Frequently Asked Questions
The Ultimate Climate Change FAQ
First of all, for facts and resources about climate change, covering science, politics and economics, you will find many answers to your questions in ‘The Ultimate Climate Change FAQ’ which has been collected by the British newspaper The Guardian’s strong team of sustainability journalists. They also have a Climate Change Q&As
Going Green – Information Guide
Middletown Thrall Library in New York has spent a lot of time on building a ‘Going Green’ information guide which explores topics such as ‘green’ practices, products, technologies, sustainable alternatives, along with related news and issues. thrall.org
Frequently Asked Climate Safety Questions
• What is climate change?
• Why on earth haven’t they just fixed it?
• What will it cost to fix the climate change problem?
• Why do we resist the truth about climate change?
• Is business going to be the key driver of change?
• ‘Carbon tax’ – what good should that do?
• Is it true that secret funding helped build a vast network of climate denial thinktanks?
• Is it true that even if we do take action now, climate trends over the next 100 years are unlikely to change?
• If you total up the entire air pollution in Australia and compare it to the world, actually it’s pretty low. So why should we bother?
• What would a four degree world look like?
• Where do the greenhouse gases come from?
• Where is global warming going?
• What does extreme weather have to do with global warming?
• Is it possible to exist without being dependent on fossil fuel already today?
• What would a realistic energy solution look like?
• Who is doing something?
What is climate change?
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.K. Royal Society have co-authored an excellent (and colorful) climate change primer – a Climate Change Q&A – that lays out the answers to 20 common questions about climate change.
» Download the document from www.royalsociety.org (PDF)
Climate science explained in 60 seconds by the Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences. Published on youtube.com on 10 December 2014
But… Why on earth havn’t they just fixed it?
The most frequently asked question when talking to young people about climate change issues is: Why don’t our elected leaders see that we need to fix this problem with carbon emissions, climate change and global warming? — and it could be narrowed down to: Why don’t those leaders we have elected to govern our societies live up to their responsibility and fix this problem for us before it is too late?
Didn’t we elect them to protect the safety and security of our society?
One sad answer is that politicians will never be interested in spending time, money and energy on something which — if they succeed — will not actually be felt or seen. It is not an election-winning agenda.
On top of that, it will not happen before many years from now, maybe after they have died themselves, and it will mostly benefit people who live far away in some other countries. This, let’s face it, is simply not a politically sellable cocktail to invest millions and millions of euros, dollars or kroner in. More about this topic here.
Furthermore, this world has a very rich and powerful fossil fuel industry which would like to continue making profits from the production and sales of dirty energy as long as they possibly can.
Pope Francis, the global leader of around 1.2 billion Catholics, put it this way:
“There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.”
Pope Francis, ‘Laudato Si’ encyclical, Section 54
“All that stands in the way of saving the planet is a combination of ignorance, prejudice and vested interests.”
Moms Clean Air Force
Article in New York Times on 17 April 2014 by Paul Krugman:
Salvation Gets Cheap
“The incredible recent decline in the cost of renewable energy, solar power in particular, have improved the economics of climate change.”
“Rich people feel immune”
You should watch this sermon by Bill McKibben about climate change regardless of which religion you belong to. The first 5:30 minutes in my opinion can be skipped or fast-forwarded through.
“Rich people feel immune to these problems,” Bill McKibben says. “Exxon made more money last year than any company in the history of money.”
McKibben touches on something very fundamental there. The fossil fuel industry is richer and more powerful than even our democratically elected politicians. If we want to see a fast transition towards an existence without fossil fuels, we really need to understand which powers we are up against.
Behind the lines, the shareholders of the fossil-fuel industry have influence, probably more than we’d like to know. And as long as they profit from their old-fashioned fossil-fuel-based industry, believe me, they will do whatever they can to keep that oil flowing in the pipes for as long as possible.
“Nobody has more political muscle than the fossil fuel industry, especially in Washington”
Fred Pearce — a consultant on environmental issues — in an article in the magazine New Scientist on 26 January 2013.
You can confirm that information about Exxon at Forbes’ website, a magazine for the world’s business leaders, which just announced 2013’s Fortune 500: Three Big Oil companies are in the Top Five for highest revenues.
Four of them are on the Top 10 of the world’s most profitable companies.
On Forbes list of the world’s 2000 leading companies, seven of those who made it to the lists’ Top 20 are oil and gas companies. Together, these seven companies alone made profits of 175 billion US dollars last year.
The American Exxon Mobil with almost 77,000 employees is the most profitable company in the world, according to Forbes, making 44.9 billion US dollars profits last year. The Russian oil and gas company Gazprom made 40.6 billion US dollars, while Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron each produced over 25 billion US dollars for their shareholders.
To quote the mission statement of the Fossil Free movement: “If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage.”
