Category Archives: Mother Nature

“Facing the Next Fifty Years: Global Warming,” by Abiezer Coppe

Climate change is killing 150,000 people a year now. That is the estimate of the World Health Organization for the year 2000, and now it is ten years out of date. So let us double that:

The once in a thousand year 2010 Moscow Heatwave caused an estimated 15,000 deaths.

For the “we have nothing to do with it” global warming deniers, here is a little primer on the current state of the science.

The science is already in.

There are metacommentaries on Russia’s heatwave here and here.

Climate records are being broken all over the world this year.

This is the actuality. It does matter. We can, all of us as individuals, do something.

Stopping global warming is actually a dream from which some of us still have to awake: it is more realistic to prepare ourselves and our society for the shocks that will inevitably come by practicing bioresilience. Our extraordinary adaptability as a species will be tested to the utmost in the next one hundred years. We have never had a challenge like it in the history of mankind.

Slowing the rate of growth of human carbon emissions (the global economic recession did so last year, although I see no real evidence at the level of political leaderships to cut carbon emissions) is one goal for the political elites, with eventual cuts at some unspecified date in the future, but a reduction of carbon emissions by 90% is actually what we must aim at as a society, which involves almost inconceivable transformations in the way we live, work, eat, travel and generate energy. A worldwide citizens’ movement is our tool.

We shall still move to a hotter world, but one that we shall survive, with far more modest and local lifestyles. We/I will also make the spiritual shift in our/my consciousness, and create new ways for ourselves/myself and our/my children to connect with and appreciate the beauties of nature in our over-informatized and mediatized world. Spiritual shift has now become a categorical imperative. Be the change you want to see. May I be the change I want to see…in me and in my world.

We have the luxury, in the privileged West, of having a little bit of potential space in our lives to accomplish this. If you are starving, drowning (as in Bangladesh and Pakistan), living at the edge of subsistence (Mali, Niger and Southern Sudan) and walking 12 miles a day simply to fetch water, there is much less space.

And the very poor are not producing the carbon emissions. It is us, in the developed world. I am not asking for guilt or a hair shirt: I am asking for awareness. And action. From myself, and from you!

Too much information, especially about such an explosive topic, actually creates anxiety and depression: have you noticed? I did in 2006, when I studied global warming nonstop for months. Too much (usually poor quality) information is actually the curse of our world: paying it too much attention creates a state of no peace.

Therefore we/I need to learn new ways to care for ourselves/myself, as we/I reconnect with the warp and weft of our ineffably beautiful and breathtaking living planet.

In time, perhaps, too, biodiversity will start to return to a planet currently in the sixth great extinction crisis of its long geological history. We need not be a plague on the planet. It is not our purpose here.

Once we come from a place of deeper peace and connection in ourselves, we rule out fear and chase it from our bodily abode: we then inspire others to seek that as well. Our activism has a more transformational quality on all around us. I have much to learn, much to heal, and much to change in myself.

Most campaigners, and part of the scientific community (James Hansen in particular), think that emissions cuts should begin at the latest by 2015. With the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition in power until then, we certainly have our work cut out.

“Business as usual” = civilizational collapse, sooner or later. And unimaginable human suffering. The suffering of Pakistan at the moment, but multiplied a million fold…

If you do not care, do not have children. They may not forgive you. Consciousness is rising about the scale of the challenge we face.

If you wish to be up to date on the subject of global warming, read the scientists! I suggest here and the NOAA, plus the climate progress website mentioned above.

I read them, and I am not a scientist.

The human race currently emits 29 billion tons (29 gigatons – more here) of carbon a year. And we do not do it by breathing or farting alone!

We have multiplied our biological carbon emissions as a species many fold through the development of technology, which required the burning of fossil fuels, the ancient sunlight of antiquity. Thus we become our own Nemesis.

It is difficult to point to any aspect of our current material lives that is not dependent on fossil fuels in some way, from plastic bags to cheap food.

We are changing the climate, and without global carbon emission reductions there is a point of no return, where positive feedbacks kick in and carbon emissions from natural processes such as the melting of the subarctic tundra, the loss of arctic sea ice in summer, and the burning of the world’s forests, start to render annual human emissions almost insignificant, kicking global warming into high gear.

We have – perhaps – a little window of opportunity now. It is human to hope. Nobody knows how long we have. It seems, from my many years of reading on the subject of global warming, that the window will certainly close by 2030.

And that date is based on the most optimistic of all projections.

When the climate “tipping points” are passed (the scientific consensus – but no one really knows – is that this starts to happen at 1.5 to 2 degrees centigrade above preindustrial global temperatures: we are currently 0.8 degrees Centigrade above), we are in for a very rough ride indeed.

That article is from yesterday’s UK newspaper, The Independent.

Given the current levels of urgency regarding this issue on the part of the global elites, runaway global warming is currently more likely than not.

Anthropogenic global warming has the potential to be the new global genocide. A genocide of the poor by the richest countries, with the highest per capita output of carbon emissions. Ask a Pakistani farmer in Sindh province how he is doing at the moment, and what his prospects are for 2011.

With runaway climate change, civilization will collapse, and there will – at some point after 2050 – be a catastrophic collapse in the global human population in the “business as usual” scenario (I do not like James Lovelock’s politics at all, but in that sense he is hard to contradict). For more on this, see Anatoly Karlin’s review of Six Degrees, by Mark Lynas.

It is a very graphic and a very detailed description, degree by degree of global warming above pre-industrial levels, of how human-induced global warming is changing the world we live in. And the précis saves you reading the book.

By 2020, at the current 0.2 degrees Centigrade of global warming per decade, we shall have passed the threshold of 1 degree of global warming globally since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.

Here is Anatoly Karlin’s summary of one degree of global warming.

One Degree

Though the Great Plains are one of the world’s great agricultural breadbaskets, a desert slumbers underneath. Increased dessication and pummeling storms will erode away the thin topsoil, recreating the Dust Bowl on a giant scale and re-awakening the sand dunes. More irrigation will only postpone the inevitable. There will be large-scale migration to the wetter Mid-West and Great Lakes regions. AK: actually called the Great American Desert during the 19th century!, and is now dependent on depleting Oglalla Aquifer.

Higher rainfall, glacial melt and strengthening Siberian rivers may interrupt the Gulf Stream (part of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation system), drying western Europe and cooling it by as much as 2 C – recreating the conditions of the Little Ice Age during the worst winters. However, most models predict this will be a slow death. AK: If not, expect increased European dependency on Russian gas during the 2010′s and 2020′s.

In Africa, Kilimanjaro will lose its remaining ice by 2020 – causing wildfires, fish stock declines and problems with hydroelectricity production. Based on paleoclimate, in the long term, there will be a greening of the Sahara (into a savanna) and an enlarged Lake Chad…however, models say that there will only be a short interlude of heavier rains in the Sahel and on the West African coast, followed by even fiercer drought.

Coral reefs around the world will be increasingly bleached and taken over by seaweed; polar bears are pushed off the top of the world and creatures like pikas are shoved off the planet, accelerating the Anthropocene Mass Extinction event. Hurricanes will become stronger and more ubiquitous, spreading to the South Atlantic. More rockfalls in the Alps. Increased incidence of drought in the Amazon, pushing it to the brink. Atolls become doomed worlds, fated to submerge amidst the rising waves.

