Voices from the trans community: ‘There will always be prejudice’

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/22/voices-from-trans-community-prejudice

It’s more than 50 years since the UK’s first trans person was outed in the press. So how do members of the community think life has changed for them since?

The Guardian, Monday 21 January 2013

In 1961, a beautiful model who graced the pages of Vogue appeared in the Sunday People under the headline: “Her” Secret is Out. April Ashley, then 25, was the first person in Britain to be outed as a transsexual, not long after she had travelled to Casablanca and survived difficult genital surgery. In subsequent decades, Ashley led the most extraordinary existence, getting up to mischief with aristocrats and actors as well as becoming an informal agony aunt for thousands of people struggling to understand their gender. Since her outing, however, she has never again worked as a model in Britain.

Ashley’s exceptional experiences are typical of  many trans people in Britain. “It was a very schizophrenic life,” she says, referring not to switching gender but the combination of glamour and poverty, acclaim and abuse, she has encountered. Following Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore’s spat with trans activists on Twitter, the vitriol directed at trans people by Julie Burchill in the Observer has caused many to wonder how much has changed.

Ashley, who is 78, penniless and last month collected her MBE from Prince Charles, is airily dismissive of Burchill, who called trans people “bed-wetters in bad wigs”, among other insults. “I don’t know where Miss Burchill goes to see people with crappy wigs on their heads. All the transsexuals I know are very smart looking and have good jobs,” she says. “I do not wear a wig, by the way.”

The transformation for trans people over the course of Ashley’s life is astonishing. It is less surprising how little most people understand of trans lives. If gay activists traditionally asserted their right to be “different”, most trans people have tried to “pass” for their new gender. There is no data on how many people are living as a different gender from their birth but activists estimate that 10,000 people in Britain have undertaken gender reassignment surgery, which was pioneered by German doctors on Lili Elbe, a Danish painter, in 1930. Elbe died from complications in 1931 and, although modern surgery is much safer, plenty quietly live their acquired gender without operations, particularly women “transitioning” to men, for whom genital surgery is more complicated.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/22/voices-from-trans-community-prejudice

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Improving Conversations About Transgender Issues

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brynn-tannehill/improving-conversations-about-transgender-issues_b_2508554.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


This past week a writer in the UK, Suzanne Moore, made a crack about “Brazilian transsexuals.” Transgender twitterers responded immediately, and occasionally irately. Following an increasingly nasty exchange between Ms. Moore and her Twitter followers, a friend of Ms. Moore published an intentionally offensive-as-possible rebuttal. In the end the second article was retracted, Moore left Twitter (then returned), battle lines were drawn and everyone was left angry and out of breath. The sad irony of it all was that Suzanne Moore has written supportive things about the transgender community in the past. After the vitriolic exchanges by both sides, that probably won’t be happening again anytime soon. An opportunity to educate became a debacle.

This incident sums up one of the great catch-22s that the transgender community faces. In order to make any headway on transgender issues, first we have to convince others on the need, feasibility and rightness of our cause. Unfortunately, we exist in a culture that demonizes transgender people to the point where many trans women often inspire visceral reactions of disgust, and where many trans men all too often feel safer just staying invisible. This situation leaves our community disinclined to talk about our experiences. It isn’t comfortable feeling like a lab rat or a sideshow attraction. Given the barrage of negative stereotypes in America about trans people, the subject can be very raw.

As a result, the trans community is often distant, even to potential allies. John Aravosis at Americablog summed up how he feels:

One of my pet peeves of working on civil rights issues is that it’s awfully hard to learn about other communities, because if you ask questions, and they’re not phrased the right way, boy, get ready to get an earful. And as far as I’m concerned, if someone’s heart is in the right place, and they want to learn, they can ask me whatever they want about gay issues, and I’m happy to be their guide.

When LGB and straight people inquire about our experiences as transgender people, they often feel like they are stepping into a mine field: What words should I use? What questions are off-limits? What in the past is ok to ask about? So they pull back and don’t engage, and as a result, they walk away hanging on to whatever preconceived notions they had before.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brynn-tannehill/improving-conversations-about-transgender-issues_b_2508554.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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Trans Cabal: Right To Reply

From Transbareall:  http://www.transbareall.co.uk/news/2013/1/21/trans-cabal-right-to-reply.html

Monday, January 21, 2013

This video has been compiled by TransBareAll as a response to recent transphobic articles in the press. We don’t aim to debate the merits of freedom of speech, or the rights and wrongs of different sides of an argument. Instead we want to show the real impact of the way language is used, how it can affect the people it targets.

