Food prices driven up by global warming, study shows

From The Guardian UK:

Scientists warn that farming practices must be adapted to a warmer world and rises in global population

Damian Carrington, Thursday 5 May 2011

Global warming has already harmed the world’s food production and has driven up food prices by as much as 20% over recent decades, new research has revealed.

The drop in the productivity of crop plants around the world was not caused by changes in rainfall but was because higher temperatures can cause dehydration, prevent pollination and lead to slowed photosynthesis.

Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, Washington DC, said the findings indicate a turning point: “Agriculture as it exists today evolved over 11,000 years of reasonably stable climate, but that climate system is no more.” Adaptation is difficult because our knowledge of the future is not strong enough to drive new investments, he said, “so we just keep going, hoping for the best.”

The scientists say their work shows how crucial it is to find ways to adapt farming to a warmer world, to ensure that rises in global population are matched by rising food production. “It is vital,” said Wolfram Schlenker, at Columbia University in New York and one of the research team. “If we continue to have the same seed varieties and temperatures continue to rise, then food prices will rise further. [Addressing] that is the big question.”

The new research joins a small number of studies in which the fingerprint of climate change has been separated from natural variations in weather and other factors, demonstrating that the effects of warming have already been felt in the world. Scientists have shown that the chance of the severe heatwave that killed thousands in Europe in 2003 was made twice as likely by global warming, while other work showed that the floods that caused £3.5bn of damage in England in 2000 were made two to three times more likely.

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Music Break

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GOP Plans to Demand Mandatory Cuts in Social Security, Medicare as Price for Debt Ceiling

From The Huffington Post:

By Robert Creamer Political organizer, strategist and author
May 4, 2011

It is increasingly clear that the Republicans will demand mandatory cuts in Social Security and Medicare as a price for increasing the debt ceiling later this spring.

Of course they won’t say they are demanding mandatory cuts in Social Security and Medicare.

Over the Easter recess they’ve had a taste of just how strongly people feel about Medicare. Before they left the Capitol last month House Republicans voted — almost unanimously — for the Republican budget that ends Medicare and replaces it with a privatized system of partial support for private insurance premiums. They ran into a town hall buzz-saw of opposition in every corner of the country.

The House Republican budget plan authored by Congressman Paul Ryan isn’t going anywhere in the Senate.

If the “gang of six” Senators come up with a deficit reduction plan that is acceptable to its three Democrats and three Republicans, that may attract brief interest among the elite media. But such a budget deal would have to involve substantial increases in revenue — presumably from raising taxes on the wealthy — and that has exactly zero chance of being approved by the Republican House.

But the Republicans won’t let the 70-plus percent opposition to cuts in Medicare and Social Security dissuade them. They’ve come up with a new plan that sugarcoats their attempts to eviscerate Social Security and Medicare. It’s called a “mandatory global spending cap” and it’s nothing more than the House Republican budget in disguise.

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Who has abortions?

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Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Make it in America Agenda

Press Release:

May 04, 2011

We commend Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer for refocusing attention on job creation by once again introducing the bipartisan “Make it in America” agenda. It’s time for Congress to focus on what Americans want and need most—jobs. We need to create them, retain them and make sure that they are safe and family-supporting jobs.

Rebuilding America’s manufacturing base is central to rebuilding our nation’s economy. The Make it in America agenda would finally create a national manufacturing strategy our country desperately needs. The National Manufacturing Strategy Act passed by the House last year provides a good starting point. The United States has seen far too many good jobs go overseas. And it’s not just the front line manufacturing jobs that have vanished – it’s design, R&D and engineering jobs as well.

The loss of our innovative, technical and industrial capacity not only undermines opportunities in America, it also threatens our national security. Other nations are taking over production of our national defense technology while countries like China have access to and have made moves to limit the United States’ access to the raw materials needed to guide a missile, drive an Abrams tank or build a hybrid or electric car.

This agenda would also address the long-term issue of the Chinese government’s currency manipulation. The manipulation has had a devastating impact on our economy—but the onus is on us to fix it. Last year, the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act. Now is the time to finish the job. And as the Make it in America agenda unfolds, it must include strong Buy America provisions.

This nation can no longer live on legacy. We need to invest trillions in the coming decades to build a 21st century infrastructure and we must ensure that we actually make the technology and materials for the things we are building and installing. The Make it in America agenda is a big step in the right direction to resolve our manufacturing crisis. We stand ready to work with Congress to invest in our future, to create good jobs and to make it in America.

