower the costs of clean energy and create jobs as we and other nations develop new energy products and infrastructure. This would strengthen national security by reducing the world’s dependence on governments like Russia and Iran.

Climate change is the challenge of our time. Each of us must recognize that the risks are personal. We’ve seen and felt the costs of underestimating the financial bubble. Let’s not ignore the climate bubble.

The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate (Rolling Stone)

It’s time to accelerate the shift toward a low-carbon future

JUNE 18, 2014

In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place. The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail. The only question is how quickly we can accelerate and complete the transition to a low-carbon civilization. There will be many times in the decades ahead when we will have to take care to guard against despair, lest it become another form of denial, paralyzing action. It is true that we have waited too long to avoid some serious damage to the planetary ecosystem – some of it, unfortunately, irreversible. Yet the truly catastrophic damages that have the potential for ending civilization as we know it can still – almost certainly – be avoided. Moreover, the pace of the changes already set in motion can still be moderated significantly.

Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

There is surprising – even shocking – good news: Our ability to convert sunshine into usable energy has become much cheaper far more rapidly than anyone had predicted. The cost of electricity from photovoltaic, or PV, solar cells is now equal to or less than the cost of electricity from other sources powering electric grids in at least 79 countries. By 2020 – as the scale of deployments grows and the costs continue to decline – more than 80 percent of the world’s people will live in regions where solar will be competitive with electricity from other sources.

No matter what the large carbon polluters and their ideological allies say or do, in markets there is a huge difference between “more expensive than” and “cheaper than.” Not unlike the difference between 32 degrees and 33 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s not just a difference of a degree, it’s the difference between a market that’s frozen up and one that’s liquid. As a result, all over the world, the executives of companies selling electricity generated from the burning of carbon-based fuels (primarily from coal) are openly discussing their growing fears of a “utility death spiral.”

Germany, Europe’s industrial powerhouse, where renewable subsidies have been especially high, now generates 37 percent of its daily electricity from wind and solar; and analysts predict that number will rise to 50 percent by 2020. (Indeed, one day this year, renewables created 74 percent of the nation’s electricity!)

Scorched Earth: How Climate Change Is Spreading Drought Throughout the Globe

What’s more, Germany’s two largest coal-burning utilities have lost 56 percent of their value over the past four years, and the losses have continued into the first half of 2014. And it’s not just Germany. Last year, the top 20 utilities throughout Europe reported losing half of their value since 2008. According to the Swiss bank UBS, nine out of 10 European coal and gas plants are now losing money.

In the United States, where up to 49 percent of the new generating capacity came from renewables in 2012, 166 coal-fired electricity-generating plants have either closed or have announced they are closing in the past four and a half years. An additional 183 proposed new coal plants have been canceled since 2005.

To be sure, some of these closings have been due to the substitution of gas for coal, but the transition under way in both the American and global energy markets is far more significant than one fossil fuel replacing another. We are witnessing the beginning of a massive shift to a new energy-distribution model – from the “central station” utility-grid model that goes back to the 1880s to a “widely distributed” model with rooftop solar cells, on-site and grid battery storage, and microgrids.

The principal trade group representing U.S. electric utilities, the Edison Electric Institute, has identified distributed generation as the “largest near-term threat to the utility model.” Last May, Barclays downgraded the entirety of the U.S. electric sector, warning that “a confluence of declining cost trends in distributed solar­photovoltaic-power generation and residential­scale power storage is likely to disrupt the status quo” and make utility investments less attractive.

See the 10 Dumbest Things Said About Global Warming

This year, Citigroup reported that the widespread belief that natural gas – the supply of which has ballooned in the U.S. with the fracking of shale gas – will continue to be the chosen alternative to coal is mistaken, because it too will fall victim to the continuing decline in the cost of solar and wind electricity. Significantly, the cost of battery storage, long considered a barrier to the new electricity system, has also been declining steadily – even before the introduction of disruptive new battery technologies that are now in advanced development. Along with the impressive gains of clean-energy programs in the past decade, there have been similar improvements in our ability to do more with less. Since 1980, the U.S. has reduced total energy intensity by 49 percent.

It is worth remembering this key fact about the supply of the basic “fuel”: Enough raw energy reaches the Earth from the sun in one hour to equal all of the energy used by the entire world in a full year.

