“There’s no other word for where we are now than planetary emergency.”
James Hansen, one of the world’s leading climatologists, September 2012
“The rate of heat building up on Earth over the past decade is equivalent to detonating about four Hiroshima atomic bombs per second. Take a moment to visualize four atomic bomb detonations happening every single second. That’s the global warming that we’re frequently told isn’t happening.”
Dana Nuccitelli in the British newspaper The Guardian, 24 April 2013
Maybe watch this first.
And then this.
“It’s official: global warming could get worse – almost unimaginably worse. Conditions on planet Earth mean that in theory, at least, there could be a runaway greenhouse effect.”
Tim Radford, in Climate News Network on 12 August 2013: ‘A tale of two planets’
“Natural disasters connected to climate change has doubled in two decades.”
Laurent Fabius, French foreign minister and president of negotiations by member states of the UN climate change convention to take place in Paris in December 2015.
“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 Philippino tv programme on ANC (13:19-13:35)
“Ignoring climate change will be the most costly of all possible choices, for us and our children.”
Peter Ewins, British Meteorological Office
“In the year 2065, on current trends, damage from climate change will exceed global GDP.”
Andrew Dlugolecki, General Insurance Development
“At present we are on course for around 5°C by the time the century ends, with no obvious end in sight beyond 2100.”
George Monbiot, in The Guardian
“We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit.”
David Suzuki, scientist and environmentalist
“I still do not understand why we don’t have people on the streets every single day raising their voices for climate.”
Christiana Figueres, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary on 27 June 2013 at a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey.
“Each degree of global warming may raise world sea levels by more than two metres, a new scientific study concludes.”
Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, 15 July 2013: Sea levels ‘are set for continuing rise’
“As the years go by and the world’s nations put off cutting emissions, the odds of staying below 2°C look vanishingly unlikely.
“Ten years ago, it was possible to model a path to 2°C without all these heroic assumptions,” says Peter Frumhoff of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “But because we’ve dallied for so long, that’s no longer true.”
In February, Frumhoff co-authored a paper in Nature Climate Change arguing that policymakers need to take the prospect of breaching the 2°C limit far more seriously than they’re currently doing. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves unprepared for what comes next.”
» Vox – 22 April 2014:
‘Two degrees – How the world failed on climate change’
Why the 2°C limit looks increasingly impossible • What’s so bad about 3°C or 4°C? • The frantic search for alternatives to 2°C. Article by Brad Plumer
Catch a glimpse of the ‘2 Degrees’ movie. The film is an exploration of the moral issue of our age – a documentary about climate justice and community action. It’s Australian made, and captures the backstory of the community campaign in Port Augusta which recently made the news with the announcement by Alinta Energy that they have committed to conducting a full feasibility study into a 50MW stand alone solar thermal power station with storage. The film premiers in Sydney on 20 August 2014.
» More information on: www.2degreesmovie.com
“The White House’s Council of Economic Advisors released a sweeping report on the monetary costs of delaying action on climate change, and it had one glaring conclusion: the longer America waits to act, the more money will be stripped from the U.S. economy. The report, titled ‘The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change’, looks at climate change policy as a form of insurance — that is, a form of self-protection against various forms of risk.”
» ThinkProgress – 29 July 2014: Delaying Climate Policies Could Cost U.S. Economy $150 Billion Each Year, Report Shows
“Climate change is an abstract phenomenon until you consider specific people and places. Then the consequences of rising oceans and extreme heat become all too scary.”
Ben Schiller, staff writer for Co.Exist
One July-weekend in the United States 2013: Massachusetts, Columbia River, Ohio, Utah, and Washington DC stood up against fossil fuels. “Much more resistance is brewing in every corner of the globe,” wrote 350.org who are so see it as a “good” thing that “every prediction for the future of climate change is grimmer than the last.”
• A new 312-pages report from the US Federal Energy Information Administration predicts CO2-emissions will increase 46 percent in the next 25 years.
• A team of scientists, led by Colin Goldblatt from the University of Victoria in Canada, wrote in the journal Nature Geoscience: “The runaway greenhouse may be much easier to initiate than previously thought. A renewed modelling effort is needed, addressing both Earth and planetary science applications.”
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.
• Every year, the Arctic is losing around 78,000 square kilometres of sea ice – an area larger than the Republic of Ireland. And as we lose the sea ice and heat up the ocean, more permafrost is encouraged to melt, releasing methane and creating a vicious circle of warming. The Antarctic peninsula has warmed by 3°C in summer and 5°C in winter in the last 60 years.
• And: “Stand by for extreme weather. Prepare for heat waves on a scale that was once unprecedented. For once, there is no ‘if’ in the forecast. Even if governments abandon fossil fuels everywhere, immediately and invest only in green energy, there will be new record temperatures. The greenhouse gas emissions of the last few decades now mean that regions of the planet subjected to extreme heat will double by 2020 and quadruple by 2040,” wrote Tim Radford in Climate News Network on 15 August 2013.
• The price tag for climate-related extreme weather reached 188 billion US dollars just in 2011 and 2012.
And the work by Michael Mann suggests that the most likely probability given current policy responses is that the earth will reach +2ºC by about 2036 – ie. about 20 years from now. Because +2ºC is too hot, Mann’s work indicates that we have less than 20 years to cut the world’s emissions to zero and to start drawing the excess CO2 out of the air.
» Scientific American – 18 March 2014:
Earth Will Cross the Climate Danger Threshold by 2036
In short: bad news.
