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‘Devastating to See’: Russia’s Orenburg Region Battles Historic Flood

‘Devastating to See’: Russia’s Orenburg Region Battles Historic Flood

Experts say the floods, which have caught the authorities off-guard and left many people to fend for themselves, are just a preview of what is yet to come in the climate crisis.

A view of a flood-hit area in the town of Orsk.Yegor Aleyev / TASS

ORENBURG REGION, Russia – Russia’s southern Orenburg region has been grappling with its worst flooding in decades, with 55 cities and towns fully or partially flooded and thousands evacuated in an unprecedented emergency.

Footage from the cities of Orsk and Orenburg showed entire neighborhoods submerged underwater, with volunteers and emergency workers on inflatable dinghies rescuing people and animals trapped in their homes.

Experts say the floods, which have caught the authorities off-guard and left many people to fend for themselves, are just the beginning of what is yet to come in the climate crisis.

“The scale of the flood is colossal. Many areas, many houses are underwater,” said Oleg, a resident of Orsk, the Ural Mountains city hardest hit by the disaster.

“We need to rebuild and keep rebuilding. I think it will take a lot of time, but [it will be possible] if the authorities help people,” he told The Moscow Times.

In Orenburg, the regional capital, the river embankment, several neighborhoods and a few settlements outside the city have been submerged since the end of last week.

Despite days of round-the-clock rescue efforts, there is still no end in sight to the crisis. Hydrologists expect the Ural River to rise even higher in Orenburg on Wednesday, and the Kremlin said that the neighboring Kurgan and Tyumen regions face “difficult days ahead.”

Russia on Sunday declared a federal state of emergency in the Orenburg region, a move that allows federal forces to get involved in efforts to combat the flooding.

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Climate Crisis-Scientist Rings the Alarm, “We are witnessing consequences of our inaction unfold in real-time.”

Climate Crisis-“It turns out the climate is changing for the worse far quicker than predicted by early climate models.

Climate change is taking affect in an era defined by soaring temperatures and escalating environmental perils, the release of Bill McGuire’s latest work, Hothouse Earth,” resonates with striking urgency.

As humanity grapples with the profound consequences of climate change, McGuire, an esteemed emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, delivers a sobering narrative that lays bare the stark realities of our planet’s impending climatic catastrophe. In this comprehensive exploration, we delve into McGuire’s compelling analysis, examining the profound implications of his insights and the imperative for decisive action in the face of escalating environmental threats.

Against the backdrop of record-high temperatures and intensifying climate extremes, McGuire’s points out our planet’s perilous trajectory. With a career spanning decades in the field of geophysical and climate hazards, McGuire brings a wealth of expertise to bear on the urgent question of climate change.

From unprecedented heatwaves to catastrophic floods and devastating wildfires, McGuire paints a vivid portrait of the profound disruptions wrought by climate change on ecosystems and societies worldwide.

Beyond the Tipping Point: Understanding Climate Breakdown

At the heart of McGuire’s analysis lies a sobering recognition: we have crossed the threshold into an era of irreversible climate breakdown. Despite decades of warnings and mounting scientific evidence, humanity has failed to heed the call for urgent action on climate change. Now, as McGuire warns, we are witnessing the consequences of our inaction unfold in real-time.

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The Delusions of Davos and Dubai – Part Three: Alternatives to Wind & Solar Energy

The Delusions of Davos and Dubai – Part Three: Alternatives to Wind & Solar Energy

If the delusional but dead serious demands coming out of the international climate crisis community are to be believed, and as documented in the earlier two segments of this report, achieving universal energy security in the world will require wind energy capacity to increase by a factor of 60, while solar capacity increases by a factor of 100. The mix between wind and solar can vary, of course, but the required overall increase is indisputable. As noted in Part One of this report, that would be a very best-case scenario, where extraordinary improvements in energy efficiency meant that total energy production worldwide would only have to increase to 1,000 exajoules per year, from an estimated 600 exajoules in 2022.