In poorer countries, where most of the world’s people live and most of the growth in energy use is occurring, photovoltaic electricity is not so much displacing carbon-based energy as leapfrogging it altogether. In his first days in office, the government of the newly elected prime minister of India, Narendra Modi (who has authored an e-book on global warming), announced a stunning plan to rely principally upon photovoltaic energy in providing electricity to 400 million Indians who currently do not have it. One of Modi’s supporters, S.L. Rao, the former utility regulator of India, added that the industry he once oversaw “has reached a stage where either we change the whole system quickly, or it will collapse.”

Nor is India an outlier. Neighboring Bangladesh is installing nearly two new rooftop PV systems every minute — making it the most rapidly growing market for PVs in the world. In West and East Africa, solar-electric cells are beginning what is widely predicted to be a period of explosive growth.

At the turn of the 21st century, some scoffed at projections that the world would be installing one gigawatt of new solar electricity per year by 2010. That goal was exceeded 17 times over; last year it was exceeded 39 times over; and this year the world is on pace to exceed that benchmark as much as 55 times over. In May, China announced that by 2017, it would have the capacity to generate 70 gigawatts of photovoltaic electricity. The state with by far the biggest amount of wind energy is Texas, not historically known for its progressive energy policies.

The cost of wind energy is also plummeting, having dropped 43 percent in the United States since 2009 – making it now cheaper than coal for new generating capacity. Though the downward cost curve is not quite as steep as that for solar, the projections in 2000 for annual worldwide wind deployments by the end of that decade were exceeded seven times over, and are now more than 10 times that figure. In the United States alone, nearly one-third of all new electricity-generating capacity in the past five years has come from wind, and installed wind capacity in the U.S. has increased more than fivefold since 2006.

For consumers, this good news may soon get even better. While the cost of carbon­based energy continues to increase, the cost of solar electricity has dropped by an average of 20 percent per year since 2010. Some energy economists, including those who produced an authoritative report this past spring for Bernstein Research, are now predicting energy-price deflation as soon as the next decade.

For those (including me) who are surprised at the speed with which this impending transition has been accelerating, there are precedents that help explain it. Remember the first mobile-telephone handsets? I do; as an inveterate “early adopter” of new technologies, I thought those first huge, clunky cellphones were fun to use and looked cool (they look silly now, of course). In 1980, a few years before I bought one of the early models, AT&T conducted a global market study and came to the conclusion that by the year 2000 there would be a market for 900,000 subscribers. They were not only wrong, they were way wrong: 109 million contracts were active in 2000. Barely a decade and a half later, there are 6.8 billion globally. 
These parallels have certainly caught the attention of the fossil-fuel industry and its investors: Eighteen months ago, the Edison Electric Institute described the floundering state of the once-proud landline-telephone companies as a grim predictor of what may soon be their fate.

 

The utilities are fighting back, of course, by using their wealth and the entrenched political power they have built up over the past century. In the United States, brothers Charles and David Koch, who run Koch Industries, the second-largest privately owned corporation in the U.S., have secretively donated at least $70 million to a number of opaque political organizations tasked with spreading disinformation about the climate crisis and intimidating political candidates who dare to support renewable energy or the pricing of carbon pollution.

A Call to Arms: An invitation to Demand Action on Climate Change

They regularly repeat shopworn complaints about the inadequate, intermittent and inconsistent subsidies that some governments have used in an effort to speed up the deployment of renewables, while ignoring the fact that global subsidies for carbon-based energy are 25 times larger than global subsidies for renewables.

One of the most effective of the groups financed by the Koch brothers and other carbon polluters is the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which grooms conservative state legislators throughout the country to act as their agents in introducing legislation written by utilities and carbon-fuel lobbyists in a desperate effort to slow, if not stop, the transition to renewable energy.

The Kochs claim to act on principles of low taxation and minimal regulation, but in their attempts to choke the development of alternative energy, they have induced the recipients of their generous campaign contributions to contradict these supposedly bedrock values, pushing legislative and regulatory measures in 34 states to discourage solar, or encourage carbon energy, or both. The most controversial of their initiatives is focused on persuading state legislatures and public-utility commissions to tax homeowners who install a PV solar cell on their roofs, and to manipulate the byzantine utility laws and regulations to penalize renewable energy in a variety of novel schemes.

The chief battleground in this war between the energy systems of the past and future is our electrical grid. For more than a century, the grid – along with the regulatory and legal framework governing it – has been dominated by electric utilities and their centralized, fossil-fuel-powered­ electricity-generation plants. But the rise of distributed alternate energy sources allows consumers to participate in the production of electricity through a policy called net metering. In 43 states, homeowners who install solar PV to systems on their rooftops are permitted to sell electricity back into the grid when they generate more than they need.

