Carbon Emissions

The Politics of a #GreenNewDeal #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani Demand #ClimateAction #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion

The Politics of a Green New Deal

The idea is simple enough: the government invests in green infrastructure and stimulates the private investment needed to decarbonize and modernize the economy.

The devil may be in the details, but following FDR’s original New Deal, what is important is the effort to innovate and the urgency of that effort.

Climate change is a crisis, our transport and energy infrastructure are decaying, and a national effort to invest in the future could reduce pollution and stimulate the economy.

We don’t know exactly what is needed but we will learn by doing―or, to quote FDR, “It is common sense to take a method and try it.

If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” It is a mistake to assume that the money spent will be pure subsidy.

Properly designed, the Green New Deal is an investment, not a handout.

The ideological mindset we are stuck in these days requires you to be either pro-free enterprise or a socialist.

What if you are both?

What if you understand the need for capitalist incentives but also think that health care, education, a clean environment, employment and opportunity should be a right rather than a privilege?

FDR’s New Deal was designed to save capitalism.

At the time he was considered by some a “traitor to his class”, but he instinctively understood Keynesian economics and understood that for an economy to grow, workers had to make enough money to buy things.

He also knew that extreme economic inequality that forced hard working Americans to live in poverty was politically destabilizing.

People needed a stake in the future. Parents will sacrifice to benefit their children, but if there is no chance that your children will do better than you, and you are struggling, you have no reason to support those in charge.

Climate change, toxics, contamination of aging water systems and crumbling bridges, trains, and roadways all call for investment in new infrastructure.

That could be the heart of the Green New Deal.

The jobs created could provide a bridge for those unable to adapt to the educational requirements of the modern service economy. As I mentioned in a piece I wrote in early December:

“It is true that the current Congress will never enact a Green New Deal and even if they did, the current president would never sign it. The proposal and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez will soon feel the full force of the right-wing attack machine. She is already feeling those broadsides but has proven to be quite good at resisting them. The proposal will be attacked as expensive and infeasible, but the key point is that the Green New Deal is now on the institutional agenda. Congress will need to address these ideas. Moreover, the level of public support for a Green New Deal will be high. Young people who feel economically insecure and are worried about the fate of the planet will gravitate toward these ideas.” 

In the six weeks since I wrote those words, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez has been called ignorant, unsophisticated and naïve, but she has proven to be one of the most talented advocates to appear on the political scene in quite some time. Already nicknamed AOC, with appearances on many major news venues and with a growing presence in the social media, neither she nor the Green New Deal show any signs of disappearing.

Ocasio-Cortez

The effort to delegitimize government intervention in the economy is intense, well-funded and will continue.

Lobbying is, after all, a thriving business.

Right-wing lobbying groups are effective in large part because they are not attempting to forge the compromises that result in government action; they are mainly focused on keeping ideas like the Green New Deal off the political agenda. When they can’t keep something off the agenda, they attempt to shape it so they can profit from it. Obamacare is the perfect example. Its complexity was a direct result of intervention by the health insurance industry. This seems to be the American way: simple policy ideas become complicated by the compromises needed to obtain a majority in congress. Campaign fundraising is well over 50 percent of the job of our elected officials, and so industry and wealthy interests have a magnified voice in American politics.

So how will we ever get a Green New Deal?

First, we won’t see it while Donald Trump is president. But there is big money in infrastructure―green, blue or red. And a policy to invest in modernizing the electric grid, subsidizing renewable energy, promoting electric vehicles and making our homes and businesses more energy efficient can be a political winner. Powerful economic interests and labor unions will support infrastructure investment. The heavy lift will be raising the tax rates on the wealthy to pay for it. America has gotten used to paying low taxes and living in debt. It will take real political leadership and sustained grass roots mobilization to make this happen.

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke are examples of the type of leaders that could bring about the Green New Deal. They are excellent communicators, and both have demonstrated skills in grassroots organizing and mass small contribution fundraising. The only force that can defeat the political money of the right is the mass mobilization of the non-right. We first saw this in Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, when his ability to raise small contributions through the internet defeated the big money dollars of the “Clinton Machine”. A Green New Deal will require at least five years of the same effort we saw during the Ocasio-Cortez, O’Rourke and Obama campaigns.

Tying economic development to environmental protection is a winning political strategy. Instead of focusing on enacting regulations and taxes that punish polluting behavior, we invest in infrastructure and tax incentives that promote environmental sustainability. The goal is to lower the cost of renewable energy rather than raise the cost of fossil fuels. It also ties environmental protection to employment. The urban sustainability plans such as Mike Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030 did exactly that at the local level. The idea was to make the city more attractive to business and new residents by setting and reaching a series of goals related to energy, public space, transportation, and climate resiliency.

The absence of specificity of the Green New Deal is a strength and not a weakness. 

FDR’s New Deal was a series of improvisations in response to specific problems that were stalling economic development. There was no master plan, many ideas failed, and some were ended after a period of experimentation. But some, like social security and the Security and Exchange Commission’s regulation of the stock market, became permanent American institutions. The Green New Deal will be very technologically dependent. We do not yet have all the technology we need to decarbonize. We are close, and with a little more investment and invention we will get there. We also don’t know the correct mix of public-private collaboration that will work. Advocates should avoid the trap of attempting to spell out every detail of a program that should be innovative and experimental and not set in concrete.

The labeling and sales pitch for a Green New Deal is inspired and a very important political development.

It will be a long journey to enact and implement a Green New Deal. In addition to its advocates in Congress, the Green New Deal will need a president committed to its vision. But the process begins with its articulation and that has now begun.

