Sex Reassignment Surgery Does Make a Difference, Just Not the Ones the HBS Folks Claim

I’ve been told I’m I’m wrong to say this, that I am creating hierarchies and extolling separatism when I say things are different after SRS.

This is because a few assholes have made SRS into this thing that is almost like a trophy they can wave in the faces of those who can’t afford surgery, or don’t have the same level of discomfort within their own skins as to require SRS.

SRS is a surgical procedure, not a badge of distinction.  After getting it you don’t suddenly become an all capital letters REAL WOMAN, because surgery doesn’t erase having been born trans.

I’ve been watching a sweet honest kid named Drew Cordes, who posts over on Bilerico go through post-op consciousness changes in public view.  I should have kept track of more of her posts, instead I’ve had this one sitting in my tray for weeks while I dealt with the elections and holidays A Genderless Society Is Not the Answer.  It’s a good post and shows how thinking adjusts after SRS.

If I had a hundred dollars for every time I’ve had  a pre-op or non-op transgender sister tell me that SRS doesn’t really change anything, I would be able to retire in relative comfort.

But SRS does change life for people, hell even getting accepted to a program changed peoples way of viewing things back when I was going through the process.  (I won’t bring up the pre-historic era when discovering there were doctors who would prescribe hormones changed how many people viewed themselves.)

Natalie Reed, who contributed some valuable insights into the “cotton ceiling” has a piece on her blog that deserves mention. (Sorry I didn’t get around to mentioning this one earlier but again there have been so many other issues.) Natalie’s piece is:  The Personal Politics of SRS.

Being accepted in to a surgery track program causes people to reevaluate positions they have taken.

Honesty compels: SRS changes people physically…

It changes how we relate to ourselves and it changes how others relate to us even within the trans-communities.

The changes in how people relate to their bodies after surgery aren’t the exclusive property of the HBS assholes but are a common shared experience that people should be able to talk about without being afraid of being labeled as elitist.

Part of it may be hormonal since SRS usually includes removal of the gonads that produce hormones.

But a lot of the feeling is elation at having achieved a goal that we work a long time to obtain and often make great sacrifices to obtain.

It feels like the end of one chapter or sections of chapters in our life histories and the start of a new chapter and section.

Some people turn into assholes and think SRS makes them really special.  That was sort of the case 50 years ago but now there are so many post-ops it is hard to go to a super market in some places without running into a sister or brother.  I’m not talking LGBT ghetto, in suburbia too, even here in Dallas/Fort Worth.

We, transsexual and transgender people are all over the place.

Since others have had the same operation as those who think it makes them special it isn’t enough to have SRS, you have to abuse other people who had the same operation you did if they don’t think exactly the same way you do.

This is bullshit and the HBS assholes deserve to be called out on it.

Which brings us to the label I use transsexual or post-transsexual.  WBT meant just exactly that, I see myself as a woman who was BORN transsexual and had to deal with that. It doesn’t make me any better than sisters who came out since the 1990s and the popularization of the term “transgender”, it is more indicative of when I came out and how I viewed what I did than some sort of quest for status.  I look at what I have dealt with and the label I came out to in 1962 still feels like the right word to describe my life.

Your mileage may vary and if you have had SRS, or any of the other labels out there to describe “the operation”, it isn’t harming me if you describe your experiences differently as long as you don’t try to tell me I am describing my experiences improperly because I use different words.

In the immortal words of the Jefferson Airplane, “It doesn’t mean shit to a tree.”

On the other hand, we do people who are going through surgery a disservice if we pretend these feeling that exist for many people, if not all people who are going through the process aren’t real feelings.

When I first read Riki Wilchins book some 15 or so years ago I went, “Fuck Yeah!”   Now I’m less enthusiastic about a lot of what she said.

She down played the physical pain and the pain of emotional loss too much.  Her way of looking at her body after SRS seems weird to me.  Too much Judy Butler and not enough from other sisters.

Now that the wars have died down we need to listen to each other, not slogans thrown back and forth but to what others are going through.  One size doesn’t fit everyone.

It is okay to be excited about getting a surgery date, it is normal to have doubts and fears.  If you have a lot of pain or complications from SRS it is normal to have a lot of anger and  even question whether or not getting SRS was the right thing.  This doesn’t mean you are less transsexual or less real than an HBS asshole who breezed through SRS.  It means you have complications and a lot of pain.

It will pass.

