How the Climate Crisis Could Spark the Next Pandemic

As the U.S. COVID death toll approaches 1 million, we turn now to look at how the climate emergency could spark the next pandemic. A new study published in Nature shows the climate crisis and urban sprawl is forcing many wild mammals to relocate to new habitats where they interact with new species, including humans, leading to more viruses spilling over from one species to another. The researchers say this shuffling of viruses in mammals has already started and will increase as the Earth continues to warm.

what they did was to look at maps of where some 3,000 mammal species are now and where they’re likely going to be in warmer worlds under various conditions of projected warming. And then they will take different pairs of mammals and look at where those ranges overlap in ways that they currently don’t, and then predict how often those overlaps will lead to the kinds of spillovers that I’ve talked about. It’s a huge effort. No study like this has been attempted before, and it took them three years, over the course of the current pandemic, to do it.

But the results are very stark and quite grim. So, for example, it turned out that the hot spots for future spillovers are going to lay in the tropics, areas that are diverse in species and tend to be quite mountainous, so a lot of tropical Africa and Southeast Asia. They’re going to proportionately happen in areas that are basically in humanity’s backyard, areas

— source democracynow.org | Apr 29, 2022

Nullius in verba


Global Billionaire Wealth Surges $4 Trillion Over Pandemic

As over 2.8 million people have died globally from COVID in the past year, the wealth of the world’s billionaires has surged.

The planet’s 2,365 billionaires have seen their wealth increase $4 trillion, or 54 percent, during the pandemic year. Their combined wealth rose from $8.04 trillion to $12.39 trillion between March 18, 2020 and March 18, 2021.

Thirteen billionaires saw their wealth increase over 500 percent (see the “500 Percent Club” below). Many of them are connected to companies that benefited enormously from the conditions of the pandemic, including having their competition shut down or diminished.

There are 270 new billionaires on this year’s global list, while 91 billionaires fell off the list.

The analysis was conducted for the Patriotic Millionaires (and their affiliated UK Millionaires) and Millionaires for Humanity by the Institute for Policy Studies –Program on

— source Institute for Policy Studies | Chuck Collins, Omar Ocampo | Mar 31, 2021

Nullius in verba


Over 25 Years, World’s Wealthiest 5% Behind Over One-Third of Global Emissions Growth

As world leaders prepare for this November’s United Nations Climate Conference in Scotland, a new report from the Cambridge Sustainability Commission reveals that the world’s wealthiest 5% were responsible for well over a third of all global emissions growth between 1990 and 2015.

The report, entitled Changing Our Ways: Behavior Change and the Climate Crisis, found that nearly half the growth in absolute global emissions were cause by the world’s richest 10%, with the most affluent 5% alone contributing 37%.

“In the year when the U.K. hosts COP26, and while the government continues to reward some of Britain’s biggest polluters through tax credits, the commission report shows why this is precisely the wrong way to meet the U.K.’s climate targets,” the report’s introduction states.

The authors of the report urge United Kingdom policymakers to focus on this so-called “polluter elite” in an effort to persuade wealthy people to adopt more sustainable behavior, while providing “affordable, available low-carbon alternatives to poorer households.”

— source commondreams.org | Brett Wilkins | Apr 13, 2021

Nullius in verba


How Facebook let fake engagement distort global politics

Shortly before Sophie Zhang lost access to Facebook’s systems, she published one final message on the company’s internal forum, a farewell tradition at Facebook known as a “badge post”.

“Officially, I’m a low-level [data scientist] who’s being fired today for poor performance,” the post began. “In practice, in the 2.5 years I’ve spent at Facebook, I’ve … found multiple blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse our platform on vast scales to mislead their own citizenry, and caused international news on multiple occasions.”

Over the course of 7,800 scathing words, Zhang outlined Facebook’s failure to combat political manipulation campaigns akin to what Russia had done in the 2016 US election. “We simply didn’t care enough to stop them,” she wrote. “I know that I have blood on my hands by now.”

Zhang knew that this was not a tale that Facebook wanted her to tell, so when she hit publish, she also launched a password-protected website with a copy of the memo and provided the link and password to Facebook employees. Not only did Facebook temporarily delete the post internally, the company also contacted Zhang’s hosting service and domain registrar and forced her website offline.

Now, with the US election over and a new president inaugurated, Zhang is coming forward to tell the whole story on the record. (Excerpts of her memo were first published in

— source theguardian.com | Julia Carrie Wong | 20 Apr 2021

Nullius in verba


Facebook planned to remove fake accounts in India

Facebook allowed a network of fake accounts to artificially inflate the popularity of an MP from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), for months after being alerted to the problem.

The company was preparing to remove the fake accounts but paused when it found evidence that the politician was probably directly involved in the network, internal documents seen by the Guardian show.

The company’s decision not to take timely action against the network, which it had already determined violated its policies, is just the latest example of Facebook holding the powerful to lower standards than it does regular users.

“It’s not fair to have one justice system for the rich and important and one for everyone else, but that’s essentially the route that Facebook has carved out,” said Sophie Zhang, a former data scientist for Facebook who uncovered the inauthentic network. Zhang has come forward to expose the company’s failure to address how its platform is being used to manipulate political discourse around the world.

Facebook’s failure to act against the MP will also raise questions about Facebook’s relationship with the Hindu nationalist party. Facebook has repeatedly treated rule violations

— source theguardian.com | Julia Carrie Wong , Hannah Ellis-Petersen | 15 Apr 2021

Nullius in verba


Environmental Lawyer Steven Donziger is Free After 993 Days

Environmental lawyer Steven Donziger, who has just been released from nearly a thousand days of house arrest as part of a legal ordeal that began after he successfully sued Chevron on behalf of 30,000 Ecuadorian Amazonian Indigenous people for dumping 16 billion gallons of oil into their ancestral land. In 2011, Ecuador’s Supreme Court ordered Chevron to pay $18 billion in a landmark ruling seen as a major victory for corporate accountability. But Chevron refused to pay or clean up the land. Instead, it launched a legal attack on the ruling, targeting Steven Donziger.

Last year, the judge in the case found Donziger in criminal contempt of court after he refused to turn over his computer and cellphone, sentencing him to six months in prison for contempt of court — a misdemeanor. In an extremely unusual legal twist, the judge had appointed a private law firm with ties to Chevron to prosecute Donziger, after federal prosecutors declined to bring charges. After 45 days in prison, he returned to house arrest — until Monday, when he finished his sentence and was released, after about a thousand days under house arrest. Last night he had a block party in Manhattan celebrating his freedom.

— source democracynow.org | Apr 26, 2022

Nullius in verba