“Aren’t we already we at the point of no return with making our planet uninhabitable?”
Narrative navigation: Why does it have to be a choice between either Heaven, Hell or Hoax when politicians and climate action campaigners talk about the future? What if plain honesty – and the fact that the climate change reality has elements of both the ‘Heaven’ and the ‘Hell’ narrative – would turn out to be more important than strategic considerations when we want everyone to get more actively engaged in the fight for climate safety?
[CLIMATIC ROOT TREATMENT] is a series of blogposts seeking to uncover and understand the deeper roots of society’s problems with taking appropriate action on the climate emergency, and to explore the advantages we could see once the action sets in.
The collage on top of this page shows the first images that come up when you make a Google image search for the two words “climate change”. Google’s search reply visually reflects climate change’s duality: the good and the bad combined.
Maybe because that is what climate change holds for us: It is an emergency and an emerging tragedy – and at the same time it is a great transformation, a push for a technological revolution and an opportunity for humanity to create new and better ways of doing things.
This blogpost suggests that in order to properly deal with enormous challenge that climate change confronts us with, it can’t be an ‘either-or’. We have to learn how to navigate through and juggle with the different climate change future tales that compete for our attention in the public space – at this point in particular the ‘Heaven’, the ‘Hell’ and the ‘Hoax’ narrative.
We need to be able to contain both sides of the climate change tale, because the truth is that this is where we are at: Good things are happening. Really bad things are also happening.
To cope with that reality requires practice and education. Knowing and understanding where the problems are, how severe and urgent they are, and in particular: that they are man-made. That what stands between us and a solution to the climate change issue is not the forces of nature or something too big to deal with – it is a specific group of human beings. We, the human beings on this planet, are both the problem and the solution.
The American president Trump’s ‘Chinese hoax’ tale conveniently dismisses that we even have a climate problem. Only few Australians buy into that, though. 73 per cent of Australians say they want strong action taken on climate change and energy because it will create opportunities in clean energy, such as jobs and investment, according to a poll which asked 2,500 Australian citizens about their views on renewables and climate change.
The Climate Institute found that over 90 per cent of conservative voters want renewables to become our main source of energy (95 per cent Liberal, 92 per cent National, 93 per cent One Nation), and as much as 96 per cent of Australians want our primary source of energy to come from renewables.
» Financial Review – 10 July 2017:
Technology is blind to political labels
“The majority of One Nation voters in Queensland support an increase in the Renewable Energy Target and oppose giving the Adani coal mine a $1 billion subsidy. These facts confound those commentators who are determined to use cookie cutter notions of left and right to impose their idea of order onto an increasingly amorphous electorate.”
— Climate Council (@climatecouncil) June 15, 2017
Assuming we live in a democracy, this is a strong indication that the current Australian coal and gas happy policies and narratives are about to change.
The fossil fuel industry has worked hard and invested lots of money into convincing us that climate change isn’t any problem at all – it is all ‘a Chinese hoax’ or ‘a United Nations conspiracy’. To keep their business running, they want us to stop worrying, ignore the so-called alarmists, simply go on buying their polluting products without thought for any consequences.
What this poll, along with similar polls from other agencies and institutes, is telling us is that apparently people are not buying the fossil fuel industry’s lies and misinformation.
So, when we rule out the ‘Hoax’ narrative, that leaves us with two to deal with: the ‘Heaven’ and the ‘Hell’ narrative.
Hush-hush! – don’t say the e-word
All the major climate action campaigning organisations and those politicians, who aren’t on the fossil fuel industry’s payroll, are deliberately holding back with telling us the truth about how bad things actually look.
They will be saying that to save the Great Barrier Reef we have to stop the Adani coal mine, for instance. But everyone knows that stopping the Adani coal mine won’t actually save the Reef. It will take a much more radical level of action to save the Reef at this stage, and it is possible we have already passed that tipping point where the Reef can no longer be saved.
They do this because they have learned from studies and research that if we wish to get anyone actively involved in the fight against climate change, we need to engage and inspire people with positive success stories and solutions, not overwhelm them with all the doom and gloom.
Studies have shown that most efficient way to engage a majority of the population to the level where they get to their wallets, bank accounts and most importantly: to the voting booths is by talking about clean energy visions and solutions, the ‘Zero carbon heaven’ which awaits us on the other side of the transition away from fossil fuels.
People “are overwhelmed by negative information on climate change. It causes them to disengage. Don’t dwell on negatives; pivot quickly to solutions…”
~ Quote from ‘Let’s Talk Climate: Messages to Motivate Americans’
Sounds all good in theory, of course. But the reality is that something is clearly not working. Around the planet, we use more and more fossil fuels every year. Investments in clean energy are dropping, not rising. And still today, 1o years after the global community acknowledged we need to reduce our carbon emissions, governments still support the fossil fuels with four times more than clean energy. According to Oil Change International’s research, the G20 countries provided an average of $71.8 billion of public finance for fossil-fuel projects per year between 2013-2015, compared with just $18.7 billion for renewable energy.
» Oil Change International – 5 July 2017:
Talk is Cheap: How G20 Governments are Financing Climate Disaster
» Business Insider – 6 July 2017:
Oil, gas, and coal industries get a shocking amount of funding from the US government, a new report shows
» The full report can be viewed here:
» The Guardian – 5 July 2017:
G20 public finance for fossil fuels ‘is four times more than renewables’
“Soft loans, subsidies and World Bank funding mean nations are ‘talking out of both sides of their mouths’ on climate, says report.”
“A relatively small number or fossil fuel producers and their investors could hold the key to tackling climate change. Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report, The Carbon Majors Report. It pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions.”
~ Carbon Majors Report
» The Guardian – 10 July 2017:
Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says
Every day we are confronted with news stories that can be hard to face. When we open the tv news and see images from places where so and so many hundreds or thousands of people have been killed in flooding, forest fire, draught or a wicked weather event. Or scientists have discovered something scary, that turns out to happen a lot faster than expected – such as more melting of ice on the poles. Or more methane released from the melting tundra.
