Sixth Mass Extinction

[Reprint of article by Dr. Paul R Ehrlich; 11 July 2017]

It’s simple. It’s us. The more people there are, the more habitats we destroy. Human civilization can only survive if the population begins to shrink.

One should not need to be a scientist to know that human population growth and the accompanying increase in human consumption are the root cause of the sixth mass extinction we’re currently seeing. All you need to know is that every living being has evolved to have a set of habitat requirements.

An organism can’t live where the temperature is too hot or too cold. If it lives in water, it requires not only an appropriate temperature range, but also appropriate salinity, acidity and other chemical characteristics. If it is a butterfly, it must have access to plants suitable for its caterpillars to eat. A lion requires plant-eaters to catch and devour. A tree needs a certain amount of sunlight and access to soil nutrients and water. A falciparum malaria parasite can’t survive and reproduce without Anopheles mosquitos in its habitat and a human bloodstream to infest.

The human population has grown so large that roughly 40% of the Earth’s land surface is now farmed to feed people — and none too well at that. Largely due to persistent problems with distribution, almost 800 million people to to bed hungry, and between one and two billion suffer from malnutrition. As a consequence of its booming population, Homo sapiens has taken much of the most fertile land to grow plants suitable for its own consumption. But guess what? That cropland is generally not rich in food plants suitable fo rthe caterpillars of the 15,000 butterfly species with which we share the planet. Few butterflies require the wheat, corn or rice on which humans largely depend. From the viewpoint of most of the Earth’s wildlife, farming can be viewed as “habitat destruction”. And, unsurprisingly, few species of wildlife have evolved to live on highways, or in strip malls, office buildings, kitchens or sewers — unless you count Norway rats, house mice, European starlings and German roaches. Virtually everything humanity constructs provides an example of habitat destruction.

The more people there are, the more products of nature they demand to meet their needs and wants: timber, seafood, meat, gas, oil, metal ores, rare earths and rare animals to eat or to use for medicinal purposes. Human demands cause both habitat destruction and outright extermination of wildlife. So when you watch the expansion of the human enterprise; when you see buildings springing up; when you settle down to dinner at home or in a restaurant; you are observing (and often participating in) the sixth mass extinction.

The expanding human population not only outright destroys habitats, it also alters them to the detriment of wildlife (and often of people themselves). The more people there are, the more greenhouse gases flow into the atmosphere, and the greater the impacts on wildlife that require specific temperature ranges.

And the more people there are, the more cities, roads, farm fields, fences and other barriers preventing wildlife from moving to areas of more favorable temperature or humidity in a rapidly changing climate. Less recognized, but perhaps even more dangerous to both people and wildlife, is the increasing toxification of the entire planet with synthetic chemicals. Growing populations want myriad more items of plastic that often leak toxic chemicals: more cosmetics, cleansing compounds, pesticides, herbicides, preservatives and industrial chemicals. Many of these novel chemicals mimic natural hormones, and in tiny quantities can alter the development of animals or human children, with potentially catastrophic consequences. As with climate disruption, this is one more case of human overpopulation threatening civilization.

So we don’t really need the evidence meticulously gathered and analyzed by the scientific community showing the unusual and accelerating extermination of wildlife populations — and ultimately, species — to know that human population growth is a major and growing driver of the sixth mass extinction, just as it is with the related accelerating climate disruption. It will take a long time to humanely stop that growth and start the gradual shrinkage of the human population that is required if civilization is to persist. All the more reason we should have started a half a century ago, when the problem first came to public attention.

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Obama’s Travels

News Flash to B.H. Obama: you are no longer President. You are an ordinary citizen!

Citizen Obama should follow the lead of former President George H. Bush and other US Presidents before him. But, no, he is paddling around the globe, shadowing President Trump, with his nose in where it does not belong. This following a statement by Obama himself months ago saying, “There is only one President at a time.”, when he thought then nominee Donald Trump might meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.”

That is the Logan Act language passed by Congress in 1799; an act intended to stop any except official representatives of the President of the United States government from conducting foreign affairs with foreign governments.

In the Supreme Court case of the United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp in 1936, the Court observed the following: “The President alone has the power to speak or listen as a representative of the nation. He makes treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate; but he alone negotiates. Into the field of negotiation the Senate cannot intrude; and Congress itself is powerless to invade it. As Marshall said in his great argument of March 7, 1800, in the House of Representatives, ‘The President is the sole organ of the nation in its external relations, and its sole representative with foreign nations.’”

