In August 2018, a global heat shock wave saw media turn a notch on the climate change apocalypse beat
[Climatic clippings post no 6 in 2018]
Some of you will think you are too busy to pay attention to this. Others don’t want to pay attention because it is too hard, involves too much. Or you might think it is a complete waste of time, because humanity’s gloomy destiny has already been sealed – like in one of those movies, where some evil Godfather-like character has already decided that it will be best for humanity if we are cut down to half or a quarter of the numbers of that we are today.
Either way, the fact is that we are in a climate emergency. And you don’t have to take it just from climate action advocates like me, as you will see below on this week’s collection of ‘climatic clippings’, this is now finally also reported and confirmed by mainstream media.
What mainstream media still lack to report, however, is that there are solutions to this crisis. There are ways we can, and have to, move forward.
Our biggest mistake will be if we lean back and expect them to solutions from our governments, who have failed us so far. Even with the media on our side, we are still in for a huge job which we have to figure out how to get done from bottom up, and all around in society, not from governments down.
“This summer, it’s different”
“There is a shift,” USA Today observed by the end of July 2018. Something happened. After years of silence on the climate emergency in mainstream media, climate scientists’ dire predictions of that dark and dangerous place humanity is steering towards in the next decades have all of a sudden been getting media’s attention. From Reuters to CNN, BBC, ABC, SBS and all the rest.
“Climate change used to feel like an issue that other people were dealing with, or that future generations would face,” tweeted the New York Times. “But this summer, it’s different. There is a shift. We are witnessing global warming in real time. Everything we value is at risk: our children’s and grandchildren’s future, ecosystems, the oceans, the air we breathe,” added USA Today.
» USA Today – 31 July 2018:
Heat, fires, and floods: A tour of the globe’s painful July
» Los Angeles Times – 5 August 2018:
California’s destructive summer brings blunt talk about climate change
“California has been getting hotter for some time, but July was in a league of its own.”
Scores of locations on every continent north of the equator have witnessed their hottest weather in recorded history. https://t.co/roHT4v9nu5
— Stefan Rahmstorf (@rahmstorf) August 19, 2018
What happened was a shift in the weather right outside the windows of the media houses. Around the world, the last months’ weather forecasts have not only been about wind and weather next week. They were perceived as dire messages about threats to the prosperity and safety of humanity: The deadly heat waves. The fires. Droughts. Farmers with dying animals. Floods. Refugee streams. All there for us to watch on the tv news every evening.
When historians some time in the future skim through the headlines of articles that were published around the world in August 2018, they might find that this month marked a new phase for humanity, where the dire reality of our addiction to burning old fossils we dig up from the ground – in the shape of coal, oil and gas – hit us like a burst of flames straight in the face.
However, an important element has so far been missing in media’s reporting. It’s good to see media waking up and reporting on the issue, but as long as these reporters and journalists don’t have the insight, capacity or editorial recourses to deliver clarity about solutions, as long as they are not along with their reporting on the crisis also publishing stories about what it will take for humanity to actually fix the problem, then this so-called breakthrough or “shift” in the mainstream reporting is nothing to celebrate, really. Because once again, it just makes people look the other way and ignore the news.
People generally don’t appreciate or can’t see the point of taking that feeling of darkness and guilt into their lives, because, as many say: “What can I do? What difference will it make even if I as an individual figure out how to live a low-carbon life style? It won’t have any effect on global changes in the climate.”
The elephants in the air
Currently we are emitting 1,268 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere every second. That adds up to 40 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide per year – a figure so enormous we can’t seem to get our head around it. 1,268 tonnes a second…
With 40 billion tons of smoke going into the atmosphere every year, my then eight-year-old son Alex figured out in 2015 that that would be equivalent to the weight of eight billion elephants flying around. The following year there would then be eight billion more elephants joining them…
“If you line up eight billion elephants in one long line, it will go half the way to Mars. Hey! That means that in the next two years there will be enough elephants lining up to reach Mars!! Go figure!,” Alex wrote.
Kids can do the math.
Each of us are able to have an impact on maybe two or three of those “flying elephants” a year, at the highest. Which seem ridiculously insignificant compared to the eight billion that needs to be addressed.
In Australia’s case, as a nation, we have an impact on the country’s own share of global emissions, which is around 1.8 per cent. So even if our entire country managed to get off the fossil fuels entirely, it would still not have much effect globally, and to member of the federal government Barnaby Joyce, this is his argument for why we shouldn’t even bother addressing this issue.
