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Climate Action- Right Way, Wrong Way

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Imperialism Of The Apocalypse

Imperialism Of The Apocalypse

Rich people are depriving poor people of cheap energy in the name of climate change. Why?

Clockwise from upper-left: Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex; Jennifer Lawrence; Prince Harry; Leonardo DiCaprio. Center: Pakistani boy with woodfuel for cooking (Getty Images)

Few appear to care about climate change more than global celebrities. In 2019, Leonardo DiCaprio told the U.N., “Climate Change is our single greatest security threat.” Late last year, DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence starred in the Hollywood climate disaster movie, “Don’t Look Up.” Said Lawrence, “You’re watching these hurricanes now and it’s hard, especially while promoting this movie, not to feel Mother Nature’s rage or wrath.” In a United Nations speech earlier this year, Prince Harry said “Climate change is wreaking havoc on our planet, with the most vulnerable suffering most of all.” All have urged individuals and nations to radically reduce their carbon emissions.

And yet global celebrities are, along with global political leaders, the planet’s biggest climate hypocrites. DiCaprio, Lawrence, Harry, and Meghan have been flying on private jetspartying on gas-guzzling yachts, and riding jet skis for years. Already 400 private jets, which are five to 14 times more polluting than commercial flights, have arrived in Egypt for United Nations annual climate talks. Last year, 40,000 people flew to Scotland, many on private jets, for climate talks, generating an estimated 102,000 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of burning 237,000 barrels of oil. After they arrived, they were treated to a video of a talking CGI dinosaur, voiced over by Jack Black, urging African nations to not use fossil fuels.

It’s true that celebrities have promised to do better. DiCaprio flew commercial to climate talks last year. Meghan and Harry flew commercial back to London last year. Lawrence flew commercial after her private plane nearly crashed. And most of the 30,000 participants in this year’s climate talks will arrive in commercial airplanes.

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War in a Changing Climate

War in a Changing Climate

Climate change threatening ‘things Americans value most,’ U.S. report says

John F. Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, speaks during a briefing at the State Department on Wednesday. (Susan Walsh/AP)
John F. Kerry, the special presidential envoy for climate, speaks during a briefing at the State Department on Wednesday. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Climate change is unleashing “far-reaching and worsening” calamities in every region of the United States, and the economic and human toll will only increase unless humans move faster to slow the planet’s warming, according to a sprawling new federal report released Monday.

“The things Americans value most are at risk,” the National Climate Assessment authors, who represent a broad range of federal agencies, write in the draft report. “Many of the harmful impacts that people across the country are already experiencing will worsen as warming increases, and new risks will emerge.”

The congressionally mandated assessment, last issued under the Trump administration in 2018, comes as world leaders gather this week in Egypt for a U.N. Climate Change Conference, known as COP27, aimed at prodding nations to tackle the problem with more urgency.

The report’s authors detail how climate-fueled disasters are becoming more costly and more common, and how the science is more clear than ever that rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are needed to slow the profound changes that are underway.

Humans have pushed the climate into ‘unprecedented’ territory, landmark U.N. report finds

The draft report, which probably will be finalized next year after a period of public comment and peer review, finds that in a world that has already warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels, the situation in the United States is even more extreme.

“Over the past 50 years, the U.S. has warmed 68 percent faster than the planet as a whole,” the report finds, noting that the change reflects a broader global pattern in which land areas warm faster than the ocean, and higher latitudes warm more rapidly than lower latitudes.

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Growing concern over unseasonal warm spell in Europe

Growing concern over unseasonal warm spell in Europe

Warm October weather has seen many flock to the beach -- such as here at Hossegor, southwestern France -- but environmentalists see more evidence of climate change
Warm October weather has seen many flock to the beach — such as here at Hossegor, southwestern France — but environmentalists see more evidence of climate change GAIZKA IROZ AFP

The mercury has been rising well above the norm across vast swathes of Europe, from Spain to as far north as Sweden.

After a summer marked by repeated heatwaves across much of the continent, Europe is experiencing exceptional temperatures even as it heads into the start of autumn — a sign of accelerating climate change.

“The month has not yet ended but we can already say practically without fear of contradiction that it will be the hottest (in Spain) since 1961,” when records began to be collated, said Ruben del Campo of Spain’s meteorological service Aemet.

