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Atlantic Free Press OP/ED

Thu

17

Feb

2011

Palestinian September 2011 Deadline Doomed
Thursday, 17 February 2011 07:05
by Nicola Nasser
 
The international Quartet of the US, EU, UN and Russia on Middle East peace and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) seem set on an agenda that perceives September 2011 as an historical political watershed deadline. Among the partners to the Quartet – sponsored Palestinian – Israeli “peace process,” practically deadlocked since the collapse of the US, Palestinian and Israeli trilateral summit in Camp David in 2000, only the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu seems adamant to set a completely different agenda that renders any endeavor by the Quartet to revive the process a non – starter, thus dooming the September deadline beforehand as another missed opportunity for peace making.

Denying they are containment measures aimed at political survival to avert potential Palestinian simulation in the aftermath of the regime changes in Egypt and Tunisia, the PLO is bracing for what it declares as indeed “the” watershed deadline in September 2011 that would make or break its decision to resume as a partner to the “peace process.” The PLO is reshuffling its negotiations department as well as the cabinet of the self-ruled Palestinian Authority (PA) and has called for presidential, legislative and local elections by next September to empower itself with electoral legitimacy ahead of that deadline, encouraged by what the Quartet perceives as a “really important moment of opportunity,” in the words of the Quartet’s representative the former UK prime minister Tony Blair, which is an “opportunity” created by the Arab popular uprisings that so far have swept to the dustbin of history the Tunisian and Egyptian regimes, both considered for decades major pillars of the Middle East “peace process.”
 

Mon

07

Feb

2011

The Shift In State Of The Atmosphere
Monday, 07 February 2011 08:00
by Andrew Glikson Ph.D. -  Earth and Paleoclimate science Australian National University
 
What is needed are urgent measures including deep cuts in carbon emissions and down- draw of atmospheric CO2, fast-track transformation to non-polluting energy utilities (solar, solar-thermal, wind, tide, geothermal, hot rocks), global reforestation and re-vegetation campaigns, including application of biochar (pyrolysis of biomass).

The release to the atmosphere and oceans of hundreds of billions of tons of carbon from fossil biospheres, at the rate of >2 ppm CO2 per year, is unprecedented in geological history of Earth, excepting events such as asteroid impacts which excavated and vaporized carbon-rich sediments, interfering with the carbon and oxygen cycles, which led to mass extinction of species.

The emission since 1750 of over 320 billion tons of carbon (GtC) from buried early biospheres, adding more than one half of the original carbon inventory of the atmosphere (~590 GtC), as well as the depletion of vegetation, are triggering a fundamental shift in the state of the atmosphere, tracking toward conditions which exceed interglacial temperatures over the last 400,000 years and are analogous to conditions of the mid-Pliocene ~2.8 billion years ago [1] (Figure 1), the last decade 2000-2010 being the warmest since instrumental measurements commenced (Figure 2).

As stated by Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Climate Impacts Institute [2], we're simply talking about the very life support system of this planet”.

Lost all too often in the climate debate is an appreciation of the delicate balance between the physical and chemical state of the atmosphere–ocean–land- cryosphere system and the evolving biosphere, which controls the emergence, survival and demise of species, including humans. By contrast to Venus’ thick blanket of CO2 and SO2 atmosphere, which exerts extreme pressure (90 bars) at the Venusian surface, and unlike Mars’ thin (0.01 bar) CO2 atmosphere, the presence in the Earth’s atmosphere of trace concentrations of well-mixed greenhouse gases (GHG) (CO2, CH4, NxO, O3), has modulated surface temperatures during most of the Holocene within the range of -89 and +57.7 degrees Celsius and a mean of 14°C, allowing the presence of liquid water and thereby of life. By contrast to the long-lived GHG, water vapour has a short atmospheric residence time (9 days) and low concentrations over arid climate zones and the polar regions.

Forming  a  thin  breathable  veneer  only  slightly  more  than  1000th  Earth’s diameter, and evolving both gradually as well as through major perturbations with time, the atmosphere acts as a “lungs” of the biosphere, allowing an exchange of carbon gases and oxygen with plants and animals, which in turn affect the atmosphere, for example through release of methane and photosynthetic oxygen.

As   shown   by   numerous   proxy-based   paleo-climate   studies,   when   the concentration of CO2  in the atmosphere rises above a critical threshold, the climate shifts to a different state. Any significant increase in the level of carbon gases triggers powerful feedbacks, including ice melt/warm water interaction, decline of ice reflection (albedo) and increase in infrared absorption by exposed water. Further release of CO2 from the oceans and from drying and burning vegetation shifts global climate zones toward the poles, warms the oceans and induces ocean acidification [3, 10].