Contact: Amaya Tune (202) 637-5018

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Democratic lawmaker introduces LGBT-inclusive immigration reform bill

From Raw Story:

By David Edwards
Thursday, May 5th, 2011

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) wants to do something about the nearly 6 million people that have been separated from their spouses, minor children, sisters or brothers for years because of an immigration backlog.

The congressman announced Thursday that he was introducing the Reuniting Families Act (H.R. 2709) to reform the family-based immigration system that has not been updated in 20 years.

The legislation aims to fix the broken family immigration system by reducing the wait times for legal immigrants and eliminating discrimination against same sex, permanent partners.

“Many family members who apply for visas are not granted admission for decades, undermining their economic contributions to our country and encouraging some frustrated relatives to resort to illegal migration,” Honda said Thursday.

“This bill would take important steps to towards fixing our broken family immigration system by reducing the waiting times for legal immigrants through recapturing family work visas that have gone unused. RFA would reclassify spouses and children of legal permanent residents as immediate relatives,” he explained.

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Deep Green Resistance: Strategy to Save the Planet

From Common Dreams:

by Derrick Jensen, Lierre Keith and Aric McBay
Published on Thursday, May 5, 2011 by

A black tern weighs barely two ounces. On bodily reserves less than a bag of M&Ms and wings that stretch to cover twelve inches, she’ll fly thousands of miles, searching for the wetlands that will harbor her young. And every year the journey gets longer as the wetlands are desiccated for human demands. Every year the tern, desperate and hungry, loses, while civilization, endless and sanguineous, wins.

A polar bear should weigh 650 pounds. Her biological reserves may have to see her through nine long months of dark, denned gestation, and then lactation, giving up her dwindling stores to the needy mouths of her species’ future. In some areas, the female’s weight has dropped from 650 to 507 pounds.1 Meanwhile, the ice has evaporated like the wetlands. When she wakes, the waters will stretch impassably opened, and there is no Abrahamic god of bears to part them for her.

The Aldabra snail should weigh something, but all that’s left to weigh are their skeletons, bits of orange and indigo shells. The snail has been declared not just extinct, but the first casualty of global warming. In dry periods, the snail hibernated. The young of any species are always more vulnerable. In this case, the adults’ “reproductive success” was a “complete failure.”2 In plain terms, the babies died and kept dying, and a species millions of years old is now a pile of shell fragments.

We are living in a period of mass extinction. What is your personal carrying capacity for grief, rage, despair? The numbers stand at 120 species a day.3 That’s 50,000 a year. This culture is oblivious to their passing, entitled to their every last niche, and there is no roll call on the nightly news.

We already have a name for the tsunami wave of extermination: the Holocene extinction event. There’s no asteroid this time, only human behavior, behavior that we could choose to stop. Adolph Eichman’s excuse was that no one told him that the concentration camps were wrong. We’ve all seen the pictures of the drowning polar bears. Are we so ethically numb that we need to be told this is wrong?

There are voices raised in concern, even anguish, at the plight of the earth, the rending of its species. “Only zero emissions can prevent a warmer planet,” one pair of climatologists declared.4 Or James Lovelock, originator of the Gaia hypothesis, who states bluntly that global warming has passed the tipping point, carbon offsetting is a joke, and that “individual lifestyle adjustments” are “a deluded fantasy.”5 It’s all true. And self–evident. “Simple living” should start with simple observation: if burning fossil fuels will kill the planet, then stop burning them.

But that conclusion, in all its stark clarity, is not the one anyone’s drawing, from the policy makers to the environmental groups. When they start offering solutions is the exact moment when they stop telling the truth, inconvenient or otherwise. Google “global warming solutions.” The first paid sponsor,, urges “No doom and gloom!! When was the last time depression got you really motivated? We’re here to inspire realistic action steps and stories of success.” By “realistic” they don’t mean solutions that actually match the scale of the problem. They mean the usual consumer choices—cloth shopping bags, travel mugs, and misguided dietary advice—which will do exactly nothing to disrupt the troika of industrialization, capitalism, and patriarchy that is skinning the planet alive. But since these actions also won’t disrupt anyone’s life, they’re declared both realistic and a success.

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