God Is In The TV: Track Of The Day #586: Lost Girls – Hold Me Down

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Sounding like some bright eyed sun shiny sortie cutting itself loose from a 60s Californian scene to embark on a wide open road trip to pastures anew all trimmed in subtle countrified opines radiantly showered by crystalline jangles and honey crusted boy / girl harmonies.

You’d be rightly forgiven for thinking this was the handiwork of some current band of hotly tipped riff slingers. Not so. Left to gather dust, unloved and near forgotten in the vaults, this was initially prepped for release back at the tail end of the 90s but was withdrawn at the last minute. Until now that is.

‘Hold Me Down’ comes courtesy of Lost Girls– a collaborative meeting of minds between Creation / 4AD artist Heidi Berry and Kitchens of Distinction’s Patrick Fitzgerald which finds both artists stepping outside of their familiar comfort zones – the self titled album dusted and cleaned will appear via 3 Loop music as an expanded 2 disc set shortly to include the original aborted album with additional material sourced from demos and sessions. Certainly something that should prove of interest to Throwing Muses and Kristen Hersh admirers though why oh why do I keep hearing the subtle undertow of the Monkees as rephrased by R.E.M. careering through this nugget.

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God Is In The TV: Perfume Genius – Too Bright (Matador)

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When Perfume Genius, Seattle native Mike Hadreas, released ‘Queen’, the first single from his third full-length Too Bright, it raised a few eyebrows from fans that had followed his work all the way from the demos he had offered on Myspace before the turn of the decade. The naked heart that was the metronome of tracks such as ‘Mr Peterson’ and ‘Learning’, tracks so fragile that they felt like they’d fall apart as you listened to them, was now almost completely impenetrable and obscured by a ribcage of flamboyance and assurance.

 

On ‘Queen’ Mike shrieks the battle-cry “No family is safe, when I sashay” with confidence, backed by pounding drums and electronics that are a world away from the minimal arrangements of his earlier work. By no means is it a poor track; in song-writing terms it stands comfortably alongside the material on ‘Learning’ and ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’, but its release seemed to be a precursor to a change of direction that might hinder just what makes Mike’s music so alluring; the fragility, the nervousness, the beauty.

 

Fortunately Too Bright, whilst being by far the most developed and exotic Perfume Genius album to date, does not forsake pure, primordial emotion. Infact the album’s highlight, and you could even go as far as saying the highlight of the Perfume Genius catalogue to date, is when he combines these two elements. ‘Fool’ begins with finger-clicks and a bouncing synth riff, evocating the sexuality and ambiance of Prince or Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie, but at the point that you expect it to launch into a thumping chorus in the same manner as the preceding ‘Queen’ it instead wilts to a striking, untamed reverb-soaked falsetto, the kind that My Morning Jacket‘s Jim James used to break hearts with until his ego got the better of him, before it builds back up again.

 

Further highlights can be found at both ends of the album’s sonic spectrum. ‘Grid’ is all tribal percussion and howls, Mike’s fastest and most aggressive track to date and one of a handful on which he hands vocal duties to a third party, bringing to mind tUnE-yArD‘s W H O K I L L S album at its darkest. Contrasting this in the final third of the album is the stunning ‘I’m A Mother’, an over-bearing death march that kneels at the mid-point between Sigur Rós‘Avalon’ and the first three tracks on their landmark ( ) album. Pitch-shifted vocals, their meaning for the most part incalculable, choke to be heard below an impenetrable organ riff, and it sounds like sorrow and fear and uncertainty and throat cancer.

 
In the end for all the dressing placed upon Too Bright, that naked heart still beats and its rhythm is still as hypnotic as ever.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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God Is In The TV: Go Kart Mozart, The Exchange – Bristol, 12th of September 2014

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Lawrence has been steadily making albums as Go Kart Mozart since 1999. Quirky synths and lurid lyrics collide amidst maverick pop that is somehow still yet to eclipse Felt, his staid indie band of the 80s. The recent documentary Lawrence of Belgravia gave us a man at once endlessly tiring to be an adored mega star yet reclusively dwelling in a council flat. He warrants the mass acclaim he yearns, but both music and man may well be too odd to fit. To whit: the last Go Kart Mozart tour was mostly cancelled, reportedly due to lack of interest.

It’s a privilege, then, to be in Bristol to catch this rare live event. Bristol’s compact Exchange venue is hosting Fanzine festival, a celebration of indie pop like The Brilliant Corners (from the legendary Sarah Records stable) who are our curators for the weekend. Amelia Fletcher will also make an appearance with her new band. For now, a flash of satin jacket signifies the unmistakeable trademark of a Go Kart Mozart member, about to take stage. Lawrence is unassuming and hesitant in his arrival, but is no less a heartening sight.

The band belt out more than a dozen excellently curated tunes from across all three of their albums. West Brom Blues from last year’s On the Hot Dog Streets pines for winning goals and girls alike, but the anthemic Lawrence Takes Over picks us up before Come on You Lot rallies the crowd. Then it’s a stream of sprightly, electro‒ beat, pop gems. Despite carrying the staple Lawrence theme of heartbreak, The Sun is as brilliantly shimmering and tuneful as a 90s europop hit.