» You can see Forbes’ Global 2000 list here: forbes.com/global2000
Some countries and some politicians have been taking some initiatives, at national as well as city-level. Australia, for instance, implemented a carbon tax in 2012, asking the polluters of the atmosphere to pay a fee to the government which can then be used to invest in green energy. That didn’t go very well, though, because business-owners weren’t too impressed with the new bills they suddenly had to pay.
Melbourne in south of Australia, Quebec in Canada, and Denmark’s capital Copenhagen are all trying to move as fast as they can towards carbon-neutrality.
But… mind you, these same politicians who say they are trying to protect the atmosphere’s CO2-balance are often cutting carbon emissions with one hand, while supporting new fossil fuels export, exploration and income-generating enterprises with the other.
Canada, for instance, is the sixth largest oil producing country in the world, and when the optimistically looking carbon-accounts are being produced, the income-generating fossil-fuel exports are not included. In 2010, energy accounted for 6.8 percent of Canada’s GDP, with oil and gas contributing roughly half of that amount. (Here is what appears to be a good description of the current Canadian dilemma.)
Australia remains one of the worst carbon-offenders in the developed world, when measured per capita. The country is the world’s largest exporter of coal. In Australia, the oil and gas industry generates an estimated revenue of 40 billion Australian dollars a year (31 billion euros, and to the Danes: 230 milliarder danske kroner), and according to Yarra Climate Action Now, the Australian government spends over 10 billion Australian dollars (7.7 billion euros) of taxpayers money every year on subsidising the coal, oil and gas industries.
In November 2014, Oil Change International published the following costs for the exploration of new fossil fuel reserves:
“A report from Oil Change International (US) and the Overseas Development Institute (UK) has highlighted the perverse incentives governments are giving to fossil fuel companies, with G20 governments spending $100 billion (USD$88 billion) a year searching for new oil, gas, and coal reserves.
The US leads the way with $5.9 billion (USD$5.1bn), but Australia’s $4 billion (USD $3.5bn) puts it a close second, and ahead of the $2.7 billion (USD $2.4bn) Russia spends. Globally, governments subsidise fossil fuels to the tune of AUD$887 billion a year, while spending, by comparison, a tiny AUD$117bn (USD$101 bn) on renewable energy.
Such skewed support for fossil fuels is a direct threat to the global carbon budget, which states that two thirds of known fossil fuel reserves have to stay in the ground if the world is to keep average warming to 2°C. The report urges G20 leaders to phase out these dirty, inefficient exploration subsidies as a first step to meeting existing commitments to avoid harmful climate change.”
While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that the world must phase out up to 70 per cent of fossil fuels by 2050, Australia and other G20 nations continue to pay lip service to a clean energy transition by spending billions subsidising new fossil fuel exploration activities.
» Download the report by Oil Change International
» Source: The Tree
“Oil giants and trade groups spend an estimated $115 million per year blocking climate policies.”
Australian coal and gas is being shipped and burned around Asia at record rates – but at what cost to the climate?
According to the International Monetary Fund, as much as one-fifth of some Arab state budgets go to subsidising gasoline and cooking fuel — more than 200 billion US dollars a year in the Arab world as a whole — rather than into spending on renewables, or on health or education.
In June 2012, a group of large organisations begged the EU decision-makers to “stand firm against last-minute efforts to provide backdoor subsidies for fossil fuels.” Which they of course did not.
Which is why, in short, and quite obviously, we can’t really expect the solutions the planet needs to be coming from that end.
One day — which hopefully comes soon! — the technological development will make renewable energy cheaper and more profitable than fossil-based energy, and then the transition towards renewable energy will speed up. Saving money has always been the Number 1 Driver for Change in human societies.
Until then, we have only ourselves and our own moral to rely on. Solutions can only come from bottom-up, from people who on an individual basis make up their mind and take a stand.
Just like Bill McKibben, and many others, are doing it.
“A new group that’s being cobbled together with fossil fuel backing hopes to spend about $10 million dollars per year to boost petroleum-based transportation fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles, according to refining industry sources familiar with the plan. A Koch Industries board member and a veteran Washington energy lobbyist are working quietly to fund and launch the new advocacy outfit.”
» The Huffington Post – 18 February 2016:
The Kochs Are Plotting A Multimillion-Dollar Assault On Electric Vehicles
» Mother Earth News – 10 January 2014:
Three Reasons Why We Haven’t Switched to Alternative Energy
By David Glenn
“Part of what is going on is an information war. $8 trillion can buy you a lot of information, and can help you spread quite a bit of misinformation.”
Tony Seba, an energy expert from Stanford University, author of ‘Solar Trillions’
“At least fifty oil companies, business trade associations, labor unions, and political groups with combined lobbying budgets of more than 178 million US dollars lobbied Washington in support of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in 2012. And the dozen groups lobbying against the environmentally risky project had 2012 lobbying budgets of less than 5 million US dollars total.”