It will have taken around 250 years for a one degree rise in the mean global temperature to occur. However, climate dynamics are like a slumbering beast. There is a great deal of inertia locked into the system. First, there is very good evidence that the level of greenhouse gases being added to the atmosphere is itself rising. Secondly, the rate of global warming has been speeding up. Therefore we can, optimistically, expect the second degree of global warming after 2050, even with a concerted scaleback in emissions. That is within my children’s lifetime.

Now read Karlin’s summary of two degrees. Many of us will live to see this. At 0.3 degrees centigrade of increase in the global mean temperature per decade, two degrees arrives in 2053. A “climatic flip” is also possible: a sudden, dramatic acceleration, leading to climate collapse, from our perspective. The British Meteorological Office considers four degrees of global warming a possibility by 2060:

Now read Karlin on four degrees of global change. Are we not living through a planetary emergency?

Please read Anatoly Karlin’s review of Lynas if you read nothing else I reference. It is a glimpse into the uncertain future toward which we are headed, with no stars to steer by.

Global capitalism requires 3% compound growth to continue in existence, as David Harvey explains here in 3 parts. Capitalism must expand, or die. Both natural and institutional limits to the self-reproduction of Capital are a mortal threat to its very being. 3% compound growth, and our additional numbers, explain why the human species has moved from using 62% of planetary biocapacity in 1961 to 144% of planetary biocapacity in 2006. Is your country living within the mercy of its ecological means? Check the ecological footprint network atlas.

Not sustainable, and not a good outlook for the species. “No future, no future, no future for me,” as the Sex Pistols once sang.

I suspect, therefore, that the answer to human survival in this century and the next, and a civilizational level higher than that described in the visionary and beautiful written novel of our potential future in a much warmer world, Far North by Marcel Theroux, lies in a re-visioning and implementation of communism.

Read it and see what you think; then comment.

Despite the 20th century deviation of Communism from its original envisioning by Marx and Engels and the ecological disasters of the Eastern Bloc, Mao’s China and the Soviet Union, Marx’s vision of post-scarcity communism was profoundly ecological.

Cuba is the only country in the world today that lives within its ecological limits (page 14).

I find it very heartening that there remains one country in the world that has, largely by default, found a sustainable way to live, and that it is, with all its human rights and politico-economic flaws, a non-capitalist country.

Cuba is a glimmer of hope in a world ruled by the mantras of greed and growth. But not the only one by any means. People are waking up all over the world. Morales’ Bolivia, one of poorest countries in the world, and heavily dependent on extractive mining, has produced one of the most visionary ecological statements of the last year (to find it go to the Climate and Capitalism website).

Hope was the last thing left in the Greek myth of Pandora’s box, which we have, in the course of industrial civilization, unknowingly thrown open wide.

May we not let hope fly away altogether: this is my prayer for my children and yours, their children and your grandchildren.


Filed under Africa, Americas, Asia, Bangladesh, Capitalism, Cuba, Economics, Environmentalism, Eurasia, Europe, Global Warming, Hurricanes, Latin America, Left, Mali, Marxism, Mother Nature, North Africa, Pakistan, Politics, Regional, Russia, Science, South Asia, Weather

Worries About Starving Pets In New Orleans May be Exaggerated

Repost from the old site. This is a famous post. It got tons of hits on the old site, but it’s an old post.

As you can see from these pics here, the widespread worries about all the lost pets, especially dogs and cats, starving to death in NOLA after Hurricane Katrina are somewhat overdrawn. Clearly, some pets, such as the enterprising hungry stray dog above, are finding plenty of food on their own, although it’s not exactly Alpo.

Some folks asked me why the MSM (mainstream media) doesn’t show these pics and I said I did not know.

Clearly, the MSM have been carrying water for Bush for much of this disaster, though at the start, segments of the media demonstrated some rarely-seen backbone and stood up to Bush for once, as demonstrated in my previous post, New Orleans Is Gone.

Does the media not like to show disgusting pics like this, out of ethics (sic) or worry over being criticized for pandering (as if they don’t pander enough as it is)?

Not sure what the answer is. Feel free to weigh in.

Pics from Postman Patel, a fine British blog.

One more thing: alligators. Initial posts noted that rumors of alligators in NOLA after Katrina were unfounded. However, we now have verification, via Juan Cole’s blog, that alligators have in fact been lunching on folks in NOLA. Sorry folks, no pics yet. But I’m working on it.

What about other hungry critters? Anderson Cooper on CNN noted here that he observed rats eating corpses in NOLA. Sorry, no photos of that either.

I have received numerous complaints and comments about this post:

  1. The dog (there is only one dog in both pics) is not eating people, but is instead a cadaver dog – dogs that work with police to locate corpses.
  2. Those are not corpses, but “dummies“.
  3. The statement that these photos and “sensationalistic captions” are a reflection of the “poor journalistic standards” of National Geographic and put it on a par with National Inquirer.
  4. They can’t be stray dogs because strays always operate in packs.
  5. This post is amateur, yellow-journalistic tripe and that it’s credibility is further weakened by appearing on a “random blog”.
  6. The dog is only interested in hands and feet, and therefore must be a cadaver dog and cannot be a stray dog.
  7. I am not honest, and that the MSM is objectively more honest than I am. (Now that’s insulting!)

In order to try to resolve these questions, I somehow tracked down the freelance photographer who took the second photo (I still can’t figure out who took the first photo).

Allen Frederickson is a freelance photographer from Milwaukee who was in NOLA after the flood to cover it as a photojournalist. I communicated with Fredrickson via email and phone to try to resolve some of the questions posed above about his photo. Here is his abridged email correspondence:

Robert, you present some interesting questions. I work for Reuters as a contact photographer, and have since August 1990. Faking or manipulating photos is not a smart practice, and something I do not engage in. Corbis [where one of the photos was found on the web] does some of the secondary sales for Reuters .

The photo in question was taken in New Orleans on at 3:39 PM (according to digital info on my camera) on September 5, not September 6, as National Geographic states on their website.

The photo was taken as I flew as an embedded photographer in a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter piloted by National Guard aviators. The Guard was engaged in repair of a levee wall very close to the south side of Lake Pontchartrain.

The dog in the photo appeared to be a stray, and the corpse was about 50 yards from the spot where 16,000 pound bags of sand (actually crushed limestone) were being dropped. On two separate runs, about 15 minutes apart, the dog appeared to be eating this poor man’s leg.

I cannot imagine the dog was simply licking his master but that’s an outside possibility. The pilot of the Chinook told me he’d seen two dogs, a black one and this brown [or yellow] one, near the cadaver for the past three days, (September 3-5), as he helped drop bags. There were no live persons on the ground in the area, and no indications that either of the two dogs near this man would be cadaver dogs.

In his phone conversation with me, Allen basically reiterated these points. He said that cadaver dogs operate with police close by, and there were no police, or any live humans period, anywhere near this site for days on end. Furthermore, the dogs in question had been running wild and hanging around the corpses for three days prior, once again under no human supervision.

I think we can put this matter to rest and assume that this yellow dog was actually eating a human corpse in NOLA at 3:39 PM on September 5, 2005 on the south side of Lake Pontchartrain. Further, we can suspect that the same dog may have eaten another corpse around the same time frame (note the first pic from an unknown source).

We can also assume that the yellow dog and a black dog had possibly been eating at least the body in the second pic above for the prior three days.

Let us deal with the questions above. The dog in the pics is a stray dog, not a cadaver dog. The bodies were real bodies, not dummies. The fact that the what may be the same dog is eating two bodies is not relevant and does not prove he is a cadaver dog.