He stated this in an interview with ABC, which was aired in the Matter of Fact program on 9 August 2018 – a program which by the way delivered a range of hard truths on the matter, and which is well worth watching, if you didn’t already:
» ABC Matter of Fact – 9 August 2018:
Matter of Fact: Australia’s preparedness for ongoing extreme weather events
“Jeremy Fernandez discusses Australia’s preparedness for ongoing extreme weather events with a panel of experts: Joelle Gergis, Climate Scientist, University of Melbourne, Dr George Crisp, Doctors for the Environment, Claire Taylor, NSW Nationals”
According to a 2016-report from NextGen Climate and Demos called ‘The Price Tag of Being Young: Climate Change and Millennials’ Economic Future’, the millennial generation as a whole will lose nearly $8.8 trillion in their lifetime income because of climate change. Their children will lose tens of trillions.
The climate criminals in our parliaments who made this happen, and who so far gone unpunished, are leaving it up to us, the general population, to figure out how best to manage the climate emergency havoc of extreme weather, wildfires, droughts and conflicts over water, as well as flooding and rising sea levels.
Rollings Stones magazine’s Jeff Goodell puts it this way:
“Fighting climate change is not just a matter of reducing carbon pollution in the future, important as that obviously is. It’s about taking active stewardship of the planet now, and thinking more holistically about how to manage it now. Among other things, that means giving up the notion that there is a “solution” for climate change and accepting the idea we are living in a rapidly changing world now. How will we engineer drinking water systems to deal with this? How will we manage forests? How are coastal cities going to adapt to — or intelligently retreat from — rapidly rising seas?”
» Rolling Stone – 10 August 2018:
Hothouse Earth Is Merely the Beginning of the End
“Not the end of the planet, but maybe the end of its human inhabitants.”
“Don’t you consider it possible that we’ve had our time?”
~ James Lovelock, replying to the question: ‘What about humans?’
. . .
The carbonic gas experiment
162 years ago, in 1856, an American scientist filled some glas containers different atmospheric gasses in each, placed them in the sun and observed how the gasses warmed up. She noted that “The highest effect of the sun’s rays I have found to be in carbonic gas”, and concluded from this experiment that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere must affect the Earth’s temperature.
That’s how simple the science around the greenhouse gas effect is. And we have known about it for 162 years.
56 years later, in 1912, a New Zealand newspaper warned that our ongoing air pollution from burning coal would be turning our climate into a ticking time bomb. Again, that is more than one hundred years ago.
No leader can claim they didn’t see it coming.
Gee that's a big surprise, the climate is warming and there's consequences. Who saw that coming? https://t.co/PS0tXJnIzm
— Paul Gilding (@paulgilding) July 28, 2018
The fossil fuel industry and the governments it controls know this very well. They are fully aware that this is stearing the planets eco-systems towards climate apocalypse. However – and this is where the chain dropped off for them – since that apocalypse still is some years away, and might not even happen in their own lifetime, instead of addressing the problem responsibly and shifting to different energy sources, they have now spent three decades doing everything they can to hide this fact by deliberately spreading confusion about the science and pretending it is not happening, (“Australia has always been the land of fire and flooding…”, “the climate has always been changing…”, “even if we stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow, it would have an insignificant effect on the climate”, “renewable energy is expensive and unreliable”…) – because these people have no intentions of stopping their crime of species-threatening madness as long as they are able to shovel in profits from their business of selling us their coal, oil and gas.
Plot idea: 97% of the world's scientists contrive an environmental crisis, but are exposed by a plucky band of billionaires & oil companies.
— Scott Westerfeld (@ScottWesterfeld) March 21, 2014
In the coming two years, 2019 and 2020, yet another $300 billion are predicted to be spent on looking for new fossil fuel reserves, at a time when the only thing we should be spending money on is getting off the fossil fuels:
“From liquefied natural gas in Mozambique to deep-oil in Guyana, the world’s biggest energy companies are gearing up to sanction the first slate of mega-projects since the price crash in 2014, Wood Mackenzie Ltd. analysts including Angus Rodger said in a report. Firms will approve about $300 billion in spending on such ventures in 2019 and 2020, more than in the three years from 2015 to 2017 combined.”