Josh Israel on 20 February 2013 in his article Supporters Of Keystone XL Outspend Opponents 35 To 1
Common Dreams / TomDispatch.com – 23 May 2013:
The Biggest Criminal Enterprise in History
Terracide and the terrarists destroying the planet for record profits. By Tom Engelhardt
It’s time for the climate movement to pause and consider the implications of the repeated failure of carbon trading in other countries. Climate campaigners in Europe and in the global South are struggling to end Europe’s flawed scheme.
In February, more than 130 grassroots climate justice groups released a statement that said: “We believe that the emission trading scheme must be abolished no later than 2020 to make room for climate measures that work.”
They also said, “insisting on trying to ‘fix’ a system that is broken from the start diverts attention and resources away from just and effective policies … [we] affirm that there is only one option possible with a clear climate benefit: to end the scheme once and for all.”
Green Left – 24 June 2013:
Don’t let our climate response be privatised
We should stop saying yes to a price on carbon. By Simon Butler
How the Climate Reality Project puts it: “We are all paying the price of carbon pollution. It’s time to put a price on carbon and make the polluters stop the carbon destruction.”
“An inferior and inadequate kind of intelligence”
“Hundreds of millions of people are greatly concerned with Harry Potter, as if he’s one of the most important things in life; and what happens to him is what they desperately want to know. Why are they paying attention to the imaginary Harry Potter, instead of the man behind the curtain — global warming?
There are two billion peasants living in the great river valleys of Asia. Global warming either means more or less snow on the Tibetan plateau, which melts either faster or slower, which means either drought or flood or both. And none of these two billion people have enough resources to leave their land and move to the cities, because the land is what they’ve got.
It’s not just the “eight million stories in the naked city.” It’s two billion. Why, if we can organize ourselves to have Harry Potter festivals, can’t we organize ourselves to deal with this? The right answer is that we are jumped up East African plains apes, who’ve barely managed to evolve an inferior and inadequate kind of intelligence. This is yet more evidence of how inferior and inadequate our intelligence is.”
J. Brad DeLong, professor of economics at the University of California at Berkeley, USA
“Policies like California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard, if they spread, would be the death knell for extreme crude investments. But overall we’re short of solid models for breaking apart oil’s monopoly, and funders have been slow to invest in this space.”
Carl Pope who spent the last 18 years of his career at the Sierra Club as CEO and chairman. He is now the principal advisor at Inside Straight Strategies, looking for the underlying economics that link sustainability and economic development.
What will it cost to fix the climate change problem?
…and why we must get off fossil fuels, beginning now:
The global cost of oil is more than five times the cost to abandon it. And this figure does not even begin to look at the costs of coal – or all the hidden costs of fossil fuels.
Those who say it is naive to be talking about the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy are either not well informed or deliberately lying. With all the money there is in the fossil fuel industry, you can’t blame them for trying to protect their profitable business.
According to professor James M. Byrne, Chair of Geography at University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, who produed the video above, ‘Climate Change – Do the Math!’, The world is currently spending 5.5 times more on fossil fuels every year than it would have to if we instead began to invest in the transition to renewables, creating the infrastructure and capacity to decrease emissions and increase efficiency.
This video is worth spending 11 minutes on. James Byrne gives you a very clear idea about why we must get off fossil fuels, beginning NOW. The video it is based in part on the Rolling Stone opinion editorial by Bill McKibben, ‘Global Warming’s Terryfying New Math’ (which is explained during the first six minutes of the video), but in the second half of the video, it gets really interesting in our context because here, Byrne adds a new and extra key number to Bill McKibben’s maths: the one percent.
According to the Cambridge University Global Review, Economics of Climate Change, the cost of fixing the climate change problem is one percent of global GDP. That is it. The cost to make a smooth transition to a clean economy — one no longer tied to fossil fuels — is $790 billion a year which is 5.5 times less than what we currently are paying to maintain the industry of fossil fuels.
“Who says we cannot afford to change when the numbers tell us it is 5.5 times more expensive to continue business as usual?
Switching off fossil fuels doesn’t just make sense for your children who want a healthy planet to raise their children on. It makes economic sense. And if you don’t know that, remember who is making sure you don’t know that and why it is in their financial and political interests for you to be confused. Climate change kills 400,000 people a year? And why don’t we know that?,” commented Climate of Change blogger Doug Craig.
Watch the video, and study the facts. If you have trouble believing what you see and hear, do your own research. These are not made up numbers, and you can check out the references if you are interested in learning more. Or continue here.
Why do we resist the truth about climate change?
‘Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth about Climate Change’ is a 2010 book by Australian academic Clive Hamilton which explores climate change denial and its implications. It argues that climate change will bring about large-scale, harmful consequences for habitability for life on Earth including humans, which it is too late to prevent. Hamilton explores why politicians, corporations and the public deny or refuse to act on this reality. He invokes a variety of explanations, including wishful thinking, ideology, consumer culture and active lobbying by the fossil fuel industry.