I think people would be better prepared if we were able to discuss all these things without feeling hostility or jealousy.

It would be a good thing if both post-op and pre/non-op folks were to acknowledge how physical changes of this sort produce profound feelings in people and that there is no standard model for behavior or expectations.

Given some of the hostility that goes on and gets directed towards people who speak up about what they are experience emotionally while going through SRS I’m almost surprised by the number of sisters who stick around.

It speaks highly of commitment to the cause.

Listening to people going through SRS and not attacking those who express feelings outside the proper ideological framework would go even further.

Strength comes from sharing joy as much as it comes from sharing pain. Sharing people’s joy and congratulating them makes for stronger bonds than jealously sniping at them and putting them down or  invalidating the experience they just shared with you.

Dawn of a New Day for Marriage Equality

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What If Religious Fanaticism Killed Someone You Love?

From Alternet:

The family of a woman who died after being denied an abortion are fighting so others don’t suffer the same loss.

By Valerie Tarico
November 21, 2012

Last week, a young Indian man in Ireland went public about the death of his wife, Savita Halappanavar. A week later, her name, picture, and  tragic story  are known by millions. Now the husband, Praveen, has launched  a fight  to ensure that no woman ever again is refused a lifesaving abortion. Her parents  have requested  that the Indian government bring diplomatic pressure to bear. Their goal is to clarify and, if need be, to amend Irish abortion law: “We lost our only daughter due to this illogical law…. If that law is changed, we will think that our daughter was sacrificed for a good cause.” “Maybe Savita was born to change the laws here,” says Praveen. It is, perhaps, the only possible sense in her otherwise senseless death.

Savita was 31 when she died after being denied an abortion during a second trimester miscarriage. As a dentist, she not only felt the infection in her body, she understood it. According to her husband she asked repeatedly for the medical staff at her Irish hospital to end the failed pregnancy that was poisoning her blood and would ultimately cause her organs to fail. She was told, “This is a Catholic country.” She had wanted a baby. Then she merely wanted to have less pain and to live. Instead, thanks to what Catholic ethicists call their “ culture of life ” she is dead.

Praveen carried Savita’s body home to India then returned to Ireland where he works as an engineer for Boston Scientific, a manufacturer of medical devices. Is he haunted, I wonder, by the irony as well as the loss? An engineer is devoted rigorously to evidence, to questions of what works and what doesn’t, to understanding the real world effects of decisions. His ability to apply the scientific method carried him and Savita out of India to a place where ideology rather than science ultimately dictated medical practice. Had they been in Mumbai or Delhi or Bangalore when her fetus started dying, she probably would have lived. Instead, Indians woke up to headlines proclaiming, “ Ireland Murders Pregnant Indian Dentist ,” and the evening news in their home state of Karnataka ran a banner that said, “Faith over Life.”

For years now, the Catholic Bishops have been trying to draw a moral equivalence between embryos and persons, as if self-replicating human DNA were what made us precious. If ever there was a story that exposes the vast chasm of difference between a fetus and a person, it is this one. Savita and her fetus lay in the same hospital dying. The fetus simply slipped out of existence, as embryonic humans do; in fact,  as most embryonic humans do . Savita died like a woman dies. She felt pain, and pleaded for it to be relieved. She knew she existed, was afraid, and expressed her fear. She argued against the authorities who refused to terminate her failing pregnancy: “I am neither Irish nor Catholic.” And when she died, she tore asunder a whole community of people into whose lives she had woven the fabric of her own. Her mother  struggled to comprehend: “In an attempt to save a 4-month-old fetus they killed my 30-year-old daughter.” The Hindu community in Galway cancelled the  Diwali festival  she had been helping to organize, and where she had  performed classical dance with Praveen in past years. And when Praveen when public with their story,  thousands  of people  took to the streets  in a cry of anguish that rang across Ireland and  India.

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The People Bail Out the People

From Truth Out:

By John Light
Sunday, 25 November 2012

Last week, the members of Strike Debt, a group of Occupy activists working to help Americans dealing with debt, launched a new campaign called The Rolling Jubilee. The initiative — a clever plan to collect money, buy up other people’s debt and forgive it — kicked off on Thursday with a variety show in New York dubbed “The People’s Bailout.” The show, live-streamed over the Internet as a telethon, raised enough money to cancel over five million dollars of debt.