Finally, and as explained in Part Two, this is preposterous. Wind and solar energy cannot possibly increase in global capacity by a multiple of 50-100 times. It is utterly infeasible. As noted, “The uptick in mining, the land consumed, the expansion of transmission lines, the necessity for a staggering quantity of electricity storage assets to balance these intermittent sources, the vulnerability of wind and solar farms to weather events including deep freezes, tornadoes, and hail, and the stupefying task of doing it all over again every 20-30 years as the wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, and storage batteries reach the end of their useful lives—all of this suggests procuring 90+ percent of global energy from wind and solar energy is a fool’s errand.”

One may nonetheless argue that other forms of energy can supplement wind and solar in order to still fulfill the climate community’s goal to completely displace oil, natural gas, and coal. But what then, and in what proportions? Here are the alternatives:

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Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXXI–Beware the Snake Oil Salesmen: Climate Change and Elite Confabs

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXXI

November 2, 2021

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Beware the Snake Oil Salesmen: Climate Change and Elite Confabs

So, dozens of political leaders, their hundreds of staff, multitudes of corporate leaders, and who knows how many ‘celebrities’ have all gathered in Glasgow, Scotland for an elite confab (#26) to discuss the ‘Climate Crisis’. Heaven knows how many resources have been extracted and pollutants dispersed in this latest political theatre (mostly? all? at taxpayer expense). The irony is not lost on many, except perhaps much of the mainstream media that tends to simply regurgitate political media releases and share simplistic narratives for exceedingly complex issues — it is indeed difficult to get someone to understand something if their income depends on them not understanding it.

So, dozens of political leaders, their hundreds of staff, multitudes of corporate leaders, and who knows how many ‘celebrities’ have all gathered in Glasgow, Scotland for an elite confab (#26) to discuss the ‘Climate Crisis’. Heaven knows how many resources have been extracted and pollutants dispersed in this latest political theatre (mostly? all? at taxpayer expense). The irony is not lost on many, except perhaps much of the mainstream media that tends to simply regurgitate political media releases and share simplistic narratives for exceedingly complex issues — it is indeed difficult to get someone to understand something if their income depends on them not understanding it.

Needless to say I expect little of substance to result from this event. In fact, I am increasingly seeing this event as an expo for marketing of ‘green/clean’ energy products (and making sure most? all? countries pursue purchasing them) that do not address our fundamental predicament — ecological overshoot — of which greenhouse gases is but one negative consequence (and not even the worst). And, of course, all of this provides the justification to create trillions of more dollars out of thin air (the debt held by a variety of the ruling class) that will be funnelled towards specific industries (owned by others of the ruling class) while doing little to reduce actual consumption or ecologically-destructive extraction industries.

This is increasingly looking not like a problem that can be solved but a predicament that may at best be mitigated on the margins. One of the most significant dilemmas, however, appears to be the ‘solutions’ that are being bandied about also appear to be the ones that will simply make the situation worse: increasing technology and complexities in the form of ‘renewables’.

The evidence is accumulating quickly that ‘renewables’ (which aren’t really because they require lots of non-renewable, finite resources in perpetuity) are neither ‘green’, nor ‘clean’, nor ‘sustainable’. They require the fossil fuel platform at every level of their production, maintenance, and after-life disposal, and depend upon a variety of rare-earth minerals whose procurement wreak havoc on the environment. The entire ‘renewable’ narrative is appearing more and more like a sham meant primarily to market products and support business as usual than do anything about reducing our ecological destruction and carbon footprint (and keep in mind that our current debt/credit-based monetary/economic/financial systems are all predicated on growth in perpetuity — they will most certainly collapse without it).

If we are not discussing significant degrowth, however (and we’re not because there’s no money to be made from it and the primary motivation of the ruling class, who control the mainstream narratives, is the control/expansion of the wealth-generating systems that provide their revenue streams), then it would seem we are just creating stories to sell more stuff and people tend to accept them readily because they reduce cognitive dissonance — we recognise we live on a finite planet and infinite growth is not possible (except through extreme magical, Cargo Cult-like thinking) but want to also believe that we can continue to live in our energy- and resource-intensive lifestyles uninterrupted and without significant sacrifice.

