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There is no such thing as a business as usual scenario

There is no such thing as a business as usual scenario

The discussions about how much it will cost to mitigate climate change is a smokescreen. What constitutes a cost is not an objective fact, but laden with assumptions and subjective values.  

How much does it cost to stop climate change, to keep within the target of the Paris agreement? 

The answer depends on who asks and what is meant by costs. In the normal case we would say that something costs when we have to pay for something that we buy or possibly that we make ourselves, counting our work as a cost. In the mainstream discussion of climate change mitigation, cost can also mean loss of income or a lower GDP compared to a business as usual scenario. There are very small costs for the Brazilian government in protecting the Amazon. But the contribution of a protected Amazon forest to the Brazilian economy is small compared to the timber that could be sold, the hydroelectricity and minerals that could be extracted, the soy or beef that could be produced. 

There are many pits to fall into when discussing the cost of climate change mitigation. 

First, to compare mitigation measures with business as usual scenarios that omit the increasing cost of climate change is simply misleading. The costs of inaction are certainly bigger than the costs of action. 

Second, the business as usual scenario is based on that existing goods and services are desirable and that not doing certain things incur a loss of sorts. But there is no such relationship. If the US cuts spending on its military in half it would be just fine. If I skip a trip to Bangkok nobody will suffer.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dire Climate Change Warning in Report for Pentagon: US Military Could Collapse in 20 Years; Lack of Water, Domestic Disasters, Disease, Mass Migrations as Threats to Operations

Dire Climate Change Warning in Report for Pentagon: US Military Could Collapse in 20 Years; Lack of Water, Domestic Disasters, Disease, Mass Migrations as Threats to Operations

The Pentagon has long been concerned about the threats climate change pose to stability and how it will lead to conflicts due to mass migration and even more intense competition for scarce resources. In the early 2000s, the military warned that climate change could induce large-scale deaths and migrations out of low-lying areas such as Bangladesh due to storms and flooding.

A recent look at the dangers climate change poses to US military operations, released over the summer by the Army War College, went virtually unnoticed despite offering “Apocalypse Near” scenarios a mere 20 years out.  And it isn’t  just that very bad things are in the offing; the report finds that “the Department of Defense (DoD) is precariously unprepared for the national security implications of climate change-induced global security challenges.”

We found out about this document only as a result of an article in Vice flagged by resilc. We’ve embedded the document at the end of the post and strongly urge you to read it in full. Or if you want Cliff Notes versions, see The Center for Climate and Security or the Vice piece

The report sees the lack of potable water as a serious limitation on US military operations, which it anticipates will be overtaxed due to destabilizing climate-change induced mass migrations abroad, combined with domestic Jackpot-level threats of an overtaxed, decrepit electrical grid; diseases; and drought and potential crop failures. Vice gives a good high-level recap:

The report paints a frightening portrait of a country falling apart over the next 20 years due to the impacts of climate change on “natural systems such as oceans, lakes, rivers, ground water, reefs, and forests.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Politicians Offered a Choice between Climate Fantasies as Our Future Grows Bleaker

Politicians Offered a Choice between Climate Fantasies as Our Future Grows Bleaker

Greta Thunberg is right — across Canada we are acting like ‘spoiled irresponsible children.’

GretaThunbergHoldingSign.jpg
Greta Thunberg took her climate campaign to Edmonton this week, and is in Vancouver today. Our politicians should listen. CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley.

Now that we can open the windows again and clear the air of political flatulence, perhaps we can acknowledge the realities that remain like ghosts in our troubled house.

Once again we have been reminded that Canada’s political parties behave like organizations “publicly and officially designed for the purpose of killing in all souls the sense of truth and of justice,” as Simone Weil characterized parties seven decades ago. 

What they have left us are political divisions that have now painted the face of Canada red or blue.

And just as in the excited United States, the conservative blue largely spreads across oil-producing regions suffering from low prices, while the red occupies oil-importing provinces.  

We are now living the storm before the storm and don’t even know it.

The energy divisions in both countries tell a story of appalling leadership, the strength of propaganda and political inertia.

One-third of the blue nation not only doesn’t believe that climate change is an emergency, but remains in denial about the increasing volatility of oil and gas prices.