» Rigzone | Bloomberg – 14 August 2018:
After Billions in Blowouts, Mega Oil and Gas Projects Are Back
Reality has dawned on humanity that the battle for a safe climate has been lost to a small bunch of cynical, shortsighted, selfish bastards who each have shovelled in millions of dollars because their polluting products – fossil fuels which pollute our atmosphere and wreck our climate – were granted a free pass, and even subsidised, supported, with tax payers’ money at the tune of $100 billion a year.
“The world’s seven major industrial democracies spent at least $100 billion a year to prop up oil, gas and coal consumption at home and abroad in 2015 and 2016.”
» Climate Home News – 4 June 2018:
G7 fossil fuel subsidies worth $100bn a year to industry, study finds
» CNN Money – 17 August 2018:
Most economic forecasts have a big blind spot: Climate change
“Many closely-followed economic models don’t take into account the mounting costs of extreme weather cause by climate change, which might be accelerating faster than forecasters think.”
. . .
To ensure civilizational stability, the age of fossil fuels must end. Period. Now. Anything less than a rapid phase-out of the global fossil fuel industry is unacceptable.
Sounds dramatic, but it's really just math. You can't negotiate with forest fires and melting ice sheets. https://t.co/o7BmHb5GnE
— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) August 12, 2018
“To ensure civilizational stability, the age of fossil fuels must end. Period. Now. Anything less than a rapid phase-out of the global fossil fuel industry is unacceptable. Sounds dramatic, but it’s really just math. You can’t negotiate with forest fires and melting ice sheets.”
~ Eric Holthaus
When #climate risks are understated, it’s time to understand “What lies beneath” the scientific reports and policymaking. Download the inside story of #whatliesbeneath https://t.co/aJIL6093Pj @breakthroughccr pic.twitter.com/F72oZVjPC4
— David Spratt (@djspratt) August 19, 2018
So the Turnbull government has just dropped its legislation for a #climate emissions target! This is criminal when Prof. Will Steffen says climate action must be the primary target of policy and economics. https://t.co/HwRmD2wpsE https://t.co/0qGORXfLGv
— David Spratt (@djspratt) August 20, 2018
— Paul Gilding (@paulgilding) July 27, 2018
Our future depends on safeguarding Earth resilience. Our new paper in PNAS shows evidence that we are at risk of crossing a Planetary Tipping Point already at 2 C taking us toward Hothouse Earth. Avoid it? Transform to Planetary Stewardship #HothouseEarth https://t.co/G0Ze56oOJq
— Johan Rockström (@jrockstrom) August 6, 2018
“This is definitely not a case of crying wolf, raising a false alarm: the wolves are now in sight.”
~ Phil Williamson, climate researcher at the University of East Anglia
» Reuters – 7 August 2018:
World at risk of heading toward irreversible ‘hothouse’ state
“Tipping points will lead to abrupt change. (…) Maximizing the chances of avoiding such a “hothouse” state requires more than just reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the report said. For example, improved forest, agricultural and soil management; biodiversity conservation and technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it underground are needed.”
» The Guardian – 7 August 2018:
Domino-effect of climate events could move Earth into a ‘hothouse’ state
“Leading scientists warn that passing such a point would make efforts to reduce emissions increasingly futile.”
» World Economic Forum – 9 August 2018:
The world is at risk of reaching an irreversible ‘hothouse’ state
» Here is the ‘Hothouse Earth’ report that got the world talking:
Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene
» The Guardian – 17 August 2018:
World is finally waking up to climate change, says ‘Hothouse Earth’ author
“Report predicting spiralling global temperatures has been downloaded 270,000 times in just a few days.”
“50 million years ago, it was almost unbelievably hot, so hot that there were crocodiles, palm trees, and sand tiger sharks in the Arctic Circle. There were perhaps even sprawling, febrile dead zones spanning the tropics, too hot even for animal or plant life of any sort. This is what you get in an ancient atmosphere with around 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide. If this number sounds familiar, 1,000 ppm of CO2 is around what humanity is on pace to reach by the end of this century. That should be mildly concerning.
“You put more CO2 in the atmosphere and you get more warming, that’s just super-simple physics that we figured out in the 19th century,” says David Naafs, an organic geochemist at the University of Bristol. “But exactly how much it will warm by the end of the century, we don’t know. Based on our research of these ancient climates, though, it’s probably more than we thought.”