Basically, the snake oil salesmen of the world are, as they often (always?) do, leveraging our fear over a crisis (or crises) to enrich themselves mightily. We are being led to follow a path that actually exacerbates the predicament of overshoot rather than reduces the harm caused by us blowing past the biophysical limits imposed by a finite planet.

Sad on so many levels.

The Harsh Truth: We’re Using More Oil Than Ever

In this age of climate crisis, the world is consuming more crude than ever. Peak oil demand? Not yet. Maybe one day, perhaps even soon, around 2030. For now, however, the global economy still runs on oil.

It will take a while before governments certify it, but every piece of data points in the very same direction: In the past few weeks, global oil demand has surpassed the monthly peak set in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic.Expressed in barrels a day, the fresh record high in global oil consumption totals about 102.5 million, likely hit in the last few weeks in July and above the 102.3 million of August 2019. Picture this: We use enough crude to fill about 6,500 Olympic-size swimming pools every day. More than a third of those swimming pools would be needed to quench the thirst of two countries: the US and China.

It’s not unexpected.  The International Energy Agency, which compiles benchmark supply and demand statistics, has anticipated it for months. It was just a question of timing, since oil demand surges during the northern hemisphere summer, when millions of European and American families guzzle gasoline and jet fuel during their holidays. The wholesale cost of refined products, such as gasoline, is surging too.

Granted, the new demand milestone is just one flimsy data point. Global oil consumption statistics are routinely revised, and a final figure probably won’t be set in stone until next year, or even 2025. The margin of error is relatively wide, too, probably at least 1 million barrels a day. But experience indicates that demand is typically revised higher, rather than lower.

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World close to ‘irreversible’ climate breakdown, warn major studies

Key UN reports published in last two days warn urgent and collective action needed – as oil firms report astronomical profits

The climate crisis has reached a “really bleak moment”, one of the world’s leading climate scientists has said, after a slew of major reports laid bare how close the planet is to catastrophe.

Collective action is needed by the world’s nations more now than at any point since the second world war to avoid climate tipping points, Prof Johan Rockström said, but geopolitical tensions are at a high.

He said the world was coming “very, very close to irreversible changes … time is really running out very, very fast”.

Emissions must fall by about half by 2030 to meet the internationally agreed target of 1.5C of heating but are still rising, the reports showed – at a time when oil giants are making astronomical amounts of money.

On Thursday, Shell and TotalEnergies both doubled their quarterly profits to about $10bn. Oil and gas giants have enjoyed soaring profits as post-Covid demand jumps and after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The sector is expected to amass $4tn in 2022, strengthening calls for heavy windfall taxes to address the cost of living crisis and fund the clean energy transition.

All three of the key UN agencies have produced damning reports in the last two days. The UN environment agency’s report found there was “no credible pathway to 1.5C in place” and that “woefully inadequate” progress on cutting carbon emissions means the only way to limit the worst impacts of the climate crisis is a “rapid transformation of societies”.

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Veterans target US military’s outsized impact on the climate crisis

Veterans target US military’s outsized impact on the climate crisis

With no mention of military emissions at COP26, a coalition is mobilizing to force the Pentagon to disclose and reduce its enormous carbon footprint.

More than 100,000 people protested the United Nations Climate Change Convention, or COP26, in Glasgow last month, where they networked, forged alliances and made clear their opposition to the status quo.

“There have been 25 COPs before this one, and every year leaders come to these climate negotiations with an array of new pledges, commitments and promises and as each COP comes and goes, emissions continue to rise,” Ugandan delegate Vanessa Nakate said. “I hope you can appreciate that we may be skeptical when the largest delegation here … does not belong to a country but instead belongs to the fossil fuel industry.”

There were in fact more than 500 delegates in attendance at the conference with ties to the fossil fuel industry, or twice the number of indigenous delegates.