These policies have been crucial to the growth of solar power. But net metering represents an existential threat to the future of electric utilities, the so-called utility death spiral: As more consumers install solar panels on their roofs, utilities will have to raise prices on their remaining customers to recover the lost revenues. Those higher rates will, in turn, drive more consumers to leave the utility system, and so on.

But here is more good news: The Koch brothers are losing rather badly. In Kansas, their home state, a poll by North Star Opinion Research reported that 91 percent of registered voters support solar and wind. Three-quarters supported stronger policy encouragement of renewable energy, even if such policies raised their electricity bills.

In Georgia, the Atlanta Tea Party joined forces with the Sierra Club to form a new organization called – wait for it – the Green Tea Coalition, which promptly defeated a Koch-funded scheme to tax rooftop solar panels.

Meanwhile, in Arizona, after the state’s largest utility, an ALEC member, asked the public-utility commission for a tax of up to $150 per month for solar households, the opposition was fierce and well-organized. A compromise was worked out – those households would be charged just $5 per month – but Barry Goldwater Jr., the leader of a newly formed organization called TUSK (Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed), is fighting a new attempt to discourage rooftop solar in Arizona. Characteristically, the Koch brothers and their allies have been using secretive and deceptive funding in Arizona to run television advertisements attacking “greedy” owners of rooftop solar panels – but their effort has thus far backfired, as local journalists have exposed the funding scam.

Even though the Koch-funded forces recently scored a partial (and almost certainly temporary) victory in Ohio, where the legislature voted to put a hold on the state’s renewable-portfolio standard and study the issue for two years, it’s clear that the attack on solar energy is too little, too late. Last year, the Edison Electric Institute warned the utility industry that it had waited too long to respond to the sharp cost declines and growing popularity of solar: “At the point when utility investors become focused on these new risks and start to witness significant customer- and earnings-erosion trends, they will respond to these challenges. But, by then, it may be too late to repair the utility business model.”

The most seductive argument deployed by the Koch brothers and their allies is that those who use rooftop solar electricity and benefit from the net-metering policies are “free riders” – that is, they are allegedly not paying their share of the maintenance costs for the infrastructure of the old utility model, including the grid itself. This deceptive message, especially when coupled with campaign contributions, has persuaded some legislators to support the proposed new taxes on solar panels.

But the argument ignores two important realities facing the electric utilities: First, most of the excess solar electricity is supplied by owners of solar cells during peak-load hours of the day, when the grid’s capacity is most stressed – thereby alleviating the pressure to add expensive new coal- or gas-fired generating capacity. But here’s the rub: What saves money for their customers cuts into the growth of their profits and depresses their stock prices. As is often the case, the real conflict is between the public interest and the special interest.

The second reality ignored by the Koch brothers is the one they least like to discuss, the one they spend so much money trying to obfuscate with their hired “merchants of doubt.” You want to talk about the uncompensated use of infrastructure? What about sewage infrastructure for 98 million tons per day of gaseous, heat-trapping waste that is daily released into our skies, threatening the future of human civilization? Is it acceptable to use the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet as an open sewer? Free of charge? Really?

 

This, after all, is the reason the climate crisis has become an existential threat to the future of human civilization. Last April, the average CO2 concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere exceeded 400 parts-per-million on a sustained basis for the first time in at least 800,000 years and probably for the first time in at least 4.5 million years (a period that was considerably warmer than at present).

According to a cautious analysis by the influential climate scientist James Hansen, the accumulated man-made global-warming pollution already built up in the Earth’s atmosphere now traps as much extra heat energy every day as would be released by the explosion of 400,000 Hiroshima-class nuclear bombs. It’s a big planet, but that’s a lot of energy.

And it is that heat energy that is giving the Earth a fever. Denialists hate the “fever” metaphor, but as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) pointed out this year, “Just as a 1.4­degree-fever change would be seen as significant in a child’s body, a similar change in our Earth’s temperature is also a concern for human society.”

Thirteen of the 14 hottest years ever measured with instruments have occurred in this century. This is the 37th year in a row that has been hotter than the 20th-century average. April was the 350th month in a row hotter than the average in the preceding century. The past decade was by far the warmest decade ever measured.

Many scientists expect the coming year could break all of these records by a fair margin because of the extra boost from the anticipated El Niño now gathering in the waters of the eastern Pacific. (The effects of periodic El Niño events are likely to become stronger because of global warming, and this one is projected by many scientists to be stronger than average, perhaps on the scale of the epic El Niño of 1997 to 1998.)

