In December 2021, over fifty Nobel laureates and presidents of learned societies signed an appeal for a “Global Peace Dividend”. Taking stock of the accelerating global arms race, they proposed that all member states of the United Nations negotiate a common 2% reduction of their yearly military expenditure. They also suggested that one-half of the resources saved by this reduction be allocated to a global fund to fight against climate change, pandemics, and extreme poverty.
In the period 2025-2030, the ‘peace dividend’ generated by the laureates’ proposal would exceed one trillion US dollars — an amount comparable to total investments in renewable power worldwide, and six times greater than the funds available to research and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria combined.
In an era of mounting challenges to human welfare, these new resources could positively impact the lives of millions, at zero cost for nations.
We, the signatories of this petition, strongly support the Nobelists’ initiative and ask you, Messrs. Guterres, Biden, Johnson, Macron, Putin and Xi, to start negotiating such an agreement as soon as possible.
Albert Einstein noted that one “cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war”. Today, leading intellectuals are laying out a path to prevent war and prepare for a prosperous common future. As Secretary-General of the United Nations and leaders of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, we ask you to take this path in our names.
Please share this petition widely! It’s the best way to make change happen.
For more information about the #GlobalPeaceDividend, visit www.peace-dividend.org or follow us on social media:
Interesting. Australia is a founding member of the United Nations. Thank you Dr Evatt. But, in Australia the Australian national Coalition government is budgeting for $270 billion over a decade for armaments. In addition it is now to buy nuclear submarines from the UK and USA through what they call AUKUS. The Coalition’s Minister for Defence has just spent $3.5 billion on tanks. From 2013 Coalition governments cut billions from public health and adopted a policy of ‘Trade. Not Aid’ and decreased to the lowest level their contribution to foreign aid, while talking about ‘our Pacific family’.
Australians, however, might have more foresight than their Federal government and share and sign this petition and let their Members of Parliament know how they feel about its current military priorities, particularly now we see the impact on Tonga and across the Pacific of that underwater volcanic eruption and the tsunami that has come with it in the midst of this pandemic.
‘A most interesting and worthy initiative ‘(from ‘Nature’)
Meet Carlo Rovelli – quantum physicist connecting sciences and humanities. See his books.
He has done everything he can to get rid of what he calls the ‘pernicious modern’ separation of the sciences from the humanities. And his humanity and depth of understanding is here.
Put defence money into planetary emergencies, urge Nobel winners The Global Peace Dividend initiative was launched last month by more than 50 Nobel laureates and the presidents of 5 major science academies.
It calls on all countries to jointly reduce military spending by 2% each year and instead contribute to a global fund to tackle climate change, pandemics and extreme poverty.
Theoretical physicists Carlo Rovelli and Matteo Smerlak, the organizers of the initiative, encourage more people to sign the petition here: peace-dividend.org.
Illustration by Marc Blazewicz. Credit: Zbruch / Getty (map), Getty Images (vectors).
‘New research reveals the economic viability of developing and developed countries partnering to reach enhanced emissions reduction goals.
‘Chile, New Zealand and Switzerland may be half a world apart geographically, but researchers say they share many of the same challenges when it comes to reducing their carbon emissions.
From the opportunities of geothermal energy to the challenges facing the high-emitting dairy and forestry industries, to the need to consult and cooperate with local indigenous groups, these countries have more similarities than you might think.’
Suzi Kerr, chief economist at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), says the Climate Action Teams model partners wealthier developed countries with developing countries to reduce emissions globally. It is about increasing ambitions at an affordable cost, and not about using the mechanism to replace or avoid domestic targets and objectives for net zero.
“By 2030, more than 70% of emissions will be in developing countries,” she says. “That means that the mitigation action that has to happen will be in developing countries.
“If we allow the wealthier countries to support and work with developing countries, and increase mitigation in the developing countries, through that support we can double the amount of mitigation for the same cost. So you can massively increase climate change ambition, making it much more likely that we will achieve our 1.5°C goal.”
What are Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)?
Nationally Determined Contributions are actions that individual countries have committed to take in order to achieve the goal of limiting global warming to below 2° Celsius, as part of the UN-led 2015 Paris Agreement.
Kerr says the teams would most likely be successful when the partnerships were between countries with similar industries and economies – to facilitate the sharing of policies, information and technology – or where there was an existing and historical relationship.
But she says both host (developing) and partnering (developed) countries would need to show a genuine and ongoing commitment to emissions reduction policies and frameworks for the plan to work.
“Chile already has quite an ambitious target – they would be mitigating beyond that, which would then put them on a path to be more ambitious,” she says.’
Suzi Kerr, EDF
One of the challenges would be to ensure that the price paid for emissions reduction in developing countries was fair and sustainable – not ridiculously low targets, but more sustainable long-term carbon emissions reductions based across whole sectors of the economy.
