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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”.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

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.”

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

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…

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

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

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

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.

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

 

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.
_____

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…

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

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? 

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

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.”

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

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.

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

 Is Earth’s climate about to pass the tipping point?

Ferran Puig Vilar. CEDIDA POR EL ENTREVISTADOEd. note: This article first appeared in Spanish here. This is an interview with an expert (Ferran Puig Vilar) and award-winning author of a climate blog on tipping points. Photo credit: Ferran Puig Vilar. CEDIDA POR EL ENTREVISTADO

The straw that breaks the camel’s back. The last time the axe hits the tree before it falls. The last profitable barrel to be extracted from an oil well. There are many examples of Tipping points (TP). Although tipping points and points of no return are the buzzwords of our times, we should probably be using them more than we are.

A range of studies have long indicated that attention should be paid to the effects of climate change on subsystems such as the Amazon, Greenland ice or permafrost. These effects have been debated for more than 20 years. Since then, thousands of pages have been written describing their interrelationships, warning of a coming disaster. As in this article published in Nature by key figures in climate science, or this article published in National Geographic. However, despite the seriousness of the issue, mainstream media silence remains thunderous. We can even hear climate change deniers on prime time TV.

We ask engineer and climate journalist Ferran Puig Vilar, who is publishing a special report on tipping points, and has been doing amazing work on climate education in his prestigious, prize-winning blog for more than a decade:

What is a climate tipping point?

It is an inflection point in the equilibrium of a significant element or subsystem (permafrost, Amazon, thermohaline current, Greenland) whose overshoot destabilizes it and generates a phase change, bringing the system to a new state that may – or may not – be one of equilibrium. There are 15 specified, 9 of which are in the degradation phase or have already been passed. They interrelate with each other causing knock-on effects.

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

350 Canada’s “Climate Science Basics” fail the acid test of science reporting excellence

350 Canada’s “Climate Science Basics” fail the acid test of science reporting excellence

Its climate crisis assertions border on the fraudulent; they’re “misleading, overly simplistic, and sometimes, factually false.” —

No 2723 Posted by fw, March 30, 2021 —

On Wednesday April 7, 2021, Amara Possian of 350.org sent an email to followers bearing the Subject line “We’re launching something big today.” The message expressed dissatisfaction with Justin Trudeau’s failure “to tackle climate change,” and called on followers to “Sign the petition to call on federal Green Party Leader Annamie Paul and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to form a Climate Emergency Alliance.”

As a follower of 350 Canada, I received Amara’s email. Disappointed with with the absence of any scientific facts to support the claim of “the climate crisis,” mentioned in the email, I did not sign the petition.

Instead, using the return address 350canada@350.org, I immediately replied to the email. Opening with the salutation “Dear Amara –”,  I candidly began: “If 350 were genuinely interested in the climate crisis, it would be reporting on the contributions of top climate scientists and experts in related disciplines. As things stand, 350’s apparent misunderstanding of the nature and scope of humanity’s global existential crises broaches on the fraudulent; one might be tempted to suggest your oversight of the facts is intentional.

I suggested to Amara that, for her own edification, she should look at the recent works of seven climate scientists, and researchers in related fields. I listed their names, academic qualifications, and links to a recent article or video presentation. (See the list at the bottom of this post).

*****

On April 13, I received this follow-up email from Chris –

Hi Frank,

Thanks for these links. Yes, I know the situation is dire and that our growth-obsessed economic system is to blame, but what are you proposing exactly?…

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

The Climate Crisis Discriminates. Maps Tell the Story

The Climate Crisis Discriminates. Maps Tell the Story

How data visualizers are helping to plan to support Cascadia’s most vulnerable communities. Next in a series.

[Editor’s note: This is the latest in a year-long occasional series of articles produced by InvestigateWest in partnership with The Tyee and other news organizations exploring what it will take to shift the Cascadia region to a zero-carbon economy, and is supported in part by the Fund for Investigative Journalism. ]

When climate change triggers heatwaves, fire or flood in the Cascadia bioregion stretching from Oregon to British Columbia, some communities will be whacked worse than others — even just miles apart.

“You can have neighbourhoods right next to one another and one may be twice as bad off during a flood. Not because they’re more flooded. But because their housing is worse,” said Michael Brauer, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health.

Maps commissioned as part of InvestigateWest’s yearlong reporting project, Getting to Zero: Decarbonizing Cascadia, span Washington and Oregon and provide digital windows into vulnerabilities that are likely to worsen with climate change. Montana-based Headwaters Economics created the interactive visualizations using a pair of powerful mapping tools that the community planning firm launched last year.

The maps created for this project are an example of tools that are seeing growing use in Cascadia, where equity advocates, academic researchers and governments are teaming up to create new data-driven methods to identify and address unequal environmental risks.

At UBC, Brauer also has developed various maps projecting the climate crisis’s uneven effects on communities, ranging from wildfire smoke to flooding and ozone concentrations.

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

Mass Education and the Climate Crisis: Lessons from the Pandemic (Part 2)

This is part two of a five-part essay that highlights lessons from the coronavirus pandemic which could advance the fight for a Green New Deal. Part one (published on Resilience.org here) argues that money is not scarce. Part two argues that control of government policy by wealthy elites tends to produce unnecessary suffering and inadequate responses to major crises. Part three argues that plutocracy is incompatible with serious climate action. Part four explores how the public can easily draw very different conclusions and argues that the climate movement must undertake mass education to ensure these lessons are learned. Part five outlines a broad curriculum containing these lessons and many more.

Lesson 2: Plutocracy’s Deadly Cruelty

Many Americans recognize that their government does not represent them. Political scientists have shown that we live in a vastly unequal society where the wealthiest individuals and large corporations control not only the economy, but the political system as well. When the policy preferences of the superrich diverge from the rest of the population, those are the policies typically implemented. Though it possesses some essential elements of a democracy, the US political system often operates as a form of plutocracy. However, discussions of politics tend to explore the surface phenomenon of Democratic and Republican politicians’ approaches to social issues like the pandemic. Seldom does the public hear serious discussion about how political decisions reflect the dynamics of a profit-maximizing economy and the priorities of the wealthy elites that control both parties.

Many crises facing society can be explained simply by reference to the economic goal of profit maximization. When greed is an economy’s central organizing principle, it means that financial self-interest is pursued even at the expense of diverse public interests…

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

 

Yes, the U.S. can go carbon neutral by 2050, says new Princeton study

Princeton Net ZeroDavid McNew / Getty Images

Yes, the U.S. can go carbon neutral by 2050, says new Princeton study

The month of December opened with good news and bad news for people concerned about the climate crisis.

A climate analysis released by the independent watchdog group Climate Action Tracker said that based on promises made by Paris Climate Agreement participants, the world could limit warming to 2.1 degrees C (3.8 degrees F) by the year 2100. Countries including Japan, South Korea, and China have promised to reach zero emissions by 2060. And while the U.S. isn’t currently a part of the agreement, President-elect Joe Biden plans to rejoin next month and has set a rigorous net-zero promise for 2050.

But the next day, another report threw cold water on that hopeful note, pointing out that many of these countries were not on track to keep their emissions promises. In fact, the study, which explores the gaps between Paris agreement goals and reality, found that countries are planning to increase fossil fuel production by 2 percent annually on average, which would push global temperature rise well past 2.1 degrees C by 2100.

Into that conversation comes a Princeton University report, published Tuesday, that presents several plausible paths for the U.S. to arrive at net-zero emissions by 2050 (complete with economic growth) — as long as government officials make swift moves to invest in sustainable infrastructure.

One such path requires an investment in solar and wind manufacturing, which offers long-term domestic employment opportunities without incurring too many additional technology costs. The caveat? Manufacturing capacity for turbines and photovoltaics would have to increase drastically by 2050 — up to 45 times for wind and 120 times for solar. These strides aren’t achievable without short-term public and political support — progress that has been difficult due to the Trump administration’s habit of burying dozens of studies outlining the promise of renewable energy infrastructure.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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