The   essential   physics   of   the   infrared   absorption/emission   resonance   of greenhouse  molecules,  indicated  by  observations  in  nature  and  laboratory studies, is expressed by the relations between atmospheric CO2 and mean global temperature projections (Figure 3). Increased evaporation in warming oceans results in enhanced, often abrupt, precipitation events and floods, as indicated by current trends since about 1980 (Figure 4).

During most of Earth’s history the oxygen-poor composition of the atmosphere resulted in a major role of reduced carbon species in the air and the oceans, including methane and carbon monoxide, allowing mainly algae and bacteria to exist. It is commonly held that, from about 0.7 billion years ago, in the wake of the Marinoan glaciation (so-called ‘Snowball Earth’), oxygenation of low- temperature water allowed development of new oxygen-binding proteins and thereby of multicellular animals, followed by development of a rich variety of organisms — the “Cambrian explosion”.[4].

The present state of the biosphere, allowing survival of large mammals and of humans on the continents, developed during global cooling of the upper Eocene and in particular once when CO2  levels declined below about 500 ppm some 34 million years ago (end Eocene) [5, 7]. From this stage, interrupted by warm periods in the Oligocene (~25 million years ago) and mid-Miocene (~15 million years ago), the Antarctic ice sheet exerted a major effect on the global climate regime. About 2.8 million years ago (mid-Pliocene) the Greenland ice sheet and the Arctic Sea ice began to form, with further decline in global temperatures expressed through glacial–interglacial cycles controlled by orbital forcing (Milankovic cycles), with atmospheric CO2 levels oscillating between 180 and 280 ppm CO2  (Fig. 1), conditions which allowed the emergence of humans in Africa and their migration all over the world [6].

Recent paleoclimate studies, using multiple proxies (soil carbonate δ13C, alkenones, boron/calcium, stomata leaf pores), indicate that the current CO2 level of 391 ppm and the CO2-equivalent level of ~460 ppm (which includes the methane factor), commit warming above pre-industrial levels to global increase in greenhouse forcing equivalent to temperature rise in the range of 3 to 4°C [2] (Fig. 1) and near-10°C in polar regions, tracking toward ice-free Earth conditions.

Small human clans responded to extreme climate changes during the Pleistocene (cold fronts, storms, draughts, sea level changes) through migration within and out of Africa. Homo sapiens emerged during the glacial period preceding the 124

000 year-old Emian interglacial, when temperatures were about 1°C above late Holocene  levels  (Fig.  1)  and  sea  levels  higher  by  6–8  metres  [3]. The development of agriculture, and thereby of human civilisation, had to wait until the climate stabilised about 8000 years ago, when large-scale irrigation along the great river valleys (the Nile, Euphrates, Hindus and Yellow River) became possible thanks to the multi-seasonal regulation of river flow allowed by fluctuations in the source mountains snow cover.

Since the 18th century, global temperature rose by and average of ~0.8°C. Another ~0.5°C is masked by industrial-emitted aerosols (mainly SO2). The polar regions, acting as the ‘thermostats’ of the Earth, are the source of the cold air current vortices and the cold ocean currents, such as the Humboldt and California current, which affect the ENSO cycle and keep the Earth’s overall temperature in balance, much as the blood stream regulates the body’s temperature and the supply of oxygen.

At +4°C rise, advanced to total melting of the Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheets would lead to over 10 metres-scale sea level rise. Further rise of CO2-equivalent above 500 ppm and mean global temperatures above 4°C (Figure 3) could lead toward greenhouse Earth conditions such as existed during the early Eocene [5, 7].

Feedback effects associated with a rise of atmospheric CO2  include desiccation and burning of vegetation, releasing more CO2. The onset of methane release from polar bogs and sediments is of major concern. Ice/melt water interaction proceeds as melt water melts more ice; ice loss results in albedo loss and the exposed water absorb infrared heat, leading to an amplified feedback loop. Because CO2 is cumulative, with atmospheric residence time on the scale of centuries to millennia, stabilisation of the climate through only small incremental reduction in emissions may not be sufficient to avoid runaway climate change and possible tipping points.

Climate change can be geologically defined as a global oxygenation event which affects fossil carbon deposits as well as the present biosphere. At 2 ppm CO2 per year rise the pace of carbon oxidation exceeds the fastest recorded geological rate of 0.4 ppm/year at the Paleocene–Eocene boundary at 55 Ma, when about 2000 GtC were released to the atmosphere, triggering an extinction of species [5, 7].

Sea level rise constitutes the critical parameter which reflects thesum-total of other elements of climate change. Since the early 20th century, the rate of sea level rise increased from about 1 mm/year to about 3.5 mm/year (1993–2009 mean rate 3.2+/-0.4 mm/year) due to thermal expansion and ice melt, i.e. a nearly four-fold increase since the onset of the industrial age.

