Month: November 2017

Canada’s Leap Manifesto is not enough. #ClimateChange #NeoLiberalism #Auspold

Anti-racist Jewish Canadian activist and writer Naomi Klein is one of my heroines because of her resolute opposition in a series of popular books to the gross human rights abuses associated with neoliberalism, corporatism, globalization, war criminality and climate criminality [1-5].

Naomi Klein deserves great praise for overcoming tribal loyalties in supporting Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Apartheid Israel [6] and opposing the gross human rights abuses of Apartheid Israel and its ongoing Palestinian Genocide (ethnic cleansing of 90% of Palestine, 7 million Palestinian exiles, denial of all human rights to 5 million Occupied Palestinians highly abusively and indefinitely confined to the Gaza Concentration Camp (2 million) or to West Bank ghettoes (3 million), and 2 million Palestinian deaths from violence, 0.1 million, and imposed deprivation, 1.9 million, since WW1) [6].

Indeed Naomi Klein famously declared:

“There is a debate among Jews – I’m a Jew by the way.

The debate boils down to the question: “Never again to everyone, or never again to us? [Some Jews] even think we get one get-away-with-genocide-free card…There is another strain in the Jewish tradition that say[s], “Never again to anyone”” [7].

Naomi Klein’s “No Logo” attacks branding-based consumerism and unethical behaviour of corporations, notable in the low-wage Developing World [1]. The same anti-globalization theme is addressed in Naomi Klein’s compendium “Fences and Windows” [2]. Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine” exposes the callous but highly profitable exploitation of natural and man-made crises by governments and corporations [3]. “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate” by Naomi Klein exposes the dire impact on the environment of corporate greed, mendacity and lobbying [4].

Unfortunately not quantitatively explored in these books by non-scientist Naomi Klein are the greatest of the crimes of neoliberalism against Humanity from a numerical, scientific perspective, namely the ongoing Global Avoidable Mortality Holocaust (in which 17 million people, half of them children, die avoidably from deprivation each year in the Developing World minus China) [8], the ongoing disaster in which 7 million people die each year from air pollution that largely derives from burning carbon fuels [9], and a worsening climate genocide in which 10 billion may perish this century due to egregiously insufficient climate change action [10]. Our heroine Naomi Klein is on the board of the corporate-funded climate action organization 350 dot org that demands a return of the atmospheric CO2 concentration to 350 ppm CO2 from the present disastrous 405 ppm CO2, whereas numerous scientists and science-informed activists demand a return to 300 ppm CO2. Indeed the very fact that our activist heroes like Naomi Klein are visible means that the One Percenter Establishment and its corporate Mainstream media have permitted them to be so.

Naomi Klein’s latest book, “No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics” [5] is a demolition of Donald Trump’s crass neoliberalism, racism, misogyny, bigotry, bullying, war mongering, climate change denialism and primitive winding-back of hard-won rights of women, minorities, Humanity and the Biosphere. In Chapter 13, “Time to Leap because small steps won’t cut it” ([5], pages 231-256), Naomi Klein describes the genesis and significant adoption of “The Leap Manifesto. A Call for a Canada Based on Caring for the Earth and one Another” – a detailed proposal for collective action for positive social change in the face of a regressive, neo-fascist Trumpism and a worsening climate emergency. The book concludes on an optimistic note: “Faced with a grave common threat, we can choose to come together and make an evolutionary leap… Let’s leap” ([5], page 266). In a postscript Naomi Klein sets out the text of “The Leap Manifesto” ([5], pages 267-271).

Unfortunately, as set out below, The Leap Manifesto is not enough. Already at a temperature rise of +1C, Island Nations in the Caribbean and the Pacific are being devastated by global warming-exacerbated hurricanes and a temperature rise of +2C – regarded by all governments except the climate change denialist Trump Administration as catastrophic – is now unavoidable. All that decent, sane people can do is to try to make the future “less bad” for their children and for future generations.

This month over 15,000 scientists from 184 countries issued a dire warning to Humanity on catastrophic climate change and biodiversity loss, stating that “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” and that “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out”. They documented their case quantitatively by a Figure showing bad to disastrous trends in 9 out of 10 key areas from 1960 to 2016 [11]. Based on quasi-linear trajectories in the last decade one can extrapolate from this data to estimate the state of the world in 2040 if the current trends remain the same.

The change from 2016 to 2040 is estimated to be – 96.8% (annual increase in Ozone depletors – a good result showing that effective global action can happen), – 42.4% (freshwater resources per capita), – 23.0% (reconstructed marine catch), + 60.4% (number of hypoxic ocean dead zones), – 1.8% (total forest area), – 63.6% (vertebrate species abundance as a percentage of that in 1970), annual CO2 emissions up from 26.0 Gt CO2 to 51.1 Gt CO2, human population up from 7.2 billion to 10.3 billion, methanogenic ruminant livestock population up from 3.8 billion to 4.7 billion, and global warming up from +1C to + 2.2C [12], noting that all governments are agreed than a +2C rise would be catastrophic and the Paris Agreement aims at no more than +1.5C to +2C. Even at the present +1C Island Nations and mega-delta countries are being devastated by global warming-exacerbated storms and sea surges i.e. catastrophe is being experience by many people already around the world.

Urgently needed in addressing this present and worsening existential crisis for Humanity and the Biosphere in Canada and the World are the following:

(1) a peaceful Climate Revolution and negative greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution, with reduction of atmospheric CO2 to a safe level of about 300 ppm CO2 involving re-afforestation, biochar and other processes (e.g. Accelerated Weathering of Limestone) coupled with correspondingly rapid cessation of GHG pollution, fossil fuel burning, fossil fuel subsidies, deforestation, methanogenic livestock production, and population growth;

(2) a rapid switch to the best non-carbon and renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tide and hydro options) and to waste avoidance, energy efficiency, public transport, sufficiency and needs-based production;

(3) rigorous address of Carbon Debt via a Carbon Tax involving a fully-applied, damage-related Carbon Price ($200 per tonne CO2-equivalent), divestment from fossil fuels, and intra-national and international judicial processes to severely punish environmental vandals and climate criminals by dispossession and custodial punishment;

(4) replacement of neoliberalism with sustainable social humanism (socialism, eco-socialism, welfare state) for the common good coupled with zero tolerance for lying, Indigenous Rights, Indigenous People-informed love of nature, preventive medicine, minimizing preventable deaths, enhanced socially beneficial employment (e.g. feeding, housing, protecting, moving, needs-based manufacturing, enabling, caring, teaching, health and culture);

(5) an annual wealth tax, life-long universal free education (pre-school, primary, secondary, tertiary and life-long education), universal free health and a universal basic income to abolish anti-democracy wealth inequity and the global avoidable mortality holocaust (17 million avoidable deaths from deprivation annually);

(6) science-informed risk management with an end to racism, discrimination, corporate-driven Mainstream media lying, obscene military expenditure (at the expense of health, education), war, genocide, avoidable mass mortality, air pollution deaths (7 million annually), global warming, intergenerational injustice, intergenerational inequity, climate genocide (direst projection: 10 billion deaths this century from climate inaction), speciescide, ecocide, omnicide and terracide variously due to population increase and homicidally greedy and mendacious neoliberalism.

The proposals of The Leap Manifesto fall far short of the above list of what is urgently needed as set out below in (A) Things supported by the Leap Manifesto, (B) Things equivocally supported by The Leap Manifesto as subjects for debate, and (C) Things not even mentioned by The Leap Manifesto (comments are given in brackets with Manifesto quotes given in inverted commas):

(A) Things supported by the Leap Manifesto.

(1) Renewable energy-powered public transport (“accessible public transport” and “High-speed rail powered by renewables and affordable public transport”).

(2) Eliminate racism and discrimination (“systematically eliminate racial and gender inequality”).

(3) Low environmental impact but high social value jobs (“caring for one another and caring for the planet could be the economy’s fastest growing sectors” and “expanding the sectors of our economy that are already low carbon: caregiving, teaching, social work, the arts, and public-interest media”, although health is not mentioned; “”We want training and other resources for workers in carbon-intensive jobs , ensuring they are fully able to take part in the clean energy economy”).

(4) Indigenous Rights (“fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; these were initially rejected by the genocide-based colonial countries of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the US; this also carries the vital accession to the Indigenous Peoples’ philosophy of sustainability).

(5) Energy efficiency (“we want a universal program to build energy-efficient homes…”).

(6) End fossil fuel subsidies (“An end to fossil fuel subsidies” although no mention is made of the damage-related Carbon Price of $200 per tonne CO2-eqivalent that in the absence of a proper Carbon Tax means an annual global fossil fuel subsidy of $13 trillion each year [15]).

