Greed and climate crimes in the age of the unprecedented

“Time for plain speaking. Let’s call a spade a spade and a climate criminal a climate criminal.”
~ David Harris


The last five years, I’ve been talking and thinking quite a bit about climate change and about how I can reduce my carbon footprint and live more sustainably. Little by little, I’m beginning to turn the words and aspirations into action and real-life changes in my dailyday.

I know I can do much better than what I am doing at the moment – there is still a long way to a zero carbon and zero waste existence in our household. What matters, though, is that I know now that step by step I will reach my destination. I can see it in the horizon. Not tomorrow, but within a number of years.

This has nothing to do with so-called ‘environmentalism’. This is not about “protecting the environment” or “saving the planet”. The growing movement towards a cleaner, greener and less greed-focused world is fundamentally about protecting ourselves – protecting the vulnerable in our community, and the poorer nations on this planet. I can also speak as a parent: it is about protecting my children. It is about being a proper and responsible parent.

As the crisis escalates, it is beginning to look like we need to protect ourselves not only against disasters and pollution, but also against a specific group of people in our society: The rich and the powerful. Jeff Sparrow wrote a good piece in The Guardian on 7 April 2017, where he, among other things, noted that,

“In reality, the environment’s always been a class issue. Climate change will devastate the poor – and the rich and the powerful will barely notice. Insulated by money, you can still treat nature as an inexhaustible resource to be endlessly abused… The politicians and tycoons with their stock options and property portfolios will still find pleasant locales for their holidays, no matter how degraded the oceans become.”
~ Jeff Sparrow, ‘It’s either Adani or the Great Barrier Reef’ in The Guardian

If Sparrow is right, which I think he is – sadly – then this explains why we are seeing so little engagement and willingness to reduce carbon emissions from the rich and powerful, the so-called ‘one per cent’ and the political elite. It is explains how it is possible that in 2018 there are political parties running their election campaign on the pretending that climate change isn’t happening, or isn’t an issue worth taking notice of.

In Australia recently, the coalmining company Adani was fined $12,000 for polluting our environment while activists have been fined about $8,000 each for trying to protect it. It tells its own story about our democracy and our government.

If we continue to leave it to people like Malcolm Turnbull, Guatam Adani and Gina Rinehart to do as they please, we know what they have in their fossil fuel pipelines for us: Unprecedented collapse of the eco systems we depend on. Hurricanes, flooding, bushfires, draughts, hunger, armed conflicts. Continued sea level rise. Acidification of the oceans. The risk of thawing permafrost and runaway global warming. Refugee mass migration. And many other dangerous developments that could get out of hand. In short, a catastrophic outcome of letting the rich run the show.

“The rich think they can escape the apocalypse”

Rana Foroohar – a Financial Times columnist and author of the book ‘Makers and Takers’ – says many of the rich have escape plans thinking “they can avoid the apocalypse”. Many wealthy people understand that the climate crisis, deep recession and war are real threats, but they believe “apres moi le deluge” [after me comes the floods].

The more we spend and the richer we are, the more we pollute. The world’s richest 10 per cent produce half of all carbon emissions, according to a study from Oxfam. A person among the richest one per cent produces several hundred times more carbon emissions than a person among the poorest ten per cent of the population.

It is new for me to think this way, but the more I meet and get a chance to have a conversation with rich and powerful people, the more I see a pattern of complete climate denial repeat itself. Our society has a small group of cynical, self-focused people who don’t give a damn about what is happening to the planet’s climate or whether their energy-heavy lifestyles would have a disruptive impact on it, because they are confident that it won’t.

These climate criminals are leaving it up to the rest of us to figure this one out by ourselves.


“The greedy do not know how to control themselves. Climate change is the biggest threat that we face, and we are partly facing it because we are allowing the greedy people in our societies to carry on being greedy.”
Danny Dorling, a geography professor at the University of Oxford

» BBC – 17 May 2018:
How the rich fuel climate change
“From private jets to overspending, the planet’s wealthiest may be contributing the most to its changing climate, an Oxford professor argues.”

» The New Yorker – 30 January 2017:
Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich
“Some of the wealthiest people in America — in Silicon Valley, New York, and beyond — are getting ready for the crackup of civilization.”


So where are we at, then? How are we going? And what to do about it? That’s what we continue blogging and podcasting about on this website.

