Time for citizens to act

“Time for politicians to act”, said the scientists three decades years ago. But politicians didn’t think it was time. As this blogpost documents, through more than half a century, we – humanity, but in particular: our elected leaders and business leaders – have knowingly chosen to ignore the warnings from our scientists about global warming and its effect on the planet’s climate.

Actually, already in 1912, a New Zealand newspaper warned that our ongoing air pollution from burning coal turns our climate into a ticking time bomb. Back then everyone – including the scientists – thought that we still had plenty of time to figure out a solution. And we did – but as history shows, we didn’t make use of it.

New York Times 1956

It is striking how many times over the last 150 years we have actually been told by scientists to get our act together. Further down on this page, I have compiled some examples that I’ve stumbled over – and this list is not in any way complete:

Content on this page

1. Rewinding – going half a century back
1965: Scientists warn the American president
1967: Meteorologists’ climate model
1968: Warning from Stanford’s researchers
1973: Australian senator puts a case for solar energy
1978: Global sea levels to rise five metres, warns scientist
1979: The first World Climate Conference
1981: American oil company Exxon predicts ‘catastrophic’ warming
1981: “Warming warning”
1987: Australian conference about greenhouse gases
1988: “Time for politicians to act”
1988: CSIRO climate conferences and emissions reductions goals
1988: The “White House effect”: Promise to act on climate
1988: NASA’s James E. Hansen testifies to Congress
1988: Shell report: ‘The Greenhouse Effect’
1989: Turning point: Coalition to cast doubt on climate science
1991: Shell educates about the threat of climate change
1992: Appeal for sustainability and scientific ecology
1992: ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity’
1995: Global Climate Coalition: ‘Climate Change Science Primer’

2. Rewinding even further – going two centuries back
1827: Discovery of the greenhouse effect
1856: Laboratory measurements of C02’s enhanced absorption of sunlight
1859-1861: Description of the greenhouse effect
1896: Predictions about global temperature rise
1912: “Burning coal affects climate”
1917: “Coal and oil a finite resource”
1917: “Put the sun’s energy in storage”
1938: “10% more CO2 = 0.25 global temperature rise”
1956: New York Times writes about global warming
1959: Speaker at energy symposium warns the oil industry
1962: Energy resources report: “Dangers of atmospheric contamination”

3. The most recent decade
2008: James Hansen shows true gravity of the situation
2009: Appeal to world leaders’ ethics and morals
2013: Message to world leaders from 520 scientists
2016: Open letter to Australian Prime Minister from 5,154 scientists
2017: World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: “A Second Notice”
2018: 301 Danish scientists: “Politicians are gambling with our future”

Scientists have clearly made an effort, but failed. Media did report on the science, but failed to investigate why politicians would go on procrastinating. What happened?

In the light of today’s political landscape, where climate ‘contrarians’ and representatives from the fossil fuel industry have entered our parliaments – for instance, 180 individuals have moved between positions in the fossil fuel and/or mining industries and senior positions in government, or vice versa, over the past decade in Australia, and in case of the American Congress and White House it looks even more like a hijacking of power – it is striking to be reminded about that initially, the fossil fuel industry was actually fully on board with the science, promoting and acknowledging the scientifically based warning that we need to stop polluting the atmosphere.

In the late 1970s and beginning of the 1980s, concern about the threat was beginning to heat up. Until something happened in early 1990s. No one seems to exactly who said what and to who – and whether large sums of money changed hands under the table and on offshore accounts – but something clearly happened that made all the fossil fuel companies make a u-turn and all of a sudden begin to fund unscientific and fabricated reports instead of the science.

Ever since, these forces of fossil darkness have run a sneaky tobacco-style campaign to spread vast amounts of fake news while establishing vast numbers of ‘echo chambers’ circulating climate contrarian nonsens. The campaign had one single purpose: to cause so much confusion about whether the warnings from the scientific community can be trusted that it extends the period of procrastination and inaction on what inevitably needs to get done – the closing down the fossil fuel industry.

And it worked. For decades. As the first country in the world, Ireland decided to stop investing in fossil fuels – in 2017! Considering we have had UN Climate Summits on the devastating consequences of our inaction in more than 20 years – why did it have to take that long before the first national government passed legislation in favour of divesting coal, oil and gas?

This blogpost is a brief summary of that sad story. 4,000 scientists noted in a joint statement in 1992: “We must reject decisions which are supported by pseudo-scientific arguments or false and non-relevant data,” because they understood already back then which impact it would have.

This is also the sad story of how our scientists have been speaking up about the global warming problem through one generation after the next. 

It is urgent now that both stories become more broadly understood and known. So far our trusted public broadcasters have failed to inform and educate us about it. That needs to change.

The climate scientists themselves are painfully aware that time to act really is running out soon. To get the media’s and politicians’ attention, on 22 April 2017 scientists came out of their laboratories and universities and took to the streets in big numbers in cities around the world. We live in a critical period of human history where it is time to stand up and be counted – that was what the March for Science was about.









 [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




“This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through (…) a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.”
Lyndon B. Johnson, US President, in a special message to Congress on the Conservation and Restoration of Natural Beauty on 8 February 1965


We can’t say we haven’t been warned

We must stop burning of coal, oil and gas, or we will be in trouble, scientists warned the American president. That was in 1965. The people who heard the president’s response to the scientific warning looked at each other, some with surprise, others with concern, and then they did… – nothing.

20 years passed with more and more talk. Scientific studies, meteorological measurements. Not much else.

In 1988, the magazine New Scientist published an article stating directly that it is ‘Time for politicians to act’. With our unregulated air pollution we are creating an ever-growing climatic monster, and it is up to our politicians to ensure we get this growth under control, or else… things could get dramatically out of hand for us. Our entire civilisation could get wiped out. So it’s time to act: stop polluting the air before it is too late.

The scientists didn’t phrase it exactly like that, of course – but this was the message they delivered.

Some politicians may have read the article in New Scientist. But they did… nothing.

1988-time-for-politicians-to-act560

The 1988-report ‘The Greenhouse Effect: Issues for policy makers’ stressed that “although the developed countries consume four-fifths of the fossil fuels burnt each year, less-developed contries will be most vulnerable to the ill effects of global warming, such as rising sea levels.”

» Source: www.books.google.com.au | Share this on Facebook

In his US presidential campaign, George H. W. Bush announced that same year of 1988 that, if he was elected, “We will talk about global warming… and we will act.”

The politicians who were listening to Bush at that time must have looked at each other and thought, wow! – but then, again, they did – nothing. And Bush, of course, didn’t keep his election promise.

1990s: ‘The Lying Game’ kicks in
In 1991, the Dutch oil company Shell published a 28-minute film, ‘Climate of Concern’, about the problem with our CO2 emissions, and then… did nothing either.

Not surprisingly, they quickly got the geni back in the bottle, shelved the film and then instead began funding university scholars who would claim that the burning of coal, oil and gas was not at all something we should be concerned about. Other major oil companies started doing the same.

Enter The Lying Game, today also known as the Fake News syndrome, with Donald Trump giving it extra fame, because we have not been used to seeing presidents outright lie in the open while everybody’s listening. Fake news wasn’t invented by Trump – it is a global phenomena driven by social media, and in fact it is nothing but the well-known and old-fashioned concept of propaganda, only now it has been disguised by and fine-tuned to the new pier-to-pier communication technologies.

The Lying Game was invented and financed to cover up the underlying, immoral act of profiting from knowingly wrecking our climate – the most widespread Greed Crime of all times – which, among other things, locked pollution and destruction of nature in as the norm in our industrialised societies, even though everyone knows it causes havoc and deaths and in reality ought to be condemned as a crime against humanity.

Arnold Schwarzenegger agrees:

Source: maxgustafson.se
Cartoon by Max Gustafson

In 1992 in an address to the chiefs of state and governments 46 prominent scientists and other intellectuals endorsed by further 4,000 scientists, including 72 Nobel Prize winners, declared that they wished to make their “full contribution to the preservation of our common heritage, the Earth” and “forewarn the authorities in charge of our planet’s destiny against decisions which are supported by pseudo-scientific arguments or false and non-relevant data.”

The Lying Game obviously was a question of survival for one of the most lucrative and wealthy industies on the planet. Lying became big business. It is what has enabled fossil fuel companies to become richer than entire countries, it has increased luxury and power to the richest one per cent of the population, and enabled just eight wealthy men to own more than what half of the human population owns.




30 years more passed by. The fossil fuels industry’s trick – the Lying Game – worked exactly as intended: The many discussions back and forth about whether or not to “believe” in climate science increasingly became a political blockage. The politician’s willingness to act disappeared. Even talking about the issue – in particular during election periods – was no longer an option. Deemed “too complex”. Politicians in major parties were warned by their advisors that this was topic too hard for voters to even think about. So rather not even mention it.

Fossilt missbruksbeteende
[Sign on building: ‘Addiction clinic — energy transition — support og help’] … “Let me go! I can stop whenever I want! My consumption is not harmful!” … “The hardest part is the denial.” Cartoon by Max Gustafson

Silencing of the ‘alarmists’
Many more reports and studies, ‘time to act’-articles, inconvenient films and rising temperature graphs later, a majority of people had simply blocked off, following their elected leaders’ poor example. The concept of ‘fake news’ is often described as an entirely new phenomena of our time, but really, it has been around since the invention of the paper press. Truth is what you choose to believe. The only thing new is that social media makes it a lot easier to avoid ever getting confronted with the reality of science. Opinions fill the space.