(7) Cut obscene military spending occurring at the expense of health, education etc. (“Cuts to military spending”; huge military expenditure domestically and in war is obscene, economy-perverting, and dirty GHG-wise with this official perversion being linked to huge preventable deaths in rich, war-making countries – thus annual preventable deaths from all kinds of preventable causes from smoking to suicide in the rich, war-making countries of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are 1.7 million, 150,000, 100,000, 85,000 and 17,000, respectively, or since 9-11 totalling 27.2 million, 2.4 million, 1.6 million, 1.4 million, and 0.3 million, respectively, as compared to 32 million Muslims killed by violence, 5 million, or imposed deprivation, 27 million, in 20 countries invaded by the US Alliance in the US War on Terror since the US Government’s 9-11 false flag atrocity) [16]).

(B) Things equivocally supported by The Leap Manifesto as subjects for debate or for relatively slow introduction.

(1) 100% renewable energy but slowly (“it is feasible for Canada to get 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources within 2 decades” – but many states will achieve this by 2020 [13].

(2) Cessation of greenhouse gas pollution (“by 2050 we could have a 100 percent clean economy” – but some plan to “cut carbon emissions 80% by 2020”).

(3) Green agriculture (“Moving to a far more localized and ecologically based agricultural system” – but no mention of the disaster of methanogenic livestock and attendant land clearing that contributes over 50% of annual GHG pollution).

(4) Higher taxes on the rich but no annual wealth tax (“Higher … taxes on corporations and wealthy people” – but no annual wealth tax that would radically address the huge and anti-democratic accumulated wealth disparity that is at the heart of the terracidal neoliberal agenda [17, 18]).

(5) Carbon tax (“A progressive carbon tax … based on a “polluter pays” principle”; progressive” implies that the cost of pollution would not initially be “fully borne” by the polluter as explicitly demanded by Nicholas Stern and by science-trained Pope Francis in his encyclical “Laudato si’”, although The Leap Manifesto does advocate actions “based on a simple “polluter pays” principle”).

(6) A universal basic income (“a universal basic income” – but this is to involve a “vigorous debate”).

(7) Economy for the common good (“We declare that “austerity”… is a fossilized from of thinking that has become a threat to life on earth” and “Deepening poverty and inequality are a scar on the country’s present. And Canada’s record on climate change is a crime against humanity’s future”- but there is no systemic plan for social justice apart from taxing the rich incomes and fiscal spending re-allocation).

(C) Things extraordinarily not even mentioned by The Leap Manifesto.

(1) Climate Revolution, Negative Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions, Atmospheric CO2 (Atmospheric carbon dioxide) , 300 ppm CO2, re-afforestation, biochar , Accelerated Weathering of Limestone (AWL), cessation of GHG pollution, fossil fuel burning, deforestation, methanogenic livestock production, population, population growth (astonishing omissions) .

(2) Non-carbon energy, geothermal energy, solar energy, wind energy, wave energy, tide energy, hydro energy, waste avoidance, energy efficiency, sufficiency, needs-based production (more astonishing omissions).

(3) Carbon Tax is mentioned but not Carbon Debt, Carbon Price, damage-related Carbon Price, dollars per tonne CO2-equivalent, divestment from fossil fuels, intra-national justice, international justice, judicial processes, punish environmental vandals, punish climate criminals, dispossession, custodial punishment (in short, the Historical Carbon Debt (aka Historical Climate Debt) of a country can be measured by the amount of global warming greenhouse gas (GHG) it has introduced into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th century.

Thus the total Carbon Debt of the world from 1751-2016 is about 1,850 billion tonnes CO2. Assuming a damage-related Carbon Price of $200 per tonne CO2-equivalent, this corresponds to a Carbon Debt of $370 trillion, similar to the total wealth of the world and 4.5 times the world’s total annual GDP. Using estimates from Professor James Hansen of national contributions to Historical Carbon Debt and assuming a damage-related Carbon Price in USD of $200 per tonne CO2-equivalent, the World has a Carbon Debt of $370 trillion that is increasing at $13 trillion per year. By way of example, Canada’s sister country Australia has a Carbon Debt of $7.5 trillion that is increasing at $400 billion per year and at $40,000 per head per year for under-30 year old Australians [15]).

(4) Neoliberalism, sustainability, social humanism, socialism, eco-socialism, welfare state, common good, zero tolerance for lying, Indigenous People-informed love of nature, needs-based manufacturing, health, preventive medicine, minimizing preventable deaths (A radical economic systemic change is needed to save the planet, but utterly absent from the soft, bourgeois, PC, Left-lite Leap Manifesto are the key terms in this regard. Neoliberalism – extreme Capitalism and Corporatism – involves maximizing the freedom of the smart and advantaged One Percent to exploit human and natural resources for private profit, with an asserted “trickle down” to the 99 Percenters.

In contrast, social humanism (socialism, democratic socialism, eco-socialism, the welfare state) involves maximizing happiness, opportunity and dignity for everybody via evolving intra-national and international social contracts [19]. However The Leap Manifesto does attack One Percenter-driven “austerity” and describes the Universal Basic Income as “a sturdy safety net [that] could help ensure that no one is forced to take work that threatens their children’s tomorrow, just to feed those children today”).

(5) Annual wealth tax, life-long universal free education, universal free health, pre-school education, primary education, secondary education, tertiary education (college education, university education), life-long education, health, anti-democracy wealth inequity, avoidable mortality, global avoidable mortality holocaust (the present gross wealth inequity, in which the One Percenters have 50% of the world’s wealth, is bad for the economy because the poor cannot buy the goods and services they produce, and bad for democracy because Big Money purchases people, politicians, parties, policies, public perception of reality, votes, more political power and hence more private profit – gross wealth inequity has converted Western democracies into kleptocracies, plutocracies, Murdochracies, lobbyocracies, , corporatocracies and dollarocracies entrenched through mendacious corporate Mainstream media).

(6) Science, science-informed risk management, corporate-driven Mainstream media lying, Mainstream media lying, lying, obscene military expenditure, war, genocide, avoidable mass mortality, air pollution, air pollution deaths, global warming, intergenerational injustice, intergenerational inequity, climate genocide, speciescide, ecocide, omnicide, terracide, population, population increase, homicidal greed, mendacious neoliberalism (a veritable Herd of Elephants in the Room ignored by the “sensible centre” Leap Manifesto). .

Final comments

The Green Left and the Greens in general are often described by their opponents as Watermelons (“Green on the outside but red on the inside”). The Leap Manifesto is indignant, ostensible reddish on the outside but is actually on close examination a wishy-washy and naïve lower case green on the inside. The most notorious One Percenters could not be happier to provide effective free expression and hence “visibility” to The Leap Manifesto via corporate Mainstream media, and are laughing all the way to the bank. Indeed a Google Search today for “Leap Manifesto” (that compromises planetary salvation) yields 157,000 results whereas a Google Search for “social humanism” (that is crucial for planetary salvation) yields a mere 36,000.

Activism for Humanity and the Biosphere is severely compromised by many activists who are insufficiently activist (activism lite) by variously being climate lite, socialism lite, anti-Apartheid lite, anti-war lite etc. The Canadian Leap Manifesto has good intentions but has astonishingly avoided key, massive realities – fear of frightening the horses, fear of being rendered “invisible” like “hard-core activists” by mendacious corporate Mainstream media, or both?

Our heroine Naomi Klein entitled her latest book “No is not enough” but this insufficiency also applies to The Leap Manifesto she espouses – Canada’s Leap Manifesto is not enough by far. As demonstrated in the recent dire warning to Humanity by over 15,000 scientists [11, 12], we are badly running out of time to save the Planet. Science-informed people – and especially the young who are most threatened by climate change, climate injustice and intergenerational inequity – must (a) inform everyone they can of the need to urgently reverse man-made climate change by radical systemic change and a return to a safe and sustainable 300 ppm CO2, (b) urge support for the pro-equity, social humanist and Terraphile Greens and Socialists, and (c) expose the continuing deadly war crimes, deadly climate crimes and deadly economic crimes, and demand judicial punishment of war criminals, climate criminals and homicidally greedy neoliberal One Percenters.

References

1 Naomi Klein, “No Logo”, Random House, 1999.

2 Naomi Klein, “Fences and Windows”, Random House, 2002.

3 Naomi Klein, “The Shock Doctrine”, Random House, 2007.

4 Naomi Klein, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate”, Simon & Schuster, 2014.

5 Naomi Klein, “No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics”, Allen Lane, 2017.

6 “Palestinian Genocide”.

7 “Jews Against Racist Zionism”.

8 Gideon Polya, “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, including an avoidable mortality-related history of every country from Neolithic times and is now available for free perusal on the web.

9 “Stop air pollution deaths”.

10 “Climate Genocide”.

11 William J. Ripple et al., 15,364 signatories from 184 countries, “World scientists’ warning to Humanity: a second notice”, Bioscience, 13 November 2017.

12 Gideon Polya, “Over 15,000 Scientists Issue Dire Warning To Humanity On Catastrophic Climate Change And Biodiversity Loss”, Countercurrents, 20 November 2017: http://www.countercurrents.org/2017/11/20/over-15000-scientists-issue-dire-warning-to-humanity-on-catastrophic-climate-change-and-biodiversity-loss/ .

