Climate emergency: from unmentionable to mainstream

Climatic clippings no 8 in 2018 ]

October 2018 was the month when the word ‘climate emergency’ suddenly became mainstream, after the United Nations had published its report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which warns humanity that we have to cut our emissions in half during the next decade in order to have a decent chance of avoiding a catastrophe. Which among other things mean that Australia has to shut down its coal-fired power stations before 2030. And which suggested that humanity as a whole needs to work and invest three times harder than our current level.

In its essence, climate change is a political choice. What stands clear is that our politicians are not on our side. If they were, they would have made laws that banned and taxed the destructive pollution of our atmosphere decades ago. They actually considered doing this in a joint international effort 30 years ago. But then… no, our governments decided to ignore the threat or do as little as possible.

Still today, governments around the world are refusing to establish any sensible regulation that is in alignment with what the UN climate scientists tell us we need to do if we want to protect ourselves and life on this planet from destruction and avoid a miserable planetary catastrophe.

What the %#&$ is wrong with our leaders?

Corruption, bribery and offshore accounts?

Jane Morton was guest in 3RRR’s Greening the Apocalypse on 6 November 2018 where she talked about the psychology of climate emergency messaging and her booklet ‘Don’t mention the emergency?’. She suggested at a deeper level what it is that has gone wrong with our current elected leaders in Canberra.

» Listen to the episode of Greening the Apocalypse which was aired on 6 November 2018. The interview begins after 1 minute.

» Jane Morton’s booklet: ‘Don’t mention the emergency?’

Bryony Edwards, CACE: Councils are breaking the silence on the climate emergency, leading central governments and NGOs around the world.
Published on on 22 December 2018

As the UN Secretary General Guterres recently stated: “We face a direct existential threat”. Failure is really not an option when “failure” means we could “annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential”. This is now a war for civilisation’s survival.

“The crucial mistake we tend to make in complicated issues like climate, is to fail on very basic risk assessment and management. We don’t know society definitely faces collapse, so we assume (or hope) it won’t and act accordingly. This is madness. If your doctor told you, “on balance I think your child will be dead in five years – I can’t be sure but the best medical science suggests a 90% likelihood. However, if you take these simple steps – steps that will be quite inconvenient and disruptive but totally doable – the likelihood of their death will fall to 5%.” What would you do? Wait for certainty? Which could only come when your child was on their death bed? Madness.”
~ Paul Gilding

» Paul Gilding – 16 November 2018:
The Extinction Rebellion – A Tipping Point for the Climate Emergency?

As Pope Francis wrote in his Encyclical letter in 2015, “The greatest effects of all attacks on the environment are suffered by the poorest.” (Laudato Si’ 48)

Allegedly, the 10 per cent of the population who are the highest global emitters create half of global emissions. If this figure is correct then it means that if these the richest people in our society wanted to, they could be a powerful part of the solution.

Unfortunately, they currently spend more money on defending their lifestyle and protecting the polluting energy industries than on helping solving the issue with carbon emissions and the climate breakdown.

“Although white class-privileged people are culpable for climate change and the environmental disasters it results in, they are able to use their wealth to avoid the devastating consequences while poor people, who tend to be largely people of color, bear the brunt of the harm.”

» The Outline – 16 November 2018:
How the rich will survive climate change disaster

French protests

“Macron has not been able to reconcile the urgent demands of environmental activists with the needs of working class people who say that environmental protection policies infringe on their livelihood. In an age of growing popular angst over the negative environmental impact of globalization and calls for government action on climate change, this weekend’s protests in France show that governments can pay a price when they choose to act — and that the heaviest burden of environmentally friendly policies is often borne by society’s least prosperous.”

» Quartz – 20 November 2018:
France’s fuel protests show how poor people can bear the cost of fighting climate change

Media: Silencing the biggest story of the century

The majority of media people, sadly, are not on our side either.

Page 16 in the new book ‘Genesis Redux’

“We did not tend to our democracies carefully enough”

“The planet, like society, is a garden, which needs tending, watering, care. The linkages between these things — inequality destabilizing societies making global cooperation less possible — are not things we can fix overnight, by turning a nut or a bolt, or throwing money at them. They never were. They are things we needed to see long ago, to really reject together, and invest in, nurture, protect, defend, for decades — so that capitalism did not melt down into fascism, and take away all our power to fight for our worlds, precisely when we would need it most.

But we did not do that. We were busy “solving problems”. Problems like… hey, how can I get my laundry done? Can I get my package delivered in one hour instead of one day? Wow — you mean I don’t have to walk down the street to get my pizza anymore? Amazing!! In this way, we solved all the wrong problems, if you like, but I would say that we solved mechanical problems instead of growing up as people.

Things like climate change and inequality and fascism are not really “problems” — they are emergent processes, which join up, in great tendrils of ruin, each piling on the next, which result from decades of neglect, inaction, folly, blindness.

