Welcome to the new grand story of interconnected sustainability

“As if it wasn’t already clear, 2017 provided even more evidence that we are changing our planet in dangerous ways.”
~ Heather Leibowitz, environmental advocate and lawyer


“In 20 years we’ll look back on 2017 as a turning point for the climate challenge.”
~ Simon Holmes à Court, senior adviser to the Energy Transition Hub at Melbourne University


Sometimes we can’t see the forest because we are standing in the middle of it. The world is changing incredibly fast, and all the wonderful new interconnectivity that the Internet has gifted us with, means most of us are being flooded with tons of news stories about how our planet is changing.

Below – our last ‘climatic clippings’ of 2017 – is a compilation of examples: There’s the bad news, and the sad news, but there’s also good news, and even some truly great news. It’s a big and often confusing mix of positive and negative – of human altruism and ingenuity as well as of evil greed, selfishness and egoism.

Whatever the changes, we are the change-makers. We – close to eight billion humans today – are causing the havoc, but at the same time, we are also busy building solutions.

This year of 2017 saw the United States hit with more powerful hurricanes than in the past 12 years. It saw polar ice and glaciers disappearing, and many other devastating changes, which represent a threat to our future of yet unknown scale. But as USA Today reporter Sammy Roth stated this week: “It’s worse than we thought”. Humanity is critically running out of time.


Global fossil fuel consumption on the rise
Despite rapid development of clean energy sources from solar, wind and hydropower, it is still fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – that keep the wheels running globally. The world’s increasing demand for energy globally is primarily covered by fossil fuels.

Over the 26 years between 1990 to 2016, fossil fuels’ share of the global energy mix has fallen from 88 per cent to 86 per cent. Measured in tonnes, however, the total amount of coal, oil and gas burned has been increasing every single year since 1990, apart from the financial crisis year of 2008. In 1990, coal, oil and gas use corresponded to 7 billion tonnes of oil equivalents. In 2016, the global consumption had increased to 11.4 billion tonnes, which is a 63 percent increase in just 26 years.

» National Observer – 13 July 2017:
These ‘missing charts’ may change the way you think about fossil fuel addiction


Goodbye to an age of greed
On the positive side, more and more of the world’s major corporations are now announcing that they are going 100 percent renewables. Apple, Google, IKEA – and locally: Barwon Water – and so on. World leading car companies are announcing which year in the near future they will be going all-electric. States and countries are banning fracking and phasing out coal power.

In the United States, clean energy now employs more workers than the fossil fuel industry. There are five times more jobs in the solar industry than there is in coal. But the losers in this energy transition – slash battle – are not intending to go down without a fight.

The fossil fuel industry is persistently protecting ‘status quo’ and its legal framework where it is free to pollute the air and where dirty energy is subsidised with billions of dollars. However, these advocates who defend this old-fashioned polluting energy technology which marginalises and kills humans by the millions every year, are increasingly standing out as mean psychopaths. As renewable energy gets better and cheaper by the day, it becomes increasingly unbearable to accept the way fossil fuels are consuming and wasting vast quantities of energy and raw materials while causing irreversible loss of species and destruction of living ecosystems.

“We live at the end of an age where greed is good,” Graham Harris from CSIRO stated 15 years ago. Well, as it has turned out, it is taking quite a while for that transition away from the Age of Greed to kick in – but hey, that’s the thing with ages, isn’t it? They don’t come and go quickly, so it can sometimes be difficult to see the signs of change. But some people have a talent for seeing the forest even though we are standing in the middle of it. The British author Jeremy Lent is one of them.

Emerging age of interconnectivity
Jeremy Lent has written a book called ‘The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning’. It’s about the way in which culture shapes the cognitive pathways in our minds and pushes us to think and behave in particular patterns that lead to issues in sustainability.

Lent explains how values from the days of Western colonisation have led to a ‘grand story’ that shapes our modern political and moral discourse. It is based on the assumption that humans are fundamentally selfish and that the Earth can support limitless growth.

But these are flawed assumptions, he argues. They reflect an underlying theme of separation: that people are separate from each other, and that humans are separate from nature.

“The value system built on this foundation is the cause of much that threatens to tear our society apart: the world’s gaping inequalities, our roller-coaster global financial system, our failure to respond appropriately to climate change, and our unsustainable frenzy of consumption,” Lent says.