13 100% renewable energy by 2020”.

14 “Cut carbon emissions 80% by 2020”.

15 “Carbon Debt Carbon Credit”.

16 Gideon Polya, “Planetary Salvation Compromised By Activism Lite, Climate Lite, Anti-Apartheid Lite & Anti-War Lite Weakness”, Countercurrents, 15 November 2017: http://www.countercurrents.org/2017/11/15/planetary-salvation-compromised-by-activism-lite-climate-lite-anti-apartheid-lite-anti-war-lite-weakness/ .

17 Thomas Piketty, “Capital in the Twenty-first Century”, Harvard, 2014.

18 “1% ON 1%: annual one percent tax on One Percenter wealth”: https://sites.google.com/site/300orgsite/1-on-1 .

19 Brian Ellis, “Social Humanism”, Routledge, 2012.

Press link for more: MWCNEWS.NET

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It took a long time for China to wake up to #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol

Experience of climate change has altered people’s attitudes, argues the editor of a Chinese magazine

Hu Shuli

China

It took a long time for China to wake up to climate change. But in the coming years the country will become a world leader on tackling the causes of a warming planet.

To understand why, consider how quickly China has come around on the issue.

In the relatively recent past, many Chinese believed that climate change was a lie made up by developed countries to contain the growth of developing ones, ­especially China.

Even after scientists accepted the correlation between global warming and carbon emissions, many in the government clung to the idea that countries have a “common but differentiated responsibility”—with an emphasis on “differentiated”.

Whenever an official was able to resist foreign pressure in international discussions, he was considered a hero.

Since industrialisation, the argument ran, developed countries have accumulated a larger carbon footprint.

First-hand experience of climate change has altered the Chinese people’s attitude.

A turning-point came in 2008.

That year, on the eve of China’s most important holiday, the Spring Festival, rare freezing temperatures and heavy rain nearly paralysed the entire south of the country.

Thanks to the wide reach of the internet, every extreme-weather event since, including Typhoon Hato in 2017, has attracted massive attention.

The smog that arrives predictably each winter has made air pollution one of the most widely discussed topics among the Chinese.

The people have moved from ignorance to fighting for the right to information, to taking the initiative, to demanding government action.

During recent trade summits, the Chinese government temporarily shut down many industrial businesses in order to clear the air and save its face.

But that does nothing to save the planet.

China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide. It is now working to put its own house in order.

Climate change and air pollution are related, but not identical, issues.

Most air pollution is produced by the same sources that emit carbon dioxide: heating, power generation, industrial activity and cars.

That means controlling pollution can also mean cutting emissions.

This can be seen as the uniquely Chinese path to tackling climate change in 2018 and beyond.

In 2009 China announced plans to cut its carbon emissions by 40-45% relative to GDP growth by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.

Then, in 2014, it said it wanted carbon-emission levels to peak around 2030, and would even try to move this date forward if possible.

This marked a striking shift, from emphasising lowering the concentration of emissions to trying to control total levels.

Under China’s current political system, the central government breaks down carbon-emission targets for different levels of government.

Now, checks on targets are becoming more stringent. The party may urge more advanced regions to meet goals ahead of schedule.

Even after Donald Trump said he would pull America out of the Paris agreement on climate change, the attitude of China’s government and people has not regressed.

Rather, many have called upon the country to take on more responsibility for the sake of all humanity.

Warming on the idea

What measures will it take?

Recent efforts to cut overcapacity are the starting-point.

Overcapacity is primarily concentrated in high-emission industries such as steel and coal.

The government wants to control the capacity of these sectors.

Industrial businesses will feel the force of strict environmental and carbon-emissions regulations. This inextricably links progress to economic reforms and efforts to improve regional industrial structures.

Ultimately, this is a matter of governance.

China’s economic development has reached a stage in which manufacturing is giving way to service industries. Goods like steel, cement and glass have already reached their peak output, or will soon do so. Solutions to climate change are compatible with China’s transition.

In the short term, the country will face economic and social costs from its actions, including slower growth and rising unemployment.

That means the social safety-net will need to be shored up.

Also, China’s emphasis must move from mitigation of climate change to adaptation to it. That involves upgrading infrastructure, changing lifestyles and further raising public consciousness. In the long run, as China’s industries shift from manufacturing to services, social resistance to the economic effects of climate-change action will decrease.

Current achievements are still a long way from meeting the expectations of the people. China’s climate awakening means the country needs to put in a long-term effort to adopt more intensive and effective measures to cope with global warming.

Luckily, Chinese people have by now realised the true meaning of the idea, “We only have one Earth.”

Hu ShuliBEIJINGHu Shuli: editor-in-chief, Caixin Media

Press link for more: The world In

Decline of Nature poses severe threat to global prosperity #StopAdani #auspol

Top economists show that the decline of nature poses severe threats to continued national and global prosperity

New research from a team of Oxford economists, launched at the World Forum on Natural Capital in Edinburgh, has shown that Ministries of Finance and Treasuries are often blind to how dependent economies are on nature, which is declining at a dangerous rate.

As a result, businesses and politicians are failing to register the systemic risk building up as the natural world fails.

Professor Cameron Hepburn, who led the research at the University of Oxford’s Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, says that flawed economic and political institutions are to blame. “Much of the value that economies create is built upon a natural foundation – the air, water, food, energy and raw materials that the planet provides.

Without nature, no other value is possible.”

It’s called natural capital, and it’s the basis for all human prosperity. But because most economies fail to account for this dependency, “business as usual” is driving a dangerous trend of environmental decline.

“We are poisoning the well from which we drink. The dire state of nature and the implications for our future barely registers in economic decision-making”

Oliver Greenfield

Extreme weather, mass extinctions, falling agricultural yields, and toxic air and water are already damaging the global economy, with pollution alone costing 4.6 trillion USD every year. And we’re in danger of losing other indispensable natural capitals, like topsoil for food production or a stable climate, without which organised economies cannot function.

“We are poisoning the well from which we drink,” says Oliver Greenfield, convenor of the Green Economy Coalition, who commissioned the research. “The dire state of nature and the implications for our future, barely registers in economic decision-making.  To put this another way, we are building up a big systemic risk to our economies and societies, and just like the financial crisis, most economists currently don’t see it”.

The research finds three central failings are to blame. Firstly, we currently lack the tools to adequately measure and understand the value of nature, meaning it is largely invisible to policymakers. Secondly, many economic models assume that environmental value can be easily and indefinitely replaced by man-made value; for example, the loss in natural capital from logging a forest is off-set by the creation of valuable jobs and timber – ignoring the question of what happens when the last tree is cut down. Finally, we don’t have the laws and institutions required to protect our critical stocks of natural capital from unsustainable exploitation.

Thankfully, the research finds encouraging signs that our economy can be rapidly rewired to protect the planet. Governments and businesses must start measuring their stocks of natural capital in comprehensive natural wealth accounts, and ensure that those assets are protected and improved. Better data is needed on the value of the natural wealth that underpins economic activity, so that value can be accounted for by treasuries and financial centres. And critical natural assets – without which society cannot survive – must be given special status so that they cannot be squandered.

This research is an urgent wake-up call to governments and businesses around the world: our economies are flying blind, and new models and methodologies are urgently required. “The opportunity to properly value nature is not just a task for economists but for all of us,” Oliver Greenfield added. “The societies and economies that understand their dependency on nature are healthier and more connected, with a brighter future.”

Press link for more: Green Economy Coalition

Economic Growth Will Destroy Everything. #Neoliberalism #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Economic growth will destroy everything.

There’s no way of greening it – we need a new system.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 22nd November 2017

Everyone wants everything – how is that going to work?

The promise of economic growth is that the poor can live like the rich and the rich can live like the oligarchs.

But already we are bursting through the physical limits of the planet that sustains us.

Climate breakdown, soil loss, the collapse of habitats and species, the sea of plastic, insectageddon: all are driven by rising consumption.

The promise of private luxury for everyone cannot be met: neither the physical nor the ecological space exists.

But growth must go on: this is everywhere the political imperative.

And we must adjust our tastes accordingly.

In the name of autonomy and choice, marketing uses the latest findings in neuroscience to break down our defences. Those who seek to resist must, like the Simple Lifers in Brave New World, be silenced – in this case by the media.

With every generation, the baseline of normalised consumption shifts.

Thirty years ago, it was ridiculous to buy bottled water, where tap water is clean and abundant.

Today, worldwide, we use a million plastic bottles a minute.

Every Friday is a Black Friday, every Christmas a more garish festival of destruction. Among the snow saunas, portable watermelon coolers and smart phones for dogs with which we are urged to fill our lives, my #extremecivilisation prize now goes to the PancakeBot: a 3-D batter printer that allows you to eat the Mona Lisa or the Taj Mahal or your dog’s bottom every morning. In practice, it will clog up your kitchen for a week until you decide you don’t have room for it. For junk like this we’re trashing the living planet, and our own prospects of survival. Everything must go.