In order to continue living as the fossil fuel industry had set it all up for us – enabling us to consume and burn their coal, oil and gas as if we were addicted to it – people would avoid eye contact with any scientist, any climate-concerned neighbour or nephew, and in order to keep them at a distance, they would label them with expressions such as ‘alarmists’, ‘greenies’, ‘radical environmentalists’, or ‘treehuggers’.

Propaganda is based on irresponsibility and repetition. Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt, allegedly “Australia’s most read columnist”, excells at that. He has repeated the same disinformation about global warming being a hoax for years. On 13 March 2017, he did it again.




In 2013, 520 scientists in 44 countries sent a ‘Message to world leaders’, reminding them that “ultimate monetary costs for climate mitigation and adaptation grow substantially each year action is postponed.”

“There is a lot of new and alarming scientific insight about the environmental changes currently taking place and how this is profoundly affecting humanity. How we mitigate and manage these interacting environmental impacts will determine whether or not human quality of life declines over the next few decades,” explained one of the signatories, Anthony Barnosky, a professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, US.


Looking the other way
Scientists who didn’t want to be seen as ‘alarmists’ got more and more silent. Talking about climate change became a social taboo. And when at rare occasions we did talk about climate change, we would tend to talk about it as a ‘natural disaster’ or as if it were some freak of nature. In that way people could conveniently forget how the problem got around in the first place. They could suppress that the climate disruption is a result of deliberate decisions made by human beings – predominantly wealthy men in suits – who knew what was coming and then, even so, decided to ignore it and create confusion about it.

Over the last 25 years, this game has been running relatively quietly under the radar of media and public attention, culminating with the industry’s official hijacking of legislative powers in countries such as Australia and the United States, where federal governments got busy removing regulations on carbon pollution, restricting clean energy development, and boosting production of the dirtiest most polluting fuels.

Just as outrageous we think it is that the German people in the 1930s simply looked the other way when they heard what was being done to the German Jews, we also somehow have found a way to collectively suppress the fact that year after year, millions and more millions of people around the world are dying – getting violently and tragically killed – as a direct consequence not of any ‘natural forces’ but of those executive board room decisions made in the 1990s.

In the world as it looks today, it is important to remember this: it is not climate change which is our enemy and which threatens our livelihood and our future. It is not ‘nature’, as the Australian Prime Minister said in a statement on national tv on 3 April 2017: “Right through New South Wales and Queensland we have seen nature flinging her worst at Australians…”

Wrong, Malcolm Turnbull – and you know this very well, because in 2010 in Sydney, you were the one to tell us that we had zero carbon budget remaining:

“Our response to climate change must be guided by science. The science tells us that we have already exceeded the safe upper limit for atmospheric carbon dioxide. We are as humans conducting a massive science experiment with this planet. It’s the only planet we’ve got.”
Malcolm Turnbull, 2010


Speaking at the Deakins on the Politics of Climate Change in 2010, Malcolm Turnbull also said:

“Climate change is real, it is affecting us now, and it is having a particularly severe impact on Australia. And yet, right now, we have every resource available to us to meet the challenge of climate change except for one: and that is leadership. Our efforts to deal with climate change have been betrayed by a lack of leadership, a political cowardice the like of which I have never seen in my lifetime before.”

Well, there is one coward politician for you, like so many others of them. Seven years later, after becoming the country’s leader and Prime Minister, Australians have witnessed Turnbull turn lack of climate action leadership and political cowardice into a brand for his biggest parliamentarian failure.

Climate change is not a “natural” phenomena, we should never be thinking of it in that way. It is man-made. This dangerous situation has been created by people such as Turnbull and the 180 likeminded turncoats who have walked back and forth between fossil fuel company offices and the Australian parliament during the last decade. Along with their likeminded colleagues in other countries.

The CEOs and politicians who have decided to ignore the scientists’ warnings and bring on the climate havoc – they are the ones we must now hold to account. In a normal world, it would initially be the media’s natural role to be doing that, but most of mainstream media has, for undisclosed reasons, decided – or has been instructed – not to do that.

Which means it really is up to us, the ordinary members of the community, the average citizens on the ground, to hold the climate criminals to account. And to act.

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Pogo on Earth Day 1971: “Yep, son, we have met the enemy and he is us.”

Pogo cuts through to the bottom line. All fingers are pointing at us. Expressed in poetry, Prince Ea puts it this way:



Playing with fire
As a whole, humanity is keeps burning more and more fossil fuels every year. We prioritise short term profits over long term safety and stability.

Meanwhile severe climatic havoc now confronts us and threatens our livelihoods with destructive weather events, tornados, heat waves, bush fires, droughts and flooding, melting of poles and gletchers, rising sea levels, killing of coral reefs, extinction of species and many other serious and existential threats…

How is this possible? You would have thought that journalists would be the ones to know what to do. After all, journalists are trained to investigate and report on matters that are important to our society.

However, apart from a few media outlets that work hard to make a difference – such as The Guardian in the United Kingdom, the New York Times in the United States, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, Information in Denmark – most of mainstream media have made a deliberate and conscious policy decision to play the tune of the fossil fuel industry, which means: to look the other way. Ignore the scandal. Pretend it isn’t happening.

It enables leaders such as Malcolm Turnbull, US president Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin to get away with ignoring and discrediting the scientific evidence that the Earth’s climate today is changing faster and even more dramatically than climate scientists’ models predicted 10 years ago.

For instance, Putin has told the world that climate change is unstoppable and not caused by human activity, so we better just get used to it – while continuing to drill and dig for more fossil fuels, of course. The media didn’t challenge him with a single question.


Our responsibility
Our democracies have become a ‘fossilised’ and paralysed. We buy and burn the fossil fuels as if nothing was wrong. We eat meat, buy imported goods, fly long distances for our holidays and a so many other activities without thought for the pollution it creates.

Leave alone climate change, every year, millions of people are dying from illnesses related to our oil, coal and gas pollution. The World Health Organisation talks about six million dead bodies a year which the world’s cynical fossil fuel industry leaders and fossil-funded politicians and reporters should be taken to account for. Which warning signs should be warning us about.

We, the ordinary citizens, have a huge collective responsibility for allowing this mess to continue as long as we don’t want to look up from our screens or listen to what the scientists have been shouting to us for generations. Just like the politicians, we can’t say that we haven’t been warned. We have. Again and again.

Below follows more details about the ignored climate science history.






1988-time-for-politicians-to-act560

Scientists in 1988: ‘Time for politicians to act’

“Time for politicians to act”, wrote New Scientist in their October 1988 issue.

It has, in other words, been ‘Time for politicians to act’ through three decades now – and we, their voters, have allowed them to continue procrastinating and finding excuses for continuing to subsidise and mingle with the fossil fuel industry while cutting support to renewables energy projects and any innovative technologies in the field.

A 1988-report, ‘The Greenhouse Effect: Issues for policy makers’ stressed that “although the developed countries consume four-fifths of the fossil fuels burnt each year, less-developed contries will be most vulnerable to the ill effects of global warming, such as rising sea levels.”

“The time to ‘wait and see’ whether global warming poses a serious threat to life on Earth is over, says a report released this week by the Joint Energy Programme of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in Britain. The report calls for an international effort to control pollution from carbon dioxide.”
Quote from New Scientist, 1988

» Source: www.books.google.com.au

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1988: The “White House effect”: Promise to act on climate

A combination of growing scientific alarm about the growth of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and a long hot summer in 1988 made climate change an election issue in the Unites States. On the campaign trail, then-Vice President George H. W. Bush announced in his presidential campaign:

“Those who think we’re powerless to do anything about the “greenhouse effect” are forgetting about the “White House effect”. As President, I intend to do something about it… In my first year in office, I will convene a global conference on the environment at the White House… We will talk about global warming… And we will act.”


In the late 1980s and early 1990s, both the British Prime Minister Thatcher and the American president Bush were strong advocates for action on climate change, as was the then leader of the Australian Liberals, Andrew Peacock.

» The Conversation – 20 October 2016:
Why the silence on climate in the US presidential debates?


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Global warming has begun. ~ New York Times

1988: NASA’s James E. Hansen testifies to Congress

‘Global warming’ became the dominant popular term in June 1988, when NASA scientist James E. Hansen had testified to Congress about climate, specifically referring to global warming. He said:

“Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and the observed warming.”

Hansen’s testimony was very widely reported in popular and business media, and after that popular use of the term global warming exploded. Global change never gained traction in either the scientific literature or the popular media.

» Source: NASA, U.S. Senate, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, “Greenhouse Effect and Global Climate Change, part 2” 100th Cong., 1st sess., 23 June 1988, p. 44.



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“Thirty years ago, we had a chance to save the planet. The science of climate change was settled. The world was ready to act. Almost nothing stood in our way – except ourselves.”
~ Nathaniel Rich in New York Times on 1 August 2018

» New York Times – 1 August 2018
Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change
“This two-part article is based on 18 months of reporting and well over a hundred interviews. It tracks the efforts of a small group of American scientists, activists and politicians to raise the alarm and stave off catastrophe. It will come as a revelation to many readers — an agonizing revelation — to understand how thoroughly they grasped the problem and how close they came to solving it.”



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1. Rewinding – going half a century back





1965: Scientists warn the American president

The story about how we have been warned by the scientific community about global warming and the effect of greenhouse gas emissions goes much further back.

Marc Hudson, a PhD Candidate from the Sustainable Consumption Institute at University of Manchester, wrote in The Conversation:

“Awareness of the threat of climate change goes back more than half a century, well before its sudden arrival on public policy agendas in 1988.”



Lyndon B. Johnson, who was president of the United States from 1963 to 1969, made the first presidential statement about climate change in the United States. The words were written for him by pioneering climate scientist Roger Revelle.

Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee wrote – on page 127 in a report entitled ‘Restoring the Quality of Our Environment’ more than 50 years ago:

“By the year 2000 the increase in atmospheric CO2 will be close to 25%. This may be sufficient to produce measurable and perhaps marked changes in climate, and will almost certainly cause significant changes in the temperature and other properties of the stratosphere. (…) The climatic changes that may be produced by the increased CO2 content could be deleterious from the point of view of human beings.”


The members of the science advisory committee suggested that the problem could be solved with geo-engineering – they called it “tools for modifying atmospheric circulation in ways which might counteract the effects of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide.” They estimated, for instance, that a one percent change in the Earth’s reflectivity would cost about 500 million dollars a year.

» More about the topic of geo-engineering at the bottom of this page

» ‘Restoring the Quality of Our Environment – Report of The Environmental Pollution Panel’, President’s Science Advisory Committee, 1965.


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“We’ve known what’s coming for half a century now, and we’re on the precipice of its arrival. There’s never been a more important time to listen to the science.”
Ethan Siegel, astrophysicist and author

1967: Meteorologists’ climate model

Headlines are never as reliable as going to the scientific source itself, and the ultimate source, in this case, is the first accurate climate model ever: by Syukuro Manabe and Richard T. Wetherald. 50 years after their groundbreaking 1967 paper, ‘Thermal Equilibrium of the Atmosphere with a Given Distribution of Relative Humidity’, the science can be robustly evaluated, and they got almost everything exactly right. Their major result, published on 1 May 1967, was:

“According to our estimate, a doubling of the CO2 content in the atmosphere has the effect of raising the temperature of the atmosphere (whose relative humidity is fixed) by about 2°C.”

What we’ve seen from the pre-industrial revolution until today matches that extremely well.

» Forbes – 15 March 2017:
The First Climate Model Turns 50, And Predicted Global Warming Almost Perfectly



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1968: Warning from Stanford’s researchers

In 1968, the Stanford Research Institute delivered a report titled ‘Sources, Abundance, and Fate of Gaseous Atmospheric Polluters’ to the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association for the fossil fuel industry.

The report, unearthed by researchers at the Center for International Environmental Law, is one of the earliest attempts by the industry to grapple with the impacts of rising CO2 levels, which Stanford’s researchers warned if left unabated “could bring about climatic changes” like temperature increases, melting of ice caps and sea level rise.

The term “global warming” would not appear in a peer-reviewed academic journal until 1975.

» Read more on OSTI.gov:
Sources, abundance, and fate of gaseous atmospheric pollutants

» The Guardian – 16 March 2018:
It’s 50 years since climate change was first seen. Now time is running out
“Making up for years of delay and denial will not be easy, nor will it be cheap. Climate polluters must be held accountable.” Article by Richard Wiles



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1973: Australian senator puts a case for solar energy

On 29 November 1973, Don Jessop, a Liberal senator for South Australia, made this statement in the Australian parliament:

“It is quite apparent to world scientists that the silent pollutant, carbon dioxide, is increasing in the atmosphere and will cause us great concern in the future. (…) Of course, I am putting a case for solar energy. Australia is a country that can well look forward to a very prosperous future if it concentrates on solar energy right now. Scientists say that it will take about 20 years to perfect this source of energy but I am convinced, and there is scientific backing for my belief, that the development of solar energy can be accelerated and that probably within 10 years solar energy could be a definite proposition for Australia.”



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1978: Global sea levels to rise 5 meters, warns scientist

John H. Mercer predicted the impending collapse of ice sheets in 1978. Mercer was hardly the first to sound an alarm about greenhouse gases – scientists were well on their way by the late 1950s toward connecting mankind’s burning of fossil fuels to Earth’s changing climate. But Mr Mercer made a groundbreaking contribution with a peer-reviewed research paper about West Antarctica’s instability he got published on 26 January 1978 in the scientific journal Nature.

In it, he warned the world that West Antarctica’s massive ice sheet — one of Earth’s largest and most important — would eventually melt from beneath, become dislodged, and cause global sea levels to rise 5 meters.

» The Blade – 25 March 2014:
Eccentric OSU scientist vindicated on melting, global warming predictions

» All Our Yesterdays – 26 January 2015:
Jan 26, 1978: Paper “West Antarctic ice sheet and C02 greenhouse effect: a threat of disaster”



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The first World Climate Conference

The first World Climate Conference was held in 1979 in Geneva, Switzerland. At this conference 39 years ago, scientists expressed concern about the link between greenhouse gases, global warming and climate change.


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1981: American oil company Exxon predicts ‘catastrophic’ warming

Through much of the 1980s, Exxon researchers worked alongside university and government scientists to generate objective climate models that yielded papers published in peer-reviewed journals. Their work confirmed the emerging scientific consensus on global warming’s risks.

Exxon’s 1980-climate modeling and science turned out to be spot on, and the company’s early modelling projections still hold up more than 30 years later.


One scientist, Werner Glass, wrote an analysis in 1981 for a senior vice president that said the rise in global temperatures would begin to be noticed in a few decades. Exxon manager Roger Cohen at the time called it “distinctly possible” that the projected warming trend after 2030 “will indeed be catastrophic (at least for a substantial fraction of the earth’s population).” By 2030, he warned, the damage could be irreversible.

However, as the consensus grew within the scientific world, Exxon’s managers decided to double down on the uncertainty and began campaigning to muddy research results.

InsideClimateNews has all the details:

» InsideClimateNews – 22 September 2015:
Exxon Confirmed Global Warming Consensus in 1982 with In-House Climate Models

» The Guardian – 25 November 2015:
Two-faced Exxon: the misinformation campaign against its own scientists



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1981: ‘Warming warning’



The 1981 tv documentary that warned about global warming and shows just how much we knew about climate change as far back as 1981. ‘Warming warning’ was described like this in the newpaper’s tv program pages:

“A documentary about the serious effects our polluting of the atmosphere with carbon dioxide will have on the climate. Scientists are worried that at the present rate the Earth will be two degrees warmer by the middle of the next century with disastrous consequences for the polar regions. It is estimated that if the Ross Ice Shelf were to break up it could lead to an ice surge which would raise sea levels by up to twenty feet [6 metres] thus putting two million people, in London alone, at risk.”

‘Warming warning’ – an excerpt

Running time of this clip in original documentary: from 05:25 to 08:07



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1987: Australian conference about greenhouse gases

Melbourne university launches five-day meeting about global warming

30 November 1987 marked the start of the inaugural Greenhouse 87 conference hosted by Monash University and attended by 260 delegates. The five-day meeting was convened as part of a new federal government plan in response to the burgeoning global awareness of the impending danger of global warming. The Greenhouse 87 conference was hailed as a great success, creating new scientific networks and momentum.

The conference gave rise to a book called ‘Greenhouse: Planning for Climate Change’.

The Greenhouse Project helped to spark and channel huge public interest in and concern about climate change in the late 1980s. But politicians fumbled their response, producing a weak National Greenhouse Response Strategy in 1992.

» The Conversation – 20 November 2017:
It’s 30 years since scientists first warned of climate threats to Australia

» The Conversation – 1 January 2018:
Cabinet papers 1994-95: Keating’s climate policy grapples sound eerily familiar
“Cabinet papers from 1994 and 1995, released on 1 January 2018 by the National Archives of Australia, show how Keating’s cabinet fought an internal civil war over how to respond to climate change, while working hard to protect Australia’s fossil fuel exports.”



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CSIRO climate conferences and emission reduction goals
In 1988, an international conference in Toronto set the first global emission reduction targets, calling for a 20 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions worldwide by the year 2005. The brunt of this was to be borne by developed countries, using 1988 as the base year.

In Australia, CSIRO published this research report on climate change in 1988:

Excerpts of the CSIRO 1988 report

CSIRO about the greenhouse effect in 1988

“In recent years the term greenhouse effect has been used to describe the global warming expected as a result of man-induced changes to concentrations of atmospheric trace gases which absorb in the infrared.

Over the next 40 years it is thought that the greenhouse effect will lead to:

• Global warming of 1.5 to 4.5°C
• World-wide changes in climate
• Changes to rainfall distribution, storm frequency and all other parameters that make up climate
• Warming of the upper layers of the oceans leading to thermal expansion of the water. Coupled with a melting of land-based ice, this is expected to lead to a sea-level rise of botween 2O and 50 cm.
• Higher concentrations of carbon dioxide which, in the absence of competing effects from other sources such as acid rain and ozone, will act as a fertilizer and thus influence plant growth.”

~ Excerpt from ‘Division of Atmospheric Research Research Report 1985–1988’



Together with a governmental Commission for the Future, CSIRO organised two major conferences on climate change in 1987-1988. The government at the time was very much part of this. Environment minister Graham Richardson opened the 1988-conference with science minister Barry Jones attending as well.

As a result of this conference, climate change was widely publicised in the Australian media. A number of the current affairs television programs took up the issue and the Melbourne-newspaper The Age published a four page lift-out.

In 1989, environment minister Richardson took a submission to federal cabinet proposing a reduction in greenhouse emissions by 20 per cent of 1988 levels by 2005 – the Toronto Target. This was rejected by the economic and resource ministers, but even so, 1989 in Australia did see a greenhouse statement, and research funding, from the Prime Minister.

In the lead-up to a federal election later in the year, the government released a major environment statement, ‘Our Country, Our Future’, covering many traditional “green” issues but giving prominence to climate change. It supported international action, promised to look for ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions – including cooperating with the states on transport use – and provided $350,000 for public awareness and education.

