Plea to Medical Profession | Our Moral Obligation | Dr. Lise Van Susteren

Our Moral Obligation

I am a doctor. A psychiatrist. Over the years I have heard many troubling stories about the human condition. I have worked with individuals who were “on the ledge” emotionally. I have worked with people who fantasize about killing people, and some who have. I have listened to people recount being tortured, abused. I have evaluated the psychological states of foreign leaders who threaten world security. I have heard the details about children who have died at the hands of people who were out of their minds with drugs or illness. People have died in my arms, dropped dead at my feet.

Nothing has prepared me for what I am currently hearing: scientists all over the world warning us about the threat of catastrophic and irreversible climate change.

As a member of several organizations that involve professionals working in the field of mental health, I am stunned that this threat to the health of the planet and the public is so underplayed by these organizations and their members. An official from one leading organization expressed regrets that she was unable to attend a recent forum wrestling with the psychological and mental health aspects of climate change and noted, “no one on the staff is interested.” The person she anointed in her place cancelled.

One of the missions of these associations is to relieve human suffering. As practitioners we help people to face reality. We chip away at their denial knowing it can be a cover for behaviors that destroy their lives. When they see the world more clearly, we urge them to take charge – warning of the dangers of being passive.

Scientists every day are telling us that climate change is happening far faster than anyone had predicted and that the magnitude of the problem is unfathomable. “We have an emergency,” warns NASA scientist James Hansen. “People don’t know that. Continued ignorance and denial could make tragic consequences unavoidable.”

Why are the organizations and their members, those most skilled at exposing the danger of denial and destructive behaviors, so silent about this crisis? Are they in denial themselves? Surely the science isn’t disputed. Surely we don’t believe that destroying life on our planet is “not our problem.”

Our canon of ethics says we have a duty to protect the public health and to participate in activities that contribute to it.

Where, then, are the journal articles, the committee reports, the mission statements, action plans, letters to the editor, presentations, etc that attest to the gravity of what we are hearing? Where are the recommendations that show how to break through denial and get people to change – quickly? Are we not the very organizations to seize upon warnings and confront the world before it is too late?

We see through resistance, excuses, faulty reasoning. We “get” urgency, we “get” life-long consequences. We see the anger, anxiety and depression caused by the mistakes and shortcomings of a previous generation. We know about trauma from repeated exposure to horrifying events. We are trained, indeed we are ethically bound, to respond to emergencies.

What are we waiting for?

We are already seeing wildfires, floods, sea level rise, storms, droughts, risks to our national security, and a mass extinction.

Lethal global overheating – strike the innocuous sounding “global warming” – is not something that may happen in the next century or even mid-century – it is happening now.

All of us, urgently and collectively, have a duty to warn our patients, co-workers, families, neighbors, friends. We have a duty to act – within our professional organizations, in our communities, offices and homes. Climate scientists are desperately trying to tell us to reduce our carbon emissions – to stop building new coal plants, to switch to clean renewable energy, to embrace energy efficiency – to “pay any price, bear any burden.”

Mental health professionals vigorously endorse requirements to report cases of child abuse. It is a legal obligation, but it is also a moral one.

Is it any less compelling a moral obligation, in the name of all children now and in the future, to report that we are on track to hand over a planet that may be destroyed for generations to come?

I respectfully request that we, as mental health professionals, make a unified stand in support of actions to reduce the threat of catastrophic climate change.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lise-van-susteren/our-moral-obligation_b_187751.html

The Declaration of Cumaná, Venezuela | This is a Brilliant Read Based on How We are Currently Functioning as a Society

The Declaration of Cumaná

April 23rd 2009, by ALBA Member Countries

ALBA

Cumaná, Venezuela

We, the Heads of State and Government of Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela, member countries of ALBA, consider that the Draft Declaration of the 5th Summit of the Americas is insufficient and unacceptable for the following reasons:

– The Declaration does not provide answers to the Global Economic Crisis, even though this crisis constitutes the greatest challenge faced by humanity in the last decades and is the most serious threat of the current times to the welfare of our peoples.

– The Declaration unfairly excludes Cuba, without mentioning the consensus in the region condemning the blockade and isolation to which the people and the government of Cuba have incessantly been exposed in a criminal manner.