The Earth poles are warming at rates 3 to 4 times faster than low latitudes (NASA/GISS, 2010) [8] (Figure 2). The most detailed satellite information available shows that ice sheets in Greenland and western Antarctica are shrinking and in some places are already in runaway melt mode (Pritchard, 2009) [9]. Laser readings from a NASA satellite indicate changes in the height of the ice sheets, especially at their edges, where warmer water eats away from below. In some parts of Antarctica ice sheets have been losing 30 feet a year in thickness since 2003.

At present the climate is in a lag period, with increasing atmospheric energy expressed       by   heat   waves,   hurricanes   and   floods,   which   increased   by approximately a factor of 2 since 1980 (Figure 4), and by a shift of mid-latitude high-pressure zones toward the poles. With ensuing desertification of temperate zones, i.e. southern Europe, southern and southwest Australia, southern Africa, the desiccated forests become prey to firestorms. .

At 460 ppm CO2-equivalent the climate is tracking close to the upper stability limit of the Antarctic ice sheet, defined at approximately 500 ppm [3, 5, 7]. Humans cannot argue with the physics and chemistry of the atmosphere, nor with the sensitivity of the oceans and marine life to changes in pH [10]. What is needed are urgent measures including deep cuts in carbon emissions and down- draw  of  atmospheric  CO2,  fast-track  transformation  to  non-polluting  energy utilities (solar, solar-thermal, wind, tide, geothermal, hot rocks), global reforestation and re-vegetation campaigns, including application of biochar (pyrolysis of biomass).

The alternative does not bear contemplation.

7 February, 2011


References

[1]   M Pagani et al., 2010, ‘High Earth-system climate sensitivity determined from

Pliocene carbon dioxide concentrations’ Nature Geoscience,3, p 27–30.

[2]   HJ Schellnhuber, 2009, Tipping elements in the Earth System. Proceedings National Academy Science, 106, p. 20561-20563.http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE58R3UI20090928

[3]   J Hansen et al, 2008, ‘Target CO2: Where Should humanity aim?’ Open

Atmospheric Science Journal, V2, p. 217–231.

[4]   SJ Gould, 1989. Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History.

W.W. Norton & Company.ISBN 0393027058

[5]   JC Zachos et al, 2008, ’An early Cainozoic perspective on greenhouse warming and carbon-cycle dynamics’ Nature451, p. 279–283.

[6]   PB deMenocal, 2004, ‘African climate change and faunal evolution during the

Pliocene-Pleistocene’ Earth and Planetary Science Letters 220, 1/2, p. 3–24.

[7]   JC Zachos et al. 2001. Trends, rhythms, and aberrations in global climate 65 Ma to present. Science 292, p. 686-693.

[8]   NASA-GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP)

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/

[9]   HD Pritchard et al., 2009, ‘Extensive dynamic thinning on the margins of the

Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets’ Nature 461, p. 971–975.

[10]  JEN Veron, 2008, Mass extinctions and ocean acidification: biological constraints on geological dilemmas. Coral Reefs 27, p. 459–472

DOI 10.1007/s00338-008-0381-8


 
 

Mon

31

Jan

2011

Palestine Looks Abroad for Rational Understanding
Monday, 31 January 2011 10:37
by Mahboob A. Khawaja, Ph.D.

"What one misses in Arab and Palestinian culture is a moral and intellectual standard by which truth and falsehood can be distinguished and according to which intellectuals act regardless of profit or patronage."

"We Palestinians must still reconcile ourselves with our history, and with the perhaps futile sacrifices of the past century. And we must restore Palestine to its place not simply as a small piece of territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River but an idea that for years galvanized the Arab world into thinking about and fighting for social justice, democracy, and a different kind of future than the one that has been imposed on it by force and by an absence of Arab will." (Edward W. Said, Peace and its Discontents, 1996)