In the media (and society in general) there are some words which we never use, such as the ‘N’ word. We don’t choose to avoid them because we are oppressed, but because we understand that due to their historical and social context they aren’t merely offensive, they are directly harmful. We understand that for some terms it is up to the group they have been used against to re-appropriate them. Some of the terms published lately are examples of these – terms so deeply rooted in discrimination, exclusion, hatred and violence, that it is just not ok to say them. Ever. Because of the damage that they do.

This short film includes trans masculine people and allies talking about the impact of this language. Although recent publications seem to refer specifically to trans women, the language used does not separate us – it includes all trans people, and everyone who loves and respects us. It refers to us. It refers to many of the people in this film. Using this language harms all trans people and our wider communities of families, friends, partners and lovers. This is not about offense, it is about hurt. It goes so much deeper.

Continue reading at:  http://www.transbareall.co.uk/news/2013/1/21/trans-cabal-right-to-reply.html

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Chicago: Trans man files complaint against spa

From Xtra Ca:  http://www.xtra.ca/blog/national/post/2013/01/18/Chicago-Trans-man-files-complaint-against-spa.aspx

Friday, January 18, 2013

A transgender man has filed a discrimination complaint against a Chicago, Illinois, spa after its manager told him he couldn’t use the men’s shower area, according to a report in The Windy City Times.

Levi Pine alleges that King Spa & Sauna’s management told him he’d have to use a private shower or leave after questioning him about his gender, the report says. Pine reportedly told the manager — who gave Windy Times only his first name, John — that he didn’t want a private shower and could use the same facilities as the other customers, but he was informed that other customers had complained.

Pine says he told John that he felt discriminated against. “Just because some people who go there are uncomfortable with my body shouldn’t change what I have to do and shouldn’t change my rights as a customer,” he told the Times. He says he’s angry about the situation but feels it was “an opportunity to have dialogue that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.”

The spa manager says he can’t see a better solution other than offering Pine a private room. “The naked man in the women’s spa: that is equal? I don’t think so.”

American Civil Liberties Union lawyer John Knight thinks Pine’s case has merit, and so does Joanie Rae Wimmer, the lawyer who handled the first successful transgender case under the Illinois Human Rights Act, Windy Times notes.

Complete article at:  http://www.xtra.ca/blog/national/post/2013/01/18/Chicago-Trans-man-files-complaint-against-spa.aspx

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Christo-Fascist Hate Monger Scott Lively: ‘True Human Rights Will be Finished’ if the Gay Rights Movement Succeeds

This Neo-Nazi hate monger wrote the Blood Libel titled: Pink Swastikas.

He is also the one urging African nations to commit genocide on LGBT people.

From Right Wing Watchhttp://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/lively-true-human-rights-finished-gay-rights-movement-succeeds

by Brian Tashman
on Tuesday, 1/22/2013

Pastor Scott Lively has republished a column warning that “the First Amendment is under siege” by the gay rights movement which seeks “to crush [civil rights] under the heels of its pink jackboots.” Lively, best known for his work promoting Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, said that the Constitution is the only document “still standing as a barrier to the homosexual agenda” and that “true human rights will be finished in America (and by extension the rest of the western world)” if “the First Amendment falls to the ‘gays.’”

This week marks the anniversary of the adoption of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations. December 10th is International Human Rights Day. Unfortunately, this is a day celebrated mostly by leftists, who have hijacked “human rights” in recent times to serve their own misguided agenda. However, true human rights as they have been understood through the centuries spring from and epitomize the biblical world view.

Moreover, this “right to sodomy” actually undermines true human rights, as exemplified by the collapse of the Magna Charta in the United Kingdom. The first principle of that venerable human rights document declares that “The English Church shall be free.” This principle, established in the bedrock of British jurisprudence in 1215, stood unshakable for nearly 800 years until the rise of the “gay” movement which has in just the past decade achieved the power to redefine religious liberty as “homophobia” and to crush it under the heels of its pink jackboots.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/lively-true-human-rights-finished-gay-rights-movement-succeeds

See also:  Pink News:  Anti-gay evangelist Scott Lively: ‘Gays will crush religion and persecute Christians’

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A Map of Human Dignity

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/opinion/bruni-a-map-of-human-dignity.html

Published: January 21, 2013

Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall. The alliteration of that litany made it seem obvious and inevitable, a bit of poetry just there for the taking. Just waiting to happen.

But it has waited a long time. And President Obama’s use of it in his speech on Monday — his grouping of those three places and moments in one grand and musical sentence — was bold and beautiful and something to hear. It spoke volumes about the progress that gay Americans have made over the four years between his first inauguration and this one, his second. It also spoke volumes about the progress that continues to elude us.