In canceling the debt, the Strike Debt team is taking advantage of a fairly common banking practice. When debt is severely distressed — that is, when debtors aren’t paying up – banks write the loans off their books. But they often sell the debt for less than the loan was worth to recoup some of their losses.

Strike Debt is working with a debt purchaser to buy distressed medical debt for about five cents on the dollar. Then Strike Debt cancels it, freeing debtors who were unable to pay their medical bills.

Americans owe over $11 trillion in debt. Over $1 trillion of that is student debt. Sixty-two percent of bankruptcies are caused by medical bills, and that figure rose by 50 percent between 2001 and 2007.

The People’s Bailout featured over a dozen performers and speakers — folk singers, rappers, magicians, comedians, Catholic nuns, a professor, a journalist — all of whom appeared for free to help Strike Debt raise money and share the message that debtors are not alone. “Debt is a tie that binds the 99%,” was one frequently-repeated phrase. A large sign on the wall read “you are not a loan.”

The show closed with three songs performed by an unlikely pair: Guy Picciotto of Fugazi and Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel. Mangum has only started performing again recently after a decade of reclusion.

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Inequality and Budget Deficits: Why is Only the Latter an Emergency?

From Huffington Post:


I just read two sweeping reports on the state of income inequality in the U.S. (the second link focuses on state-level inequality) and other advanced economies. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been so ensconced in fiscal cliff discussions, but I was struck by how much more alarmed policy makers are by the budget deficit than by the inequality situation. There are reasons for that tilt — some good, some bad — but based on magnitudes of the problem, it’s far from clear that our current sole policy focus is warranted.


The first link above finds the indispensable inequality researchers Piketty and Saez reflecting on the long income inequality time series data they and others have developed for the advanced economies. Their key findings are:

– The decline in income concentration in the U.S. over the great recession was due to cyclical capital losses, not a structural change in the underlying factors driving the trend. This can be seen quite clearly by a) taking capital gains out of the income data, revealing a steady upward trend, or b) by noting the increase in inequality (share of income going to the top 10% of households) in 2010, a return to trend.

– The fact that different countries hit by the same globalization and technology advances show different inequality trends suggests an important role for political economy — policies that affect the distribution of market incomes — in these outcomes. In France and Germany, for example, the top 10% holds about 35% of national income; in the US, it’s about 50% (see figure below). “Pure technology stories based solely upon supply and demand of skills can hardly explain such diverging patterns,” write the authors, who argue that tax policies are a “promising candidate.”

– As I’ve suggested in various posts, the authors agree that higher inequality may be associated with the debt bubble and bust from which we’re still recovering, though they’re not sure as to what’s causation and what’s correlation (they take solace in the Minsky-esque conclusion that “modern financial are very fragile and can probably crash by themselves — even without rising inequality”). Me, I think in an economy where a) inequality steers growth away from the broad middle, b) credit is cheap, under-regulated, and securitized such that there’s distance between originator and final borrower, and c) as the boom progresses, risk become underpriced — well, that’s a recipe for the shampoo cycle (bubble, bust, repeat) with inequality at the core of the model.

The second paper — from researchers at EPI and CBPP — is also part of a valuable series (“Pulling Apart,” or PA) that tracks income inequality by states over time. Some findings that caught my eye:

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Global economic woes prompt soul-searching on capitalism

From The Guardian UK:

While policymakers insist vigorous recovery will arrive, there is concern that deep structural problems are stalling a revival

Posted by , economics editor
Sunday 25 November 2012

Hope springs eternal: China’s manufacturing sector has perked up a bit; there are encouraging noises coming out of Washington about avoiding the fiscal cliff; the euro is still in one piece – could it be that recovery is coming at last?

After all the false dawns, this could be the point at which capitalism shows its resilience and regenerative powers. Since the birth of the modern industrial age more than 250 years ago, there have been only brief deviations in the upward trend of production. The Great Depression looks like a mere blip on the upward sloping graph of UK or US GDP.

Even so, the depth and length of the crisis has led to a degree of soul searching. While policymakers insist publicly that vigorous recovery will eventually arrive, there is private concern that deep structural problems are blunting the effectiveness of a stimulus unprecedented in its scale, scope and duration. These concerns are well founded.

To understand why, it is necessary to look at the basic ingredients that historically have made capitalism tick in all its many guises, be it America’s free-market approach, Sweden’s welfarist model, or China’s state-run variant.

