NYT Editorialon US mid-term election result implications for climate policy.
Meanwhile, this blog shows that oil production has unexpectedly reached 100 million barrels per day, a figure thought to be impossible as conventional oil supplies decline. The continued growth in oil use and hence CO2 emission, has been because of fracking unconventional supplies. 10 billion barrels per day from fracking come from the USA whose president opts his country out of the Paris Climate Agreement.
This Guardian article deals with a new form of activism planned in an effort to get the UK government to take climate change seriously. Rowan Williams the former Archbishop of Canterbury is one of the high profile advocates of direct action that will take to the streets on 17 November 2018.
Here are three statements from participants:
“Once you face and feel the shock of what we are facing, if you are willing to face the grief and can process those feelings, there is tremendous energy and a will to do what it takes. So that is what we have been asking people, to be willing to look at the truth of our predicament and grieve.
And something is starting to change. There is a still a disconnect between how bad things are and the action that needs to happen. But that gap is narrowing. There are more significant people starting to break ranks, both breaking from their institutions and breaking from their individual lives.
For me it goes beyond the idea of protecting my life as a privileged individual, or even the idea of protecting my children’s future to a deeper need to have been a good ancestor to future generations, to know that I did my best when the big challenge came.”
“I have no formal background in environmental issues and am fairly senior in my organisation. But unlike some academics I have taken the time to look properly at the evidence and have come to the clear conclusion that we are facing an imminent and potentially catastrophic climate emergency.
It has led me to re-evaluate what I am doing and why I am doing it. I am a career academic but in the face of what is likely about to happen to us I have to reconsider my priorities. I have children and I feel incredibly conflicted continuing in a ‘business as usual’ national setting, getting up and going to work when just around the corner there is a future for my children that is not the kind of future they believe they are working towards. If I am honest, it really breaks my heart. I have to ask myself, can I continue to do with integrity what I am doing when I know what is about to happen?
I am therefore asking myself, am I prepared to protest?Am I prepared to go to jail? And these are questions I am hoping many more people start to engage with. There will not be an opportunity for a ‘lessons learned’ scenario if we don’t act or if we get this wrong – there will not be an opportunity to repent at leisure.
If you understand the science, and I would put myself in that category, then I think there is an obligation to act – we are entitled to rebel because our interests are not being met. My levels of optimism are not high and this may not work but we must have the courage to try.”
This is an emergency, an unprecedented emergency. It dwarfs any other emergency we’ve known, including even World War II. And we will be judged by our children by how we respond in this emergency. Not by what are, in comparison, just distractions: such as Brexit. To future generations I would say that we are trying. Those of us who are joining this rebellion, and the many who support us, are really trying. If we fail you, it wasn’t for lack of effort.”
“As mammals whose primary calling is to care for our kids, it is therefore logical that an outright existential threat to their future, and to that of their children, must be resisted and rebelled against, no matter what the pitifully inadequate laws of our land say.
But the Extinction Rebellion seems to me the most compelling cause of them all. Unless we manage to do the near impossible, then after a period of a few decades at most there won’t be any other causes to engage with. It really now is as stark and as dark as that.
If you too feel the call, then I think you now know what to do”.
This article by Roy Scranton (author of Learning to die in the Anthropocene: reflections on the end of a civilization. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2015) draws an analogy between the relief of suffering for dying individuals and palliative care for our species as the terminal phases of our current civilisation approaches. Here is a taster:
Like a gravely ill patient trying to remain alive, our whole world is struggling to find a silver bullet.
Our economic models are not working,
Our political structures are corrupted,
Our ability to respond and adapt to our rapidly decaying environment is wanting.
We worry about the many threats to our civilization but seem to be stubbornly confident that they will find the path to salvation.
Pundits of all stripes peddle their solutions, their prescriptions.
Economists invoke the invisible hand,
The devout pin their hopes on the divine and
Scientists assure us that – given enough funding –
They may all be deluding themselves, and us. Our proposed cures may provoke only more suffering …
In 2008, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimated that it would take US$30 billion in aid annually to eradicate hunger in the world. As of September of the following year, we had already injected over US$17 trillion into the private banking system in an effort to cure the financial crisis – enough to save the world from hunger for 600 years! 6 We can no longer say we cannot afford it.