If extrapolated data from historical reconstructions is taken into account, he added, this past month will have been Spain’s warmest October for fully a century.

“One, two days above 30 degrees is normal” for Spain, said del Campo. “But so many days, no. These are summer temperatures, whereas we are already heading into autumn.”

On Friday morning, the northern resort of San Sebastian saw the temperature hit 30.3 Celsius at 8:30 am (0630 GMT) — well above the seasonal average.

With forest fires declared in recent days in the Basque region, of which San Sebastian is a part, authorities have banned barbecues and fireworks to keep risks to a minimum.

The unseasonal warm spell has brought a new word into the Spanish lexicon — “verono” — an amalgam of verano (summer) and otono (autumn).

And it has left del Campo highlighting a “notable acceleration” in climate change over the past decade, exposing Spain to increasing creeping desertification.

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Overnight Degrowth

The Degrowth movement is gaining momentum. You’ve probably read articles about it and thought “Yeah, that makes sense, but it’ll never happen”. And today, you’d be right. Any government that tried to introduce it would soon become like the parrot, an ex-government.

However, we all know that infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible. Perhaps you’ve read one of the reports showing that environmental damage can’t be decoupled from GDP. COP26 showed there is no time to wait for a large number of countries to agree on meaningful action.

So, imagine that you and your social media buddies launch a campaign, and Degrowth becomes a household word, understood by many, and one brave government (my money’s on the Kiwis) decides to take the plunge. They secretly make preparations then introduce it – overnight.

You’re eating your muesli and your normal radio programme is interrupted with: “We now cross to the capital where the prime minister is about to make an important announcement”.

But first, a word of warning.

Some people might find the speech confronting. Scaring people is not my aim; rather, it is to present a scenario that could actually happen quickly enough to avoid catastrophic environmental and social collapse.

Facing reality is difficult. Ignoring the problems, or believing in myths like tech-will-save-us, is so much easier. And then there are those who are happy to just blame capitalism; but simply wishing it away won’t work. Or those who say we are doomed so why bother. Perhaps we are but we owe it to our kids not to give up.

The speech begins:

The time for pretending is over.

The governor-general has signed a proclamation declaring a state of emergency.

The stock market will not open this morning, and will remain closed for one week while investors come to terms with what you are about to hear.

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Climate crisis: UN finds ‘no credible pathway to 1.5C in place’

Failure to cut carbon emissions means ‘rapid transformation of societies’ is only option to limit impacts, report says

A firefighter sets fire to land in an attempt to prevent wildfires from spreading in Gironde, south-west France.
A firefighter sets fire to land in an attempt to prevent wildfires from spreading in Gironde, south-west France. A rise in global temperature of 1C to date has already contributed to climate disasters. Photograph: Thibaud Moritz/AFP/Getty Images

There is “no credible pathway to 1.5C in place”, the UN’s environment agency has said, and the failure to reduce carbon emissions means the only way to limit the worst impacts of the climate crisis is a “rapid transformation of societies”.

The UN environment report analysed the gap between the CO2 cuts pledged by countries and the cuts needed to limit any rise in global temperature to 1.5C, the internationally agreed target. Progress has been “woefully inadequate” it concluded.

Current pledges for action by 2030, if delivered in full, would mean a rise in global heating of about 2.5C and catastrophic extreme weather around the world. A rise of 1C to date has caused climate disasters in locations from Pakistan to Puerto Rico.

If the long-term pledges by countries to hit net zero emissions by 2050 were delivered, global temperature would rise by 1.8C. But the glacial pace of action means meeting even this temperature limit was not credible, the UN report said.

Countries agreed at the Cop26 climate summit a year ago to increase their pledges. But with Cop27 looming, only a couple of dozen have done so and the new pledges would shave just 1% off emissions in 2030. Global emissions must fall by almost 50% by that date to keep the 1.5C target alive.

Inger Andersen, the executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said: “This report tells us in cold scientific terms what nature has been telling us all year through deadly floods, storms and raging fires: we have to stop filling our atmosphere with greenhouse gases, and stop doing it fast.

