Simon Leufstedt

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Posts posted by Simon Leufstedt

  1. I am worried about the recent developments in Ukraine. Russia's military intervention in Crimea is a dangerous escalation. It's quickly becoming the most serious political and military situation in Europe since the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. I will try and collect links here as events unfold. If you know other relevant news sources or want to discuss the current and escalating situation in Ukraine, please post here.


    Ukraine accuses Russia of invading Crimea. Ukrainian official says Moscow has deployed nearly 2,000 suspected troops to an airbase in tense southeastern region [source: Al Jazeera].



    During a Ninety-minute phone call, Obama told Putin he has violated international law, warning Russia of political isolation [source: Yahoo/AFP].


    US pulls out of G8 summit: "The United States will suspend upcoming participation in preparatory meetings for the G-8. Going forward, Russia’s continued violation of international law will lead to greater political and economic isolation" [source: White House].


    Ukraine put its armed forces on full combat alert "Russian military intervention would be the beginning of war and the end of any relations between Ukraine and Russia" [source: ITV].


    Ukranian prime minister proclaims that Russian forces must retreat and any further military intervention by Moscow will result in war [source: The Guardian].


    Canadian Prime Minister tells Putin to withdraw troops from Ukraine, pulls ambassador out of Russia, withdraws from G8 being chaired by Russia and officially recognizes legitimacy of new Ukrainian government [source: CBC].


    Poland, Latvia and Lithuania officially request an emergency NATO meeting in regards to Ukraine, invoking article 4: any member state can convene a meeting of NATO members to consult when it feels its independence or security are threatened [source: Turkish Press].


  2. Only a day after legislators and hundreds of farmers from parched districts in Northern California and the Central Valley rallied on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento, Jerry Brown, Governor of California, made an emergency declaration. "We are in an unprecedented, very serious situation," Brown said while calling on Californians to cut their water consumption by 20%. The now three-year long drought has forced cities to cut water use and may leave farmers no choice but to stop planting some crops. 


    Read the article: Governor declares drought emergency in California

  3. China appears to be losing its appetite for shark fin, a popular delicacy served at state functions, weddings and business dinners as a sign of wealth and prosperity. A government ban on the controversial delicacy at state banquets and official functions last year is now being adopted by restaurants and hotels. Scientists estimate 100 million sharks were killed for their fins last year earning the trade more than a billion dollars. Al Jazeera's
    '>Craig Leeson reports from Beijing.


    Watch the video: 


  4. I used to be all pro choice, but after a few experiences in life I have swung round the other way, personally I am against it and would lobby that it should be illegal... But I live in a country where it has been legal for decades without much debate.


    What kind of experiences made you change your mind?

  5. This is topic is not really about Sahara, but mostly about what is happening right now in the Amazon. 

    Massive deforestation is going on in order to provide paper for countless newspapers and magazines, stationery, furniture in the West. The Western countries are willing to pay for all the wood, and the poor Amazon countries are willing to sell their resources for a quick buck, without even thinking of future generations. 


    I think you are spot on there by linking the deforestation in the Amazon to the global market and the demand for resources from rich industrial cities. It's all about an ecological unequal exchange and historical responsibility.


    I am not defending the massive destruction of precious rainforest, but one shouldn't forget about the large-scale clearings of European forests a few centuries ago. Deforestation in Europe due to the smelters alone, was approximately 15,000 to 20,000 acres of forest per year. Or 1.1-1.5 million acres between 1450 and 1525. In North America the deforestation was later on done in an even greater extent, and the industrial forest and products industry reached its peak. Timber was transported thousands of miles and over 153 million acres of forest was cut down. Additional 304 million acres were carved also down to make way for agriculture (source p.116-117, 126). 
    I think this quote by Brazil’s former President Lula is a good one. He said in 2007 that “the wealthy countries are very smart, approving protocols, holding big speeches on the need to avoid deforestation, but they already deforested everything."
    If you want to learn more about globalization and the environment I recommend reading Rethinking Environmental History: World-System History and Global Environmental Change. :)

  6. Interesting device. Just a couple of questions:

    • It looks pretty big in the video, how big is it?
    • Is it possible to move it around and direct the stream of water?
    • Besides creating awareness, does it have any other water saving features?
    • How is the led readout powered?


