Global Rescue Plan A flopped. Now what? Enter Plan P

Climatic clippings no 9 in 2018 ] 

2018 was the year when words of emergency, breakdown, collapse and extinction started ringing in our ears with more disturbing clarity than ever before, but even so, the destruction of our climate continued as if no one was listening.

‘Plan A’ for how humanity could solve the climate crisis through the UN system and governmental negotiation and regulation turned out to be catastrophically inefficient and insufficient to deal with this challenge.

Through 2018, the scientific climate assessments have told us the same story in report after report after report: The problem is still getting worse, the risks keep increasing. This is an existential crisis. We are sleepwalking into a man-made disaster.

While most governments fail to act on the emergency, community leaders, artists and even media are increasingly raising their voices about the madness in this suicidal situation.

2018 showed new signs that the time may finally have come for ‘Plan P’ – which, if we think about it, actually is the only plan through-out history that has enabled humans to create fast turnarounds at a society-wide level: People power.

“Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate change. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”
~ David Attenborough, British broadcaster and environmentalist, speaking to world leaders at a two-week UN climate conference in the Polish coal city of Katowice

» The New Daily – 4 December 2018:
David Attenborough offers grim climate change warning


“What’s the point of having kids or living our current way on Earth if the continuing destruction of the environment by “civilisation” continues. Food, fresh water sources and biodiversity are already collapsing. Think you are safe in Australia? Greed, stupidity and denial are the attitudes that rule the world. I can’t see changes coming quickly enough. Just another mass extinction that nature will recover from. Sorry.”
Ross Longden, commenting on David Attenborough’s speech on Facebook


“Sadly, too many people are oblivious to the truth of climate change as they hang onto the lies of our political leaders and some of our news reporters who just don’t want a solution because it interrupts the activities they are paid to support.”
~ Mark Jones, commenting on the same video on Facebook



“We have to cut emissions very deeply, very fast, if we are not to risk the creation of hell on Earth.”

» Jeremy Leggett – 17 October 2018:
God, Man, Tech and Climate: Hans Joachim Schellnhuber paints a picture for the Club of Rome
“Let us please try harder than we are today, collectively. Failure may mean the total eradication of our species from the planet even quicker than global overheating can reduce our numbers.”



 


 

“Professor Shellnhuber, the world’s premier climate scientist, and Christiana Figueres, architect of the Paris Climate Accord, say we have but three years to radically start reducing carbon emissions or we run the risk of hitting our planetary boundaries, and getting into a hothouse earth state. We are hurtling towards biosphere collapse. We have to do something fast! Time to return power to communities away from our fossil drenched politicians and corporates.”
~ Sally Newell


Labor Party needs to actually read the 1.5°C IPCC Report

Sally Newell from the Victorian Climate Action Network sent a letter to Labor leaders Bill Shorten, Mark Butler, Plibersek, Albanese, and more, calling Labor out over their claim that a 50 per cent emissions cut by 2050 should be “consistent with the science of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, IPCC”. This no longer holds true, Newell wrote:

Sally Newell writes:

“I would like to draw your attention to Breakthrough’s updated dissection of scientific reticence and bright siding ‘What Lies Beneath’ and would like to quote from its introduction by Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber:

“So calculating probabilities makes little sense in the most critical instances, such as the methane-release dynamics in thawing permafrost areas or the potential failing of entire states in the climate crisis. Rather, we should identify possibilities, that is, potential developments in the planetary make-up that are consistent with the initial and boundary conditions, the processes and the drivers we know.

This is akin to scenario planning, now being proposed for assessing climate risks in the corporate sector, where the consequences of a number of future possibilities, including those which may seem highly unlikely, but have major consequences, are evaluated. This way one can overcome the probability obsession that not only fantasizes about the replicability of the singular, but also favours the familiar over the unknown and unexpected.

As an extreme example, the fact that our world has never been destroyed previously would conventionally assign probability zero to such an event. But this only holds true under steady-state assumptions, which are practically never warranted.”

The point is the IPCC is saying that much more accelerated action is required to meet 1.5°C – we know that 2°C risks setting off irreversible feedback loops, in particular bingo point for irreversible Greenland  melt is likely to be 1.6°C and the resultant slowing of ocean currents will greatly exacerbate ocean deoxygenation. 2°C also risks setting off accelerated permafrost methane release, which sets us up for catastrophic existential risk.

Here is a passage from an email from Climate News Network:

“Peter Erickson told the Climate News Network that the scenarios published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with its recent report Global Warming of 1.5°C provided guideposts to the SEI’s work.