Apparently, dogs who eat people eat extremities, not just central areas, and cadaver dogs are not the only dogs who investigate extremities of corpses. Apparently, stray dogs do not always operate in packs, maybe especially after major disasters like this one.

Based on Fredrickson’s statements, National Geographic is not exercising poor, National Enquirer-style judgment in its photos or captions, nor am I dishonest.

The notion that blogs are an inherently dishonest medium is a common prejudice against us poor unpaid bloggers, and it seems to be without substance. Some bloggers are principled and fact-check (ahem) well while others are pretty atrocious and don’t check sources.

In contrast, the MSM has been demonstrably dishonest for a long time, as Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent and other works make clear.

The second photo above (Fredrickson’s photo) has appeared in a number of other places on the Net. The original National Geographic site where the photo appeared is here. It also appeared on the Corbis site, where some posters nabbed it.

The first photo mysteriously appeared only on this strange site here. The site is accessible only through it’s uploads folder; the main page is blank. In the past, this odd page has been used to upload controversial photos to the web. Fredrickson says he did not take that shot, and he knows nothing about it. The page with the photo may be affiliated with the Indymedia Pittsburgh site here, based on its partial web address.

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Filed under Americas, Animals, Dead Bodies, Dogs, Domestic, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricanes, Journalism, Louisiana, Morbid, Mother Nature, North America, Politics, Regional, Reposts From The Old Site, Republicans, Sick, Sick and Evil, South, US Politics, USA, Weather

The Significance of the Refoundation of the Maoist Movement in Pakistan

This is an interesting document outlining the prospects for revolution in Pakistan.

If not for Islam, Pakistan would probably already be in a revolutionary situation right now.

Bangladesh, where objective conditions are just as bad as in India, if not worse, has seen little progress in an actual armed struggle by Maoist forces, mostly due to the presence of Islam. Islamic Bangladesh has recently seen a large movement towards Islamism, though the nation’s elites are still secular. The Islamic parties are very large and popular.

Your average poor, starving peasant, who ought to be on board with revolution, is instead wasting his time jerking off with Islamist reactinaries. The Islamist militias have attacked the Maoists many times, killing many cadres. The state is probably using them for this purpose. This is reminiscent of the situtation in Indonesia in 1965, when Islamist militias were used to kill 1 million Communists in less than a year, a massacre that the CIA was involved in from start to finish.

Every time revolution rears its head in the Islamic World, the Islamists immediately condemn them as “atheists” and slaughter them. I assume that your average religious Muslim supports this massacre of the apostates.

Since Islam is so embedded in the population, I am dubious at the prospects for revolution in Pakistan. The Islamists will quickly condemn the Maoists as “atheists” and will be free to slaughter them. Further, the state will use the Islamist militias, as it already does. For instance, the Pakistani state used the Islamist militias to kill Benazir Bhutto recently. Further, getting pegged as atheists will make it hard for the Maoists to get support.

The revolutionary situation in Hindu countries is much better for some reason. Maoism went over great in Nepal, and the Maoists are doing well in India. In Nepal, the Maoists simply asked, “What’s Hinduism done for you lately?” The answer in general was nothing. Hinduism was used via the caste system by local elites to repress the peasants in a feudal to semi-feudal manner. In India, most of the Hindu Maoists have not really given up Hinduism. I suspect that Hinduism is not as deeply embedded in your average peasant’s psyche as Islam is.

Nevertheless, I understand that the PMKP is already quite popular among peasants oppressed by semi-feudalism. They hold large rallies in favor of land rights and lots of peasants show up. I assume that they don’t directly attack Islam – that would be idiotic in Pakistan. I have a Pakistani friend who comes from a feudal landlord family, and even she supported the PMKP, saying they were good for the peasants.

At any rate, I don’t think a revolutionary situation exists in Pakistan right now, and it will be a while before one starts up. And that’s almost all due to Islam.

The Significance of the Refoundation of the Maoist Movement in Pakistan

August 12, 2010

A Statement to the Seventh National Congress of the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party

From the General Secretary of Revolutionary Initiative

With our fists raised as high as our hopes for the future of the
Pakistani revolution, Revolutionary Initiative, a
Marxist-Leninist-Maoist pre-party formation in Canada, offers a red salute to the comrades convening the August 2010 7th National Congress of the Pakistan Mazdoor Kissan Party (Pakistan Workers and Peasants Party).

We understand that the 7th Congress will mark a return of the PMKP to the Maoist origins of the party, as established by its founders Major Ishaq Mohammed, Afzal Bungish, Eric Sperian, and Ghulam Nabi Kaloo in the 1960s.

The new program of the PMKP will effect a decisive break with the pseudo-alternatives currently being presented to the people of Pakistan: the perpetuation of a backward semi-colonial, semi-feudal society maintained by the pro-imperialist military and civil bureaucracy, comprador bourgeoisie, and feudal ruling elite; versus the equally backward social program offered up by the Taliban of
Pakistan. By breaking with the revisionist Left, which looks to U.S. imperialism for enlightenment through its brutal “War on Terror”, the PMKP is setting a course to truly rally the peasants, proletarians, and the progressive petty-bourgeois elements to the anti-imperialist cause.

Further, by exposing the program of the Taliban as fascism in a different form, the PMKP has truly placed itself at the vanguard of all the toiling masses in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s lackeys to the imperialists and the Taliban only appear to be irreconcilably opposing forces, but in practice they are two sides of the same coin. The world will never forget that it was U.S. imperialism, during the course of the Cold War, which helped create the Taliban with the unwavering support of the Pakistani state.

Due to the Pakistani ruling classes’ subservience to U.S. imperialism, the vast majority paid a steep price for the maintenance of the country’s incredible state of economic backwardness. Today, this relationship
has brought only new sufferings, with U.S. imperialism raining down drone attacks upon the heads of Pakistani civilians.

With a population of 170 million people, 48% of Pakistan’s labour force is involved in agricultural production. About 55% of the country’s population possesses no land at all. The vast majority of people in the countryside are exploited by landlords, usurers, merchants, and the religious institutions.

As the PMKP’s new draft program reads, it is the semi-colonial aspect of Pakistan’s countryside that remains the “main obstacle to the release of productive forces and the progress of our country”. This is what makes the heavily exploited and oppressed peasantry the “main force in the peoples democratic revolution carried out under the leadership of the proletariat.”

It is these conditions that make Pakistan ripe for People’s War. If the Maoists do not lead the struggle of the people, the Islamic forces will continue to prevail in their reactionary mobilization of the masses in their pseudo-opposition to U.S. imperialism.

The floods that are currently ravaging Pakistan, bringing great misery and dislocation to as much as 10% of the population and claiming thousands of lives, could be easily mitigated by a socialist society which places all the productive forces of society in the hands of the workers and peasants.

It is our hope that the floods do not derail the plans for the 7th Congress, but if they do, we know it will be because of the urgent need for the revolutionary vanguard to serve and guide the people in a time of great hardship. It is inevitable that the imperialists and the reactionaries in Pakistan will use the catastrophes to strengthen their legitimacy and order, just as the imperialists and reactionaries have done in Haiti with the great earthquake there in January 2010.

In addition to the great consequences that the rise of the Pakistani Maoist movement will have at the domestic level, the Pakistani revolution would also affect historic transformations at the regional and world levels.

