Category Archives: Climate Change & Environmental Issues

Scientists Revive ‘Zombie’ Virus After 50,000 Years Trapped in Siberian Permafrost

Researchers documented 13 never-before-seen viruses that have been lying dormant, frozen in thick ice, over tens of thousands of years.

By Common Dreams  Published 11-26-2022

Slump D is a massive retrogressive thaw slump on Herschel island., Yukon Territory. Photo: Boris Radosavljevic/flickr/CC

As our world continues to warm up, vast areas of permafrost are rapidly melting, releasing material that’s been trapped for up to a million years. This includes uncountable numbers of microbes that have been lying dormant for hundreds of millennia.

To study these emerging microbes, scientists from the French National Center for Scientific Research have now revived a number of these “zombie viruses” from the Siberian permafrost, including one thought to be nearly 50,000 years old – a record age for a frozen virus returning to a state capable of infecting other organisms.

The team behind the study, led by microbiologist Jean-Marie, says these ancient viruses are potentially a significant threat to public health, and further study needs to be done to assess the danger that these infectious agents could pose as the permafrost melts.

The researchers warned it may just be the tip of the iceberg:

“One-quarter of the Northern Hemisphere is underlain by permanently frozen ground, referred to as permafrost,” researchers wrote in the paper.

“Due to climate warming, irreversibly thawing permafrost is releasing organic matter frozen for up to a million years, most of which decomposes into carbon dioxide and methane, further enhancing the greenhouse effect. Part of this organic matter also consists of revived cellular microbes (prokaryotes, unicellular eukaryotes) as well as viruses that remained dormant since prehistorical times.”

According to Global News:

In 2014, the same researchers unearthed a 30,000-year-old virus trapped in permafrost, the BBC reported. The discovery was groundbreaking because after all that time, the virus was still able to infect organisms. But now, they’ve beaten their own record by reviving a virus that is 48,500 years old.

“If the authors are indeed isolating live viruses from ancient permafrost, it is likely that the even smaller, simpler mammalian viruses would also survive frozen for eons,” virologist Eric Delwart from the University of California, San Francisco told New Scientist.

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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Indigenous People Push Back Against US ‘Thanksgiving Mythology’

“We will not stop telling the truth about the Thanksgiving story and what happened to our ancestors,” says Kisha James, whose grandfather founded the National Day of Mourning in 1970.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 11-24-2022 by Common Dreams

“Many of the conditions that prevailed in Indian Country in 1970 still prevail today,” Kisha James said in Plymouth, Massachusetts on November 24, 2022, pointing to life expectancy, suicide, and infant mortality rates—along with the rising death rate for Native women. (Photo: screenshot/hate5six/YouTube)

The United American Indians of New England and allies gathered at noon Thursday at Cole’s Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts for the 53rd National Day of Mourning—an annual tradition that serves as “a day of remembrance and spiritual connection, as well as a protest against the racism and oppression that Indigenous people continue to experience worldwide.”

“We don’t have any issues with people sitting down with their family and giving thanks,” Kisha James—who is an enrolled member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and is also Oglala Lakota—told BBC. “What we do object to is the Thanksgiving mythology.” Continue reading

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After COP27, all signs point to world blowing past the 1.5 degrees global warming limit – here’s what we can still do about it

 

Young activists have been pushing to keep a 1.5-Celsius limit, knowing their future is at stake.
AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty

 

Peter Schlosser, Arizona State University

The world could still, theoretically, meet its goal of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, a level many scientists consider a dangerous threshold. Realistically, that’s unlikely to happen.

Part of the problem was evident at COP27, the United Nations climate conference in Egypt.

While nations’ climate negotiators were successfully fighting to “keep 1.5 alive” as the global goal in the official agreement, reached Nov. 20, 2022, some of their countries were negotiating new fossil fuel deals, driven in part by the global energy crisis. Any expansion of fossil fuels – the primary driver of climate change – makes keeping warming under 1.5 C (2.7 Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times much harder. Continue reading

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How the global energy crisis is pressuring countries at the UN climate summit – while some race to renewables, others plan more natural gas production

Europe’s natural gas prices have risen dramatically in 2022.
Privetik/iStock/Getty Images Plus

 

Robert Brecha, University of Dayton

Russia’s war on Ukraine has cast a shadow over this year’s United Nations climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, where officials from around the world are discussing the costs of climate change and how to cut emissions that remain near record highs.