Where Felt provided poker‒ faced, reflective indie, Go Kart Mozart are instant, delicious pop, all neon‒ lit, brash and hedonistic. Who else but Lawrence could write the perfect antidote to the notion of ‘benefits cheats’, call it Selfish and Lazy and Greedy, and fill it with unironic, proud sentiments about staying in bed? An anthem for these austere times, it’s a celebratory two finger salute to David Cameron’s workfare schemes.

Electric Rock and Roll is another sensational call to the dancefloor. Go Kart Mozart are the musical equivalent of a glitter cannon in moments like these and the injustice of their relative obscurity is reinforced.

Almighty effort on synth and extremely energetic backing vocals make Terry Miles an essential part of festivities. Unapologetic bottletop glasses and moptop hair give him the 70s look that fits in perfectly with the band’s uncompromisingly unmodern sound.

Hecklers asking for old Denim songs are dismissed by the singer curtly: ‘I can’t understand your growling.’ He has no time for sidetracking, it’s straight on with the music. Denim were another cracking band of Lawrence’s, post−Felt but which he understandably won’t perform. Go Kart Mozart are the best of all as far as Lawrence is concerned, and he’s damned right, too. He’s a rare artist inasmuch as his genuinely best work is his most current, because he’s that creative.

Donna and the Dope Fiends is a rollicking, joyful pop song that just happens to be about scoring drugs. Being aware of Lawrence’s own battles with the stuff, abandonless dancing seems awkward, even guilty, but despite the grim topic, the song is just too joyous to ignore any form of dancing. The song is repeated at the end, and either poignancy resonates, or it’s opportunity to forget, rejoice and reel.

No more than forty people exploit the chance to be at this exclusive gig.

There’s a lingering feeling that music’s last original may forever be romanticised for his first band Felt’s gentle, sensitive indie. But that’s in the past ‒ the zesty, audacious pop he’s making with Go Kart Mozart is here and now, and awaiting voracious, righteous fanaticism.

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God Is In The TV: PREVIEW: Jamie T – Turn On The Light

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With the current furore surrounding Jamie Treays, one would be forgiven for thinking that he had been a permanent fixture on the face of UK indie. That’s simply not the case however, as Carry on the Grudge, his third album, marks the end of a five year hiatus for Treays, otherwise known as Jamie T. and while some assumed he’d packed everything in, when news of the record began to circulate, the hype machine went in to overdrive.

Now, a week before the album’s release, Jamie T has released the third track to be taken from Carry on the Grudge, ‘Turn On the Light’. Fusing together Jamie’s trademark drawl with a soft, uplifting chorus, it’s a track that hints at the more mature, darker aspects of the record it’s taken from, whilst never being too far removed from earlier material. For those struggling to wait until the album, ‘Turn On the Light’ should be just enough to see through until its release next week.

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Carry on the Grudge is released on September 29 via Virgin

You can pre-order the album here ( http://po.st/COTG )

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The VPME Track Of The Day – FURS – ‘An Eye On The Vicious’

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Not content with being one the most exciting new bands to emerge in the last few years, London based FURS could also quite conceivably be dubbed ‘most photogenic new band’.  This accolade is further cemented with the addition of Scanners bassist Amina Bates who joins brother and sister Liam and Elle Wade alongside Olly Betts (the Duke Spirit) as the band return as a foursome with a brand new single ‘An Eye On The Vicious’. One of our tips at the end of last year, FURS deliver another rousing slice of cinematic 60’s infused dreamy psychpop which is the second tune to emerge from their forthcoming debut album following last years spiralling pop nugget ‘Just Kids’. 

The album’s due out in early 2015 and was recorded and produced by Liam and Olly from the band at the Crows Nest Studios in London, in the meantime ‘An Eye On The Vicious’ or ‘ A Ne Yeo Nthe Vicio Usfurs’ according the graphic below is released on 3rd November with the band playing The Lexington in London on 7th October

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Vicious

FURS: Danielle Wade (vocals), Liam Wade (guitar), Amina Bates (bass), and Olly Betts (drums).

FURS-LIVE

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God Is In The TV: Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia – 26th and 27th September 2014

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Camp and Furnace

With the controls having been set firmly for the heart of the city’s Baltic Triangle, the third Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia launches into orbit. And for thirty six hours, Camp and Furnace – a huge converted warehouse straight out of Merseyside’s illustrious, industrial past – is a seething mass of cosmic humanity celebrating this art form as it continues to enjoy a massive cultural resurgence.

There is visual art, including Dan Tombs’ installation built around the transportive concept of circuit bending and a further interpretation of the Liverpudlian post-punk band CLINIC’s Production Line art installation whereby live musical feeds are taken from the festival public/performance spaces and then mixed and streamed to the audience. There is cinema, including a screening of the Italian Dario Argento’s hallucinatory horror Suspiria. And on Saturday afternoon there is a spoken word programme, all of which take place in the Gallery above Blade Factory, the third of the event’s performance spaces.