For this reason, we, the member countries of ALBA believe that there is no consensus for the adoption of this draft declaration because of the reasons above stated, and accordingly, we propose to hold a thorough debate on the following topics:

1. Capitalism is leading humanity and the planet to extinction. What we are experiencing is a global economic crisis of a systemic and structural nature, not another cyclic crisis. Those who think that with a taxpayer money injection and some regulatory measures this crisis will end are wrong. The financial system is in crisis because it trades bonds with six times the real value of the assets and services produced and rendered in the world, this is not a “system regulation failure”, but a integrating part of the capitalist system that speculates with all assets and values with a view to obtain the maximum profit possible. Until now, the economic crisis has generated over 100 million additional hungry persons and has slashed over 50 million jobs, and these figures show an upward trend.

2. Capitalism has caused the environmental crisis, by submitting the necessary conditions for life in the planet, to the predominance of market and profit. Each year we consume one third more of what the planet is able to regenerate. With this squandering binge of the capitalist system, we are going to need two planets Earth by the year 2030.

3. The global economic crisis, climate change, the food crisis and the energy crisis are the result of the decay of capitalism, which threatens to end life and the planet. To avert this outcome, it is necessary to develop and model an alternative to the capitalist system. A system based on:

– solidarity and complementarity, not competition;
– a system in harmony with our mother earth and not plundering of human resources;
– a system of cultural diversity and not cultural destruction and imposition of cultural values and lifestyles alien to the realities of our countries;
– a system of peace based on social justice and not on imperialist policies and wars;
– in summary, a system that recovers the human condition of our societies and peoples and does not reduce them to mere consumers or merchandise.

4. As a concrete expression of the new reality of the continent, we, Caribbean and Latin American countries, have commenced to build our own institutionalization, an institutionalization that is based on a common history dating back to our independence revolution and constitutes a concrete tool for deepening the social, economic and cultural transformation processes that will consolidate our full sovereignty. ALBA-TCP, Petrocaribe or UNASUR, mentioning merely the most recently created, are solidarity-based mechanisms of unity created in the midst of such transformations with the obvious intention of boosting the efforts of our peoples to attain their own freedom. To face the serious effects of the global economic crisis, we, the ALBA-TCP countries, have adopted innovative and transforming measures that seek real alternatives to the inadequate international economic order, not to boost their failed institutions. Thus, we have implemented a Regional Clearance Unitary System, the SUCRE, which includes a Common Unit of Account, a Clearance Chamber and a Single Reserve System. Similarly, we have encouraged the constitution of grand-national companies to satisfy the essential needs of our peoples and establish fair and complementary trade mechanisms that leave behind the absurd logic of unbridled competition.

5. We question the G20 for having tripled the resources of the International Monetary Fund when the real need is to establish a new world economic order that includes the full transformation of the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO, entities that have contributed to this global economic crisis with their neoliberal policies.

6. The solutions to the global economic crisis and the definition of a new international financial scheme should be adopted with the participation of the 192 countries that will meet in the United Nations Conference on the International Financial Crisis to be held on June 1-3 to propose the creation of a new international economic order.

7. As for climate change, developed countries are in an environmental debt to the world because they are responsible for 70% of historical carbon emissions into the atmosphere since 1750. Developed countries should pay off their debt to humankind and the planet; they should provide significant resources to a fund so that developing countries can embark upon a growth model which does not repeat the serious impacts of the capitalist industrialization.

8. Solutions to the energy, food and climate change crises should be comprehensive and interdependent. We cannot solve a problem by creating new ones in fundamental areas for life. For instance, the widespread use of agricultural fuels has an adverse effect on food prices and the use of essential resources, such as water, land and forests.

9. We condemn the discrimination against migrants in any of its forms. Migration is a human right, not a crime. Therefore, we request the United States government an urgent reform of its migration policies in order to stop deportations and massive raids and allow for reunion of families. We further demand the removal of the wall that separates and divides us, instead of uniting us. In this regard, we petition for the abrogation of the Law of Cuban Adjustment and removal of the discriminatory, selective Dry Feet, Wet Feet policy that has claimed human losses. Bankers who stole the money and resources from our countries are the true responsible, not migrant workers. Human rights should come first, particularly human rights of the underprivileged, downtrodden sectors in our society, that is, migrants without identity papers. Free movement of people and human rights for everybody, regardless of their migration status, are a must for integration. Brain drain is a way of plundering skilled human resources exercised by rich countries.

