The CO2-pollution crisis is just as serious as if a large asteroid were on a collision course towards Earth, says a British scientist, and he is backed by calculations from Canadian and US scientists which show that runaway greenhouse effect is a realistic possibility. Meanwhile, on Planet Earth, something that could develop into ‘First Carbon World War’ is building up in its carbon-polluted horizon.
July 2013 news and social media stories – click to see in larger size
Blogpost by Mik Aidt
“This is a war for nothing less than the future of humanity. It will take every one of us. Will you join my call to arms?”
Tony de Brum, Minister-in-Assistance to the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, 30 July 2013 on ABC.net.au: ‘A call to arms on climate change’
One July-weekend in the United States, 2013, Facebook is quivering with photos of activists in Massachusetts, Columbia River, Ohio, Utah, and Washington DC. They are protesting against fossil fuels, and they are getting arrested for their various acts of civil disobedience.
At the same time, dramatic photos are distributed online from a fracking-protest demonstration in Sussex in the United Kingdom. A headline in The Telegraph sounds, “Balcombe protests lead to threat of countrywide rebellion against fracking”.
“Much more resistance is brewing in every corner of the globe,” writes the organisation 350.org on its Facebook-page, so engaged in the ‘carbon-battle’ that they see it only as a “good” thing that currently “every prediction for the future of climate change is grimmer than the last.”
Among those predictions for the future which 350.org probably refer, all published in July 2013, I will highlight these five:
► A new 312-pages report from the US Federal Energy Information Administration which predicts CO2-emissions will increase 46 percent in the next 25 years.
An increase of 46 percent at a time when everyone — and in particular those thousands of UN-delegates who keep flying around to one fruitless COP-summit exercise after the other — knows that we need to reduce the the amount of carbon dioxide flooding into the atmosphere, not to increase them, that is if we, unlike the people in the oil, gas and coal industry, want to avoid the runaway greenhouse scenario and what is being labelled “the biggest genocide in the history of mankind”.
Speaking of that scary runaway greenhouse scenario:
► A team of scientists, led by Colin Goldblatt from the University of Victoria in Canada, quite timely published a disturbing article on this particular topic in the journal Nature Geoscience:
“The runaway greenhouse may be much easier to initiate than previously thought,” they wrote.
To see what might happen to the Earth if it was ever caught in the grip of runaway global warming, it is only necessary to look next door: Venus, our closest neighbour in space, is believed to have experienced a runaway greenhouse effect in the past. Shrouded in a dense carbon dioxide atmosphere, it has an average surface temperature of around 460°C — hot enough to melt lead.
One degree = two metres water rise
“Each degree of global warming may raise world sea levels by more than two metres…”
Climate News Network – 15 July 2013:
Sea levels ‘are set for continuing rise’
Artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm interpreted Climate Central’s sea level rise maps and flood elevation formula to arrive at this visualisation of San Francisco. Credit: Nickolay Lamm / StorageFront.com, Data: Climate Central)
► What such warming of the planet means for our children, grand-children and future generations, in terms of rising sea levels, was lined out to us in the middle of July 2013, when a scientific study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences with the conclusion that “each degree of global warming may raise world sea levels by more than two metres.”
We soon have warmed the planet one full degree Celcius with our burning of oil, gas and coal. And according to the World Bank and various studies and reports, as things stand at the moment, we are heading directly towards a four to six Celcius degrees warmer planet already in this century. Which means within the lifetime our young children.
Even my four-year-old daughter will be able to do the calculation that four degrees in that case equals frightening eight metres of sea level rise.
Artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm interpreted Climate Central’s sea level rise maps and flood elevation formula to arrive at this visualisation of the U.S. city Venice Beach. Credit: Nickolay Lamm / StorageFront.com, Data: Climate Central)
► Another study says at least 316 U.S. cities and towns will be mostly submerged unless pollution can be pulled from the sky. The viability of more than 1,400 cities and towns in the U.S. are threatened by the sea level rise. Dig that.
