Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘ENDANGERED SPECIES

Another endangered species? The Middle Class?

Is that Piketty’s prophecy comes true?

According to a new report, the richest 1% have got their mitts on almost half the world’s assets.

Think that’s the end of the story? Think again. This is only the beginning.

Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

New research reveals the superrich have grabbed half the world’s resources — and their wealth is only growing

The “Global Annual Wealth Report,” freshly released by investment giant Credit Suisse, analyzes the shocking trend of growing wealth inequality around the world.

What the researchers find is that global wealth has increased every year since 2008, and that personal wealth seems to be rising at the fastest rate ever recorded, much of it driven by strong equity markets.

But the benefits of this growth have largely been channeled to those who are already affluent.

While the restaurant workers in America struggled to achieve wages of $10 an hour for their labor, those invested in equities saw their wealth soar without lifting a finger. So it goes around the world.

The bottom half of the world’s people now own less than 1 percent of total wealth, and they’re struggling to hold onto even that minuscule portion.

On the other hand, the wealthiest 10 percent have accumulated a staggering 87 percent of global assets.

The top percentile has 48.2 percent of the world wealth. For now.

One of the scary things about the wealth of the super-rich is what French economist Thomas Piketty pointed out in his best-selling book, Capital in the 21st Century.

Once they’ve got a big chunk of wealth, their share will get bigger even if they sit by and do absolutely nothing.

Piketty sums up this economic reality in a simple and horrifying formula: r > g.

Basically, this means that when rate of return on wealth is greater than the overall rate of growth of the economy, as it has nearly always been throughout history, the rich will grow inevitably richer and the poor poorer unless there is some kind of intervention, like higher taxes on wealth, for example.

If r is less than g, the assets of the super-wealthy will erode, but if r is greater than g, you eventually get the explosion of gigantic inherited fortunes and dynasties.

This is happening now: If you look at the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest people in America, you see a lot more inherited fortunes in the upper ranks than you did a couple of decades ago, when the policies that held inequality at bay began to get dismantled.

In today’s top 10, there are more scions of the Walton family than entrepreneurs like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. These people have essentially done nothing of value for society, and yet their undue influence shapes our political landscape with the wave of a wad of cash.

There have been moments in history when things were not so lopsided.

During the post-war period, inequality was contained because governments made sure their rich didn’t accumulate at such alarming rates by doing things like taxing their estates at a high rate. At the same time, they created policies to lift the incomes of the less well-off and allow them to have some basic security.

But that’s an exception in history. Most of the time, this kind of intervention did not happen, and so the rich kept gobbling more and accumulating more power to keep it that way until one of two things happened — a revolution or some kind of catastrophe or disruptive event, like a war, shook things up.

As the Credit Suisse report states:

“[Wealth inequality] has been the case throughout most of human history, with wealth ownership often equating with land holdings, and wealth more often acquired via inheritance or conquest rather than talent or hard work.

However, a combination of factors caused wealth inequality to trend downwards in high income countries during much of the 20th century, suggesting that a new era had emerged.

That downward trend now appears to have stalled, and possibly gone into reverse.”

That’s right. We’re on a turbo-charged ride back to the days of Downton Abbey.

Piketty warns that we’re in the early stages of reverting right back to periods of massive inequality, like 19th-century Britain or 18th-century France, where great dynastic fortunes ruled and everybody else fought for scraps.

(The new power of Germany, which didn’t accumulate capitalist wealth, was a handicapped for the capitalist nations of England and France that ignited the WWI in order to stop the increased trade exchange of Germany in world market)

What the statistics and formulas don’t show is the kind of human suffering that results from this kind of extreme inequality.

While the global elite zip around the world in private jets and watch their stock portfolios expand on computer screens from within their gated mansions, the bottom half stays awake at night trying to think of how to pay for medicine for a sick child.

The things that give life dignity and meaning, like a quality education, a decent job, and the security of knowing you have a roof over your head and a doctor to care for you when you are ill grow further and further out of reach.

Anxiety never leaves because one unforeseen mishap can push you down into poverty, and if you’re already there, you spend much of your time searching, often fruitlessly, for a way out.

But there’s a little bit of anxiety percolating at the top, too.

On the June cover of the conservative magazine American Spectator, a cartoon shows an incensed mob looking on as a monocled fatcat is led to a bloody guillotine — a scene evoking the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. The caption reads, “The New Class Warfare: Thomas Piketty’s intellectual cover for confiscation.”

In the story that accompanies the image, James Pierson warns of revolution and a growing class of suffering people who want to punish the rich and take away their toys.

