The IPCC is a load of scientists – more than 2,000 of them – that the United Nations asks for unbiased updates on climate change.
After slogging away for more than 2 years, they’ve just released their latest work.
In a nutshell, climate change is looking bad.
Like no-more-coral-reefs bad. But we can still get out of this mess.
What’s the worst-case scenario?
The report is frank.
We can’t let the planet warm by more than 1.5°C.
Even an extra half a degree puts millions more people at risk of flooding.
The risks to nature become very high too.
Insects that pollinate our food are almost twice as likely to lose their habitat at 2°C. And we can all but say goodbye to the coral reefs at that temperature.
Is the 2°C warning new information?
We already know that limiting global warming to 1.5°C is the best chance we have of stopping disastrous changes to the climate.
The new revelation, is the shocking amount of change that just half a degree more can cause.
How are we doing – are we on track to beat this?
We’ve already hit over 1°C of warming and are currently on course for a devastating rise of more than 3°C.
It doesn’t help that governments are promising one thing and doing another.
Like our government: it’s fuelling climate change by supporting fracking, Heathrow expansion, road building and other polluting projects.
What’s the good news?
We can still keep global warming below 1.5°C and stop runaway climate change.
Right now it’s difficult but not impossible to achieve – but we’ve got a small window of opportunity.
Consider this the final call for serious action.
Success will mean cleaner air, lower sea levels, less flooding, fewer people forced from their homes and countries because of extreme weather, more access to water and more nature.
There are bonuses too. For example, schemes to reduce energy waste will lead to warmer homes and lower utility bills.
What do we need to do?
The report lays out several pathways of avoiding warming above 1.5°C.
Essentially we need to produce much less planet-warming carbon pollution.
All of the paths require a much faster transition to electric cars.
Reforestation is essential to them all too – trees suck carbon pollution out of the air. We need to double the area of forests in the UK.
And governments need to stop funding climate change.
They’re currently supporting planet-warming industries that dig up and burn coal, oil and gas. We need to ditch these fossil fuels as soon as possible and invest more in clean, renewable energy.
What can I do?
One simple but really important thing you can do now – is sign our petition against fracking. Fracking contributes to climate change, and the government is trying to force it on communities.
By Luke Darby
As the world faces environmental disaster on a biblical scale, it’s important to remember exactly who brought us here.
We Don’t Have Time’s goal is to create a social media platform for the future, focused on the biggest challenge of our times — climate change.
Why do we have such trouble coming to grips with climate change?
Why do we falter?
Originally published in the Swedish web publication Poros, Jonatan Olofsgård explores the subject in his essay Dissonance.
Please make sure you have 10 minutes of privacy to read it.
It’s that big a deal.
It may help save us from ourselves by realising we all experience cognitive dissonance as a result of living in the climate emergency.
Image ‘And the Dead Robed in Red’ by Harry Clarke (1920). Downloaded.
I have become afflicted by a kind of muteness. It reveals itself in the following manner: the more I know, the less I am able to talk about it. It came over me last spring. As the days became longer, I became ever more silent. I know there was a time when I talked, and that some time later I lacked the ability. I know it happened in the spring, because I was in hospital for a while then, and when I came out I could no longer talk.
There’s a parallel between my hospital stay and my muteness.
I came down with a high fever, and a doctor told me I had the flu. But the fever wouldn’t go away, and I was just getting more and more tired. I saw a new doctor. “I’m going to run every test there is until I know what’s wrong”, she said. I got the feeling that my inexplicable fever was an offence to her. When the test results came back, she told me I had glandular fever and explained that it might take some time to clear up. All I had to do was rest and allow my body to recover. And finally, she said that if I felt sudden pain in my stomach, I should seek medical help immediately. “But it’s very uncommon. I’ve never seen that in my entire professional career.” She was in her early 50s and spoke with the complete authority of the expert. I didn’t feel particularly worried.
The next morning I woke up early with dull pains in my stomach. Not in any way intolerable — but quite apparent. And yet I hesitated, despite the instructions I’d been given. I didn’t want to sit in the waiting room of a casualty department, feeling the hours slipping away. I made breakfast for my children and thought that instead I’d just go to the medical centre when it opened. Perhaps the pain increased, or perhaps there was a moment of stillness where I could think more clearly. I no longer remember exactly what it was that made me pick up the phone.
I felt obliged to apologise for disturbing them. The nurse on the phone told me not to be silly. I arrived at casualty in an ambulance. I remember being embarrassed at taking up space in the hospital, as if I’d bluffed my way in. To me it was obvious that after waiting for a few hours I’d be examined and then sent home again. I was in pain, but it wasn’t dominating my experience of the world.