Many people have the mistaken notion that if greenhouse gas emissions stop, the problem of sea levels rising will go away. “It won’t,” explains author and scientist Benjamin Strauss at Climate Central, a non-profit, non-advocacy research group based in Princeton, to USA Today: “because carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for centuries — even millenniums — and contributes to two factors that raise sea levels: higher temperatures and the loss of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.”
The dire projections suggest that the billions of dollars in damages from 2012’s Superstorm Sandy are a harbinger of the future. “The current trend in carbon emissions likely implies the eventual crippling or loss of most coastal cities in the world,” writes Benjamin Strauss, who directs Climate Central’s programme on rising sea levels. Unless action is taken, Miami will be under water in 2040.
► A third study predicts that the Arctic Ocean will be effectively free of ice for the first time in the month of September between 2054 and 2058.
Rebellion and resistance
The American climate activist organisation 350.org call it a good thing that things are looking grimmer than ever, because they know that it creates incentives and motivation to act.
I still would call it what it is: bad news. Terrible, frustrating news.
Frustrating, because it didn’t have to be this way.
What this cocktail of “grimmer-than-the-last” predictions and popular uprise calls for — I think that is quite obvious, when you hold the quotes on the illustration up and then put two and two together — is that we will quite soon see much more radical anti-oil, anti-coal and anti-fracking rebellion happening around the globe.
What we see at the moment is primarily aimed at attracting media attention to the topic of environmental damage and climate change, but by the time the activists realise that this didn’t change anything after all, the next logical step within the anti-fossil fuel activism is not to give up, but to take it to the next level.
If humanity is heading for something that looks like collective suicide, which it more and more looks like, then there will also be more and more people prepared to do what it takes to resist that development with new methods. We will begin to see vandalism and sabotage with the purpose making oil, gas and coal more expensive to the consumers, as a way to slow down the consumption and the burning of the dirty fuel, and to make renewables more attractive.
History has shown us that there are people who are prepared to kill — and to die — for their country’s independence, or for their god, or both. There will also be people who are prepared to sabotage Big Oil for the sake of the planet, or simply for the future of their own communities, and their own family.
Graphics from the Facebook page AllFiredUpNow
It appears to me neither journalists nor politicians understand these sentiments yet. They are, sadly, not even aware of them.
I certainly sense steam of frustration building up in the forums, social media and at conferences where such topics are discussed. I’d suggest the world’s leaders and their advicers to do some quick strategical thinking before this situation blows up and gets out of control with environmental ‘Breivik-types’ beginning to take initiatives of their own.
Actually, we all have reasons to be angry and frustrated with our political leaders. As it has turned out, they made fools of us when in Copenhagen four years ago they promised us that they would protect humanity and the planet’s ecosystem by ensuring that the global temperature rise would not exceed 2°C degrees.
If the new predictions of the Energy Information Administration turn out to hold, the people who signed the Copenhagen Accord certainly didn’t keep that promise one bit. Not even close.
Who is going to hold them responsible if not the climate activists?
“When the curtains close on Power Shift 2013 in October, you can bet that over 10,000 of us will leave with plans to shut down the fossil fuel industry in every corner of this country…”
Andrew Nazdin, in an e-mail from Energy Action Coalition about the ‘Power Shift’ youth conference in Pennsylvania, USA. Energy Action Coalition is “a youth-led coalition of 50 organisations working together to fight for a clean, just and renewable energy future.”
While it is good, and necessary, to shake things up and create media attention on the topic of catastrophic climate change, we must disapprove of the thought of taking it to that level where lives are lost and even more air is polluted, as is bound to happen in sabotage explosions and fires in oil refineries, gas pipelines, petrol stations, and so on.
A warlike anti-fossil fuel ‘resistance’ situation won’t change the fundamental environmental and mental problems we are up against as societies, and it will turn the majority of people against the activists’ cause. Crossing that line where resistance gets deadly will leave a world of wars to our children.
I can hear the response from the ‘climate rebels’ already, saying: “The alternative, a climate catastrophe, is worse.” Joe Romm of thinkprogress.org took time on 27 May 2013 to paint the picture of what we are currently heading for: “It is a world not merely of endless regional resource wars around the globe. It is a world with dozens of Syrias and Darfurs and Pakistani mega-floods, of countless environmental refugees — hundreds of millions in the second half of this century — all clamoring to occupy the parts of the developed world that aren’t flooded or desertified.”