Press link for more: Columbia

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A Moral Call to Action on the #ClimateCrisis #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani Demand a #GreenNewDeal #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebelliono

If you just met Al Gore, you might be hard-pressed to know that the environmentalist ever did anything else. 

Al Gore

With a 2006 Academy Award for his film “An Inconvenient Truth” and a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental advocacy, Gore has seamlessly shifted from high-level politician to one of the world’s leading voices on the threat of climate change. 

“I enjoyed the years I spent in elected office and I enjoyed politics,” Gore told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But I feel privileged to be able to serve in other ways, and it feels like the right thing to do. I have worked on this issue for more than 40 years and more people are seeing the impact.” 

In March, the former U.S. senator, vice president and Democratic presidential nominee will bring his Climate Reality Leadership Corps to Atlanta for a three-day meeting to train activists on environmental justice and climate change. 

Gore said the training will focus on several key themes, as well as the challenges that the climate crisis poses to vulnerable communities, including how it is changing the Southeast, how fossil fuels threaten the health of low-income families and communities of color, and how clean energy can help to right historical injustices and create opportunities. 

“We are changing the conditions that have given rise to the flourishing of humanity,” Gore said. “How can we tell our grandkids that we are in the process of destroying the environment?

This is a crisis like we have never experienced before.

That is why I spend so much of my time training grassroots activists all over the world.” 

The event — the 40th time that Gore has hosted this kind of training — will also for the first time include “A Moral Call to Action on the Climate Crisis,” an interfaith mass meeting at Ebenezer Baptist Church, featuring the historic church’s pastor, the Rev. Raphael G. Warnock, and the Rev. William J. Barber II, a 2018 MacArthur fellow. 

The Rev. William Barber II is the leader of the Moral Monday movement that advocates for social justice. Barber delivered the keyote speech during the 48th Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.  Photo: JONATHAN PHILLIPS / SPECIAL

“The climate crisis, as many of us have said for a long time, is not a political issue,” Gore said. “It is a moral and spiritual issue for the survival of humanity.”

Gore said there would be a particular focus on environmental justice. And he argues that for everything we see — rising temperatures, flooding, powerful storms and wildfires — it is often less-visible problems, such as fossil fuel emissions and pollution, that directly impact black, brown and poor communities, which he wants faith leaders to address. 

“Too often, the climate crisis inflicts deep and disproportionate burdens on those least responsible for causing it,” Gore said. “We will succeed in climate action when we prioritize inclusivity.

Climate solutions must be fair and equitable for all people.” 

Warnock, whose church was once co-pastored by 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King Jr., said the environment is a moral and justice issue that civil rights leaders and climate change activists have just recently begun to find common ground on. 

The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church said climate change is a civil and human rights issue. Photo: Branden Camp

“Traditionally, the civil rights activists and climate change activists have not sufficiently engaged one another,” Warnock said. “That is unfortunate because climate change is a civil and human rights issue. And issues, traditionally raised by the civil rights community, that leave certain communities more vulnerable.” 

But there is also a religious battle simmering among evangelical Christians over whether climate change is a liberal hoax, flawed science, or an affront to the concept of human existence. 

They are being encouraged by President Donald Trump, who has rolled back many of President Barack Obama’s environmental policies that aimed to curb climate change and limit environmental pollution. 

And on Wednesday, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist Trump nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency, declined to identify climate change as a crisis requiring unprecedented action from the United States. 

“How can you not believe in climate change?” Warnock asked. “We are way past a period when we could be concerned about the politics.

Climate change is not something that is coming, it is here. It is way past time for all of us to get serious.” 

The event will be held March 14-16, 2019. The mass meeting will take place on March 14 at 7 p.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church. To learn more about the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Atlanta and to apply before the Jan. 28 deadline, visit https://www.climaterealityproject.org/training

Press link for more: AJC

More studies show terrible news for the climate. We should be alarmed. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani Demand a #GreenNewDeal #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion ignore @australian propaganda

Editorial Board Washington Post

ANOTHER DAY, another study showing terrible news for the climate. There is a danger that scientists’ findings are coming so often and sounding so dire that even thoughtful observers will tire of being alarmed. But alarm is the only reasonable reaction.

Last week began with the news that greenhouse gas emissions from the United States shot up 3.4 percent last year, a rattling reversal from recent years. Republicans who favor doing little to nothing on climate change often argue that U.S. emissions have been declining without more federal intervention. But it is fantasy to imagine that the pace of decline, let alone the even more aggressive rate of change the world needs, is sustainable without government action. The nation must adopt policies such as a carbon tax that would encourage economic growth without emissions growth.

Also last week, the journal Science published a study finding that the oceans are warming at a terrifying pace, 40 to 50 percent faster than the United Nations had previously estimated. The world’s waters soak up nearly all the extra heat humans help add to the Earth’s energy balance, and the consequences will include more massive coral die-offs, depleted fisheries, sea-level rise, flooding, mega-storms that pack more power and rain, and less oxygen in the ocean that undersea creatures need to live. Already, a fifth of the world’s corals have died in the past three years, a harbinger of the changes to come.

By Monday, yet another study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that Antarctica’s enormous ice reserves are melting six times faster now than they were between 1979 and 1989. Warming ocean water and deteriorating ice structures help explain the accelerating pace. Faster melting in the coming years means that ocean levels could rise even higher than the already predicted three feet globally by 2100, barring a change in course. Experts have more research to do, particularly on the state of East Antarctica’s enormous glaciers; the prospect of large-scale ice deterioration there is horrifying.