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Spindrift

But lying at the very heart of psychedelia’s place in popular culture – ever since it’s San Fransiscan Haight-Ashbury awakening in the mid to late 1960s – is music. And from early afternoon on Friday until the very small hours of Sunday morning, with barely a pause for breath let alone sleep, it arrives. Wave after mesmerising wave of psychedelic sound – from the psychotropic spaghetti Western melodies of Spindrift to the woozy psychedelic blues of their fellow Americans Sleepy Sun, and from the ear-shredding incessancy of Bristol’s Anthroprophh to the more reflective freak-folk of Boston’s Quilt – every possible variant of the musical genre is explored.

Friday’s impressive centrepiece comes courtesy of the futuristic independent record label and home of all things dreamy, reverby and ethereal, Sonic Cathedral as they celebrate the launch of their brand new EP ‘Psych For Sore Eyes 2’ EP by introducing Spectres, The Vacant Lots, The Early Years and Younghusband onto the Camp stage.

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The Vacant Lots

The Vacant LotsJared Artaud (vocals, guitars, drone) and Brian MacFadyen (drums, vocals, electronics) – draw upon the punk spirit of another American synth-and-voice duo, Suicide, as they merge their dense, throbbing, hypnotic pulse with some of the more frayed layers of The Brian Jonestown Massacre. The results are exhilarating.

On the other side of the wall in Furnace, Wolf People may live in a musical past but they impress with a truly post-psychedelic sound that builds bridges between Cream’s Disraeli Gears, progressive rock and freak-folk. Later on in the same venue, the Allah-Las accompany their set with footage of an endless, existential road trip across Arizona which is projected onto the venue’s multi-screens. Much like the Los Angeles quartet’s psychedelic pop, though, the journey never quite seems to reach an end.

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TRAAMS

France’s Sudden Death Of Stars show that there is life after The Incredible String Band and the distorted malevolence of The Janitors from Stockholm in Sweden also affirms that the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia’s reach is global. Nearer to home, FatCat Records’ Mazes‘ set has a much greater urgency and vigour than it had earlier in the week in York, but Saturday afternoon belongs to their fellow label-mates TRAAMS. With the motorik rhythm switch firmly in the on position these three men of Chichester just go from strength to strength with a compact set that oozes fluidity and danceability in spades.

Grumbling Fur

Daniel O’Sullivan and Alexander Tucker are Grumbling Fur and together they bring new meaning to the term stoned immaculate. They charm the Saturday night crowd in Furnace with their almost child-like wonderment and a fistful of very good psychedelic-pop tunes. They open with the quivering, quasi-techno beat of ‘Protogenesis’ from their second long player Glynnaestra; latest single ‘All The Rays’ brings to mind the more deconstructed elements of Brian Eno’s Before And After Science album; though the biggest cheer of the evening is reserved for ‘The Ballad Of Roy Batty’ which deftly replaces Blade Runner’s dystopian vision with a simple yet ethereal reassurance.

Earlier the Lay Llamas – the duo of Nicola Giunta and Gioele Valenti supplemented here by Matteo Pin on guitar, William Zancan on drums and Gianluca Herbertson on synthesisers – continue with their spiritual, psychedelic expedition that takes them way beyond the confines of their Sicilian borders, while later in the evening the Swedish three-piece Hills set the fuzzed-out scene for their fellow countrymen and women, the faceless collective that is Goat who close out the festival in a suitable whirl of psyched out, astral splendour.

Embracing the central characteristics of mind-expansion that lie at the very core of psychedelic counter-culture, the Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia continues to grow. For two days and nights it sticks resolutely to the principles of non-conventional tradition by not only presenting some of the very best out-there neo-psychedelic music around today but also doing so in what is a very relaxed, friendly, safe and inclusive environment.

Additional reporting from Anastasia Connor, whose interviews at the festival with Grumbling Fur and The Vacant Lots will appear on these pages presently.

Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia was held on 26th and 27th September 2014 at Camp and Furnace, 67 Greenland St, Liverpool, Merseyside L1 0BY.

More photos from the festival can be seen here

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Owen Jones: Can this HIV drug help to end 30 years of blighted lives? | Owen Jones

Truvada is giving peace of mind to gay men in the US it should be offered here on the NHS now

It is an insensitive feeling to have, but it is what it is: a sense of relief that I did not live through the 1980s as a gay man. It is not just the suffocating homophobia institutionalised in law, fanned by the media, rampant in public opinion all of which lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists fought with courage and often at great personal cost.

To my generation, the emergence of HIV in the early 1980s seems like an almost unbearably nightmarish episode. Clusters what a grim, clinical term of young, healthy men succumbing to Karposis Sarcomi, a rare cancer previously thought to afflict predominantly older, eastern European men. Partners tending to their loved ones as their bodies were fatally ravaged with disease, knowing that they themselves would succumb alone. Diagnoses that were death sentences with no appeal; gay men attending weekly funerals; and treated like lepers by an unsympathetic public. No cure, no successful treatment, no hope.