Low prices and overproduction of high cost bitumen and fracked oil and gas have eroded the economics of the fossil fuel industry, throwing some people in Alberta and Saskatchewan into cauldrons of resentment, stoked by the propaganda manufactured by “wildcat Christians” and the oil industry. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Surveying archaeologists across the globe reveals deeper and more widespread roots of the human age, the Anthropocene

Surveying archaeologists across the globe reveals deeper and more widespread roots of the human age, the Anthropocene

Examples of how human societies are changing the planet abound – from building roads and houses, clearing forests for agriculture and digging train tunnels, to shrinking the ozone layer, driving species extinct, changing the climate and acidifying the oceans. Human impacts are everywhere. Our societies have changed Earth so much that it’s impossible to reverse many of these effects

Nuclear bomb testing left its mark in the geologic record. National Nuclear Security Administration/Wikimedia CommonsCC BY

Some researchers believe these changes are so big that they mark the beginning of a new “human age” of Earth history, the Anthropocene epoch. A committee of geologists has now proposed to mark the start of the Anthropocene in the mid-20th century, based on a striking indicator: the widely scattered radioactive dust from nuclear bomb tests in the early 1950s.

But this is not the final word.

Not everyone is sure that today’s industrialized, globalized societies will be around long enough to define a new geological epoch. Perhaps we are just a flash in the pan – an event – rather than a long, enduring epoch. 

Others debate the utility of picking a single thin line in Earth’s geological record to mark the start of human impacts in the geological record. Maybe the Anthropocene began at different times in different parts of the world. For example, the first instances of agriculture emerged at different places at different times, and resulted in huge impacts on the environment, through land clearing, habitat losses, extinctions, erosion and carbon emissions, forever changing the global climate.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

As the climate collapses, we can either stand together – or perish alone

As the climate collapses, we can either stand together – or perish alone

Collective action is our only hope for enduring climate breakdown. Calls for survivalism will only hasten catastrophe.

Smoke from a bushfire in the Amazon
 Climate survivalism will only hasten our destruction Photograph: Stock Connection Blue/Alamy Stock Photo

Michael Mobbs has triggered an important conversation by “coming out” as a climate survivalist. He expects “societal collapse … a total breakdown within the next three to five years”, so he’s selling his ground-breaking and beautiful off-grid sustainable home in Chippendale and planning to move to the New South Wales South Coast.

Mobbs has contributed an enormous amount over many years, but this latest intervention is deeply problematic. It is wrong in fact and wrong in approach, and could contribute to making an already bad situation worse.

While climate breakdown is well under way, and societal collapse is a very real possibility within my lifetime if not necessarily his, there is no serious projection to justify a timeframe as short as three to five years for total breakdown. And the approach of running for the hills (or the coast) is neither sensible nor helpful. It only makes societal collapse more likely, by curtailing action and dividing the community even further. And, in that scenario, it won’t even help you survive.

Far be it from me to criticise Mobbs’ personal choice here. His exhaustion and lack of hope is completely understandable. He has been actively working for solutions to ecological destruction for decades, leading whole communities towards action, while being ignored by the vast majority.

Some of the responses to his declaration, suggesting his approach has been an individualist one ignoring the need for collective action, are ignorant of his work. Mobbs has been working for collective action, using his own personal action as an inspiring example to support others to follow suit and work together for systemic change, as all effective collective organising does.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Global Warming

GLOBAL WARNING

“Sic Transit Gloria Mundi” (Thus passes the glory of the world). This phrase was used at the papal coronations between the early 1400s and 1963. It was meant to indicate the transitory or ephemeral nature of life and cycles.

As we are now facing the end of a major economic, political and cultural cycle, the world is likely to experience a dramatic change which very few are prepared for. Interestingly, the peak of economic cycles often coincide with the peaks in climate cycles. At the height of the Roman Empire, which was when Christ was born, the climate in Rome was tropical. Then the earth got cooler until the Viking era which coincided with the dark ages.

THE PROBLEM IS “THE ECONOMY STUPID” AND NOT THE CLIMATE

Yes, of course global warming has taken place recently as the effect of climate cycles. But the cycle has just peaked again which means that all the global warming activists will gradually cool down with the falling temperatures in the next few decades. The sun and the planets determine climate cycles and temperatures, like they have for many millions of years, and not human beings.

The climate activists are spending their efforts on the wrong issue. The big disaster looming for the world is not climate change but “the economy stupid” (phrase coined by Clinton).