These findings, particularly the new ocean warming estimates, underscore a crucial point in the climate debate. Critics point to uncertainties around climatic observations and predictions, arguing that things might be better than experts’ median estimates suggest. But things might also be worse. Scientific uncertainty cuts both ways. By doing too little to respond to the warming threat, humans are effectively betting their future on the notion that the climate consequences of their behaviors will fall on the relatively benign end of the spectrum of possibilities. But they could also fall on the far more severe end. World leaders should be scrambling to buy insurance against that risk by investing in emissions-free technologies.

Instead, President Trump ignores the issue except to dismiss it, and even leaders who acknowledge the problem do too little. Future generations will find it unthinkable that the world responded so weakly in the face of such clear warnings.

Press link for more: Washington Post

Meanwhile in the Australian

Why does anyone read the propaganda in the Murdoch Press?

Reality check

Press link for more: NASA

Real climate scientists,

Air pollution, the greatest environmental risks to health says WHO #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani demand #CleanAir #ClimateChange #GreenNewDeal #ClimateCrisis

Microscopic pollutants in the air can penetrate respiratory and circulatory systems, damaging the lungs, heart and brain, killing 7 million people prematurely annually

Nine out of ten people breathe polluted air every day.

In 2019, air pollution is considered by the World Health Organization, WHO, as the greatest environmental risk to health.

Microscopic pollutants in the air can penetrate respiratory and circulatory systems, damaging the lungs, heart and brain, killing 7 million people prematurely every year from diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart and lung disease.

Around 90% of these deaths are in low- and middle-income countries, with high volumes of emissions from industry, transport and agriculture, as well as dirty cook-stoves and fuels in homes.

The primary cause of air pollution (burning fossil fuels) is also a major contributor to climate change, which impacts people’s health in different ways.

Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.

In October 2018, WHO held its first ever Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health in Geneva.

Countries and organizations made more than 70 commitments to improve air quality.

This year, the United Nations Climate Summit in September will aim to strengthen climate action and ambition worldwide.

Even if all the commitments made by countries for the Paris Agreement are achieved, the world is still on a course to warm by more than 3°C this century.

Press link for more: Merco Press

A #GreenNewDeal to Save People and the Planet #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #Heatwave #Drought #AirPollution now a #ClimateCrisis #StopAdani

by Nicole Ghio, senior fossil fuels program manager

Friends of the Earth

The U.S. Climate Report released in November and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released in October confirmed what we already know based on the extreme fires, droughts and hurricanes that have wreaked devastation on our country this past year: the climate crisis is here.

Million fish die in Australia’s Murray-Darling river system

We need a Green New Deal to prevent climate catastrophe and fight rising social, racial, economic and gender inequities.

At its root, the climate crisis is the result of an economic system based on ever-increasing consumption that pushes the earth beyond its ecological limits. This system has also turned what should be a human right — from energy to food to clean air and water — into commodities. We need to remake financial and economic systems so that they serve people and the planet, not the other way around. We must also account for the United States’ tremendous ecological debt to the Global South and its responsibility as the largest historical climate polluter to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide finance for people in developing countries commensurate with what science and justice demand.

23,000 fruit bats die in Cairns, Australia during recent heatwave

There is no room for the half solutions of the past.

We cannot allow the vast political power of the fossil fuel or industrial agriculture lobbies to advance policies that continue our reliance on dirty energy and unsustainable food systems. The real answer to the climate change crisis lies in changing the way we manage, extract, use and distribute Earth’s natural resources. We need a new model of environmental, social, racial, economic and gender justice that upends traditional power structures in order to build a future where everyone has access to wealth, equitable decision-making and safety. Below are Friends of the Earth U.S.’s platform principles to guide a Green New Deal. Linked here are principles from our international network across 70 countries.

1. Cut greenhouse gas emissions

  • Rapidly phase out all fossil fuel extraction and burning, starting with the projects and infrastructure that have the greatest impact on frontline communities and sensitive ecosystems.
  • End subsidies for fossil fuel projects in the U.S. and overseas, as well as investments in expensive, unproven technologies that extend fossil fuel and nuclear power use. These include carbon capture and storage and small modular nuclear reactors.
  • Put an end to energy waste through energy efficiency and energy saving, along with ending overconsumption by corporations and economic and political elites.
  • We must fully decarbonize our transportation system. We must invest in public transit systems that serve those who need it most and are fully powered by renewable energy. We must phase out vehicles with combustion engines and clean up shipping. And instead of constructing new roads, highways and airport projects, we must reconnect our cities and suburbs to reduce vehicle and air traffic.
  • Cut support for climate-polluting industrial animal agriculture (concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs) by shifting federal subsidies away from CAFOs and chemical- and energy-intensive animal feed monocultures and instead support diversified, organic and regenerative agricultural practices that rely on low/natural carbon inputs and that store carbon in healthy soil.

Concentrated animal feeding operation. Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
  • Shift public food purchasing and feeding programs (e.g., school lunch) away from carbon-intensive animal foods toward healthier, climate-friendly plant-based alternatives.
  • Sequester biological carbon in addition to — and not in lieu of — reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. This must exclude forest carbon offsets and other carbon sequestration proposals such as chemical-intensive no-till farming or ocean fertilization that pose their own environmental risks.
  • Reject the development, testing and use of controversial and unproven climate geoengineering techniques, including solar radiation management, greenhouse gas removal and sequestration and weather modification, which could have devastating impacts on the environment, ecosystems and communities across the world.
  • Implement federal and state mandates to drive and assure policy compliance with greenhouse gas reduction targets, and to ramp up investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable diets and ecological agriculture in line with the consensus of climate scientists.