» The Atlantic – 6 August 2018:
Scientists Have Uncovered a Disturbing Climate Change Precedent
“During the rise of mammals, Earth’s temperatures spiked in a scary way that the planet may experience again soon.”
» The Christian Science Monitor – 16 August 2018:
Amid fires and hurricanes, price of climate change begins to hit home
“Climate change, which many skeptics argue is more bark than bite, is starting to demonstrate an impact on economies – and perceptions. Slowly, despite the ongoing political debates over climate change’s causes and effects, the economic impacts are beginning to hit home in certain communities.”
» The Times – 9 August 2018:
Is it time to stop discussing the heatwave and start talking about climate change?
“It is the hot topic for what could be the hottest season on record. Should we be basking in it or be worried for the future, Damian Whitworth asks the scientists.”
. . .
“Learn to live with it”
As has been predicted many times during the last decade, humanity’s mindset is now very quickly moving from prevention to damage control – from mitigation to adaption.
» The Tyee – 15 August 2018:
If we can’t stop hothouse Earth, we’d better learn to live on it
“New research is a warning that we face a desperate global struggle.”
» The Economist – 2 August 2018:
The world is losing the war against climate change
“Rising energy demand means use of fossil fuels is heading in the wrong direction.”
» Global Catholic Climate Movement – 17 July 2018:
“On the brink of an unprecedented global catastrophe” from climate change, the effects of which “place a question mark on the very future of human existence”
The study found that the world’s seven major industrial democracies spent at least $100 billion a year to prop up oil, gas and coal consumption at home and abroad in 2015 and 2016 despite their pledge to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.#ClimateChange https://t.co/hRbvr6YKde
— Paul Dawson (@PaulEDawson) August 11, 2018
Gloomy status on the state of the planet
524 researchers from 65 countries recently released the report ‘State of the Climate 2017’, which is the 28th edition of the annual report, published by the American Meteorological Society. According to the report, greenhouse gas emissions have never been higher. The global average CO2 content in the atmosphere has now reached the highest level in 800,000 years.
Pakistan hit the world’s warmest temperature record in May 2017: 53.5°C degrees. Overall, the average temperature for 2017 was 1.6°C degree higher than in the period 1981 to 2010.
Even if humanity “stopped the greenhouse gasses at their current concentrations today, the atmosphere would still continue to warm for next couple decades to maybe a century,” said Greg Johnson, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington, during a press call about the report.
» See or download the report (PDF)
» Science Magazine – 2 august 2018:
Atmospheric carbon last year reached levels not seen in 800,000 years
. . .
Noam Chomsky: “Global warming’s worst case projections seem increasingly likely”
One of the most cited scholars in history, Noam Chomsky, spoke at St Olaff College in May 2018, discussing the epochs, Anthropocene, the 6th Extinction and climate change actions.
. . .
» Live Science – 2 August 2018:
Earth’s Soil Is Hyperventilating Thanks To Climate Change
“There’s twice as much CO2 trapped in Earth’s soil as in the atmosphere, and it’s escaping.”
. . .
Michael E. Mann: “Science is starting to get scary”
What do we do when the science gets scary: Climate Change and the End of Civilization?
Interview with climate scientist Michael E. Mann
» Democracy Now – 9 August 2018:
Experts: If We Don’t Stop Climate Change, CA Fires “Will Seem Mild In Comparison to What’s Coming”
» The New Daily – 7 August 2018:
Runaway global warming just decades away
» CNN – 5 August 2018:
Our climate plans are in pieces as killer summer shreds records
“Climate change is here and is affecting the entire globe — not just the polar bears or tiny islands vulnerable to rising sea levels — scientists say. It is on the doorsteps of everyday Americans, Europeans and Asians, and the best evidence shows it will get much worse.”
. . .
Political cowardice in Australia – “the like of which we have never seen”
“Our efforts to deal with climate change have been betrayed by a lack of leadership, a political cowardice, the like of which I have never seen”
~ Malcolm Turnbull, 2010
“Mr Abbott said the Coalition’s best and perhaps only chance of winning the election “is to say we’re scrapping the Paris deal” altogether, which commits Australia to reducing emissions by 26 per cent by 2030. “Let Labor be the people who rabbit on about emissions and renewable power and saving the planet,” he said.”
