Home » Posts tagged 'climate emergency'

Tag Archives: climate emergency

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

‘There Is No Climate Emergency’: Scientists Call for Reasoned Debate

An iceberg behind houses and buildings outside the village of Innarsuit, an island settlement in the Avannaata municipality in northwestern Greenland. (Magnus Kristensen/AFP/Getty Images)
An iceberg behind houses and buildings outside the village of Innarsuit, an island settlement in the Avannaata municipality in northwestern Greenland. (Magnus Kristensen/AFP/Getty Images)

‘There Is No Climate Emergency’: Scientists Call for Reasoned Debate

The message was clear: “There is no climate emergency.”

With those five simple words, a global network of scientists and professionals attempted to inject reasonableness and decorum into what should be a robust discussion about a complex scientific and public policy issue, but has instead degenerated into an ever more intense mud-slinging contest over the years.

People on one side of the argument dismiss their opponents as wild-eyed socialists attempting to leverage public fear and ignorance to further their political agenda. On the opposite side, people dismiss those who disagree with their supposedly settled scientific conclusions as nothing more than knowing shills or ignorant dupes of evil energy interests.

In between those extremes that are so popular with armies of public relations professionals, who shape the messages of public interest groups and professional politicians to maximum effect, are a not-so-quiet silent majority of scientists and professionals who take a more measured, reasoned view of the science when considering the supposed climate emergency some say we’re facing.

A group of 500-some scientists and professionals signed on to the “European Climate Declaration” that was released last week. This simple, short, and understandable statement proposed how analysis of any public policy issue involving complex science should be approached from a reasoned, fact-based perspective.

Statements such as “97 percent of climatologists agree that anthropogenic climate change is occurring” isn’t a statement of fact, it’s an opinion twice removed. It’s an opinion that involves evaluation of the legitimacy of how the results of the poll in question were sorted to dismiss some answers and allow others, and it’s an opinion in terms of how representative the sample size is with respect to all climate professionals.

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

A Sea Change Moment?

A Sea Change Moment?

Tomorrow begins Global Climate Strike Week, led by young people to demand urgent action to address the climate emergency. What many hope will be a sea change moment in the struggle to mobilize a real response to this existential threat had a humble start a year ago when a young Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, began spending her Fridays protesting in front of the Swedish Parliament. Inspired by Greta’s example—and her blunt, uncompromising stance—millions of students have since joined her in the “Fridays for the Future” movement. This week is an opportunity for the rest of us to participate.

I will be out on the streets tomorrow and the following Friday in my hometown, and I’ll be joining a number of other activities planned locally over the coming week. PCI is supporting our staff to actively participate in the various communities where they live. We’d like to encourage you to do the same. Visit the Climate Strike website to find activities near you.

I’ll be honest, I’m not much of a protester. But if nothing else, this week presents an opportunity to show younger generations—who will be dealing disproportionately, and unfairly, with the consequences of previous generations’ profligate burning of fossil fuels—that we hear and see them, and support them to take agency.

That said, we will utterly fail them (not to mention future generations and the millions of species who have equal rights to a livable planet) if we simply go back to life-as-usual come October.

This crisis is, quite simply, wicked. As a member of the Post Carbon Institute/resilience.org extended family, you understand that the climate emergency is one of a broader, more complex set of crises that will force an almost unimaginable set of changes to virtually every aspect of modern life — whether we make those changes proactively or are dragged there.

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

Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity

Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Current conditions represent a political emergency of sorts, meaning that ways of solving environmental and social problems will either be worked out or circumstances, led by the environment, will assume a life of their own. Given that these conditions are the result of historical processes that were decades and centuries in the making, understanding how we got here is crucial to resolving them.

The relevant ‘we’ here is being redefined through the relation of late-stage capitalism to the world. Climate change and species loss are shifting boundaries, shrinking the universe of arable land, breathable air and drinkable water. Fortress America, previously a conflation of place with one’s status in the imperial order, is largely the source of this vengeful gravity. Political geography is about to get interesting.

In this regard, the IPCC just won’t quit issuing proclamations. Joining climate change and mass extinction is dead and dying land. It seems that you can’t just denude a few hundred million acres of arable land, destroying the ecosystems to which it belongs, without consequences. What mystical clairvoyance could have imagined such an outcome? And more to the point, what can be done about it?