“Some countries are engaging in bilateral agreements with other countries where they are buying their low-hanging fruit – really cheap emission reductions,” says Ana Pueyo, a fellow at the New Zealand-based Motu Economic and Public Policy Research Institute.
“We would want them to collaborate in a climate team with a country that has a reasonably ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). And we would not be supporting them just to meet their NDC, we will be supporting them to go beyond.
We want to collaborate with countries that are ambitious.”
What is the Kyoto Protocol?
The Kyoto Protocol was a UN agreement adopted in 1995 that committed industrialised countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to combat climate change. It has been largely superseded by the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Kerr says the proposal had a lot of potential in a country like Australia, where domestic politics around emissions reduction was messy and fraught with pushback from vested interests.
She says a Climate Action Teams model would enable a country like Australia to raise its ambition by partnering with neighbours like Papua New Guinea or Indonesia, or countries with similar economies and challenges like South Africa, and get a better return on investment when it came to reductions.
“Australia is going to really need to find ways to make real change without causing dramatic, politically impossible change in the Australian economy.”
Suzi Kerr, EDF
“Australia already has strong trade and aid relationships with Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, which would make them suitable candidates, or in South Africa you have many of the same challenges of large mining sectors trying to transition away from coal,” Kerr says.
“These natural affinities could be a really great thing because Australia is going to really need to find ways to make real change without causing dramatic, politically impossible change in the Australian economy. Australian climate policy has had a pretty rocky past, but this is the sort of opportunity to do something really good without having to fight the vested interests head on in the way some of the other policies might require.”
Kerr reports there has been lots of interest internationally. “Countries are really beginning to take their compliance seriously and they’re taking on much more ambitious, nationally determined contributions. They are also realising how difficult this is going to be.”
Our Australian Federal government is backing the exploitation of pristine waters off the NW coast of Western Australia by Woodside which now contains part of what was BHP. It is called the Scarborough Project. The Australian Coalition, a neo-liberal government, shown by its preference for privatisation and its now clearly market-driven approach to the pandemic, is undermining national efforts to protect the environment, preferring separate deals with different States and Territories.
It still avoids establishing ‘fit for purpose’ National Environment and Biological Diversity legislation required by the Graeme Samuel’s Report on the 1999/2002 legislation.
In the United Kingdom, see how its Environmental Agency has been hamstrung steadily by governments. Read George Monbiot’s essay.
The ease with which I registered my dead goldfish as a waste disposer shows how total regulatory collapse has opened the door to organised crime.
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 24th December 2021
It’s a tragic story, with a happy ending. Until I was seven, I had a goldfish called Algernon. He wasn’t the most exciting pet, but I was quite upset when I found him floating one morning on the surface of his little tank. This, or so I thought, was the end of a short and uneventful existence.
But a few weeks ago, I wrote a column about the failure to regulate waste disposal in the UK. It showed how millions of tonnes of waste, some of it extremely hazardous, are now being handled by organised criminal networks, and illegally dumped or burned, presenting major hazards to our health and to the living world. It showed how the Environment Agency in England and its equivalents in the rest of the UK have lost control, to the extent that anyone can now get themselves officially licensed as a waste disposer, using false information that can remain unchecked.
Some people found this hard to believe. But as chance would have it, at that very moment, the spirit of my dead goldfish spoke to me. With a clarity he had never exhibited in life, he explained that he wished to be registered as an upper-tier carrier, broker and dealer in waste. This would ensure that anyone paying him to dispose of waste materials could be confident that he had met the requisite standards, and was not the kind of fishy operator who would take your money, dump your waste illegally, evade landfill tax and potentially land you, the unwitting householder, with a £5,000 fine for failing to exercise your “duty of care”.
Perhaps motivated by a sense of guilt, as I had neglected him in life, I sought to fulfil his wishes. On the Environment Agency’s website, I affirmed that he was a, ahem, sole trader and had no unspent convictions. I gave his name as Algernon Goldfish, of 49 Fishtank Close, Ohlooka Castle, Derby, and paid the requisite fee. It took less than four minutes. A month on, my long-deceased goldfish remains on the register as a bona fide upper-tier waste dealer. If you want your rubbish safely removed, no job too big or too small, Algernon is your man. Or your fish.
Already, in other words, the system has fallen apart. The government says, “We have pledged to reform the licensing system for waste carriers”, but this has been going on for a long time, and the situation is likely to get worse. Last month, the Environment Agency circulated two memos to its managers. They explained that while reports of pollution, illegal dumping and other kinds of damage are rising, grants for incident management have been reduced in real terms “by 90% in 10 years”. The only events to which it can still respond are those it is specifically funded to investigate, which means incidents at “regulated sites” (such as places handling radioactive waste, certain kinds of illegal waste and those involved in flood control) and water companies.