The ancillary promise is that, through green consumerism, we can reconcile perpetual growth with planetary survival. But a series of research papers reveal that there is no significant difference between the ecological footprints of people who care about their impacts and people who don’t. One recent article, published in the journal Environment and Behaviour, finds that those who identify themselves as conscious consumers use more energy and carbon than those who do not.

Why?

Because, environmental awareness tends to be higher among wealthy people.

It is not attitudes that govern our impacts on the planet, but income.

The richer we are, the bigger our footprint, regardless of our good intentions.

Those who see themselves as green consumers, the paper found, “mainly focus on behaviours that have relatively small benefits.”

I know people who recycle meticulously, save their plastic bags, carefully measure the water in their kettles, then take their holidays in the Caribbean, cancelling their environmental savings 100-fold.

I’ve come to believe that the recycling licences their long-haul flights.

It persuades people they’ve gone green, enabling them to overlook their greater impacts.

None of this means that we should not try to reduce our impacts, but we should be aware of the limits of the exercise.

Our behaviour within the system cannot change the outcomes of the system.

It is the system that needs to change.

Research by Oxfam suggests that the world’s richest 1% (if your household has an income of £70,000 or more, this means you) produce around 175 times as much carbon as the poorest 10%.

How, in a world in which everyone is supposed to aspire to high incomes, can we avoid turning the Earth, on which all prosperity depends, into a dust ball?

By decoupling, the economists tell us: detaching economic growth from our use of materials. So how well is this going?

A paper in the journal PlosOne finds that while in some countries relative decoupling has occurred, “no country has achieved absolute decoupling during the past 50 years.” What this means is that the amount of materials and energy associated with each increment of GDP might decline, but, as growth outpaces efficiency, the total use of resources keeps rising. More importantly, the paper reveals that, in the long term, both absolute and relative decoupling from the use of essential resources is impossible, because of the physical limits of efficiency.

A global growth rate of 3% means that the size of the world economy doubles every 24 years. This is why environmental crises are accelerating at such a rate. Yet the plan is to ensure that it doubles and doubles again, and keeps doubling in perpetuity. In seeking to defend the living world from the maelstrom of destruction, we might believe we are fighting corporations and governments and the general foolishness of humankind. But they are all proxies for the real issue: perpetual growth on a planet that is not growing.

Those who justify this system insist that economic growth is essential for the relief of poverty. But a paper in the World Economic Review finds that the poorest 60% of the world’s people receive only 5% of the additional income generated by rising GDP. As a result, $111 of growth is required for every $1 reduction in poverty. This is why, on current trends, it would take 200 years to ensure that everyone receives $5 a day. By this point, average per capita income will have reached $1m a year, and the economy will be 175 times bigger than it is today. This is not a formula for poverty relief. It is a formula for the destruction of everything and everyone.

When you hear that something makes economic sense, this means it makes the opposite of common sense. Those sensible men and women who run the world’s treasuries and central banks, who see an indefinite rise in consumption as normal and necessary, are beserkers, smashing through the wonders of the living world, destroying the prosperity of future generations to sustain a set of figures that bear ever less relation to general welfare.

Green consumerism, material decoupling, sustainable growth: all are illusions, designed to justify an economic model that is driving us to catastrophe. The current system, based on private luxury and public squalor, will immiserate us all: under this model, luxury and deprivation are one beast with two heads.

We need a different system, rooted not in economic abstractions but in physical realities, that establish the parameters by which we judge its health. We need to build a world in which growth is unnecessary, a world of private sufficiency and public luxury. And we must do it before catastrophe forces our hand.

http://www.monbiot.com

Press link for more: Monbiot.com

Climate Change Drove ISIS in Iraq #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Climate Change and Water Woes Drove ISIS Recruiting in Iraq

Photograph by Carolyn Drake, MagnumNovember 14, 2017

An oven burns near a family’s reed hut in Chibaish, Iraq.

The family moved to this area in search of water, but much of the former marshes remain desolate after years of draining and neglect.

An Iraqi shepherd leads his camels in search of water in the Kut Desert, about 180 kilometers south of Baghdad.

The country has seen years of drought, which ISIS recruiters exploited to attract followers.

Photograph by ALI AL-SAADI, AFP, Getty Images

Turkey has built more than 600 large dams, in some cases flooding ancient cities like Hasankeyf, above.

The dams has decreased the amount of water flowing across borders into Iraq and other countries.

Samarra, IraqIt was a few weeks after the rains failed in the winter of 2009 that residents of Shirqat first noticed the strange bearded men.

Circling like vultures among the stalls of the town’s fertilizer market in Iraq’s northern Salahaddin governorate, they’d arrow in on the most shabbily dressed farmers, and tempt them with promises of easy riches. “Join us, and you’ll never have to worry about feeding your family,” Saleh Mohammed Al-Jabouri, a local tribal sheikh, remembers one recruiter saying.

With every flood or bout of extreme heat or cold, the jihadists would reappear, often supplementing their sales pitches with gifts.

When a particularly vicious drought struck in 2010, the fifth in seven years, they doled out food baskets.

When fierce winds eviscerated hundreds of eggplant fields near Kirkuk in the spring of 2012, they distributed cash.

As farming communities limped from one debilitating crisis to another, the recruiters—all members of what soon became the Islamic State—began to see a return on their investment.

Two agricultural laborers in Azwai, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it farming community just south of Shirqat, ran off to join the jihadists in December 2013.

Seven more from outlying villages followed a month later. By the time the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) seized this swath of Iraq—along with most of the country’s west and north—in a brutal summer-long blitzkrieg in 2014, few locals were surprised to see dozens of former fertilizer market regulars among its ranks.

“We said just wait until the next harvest, life will get better, life will become easier,” Jabouri said.

“But things just weren’t getting better. There was always another disaster.”

Across rural Iraq and Syria, farmers, officials, and village elders tell similar stories of desperate farmhands swapping backhoes for assault rifles.

Already battered by decades of shoddy environmental policies, which had hobbled agriculture and impoverished its dependents, these men were in no state to navigate the extra challenges of climate change.

And so when ISIS came along, propelled in large part by sectarian grievances and religious fanaticism, many of the most environmentally damaged Sunni Arab villages quickly emerged as some of the deep-pocketed jihadists’ foremost recruiting grounds.

Around Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s northern Iraqi hometown, ISIS appears to have attracted much more support from water-deprived communities than from their better-resourced peers.

In Tharthar subdistrict, a semi-arid expanse west of the Tigris, farmers with fields closest to the encroaching sands joined the jihadists in greater numbers than their counterparts near the river valley.

Throughout 100 plus interviews conducted over three years, farmers and agricultural officials alike sometimes wondered aloud: if only we’d received a little more assistance, might this entire blood-soaked mess have been averted?

“This beast [ISIS] has many causes, but in the countryside these new problems just pushed people over the edge,” said Omar, a former agriculture ministry administrator from Mosul, who fled as the jihadists seized his city three years ago and who wished to withhold his surname for security reasons.

Seeds of Discontent

Looking back, it seems almost inevitable that something was going to snap.

For decades, Iraqi agriculture has been mired in a long, sad decline that showed few signs of abating. First the oil boom robbed farming of much of its importance from the early 1970s. With massive revenues coming out of the ground, Baghdad gradually lost interest in other parts of the economy.

An Iraqi shepherd leads his camels in search of water in the Kut Desert, about 180 kilometers south of Baghdad.

The country has seen years of drought, which ISIS recruiters exploited to attract support.

And then when Saddam Hussein rose to power in 1979, he swiftly sucked Iraq into a series of conflicts that struck farmers disproportionately hard.

He press-ganged tens of thousands of agricultural laborers into service for the eight year Iran-Iraq war.

That conflict left many farms desperately shorthanded and saw the repurposing of much farm machinery for military use.

Hussein torched some of southern Iraq’s most bountiful date plantations for fear that Iranian saboteurs might use them as cover to attack oil facilities around Basra.

Where once 12 million palm trees stood, there’s now just miles of dusty scrubland laced with oil spills. (Learn more about the damage caused in southern Iraq.)

All the while, Hussein—and then his successors—stood idly by as Iraqi farmers’ water supply slowly seeped away.

Years of below average rains in the Kurdish region and Nineveh governorate, the only parts of Iraq where rain-fed agriculture was historically possible, had increased the country’s dependence on the Euphrates and Tigris, the Fertile Crescent’s two great rivers.

At the same time, upstream Turkey and Iran were relentlessly damming them and their tributaries. Turkey has built over 600 large dams, including dozens of major ones near the Iraqi and Syrian borders. The Tigris and Euphrates’ combined flow in southern Iraq has subsequently shrunk so much that the Persian Gulf now barrels up to 45 miles upriver at high tide (the rivers used to project freshwater up to 3 miles out to sea).

“The disappearance of our water and environment has been unstoppable in places,’ said Hassan Al-Janabi, the minister of water resources.