The fast-growing number of extreme-weather events, connected to the climate crisis, has already had a powerful impact on public attitudes toward global warming. A clear majority of Americans now acknowledge thatman-made pollution is responsible. As the storms, floods, mudslides, droughts, fires and other catastrophes become ever more destructive, the arcane discussions over how much of their extra-destructive force should be attributed to global warming have become largely irrelevant. The public at large feels it viscerally now. As Bob Dylan sang, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

Besides, there is a simple difference between linear cause and effect and systemic cause and effect. As one of the world’s most-respected atmospheric scientists, Kevin Trenberth, has said, “The environment in which all storms form has changed owing to human activities.”

For example, when Supertyphoon Haiyan crossed the Pacific toward the Philippines last fall, the storm gained strength across seas that were 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than they used to be because of greenhouse­gas pollution. As a result, Haiyan went from being merely strong to being the most powerful and destructive ocean-based storm on record to make landfall. Four million people were displaced (more than twice as many as by the Indian Ocean tsunami of 10 years ago), and there are still more than 2 million Haiyan refugees desperately trying to rebuild their lives.

When Superstorm Sandy traversed the areas of the Atlantic Ocean windward of New York and New Jersey in 2012, the water temperature was nine degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal. The extra convection energy in those waters fed the storm and made the winds stronger than they would otherwise have been. Moreover, the sea level was higher than it used to be, elevated by the melting of ice in the frozen regions of the Earth and the expanded volume of warmer ocean waters.

Five years earlier, denialists accused me of demagogic exaggeration in an animated scene in my documentary An Inconvenient Truth that showed the waters of the Atlantic Ocean flooding into the 9/11 Ground Zero Memorial site. But in Sandy’s wake, the Atlantic did in fact flood Ground Zero – many years before scientists had expected that to occur.

Similarly, the inundation of Miami Beach by rising sea levels has now begun, and freshwater aquifers in low-lying areas from South Florida to the Nile Delta to Bangladesh to Indochina are being invaded by saltwater pushed upward by rising oceans. And of course, many low-lying islands – not least in the Bay of Bengal – are in danger of disappearing altogether. Where will the climate refugees go? Similarly, the continued melting of mountain glaciers and snowpacks is, according to the best scientists, already “affecting water supplies for as many as a billion people around the world.”

Just as the extreme-weather events we are now experiencing are exactly the kind that were predicted by scientists decades ago, the scientific community is now projecting far worse extreme-weather events in the years to come. Eighty percent of the warming in the past 150 years (since the burning of carbon-based fuels gained momentum) has occurred in the past few decades. And it is worth noting that the previous scientific projections consistently low-balled the extent of the global­warming consequences that later took place – for a variety of reasons rooted in the culture of science that favor conservative estimates of future effects.

In an effort to avoid these cultural biases, the AAAS noted this year that not only are the impacts of the climate crisis “very likely to become worse over the next 10 to 20 years and beyond,” but “there is a possibility that temperatures will rise much higher and impacts will be much worse than expected. Moreover, as global temperature rises, the risk increases that one or more important parts of the Earth’s climate system will experience changes that may be abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible, causing large damages and high costs.”

Just weeks after that report, there was shock and, for some, a temptation to despair when the startling news was released in May by scientists at both NASA and the University of Washington that the long-feared “collapse” of a portion of the West Antarctic ice sheet is not only under way but is also now “irreversible.” Even as some labored to understand what the word “collapse” implied about the suddenness with which this catastrophe will ultimately unfold, it was the word “irreversible” that had a deeper impact on the collective psyche.

Just as scientists 200 years ago could not comprehend the idea that species had once lived on Earth and had subsequently become extinct, and just as some people still find it hard to accept the fact that human beings have become a sufficiently powerful force of nature to reshape the ecological system of our planet, many – including some who had long since accepted the truth about global warming – had difficulty coming to grips with the stark new reality that one of the long-feared “tipping points” had been crossed. And that, as a result, no matter what we do, sea levels will rise by at least an additional three feet.

The uncertainty about how long the process will take (some of the best ice scientists warn that a rise of 10 feet in this century cannot be ruled out) did not change the irreversibility of the forces that we have set in motion. But as Eric Rignot, the lead author of the NASA study, pointed out in The Guardian, it’s still imperative that we take action: “Controlling climate warming may ultimately make a difference not only about how fast West Antarctic ice will melt to sea, but also whether other parts of Antarctica will take their turn.”

The news about the irreversible collapse in West Antarctica caused some to almost forget that only two months earlier, a similar startling announcement had been made about the Greenland ice sheet. Scientists found that the northeastern part of Greenland – long thought to be resistant to melting – has in fact been losing more than 10 billion tons of ice per year for the past decade, making 100 percent of Greenland unstable and likely, as with West Antarctica, to contribute to significantly more sea-level rise than scientists had previously thought.