So Lent suggests some key elements in another ‘grand story’ which we can use to replace the old one, and which has three core values based on what he calls an ‘interconnected worldview’ where we focus on:

• quality of life rather than material possessions
• a sense of our shared humanity, emphasising fairness and dignity
• building our future on the basis of environmental sustainability

Lent writes about the three emerging values:

“The first is an emphasis on quality of life rather than material possessions. Instead of measuring progress by economic output, we could care about progress in the quality of our lives, both individually and in society at large.

Secondly, we could base political, social, and economic choices on a sense of our shared humanity, emphasising fairness and dignity for all rather than maximising for ourselves and our parochially defined social group.

Finally, we must build our civilisation’s future on the basis of environmental sustainability, where the flourishing of the natural world is a foundational principle for humanity’s major decisions.”

“Ultimately the direction of history is decided by values. Values shape history. How will our values shape the future?,” asks Jeremy Lent, who is also the founder of Liology Institute, dedicated to fostering a sustainable worldview.

Shaping a new grand story for 2018 and the years to come – that is the business we are in at The Sustainable Hour and Centre for Climate Safety. If you’d like to join us on the journey, let us know!

“If you want to change the world, you have to change the story,” agrees George Monbiot, a British writer known for his weekly column for The Guardian and author of a number of books. His new book ‘Out of the wreckage’ is also about values, principles, party politics and the need for a new narrative.

Welcome to the new grand story of interconnected sustainability.

On this hopefully inspirational note in the middle of that forest of gloomy-looking trees, we wish you all the best for the New Year with lots of thanks for your support and collaboration in the year that flew by! In 2018, a new narrative will be brewing in Geelong, where “The fire and the rose are one”…


The fire and the rose are one

…Between two waves of the sea
Quick now, here, now, always
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one

Excerpt of the poem ‘Little Gidding’ by T. S. Eliot

Little Gidding is the fourth and final poem of T. S. Eliot’s ‘Four Quartets’, a series of poems that discuss time, perspective, humanity, and salvation. It was first published in September 1942. Little Gidding focuses on the unity of past, present, and future, and claims that understanding this unity is necessary for salvation.





A movement of climate carers

“This is up to each of us who cares,” says Jeremy Lent, since mainstream media isn’t going to get the word out.

Jeremy Lent has written an important commentary where he asks: With the future of humanity at stake, what will it really take for our civilization to change course and save itself from destruction?

“A flourishing future might involve more cooperative ventures, protection and expansion of the commons, and enhanced global governance with strict penalties for those who destroy ecological wellbeing.

Collapse isn’t the only future in store for humanity — it’s merely the one we’re headed for unless and until we change course. Since the mainstream media isn’t going to get the word out, it has to be up to each of us who cares about the future of the human race. So, let’s get to it.”

» Read Lent’s commentary: What will it really take to avoid collapse?











 [CLIMATIC ROOT TREATMENT]  is a series of blogposts seeking to uncover and understand the deeper roots of society’s problems with taking appropriate action on the climate emergency, and to explore the advantages we could see once the action sets in.

“The [fossil fuel] industry thinks we are all fools, so all I can say is dig deep, find the facts, knowledge is power.”
~ Damian Marchant from Frack Free Moriac



Global warming breathing down your neck

“A strong wind blows embers during the Thomas Fire on December 16th, 2017, in Montecito, California. Sometimes the effects of climate change seem to creep up, as when sea levels rise an inch every few years, or when temperatures break records by a tenth of a degree. But when your backyard is on fire, you feel global warming breathing down your neck.”
~ Bob Berwyn

» Pacific Standard – 20 December 2017:
Wildfires Mark the New Reality of Climate Change in 2017
“As fire conditions intensify around the globe, scientists are helping countries prepare for a fiery new normal.”


» Deutche Welle – 28 December 2017:
2017: The year climate change hit
“The devastating effects of climate change are becoming apparent — and the world has begun taking action. But the frequency of extreme weather events has shown we are starting to run out of time.”


The real story

“In 2017 Australian energy politics was just a sideshow. The real story, driven by the states and the private sector, is more interesting and much more positive.”
~ Simon Holmes à Court



TONY SEBA:

Demand for oil will peak around 2020




» Bloomberg – 14 November 2017:
Author Tony Seba Sees Oil Hitting Peak Demand in 2020


» Thomson Reuters Foundation – 28 December 2017:
Climate change cases predicted to make a legal splash in 2018

» New Republic – 20 December 2017:
The Growing Movement to Take Polluters to Court Over Climate Change

Global warming a crime against humanity



“Most of us have wondered about the human context of past crimes against humanity: why didn’t more people intervene? How could so many pretend not to know?”
~ Lawrence Torcello, 30 April 2017

» The Guardian – 30 April 2017:
Yes, I am a climate alarmist. Global warming is a crime against humanity
“There can be no greater crime against humanity than the destruction of conditions that make human life possible.”