We did not plant the seeds, or tend to our societies, economies, democracies, or planet carefully enough — and now we are harvesting bitter ruin instead.”
~ Umair Haque, October 2018

» Eudaimonia – 10 October 2018:
Why Catastrophic Climate Change is Probably Inevitable Now

Climate change is a political choice. Our governments and the fossil fuel industry have an increasing amount of blood on their hands.

“Be very suspicious when you see consumers blamed for climate change: We did not choose to give $5.5 trillion/year to Big Oil in free money; or to stifle clean energy alternatives since the Industrial Revolution; or to cause 4-6 million yearly deaths from air pollution. Big Oil did.”

Poster for print

“More than 70 percent of global emissions come from just 100 companies. The people who are actively cranking up the global thermostat and threatening to drown 20 percent of the global population are the billionaires in the boardrooms of these companies.”

» GQ – 11 October 2018:
Billionaires Are the Leading Cause of Climate Change
“As the world faces environmental disaster on a biblical scale, it’s important to remember exactly who brought us here.”

“Imagine we had regulations that forced those top 10 per cent of emitters to the average European level, while the other 90 per cent do nothing – the reduction in global emissions would be one third.”
~ Professor Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

“Things are looking extremely dire”

A long-ish read from long-time climate emergency campaigner Adrian Whitehead. He concludes with writing that “at this stage the only thing that will guarantee failure is inaction”.

By Adrian Whitehead

WARNING: You can NOT read this if you don’t want to face our future. Instead continue taking your BLUE PILLS (you need to keep taking these or you might wake up) and pretend life for you and your kids will go on as normal. Otherwise take the RED PILL and read on…

So I just came out of a two day negative emissions conference in Canberra at the ANU. Things are looking extremely dire. What has changed since I last went to a mainstream climate conference several years ago is that almost all global cooling options were discussed in one way or another and some presenters even argued for massive immediate efforts to reduce our impacts but not quite in a climate emergency mode. Sadly others still argued bluntly for incremental approaches and not to present the worst case scenarios.

What is really scary is that the assumptions around tipping points and impacts are still grossly underestimated and the discourse resolves around hitting net zero emissions in 2070 or thereabouts. This will put us well into the climate catastrophe. However even assuming net zero 2070 is a reasonable target the effort to get there will be hurclean, noting that 30 years of efforts to date have failed to stop global emissions from increasing year on year. The efforts to get to net zero will include massive geoengineering projects that have a range of social, economic and ecological costs and risks including risks of some engineering options rebounding centuries into the future. The scale is also mind boggling huge, such as grinding basalt and distributing it to ALL farmed land on the planet and distributing it in the oceans using ALL current cargo ships.

Sadly the longer we delay action to reduce our emissions to zero and the longer the planet heats the more dramatic will the geoengineering options need to be and the more that will need to be deployed simultaneously just to keep basic life sustaining services going.

So how does this play out? Governments will continue wait to act until we force them to. This could literally be in a year if people came out and campaigned on mass behind a climate emergency mobilisation response – (marches, arrests, name and shaming etc) THIS MEANS YOU, but will most likely be 5 to 25 years away, depending on the combination of people power and how bad the impacts get. When we do act what will be evident is that the situation is many times worse than they (governments/scientists) have previously admitted or acknowledged.

The acknowledgement of the true threat will result in a public mandate to conduct an all out effort to save our life support systems of this planet. if we leave our action to the later estimate 15-25 years then the situation will be so bad many of the worse geoengineering options will be implemented simultaneously by governments in desperate knee jerk responses. Some of the worst of these will disrupt the global ocean cycles or kill of fish stock in the majority of the planet or occupy much of the world’s remaining food growing land to grow biomass to burn and capture the carbon to be sequestered into geological formations – denying food to 100’s of millions if not billions. This will destroy nations and give rise to an even more ruthless global minority who will to crush anyone in its way.

Our only chance to avoid these scenarios is to act immediately to reduce our emissions to near zero at emergency speed and use the softer geoengineering options such as building soil carbon, rehydrating the land, making biochar from waste biomass, replanting forests, and rebuilding coastal ecologies (blue carbon) etc. But we need to do this now! Every year we delay brings us closer to the nightmare scenarios within our lifetimes and magnifies the economic and social burden of action and impacts onto future generations.

If you want a future for yourself, for your kids or for you grandkids please join the growing movement for a climate emergency mobilisation. We are already having wins in Australia and overseas.

Because only a small handful of people are campaigning in this space EVERY BIT OF HELP matters whether is is leafling a single street, attending a rally, putting a save the planet sign in your front yard or donating $100 or $10. But we really need you to do as much as you possibly can.

Join one of the existing campaigns for a climate emergency mobilisation. I would recommend the two we run: CACE (community action in the climate emergency) and Save the Planet, but there are others such as Cedamia and Breakthrough.

Step up, get involved, at this stage the only thing that will guarantee failure is inaction.

As a first step share this post to your own Facebook page.

And oh yeh – please like my personal political page.