10. Basic education, health, water, energy and telecommunications services should be declared human rights and cannot be subject to private deal or marketed by the World Trade Organization. These services are and should be essentially public utilities of universal access.

11. We wish a world where all, big and small, countries have the same rights and where there is no empire. We advocate non-intervention. There is the need to strengthen, as the only legitimate means for discussion and assessment of bilateral and multilateral agendas in the hemisphere, the foundations for mutual respect between states and governments, based on the principle of non-interference of a state in the internal affairs of another state, and inviolability of sovereignty and self-determination of the peoples. We request the new Government of the United States, the arrival of which has given rise to some expectations in the hemisphere and the world, to finish the longstanding and dire tradition of interventionism and aggression that has characterized the actions of the US governments throughout history, and particularly intensified during the Administration of President George W. Bush. By the same token, we request the new Government of the United States to abandon interventionist practices, such as cover-up operations, parallel diplomacy, media wars aimed at disturbing states and governments, and funding of destabilizing groups. Building on a world where varied economic, political, social and cultural approaches are acknowledged and respected is of the essence.

12. With regard to the US blockade against Cuba and the exclusion of the latter from the Summit of the Americas, we, the member states of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Peoples of Our America, reassert the Declaration adopted by all Latin American and Caribbean countries last December 16, 2008, on the need to end the economic, trade and financial blockade imposed by the Government of the United States of America on Cuba, including the implementation of the so-called Helms-Burton Act. The declaration sets forth in its fundamental paragraphs the following:

“CONSIDERING the resolutions approved by the United Nations General Assembly on the need to finish the economic, trade and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba, and the statements on such blockade, which have been approved in numerous international meetings.

“WE AFFIRM that the application of unilateral, coercive measures affecting the wellbeing of peoples and hindering integration processes is unacceptable when defending free exchange and the transparent practice of international trade.

“WE STRONGLY REPEL the enforcement of laws and measures contrary to International Law, such as the Helms-Burton Act, and we urge the Government of the United States of America to finish such enforcement.

“WE REQUEST the Government of the United States of America to comply with the provisions set forth in 17 successive resolutions approved by the United Nations General Assembly and put an end to the economic, trade and financial blockade on Cuba.”

Additionally, we consider that the attempts at imposing the isolation of Cuba have failed, as nowadays Cuba forms an integral part of the Latin American and Caribbean region; it is a member of the Rio Group and other hemispheric organizations and mechanisms, which develops a policy of cooperation, in solidarity with the countries in the hemisphere; which promotes full integration of Latin American and Caribbean peoples. Therefore, there is no reason whatsoever to justify its exclusion from the mechanism of the Summit of the Americas.

13. Developed countries have spent at least USD 8 billion to rescue a collapsing financial structure. They are the same that fail to allocate the small sums of money to attain the Millennium Goals or 0.7% of the GDP for the Official Development Assistance. Never before the hypocrisy of the wording of rich countries had been so apparent. Cooperation should be established without conditions and fit in the agendas of recipient countries by making arrangements easier; providing access to the resources, and prioritizing social inclusion issues.

14. The legitimate struggle against drug trafficking and organized crime, and any other form of the so-called “new threats” must not be used as an excuse to undertake actions of interference and intervention against our countries.

15. We are firmly convinced that the change, where everybody repose hope, can come only from organization, mobilization and unity of our peoples.

