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

Now is the time to end the climate emergency

Now is the time to end the climate emergency

Reading “The Green New Deal and beyond” in the middle of a global crisis

In The Green New Deal and Beyond: Ending the Climate Emergency While We Still Can, Stan Cox has a message for all who were counting on the Green New Deal to help save us from ecological and economic collapse: this legislation will not go far enough. Cox’s book comes at a sobering time, when the only two U.S. presidential candidates he mentions as being in favor of the Green New Deal—Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren—have fallen behind a ‘more electable’ candidate who has not expressed such enthusiastic support for GND policies. In light of such developments, and in light of the global health crisis now facing the world, a manuscript devoted to many of the GND’s shortcomings might seem untimely. Yet Cox provides important insights into how our intersecting crises—ecological, economic, and epidemiological—could lead to a positive restructuring of the economy, if we can push such legislation to meet them. To do so, Cox argues, requires expanding the GND’s restorative approach to environmental justice, a willingness to reinvent the economy at a scale not seen since World War II, and the prioritizing of people and the planet above economic growth.

There are a few assumptions of the Green New Deal with which Cox takes issue, given how far we have advanced on the climate clock. These include the legislation’s vision to build up ‘green’ energy capacity and its promise to maintain and even accelerate economic growth. First, Cox addresses the common assumption that clean energy will push out old, dirty energy, by showing that there is so far no evidence to support that this will happen.

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

Notes From Underground #4: Emergency Democracy

Notes From Underground #4: Emergency Democracy

It’s late in 1940, six months since the fall of France. Still a year to go before America joins the war. Meanwhile, Britain soldiers on alone – or so it likes to tell itself, the vastness of Empire folded conveniently into the background. Through the crackling of the wireless, the prime minister’s voice is unmistakable.

‘Every endeavour must be made to use the time available to produce the greatest volume of food of which this fertile island is capable. We shall all have to make changes to the way in which we eat and each household must now play its part in the way in which that food is grown. We have to look a long way ahead in this sphere of the war. We have to think of the years 1970 and 1971 and of the tonnage programmes which we shall be able to move and which we shall have to move across the oceans then.’

The mistake is glaring, absurd – yet this was the voice I heard in my head as I read the summary of the EAT–Lancet report on climate change and food, published in January, with its conclusions about the changes called for in our diets. In North America, an 84% cut in the average intake of red meat; for Europeans, a fifteen-fold increase in the amount of nuts and seeds we eat. All of this is to be achieved by 2050: a timeline based on reasonable assumptions and ambitious behaviour-change goals, for sure, but it doesn’t sound like a response to an existential threat.

The speech which Churchill actually gave that autumn, part of which was printed on the leaflets that launched the Dig For Victory campaign, urged Britain to ‘think of the years 1943 and 1944’.

* * *

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

Global warming was blamed for evaporating the Great Lakes, now blamed for high water levels in Chicago’s ‘climate emergency’ – Updated 2

Global warming was blamed for evaporating the Great Lakes, now blamed for high water levels in Chicago’s ‘climate emergency’ – Updated 2

“What we are seeing in global warming is the evaporation of our Great Lakes.” That was Illinois Senator Dick Durbin in 2013 when Lake Michigan was at a record low. You can find plenty of claims to the same effect from the time. Nobel Prize winner Al Gore chimed in around then, too, saying climate change was driving Great Lakes levels down by causing evaporation.

But that was then and this is now.

What’s causing today’s record high levels? Climate change, naturally.

So now, citing “catastrophic lakefront erosion” from high water, Chicago just declared a climate emergency. It’s radical, and is reproduced in full below.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Durbin want the federal government to help Chicago pay for damage to its shoreline. Lightfoot’s accompanying statement is reproduced below. You’ll be relieved to see that she’s putting “equity” at the center.

Given that Lightfoot hasn’t exactly been friendly to President Trump, you might be concerned about what reception her request for federal help will get. Per the Chicago Tribune, Lightfoot acknowledged “some concern, of course,” that President Donald Trump won’t see the urgency in sending help to Chicago — a city he has treated as a public antagonist for years — to combat climate change, an issue he hasn’t deemed a high priority.

Why, yes, I’d have some concern, too, of course. She called Trump’s visit to Chicago “insulting, ignorant buffoonery.” Not that he’s vindictive or anything.

And since sustainability is emphasized in Lightfoot’s statement, I’d also have some concern about sustainability of claims about the causes of Great Lakes water fluctuations. I confess to being old enough to remember exceptionally high lake levels in the late 1970s when global cooling was blamed.

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

Trudeau and His North Van Climate Minister Are ‘Wrestling’ with a Massive Oilsands Decision

Trudeau and His North Van Climate Minister Are ‘Wrestling’ with a Massive Oilsands Decision

Teck’s Frontier mine would kill emissions targets, say analysts.