With updates on the breadth and depth of environmental calamity coming fast and furious, still missing is the political path to salvation. The only certainty— as offered by the authors of said calamity, is that we, the little people who add up to 90% or thereabouts of the demos, want— nay demand, calamity. The proof: we still eat, live indoors, wear clothing and find our way to and from work.

However, this is but mere paraphrase. The direct proof is that we consume. And we do so through the social mechanisms— stores, the internet, etc., that have been provided. From this slim foundation the certainty is built that we ‘demanded’ state corporatism, a/k/a neoliberalism, a/k/a rule from above. Markets are the transfer mechanism through which the purchase of a bag of rice becomes support for industrial agriculture.

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

‘Climate Crisis’ Open Letter to Media: Who’s Responded (So Far)

‘Climate Crisis’ Open Letter to Media: Who’s Responded (So Far)

Five-point plan on Tyee finds allies in CWA union and top US journos.

SeanHolman.JPG
Journalism prof Sean Holman fired off to Canada’s news orgs a public challenge to better cover the climate crisis. Who got back? Photo by Laura Balanko-Dickson.

Now the responses are rolling in, some from beyond Canada’s borders. 

Here’s how Holman came to write the widely shared letter and what it’s helping to trigger.

As record wildfires raged out of control across B.C., spreading smoke into the Rockies and Alberta, Holman looked out the window of his Calgary home and thought about a book he’d read as a child. The World of the Future: Future Cities predicted “if drastic steps are not taken to control pollution and achieve some sort of ecological balance,” the city of the 21st century could become a “polluted pesthole.” 

The book’s image of gas-mask-wearing citizens in a dystopian streetscape choked by smog “always stuck with me,” Holman said. The view of smoke turning the sun into a sickly orange dot was strikingly similar. “That was really troubling.” The Tyee is supported by readers like you Join us and grow independent media in Canada

Even more disturbing to Holman, though, was the failure of Canadian news media to accurately report the underlying reasons for this hellscape: the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming Canada twice as fast as the rest of the world.

Holman, an investigative reporter, associate professor of journalism at Mount Royal University and an occasional Tyee contributor, found that of the 182 media pieces produced about the wildfires last summer by outlets like the Calgary Herald and Vancouver Sun, only 14 of those pieces mentioned the scientific reality that global temperature rise caused by the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities contributed to the fires’ unprecedented intensity and destruction.

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

Dear Journalists of Canada: Start Reporting Climate Change as an Emergency

Dear Journalists of Canada: Start Reporting Climate Change as an Emergency

A five-point plan for mainstream media to cover fewer Royal babies and a lot more of our unfolding global catastrophe.

Gustafson-Fire.jpg
Few media stories mentioned the demonstrable connection between the climate crisis and increasing wildfire activity in BC last summer, even though it was one of the major reasons why that season was the worst on record. Photo via the BC Wildfire Service.

To:
Karyn Pugliese, president, Canadian Association of Journalists
Martin O’Hanlon, president, CWA Canada
Fiona Conway, president, Radio Television Digital News Association
John Hinds, president and chief executive officer, News Media Canada
Jerry Dias, national president, Unifor

Cc:
Canada’s editors, news directors, publishers and station managers

On May 6, the United Nations released a scientific report warning that around a million species are threatened with extinction due to human activity, including climate change. But, according to an analysis by Media Matters for America, on the day of that release, the nightly newscasts of ABC and NBC felt it was more important that their audiences learned about the birth of the newest Royal baby — someone who will likely never have any say over their day-to-day lives. And I’ve found most of Canada’s 15 most-read English language daily broadsheets felt the same way.

Between May 6 and 7, 13 of those newspapers failed to front stories about the United Nations’ devastating finding. Instead, the National Post ran a story about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son, with 10 others teasing that birth on their front pages. Eight of the teasers were placed above-the-fold, next to a photograph, or both — drawing reader attention to pictures of Harry, Meghan and their beaming well-wishers.

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

It’s confirmed. It really is an emergency

It’s confirmed. It really is an emergency 

The latest report that charts the accelerating impacts of global warming, climate change, and mankind’s destructive impact on the natural environment lays out a grim future for over a million of the planet’s species. This warning follows hot on the heels of a Canadian government assessment that forecasts that Canada will warm twice as fast as the global average, and the startling 2018 IPCC report that meticulously laid out the evidence that even keeping global warming to 1.5°C will result in widespread social and economic disruption as climate-driven natural disasters increasingly bludgeon the planet.

