2020 deadline on climate change

The UN Secretary General Antonio Gutterres has issued a stark warning  about the failure of humanity to act in the face of the rapidity of climate change arising from human activity. This article from the BBC website describes the Secretary General’s warning,

He wants heads of government to come to New York for a special climate conference next September. The call comes amid growing concerns over the slow pace of UN negotiations. Mr Guterres painted a grim picture of the impacts of climate change that he says have been felt all over the world this year, with heatwaves, wildfires, storms and floods leaving a trail of destruction. Corals are dying, he said, the oceans are becoming more acidic, and there are growing conflicts over dwindling resources. Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are at their highest level in three million years.

Despite the fact that the world agreed on a plan to tackle climate change in Paris in 2015, Mr Guterres said the world is way off track to achieve the modest goals of the pact.

Ecological repair

This article is from an Argentinian-based website. It offers a concise summary of the way that the private economy that serves wealth seekers has come to dominate the regulation of the public economy by which governments serve the general good of all citizens. Private business ignores what is termed mega-externalities such as toxic effects on society and the environment. The search for profit takes precedence and government regulation is stymied by corporate influence over political systems.

third category of economica activity is described as the core economy that is essentially local and small scale. It offers employment in a way that corporate systems fail to so and also offers hope of ecological repair of the damage to ecosystems that has resulted from large-scale impact on the planet of the financial capitalist private economy that hass accelerated enormously since the 1950s.

Arctic ocean warming

New research from Yale oceanographers has revealed a build-up of heat in the deeper levels of the Arctic Ocean that may trigger a massive melting of the sea ice above.

The research team analysed temperature data on the Canada Basin taken over the last 30 years, and found that the amount of heat in the warmest part of the water had effectively doubled in the period 1987 to 2017.

This 30-year doubling (growth rate of between 2-3% per annum) coincides with the Great Acceleration of the impact of so many human activities at a planetary scale. In this case it is the hydrosphere and the cryosphere that are being impacted, but the connection to what is happening to the global atmosphere is obvious. The parallel increases in greenhouse gas emissions arising from fossil fuel use has many effects, just as has the massive addition of plastics to the natural environment and many other synthetic chemicals . As humans strive for wealth and accelerated consumption of technologically created goods and services, many UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES  tend to follow. A small number of scientists reveal these but the rush for ‘development’ understood as ever-increasing GDP growth, continues to accelerate as human population adds an extra 1 billion humans to an overloaded planet in the next 14 or so years.

Coastal erosion in the Arctic a new concern – report on new research.

Rapping from Me to We

This  video is targeted on secondary school learners to encourage debate about the concept of homo economicus at the core of the model of classical economics. Ego-driven competition and a price for everything is the implied assumption of human nature behind homo economicus  which overlooks other aspects of humanity such as altruism, cooperation and things that cannot be priced.  Presented in the form of puppets as rap lyrics, the creative video tries to move thinking about human nature from selfish ME to a collective concern about WE. It is 6 minutes long.

Bangkok prep for Katowice COP24

Here is the full UNFCCC news release.

I find it hard to share the optimism in this press release about the progress made towards the Paris Climate Agreement goals. December in nearby Katowice the centre of Polish coal production, will see yet another attempt to get agreement on limiting CO2 emissions that nee to be negative by 2015 if the targets are to be met for curbing global warming and all associated effects.

Against the backdrop of severe and record heatwaves, bushfires, droughts and floods across the world, governments are convening a supplementary meeting in Bangkok to prepare the implementation guidelines of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. The guidelines are needed to make the Paris Agreement work fairly and transparently for all.

Following a two-year negotiation process, the implementation guidelines are set to be adopted at the annual climate conference, COP24, to be held in Katowice, Poland in December.

While the talks have made modest progress, the Bangkok meeting is the last opportunity before COP24 to accelerate negotiations.

About the UNFCCC

With 197 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.

See also: http://unfccc.int


This article from BioScience updates a warning given  in 1992 by 1700 scientist about the trajectories leading to environmental destruction. This updated warning was endorsed by 15000 scientists when published in December 2017. Here are the opening paragraphs:

Twenty-five years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists and more than 1700 independent scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences, penned the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” (see supplemental file S1). These concerned professionals called on humankind to curtail environmental destruction and cautioned that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.” In their manifesto, they showed that humans were on a collision course with the natural world. They expressed concern about current, impending, or potential damage on planet Earth involving ozone depletion, freshwater availability, marine life depletion, ocean dead zones, forest loss, biodiversity destruction, climate change, and continued human population growth. They proclaimed that fundamental changes were urgently needed to avoid the consequences our present course would bring.

The authors of the 1992 declaration feared that humanity was pushing Earth’s ecosystems beyond their capacities to support the web of life. They described how we are fast approaching many of the limits of what the ­biosphere can tolerate ­without ­substantial and irreversible harm. The scientists pleaded that we stabilize the human population, describing how our large numbers—swelled by another 2 billion people since 1992, a 35 percent increase—exert stresses on Earth that can overwhelm other efforts to realize a sustainable future (Crist et al. 2017). They implored that we cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and phase out fossil fuels, reduce deforestation, and reverse the trend of collapsing biodiversity.

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of their call, we look back at their warning and evaluate the human response by exploring available time-series data. Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse (figure 1file S1). Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change due to rising GHGs from burning fossil fuels (Hansen et al. 2013), deforestation (Keenan et al. 2015), and agricultural production—particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption (Ripple et al. 2014). 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.