He said: “The median results of those scenarios suggest that global oil production (and consumption) needs to decline more than 40% between 2020 and 2030 to meet a 1.5°C target, global coal production (and consumption) more than 80%, and global gas production (and consumption) by more than 40% (the declines are rather less for meeting a 2°C goal).

“These declines could be accomplished most effectively with both demand and supply-side measures. That is our central point – that limiting fossil fuel production is an important complement to limiting demand.”

I find it disingenuous to continue to say that Labor’s plans will land us “safely” below 2°C (pro rata I assume) when the 1.5°C Report, and recent publications such as Steffen et al  point to a Hothouse earth state “inhospitable” to our species and others from current proposed climate action pathways, bringing our world closer to irreversible biosphere collapse.

Mora et al offers the grim conclusion that even with strong climate action we would be likely to see 3 cyclone Tracys a year in Darwin by 2100 and six without it. (please see the interactive map)

I would ask that the Labor party revisits its climate action trajectories, with acting according to recent climate science reports, particularly the full 1.5°C IPCC Report where 50% by 2030 is widened to including a much faster phasing out of coal. 100% of stationary energy by 2030 is very possible in Australia. 50% by 2030 would see the renewables industry slow and would see the 24,000 jobs reduce to 5,900 jobs.

I would ask that you question your assumptions and statements that 50% by 2030 is either safe, sufficient, or in accordance with the latest reports.”
~ Sally Newell


United Nations


» CNN – 27 November 2018:
Climate change is killing people now, and it’s getting much deadlier

» CNN – 27 November 2018:
World is woefully short of 2 degree goal for climate change, according to UN report
“Latest projections of carbon emissions from countries put us on a path for 3.2 degrees C warming by the end of this century.”

» The Guardian – 7 November 2018:
Stop biodiversity loss or we could face our own extinction, warns UN
“The world has two years to secure a deal for nature to halt a ‘silent killer’ as dangerous as climate change, says biodiversity chief”



USA


“1,656-page climate report from… the White House

“A massive report issued by the Trump administration emphasizes the dire threat that human-caused global warming poses to the United States and its citizens. “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities,” researchers say in the report.

“Scary stuff”

“… The report’s conclusion [is] that the effects of climate change will reverberate for thousands of years, and that much of the planet’s animal and plant life will never recover.”

“Due for release in December, the report is endorsed by the Department of Defense, and 12 federal scientific agencies including NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that sits within the United States Department of Commerce. The report is presumably an embarrassment for President Donald Trump as it contradicts every position he has taken on the phenomenon.”
~ The New Daily

The 1,656-page report details the climate and economic impacts U.S. residents will see if drastic action is not taken to address climate change. The last few years have smashed records for damaging weather in the United States, costing nearly $400 billion since 2015. In a worst-case scenario, the researchers say, climate change could deliver a 10 percent hit to the nation’s GDP by the end of the century.”

“Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilisation, primarily as a result of human activities. The assumption that current and future climate conditions will resemble the recent past is no longer valid.”
~ Opening sentences of the report ‘Fourth National Climate Assessment’

» Read the report:
www.nca2018.globalchange.gov

» The New Daily – 24 November 2018:
The White House sneak-releases report on the looming horrors of climate change
“Donald Trump has taken a leaf out of Scott Morrison’s sneak playbook – releasing a devastating report on climate change while the country was distracted by the busiest shopping day of the year.”

» USA Today – 25 November 2018:
U.S. impacts of climate change are intensifying, Trump admin says

» Gizmodo – 25 November 2018:
US Government Climate Report Lays Out How Screwed We Are If We Don’t Act Now
“The Trump administration’s attempt to bury a new climate report on Black Friday totally backfired”



» World Meteorological Organization – 20 November 2018:
Greenhouse gas levels in atmosphere reach new record
“Levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). There is no sign of a reversal in this trend, which is driving long-term climate change, sea level rise, ocean acidification and more extreme weather.”


“Like a terror movie that is real”

A new study suggests that without aggressive action to curb global warming, climate-related crises are likely to come in bunches. By 2100, there could be as many as six at a time in some places, “like a terror movie that is real,” as the lead author of the study said.

» SBS News – 20 November 2018:
How climate change will cause more simultaneous disasters
“By 2100 some parts of the world could be hit by as many as six crises at a time.”

» The New Daily – 16 November 2018:
Thousands of ways to kill the world: Global warming is the worst-case scenario
“Plant or animal species killed off by extreme environmental change dramatically increases the risk of an extinction domino effect that could annihilate all life on Earth.”

» Smithsonian – 27 November 2018:
Extreme Weather Is Turning the Arctic Brown, Signaling Ecosystem’s Inability to Adapt to Climate Change



How much global warming is your country’s Paris pledge leading to?

If the world adopted Australia’s attitude, we would all be heading for 4.4°C degrees global warming, according to this research – which according to climate scientists is a temperature rise “far beyond our capacity to adapt” …with all ice melted, sea-level rise of up to 50 metres causing major devastations, farmland becoming desert, and on top of that, a permafrost catastrophe which could make things even worse.

Good on ya, Australia!

Researchers at the University of Melbourne have produced this map showing the climate trajectory each country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement would take us if adopted worldwide.

The worst performing are Russia, China and Canada heading for more than 5°C, with the US and Australia not far behind.

Denmark, the UK and Sweden aren’t doing too bad, relatively speaking, heading for 3.0°, 2.9° and 2.7°C degrees respectively, but still way above the 1.5°C target.

If you are thinking, “What is the really meaning of a 4°C warming?”, then here’s a couple of videos that touch on this:

» Sky News explains:

» Gavin Schmidt, Kevin Anderson, Erik Conway and Erick Fernandes explain:

» Find out more on www.paris-equity-check.org




“Australian policy inaction threatens lives”

Scientists have identified for the first time an association between mean annual maximum temperatures pushed higher by climate change and suicides for both males and females across states and territories, according to a paper published by The Medical Journal of Australia.

» Medical Journal of Australia | The Lancet – 29 November 2018:
The MJA–Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: Australian policy inaction threatens lives

» Sydney Morning Herald – 29 November 2018:
Mental health added to impact of climate change as global damage grows





“Why is coal so hard to quit? Because coal is a powerful incumbent. It’s there by the millions of tons under the ground. Powerful companies, backed by powerful governments, often in the form of subsidies, are in a rush to grow their markets before it is too late. Banks still profit from it. Big national electricity grids were designed for it. Coal plants can be a surefire way for politicians to deliver cheap electricity — and retain their own power. In some countries, it has been a glistening source of graft.”

» The New York Times – 24 November 2018:
The World Needs to Quit Coal. Why Is It So Hard?




 



How climate researchers are coping with the U.N. report

Eric Holthaus spoke with more than a dozen scientists about how their lives have changed since the release of the IPCC report in October – a blockbuster report that awakened the world to the urgency of climate change. That report, assembled with input from thousands of scientists and signed off by representatives of every nation on Earth, reached a stark conclusion: We have to cut emissions in half by 2030 or risk a Mad Max-esque planet.

The scientists responses reflect the same internal tensions many of us have felt: relief that the true stakes of climate change are finally out there, grief and fear over our lack of action, impatience with leaders who continue to shirk their responsibilities, and excitement to get to work on a problem that affects us all.

» Grist – 18 November 2018:
The science of self-care: How climate researchers are coping with the U.N. report


We’ve known what was coming…

Three decades ago climate scientists told us that the first signs of climate change would appear in the temperature record, and extreme heat events would become more common and more extreme. This is exactly what has happened, only much faster than projected:


Recent studies show the 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, and the top four in the past four years.

“100 years from now, our descendants will look back on our choices in this era as no less serious than the choices made during WWI. Simply: We have the choice to preserve civilization by taking radical action to remake society without fossil fuels — or let all we have slip away.”
~ Eric Holthaus, American meteorologist

» WWF – 2018:
A warning sign from our planet: nature needs life support

» The Guardian – 13 April 2018:
Make half of world more nature-friendly by 2050, urges UN biodiversity chief

» The Guardian – 15 June 2016:
Could we set aside half the Earth for nature?





The Last Hours of Humanity: Warming the World to Extinction
Published on youtube.com on 11 October 2013 – five years ago






“Australian policy inaction threatens lives”

Scientists have identified for the first time an association between mean annual maximum temperatures pushed higher by climate change and suicides for both males and females across states and territories, according to a paper published by The Medical Journal of Australia.

» The Lancet – 29 November 2018:
The MJA–Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: Australian policy inaction threatens lives

» Sydney Morning Herald – 29 November 2018:
Mental health added to impact of climate change as global damage grows



Australian politics: let’s go to the edge of the cliff

In Australia, the federal government has abandoned an emissions-reduction target and expects the country’s emissions to keep rising until 2030, purportedly in order to “protect our way of life”. Opposition leader Bill Shorten is mocked in some quarters by campaigning to cut our emissions in half by 2030.