There is no room for the half solutions of the past.

2. Transition to 100 percent renewable, resilient and just energy and food systems

  • Shift to 100 percent renewable energy. This includes major investments in solar, wind, geothermal and other technologies; updating our electrical grid; public and community ownership over power infrastructure; and the option for distributed energy sources in our homes and communities.
  • Enact binding laws to ensure the fundamental right to renewable energy for all, based on democratic and community control.
  • Switch subsidies and incentives away from climate-wrecking activities and massively ramp up public investment in ecological agriculture and renewable energy, both at home and overseas.
  • Reject so-called energy solutions that further racial, economic and social inequities, such as large-scale hydroelectric dams, which can harm ecosystems and undermine livelihoods; biofuels and biomass, which can be carbon intensive, disrupt food systems and destroy forests; or waste-to-energy projects (e.g., trash incineration or biogas from factory farms), which can impact health.
  • Reject carbon trading schemes, which can concentrate the dirtiest projects in marginalized communities, worsening environmental injustice and racism.
  • Ensure energy sufficiency. This means sufficient universal energy access — at a level that respects everyone’s right to a dignified life.

Image via Creative Commons.
  • Promote food sovereignty and climate resiliency by guaranteeing the right to land, water and seeds, and ensuring local and Indigenous Peoples’ control over their territories and food systems.
  • Recognize and empower the fundamental role of women in food production across the world.

3. Just transition with good jobs and worker rights

  • A true just transition must provide a framework for transforming our economy to one based on energy democracy, food sovereignty, worker and community control, and protection of the right to water, food, land and energy for all.
  • Shift to local solutions that make good on the promise of public ownership and cooperative control.
  • Public policies should enable community management of forests and natural systems that are the best way to protect biodiversity and promote ecosystem restoration.
  • Instead of an economy based on extraction and consumption where frontline communities are turned into sacrifice zones, we must foster ecological resilience to restore biodiversity and other natural systems.
  • Promote organic and ecological small- and mid-scale food production systems which support thriving local economies and higher numbers of dignified jobs than energy-intensive large-scale commodity agriculture.
  • Ensure the right for people to have dignified work and safe workplaces, as well as a guaranteed family-sustaining wage, hours and benefits. Protect the rights of workers to organize, engage in collective bargaining and undertake workplace actions.
  • The Green New Deal process must be transparent and include frontline peoples, affected communities and workers at every stage from planning through implementation.

Press link for more: Medium.com

To Those Who Think We Can Reform Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani Demand a #GreenNewDeal #Drought #Heatwave #Bushfire

Our only hope is to stop exploiting the earth—and its people.

A resident stands in front of a burning hill in Drafti area, about 23 miles east of Athens, Greece. (AP Photo / Petros Giannakouris)

Welcome to the future.

It feels like it, doesn’t it?

Like we have reached the end of something—of the days when the Arctic was not actually in flames, when the permafrost was not a sodden mush, when the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets were not rushing to join the quickly rising seas.

When the Darling in outback Australia was a flowing river system.

Perhaps we have also, finally, reached the end of the days when we could soothe ourselves with lies, or delusions at least; when we imagined that we were the only masters here, that we could keep taking what we wanted, and that no one would ever have to pay.

We are paying now.

Twenty eighteen was the year that temperatures scraped 90 degrees in the Norwegian Arctic; that permafrost in northern Siberia failed to freeze at all; that wildfires burned on the taiga there, as well as above the Arctic Circle in Alaska and Sweden, in the moors of northern England, in Greece, and in California, where they showed no sense of poetic restraint whatsoever and reduced a place called Paradise to ash.

23,000 fruit bats die from heat exhaustion in Cairns, Australia after record 42.9C temperatures

And where there wasn’t fire, there were floods: Hundreds died and millions were evacuated from rising waters in Japan, southern China, and the Indian state of Kerala. Venice flooded too, and Paris, where the Louvre had to close its Department of Islamic Arts, which it had consigned, ahem, to a basement. It was also the year the United Nations’ climate change body warned that, to avoid full-on cataclysm, we, the humans of planet Earth, would have just 12 years (11 now) to cut carbon emissions by 45 percent, and 32 years (31 and counting) to eliminate such emissions altogether.

Still, the weather may be the least of our problems. The fire that razed Paradise displaced 52,000 people overnight, forcing many into the ranks of California’s swelling homeless population and what passes for a safety net these days: free berths on the asphalt in a Walmart parking lot. Millions more of us will become refugees when a mega-storm drowns Miami or Manila, and when the Bay of Bengal rises high enough to swallow Bangladesh. Narendra Modi’s India is ready, and has nearly finished stretching barbed wire across the entire 2,500-mile border with Bangladesh. By conservative estimates, climate change will displace a quarter of a billion people over the next 31 years. Most will not be wealthy, and most will not be white.

We do know, at least, how we got here.

It was all that oil and coal that we burned, that we’re still burning. But that “we” is misleading.

It isn’t all of us, and never was.

As the Swedish scholar Andreas Malm recounts in Fossil Capital, his exhaustive account of the rise of the coal-powered steam engine, coal was initially embraced by a tiny subclass of wealthy Englishmen, the ones who owned the mills. They came to favor steam over hydropower in large part because it allowed them to erect factories in cities and towns—rather than submitting to the dictates of distant rivers and streams—giving them access to what we would now call a flexible workforce: masses of hungry urbanites accustomed to the indignities of factory labor, willing to toil for less, easily replaceable if they refused.