As the rains and rivers declined, many farmers turned to wells to fill the void, only to find that they too had their limitations. With no electricity for up to 20 hours a day, the only way to power the pumps was with diesel generators, which are prohibitively expensive for many smallholders.

Around Samarra, farmers can shell out at least $6,000 on fuel a year to water 12 acres of fields.

Little by little, water was becoming a resource that in some parts of Iraq only wealthier landowners could afford.

“Every year the rains became less, so people were having to spend more and more on their generators,” said Ahmed El Thaer Abbas, director of the Tharthar Agricultural Office. “It’s not sustainable.” Once the provider of over a quarter of local farmers’ water, rains now supply less than ten percent of their needs, he added.

Ripe for Radicalization

By 2011, much of the Iraqi countryside was in desperate financial straits. Some 39 percent of people in rural areas were living in poverty, according to the World Bank. That’s two and a half times the country’s urban rate. Almost half lacked safe drinking water. The problems were so devastating in 2012-13 that tens of thousands of villagers ditched their fields altogether, preferring to try their luck in the slum districts of nearby cities instead.

Some 39 percent of those polled in Salahaddin cited drought as a reason for their displacement. Studies from neighboring Syria, large parts of which enjoy similar conditions to northern and western Iraq, suggest that anthropogenic climate change has tripled the probability of long, debilitating droughts.

But still the blows kept on coming. And by now, armed groups—ISIS’s forebears included—were paying close attention. When severe water shortages killed off countless livestock in 2011-12, jihadists descended on the animal markets to size up the frantic farmers, many of whom were trying to sell off their remaining cows and sheep before they too succumbed to drought.

“They just watched us. We were like food on the table to them,” said Abbas Luay Essawi, a herder from Hawija. In Kirkuk governorate alone, about two thirds of farms lost at least one animal, according to the International Organization on Migration.

Soaring temperatures also began playing into these groups’ hands. Amid unprecedented heatwaves, farmers pumped more water in order to keep their crops alive, but in so doing merely added to the burden on the aquifers, many of which were already struggling to keep pace with demand that had previously been met by the rains and rivers. After several years of energetic groundwater extraction near the oil refining town of Baiji, Samir Saed’s two wells ran dry in early 2014, forcing him to lay off the two young men he employed as farm laborers. Jobless and angry, he suspects they soon joined ISIS.

“There are many stories like this; they were frustrated and just saw it as another type of work,” he says.

Summer temperatures in the Middle East are set to soar twice as fast as the global average, possibly threatening the inhabitability of the region by the end of the century, researchers say.

Above all, though, the jihadists expertly exploited the desperation in Iraq’s agricultural heartland by rationalizing its inhabitants’ woes. They spread rumors that the Shia-dominated government was delaying crop payments and cutting off water to Sunni farmers. In fact, the lack of rain wasn’t due to climate change, but really a man-made ploy designed to drive Sunni landowners from their rich fertile fields, their emissaries suggested. Broke and unable to deal with their fast changing environment, many farmers ate it up. A large majority of the Islamic State’s Iraqi foot soldiers hailed from rural parts of the country’s west, north and center, terrorism analysts say.

Turkey has built more than 600 large dams, in some cases flooding ancient cities like Hasankeyf, above. The dams has decreased the amount of water flowing across borders into Iraq and other countries.

“It’s like this: agriculture employs a big percentage of Iraqis, and so when there’s a negative impact on agriculture this will translate into major social problems,” said Samir Raouf, a UNDP consultant and former deputy minister of science and technology.

What’s next?

For the moment at least, ISIS is mostly defeated in Iraq. From a high of 40 percent of Iraq’s territory in late 2014, it now only controls a few isolated villages, and small chunks of largely featureless desert. But the conditions that contributed to its success in the countryside are, if anything, more pronounced than ever.

The jihadists adopted scorched earth tactics as they were beaten back, laying waste to hundreds of thousands of acres of prime farmland. And so for returning farmers, climate change and shoddy governance are now among the least of their worries. ISIS fighters ripped up buried irrigation pipes to mold makeshift mortars. They poisoned wells, blew up water canals, and carted off everything that was of any value, notably generators, tractors, and water pump parts.

In Tharthar subdistrict, some farmers are still paying installments on enormous crop pivots they can no longer use. More or less broke after the oil price crash, the Iraqi state can’t afford to pay farmers for crops they’ve delivered to state silos, let alone cover the multi-billion dollar agricultural clean up bill. “Until all of this is fixed, farming in Iraq is dead,” said Naif Saido Kassem, until recently director of the agricultural office in Sinjar, to the north of Mosul. He estimates the agricultural damage in his subdistrict alone at $70 million.

Even more devastatingly perhaps, Iraq’s water situation is set to plumb new lows. Turkey has almost finished building the Ilisu Dam, which threatens to further cut the Tigris’ flow when it comes online, probably next year. Hotter temperatures are evaporating more and more surface water—up to six feet worth in Iraq’s lakes every year, according to Nature Iraq, a local NGO. As Baghdad’s relations with the upstream Kurdish region deteriorate, farmers might once more bear the brunt of the dispute. Kurdish authorities have cut off water to mostly Arab areas on several occasions in the past.

Some farmers still have hope. “We are tough. We will come back like we always have in the past,” said Ahmed, who grows wheat, barley, and some fruits near Dibis, northwest of Kirkuk. But against the backdrop of a climate of distrust so severe that the security forces are blocking most fertilizer from liberated farmland for fear that it might be used in making bombs, few share his optimism. If Iraq can’t get a grip on its crumbling environment, the next war might not be far off.

“ISIS is gone for now, but with all these water and heat problems, things will only get worse,” said Jabouri, the tribal sheikh from Shirqat. “We need help now.”

Press link for more: National Geopolitical

Heatwaves – Natures Silent Killer #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #Darwin #Cairnsc

Heatwaves – Natures Silent Killer

CENTURIES-old heatwave records have been shattered all over Australia in the past week as cities from Hobart to Sydney have been hit by prolonged stretches of temperature far above normal.

Hobart’s recent run of six consecutive November days above 26C hasn’t been equalled for 130 years.

While it may have been warm, though, it was manageable.

However, climate scientists are warning the conditions in another of Australia’s capitals could get so bad it may become “not viable” to live there in decades to come.

A combination of debilitating humidity and what’s known as the “urban heat island effect” mixed in with a good dose of climate change could leave Darwin off-limits to all but the hardiest.

Already, surface temperatures in parts of Darwin’s CBD have been recorded nudging 70C.

And regional cities in Queensland might not be far behind.

Darwin is already severely affected by humidity.Source:News Limited

Towards the end of November, Darwin locals look forward to the end of the “build-up”, the hot and sticky weather that precedes the wet season.

It’s been a tough few months.

Earlier this year, the Bureau of Meteorology warned 2017’s build-up would be “brutal”.

“Everything is hotter than normal,” said the Bureau’s Greg Browning.

Australian National University’s Dr Elizabeth Hanna, an expert on the effects of climate change on health, told news.com.au it was the Top End’s tropical humidity that was the big problem.

“We can cope with much higher temperatures in Melbourne because the air is drier, but in Darwin the high temperatures and humidity are oppressive.

“If it gets worse, those unpleasant times of the year (like the build-up) will extend longer and longer making it not a viable place to live,” she said.

The Chief Minister has said Darwin CBD’s Cavenagh Street, is a “river of fire”.Source:News Corp Australia

UNINHABITABLE

Mattheos Santamouris, a professor of high performance architecture at the University of NSW, is working on a project, funded by the NT Government, to study how Darwin’s heat can be given the heave-ho.

“The focus is often on the global impact of climate change, but we also need to understand what is happening at a local level, in our own cities,” Prof Santamouris said.

“If we can’t find a way to make our cities cooler, they will eventually become uninhabitable.”

A cautionary tale of a possible future for Darwin lies further north. In August, there were warnings from scientists that by the turn of the century India could be hit by climate change fuelled heatwaves so extreme they could kill even healthy people within hours.

Under a scenario where carbon emissions were not throttled back, 4 per cent of India’s population would experience a non-survivable heatwave at some point after 2071.

A wet bulb temperature (which takes into account humidity) of 35C is when things start to head south.

Northern Australia is already in a stifling heat zone stretching across Asia. Picture: MIT.Source:Supplied

“We need to evaporate and sweat to cool down but when temperatures get close to or above our core temperature, and when humidity is high, the air becomes saturated and we’re not going to lose that sweat so our cooling mechanism is hampered,” said Dr Hanna.

The conditions wouldn’t affect everyone equally but in a major heatwave in India, she said, people could start to overheat even when sitting still.

Under a high emission scenario, India could experience heatwaves that cause death within hours by the latter part of this century. Picture: MIT.Source:Supplied

‘RIVER OF FIRE’

“If it’s 38C outside people feel crappy and grumpy and that has an impact on assaults so it has all manner of social issues,” she said.

In August, the Territory Government kicked off a project to see where Darwin’s hot spots were — and what was causing them — so they could cool the CBD down.