Excerpt of the CSIRO 1988 report

“Changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere are occurring both regionally and globally. Locally these changes have effects on visibility and the quality of the air we breath. At a global level there is now strong evidence that these changes are likely to bring about significant climatic modifications as a result of the greenhouse effect.

“Confident predictions of how future carbon dioxide emissions will affect the concentration of this gas in the atmosphere rely on an accurate model of carbon dioxide pools and their interactions. For accurate modelling the carbon dioxide concentration prior to 1850 must be known. It was at this time that industrialization and forest felling began to have an impact. Air bubbles trapped in polar ice from as long ago as the 17th century have been analysed by Division scientists in collaboration with scientists from the Australian Antarctic Division. It has been discovered that, prior to 1800, the carbon dioxide concentration was essentially constant at about 280 ppm.”


Three decades down the track, at a Melbourne launch event for a new climate action campaign initiative called Tipping Point, on 28 July 2018, researcher Joan Staples reminded the guests about this forgotten piece of Australian political history.

Joan Staples published her research nine years ago. You can read some of it here:

» APO – 11 November 2009:
Our lost history of climate change

» ‘Climate Change: On For Young and Old’ – 2009:
Australian Government Action in the 1980s

Climate policy procrastination’s 30 year anniversary



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1988: Shell report: ‘The Greenhouse Effect’

In 1988, Shell prepared an internal report called ‘The Greenhouse Effect’ that analysed the impacts of climate change. It noted that fossil fuel burning was driving climate change and quantified the carbon emissions from its products (oil, gas, coal) made up 4 percent of global emissions in 1984.

The 1988 report was the result of an internal investigation into the effects of fossil fuels. The research group concluded that rising concentrations of CO2 were indeed caused by fossil fuel emissions, going as far as to recommend immediate action to head off future environmental damage. At one point, the report says, “by the time the global warming becomes detectable it could be too late to take effective countermeasures to reduce the effects or even to stabilize the situation.”

» Chip Chick – 6 April 2018:
New Documents Reveal Shell Knew About the Damage Fossil Fuels Were Causing as Early as 30 Years Ago



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1989: Turning point: Coalition to cast doubt on climate science

1989 is a turning point. In a move to coordinate a public response to the growing attention on climate change, a group of big businesses, including Exxon, BP and Shell, form the Global Climate Coalition. It sets out to cast doubt on climate science and lobby against efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

» Sourcewatch:
Global Climate Coalition

» Climate Liability News – 5 April 2018:
What Oil Companies Knew About Climate Change and When: A Timeline

» www.climatefiles.com



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1991: Shell educates about the threat of climate change

Shell’s 28-minute film ‘Climate of Concern’ which was made for public viewing, particularly in schools and universities, back in 1991, reminds us that the executives of Shell knew all about the threats of climate change back then.

‘Climate of Concern’ was unearthed by Dutch journalist Jelmer Mommers of The Correspondent. He also retrieved many other documents showing the full extent of Shell’s understanding of climate change. Since the late 1970s, Shell began sharing data on climate change with other oil companies.

Regardless, instead of responding to the threat, they decided to ignore it. And they did more than that. Shell decided to start funding denial instead, as did the executives of all the major companies of the coal, oil and gas industries. Their strategy was to delay society’s transition away from fossil fuels. The immense profits in the industry enabled their lobby entities to influence and infiltrate national governments to ensure that air pollution would continue not to be regulated or punished, and that their destructive, polluting business model would keep profits flowing for decades ahead.

This strategic turning point took, where the fossil fuel industry finally got their propaganda machine working and turned the conservative side of politics away from action, took place in the mid-1990’s, and it is important to understand that this is main reason humanity now finds itself in a climate emergency situation.

“The oil giant Shell issued a stark warning of the catastrophic risks of climate change more than a quarter of century ago in a prescient 1991 film that has been rediscovered. However, since then the company has invested heavily in highly polluting oil reserves and helped lobby against climate action, leading to accusations that Shell knew the grave risks of global warming but did not act accordingly.”


» Article about Shell’s film in The Guardian

» Read more: Shell Climate Documents



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heidelberg-appeal

1992 (a): Appeal for sustainability and scientific ecology

There has alredy been numerous appeals from scientific organisations. Does anyone remember the Heidelberg Appeal? It was addressed to the chiefs of state and governments 25 years ago, published on 1 June 1992 in the Wall Street Journal over the signatures of 46 prominent scientists and other intellectuals. Subsequently it was endorsed by around 4,000 scientists, including 72 Nobel Prize winners. The appeal read:

Heidelberg Appeal to Heads of States and Governments

“We want to make our full contribution to the preservation of our common heritage, the Earth.

We are, however, worried at the dawn of the twenty-first century, at the emergence of an irrational ideology which is opposed to scientific and industrial progress and impedes economic and social development.

We contend that a Natural State, sometimes idealized by movements with a tendency to look towards the past, does not exist and has probably never existed since man’s first appearance in the biosphere, insofar as humanity has always progressed by increasingly harnessing Nature to its needs and not the reverse.

We fully subscribe to the objectives of a scientific ecology for a universe whose resources must be taken stock of, monitored and preserved. But we herewith demand that this stock-taking, monitoring and preservation be founded on scientific criteria and not on irrational pre-conceptions.

We stress that many essential human activities are carried out either by manipulating hazardous substances or in their proximity, and that progress and development have always involved increasing control over hostile forces, to the benefit of mankind. We therefore consider that scientific ecology is no more than an extension of this continual progress toward the improved life of future generations. We intend to assert science’s responsibility and duty towards society as a whole. We do however forewarn the authorities in charge of our planet’s destiny against decisions which are supported by pseudo-scientific arguments or false and non-relevant data.

We draw everybody’s attention to the absolute necessity of helping poor countries attain a level of sustainable development which matches that of the rest of the planet, protecting them from troubles and dangers stemming from developed nations, and avoiding their entanglement in a web of unrealistic obligations which would compromise both their independence and their dignity.

The greatest evils which stalk our Earth are ignorance and oppression, and not Science, Technology and Industry whose instruments, when adequately managed, are indispensable tools of a future shaped by Humanity, by itself and for itself, overcoming major problems like overpopulation, starvation and worldwide diseases.”


Heidelberg, April 14, 1992 (third revision)




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1992 (b): ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity’

1,700 of the world’s leading scientists, including the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences, issued a ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity’ in November 1992.

“We must bring environmentally damaging activities under control to restore and protect the integrity of the earth’s systems we depend on. We must, for example, move away from fossil fuels to more benign, inexhaustible energy sources to cut greenhouse gas emissions and the pollution of our air and water. Priority must be given to the development of energy sources matched to third-world needs—small scale and relatively easy to implement. We must halt deforestation, injury to and loss of agricultural land, and the loss of terrestrial and marine plant and animal species.”

» Read the 1992 Scientist Statement: World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity (PDF document)



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1995: Global Climate Coalition: ‘Climate Change Science Primer’

The Global Climate Coalition produces a draft primer on climate change dated December 1995 and distributed with the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers’s letterhead. This was right after the IPCC 2nd assessment had been published. The draft primer acknowledges the scientific consensus, and explains how uncertainty could still be stated.

» Climate Files:
1995 Global Climate Coalition Draft Climate Change Science Primer




This is one of the very first climate maps, from Woodbridge 1823. He drew isotherms around the world based on the annual average temperatures that had been measured in variety of cities. Source: Robert Rohde


Rewinding even further – going two centuries back




1912: Burning coal affects climate

The small article ‘Coal consumption affecting climate’ from 1912 is a striking example of how long we knowingly have ignored the problem.

» Article by Andrew C. Revkin published in the New York Times on 21 October 2016:
News Coverage of Coal’s Link to Global Warming, in 1912

» Source: www.trove.nla.gov.au

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1827: Discovery of the greenhouse effect

The damage caused by adding CO2 to our atmosphere has been known for almost 200 years now.

One of the first scientific works on climate change, and certainly a seminal study, was completed in 1827 by the French mathematician and physicist Jean Baptiste Fourier. He is generally credited with the discovery of the greenhouse effect, whereby the presence of an atmosphere acts to increase a planet’s surface temperature. He suggested that the atmosphere might insulate the planet, creating a warming effect.

An excellent summary of the contributions of his work is provided here.

“From his work, scientists were able to describe how heat entered and left a planet’s system. He described heat loss by infrared radiation from the Earth and other planets. He correctly concluded that energy transferred within the Earth was negligible compared to that transferred by radiation. He also recognized the important nature of the atmosphere – that it is transparent to visible light but not to infrared light. This is why the greenhouse analogy to our atmosphere is so apt.”
~ John Abraham in The Guardian on 31 March 2017



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Excerpts of Eunice Foote’s 1856 paper: ‘Circumstances Affecting the Sun’s Rays’

1856: Laboratory measurements of C02’s enhanced absorption of sunlight

In 1856, the American scientist Eunice Foote (1819-1888) was the first scientist to define the link between carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. In her laboratory she had isolated the component gases that make up the atmosphere, and she measured which one got the hottest in sunlight. It was, she found, carbon dioxide. The punch line being that in this way she proved that the more CO2 that’s pumped into the atmosphere, the hotter it gets.

From her laboratory experiment, she concluded that the concentration of these gases in the atmosphere must affect the Earth’s temperature.

Foote submitted her results to the Eighth Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on 23 August 1856. Unlike most scientific societies of the time, the AAAS actually permitted female members, but it would not give them the title of professional or fellow. It meant that as a woman, Foote could submit her results but was not permitted to read her own paper at the meeting; it was read for her by professor Joseph Henry of the Smithsonian Institution, who started by protesting that science should not discriminate on the grounds of gender. It was nonetheless the case that Foote’s paper was not widely published and after its reading, she vanished into obscurity.

Her research was published later the same year with her name as the author in the American Journal of Science and Arts. Her laboratory results showing the enhanced absorption of radiation by CO2 are also in the published record via a report by Wells (1857, p. 159-160).

That’s two years before Tyndall started his laboratory work. The Irish physicist John Tyndall is usually credited with discovering the greenhouse effect, publishing results in 1859 that demonstrated that gases such as carbonic acid trapped heat, and that this effect could and did take place in the Earth’s atmosphere, contributing to a changing climate over time.

“One receiver being filled with carbonic acid, the other with common air, the temperature of the gas in the sun was raised twenty degrees above that of the air. The receiver containing the gas became very sensibly hotter than the other, and was much longer in cooling. An atmosphere of that gas would give to our earth a much higher temperature; and if there once was, as some suppose, a larger proportion of that gas in the air, an increased temperature must have accompanied it, both from the nature of the gas and the increased density of the atmosphere.”
~ Eunice Foote

Foote’s story was first brought to light by Raymond Sorenson, an independent researcher, in 2011. Since then, UCSB researcher John Perlin has unearthed more details, and in May 2018, stories about her were then published in a range of media outlets.

» Search and Discovery – 31 January 2011:
Eunice Foote’s Pioneering Research On CO2 And Climate Warming
By Raymond P. Sorenson

» Santa Barbera Independent – 10 May 2018:
John Perlin Rediscovers Feminist Crusader Who Discovered Climate Change
“Who the Hell Is Eunice Foote and Why Should We Care?”

» Quartz – 15 May 2018:
The female scientist who identified the greenhouse-gas effect never got the credit

» ABC RN – 15 July 2018:
The father of climate science, my Foote!? A mystery revealed



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1859-1861: Description of the greenhouse effect

Irish physicist John Tyndall advanced research into the warming effects of carbon dioxide, concluding that atmospheric warming is tied to fossil fuel emissions. He wrote in his 1861 paper ‘On the Absorption and Radiation of Heat by Gases and Vapours, and on the Physical Connexion of Radiation, Absorption and Conduction’ that variations in these gases could have produced “all the mutations of climate which the researches of geologists reveal.”

In 1959, he had given a presentation on the topic at the Royal Institution of Britain: ‘On the transmission of heat of different qualities through gases of different kinds’

» M. Weather Hulme, Vol 64, no. 5, May 2009:
On the origin of ‘the greenhouse effect’: John Tyndall’s 1859 interrogation of nature

The Guardian wrote:

“Another major discovery occurred in the 1860s by researcher John Tyndall. He studied various gases and their ability to absorb radiant heat. Among the gases he studied were oxygen and nitrogen which he found were virtually transparent to radiant heat. On the other hand, he found that some gases like water vapor and carbon dioxide can absorb heat, even though they are present in small amounts.

The genius of Tyndall was his measurement device. He used a galvanometer with a tube that he could fill with various gases. He couldn’t use glass to make the walls because glass is a radiant heat absorber. In fact, his original paper was filled with a detailed description of his experiment and the issues he had to address to ensure quality results. But, in the end he was able to quantify the importance of trace gases on the energy absorptivity of our atmosphere. A nice review of his work is available here.”

» The Guardian – 31 March 2017:
Scientists understood the climate 150 years ago better than the EPA head today




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1896: Predictions about global temperature rise

“The Swedish researcher Svante Arrhenius became the first person (that I know of) to make predictions about how much the Earth temperature would change as we add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. The title of his work, ‘On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground’ says it all.

Using measurements of the energy incoming from the moon, Arrhenius showed that changes to trace gases in the atmosphere can dramatically affect the temperature of the planet. He also discussed how gases are able to absorb specific wavelengths of light. Using experimental data from other preceding studies, he predicted global temperatures would rise approximately 5–6°C in response to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide.”
~ John Abraham in The Guardian on 31 March 2017

Svante Arrhenius, Professor of Physics and Rector at the Stockholm Högskola, calculated that doubling the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would raise Earth’s temperature between 8 and 9 degrees Celsius. Arrhenius was inspired by the startling discovery of his friend Arvid Högbom, who realized that human activities were releasing carbon dioxide at roughly the same rate as natural processes. Because of the rate at which industrial countries burned coal in 1896, Arrhenius believed human-caused warming wouldn’t reach problematic levels for thousands of years. But by the time he published his 1908 book ‘Worlds in the Making’, an attempt to explain the evolution of the universe to a popular audience, that rate had increased so much that Arrhenius was convinced that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could double within a few centuries.

In 1903 Arrhenius was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

“Electric cars might seem like the vehicles of the future, but they are actually a status symbol of the past.”

» Curbed – 22 September 2017:
Before Tesla: Why everyone wanted an electric car in 1905



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1917: “Coal and oil a finite resource”

“Coal and oil are going up [in usage] and are strictly limited in quantity,” Alexander Graham Bell said in a speech he held in February 1917. He continued: “We can take coal out of a mine, but we can never put it back. We can draw oil from subterranean reservoirs, but we can never refill them again. We are spendthrifts in the matter of fuel and are using our capital for our running expenses. In relation to coal and oil, the world’s annual consumption has become so enormous that we are now actually within measurable distance of the end of the supply. What shall we do when we have no more coal or oil?”

He went on to note that hydropower was, at the time, limited, and implied that one day it might be possible to generate energy from the tides or waves, or “the employment of the sun’s rays directly as a source of power.”

» World Economic Forum | Futurism – 9 January 2018:
Life in 2018, as predicted by people in 1918

» ThinkProgress – 6 March 2017:
100 years ago, Alexander Graham Bell warned us about the ‘greenhouse effect’
“Back in 1917, the inventor of the telephone foresaw a future where coal and oil were replaced by renewable fuels.”



1917: “Put the sun’s energy in storage”

On 12 November 1917, the Lincoln Evening Journal in Nebraska published an article under the headline ‘Looking Ahead’. The piece was reprinted from the Chicago News and ridiculed the idea of worrying about whether people of the future would have enough coal. They needed coal now, and there’s absolutely no way that people of the year 2017 would still be using coal as energy.

What will be people be using a hundred years hence? The author speculated that perhaps someone will find a way “to put the sun’s energy in storage, and pump it into people’s houses thru pipes”. Solar power!

» Gizmodo – 5 January 2017:
Article From 1917: Don’t Worry About Coal, They Will Definitely Be Using Something Else By 2017



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1938: “10% more CO2 = 0.25 global temperature rise”

Starting in the late 1930s, Guy Stewart Callendar, a British steam engineer and amateur meteorologist, stirred the field by calculating that rising carbon dioxide levels were already warming the climate.

His research first appeared in the quarterly journal of the Royal Meteorological Society in April 1938: ‘The Artificial Production of Carbon Dioxide and Its Influence on Temperature’.

This paper has been categorised as a breakthrough discovery in the field of climate change, though at the time, his work went largely unnoticed.

He had collected world temperature measurements and suggested that this warming was related to carbon dioxide emissions. He linked the three key elements of global warming: rising temperatures, rising levels of anthropogenic carbon dioxide, and infrared sky radiation. This became known for a time as the ‘Callendar Effect’.

He used a simple climate model to show that a 10 per cent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide coincided with the 0.25°C increase in average global temperature.

Professor Phil Jones from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, and Dr Ed Hawkins from the University of Reading, both in the United Kingdom, have published a paper looking at Callendar’s legacy. Professor Jones said the steam engineer’s work was ‘groundbreaking’.

Callendar was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1898. He made all his calculations by hand in his spare time, decades before the effects of global warming became widely debated. The son of English physicist Hugh Longbourne Callendar, who studied thermodynamics, Callendar worked from his home in West Sussex. He died in 1964, aged 66.

» BBC News – 26 April 2013:
Guy Stewart Callendar: Global warming discovery marked

» Biography: ‘The Callendar Effect – The Life and Work of Guy Stewart Callendar (1898-1964)’

There are many more details and stories from the previous centuries in this article in Danish:

» Information – 26 October 2016:
Klimaerkendelsen har været 150 år om at sætte sig
(The headline of this article in Danish language says: ‘The climate awareness has taken 150 years to sink in’)



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New York Times 1956

1956: New York Times writes about global warming

By 1956, the New York Times was writing on combustion-driven global warming.





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1959: Speaker at energy symposium warns the oil industry

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am to talk to you about energy in the future. I will start by telling you why I believe that the energy resources of the past must be supplemented. First of all, these energy resources will run short as we use more and more of the fossil fuels. But I would […] like to mention another reason why we probably have to look for additional fuel supplies. And this, strangely, is the question of contaminating the atmosphere. [….] Whenever you burn conventional fuel, you create carbon dioxide. [….] The carbon dioxide is invisible, it is transparent, you can’t smell it, it is not dangerous to health, so why should one worry about it?

Carbon dioxide has a strange property. It transmits visible light but it absorbs the infrared radiation which is emitted from the earth. Its presence in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect [….] It has been calculated that a temperature rise corresponding to a 10 per cent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York. All the coastal cities would be covered, and since a considerable percentage of the human race lives in coastal regions, I think that this chemical contamination is more serious than most people tend to believe.”
~ Edward Teller, physicist, in 1959, addressing 300 government officials, economists, historians, scientists, and industry executives at a Energy and Man symposium organised by the American Petroleum Institute and the Columbia Graduate School of Business

» The Guardian – 1 January 2018:
On its hundredth birthday in 1959, Edward Teller warned the oil industry about global warming
“Somebody cut the cake – new documents reveal that American oil writ large was warned of global warming at its 100th birthday party.”