» The Sydney Morning Herald – 18 August 2018:
‘No way to run a government’: Abbott slams Turnbull’s revised energy plan
» The New Daily – 13 August 2018:
Government offer of new coal cash to ‘tame the beast’ in party room
“The government will spend billions of public money on new coal-fired power stations” – “the focus is on getting cheap power into the system”
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott keeps talking about power prices. He was the one who killed investment in renewables – and as a result, power prices spiked to twice as high as they had been during the carbon price period. Today new renewables capacity is finally coming online – and we are seeing prices coming down. Renewables today are cheaper than coal, but Abbott and his coal-mates don’t want Australians to know about that. The actual truth is that the more renewable energy generation that is built, the lower electricity prices will get.
Energy Council: New coal-fired power stations are "uninvestable."
ESB: "No way anybody would be financing a new coal-fired generation plant."
ACCC: Recomendation 4 is "not targeted at coal."@TurnbullMalcolm: #auspol pic.twitter.com/sh83SNKhYy
— Mark Butler MP (@Mark_Butler_MP) August 13, 2018
“The biggest barrier to lower power prices for Australian households is the chaos and division, for five years, in the Coalition party room on energy policy.”
~ Mark Butler, Labor’s climate and energy spokesman
— Peter Broelman (@Broelman) August 6, 2018
“How can you be so silly to pay for electricity when you can get it for free?”
~ Alex Sprunt, water and wastewater construction engineer
. . .
» DW – 9 August 2018:
Great southern drought: Australian farmers crippled, climate action stalled
“Amidst the worst drought in living memory, the world’s driest continent is also heating up due to climate change. Critics say too little is being done to prevent increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall.”
And what is not included usually in the price comparisons are the negative externalities, which are huge with coal.
Life-cycle study: Accounting for total harm from coal would add “close to 17.8¢/kWh of electricity generated”https://t.co/pcHu46dRrG
— Juha Saarinen (@saarijuh) August 12, 2018
» ThinkProgress – 16 February 2011:
Life-cycle study: Accounting for total harm from coal would add “close to 17.8¢/kWh of electricity generated”
….that’s 25 Australian cents that should be added per kilowatthour of coal-generated electricity. Meanwhile, offshore windfarms in the USA are now producing electricity at 9 Australian cents per kilowatthour.
— simon holmes à court (@simonahac) August 11, 2018
“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…”
The NEG benefits Turnbull and the big three energy company at the expense of Australians. Time to #DitchTheNEG and have energy policy that lowers prices for communities and acts on climate. https://t.co/Ps62lGExSh via @smh
— Act on Climate Vic (@ActOnClimateVic) August 13, 2018
» The New Daily – 16 August 2018:
More hot weather: BoM predicts a hotter, drier spring
“I call on the United Nations Climate Change Conference … to put aside our differences and to think and act as one species facing an extinction event of our own making. For the first time in the history of our species, we have one common threat against which we must all act as one.”
~ Jade Hameister, a 17-year-old Australian
. . .
Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, the government there is reminded that climate change is a greater threat to the UK than EU directives, terrorism or a foreign power invading:
» The Guardian – 6 July 2018:
This heatwave is just the start. Britain has to adapt to climate change, fast
“Water, housing, farming … almost every aspect of public life needs to change. Why isn’t this top of the political agenda?”
. . .
Hothouse comments in social media
“Humanity is on a suicidal course with climate change”
“The number and magnitude of weather anomalies and disasters related to climate change that are occurring daily all over the world should have elicited a commensurate response from the governments of the world to stop this sure path to the extinction of most species on Earth and to the destruction of civilization.
Nevertheless, there are no massive responses to deal with the catastrophic trend and the few governments that openly talk about climate change they call it “The New Normal” and predict the end of the world without engaging in the all-out effort for climate restoration and climate change adaptation, without which there is no hope of recovering the climate that allowed humanity survive and thrive, and of protecting the biosphere from being destroyed.
The status quo of the established socio-economies with wealth distribution greatly favoring the very rich is still more important than making all the necessary transformations needed to have a livable world for all. Greed still runs the human world even when annihilation is the likely future for humans (including the rich themselves).
California is a test ground of the future of humanity, where Governor Jerry Brown makes doomsday statements of warming and vector diseases elicited by climate change killing billions of humans and of fire “storms” being the New Normal that we are not ready for, while not offering any leadership to immediately mobilize, with all the might of California, to make California a climate change-ready state and inspire the rest of the world to follow suit.