» Green Car Reports – 31 December 2017:
2017’s most important green car story: internal-combustion engine ban in China



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» Inside Climate News – 26 December 2017:
Climate Change Is Happening Faster Than Expected, and It’s More Extreme
“New research suggests human-caused emissions will lead to bigger impacts on heat and extreme weather, and sooner than the IPCC warned just three years ago.”

Irreversible loss of species and ecosystems

“If we continue emitting current levels of greenhouse gases, climate change could threaten 16% of species – more than a million – by 2100. Look out of your window and count six species. Now imagine one is gone forever.”

“Each day increasingly dangerous hurricanes, wildfires, and floods betray the influence of climate change. We are appalled at the accruing losses of life and property. The arguments to address climate change at the recent UN climate conference in Bonn focused most often on these more concrete risks. However, the worst effects of climate change will come not from severe weather but from the irreversible loss of species and ecosystems.”
~ Mark Urban in The Guardian on 28 December 2017

» The Guardian – 28 December 2017:
Ice will return but extinctions can’t be reversed. We must act now
“We have to develop digital forecasts of species’ responses to climate change, design robust strategies to protect as many as possible, and help nature to adapt”

» Inside Climate News – 27 December 2017:
Polar Ice Is Disappearing, Setting Off Climate Alarms
“The short-term consequences of Arctic (and Antarctic) warming may already be felt in other latitudes. The long-term threat to coastlines is becoming even more dire.”


» Quartz – 23 December 2017:
Algae, thrilled about a warming climate, is making Greenland melt faster





“Is optimism realistic given the overwhelming evidence available to suggest the contrary? It seems exceptionally irresponsible to perpetuate the growth-at-all-cost model.”
~ Tim St. Quentin, 28 December



» E&E News – 21 December 2017:
SCIENCE: The biggest climate findings in 2017
“Scientists are digging into the “how,” “why” and “what’s next” of global temperatures, melting ice, emission sources and sinks, changing weather patterns, and rising seas. The last year has seen major breakthroughs and advancements in climate research. Here are some of the biggest findings reported by scientists in 2017.”


» Care2 – December 2017:
Care2: Is Climate Change Too Scary? How Best to Talk About It
“Just thinking about climate change can be pretty overwhelming. We’re currently on a terrible trajectory and it’s hard not to feel despair for the future given all that we know. But environmental psychologists Daniel Chapman, Brian Lickel and Ezra Markowitz from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst conducted a study in which they determined that people can probably handle the reality and magnitude of climate change a lot better than experts are willing to give them credit for.”



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USA

“It’s worse than we thought”
~ USA Today

» The Guardian – 31 december 2017:
Camille Parmesan: ‘Trump’s extremism on climate change has brought people together’
“18 US scientists moving to France to take up President Macron’s invitation of refuge after Donald Trump’s decision to cut science funding and withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris agreement.”

» Observer – 29 December 2017:
A Year of Dramatic Climate Change—Both Environmentally and Politically

» Quartz – 29 December 2017:
The difference between weather and climate, explained for Donald Trump

» Green Car Reports – 29 December 2017:
Trump Administration on climate change: denial, confrontation, some cooperation

» USA Today – 28 December 2017:
Climate Point: Cold weather in a warming world

» Mashable – 28 December 2017:
Hey Donald Trump, this is the difference between climate and weather

» Business Insider Australia – 21 December 2017:
The Coast Guard chief describes how the US remains unprepared to deal with the effects of climate change
“Climate change threatens to exacerbate extreme weather events like flooding and heat waves. Such weather events pose a significant threat to the military, which has bases all over the world, and the Pentagon has deemed climate change a severe risk. According to the US Coast Guard commandant, the US military and public still has work to do to adapt to a changing climate.”



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“We live at the end of an age where greed is good, (but) Australia is not spotting the trends quickly enough . . . We talk too much and act too slowly. Meanwhile, growth is king and exploitation of the natural world goes on apace.”
~ Graham Harris, CSIRO, in 2002


AUSTRALIA

“Australians love renewables. The latest climate polling from Ipsos shows renewable energy is by a wide margin the most popular climate action, and our desire for climate action is as strong as it was when John Howard lost an election over the issue in 2007.”
~ Simon Holmes à Court

» The Guardian – 31 December 2017:
A great year for clean energy in Australia ends, while bad news for coal continues
‘It’s undeniable that the energy transition is well under way — but Australians could be forgiven for despairing when coal dominates our politics and media cycle.’