So let’s instead look at the real coming disaster that the world needs to focus on and a number of facts that are self-evident even though very few are aware of them.

Instead of worrying about global warming, which we humans cannot effect, we should instead issue a GLOBAL WARNING about the coming economic cataclysm so that the world can be prepared for the extremely serious problems that will hit us all in the next few years.

Below I outline a potential scenario for the next 5-10 years:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Economists: Greta Thunberg’s Ideal World Would Result In A “Human Tragedy Of Disastrous Proportions”

Economists: Greta Thunberg’s Ideal World Would Result In A “Human Tragedy Of Disastrous Proportions”

Whether you were inspired by Greta Thunberg’s tearful UN speech…

…. or merely thought it was the year’s greatest meme, in which an indoctrinated, emotionally frail child is being preyed upon by adults with a far bigger and more lucrative agenda, you probably do not realize how much your everyday life could change if the world were to follow the advice of climate activists to attain Thunberg’s ecological utopia.

To provide some perspective on that question, several economists spoke to RT to share their thoughts out how the proposed changes could affect the global economy and the daily lives of people around the world.

Fossil fuels

The first thing that comes to mind to stop reported global warming is to impose a carbon tax and divest from the fossil fuel industry, as this sector is one of the major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. However, “a carbon tax and/or forced divestiture from fossil fuels would ultimately make the kind of cheap, varied and efficient transportation that people around the world are accustomed to extremely expensive and more limited,” warns Peter C. Earle, an economist at the American Institute for Economic Research.

Apart from public transport, cars could also become less accessible to most individuals. So if you drive to work without a second thought, the carbon tax could suddenly double or triple the cost of your daily trip, leaving tens of millions of people cut off from their livelihoods, according to the analyst.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions can have much more serious economic implications, Dr Pierre Noël, Senior Fellow in Economic and Energy Security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), told RT.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

‘Planet of the Humans,’ Possibly Most Bracing Environmental Documentary Ever Made, Premieres at Traverse City Film Festival

‘Planet of the Humans,’ Possibly Most Bracing Environmental Documentary Ever Made, Premieres at Traverse City Film Festival

Director Jeff Gibbs argues we’re heading toward ‘total human apocalypse’ and green energy is ‘not going to save us, it’s actually going to kill us faster’

Picture
An image from “Planet of the Humans,” directed by Jeff Gibbs. Photo courtesy Traverse City Film Festival

Films about environmental issues have long been a staple of the documentary form, a genre that in recent years alone has brought us Before the FloodChasing IceChasing Coral and, of course, An Inconvenient Truth. But those documentaries arguably pale in importance to Planet of the Humans, which just held its world premiere at the Traverse City Film Festival. 

The film directed by Jeff Gibbs, produced by Gibbs and Ozzie Zehner and executive produced by Michael Moore, makes the deeply disturbing case that unless we reverse course, the human species faces ruin.

“The ultimate problem is that there are too many people consuming too much and we don’t even have a word or a name for what this total human apocalypse is called,” Gibbs told me during an interview in Traverse City. “What is the word for a single species that’s overrun an entire planet and is causing mayhem in every direction?”

There is nothing you will ever have in your life that’s not an extraction from the planet earth. And so we’ve all lost touch with that.
​–Planet of the Humans director Jeff Gibbs to Nonfictionfilm.com

Gibbs, an environmentalist, film producer and composer who has worked on several of Moore’s documentaries, describes himself as “worried sick” about climate change. But unlike others who focus solely on the danger presented by global warming, Gibbs sees climate change as symptomatic of a larger problem – overpopulation and consumption of Earth’s resources.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Oil Industry Set Agenda During Climate Summit Meeting with Big Greens

Oil Industry Set Agenda During Climate Summit Meeting with Big Greens

Pratima Rangarajan, CEO of OGCI Climate Investments

Last week, as climate activist Greta Thunberg addressed the United Nations Climate Action Summit, invited leaders from major environmental groups spent their day listening to the leaders of fossil fuel companies discuss how they want to respond to the climate crisis.

Depending on which room you were in, you would have heard two very different messages.

Thunberg’s widely watched speech evoked the urgency of acting on climate change.

“People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing,” Thunberg told the UN summit. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth.”

Just blocks away, the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), whose members include oil giants like ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, Saudi Aramco, and BP, was meeting with representatives from large environmental organizations, talking about ways to moderately reduce greenhouse gas pollution while continuing business as usual.