Climate change in California can no longer be a project to gain political illustriousness, it is a clear and present danger with the ability to destroy the fifth economy of the world as it is destroying island nations and other smaller and poorer nations. Climate change is currently the most democratic phenomenon on Earth where nobody is spared.
The leadership the world needs from leaders like Governor Jerry Brown is not about talking about the dangers of climate change, making commitments for the future and organizing a Climate Summit for September, it is about transforming society and economy in real time to meet the demands of a world with a new and changing climate.”
~ Jorge Rebagliati, Santa Rosa, California
“… the bottom line is, we have no choice but to press on through this fear. This is our actual planet we’re talking about, the only place in the entire universe capable of supporting life as we know it.
The next decade will almost surely decide our fate. That should empower us. It means every act has meaning; we have the chance to save the world as we know it every single day. In this scenario we now find ourselves in, radical, disruptive climate action is the only course of action that makes sense.”
» Grist – 8 August 2018:
Terrified by ‘hothouse Earth’? Don’t despair — do something
Shihan-Malcolm Ayles commented on Facebook about this quote above from a Grist article:
“Do people notice how even a well thought out article can’t deliver a cohesive conclusion…
“The next decade will almost surely decide our fate.” So I guess they are acknowledging that if runaway climate change is not locked in the next decade will lock it in.
“That should empower us.” So if we only have 10 years to act then that should inspire the world to act… really… isn’t that what was concluded in the 70’s then 80’s then 90’s and we didn’t then.
“It means every act has meaning; we have the chance to save the world as we know it every single day. In this scenario we now find ourselves in, radical, disruptive climate action is the only course of action that makes sense.” Either every act makes a difference or the only thing that will make a difference is radical disruption of the status quo, you can’t have it both ways. Now if we only have 10 years then you would have to conclude that incremental change will never get us close, not with 4 year political cycles, that’s not even enough time to start to make the changes. So that leaves radical disruption.
So really they conclude “Unless we immediately begin a radical disruption of the current status quo we will have locked in runaway climate change within a decade”, Then what do they do offer no glimpse of what that might look like or how people can begin to participate in this radical disruption… after all if you don’t want people to despair then surely you’d give them a glimpse of were the hope lies…
Sorry but if this is the best argument against despair then we are really screwed… even now people are not willing to state with any clarity at all what must happen. To have hope what we must do is extreme but it’s the old argument again that if you tell people that then it’s too hard and they will do nothing… so yep, we still go nowhere.”
~ Shihan-Malcolm Ayles
I scribbled a long response to Shihan-Malcolm Ayles’s comment:
Yep, that’s the problem: it’s a wicked problem. Ayles is right. And though this is its narrative, #RiseForClimate in itself won’t solve any of it, just like hundreds of other rallies and campaigns haven’t even made any visible impact on the curve for rising carbon emissions til date: It has STILL not reached its peak.
Emissions are still rising, even now. How crazy is that?
RiseForClimate will, once again, spread a message that “radical change is needed” and it will hopefully comfort those who participate with a feeling of being closer connected because of it. But it does not deliver the solutions that are needed on the ground. It barely scratches the surface of them.
Two problematic groups of people are causing the mess:
One group, which is small in numbers but incredibly powerful in terms of influence and wealth, runs an industry which profits from polluting, and they have so far been very successful with protecting their vested interests.
Only governments and courts can touch this group. And as it currently more or less runs the government in many countries, that is not happening.
The other group is large. It is all those voters who at an election keep voting for politicians who promise to ignore the problem.
When people are given the choice between giving up their car-driving, flying and eating red meat or the possibility of our planet burning in a hundred years, they chose the latter, because they aren’t going to sacrifice anything as long as their family, colleagues and neighbours don’t do it either.
While we have no influence on the first group, we could potentially influence the second group, as it is increasingly happening. Media plays a big role here.
Media that doesn’t know what the solutions are, what the new story is, is useless media. That’s where we can maybe help and make a difference, no matter how small?
Just like the famous frogs in the warming pot, by the time we realise we really ARE being cooked, (as some in Europe and the US did recently), it will be too late to avoid the calamity, though we can of course still work on limiting the damage and improving our resilience, as much as we can. More and more of our time and resources will be spent on protecting ourselves from the havoc, and not on mitigating the carbon emissions, though. So who knows!
What we can be quite sure of by now is that it doesn’t look good.