Being the focus of emergency healthcare means seeing an extremely effective machine from the inside. I know there are a lot of people with completely different experiences of Swedish healthcare, and I’ve also previously encountered the slow, long-winded nature of our medical system: the pointless waiting and empty diagnoses. But what happened that morning was completely different.
They didn’t put me in a waiting room, but instead on a stretcher. The nurses rolled me past people who I thought looked like they needed urgent care, people who looked like they were going to die at any moment. They took blood tests, did an ultrasound, and sent me for a CT scan. There was a calm, efficient flow of activity.
Now, afterwards, I reflect on that I should have felt more worried at the time. I should have understood that something was wrong. I should have been impressed by everything going on around me. But how are you supposed to feel when the medical system reacts more strongly than your own experience tells you to? My interpretation of the situation was based on the concrete experience of how it felt to be me. My bodily experience trumped the information being transmitted to me from the surrounding world. I observed what was going on with disbelief, and perhaps a certain amount of curiosity.
A few hours later, a surgeon explained that I didn’t need to worry, there was no danger. But I would have to stay in hospital. How long for? Until I could go home again. And when would that be? When they decided I could go home again.
Receiving two contrary messages at the same time leads to a very particular type of cognitive challenge. There’s no need to worry, everything’s okay — but you can’t leave the hospital.
My experience of doctors is that they love life, love healthy people and are focused on healing. But they talk rather less often about risks and how fragile life is. For the same reason, some doctors are reluctant to reveal why they’re doing particular tests, making certain decisions or prescribing specific medications. Finding out why I couldn’t go home required a fair amount of effort.
There was a shadow and the shadow could be a rupture and the rupture could in turn lead to internal bleeding. And if it started to bleed, it wouldn’t bleed just a bit — quite the opposite. If I went home and started to bleed, it was by no means certain that I’d get back to the hospital in time. The surgeon explained all this with some irritation in her voice, as if informing me of all this was a disruption to the whole medical system. She emphasised her main message once again. There was nothing to worry about. All I needed to do was lie still in a hospital bed and if I felt the slightest change, the slightest increase in discomfort in my stomach, I should press the alarm button.
And what would happen then? The same irritation. They would operate on me. The blood was ordered. The needles and tubes in my arms were there so the healthcare personnel could anaesthetise me quickly if they needed to. Essentially, I was just a piece of meat to be placed on an operating table. And by the way, I couldn’t eat or drink anything from now on, just in case I needed to be operated on immediately. If I got really thirsty I could moisten my lips with a damp cotton bud.
They moved me to a casualty department, put me in a bed and connected me up to a drip. Demonstrated how the alarm button worked. Connected me to a monitor to keep track of my pulse and blood oxygen level. I stared at the curves on the screen. “Rest”, said the nurses. “Don’t worry.”
So I lay still — actually I couldn’t do anything else since i was practically chained to the bed. They X-rayed me again. The battery in my phone ran out and there was no charger in the ward that fitted it. The world shrank. Every morning a surgeon came in and told me I was to stay another day.
Finally I was allowed to sit up and then to move around the room, still connected to my drip. After another couple of days they finally took the drip away and let me eat and drink again, and eventually I was allowed to go home — without anything actually having happened.
And then the muteness arrived. It stemmed from the fact that the medical system had given me the task of dealing with two completely irreconcilable descriptions of reality: You might die if you go home. There’s no reason for you to feel worried.
The scientific term for the condition that arises when somebody is forced to handle two irreconcilable insights is cognitive dissonance. It’s a state of mind characterised by surprise, fear, guilt and sometimes embarrassment. It’s not a nice position to find yourself in. The way out of it often consists of rationalising away one of the insights — the more uncomfortable one — or of suppressing it, or projecting it onto someone else.
In his book “Anthropocene”, environmental historian Sverker Sörlin describes our time in the following way: “It is both a success story and a period of breakdown”. If you could choose to be born at any time, but not choose where in the world or in the social pyramid, 2018 would be a good choice. Today, many people have a better time of it than ever before (in purely material terms). At the same time we are in a global ecological crisis without equivalent; a process that it’s expected will soon make large parts of the planet uninhabitable for humans.
This sounds so vast, so ridiculous, so incredible when you say it straight out. Incredible as in not credible. I instinctively want to soften and nuance what I’ve written. It hurts me to leave it unchanged. When I lay there in my hospital bed listening to the surgeon explaining the situation to me, I felt a sense of recognition. I recognised it from every conversation I’d had about global warming, about biological diversity, about the global nitrogen cycle.
