Planet Watch

Protect indigenous rights in biodiversity framework

Amnesty International cautioned against potential threats to indigenous peoples’ rights in the monitoring process for progress towards the Global Biodiversity Framework. The organization emphasized the imperative for states to engage in consultations with indigenous communities and secure their “free, prior, and informed consent” in conservation projects, in line with the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The statement warned against “fortress conservation” methods in which original inhabitants are forcibly evicted from protected areas. (Photo of WajĂŁpi indigenous people in Brazil via Mongabay)

Planet Watch

World peasant movements mobilize for UNDROP

The world organization for land-rooted peasant farmers, Vía Campesina, launched an international campaign for full approval of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants & Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), and for implementation of policies in line with its principles. Several events were held around the world marking the International Day of Peasant Struggle. El Salvador was one of the first countries to commit to ratifying UNDROP after it was adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in 2018. However, Vía Campesina affiliates in the Central American nation accused the government of pursuing policies contrary to its spirit, noting that in the years since then, there has been a reduction in cultivated areas of maize and beans, with a loss of at least 10,000 hectares of maize. (Image: Vía Campesina)

Planet Watch

How to break cycle of rising global hunger?

More countries facing crises; more people going hungry. Some 281 million people were locked in high levels of acute hunger last year, according to the latest Global Report on Food Crises—a benchmark analysis of food insecurity by a network that includes UN agencies, donors, and famine analysts. The figure is 24 million higher than the previous year—a rise driven in part by Sudan’s civil war and Israel’s destruction of Gaza. Global hunger numbers have spiked since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to rise. A mix of conflict, extreme weather, El Niño, inflation, and volatile food prices suggest there won’t be a reprieve by the time 2024’s numbers are tallied. (Photo: Maan News Agency)

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air pollution

Lower emissions from US power grid (at least)

The US Department of Energy released its preliminary estimate for the nation’s carbon emissions in the previous year. While falling far short of the kind of drop needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals, a dip in emissions was recorded—almost entirely due to changes in the electric power sector. US carbon emissions have been trending downward since 2007, when they peaked at about six gigatonnes. The COVID-19 pandemic produced a dramatic drop in emissions in 2020, bringing the yearly total to below five gigatonnes for the first time since before 1990, when DoE monitoring began. Carbon releases rose after the return to “normalcy“; 2023 marked the first post-pandemic decline. The drop is largely due to the phase-out of coal-burning power plants. However, electricity generation remains the second source of emissions, behind transportation. (Photo: Ralf Vetterle, Pixabay)

Planet Watch

Russia vetoes UN resolution to bar nuclear arms in space

Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution sponsored by the US and Japan which called on all nations to contribute to the peaceful use of outer space and to prevent a dangerous arms race in space-based weapons. The resolution reaffirmed the principles set out in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which compels states to “not place in orbit around the earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction.” The resolution was announced after the US accused Russia of developing an anti-satellite nuclear weapon to put in space. President Vladimir Putin and Moscow’s ministry of defense have denied the accusations. Russia’s UN ambassador called the resolution a “cynical ploy.” (Photo via University of Portsmouth)

Planet Watch

Podcast: further thoughts on the common toad

In Episode 221 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg continues the Spring ritual from his old WBAI program, the Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade (which he lost due to his political dissent), of reading the George Orwell essay “Some Thoughts on the Common Toad“—which brilliantly predicted ecological politics when it was published way back in April 1946. The Social Ecology of Murray Bookchin today informs a radical response to the global climate crisis, emphasizing self-organized action at the local and municipal levels as world leaders dither, proffer techno-fix solutions, or consciously obstruct progress. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: National Wildlife Federation)

Planet Watch

2023: ‘bonkers year’ for global climate

Records were once again broken last year for greenhouse gas levels, surface temperatures, ocean heat and acidification, sea level rise, and retreat of glaciers, according to a new global report issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The WMO State of the Global Climate 2023 report finds that on an average day in 2023, nearly one third of the ocean surface was gripped by a marine heatwave, harming vital ecosystems and food systems—far beyond the already inflated levels seen in recent years. Antarctic sea ice reached its lowest extent on record—at one million square kilometers below the previous record year of 2022, an area equivalent to the size of France and Germany combined. One leading oceanographer wryly stated: “The scientific term is bonkers year.” (Photo: CounterVortex)

Planet Watch
Daouda Diallo

Frontline fighters (and martyrs) for free speech

In Burma, the mutilated body of independent journalist Myat Thu Tan was found at the military base where he had been detained, after the camp was overrun by rebels of the pro-democratic resistance. In Kazakhstan, detained activist Aqylbek Muratbai is fighting extradition to Uzbekistan, where he had been speaking out against bloody repression faced by his Karakalpak ethnic minority. And in Burkina Faso, human rights defender Daouda Dialloremains missing months after he was “disappeared,” presumably at the hands of the ruling military junta. Yet neither the mainstream media nor “progressives” in the West pay heed to these cases—while the reactionary and Kremlin-coopted Julian Assange is a cause cĂ©lèbre. In Episode 214 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg asks: Why is that? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: CISC via OHCR)

Planet Watch

2023 hottest year on record —by ‘alarming’ margin

The year 2023 is officially the warmest on record—overtaking 2016, the previous warmest year, by an alarming margin. According to new data from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, Earth was 1.48 degrees Celsius hotter last year compared with pre-industrial levels—dangerously close to the 1.5-degree threshold set by the Paris climate deal. 2023 also marked the first year in which each day was over one degree warmer than the pre-industrial average. Temperatures over 2023 likely exceeded those of any year over the past 100,000 years. This was partially due to the year’s El Niño climate phenomenon, but those impacts only began in June—and every subsequent month last year was the warmest on record for that particular month. September represented the largest climatological departure since record-keeping began over 170 years ago. (Image: blende12/Pixabay)

Planet Watch

CounterVortex launches weekly vlog

The CounterVortex now has a weekly vlog, with our roundup of under-reported news and views from around the world, from an unapologetically radical dissident-left perspective—brought to you by your chief reporter, ranter and blogger Bill Weinberg. Subscribe to our new YouTube channel, and please share on socia media. If you wish to receive our weekly headlines and digest by email, you can subscribe to that via Substack.

Planet Watch

COP28: landmark deal, or messy compromise?

The COP28 climate summit concluded in the United Arab Emirates with a so-called “UAE Consensus” that resolves to “transition away from fossil fuels”—hailed as an historic first commitment to eliminate the principal cause of climate change. Many climate activists, however, assail the document as vague and non-binding. Another failure pointed to by skeptics is the lack of finance commitments to come out of COP28. The funds made available by rich countries to help developing countries adapt and transition continue to lag far behind what is needed. A New Collective Quantified Goal for Climate Finance is set to be discussed next year at COP29, to be held in Azerbaijan. (Photo: CounterVortex)

Planet Watch

Support CounterVortex with a year-end donation!

The global crisis was already at a horrific level due to Russia’s war and campaign of genocidein Ukraine when 2023 began. Since this October, even Ukraine has been pushed from the headlines by Israel’s unrelenting and massive bombardment of Gaza, now also approaching the level of genocide. And then there are the numerous conflicts around the word that get virtually no coverage. At the CounterVortex, we strive every day to bring an unorthodox dissident-left perspective to the conflicts that are in the headlines—demonstrating, for example, why progressives should support Ukraine and Palestine, in repudiation of the Great Power game that divides the world into rival camps—while also providing consistent coverage of under-reported conflicts outside the media spotlight. We can only continue this mission with your continued support. Please give what you can.