Somebody with responsibility and insight needs to drop what they have in their hands and whatever it is that keeps them distracted and ignoring the most important political issue they have ever been faced with: think quickly, and launch what the world so badly needs: a simple, realistic political model for how we create a safe climate on this planet.
Are there really so few politicians with enough brains and power to pull this transition through in a strategical and logical manner?
American President Obama took a first step with his significant ‘climate speech’ in the end of June, which was devoted to the urgency of climate change and his plan to combat it despite Congress’ refusal to do the same. What are all the thousands of other political leaders on this planet doing? Why aren’t they speaking up and taking similar first steps?
The activists’ message to you, dear political leaders of the world, is that unless you wake up now and take new, much bolder steps before the activists begin to do so, your societies are heading straight for a new kind of ‘deep anarchy’ and rebellion. Without too much drum noise, we could name it the First Carbon World War.
In this short video, the American actor and writer Rainn Wilson predicts a coming global youth revolution based on a heart-based wisdom, love for our planet and the whole human family… “It is going to have to go with that, or else we will just destroy each other,” he says.
Published on youtube.com on 27 July 2013
“World leaders should look at the climate crisis and population growth with the same seriousness as if a large asteroid were on a collision course towards Earth.”
Stephen Emmott, British scientist
Ignoring the asteroid
What is really strange is that all of the above news stories have not been considered substantial enough to become ‘news stories’ in the mainstream media. Is it because when ‘bad news’ get really bad, they don’t sell newspapers or attract viewers, so everyone just chooses to ignore them?
Not even Obama’s climate speech was reported or quoted in mainstream tv news around the world, let alone the major American tv news.
Personally I only heard about these stories because we luckily have alternatives to the mainstream media nowadays, such as Facebook, Twitter, Scoop.it, News.me, and many more channels and newsletters. I didn’t see any of the above mentioned information in any newspaper or tv news, not even in short telegramme form. Journalists are keeping themselves busy just like politicans and anyone else: busy ignoring all the climate change stories around them.
When Shanghai sweltered through its highest temperatures in at least 140 years during July, I saw lots of reports about it, but I have not seen one journalist who dared to connect the incident with climate change.
And, speaking of the press, how embarrasing it must be for a world leading news provider such as Reuters, an institution who you’d think would be committed to providing fair and independent coverage of climate change, considering this in reality is the biggest journalistic story of the century, to have been exposed in end of July 2013 by a Media Matters for America study that its climate change coverage fell by nearly 50 percent after a ‘climate skeptic’ became editor there.
“By mid-October , I was informed that climate change just wasn’t a big story for the present…”
David Fogarty, former Reuters climate change correspondent in Asia
ThinkProgress.org – 16 July 2013:
Reuters Exposed: Publication Openly Hostile To Climate Coverage, Top Editor Doubts Climate Science
At the time when we didn’t understand the risks that fossil fuel energy projects and climate change pose, politicians and business executives could be excused, somehow, for their decisions to keep investing in the field. But now that we know carbon emissions will be causing sea level rise and disasters on the entire planet, those politicians and business executives who continue this practice should prepare themselves to be convicted for genocide. Most likely not by any authorities, though, but certainly by the activists who will be fighting to stop their dirty business.
And yes, I write ‘dirty’ because it has been revealed again and again that the oil, coal and gas companies are using all kinds of dirty tricks to get approvals for their planet-destructive coal projects. They are protected, even subsidised, by governments which also profit from the carbon-wrecking of the planet.
Our elected politicians are — consciously or unconsciously — playing merchants of death in these years, every time they allow and even enthusiastically support the launch of the new dirty and ruthless oil adventures, only for profit. Had sanity and common sense ruled — and not short-sighted greed for profit on behalf of future generations — we would have come much further with switching over to renewable energy sources by now.