Scientists from within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, acting out of fear that their reports would be watered down, leaked part of the IPCC report months ahead of schedule. The report provided critical information about the huge energy consumption of wealthy populations and the need for them to adopt lifestyle changes in order to avoid civilizational collapse.

Additionally, Greenpeace UK reported that more than 30,000 leaked files show corporations and nations, including petrostate Saudi Arabia and OPEC, pressured the IPCC to focus on potential technological solutions and exclude language calling for phasing out fossil fuels. In the end, COP26’s weakened language called for a “phase-down of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” rather than the “phase-out of fossil fuels.”

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The climate war won’t work

The climate war won’t work

There are, in fact, no human comparisons for the effort required to reverse the global-scale damage wrought by 300 years of industrial growth.  Nevertheless, people still reach for past human endeavours to try to spur our political leaders to an action which, in truth, is far beyond them.  How many times have we heard that tackling climate change requires an effort similar in scale to the Apollo moon landings or the Manhattan Project?  And then there is the stubbornly undead comparison to the Second World War.  Every time we think we have successfully driven a stake through the heart of this insane proposition, someone who has failed to understand what the war was really about, resurrects it and drafts it into service in the fight against climate change.

Today it is everyone’s favourite media environmentalist George Monbiot’s turn to suggest that:

“The astonishing story of how the US entered the second world war should be on everyone’s minds as Cop26 approaches.”

Monbiot gives a reasonable summary of the various measures taken by the Roosevelt Administration to mobilise the US economy for war in the wake of Pearl Harbour.  Then he asks:

“So what stops the world from responding with the same decisive force to the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced? It’s not a lack of money or capacity or technology. If anything, digitisation would make such a transformation quicker and easier. It’s a problem that Roosevelt faced until Pearl Harbor: a lack of political will. Now, just as then, public hostility and indifference, encouraged by legacy industries (today, above all, fossil fuel, transport, infrastructure, meat and media), outweighs the demand for intervention…

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Colonialism, climate crisis, and the forever wars

Colonialism, climate crisis, and the forever wars

Two rounds of negotiation take centre stage, about halfway through Amitav Ghosh’s new masterwork The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis.

In one, US State Department and Pentagon officials win agreement that carbon emissions connected with the military are to be kept out of the Kyoto Protocol – an omission that has been preserved in international climate agreements to this day.

At the opposite end of the global power hierarchy, Khokon, a refugee from the Kishoreganj district of Bangladesh, has engaged in desperate negotiations simply to stay alive. His family’s low-lying land had been flooded for six months, followed by long droughts, hailstorms, and unseasonal downpours. The environmental degradation was followed by political depredations, as well-connected people seized increasingly scarce arable land including part of Khokon’s family’s farm. Eventually there was no better option than to sell some land and send Khokon to France – but he was quickly deported back to Bangladesh. There was no paid employment for him so after seven months of hopelessness, 

“his family sold the rest of their land and paid another agent to send him abroad again. Dubai was Khokon’s chosen destination, and he paid accordingly; but the agent cheated him and he ended up in Libya instead. For the next several years he had to endure enslavement, beatings, extortion, and torture. But somehow he managed to save up enough money to pay traffickers to send him from Libya to Sicily in a ramshackle boat.” (all quoted material in this article is from The Nutmeg’s Curse by Amitav Ghosh, published by University of Chicago Press, October 2021)

Khokon was penniless, traumatized – but unlike many others he survived the voyage. Assisted by support groups for refugees and by relatives, he was able to stay in Italy and get a job at a warehouse in Parma.

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

Solving the climate crisis requires the end of capitalism

Solving the climate crisis requires the end of capitalism

Overcoming the climate crisis will require a shift away from our growth-based, corporate-dominated global system

General view during the Global Climate Strike March on October 02, 2020 in Durban, South Africa. According to media reports, the group demanded that individuals and governments must take stronger action against the effects of climate change and the emittance of the greenhouse gas. (Darren Stewart/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

General view during the Global Climate Strike March on October 02, 2020 in Durban, South Africa. According to media reports, the group demanded that individuals and governments must take stronger action against the effects of climate change and the emittance of the greenhouse gas. (Darren Stewart/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

The global conversation regarding climate change has, for the most part, ignored the elephant in the room. That’s strange, because this particular elephant is so large, obvious, and all-encompassing that politicians and executives must contort themselves to avoid naming it publicly. That elephant is called capitalism, and it is high time to face the fact that, as long as capitalism remains the dominant economic system of our globalized world, the climate crisis won’t be resolved.