Jonathan-Wilkinson
Where will Minister for Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson, MP for North Vancouver, land on Frontier, possibly the biggest oilsands project ever? Photo by Mike Sudoma, the Canadian Press.

The Trudeau government is under intense scrutiny for a looming decision — one that will powerfully signal whether it favours oil patch growth over fighting the climate emergency. 

Will the Liberals approve a new bitumen mine twice the size of Vancouver that alone is expected to add 20 per cent of additional oilsands emissions over the next three decades? 

Or will Justin Trudeau’s government make good on its promise to set Canada on the path to having “net-zero” emissions by 2050 by rejecting the Frontier mine being proposed by Vancouver-based Teck Resources?

Federal Environment and Climate Change Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, who represents the riding of North Vancouver, is reportedly “wrestling” with the decision, which is expected sometime next month. The Prime Minister’s Office didn’t respond to The Tyee’s interview request.

Wilkinson has said that achieving Canada’s aggressive net-zero target, which would result in the country effectively ceasing to contribute to global temperature rise within three decades, is not open to negotiation: “That is a target that is not informed by politics. It’s informed by science.” 

If that’s the case, then the Liberals need to forcefully reject what is one of the biggest oilsands mining projects ever proposed, says Eriel Deranger, executive director of the Edmonton-based group Indigenous Climate Action. “We cannot afford more destabilization of critical ecosystems and the creation of massive amounts of carbon emissions,” she told The Tyee.

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

Clean Tech Versus a People’s Green New Deal

Clean Tech Versus a People’s Green New Deal

Rich nations’ proposals for greening the economy need to acknowledge that their wealth rests on economic exploitation and ecological spoliation of poorer countries.

The Green New Deal (GND), Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s draft legislation to reduce US carbon dioxide emissions, was literally 2019’s talk of the town.

Climate apocalypse is on everyone’s mind. The spring of 2019 was the season of failed monsoons in Chennai, its reservoirs meters from desiccation. Millennial heatwaves roiled France. Wildfires raged in the United States, and continental firestorms rake Australia. The normally cool prose of scientists has been heating up as well, channeling the anxiety induced by the catastrophic conditions they describe. Reports warning of the disappearance of the world’s flora, fauna, and land increasingly seem like forecasts for the end of the world. Climate change has and will continue to pulverize the global South, where disaster is not on the horizon but has already arrived. Yet at the moment, the most visible environmental legislation — the Green New Deal (GND) — is being made and unmade in the North, the primary polluter and home of the largest corporations.

mining in the Congo
Industrial upgrading requires metals and metal-mining displacement of the people living on that land and pollution. Toxic levels of cobalt, which is used in electronics, have been found in the blood and urine of the miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo, especially children. Photo courtesy of Fairphone. 

Like the New Deal to which the GND refers, it aims big. In the words of Demond Drummer, the head of the New Consensusthink tank, the quiet catalyst of the GND discussion, it is a domestic agenda for governing, a chance “to see the elephant whole.”

Saikat Chakrabarti, Ocasio-Cortez’s former Chief of Staff, has added that “we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.” Meanwhile, Ocasio-Cortez has spoken warmly of Tennessee Valley Authority-style programs and “public-private partnerships.” She has put forward the figure of ten trillion dollars as its cost.

Ocasio-Cortez’s draft legislation, much like the draft document from the New Consensus, was bare bones. Its five goals are:

(1) To achieve net-zero emissions through a “just transition;”

(2) Create millions of high-wage and good jobs; 

(3) To “invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States”;

Assange and Auschwitz

Assange and Auschwitz

When I read that Angela Merkel visited Auschwitz this week (for the first time ever, curiously, after 14 years as Chancellor, and now it’s important?), my first thought was: she should have visited Julian Assange instead. I don’t even know why, it just popped into my head. And then reflecting on it afterwards, of course first I wondered if it’s acceptable to compare nazi victims to Assange in any way, shape or form.

There are many paths to argue it is not. He is not persecuted solely for being part of a group of people (we can’t really use “race” here). There are not millions like him who are being tortured and persecuted for the same reasons he is. There is no grand scheme to take out all like him. There is no major police or army force to execute any such scheme. These things are all obvious.

But I grew up in Holland, where unlike in Merkel’s Germany, the aftermath of WWII and the Holocaust was very much present. I looked it up, and it’s already almost 10 years ago that I wrote Miep Gies Died Today, in which I explained this. Miep Gies was a woman who worked for Anne Frank’s father Otto, helped hide the family in the annex, and after the war secured Anne’s diary (or we would never have known about it) and handed it to Otto Frank.

So accusing me of anti-semitism for comparing the Holocaust to what is being done to Assange is not going to work. Why then did Merkel never visit Auschwitz before this week, and when she did, said how important it is to German history? And why did she not visit Assange instead?

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

‘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…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase