Saving this for posterity
The vast majority of scientists on the planet have been warning us for years about global warming but many people still don’t believe it. They are like the proverbial frog being boiled alive. Unfortunately, all of us are that darned boiling frog.
Sept 22, 2019
If greenhouse gas emissions do not start falling soon there will be ‘hell to pay’, researchers warn.
The report “highlights the urgent need for the development of concrete actions that halt global warming and the worst effects of climate change,” said its authors of the Science Advisory Group to the summit.
The average global temperature between 2015 and 2019 is on track to be the hottest of any five-year period on record, according to the report, which was compiled by the World Meteorological Organization.
The period “is currently estimated to be 1.1 degrees Celsius [34F] above pre-industrial [1850-1900] times and 0.2 degrees Celsius [32.4F] warmer than 2011-2015,” it said.
The past four years were already the hottest since records began in 1850.
“I think the danger is growing – that means we have much less time to solve the problem than we thought we had. Basically if we want to tackle climate change, we have stop burning fossil fuels,” Tom Burke, chairman of anti-carbon group E3G, told Al Jazeera.
Guterres said last week the world was “losing the race” on climate change with the latest report spelling out the extent to which the gap between what is required and what is happening is widening.
Rather than falling, carbon dioxide grew two percent in 2018, reaching a record high of 37 billion tonnes.
More importantly, there is also no sign yet of reaching what is known as “peak emissions”, the point at which levels will start to fall, though these are not growing at the same rate as the global economy.
Patrick Verkooijen, chief executive of the Global Centre on Adaptation, told Al Jazeera that governments needed to show more ambition on their commitments – not only in mitigation, but also in investments for adaptation.
“The effects of climate change are here and now,” Verkooijen said from New York. “Whether you are an auto worker in Bangkok or a farmer in Africa or an elderly woman in Paris we are all impacted by climate change today.”
The 2015 Paris Agreement saw countries lay out national targets to reduce their emissions in order to limit long-term temperature rise by either 2C (35.6F) or 1.5C (34.7F).
These are benchmarks that will limit in important ways the effect of warming on world weather systems.
But even if all countries meet the goals they set themselves, the world will warm by 2.9C (37.2F) to 3.4C (38.1F), the report found.
The current levels of ambition would need to be tripled to meet the 2C goal and increased five-fold to meet the 1.5C goal – technically still possible.
“This reads like a credit card statement after a five-year long spending binge,” said Professor Dave Reay, chair in Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh.
“Our global carbon credit is maxed out. If emissions don’t start falling there will be hell to pay.”
If the world keeps temperatures to the 1.5C goal instead of the 2C, 420 million fewer people will be exposed to heat waves and 10 million fewer will be vulnerable to sea level rise, NASA climate scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig said on Sunday at a UN session.
In 2018, global carbon dioxide was 407.8 parts per million (ppm), 2.2 ppm higher than 2017 and set to reach or exceed 410 ppm by 2019.
“The last time Earth’s atmosphere contained 400 parts per million CO2 was about 3-5 million years ago,” the report said.
At that time, global mean surface temperatures were 2C to 3C (35.6F to 37.4F) warmer, ice sheets at both poles melted, and seas were 10 to 20 metres higher.
Other major findings show that the extent of Arctic summer sea ice has declined at a rate of 12 percent every 10 years over the past 40 years, with the four lowest values recorded between 2015 and 2019.
Overall, the amount of ice lost from the Antarctic ice sheet increased by a factor of six each year between 1979 and 2017, while glacier loss for 2015-2019 was also the highest for any five-year period on record.
Sea level-rise is also accelerating as is the process of acidification, with an increase of 26 percent in acidity today compared with pre-industrial periods, as a result of absorbing increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The report also found that heatwaves were the deadliest weather hazard in the 2015-2019 period, affecting all continents and setting new national temperature records.
The summer of 2019, which included July as the hottest ever month on record, saw unprecedented wildfires in the Arctic.
In June, these were responsible for emitting 50 megatonnes of carbon dioxide.
The report also comes at a time of increasing mobilisation over the question of climate change with millions taking part in a youth-led global strike on Friday, before the first UN youth climate summit on Saturday.
“We deserve a safe future. And we demand a safe future.” – @GretaThunberg, climate activist.
Millions of people around the world, from New York to Paris, Nairobi, Seoul, Bangkok, Islamabad and Johannesburg, have taken part in a global protest, calling for climate action.
Guterres wants nations to be carbon-neutral by 2050 – in other words, they will not add more heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the air than are removed by plants and perhaps technology each year.
There is a sense of urgency, Guterres said, because “climate change is the defining issue of our time”.
“For the first time, there is a serious conflict between people and nature, between people and the planet,” the UN chief said.
A larger, more international report looking at climate change and oceans and ice will be released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Wednesday.
“This new WMO report highlights the importance of making more progress on reducing emissions of carbon dioxide,” Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald said.
“Hopefully this latest UN Climate Summit will motivate more action.”
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES
From 3 Sep 2012
By Emily Smith and Ebony Bowden, PageSix.com
Aug 1, 2019
The world’s rich and famous have flocked to a posh Italian resort to talk about saving Mother Earth — but they sure are punishing her in the process.
The billionaire creators of Google have invited a who’s who of A-list names — including former President Barack Obama, Prince Harry, Leonardo DiCaprio and Katy Perry — to the Sicilian seaside for a mega-party they’ve dubbed Google Camp.
The three-day event will focus on fighting climate change — though it’s unknown how much time the attendees will spend discussing their own effect on the environment, such as the scores of private jets they arrived in and the mega yachts many have been staying on.
“Everything is about global warming, that is the major topic this year,” a source told The Post.
Their three-day summer camp will cost the tech giant some $20 million, sources said.
Many of the guests, including Obama and DiCaprio — who has his own climate change foundation — have described global warming as the biggest threat to future generations.
But according to Italian press reports, the attendees were expected to show up in 114 private jets, and 40 had arrived by Sunday.
The Post crunched the numbers and found that 114 flights from Los Angeles to Palermo, Italy, where Camp guests landed, would spew an estimated 100,000 kilograms of CO2 into the air.
“Google Camp is meant to be a place where influential people get together to discuss how to make the world better,” one regular attendee told The Post.
“There will likely be discussions about online privacy, politics, human rights, and of course, the environment, which makes it highly ironic that this event requires 114 private jets to happen,” they said.
Attendees pay for their own travel to Sicily, but then Google foots the bill for everything at the opulent Verdura Resort, which reportedly features two golf courses and where rooms start at $903 a night.
Sources tell The Post that guests were personally invited by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Stars there also include Harry Styles, Orlando Bloom, Diane von Furstenberg and Barry Diller, who arrived on their enormous $200 million yacht Eos, which has both sails and two 2,300-horsepower diesel engines.
Billionaire Dreamworks founder David Geffen, meanwhile, gave Perry and Bloom a ride on his $400 million yacht, Rising Sun.
Also on hand for the environmental gabfest was the megayacht Andromeda, a 351-foot behemoth owned by a New Zealand billionaire and which features its own helipad.
Many of the attendees were seen in photos tooling around the island in high-speed sports vehicles, including Perry, who has made videos for UNICEF about climate change and was seen in a Maserati SUV that gets about 15 mpg city.
Stella McCartney, Bradley Cooper, Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra plus Gayle King will also be on hand. Even Mark Zuckerberg of Google’s rival, Facebook, was invited, according to local reports.
Guests dine among ancient temples and are treated to performances by the likes of Sting, Elton John and Coldplay’s Chris Martin, before retiring to their suites at the Verdura Resort.
The tech company goes to extreme measures to keep its camp a secret — all hotel staff and security have to sign non-disclosure agreements, a source told the Daily Mail in 2018.
Pics added by Tales
With permission from
December 21, 2018
So…here we are, only a year away from 2020 and contemplating another year in the struggle for survival. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says we’ve got about 12 years to turn this climate change thing around and that’s just to avoid catastrophe, never mind guaranteeing a healthy planet in the future. Such a catastrophe could well involve the extinction of human beings, which would reveal just how dumb we are. Is there anything more stupid that the most intelligently-evolved species on the planet could do than commit mass suicide?
I am astounded at the tenacity, resilience and persistence of folks such as climate scientist James Hansen who, on behalf of future generations, have been shouting about the environmental threat since the late 1980s. And, since those days of his Congressional testimony Hansen, who worked for many years at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has courageously spread the word about climate change to fulfill part of NASA’s mission statement: To Understand and Protect the Home Planet.