As the Liberator wisely said:

Unity of our peoples is not a mere illusion of men, but an inexorable decree of destiny. — Simón Bolívar

Published in: http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/4390

Beyond GDP: The Need for New Measures of Progress | Free Download

Publications Library

Beyond GDP: The Need for New Measures of Progress

By Robert Costanza, Maureen Hart, Stephen Posner, and John Talberth

Abstract

This paper is a call for better indicators of human well-being in nations around the world. We critique the inappropriate use of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a measure of national well-being, something for which it was never designed.  We also question the idea that economic growth is always synonymous with improved well-being. Useful measures of progress and well-being must be measures of the degree to which society’s goals (i.e., to sustainably provide basic human needs for food, shelter, freedom, participation, etc.) are met, rather than measures of the mere volume of marketed economic activity, which is only one means to that end. Various alternatives and complements to GDP are discussed in terms of their motives, objectives, and limitations. Some of these are revised measures of economic activity while others measure changes in community capital—natural, social, human, and built—in an attempt to measure the extent to which development is using up the principle of community capital rather than living off its interest. We conclude that much useful work has been done; many of the alternative indicators have been used successfully in various levels of community planning. But the continued misuse of GDP as a measure of well-being necessitates an immediate, aggressive, and ongoing campaign to change the indicators that decision makers are using to guide policies and evaluate progress. We need indicators that promote truly sustainable development—development that improves the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of the supporting ecosystems. We end with a call for consensus on appropriate new measures of progress toward this new social goal.

January 2009 (46 pages)
Download PDF version.

http://www.bu.edu/pardee/publications/Pardee-Paper-004-Beyond%20GDP/

Canada’s greenhouse emissions soaring: UN report

1) Canada’s Report to the UN attached.  Canada has the worst record of any G-8 country and one of the worst of all countries who signed and ratified the Kyoto Protocol.  Spain actually is even worse but it signed through the EU agreement.

greenhouse-gas-emissions-2007

2) Unfortunately the global picture is also very bad.  Global emissions are rising at least as fast as the most pessimistic IPCC scenario of 2000.  Since 2000 the increase is more than twice the 1990s, on a per annual basis.


Canada’s greenhouse emissions soaring: UN report

By Margaret Munro, Canwest News Service

Canada’s greenhouse emissions are back on a ‘significant’ growth trajectory despite bold promises from federal and provincial leaders to get serious about cutting discharges.

Canada’s greenhouse emissions are back on a “significant” growth trajectory despite bold promises from federal and provincial leaders to get serious about cutting discharges.

The latest greenhouse-gas inventory from Environment Canada shows that after a slight dip in 2004-2006, Canada’s total emissions took off again, thanks largely to Alberta’s oilsands, an increase in the number of vehicles on the road, and greater reliance on coal-fired electricity.

“Long-term growth remains significant,” says an Environment Canada summary report, showing the country’s emissions are 33.8 per cent above Canada’s Kyoto commitment.

The figures are based on the 2009 national inventory report that Environment Canada quietly filed last week with the United Nations to meet its international reporting obligations. The full 673-page inventory is available on the UN’s website and shows Canada has the dubious distinction of having its emissions climb more since 1990 than any other G8 nation.

Canada ranks “first among the G8 nations” for increasing emissions, the report notes, even though Canada had committed to cut them. It notes that while Canada’s emissions have soared, Germany chopped its emissions by 18 per cent between 1990 and 2006, and the United Kingdom slashed its by 15 per cent.

“We’re laggards and obstructionists,” said climatologist Andrew Weaver at the University of Victoria who, like many scientists and environmentalists, has been urging the Canadian government to cut emissions for years.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he is committed to fighting climate change, and his government two years ago launched Turning the Corner: An Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gases by 20 per cent by 2020.

Weaver and other critics see little hope of the country living up to the commitment, given the Harper government’s enthusiasm for the oilsands.

“They’re turning the corner all right, but they are turning the wrong way,” said Weaver, pointing to the renewed upward trend in Canada’s emissions.

This 2009 Environment Canada inventory covers 1990 to 2007, the most recent year that details on human-induced greenhouse gas emissions are available.

It says total greenhouse gas emissions in Canada in 2007 were 747 megatonnes, an increase of four per cent from 2006 levels. That means Canada’s emissions in 2007 were about 26 per cent above the 1990 total of 592 megatonnes, and 33.8 per cent above Canada’s Kyoto target, which committed the country to be below 1990 levels by now.

Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere and are widely believed to help drive climate change. Massive amounts of carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas, is released through the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas.