Warnings from scientists
» The Guardian – 17 July 2015:
Warming of oceans due to climate change is unstoppable, say US scientists
“Seas will continue to warm for centuries even if manmade greenhouse gas emissions were frozen at today’s levels, say US government scientists”. Article by Suzanne Goldenberg
» The Independent – 18 March 2014:
Official prophecy of doom: Global warming will cause widespread conflict, displace millions of people and devastate the global economy
Leaked draft report from UN panel seen by The Independent is most comprehensive investigation into impact of climate change ever undertaken – and it’s not good news
» The Guardian – 18 March 2014:
Climate change is putting world at risk of irreversible changes, scientists warn
AAAS, America’s premier scientific society, makes rare policy intervention urging US to act swiftly to reduce carbon emissions and lower risks of climate catastrophe
From the 1850s onwards, man has pumped large amounts of carbon dioxide from coal, oil and gas into the atmosphere. Compared to 0.028 percent previously, the CO2 level today stands at 0.040 percent.
Every day, we release 90 million tonnes of global warming pollution into the atmosphere.
As a rule of thumb, global temperatures rise by about 1.5°C for each trillion tonnes of carbon put into the atmosphere. The world has pumped out half a trillion tonnes of carbon since 1750, and temperatures have risen by 0.8°C since the beginning of the last century. It has risen by twofold in Denmark. During the same period, the average annual amount of rain has increased by nearly 20 percent – from 640 to 765 mm – in Denmark, while solar radiation in Spain has increased by 2.3 percent every decade since the 1980s.
At current emission rates, the next half-trillion tonnes of carbon will be emitted by 2045; the one after that before 2080.
350 or bust: Scientists warn even 2°C warming leads to ‘disastrous consequences’ and must be avoided
Humanity is choosing to destroy a livable climate, warn 18 of the world’s leading climate experts in a new study:
“We conclude that the widely accepted target of limiting human-made global climate warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the preindustrial level is too high and would subject young people, future generations and nature to irreparable harm.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel use must be reduced rapidly to avoid irreversible consequences such as sea level rise large enough to inundate most coastal cities and extermination of many of today’s species.”
» ThinkProgress – 3 December 2013: thinkprogress.org
“With CO2 stabilized at 400–450 ppm (as required for the frequently quoted “acceptable warming” of 2°C), we infer a likely long-term sea-level rise of more than nine meters above the present. Therefore, our results imply that to avoid significantly elevated sea level in the long term, atmospheric CO2 should be reduced to levels similar to those of preindustrial times,” a paper in PNAS concludes. PNAS — Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America — is one of the world’s most-cited multidisciplinary scientific serials.
400–450 CO2-parts per million… what does that measurement mean exactly? It means the level where we already are now:
In March 2013, a headline of scienceblogs.com sounded: An Inevitable Headline in 2014: “Planet’s CO2 level reaches 400 ppm for first time in human existence.”. But as it turned out, already two months later, the first report of levels of 400 ppm ticked in.
“Never in the history of the planet have humans altered the atmosphere as radically as we are doing so now. And the climatic consequences for us are likely to be radical as well, on a time-scale far faster than humans have ever experienced,” commented Peter Gleick, a world-renowned expert on water and climate issues, leader of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, on 7 March 2013:
“That’s a significant and shocking figure. Unfortunately, it is only a temporary marker on the way to even higher and higher levels.”
One of the world’s leading campaigners for carbon cutting took the name 350.org because scientists had told us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level to below 350 ppm in order to preserve our planet.
“Another step on the march to disaster”
“No one knows exactly when CO2 levels were last this high; the best guess is the mid-Pliocene, about three million years ago. At that point, summertime temperatures in the Arctic were 14°F degrees warmer than they are now and sea levels were some 75 feet higher. When the milestone was passed, Keeling’s son Ralph, a geochemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, glossed the event as follows: “It means we are quickly losing the possibility of keeping the climate below what people thought were possibly tolerable thresholds.” Maureen Raymo, a marine geologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, was more blunt. “It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster,” she told the Times.”
» The New Yorker – 27 May 2013:
Watch 62 years of global warming in 13 seconds:
Bad news about the frightening runaway climate scenario – the so-called “amplifying feedbacks”
Climate scientists have discovered “a self-reinforcing effect” whereby increased CO2 in the air increases the frequency of the most extreme kinds of weather, which in turn puts more CO2 in the air.
“A major new study in Nature, ‘Climate extremes and the carbon cycle’, points to yet another significant carbon cycle feedback ignored by climate models. The news release sums up the key finding of this 18-author paper: Researchers “have discovered that terrestrial ecosystems absorb approximately 11 billion tons less carbon dioxide every year as the result of the extreme climate events than they could if the events did not occur. That is equivalent to approximately a third of global CO2 emissions per year.”
“Add this to the amplifying feedback whereby ocean acidification may amplify global warming this century up to 0.9°F. And there is a third major carbon feedback unmodeled by the new IPCC report — the thawing permafrost — which is projected to add up to 1.5°F to total global warming by 2100.”
Joe Romm, one of America’s most renowned climate change bloggers, ends his article by writing:
“Is anyone listening? The time to act to slash manmade carbon emissions is NOW — before we devastate the biosphere’s ability to store carbon.”
» ClimateProgress – 28 August 2013:
Vicious Cycle: Extreme Climate Events Release 11 Billion Tons Of CO2 Into The Air Every Year
“How will poets memorialize us? How will we be remembered if, like the British light cavalry charging a well-prepared Russian artillery battery in the Crimean War in 1854, we don’t reason why, we just keep on our current path even though it is self-evidently suicidal.
Certainly as we hit 400 parts per million for the first time in human existence, with not even a plan to avoid 600 ppm, 800 ppm, and then 1000 — not even a national discussion or an outcry by the so-called intelligentsia – it is worth asking, why? Is there something inherent in homo “sapiens” that makes us oblivious to the obvious?”
Joe Romm in Think Progress on 5 May 2013
» The Guardian – 10 May 2013:
Climate milestone is a moment of symbolic significance on road of idiocy
The only way forward is back: to retrace our steps and seek to return atmospheric concentrations to around 350ppm. By George Monbiot
» The Economist – 11 May 2013:
Four hundred parts per million
The only good news about the Earth’s record greenhouse-gas levels is that they have been well measured. Numbers as clear as Keeling’s are a rarity.
» Think Progress – 5 May 2013:
Into The Valley Of Death Rode The 600, Into The Valley Of 400 PPM Rode The 7 Billion
By Joe Romm
» The Keeling Curve – 25 April 2013:
What Does 400 ppm Look Like?
Recent estimates suggest CO2 levels reached as much as 415 parts per million (ppm) during the Pliocene. With that came global average temperatures that eventually reached 3 or 4 degrees C (5.4-7.2 degrees F) higher than today’s and as much as 10 degrees C (18 degrees F) warmer at the poles. Sea level ranged between five and 40 meters (16 to 131 feet) higher than today.
» Responding to Climate Change – 26 April 2013:
CO2 level nears 400ppm climate milestone
Global atmospheric CO2 concentration is edging towards the 400 parts per million (ppm) mark for the first time in millions of years. By John Parnell
» Sydney Morning Herald – 29 April 2013:
Greenhouse gas levels higest in 3 million years
By Ben Cubby
» Agence France-Presse (AFP) – 29 April 2013:
Climate chief warns of ‘urgency’ as CO2 levels rise
The UN’s climate chief called for urgency Monday as she opened a new round of global talks amid warnings that Earth-warming carbon dioxide levels were approaching a symbolic threshold never seen in human history.
» Inside Climate News – 30 April 2013:
All Eyes on Keeling Curve: Scientists Anxious as CO2 Levels to Cross 400 PPM
‘Stronger storms, droughts, rising seas. We are already seeing the impacts of increased CO2 in the atmosphere … How much further can we really go?’ By Katherine Bagley, InsideClimate News
» Mother Jones – 7 March 2013:
The Scariest Climate Change Graph Just Got Scarier
Temperatures are rising rapidly. By Tim McDonnell
Here is a good article which sums up a lot of the scientific knowledge on the topics:
» Think Progress – 14 October 2012:
An illustrated guide to the science of global warming impacts: how we know inaction is the gravest threat humanity faces
By Joe Romm
» TasmanianTimes.com – 13 May 2013:
The Four Reports of the Climate Apocalypse?
In November 2012, four reports relevant to climate change appeared within the short span of about three weeks. Alerted by brief media reports I went and found them online. Even after just reading their summaries I was alarmed. Here is my summary of them, in the order in which they appeared. By David Hamilton
World Bank warns
A report from the World Bank, ‘Turn Down the Heat: why a 4°C warmer world must be avoided’ in November 2012, calculated that the measures suggested to tackle climate change are unlikely to keep temperature rise below three degrees. The report concluded that if the current mitigation pledges are not fully implemented, warming of 4°C could occur as early as the 2060s.
A 4°C degree world would be one of “unprecedented heatwaves, severe drought and major floods in many regions,” the World Bank report warns us on climatechange.worldbank.org
A report entitled ‘Peak Planet’ was published in March 2013 by London-based HSBC — a banking and financial services company, which is the sixth largest public company in the world.
Pricewaterhouse Coopers warns
Pricewaterhouse Coopers, the world’s largest professional services firm, published a report saying “We have passed a critical threshold”, the US National Climate Assessment, the International Energy Agency, MIT… they have all recently published reports that warn of catastrophic consequences of carbon emissions.
“The option to avoid 2°C degrees of global warming — our goal for more than 10 years — is out of reach: we have emitted too many greenhouse gases and are on a much warmer trajectory. In 2000, we had many choices regarding global warming, but instead of reducing emissions in various ways, we elected to accelerate. Global greenhouse gas emissions have increased in all but one year since 2000, and those compounding emissions increases have dramatically diminished our choices.
By exceeding 2°C degrees, we will have caused “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. If we allow warming to reach, say, 4° degrees of warming, we will likely have created a chaotic world, i.e. a world with an unstable environment.”
The World Bank Report, 2012, quoted by Tom Giesen in his article How We’re making a Frankenstein’s Monster of our Climate, Informed Comment, 31 March 2013
Sea level rise
Many studies identify sea level rise as one of the most certain responses to four degrees warming. Globally averaged, that much warming could translate to sea level rise of between 0.5 and two metres, depending on the rate of melting from ice on land. The middle estimates from the new RCP8.5 puts sea level rise at 1.1 metres by 2100. Another source states that “Sea levels have been rising 3 millimetres a year and are projected to rise by up to 59 centimetres this century.”
One study simply states that each degree the global temperature rises will result in two meters of sea level rise.
Tens of millions — some say hundreds of millions — of people will be displaced by drought and rising seas and must look for a new home. In particular in the poorest countries on the planet.
“The new findings confirm that “sea level is rising and … the rise has accelerated, with the most recent rates being the highest on record,” Stefan Rahmstorf, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and a world expert in past sea levels, told Reuters. Scenarios range from a sea level rise of 28 to 98 cms this century, based on the processes driving sea level change, for instance how ice in Greenland reacts to rising temperatures or the expansion of water as it warms.”
» Source: www.reuters.com
» Climate News Network – 15 July 2013:
Sea levels ‘are set for continuing rise’
“Each degree of global warming may raise world sea levels by more than two metres, a new scientific study concludes.”
» The Guardian & The Observer – 12 May 2013:
Climate change ‘will make hundreds of millions homeless’
Carbon dioxide levels indicate rise in temperatures that could lead agriculture to fail on entire continents. By Robin McKie, science editor
The video above is a recommendable recording of a guest-sermon by American author and activist Bill McKibben — about climate change — which he held in a church in New York in April 2013. Regardless of which religion you belong to, watch it. If you are in a hurry, the first 5:30 minutes can be skipped or fast-forwarded through.
According to Bill McKibben and his organisation 350.org, fossil fuel corporations currently have in their reserves five times the amount of carbon that, if burned too quickly, may raise atmospheric temperatures to a catastrophic level where Hurricane Sandy-scale storms could become the norm.
In 2011 The Met Office produced this interactive map showing potential changes in extreme temperatures and precipitations, highlighting the effects that could have on humans, crops and marine life.
“Emissions have increased 54 per cent since 1990, putting the world on-track to be between 4 and 6 degrees hotter by 2100 unless action is taken,” said another report released in 2012 by a consortium of scientists calling themselves the Global Carbon Project.
Assuming no CO2 further is added to the atmosphere right now, we still have 40 years of heating ahead of us before the climate reaches equilibrium. But what our world leaders are talking about now is not even to stop the emissions. They discuss how to reduce global CO2 emissions by some percentages — by 2030, 2050 or later.
China is the world’s leading user and producer of coal. China burns more coal than America, Europe, and Japan combined. In 2009, China was reported to be building one new coal-fired power plant of 2 gigawatts each week. China’s coal problems is a global problem.
The International Energy Agency said that global coal use — now close to 8 billion tons a year — could increase by 65 percent by 2035 if current energy trends continue. A recent independent analysis reported that 1,200 new coal-fired power plants are being proposed worldwide, three-quarters of them in India and China.
“Existing government pledges are not enough”
“Existing government pledges are not enough to stop dangerous climate change. In fact they are falling further short than ever.”
Simon Anderson, the International Institute for Environment and Development in Edinburgh, United Kingdom.
“By delaying emissions cuts, the world is simply deciding to pay more for them later,” he told New Scientist in November 2012.
“Warming poised to destroy stable climate”
When researchers at Oregon State University and Harvard University published their findings on 8 March 2013 in the journal Science that the earth is hottest now, and getting hotter, the world’s biggest news agencies wired the story to newspapers around the world.
Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, told the Associated Press: “It is the single most self-destructive act humanity has ever undertaken.”
» Thinkprogress.org – 8 March 2013:
Bombshell: Recent warming is ‘amazing and atypical’ and poised to destroy stable climate that enabled civilization
New science study confirms ‘hockey stick’: the rate of warming since 1900 is 50 times greater than the rate of cooling in previous 5,000 years. By Joe Romm
Oceans have been warming dramatically
On 21 March 2013, a new study of ocean warming was accepted for publishing in Geophysical Research Letters by Balmaseda, Trenberth, and Källén. Completely contrary to the popular contrarian myth, global warming has accelerated, with more overall global warming in the past 15 years than the prior 15 years. This is because about 90 percent of overall global warming goes into heating the oceans, and the oceans have been warming dramatically.
Perhaps the most important result of this paper is the confirmation that while many people wrongly believe global warming has stalled over the past 10–15 years, in reality that period is “the most sustained warming trend” in the past half century. Global warming has not paused, it has accelerated.
The paper is also a significant step in resolving the ‘missing heat’ issue, and is a good illustration why arguments for somewhat lower climate sensitivity are fundamentally flawed if they fail to account for the warming of the oceans below 700 metres. We need to measure global warming by accounting for all changes in global heat content, including the deeper oceans. Otherwise we can easily fool ourselves into underestimating the danger of the climate problem we face.
» Read more: climatecrocks.com
Water stress – Water wars
United Nations’ secretary-general Ban Ki-moon warned that by 2030 nearly half the world’s population could be facing a scarcity of water with demand outstripping supply by 40 percent. With a growing global population and climate change, he said, “competition is growing among farmers and herders; industry and agriculture; town and country; upstream and downstream; and across borders.”
» Washington Post – 22 March 2013:
UN chief warns that nearly half the world could face a scarcity of water by 2030
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is warning that by 2030 nearly half the world’s population could be facing a scarcity of water, with demand outstripping supply by 40 percent. By Associated Press
“Big CO2-jump brings climate catastrophe closer”
The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere underwent one of its biggest single-year jumps ever in 2012, according to researchers at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. Between the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2013, carbon dioxide levels increased by 2.67 parts per million — a rise topped only by the spike in 1998.
UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said that “staggering global temps show urgent need to act. Rapid climate change must be countered with accelerated action.”
Pieter Tans, who leads the greenhouse gas measurement team for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said the major factor was an increase in fossil fuel use. “It’s just a testament to human influence being dominant. The prospects of keeping climate change below that [two-degree goal] are fading away,” he told the Associated Press.
» Thinkprogress.org – 6 March 2013:
Big One-Year Jump In Atmospheric CO2 Brings Climate Catastrophe Closer
By Jeff Spross
» The Guardian – 8 March 2013:
Large rise in CO2 emissions sounds climate change alarm
Hopes for ‘safe’ temperature increase within 2C fade as Hawaii station documents second-greatest emissions increase. By John Vidal
…and we couldn’t care less
The perceived seriousness of climate change has fallen particularly sharply since the unsuccessful UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December 2009.
Environmental concerns among citizens around the world have been falling since 2009 and have now reached twenty-year lows, according to a multi-country GlobeScan poll. The findings are drawn from the GlobeScan Radar annual tracking poll of citizens across 22 countries. A total of 22,812 people were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone during the second half of 2012. Twelve of these countries have been regularly polled on environmental issues since 1992.
» Read more: sustainablefutures.info
The journalists and editors couldn’t care less either
As mentioned above, when researchers at Oregon State University and Harvard University published their findings on 8 March 2013 in the journal Science that the earth is hottest now, and getting hotter, the world’s biggest news agencies wired the story to newspapers around the world, and what did the editors do? Did they give it priority and a headline on the front page? No. Of course not. As seen in this example from Herald Sun in Australia, they squeezed it in on the bottom of page 19.
In short, if we have hopes to re-mobilise the public to take environmental issues serious, we are very much in need of new messages.