Much love Adrian

Join the collective response

All of which is why we – the people on the ground as well as scientists and scholars, even school children – are rising more visibly and in bigger numbers against this criminal insanity.

Examples of this are the Extinction Rebellion movement in England, The People’s Demands for Climate Justice, the school strikes for climate action, which take place in numerous countries around the planet, and many other initiatives which are growing at the moment.

The People’s Demands for Climate Justice

“The tide is turning from Big Polluter obstruction toward people-powered solutions.”

“The People’s Demands for Climate Justice are a bold plan to show a united global front demanding climate justice and an end to the harmful impact of Big Polluters. And you’re the key: When thousands of us join together, we’re a force to be reckoned with.

Here’s what we’re demanding:

• Keep fossil fuels in the ground.

• Reject false solutions that are displacing real, people-first solutions to the climate crisis.

• Advance real solutions that are just, feasible, and essential.

• Honor climate finance obligations to developing countries.

• End corporate interference in, and capture of, the climate talks.

• Ensure developed countries honor their “Fair Shares” for largely fueling this crisis.

“Make no mistake: As the recent U.N. climate report makes strikingly clear, the fate of our planet — and millions of people’s lives — is on the line. Now is a crucial moment as we head into the next round of U.N. climate talks in December 2018. Because now is the time that global governments will hammer out exactly how they will meet the commitments they made in the Paris Agreement to curb the climate crisis.

Because this year is so crucial, Big Polluters — massive fossil fuel corporations like ExxonMobil, Shell, and others — are doing everything they can to undermine climate justice so they can keep polluting and profiting. And powerful governments like the U.S. under the Trump administration, and the European Union, are acting in lockstep with Big Polluters.

But people around the world are rejecting the stalling, cajoling, and dangerous distractions put forth by Big Polluters and the governments that do their bidding. Together with dozens of climate justice organizations from around the globe, we’re charting a path forward free of Big Polluters’ obstruction: The People’s Demands for Climate Justice.

» Add your name to the People’s Demands: a set of global safeguards to ensure the world takes meaningful, just action to address the climate crisis.

Nori’s Reversing climate change pledge

“We, the undersigned, commit ourselves to reducing the concentration of heat trapping gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. While reducing greenhouse gas emissions is an important step, we recognize that reversing the deadly trajectory of global climate change will also require the active removal of atmospheric carbon. Climate action markets will be critical to the success of carbon removal by making carbon capture financially feasible and accessible to the public. We pledge to participate in these new climate action markets designed to protect the future of our planet.

We will develop, use and/or learn more about technology and techniques to advance the removal of excess carbon from the atmosphere.

We will cultivate and participate in new climate action marketplaces as buyers, suppliers, verifiers, technology enablers, and/or peer reviewers.

We commit to taking part in a conversation and community that can rapidly & mindfully test, prove, and commercialize new carbon removal strategies.

By completing this form, I give Nori permission to periodically email me relevant information and invite me into conversations with other members of the Nori community.

I understand that indicating my interest in participating as a buyer, supplier, or verifier of Carbon Removal Certificates, or as a peer reviewer, is non-binding.”

» Sign here

“Hope in an age of crisis”

“How is it possible to live with despair? If, in the wake of last month’s horrifying UN report on global warming, you’ve been asking yourself this question, take some solace (or at least solidarity) from the knowledge that you’re not alone.”

“It’s the work of a writer at the top of his game – limber and lovely, delivering deep insights with delicacy and grace – and it poignantly makes the only case for climate action that has any chance of succeeding: that there is so much worth living for. “Even in a world of dying,” Franzen concludes, “new loves continue to be born.” ”

» The Guardian – 9 November 2018:
‘The End of the End of the Earth’ by Jonathan Franzen review – hope in an age of crisis
“A writer at the top of his game considers climate change, what we can do and what keeps him from despair”

U.S. senator:

“I don’t see any larger threat to our existence than climate change”

“For me this is an existential issue. We need wartime mobilization around climate change, and that level of economic mobilization is going to be required. And, the same way that we have an urgency, where we mobilize entire economies around existential war crises or threats, I don’t see any larger threat to our existence than climate change, and it’s going to take a full economic mobilization in order for us to address it.”
~ Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, newly elected U.S. Congress member, who will be championing this vision of climate emergency mobilisation in the U.S. Congress as part of her Green New Deal

“Dramatically underestimating the urgency of the climate crisis”

“I’m seeing lots of folks say that the takeaway from the recent IPCC report is that “We only have 12 years to turn things around.” But this is a serious misreading of what the report says. The report says that we have to reduce global carbon emissions by 45% below 2010 levels by 2030, which is about a 50% reduction from current 2018 levels, in order to have a decent chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C.

Folks with stronger science credentials than me are welcome to correct me here, but it seems to me that even the narrative that is trying to take this report seriously is still dramatically underestimating the urgency of the climate crisis.”
~ Tim DeChristopher, American activist working for fossil fuel and prison abolition
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