This articlewas published in 2017 in the journal BioScience. It was endorsed by 15000 scientist signatories and contains the following extract:
Humanity is now being given a second notice, as illustrated by these alarming trends (figure 1). 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 (Crist et al. 2017). By failing to adequately to
limit population growth,
reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth,
reduce greenhouse gases,
incentivize renewable energy,
halt defaunation, and
constrain invasive alien species,
humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.
As most political leaders respond to pressure, scientists, media influencers, and lay citizens must insist that their governments take immediate action as a moral imperative to current and future generations of human and other life. With a groundswell of organized grassroots efforts, dogged opposition can be overcome and political leaders compelled to do the right thing. It is also time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors, including limiting our own reproduction (ideally to replacement level at most) and drastically diminishing our per capita consumption of fossil fuels, meat, and other resources.
This articledescribes the first legal success – in the Netherlands – in bringing a government to account for failing to act to ameliorate the emissions of greenhouse gases that are leading to climate disruption and global warming. The legal success was based on human rights legislation, the case being presented as a breach of human rights by the failure to act on the non-binding commitments of the Paris Climate Agreement. Thus this is a landmark decision. The article is written by an academic from the University of Bristol and published in The Conversation, a website for academic journalism
This articleon new research from the Oxford Martin Centre Programme on the Future of Food, University of Oxford suggests that by 2050 the limits of the earth’s capacity to provide sufficient food will be exceeded unless globally coordinated changes in food production, consumption and waste are implemented. The study is not simply centred on climate change effects of of agricultural activity, but also on the consequences of the spread of western-style diets combined with the expected additional growth of human population of well over a billion extra mouths to feed.
The global food system has a lot to answer for. It is a major driver of climate change, thanks to everything from deforestation to cows burping. Food production also transforms biodiverse landscapes into fields inhabited by a single crop or animal. It depletes valuable freshwater resources, and even pollutes ecosystems when fertilisers and manure washed into streams and rivers.
The planet can only take so much of this stress. Staying within its environmental limits will require a global shift towards healthy and more plant-based diets, halving food loss and waste, and improving farming practices and technologies. That’s what a team of international researchers and I found in a new study published in the journal Nature
Without concerted action, we estimated that the environmental pressure of the food system could increase by 50-90% by 2050 as a result of population growth and the continued Westernisation of diets. At that point, those environmental pressures would exceed key planetary boundaries that define a safe operating space for humanity.
SUFFICIENTARIANISM – Sufficientarianism is a theory of distributive justice. Rather than being concerned with inequalities as such or with making the situation of the least well off as good as possible, sufficientarian justice aims at making sure that each of us has enough.
Johan Rockström, former Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and now at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and Ottmar Edenhofer his co-Director in Potsdam make the case in this Guardian opinion piece for an immediate hike in carbon tax (on carbon emissions) world wide if there is to be any hope of limiting global warming and avoiding widespread catastrophe.
Their proposal (JUST ONE OF MANY SUCH SEEMINGLY WILDLY IMPROBABLE ECONOMIC CHANGES NEEDED TO ADDRESS THE HUGE PROBLEM GIVEN ‘FREE-MARKET’ BELIEFS) follows the issue of the latest UN IPCC Report featured in my last blog.
“New global policies such as carbon pricing are needed if we are to avoid an apocalyptic increase in temperature
The already existing and planned coal-fired plants would roughly emit 330 gigatonnes of CO2 over their economic lifetime, which always exceeds 15 years. They alone would exhaust almost the whole available carbon budget for the 1.5C scenario.
Investment decisions have to be reversed now, otherwise the world economy will be locked in to a carbon-intensive pathway. To avert this, the right policies must be put in place immediately.
The climate summit in Katowice, PolandInvestment decisions have to be reversed now, otherwise the world economy will be locked in to a carbon-intensive pathway. To avert this, the right policies must be put in place immediately., in December will conclude that the voluntary contributions of the governments are currently insufficient to put the world on a 2C, let alone 1.5C, trajectory. Policies to intensify efforts are necessary. All nations need to revise their mitigation targets to accommodate the more rapid emission reductions required to truly stay well below 2C.
New global policies are needed. One such policy would be a carbon price starting around €30 per tonne of CO2, which would very likely render investments in coal-fired plants unprofitable. Zero-carbon mobility, such as electric cars, could then become an attractive option as consumers would expect an increasing carbon price, and the internal combustion engine would gradually be phased out.
Carbon pricing would be a credible signal to investors that governments are willing to act now. Governments, policymakers and civil society should heed the warnings of the IPCC report and take action immediately.”