“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall,” the president said, taking a rapt country on a riveting trip to key theaters in the struggle for liberty and justice for all.

Seneca Falls is a New York town where, in 1848, the women’s suffrage movement gathered momentum. Selma is an Alabama city where, in 1965, marchers amassed, blood was shed and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood his ground against the unconscionable oppression of black Americans.

And Stonewall? This was the surprise inclusion, separating Obama’s oratory and presidency from his predecessors’ diction and deeds. It alludes to a gay bar in Manhattan that, in 1969, was raided by police, who subjected patrons to a bullying they knew too well. After the raid came riots, and after the riots came a more determined quest by L.G.B.T. Americans for the dignity they had long been denied.

The causes of gay Americans and black Americans haven’t always existed in perfect harmony, and that context is critical for appreciating Obama’s reference to Stonewall alongside Selma. Blacks have sometimes questioned gays’ use of “civil rights” to describe their own movement, and have noted that the historical experiences of the two groups aren’t at all identical. Obama moved beyond that, focusing on the shared aspirations of all minorities. It was a big-hearted, deliberate, compelling decision.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/opinion/bruni-a-map-of-human-dignity.html

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Congressman McGovern introduces constitutional amendments to overturn Citizens United

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On Jobs and Economic Justice, Will We Lead or Be Lulled By the Speech?

From Campaign for America’s Future:   http://blog.ourfuture.org/20130122/jobs-and-economic-justice-will-we-lead-or-be-lulled-by-the-speech

January 22, 2013

The President gave a terrific speech. But if great speeches could heal our economic wounds, if they could repair the ever-increasing gap between the rich and the rest of us, if they could re-open the closing doors of opportunity for the young, the African-American, the Hispanic, and the graying members of our workforce, we’d be living in a different country today.

We must never forget that in a democracy it’s the people, not their elected officials, who lead. This speech leaves progressive Americans, and that great American majority that agrees with them on economic issues, with a choice:

Will we be pacified with rhetoric, or will we demand – and take – action? Will we lead?


The speech included stirring, if vague, statements about economic fairness. “Our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it,” said the President. “We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.”

That’s certainly true, for all the reasons laid out by economist Joseph Stiglitz his New York Times op-ed of last week. But the President offered no specifics about the growing wealth inequality that has allowed the wealthiest to take more and more of the national income while the rest of the nation. That inequality is truly stunning, and (as polls have shown) is far worse than the American people realize.

This was an opportunity to teach the American people. It was an opportunity to make the case for government job creation, to talk about the need for good jobs at good wages.

It was not taken.

Continue reading at:  http://blog.ourfuture.org/20130122/jobs-and-economic-justice-will-we-lead-or-be-lulled-by-the-speech

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Our Violent Economy is Hurting Women

From Yes Magazine:  http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/violent-economic-reforms-and-women

There is a connection between the growth of unjust economic policies and the intensification of crimes against women. The Delhi gang rape has triggered a revolution—one that we must sustain.

by Vandana Shiva
Jan 18, 2013

Violence against women is as old as patriarchy.

Traditional patriarchy has structured our worldviews and mindsets, our social and cultural worlds, on the basis of domination over women and the denial of their full humanity and right to equality. But it has intensified and become more pervasive in the recent past. It has taken on more brutal forms, like the murder of the Delhi gang rape victim and the recent suicide of a 17-year-old rape victim in Chandigarh.

In India, rape cases and cases of violence against women have increased over the years. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reported 10,068 rape cases in 1990, which increased to 16496 in 2000. With 24,206 cases in 2011, rape cases jumped to incredible increase of 873 percent from 1971 when NCRB started to record cases of rape. And Delhi has emerged as the rape capital  of India, accounting for 25 percent of cases.

The movement to stop this violence must be sustained till justice is done for every one of our daughters and sisters who has been violated.

And while we intensify our struggle for justice for women, we need to also ask why rape cases have increased 240 percent since 1990’s when the new economic policies were introduced.

Could there be a connection between the growth of violent, undemocratically imposed, unfair economic policies and the intensification and brutality of crimes against women?

I believe there is. I am not suggesting that violence against women begins with neoliberal economics. I am deeply aware of the deep gender biases in our traditional cultures and social organizations. I  stand empowered today because people before me fought against the exclusions and biases against women and children: My grandfather sacrificed his life for women’s equality, and my mother was a feminist before the word existed.