The heat mitigation study uses a dedicated “energy bus” and drones to measure surface and air temperatures.

“The study found our streets, parking lots, roofs and pavements have very high surface temperatures, ranging from 45-67C,” said Chief Minister Michael Gunner at the time.

“Areas such as the Post Office carpark, the Supreme Court car park, and the Bus Terminal are incredibly hot — Cavenagh Street (a CBD thoroughfare) is a river of fire.”

Prof Samtamouris told news.com.au Darwin was a classic case of an urban heat island where materials used in roads and buildings turbocharged temperatures.

A Darwin heat mitigation study has found some surface temperatures are in excess of 60C. Picture: UNSWSource:Supplied

However, temperatures drop dramatically in areas of foliage. Picture: UNSW.Source:Supplied

BITUMEN

“Black surfaces like bitumen absorb high amounts of solar radiation leading to high surface temperatures.” he said.

“A material with a temperature of about 70C may heat the air by around 3C.”

Alternative materials, such as special “cool” asphalt, can bring the surrounding temperatures down.

“In Darwin, you have overheating because there’s too much bitumen and not enough greenery”.

The study will continue for the next year but the Government said it is already burying one of its major carparks to reduce its impact on air temperatures.

And it’s not just Darwin. Sydney’s west is regularly up to 10C warmer than the CBD. The reasons are different — the CBD is cooled by winds coming off the seas which peter out by the time you reach, say, Penrith.

Artists impression of a vine shade structure over Cavenagh Street in Darwin. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

But the result is the same — increasingly uninhabitable cities. And climate change, pushing average temperatures up, continues to stymie mitigation efforts.

“Townsville and Cairns are not as bad but they will start to become like Darwin. Everything is just moving to the extreme but we just don’t know exactly when or how fast it will happen.” said Prof Hanna.

“Global temperatures are going so badly and emissions are increasing so much that it’s not looking good.”

Planting more trees and creating shady streets was a good strategy to make cities more liveable, she said. But a few plants here and there had their limits.

“As it keeps warming and warming, there’s only a little it can do.”

benedict.brook@news.com.au | @BenedictBrook

Press link for more: News.com.au

Greed, fear & our own biases blind us #ClimateChange

How greed, fear and our own biases blind us to the realities of climate change

Humans have evolved to fear immediate threats.

By the time climate change is an immediate threat, it’ll be too late

The Climate Science Special Report that the Trump administration released last Friday is straightforward and relentlessly sobering.

Scientists from 13 government agencies agree that the long-term global warming trend is “unambiguous” and that human activity is responsible.

There is, they tell us, “no convincing alternative explanation.”

Meanwhile, the president whose administration released the report maintains that climate change is a hoax and he and his EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, resist efforts to address it.

What’s going on?

How is this possible?

Short-term economic self-interest (i.e., greed) is the driver for the energy industry, its supporters and their propaganda. But it’s the psychological factors, and the biology in which they’re grounded, that sustain denial.

If we’re going to mobilize Americans to address climate change, we first have to understand what they’re thinking and why, and then help them change their minds.

The belief that human activity is not causing global warming is widespread outside of as well as within the White House.

And it’s remarkably resistant to evidence.

Ninety-seven percent of scientific papers agree that humans are causing climate change, but 30 percent of American adults remain unconvinced.

Many attribute this denial to mistrust of science and the “elites” who are devoted to it.

This is, at best, only partially true.

A recent Pew survey shows a striking difference between trust in medical (and other scientists) and climate scientists.

The vast majority of us still believe in the people who design our heart monitors and keep our planes flying.

Obviously, there are other reasons for climate denial.

Fear of its possible apocalyptic consequences certainly encourages denial in all of us.

But while most of us face the facts — perhaps with great reluctance — others turn stubbornly away.

Several studies show that such resolute deniers are far more likely to be politically conservative, white and older, and that twice as many are men.

Researchers suggest that “social dominance orientation” — a tendency to conform to traditional values and to put faith in beneficial, protective hierarchic structures — predicts climate change denial.

This faith is, of course, molded by energy corporations, the scientists they hire and the politicians they fund.

Our current resident, sitting at the top of the political hierarchy, undoubtedly hardens positions.

But this faith is more than a consequence of propaganda or a social construct.

There are factors built into human biology that foster denial of climate change and resistance to doing anything about it.

If we want to change consciousness and constructively address climate change, we have to take these factors into account.

Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert and others have pointed out that the human brain has evolved over millions of years to meet or avoid immediate, rather than long-term threats.

We are primed to fight a human intruder now, not a natural disaster in some indefinite future.

Our brain facilitates anger when we are insulted by another person, but insulates us from taking a distant destruction personally.

A recent Yale survey confirms the observation: A majority of Americans believe that climate change is happening, but only a “small minority” believe it will affect them.

And, compounding this denial is our brains, which as Gilbert points out, are designed to react swiftly to dramatic events, but are far less sensitive to gradual changes, like progressively warmer temperatures.

Now, however, in the midst of ongoing environmental catastrophe, all of us — doubters as well as reluctant believers — have the opportunity and good reasons, to overcome our denial. This will be easiest for those who have been directly affected.

Disaster-traumatized people I’ve worked with, in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, in the northeast after Superstorm Sandy, in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, and, now, in Houston and Northern California, are rarely in denial. They appreciate that human factors — including global warming and the sacrifice of natural protections to energy exploitation and of zoning regulation to the greed of developers — killed relatives and friends, and contributed to their collapsed homes and destroyed neighborhoods.

This understanding of causes, as well as consequences, transcends age, race, class and political affiliation, and overrides the temporary restriction of abstract reasoning and judgment that may follow severe trauma. A healthy majority of hurricane-affected Texans, Floridians and Puerto Ricans — and Californians devastated by fires fueled by climate-heated timber and grass — will likely be open to learning and acting on the same lessons.

Those of us who have so far been spared the full destructiveness of climate-related disasters are also neurologically primed for a teaching moment. The absence of direct trauma has left our higher brain functions, like judgment, self-awareness and compassion unimpaired. Meanwhile, we’ve registered emotionally compelling images of damage, destruction and death — water-bloated bodies, homeless children, flooded and crushed homes. Now is the time when all of us may be ready to translate what we have felt and know into action.

Mass and social media have a major role to play in keeping consciousness-affecting images of climate-related destruction alive, and in linking them to scientific evidence. The images will show us that the people suffering look very much like all of us — climate deniers as well as believers, white as well as black and brown, rich and poor alike.

Clear presentation of the science will deepen emotional learning. And updates on survivors’ ongoing pain and life-deforming dislocation can provide effective continuing education. Little by little, everyone, including deniers, will get the message that what has happened to others can happen to all of us.

This may be especially important for older people, who in disproportionate numbers deny climate change.

They will be reminded that they are far less able to escape natural disasters than younger people, and will, if affected, have far greater difficulty replacing what they’ve lost.

The horror stories of residents boiling to death in power-deprived nursing homes need to be recalled and honored, as do the disorienting, destabilizing long-term consequences for older people who have lost their homes and neighborhoods.

Groups like the AARP can take the lead in this painful but necessary educational process, and in advocating for climate sparing legislation.

It’s important, also, to continue to memorialize the selfless efforts of neighbors helping neighbors during and after the storms and fires, as well as the stories of distant Americans’ generosity. Seeing compassion in action will maximize activity in the parts of our brains that encourage fellow feeling. As they see and feel how satisfying it is to care for one another, even the most resistant climate deniers may want to join the rest of us in caring for the planet that sustains us all.

Press link for more: Salon.com

Delhi “It’s a hellscape” #Climate Catastrophe #StopAdani

Breathless in Delhi: a taste of environmental Armageddon |

Brigid Delaney’s diary

Brigid DelaneyThursday 23 November 2017 12.28 AEDT

It was like a London pea souper or the inside of one of Blake’s “dark satanic mills.” But what it most reminded me of most of was a disaster movie.’ Photograph: R S Iyer/AP

It was 2am on Sunday in Delhi and a friend and I were travelling in a rickshaw, heading home from a party.

It was a hellscape.

The highway was mostly empty, the air a greasy brown.

On the shoulder was a group of men standing around a small fire.

Ahead of us were trucks spraying the roads with salted effluent, used to keep the dirt in place so it would not spring up into a toxic cloud.

In the Delhi half-marathon that morning 30,000 people ran, some wearing breathing masks, with levels of the most harmful airborne pollutants hovering near 200 – eight times the World Health Organisation’s safe maximum.

All that week and the last, the pollution was the only story in town.

My friend had seen a near riot in an upmarket shopping mall as a group of women fought to buy up the last of the air masks.

In a hospital, another friend saw smog in the hallways, making all the doctors red-eyed.

We monitored the air pollution compulsively on something that looked like an egg-shaped portable lava lamp, as well as various apps.

“It got to 999 which is the highest the app recognised! It’s literally off the charts!!”