Continue reading…

The Oldspeak Journal Why Good News For The Ozone Layer Is Bad News For The Climate

2014 927 ozone fwOldspeak: “The “good news” arrived via the Associated Press on September 11: Thanks to the Montreal Protocol, atmospheric ozone is recovering. Scientists have been monitoring atmospheric ozone since 1989, the year the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete Ozone (a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer) came into effect (it was negotiated in 1987). The scientists released their latest assessment on September 10, the subject of the Associated Press report….According to NASA scientist Paul A. Newman, ozone levels climbed 4 percent in mid-northern latitudes at about 30 miles up from 2000 to 2013… The very slight thickening of the ozone layer is, as claimed, due to the phase-out of CFCs and other bad ozone actors. But it’s also due to the increased concentration of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases cool the upper stratosphere. As that region of the heavens cools, ozone is rebuilt. The good ozone news is thus bad climate news….Among the most powerful greenhouse gases are HFCs, the non-ozone-destroying substitute for CFCs. Some HFCs have a global warming potential (GWP) 10,000 times that of carbon dioxide (the most commonly used, R-134a, has a GWP of 1430). The growth in their use is clear… without global action, HFC use is expected to increase significantly over the next three or four decades with dire consequences for the climate…Pretending that miniscule improvement in atmospheric ozone levels is cause for celebration is not that big of a deal. The more serious problem is continuing to suggest that the Montreal Protocol is a model for international action on climate change. Dealing with CFCs and their problematic substitutes was, and is, infinitely easier than confronting climate chaos. Banning gases with especially high global warming potential (GWPs) is necessary, but nowhere near sufficient. Carbon emissions are the lifeblood of the global economy, of affluent life styles lived by the few but aspired to by the many. A vigorous climate convention requires far-reaching shifts in virtually every corner of daily life in the developed world.” -Steven Breyman

“This is what’s it’s come to in our sad state of affairs. Manufacturing a “victory” and “one of the great success stories of international collective action in addressing a global environmental change phenomenon.” out of something that actually signifies defeat and failure in addressing the global environmental change phenomenon. The reality, is the chemicals that were used to replace to chemicals found to deplete the ozone layer, are thousands of times more potent and harmful than carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas most of our attention is focused on. The use of these chemicals are expected to increase significantly over the next 3 to 4 decades. How can this reality be couched as good news? Only in a reality where words, artfully and duplicitously weaved together, mean their complete opposite. An Orwellian world, where “War is Peace”, “Freedom is Slavery”, and “Ignorance is Strength”.  No matter how we choose to perceive reality, Earth’s 6th mass extinction keeps rolling along.” –OSJ

 

By Stephen Breyman @ Truthout:

We live in a world hungry for good environmental news. But that’s no excuse for journalistic or scientific spin passing as an unvarnished victory for the environment, nor for exaggeration of the value of a narrowly focused environmental treaty as a model for a universal agreement.

The “good news” arrived via the Associated Press on September 11: Thanks to the Montreal Protocol, atmospheric ozone is recovering. Scientists have been monitoring atmospheric ozone since 1989, the year the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete Ozone (a protocol to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer) came into effect (it was negotiated in 1987). The scientists released their latest assessment on September 10, the subject of the Associated Press report.

Some background is in order. The Montreal Protocol is important on its own merits. A world of thinning atmospheric ozone is a world of increased skin cancer, eye problems and reduced agricultural yields and phytoplankton production. Every member state of the United Nations ratified the Protocol. But it is as a model for climate change negotiations and agreement that it takes on greater importance. The successful negotiation of the Montreal Protocol required agreement among policymakers, scientists and corporations, as will the replacement for the Kyoto Protocol.

The original Montreal Protocol achieved iconic status – Kofi Annan called it “perhaps the single most effective international agreement to date” – because it phased out production of five chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) known to destroy atmospheric ozone. CFCs were most widely used as refrigerants, solvents, blowing agents and fire extinguishers, as are their substitutes today. There have been five effectiveness-improving amendments to the original Protocol.

The Protocol and its amendments were possible for five reasons:

First, given the phase-in of the phase-out (zero production and use of the five CFCs was not required until 1996) DuPont, the dominant firm in the business, had time to research and manufacture the economical and less destructive substitute hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and the nondestructive hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), even though it had to be pushed hard to do so. Lacking a chlorine atom, HFCs do not attack the ozone layer. HFCs and HCFCs are also less persistent in the atmosphere than CFCs, from two to 40 years for the former, to up to 150 years for the latter.

Second, CFCs were going off patent, so it was in DuPont’s interest to protect the multibillion-dollar market by developing HCFCs and HFCs.

Third, the science was clear on the Antarctic ozone hole, with but a handful of companies, led by DuPont, working to deny it.

Fourth, other ozone killers – several halons and some other CFCs – were not phased out until 2010.

Fifth, mandated phaseout of HCFCs does not begin until 2015, with zero production and consumption required by 2030.

The Montreal Protocol came to be because it posed a minor challenge to the profits of but a few firms, allowed time for new substitutes to come to market, and permitted use of less dangerous ozone-destroying chemicals, or those posing no threat at all.