There was a dip in Canada’s emissions between 2004 and 2006, which Environment Canada says was due primarily to changes in electricity production and petroleum extraction activities. The weather also played a role, with warm winters in 2004 to 2006 curbing Canadians’ need for heating fuels.

But the overall trend is up, Environment Canada notes. “Between 1990 and 2007, large increases in oil and gas production — much of it for export — as well as a large increase in the number of motor vehicles and greater reliance on coal electricity generation, have resulted in a significant rise in emissions.”

Alberta is responsible for the biggest jump in emissions since 1990, but Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Ontario also have seen emissions climb much more than other provinces, the report says.

While the country’s total emissions have soared since 1990, the report notes that Canadian homeowners have been doing their bit to cut emissions. “Residential emissions were essentially the same in 2007 as they were in 1990,” the report says, noting that improved energy standards and higher-efficiency furnaces and appliances have “served to reduce emissions.”

It is transportation and energy production that has driven emissions up, the report concludes. Between 1990 and 2007, emissions from energy industries such as the oilsands and transportation increased by about 143 million tonnes, or most of the overall increase of 155 million tonnes, the report says.

There has been a proliferation of light-duty trucks, the number of which increased 117 per cent since 1990, and a 94 per cent increase in the number of heavy-duty trucks on Canadian roads.

To avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change, scientists and policy-makers say global carbon emissions must be slashed between 50 and 80 per cent by 2050. If nothing is done, they say the climate will change and there will be more extreme and unpredictable weather, Arctic ice will continue to melt and global sea levels will rise.

“In Canada, the impact of climate change may be felt in extreme weather events, the reduction of fresh water resources, increased risk and severity of forest fires and pest infestations, a reduction in Arctic ice and an acceleration of glacial melting,” the Environment Canada report says.

http://www.canada.com/Business/Canada+greenhouse+emissions+soaring+report/1516154/story.html

Don’t leave climate change to oil companies

A Tim Hortons Renovates to a No-seating Drive-thru

Farewell to Hamilton’s ‘Doughnut U’

Ted Brellisford, the Hamilton Spectator

Hortons demolishes Main and Wentworth store for drive-thru

April 22, 2009

Paul Wilson
The Hamilton Spectator
(Apr 22, 2009)

‘I’m sorry,” she says, and turns her head to brush tears from her eyes.

“This is my place,” she says. “I know all the people. It’s the only time I get out.”

Catherine Daisley is talking about the Tim Hortons at Main and Wentworth.

Last Friday the heavy equipment moved in, and now the restaurant is gone.

It was No. 66 in a chain that has grown to 3,200 outlets. This one had seating for 60. The new Hortons will have seating for none.

It will be a drive-thru, which does loyal customer Daisley no good at all.

She is 65, has heart problems, lives in a large seniors’ building on Sanford and stopped at Hortons a couple of times every day.

She would arrive mid-morning, bundle buggy in tow, for a muffin, a coffee and connections. Then she proceeded to No Frills for groceries. There would be another visit in the afternoon.

The Christmas before last, she sewed fleece mittens and scarves for the staff. And on this day, she is out on the street watching her Hortons fall.

Regular Wally Bochenek, a former DARTS driver, is here, too. He’s owned a home in the area for 40 years. “What a heartbreaker,” he says. “Hamilton is the city that got Hortons started and look what happens.”

Harland Izatt watches the demolition, too. He is a retired art teacher and did portraits of many of the customers at this Hortons.

When the restaurant closed two weeks ago, he gave 10 staff members “Thanks for the Memories” cards, each with a $20 enclosure.

“Tim Hortons really wants to be a community-minded organization, with the kids’ hockey and the camps,” he says. “But this is another community in need, older people, handicapped people.”

Lincoln Alexander, Hamilton’s favourite citizen, rolled his scooter into this Hortons about once a month. “I sympathize with these people,” he says. “But it’s free enterprise and I’m all for that.”

“We agonized over this decision,” says Maureen Sauve. She and husband, Dave, former Ticat president, own seven Hortons. But this was their first. Maureen Sauve knows the date of purchase by heart — March 27, 1988.

The Main and Wentworth store has been an underperformer for some years. All those seats, no drive-thru, and in a struggling part of the core.

