UN chief: We are careening towards the edge of the abyss


“…and this is why I am calling on civil society and young people in particular to campaign for climate action.”
~ Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, 10 September 2018

“What is still missing is the sense of urgency. Let there be no doubt about the urgency of the crisis. Only a significantly higher level of ambition will do…
Leaders must lead.”

Landmark climate change speech by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

“We are careening towards the edge of the abyss. It is not too late to shift course, but every day that passes, it means the world heats up a little more, and the cost of our inaction mounts. Every day we fail to act is a day that we step a little closer towards a fate that none of us wants – a fate that will resonate through generations in the damage done to humankind and life on Earth. Our fate is in our own hands. The world is counting on all of us to rise to the challenge before it’s too late.” (…)

“Climate change is the defining issue of our time – and we are at a defining moment. If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us.”
António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, on 10 September 2018

Speaking at UN Headquarters in New York on 10 September 2018, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on governments, businesses, scientists and individuals to step up the action. This time he was not addressing politicians and world leaders – he was calling on the people of the world, the grassroot movements and businesses, all of whom are able to influence our leaders to step up the action.

“The commitments made so far by Parties to the Paris Agreement represent just one-third of what is needed. The mountain in front of us is very high. But it is not insurmountable. We know how to scale it. Put simply, we need to put the brake on deadly greenhouse gas emissions and drive climate action.”

“Scientists have been telling us for decades. Over and over again. Far too many leaders have refused to listen. And far too few have acted with the vision the science demands.”

We live in a weird world and time where some puppy or a baby doing something silly in a video posted on YouTube instantly will get millions of views over a few days, but when the UN General Secretary, kind of the administrative Head of Planet Earth, gives a ‘landmark climate change speech’, which really is significant and important in both its language and its message, then the video recording of his speech only get some 4,500 views over the first two weeks…

What is wrong with us?!

Anyway, so much the more, it’s worth watching and telling your friends and family about it too.

Climate Summit in 2019
Guterres wants to bring climate action to the top of the international agenda and outlined his vision for a new climate summit in 2019, which he will be convening to rally the international community to step up action in key areas inclusive sustainable energy production, economic growth, green investment and better stewardship of natural resources.

“Enormous benefits await humankind if we can rise to the climate challenge,” he said and added that the argument that tackling climate change is expensive and could harm economic growth “is hogwash.” In fact, he said “the opposite is true.”

An existential crossroad
The call for greater ambition on climate action comes amid record temperature rises and extreme weather events across the globe. The last few months alone saw devastating floods in southern India, wildfires in the United States and extreme heatwaves in Japan.

“We stand at an existential crossroad. If we are to take the right path – the only sensible path – we will have to muster the full force of human ingenuity” and he stressed that “technology is on our side in the battle to address climate change.”

When world leaders signed the historic Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015, they pledged to stop temperatures rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and as close to 1.5°C degrees, as possible. But scientists – including a major UN study – indicate that the target is already well off-track.

» Motherboard – 12 September 2018:
UN Secretary-General Says We Have A Year and a Half to Avoid ‘Runaway’ Climate Change
“In a passionate speech delivered at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the UN chief said we are “careening towards the abyss” and announced a 2019 climate summit.”

“Climate scientists predict deadly tropical cyclones will become rainier; that they may move more slowly and venture further into the northern hemisphere; and the hurricane season may become longer. The developed world’s emissions will be responsible for these changes. But it’s the developing world that may suffer the most from it.”
~ Emily Atkin, staff writer at The New Republic.

Puerto Rico: 3,000 people died
In Puerto Rico, where nearly half of residents live below the poverty line, already lacked decent sewage, electricity, and road infrastructure when Hurricane Maria hit last year. But it also failed to receive adequate aid, due to isolation and political indifference. Nearly 3,000 people died.

» The Independent – 15 June 2018:
Only ‘rapid and far-reaching’ changes will stop global warming exceeding 1.5C target by 2040, leaked UN report reveals
“Draft paper presents ‘moment of truth’ to world leaders, say campaigners”

“Ending climate change starts at City Hall”

“Climate change happens at home. It happens where we live and not just some faraway place halfway around the globe. Over half of the world’s population lives in an urban region. And so it follows that ending climate change starts at City Hall. Cities, towns and local leaders are best positioned to #ActOnClimate.”
~ Rolly Montpellier, Below2C

» Below2C – 2 February 2018:
Ending Climate Change Begins In The Cities

“Gather the courage and dare to think differently”

“If we want to build a new economy and the next system, we need to gather the courage and dare to think differently to solve our new challenges.”
~ Paula Tejón Carbajal, Senior Campaign Strategist with Greenpeace International

“Every action creates ripples, and ripples can turn into waves”

“Real transformations happen when people experience that they are connected to others, and that their ideas and actions matter. Every action creates ripples, and ripples can turn into waves. History shows us that collective movements are always energized by people who pose questions, share stories, and inspire others.”
~ Julia Bentz, postdoc researcher and integrated member of the Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Modelling (CCIAM) research group at the Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon in Portugal

Climate emergency talks and thoughts in social media

Excerpt of a comment thread on Climate Emergency Mobilisation’s Facebook page

“Something’s really bugging me about this and I need a rant! Many of us are signing up to this because we have seen the reports and seen the fat tail of the impact scenario distributions and we can see that nearly all climate indicators are following worst case IPCC scenarios. We have seen the video of the courage, intelligence and dignity of 15 year old Greta Thunberg and her classmates striking from school outside the Swedish Parliament demanding action and diplomatically expressing her didain for our generation’s grotesque failure.