Todd Gitlin — professor of journalism and sociology and chair of the PhD programme in Communications at Columbia University — has a long critique of the media at TomDispatch. He wrote on 25 April 2013:
“…If the press has, until very recently, largely failed us on the subject, the TV news is a disgrace. Despite the record temperatures of 2012, the intensifying storms, droughts, wildfires and other wild weather events, the disappearing Arctic ice cap, and the greatest meltdown of the Greenland ice shield in recorded history, their news divisions went dumb and mute. The Sunday talk shows, which supposedly offer long chews and not just sound bites — those high-minded talking-head episodes that set a lot of the agenda in Washington and for the attuned public — were otherwise occupied.
All last year, according to the liberal research group Media Matters:
“The Sunday shows spent less than 8 minutes on climate change… ABC’s This Week covered it the most, at just over 5 minutes… NBC’s Meet the Press covered it the least, in just one 6 second mention… Most of the politicians quoted were Republican presidential candidates, including Rick Santorum, who went unchallenged when he called global warming ‘junk science’ on ABC’s This Week. More than half of climate mentions on the Sunday shows were Republicans criticizing those who support efforts to address climate change… In four years, Sunday shows have not quoted a single scientist on climate change.”
The mounting financial troubles of journalism only tighten the muzzle on a somnolent watchdog.
It’s unlikely that serious business coverage will be beefed up by media companies counting their pennies on their way down the slippery circulation slope. Why invest in scrutiny of government regulators when the cost is lower for celebrity-spotting and the circulation benefits so much greater?
Meanwhile, the nation’s best daily environmental coverage takes a big hit. In January, the New York Times’s management decided to close down its environmental desk, scratching two environmental editor positions and reassigning five reporters. How could such a move not discourage young journalists from aiming to make careers on the environmental beat?
The rolling default in climate-change coverage cries out for the most serious professional self-scrutiny. Will it do for journalists and editors to remain thoroughly tangled up in their own remarkably unquestioned assumptions about what constitutes news?”
Canadian enviromentalist David Suzuki comments on global climate change and the media
Posted on YouTube.com on 30 October 2012.
“When future generations look back on the scandals of our age, it’ll be the unchecked rise in global temperatures, not the Benghazi talking points, that infuriate them.”
Ezra Klein, 16 May 2013
» Salon – 15 May 2013:
Media indifference enables global warming
Carbon dioxide levels are as high as they’ve been in millions of years. Why isn’t this a bigger story? By Marty Kaplan
» GreenBiz – 26 March 2013:
Sprint CEO: Customers not asking for green products
“Sustainability is paying off in cost savings and long-term brand image, even if customers aren’t yet paying attention to whether the phones themselves are green.” By Nina Kruschwitz
Top activist says environmental movement is failing
“We are slowing the decline, perhaps, but not nearly enough. We don’t have a movement. We have a niche. It’s mostly mono-chromatic in culture, in political belief, and in socioeconomic status.”
“The environmental movement is fractured and environmentalists need to demonstrate the value of nature to businesses, include more rural people in the movement, and motivate young people.”
M. Sanjayan, CBS News environmental contributor and lead scientist at the Nature Conservancy
» GreenBiz.com – 7 February 2013:
Why We’re Turned Off and Tuned Out to Environmental Crises
“When it comes to climate change, the fall in concern since 2009 has eroded the head of steam that appeared to be building around this issue over the course of more than a decade. Now, barely half of those polled consider it a “very serious” problem.” By Sam Mountford
Climate change denial
“The myth that human made CO2 builds up and sticks in the atmosphere for 100′s of years is just more scary religious crap.”
“Global Warming is complete idiocy.”
“They’ll throw a study at you and demand you refute it. When you do refute it, they throw another study at you. When you refute that one, they throw yet another. Since the internet provides instant access to millions of studies, they have no lack of supply and as you knock down each silly study, another is thrown at you. Eventually, when you quit the stupid process, the Dr. Jimbys go, ‘Aha! I win!’ ”
Comments written on 24 March 2013 below the article The Engineer Behind the Climate Change Train Wreck
By Leslie Eastman
16 percent: The number of Americans alarmed about climate change in 2012.
YaleDailyNews.com, 2 April 2013
UPDATE June 2013: The majority of Americans, or 63 per cent, now believe there is solid evidence that global warming is real, according to a poll from the National Surveys on Energy and Environment.
37 percent: The number of Americans who believe global warming to be a hoax
The Guardian, 2 April 2013
“The rate of heat building up on Earth over the past decade is equivalent to detonating about four Hiroshima atomic bombs per second. Take a moment to visualize four atomic bomb detonations happening every single second. That’s the global warming that we’re frequently told isn’t happening.”
Why is Reuters puzzled by global warming’s acceleration?
‘Climate scientists struggle to explain warming slowdown,’ said Reuters. But warming is speeding up, and scientists can explain it
‘Signs of rapidly escalating severity’
“Humankind finds itself engaged in what Prince Charles described as ‘an act of suicide on a grand scale’, facing what the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor John Beddington called a ‘perfect storm’ of environmental problems. The most serious of these problems show signs of rapidly escalating severity, especially climate disruption.”
Eminent Stanford University scientists Paul and Anne Ehrlich have issued a report titled “Can a Collapse of Global Civilization be Avoided?” in the 8 January 2013 issue of Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences division, revealing that “global collapse appears likely.”
Democracies incapable of adequately addressing climate change
“I have a feeling that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while.”
James Lovelock, the first scientist to discover the presence of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons in the atmosphere. 29 March 2010.
‘The Frozen Spring’
In case you were wondering: Yes, scientists have linked the ‘frozen spring’ in North Europe to dramatic Arctic sea ice loss. Melting sea ice, exposing huge parts of the ocean to the atmosphere, explains extreme weather both hot and cold, wrote John Vidal, environment editor, in The Guardian, 25 March 2013:
Scientists link frozen spring to dramatic Arctic sea ice loss
‘The Angry Summer’
“The decisions we make this decade will largely determine the severity of climate change and its influence on extreme events for our grandchildren.”