The first requirement is stability, without which entrepreneurs will not take risks. In the early stages of development, this means adherence to the rule of law and a system of property rights that guard against expropriation. As economies grow more sophisticated, it comes to mean additionally a degree of economic and financial stability. Those taking long-term investment decisions need to feel confident that there will be a steady stream of returns and that the banking system is robust and well-managed.

The second prerequisite is legitimacy, which is not the same as fairness or equality. Capitalism is neither fair nor equal, and never will be, but large quantities of fairness have been injected to ensure it has retained political legitimacy.

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The Fight for Corn

From Truth Out:

By Alfredo Acedo
Saturday, 24 November 2012

In an era of food crisis, the fight for corn has intensified, and the importance of this grain – a staple of the diet of Mexico and a large part of the world – has been revealed to the fullest extent. The scenario we are faced with is a battle between a culture that revolves around the material and symbolic production of corn, as well as the cultural, social, and historical value placed upon this crop by humankind, and the network of commercial and political interests that sees this prodigious crop simply as another way to increase power and profit by means of plundering its native lands.

Corn is under imperialistic attack in its place of origin, primarily at the hands of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has increased Mexico’s food dependency. A popular resistance stands in opposition to this assault, playing its role in a geostrategic struggle exacerbated by climatic imbalances caused by global warming, as well as the corruption of the agroindustrial production model.

Why does corn attract transnational companies? Because it is the most efficient producer of biomass of any grain. One can get an idea of its efficiency of the corn plant is compared with that of wheat. One grain of wheat will produce one slender spike while one grain of corn will produce two robust ears. The yield per hectare of corn can be double that of wheat. Annual corn production worldwide is more than 850 million tons.

In contrast to the other cereals, there are different varieties of corn for almost any climate, from valleys to mountains, and for almost any type of soil. Its cycle is short, and rural families have created simple methods for storing it, preserving it, and preparing it.

Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz acutely observed that the invention of corn by the Mexicans is only comparable to the invention of fire by the early humans. From the inedible grass of the teocintle or teosinte, ancient Mexicans created modern corn, which was spread across Mesoamerica and eventually around the world. The 60 or so breeds and the thousands of different varieties native to Mexico act as a genetic reservoir and a crucially important strategic good in terms of the global food supply and economy, the worth of which can be expressed on a scale of billions of dollars each year. Corn has become the livelihood of families in rural communities as well as an accessible food source for poor urban families (corn makes up 60 percent of Mexicans’ caloric intake). It is also a fundamental raw material for livestock and the global food industry due to its versatility and large number of by-products and applications.

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Big Sugar’s Sweet Little Lies

From Mother Jones:

How the industry kept scientists from asking: Does sugar kill?

By and
November/December 2012

On a brisk spring Tuesday in 1976, a pair of executives from the Sugar Association stepped up to the podium of a Chicago ballroom to accept the Oscar of the public relations world, the Silver Anvil award for excellence in “the forging of public opinion.” The trade group had recently pulled off one of the greatest turnarounds in PR history. For nearly a decade, the sugar industry had been buffeted by crisis after crisis as the media and the public soured on sugar and scientists began to view it as a likely cause of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Industry ads claiming that eating sugar helped you lose weight had been called out by the Federal Trade Commission, and the Food and Drug Administration had launched a reviewof whether sugar was even safe to eat. Consumption had declined 12 percent in just two years, and producers could see where that trend might lead. As John “JW” Tatem Jr. and Jack O’Connell Jr., the Sugar Association’s president and director of public relations, posed that day with their trophies, their smiles only hinted at the coup they’d just pulled off.

Their winning campaign, crafted with the help of the prestigious public relations firm Carl Byoir & Associates, had been prompted by a poll showing that consumers had come to see sugar as fattening, and that most doctors suspected it might exacerbate, if not cause, heart disease and diabetes. With an initial annual budget of nearly $800,000 ($3.4 million today) collected from the makers of Dixie Crystals, Domino, C&H, Great Western, and other sugar brands, the association recruited a stable of medical and nutritional professionals to allay the public’s fears, brought snack and beverage companies into the fold, and bankrolled scientific papers that contributed to a “highly supportive” FDA ruling, which, the Silver Anvil application boasted, made it “unlikely that sugar will be subject to legislative restriction in coming years.”