As the crucial UN climate talks known as COP26 (short for “Conference of the Parties”) approach in early November, the public has grown increasingly aware that the stakes have never been higher. What were once ominous warnings of future climate shocks wrought by wildfires, floods, and droughts have now become a staple of the daily news. Yet governments are failing to meet their own emissions pledges from the Paris agreement six years ago, which were themselves acknowledged to be inadequate. Increasingly, respected Earth scientists are warning, not just about the devastating effects of climate breakdown on our daily lives, but about the potential collapse of civilization itself unless we drastically change direction.

The elephant in the room

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The Coming Climate Crisis Shakedown in Scotland

 

The Coming Climate Crisis Shakedown in Scotland

In 2016, an inconceivable event aborted the Paris climate scheme. The Americans elected Donald Trump. Calling the Paris deal a rip-off of his country, Trump swiftly pulled the U.S. out of the accords. Upon what grounds? Put simply, America First.

“Follow the money!”

The old maxim is always sound advice when assessing the motives of those advancing bold agendas for the benefit of mankind.

Invariably, the newest progressive idea entails a transfer of wealth from the taxpaying classes of Western nations to our transnational, global and Third World elites.

For the masters of the universe, establishing justice and equality for the world’s poor are rewarding exercises in every sense of the word.

Consider the 2015 Paris climate accords.

Its declared goal: Save the planet from the ravages of climate change, which is caused by carbon dioxide emissions, which are produced by industrial nations with too many of the world’s factories, farms, ships, planes and autos.

Under the Paris accords, wealthier nations of the West were to set and meet strict national targets for reducing their carbon emissions.

Together, these reductions were to prevent any rise in the planet’s temperature of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

This was presented as the world’s last best hope of preventing a climate catastrophe in this century.

Among the warnings the climate has been sending us:

The melting of polar ice caps, killer hurricanes, droughts, wildfires such as we had this year in California, river floods in Europe, rising sea levels, and the swamping of coastal towns, cities and islands like the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.

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What if we treated the climate emergency as seriously as we treated COVID–19?

What if we treated the climate emergency as seriously as we treated COVID–19?

Prof Alice Larkin, University of Manchester, argues that, if our society were really serious about tackling climate change, we would put much greater priority on social and economic change – as shown by the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Article from Responsible Science Journal, no.3; advance online publication: 29 June 2021.
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I’ve learnt two important lessons so far from the pandemic. The first is that change can take place quickly and the second is that government and societal priorities can shift dramatically to tackle an emergency.

My third observation is not a lesson as such but something that has sparked my interest. It is that, in the same way that climate science and scientists find themselves scrutinised for clear facts when policy makers are faced with the need to engage with the science, so our medical colleagues find themselves and their science also thrust into this spotlight.

It is even more the case now that they too are now tackling some of the same economic questions, in the terms of the ‘GDP versus science’ debate that many climate researchers have been dealing with for decades.

Policy-makers don’t yet consider climate change an emergency

So what can be harnessed from these lessons to tackle the climate emergency? The pandemic became all-consuming, leading to rapid policy, social and media responses that I suspect hasn’t been experienced by any of us before in our lifetimes. As such, it draws attention to how little credence has been given to the term ‘emergency’ in a climate rather than a COVID-19 context.

First, on the speed of response and government priorities, I’ve spent the last 18 years trying to understand the scale of the climate emergency and how our energy systems need to transform to minimise cumulative carbon emissions…

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The Climate Crisis: Interview with Social Psychologist Kelly Fielding

Kelly Fielding is a social and environmental psychologist and Professor in the School of Communication and Arts at The University of Queensland, Australia. Her research has included a focus on trying to understand climate change beliefs and identifying ways to address climate change skepticism and inaction. The interview took place 7 July, 2021.