The book builds on the author’s fifteen-year prior history of writing about these subjects, with previous books including Growth Fetish and Scorcher: ‘The Dirty Politics of Climate Change’.
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Is business going to be the key driver of change?
“Businesses have two things the governments cannot put on the table; access and the motivation for innovation and for capital investment.
But don’t businesses need governments to introduce regulation and better incentives to drive change?
“It is very much a catch 22 because ultimately business says to government to put the policies, frameworks and incentives in place and they will follow. Governments turn to business and say, ‘well convince me that if I take the lead that the businesses in my country are going to stay competitive.’ So they keep looking at each other and saying ‘you first, you first, you first’ and the point is they can no longer play the ‘you first’ game.”
Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in The Guardian on 11 February 2013: ‘Climate change isn’t a challenge of the future – it’s here’
One area where a shortedsightedness of industry lobbyists have revealed itself painfully clearly, is in the ‘carbon tax’ discussions within the European Union.
“Emitting CO2 into the atmosphere is dirt cheap in Europe these days. At just 8 euros per ton, the low price is undermining the European Union’s effort to establish an effective cap-and-trade system. Implementing necessary fixes to the system, however, won’t be easy in the face of industry opposition,” explained Joel Stonington in his article ‘Cutting Carbon: Is Europe’s Emissions Trading System Broken?’
‘Carbon tax’ — what good should that do?
Putting a price on carbon pollution is a matter of extreme urgency. Until polluters are forced to pay a fair price on carbon emissions, it will be difficult if not impossible for a clean energy economy to take hold.
‘Carbon trading’, ‘carbon markets’ and ‘cap-and-trade systems’ is about the same principle: it is about putting a price on carbon pollution — a tax which can then be paid out to benefit those who are in the business of cutting emissions.
The principles of carbon markets were established in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, but to date there have been few, if any, measurable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that can be attributed to these measures, wrote The Guardian on 12 April 2013:
“The two most important carbon markets so far — the EU Emissions Trading System and the UN’s carbon offsetting scheme, Clean Development Mechanism — are failures, yet, new carbon markets based on these schemes are being planned in both developed and developing nations,” wrote Steffen Böhm in The Guardian.
Place a price on carbon
“Because emissions are not priced, the world is wastefully using up a scarce resource, the earth’s ability to safely absorb greenhouse gas emissions. Our selfish inaction pushes increased costs onto future generations, and dangerously increases the probability of extreme events with major impacts on their welfare.”
“Pricing carbon in the aviation sector will incentivize appropriate investments and changes in operations that would reduce future greenhouse gas emissions. If climate change is to be slowed appreciably at tolerable cost, it is wise to use the market to provide incentives for individuals and firms to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.”
32 leading economists, including eight Nobel Prize winners, in an open letter to the American president Barack Obama on 14 March 2013
Carbon Prices around the world in 2012-2015
Economists: Rising cost of carbon emissions
Economists estimate the optimal carbon tax in 2015 to be US$ 106 per ton of carbon dioxide, and increasing every year. “Climate change is going to cost more than previously thought. And we should expect to see these upward adjustments continue as researchers account for more of the ways in which climate change damages manifest,” wrote Meredith Fowlie, University of California, on 20 May 2013. Australian carbon tax currently is AUS$ 23 per ton, while EU’s only is 4 euro.
» Read more: 400 ppm and the rising cost of climate change
“Carbon tax is a complete and total solution to climate change.”
“The argument is all about prices. Climate change will obviously bring costs in the future: that’s bad. Burning fossil fuels right now obviously has benefits right now: that’s good. But the essence of our problem is that we’re getting the benefits now by storing up the problems which will cost everyone in the future. That’s the very crux of the matter. (…)
Therefore what we want to do is have the emissions of CO2 burning where those benefits are greater than the future costs. And we don’t want to burn fossil fuels where the costs in the future will be greater than the benefits now. How can we do this? Simply by adding a carbon tax to fossil fuels.”
Forbes – 26 May 2013:
The Eighth Thrilling Fact About A Carbon Tax
Article by Tim Worstall
“A year in, it is evident that this is working,” wrote Greg Combet about the newly introduced Carbon Price in Australia – on 6 June 2013: Why a Clean Energy Future is Worth Fighting For
“If you do it right, carbon tax can be nearly painless for the economy as a whole.”
John Reilly, economist
“Besides reducing carbon emissions, a carbon tax brings in a bunch of money — it’s a tax after all. So, Reilly says, you can reduce, say, income tax to balance out the new taxes people are paying for carbon emissions. People pay more for gas, but they get to keep more of their income. I called around and talked to a bunch of economists about this, and they said the basic idea was sound: If you give the carbon-tax money back by cutting income taxes, you can probably offset a lot of the pain.”