But it doesn’t feel like anyone REALLY believes that this is an EMERGENCY.

I’m not criticising anyone else, because I too am mostly just going about my daily life, but I am criticising all of us. We are still not MAKING this the dominant topic of conversation with friends, family in the pubs and clubs. We are still not MAKING this the story that completely dominates all media.

We are campaigning to get folk to sign declarations and make promises but IS THAT ALL WE’VE GOT to rise to this challenge – whingeing at other folk to do something.

We are not protesting en-masse, we are not resigning and divesting en-masse from fossil fuel companies or banks and insurers that enable them. We are not occupying Canberra en-masse to demand immediate action or an election to throw out the governments that have colluded with the fossil fuels industries and continue to deceive us into this dangerous territory. We are tolerating the Coal ition’s antics and ALP’s collusion on Adani and the corrupting fossil money that finances them (and the media).

We need to put all parties on notice that we demand a complete reset and will only vote for governments that make this the only election issue of significance, stop Adani and all other new mines and design policies to transition at break-neck pace to renewables and decarbonise Australia. OK, I feel better now, thanks, but we HAVE to DO SO MUCH MORE.”
‎~ Nigel Howard

“We are also just trying to survive life as it is now. There is a lady protesting in brisbane tomorrow at Parliament House I believe, in honour of Greta. I agree re needing to do more and I like the idea of permanent protests / tent cities at our parliaments. But….we also need meals cooked and bills paid…so yes, let’s do this, but we have to ignite others so we don’t burn out.”
~ Heidi Edmonds

“Agree, but they had to do those things through WW2 also and that’s the point I’m making I guess – none of us including me are yet treating this as a real EMERGENCY. Its something we have to fit in.”
‎~ Nigel Howard

“How do we make this happen? What did people do in the Vietnam war protests? Or in India when Gandhi led? Where else could we get protest inspiration? I like Greta’s idea – Friday for future. One day a week devoted? Build on that?
Some excellent food for thought imho Nigel. Thanks”
~ Heidi Edmonds

“Nigel, couldn’t agree with you more. The good news, as I experience it, is that more and more people feel exactly as you describe it there. It’s almost becoming ‘mainstream’ to feel that way. Even Paul McCartney is now with us… (wrote a long post about his climate-change-song on my FB page).
What I’m saying is that the stuff you talk about is beginning to happen, little by little. Not as a revolution overnight, but as something that gradually creeps up on us and keeps growing and growing.
What that does is, it creates courage. Courage to call the cowards out. Courage to do more ‘silly stuff’ – such as strikes and permanent protests.
Help make it happen – and then it WILL happen.
#EnergyRevolution #CommunityRebellion”
Mik Aidt

“Indeed Nigel we all appear to have been preaching in the desert. The power of reasoning has failed; the proof of what to expect as a result of bad policies, negligence in many cases to ignorance to realities we are facing, and will have to face. The people are left powerless, isolated and unheard. We need only one further action: a revolution.”
~ Venkatasamy Ramakrishna

“Nigel, you express my thoughts with the same emotions I feel every day as I try to mobilise people, and get the usual kickbacks:- don’t be an “alarmist” David; stop scaring people David; you’re turning people off David; “war like footing” won’t work David….. And so on. On the other hand, I was enthused last week at the Darebin Climate Emergency Conference in Melbourne. 200 totally committed activists attended to hear the Mayor tell us the Council has committed $20m to back up their declaration of a Climate Emergency. Then on Wednesday evening the Moreland Council passed a resolution also declaring a Climate Emergency. Wow! I sense that we may not be far off a tipping point in society following which politicians will be reluctantly pushed into action. Maintain your HOPE….”
~ David Anthony Hood

“I’ve been on this journey since reading “Limits to Growth” in 1972 aged 19. That book cost me a few grades in my exams, but gave me direction for my entire career and still does. I have been called “alarmist” and worse even by my parents, so I totally get it. My stance has cost me dear having been totally undermined and discreditted in my career for refusing to play the game anymore. Now almost fully transitioned to retiirement I still have a bit of stamina left, but I’m tired of the BS, the pretence and the lying, including from within this movement. If we say emergency then we have to bloody well mean it and act like its an EMERGENCY, not just say the words. Locally, I am trying to forement the same in my local Northern Beaches Council following the leadership in Darebin and elsewhere. I am speaking next week on Climate Emergency. Thanks for what you do also – I have seen you endure similarly.”
~ Nigel Howard

Posts I shared on Facebook recently


“We cannot solve problems with the same kind of thinking that created them.”
~ Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist

» UNFCCC – 3 September 2018:
5 Ways You Can Take Climate Action
“Five climate action challenges for politicians, business and community leaders:

• Healthy energy systems
• Inclusive economic growth
• The sustainable communities
• Land and ocean stewardship
• Transformative climate investments”


» The Seattle Times – 24 September 2018:
Little changes can make a big difference in climate change

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