The OGCI had planned a busy schedule for organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund and the National Wildlife Federation, according to a draft planning document from the event obtained by DeSmog.

The draft, dated August 21, shows that a “breakfast and portfolio review” would start the day, hosted by the CEO of oil giant BP, Bob Dudley, and Pratima Rangarajan, CEO of the OGCI Climate Investments.

The full day of sessions, preceded by an invitation-only forum the night before, would include CEOs of global oil majors speaking alongside Mark Brownstein, senior vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF); Jason Bordoff, director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy; and Collin O’Mara, head of the National Wildlife “Foundation,” the draft agenda said (O’Mara heads the National Wildlife Federation).

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why People Fail to Understand There are Cycles to Everything

Why People Fail to Understand There are Cycles to Everything 

There tends to be a fairly regular 21-year cycle in extreme climate shifts with respect to volatility. There was the extreme cold of 1936, followed 21 years later with a heatwave that melted the ice in the arctic, and then going into 1978 they were talking again about the deep freeze.

Indeed, TIME magazine’s January 31, 1977, featured the cover story, “The Big Freeze.” They reported that scientists were predicting that Earth’s average temperature could drop by 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Their cited cause was, of course, that humans created global cooling. Then suddenly the climate cycles shifted and it began to warm up.

I find it astonishing how people just do not understand that cycles even exit. They think only in a linear fashion that every day is supposed to be the same and if it isn’t, OMG, somebody is to blame.

Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!

Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

A very large chasm exists between those in power, including most of the 2020 presidential candidates, and environmentalists and scientists intent on acting now to resolve growing environmental crises. To reiterate what is known, the United Nations, through its IPCC and the IPBES committees, has provided comprehensive evidence that little time remains to avert catastrophic global warming. And the world is already in the midst of the sixth mass extinction.

Given that oligarchs, corporate executives and politicians are at least in theory physical beings as dependent on a livable world as the rest of us, it is incompatible views of the world that are illustrated by this indifference. Some people care more about wealth and power than they do about the environment, the planet and the rest of us. Lest this be confused with the human condition, the power to destroy the world has only existed for about seven decades.

The conclusion of the UN committees, considered conservative by many environmentalists, is that the opportunity to make incremental changes to industrial practices has passed. There is no way to achieve necessary goals without quickly and radically reorganizing Western political economy. And the alternative isn’t to continue on the current path. Doing nothing will alter the world in ways that will put hundreds of millions of people’s lives and livelihoods at risk.

Graph: the IPCC estimated that the world has twelve years from one year ago to cut carbon emissions in half or adverse consequences will rise at an increasing (exponential) rate. Many environmental scientists view this window as too conservative. They argue that adverse consequences are already assured by carbon releases to date. The American political class remains unbowed. Climate science believers in congress have joined deniers to assure that no environmental legislation of consequence will be passed. Source: c2es.org.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Climate Change Has been a Routine Scare Tactic Since the 1930s

Climate Change Has been a Routine Scare Tactic Since the 1930s 

QUESTION: Is there a pattern?

C

ANSWER: For whatever reason, these people have been promoting that the cities will all sink and we are the cause of it all. They have been touting this scenario since the 1930s when there was the Dust Bowl. It resurfaced after World War II when they were trying to stop rebuilding industry and the housing market which had been destroyed. The same argument appeared again in the 1960s when there was a great expansion in housing.

However, during the 1970s when things got colder, everything flipped upside down and then it was global cooling that would destroy civilization. On April 28, 1975, Newsweek magazine published an article in which they sounded the alarm bell and proposed solutions to deliberately melt the ice caps:

“Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects. They concede that some of the more spectacular solutions proposed, such as melting the arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers, might create problems far greater than those they solve. But the scientists see few signs that government leaders anywhere are even prepared to take the simple measures of stockpiling food or of introducing variables of climate uncertainty into economic projections of future food supplies.”

