David Spratt: This is now or never time

The Paris Climate Agreement was ratified by most countries in the world in 2016. So, two years down the track – how are we are going, then, with following up on that promise to reduce our carbon emissions? Well, the United Nations Environmental Program put it like this: “to date, we have failed.”

Melbourne-based climate researcher David Spratt has written a document for Breakthrough about this.

In our live radio interview in The Sustainable Hour on 18 April 2018, David Spratt told the listeners:

“We can now see that climate change could be so severe that it is what we would now call an existential crisis. In fact, the head of Emergency Management Australia, which is Australia’s and the federal government’s umbrella body for responding to emergencies, like bushfires and so on, a couple of weeks ago he said: “Look, we now face an existential risk which is a risk that could actually put human civilisation to an end, so, this is not you and I saying it on the radio, this is the head of emergency management of the federal government. I think that is important because while people might not be intellectually be able to put together a long argument about what is happening to climate change, I think in our hearts, emotionally, most people in the world – and public opinion show that – we know that we are going to a bad place. The public in general are actually well ahead of the politicians.”

“This idea that we can put off action for another decade is really embedded in the policy making. It is just delusional. Climate change could so significantly affect human society as well as our natural systems that we won’t be there, or won’t live the way we do, and that means that as a society, you’d want to say: “Hey, this is actually number one priority. If we don’t solve this, we won’t be here. And as a society we have to throw everything we need at this. Not overdue a bit now and a bit later. This is emergency. This is our number one priority. This is the sort of thing where we just have to commit every resource we can find, and that would be such a shift from what is happening and the advocacy we are getting at the moment. This is now or never time. I will put it that way.”


David Spratt is a research director for Breakthrough and co-author of ‘Climate Code Red: The case for emergency action’ (Scribe 2008). His recent reports include ‘Recount: It’s time to “Do the math” again’, ‘Climate Reality Check’ and ‘Antarctic Tipping Points for a Multi-metre Sea-level Rise’.

» Resilience – 5 April 2018:
1.5°C of Warming is Closer than We Imagine, Just a Decade Away

Read more
» Breakthrough – 8 April 2018:
1.5°C just a decade away

“The Paris text was a political fix in which grand words masked inadequate deeds. The voluntary national emission reduction commitments since Paris now put the world on a path of 3.4°C of warming by 2100 (as illustrated), and more than 5°C if high-end risks including carbon-cycle feedbacks are taken into account.”
~ David Spratt




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The massacre on our planets ecosystems is in fact a massacre on mankind

“Plans to protect air and water, wilderness and wildlife are in fact plans to protect mankind.”
~ Stewart Udall, United States Secretary of the Interior in 1961-1969


World may hit 2 degrees of warming in 10-15 years thanks to fracking, says Cornell scientist

In 2011, a Cornell University research team first made the groundbreaking discovery that leaking methane from the shale gas fracking boom could make burning fracked gas worse for the climate than coal.

In a sobering lecture released this month, a member of that team, Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, Professor of Engineering Emeritus at Cornell University, outlined more precisely the role U.S. fracking is playing in changing the world’s climate.

» Read more



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“To date, we have failed.” 
~ The United Nations Environmental Program

Almost all governments in the entire world have signed the Paris Climate Agreement, which means they have committed to regulate their countries’ air pollution and responsibly tackle the danger of global warming and climate disruption.

As nice as this may look on paper, the reality is different. In many countries, carbon emissions have continued virtually unabated since the Paris Accord was signed in 2016. Air pollution curves keep rising, and still in 2017, wind, solar and bio energy only contributed 12 per cent of global electricity generation.

And electricity production only makes up a third of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture, deforestation, transportation and many other issues need to be addressed as well.

In other words, there is a very long way to go, and the scale of the challenge is alarming. In particular because when countries so far have proved unable to follow through on their current promise, how are we to believe that at some point soon they will begin to make bolder promises and stick to them?

Meanwhile, global average temperatures on our planet keep rising, year by year, and oceans get more and more acidic from the carbon they absorb.

Some recent clippings from the news media stream:


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United Nations about Australia: Emissions gap

The U.N. Environment Program found in its latest “emissions gap” report that a large number of Group of 20 countries would require further steps to meet their Paris pledges. The list included Australia.