Indeed, this was part of the mission statement of NASA until 2006 when those fateful words were quietly and very symbolically removed. Organizations such as the Union of Concerned Scientists were very disturbed about this development, noting at the time that research and funding opportunities related to earth science and climate change would be much harder to justify with NASA’s new focus solely on space exploration. Some may say it’s a bloody good job that we are learning more about life on other planets and how we can get there, given that a privileged bunch of us may have to flee this one at some point in the not-to-distant future. And, given the inequalities inherent in our current economic order, it will be only the rich that are saved. As for the poor and marginalized, they would be left behind to endure some sort of Mad Max-style barbarism and death.
At the recent climate summit in Poland, UN Secretary General António Guterres warned the plenary that ignoring the science is not just immoral, it’s “suicidal.” While we can feel some hope that the “High Ambition Coalition” of global North and several global South countries are committed to cutting their emissions in line with the 1.5 C temperature rise limit, there are some disturbing realities that must be confronted. Not to put too fine a point on it but achieving the 1.5C limit will require a global revolution. And it is not just about a revolution in technology. And it is certainly not about clever carbon emissions juggling and some tweaking of existing policy. It is fundamentally about recognizing that fossil capitalism, as Ian Angus calls it, is literally killing us.
This is not a new message for those on the environmental left, but for the global North mainstream, and perhaps particularly the Anglo-American portion of that mainstream, it is not an especially welcome message. Downsizing the “American way of life” implies not only radical changes to our daily consumption habits, including what we put on our plates, it also requires a radical ethos of solidarity and compassion that come into direct conflict with the individualist, competitive, growth-obsessed economic culture that dominates our societies. We are talking about a cultural shift that puts the health and welfare of people, communities and nature before profit and access to cheap “stuff.” It has almost become common place in environmental circles to point out that for everyone on the planet to live as we do in North America would require 3-5 planets. Last time I checked we only had one.
We need to directly confront the structural violence of contemporary capitalist institutional frameworks and processes brought to you by the world’s largest corporations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and the various not so “free” trade agreements dotting the planet (have you seen any workers freely crossing borders lately while capital springs around boundary-less?).
These institutions provide the stage and grease the wheels (literally!) for rampant overconsumption in the global North while promising this lifestyle for increasing numbers in the global South. As living a life of dignity becomes less possible in many countries of the global South and inequality reaches what Oxfam has called “obscene” levels, the ghosts of our failed economic model appear in the form of economic refugees knocking increasingly loudly on our door only to discover tear gas or a wall. It is crucial that we recognize the connections between our Monty Python-sized ecological footprint and the economic and environmental marginalization of a significant majority of humanity. Increasing numbers of people are simply becoming irrelevant to the global economy.
Remember when we used to have dreams about technological developments meaning that time could be freed up for human beings to more deeply pursue their potential by having more of the mundane, dirty and necessary jobs done by machines? But as authors such as Garry Leech note, the “logic of capital” means that these greater efficiencies are often simply about increasing rates of profit while providing access to cheap stuff. Still reeling from “Black Friday” and heading into the holiday buying season, it is all too clear how much we like our stuff.
From a political perspective, maybe the good news is that climate change could be the great equalizer. While the effects are being and will continue to be disproportionately experienced by the poor, women, and people of colour, ultimately none of us can escape its consequences. However, in rich capitalist countries, while we face neoliberal austerity and rising inequality, we still have enough material comfort to pacify most of the population and to blind many of us to the realities of capitalism at a global level, from which we cannot separate ourselves.
I recently spent some time living in Cuba, the only country in the world, according to the World Wildlife Foundation, to have achieved “sustainable development” and where the question of what a future relationship with the capitalist world will look like is being asked very intentionally. It occurred to me while there, that from the perspective of climate change, it is perhaps even more important for usto ask what kind of relationship we will have with capitalism in the future. While our immediate issues and priorities may be different from Cuba’s, the question of what kind of values we want to live by and stand for is something that we can decide consciously, and this may be the most significant question we have to ask in contemporary politics.