Regionally, the revolution in Pakistan would carry the revolutionary tide sweeping South Asia deeper into the Muslim world, breaking the monopoly of the clerical fascists in the struggle against imperialism, which they do not fundamentally oppose and do so in appearance only for their own opportunistic and self-aggrandizing purposes.

At the world level, the rise of a revolutionary communist tide in Pakistan would deal a blow to the ideological basis of the imperialist ‘War on Terror’. In the Western imperialist countries, Muslims are being scapegoated to divert the rest of the masses from the true geopolitical and economic interests of the NATO bloc of imperialists: to plunder the world, exploit the toiling masses, and gain the upper hand in the inter-imperialist competition with the other imperialists and regional geopolitical rivals, especially Russia and China.

The masses in the West are blackmailed into supporting the imperialist war of aggression in Afghanistan through the specter of Taliban rule. But we know that the war against the Taliban, a war on domestic reactionaries and exploiting classes, can only be the class war of the toiling masses, not the imperialists. The world was reminded of this on May 1st, 2010 when the PMKP rallied and marched in North-West Frontier Province for the support of the revolution in Nepal.

We look forward, comrades, to the great feats that the people of Pakistan will achieve under the leadership of genuine communists guided by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, and we will show the masses in our country that the people of Pakistan are our friends and comrades, and that they strive for genuine democracy, for socialism and for communism, just like ourselves.

If the PMKP, alongside our comrades of the Shola Jawid (Communist Party Maoist of Afghanistan) and Sarbederan (Communist Party of Iran-Maoist), successfully organize and arouse the masses for national democratic revolution by way of anti-imperialist People’s Wars in Central and South Asia, genuine communists all around the world will rally to your cause, learn important lessons from your struggle, and promote them amongst the proletarians of their home countries.

If the PMKP holds fast to Marxism-Leninism-Maoism after the convention of the 7th National Congress, deeply uprooting the revisionism of the past decades, and boldly applies MLM to the conditions of Pakistan, then a glorious future lays ahead for the people of Pakistan and South and Central Asia. The era of imperialism is the era of world proletarian revolution. In this phase imperialism’s strategic decline, the phase of the second great crisis of capitalist imperialism that has plagued the world since the early 1970s, the conditions for proletarian revolution are inexorably improving.

Finally, this message of solidarity would not be complete without our own organization clearly identifying Canadian imperialism as a leading enemy of the people of the world, including the people of your country. A leading player in the occupation of Afghanistan and NATO is Canadian imperialism, the basis of which is Canadian monopoly-finance capital. As the imperialist war in Afghanistan more and more spills over into your country, your connection to the Canadian proletariat’s revolutionary struggle deepens more and more.

The proletarian youth who are being sent to Afghanistan only to return to Canada in body bags are also the victims of imperialist war, but they must be driven from Afghanistan just the same. The ruinous war in Afghanistan sets the basis for revolutionary agitation amongst the soldiers, no less than the Korean War and the Vietnam War radicalized whole generations of youth and soldiers in the West.

Together, let us hasten the movement towards socialism and communism on a world scale before the imperialists drag us further into a hellish world of war, avertable disasters, ecological catastrophe, and the day-to-day grinding exploitation and oppression of capitalism.

Red salute to the PMKP for taking up the banner of Marxism-Leninism- Maoism!

Onwards with the People’s War in Pakistan!

From Canada to Pakistan, long live the international proletarian revolution.


Filed under Afghanistan, Americas, Asia, Asian, Canada, Capitalism, China, Cold War, Economics, Eurasia, Fascism, Geopolitics, Hinduism, History, Imperialism, India, Indonesia, Islam, Left, Maoism, Marxism, Modern, Mother Nature, Nepal, North America, Pakistan, Political Science, Politics, Radical Islam, Regional, Religion, Revolution, Russia, SE Asia, SE Asian, Socialism, South Asia, Terrorism, US Politics, US War in Afghanistan, Vietnam War, War, Weather

Awesome Pics of October 2007 California Fires

Repost from the old site.

The fires in California last October 2007 were historic. 1,500 homes, 500,000 acres were burned, 9 people died, and 85 more were injured, including 85 firefighters. Here are some of the more spectacular pictures of the fires.

An incredible photo of Mount San Miguel burning during the Harris Fire on October 23, 2007. I was following all of these fires closely and I remember as this wall of flame charged down Mt. San Miguel towards the homes below. This horrible fire burned 206 homes and 252 outbuildings and damaged 253 structures. It killed 5 people and injured 55 more, 34 firefighters and 21 civilians. What an incredible fire. Those flames must be 100-200 feet high.

This photo still creeps me out. It reminds me of some popular horror movie like Friday the 13th. I keep expecting Freddy to pop out and start roaming the streets. This photo was taken in Irvine, California, and the fire is the Santiago Fire. The wall of smoke is so vast it seems to have blotted out the sun altogether. Awesome photo. I’m not sure when this was taken.

Another strange and very creepy photo. A number of fires were burning in and around Santa Clarita northeast of Los Angeles at the time that this photo was taken on October 21, 2007. The fires with the halos around them almost look like UFO’s. The homes in front lit up by street lights adds to the creepy effect.

A strange photo of the Santiago Fire taken on October 23, 2007. The Hellish-appearing flames of the fire seem to loom in the background, while another strange line that looks like headlights on a distant freeway burn closer to town. The photo was taken from Aliso Viejo, with Lake Forest in the foreground.

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Filed under Americas, Art, California, Fires, Mother Nature, North America, Photography, Regional, Reposts From The Old Site, USA, West

“On The Ground in Haiti,” by Alpha Unit

New Alpha Unit on the Haiti catastrophe. I like Doctors Without Borders. A great organization.

Fractures. Burns. Open wounds. Amputations. These are some of the injuries and surgical necessities being dealt with in Haiti by Doctors Without Borders. They are reporting that they are now treating gunshot wounds. Understandably, violence has been on the increase in the aftermath of the earthquake that struck on January 12.

Not only has Doctors Without Borders set up hospitals in Port-au-Prince, they have paid special attention to western Haiti, location of the quake’s epicenter, where the devastation has resulted in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps. People are sleeping in the streets. So far there is very little help for them.

It’s all over the news that Doctors Without Borders, which already had a presence in Haiti, has had difficulty landing some of their cargo planes carrying surgical equipment and surgical teams. Apparently there is great confusion in giving planes the necessary clearance. According to Benoit Leduc, operations manager for Haiti, there isn’t a “smooth liaison” in decision making between the United States military and the United Nations.

Doctors Without Borders has been in the middle of humanitarian crises like this one since its founding in 1971. A group of French doctors created it after the Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970. The southeastern region of Nigeria had broken off to form the independent nation of Biafra.

France had been the only major country to support Biafra (France wasn’t exactly neutral in all this; it had its own interests in the conflict.) Some French doctors had volunteered with the Red Cross to work in hospitals in the region. But the volunteers found themselves under attack by the Nigerian army, and also saw abuses against civilians.

A principle dear to the Red Cross was neutrality. It did not allow itself to take sides in any hostilities or inject itself into religious, political, or ideological disputes. These doctors wanted to focus solely on the needs of victims, without being beholden to appearances of “not taking sides.”

The group, in fact, does not take sides. But as they learned long ago, unfortunately, humanitarian groups have been attacked if ruling powers perceived them to be doing so.

Of course, Haiti is a different story. The enemy here seems to be the chaos following the devastation of last week’s earthquake. Life-saving endeavors proceed in spite of it.