AA: What are your thoughts and feelings about the climate crisis?

KF: I feel a lot of despair. Part of me thinks I’m not supposed to feel that, because I have PhD students working in this area, for example I’ve got a PhD student working on eco-anxiety. Probably like most people who work in this space and really care about this issue, I experience a range of feelings. Those range from, yes we will make it happen to wanting to throw up my hands in the air. A lot of the research on emotions and climate change has focused on the role of hope and the role of fear, and anger and despair and frustration. I feel all of these things in relation to climate change. You know, one of my PhD students did a meta-analysis of all the recent media articles on eco-anxiety. It was interesting that the media articles mainly focus on children and young people. I think that’s because, as an adult, you’re probably better at compartmentalizing. You say to yourself, there is a scary thing over here, climate change, but meanwhile I need to get on with these other things.

AA: You have done much to characterize the underlying attitudes, vested interests and ideologies that relate to skepticism about human-caused climate change. Is that work complete, or is there more to understand? 

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Canadian Banks Have an Outsized Impact on Global Fossil Fuel Financing

Canadian Banks Have an Outsized Impact on Global Fossil Fuel Financing

We pledged to reduce emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, but will financial institutions undermine this goal?

When 18-year-old climate activist Naisha Khan wants to start a conversation about how banking fuels climate change, she asks someone how they think their bank makes money to pay them interest each month.

If that person banks with any of Canada’s five largest banks, that money likely comes partly from fossil fuels. But Canadian banks don’t just make money from fossil fuels — they’re also financing the industry, big time.

Canada has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, but since the 2015 Paris Agreement the country’s five largest banks have poured $726 billion into fossil fuels, according to environmental advocacy organization Stand.earth.

That’s based on numbers from the Rainforest Action Network’s latest annual analysis of the world’s largest 60 banks.

Ranked by the amount of financing they’ve provided to fossil fuel companies since 2016, the Royal Bank of Canada comes in fifth in the world with US$160 billion. TD Bank is ninth at US$129 billion, Scotiabank is 11th at US$114 billion, the Bank of Montreal is 16th at US$97 billion and CIBC is 22nd at US$67 billion.

Stand.earth adds up this financing and converts it to Canadian dollars using the average exchange rate for the five-year period of C$1.28 to US$1.

When asked by the CBC why it continues to fund fossil fuel projects, RBC “reaffirmed its commitment to net zero emissions, including a promise of $500 billion in sustainable finance by 2025,” the broadcaster reported. “It said it was also the first bank to commit not to lend to resource projects in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”

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Why I am not a climate doomist

Why I am not a climate doomist

People power is changing the story

The people-powered climate movement is taking the issue to the streets and changing the story. That is the key to leaving a planet with which our chuldren can cope.

Some of my best friends are climate doomists, and I know why. A set of negative and potent trends feed doomism.  Temperatures keep hitting new records, as do carbon concentrations in the atmosphere.  We’re back to carbon levels not seen for three to five million years. Fossil fuel use keeps increasing. And feedback loops are already churning. From the Amazon, where rainforests have turned from one of the planet’s great carbon storage reservoirs to a net emitter, to the poles, where ice is disappearing at rapid rates. There are lots of reasons to believe we’ve already crossed the line, and coming generations will be wracked by uncontained climate chaos.

Despite all that, I am not a doomist, and believe we still have possibilities to leave our children and their generations with a world with which they can cope.  After many years working on climate, that is how I express my climate mission.  There is no doubt that humanity will be adapting to the consequences of our fossil-fueled bacchanal for generations, if not millennia. We will be learning to live with far less water in certain regions, and too much in others.  We will be dealing with dustbowls where there were breadbaskets, and retreating from coastal cities. Storms will be ravaging, and wildfires widespread. But we will be coping, and will have eliminated the root causes of climate chaos, fossil fuel pollution and deforestation.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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