  7. I have a good supply of food and water.  We have an ample supply of camping supplies and alternative sources of heat and electricity like generators and wood.  I live in a very rural area as it is and we have to be prepared all the time because our power and water are a bit iffy.


    It sounds like you are prepared for the worst! What kind of items and supplies do you think a city-dweller such as myself should stash? Do you have any good recommendations? 

  8. What do you think?  Was the Sahara a natural event or the result of reckless deforestation?


    I don't think one can blame the Sahara desert on mankind. The climate and environment in that region has seen enormous natural changes and variations over the last few hundred thousand years. But history does show how mankind have contributed to desertification around the edges of Sahara.


    Around 2000 years ago, during the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, one can see how large sections of North Africa, which back then served as crucial granaries for the Romans, were reduced to deserts. A growing demand for food led to soil degradation and the production got extended to ever more marginal lands. Forests on steep hillsides were cut down to make room for cultivation which exposed the soil and made it vulnerable to harsh weather elements which easily eroded the precious soil and left the earth desolated. Overgrazing also interfered with the natural replacement of pasture when herbs, seeds and grasses were destroyed.


    This destruction caused severe and chronic food shortages which in turn contributed to a drop in the population and the weakening of the empire. The erosion caused by all this was so severe that you can still see the effects of it today. All the former great cities in Rome's former North African provinces are now in ruins and surrounded by vast deserts.


    It's fascinating, as well as scary, to see how the fall of the great Roman Empire can, to a considerable extent, be traced back to environmental destruction. If you are interested in learning more I really recommend The Vulnerable Planet by John Bellamy Foster. It's an excellent book that takes a look on the economic history of the environment. :)

    Love 4 Mother Earth likes this

  9. Do you think vertical farming can help us increase food availability around the world? Or is it doomed from the start, as the author of this article claim?


    "Building factory farms in urban skyscrapers is promoted as a way to fix our broken food system. Despite the good intentions of its advocates, it’s a fantasy, an unrealistic techno-fix that can only divert attention from the need for real change."


    Or do you, like Dickson Despommier, see farms in urban skyscrapers as a solution to green deserts and potential future food crisis?


    "Despommier thinks vertical farming will allow us to grow locally and safely without taking over more of the earth’s arable land."



  10. I usually don't do any New Year resolutions because I rarely keep them. So what's the point you know? ;)


    But those are two good resolutions and I wish you the best of luck with them. By adopting a more vegetarian diet, i.e. cutting down on dairy products and meat, you are contributing substantially towards improving our environment and reducing the causes of climate change. 

  11. MapGIF_111413.gif


    Scientists have created, together with Google and the U.S. government, a high-resolution map of the world's forest using satellite imagery. The amazing high-res map details the growth and loss of some of the world's key ecosystems between 2000-2012.


    "Using archived imagery captured by a NASA satellite called Landsat, Hansen and his team used Google Earth Engine computing to map a detailed view of global forests at 30-meter resolution that they say is a vast improvement over previous knowledge of forest cover. It has allowed them to quantify forest gain and loss each year from 2000 to 2012, whether from logging, fires or storms. Users of the map have the ability to zoom in on small regions of the globe and see how forest cover has changed over time."


    The results from the satellite images have shocked scientists. 


    "Between 2000 and 2012, some 880,000 square miles of forest were lost, largely in tropical and subtropical areas. Only 309,000 square miles of forest were gained during that period. [...] What’s more, while the satellite images confirmed that the rate of deforestation in Brazilian rain forests — once the highest in the world — is on the decline, and indeed has been cut in half, “intensive forestry” in developing countries in Africa and Asia more than offset the gains achieved in Brazil."


    And it doesn't look much better in the West. In Southeastern  U.S., 31% of the subtropical forests had been lost, or in some cases regrown. These forests are also disturbed at four times the rate of South American rain forests.


    The massive deforestation is mostly a result of industrial development and the need for commodities such as timber, soybeans and palm oil in the global marketplace. “The product chain leads directly back to us,” Matthew Hansen, a professor of geographical sciences at the University of Maryland, said. “The demand comes back to us."


    via Al Jazeera America