The story of sugar, as Tatem told it, was one of a harmless product under attack by “opportunists dedicated to exploiting the consuming public.” Over the subsequent decades, it would be transformed from what the New York Times in 1977 had deemed “a villain in disguise” into a nutrient so seemingly innocuous that even the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association approved it as part of a healthy diet. Research on the suspected links between sugar and chronic disease largely ground to a halt by the late 1980s, and scientists came to view such pursuits as a career dead end. So effective were the Sugar Association’s efforts that, to this day, no consensus exists about sugar’s potential dangers. The industry’s PR campaign corresponded roughly with a significant rise in Americans’ consumption of “caloric sweeteners,” including table sugar (sucrose) and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This increase was accompanied, in turn, by a surge in the chronic diseases increasingly linked to sugar. Since 1970, obesity rates in the United States have more than doubled, while the incidence of diabetes has more than tripled. (The chart below uses sugar “availability” numbers rather than the USDA’s speculative new consumption figures.)

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Neil deGrasse Tyson – World to End In 2012…or Not

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Superstorm Sandy: How Soon We Forget

From Common Dreams:

With climate change, eventually more people will be living in blackout zones. How do we fix that when it’s disturbingly easy to forget all about them?

by Barbara Garson
Published on Sunday, November 25, 2012 by Common Dreams

Since Superstorm Sandy soaked the East Coast, there’s been a presidential election and a CIA sex scandal. So I can hardly blame you folks in California for forgetting that there are people like me who still have no heat or elevators in our buildings. I find it disturbingly easy to forget about such people myself as soon as I get a few blocks out of the blackout zone.

The former Sri Lankan ambassador to Cuba happened to be staying in our apartment when Sandy hit. My husband and I had arranged to stay uptown so that our old friend could enjoy a vacation in Lower Manhattan.

On the Monday Sandy was expected, Madame K — she’s got one of those five-syllable Sri Lankan names — phoned to say the computer was making a strange sound. Then pop. Neither phone, nor Skype, nor cell, nor email now connected us. So we drove down to rescue our guest, taking suitcases so we could also rescue the stuff in our freezer. When we opened our apartment door, we found the ambassador in bed: “I didn’t know where else to go once it got dark.”

K wondered why no one from the building had come around to check on her storm preparations and make sure that a visitor had up-to-date evacuation information, the way they would have in Cuba.

Over the years K and I have had our disagreements about Cuba. But at that point in Sandy, I’d have welcomed a Committee for the Defense of the Revolution to keep track of everyone.

The next day our building director held a tenants meeting. “This is the storm of the century,” he said, opening with the cliche of the century.

Even if Con Edison managed to get power into Lower Manhattan in four or five days, as estimated, he told us, the building wouldn’t dare turn on the electricity until the basement could be pumped completely dry and the salt wiped away. Multiple pumps were already working toward that end.

The water marks in the basement, he said, were over his head. Washing machines in the laundry room had floated up and now lay sprawled atop each other every which way. As far as heat, the boilers might not be salvageable and locating equipment vendors in a crisis would take time.

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Race, Class, and Climate Change in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

From EnviroBlog:

By Erika Duthely, EWG Stabile Law Fellow
November 21, 2012

Hurricane Sandy ravaged much of the eastern seaboard, leaving some dead, many without shelter, and all of us wondering how such an event could happen. What we realized, though, is that we can no longer ignore how climate change affects public health and the environment.

I grew up in the Borough of Queens, surrounded by most of my family and friends. Now I live in Washington, D.C., but I’ll always consider myself a New Yorker, maintaining close ties with home. So when I learned that forecasters expected Hurricane Sandy to sweep through Queens, I feared for my loved ones.

One of my favorite aunts lives in Far Rockaway,  a beachfront place with few exit routes and large numbers of low-income residents of color — a potential recipe for disaster, should a major storm make landfall.

Sure enough, Hurricane Sandy hit, and harder than most New York residents expected. My fears were realized. Far Rockaway was destroyed.

What has been most troubling about this episode is not the physical damage caused by the storm, but instead, the city’s response.  Residents of the various housing projects in the neighborhood went days without power. Many still don’t have it. Few have heat. Clean-up efforts remain practically non-existent.

In Sandy’s wake, Far Rockaway residents are faced with tough choices.  Most have limited incomes and cannot readily repair their homes. Many rely on public transportation and now have a difficult time getting to work. Many have stayed in their apartments, waiting for help to come, rather than risk their lives by navigating to the city’s overcrowded shelters.

