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Climate crisis: We are whistling into the abyss | Climate Crisis

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I have to interrupt your regularly scheduled stuff to issue this dire warning: You, me and the rest of the world are whistling into the abyss.

The damning fact is that once I finish writing this column and you finish reading it, you, me and the rest of the world will likely return to our regularly scheduled stuff while we keep whistling towards a dead end – literally.

The other damning fact is that we have been too busy whistling as this on-life-support planet we call home hurtles towards extinction borne of our stupidity, hesitancy, greed, addictions, and complacency.

We have been teetering at the edge of the abyss for a long time. Scientists have told us that we have what amounts, in human history, to a nanosecond to save ourselves and everyone who may or may not come after us.

As always, most of us refuse to listen or act. Worse, too many scientifically illiterate dolts remain convinced that since they can still make snowballs or ski, the human-made climate catastrophe is a human-made hoax.

So, they prefer to gorge on their convenient comforts rather than confront the discomfort of making the urgent and necessary changes and sacrifices we ought to have made years ago to stop the earth from burning.

These days, we prefer to talk or read about a slap at the Oscars rather than talk about, let alone read, another thick report which joins a bookcase of other thick reports that make a familiar point: if the rich, “developed world” does not cut the carbon pollution it spews into the atmosphere, then we will tip into the abyss and no one – however rich or comfortable they may be – will be able to find the emergency exit door.

On Monday, a legion of smart, careful scientists got together again to shout their much more learned variations of “fire”. This time, it took a few thousand pages for them to do it.

Of course, the smart, careful scientists who collect the facts to show us how and why the planet is burning and what we must do about it – today, not tomorrow – are sober, responsible people. They are not in the habit of actually yelling “fire” in a crowded planet.

Maybe they should start.

In the meantime, the smart, careful scientists use nice, diplomatic language to tell us the planet is on fire. They use phrases like the world is “facing a moment of reckoning” or we need the “political courage…to look beyond our current interests”.

It is not working or penetrating enough minds to make a tangible bit of difference.

If I were one of those smart, careful scientists, I would have ditched being nice and polite in 1999.

This is how I would have begun Monday’s press conference unveiling the most recent “now or never” study: Thank you for joining me today, everyone. The planet is on fire. Let me repeat that. The planet is on fire. By the way, did I mention that the planet is on fire?

Then, I would have added: Look, here’s the life-or-death deal. If you, me and the wealthy nations who are most guilty of killing the planet degree by rising degree don’t do anything about global warming today, not tomorrow, well, that’s it.

The planet is going to die and that means, eventually, all life on this big, sometimes wondrous, often ugly, blue and white marble will die, too. Oh, so you know, before that happens, there will be bigger, longer and deadlier floods, wildfires, tornadoes, typhoons, cyclones, hurricanes, and droughts. Guaranteed.

And in some parts of the globe, sea levels will go up by several metres, in other parts of the globe it will drop. Scores of once vibrant, coastal cities will disappear beneath the waves as Edgar Allan Poe foreshadowed in his poem, The City in the Sea.

Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest

I do not know whether UN Secretary-General António Guterres reads Poe. I do know that he came as close as any diplomat has come to shouting not only “fire,” but, “Hey, wake the hell up.”

Guterres stabbed an incriminating finger at the “developed world” after the release of the UN’s latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (IPCC) which found that industrial powers are responsible for 57 percent of all greenhouse gases emitted by humans since 1850.

“Some government and business leaders are saying one thing – but doing another. Simply put, they are lying,” Guterres said. “High-emitting governments and corporations are not just turning a blind eye; they are adding fuel to the flames. They are choking our planet, based on their vested interests and historic investments in fossil fuels.”

Isn’t it refreshing when diplomats put things simply?

In any event, the UN’s top diplomat ended his blistering indictment by describing the IPCC findings as a “file of shame… cataloguing empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unliveable world”.

The numbers are as clear-cut as they are pressing. If you, me and the “developed world” do not cut carbon emissions by 47 percent by the end of this decade then you, me and the “developed world” will not be able to cap warming at 1.5 degrees.

If you, me and the “developed world” fail to do the above – it is sayonara planet Earth.

Alas, editors who make decisions about what is news buried the IPCC report. Wars sell. Reports do not. The 24-hour news cycle matters. Something that could or could not happen by the end of the decade, does not.

If so-called “responsible” journalists adopt this ostrich-like attitude to the looming peril, is it any wonder that myopic politicians do the same?

Last year, US President Joe Biden said global warming was the challenge of our time. His “ambitious” legislative agenda to address it is DOA – dispatched by a member in-name-tag-only of his party who is wedded to the coal and fossil fuel industry like a conjoined twin.

The US Congressional mid-terms are approaching and rising prices at the pump – triggered, in large part, by a war criminal in the Kremlin – have emboldened some craven Democrats and the entire Dumb-as-A-Pet-Rock Grand Old Party to resurrect the insipid clarion call: “Drill, baby, drill.”

If that does not prompt to you curl up into a ball of existential angst and despair, consider this: the “former guy” who looks poised, at the least, to become the future Republican nominee for president dismissed global warming last month as “a thing called the weather.”

In mid-March, the “former guy” told members of the Dumb-as-A-Pet-Rock Grand Old Party at a rally in South Carolina not to spend any of their single-digit synapses worrying about melting glaciers and ice sheets because rising sea levels would “create more oceanfront properties.”

They roared.

OK. I am done. You and I can go back to our regularly scheduled stuff.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.



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Is a new strategy needed to fight armed groups in the Sahel? | Conflict

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Video Duration 24 minutes 45 seconds

From: Inside Story

Mali pulls out of the regional G5 Sahel force, blaming a lack of progress and disagreements.