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Climate change and the threat to civilization

In a speech about climate change from April 4th of this year, UN General Secretary António Guterres lambasted “the empty pledges that put us on track to an unlivable world” and warned that “we are on a fast track to climate disaster” (1). Although stark, Guterres’ statements were not novel. Guterres has made similar remarks on previous occasions, as have other public figures, including Sir David Attenborough, who warned in 2018 that inaction on climate change could lead to “the collapse of our civilizations” (2). In their article, “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2021”—which now has more than 14,700 signatories from 158 countries—William J. Ripple and colleagues state that climate change could “cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies, potentially making large areas of Earth uninhabitable” (3).
The consequences of climate change are likely to be dire—and in some scenarios, catastrophic. Scholars need to start discussing the mechanisms whereby climate change could cause the actual collapse of civilizations. Image credit: Flickr/Spencer.

Because civilization cannot exist in unlivable or uninhabitable places, all of the above warnings can be understood as asserting the potential for anthropogenic climate change to cause civilization collapse (or “climate collapse”) to a greater or lesser extent. Yet despite discussing many adverse impacts, climate science literature, as synthesized for instance by assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has little at all to say about whether or under which conditions climate change might threaten civilization. Although a body of scientific research exists on historical and archeological cases of collapse (4), discussions of mechanisms whereby climate change might cause the collapse of current civilizations has mostly been the province of journalists, philosophers, novelists, and filmmakers…

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Will Any Humans Become Post-Carbon?

Photo by Roxanne Desgagnés

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Planetary Gas Chamber not “Climate Change”

Planetary Gas Chamber not “Climate Change”

We have been aware that burning fossil fuels would alter, destabilise and warm the atmosphere since at least 1847 and the narrative has been controlled since shortly thereafter.

Had we described the phenomenon as creating what it is, a “Planetary Gas Chamber” for most, if not all complex life on the planet, perhaps we might have acted to save the biosphere rather than perpetuate the extraction industry which is in the accelerating process of incinerating the entire ecosystem.

What an incredible irony that a Republican Congressman from the USA was the first person (that I am aware of, feel free to correct me below if I’m wrong) to give a lecture on human induced climate change.

We have been through a raft of ‘slogans’ that have all downplayed the reality that the unfettered incineration of fossil fuels would negatively alter the atmospheric energy and ‘Green House Gas’ balance. “Green House”, such an innocuous term for an existential threat, tailored to not scare the serfs.
A near-forgotten speech made by a US congressman warned of global warming and the mismanagement of natural resources in 1847
The 1847 lecture that predicted human-induced climate change.

“But I would argue his defining moment came on 30 September 1847, when, as a congressman for the Whig party (a forerunner of the Republican party), he gave a lecture to the Agricultural Society of Rutland County, Vermont. (The speech was published a year later.) It proved to be the intellectual spark that led him to go on and publish in 1864 his best-known work, Man and Nature: Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action.”

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Is the Energy Transition Taking Off—or Hitting a Wall?

Forecast cloudy: Solar panels are wiped off for peak performance at The Wash Basket Laundromat, in Palmyra, Pennsylvania, in 2011. The business qualified for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program assistance to add 72 photovoltaic panels to reduce electrical demand by a third. (Photo credit: Lance Cheung, USDA/Wikimedia Commons)

With the Inflation Reduction Act, the federal government is illogically encouraging the increasing use of fossil fuels—in order to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) constitutes the boldest climate action so far by the American federal government. It offers tax rebates to buyers of electric cars, solar panels, heat pumps, and other renewable-energy and energy-efficiency equipment. It encourages the development of carbon-capture technology and promotes environmental justice by cleaning up pollution and providing renewable energy in disadvantaged communities. Does this political achievement mean that the energy transition, in the U.S. if not the world as a whole, is finally on track to achieving the goal of net zero emissions by 2050?

If only it were so.

Emissions modelers have estimated that the IRA will reduce U.S. emissions by 40 percent by 2030. But, as Benjamin Storrow at Scientific American has pointed out, the modelers fail to take real-world constraints into account. For one thing, building out massive new renewable energy infrastructure will require new long-distance transmission lines, and entirely foreseeable problems with permitting, materials, and local politics cast doubt on whether those lines can be built.

But perhaps the most frustrating barriers to grid modernization are the political ones. While Texas produces a significant amount of wind and solar electricity, it is unable to share that bounty with neighboring states because it has a stand-alone grid…

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The climate movement was built for a world before climate change—it’s time for a new approach

The climate movement was built for a world before climate change—it’s time for a new approach

We need a mass movement that can deal with climate disasters by training people to both protect and mobilize their communities.