NPR – 28 June 2013:
Economists Have A One-Page Solution To Climate Change (4 minutes radio clip)
By David Kestenbaum
Critique of the carbon trade systems
Others say, and Naomi Klein is one of them, that carbon trading, carbon offsets, and natural gas as a ‘bridge fuel’ lead the climate movement down various dead ends. She believes that what these policies all hold in common is that “they create the illusion of progress while allowing the fossil fuel companies to keep mining, drilling and fracking with abandon.”
Burying carbon at the same rate that we dig it up
“The only thing that actually matters for climate policy is whether, before we release too much, we get to the point of burying carbon at the same rate that we dig it up. Nothing else matters – not for climate, anyway. Not efficiency targets, nor even population growth, provided we meet this goal. Unfortunately, turbines, fancy taxes and carbon trading schemes aren’t going to help us do so.
How much is too much? Well, if the Transient Climate Response is 1C-2C, we’ll need to limit future emissions to around a trillion tonnes of carbon to avoid more than 2C of warming.
It could be a lot less or it could be a bit more, but since this is the middle of the range that everyone agrees on, let’s get on with it and revisit the total when temperatures reach 1.5C. That’s when we’ll have more of an idea of where we’re going.
So with a trillion tonnes to go, we need to increase the fraction we bury at an average rate of one per cent for every 10 billion tonnes of global emissions.
That’s not a policy – that’s a fact. For every 10 billion tonnes we emit without increasing this sequestered fraction by one per cent, we will just have to bury more later in order to catch up.
If this is what needs to be done, why not just make it a condition of licensing to extract or import fossil fuels? In forestry, if you fell trees, the law obliges you to replant.
We must use the same principle: a law to compel a slowly rising percentage of carbon dioxide emissions to be sequestered and stored.”
Professor Myles Allen
Continue reading here:
DailyMail – 26 May 2013:
Why I think we’re wasting billions on global warming, by top British climate scientist
By Professor Myles Allen
California’s cap-and-trade programme
In this article, Kassy Holmes, a member of the Rainforest Alliance’s climate programme, summarises recent developments surrounding California’s policies and discusses how carbon project auditing services, such as those conducted by the Rainforest Alliance, can confirm a project’s credibility and play an increasingly valuable role within emerging carbon offset programmes.
The Rainforest Alliance offers validation and verification services against six leading carbon standards. One such standard, the Climate Action Reserve, has recently garnered substantial attention for its potential to become integrated into the United State’s first state level cap-and-trade programme in California.
Rainforest Alliance – 19 March 2013:
In California, credible carbon projects help to tackle climate change
The Guardian – 12 April 2013:
Why are carbon markets failing?
For years we have put our faith in the market to incentivise cleaner technology, and for years the carbon market has been riddled with corruption. It’s time to try something else. By Steffen Böhm
Treehugger – 27 January 2011:
Understanding Cap & Trade: The Infographic
By Brian Merchant
“The thing they’ve got to do is try to put a tax on carbon.”
Tesla Automotive CEO and co-founder Elon Musk, 23 May 2013
Is it true that secret funding helped build a vast network of climate denial thinktanks?
Between 2002 and 2010, anonymous billionaires donated 120 million US dollars (670 millioner kroner) to more than 100 anti-climate groups working to discredit climate change science, wrote US environment correspondent Suzanne Goldenberg in The Guardian on Thursday 14 February 2013.
Desmogblog.com – 6 December 2012:
International Forum on Globalization: Kochtopus “Carbon Billionaires” Create “Climate Deadlock”
A new report released by the International Forum on Globalization, “Faces Behind a Global Crisis: US Carbon Billionaires and the UN Climate Deadlock”, explains the role these oil barons play in paralyzing global efforts to combat climate change on the international level. By Carol Linnitt
Desmogblog.com – 20 March 2013:
Research Reveals Almost All Climate Science Denial Books Linked To Conservative Think Tanks
New research into the origins and authors of more than 100 of climate science denial books finds almost all of them – about four out of five – are largely the products of conservative-leaning think tanks. By Graham Readfearn
The Guardian – 15 February 2013:
Media campaign against windfarms funded by anonymous conservatives
Secretive funding network channelled millions of dollars to stop state governments moving towards renewable energy
Here’s a video you might want to check. It is produced by Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project – about the truth and denial around climate change.
“Big Oil has benefited from taxpayer support for 100 years – and not just with tax subsidies, but mandates and loan guarantees and other policies,” said Schwarck in a statement. “So when the debate heats up over the Renewable Fuel Standard and other renewable fuels policy, the debate should be a full, fair and factual discussion that takes an honest, hard look at how federal policy has been tilted in favor of Big Oil for a century.”
Rick Schwarck, Iowa Renewable Fuels Association
GrassRootsEarth – 21 March 2013:
The Face of the Enemy
Article about the two billionaires the Koch Brothers and “the corporate misdeeds of these environmental villains”. Greenpeace: “Fueled by Koch money, the Climate Denial Machine has executed an unceasing, anti-scientific and anti-regulatory public relations campaign that mirrors the tactics used by tobacco companies to deny the health consequences of smoking.” By Tom Mays
The hypocrisy is staggering
“The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as of December 2012, had at least 958.6 million US dollars — nearly a billion dollars — invested in just two oil giants: ExxonMobil and BP.