The alarming report on global biodiversity published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, presents the work of more than 450 experts on biodiversity who have laboured for the last 3 years to bring together the latest assessment of the deteriorating condition of the planet’s natural environment and its biodiversity. 

The Bramble Cay melomys: already extinct

Their stark conclusion is that human actions threaten more species with global extinction than ever before. An average of about 25 % of animal and plant species are threatened, suggesting that around 1 million species face extinction within a matter of decades unless action is taken to reduce the intensity of the main drivers of biodiversity loss.

The problem is not only climate change—which is judged to be the third most destructive influence on the biosphere. The main culprit is the way mankind has radically changed and destroyed the natural landscape. Seventy-five percent of the land surface has been significantly altered, 66 percent of the of the oceans are experiencing increasing cumulative impacts, and over 85 percent of wetlands have been lost. Across much of the tropics, 32 million hectares of primary or recovering forests were cut down between 2010 and 2015—an area half the size of France.

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

UK climate emergency is official policy

UK climate emergency is official policy

Heathrow’s expansion is now in question. Image: By J Patrick Fischer, via Wikimedia Commons

Major changes in the government’s policy on fossil fuels will be vital to tackling the UK climate emergency that Parliament has recognised.

LONDON, 3 May, 2019 − The United Kingdom has taken a potentially momentous policy decision: it says there is a UK climate emergency.

On 1 May British members of Parliament (MPs) became the world’s first national legislature to declare a formal climate and environment emergency, saying they hoped they could work with like-minded countries across the world to take action to avoid more than 1.5°C of global warming.

No-one yet knows what will be the practical result of the resolution proposed by Jeremy Corbyn, the Opposition Labour leader, but UK politicians were under pressure to act following a series of high-profile strikes by school students in recent months and demonstrations by a new climate protest organisation, Extinction Rebellion (XR),  whose supporters closed roads in the centre of London for a week.

The Conservative government ordered its MPs not to oppose the Labour resolution, and it was passed without a vote.

Zero carbon by 2050

Hours after the MPs’ decision, a long-awaited detailed report by the government’s official advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, was published. It recommends cutting the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The current target is 80%.

The report says the government should accept the new target immediately, pass it into law in the next few months and begin to implement policies to achieve it. The committee says that will mean the end of petrol and diesel cars on British roads, a cut in meat consumption, an end to gas boilers for heating buildings, planting 1.5 billion trees to store carbon, a vast increase in renewable energy, and many other measures.

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

The Declare a ‘Climate Emergency’ Movement Grows as Scotland Joins

The Declare a ‘Climate Emergency’ Movement Grows as Scotland Joins

Also, UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn launched a bid to declare a climate emergency in the United Kingdom.

A banner is hung across a roadway while people participate in direct action with Extinction Rebellion on April 17, 2019 in New York City. The activists are demanding governments to declare a climate emergency.

A banner is hung across a roadway while people participate in direct action with Extinction Rebellion on April 17, 2019 in New York City. The activists are demanding governments to declare a climate emergency. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon became the first world leader to declare a “climate emergency” on Sunday.

The Scottish leader told delegates to a party conference in Edinburgh she was inspired after meeting young climate activists.

Ms. Sturgeon said: “A few weeks ago, I met some of the young climate change campaigners who’ve gone on strike from school to raise awareness of their cause.  They want governments around the world to declare a climate emergency. They say that’s what the science tells us. And they are right.”

“So today, as first minister of Scotland, I am declaring that there is a climate emergency. And Scotland will live up to our responsibility to tackle it.”

The Scottish first minister said she was declaring the emergency because the science showed global warming was worsening. Scotland’s Green Party has recently criticized Sturgeon’s government for moving too slowly on climate change.

Also, this weekend, UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn launched a bid to declare a climate emergency in the United Kingdom. Members of Parliament will vote this Wednesday on whether to declare an environmental and climate emergency following mass protests over political inaction in addressing the crisis.  Labour will force a Commons vote on the issue, one of the key demands of the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement, whose activists took over London in recent weeks.  Corbyn said he hoped other countries would follow if the UK Parliament became the first in the world to declare a climate emergency.

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

What Will You Say to Your Grandchildren?

What Will You Say to Your Grandchildren?