The memos instructed staff to “not routinely spend time” on anything other than acute catastrophes caused by other businesses. Members of the public reporting incidents at unregulated sites should be “reassured that their report is useful to help us prioritise our work”, and are effectively advised to take the law into their own hands, by speaking directly to the perpetrator. The agency’s officers are then instructed to “shut down report”.
In other words, unless you run a regulated site or are a water company, you can do what you damn well like. Mind you, as a constant stream of filth suggests, if you are a water company or a regulated site you can also do what you damn well like. Everything is fishy now, except our rivers.
There are two categories of crime in this country: those for which you can expect to be prosecuted, and those for which you can’t. There’s no consistent connection between the seriousness of the crime and the likelihood of prosecution. Bag snatchers stealing a couple of hundred pounds a week are more likely to be caught and charged than fraudsters emptying the bank accounts of elderly people. Carrying a few grams of cannabis is more likely to land you in trouble than dumping hundreds of tonnes of hazardous waste.
On one estimate, aside from the fake companies registered on the Environment Agency site, there are more than 250,000 unlicensed (in other words outright illegal) waste disposers in the UK. The number of con artists involved in ripping off vulnerable people and in white-collar fraud must also be high. According to the latest report by the auditors Crowe UK and the University of Portsmouth, in 2020 fraud cost people and businesses in the UK £137bn. Their estimate has risen by 88% since 2007. Yet only 0.4% of fraud is believed to result in a criminal sanction.
Many tens of thousands of people are likely to be involved in the industrial-scale money laundering, tax evasion, shell companies, corrupt practice and concealment of assets in the City of London and its satellites, and the UK’s property market. Large numbers are running coercive labour rackets in farming, car washes, nail bars, restaurants and other businesses. Altogether, it would not be surprising if more than a million people in the UK were engaged in the kind of organised crime that seldom leads to prosecution.
This is what you get from 40 years of deregulation. While good citizens are bound by ever more oppressive laws, “the market”, according to neoliberal theory, should be released from regulatory constraint. Deregulation is a euphemism for destroying the effective capacity of the state to protect us from chancers, conmen and criminals. Empowered to cut corners, fishy businesses outcompete responsible ones and we begin to shift towards an organised crime economy.
As crime syndicates extend their reach and expand their wealth, they become politically powerful. Eventually, mafias become embedded in public life. This is what happened in the US during prohibition. You can see it at work today in Russia, Italy, Mexico and Lebanon. There is no obvious mechanism to prevent it from happening here.
When Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s chief strategist, announced that his aim was “the deconstruction of the administrative state”, people were horrified. But in reality, it has been happening for years, on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s just that they do it subtly. Our government couldn’t simply close down the Environment Agency: people would be up in arms. Instead, it hacks the budget and creates an institutional culture of demoralisation and failure. The same goes for the other regulatory bodies. Probity, integrity, trust? They sleep with the fishes.
Lawsuit Launched to Protect Tucson Shovel-Nosed Snakes Under Endangered Species Act
Rare, Beautiful Snake Wrongly Denied Protection
TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice today of its intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for once again denying protection to Tucson shovel-nosed snakes under the Endangered Species Act. In response to a September 2020 petition from the Center, the Service denied protection to the species for the second time in September 2021.
“The lovely Tucson shovel-nosed snake needs protection from massive urban sprawl from Phoenix and Tucson,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “Protecting this snake will mean protecting more of the natural desert we all love.”
The Center first petitioned for protection of the snake in 2004. In response, the Service found the snake warranted endangered species protection in 2010 but said such protections were precluded by its work to protect other species. In 2014 the agency reversed course and found the snake didn’t warrant protection. In doing so, however, it misinterpreted a genetics study to find the snake had a much larger range than previously thought and therefore didn’t need protection. That conclusion was directly refuted in a letter from the preeminent expert on the snake, the late Phil Rosen, Ph.D. In denying protection once more in September, the Service ignored this new information.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is badly in need of reform, but so far we haven’t seen any effort to do so by the Biden administration,” said Greenwald. “It’s not just this little snake that has been wrongly denied protection. Over the years the agency has refused to list dozens of species protections despite clear imperilment, including wolverines and pygmy owls. Even when the agency does protect species, it often takes far too long, sometimes more than a decade.”
The striking Tucson shovel-nosed snake is characterized by alternating black-and-red stripes over its cream-colored body. It has a small range limited to portions of Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties in an area sometimes referred to as the “Sun Corridor Megapolitan” for its rapid urbanization. Making matters worse, the snake only occurs on flat valley bottoms that are prime development areas.
Like other shovel-nosed snakes, the Tucson shovel-nosed snake is uniquely adapted to swim through sandy soils using its spade-shaped snout. According to a study by Rosen and Center Senior Scientist Curt Bradley, the snake has already lost 39% of its historic habitat to agriculture and urban development; the vast majority of its remaining habitat is unprotected and vulnerable.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.