For future records, and in the unlikely case anyone at present time would be interested, below is a collection of ‘climatic clippings’ from the first days of May 2018:

Climatic clippings from the age of the unprecedented


» ABC Radio National | The Science Show – 5 May 2018:
A decade ago climate experts were deeply worried. Now they are terrified – Tim Flannery
“If there is no urgent action very soon, remediation will slip beyond our grasp.”

» Download audio

Climate proclamation from scientists:

“Politicians are gambling with our future”

“The consideration for economic growth must now clearly be secondary to the consideration for sustainability, health, pollution and climate.”
~ 301 Danish researchers’ climate proclamation

The focus on economic growth must give way to a more ambitious climate policy. This is our last chance if the Paris Agreement’s goal of a maximum of 2°C degree global warming is to be redeemed, 301 Danish researchers with various backgrounds wrote in a ‘climate proclamation’ published in the Danish newspaper Politiken on 11 May 2018.

“In relation to the choices that have the biggest impact on our individual climate footprint – such as living without a car, avoiding flying and eating less meat – we are all interdependent with society’s transport and energy infrastructure, demands from our workplaces, and expectations from family, friends and others social relations.

Therefore, what we need is politicians who will take the lead and introduce clear financial incentives. It can be via taxation and regulation of climate-destructive goods and activities, as well as targeted public investment and subsidies aimed at significantly reducing the environmental footprint.

This must be done to a far greater extent than we have seen from the changing governments so far. There are economic risks associated with initiating such major changes in investments, taxes, rules and taxes for any country. But the climate-related and environmental risk of postponing the problems is far greater – no matter whether we define it in financial figures, in international reputation, in biodiversity or in food safety.

Political measures that increase economic growth are directly detrimental to the planet’s ecosystems. Therefore, the consideration for economic growth must now clearly be secondary to the consideration for sustainability, health, pollution and climate.”

» The climate proclamation (in Danish langauge)

» Read many more proclamations from scientists on
www.climatesafety.info/history

Collective awareness sneaking in

The Danish newspaper Information commented:

“When 301 Danish scientists warned in the newspaper Politiken that it’s going totally wacky with the climate, and that we are far behind with solving the problems, it probably gave quite a few of our readers a bit of a chill.

That’s good and important, because things are still not going in the right direction, and we’re not even close to solving the problems, even though we sometimes might get that impression. Around one week before the Danish scientists’ call in Politiken, climate researcher Kevin Anderson delivered roughly the same warnings in Information:

“The first report of the UN Climate Change Panel, IPCC, came in 1990, so for 28 years we have known what we know about the climate, but done nothing. In fact, we have done worse than nothing,” said Professor Anderson, pointing out that since 1990, global CO2 emissions have risen by 60 percent, and that they are still rising. From 2016 to 2017, emissions continued the rise with 1.5 percent.”

“You have just arrived from Britain [to Denmark] today. Did you have a good flight?”

“No, I came by train. I don’t fly. I haven’t flown since 2004.”

“Why is that?”

“It is a very high source of emissions, and I think it is important – those of us who genuinely ARE concerned about climate change, demonstrate that we can still lead reasonable lives in a modern society without having incredibly high emissions.”

“Isn’t this… you know, a bit fanatic?”

“I think it is more fanatic to assume that we can live with four degrees Celsius of warming and all the chaos that that will entail. So I think the fanatical response is the business as usual – the norms that a small elite of us have brought about. So I think it is NOT fanatic – it is almost the opposite.”

» The Conversation – 15 March 2018:
Hope from chaos: could political upheaval lead to a new green epoch?
By Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate Change, University of Manchester




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“As a doctor, why am I distressed…?”

“There is no planet B” said President Macron in an electrifying speech to the American Congress, yet for most of us climate change is of much less concern than the cost of living, taxes, schools and health services. As a slow creeping threat, “unlikely to affect me much anyway”, climate change is easy to dismiss and therefore is never high on the election stakes where it is easy for our leaders to say they are doing everything they should — which they are not.