Filed under Alpha Unit, Caribbean, Death, Earthquakes, Guest Posts, Haiti, Health, Illness, Latin America, Medicine, Mother Nature, Public Health, Regional

Mountain Yellow-Legged Frogs in the Sierra Nevada

Repost from the old site.

I don’t write much about amphibians on here, but I am amphibian nut, in addition to being a mammal, reptile and bird nut. I would be a plant and insect nut too if I could only figure out how to identify them. I’m interested in fish, but they are a little harder to observe in the wild unless they are at the end of your hook.

Anyway, I have long taken an interest in amphibians here in California and to a much lesser extent, throughout the entire West. I am particularly interested in threatened and endangered amphibians here in the state.

The mountain yellow-legged frog has declined disastrously here in the state, starting with heavy fish stocking in the Sierras by pack mules, and then declining wildly with arial stocking of high country lakes via airplane that began after World War 2. This arial stocking has since proven to be one of the stupidest things that the California Department of Fish and Game has ever done.

Every year, countless fingerlings were dropped into lakes all up and down the Sierras, even though after a while almost all of these lakes had completely self-sustaining populations and many lakes saw few if any fishermen in a given year. Furthermore, the populations grew so high that the fish became stunted and malnourished.

In addition, they caused serious problems to the entire ecosystem of the Sierra. This is because in general, fish were absent from much of the high country in the Sierra. The exception was in the Southern Sierra, where the golden trout was native. In the North, Paiute Cutthroats and Lahontan Cutthroats were native to some streams.

Rainbow trout were present, but mostly at the lower elevations. Apparently the streams were so steep that trout were not able to climb up the rivers and creeks to even get into the high country. When men first came in numbers to the High Sierras in the late 1800’s, they found most waterways devoid of fish.

However, there were vast populations of amphibians, in particular mountain yellow-legged frogs. They were so numerous at many high country lakes that you could almost hardly walk around without almost stepping on them.

Before World War 2, limited fish stocking began in the Sierras. Stocking was done in the high country via mule trains and was not particularly effective. However, the stocking was already starting to cause declines in the mountain yellow-legged frog population.

After WW2, arial stocking began and soon turned into a comedy routine and a massive waste of taxpayer money. The CDFG was addicted to fish stocking in the Sierras and refused to stop it or even study it even when environmental groups demanded that they do so.

CDFG claimed that the fish stocking program was somehow exempt from CEQA, California’s landmark environmental law and probably the one law that California’s business class hates more than anything else. Business interests have been trying to get rid of CEQA for decades now, but it’s not going anywhere.

The reason environmental groups wanted the stocking stopped was because studies began to show that fish were having a devastating effect on the mountain yellow-legged frog (MYLF) populations. This is because the MYLF did not evolve in the presence of fish and hence had adopted no defenses against them. Wherever fish were present, MYLF was either not present or there in only reduced numbers.

The fact that CDFG dragged their heels on protecting the MYLF for ages shows that CDFG hardly has an environmentalist agenda at all. They almost never propose any species for threatened or endangered (T & E) status anymore, and usually reject almost all petitions by environmental groups to list anything. They hardly protect anything once it does get listed anyway, so one wonders what good the listing even does.

The CDFG screams that budget cuts means they can’t do anything at all, and another problem is that much of their budget is funded out of fishing and hunting licenses. I have met quite a few individual biologists who work for the agency and by and large they are good folks. I think that there are political appointees at the top that thwart just about anything reasonable getting done though.

It’s not well understood that California is not really a very liberal state in many ways. The voters are still mostly White and older and they are much more conservative than the population as a whole.

Despite blatherings by White Nationalists that Euro Whites are the only race that bother to protect any nonhuman life that lacks utilitarian use for man, since 1980 and US Whites voting rightwing, there has been no greater enemy of the environment and nonhuman life in the US than Whites.

These Whites have solidly supported a pro-business and pro-corporate agenda that has declared war on the environment and every living thing in it. If we let capitalists have their way, they will exterminate all nonutilitarian nonhuman life on this planet, all because those living things get in the way of making a buck.

Hence we have a state run by Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger that is almost totally beholden to corporate and business interests. This has been the case for every California governor since Jerry Brown.

Anyway, various hypotheses have been proposed for the decline of the MYLF. The non-native fish hypothesis has born out well. Pesticides from the Central Valley drifting up the mountains have also been suspected in the decline, along with the ozone hole.

There is some evidence that pesticides are related to MYLF declines, but testing the ozone hole hypothesis has shown that a thinning ozone layer is not frying frog eggs, even at high elevations. However, the thinning ozone layer has been having a bad effect on other frog and toad species. It seems that different species are variably effected by the thinning ozone layer.

Another hypothesis has been that a fungus called chytrid has been killing MYLF’s. This seems to be the case, and the killings are accelerating. Chytrid has been devastating frog and toad populations in various distant parts of the world, especially North, Central and South America and Australia.

An article was recently published in the journal Nature claiming that global warming was causing chytrid to spread. However, a subsequent article was published in another journal that seemed to indicate that global warming had not been proven to be behind chytrid’s spread. A cautious analysis seems to indicate that neither side has proven its case yet.

This particular type of chytrid seems to have escaped from a lab in Australia and has since been devastating frog and toad populations. First it pounded populations in Australia, then it moved to the Americas. Frogs and toads may not have evolved with this fungus, so it’s been hammering them hard. If any frogs and toads can survive the fungus, they may be able to pass on an immunity to it and enable the species to survive.

There have been widespread chytrid outbreaks in the Sierras in recent years. Just when some recent efforts to eliminate fish from some national park waters in the Sierra seemed to be bearing fruit, the fungus has been nailing the MYLF but hard. There have been 25-30% reductions of all types of frog populations in the Sierra over the past five years due to the fungus.

One theory is that the fungus has always been there but that recent environmental changes such as industrial and agricultural contaminants in the air, the frogs’ immune systems have been compromised, making them susceptible to the fungus.

However, some populations get hit very hard by the fungus for a while and then bounce back. The theory is that they have some sort of genetic resistance to the fungus. If this is true, then maybe the MYLF can survive in the Sierra after all.

As usual, the Bush Administration, the most anti-environmental President in recent history, refused to list the MYLF although it has been petitioned repeatedly. The most recent designation is “warranted but precluded “.

This is a sickening game that the Fish and Wildlife Service has been playing for some time now, dating back the “liberal” Clinton Era. The game says that the species qualifies for listing, but there are no funds to list it. It’s just a despicable bureaucratic game. How much does it cost to publish a listing notice in the Federal Register? Very little.

At the same time that the Administration pricks whine that there is no money to list any new species, they cynically and dishonestly cut the budget for listing new species! “Liberal” Bill Clinton started this bullshit, but Bush took it to overdrive. Sometimes, there is no lower life form than a politician.

Anyway, there are all sorts of species sitting on this idiotic warranted but precluded crap list for ages now. As the MYLF has declined by 93.3% in the last 100 years, that’s an endangered listing right there, and I’m not even a biologist. I know the listing criteria.

The Southern California population, which may be a separate species, is virtually extinct. It has declined by 99%. The Bush Administration did list this frog, but it’s almost gone anyway, as there are only 79 frogs left.

Probably no man has done more to save the MYLF than Roland Knapp, a Research Biologist at the University of California Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory.