Barack Obama; how guilty can you get? For example, one day after President Trump met with the leader of South Korea, President Moon Jae-in, Obama arranged a meeting with the Korean leader. If Obama discussed any topics related to US policy which do not agree with President Tump’s policies, Obama broke the law.

Then there was the meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Obama met with Merkel on the same day she later encountered President Donald Trump at the NATO summit meeting. What did Merkel and Obama talk about? Cannot imagine, but if anything about the relationship between Germany and the United States was discussed, it was in violation of the Logan Act.

One more: in early June, Obama met in Canada and had dinner with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. News reports have it they discussed policy goals. If so, another violation of the Logan Act.

Obama said, “I try to make it a rule not to meddle in other people’s politics” before reeling off a dripping tribute to Merkel. “If I were here and I were German, and I had a vote, I might support her. But I don’t know whether that hurts or helps.” Meddling? You decide.

Obama does not understand he is now an ordinary citizen of the United States; not the President or a representative of the President. He is a “has been”, not an “is”. If he does not stop his meddling with foreign affairs, he should be prosecuted. Maybe he should be even now.

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Poison Season

When driving through the countryside this week on my way to Marion, I came across a sight I hate to see. It was an agriculture tank spray rig with 16 foot booms extended over rows of soy beans. The multiple nozzles on those booms were spewing glyphosate (Roundup) toxic poison. The odor of that herbicide filled the air. You have seen these rigs on the road as they move from field to field. You know, they are the ones that sit way off the ground so high you wonder if you could drive your car under the middle of them to get on your way as they poke down the road.

What you may not realize is they are the purveyors of death. The poisons they spread are supposed to only kill any “weeds” between the rows of soy beans or corn. What is the problem with that you may say. The problem is that this chemical called a herbicide or pesticide causes cancer in humans. This was the determination of the World Health Organization International Agency on Cancer Research. They call it a “probable human cancinogen”. This is the highest designation they can give using only laboratory animals for testing. Pretty tough to use humans. Of course, Monsanto and other companies who now manufacture glyphosate deny this. Some countries have banned its use.

The truth is glyphosate does kill plants. It also kills soil organisms necessary to keep our agriculture lands healthy. It kills life in streams and rivers when it is washed into them by rains and runoff. Think about it. In our neck of the woods, there is virtually no field that does not have tile under the soil to take away soaking rain water along with any fertilizers and pesticides that have been applied to the land. Where does this go? We have a dead zone over 150 miles in radius at the mouth of the Mississippi river as it empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

And what else? Roundup or glyphosate is used on genetically engineered corn and soy beans. The corn and soy have been genetically modified so they can withstand massive doses of pesticide and live while all vegetation around is supposed to die. Two problems: this has been going on so long now the weeds that were supposed to die are becoming immune to glyphosate. Answer: add more toxic chemicals like 2,4,D; a component of Agent Orange. Or add dicamba, another nasty pesticide that has a habit of not staying where it is applied. The other problem: the chemicals follow the crop to your dinner table. It is almost certain now that if you were tested for glyphosate, you would test positive for it in your body. That stuff is everywhere. Take a look at your local box store shelves as you enter.

But there is trouble for the manufacturers of glyphosate. Multiple law suits have already been filed by people who believe their cancers have been caused by this pesticide. Answer for you: DON’T use it. Stay away from it.

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Open Letter to A.G. Jeff Sessions

A.G. Sessions:

I feel compelled to write to you.

It has become clear Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein is a serious liability rather than an asset. From “fly-over” country he appears to be a mole, political hack, or just stupid. He was around much too long in the Obama years.

His decision to appoint Robert Mueller as special counsel is all one needs to conclude this. Who otherwise would pick Mueller full well knowing the relationship that exists between him and former FBI director James Comey. This is made even more poignant by Comey’s hiring of the cadre of Clinton supporters.

Rosenstein needs to go. Mueller needs to go. You need to UN-recuse yourself, take control, and clean house. Let Congress do whatever “investigating” needs to be done about any all alleged Russian collusion. Don’t let Mueller go off on any fishing expedition to find something to smear President Trump, et al..

Then the Justice Department needs to pursue the crimes of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and more. There appear to be real crimes there.

The President and the Republicans need to get on with the real agenda, not be side tracked with witch hunts. If they don’t, there will be serious adverse consequences for the USA in the long run. You cannot let that happen. You have the power to act.

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Hatton on Abortion

[Jeff Hatton is a prolific letter writer to both the Kokomo Tribune and the Kokomo Perspective newspapers on the issue of abortion.]

Jeff Hatton of Greentown is a “Sound Off” regular on the issue of abortion with the latest being his Tribune June 15th column. His position is clear. He believes all abortion should be banned because he says the Bible says God says so. He states “that life begins where and when the Creator says it does, at conception”. His position is straight forward and clear with no flexibility.