So as a doctor, why am I distressed by the announcement that gas resources in NT are to be developed and fracked? After all, the NT government indicates it can be managed safely, will occur in sparsely populated regions, will bring jobs and profits for shareholders and restitution for languishing state and federal budgets? The Adani coal mine has signalled to the world more than any spoken word that the Australian Government does not understand or care about climate change.”
~ Dr David Shearman, honorary secretary of Doctors for the Environment Australia and Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Adelaide University

» ABC News – 29 April 2018:
Climate change: Australia’s position is unconscionable for a wealthy country



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Climate crime:

Northern Territory to start disrupting our climate even more

Recent science indicates that with leakage rates as little as three per cent, emissions from gas are no better than coal fired power stations.

The development of gas with fracking in the Northern Territory, now that the moratorium has been lifted, will inevitably cause an increase in Australia’s domestic emissions, as it did in Queensland.

Gases that leak from gas exploration, mining and sealing of wells are called fugitive emissions. Add leaks during transport, loading, distribution and then the burning of gas, and you have the full gas life cycle emissions.

The NT government report acknowledges this problem and hopes piously “that the NT and Australian governments seek to ensure that there is no net increase in the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions emitted in Australia from any onshore shale gas produced in the NT.”

This hope remains unfulfilled in any Australian gas field. Fugitive measurements in Australian gas fields are poorly regulated and are currently unknown. In the US, emissions from unconventional gas mining range from 2 per cent to 17 per cent.

Fracking is used to extract gases, such as coal seam, tight and shale gas by pumping high-pressure water and chemicals into rock, fracturing it to release trapped gasses. There are concerns the chemicals could contaminate groundwater supplies and threaten agricultural industries.

France banned fracking in 2011.



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“Powerful, creative and effective action in the world”

“The world faces an unprecedented convergence of crises. The ecological crisis, which points to a near uninhabitable planet by end of century if business-as-usual continues, is perhaps its most apocalyptic dimension. But the ecological crisis is intimately bound up with the business-as-usual political, economic, and cultural structures of industrial civilization-as-we-know it…”

“Currently, one of the biggest epistemological inhibitors to responding to global crises is that we don’t see them as they are — interwoven crises of a single system. Instead, we abstract them so that we can understand them easily. So we see climate change as separate to the economic recession. We see political violence as separate to food crises…”
~ Nafeez Ahmed, investigative journalist, Insurge Intelligence

» Medium – 4 May 2018:
Only ‘collective intelligence’ can help us stave off an uninhabitable planet
Humanity needs new tools to overcome the global crisis of collective insanity


“We are facing a climate emergency. Climate change demands an urgency and a level of cooperation which is beyond anything the world has ever witnessed, beyond even the level of mobilization seen in World War II. Humanity is racing towards a full-blown crisis. We need radical thinking. We need radical action.”
~ Rolly Montpellier, co-founder of Below2°C and a member of 350.org



» Center for International Climate Reseach – 30 April 2018:
A journey from 5°C to 2°C
“5°C is the temperature increase above pre-industrial levels we are heading for if we follow our path of limited or no climate policy.”





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Hope and mourning in the Age of Ecocide

The modern world is a scary place. The climate is changing, animals are dying, we don’t seem to be able to stop it – and it’s taking a toll on our mental health. Halfway to the Moon asks: can we stay sane in an age of ecocide?



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‘My daughter is right: our generation is wrecking the world for hers’

“Mum and Dad – I don’t want you to be upset at this or anything,” she began. “Well, you’re wrecking the world for my generation. The world is more unsafe than when you were kids, more and more species are going extinct, there are more refugees and the world is meaner to them, there are more wars, there’s more terrorism and more racism and you haven’t stopped climate change. No offence – but it’s true. You’re ruining the world.”
~ Paul Daley, a Guardian Australia columnist



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Dirty Australian politics



“You told me, and agreed with me, on the front lawn of your house, that the global warming stuff was rubbish.”
~ Radio host Alan Jones speaking to the Australian environment minister Josh Frydenberg


My letter to the Australian party leaders

Dear party leaders,

Caring about climate change is not about protecting the environment. It is about protecting us, the average Victorians. Jeff Sparrow formulated it like this in The Guardian on 7 April 2017:

“In reality, the environment’s always been a class issue. Climate change will devastate the poor – and the rich and the powerful will barely notice. Insulated by money, you can still treat nature as an inexhaustible resource to be endlessly abused… The politicians and tycoons with their stock options and property portfolios will still find pleasant locales for their holidays, no matter how degraded the oceans become.”