In the process these early industrialists created the illusion fundamental to the functioning of our entire economic system: the possibility of self-sustaining growth.

Machines could always move faster, squeezing more work out of fewer hands for greater and greater profits. After the Second World War, the same logic would push the transition from coal to oil: It took far less labor to get oil out of the ground and to transport it across continents, plus coal miners had an alarming tendency to strike.

From its inception, then, the carbon economy has been tied to the basic capitalist mandate to disempower workers, to squeeze the most sweat out of people for the least amount of money. For the last 200-odd years, the exploitation of the planet has been inseparable from the exploitation of living human beings.

This is why, though the alarm bells about anthropogenic warming began tolling more than half a century ago, the carbon habit has proven nearly impossible to break. Since 1990, when international climate negotiations commenced, carbon emissions have jumped by more than 60 percent. Last year, as the fires burned and the floodwaters rose, they leaped by a projected 2.7 percent. It’s almost as if someone’s profiting from our misfortune. And they are: Six of the 10 highest-earning corporations on last year’s Fortune Global 500 list made their money extracting or delivering fossil energy; two were automobile manufacturers and one—Walmart, the planet’s richest brand—relied on a system of globalized trade inconceivable without massive consumption of fossil fuels. Even on an individual level, the richest 1 percent have a carbon footprint 2,000 times larger than the poorest inhabitants of Honduras or Mozambique, countries that have contributed next to nothing to global warming and are suffering disproportionately from it. We already know well that the 1 percent do not let go of power willingly.

We are stealing our children’s future.

Nor will our political system likely be much help, even with our survival as a species at stake.
Politicians are not often good at thinking in planetary terms.
The system in which they function—national governments and international institutions alike—evolved alongside the carbon economy and has for decades functioned mainly to serve it. However enlightened their representatives may appear at climate talks, wealthy countries continue to subsidize fossil-fuel extraction—last year to the tune of $147 billion. In the United States, Trumpian climate denialism and Pelosian tepidity are two faces of the same phenomenon. Congressman Frank Pallone, who chairs the toothless committee that Pelosi resurrected to tackle climate change, announced that he plans to propose nothing more than “some oversight” of Trump’s assaults on preexisting federal programs, and that requiring committee members to reject donations from fossil-fuel industries would be “too limiting.”

Centrists continue to reassure, unshaken in the conviction that no problem exists that cannot be solved with a little technocratic fiddling. Just before he left office, Barack Obama penned an article in Science, contending that climate change “mitigation need not conflict with economic growth.” Wealthy countries, the argument goes, have already managed to reduce emissions without sacrificing growth. “Decoupling” is the magic word here. Imagine a gentle, Gwyneth Paltrowesque divorce between fossil fuels and capital, followed by a fresh romance with greener tech, perhaps a few extra therapy bills for the kids.

We need a global Green New Deal

But someone always gets hurt in a break-up. The techno-optimist dream holds together only if you hide the fact that much of the progress made by the United States and Europe came at the expense of poorer countries: As corporations off-shored manufacturing jobs over the last few decades, they sent the carbon-intensive industries with them, allowing Western consumers, at the clean end of a very dirty process, to import massive quantities of goods. The only year so far this millennium that global emissions have dropped was 2009. It took a global financial meltdown and more than a year of recession for fossil-fuel consumption to even dip.

For now, the petroligarchy is winning. Thirteen years ago, Hurricane Katrina gave us an early taste of the future they have built for us: a murderous, militarized, racialized response to human vulnerability.

Now we are living in it.

We know what their world looks like: abundance for the few behind walls and razor wire, precarity and impoverishment for the rest of us; endless prisons for endless streams of migrants, concentration camps by other names.

But there are other futures, other worlds as yet unmade.

We have only to choose ours, and to fight like hell for it—fiercely, with forms of solidarity that we have not yet been able to imagine. Solidarity not only with one another but with this planet and the many forms of life it hosts.

There is no way out of this but to cease to view the Earth, and its populations, as an endless sink of resources from which wealth can be extracted.

This is not hippie idealism but purest practicality: There is no way to preserve anything approximating the status quo without turning into monsters, or cadavers, and no way to survive that is not radical.

In this future we will need to keep our eyes open and learn to calm ourselves only with truths.

If other worlds are not yet visible, it is because they are ours to make.

Press link for more: The Nation

To Take Down Fossil Fuels, We Must Abandon Capitalism #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #ClimateStrike Stop Stealing our children’s future! #ExtinctionRebellion

Dahr Jamail’s latest book bears witness to the destruction of our natural world due to climate change.
Ritesh Chaudhary / Shutterstock

Dahr Jamail, staff writer at Truthout, has been writing about the global emergency of climate change for nearly a decade. In his new book, The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Destruction, which is being released today, Jamail shares his firsthand accounts of returning to beloved spaces in the natural world. He observes the drastic ways in which they’ve been destroyed due to humanity’s relentless burning of fossil fuels, and mourns over how many of them are unlikely to recover over the duration of human existence.

A million fish die in Australia’s Murray-Darling River System

Anton Woronczuk: In bearing witness to the destruction of the natural world, you write about the severe impacts of climate change on several different kinds of ecosystems and landscapes. Instead of The End of Ice,you could’ve as easily chosen The End of Rainforests, The End of Coral or The End of Coastal Cities as a relevant title for your book. Why did you decide on “ice”?