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1962: Energy resources report: “The dangers of atmospheric contamination”

In 1962, Marion King Hubbert, Chief Geology Consultant at Shell and former director of its research labs, produced a book-length report on the earth’s energy resources for a committee of the National Academy of Sciences. The report shows the oil company’s knowledge of the role of carbon dioxide in climate change:

“There is evidence that the greatly increasing use of the fossil fuels, (…) is seriously contaminating the earth’s atmosphere with CO2. (…) Since CO2 absorbs long-wavelength radiation, it is possible that this is already producing a secular climatic change in the direction of higher average temperatures. This could have profound effects both on the weather and on the ecological balances.
In view of the dangers of atmospheric contamination (…) Professor [G. Evelyn] Hutchinson [of Yale University] urges serious consideration of the maximum utilization of solar energy.”

~ ‘Energy Resources – A Report to the Committee on Natural Resources of the National Academy of Sciences’, by Marion King Hubbert, 1962, Washington, USA

Hubbert explicitly acknowledged the potential risk that humanity’s growing use of fossil fuels could result in dramatic changes to the earth’s climate.

The document was brought to light by the Dutch reporter Jelmer Mommers of De Correspondent, who published it on the Climate Files website and can be found in Google Books.

“…a story that begins no later than 1958 and spans decades, continents, and an array of disciplines. They demonstrate that Shell had at its disposal both profound scientific expertise in relevant disciplines and the resources to deploy that expertise to profoundly shape long-term trajectories for both the company itself and the world as a whole.”

» Center for International Environmental Law – 5 April 2018:
Internal Documents Shed New Light on Shell’s Role in the Climate Crisis

» CIEL report: ‘A Crack in the Shell’ (PDF) – an analysis in CIEL’s ongoing Smoke & Fumes investigation into what the oil industry knew about climate change, when they knew it, and what they did about it. This analysis was co-authored by Steven Feit and Carroll Muffett.




The most recent decade


2008: James Hansen shows true gravity of the situation

“A 2008 paper by James Hansen, former director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world’s foremost experts on climate change, showed the true gravity of the situation. In it, Hansen set out to determine what level of atmospheric CO2 society should aim for “if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted.” His climate models showed that exceeding 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere would likely have catastrophic effects. We’ve already blown past that limit.”

» Download the paper (PDF) from www.columbia.edu



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2009: Appeal to world leaders’ ethics and morals

Call on world leaders to “consider deeply the ethical and moral questions at the root of the climate change crisis.”

In 2009, 25 non-governmental organisations in consultative status with the United Nations, leaders of the world’s religions, policy institutes, and members of civil society, signed an appeal directed at the world leaders who gathered at a UN Summit on Climate Change in New York.

Moral and Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change: Appeal to World Leaders

“We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council, leaders of the world’s religions, and other members of civil society, urge the governments of the world to participate in the UN High Level Event on Climate Change through representatives at the highest level and unequivocally call on them to:

Consider deeply the ethical and moral questions at the root of the climate change crisis — questions of justice and equity that will determine the survival of cultures, ecosystems, and present as well as future generations;

Recognize that the quest for climate justice is not a competition for limited resources but part of an unfolding process towards greater degrees of unity among nations as they endeavor to build a sustainable, just and peaceful civilization;

Distinguish their contributions to this High-Level Event by demonstrating trust, justice, solidarity, and a vision of prosperity for the most vulnerable populations;

Demonstrate courage and moral leadership as they articulate the vision and secure the foundations for a comprehensive and legally binding agreement during the 15th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCC and the 5th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol in December 2009; and

Ensure that commitments in all arenas of the climate change challenge are guided by ethical and moral considerations so as to inspire the trust and confidence of individuals, communities and institutions to effect the changes needed to build a sustainable civilization.

We call on the gathered leaders to summon the same spirit and sense of urgency that led to the creation of the United Nations, to forge a climate change agreement worthy of the trust of humankind.


» fore.yale.edu: ‘Moral and Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change: Appeal to World Leaders’

» I posted a blogpost about this appeal on 3 April 2013.



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Consensus Statement

2013: Message to world leaders from 520 scientists

In 2013, a 51-page ‘consensus statement’ was published with a message to world leaders and with information for policy makers, signed by scientists in 44 countries.

‘Scientific Concensus on Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support Systems in the 21st Century: Information for Policy Makers’ warned that “global environmental harm is putting at risk the happiness and well-being of this and future generations.”

Here is an extract from the statement:

Climate Disruption

“Even best-case emissions scenarios (the IPCC B1 scenario) project that Earth will be hotter than the human species has ever seen by the year 2070, possibly sooner. Continuing current emission trends would, by the time today’s children grow up and have grandchildren (the year 2100), likely cause average global temperature to rise between 2.4 – 6.4°C, with the best estimate being 4°C. The last time average global temperature was 4°C hotter was some 14 million years ago.”

Impacts:
• Longer and more intense heat waves
• More frequent damaging storms
• Major damage to coastal cities as sea level rises.
• Water shortages in populous parts of the world.
• Local reduction of crop yields
• Economic losses, social strife and political unrest
• Spread of infectious disease.
• Pest expansions that cause severe ecological and economic losses
• Major damage to unique ecosystems
• Extinction of species. At least 20-40%

Solutions:
Avoiding the worst impacts of human-caused climate change will require reducing emissions of greenhouse gases substantially and quickly. For instance, in order to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of CO2 at 450 parts per million by the year 2050, which would give a 50% chance of holding global temperature rise to 2°C, emissions would have to be decreased 5.1% per year for the next 38 years. This rate of reduction has not been achieved in any year in the past six decades, which puts the magnitude and urgency of the task in perspective.

However, reducing emissions to requisite values over the next 50 years appears possible through coordinated innovation and deployment of new transportation and energy systems, which can be accomplished largely with existing technology. This will require rapid scaling-up of carbon-neutral energy production (solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, hydrogen fuel-cells, nuclear, microbe-based biofuels) to replace energy production from fossil fuels.

In the transitional decades when fossil fuels will continue to be in widespread use, increased efficiency in energy use (better gas mileage for cars and trucks, more energyefficient buildings, etc.) will be necessary, as will phasing out coal-fired power plants in favor of lower-emissions facilities (natural gas).

While fossil fuels remain in use during the transitional period, carbon capture and storage (CCS) from major emitters like cement and steel plants will probably be necessary.

Scaling up carbon-neutral energy production fast enough will likely require legislation and government policies designed to stimulate the right kinds of innovations and realign the economic landscape for energy production.

Some effects of climate change already are underway (sea level rise, higher frequency of extreme weather, etc.). Plans to adapt to unavoidable climate changes will need to be developed and implemented for cities and public lands. Keeping agricultural areas productive will require changing the crops grown in some places, and ensuring seed stocks that are adapted to new climates.

Ultimate monetary costs for climate mitigation and adaptation grow substantially each year action is postponed.”


Maintaining Humanity's Life Support Systems

» Read more: Message to world leaders from 520 scientists



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2016: Open letter to Australian Prime Minister from 5,154 scientists

On 25 August 2016, 154 Australian atmospheric, marine, environmental, biological and medical scientists, including several leading climatologists, sent an open letter to their Prime Minister, demanding that climate policy match the science.

“We call on the Australian government to tackle the root causes of an unfolding climate tragedy and do what is required to protect future generations and nature, including meaningful reductions of Australia’s peak carbon emissions and coal exports, while there is still time. There is no Planet B.”


» Read the open letter



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2017: ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice’

In November 2017, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries re-issued a warning from 1992: ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice’.

In a peer-reviewed journal article which was co-signed by more than 15,000 signatories from the science community from all ends of the Earth, the scientists warned that mankind now must take immediate action to reverse the effects of climate change, deforestation and species extinction before it’s too late. The paper captured the environmental trends over the last 25 years, showed realistic concern, and suggested some examples of possible remedies, such as:

• reducing food waste through education and better infrastructure
• promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods
• increasing outdoor nature education for children, as well as the overall engagement of society in the appreciation of nature
• divesting of monetary investments and purchases to encourage positive environmental change
• devising and promoting new green technologies and massively adopting renewable energy sources while phasing out subsidies to energy production through fossil fuels
• revising our economy to reduce wealth inequality and ensure that prices, taxation, and incentive systems take into account the real costs which consumption patterns impose on our environment

“Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change due to rising GHGs from burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and agricultural production — particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption. Moreover, we have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.

Humanity is now being given a second notice, as illustrated by these alarming trends. We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats. By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.”

(…)

“To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual. This prescription was well articulated by the world’s leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning. Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.”
~ Excerpts from ‘World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice’, 13 November 2017

Trends over time for environmental issues identified in the 1992 scientists’ warning to humanity. The years before and after the 1992 scientists’ warning are shown as gray and black lines, respectively.

Panel (a) shows emissions of halogen source gases, which deplete stratospheric ozone, assuming a constant natural emission rate of 0.11 Mt CFC- 11-equivalent per year.

In panel (c), marine catch has been going down since the mid-1990s, but at the same time, fishing effort has been going up.

The vertebrate abundance index in panel (f) has been adjusted for taxonomic and geographic bias but incorporates relatively little data from developing countries, where there are the fewest studies; between 1970 and 2012, vertebrates declined by 58 percent, with freshwater, marine, and terrestrial populations declining by 81, 36, and 35 percent, respectively.