Quote from the report ‘The Angry Summer’ by the Australian Climate Commission
In Australia, the summer of 2013 was the hottest in the country’s records. The US also had the hottest summer on record in 2012. “In summary, there is now an ongoing fundamental shift in the climate system,” the Australian Climate Commission’s latest report said. The report, entitled ‘The Angry Summer’, has been reviewed for accuracy by scientists from leading universities, the Bureau of Meteorology and the CSIRO, and endorsed by a range of emergency services and health groups, including the Australian Medical Association.
» The Age — 4 March 2013:
Climate change a key factor in extreme weather, experts say
The fossil-fuel lock-in
“Nobody has more political muscle than the fossil fuel industry,” wrote Fred Pearce, a consultant on environmental issues, in his article in the magazine New Scientist on 26 January 2013.
Corporate shareholders of the fossil fuel industry hold the US “locked into 20th century technologies that are quite incapable of solving 21st century problems,” he explained in the article:
“Changing course is hard. Really hard. Part of the reason for the lock-in is the vast infrastructure dedicated to sustaining the supply of coal, oil and gas. There is no better symbol of that than a new pipeline. Partly it is political. Nobody has more political muscle than the fossil fuel industry, especially in Washington. And partly it is commercial.”
Fred Pearce quotes Schellnhuber as saying: “Heavy investments in fossil fuels have led to big profits for shareholders, which in turn leads to greater investments in technologies that have proven to be profitable. The result is domination by an outdated energy system that stifles alternatives.”
Profit. Political muscle. Stifling of the alternatives. Don’t we all know this? I can’t resist from bringing this old cartoon back into the picture here, because somehow it still sums up everything there is to say about this situation we are in, and which shortsighted profit-makers apparently don’t mind putting their own children in:
» New Scientist – 28 January 2013:
Is Obama about to blow his climate credentials?
The US president could be poised to approve the doubling of imports of tar sands oil, one of the filthiest fuels on Earth. By Fred Pearce
“Looking back, I underestimated the risks
The planet and the atmosphere seem to be absorbing less carbon than we expected, and emissions are rising pretty strongly. Some of the effects are coming through more quickly than we thought then.”
Lord Nicholas Stern, author of the government-commissioned review on climate change that became the reference work for politicians and green campaigners, now says — in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos — that he underestimated the risks, and should have been more ‘blunt’ about the threat posed to the economy by rising temperatures.
» The Guardian – 26 January 2013:
Nicholas Stern: ‘I got it wrong on climate change – it’s far, far worse’
Author of 2006 review speaks out on danger to economies as planet absorbs less carbon and is ‘on track’ for 4C rise. By Heather Stewart and Larry Elliott
“Things are changing in the arctic much faster than any of our models would have made us to believe.”
Charles Miller, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
“This is an animated visualization of the startling decline of Arctic Sea Ice, showing the minimum volume reached every September since 1979. It is clear that the Arctic will soon be ice-free for an increasing part of the year, with consequences for the climate. The rate of ice loss in the Arctic is staggering. Since 1979, the volume of Summer Arctic sea ice has declined by more than 80% and accelerating faster than scientists believed it would, or even could melt.
The first ice-free summer in the Arctic Ocean is expected to happen between 2016 and 2022.”
» Produced by Andy Lee Robinson who published it on YouTube.com on 22 April 2013.
» The Carbon Brief – 14 February 2013:
New satellite data confirms major Arctic ice loss
» Climate Central – 22 March 2013:
Study Shows Canada’s Far North Glaciers Are Melting Fast
Research by European-funded scientists has shown that 20 percent of the Canadian Arctic glaciers may have disappeared by the end of this century, which would mean an extra sea level rise of 3.5 centimetres. By Alex Kirby
» Ecology.com – 8 April 2013:
The Melting Arctic
The extent of the sea ice in the Arctic reached a new record low in September 2012. Climate change is melting the sea ice in the region at a rate much faster than estimated by earlier projections. The snow cover also shows a downward trend. The melting Arctic might impact not only the people living in the region, but also elsewhere in Europe and beyond.
Report from EEA about climate in Europe
The EEA recently published a report on the impacts of, and vulnerability to, climate in Europe. The report includes many indicators on changes in the climate system and the cryosphere, indicators of impacts on the environment and society and indicators on changes in the Arctic cryosphere (Arctic sea ice and Greenland ice sheet).
According the EEA report, climate change is affecting all regions in Europe, causing a wide range of impacts. Further impacts are expected for the future, potentially causing high damage costs. The report highlights the need for adaptation in all regions and sectors across Europe.
» Read more on: www.eea.europa.eu
» The Raw Story – 6 May 2013:
Scientists: Climate change causing Arctic Ocean to acidify at alarming rate
Scientists with the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) warned Monday morning that the Arctic Ocean is acidifying much more rapidly than previously thought, adding that it will be “tens of thousands of years” before the worst effects of climate change on the Arctic Ocean can be mitigated. By Stephen C. Webster
» Common Dreams – 6 May 2013:
Climate Change’s ‘Evil Twin': Ocean Acidification
New comprehensive study outlines rapidly acidifying Arctic Ocean caused by CO2 emissions. By Andrea Germanos
“Passed a critical threshold”
“We have passed a critical threshold,” says a report from the world’s largest professional services firm, Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
“Now one thing is clear: businesses, governments and communities across the world need to plan for a warming world – not just 2°C, but 4°C or even 6°C.”
“Even if we were somehow able to double our rate of de-carbonization, we would still be on track to hit a 6° degree increase by the end of the century. The only chance we have to hold temperatures to 2° degrees, would be to come up with a six-fold reduction in carbon emissions, which may be possible eventually, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon.”