We are past the point where “stopping” climate change is really possible. With global temperature rise already above 1 degree Celsius and the window on keeping warming below 1.5 degrees rapidly closing, the consequences of decades of political inaction and corporate malfeasance are already making themselves known. Every month it seems like another part of the world is being hammered by one catastrophic climate impact or another, from flooding in Puerto Rico and Pakistan to the extreme heat that melted asphalt in Europe this past summer to the wildfires raging across western North America.

In the face of this new reality, climate organizing needs to evolve. For me, this reality really struck home last summer when extreme heat and wildfires ravaged the part of Canada that I call home. Watching devastation in my own backyard in real time, I realized that spending most of adult life as climate organizer had done little to prepare me to support my community in actually dealing with the impacts of climate change. Sure, we could organize around these impacts to demand more from the government, but that didn’t feel like enough. I spent a lot of sleepless nights thinking about this and, eventually, it led me to head back to school to become a paramedic.

Through my schooling, and now working as a first responder, I came to another realization: If we want to build the kind of mass movement that can tackle this crisis, we need to think about equipping communities with the skills and tools to deal with climate impacts…

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Logging industry targeted B.C. old-growth forests for more than a century, SFU study finds

Logging industry targeted B.C. old-growth forests for more than a century, SFU study finds

Ken Lertzman’s paper shows between 1860 and 2016, 87 per cent of logging took place in old-growth forests

A man in a raincoat walks past a giant tree in a forest.
A man walks past an old growth tree in Avatar Grove near Port Renfrew, B.C. A new paper published by Simon Fraser University professor Ken Lertzman shows that decades of logging on the province’s Central Coast targeted the highest-value forests first. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

The worsening effects of climate change are compounding the historical loss of British Columbia’s old-growth forests, says the co-author of a new paper that shows decades of logging on the province’s Central Coast targeted the highest-value forests first.

“History tells us that we have really depleted these high-value elements of the landscape and that we can’t keep going,” said Ken Lertzman, professor emeritus at Simon Fraser University’s school of resource and environmental management.

“At the same time, [forests] have never been under greater threat from natural disturbances that are driven by a changing climate.”

Some forests have been set aside for logging because of their ecological and cultural value, only to be scorched by increasingly severe wildfires, he added.

That’s the reality today’s policy-making must reflect when it comes to determining how B.C.’s forests will be valued and used in years to come, Lertzman said.

Vital old growth first to be cut

The paper published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined more than 150 years of logging across 8,550 square kilometres of forests around Bella Bella on B.C.’s Central Coast.

Of nearly 570 square kilometres logged in the area between 1860 and 2016, 87 per cent of that logging took place in old-growth forests starting in 1970, it shows.

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Humanity’s Biggest Crisis Since WW2?

Humanity’s Biggest Crisis Since WW2?

UCSB Scientists See the End of ‘Normal’ Climate

UCSB Scientists See the End of ‘Normal’ Climate

Researcher Asks: ‘What Happens If You Know the Drought Is Never Going to End?’

Credit: Courtesy

“We are experiencing extreme, sustained drought conditions in California and across the American West caused by hotter, drier weather,” states the plan. “Our warming climate means that a greater share of the rain and snowfall we receive will be absorbed by dry soils, consumed by thirsty plants, and evaporated into the air.”

The plan says that steadily rising temperatures will overcome even a year or two of better-than-average or average rainfall in Southern California — as in 2018 and 2019 — and will not close what state officials call an “evaporative gap” that threatens California’s water supply.

This new state plan follows the climate science on “aridification.” That’s the scientific term for the “drying trend” that young climate scientist Samantha Stevenson of UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Engineering identified this year in an extensive global study of the 21st-century hydroclimate.

Danielle Touma | Credit: Courtesy

Stevenson said that she wanted to provoke new thinking about what we call drought.

“Drought is already normal in much of the western United States and other parts of the world, such as western Europe,” Stevenson said. “Part of the reason I wrote the paper was to try to say that we need to think about what we mean when we say ‘drought,’ because we’ve been using these definitions based on expectations from 40 years ago. What happens if you know the drought is never going to end?”

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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