“World leaders should look at the climate crisis and population growth with the same seriousness as if a large asteroid were on a collision course toward Earth. But we are still thinking along the same lines and the same structures,” told the British scientist Stephen Emmott to the Danish newspaper Information.
“A message of changing our way of life is simply too unpopular. Our entire political system is aimed at boosting consumption and irresponsible behavior. Depressingly, even my scientific colleagues prefer to keep a low profile in relation to this issue,” said the researcher and author, Head of Computational Science at Microsoft, who published a new book, ‘Ten Billion’ in July 2013. His solo stage performance of ‘Ten Billion’ at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2012 was widely acclaimed.
“This book won’t tell you to ‘do your bit for the environment’. It won’t tell you to recycle. It won’t tell you to buy an electric car. It’s too late for that. Stephen Emmott, the acclaimed scientist, shows us why time is running out. And what we really need to do about it.”
“Instead of doing everything in our power to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we are on the contrary increasing our efforts to find, extract and use fossil energy only. We look forward to a new shale gas “energy adventure”. The British Government has just issued issued 197 new licenses for oil and gas exploration in the North Sea, the largest number since 1967. Meanwhile, Britain’s use of coal for electricity generation increased with no less than 31 percent last year,” Stephen Emmott said.
And “meanwhile Germany, the EU’s economic powerhouse and a country often regarded as a leader in cutting CO2 emissions, is gradually upping its coal use. It all makes grim reading for those hoping to limit CO2 emissions and prevent runaway global warming. Even in the US — where much has been made of the switch away from coal to less carbon-intensive gas — coal is making a comeback,” wrote Kieran Cooke on 30 July 2013 in Climate News Network.
Meanwhile in China, a new coal-powerplant is opened every second week.
And then again, who are we to condemn the oil, gas and coal industry’s destructiveness, as long as we ourselves — through our pension funds and states as well as our personal consumption — are helping to fund their dirty and environmentally destructive projects? Even a large number of the anti-fossil fuel demonstrators in USA and UK most likely still have a substantial amount of money invested in oil, coal and gas projects through their personal pension funds and superannuation.
The reason why politicians are so reluctant to take action and do what they should be doing, slashing the carbon emissions, is probably rooted in the observation that a transition from fossil fuel to renewables won’t be possible, and certainly won’t be successful, unless billions of citizens want this to happen. We need to change our mindset, our behaviour, even our values and culture. That could be a greater challenge than the technological one, considering the scale needed and the very short time frame we have now.
Stephen Emmott makes it sound quite easy, though, when he says: “We urgently need to move away from this situation where success in business depends on who can most effectively influence public regulation, avoid taxes and even receive subsidies for their harmful activities, all for the sake of maximizing the return for just one stakeholder, namely the company’s shareholders. Instead, we must reward those who are cleverly conserving resources and genuine innovation — not only technological innovation — which can satisfy the demand of a much broader group of stakeholders.”
“The struggle to avert catastrophic climate change is bigger than all the other struggles, whether it is slavery, democracy struggles, the woman’s right to vote, and so on … I would argue that if what is at stake is securing life as we know it, then there can be no bigger struggle that we face.”
Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International — interviewed in a Philippino tv programme on ANC. (13:19-13:35).
Published on Youtube.com on 4 June 2013.
Physics tells us that without action, “sea levels will rise, superstorms like Sandy will become more frequent, floods, droughts, and wildfires will become more severe, entire swaths of the planet will become unfit for human habitation, and millions will die.”
Rush Holt, U.S. Rep. (D), himself a scientist, in an 85-second tv ad
Published on Youtube.com on 22 July 2013.
Take Part – 3 October 2013:
Hot and Angry — Yes, Climate Change Could Increase Conflict
By 2050, increased temperatures and intense storms could cause conflicts between ethnic groups and nations to rise by as much as 56 percent. By Douglas Main
Utne – September/October 2013 issue:
Armed Lifeboat: Government’s Response to Natural Disaster
The U.S. government is dead serious about climate change, but not in the way you might think. While carbon taxes and green grids remain decidedly out of reach on Capitol Hill, planners at the Pentagon have been quietly preparing to take charge of a planet shaken by climate chaos. By Sam Ross-Brown
Thousands of people marched through the streets of Richmond, California to the gates of Chevron’s refinery, where 210 people took part in non-violent civil disobedience.