To an outsider like me flying in, there was an end-of-days vibe in the (dirty) air. It was like a London pea souper or the inside of one of Blake’s “dark satanic mills.” But what it reminded me most of was a disaster movie. “Armageddon but with better food,” said my friend.

The pollution had its own character and personality – like a super-villain in a Marvel comic

Anyone wanting a glimpse of what it is like to live in a severely climate-compromised city could experience Delhi.

Environmental disaster is no longer in the future; it is here now, in the world’s most polluted capitals, such as Beijing and Delhi.

This pollution is a regular occurrence across north India and Pakistan at this time of year as farmers burn post-harvest land and cooler temperatures prevent pollutants from dispersing. Instead they are trapped and sort of hover in the air, like a dirt curtain. Doctors liken the effect to the equivalent of smoking 50 cigarettes in a day.

My body initiated a series of reflexes designed to repel the toxins in the air: a dry, persistent cough, a tight throat and headaches if I spent too long outside. People I met at the party on Saturday night had bloodshot eyes, everyone seemed to have little deep coughs – the sort heavy smokers have.

“So [cough, cough], have you been to [cough] Humayun’s Tomb? [cough]? You ought [cough] – it’s lovely.”

The pollution had its own character and personality – like a super-villain in a Marvel comic. It didn’t move so much as hang around you like a malevolent veil.

It also had – to borrow a phrase from the wine industry – its own mouthfeel. There were notes of coal and tar, with an aftertaste of dirt. In the mouth, the smog felt meaty and dense. I thought of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road where everything was rendered in this palette – a sort of grey, brown haze, everything leeched of colour and light.

As well as fresh air, I began to miss the sun’s arc against the sky, the gorgeous golden hour of the sun hitting the buildings and warming the red brick. The way shafts of light play on trees and make even the most straggly branches or unlovely tree sparkle and glow.

We cancelled a jaunt to Varanasi for later in the week, where the air would was even worse. How could that be possible?

The smog will clear, and already there are good days and bad days. After the rain, the air feels better in the lungs. But there is already here the sense that the pollution is the new normal.

The Hindustan Times on Sunday splashed with a good news headline, indicating even our late-night hellscape wasn’t the worst of it. “People in Delhi woke up to the brightest morning in a while on Saturday.” The pollution levels had dropped from “severe” to “poor”. Even then it was still really bad. The sky above us was not blue but brown, and the sun was shrouded except during the dusks, which came early – and then sun then blazed briefly, like an angry turmeric ball – before disappearing again.

As I sat out on a balcony on Monday morning and looked out at the haze, it was almost a shock to see birds soar into the trees – these glorious hawks with their vast, elegant wingspan. That the birds weren’t dropping from the sky and the leaves weren’t withering on their branches seemed in the scheme of things a minor miracle. Breathing out there on the balcony felt almost as if I was drinking something in.

Already the main river of Delhi, the Yamuna, can no longer be really called a river. Pollution has stripped it of all the characteristics that enable it to be defined as a living entity. “It’s not a river, it’s a drain,” said my friend.

The Yamuna, India’s most polluted river

For all the talk of India as an emerging superpower, the environmental devastation wrought on Delhi surely acts as a brake on growth.

It’s harder to attract talent to work here. Who wants to get around town wearing a breathing mask? Delhi is classified just below Kabul and Baghdad as a hardship posting by the Australian government. People I spoke to in expat circles told of their family and friends cancelling holidays because of the unpleasantness of the haze.

Yet it is of course the nation’s poorest that bear the full brunt of this climate catastrophe.

According to research published in the Lancet, about 2.5 million Indians die each year from pollution, the highest number in the world.

And the majority of people affected are the poor, who cannot afford the air purifiers that retail for around US$400. For many in Delhi the conditions of daily life are so difficult and rough, that this pollution everyone keeps talking about doesn’t even register for the city’s very poor.

They are down in the pits cleaning the latrines or sleeping rough in the increasingly cold nights. A man called Sohail Abbasi told one of the local papers: “My job is to collect waste from the localities. I deal with dirt on a daily basis anyway. Once I’m out of the stinking pits, this polluted air is a luxury.”

And Mohammad Shareff, one of the city’s rough sleepers, said: “It’s getting cold here, I need the blankets. I don’t care how polluted the air is, at least there is air.”

At least there is air.

Press link for more: The Guardian

Ice Apocalypse Coastal Cities flooded by 2100 #StopAdani

Ice Apocalypse: How the rapid collapse of Antarctic glaciers could flood coastal cities by the end of this century

by Eric Holthaus, Grist

Pine Island Glacier shelf edge. Jeremy Harbeck

In a remote region of Antarctica known as Pine Island Bay, 2,500 miles from the tip of South America, two glaciers hold human civilization hostage.

Stretching across a frozen plain more than 150 miles long, these glaciers, named Pine Island and Thwaites, have marched steadily for millennia toward the Amundsen Sea, part of the vast Southern Ocean. Further inland, the glaciers widen into a two-mile-thick reserve of ice covering an area the size of Texas.

There’s no doubt this ice will melt as the world warms. The vital question is when.

The glaciers of Pine Island Bay are two of the largest and fastest-melting in Antarctica. (A Rolling Stone feature earlier this year dubbed Thwaites “The Doomsday Glacier.”) Together, they act as a plug holding back enough ice to pour 11 feet of sea-level rise into the world’s oceans — an amount that would submerge every coastal city on the planet. For that reason, finding out how fast these glaciers will collapse is one of the most important scientific questions in the world today.

To figure that out, scientists have been looking back to the end of the last ice age, about 11,000 years ago, when global temperatures stood at roughly their current levels. The bad news? There’s growing evidence that the Pine Island Bay glaciers collapsed rapidly back then, flooding the world’s coastlines — partially the result of something called “marine ice-cliff instability.”

The ocean floor gets deeper toward the center of this part of Antarctica, so each new iceberg that breaks away exposes taller and taller cliffs. Ice gets so heavy that these taller cliffs can’t support their own weight. Once they start to crumble, the destruction would be unstoppable.

“Ice is only so strong, so it will collapse if these cliffs reach a certain height,” explains Kristin Poinar, a glaciologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “We need to know how fast it’s going to happen.”

In the past few years, scientists have identified marine ice-cliff instability as a feedback loop that could kickstart the disintegration of the entire West Antarctic ice sheet this century — much more quickly than previously thought.

Minute-by-minute, huge skyscraper-sized shards of ice cliffs would crumble into the sea, as tall as the Statue of Liberty and as deep underwater as the height of the Empire State Building. The result: a global catastrophe the likes of which we’ve never seen.

Ice comes in many forms, with different consequences when it melts. Floating ice, like the kind that covers the Arctic Ocean in wintertime and comprises ice shelves, doesn’t raise sea levels. (Think of a melting ice cube, which won’t cause a drink to spill over.)

Land-based ice, on the other hand, is much more troublesome. When it falls into the ocean, it adds to the overall volume of liquid in the seas. Thus, sea-level rise.

Antarctica is a giant landmass — about half the size of Africa — and the ice that covers it averages more than a mile thick. Before human burning of fossil fuels triggered global warming, the continent’s ice was in relative balance: The snows in the interior of the continent roughly matched the icebergs that broke away from glaciers at its edges.

Now, as carbon dioxide traps more heat in the atmosphere and warms the planet, the scales have tipped.

A wholesale collapse of Pine Island and Thwaites would set off a catastrophe. Giant icebergs would stream away from Antarctica like a parade of frozen soldiers. All over the world, high tides would creep higher, slowly burying every shoreline on the planet, flooding coastal cities and creating hundreds of millions of climate refugees.

Pine Island Glacier calving front. NASA ICE

All this could play out in a mere 20 to 50 years — much too quickly for humanity to adapt.

“With marine ice cliff instability, sea-level rise for the next century is potentially much larger than we thought it might be five or 10 years ago,” Poinar says.

A lot of this newfound concern is driven by the research of two climatologists: Rob DeConto at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and David Pollard at Penn State University. A study they published last year was the first to incorporate the latest understanding of marine ice-cliff instability into a continent-scale model of Antarctica.

Their results drove estimates for how high the seas could rise this century sharply higher. “Antarctic model raises prospect of unstoppable ice collapse,” read the headline in the scientific journal Nature, a publication not known for hyperbole.

Instead of a three-foot increase in ocean levels by the end of the century, six feet was more likely, according to DeConto and Pollard’s findings. But if carbon emissions continue to track on something resembling a worst-case scenario, the full 11 feet of ice locked in West Antarctica might be freed up, their study showed.

Three feet of sea-level rise would be bad, leading to more frequent flooding of U.S. cities such as New Orleans, Houston, New York, and Miami. Pacific Island nations, like the Marshall Islands, would lose most of their territory. Unfortunately, it now seems like three feet is possible only under the rosiest of scenarios.

At six feet, though, around 12 million people in the United States would be displaced, and the world’s most vulnerable megacities, like Shanghai, Mumbai, and Ho Chi Minh City, could be wiped off the map.