Five-year means are shown in panel (h).

In panel (i), ruminant livestock consist of domestic cattle, sheep, goats, and buffaloes. Note that y-axes do not start at zero, and it is important to inspect the data range when interpreting each graph. Percentage change, since 1992, for the variables in each panel are as follows: (a) –68.1%; (b) –26.1%; (c) –6.4%; (d) +75.3%; (e) –2.8%; (f) –28.9%; (g) +62.1%; (h) +167.6%; and (i) humans: +35.5%, ruminant livestock: +20.5%.

» For additional descriptions of the variables and trends, go to www.scientistswarning.forestry.oregonstate.edu




» BigThink – 13 November 2017:
More Than 15,000 Scientists Issue a “Warning to Humanity”





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2018: Climate proclamation from 301 Danish scientists

“Politicians are gambling with our future.” (…) “The consideration for economic growth must now clearly be secondary to the consideration for sustainability, health, pollution and climate.”
~ 301 Danish researchers’ climate proclamation

The focus on economic growth must give way to a more ambitious climate policy. This is our last chance if the Paris Agreement’s goal of a maximum of 2°C degree global warming is to be redeemed, 301 Danish researchers with various backgrounds wrote in a ‘climate proclamation’ published in the Danish newspaper Politiken on 11 May 2018.

“In relation to the choices that have the biggest impact on our individual climate footprint – such as living without a car, avoiding flying and eating less meat – we are all interdependent with society’s transport and energy infrastructure, demands from our workplaces, and expectations from family, friends and others social relations.

Therefore, what we need is politicians who will take the lead and introduce clear financial incentives. It can be via taxation and regulation of climate-destructive goods and activities, as well as targeted public investment and subsidies aimed at significantly reducing the environmental footprint.

This must be done to a far greater extent than we have seen from the changing governments so far. There are economic risks associated with initiating such major changes in investments, taxes, rules and taxes for any country. But the climate-related and environmental risk of postponing the problems is far greater – no matter whether we define it in financial figures, in international reputation, in biodiversity or in food safety.

Political measures that increase economic growth are directly detrimental to the planet’s ecosystems. Therefore, the consideration for economic growth must now clearly be secondary to the consideration for sustainability, health, pollution and climate.”

» The climate proclamation (in Danish langauge)



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Deaths and destruction attributable to climate change

As this blogpost demonstrates above, there has been no shortage of appeals, calling for common sense and action, from scientists, scholars and activists. While we have been seeing growing interest in global campaigns like Earth Hour and Earth Day, there is still very little action or voters-reaction from the average population, the mainstream, the silent majority.

On the contrary, denial (“climate change is crap”, “it’s a Chinese hoax”), and apathy (“we are f*cked, so who cares”), appears to be the two most typical reactions to the topic. Certainly the two most predominant narratives in the Australian society.

The scientific fact that over 93 percent of the global warming takes place in the oceans, while only a few percent in the atmosphere, and the consequences of this fact, is rarely mentioned, and often misunderstood.

After two centuries of continuous unregulated air pollution, which has been rising in volume year after year and which keeps warming the oceans, and after decades of warnings from the science community about what this will mean for the world’s coral reefs, when the first video footage ticked in in 2016 showing that the Great Barrier Reef is dying, the media responded as if everyone was taken by surprise and in shock. “How can this be happening?!”

Eventually, after weeks of reporting and numerous upset letters to the editor and debates on tv, the responsible politicians still did… nothing! Still after all these years of warnings, nothing changed. On the contrary, they allow the climate-and eco-system destroying pollution to continue to grow – and even subsidise new coal and gas projects.

Our irresponsible leaders who deliberately have been procrastinating on the issue literally have blood on their hands. The World Health Organisation estimated in 2005 that climate change was already causing 150,000 deaths per year as of the year 2000. Air pollution levels remain dangerously high in many parts of the world. Data from WHO shows that nine out of ten people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. Updated estimations reveal an alarming death toll of seven million people every year caused by outdoor and household air pollution.

The DARA 2012 Report, which was commissioned by 20 countries, estimated that,

“Climate change causes 400,000 deaths on average each year today, mainly due to hunger and communicable diseases that affect above all children in developing countries. Our present carbon-intensive energy system and related activities cause an estimates 4.5 million deaths each year linked to air pollution, hazardous occupations and cancer…

Continuing today’s patterns of carbon-intensive energy use is estimated, together with climate change, to cause five million deaths per year by 2030, close to 700,000 of which would be due to climate change. This implies that a combined climate-carbon crisis is estimated to claim 100 million lives between now and the end of the next decade. A significant share of the global population would be directly affected by inaction on climate change.”
~ DARA: ‘Climate Vulnerability Monitor – A guide to the cold calculus of a hot planet’, 2012, Executive Summary pp2-3, and Reuters: ‘100 mln to die by 2030 if world fails to act on climate’ on 28 September 2012.



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Book about the Australian climate history

A decade ago, the award-winning climate scientist Joelle Gergis from the University of Melbourne set out to resolve this question by reconstructing Australia’s climate history for much of the last thousand years. In this video, Dr Joëlle Gergis talks with Nate Byrne on ABC News Breakfast.

Published by Melbourne University Publishing on youtube.com on 11 April 2018

Dr Joëlle Gergis: ‘Sunburnt Country – The History and Future of Climate Change in Australia’

What does climate change in Australia really look like?
What was Australia’s climate like before official weather records began? How do scientists use tree-rings, ice cores and tropical corals to retrace the past? What do Indigenous seasonal calendars reveal? And what do settler diary entries about rainfall, droughts, bushfires and snowfalls tell us about natural climate cycles? ‘Sunburnt Country’ pieces together Australia’s climate history for the first time. It uncovers a continent long vulnerable to climate extremes and variability. It gives an unparalleled perspective on how human activities have altered patterns that have been with us for millions of years, and what climate change looks like in our own backyard. Sunburnt Country highlights the impact of a warming planet on Australian lifestyles and ecosystems and the power we all have to shape future life on Earth.

» Read more




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STATE OF THE CLIMATE

Where we have come to today

“The World Meteorological Organisation’s assessment of the climate in 2016 reports unprecedented heat across the globe, exceptionally low ice at both poles and surging sea-level rise.”

» The Guardian – 21 March 2017:
Record-breaking climate change pushes world into ‘uncharted territory’
“Earth is a planet in upheaval, say scientists, as the World Meteorological Organisation publishes analysis of recent heat highs and ice lows”

» SBS / AAP – 20 March 2017:
Energy shift must start soon: reports
“Two international bodies say the world needs to swiftly shift energy production away from fossil fuels if it is to prevent a dangerous increase in temperatures.”





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protectthereef-billboard-truck560

Stop digging for coal and drilling for oil and gas

In our response to the scientists warnings, we could have chosen differently. All new fossil fuel projects could be banned with the stroke of the pen, if only the political will was there. Starting 30-40 years ago, we – the global community – could have regulated our way out of it by simply putting a price on greenhouse gas pollution and making it increasingly expensive to put those dangerous gasses into the atmosphere, and be supporting and encouraging the development of clean energy technologies, battery storage, and so on. We could have said that we wanted to protect the ‘common good’ which one would have thought the Earth’s atmosphere could be classified as.

But no, we decided to do the exact opposite. In 2015, the IMF revealed that on a global scale, during that year governments subsidised fossil fuels by the tune of $10 million dollars a minute. Their revelation found that the $5.3 trillion subsidy estimate for 2015 was greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments.

The world’s major fossil fuel companies decided to pretend climate change wasn’t happening and that the climate scientists’ models were wrong, and they knew that politicians could be bought.

If for that reason we can’t get out elected leaders to act, and to protect our livelihood and the common good, because they are too entrenched with the fossil fuel industry, then we need to become politicians ourselves.

In Queensland, politicians continue to encourage and support the construction of the world’s largest coal mine. They allow gas fracking companies to pump chemicals into the ground to drill for gas. In the Australian Bight companies also want to start drilling for oil. Governments plan to build new gas-fired power plants and even coal-fired power plants, while new pipelines are invested in and rolled out.

The only reason this can be happening in 2017, eight years after the big United Nations’ Climate Summit in Copenhagen, and 30-50 years after the many other warnings humanity has been given, is a very fundamental human greed and selfishness which we – as a whole – allow. To be polluting the air for personal gain has the blessing of our regulators.

Owners of the fossil fuel industry have been successful in tranquillising the population to believe everything is just fine, as a way to protect their economic investments. They are fully aware they are putting our entire civilisation at risk, while a dysfunctional media sector in large parts either hasn’t understood or deliberately ignores what really has been going on during the last five decades. Either it would be because they just don’t think readers, listeners and viewers would want to know about this – the “It-is-too-big-anyway syndrome” – or because the journalists and editors are aware that they work in media organisations which are either owned by fossil fuel barons, or have a board of directors which has been hijacked by fossil fuel lobbyists.

It’s been fossil fuel crunch time for half a century. Yet we pretend to be surprised when ecological disasters and extreme weather events that scientists warned us about back then, now are beginning to happen and at a much faster rate with much greater impacts than the scientists had anticipated. It is frightening, because what it means, if we for a moment look up and face reality, is that we’ve missed the boat to avoid climate change. The only question that remains now is whether we will wake up in time to avoid the worst calamities of unstoppable runaway global warming that goes beyond temperature levels anyone would like to think of, beyond the threshold to supporting life on the planet in those numbers we are today.