The fact that development is moving forwards, that things are getting better, is a narrative that has its roots in the time of the Enlightenment; the time of the revolutions. Scientific, political and industrial; these three areas reinforce each other. This is where the thought is born that it’s possible to know and act better — that knowledge is cumulative. That there’s a line running from the past into the future, and that it’s possible to extrapolate. That progress gives birth to itself. This is a narrative that corresponds to our experience, which makes history understandable, which provides a framework for how we should act, which makes it possible to relate to the future.
Against this idea of progress there is a newly born insight that we are hollowing out the ground we stand on, that as a species we are destroying the foundation of our own existence. It’s common for anyone pointing this out to talk about progress as a construct; a narrative or a myth. This is very unfortunate. Concepts such as ‘myth’ or ‘narrative’ aren’t merely intellectual tools, they are also rhetoric, and rhetoric says that progress and development are an incorrect description of the world we live in. Progress or catastrophe. We instinctively want to reject one of these descriptions. The complication is exactly as Sörlin describes it: that our time is characterised by both success and breakdown, not that one of the descriptions is true and the other false.
It’s a terrifying balancing act. Anyone who takes the threat seriously is just as sensitive to dissonance as anyone who clings to progress. Neither wants to find themselves in the discomfort that dissonance leads to.
If there is an essentially different narrative, a framework that’s not about progress, it isn’t a doomsday narrative so much as a statement of our almost total dependence on our surroundings. We are part of an incredibly sensitive ecosystem and there’s no way to take ourselves out of this complex relationship of dependency. Since Descartes’ day, the idea of progress has been closely linked with the control of body and nature, of matter and energy. These are two narratives that don’t seem to be compatible. Reason says that one of these narratives must be false, that one of them must be discarded. The challenge lies in the fact that both of them can be true, but that our consciousness is not equipped to handle this. Evolution hasn’t prepared us for it.
So when the medical staff inserted needles into my arms, when they pushed me along on a stretcher to get a CT scan, I didn’t feel worried, despite my reason registering and assessing what was going on around me. Despite the fact that I understood what was going on. The experience of my body, the experience of my world, my experience of being me, came before all reasoned arguments. I didn’t feel I was in danger. I didn’t feel a level of pain that could justify the doctors’ actions. I didn’t experience any threat, despite my reason being able to draw the conclusion that there was a threat — I didn’t feel any worry. This was my internal dissonance, and I recognise it from so many conversations I’ve had about climate change. At lunch, on the commuter train… everywhere. When what I say can’t be reconciled with what the other person experiences.
The people I talk to aren’t idiots. On the contrary, they can keep two thoughts in their heads, they’re able to see that two courses of events can be parallel, that what creates prosperity also erodes what it’s based on. That situations can be ambiguous — alternately symbiotic and parasitic. And yet I can’t talk about this. The discomfort is too great.
There are people who choose the doomsday narrative because they feel it’s a more correct description of reality. The price they pay is to some extent no longer being able to take part in society. It’s impossible to be happy about your colleagues’ foreign holidays or consumption. You can no longer view increased growth as something desirable and natural. The things that form the foundation of your interaction with other people no longer function. For these people, playing along means a betrayal of themselves. But speaking up makes them so difficult that those around them can’t stand to have them near. There are also many people who wholeheartedly live the progress narrative, who reject every threatening signal or feel confident that every threat can be conquered, just like everything else that once stood in the way of progress. But the majority of us live with our heads down, trying to find a way to avoid the discomfort.
I was discharged with a list of instructions. Don’t do anything too strenuous. Avoid activities with a risk of falling or hitting your body. Don’t lift heavy weights. As if I would have tried. I could just about cope with dragging myself up the stairs to my bedroom.
At home I lay on the living room sofa and thought that it should be possible to use this insight, this bodily, contradictory experience. I was already familiar with the term cognitive dissonance, but the term had no concrete anchor for me. At the hospital, I was given exactly that: an anchor point.
I’m writing this a year later. I still have the notes and comments I wrote for this text; fossils from the period immediately after my hospital stay. I work with them. They act as a mirror in which my bodily experience meets my experience of the society I live in. Is it working? I don’t know. When I began to write this essay it was winter. An unusually late, cold and snowy winter, following a period with an unusually high amount of rain. Now, as I finish the text, an extreme heatwave has just finished. Around me people are talking worriedly about the heat, only to go back in the next instant to discussing their holiday plans and renovation projects. We move in and out of these two major narratives, but never stop in the place where they meet. We don’t stop in the dissonance.