Now back to the alleged good news report: According to NASA scientist Paul A. Newman, ozone levels climbed 4 percent in mid-northern latitudes at about 30 miles up from 2000 to 2013. (The tiny change for the better explains why it is hard to see much if any improvement between 1989 and 2010, or between 2006 and 2010, in the photos above.) The Associated Press does not tell us about ozone concentrations at other latitudes or other altitudes (except for 50 miles up, but no specific improvement figure is reported; this probably means the improvement was less than 4 percent elsewhere in the upper atmosphere).

The improvement is a “victory for diplomacy and for science, and for the fact that we were able to work together,” said Nobel Prize chemist Mario Molina, one of the scientists who first made the connection between certain chemicals and ozone depletion. Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Program, hailed the slight recovery of atmospheric ozone as “one of the great success stories of international collective action in addressing a global environmental change phenomenon.” Political scientist Paul Wapner said the latest findings were “good news in an often-dark landscape.”

The very slight thickening of the ozone layer is, as claimed, due to the phase-out of CFCs and other bad ozone actors. But it’s also due to the increased concentration of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases cool the upper stratosphere. As that region of the heavens cools, ozone is rebuilt. The good ozone news is thus bad climate news.

2014 927 chart 1Among the most powerful greenhouse gases are HFCs, the non-ozone-destroying substitute for CFCs. Some HFCs have a global warming potential (GWP) 10,000 times that of carbon dioxide (the most commonly used, R-134a, has a GWP of 1430). The growth in their use is clear in the graph below; without global action, HFC use is expected to increase significantly over the next three or four decades with dire consequences for the climate, according to MIT atmospheric scientist Susan Solomon. (Source: TEAP/EPA/UNEP)

Ready for more double-edged good news? The Obama administration appears intent on phasing out HFCs (just in time for the UN gathering and Peoples Climate March in NYC), and a chemical that is nondestructive to ozone, with only four times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide – the hydrofluoroolefin HFO-1234YF, also known as 2,3,3,3-Tetrafluoropropene – is ready to go as the latest substitute for CFCs.

The plan (as under the Montreal Protocol) is to give giant producers (including DuPont and Honeywell which own most of the patents) and massive users (including, Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Target and Kroger’s) time to phase in HFO-1234YF. The European Union directive that automotive air conditioners use refrigerants with global warming potential (GWPs) of 150 or lower had most European car makers begin shifting to HFO-1234YF in 2011 (a total ban on more powerful climate-changing chemicals comes in 2017). General Motors has been using HFO-1234YF in Chevys, Buicks, GMCs and Cadillacs since 2013. Chrysler reportedly plans to transition to HFO-1234YF as well.

Given the history of CFCs and their substitutes, at least some adverse effects from HFO-1234YF production and use, and some glitches in the transition are likely. German automakers worry that HFO-1234YF is both too expensive and too flammable (they’re investigating the use of carbon dioxide). In case of fire following a collision, HFO-1234YF releases highly corrosive and toxic hydrogen fluoride gas. One report had it that Daimler Benz engineers witnessed combustion in two-thirds of simulated head-on crashes. Considering the requirement that auto repair shops retool their air conditioning service equipment to use HFO-1234YF, it’s likely they’ll stick with the HFC R134a as long as possible. India is so far uninterested in moving toward replacing R134a by HFO-1234YF (China is working with the United States to jointly reduce emissions of HFCs). Canada, Mexico and the United States intend to propose amendments to the Montreal Protocol to command the phase-out of HFC production.

Pretending that miniscule improvement in atmospheric ozone levels is cause for celebration is not that big of a deal. The more serious problem is continuing to suggest that the Montreal Protocol is a model for international action on climate change. Dealing with CFCs and their problematic substitutes was, and is, infinitely easier than confronting climate chaos. Banning gases with especially high global warming potential (GWPs) is necessary, but nowhere near sufficient. Carbon emissions are the lifeblood of the global economy, of affluent life styles lived by the few but aspired to by the many. A vigorous climate convention requires far-reaching shifts in virtually every corner of daily life in the developed world.

Confronting ozone depletion permitted business as usual with but the smallest of tweaks that went unnoticed by most. Overcoming the ozone depletion denial industry was a trivial challenge compared to that posed by the forces arrayed to muddle climate science and stymie strong action.

Again: a climate change agreement that includes robust mitigation, a serious campaign to build resilience against a destabilized climate, and a foundation on the principle of climate justice requires genuine and widespread change.

Preventing catastrophic and irreversible climate change compels conversion of the complex systems of transportation, agriculture, generation of electricity, cooling and heating, waste management, manufacturing, technological innovation and more. It also requires transformation in developed countries’ sense of responsibility for past and future emissions. This is why we have yet to see one. Military budgets must be slashed and war machines stopped to free up the funds necessary for building clean green economies and to stop exacerbating the problem. How likely is that as the United States returns to Iraq for the third time in as many decades?