We’ve lived through that realisation during a whole decade – in my case since the failure of the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in 2009. Next year that failure has its ten year anniversary. As I mentioned, global carbon emissions are still on the rise, even ten years later.
There won’t be a solution to climate change and the havoc it brings in our life time, I reckon. And maybe never. But there will be many many small solutions that contribute to the bigger picture, and as well connected as humanity is today with the Internet, I believe we can work our way up to a ‘human tipping point’ of optimism where we get a grip on the issue and which methods work best. That’s what we have to be on the lookout for.
On that note, it is worth keeping an eye on…
• What’s happening in Darebin and now also in more and more American cities (www.climatesafety.info/richmondcalifornia/) – we have to keep pushing in our own councils for more replications of this model
• Do you know Lis Bastian and her ‘The Big Fix’ project?. It’s a media-and-community project which in my opinion could hold a huge potential for creating change if it was replicated – and
• Did you seen this one?: ABC Matter of Fact – 9 August 2018: Jeremy Fernandez discusses Australia’s preparedness for ongoing extreme weather events with a panel of experts, www.iview.abc.net.au
This is a tv program that gives new hope that ABC is finally beginning to wake up to its role as a public broadcaster. Listen to that introduction with the farmer, John Hampursum, and also some really clear and solid statements from a climate scientist and the chair of Doctors for the Environment. Australia’s main public broadcaster seem to be beginning to understand their responsibility when they produce a program like this, and air it in prime time on a Thursday evening.
As with the climatic tipping points, we are not dealing with linear curves and graphs for how and when the ‘human tipping point’ will occur. The curve grows exponentially – which means very very slowly for a very long time, and then suddenly: very quick changes.
I might be wrong, but right now I sense some big changes are in the making. As with the ABC, I sense a shift in the way mainstream media reports about the issue lately, I see the court cases which are scheduled here and there, (if not won, then they will still be helping with changing the narrative, changing the story), and I talk with young people who are busy DOING things quietly in the background, in their universities, etc.
My thinking at the moment is that we need to start creating local ‘climate emergency houses’ similar to or merged with the already existing ‘neighbourhood houses’ and ‘community houses’. Places that could be like a combination of a social pub, an information hub, a meeting room, an editorial room, an artistic exhibition space, etc.
I’m currently trying to set one up in Geelong – an idea which, if successful, could be replicated in other communities as well.
The good thing about the climate mess is that it actually brings us together. We have to come together and create new alliances and collaboration across old barriers, nothing else makes any sense now.
According to the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, cutting carbon emissions would cut premature deaths from air pollution by 500,000 a year in 2030, 1.3 million in 2050 and 2.2 million in 2100.#ActOnClimate #climatechange #KeepItInTheGround https://t.co/euvuAkiwvb
— Paul Dawson (@PaulEDawson) August 11, 2018
Cutting carbon emissions saves lives
According to the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change, cutting carbon emissions would cut premature deaths from air pollution by 500,000 a year in 2030, 1.3 million in 2050 and 2.2 million in 2100.
» Undark Magazine and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting:
The unseen global toll of air pollution
“Nationwide, more than a million Indians died from bad air in 2015, according to a recent Lancet study.”
» World Economic Forum – 9 August 2018:
The fourth biggest global killer
“Air pollution should make us redesign cities and breathe freely. What would happen if we removed cars from cities? (…) Air pollution is now the fourth biggest killer in the world after smoking, high blood pressure and diet.”
. . .
No sane person thought Hitler could be stopped in 1940 after conquering most of Europe. But world dropped business as usual came together and rest is history. No tech or physical barriers now to decarbonizing in a generation. Only what is in our hearts and minds @MobilizeClimate
— Herb Simmens (@Herbsimmens) July 12, 2018
Transform to Planetary Stewardship
“Our future depends on safeguarding Earth resilience. Our new paper in PNAS shows evidence that we are at risk of crossing a Planetary Tipping Point already at 2°C taking us toward Hothouse Earth. Avoid it? Transform to Planetary Stewardship.”
~ Johan Rockström, ‘Hothouse Earth’ report co-author
It is important we realise that we must stop sitting around waiting for politicians to come riding on the white horse to save us with the kind of regulation which could protect our societies, such as banning all new fossil fuel projects and putting a fee on air pollution. In a business-as-usual context would be the normal way to limit consumption of something that is damaging society as whole. But this is not business as usual. The climate threat is unprecedented in the sense that it is a threat that most people are concerned about, but most people at the same time also are convinced that everyone else is ignoring it.