Dahr Jamail: That’s exactly right … we are in an age of loss, and the book could have had any number of titles. I landed on “ice” for two reasons. First, because that is where I personally feel the loss the most, given how much time I spend in the mountains, and where the idea of the book originated. Having lived in Alaska and spent so much time on glaciers there while climbing, that is where I saw how dramatically climate change was already unfolding back in the mid-1990s. The second reason I chose ice was because as we lose glaciers and ice fields, literally hundreds of millions, and even billions of people will be directly impacted by lack of drinking water, lack of water for irrigation for agriculture, and so much more. This is no small thing.

Record breaking drought in Australia

In your accounts about scaling glaciers in Alaska or snorkeling along the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, you reflect on how much has changed since you first visited them. Which was the hardest place to return to? Which was the hardest to leave?

All of it was heartbreaking, from what I see happening on Denali and other glaciers in Alaska that I have long-term relationships with, to the loss of the Great Barrier Reef. But certainly, the moment when I was out of the Great Barrier Reef, it was the last snorkel of the day, and time to head back to land, when my heart broke. It really felt like it was the last time I’d see the reef, and I was saying goodbye. I wept. That year, 30 percent of the reef died from that coral bleaching event I was witnessing. The next year, another bleaching event took out 20 percent of the reef. So, in two years, half of the single largest coral reef on the planet was wiped out from climate change-induced bleaching. That’s why I wept, knowing that was happening, and was only going to continue.

Dahr Jamail.
Via Dahr Jamail

I’m wondering if even more significant changes have occurred in some of the places you’ve written about in The End of Ice.

I could write pages about that. I was updating my scientific reports in my citations up until my final deadline for publishing, and even then, struggling to keep pace with the changes. Since then, intensely dramatic changes have happened.

One example is a study published in Nature [that] showed that over the last quarter century, the oceans have absorbed 60 percent more heat annually than estimated in the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. The study underscored that the globe’s oceans have, in fact, already absorbed 93 percent of all the heat humans have added to the atmosphere, that the climate system’s sensitivity to greenhouse gases is far higher than thought, and that planetary warming is far more advanced than had previously been grasped.

Thousands of flying foxes die from heat exhaustion Cairns Australia

To give you an idea of how much heat the oceans have absorbed: if that heat had instead gone into the atmosphere, the global temperature would be 97 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than it is today. For those who think that there are still 12 years left to change things, the question posed by a sea level rise expert in my book seems painfully apt: How do we remove all the heat that’s already been absorbed by the oceans?

Two weeks after that Nature article came out, a study in Scientific Reports warned that the extinction of animal and plant species, thanks to climate change, could lead to a “domino effect” that might, in the end, annihilate life on the planet. It suggested that organisms will die out at increasingly rapid rates because they depend on other species that are also on their way out. It’s a process the study calls “co-extinction.”

A common thread throughout your book is that the fate of our ecosystems and the many ecological sites you visited has been decided. This seems to be in marked contrast with mainstream wisdom, which says that humanity can prevent a climate-induced catastrophe as long as we make major changes within a decade or so. Why do you think this discrepancy exists?

Global capitalism, neoliberal economics and the power structure depend upon things continuing as they are. The only real chance at mitigation of the impacts from climate change that are now entrenched in the climate system, would have been to abandon capitalism and enact something akin to the New Green Deal back when NASA’s James Hansen sounded the alarm about climate change to Congress in the 1980s. A radical restructuring of the entire fossil-fuel based economy means those who have all the power today would be rendered obsolete. The current hierarchy would have to be obliterated. And so, in short, power never concedes power willingly.

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Are We Living Through Climate Change’s Worst-Case Scenario? #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion Demand a #GreenNewDeal

“We’re a lot closer than we should be,” one Stanford scientist warned.

Smoke and steam billow from Belchatow Power Station in Poland, the site of the UN’s 2018 climate conference.Kacper Pempel / Reuters

The year 2018 was not an easy one for planet Earth.

Sure, wind and solar energy kept getting cheaper, and an electric car became America’s best-selling luxury vehicle. But the most important metric of climatic health—the amount of heat-trapping gas entering the atmosphere—got suddenly and shockingly worse.

In the United States, carbon emissions leapt back up, making their largest year-over-year increase since the end of the Great Recession.

This matched the trend across the globe. According to two major studies, greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide shot up in 2018—accelerating like a “speeding freight train,” as one scientist put it.

U.S. emissions do remain 11 percent below their 2007 peak, but that is one of the few bright spots in the data. Global emissions are now higher than ever. And the 2018 statistics are all the more dismal because greenhouse-gas emissions had previously seemed to be slowing or even declining, both in the United States and around the world.

Many economists expect carbon emissions to drop somewhat throughout the next few decades. But maybe they won’t.

If 2018 is any indication, meekly positive energy trends will not handily reduce emissions, even in developed economies like the United States. It raises a bleak question: Are we currently on the worst-case scenario for climate change?

“We’re actually a lot closer than we should be; I can say that with confidence,” says Rob Jackson, an Earth scientist at Stanford and the chair of the Global Carbon Project, which leads the research tracking worldwide emissions levels.

Read: How to understand the UN’s dire new climate report

When climate scientists want to tell a story about the future of the planet, they use a set of four standard scenarios called “representative concentration pathways,” or RCPs. RCPs are ubiquitous in climate science, appearing in virtually any study that uses climate models to investigate the 21st century. They’ve popped up in research about subjects as disparate as southwestern mega-droughts, future immigration flows to Europe, and poor nighttime sleep quality.

Each RCP is assigned a number that describes how the climate will fare in the year 2100. Generally, a higher RCP number describes a scarier fate: It means that humanity emitted more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during the 21st century, further warming the planet and acidifying the ocean. The best-case scenario is called RCP 2.6. The worst case is RCP 8.5.

