Opinion | Life as We Know It – The New York Times Editorial

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

CreditIllustrations by Yann Kebbi

“Our planet has suffered five mass extinctions, the last of which occurred about 66 million years ago, when a giant asteroid believed to have landed near the Yucatán Peninsula set off a chain reaction that wiped out the dinosaurs and roughly three-quarters of the other species on earth. A few years ago, in a book called “The Sixth Extinction,” the writer Elizabeth Kolbert warned of a devastating sequel, with plant and animal species on land and sea already disappearing at a ferocious clip, their habitats destroyed or diminished by human activities.

This time, she made clear, the asteroid is us — and we will pay heavily for our folly.

Humanity’s culpability in what many scientists believe to be a planetary emergency has now been reaffirmed by a detailed and depressing report compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies. A summary was released last Monday in Paris, and the full 1,500-page report will be available later in the year. Its findings are grim. “Biodiversity” — a word encompassing all living flora and fauna — “is declining faster than at any time in human history,” it says, estimating that “around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades,” unless the world takes transformative action to save natural systems. The at-risk population includes a half-million land-based species and one-third of marine mammals and corals.

Most of the causes of this carnage seem familiar: logging, poaching, overfishing by large industrial fleets, pollution, invasive species, the spread of roads and cities to accommodate an exploding global population, now seven billion and rising. If there is one alpha culprit, it is the clearing of forests and wetlands for farms to feed all those people (and, perversely, to help them get to work: The destruction of Indonesia’s valuable rain forests, and their replacement with palm oil plantations, has been driven in part by Europe’s boundless appetite for biodiesel fuels.)

Add to all this a relatively new threat: Global warming, driven largely by the burning of fossil fuels, is expected to compound the damage. “While climate change has not been the dominant driver of biodiversity loss to date in most parts of the world, it is projected to become as or more important,” said Sir Robert Watson, chairman of the biodiversity panel and former chairman of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose most recent alarming report on global warming has given that issue new currency in American politics. Rising seas and increased extreme weather events propelled in part by climate change — fire, floods, droughts — have already harmed many species. The most obvious victim is the world’s coral reefs, which have suffered grievously from ocean waters that have grown warmer and more acidic as a result of all the carbon dioxide they’ve been asked to absorb.”

Opinion | Congress to I.R.S.: Don’t Even Think of Helping Taxpayers – The New York Times

By The Editorial Board
The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

April 10, 2019, 311
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CreditCreditLuba Lukova
Congress has landed on one of those rare ideas that commands support from both Democrats and Republicans. Unfortunately, it’s a bad one.

“On Tuesday, the House approved legislation misleadingly titled the Taxpayer First Act that includes a provision prohibiting the Internal Revenue Service from developing a free online system that most American households could use to file their taxes. The Senate is considering a similar piece of bipartisan legislation.

This makes no sense. Congress should be making it easier for Americans to file their taxes. Instead of barring the I.R.S. from making April a little less miserable, why isn’t Congress requiring the I.R.S. to create a free tax filing website?

Better yet, the United States could emulate the roughly three dozen countries, including Chile, Japan and Britain, where most taxpayers do not need to fill out tax returns. In some of those countries, the accuracy of tax withholding is sufficient to obviate the annual filing process. In others, the government sends out completed forms to most taxpayers. In Estonia, filing taxes can be done in less than three minutes.”

Editorial | Why Breast-Feeding Scares Donald Trump – The New York Times

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The push by United States delegates to the World Health Organization to water down or scrap a simple resolution meant to encourage breast-feeding in underdeveloped countries was many things — bullying, anti-science, pro-industry, anti-public health and shortsighted, to name a few.

But it was not surprising. In fact, it’s just one of several recent examples of the Trump administration’s zeal for badgering weaker countries into tossing public health concerns aside to serve powerful business interests. The baby formula industry is worth $70 billion and, as breast-feeding has become more popular in more developed countries, the industry has pinned its hopes for growth on developing nations.

via Opinion | Why Breast-Feeding Scares Donald Trump – The New York Times