Continue reading at:  http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/violent-economic-reforms-and-women

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Greece: The Spectacle of Violence

From The Nation:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/172339/greece-spectacle-violence#

Maria Margaronis
on January 21, 2013

There’s a shadow play going on in Athens, a symbolic political war that also involves real actors and real bombs. The one that went off on Sunday in a suburban shopping mall owned by oligarch Spiros Latsis peppered the front pages of this morning’s papers with shrapnel—“Security cameras show four hooded men”; “Police speak of new terrorist generation”—and made The New York Times: “Bomb Attacks in Greece Raise Fear of Radicalism.” Over the last ten days there have been small explosions outside the homes of pro-government journalists, at banks and local party headquarters and in the building where the brother of the government spokesman lives; someone shot a Kalashnikov into the empty office of the prime minister. So far the only casualty has been people’s sense of security and sanity, the feeling that they can grasp what’s happening around them—but that’s been in intensive care now for some time.

Who’s doing this, and why? The attacks outside journalists’ homes were claimed by an obscure group calling itself the Lovers of Lawlessness/Militant Minority, but that doesn’t tell us much. They could be, as the government says, “far-left anarchists”; they could be, as some on the left say, provocateurs linked to a murky parastate intent on more repression; they could be both at once. But whoever they are, their actions are part of a tightening, an escalation of tension, a narrowing of possibilities, that seems to be gathering speed.

Violence has been simmering for some time in Greece, not just among the young who rioted in Athens in December 2008 but among older people, too. Austerity wears the gentleness out of people’s hearts. At first it was mostly rhetoric. “There are plenty of guns in Athens, plenty of guns, you wait,” an elderly man shouted at me back in 2011. Words became weapons: “They should all be hanged”; “Burn the brothel parliament”; “There’s going to be blood”; “I want Golden Dawn in parliament to beat the others up.” But from the beginning, there was physical violence too: in the attacks on migrants by Golden Dawn supporters with the connivance of the state; in the beating of peaceful protesters and the wild spraying of tear gas by the riot police; in the rain of stones and Molotovs at every demonstration; in the surge of suicides. You could say that hunger and homelessness in the midst of plenty are a kind of violence, too.

That’s not to say that these things are equivalent, or that one form of violence justifies another, only that violence in itself is nothing new. What is new, perhaps, is violence as spectacle, part of a coded dialogue: security theater against the propaganda of the deed. I’m not sure which of the two I dislike more.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/blog/172339/greece-spectacle-violence#

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Did the Flipping of the Reagan Revolution Begin Today?

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Obama inaugurates renewed energy on climate change

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/21/obama-inauguration-climate-change

That the president put climate change so high on his second-term agenda surprised many. But action must follow words

guardian.co.uk, Monday 21 January 2013

President Barack Obama included a call to action on climate change in his inaugural speech on 21 January, surprising those who believed gun violence and immigration reform would take top billing. It’s not the first time he’s talked about the issue, by any means, but few thought he would return to it with such emphasis now.

During his 2008 campaign, he spoke of working for the moment when the rise of the oceans would begin to slow and our planet would begin to heal. During the 2012 election campaign, he was mocked for that statement.

But no one was laughing this fall when waves swept over lower Manhattan and towns up and down the eastern seaboard; nor this summer when much of the US midwest suffered from drought and brave firefighters battled unprecedented fires across the west. Obama spoke in Monday’s inaugural address of our responsibility to “preserve our planet”, recognizing that “the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations”.

So can we expect the president to take the sort of leadership on the climate that many have hoped for since his 2008 campaign? In particular, will he stand up to the pressure of the fossil fuel lobby?

Here are the top things he can do to turn those intentions into the actions that would be up to the scale of the problem. Many of them can happen without the consent of congressional Republicans.

First, President Obama proposed a national conversation on climate during his first post-2012 election press conference. He should launch that conversation with clear statements about the urgency of the climate science, an explanation of what is at stake, and a call to all Americans to be part of the change.

It’s important that he not dumb this down. We need to know what it means to have experienced record-breaking temperatures, floods, droughts, wild fires, melting ice caps, and extreme storms. When given a full account of a threat, the American people have risen to big challenges in the past. We did it during the second world war when millions enlisted in the military, grew “victory gardens”, recycled, and went to work in factories to aid the war effort. He should call on us to be the next “greatest generation”.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/21/obama-inauguration-climate-change

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Plan to Salt the Oceans Gets Thumbs Down

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/plan_to_salt_the_oceans_gets_thumbs_down_20130122/

By Tim Radford, Climate News Network
Jan 22, 2013

This article originally appeared at Climate News Network.