Palestine is one but Palestinians are "scattered like seeds" describes the distinguish professor of comparative cultures and civilizations - Dr. Shaw Dallal, the portrait of Palestinian lives ruined by the global politics of the few. When people are dispersed by force of political violence, they encounter insurmountable challenges and seem to build–up the momentum for unity of ideas and ideals and strive with strength of faith for a just cause and survival under tormenting conditions as persist in Palestine for over 60 years after the establishment of the State of Israel. The Jewish homeland in Palestine is outcome of the British- American complacency to avoid accountability for the centuries of conscious persecutions of the Jews in Europe. There was a culture of anti-Jewish religious metaphor across the European world that spilled over to America while Europeans migrated to the new world. Ironically, Arabs are the only people and civilization that enjoys a history of extending human dignity and equal treatment to Jewish people in their homes and hearts. Today, Arabs are the victims of Israeli intransigence and cruelty in Palestine. They live under barbed culture as did the Jews under the Nazis. Perhaps, Jewish emigrants from Eastern Europe could not think to free themselves from the past except to sustain the Nazi culture of human atrocities and reshape Palestine with barbed wires walls and check points to reinvent the insanity of Nazism. What a strange co-incident of human history? Nobody wants to learn from the lesson of history. Would this course of human ignorance favor the Jewish people and the State of Israel? Would Jews be more secure by depriving the Palestinians of their inborn right to freedom- an independent State of Palestine? When darkness prevails, people and nation seem to lose the sense of direction. For ages, the capitalist Europeans-American fought ideological wars against communist Russia and China. Today, they eagerly and desperately trying to bridge the historical gulfs often seem unbridgeable. American economic survival depends on the I.O.U notes of trillion of dollars from the Chinese. History is not fixed nor is the destiny of people. Jews should know better as they have gone through various critical junctures in their life cycle- it is the enlightened foresight that can envisage the future for the Arab-Israeli co-existence, not the warfare of the past.
 

Mon

31

Jan

2011

As the Dominoes Flow toward Israel
Monday, 31 January 2011 10:35
by William A. Cook, Ph.D.

While the people of the mid-east rise in protest against their respective American supported dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, with the American-Israeli attempts to control Lebanon on the brink of chaos and collapse, and the "peace negotiations" between the Palestinians and the Israelis torpedoed by both Netanyahu and Abbas, the confusion at the State Department could be eased if it spent some time reviewing the United States' prior efforts to control the people of the mid-east, especially in Iran. It's one thing for the Secretary of State and the President to reiterate America's purported policy on human rights and another to acknowledge the hypocrisy of it.

After all, our policy appears clear, "We have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and free of corruption; and the freedom to live as you choose. These are human rights, and we support them everywhere," Mr. Gibbs said, speaking on behalf of the President. America supports human rights everywhere, with words … as our dutiful TV channels give Gibbs, Crowley, Clinton and Obama extensive time to demonstrate … but there are no words directed at the Palestinian people's rights.

How strange to watch our CNN talking heads, especially the Israeli trained Wolf Blitzer, former editor of AIPAC's in house "Near East Report," stuttering before the cameras as he recalled the fall of the Shah of Iran, America's staunch ally for 25 years, as a direct result of similar riots by Iranian civilians, and the resulting loss of America's control in Iran. He failed to mention that our friend had subjugated the Iranian people beneath the boots of his SAVAK mercenaries that protected his elegant life style while the people suffered under his despotic regime. Then as now our Presidents spoke of America's support of human rights neglecting to mention the CIA's overthrow of the elected nationalist (1951) Mohammed Mossadegh as Prime Minister.
 

Mon

31

Jan

2011

Gilad Atzmon Discusses American Foreign Policy on Press TV
Monday, 31 January 2011 10:27
by Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon (Hebrew: גלעד עצמון‎, born June 9, 1963) is a jazz musician, author and anti-Zionist activist who was born in Israel and currently lives in London.
"Anti-Semite is an empty signifier, no one actually can be an Anti-Semite and this includes me of course. In short, you are either a racist - which I am not - or have an ideological disagreement with Zionism... which I have."
He was born a secular Israeli Jew in Tel Aviv, and trained at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. His service in the Israeli military convinced him Israel had become a militarized state controlled by religious extremists. In 1994, Atzmon emigrated from Israel to London, where he studied philosophy. Atzmon is an anti-Zionist who critiques Jewish identity issues and supports the Palestinian Right of Return as well as the establishment of a single state in Israel/Palestine. He is a signatory to the "Palestinians are the Priority Petition" which states “full and unconditional support of the Palestinian people is a condition sine qua non for activists to adopt.
 
The American foreign policy is at cross-roads. For decades, Washington has advertised equality and human rights in international circles. But, at times, the U.S. has contradicted its own alleged values, philosophy and democratic approach.
 
Some argue that America's self-interest supersedes the spread of democracy worldwide. However, there are those who say Washington's approach serves neither the national interest of Americans, nor does it promote equality and democracy.
 
So, the question arises: who then benefits from current American policies?
 
Press TV's U.S. Desk discussed the issue with Gilad Atzmon who is a political activist, musician and author in London.
 
Atzmon argues that American policy is a 'total mess' because the American administration has gambled on authoritarian regimes who have been sympathetic and obedient to Washington.



All the while, this support contradicts Washington's claims of spreading democracy in the world.  Atzmon writes: "The American government is very confused at the moment.  They don't know whether to support Hosni Mubarak or the people. The same goes for Tunisia last week. America was also supporting the Shah. And there is a big question why America is getting it wrong all the time.”
 
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