Several years ago in his book “Collapse”, David Jonstad wrote that many of the people living through the fall of the Roman Empire never realised that the empire was collapsing. The process was too drawn out, and it consisted of such a vast number of movements forwards and backwards, like waves moving up and down a beach. But on a more basic level the experience of collapse was also in conflict with the foundation of the Roman view of the world — in Rome it simply wasn’t possible to imagine a world that wasn’t dominated by Rome. And that’s not so surprising, really. Rome was a victory machine, a wonder of infrastructure and military domination that lasted more than 700 years. Our cultural framework — our inheritance from the Enlightenment — is only half as old, but still dominates our thinking. Therese Uddenfeldt touches on the same subject in her book “The Free Lunch”, which has the wonderful subtitle “Or why it’s so difficult to understand that everything comes to an end”. Why is it so difficult to even imagine something can be different to what we’re used to?
The fact that we flee from dissonance means our experience of the world is truncated. Something significant is removed — stolen from us. We lose the ability to clearly see how the world is changing around us. Anyone who can’t take in both movements is unable to fully experience the current moment, and is instead relegated to a before and after. Instead of seeing how the perspectives are woven together we are thrown between them, back and forth. And then suddenly one of the perspectives cracks and it feels as if we’ve always lived in a single narrative. I can see that in myself, in what I perceive to be a before and after. I can feel it in my surroundings, how we unconsciously move around such a point; a point that we have perhaps already passed but not yet succeeded in capturing in the spotlight.
I lay in my hospital bed and was monitored by a system that had grown out of the idea of progress. Medical skills that would have once been considered magic were available to me, just ready to spring into action. And yet simultaneously the same system was undermining my living conditions, eroding them like acid rain or like a rising sea wears away the beach.
It’s taken a year to give birth to this text. A year in which I essentially haven’t talked to anyone about the environment, sustainability or ecology. A year in which the discomfort I experienced was so strong that I became paralysed and silent. This is an attempt to break that silence.
The experience of dissonance gives rise to feelings of helplessness and paralysis, but shying away from what we encounter in the dissonance between success and catastrophe also makes us helpless and paralysed. We lose our ability to see and think clearly. As a society, as individuals, in our most private spheres where we are naked and alone. In the moment, the difference is subtle, easy to miss — but in actual fact it’s enormous. It isn’t the news that you have a disease that kills you. It isn’t the news that you’re out of danger that saves you.
Written by: Jonatan Olofsgård
Translated by: Jane Davis
This is a translation of the original article for the web publication ‘Poros’. Poros is a Swedish online essay journal, launched in 2015.
Web site: https://www.porostidskrift.se #4 2018. Original post here.
Facts about the author
Jonatan Olofsgård (born 1983) lives in Skurup, near Malmö in southern Sweden. His writing is an exploration of the links between culture, nature and technology.
Press link for more: Medium.com
The Liberal National Party are really out of touch with the Australian people.
Warren Entsch Member for Leichhardt
A speech The LNP Member for Leichhardt gave on the 18th of June 2018.
MR ENTSCH: (Leichhardt) (11:32): There’s no doubt about it; the Great Barrier Reef is the greatest living natural wonder on our planet, and I’m fortunate enough to represent a very large portion of that natural wonder, a very significant amount of which the previous speaker was talking about in relation to the impacts of bleaching.
Rather than just having read some of the stuff that you see being released by the nay-sayers,
I actually have a lot of experience on the ground.
A lot of my businesses are heavily reliant on the health of the Barrier Reef.
It doesn’t do anybody any favours, neither us as managers nor businesses that rely on it, when you get this nonsense that’s being continually perpetuated by groups that are out there pushing their own agendas.
They’re creating very, very colourful videos about the fact that the reef is dying, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Warren Entsch: But they’re doing it, playing to their own audiences.
I tell you now, they would never, ever play those videos up in my electorate, because we know the facts.
Films like “Chasing Coral” are shown regularly in Cairns and are always well attended
I invite Warren Entsch to attend the next screening on the 24th of October.
You’ve got the likes of the Australian Conservation Foundation, the Wilderness Society, the WWF and others pushing these things.
The whole thing looks more like a fundraising campaign, because they’re playing to very gullible audiences in metropolitan areas, most of whom have never, ever seen and do not understand the facts relating to the reef.
But they do it as a very effective fundraiser, as they race out there with their underpants on the outside and capes on, saying, ‘We’re going to save the reef.’
The reef does not require saving.
It requires very good management.
We are seen already as the best reef managers in the world, and it’s important that we continue to be the best reef managers in the world.
I say that because I have a real strong interest in the reef, as does my electorate.
More than 64,000 jobs and about $6.4 billion of our economy—a very significant part of our economy—are reliant on a healthy reef.