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Facing oncoming climate disaster, some argue for “Deep Adaptation”—that we must prepare for inevitable collapse. However, this orientation is dangerously flawed. It threatens to become a self-fulfilling prophecy by diluting the efforts toward positive change. What we really need right now is Deep Transformation. There is still time to act: we must acknowledge this moral imperative.

Every now and then, history has a way of forcing ordinary people to face up to a moral encounter with destiny that they never expected. Back in the 1930s, as Adolf Hitler rose to power, those who turned away when they saw Jews getting beaten in the streets never expected that decades later, their grandchildren would turn toward them with repugnance and say “Why did you do nothing when there was still a chance to stop the horror?”

Now, nearly a century on, here we are again. The fate of future generations is at stake, and each of us needs to be prepared, one day, to face posterity—in whatever form that might take—and answer the question: “What did you do when you knew our future was on the line?”

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the past few months, or get your daily updates exclusively from Fox News, you’ll know that our world is facing a dire climate emergency that’s rapidly reeling out of control. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a warning to humanity that we have just twelve years to turn things around before we pass the point of no return. Governments continue to waffle and ignore the blaring sirens. The pledges they’ve made under the 2015 Paris agreement will lead to 3 degrees of warming, which would threaten the foundations of our civilization.

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

London Assembly passes climate emergency motion

London Assembly passes climate emergency motion

The London Assembly has passed a motion by a vote of 12 votes for, 0 against, for declaring a climate emergency. The motion by UK Greens Councillor Caroline Russell urges that the Mayor should “declare a Climate Emergency, supported by specific emergency plans with the actions needed to make London carbon neutral by 2030”.

This follows on from the City of Bristol declaring a climate emergency on 13 November 2018, the first UK council to declare a climate emergency. The Bristol motion was passed unanimously. Consequently, the city council set an ambitious goal of making Bristol carbon neutral by 2030.

Caroline Russel also referred to David Attenborough speech to the United Nations climate change conference COP24 meeting in Katowice, Poland, in which he warned, “If we don’t take action the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” The IPCC 1.5C climate science report published in October was also referred to in motivating rapid social transformation needed for meeting the Paris Agreement climate targets and avoiding dangerous climate change..

The debate within London Assembly on the motion to declare a climate emergency

Caroline Russell AM, who proposed the motion said:

“Catastrophic climate breakdown might be as little as twelve years away – this would have profound impacts on every aspect of our lives in London from flooding and overheating in summers, disruption in our food supply chains as well as in the wider natural world.

“The Mayor need to be at the forefront of this challenge, declaring a climate emergency and an urgent updating of his carbon reduction targets to make London carbon neutral by 2030, decades ahead of his current plans, setting a precedent for other major and world cities.”

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

The Extinction Rebellion–A Tipping Point for the Climate Emergency?

THE EXTINCTION REBELLION – A TIPPING POINT FOR THE CLIMATE EMERGENCY?

The only rational response to the scientific evidence on climate change, is to declare a global emergency – to mobilise all of society to do whatever it takes to fix it. As the UN Secretary General Guterres recently stated: “We face a direct existential threat”.

Failure is really not an option when “failure” means we could “annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential”  This is now a war for civilisation’s survival. [1]

Meanwhile we blunder on…. Deeply committed to making verbal commitments, while delivering pathetically inadequate actual responses. Responses that treat the clear and urgent advice of the world’s top scientists – that we face the risk of global collapse – as merely passing thoughts to be casually contemplated.

Well, time’s up. To quote Winston Churchill: “Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest warnings, we have entered upon a period of danger.  The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedients of delays, is coming to its close.  In its place we are entering a period of consequences …We cannot avoid this period, we are in it now…”

Enter the Extinction Rebellion.

This is group of people who have simply had enough. They have looked at the science and concluded that the world has gone mad, that we now face the risk of extinction. And they’ve decided not to stand by in the face of that – but instead to rebel against the madness that has overtaken us. To try to shock us all into action, to face up to reality.

Extreme? Over-reaction? Maybe. But maybe not.

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

How to communicate the climate emergency

How to communicate the climate emergency

Download guide as PDF

What are effective ways of engaging people in conversation about the gathering climate crisis and the need for an emergency response? Let’s start with some key content:

1. Urgency and courage   
 

The Earth is already too hot: we are in danger now, not just in the future. Warming will accelerate, and 1.5°C is only a decade away, yet annual emissions are still growing and the current, post-Paris emissions trajectory will result in catastrophic warming. The Great Barrier Reef and other coral systems are dying. We are greatly exceeding Earth’s limits, and food and water shortages are contributing to conflicts and forced migration.