That would be one way to address things. Another would be the recognition that inequality is extremely destabilizing and dangerous, and that non-violent interventions are possible, as we saw in America with the New Deal.

Things like robust tax reform, unions, regulation, changes in corporate governance and CEO pay, affordable education, jobs programs, expansion of Social Security and universal healthcare.

Or we could just do things the old-fashioned way and wait for a disaster even bigger than the meltdown of 2007-’08. In that case, fasten your seatbelts. This ride could get very rough.

Is your volunteering work plainly a folly?

Suppose you are a professional and earning $300 per hour doing your work.

For example, a consultant of some kind, a photographer, a lawyer, a physician…

If you are a celebrity, showing up to a fund raising event that you are passionate about, your volunteering of time is a great move for publicity.

Otherwise, why volunteer your “precious time” to build birdhouses for endangered species if you have no carpentry skills?

With what you earn per hour, you can easily hire 6 professional carpenters who will produce dozens of well built birdhouses, instead of the lousy one you might be able to pull through

If you feel like volunteering time and effort, consider the jobs as a break in your routine life-style, from the tedious demands in your profession, a day of vacation to relax…

Volunteer folly does not correspond to volunteer work that may increase your skills and enlarge the sphere of your contacts…

Just don’t fall for these follies that corporate abuse new graduates to exploit their skills and talents for peanuts.

Many young people keep volunteering their time with Red Cross, Scout movement… way after they graduated instead of focusing on their career.

I guess this impulse of staying in close contact with the “tribe” is a mighty factor: we are unable to break free from our emotions and feeling secure.

Note: Read Rolf Dobelli’s (The Art of thinking clear)

 

All European newborn Babies will be Microchipped starting May 2014

 posted on January 22, 2014

On May 2014, newborn children, throughout Europe,will be compelled to take in a subcutaneous RFID chip.

Public clinics in the European Union are to be alerted.

The chip will contain the report sheet on the newborn.

This chip will be doted with an impressive GPS sensor that will task with a micro- disposable battery every 2 years in state clinics. GPS chip grants an edge of error of 5 meters.

The GPS will be linked straight to a satellite, which will guide the networks.

As forecasted, this chip will be essential for all kids born after May 2014 , but with a present confirmation date until December 2016.

Note 1: Apparently, babies in Europe are becoming an endangered species given the low demographics trends

Note 2: I have a few worries:

1. Endangered species have been tagged for quite some time to study their whereabouts and how they are faring. You are under the impression that microchipping at this early years is safe and has no collateral damages as the babies grow up. I beg to differ.

2. Before this method is applied systematically, all the thousands of babies undergoing the “micro-chipping” will be analyzed as cobays.

RELATED:

Former DARPA director Wants You to Swallow ID Microchips

All Americans Microchipped by 2017 (Video)

 

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT of 1973: And 40 years later
Voyaging Back
From An Age of Extinction
Steller sea lion populations have declined by more than 80% because of industrial fishing activities.
Earthjustice legal efforts helped win a court verdict that keeps ESA protections for the species.

Sam Edmondson relates this voyage back from an age of extinction

Six long weeks in the summer of 1741 have passed without sight of land.

Signs, yes—but Captain Vitus Bering and the St. Peter’s Russian crew scorn the pleadings of naturalist Georg Steller, who reads seabirds and seaweed like a map.

They are seamen, though their own maps have failed, and Steller is not.

Finally, land emerges above the clouds, and for the first time Europeans lay eyes on a land of unrivaled beauty and wonder. Alaska.

GEORG STELLER’S ILLUSTRATIONS

The discovery leads to more discovery as Steller documents numerous plants and animals previously unknown to European science; some of which will bear his name.

The honor, though, is all Steller’s.

Two of his discoveries, including the Steller’s sea cow—a relative of today’s endangered Florida manatee—are now extinct, and one, the Steller sea lion, clings to life.

Like most threatened and endangered species, they are victims of habitat destruction and greed, an ancient pairing that when partnered with industrial development brought about a human-caused age of extinction.

In the centuries since Steller’s journey, humans have been extinguishing species on every continent and in every ocean with awful efficiency, shaking nature’s delicate balance to its core.

In that time, before our very eyes, hundreds of plants, birds, mammals and fish disappeared forever; but it wasn’t until just a few decades ago that an ethos of preservation finally took hold, leading to what, arguably, is a species’ best friend.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 became law; and Earthjustice, born in that same era, had one of its first real weapons in the fight to restore balance to nature.

This pioneering work began in 1976 with Earthjustice attorney Mike Sherwood and his efforts to protect the endangered Hawaiian palila.

Since then, Earthjustice attorneys have wielded the ESA to great effect—safeguarding hundreds of plant and animal species.

