FROM John Vidal
Gold Rush on the Seas: The New Blue Economy The ocean is our last frontier still largely unmapped and unclaimed, but that's rapidly changing. Russia, China, the US and other nations are vying for seabed and exploratory rights to resources like oil, minerals, potential lifesaving medicines, alternative energy made from algae, food derived by seaweed and many more riches. Entrepreneurs are investing in new ocean-based technologies like aquaculture, seabed mining and bio-fuels. This "Blue Economy" could generate jobs. But will the ocean be able to withstand the onslaught of its new industrial age?
Does the World Need Desalination? Water is humankind's most precious resource. Demand is rising and resources are running low. Conservation and reclamation are needed all over the world. Water shortages in the Middle East, Australia and the Western United States are creating an appetite for new water supplies. Greater efficiency and re-use of water that's now being wasted are obvious fixes. Beyond that, there's desalination of ocean water to create new supplies. That takes expensive technology. Will it discourage conservation? Is it worth the energy it demands and the impact on the environment? We look at the available options to cope with an inevitable, worldwide crisis.
Climate Change: The US versus the Rest of the World "Climate is gone." Those are the words of political strategist Karl Rove reassuring shale-gas developers there is no longer a need to worry about new laws against greenhouse pollution. That's because with Rove's help so many Republican climate-change deniers were elected to Congress last week. One observer sees the GOP " stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science ."
Climate Change: The US versus the Rest of the World For some years, climate scientists avoided public debate on global warming, partly on the ground that skeptics didn't deserve a hearing. Now, so many Republican non-believers have been elected to Congress that the US may become almost unique among nations in dismissing the problem. As fossil-fuel industries celebrate, scientists are now speaking out, with another world conference on climate change later this month in Cancun. Will the US be able to play any role? What about the Obama Administration's fight against greenhouse pollution at home?
Climate Change and the Prospect for Mass Migration Climate change is not just a possibility, it's happening now with potentially catastrophic consequences for millions of people. In the coastal village of Moura in Bangladesh, 30 families agreed at an impromptu meeting that their only hope of survival was to become climate refugees. That's according to John Vidal of Britain's Guardian newspaper, who looked at the impact of climate change from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal.
Northern Leaders Discuss Arctic Melt With Arctic ice melting faster than ever, former Vice President Al Gore was in Tromso, Norway this week as the US and seven other countries are meeting to hash out their differences over territory and natural resources. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg says the US wants what he calls “win-win approaches that benefit everybody” as the melting creates new problems and new opportunities. John Vidal is back in London after covering the Arctic Council for the Guardian .
Congestion Pricing: Is it Time to Charge LA Drivers for the Right to Be on the Road? New York's Mayor Bloomberg wanted to institute what's called "congestion pricing," but the state legislature turned him down cold. That made money available for Los Angeles to institute a pilot program on what used to be called "freeways." The federal government will give LA County $213 million for high-capacity buses and upgrading the Metrolink in the San Gabriel Valley. In return, the MTA will conduct pilot programs on the 10, the 210 and possible the 110 freeways.
The Global Politics of Water Two billion people already live with too little water, and water as a means of social control could be a fact of life in the next decade. Potential conflict over water is just as great in developed countries as it is in the world's poorest nations, and the US is by no means immune. Multinational corporations have joined environmentalists in calling for action before it's too late. There will be big money in recycling, desalination and other technologies. Can they overcome the demands of agriculture, and the industrial way of life? What about global warming?
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.