The war has dramatically disrupted energy markets the world over, leaving many countries vulnerable to price spikes amid supply shortages. Continue reading

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‘A Brazil of Hope’ as Leftist Lula Defeats Far-Right Bolsonaro in Presidential Runoff

The Workers’ Party candidate, who completed a remarkable political comeback less than three years removed from a prison cell, tweeted one word following his win: “Democracy.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 10-30-2022 by Common Dreams

Brazilian President-Elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Photo: Daya Laxmi Shrestha/Twitter

“A huge blow against fascistic politics and a huge victory for decency and sanity.”

That’s how RootsAction director Norman Solomon described Brazilian President-Elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s Sunday presidential runoff victory against far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, the culmination of a most remarkable political comeback for a man who was languishing behind bars just three years ago.

With 99% of votes counted via an electronic system that tallies final results in a matter of hours—and which was repeatedly aspersed by Bolsonaro in an effort to cast doubt on the election’s veracity—da Silva led the incumbent by more than two million ballots, or nearly two percentage points. Continue reading

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Republican Policies Are Killing Americans: Study

“Changing all policy domains in all states to a fully liberal orientation might have saved 171,030 lives in 2019,” researchers estimate, “while changing them to a fully conservative orientation might have cost 217,635 lives.”

By Kenny Stancil  Published 10-26-2022 by Common Dreams

Main Street, Mount Hope, West Virginia. Photo: Tim Kiser/Wikimedia Commons/CC

The Republican Party’s regressive policies are not just unpopular, but a new study out Wednesday suggests they are also deadly to those who live under them.

Working-age mortality rates have been rising for decades across the United States, but premature deaths are more pronounced in states where “conservative” policies predominate and less common in states that have adopted more “liberal” policies, according to peer-reviewed research published in PLOS ONE. Continue reading

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GOP Threatens to Hold Economy Hostage to Slash Climate Investments

“If Republicans take over Congress, they plan to hold the government hostage and ransom our future,” said one climate advocate.

By Jake Johnson  Published 10-25-2022 by Common Dreams

Screenshot: CNN

In addition to threatening cuts to Social Security and Medicare, congressional Republicans are reportedly plotting to use the debt ceiling and an end-of-year clash over government funding to target popular climate investments approved in August as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that “while some Republicans do favor brinkmanship over Medicare and Social Security… some aides and analysts think the GOP may be more likely to demand changes to other Democratic priorities.” Continue reading

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PR firm accused of greenwashing big oil is helping organize COP27

The US agency has a “shameful track record of spreading disinformation” but has been hired by the Egyptian government

By Ben Webster  Published 10-21-2022 by openDemocracy

The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27, taking place next month in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, is being promoted by PR firm Hill+Knowlton, which has been accused of greenwashing | Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/Sipa USA

The US public relations firm helping Egypt organise COP27 also works for major oil companies and has been accused of greenwashing on their behalf, openDemocracy can reveal.

Hill+Knowlton Strategies, which has worked for ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron and Saudi Aramco, is managing communications for Egypt’s presidency of the UN climate conference, which will take place next month in Sharm El Sheikh. Continue reading

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Marches on US Main Streets Center Poor Voters’ Demands Ahead of Midterms

“The priorities of poor and low-income people are on the ballot this election—from healthcare to living wages to social programs that lift the load of poverty and much more,” said Poor People’s Campaign co-chair Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 10-15-2022 by Common Dreams

The Poor People’s Campaign organized get-out-the-vote marches across the United States, including in Westminster, Maryland, on October 15, 2022. (Photo: Maryland Poor People’s Campaign/Twitter)

Less than a month before Election Day, low-income people and allies came together across the United States on Saturday as part of a get-out-the-vote push by the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.

The campaign aims to reach at least five million people by the midterm elections next month, spreading the word that “if we ever needed to vote for democracy and justice, we sure do need to vote now!” However, the effort also has a message for politicians. Continue reading

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‘Cancel the Debt’: Climate Protests Disrupt World Bank Summit

“The Global South must urgently adapt to the climate emergency so that it can protect its people from a crisis they did nothing to cause,” said Extinction Rebellion. “But it can’t do this while it remains heavily indebted.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 10-13-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: CODEPINK/Twitter

A week of direct action targeting the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group continued in Washington, D.C. on Thursday as protesters interrupted regularly scheduled summit business to demand the financial institutions cancel Global South debt and stop fueling the climate crisis now.

Members of Glasgow Actions Team and other groups drowned out a Thursday afternoon press conference by leaders from Group of 20 nations by shouting, banging makeshift drums, blowing airhorns and vuvuzelas, and generally rousing a racket. Continue reading

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