 

The heating of the oceans not only melts the ice and makes hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons more intense, it also evaporates around 2 trillion gallons of additional water vapor into the skies above the U.S. The warmer air holds more of this water vapor and carries it over the landmasses, where it is funneled into land-based storms that are releasing record downpours all over the world.

For example, an “April shower” came to Pensacola, Florida, this spring, but it was a freak – another rainstorm on steroids: two feet of rain in 26 hours. It broke all the records in the region, but as usual, virtually no media outlets made the connection to global warming. Similar “once in a thousand years” storms have been occurring regularly in recent years all over the world, including in my hometown of Nashville in May 2010.

All-time record flooding swamped large portions of England this winter, submerging thousands of homes for more than six weeks. Massive downpours hit Serbia and Bosnia this spring, causing flooding of “biblical proportions” (a phrase now used so frequently in the Western world that it has become almost a cliché) and thousands of landslides. Torrential rains in Afghanistan in April triggered mudslides that killed thousands of people – almost as many, according to relief organizations, as all of the Afghans killed in the war there the previous year.

In March, persistent rains triggered an unusually large mudslide in Oso, Washington, killing more than 40 people. There are literally hundreds of other examples of extreme rainfall occurring in recent years in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania.

In the planet’s drier regions, the same extra heat trapped in the atmosphere by man-made global-warming pollution has also been driving faster evaporation of soil moisture and causing record-breaking droughts. As of this writing, 100 percent of California is in “severe,” “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. Record fires are ravaging the desiccated landscape. Experts now project that an increase of one degree Celsius over pre-industrial temperatures will lead to as much as a 600-­percent increase in the median area burned by forest fires in some areas of the American West – including large portions of Colorado. The National Research Council has reported that fire season is two and a half months longer than it was 30 years ago, and in California, firefighters are saying that the season is now effectively year-round.

Drought has been intensifying in many other dry regions around the world this year: Brazil, Indonesia, central and northwest Africa and Madagascar, central and western Europe, the Middle East up to the Caspian Sea and north of the Black Sea, Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, Western Australia and New Zealand.

Syria is one of the countries that has been in the bull’s-eye of climate change. From 2006 to 2010, a historic drought destroyed 60 percent of the country’s farms and 80 percent of its livestock – driving a million refugees from rural agricultural areas into cities already crowded with the million refugees who had taken shelter there from the Iraq War. As early as 2008, U.S. State Department cables quoted Syrian government officials warning that the social and economic impacts of the drought are “beyond our capacity as a country to deal with.” Though the hellish and ongoing civil war in Syria has multiple causes – including the perfidy of the Assad government and the brutality on all sides – their climate-related drought may have been the biggest underlying trigger for the horror.

The U.S. military has taken notice of the strategic dangers inherent in the climate crisis. Last March, a Pentagon advisory committee described the climate crisis as a “catalyst for conflict” that may well cause failures of governance and societal collapse. “In the past, the thinking was that climate change multiplied the significance of a situation,” said retired Air Force Gen. Charles F. Wald. “Now we’re saying it’s going to be a direct cause of instability.”

Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told the press, “For DOD, this is a mission reality, not a political debate. The scientific forecast is for more Arctic ice melt, more sea-level rise, more intense storms, more flooding from storm surge and more drought.” And in yet another forecast difficult for congressional climate denialists to rebut, climate experts advising the military have also warned that the world’s largest naval base, in Norfolk, Virginia, is likely to be inundated by rising sea levels in the future.

And how did the Republican-dominated House of Representatives respond to these grim warnings? By passing legislation seeking to prohibit the Department of Defense from taking any action to prepare for the effects of climate disruption.

There are so many knock-on consequences of the climate crisis that listing them can be depressing – diseases spreading, crop yields declining, more heat waves affecting vulnerable and elderly populations, the disappearance of summer-ice cover in the Arctic Ocean, the potential extinction of up to half of all the living species, and so much more. And that in itself is a growing problem too, because when you add it all up, it’s no wonder that many feel a new inclination to despair.

So, clearly, we will just have to gird ourselves for the difficult challenges ahead. There is indeed, literally, light at the end of the tunnel, but there is a tunnel, and we are well into it.

In November 1936, Winston Churchill stood before the United Kingdom’s House of Commons and placed a period at the end of the misguided debate over the nature of the “gathering storm” on the other side of the English Channel: “Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have entered upon a period of danger. . . . The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedience of delays is coming to its close. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences. . . . We cannot avoid this period; we are in it now.”