 

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The Oldspeak Journal Sea Change: The Ecological Disaster That Nobody Sees

Sea Change: The Ecological Disaster That Nobody SeesOldspeak: “The ocean is alive; it is a living minestrone soup with an even greater diversity of life than on the land, It is where most of our oxygen is created and carbon is taken out of the atmosphere. With every breath you take, you need to thank the ocean… .The ocean drives climate and weather, It is a planetary life-support system that we have taken for granted . . . We simply must protect the machinery, the natural systems upon which our life depends.” –Sylvia Earle, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chief scientist.

Experts warn that we are currently facing an extinction event in the oceans which may rival the “Great Death” of the Permian age 250 million years ago, when 95 percent of marine species died out due to a combination of warming, acidification, loss of oxygen and habitat – all conditions that are rife today…. Within the past half century the oceans have been transformed from the planet’s most productive bioregion into arguably its most abused and critically endangered…. Trillions of microscopic ocean plants called phytoplankton contribute seasonally between 50 to 85 percent of the oxygen in earth’s atmosphere, far more than all of the world’s forests combined. Nobody knows for certain how plankton will adapt to warming seas. But one study published in the United Kingdom last year suggested, worryingly, that changes in the temperature and chemical composition of the oceans would make these critical organisms less productive. Planktonremoves carbon from the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis. Fewer plankton will mean less oxygen and more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which will further intensify “a vicious cycle of climate change…Equally scary is the prospect that, as some researchers speculate, changes in ocean temperature may melt a frozen form of methane called “clathrates,” which is ubiquitous under the planet’s continental shelves. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times as potent in the short term as carbon dioxide. If these vast reserves bubble up into the atmosphere, it will truly be “game over” for the climate as we know it… But up to now, there has been little political will to tackle the tough issues that are leading to a death by a thousand cuts for the seas around us. The Global Ocean Commission reports that the toothless international treaties that purport to regulate human use of the oceans have failed utterly to protect them.” -Richard Schiffmann

“So basically, we’re running out of air. As time passes and conditions worsen, our air supply will steadily lessen, as greenhouse gasses further intensify. Our oceans in less than 50 years have been transformed from our planets most productive bioregion, into its most abused and critically endangered. Our oceans are the true lungs of the ecology. And they are boiling, acidifying, and dying. This cannot be stopped by human actions. While our attention is being directed toward manufactured threats like ISIS, Russia, and Ebola, We’re slowly and surely suffocating our way to extinction. Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick……” -OSJ

By Richard Schiffmann @ Truthout:

On September 21, in what is being advance-billed as the largest climate march in history, thousands of protesters will converge on New York City to focus public attention on the slow-motion train wreck of global warming. But while Americans are becoming increasingly aware that our industrial civilization is destabilizing the earth’s climate, fewer know about another environmental disaster-in-the-making: the crisis of the global oceans.

Experts warn that we are currently facing an extinction event in the oceans which may rival the “Great Death” of the Permian age 250 million years ago, when 95 percent of marine species died out due to a combination of warming, acidification, loss of oxygen and habitat – all conditions that are rife today.

Within the past half century the oceans have been transformed from the planet’s most productive bioregion into arguably its most abused and critically endangered. That is the conclusion of a report issued earlier this summer by the Global Ocean Commission, a private think tank consisting of marine scientists, diplomats and business people, which makes policy recommendations to governments.

The report catalogues a grim laundry list of environmental ills. Commercial fish stocks worldwide are being overexploited and are close to collapse; coral reefs are dying due to ocean acidification – and may be gone by midcentury; vast dead zones are proliferating in the Baltic and the Gulf of Mexico caused by an influx of nitrogen and phosphorous from petroleum-based fertilizers; non-biodegradable plastic trash – everything from tiny micro-plastic beads to plastic bags and discarded fishing gear – is choking many coastal nurseries where fish spawn; and increased oil and gas drilling in deep waters is spewing pollution and posing the risk of catastrophic spills like the Deepwater Horizon disaster which dumped an estimated 4.2 million barrels of petroleum into the Gulf of Mexico during a five-month period in 2010.

Yet these worrying trends have failed to spark public indignation. It may be a matter of “out of sight, out of mind.”

“If fish were trees, and we saw them being clear-cut, we would be upset,” renowned oceanographer Carl Safina observed in an interview with Truthout. “But the ocean is invisible to most people, an alien world.” It is hard for those of us who only see ocean life when it ends up on our dinner plates to get worked up about its destruction, Safina said.

Nevertheless, this world under the waves is vital to our survival, according to Sylvia Earle, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) chief scientist. “The ocean is alive; it is a living minestrone soup with an even greater diversity of life than on the land,” Earle told Truthout. “It is where most of our oxygen is created and carbon is taken out of the atmosphere. With every breath you take, you need to thank the ocean.”

Trillions of microscopic ocean plants called phytoplankton contribute seasonally between 50 to 85 percent of the oxygen in earth’s atmosphere, far more than all of the world’s forests combined. Nobody knows for certain how plankton will adapt to warming seas. But one study published in the United Kingdom last year suggested, worryingly, that changes in the temperature and chemical composition of the oceans would make these critical organisms less productive. Planktonremoves carbon from the atmosphere during the process of photosynthesis. Fewer plankton will mean less oxygen and more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which will further intensify “a vicious cycle of climate change,” according to the study’s authors.