People are dying in millions every year because of climate change. We are now witnessing the death of the Great Barrier Reef as a result of our inaction and procrastination. It has often been mentioned that this death is like “the canary in the coal mine”: A last warning before things get critically dangerous and many more eco-systems, animals and people will die.
I got this message from a friend the other day. He just became a father a few months ago, something which I know from my own experience can trigger a new attention on and awareness of what is happening to our planet. He wrote:
“I was listening to Professor Kevin Anderson last night on how quickly we are zooming past 2 degrees of warming and are zooming towards 4 degrees of warming by as early as 2050 and even 6 degrees before 2100. It’s horrendous how little our corporations and their proxy governments are willing to do for their grandchildren.”
What most people can see, but don’t like to think about, is that the positive and optimistic climate action visions, strategies and narratives are inadequate. People are starting to worry, regardless of the campaigners’ positive messaging and good intentions.
Enter the global warming Hell narrative:
In the massive stream of climate change headlines that ticked in during the last week, physicist Stephen Hawking’s warning to Trump stood out. He said that exiting the Paris climate deal could render Earth uninhabitable. “In a worst-case scenario, our climate could come to resemble that of Venus,” he said:
» ThinkProgress – 5 July 2017:
Stephen Hawking issues dire warning about the threat Trump poses to a liveable climate
“Famed physicist warns that by exiting the Paris climate deal, the president could render Earth uninhabitable.”
“When will the planet be too hot for humans? Much, much sooner than you imagine.”
— David Roberts (@drvox) July 10, 2017
“It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today.”
~ David Wallace-Wells
» New York Magazine – 9 July 2017:
The Uninhabitable Earth
“Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.”
This article in New York Magazine has caused a lot of attention, debate and controversy world-wide. It was read by more than two million people in its first week – which is sensational in itself. I’ve posted some comments, reactions and contemplations at the bottom of this page.
» The Guardian – 11 July 2017:
Earth’s sixth mass extinction event already under way, scientists warn
“Researchers talk of ‘biological annihilation’ as new study reveals that billions of populations of animals have been lost in recent decades”
» World Economic Forum – 29 June 2017:
5 places relocating people because of climate change
» ThinkProgress – 16 May 2017:
The ‘ancient carbon’ of Alaska’s tundra is being released, speeding up global warming
“This is ancient carbon, thousands of years old.” It’s being released “much earlier than we thought.”
» Rolling Stones – 12 July 2017:
The Larsen C Crack-Up in Antarctica: Why It Matters
“Ice shelf breaking free is a big deal, but not in the way you might think”
» New York Times – 12 July 2017:
An Iceberg the Size of Delaware Just Broke Away From Antarctica
Methane in the East Siberian Arctic Shelf – a potential accelerator of ongoing climate change.
» SBS | AAP – 14 July 2017:
Asia faces climate change disaster: report
“A new report outlines the dramatic changes Asia-Pacific nations would face if climate change is allowed to continue unchecked.”
“Around 30 percent of the world’s population today is exposed to so-called “lethal heat” conditions for at least 20 days a year. If we don’t reduce fossil-fuel emissions, the percentage will skyrocket to 74 percent by the year 2100. Put another way, by the end of the century nearly three-quarters of the Earth’s population will face a high risk of dying from heat exposure for more than three weeks every year.”
» New Republic – 20 July 2017:
Climate Change Is Killing Us Right Now
“Pakistan and South India have been abandoned. And Europe is slowly turning into a desert. Western Antarctica is no longer icy and uninhabitable. Smart cities thrive in newly green and pleasant lands. And Northern Canada, Scandinavia and Siberia produce bountiful harvests to feed the hundreds of millions of climate refugees who now call those regions home.”
» BigThink – 22 May 2017:
What the World Will Look Like 4°C Warmer
“Schroders, the UK’s largest-listed asset manager, has issued a stark warning about climate change, cautioning that global temperatures are on course to rise faster than expected, potentially putting trillions of pounds of investors’ cash at risk.
The fund house, which manages $520 billion for investors across the world, said its analysis of the biggest drivers of climate change, including oil and gas production and political action, suggested global temperatures are poised to rise by 4°C degrees above pre-Industrial Revolution levels. This is twice the level agreed by global leaders in Paris in 2015, when more than 190 countries decided to limit global temperature rises to 2 degrees.”
» Financial Times – 16 July 2017:
Schroders issues climate change warning
UK’s largest listed asset manager fears temperatures will rise faster than expected
“The reality of what is actually happening today is sobering, shocking and confronting. So much so that I find it difficult to talk about. I have many conversations with those committed to action, who accept the facts, who can’t deny the observations, they tell me not to talk about them because it will scare people into inaction. I get it, I don’t want to face the reality of what I see in the observations I can’t deny… so the game goes on and we all pretend.”
~ Shihan-Malcolm Ayles
Or, to nail it like First Dog on the Moon did on 5 June, the so-called ‘World Environment Day’:
And then, on the other hand…
This is what is so important to point out: at the same time as we see the climate emergency unfold, genuinely good news from the climate action frontiers keep tickin’ in as well. Just a few recent examples from the newsstream of recent weeks:
On 15 June 2017, the Swedish Parliament took a decision on the most important climate reform in the country’s history. Sweden committed to cutting its net carbon emissions to zero by 2045, becoming the first country to significantly upgrade its carbon ambitions since the Paris Agreement in 2015.
France is to stop granting licences for oil and gas exploration as part of a transition towards environmentally-friendly energy being driven by Emmanuel Macron’s government. Nicolas Hulot, the “ecological transition” minister, said a law would be passed in the autumn: “There will be no new exploration licences for hydrocarbons,” he said.