» Washington Post – 20 February 2018:
‘To date, we have failed’: Worldwide nations struggling to meet goals outlined in Paris climate agreement two years ago
“The U.N. Environment Program found in its latest “emissions gap” report that 20 countries would require further steps to meet their pledges, including the United States, Japan and Australia.”



AFP News Agency: “The last three years were the hottest on record, the United Nations weather agency says, citing fresh global data underscoring the dramatic warming of the planet.”

Published on youtube.com on 18 January 2018


» The Revelator – 16 April 2018:
‘Instability, Uncertainty and Chaos’ — How Climate Change Threatens National Security
“Anyone who disregards the threats of climate change “is stupid,” says retired Lieutenant General John G. Castellaw.”


» The New York Times – 22 March 2018:
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rose Last Year. Here Are the Top 5 Reasons
“If the world wants to avoid drastic global warming this century, we’ll need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions sharply in the years ahead. For now, however, we’re still moving in the opposite direction. Renewable energy is growing fast, but not fast enough.”


Antarctica’s outer glaciers melting

“Two new studies in Nature Climate Change found that meeting the aspirational 1.5°C target of the Paris Agreement could “substantially” reduce the frequency of ice-free Arctic summers in the coming decades – but is likely not enough to prevent ice-free conditions altogether.

“Ice loss also increases warming and can influence ocean circulation and weather – all of which can have impacts on people and ecosystems outside of the Arctic,” one lead author told Carbon Brief.

On a similarly icy topic, a separate study out this week provided the most complete assessment of Antarctica’s outer glaciers to date. As lead author Dr Hannes Konrad explained in a guest post for Carbon Brief, between 2011 and 2016 these glaciers lost an area of ice equivalent to the size of Greater London.”
~ Simon Evans at Carbon Brief


The Gulf Stream is about to stop

» Nature – 11 April 2018:
Ocean circulation is changing, and we need to know why
“Long-term monitoring is essential for working out how alterations in the Atlantic Ocean current system will affect the planet.”


Bees will be the first to fall

» Wired – 12 April 2018:
The year is 2050, and as climate change takes hold the bees will be the first to fall
If climate change goals aren’t met, the UK’s countryside will be completely unrecognisable by 2100. This is how that could play out, species by species




We are losing the Great Barrier Reef

» The Sydney Morning Herald – 18 April 2018:
‘Cooked’: Study finds Great Barrier Reef transformed by mass bleaching


We’ve cut half of all trees on the planet

“World’s trees half gone
Earth passed ‘peak tree’ in 2015
Humans have cut down 3 trillion trees in last 11,000 years
3 trillion remain
We chop down 15 billion trees every year
We replant only about 5 billion trees a year.”

~ Prof Ray Wills, 15 April 2018



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Australian Academy of Science



Vox: Why humans are so bad at thinking about climate change

» Vox Climate Lab – 9 episodes



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Talk climate to me — Stay informed with these 4 podcasts

By I ❤ Climate Scientists

Podcasts — at least the ones listed below — dive into issues much deeper than the 140 characters of tweets and tell the climate story in a different way. Check them out:

America Adapts — The Climate Change Podcast with Doug Parsons

Episode 61: California Adapts — The Storytellers

The climate of California is changing and the state is adapting, but are the actions meeting the needs? In this 3 part podcast special sponsored by the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, host Doug Parsons interviews a range of experts as they tell about the state’s five major elements of climate adaptation: fire, drought, flood, temperature, sea level rise.

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Play | Stitcher | Overcast

The Climate Workshop Podcast by Tim DeChristopher & Peter Bowden

Episode 8: Wisdom, Courage, and the West Roxbury Climate Trial with Karenna Gore

A conversation between Tim DeChristopher and his co-defendant Karenna Gore, immediately after the surprising verdict in the West Roxbury pipeline resistance 27 March 2018 climate trial. They discuss their experience of civil disobedience that led to the trial and the ground-breaking result of an acquittal by reason of the necessity defense. Karenna Gore is the director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary.

Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Stitcher | TuneIn | Soundcloud | RSS Feed

Climate Conversations podcast by MIT ClimateX

Season 2 Episode 1: An Appalachian Perspective on Just Transition

A conversation with Nick Mullins, a 5th-generation coal miner turned sustainability advocate, kicks off a 13-episode season devoted to climate justice. Nick unpacks the history and intersecting forces of fossil fuel capitalism, labor, family and environmentalism playing out in coal mining communities.