Hurricane Sandy brought the issue of climate change back to the forefront of political discourse, something we cannot ignore any longer. However, when it comes to issues of climate change, we rarely hear about how the phenomenon affects low-income communities, which are disproportionately of color. When events like Hurricane Sandy occur, we focus on weather patterns and rising sea levels, but we ignore the direct impact on people’s everyday lives.

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Time is running out: the Doha climate talks must put an end to excuses

From The Guardian  UK

The evidence of climate change is clearer than ever. The poor countries have done everything asked of them. Now the rich nations must face their responsibilities

The Guardian, Sunday 25 November 2012

Last month was the 333rd consecutive month that global temperatures were above the 20th century average, and 2012 will almost certainly be the hottest ever recorded in the US. Hurricanes, heatwaves, wildfires and droughts blistered farmlands and ruined crops from Kansas to Assam, and Britain has had its wettest summer and driest spring to date. Nigeria, China and much of India and Australia have all had their worst floods in decades. In September the Arctic sea ice cover shrank 50% below the 1979-2000 average.

In a world where climate extremes come faster than ever, the World Bank has found common ground with Greenpeace. Last week, even as the World Meteorological Organisation reported that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere had reached a record 394ppm, the bank warned that the world is on course for a 4C temperature rise which will consign most people to a very different and much less liveable world, and which will inevitably wreck economies and hopes of development.

The UN, too, estimated greenhouse gas emissions to be 14% above where they need to be to hold temperatures to a manageable 2C rise. The biggest corporations, including oil companies like Shell, want governments to introduce a carbon price and to seriously address climate change. Even Saudi Arabia and the oil exporters of Opec are considering levying a carbon tax to give to the UN fund that helps poor countries adapt to climate change.

Evidence of global warming mounts both on the ground and in science, but in the bubble world of international climate diplomacy, little happens. Countries have become less and less able to collectively address the crisis unfolding around them. When UN talks fell apart in Copenhagen in 2009, world leaders claimed they could cobble together a new binding agreement to cut emissions within six months. That became a year, then two years, and now the rich countries tell a bemused public that it will be 2015 at the earliest before a final agreement will be reached. Trillions of dollars can be found to bail out banks in a few months, but the world’s most experienced negotiators cannot find a way to get Americans, the British or anyone to just turn down the air conditioning or lag their roofs to reduce the amount of energy they use.

So what is the point of the massive UN climate talks which start on Mondaytoday in Doha, one of the most energy-profligate cities on Earth? Negotiators from 194 countries are meeting in an atmosphere of mutual mistrust. They are divided and frustrated, and know their political masters mostly seek only painfully slow progress. We already know rich countries will refuse to commit to any further cuts in emissions or to provide more money, just as we know the poor will try to cling to the few global climate agreements reached between nations years ago. There will be fights, tantrums, and righteous anger from the non-government observers and world media.

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See also The New York Times:  Rising Seas, Vanishing Coastlines 

Make a point of checking out the media display that is at:

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UNEP Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report Finds Climate Change Goals Growing More Elusive

From Huffington Post:

By Wynne Parry

Global greenhouse-gas emissions already have passed the point where the worst effects of global warming could be averted, and they are still rising, according to the third annual United Nations report on the so-called emissions gap.

Some countries have made pledges to help reverse this trend by lowering their emissions. However, the report by the U.N. Environment Programme warns that the gap between these pledges and reductions necessary to cap average global warming at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2020 continues to widen.

“In addition we have one year less to close it,” said Niklas Höhne, one of the UNEP report’s lead authors.

The report, released shortly before an annual round of climate talks set to begin on Monday (Nov. 26) in Qatar, seeks to balance a heightened sense of urgency with a positive message.

“It is technically feasible and economically feasible that the gap can be closed,” Höhne, director of energy and climate policy at the independent research and consulting company Ecofys, told LiveScience.

The math

In 2009, at a meeting in Copenhagen, international negotiators agreed to the goal of capping global warming at 2 degrees C by 2020. Following the meeting, some nations submitted pledges to cut their emissions. The United States, for example, pledged to bring its emissions to about 17 percent below the 2005 level.

In the years since, nations have not made any substantial change to their pledges.

The UNEP report highlights the gap between these pledges and cuts needed put the world on a “likely” path to stay below the 2-degree target. It calculates that the annual emission rate by 2020 should be no more than  48.5 gigatons (44 metric gigatons) of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. [8 Ways Global Warming Is Already Changing the World]

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