It’s the biggest economic driver in my electorate; it’s one of the biggest employers in my electorate.
I have to say I get very, very angry when I see these groups out there constantly talking the reef down.
They can be talking about the challenges that we have, certainly.
We talk about coral bleaching—it’s not something we do here in Australia that causes the coral bleaching.
It comes from hot currents that come across the waters from South America.
Coal is projected to emerge as Australia’s largest export earner, generating $58.1 billion for the 2018-19 financial year.
It has been forecast to overtake iron ore, which has been estimated to register $57.7 billion in 2018-19.
Coal is expected to hit its highest annual level ever in 2017-18, where it is forecast to take home an earning of $60.2 billion, made up of $37.5 billion (or 182 million tonnes) worth of metallurgical coal, and $22.7 billion (or 200.5Mt) worth of thermal coal..
Australia exports coal to the world.
Coal burning anywhere causes global warming everywhere.
It’s what happens in China, in India, in the US, in the Northern Hemisphere, that impacts on that.
We should be making noises about it, but we’re doing a hell of a lot of good work here in Australia mitigating those challenges.
We’re not able to stop it, until they start dealing with climate change issues in the Northern Hemisphere, where our large polluters are, but we certainly can help to manage it and show others.
We’re doing that by getting heat-resistant corals.
This is some of the work that’s been done from the $444 billion—close to half a billion—that’s been recently announced.
I also noticed that there was some criticism regarding the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
The foundation is a very credible organisation.
It’s highly respected and has had an outstanding history in relation to the handling of government funds.
It’s not going to be spending the $444 million; that money will be disbursed out to those wonderful people that are doing the crown-of-thorns starfish work and a whole range of other credible organisations.
The foundation is basically just holding that money and dispensing it out to others, and it’s certainly more capable to do that than most.
It’s very unfair and unreasonable that it should be criticised—it’s a highly reputable not-for-profit organisation.
I think it makes a lot of sense that it’s able to do that.
I just want to say again that we have to be very, very careful when criticising.
Every time we start criticising, we’re talking it down, and we are then allowing others to make assumptions that what is being published is true; it is not.
We are great reef managers.
People come looking to us for advice from around the world.
A lot of the campaigns out there against the reef are actually campaigns against fossil fuel, and they see the reef as collateral damage.
I applaud the work that we’ve done, and let’s continue to make sure that we do so.
Press link for more: Warren Entsch
Local tourism operators see the reef every day they see the coral bleaching every day.
This is an article that was in today’s Cairns Post.
Laura Pritchard is 2017 Cairns Business Club Small Business woman of the year.
150 Tourism Operators in Cairns have signed the Australian Maritime Conservation Society’s Reef Climate Declaration calling on the Federal Government to rapidly phase out mining and burning coal and other fossil fuels.
The Liberal National Party claim they represent small business.
In fact they represent big business
The Australian government has backed coal-fired power, despite the recommendations of a major report on climate change.
Phasing out coal is considered crucial to limiting global warming to within 1.5C, as set out in the UN report released yesterday.
Australia’s deputy prime minister has said the country should “absolutely” continue to use and exploit its coal.
But China remains the world’s biggest coal consumer.
In addition, China has restarted work at hundreds of coal-fired power stations, according to an analysis of satellite imagery.
The Guardian reports that Michael McCormack, Australia’s Deputy PM, said his government would not change policy “just because somebody might suggest that some sort of report is the way we need to follow and everything that we should do”.
Australia’s new Prime Minister Scott Morrison loves coal, ignoring Australian Farmers already suffering from record breaking drought.
He added that coal provided 60% of Australia’s electricity, 50,000 jobs and was the country’s biggest export.
Australia’s Environment Minister Melissa Price told ABC radio that the IPCC was “drawing a long bow” by calling for an end to coal by 2050, and touted new technologies as a way of saving the polluting fuel.
Melissa Price your stupidity is beyond belief.
The climate report was produced by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It warned that “unprecedented” changes would be required to limit the Earth’s temperature rise, and predicted that catastrophic species loss and extreme weather would result if the target was exceeded.
It said that coal-fired power generation had to end by 2050 in order to avoid devastating changes to the planet.
The coal lobby is pushing a technology known as carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a solution. CCS involved capturing CO2 produced through the burning of fossil fuels like coal and trapping it deep in the ground.
The IPCC agrees that CCS must become widespread. But many analysts say that progress on the technology is too slow to allow the necessary emissions reduction goals to be achieved.
In addition, renewable energy technologies are becoming cheaper than conventional coal-fired power generation – a trend that’s likely to continue.
Meanwhile, China is reported to possess some 993 gigawatts of coal power capacity, although the approved new plants would increase this by 25%.