» The Independent – 24 June 2017:
France to ban all new oil and gas exploration in renewable energy drive
“‘Ecological transition’ minister says law will be passed later this year”
» The Guardian – 6 July 2017:
France to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040
“Move by Emmanuel Macron’s government comes a day after Volvo said it would only make fully electric or hybrid cars from 2019”
» New York Times – 5 July 2017:
Volvo announced it will make only hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) starting in 2019, making it the first major automaker to completely turn away from gasoline- and diesel-fueled cars
» The Guardian – 5 July 2017:
All Volvo cars to be electric or hybrid from 2019
“Landmark move as first big manufacturer says it will stop making vehicles solely powered by internal combustion engine”
» The Independent – 2 July 2017:
Norway to ban the use of oil for heating buildings by 2020
“’Those using fossil oil for heating must find other options by 2020,’ says country’s Environment Minister”
» RenewEconomy – 10 July 2017:
It’s economics, stupid! Days of “baseload only” power over
“The days of traditional, coal and gas-fired baseload electricity generation are over, a new Australian report, RepuTex’s Market Update for July 2017, has declared. The findings drive another nail into the coffin of coal power in Australia. Even gas cannot compete with renewables now.”
Europe’s largest oil company Shell is investing in a wide range of “New Energy” activities: microgrids, load balancing, storage, smart meters and various applications that make use of big data, such as apps for transport companies.
The company is also getting ready to re-enter the solar market in a big way and is developing smart mobility applications in-house which nobody knows about yet. In addition, Shell has long been the second largest electricity trader in the U.S. and wants to start doing the same in Europe. All of these activities are still in their early stages, but they show that a serious transformation is around the corner for one of the biggest and oldest international oil companies on the planet.
» Energy Post – 5 July 2017:
The surprising New Energy side of Shell
Apple’s iPhone ad
Above all, the discussion about our air pollution is a discussion about economy. The important good news here is that clean energy is now winning – on pure economic terms.
This means that people, cities and companies are choosing clean, renewable energy in greater numbers than ever before. From Sweden to California, from Georgetown in Texas to Madison in Wisconsin to the boardrooms of companies like Apple, IKEA, WalMart, GM, Coca-Cola, Carlsberg… The momentum for 100 per cent clean energy is people-powered and unstoppable.
Major positive disruptions
“We’ve always assumed that clean energy would be more expensive. But that’s not the case. Clean energy is also the cheapest energy we have. Unbeatable.”
~ Ramez Naam
Important ‘coal knowledge’ presented by Ramez Naam – who explains about the solar revolution and why China recently suspended 104 planned coal power plants. 40 of these plants had already started construction, but was cancelled. That’s how seriously coal is out – and in India as well. The disruption is global.
Because renewables prices keep falling. In the US, unsubsidised wind energy is now sold at 4 US cent per kilowatt-hour. And solar is fast becoming the cheapest energy you can buy – in the US currently at around 5 cent per kilowatt-hour, unsubsidised. In Chile, 2.9 cent per kilowatt-hour. In Dubai, the 2.4 cent. Again, unsubsidised. This is the cheapest energy price ever seen on planet Earth with any technology.
Naam also talks about how self driving cars and electrification will transform the world. EV sales are currently growing at 73% per year.
The 100th city to commit to 100% renewable energy. Soon it will be a 1,000.https://t.co/NICXHgGYUz
— Drawdown (@ProjectDrawdown) June 25, 2017
Georgetown in Texas, USA, for instance, is a community of 50,000 people that has chosen to get all of its electricity from wind and solar energy because renewable power is cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives. Greensburg in Kansas rebuilt itself as a thriving 100 per cent wind-powered town after a tornado almost wiped the small town off the map.
Electricity can now be produced in offshore wind turbines for 10 cent per kWh. For instance, a year ago, DONG Energy won the concession to build build the world’s lowest cost offshore wind farm – located 22 kilometres off the west coast of the Netherlands. The 350 MW Borssele 1 and 2 Offshore Wind Farms off the coast of the Netherlands at a 15-year guaranteed price of €72.70/MWh (AUS$108/MWh, 10.8 cent per kWh) – the cheapest in the world.
» RenewEconomy – 7 July 2016:
Dong Energy to build world’s lowest cost offshore wind farm
» RenewEconomy – 6 July 2017:
One-quarter of Australian homes now have solar
“New data has confirmed the effects of a second rooftop solar boom taking place around Australia – driven by falling technology costs and increasingly volatile electricity prices – with nearly one quarter of all Australian households found to have invested in solar panels.”
Renewables cheapest globally by 2020
“Renewables will be the cheapest form of new energy generation by 2020 almost everywhere in the world, according to a report by Morgan Stanley. Favorable economics for renewables will likely allow the U.S. to exceed its commitment to the Paris climate agreement — to cut its carbon emissions by 26 to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 — despite President Trump’s intention to withdraw from the pact. The price of solar panels fell by half globally between 2016 and 2017.”
— Climate Council (@climatecouncil) July 9, 2017
“I was told 10 years ago it wasn’t possible to get across the Atlantic with a plane carrying a battery powered by clean energy before 2050, because of the weight of it and so on. But the way things are moving, it’s quite possible that a battery driven plane could carry a plane full of passengers across the Atlantic by 2030. The airline industry could tick that box [on reducing emissions] before some other industries.”
~ Sir Richard Branson, CEO Virgin Group
“Over the past couple of weeks, a much-needed conversation about moving to 100 percent renewable energy has exploded into the national spotlight. Unfortunately, the focus has largely been on personal disputes and deep-in-the-weeds debates among folks who basically agree instead of a productive conversation about how we can get there.”
» Huffington Post – 18 July 2017:
100 percent renewable energy: 100 percent possible, 100 percent happening
“Our job is not to protect people from the truth or the feelings that accompany it — it’s to protect them from the climate crisis.”
~ Margaret Klein Salamon, The Climate Mobilization, USA – in response to the spate of articles about the David Wallace-Wells article in New York Magazine
Tricky act to balance
I would argue – along the lines of what Margaret Klein Salamon and Ian Dunlop write – that in an age of ‘fake news’ and blossoming fossil misinformation, honesty can never be compromised, regardless of various strategic campaigning considerations.