“79 per cent of Victorians would be proud to live in a state that is leading the way on climate change,” stated the findings of a survey by Sustainability Victoria who in 2016 commissioned Wallis Market and Social Reseach to interview 3,333 Victorians.

Victoria’s communities and environment are already under pressure from the impacts of climate change. There is also the mental pressure which leaves young people distressed and disillusioned. Poll after poll have shown that the majority of Victorians wants to see major political parties taking decisive action to protect our environment.

It is time that you listen. An election year gives you the opportunity to show leadership.

Together with Friends of the Earth Melbourne I urge you to:

• Create the Great Forest National Park and the Emerald Link in East Gippsland, and support a transition plan for the native forestry industry;

• Commit public funds away from major roads and into public transport projects like Metro Tunnel 2;

• Commit to uphold state climate change laws in their current form and deliver a budget for climate solutions – and that includes a carbon emissions target which aims at a 75% reduction at 2030 below the 2005-baseline of 128 million tonnes of CO2e.

• Rule out further public funding or support for new coal technologies and maintain the moratorium on conventional gas drilling;

• Extend and increase the Victorian Renewable Energy Target dramatically.

Yours sincerely,
Mik Aidt
Geelong, Victoria, 3220, Australia



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French challenge to Australia to lift its game

“How could this life be better if we decide to sacrifice the life of our children? It is not an option.”

“Numerous states in the Pacific are at direct risk of disappearing completely in only a few years if we do not take action.”

“Actual leaders are those that can respect those existing interests, but at the same time decide to participate to something broader, to something more strategic.”
~ Emmanuel Macron, French president, speaking in Sydney

» ABC News – 2 May 2018:
Emmanuel Macron calls on Malcolm Turnbull to show ‘power of conviction’ in fighting climate change
“French President Emmanuel Macron has issued a challenge to Australia to lift its game when it comes to tackling climate change.”



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Science can’t solve climate change. Better politics can

» ABC Radio National – 29 April 2018:
The Climate Fetish
“Climate change has caused bushfires to intensify in Australia. However leading climate scientist Mike Hulme says science can’t solve climate change. Only the human imagination will.”

» Download the audio file

» ABC Science – 2 May 2018:
Science can’t solve climate change — better politics can, former IPCC scientist says
“It’s not every day you hear that the climate change debate needs to be “more political and less scientific” — but that is exactly what Mike Hulme is calling for. Mike Hulme is on the advisory board of the Climate and Health Alliance, a coalition of doctors worried about the immediate health effects of air pollution from burning fossil fuels.”



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Simon Corbell: Renewable energy advocate

Simon Corbell, who provides independent advice to Victoria government, delivered this BZE talk in April 2018. He was the key strategist for the ACT 100% renewable targets and implementation. Previously Minister for Energy and Climate change in ACT government. NB: There’s an excellent Q&A session after Corbell’s talk.



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Paul Gilding: The rest is details

Paul Gilding’s book ‘The Great Disruption’ (2011) and TED Talk ‘The Earth is Full’ (2012) laid the foundation for the climate emergency movement, and for the American The Climate Mobilization organization. Margaret Klein Salamon, the founder and director of The Climate Mobilization, checks in with Gilding on whether he is still feeling confident about his predictions, and they discuss when and how the emergency mobilisation will commence.



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Evidence-based library of climate images

Climate Visuals is the world’s first evidence-based library of climate images, where you can search, use and share more diverse and compelling images of climate change.

Based on international social research, Climate Visuals provides seven principles and a growing library of images of climate causes, impacts and solutions from around the world, presented in partnership with some of the world’s leading photographic agencies.

Every day, thousands of images of climate change are shared around the world, but too many still depict polar bears, melting glaciers and smokestacks. These don’t tell the powerful and urgent human stories that are at the heart of the climate challenge: images of people being affected by – and responding to – climate change.

» www.climatevisuals.org



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Call for professionals and experts

Call for energy and sustainability experts to join Solar Impulse’s volunteer expert pool.

Are you an experienced business, technology and sustainability professional working in fields connected to five of the Sustainable Development Goals, namely water, energy, industry, sustainable cities, and responsible consumption/production? Do you want to collaborate with the Solar Impulse Foundation as part of the volunteer expert pool? You can sign up here:

www.solarimpulse.com/experts/subscribe



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» Green Agenda | Tim Hollo – 28 April 2018:
Towards Ecological Democracy – Part 1 | Part 2



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