China’s central government has tried to rein in this boom by issuing suspension orders for more than 100 power plants. But the report based on satellite imagery suggests that these efforts have not been totally effective.
China remains the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, while Australia ranks as 13th biggest emitter.
Press link for more: BBC.COM
Stopping Climate Change Is Hopeless. Let’s Do It.
By Auden Schendler and Andrew P. Jones
Mr. Schendler is a climate activist and businessman. Mr. Jones creates climate simulations for the nonprofit Climate Interactive.
On Monday, the world’s leading climate scientists are expected to release a report on how to protect civilization by limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
Given the rise already in the global temperature average, this critical goal is 50 percent more stringent than the current target of 2 degrees Celsius, which many scientists were already skeptical we could meet.
So we’re going to have to really want it, and even then it will be tough.
The world would need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions faster than has ever been achieved, and do it everywhere, for 50 years.
Northern European countries reduced emissions about 4 to 5 percent per year in the 1970s. We’d need reductions of 6 to 9 percent. Every year, in every country, for half a century.
We’d need to spread the world’s best climate practices globally — like electric cars in Norway, energy efficiency in California, land protection in Costa Rica, solar and wind power in China, vegetarianism in India, bicycle use in the Netherlands.
We’d face opposition the whole way.
To have a prayer of 1.5 degrees Celsius, we would need to leave most of the remaining coal, oil and gas underground, compelling the Exxon Mobils and Saudi Aramcos to forgo anticipated revenues of over $33 trillion over the next 25 years.
And while the air would almost immediately be cleaner and people healthier, the heartbreaking impacts of climate change — flooding in London, New York and Shanghai, as well as in Mumbai, India; Hanoi, Vietnam; Alexandria, Egypt; and Jakarta, Indonesia, to touch on just one consequence — would continue for decades, regardless of emissions cuts, because of the long life of man-made greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere.
Some cynical news headlines will certainly follow the report: “Scientists Agree — We’re Cooked!” The headline writers would have a point. Solving climate is going to be harder, and more improbable, than winning World War II, achieving civil rights, defeating bacterial infection and sending a man to the moon all together.
So how do we engage in a possibly — but not probably — winnable struggle within a rigged system against great odds, the ultimate results of which we’ll never see? Forget success, how do we even get out of bed in the morning?
We could order in Chinese and lock ourselves in the closet, but we shouldn’t. Because there’s good news: We’re perfect for the job.
If the human species specializes in one thing, it’s taking on the impossible.
We are constitutionally equipped to understand this situation.
We are, after all, mortal, and so our very existence is a fight against inevitable demise. We also have experience: The wicked challenges we’ve faced through the ages have often been seemingly insurmountable. The Black Death killed off at least a third of Europe in its time. World War II claimed 50 million lives.
We won those battles — sort of. We’ve spent our time as Homo sapiens fighting what J.R.R. Tolkien called “the long defeat.”
Historically, we’ve tackled the biggest challenge — that of meaning, and the question of how to live a life — through the concept of “practice,” in the form of religion, cultural tradition or disciplines like yoga or martial arts.
Given the stark facts, this approach might be the most useful.
Practice has value independent of outcome; it’s a way of life, not a job with a clear payoff. A joyful habit. The right way to live.
Such an approach will require dropping the American focus on destination over journey, and releasing the concepts of “winning” and “winners,” at least in the short term.
As the journalist I.F. Stone was said to have explained: “The only kinds of fights worth fighting are those you are going to lose because somebody has to fight them and lose and lose and lose until someday, somebody who believes as you do wins.”
He added: “You mustn’t feel like a martyr.
You’ve got to enjoy it.” Or as Camus put it: “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
To save civilization, most of us would need to supplement our standard daily practices — eating, caring for family and community, faith — with a steady push on the big forces that are restraining progress, the most prominent being the fossil fuel industry’s co-option of government, education, science and media.
This practice starts with a deep understanding of the problem, so it will mean reading a little about climate science.
Our actions must be to scale, so while we undertake individual steps in our lives, like retrofitting light bulbs, we must realize that real progress comes from voting, running for office, marching in protest, writing letters, and uncomfortable but respectful conversations with fathers-in-law.
This work must be habitual.
Every day some learning and conversation.
Every week a call to Congress.
Every year a donation to a nonprofit advancing the cause.
In other words, a practice.
Maybe this approach doesn’t seem as noble as, say, our memory of the civil rights movement. But that era’s continuous, workmanlike grinding probably didn’t feel all that glorious then, either.
With history as our judge, though, it does. And we know what happens when enough people take up a cause as practice: Cultural norms change.