What bothers me is that I am wondering if Mr. Hatton has considered several circumstances in taking such an absolute position. What about the case of the Marion 10 year old girl that was raped and impregnated by a Kokomo man in 2017. This was reported on May 18th, 2017, by both Indianapolis Channel 4 and 13. Should a 10 year old girl be required to be pregnant and possibly give birth to a baby? Required motherhood from rape at age 10? According to Hatton, yes.

And what about instances when doctors have concluded continuing a pregnancy is a threat to the life of the woman? Should a woman and her loved ones have nothing to say about this. Should a woman be required to carry on? According to Hatton, yes.

And what about the cases where gross genetic abnormalities are detected; abnormalities that would at some time during the gestation period lead to the death of the fetus? Should a woman be required to carry on? According to Hatton, yes.

We can agree that women’s bodies are the ones chosen by God to nurture, develop, and give birth to new life. Men were not chosen for this role. I would admonish men to tread lightly when making judgments about agreements between God and women. However, this is not to say men do not have an important, caring, and loving role to play in parenting.

Hatton claims the Bible is clear. However, there are many, many contradictions and complications in the Bible. What we do know with certainty though is Jesus taught love, grace, and forgiveness. He did not teach absolutes.

It is easy to speak absolutes. It is not so easy to deal with circumstances that actually exist in life.

The whole abortion issue has been made more poignant with the incredible images seen in sonograms. Very early in pregnancy a developing life can be seen to move, have a heartbeat, and have a reaction to pain. That life before our very eyes can be seen for the miracle it is.

I have yet to meet anyone who likes the idea of abortion. But life is complicated and sometimes messy. Absolutes against abortion or for abortion rights are troublesome. There just is no easy, simple answer.

 

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Paris Climate Accord & Krull

The director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism, John Krull, has done it again in his Tribune column of June 7th about President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. He refers to Trump’s decision as “dumb, bigly, yugely, and dumb”, again. He writes more like I would expect from MSNBC’s hysterical Morning Joe Scarborough or Rachael Maddow than as a responsible, knowledgeable journalist.

The Paris Climate Accord was yet another example of poor judgment by former President Barack Hussein Obama. Obama did not even have the courage to bring this agreement to the United States Congress for debate and agreement before he committed the United States to its terms. The Agreement terms put the United States at great disadvantage and would have cost taxpayers billions of dollars without commensurate benefit. The worst of the Paris Climate Accord was that the two largest polluters on the planet, China and India, would not have been required to reduce emissions, but in fact could increase them, until 2030. In the meanwhile, the United States has in fact already voluntarily reduced emissions to levels of over 20 years ago.

President Trump put America first. He has stated publicly he intends to encourage the development of cleaner energy sources. In almost the same breath when he withdrew the United States from the Paris agreement, he stated he was more than willing to negotiate a new agreement not so punishing to our country. He reminded all the United States is 20 trillion dollars in debt. We can no longer be the money bank for other countries, whatever the cause. It is up to them to deal with their own problems. This is particularly true for India and China who stood to receive United States monetary support from the Paris agreement. They are the biggest problems and we are not their savior. We need to deal with our own country and our own problems.

The climate is changing. Contrary to some right wing conservatives, the evidence is clear. There are dozens of biological indicators of change. I know of none that support ‘no change’ or insignificant change. The temperature of the planet is increasing on average. Ice caps and glaciers are melting. The range of insects, plants, and animals is being modified. Permafrost areas are melting. Sea levels are rising. There is no doubt about these.

What there is doubt about is exactly why and how much of change is due to human activity…. and conversely, how much can be influenced by behavior change by humans. We suspect root causes to be too many people and too much polluting industry. No one wants to address the former.

I am probably one of the strongest environmentalists around. I have demonstrated this beginning as long ago as the 1970’s when in top management of the Kokomo Tribune. I directed a survey of the Wildcat Creek water quality and helped to initiate the first Creek cleanup effort which continues today. The Tribune encouraged the improvement of the waste sanitation plant for better water quality discharge. The Tribune successfully opposed the creation of the Lafayette Reservoir which would have flooded over 4,000 acres of prime farmland. The Tribune was the recipient of the Izaak Walton League media award for conservation. There was more.

I believe the decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord was the right decision for the United States. It appeared too much to be a scheme for redistribution of wealth across the globe. Its terms were voluntary and not enforceable. We need to lead by example in all areas of conservation of natural resources, not be the suckers again to finance the rest of the world. Director John Krull is wrong again. One must question his qualifications to lead a university Department of Journalism.