“There is no amount of individual good intention that can solve this massive, structural problem in enough time to have an impact. What we need is leaders who will take this problem seriously. We need it yesterday. And the right way to get there is to tell people the truth about the future and implore them to vote for and insist on a better one.”
~ Susan Matthews
It can be a tricky act to balance and cope with the complexity of the climate crisis. But if our current path is taking us straight to that hell we don’t like to hear about, then it comes to a point where we have to get real about it. One group of climate campaigners came out recently with the statement that we only have three years left now:
» The Independent – 28 June 2017:
World has three years to prevent dangerous climate change, warn experts
2020: Don’t be late
“Let’s not be late for this turning point, so future generations can live in a climate safe world. Mission 2020 is a global campaign, blending radical collaboration and relentless optimism to put emissions on a downward path by 2020. When it comes to our climate, timing is everything, and we have a game-changing opportunity to make the big changes now.”
“Science says three years, dear friends! Three years before the balance is irreparable and the planet uninhabitable in the latter part of this century. What does your tv, your newsfeed, your role models, your neighbourhood and your personal network say?
Have we anonymously given up and now we just try and enjoy ourselves as long we can?
Is it therefore consumption and cynicism continues to spread?
I say: Step out of the zombie crowd and look your children in the eyes, look nature in the eye, and then vote against, choose against, be against the growth utopia driven by debt and oil – the millions of years of biomass thrown into the air in the last 200 years.”
~ Private comment on Facebook
“We really need to get away from the thought that telling the raw truth and stating the need for an emergency response will result in a negative community response. I agree we need to avoid creating hopelessness, but nothing will happen unless society realises how bloody damn serious the situation really is, and demands an emergency response. Politicians don’t want to frighten the people, but the people really need to frighten them. New narratives are needed!”
~ David Anthony Hood – in a comment on Facebook
Understanding the meaning of risk
Of course, dealing with the realities of climate change can be an emotional rollercoaster. Media and social media are overflowing with the tales of evil darkness, doom and gloom – as well as tales of fairytale lightness – and lots of smokescreens and manipulated fake news stories in-between to make sure that confusion prevails.
But what if it turns out that we – as a species, or as a people – will only truly be able to tackle the frightening risks of runaway global warming when we become capable of juggling and balancing all the many good news stories with all the most terrible ones – without panic and without getting ‘paralysed’?
The UN climate panel, the IPCC, has estimated that there is a 1.6 percent risk that the global average temperature will rise by six degrees Celsius with the amount of greenhouse gases we have in the atmosphere today. Such an increase will – when the ice melts – mean a water rise of 40 metres or more. It will change everything on Earth. A completely unacceptable consequence of humanity’s failure to stop polluting the atmosphere.
One could say that a 1.6 percent risk does not sound of much. But are we willing to we live with that risk? Imagine that we should accept a 1.6 percent chance of a plane crash every time we embarked on an airplane. That would mean that we should accept that 1,500 airplanes could go down every single day.
If we knew 1,500 planes were at risk of crashing every day, many would have second thoughts about flying. But with climate change, apparently, we am ready to take a risk of that magnitude. Now why isn’t this something we should be talking about?
As the Drawdown Project’s research on 100 carefully vetted technological, social, and ecological solutions has shown, we know how to solve the climate change crisis. What is still lacking is confidence about the fact that we can solve the crisis. That will come when enough people share a similar understanding – and show the will to do something about it. Which is what the Climate Emergency Declaration is all about.
This would be the kind of educational task you’d be expect to see our public broadcasters be lifting as the most natural thing. Unfortunately, that is not happening. The federal government placing a coal executive in the ABC board has probably not helped.
It doesn’t have to be that way. We, the people, can change that, when enough people speak up about it. This is that this call to the ABC and SBS is about.
Australian climate scientists experience anxieties
Climate scientists rarely speak publicly about their personal views. But in the wake of some extreme weather events in Australia, the specialists who make predictions about our climate reveal they’re experiencing sometimes deep anxieties. Some are scared to have children, others are planning to move to cooler climates.
Kerry Brewster reported in Lateline:
» ABC Lateline – 27 June 2017:
Climate scientists reveal their fears for the future
» ABC Lateline – 27 June 2017:
Climate scientists reveal their fears for the future
“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”
~ Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, in Zack Lehtinen’s book ‘A World of Wounds’
“Our decision-makers are asleep at the wheel”
On Facebook Neil Davidson commented:
“This is an existential crisis, and each of us must come to grips with that and allow for a range of responses.
I have long grappled with the question “how will my children judge me?” Will they see my tireless unpaid efforts to design a better ship? Will they see the diffuse results of my attempts to assist multiple others and networks of networks, each of which rarely see the other parts – like separate spinning plates? Will they see the ‘failed environmentalist’ who pursued outcomes over income? Will they see the host that tried to bring people together across difference?
To judge these scientists who have bravely gone beyond the numbers with an emotional response for having personalised their messages, and sharing them so publically, is both counter-productive (for making it harder for others to ‘come out’) and completely missing the point. They are the messengers – don’t shoot them – this is a turning point; honour it.
Our decision-makers (so called leaders) are asleep at the wheel, deaf to scientific advice, support continued development in areas prone to current and future disasters, support a perpetuation of an economic model that drives ‘growth’ at greater than 200,000 people per year (despite the Net Overseas Migration report of 2010 stating there is NO, repeat NO, safe immigration level IF we are to be sustainable – based on modelling at that time) and is well-paid by the fossil-fuel lobby to do so.
These scientists belong to Universities that often still have investment and research portfolios in areas that WE KNOW are destroying the ecosystems on which life depends.
In short – GIVE THEM A BREAK…. your future, and mine, depends on them being heard, not silenced.”
~ Neil Davidson
“It’s pretty simple,” says Gillian, who is seven years old. And frankly, it is.
Politicians have the power to do what needs to be done. Like we see it in Sweden and France. But even though our politicians all know very well what the problems are and how we can fix them, they keep pretending this is a very complicated issue and very difficult to fix, and they deliberately use the confusion and doubt that misinformation campaigns sponsored by polluters have spread as an excuse to delay the otherwise sensible and logical transition away from polluting and destroying the planet’s ecosystems and climate.