At 11 feet, land currently inhabited by hundreds of millions of people worldwide would wind up underwater. South Florida would be largely uninhabitable; floods on the scale of Hurricane Sandy would strike twice a month in New York and New Jersey, as the tug of the moon alone would be enough to send tidewaters into homes and buildings.

DeConto and Pollard’s breakthrough came from trying to match observations of ancient sea levels at shorelines around the world with current ice sheet behavior.

Around 3 million years ago, when global temperatures were about as warm as they’re expected to be later this century, oceans were dozens of feet higher than today.

Previous models suggested that it would take hundreds or thousands of years for sea-level rise of that magnitude to occur. But once they accounted for marine ice-cliff instability, DeConto and Pollard’s model pointed toward a catastrophe if the world maintains a “business as usual” path — meaning we don’t dramatically reduce carbon emissions.

Rapid cuts in greenhouse gases, however, showed Antarctica remaining almost completely intact for hundreds of years.

Pollard and DeConto are the first to admit that their model is still crude, but its results have pushed the entire scientific community into emergency mode.

“It could happen faster or slower, I don’t think we really know yet,” says Jeremy Bassis, a leading ice sheet scientist at the University of Michigan. “But it’s within the realm of possibility, and that’s kind of a scary thing.”

Scientists used to think that ice sheets could take millennia to respond to changing climates. These are, after all, mile-thick chunks of ice.

The new evidence, though, says that once a certain temperature threshold is reached, ice shelves of glaciers that extend into the sea, like those near Pine Island Bay, will begin to melt from both above and below, weakening their structure and hastening their demise, and paving the way for ice-cliff instability to kick in.

In a new study out last month in the journal Nature, a team of scientists from Cambridge and Sweden point to evidence from thousands of scratches left by ancient icebergs on the ocean floor, indicating that Pine Island’s glaciers shattered in a relatively short amount of time at the end of the last ice age.

The only place in the world where you can see ice-cliff instability in action today is at Jakobshavn glacier in Greenland, one of the fastest-collapsing glaciers in the world. DeConto says that to construct their model, they took the collapse rate of Jakobshavn, cut it in half to be extra conservative, then applied it to Thwaites and Pine Island.

But there’s reason to think Thwaites and Pine Island could go even faster than Jakobshavn.

Right now, there’s a floating ice shelf protecting the two glaciers, helping to hold back the flow of ice into the sea. But recent examples from other regions, like the rapidly collapsing Larsen B ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula, show that once ice shelves break apart as a result of warming, their parent glaciers start to flow faster toward the sea, an effect that can weaken the stability of ice further inland, too.

“If you remove the ice shelf, there’s a potential that not just ice-cliff instabilities will start occurring, but a process called marine ice-sheet instabilities,” says Matthew Wise, a polar scientist at the University of Cambridge.

This signals the possible rapid destabilization of the entire West Antarctic ice sheet in this century. “Once the stresses exceed the strength of the ice,” Wise says, “it just falls off.”

And, it’s not just Pine Island Bay. On our current course, other glaciers around Antarctica will be similarly vulnerable. And then there’s Greenland, which could contribute as much as 20 feet of sea-level rise if it melts.

Next to a meteor strike, rapid sea-level rise from collapsing ice cliffs is one of the quickest ways our world can remake itself. This is about as fast as climate change gets.

Still, some scientists aren’t fully convinced the alarm is warranted. Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado, says the new research by Wise and his colleagues, which identified ice-cliff instabilities in Pine Island Bay 11,000 years ago, is “tantalizing evidence.” But he says that research doesn’t establish how quickly it happened.

“There’s a whole lot more to understand if we’re going to use this mechanism to predict how far Thwaites glacier and the other glaciers are going to retreat,” he says. “The question boils down to, what are the brakes on this process?”

Scambos thinks it is unlikely that Thwaites or Pine Island would collapse all at once. For one thing, if rapid collapse did happen, it would produce a pile of icebergs that could act like a temporary ice shelf, slowing down the rate of retreat.

Despite the differences of opinion, however, there’s growing agreement within the scientific community that we need to do much more to determine the risk of rapid sea-level rise. In 2015, the U.S. and U.K. governments began to plan a rare and urgent joint research program to study Thwaites glacier. Called “How much, how fast?,” the effort is set to begin early next year and run for five years.

Seeing the two governments pooling their resources is “really a sign of the importance of research like this,” NASA’s Poinar says.

Given what’s at stake, the research program at Thwaites isn’t enough, but it might be the most researchers can get. “Realistically, it’s probably all that can be done in the next five years in the current funding environment,” says Pollard.

He’s referring, of course, to the Trump administration’s disregard for science and adequate scientific funding; the White House’s 2018 budget proposal includes the first-ever cut to the National Science Foundation, which typically funds research in Antarctica.

“It would be sensible to put a huge effort into this, from my perspective,” Pollard says. Structural engineers need to study Antarctica’s key glaciers as though they were analyzing a building, he says, probing for weak spots and understanding how exactly they might fail. “If you vastly increase the research now, [the cost] would still be trivial compared to the losses that might happen.”

Bassis, the ice sheet scientist at the University of Michigan, first described the theoretical process of marine ice-cliff instability in research published only a few years ago.

He’s 40 years old, but his field has already changed enormously over the course of his career. In 2002, when Bassis was conducting his PhD research in a different region of Antarctica, he was shocked to return to his base camp and learn that the Larsen B ice shelf had vanished practically overnight.

“Every revision to our understanding has said that ice sheets can change faster than we thought,” he says. “We didn’t predict that Pine Island was going to retreat, we didn’t predict that Larsen B was going to disintegrate. We tend to look at these things after they’ve happened.”

There’s a recurring theme throughout these scientists’ findings in Antarctica: What we do now will determine how quickly Pine Island and Thwaites collapse. A fast transition away from fossil fuels in the next few decades could be enough to put off rapid sea-level rise for centuries. That’s a decision worth countless trillions of dollars and millions of lives.

“The range of outcomes,” Bassis says, “is really going to depend on choices that people make.”

Press link for more: Climate Code Red

Solar & Wind cheaper than Coal. #StopAdani #Qldvotes #CoralnotCoal

New study reaches a stunning conclusion about the cost of solar and wind energy

Building new renewables is now cheaper than just running old coal and nuclear plants.

Nov 20, 2017, 11:34 am

CREDIT: Patrick Pleul/dpa via AP file

In one of the fastest and most astonishing turnarounds in the history of energy, building and running new renewable energy is now cheaper than just running existing coal and nuclear plants in many areas.

A widely-used yearly benchmarking study — the Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis (LCOE) from the financial firm Lazard Ltd. — reached this stunning conclusion: In many regions “the full-lifecycle costs of building and operating renewables-based projects have dropped below the operating costs alone of conventional generation technologies such as coal or nuclear.”

Lazard focused on the cost of a power for a plant over its entire lifetime in North America, and how the “increasing economic advantage of renewables in the U.S.” will drive even deeper penetration of solar and wind here.

But Lazard also makes a key global point: It’s more expensive to operate conventional energy sources in the developing world than it is in the United States. So the advantage renewables have over conventional sources is even larger in the rapidly growing electricity markets like India and China.

Forget coal, solar will soon be cheaper than natural gas power

Renewables to capture three-fourths of the $10 trillion the world will invest in new generation through 2040.

Since power from new renewables is cheaper than power from existing coal and nuclear, it’s no surprise that the lifetime cost of new renewables is much cheaper than new coal and nuclear power. And that gap is growing.

Lazard notes that in North America, the cost for utility scale solar and wind power dropped 6 percent last year, while the price for coal remained flat and the cost of nuclear soared. “The estimated levelized cost of energy for nuclear generation increased ~35 percent versus prior estimates, reflecting increased capital costs at various nuclear facilities currently in development,” the analysis found.

Indeed, as Lazard shows in this remarkable chart, while solar and wind have dropped dramatically in price since 2009, nuclear power has simply priced itself out of the market for new power.

The lifecycle cost of electricity from new nuclear plants is now $148 per megawatt-hour, or 14.8 cents per kilowatt-hour, while it is 5 c/kwh for utility scale solar and 4.5 c/kwh for wind. By comparison, the average price for electricity in United States is 11 cents per kWh.

So it’s no big shock that there’s only one new nuclear power plant still being built in the United States — or that even existing power plants are struggling to stay competitive.

Indeed, over half of all existing U.S. nuclear power plants are “bleeding cash,” according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report released earlier this summer. Even the draft report from the U.S. Department of Energy staff for Secretary Rick Perry conceded that coal and nuclear are simply no longer economic.

Coal and nuclear are uneconomic — more bombshells from Perry’s draft grid study

“High levels of wind penetration can be integrated into the grid without harming reliability.”

Right now, as the chart above shows, new solar and wind are actually cheaper than new gas plants. The variability of solar and wind still give new gas power an edge in some markets. But with the price of electricity storage, especially lithium-ion batteries, coming down sharply, the future of renewable energy is sunnier than ever.

Press link for more: Think Progress