The hypocrisy is staggering: a top priority of the Gates Foundation has been supporting malaria research, a disease intimately linked to climate. Mosquitoes and malaria parasites both thrive in warmer weather, and they are getting more and more of it. Does it really make sense to fight malaria while fuelling one of the reasons it may be spreading more ferociously in some areas?
Clearly not. And it makes even less sense to raise money in the name of fighting climate change, only to invest that money in, say, ExxonMobil stocks. Yet that is precisely what some groups appear to be doing.”
The Nation / The Guardian – 3 May 2013:
The giants of the green world that profit from the planet’s destruction
By Naomi Klein
Expose the ‘Greedy Lying Bastards’
The film ‘Greedy Lying Bastards’ investigates the reason behind stalled efforts to tackle climate change despite consensus in the scientific community that it is not only a reality but also a growing problem placing us on the brink of disaster. It details the people and organisations casting doubt on climate science and claims that greenhouse gases are not affected by human behavior. From the Koch Brothers to ExxonMobil, to prominent Senators and Justices, this provocative exposé unravels the layers of deceit threatening U.S. democracy.
“The bastards that have played a role in the attack on the science of climate change.” » exposethebastards.com
Huffington Post – 23 March 2013:
‘Greedy Lying Bastards’ Takes On Climate Deniers, Big Oil
Should Climate Deniers Be Forced To Watch This Documentary? By Jon Bowermaster
Confused? What is the truth and what is propaganda? Who to trust?
Check this video with excerpts of a speech by Nobel Laurate Stephen Schneider who died in 2010. The video is from January 2012, so… a little old, but even so containing convincing insight into who is right and who is wrong in this debate about global warming and its consequences:
Stephen Henry Schneider (1945-2010) was Professor of Environmental Biology and Global Change at Stanford University. He was the founder and editor of the journal Climatic Change and authored or co-authored over 450 scientific papers and other publications.
72 percent of leading cable ‘news’ channel is un-balanced
97 percent of climate scientists agree that man-made climate change is real. Yet, in the United States, according to a report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, the reporting of America’s most watched cable news source, Fox News, on climate change is overwhelmingly misleading – 72 percent of their coverage in 2013 included misinformation. The reporters on Fox News are questioning the reality of global warming that credible, peer-reviewed studies have upheld over, and over, and over again.
Is it true that even if we do take action now, climate trends over the next 100 years are unlikely to change?
“The greenhouse gas emission cuts that we undertake now will not have a direct positive impact on the climate for several decades to come. They can have other positive impacts. They can reduce conventional air pollutants. They can lead to greater energy security. They can save a lot of money. But they won’t have much effect on the climate.”
Environmental law expert Michael Gerrard in an interview with insideclimatenews.org
“A Canadian team led by Nathan P. Gillett of the University of Victoria who describe modeling results of a scenario that assumes carbon dioxide emissions stop completely in 2100. According to their simulation, ‘ongoing regional changes in temperature and precipitation are significant’ during the following 1,000 years even as global average temperatures remain fairly constant.”
Source: Discovery: CO2 and the Hangover that Won’t Quit
Assuming no CO2 further was added to the atmosphere right now, we would still have 40 years of heating ahead of us before the climate reaches equilibrium.
A paper led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the US explained in 2009 that climate change is “largely irreversible for 1,000 years.”
As RealClimate has explained, we would need “an immediate cut of around 60 to 70 percent globally and continued further cuts over time” merely to stabilise atmospheric concentrations of CO2 — and that would still leave us with a radiative imbalance that would lead to “an additional 0.3 to 0.8ºC warming over the 21st century.”
And that assumes no major carbon cycle feedbacks kick in, which seems highly unlikely.
In other words, “we’d have to drop total global emissions to zero now and for the rest of the century just to lower concentrations enough to stop temperatures from rising. Again, even in this implausible scenario, we still aren’t talking about reversing climate change, just stopping it — or, more technically, stopping the temperature rise. The great ice sheets might well continue to disintegrate, albeit slowly. This doesn’t mean climate change is unstoppable — only that we are stuck with whatever climate change we cause before we get desperate and go all World War II on emissions,” wrote Joe Romm in Climate Progress blog:
» Climate Progress – 17 March 2013:
The Dangerous Myth That Climate Change Is Reversible
By Joe Romm
Temperature changes to the year 3000 with different CO2 concentration peaks. Source:
‘Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions’, 12 November 2008
» Read the Science – 26 March 2013:
Crash Diets and Carbon Detoxes: Irreversible Climate Change
Much of the changes humans are causing in our atmosphere today will be largely irreversible for the rest of the millennium.