In its essence, it is not complicated at all. We need more honest people like Gillan in politics – and like the Catholic Pope – who speak up and remind us about what needs to get done. These people exist. One of them is a Republican mayor in Los Angeles:
Why renewables make perfect sense to this conservative mayor
It’s really worth watching this video of Rex Parris, the Republican mayor of the Los Angeles suburb Lancaster, who is recorded here speaking at the launch of the Los Angeles Climate Justice Mobilization 2025.
Mayor Rex Parris is a visionary who has brought amazing sustainable change to a very conservative city and shown that climate action is cost efficient, profitable and just plain makes good sense.
Rex Parris has rapidly deployed renewable energy to fight the climate emergency in Lancaster with a population of 160,000 people.
“At World War II, what occurred was that our way of life and everything about us was threatened. It was a very real threat. It could have all ended.
And so Republicans and Democrats, and Christians and Muslims, everybody came together, because we had this enemy that was going to crush us if we didn’t.
We came together and survived.
The threat that World War II presented to us is one tenth of the threat that we are facing today.
And what is crazy about is: even Republicans know it. We all know it.
It is the insanity that seems to be overwhelming us. It is hard to comprehend.
But then again, it is not at all, because it is so horrible what we are facing, it is hard to keep looking at it for very long at all. (…)
The synergy that develops when you start facing this common enemy and bringing people together is that everything gets better.
We had the highest crime rate in LA County. It is now one of the lowest. We had the highest number of gang murders. In two years we had zero. Because that’s what happens when the community comes together to have a common goal. And what is that goal? We want our children to live! Because that is really what is at stake.”
~ Rex Parris, mayor of Lancaster, Los Angeles, USA
» ThinkProgress – 27 June 2017:
Meet the mayors rejecting Trump’s dirty energy agenda and embracing a fully renewable future
“Climate change may be the challenge of our generation, but it is also the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Closer to Geelong, Darebin City Council is in the process of doing something similar:
Darebin City Council has produced a 76-page draft Climate Emergency Plan. There aren’t many municipalities, if any, around the world which have done that – so this is a very noteworthy step.
Now the councillors would like to know whether the residents of Darebin think they are on the right track, so the draft plan has been put out on the council’s website for public commenting and submissions, and public meetings have been held in Darebin in June 2017.
» See more on www.yoursaydarebin.com.au/climateaction
» Listen to an interview with Darebin’s mayor and information about what other councils have been doing on:
» Climate Emergency Declaration – 30 May 2017:
Darebin City Council launches draft Climate Emergency Plan
» Centre for Climate Safety – 11 April 2017:
Thought leadership: How local councils crunch the climate stalemate
35 councils stepping up to tackle climate change
35 Australian councils have pledged to join the Cities Power Partnership Program which fosters local governments to undertake major role in tackling climate change within their communities, through a series of actionable solutions. Together, the councils who have pledged to the program represent more than three million Australians.
» Northern Star – 12 July 2017:
‘AMAZING’: Lismore a stand out in tackling climate change
» Yass Tribune – 3 July 2017:
Yass Valley Council joins Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership Program
» The Beagle Weekly – 14 June 2017:
Eurobodalla Shire Council plans to slash energy emissions
Village capable of producing its own energy, water and food
ReGen Villages, in partnership with Danish architecture firm Effekt, help addressing a number of the worlds pressing issues: the rising population, climate change and limited resources.
The world’s first off-grid village capable of producing its own energy, water and food – while creating zero carbon and zero waste – is erected in Almere, the Netherlands. A total of 100 pilot homes.
If the project proves to be successful, the ReGen hopes to launch a number of other pilot villages in countries like Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Germany, China, the UAE, and potentially the African continent.
» Home page: www.regenvillages.com
The Global Covenant of Mayors
The Global Covenant of Mayors now has more than 7,450 cities on board with an estimated population of nearly 700 million.
Formerly the Compact of Mayors, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy is the largest coalition of mayors committed to accelerating climate action.
One of its most emblematic leaders was former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a film star who is also an environmentalist.
» Home page: www.globalcovenantofmayors.org
» European Union: EU calls on all cities to join global covenant of mayors
The Roadmap: Be a doer
“Our mission is nothing less than a comprehensive, global green energy transformation. This is a call for a democratisation of the clean energy transformation.”
~ Olafur Grimsson, former president of Iceland
“The Roadmap is created by Doers for Doers around the world to accelerate climate action. We won’t wait for someone to show us the road — we must create it.”
“We believe the time is now. The time to take action. The time to do what has to be done to bring about the changes outlined in the Paris accords. The time to stop talking about What and start figuring out How.
We have come together because of these shared beliefs, a shared commitment to a common cause, and our steadfast resolve to not wait for formal decrees or agreements, but to act in parallel and in cooperation with governments and official agencies; to move with all possible speed towards achieving our mission.
A mission which will require the hard work and dedication of each and every one of us as we do everything in our power as individuals, but also as we galvanize businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators, city planners, communities, people and politicians — all those who share our purpose.
The old model of relying primarily on states, governments and industrial corporations is no longer sufficient. We need a new model where everyone can become a doer, an agent of change. A model that points the way, transcends boundaries and invites all to join the journey.
The technologies and nature based solutions needed to create clean energy economies already exist. We simply have to make the roadmap available to everyone and demonstrate that taking new paths will lead to enhanced and shared prosperity, abundance of opportunities and a safer world.
For us to succeed we must make this a movement that is powered by the people, serving the interests of everyone. We must make this open-source and create a global operating system where the best ideas rise and are implemented at scale.
We recognize the impact of our actions on all people across the planet. And the disproportionate impact of climate change on the world’s most vulnerable populations. Creating environmental equity is of the highest priority when it comes to securing the future for all humanity.
We must therefore bring about the equitable diffusion and dissemination of the technologies that already exist. Make them accessible around the world. Put the solutions in the hands of people everywhere, recognizing the rights of those who struggle daily to make a living. Foster exponential implementation and vastly accelerate success.
