Energy Use On Suicidal Path


“If we get that kind of increase it will be societal suicide”

By Stephen Leahy

Nov 9 (IPS) – Today’s skyrocketing fossil fuel use will accelerate far faster in the coming decades, driving oil prices higher and virtually guaranteeing catastrophic climate change in the decades to come, energy experts say.

Emissions of greenhouse gases could increase a staggering 57 percent by 2030 if current trends continue, and with the strong growth of coal and oil energy use in India and China, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported this week.

“If we get that kind of increase it will be societal suicide,” says Gavin Schmidt, a climate researcher at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University.

“It really is a huge increase,” Schmidt told IPS. Continue reading

Canada’s Shocking Environmental Decline



By Stephen Leahy* – IPS/IFEJ

In the past 15 years, all of Canada’s environmental indicators have suffered, say experts who distribute the blame among local and national governments, businesses and the public.

TORONTO, Nov 5 2007 (Tierramérica).

In the 1980s, Canada was a bright green engine of change, pushing the global community forward on sustainable development and global warming. But now it is falling behind in almost every environmental aspect.

The lead author of the landmark 1987 Bruntland Report, “Our Common Future“, was Canadian Jim MacNeill. The very first international climate change meeting involving scientists and political leaders was held in Toronto in 1988.

Canadian Maurice Strong organized the first World Conference on the Environment in Stockholm in 1972, was the first executive director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and was secretary-general of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

But after this flourish on the world stage, Canada sat back and did virtually nothing domestically. The country ranks 28th out of 30 high-income countries in terms of environmental sustainability, according to an independent Canadian study. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranked Canada 27th in terms of environmental performance. Continue reading

The Coming Oxygen Crisis?

“I have no idea how this will affect oxygen levels but it is something we should be thinking about.”Bradley Cardinale, biologist, University of California,

By Stephen Leahy


The Amazon River and rainforest viewed from space.

Nov 6 (IPS) – Plants are the only source of oxygen on Earth — the only source. Studies around the world show that as plant species become extinct, natural habitats can lose up to half of their living plant biomass.

Half of the oxygen they produced is lost. Half of the water, food and other ecological services they provide are lost.

If a forest loses too many unique species, it can reduce the total number of plants in that forest by half, says Bradley Cardinale, lead author of the meta-analysis published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

“Those unique species are not replaceable. Nothing takes their place. It was a really shocking finding for me,” Cardinale, a biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told IPS. “That’s how much biodiversity matters.”

Continue reading

Three Names the World Should Know


By Stephen Leahy

Nov 5 (IPS) – “I am staying in Afghanistan to prove that women are brave and strong,” says Afghan journalist Farida Nekzad.

Nekzad has been threatened with death even as she attended the funeral of Zakia Zaki, a female radio broadcaster murdered by gunmen as she slept with her eight-month-old son at her home near Kabul in June.

“I was given asylum by some countries but I am not going to hide,” declared Nekzad, the current editor in chief of the Pajhwok News Agency, the sole independent news agency in Afghanistan.

“If I leave, the next woman journalist will become a target,” she told IPS.

Nekzad was in Toronto last Thursday to receive one of this year’s three International Press Freedom Awards from the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE). CJFE promotes and defends free expression and press freedom and grants thousands of dollars to aid persecuted journalists in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.

Iraqi journalist Sahar Al-Haideri, shot and killed on Jun. 7 this year by four unidentified gunmen in Mosul, and Canadian journalist Ali Iman Sharmarke, who was killed by a remote-controlled landmine in Somalia Aug. 11, were the other award recipients. Continue reading