These efforts include one species very close to Steller—his namesake sea lion, which has declined by more than 80 percent because of industrial fishing that annually removes billions of pounds of fish—the food crucial for the mammal’s survival.

Just a few months ago, Earthjustice legal efforts helped win a court verdict that keeps ESA protections for this sea lion.

Earthjustice also is defending that close cousin of the Steller’s sea cow, Florida manatees, an endangered species at death’s door due in large part to sewage, manure and fertilizer runoff that chokes local waters with toxic algae. Record numbers of these gentle creatures are already dead in 2013.

Manatee. (Liquid Productions LLC)Palila. (Caleb Slemmons)

Endangered Florida manatees are dying in large part due to pollution caused by sewage, manure and fertilizer runoff.LIQUID PRODUCTIONS LLC

The endangered palila feeds exclusively on seeds of the mamane tree on Mauna Kea. CALEB SLEMMONS

In very sharp contrast, far to the north amid the high plains, valleys and peaks of the Rocky Mountains, are some bold and even fierce beneficiaries of Earthjustice work linked to the Endangered Species Act—none more symbolic than the gray wolf.

The ESA has restored the gray wolf to Yellowstone and, in doing so, restored ecosystem balance lost when the wolf was exterminated in the 1920s.

But be forewarned; while the wolf is safe within Yellowstone, its presence right outside the park, where protections have been lifted in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, is in jeopardy; 550 wolves were killed in the 2012 season.

And following one may be far worse if the federal government decides to remove ESA protections in the rest of the lower 48 states.

Keeping wolves howling and manatees swimming and palilas flying may not be as hard in the future—it could be much harder as the effects of climate change accumulate in our ecosystems.

Wolves Keep Yellowstone in Balance.

INFOGRAPHIC BY EVAN MACDONALD   |   VIEW LARGER VERSION

Climate scientist James Hansen warned that “if global warming approaches 3°C by the end of the century, it is estimated that 21 to 52 percent of the species on Earth will be committed to extinction.” Climate change driven by fossil fuel burning has emerged as the greatest of all threats to life on our planet.

How do we preserve life in the face of such danger? For Earthjustice, the answer lies in ending our use of fossil fuels such as coal and oil and replacing them with clean energy. But it also involves building resilience to climate change, which means protecting ecosystems so that species within are able to adapt to the changes that are coming.

This is urgent work because some impacts—melting icecaps, hotter temperatures and drought, to name just a few—are already here.

The Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the planet, yielding this ominous development: It’s becoming easier to search for oil.

For years, Earthjustice has litigated to keep oil companies out of the region in part because drilling—not to mention an oil spill—would harm endangered marine mammals such as the bowhead whale, an argument reinforced by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Grizzly bears in Yellowstone. (NPS)

In an ecosystem where all life is interrelated and connected, the decline of one life form can precipitate the decline of another. In other words, as the whitebark pine seeds go, so go the Yellowstone grizzlies, which depend on the seeds as a key food source.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

The Arctic isn’t the only ecosystem shaken out of balance by climate change. Back in the northern Rockies, for example, high-altitude whitebark pine forests stand dead due to beetle infestations brought on by warmer winters.

This is bad news for the grizzly bear, whose diet relies on the whitebark pine seed.

Farther west, increasingly dry conditions magnify the damage already wrought by dams and diversions on rivers—which further jeopardizes the survival of important salmon runs.

Through Earthjustice efforts, many of these salmon runs were listed under the ESA in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and continue to be aggressively defended today.

Despite these varied and widespread threats to wildlife and the planet, there’s reason to remain optimistic—Steller’s journey offers a clue why. A short time after discovering Alaska, Captain Bering and the crew are suffering relentlessly from scurvy.

Steller, relying on indigenous wisdom, prescribes fresh water and specific plants to cure them, but the captain dogmatically refuses and dies, along with many of his crew. A few who eventually accept Steller’s learned wisdom survive to tell the tale.

We are in something of a Stellerian moment. Faced with massive loss—brought on by destructive actions that ignore how nature works—we find ourselves needing something better than the broken maps that got us here.

Something like a new ethos that embraces natural balance on a global scale. It doesn’t seem so impossible when we look back at what an ethos change brought about just 40 years ago. 

Written by Sam Edmondson. First published in the Winter 2013 issue of the Earthjustice Quarterly Magazine.

VLADIMIR BURKANOV / NOAA
HOW YOU CAN HELPA bill (H.R. 3533 / S. 1731) that could rightly be called the “Extinction Act” has been introduced by anti-environment lawmakers.
It would gut the ESA and put imperiled species at greater risk.TAKE ACTION TODAY

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