Our civilization is confronting this existential challenge at a moment in our historical development when our dominant global ideology – democratic capitalism – has been failing us in important respects.

Democracy is accepted in theory by more people than ever before as the best form of political organization, but it has been “hacked” by large corporations (defined as “persons” by the Supreme Court) and special interests corrupting the political system with obscene amounts of money (defined as “speech” by the same court).

Capitalism, for its part, is accepted by more people than ever before as a superior form of economic organization, but is – in its current form – failing to measure and include the categories of “value” that are most relevant to the solutions we need in order to respond to this threatening crisis (clean air and water, safe food, a benign climate balance, public goods like education and a greener infrastructure, etc.).

Pressure for meaningful reform in democratic capitalism is beginning to build powerfully. The progressive introduction of Internet-based communication – social media, blogs, digital journalism – is laying the foundation for the renewal of individual participation in democracy, and the re-elevation of reason over wealth and power as the basis for collective decision­making. And the growing levels of inequality worldwide, combined with growing structural unemployment and more frequent market disruptions (like the Great Recession), are building support for reforms in capitalism.

Both waves of reform are still at an early stage, but once again, Churchill’s words inspire: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” And that is why it is all the more important to fully appreciate the incredible opportunity for salvation that is now within our grasp. As the satirical newspaper The Onion recently noted in one of its trademark headlines: “Scientists Politely Remind World That Clean Energy Technology Ready to Go Whenever.”

We have the policy tools that can dramatically accelerate the transition to clean energy that market forces will eventually produce at a slower pace. The most important has long since been identified: We have to put a price on carbon in our markets, and we need to eliminate the massive subsidies that fuel the profligate emissions of global-warming pollution.

We need to establish “green banks” that provide access to capital investment necessary to develop renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and forestry, an electrified transportation fleet, the retrofitting of buildings to reduce wasteful energy consumption, and the full integration of sustainability in the design and architecture of cities and towns. While the burning of fossil fuels is the largest cause of the climate crisis, deforestation and “factory farming” also play an important role. Financial and technological approaches to addressing these challenges are emerging, but we must continue to make progress in converting to sustainable forestry and agriculture.

In order to accomplish these policy shifts, we must not only put a price on carbon in markets, but also find a way to put a price on climate denial in our politics. We already know the reforms that are needed – and the political will to enact them is a renewable resource. Yet the necessary renewal can only come from an awakened citizenry empowered by a sense of urgency and emboldened with the courage to reject despair and become active. Most importantly, now is the time to support candidates who accept the reality of the climate crisis and are genuinely working hard to solve it – and to bluntly tell candidates who are not on board how much this issue matters to you. If you are willing to summon the resolve to communicate that blunt message forcefully – with dignity and absolute sincerity – you will be amazed at the political power an individual can still wield in America’s diminished democracy.

Something else is also new this summer. Three years ago, in these pages, I criticized the seeming diffidence of President Obama toward the great task of solving the climate crisis; this summer, it is abundantly evident that he has taken hold of the challenge with determination and seriousness of purpose.

He has empowered his Environmental Protection Agency to enforce limits on CO2 emissions for both new and, as of this June, existing sources of CO2. He has enforced bold new standards for the fuel economy of the U.S. transportation fleet. He has signaled that he is likely to reject the absurdly reckless Keystone XL-pipeline proposal for the transport of oil from carbon­intensive tar sands to be taken to market through the United States on its way to China, thus effectively limiting their exploitation. And he is even now preparing to impose new limits on the release of methane pollution.

All of these welcome steps forward have to be seen, of course, in the context of Obama’s continued advocacy of a so-called all-of-the-above energy policy – which is the prevailing code for aggressively pushing more drilling and fracking for oil and gas. And to put the good news in perspective, it is important to remember that U.S. emissions – after declining for five years during the slow recovery from the Great Recession – actually increased by 2.4 percent in 2013.

 

Nevertheless, the president is clearly changing his overall policy emphasis to make CO2 reductions a much higher priority now and has made a series of inspiring speeches about the challenges posed by climate change and the exciting opportunities available as we solve it. As a result, Obama will go to the United Nations this fall and to Paris at the end of 2015 with the credibility and moral authority that he lacked during the disastrous meeting in Copenhagen four and a half years ago.

The international treaty process has been so fraught with seemingly intractable disagreements that some parties have all but given up on the possibility of ever reaching a meaningful treaty.