Apple Podcasts


Forecast: Climate Conversations with Michael White

Episode: Michael Greenstone on environmental economics … and basketball

University of Chicago economist Michael Greenstone and host Michael White discuss how solving the global energy challenge could produce a larger increase in human well-being than a narrower focus on climate change. Greenstone talks about the present golden age of economics, in which data, computing, and experimental work are transforming the field. Michael White is Nature’s editor for climate science.

» Source: I ❤ Climate Scientists



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Here is what #ShellKnew about climate change in the 1980s

Shell knew climate change was going to be big, was going to be bad, and that its products were responsible for global warming all the way back in the 1980s, a tranche of new documents reveal.

Documents unearthed by Jelmer Mommers of De Correspondent, published today on Climate Files, a project of the Climate Investigations Center, show intense interest in climate change internally at Shell.

The documents date back to 1988, meaning Shell was doing climate change research before the UN’s scientific authority on the issue, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was established.

» Read more

» More on the topic of climate science history


How Shell greenwashed its image as internal documents warned of fossil fuels’ contribution to climate change
Shell knew about the relationship between burning fossil fuels and climate change as early as the 1980s. So what did the company decide to do about it? Stop burning fossil fuels?

No. It changed its advertising strategy.

A tranche of documents uncovered last week by Jelmer Mommers of De Correspondent published on Climate Files, a project of the Climate Investigations Center, revealed that Shell knew about the danger its products posed to the climate decades ago. The company has continued to double-down on fossil fuel investment since the turn of the century despite this knowledge.

» Read more

» Source: Desmogblog





» The Independent – 8 April 2018:
Shell predicted dangers of climate change in 1980s and knew fossil fuel industry was responsible
“Authors of confidential documents envisage changes to sea level and weather ‘larger than any that have occurred over the past 12,000 years’.”



“The fraud did not stop with the oil companies. Governments have paid them billions in subsidies and continue to do so, KNOWING that this will produce climate catastrophe. And WHERE are investigative journalists to critique governments for this outrageous irresponsibility?”
~ Elizabeth Woodworth, American author

Energy resources report:

“The dangers of atmospheric contamination”

“There is evidence that the greatly increasing use of the fossil fuels, (…) is seriously contaminating the earth’s atmosphere with CO2. (…) Since CO2 absorbs long-wavelength radiation, it is possible that this is already producing a secular climatic change in the direction of higher average temperatures. This could have profound effects both on the weather and on the ecological balances.
 In view of the dangers of atmospheric contamination (…) Professor [G. Evelyn] Hutchinson [of Yale University] urges serious consideration of the maximum utilization of solar energy.”

~ ‘Energy Resources – A Report to the Committee on Natural Resources of the National Academy of Sciences’, by Marion King Hubbert, 1962, Washington, USA

In 1962, Marion King Hubbert, Chief Geology Consultant at Shell and former director of its research labs, produced a book-length report on the earth’s energy resources for a committee of the National Academy of Sciences. The report shows the oil company’s knowledge of the role of carbon dioxide in climate change.

» Read more on www.climatesafety.info/history



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» Sydney Morning Herald – 6 April 2018:
BP oil claimed as part of its controversial bid to drill in the sensitive marine zone
“Coastal towns would benefit from a “socially acceptable” oil spill in the pristine Great Australian Bight because the clean up would boost their economies.”





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“Thanks to slowing construction and accelerating retirements of old dirty coal plants, the world is headed towards peak coal generation by 2022. That’s right, despite the sheen of inevitability, coal plant expansion is finally, inexorably, coming to an end.”

» Medium – 17 April 2018:
How Fast Can We Move From Peak Coal Plant To None?



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» Newsweek:
Should We Try to Adapt to Climate Change Instead of Trying to Prevent It?
“The human-caused increase in CO2 in the last two centuries has led to a 1.5°C rise in land temperatures.”

» BBC News:
‘I’m not having children because I want to save the planet’
“Anna has chosen not to have children because she doesn’t want to contribute to population growth.”

» Thomson Reuters Foundation – 11 April 2018:
‘We are not a force to be ignored’: Young people take up climate activism
“When I think of climate change, I am driven by fear and anger”