A founding member of a multinational West African security alliance is pulling out.

Mali is withdrawing from the G5 Sahel joint force fighting armed groups linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda.

The military government blamed a lack of progress and internal divisions.

It also accused a country outside of the region of trying to isolate Mali, without providing details.

With France, Germany and the European Union reducing their involvement in Mali, who’ll be left to look after security in West Africa?

Presenter: Mohammed Jamjoom

Guests:

Niankoro Yeah Samake – Malian politician and president of the Party for Civic and Patriotic Action

Emmanuel Kwesi Aning – Director of research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre

Jacques Reland – Senior research fellow at the Global Policy Institute



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European energy giants set to keep buying Russian gas | Oil and Gas News

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The European Union’s guidelines appear to allow the continent’s energy giants to keep buying Russian gas without breaching sanctions.

By Bloomberg

European energy giants are pressing ahead with plans to keep buying Russian gas as the European Union’s guidelines appeared to allow them to do so without breaching sanctions.

Even as conflicting messages continued to emerge from Brussels over the legality of complying with Moscow’s demands to pay for gas in rubles, Italy’s Eni SpA said it was opening a ruble account to keep the gas flowing.

It’s the clearest sign yet that the biggest European importers of Russian gas are counting on business as usual. Germany’s Uniper SE and Austria’s OMV AG also expect to find a way to keep buying.

Moscow’s demand on March 31 that gas payments should now be made in rubles threw markets and policy makers into disarray and companies have been scrabbling ever since for a way to keep the crucial energy flowing without breaching sanctions aimed at weakening Russia in its war in Ukraine. The move has divided the bloc, with Poland and Bulgaria quick to reject Moscow’s demands — and have their gas cut off as punishment.

Share of natural gas imports coming from Russia, 2020 |

The bloc has issued two sets of guidance on the matter so far, both of which allow room for interpretation. There’s still nothing in writing from the Commission that explicitly stops companies from paying Gazprom PJSC in a way that the Russian company has indicated would be satisfactory.

Gas prices fell on Monday as the latest Brussels missive to member states stopped short of banning companies from opening bank accounts in rubles. Then on Tuesday, European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said that opening an account in rubles would go beyond the recommendations and constitute a breach of sanctions. Gas prices rose, before easing back again after Eni said it was pressing ahead.

“Anything that goes beyond opening an account in the currency of the contract with Gazprombank and making a payment to that account and then issuing a statement saying that with that you consider you have finalized the payment contravenes the sanctions,” Mamer said.

The issue has divided the bloc, with Poland outraged at the EU’s reluctance to set out clear red lines. In the opposite camp, Prime Minister Mario Draghi went as far as to say that it was a gray area when it came to sanctions. And enforcing sanctions is a matter for member states, rather than the bloc.

“There is no official pronouncement of what it means to breach sanctions,” he said. “Nobody has ever said anything about whether ruble payment breach sanctions.”

(releads)

–With assistance from Vanessa Dezem, Jonathan Tirone, Alberto Nardelli and Jerrold Colten.



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EU set to approve new military aid for Ukraine | Russia-Ukraine war News

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Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell says bloc set to approve another 500 million euros ($527m) in military aid for Ukraine.

European Union defence ministers are set to approve another 500 million euros ($527m) in military aid for Ukraine, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said.

“We have to continue to support the Ukrainians with arms, that’s why we will pull 500 million euros more” from the European Peace Facility, Borrell told reporters on Tuesday on the way to the meeting of EU defence ministers.

The new tranche of military support would bring the bloc’s military aid to 2 billion euros ($2.1bn).

Borrell also expressed support for Finland and Sweden’s requests to join NATO and hoped the alliance would be able to overcome Turkey’s objection to the bids.

According to Borrell, the two countries will “receive strong support from all member states because it increases our unity and makes us stronger”.

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht and her Luxembourg counterpart Francois Bausch argued both countries belonged in NATO “because of the values that they are defending”.

Sweden has signed a formal request to join NATO, a day after the country announced it would seek membership in the 30-member military alliance.

Legislators in Finland have formally approved Finnish leaders’ decision to join as well.

The moves by the two Nordic countries, ending Sweden’s more than 200 years of military non-alignment and Finland’s non-alignment after World War II, have provoked the ire of the Kremlin.

While most NATO members are keen to welcome the two countries as quickly as possible, Turkey has potentially complicated their accession by saying it cannot allow them to become members because of their perceived inaction against exiled Kurdish fighters.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday doubled down on comments last week indicating that the two Nordic countries’ path to NATO would be anything but smooth.

He accused the two Nordic countries of refusing to extradite “terrorists” wanted by his country.

“Turkey has opposition to this. Turkey says that the two harbour terrorism, that they have supporters of the PKK and the Kurdish nationalists living in their countries. This is something that throughout the week is going to be a big issue,” Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays reported from Brussels.

“We understand that the Turkish foreign minister and the US secretary of state are going to meet in New York in the coming days but how can this issue be overcome?”

Turkey is a NATO member. All 30 NATO countries must agree to open the door to new members.

Sanctions against Russia stalled

The EU has been unable to agree on its sixth package of sanctions against Russia – which includes asset freezes and travel bans on prominent supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The plan outlined earlier this month by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen included an embargo on Russian oil imports to come into effect at the end of 2022.

The sanctions against Russia target individuals including Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as banning the export of luxury goods, and coal imports, and excluding Russian and Belarusian banks from using the SWIFT international payment system.

However, Hungary, which is nearly completely dependent on Russian oil, is holding up an EU-wide embargo that requires unanimity from the 27 member states.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has likened the oil embargo to an atomic bomb hitting his country’s economy.



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