These guys associated with universities are usually pretty honest and non-corrupted, while the fisheries and wildlife biologists and botanists I met working for the local National Forest were some of the most awful, corrupted and dishonest people I have ever met. If you don’t care about species and whether they go extinct or not, don’t take a job with the feds dedicated to protecting them.

The local national forest, the Sierra National Forest, is doing absolutely nothing to my knowledge to protect MYLF and MYLF is almost gone from Sierra National Forests anyway. Truth is that even USFS wildlife and fisheries biologists are ecstatic if a rare species of extirpated or nearly extirpated from their forest. Now we don’t have to save it! Less paperwork! I’m not kidding.

It was Knapp’s research a while back that conclusively proved that it was nonnative fish that were driving the MYLF extinct.

Knapp’s MYLF blog. Knapp’s MYLF page.

Fishermen are understandably upset about fish removal projects in the Sierras. To date, these projects have been very limited. It is probable that the main reason that the Feds are not listing the frog is that a listing would mandate fish removal from many or most Sierra waters. Those fish were not even there to begin with, and the MYLF is only present at high elevations anyway. There are plenty of low elevations to fish in.

I’ve done fishing in the High Sierras myself, but if you are so shallow that you can’t hike into the High Sierras and just dig it for what it is without wetting a line, I don’t even think you should even be back there.

Even better, fish removal would probably reduce the number of humans in the backcountry. It’s mostly wilderness anyway, so why do we need tons of people back there? They can remove the fish from most of those waters for all I care. If there are no fish in the lakes, just bring a book or lie on your back or explore around all day.

Recent research indicates that there are three separate genetic units of the MYLF in the Sierras, a Northern, Central and Southern genetic unit. At present, these have been split off into a new species, the Sierra Yellow-Legged Frog , or Rana Sierrae.

The Southern California population and some southern Sierra populations have been split into a whole new species, the Southern Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog. Distribution maps for Rana Sierrae and Rana Muscosa. Rationale for the split. The two species are estimated to have split 2.4 million (!) years ago. Hence, the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog, the subject of this post, no longer exists in its former form.

This split was done on the basis of an article last year (Vredenburg et al 2007). Whether the three separate genetic clades of the Sierra Yellow-Legged Frog warrant splits into subspecies has not yet been determined. In order to split into subspecies, usually a certain X genetic distance must be shown.

In February of this year, the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned again to list Rana Sierrae as endangered. Surely it qualifies.

Lots of cool frog, tadpole and terrain photos at the links.


Lips, Karen R., Diffendorfer, Jay, Mendelson III, Joseph R., Sears, Michael W. 2008. Riding the Wave: Reconciling the Roles of Disease and Climate Change in Amphibian Declines. PLoS Biology Vol. 6, No. 3.Pounds JA, Bustamante MR, Coloma LA, Consuegra JA, Fogden MPL, et al. 2006. Widespread Amphibian Extinctions From Epidemic Disease Driven by Global Warming. Nature 39: 161–167.

Vredenburg, V. T., R. Bingham, R. Knapp, J. A. T. Morgan, C. Moritz, and D. Wake. 2007. Concordant Molecular And Phenotypic Data Delineate New Taxonomy And Conservation Priorities For The Endangered Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog. Journal of Zoology 271:361-374.

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Filed under Americas, Biology, California, Conservatism, Democrats, Endangered Species, Environmentalism, Evolution, Genetics, Global Warming, Mother Nature, North America, Political Science, Pollution, Regional, Reposts From The Old Site, Republicans, Science, US Politics, USA, Weather, West

Tsunami Kills 134 People in Samoa

An incredibly huge 7.9-8.3 magnitude earthquake hit the South Pacific early on Tuesday.

The tsunami caused some waves that were 5 feet above height, and there were deaths from the tsunami in both American Samoa and Western Samoa, over 100 deaths in Western Samoa and 34 deaths in American Samoa. 1 New Zealander, 3 Koreans and 1 Australian were among the victims. 6 Australians and 1 Koreans were still missing. 5% of the Australians living in Samoa were either killed or missing. Another 145 people were injured and whole villages were wiped out.

Fautasi was one village that was completely obliterated. There were at least 5 dead in the village, and the death toll there could go into the 100’s in that village alone. The village of Salesatele was destroyed, and 37 bodies have been found there.

A reporter saw at least 20 bodies in the southeastern town of Lalomanu. The town and surrounding region were flattened. There were 7-8 dead in Malaela, and many are missing. There were also many dead in Vailoa and Aleipata.

The village of Sau Sau Beach Fale was wiped out. There were also an unknown number of deaths in Talamoa. 40 bodies had been brought to the local hospital in Apia. 20 bodies were seen in a hospital in the city of Upolu. 100 bodies were reported from the southern coast alone and the total was rising all the time.

Tsunamis were recorded at Apia and Pago Pago in American Samoa. Tsunami waves 15-20 feet high struck Tutuila Island, where Pago Pago is, and moved up to 1.6 miles inland. The National Park Service office on the island was completely obliterated. 80% of the park workers are volunteers are missing.

Hawaii was spared by the tsunami, but waves 1-2 feet higher than normal hit the California coast a couple of hours ago.


Filed under American Samoa, Earthquakes, Mother Nature, Pacific, Tsunamis, Western Samoa

Awesome Pics of October 2007 California Fires

Repost from the old site.

The fires in California last October 2007 were historic. 1,500 homes and 500,000 acres were burned, 9 people died, and 85 more were injured, including 85 firefighters. Here are some of the more spectacular pictures of the fires.

An incredible photo of Mount San Miguel burning during the Harris Fire on October 23, 2007. I was following all of these fires closely and I remember as this wall of flame charged down Mt. San Miguel towards the homes below. This horrible fire burned 206 homes and 252 outbuildings and damaged 253 structures. It killed 5 people and injured 55 more, 34 firefighters and 21 civilians. What an incredible fire. Those flames must be 100-200 feet high.This photo still creeps me out. It reminds me of some popular horror movie like Friday the 13th. I keep expecting Freddy to pop out and start roaming the streets. This photo was taken in Irvine, California, and the fire is the Santiago Fire. The wall of smoke is so vast it seems to have blotted out the sun altogether. Awesome photo. I’m not sure when this was taken.

Another strange and very creepy photo. A number of fires were burning in and around Santa Clarita northeast of Los Angeles at the time that this photo was taken on October 21, 2007. The fires with the halos around them almost look like UFO’s. The homes in front lit up by street lights adds to the creepy effect.

A strange photo of the Santiago Fire taken on October 23, 2007. The Hellish-appearing flames of the fire seem to loom in the background, while another strange line that looks like headlights on a distant freeway burn closer to town. The photo was taken from Aliso Viejo, with Lake Forest in the foreground.

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Filed under Americas, California, Fires, Mother Nature, Regional, Reposts From The Old Site, USA, West

Final Katrina Death Toll at 4,081

Repost from the old blog. I received a lot of criticism for this, but this is still probably the best death toll for direct and indirect deaths for Hurricane Katrina out there.

I used my own total of 1,723 direct deaths combined with testimony about a study done after the hurricane that showed a huge increase in excess deaths in the period after the hurricane was over. The resulting total of 4,081 is probably the most accurate total out there for direct and indirect deaths from the storm so far, unless someone has added in some more indirect deaths. This figure came under some criticism, but it is based on the solid epidemiological theory of excess mortality.

My official death toll of 1,723, representing deaths due to immediate and direct effects of the storm, has not changed since August 22, 2006. However, we now have a fascinating document that comes from testimony delivered to Congress, which has caused me to raise the total deaths from Katrina due to direct and immediate plus delayed effects to 4,081.