Inside Climate News – 4 August 2013:
Summer of Discontent: 210 Arrested at Chevron Refinery Protest
More than 200 people were arrested Saturday outside Chevron’s Richmond refinery during a protest over safety issues at the plant and the company’s global environmental practices.
Climate News Network – 1 August 2013:
Climate change stokes violent reaction
An exhaustive study of a wide range of conflicts over thousands of years has found that rising temperatures are inevitably linked to an increase in violence. By Tim Radford
Vice – 30 July 2013:
Big Energy and their police escorts beat anti-fracking protestors in Balcombe this weekend
By Matthew Francey
The Independent – 29 July 2013:
Global-warming Armageddon? It may be more likely than you thought
Calculations from Canadian and US scientists show runaway greenhouse effect is realistic possibility. By John von Radowitz
Motherboard – October 2012:
We Are Now One Year Away From Global Riots, Complex Systems Theorists Say
“As long as climate change continues to advance—it seems that nothing can stop that now—and we maintain a global food system perennially subject to volatile price spikes and exploitation from speculators, without reform, our world will be an increasingly restive one. Hunger is coming, and so are the riots.” By Brian Merchant
EIA: Carbon dioxide emissions will rise
Fossil fuels continue to supply almost 80 percent of world energy use through 2040
The US Federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released a comprehensive 312 pages International Energy Outlook 2013.
It projects that world energy consumption will grow by 56 percent between 2010 and 2040. Fossil fuels continue to supply almost 80 percent of world energy use through 2040.
Given current policies and regulations limiting fossil fuel use, worldwide energy-related carbon dioxide emissions will rise 46 percent. Worldwide energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rise from about 31 billion metric tons in 2010 to 36 billion metric tons in 2020 and then to 45 billion metric tons in 2040.
The two words ‘global warming’ are only mentioned once in the 312 page document: On page 159 it is stated that the EIA projections are “to the extent possible, based on existing laws and policies. Projections for carbon dioxide emissions could change significantly if new laws and policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions were implemented in the future. For example, emissions capand-trade programs, fees, and credits for meeting energy efficiency standards could facilitate global efforts to curb emissions that contribute to global warming.”
» Read more: eia.gov
Climate change means much more than just hotter weather
Quotes from a new 1,146 pages report under way from the American Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee which has engaged more than 240 authors and currently is in the process of reviewing over 4,000 public comments received during a public review period. Report findings:
“Climate change threatens human health and well-being in many ways, including impacts from increased extreme weather events, wildfire, decreased air quality, diseases transmitted by insects, food, and water, and threats to mental health.”
“Human-induced climate change means much more than just hotter weather. Increases in ocean and freshwater temperatures, frost-free days, and heavy downpours have all been documented. Sea level has risen, and there have been large reductions in snow-cover extent, glaciers, permafrost, and sea ice. Winter storms along the west coast and the coast of New England have increased slightly in frequency and intensity. These changes and other climatic changes have affected and will continue to affect human health, water supply, agriculture, transportation, energy, and many other aspects of society.” (…)
“Climate change produces a variety of stresses on society, affecting human health, natural ecosystems, built environments, and existing social, institutional, and legal agreements. These stresses interact with each other and with other non-climate stresses, such as habitat fragmentation, pollution, increased consumption patterns, and biodiversity loss.” (…)
“As climate change and its impacts are becoming more prevalent, Americans face choices. As a result of past emissions of heat-trapping gases, some amount of additional climate change and related impacts is now unavoidable. This is due to the long-lived nature of many of these gases, the amount of heat absorbed and retained by the oceans, and other responses within the climate system. However, beyond the next few decades, the amount of climate change will still largely be determined by choices society makes about emissions. Lower emissions mean less future warming and less severe impacts; higher emissions would mean more warming and more severe impacts.”
You can download the full Draft Report here – (NB: large file, 147MB)
» Background info: ncadac.globalchange.gov
Continue reading about this topic: Activism – fight of our time