A reduction in carbon intensity of 5.1 percent per year is needed if we are to meet the target of limiting temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. However, last year, despite the economic slowdown, we saw a reduction of only 0.7 percent, which has been typical of every year since the turn of the century.
Author and reporter RP Siegel wrote an article about this in Triple Pundit, it was published on 13 March 2013. Siegel takes the next step and concludes: businesses should begin to prepare themselves for this. And then he delivers a ‘Top Ten Effects of Global Warming on Business’
Five years to 2020 – and we are NOT on track
A new study shows that we have to reduce emissions even more than scientists initially thought in order to avoid climate change’s worst impacts.
A paper published in Energy Policy on 20 February 2013 by Michel den Elzen and colleagues examines new information on likely future emissions trajectories in developing countries.
The report finds that developed countries must reduce their emissions by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 if we are to have a medium chance of limiting warming to 2°C, thus preventing some of climate change’s worst impacts.
In other words, the world may need to reduce its emissions even more significantly than previously thought. This level of reductions is considerably higher than what the scientific community thought was necessary to meet the 2°C goal. The bad news is that the way things are going currently we are far from even a 25 percent reduction in developed countries by 2020.
» First read: thinkprogress.org
And then hold that up against this article on Thinkprogress.org, which goes into depth with what is considered to be realistic CO2-reduction-targets in the next 20 years: 40×35: A Zero-Carbon Energy Target for the World’s Largest Economies.
» New York Times – 10 january 2013:
Heat, Flood or Icy Cold, Extreme Weather Rages Worldwide
Snow blanketed Jerusalem on Thursday, an example of weather extremes that are growing more frequent and intense. By Sarah Lyall
“Global warming has threatened our very existence”
Tony deBrum, minister-in-assistance to the president of Marshall Islands.
The 68,000 inhabitants of the low-lying coral atolls could become stateless as the islands are being lost to a rising Pacific Ocean.
» The New Zealand Herald – 16 March 2013:
Fast-changing climate ‘threat to Oz security’
Defence Force ill-equipped for increasingly likely scenario of multiple threats, report claims. By Greg Ansley
» Newsweek – 30 April 2010:
100 Places To Remember
What follows is a list — arbitrary, to be sure, and far from all-inclusive — of some of the places that could disappear, or be radically changed, if climatologists are right in their predictions of global warming.
Top Ten Dreadful Effects of Climate Change
Number 1: Flooding of Coastal Cities and Island Nations
Number 2: Loss of World’s Glacial Water Towers
Number 3: Marine Life Extinction
Number 4: The Demise of Capitalism
Number 5: The Splintering of Nation-States
Number 6: Unprecedented Damage to Infrastructure
Number 7: Embedded Droughts
Number 8: Desertification of the World’s Arable Land
Number 9: Glacial Lake Outbursts Floods Destroy Villages and Towns
Number 10: The End of Alpine Skiing
» Dissident Voice – 6 April 2013:
Top Ten Dreadful Effects of Climate Change
The underlying thesis of this article is that radical climate change is/will be fait accompli with consequences so far reaching that everything we are accustomed to today will change tomorrow. By Robert Hunziker
“If the climate were a bank, it would have been saved already.”
Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, 16 December 2009
Ticking bomb of raising temperatures:
Melting permafrost in the Arctic could push the Earth towards climate change that is “irreversible on human timescales”, according to a report released in November 2012.
Permafrost is frozen soil, and currently occupies about 24 percent of the exposed land surface of the Northern Hemisphere. Permafrost typically contains organic matter; if the permafrost thaws, then the organic matter is expected to decay releasing carbon dioxide and methane. Thus thawing permafrost is a mechanism for runaway climate change: warming thaws permafrost, releasing carbon dioxide and methane, which causes further warming, which thaws more permafrost, which releases…… and so the process continues.
We are “playing with fire” when we allow the temperatures on the planet to raise. The “permafrost bomb” is an example of the kind of unforeseen surprises global temperature raises could have waiting for us, because we allowed the planet’s weather-system to be disturbed.
The conclusion of a group of scientists who looked into Siberian caves for evidence of what has happened to the Arctic permafrost over the past 500,000 years is that global temperatures just slightly warmer than today’s can be enough to thaw large amounts of permafrost, which will then release large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere – actually so much of it that it dwarfs even the current human emissions of CO2.
As well as describing permafrost and the large potential for emissions as it thaws, the United Nations Environment Program’s report ‘Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost’ from 2012 tells us that permafrost thawing is being observed, but there is not much information available to tell us how fast it is currently thawing.
Take a few minutes to see these videos:
Scientists found evidence that permafrost is thawing along continental shelves, undersea in the Arctic and, more recently, in the Antarctic. The scientists are concerned that greenhouse gases released from thawing permafrost could amplify global warming.
More about this topic:
» Dissident Voice – 27 April 2013:
Methane Outbreak Alert!
A cadre of the world’s top climate scientists have seen enough evidence of prospective runaway climate change that they are now sounding the alarm, putting the world on notice that an extinction event may be in the cards. The principal actor in this macabre tragedy: Methane. Article by Robert Hunziker
» The Green Word – 6 March 2013:
Permafrost: The Tipping Time Bomb
» Sydney Morning Herald – 7 April 2013:
Polar melt shakes up food chain
Major changes to the food chain, weather and landscape of Antarctica have provided stark evidence of the impact of global warming, a report on a polar expedition has revealed. By Tim Barlass
Clippings from the news stream
» Scientific American – 19 June 2015:
How Fast Will Rising Temperatures Shrink CO2 Storage?
Soils, forests, oceans may lose their ability to soak up excess carbon dioxide
“Mitigation of Climate Change, by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a panel of 200 scientists, will make it clear that by far the most realistic option for the future is to triple or even quadruple the use of renewable power plants.”