We must identify best practices, methodologies and models. Focusing on what is being tried and what is working. Then make it possible for others to adopt the practice and for people everywhere to optimize success in real-time.
We must demonstrate that solutions and practices are sustainable and are a better financial outcome than business as usual.
We must raise the value of moral currency. Hold companies and people accountable for their actions. Allow consumers, employees and investors to make sound, informed decisions with nature in mind and to reward businesses that do.
We must outline economic and industry models that are already succeeding. And it means developing new ones. Show how the paths forward can be profitable, how capital markets can advance our goals, and how humanity and nature can live in balance to the benefit of both.
We must create a global virtual community that is in constant and continuous dialogue. A nexus of bold ideas, brave thinking, deep listening, powerful storytelling, new ways of looking at problems and finding solutions; and celebrating wisdom of traditional cultures. A best practices warehouse where everyone can contribute, and that anyone can use.
We must implement a real-time system of measurement. A way to truly gauge and understand what is working, what is not, and exactly what is being achieved. Tracking progress. Sharing solutions. Correcting mistakes. Honoring success.
We must spearhead a transformation which opens new and promising avenues, encourages new lifestyles, and shows how homeowners, industries, cities and states, banks and businesses, farmers and foresters, workers and managers can all be productive doers.
We must recognize that enlightened policies, programs and projects can accelerate change, bring efficient solutions to problems large and small; empower people and companies at every level; and help countries to find paths to modern economies, livable cities and communities.
We must formally acknowledge that the global commons belongs to all of humanity, that the future of the oceans and conservation, restoration and regeneration of nature are essential to our success, and that local communities and indigenous societies on traditional territories, whether on land or water, can be the most effective stewards.
These things must be done and we hope that the halls of negotiating conventions will be inspired to join the progress and cooperation made on the crowded road of countless doers — people around the world in diverse global coalitions, enabled by innovative technologies and the democratic forces of information.
This is the mission. A roadmap of both beliefs and intentions.
We will continue to listen and to learn by doing, and to take actions that work.”
» Download The Roadmap (text, PDF)
» Home page: www.roadmap.org
» Follow on Twitter:
» Follow on Facebook:
Canada: The Leap Manifesto
A call for a Canada based on caring for the Earth and one another – for a just transition and for “a genuine leap to the next economy”
“Climate scientists have told us that this is the decade to take decisive action to prevent catastrophic global warming. That means small steps will no longer get us where we need to go. So we need to leap.”
“The time for energy democracy has come: we believe not just in changes to our energy sources, but that wherever possible communities should collectively control these new energy systems.”
Naomi Klein explains about the Lee Manifesto:
» Read more on www.leapmanifesto.org
» Read more about Carbon Free Manifestos
New Economy Network Australia
A ‘Building a New Economy for Australia’ conference is being held from 1 to 3 September 2017 in Brisbane.
It’s no secret that there is mass disenchantment with our economic and governance systems. And there is an extraordinary range and number of people and organisations around the world working to harness this towards positive change. Australia is no exception.
Thousands of people and groups are working at the new economy in one form or another in Australia. But unlike a lot of other places around the world, there has been no over-arching means of connecting and developing the movement. There have been pockets of work on the new economy everywhere, but nothing to stitch them together.
Building on the inaugural 2016 conference held in Sydney, the 2017 gathering invites people to come together to share stories of success, address challenges and join the broader movement – working together to build a ‘new’ economic system.
A three days of fun-filled discussions, ‘unconference’ open working spaces, facilitated workshops, site-visits, clinics, training and learning opportunities – as well as academic presentations, debates, games and more
» Flyer on www.neweconomy.org.au (PDF)
Podcast: Building the New Economy
A conversation with national convenor Dr Michelle Maloney
Dr Michelle Maloney is the national convenor and co-founder of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance, and the developing New Economy Network Australia. Both are strongly connected with fast-growing global movements, and a burgeoning mix of initiatives on the ground.
All this has inspired a rapidly growing convergence on the second New Economy conference coming up in Brisbane in September, to formalise the network and its strategies for regenerating the systems and stories we live by. Hear Michelle talk about who’s involved, what it’s aiming to achieve, how you can get involved, and why it matters.
Michelle talks about some of her personal journey, these networks she’s convening, and how they can help us rethink and regenerate our society’s systems, for the interdependent aims of good human living and a flourishing planet:
“At its nub, what [we’re] talking about is shifting the underpinning structures that support industrial society away from destruction, and towards sustaining, nurturing and restoring life.”
Featuring: Dr Michelle Maloney, national convenor and co-founder of the Australian Earth Laws Alliance and the New Economy Network Australia
Anthony James is Executive Director of The Rescope Project
Music: Can’t Stop the Feeling, by Justin Timberlake Let Them Know, by the Public Opinion Afro Orchestra. Production by Ben Moore.
» Rescope Radio: www.rescopeproject.org.au
» New Economy: www. neweconomy.org.au
» Australian Earth Laws Alliance: www.earthlaws.org.au – for more on Dr Michelle Maloney
Carbon clean companies
“The fossil-free economy is already profitable.”
Carbon Clean 200
The Carbon Clean 200 list ranks the largest publicly listed companies by their total clean energy revenues, with a few added environmental, social, and governance screens to help ensure the companies are indeed building the infrastructure and services needed for what many have called the “Great Energy Transition” in a just and equitable way.
Notably, this new report highlights the fact that clean energy investments greatly outperform stagnating fossil fuel stocks.
Siemens AG-Reg, Toyota Motor and Schneider Electric are the Top Three of the list. Two Danish companies are doing well: Vestas is number 7, Dong Energy is no 13.
» Read more:
» Download the report:
» The Climate Group – 11 July 2017:
World first as 100 multinationals target 100% renewable electricity
“The Climate Group’s RE100 initiative has today reached its 100 members milestone”
[CLIMATIC ROOT TREATMENT] is a series of blogposts seeking to uncover and understand the deeper roots of society’s problems with taking appropriate action on the climate emergency, and to explore the advantages we could see once the action sets in.