This mentioned as background information for why we must demand of our politicians to ban all investments in fossil fuel projects. Right now there is a South Australian petition running which asks precisely for that:



No more bad investments

Petition to the Parliament of South Australia

“We petition you to enact legislation to ban all new investment in projects that contribute to global warming. Bans should apply immediately where safe alternatives are already available.

Climate impacts are already killing people and destroying ecosystems. Every new climate-damaging project you approve puts us all in even greater peril and makes recovery even harder. You are failing in your duty of care if you encourage or allow new projects that increase the risk of disastrous climate impacts. It is madness for us to allow governments to get away with putting us at risk. We deserve better.

As a first step, this ‘no more bad investment’ legislation should ban all new coal, oil, and gas projects within South Australia. No new gas-fired power stations. No new gas exploration or extraction projects. No drilling for oil in the Bight. No coal gasification.

The resultant market certainty would mean renewable energy and energy efficiency alternatives would rush to meet demand with little or no financial incentive from government.

Numerous companies are already vying to build solar thermal with storage, grid-level storage via batteries or pumped hydro, and more solar and wind power to operate in conjunction with that storage. Similarly, innovations in all the other climate-damaging sectors of the economy will emerge once there is legislative certainty.

There is no need to put our people and ecosystems at greater risk by allowing investment in climate-damaging projects. We can power our state without sacrificing our future.”


» Sign the petition



“You can resist an invading army. You cannot resist an idea whose time has come.”

Victor Hugo (1802-1885), French author





Climate-hacking or technofix: “No paths that won’t involve severe consequences”

The 2015 Paris Agreement aims to keep the global temperature rise “well below” 2°C degrees, and hopefully 1.5 degrees. But [University of Melbourne climate scientist David] Karoly says the current commitments on the table would still lead to substantially more than 2.5 degrees, and “possibly even as much as 3 degrees of warming”. And that’s assuming countries actually meet their pledges.

There are strong arguments that geoengineering is looking more likely whatever happens with the Paris Agreement. Almost all modelling of the IPCC’s scenarios to limit warming to 1.5 degrees assumes some kind of planetary technofix to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. If we’re fixated on a temperature target, solar geoengineering – [reflecting or diffusing sunlight for instance by spraying sulphate aerosols into the upper atmosphere] – could be another “alternative” method to achieve it.

On the other hand, if US President Trump gets his way and Paris unravels, emissions and temperatures could rise even faster. As the only way to cool the planet quickly, geoengineering could be needed as an emergency response.

The biggest fear behind these “necessary evil” arguments is crossing irreversible climate change tipping points. An often-cited example is the thawing of perpetually frozen ground, called permafrost. If the Arctic permafrost melts, it could release tremendous amounts of greenhouse gases.

The problem is we don’t know exactly where these tipping points lie. There’s an argument that “moderate” solar geoengineering could reduce the risk of crossing them by lowering the peak global temperature rise this century, or slowing the rate of change.

But solar geoengineering also introduces entirely novel risks. David Karoly says spraying sulphate aerosols in the stratosphere would deplete the ozone layer, leading to more skin cancer and changed rainfall patterns over the tropics, causing drought. “Major volcanic eruptions like Mount Pinatubo did globally reduce rainfall.”

Despite these dangers, some climate activists are calling for more research into the technique. David Spratt, co-author of Climate Code Red, acknowledges all the concerns but still says we need to at least consider it. “There is a compelling need to cool the planet, and prevent us going past further significant tipping points,” he explains. “The brutal fact is there are no clear easy paths out of this, and there are no paths that won’t involve severe consequences.”

Back in 1965, the scientific advisers to President Johnson wrote that burning fossil fuels would cause significant rises in temperature. “Through his worldwide industrial civilisation, Man is unwittingly conducting a vast geophysical experiment.” In decades hence, will we choose to counteract that massive global experiment with another?
~ Greg Foyster

» The Saturday Paper – 18 March 2017:
Geoengineering against climate change
“While some scientists claim solar geoengineering could be our last, best hope to deal with climate change, others say it will open the door to entirely new risks.”

» The Guardian – 29 March 2017:
Fear of solar geoengineering is healthy – but don’t distort our research
“Models suggest solar geoengineering could reduce climate change and our independently assessed studies are vital to understanding its full potential.”



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“Unlike any movement I can think of, environmentalism is a science-based movement.”
~ Denis Hayes, president of the Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation who as a Stanford law student helped organise the first Earth Day in 1970.



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“Already the desert is extending, waterways are drying, Arctic ice is melting at an alarming rate. We are standing on the threshold of an ecological apocalypse. Climate change is an atom bomb waiting to explode.”

“We are gathered here today not against ISIS terrorists. We are gathered here against economic terrorists and ecological terrorists.”
~ Charles Bo, cardinal of Myanmar, speaking to 132 participants of a religious conference in Yangon on 27 February 2017



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“A brighter, better future, powered by sun, wind and waves, is just around the corner. But it requires a unified movement, determination and most importantly, the support of people like you.”

~ Kelly O’Shanassy Australian Conservation Foundation



We must fight for a solar civilization

How can renewables help to create a better civilization?

By Dr Jeremy Leggett

I speak today about the wider context of all the wonderful innovation and creative disruption we are hearing about from around the world at this inspiring event, [the Start Up Energy Transition Tech Festival in Berlin].

My message is about how to maximise its impact, in the singular times in which we live. The first is to inspire allcomers with what that civilization – let us a call it a solar civilization – looks and feels like. The second is to fight as hard for that vision as fossil-fuel diehards fight to keep alive their ruinous status quo.

We bring alive the solar civilization with every kind of renewable and/or efficient carbon-reducing installation we develop, finance, and construct. Each one – whether as small as a watt-scale solar lantern or as large as a gigawatt-scale renewable-energy park – increases climate resilience, air quality, prosperity, health, community, and common security, among other things. We need to instal more and more of them, faster and faster.

We must fight for a solar civilization by recognising the malign forces that are gaining ground in modern liberal democracies and confronting them with our vision. These forces – of nationalist, populist demagoguery, often led by aspiring despots – tend to back fossil fuels, and are often financed by diehard fossil-fuel interests. They tend to make no secret of the fact that they see us as their enemies, and we in return should not seek to appease them.

The business case for refusing to normalise these forces, never mind the social case, is absolutely clear today. The populists ask us to back fossil-fuel technologies that either are, or soon will be, more expensive than most of ours. These technologies will not help the poor in the long term, they will only enrich an elite few in the short term, and then only temporarily.

The duty to shareholders is increasingly clear. The populists ask them to take impossible risks of wasting capital and stranding assets. 

The duty to wider stakeholders is axiomatic. When the vast majority of scientists warn the populists that their actions risk the very liveability of the planet, they exercise perverse denial, reject and mock expertise, and deploy what they call alternative facts and we call lies.

SolarAid will be seeking to collaborate with any and all who agree with these sentiments in the battle ahead. We would love to hear from you if you think like us.


Dr Jeremy Leggett is author of the book ‘The Winning of the Carbon War’ and executive chair of SolarAid.

» www.jeremyleggett.net

» www.solar-aid.org



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“Good reasons for cautious optimism”

“Installation of renewables in the energy sector is doubling every five to six years and has been on this course for a decade. If we keep doubling at this pace, renewables will reach 100 percent before 2050. We can say good riddance to coal by around 2030, saving millions of lives as air quality improves. And bye-bye to oil by 2040. At this pace and scale, we can be close to carbon-free by 2050.”
Johan Rockstrom, director of Stockholm Resilience Center and professor of global sustainability at Stockholm University.

» The New York Times – 23 March 2017:
Why the World Economy Has to Be Carbon Free by 2050



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“As early as the mid-1960s, [they] planned their own business operations around rising seas and other harms from climate change, and yet engaged in a campaign to try to mislead the public about whether climate change was actually occurring.”

» PRI – 6 May 2018:
Lawsuits took down Big Tobacco. Can they make oil companies accountable for climate change?
“A growing list of US cities and counties are suing fossil fuel companies for damages linked to climate change.”



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» www.earthday.org


“If rhetoric cut emissions, we’d be carbon free already. But only action does.”

Joe Romm


“While science can provide the building blocks for understanding the impact and likelihood of climate change, it is important for citizens’ groups and individuals to provide the motivation for action.”

Dr Rajendra K. Pachauri, former chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change




» Global campaign site: www.marchforscience.com

» Australian campaign sige: www.marchforscienceaustralia.org

» Australian Facebook page: www.facebook.com/MarchForScienceAustralia

“It is time for scientists, science enthusiasts, and concerned citizens to come together to make ourselves heard.”

» The Guardian:
Global ‘March for Science’ protests call for action on climate change
“Tens of thousands rally across the world in a rebuke of Donald Trump’s dismissal of climate science”

» Washington Post:
Analysis | Historians say the March for Science is ‘pretty unprecedented’
“Historians say the March for Science stands out from past scientist protests because of its broad and sweeping goals.”

» The Guardian:
Earth Day 2017: ‘The experts are fighting back’
“With a climate-change sceptic in the White House, marchers worldwide are today spreading a message of hope that protest and science can save the world”

» The Conversation:
Peter Doherty: why Australia needs to march for science
“In its broadest sense, the March for Science aims to cause US legislators to reflect a little and understand what they risk if they choose to erode their global scientific leadership.”


» Twitter newsflow: #MarchforScienceAustralia   #MarchforScience

» See also: #StandUpForScience   #Science   #ClimateScience   #Renewables   #NoMoreBadInvestments   #StopAdani   #PriceOnCoal   #ActOnClimate   #ChangeClimateChange   #ClimateAction   #ClimateSolutions