Think gay marriage.
Think the sharp decline in smoking in the United States.
There should be no shortage of motivation.
Solving climate change presents humanity with the opportunity to save civilization from collapse and create aspects of what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “the beloved community.”
The work would endow our lives with some of the oldest and most numinous aspirations of humankind: leading a good life; treating our neighbors well; imbuing our short existence with timeless ideas like grace, dignity, respect, tolerance and love.
The climate struggle embodies the essence of what it means to be human, which is that we strive for the divine.
Perhaps the rewards of solving climate change are so compelling, so nurturing and so natural a piece of the human soul that we can’t help but do it.
Auden Schendler is a board member of Protect Our Winters and the author of “Getting Green Done.” Andrew P. Jones is co-founder of Climate Interactive, which contributed climate scenarios to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Press link for more: NY Times
Probability and severity of global warming must be explored
By Graeme McLeay
6 October 2018 —
A United States court has again rejected an appeal by the federal government to deny the right of children to sue the government for failing to act on climate change. The kids, who come from 10 states, form a group called Our Children’s Trust and range in age from 10 years to young adulthood.
The children allege that the defendants’ actions and inactions have “so profoundly damaged our home planet that they threaten (our) fundamental constitutional rights to life and liberty”.
As one 17-year-old said, “it is time for climate science to have its day in court”.
In a similar case in the Netherlands in 2015 a court ruled that the Dutch government was negligent in failing to adopt policies mitigating global warming. The government was ordered to reduce emissions by 25 per cent within five years.
Is it time for climate change to be tested in Australian courts?
Photo: Jessica Shapiro
The Australian government should now stand accused of the same negligence.
Australia is among the world’s highest per capita emitters; our greenhouse gas pollution levels, excluding land use, were the highest on record up to June 2018 for the third consecutive year and are likely to continue rising under a business as usual scenario; we are amongst the highest exporters of coal and soon to be gas; we are unlikely to meet our Paris targets; and we have no policies to change any of these.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent claim that Australia would meet its 26 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 “in a canter” illustrates the government’s disingenuousness. What Morrison meant was that emissions in the electricity sector will meet that target. That they do is thanks to closure of some coal power and a surge in wind and solar energy. It is a different story in transport, agriculture and land use.
The WHO has described climate change as the greatest health threat of this century, a view recognised by the statements of the Australian Medical Association and other medical groups in other parts of the world.
Increasing frequency of heatwaves, bushfires, and weather extremes will seriously impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of Australians and the health system’s capacity to cope. The cost of natural disasters in Australia is expected to rise to $33 billion annually by 2050 and the health costs are likely to be more than half of these.
Canadian-American psychologist and academic, Steven Pinker, in his book Enlightenment Now, a paean to the values of the Enlightenment, those of reason, science, humanism and progress, writes: “four out of 69,406 authors of peer-reviewed articles in the scientific literature rejected the hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming”.
When pressed, ministers in the Australian government, claim to agree with the science. But their actions speak otherwise. Morrison, as treasurer, passed around a lump of lacquered coal in Parliament in 2017 in an attack on renewable energy. Energy Minister Angus Taylor is openly hostile to renewable energy and has campaigned against wind energy in the past. Separating the Energy and Environment portfolios was more than symbolic. It was a deliberate denial of the nexus that exists between the two.
The risks due to global warming must be viewed not just in terms of probability but also severity. In their recent report, What Lies Beneath, Ian Dunlop and David Spratt from the National Centre for Climate Restoration, Melbourne, write that the risks have been underestimated, the models used by the IPCC have been overly conservative, and that there is a real risk of climate tipping points.
A duty of care has been recognised by some, notably APRA’s Geoff Summerhayes, who has pointed to the prudential risk. In an important test case that has this week been put to the federal court, a superannuation fund member claims that his fund, REST Super, failed to properly consider climate change risk when making investment decisions.
Australia’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions have soared since we stopped the price on carbon pollution.
There are those in the military who understand the threat to our security from climate change. Ex-chief of the armed forces Chris Barrie described the risks associated with the loss of the glaciers which feed the great rivers of Asia, for example.
Suing the government for inaction on climate change is not a new idea and was mooted in Australia in 2015.
The legal systems in the US and the Netherlands are very different to Australia’s, but a lawsuit by the non-profit Plan B in the UK’s High Court suggests such an action may be possible here given the historical similarities of our legal systems.
Plan B claimed that the UK Government’s 2050 carbon target is unlawful based on the latest science and violates the UK’s commitments to the Paris Agreement. In July a judge blocked the suit. The judge agreed with the government’s argument that the Committee on Climate Change was still deliberating and that the existing 2050 target was “compatible with the Paris Agreement”. The plaintiffs are appealing the decision.