» The Guardian – 13 April 2014:
UN urges huge increase in green energy to avert climate disaster
‘Triple or quadruple renewables’, say experts, as pressure grows for UK to deliver on eco priorities. By Robin McKie and Toby Helm
» The Guardian – 11 April 2014:
UN: greenhouse gas emissions nearly doubled in first decade of 21st century
Leaked draft shows emissions grew nearly twice as fast from 2000-10 as in previous 30 years – despite economic slowdown. By Suzanne Goldenberg
» New Scientist – June 2013:
Up to half of all birds threatened by climate change
Report by Scientists from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Article by Michael Marshall
» The Guardian – 17 April 2013:
Clean energy progress too slow to limit global warming, warns IEA
With governments failing to promote green energy, top scientists say the drive to keep temperature rise below 2C has stalled
» E360 – 15 April 2013:
Will Global Coal Boom Go Bust As Climate Concerns Increase?
Today, the global economy annually consumes at least 80 times more coal than was burned in 1850 at the height of the Industrial Revolution. The International Energy Agency said that global coal use — now close to 8 billion tons a year — could increase by 65 percent by 2035 if current energy trends continue. A recent independent analysis reported that 1,200 new coal-fired power plants are being proposed worldwide, three-quarters of them in India and China. By Fen Montaigne
» The Energy Collective – 8 April 2013:
Study confirms climate change will keep driving more intense precipitation
A new study from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center confirms what climate scientists have long been saying about climate change’s effect on the hydrological cycle.
» ABC News – 3 April 2013:
Top scientists agree climate has changed for good
The nation’s top climate scientists and science bodies have for the first time endorsed a major report that says Australia’s climate has shifted permanently in some cases. By Sarah Clarke
» The Guardian – 28 March 2013:
UK’s CO2 emissions up 4.5% in 2012
Emissions rose in the business sector, despite the UK’s flatlining economy. But pollution from transport – a quarter of all emissions – fell by 1.2%. By Damian Carrington and Severin Carrell
» BBC News – 25 March 2013:
Prof Sir John Beddington warns of floods, droughts and storms
The UK government’s chief scientist has said that there is already enough CO2 in the atmosphere for there to be more floods and droughts over the next 25 years.
» The Independent – 25 March 2013:
Climate change will bring greater extremes in weather, warns Government’s chief scientific adviser
Climate change will bring greater extremes in weather, the Government’s outgoing chief scientific adviser has warned as he called for urgent action to tackle global warming. By Martha Linden
» Sydney Morning Herald – 8 December 2012:
Six degrees of devastation
“It’s 2100. A sci-fi movie version of the future is finally here — flying cars, robots, choking pollution. Oh, and the planet is 5 degrees hotter than it was at the turn of the millennium. It’s nearly 90 years since scientists warned (again) that the planet could warm by between 4 and 6 degrees if we didn’t cut greenhouse gas emissions. We didn’t, and it did.”
“We’ve already passed all kinds of tipping points. The NASA scientist Jim Hansen was saying, ‘There’s no other word for where we are now than planetary emergency’.”
Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, in NPR on 30 December 2012: 2013: A Tipping Year For Climate Change?
» BBC News – 2 December 2012:
Carbon emissions are ‘too high’ to curb climate change
It is increasingly unlikely that global warming will be kept below an increase of 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels, a study suggests. The findings were published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the data in the journal Earth System Science Data Discussions.
» New Scientist – 15 November 2012:
Estimates for future global warming narrowed down
» New Scientist – 21 November 2012:
We are leaving emissions cuts too late
» New Scientist’s theme about climate change:
» The Guardian – 5 November 2012:
Business warned to prepare for catastrophic impacts
New climate change report from PwC says radical action needed to decarbonise the global economy and warns investors to consider negative outcomes on certain investments. By Jo Confino
» The Guardian – 26 September 2012:
Climate change is already damaging global economy, report finds
Economic impact of global warming is costing the world more than US$ 1.2 trillion a year, wiping 1.6 percent annually from global GDP. By Fiona Harvey
» AFP – 19 September 2012:
‘Planetary emergency’ due to Arctic melt, experts warn
New York. Experts warned of a ‘planetary emergency’ due to the unforeseen global consequences of Arctic ice melt, including methane gas released from permafrost regions currently under ice. By Mariano Andrade
» Vancouver Observer – 19 September 2012:
Arctic ‘death spiral’ leaves climate scientists shocked and worried
One of the world’s foremost ice experts, Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University, calls it a “global disaster” that will cause such a big boost in global temperatures that even such extreme measures as geo-engineering need to be considered urgently. By Barry Saxifrage
» The Guardian – 29 August 2012:
The day the world went mad
As record sea ice melt scarcely makes the news while the third runway grabs headlines, is there a form of reactive denial at work? By George Monbiot
» Rolling Stone – 19 July 2012:
Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math
Three simple numbers that add up to global catastrophe – and that make clear who the real enemy is. By Bill McKibben
» The Guardian – 3 February 2011:
Mass tree deaths prompt fears of Amazon ‘climate tipping point’
Scientists fear billions of tree deaths caused by 2010 drought could see vast forest turn from carbon sink to carbon source. Amazon ‘could shrink by 85 percent due to climate change’. By Damian Carrington
» The Guardian – 18 March 2009:
World faces ‘perfect storm’ of problems by 2030, chief scientist to warn
Food, water and energy shortages will unleash public unrest and international conflict, Professor John Beddington will tell a conference tomorrow. By Ian Sample, science correspondent
TED: Prepare for disaster…
Vicki Arroyo: “It’s time to prepare our homes and cities for our changing climate, with its increased risk of flooding, drought and uncertainty. She illustrates this inspiring talk with bold projects from cities all over the world — local examples of thinking ahead.”
More information about the bad news: Frequently Asked Questions
“We are writing the most scientifically detailed suicide note in history. And there will be no-one left to read it.”
Excerpt of a note on Facebook by Jeff Poole from Brisbane in Australia who has been working in the conservation movement for almost 20 years.