“God help us if 8.5 turns out to be the right scenario,” Jackson told me. Under RCP 8.5, the world’s average temperature would rise by 4.9 degrees Celsius, or nearly 9 degrees Fahrenheit. “That’s an inconceivable increase for global temperatures—especially when we think about them being global average temperatures,” he said. “Temperatures will be even higher in the northern latitudes, and higher over land than over the ocean.”

This scenario could still be in the planet’s future, according to Zeke Hausfather, an analyst and climate scientist at Berkeley Earth. Since 2005, total global greenhouse-gas emissions have most closely tracked the RCP 8.5 scenario, he says. “There may be good reasons to be skeptical of RCP 8.5’s late-century values, but observations to-date don’t really give us grounds to exclude it,” he recently wrote.

Even if we avoid RCP 8.5, the less dramatic possibilities still could lead to catastrophic warming. Jackson, the Stanford professor, warned that every emissions scenario that meets the Paris Agreement’s 2-degree Celsius “goal” assumes that humanity will soon develop technology to remove carbon directly from the atmosphere. Such technology has never existed at industrial scales.

“Even some [of the scenarios] for 3 degrees Celsius assume that at some point in the next 50 years, we will have large-scale industrial activities to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a very dangerous game, I think. We’re assuming that this thing we can’t do today will somehow be possible and cheaper in the future. I believe in tech, but I don’t believe in magic.”

Read: No ecosystem on Earth is safe from climate change

Yet not all data suggest that we’re doomed to RCP 8.5 or equivalent amounts of warming, Hausfather cautions. If you look only at pollution from fossil-fuel burning—and not from land-use events like deforestation—then humanity’s recent record trends closer to RCP 4.5.

That’s good news, but only by comparison: RCP 4.5 still forecasts that global temperatures will rise by 2.4 degrees Celsius, enough to kill off nearly every coral reef and soar past the 2-degree target set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

There are a few reasons it’s hard to say which RCP comes closest to our reality. First, most of the RCPs tell roughly the same story about global emissions until about 2025 or 2030. Second, the RCPs describe emissions across the entire sweep of the 21st century—and the century mostly hasn’t happened yet. Trying to pick the most likely RCP in 2018 is a bit like trying to predict the precise depth of late-night snowfall at 4:32 a.m.

The RCP 8.5 scenario may also become less likely in years to come, even if major polluters like the United States, China, and India never pass muscular climate policy. RCP 8.5 says that the global coal industry will eventually become seven times bigger than it is today. “It’s tough to claim that … that is a business-as-usual world,” Hausfather says. “It’s certainly a possible world, but we also live in a world today where solar is increasingly cheaper than coal.”

That’s part of the reason the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will soon expand its list of standard scenarios. Its next major synthesis report, due to be published in 2021, will replace RCPs with five “socioeconomic pathways”that allow for a broader range of futures.

Jackson urged caution. “We don’t know yet what scenario we’re on,” he said. “I think most climate scientists will tell you that we’re below the 8.5 scenario. But every year that emissions increase like they have this year, it makes the 8.5 scenario more plausible.”

Jackson published his first academic paper in 1989, just a year after the NASAscientist James Hansen first warned Congress that global warming had begun in earnest. I asked whether he thought actual emissions would ever come close to RCP 8.5. 

“It’s nuts,” he said. “But I used to think a lot of things were nuts that turned out not to be nuts.”

Press link for more: The Atlantic

An ocean of evidence on global warming is our cue to take action – now #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #GreenNewDeal #auspol #qldpol

By John Church

Over 90 per cent of the heat trapped in the climate system by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations from our burning of fossil fuels is stored in the oceans. With much less variability than surface temperatures, ocean warming is one of the most important indicators of the ongoing pace of climate change.

Two new studies published last week confirm the world’s oceans are warming.

The first, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, shows that ocean warming has accelerated since 1870.

The second, a perspective published in the prestigious iournal Science, reports studies that indicate the rate of ocean warming over recent decades is 10 per cent or more greater than the studies considered in the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment published in 2013, and that the rate has increased since 1991.

The updated observations are in agreement with the results of climate model simulations of the impacts of our continuing release of greenhouse gases.

These models show the ocean will continue to warm through the 21st century and beyond.

Greenhouse gases have a long life time in the atmosphere. Even if carbon dioxide emissions were to cease completely, atmospheric concentrations would only decrease slowly over thousands of years unless we discover a way to artificially remove them from the atmosphere.As a direct consequence, surface temperatures would remain elevated. As result of the oceans’ ability to store heat, they will continue to warm for centuries.

Decisions we make now about greenhouse gas emissions have long-term consequences for the world and Australia’s climate and sea level, and of course for the natural environment and our modern society.

Continued greenhouse gas emissions at a business-as-usual rate would result in the ocean warming accelerating through the 21st century, and a contribution to sea-level rise of about 30cm from ocean thermal expansion alone by 2100. The warmer ocean would be accompanied by warmer surface temperatures, increased frequency of climate extremes, and increased intensity of extreme rainfall events and hurricanes, with major disruptions to society.

The ice sheets are even more important for long-term sea-level change. Unabated emissions this century would commit the world to metres of sea-level rise over coming centuries. We would likely cross the threshold, well before 2100, leading to an accelerating melting of the Greenland ice sheet and a sea level rise of up to about seven metres. An acceleration of the Greenland contribution to sea level rise has already been observed.