The ones who can turn around this situation, which is currently heading straight for the runaway ‘hothouse’, is an alliance between media, the consumers and businesses. As long as we continue to buy polluting products and in that way create a demand and the basis for a profitable business, the problem will persist.
Shouting at the politicians in power, or trying to lobby them, will have no effect. They will listen, but until there is a shift in voting patterns, they won’t do what is necessary. They know that taking proper action on climate change could cost them their job, as it did for the federal Labor government in Australia in 2013.
This means the decision is in our hands – and as Al Gore said more than a decade ago, it may appear as an inconvenient and expensive decision. But there is no other way: we each have get on board with this and start wrestling with our own three flying elephants in the room.
As long as I am polluting the air, and as long as the products I buy have polluted the air when they were produced, then I am guilty of being part of the problem.
In other words, if we are to have any hope to stop the madness of stearing straight towards a global meltdown, the necessary transition away from fossil fuels starts in our own backyards and garages – and with your own private economy. The outcome is up to you and I along with our families, colleagues and friends.
So far, people generally have not been convinced that this effort would be worth it. Would it make any difference? With all due respect for what municipalities, businesses and individuals can do, it remains with our state and national politicians to define the framework and implement the regulations that are necessary to create common rules of play, including ensuring international cooperation, which is a prerequisite for achieving goals.
Australian Climate Councillor and senior advisor to Labor government, professor Will Steffen told The Intercept that the “obvious thing we have to do is to get greenhouse gas emissions down as fast as we can. That means that has to be the primary target of policy and economics. You have got to get away from the so-called neoliberal economics.” Instead, he suggests something “more like wartime footing” to roll out renewable energy and dramatically reimagine sectors like transportation and agriculture “at very fast rates.”
» The Intercept – 14 August 2018:
“Hothouse Earth” Co-Author: The Problem Is Neoliberal Economics
“By shifting to a ‘wartime footing’ to drive a rapid shift toward renewable energy and electrification, humanity can still avoid the apocalyptic future laid out in the much-discussed “hothouse earth” paper, a lead author of the paper told The Intercept. One of the biggest barriers to averting catastrophe, he said, has more to do with economics than science.”
Ever since I held my new-born son in my arms, I’ve become utterly intolerant of predatory delay bullshit—from the Left or the Right.
Fuck all y’all, we have a planet to save, for all the babies.
Get correct, get out of the way or get knocked over.
— Alex Steffen (@AlexSteffen) August 7, 2018
“Ever since I held my new-born son in my arms, I’ve become utterly intolerant of predatory delay bullshit — from the Left or the Right. Fuck all y’all, we have a planet to save, for all the babies. Get correct, get out of the way or get knocked over. I don’t care what your reason is for delaying bold climate action and disruptive sustainability — whatever it is, it’s wrong.”
~ Alex Steffen, on Twitter
“Yes, the prospect of runaway climate change is terrifying. But this dead world is not our destiny. It’s entirely avoidable. As the authors of the paper have argued in response to the coverage, implying otherwise is the same as giving up just as the fight gets tough. Take a look at the leading sentences from some of the most widely-shared reports…”
» Grist – 8 August 2018:
Terrified by ‘hothouse Earth’? Don’t despair — do something
“With all the extreme weather events and bad news with regards to climate change it’s hard to not lose sight of some of the incredible things happening. Climate change is a reality that we are going to have to deal with and it will take time to start reversing the extreme weather events. But we have the capacity to reverse it. The time is now!”
~ Sara van der Meer, in a post sharing the Pachamama Alliance video
The collective rejection of taking the bull by the horns represents the biggest and most serious threat to humanity’s future. The logic goes: We are either in this all together, or not at all. “All together” clearly doesn’t seem to be happening, so we lean back and go for the “not at all”.
But that’s just not good enough any longer. The solutions will have to come from us, the ordinary concerned citizens, who are addressing the challenge at an individual level. If you tend to agree, then your new job as a volunteer climate fighter starts today. Out there, we have our brave volunteer fire fighters on the line. What we need in our cities is a similar bunch of brave Carbon Fighters.
» Below2°C – 14 August 2018:
It’s Time To Rise For Climate Action – #RiseForClimate
» JPratt27 – 13 August 2018:
Drought: On climate inaction, it is time to say enough