“The time to act was at least 25 years ago—back when George H.W. Bush promised to take action (he deep sixed that promise almost immediately after his inauguration). Given the lag in the climate system, the extreme floods, droughts, storms, storm surges, and tornado swarms are partly a response to greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere of past years that we have since exceeded. The accelerating release of the greenhouse methane — the crystal meth of global warming — from the melting permafrost in the warming Arctic will continue regardless of whatever actions the developed nations agree to take in the coming years.”
» The Daily Beast – 30 March 2013:
Climate Change is Here, Ready or Not. So What Now?
Welcome to a warmer, wilder world! We need to stop debating and start accepting that climate change is happening. Eugene Linden on how adaptation and market forces (hint: insurance companies) might temper the coming catastrophe. By Eugene Linden
» Ars Technica – 4 April 2013:
Climate change may be irreversible, but we control the future trajectory
A Perspective in Science says we have more control over our future than we think. By Allie Wilkinson
If you total up the entire air pollution in our country and compare it to the world, actually it’s pretty low. So why should we bother?
You’ll be hearing that argument come up again and again.
The only reason we have a global warming emergency today is that too many people over a long period of time have had a similar mindset and a logic which goes: “Someone else will have to take care of this. I’m just going to look after myself.” (Or: “myself and my family, or, “myself and my company’s shareholders”)
Mindsets and morals are not set in stone. When we become aware of the consequences of our actions we sometimes realise we need to change our thinking.
We are more than seven billion individuals on the planet. If everyone one of us were behaving like mass killers, we wouldn’t be that many. Well, as it turns out, polluting the air is increasingly becoming a mass killer.
That is why more and more people around the world are changing their behaviour and their mindset in these years
We are social animals – we do what others do. If everyone is throwing litter on the beach, then we do it too. But if no one is, then we refrain from doing it too.
And that is why it matters what we say, in particular when we talk with others in larger groups. Changing the behaviour of a single municipality or a single country would be insignificant UNLESS if it becomes that kind of kickstarter for a mind-changing process where others get inspired from it and consequently also begin to do the same.
Don’t say it isn’t possible. Humanity has done this many times through history already. And now we need to do it again.
What would a four degree world look like?
In November 2012, the World Bank warned that without action, nations are on track for a 4°C world. The World Bank published a report which concluded that a four degree world would be one of “unprecedented heatwaves, severe drought and major floods in many regions.”
Scientists have warned that between 40 to 70 percent of all species on the planet are likely to go extinct by a 4 degrees global warming.
In this article from 22 November 2012, The Carbon Brief takes a look at how climate models predict a four degree world, and what it might look like: What is a 4°C world?
» Source: Kirby, A. (2008) Climate in Peril, UNEP/GRID-Arendal and SMI Books, pp. 32-38.
InsideClimate News – 14 February 2013:
The Most Influential Climate Science Paper Today Remains Unknown to Most People
Just six pages long, it is stoking a new moral urgency for climate action and forcing the financial world to reconsider the value of fossil fuel reserves.
Where do the greenhouse gases come from?
» Click to see interactive graphic on www.climatecentral.org
Sources of human-caused CO2 emissions
The World Resources Institute has posted a really well-done interactive visualisation on the history and the sources of human-caused CO2 emissions. Check it out:
This chart is an older one, from July 2009. Source: World Resources Institute
Wind, solar, geothermal and other categories of new renewables, in total amounts to 1.6 percent of world energy supply in 2011, according to BP. Hydroelectric, shown in purple, has been around a long time–since 1880 in the United States. It amounts to 6.4 percent of world energy supply. Its quantity is not growing very much, because most of the good locations have already been dammed. In total, the three categories amount to 8.5 percent of world energy supply.
» Oilprice.com – 21 March 2013:
The Darker Side of Renewable Energy
By Gail Tverberg
Half an hour’s animated video film about why people talk about increasing local trade, self-reliance and resiliance. Produced in 2012, it takes you on a quick journey through the subjects of oil formation, peak oil, energy, economic growth, and resource depletion.
How climate change is destroying the Earth
BBC – Earth: The Climate Wars, Episode 1, 2 and 3
Dr Iain Stewart traces the history of climate change (2009)
300 years of fossil fuels in 300 seconds
» Source: visual.ly/global-carbon-footprint, March 2012
Cara Santa Maria (Senior Science Correspondent, Huffingtonpost.com) leads a panel on ‘The Point’ to discuss issues of climate change and global warming and more with Andrea Robinson (founder, director – Arc Sustainability), Bill Patzert (Climatologist – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory), and Tammy Bang Luu (Associate Director at Labor/Community Strategy Center).
Bill McKibben (Author, & Founder of 350.org), Christopher Field (Director – Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology), and Naomi Oreskes (Professor – History and Science Studies at UCSD) sent in their points in video-clips which are shown to the panel.