For those who are interested, a list of 1,195 people who were killed in the hurricane is available here.

The testimony was part of a hearing titled Post Katrina Health Care: Continuing Concerns and Immediate Needs in the New Orleans Region given before the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on March 13, 2007.

The list of speakers is here. Of particular interest in terms of the Katrina death toll was the testimony given by a physician, Dr. Kevin Stephens, Sr., Director pf the New Orleans Health Department.

In his testimony (pdf), Stephens points out that New Orleans already had serious public health problems before the hurricane, including large numbers of poor and uninsured people. The number of doctors has been reduced by 70% and the number of hospital beds in Orleans Parish has been reduced by 75%.

In some areas such as the Lower Ninth Ward and New Orleans East in Orleans Parish and Chalmette and other places in St. Bernard Parish, residents have no access to health care whatsoever. Mental health is another serious problem: even last year, 20% of residents reported suffering from severe stress and depression.

Yet the number of mental health inpatient beds has been reduced by 83% and the number of psychiatrists has dropped by 90%. Residents reported observing a larger than usual number of death notices in the newspaper, even long after Katrina and into 2006. At the same time, even months after the storm, residents reported going to more funerals than they ever had.

These anecdotal reports caused Stephens and a team to undertake a study to count the number of death notices in the New Orleans Times-Picayune and compare it to a reference year which would serve as a baseline. 2003 was chosen as a reference year. The data can be seen on page nine of the testimony linked above.

In the first six months of 2003, 5,544 deaths were counted. In the first six months of 2006, 7,902 were counted, an increase of 2,358 deaths over baseline in the post-Katrina period. Based on this, we will assign 2,358 deaths as caused by the accelerated death rates that occurred in New Orleans even long after the storm.

Although the population of New Orleans is only 1/2 what it was prior to the storm, the obituaries covered not only New Orleans but also included many of the refugees tossed about to various parts of the country.

Based on this new information, we can add the previous toll of 1,723 to the new post-Katrina figure of 2,358 to posit a new unofficial death toll of 4,081. Possible causes of the excess deaths in 2006 include stress, suicide, pollution, contamination, impoverishment and the devastation of the heath sector after Katrina. For instance, the suicide rate tripled in the first 10 months after Katrina.

Thanks to Ezra Boyd of Louisiana State University for sending me this information.

Louisiana 20061: Tue., Mar. 13, 2007: 2,358
Louisiana:       Mon., Aug. 2, 2006:  1,464
Mississippi:     Tue., Jan. 24, 2006:   238
Florida:         Mon., Jan. 9, 2006:     14
Georgia:         Mon., Jan. 9, 2006:      2
Alabama:         Mon., Jan. 9, 2006:      2
Ohio2:           Wed., Aug. 31, 2005:     2
Kentucky3:       Wed., Aug. 31, 2005:     1
Total:                                4,081

Footnoted totals are controversial. Explanations for controversial totals follows:

1The explanation for the 2,358 excess deaths in the first six months of 2006 as compared to the baseline of the first six months of 2003, presumably due to various effects of Hurricane Katrina, is above. This total reflects deaths due to delayed effects, whereas the other figures all represent more immediate and direct effects of the storm.

2The two Ohio victims are Cassondra Ground, 19, of Monroeville, Ohio, and Thelma Niedzinski, 84, of Norwalk, Ohio. Both were killed in a car accident near Monroeville, Ohio on August 30, 2005. The Ohio State Highway Patrol felt that a wet road caused by Hurricane Katrina caused the car accident. See Ohioans Focus on Helping Katrina Victims, Jay Cohen, Associated Press, August 31, 2005.

3The Kentucky victim was Deanna Petsch, 10, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. On August 29, 2005, she fell into a Hurricane Katrina-swollen ditch in Hopkinsville and drowned. See Storm Surge: State Gets Soaked, City Avoids Major Flooding, Homes, Life Lost in Hopkinsville, Sheldon S. Shafer and James Malone, The Louisville (Kentucky) Courier-Journal, August 31, 2005.

Update: This post has been linked on the always-excellent blog Majikthise and criticized in the comments there. The comments question how the 2,368 excess deaths after Katrina can possibly be attributed to Hurricane Katrina. Answer: They cannot.

But using that number is perfectly in accord with the Theory of Excess Mortality. That theory is widely used by epidemiologists, and was used by Les Roberts’ team to come up with the figure of 655,000 excess deaths in Iraq since the US invasion.

Dr. Gideon Polya has done a lot of work in the area of excess mortality and avoidable mortality, some of which has been published in peer-reviewed journals. Examples of his work are here, here and here.

Can we prove that anything in particular is causing excess mortality in any particular place, absent disaster or war? Nope. But something is killing people in various places at various times at an excessive rate. Anecdotal evidence indicated that many more people than normal were dying in New Orleans in the three to nine months post-Hurricane Katrina. Something was killing them.

They just didn’t up and decide that 2006 was a nice year for dying. Barring other reasonable factors, we may assume that Hurricane Katrina had something to do with the excess deaths in New Orleans. The theory and methodology used in my Katrina excess deaths post in no less rigorous than that used by Roberts, Polya and epidemiologists everywhere.

This comment in the same thread on Majikthise backs up my comments quite well.

This research takes a lot of time, and I do not get paid anything for it. If you think this website is valuable to you, please consider a a contribution to support more of this valuable research.


Filed under Americas, Health, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricanes, Louisiana, Public Health, Regional, Reposts From The Old Site, South, USA, Weather

Final Katrina Direct Death Toll At 1,723

Repost from the old blog. This is my tally of the final death toll from Hurricane Katrina from a number of sources. I am not sure if it differs a bit from the official toll, but if it does, I am confident that my total if the better one. It was quoted as the official toll on Wikipedia for a long time.

Update: The indirect Katrina death toll has risen from 1,723 to 4,098 as of March 13, 2007. See my post, Final Katrina Death Toll at 4,081 for details. A list of 1,195 people who were killed in Hurricane Katrina is available on this website here.

For what it’s worth, Seth Abramson, an attorney/poet blogger, has been hammering away at the discrepancies in Mississippi’s death toll for some time now, making various allegations that Haley Barbour is hiding the real death toll in Mississippi.

It is true that the suicide rate in New Orleans went up after Hurricane Katrina for a number of months, but the only figures available are per 1000,000 population figures, and until we can determine the population of New Orleans month by month post-Katrina, there is no way to figure out what that number is.

It is helpful to look at a couple of overviews of what Hurricane Katrina actually was. First, a timeline, and then a fact sheet (both the timeline and the fact sheet are from the producers of Surviving Katrina, a promising documentary directed by Phil Craig and produced by the Discovery Channel. This film will be showing on August 27 at 9 PM across the US:


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hurricane Katrina starts forming over the Bahamas and is identified by the National Hurricane Centre at 5 PM as Tropical Depression 12.

Wednesday, August 24

Tropical Depression 12 strengthens into a tropical storm and is named Katrina.

Thursday, August 25

Katrina strikes Florida as a Category 1 hurricane with winds of 80 MPH.
Long-range forecasting predicts Katrina will make landfall in the Florida Panhandle, well to the East of New Orleans. It is expected that Katrina will move immediately in a northward direction.