“Barnaby Joyce seems to think immense wealth will come to Queensland from exporting coal from the Galilee basin.
In 2010-2016 Queensland received an average of $1.94 billion per year in coal royalties.
In 2008-2014 Queensland spent an average of $1.27 billion per year on coal subsidies.
Immense wealth?
Enough to ignore the climate impact of burning more coal?”
~ Climate Emergency Mobilisation

“As I see many of the things going on around Australia in terms of technology development, and certainly the solar penetration, I continue to think that Australia is going to lead, and we have to lead. We will lead around how to use those resources, and how we make this transition. This is not a judgement about anything. It’s just the reality that the economics have changed, and technology has changed, and resisting this change is a little like trying to resist the internet. It’s just going to happen because of where technology is going.”
~ Audrey Zibelman, CEO, Australian Energy Market Operator

» RenewEconomy – 11 December 2017:
Zibelman: Resisting energy transition like trying to resist internet

» Share this on Facebook


“I don’t believe that this unbelievable greed for money in a hurry is worth completely wrecking the land and the water for generations to come.”
~ Wendy Bowman, 83-year-old farmer in Hunter Valley


» The Conversation | Grattan Institute – 2 January 2017:
A high price for policy failure: the ten-year story of spiralling electricity bills
“The Long Read: Most Australians’ power bills have been rising for a decade. There are many reasons why, but the common thread is a lack of government willingness to get to grips with crucial policy problems.” By David Blowers, Grattan Institute



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SOLUTIONS

“In a disaster, we help each other”

“In 1957 Charles Fritz and Harry Williams, the research associate and technical director, respectively, of the National Academy of Sciences’ Disaster Studies Committee, wrote a paper that sparked the field of disaster sociology. Their findings were counterintuitive then, and somehow remain so. People in disasters, they said, don’t loot and riot. They help each other.

“The net result of most disasters is a dramatic increase in social solidarity among the affected populace during the emergency and immediate post-emergency periods,” they wrote.

“The sharing of a common threat to survival and the common suffering produced by the disaster tend to produce a breakdown of pre-existing social distinctions and a great outpouring of love, generosity, and altruism.”

In a disaster, we help each other. The trick is recognizing the disaster.”
~ Adam Rogers in Wired Magazine on 28 December 2017


» Climate Reality Project – 31 December 2017:
Top climate wins of 2017
“Ten signs the world is moving forward on climate from 2017. This year held ups and downs in the fight for climate solutions. But as we look forward to 2018, we’ve collected some incredible climate wins to celebrate and inspire as we continue to work for a sustainable future.”

» Climate Reality Project’s round-up of their top-viewed videos of 2017


“Here’s the big picture of how we got into this mess and how to get out of it.”










“The Most Comprehensive Plan Proposed to Fight Climate Change”


15,000 scientists’ warning to humanity

In November 2017, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries re-issued a warning from 1992: ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice’.

Mankind must take immediate action to reverse the effects of climate change, deforestation and species extinction before it’s too late, the scientists warned in a paper which captured the environmental trends over the last 25 years, showed realistic concern, and suggested a few examples of possible remedies. An excerpt:

“Sustainability transitions come about in diverse ways, and all require civil-society pressure and evidence-based advocacy, political leadership, and a solid understanding of policy instruments, markets, and other drivers. Examples of diverse and effective steps humanity can take to transition to sustainability include the following (not in order of importance or urgency):” (…)

• reducing food waste through education and better infrastructure

• promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods

• increasing outdoor nature education for children, as well as the overall engagement of society in the appreciation of nature

• divesting of monetary investments and purchases to encourage positive environmental change

• devising and promoting new green technologies and massively adopting renewable energy sources while phasing out subsidies to energy production through fossil fuels

• revising our economy to reduce wealth inequality and ensure that prices, taxation, and incentive systems take into account the real costs which consumption patterns impose on our environment
(…)

“To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual. This prescription was well articulated by the world’s leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning. Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.”

» Read the article

» Read more about climate science and history on www.climatesafety.info/history


“Transnational corporations and the most powerful militaries on Earth are already building to prepare for higher sea levels and more extreme weather. The FIRE complex — finance, insurance, and real estate — knows exactly what 2017 cost them (natural and human-made disasters: $306 billion and 11,000 lives), and can calculate more of the same in 2018. They know that the radical alteration of Earth’s climate isn’t just something that’s going to happen in 100 years if we’re not careful, or in 50 years if we don’t change our economy and moonshot the crap out of science and technology. It’s here. Now. It happened. Look behind you.”