And there was not enough land to build a sit-down restaurant with drive-thru, Sauve says.

To avoid traffic getting backed up, the city requires there be room for cars to be “stacked” on drive-thru property.

In this instance, there will be space to stack 14 cars coming off Main, with “alternate stacking” for a few more.

The Sauves own another drive-thru two minutes down the street at Main and Prospect, Hamilton’s first free-standing Hortons drive-thru, a silver spaceship that dropped down one January day 15 years ago.

That was a prefab. The drive-thru at Main and Wentworth, to open at the end of June, will be of brick. “It’s a significant investment in an economically depressed part of town,” Sauve says. “Close to half a million.”

Knocking down the old Hortons had nothing to do with the clientele there, she says. Yes, some stayed a long time, to talk, to do the crosswords. But with so many seats that wasn’t a problem.

“There were lots of characters,” she says, “but characters with big hearts.”

The nearest stores to the one that’s just come down are at Main and Wellington and at Cannon and Sanford, each about a kilometre away. While the new store will help motorists streaming past from the west, it does little to serve those living in the area. The concept of a walkable neighbourhood takes another hit.

I don’t like drive-thrus. I get out of the car. But that’s dangerous these days, because between you and the store door is a snaking line of vehicles headed for the order window.

The store at Main and Wentworth was proudly opened in 1977 by chain owner Ron Joyce. It was dubbed Doughnut University, a training centre for new franchisees and their staff.

“We’ll be baking around the clock so trainees learn the importance of providing fresh products at all times,” Joyce said.

He predicted then that the chain would continue to grow, that the food on offer would move beyond doughnuts and that a cup of coffee would soon jump a nickel to 35 cents. But of drive-thrus, he said not a word.

StreetBeat appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday

pwilson@thespec.com

http://www.thespec.com/Entertainment/People/article/552479

Drive-thru debate divides council

Drive-thru debate divides council

By Elaine Mitropoulos, Comox Valley EchoApril 17, 2009

As the debate drags on, drive-thrus continue to divide the Comox council.

This week’s council meeting saw Coun. Ken Grant, who is staunchly in favour of the fast-food fixtures, question Coun. Patti Fletcher’s motives in wanting to rid Comox of future drive-thrus.

Fletcher owns a bike shop in town and Ken Grant pointed to the store’s participation in the B.C. SCRAP-IT program – an incentive that invites motorists to trade in old cars for new bikes – as a conflict of interest.

The council is considering banning future drive-thrus as a means to curb greenhouse emissions and dependency on gas-guzzling vehicles.

In response to his accusation, Fletcher excused herself from further discussions and voting on drive-thrus, but requested that town staff seek out a legal opinion on the matter.

Coun. Ray Crossley made a motion to defer voting on the rezoning application that would see drive-thrus banned from future developments until legal advice was heard.

The delay was accepted by all but Couns. Ken Grant and Tom Grant.

Coun. Tom Grant argued the council was trying to expedite the demise of drive-thrus without taking into account input from community stakeholders, like the accessibility committee or parents with children.

He said he couldn’t imagine a mother trying to pack a car-full of kids into a Tim Horton’s to buy a half a dozen Timbits.

“That’s just not convenient for them,” he said.

He called for staff to research how other Canadian municipalities have dealt with bans on drive-thrus and for a report to come back to the council.

“I think we can sit back and research things until the cows come home,” said Coun. Russ Arnottt.

“But I think what we need to do is what’s right for our community… In keeping in tune with cows coming home, we need to take the bulls by the horns and be proactive in this.”

Ken Grant went on to call for feedback on the potential ban from the town’s accessibility committee, a motion that was moved unanimously.

“I want to hear what they have to say on the issue,” he said. “We send everything else we do to them… I’m at a loss why we didn’t send this one.”

After the April 15 meeting, Mayor Paul Ives said he was surprised the heated issue was still up for debate.

“I would still like us to look at an anti-idling bylaw. That’s the real issue here,” he said.

“(Idling) is a personal thing that people have to take care of whether they’re in a drive-thru lane or stopping at a store.”

emitropoulos@comoxvalleyecho.com

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

http://www.canada.com/Drive+thru+debate+divides+council/1506616/story.html