The urgency of the climate problem demands action. If Canberra remains deaf to this issue and to the 73 per cent of Australians who are concerned about climate change, then it is time to challenge them in the law courts.
Public lawsuits whether successful or not fill the important need to bring essential issues into the media and expose ineffective government action. Such an approach was effective in the area of anti tobacco lawsuits.
Cross-examination of ministers would be expected to expose poor understanding of the threats of climate change, the influence of polluters and their preference for retaining power at the expense of lives and future generations. As we see from the Royal Commission on banks, cross examination can bring change.
Will no well-appointed legal firm volunteer to help their children and grandchildren, and ours, bring the Government to account?
Dr Graeme McLeay is a spokesperson for medical group Doctors for the Environment Australia.
Press link for more: SMH
Super fund alleged to have breached duties over climate change risk
3 October 2018 — 12:00am
Industry super fund REST is facing a new federal court legal battle over claims it breached its trustee duties by failing to properly factor climate change-related risks into its investment decisions.
Mark McVeigh, a 23-year-old ecology graduate and council worker from Brisbane, has racheted up his legal campaign against the super fund over its approach to climate change, accusing REST of breaching superannuation law by failing to act in his best interests.
REST is the default industry super fund for many retail workers.
As a young person, climate change is a pretty big deal, says Mark McVeigh.
Mr McVeigh’s lawyer David Barnden, from Environmental Justice Australia, said the fresh allegations formed a “significant” amendment to a legal claim lodged in July, in which REST was accused of not disclosing enough information about climate risk.
A new amended concise statement, lodged in the federal court late last month, alleges REST failed to discharge its duties as a trustee to act with “care, skill and diligence” in relation to the impact of climate change, which it argues posed “material or major risks” to “many” of the super fund’s investments.
Former federal court judge Ron Merkel QC is working on the case, along with barrister James Mack, who co-authored an opinion with Noel Hutley QC late last year suggesting trustees must consider climate change risk to meet their requirements under law.
Mr Barnden said the legal action would be “watched closely by the superannuation community”, saying it was an important test case for how investors and asset owners around the world dealt with climate change.
REST told Fairfax Media that one of its members was “seeking clarification from the Court about the requirements of superannuation funds to disclose the basis of particular investment decisions”, adding that it had asked to meet with the member “on multiple occasions to understand his concerns although so far he hasn’t responded”.
“The member wants us to publish specific material about how we deal with climate change risk as an explicit standalone category of risk,” it said. “REST considers climate change risk as part of its assessment of all operating and investment risks when making decisions about what is in the best financial interests of all members.”
It called on the federal government to develop a national energy policy that provided certainty for investors and consumers.
Mr Barnden said his firm and Mr McVeigh were happy to meet with REST if “they had more information to provide”.
Mr McVeigh joined the $50 billion fund in 2013 when he started a job at Woolworths. Last year, he emailed REST seeking information about its approach to climate change risk, but was unhappy with the response.
His case was picked up by Environmental Justice Australia, which has run several actions exploring legal questions on climate change and investment risk. In 2014, it represented the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility in an ultimately unsuccessful Federal Court case centred on shareholder resolutions and climate risk disclosure; in 2017, it acted for two Commonwealth Bank shareholders seeking more information from the bank about climate risk.
Mr McVeigh’s first claim, lodged in July, called for REST to disclose information the member said he needed to make an “informed decision” about his super, including the fund’s knowledge, opinion and actions on climate risk.
“As a young person, climate change is a pretty big deal… you have got to start thinking about what the world is going to look like in 50 years’ time,” said Mr McVeigh, who will not be able to access his super until 2055. “It’s on a lot of our minds.”
Listed companies worldwide are coming under pressure from investors and regulators to disclose how climate change may impact their businesses, with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission last month finding that few companies were disclosing climate change as a “material risk”.
News of the lawsuit comes ahead of the launch on Wednesday of a report about superannuation, climate change and Millennials, launched by the Future Business Council’s offshoot, Future Business Generation. The report calls on Australia’s $2.6 trillion super industry to adopt a more sophisticated approach to climate risk, including by adopting new disclosure rules nailed down by a G20 task force headed by Michael Bloomberg, known as the TCFD.
It also comes amid heightened focus on the role and performance of super trustees following damaging revelations about the super sector out of the Hayne royal commission. REST was itself the subject of a series of open findings by counsel assisting, including that it may have breached its duties by charging members premiums for life insurance they could never claim.
Press link for more: SMH