» Wired – 28 December 2017:
Fighting climate change, and building a world to withstand it


» Inverse – 28 December 2017:
These 8 projects made 2017 the year we embraced our renewable energy future
“The future looks greener than ever. This year brought about some monumental projects in the renewable energy sector. This major progress laid a path for more accessible clean energy in the future.”

“What’s missing is the ambition.”

» Inside Climate News – 2 January 2018:
It’s Not Too Late: A Climate Change New Year’s Resolution
“The technology exists to stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and avoid the worst of climate change, scientists say. What’s missing is the ambition.”





Clean fuel made from water? It’s possible. A team at Griffith University is now working to make it economically viable. A new generation fuel that’s cool, clean and cheap…

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More have joined the Take2 Climate Pledge

If you haven’t already joined, here’s a good place to lodge a serious New Year’s resolution for 2018:

» www.take2.vic.gov.au

These 35 local governments in Victoria have joined the Take2 Climate Pledge:

City of Ballarat
City of Casey
City of Greater Bendigo
City of Greater Dandenong
City of Greater Geelong
City of Kingston
City of Melbourne
City of Melton
City of Moonee Valley
City of Port Phillip
City of Whittlesea
City of Yarra

Benalla Rural City Council
Brimbank City Council
Frankston City Council
Glen Eira City Council
Hobsons Bay City Council
Indigo Shire Council
Maribyrnong City Council
Moonee Valley City Council
Moreland City Council
Warrnambool City Council
Wyndham City Council
Yarra Ranges Council

Bass Coast Shire Council
Cardinia Shire Council
East Gippsland Shire Council
Gannawarra Shire Council
Indigo Shire Council
Macedon Ranges Shire Council
Mornington Peninsula Shire
Mount Alexander Shire Council
Nillumbik Shire Council
Surf Coast Shire
Wellington Shire Council

Good to see both City of Greater Geelong and Surf Coast Shire on board!



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Become an Earth Protector

“Make the Earth your mission – become an Earth protector”

“Right now, dangerous industrial activity is legally permitted, while resisting it is criminalised. But we can change this.
Go to https://missionlifeforce.org to become a legal trustee of the Earth and help fund a law to protect our planet, our communities, and all those who take action as conscientious protectors.”

“Mission Lifeforce is a growing international movement of EARTH PROTECTORS based on a legal document, the Earth Protectors TRUST FUND DOCUMENT (PDF).

This document has been legally validated right across the globe, something that has never been done before. It is like a crowdfund, a petition and a legal Trust all rolled into one, and it’s extremely powerful. In fact, it’s the missing piece – making climate and ecological justice possible where nothing else has.”
 
By becoming an EARTH PROTECTOR (a trustee* of the Earth Protectors Trust Fund) you will:

• be an Earth Protector in law, supporting all those across the world who stand up to protect the Earth

• help fund a law to make ECOCIDE an INTERNATIONAL CRIME – protecting our planet, our communities, and all those who take action as conscientious protectors

• if you are an activist, gain an additional legal defence in a court of law


You can sign up for as little as €5 (though if you can afford more it will greatly help) – and if you live in one of the Small Island Developing States you can sign up for free.

*Trusteeship is simple and easy – unlike most, it incurs no ongoing administrative or financial obligations.

» Read more:
www.missionlifeforce.org/trustee-request

» Social media stream on Facebook and Twitter

» Ecocide law:
www.missionlifeforce.org/ecocide-law



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Geostorm graphics

Climate change as a game

Geostorm: “The planet’s weather satellites go rogue as natural disasters threaten humanity. In this puzzle you’re a survivor struggling to survive despite quakes, fire and floods.

Play the official game of the movie now! Earth needs your help! Can you escape disaster and prevent catastrophic climate breakdown? Stay one step ahead to stay alive in this deadly, turn-based puzzle game.”

This app is only available on the App Store for iOS devices, iPhone and iPad.

» Get the game on itunes.apple.com

» More about the film on www.geostorm.movie




Climatic Root Treatment

» Read more articles in the series CLIMATIC ROOT TREATMENT
This is a series of blogposts seeking to uncover and understand the deeper roots of society’s problems with taking appropriate action on the climate emergency, and to explore the advantages we could see once the action sets in.