Then TIME magazine’s January 31, 1977 edition had the cover story featuring “The Big Freeze.” They reported that scientists were predicting that Earth’s average temperature could drop by 20 degrees fahrenheit. Their cited cause was, of course, that humans created global cooling. It just seems that humans are so powerful we can alter the universe but cannot manage to create corrupt-free governments.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Abandon All Hope: Moving Toward an Existentialist Environmentalism

Abandon All Hope: Moving Toward an Existentialist Environmentalism 

As the Earth’s ecological systems upon which we depend accelerate in their slouch towards Bethlehem, our society faces an existential crisis.  The effects of climate change are far direr than we initially expected.  Global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have risen to 415 ppm for the first time in over three million years.  The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C describes that we face an increase in global average temperatures of 1.5 degrees C as soon as 2040. Furthermore, the two degrees of warming that scientists widely argue is the final major threshold before permanent, large-scale climatic shifts leading to ecological collapse, is no longer some far-off possibility or hyperbolic fear-mongering, but an imminent reality.  The future we face in this new Earth is marked ever more frequent and intense fire and flooding, famine and disease, droughts and storms.

Similarly, compounded by decreasing habitat availability from deforestation, overfishing, and resource overuse, climatic shifts are already being accompanied by staggering and consistent losses in biodiversity.  Published last month, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ Global Assessment Report concluded that the second-fastest mass extinction event in planetary history is underway; the current rate of extinction is 100 to 1000 times greater than historical background rates.  Over one million species are at risk of extinction within the next few decades.

As they perceive the horsemen beginning to saddle up their mounts, many of my friends and colleagues in the environmental community have succumbed to anxiety, if not despondency.  It is all too easy to become overwhelmed and unable to make a decision on how to proceed given the enormity of the problem and the lateness of the hour.  Indeed, given their scale, global challenges like climate change and biodiversity loss have been called hyperobjects which humans cannot comprehend despite their pervasive effects that are and will be experienced by everyone in some way.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fire and Flood: Politics as Usual Amid Planetary Destruction

Fire and Flood: Politics as Usual Amid Planetary Destruction

Photograph Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture – Public Domain

More and more, we look into our screens and gizmos. And this helps us — almost as if they were made for that purpose — not to think about the weather outside. Kept busy “curating” our own lives, we are regularly spared evidence of the coming catastrophe.

Long ago, in a memorable poem, Robert Frost guessed that there was a human need to bring the moods of the world into conformity with our moods:

“Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.”

He says he has seen the “head” of the tree “taken and tossed” in rough weather, as his own head was “taken and swept” by a dream. This resemblance between the world and himself somehow added to his interest in life:

“That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.”

This sense of the human place in the fabric of nature — that there may be a deep connection between inner and outer weather — is starting to seem a thing of the past.

Can we still have inner weather when the outer weather changes so regularly and drastically? When 500 tornadoes rip through the country from Kansas to Pennsylvania in a matter of weeks? Or when 875,000 California acres burn down in the course of a summer? Rather than hear the message, we look into our smartphones or at our computer screens whose backgrounds may include breathtakingly lovely pictures of the planet — photos that show how beautiful a place it has been. As if we could have this Earth forever in reach, as if we could preserve it with a password or, by logging off, exchange it for another as lovely.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

War is War on Mother Earth

War is War on Mother Earth

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

“In order to achieve the massive systemic and cultural transformations required for mitigating climate change…we’re going to have to deal with the socially sanctioned, institutionalized violence perpetrated by U.S. foreign policy that is pouring fuel on the fire of global warming.”

– Stacy Bannerman

Climate Change Causes War 

There is the close relationship between war and climate change that can be seen in a cycle of feedback loops creating the interlocking crisis.

Take the case of Syria, the perfect example with its direct relationship between war and drought. In an exacting statistical analysis of warsfought between 1980 and 2010 the connection between war and climate change is undeniable.

The US military itself has long recognized climate change as a “threat multiplier.” The last three Pentagon Quadrennial Defense Reviewscharacterized climate change as a threat to national security.[1]

Since the idea of climate change as “threat multiplier” tends to encourage militarized responses, (like Elizabeth Warren’s recent proposals) this information is widely reported in the pro-war media and I will not repeat it here. The military and their media allies fall silent when it comes to a far more important truth: war causes climate change.

War Causes Climate Chaos

At the core of the corporate state is the war machine, the world’s largest polluter. Despite the exemptions from reporting on military pollution that the US demanded in the 1997 Kyoto Accords and continued suppression of information by the military, the general picture comes through. Consider the evidence linking fossil fuels and war making.

+ The US military is the world’s largest polluters of all forms of toxins. Almost 900 of the nearly 1,200 Superfund sitesin the U.S. are abandoned military facilities or sites that otherwise supported military needs.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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