“Malcolm Turnbull losing his grip on the prime ministership is the latest failure in a decade-long story of broken climate policy in Australia,” wrote the Conversation:

» The Conversation – 22 August 2018:
“Australia burns while politicians fiddle with the leadership”





 

“From wild fires and devastating hurricanes to the ongoing threat of melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels, climate change is no longer something we can ignore. The problem feels so imminent and unavoidable that our everyday mental states have become affected due to panic and worry over impending disasters. So what exactly is ‘eco-anxiety’ and how can you tell if you have it?”

» Bustle – 27 October 2018:
Eco-Anxiety Is Real, So Here’s How To Cope If You’re Worried About Climate Change


 


 




“It will take intense pressure”

Glen Klatovsky from 350 Australia wrote:
“On the day the UN’s 1.5°C report was released, our PM Scott Morrison referred to strategies to reduce emissions as “all that nonsense”. Deputy PM Michael McCormack described the landmark UN warning as “some sort of report” and said Australia will “absolutely” keep relying on coal-fired power. And unbelievably, Australia’s new Environment Minister Melissa Price basically trotted out the same old ‘clean coal’ rubbish we have heard from the Minerals Council.

Make no mistake, it will take intense pressure for our politicians to step up. It will be hard work. The current federal government has proved time and time again that they are very committed to their relationship with the fossil fuel industry.”



 


 


 


“In addition to not undermining life itself, a future based on distributed renewable energy enjoys many other positives, such as not producing murderous regimes or contributing to famines.

Powerful vested interests will fight this transition tooth and nail. Elected leaders will look to public opinion on whether or not to act. Our future and our morality hang in the balance.”
~ Mitchell Anderson

» The Tyee – 26 October 2018:
The Moral Rot of Fossil Fuels
“Petroleum’s corrupting influence is on wretched display more than ever before.”


 

“The most dangerous enemy our civilisation has is within it”

“There is a convergence of crisis that will happen in Australia well before 2035. It is also reasonably likely that in nations like Australia that there will be a severe energy crisis within the time frame that this article predicts. This is because we are way behind the rest of the world in terms of our uptake of electric vehicles and our transition to a renewables based society and economy. Oil will run out and when it happens if we are not ready for it there will be widespread social discord.

The true extent of the deeply callous attitude of the corporate fascists – and their political stooges – in both hard and lite neoliberal political parties should be the basis for crimes against humanity. A fate they so rightly deserve and our civilisation needs to survive.

If there are not enough people in Australia who are awakened and ready to stand up – and take appropriate political action against the swindlers of our common wealth in both major political parties – the pain we all will suffer will be far more severe and sooner than many think. The following is the type of public policy action plan that is needed now. Please share it widely:”
» Anchoring Australian Climate Policy in Reality



 


 


 


USA:

Tell your lawmakers: Act now to avoid climate catastrophe

A widening madness threatens the world, only one thing can avert catastrophe, and we’re running out of time.

Rhea Suh, President, Natural Resources Defense Council, wrote:

“That’s no Hollywood action film trailer. It’s the sobering and all-too-real warning sounded by the world’s top climate scientists in an official report revealing that we might reach the threshold of climate catastrophe very soon — and underscoring the need for climate action now.

The damning new report, authored by the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), reveals that we could suffer some of the most severe effects of climate change if the global temperature rises to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, which could happen as soon as 2040. We’re already at 1°C. And 2°C of warming would be catastrophic.

We can still prevent runaway climate disaster, the report concludes, but we need a massive, globally coordinated effort to drastically reduce greenhouse gases on a scale we haven’t seen before.

So what are President Trump and his pro-polluter cabinet doing about climate change? They’re rolling back nearly every crucial federal policy meant to tackle climate change and boost clean energy. And they continue to give handouts to their fossil fuel industry buddies every chance they get.

We know we can’t trust the Trump administration to protect us from the dangers of climate change, so for now real climate action will have to come from our state representatives and senators, governors, and from Congress.

We’re already seeing the havoc that climate-fueled disasters can wreak: Record heatwaves, unprecedented wildfires, droughts, floods, sea level rise, and stronger hurricanes — tragic storms like Hurricane Michael, which devastated Florida’s panhandle early this week, and Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas last month.

The IPCC report conveys that every fraction of a degree of warming matters. If we surpass 1.5°C and reach 2°C of warming, hundreds of millions more people will suffer, as unyielding drought and blistering heat take a growing toll on livestock and crops, water sources become depleted, and disease spreads more rapidly worldwide.