LONDON—Some forms of geo-engineering—the high tech, quick-fix response to climate change—may prove an expensive way to counter a costly problem, according to new research.

Marine scientists in Germany have calculated the effectiveness of “fertilising” the oceans with minerals to change their chemistry and absorb more of the atmospheric carbon dioxide they receive and thus reduce the risk of further global warming.

The technique would work. But it would also involve the massive additional use of energy on a global scale and in the course of doing so release further quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And in the end, it could make only a small difference to overall emissions.

Almost since climate change was first identified as a looming challenge, scientists have been considered technological ways of countering the worst impacts. Their advice is that the most effective answer is to limit emissions in the first place.

But they have also proposed global “sunshades” created by the release of sulphate aerosols into the upper atmosphere; spraying fine mists of seawater high into the air to intensify the reflective surfaces of clouds; and seeding the oceans with minerals to alter their capacity to serve as a natural “sink” for the extra carbon dioxide.

Modest results

Around 70% of the planet is blue water: it is home to teeming algal life that harnesses sunlight to exploit carbon dioxide for growth. But this growth is limited by the availability of other nutrients – among them iron.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/plan_to_salt_the_oceans_gets_thumbs_down_20130122/

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‘Population Bomb’ scientist: ‘Nobody’ has the right to ‘as many children as they want’

I did my part by remaining childfree.

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/01/22/population-bomb-scientist-nobody-has-the-right-to-as-many-children-as-they-want/

By Kay Steiger
Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Stanford professor and author of The Population Bomb recently published a paper in a scientific journal re-emphasizing climate change and population growth pose existential threats to humanity and in an interview with Raw Story said that giving people the right to have as many children as they want is “a bad idea.”

“The only criticism we’ve had on the paper is that it’s too optimistic,” said Paul Ehrlich, Bing professor of population studies at Stanford University and president of the Center for Conservation Biology. “You can’t negotiate with nature.”

The study, published  the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal earlier this month says that climate change is “driven by overpopulation, overconsumption of natural resources and the use of unnecessarily environmentally damaging technologies and socio-economic-political arrangements to service Homo sapiens‘ aggregate consumption.”

“Overall, careful analysis of the prospects does not provide much confidence that technology will save us or that gross domestic product can be disengaged from resource use,” the paper continued. The way to stop this is to “stop treating population growth as a ‘given’ and consider the nutritional, health and social benefits of humanely ending growth well below nine billion and starting a slow decline. This would be a monumental task, considering the momentum of population growth. Monumental, but not impossible if the political will could be generated globally to give full rights, education and opportunities to women, and provide all sexually active human beings with modern contraception and backup abortion.”

“Giving people the right to have as many people as many children that they want is, I think, a bad idea,” Ehrlich told Raw Story. “It’s not giving people the right to have as many children as they want, it’s giving people the right to control their reproduction so that they don’t have so many children that their children’s and grandchildren’s lives are in danger.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/01/22/population-bomb-scientist-nobody-has-the-right-to-as-many-children-as-they-want/

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How High Could the Tide Go?

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/science/earth/seeking-clues-about-sea-level-from-fossil-beaches.html

Published: January 21, 2013

BREDASDORP, South Africa — A scruffy crew of scientists barreled down a dirt road, their two-car caravan kicking up dust. After searching all day for ancient beaches miles inland from the modern shoreline, they were about to give up.

Suddenly, the lead car screeched to a halt. Paul J. Hearty, a geologist from North Carolina, leapt out and seized a white object on the side of the road: a fossilized seashell. He beamed. In minutes, the team had collected dozens more.

Using satellite gear, they determined they were seven miles inland and 64 feet above South Africa’s modern coastline.

For the leader of the team, Maureen E. Raymo of Columbia University, the find was an important clue as she tries to determine just how high the oceans might rise in a warmer world.

The question has taken on new urgency in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which caused coastal flooding that scientists say was almost certainly worsened by the modest rise of sea level over the past century. That kind of storm tide, the experts say, could become routine along American coastlines by late in this century if the ocean rises as fast as they expect.

In previous research, scientists have determined that when the earth warms by only a couple of degrees Fahrenheit, enough polar ice melts, over time, to raise the global sea level by about 25 to 30 feet. But in the coming century, the earth is expected to warm more than that, perhaps four or five degrees, because of human emissions of greenhouse gases.

Experts say the emissions that may make a huge increase of sea level inevitable are expected to occur in just the next few decades. They fear that because the world’s coasts are so densely settled, the rising oceans will lead to a humanitarian crisis lasting many hundreds of years.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/science/earth/seeking-clues-about-sea-level-from-fossil-beaches.html

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