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Jarrett on Mueller

[The following is a piece by Jarrett. I had to reprint it because it clearly paints the picture of the witch hunt again President Donald Trump]

GREGG JARRETT, ATTORNEY
FOX NEWS OPINION PIECE
May 23rd, 2017

What is Robert Mueller Investigating (since collusion is not a crime)?

Robert Mueller is tasked with finding a crime that does not exist in the law. It is a legal impossibility.

As special counsel, Mueller can engage in all manner of spectacular jurisprudence gymnastics. However, it will not change the fact that colluding with Russia is not, under America’s criminal codes, a crime. It’s just not there.

Maybe it should be. Perhaps someday Congress will pass a law criminalizing such conduct in political campaigns. But for now, there’s not a single statute outlawing collaboration with a foreign government in a US presidential election. Or any election, for that matter.

Why, then, are so many people who are following the Trump-Russia saga under the mistaken impression that collusion is a crime? Principally, because it is a loaded word with an historic criminal connotation.

“Collusion” became a prominent part of the legal lexicon when Benjamin Harrison occupied the White House and Congress passed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1890 outlawing collusion in some business practices. Specifically, price fixing and other anti-competitive activities became a criminal offense under Section 1 of the Act. Almost overnight, the word “collusion”was converted into a legal pejorative.

But collusion is only criminal in an anti-trust setting. It has nothing whatsoever to do with elections. Yet that has not stopped the politicians, pundits, and journalists from either misunderstanding the concept and/or mis-construing its application to the Trump-Russia hysteria and has reached a deafening pitch.

Both the Department of Justice and the FBI seem equally oblivious.

Mueller’s marching orders: Under the law granting him legal authority (28 CFR 600), a special counsel is charged with investigating crimes. Only crimes. Nothing else. He has limited jurisdiction. Any other wrong doing uncovered in the investigation which does not rise to the level of a criminal offense cannot even be made public by the special counsel. That is the law.

So, what crime is Mueller instructed to investigate? Let’s take a look.

In his order appointing Mueller as special counsel (Order No. 3915-2017), acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein directed him to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump”.

But wait. If Mueller is supposed to look for evidence of a crime that is not, by legal definition, a crime … then isn’t the special counsel being asked to do something that is manifestly unattainable? Doesn’t the impossibility of his assignment render the exercise futile? The answer is yes.

The only conceivable crime is a tangential one. If it could somehow be shown that someone in the Trump campaign aided and abetted the hacking of the National Democratic Committee or the campaign of Hillary Clinton, then perhaps a criminal charge might be made. But as Harvard law professor Allen Dershowitz told Fox News, “I’m sure that didn’t happen”.

How can he be so sure? Common sense. There’s no evidence the Trump campaign had the technical expertise to hack anything. Knowing about a computer theft or even verbally encouraging it is not enough under the law. It requires an overt act that assists in the commission of the crime. It appears that no one, including the Trump campaign, even knew about Russia’s hacking efforts until after they were accomplished and made public.

Any related matters.

Rosenstein order to the special counsel authorizes him to investigate “any other matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” This is the usual all encompassing phrase which allows a special counsel to run rampant in an almost limitless direction to dig up dirt on potential targets.

As I pointed out in a recent column, Mueller’s probe will inevitably morph into an investigation of President Trump’s meeting with James Comey and his subsequent firing of the FBI director. Amid partisan accusations of obstruction of justice the special counsel will surely examine whether the President corruptly attempted to influence, obstruct, or imped the due administration of the law, as the law defines it. (18 USC 1501)

If the President told Comey he hopes former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn could be cleared because “he’s a good guy”, it is not enough to sustain an objection charge. Hoping or wishing for an outcome is not the same as influencing, obstructing or impeding. Nor is firing the FBI director. As Comey himself admitted, the President has the Constitutional authority to fire him for any reason or no reason at all.

Furthermore, the term “corruptly” is specifically defined under {18 USC 1515)(B) as “acting with an improper purpose, including making a false or misleading statement, or withholding, concealing, altering, or destroying a document or other information.” The President’s actions do not come close to satisfying the requirements of acting corruptly.

The most recent accusation is President Trump asked two of his top intelligent officials, Daniel Coats and Adm. Michael Rogers, to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election. If Rogers and Coats had no such evidence of collusion, then asking them to tell the truth is not illegal. But at this point, we do not know what exactly occurred during those alleged conversations.

What we do know is that collusion in a political campaign is not, by itself, a crime.

How then, is it possible to obstruct the investigation of a crime…. which is not a crime?

-30-

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