Ultimately, there must be one if we are to succeed. And there are signs that a way forward may be opening up. In May, I attended a preparatory session in Abu Dhabi, UAE, organized by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to bolster commitments from governments, businesses and nongovernmental organizations ahead of this September’s U.N. Climate Summit. The two-day meeting was different from many of the others I have attended. There were welcome changes in rhetoric, and it was clear that the reality of the climate crisis is now weighing on almost every nation. Moreover, there were encouraging reports from around the world that many of the policy changes necessary to solve the crisis are being adopted piecemeal by a growing number of regional, state and city governments.

For these and other reasons, I believe there is a realistic hope that momentum toward a global agreement will continue to build in September and carry through to the Paris negotiations in late 2015.

The American poet Wallace Stevens once wrote, “After the final ‘no’ there comes a ‘yes’/And on that ‘yes’ the future world depends.” There were many no’s before the emergence of a global consensus to abolish chattel slavery, before the consensus that women must have the right to vote, before the fever of the nuclear­arms race was broken, before the quickening global recognition of gay and lesbian equality, and indeed before every forward advance toward social progress. Though a great many obstacles remain in the path of this essential agreement, I am among the growing number of people who are allowing themselves to become more optimistic than ever that a bold and comprehensive pact may well emerge from the Paris negotiations late next year, which many regard as the last chance to avoid civilizational catastrophe while there is still time.

It will be essential for the United States and other major historical emitters to commit to strong action. The U.S. is, finally, now beginning to shift its stance. And the European Union has announced its commitment to achieve a 40-percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030. Some individual European nations are acting even more aggressively, including Finland’s pledge to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050.

It will also be crucial for the larger developing and emerging nations – particularly China and India – to play a strong leadership role. Fortunately, there are encouraging signs. China’s new president, Xi Jinping, has launched a pilot cap-and-trade system in two cities and five provinces as a model for a nationwide cap-and-trade program in the next few years. He has banned all new coal burning in several cities and required the reporting of CO2 emissions by all major industrial sources. China and the U.S. have jointly reached an important agreement to limit another potent source of global-warming pollution – the chemical compounds known as hydro-fluorocarbons, or HFCs. And the new prime minister of India, as noted earlier, has launched the world’s most ambitious plan to accelerate the transition to solar electricity.

Underlying this new breaking of logjams in international politics, there are momentous changes in the marketplace that are exercising enormous influence on the perceptions by political leaders of the new possibilities for historic breakthroughs. More and more, investors are diversifying their portfolios to include significant investments in renewables. In June, Warren Buffett announced he was ready to double Berkshire Hathaway’s existing $15 billion investment in wind and solar energy.

A growing number of large investors – including pension funds, university endowments (Stanford announced its decision in May), family offices and others – have announced decisions to divest themselves from carbon­intensive assets. Activist and “impact” investors are pushing for divestment from carbon­rich assets and new investments in renewable and sustainable assets.

Several large banks and asset managers around the world (full disclosure: Generation Investment Management, which I co-founded with David Blood and for which I serve as chairman, is in this group) have advised their clients of the danger that carbon assets will become “stranded.” A “stranded asset” is one whose price is vulnerable to a sudden decline when markets belatedly recognize the truth about their underlying value – just as the infamous “subprime mortgages” suddenly lost their value in 2007 to 2008 once investors came to grips with the fact that the borrowers had absolutely no ability to pay off their mortgages.

Shareholder activists and public campaigners have pressed carbon-dependent corporations to deal with these growing concerns. But the biggest ones are still behaving as if they are in denial. In May 2013, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson responded to those pointing out the need to stop using the Earth’s atmosphere as a sewer by asking, “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”

I don’t even know where to start in responding to that statement, but here is a clue: Pope Francis said in May, “If we destroy creation, creation will destroy us. Never forget this.”

 

Exxonmobil, Shell and many other holders of carbon-intensive assets have argued, in essence, that they simply do not believe that elected national leaders around the world will ever reach an agreement to put a price on carbon pollution.

But a prospective global treaty (however likely or unlikely you think that might be) is only one of several routes to overturning the fossil-fuel economy. Rapid technological advances in renewable energy are stranding carbon investments; grassroots movements are building opposition to the holding of such assets; and new legal restrictions on collateral flows of pollution – like particulate air pollution in China and mercury pollution in the U.S. – are further reducing the value of coal, tar sands, and oil and gas assets.