Equally scary is the prospect that, as some researchers speculate, changes in ocean temperature may melt a frozen form of methane called “clathrates,” which is ubiquitous under the planet’s continental shelves. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times as potent in the short term as carbon dioxide. If these vast reserves bubble up into the atmosphere, it will truly be “game over” for the climate as we know it.

“The ocean drives climate and weather,” Earle said. “It is a planetary life-support system that we have taken for granted . . . We simply must protect the machinery, the natural systems upon which our life depends.”

But up to now, there has been little political will to tackle the tough issues that are leading to a death by a thousand cuts for the seas around us. The Global Ocean Commission reports that the toothless international treaties that purport to regulate human use of the oceans have failed utterly to protect them.

In an email to Truthout, former UK Foreign Minister David Miliband, a co-chair of the commission, wrote bluntly that the high seas are “a failed state . . . beyond the jurisdiction of any government, where governance and policing are effectively non-existent and anarchy rules the waves.” Miliband insists that the open ocean beyond national boundaries needs to be brought under the rule of international law. At present, global treaties make nonbinding recommendations, which are routinely violated by nations and commercial enterprises.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it is the wealthy countries that are disproportionally to blame for the ocean’s woes. According to the commission, the freedom of the seas is being “exploited by those with the money and ability to do so, with little sense of responsibility or social justice.”

One way this is happening is the chronic over-harvesting of the high seas by massive, technologically advanced ships largely from countries like France, Spain, Denmark, Japan and South Korea (the United States is actually a relatively minor player with a lower yearly catch than many far smaller countries). These floating factories frequently employ highly destructive methods like bottom trawling,the practice of dragging a heavy net on the bottom of the ocean, a process which can destroy ancient deep sea coral colonies and other fragile ecosystems.

Other questionable practices include fishing out of season and the use of cyanide and underwater explosives that stun or kill all marine life over vast swaths of the sea. Indiscriminate trawl nets and long-line fishing take untold thousands of sea birds, turtles, marine mammals and non-target fish species (called bycatch) daily, according to Earle. “It is like using a bulldozer to catch songbirds. You simply throw away the trees and all the rest.”

The results have been catastrophic. In 1950, less than 1 percent of fish species were overexploited or close to collapse. Today, that number has swollen to 87 percent, according to the Global Ocean Commission report. Not only are there “too many boats trying to catch too few fish,” but this overfishing is being abetted in many cases by government fossil fuel subsidies, which have driven an otherwise flagging industry into dangerous overdrive.

The irony is that, while the productivity of commercial fishing has never been lower, and boats need to go ever farther to catch fewer fish, the number of vessels exploiting the ocean has never been higher. While affluent countries spend tens of millions of their tax dollars to prop up their national fishing industries, coastal fisheries in the global south are being depleted and some fisher folk are barely able to survive on their diminished catches, as I discovered during a recent reporting trip to Barbados. They simply can’t compete with the big commercial fleets that are operating with impunity just beyond their territorial boundaries.

This problem is exacerbated in Barbados and elsewhere in the Caribbean by the rapid coral die-off. Instead of the thriving reefs that one would have seen only a few years back, there are now ghost forests of bleached white skeletons covered in slime. As the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide increasingly gets absorbed by the ocean’s surface waters, it creates carbonic acid, which changes the pH of the sea, making it more difficult for coral polyps and other shell-forming organisms to produce their rigid homes.

When corals die (Earle said fully half of the world’s reefs are already gone, or in steep decline) the fish and other organisms that breed among them die off as well. Equally important, reefs are an invaluable line of defense against storm surges and destructive waves. Without these natural seawalls, beach erosion and damage to low-lying coastal areas during hurricanes can spiral out of control.

Human-made physical changes to the world’s coastlines pose another threat. Productive natural hatcheries like mangrove swamps, mudflats and salt marshes are being cleared in many areas to make way for coastal development, barrier islands are dredged to build ship channels, and freshwater streams, which fish use to spawn, are blocked by dams.

In his eloquent book Running Silver, marine biologist John Waldman writes that in East Coast streams, where our forebears could “walk dry-shod on the backs” of schools of striped bass, shad, sturgeon and other fish during their spring migrations, today’s runs are as low as 2 percent of what they once were. In some cases, they’ve disappeared entirely. Cold-loving fish like salmon and cod are leaving their traditional ranges and heading toward the poles in search of cooler waters.

Amid this rising tide of bad news, however, there are some glimmers of hope. Carl Safina told Truthout that the US coastal fish populations were in free fall “until about 1998 when the Sustainable Fisheries Act went into effect [which sets strict fishing quotas]. We saw a recovery of inshore species which are wholly managed by US law and policy, at the same time as there was a continuing decline of the big offshore species like shark, tuna and many billfish in international waters.”

The challenge, as Safina sees it, is to bring the rule of law that has worked for some US fisheries to the high seas, which he calls “the Wild West in the space age.” We need something like a UN peacekeeper force for the open oceans, he said, to enforce treaties, clamp down on illegal fishing and draft strict environmental regulations.As a model for what he has in mind, Safina points to regional multination fishery boards (like those which already manage and set quotas for fisheries shared by the United States and Canada.) As this kind of international cooperation spreads, we’ll have a fighting chance to save imperiled species that are currently being fished to exhaustion. Safina alsosaid we need to stop fishing some critical areas to give them an opportunity to recover.