Duration: 54 minutes
Past, present and future of carbon emissions
Here is animated infographic on the past, present and future of carbon emissions. The interactive graphic draws on data from CAIT 2.0 and research from the IPCC—reveals how emissions have changed over time, which regions contributed the most to filling up our carbon budget, and how fast the world would exhaust this budget under different future scenarios. For more background, read the Climate Insights blog series explaining the world’s top 10 emitters in 6 graphs.
Where is global warming going?
The planet is warming a lot faster than we can feel. Surface air temperatures only reveal a small part of the real picture, because the oceans hold more than 90 percent of all global warming.
Source: National Geographic, December 2009
The Carbon Bathtub
It’s simple, really: As long as we pour CO2; into the atmosphere faster than nature drains it out, the planet warms. And that extra carbon takes a long time to drain out of the tub.
A fundamental human flaw, says John Sterman, impedes action on global warming. Sterman is not talking about greed, selfishness, or some other vice. He’s talking about a cognitive limitation, “an important and pervasive problem in human reasoning” that he has documented by testing graduate students at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Sterman teaches system dynamics, and he says his students, though very bright and schooled in calculus, lack an intuitive grasp of a simple, crucial system: a bathtub.
In particular, a tub with the tap running and the drain open. The water level can stand for many quantities in the modern world. The level of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere is one. A person’s waistline or credit card debt—both of which have also become spreading problems of late—are two more. In all three cases, the level in the tub falls only when the drain runs faster than the tap—when you burn more calories than you eat, for instance, or pay off old charges faster than you incur new ones.
National Geographic – December 2009:
The Carbon Bathtub
Reuters / Sydney Morning Herald – 8 April 2013:
Oceans may explain slowing climate change: study
Warmth is spreading to ever deeper ocean levels. Hidden heat in the oceans may return to the atmosphere in the next decade
What does extreme weather have to do with global warming?
The northern hemisphere has experienced a spate of extreme weather in recent times. In 2012 there were destructive heat waves in the US and southern Europe, accompanied by floods in China. This followed a heat wave in the US in 2011 and one in Russia in 2010, coinciding with the unprecedented Pakistan flood — and the list doesn’t stop there.
What does climate change have to to with it? Climate change caused by greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil-fuel burning does not bring a uniform global warming. In the Arctic, the warming is amplified by the loss of snow and ice. This in turn reduces the temperature difference between the Arctic and, for example, Europe. Yet temperature differences are a main driver of air flow, thereby influencing the planetary waves. Additionally, continents generally warm and cool more readily than the oceans.
The northward wind speed (negative values, blue on the map, indicate southward flow) in the mid-latitudes of the northern hemisphere. During the extreme event (a record-breaking heat wave in the US), the normally weak and irregular waves were replaced by a strong and regular wave pattern. Credit: Vladimir Petoukhov.
The Conversation – 5 March 2013:
Weather Extremes: Atmospheric Waves And Climate Change
By Vladimir Petoukhov and Stefan Rahmstorf
• Climate Central’s ‘Climopedia’: A growing list of things you can say about climate and energy. Navigate by category or place.
Is it possible to exist without being dependent on fossil fuel already today?
Well, ask Terry. Terry lives ‘Off The Grid’ in downtown Orlando. To set an example for others that it is possible to live Off The Grid and reduce ones carbon footprint.
Or, ask Apple — the leading computer company which already has achieved 100 percent renewable energy at all of their data centres. » apple.com/environment/renewable-energy
Continue reading about this topic here: 100% renewables – yes, but
What would a realistic energy solution look like?
This is what the future looks like, according to 350.org who wrote: “This is a projection showing how New York State could move to using zero fossil fuels to power the state, very quickly. All it takes is political will. 100% renewable energy is 100% possible.”
12 March 2013, New York Times: Can wind, water and sunlight power New York by 2050?
How to power 100 percent of the planet with renewable energy by 2030
In 2009, Mark Z. Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, and Mark A. Delucchi a research scientist at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California wrote an article in Scientific American where they outlined a plan to power 100 percent of the planet with renewable energy by 2030. They calculated it would require 3.8 million large wind turbines, 90,000 solar plants, and numerous geothermal, tidal and rooftop photovoltaic installations worldwide.
The cost of generating and transmitting power would be less than the projected cost per kilowatt-hour for fossil-fuel and nuclear power, but shortages of a few specialty materials, along with lack of political will, loomed as the greatest obstacles, they wrote.
A Plan to Power 100 Percent of the Planet with Renewables
Wind, water and solar technologies can provide 100 percent of the world’s energy, eliminating all fossil fuels. Here’s how. By Mark Z. Jacobson and Mark A. Delucchi
Who is doing something?
Who is taking global leadership today? What actions are countries taking on climate change?
The Climate Institute in Australia has been doing research on these questions.
Check this Global Climate Action Map of the Climate Institute.
More about this topic here: 100% renewables and the “yes but”
…and here: Benchmarking