In its series of reports to energy investors this spring, Citigroup questioned the feasibility of new coal plants not only in Europe and North America, but in China as well. Although there is clearly a political struggle under way in China between regional governments closely linked to carbon-­energy generators, suppliers and users and the central government in Beijing – which is under growing pressure from citizens angry about pollution – the nation’s new leadership appears to be determined to engineer a transition toward renewable energy. Only time will tell how successful they will be.

The stock exchanges in Johannesburg and São Paulo have decided to require the full integration of sustainability from all listed companies. Standard & Poor’s announced this spring that some nations vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis may soon have their bonds downgraded because of the enhanced risk to holders of those assets.

A growing number of businesses around the world are implementing sustainability plans, as more and more consumers demand a more responsible approach from businesses they patronize. Significantly, many have been pleasantly surprised to find that adopting efficient, low-carbon approaches can lead to major cost savings.

And all the while, the surprising and relentless ongoing decline in the cost of renewable energy and efficiency improvements are driving the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Is there enough time? Yes. Damage has been done, and the period of consequences will continue for some time to come, but there is still time to avoid the catastrophes that most threaten our future. Each of the trends described above – in technology, business, economics and politics – represents a break from the past. Taken together, they add up to genuine and realistic hope that we are finally putting ourselves on a path to solve the climate crisis.

How long will it take? When Martin Luther King Jr. was asked that question during some of the bleakest hours of the U.S. civil rights revolution, he responded, “How long? Not long. Because no lie can live forever. . . . How long? Not long. Because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

And so it is today: How long? Not long.

This story is from the July 3rd-17th, 2014 issue of Rolling Stone.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-turning-point-new-hope-for-the-climate-20140618

Researchers treat incarceration as a disease epidemic, discover small changes help (Science Daily)

Date: June 25, 2014

Source: Virginia Tech

Summary: By treating incarceration as an infectious disease, researchers show that small differences in prison sentences can lead to large differences in incarceration rates. The incarceration rate has nearly quadrupled since the U.S. declared a war on drugs, researchers say. Along with that, racial disparities abound. Incarceration rates for black Americans are more than six times higher than those for white Americans, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The incarceration rate has nearly quadrupled since the U.S. declared a war on drugs, researchers say. Along with that, racial disparities abound. Incarceration rates for black Americans are more than six times higher than those for white Americans, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

To explain these growing racial disparities, researchers at Virginia Tech are using the same modeling techniques used for infectious disease outbreaks to take on the mass incarceration problem.

By treating incarceration as an infectious disease, the scientists demonstrated that small but significant differences in prison sentences can lead to large differences in incarceration rates. The research was published in June in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Incarceration can be “transmitted” to others, the researchers say. For instance, incarceration can increase family members’ emotional and economic stress or expose family and friends to a network of criminals, and these factors can lead to criminal activity.

Alternatively, “official bias” leads police and the courts to pay more attention to the incarcerated person’s family and friends, thereby increasing the probability they will be caught, prosecuted and processed by the criminal justice system, researchers said.

“Regardless of the specific mechanisms involved,” said Kristian Lum, a former statistician at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute now working for DataPad, “the incarceration of one family member increases the likelihood of other family members and friends being incarcerated.”

Building on this insight, incarceration is treated like a disease in the model and the incarcerated are infectious to their social contacts — their family members and friends most likely affected by their incarceration.

“Criminologists have long recognized that social networks play an important role in criminal behavior, the control of criminal behavior, and the re-entry of prisoners into society,” said James Hawdon, a professor of sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. “We therefore thought we should test if networks also played a role in the incarceration epidemic. Our model suggests they do.”

Synthesizing publically available data from a variety of sources, the researchers generated a realistic, multi-generational synthetic population with contact networks, sentence lengths, and transmission probabilities.

The researchers’ model is comparable to real-world incarceration rates, reproducing many facets of incarceration in the United States.

Both the model and actual statistics show large discrepancies in incarceration rates between black and white Americans and, subsequently, the likelihood of becoming a repeat offender is high.

Comparisons such as these can be used to validate the assumption that incarceration is infectious.

“Research clearly shows that this epidemic has had devastating effects on individuals, families, and entire communities,” Lum said. “Since our model captures the emergent properties of the incarceration epidemic, we can use it to test policy options designed to reverse it.”

Harsher sentencing may actually result in higher levels of criminality. Examining the role of social influence is an important step in reducing the growing incarceration epidemic.

Journal Reference:

  1. K. Lum, S. Swarup, S. Eubank, J. Hawdon. The contagious nature of imprisonment: an agent-based model to explain racial disparities in incarceration ratesJournal of The Royal Society Interface, 2014; 11 (98): 20140409 DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2014.0409