Friday, August 26

At 5 PM, Hurricane Katrina moves into the Gulf of Mexico and quickly grows into a category 2 hurricane with 100 MPH winds. As Hurricane Katrina enters the Gulf of Mexico conditions are perfect for a hurricane to rapidly intensify:

1) Warm ocean temperatures
2) Moist atmospheric conditions
3) A lack of wind sheer (winds that disrupt the motion of a storm)

High pressures over the Gulf drive Katrina further west. Katrina is moving in a westerly direction and the National Hurricane Center forecast track shifts towards New Orleans. The Florida Panhandle is no longer in Katrina’s sights and landfall is now expected somewhere in Mississippi or Louisiana.

Saturday, August 27

At 4 AM, Katrina is now a Category 3 storm and continues to move in a westerly direction. Katrina also continues to rapidly intensify due to the sustained conditions for hurricane growth in the Gulf of Mexico.

The hurricane forecast track has Katrina moving northwest over the next 24 hours towards New Orleans at a speed of 7 MPH. Katrina is roughly 435 miles south of the Mississippi River.

A Category 5 hurricane is a very rare occurrence; typically we only see one every two years in the Atlantic. Conditions in recent years, however, have been ideal for the fueling of massive Category 5 hurricanes.

Sunday, August 28

At 1 AM, Katrina is upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 145 MPH. Six hours later, Katrina is upgraded to a Category 5 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 160 MPH.

The National Weather Service issues this Advisory at 7 AM:

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the north central gulf coast from Morgan City, Louisiana eastward to the Alabama/Florida border – including the City of New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain – preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.

At 4 PM, the National Weather Service continues to update on the potential threat to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast from storm surge:

Coastal storm surge flooding of 18 to 22 feet above normal tide levels – locally as high as 28 feet – along with large and dangerous battering waves – can be expected near and to the east of where the center makes landfall. Some levees in New Orleans area could be overtopped. Significant storm surge will occur elsewhere along the central and northeastern Gulf of Mexico Coast.

Monday, August 29

In the early hours of Monday morning, Katrina begins to weaken and by 2 AM is already classed by the National Weather Service as a Category 4 storm.

At 5 AM, one hour before Katrina’s first landfall, Katrina’s associated storm surge begins to cross Lake Borgne from the Gulf of Mexico and starts to batter the eastern flood defenses of Greater New Orleans. The storm surge is also carried towards the city’s Industrial Canal and Lake Pontchartrain along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

Storm surge heights at landfall peaked at around 25 feet as they came ashore – the largest recorded in U.S. history – breaking the previous record set by Hurricane Camille in 1969. Storm surges can be the most devastating part of a hurricane and in Katrina’s case, the storm surges proved much more destructive than the hurricane winds.

Hurricane Katrina makes landfall over the Mississippi Delta as a near Category 4 storm and then makes another landfall on the Mississippi-Louisiana border as a Category 3 hurricane. Hurricane Katrina’s core winds hit the Mississippi Coast and New Orleans experiences the weaker winds on the western side of Katrina.

These winds, moving from the North to the South, create a second storm surge on Lake Pontchartrain – about 11 feet high – which races towards the northern flood defenses of the city, ultimately leading to the breaches in the 17th Street and London Avenue drainage canals that flood Metropolitan New Orleans.

By 2 PM Katrina has weakened to a Category 2 storm as it continues to move inland. By Tuesday, Katrina weakens to a tropical depression.

Hurricane Katrina Fact Sheet

Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, killing over 1,700 people.

  • The confirmed death toll (total of direct and indirect deaths) stood at 1,723, mainly from Louisiana (1,464) and Mississippi (238). However, 135 people remain categorized as missing in Louisiana, so this number is not final. Many of the deaths are indirect. It is almost impossible to determine the exact cause of some of the fatalities.
  • Katrina was the largest hurricane of its strength to approach the United States in recorded history; its sheer size caused devastation over 100 miles (160 km) from the center. The storm surge caused major or catastrophic damage along the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, including the cities of Mobile, Alabama, Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi, and Slidell, Louisiana.
  • Katrina was the eleventh named storm, the fifth hurricane, the third major hurricane, and the second category 5 hurricane of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It was also the sixth strongest hurricane ever recorded, and the third strongest landfalling U.S. hurricane ever recorded.
  • New Orleans’ levee failures were found to be primarily the result of system design flaws, combined with the lack of adequate maintenance. According to an investigation by the National Science Foundation, those responsible for the conception, design, construction, and maintenance of the region’s flood-control system apparently failed to pay sufficient attention to public safety.
  • Hurricane Katrina was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, with estimated damages resulting in $75 billion (in 2005 US dollars).
  • > As of April 2006, the Bush Administration has sought $105 billion for repairs and reconstruction in the region. This does not account for damage to the economy caused by potential interruption of the oil supply and exports of commodities such as grain.
  • More than seventy countries pledged monetary donations or other assistance. Kuwait made the largest single pledge, $500 million; other large donations were made by Qatar ($100 million), India, China (both $5 million), Pakistan ($1.5 million), and Bangladesh ($1 million).
  • The total shut-in oil production from the Gulf of Mexico in the six-month period following the hurricane was approximately 24% of the annual production and the shut-in gas production for the same period was about 18%.
  • The forestry industry in Mississippi was also affected, as 1.3 million acres of forest lands were destroyed. The total loss to the forestry industry due to Katrina is calculated to rise to about $5 billion.
  • Hundreds of thousands of local residents were left unemployed, which will have a trickle-down effect as lower taxes are paid to local governments. Before the hurricane, the region supported approximately one million non-farm jobs, with 600,000 of them in New Orleans. It is estimated that the total economic impact in Louisiana and Mississippi may exceed $150 billion.
  • The American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Common Ground Collective, Emergency Communities, and many other charitable organizations provided housing, food, and water to victims of the storm. These organizations also provided an infrastructure for shelters throughout Louisiana and other states that held thousands of refugees.
Louisiana:   Mon., Aug. 2, 2006:   1,464
Mississippi: Tue., Jan. 24, 2006:  238
Florida:     Mon., Jan. 9, 2006:   14
Georgia:     Mon., Jan. 9, 2006:   2
Alabama:     Mon., Jan. 9, 2006:   2
Ohio1:       Wed., Aug. 31, 2005:  2
Kentucky2:   Wed., Aug. 31, 2005:  1
Total:                             1,723

Footnoted totals are controversial. Explanations for controversial totals follows:

1The two Ohio victims are Cassondra Ground, 19, of Monroeville, Ohio, and Thelma Niedzinski, 84, of Norwalk, Ohio. Both were killed in a car accident near Monroeville, Ohio on August 30, 2005. The Ohio State Highway Patrol felt that a wet road caused by Hurricane Katrina caused the car accident. See Ohioans Focus on Helping Katrina Victims, Jay Cohen, Associated Press, August 31, 2005.

2The Kentucky victim was Deanna Petsch, 10, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. On August 29, 2005, she fell into a Hurricane Katrina-swollen ditch in Hopkinsville and drowned. See Storm Surge: State Gets Soaked, City Avoids Major Flooding, Homes, Life Lost in Hopkinsville, Sheldon S. Shafer and James Malone, The Louisville (Kentucky) Courier-Journal, August 31, 2005.

This research takes a lot of time, and I do not get paid anything for it. If you think this website is valuable to you, please consider a a contribution to support more of this valuable research.


Filed under Americas, Health, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricanes, Louisiana, Public Health, Regional, Reposts From The Old Site, South, USA, Weather