So, what is to be done? What are we not doing that we should be doing? When I asked Cuban permaculture expert Roberto Perez what we need to do and what we need to talk about in the current moment to create social change in the global North that would contribute to a more socially just and ecologically sustainable global order, he replied: “When creating a political movement, I always think that things have to be attractive and sexy. The end of the world is not sexy.” We have learned the hard way that simply presenting people with the hard facts of global poverty, unjust wars and environmental degradation does not always lead to behavioral changes. This work is important and needs to happen but there is more to the picture.
The difficult thing to digest is that all of us in the global North are implicated in the continuation of the current economic model. And not because we are bad people. In actual fact, that we are all “guilty” is also good news in the sense that it highlights how we are all interdependent because our activities, purchases and general lifestyles are intimately connected to the fates of other human beings both within our own countries and around the world. In other words, changing our ways can save lives and the planet.
It is due to the everyday lifestyle choices of those in the North, and increasing numbers in China and India, along with the “threat” of those aspiring to live like us, that the capitalist growth machine keeps going. Even when we “know” what the consequences will be, it is difficult to get off the consumption train because everything we do from driving a car, to buying a pair of shoes, to flying to visit our sick grandmother, to eating a cheeseburger turns the wheels. Some people bike to work, shop ethically, and boycott factory farms, among other things, but there is still an underlying awareness that none of us can completely step off the train unless perhaps we decide to live isolated in the middle of the woods. But even living in the woods won’t work because not taking action to stop the train is also a form of accepting it—and the consequences of climate change will still be felt, even in the woods.
So, if providing people with the terrifying “facts” does not necessarily change behavior then what are we missing? Are we all just increasingly depressed and feeling more and more impotent? It turns out that the idea of the world ending really isn’t sexy after all because the changes required of us mean confronting many of our daily habits and comforts—and the less politically-minded may ask, for what? Some vague hope that paying more for my locally-produced organic veggies will make a dent in industrial monoculture crop production? Or that not buying an iPad may contribute to improvements in human rights for Chinese workers? Or not going through the fast food drive-thru may contribute to ending the systematic cruelty of factory farms? Or biking to work (if that is even possible) may mean I don’t contribute so much to fossil fuel emissions? Or putting up solar panels, getting a windmill, exploring geothermal heating etc.? And which f—king toothpaste should I buy? Why are there 20 choices?
Is it surprising that 21st century activists, and those simply aspiring to be good citizens, are a tad neurotic? The list of places and moments where ethical choices present themselves is endless. And is it any coincidence that it seems to be largely the middle and upper classes that have these options? Living ethically in North America not only requires a budget but to some degree it requires the privilege of social capital. Again, it is no coincidence that lifestyle diseases such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes are disproportionately prevalent along race and class lines in North America.
Buddhist scholar and philosopher Joanna Macy suggests that what many of us see as apathy in our fellow citizens is actually pain avoidance. We don’t want to face our own pain and sadness and neither do we want to confront the collective pain of the broader culture we are a part of. While indigenous cultures can’t imagine seeing themselves as separate from nature and each other, those influenced by Western culture and Enlightenment thinking seem determined to see themselves as separate. This has allowed us to justify all kinds of exploitation of people, non-human animals and nature.
Yet at an existential level it saddens many of us deeply that football fields of deforestation are happening every several minutes in the Amazon, that millions of children unnecessarily go hungry every day, that increasing numbers of people are facing floods, heatwaves, forest fires, and that so many non-human animals face cruelty and torture, not to mention extinction on a daily basis, and so on. Roberto Perez believes that “people in the global North know that something is very wrong, they just don’t know where to start.”
Macy suggests that creating spaces to acknowledge this pain and building active hope are at least part of the solution. By active hope she means a hope that does not depend on believing you will meet your goal. It is a hope that believes in the process, in what we do together today. The point being that this is not an individual journey. Interdependence means that we can’t really get out of this mess without collectively shifting the culture and without coming to terms with the fact that many of us feel sadness about the various effects of our consumer capitalist culture from climate change to species extinction to glaring inequality to human rights abuses. And as Roberto reminded me, there are many of us around the world feeling this way. But if we are to avoid stupidly killing ourselves off, then we need to begin asking ourselves: What kind of revolution is required to ensure our continued existence on this planet?