For Antarctica, a warming ocean would lead to the decay of ice shelves and an accelerating flow of ice into the ocean, as revealed by recent observations of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The rate of sea level contribution from Antarctica is more uncertain but could equal or exceed the contribution from thermal expansion by 2100, and could be metres over coming centuries

Global average temperature is already about 1C above pre-industrial levels and we have already seen an increased frequency of coastal flooding events. Unabated emissions would see permanent inundation and a dramatic increase in the frequency of coastal flooding events, disrupting the lives of tens to hundreds of millions of people.

Urgent, significant and sustained mitigation of our greenhouse gas emissions are required if we are to meet the Paris targets of “limiting global average temperatures to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels”, and thus significantly reduce the impacts of climate change. Current mitigation “promises” are not sufficient to meet these goals, and planned mitigation is even further away. Every day we delay action makes the Paris targets more difficult to achieve.

The long time scales of the ocean means we will have to adapt to climate and sea level change resulting from past emissions. However, further sea level rises and other changes in our climate can be greatly reduced, but not eliminated, by reaching the Paris goals.

We should remember that sea levels were six to nine metres above current levels at a global average temperature about 1C above pre-industrial values.

Current Australian government figures do not indicate Australia is on track to meet our committed greenhouse gas emission mitigation target of 26 to 28 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 “in a canter”. Meeting this target will require the urgent development of an effective Australian climate policy.

Perhaps more importantly, this target is completely inadequate. To make a proportionate commitment to meeting the Paris targets, Australia needs to ratchet up our targets, as expected by the Paris agreement, and to urgently develop realistic plans to meet these targets.

Actions we take now will affect the lives of our children and grandchildren and that of future generations. We know what is required for significant mitigation and we have the knowledge and technologies to do it. What we require urgently is the will to do it.

John Church is a professor at the Climate Change Research Centre, University of NSW, and the first Australian to receive the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge in climate change award, for his work on rising sea levels.

Press link for more: SMH

Climate Change Is an Existential Crisis—It Should Be ​the Top Political Issue, Too #auspol #qldpol #Drought #Heatwave #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #StopAdani

By David Suzuki

Global warming isn’t a partisan issue—or it shouldn’t be.

The many experts issuing dire warnings about the implications of climate disruption work under political systems ranging from liberal democracies to autocratic dictatorships, for institutions including the U.S. Department of Defense, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and numerous business organizations and universities.

In 1988, when NASA scientist James Hansen reported to Congress that evidence for human-caused global warming was near undeniable, conservative politicians including the UK’s Margaret Thatcher, U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Canada’s Brian Mulroney agreed that action was needed.

In my home province of British Columbia, a right-leaning government, the British Columbia Liberal Party, introduced a carbon tax in 2008.

Now, as the evidence compels us to increasingly urgent action—the latest IPCC report says we have about 12 years to get emissions under control or face catastrophe—politicians from parties that once cared about the future are lining up to downplay or deny human-caused climate disruption and are hindering plans to address it.

The U.S. offers a sad example. When confronted with a detailed report compiled by more than 300 scientists and endorsed by a dozen different agencies, including NASA, NOAA and the defense department, that warned climate change threatens the American economy, way of life and human health, the president responded, “I don’t believe it.”

Here in Canada, politicians claim to take climate change seriously but reject plans to mitigate it without offering better alternatives. Some provincial and federal leaders are governing or building campaigns around rejection of carbon pricing, a proven tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s interesting, because carbon pricing is a market-based strategy, whereas the kind of government regulation that would be required in its absence is something conservative thinkers usually reject.

Meanwhile the Australian Prime Minister Loves Coal

To be fair, few politicians are emerging as climate heroes, regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum. Our federal government has some good climate policies, including carbon pricing, but is still pushing for pipelines and oil sands expansion. It’s even watered down carbon-pricing plans to appease industry.

Alberta’s NDP government has likewise implemented some good policies and encouraged clean energy development, but by promoting pipelines and the fossil fuel industry to appease a bitumen-beholden voting base that likely won’t support it anyway, the party is alienating young people and others who care about climate and the future.

In Australia Both Labor & LNP refuse to rule out opening the Adani Coal Mine

It bewilders me that so many people are opposed to environmental protection, to ensuring Earth remains habitable for humans and other life.

It doesn’t take much to see that we’ve screwed up in many ways. Climate disruption, species extinction, plastic pollution and contaminated water and air are all symptoms of our wasteful, consumer-driven lives, in which profit is elevated above all else. Prioritizing a relatively recent economic system designed when conditions were much different over the very things that keep us healthy and alive is suicidal.

Millions of fish killed in the Darling River

We can’t stop using fossil fuels or shut down the oil sands overnight. But if we don’t start somewhere, we’ll get nowhere. I and others have been writing and talking about global warming for decades, while emissions continued to rise, oil and gas development expanded and global temperatures kept climbing. There’s little evidence that governments are treating the climate emergency as seriously as is warranted, preferring to focus on short-term economic gains and election cycles instead.
As we head into an election year in Canada, we must ensure that climate and the environment are priorities for all parties. This costly crisis will bring devastation to economies, food production, human health and much more if we fail to put everything we can into resolving it.

We’ve seen major national and international efforts to confront serious threats before, regardless of the money and resources needed to do so—from defeating the Nazis in the Second World War to investing in science during the space race. These paid off in many ways, accomplishing their stated purposes and spurring numerous beneficial inventions and technologies.

Now, as humanity faces an existential crisis, we must do everything we can to push those who would represent us to truly act in our interests rather than kowtowing to a dying industry.

Climate change should be the top issue in this year’s federal election and all others.

David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation senior editor Ian Hanington.

Press link for more: Eco watch