Fatal combinations

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Author: Metta Spencer

Get up! Our house is on fire!” a thirteen-year-old girl calls out. Exactly. Get up! We adults have been acting as if there were no emergency, although we are confronting the hardest challenge in human history. So, get up! Hurry!

We must rouse all the other grown-ups too and do everything possible to save the world from six potential catastrophes: militarism (the foolish reliance on weapons and warfare for security); the climate crisis; and four other impending threats—famine; pandemics; massive radiation exposure; and cyberattacks.

These are all real risks and we caused them all, so it’s up to us to handle them. And we may fail. But after all, the most interesting problems are the hard ones. As John Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Saving the world will be even harder. But just as much fun!

Okay, What Shall We do?

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What a wealth of material!

An interesting article from Bellona regarding the impacts of COVID-19 on the nuclear energy industry. A number of sensitive sectors — such as nuclear power plant operators — are requesting staff member lodge on site to limit potential exposure routes to COVID-19. This further illustrates concerns over the aging and shrinking workforce of experts and technicians in the field of nuclear energy. Title: Covid-19 Could Cause Staff Shortages in the Nuclear Power Industry Author: Digges, Charles Publication(s): Bellona (Nuclear Issues) Date: 20 March 2020 Link: https://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2020-03-covid-19-could-cause-staff-shortages-in-the-nuclear-power-industry Article Excerpt(s): “As the Covid-19 virus grinds world economies to a halt, several national nuclear operators are weighing how to keep sensitive and vulnerable infrastructure chugging along in the face of staff shortages due to the illness. A number of national contingency plans, if enacted, could mark an unprecedented step by nuclear power providers to keep their highly-skilled workers healthy as governments scramble to… Read more »

An interesting article from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in regards to the impacts of COVID-19 on nuclear inspections in Iran. Title: One potential victim of coronavirus? Nuclear inspections in Iran Author: Moore, George M. Publication(s): Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Date: 17 March 2020 Link: https://thebulletin.org/2020/03/one-potential-victim-of-coronavirus-nuclear-inspections-in-iran/ Notes: See article excerpts. Article Excerpt(s): ” Should the new IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi decide to suspend inspection visits to protect the health of his inspectors, it could metastasize concerns about Iranian nuclear proliferation. The same result would occur if Iran acted unilaterally to bar inspectors based on real or manufactured concerns about further spread of Covid-19. To date, there is no public information about whether the IAEA will continue to send inspectors to Iran under the terms of the nuclear deal. Suspending inspections, even temporarily, could potentially leave a multi-month gap that Iran could exploit if it chose to fully… Read more »

An interesting article on nine major climate change tipping points.

Title: Explainer: Nine ‘tipping points’ that could be triggered by climate change
Author: Robert McSweeney
Date: 10 February 2020
Publication: Carbon Brief
Link: https://www.carbonbrief.org/explainer-nine-tipping-points-that-could-be-triggered-by-climate-change

Half the pregnancies in the US are unintended. Across the globe hundreds of millions of women do not have access to modern contraception and safe abortion. In the Sahel (mainly Francophone Africa) the population will triple by mid-century, just as climate change diminishes the food supply (already in Niger 4 out 10 children are stunted due to lack of food). Meeting the unmet need for family planning in a human rights framework is a win/win situation for everyone. As measured by the OECD, only one per cent of foreign aid goes to family planning. Based on half a century of experience in many different cultures I believe that doubling the amount of foreign aid going to family planning from 1% to 2% of the total would work miracles. Please write in supporting this policy. If you disagree, please begin a much needed debate. Malcolm Potts MD, PhD, FRCOG UC Berkeley… Read more »

Canadian children face serious risks as a result of climate change and health-care providers must adopt new practices to mitigate the effects, says a guidance document from a national group of pediatricians. Infants and children are particularly vulnerable to heat sickness, reduced air quality due to pollution and wildfires, infection from insects, ticks and rodents, and other hazards that are expected to pose greater risks as a result of climate change, according to the Canadian Paediatric Society’s document,published Wednesday. “There is a change in children’s health issues within Canada and pediatricians are going to be dealing with conditions that they didn’t expect in their region or their area,” said Irena Buka, lead author of the guidance and clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. The CPS is urging health-care professionals who care for children to be aware of the changing risks and be prepared to provide… Read more »

Did I miss the section where racism and poverty are specifically addressed?

Taken together, racial and economic “minority” groups actually comprise the greater part of the world’s population. Because “otherization” (dehumanization based on group affiliation) makes these groups most expendable, marginalized populations are especially vulnerable in each of the issues in the Platform for Survival.

Depending on circumstances, any group can be subject to otherization, so addressing the way these problems impact people at the bottom of the social and economic strata will be comprehensive and globally beneficial. It is also a way to engage groups who have been historically silent or silenced.

Following these subjects is probably the most important thing we can do at this moment in history. Following these subjects is also very difficult and can be disheartening. I am a single senior who has been paying attention for decades. (I put question marks and exclamation marks beside my note when an official from the Clinton administration spoke about the possibility of war with China.) Over the years I have found that these are not subjects people have wanted to engage with. The times, of course, are a-changing, and we will deal with them, like it or not. I appreciate this invitation to engagement and encourage you to publish it more widely, and in a more accessible format. “Okay, what shall we do?” is exactly the right question. It is off-putting, though, and overwhelming when followed by a list of 30 publications. Instead of showing the long list of notes… Read more »