President Obama was clearly thinking along these lines when he announced in June the creation of the largest marine sanctuary on earth, a no-fishing and drilling zone comprising 782,000 square miles of open ocean surrounding small, unpopulated US territories in the South Pacific. Pacific island nations like the Cook and Kiribati quickly followed suit, banning fishing in their own territorial waters.

Sylvia Earle told Truthout that these are big steps in the right direction: “Here’s the good news: places where fish are protected, where we stop the killing, if enough resilience is there, these systems can be returned to abundance. It’s happened in the Florida Keys; it’s happened in protected areas off the coast of Chile, in Mexico, where grouper, snapper and sharks are making a reappearance.”

Still, until we address climate change and pollution, and find a way to establish justice and accountability on the high seas, the prospects for the world’s largest ecosystem remain grim.

 

 

 

 

via The Oldspeak Journal http://ift.tt/1t9Lykx

The Oldspeak Journal PricewaterhouseCoopers Report: We’re 20 Years Away From Catastrophe

Oldspeak: “According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, “the gap between what we are doing and what we need to do has again grown, for the sixth year running.” The report adds that at current rates, we’re headed towards 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit of warming by the end of the century—twice the agreed upon rate….The report also found that the world is going to blow a hole in its carbon budget—the amount we can burn to keep the world from overheating beyond 3.6 degrees… Overall, PricewaterhouseCoopers paints a bleak picture of a world that’s rapidly running out of time; the required effort to curb global emissions will continue to grow each year. “The timeline is also unforgiving…This means that emissions from the developed economies need to be consistently falling, and emissions from major developing countries will also have to start declining from 2020 onwards.” G20 nations, for example, will need to cut their annual energy-related emissions by one-third by 2030, and by just over half by 2050.” -James West

“Hmmm… When even establishment corporations that profit from business as usual are seeing the writing on the wall of climate change, that’s not good. We’re running out of time. All the Hopium, marches, pledges, intergovernmental panels, and feckless wars in the world can’t obscure this reality anymore. It’s a safe bet, we conservatively have about 20 years left before the ecology collapses. Probably less. Multiple major emitters (including the U.S.) are emitting more than ever, and are showing no signs of slowing down. Can we really expect emissions to start consistently falling by 2020? Not bloody likely. Add to human emissions the ever accelerating naturally released greenhouse gas emissions as the planet warms, and it should be fairly obvious that there is no exit strategy for this. Enjoy the time remaining as fully and presently as you can. ” -OSJ

By James West @ Mother Jones:

With every year that passes, we’re getting further away from averting a human-caused climate disaster. That’s the key message in this year’s “Low Carbon Economy Index,” a report released by the accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The report highlights an “unmistakable trend”: The world’s major economies are increasingly failing to do what’s needed to to limit global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels. That was the target agreed to by countries attending the United Nations’ 2009 climate summit; it represents an effort to avoid some of the most disastrous consequences of runaway warming, including food security threats, coastal inundation, extreme weather events, ecosystem shifts, and widespread species extinction.

To curtail climate change, individual countries have made a variety of pledges to reduce their share of emissions, but taken together, those promises simply aren’t enough. According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers report, “the gap between what we are doing and what we need to do has again grown, for the sixth year running.” The report adds that at current rates, we’re headed towards 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit of warming by the end of the century—twice the agreed upon rate. Here’s a breakdown of the paper’s major findings.

The chart above compares our current efforts to cut “carbon intensity”—measured by calculating the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per million dollars of economic activity—with what’s actually needed to rein in climate change. According to the report, the global economy needs to “decarbonize” by 6.2 percent every year until the end of the century to limit warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. But carbon intensity fell by only 1.2 percent in 2013.

The report also found that the world is going to blow a hole in its carbon budget—the amount we can burn to keep the world from overheating beyond 3.6 degrees:

The report singles out countries that have done better than others when it comes to cutting carbon intensity. Australia, for example, tops the list of countries that have reduced the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of GDP, mainly due to lower energy demands in a growing economy. But huge countries like the United States, Germany, and India are still adding carbon intensity, year-on-year:

Overall, PricewaterhouseCoopers paints a bleak picture of a world that’s rapidly running out of time; the required effort to curb global emissions will continue to grow each year. “The timeline is also unforgiving. The [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and others have estimated that global emissions will need to peak around 2020 to meet a 2°C [3.6 degrees F] budget,” the report says. “This means that emissions from the developed economies need to be consistently falling, and emissions from major developing countries will also have to start declining from 2020 onwards.” G20 nations, for example, will need to cut their annual energy-related emissions by one-third by 2030, and by just over half by 2050. The pressure will be on the world’s governments to come up with a solution to this enormous challenge at the much-anticipated climate talks in Paris next year.

 

 

via The Oldspeak Journal http://ift.tt/1vmic74