We must move now to phase out dirty fossil fuels and transition to cleaner, smarter ways to power our future.

True leaders understand how much is at stake — and that fighting back requires innovative solutions on an extraordinary scale. Across the country, visionary mayors, governors, and business leaders are taking the lead and making major progress on climate and clean energy at the state and local levels.

Meanwhile, President Trump — backed by pro-polluter lawmakers and fossil fuel allies — continues moving to withdraw the United States from the historic Paris climate agreement, kill the landmark Clean Power Plan, attack lifesaving clean car standards, prop up dirty coal-fired power plants, scale back investments in creating clean energy jobs, expand oil and gas drilling off our shores and on our public lands, and more.

Here at NRDC, with help from our over 3 million members and supporters, we’re fighting tooth-and-nail to block these dangerous, backwards policies. And our team of experienced lawyers are working hard to block Trump’s illegal actions in court whenever necessary — and winning.

Now we need our governors, members of Congress, and state and local lawmakers to stand with us and help lead on climate. And no matter what, we must keep the pressure on Trump and his administration to reverse course and stop attacking action on climate and clean energy.

Generations from now, when our children’s children’s children look back on this report, they will know we understood the threat. They will know that we were warned. They will know us by how we respond.”
~ Rhea Suh,
President, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

The mission of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is to safeguard the Earth: its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.





Climate calamity harms our mental health too

A new study points out that climate change doesn’t just impact our physical environment — it also harms our mental health.

The research, which is published this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrates a direct link between adverse weather as a result of climate change and an increase in reported mental health problems.

To look at this, the researchers used verified climate data and then compared that research with survey data from nearly two million US residents who reported their mental health over a 30 day period. The data was part of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance survey.

Previous research has established a potential link between mental health and climate change, and intuitively this link does make some sense. The stress factors associated with a changing climate—including flood damage, adverse heat and more frequent damaging storms—would all seem like fuel to exacerbate or even drive mental ill health. This study lends yet more weight to this idea.

The researchers found that when, over a 30 day period, temperatures were hotter or the weather wetter than normal, respondents’ mental health suffered.

For example, the researchers found that when average temperatures rose above 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees C) for a sustained length of time, it led to a 0.5 percent increase in the likelihood of someone reporting a mental health problem, like anxiety or depression. The researchers say this translates to nearly two million people reporting mental health difficulties above the average for that period.

The researchers also looked for broader patterns, so they could meaningfully characterize global warming and what it means for our mental health. They found that, during a five year period, a 1°C (33.8F) rise in temperatures increased prevalence of mental health issues by two percentage points.

It’s worth unpacking that just a little more for context. One of the Paris Climate Agreement’s key goals is to keep global temperature from rising 2°C (35.6F) or more. Despite some nations making great strides, globally we are currently failing at that target, and some researchers are warning we will be lucky to keep temperatures below 2.5°C (36.5F) at this rate. This figure has, unfortunately, often been quite abstract, but this mental health research puts a specific risk factor on this: for every 1C the temperature rises, we will likely see a rise in mental health issues.

The researchers then zeroed in on a particular event that happened during the 2002-2012 study window: Hurricane Katrina. They looked at the mental health data of residents affected by the devastating Category 5 storm that occurred in 2005. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the researchers found a four percent rise in mental health issues above the norm as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

Corroborating other research, this study also demonstrated that women and poorer communities were up to 60 percent more likely to experience mental health problems as a result of our changing climate than the country’s top earners.

Researchers not associated with the study have said that it tallies with other independent findings on the link between climate change and adverse effects on our mental health.

Dr. Jonathan Patz of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison tells CNN that, “The most important point of this [new] study is that climate change, indeed, is affecting mental health, and certain populations (women and the poor) are disproportionally impacted.”

What is perhaps doubly interesting about this research is that we don’t know the true extent of the impact climate change might be having on our mental health. That’s because this data relies on self-reported feelings about mental health. Obviously, what one person classes as a low mood state may not be immediately obvious to others. To make that more concrete: poorer people may be used to more adversity than those who are more affluent, or at the very least are more used to dealing with adversity without the resources that having money can provide. As such, they may actually underestimate the impact that climate change is having on their mental health precisely because they are used to poorer mental health across the board.

The need for more research in this area is pressing, but this data reveals just how interconnected we are with our environment. If we want to promote good mental health we also have to devote time, resources and spending on driving down harmful climate change.

» The Independent:
Climate change already causing increases in stress, depression and negative mental health, study shows
“Women and people on low incomes are more likely to report mental health problems due to weather.”



 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 




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