“The [fossil fuel] industry thinks we are all fools, so all I can say is dig deep, find the facts, knowledge is power.”
~ Damian Marchant from Frack Free Moriac
Comments and reactions to ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’
“Is it true that virtually everyone grossly understates the dangers posed by climate change? Yes. But is the gravest threat pure runaway climate change? No: it’s too little, too late, plus race and class war, plus experiments with the planet. It’s the danger, essentially, of a vicious right-wing minority imposing the privilege of the affluent few over everyone else. That’s the real and scary (and political) story.
When climate politics meets the aspirations of the global majority through “democratic ecologies,” we can fight off eco-apartheid and decarbonize prosperity.
And it follows from that that the solution isn’t a better grasp of the science. It’s political campaigns that foreground equality and prosperity and hope.”
» Jacobin – 10 July 2017:
New York Mag’s Climate Disaster Porn Gets It Painfully Wrong
“The real climate danger is that a vicious right-wing minority will impose an order that privileges the affluent few over everyone else.”
I do not usually share dystopic articles about man-made climate change. I prefer to share positive stories about cycling, art and urban development and that kind of stuff. But sometimes I guess you have to call a spade for a spade, acknowledge the science, and watch climate research in the eye. Because here is something which is important, yes unpleasant and inconvenient, but first and foremost very very important. So I recommend you read this article.
The article does not get much into solutions for managing the climate disruptions. I find that a bit annoying, because the extent of the problem can make you feel completely numb and overwhelmed.
I think that, of course, we have to take a good look at our cities and how they can be more designed to support climate-friendly behaviour. A large part of the solution also lies in the way we cultivate our landscapes. The most efficient way to store greenhouse gases is to work with regenerative agriculture. Agriculture where, instead of plowing the soil, you work with perennial crops that help to save CO2 in the soil by building the mold layer. It’s really quite simple, but requires a massive green conversion of our entire food production, for it to really have an impact – and this will take time.
Meanwhile, we can contribute by cancelling our grass lawns and instead plant trees, berry bushes and edible perennials in our gardens.”
Most choose to flee
“Time and time and time again, psychology researchers have found that trying to scare people into action usually backfires. Presented with the idea that the planet that gives us life might be dying, parts of our brain shut down. We are unable to think logically.
Our brain’s limbic system is hard-wired to prioritize these kinds of threats, so we shift into fight-or-flight mode. And because the odds look stacked against us, most choose to flee. If anything, strategies like this make the problem worse. They take people willing to read something like ‘The Uninhabitable Earth’ and essentially remove them from the pool of people working on real-world solutions.
Giving up now is like denying the reality that there will be life after fossil fuels. Sure, it might be a struggle compared to today, but will the teenagers of 2060 (your grandkids, maybe) have that same perspective?
The more difficult response to the daunting data that climate science provides is to recognize how scary it all is, talk through it (I went to a counselor), and choose hope. When the view is dark, hope is a radical choice. And in our current political climate, we need all of it we can get.
After freaking out (because, how could you not?), talking about climate change helps make the problem feel more real, more tangible, and helps reduce the personal stress we feel. If done in the right way, it’s also the best chance we have of developing the solutions we need in the time we have.”
~ Eric Holthaus
» Grist – 10 July 2017:
Stop scaring people about climate change. It doesn’t work
“We are not doomed. We are choosing to be doomed”
“If there is one critique of the NY Magazine piece that sticks, it is that Wallace-Wells fails to explain clearly that we are not doomed. We are simply choosing to be doomed. (…) What’s clear from the article and the wave of reactions it triggered is that we need to be talking a lot more about climate change in general. Responses range from Mashable’s “Do not accept New York Mag’s climate change doomsday scenario,” to climatologist Michael Mann’s critical Facebook post, to Slate’s ‘New York Magazine’s global-warming horror story isn’t too scary. It’s not scary enough.’ ”
Dr Joe Romm
» ThinkProgress – 11 July 2017:
We aren’t doomed by climate change. Right now we are choosing to be doomed.
“We could prevent New York Magazine’s climate change doomsday scenario, but keep voting not to.”
» CommonDreams – 26 July 2017:
Are We Doomed? Let’s Have a Talk
“We’re not all ready to have the same conversation, but perhaps that’s a good place to start”
"We don’t prefer ‘bad’ news: we need to know about it in order to survive, to overcome looming threats or to… https://t.co/pm5qSEc4PJ
— ClimatePetitionSTORM (@petitionSTORM) August 6, 2017
“Two basic questions that have been raised: whether the article is accurate and whether it is “useful.” On both counts, the piece is on far more solid ground than its critics acknowledge.”
~ David Roberts
» Vox Magazine – 11 July 2017:
Did that New York magazine climate story freak you out? Good.
“It’s okay to talk about how scary climate change is. Really.” Commentary by David Roberts
» More cartoons: www.firstdogonthemoon.com.au
“I think we will escape the cataclysm, but more through technological luck than successful policy management.”
~ John Quiggin, former member of the Climate Change Authority
» John Quiggin – 12 July 2017:
Technology to the Rescue ?
“Humans have been very bad stewards of the living planet, over a period of time when we knew and could have done much better. We have forfeited our right to inherit the Earth, and it will indeed be the meek, the lowly animal species, the bacteria and the fungi and mounds, and the wild trees, that will win out.”
~ Robin Roper
» Medium – July 2017:
Fuck your apocalypse
“Between denial and despair, a better climate change story”
“By all means, let’s talk about how urgent action is, and imagine the worst results of not acting, but let’s be sure to tell stories that lower the barrier to taking action, too, individually and collectively.”
~ Jon Christensen, Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
» The Conversation – 9 August 2017:
Climate gloom and doom? Bring it on. But we need stories about taking action, too
“Naysayers to negative messaging miss an important function of this kind of apocalyptic thinking. It is useful in forcing us to imagine ourselves as the people who allowed a future we don’t want to come about.”