On current trends, following the Paris Agreement, we may face catastrophic warming within our children’s lifetimes, with large parts of the world uninhabitable and major food growing regions ruined by drought (such as Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin, south-western USA) or rising seas (such as Vietnam, Bangladesh, Egypt). In past periods when greenhouse levels were similar to the current level, temperatures were 3–6°C higher and sea levels around 25–40 metres higher than in 1900.

Climate warming is an existential risk to human civilisation, and on the current warming path we are heading towards outright chaos.

The failure of community and political leaders to talk about such concerns leaves unspoken fears lurking just below the surface of public life, sapping our strength. Fear and alarm should be welcomed as healthy reactions that show we’ve noticed something dangerous is going on.

Our response to the climate crisis is the courage to match actions to the size of the problem.

2.    Emergency response 

Many people realise we are heading for a social and planetary crisis. Three-quarters of Australians consider climate change a “global catastrophic risk”.

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

When we look at the crisis rationally, the only logical response is to declare a climate emergency

When we look at the crisis rationally, the only logical response is to declare a climate emergency

Participants in this week’s Darebin Climate Emergency conference in Melboure.
Photo: John Englart

People engaged in the climate debate are often bewildered by society’s lack of response. How can we ignore such overwhelming evidence of an existential threat to social and economic stability?

Given human history, we should never have expected anything else. Humans have a consistent tendency that when change is uncomfortable we delay action until a threat becomes a crisis. The scale of the threat or the existence of powerful evidence makes little difference.

There are countless examples – personal health issues, a business’ declining success, or global financial and credit risks. Historically, though, World War Two (WWII ) remains the best analogy.

The evidence of the threat posed by Hitler was overwhelming and the case for action crystal clear. However, many were still deeply resistant to acting. Only when the threat became overwhelming – until it was accepted as an imminent crisis – was Britain triggered into action. When it was, Winston Churchill led the critical shift in thinking, arguing that no matter how uncomfortable, expensive or challenging to the status quo, sometimes you just have to do what is necessary. Not your best, or what you can afford, or what’s “realistic” – but what is necessary. In his case, that was going to war and assuming victory was possible.

And so began one of the fastest and most dramatic economic mobilisations and industrial transformations in history. As a result, something that was rationally bordering on the impossible was achieved.

I would argue we are approaching a point where this same cycle will play out on climate change – and we will get to the transformational action stage.

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

False Solutions? 3 Ways To Evaluate Grand Climate Proposals

False Solutions? 3 Ways To Evaluate Grand Climate Proposals

The climate news gets scarier by the day. February obliterated all records as the warmest seasonally-adjusted month since measurements began. At this rate, we’re on a path to blow through the 1.5º C temperature rise the nations of the world set as a goal at COP21, not in decades but in a few short years.

World_temperature_anomalies_for_Februari_2016___Datagraver
February temperature was a terrifying 1.35 degrees above the 1950-1980 global average for the month. (Blue line: monthly; Red line: 12 month moving average.)

We’re going to be hearing a lot about grand solutions to our climate emergency in the coming years. Even if we were to bring net global carbon emissions to zero by mid-century, experts say, we’d need to suck a massive amount of carbon from the atmosphere to keep temperatures within a range of 1.5º-2.0º C this century.

There’s no shortage of proposals for how to do this. People are talking about changing how we do agriculture; capturing carbon from power plants; painting roofs white; fertilizing the ocean; and even spraying gold dust into the atmosphere.

How should we evaluate the proposals we’ll be hearing about to determine which ones to support and which ones will only lead to worse disasters? We need a way to distinguish authentic pathways to a sustainable civilization from false solutions. I suggest three ways to consider any proposal you might come across.

1. Does it push political power up or down the pyramid?

Political power is like a pyramid. At the top are the political leaders and  the billionaires. In the middle are the minority fortunate enough to enjoy privilege. Most of the world’s population exists towards the bottom.

New technologies have a way of pushing political power either up or down that pyramid. Nuclear power, for example, requiring massive centralized investment along with  extreme security, is notorious for pushing power to the top.

Political pyramid
New technologies can push political power either up or down the pyramid. ©Jeremy Lent, 2016.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase