Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward







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Recent Posts

Climate Change

The oil shock of 2020 appears to be here – and the pain could be wide and deep

Suffering from sanctions, Russia is trying produce more and gain market share. Yegor Aleyev via Getty Images By Scott L. Montgomery, University of Washington The world is again undergoing an oil shock. Prices, already on a downward trend, have collapsed 30% in less than a week, bringing the total fall to nearly 50% since highs in early January. Consumers, of course, can expect gasoline prices to go down, but the

For nine years, multinationals like Shell and Bayer funded a prominent climate denier

Follow the Money reports: Frits Böttcher would later refer to it as a ‘historic moment’. On December 21, 1989, the retired chemistry professor visited Shell’s headquarters in Amsterdam. That day, Shell supervisory director Jan Choufoer was going to introduce him to the head of the company: managing director Huub van Engelshoven. Böttcher was highly regarded in the Netherlands. He’d been teaching at Leiden University for decades, and he was on

What can the coronavirus teach us?

Bill McKibben writes: There’s nothing good about the novel coronavirus—it’s killing many people, and shutting millions more inside, with fear as their main companion. However, if we’re fated to go through this passage, we may as well learn something from it, and it does strike me that there are a few insights that are applicable to the climate crisis that shadows all of our lives. Some of these lessons are

Tropical forests losing their ability to absorb carbon, study finds

The Guardian reports: Tropical forests are taking up less carbon dioxide from the air, reducing their ability to act as “carbon sinks” and bringing closer the prospect of accelerating climate breakdown. The Amazon could turn into a source of carbon in the atmosphere, instead of one of the biggest absorbers of the gas, as soon as the next decade, owing to the damage caused by loggers and farming interests and

Judge voids nearly 1 million acres of oil and gas leases, saying Trump policy undercut public input

The Washington Post reports: A federal judge in Idaho has voided nearly 1 million acres of oil and gas leases on federal lands in the West, saying that a Trump administration policy that limited public input on those leases was “arbitrary and capricious.” The ruling Thursday by U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Ronald E. Bush represented a win for environmentalists, who challenged the leasing policy as part of a broader effort

Indigenous people may be the Amazon’s last hope

Collecting firewood on the Waiapi indigenous reserve in Amapa state, Brazil, Oct. 13, 2017. A new bill could open Brazil’s Native lands to development. APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images By Robert T. Walker, University of Florida; Aline A. Carrara, University of Florida; Cynthia S. Simmons, University of Florida, and Maira I Irigaray, University of Florida Brazil’s divisive President Jair Bolsonaro has taken another step in his bold plans to develop

Is the Amazon rainforest going to turn into dry scrubland?

Nature reports: Seen from a monitoring tower above the treetops near Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon, the rainforest canopy stretches to the horizon as an endless sea of green. It looks like a rich and healthy ecosystem, but appearances are deceiving. This rainforest — which holds 16,000 separate tree species — is slowly drying out. Over the past century, the average temperature in the forest has risen by 1–1.5 °C.

How JPMorgan Chase became the Doomsday Bank

Bill McKibben writes: Bankers like numbers. Numbers tell the story. No emotion gets in the way. So let’s look at the numbers: Over the past three years — that is, in the years after the world came together in Paris to try to slow climate change — JPMorgan Chase lent $196 billion to the fossil-fuel industry. Over the past three years, JPMorgan Chase lent more money to the fossil-fuel industry

JP Morgan economists warn climate crisis is threat to human race

The Guardian reports: The world’s largest financier of fossil fuels has warned clients that the climate crisis threatens the survival of humanity and that the planet is on an unsustainable trajectory, according to a leaked document. The JP Morgan report on the economic risks of human-caused global heating said climate policy had to change or else the world faced irreversible consequences. The study implicitly condemns the US bank’s own investment

Ancient Antarctic ice melt caused extreme sea level rise 129,000 years ago – and it could happen again

A blue ice area, part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Professor Chris Turney, Author provided By Chris Fogwill, Keele University; Chris Turney, UNSW, and Zoë Thomas, UNSW Rising global temperatures and warming ocean waters are causing one of the world’s coldest places to melt. While we know that human activity is causing climate change and driving rapid changes in Antarctica, the potential impacts that a warmer world would have

A military perspective on climate change could bridge the gap between believers and doubters

A soldier stands guard at the damaged entrance to Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida, Oct. 11, 2018, after Hurricane Michael. AP Photo/David Goldman By Michael Klare, Hampshire College As experts warn that the world is running out of time to head off severe climate change, discussions of what the U.S. should do about it are split into opposing camps. The scientific-environmental perspective says global warming will cause

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos launches $10-billion Bezos Earth Fund to fight climate change — employees respond

USA Today reports: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced Monday that he was committing $10 billion of his personal fortune to fight climate change with the creation of the Bezos Earth Fund. The announcement was made on Instagram. “Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet. I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change

Planting trees won’t save the planet from climate change

Erle C. Ellis, Mark Maslin and Simon Lewis write: One trillion trees. At the World Economic Forum last month, President Trump drew applause when he announced the United States would join the forum’s initiative to plant one trillion trees to fight climate change. More applause for the decision followed at his State of the Union speech. The trillion-tree idea won wide attention last summer after a study published in the

The world we are heading towards if we fail to reverse climate change

Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac write: It is 2050. Beyond the emissions reductions registered in 2015, no further efforts were made to control emissions. We are heading for a world that will be more than 3C warmer by 2100 The first thing that hits you is the air. In many places around the world, the air is hot, heavy and, depending on the day, clogged with particulate pollution. Your eyes

Tackling the climate crisis is a human rights issue

Andrew Gilmour writes: Every society in the world is going to pay a price for global warming. But it’s the poorest countries and communities who will suffer the most from rising seas and burning lands — and likely also from any drastic measures taken to prevent climate change. The environmental crisis is closely linked to the humanitarian one, and requires the joint action of climate and human rights activists. They’d

The climate crisis is a threat to mental health, especially for young people

The Guardian reports: Over the past few weeks Clover Hogan has found herself crying during the day and waking up at night gripped by panic. The 20-year-old, who now lives in London, grew up in Queensland, Australia, cheekbyjowl with the country’s wildlife, fishing frogs out of the toilet and dodging snakes hanging from the ceiling. The bushfires ravaging her homeland over the past few weeks have taken their toll. “I’ve