“Maybe the best way to think about the Larsen C is as a prelude…and as a last-minute call to action. “The Larsen C is Mother Nature’s warning flag,” polar explorer Robert Swan said at the Sun Valley Institute’s annual forum last week. “It’s her way of saying, ‘Hey, pay attention to what you’re doing to the planet we all live on.’” ”
~ Robert Ørsted-Jensen, sharing this link
“Gradualist half measures, such as a gradually phased-in carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, that seem ‘politically realistic’ but have no hope of actually restoring a safe climate, are not adequate to channel people’s fear into productive action.
We know what is physically and morally necessary. It’s our job — as members of the climate emergency movement — to make that politically possible. This will not be easy, emotionally or otherwise. It will take heroic levels of dedication from ordinary people.”
~ Margaret Klein Salamon, Phd, co-founder and director of Climate Mobilization
» Common Dreams – 17 July 2017:
The Planet Is Warming. And It’s Okay to Be Afraid
“Why being fearful can be part of a healthy, heroic response to the climate crisis”
‘Too Late. How we lost the battle with climate change’
In the new book ‘Too Late: How We Lost the Battle with Climate Change’, Geoffrey Maslen paints a sobering picture of the state of our planet and discusses how successive governments have failed to initiate change.
“The physical evidence of climate change becomes more dramatic every year: forests retreating, animals moving north and south, glaciers melting, bushfire seasons getting longer, and higher rates of droughts, floods, and storms – with a new type of severe storm, the rain bomb, causing 10 to 20 centimetres of precipitation in a mere hour.
In Too Late, Geoff Maslen discusses the dramatic changes that are occurring to our planet and explains some of their consequences in simple terms: how are land and ocean affected by global warming, what is a methane time bomb, and what happens once the global temperature rise reaches a critical treshold?
Maslen collects and summarises the science of leading world climate scientists, presents a clear and concise picture of where we are heading and ponders how close to disaster we are. ‘Too Late’ is a poignant reminder that we must all take on responsibility and act to curb global warming. This is sobering but essential reading for anyone who cares about our planet’s future and the generations to come.”
» Excerpt from the book on amazon.co.uk
» The book can also be purchased on www.readings.com.au
Abandoning our current trajectories
“I’ve spent decades horrified by the systemic ecological collapse we are experiencing. Yesterday was the first time I could palpably feel so many of my friends experiencing at least some of this horror. It is indescribably sad, and on some level I feel fortunate to have had so much time to anguish over, and thus emotionally prepare, for what is happening all around us.
It is a fatal misconception that we have any time at all to address climate chaos (or any of the other ecological limits we are violating). Fires like the ones currently raging through the forests of the West ARE the feedback loops that put climate change irreversibly on course to get worse and worse. We are not at the brink of the cliff. We have plummeted over it. What we can try to do now is ecologically analogous to grasping a rock outcrop while already falling, like in a movie.
If you haven’t before, and you’re one of my friends from outside of the tiny circles where people are trying desperately to stop the world from ending, perhaps take this moment, when normal life seems to have decisively halted, to consider whether it isn’t time for you to put some effort into halting global collapse.
If you think there’s a big climate movement and it’s kicking ass, if you think renewable energy is on the rise and that should take care of it, if you think the Paris Agreements mean anything, you’re woefully wrong and everything you love is threatened by this misconception.
We desperately need people, money, energy. We are tired. We are hungry. We wake up every morning completely overwhelmed by the scope of the task, the lateness of the hour, and the capacity almost everyone around us has to pay attention to something other than the apocalypse. Please come help us.
If this sounds preachy, I’m not sure what tone other than a religious one is suitable for the end of the world. We are in the final and decisively losing moments of a war for life on earth. We have the choice of abandoning our current trajectories to desperately struggle against the ecological crisis, or abandoning our current trajectories to struggle against fire, floods and each other. There is no third path.”
~ Arnold Schroder
“As a society we’ll need to reach some sort of meaningful consensus on the issue. From the boardroom to Twitter, we’ll need opinion leaders who can navigate the clashing world views that dictate how we view the science. It won’t be easy, but it is necessary.”
~ Riordan Lee
» Techly – 14 August 2017:
A toolkit to save the world: five skills you’ll need to fight climate change
— Climate Guardians (@ClimateGuardia) August 16, 2017
The water will come – with rising seas and sinking cities
“People will notice higher tides that roll in more and more frequently. Water will pool longer in streets and parking lots. Trees will turn brown and die as they suck up salt water.” We will retreat to higher ground, cover our roofs with solar panels, finally stop using plastic and go vegan, but it will be too late. As Jeff Goodell writes, “even in rich neighborhoods, abandoned houses will linger like ghosts, filling with feral cats and other refugees looking for their own higher ground.”
The water will continue to rise. “It will have a metallic sheen and will smell bad,” Goodell writes. “Kids will get strange rashes and fevers. More people will leave [low areas]. Seawalls will crumble. In a few decades, low-lying neighborhoods will be knee-deep. Wooden houses will collapse into a sea of soda bottles, laundry detergent jugs, and plastic toothbrushes. Human bones, floated out of caskets, will be a common sight. Treasure hunters will kayak in, using small robotic submersibles to search for coins and jewelry. Modern office buildings and condo towers will lean as salt water corrodes the concrete foundations and eats away at the structural beams. Fish will school in the classrooms. Oysters will grow on submerged light poles. Religious leaders will blame sinners for the drowning of the city.”
~ Jeff Goodell is author of ‘The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Reshaping of the Civilized World’
» CommonDreams – 11 September 2017:
The Great Flood
“We are entering this final phase of civilization, one in which we are slashing the budgets of the very agencies that are vital to prepare for the devastation ahead.” Article by Chris Hedges
This topic of climate doom is obviously not new. People have been thinking, talking, writing about this topic for years. For instance, here’s what I wrote in a blogpost back in 2013:
» Centre for Climate Safety – 16 February 2013:
Using fear to create rapid change?